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television

RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 2, Episode 1

I have been counting down the days until last night’s RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars Season 2 premiere since the date was announced and I first added it to our family calendar. Yes, the family calendar. Drag Race makes me deliriously happy and the chance to see some of my favorites in action again is almost as good as Christmas.

Anybody out there love this show as much as I do? Tell me what you thought of last night’s episode and – if you have one – which queen who is your favorite.
all-stars-group-smaller
Who am I rooting for? Still undecided. I’m starting the season torn between Detox, Alaska, and Katya. But I’m also partial to Adore and Alyssa Edwards. Every Friday in the near future I plan to share the best and worst looks from the show according to me. Clearly an expert in drag queen fashion, or just fashion in general. *

Put on those lace fronts and tuck your junk, ladies! Up first, the very special entering the workroom on the first day outfits. This is their first moment to make an impression and terrify the competition. Overall I was kind of disappointed. There wasn’t near enough wow.

BEST OPENING LOOKS
Week 1 - Best Opening LooksRoxxxy Andrews and Phi Phi O’hara
Okay, this means a lot coming from me. I wasn’t excited about either of them being on the show again and I’ve pretty much never liked anything Roxxxy has ever worn. Or said. Or done. But man, when she walked in that room. With that hair. And that waist. Yas Gawd! And I love that Phi Phi kept it fun as the Riddler.

WORST OPENING LOOKS
Week 1 - Worst OpeningGinger Minj and Coco Montrese
The bathing suit is blah and the robe she had on over it was absolutely awful. Massive shoulders much, Ginger? Hate it. And Coco isn’t bad, just boring. Very modern housewives out to lunch and ultimately forgettable.

Most disappointing to me? Detox for that horrible wig and Alaska for somehow making a huge trash bag dress seem boring.

And now for the main event, the runway looks. Oh wait, never-mind. We’ve got a talent show instead of a runway this week.

BEST TALENT SHOW LOOKS
Week 1 - Talent BestTatianna, Katya, and Adore Delano
Yes. Yes. Yes. Tatianna ruled that runway. I loved Katya’s lacy take on the traditional gymnastic costume, complete with Olympic-style “Russia” jacket discarded before her routine. The panel ripped Adore apart, but I really liked it. I didn’t catch a full-body screenshot of Adore and couldn’t find one online before it was time for bed, so we’ll focus on the spectacular hair.
Best quote of the night? “Congratulations on your face.” Todrick Hall to Tatianna

Honorable mention: Detox for being almost naked, covered in splattered glow in the dark paint, and wearing a much better wig.

WORST TALENT SHOW LOOKS
Week 1 - Phi Phi TalentPhi Phi O’Hara
The shape of the dress is off and she is missing a waist. It isn’t horrible, but it doesn’t stand up to the other all stars.

*Sarcasm.
All images from Logo.

On My Television

So, did you get a three day weekend? I’m thrilled to say that we did, most of us anyway. The little man was actually out on Friday too (he spent that day with his nana) and, unfortunately, the daughter – who I’m going to start calling *Ding because she will like that – had to go to school on Monday for a make-up snow day. We didn’t use our weekend for anything useful, just laziness and Mexican food.

How about Valentine’s Day? Do anything? We aren’t really big on these kinds of holidays in my house (making it even more fun when we do celebrate it). I don’t want you to buy me a gift since Christmas was less than two months ago and I’m certainly not going to try to go out for dinner when everywhere is packed and food is oddly heart-shaped. I do like giving little token presents though, so the little man got new jumbo crayons and stickers, *Ding got a creepy looking book, and the three of us in the family who don’t eat through a tube in our stomach got giant Reese’s hearts.

The weekend wasn’t total laze though. I read a book – mini review scheduled for March 3rd – and fit in a couple of documentaries. Which brings us to the purpose of this post.

atari-gameoverAtari: Game Over (2014)

This one was good. It told the story of the rise and fall of Atari alongside the story of digging up the infamous E.T. burial ground in a New Mexico landfill. I knew they were going to find the games, but still found myself rooting for the crew doing the digging.

