If you haven’t guessed from previous blog posts, I’m a big fan of stories. I love to read, write, watch TV, watch movies, and just enjoy stories in general.
In 2020, the family and I watched 73 movies. I had so many movies that I had to do two reviews a week for a while and we did series as one post.
This year is completely different. I’m watching one movie a week and it’s often because I need a review for that weekend.
On the flip side, last year, we barely watched any television other than HGTV and Food network shows, DC’s Stargirl, Just Add Magic, and a few Disney shows. To some that would seem like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to this year. We’re still watching the HGTV and Food Network shows, but have added a binge of Leverage, Superman and Lois, Kung Fu, Bureau of Magical Things, WandaVision, Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and High School Musical The Musical The Series. We’ll be adding more as stuff ends and new things start.
It’s interesting to me that we’ve transitioned from movies to TV. Was it that there was nothing to watch? or did our needs change?
I think that for the better part of 2020, we felt like we were in a holding pattern, waiting to see what would happen. This led us to not wanting to invest time in something we might not be able to finish. So we binged a bunch of movies. With cinemas still closed but being used to the routine, we’ve started expanding our tastes to things that we don’t have to learn new characters every couple of days.
Basically we went from too stressed to commit to a TV series to just stressed enough that we don’t want to deal with new characters every few days.
The idea of watching a movie and learning the stories and personalities of the characters sounds exhausting when I could just watch a couple of episodes of Leverage, where I know the characters and can concentrate on the fun of the story.
Since I first moved out on my own I have had a form of cable tv. That’s roughtly 15 years now. I did the Canadian Big 3 Dance every couple of years. (That’s where you call and complain to get a better deal, threaten to leave, cancel, and finally get another okay deal.)
In February this year, our TV, Internet, and home phone went from $98 a month to $195. I started the dance, but after 5 phone calls, I got frustrated. There had to be a better way. Right?
So I did a bunch of research, found alternatives and told Rogers/Bell/Telus that I didn’t need them.
We cancelled this and now just use our cellphones like normal Millennials.
Unfortunately, I was stuck staying with Bell for the next 2 years with our cells. We’ll see what happens in 2021.
Total monthly cost: $0
It feels like everyone and their elderly relatives is selling internet plans. From Koodo, to Cogeco, and Teksavvy.
I’d heard good things about Teksavvy, but they are built like the big three and frankly I’m sick of it all.
So I found and subscribed to Start.ca. They have no deals, not packages, no bullshit. For $60 a month we have 100mbs downloads and that’s great for us. Their customer service is quite possibly the fastest and the nicest I’ve ever dealt with.
Total monthly cost: $60
This was the part that worried me the most. I love television. I watch a lot of it. We decided to go with a 2 pronged alternative. Streaming and Over the Air.
For hardware we settled on an Nvidia Shield TV. It is fantastic. Runs extremely well and is officially updated with Google TV. My second option would have been a Roku.
The Shield also has apps for everything we wanted. You can get newer ones for $199-300. We bought ours used for $200 on Amazon.
This is a tricky one because there are a lot of streaming services and you can easily find yourself paying too much.
We went with a lot more than we should but after a year we’ll decide what we use and what to get rid of. We’re saving some money by sharing the accounts with family.
Crave: 8.32 a month (99.90 a year)
Netflix: 5.66 a month (16.99 shared)
Disney+: 2.75 a month (89 a year shared)
CBC Gem: Free
Hoopla: Free attached to your library card
Amazon Prime: 6.66 a month (80 a year)
We used Prime for our diaper subscription where it saves us almost 10 a month in diaper costs so we’d have it no matter what.
Total monthly cost: $24.39
Over the Air
Depending on where you live, you can get dozens of channels in HD over the air. You just need an antenna. Most TVs have tuners in them.
I wanted to go one step further. We have 2 kids and watching live tv is awesome but not easy. We needed a video recorder.
I discovered Tablo makes some impressive video recorders for over the air. We bought a refurbished one and it cost us $90. Now the thing about this and all other OTA recorders is that they make their money by selling you a subscription to their TV guide. You can have 1 day free but it’s 69.90 a year for a full guide with 14 days of data.
The great thing about this is that you don’t hook it up to your TV; instead you connect through an app and watch from there. You can have multiple people watching TV or recordings and even enable watching away from home.
The company is based in Ottawa which is great.
