Sunday, November 13, 2011

Unplugged


Things are falling apart around here now that I have no television. TV always helped me get through the unpleasant things in life – vacuuming, dishes, bills, taxes, death. Even writing. I can’t watch TV and write, but TV would be the commercial in between paragraphs,or maybe my paragraphs were the commercials in between TV, not sure about that one.

When people permanently pull the TV plug, some say they see God. At the very least, they imply they’re suddenly part of the intellectual elite. And to that I say Mazel tov. If one can be admired for not doing something, that’s a club I want to join, because there’s ever so many things I don’t do. Not to brag, or anything.

Like ex-drinkers, ex-smokers, non-gluten eaters, and atheists, ex-TV-ers spend an inordinate amount of time thinking and talking about their specific area of inactivity.

If you mention something you saw on one program or another, they’ll interrupt in a state of near hysteria to say they haven’t owned a television for 2 years, 3 months, 14 days, 8 hours and 33 seconds.

Personally, I don’t think watching an old Cary Grant movie or sitting through every tennis grand slam has kept me from finishing a novel, saving the whales, grouting the tub, or polishing my nails. As to what I haven't done, the list is long, but TV can't take the credit.

Sure, maybe I’ve seen Once Upon a Time in the West some great multiples of once, and I've happened to watch It Happened One Night on more than one night. As to how many times, I can’t say. Like all of life’s sensual pleasures, it’s best not to count, else you might fit the definition of some unpleasant word.

Anyway, I’m going to get cable or satellite again. If I’m doomed for the next few months to unthinkingly search the house for my recently departed dog, at least I can find Morley Safer in the living room (or whoever it is still breathing at 60 Minutes).

But even though I plan to turn in my membership card to the sanctimonious non-TV club, I recently realized I’ve belonged to another for quite some time.

When someone mentions in passing the insidious practices and usury rates of the credit card companies, my eyes roll back in my head, I wave my arms like windmills, jump up and down and shout, “I never have a balance on my credit cards!”

I truly believe, with some soul searching, we can each take pride in something we’re not doing and how well we’re not doing it.

47 comments:

Birdman said...

Thanks for some chuckles this morning.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

I believe one should be able to account for a television for every 200 ft of real estate. TV, Siamese cats and pizza make life worth living

Margaret said...

With a computer, you don't even need to go into withdrawals! Just Hulu up to the bar and order a double.

Bellis said...

I'll add a nice Chianti to that list, PA. Karin, this is one of the best things you've ever written. I have 3 TVs and only watch them in passing but it's amazing what you can learn from a kitchen TV while waiting for the kettle to boil. How else would I have known that several Republican candidates think there's nothing wrong with waterboarding?

Anonymous said...

Mazel tov, bravo, and hear hear. As to my area of expertise, I'm really good at not blogging.

Desiree said...

Although I hated the ever-increasing cable bills the first thing I added once we moved to Altadena was cable. Would not be able to live without my weekly dose of "NYPD Blue".
But look where we are, as Margaret points out. Forgot to DVR Masterpiece Contemporary's "Page 8" with Ralph Fiennes, Michael Gambon, Bill Nighy etc etc, and found it online. Free.

I have been known to straighten my hair while "Lie To Me" streamed via Netflix.

No credit card balances? Clearly you're not doing your part for the economic recovery (wasn't that what we were told, days after 9-11?)

Bec said...

People think we're making some kind of statement or judgment by not having a microwave . . . just didn't use our old one but maybe that makes me part of some club. I grew up without a TV and it wasn't a cool club to be in when you're in elementary school. And, I'm a big fan of Hulu too - especially now that they've stopped blocking it on our work computers.

Terri said...

I have four televisions, but I refuse to break out my George Foreman grill when an old frying pan will do the same thing.

Paula said...

I frequently Netflix. Occasionally I PBS, DVD, & VHS. I sometimes also primetime but that often ends up with me feel icky in some undefinable way. Yes, my relationship with my television set(s) is complicated but, I find, necessary. I hope you choose well.

Paula said...

PS Tonight the Amazing Race is featuring a bunny hopping competition in [Belgium?]. The preview is totally awesome.

wv spilly
How spilly of me to miss that jump.

altadenahiker said...

As to the practical solutions offered here, there's a number of reasons why they won't work for me. Including the fact that I can't watch the slams in real time (so what's the point), and, as K and I have discussed, there's a visceral pleasure when you're watching an old movie on TCM knowing there's a whole virtual audience watching along with you, which streaming or DVD's can't match.

I lost the cable when I threatened Charter with cancellation unless they could offer me a better price. The operator said, "Fine, what time should we pick up your cable box?"

Bellis said...

We lived without a TV from 1969 to 1982 and I'm left with a gap in my knowledge of world events and people. I read the newspapers and heard the news on the radio, but what's lacking is a visual memory of the history of that time. That's why I'd never be without a TV again.

Wayne said...

I had the same experience KB.

