Okay to I'm going to try and answer my own question, and restate the real problem.
While re-creating the 'Visualizing and Animating a Spectral Waveform Vid', I was running into performance problems. I noticed that the icon of the 'shuffle1' chop from the video was displaying differently, than what I was seeing. A clue, I thought. It seemed displaying this node was eating up all my processing power, hence my original question about my changing how a chop displays it's icon.
I crawled through the video a dozen times and it turns out, after passing the audio-in to the spectrum chop, there is a critical resample node before the 'trim1' chop! The presenter 'very generally' glosses over it and goes straight to the trim node skipping over this important step.
It seems one needs to set that 'resample2' chop to 'new rate same index range' to cull the data from 44.1k hz to 60 hz. That alone solved my performance issue.
However, this doesn't really explain to me why the 'look' of one of my down stream CHOPs changes. Simply bypassing 'resample2' chop causes my downstream shuffle node to toggle from 'bars' back to a waveform or graph view. I'm guessing (!?) that touch is trying to be smart and deciding what view is best for the data - which may or may not include if the incoming chop data is time sliced.
Either way I'm not as bothered by the display anymore now that my machine isn't bogging down. Hope this helps other learners out there. In retrospect I could have saved myself some pain by downloading the tox file instead of hand wiring up stuff from the video.