Aztext Press

Life Off-the-Grid

Spending Time with The Sopranos

By Cam Mather

I love to watch television. I’ve heard other people claim that they never watch TV but I do and I think some of it is awesome. I used to watch “The Hills” with my daughters (and sometimes on my own) and I considered it to be great social commentary. I love watching the major U.S. evening news shows with Katie, Diane and Brian peddling prescription drugs during commercial breaks and giving me the corporate view of the world. When they report that “the unemployment rate in the U.S. is 9.5%” I then go to a place like and find out what the real number is. Plus there’s all those documentaries on PBS and the CBC that I have often commented on in this blog. TV rocks!

I’ve been a little hesitant to publicly state how much I enjoy television until I was reading (yes, I can still read) a great article in “The Guardian” in which David Attenborough, Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking were interviewed. That’s right, the guy who wrote the book “A Brief History of Time” that everyone bought and stopped reading after 3 pages because it hurt their brains. The fourth person interviewed was Professor Brian Cox who is a physicist doing research at the Large Hadron Collider. In other words, these are four really intelligent people. When they were asked, “What distracts you?” Professor Cox’s answer was “For me, it’s TV. If I had more willpower, I would limit the amount I watch.”

All right! Apparently I’m in good company. The good professor should move off the grid so he has a limited amount of electricity, which might force him to throttle back on the idiot box. (Obviously I know this from experience!)

My absolute all time favorite show is “The Sopranos,” the critically acclaimed HBO series that chronicled the life of mob boss Tony Soprano and his “families.” The show is absolutely brilliant in every respect. It’s superbly written, has great actors and many critics say it’s the best TV that’s ever been done. It was all shot on location in New Jersey and was shot on film, so each hour-long episode is like a movie. Tony is a horrible, violent, misogynistic (woman hating) foul-mouthed mobster. He is everything I’m against, but I love him. There’s just something about James Gandolfini, the actor who plays him, that sucks you in. The 6 seasons of the show chronicled his challenges with his mob family and his at-home family and the psychiatrist he sees for his depression. What a concept. He’s one of those guys who reacts to “challenges” in his life the way most of us would like to.

The series ended a few years ago and is now available on DVD. It retails for $299 and Amazon (here in Canada) sells it for about $275. We are looking for distractions right now so we decided to splurge and take some of our garlic money and buy the series. We found someone selling it on eBay and we got in to the bidding when it started at $20. The online auction went on for 7 days and as the week progressed the bid got up to about $80. Michelle, who was looking after the bidding, asked me how high I was willing to go. Since there are 86 episodes, with every one as good as any movie you’d ever rent or buy, I was prepared to bid as high as $86. On the final day of bidding Michelle went to bed while we were in the lead at $86. It was a Monday night so I watched the news and Monday night football and kept my eye on the bidding. There hadn’t been any bidding after 10 pm. but I had a really strong intuition that it wasn’t over, even though I’d never purchased anything on eBay before.

So at 4 minutes to midnight I started refreshing the screen every minute and our bid was still leading. At 2 minutes until the close I started refreshing every 15 seconds. With just 45 seconds left in the auction the line that said “You are in the lead” suddenly changed and said “You have been outbid.” I freaked out. My heart raced and my blood pressure skyrocketed. I was going to lose it! Of course I had never had to make a bid – Michelle had looked after it all. So I frantically tried to up my bid to $87 but we had set a limit on how much we could bid, so it gave me an error message and I had to figure out how to override the maximum bid we’d set, and I was thinking “Crap, I’ve stayed up until midnight and I’m about to get hosed.” Somehow I got another bid in on time and we ended up getting it. Yea ha! I was over the moon! I won! I beat my competitor who had been lurking around just waiting for the last possible minute. Ha! Take that!

Of course I figured for this price it was going to arrive and be a box of bootlegged DVDs and photocopied inserts, but it wasn’t. It was brand new! Shrinkwrapped and all! Thirty DVDs and all 86 episodes for $87. It arrived within two days! I am stoked! So we’ve been spending some time with our New Jersey family and getting caught up with what they’re up to. Now if only I could just get Tony to adopt me. Heck, I already know where he stores his cash and guns in his house so he might as well.

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1 Comment

  1. Cindy

    that is such an amazing price-a dollar an episode!! Enjoy. Wait until the entire Modern Family series comes out…

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