Daily Archives: May 6, 2015

What is HBO NOW?

HBO NOW is the new stand-alone streaming subscription service which allows non-HBO subscribers to watch HBO content. I recently signed up for a free trial. HBO has not been part of our cable service for quite some time now, and I believe the last time we had it, the kids were still young enough that we were muting certain commercials during football games, attempting to protect their young sensibilities! So, HBO wouldn’t have been playing in our home anyway.

What I’m finding in general, so far, is that I’m responding pretty much like I did to House of Cards. Most of the drama series are a little too real and too depressing to enjoy. I suppose that speaks most loudly about where I am with politics (feeling pretty hopeless) and crime (why do we need hour after hour of being bathed in the depravity and death brought about by sociopaths), but I’m not finding these shows resonate at all with me.

I’ve not seen even one minute of Game of Thrones, but that seems to be all the rage these days. Just the little bits I have read about it here and there are pretty horrifying. Bloody massacres, rape, incest? What is happening to us that we find this type of programming compelling?

Sure, the acting in these shows is extremely high quality. One show I did enjoy, and also saw elsewhere, was Enlightened, starting Laura Dern. But, that show was very different from much of the fare that HBO serves up.

So far, I have tried at least one episode of Angels in America, Angry Boys (only made it through five minutes of one episode), Big Love, Boardwalk Empire, Bored to Death, The Comeback (has potential, I think), Doll & Em, Five Days (in conjunction with BBC — only five episodes; watched the whole series), The Newsroom, Sex and the City, and True Detective.

Now, I’ve watched HBO’s The Wire from start to finish, five seasons. It’s all about the drug trade in Baltimore and the police who patrol, arrest, harass, and do what they can to work in such an environment. So, it’s not like I won’t watch a show that has intensity, blood, and darkness in it. But the sheer volume of shows that just pour out death and darkness is really making me wonder what we humans are doing.

What kind of impact is watching these shows having on our young people? Our old people? Our middle-aged people? Do people have any hope anymore?

I wonder what it would take for our culture to roll back the tide of filth and violence. I suppose the first question I need to answer is what result do I want from what I read and watch? There’s a bible verse that says “. . . whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” Whatever one thinks about the bible, one could probably agree that we might be transformed if we began to focus on what is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy.

I’ve given this post a couple of days to sit and settle. While the previous paragraph is all true, many of the books and movies that have impacted me most deeply include pain, suffering, and redemption. So, perhaps the key feature for me is redemption.

By redemption, I mean finding a purpose in the suffering, finding a HOPE in the midst of the difficulties. Some of HBO’s fare has those elements. Some does not. There’s a difference between just wallowing in mud, and looking around for a reason and way to get out of the mud.

We can’t deny the reality of the mud, but we can decide how much time we’re going to spend covered in mud from head to toe.

Belated Thoughts about Belatedness

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”  Dr. Seuss

If you are in my IRL circle of people whose birthdays I recognize, you may have noticed that I am nearly always late with the sentiments. If you have not yet joined that group, let me tell you, I am almost always late.

My son turned 21 the other day. I’ve known now since April 28, 1994 that he was going to be turning 21 on April 28, 2015, and even with 21 years advance notice, I still couldn’t manage to get anything in the mail. What to heck, as the kids say these days.

One reason I am late is I am always looking for the perfect gift. Well, looking might be too strong a word. I am always waiting for the perfect gift to magically fly into my house, wrapped, packaged with postage applied, in time to get there for the birthday. As I seem to do in a few areas, then, I procrastinate about it because the perfect gift doesn’t exist.

Another reason I am late is that I find gift-giving to be completely nerve-wracking. Maybe this is just an extension of the perfection excuse, but I don’t know anyone who needs another thing in their lives, including my own children. We are surely in the top few percent of wealth in the world, and we have everything we need, even though we can always find more things that we want.

I have serious baggage about gift-giving. And receiving. There are a few gifts that I have given or received that have been spectacular, and some of them have even been free. My graduating-from-college-THIS-WEEKEND daughter (hashtag ass PANTHER) created “Desperaux’s Recommendations for Their Mother on the Occasion of her Birthday,” which I will always treasure. That’s just one example. When I give someone something, I want it to be memorable, special, unique, and especially for them.

I believe where I get most hung up is in projecting onto the receiver what I imagine their response will be to my gift. I often imagine them being disappointed. And again I say, WHAT TO HECK.

Then there’s the aspect of who to give to, and which “insert category here appreciation day” requests to respond to. And then there’s Christmas for all the people, and end of the year for all the people, and that’s on top of birthdays and family Christmas and baby births and weddings.

Years ago, I made quite a few of the gifts I gave. To me, a handmade gift is pretty dang special. But, you put procrastination together with fear of disappointing someone with my and their champagne and caviar tastes and it’s a wonder I ever get anything given to anyone at all.

Let us then consider implementing some of the most excellent things I have learned to see if we might transform this little nuisance/annoyance/monkey on my back.

Habits and beliefs that contribute to me being late:

  1. Thinking that the day before or the day of is soon enough to start looking.
  2. Believing that no gift I give will be good enough.
  3. Acting as though the perfect gift exists if only I think about it hard enough.
  4. Being double-minded about wanting to vs having to.

Questions to consider:

What if I declared today the day I am no longer compelled to give gifts just because everyone else is? No, that won’t work.

What if I decided that I want to give gifts? No, that’s not really the case right now.

What if I took time to really think about the recipient, and consider what I might do for them that would communicate how I feel about them? No gift I could ever buy would be able to equal how much my people mean to me, but I can still give something that says thank you, or i love you, or happy birthday, or bon voyage. What if I were to come up with some standard things, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel every single occasion?

Ok, so I’ll get some gift cards and keep them on hand as the perfectly imperfect gifts that I can give if the perfect gift doesn’t magic carpet its way into the house in time. Because, really, being late every single time just doesn’t serve anyone, and I can have fun with this. Enough with the dread, and procrastination, and perfection!