We have two main cable providers and a handful of satellite providers. Satellite isn't an option for me. When I complained to company A about my increasing cable bills I got very little sympathy and was told my rate increases were helping provide more channel selection to the subscribers who were paying for many more channels than the basic selection I was subscribing to. I cancelled and went to company B.

The monthly rate is lower and the 6 month sign-up rate is a lot lower than what I was paying. The best part of the deal has been that I got a free PVR. Now I record what I want to watch and the TV schedule doesn't interfere with anything else I might want to do.

I think it's commendable that some folks manage without TV unless it's one of those 'holier than thou' cases. Then it's just annoying. Everything in moderation.

Shell Sherree said...

I've always felt a tad embarrassed about my TV watching. It seems to be viewed by some intellectuals as a lower form of life. But I find it a very welcome refuge and soothing distraction and sometimes, those aren't bad things. And sometimes it's nice to have a bit of white noise running in the background. Congrats on the credit card. I can appreciate that club membership.

amy said...

so.
i laughed out loud at your post.

i only laugh at the shit i write so this was a treat.

i AM one of those sanctimonious interrupters.

i will tell you IMMEDIATELY that i don't have television.
i will Definitely interrupt you to say this.

in fact, i do So Few things well and with persistence that whenever i belong to Any sort of abstinence club i am that feverish champion waving the flag of righteousness.

pretty sure it's only insecure angsty people such as myself that feel the need to interrupt what people are saying and let them know how incredibly smugly superior i am.

xxa

p.s. i DEFINITELY mention in the videos that i don't watch tv

Tony Van Helsing said...

I was speaking to a bloke recently and mentioned a programme I had watched and he looked puzzled at me for a moment then said, "Oh, is that something on the invention called television? I don't own one". What a knobhead.

Mister Earl said...

No credit-card balances for me either, Karin! And I dare not tell you the story of my satellite TV in public.

Anonymous said...

Talk it up, I say. How will people know what you're not doing if you don't remind them you're not doing it on a regular basis?

GG

Ms M said...

Interesting post; I enjoyed it thoroughly.

altadenahiker said...

There's nothing you can't don't if you put your mind to it.

Petrea Burchard said...

They picked up your cable box? We had to deliver ours to some effing store way the hell out east somewhere. We'd probably still have cable if there were options around here but there's only Charter, and Charter is the devil. You can ask the guy at escalations if you want to see our file. I had his direct phone number but it didn't help.

Whew. I guess I'm still mad.

Do you think if you asked the other members they'd let me into the no credit card balance club?

Banjo52 said...

I’m glad to hear someone else owning up to the pleasures of TV. These days, The Box is somewhat mindlessly slammed. Yes, I watch too much, but with cable, DVR, and such, there’s plenty of quality stuff available, and I do need a break now and then--from the deep precision of my self-analysis and from my orgies with Dostoevsky. The No-TVers I’ve known are, as you say, the first to let you know that they’re No-TVers, and their smugness about it is undeniable. And odd.

Petrea Burchard said...

I'm smug. I'm smug about not missing the crap. I admit to missing the good travel shows, Masterpiece Theater, old movies, the Daily Show and great documentaries ("The Singing Dogs of Papua New Guinea" is a fond memory).

I tried watching Hulu the other day -- it's good mindless entertainment while ironing. I chose an Emmy-award winning show starring an actor I like. I've heard great things about this show. I couldn't believe how awful it was.

But the Daily Show is on Hulu, thank goodness.

Rob said...

Just say no to drugs.

TV is a depressant/stimulant-like drug. The high we get from viewing a 38 minute program in an hour long time slot of The Amazing Survivor Idol House Bride can be depressing entertainment. But those 22 minutes of ear splitting volumeized commercials can stimulate you back from a catatonic stupor.

Trish said...

Forgive me, for I have sinned. I'm almost lost without a TV, guess it was my babsitter when growing up.

However, I have *some* couth. "Reality" TV is a no-no. Period. Cartoons (adult or otherwise) are off the docket too--my mother refused to let me watch more than Speed Racer as a kid, so I never developed a taste for them. I too get the dazed look at people when they get all worked up because "Tina did NOT do that to John last night on XYZ reality show". I get all sorts of attitude when I say I don't watch the "competitions" where people just put others down (competitors or judges), instead of elevating themselves to a better place.

Years ago we dropped the only cable option we had because every day they were interrupting service "to provide new and exciting upgrades" which just meant more cost to us. One operator had the gall to say "but we've been providing great service for 20 years in your neighborhood, what is your problem?". Uh, well, see, it's like this, I pay to have this shit pumped into my home, I'd like a chance at watching it. I want a credit for today's lack of service." I called back EVERY day. We didn't pay a bill for several months b/c of all the credits. I finally had it and told them we were done. Operator was SHOCKED I tell you, SHOCKED! We've been with DirecTV ever since, never had a snowy picture, or pixelated delivery and still pay less for tons more channels (and for me, more sports---who knew that Northern Central Iowa College had a football team?) than we did when we had limited basic cable more than 10 years ago. Still...pay...less...for...more.

