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?

 

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:

IT SUCKS.

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.)

A Car Review? WHAT?

OK so about two weeks ago I was running to the grocery store at lunch to pick up some snacks and paper towels and a salad. On my way there, some old dude RAN INTO ME. I mean, my car, not me personally, but you know. He hit my beautiful, wonderful xB! I love that car so much. It’s so cute, and so roomy and comfortable inside, and so well made, and so reliable, and gets great mileage, and it was cheap. I mean, what’s not to love? Here’s a picture (not my actual car, but a facsimile):

Look at it! It’s so beautiful.

So, anyway. This guy sideswiped me (front passenger side door) and it was totally his fault, which thankfully he admitted, and therefore his insurance is paying for the repairs and a rental. So I took the car in on Tuesday to the body shop, and they’re going to have it until next Friday at least. So in the mean time, the rental company gave me what I can only describe as the most miserable, non-user-friendly, uncomfortable, fugly car I have ever had the misfortune to drive: a Chevy HHR. Here’s what THAT piece of crap looks like:

Yeah, it’s awful. I think this car perfectly illustrates what American car makers DON’T GET about cars and people, that Japanese car makers DO get: the experience matters.

I mean, both cars are about the same size, and get similar mileage, but that’s where the similarities end. Here’s a list of all the things I have quickly grown to hate about the HHR:

1. Sitting in it is like sitting in a WWII bunker, like those cement things the Germans were sitting in when we stormed Normandy Beach on D-Day, and driving it is like being in a tunnel that never ends. You can’t see anything. The windshield is abnormally small, and the front pillars and roof obscure much of the view. I get claustrophobic if I have to sit in it for too long, no kidding.

2. Mechanically it feels cheap and unfriendly. The steering is so stiff it feels like it’s not even power steering. It would be hell on a long drive. And the accelerator is weird – you put the pedal down, and nothing happens for a few seconds. Acceleration, once it finally starts, is mushy. I’m not sure what kind of engine is in this thing but it’s definitely not very good.

3. The seats are very uncomfortable. Despite the electronic controls, there’s just no way to make them feel better. It doesn’t help that someone already broke the armrest on the driver’s side.

4. The interior layout is asinine. Everything is in a place that doesn’t make any sense. Like, there’s a lidded pop-open storage compartment in the middle of the dashboard, on top. WHY? Who puts a storage compartment where it’s going to further obscure the limited view when it’s open? And the cup holders are right next to the emergency break – I mean RIGHT next to it, so that if you had anything in them, and tried to engage the emergency brake, it would knock your beverages over.

5. It feels totally claustrophobic in the car. Some combination of the limited visibility, the uncomfortable seats, and the ridiculous equipment layout makes it feel like I’m in the worst car ever made.

I hate the Chevy HHR, and honestly, I think it hates me. I’ve already hit my head on the door, and getting in and out is like some kind of sideshow of the clumsy and graceless. The moral of this story is: don’t ever buy an HHR, and if they try to give you one when you need a rental, run away screaming.

Love/Hate/Don’t Care

Right now.

Things that I love:

– The Internet, but especially all the stuff in my house that uses it. Roku, Chumby, Internet radio, etc. Some day I hope I can log into a website for “our house” and run the dishwasher remotely.

– My new boots:

- My other new boots:

- Buying boots (obviously).

– Videos by Lisa Eldridge. I love the way she refers to what we Americans usually call the “crease” (in the eye area) as the “socket line.” Actually I just love the way she says “socket.” All of her videos are pretty cool, but I especially liked this one. I even ordered the MUFE Aqua Cream to try (and it’s gorgeous).

Jonathan Product Silky Dirt, which I put on my hair every day. Smells gorgeous, gives shine and light hold and separation. This is a miracle product (and it should be, at those prices).

Things that I hate:

– Allergies. Holy cow. It’s barely even Spring here, and already my eyes are watering, my face is itching, and I’m sneezing with alarming regularity. I may have to up my intake of Zyrtec (that stuff is a miracle, usually).

– Douchebag drivers. I think the epicenter of all douchebaggy driving in the universe just might be Reston, Virginia.

– The erosion of the middle class, which is too complicated a topic to get into here, but trust me…it’s happening and it’s really depressing.

Things that I vehemently don’t care about:

– Charlie Sheen.

– Bristol Palin.

– Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, Celebrity Rehab, Ice Road Truckers, or any of the other “reality” crap that masquerades as TV programming nowadays.

– Android tablets, or Android phones, or why you think Android is so much better than my iPhone (hint: it’s not).

 

A Few Quick Links

Yes, it’s true: another two weeks has passed since my last (pathetic) update to the blog. You know what my problem is? I self-censor. I think interesting stuff all the time, but most of it is so judgmental, opinionated, and frankly inflammatory that I feel like it would be personal and professional suicide for me to post it here. I guess I need to start a more anonymous blog somewhere if I want to really rant.

Anyway!

Some things that I find really amusing lately…

1. People still don’t “get” Twitter. Come on, Luddites, it’s not THAT hard. Micro-blog? Sort of. Non-platform-specific status update tool? Sort of. An updated version of AIM designed for attention whores? Sort of. But confusing? No. It is not confusing, just go to twitter.com and look at it, it’s pretty self-explanatory. Most hilarious strain of this “Tweet what?” stuff (which usually is on display in mainstream media and rants by old farts like Andy Rooney) is the whole “the olds don’t get Twitter” meme. And, shockingly, guess who’s learning about Twitter now? MARY FREAKING WORTH. If an old biddy like Mary Worth (and her creators) can get on board with Twitter, ANYONE can.

2. Bank of America sucks. It’s been rumored for weeks now that the next dump that’s going to come out of WikiLeaks is going to expose wrongdoing (what a shock) by America’s largest, most loathsome bank. I’ve always felt they were skeevy, and the day that I paid off my BoA credit card and closed the account for good was one of the happiest of my life. They’re getting some attention from the law now; can’t wait to see what happens.

3. Douchebags being douchey. Tangentially related to the above, this firm called HBGary Federal got in some trouble recently when it was exposed that they were working with two other companies to come up with a strategy for targeting, discrediting, and otherwise victimizing people and organizations who are sympathetic to WikiLeaks. This summary is as good as any, but I really enjoyed this article, describing how “Anonymous” infiltrated HBGary’s systems. CEO of supposed “security” company uses (and RE-uses) an easily crackable password! Same company doesn’t install latest updates to their server OS! Uses a custom CMS with security flaw that allows one of the simplest hacks of all: SQL injection! I think the whole story is just hilarious, although I do feel sorry for the rank and file employees who probably didn’t know what a douchebag they were going to report to when they went to work for Aaron Barr. And as far as Mr. Barr: hubris, dude. Look it up.