Spending time off the net – Part 2

I was without Internet access for about 10 days and I didn’t realize how much its tentacles reached into my life. I had 10 days to kill and this is the second part of what I did to kill the time.

4. There was a faded celebrity with a new book accusing her now dead celebrity father of incest when she was a drugged up teenager in the late 1970’s early 1980’s. She was interviewed on Oprah which is like the President being on all channels for a speech. I understand that her ordeal is major and it may have had an influence on her later substance abuse and she should get treatment for it- but I can’t understand why she would need to be on Oprah and discuss it. People have said that by her being so public that some regular people who suffered the same trauma might finally come forward to deal with it … I guess that is one way of looking at it but I just don’t get someone wanting to be so public about whatever trauma they have suffered.

5. Got to watch some shows from the season DVDs of “Due South” that I missed the first time they were on back in the 1990’s. The problem with the season set is there isn’t any extras – just 6 episodes on each disk. Still funny after all these years – Thank you kindly. Just before I lost my Internet I got word that fans of the show will be meeting in Toronto in 2010 for a convention.

6. Finished up a screen writing workshop I had on DVD and that got me warmed up to write again. In one day I wrote 20 pages of a new script…. whooo hooo. Although I really wish I could write comedy. Got to really read one of my writing magazines I paid for but hardly read.

7. Kept up on my house cleaning and laundry…. wow – didn’t take long at all.

8. Really got to thinking why am I charged cell phone minutes to hear my voicemail. Shouldn’t voicemail be free for me to hear it? Yet another scam – just like paying $9 a month for Netflix even if you don’t use it very often and if you do then they charge you more. 

9. Edited and converted some digital video files I made from some old VHS tapes including some guest starring turns in 2000 from an acting favorite of mine. They appeared on several shows that season and I had video taped the shows. Also converted some old footage from the day of the 9/11 attacks. I had put in a tape and just pressed record during the wall to wall news coverage. Also had a bit of the first Letterman, Leno, and Saturday Night Live back after the attacks.

10. Listened to some of the commentary tracks on some of the DVD movies I have. A good one was the technical commentary on Clerks II with Director Kevin Smith and Dave Klein who was the Director of Photography. Another good one was the one to the 2000 reissue of “Superman the Movie” (1978) with Director Richard Donner and writer Tom Mankiewicz. The one thing I didn’t know was that Chris Reeves flew in 7 different ways for the movie all without any CGI (since they didn’t have CGI yet). Well I did know CGI didn’t exist but didn’t know they used 7 different ways to make him fly. That film still holds up. I also have “Superman Returns” and it is cool to compare the two movies and see so much was the same in theme and tone. I really love when both Supermen say “Well, I hope this experience hasn’t put you off flying. Statistically speaking, it’s still the safest way to travel.” Cracks me up every time. 

Spending time off the net

I just got done spending about 10 days without Internet or cable service. I did have the usual withdrawal symptoms but eventually made due by trying to find things to occupy my time. I wrote some stuff out about what I did. It is a bit long so I may post it in parts.

1. Watched the regular television networks. My ISP is also my cable company so I had no cable TV and I usually read my newspaper online. I borrowed a Digital TV converter and tried that out on my set. Digital TV is almost as bad as the old school rabbit ears when you use to have use aluminum foil to get any signal. I would set the antenna and sit down and the picture would mess up. I would stand back up and reach for the antenna and the picture would be fine then sit back down and the picture would cut in and out again. Very aggravating. The picture quality is great – no snow at least and it got me thinking I might cancel my cable TV altogether and just use the Internet and the converter box to watch TV. I was looking at the selection of my cable company and found out that although I had the top digital package, 90% of the channels I watch are on the cheaper standard service. Of course…. lol….

Channel 4 and Channel 6 have extra programing on their 2nd digital channels. I would graze them when I had cable but really got a chance to watch them these past 12 days. WCMH has RTV which shows old TV shows – really old like 30 years or more. Seeing supposed cowboys of the 1850’s with pastel colored clothes was funny on some show about Texas Rangers filmed in the 1960’s titled “Laredo”. They also have my favorite “Emergency!” and “Kojak”.

