In the overwired media saturated world most of us live in, just about anywhere and everywhere one heads off to, one can get access to various form of media, both the visual and audible kind. Although that same form of media can be obtained through invisible methods, most of what the standard user obtains receives it in exchange for some kind of tariff or fee. This price is one has to shell out on a month-to-month basis just to gain access, from the basic internet connection to the moving imagery one views their TV programming on demand.
It’s hard to conceive for many of the domestic demographics currently in existence that television, no matter what method one consumes this medium (traditional video monitor, phone device, electronic had, etc.) was once available for the cost of nothing! Just place an outdoor antenna on the roof, turn on the TV machine, and if the reception is decent, one will receive video pictures and audio sounds coming out from that box. One can use an indoor antenna as well, from the classic “rabbit ears” device or a simple metal rod. Just as one can pick up a signal from somewhere, then TV broadcasts are there for the “taking”–for gratis!
Since the 1980’s, cable television started to become the be-all-to-end-all when it came to consuming video. Depending on one’s chose of programming as well as the source providing it, one can receive some 35 channels (later moving toward 50, 75, 100 and even 200+ video outlets) that offer news, sports, kid’s programs, educational/instructional program material, and many other kind of shows to fit most interests and personal tastes. For an additional fee, one can get channels featuring uncut and uncensored movies and some original shows that are just as uncut and unedited! And best of all, there were no annoying commercials to sit through! Unless one wanted to move away from the TV set in order to grab some snacks from the kitchen or to answer nature’s call, the viewer would have to sit through the entire show not missing out of anything. There would be no breaks or pauses in the action. But that is the price to pay–outside of the monthly charge one can to shell out to receive those uncensored movies and stuff–to consume “premium” TV. Those cable companies that sold this service never called it as “pay TV”! It was usually billed as “premium television”, “upscale channels”, or some other moniker that made the subscribers believe that they were getting their money’s worth for the privilege of watching movies that has all of the original sex and violence attached to it, peppered with loads of cussing heard on its soundtrack!
Although TV choices and its equivalent are no longer limited to what’s being fed through a coax cable, one can get one of those TV streaming devices (Apple TV, Roku, etc.) that plugs into a monitor through a special cable while the box itself is plugged into to a cable or line feeding an internet based connection. However, one still has to pony up to get those choices. The TV viewer can see the same kind of shows as fed through a coax. There’s the news, sports, educational, kid-vid, and other picks for those that wants it! (Don’t forget the uncensored stuff, too!) But as long as one shells out the bucks for the selected privilege, then it’s there for all!
But get this folks! It’s quite possible to get selected television program choices all for the taking! That’s right, gang. This is TV that one doesn’t have to steal ‘cuz it’s free! No cost! Sans charge! On the house!
And how can one get all of that TV for nothing? It’s easy, simple, and best of all, it’s free! (Or nearly free!) Just place a TV antenna on the roof of one’s dwelling, or find a pair of classic style “rabbit ears” and connect it to the antenna input of the TV device. If your reception is good, you will receive high definition signals coming from local stations. That is how it’s done, just like the the days of old. Granted, one may not receive as many channels as one would get from a cable company of those internet connected TV boxes. However, how many channels one really needs to watch? With 200+ channels at one’s disposal, it’s not likely, if not humanly possible, to view every bit of video imagery at any point in time. Besides, not every channel of programming is for all personal tastes. So if you don’t care to watch kickboxing matches but would rather tune to through provoking documentaries, what channel are you going to tune to, The Kickboxing Channel? Unless The Kickboxing channel programs a documentary on kickboxing so something of that ilk, you will be out of luck!
So there you go folks! That good ol’ TV antenna that’s been masted on the roof for years still works to this very day! And think of the return of investment one’s going to get! In 1976, Radio Shark offered its Realistic brand VHF/UHF outdoor antenna that was easy to set up that cost around $19.95 in 1976 dollars. According to an online inflation calculator found at http://www.in2013dollars.com/, $19.95 would be equal to around $85.23–the same price for a month’s worth of cable/satellite TV! Sure, you may get more channels for that money, but considering that the antenna, some 41 years old, is still working! Not bad for a device that’s already reached its mid point in its life! No “over the hill” celebrations needed for that!
NEWS AND REVIEWS
BALL YARDS, Chuck Faerbar’s comical satire of the world of sports, makes its world premier at The Zephyr Theatre located in the heart of the Melrose district of Los Angeles.
In this show, a series of short vignettes that deal with the subjects on sports are presented through various means. The skits consists of a leader of a Ku Klux Klan chapter practices his golf swing at a southern based golf course while in “uniform”, a poet laureate radio program host heard on publicly supported media makes his effort of commentary waxing poetic upon a baseball legion, a pair of TV play-by-play personalities for a college football game gets more into discussing “blue-chip” team material rather than the actual match-up, a football player making a switch to participating in springboard diving, a meeting between the head coach of the Olympic woman’s field hockey team and a TV producer with the attempt to spin a backstory on the coach making it more dramatic that is would be otherwise, a sports commentator with a hidden obsession for Condoleezza Rice, and other passing episodes that develops the elements of post-modern sports as just what it is.
This collection of skits written by Chuck Faerbar that speak about the subject of sports are not limited to “the big four” (baseball, basketball, football, and hockey), which gives this collection a slice of its appeal. In fact, basketball is barley covered here, while hockey is only limited to woman’s field hockey–the one time fodder of ABC’s Wide World of Sports and currently serves as occasional filler material airing on ESPN2 and/or ESPN-U. The comic quality of the skits in question are somewhat hit and miss. A selection of these scenes, such as a sports radio commentator opening his show “Jim Rome” style with rapid barbs and “drop-in” sound effects, is rather amusing, while other vignettes become a bit on the serious side, meaning that it may not feel proper to laugh at times. But the effort and promise for comical satire does exists here. In this show, a cast of seven performers consisting of (as listed in alphabetical order), Marissa Drammissi, Bryon Hays, John Marzilli, Mike Ross, Matt Shea, Scott Takeda, and Chris Wood) appear as various single characters, along with a few that do make a cross reference in continuity.
Richard Kulman directs this one-act showcase that moves in a rather quick pace. Even though the vignettes are not necessarily connected to one another, the backdrop as designed by Gary Lee Reed serves as its link, made up as three white panels that swing as a wall parallel to most of the audience, or as perpendicular depending on the skit. There is a locket room setting off stage left and a chain link fence corner off stage right, but most of the action is performed within the center stage area. These facts on the staging, among other visual stage elements not mentioned within this review, may appear to be boring but is important to this stage production nevertheless.
BALL YARDS may consist of a stadium, open playing field, a media studio, or any space where the game of sports is played or discussed. There are other locations as well such as sports bars with their massive amount of table space, stools to plop one’s rear ends on, along with enough TV screens to conger tremendous eye strain–not counting the noise level heard at these joints! Perhaps a place such as that that can be used as a subject matter for the sequel to this anthology. (Ditto for any attempt to watch a televised game on a 2” screen found on a smartphone face!) But as long as there will be an interest in the game of sports, BALL YARDS will prevail!
BALL YARDS, presented by Theatre Planners and performs at The Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Avenue, Los Angeles, until August 27th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 3:00 PM. For ticket reservations or for more information, call (323) 960-7738, or online at http://www.Plays411.com/BallYards
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