Today’s Probing Question: Should I Get Cable Again?
I cut off my cable TV service in November of last year. I still pay Time Warner for the internet service in my home (I could never live without both!) but my TV is kind of a blank box right now, fillable by DVDs and content streamed through my computer. (I avoid the need for one of those streaming boxes by having an s-video cable that connects the computer to the TV.)
In just over six months I have saved about $500 of my meager income by not having cable. The cost is the only con to having cable television. It’s frickin’ expensive. I cut mine off during a period when I was skipping from one temp job to another, with stretches of unemployment in between, and money was tight. Cutting off your cable is one of the first things you’re supposed to do in that situation, because it’s a luxury. Thanks to Netflix and Hulu, for a long time I barely noticed that cable was gone. (In that, I am part of an ongoing cultural trend.) There is just one major nagging loss here.
TURNER CLASSIC MOVIES.
Today is Humphrey Bogart day over at Turner Classic Movies. Every August they do “Summer Under the Stars” in which each day is devoted to movies starring one particular celebrity. Reading online today about the Bogeyfest filled me with longing to be a part of it. I came home from work and watched The Big Sleep, which I have on DVD. And which I LOVE. Do not get me wrong. But I’ve seen it already; I’ve seen it a bunch of times. What I’d really like to watch would be a Bogey movie I haven’t seen—Beat the Devil or The Harder They Fall—or one I’ve only seen once—In a Lonely Place or High Sierra.
Three of those movies are on the schedule for today. I could be watching or recording any or all of them.
Of course, all of these movies are attainable for me on DVD, either to buy or to borrow from Netflix or the library. The problem is that those options require pre-planning. I have almost constant occurrences of the following scenario: [Erin talks to self] “Hey, you know what movie is so good? I haven’t seen it in so long? The Thin Man! I should see if that’s streaming! …Oh it’s not.”
A few weeks ago, I wanted to see The Thin Man, with William Powell. I didn’t have it available. So, I watched My Man Godfrey (which was streaming) twice, just because I was in that William Powell mood. But I don’t really like My Man Godfrey that much! The exchange about the horse is hilarious, but Carole Lombard’s character is nauseating, and the ending makes no sense. Conversely, in The Thin Man, Powell is paired with Myrna Loy, who is the stone-cold awesomest. Anyway, I requested the movie from the library and had it within a couple of days, along with one of its sequels.
(And don’t think this is going to turn into one of those Netflix diatribes about how nothing worth watching is ever streaming and blah blah blah. OH do I hate those. I have Netflix friended on Facebook and there is literally not a single post that goes by, on any topic, where some a-hole doesn’t post some passive aggressive bitchery about “I don’t understand why Netflix doesn’t just stream all of their content.” It’s because of licensing rights, idiots. Get over it.)
My problem is not with the limitations of Netflix, or with other movie-borrowing services, most of which I find so convenient and wonderful. What I really miss is happening upon movies I am interested in—sitting down on a Saturday morning with my bagel and my cup of tea and saying, “A Letter to Three Wives is starting in ten minutes! Score!” Or having hours and hours of recordings at my disposal. When I had cable and, by extension, DVR, I almost always had that thing about 90% full with movies. And I’d sit down and say, “I’m going to watch one of these.” Some days I’d sit down and watch three or four of these. Sometimes you record a movie and have to wait a few months to be in the mood for it. When the mood to watch it actually strikes you, isn’t it nice to still have it there? Unfortunately, sometimes one of those six months movies sneaks to the top of your Netflix queue and suddenly you’ve had Brazil sitting on the mantle for ten weeks and nothing new coming in in the meantime.
Mostly I’m just whining here. I want to see more movies, more varied movies, I want a movie channel playing constantly in my house! Netflix is wonderful, but lately my laptop has been experiencing Netflix-induced fevers and I’m trying to limit my streaming. So all day, every day, is not an option.
But the money! Dear God, the money. Cable is so expensive, and there are so many channels I have zero interest in having. So, for now, this is where I land: watching The Big Sleep again, wishing it was In a Lonely Place. And saving my pennies for what will hopefully be a more financially promiscuous future.