First, a little background. Cable, phone and Internet are all packaged together in New York City. If you want all three, you pay Time Warner Cable about $200 a month (give or take a few bucks depending on whether you buy any premium channels, go without a phone, get an extra cable box for the bedroom, etc.). This is the only non-satellite option that is generally available to most New York City residents. And given that battling with a landlord over satellite installation would be about as much fun as jamming a PEZ dispenser into your eye, most people just go with Time Warner.
But here's the thing. Time Warner Cable sucks.
It is fucking terrible.
One of the contributors to this blog recently observed that "I hate [my cable box] more than anything else including terrorism." It's not big things. They don't superimpose turtlenecks over Emmanuelle Chiriqui (scwhing!schwing!) during episodes of Entourage or anything like that. But the little stuff adds up. The sound cuts out for no particular reason sometimes. If you tape one football game for more than ten minutes you lose every episode of the Daily Show that you taped last week. It costs a fucking fortune, etc. But such is life, right? You deal with it or you shop elsewhere. Well that's all well and good, but now they are just trying to piss me off. Because of the aforementioned problem of keeping a five-hour Superbowl on tape, my old cable box crashed. You remember the one:
Who would have thought I would ever miss you?
So we had to get a new one. I cannot find a picture of it on the web, but it is (a) bigger, (b) uglier, and (c) about a thousand fucking times worse than the old one. Micro League Baseball on Mike Gray's Commodore 64 had a better graphics array than the display on this fucking thing (side note: someone told me that the software changed regardless of the cable box; seems odd that it happened the day we got the new box, but whatever). The machine is about as responsive to the remote control as Mrs. Side Bar is to me on a Tuesday morning (zing!). And the fast forwarding. Dear god the fast forwarding. Like the old model, this cable box offers the user a choice between several different speeds of fast-forward. But it's really no choice at all. It either goes so slowly that you might as well watch the commercials, or so quickly that you jump 5-10 minutes into the program before you can get it to play at a normal speed again. How the fuck are the Mets already losing, the Phillies haven't batted yet? Oh wait, I just fast-forwarded into the middle of the 6th. Neat.
I think it's on pause.
I know this may seem like it is not a big deal, but I would be the first to admit that I watch a lot of television. And when DVR technology first came out, it was pretty amazing. But Time Warner has managed to make it so fucking tedious to use it that it just amounts to a huge step backwards.