Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Mixed Signals

A few years ago, after becoming increasingly frustrated with the cable company, my wife and I decided to go with satellite. Now we have more channels than we'd ever watch, and some of the ones I'd never heard of are fairly entertaining, not so much due to their content, but because I'm intrigued that someone would go through the effort to create them -- and that (apparently), enough other people would watch them to comprise a decent market.

There's a research channel, for instance. It shows college lectures. Lots of them. I've watched a presentation by a political communications professor, one by a Nobel-Prize winning astronomer, and a few others that were good for curing insomnia. I don't remember what they said, but I do remember that I need to reupholster my chair, which is the thing that finally woke me up.

But perhaps the most intriguing channel to me right now is a high-definition movie channel -- the name of which escapes me, since on the menu it appears only as a string of five letters, acronym-style -- that plays old films in true HD. That's a pretty neat thing, because some of these films (like James Bond movies) are the sort you really want to lose yourself in, and it's easier to lose yourself if you can tell what the threadcount is on the sheets of Bond's bed.

So it's great, in that you can immerse yourself in the HD scenes -- right up to the commercial breaks. And that's the part that intrigues me: The channel also has commercials. See, to my thinking, an HD movie and a commercial break are philosophically at odds with each other. One immerses, and the other interrupts. It's great to be able to see the rifling on the bullets being fired in a film, but not so great to be able to count chancres on a Girls Gone Wild ad, or see up Billy May's maw well enough to know he needs work on his third, upper-right molar. That sort of thing can derail a mind for life.

I was excited when I first found the channel, but not so thrilled at the ads, not because I'm philosophically against ads -- heck, I have a child, and need the break so I can make him sandwiches -- but because the combination makes so little sense. A paid subscription channel would make sense, but HD films don't mix well with Billy Mays.

Come to think of it, very little does.

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