Cholly is waist deep in research right now. He's starting to take his responsibilities as "Love and Sex" editor seriously.
HBO and I haven't been on speaking terms in some time. That bitch hurt me bad. At the end of the last season of Six Feet Under I realized that it had been over for a long time and I just wasn't admitting it. So as these things often do, my love affair with HBO ended over the telephone.
Cable Operator: Are you sure you want to cancel this service Mr. Purpose?
Me: Yes, yes I'm sure.
Cable Operator: May I ask why?
Me: Look, I know it's your job to ask that question, but unlike every other time you ask it, I have an answer. It seems to me that HBO and I have been together a long time and I just feel like HBO takes far more than it gives. Yeah, sure we have some laughs and a good cry together every now and then, but that's not enough. I watch endlessly and in my desperation I've learned to like what's on. No matter what's on. Don't get me wrong, there's still some things that I love about HBO. Of course I'll miss The Wire and oh sweet baby Jesus will I miss the ever living shit out of Boxing. But I can't do it anymore. I can't continue to hand over 10 dollars a month and get self obsessed Larry David and one note jokes like Da Ali G Show in return. And the worst part is, I knew it was over when Mr. Show left. I fucking knew it.
Cable Operator: You could have just said you didn't have time to watch it. I don't have a box I can check for 'falling out of love'. I had to type that whole mess.
Me: You'll have it off by Monday?
Cable Operator: I'll turn it off today if you want. Is that what you want?
Me: Yes, fine, make it today.
Cable Operator: Are you sure? I don't want you to call back in an hour begging me to turn it back on.
Me:Turn it off. Turn it off this minute.
Cable Operator: It's done. I should tell you Mr. Purpose that you will receive a refund for the unused portion of this month's subscription. $3.62 will be credited to your account.
Me: Keep it.
And then I hung up and that was it. One of the longest and most extraordinary relationships I'd ever had came to a very ordinary end, exactly like that season of Six Feet Under. I thought it was over. I had Netflix almost every night and stopped thinking about HBO altogether. Sadly, time and certain other constraints soon drove me to push away Netflix as well. I thought this was also for the best. I thought I finally understood everything. HBO taught me that all relationships, no matter what they're built on, inevitably lead to disappointment and loss. Through my time with Netflix I learned that even if you can have whatever you desire, it too, becomes not enough. I didn't need either of them. Until about a week ago.
HBO slipped back onto my radar in a place I never expected. HBO suddenly started sponsoring podcasts, a few to which I am a regular listener. I first heard it on Cool Shite on the Tube. I actually rewound (or whatever the iPod equivalent is) to hear it again. I thought it was a joke, something the Coolshiters would call a "piss take". Then I heard a similar ad on American Cliche. Then I heard it on another episode of Cool Shite. HBO crept back into my unconscious.
Interestingly enough I haven't heard any mention of this HBO sponsorship on a single Podshow podcast. It's funny, while I listen to Adam Curry's daily struggle with the molding of an unobtrusive advertising model suitable for podcasting, I'm out here being effectively influenced by it. Oh, and as an aside, That noxious Earthlink noise at the beginning of their podcast spots splits my fucking ears. Humans can habituate themselves to many noises; cats meowing, sirens wailing, fat techno beats, the tortured screams of fellow humans, but that god awful Earthlink noise is just not meant for people's ears. It's the noise I imagine damned souls hear inside hell's elevators.
I believe it was the subtlety of HBO's podcast spots that made them most effective. It hadn't been unceremoniously thrust into one of my favorite podcasts complete with it's very own irritating noise, no, these new HBO podcast spots were unobtrusive and they sat just out of consciousness waiting for the right time to strike. That time came when I went to pay my cable bill. As usual, my local cable provider office was filled with merchandising for the various pay channels. Showtime flirted with me, whispering promises of an offbeat and quirky good time. The Movie Channel stood statuesque reminding me of my first youthful dalliances with pay television. Cinemax, as always, shook its ass in my general direction. HBO just stood there waiting for my approach. I swear that O winked at me, just a little. Suddenly I felt all that standoffishness that had held us apart for so long dissipate. HBO caught me on a good day, a day when I felt master of myself and the world around me. It was on before I returned home. Welcome home baby.
Let me tell you, baby has not disappointed. I just watched the first episode from the new season of The Sopranos. If you haven't seen it and someone even seems like they might tell you something about it, you don't hesitate to beat them down Paulie Walnuts style. If that episode is any indication of what's to come then run to the phone and get HBO back. It's The Sopranos you remember loving.
If all of that wasn't enough, my Sunday night just proceeded to get better and better. First, Squadcast returned and though it was only half of the Squadcast crew, it was, as Larry so succinctly put it, twice the show. Even though it was just Larry and Scott it was a nice transition after missing a week. It's nice to ease back into the organized chaos of an ensemble like Squadcast rather than dropping right back in again. Scott closed the show with music from My Little Radio. I'm a sucker for female vocalists fronting for rock bands. Bands like Concrete Blonde and The Short Fuses get my blood moving. After hearing My Little Radio's Waste Another Night, I immediately located their webpage so I could purchase the album. There is no album, yet. I anxiously await it.
After Squadcast I meandered down to the local IHOP and indulged in some pancakes so decadent only the insulin production industry could have concocted them. I recommend the Cinn A Stacks but don't eat them late at night or you'll end up on your blog not knowing how or where to stop.
IHOP also provided something I thought had gone the way of all things, a waitress who knew how to do her job. She was attentive without being intrusive. When I invited her to help me make a choice from the menu, she did so perfectly. When I left her tip, I didn't feel like the victim of some socially sanctioned extortion. I felt like she'd really earned it. I felt like I owed it to her and was happy to pay it.
Speaking of restaurants, there's a podcast out there that's undergone a format change that merits a mention. 4th Time Around was a podcast out of Chicago that I'd listened to and enjoyed somewhat. The episodes I'd heard revolved around the two hosts and how much in love they were. That's cute, but only for a while. Now there's a new name and format. They're going to review restaurants in a freeform style ala Cartalk. I only live a few hours from Chicago and am suddenly keenly interested in this podcast.
***Out Of Touch Movie Review***
Despite certain technical flaws, Halle Berry and Warren Beatty dancing in the nightclub is still the hottest thing I've ever seen on film. Oh yeah, and it's on HBO this month.