In light of the Christmas holiday, my brother got me an annual Xbox Live Gold Membership. For those of you unfamiliar with the soul-sucking power of console gaming, the main selling point of an Xbox Live Gold Membership is that you are granted the freedom to play video games with friends and family over the internet from the comfort of your living room.

And, thanks to a recent partnership between Microsoft and Netflix, it also allows users to stream available movies from their Netflix queue.

Sadly, I’ve yet to really engage in any first-person battles with any of my friends on the Xbox network – but my girlfriend, J, and I have been burning through our Netflix queue faster than our network can handle the bandwidth required to maintain the connection. Granted, not all Netflix films are available for streaming (due, I imagine, to copyright restrictions and whatnot), so we’ve been doing some extra digging through the Netflix library to find media that can be streamed.
And, for whatever reason, there seems to be an abundance of documentaries available for streaming.

Personally, I’d never really considered the possibility of voluntarily devoting my time to the viewing of documentaries on a regular basis. A couple of selections from the Netflix streaming library have recently changed that, though.

Terry Jones - Musician, Narrator, GeniusFirst and foremost, J and I have been thoroughly enjoying Terry Jones’ ‘Medieval Lives.’ Each episode focuses on a different class of people who lived during the middle ages and how the historical reality differs from modern stereotypes of these social groups. Jones’ presentation of the subject matter is typically hilarious.

Really, not bad for a guy who used to sit nude at an organ on public television, eh?

A Fistful of QuartersAlso, I don’t think I could possibly do justice to the work of art that is ‘the King of Kong: Fistful of Quarters.’ This documentary is the perfect underdog story, though with quite a few twists. Regardless of what you’ve heard, if you haven’t seen this film yet, you need to. IMMEDIATELY.

Hell HouseLast but not least, J and I watched something of particular interest last night: ‘Hell House.’ Most of the time, I tend to be a little leery of films that focus in on Christians as a whole because they are never objective in their portrayals – often leaning heavily in one direction or the other (see: ‘Expelled‘ and ‘Jesus Camp‘). ‘Hell House,’ however, was different. Throughout the entire process of watching this piece, there was no narration and I never got the feeling that I was being shown a manipulated version of the events being documented.

For what it’s worth, I think that this entire experience has been pretty enriching for me. I’ll never make the mistake of marginalizing the empowerment that women saw following the black plague in fourteenth century Europe, nor will I ever go toe-to-toe with a man like Billy Mitchell. However, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to keep from laughing at people who start speaking in tongues.

And that, folks, is the best you’re going to get out of me tonight.