We need to talk about television 

Tuesday 4 July, 2017

As you know, I am an entertainment consumer buff. If I’m not watching films, I’m watching TV, if I’m not watching TV, I’m playing games, reading books or listening to audiobooks. I go through cycles and phases but I am always consuming media of some sort. When my health craps out, when I have the flu, when I’m brain tired but not body tired, I watch television. I don’t want to sound like a hipster, but I was marathonning tv shows before it became ~cool~, before the Netflix generation inherited the earth.

Here’s the problem, television keeps dissappointing me. It might just be me and maybe I have high standards, but there’s not many television shows made in the last 10, even 20, years that I have watched from start to finish, without either losing interest half way through or suffering through mediocre plotlines and self contained episodes until I can’t suffer anymore.

I could give you a whole list of the shows that have lost me or dissappointed me in my entire life time, but, in all honesty I just tried and I derailed and ranted and remembered how dissappointed in House I was and that spurred a very long entry on it’s own, and then had to go for a lie down.

So I’m going to just mention the last few series I had high hopes for, and try to keep it to the point.

But saying that, shall we get it out the way first? House. You know how I feel about this show and it’s downfall. It was the best thing on television… for all of 2 and a half years. It was everything I wanted from a show, I didn’t even realise it was what I wanted from a show. Murder mystery in a medical setting, because the disease is the murderer. House, like Holmes, has to work out the intricate web of lies and livestyles to figure out why the victim is the target, and who is trying to murder his patient. Sometimes he went wrong, and killed them faster, but usually, the man and his ducklings came through and saved the day. What more could you ask for!?

Well, consistency would have been good for a start. Then longevity. And a little less of the producer’s own fantasy wish fullfilment. I think it should have finished at the end of series 3, when something shifted the focus away from Patient of the Week and Clinic Patient of the Week, on to character drama. Yes, okay, we could have had a bit more about Wilson’s brother in the first series, but there is a middle ground between the strict procedural that left us wanting it was in the first series and the soap it turned during series 3.

I said I wasn’t going to go on about it, and I won’t. But I just really wanted to get that out. I loved House, then House changed, I feel not for the better, and then it dragged us through 5 more series until it ended.

Shortly after that was Alphas. I know, it was generally disliked by the masses. It was like X-Men, it was stereotypical, it had problematic casting by casting a british non-disabled guy to play an American 20-something autistic guy. But… for the first series it was quite good! It had me hook, line and sinker. I do love me some mutant powers and hey, X Men 3 was a botch-job, I had to get my Mutants Saving The Day fix somewhere. And then series 2 happened, and one character’s own personal problems and a love triangle drove one half of the plot, and the other half of the plot came from a personal vendetta characer arc that dragged on for far too long. It just lost what made it enjoyable in the first series. It did not surprise me that it didn’t get renewed for a 3rd series, though I am annoyed they messed with the airing of the second in the UK off the back of that decision. It also could have improved for series 3, with the feedback of what failed in series 2.

I was briefly into Rizzoli and Isles. I seem to be a sucker for any show that is even remotely Holmes and Waston-esque. Here we have Jane Rizzoli, a streetwise hard boiled egg of a Police Detective with her friend and colleague, Dr Maura Isles, an intelligent but socially-blind Cheif medical examiner, working together to solve Murders of the Week. It works very well, and should have remained a strong series despite set backs and personal tragedies, but the writing team behind the scenes changed hands and took the show in a different direction. Apparently, in response to the fan reaction supporting the idea of Jane and Maura becoming an item, they promptly wrote in male love interests for both characters to prevent anyone from doubting the two main character’s sexualities or romantic interests is anything but straight. Nothing is confirmed but the implications have been noted by better notekeepers than myself.

The introduction of the love interests wasn’t as much of a problem for me as obvious signs that the new writers had no idea or care for what came before their involvement. Jane had a dog called Jo Friday, the dog dissappeard off-screen, and eventually we got the bizarre explanation that Jo Friday wasn’t Jane’s to begin with and has been returned to her real owners, which the Mum keeps in touch with. Thank God that explanation was scrambled together, otherwise we might have thought they’d killed off Jane’s beloved pet dog in an arson attack on her flat. The same arson attack that led to her moving in with Maura, which fuelled the relationship rumours the writers became concerned about.

Maura had a tortoise. I don’t know what happened to the Tortoise.  Then we have Jane’s brother Frankie, which is short for Francesco. But you wouldn’t know it from the once-proud Italian-American mother suddenly calling her Italian-American son “Frances”, which just would not have happened in the earlier series. And all  sorts of other little details that were retconned or ignored or over-shadowed in favour of lazy writing, which was clearly starting to affect the actor’s ability to act.

One day I just stopped putting myself through it. Much like what I did with Person of Interest. Talking of…

Person of Interest was a flash in the pan in my eyes, but that might be due to the binge watching. I came to this party very late in the game. It was already on hiatus in America, and it was on Hiatus, from what I can gather, because it lost thousand of viewers over the course of series 4 and something was aired during a mid-season break that got higher ratings so the cast were waiting both to see if the first half of series 5 would be aired, and if it was, whether they would be in the second half. Added to that, the writer’s had admitted to losing interest in the show and did not want to complete it.

Going from series 3 to eventually seeing most of series 4, I can see why it lost viewers. This show, which started off brilliant and almost flawless, and with characters you can believe to be real people, changed into something else. It was a procedural with heart. Finch was the leader, a bruised and broken genius who lost his best friend before the start of the show. He follows the intel a highly intelligent machine gave him, and gave orders to his second in command, John. Along the way, after a lot of pain and anguish, they make trusted acquaintences with two new york coppers, Joss Carter and Lionel Fusco. For the first 2 series, Finch’s greatest enemy is a megalomanic sociopath with computer skills to rival him, she goes by the name of Root and she kidnaps him and terrorises him. John’s ability to take down the enemy for Finch and save people because that’s what good poeple do, Finch’s determination to save people because nobody else can, along with the goodness of Joss Carter and Fusco’s redeption of wanting to do good for Selfless reasons drove the series.

