Category: TV

Cord Cutting – My Journey

No Comments

When I was growing up there was no cable or satellite. There were only 3 networks: ABC, NBC and CBS. PBS came along a bit later.

Antennas were the way we watched television. If you had a decent antenna and no interference, you would be able to access the networks in your area. If you lived in an area where the signals did not transmit far, like I did, you might not get the ‘full’ experience. In some cases, you wouldn’t have access to a network affiliate at all. Fact of Life. <shrug>

When cable came in – and was installed – it was a game changer on many levels. My dad could now get all the local stations, and then some. This was a necessity in areas who depended upon the local news and weather for safety. For myself, who lived in a large metropolitan area, cable was not so much a necessity as a luxury. A rather expensive luxury.

Over the years I indulged in cable on occasion because regular TV got, well, boring. When I moved back to the mid-west, cable was once again a necessity – but one I could forgo once I moved into a more urban area.

By that time, 25 years into the cable experiment, cable had grown into a rather boring option. What had been exciting and new was dull, tedious, and … uninteresting.

Not to mention expensive.

Streaming was something that I didn’t know very much about. I found Wil Wheaton’s TableTop on YouTube and then began to explore what else was available. Frankly, I was astounded.

I discovered AcornTV, a service that streams programming from the UK, Canada and Australia. As a fan of BritComs and other British programming, I was thrilled. It did not hurt that I got all the programs I wanted to watch for less than $10 a month.

When Roku entered my life, I moved to a new level exploring both paid and free offerings on a box that was a one time only charge and only needed access to WiFi – in my house not an issue.

I would occasionally get curious about cable and satellite. The latter is not a possibility because I have trees, lots of trees. The former… <shrug>

The most prevalent complaint about cable and satellite services (beside the service or lack thereof) is the fact that you spend $$$ on channels you don’t watch. Waste of money, right?

If you are a life long cable subscriber and have no idea what is available over the air in your area, here is a simple and easy way to find out. Go to a TV listing provider and see. Most will ask for your ZIP code and the way you view your programming, Antenna or Cable. Choose the one you aren’t using.

Eye opening, isn’t it?

Television is a very personal exercise. What you watch, how you watch and if you watch change from person to person – even in the same home.

For myself, looking at taking on cable required me to take stock of what I was actually viewing, what I wanted to be viewing and what I was not interested in at all.

Looking at TV listings in my area by provider gave me solid information on what was available. Looking at various streaming services allowed me the opportunity to see what I was willing to pay for – and what I wasn’t.

I discovered that I really don’t watch that many movies. I love cartoons. British programming? You bet! Sports? No, thanks.

Streaming has become such a game changer that many networks and studios are looking to develop their own platforms. Some have added streaming services in addition to their cable/satellite offerings.

If you are contemplating cord cutting, there are several articles and books available with information that could be helpful. For myself, I suggest you sit down and take a good look at what you watch, and how much you want to pay.

You could replace a hefty cable bill with a collection of streaming services that could equal that bill. Or not.

I have Amazon Prime, AcornTV, BritBox and CBS All Access. Just these cost me less than $50 per month. I have all the movies I want in addition to some programming I wouldn’t have access to otherwise. BritBox has Dr. Who – years worth!

If you have been reading this blog for a while, you know I recently dropped Netflix. Why? Because I wasn’t watching it.

As a friend recently said, “There is so much to see and so little time.” Yes, and no. What I realized is I watch what I want and if I haven’t made any effort to watch, I wasn’t all that interested.

One other thing that appeals to me – I no longer have to program a DVR.

Test it out yourself. You just might save enough money to buy a huge new TV or go on a trip. Or you might find programming that really interests you without paying for stuff you never watch.

Categories: Musings TV

A Study in Kindness

No Comments

Did you know that Sesame Street will celebrate 50 years on the air later this year? Fifty years of Bert and Ernie, Cookie Monster, Big Bird, Oscar the Grouch, Grover, Elmo and countless others.

