Staying in Touch

In many ways, I am more in tune with American pop culture after having moved to Taiwan than I was while living in America. Surprisingly, I am getting my daily fix of what’s hot in the States from various sources on the internet.

Just before moving here, I made sure that Taiwanese television offered some decent English channels, which it does. Here, there are the ever-popular cable channels CNN, HBO, and ESPN, which provide news, entertainment, and sports. Although they lean toward a more international flavor than their equals in America, there is enough pop nourishment coming from the States to keep one from starving.

Beyond those channels, there are other English offerings, such as: Discovery, National Geographic, Travel, Star Movies, Cinemax, and AXN (a channel showing some of the more-popular US television shows). They are all good, yet none of them go into detail about happenings in the States. None of them take the time to put things into perspective, giving one a sense of what it is like actually being in America. It is for that purpose that I turn to the internet.

Through reading weblogs, online newspapers, and downloading current movies, songs, and radio shows I can begin to feel what it is like to be a well-informed American, living in America.

Now, I seldom watch TV. In fact, a few weeks ago Shu Mei and I decided to have our cable cancelled. That means we will have absolutely not TV, as there isn’t any television broadcast over the air in Taiwan. It is all strictly via cable. I have mixed feelings about our decision to have it cancelled, because I’ve always had TV available to me, but it’s the right move to make for the boys.

Billy has become addicted to the thing and I see no reason why Tyley wouldn’t follow in his footsteps, if given the opportunity. Apparently, it is too difficult for Shu Mei to monitor and control their viewing habits. So, we just decided to have it turned off. As I stated, I seldom watch television, so going without it really won’t be a huge sacrifice. It is akin to losing a tie that I wear on rare nonspecific occasions. I would miss the tie, but I wouldn’t cry about it. Again, the internet has become my American pop culture source.

Last year, I read an online article about Howard Stern. In the article, it stated that he was moving from regular radio to satellite radio at the first part of this year, 2006, for a reported 500 million dollars over the period of 5 years.

Browsing through some bit torrents, popular peer-to-peer shared files, I saw some of his radio shows late last year. So, I downloaded and listened to them. Current events were covered in considerable detail, with a focus on the entertainment industry. This was the source of information I was looking for. So, I continued to download and listen to the show, via my MP3 player, on a daily basis. Then they made the switch.

Howard and his crew went on hiatus for a few weeks between moving the show from terrestrial to satellite radio. It was during those weeks that I realized I had become addicted to the show, as I felt like a junky needing a fix. I was elated when the show went back on the air and have listening to it on a daily basis ever since. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the new show is videotaped and played on an on-demand cable channel called Howard TV. Some of the best episodes were uploaded as bit torrents, allowing me to see them. As time goes on, the show just gets better and better.

Aside from talking about current events, Howard and his crew play various comedy bits that are totally hilarious. Often, I use my earphones to listen to the Howard Stern show in bed, before going to sleep. My wife, Shu Mei, puts up with my frequent outbursts of laughter.

True to her uncaring nature, she has never asked what I am laughing at. She knows that I am listening to the Howard Stern show, as I have told her a bit about it. However, Shu Mei never shows any concern or interest in learning about things I enjoy. From almost the first day of our marriage, she has continued to remain emotionally distant from me.

For the first few years, I tried everything I could think of to bridge that gap, but she stayed selfish and stubborn throughout. Recently, I have lost interest in trying to chip through her hardened shell. I never saw the slightest crack in her emotional armor and I doubt I ever will. I just let her be her ornery self and I concentrate on the only reason I stay married, Billy and Tyley. After all, they are my lifeblood.

I have no greater joy in my life than Billy and Tyley. I look forward to spending time with them after work each day. On the weekends, I spend most of my time with them. I don’t do it out of fear that I’ll miss out on something special if I don’t do it, though that is in the back of my mind, but basically because I enjoy it. They are growing so fast and absorb the things I have to teach them like sponges. I am grateful that I have the opportunity to teach them important things and hope that they’ll turn out a great deal better than me.

It is to that end that I try to point out some of the pitfalls in life to Billy and Tyley. I don’t want them to make the same mistakes I did. Also, I want them to have a better life than I did. I cannot give them the many material things that I had as a child, but I can give them my emotional support and love, something that I lacked growing up. Oh, my parents were loving, but the way they showed it was in giving me things.

I wanted them to show me in a more emotional way, by hugging me and telling me that they loved me. This just wasn’t in their character. It is in mine, however, and I strive to make certain that Billy and Tyley understand I love them very much by demonstrating it emotionally.

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