Monday, July 03, 2006

Hello. My name is Lon. And I'm addicted to Netflix...

As many of you know I am a huge fan of Netflix. It is one of the few (very few) services I will promote on my blog that I don’t get paid for. One of the reasons I love it is because it’s one of those ideas that is so elegant the universe just had to think it up eventually. Think of those by-mail music-ordering clubs from Columbia House or BMG? Remember those? When you would pick off a selection of cassettes that you wanted, ten for a penny? Then the company would send them to you in the mail. If it wasn’t for the fact that the remaining contract was so absurdly expensive, those could have ruined my music shopping experience forever.

Let me ‘splain.

Starting about Junior High School I began to become a music connoisseur. Before that, I listened to all types of music and I loved it all, but some recessive music gene kicks in around 12 or 13 years old. I see it in my own son. I’d get lost in Record World for hours just browsing the music categories. Back then it was all about records. I could flip through hundreds of records mentally listing those I thought looked interesting. It was a history lesson in vinyl in every bin. I’d look at the album art, the liner notes, and the song lists… If I had a question about one of the artists, I’d seek out one of the sales associates and ask questions. Like some in the fine art community peruse the galleries, I was a music browser. I had to be discriminating because I had very little dough to spend. If my purchase wasn’t careful, I’d end up with a clunker, so I took my time. Not to say I didn’t go out on a limb once in a while. Some albums I bought just because of the cover art.

This was how I discovered The Cult, Billy Idol, Metallica and others before ever hearing them on the radio or in my clique. I was a shopper. My mother could get in a whole season’s worth of clothes shopping at the mall and I would still be only halfway through the store when she came to retrieve me. Record World was like a built-in babysitting service.

When I got a little older I began to discover the joy of reading. Around high school, I added another addiction to the mix: Books. This was before Borders and Amazon. I could only get my fix at B. Daltons or Walden Books. They were the perennial favorites. There were small local bookstores but being the suburban teen that I was, my life revolved around the modern town center, the mall. A trip to the mall would have to include an hour in each store, which I could do very easily. Again, having to be very discriminating, my purchases were of very choice books.

You would think that as the years passed I would outgrow this little addiction. Not true. As a matter of fact, with the passing years, my browsing grew. When I got my license, I could drive myself to any record or bookstore I liked and spend hours just looking around. Still, to this day, if I step into a bookstore or music store I know that I am not getting out of there in less than an hour if I’m not in a hurry. It’s like a time vortex. Those stores sucked hours from my life. I walk out, blinking in the painful sunlight, like some cave creature, pasty and waif-thin from my sojourn into the heart of my addictive darkness, with a plastic bag of music or books to add to the ever-growing pile. My junk is media.

Ever since I saw the original Star Wars, I was hooked on movies. Not just Science Fiction but every type of movie. Adventure, Romance, Drama, it doesn’t matter. I love films. But, until a few years ago, collecting movies was just too daunting a task to take on so I relied on rental places for my fix. I could, again, get lost in a local video rental store or Blockbuster just as easily as in any book or music store.

The trifecta of entertainment bliss: Movies, Books and Music. Ahhh, heaven.

I never got into buying and collecting movies on VCR tape like some other people. I just found tapes unwieldy and not easy to categorize. Too fat, too clunky, to plastic-y and just too breakable. Then G-d invented DVD and I was a changed man. Where before, my movie collection consisted of the original trilogy of Star Wars and the Queen-soundtrack Flash Gordon, now I was free to collect at will.

And I did.

My DVD collection is not as impressive as others, but it is better than average. Only, something was different. $9.99 movie bins, I could handle, but if I wanted to collect whole seasons of my favorite shows, well, that was just too damn expensive. I mean, how can I justify spending seventy bucks per season for Quantum Leap? Or Star Trek? What about all the shows I missed, like Babylon 5 or Stargate? The only moderately priced television show, of which I own every episode of every season, is Buffy the Vampire Slayer. But after spending hundreds of dollars on that, I was tapped. I couldn’t do it anymore. How can I watch TV if I can’t pay the electric bill? It was a conundrum.

Then came Netflix.

This was a lifesaver. The selection of movies and television shows is immense. They almost always have anything I want and they have the newest releases right away. Boy do I sound like a commercial. But it's true. For a small fee per month I have unlimited viewing. The mail service is exceptional and I never have to wait more than two days for a film to be shipped to me. It has destroyed the thrill of browsing my local Best Buy or Circuit City. I used to enjoy shopping in those places. Now I find myself, sitting in the parking lot wondering why I was about to go in. If I don’t have a specific reason to be there, a specific item I need to pick up, what's the point? My DVD browsing days at the brick and mortar stores were over.

But the best part of the Netflix service: The Queue. This is a great idea. I have literally hundreds of movies queued up. Hundreds! Probably more than 300! I surf their site for movies anytime I think or hear of one I’d like to see and queue it up. The queue is god. The queue is king.

Long live Queue.

And if I get a movie that I didn’t particularly like, I just return it and I don’t feel like I wasted my money. There has never been a service that is matches my love and addiction to browsing for titles with my diversity of tastes and selections. Imagine the same thing for other media. Imagine a place where for a very tiny fee you could go in and take out books, read them and then return them. Not only that you can get new ones as soon as you return the old ones. More than that, the selection is virtually unlimited. Can you imagine a place like that?!?!?!?



The Phoenix said...

I've thought about doing Netflix too. It seems like such a great service. Which plan are you on?

ObilonKenobi said...

I am on the 5 disk at a time plan. It's great because you can create an account for other members of your family and dictate how many disks they get. They create their own queues. A guy at work is on the 8 disk at a time plan.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I used to be addicted to Netflix until a little dirty trick of theirs called "throttling" (google it) caught up with me and now I'm convinced that Netflix or any other online service is not worth it if you are a very heavy user.

ObilonKenobi said...

I will look it up.