It was a fascinating story and did a good job refuting the myth that E.T. singlehandedly destroyed Atari and is the worst game ever designed. Extremely important to the credibility of the story, the documentary talks with lots of big players in Atari – including the designer of E.T. – and in the modern videogame industry. Recommended even if you aren’t a gamer.

From Microsoft.com: Atari: Game Over is the Xbox Originals documentary that chronicles the fall of the Atari Corporation through the lens of one of the biggest mysteries of all time, dubbed “The Great Video Game Burial of 1983.” As the story goes, the Atari Corporation, faced with an overwhelmingly negative response to “E.T.,” the video game for the Atari 2600, disposed of hundreds of thousands of unsold game cartridges by burying them in the small town of Alamogordo, New Mexico.

PBS BedchamberTales from the Royal Bedchamber (2014)

This one is just an hour-long PBS special, but it was interesting enough to list here, I think. Recommended, if you like this kind of thing.

From PBS.com:
Lucy Worsley gets into bed with past monarchs to uncover the secrets of the royal bedchamber. She reveals that our obsession with royal bedrooms, births and succession is nothing new. In fact, the rise and fall of their magnificent beds reflects the changing fortunes of the monarchy itself. This program will reveal that while today some areas are intensely private spheres, the royal bedchamber was once a very public sphere with huge political consequence. Not only was it the site for royal marriage ceremonies, but royal births were also traditionally observed there by a crowd in order to verify the baby’s gender. As Lucy will reveal, since everyone felt that they had a stake in it, the process of creating royal babies also often took place in a semi-public context. Lucy will look at the creation of private chambers, as a reaction to the overwhelmingly public nature of royal bedrooms. She will also explore the backstairs politics that developed as a result, and the creation of highly influential serving positions such as ‘Necessary Woman’ and ‘Groom of the Stool’.

On My Television

It has been a couple of months since I’ve done a post like this. I have not had any time for documentaries watching lately (plenty of time for trashy television though, always!).

How about you – anything good on your television?

honeyMore Than Honey (2012)

My thoughts: Very interesting. I really learned a whole lot about bees. The part I enjoyed most was the bit about China – the country hardly has any bees left and must do a lot of their own pollination. The footage of people collecting pollen, packaging it up, and selling it to farmers in other areas was fascinating (and scary).

From Wikipedia: More than Honey is a 2012 Swiss documentary film directed by Markus Imhoof about honeybee colonies in California, Switzerland, China and Australia. The film was nominated for an Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film at the 86th Academy Awards.”

KillerKiller Legends (2014)

My thoughts: I was a little hesitant about watching this one. It is by the same guy who did Cropsey and – although that seems to be one people love – I really did not like Cropsey. I would say that Killer Legends suffered from some of the same things Cropsey did (do we really need to be exploring this place in the middle of the night by flashlight?), but I enjoyed it a lot more. Take what I saw with a grain of salt though; this one has a much lower rating than Cropsey on RottenTomatoes.

From IMDB: “Delving into our collective nightmares, this horror-documentary investigates the origins of our most terrifying urban legends and the true stories that may have inspired them.”

BransonWe Always Lie To Strangers (2013)

My thoughts: The Netflix description made it sound like this was going to be about the seedy side of Branson, Missouri, so I knew I had to watch it. We live just a few hours away from Branson, so its brand of wholesome country vacation is a staple of our summer. We really aren’t the wholesome country type, but we are the amusement park and delicious southern food type.

The movie didn’t really turn out how I expected. I expected to see nasty backbiting and dirty business deals, but instead got a movie about regular people. That was the other side of Branson – people are people, they aren’t usually always the wholesome image the project, and [gasp!] some of them are even gay. That being said, great movie. I don’t know if you would enjoy it if you don’t know Branson, but recommend it for anyone who has visited.

From WeAlwaysLieToStrangers.com: “Five years in the making, We Always Lie To Strangers is a story of family, community, music and tradition set against the backdrop of Branson, Missouri, one of the biggest tourist destinations in America. A remote Ozark Mountain town of just 10,500, Branson hosts more than 7.5 million tourists a year and generates nearly 3 billion dollars in annual tourism revenue.”

On My Television

I have been watching a lot of documentaries and television documentaries recently, so instead of doing full reviews I’m just going for a simple yay or nay.

