posted by Matt W on May 23rd, 2012

Eugene Polley died of natural causes last Sunday at the age of 96. Most of the hundreds of millions of men he impacted over the years, didn’t even know who he was, but his many inventions make him a true icon in the lives of middle-aged men. But there is one invention that makes him rise to the top of 20th century inventors; Eugene invented the TV remote control. With few exceptions, I cannot think of an invention that is more embraced by the men of our nation.

(Editor’s Note: Multiple random sexist statements to follow)

One thing I think all people can agree upon is that men are better at the remote than women. Now there is the occasional woman that knows her way around a remote, but when the chips are down, I would always pick a man to navigate back and forth between the Abraham Lincoln special on the History Channel, a motocross race on ESPN 6, and the last quarter of the big football game without watching any commercials and not missing any of the game. While my sons still lack the overall TV show sensing skills I have acquired over the years (stop, that’s a rerun of The Six Million Dollar Man), they are light-years better than my wife and daughter. I can’t tell you how many times the women in my life have left the channel on a commercial when I could be finding out why robbers tried to steal our 16th president’s body. “My god woman, you just wasted 30 seconds of my life.”

A few years ago, my mother in law was frustrated that her TV didn’t work all that well (it was really old), but mostly that she needed 4 remote controls to make everything operate (or to program one of them to do it). We went out and purchased a nice new TV, and I went to the local cable company and upgraded her service to get a DVR. I set up her TV with 1 remote to power her cable TV, DVR, and DVD player and connected her stereo up to the DVD player so when she watched movies she could just turn on the stereo for full surround sound. I even programmed her DVR to record all her favorite shows. My guess is she has watched a half dozen shows on that TV (on a side note Eugene also invented the first laser disks so the DVD can by linked to him as well. Genius.) Anyway, every time I come into town, I flop down on the couch, turn on the TV and she rushes into the room and asks “How did you do that, it doesn’t work most of the time.” Well as I just pushed the TV “ON” button, my guess is it works just fine even when I’m not in town. I usually just say I had to fix it, so she doesn’t get too frustrated with me and my “Y chromosome remote control superpowers.” My wife and daughter are the exact same way.  One piece of advice that I have shared many times with my wife, that I will now share with all our Y challenged readers is, the way to get to the show you are trying to watch never involves randomly pushing 47 different buttons on the remote. I’m just saying. The more buttons you push, the longer it takes to figure out which buttons you pushed, thus taking the Y portion of our brains away from what they truly want to be doing; nothing. My wife  has probably thought about leaving me for good after statements like that, but as I am the only male left in the house, and therefore am the one person left that can use the remote to program her favorite shows, she puts up with my crap.

So here’s to you Eugene Polley, you are truly a hero among men. It’s because of you (and the fact my wife is asleep) that I can go upstairs and watch random parts of the 5 different shows that are about to start, which is the way TV was meant to be watched.

Thank you, and may you rest in peace.

File Under King of the Castle