Quick story… My daughter accidentally put a blanket on the first one and it died a horrible heat death. The company replaced it and I had a great experience with the customer support.
Antenna and installation
I bought a cheap, well reviewed antenna for $50 on sale. It’s an outdoor antenna. At first we got 8 channels with it mounted in our garage. I was greedy and wanted more.
I contacted Pinnacle Engineering Services and Doug patiently walked me through all my questions. In the end, the antenna was mounted on the roof and cost us $285 for installation.
Doug installed everything and was a really nice guy. Highly recommend their services.
I now get 14 crystal clear HD channels. I’m told if you’re closer to the US you can get some of their networks too.
We now have a plethora of streaming and can watch almost any network TV show and it costs us roughly $90 a month ($24 for streaming, $6 for Tablo guide, and $60 for internet.)
I do miss HGTV, the Food network, and watching the Weather Network live but that’s pretty small. I’ve also considered getting Stack TV ($12.99) through prime that gives access to Showcase, HGTV, Food, History, and a few other networks.
Now the monthly cost is darn great, but there were a lot of start up costs for a total of $624 ($200 for Shield, $50 for Antenna, $89 for Tablo, and $285 for installation.)
The way I look at it, we’re saving $50-$100 dollars a month, so the $624 will be worth it in within a year.
If you have any questions feel free to ask in the comments.
Top 10 Statements Guaranteed to Make Éric Rant (and Angry) Part 2
5. Fad Science
Superfoods, toxins, free radicals, coffee enemas, diets based off of the food cavemen ate, and many more topics are junk/fad science. I’m not talking traditional medicines or all-natural remedies.
When people start trusting celebrities, fake doctors, and random articles over what their doctors say, we end up with people who truly believe that a fruit smoothie will remove harmful substances from their bodies or that pomegranates cure cancer.
Let’s just say I believe that subjects like proper body part names, consent, bullying, and LGBTQIA2S+ belong in a well-rounded education. Knowledge and discourse are the way to acceptance and understanding.
3. Video Games, Movies, and Television Create Violent People
Every once in a while a study by a special interest group will pop up saying that TV, movies, and video games cause violence.
It comes up every time someone sees the uptick in school shootings in the states or perceives the violence around us.
As I said in point 9, the world is actually a better place. We are exposed to more violence but that’s because we’re not sitting by and ignoring the violence around us. Racial violence, violence against LGBTQIA2S+, and religious violence are finally being exposed (mostly) and that makes the world look bleak, but we can’t fix a problem if we don’t know it exists.
Video games can cause addictions but so can books and collecting stuff. (Hey, hey… I don’t have a problem with collecting books.) Violent video games are a way that many people use to alleviate the anger and frustration that bombards our near powerless daily lives.
With the exception of a statistically minor portion of the population, the only thing vaccines cause are adults. In point 9 the graphic shows that child mortality has been steadily dropping since the 1900s. One of the major reasons for this is vaccines. You don’t have to worry about your child dying of smallpox or being crippled by polio.
Despite what some idiotic celebrities will tell you, the harm caused by not vaccinating is immense.
1. [Insert Person] Doesn’t Deserve the Same Rights
All people should be treated equitably no matter their sexual identity, sexual orientation, skin colour, culture, country, religion, physical health, metal health, or intelligence.
It’s easy to be afraid of people you don’t know anything about. Fear of the other is a natural human reaction. It’s not logical or useful however. We need to accept others as they are and as they tell us they want to be treated. If someone from a minority tells you they’re not comfortable or don’t like your behaviour, listen to them.
Everyone deserves to live a life that is free from fear and hate.
Stop thinking of political correctness and start thinking of human decency and treating people with respect.
I love mystery books, movies, and television shows. I also enjoy a good old procedural. Recently a network show came across my radar that I hadn’t heard about. Take Two is a buddy cop show by Andrew W. Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller, the former creator and executive producer of Castle respectively.
This show owes a lot to Castle and doesn’t even try to hide it, including hiring some of the cast.
If you liked Castle for it’s wittiness and the fact that it never took itself seriously, you’ll love this show. If you liked it because of the charisma of Nathan Fillion, you’ll get almost as much spread between the cast.
I’m enjoying the fact that this show revels in taking its mysteries into weird and unexpected directions.
Have a look at one of my favourite episodes so far:
What do you think? Will this fill the Castle-sized shape in your heart?
