Mary Ellen and I have been spending a lot of time on the couch watching our big-screen TV. It’s the same crapola that was on our small-screen TV, only everything is larger. Now it seems even crapolier than before.
I am easily entertained. For example, I’m a big fan of cooking shows on NPR. I listen to this woman making veal scaloppine on the radio. I can’t see the dish; I can’t smell the dish; but I drool all over the steering wheel. Last year, one of the cable channels aired a yule log burning in a fireplace around the clock at Christmastime, and I watched it for three weeks. I was so captivated that I requested NPR also put it on the radio so I could listen to the wood crackling while driving.
This month, Mary Ellen and I have enjoyed several old movies, but mostly we’ve watched music. Yes, watched music. Just like the old days of MTV, with one difference. There’s nothing to look at. It’s pretty much a blank screen. You see, with our cable service, you get simply music playing on about 25 channels. Each station features a different genre, such as R&B, hip-hop, reggae, soul, smooth jazz, rough jazz, heavy metal, light metal, hard rock, soft rock and sedimentary rock.
As a rule, I’m really bad at comprehending what a movie is about, so I thought the music channels would take the pressure off my wife, who always has to explain the plot to me.
“Sorry, I had to go the bathroom, Mary Ellen. Did I miss anything?
“Yes, you missed the beginning of Bach’s Cello Concerto in D minor. And no, I’m not going to hum it for you.”
“Can you explain it to me?”
“You can’t explain music. That would be very difficult.”
“Then let’s switch to Easy Listening.”
While the screen is basically a dull gray, there are sometimes ads in one corner, and they also throw in interesting facts about the song or the artist playing in the other. The promotional spots on the classical music stations are for reverse mortgages, life insurance and state-of-the-art catheters. The heavy metal channels promote acne creams and tattoo parlors. Apparently, you can go bankrupt at any age.
I’ve discovered that most of the symphonies and operas were written by classical musicians when they were mere youngsters. Impressive, but in all fairness, what else was there to do in the 1700s? No Internet, no iPhone 4G. Not even the 2G.
Often the factoids leave you wanting to know more. For example, the 13th-century composer Leonin wrote his music at Notre Dame. Fine, but did he play basketball there and could he hit a three-pointer?
Usually these little tidbits of history are kind of dull, so I did a little research of my own and found three unknown pieces of classical trivia:
- Johann Sebastian Bach’s wife made him a sandwich to take to work every day and is credited with inventing the Bach’s lunch.
- Beethoven was not deaf. He just had heard enough already.
- It wasn’t that Brahms didn’t like children, he just liked them better when they were sleeping.
I’m tiring of these channels. Mary Ellen said if really wanted to, I could watch the Colts game this Sunday. That was music to my ears.
Television personality Dick Wolfsie writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.