Jewish World Review Dec. 11, 2002 / 6 Teves, 5763

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports

A latecomer joins fellowship of the DVD | 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 pretty tame.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.


12/02/02: Don't worry, be fat, unfit and really happy
11/18/02: Intrigued by a German invention that could get teens out of bed before the crack of noon
11/06/02: A noose by any other name ...
10/29/02: Iranian dogs on notice
10/22/02: Talk about a job that stinks --- literally!
10/15/02: The official world's funniest joke
10/02/02: Japanese turn eyes to computer haikus
09/27/02: Oh, no! Bosses want to know what's on your mind
09/24/02: An airbag, humanity's salvation?
09/06/02: Come listen to a story about a man named ... Bill
09/03/02: You're not in preschool anymore!
08/30/02: A charming idea from a brutal, whacked-out, megalomaniacal dictator-for-life
08/26/02: Blubber water? How to put on the pounds by gulping H20
08/21/02: The latest evidence that Mother Nature is out to kill us
08/13/02: Computers, airplanes and Canada don't mix
08/06/02: The sky's not falling? Dang it!
08/02/02: Some fond memories of worst TV shows
07/30/02: Pay my credit-card bill, please?
07/25/02: Something to celebrate
07/22/02: Baseball needs to ban the fans
07/16/02: Hasbro should consider new inaction figure
07/11/02: Decline in trash-talking is harming our mental health? Well, #@%&!
07/08/02 Americans retain right to fork tongues
07/01/02 These laws were made to be broken
06/18/02 Watching enough commercials?
06/03/02 Throwing your vote to the dogs
05/08/02 Hey, Mom, could you spare a dime?: Parents' obligations unending

© 2002, Sarasota Herald Tribune