Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Get Ripped Abs in 3.12 Weeks: Part II (Episode 1)...

Hmmmmm...  What is a 'Tuna' pickle.  MOL! 

Today when you get home from work, call the cable company and tell them that you want to get rid of cable TV...  right away.

Do it.

As soon as you get home from work, pick up the phone and make the call.

If you're worried that it's going to be a bit difficult, just pretend that you're phoning your local Thai place to get some delicious takeout.  An order of curry-fried rice sounds good.  As a bonus, order some of those lip-smacking egg rolls on the side.  You know the kind, don't you?  They come with that gooey peanut dipping sauce that's really good.

So let's do a dress rehearsal.  You're going to pick up the phone, dial Sak's Thai Cuisine, and order Fried Rice Selection #5 - Curry Fried Rice, along with Selection #2 under Appetizers - Buddha Roll.  Buddha Roll comes with two (2)...  one for you and one for a friend.  Don't forget that you have a choice of meat topping with your #2 Curry Fried Rice.  I'd obviously get tofu with mine, but you can have chicken, beef, or free-range Guatemalan rhinoceros, if that's your thing.

Now that you're really hungry and eagerly awaiting kick-ass Thai takeout, go ahead and make the call.  But at the last minute, dial up an audible at the line of scrimmage and phone the cable company instead.

Go ahead...  Tell them that you want to cancel your cable.  See now...  wasn't that easy?  By making this simple phone call, you'll probably end up saving almost $800 a year...  maybe more.

Chef Sak makes a mean Fried
Rice Bowl #6.  You can trust
Chef Sak for all of your
Thai takeout needs.
Be warned, the cable company will balk at your suggestion.  They'll resist.  They'll try to keep you on board, saying that maybe, just maybe, they can give you some coupons to help lower your bill for the next few months.  They would have you believe that cable TV is the best deal going.  Where else can you pay just sixty dollars a month, and have over a thousand digital channels at your fingertips?


Cable TV is actually one of the biggest rip-offs around.  The cable company thinks that they're doing you a favor by allowing you to fork over around sixty dollars a month, in exchange for an endless amount of quality programming and entertainment.  I suppose that depends on your definition of 'quality programming and entertainment'.

From my perspective, cable TV is over a thousand channels of mindless, repetitive drivel, which has been dumbing down our society and wreaking havoc on the quality of family life at an alarming rate for the past twenty years.  Getting over a thousand channels for just sixty bucks a month may seem like a good deal, but there are several caveats to consider.

First of all, most of the channels are actually repeats.  Channel 33, which is TNT Classic Movies, is the same as channel 633, which is also TNT Classic Movies...  which is the same as channel 1033...  which is, you guessed it...  TNT Classic Movies.  What's the need for having three separate channels dedicated to the same station?  If you extrapolate this pattern over your entire cable package, you actually have somewhere around three hundred channels.  I guess that some people would still consider this to be a good deal.

And let's get back to that definition of 'quality programming and entertainment'.  I'm pretty certain that everybody's idea of 'quality programming and entertainment' is completely different.  Back when we still had cable, I watched a lot of ESPN, and my wife and I both watched the Food Network.  Some people like to watch one or more of the major cable news networks.  Other people dig Discovery Channel, National Geographic Channel, History Channel, or any of the other 'educational' channels.

And yet, there are still others who like to watch trashy reality shows, where drunkards, skanks, and dickheads abuse each other, do drugs, get tattoos, drink, raise their voices, pollute street corners with their urine and feces, swear, and dry-copulate during off hours.

I don't really understand the appeal of these shows, so I'm just going to leave it at that.

I used to watch 'The Bachelorette' when I was a kid. Back then, it was called 'The Smurfs'.

But, to get back to the cable company, they'd have you believe that they're offering you access to ALL of these shows...  ALL the time...  for only sixty bucks a month.

From my viewpoint, we were paying almost sixty dollars a month to watch ESPN and Food Network.  The remaining 997 channels were worth absolutely nothing to me...  nothing at all.  That works out to about $30 a channel.  That's not a good deal...  not by a long shot.  I wasn't about to pay $20 a month to get HBO, Showtime, or some other premium movie channel.  So why would I want to pay $30 each for ESPN and Food Network?

And why would a few coupons make me any happier about this?

That's the crappiest deal around.  That's like buying two for the price of twenty-seven.

Why do so many of us continue to allow ourselves to be ripped off by Time Warner, Comcast, et al?  Do we really like watching TV that much?  Are all of our favorite shows really that good?  Are they really worth it?

Maybe something else is going on here.  Maybe we've all been watching cable TV for so long that we don't really know how else to fill our spare time.

I have just a few questions.  Don't worry, this will only take a moment.

On any given Tuesday evening around 7:12, is your television on?  Why?  What are you watching?

