I’ve Been Binge Watching True Crime Before Binge Watching True Crime Was Cool

I’ve been watching a lot of true crime lately. Like daily. I am absolutely addicted. I dream about it.

I’d like to think it started with the new season of Making a Murderer, but the truth is it started when I was a small child. My mom used to watch Murder, She Wrote and Father Dowling, with a smattering of Perry Mason and Columbo. Pretty much all the time. My childhood memories, at least the ones that involve her, are peppered with the shows.

Then when my parents got divorced, visits with my mom would include day long marathons of the shows. Sometimes the entire week to visit her would be just one Unsolved Mysteries episode after another, with take out containers and pajamas littering the living room.

What I’m saying is: I’ve been binge watching true crime before binge watching true crime was cool.

Flash forward to now, and for years I have irritated my husband by obsessively adding the age old shows to the DVR. When I get up and start doing chores, they come on and annoy my kids. Sometimes they watch too; other times it is the source of Mom’s weirdness.

Then I discovered the wonders of True Crime and Crime Dramas on Netflix. It took a while for me to get really obsessive about them, but these last couple of months… man… we sure are getting our money’s worth for our recurring Netflix, Prime, and Hulu charges.

Now it’s like Unsolved Mysteries all over again. I watched the 2nd season of Making a Murderer in a matter of two days. Twice. I watched both Fyre Festival documentaries. Ted Bundy Tapes, that was a good one.

It’s also moved on to podcasts; I listened to Serial in one, long, tireless swoop.

Oh and… I just watched Abducted In Plain Sight today. Boy was that a mind fuck.

Then I started spending time online looking for published lists of shows and movies to add to my to watch file. Which I have now, on the computer – a file with lists by streaming app of what I want to watch.

I’m not even going to tell you guys how long the list is.

For me, this insatiable love of true crime and even fictional crime shows and podcasts is rooted in wanting to know more about what is going on in the world. I can only handle so much news and media; it becomes repetitive and never gets into stories like the ones I learn about listening to This American Life, or by watching a show like Murder Mountain or I Am A Killer. My life is so sheltered in these suburbs, true crime helps me realize and be aware of the world beyond my city walls.

The more I watch, as well, the more I realize how many people there are out there – in the world – who want their story to be heard. If I were to count up the number of times I, myself, felt unheard, my list would be so much longer than my own to-watch list, saved on the desktop of my MacBook. What better justice than to let the laundry go and the vacuuming wait so I can binge watch another true crime series, or another group of movies about real life crime? At least that’s what I tell myself.


10 Reasons To Never Leave the House in 2016

I am a homebody.

That’s putting it nicely. I go out so infrequently that I went almost a year before needing an oil change in my car, based on mileage. I go out so infrequently that I forgot I owned regular pants. I go out so infrequently that I often wonder if I might be becoming agoraphobic.

What is that movie with Sigourney Weaver where she is a recluse, holed up in her apartment or whatever and she’s so afraid to leave that when she walks into the hallway everything starts spinning as she hyperventilates and clings to the wall? Yeah that. I often wonder if that will be me one day.

Going out of the house is exhausting for me. It may be that I have social anxiety. A couple hours and I am so done. But it never used to be that way. I used to spend all my time out; we even used to go out to eat at the very least multiple times per week. We’d run all our errands around town, we’d go to the library and hang out…

Now I’ll look up on January 5th and realize that I have not left the house since Christmas Day.

This isn’t to say that I’m just sitting on my ass watching TV. I mean I do watch a fair amount of Netflix and movies, and binging is occasionally involved in all of that. But I still exercise, take the dog on walks, cook, clean, homeschool the kids… I just don’t often have an occasion to go anywhere and even the groceries are delivered now.

So today I started teaching a drawing class at my local art center. I knew this day was coming, the day when I would have to start getting in my car and driving to another location, where I would spend about four hours of my life away from home and my comfortable, secluded existence every single week.

That didn’t make it any easier though. When I was putting on my makeup I thought to myself ‘my God, I don’t think I’ve worn makeup in two weeks.’ Then I put on regular shoes. Not slippers, because you can’t wear slippers in public (I mean you can, but it’s looked down upon). Makeup. Regular shoes.

But I still had a couple of hours to kill until it was time to leave, so I sat down and read my book, which made me dread leaving more and more by the minute. At one point I had stopped reading and was just staring at my book thinking about how I didn’t want to leave my comfortable, sheltered existence. Not even for four hours for something I wanted to do.

Eventually, as I got up and dragged myself to class (which I ultimately did enjoy), I started coming up with all the reasons to never leave the house this year. I mean they could essentially apply to all years, but since everyone is doing this whole New Year New Me crap, in spite of my warnings last week not to do so, it sounds like a good thing to commit to.

