Waiting

Waiting

I know, I know.

I said I was leaving Netflix.

I have a confession to make.

I haven’t.

Yet.

I feel like one of those female friends we all have who keep complaining about their boyfriends and yet never get up the guts to truly leave. Netflix is like the bad boyfriend you can’t seem to shake, the one who’s given you every reason to leave and yet you can’t seem to keep giving chances to. I kind of hate myself for it, because I’m still seeing Crave on the side. Actually, I’m seeing Crave on the regular, and sorta/kinda neglecting Netflix, while paying for both, which is kind of a dumb scenario to willfully be in.

Still, there’s been nothing from them addressed to me personally about hiking my subscription up, so I’m going to hedge my bets. I read that they’ll hike the prices on the ninth of February, but am waiting for an official e-mail. So no, I haven’t pulled the plug. I’ll pull it when it’s official.

Update: There. I did it. It feels like the end of an era… and the start of another one!

A Less Wasteful Kind of Joy

A Less Wasteful Kind of Joy

 

Marie Kondo is a sweet little bird of a woman. I had somehow imagined that the best-selling author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing was a Michiko Kakutani of sorts. I expected her to look stringy, rigid and exacting, not be a tiny slip of a girl with a smile that stretches from ear to ear, who wears prim, feminine outfits and seems to be the human embodiment of the sunshine emoji.

Marie Kondo is the celebrity of tidying, hired to make sense of one’s life by helping one weed out, sort and organize the detritus that can accumulate simply through existing. She currently has a TV show on Netflix, where she helps people decide what to keep and what to throw out, and teaches them how to arrange the things they have decided to keep to spark the maximum amount of joy. Joy is her raison d’etre. The gist of her method, called KonMari, is to keep only the things that give you joy, and to honour the things that no longer do before casting them aside and donating them to charity.

What makes the KonMari method special is that she believes each item that you have in your home should bring you joy. She also believes that every sentimental item has a sort of life, one that needs to be respected. It sounds ridiculous and I suppose on the surface, it is. Inanimate objects are just that, objects. Because I subscribe to the notion that my things turn into the cast of Toy Story whenever I’m not looking (which is why one moment they’re missing  and the next, they’re lying under my nose waiting to be picked up) the KonMari method and the philosophy behind it doesn’t strike me as particularly outlandish.

I like her philosophy on tidying up. One of the things Le Hubs does that drives me up the wall is whenever he forgets to put a thing back where he got it. (He does this fairly often. It’s a source of everlasting frustration.) The control freak in me loves the idea of organization, of knowing what goes where, the empowerment of knowing where everything and anything is at any given time.

The method may seem simple, but it is devilishly tricky and in some cases, unrealistic. Book lovers in particular, myself included, bristle at the notion of only keeping the books I am likely to re-read (she recommends having no more than thirty) and giving the rest – the unread ones, or ones I’ll never read again – away, as the KonMari method says to do. Please keep your happy, well-meaning paws off my books, Marie Kondo. All my books bring me joy. Everything else but the books!

It’s impossible to only keep the things that spark joy. Not everything I own does. Not everything has to, and that’s okay. I may not have a meaningful relationship with my spatula, but it’s not getting thrown out anytime soon.

To be fair, I don’t believe she means for people  to start throwing everything out willy nilly in the pursuit of carving out a space in which to breathe. If anything, I see the KonMari  method as a good way to re-evaluate the reasons we have for buying the things we do.

It’s helpful to have perspective when buying things, something that, in our mad dash to accrue, very often gets muddled. Sometimes we find ourselves buying things for the sake of buying things, stripping them of their meaning in the process, and the cycle of going out to buy things simply because it feels good to buy things becomes a vicious one that’s hard to break. Before you know it you’re surrounded by things  that have no meaning beyond the initial impulse you had to buy them in the first place.

When it comes to acquiring movies and books in particular, I like to make sure the ones I get are ones I really enjoy. Either I’ve seen it at a theatre and loved it, or I’ve borrowed the digital version of a book from the library and have decided it deserves a spot on my bookshelf. This way I know I’m almost never going to throw it out, and they will never go unwatched or unread. Be selective. Aside from asking if something you already own brings you joy, it’s also a good idea to ask if something you want to own will bring you joy. It’ll help you ensure you’ll never have to throw anything out.

 

Netflix, I’m leaving you

Netflix, I’m leaving you

Dear Netflix,

You were the one.

You were the scrappy upstart, the daring pioneer, the one who put established movies, TV shows and  unique content together, showing me that life without cable didn’t have to be all about streaming movies and shows off of dicey websites and downloading files under threat of jail and insidious malware.

You were the one. I went legit for you.

