Month: May 2016

We are never ever getting back together

Our relationship had been stagnant for years. I felt like I gave and gave and got very little back in return. Sure there were some bright spots over the years, Orphan Black, Project Runway in the Bravo days and the best adaptation ever of Pride & Prejudice back when A&E actually produced shows with art and entertainment in mind instead of ones about strange addictions and not knowing you are pregnant. Just like the real-life couple inspiration for the movie Love Story (Al & Tipper Gore, minus the leukemia) our very long-term relationship had reached the end of its days. This was no Becky with the good hair type of situation though, nobody cheated, it was simply time to cut the cord and move on so I did.

It was a tough break-up, as all mostly one-sided relationship break ups can be. It was especially tough in the beginning during those long, dark January nights when all I wanted to do was pick up the phone and tell them how sorry I was and that it was all me and not at all them. I missed not being able to mindlessly flip through endless channels of shows that I had zero interest in and home shopping channels I never purchased a single thing from but still watched sometimes because just like Mount Everest they were there. They were always there. But then I remembered how J-Lo said love don’t cost a thing and this particular love was costing me way too much so with Jen’s help I have been able to stay strong and Comcast-free for almost six months now.

It has not been easy but these days cutting the cord does not necessarily mean no cable access. With premiums channels like Showtime and HBO Now available as stand alones and subscription services from iTunes I figured I would just pay for what I really wanted and nobody ever had to put a ring on it. I could come and go as I damned well pleased something I could never do in my previous relationship. I also signed up for Sling TV’s basic internet cable package for $20 a month. With Sling I still have access to a news channel (CNN, not my fave but at least it is not FOX) for when bad things in the world happen and I feel the need to watch people with nebulous credentials say the same stuff over and over again without letting little things like facts get in the way. And while I no longer can watch Tiny House Nation (insert large crocodile tears here), HGTV devotes Monday nights to various tiny house shows so I can still be equally intrigued (a couch that turns into a bed, a ping-pong table AND a desk) and repulsed (composting toilets or people with children living without doors or walls) on a weekly basis. There are enough channels on Sling’s basic package that I can make it work just fine.

Because I like to know what is going on in my own town local channels were a must which meant I had to buy an antenna. I bought two different ones to see which worked best and so far I have to say neither. The Mohu Leaf got mostly positive reviews but it is still hit and miss reception-wise usually on the one channel I want to watch at that one particular moment. I also bought an RCA with good old-fashioned rabbit ears and it is the same damn thing. Supposedly the roof top mounted ones work great but if I wanted something ugly on my house I would get a satellite dish or a Trump banner. I guess I will learn to live with the spotty reception.

Unfortunately Comcast did get to keep the Minnesota Twins in our divorce. Years ago the Twins sold their not-at-all-immortal souls to Fox Sports North so the only way to see any of their home games on television is with a cable subscription. I figured if my dad could listen to Twins games on the radio then I could too and given how embarrassingly bad they are playing this year it’s probably for the best that I can’t actually see them because listening is tough enough. It is possible to buy a subscription from MLB for away games so if they ever start playing better than the Bad News Bears before Walter Matthau took over as coach I may sign up.

It took a little while to get used but I am feeling pretty good about this break up. The amount of money I am saving is a major plus and I am finally starting to make some headway through my long-ass Netflix queue. Because so many people are cutting the cord and the millennials never connected to one in the first place it is inevitable that the Comcasts of the world will figure out a way to capitalize on some sort of à la carte pricing structure but until then I think I am going to be okay out here on my own.


A Graffiti Bridge to Nowhere

It has been seven hours and way too many days since Jehovah’s sexiest witness left us with a major case of the sads. The world is a whole lot less interesting, Minnesota in particular, because now all we have left are 10,000 lakes any of which I would gladly give up if we could get the little guy back. (Not Lake Minnetonka though, we gotta keep that one for obvious reasons.) Prince was of course much more than just a genius musician he was also a bonafide MOVIE STAR. At one point in 1984 he had not only the number one album (Purple Rain), but the single and movie to go along with it. Like everyone else on the planet in 1984 with a heartbeat, five bucks and a driver’s license I saw Purple Rain at the time but had not seen it all the way through since. So in honor of the late, great Purple Yoda I decided to go on a Prince-a-thon to revisit and recap his cinematic career from best to well, let’s just be kind and say less best.