How about 3:37 pm on a Saturday afternoon?  Is your TV typically on at this time during a Saturday?  Every Saturday?  Just certain Saturdays, now and then?

Instead of watching cable TV on a
Saturday afternoon, go to Mendon Ponds
Park and feed the birds. 
Would it make a difference if it was summer instead of winter?  Maybe you've got your television turned on during a Saturday in February, around 2:11 in the afternoon.  But how about in August?  Is your television turned on at 2:11 on a Saturday afternoon in August?  What's on television at 2:11 on a Saturday afternoon that's worth watching?

I'm just asking.

Do you have the TV on while you're eating dinner?  Why?

If you do have a family seated with you around the dinner table, do you still leave the TV on?  If so, is it just once or twice a week, or do you leave it on every night?

When the TV is on during dinner, do you and your family talk about everybody's day?  Do you talk about anything else at all?  Do you just eat and watch TV in silence?

If your TV was stolen, and you and your family had to sit down to dinner without TV, would you all be able to fill the silence with conversation?

Tell me about the last show that you watched on TV.  Was it this morning?  Last night?  Yesterday afternoon?

What show was it?  Why were you watching it?  Had you originally turned on the TV to specifically watch that show?

Or, had you turned on the TV an hour or two earlier to watch something different, and you just happened to leave the TV on after that show particular show ended, and just watched the next show that came on after that?

If you hadn't intended to watch that most recent show, why did you leave the TV on?  Are you glad you left the TV on to watch that last show?  Was it really worth it?

And why did you finally turn the TV off, making it your last show for that particular viewing session?  Was it time for a nap?  Was it time to get ready to go out to eat?  Was it time for bed?  Were you bored?

Before you finally turned the TV off, did you flip through several channels for awhile, wondering if there was anything else on worth watching?

How often do you flip through over one hundred channels, and not find anything that you really want to watch?

Why would you flip through hundreds of channels in the first place?

If you have a few shows that you like to watch, you'd know what time and what channel they're on, wouldn't you?  And if that's the case, then why would you have to flip through hundreds of channels in the first place to find them?

If you're flipping through hundreds of channels at a time, is it fair to say that you don't really have anything in particular in mind that you had intended to watch?

If that's the case, then why did you turn the TV on in the first place?

And what would you do with yourself if you didn't have a thousand channels of cable...  or any TV at all?

Have you ever thought about that?

I'm just asking.

Now, I'm not saying that I've never spent hours at a time watching cable TV.  I certainly have now and then, over the years...  more during certain periods of my life than others.  And I'd sometimes find myself flipping through lots of channels now and then, just because I thought there was nothing else to do.

On some afternoons, I'd watch the 'Channel Channel' when I was really lazy and not feeling like flipping though a bunch of channels.

But I've reached a point in my life where I don't have cable, I realize I don't need cable, and more importantly, I wouldn't want to get cable ever again... 


How did I reach this wondrous point of blissful, cable-free equilibrium?

Stay tuned for Part II: Episode 2...

Instead of watching TV on a Saturday afternoon, learn how to make homemade bread for your family. This fantastic book will show you how.


  1. Some good points, but over all, it feels like a preachy rant to me, fuelled perhaps by a particular incident or discussion you had with someone and then felt the need to let out your frustration here. Which is good - we need a platform to vent. Is that what this blog is? Are you trying to be an all-round writer, or a certain type? Is there a focus to your writing or are you just experimenting with words, modes, styles, content?

    Content wise: I don't get the whole "package" thing - I would like to see a cable offering where I could select just the 5 channels I want. That said, I hardly watch TV anymore. The computer has supplanted my TV as my evening companion. I know however I could turn on the ABC here in Oz (which is like your PBS) and let it go all night and enjoy every single thing that passed on the screen. Excellent programming despite 0 budget.

  2. Preachy? Just a bit...

    A rant? You bet...

    The content itself was not fueled by a specific incident. It's just my commentary/observations that Americans are watching more and more TV over the past several years, we're missing out on many other aspects of life, our communication skills are suffering, and we're closing ourselves into artificial worlds that don't matter.

    The extended part with all of the rapid fire questions... I knew that this particular section would be hit-or-miss. Some would love it and relate to it, but not everybody would feel that way. Others may think that it's lengthy, annoying, and unnecessary.

    As far as what I'm trying to do with this blog? I'm trying to write regularly, more often. I haven't written this much in a 2-month period since my undergrad English classes over 10 years ago. And back then, I was writing because I had to do so for classes. I guess that my goals are to stretch my fingers, my mind, and get in the habit of writing more continously, on a more regular basis.

    And I don't think I want to limit myself to a particular style or theme, at this point. I think I'd first like to get my thoughts out there, and see what shape they take.