Channel 6 has My Network TV and also shows “THIS” which plays old movie of the weeks from the early 1980’s. I like these because some are not that good but fun to see some actors before they got famous. One was about a biker club reunion called “Return of the Rebels” that starred Don Murray and Barbara Eden but had a fresh faced Patrick Swayze playing a bad guy. Another movie was about skateboarders called “Thrashin'” which starred Josh Brolin after he had been in “The Goonies”.

2. Got to watch the 6:30 PM network news broadcasts for the first time in years and I remember why I don’t watch them. CBS sounded boring but the others seemed to lack news. I am so use to the detail that some cable channels go into on some topics or the stuff I can read on the Internet. Other than catching the noon or 6 PM local news there isn’t any news available on the networks. That was hard to deal with – guess I am hooked on 24/7 news cycles. The funniest bit was during the NBC Nightly News from Pittsburgh due to the G20 Summit and someone with a megaphone was protesting Brian Williams live on the air. There was one point when his audio was not there and you could hear megaphone guy shouting “They’re lying to you!!!” clear as day… HA! Great TV….. When Williams signed off for the evening he signed off for the guy with the megaphone too.

3. Watched the premiers of a lot of network programing for the fall season. “How I met your mother” seemed a bit flat but “Big Bang Theory” was extra hilarious. I didn’t care for “Mercy” – or rather Grey’s Anatomy on NBC. I did like “The Good Wife”. I really didn’t like “Accidentally on Purpose” – I just don’t think unplanned pregnancy between two unmarried people is funny. The issue is too serious for a comedy series. The movie “Knocked Up” did the same topic but there was some pathos and heart to it. “Accidentally…” has no heart….. knowing me it will probably be the next “Cheers” and be on for 10 years. Hope not.

NCIS” and “NCIS LA” were pretty good and didn’t seem to miss a beat from last season. “Law & Order SVU” was okay. “Modern Family” was funny and looks good. “Flash Forward” seemed interesting and right now less esoteric than “Lost” did but we will see.

“Gary Unmarried” was good but I miss Gary’s buddy and his girlfriend from last season. “The New Adventures of Old Christine” was very funny but they ripped off a bit of Seinfeld with the airplane trip. I just don’t care for Elaine when she gets bitchy.

I still don’t like “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation” but “Community” seemed okay but the previews seemed funnier than the actual show. “Brothers” was another I didn’t care for and I skipped the other Fox shows because the canceled “The Sarah Conner Chronicles”.

Another season of “Survivor” that doesn’t interest me but “Amazing Race” was amazing again.

“Weekend Update Thursday” was funny but I worry they are using their best material before a Saturday show. The Joe Wilson fake out skit was one of the best of the year so far.

I totally ignored the crappy dancing shows and fat people shows including Jay Leno.

I was really hoping Jay Leno would do a show like the old Dean Martin Show with a mix of sketches and singing and dancing but what we got was his Tonight Show without that title. – Bleh!

Of course Conan O’Brien isn’t helping himself on his “Tonight Show”. It still seems he is holding back from doing the goofy stuff I loved that Jimmy Falon is doing on his show now. What is it about 11:30 that makes grown adults stiffen up? David Letterman did the same thing when he moved to CBS. If grandma and grandpa don’t like edgy goofiness then they should go to bed.

Cowtown Qube

In an earlier post on the history of MTV I mentioned that the idea evolved from a successful music video program on the Qube network in the late 70’s.

Qube was the first try at interactive television and debuted in Columbus in 1977. It was a demonstration project from Warner Cable (now Time-Warner Cable).

The subscriber used a large remote box that plugged into their set-top cable box and allowed them to pick from the 30 channels available and it included 5 buttons for the interactive part. Programs on Qube could ask poll questions and users would pick their answer and the results would be collected then displayed during the program.

Qube had a live local component that originated from a studio in Columbus. I remember that local TV personality Flippo the Clown had a show on Qube. When Qube was installed in other cities (like Dallas and Cincinnati) there were shows that were shown nationally like Sight and Sound (the prototype of MTV) and Pinwheel, a children’s program that evolved into the Nickelodeon channel.

For a more geeky version of the history of Qube check out the following link:

When CableWent Qubist