I Still Buy DVDs

Originally posted to Blogspot on:

March 30, 2009:

It’s probably unthinkable in financial times like these that one could do such a thing. With the rise of mail order rental houses like Netflix and the supplemental option of Red Box and any number of DVD clubs, it’s hard to imagine that anyone could want to shell out a whopping $19.95 for a DVD (or more if said individual splurges for a special 2-disc edition of anything) when these alternatives are so much more affordable.

And yet, I do such a thing. Fairly regularly. I’ve even made a hobby out of visiting Best Buy.

I used to be a junkie about it. To me, a visit to Best Buy was like going on vacation. There was even a time (when Best Buy was still new) that I’d call a friend just to rub in the fact that I was vacationing in some exotic locale (like Atlanta, Georgia), spending a fraction of that time at the location’s Best Buy. It was absurd, if not a means to capitalize on some really bad inside joke, and it continued for years.

And I owe a lot of that addiction to my DVD collection. If not for my incessant need to build upon it, I probably would’ve found a different place to find solace.

I admit that my initial reasons for buying DVDs (and VHS when that was still the main form of home entertainment) was to give myself enough time to watch it. The first time I saw Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, I saw it on VHS. As a rental. And I watched it, watched it again, laughed, watched it again…and eventually had to return it to the video store, disappointed that the fun had to end. And sometime later I rented it again…and it just seemed pointless to sink extra money into something that I’d rather have lying around the house. So when I was fourteen, I asked my aunt for my own copy of the movie. When Christmas came, the movie came with it, and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure became mine forever.

And I’m proud to say that nineteen years later, it’s still on my movie rack. If I wanted to watch it after submitting this blog, I could. Not even Netflix could offer me that luxury (unless I had planned on watching it after writing this blog…a few days ago). It was as true then as it is today. I wanted to own the movie because I never wanted to take it back to a video store. It probably saved me a lot of gas over the years.

But why should I keep adding to my collection when things like Netflix make the convention obsolete? Why should I give dust something new to cover? Don’t these special rental sites waive late fees now? Don’t they cost mere pennies a day? If I were to put DVD purchases on a scale with rentals, the cost alone would tip favorably in the rental corner. So why keep doing it?

When I consider my original purpose for this, that plan to make available whatever I wanted to watch whenever I wanted to watch it–without jumping into my car–I have to say that buying DVDs isn’t so bad. It’s true that the alternative is cheaper, but I must admit that my movie-watching moods change on a dime. There have been more than one instance where I was sitting at my computer writing a story, when I thought, Hey, I’m in the mood for Caddyshack. Fortunately, I also have Caddyshack on my movie rack, just a few titles down from Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. I can watch it any time. No gas or postage required. Just laughs, gophers, and Bill Murray ogling over old ladies. On demand.

Will I stop? That’s doubtful. While this troubling economy has inflicted its sickness onto my income, ultimately reducing my visits to Best Buy to a near standstill, I still think about the day when I can finally walk through those doors and buy my own copy of Quantum of Solace so that I can have another James Bond marathon whenever I have time to watch 22 movies in a month. I think about how nice it is to watch it without fear of pre-rented scratch marks or lingering germs related to salmonella when the last renter used it as a fried chicken coaster. Newness and undefiledness are two wonderful things.

But I certainly don’t want to knock the idea behind rentals. I know people who use Netflix, Red Box, and even go to rental stores. For them, the rental system works. And I totally admire the way rentals are handled now. I used to work for a video store back in the nineties, and I could never be a customer to the nineties again knowing how rentals are handled nowadays. But for me, rentals are wasted. I still have DVDs I bought more than a year ago that have yet to be watched. It’s not that I don’t want to; I just haven’t gotten around to it yet. If I relied on rentals, nothing would ever get watched.

So that’s why I can justify spending $20 on a DVD. I’m not crazy. I’m just time-conscious. And exacting. I prefer new things–not beaten hand-me-downs. I tend to avoid used DVDs, as they run a greater risk of being defective–like rentals. And that’s the way I enjoy movies at home.

Is it perfect? Of course not. While it doesn’t require gas or postage for the second viewing, it does require these things for the first. And if I only watch it once, I’ve wasted fifteen bucks. But one can never know when he’s gonna use a specific DVD, rented or bought, so it’ll always be a gamble. With movies like Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure, it’s a gamble that pays back tenfold (unless we’re playing with time, in which case I’ve flushed several days of my life down the toilet).

Its value really comes down to a time / cost / quality balance.

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The Return to Cafe Latte

Originally posted to Blogspot on:

March 30, 2009:

So, despite what I wrote three and a half years ago, it seems I didn’t do well in keeping up with this blog. I blame my neglect on Myspace, since I started blogging there back in March 2006 and more or less forgot about this place. But after giving up on Myspace (as I feel it gave up on me), and after finding a pay site that looks really cool, but way undershoots its alleged traffic (it’s supposed to be one of those money-making sites that I signed up with to get a free offer on something else, but judging by a couple evaluation sites, it gets barely 7000 hits a month, which doesn’t really encourage me any–certainly won’t make back the monthly fee), which I’m pretty sure I’ll have to ditch that, too, I think it’ll be fun to come back here. I’m sure my readership will continue to run an abysmal course initially, but perhaps with some advertising the readers will come.

