Oh, Netflix!

Silly, silly Netflix! I want to love you, but sometimes you make it so difficult. First there was the price-hike. I wasn’t happy about it, but it also wasn’t difficult to simply cancel the DVD portion of my family’s membership. We mostly stream stuff anyway, and DVDs would sit here for weeks and months without being watched. But then you started enforcing your policy (which was news to me, but that’s another rant) of only allowing accounts to stream on one device at a time. Come on! You know that some nights my husband watches something on the TV downstairs, and I want to watch something else on my iPad or PC. What’s wrong with that? I pay you! But no, you gotta make things all complicated.

Then you say you’re going to split off the DVD stuff into Qwikster (seriously – WORST. COMPANY. NAME. EVER.). Then — oh no, wait! You’re not going to do that after all. I went from thinking “oh well, here comes the greedy part as they get ready to sell off the DVD side of the business” to just plain thinking you’re off your meds. Crikey!

But mostly I’m just getting kind of annoyed at you because the streaming selection seems like it’s getting WORSE, not better. You keep touting all these deals for new content, so how come nothing that I want to watch is ever available? Here’s just a sample of the things I’ve searched for, and been disappointed by the lack of, on Netflix Streaming in the past few months:

– The Harvey Girls
– Singin’ in the Rain
– The Black Cat
– Poltergeist
– Night of the Living Dead (1990)
– Alien or Aliens or Alien 3 or Alien: Resurrection
– The Muppet Show
– Vertigo or Rope or North by Northwest or The Birds or The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) or The Trouble with Harry
– Scooby-Doo movies and tv shows (You have ONE currently. My daughter loves these. What happened to the others you used to offer?)
– Fargo
– Return to Oz
– Stephen King’s IT
– The Shawshank Redemption
– The Shining (original OR mini-series remake)
–  The Seventh Seal
– Rashomon
– Kung Fu Hustle
– The Royal Tenenbaums
– Rushmore
– The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
– Any opera or classical music performances or ballet
– The Man Who Laughs

Don’t get me wrong, I do like some of the stuff you’ve made available recently (I love being able to re-watch all those old seasons of “Dark Shadows,” for example), but more and more I can’t find what I want when I want it. And I often end up using Amazon VOD instead. Sometimes even when I have to pay per title! Yes, THANK YOU for making The Big Lebowski continuously available so that I can watch it once a month without digging for my DVD. But come on – no Wes Anderson available at all? And thank you for having Jackie Brown, which I love, but what about Pulp Fiction? Inglorious Basterds? Kill Bill?


Do People Really Suck So Much? (hint: “YES.”)

I have a piece to say today, and I’m gonna say it briefly. But first read these two posts:

1. Anne Helen Peterson muses on whether it’s acceptable to criticize fashion bloggers, and where do you draw the line between “private” and “public” personas?

2. gluten-free girl shares some rather horrifying stories about hateful comments, tweets, and so on; in reaction to her blog.

I just have a few reactions to these. First of all, what they both point out to me is that when people are anonymous, they feel free to expose the worst of themselves to the world. As much as I firmly believe in the importance of being able to post anonymously, it’s also true that nothing brings out trolls like anonymity. People will say things that they would NEVER say if they were a.) face to face with the target or b.) forced to use their real names. Notice in Anne’s article, she’s having a real crisis of conscience. She has a certain amount of irritation about a particular “fashion blogger,” and wonders if it’s OK to state it publicly. Pretty mild, really. But also notice that she uses her real name. It tends to make a difference.

For the record, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with criticizing a person who has chosen to make themselves a public figure via a blog or other means. It kind of goes with the territory. But there’s a world of difference between “criticizing” or even “mocking,” and pure, hateful vitriol like gluten-free girl has to endure.

And that brings me to that second post. My God. What is WRONG with people? Well, I’ll tell you exactly what is wrong with them:

Given the opportunity, some people will troll anonymously because it gets them off.

Do any of the hateful people mentioned by gluten-free girl REALLY wish her dead? I don’t think so. I think they get off on the ability to send emails, make posts, post comments, or send out tweets that upset the blogger in question, or anybody else for that matter. These people have base instincts, and they follow them because they can.

The ugly truth about most bullies is that they themselves have also been bullied. They make themselves feel better by turning around and bullying someone who can’t hurt them back, whether it’s a younger kid at school, a less-powerful co-worker, or a blogger who will read their anonymous comments or emails and get upset by them.

I say this with all humility, but seriously: I count myself SO LUCKY not to be one of those people. Because if you’re the type of person who gets off on causing others pain or fear or sadness, how can you live with yourself? Do you just pretend that someone else did it? That it wasn’t you at the keyboard? That your anonymous persona is really a different person all together? Maybe there’s some real pathology in there, I don’t know.

Here’s an example of how I handle someone who irritates me. There’s a fashion/lifestyle/mommy type blogger who used to drive me INSANE. The pictures she posted of herself were always posed and flawless, and she had perfected that sort of duck-face pout that all the starlets are so good at. Her family seemingly had unlimited income and resources, or at least she made it SEEM like they did. Her children? Utterly perfect, adorable, well-behaved and always stylishly-attired. In short, she was a smug twat. In fact, she probably is STILL a smug twat, but I wouldn’t know, because here’s how I handled my irritation: I unsubscribed from her feed, un-followed her on Twitter, and pretty much forgot that she existed (until I dredged up the memory for this post). I didn’t post vitriolic anonymous comments on her irritating blog, I STOPPED READING IT.

If more people would stop reading the things that annoy them, there would be a hell of a lot less ugly comments and emails that have to be screened by bloggers. Unfortunately, it’s not likely to happen, because (obviously) people tend to lack self-control. And that is why the answer to the question (do people REALLY suck so much?) is a resounding: “YES. People suck. SO much.”