Here goes:

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1. Making a Murderer

Anyone else spend their holiday binge watching the most terrifying and disturbing documentation of the American justice system as it is today in action?

Making a Murderer is of course the number one reason never to leave the house in 2016 not just because you need to stay home to watch that shit, but because if you leave the house there’s obviously a good chance that you too will be framed for murder, and then ultimately failed by the very justice system you depend on for your livelihood.

2. Other Netflix Shit

I often find myself thinking about how there are just so many things on Netflix, and out there in general – movies, TV series’, documentaries…and I’m not talking about the mindless crap, I’m talking about good shit that could be called educational or art. Shit that makes you aware of what is going on in the world.

Anyway there is just so much of it out there that you need to be watching, and you can’t do that if you’re spending all of your time outside of the house.

3. Wine

Same principle as the Other Netflix Shit: there is just so much wine to be had and tried, with new ones cropping up it seems like every week. Have you ever been through the wine selection at Costco or your grocery store? It never ends!

Life is too short to go without trying all that delicious wine; and moreover you need to drink it at home because drinking and driving is very 1995.

4. Books

Did you catch my little diddy about getting comfortable with my book only to have to leave?

I. Am. Sick. Of. This. Happening.

Why life continues to get in the way of me and my books is beyond me. Nevertheless, the more I commit to stay at home all year the more I am able to get read towards my goal of 125 books for 2016.

5. Pajamas

After going for several weeks without once stepping foot out the front door, I can tell you people without a singular doubt that pajamas > regular clothes. Hands down.

I would even go as far as to say that wearing pajamas during the day makes them even more > regular clothes. It’s like eating a cupcake when you know you’re on a group diet with a bunch of other people. It’s just so good because you aren’t supposed to be doing it, and you know you’re one of the only ones with the balls enough to go there.

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6. Other People

Now it’s already become clear that I’m not exactly what one would call a socialite. I have a very small circle of people that tolerate me, and that I in turn are able to tolerate. And that’s it.

When you go out of your house too much, though, you are exposed to the underbelly of humanity. People you would never – not in a million years – have anything to do with, along with all the reasons you wouldn’t have anything to do with them, are foisted upon you just by virtue of the fact that you all left the house.

7. Germs

Several years ago a friend of mine and I were walking through 3rd Street Promenade (this was when we lived in Santa Monica), and came across Howie Mandel doing some street bit for TV. My friend being boisterous and, well, crazy, jumped up and down until they interviewed him for the bit.

My friend walked up to Mandel and offered his hand. To shake. You know, like: “hello, nice to meet you, shake the hand.” But Mandel says “wait what are you doing man, germs.”

I am rapidly descending into that level of germaphobe. I mean I still shake people’s hands, but sometimes I also feel like leaving the house only if I am protected in gloves and a mask.

It seems as though every time we leave the house we are confronted by a parade of germs just oozing with the desire to infect us. Now I know kids are supposed to get all that immunity shit over with early on (actually, studies have proven that’s all old wives tale shit, but I’m no doctor so…); but for God’s sakes, can we have one fucking break from the $1000 illnesses already?!

Getting sick costs money and at this point in time we don’t have it.

8. Money

Leaving the house in general costs money. Directly and indirectly.

By not going out so much that I went almost a year without needing an oil change, I effectively saved myself three oil changes. That’s about $180, not to mention all the other unnecessary shit they always find that doesn’t really need fixing – but wait, we have to fix it or we can’t do your oil change…

That was just the start of the savings.

9. Teaching Your Kids Mindfulness

This is a serious one, which I know is shocking since 90% of what comes out of my mouth is laced with sarcasm.

Constantly being on the go, and dragging your kids from one errand to another…one social function to the next…play land to play land…(you get the point), does nothing to teach your kids mindfulness.

There was a time that this was how I lived. To keep my kids entertained, I would drag them from place to place, spending tons of money and energy to give them roughly one hour of instant gratification and fun before they got bored and were ready to move on to the next best thing.

Then I noticed that they had stopped appreciating the things they had at home. Suddenly it was always about what was bigger and better. They stopped finding as much interest in reading or playing a board game as a family, because they wanted to go to the new jump place down the street.

That’s when I realized that I was teaching my kids to live in the future, the “what’s next,” rather than to live in the mindful present.

So we went cold turkey. We stopped taking them anywhere, and stopped buying them every single thing that they asked for. At first, it was rough, but as time went on the old toys and games and books that they had loved before started coming out. And suddenly they loved being at home and loved the things they already had again.

They were more mindful of their time and appreciative of their family and what they had, too.

10. Did I Mention Netflix, Pajamas, and Reading?

Seriously, this whole post was about those three things, which – I guess – makes them worth repeating.

Life is too short to spend it sitting in traffic, tolerating irritating people, and doing things you don’t actually want to do.

