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Do You Have The Princess Mononoke Channel?

2005-01-15 - 9:29 a.m.

Remind me to tell you guys about the curse that was placed on me. There are dead animals involved.

Before I begin this entry, I need to bring up Mean Girls again. In this film, there is a moment when one of the school's "Desperate Wannabes" tells the camera, when asked to explain local Queen Bee Regina George, "One time, Regina George punched me in the face. It was AWESOME." The "AWESOME" should not be an exclamation, but an almost orgasmic exhalation, for those of you who haven't seen the movie. Those who have seen the movie will know exactly how I make the following statement about a certain world-famous gender theorist and Berkeley academic superstar:

Yesterday, Judith Butler cut me off in traffic. It was AWESOME.

Seriously, she totally ran the Stop sign when it was CLEARLY my turn. This was me in my car: "ExCUSE ME, but it was CLEARLY my turn to go through ya goddamn . . . Judith Butler?" Now that I know she's a bad driver I want her to hit my car so that I can make her sit on my dissertation committee.

Anyway, as much as I want to talk about the curse that was placed on me and how I overcame it with the help of my friends, I need to air out my feelings about what will no doubt be an important decision: to buy cable or not to buy cable.

I have never had to make this decision before. Through high school, naturally, I lived at home, and The Notorious MOM could no more do without cable than I could. In college, all the dorms had basic cable along with what we lovingly called Resnet, a movie channel that showed movies as soon as they came out on video. It even had another channel timed three hours later in case you missed something the first time. It was also used by film classes to show movies so that people wouldn't have to worry about going to screenings (what I wouldn't give to have that for this next semester, when I'll have to miss all the screenings for my Bollywood class). And for one glorious summer, Resnet also offered the Princess Mononoke Channel.

See, there were a couple of channels on Resnet devoted to university programming, such as the show run by the jokers at Pi Lam (the prerequisite geeky stoner frat--I loved a lot of the guys at Pi Lam, but I wouldn't set foot in their house if you paid me). In the summers, these channels had nothing on. One summer, however, some brilliant individual decided to play Princess Mononoke--one of Hayao Miyazaki's anime masterpieces--on a loop all day, every day. When my friends and I moved in early (being theatre peeps, we usually were working either on the beginning-of-the-year show or on Penn Life Sketches, the freshmen orientation sketches, which were actually really funny and informative and considered the best part of orientation every year), we discovered the joys of always being able to watch Princess Mononoke no matter what the hour of the day or night. I was actually the only one of my friends who had actually seen Princess Mononoke in the theatres, courtesy my dear friend Herculine (who will be largely featured in an upcoming rant-based entry), the Japanophile who introduced me to this classic film as well as one of the most extraordinary mini-series of all time, the anime classic Neon Genesis Evangelion (seriously, check it out sometime). However, by the end of the week everyone had seen all of Princess Mononoke, although no one had ever sat through it start to finish. I was often called on to explain things ("Okay, so that's Ashitaka, and he's got those weird marks on his arm because he was attacked by a boar god who had been turned into a demon as a result of being shot by--look, I didn't write this, okay"), but eventually we all grew to love the film, and on the day we turned to the Princess Mononoke Channel to find only static, we felt as though a cornerstone of our lives had been removed. We eventually decided that Princess Mononoke had moved in with me and my roommates, taking the room that never got slept in because a certain someone usually slept at his girlfriend's place. It was a nice arrangement, after we got her over her show getting canceled. We were worried she'd never lay off the hooch.

Anyways, so cable was never a problem during college. While Resnet did not include HBO, those of us in the dorms could rely on those off campus to host viewings for such indispensible shows as The Sopranos and Sex and the City. In fact, these parties made for great viewing, particularly in the case of SatC, as it was usually followed with a discussion of how we related to what happened in various episodes, and which character we most corresponded with. That's how I discovered that many people saw me as Samantha Jones, and how I learned to love that aspect of myself.

