Posted in Family, Recovery

Superb Owl Sunday (OR… The Anthropology of Advertising)

football owl
image courtesy of

So I hear the Super Bowl was  last Sunday! Who knew?

Well, okay—everybody else knew.  This is one of the “social side-effects” of having no television channels. Last weekend’s Super Bowl actually came to our attention accidentally a few days before the game, when a nursing assistant asked us which team we’d be rooting for.

Long pause.

Gosh, I dunno… Who’s even playing?

Keoni underwent spine surgery last Thursday, so we got to stay several nights in the extravagant austere accommodations of a local hotel hospital, enjoying amenities like the every-thirty-minute-wake-up service  (“How are you feeling? Are you getting some sleep?”) and the test-your-specificity-meal-service (“Silly Patient, why would you think a toast-request would include any spread ON the dry toast?”) and the how-many-ways-can-we-mess-up-your-meds challenge… AND …(drum roll please)… Cable Television!

hospital gown
Keoni modeling the latest in “hospital couture”

We don’t have TV at home, so we took this opportunity to geek out on the Food Network, just for the pure novelty of it. Keoni scribbled down recipes and ideas, and now I’m looking forward to oxtail soup and menudo with tripe… But by the time the the hospital turned us loose, the novelty of watching TV had been pretty well exhausted. (There’s only so much a person can take of Paula Deen stretching every syllable into three phonetic units, y’all.)

It’s actually amusing at times to see people’s reactions to the idea of having no television channels. What, no channels? Not even the antenna-channels?  But… Why?!?

As our son Christian has observed: “A lot of times when someone asks ‘Why?‘ … ‘Why not‘ is a pretty good answer.” In this case, we can also add the observation that we truly don’t miss having TV.

Netflix vs. Library
YES, our kids have library cards!

We read. A LOT. And we really get our money’s worth out of our seven-bucks-per-month Netflix subscription. Streaming TV shows through Netflix has thoroughly spoiled us, actually, because we get to watch without any of the blasted commercial interruptions, and we can always go straight to the subsequent episode instead of having to wait a week to find out what happens next! (Yeah, patience has never been my strong suit…)

Depending on my writing topics—and how much focus they require of me—I often play programs on Netflix while I work on freelance assignments. If my assignment isn’t a real “thinker,” I can keep at least part of my brain entertained while I’m writing mindless and repetitive tripe.

Bovine-belly Sidebar… It strikes me as ironic that the cow intestines (tripe) in my menudo have fantastic flavor, but the same term applied to writing indicates “worthless rubbish.”  A case of offal vs. awful, I guess…

television is furniture
(image courtesy of

We tend to go “marathon style” when we find a show we like on Netflix. We’ll start with the pilot episode and watch all the way through the seasons available on Netflix. And when that mid-show pause hits in the middle of each episode—a few seconds of black screen where the ads would normally go—Christian utters an exaggerated sigh and deplores the need “to wait through all those darn commercials”… We still haven’t gotten tired of the joke—maybe because (even in our fifth year without television) it’s still a celebration. We really hate commercials.

We do find it interesting to observe, though, how there’s a sort of “missing slice” of cultural/social awareness that comes from NOT being exposed to advertising. I didn’t used to notice how often people reference TV ads in conversation, until I’d begun responding to those references with a shrug and a “don’t-have-TV” explanation. What is it about ads that they butt into conversation so regularly? Maybe it’s just because the jingle-writers are doing their jobs and the things are sticking in people’s heads. Or maybe it’s because ads are a cultural common denominator, a “language” everyone knows. (Except us, anyway.) People use advertisements all the time as examples to illustrate what they’re talking about. “It’s like that ad where that guy does that thing in that place”…

Mundungus Fletcher Lego
Mundungus Fletcher

And of course we’re also completely out of the loop on what’s current—we’re totally clueless. Movies, celebrities, cable shows and “reality” programming, trends, styles, fashion, new products, pop culture… Unless it’s available on Netflix, we have no idea. (And even then, it’s at least a year old by the time it’s available for streaming.) Last time we were in a movie theater, Keoni & Elena Grace saw “Ice Age 3” while Christian & I saw the 6th “Harry Potter,” so… 2009.

Another gastric side note (“Harry Potter” fans will get the tie-in): the word “Mundungus” means tripe. Who knew? 

We’re not entirely disconnected—we do read. I prefer the “Zite” iPad app that works kind of like Pandora radio. I tell it the categories that interest me, and as I read the various articles it pulls up, I can give them “thumbs up” or “thumbs down,” essentially teaching it what I like to read. I might read about popular shows or advertising–I just don’t see them myself.

owl TV
My Super Bowl coverage: delivered by [@Kana]OWL… Harry Potter would approve.
(image courtesy of
I end up getting more of a techie-view of current events. Case in point: Tweets during the Super Bowl. My real-time exposure to the game happened entirely through Tweets (or “hoots,” as I jokingly call them, with my @KanaOwl account named for my totem). I hear that even the advertising was disappointing this year (a real bummer, since this is usually the one event where commercials can be worth watching), but @KanaOwl brought me some entertaining coverage of Super Bowl Superb Owl Sunday.

