shelter-at-home television

I’m pretty old-fashioned about watching television programming. Not quite as old-fashioned as when we were growing up in rural New England and managed to get all three major networks (NBC, ABC, CBS), albeit not very clearly, with an outdoor antenna. We have a standard cable package but we don’t have any premium channels like HBO or Showtime. We do have a DVR, which replaced our VCR for recording shows to watch later and without commercials. In fact, my usual way to watch television is to watch things from the DVR so I can see the whole show in two-thirds the time as watching it live.

Notice that I also talk about watching television. I don’t usually watch shows on my computer. I can’t even imagine trying to watch something of any length on my phone. I like to have a big screen, although our television is nowhere near the size of what is considered a “big screen” today, so that everyone in the room can watch together. We also only have one television in the house.

There are a few series that we record, but the bulk of my television viewing these days is news programming. Those who read TJCM frequently probably had already figured that out…

When E was living here, she had a Playstation, along with Amazon Prime and Netflix, which I generally ignored. When she relocated to the UK, the Playstation stayed behind. We still have the Netflix account, which I still generally ignore. In truth, I can’t even figure out the Playstation controller.

As a gift for the millions of people sheltering in place, CBS All Access offered a one-month free trial. We signed up specifically to be able to watch the Star Trek franchise shows, the first season of Picard and the first two seasons of Discovery. B and I had watched all the other series in the franchise, but had never seen either of these two paid-access ones.

It’s been fun.

We didn’t do the binge mode, where you watch hours and hours on end. Instead, we would watch a couple of episodes each evening, with maybe a bit more on the weekend when B wasn’t working. B, T, and I have all enjoyed watching the series, revisiting some old favorite characters and meeting many new ones. We even watched some of the shorts, interviews, and behind-the-scenes videos.

Now, we are going to cancel before our free month is up.

After the next season of both shows has completed, we may pay for a month so we can watch everything like we did this time.

Maybe, by then, I will have learned to operate the Playstation.

Probably not.

JC Confessions #6

On The Late Show, Stephen Colbert does a recurring skit, now a best-selling book, called Midnight Confessions, in which he “confesses” to his audience with the disclaimer that he isn’t sure these things are really sins but that he does “feel bad about them.” While Stephen and his writers are famously funny, I am not, so my JC’s Confessions will be somewhat more serious reflections, but they will be things that I feel bad about. Stephen’s audience always forgives him at the end of the segment; I’m not expecting that – and these aren’t really sins – but comments are always welcome.
~ JC

I am mostly oblivious to pop culture. If I read the Grammy nominations, chances are I don’t know any of the songs and haven’t heard of the majority of the artists. I haven’t ever seen Titanic or Avatar or Jurassic movies or the vast majority of superhero movies. I don’t stream and binge watch series from Hulu, Amazon Prime, etc. and I don’t have premium television packages, which means that I also haven’t seen many of the shows nominated for Emmys, although I think it is good that I haven’t seen Game of Thrones or The Handmaid’s Tale because I would probably have nightmares. I don’t watch collegiate or professional sports, except an occasional baseball game. I don’t vacation at theme parks.

I am involved with a few popular things, the most notable being the Harry Potter books and movies. For the most part, though, if you want to discuss a pop culture topic with me, you’ll likely have to explain it to me first.

Some people might say that I am elitist and they are entitled to that opinion. I would like to say in my defense that I grew up in a tiny town in New England, have never lived in a large city, and have never had a high-powered career. Even though I am now a poet, I am a community-educated one and most people find my poetry accessible rather than esoteric. But, the fact remains that I am a poet, so maybe I am guilty as charged…

SoCS: affirm

When I first saw the word affirm, I admit I drew a blank.

Then, the phrase “attest and affirm” popped into my head. I think it is used when people make an oath rather than the word “swear” which some people do not use.

I tend to think of affirm with a suffix, like Affirmed, which besides being a perfectly good word on its own, was also the name of a famous thoroughbred horse, who I think has ties to the area where I live.

I also think of affirmative, which reminds me, oddly of Doctor Who. Decades ago, before there was BBC America, Doctor Who was on public television, which showed older seasons. B and I saw lots of the Tom Baker episodes. His iteration of the Doctor built K-9, a very intelligent and helpful robot-dog, who could process information and, of course, speak. Instead of saying “yes”, K-9 would say “affirmative”.

We still watch Doctor Who, but the new episodes which are broadcast here in the US by the aforementioned BBC America. The latest iteration of the Doctor is played, for the first time, by a woman. I really like her portrayal, which is full of wonder, as well as intelligence and friendliness.

No K-9, though…
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Join us for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays! Today’s prompt is “affirm.” More details can be found here:  https://lindaghill.com/2019/02/01/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-feb-2-19/

SoCS: avoiding ads

I try to avoid as many ads as possible – and to ignore the ones I can’t avoid.

Most of the television I watch is through DVR, so we can skip by the commercials. I use ad-blockers on my computer, although I do still wind up dealing with some. (I’m looking at you, Words with Friends.) I nearly always listen to public radio, which only has brief sponsorship messages and the occasional ad for local concerts, which I like hearing about anyways.