Now…if you want to go out and have a good time, or go on a hike, or attend that fifth family Thanksgiving dinner, well so be it. But just remember that at home you have all these wonderful things waiting for you that can and are just as good.

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Christmas (sort of) in July

So last night I was still not giving much of a shit about parenting or cleaning up like a slave or anything, so I decided my husband and I should watch a movie on Netflix to bide the time until we went to bed and began another night of trying to abuse each other with punches, kicks, and obscene noises in our sleep.

It ended up being the most amazing experience of my life. No hot actors. No steamy love scenes. Even still, words cannot adequately describe how wonderful it was. I will try.

10:15 pm

Poor Nick begins cruising through the Netflix Instant Que and – as usual – is suggesting we watch some weird shit like reruns of Twin Peaks. I don’t know what it is about that show that is so fucking weird – maybe the guy and his fucked up gum-chewing-slow-dancing-psychosis – but I am not interested. Ever.

I suggest we move out of our Instant Que and look for something that Netflix recommends.

10:30 pm

Fifteen minutes into looking through movies, we are still looking through movies. There are two things we do that are both laborious and exaggerated in how long it takes us to agree on something: decide where to go out to eat and pick a movie to watch on Netflix. It’s like it never fucking ends, but thankfully tonight we’ve moved onto what Netflix recommends for us rather than our Instant Que full of that weird Twin Peaks crap.

Pookies watched a lot of Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide (kill me, now) and Wonderpets on Netflix recently, so the top recommendations are children’s movies. I stop paying attention because I am growing overwhelming bored and check my Facebook on my Air Jordan. I hear Poor Nick mumbling under his breath and ignore it – as I usually do; although, I do catch when he says “why are they still recommending Christmas movies?”

I look up at the TV and begin to scream.

10:35 pm

On the screen is an image of my childhood: The Christmas Toy. I don’t have many memories from my childhood with my mom, since I only saw her a few times a year after she divorced my dad and moved across the country, but The Christmas Toy was one of them. Every year we would watch that movie and eat Chex Mix and actually have good times together (versus the rest of the time when she was a Trailer Trash Mom, hanging out in the local lounge trying to pick up men whilst I sat in a nearby booth).

Perhaps my all-time favorite kid’s Made for TV special, this is the Jim Henson version of toys that come to life at night. One of them (a stuffed tiger named Rugby) is unaccepting of the fact that he will not be the Christmas toy every year after his first and tries to go put himself under the Christmas tree.

After screaming, and then screaming a little more, I spend the next 10 minutes trying to convince Poor Nick to watch it.

10:45 pm

Poor Nick gives in. He begins the movie and within 30 seconds I am crying.

11:00 pm

Fifteen minutes in and I am holding Poor Nick’s hand so tightly he looks like he is in pain. He may possibly be in pain because watching children’s movies is pure torture to him; but it seems that he is writhing under my utter excitement. Regardless of this, I can’t stop – this is just so exciting to me.

When Mew – the stuffed mouse filled with catnip – comes onto the screen, I begin to coo. Poor Nick stands up and walks away. I continue to coo.

11:15 pm

Poor Nick returns after doing I do not know what (I also don’t care – The Christmas Toy is on the TV). “Are you still watching this junk?” he says and I grow offended that he would utter such atrocities about my Christmas Toy.

Rugby has made it to the Christmas tree at this point and is opening the Christmas present box so that he can get in it. He opens the box and Meteora comes out. Meteora is some sort of space queen Barbie doll, and she doesn’t know she is a toy yet. I squeeze Poor Nick’s hand again and start singing loudly the Meteora song. “Are you fucking insane?” he says and I continue to sing, even louder.

11:25 pm

After everyone has returned to the toy room, Mew is caught in the hallway by one of the parents. In the law of the toy room, if a toy is caught out of place by a human it is frozen forever. As I always do at this point, I gasp and hold my hands over my mouth – repeating “oh Mew!” over and over again (you can see how seriously I take this). Mew becomes frozen and Rugby goes to say his peace to his best friend, who has been thrown in the cat’s bed downstairs.

I begin to cry and Pookie walks out, still being awake because she thought she saw a ghost earlier. I catch her up on the story and she begins to cry also at Mew’s having been frozen.

Poor Nick looks at us like we’re complete idiots, but stays seated and I now believe he is as enraptured in The Christmas Toy as I am. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure he was enraptured by what to do about his wife-gone-bonkers.

Rugby’s love for Mew is so moving that Mew comes back from being frozen. The two return to the toy room, a big song is sang, then Christmas morning Meteora and a second Mew join the room. Pookie and I are now sobbing uncontrollably.

