Tiny House Nation

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.


Reality bites

Reality television and I have always had a bit of a love/hate relationship, like if we were a couple our Facebook relationship status would have to be “it’s complicated” because on the one hand you have shows where there is an actual skill or talent required to compete like say Project Runway, Top Chef or Rockstar: INXS  but then along comes the other hand and it is filled with abysmal crap and awful people primarily involving plastic-enhanced housewives from some town or another, homophobic, allegedly Christian serial duck killers, or people who have more children then there are residents in towns in North Dakota and it makes you yearn for the days when TLC and A&E actually meant something and did not stand for the networks most likely to air a freak show, and not the good kind where Jessica Lange totally massacres one of my favorite Bowie songs which I am begging her never to do again, at least not with a fake German accent.

Reality television is cheap and quick to produce and for those two reasons alone it will survive the apocalypse just like all the world’s cockroaches and Dick Cheney will somewhere in Wyoming with a stockpile of canned goods, an arsenal of weapons and a defibrillator or two (you know he’s a Doomsday prepper ) just to make sure. It’s been over twenty years since MTV’s Real World first burst onto the scene and we all stopped being polite and got real with each other and well there is just no going back now because fame-whoring* has become an actual full-time job with endless growth potential as anything/everything Kardashian-related sadly proves.


One day after a particularly challenging day at work I sat on my couch, snuggled with my dog and watched three episodes of Vanderpump Rules without moving not because I liked it in any way but because my brain was completely fried and watching a bunch of fake waiters and waitresses come up with insane ways to stir up some shit for no reason with their fake friends at their fake workplace was way more entertaining than thinking about people who do that stuff for real. Oh-Amy herself was a cocktail waitress during her college years at a trendy upscale Mexican bar and nothing even remotely exciting happened there in two years except the one time a couple of dudes got into a fight over the Vikings (the sports team not the seafarers) and knocked over some tables but mostly it was dullsville albeit the best way to make the most amount of money working the least amount of hours that was legal which was the only reason why I did it.

Pretty much all of the early reality shows were must-see TV for me. I loved Project Runway despite Heidi Klum’s fingers-on-chalkboard-voice that used to scare my dog sometimes almost as much as when the smoke detectors would accidentally go off. If Project Runway was on I was watching it in real-time because I did not have TiVo or any of those other fancy DVR things so you had to be present to watch and I was, without fail, for the first few seasons until they skedaddled over to Lifetime and it became boring like most shows do after a while.

Interestingly enough even though I was born without the bridal gene I do still like and watch Say Yes to the Dress despite the fact that even if I did have that particular gene I would probably never say yes to any of the dresses especially the skank-tastic Pnina Tornai corset ones that cost about as much as a one-way ticket on the Orient Express yet look like they came from Forever 21 or Love Culture and that is definitely not a compliment, backhanded or otherwise, Ms. Overpriced Wedding Dress Designer Lady of Kleinfeld’s.

But there is one rather newish genre of reality TV shows that I am more than a little bit into these days and that is the tiny house movement and all the shows about them including Tiny House Hunting and Tiny House Nation that air on FYI. I first found out about this small house phenomena last year when the DailyMail (quite possibly the world’s worst yet coincidentally most popular online newspaper) ran a story about a cool cabin in the woods of Wisconsin and I fell in love, not so much with the idea of moving to Wisconsin mind you, but with the adorable little cabin situated there.

Now I live in an average-sized suburban dime-a-dozen-rambler and have rooms that exist for no real purpose other than a place to dump my mail (dining room) or store my great aunt’s china (living room) I have had since I was ten years old that apparently none of the millennials in my family will ever want because they have no feelings or sense of duty like us olds so the idea that people are living in a house the size of my bedroom is mind-boggling. One guy in Portland with a child actually considered a 93-square-foot home with a kitchen/bathroom combo that I can’t even describe before designing his own place complete with a composting toilet, something that I prefer not to even think about because the Romans invented sewers for a reason and it was an excellent one. Nonetheless I admire these people and their less is more lifestyle even if I can’t fully embrace it, yet.

*Fame-whore: someone who contributes absolutely nothing to humanity yet for unknown, inextricable reasons, certain segments of the population apparently want to keep up with them.