Oh, you delivered. Some of my happiest times were spent on the couch with you and take-out food. We were good together, you and I. We were happy in each other’s company. You were a part of me, knowing what I wanted before I did, keeping a list for me. You never forgot anything and were always solicitous, suggesting things I might want to see based on something I’d already seen before. We were perfect. We were beautiful.

Netflix, I’m leaving you.

It’s the bajillion movies and TV shows you’ve come up with in the past two years, 90% of which are kind of … garbage.

It’s all the comedy specials I don’t think I’ll ever find the time to see.

It’s the suggestions that make no sense.

It’s the enthusiasm for auto-play, which I didn’t mind at first, but slowly began to resent.

It’s my dwindling attention span.

It’s not you, it’s me.

It’s inflation.

It’s the unjustifiable price increase.

Netflix, you put She-ra in shorts. Shorts.

It’s not me, it’s you.

It’s both of us.

Netflix, I’m leaving you. I’m leaving you for Crave. Crave has HBO, and movies I want to see. Movies I want to see right now, anyway.

Thanks for the memories, Netflix. Le Hubs thanks you for the complete seasons of X-files (before you pulled it) and the complete seasons of The Office. I thank you for the complete seasons of House, M.D. (that I never got around to watching again, damnit), the first three seasons of Orange is the New Black, the awesomeness that used to be House of Cards, the first season of Daredevil, the gloriousness that is The Crown,  and finally, for introducing Jo Koy to the world.

In closing, we both thank you for Black Mirror and Stranger Things. It’s been fun, and a helluva lot of bandwidth. I have no regrets.

All the best,

Me

Gratuitous and Meaningless

Gratuitous and Meaningless

I watched Outlaw King for Chris Pine’s peen.

There, I said it.

I’m sorry, but if a big part of the buzz surrounding your movie is that its lead actor drops trou and goes full frontal, that’s going to be the main reason people will flock to see it, especially the ones who otherwise wouldn’t care about a band of scrappy outlaws fighting to regain control of their own country. Like me. To be fair, I’m not the biggest fan of war movies. There’s only so much men, muck and dying that an easily bored consumer like me, up to my ears in possible content to watch, can stomach.

So yes, I spent most of the two hours and one minute runtime waiting for my reward. I don’t know what it is about movie star peen, but an episode of Bojack Horseman does come to mind. In its latest season, Bojack plays a noirish PI a la True Detective McConaughey, who, through a series of machinations gone awry, somehow ends up doing a scene where he is required to be stark naked as he changes a light bulb. It’s supposed to represent an honest look at the character, flaws and all but instead is obviously gratuitous and meaningless. Which is where Chris Pine’s peen comes in. Thank you for your bravery, Chris Pine, but it is gratuitous and meaningless. Not that I don’t appreciate it, or the guts it took to let it all hang out.

And yet. And yet. When the benchmark for a medieval Scottish highland fling such as this is Braveheart, the seminal Mel Gibson-helmed movie that masterfully combines romance, catchphrases, fantasy, shady backroom deals and noble men with stout hearts riding forth for glory and honour, expectations are going to be high. It’s got to be more than a Chris Pine peen (Chris Peen?) movie. It’s got to encapsulate the wonder, the magic, the determination of early Scotsmen and one man’s drive to unite the warring clans of Scotland.

What we get are bad haircuts, duels staged for unknown reasons – just as gratuitous and meaningless as random peen – and (for me, anyway) a distracting cast. As a hardcore Thronie, the sight of Stannis Baratheon, Jeor Mormont and Brynden Blackfish Tully in medieval Scottish drag is jarring. I know, I know, actors are more than the parts they play, but HBO succeeded in pushing these actors to inhabit their parts so well, it’s difficult for me to separate them from the characters they have played in Game of Thrones. Pine, Taylor-Johnson and Pugh do give powerhouse performances and it’s hard to look away when they are on screen.

While Netflix’s Outlaw King has manliness and nobles riding out for glory, it is sadly short on the romance and the backroom deals aren’t so much shady as they are desperate. It’s unfair to expect real life events to always be glamorous and fantastical, but too many things go unexplained. Why are there so many pointless duels? Why do all the old kings dying take place so suddenly and with barely any lead up? Why aren’t the Scots sufficiently shocked when their future king kills his rival in a church? Why does the hair on Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s beard not match his hair? Why are all the wigs so bad? What does it mean to raise the dragon and why does that sound like a euphemism for getting a boner?

Netflix gets a few things right – the quartered body of William Wallace nailed to a post in the town square, for one. It’s such an effective prop, it makes you believe the sight of it is enough to raise the ire of the Scots and incite riots. I had heard of the phrase “hanged, drawn and quartered,” but I’ve never really seen a fourth of someone’s body on display and I thought I had plumbed the depths of gore with The Walking Dead. There is also a scene that involves the swift punishment of Robert the Bruce’s younger brother c/o a sadistic Prince of Wales, which turns the stomach. Unlike Braveheart, which focused on Mel Gibson’s facial expressions and let the viewer’s imagination do the heavy lifting, this particular scene, scored by the wails of frightened women and children, is a searing punch to the gut. Lastly, the Battle of Bannockburn is claustrophobic, messy, chaotic and amazingly shot, giving the Battle of the Bastards a run for its cinematic money.