The series all fell apart when the writers dissolved the friendship between Reese and Finsh almost over night during series 3. I don’t like to talk about queer baiting because I still don’t really understand the phrase, but all the work put in to Finch’s past, the relationship parallels between a normal couple of Finch and Reese’s friendship, not to mention the looks between them that don’t seem within the normal paramaters of Friendship, it really feels like a plot bomb that was dropped was the end result of queer baiting and everything was retconned rom there. Then they turned Root from a very scary Baddie, to a redeemed saviour who had all the answers. Suddenly she was better at programming than Finch, a better shot than Reese, and it didn’t matter that she was practically sexually harassing late-joiner Shaw, she was what Shaw was somehow missing after years of working for the ISA. What the Machine was at the start was always going to change, but there’s very little reasoning as to why it had to involve Root being the Machine’s mouth piece over the more logical choice of Reese. Her redemption makes no sense either. It wasn’t like Fusco’s, slow, well written, with acknowledgement of his earlier wrong doings. Root’s is “Well she’s good now because that’s what The Machine wants, let’s forget she spent 2 whole days terrorising Finch, that’s all in the past now~!”

I stalled during watching series 4. I’ve now got 2 episodes of series 4 to watch before I can start series 5 and I just don’t really want to. The procedural element went, there was a lost plotline to do with a third party team getting revenge, and that didn’t really go anywhere, and it does seem to be the “Look at how brilliant Root is at everything” show. That’s not what I signed up for when I started watching the show.

The most recent dissappointment was The Flash. I really liked the first series. I’d been meaning to watch everything Super-hero related everything anyway, I was just waiting for the time to become available as well as the DVDs, then a friend lent me her boxset of The Flash. I watched all of the first series in 2 and a half days. I thought it was Brilliant, and it wonderfully filled in the holes that Person of Interest was leaving me with. It ended on a cliffhanger and I was dying to find out what happened next.

Series 2 did not have the same effect. It started off well enough but somewhere along the line, I think maybe with the Wells we grew to love to hate (and love again if you’re into that sort of thing) going, the dynamics of the show changed. It didn’t quite make the new mark, and the ending annoyed me. This show is superhero procedural with an over-shadowing arc with a Big Bad, much like Buffy the Vampire Slayer was, and as the procedural element was being drowned out by personal drama as the character dynamic shifted and changed, the over-shadowing arc dragged on rather than shone. And then Barry pulled a Barry and left us all wondering why we wasted 23 hours of our lives watching series 2, specifically the Ross and Rachel plot line of Barry and Iris. And then series 3 happened. I won’t get too far into series 3, I think spoiler warnings can sometimes extend to a whole year! But I think it started off weak, everything was a mess canonically and it didn’t make for good watching… besides Julian. That was a nice little gem on an otherwise pile of bricks. I know the fandom loved the Musical episode. I was impressed by the singing, I wasn’t impressed with the execution or arbitrary plot developments leading up to it so that they could have it in the first place.

“Once More With Feeling” it was not.

And the big bad of the series? Called it. Though not the reasonings behind it, because I couldn’t have guesed that mess in a millon years. To me, that part of canon made very little sense whatsoever.

What has happened to this show!? I can only hope, without sounding like i’m mis-quoting D:Ream, things will get better. Before the last episode, I thought if the ending crapped out, I wouldn’t be watching series 4. I’ve heard that Arrow fell in a similar way and redeemed itself during series 4 and came back stronger, so I’m willing to give the 4th series a go. But it has until the 3rd episode to pull me in as much as the first series did, an if it doesn’t, I’m out.

It seems to me that most of these series start with a very strong recipe. They know what they want out of the show, so they know what to put in the show, and then suddenly what they planned ran it’s course. So they throw in personal drama, they change the dynamic, they hope it’ll make their characters grow but put hardly any of the groundwork to make it work like it did in the first series. They guess their audience and half the time they guess wrong.

I’m show hopping right now. I’ve found watchable shows to watch, such as The Blacklist, but nothing that has grabbed in the way that House/Alphas/POI/Rizzoli and Isles/Sports Night/The West Wing/Sherlock/Breakout Kings/Law and Order: Criminal Intent did before their inevitable downfalls.

And that’s what I think about Television now, and televsion shows. It’s only so long until the new shows of today have their inevitable downfalls, so is there really any point in investing time into watching them?

I want to end this on a special mention of the series of long, film length episodes: Hornblower. That show, though it changed over the years, and one of my favourite characters got killed off, never dissappointed me. Upset me, yes, but not dissappointed.


Guess Who’s Back, Back Again. I am back, tell your friends!

Wednesday 15 January, 2014

So… *Insert Obligatory “Rumours of my demise….” Paul McCartney quote here*

Hello there, everyone who might be reading this right now! Also, happy new year, merry belated Christmas, and an even more belated happy birthday to this here blog. Hope anyone who might reading this is well, and if they’re not, I wish them as speedy a recovery as possible. (And if they’re not reading this, well, then… they’re missing out, aren’t they?)

Now, I’ll admit, that last entry probably wasn’t the best entry to come before a radio silence. If I accidentally gave anyone the impression that my bout of bad health then threw me head first into No Man’s Land, I can only apologise.

It was the start of a bad bout of health, but shortly after that entry I experienced what I like to call a Systematic Failing of the Modern Ways of Life.

Here’s what happened, in short, that led to a seven month absence from this here beloved blog.

I moved back to Liverpool. Remember that entry where I talked about how bad council houses are? With the wooden planks to put up a curtain rail, and the porous flatpack materials that didn’t have protective coatings against the rain, so the damp got in and there was mould? And no storage space to speak of? Well, a bit of dodgy wording on my part in that entry, but that was the house I was living in.

Was being the key word there. With speed I never knew housing associations were even capable of, my poor old family put in for a move on an emergency, health related basis, and we moved two weeks later!

But, as much as this place is better – We actually have storage space now! – No council property comes without problems, and my room was and continues to be quite a bit of a problem.

