DVDs Still Work for Me

Reader Contribution by Cam Mather

I live near the Village of Tamworth,
which is home to the greatest video establishment on the planet,
“Village Video.” Tim Kidd is the owner of Village Video. I have blogged
about Tim before because he is an integral part of our community. He is a
volunteer firefighter. This is very important in a small town. Probably
THE most important job. After renting videos.

But for me, Tim is awesome because I rent movies from him. Good movies. Great movies. DVDs that work, when I want them to!

sounds very simple, but I’m finding that technology makes something as
simple as watching a movie, which I started doing 25 years ago on a VHS
machine, increasingly complex and problematic. The quality of those
movies 25 years ago was abysmal, but at least they worked most of the

A while ago when we upgraded our satellite TV to high
definition, our provider “Shaw” gave us 6 free Pay-Per-View-Movies. It
sounded great! Six free movies! What an unmitigated disaster that was!
We don’t have our satellite receiver tied into our phone line (because I
have enough other challenges with our phone living off-grid) so I had
to order the movies over the phone. They charged us $1 for this, so
suddenly there was a cost involved with our “free” movies. I had to go
through about 57 layers of menus until I could finally start selecting
my movie. Eventually when it finally seemed ready to go, the automated
voice would say “Please hold while we confirm this order…” and then 10
seconds later another message would come on suggesting that I sign up
for the latest “Ultimate Gladiator Fight To the Death Event” for some
outrageous price. At that point I assumed that I had successfully
ordered a movie.

On two occasions we sat down in front of the TV
at their selected time to watch our movie. And then 5 minutes into it,
IT STOPPED! One Friday night we had actually made our pizza early so
we’d be ready at 5:30 when THEY decided to start the movie. And it
stopped! You know those video clips you’ve seen where someone gets
pissed off at the TV and they blast it with a shotgun? I was so ticked
off I was tempted to do that!

So Pay-Per-View doesn’t work for us.
Besides the fact that the ordering system is complicated,
time-consuming and ultimately didn’t work anyway, I don’t like being
told what time I can watch a movie. And I don’t like it when it stops
just after it has started. We managed to watch a couple of “freebies”
but we gave up on it pretty quickly. It sucked!

When we rent a
video from Tim, we start it when we want. We can stop it to make dinner
or to take a break. And hey, if it’s great, we can even watch it twice!
He charges the same price regardless.

People keep talking about
Netflix and all these great on-line movie systems. Friends of ours were
using it and discovered that from time to time the movie would stop and
they would get a “Buffering” error as the internet tried to get caught
up to the movie. That’s annoying. Sometimes the movie just never started
again. That’s infuriating. I’ve read that some internet providers are
actually restricting bandwidth to cause this because they can’t keep up.

we get together with friends, we often exchange lists of what movies
we’ve seen lately, what we recommend and what we would avoid. We find
that the friends who use Netflix for their movie viewing never seem to
have seen the latest movies. Netflix doesn’t seem to have anything
current.  They have to wait for a few years I guess until it’s cheaper.
You know, wait a few years until you have completely forgotten that you
wanted to see it or what it was about.

The beauty of a DVD is that
you can stop it as often as you want. On a Friday night, which is our
usual movie night around here, we sometimes stop a movie 7 or 8 times.
To get another slice of pizza. To get more Dr. Pepper. To get dessert.
To have a pee because I drank too much Dr. Pepper. To let the cats in.
To close up the chicken coop. To go out and look at the helicopter
flying over our house… Being able to start a movie whenever I want, and
stop it whenever I want, is a really nice thing. All this new technology
that allegedly makes everything seem so great can sometimes be a huge
step backwards.

Macleans Magazine this week (http://www2.macleans.ca/2012/05/09/the-dvd-is-hardly-dying/) has an article called “The DVD is Hardly Dying”
about how DVD rentals should be over now, but they’re not. Because
internet streaming isn’t all that great. And we all know, if we all
start watching all our movies on line, the whole big internet is going
to just give up and stop working.

There’s a great little video
store in Kingston called “Classic Video” which has a huge collection of
old DVDs including TV series and documentaries. But the last time we
rented some, a lot of the DVDs didn’t work properly. They were too old.
You know how sometimes when you take a DVD out of the player and try to
put it back into the case you end up dropping it? Well, it turns out
that after 7 years of this type of mishandling, DVDs don’t work very
well. I rented a DVD called “Man on a Wire” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdNXcAOaFog)
about a crazy Frenchman who snuck into the World Trade Towers shortly
after they were built and used a bow and arrow to shoot a wire from one
building to the other, pulled the wire across and then walked back and
forth across that wire. How cool is that? Well, it took an hour and 15
minutes to show all of the background, working up to his walk across the
wires, and at that point the DVD packed it in. No really, the only part
I really wanted to watch was him walking back and forth and lying down
on this wire, 275 stories over Manhattan, but alas, this was not to be.
Where did I put the shotgun again?

Which brings me back to my good
friend Tim. Tim rents DVDs that work. When I want them to. No bandwidth
required. No constant dread of them stopping at a crucial moment. You
can stop them when you need to go pee. And you can watch the extra
materials, which are kind of lame on some DVDs, but are as good as the
actual movie on others. On one of the “Bourne” movies, (Bourne Ultimatum
I think) they showed how they filmed Matt Damon jumping from the roof
of one building across a street and into glass patio doors in the
apartment on the far side of the street. The camera basically followed
him right across. It was the coolest thing EVER! It took them two days
to set up the shot. I watched it over and over again! Try that with
Netflix. Oh wait, you never get that extra stuff… on the movie… that
came out 4 years ago… that you streamed because you vaguely remember
being faintly interested in it, 4 years ago.

Nope, Tim’s my man.
Tim gets all my entertainment dollars. Oh, and if you ever plow your car
into one of the rock cuts around here, Tim will probably be one of the
emergency responders who show up to help you!

For more information about Cam or his books please visit www.cammather.com

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