A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Cutting Cable

I am not a big fan of commercials.

No matter if its for food, car insurance, or an upcoming television show, I cannot stand all that noise and blabber. The mute button and I have become best buds.

I also find myself watching less and less regular TV.

It all happened when we cut our satellite dish out of our lives.

Our Internet bill was getting out of control. Through the roof. Wads of wampum. We found our bills inching near $300 a month. And for what? Out of 100 or 200 or 500 channels, how many did we really watch?

How many channels did we really need?

So we took the plunge. We bought an inexpensive outside antenna that picks up 50-ish local channels, cancelled our satellite dish, and hooked up with our telephone provider for the internet. We bought an Amazon FireStick (although friends have bought Roku sticks too), ONE extra monthly service (we bought Disney+, but you could pick up anything from HBO to Showtime to dozens of other services) and saved over $100 a month while still riding the internet.

So what does that have to do with hating commercials?

I used to watch a handful of TV programs religiously — if I couldn’t watch it I’d record it, accumulating a big pile of sitcoms and dramas for future perusal. But now that I can’t record said TV programs, I find I don’t miss them as much as I thought I would. That I don’t miss crimes and sitcoms and variety shows and TV relationships as much as I thought I would.

If I really need a sitcom fix there’s plenty of shows available. I can dip back onto regular TV with my antenna any time I want, and everyone from the Golden Girls to Leverage to NYPD Blue are just waiting for me to binge watch on my streaming service.

I’ve also found that now that I’ve gone through the “popular” movies on said channels, I’m going back to watching movies on DVDs. We had a decent collection before satellite dishes and cable took over the world, and most of those I’ve collected are worth a second watch. Or tenth watch. Goodwill and five-dollar bins at retail stores fill in the gaps that come from missing first-time releases five years ago.

I also have found I could care less about the newest series and stupidity and fake laughter tracks that haunt the networks. Instead I am exploring the world of Chinese and Japanese ancient dynasties and the History of Rome and the Universe and what life was like in 1800s England. All on my own time, any time.

If you’re thinking of “cutting the cable”, do it.

You might find you have a lot more time to do the things you really want to do in life. Watch just what you want to watch when you want to.

And you don’t have to listen to blasting, obnoxious commercials.

 

 

 

 

My Life is on TV

I enjoy the new television season.in the fall. Dozens of shows try their best to make it to the evening line up. Most of the new crop is stinky. Some are merely okay. And some are pretty good.

Now and then there are some that hit pretty close to your life. And it’s creepy.

I just watched two sessions of Cool Kids.

For those who don’t know, Cool Kids is a new show about four “seniors” living in a retirement community who are sassy and a little troublesome. The most recent show was about one of the main stars (Vicki Lawrence) turning 65 and how she didn’t want to even acknowledge it. The foursome went out to a dance club and had a great time embarassing themselves before they went out drinking and met for breakfast the next morning in sunglasses.

65 and wanting to believe 65 is not old. And going out and doing crazy things to prove to themselves they are indeed as young as they feel. Which, in the end, was strained back muscles when they stood up and headaches in the morning.

Does that sound familiar or what?

I’m afraid I identify too closely with these oldsters. They say and believe the things I say and believe. They laugh and pick on each other and get sassy and throw parties they’re not supposed to throw. They fear getting old and being forgotten once they pass. The show didn’t get into grandkids or working past retirement age. Perhaps those will be touched in future episodes.

But what they did talk about and complained about sounded a lot like me.

Vicki Lawrence is 69 playing 65. The other actors are 62, 63, and 75 respectively. All within my age sphere. Their characters — and probably the actors themselves — have been there, done that. And so have a lot of us.

At this point in my life it’s great to see someone else portray my ups and downs on the screen. It’s great to see seniors being proud to be seniors. They may ache a little more and get tired a little more, but their memories of once being young and agile are every senior’s memories.

Of course, my life on the big screen will come crashing down once the show is cancelled.