I was well past the targeted viewer age when it debuted, but I watched. In fact, like many others, I have watched off and on for most of those soon to be 50 years.

Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood has been around for almost 57 years. That one I came to much later in life. Like many people, I found myself captivated by the simple message:

You are okay just as you are.

Both iconic shows endeavored to educate youngsters on a variety of topics. Sesame Street sought to start pre-kindergartners on the road to education by teaching numbers, colors, and simple concepts like ‘near’ or ‘far’. Mr. Rogers, thanks to Mr. McFeeley and the magic mirror, gave us a behind the scenes look at lots of things. How crayons are made, what do bakers do, etc.

Both, however, dealt with topics and issues that went beyond basic education. They taught people of all ages about kindness, empathy, and compassion.

By dealing with scary topics like divorce, 9/11 and natural disasters, kids were given the tools they needed to begin to understand ways to deal with a world neither they, nor their parents, controlled.

Ethnic and religious differences were shown not as a negative, but as a potential starting point to getting to know your neighbor. This was extended to include Autism and physical impairment.

Not bad for shows with puppets and silly kid songs. 🙂

Happy Birthday, Sesame Street!

Categories: Musings TV

Cartoons

No Comments

I grew up watching cartoons and indulging in the funny pages. Long before I met Mickey Mouse, Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck competed for my attention with Peanuts, Popeye and loads of other colorful eye catchers.

As I grew up, my love of both mediums evolved. I learned to watch story lines in the daily comics. Doonesbury was an early favorite as was For Better or For Worse. The trials and tribulations of Cathy caught my eye as one of my BFFs looked like the main character. Really!

My love of cartoons confounded some folks, but I carried on keeping up with Winnie the Pooh, Darkwing Duck, Gargoyles, Wacky Racers and, of course, Flintstones, Jetsons and Bugs Bunny.

In some way, the continued adventures aimed at kids was calming and consistent in a way that the adult world wasn’t. The weekly catch up provided time to chill and relax.

When I started collecting for my own video library I had a rule that kept the budget under control and allowed space allocation to be a thing, rather than an attempt. The rule was simple: I would not buy any video that I was only going to watch once or twice.

I admit there have been a few … misses, but for the most part my collection contained a lot of cartoon series. Lots (and lots) of Hanna Barbera, Warner Bros and a few Disney cartoon series, but lots of Disney animated movies.

I was a kid who grew up in a time before cable, video recorders and collections. I knew what it was like when there was nothing to watch on TV and going to a movie just was not possible. My collection allows me to find something to curl up with when what I find on TV is a bit boring.

Some people still find it a bit odd, but I am perfectly happy settling down with more Darkwing Duck, Duck Dodgers or Fred Flintstone.

All I need is a bowl of cereal and milk. 🙂

Categories: Musings TV

Updating the Video Selection

No Comments

Or, I’ve dropped Netflix.

Before you panic, yes, I did drop Netflix.  Why?  Because I wasn’t watching it.

I’ve also added BritBox along with my Acorn TV and may, or may not, continue with some of the channels I’ve added to my Roku box.

I will keep my CBS All Access because, to be dead honest, I use it a lot more than all the others put together.

The joys of streaming.  🙂

Way back when, television was pretty much at the whim of the weather, how good your antenna was and if there was any interference between your antenna and the tower where the chosen channel was broadcast.

For years people have complained about cable’s high price and limitation on the flexibility of its packages. 

Streaming allows me to choose the channels I want to watch at a price that works for me.  And, if I should choose, I can remove them without major issue.  Or resubscribe when I want.

So, yes, I dropped Netflix.  I’m looking forward to the upcoming Disney streaming service and crossing my fingers that the programming on offer is what I want to spend $ for.  If not <shrug> not a big deal, there are other places to opt into programming of interest.

For those who complain about commercials in the streaming universe, if you paid for cable, you were also paying for commercials.  Please explain what the difference is.  🙂

Flexibility, budget friendly, easy to manage.  Works for me.

