An Open Letter To Netflix

Dearest Netflix,

What the fuck.

No, seriously. What the fuck is going on with you? Why is it that you don’t seem to fucking function anymore? Not even in the “I hate the way you tried to ‘streamline’ your shit” kind of way, either. But in the “I don’t think your employees are actually doing their jobs” kind of way.

I guess it started a while ago, maybe even before you decided to start charging more for shit. Splitting up the DVD and Instant services was just an asshole move. But things were rocky before then, weren’t they?

You started suggesting things that you thought I might like that were NOTHING like the movies and shows I had just watched or were in my history. Okay, I can see that I suppose. Maybe there’s something in this romance movie I might like even though 70% of what I watch is drama or horror, and 20% of it is comedy. Maybe somebody dies, I don’t know.

From there it went to what you were comparing with what. In your “More Like ___” sections, I started to find more and more things that were NOT alike at all. Not in any way. That got paired up with the fact that you started grouping things wrong. Care Bears in science fiction? That’s not how that works.

Then it was like a trainwreck happening, one that’s still happening. One that I just don’t even try to understand anymore.

– You say there are new episodes in a series when there aren’t any.

– You list things on the New Releases tab when they’ve been out for four or five years. If you just got it, and are just now able to let us see it on Instant, it should go under Just Added.

– There is no longer any way to search by actor if you’re not online doing it. It just tells you that shit doesn’t even exist. I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure that Marilyn Monroe did a couple of movies and that you’ve got them all stashed somewhere. The fact that I have to search each one by title instead of being able to bring them up by her name? What the hell?

– Your copy is wrong. More often than I would like, I find myself watching something because of the description I read. And hating it. Or, on the flip side, not watching it because it sounds like something I would loathe, and then finding out later that I would have loved it.

– Your employees aren’t paying attention to what they’re doing. Did you know that for a really long time after you added Life to Instant that you had Charlie Crews’ name completely wrong? Hm? You did. Shouldn’t have happened.

– Episodes for shows are actually skipped over during regular play. When I watched Supernatural, it skipped over half of a season when I was hitting “play next episode”. When I watched Ugly Betty, the first few episodes of the first season had the wrong information tied to them, and weren’t in order. A couple might have even been missing, but since I don’t know the series, I couldn’t say. But it was all very confusing.

– Recently Watched randomly just doesn’t show up at all. Doesn’t seem to be any reason for it. I’ll just turn on my 360, fire up Netflix, wait to see my Recently Watched so I can easily pick up where I left off, and … it’s not there. The whole goddamned field is just gone.

Now let’s add into the things I’ve spoken of before, shall we? I’ll just copy and paste it to make things easier for both of us.

“To make it worse, Netflix also changed their dashboard to coincide with the Xbox change. And the Netflix dashboard is so goddamned useless sometimes that I want to throw things. They show you movies you might like to see during the last bits of movie you’re watching (some movies have stuff going on during or after the credits, so I’m not particularly happy that they reduce the screen) but they don’t give you a description of the movie, you have to seek it out after to see what it’s about. There’s no way to rate a movie without playing it. There’s no longer any way to mark that you’re not even interested in the movie anymore, so stuff you really don’t want to keep seeing pop up will, unless you go to the site. For tv shows, you can’t go in and pick an episode unless, again, you start playing the series. So if you haven’t watched in a while and want to see if the “new episodes” they’ve added are really and truly new, you have to start playing, then go to the episodes list. This is completely stupid.”

That’s just something I tacked onto a rant about the 360 dashboard. I think it’s good here, too. Since it’s about you. And the things you’re slacking on. Or forgetting. Or just don’t care about anymore.

The money I shell out to you for this service might not mean much to you. But it means a lot to me. I’m on a really strict budget. Netflix is one of the things that is completely unnecessary to life that I allow myself. A fun little thing that I enjoy having quite a bit.

It might not matter to you that all this shit is broken, but it matters to me, because of this money I hand to you every month. I know it matters to other people as well. Maybe they don’t use Instant as much as I do. Maybe that 10 bucks isn’t a really big deal to them. But it still matters. You know why?

BECAUSE WE PAY YOU FOR THIS SERVICE.

It’s not something that you give us for free. It’s not an add on to DVDs like it used to be. It’s a stand alone service that shouldn’t be as fucked up as it is. It should work. It should be functional. It should be valid. It should be fun, and not frustrating.

