Improvising

If you don’t have a home entertainment center, you don’t know what you are missing. You catch your favorite movies and TV shows as you can, where you can, and it may not always be in the best of circumstances. You get spoiled when you have your favorite recliner sitting in front of a giant plasma TV screen with the best surround sound system in town. I have been known to gravitate here quickly after work to unwind and decompress. No long jaunts across town to the local movie theater hoping I might get a decent seat. I have that seat right in my living room, strategically placed for ideal viewing. I love that I can adjust the head and leg rests. I am perfectly comfortable. More than a few friends and family have tried to usurp my chair with no luck. They get my icy stares. Do I dare even think about buying another? No, there is only room for the one.

You can imagine my chagrin when one day the recliner breaks as I was trying to use the adjuster knob to raise the height of the legs. Some screw or bolt came apart. The chair wheezed into inaction. I was nonplussed. I couldn’t fix it myself and was in a bit of a panic. I called the manufacturer. I was told kindly to order a pick up for the chair and that I would be sent a replacement. That would take maybe a month or more. I would have to make do in the interim.

Well a dining room chair was not a solution with its stiff back and small seat. The bedroom desk chair was equally unsatisfactory and was denied being a viable option. Oddly enough I thought of the beach lounge chair I had on the patio. It was comfortable enough. It had a cloth seat and a few adjustable settings. My feet would be propped up and my head erect for perfect screen viewing. I quickly brought in the lounge chair and set it in the recliner’s spot. It looked odd enough but as I hopped on, I realized that I had a solution. I only hoped it was hold up with repeated usage. I tried to be ginger with it and treat it with respect. It was pretty sturdy as these chairs go having been toted numerous times to the beach. How many times had I tossed it into the back seat of the van? Now it only had to last for a month of gentle use. So what if it looked like I was trying to pretend I was on a beach vacation. It was a far cry from a leather upholstered recliner. It was flimsy by comparison, but I was not about to give up my movie nights for lack of a proper chair. With a quilt thrown over the canvas, it wasn’t a bad substitute given the lack of other options. After all, it is a lounge chair, and lounging is what I love.

Man Cave

A friend of mine has been complaining about not having a space of his own in the house, and I guess his wife finally got sick of the complaining. She told him that if he didn’t mind parking his car on the street, he could have the garage to do with as he sees fit. Turns out, he doesn’t mind parking the car on the street and he sees fit to turn the garage into a man cave. After doing a victory dance, he called me. He knows I’m the guy that knows about home theater equipment. He wanted me to go shopping with him to create his new hangout.

We went to the electronics store, where he purchased a sweet new television, a blu-ray player, and some additional audio equipment. The walls in the garage cannot hold something as heavy as the tv, so instead of buying brackets to mount it, we headed to a furniture store next. There he picked out an entertainment center that would fit the television and everything else we bought, and some seating. We were able to walk out with the entertainment center since it was a self-assembly project, but the seating he wanted had to be special ordered. It would be about five days before it was ready. From there, it was time to get some stuff for the walls—I steered him away from the neon signs by pointing out that there weren’t a whole lot of outlets to spare in there. The last stop on our trip was to the home improvement store. At that mecca to all things power tool, we picked up the last few things we needed: some coaxial cable, surge protectors, that kind of thing. We thought about getting some paint but decided that we’d rather watch tv than watch paint dry, so that was the end of that. We did have one other problem we needed to solve, however. There’s no heating in the garage, which is partially the reason why we’re calling it a man cave. We’re clever like that. But we did pick up a garage heater while we were there on the recommendation of one of the employees. He assured us that the model we picked could heat the whole room to be a reasonable temperature man room when necessary.

We brought everything back to the garage and started the assembly and hookups. The first thing that we did was set up the heater. It is pretty light and it came with a wall mount. So we found a stud and attached the bracket to it. Once it went up, we turned it on and tested it out. It warmed the room up pretty quickly and we were comfortable in no time. It didn’t take us that long to set up everything else. I’m pretty good with a hex key and setting up home theater equipment. We just inserted tab a into slot b a few times and that was that.