Still the story of Robert the Bruce and his fight to regain Scotland is too complicated by far for a two-hour movie. While the cast is able and the premise honourable, ultimately it falls far short of the standards set for movie epics. Too many questionable decisions and not enough concrete answers, and events that obviously took years and could’ve lent a lot more gravitas to the piece are skimmed over or compressed into minute sound bites. The performances are good, and the backdrop of Scotland is beautiful, but a movie is not based solely on crazed performances and an exotic locale, no matter how convincing the madness of the Black Douglas is. Neither can it be carried on the strength of one man’s peen, unless the peen belongs to Ron Jeremy, but that is another story.

Internet Sausage Links

Internet Sausage Links

If I had a penny for every Facebook status reminding me to wake up because September has ended, I would have enough to buy something at Tim’s. But coffee never works on me, so I use sugar instead. Which is awful.

You know what else is awful? The concept of free bleeding. I would’ve been perfectly happy not knowing what free bleeding is, but I am cursed with the need to know. This week, my pursuit of knowledge is a curse. Free bleeding is when women take going with the flow to an extreme in the name of freedom and the environment. In a nutshell, it’s voluntarily going without tampons, pads, period cups or liners because hygiene and basic human courtesy, like common sense, is on its way out the door – Vice

Another word I learned this week is “scumbro,” which is wonderfully self-explanatory. It’s the perfect term to describe the fashion sensibilities of Justin Bieber and Pete Davidson et al., who are running around in the most ridiculous outfits while remaining inexplicably attractive to women. I say inexplicable because as a nineties child, my idea of attractive is a healthy, corn-fed boybander with squeaky clean hair, non-skinny jeans and clothes that follow a complimentary colour scheme. To my eye, these kids look like everything they own is filched from the local thrift shop, rarely (if ever) bathe, and get dressed blindfolded in the dark. Except they’re mad rich, so the whole thing is purposefully not on purpose, the guy version of the no make-up make-up look. Behold, the rise of the scumbro – Vanity Fair

Apropos of nothing, here’s an interesting take on the Japanese psyche as influenced by the fallout of WWII, anime and the rise of technology. An oldie (2016) but a goodie – The Verge

Why do all my links start with a V today? Let’s go with a C, for children, who are cute, but are also the worst  – CTV

Speaking of C’s, my favourite Chris in the pantheon of Hollywood Chrises said goodbye to Captain America, setting off an avalanche of crying gifs as the internet weeps for its loss. Please, there’s three other Chrises left in the game, with one of them set to do a particularly revealing scene this November on Netflix (to Karen’s utter glee), so we’re all gonna be juuuuust fine. That said, he made for a splendiferous Cap, and the Captain America movies have always been among my MCU faves. You will be missed, Chris Evans.

 

Invite Them In

Invite Them In

Awesome things come out of New Zealand. Milk. Corned beef. The haka. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. Lorde’s debut album. And as if NZ wasn’t already blessed enough, it also has Taika Waititi, of What We Do in the Shadows, the insane romp of a vampire movie about  fanged roommates just trying to get along in the age of the internet.

I’ve  slowly been building up to Thor: Ragnarok by getting familiar with its director’s body of work. So far I’ve seen Hunt for the Wilderpeople (Happy Birthday, Ricky Baker!) and What We Do in the Shadows. Both have deceptively simple premises, relatively low budgets and the wickedest sense of humour.  If Taika Waititi has brought even half of his sense of the ridiculous to Thor Ragnarok, then I have high hopes for that movie, because I have decided that What We Do in the Shadows is now officially one of my favourite films.

Sharing space with someone else comes with a lot of baggage – it doesn’t just get more complicated the more people share the same home, it gets multiplied tenfold by the kind of people they are. And if you’re a vampire, who lives with other vampires, each of whom inhabits a particular Dracula stereotype… well. That’s what What We Do in the Shadows is all about.

I enjoyed this more than Wilderpeople because Waititi doesn’t just direct. He plays a major role as Viago, a prissy vampire fussbudget who wants his flatmates to lay down newspapers and towels if they’re going to eat someone on his nice clean couch.

Undone dishes. Orgies. Virgins. Sunlight. Partying with ghouls and witches. Google. Skype. Werewolves, not Swearwolves. Vampire bat fights. Victims. Blood. A group of perennial man-children running around Wellington just trying to live their best lives. It’s all very matter-of-fact from beginning to end, and the sheer normalcy in the face of so much absurdity is what makes this movie imminently watchable.