I’m not going to threaten to not use your service, because that’s unrealistic at this point. But I am going to ask you to fix your shit, because I’m tired of it, and there’s a good number of people I know who are also tired of it. It should be seen as a courtesy to us, your paying customers.

To sum up?
Get your shit together, Netflix.

-Mila.

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Good VS Evil

Today, kids, we talk about games with morality engines. Good VS Evil. The right thing VS being a complete dick. They’ve become quite popular in games, and since their early days, I’ve been very fond of them. Putting in my hands the option to be a good guy or a bad guy, a sinner or a saint, that’s my kind of thing. I get really excited about games that have this particular kind of structure. The more involved it is, the happier I am.

It’s just that, well, I tend to play instinctively. Which means, and here’s something that might just shock you, 99.9% of the time, my character is the bad guy the first go ’round. Even if it just ends up that the morality engine is so involved that I’ve managed to make choices that place me more along the lines of Chaotic Neutral (yeah, I’m that much of a prick), I’m certainly not the Knight In Shining Armor. I’m no Hero.

It kind of surprised me to learn that most of my friends are. Not even just friends, but people I encounter randomly and discuss games with. We that play our characters wickedly because it comes naturally – and it’s way more fun – we are a very small percentage of the world. Very. Fucking. Small.

Most players will go through their first plays of these games with golden hearts and halos that (somebody like me would shove up their asses given the chance) gleam with all the glory of the righteous. They do the noble things, the brave things, sacrificing themselves and/or their loved ones so that it might save an entire race of beings (barf). When the game is complete, then, and only then, will they traipse through the world again, this time choosing the dark side. The majority of players like this will not find these actions easy. You will see them struggle with themselves, even though they’ve made the decision to be bad. Oh, WHY is it that you people cannot see how glorious it is to walk on the other side of the tracks?

There are even some players, a fairly good fraction of those that are good at heart, who cannot – no matter what – bring themselves to play a bad guy. And some that, beyond that, can’t even be mildly morally questionable.

Okay, I will admit. I usually save the “white hat” run through for the very last. I don’t generally have as much fun being nice. I’m not into all that … self sacrifice and putting the good of the whole before the good of myself. I like being reprehensible. I like how the Dark Side alters the way one looks when one uses it too much (KOTOR). It makes me giddy to see that I’ve screwed somebody else over so that I can have an easier life.

But it’s not impossible for me to play through as a good guy. I do it. I do it to see different endings, to see how differently characters will react when you’re not threatening to burn down their village. I do it to see the changes and the subtleties. It’s still fun, just not as much fun. So why can’t those do-gooders see my side of it? Why can’t they just admit that for a little while, it’s kind of interesting and entertaining to be evil? Hm? I think it’s a little biased, really. I can play how you play, but you don’t even want to try it my way?

This is starting to sound a little … naughty, isn’t it.

Some people are surprised when they discover the nature of my gaming. Most, however, not so much. Once you get to know me, you really can’t ignore the fact that it bleeds over into real life. I am who I am. I make it no secret. I don’t lie about it. I laugh when people get hurt. I enjoy tasteless jokes. So my friends? Really not startled when they see my achievements always pop up with the “you won the game as a complete heartless bastard” first. Not surprised when I talk about the dark endings before I talk about the light ones. Not at all taken aback, but highly amused, when I rage quietly about accidentally getting the Light Side ending in Force Unleashed the first time I played it. ACCIDENTALLY GOT IT. SON.OF.A.BITCH. Yes, I’m still angry. I also harbor resentment and grudges, fyi.

All I want you people to do is try to see things my way. That’s all I ask. Is that so much?

Evil. Try it. You might like it.

Bioshock (finished)

I am proud to say that shortly before I made my massive cross country move, I managed to finish BioShock. Not that it took a lot of effort. As it goes with games that you’ve fallen in love with, the time slips by unnoticed, you’re startled and confused when you see the sun coming around your curtains or peeking in through the little window in the kitchen door. Really, if I’d only had one day to go through this whole game, I would have done it. Even if it meant driving 26 hours with blurry eyes and the inability to think about anything but Little Sisters and if I should Harvest them.

Overall, a very enjoyable game. Very enjoyable. I will be playing this game again, there is no doubt about that.

