Musings & Thoughts for Wednesday, April 14, 2021, or: ‘Hemingway,’ Smart TVs, and ‘Eureka!’ Moments

Photo by the author.

Hi there, Dear Reader. It’s late morning here in New Hometown, Florida on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Presently, the temperature is 70˚F (21˚C) under sunny skies. With the wind blowing from the east-southeast at 3 MPH (5 KM/H) and humidity at 86%, the feels-like temperature is 69˚F (20˚C). The forecast for today says we’ll have partly sunny skies and a high of 86˚F (30˚C). Tonight, the skies will be partly cloudy. The low will be 64˚F (18˚C).

Last night I figured out how to add “apps” to my 4K UHD television, which is a Samsung “smart TV” and can access the Internet via Wi-Fi. It already has apps by ABC News, CBS News, and a few other services that I have not checked out, so while I was debating whether I should attempt to watch Part Two of Hemingway: A Film by Ken Burns & Lynn Novick without having seen the first chapter last week I had one of those rare “Eureka!” moments that precede a small (or smallish) accomplishment on my part.

Hey, if I have apps for streaming channels such as ABC News and CBS News on this TV, doesn’t it stand to reason that PBS also has a streaming service app?

See? Sometimes I can think my way out of seemingly unsolvable problems. I’m still pissed that my bigger 4K UHD doesn’t fit in my room, though. Photo by the author.

As soon as that thought finished crossing my mind, I turned on my TV – which is usually turned off unless I’m watching something on Netflix or Amazon Prime Video or using the Blu-ray player – and checked to see if the PBS app was there. It was, but to add it to my small lineup of apps I had to:

  • Create a Samsung account
  • Activate the PBS app by going to PBS.org and typing in a code that was on my TV’s screen

Thankfully, this was free and not a paid subscription like, say, Disney+ or Paramount+ (formerly CBS All-Access). Also, it didn’t require a lot of time or effort to accomplish; I think the entire process – from the “Eureka!” moment to finding PBS’s stash of Ken Burns documentaries, including Hemingway, in the app took less than 10 minutes.

I was too tired to start watching Hemingway’s first episode (The Writer:1899-1929) in its entirety, but I did play a few minutes just to see how it starts, and also to check if the PBS app supports closed captions.

Like most of the Burns films that I’ve watched, Hemingway begins with a compelling personal anecdote about perhaps one of America’s most famous writers, then segues to a montage of stills and video clips that foreshadow what the rest of the episode will be about, then settles into a chronological account of Hemingway’s early years.

So far, so good, but to my dismay, there aren’t any closed captions in Hemingway’s over-the-air version, so I’ll have to watch it at a time when I can both use the Internet without causing any disruption to the Caregiver’s access to the WiFi and turn up the volume enough to hear the sound clearly. I’m hard of hearing, and because my previous HMO did not provide me with a hearing aid, I either have to turn up the volume a lot or watch movies and TV shows either on disc media or on apps (such as Netflix or Amazon Prime Video) that have subtitles.

A half-victory is better than none, Optimist Alex thinks.

The flip side, of course, is that half a victory is still a defeat., Pessimist Alex counters.

On the bright side, I still have my three-disc Blu-ray set in pre-order on Amazon, and it will be released on May 4, a little less than three weeks from today.

Published by Alex Diaz-Granados

Alex Diaz-Granados (1963- ) began writing movie reviews as a staff writer and Entertainment Editor for his high school newspaper in the early 1980s and was the Diversions editor for Miami-Dade Community College, South Campus' student newspaper for one semester. Using his experiences in those publications, Alex has been raving and ranting about the movies online since 2003 at various web sites, including Amazon, Ciao and Epinions. In addition to writing reviews, Alex has written or co-written three films ("A Simple Ad," "Clown 345," and "Ronnie and the Pursuit of the Elusive Bliss") for actor-director Juan Carlos Hernandez. You can find his reviews and essays on his blogs, A Certain Point of View and A Certain Point of View, Too.

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