Give up your HBO, says the thundering voice

25 Sep

I'm thrifty, not a penny pincher--the copper coin remains!

In aid of my search for thrifty luxury, I saw a neatly laid-out book at the Cleveland Public Library: Be Thrifty…Not Cheap, edited by Pia Catton and Califia Suntree. Just the ticket, thought I, and began leafing through its pages. Some chapters applied to my lifestyle, others didn’t. Interesting,  but nothing raised my eyebrows till I reached a segment of the introduction, innocuously titled “A Selective Spending Experiment.” This focused on entertainment, particularly on subscriptions. Examine them, said the authors. Consider the annual ones you paid for online, the self-renewers you don’t use. I was okay with that. I never use my online Visual Thesaurus, and get a virus checker through my workplace, so Norton could go. I no longer have an exercise subscription, and no monthly music dues are paid. So I was feeling good about myself–not even a magazine subscription at the moment (though I want Wired). But then those crafty authors swooped in and sternly suggested, “How about giving up cable television?”

Bubbles says, "Don't ever leave me!"

What! I’m not a big television watcher–I tend to forget what nights my favorites are on, so it’s regulars like The Daily Show or The Colbert Report that have my loyalty. But the whole reason I got cable in the first place was because of HBO series. I love me some Sopranos, some Six Feet Under, The Wire, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Hung, some of True Blood, Made in America, Eastbound and Down. The authors say, “Go a la carte! Download what you want from iTunes or elsewhere–it won’t add up to what you pay per month (which is $120 from Time Warner, including WiFi). Well, that’s probably so. But…

A moment of silence...no! I need my HBO!

Oh, and I’m NOT giving up Netflix! I do get my money’s worth from it, and even the recent split of streaming and by-mail doesn’t have me hot and bothered, because I remember when I paid $20 a month and it wasn’t quite as fast a by-mail turnaround. So far I just can’t cancel HBO for the sake of experiment, though whether I exploit that subscription fully I don’t know. I’m trimming the fat elsewhere–but I recognize it IS fat. If I spent $120 a month on live (or live-ish) entertainment, what might I see?

More plays at Playhouse Square. The latest Cleveland Playhouse Bertold Brecht performance, Galileo, has gotten good reviews, and I love a good play (Karamu House had a great one last Spring with Ruined). I’m going to go and see it because I can get $20 tickets for the Sunday, Oct. 2 at the 7:30 performance , all of which goes towards scholarships for CSU drama and dance students–have to be bought via  Kate Miller at 216-687-2113 further info on the web. More performances at Playhouse Square–like the Rock Hall’s Aretha Franklin Tribute on Nov. 5 (tickets don’t go on sale till Sept. 28). I’ve been to several of these American Music Masters Concerts and they’re worth every penny–I still remember the 2005 Sam Cooke tribute with performances by Elvis Costello, Solomon Burke, Gavin DeGraw, The Blind Boys of Alabama, Lou Rawls and more–outstanding.

Hey–while I’m still chafing about the very thought of abandoning HBO, get your free music on! Playhouse Square has 15 free downloads of songs from musicals, all with the password “PLAYHOUSE” when you go to their site and click (watch the moving ad band to see it, and first open iTunes on your computer). And I’m not just talking about ancient musicals (wonderful as they are)–no, we’ve got recent Broadway hits from Fela!,  Mamma Mia and more. Thanks, Playhouse Square!

And back to the matter at hand. For that $120/month entertainment budget, I could pay also pay for my Netflix habit, hear live music at House of Blues or cover-charge clubs, go to some festivals–yes, it could stretch. But not yet.

Do you think you could do it, if it were just a choice, rather than a must-do economic solution? Would it get you out of the house more, ready for adventurous new directions?

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