Wednesday, December 7, 2016

"I'm Learning More About Classical Music Than, To Be Honest, I Actually Wanted To"

What an unfathomable sentiment.   Who wouldn’t want to learn more about classical music?  Or about anything, for that matter. 

“I prefer to know less about things.”

And why would that be, my moronic red-italics-injecting interloper?

“Conservation of available brain cells.”

For what?

“For what I actually want and might possibly need to know about, unwilling to discover that I had glutted my brain cells with things I had no wish or need to know more about and now I’m sunk!”

Irrefutable logic.  I am leaving that totally alone. 

It’s not that I don’t want to know about classical music, of which I know virtually nothing.  It’s that the way things are going, I am being maneuvered into a situation in which classical music inundates my daily experience, and, being a man famed for his absorptive proclivities, I imagine, by proximity and osmosis, I will learn more about classical music despite any propelling enthusiasm to do so... is all I’m saying.

How is this inundation happening?

It is happening thusly.

Our cable TV package includes, at the end of the line where the channel numbers extend to four digits, fifty music stations, ranging from “Toddler Tunes” to “Hip-Hop Classics” to “Modern Country” to (occasionally overlapping) “Contemporary Christian.”  (There is no “Jew Song” channel that I am aware of.)

Also available for your listening pleasure are “Solid Gold Oldies” and “Stage and Screen” channels, the former frustrating due to its limited repertoire – have they not heard of “Tallahassee Lassie”? – the latter, dominated by recent Broadway blockbusters like The Book of Mormon.  I mean, how long before “Hello, would you like to change religions and get a free book written by Jesus” wears out its comedical welcome?  I laughed already.  Now, how about some memorable numbers from Subways Are For Sleeping and Bajour?   

I chose “Classical Masterpieces” (Channel 1949 on Time-Warner Cable, which is now Spectrum) and its proximate neighbor “Light Classical” (Channel 1950.  Hold on!  While researching the channel numbers, I noticed two pieces by composer Tor Aulin playing simultaneously on both channels.  Call me crazy but I smell cable classical music “Payola!”)

Okay, where was I, before I blew the lid of this odiferous scandal? 

Oh, yeah. 

I chose these classical music alternatives because the selections are interesting, varied and – with the exception of The William Tell Overture better known as The Lone Ranger Theme Song – unfamiliar to me, offering many pleasurable surprises.  

The more provocative question, however – the question I imagine you are asking yourselves this very moment is,

“Why is he listening to music on television at all?”

The answer is as disheartening as it is simple.

Here is a man who recently admitted to, when he was younger, watching fourteen hours of television at one sitting, minus the obligatory meal breaks and “pit stops.”)  Today, you would not know me as the same person, my viewing repertoire curtailed to virtually nothing.  Although, still loyal to the delivery system, I access my classical music diversions on my television.  What can I tell you?  You don’t turn your back on a friend simply because of crap programming. 

Evidence of a deteriorating viewing schedule:

For over a year, I have watched not a single rerun episode of Law & Order SVU.  It took me twelve years to discover that sex crimes was a truly disreputable form of entertainment.  But I got there.

My enthusiasm for the original Law & Order has also finally worn thin.  After twenty-six years of steadfast viewership, I am beginning to find the show disturbingly formulaic. 

Seinfeld reruns?  I am aware of the superiority of the chocolate babka.   I’m bored!

I have cut way back on watching football.  I checked out a game recently and in the span of ten minutes, they stopped play five times because of injuries.  I saw two guys limp off grimacingly after the same play.  I was surprised anyone was willing to replace them.  “Not me, man.  That game’s dangerous.”

The hour dramas are, on aggregate, too grim.  (Though I am kind of partial to Bull.)  The comedies – which was my business, after all – well… they create sitcoms not meant to attract viewers of my generation and – what can I tell you? – I am not attracted to them.    

And, of course, cable news is permanently off the list.  Elaboration unnecessary.  (At times, I find myself reflexively pressing their numbers on my remote.  Then I realize what I’ve done and quickly scamper away.)

As you can see, my viewing alternatives have been seriously decimated.  The question is, with these multiple “cross-outs” on my previous “Must-See” itinerary…

What then am I supposed to watch?

Answer:  Channel nineteen hundred and forty-nine and nineteen hundred and fifty.

Learning to distinguish Bartok from Berlioz.

Hopefully, some day, this will matter to me.

As for now…

I miss actual television. 


Stephen Marks said...

Enjoy the music Earl, don't fight it. If it's not baroque don't fix it. I got into it about a year ago. If you have time go to youtube and key in Celtic Woman Jesu Joy of Man's Desiring, a J.S. Bach song. You'll think you're in heaven.

JED said...

Our family spends more screen time watching Netflix and DVDs (and even VHS tapes) than we do watching TV. And most of the TV we watch is the local news and most of that is the weather so I can answer the question, "Can I ride my scooter to work today?"

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