But for now it’s fun watching the female lead talking about having a Peanut Booze and Jelly sandwich for lunch.

 

Watching TV My Way

It’s actually kind of funny that after 36 years of marriage (plus a few more added on for living together first), I have to re-adjust to being around my significant other.

They say absence makes the heart grow fonder. Indeed it does, but it also makes our shared time a confusing mess.

The last couple of years my other has been working the night shift. Not a big deal for most couples. Not a big deal for us. Except just as get into my girlie routine being by myself, he’s home an extra night and I’m thrown off base.

The first 2/3s of my life I spent every evening with him. Kids, dogs, family. Mowing the lawn. Doing the laundry. Playing video games. Reading books. Like synchronized swimmers, we did a lot of things either in tandem or complimentary to each other.

His work hours  these days are Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and every other Saturday night from 5pm to 5am.  So I do Japanese Movies with English Subtitles on Monday, Horror Movies on Tuesday,  binge watch series and write on Saturday, and watch dramas and tearjerkers and do Art Gallery pictures on Sunday.  I throw in a little pretzel housework between movies or chapters — it’s a little dizzying but it works for me.

You say, why don’t I include him in my pretzel activities?

He thinks I’m nuts already for the Japanese movie part. He thinks B horror movies are a waste of time. Breaking Bad didn’t interest him, nor did Stranger Things, both of which I power watched. I text, write, surf, watch, fetch and wash at my own speed. I eat what I want when I want, not fearing eyes watching me have a bowl of ice cream before bed.

Yet when we do spend the evening together and we’re not working on some “project” we crash on the sofa and…watch TV. I don’t care for the Ultimate Fighter or  the Beverly Hillbillies and I cringe watching anything with commercials, so I usually pull out my laptop for a couple of hours.

I’ve worked 64 years on developing this wonderful, quirky personality. Or rather it’s taken me 64 years to accept this wonderful, quirky personality. Either way, I like things my way. The pretzel way.

I’m sure my hubby doesn’t mind it either, otherwise he wouldn’t have stayed with me for so long. But when the day is done and the two of us are together and we’re not going crazy with grandkids or mowing or other lovely pastimes, I say —

To think I did all that
And may I say – not in a shy way
Oh no, oh no, not me
I did it myyyy wayyyy…….

 

The Twilight Zone

200There was a Twilight Zone marathon on television over the New Year’s holiday. It was a delight in its black-and-white originality. Like the original Star Trek, the episodes are pretty dated; stiff acting and unrealistic props make the episodes occasionally uneasy to watch.  But if you get past the technical blips of 50 years ago, you will see the beginning of real science fiction.

In 1955, Rod Serling branched out into television script writing with the TV business drama Patterns. Patterns earned Serling his first Emmy Award. His second Emmy win came a year later, with the 1956 production ofRequiem for a Heavyweight, starring Jack Palance.

What I didn’t know was that during the late 1950s, Serling fought the CBS network when they insisted on editing his controversial scripts.

In a television era today where the bloodier/sexier/bolder the better, it’s hard to imagine such censorship laid the early foundation of storytelling. Fortunately for us, instead of continuing to fight inevitable censorship, Serling turned from realism to the sci-fi fantasy genre in 1959 with the iconic series The Twilight Zone.

Side by side in the world with Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling was able to take the politics of the day and turn the truth into something real and foreboding. The themes that ran through The Twilight Zone continue to be relevant in 2015. Our horrors, our problems, may seem much more complicated these days, but we are not so different than those who feared the Cold War or alien invasions.

The real purpose of this blog was to read the “description” of Rod Serling’s leap to other worlds. It sums up the reason why writers write. No matter if it’s biography, science fiction, poetry, mysteries, or editorials. The reason we write is to escape into the “fifth” dimension. That world that exists beside us, beneath us, inside of us. Whether we can see it or not, the story is there. No matter where creativity lies, it’s waiting there for us. To open the door. To open the mind.

Listen:

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call “The Twilight Zone”.

Isn’t that ALL art?