Jewish World Review Dec. 11, 2002 / 6 Teves, 5763
A latecomer joins fellowship of the DVD
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | Like most people on Nov. 5, I was glued to my TV. Unlike most people, I wasn't watching the election results roll in; I was watching a movie - a very long movie - called "The Fellowship of the Ring."
Besides being the only person in America who did not catch this movie last year in a theater, I was probably the only person in America that night who was watching his first movie on a DVD player.
I had resisted considerable peer and family pressure to buy a DVD player for several reasons, the foremost being that after 10 years of graduate and postgraduate study, I had finally mastered my VCR to the point that I could successfully record "Boston Public" close to 50 percent of the time.
Then it happened. While I was kicked back, enjoying a grainy videocassette recording of the previous night's "Everybody Loves Raymond," I heard a grinding sound and watched helplessly as yards of shiny brown magnetic tape unspooled onto the floor.
So off I toddled to the local electronics emporium, where I was greeted by a pleasant salesperson, Jim. When I told Jim I wanted a VCR, he got this sad, guilty look in his eyes like a doctor might get when he has to tell a snakebite victim that he accidentally dropped the last bottle of antivenin.
Guiding me gently by the elbow, Jim led me past the PlayStation 2 display, around the digital cameras and personal organizers, pausing briefly before a magnificent 50-inch Pioneer high-definition plasma TV that I could have afforded by emptying the boy's college fund and selling one of my kidneys. Finally, we stopped in a distant corner of the store, back where they stack the paper towels and cleaning supplies.
"That's all we have left," he said, pointing to a short stack of dusty boxes. "We don't get too many people asking for VCRs anymore; everybody's going to DVDs."
I would like to tell you that I bought a $2,299 Pioneer PRV-9000 DVD recorder/player with progressive scan, DTS and Dolby digital sound. But if I told you that, you would know I was lying. You would believe, however, that I walked home with a $56 DVD player made by a respected major manufacturer (Yugo, I believe) and that I was able to get it up and working with no more swearing than you'd find on the latest Eminem album.
Which is how I came to spend election night, and seemingly much of the next day, watching "Fellowship of the Ring" while our nation's future hung in the balance.
How do the two experiences compare? I can't really say. All I know is that if you've lived
through a season of nasty campaign ads, an attack by black-robed ringwraiths can seem
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