Sunday, March 01, 2015

Showing You Up

     So it is Sunday morning, Company, and in the grand tradition of the American male I am talking to my television, despite the fact that it does not complete the conversation.  Well, okay.  I am yelling at my television.  The reason being is that I am watching a show in which a guy shows you how to do home improvements and basic carpentry projects.  Today he is building a custom barbecue cart to put out next to his grill, complete with wheels, a cutting board, a paper towel holder, and a spice rack.  It is streets ahead I have to admit.  That being said, it is completely, totally out of reach for 90% of the population, and probably closer to 99.7% of the people actually watching the show right now.
A spindle sander.  You don't own one.
     The problem with this show, and the bulk of how-to shows out there - be them car repair shows, cooking shows, building shows, etc. - is that 100% of them use tools that the average person doesn't have in their home.  There it is.  That is why I am yelling at the TV.  In making his cart, this guy has used both a spindle sander and a biscuit joiner.  Now let me ask you this, Company:  How many people do you know who own a biscuit joiner?  I know approximately zero. 
     This is not a rip on the guy who used one.  The spindle sander was the best tool for the job he was doing.  Same for the biscuit joiner.  Same for the cook who uses a stick blender or a cooking torch.  Or the mechanic who is using a gear puller.  These are all the right tools with the right techniques for doing these things.  But we don't have those in our garage or kitchen or garage.
     I understand - for all of you who want to be the devil's advocate - that in a large way these shows aren't designed to be instructional.  Most of the time, they don't ever intend for you to exactly replicate whatever they do.  These shows exist because people like to watch other people do things, especially things they can't do.  Maybe while watching the pros you get an idea for a new technique or tool that you might be able to use.  I am completely, totally aware of this phenomenon.  And all that is fine.  I do think, however, that there is another possibly unintended consequence of these shows.
     You watch the show because you are interested in what they do.  You like putzing in the garage.  You like to cook, or maybe you really like to eat.  So you watch shows about cooking or eating or putzing in the garage and see them doing all of these projects that you will never be able to do because you don't have the tools.  And you start watching all of the specialty tools and equipment they use in the shop.  And you see all
You probably don't have one of these slicers either.
of the exotic ingredients that they use in the kitchen that you would have to special order at great expense.  And somewhere deep in back of your mind, a door closes.  Your unconscious brain does the math after consulting with your paycheck and the amount of space available in your garage and your natural, God-given ability and your ability to learn new things and your time budget and makes the complicated decision that you will never be a woodworker.  Or you will never restore cars.  Or you will never be a fantastic gourmet chef.
     And there it goes.  There goes your dream.  So maybe there is a niche in there, Company.  We can leave all those pie in the sky shows because obviously they serve their purpose and we like them.  I am okay with them, I really am, even if I am a little angry that Rachel Ray can easily prepare any meal in 30 minutes because "she preps everything when she brings it home from the store."  Strange, I didn't know making a sous chef do it for you before the camera rolls counts as prepping it when you bring it home from the store.  Okay, rant over.  The point is that maybe, just maybe, we could have a couple of show where they say "This is how you can do it with the tools you have at home."  Which consist of a circular saw, a hand mixer, and six sockets.  You know what I mean?  I might not watch that show on TV all the time but I would be on their website EVERY FREAKING DAY.  Just a thought.  And if I had taken the time to Google this idea I am sure that I would see a YouTube channel or a website or two that brings this to fruition.  But is it too much to ask for a little realism on TV?

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