4246215The Devil’s Bible (TV, 2008)
From Netflix: Learn about the Codex Gigas, an alleged cursed text that sprang from a doomed monk’s pact with the Devil.

Would I recommend it? Yes. But be aware, this is about the inspection and study of the book by scholars and archivists; fanciful satanic stuff is mixed in only to keep the television audience from changing the channel.

11181534_800Bridgend (2013)
From IMDB: Since 2007, dozens of teens and young people have been found hanged in Bridgend, South Wales. Most of them knew each other-they were friends, neighbors, even cousins. It’s a mystery that has baffled authorities and town residents. The connections between the victims have led Bridgend residents and the local authorities to believe that something sinister has taken hold in the town. Some believe it’s a suicide pact, others say it’s an Internet cult among friends, others have blamed it on chemical imbalances caused by local cell phone towers. Through incredible, exclusive interviews with family members, friends and local authorities, ‘Bridgend’ explores these deaths and relationships, attempting to put rumors to rest while getting to the cause of these tragic hangings.

Would I recommend it? Yes. Heartbreaking.

1397451800_dfgfdgRussia’s Toughest Prisons (TV, 2011)
From Netflix: Three Russian prisons unlock their doors to an international film crew and reveal what life inside is like for the nation’s most brutal criminals.

Would I recommend it? Yes. I’m always up for a good prison documentary.

livenudeLive Nude Girls Unite! (2000)
From IMDB: Documentary look at the 1996-97 effort of the dancers and support staff at a San Francisco peep show, The Lusty Lady, to unionize. Angered by arbitrary and race-based wage policies, customers’ surreptitious video cameras, and no paid sick days or holidays, the dancers get help from the Service Employees International local and enter protracted bargaining with the union-busting law firm that management hires. We see the women work, sort out their demands, and go through the difficulties of bargaining. The narrator is Julia Query, a dancer and stand-up comedian who is reluctant to tell her mother, a physician who works with prostitutes, that she strips.

Would I recommend it? No. Despite the subject matter, the narrator oozed privilege and was off-putting.

MV5BNDExNzI5NDcxMF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMzg1NTYyMTE@._V1_SY317_CR1,0,214,317_AL_The Final Member (2012)
From IMDB: Thirty miles from the Arctic Circle, in the northern Icelandic town of Husavik, stands the Icelandic Phallological Museum – the world’s only Penis museum. Over 40 years, the founder and curator has collected every specimen from every mammal except for one elusive penis needed to complete his collection: The Human Specimen. The film follows the curator’s incredible, sublimely comic, often shocking quest to complete his eccentric collection, and the two intrepid men who have raised their hands to be the first human donor.

Would I recommend it? Yes. It was quite enjoyable and, as an archivist, I could really understand his complications in dealing with over-zealous would-be donors.

519RnvFftKL._SY300_NOVA: Secrets of the Viking Sword (TV)
From Netflix: The most formidable Viking weapon was an Ulfberht sword. But details of their creation and their maker remained secret for more than 1,000 years.

Would I recommend it? Yes. In addition to the history, a modern craftsman replicates the sword.

superheroes-a-never-ending-battleSuperheros: A Never-Ending Battle (TV mini-series, 2013)
From PBS via IMDB: Examines the dawn of the comic book genre and its powerful legacy, as well as the evolution of the characters who leapt from the pages over the last 75 years and their ongoing worldwide cultural impact. It chronicles how these disposable diversions were subject to intense government scrutiny for their influence on American children and how they were created in large part by the children of immigrants whose fierce loyalty to a new homeland laid the foundation for a multi-billion-dollar industry that is an influential part of our national identity.

Would I recommend it? Yes.

Betty-Page-Reveals-All-posterBettie Page Reveals All (2012)
From IMDB: The world’s greatest pinup model and cult icon, Bettie Page, recounts the true story of how her free expression overcame government witch-hunts to help launch America’s sexual revolution.

Would I recommend it? Yes. I liked that Bettie herself was narrator most of the time (from an oral history interview, by the sounds of it).