Over the air antenna TV was limited to the number of stations available in your area.  When digital signals arrived, the number of channels could multiply by 3 or more, but you were still subject to the usual issues.  But viewing was free.

When cable came in, you had less issue with weather or other interference, but were stuck with the whims of the cable company and the quality of their service. 

Service and cable were often oxymorons.  Factor in the cost of the <cough> service and the reality that you were often stuck with channels you never watched and sometimes you found yourself wishing you had your old antenna back.

Streaming is a new(ish) process whereby you get your preferred television by virtue of a Smart TV, streaming service or the internet. 

I found myself watching a lot of YouTube.  Why?  I found programming that I was actually interested in, from many corners of the world.  I also found older programming that was not available anywhere else.

CBS All Access provides a lot of programming – old and new – along with original programming that you will only find there.  Their cost is reasonable and the service has proven to be extremely handy.  In my area when the winds are particularly bad, I can’t get the local over the air stations, but I can always see live programming on the CBS All Access app.

This means I can keep up with local news and weather in addition to the programming that is carried over the air for that network plus I can catch up with shows I missed.  Since I don’t record shows anymore, this is very helpful.

Categories: Movies Music Musings TV

A Return to Downton Abbey

No Comments

Like the millions of people who tuned in year after year to catch up with the Crawley’s, I find myself missing the great house this time of year.

Odd, since in the US the series ran starting in January – long after the U.K. had visited and moved on for the season.

Somehow, though, Christmas is the time I get a bit wistful to see Branson, Lady Mary, and all the other occupants of the house and grounds, not to mention the neighboring village.

There is something serene about the place.  Comfortable even in those rooms full of gilt, silk and deep carpets.

If you are a viewer of YouTube, you can see some of the DVD extras that talk about back stories and settings and characters.  For me, who does not own the DVDs, it is an interesting addition to the fond memories I have of the series.

To be honest, it makes me want to brew a cuppa and settle down in front of the telly with Amazon Video to dive in.  The entire series is there, waiting.

I am hearing bits about the new movie that is coming next year.  To be honest, I’ve not paid any attention if only to preserve some of my sanity.  There is something about the anticipation that keeps things on an even keel.

Join me, won’t you?  Settle back and dive in to watch all or part of the series.  Remember the joys and the sorrows and the amazing holidays at Downton Abbey

Categories: Music Musings TV

Taking a Breather

No Comments

I realize that most of the world is caught up in Holiday Madness right now.  Perhaps that is why I suggest that we all take a breather.

You know, prepare a simple meal, dim the lights a bit, turn on some nice music and put your feet up.  The rush to Do Something On The List can wait until tomorrow.

I was channel hopping tonight and happened to catch a good portion of a film I have heard of for years, but never saw.  Bullitt.  Yeah, that one – with Steve McQueen. 

I was, to be polite, blown away.  Great cinematography.  Fantastic characters.  A cast list that is eye popping.  And that car…that Mustang…and that chase scene…  Worth any amount you’d care to name.

Truth is, unless I owned a copy, or could find one to rent or stream, I would have missed it if I was keeping up with The List Of Things To Be Done.

In case you were wondering, I saw this wonderful classic film on Movies TV Network.  Check the site to find out where you can watch in your area.

My point is, take time for yourself right now, so you can enjoy all the festivities later.  And, if something doesn’t get done, remind yourself that it is very unlikely that it will end the world.  (You have to prioritize that list, you know.)

One step at a time.  🙂

Categories: Movies Musings TV

And Now For a Brief Time Out

No Comments

I recently signed up for a free trial of BritBox.  BritBox, like Acorn, is a streaming service that you can subscribe to either on its own or thru Amazon.com.  Both carry predominantly British television programming; Acorn also includes Canadian and Australian programs.

Why did I do this?  Frankly, I needed some diversity in what I watch and American TV just wasn’t cutting it. 

The irony of this is that some of the shows both services carry can be found on American TV, usually PBS.  The infamous BritComs that many fans have supported over the years, plus the wonderful costume dramas, are purchased to fill voids left by American production companies that failed to provide content that appeals to discerning viewers.