The place will be nice when the seating is delivered next week. Then I’m going to bring over some movies and we’ll test everything out.

Low Budget Effects

When you want to have a little movie-centered fun, try imitating film special effects. You are somewhat limited in this regard, but there are many that can be done. Especially with friends and/or family, this is good for a few laughs. You don’t have to own or go out and buy all kinds of miscellaneous gadgets used by indie movie buffs. You can make do with what you have. The idea is to pretend you are going to film a script even if you actually don’t get that far. Setting the stage for a story is half the one, as is writing the lines. This is a good way to polish your skills while you also enjoy some group antics.

A case in point is the day I wanted smoky fog in the air for atmosphere and mood. A group of buddies were on hand to see what we could conjure up. We weren’t really going to shoot footage, mind you, but were trying merely to set the scene for some dialogue. The spoken word was going to be the source of the fun. I probably had some film noir in the back of my head; you know, one of those old fifties black and white numbers that still play on late night TV that revolve around some congenial sleuth looking to solve a crime, usually murder. I was thinking smoke as fog here since the appearance is quite similar. The detective would surely be down at the docks.

In any case, I pondered the problem. I wasn’t about to light a fire with wet wood. I read somewhere that this is a way to get a smoke-filled room. I wasn’t about to light up a cigarette either. It is vastly unhealthy, especially in the quantity I would need for an effective environment. All of us in our group would have to indulge and that would mean the danger of second-hand inhalation. This was definitely not the solution!

How else do you get smoke effects after all? You can’t spray it out of a can or buy it in quantity. It is a vapor that must be created on the spot. Given that my brain cells were not optimally functioning at the moment, it took an hour to think of the trusty humidifier in my guest room. It had been parked there following the visit of a friend who had a terrible dry throat. We had bought a simple unit and installed it for the night to provide some moisture relief. That worked well, but the device was soon forgotten.

I rushed to the room, pulled out the humidifier, filled the tank with water, and proceeded to turn it on. In a few minutes, a steady stream of mist surrounding my person. While it didn’t look or feel exactly like smoke, it did make vision unclear in the manner of the needed natural element. For our purposes, it was a hilarious solution, and unlike smoke, it didn’t make us cough or choke.

Little But Fierce

If you have a gun, or several of them, then you no doubt have a gun safe that houses your entire collection. I have a generic concept of a metal freestanding or wall mounted unit with drawers and racks inside that is accessed by means of a combination dial lock, a digital lock, or a key. The safe would be several feet tall in size. When I think of these safes, I think big: rifles aligned in a row and a couple of pistol stowed on top. But they are not all alike.

Since I do own a gun, a safe would be in order and I don’t yet have one. I am in the process of making a selection and know that I want something a bit on the small side that does the job. It will protect the gun from fire and water damage, as well as rust and other types of corrosion. It will be little but fierce and no one will haul it off in a robbery since it will be bolted down.

Why so small? It is all a matter of space. I want the gun safe in the den next to my bedroom where I can get it in a flash. If I hear unknown footsteps approaching my valuables, I can open it in seconds. But it will live amid my movie collection in the built-in cabinet that graces the den wall. It will be in good company. I only have a small section of space available, but no matter. It is only one lone gun. I am required to have a gun safe by law (although it doesn’t mention size) and I want it to meet all specifications. It will just be small!

A gun and a gun safe are a mighty pair that you want to be together for security reasons. You never want a gun to be available to a child or an intruder, as much as you think it is hidden. You don’t want to instigate a crisis. It will always be found if it is there. Having a safe will ensure limited access and maximum personal safety for you and your family. There are just too many horror stories out there. You don’t want to add another one.