If the hospital had kept us one more day, we could have watched the game ourselves, and I could have continued my little game of imagining what anthropologists would deduce about our culture if all they had to go on were television advertisements. Nevertheless, we were very content to trade in our television-watching privileges in exchange for the comforts of our own bed! And our own ad-less Netflix streaming…

One week post-surgery, and Keoni is up & about and rocking his kitchen!
One week post-surgery, and Keoni is up & about and ROCKING his kitchen!

And our own kitchen. Within two hours of getting home, Keoni was up and baking cornbread from scratch! Two days earlier, he couldn’t sit up in bed without a struggle—but he’s healing up with near-miraculous speed, just as he did after last year’s knee replacement. I thought he’d be toddling around with his walker for at least a couple weeks… but the walker has been “parked” all week, and the other morning I woke up to find he’d gone to the grocery store while I slept! Good grief.

I should know by now not to underestimate the stubborn determination of a Large Hawai’ian…  He IS going to have a large-Hawai’ian-size scar up his spine… I think he’s considering a zipper-pull tattoo at the top!

On that note, I’ll leave you with a couple of the Super Bowl tweets that made me smile… (For those of you who are also without TV, the jokes refer to the 35-minute power outage  at the stadium, and the Ravens being one of the teams…)


I am... a writer, an explorer, a coffee-drinker, a recovering addict, a barefoot linguist, a book-dragon ("bookworm" doesn't cover it), a raconteur, a sailboat skipper, a research diver, a tattooed scholar, a pirate, a poet, a spiritual adventurer, a photographer, a few kinds-of-crazy, a joyful wife, a mom... a list-maker! :)

23 thoughts on “Superb Owl Sunday (OR… The Anthropology of Advertising)

    1. Coming up, actually…We’re putting together a menu for the restaurant we’re opening… More on that in the next post! :)


  1. Ha ha, I don’t have a television, either. Well, we do now have one in the apartment, left behind by a roommate’s ex-boyfriend, which we begged him not to buy because we do not use it, and then he did anyway. But we still watch everything online and on Netflix.

    I didn’t get reminded that the Superbowl existed until the day before the game….and I still don’t know who played or who won.

    A couple summers ago I was house-sitting for my boss, with the added benefit of her satellite TV. Having not watched TV for so long, I had never before realized something about commercials–they’re *designed* to make you feel like crap about your life. People don’t understand how I live without it…and I don’t understand how they live with it.

    Hope Keoni’s recovery continues going well!


    1. VERY insightful observation about advertising… If they can make us feel crappy about our lives, maybe we’ll buy their stuff to feel better…


  2. I know more and more people who are dropping the tv/cable connection! Netflix must be one happy company. We’re contemplating it ourselves.

    I hope the Big Hawai’ian continues to heal and cook!

    Good ‘seeing’ you !

    Superbowl?????? I have a tv and still didn’t know who was playing. :)


    1. It’s definitely worth contemplating, in my humble opinion. These last couple years when money has been so tight, Netflix has been our one “frivolous” expenditure… And we’ve really gotten our money’s worth out of it. :)


  3. I stand happily with you in the no cable TV (we do have a television with an old fashioned antenna) and Netflix camp. Whenever I’m in a hotel with cable I am shocked by just exactly how much junk is available. I’m not interested in any of it. Give me a good book or a lively conversation any day! What are you watching on Netflix there days?


    1. Some recent favorites have been “Once Upon a Time” (clever storytelling), “Warehouse 13,” “Numb3rs,” “Burn Notice,” “That 70s Show” (goofy program, but some good writing and good laughs), “White Collar,” “Friday Night Lights,” “Flashpoint,” and (don’t laugh) “Phineas and Ferb.” The kids put us onto that last one, and it’s a real hoot. :)


  4. No cable tv here either … we tossed it about five years ago when we realised we were watching crap, and the good stuff we were watching wasn’t via the regular ‘channels’ anyway. We subscribe to a DVD-delivered-to-your-door service for any movies we want to watch, the rest is via the internet.

    We are going to splurge on a larger tv screen sometime this year. Sometimes watching a ‘blockbuster’ movie on a computer screen just doesn’t cut it.

    I think the ‘ad insanity’ on regular tv is the last desperate gasp of a media delivery system that is fast approaching it’s use-by date.


  5. Wow! Keoni makes a fast recovery. All the best to him.
    We find commercials very annoying and do the same thing – ordering up TV series on Netflix and finding wonderful little movie gems too.


  6. Living outside the States and not being interested in sport the whole thing passed me by… as does TV.
    We never watch, can’t remember the last time we watched a programmme… it’s noisy, crass and shallow for the most part, and the news is mostly bad news. So I choose to live in a world without noise and commercialism and crime and violence… it’s peaceful and calm and gentle…


  7. I hope his recovery continues successfully.
    I rely on a mix of Netflix and hulu, but I usually limit the streaming to one a week of each series. That way I don’t run out quite as fast.


  8. I’m glad Keoni is making a quick recovery! We ditched cable last year, and that’s one bill I don’t miss paying. We use an antenna, so we’re still stuck with commercials…but it’s FREE! I didn’t watch the Super Bowl…the only reason I know who is playing is because people at work talked about it.


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