Ironically, the ads I see and hear the most are those that stir controversy, such as the recent Gillette ads highlighting toxic masculinity. I’m sure I will see some of the Super Bowl ads in the coming week. The most inventive ones tend to make the news programs. I’m not sure if or how much watching I will do of the game. Football is not really my thing. I prefer baseball. Even though it does have ads every time a half inning ends or there is a pitching change…
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Join us for Just Jot It January and/or Stream of Consciousness Saturday! Today’s prompt is “ad/add/AD”. The pingback link is here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/25/the-friday-reminder-for-socs-jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-26th/
More information and prompts here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/31/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2019-rules/


SoCS: Sesame Street

Thirty years ago, our television was often tuned to Sesame Street on our local public broadcasting channel. It was an hour long and we followed the story lines of the human and Muppet characters. We had Sesame Street songs on cassette and some Sesame Street toys. We even had a Sesame Street songbook that served us well for many years and often sat on the music rack of our piano.

Now, our television is sometimes tuned to Sesame Street on our television, which is much thinner but with a bigger screen than it was thirty years ago. We still have it on our local public broadcasting station, but the episodes, which are only a half hour, are delayed by months, as the series is now on HBO. I admit that it bothers me, although I know that they needed to make the change to keep the series going.

Our granddaughter ABC, like many other young children, is more likely to watch Sesame Street segments on a tablet or smartphone. And, unlike our old cassettes, there are no tangles of tape as they got used often.

I hope that Sesame Street will continue to be produced around the world for many more years to come. I want it to be there for ABC’s children, too.
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Join us for Just Jot It January and/or Stream of Consciousness Saturday! Today’s prompt was “television.” Today’s pingback link is here: https://lindaghill.com/2019/01/18/the-friday-reminder-for-socs-jusjojan-2019-daily-prompt-jan-19th/ 
More information and prompts here: https://lindaghill.com/2018/12/31/what-is-just-jot-it-january-2019-rules/  

SoCS: US news

All or nothing tends to be the reaction to watching news coverage in the US these days.

Either people are glued to the breaking news and twists and turns of the current government or studiously avoiding the news.

One facebook friend was discussing this on her timeline this week. She is a “watcher.” She says it is like watching a train wreck; she can’t turn away.

Other friends, who used to watch the news on a regular basis, are taking a mental health break. They are avoiding the news because it is causing too much stress.

I am in the “watching” camp because I am trying to stay on top of developments so I can continue to write to elected officials on a variety of topics of concern. It is stressful, though, especially with the stresses of everyday life in addition.

Who knows? At some point, I may switch over to “nothing.”
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Join us for Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturdays! This week’s prompt was “all or nothing.” Details here:  https://lindaghill.com/2017/05/19/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-may-2017/

 

three anniversaries

Yesterday was the fifteenth anniversary of the the terrorist attacks by plane which cost over 3,000 lives in New York City, Arlington, Virginia and Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The attacks have cost additional lives as those who were exposed to debris and air pollution in the following months went on to develop serious health issues.

Many, many more lives were destroyed  – and continue to be destroyed – by the fifteen years of war which have followed.

On Friday at Binghamton University, there was a presentation on the aftermath of the attacks entitled “9/11: What have we learned? Where do we go from here?” Featured speakers were Ray McGovern and Donna Marsh O’Connor. Video is available here. The theme was building peace, not war. Donna Marsh O’Connor, who lost her daughter who was pregnant with her grandchild, spoke movingly about not wanting the death of her daughter to be an excuse for violence and war. Ray McGovern, who was once a CIA analyst, recounted the way that the situation after the attacks was manipuated to spread the war to Iraq. Mr. McGovern is now a peace activist.

Peace.

Something that I want desperately.

For all of us.

Wherever we are.

Whoever we are.

At church on Sunday, we sang, “Let There Be Peace on Earth.” I cried.

Adding to the emotion is a local anniversary. Five years ago, we were suffering from a historic flood after the remnants of tropical storm Lee dropped about ten inches of rain. Parts of my town were underwater, as were other nearby towns along the Susquehanna River. At my home, we had no power and only avoided a flooded basement because we had a generator to keep our sump pump operating. There were flooded homes and standing water three blocks away. In the five years since, we have seen some neighborhoods decmiated as homes were torn down, unable to be replaced as the land was considered too high-risk to inhabit.

Every time there is a flood in the news, we have a good idea what those people are going to go through and how long the process is.

As we watch coverage of floods, blizzards, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and other weather-related disasters, we are painfully aware that their increased frequency and severity is related to global comate change. There is a new website that shows how much impact global warming has on weather events. It does a good job showing how particular events are tied to changes in the atmosphere brought on by global warming.

It is sobering but a good tool to help explain the science.

Which leads to a third – and significantly happier – anniversary.

This is the fiftieth anniversary of Star Trek. There have been marathons of episodes of the original series and interviews about it and its cultural impact as a franchise that spawned many television shows and movies. In their version of the future, earth is a peaceful place with a thriving natural environment. Poverty has been eliminated. There is racial and ethnic equality, although, while improved from the 1960’s reality, they still have a ways to go on sexual and gender issues.