Lack of room in my bedroom means no room for my over-bed table that my computer was on, which I used with a wireless keyboard and mouse. I tried to continue to use my computer by using it on my knee, but the laptop had a history of overheating. I couldn’t use my laptop in the living room, where my table was, because for a good portion of the year, every single member of my family was unemployed and trying to do anything that required concentration, became impossible. When I’m in the room, it seems like everyone just wants to talk at me and ask me questions and throw riddles at me to solve.

The bad news is, that laptop had a partial motherboard failure. The good news is, my legs came out unscathed!

No floor space within the limited area I can turn my head to watch telly along with busy walls meant no television or DVD player.

My blackberry started having software failures, a problem usually easily solved with a reset and an update, but no updates available even when my computer was working meant that my phone would need to be fixed by blackberry itself, which would have costed more than a new phone.

So I bought a new phone, which I had a massive allergic reaction to due to some cleaning substance used in the factory process. The battery also got too hot to hold the phone, but it wasn’t clear at the time because of the allergic reaction. So I got it replaced, and the phone was the same* so I had to return that one again for a full refund and account cancellation.

So that was me without a phone and full use of a laptop for quite a few months. Limited use of a DVD player, but I couldn’t make any notes whilst watching any films, so no reviews. I was allowed access to my Mum’s little netbook, but the poor little thing couldn’t even play youtube videos.

As well as a bad bout of health, even more hospital appointments, and a two month bout of flu, full chest infection, Laryngitis, possible bout of SAD.

I didn’t have much to talk about, I’d been completely knocked out of my writing rhythm and the longer I went without updating, the harder it seemed to get started again.

I didn’t want to dip in here with something important without explaining all the little things that led to this being unintentionally abandoned.

Then I got a new computer. Family members who like to ask me questions, talk at me, and throw riddles at me, went back to work, meaning I can at least use my computer in the living room in peace. My need to vent my outrage at social inequality came back, and, well, I still need a solution in relation to review writing, but I do have some notes lying around on some films I’d seen but didn’t have a chance to write a proper review for.

And I have an entry for Asexuality Awareness Week in drafts waiting to be posted!

So, ok, there was a gap, but I’m back. It’s full steam ahead now, my friends! Think of me as your female blogging version of Sherlock Holmes. I survived Movenback! (Yes, that was a pun.)

I will return you to your scheduled programming, whether you like it or not.

Thank you for reading.

~AFJ~


A Crafty Failed Journalist is Crafty

Monday 27 February, 2012

When I was in Secondary School, I developed this thing I called The Procrastination Hierarchy. It’s where you start with what you need to be doing, and then start doing something else, and then you get bored with that, so then you do something else instead, and then when that gets frustrating or the horror of three commitments going on at once gets too much for your mind to handle, you do something completely different. It achieves many goals at once:

1) Working on those (many) other things you hadn’t yet got around to doing
2) Avoiding the work that needs to be done most urgently

This carries on until, eventually, you’ve wasted so much time that you have no choice but to get back to your original piece of work and finish it.

The lesser procrastinators will finish and hand in what would have ended up looking like the half-arsed, late-started product of an allnighter it actually was. Those of us who perfected this method would know that a deadline is the kick we need and the closer it approaches, the more intelligent we sound, the easier it is to make a load of bumph sound interesting and relevant, and the easier it is for our imagination to run wild with us, so the work doesn’t end up looking like a carbon copy of the research papers we’ve taken the information from originally.

It’s a side effect of the sleep deprivation.

I perfected this method in 6th Form. I, The Queen of Procrastination, didn’t just go further and further up my tasks list and tackle them one by one to avoid the previous task until I was so far from the original task my mind was refreshed. Oh no. I multi-tasked.

I had, and still have, a lot of ADHD-like tendencies when I was younger, and working on school work and course work was no different. So I would get all the work I needed to do, all of my unimportant things I needed to do and I would flit from one thing to the next until I’d whittle down the tasks. That way, I wasn’t completely avoiding the original urgently done piece, I was adding bits to it as I went between everything, meaning I had less to do when it came to the deadline of the other pieces of work.

It was all a double, if not triple, whammy.

From what I experienced, it also worked well for University too. But I can’t endorse this particular method, as I dropped out before I could draw any conclusions. Any problems I had with seeing to my work had more do with the failure of the course, the lack of provisions available to me, and my declining physical health.

And so, finally why am I mentioning this, you’re wondering…

Well, here’s the funny thing. I have things I really, really, really need to do. Like quite a few things, actually. I have a list of it all. And to stop myself from whiling the day away over on Livejournal, like I usually do, I’ve announced a Hiatus there. And because I’m looking for a distraction from the other things I’m doing whilst I’m not working on them, and because I can’t go back to Livejournal without declaring myself a failure, I thought I’d pop over here and work my way up to announcing a hiatus here as well.

And, well, now I have. And it comes with the gift of letting everyone in to my little secret! Well, it wasn’t really a secret. People knew about my Procrastination Skillz and Methodz, they just didn’t appreciate them.

I’ve learnt to accept that, though. They say genius is never really appreciated. Just look at poor Sherlock Holmes.

So, here I go, to work on my Very Important Projects. I’d like to thank the person who inspired me to kick my backside back in to gear, but I don’t want to name him by name. He doesn’t know me, it’d just be weird and I wouldn’t like to risk an awkward atmosphere should we ever meet.

We probably won’t, but it’s better safe than sorry.

So instead I’ll say this:

Watch This Space!


Sorkin Speculation: Revisited

Tuesday 24 January, 2012

On this date last year, I blogged about Aaron Sorkin’s news that he had written the pilot of a new show and was in the casting process. I then went on to speculate who might be casted into the show.

Well, since then, an explosion of new information came to light in the middle of December! There was nothing much beforehand, and nothing else since, but the information we now have, is enough to be going on with. Unfortunately, none of my speculated actors are on the cast list (yet) so I got that one (Or three, rather) wrong.

It’s exactly the premise Sorkin talked about on the news last year. Behind The Scenes Of A Show-within-a-show, like Sports Night and. to an extent, Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip.

