A big thanks to Gordon for handling this column last week while I was away. As he noted I’ve moved. Again. We don’t actually move once a year as he joked, but he wasn’t that far off the mark. In the 12 years my wife and I have been married we’ve moved approximately eight times through four different countries, three states, and five cities. It's an exhausting way to live, but at least we never get bored. For the last 15 months or so, we’ve lived in a little house way out in the country. It was a lovely bit of land far from the annoyances (and conveniences) of city (or even small-town) life. The dog had plenty of room to run, the daughter was never in danger of getting ran over, and the view was rather spectacular. I loved it in a great many ways, but I was ready to move back to civilization. Or at least I was ready to live with real internet again.
We were living so far out that the only internet provider we could find was via satellite. They promised (and mostly) provided fast speeds, but with a very limited quantity. I got 10 gigs of bandwidth at the good speeds per month and then I’d get throttled back to the stone age. For those of you who pay little attention to how much bandwidth you use, 10 gigs is miniscule. Forget downloading large files like lossless music or movies. Ten gigs laughs at your attempt to stream YouTube clips or, godforbid, full-length movies in HD, or normal definition, or even the crappiest of qualities. I could barely check my e-mail, browse Facebook, and write for this site without using up my allotment after a couple of weeks. We had to throw out Netflix immediately. You could hear my sobbing in the wind for weeks after.
As the weeks drew near for us to be moving back to the real work again, I began to get very excited over streaming movies again. I checked out what new features had been added to the Apple TV since we’d parted ways. I browsed list after list of what was new and best to Netflix. I made little mental queues on what I’d watch first, what I’d binge on, and how often I could send the daughter to the grandparents catching up on all those shows I’d been missing.
We came down to the new town a couple of weeks before the actual move date in order to secure some housing. It was supposed to be a cinch. A few days before we left my folks told me of a lovely rental house that sounded just perfect. They’d checked it out, given their approval, and even e-mailed us the application forms. We filled them out, mailed them back, and were on our way. Or so we thought.
When we got to town, we visited the place, rather liked it, but then found out there were dozens of other folks like us applying for it and the likelihood of us getting it was slim. We spent the rest of the week running around town (and other towns nearby) checking out ever lead we could find. All of them were either way out of our price range or really rather disgusting. Eventually we decided we could go without a yard or a view (or the ability to live with our pets) and went apartment looking. We found a nice one well within our price range and signed up. We were approved, but there was a hitch - there were no apartments available just now. Perhaps in July we could get in, or maybe August (or September, or who knows?)
So here I am living in my parents' house, wife and child in tow. It's a nice place, and my folks are very kind, but it feels incredibly unsettled. And guess what? My parents have the exact same ISP as I did with the exact same bandwidth restrictions. Goodbye, downloads. Goodbye, Netflix. Goodbye, dreams of happiness.
True Detective is exactly the sort of great TV I know I’ve been missing. Truth be told, I did manage to watch that one even in my Internet drought - the means of which shall not be named in these pages. It is a brilliant show, the sort of thing that cable TV has gotten so good at lately and that the networks (and Hollywood if we want get right at it) has long since forgotten how to make. It features two big time Hollywood stars - Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson - and a story that’s dark, wild, and metaphysical. Every aspect of the show is just brilliant filmmaking at its best. One might quibble with the ending, but everyone agrees that how they got there is truly TV at its finest.
One day I’ll get fast Internet again and will be able to stream new shows and movies. Until then I’m binging on the DVD.
Also out this week that looks interesting:
Ray Donovan: Season 1: I’ve been hearing good things about this Liev Schreiber show about a Hollywood fixer.
Devil’s Knot: A dramatic retelling of the story of The West Memphis Three starring Colin Firth and Reese Witherspoon. The Three were a trio of teenage boys who were wrongfully convicted of killing three younger boys. They spent years in prison until finally being released very recently when new evidence supported their innocence.
Non-Stop: I like Liam Neeson very much and I really wish he’d stop making these dumb action flicks, and yet I can’t help myself but want to watch them. They are ridiculous films in every way, but Neeson sells them and I find myself enjoying them.
Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey: My secret confession for today is that I’ve never been a fan of Carl Sagan’s original Cosmosseries. Everyone raves about it and a generation of scientists entered into the field because of it, but I find it a ridiculous bore. I am too young to have watched it when it came out but I’ve tried to sit through it on Netflix and can never make it past half an hour. The problem is two-fold: the effects look pretty cheesy by modern standards and the information he’s giving out is stuff I already know. That being said I’m still excited about this new version with Neil Degrasse Tyson.
What I neglected to mention in the words above about the bad Internet in my last house was that I also didn’t have cable and my antennae was woefully bad at picking up anything but PBS. Periodically, Fox would come in for a little while. It did so several times during Cosmos and I’d sit and watch it for ten minutes before it went back out. Just tonight I watched most of the finale at my folks' house and it piqued my interest. The space ship is still a cheesy effect, but Tyson is a rock star of science, and the information he’s passing on is mostly new to me.
L'Eclisse (Criterion Collection): I don't think I've ever seen a Michelangelo Antonioni film, but everybody says he's awesome and with Criterion creating this version its automatically on my list.