FEVER PITCH: An esteemed colleague of ours recently joined the ranks of the satellite TV elite. The whole spectacle has been like a month-long mini-series around here. It all started when his local provider dropped WPIX, which was the only station that beamed in the Yankees games that had become his Sunday morning baseball season ritual.
After all the other setbacks major-league ball fans have had to overcome in the past couple years, our friend was determined to have a good season this year, whatever the cost. And we do mean whatever.
So when national Direct TV started advertising a "special" deal locally, wherein new subscribers could get a dish, two receivers and installation for $400 total, he was all over it. He'd already been slavering over the new technology for some months. Whenever we asked him what he wanted (i.e. for lunch, for Christmas, for next week's paper), he'd answer "a satellite dish." So we were all happy, and happy for him, when his dream was finally within reach.
Ahhh, now nothing stood between Tucson and Yankee Stadium, in all its digitally enhanced glory. Except...Turns out the introductory package our friend originally purchased (at $50 a month, versus the $30 local cable bill) includes only some of the games, the ones broadcast on the Madison Square Garden network.
Not that this really matters, an impartial observer might argue; some is better than none, right? (Woe to that impartial observer.) Turns out these days a man's home might be his castle, but his television is his empire.
And the sun never sets on satellite TV. At least, not if the individual subscriber can help it. So for an additional $119, "payable in four easy installments," our friend is going to conquer the globe without ever missing a single Yankees' game (unless there's a good movie on, which he says there always is, in which case you might find him skulking from room to room, frenetically pressing buttons to program one VCR while straining to watch the screen of whatever TV calls from a distance).
Seriously, he's a man possessed. With eyes that have taken on a pixelated cathode glow, he tells us, "I don't know what I get now...I haven't been able to figure that out. But I know I get more with the package deal...up to 35 more games a week! Baseball is at my command!"
In less than a month, that $30 cable bill has skyrocketed to $570.
"I'll never have to rent a movie again!" he defends. Perhaps not, but he comes in every day panicked over all the movies he hasn't had time to watch; all the channels as yet unexplored. Babbles about digital clarity that blows his mind. Oh, the hope, the heartbreak, the humanity. Scratch that--we mean "insanity."
GIRLS AND GUNS: This just in, from The Weekly's automatic weapons editor, Emil Franzi:
In publication since the Fall of 1996, Border Beat: The Border Arts Journal has become one of the more interesting and iconoclastic magazines in town. The Winter 1998 issue proves it--and will probably drive some politically correct, establishment artsy types nuts by destroying their pre-conceptions.
Too often, those allied with the "gun culture" are thought of as chunky Bubbas in their pickups.
With the feature story "Girls and Guns," Editor Jim Carvallo drives another big hole in that stereotype without even mentioning that the current NRA president is a lady from Florida; or that Tucson attorney Sandy Froman is one of her officers.
So who's packin'? Try Jane Candia Coleman, who writes about the sheer incredulity of New York City types. Leslie Marmon Silko contributes "In the Combat Zone," about the rights of women to protect themselves. And Susan Lowell takes aim with grandma's story of the "Pearl-Handled Derringer."
The issue also boasts two photo spreads, one of huntress Kelly Glenn-Kimbro and another titled Las Soldaderas, illustrating a variety of armed women from the Mexican revolution. I suspect this issue would rattle weenie MCP's as much as it would Sarah Brady and DiFi.
The rest of the issue offers the usual Border Beat suspects, a group of local columnists on a variety of issues, including Phil Murphy (who also serves as president of Brass Roots) on film. A good read.
TAWDRY TOWN: This fun little website is a must for those who collect or just dabble (furtively, behind dusty book stacks) in those trashy paperback novels from the '50s and '60s. In addition to plenty of titbits on virgin cheerleaders who succumb to bad boys on motorcycles and pseudonym-penned lesbian love novellas, the Tawdry Town website has articles by and about printed magazines specializing in curious and obscure publishing trends, information for collectors, and a gallery of vintage covers gleaned from church sales, used bookstores and other locales, with plenty of anecdotal info to supplement your browsing. One favorite is the Russian cashier at a church sale, who tells the buyer, "Ah, you like da sleaze! I poot them all togedder, because I know someone like you come along. I learn da English from these books!"
Beware: These genres abound in cultural stereotypes, and are not for the reactionary (the site's creator rates the content PG-13). But if you're home alone on a Friday night, click on the beating heart icon at www.users.interport.net/~xcentrik/ and check out a little web smut even your minister couldn't frown on too deeply. And don't forget to read the articles!
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