In what can only be described as a hostile takeover we got a new cable/internet service called 'Uverse' a few days ago, which is done entirely with something called 'fiber optics.' We were not given a choice. Our old, apparently outdated Direct TV was 'a thing of the past,' we were told. Everyone in our neighborhood was being forced at gunpoint to get this new 'Uverse.' Cablemen in brown shirts, with Sam Brown leather holsters wandered our streets, pistol whipping kids and old ladies, forcing us to worship a cable god we didn't believe in, jamming this new technology down our peasant throats. Oh, we protested all right, we demanded our civil liberties, our basic human rights, we begged for for cable decency, but all for nought; we were told to stop whining, young parents slapped around on the sidewalk, fiber optic specialists wearing wire-rimmed, circular eye glasses and jack boots forced their way into our lives and installed this new twenty-first century voodoo without so much as a How Do You Do.
And, you know, I kind of like it.
In a pathetic attempt to apologize for their technological bullying, we got HBO and Cinamax for the rest of our natural lives, or six months, whichever comes first. We got a guaranteed rebate of hundreds of dollars, hard cash money. Of course, we have to wait seventeen years for that. And, like all new religions, we got the assurances of the high priests, in this case the cable guys, that our god was better than the old god, that this new god had more spells and potions than the old god, and that the new god cared for us more than the old god.
One of the cool things with this new set up is a channel called 'classic boxing.' It plays, nearly non-stop, great fights from the past including dozens of old ALI fights. I've been mesmerized with it, recording everything I can find. I'm glued to it in much the same way my wife is glued to OWN, Oprah's new network. So while she sobs in one room I can relive my youth in another.
Plus I like the 'On Demand' feature. I can watch any number of old films at the drop of a hat. Of coure, I could do this with Netflix, too, but with that I always had to wait a couple of days. With the new god, Uverse, I can do it immediately. The selections are limited and there are lots of old chestnuts in there that I probably wouldn't watch even if I were sloppy drunk at 3am on a Tuesday morning with nothing else but infomercials on, but nonetheless it feels powerful to have that option. I feel blessed by the new god to know I can, at any time during the day or night, watch 'Oh, God!,' (John Denver was robbed, ROBBED, I tell you, of his Oscar) or 'The Coneheads,' or 'Star Trek - the Motion Picture,' which still holds the title for most antiquated movie name ever thought of. 'Motion Picture?' They might as well have called it, 'Star Trek - the Organist Will Come To Your Own Home To Play The Incidental Music.'
And as for this 'fiber optics' thing...I have no idea what that means. Were the old 'optics' big, Anaconda-like tentacles that draped and swirled around your house? Were the 'optics' just too big before? Yes. Now they're mere 'fibers,' evidently. Can't even see them. Tiny, little optics no bigger than a world-killing new virus.
When we had it installed a few days ago I thought the cable guy might be moving in with us. He was here for hours. Days. Weeks. At one point he crawled under our house and made a fort with old sheets and window fans. We left for a weekend of R and R at Big Bear, in the mountains, and came back and he was still under the house, talking to other cable guys on his walkie-talkie..."Where are you now?" "In the front yard. You?" "I'm in the kitchen now." (Pause.) "Where are you now?" Etc.
Before he left he gave us a set of encyclopedias, which I thought was nice, until I realized they were the set up manuals for the new cable. Then he warned us not to read them while operating heavy machinery, gave us one last slap across the face to let us know who was boss, and left.
But it's all over now, the new god is firmly in place, the old god but a memory. Even as I write this I have the option of watching 'Son of Flubber' at the flick of a remote if I wanted. Just the empowering knowledge that, should I so desire, I could spend the day watching 'Carwash" makes me aware of just how powerful this new god is. Right this very second 'Silver Streak' is blaring in the background.
One of the more fascinating options on our new remote, which looks a lot like a ray gun, is the 'seven-second skip-back' button. I can push it whenever I want and re-watch the last seven seconds of whatever is on the TV. Which came in handy last night as I was watching 'Basic Instinct.'
See you tomorrow.