Surprisingly, or at least it is to me anyway, Jeff Daniels, of all people, is the star of the show! He’ll be playing the Main Character, Will – Who is The Anchor of the News Show. So basically he’s the Casey, for fellow Sports Night Fan’s Comparisons. He does like to recycle those names, doesn’t he? Was there a Will in Studio 60? I don’t think there was, was there?

Well, you know what they say, where there’s a Will, there’s a way. Studio 60 didn’t have a Will, I don’t think, so that’s probably why it got cancelled. No Way for it to be successful. Such a shame, I loved that show!

Anyway. Alongside Jeff Daniels will be Emily Mortimer, who I first recognise as being from Disney’s The Kid, and then also from The 51st State. Jane Fonda is a bizarre casting choice but I’ll save my comments until after I see the show. She’ll be playing the CEO of the Parent Company. There’s also a few actors name’s that I don’t recognise and then one that I am more surprised to read about than I was with Jeff Daniels. Sam Waterston!

He’ll be playing President of the News Network, Charlie Skinner. I think that will make him the Isaac Jaffe of the show, under the power of Jane Fonda’s Luther Sachs, for a Sports Night Comparison.

I am very shocked but quite looking forward to seeing Sam Waterston in this latest Sorkin show. Sam Waterston seems like a very serious television actor, and Sorkin has this talent for making drama and subtle comedy blend together that I can’t actually imagine what this show is going to be like anymore. It not only speaks volumes of the quality Sorkin wishes to uphold with this show, but also what the Network Executives expect from him. You don’t just put Sam Waterston in a show that you expect to flop. And lets face it, Sorkin doesn’t have the best track records with these kind of shows.

I blame the Networks. Sorkin doesn’t have the best personality in the world but he knows how to make a show and how to get the best out of his cast. The Network’s never seem to know how to deal with the kind of outcomes they have to deal with when it comes to him.

But back to the show and Sam Waterston. Here’s why it’s especially delightful for me to see Sam Waterston in a Sorkin Show, other than it’s Sam Waterston and he’s a bloody good actor. He is James Waterston’s Father. James Waterston played Gerard Pitts in Dead Poets Society. Josh Charles, who played Dan Rydell in Sports Night, played Knox Overstreet in Dead Poets Society. And last but not least, an episode of The West Wing, called Two Cathedrals, had parts that were filmed at the same school Dead Poets Society was filmed.

My mind is just one Undirected Labelled Graph when it comes to Sorkin, Dead Poets Society and, though I haven’t mentioned it, House.

In Short, Sorkin is going to be working with the father of an actor, who worked on a film with another actor, whose biggest role since that film was probably Sport’s Night. Complicated and Simple at the same time.

Anyway, back to the show! It’s scheduled to start showing in the US in the summer of this here 2012. Only god knows when us Brits will get it. Right now, it has a preliminary 10 episode run and anymore will be down to test screenings and viewer ratings.

I really hope this hits the television like The West Wing. They were fools to cancel Sports Night and Studio 60, they had so much potential for a five year run each. I don’t think Sorkin could take another “failure” in that style.

Hopefully Sorkin has found a working line and is aiming for it, because as good as his shows are, they’re no good if they get cancelled due to communication problems with the networks.

A very small snippet of the show can be found in the HBO trailer for 2012 here and more information about the show in general can be found on it’s Wiki page here.

I really can not wait to see this show! Here’s hoping us Brits aren’t left waiting for too long after the US airdate!


How To Get The Best Out Of Your LoveFilm Experience – Take 2

Thursday 29 December, 2011

I originally wrote an entry about how you can Maximise Your LoveFilm Experience back in September, with the idea of writing a second entry to expand on what I’d said at a later date, but a couple of months after I wrote that entry, LoveFilm changed things around a bit and made some of what I said retroactively inaccurate and pointless. So with that in mind, I’ve decided to combine the expansion with an updated, currently more relevant, improved version of the previous entry

