Adventures in Relocating: Losing My Mind over Home Entertainment Choices

I worry that I’ll come home one day to find Julie trapped inside my wire jungle

I have already lost two full days trying to solve this riddle, and there’s no end in sight.

In my current apartment, we have DirecTV, a DVR for recording shows, and a Blu-Ray player.  Our DirecTV package has most of the regular cable channels as well as HBO & Cinemax.  We have typically bought the NFL Ticket and MLB Extra Innings packages to watch football and baseball when they’re in season.  Our Blu-Ray player can stream Netflix Instant content.  Those are all of the options we have available at this time. While Netflix Instant is affordable at $8 per month, DirecTV rapes us to the tune of $124 per month.

With the move to the new place in LA only two weeks away, I thought this would be the right time to do a reset of my home entertainment packages to see if I can A) leverage different services and devices to have a broader choice in TV shows and movies, and B) cut out some significant costs from my current situation.

As I started researching this topic via the web and chatting with friends, I came across an endless amount of options: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO GO, Roku, AppleTV, iTunes, DirecTV, Comcast, On Demand, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, illegal downloading…

Don’t worry, this can go even one layer deeper in complexity when you start to consider the following: Netflix has its instant service and its regular/ship you dvd’s service; HBO GO only works if you have an active HBO subscription through a participating cable or dish provider, Hulu has free and plus services, Roku has four different devices with options on picture quality as well as having ports for your USB cable.  Not a single service seems to have “everything.”  For instance, Netflix Instant has almost every well-known TV show, but lags in making the newest seasons of shows available to you.  Hulu Plus’s claim to fame is that the newest episodes of currently airing TV shows are available the day after they air.  But their problem is they don’t have deals with all the major network and cable channels so some shows are missing.  Amazon looks awful for current TV shows but awesome for movies.

It also seems like if you were to create a spreadsheet that matched up all content providers (i.e. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon) with all the physical devices that the content can be streamed through (i.e. PS3, Xbox, Roku), your computer would probably explode.  Just like my head was about to do when I started to consider all these options.

Maybe the first thing I should figure out is what I really want access to. Ideally I want to be able to watch any new/currently airing TV shows close to the date that the new episodes actually air.  I also want to catch up on old seasons of still-airing shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and 30 Rock.  I need the ability to watch the playoffs of all major sports.  But I also need access to every Red Sox and Patriots game. Movies don’t matter as much: I just want the option to see most new movies that are coming out on DVD.

I know some people who have gotten rid of cable/satellite service all together and get their content exclusively from the Netflix and Hulu’s of the world.  This is the dream scenario, and I eventually want to get there. But here are three reasons why I’m reluctant to get rid of DirecTV/cable: playoff sports still have a lot of games on channels like ESPN, TBS, TNT; without cable I feel like I might miss out on something (there’s no logic to this feeling, it’s just an emotional reaction); and Julie will go ApeShit on me because all of the ridiculous shows she watches are on Food Network, MTV, E!, and TLC, and I don’t think she could get access to all of that content from another service.

I guess I’m leaning towards keeping DirecTV (but going back to the most basic package possible), and then buying a Roku to stream Netflix Instant and the MLB.tv package on my TV.  This will probably satisfy me for three months, at which time I will buy AppleTV, subscribe to Hulu Plus, buy a PlayStation 3, add HBO to my DirecTV package again so I can access HBO GO, and of course activate the NFL Ticket just in time for football season.

I’m exhausted from this talk we just had…any better suggestions for me?

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Adventures in Relocating: Dividing Our Possessions…Signed Balls and Erect Penises

This week’s agenda for me is simple: Pack up my entire life in as few boxes as possible, and clean the apartment to the best of my abilities so I can get my security deposit back.  If I lived by myself, this might be easier as I could make all decisions without consulting anyone else.  But I live with other people, and specifically my brother and I share a decent amount of the items in this apartment.  He’s at work all day so it’s tough to know what shared things he wants and what shared things I should have.  Clearly I’m going to take whatever I want and pack it up before he can object, but before I do that, I thought it would be fun to share these items with my readers in case anyone wants to make an argument for why I should or shouldn’t take some of these things.