1.) Purple Rain: I loved this when it came out. I loved it because it was filmed at the club where I spent my formative years (thanks to a real fake ID), it starred the most famous music dude in town and the songs were amaze-balls. I am pretty sure that even with the purple-tinted sunglasses (Oakley of course) I had on at the time I knew it wasn’t exactly a Casablanca or Segei Eisenstein’s Potemkin level of celluloid greatness before me (I was a film minor FFS) but I did not care then or now. The electrifying musical performances more than made up for any of the gaping plot holes, the ridiculous amount of misogyny and the fact that Steve McClellan was somehow no longer the manager of First Avenue but had been replaced by some guy from Detroit named Billy. Whatever Prince. (iTunes, and some theaters)


2.) Under the Cherry Moon:  I did not see this movie when it came out and sadly I was not alone in my indifference. UTCM was both a commercial and critical flop, winning a whopping five Golden Raspberry Awards and beating out the completely ridiculous Howard the Duck for worst movie of 1986. (Interestingly enough that movie also starred a Minnesotan, Lea Thompson.) But now that I have seen it twice I can honestly say those golden raspberries were completely undeserved and I am not alone in that assessment.

Prince and The Time’s mirror man Jerome Benton play cousins who spend their days and nights on the French Riviera scamming rich ladies trying to earn enough dough to get back to Miami. Kristin Scott Thomas (in her film debut) plays their latest and richest mark yet who is proving to be a bit more of a challenge than their usual suspects. Originally shot in color, it was switched to black and white prior to its release which was a great call  because UTCM is drop-dead gorgeous to look at.

Prince dances, prances and lays the doe eyes on extra thick but he and Benton have great on-screen chemistry and their silly screwball routine about going to the wecka stow is classic. Between the clothes (Chanel, pre-Kunty Karl), the scenery (Nice) and the songs (Kiss, Sometimes it Snows in April, Mountains),  UTCM is more than worth spending three bucks and some of your extra time on. (iTunes, Amazon)


3.) Graffiti Bridge: I am not gonna lie, Graffiti Bridge is pretty bad. So bad that I was regretting not having my iPad with me so I could surf the web during the dull parts and there were lots of dull parts. Ostensibly a sequel to Purple Rain it has absolutely none of the charm, hit songs or performance magic of its predecessor. According to the plot line, fake First Avenue owner/manager Billy has gone to the great nightclub in the sky and left another club called Glam Slam (also RIP) to the Kid (Prince) and Morris Day. I do not know who got First Avenue (Apollonia, perhaps?) or how Glam Slam got moved to Seven Corners (WTF?) but at least fake dead Billy had a will. Just let that one sink in for a minute.

Even though money-grubbing Morris allegedly owns half of Glam Slam he somehow wants to destroy it which makes no sense but neither does this movie so there you go. I think Prince hit peak Prince-ness with Graffiti Bridge (he wrote, directed and starred) but seemed utterly bored by the entire process. Mostly shot on a sound stage at Paisley Park his ennui shines through loud and clear. It’s a bloody mess but it could have been much, much worse. According to one-time Prince dancer extraordinaire Cat Glover, Madonna was supposed to play the Angel role that ultimately went to Ingrid Chavez. Watch it if only to say that you have seen it and then go rewatch Purple Rain any of the awesome performances that have cropped up on YouTube while you can. (iTunes, Amazon)


4.) New Girl Prince episode: Here is your chance to see Prince show Zoey Deschanel just how adorkable is done. I probably should rate this television appearance above Graffiti Bridge but New Girl is only 20 plus minutes long minus commercials and Prince is not in all the scenes so demerits must be given. On the plus side you hear a snippet of one of my all-time-favorite Prince songs When You Were Mine, there are pancakes involved and he made the producers remove all traces of a certain reality show family that were set to appear. Prince was the sensei of shade and man am I going to miss his not-at-all-subtle ways with the side-eye. (Season 3, episode 14, Netflix)


If you still need more Prince in your life (and who doesn’t?), check out this fantastic podcast with André Cymon. Recorded a couple of years back after Cymon released his first album in about a hundred years this interview offers great insight into the makings of the Minneapolis sound.. Cymon and Prince were childhood friends and lived together for years after Prince moved in with Cymon’s family. André was also Prince’s bassist during the pre-Revolution days and was known for his uncanny ability to pull off wearing clear pants and not looking like a total try-hard twat. He recorded a few albums in the 80’s but then went on to became more known as a songwriter and producer. Cymon is a great story teller and you won’t be bored for an instant which is good because this podcast clocks in at over two hours, something I wish I’d known when I started listening at 11:30 on a school night.