In an odd way, though it is fiction, it does highlight that we can improve lives and health through science, knowledge, learning from past mistakes, ingenuity, co-operation, and good will.

Let’s get to work on that.

Super Bowl 50 wrap-up

As a blogger from the United States, I feel obligated to post on the Super Bowl yesterday.

Even though I am not a football fan or inclined to party over sporting events…

So, here are my impressions.

Why did the National Football League ignore its usual habit of counting the Super Bowl in Roman numerals? It should have been billed as Super Bowl L, not Super Bowl 50.

The one thing about the game I was looking forward to was Lady Gaga singing the National Anthem.  She has a beautiful voice and did a really good job singing our not-easy-to-sing anthem.  I appreciated that she had a piano so she had some grounding for pitch in the inhospitable environment of the football stadium.

After that, I would just have soon watched the news or something stashed on the DVR, but B decided to watch the first half and half-time show. I paid more attention to my email inbox than to the game, which seemed to be proceeding with quite a lot of fumbling and flags being thrown.  I learned a couple of penalties that I didn’t know existed.

At 9:00, we got a break from the game to watch Downton Abbey. That was fun!

We switched back over to the game and watched to the end.  So Peyton Manning and Denver, the more experienced team, beat the Carolina Panthers, making their second ever franchise appearance in a Super Bowl. That made sense.

One reason many people watch the Super Bowl is to see the advertisements, which are sometimes clever and innovative. I admit that there were not many that drew my attention this year.  My hands-down favorite was Dame Helen Mirren telling the public in no uncertain terms how despicable it is to drive drunk.

That is the most important message that I hope people received from the game.

SoCS: tempted by Stephen Colbert

I am tempted to stay up late so I can watch The Late Show with Stephen Colbert when it actually airs, as opposed to recording it with a DVR and watching it the next evening. Even though this is the first week, there are clips of it on the morning news every morning.

I am so glad that the show is off to a great start. I loved Stephen on The Daily Show and watched the entire run of The Colbert Report (the T is silent!) with B, always on delay by DVR.

Despite the temptation to stay up late, 11:35 is way past my 10 PM bedtime, so Stephen will just have to wait inside our little black DVR box until the next evening when we get to see what everyone else was laughing about the night before.

It’s not all laughing, of course. While Stephen is a comedian, he is also a very philosophical and intellectual person. That can come out much more readily in his new show, where he gets to be (somewhat) more himself, as opposed to his former idiot-pundit persona on The Colbert Report. It must be a relief, especially when dealing with such sensitive topics as losing a son, as in the case of the interview with Joe Biden. Stephen lost his father and two brothers to a plane crash when he was ten, so he knows a lot about loss. It’s good that he can let that human side show, now that he doesn’t have to be in character all the time.

How about you all? Are you watching Stephen late at night, on delay, or not at all? Of course, this applies to US folks more than those in other countries, unless you can view it on the web.

For anyone who wishes to watch the Biden interview, CBS has it posted in two segments:  http://www.cbs.com/shows/the-late-show-with-stephen-colbert/video/Pc4LDUqN8wMyGkYP2ngp3WWQpNLfXpRz/vice-president-joe-biden-interview-part-1/
http://www.cbs.com/shows/the-late-show-with-stephen-colbert/video/E73677BA-3D99-0881-3FC2-BA98560FCC49/vice-president-joe-biden-interview-part-2/
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Linda’s prompt for this week’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday is “temp.”  Join us! Find out how here:   http://lindaghill.com/2015/09/11/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-sept-1215/ 

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SoCS: Saying good-bye to Jon Stewart

My last brush with enthusiasm was watching the last episode with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last night. It actually aired Thursday night, but for years my husband and I have recorded it for later viewing. We aren’t generally up watching television at 11:00 PM when The Daily Show is on in our time zone.

The audience was enthusiastic in greeting Jon, of course, and also the parade of returning correspondents, especially John Oliver and Stephen Colbert. Stephen got to do the official scripted tribute which involved copious, geeky Tolkien references, and then went off-script with a lovely thank you to Jon about how he was such a great example and helped them all learn to be better in their careers and as persons.

The audience was more subdued with the recorded segment on all the behind-the-scene people and Jon’s own message and good-bye, which was appropriate as it was more serious and because people love Jon and will miss hearing from him.

Our family will miss him, too, although I am glad he is getting to go out at the top of his game and to be with his family – and then he can do other things professionally as the spirit and opportunities arise. Jon is only a few years younger than I am and The Daily Show is pitched toward the young adult demographic, so it’s not surprising that he would want to turn things over to the younger generation, like incoming host Trevor and the current young correspondents.

The enthusiasm ramped back up at the end of the show, when Jon’s Moment of Zen involved a live performance by Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. It was nice to see Jon and his family and all the correspondents jumping up and down and dancing. It was nice to have a happy send-off.

Thanks for everything, Jon! Have a great next phase of life, whatever you decide to do!
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Linda’s prompt for Stream of Consciousness Saturday this week is “enthuse.”  Come join us! Find out how here: http://lindaghill.com/2015/08/07/the-friday-reminder-and-prompt-for-socs-august-815/

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