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How To Maximize Your Enjoyment of Netflix Instant

How To Maximize Your Enjoyment of Netflix Instant

Doesn't look so tough


So my grand return to posting regularly hit a snag when I realized I am tired as hell and still a lazy person, but I will try to add a modicum of value with a short post.  I recently detailed what a huge pain in the ass it is to decide on a movie at Chillyville these days (Editor’s note: technically it’s SOville, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it).  As part of my continuing contribution to the non-advancement of the species, I will make this selection process easier for you.

For one thing, you can basically just skip the movies entirely, unless you have a hankering to retry The Long Kiss Goodnight (held up about as well as Geena Davis’ breasts) or an underappreciated horror classic like Trespassers (full disclosure: I’m in this movie, so may be biased).  Don’t get suckered in by the fact that they list 75 movies in each mini-category (“Foreign comedies starring ex-athletes”) – you only need to go through those once – they add like one movie per 7-8 months on there, and it will be listed first.  So if you invest some time to glance through the detritus once, you don’t need to do it again.  Invariably they will have something that’s pretty new once every five weeks that fits in like nineteen categories, but most likely you will have already seen it (The Fighter).  Stick with TV shows and documentaries and just opportunistically pick off movies on Netflix as they fall in your lap.

(What the hell is wrong with Netflix marketing?  So they split out the streaming and the mail services, and decided to call the mail service Qwikster???  Shouldn’t that be what you call the streaming service?  Oh, that’s right, you need to preserve the brand, and streaming is ultimately gonna be the whole business.  Dumbasses – should’ve just called it Mailster.)


Sh*t I Told You To Watch 500 Times and You Never F*cking Listened To Me – Now They’re Gone and I Hate You

Friday Night Lights – On a scale of 1 to The Wire, I rate this show about 90% Wire.  (Or if you prefer more conventional scoring, it’s like The Wire without Sargeant Jay, the large-but-not-quite-jovial fellow.)

Party Down – There is literally a zero percent chance you will not love this show.  It’s pretty close to perfect – great characters/writing, great acting, creative liberties allowed cable shows (aka, boobs).  I have watched it three times, it’s hilariouser every time.  Seems cynical, turns out to be sweet – sort of like a cinematic Blow Pop (okay, that analogy doesn’t really work perfectly because both parts of a Blow Pop are sweet, but it is surprising.  Maybe it’s more like a Tootsie Pop).


British Shows You Probably Could’ve Watched at Least Some of on BBC America, but Who Has Time To Flip Through All 1031 Channels?

The IT Crowd – I’m not a huge fan of traditional British humor like Monty Python and Mr. Bean (the latter is a joke, I hope), but I do enjoy quite a few British sitcoms.  They either push the Standards & Practices further than in the US, or British people just don’t really give a sh*t about sexual, um, innuendo isn’t the right word…maybe frankness?  Actually, The IT Crowd isn’t all that dirty, I’m more thinking of Coupling – also a Netflix Instant show, but it’s a bit older and has already even had a failed US version – but it is borderline stupid.  (One of SO’s British friends on hearing we watch this show: “It’s rubbish.” Also, it had a U.S. version starring Joel McHale, but the pilot never even made it to air.  Good thing, he is about as wrong as possible for the role of Roy – perfectly played here by the cop in Bridesmaids.)

The show is basically what the title says, it’s about a couple of IT nerds and their boss, who isn’t quite a nerd but she isn’t quite as cool as she’d like to be either (and she knows nothing about computers).  There are goth vampire dudes, lawsuits stemming from bottom kissing, and transgendered misunderstandings.  The creator, Graham Linehan, should be given credit for the fact that even Bin Laden loved The IT Crowd.

Pulling – Almost like a UK version of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia – largely despicable characters doing generally despicable things.  That might be a little harsh, despicable’s probably too much.  But they are not great people (unlike me – I’m at home down south and haven’t had any alcohol for a week.  It’s like f*cking Leave It To Beaver up in here).  It’s about a chick who dumps her fiance and then struggles to find happiness (I realize it doesn’t sound like a Chilly show, but there is a lot of boozing and debauchery in here).  The best part of the show is no doubt her ex-fiance, Karl, who manages to elevate the role beyond funny sad sack.  Typical UK show, 12 total episodes, not a huge time investment.  Worth it.


Beloved US TV Shows That Both Had Dave Foley or That One Red-Haired Chick (Note: May Be Inaccurate)

Arrested Development – Given all the recent fanfare about the AD movie and new episodes, I would be remiss not to include it here.  Probably all the comedy dorks will have already seen it, but worth revisiting before its triumphant (and I’m sure low-rated and poor-box-officed return).  A nutty family does nutty things.  (Okay, I am shocked that Dave Foley was never on this – he’s had at least a guest stint on every sitcom for the last 15 years.)