(You don’t need to read the old entry, I’ll be repeating the still accurate and relevant details here, probably word for word.)

~~~
The original entry was brought to you by my Good Friend pointing out that my assisting him with his LoveFilming should be turned into a blog entry.

So here we are!

I am a LoveFilm user. I’ve been a member since August 2010, courtesy of my aforementioned Good Friend, who has been a member for at least two years before me. Which is why it was quite surprising for me to be giving him pointers on Maximising The Experience and not the other way around.

First of all, you need to be a proper DVD/Game buff to get your moneys worth. As advertised, you can get a basic service for the minimum of £4.99, but that only allows you to get one DVD at a time and a limit of two DVDs a month, and there’s No Online Viewing Time at all. The more up the price ladder you go, the service vs money spent evens out for you. Think of your average price of a Movie or a Boxset, plus P+P, and then compare it to the subscription fee. If you’re looking to get the latest releases but run the risk of your list always being at 10 Titles or less, this service won’t be for you. There is also an issue of Copyright/Renting Laws that I won’t go in to right now.

The service I originally signed up for was the Full Whack one costing £16.99 a month. I could have 3 DVDs out at a time, and an Unlimited amount of them per month. That service also gave me an Unlimited Online Viewing and access to many free films to watch Online.

With the other, lesser packages, you get a limit on the amount of films (and games) you have out at a time, and a maximum amount of films/games you can have per month. You also have access to less free films on the Online Viewing service, as well as a maximum time limit, measured by Minutes, to watch a film online. A bit like a PAYG Phone Tarriff.

The service I have now, I believe, is the Full Whack One +Loyalty Extras. All parts of the Full Whack Services apply, but with what I’ve come to believe is a Loyalty Extras Scheme, I can have Four Discs out at a time instead of the standard three. This means I can now get through a maximum of 12 Discs a week if the Returns/Sending Out system and Postal Service runs smoothly.

I will talk about what could happen when these doesn’t work smoothly a little bit later.

There’s not really a downside to being a part of the Loyalty Scheme, if infact that is what it is, but I have noticed that those who now have four discs instead of three are no longer entitled to Free Extra Disc Tokens. These are things that are part of LoveFilms FilmExtra scheme, which I’ll go into a bit later.

Due to the fact that I’m just a film buff and not much of a console gamer, I won’t be going into the Games side of it. With me never using those services, I don’t have experience with them, or any reason to look into them, to have any opinions or suggestions. All I can say about it is that, for anyone as out of the loop as I am, you can rent games from them for the following consoles: PS3, PS2, PSP, Xbox 360, Xbox, Wii, DS, and Gamecube. For further information, you will have to google it.

So, now we’ve established what account makes the service worth it and the best kind of customer for such a service, lets move on to the service itself.

There is no point filling your list with films you don’t want to see or be sent just for the sake of buffing up your title list so that you’re not sent annoying messages telling you that your list is low. That is why you need to be quite the TV/Movie fanatic. Prioritising does work, but it’s not perfect. To date. I’ve only ever been sent “low” priorities three times, but it can and does happen without the influencing circumstances that befell me:

Once was when I had a short list of about 15 Titles and most of them were either “Short Wait” or “Long Wait”, the second time was when I’d entered a competition. (I will talk about Competitions a bit later). The third time was recently, just before Christmas. I had a Total of five titles on my High Priorities and the rest on medium or low. In the “low” priority list was a Christmas film. The only Christmas-related film on my list. I’m thinking that they had a system where Christmas films were sent out, regardless of priority, to watch at the appropriate time of around Christmas.

Unfortunately for them, or maybe just me, I had no intention of watching that film at or around Christmas Time and was waiting for a less-appropriate time in the future to watch it. I’ll consider it a lesson learnt.

Which brings me on to my next point. To make sure you can influence the discs LoveFilm send you so much so that you’re mostly in control of what you get, use Lists wisely. Separate different Genres/Themes/Mediums if need be and then prioritise within those Lists.

For example, I’ve made sure all films are in a Films List, and the ones that I really want to see as soon as possible are Maximum Priority. I have a Selected Television Series list so that I can make my way through a TV Series one by one. Sequels to Films and other Television series waiting to be watched after the current one are in a “To Be Organised” list. I also have a Documentaries list. On the Edit Lists page, Disc symbols symbolise the amount of discs you should get from each list. I have two on the Selected Television Series, One on Film and the remaining one on Documentaries. You can have 10 Lists on the go at a time.
When lists get to Ten or Less Titles, you will be alerted as such and told to add more. Sometimes, due to high demand, short stock of certain titles, and/or some other variable, LoveFilm will make the executive decision to send out a title from another list or a title of a lower priority and they do their best not to go out of order on grouped series. If anything happens where they do go out of order, though, send them an email letting them know. They’ll tell you whether you should return the disc or what they can try and do to correct it for you.

There is a Subscription option where you can get five Titles at a time, with a total of ten discs total a month. It also comes with a maximum of 10 Hours of Online Viewing Time. I’m guessing that would work quite similar to my system, if you wanted to get more discs from your lists at a time, but the total of 10 Titles a month for £17.99 might not be worth it when you can get that many +more in the same time frame with the Full Whack £16.99 subscription.

Some good methods of always keeping your Lists above the minimum amount, apart from being a constant film buff, is cataloguing. Don’t know what that is? That’s ok, I think it’s something that I made up a few years ago.

It’s where you choose an actor or a director that you’ve liked the work of, and you rent their whole catalogue of films and TV shows they’ve ever been in/worked on. That gets you, on average, a good 10 films, and maybe two complete TV Series as well. Even if they’re just in one episode. Obviously if you know you won’t like the film or have already seen it, don’t add it; But it can be a great way to expand your viewing horizons, it gives you a reason to see films or shows you wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

I mentioned this to my Good Friend and he liked the idea, and then came up with a good idea himself. Get your friend, who may or may not have different tastes to you, to list all the films they hate and add all the ones you haven’t seen yet/don’t know whether you’ll like or not to your list.

Or if you do have similar tastes, ask a friend to list their top rated films and add those instead. Unless you’ve seen them, that is.

When there is a “Long Wait” or “Short Wait” on some Titles, I find it best to rejiggle the priorities around so that they’re medium or low priority, so that you have a higher choice of getting something Top Priority, instead of them potentially bypassing the next disc and choosing something you didn’t want to see just yet, or had better things to watch right then. As soon as they’re no longer classed as “Short Wait” or “Long Wait”, you can re-prioritise them to their previous position on the list.

