How to Set Up Your Home Entertainment System, Ocean's 11 Style

Since when did setting up a television suddenly become more complex than executing the plot of an elaborate caper film?

Yet that's what I discovered this weekend when what I thought would be a simple Swap Maneuver-- my housemate's tube TV for the new HD one I'd bought-- turned into a tangled, sadly Clooneyless remake of the Ocean's variety. Only minus the high-stakes payoff, rakish wit, crack team of rag-tag experts, and with 200% more cursing.

Otherwise, just the same.

For instance, in a caper film, there is always the use of high technology. Ziplines, cables and the like.

Well, in setting up the television, you wanna talk cables? I had cables coming out of my butt!

(I mean, not literally. As that would, even to my untechnologically-inclined eyes, be a pretty sure indicator that things were, in fact, hooked up incorrectly.)

But still.

S-Video, FR cables, RGB cables, HDMR cables, PDQ, LOL, and YMCA cables... All sorts of cool high-tech cables with initials going to all sorts of different devices with more initials, just to get the most out of the alphabet.

And like a caper movie, these different cables were all planned out in a big overarching schematic, to guide the step-by-step process.

The difference here is, where the Ocean's 11 team tends to work from one main, finely-tuned, well-timed plan, the Television People don't want us to be boxed in like that.

No, friends-- they want us to have options.

So you can hook the S-Video and the red and white audio cables from the TV to the DVD. Or the VCR. Or from the cable box to the DVD. Or the Wii to the garbage disposal. Or the garbage disposal to your cousin Vinny's power mower which has this really sweet hum.

Or you can use the HDMR cable and connect everything to your cell phone and the IMAX theater in Boston.

Or you can use the YMCA cable to connect the TV to the all-male review down the street's video poker.

It's really entirely up to you!

Now, any good caper movie has to have a safe with a secret code. And setting up the television requires a secret code, too!... Well, maybe.

See, in order for the TV to talk to the cable box, the instructions explain, it needs a special code from the cable company. Or not. But it might. But it depends on your cable company. And your cable plan. And your television model. And the number of planets aligned when the clock strikes 12 noon, only not your time, in the place of manufacture of your television and...

You don't know it, do you? The code?...

No, we didn't think so. Just pick a three digit number at random. Or a four-digit number. Or a five-digit number. How many digits you need depends upon the people who haven't told you the code in the first place.

Just give them a quick call... Their phone number is unlisted.

Also, in order for your set to work, don't forget to set it to channel 03. Or 04. Or a different channel which you'll need to get from your cable or DirectTV provider. Or possibly your first grade teacher if she is not, in fact, dead by now.

Got all that? Great!

Now you have officially set up your home entertainment system! Proceed to pop in the original RatPack version of Ocean's 11, sing all of Dean Martin's 14 reprises of "Ain't That a Kick in the Head?" and have a martini.

You've earned it.


Question for today: What was the most frustrating item you've ever had to set up?



Jeff said...

So you're saying that diagram is just a sarcastic mock up and not the actual schematic? It's kinda hard to tell, but I figured it out after seeing the PB&J cable. I mean there really isn't such a thing, right?

Damn... now I'm not sure again.

Jenn Thorson said...

Jeff- Would I EVER lead you guys astray by gentle sarcasm? :)

Claire said...

Just do what my dad does, plug the things in, but don't actually connect them. Wait until daughter or wife get pissed off, they try to do it, bollocks it up, call someone out.

Then said dad messes with it again and now the dvd player and telly do not talk to each other once more.

Jenn Thorson said...

Claire- So I guess you're watching static then on your telly at home, or completely movie-less? I could let you borrow my dad for this one. He's a whiz at this.

He actually coached me via the phone, sight unseen of my setup.

All hail Tech Dad!

C.B. Jones said...

2 questions:

A.) Where can I buy PB&J cables?


2.) are they non-toxic and somewhat edible?

Jenn Thorson said...

CB- 1.) Why at your local Radio Snack, of course!

And 2.) Non-toxic, yes, technically, but they do bear the following warning:

"May contain nuts."

ReformingGeek said...

Hubby spent hours with our setup. If something happens to Hubby, I will need the noose-shaped cable and we probably have one of those in the drawer/bag/container not labeled CABLES and crap.

nonamedufus said...

Holy cow, you've gone over the edge. First a cell phone, now a honkin' HDTV. Next NASA'll be calling!

Jenn Thorson said...

ReformingGeek- I totally understand. Just remember, call the GeekSquad FIRST before that noose cable starts looking appealing. :)

Dufus- Oh, I know. It's wacky, isn't it? A cell phone, a TV from this decade, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!

Babs-beetle said...

