December 12, 2008

Words fail me

I consider myself to be a fairly effective teacher, and I think that means, in part, being able to explain complex concepts so that they are more understandable.

I am a failure. Let me explain.

They're making these flat screen TVs wider than TV. Don't know if you have one, or if you noticed this. But if you make the picture fit the screen, the people look distorted and flat. It seems to me therefore that the right way to watch most TV is to have the black bars on the side and leave the shape of the screen alone (4:3, I guess?).

I am utterly incapable of communicating this concept to my family. "Why get a big TV if you can't stretch the picture to fit?" they ask.

"Can't you see that it's wrong? Can't you see that nobody looks like that?" I ask, agog, as we watch the flat, wide people solving their flat, wide crimes, by picking through the flat, wide, sticky evidence.

They look at me like I've lost it. I mean, I'm no artist, but I think it's amazing that people who live and die by the CRT and the LCD can't tell that an image is askew. I just like things to look right. I don't mind the black bars at the top and bottom of How the West Was Won, and most people would agree with me. Why then is it so hard to understand that the black bars on the sides of the local news belong there, that the news is squarer than the screen?


Tom said...

The word "fit" seems to have failed you, if I read that right: "But if you make the picture if the screen, the people look distorted and flat."

Been reading too many student papers, I guess.

Our tv still has a "picture tube" complete with convex face, curved "corners" and slightly bowed picture edges. But we may soon get a new one, since we've got a big old tv cabinet.

JB said...

I made the change, though the typo is undoubtedly archived forever somewhere. I know I make these mistakes all the time, but I'm particularly glad you pointed that one out since the sentence as written was more than usually incomprehensible.

My advice with regard to the upgrade is to negotiate the aspect ratio in advance. I'd have put it in a prenup if I'd only known.

Rosemary said...

"We may soon get a new [TV]"? That's news to me! Hmmm...hope I didn't ruin someone's Christmas surpsied by reading Wordshed!

Rosemary said...

I, too, need to proofread more closely: that should be Christmas "surprise."

Michael said...

We got a widescreen TV this year. I was hesitant at first for the very reason you mention: at all the Best Buys and Circuit Citys, the screens distorted everything. It took some convincing for me to realize that the viewer can set the aspect ratio to the correct one. But some folks seem to think, gadzooks, if we have all that space for a picture, we'll damn well have a picture that fills that space, even if it makes humans look like aliens (or subjects of hallucinogenic experiments)