Digital cable love/hate relationship

I love digital cable, but it’s a sick, twisted, addicted kind of love that frequently dips deep into the hate pool.

I love timeshifting, but timeshifting and a busted VCR means that I don’t get to sleep until the early hours of the morning, or I sleep in short fits and jerks, in between timeshifted shows I “must” watch.

I love that can use my TV and digital terminal as an alarm clock, but that turns my TV into a giant snooze button, with 1/2 hour pauses instead of 9-minute ones, but the end-result is the same — fitful, broken sleep, full of really vivid dreams but precious little actual rest. (Is that good or bad? The dreams are usually pretty kooky — the one that ended with David Caruso punching P Diddy in the stomach, killing him and starting a riot, was a particularly fun WTF?! romp that I blame partly on Mayo’s Massengill graphic — and almost worth the lack of rest.)

I love that I can buy movies and watch free episodes of favourite TV shows on demand, whenever I’m ready to watch them, but I hate the sneaky cost (sneaky in the sense that it’s easy to forget how many movies you bought because they’re so easy to order and the cost is delayed) and I really hate when trying to view the Rogers On Demand channel (channel 100) completely borks up the digital box. That dunks me reeeeally far down into the dark, deeps of the hate pool mostly because it messes with my ability to use the TV as an alarm clock and it threatens my television addiction. (Again, is that good or bad?)

That happened last night. I accidentally punched in 100 on the remote (force of habit). Rogers On Demand was apparently having troubles so it locked up the digital terminal. Power cycling the terminal and reauthorizing it have failed so far so I could only watch CTV last night and this morning. The fact that I couldn’t access all of the channels I could access before made it that much more important that I have that access again. (Yes, I could have swapped cables around so that I could at least watch regular cable on the TV, but there were principles involved — it’s like losing the remote and spending hours looking for it rather than getting up and changing the channels on the box itself.) So sleep was sacrificed to worrying pointlessly over what the problem was and how to fix it.

I’m thinking that I really need to get rid of cable. To save my sanity.

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Television nostalgia from a more innocent age

Back when I was a kid, cable television, video players, home computers, and the Internet were still far in the future. (I know, hard to imagine for some of you, but it’s true.) If you wanted to watch a movie, you had to wait until it came to your local movie theatre or aired on CBC or CTV. And certain television specials became annual rituals.

The most heartbreakingly bittersweet specials were three created by Readers Digest Canada in association with Potterton Productions. (I was an odd child — I loved to watch shows that made me cry.)

The Selfish Giant, which was created in 1971, was a 25-minute animated film narrated by . It told the Oscar Wilde short story of the giant who didn’t like children playing in his yard.

The Happy Prince, which was created in 1974, was a 25-minute animated film featuring the voices of Christopher Plummer and Glynis Johns. It told the Oscar Wilde short story of the statue of the Happy Prince and the little swallow who stayed with him until winter. I still bawl when I watch it.

The Little Mermaid, which was created in 1975, was a 25-minute animated film narrated by Richard Chamberlain. It told the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the mermaid who wanted to be human as it was originally written (in all its sadness), not as Disney would rewrite it many years later. I still remember the music and it can still make me cry buckets of tears.