First, of course, let’s discuss sports-related items:

My Dad got both of the following Boston sports-related memorabilia for all three of us brothers for Christmas gifts a while back:

A couple notes: Yes, the football is technically an Indianapolis Colts football.  But what’s important is that it’s signed by Adam Vinatieri.  I wish it was a Patriots football, of course.  But Vinatieri is a four-time Super Bowl Champ and future Hall of Famer.  While I don’t believe in curses, I do think the poster is pretty cool mainly because of the picture of Jason Varitek dry humping Keith Foulke when the Sox cliched in ’04. But if I’m allowed to choose between the two, I’m taking the football.  It’s probably worth some money compared to the poster, and as an unemployed sack of shit, I might need that money sooner than expected. You might be wondering, “what about the third brother?  Why doesn’t he get one of these treasures?”  Because he has the third thing that my Dad sent us…a Tom Brady autographed, practice-worn helmet….inside a plexiglass case!  Yes, this is clearly the best of the three gifts.  No, there’s not a legitimate reason why he gets the helmet instead of me or the other brother.

It’s times like these that I’m jealous of guys who live in apartments or houses that are larger than one bedroom and can have a room dedicated to all things sports.  I’m already battling with the girlfriend to allow some other Boston sports paraphernalia in the new apartment as well as my two favorite posters: a Jack Daniel’s one and a picture from the movie Blow.  I think I can get away with something that fits on a shelf or in a bookcase, but not another poster.  My plan is to steal the Brady helmet, but when that ultimately fails, I’ll graciously welcome the Vinatieri ball into my new home.

 

Next up is something my Mom got me and my brother for Christmas this past year.  Sure, it’s not as sexy of a gift as sports items signed by Boston legends, but look how practical this thing is for everyday use:

An air flosser!  Believe it or not, neither my brother nor I have been to a dentist in the nearly seven years we’ve been living in San Francisco. Relax, it’s not as gross as you think.  Whenever we go back to Boston, my Mom gets us into her dental office for a cleaning.  Besides the dental hygienist saying I have the world’s most beautiful teeth, she also frequently comments on my lack of flossing.  I guess when the hygienist starts flossing for you and your mouth looks like you just finished the 11th round of a boxing match, it’s pretty obvious that flossing doesn’t happen on the regular.  Mom tried to take the hard work out of flossing by getting this air flosser for us six months ago.  Sure, the box hasn’t been opened yet, but now that I can’t even pretend to get a dentist in LA (dental insurance is not in my budget), maybe it’s time to start using it.  I don’t think there will be any objection from my brother if I want to keep this item when we move.

 

I realize DVDs are almost completely obsolete at this point.  Or maybe more correctly I should say owning DVDs is obsolete.  With Netflix, HBO GO, Hulu+, illegal downloads, and other services I’m probably not familiar with, there’s really no point in buying a physical CD with a movie on it ever again.  But should we be keeping the DVDs we already own?

Our current collection has roughly 90 movies or TV shows in it, and I’d guess I don’t even watch one movie from those every two months.  So are these artifacts just going to take up space and collect dust?  Do we keep some of our favorites?  I guess we can easily separate out whose is whose, but what about the ones that seem to have snuck into our apartment and have no owner?  Specifically these gems that I found in our DVD case…

How these two atrocious movies got into our collection, I have no idea. But I’m going to be the nice guy and not fight my brother on it if he wants to keep them.  I’ll get over it.

 

Finally, no conversation around dividing our possessions would be complete without the most controversial item in our apartment:

Just the Egyptian fertility god Min hanging out with his erection on our mantel.  No big deal.

Wikipedia tells me that Min is the god of male sexual potency and orgiastic rites.  And believe it or not, this is another gift from Dad…this time a souvenir from his trip to Egypt.  Is it weird that my Dad would want to make sure we were having plenty of orgies in our apartment by giving us this statue?  Who cares?  What’s important is that it worked!

Since my brother is moving into an apartment that is far more likely to have orgies going on anyway, I think I’ll take my buddy Min down to LA with me.