2) Anyone recording a game has what lawyers call a "duty of care" to make that fact known when answering the phone. Ignoring calls is not enough. Some caller IDs now are displayed on the TV screen. Just seeing a friend's name—say, the buddy who taunts you whenever the Vikings lose—can be enough to ruin the day.
3) With certain games the recording party should have no expectation of blissful oblivion. When I saw a guy in a Bears sweatshirt at the YMCA during Chicago's playoff game against Seattle, I congratulated him on his team's commanding lead. His stricken look told me that he was DVRing it at home. Lesson: NFL playoff games, and other events in the national bloodstream, are essentially unrecordable without the benefit of a sensory-deprivation chamber.
In the end there's only so much you can do to shut out the world, especially that friend who knows you've recorded a game but who enjoys lording his knowledge over you. "I won't say a word," he'll promise. "Just be sure to watch the last 38 seconds. Amazing stuff." These people fancy themselves visitors from the future, traveling backward in their Hot Tub Time Machines with news of what's to come.
And so we play with God's machine at our peril. Recording shows for later viewing is what TV types call "time-shifting." It's a beguiling idea. But time-shifting, like shape-shifting, doesn't exist and never will. It's not nice to fool Mother Nature.
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For more from Steve Rushin, including his weekly column, Rushin Lit, go to SI.com/rushin