Monday, August 05, 2002

For the last three years, I have had next to no TV reception. Didn't even have my television at Magazine Street hooked up to the antenna until just a couple of weeks ago. I don't watch a lot of television, mostly video tapes and DVD's. But two weeks ago, I ordered cable. It was to be installed -- and was, eventually -- Saturday.

I signed up for AT&T Digital Cable on the InterWeb, scheduling the installation appointment, etc. Saturday, I woke promptly at 7 a.m. so I could tidy up my apartment -- especially the space right in front of the television. 9 rolled around. Then 11. Then 12. And still no cable guy. No phone calls, no doorbell. I read magazines. I wrote letters. I read the newspaper. I did dishes. I talked to my grandmother.

Because AT&T had left the reminder messages on my work voicemail, I figured I should check it to see if they'd called me there. They had. "Looks like you're not home," the cable guy said. "I guess you'll have to reschedule." I was home. And no one had come by. So I called AT&T to reconfirm and see what the deal was. They only had my work number on file, and the guy was running late. He could still come by Saturday afternoon.

So I waited a little longer. Eventually, the guy showed up. He was sweating -- said he usually did 20 installations a day between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m. -- and seemed slightly irritated that I didn't know whether the cable was already turned on, that I hadn't preprogrammed my television, and that I didn't know where the cable lock box was in the building (It's down in the basement behind the stairs, I now know.). No one told me I had to prepare for the cable guy, so I was a little miffed that he was miffed. But that didn't last long.

In any event, it didn't take long for him to hook the cable up, either. Then he used the phone to check on his other appointments -- he'd lost his cell phone that morning but wasn't worried because AT&T would replace it for free. Before long, he was on his way.

I turned on the TV. And the first thing that was on was Little Shop of Horrors. Not a bad welcome to the new world of cable television! But it wasn't until later in the afternoon -- after a trip to the comic shop and Charlie's for a belated lunch -- that my TV Party on the Big Blue Couch began. Here's what I watched:

4 p.m., Discovery: Mystery of the Persian Mummy In the 10 minutes I saw, researchers discovered that the mummy's makers hadn't punched holes up through the mummy's nose but instead drilled up through the chin and palette to reach the skull. Then they liquefied the brain to drain it.

4:30 p.m., Starz!: Snowboard Academy I'll review this in a coming entry of The Movie I Watched Last Night.

6 p.m., WENH: Lawrence Welk Dick Dale hosted this collection of classic Welk vignettes featuring people performing then-pop standards. I imagine that if you lobotomized the king of surf guitar and gave Valium to talented musicians, you could produce this show, too. Welk was a white-bread dictator who squeezed all of the creativity and talent out of his performers. Regardless of my fond memories of watching this show at Gramma's, I can't get past Welk's controlling nature: "Since I'm the boss, I'll hold this and let you dance," he said to Dale. Now, Dale's no stranger to selling out as a pop phenom, but this episode takes the cake. Welk even tried to cash in on Manhattan Transfer's mid-'90s popularity. I could only watch half an hour.

7 p.m., Comedy Channel: Comedy Channel Presents... Dane Cook does extremely unfunny standup about how he wishes he were a lizard, how confusing cab fares are, how frustrating the DMV is, and how cool it'd be to have a time machine. So I bounced back and forth between this and...

7 p.m., E! Entertainment Television: Revealed with Jules Asner Dana Carvey is profiled as a late-'70s/early-'80s standup comedian who talkes about how he met his wife; his show with Mickey Rooney and Nathan Lane; a failed pilot with Desi Arnaz; how he ended up at Saturday Night Live; the elements of his impressions of Ross Perot, George Bush, and Johnny Carson; his friendship with Mike Myers; and other aspects of his career.

7:30 p.m., WFXT: The Simpsons No Simpsons because Seinfeld was delayed -- perhaps because of the Seattle-Cleveland game? At 7:45, the show switched over to programming "already in progress" to catch up with the Simpsons episode, which focused on a controversial mural.

"I went to Tufts. It was my safety school. So don't talk to me about hardship." -- Julia Louise-Dreyfuss as Elaine on Seinfeld

8 p.m., WCVB: The Man with the Golden Gun This James Bond movie won out over Henry Rollins' tired schtick over at the Comedy Channel. By this point in the evening, I was also reading while sitting on the Big Blue Couch. Seems that even television can't hold my attention. I was also bouncing back and forth between this and...

8 p.m., Turner Classic Movies: Charade Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn shine in this suspense movie, but even it didn't hold my attention for long. Walter Matthau's character is also notable, and the dynamic between Grant and Hepburn was delightful.

Quotes of Note from Charade:
  • "Do you know what's wrong with you? Nothing."
  • "May I have a cigarette please? It's like drinking coffee through a veil."
  • "Women make the best spies." "Agents."

  • Opposite that, on the National Network (gah, please.) was Slamball. I didn't need to see much of it to know it wasn't my bag.

    That was my Saturday night. What did I learn? One, that, despite my intentions to use the television for productive things like CNN, the Weather Channel, nature documentaries, etc., it'll also be easy for me to get sucked into crap TV. Two, that I don't like the lack of control provided by TV. Unless I get Tivo or something, I'll need to sit through programs at their own pace. Can't pause. Can't take a walk. If you want to watch something, you have to watch it. And three, that I'll be as much of a multitasker while watching TV as I am on the Web and at work. I'll flip between multiple shows on multiple channels. I'll read while watching.

    Oh, add four, that I might become an extremely boring person. When a friend called late last night, all I could talk about was TV. Getting cable, what I'd watched, what excited or concerned me about television. Um, kind of like this Media Diet entry.

    I apologize.

    Nevertheless, I did watch the evening news before going to bed last night. And this morning, I ate my oatmeal and banana while watching CNN. That's OK, isn't it?

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