Despite my small inability to save the Little Sisters, as I spoke about in a previous post, I did not regret the choices I made or the actions I took. I can play it again and try to save them this time, instead of saving one and then harvesting the next three on reflex. Or… I can try and fail. We’ll see.

I was very happy, very very happy, when I got to put on a Big Daddy costume and lumber about. There are certain sounds that I’m attracted to in games, and I can’t quite explain it or even really know when a particular sound is going to grab a hold of me and make me adore it. The sound of the Big Daddy is one of them. So the fact that I not only got to dress like one, but that I ended up sounding like one, well, it really tickled me. If I could have had more time with that, gone back to some old places and just kind of kicked around for a while, killing those fucking weird ass half dead junkie assholes wantonly, I think I would have been a happy girl for at least a few hours without further need of plot or direction.

I don’t know how I escaped knowing about that particular feature of the game. It’s not like (even though it may at times seem so) I have been living in a cave. People around me have been playing and talking about this game since it came out. SINCE IT CAME OUT. Yet, I had no clue. Somehow the spoilers of this joy flew by me like greased pigeons. I was well and truly surprised at the discovery. And joyful. I cannot go on without saying the word joyful some more. Joyful.

I’m excited to play the next game in the series, whenever I can get my hands on it. Which, given how long it took me for this one, might very well be right around the time they’re making the fourth. I would roll my eyes at myself, but then I’d have to get up and go look in a mirror, and I’m just not that into moving at the moment.

There is nothing more that I can really say. Truly. Love. Deep, penetrating love, filled to the brim love, a little glad I’m behind so I don’t have to wait for more love. Play this game. Play it a lot. Never sell it. Not even if you’re going to starve to death if you don’t.

Dante’s Inferno

Have you ever been really bad at a game you really loved? I haven’t. Well, not until Dante’s Inferno. And that sounds really arrogant, but it’s true. When I find a game that I adore, it’s like I already know what to do. My brain and my hands communicate perfectly, and everything comes extremely naturally.

Again, that was until Dante’s Inferno.

I picked this game up as soon as I could. The moment that it started to be talked about, I was interested. I am a huge fan of the Divine Comedy and have had multiple copies of it over my life. Currently I have an older set in a three book arrangement, and a giant copy complete with the woodcuttings. You can imagine that I was pretty excited to hear that they were going to make a game from this.

I knew, of course, that they wouldn’t be following the story exactly. How could they? And that things would be left out, other things would be added in that weren’t there originally. I made peace with these facts long before the game was released. The point was, it was going to be Dante’s Inferno. That’s all it needed to be, for me.

When I got the game, I was more than pleased with what I was seeing. I had no complaints to make, and happily worked my way through levels, deciding (of course) to damn everything as much as possible on the way.

The only problem was – I kept dying.

There’s something to be said for getting used to a game and dying a couple of times in the very beginning, but that wasn’t what was happening here. This was an extraordinary amount of dying. This was me kicking the bucket every few minutes. This was the sort of dying that makes you feel really bad about yourself as a gamer. It was getting to the point that I was only able to get through one level each time I played before I found myself extremely frustrated and having to quit. This is not the kind of thing you want happening in a game you adore. And despite my inability to stay alive, I was still in love.

It got to the point that I decided I was going to have to go for the easiest difficultly level. I just couldn’t do it anymore. So I went to the options and lo…

I have it set on the hardest. The hardest is called “Hellish”. Yeah. No kidding. It appears that Dante’s Inferno doesn’t work the way that other games do, with an “easy” “medium” and “hard”, but rather “Normal” (medium) “hard” (Holy crap) and “What the fuck” (dear god, save me). When I saw it, I thought that “Classic” was what they were calling “Easy”, so I skipped to “Zealot” which I thought was “medium”, and accidentally went down too far on the list, putting myself on “Hellish”.

You see, I do all my games on Medium. I’m arrogant, I’m not cocky. I know my level of gaming, and I know what I’m comfortable with. I like a challenge, but I don’t like to be constantly frustrated. Rarely will I go above Medium, and really, those times, it has to do more with getting an achievement. Like if you beat a boss on Hard and don’t have to do the whole game on Hard in order to get it.

So I’m pretty proud of the fact that I got through so much of the game on Hellish, but I was really happy when I knocked myself back down to Classic and stopped dying all the time. The game became fun, and my love grew. I could actually get through entire sections without a single death.

