Month: August 2015

The unbearable lightness of being without Amazon Prime

Like a lot of people in the first world I have been thinking about cutting the cable cord for quite some time. I have no premium channels, internet or phone bundled with my bill and yet it is still almost a hundred dollars a month. Ridiculous, right? Especially when you figure I watch most shows on Netflix and use maybe four cable channels out of the hundreds I supposedly have. Having cable has become even less relevant since God and Apple got together earlier this spring and gave the world HBO Now. (I have a sneaky feeling Steve Jobs was somehow involved.) No more having to wait for a Comcast Watch-a-thon to get caught up on Girls and Veep and anything else I can cram into a week of being glued to my TV 24/7 minus sleeping and working times.

I was going to cut the cord at the beginning of the year, but it was winter and it seems that I must have been some sort of hibernating bear or ground-hog in a previous life because I never want to do ANYTHING from January until late March when fish fry Fridays are usually in full swing and it smells like spring. But then it was baseball season and the Twins were on and the only way you can see the games live is with cable because Comcast is practically a terrorist organization holding my beloved team hostage and the next thing you know it is August and I have already paid those shysters enough money to fly somewhere where they have sloths. This little cutie is in Chicago so I could probably take a limo to the airport, stay in a swank hotel and make a weekend out of it.

But if my old dad could listen to baseball on the radio his whole life well then so could I for what is left of mine, which is what I plan to do for the next non-winning Twins season. Between Netflix, HBO Now, Apple TV and one or two of these funky looking HD antennas so I can watch my local news, I should be just fine. There are however, a couple of problems* that are ruining my being able to follow my cable-free bliss and one of them is named Amazon Prime, aka Amazon Instant or anything else with Amazon in the title that isn’t a river in South America. Think of them as the Frau Farbissina to Comcast’s Dr. Evil and you pretty much get the picture. I guess that makes Hulu Plus the poor delusional Scotty of the bunch.

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You see I really, really want to see the show Catastrophe, it has everything I love going for it plus a bag of chips, yet I can’t watch it unless I pay $99 to get Prime because unlike other shows on Amazon Instant you can’t purchase this one individually. For six measly episodes that taps out at about $17 a pop and I have to buy my own popcorn. Seems a little steep even by Comcast standards. What about that thirty-day free trial you say? Well, Amazon must have gotten wise to that jive because I tried it for thirty days last year (and to be honest the year before) and now I am being ghosted, just like Charlize Theron did to Sean Penn, only I am not skeevy at all like Sean Penn surely is and it’s not like I want to get back together forever with Amazon Prime, just long enough so I can watch six half-hour shows and maybe stock up on a little bit of strawberry Jell-O for some Kinky pudding shots since you can’t buy that stuff anywhere in stores. 

For those of you lucky enough to have access to Amazon Prime and therefore Catastrophe you should definitely check it out. The show stars American comedian Rob Delaney, who I only know from the Twittersphere, and Irish comedic gem Sharon Horgan, who became one of my all-time faves after creating and starring in Pulling, quite possibly the funniest, bestest show ever about women and dating from either side of the pond. (Did you know you can watch shows on IMDB? Click on the link and you will see.) And for those of us unlucky enough to not have access to either can you please invite us over real soon? Unlimited popcorn and Milk Duds are totally on me.

*the other problem is the actual breaking up part, the internet is rife with horror stories of people trying to cut the cord and practically having to go into the witness protection program afterwards.

Summer’s here and the time is right for Netflixing in the streets

Okay, that is not exactly how the song goes but I am sure Sir Mick wouldn’t mind. He is far too busy counting his Rolling Stones Zip Code tour monies and trying to keep track of all his many children because let’s face it, between him and a certain Minnesota Viking whose names rhymes with Fadrian Swedersen they could give those professional human breeders formerly seen on TLC a run for their money, and that is saying something.

It’s hot pretty much all over the planet which could very well explain why we have yet another instance of Panda-yoncé* behavior happening, that’s right my friends, another-cleverer-than-most-members-of-congress-panda has figured it all out and faked being up the spout in order to get a little extra chow, some air conditioning and best of all, no actual labor resulting in a for real baby friend that she’d be stuck with for the next eighteen years. (Twenty-five years if that panda was American).

