Greatest Invention, Period

December 22, 2003

The following is not a paid endorsement. The author received no
gifts or services in exchange for this column. Not that he didn't
try.

Please buy TiVo this holiday season. In fact, buy three.

I say this because if TiVo--greatest invention since beer--were
ever to go broke, I would shrivel up into a lump of Limburger
mold and die.

Why? Because when you own TiVo--greatest invention since
Viagra--you kiss timeouts, huddles and 45-second close-ups of
Andy Pettitte's eyebrows goodbye forever.

When you own TiVo--greatest invention since the thong--you
instantly become the biggest enchilada in all of televised
sports.

Who decides what time NFL games kick off? You. Who decides when
replays and slo-mo will be shown? You. Who makes all sports
commercial-free? You! Because with TiVo--greatest invention since
Big Bertha--you become a human production truck.

With three buttons on the remote, you can record your team's
entire season. Screw ESPN. You kick off games when you want. You
can watch an entire nine-inning baseball game in the time it
deserves: 17 minutes. You just fast-forward through the boring
parts--and it's almost all boring parts. (Sorry, you won't get to
sit there for 47 minutes as Nomar Garciaparra adjusts his cup.)

Thanks to TiVo--greatest invention since Halle Berry--your days
of slogging through commercials are over. You say Michael Jordan
has a new cologne? Smell ya later! Can you hear me now? Nope!
They say you may have a problem-itch area? You don't care!

Do you realize how long it's been since I've heard one word
uttered by a sideline football reporter? Two years! This means
I've missed 1,086 breathless accounts by Dr. Jerry Punch, like,
"Guys, I just talked to Coach Bowden. He told his team they've
got to reduce the number of pulled groins this half. Back to
you!"

TiVo is a digital video recording service (like top competitors
ReplayTV and EchoStar). Your DVR receiver contains a hard drive
that stores up to 80 hours of stuff and makes the VCR look as
outdated as Fred Flintstone's blender. You don't need tapes,
times or a Dartmouth engineering degree to program it. TiVo is so
smart that it is constantly recording the last 30 minutes of
whatever you're watching, even if you fall asleep and miss the
only 30 seconds of the Dodgers' game that mattered. O.K., so TiVo
costs about $13 a month. You spend more than that on Altoids.

It's not just me. Joe Montana is a TiVotee. Tony Hawk flips for
it. Kevin Garnett, John Elway, Ronnie Lott, Brett Bodine--they
all gave unsolicited testimonials to TiVo! Normally, these guys
won't burp for free!

TiVo is such a joy that even if a game is going on that I want to
watch, I purposely won't watch it live. I'll rotate my tires or
catch up on my Wally Cox video collection while TiVo records the
game, then watch it without delays or interruptions as soon as
it's over. Do you know how much fun it is to go, "Running play?
Borrrring" and zap right through it?

Soon, you, too, will be using sentences like, "Well, I watched
the Dolphins on one set, but I TiVoed the Braves on another."
TiVo--greatest invention since chili-cheese fries--has been out
only four years and already it's a verb!

Oh, and TiVo saves more than sports. It saves relationships.

Let's say you're a guy watching the sports report on the 10
o'clock news. You only get five minutes, right? Those five
minutes are crucial to your emotional well-being and
fantasy-league standings. And just as Biff Hairspray swings into
the NBA scores, the wife comes up and says, "Honey?"

And you do the standard guy trick, which is to turn your whole
body toward the voice, while keeping your head facing the set.
"You're not listening," she says.

"I am too," you say, nodding like a sanatorium inmate.

Not convinced, she says, "O.K., tomorrow, you'll have to go up to
school and take Denise to the orthodontist and then drop her at
her clarinet lesson...."

But of course you're enthralled with Timberwolves 102, Clippers
98. And this is what you hear instead: "O.K., tomorrow Kevin
Garnett will have to go up and underdontist and then drop four
threes on her clarinet lesson...."

Then it hits you at about 1 a.m., in the middle of REM sleep,
that you agreed to do something and have no idea what it is.

But with TiVo, the instant you hear, "Honey?" you immediately hit
PAUSE on your TiVo, turn 100% of your body to your wife, look her
right in the eye, smile more earnestly than Billy Graham and
utter sweetly, "Yes, sugarplum?" And as long as she doesn't talk
for more than 29 minutes, you're golden!

Now if TiVo could just bring this technology to real life.
Roommate giving you long-winded recap of his Liza Minnelli dream?
Fast-forward. Pop quiz in trig? Pause. Lava-hot girl just licked
her lips at you at the pancake place? Save and replay at 2 a.m.

Telling you--greatest invention since the Barcalounger.

B/W PHOTO: JEFFERY A. SALTER

With TiVo, you can watch an entire nine-inning baseball game in
the time it deserves: 17 minutes.

The author could accept one of those cute TiVo key chains,
though.

If you have a comment for Rick Reilly, send it to
reilly@siletters.com.

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)