23 December 2005

In widescreen where available

We’re right in the middle of the city. I discovered a while back that all I had to do was use unshielded speaker wire and I’d pick up AM radio. I checked, and all the TV transmitters are in a cluster less than 10 miles away from us. So, this afternoon while we were out shopping for Christmas meal ingredients, I picked up an $8 UHF loop antenna, plugged it in, put it on the shelf above the TV, and lo—we can get 10 channels of digital TV.

While there’s nothing on ABC, CBS or NBC that I’m going to want to watch, HD or not, this does now mean we can get PBS in HD—at the cost of actually having to watch the programs when they’re on, because the TiVo is SD only.

This evening we watched a program about revolutionary war re-enactors in Massachusetts. I’d always felt like I ought to see the re-enactments, but there was just no way I was going to get out of bed at 5am on a cold spring morning and get the bus out to Lexington.

The whole re-enactment thing seems to be even more bizarre than the SCA. It’s all elaborately scripted—one man was seen being turned down permission to use the word ‘musket’ instead of ‘gun’ in his one line of script. The attention to detail in costume and equipment is painstaking; another man talked about how he ordered the exact correct kind of linen for his uniform, now only available from Russia. And of course, authentic weapons are used too.

But then after all that work, the camera caught them in costume reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. I’ve never studied US history, but even I know that the Pledge of Allegiance wasn’t written until a century after the War of Independence. They might as well have gone into battle singing Springsteen’s “Born in the USA” for all the authenticity they had at that point. Worse, they didn’t even recite the original pledge; they recited the bastardized post-1950s version.

I notice there are a few Vietnam War re-enactment groups. Most seem to be outside the USA so far. I wonder how long it’ll be before we have Iraq war re-enactment groups? “History enthusiast sought. Must have own attack dog. Bring car battery and jump leads.”

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