Sunday, February 6, 2011

Cutting the Cord

It’s been a week today. We don’t have cable TV anymore.  And tonight is the Super Bowl.  We could (gasp) not watch the game and just catch the commercials later on YouTube.  We were prepared to accept that. Instead, we are sitting at the kitchen table with big mugs of tea, followed by a glass or two of Pinot Grigio, watching a perfectly clear picture of Super Bowl 2011 via the $10.00 set of rabbit ears I picked up at Radio Shack. The kitchen works best for reception, and the picture is clearer than cable because the digital signal is not compressed. Most of the time, however, we don’t need a TV at all.

We have not missed a single one of our favorite TV programs all week:  Grey’s Anatomy, Harry’s Law, The Good Wife, Detroit 187, CBS Sunday Morning.  We watch them whenever we want to, and we can hit “pause” on the laptop or the iPad for rest stops.  We can even watch the nightly NBC News with Brian Williams if we want to wait an hour for it to show up on Paddy.  In addition, our $8.99 a month subscription to Netflix allows us to watch movies like The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo instantly online or via a DVD that arrives in the mail practically as soon as it’s been ordered.  We can watch all of this in any room in the house, or out on the screen porch when the weather gets warmer.

We are saving over $100.00 a month, and enjoying it.

Oh, and an hour into the Super Bowl, we’ve only had one second of signal interference, when we both screamed  “Yes!” and raised  four arms in victory.  Then we laughed. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Music Lesson

Forty old people, arranged around rectangular tables

in a rectangular room with black and white squares

on the floor.

Today's speaker has a microphone next to which he

stands so close that every “p” makes an unwanted

punctuation of amplified air.

He talks so fast that “program music” sounds like prora

music, something new and perhaps extraterrestial that

we are just now finding out about

in this angular room, early in the 21st century.

But no, we are learning about music in the mid-

nineteenth century, long before even the oldest old

person in this room was born,

long before our parents or even grandparents were born.

The speaker puffs into the microphone about piccolos and

preludes, and the old people are polite, their papery

faces inscrutable.

We listen to the river, beginning very quietly as two

streams, high in the mountains of Austria.

Some cannot hear the beginning at all, but they do better

when the two small streams become one big sound,

and white heads bob up and down,up and down.

The river leads us past a wedding party with dancers,

and into a night scene of dark currents and a moon and

perhaps some magic.


warns the speaker, his glasses glinting.

And sooner than we expected, but

we did know, he intones “The Rapids” and no one is


Forty old people, still attentive, still inscrutable, past the

rapids now,  sit in the rectangular room

and listen to the river disappear from sight.