For those who aren’t sure what I mean, PBS usually purchases productions from the UK because their viewers actually want to watch something that the other American networks are absolutely certain no one wants to watch.  Like Downton Abbey or Poldark or Dr. Who.

Although, come to think of it, my first encounter with Dr. Who was a syndicated series on an independent channel.  Makes you think.

Why do we gravitate toward such programming?  Some of us love to see other parts of the world.  Some are curious about how other people live.  Some just want to see something that doesn’t treat them like lumps on a sofa.

That is not to say that all non-American programming is high brow.  Far from it.  Sit through a season of Are You Being Served? and let me know how high brow that is.  Once you stop laughing.

One of my recent discoveries is the Hairy Bikers.  Two guys who ride motorcycles and love to cook.  At first glance you might raise an eyebrow.  At second glance you might hope for an invitation to their table.

For the armchair traveler, Penelope Keith has several wonderful series touring Britain.  Julie Walters has provided wonderful company as she tours England by train.  Martin Clunes has provided several series about animals and life in other countries.  And these are but a few.

As you contemplate what is available to you from your provider, I suggest you take a good look at what is available via streaming.  As long as you have Internet access, you can stream.  The purchase of a streaming device (Roku, Amazon Fire, etc.) makes the process simpler and easier.  The cost is nominal and the potential is enormous.

Categories: Musings TV

Why I Love “Murphy Brown”

No Comments

This article has been simmering on the back burner for a while and I hope it comes out saying what I intend it to say and understood in the way I intend it to be understood.

When I look back on my life, I see a lot of dualities.  I am a city girl who was a country girl who lived on a farm after living in town.  Eventually, I returned to live in a semi-country area. 

I am the country kid who appreciated things kids my age had no real understanding of or interest in – the arts, books, life outside the bubble we were living in.  In other words; the World.

I am a city girl who appreciates her country roots.  I know how hard people work on farms and in jobs that require more physical than mental labor.  On the other hand, I can also appreciate the more mental jobs because I know what is required to do them.

I say all this because, as we have been reminded repeatedly in the past couple of years, our country is Us vs Them.  How each individual defines “Us” and “Them” can change a lot depending upon the questions asked.

When “Murphy Brown” hit the television airwaves back in 1988 it was revolutionary.  Its main character was not married.  She was no shrinking violet.  She wasn’t out to snare a husband.  Murphy was a graduate of the Betty Ford program who had to learn how to navigate a stressful life without drinking.  She couldn’t sing worth a damn and she barely knew she had a kitchen, much less knew what to do with one.  She was strong minded, willful, arrogant and a bit (?) much.  Let’s be honest, to many people Murphy was a holy terror.

Murphy was, in many respects, the woman I hoped I grew up to be.  I also idolized Julia Sugarbaker from “Designing Women” for similar reasons.  🙂

As I look back, I recognize that I really, really appreciated seeing a woman who had a backbone and a brain, who didn’t let her fear rule her life and who managed to live up to her own standards, not those others would prefer to impose.

Creator Diane English and performer Candace Bergen created not only a wonderful show full of original characters and thoughtful commentary – and some seriously great comedy, they created Murphy. 

This last week, I sat back ready to visit once again with a few old friends.  I was not disappointed. Feisty, opinionated, combatant, Murphy was back.  While I enjoyed reconnecting with the old timers (Miles living at the Watergate?????!) I really enjoyed seeing a grown up Avery Brown.

Avery Brown intrigues me because I see his mother’s influences and I see his own experiences.  I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of human, man, reporter, journalist, thinker Avery Brown has become.  And I’m interested to see how he influences his mom.  And he will.

As I have grown older and wiser, my point of view has broadened and evolved.  Because of my experiences, I see things in a different manner than some folks.  I have also surprised some folks because I do not see things the way they assume I would.

I get the political influences – and I’m amazed/shocked that You Know Who hasn’t commented on the show…yet.

I understand that there is an entire generation who really has no clue who Murphy Brown is/was.