-A_Brony_Tale-_Official_PosterA Brony Tale (2014)
From IMDB: Vancouver-based voice artist Ashleigh Ball has been the voice of numerous characters in classic cartoons such as Care Bears, Strawberry Shortcake, Cinderella and more. When Ashleigh was hired to voice Apple Jack and Rainbow Dash for Hasbro’s fourth series to use the My Little Pony name – My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic – she had no idea she would become an Internet phenomenon and major celebrity to a worldwide fan-base of grownups. Bronies are united by their belief in the show’s philosophy. This documentary gives an inside view of the Pony fan-world, and an intimate look at the courage it takes to just be yourself…even when that means liking a little girls’ cartoon.

Would I recommend it? No. There was too much “should we be scared of these grown men.” I suggest Bronies (2013) instead; it is excellent.

posterskcultureSerial Killer Culture (2014)
From IMDB: Serial Killer Culture examines the reasons why artists and collectors are fascinated by serial killers.

Would I recommend it: Eh, it was okay. I’m a firm maybe.

On My Television, Holiday Edition

MV5BMTQ3NTYyNTk0OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjk5Mzc4MDE@._V1_SX214_AL_I Am Santa Claus (2014)

From IMDB: “We have documented an entire year in the lives of five real-bearded professional Santa Clauses to find out what the rest of the year is like for a man who perpetually looks like Jolly Saint Nick. In the process, they are shown for who they actually are, flawed, flesh and blood men who feel an overbearing responsibility to protect the integrity of the spotless, untarnished reputation of the ‘Red Suit.’ I Am Santa Claus is a documentary that poses a question about a ubiquitous holiday figure that few parents ever ask themselves; ‘Whose lap is my child sitting on?'”

My Thoughts: I stumbled onto this one in the Netflix new releases and just loved it. Loved it! This was a behind the scenes look into the world of a professional Santa and I was really surprised. Who knew there are Santa agents and men traveling all over the country depending on their contract? In addition to the regular working Santas, the movie follows wrestler Mick Foley as he prepares to don the red suit for the first time. And I have to admit – that guy made a damn good Santa. My favorite Santa was Jim, the big ‘ole bear Santa with rainbow suspenders under his costume. He seemed like a lovely person.

Highly recommended! For any time of year, really.

Friday Favorites: Are You Being Served?

Are You Being Served? is one of my go-to shows; one of the shows I put on the television when I’m just looking to zone out for a bit, need a good laugh, or want some background noise.

I’m happy to watch any episode, but I do have a few favorites that I consider classics. [I borrowed the episode descriptions from Wikipedia. Too lazy to write my own, I guess.]

1. “The Erotic Dreams of Mrs. Slocombe”
Mrs. Slocombe is becoming increasingly fond of Mr. Humphries, and showers him with presents. The obsession soon drives her to alcoholism, and it is decided that to cure her Mr. Humphries must show her attention when they attend the ballet.

2. “The Clock”
As Mr. Grainger celebrates his 65th birthday, all the staff wonders whether he’ll get the traditional cuckoo clock that means he is being retired. In the evening, the staff and Mrs. Grainger have dinner and Mr. Rumbold tells Captain Peacock that Grainger is being given the cuckoo clock. However, Young Mr. Grace makes a late appearance, gives the clock to himself, and gives Mr. Grainger another five years.

3. “The Apartment”
Mrs. Slocombe is rendered temporarily homeless after squatters invade her new flat. After her co-workers fail to provide accommodation, Young Mr. Grace allows her to move into the store’s Furniture Fitting Department. Mrs. Slocombe turns the floor into a cozy home-from-home, but her space is soon invaded when a transport strike forces her co-workers to move in.

4. “A Change is as Good as a Rest”
The floor staff is summoned to the Board Room, and while they wait for Mr. Rumbold and Young Mr. Grace they look in the file on the table that says they are all to be replaced. In protest they decide to resign and Mr. Grainger does so first. However, they are then told that all the staff is merely changing departments for a week. Mr. Grainger asks for his job back, but Mr. Humphries and Mr. Lucas have already been promoted, so he is made Junior Assistant. Later, the staff is moved to the Toy Department for the week and Mr. Rumbold tries to get Mr. Grainger his old job back.