Yes it’s true, my favorite fake pregnancy panda Ai Hin has some serious competition in the best acting by an actress in a zoo category. Consider Yuan Yuan the Opal Gardner to Ai Hin’s Erica Kane and I think it’s time for the humans to develop a First Response test kit for the shady lady pandas of the world, or not.

The glory days of soaps

A look back at the 1980’s, the glory days of soaps

But I digress, it’s been ages since we’ve talked about streamable shows because it’s summer and you (and I) should be outside whenever possible, soaking up as much naturally occurring vitamin D as we can, preferably near a large body of water, or even perhaps ON the water with a cool refreshing beverage nearby. My current fave being hibiscus ice tea with or without vodka.

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Scrotal Recall, an absolutely shit-tastic name for an absolutely fun-tastic show. Seriously people, who comes up with these dumb-ass names for things? It’s like bad cocktails only chicks at bachelorette parties would ever order (because let’s face it, they are probably already wearing the penis earrings) or cringe-worthy names for actually very good cosmetics (I am looking directly at you Nars and your Orgasm line). Anyway, I ignored this show for a couple of months strictly because of the name and then I was bored and read some very positive reviews and decided to give it a go.

Scrotal Recall is about Dylan (played by Johnny Flynn), a sweet 20-something Brit who finds out he has an STD, chlamydia to be exact, and must contact all his previous partners to let them know. Each episode centers around a different lady friend from his past and Dylan’s well-intentioned albeit often times mishandled way of sharing said news. Word to the wise, always be sure you know exactly who you are letting in on a conference call.

It’s a bit like High Fidelity and that is never a bad thing in my book since both the novel and the movie are personal faves. Dylan has two roommates, Luke (Daniel Ings), the stereotypical horn-dog best friend and cute-as-a-button arty girl Evie (Antonia Thomas), who just may be Dylan’s lobster, (Friends viewers will get it). Scrotal Recall also has a kick-ass soundtrack chockfull of all the current cooler-than-cool Brit bands like Alt-J, Churches, Temples, Goldfrapp and they even throw in a few golden oldies every once in a while, like this gem from The Primitives.

There are only six (less than) half-hour episodes so you could conceivably binge-watch them all in one sitting and still have time to meet your pals for a libation or two, walk your furry friend, weed your garden and still have time to go a baseball game.

Witnesses, since Netflix has not given us the latest season of Spiral I had to go get my French tv fix from another show. Witnesses is also only six episodes, but they are an hour-long and in French so a bit more time-consuming (call in sick and you can still do all the things above). If you are one of those people who gets all bleary-eyed at the idea of subtitles now is the time to get the hell over it. Some of the best television comes from other countries that don’t speak English and unless you want to be left behind like all the heathens in those bad movies Kirk Cameron stars in then you best sit down and start streaming stat.

This one is a crime mystery thriller kind of thing where bodies are being dug up and placed on display in show homes (Yank translation = model homes, this show pretty much ruined the Parade of Homes for me), along with some personal belongings of a former police chief who may or may not have tried to kill himself. Witnesses is creepy and does a brilliant job of reeling you in like a big old lazy fish. Shot on location in the north of France it is also gorgeous to look at on the old HDTV machine.

Marie Dompnier stars as detective Sandra Winckler, a borderline obsessive workaholic with the requisite man/romance problems that always seems to happen to lady cops in TV land, no matter what country they call home. Dompnier has that enviable French style that can elevate a pair of jeans and a sweater into something mere mortals can only dream of. I spent all six episodes jealous of her I-just-got-out-of-bed-and-look-like-this hair, something that when I try just comes off as a hot mess, emphasis on mess.

The less said about this one the better, but really, you should check it out. As an avid reader and viewer of mysteries this one took a long time for me to figure out, and I did not even cheat and read anything about it online because the surprise was worth it. The theme song by Tricky (quite possibly the most under-rated trip hop musician ever) is beautiful and sets the tone for this moody atmospheric stunner.

* when pandas and other living things pretend to be pregnant à la pillow baby queen Beyoncé.