I enjoyed the game enough to play it through twice back to back, and loved all the interactions with Virgil (there could have been more). I loved the way that they made the circles look, there was definitely a feel of what kind of people suffered within them. There was no sugarcoating of what was going on, and the damned echoed (alright, and amplified) the kind of brutality that Dante wrote about. In the Divine Comedy, he certainly doesn’t give mercy to the souls he speaks about, and it was nice that the game didn’t either.

The Tudors (Completed)

Netflix got the rest of the Tudors for streaming, and I decided I wanted to watch it. The sad thing here is that I didn’t remember at all that I’d already seen the first two seasons. I completely blanked all of it.

Then when I started to watch, all the episodes of those seasons were at 99% watched. I was a little confused. Even sadder is the fact that I made a whole post about how much I loved the goddamned show.

I have no idea how I managed to forget it completely. I just don’t. Luckily, all it took was rewatching the final episode of season two and it all came back to me. It was like I was an amnesia victim who had triggered the release of information to bring me up to speed on my own life.

Anyway. I did enjoy the rest of it as much as I loved the first two seasons. I found myself more infatuated with certain characters than I was previously, and still quite envious of the way the women dressed. I don’t care what anybody says, if I can ever afford it, I’m going to have a whole wardrobe made in that style, and then I’m going to wear the dresses all the time. All. The. Time. Even to the grocery.

I was pleased that Jonathan Rhys Meyers held up his end of things perfectly to the end. I was happy to see some characters die. And I was only mildly perturbed at the actress choice for the last wife. I just don’t like her as an actress, though.

There are very few shows that have a definite ending, and it’s kind of nice to have everything all wrapped up neatly. Most shows get cancelled before they have a chance to decide how the story should flow, and have to rush to get it to a point where people won’t have to wonder. Of course, sometimes shows just get cut off and you don’t get anything even close to an ending. Not that I want all my shows to have a pre-imagined end point.

It’s rare for me to find a show that does end and I’ve liked it all the way through. Arrested Development is one, and I hold all shows to that kind of standard. The Tudors Arrested Development standard, I think I’ll call it from now on. The Arrested Tudors Development standard… Arrested Development Tudors standard…

Anyway. Start to end, I adored the Tudors. Very rich in imagery, very factual (though I’m sure some things were fudged, but without Henry the VIII standing there telling you the story, it’s hard to know every single tiny detail).

The Virgin Suicides

I only recently got to see the movie adaption of this book. I read it a few years ago and discovered that I really liked it. It wasn’t until after I finished that I made the mental connection of the author of this book being the author of Middlesex. To say that I enjoy his writing is an understatement. Since I read Middlesex, I’ve gone actively searching for things Jeffrey Eugenides has written. Which means that at the time that I picked up The Virgin Suicides, I likely knew exactly what I was doing, but by the time I actually got to it (through my large stack of books-to-read) I’d forgotten.

I wish now that I’d seen the movie before I’d read the book. It’s the only way I can come up with that I might possible have enjoyed myself while watching. If I hadn’t known how it was supposed to feel, maybe I could have felt anything at all.

This really makes me sad to say. Considering how much I love the writer and I love the book. It really kind of hurts. But this movie really fell flat.

The insertion of real people into the characters went well. They picked some very good faces to fit into what I had imagined. So I don’t know if it was their acting, or if it was the directing that caused the problem. I hate to say either. But considering I’ve seen these particular people in other things where they aren’t lifeless and empty, I think I might have to lean toward the directing.

I don’t want to insult Sofia Coppola, but it’s the only thing that makes sense.

The book made me actually cry. I was dry eyed through the entire movie. The book moved me, it made me feel things. I kept wondering how much longer the movie was going to take. I felt I knew the characters when I read the book. Watching the movie was like stepping into a crowded room full of strangers wearing masks of my friend’s faces. Everything the book was, the movie lacked. I was not interested in the story as I watched it play out on my television screen. I was not intrigued with what the characters were doing.

So much was left out. Not just scenes, but emotions. Key things. Hints. Clues. Knowledge. A life of it’s own.

The emptiness of this movie was really rather astounding. How can somebody take words that have such presence to them and steamroll them into something so dull?

I don’t know.

I wish I had the answer.