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Wanna hear the latest dish?...


And then, while on vacation, I got a pamphlet in the mail. It wasn't even addressed to me. But I was a "resident," and I opened it, as is my right.

Beautiful, curvaceous, honey-scented Dish Network.

I'd seen these deals before, but never paid attention. But this was different. For what I was paying for digital cable, you'd get a box that had a service similar to TiVo. A personal video recorder that holds 35 hours of video! Hot damn! I called. I asked a lot of questions. Turns out you don't need a phone line for it.

Sweet liberation!

I crunched all the numbers. It would cost about the same as digital cable, even with HBO and the WB/UPN package I needed. I was thrilled. I called Time Warner Cable to piss profusely on their little digital cable parade.

They told me that if I dared to defy them — If I dared get rid of digital cable and just kept Road Runner, there would be consequences. They'd jack up my rate. They'd force me to keep basic cable. All told, they were going to gouge $70 a month from me for what I'd been paying $44. And they would beat up anybody I was close to. And slash my tires.


i thought about DSL But no! I'd have to add a phone line and I'd be paying just as much! I'd be taking a huge step back.

What depraved jackals these cable jockeys were! They had me by the coaxial-connected testes.

And yet another player came into the fray: My landlady. She seemed reluctant, lo, unthrilled about my satellite dish fantasy. She was unmoved by my need for PVR pleasure. Her gaeity did not show itself when I tried to tickle her whimsy with tales of MTV2 and lush, digital TV viewing. She would stand in the way of me and 35 hours of automatically recorded Mr. Show and Simpsons episode. This would not do.

I spent an agonizing weekend plotting my strategy. I'd forge her signature. I'd tell her about a recent district appeals court decision saying that renters have the right to satellite feeds even if their landlords are opposed.

I bow to thee, sweet satellite.

Then on Monday, she called back and said I could do it, without any further argument. I was all ready to fax her anonymous news clippings and brochures.

I placed the call, ordered the service, wallowed in my crapulence.

It arrives a week from Saturday.

How will I justify the cost? I'll be writing for MightyBigTV in the fall, I reasoned. That'll pay for it! I won't go see movies anymore. I'll stop eating. I won't use water in the house.

At one point in this whole back-and-forth, Rebecca asked why I always need to have the latest gadgets, like some silicon junkie.

"How many pairs of shoes do you own?" I shot back.

"50," she said, before she backtracked and tried to change it to something in the mid-30s range.

"And how many shoes can you wear at any one time?"

No response.

We left it there, stalemated. She with her Imelda-in-training supply of shoes. Me with my PDAs, cell phones, PlayStation2 games and ordered Dish Network service.

I've learned that I can justify any gratuitous expense in my life if there's enough drama involved.


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