On depression and grace

23 February 2012

Another week and a half, another absence from the blog.  No matter how often this happens, I never seem to get used to it.

I know I should be more consistent with this.  For one, I have plenty of things to say.  For another, people seem to like them (or at least read them).  And I know the best way to “build traffic” to a blog is to post something, anything, every day.  So I know these long absences are working against my best interests.

And yet they still occur.  The reason they still occur, while simple to state, is not so simply remedied.  Basically, I find it hard to write when I’m depressed.

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Netflix, Facebook and the loss of perspective

27 September 2011

Sorry I haven’t been around, folks.  I’m not sure what it was — a mild bug that my body was fighting off, mental preparation for the local school district’s two-week fall break (which meant my whole family would be home all day, getting in each other’s hair), one of my periodic bouts with depression, or some combination of the above with or without other factors.  But I found it very hard to write last week — and when you try to force yourself to write, I’ve found, the results are less than ideal.  So I did my best to relax and not worry about it (not my natural bent) and got back on the horse yesterday and today.

So what was I spending time on when not writing?  Reading.  I cleared out two novels; started a third (almost done); kept up on articles at Grantland, AVClub, Splitsider, Slate and Internet Monk; and watched what everyone was doing on Facebook.  It’s the latter that prompts today’s post, because I got to watch the Internet’s second major freakout in as many months.

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The continuing bargain, or “Why I STILL like Netflix”

1 September 2011

A little over a year ago, I put up a post entitled “The better mousetrap, or ‘Why I like Netflix’.”  Basically, I waxed rhapsodic about the genius of Netflix’s business plan, their superiority to the chain video stores I’d had to deal with previously, their excellent customer service, their vast selection, and so on and so on.  It was so laudatory that I’m amazed no one accused me of having been bribed to say all that.  (And no, I wasn’t bribed.)

Well, some things have changed with Netflix over the last year.  Mainly, one thing has changed: the membership price.

Several weeks ago, Netflix announced what was functionally a pretty major price hike.  Previously, they had charged $9.99 per month (plus local sales tax) for one DVD at a time, plus unlimited online movie streaming; that’s the membership level I’m at, and it’s apparently the most popular level.  Starting today, September 1, 2011, though, it’s $7.99 per month for the one DVD at a time, but no online streaming.  It’s also $7.99 per month for unlimited streaming, but no DVDs in the mail.  If you want both, like before … you have to pay both $7.99s, so, $15.98 per month.

And the howls were heard across the land …

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Oscar predictions, part 3: the moments you’ve all been waiting for …

26 February 2011

If you haven’t read Part 1 or Part 2 of my Oscar predictions, you might want to check them out first.  But now it’s time for the big, high-profile awards, the ones people think about when they say “so-and-so is an Oscar winner!”  Ready?  Then let’s go!

Best Original Screenplay

Nominees: Mike Leigh (Another Year), Silver/Tamasy/Johnson/Dorrington (The Fighter), Christopher Nolan (Inception), Lisa Cholodenko/Stuart Blumberg (The Kids Are All Right), David Seidler (The King’s Speech)

Rule of thumb: Well, it’s complicated …

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Periodic Pingback: Humor a la Slate

6 August 2010

(Blogger’s note: every once in a while, I’ll find something on the InterWebTenterNet (thank you, McLeod Brothers) that I had no hand in creating, but is nonetheless such a case of awesome epicness (or epic awesomeness) that I cannot refrain from passing it on without violating my conscience.  And it helps if, like tonight, I’m too exhausted from dealing with medical providers and family issues to put up a column.  Thus, “Periodic Pingback” — a peripatetic palette of prime pieces per my PC.   Enjoy!  And I have a doozy of a post for tomorrow — watch out …)

It may say something about the state of comedy in the 21st century that one of the consistently best sources of humor in my life is an online news and opinion magazine.  Or maybe that says something about the state of mass media in the 21st century.  Either way, from Monday through Friday, if I want a chance to laugh out loud without having my intelligence insulted, my best bet is Slate Magazine.

Now, Slate does tend to run a bit to the liberal side for my tastes (they are, after all, a division of the Washington Post Media Group) and I don’t read everything they publish (a lot of it just doesn’t interest me).  And they do employ mean-spirited anti-religious knucklehead Christopher Hitchens as a regular columnist.  They ain’t perfect; nobody is except Jesus, and look what we did to Him.

But they are good for a well-thought-out laugh – whether it’s their weekly feature “Barack Obama’s Facebook Feed” (a parody, not the real thing … I think), a flow chart for the gravity of congressional scandals, the indecisiveness of Brett Favre plotted as an interactive mathematical graph, or documentation of the verbal pratfalls of vice-president/equal opportunity offender Joe Biden and ex-governor/free-form linguist Sarah Palin.  Almost every day, the site has something that makes me guffaw, something that makes me think … and often something that does both at the same time.

One could find worse news outlets.  (I’ll name no names …)


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