I’ve seen what Waititi can do on a limited budget and an unlimited imagination. I wonder what he’ll do on a Marvel budget, and if he’ll make another cameo, the way he did as a particularly strange priest in Wilderpeople. I hope he does. And I hope it’ll be a hoot.

You say YouTube black hole, I say Netflix black hole

You say YouTube black hole, I say Netflix black hole

Netflix is a black hole of great content. I just spent this weekend getting through The Crown, it’s latest prestige period drama which was so awesome it hurts to think I have to wait another year for its second season. It’s also so awesome it deserves its own post, which you can read right here.

I was pretty tardy to the Netflix party. Everyone I knew had it, the term “Netflix and Chill” had come into existence, but I resisted the idea because well, I’m cheap. You know, why bother buying the cow if the milk is free? Yeah, I’m one of those people. Whatever. But then Popcorn Time went down, the major torrent sites started falling like dominoes and it just became too damn hard to stay ahead of the game and be a pirate. So I hung up the tricorn, vowed to go legit, decided to bite the bullet and get Netflix.

Ha! Dramatic. No, the real story behind me getting Netflix is a friend loaned me her account, I couldn’t remember her password, I really wanted to see what Once Upon a Time was all about (because she was raving about it), I didn’t want to wait for her to return my text and Netflix’s first month was free. In conclusion, Once Upon a Time sucks,  going legit was pretty much a good idea, I got a lot of content well worth the price and this month marks my first year anniversary with Netflix. Sometimes, patience is not a virtue. #iregretnothing

Wait, maybe I do regret something. Because I binge-watch like a pro, I sometimes have moments of self-awareness where I look up from the screen and realize I’m turning into those fat Earthlings in Wall-E who zoom around on chairs  ignoring the rest of humanity because everything in their world that’s worth paying attention to is happening on a holo-screen. Netflix in general and the internet as a whole is a pretty insidious way to make sure I no longer go out to climb trees and attempt to cook leaves in a rusty tin can over a crappy fire made of twigs. Where’d my childhood go? Right, swallowed by the 80’s.

Still, there has to be a way to combine Netflix with exercise. Note to self: must get treadmill in 2017. I’ll be a hamster on a wheel, but at least I’ll be a well-entertained hamster on a wheel, and life doesn’t get much better than that. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the saddest sentence I have ever written in my life thus far. What is happening to me? Stupid Netflix subscription. Quick, someone take me out stat… ooh, look, Dana Carvey has a Netflix special!

Image from https://scifiinterfaces.files.wordpress.com/

Vive La Reine! Netflix puts our $11.99 monthly subscription to good use and I have no regrets

Just when I was wondering where  to get my dose of  exquisite gentility since Downton Abbey wrapped after six glorious seasons, Netflix comes out with the superb The Crown, its  take on the rise of Queen Elizabeth II. I’ve finished two episodes.  Because I cut my teeth on trashy historical romances and have a thing for stories about royals, history, biographies and nostalgia, this show is like crack to me.

  • Claire Foy, last seen playing Anne Boleyn in Wolf Hall, has a knack for playing female rulers. She brings a unique blend of vulnerable haughtiness to the role, which seems to work in her favour.
  • Matt Smith as the mischievous Philip Mountbatten shines in every scene he’s in. It’s impossible to look away. I’ve never had a thing for blondes, but I believe I am about to make an exception to my rule. Also, I keep muttering “why the long face?” and laughing to myself like an utter lunatic. Is there historical proof that Prince Philip always sleeps in nothing but his birthday suit? Because all those butt shots are clearly gratuitous. Did that sound like a complaint? Because it wasn’t. Royal butt shots for president!
  •  Winston Churchill apparently had an amazing sense of timing and absolutely no shame – dude almost upstaged the then princess at her own wedding. No wonder he beat Hitler. John Lithgow as ornery octogenarian Winston Churchill chews every scene he’s in. Git it, John Lithgow!
  • Netflix has obviously shelled out mega bucks for this prestige show. This observation is brought to you by the face merkin on Jeremy Northam.
  • Speaking of Jeremy Northam,  I last saw him getting his head chopped off by Henry VIII in The Tudors for sticking to his morals  on pain of death. Now he’s playing an ambitious silver fox of a Foreign Secretary who aspires to be Britain’s next Prime Minister. Welcome back, Jeremy Northam!

As an adopted Canadian,  it is my duty to watch a show based on the queen’s life because Elizabeth II is on our money and we should all support the Commonwealth even if I have no idea what the Commonwealth even stands for anymore. Actually, I never really did  and that question didn’t come up in the citizenship exam.  Long live Elizabeth Regina!

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