I love Hulu, Boxee and the likes, but nothing quite like shutting down the laptop and zoning out in front of a nice rugby game from down under or a Masterpiece Theater!

CafePasadena said...

If unplugging the electronics means more time to plug into each other, then you got a money-making idea here.

altadenahiker said...

Four channels, but four channels of my own choosing. That's all I'm asking.

-K- said...

Sentence of The Day:

Like all of life’s sensual pleasures, it’s best not to count, else you might fit the definition of some unpleasant word.

Pat Tillett said...

I don't much much TV and I'm very selective about what I do watch, but there are some channels (NatGeo, History, etc) that I love and learn from.

Mister Earl said...

This reminds me that I didn't have a TV when I attended UC San Diego for 2 years. I don't know why I didn't have a TV - just never occurred to me that I needed one. I listened to some interesting radio shows, including the National Lampoon Radio Hour. Even listened to sports on the radio. This was in 1975-76 and people were talking about an incredible new show on TV. I never saw it until a few years later. It was called Saturday Night Live.

Ken Mac said...

I always carry a balance, help me !

Karin, are you a fan of Haruki Murakami? Amaxing writer.

Susan Campisi said...

I kicked my TV habit a couple of years ago because I wanted to start a blog and instead of writing I was watching hours of Top Chef and The Real Housewives of New York. Now that I'm in the sanctimonious crowd of TV-less intellectuals, I take my computer into the kitchen and watch Louis CK stand-up and Curb Your Enthusiasm clips.

Katie said...

Although I view shows in many formats now (online, netflix, hulu), I'm still not ready to pull the plug on my TV. In the summer I like to watch baseball (my mom and I both follow the SF Giants so we chat about the games) and in the winter I like to watch the weather channel (yes to be smug about living in CA). Plus it's fun to veg out sometimes and flip through all the channels of crap.

Tash said...

Just watch out for the Netflix bug.
Now in our house, one must have a 2-a-day fix of NCIS (reruns only!), the other, Gossip Girl; the third...at least an our on MYFACE.
PS - love how you sprinkle gems of truths throughout

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

For a while, Pasadena residents had another cable option (Altrio). They couldn't withstand the Charter gorilla. Charter does seem ridiculously expensive. With the competition provided by everyone streaming stuff over the Internet, it makes sense to me that they would offer some kind of lean and mean option like 'basic plus four of your choosing.'

While I'm at it, a word of advice to the makers of Mad Men: Between Boardwalk Empire and The Good Wife, my Sunday evening dance card is pretty full. You know I love you, but I haven't exactly been twiddling my thumbs while you've been arguing about money or whatever it is your doing.

Patrizzi Intergarlictica said...

Sanctimonius non-TV watchers?

What is Doc Martin? My sister won't shut-up about it so it must suck.

Patrizzi Intergarlictica said...

Madmen starts in March 2012. I'm stashing my pennies away.

altadenahiker said...

I know there are many Mad Men fanatics on this very comment string, but I never caught the fever. However, Absolutely Fabulous has a new season in ever so long, and damn it, I don't get to watch. I'm too busy learning Russian.

Petrea Burchard said...

Sheeit. AbFab has a new season? Are you frigging kidding me? Oh damn. That's worth the $150 a month right there.

altadenahiker said...

Oh suh-weetie, you're an AbFab sister? It's like crack to me. I'll even watch it with German subtitles:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0RO-9Owbck

Petrea Burchard said...

Oh, thank you, sweetie-dahling, that just made my day.

Patrizzi Intergarlictica said...

Will someone please invite me over to watch AbFab on their teebee? Pwitty pweeze? Sweetie dahlings?Sweetie dahlings?Sweetie dahlings?Sweetie dahlings?Sweetie dahlings?Sweetie dahlings?Sweetie dahlings?Sweetie dahlings?Sweetie dahlings?Sweetie dahlings?

West Coast Grrlie Blather said...

Insulin. Stat.

Karen said...

I grew up in the television generation and couldn't even think about giving it up.

We have DirecTV which costs a fortune and Netflix streaming which is a bargain but the choices are limited (though getting better).

I too carry no credit card balance. I found out a few months ago that's called being a "true deadbeat." Which sounds totally wrong to me, but apparently that's what the credit card companies call it! Makes me do a little happy dance, actually. ;-)

Patrizzi Intergarlictica said...

I am a true deadbeat to the max.

What's to become of me?

Ken Mac said...

Karin,how did you know they were watching a violinist? !!!

TheChieftess said...

I admit it...my tv is on...and it's a schlocky lifetime movie...if it's a quality show, then I actually have to watch it...this way, I can have it on, blog to my heart's content, and occasionally tune in!!! Given that I've probably already seen it, I don't need to actually watch it!!!

What is ABFab??? And do I actually have to sit down and watch it???