My Dinner With Roku

For about a month now, Elvira and I have been using the Roku to watch movies and TV shows from our Netflix account. In that time, we’ve only had two minor incidents where the quality dropped, and even then, it wasn’t a horrible experience, just a little pixelation and a few stuttered frames. Barely worth mentioning. The only drawback is the options for selecting content. Roku currently has only 2 channels to offer, Netflix and Amazon On Demand.

Netflix streaming comes free with your monthly subscription, so there’s no extra cost there. The downside is, you have to wait for the content you want to be on DVD, and even then it’s sort of a crap shoot as to weather or not it’ll be streaming. Some studios are on top of things and release streaming rights along side DVD releases, other studios are just sitting on content they could be streaming, picking up revenue dollars by making deals with Netflix but instead, they’d rather pout over the odd instance of piracy that is taking imaginary dollars out of their hypothetical pockets. But that’s neither here not there. Those studios will either get with the 21st century or die. And from the fan standpoint, waiting a few more months until movies or TV shows are released isn’t that big a deal, unless you absolutely need to watch the new episode of Weeds or Lost. But that’s where Amazon On Demand come sin.

We haven’t tried this channel yet, because Amazon decided to set their streaming service up so that you buy each movie or episode a la cart. The prices aren’t bad but I don’t want to have to buy a TV show every time I sit down to watch it. That can get pricey. Hopefully, Amazon will offer a monthly subscription like Netflix does and that will solve the issue.

Now, all Roku needs to do is add a Hulu channel and a You Tube channel and we’ll be set. If they add bundled subscriptions to other ocntent as well, say HBO or Showtime or Comedy central directly, then they could easily replace cable and network TV. Which would suit me just fine, since there’s no commercials on Roku.

One More Reason To Cancel My Cable Subscription

The Sci-Fi channel is changing it’s name to the SyFy channel as a way to get away from all that weirdo geeky science fiction stuff. They aren’t changing the content any, which is ironic, since they’ve drifted away from the sci-fi content in favor of Ghost Hunters and wrestling, which is certainly fictional but not all that scientific. Or even Sciency. I’d rant about what an idiotic idea this is but frankly, come 11PM Friday night, I won’t have any reason to watch the channel ever again.

Mostly this has to do with the aforementioned Ghost Hunters and/or wrestlers but also due to changes in technology. I get 90% of my TV shows online now and soon, we’ll be setting up a home computer as our entertainment hub, which means 100% of our content will come form the Internet. And in 3 years when the SyFy channel, along with subscription cable goes the way of the newspaper world, I’ll hardly even notice. So, way to stay on the cutting edge there, SyFy guys.

Fuck the Jetpacks, I want my Alternative Internet Media Stream

Pulling a page from the Fox playbook, ABC has not only canceled Pushing Daisies but may not even air the last three episodes. I could go on at length about greedy douchebag executives, or idiot suits more concerned about add revenue than content or lament the artless shit that will no doubt fill the time slot. And while all these are legitimate gripes, what really pisses me off is the lack of artistic integrity. I don’t expect the salami for brains at ABC to get the show but they could at least have the common decency to let those of us who do have some bit of closure. But no. They are, yet again, going to try and leverage more money out of our pockets by forcing us to wait for the DVDs to find out how one of the most inventive, and creative shows on Television ends.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem if we already had an alternative media distribution network on the interent, which it being 2009 already we should have had by now. But since the execs haven’t figured out how to put a pay wall between your computer screen and eyeballs yet, no dice. So, let’s put our heads together and try and fix this problem. I’m not asking for world peace or even a long term resolution to the Isral/Palistine problem. Just make it so I don’t have to give gormless idiots my entertainment dollar if they aren’t even going to give me content.

BSG: Telling It From The Mountain

So, I was reading Pandagon yesterday when I discovered that some really weird folk think Battlestar Galactica is secretly a Mormon recruitment tool[1]. Their evidence? The show makes use of religious imagery and mythology. Which is pretty week as arguments for propaganda go. By this definition, Superman,[2] Star Wars[3] and everything Philip K. Dick[4] ever wrote is also super secret (but right out there in the open) religious propaganda.

Once upon a time, this argument might have applied to the original BSG, which was Mormon mythology dressed up in swank, quilted late seventies space opera. But the new series? Not so much. As Amanda Marcotte pointed out, just because a story derives some of its momentum from popular religious ideas doesn’t automatically mean the creators are promoting that religion. Also, religious pluralism, modern gender roles with women in leadership positions and decidedly secular attitudes towards sex, drinking and drug use don’t exactly scream, “Join The Mormons!” As with any artfully done work of storytelling, it’s not that simple. BSG can’t be broken down into simple declarative statements about its morals and message. It’s a nuanced discussion of various current ideas.

But there is one really obvious way you can tell that BSG isn’t telling it from the mountain: stories told with an ideological agenda are no fun. Whether they are serialized TV dramas, movies, comics or novels, an ideologically driven narrative stands out because the author is selling you a flat pack of easy answers to hard questions. And he (usually it’s a he) is not afraid to beat you silly with the truth stick to make his point[5]. This has some predictable effect on the way the story is told.
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BSG: How The Cylons Avoided Being Assimilated By The Borg

One of the reoccurring problems in serialized storytelling is Villain Decay. Your Big Bad appears, scares the bejesus out of the hero, who just barely survives the first encounter to fight another day for Truth, Justice and another sign post an the way to Earth. But by the sixth or seventh time the villain appears, the hero has figured out their week spots and they are easily defeated. If they keep coming back after that, this big bad scary villain devolves into a joke.

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