Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2019

Archive for the category “Cable TV”

Throwback Thursday from January 2016 – “Cereal Killer On The Loose”

Throwback Thursday from January 2016

Cereal Killer On The Loose

TOO MUCH EDUCATION CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING.

I know a person with a graduate degree in finance from an Ivy League school. He can squeeze so much value out of a dime that it makes FDR get up and walk.

Now, I like saving money as much as the next guy – maybe a bit more even. I grew up poor with cardboard in my shoes to cover the holes. Even today, at an overripe old age, I still wince whenever I spend money. But, the fellow of whom I speak has elevated money-saving to an Art.

Coupons 1

Earlier this week he told me of his latest trip to Kroger’s to buy some breakfast cereal. He had some coupons in his hand.

When he got to the Cereal Aisle he saw that the object of his hunt was also being discounted. He smiled I’m sure, bordering on a leer.

Many of the “discounts” on the store shelves are as phony as a politician’s promise – The item sells regularly for $1.49, they change it to $1.79 and slap on another tag reading, “Marked Down to $1.49!” Instant Non-Discount.

Sometimes the discounts are real – usually because a buyer screwed up and they are stuck with ten truckloads of the stuff. Of course, some discounts arise after a news report says that the product can make your kids grow extra thumbs or decide to go to college and major in “Organic Bongs of Medieval Japan.”

Back to my tale of Nuclear Couponing in the Cereal Aisle.

In addition to your garden variety discount was another tag offering even bigger markdowns if you bought the cereal boxes 10 at a time. The buyer must have really screwed up. My Friend The Shopper felt like he had just found the Lost Dutchman Mine. He made a trip to chat with the store manager to verify that everything, as he saw it, was kosher. The Manager said that he was entitled to all of the posted discounts – plus – another “Instant Coupon” that would be given to him upon checkout. The coupons he walked in with were those super-duper double coupons and all of this back and forth with the store manager meant that he was getting into some serious high finance negotiations with Kroger’s. For a guy with a degree from Columbia University and a resume that includes a lengthy stint on Wall Street, this was heaven.

Cutting to the chase!

This man, who just wanted to buy some breakfast cereal for himself and his daughter, ended up walking back to his

triple

car with 48 boxes of Post and Kellogg cereals – and a bottle of cranberry juice.

He hadn’t really wanted the cranberry juice, but after the dust settled at the checkout cash register, the store owed him $1.79.

The Manager was concerned that the Home Office in Cincinnati might pop an aneurism if the transaction showed up as a negative cash flow. To circumvent this he grabbed a bottle of cranberry juice off the shelf that cost $1.79 and they called the whole deal a push.

When I heard him tell this story my first thought was, “I hope you and your daughter really like cereal, because you’re going to be eating it every day for a year.

As he told this story I could see a fire in his eyes. This experience has spawned a monster. He said that he has found a cable TV show all about serious “couponing” and “It’s really interesting.”

I told him that I thought it all seemed like something that ended up with a very cult-like fanaticism.

If he keeps up with this “couponing”, I half expect him to shave his head, move to Battle Creek, and start banging a tambourine at the airport.

“Om, mane pay me coupon om.”

I Love Television

I LOVE TELEVISION. It entertains me. It educates me. It enrages me. It wakes me up. It puts me to sleep. It’s a lot like most people I know.

My personal memory of Television goes back to 1952 or thereabouts. That was when my father came home with our first television set. It was a Philco brand with a 12 inch screen. Everything was in black and white and we had a whopping three channels to pick from.

It didn’t matter which channel you watched they were all pretty much the same – Old movies, Cartoons, News, Kids Shows, and Wrestling. Lots of Wrestling.

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They Are All Disappearing

I SAW A NEWS STORY THE OTHER DAY that made me get all misty-eyed and nostalgic. A wonderful piece of my life was disappearing and there was nothing I could do about it.

I got my first VCR back in the early 1980s in the days of my callow middle-age. I wanted a quality machine so I bought a really nice Betamax VCR. After I got it hooked up to my Sylvania SuperSet I had everything I needed for countless hours of cinematic pleasure…except for one thing. That was where I had to fire up the car and head out to – BLOCKBUSTER VIDEO!

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Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “But Wait! There’s More!”

 

Throwback Thursday from July 2015 – “But Wait! There’s More

But Wait! There’s More!

infomercialI WAS SITTING AT THE KITCHEN TABLE the other morning, minding my own business and eating some grapes, when I turned on the TV and came in halfway through an Infomercial.

The format is always the same – one guy and one gal acting as if their conversation is completely ad libbed. Sure it is. These mini-dramas are scripted out by a team of advertising copy writers who try so hard to be creative. They fail every time. Most of the time these actors sound like they are just coming out from under heavy anesthesia.

I immediately recognized the guy part of the infomercial pair. That is his picture up top. I’m sure he came to Hollywood with the dream of being the next Spencer Tracy or Vin Diesel. Instead he has landed the plum role of “The Guy” in about 47 different infomercials over the years.

So much for Art.

In most of his infomercial gigs he portrays a guy who is mildly stupid and needs to be enlightened by “The Gal” about the earthshaking benefits of whatever trashy product they are selling. I can’t believe he is really that dense. If he was that thick between the ears he would never have survived so long. He would have been distracted by a shiny object and wandered out into traffic or died horribly in his own apartment because he ignored the warning to, “Don’t try this at home!”

He must be a better actor than I’m giving him credit for – or he has an off-screen helper who keeps him fed and away from potentially dangerous home appliances. I’m not sure.

My point being –

This poorly acted and written infomercial that I chanced to bump into while eating grapes, on July 16, 2015, was showcasing the ease, importance and beauty of Outdoor Christmas Lighting so I could turn our home from simply being a boring “baby poop yellow” into a neighborhood shocking light show that would scare the neighbor’s dogs and probably be visible from space.

This infomercial went a bit farther than most by having “unpaid testimonials from satisfied customers.”

They showed the exterior of a house that looked as if it was being invaded by Smallpox pustules that could crawl around over your siding at will. It was spooky.

When they interviewed a woman who claimed to be the home owner she seemed not only overjoyed, but seriously overdosed. Lord knows what she was seeing. She sang the praises of the lighting gizmo that did this to her house, exclaiming how much she enjoyed having strangers come down her street and drive slowly past her home. In most neighborhoods that kind of activity would generate phone calls to the Police.

To me it all looked like a prelude to a drive-by shooting.

OK, so this was just another infomercial for yet another product that I neither want, need or would take as a gift. I didn’t stop eating my grapes and I didn’t dial the toll free number at the bottom of my screen.

But wait! There’s more!

As I sat there watching this thing, that only needed Tap Dancing Zombies to make it worse, the one and only pertinent fact finally wormed its way to the surface of my consciousness:

It was July 16th for cryin’ out loud!

Why were these Morons of Marketing running this infomercial in the middle of Summer? It is 86 degrees outside, I’m wearing a Hawaiian Shirt and the dog next door is trying not to die from heat prostration.

Who in their right mind would be buying Christmas lights on July 16th?

Maybe the actor playing “The Guy?” He seems to be downright enthusiastic about the whole idea of turning his home into an eyesore. But, then again, he is getting paid to do this gig.

Now, this may seem callous, but here goes.

I hope that this actor’s parents are deceased. I say that because I hate to think that they would be watching this infomercial and have to endure the anguish of realizing that they paid a bloody fortune to send their boy to the Yale Drama School for four years and this infomercial is, very likely, the peak of his career. If they weren’t already deceased, seeing this infomercial might be enough to warrant the removal of any sharp objects from their home.

Their home – the one WITHOUT the friggin’ ugly Christmas lights infecting the neighborhood.

Unlimited Possibilities?

 

TELEVISION. IT’S A MIRACLE. IT’S A CURSE. I love it. I hate it. But one thing I don’t do is hook up all of the equipment and cables.

My wife, the lovely and electronically wizardlike, Dawn, does all of that.

That’s OK by me. She is good at it, enjoys deciphering the gobbledegook instructions, and she doesn’t burst into flames like I do in situations like that.

Our Cable TV System – They call themselves “Spectrum” now, which doesn’t mean or accomplish anything other than help people forget that they used to be “Time-Warner,” decided to upgrade their system to “All Digital.” To be honest – I thought they did that several years ago, but what do I know?

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This Has Not Been Fun

 

WE ARE BACK FROM CALIFORNIA where everything was sunny, bright, and cold. Every day it was mostly in the 60s where we were and I was toddling about in a Hawaiian Shirt designed for the 70s and 80s. Naturally the souvenir I brought back was a head cold.

Summer colds are the worst. While the outside temperatures might bump into the 70s or higher I am already running a fever and battling the best of Corporate America’s Air Conditioning.

We are in Indiana and it is Summertime. I am still feeling chills and fever so I am wearing a sweatshirt and drinking iced tea. It’s just not making any sense.

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Congratulations To Heather

I WAS DRIVING AROUND TOWN YESTERDAY, taking care of errands and chores – the usual stuff. As I drove past the neighborhood Taco Bell I noticed something on their marquee. It read

“Employee of the Month – Heather.”

Nothing really unusual about that except that Heather has been the Employee of the Month for two months in a row there. She must be something special. Perhaps she can make tacos faster than anyone else. I don’t know, and to be honest – I don’t really care. Anyway I offer my Congratulations to Heather. I just hope that her obviously superior skills don’t have a negative impact on the other employees. People can be so petty sometimes.

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I Won’t Dance, Don’t Ask Me

I LOVE PEOPLE. THEY ENTERTAIN ME NO END. And they do it all without really trying. Anytime – Anywhere – There is a circus going on.

I offer up last Sunday as a prime example.

On just about any Sunday as soon as church services are over the people are out of there like the place is on fire. BUT… You mention that there is some free ice cream being served in the kitchen and it quickly turns into a prairie dog killing stampede. I almost got run over. I don’t know if it was the words “ice cream” or the word “free” that got them all moving. I suspect both.

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Throwback Thursday – from 2015 “I Felt Lucky, But I Was Wrong”

Throwback Thursday – from 2015

I Felt Lucky, But I Was Wrong

Harry1I TURNED ON THE TV THIS MORNING looking for some mild entertainment. I usually fire up the Tube as background noise while writing. My hope was for an old musical – you know, a Fred and Ginger type of film.

I didn’t find it.

Instead I was treated to a “Dirty Harry Marathon.” A bit different than I had hoped for, but…I felt lucky and it made my day. After all, a man’s got to know his limitations – at that time of day.

So – I started to work on a piece about the arrival of all the colorful birds in our backyard –Harry3 Hummingbirds, Cardinals, Finches, and even the big Redtail Hawks. I thought that a Fred and Ginger musical would help me rhapsodize about the songs I could hear drifting from the trees. That was my plan anyway, but Dirty Harry and The Dead Pool took me in a different direction.

Instead of something idyllic and suitable for reading over a glass of wine it came out reading like something from the first draft of “The Birds.” In real life I doubt that two Finches could take down a Condor and pluck him bare – and I’m not really sure that the Woodpecker in our backyard was strapped. It was perhaps the strangest 1500 words I’ve ever written.

After about three hours I just gave up on the writing part and moved from my office/kitchen Harry poptable and moved to the Rip van Winkle Memorial Chair in front of the Big Screen TV. It was now me and Inspector Callahan taking care of business. Popcorn – I needed popcorn.

A minute and a half later I was back in my chair with a hot bag of popcorn and a Diet Somethingorother.

“Did I fire six shots or only five?”

“It was six you big dummy. Harry, munch, munch, gulp, bluffed you.”

Most of those movies (I can’t call them “films.”) were shot in San Francisco while I was living there and I knew a few comedians who got small parts in one flick or the other. They played punks/thugs or ambulance drivers – not exactly roles that win Oscars. Some of them didn’t even get their name in the credits, but they did get paid which is, of course, the most important part.

I was never in any of them. My film career was limited to two “Independent films.” That means that nobody in their right mind was willing to finance the project so it was shot in pieces as they could scrape together some money. I agreed to be in the movies as a favor to the director, but only if I got paid in cash – no checks. My Momma didn’t raise no fools (a couple of whining neurotics perhaps, but no fools.).

I sat there for three more hours watching David Soul be a vigilante cop and Tyne Daly getHarry5Harry4machine gunned on Alcatraz. Luckily, they both went on to star in their own Cop Shows (“Starsky and Hutch” and “Cagney and Lacey”).  

One of these days I’ll try the Singing Bird thing again, only I’ll check the listings first to see what movies will be running. I won’t even try if they are going to be doing an Arnold Schwarzenegger Marathon. I’ll wait until I see a Busby Berkeley mob of Bleach Blonde Chorines hoofing it across the screen.

I’d even settle for an Abbott and Costello Festival. At least then I’d know who was on first.

Harry6

What, And Give Up Show Business?

WE ARE DOWN IN TEXAS FOR A SHORT VISIT. Not only is that a good thing in and of itself, but the weather is certainly better than up north – no snow and I’m actually going around clad in the season’s first outings for my Hawaiian shirts. I look like a tourist.

Another difference, whether we travel to Texas, Ireland, or wherever is local television. Local television outside of your major markets is where you can see careers beginning, careers flourishing, and careers ending – sometimes all within the span of a few days.

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Temporal Dyslexia

WE ARE NOW INTO DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME AND I’M HOPEFUL. Technically speaking I lost an hour of sleep in the shift from Daylight Wasting Time or whatever it’s called. That change took place last Fall and even though I supposedly gained an hour all it did was screw up my life.

For years, decades even, my internal alarm clock woke me up at 7 AM. –Everyday. Each and every work day, Monday through Friday. It was a reliable alarm clock, even though it never did pick up on the trick that Weekends, Holidays, and Vacations didn’t require such diligence. I adjusted.

Everything cruised along as smooth as the sales pitch of a guy selling time-shares in Heaven…until last Fall.

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And Now – The News!

news1WHILE I SEE MYSELF AS A TRENDSETTER I am also the kind of guy who sometimes latches on to the latest fad. I’ve had Mood Rings, Roller Skates, a Pet Rock, and a Hula Hoop. And now I’m going along with another fun fad that is sweeping the nation. It’s in the News every day! 

Allow me to present –

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Something To Watch Out For

tv1FOR THE LAST SIX MONTHS (AT LEAST) WE’VE HAD A MAJOR CHANGE take place in our television viewing habits. I think that this change has come about because of two things; Online services such as Netflix and Hulu among a number of others have begun to air some new and very creative programming. Just about everyone else has been wallowing in a Political Stew that has been tasteless, without any real meat, and triggering my gag reflex.

So, we were faced with a choice: Enjoy some new and excellent programs or endure sphincter clenching broadcast venom.

Not a difficult decision – let someone else watch all the stuff with zombies.

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Throwback Thursday from January 2016

Throwback Thursday from January 2016

Cereal Killer On The Loose

Coupons 2TOO MUCH EDUCATION CAN BE A DANGEROUS THING.

I know a person with a graduate degree in finance from an Ivy League school. He can squeeze so much value out of a dime that it makes FDR get up and walk.

Now, I like saving money as much as the next guy – maybe a bit more even. I grew up poor with cardboard in my shoes to cover the holes. Even today, at an overripe old age, I still wince whenever I spend money. But, the fellow of whom I speak has elevated money-saving to an Art.

Read more…

Throwback Thursday – “Significant Signal Leakage”

Throwback Thursday1

 

 

From November 2014

 

Man up a pole

 

There was a knock on the door one day last week. It was a uniformed young man from the Cable Company. His van was parked at the curb with a very large ladder strapped to the top.

The fellow politely introduced himself and stated that there had been a report of a, “Significant Signal Leakage,” reported at our address and he had been sent to investigate and correct the problem. The big ladder was so he could check the connections on the pole along the backyard fence.

He didn’t look like he was about to pull off a home invasion or an attempt to steal my 2002 Hyundai, so my response was, to paraphrase, “Whatever.”

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Throwback Thursday – Fifteen Yard Penalty For Roughing The Pontiff

Throwback Thursday 1From September 2015

Fifteen Yard Penalty For Roughing The Pontiff

TinyTownTHE TV HAS BEEN FILLED TO OVERFLOWING this last week with every moment of the Pope’s visit to the United States. Regardless of one’s faith or lack thereof, this was a Big Deal for millions of people.

I tended to listen to it rather than watch it all. I could do other things and still take it in and I would not have been able to sit and watch the Tube for that many hours.

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Whatever Happened To…

Van1I GOT UP THIS MORNING AND TURNED ON THE TV, just like I do on most mornings. I fiddle with the remote until I find TCM – Turner Classic Movies. It is my first mental challenge of the day. Remember the channel number and get my fingers to cooperate enough to hit the right buttons.

Just about every day is some Star’s “day,” either the day they came into the world or the day they left it. Once it has been established who the Star of the Day is the next question in my mind is: Still Alive or Dead?

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That Time Is Gone Forever

wowDON’T WORRY. WE’RE BOTH OK. My brain is bruised and Dawn’s eyes are a bit iffy, but we are recovering.

We recently spent an hour and a half watching “Sharknado.”

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I Have A Need To Know

A1WELL, I REALLY DID IT TODAY – put myself behind the 8 Ball, slammed the door on my toes, and painted myself into a corner. Yup, I left home this morning without my phone.

I have become so plugged into that thing that without it I feel like I’m sitting alone in an empty room, with the lights out, the shades pulled down, wearing a blindfold, and with earplugs screwed two inches deep into my head.

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Meatballs, Mocha, And Mr. Dillon

St. ArbucksTHIS MORNING DOWN AT ST. ARBUCKS the Usual Suspects were deep in conversation. The Heavily Caffeinated Philosophers were arguing about which fast-food chain had the most stores. One said it was McDonalds, another suggested KFC. At least they weren’t discussing something trivial.

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