NewsRadio – An incredible cast of talented actors does nutty things.  Important note: Netflix Instant only has the first three seasons, so it’s all Phil Hartman.  No one wants to see the Lovitz ones – there’s a bunch of ominous stuff in here though that is sad in light of what happened to Hartman.  Also a bizarre reference to former Pantera guitarist Dimebag Darrell in one sequence where Lisa is a VJ for a day, who was also murdered – on-f*cking-stage – at a concert in Ohio in 2004.  If you can get past the Hartman tragedy (and the fact that many people think Andy Dick got his wife back on drugs) you will find that these shows really hold up.  Great for watching on the iPad before bed.


Documentaries About Vicious Animals That You Should Not Watch Just After Eating

Wolverine: Chasing the Phantom – I learned that wolverines are not yellow and blue, that they can survive off just animal bones for a winter, that their back feet land further ahead than their front feet while running, and that they are adorable.  Cool show.

Eternal Enemies: Lions and Hyenas – I learned that hyenas are f*cking disgusting – siblings kill one another just to prove who mom should like best (they may even eat the loser, I blocked several parts of this from my memory – also, both sexes have penis-like protuberances), that male lions can do some serious damage when pissed off and not to get attached to any character in this show because they all die.  Hey, a cute lion cub.  Is that a huge f*cking scorpion over there???  Is that f*cking scorpion eating that baby lion?!?!?  This is more unsettling than Human Centipede (First Sequence), but somehow pretty entertaining/depressing.  You will be glad you’re not a f*cking male hyena after watching, though.  So there’s that.




How To Be An Idiot

How To Be An Idiot

There are an infinite number of ways to be an idiot.  Here’s one recently tested approach:

1.  Plan trip to Africa.

2.  Review several “Things To Do To Prepare For Your Trip To Africa” checklists

3.  Notice item “make copies of your passport”

4.  Laugh at notion of nervous nellies making copies of their passports

5.  Night before departure on massive international flight/torture method, decide to have a few drinks with old colleagues

6.  Have a few more drinks

7.  Around midnight, decide it’s time to go pack for 11:35 AM departure

8.  Laugh at how easy packing is and how fussed people generally get about it

9.  Make some burritos in advance of a 1:30 AM showing of the penultimate So You Think You Can Dance

10.  Go to trusted black box that stores all important personal documents

11.  Realize passport not in black box

12.  Look in SO’s purse, the only other place passport has ever been placed

13.  Commence foundation-rumbling search of every square inch of apartment

14.  Eat desultory burrito, halfheartedly listen to Cat Deeley as realization sinks in

15.  Start making Hail Mary phone calls to last airports visited re: lost passports at 2:30 AM

16.  Explore government website to see what the turnaround time is for new passport

17.  Realize this process may take two days, ruining vacation

18.  Cry softly into pillow as you realize you are going to get max 1.5 hours sleep

19.  Commence epic journey to government offices to seek out new passport

20.  Conclude that you are, in fact, an idiot

The astonishing thing is, I had a new passport in hand by 11:55 AM.  If, like 98% of all flights I’ve taken in my lifetime, the flight was delayed a modest two hours, we don’t miss anything.  As it was, we started our trip a day late, and I know have a passport photo that looks like I ate Jabba The Hut and several meat lovers pizzas after a three day bender.  (Seriously, I’m somehow rocking a triple chin – what the fuck?  Am I really that fat?)

The trip got off to an adrenaline-charged start, to say the least.  We are leaving Cape Town today to return to NYC and have a brutal flight schedule ahead of us, with little margin for error.  We could easily become ex-pats by nature of being stranded here.  The upside is, everything seems pretty cheap thanks to exchange rates; I can apparently get a condo on the water for the same amount I might drop in an ill-advised Borgota run.

Will get back to the normal routine shortly.  For now, please enjoy this photo of a big fucking lion.

A little too much srirach on his impala nuggets
He put a little too much sriracha on his impala nuggets


How To Eat at a Fast Casual Mexican Restaurant

How To Eat at a Fast Casual Mexican Restaurant


As a way of giving a little something back, I will occasionally offer some simple tips for how to do things, so that the world will be a more efficient, less annoying place.  Given my penchant for burritos, I have noticed some sub-optimal ordering practices as I visit the Qdobas, Chipotles and (if heaven would only grant them in NYC) Anna’s Taqueria’s of the world.

Speaking of Anna’s, my love for it/her/them is well-documented by anyone who has ever had the misfortune of having an actual conversation with me.  Two years ago, when I went back to Boston for B-school recruiting, I realized they had put an Anna’s in at the Dome area of MIT.  Good lord – if that had existed when I went there I probably would have actually gotten my “daily trips to Anna’s” over 2.0x (instead I settled for a measly 1.87x).  We landed in Boston pretty early, like 9:00 AM and I had the cab take me directly to Anna’s.  We were interviewing in our offices in Boston, where I would have access to a refrigerator.  I ordered six chili verde supper burritos – double meat, double cheese, no beans, no salsa, extra hot sauce.  Damn, I wish I was in Porter Square right now.  So I have these five huge foil-wrapped logs in my briefcase for the flight back – which led to quite a bit of attention from security, as apparently foil logs scream narcotics more than pork in green sauce.  After three rectal exams, I was confirmed to be balloon-free and allowed to go.  Worth it?  Of course, even reheated those were deeeelish.

