Life By Kristen

Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it. – Little Women

Archive for the tag “entertainment”

Cutting the Cable Cord

Back in 2011, I cut cable for a purely monetary reason. I was handling a huge mortgage on my measly nonprofit salary as my divorce was going through and a lot of things were deemed ‘luxury’ and had to go. But the decision to cut the cable cord was definitely one of the best I’ve ever made.

It started as a necessity to makes ends meet, but it ended up being a decision that has changed my habits immensely. Prior to quitting cable, I more often than not spent my nights after work in front of the TV aimlessly watching whatever was on or even worse, some horrible reality show of D-list celebrities letting cameras into their lives. I rarely watched PBS and neglected reading, watching documentaries or independent movies in favor of watching The Wedding Planner or whatever random cable movie was on  for the 30th time.

Post- cable, I found much better and enjoyable alternatives for my viewing entertainment. I used an over the air antenna for local channels and upped my Netflix account to include instant viewing and 2 DVDs at a time. I started reading more and find myself now often spending an entire night without even having put the television on at all for anything. This past fall, I added basic cable again to get a few more channels than what my antenna could offer to me. My house is at the bottom of a  hill so sometimes with wind or storms the antenna didn’t work, which was most frustrating at times and being super into Downton Abbey, I wanted to insure PBS coverage on Sunday nights during the winter. The basic cable package only was $20 a month, but I found that because my habits had changed, I still wasn’t watching any of the channels still. After I was given a wonderful iPad as a Christmas present from my aunt, I spend much more time watching things in bed or on the sun porch, further eliminating the need for the cable. I kept a diary in April to see how often I was using the television for anything other than DVDs or Netflix— in the whole month ( minus the time I was in Holland), I turned it on to watch an actual TV show only twice. The decision was easy to get rid of the cable again.

And now, I’ll ever look back. A few weeks ago I babysat my friends’ son while they were at a wedding– in the eleven hours I was at their house, I watched a Red Sox game and then the Mad Men marathon on AMC. Didn’t change the channel once or even do a whole lot of channel surfing to see what their satellite TV could offer me. My entertainment preferences have shifted hugely- I am catching up on PBS and BBC miniseries ( if you haven’t seen Sherlock with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, you’re missing out- I can’t believe I didn’t see it until now!), watching a lot of documentaries, and finally tackling the huge movie list I have. I’ve re installed the antenna on the television to get local news, but in the two weeks it’s been up, I haven’t even done that.

Before, I used the television as a crutch to avoid thinking and feeling. Sure, there are still days when I’m exhausted and come home to watch a few episodes of The West Wing instead of reading a book or writing, but it’s something I’m choosing to watch because I enjoy it and it is interesting to me, instead of just putting something random on to pass the time to bed. It’s entertainment, not escape.

If you’re thinking about cutting cable, it’s not as difficult as you think it will be! Try not using it even for a weekend and I think you’ll see what a difference it makes in your every day, plus on your bottom line!

Oscars 2013

What I loved about the Oscars: Ben Affleck. Joseph Gordon-Levitt singing and dancing, as well as some other random singing and dancing celebrities.

What I disliked about the Oscars: Just about everything else.

When I was a kid, staying up to watch the Academy Awards was a big deal for me. I was never allowed to stay up for the entire ceremony, but even being allowed to watch TV past my usual bedtime for even an hour was a special treat. Back then I would record the end of the show on VCR and watch the best parts over and and over again.  The dresses, the celebrities, the tributes, the heartfelt speeches- I loved it all.

I’ve hosted a few Oscar parties over the years and attended my fair share too. This year a weird weekend illness combined with a weekend long migraine left me on the couch in my pajamas alone this year, which considering how anti-climatic and uninteresting the show was this year was a good thing since I was able to be somewhat productive during boring times and commercial breaks.

What I did do was stay off of Twitter during the awards show because the amount of snark out there during the show makes me both equally mad and sad. I don’t care enough about half of what people are wearing or what their speeches say as much as the excitement over recognizing the best of movies from the previous year. I don’t get why people have such a hatred of one person or movie over another and why if someone does in fact like someone, why the rest of the Twitter world feels the need to attack that opinion too. That’s just my perspective and one of the reasons I resisted Twitter for so long because of all the negativity I think it has the possibility to support.

Overall, I thought the show was dull and disjointed. Until Ben Affleck did his acceptance speech at the end, I wasn’t quite drawn to any aspect of the show except for the random singing and dancing in the beginning. Even as a lover of musicals, I thought the whole Chicago, Jennifer Hudson, and Les Mis thing was a bit self-serving to the producers ( who were also producers of Chicago) and less a celebration of movie musicals– and if it really was a celebration of that, why not include something not from the last 10 years? I didn’t think there were any surprises in terms of winners and no one dress really wowed me all that much either, though to be honest, some gals like Charlize Theron could wear a trash bag and look amazing.

And while the whole William Shatner thing in the beginning was the epitome of random, I couldn’t agree more with his idea that Tina Fey & Amy Poehler should host the Oscars…or really just about anything ever.

My Adoration for Musicals

I love musicals- movie musicals, live theater- any way I can get them.

Last night, I went with my mother to see Catch Me If You Can– The Musical- at the Providence Performing Arts Center. It was great fun and very entertaining- I highly recommend going to see it if it comes to a city near you.

My love of musicals comes from my mother, who at an age so early I can’t remember quite when, introduced me to the amazingess that is The Sound of Music. I remember when I received the 2 tape VHS of the movie for Christmas one year- I watched that movie over and over again so many times. It was the first of many movie musicals I would own and devour like ( in random order and not an exhaustive list!) Singing in the Rain, A Chorus Line, Grease, State Fair, and White Christmas. I generally don’t purchase DVDs any more but every now and again an old movie musical classic will be released on DVD and I snatch it up for my endless viewing enjoyment.

This love of movie musicals led my parents to buy me tickets to see The Sound of Music on stage when it came to Providence in the early 1990s, with Marie Osmond as Maria. I was mesmerized by the live acting, the amazing singing and dancing. It wasn’t my first time seeing a live play or dance ( I believe my first was a performance of The Nutcracker in Boston at the Wang Theater when I was 7), but it was my first musical and I loved every minute of it.

Throughout the years my mom and I would go frequently to the theater to see musicals and somewhere along the line, maybe when I was in junior high or high school, my mother decided to become a PPAC season subscriber. Year after year, we would attend a six or seven musicals a year, seeing the best shows on national tours, many straight from Broadway. ( As an aside, the Providence Performing Arts Center does a really awesome job of bringing awesome, high quality theater to the region). There have been a few repeats and a few clunkers over the years; we’ve never left a show ( though have watched many do so) and more than a few have left us in tears. We stopped the subscription while I was away at college and began it again when I was in grad school- it really is a great time out for the two of us. My brother joined us for the season last year and every now and again we can strong arm my Dad with an extra ticket  into coming to a show or two.

In general, I prefer older/classic movie musicals to the current ones being made, while for live theater I find the pace and music of newer musical theater more entertaining, but honestly, I love just about all of them- even the bad ones! I’m not sure what it is about musicals that I love- they are my go to on a sick day and I watched my fair share of them over and over again when I was in the lowest times following my divorce. Not all of them have happy endings so it’s not that, but maybe it’s the singing and dancing that I appreciate, or just the creativity and work involved in putting all of it together. I think it is just about pure entertainment, enjoyment, and a bit of escapism- that in every musical every one on the street knows the steps and words to the song, that outfits involve lots of sparkles and sequins, and in general, it’s just about putting on a show for people to enjoy. And what’s not to like about that?

Any other musical lovers out there? I’d love to hear some of your favorites or musical ( theater or movies) memories!

Image via here

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