Sometimes, things don’t go as well as they should. Sometimes it’s the Postal Service’s fault; post is sometimes delayed and some discs have been known to “go missing”, but when it’s LoveFilm’s fault, let them know. If there’s a faulty disc, it’s easy to report it and get a replacement. Depending on how your lists are set up and what list your disc is from, you might even get a second Disc along with the replacement. All you have to do is return the one that doesn’t work.

I’ll be honest, in all of the time I’ve been using LoveFilm, I’ve had to report a lot of discs as faulty, but their extra discs on replacement and prompt responses of Customer Service make up for it. What you have to remember is a LOT of people use LoveFilm, some discs will be worn from over play and some will be scratched by careless people. The same can go for any rental service.

Something I referred to earlier was that LoveFilm sometimes do competitions. Sometimes they’re to win merchandise, or free cinema tickets, or even a free subscription to LoveFilm. The prize more often than not, though, is an Extra Film Credit Token for their FilmExtra scheme. And most of the time, you get one just for participating.

Due to the rejiggle of accounts, I’m not sure how many accounts have access to this scheme. I’m 99.9% that Full Whack +Loyalty customers don’t. There’s a chance that Full Whack customers don’t either, from what I’ve worked out from feedback and comments on Twitter, but their site still lists FilmExtra in their FAQ so I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been fully eradicated.

Running purely on that assumption, here’s some information about how it works:

An Extra Film Credit Token is exactly what it says on the Tin. You get one, you use it, you get an extra Film sent out to you from your list. Usually it’s from your Top Priority, sometimes it can be from your Medium Priority. Once I got one from my low Priority, but I won the token after adding a bunch of films I had no intention of watching to my List, just because it would have got me a Token.

When it comes to those kind of competitions, here’s a sneaky tip. Add the films you need to, to your main list, but put them all on low priority. When you get your token for it, delete the films you added and make sure your list maximises the chances of you getting a title you really would like to see, then choose to use it.

When you have more then one Token to be used, wait a good two weeks before using one token after another, because adding an extra film can make it go a bit wonky, in a good way, for a few Dispatches. And don’t worry, if a token disc arrives faulty, reporting it won’t lose you the extra film.

Last but not least, the CopyRight/Renting Law Issues I mentioned at the beginning of this entry. There is a problem between Universal Pictures and LoveFilm in the UK, just as there is with Netflix in America. Even if you reserve Universal Movies and they stay in your Reserve list until the day of release, once it’s been released, any and all Universal DVDs will be “Buy Only.” This is why you need more than just Coming Soon or New Releases on your lists, you’ll end up getting less than your moneys worth if you’re waiting for new releases to come out if they’re made by Universal Pictures.

For more indepth information on that, google it, because it’s a very involved topic that I just wouldn’t do justice by summing it up here. You just have to remember that the lack of Universal options aren’t purely LoveFilm’s fault. Many people don’t seem to understand that, and they end up reviewing the titles with complaints on the matter. Doing that is both pointless and wrong, because all that does is skew the title’s popularity rating and makes it seem all LoveFilm’s fault.

I hope I’ve been of help. If you’re not a member yet and my entry has tempted you to become one, I can get you a month free trial. Just drop a comment with your email (I’ll delete it straight afterwards if you’d like) and I’ll get back to you with the referral link.


This Is The Blog You Are Looking For

Wednesday 28 December, 2011

Fear not! Though the appearance has changed, the inside is still the same. This is still A Failed Journalist and her merry Blog.

Merry. Bah! That was an unfortunate coincidental use of the word, there. Nothing to do with Christmas and All to do with old (and untrue) folklore and children’s television.

Anyway, so about the Redesign! Do you like it? If not, why not?

I’ve been thinking about redesigning here for about a month, now, but I just didn’t know where to start. And then I got those spam-worthy comments about Twilight from an Anonymous commenter, which deviated into an Insult Fest directed towards myself and this here blog. One of the comments was along the lines of “This is a poorly designed blog” with a few other choice words thrown in, and whilst I wouldn’t say it that way exactly, I mean I was quite happy to leave it as it was, I did think it was time for a change and maybe an imrpovement.

Let me just take a minute to state that this is not a new look to see in the new year.

No. Just a timely redesign, from orange to blue. I didn’t make these decisions lightly. Infact, I made a clone of this place just so that I could test out new designs without messing around with this one. I learnt about templates!

It took me back to my website hosting days. Ah, memories.

Anyway, now that I’ve acknowledged the shiny new look, my work here is done for the day!

-A Failed Journalist-


Excuse me, I have some words to eat

Monday 12 December, 2011

If you were to read my entries from around this time last year, you would be met with some words and sentences directed at Christmas and December fit for old Ebenezer Scrooge himself.

Now, I’m not saying I’ve changed my ways. I still hate Christmas, and the commercialisation of Christmas, and December and how the whole of December is a painful countdown to Christmas and then new year. And it’s always cold, and dark, and miserable. I think all of it is miserable and pointless and the less I had to do with it the better.

However. However… During the summer, I got quite attached to something that had a small reference to Christmas in it. And I am delightfully happy to finally get the chance to use and abuse this very small reference to my heart’s content. So it’s really all about that than it is about Christmas.

It’s exactly the same as hating Chemistry, but finding absolute joy in the song Catalyst by New Found Glory, and using and abusing the chance to sing it obnoxiously everytime work is done with a catalyst. Or the word Catalyst is mentioned.

I’m not happy to celebrate Christmas, this is just a very small way I can make the lead up to it tolerable. Something better to focus on, at least.

It’s amazing what benefits there are to having a geeky, fangirl mindframe.

I would thank the person responsible for this little reference right here, right now, on this very blog, but I don’t want to give any more away that would connect my blog with my LiveJournal.

So anybody intrigued will have to stay intrigued… (I say that as if I have regular readers)

Normal scheduling consisting of grumbling, moaning, complaining and many other things that describe my ill-feelings towards Christmas in general and December will resume as of now.

Thank You!


I Was Once A Twenty-Something Journalism Student Wordle

Friday 25 November, 2011

You know, I blogged about Asexuality a total of three times. How has that taken over a wordle representation of the whole blog?

I am confused.


Asexuality Awareness – Part 3

Friday 28 October, 2011

Today is the 5th Day of Asexuality Awareness Week. If Asexuality Awareness Week is like the Working Week, then today is also the Final Day of Asexuality Awereness Week. I believe that a week ends on a Sunday, and a new week starts on a Monday, so therefore, as far as I’m concerned, today is the 5th Day of Asexuality Awareness Week, but it isn’t the Final Day. That’d be Sunday.

And now we’ve got that trivial matter out of the way, I am free to share more pearls of wisdom with you concerning Asexuality.

So what’s on the cards today? The Portrayal of Asexuality Within Popular Culture.