I’m looking forward to sharp writing, on point acting and thought provoking material that will not only make me laugh, but make me think.

For me “Murphy Brown” is thinking people’s comedy.  Multi layered, multi faceted, not afraid to share a joke or poke some good natured fun, but not afraid to call a spade a spade, either.

Frankly, as far as this new television season goes, in my mind at least, “Murphy Brown” is refreshing, and a lot of fun.

Categories: Musings TV

Mid Week Catch Up

No Comments

Or, yes, it really is Wednesday.

Vinnie’s Vittles is BACK!  Maymay’s trusty sidekick/hubby Vinnie is back with his cooking channel.  I have to admit, I’m enjoying it – and the recipes – quite a bit.  His food is not low calorie and I seriously doubt it can be classified as healthy food.  What it is, though, is home cooking comfort food.

New Fall TV Season starts NEXT WEEK!  Can you tell I’m excited????????  While not all of my shows begin next week, the majority are.  I’ve set up my calendar and have begun working on the TV schedule app.

It may still want to be Summer outside, but when the Fall TV Season begins…  Pumpkin season can’t be far behind.

Which reminds me to keep an eye out for the Peanuts specials.

Have you checked out our Following page?  The idea came to me as I was working on the next newsletter.  There are quite a few folks I follow in various places.  The Following page will help you keep up.  I hope!  🙂

Annie is slowing recovering from a late season bout of fleas.  🙁  We had a bit of a battle for a few days, but I got her medicine and vacuumed like crazy.  So far, so good.

Which reminds me, if you have had a bit of dry skin lately, don’t forget to drink more water and use your lotion.  It will help.  Really.

All for now – happy Almost Fall!

Categories: Annie Cat Musings Pets TV

Mental Health Days and Why I Craft

No Comments

I recently came across a link to an article that got me to thinking about why I craft.  The article:  When A Woman Needed A Mental Health Day Off Work, Her Boss’ Response Shocked Everyone.

There is an old saying that if you do what you love, it isn’t work.  To a point, I would agree.  I’m like several of my friends and acquaintances, I enjoy the day to day processes of running an office.  That doesn’t mean that any of those projects, or jobs, is not work.

I have a passion for food and I love to cook.  Sometimes the act of cooking is more job than hobby, but not always.

I love reading, listening to music and watching film and television.  While I have a better than average knowledge of the behind the scenes functions of most of those activities, I have never had the pleasure of being employed in those industries.

Quilting is a new-ish addition to my life that encompasses my fondness for color, pattern and (believe it or not) geometry.  🙂

I do these things in varying degrees because it relieves stress, allows me to create something out of my own imagination and gives me an outlet to not think about the 9 to 5 day to day grind.

I think it can be looked at as mini-mental health days.

I know people who look at hobbies as stress replacements.  They are not so much into a hobby as a way to relax as a way to do something until they can do something else.  I don’t understand that, either.  🙂

I also know people who have no real understanding of, or use for, hobbies.  There’s work to be done, why waste your time?

I had a parent who worked hard most of his life.  He also spent a good amount of that time doing things he actually liked doing (hence the reminder of doing things you love not being work…)  But there came a time when he was no longer physically able to do the projects he loved.

As he had no hobbies, he was left with nothing to fill his time with.  And he ended up having a lot of time to fill.

My suggestion to you is the lesson I learned watching this parent deal with life.  It is all well and good to have things you love to do, but diversify a bit.  You never know when it will be in your best interest to spend time doing things you never thought you would.

If you are a hiker, what would you do if you broke a leg and couldn’t do that for a while?  If you had issues with your sight, how would you deal with not being able to read printed text?

You get the idea.  Work is a wonderful and productive way to spend time and earn a living.  It provides a great sense of self worth.  But work is not the end all or be all of a life.  It should be a part of the whole.  Find something that you are interested in and give it a try.  Doesn’t matter what.  Once you find a passion for something, you will notice that the world is a bit lighter, perspective a bit brighter and work is less, well, work.

%d bloggers like this: