Sunday, August 21, 2011

Cost Cutting, Bargain Seeking

The Indy Star ran an article this past week about how cable TV customers are increasingly cutting the cable services and keeping the internet, with the CATV company as ISP:

Eric Thomas and his wife were looking for ways to cut expenses as they set out to tackle their credit card debt. Brandon Wilsman and his wife also were seeking a way to cut their monthly spending, saving up for a baby on the way.

Both Indianapolis-area families ended up pulling the plug on the same thing: their cable subscription.

They're not alone. Americans are canceling or passing on cable and satellite TV subscriptions in record numbers, according to an Associated Press analysis of the companies' quarterly earnings reports.

Experts say it's the combination of a difficult economy leading people to look for places to cut back and the accessibility of TV shows and movies online. But, they say, those cutting cable are in the minority.

We cut ours about 4 years ago. We were definitely in the minority then. At that point, I was extremely busy with my work- so much so that I never watched at all. My wife didn't like having it, because she tends to use TV like some use the radio, for background sound. With TV, though, you might start getting into the background to the extent that you stop doing what was in the foreground. And, with one little one, and another on the way, we just didn't want TV as the centerpiece of daily life. We even moved the TV out to the garage. That's the only one we have.

I didn't mind losing the cable at all. That was $60/month we began keeping in our pockets. For the last three years, it's another expense I was glad not to have as the work dried up.

But we discovered that you could watch an awful lot of programming online. If you don't absolutely have to watch current shows live, you could watch them two days later on the network's website. That's when I was convinced it was silly to pay for cable.

I actually got hooked on Kojak recently. This came out of seeing Telly Savalas on YouTube clips of old Dean Martin Roasts. All of the Kojak shows are available for free on Hulu. Sure, it's old stuff, but watching has been a fascinating trip down a past that seems like make-believe.

Wow, how much people smoked! Now, nobody I know of has a home where smoking is permitted inside. Then? Incredible how this has changed. Just seeing ashtrays on kitchen tables brought back a flood of memories, curiously. And the liquor! I love scenes in homes on Kojak. Whenever a man comes home, the little lady gets up to fix a drink. I only vaguely remember this kind of thing. My mom was a stay-at-home until I was 12, but my parents didn't drink. It's so foreign to today's world. I cook most of the meals. When either of us come home from a 12-hour day, the other hasn't been waiting with a meal and a cocktail for the moment we cross the threshold, and somehow we're ok with that.

The cars were HUGE. I crack up watching those early 70s boats jammed into Manhattan streets. It makes every scene look like a chase scene, and the actual car chase scenes are hilarious, with the rear-wheel drive beasts fishtailing at every turn.

The lingo is a trip, baby. So are the clothes.

Kojak has shot and killed a criminal in better than 2/3rds of the shows, and he hasn't had his gun taken away, hasn't been put on paid leave, and hasn't been directed to seek counseling. Is it just that today's cop shows add more realism? Or, was a Detective in the clear those days for a job well done?

About 10 episodes into the series, the Miranda Warnings were introduced. The Miranda case was in the late 60s, so maybe this was a late interjection of realism. I love the treatment in the first shows that included Miranda Warnings. Kojak is all old school, starts to read the rights, throws up his hands and has a younger detective or officer read them. Those damn kids!

Money is always good for a laugh. Kojak makes $20,000 for his work. A million dollars is the top heist so far after 17 or 18 episodes. A million! Every time they marvel over a million, I think of Dr. Evil. Most of the thefts are $5,000 - $10,000.

I like Savalas in the show. He has a strange collection of characteristics- old man with a hat, Greek, smoooooth with the ladies, chain smoker, wry humor, chuckling and amused, in charge.

So, who needs cable? I have this archaeological dig to enjoy.

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