Marijke Rowland

Rowland: An embarrassment of viewing riches

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and I’m watching it all on my smartphone.

It used to be so simple. There were three broadcast channels to choose from. The advent of more basic cable, premium cable, streaming services and the Internet have given us seemingly endless choices – and ways – to watch just about anything we want.

So that’s how on a random night I wound up watching “World War Z,” the Brad Pitt end-of-the-world zombie epidemic flick, on my iPhone suffering through a severe bout of insomnia. Yes, I’ve become the kind of person who watches entire movies on her smartphone – feel free to hate me. I hate myself a little.

But first, before the righteous hatred begins, let me explain how I happened into this predicament. Normally, I wouldn’t watch videos – let alone an entire movie – on my iPhone unless I’m trapped on a plane ... or in an airport ... or on a bus on the way to an airport to get on a plane ... or trapped in an elevator (in an airport or not in an airport).

OK, so there are more scenarios than I thought where I’d watch a movie on my iPhone.

Still, it’s the embarrassment of choices that we have today that makes it all possible.

You start with your basic TV. Turn it on, and you have live TV. Nothing good on your 800 channels? Push a button and look through On Demand. Still nothing good? Catch up on what you missed, find things you always wanted to watch.

But wait, like those late-night infomercials you no longer need to watch, you also can pull out your laptop or tablet or – if you have had your 13-year-old niece come over and hook it up – press a different button on your TV. Now you can try browsing Netflix. Or Hulu. Or Amazon Instant. Or YouTube.

And then, inevitably, after what seems like 12 hours of browsing fruitlessly on Netflix, you just give up and decide to watch a rerun of “Law & Order: SVU” instead.

But not this time. Sorry, Benson and Stabler, this particular night I was on a mission. I was feeling apocalyptic (certain unfortunate and tragic happenings in the news had probably brought on my need for life-affirming, brink-of-disaster fare) and felt only “World War Z” would do.

I checked my TV. Not on the schedule, not On Demand. I checked Netflix; yes, it was there. But, new predicament – I’m not in the living room and my bedroom TV isn’t hooked up to Netflix. Newer predicaments, my laptop is too heavy to watch in bed and my iPad isn’t charged. I know, these are some ridiculous first-world problems I’m enumerating. The above-mentioned hatred of me is still very much on the table.

So this, then, is how I wind up watching an entire movie on my iPhone on a random night suffering through a bout of insomnia. It actually wasn’t that bad. The movie, that is.

Elsewhere around the Scene:

Check out Hilmar native and “Glee” actress Dot-Marie Jones on Saturday on the Lifetime Movie Network series “The Haunting Of.”

The series, which features “psychic medium to the stars” Kim Russo, has celebrities tell their stories of firsthand experiences with the paranormal. This season previously has had episodes featuring Vegas legend Wayne Newton, former “Law & Order” star Elisabeth Rohm and Mötley Crüe frontman Vince Neil.

The show airs at 10 p.m. on LMN.

And, finally, check out the first show at the new Rock ’n’ Roll Warehouse from VMI Rocks.

The venue at 501 Bittrito Way in North Modesto will host A VMI Rocks Summer Tour show featuring 20 local bands from 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday.

The private music school works with musicians (from beginners to veterans) and groups them into bands based on compatibility to rehearse, record, make videos and play shows.

Tickets are $4 in advance, $7 at the door. Visit