Anyway, I’ll likely run the gamut of topics, so if you’re looking for a medley of non-related issues day-to-day, week-to-week, come back regularly. I’ll restart this thing officially with the post that I wrote for that other site, which I had put under the heading “The Occasional Movie Review.”

Note: I actually think it’s a shame that the other site charges so much for something that gets such little traffic, because it really is nice looking. I may want to remember that if I ever spring for my own website someday.

Facebook Notes Introduction

Originally posted to Facebook on:

March 17, 2009:

We’ve finally reached the original posting, which means if you’re reading these backwards, then you’re reading these in chronological order, which means you’re not at the end of a long road but at its beginning—at the place when I could never guess how many blogs would follow, or what lessons I’d learn (or forget) along the way, or how many tears I’d cry in the journey. And this is exciting because it’s like watching three years of history unfold. And if you’re reading them in import order, then each blog will have felt like a building block toward the one before it and you can see where each influenced the other.

And if you feel confused over that, I apologize.

I’ve since decided not to write on MySpace anymore. I thought readership was too low, comments were even lower, and I never really felt like my intention for joining MySpace was fulfilled. I originally signed up to promote some tie-in articles to a novel that I wrote in 2005, but the readership was so tiny that I found it discouraging and wasteful to keep up with them and eventually ceased writing them (the series was called “The News from the Panhandler Underground” and yielded 17 articles out of an intended 62). The legacy continued into my blogs, including those that I wrote with the hope of generating discussion, either to help me find answers, or at least to find out what others thought. When I only received discussion from the same two people over and over, I concluded that the broader audience I desired wasn’t out there, so I said enough was enough.

Honestly, I don’t feel that Facebook is gonna change anything in regard to audience. If anything, my blogs are now closed to strangers, which will keep readership almost non-existent. But at least now I can share things on my own terms and keep everything restricted to a more intimate level, which is my original intention for posting these anyway.

This doesn’t mean I’ve imported everything. There are still short stories lingering on the old site that I have no plans on bringing over here. There’s also a three-part essay on apostasy that I felt was too long for Facebook and a whiny post about waiting tables that I didn’t think was interesting enough to share with new readers.

But for all that I did import, I hope you guys will read them. Yes, there are eighteen articles. Yes, most of them aren’t short (though, some are, so don’t be afraid to go hunting for tiny treasure). Some are introspective, some are funny, and some reveal my occasionally frustrated (and intense) side. But I think there’s something to be found in each of them, something that might awaken a question you yourself may have, and something that may even challenge the way you look at each day.

I am far from perfect. I will never claim to be perfect. But I do think I’ve got something to share, and I never would’ve posted these (here or on MySpace) if I didn’t think someone else might benefit somehow, somewhere.

And there will be more journals (as “The Cat and the Hat” has proven), but I’ll be posting them exclusively here until something better comes along.

With that, here’s the introductory blog, which doesn’t really reflect the ones to follow, but will at least give you an idea what kind of style you’re in for.

Note (from 3/17/2014–exactly five years later): This was written after I had abandoned MySpace in favor of continuing my blogs on Facebook. But, thanks to equally bad readership, I abandoned blogging on Facebook almost immediately in favor of returning to Blogspot. The “introductory blog,” as mentioned here, is called “The Decline of Deep Thought.”

Cat and the Hat

Originally posted to Facebook on:

March 5, 2009:

A few hours ago I was in the midst of trying to fix my printer when I made a break for the kitchen. A few feet away, expressing not a care in the world, my cat sat by her food bowl giving herself a bath.

At first, rationale escaped me. I thought, “Why are you so lazy, cat? Why don’t you help me fix my printer?” And then the voice of reason took over.

“Cats aren’t made to fix printers, Jeremy. They’re made to sit around and lick themselves.”

I thought, “Fine, I’ll work on it myself.”

Now, I think the moral of the story is that I’m not made to fix printers, either, but here in lies my issue.

It seems we (and when I say “we,” I mean “people”) are constantly thrown into situations we aren’t made for. A year and a half ago I was hired to be a photographer, but now it seems my job has transformed into “telemarketing.” And I can tell you that telephones and I do not get along. Just last week someone had called back the studio and yelled at the manager because they couldn’t understand a word the caller had said. My response: “You shouldn’t have put me on the frickin’ telephone.”

Everywhere I look, I see this lopsided demand for business and ten thousand artists trying to fit in because no one in America wants to create an “art” job anymore. And it’s funny because these artists are miserable and these businesses are failing and they wonder why things are falling apart when they’re trying to stick a tiny hat onto a big head. Some people aren’t made for “business.” And it shouldn’t be a surprise that corporate America is falling apart when forty percent of its workers don’t know what the heck they’re doing (‘cause they’re artists) and the other fifty percent are too busy sticking their heads up their butts digging for gold to see that the other forty percent is trying to cram the wrong size hat onto their heads and killing customer service in the process.

I don’t know—I think I still yearn for a society that allows everyone to do what he was made to do and stop expecting unfitting people to do bring up the slack. When I scan Careerbuilder and similar sites to see an endless run of “fast-track marketing” jobs (which are all the same pyramid scheme with different names), or the multitudes of Catch-22 positions that don’t believe in “first chances,” it makes me wonder if such a dream is possible.

Would be nice to wake up one day and not dread the arrival of morning. It really would.

I think my cat is asleep right now, by the way. Curled up, purring, and staying far away from my broken printer.