Huffman column – Cable is gone, and I do not miss it

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In the six months since Time-Warner yanked my cable over a dispute involving $20, I’ve made a fascinating discovery.
Books are wonderful creations.
No, I mean it. They’re wonderful.
For the sake of full disclosure, I should admit that Time-Warner’s action didn’t mark the first time a cable company has pulled the plug on my TV.
Over the years, there have been occasions where I’ve forgotten to pay my cable bill, sauntered into the living room to watch a documentary like “Deal or No Deal” and switched on the tube to find myself greeted by what appears to be a hand cam filming inside an Arctic blizzard.
On all 126 channels.
No Howie Mandel! No hottie models!
Oh! The humanity!
And, before, I’d always wax indignant for a week or two, vowing that I’d had it up to here with these people and ó by golly! ó they’d never get another dime out of me!
And then, once that first week passed and the pains of withdrawal from not getting to watch reruns of “American Gladiator” or “America’s Funniest Home Videos” became too much, I’d sheepishly lower my head and trek to the cable office where I’d beg forgiveness, pay my bill and promise to sin no more.
But I took another course of action when my cable was pulled in February. I found the rabbit-ear antennas I’d stuck away in the back of the garage and hooked ’em to my TV.
The resulting reception is surprisingly good.
I can’t get the cable channels that feature classics like “Dog the Bounty Hunter” or “Pimp My Ride,” but the major network stations come in crystal clear.
I can still watch “Jeopardy!” and “Seinfeld,” and with the exception of college football and basketball, there’s little else on TV that interests me.
(Well, there is The History Channel, but these are the sacrifices we must make if we’re going to stick it to the man … er, the cable company.)
Now, back to those aforementioned books.
Without TV to occupy my time, I’ve become a voracious reader.
OK, “voracious” might be a bit of a stretch, but I have gotten to where I read quite a bit. I’ve read 12 books in the past six months, which is about 11 more than I typically read in a year.
I’ve read “In Harm’s Way,” a terrifying account of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, and “Enemy at the Gates,” the story of the World War II battle for Stalingrad.
I’ve read biographies about “Pistol” Pete Maravich and Joe Namath. I’d highly recommend “Black Hawk Down” and “Killing Pablo,” both written by Mark Bowden.
I finished “Farewell, My Subaru” (hilarious) just last week and am about to tackle “Fool’s Paradise” by fishing guru John Gierach.
I’ve gotten to where I’m on a first-name basis with several local librarians.
Better still, when I get the occasional solicitation from Time-Warner addressed to “Future customer,” I snicker, toss it in the trash and say to myself, “No, I ain’t.”