When I moved back to Austin, I didn't even have a TV at my apartment, but whenever I needed to watch something I went over to The Notorious DAD's to check it out on the big screen. I usually spent three nights a week there. It was at his house that I got hooked on Carnivale and Deadwood, the latter being a much better show but the former managing to be addictive in a more subtle way.

When I arrived here in Berkeley, I was THRILLED to discover free illegal cable. It was not my fault. The cable company hadn't properly disconnected the cable from the previous tenant, and so I was able to watch for a few precious months. Granted, I didn't have Cartoon Network--the home of Futurama, The Family Guy, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Sealab 2021, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Teen Titans, The Powerpuff Girls, all fantastic pieces of programming--but I did have Comedy Central, which meant that I had The Daily Show, which meant that I was able to survive election night. Really, Jon Stewart's crestfallen smile at the results of the gay marriage votes may have been the only thing that kept me from a killing spree.

Then the cable went out. It actually went out at the best time possible: right before I needed to get cracking on my papers. I finished the semester really early, probably due in part to nothing being on at home.

Now, however, I am back in Berkeley, and while I was able to survive without HBO last fall because I knew that none of the shows I'm addicted to were on (I managed to catch up on Six Feet Under the weekend I went home in September), Carnivale has started up again and Deadwood won't be far behind. Not to mention the fact that HBO is starting a new series set in Ancient Rome called, appropriately enough, Rome. How cool will that be? I also feel like the only way I can get through four more years of Bush will be with Jon Stewart's help.

However, there's the question of cost. As in, cable costs a shitload of money, particularly if I go with the internet package as well. I have wireless on campus, and wireless at a local cafe, so I can certainly live without it. But it would be a great convenience.

The other problem is that I am well aware that if I had cable I would not get a lot of shit done. The idiot box lives up to its name. I can justify having set times to watch The Daily Show and Adult Swim and the HBO Series, but I got sucked in to marathons of MadTV or The West Wing, and I know it can happen again. My life might be better without those distractions.

Dammit. See, once upon a time, my friends and I realized that we should be able to pick what channels we want and leave the rest, and only be charged for those channels we used. It would make life so much easier. As indicated, I would need HBO, Comedy Central, and Cartoon Network. I would also want Spike TV (for MXC and Star Trek reruns), Food Network (for Iron Chef reruns), Bravo (for the free gay porn that is Manhunt--please bring back that show!), BBC America (for Changing Rooms, The Office, and Monty Python and AbFab reruns), maybe Trio (they show Tori concerts), and maybe Starz. That's it. I don't need any sports channel, because I couldn't care less about sports. News channels have become a joke (with joke news becoming real, naturally). MTV and VH1 would be too much of a distraction. And all the others are crap, especially Showtime, which I kinda feel bad for when I think about how much it blows now. I should be more supportive of the channel that shows Queer as Folk and The L Word, but then I try to watch Queer as Folk or The L Word and then have to go throw up somewhere.

Although Shkbob is right. Karina Lombard is scorchingly hot. Although Shkbob refers to her as "That one chick on The L Word that I think is hot." However, not worth paying extra for Showtime.

I think, when all is said and done, I'm probably going to throw my hands up and by the cable package with two movie channels: HBO and Starz. I'll try my darnedest to resist flipping them on as a matter of course, but I also know that I really enjoy being able to unwind with Jon Stewart, or Master Shake, Frylock, and Meatwad, or Lila the Bearded Lady. Not to mention the boys at Manhunt. Seriously, Bravo, I think I speak for a number of gay men in America when I say you should get on that again.

Although do me a favor and wait a week or two. I need to schedule an appointment.

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previous - next

The End - 2005-02-11
Let's Go on With the Show - 2005-01-30
The Curse, and This Bee's a Keeper - 2005-02-01
Sisters Lolita and Matronic Explain It All for You - 2005-01-31
Cowboys and Medievalists - 2005-01-30

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