Also, So You Think You Can Dance is back.  In probably the gheyest sentence I have ever committed to electrons, this show is a must watch (particularly given summer programming lameness).  I hate Dancing With The Stars, but this show is quite a bit different.  See, they aren’t (seventh tier) stars, they are wannabe dancers.  It’s pretty interesting watching people who yearn for a career where you make, what, $40k/year?  Sure, the winner of the show gets a little scratch ($250k, or $1200 after taxes), but this isn’t really the ticket to fame and fortune.  It might be the ticket to being a backup dancer for Ricky Martin.  There’s usually a couple of human interest stories, but that’s not really the draw, either.    The choreographers make the competition aspect challenging and compelling while the judges are funny, informative and are actually trying to be helpful instead of just firing off venomous bon mots.  Just try it, there’s another one of the audition shows tonight – if you hate it leave me a comment telling me I’m an idiot. /ghey


How To Eat at a Fast Casual Mexican Restaurant

1.  Walking in the door and getting in line

I should have covered this in my “How to Enter Things” primer, because there seems to be a lot of confusion on how to go about this.  Let’s look at this decision-tree style:

  • Do you know EXACTLY what you are going to order?  If so, proceed directly to The Line.
  • Have you been to this establishment before and become familiar with their offerings?  But do you also like to vary your order every time, instead of getting, say, a chicken pesto burrito every time?  If you need less than 30 seconds to confirm what you want, get into The Line if there is greater than a 30 second wait.  If there is a very short or no line, stand just to the side of the ordering line, ready to jump in when you make up your dumbass mind, but don’t impede the progress of those people in the category above, who know exactly what they want (a chicken pesto burrito, for example).
  • Have you never been to this establishment, or possibly any eating type place before?  Are you completely fucking stymied by the enormity of the task before you?  Is your first impulse to walk directly to the front of The Line and then stand there for 17 minutes, scanning/squinting at the menu while mumbling to yourself and preventing others from passing your fat ass?  If so, ask for a to-go menu, then go outside.  Peruse to your heart’s fucking content.  Only return to the restaurant when you fit clearly into the FIRST category above.  Thanks.


2.  Ordering

Knowing what you want to order is only about 1/8th of the battle here.  These places allow you a freedom of choice not often seen at any type of restaurant – you have a say in basically everything that goes into your burrito/bowl/taco.  This is a huge responsibility for even the savviest of us; for morons it’s much more curse than blessing.  From step one, you should be able to answer the most basic question involved in the order.  Say for example, you’ve spent your time wisely and have decided on a carnitas burrito.  You utter those magic words to the kind gentleman standing at the steaming device, and you’re on your way to getting some food.  But big decisions loom.  The first ones involve your preferences for beans and/or rice.  Then they’ll drop your carnitas on.  Then it gets massively confusing for most people.  

Once you get past the protein, beans/rice stage it gets kind of frantic.  They will try to slop all kinds of shit on your ‘to.  DO NOT STAND FOR THIS.  You control the pace of the process – this isn’t The Biggest Loser (your burrito is tipping the scales at 980 calories), and those burristas aren’t trainers pushing you to go ever faster, faster.  You have to be vigilant, loud and direct – NO FUCKING PICO!  (Given that I hate tomatoes and I hate onions, pico de gallo is the Dr. Doom of my edible rogue’s gallery)  I’m not suggesting you be too slow and cause a pileup, but in my vast experience I know that having them screw your food up will result in a start over which really fucks up The Line.  Couple of things: one, guacamole is always extra, don’t bitch about it, that’s a fact, it’s been that way forever; and two, don’t put your hands over the sneeze guard to point at what you want.  Do you really need to touch the sour cream to indicate that you’d enjoy having some on your burrito?

In a nutshell: take control of the ordering process, be attentive and proceed apace.  Keep The Line moving.  Keep your hands to yourself.  Guac extra, okay?


One can dream...
One can dream...



3.  Paying for your order

This is pretty self explanatory.  Errors here are pretty rare – know where you stand on drinks, chips and if you want one of those brownies that I’m pretty sure have been sitting there for eight months.  I’d go with no to the latter.  Yes, they accept credit cards (and seem to prefer them).  Interestingly, the way downtown NYC Chipotle changed all their prices a couple of years ago so that everything was an even dollar amount after tax.  During their uber-crowded lunch rush, they calculated that not digging around for coins would let them squeeze out 2-3 more customers per hour.


4.  Sitting down and eating

A couple of points of etiquette here: if you are walking in and there’s a huge line, don’t be a fucking douchebag and put your purse, bag, whatever down to “claim” an open seat.  There’s a natural flow to The Line, getting a seat ahead of time screws up this flow and is akin to someone from the future meeting their present self – the result could be catastrophic.  Also, it’s okay to take a bottle of Chipotle Tabasco to your seat, but if someone else asks for it, you need to surrender it freely.  It’s a community, after all.  

Enjoy your meal.  Then get out.  You see The Line?  Those people need somewhere to sit, go somewhere else to discuss how hard you rocked Tenjune last night.  And don’t throw the baskets away – they have to reuse those.