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Today, we went dark. Sort of.

Today, our cable and land-line were cut off. We still have internet and our mobile phones, but the dedicated connections for television and phone are as dead as Monty Python’s parrot.

During our fortnight-long sans cable experiment, everything about our television viewing habits came under scrutiny: what we watch, when we watch, and how we watch. We learned a great deal about our habits and thoroughly re-evaluated what we considered “worthwhile” viewing. After two weeks, we no longer think of things in terms of networks, but see them in terms of providers, apps, and individual shows.

Not everything was rosy, though, and before we dropped the hammer, we had to make some compromises. Continue Reading »

Le crayon rougeI’ll update you on my cable-cutting process soon, but for this week, here’s a look into the things that keep me up at night. Literally. This is the type of shite that makes my brain whirl like a dervish when it wakes me up at 4AM.

There’s a language construct that has bothered me for a long time. It’s the “negative question.” It’s like the question in the title of this post or, as found in the large portion of my viewing and reading intake that includes British and “period” drama, it’s often tacked on to the end of a sentence, as in, “She is a handsome woman, wouldn’t you say?”

In general, I don’t have a problem with negative inquiries.

Unless, of course, I have to answer them. Continue Reading »

On January 1st I woke early, made a pot of coffee, and sat down to watch the Sunday morning punditry. In general, this is not a good idea as it often leads to shouting and throwing things at the television, which tends to wake my wife and scare the cat, but it’s a hard habit to break.

First up, as always, was ABC’s “This Week with” … whomever they got for that week … George … Martha … Krusty the Clown. I turned the television on, punched in Channel 4, and was presented with a black-bordered message from Frontier Communications, our cable provider. It informed me that the distributor of our local ABC affiliate was being a pooter and wouldn’t negotiate a “reasonable rate” for their programming and, since Frontier “won’t settle for less than fair pricing for our customers,” they chose instead to deprive us of the ABC channels altogether.

It was the last straw. Continue Reading »

Ending It

Femme VoiléeI did not wind the clocks this month. They tick down to silence, measuring out the year’s last hours with ponderous chimes.

This New Year’s Eve, the house will be quiet.

No television. No dropping ball. No music. No crowds.

No friends. No crackling fire. No pop of effervescent wine. No clink of crystal. Not even the ticking of a clock.

All will be silent, and I will sit on the stoop in the frost-rimed dark beneath the moonless sky and will wait.

Listening.

I want to hear it, you see, and want no other sound to interfere.

I want to hear this obscene alliance of Time and Death, this year that has gorged itself on family, friends, and icons, that has snuffed out lights of culture, killed dreams, thwarted hope, I want to hear it die.

As it lays before me, I will kneel at its side. I will lean into its abattoir scent, my ear close to its gasping mouth. I will hear as it exhales its final breath into the void.

And if it does not come, if at that silent stroke of twelve this baleful year somehow breathes on, then as I ring in the New Year, I shall wring out the old, my hands around its throat.

This year shall end, if I have to do it myself.

k

Typewriter

My life and my brain have calmed enough that, for the first time in a long time, I was able to finish reading a book. I’d picked up a dozen or so in the last year, but either they were uninteresting (a lot of titles about adolescent angst…what’s up with that?) or I found them annoying (like this one). After so many failed attempts among the offerings of current fiction, I decided to try something that wasn’t waiting in my TBR pile.

The question was: What?

Fate intervened, and tossed a title my way. Bang the Drum Slowly is a title I’d been aware of, but never read. I am not a big sports fan — oh, I watch the Seahawks and I enjoy a baseball game, but I don’t follow any of it — so Mark Harris’s book about a mediocre catcher who is diagnosed with Hodgkin’s during a pennant race wasn’t high on my list. But a stray mention of it as a prime example of mid-20th century fiction caught my eye, and I figured, what the hell, give it a chance. It couldn’t be worse than some of the others I’d started this year.

What I found was something I did not expect: a unique voice and structure. Well, unique in my reading experience, anyway.

Continue Reading »

My Mr. FezziwigIn December 1966 — in lieu of their regular station identification — CBS aired a short, animated holiday greeting for its viewers. (I’ve embedded it, below, for your convenience.) Drawn by R.O. Blechman, a well-known animator and illustrator, the piece was done in his standard minimalist style. Though it has no dialogue, it still delivers a lovely message of peace and harmony. At the end appear the words: Season’s Greetings From CBS.

Not Merry Christmas. Not Happy Holidays.

Season’s Greetings. Continue Reading »

Le crayon rougeThe epiphany hit me when I finished Wednesday’s New York Times crossword puzzle.

Epiphanies are like that, showing up at odd times, all unexpected-like. Continue Reading »

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