Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are sustaining me this winter.

buried cars

I don’t know about your neck of the woods, but here we are experiencing a snowpocalypse, as in over a foot and a half of snow in less than 24 hours, a sleet-thunder storm and crap road conditions everywhere.  Hence, I’ve been stuck home and watching tv in between bouts of shoveling.  With so much time on my hands this winter, I have been able to catch up and get started on some series that have been on my list for a while.


Orange is the New Black (Netflix) – I have no true sense of what prison life is like.  I imagine it’s pretty scary, bleak and boring.  This show is probably not an accurate representation but it is a very fun, and engaging show.  The ensemble cast is great and I especially enjoy the little interludes and subplots into back stories of how each woman came to be where she is.  Another winner from Jenji Kohan.

hemlock grove

Hemlock Grove (Netflix) – I saw this book featured in my local library and decided to read it before watching the series.  I have to tell you, it’s a very mediocre book and the series isn’t much better.  I had high hopes because I know good films and tv have been made from terrible books (Forrest Gump anyone?) but no amount of Lili Taylor and Famke Jannsen can save this.  And it’s not the acting.  The cast is just fine.  It’s just a terrible script with weird dialogue (taken from the book itself) and really shitty, boring, two-dimensional female characters in general.  They’ve made them a bit better for tv but still fell short.  At least in the series the two male “heroes” aren’t quite as annoying/boring as they are in the book.  Overall, the book reads like it was written by someone who really doesn’t like or understand women.  Also there are gaping plot holes and events and actions that are never explained at all/make no sense for happening, including the book finale (haven’t finished the series yet so not sure if it will be as lame and confusing).  The best thing about the show is the incredibly visceral scene where Peter sheds his man-face.  Best transformation ever (credit where credit is due: the author basically described it this way in his prose).  The author has collaborated on the series and added some more stuff in to kinda sorta help fill in the holes and fix what was so glaringly wrong, but on the whole, it’s a gigantic miss.

Amy Schumer

Inside Amy Schumer (Amazon Prime)- this is one funny, filthy girl.  Why was I not watching her before?  She has no problems abasing herself for the sake of a good joke and does a wonderful job poking fun at our stupid modern life, social interactions, and gender-based double standards.  Her show is also wonderful in that she shares the spotlight with other great comedians/comediennes.  I even missed her when she was on tour because I didn’t really have her on my radar yet.  I will not make that mistake again.


Dracula (Hulu Plus) – This is such a fun bit of well-acted pulp.  There is some nice complexity to the characters, a few wonderful plot twists and plenty of gore and sex.  I have always loved Rhys Meyers and hope that he can stay sober and continue the series because he’s fantastic and I adore watching him chewing the beautifully dressed scenery in this gothic costume drama.  Have to say, Jessica De Gouw’s Mina is kind of annoying, but part of it is also how the character is written.  She’s getting a little less annoying now that she’s admitted her love for Dracula.  Welcome to the dark side dear.


The Mindy Project (Hulu Plus) – Again, where the hell was I?  I loved her on The Office but for some reason it took a while for me to discover this show and how adorable and funny she is in the role.  I hope this show goes on for many years and gets to develop, a la Scrubs.  The writing is sharp with plenty of goofiness, and it’s also good to see Glen Howerton being funny without having to be a douche.  I feel bad for actors who play hateable characters because there’s always that mouth breather who sees them on the street and can’t tell the difference between reality and a character played on tv.

Stupid finance articles that don’t provide an accurate picture of what is really going on in America.


I saw this in a Yahoo News article this morning:

It was talking about the worst states for taxes and of course, New York topped the list.  The figures they quoted were:

Top State Income Tax Rate: 8.82 percent
Sales tax: 4 percent
Property taxes per capita: $2,280

These numbers are completely misleading.  Yes the state sales tax may be 4% but when combined with the city sales tax, it’s significantly higher.  For New York City, there’s a website that breaks it down and talks about how different consumer goods are taxed.

Take a look at these samples of city sales tax:

New York City– 8.875%

Buffalo – 8.75%

Congers – 8.375%

Ithaca – 8%

Liberty – 8%

Lake Placid – 8%

Greenburgh – 7.375%

Saratoga Springs– 7%

From this sampling and looking through lists of sales tax by city at this website, it’s plain to see that most of New York State is hovering around 8% sales tax.

Looking at New York State income tax rates for someone making $40,000 as a single filer, the taxed owed is $2,256.  Assuming all $40K is taxable income, that would give a rate of 5.64%  This seems like an awfully high percentage for someone making a less-than-middleclass salary (and yes, I understand that tax is calculated in brackets and the higher percentage rates only apply to the amount of income over the lower bracket).

lego home

Now on to property taxes.  Oh boy.  As a resident of New York, I know for a fact exactly what some of my neighbors are paying in property taxes.  Most are average middle class people with reasonably sized homes (no McMansions) who are pay between $8000 and $10,000 a year in property taxes for a moderately-sized  family home on 1 acre of land (2-3 bedrooms with parents and two children).  What is even harder to believe is that this amount is considered LOW for the area we live in.  When taking to the local assessor’s office, many of them have been told to suck it up and forget about a tax grievance because “Have you seen what your neighbor with the newly constructed McMansion is paying?!?!?  Stop complaining.”  I’ve heard that new construction in the area is often upwards of $15,000 a year in property taxes.

It really frustrates me that no one is reporting the facts of just how much people are losing from their hard-won salaries to try to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table.  What also bothers me is all the reports about the numbers of unemployed.  My parents always told me: whatever the reported percentage of unemployment or number of jobless, DOUBLE that number.  The jobless rates reported are only taken from the people receiving unemployment benefits so it will never capture people who are unemployed but no longer eligible for unemployment benefits, people who were in jobs that didn’t qualify them for unemployment when the job ended, or they are working but so under-employed (a day or two a week, working sporadically) that their income is negligible.

The reality is so much grimmer than is even being discussed and I can’t believe that articles like this pass for factual news.