I’m going to be honest here, we don’t get much representation on TV. I can think of three well known people who are said to be Asexual, and two of them are fictional.

The first is Sheldon Cooper, the super genius from The Big Bang Theory who is riddled with autistic-like behaviours and obsessive compulsive disorders. In the first two series, he was shown as not having any interest in anyone on a romantic-based relationship level. Considering the way he treats his friends, it’s sometimes hard to believe he’s maintained friendships. From what i’ve noticed, he sees things as “Scientifically Relevant”, “Relevant to his interests or well being” and “Irrelevant”. He has changed over time and now he even has a “girlfriend”, who from where I saw upto, he referred to as “a friend who was a girl”.

Now, I know that asexuals can have relationships. Some asexuals even have sex. I have said this. Sheldon being in a relationship isn’t the problem. It’s the attitude towards him being in a relationship and the rest of his character. At first, I really liked Sheldon and then, I don’t know, as the series went on, I just felt more and more like he was giving Asexuals a bit of a bad name. Or at least helping bad stereotypes.

It’s his idiosyncracies that might not be related to Autism, it’s his problems understanding people and relationships and it’s this idea that if he is and since he has been in a relationship, he’ll “get more normal”. It’s the idea that, because Sheldon is alone in his quirky little world, he’s missing out on something and this relationship with Amy, that’s the character’s name, is going to make him realise that and “fix” everything. I really like the actor who plays the character, but even he has said some things in interviews that have got to me. I just feel like all these things, together, make Asexuality seem like some sort of disorder.

Isn’t it bad enough that people think that a lack of interest in sex and relationships is an indicator of depression?

The second is Sherlock Holmes. ACD never used the word “Asexual”, to my knowledge, but he very much said that Holmes showed no interest in people in a romantic sense. He had no time for them. People were tools to get to the important thing, the crimes and the understanding of how and why crimes were done. He was pretty much an early day Criminalist with a love of Chemistry. The only people who “caught his attention” one way or another, even outside of the cases and the drug use, were John Watson, the only person who Sherlock Holmes considered close enough intellectually to him for him to be considered a friend and a colleague, and Irene Adler. The One Woman who bested him. People can see this as a romantic thing,  and it is up for interpretation. I see it this way:

In the era Sherlock Holmes is set, Women were still second class citizens. Adler was your average woman, who just happened to be a common criminal. She wasn’t a mastermind. There is cleverness in the incredibly simple, and someone so smart like Holmes was bound to overlook the simple things. He is so used to people trying to best him by raising the bar higher than he has set himself, he never anticipated someone reaching lower. So someone of average intelligence getting the upper hand was a big punch to his ego, the fact that it was a woman doubly so. So she became The Woman. The only one worth his attention.

Yes, it’s such a cliche that arch-enemies of opposite gender are just so full of hatred for each other, it’s actually pure attraction. But Sherlock Holmes? I don’t see that trope, myself.

Now there’s a modern remake of Sherlock Holmes and I have to say, I absolutely love it. And moreso, Sherlock implies right in the first episode that he holds no interest in romantic relationships. His actual words are “Girlfriends? Not really my area”, he doesn’t have a boyfriend, and he considers himself “Married to his work”. Later on he says he’s a High Functioning Sociopath, but I honestly reckon that’s a misdiagnosis, self-diagnosis, and/or a complete great wall of China to keep people away. You’d be surprised at how often people of high intellect see a pattern and develop one of their own in reaction to protect themselves. When you’re a genius who probably got mocked and ostracised by everyone, have enough understanding of people to manipulate them but have no personal experience to uphold relationships, you’re probably going to find it difficult to work with people. People who seem to direct their intelligences in different ways. (Apart from John Watson, who can just about keep-up)

And honestly, some of the facial expressions and pauses pretty much shoot the idea that he’s a “high-functioning sociopath” right out the window for me.

Now, I have been asked what the difference is between Sheldon and Sherlock for me to like one portrayal of Asexuality and not the other. The simple answer is this:

Even Sheldon’s friends try to change Sheldon, and Sheldon doesn’t seem to do himself any favours in that respect. There is a lot more focus on how weird, quirky and riddled with disorders he is, it makes me feel like they’re saying “Sheldon is asexual BECAUSE of the rest of the way he is.” Where as with Sherlock, I don’t get anything like that from those portrayals. Sherlock doesn’t abhore company, touch or even other people, he just hates idiots and stupid mistakes and people who can’t see what is obvious to him. Watson might try and help ground Sherlock, he is certainly a liason between The Rest of The World and Sherlock Holmes, but rolls with the punches. Holmes says something callous, and Watson understands WHY he’s said it. He probably won’t agree, he might try to tell Holmes it’s not acceptable behaviour, but he still treats Sherlock with respect and kindness. And most of all, when relationships become a focus within the stories, the films and the shows, I get the feeling that they’re saying “Sherlock is a genius who can’t stand idiots. He is ALSO Asexual.” They are not connected. It somehow, very subtly, seems to have a very good positive look on Asexuality, without explicitly saying so.

The third person I know of that’s said to be is Lady Gaga. I have no opinions what so ever on her portrayal of an Asexual to the public eye. If she is asexual, then she seems at least to be a sex-positive one. The problem I have, to be honest, is… she’s a very big attention seeker and she says a lot of stuff in interviews that seem to be said just for shock value. Here is this provocatively dressed singer, sings about relationships with people… saying she’s asexual. It doesn’t add up, but maybe that’s a good thing. Stops some stereotypes or pre-conceived ideas in their tracks. But she reminds me of this friend I once had who was a compulsive liar. He always wanted attention and he would come out with the thing that would give him the most attention at that time. For a while, he was openly gay. Asexuality is something that is gaining in visibility. I wouldn’t say it’s an “In-thing”, but more and more people are becoming aware of it and though they might not know anyone, they recognise that it is something that a lot of people are and know that it’s sometimes considered a “controversial issue”, due to people being disbelieving about it.

So being a famous singer who thrives on getting attention for being “out of the oridnary”, what could make you seem more out of the ordinary? Why, being part of a minority that is just gaining awareness. It’s passed the “Whaaaaat is that?” phase, it’s moved onto the “We’ve heard about it, but we don’t believe it” stage and it’s just the perfect time for someone to voice their asexuality without too much of a backlash. If you’re a famous person anyway. There’s always good lawyers on their side…

And if she isn’t really asexual, I think we as a minority sexuality could face a very big backlash. We are, comparitively, in the stages homosexuality was in the 70s and 80s.

And that’s all I have to say for today. I welcome discussion on this entry and anything I’ve said, but I can’t actually reply to comments individually, so please keep checking back for responses on future updates.