11:35 pm

Pookie is back in bed and I grab the remote to give The Christmas Toy five stars (Poor Nick has given it two) as I dab my tears from my face and blow my nose. He takes the remote to get everything turned off for the night and I have forgotten to add The Christmas Toy to the Instant Que so that I can easily access it regularly to watch, so ask Poor Nick if he will add it.

“You want to continue to put yourself through this?” he asks, but doesn’t need an answer and puts it in the que, where it shows up right next to Twin Peaks on Recently Watched.

Like I said, clearly the most wondrous night of movie-going I’ve had in a long time. And people don’t think I have good taste in movies. Well you know what I say to them? You are lovely, Meteora. Yes, so lovely and smart and brave and strong. So exciting, Meteora. Even lightning bolts seem dull when you’re along. How can you say “bad taste” to a movie with song lyrics like that? Tears are forming in my eyes again now even, as I write this.

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Netflix = Capitalism, and other related topics

Photo credit Filmjunk.com

I’m sure you’ve all heard by now:  Netflix has restructured their rates, and a lot of people are up in arms on the way these changes will be affecting them.  Reportedly, over 10,000 posts (most negative) were made to Netflix’s Facebook page this Tuesday after the announcement of the restructuring of the plans, many of which carried some version of the message “I’m canceling.”

And why shouldn’t people be upset?  With unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs (one at a time) only costing $9.99, a 60% rate hike for the same thing seems almost absurd.

Or does it?

People that have responded to the Netflix rate restructuring seem to fall under a few different camps, all of whom ignore some of the basic, logical facts.

First off, there are those that act like $15.99 is a lot of money.  Sure, a 60% “hike” in monthly charges is pretty drastic.  In light of the fact that $15.99 is less than the average American spends on coffee per week, though, it really shouldn’t be that big of a deal.  If an extra $6 is really going to break the bank, try a Diet Coke instead of that Starbucks Espresso just one day out of the month and the problem is solved.

Secondly, there are those that act like canceling their Netflix will save them money.  Will it?  Will it really?  I think we all know it won’t, unless those cancelers cease watching movies altogether.  A movie ticket at the theater runs about $11.50 (sometimes more, sometimes less).  A DVD or Blu-Ray Rental at Blockbuster runs around $5.99 or more.  A Video On Demand through Time Warner, Comcast, and other similar cable companies runs around $5.99, unless you chose a second rate/nobody wants to watch this movie from the $2.99 or less bin.  About the only way you can watch the same number of movies per month and save money would be to watch 15 or fewer $1 rentals from the Blockbuster Express or Redbox kiosks, but then you can watch no more than 15 movies (if you want to save money), can only keep the movies for one night, and are very likely to get one that is scratched and unplayable.

There’s also the simple fact that changing times mean inflated costs of doing business.  When a small business owner has to adapt to a changing economy, he raises his prices.  When there is a milk shortage, the cost of milk, yogurt, and cheese goes up.  When there is a natural disaster, gas prices sky-rocket.  The inability of Netflix’s millions of users to understand that business costs go up occasionally is astonishing.  Speculators have even suggested that this is the reason for Netflix’s hike in prices:  as the cost of securing online streaming contracts goes up, Netflix has to raise its rates.  Netflix has not officially commented on the reasons for restructuring, but it just makes sense.

Lastly, there is the entitlement camp.  These are the people that are irking me the most in this Netflix uproar:  the people that act as if they are entitled to unlimited movies, in the formats they want, with no change in prices at all, ever.  I have seen so many comments on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, and in the news over the last two days from people complaining that Netflix had better make all movies available for instant streaming, or else.  Quite obviously these are the people for whom $6 extra per month would break the bank, so they expect the $7.99 instant streaming to include everything.  If this entitlement camp wants to act so entitled, rather than vent their expectations on Netflix, they should perhaps turn to the studio executives that are making things difficult for everyone in the first place.  LA Times reported Tuesday that studio executives are glad that Netflix is changing their rate structure, claiming that this means through user cancelations their own means of profit through Video On Demand and Blu-Ray Discs will again soar.  The Times further stated that “… four studios prevent the company from offering some newly released DVDs until 28 days after they go on sale in stores. Three others keep their films off the Netflix Instant streaming service until they finish airing on HBO — about seven years after their home video release…”

The moral of the story?  Hollywood is a greedy, disgusting industry.  The further moral of the story?  By taking advantage of capitalism, Netflix destroyed the video rental store industry – or, to put it nicer, it “restructured it,” but we only have ourselves to blame for feeding in to it, and thus creating higher costs for all our other options.  The end-all-be-all moral of the story?  If you don’t like what Netflix has done with their restructure, you certainly can cancel your subscription, but before you do so consider what it’s going to cost you.  And I’m not just talking about the money.  Canceling Netflix on principle, only to play into the hands of more expensive movie viewing options, will just mean less money in your wallet and a cadre of studio executives laughing all the way to the bank.