Been there too often! It gets worse each time something needs replacing.

Why can't they be like they used to be - A TV with one wire coming out that has a 3 pin plug on the end. True 'Plug 'n' play' of the 50's.

You had to move all around the room with an indoor areal, held at arms length, until you got some kind of picture though, and that was usually snow accompanied by a hissing noise.

Richard said...

(I mean, not literally, as that would, even to my untechnologically-inclined eyes, be a pretty sure indicator that things were, in fact, hooked up incorrectly.)

I'm not so sure about that. Judging solely by your writing I suspect that if your HDTV was plugged into your butt, the content would be at least 90% better than the schlock they broadcast most of the time.

Jenn Thorson said...

Babs- Ah, yes-- reminds me of the Mr. Bean episode when he gets a new TV and inevitably finds the TV will only play when he's holding the aerial a certain way, while completely nude and sitting in the TV box. Let's hope that hasn't been a viable option for your regular TV watching. :)

Richard- Though it's a scenario I don't so much want to test, I do appreciate the rather unique compliment. :)

Melanie said...

I leave it all to hubby. When we get a new piece of gadgetry, I do the heavy lifting and he does everything else. Sometimes he's really nice and explains to me how to run the remote too. After five years, I am now able, all on my own, to play a dvd.

Kathy said...

My husband constantly gives me the "if I die tomorrow, you need to know how to do this" speech. I only half-listen because I'm all "I don't want you to die tomorrow" and he's like "You're going to be sorry after the funeral when you want to come home and watch something on VOD with surround sound and I'm not here to show you." And I'm like "But that's the last thing I'll be thinking of" and he's "Look woman, there's going to be some point where you will want to watch television and if you get mad at the equipment and press all the buttons out of anger, you'll have no TV and then this entire investment will be worthless, so listen up!"

I still don't know what all the buttons do, nevermind the wiring. If he dies tomorrow, I'm selling the TV. My laptop is all I need anyway.

Jenn Thorson said...

Melanie- Well, after you've done all the heavy lifting your arms are probably too weak to plug in cables anyway!

Re: the remote, I recall writing my mom down elaborate instructions for working the VCR growing up, for the same reason. She never did quite get the hang of it, though.

Kathy- Snicker. Tell Dave to leave the info/instructions to you in his will. :)

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. I've never had much of a problem with all the wires. Did you ever think maybe it's just you? ;)

Jenn Thorson said...

RamblingDude- I ALWAYS think it's just me being dumb... until I have evidence to the contrary. :)

So next time I have a hard time setting things up I can call you for tech support?

(insert gleefully maniacal laughter here)

Lisa @ Boondock Ramblings said...

I'm gonna need a big bowl of chocolate ice cream now. Oh and this is nothing compared to my dad's TV. I'll get shots this weekend. You will be blown away by the confusion!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Ma, Gaaawwd! I thought I was the only one. I consider myself pretty much in 'the know', but when we got a jumbo flat screen TV a year ago, I turned daft.

Who knew that you had to have special cables for the 'digital' signal to work, and who knew that the TV could be used to control the sound system throughout the house? A TV used to be a strictly output device - a basic end-user gadget. Now, they control everything. At first I thought the Best Buy guy was selling us overpriced extras, but as it turned out you NEED those extras to make your multi-thousand dollar purchase work! UGHGHG!!!

I still haven't quite grasp the concept of all the new techno-bable, but what I do know for sure is that with digital TV, no one's nose pores are safe, and that when you turn your TV on...expect the lights in the house to dim a bit.

Jenn Thorson said...

Lisa- Heh, so did he set this up himself, or was this a combined work of his and Rambler's?

MadTexter- It's true that nowhere in these booklets do they indicate that the cables for setup must be bought separately. And yes, it's so weird to find the TV in charge of everything. When I was a kid, the TV only had ON and OFF and 13 channels. Oh, plus it came in this giant wooden table case you could out a drink and a vase on top of.

Now it runs the whole place!

Claire said...

I enjoy the static, it is how I communicate with those on the other side.



Jenn Thorson said...

Claire- Just don't get yourself sucked into the television.

Or, at least, if you do, don't go toward the light.

Anonymous said...

Now see, this is why I use my telly as a paperweight. I actually get some use out of it then.

And no, I resent the implication that I'm so technically unsavvy that I wouldn't even know how to turn it on (even if I could get the wretched thing to go).

babs said...

The annoying thing is that I have a collection of cables due to all the old connections. Am pretty sure all of them are not worth keeping and I think they multiple while I'm not looking.

I had my friend Christina hook mine up and I managed to swap a new DVD player into it. If I have to recreate it from memory... much beer may be needed.