5. “Strong Stuff this Insurance”
The staff gets the opportunity to participate in a lucrative group insurance scheme that will land them all sizable pensions upon retirement. Unfortunately, they must first pass through a physical examination. In an effort to shape up without spending too much money, Mr. Humphries enlists his former ballet instructor. After their physicals, they retreat to Young Mr. Grace’s office to learn the results, and what they hear shocks them.

Enjoy!

Saturday Review: Netflix vs. Amazon Prime

You learned last week that we don’t have cable or satellite and get most of our television and movies from streaming services. Today, I’m going to give you our run-down on two of the most popular services – Netflix and Amazon Prime. We have both.

Let the battle begin!

boxe

First up, Netflix.

Cost: $8.99 per month/$107.88 per year

What you get: 10,000+ titles with unlimited streaming; shows from AMC and the Discovery Channel; access to original series; access on iOS devices, Android devices, major game consoles, FireTV, Roku, Smart TVs, Chromecast, Apple TV

Awesomeness: Netflix original series are generally excellent and – naturally – not available elsewhere. In a survey done by Lifehacker in March, Netflix had twice as many of the 250 most popular television shows. You have the ability to add the classic DVD service to your subscription to open up your choices even more.

Drawbacks: Netflix giveth and Netflix taketh away. New movies and shows are added as content contracts are negotiated and tastes change, but this means things are removed too. Your favorite movie might disappear. Additionally, there is usually a pretty significant lag time before new seasons of television shows are available.

Now, Amazon Prime.

Cost: $99 per year

What you get: 40,000+ titles, some with unlimited streaming, some individually priced; shows from HBO, MTV, Nickelodeon, and Comedy Central; access on iOS devices, Kindle Fire, major game consoles, FireTV, Roku, Smart TVs

Awesomeness: Free two-day shipping comes with the Prime subscription; this applies to a huge amount of products available on Amazon. Kindle eBook lending and music streaming too! Want to watch movies and shows not available in the regular streaming? You can buy them or – in some cases – rent them. Your purchases are easily accessed in your library.

Drawbacks: The shows you can purchase by episode aren’t cheap. If you are trying to keep up with the current season of a show, expect to shell out $2-$3 per episode. Once you start doing this with a lot of shows, you reach a cost point where you are better off going back to a regular television provider.

Verdict: Well, there isn’t really a clear winner. It is all about finding the service that works best with your budget, watching habits, and taste. Personally, our household enjoys having both.

On My Television

of dolls and murder dioramaOf Dolls and Murder (2012)

From IMDB.com: “Of Dolls and Murder explores a haunting collection of dollhouse crime scenes and our universal fascination with murder. From CSI and real-life forensics, to the Body Farm and a crime fighting granny, John Waters narrates the tiny world of big time murder.”

My thoughts: This was absolutely excellent. It tells the story of Frances Glessner Lee creating her tiny “nutshells”- small dollhouse representations of crime scenes down to the blood spatter. She used these to help train police officers on the art of crime scene investigation. Kind of a pre-CSI. Baltimore still uses the nutshells in a training class today. Super neat.

Warning!: They don’t tell you the solutions to the crimes. No one ever finds out how the crimes were handled and ultimately solved (if they answers were common knowledge, the dollhouse crime scenes would lose their use as a teaching tool).

MV5BMTY4NDY4MDEyNF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMjcyOTkxMw@@._V1_SY317_CR6,0,214,317_AL_Beautiful Darling (2010)

From IMDB.com: “Candy Darling was a fixture in the New York Off-Broadway scene in the 60s, in Warhol films such as Women in Revolt and Flesh, and became a prominent personality in Warhol’s circles, influencing such noted contemporary artists as Madonna, David Bowie and Lou Reed. This documentary will use a series of interviews, archival footage, and images from Candy’s home in Massapequa, NY. Archival footage includes rare 25 year old interviews conducted by Jeremiah Newton with members of Warhol’s Factory and Tennessee Williams. The film features interviews with colleagues, contemporaries and friends of Candy.”

My thoughts: Pretty good. Pretty sad. I didn’t walk away with any real feelings one way or the other about this one, but it was a good watch.