It could mean a lot of things but mostly it means that they believe that it won’t appeal to their core demographic. Which is apparently mostly men between the age of 18 and 49. Which is the demographic that most networks seem to be targeting.
That’s why you get a kickass character like Detective Kate Beckett (Castle) and Doctor Constance Brennan (Bones), but the studio insists that they work with a male lead. Sometimes it works, and sometimes the male is just boring like Body of Proof where the male cops were about as interesting as the corpses. (Mostly less.)
Rarely do you get a mystery show where you have a female lead that isn’t saddled with a male partner to appeal to the “male demographic”. Other than Veronica Mars and Murder She Wrote, the only one I can think of is Rizzoli & Isles.
Does Gender Matter?
From a story perspective; no. You can tell a fantastic story with a male or a female lead.
From a demographics perspective; I don’t know. I’m not your typical man and I can’t speak for all men. I enjoy female leads, and I think a smart intelligent character is awesome. Female led shows have done well in the past; Veronica Mars, Buffy, Xena, Murder She Wrote, Star Trek Voyager, etc.
I have gotten more than one funny look when I’ve mentioned my love for Gilmore Girls or Disney Princess movies, so the stereotype is there.
The one place that it absolutely matters is in representation. I can turn on the tv and press any combination of buttons and there’s a huge chance that I’ll end up on a show with a main character that looks like me. (White male, 18-49) There are good guys that look like me, bad guys, smart, dumb, etc. etc. etc.
We don’t have the same for women. It’s improving but it’s not there yet.
And that’s not mentioning other gender identities, sexual preferences, cultures, ethnicities, etc.
What Can We Do?
Find and Enjoy the #TooFemale shows out there with well written female leads. Share your love on social media, buy the merchandise, go see the movies.
My experience is limited, but the following TV shows have female leads that kick ass (figuratively and literally) and are still on the air. Check them out, and if you love them let the world know:
The Code (working title) starring Jason Priestley – who also serves as an Executive Producer – as an ex-pro hockey player who uses his celebrity status and reputation as an enforcer on the ice in his new gig as a crime-solving PI.
Some days require more coffee than others. Feel free to quote me on that.
A few weeks ago my brother recommended that I check out The Quest. I wasn’t all that interested at first but then I watched an episode.
Let’s just say that so far I’m loving it!
For those that don’t know, it’s a reality show with a scripted storyline, set in a fantasy world. The major reason I didn’t want to see it was my lack of faith in reality TV. I expected it to be filled with bad versions of fantasy with hammy actors and cut throat pretty people as contestants.
I was wrong. It seems everyone involved loves Fantasy and they’ve gone to great depths to make it awesome. The actors are great, the contestants are fantasy geeks.
It does like to spend time on drama and some of the challenges feel a little low budget but it’s a lot of fun.
I particularly like the Hag who lives in the woods. She really got into it.
Watch it on ABC in the US or CityTv in Canada.
I have a bad habit of being inspired by things that I like. The Quest isn’t an exception.
While I watched, I wondered what if the cameras were hidden and the contestants started to wonder if it was real or not. Imagine the emotional effect of the end of second act realization that all the “Banished” characters were killed.
Think what it would mean for the characters who don’t understand it isn’t a game.
I really like this idea for a novel and I’ve even written a proof of concept for one of the characters. I was expecting it to be 500 words but it quickly ballooned to 2000.
I’ll post it on Thursday.
ALS Ice Bucket Challenge
I was challenged and then challenged my wife.
For those of you who live under a rock, the challenge is to bring awareness about ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease or Charcot Disease).
It’s a terrifying degenerative disease that affects muscles. From what I understand your muscles slowly atrophy. It’s paralysing, painful, and those affected have a short life expectancy.
The challenge says that if you can, you should donate $10 to the cause if you’ve dumped a bucket of ice water on your head and $100 if you didn’t.
My video and my wife’s video.
Last estimates see the challenge having raised over 80 million dollars.
Some people are saying that the success of the campaign has been stopping people from donating to other causes. I don’t want to be the reason that other causes suffer, so I’m encouraging those that can afford to donate to multiple charities at the same time.
I donated to the Canadian Diabetes Association in memory of my Mother who died of complications related to diabetes in 2008. I also donated to the Canadian Cancer Society in memory of my Father who died of brain cancer in 2010.