Asexuality Awareness

Monday 24 October, 2011

Today marked the start of Asexuality Awareness Week.

This is my first proper blog post ever about the subject, in fact it’s the first time I’m publicly acknowledging asexuality personally, so I’m a bit nervous about this. Please bare with me.

So, Asexuality. Also called Non-sexuality and on one memorable occasion, “Anti-sexuality”. I think maybe all three of these can be accurate, but not interchangably so and definitely not exclusively so. That’s one thing about Asexuality, it’s all a bit varied. And it’s not to be confused with the scientific term that means a biological ability to procreate by itself. Thank you, Anonymous Friend in 2009 who asked me “What? Like Godzilla?”

No. Not like Godzilla. Nor like the more common comparison, an Amoeba.

In simple terms, it basically means “I have no desire or natural inclination to have sex with you or anyone else.” It should be that simple, but then people get involved.

In not-so-simple terms, the default line is still there but people vary and what it can mean is “I have no natural inclination to see you in a sexual way, but I will have sex with you for your sake anyway because making you happy would make me happy.” and/or “I have a mild natural inclination to see you in a sexual way and desire you as such, but not all that often. The feeling comes and goes, really.”

Lots of people take offence to this and I honestly don’t understand why. Would a woman be offended if a man said “Sorry, you are very good looking and lovely, but actually I’m gay”? No. She’d probably be embarrassed.

If someone has acknowledged being asexual for a while, they have probably heard it all. “You haven’t met the right person yet”, “Well clearly they mustn’t have done it right”, “Maybe you’re gay?”, “You’re just immature and you need to grow up”, “Could it be depression or a hormonal imbalance?” and even worse, “Well, you have all of these other issues, maybe this is another one of them.”

Actually, no, even worse is the people who insist that if an Asexual has never had sex, then how do they know they don’t like it.

Let me tell you something. I’m 100% sure that I don’t want to jump off a cliff and free-fall to the ground, and I don’t need to do exactly that to know so. Just because Adrenaline Junkies think that it would be a good idea doesn’t mean we should all have an interest in jumping off cliffs and free-falling to the ground. Not everyone has the interest, not everyone is built for it, and the same goes for sex.

I don’t understand why people don’t understand this. I’m actually pretty lucky that I don’t get much said to me in this regard. That’s because when I’m not too busy being on bed-rest and going back and forth to the hospital, when I do have some sort of social life, I play the shy and quite easily embarrassed card.
iI am actually quite easily embarrassed, but I’m more along the lines of Social Anxiety than shyness. There’s a difference. This is also related to my On-line Dating post. All in all, it’s nobody elses business. If I have something I’d like to share, I will share it.

But back to Asexuality.

There are, of course, some asexual people who do have sex. They’re usually considered Grey-As or Demisexuals. Usually there needs to be a bigger investment involved for these people to have sex**. This doesn’t negate the whole existence of Asexuality. Nor does it impose on heterosexuality or homosexuality. This is just comparable to cutting your hair! Some women are more comfortable with longer hair, some women are more comfortable with shorter hair, some women go with a degree in between and some women make a conscious effort to grow out their hair as long as possible before making another conscious effort to getting it all cut off.

I’m not in anyway trying to trivialise the issues of Asexuality, by the way, i’m just trying to convey how sometimes a sexuality is just about feeling right about yourself and how sometimes, feelings can change.

There are people who are Asexual and Aromantic. This is where they have no interest in having sex, or romantic relationships at all. Might it change? Well, I believe anyone’s sexuality can change. I believe there might be That One Exception for everyone***. It’s not just for TV Tropes or Fanfiction, it’s for real people too!

Then there are Biromantics and Homoromantics. This isn’t just an Asexual-only thing, but many people who are sexual and are homoromantic or biromantic, just lump their sexuality into the simple “Bisexual” or “Gay” categories, with a subheading of “Mostly interested in…”

And then there are people who are of some sexuality but are aromantic. These are all degrees of asexuality. Like I said, should be simple, but then people get involved.

According to surveys, only 1% of the population are Asexual. This is a very small amount of us. There’s barely anyone in popular culture to represent us, and when there are, there are usually other aspects of their personalities that seem to “excuse” their Asexuality.

It’s just not very fair. We do have varied personalities like “normal” people, most of us crave relationships to some degree, and a lot of us end up feeling very alone when everyone else leaves us to go off and be loved and sexed up couples with their “other halves”.

And whenever “we” complain, we seem to be given two typical responses.
1) Suck it up and deal with it, because this is how normal people are and you can’t expect everyone else to join you on your Asexual Raft
2) Go and try a relationship. If the “lack of sex thing” becomes a problem, then it’s your problem and you need to see someone about it. Because Everyone has sex and the Asexual is just too frigid.

It all reeks of how homosexuality was treated years ago. This old fashioned attitude that therapy is required, that it’s not normal, that it even goes against religion and what’s expected of us. I’d like to think that in twenty years time, people will be just as disgusted with this behaviour as they.

Really, we’re people too. We just don’t want to have sex.

Cuddles are usually welcomed though.

And that’s my contribution to Asexual Awareness Week.

(How did I do?)

** – I’ve had some comments and whilst I’ve made some changes to this post to impove the wording of some things I meant to say but didn’t say quite well enough, I think one of the commenters made something clearer than I ever could. So to avoid actually stealing this person’s explanation and using it to sound enlightened, I’ll link here to the comment. It explains and expands on what I meant by Usually there needs to be a bigger investment involved for these people to have sex

*** – In response to another comment, I’d just like to take a minute to explain that i’ve worded myself terribly here and said pretty much the opposite of what I meant. And I understand why it’s come across that way. What I meant, really, is that Some People Might have an exception, along the lines of Fluid Sexuality, and if, say an Aromantic Asexual, did find someone that was their exception, then that doesn’t negate their life long sexuality. It in no way means that other people were right and that the person just needed to wait for “The Right One To Come Along” or that they’ve been in denial all this time about the sexuality they were saying they were. It also doesn’t mean that, if they do apply a new definition to themselves, that they are automatically compatible with this so called Exception.

What I meant, is that a person might find themselves feeling a different way about someone, just one single someone, and that what they feel might be within a different part of the sexuality scale. They might still be Aromantic, they might still be Asexual with a different Romantic inclination. It doesn’t mean it’ll stick, it doesn’t mean what they feel is exactly the same as what other people feel when they feel similar things.

I’m sorry that I can’t articulate what I mean very well when it comes to this issue, but that really is the thing about Asexuality. It’s very varied and complex and complicated and even the simplest things can cause people to get tongue tied and seemingly talk in contradictions.