Life Well Lived: Making the Minutes Count

A few weeks ago, the fine folks at BlogHer asked me (and a bunch of other bloggers) the following question:

How do you take care of your skin when you have zero “me” time?

The results of that informal survey are now up on BlogHer, and you can read all about them right here, in an article about “Skin Care Streamlined.” My own response is included.

In short, I responded that I just didn’t have time (usually) to devote to giving myself spa treatments, soaking in a tub, using a mask, etc. So I fit it in when I can, in particular, a few times a week when I get up in the morning, I put a mask on then go around and make beds and do other chores. I rinse the mask off when I jump in the shower to get ready for work. Seems pretty obvious, but it took me a long time to figure this out, because I used to associate using a mask (or any beyond-the-basics skincare step) with “indulgence” and “me time,” which I can’t usually afford. By shifting activities like this to a time when I’m going to be getting all wet anyway, I find that they fit a lot better into my schedule! So now, not only do I use a mask some mornings, I also do exfoliating scrubs and sometimes even dye my hair first thing in the morning, and then get into the shower to finish up before work.

The sum result is that my skin (and hair!) look better, and it hasn’t cost me any more time out of my already-busy day. One word of warning though: do try to make time for yourself now and then. We all need a little bit (at least) of that “me time.” That’s why I do go and get a real facial once a month. That hour I spend on the table every four weeks is all the escape I need (usually)!

Please share any tips of your own with me. Am I crazy? Should I just make time (and conjure the money) to have my hair professionally touched up? What else could I do first thing in the morning to save myself time later in the day? Maybe I need to figure out a way to read my email in the shower too? Leave me a comment, then make sure you visit this page and and leave a comment there for a chance to win a $250 Visa gift card! Now THAT could buy you some indulgent “me time!”

This is What I’ve Been Doing

So thanks to my friend Creeva, I realized I hadn’t posted in a WHILE. Sorry about that. (BTW I love Creeva’s new layout, it looks really slick.)

Anyway, yeah…what HAVE I been doing?

1. Working, which is still going really well.
2. Buying a whole new HVAC system (two new AC units, two new coils, two new furnaces). Was that expensive? YES.
3. Dealing with the vagaries of my daughter’s pre-school and summer school schedule. Real school starts in just a week! She’ll be in kindergarten (all day at the Montessori school though, not our public school’s weak-ass half-day thing).
4. Playing WoW occasionally (log in, do dailies, poke around a bit, maybe some crafting, reorganize bank, log out).
5. Playing Left 4 Dead 2 occasionally (log in, shoot a lot of zombies, get frustrated at lag on Steam servers, log out).
6. Catching up on various TV shows – this summer I’ve watched all of the currently available seasons of Parks & Recreation, Boardwalk Empire, Nurse Jackie, and Game of Thrones, plus I’ve caught up to the latest on True Blood. I watch almost all of these shows on my iPad, which ROCKS.
7. Reading. Here are all the books that I’ve read so far this summer:
– All three of the Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins
– All five of the Song of Ice and Fire books by George R.R. Martin
Dead Reckoning (the most recent Sookie Stackhouse novel) by Charlaine Harris
Anno Dracula by Kim Newman (I understand this is part of a series too but can’t find the others on Kindle)
Then Came You by Jennifer Weiner
Full Dark, No Stars by Stephen King
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
–  Eifelheim by Michael Flynn
Already Dead by Charlie Huston (just started this actually)
I also started Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of the New Hollywood by Mark Harris, but I just can’t get into it. The topic is interesting to me (American movie industry of the late 60s), but maybe it’s the prose? Anyway, it leaves me cold and I suspect I may not finish it.

I still have  a backlog of maybe 20 or so items in my Kindle that I want to read, so I’m not buying ANYTHING new until I’ve finished all of it. This will help me save some money too, which is a good thing (see that painfully expensive new HVAC system, noted above).

And that’s what I have been doing!

Hulu Plus: It’s a Minus

Prepare to receive my unsolicited opinion on Hulu Plus, Hulu’s $7.99 a month streaming service that is supposed to compete with Netflix:


My husband signed up for the one-week free trial, so we tried Hulu Plus out on our Roku. I was NOT impressed. The interface, compared to Netflix and even Amazon VOD, is clunky. But most annoying were the commercials. TONS OF COMMERCIALS. I tried to watch an episode of Parks and Recreation (Season 3, Episode 1), and before the damn episode even started, I had to watch FOUR commercials. Two straight minutes of irritation right there (at least when I’m watching something with commercials on my computer, I can do other things and ignore them until they’re over). Then there were another two commercials at every normal commercial break in the program.

I guess I’ve gotten spoiled by Netflix, where there are NO commercials at all, but watching an episode on Hulu Plus was so annoying, before it was over I’d decided I would never do it again. $7.99 a month to watch commercials? NO THANKS. For $7.99 a month I can stream shows and movies from Netflix with no commercials, and for $2 more I can have one DVD out at a time too. Yeah, I get that Hulu Plus can offer more recent seasons, but so what? I’m pretty sure Season 3 of P&R will be on Netflix Streaming by this fall when it comes out on DVD. If not, I’ll just get the DVDs as part of my 1 DVD at a time plan. Or I’ll pay $38.99 and stream Season 3 in HD right now from Amazon VOD. It is worth it to me to watch without annoying commercials.

So my summary of Hulu Plus is: TOTAL WASTE OF MONEY.

(By the way, if you have no idea what a Roku is, you really need check it out. IT ROCKS.)