Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Television - The Downfall To My Existance

I hate those cursed bastards at Time Warner Cable - they coerced me into giving my life over to the bright glow of my 32" television. I still remember receiving my first bill from those devils, $29.95 and suddenly my soul was gone. The programming isn't that great, but all it takes is one good show out of a hundred to flush thirty minutes of your life down the tube.

I originally got cable to see basketball games (NBA and NCAA) - basketball is an obsession I can live with... but of course, cable sucked me into much more. Most mornings begin with an unhealthy dose of SportsCenter. Hey, I'm eating my cereal - the entertainment value in most cereals is low, except maybe Rice Krispies. Snap, Crackle, Pop, Rice Krispies. Who doesn't love that theme song? Usually I watch between 10-15 minutes of SportsCenter and catch the worst 15 minutes of the show (all the best stuff occurs at the beginning). Special K and banana with a little steroid talk and basketball highlights on the side.

After a grueling day at the office (haha), I need a little "zone out" time. Time for my mind to turn into mush and listen to some sports "experts" discuss the day in sports. Mike Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser battle it out on ESPN in a show called PTI, Pardon The Interuption. The show is like a timed sports version of Crossfire. A one-minute discussion occurs between the hosts on subjects like Kobe's selfishness, steroid usage, the Virginia coaching job, and the NBA's MVP race (Nash better win...). 30 minutes of time daily - flushed.

Next up at 6PM, on Court TV they show NYPD Blue reruns. What can I say - I'm a fan. The show ran for 12 years so there are a few episodes I've missed. For me, it doesn't matter whether Detective Sipowicz's partner is David Caruso, Jimmy Smits, Ricky Schroder, or Zach Morris (oops, I mean Mark Paul Gosselaar). I watch them all - enjoying every minute the cops brow beat some unsuspecting rapist. One hour of time daily - flushed.

Most normal people turn the television off at this point... It's time to do something worthwhile with their time like reading a book, working out at the gym, eating, something else, anything... Not me, The Daily Show is on next. Yes it's reruns from the previous day, but I can't stay up until 11PM on a work night. Sarcasm and irony run amok as Jon Stewart, Steven Colbert, and the rest of the gang run through the daily news. Highlights include the God machine, Bush's sack size (that's right, nut sack), and anytime Bush says something stupid (usually daily). 30 minutes of time daily - flushed.

7:30 is terrible unless basketball starts early. During this time I flip through my fifty-four stations searching for satisfaction and all I can find is Hollywood Tonight or Cosby Show reruns. Oh, damnit - it's 7:30 I'd better fix dinner fast. 8:00 is rolling up fast - full of television potential. AMC movies, TNT broadcasting the NBA, ESPN has the NIT basketball championship, or movie selections from Comedy Central, FX, or USA. If not, I've got my three netflix movies to watch. Two hours - flushed.

Ten o'clock to eleven o'clock is a tricky time. I'm left pondering bed time or watching the end of some horrifically poor basketball game. Basketball it is... 30 minutes - flushed.

My biggest problem, and I have a few to choose from, is not my weakness of character, boredom with life, or those bastards at basic cable. None of those things make me push the Power button on the remote control. Habit... I am a creature of habit and obsession. If I see a show once and like it - I have to see them all just to prove that I like it. Casual viewing is not in my vocabulary. Most of my life is cornered by obsessions... Basketball began my obsessiveness - playing morning, day, and night. Then, hip-hop music followed in my highschool years and the film fixation came in college when my favorite video store ran a special deal (one movie a day for a month at $25).

I'm going to beat this obsession however, because it leaves me with no satisfaction. There is nothing redeeming about knowing the plot for every NYPD Blue episode, remembering every ironic line Jon Stewart says, or seeing every game winning basket in the NCAA tournament. This is my AA meeting, people - I'm admitting I have a problem. Now, I'm going to fight to beat this damn thing. BE STRONG. Tell those jackasses to stick that $29.95 up their ass. Three obsessions is enough for any man. I'm reminded of an Aesop Rock song called Basic Cable:

"plug it in, turn it on, prop me up against the couch
lights out, I ain't ever gonna have to leave my house
satellite dish, get up on my wish list, turn me to a tyrant
let my clean spirit dissolve through the appliance
plug it in, turn it on, be my mother when she's gone, great
wipe the spittle off my chinny-chin during the breaks
if I gotta go blind I'mma do it for the love of all television kind
and that's fine, and that's fine..."

It's no longer fine with me. Cancel my cable - PLEASE...


Drew said...

As a recent cable-cancel-er I wish I could say I'm doing something noble with my time but mostly I just listen to LOVELINE in the evenings.
I'm envious that you can get cable for $30.

Sinical said...

No more positive comments about cheap cable - I'm trying to beat this damn thing. I need strength from my support group.

loachapoka said...

I have never subscribed to cable but they forgot to disconnect it after the last people moved out. Whenever I turned it on, I got sucked in. When we got internet cable, the cable company noticed their mistake and diconnected our tv cable. Thank god. Similarly, whenever I'm on a trip at a conference or something similar and away from my family I get sucked into watching tv in the hotel room. Stuck like a deer in the headlights. But at home we don't watch tv at all anymore. Our son gets to watch a video once or twice a week and we might watch one twice a month and that's it. TV is like drugs - quite entertaining but eventually it'll kill your brain. When I don't watch it, I don't miss it at all.

Sinical said...

During my college days, my roommate (Constance Anne on this blog) turned cable off. Of course, I'm not sure that it helped me become more productive though. Miles Davis blasting from my stereo while I skipped all my classes during the day and three hours of basketball in the evenings. I guess I was in better shape though - that's a definite plus...

Constance said...

Old roomie Constance Ann (that's without an 'e' at the end, Stephen) reporting here. Just to clairify, I didn't turn off the cable, I just refused to have it in my house. When I was a kid, I was just like Stephen is now. I divided my time among my obsessive habits: tennis every day (sometimes twice), cartoons every afternoon (I still miss Tiny Toons), reading a book until some ungodly hour every night because I've had terrible insomnia since I was about 8 years old.

I've realized that my childhood behavior has contributed to my current lifestyle: I can count the number of true friends I have on a single hand. Watching TV and reading books obsessively doesn't lead to a satisfactory lifestyle.

Thanks to TV, I'm completely uncomfortable in groups of more than 4 because I spent so much of my developmental years plastered to the TV. So my social skills suck, and, more importantly, I have no interest in socializing. I'm not saying that I'd have more friends because I'm usually the one who pushes others away because I'm so damn picky, but I'm sure I'd have more worthwhile experiences and I'd probably be a more interesting person had it not been for TV.

So I'll leave you with this Pooh Bear: when (and if) you make it to 75, what do you want to remember about your youth and the prime of your life? Do you want to remember being 26 years old and having the chance to skydive or go spelunking and doing just that, throwing caution and fear to the wind? Or do you want to remember passing up those opportunities so you can sit on your ass and watch reruns of NYPD Blue and Jon Stewart making fun of Dubya?