MV5BMTc5MjU2NTEwNV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzU0NjQ2MQ@@._V1_SY658_SX450_AL_Miss Gulag (2007)

From IMDB.com: “Through the prism of a beauty pageant staged by female inmates of a Siberian prison camp emerges a complex narrative of the lives of the first generation of women to come of age in Post-Soviet Russia. Miss GULAG explores the individual destinies of three women: Yulia, Tatiana, and Natasha, all bound together by long prison sentences and circumstances that have made them the vigilantes of their own destinies. For these women, undoubtedly, life is harsh under the constant surveillance of UF-91/9, but it is no less so on the outside. Today they, their families, and loved ones are sustained by hope for a better life upon release. This is a story of survival told from both sides of the fence.”

My thoughts: When this came up in my Netflix suggestions, I recognized this beauty pageant immediately. Another good one that I don’t really have strong feelings about one way or the other.

Special Tacky Husband Saturday Review: The Roku 3

Recently, we decided to cut the cord. DirecTV, that is, and moved to an internet only household. For a tech geek, like me, this was not a problem. I would be happy with a computer plugged into the TV and a web-browser . . . but not everyone wants to use a mouse and keyboard to control their living room television. More importantly, my wife and kids don’t want to use a mouse and keyboard to control their living room television.

Once we cut the cord, I went a little crazy with testing different options. We’ve tried using the XBOX 360, Apple TV, Playstation 4, Google Chromecast, Amazon Fire TV, and even a Windows 7 desktop computer (first running Windows 7 alone, then Windows Media Center, and lastly XBMC). While they all had their advantages and disadvantages, we’ve finally settled on the Roku 3.

We had previously used a 2nd Generation Roku HD in our bedroom rather than pay the extra fees for additional DirecTV boxes and installation fees, so we were familiar with the brand and comfortable with its interface and with the release of the Roku 3, I figured it was a good solution.

With the backstory done, let’s get rolling . . .B00BGGDVOO-roku3_amazona_page_cnet._V363540374_

The Basic Facts:
The Roku 3 is a small black box, measuring 3.5” x 3.5” x 1” and weighs only 5 ounces. It has rounded curves and a single white LED light on the front that glows when the system is on. The Roku 3 only uses HDMI for video (720p or 1080p) and audio (5.1 and 7.1 surround pass through). This model does NOT use any analog connections, so it will only work with an HDTV. There are additional models that offer other connection options. Also on the back is a port for the power connector, an Ethernet port for wired internet access, USB slot for (limited) local video and audio playback, and a small slot for a MicroSD card used primarily to download games.

How it Works:
The Roku 3 uses apps, called “channels”, to deliver content to you. These channels vary from the well known options like Netflix, Amazon, and Pandora to the unknown, random, and sometimes odd (like Fydo, which provides free full length films based on popular fan fiction. Any Harry / Malfoy shippers reading this? – http://www.roku.com/channels/#!details/24997/f-y-d-o). Services like Netflix, Amazon, and HBO Go require a separate subscription to use. There are free options for Roku, but in practice the content will vary wildly from neat niche channels to insanely bad.

The Roku requires an internet connection. To achieve this, the Roku has built in WiFi (802.11 a/b/g/n compatible) and also an ethernet port to plug directly into your home network. (I personally use and recommend using Ethernet to connect to your home network. In use, I’ve found that video quality over WiFi can drop and become laggy due to the nature of WiFi and video streaming.)

What We Like:

The Remote!
The remote that comes with this thing is awesome. It’s small, measuring about 4 inches with a rounded bottom and smooth plastic feel. The buttons include an D-pad for selecting things, a Home and Back button, and an A and B button meant for games (like the original Nintendo controller). This remote uses a local WiFi connection between the Roku and itself to connect. What this means for you is you don’t have to point the remote at the box for it to work. (The Roku also supports standard IR, so your universal remote will work with it.) On the side of the remote is a headphone jack and volume rocker control. If you’re watching and don’t want to disturb your spouse or wake the kids, you can plug your headphones into the remote and crank it up.

The interface!
The interface of the Roku 3 itself is very speedy and responsive. There’s a nice menu on the left side to access your channels, movie and TV rentals (provided by Roku), news, and options. Selecting one takes you to a list of options on the right side. The Channels appear as icons.

