Thursday, September 17, 2009

The Experiment is Over

So I was a kid who grew up watching televison. Okay, so it's not like that makes me so unusual; that's almost like saying I was a kid who grew up liking candy...


Our family was one that revolved a fair amount around the events on television. My brother and I watched Batman and the Brady Bunch every day between school and dinner and the four of us settled in each night from 8 to bedtime. On family vacations, the Today Show was the first thing we heard in the morning and The Tonight Show was the last thing we heard before falling asleep.

Then we got QUBE, Columbus' first cable. That was the beginning of the end. I suspect a good 70 percent of my waking hours between the ages of 10 and 14 were spent watching either The Movie Channel or MTV.

So many would be surprised to know that I have never had cable in my home in my adult life. Part of that decision was restraint - I didn't quite trust that I would go to bed at a decent hour if there was a Behind the Music episode or Golden Girls rerun to be found. Another factor was cost - when you're intermittenly employed as I am, it's good to cut costs where you can.

I've also always had "issues" with most of the actual television sets I've accumulated over the years. Fifteen years ago, when I went to live in Rochester, New York for a year, my parents bought me a nineteen inch color set. It was great for a while, until I permanently lost the remote (how that happened is still a mystery), then it got banged around in the move home and the on/off button no longer recognized "off" so I had to unplug it from the wall to turn it off.

A few years later, I obtained a bigger model, with its own built-in swivel cabinet from a neighbor who failed to sell it at her garage sale. This was nice, until something went wonky with the contrast function and half of the scenes on any given show are too dark to see.

Which left me with the nine-inch portable DVD player I got for my birthday a few years ago. I love this thing, I can carry it around with me and listen to movies while I clean out the garage, make dinner, or put it on my nightstand for a late-night flick before I fall asleep. But then the switch to digital came around. That's where the "experiment" comes in.

We all knew it was coming, we were bombarded with commercials for a solid year, and then they extended it for an additional four months. I planned to ride it out, put off getting a converter box and wait until I couldn't possibly stand it.

And I made it through the whole summer, priding myself on not watching re-runs, not brainlessly watching something I didn't deliberately pick. I still watched, but documentaries, whole series of shows I'd been meaning to catch (or couldn't see because I don't have cable.)

But now I'm coming to the end. I've fully scoured the shelves of my library, I've about flushed out my queue in NetFlix. I'm eager for a little mindless veg in front of the tube. My birthday is around the corner. I want a brand new, digital, flatscreen televison. Perhaps even a Blue Ray player.

And if I get a job soon, I just might even get cable...

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