PLEX!
One of the most common questions I’ve gotten from other nerdy friends is if the Roku can play your personal movies, tv, and music. Plex is a media center application. First you install an application on the computer your media is stored on and tell it where your media lives. It scans it, downloads the metadata (posters, descriptions, etc.), and it’s done. Next, you install the Plex channel on the Roku and it will find your Plex server giving you access to your media on your TV without a huge desktop. As a bonus, Plex works on LOTS of other systems including your tablet and smartphone.

Search!
Search on the Roku searches all of the channels you have. Looking to watch Braveheart? Search for it and the Roku will show you where you can watch it. This is really cool and rare in the media center world.

The little things . . .
The box is nice looking. It have rounded sides and is small. Since the remote uses wireless to connect, you can hide it in your entertainment center or behind the TV if you don’t like it.

Batteries last a long time. We made our purchase before Christmas last year and have not yet had to replace the batteries in the remote. It’s a small thing, but it counts.

The Roku 3 is weighted on the bottom. With the Roku 2, our HDMI cable would pull the box off of the desk it was placed on as it weighed more than the box itself. With this model, it feels sturdy on the top of the entertainment center.

What We Don’t Like:

Channels Interface
The channels, much like apps on your smartphone, differ wildly in quality. Some are top-notch like Netflix where the interface is smooth and clean and nice. Others are just ugly and difficult to navigate. Since the channels differ, the controls for the channels differ also. Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon all work differently, sort their content differently, etc. This is not a Roku problem since they don’t control the channels, but it’s an issue either way.

Automatic Upgrades
Automatic Upgrades is turned on by default. If you’re unaware of this, it’s entirely likely that you’ll walk in and find a new interface on your favorite app.

“Free” Channels
The channels that don’t require a subscription are crappy. For the good stuff, you’ll have to opt into a subscription (or multiple). This is the case for Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO Go, and more. While these fees typically aren’t expensive, they do add up and quickly.

Final Thoughts:
The Roku is a great device. You will need a good internet connection to make it work properly and a subscription to a service or two to make it worthwhile. In my opinion, compared to the other devices I’ve used, the Roku is the easiest and best desktop streaming box available. Highly recommended.

On My Television

voiceI Know That Voice (2013)

From Wikipedia:I Know That Voice is a documentary about voice acting . . . It is narrated by John DiMaggio,[1] the voice of Bender on Futurama, and stars John DiMaggio and many other voice actors, including Billy West, Tara Strong, Tom Kenny, Rachael MacFarlane, and Mark Hamill.”

My thoughts: Super good! I loved hearing from all of the animation voices I know from over the years. I especially enjoyed hearing all of the difficult work that went into each cartoon or film and about the difficulty of recording for video games. I recommend this for sure!

E-mail Order BrideNGC-US: Ep. Code 3979Email Order Brides (National Geographic)

From National Geographic: “Email Order Brides takes viewers inside the emotional and bizarre subculture of arranged marriages between American men and Russian women. This program follows newlyweds Dave and Anna, as the husband and mail order wife team attempt to make this unconventional form of match making mainstream. Their family business takes American men on a heart pounding and sometimes incredibly awkward journey to find true love in the former Soviet Block. With unprecedented access inside this taboo world, viewers will experience the emotional and bizarre subculture of arranged marriages between American men and Russian women.”

My thoughts: Um. . . this was bizarre. I nearly turned it off when the man running the U.S. side of the agency talked about his Russian wife not being 50 pounds overweight like an American woman her age. He was – of course – probably 50 pounds overweight himself. With the exception of one, the men were pretty off-putting (whether down right misogynistic or just awkward). On top of that, it just wasn’t very good. So, pass on this one.

junkieTV Junkie (2006)

From IMBD: “Rick Kirkham was a successful TV reporter, and could have been a major U.S. television profile if it hadn’t been for his massive drug and alcohol abuse. Kirkham filmed his life every day with a video camera from the age of 14 years. On the basis of his video material the story of his life is told in this documentary.”

My thoughts: This was painfully raw and at times difficult to watch. If you want to see a family living the so-called “American Dream” while dealing with drug addiction, this is the film to watch. Kirkham was a functional drug addict for much as the film and things slowly began to unravel and then plunge downward. It stayed with you for the rest of the evening – as a good documentary should. Highly recommended!