My movie collection has been growing for years and it takes top priority in my house in any case. I have it arranged and organized alphabetically and it needs more than a few feet of shelving. You may think it odd to have movies and guns in one location, but why not. The den is an all-purpose room that is utilitarian and practical, while the source of various types of entertainment. I can lounge on the comfortable sofa in front of the large flat-screen TV or I can listen to music to relax. I am lucky to have a spare room as a repository of my favorite things. The gun, of course, is not for pleasure, but it is a necessity and demands its own private housing.

Making the Man Cave

I want people to have a glass of wine while sitting at my man cave bar atop a sturdy and steady bar stool. This is what I envision Sunday should be, and it is a change of tune for many. When movie night falls, guests arrive and they are quickly given a glass of their preference: red or white. Some opt for beer, but wine is the newest trend in my neighborhood, and it’s growing by leaps and bounds. People know more than ever before about the difference between French, California, Spanish, and Italian wines. They know when to pick German over Australian or vice versa. They can get downright picky!

I always wanted a man cave and knew that I would have to move to get one. This finally happened and I had a basement to convert, just to my particular taste. It was to be a home entertainment center with state of the art equipment and surround sound, geared for anything from music listening to athletic game viewing. Everyone would want to come over and enjoy. There would be plenty of good food and drinks of one’s choice. It would be the center of a personal, but shared, universe.

Good host that I am, I designed the space to include a small, but well equipped, bar so people could gather and sit, rather than just opting for the already crowded sofa, or the last resort—a hard floor. The TV screen is in full view of this bar area. I have started to amass a nice wine collection that is stored in a handy portable wine cooler. It is dual control so it can house reds and whites just at the perfect temperature. Wine will be on the play list even during football games, nudging aside the ubiquitous beer.

Guests love the bar stools as I got tall metal ones that suit my larger friend’s girths. They make the man cave seem custom to the wine samplings. After watching a lot of “Bar Rescue”, I learnt that Jon Taffer things that having good quality bar stools is important to guests liking your bar, so I spared no expense and bought the best bar stools online for my bar. I like to line the countertop with bottles of my favorite new purchases so people can try more than one. Movie or game night is thus a two-pronged affair. You can do as much or as little of one or the other as you like. If someone drinks too much and starts to teeter off the stools, it is time for the club chairs and couch (or home).

A man cave is a real luxury, even if it is your basement. But after all, where else does one reside, except maybe the attic. If your basement has an exit to the backyard, so much the better. You can add barbecuing to the mix or a break for fresh air at half time. No matter what you have to start with, from a big to a small space, you can make it all your own. Be sure to include some storage, and if you can’t install a true bar, at least a nice-sized wine cooler to accommodate your guests. It’s a new world of home entertainment, my friends, thanks to the exciting and expansive world of wine.

One Thing I Go Cheap On

I have had a good home entertainment system in the past, but equipment always needs updating. I want the latest thing as soon as it comes out. It is like people who want the newest cell phone no matter what it costs. Changes are frequent and they cause us to outlay more and more cash. I have to skimp on other expenses to break even. I don’t travel much or dine in fancy restaurants. I keep my car a few extra years, and no one would say that I am a clothes horse. One area that gets short shrift is personal accessories and sports items. Take my watch, for example. I try to go cheap, even if it means that I buy them more often. In the long run, I feel that by sticking to my budget, I can save money. Home entertainment wins by a long shot every time.

Cheap mens watches are often copies or look-a-likes of the expensive designer models, but they aren’t built to last. When they do, it is a bonus. I recently cracked the face of one of my watches when I was reaching aggressively behind the TV to restart the frozen Blu-ray player. I passed over some nifty looking watches on eBay, even if they were a fair price. An expensive watch is just not for me. I have always been successful in finding good buys when I want to replace an old watch that has just died permanently. I could get a new face for the broken one, but I thought to myself, watches are so cheap that they beat the cost of a new face due to the labor charged for repair.

Everyone has their breaking point and mine is personal items. Men don’t have that many compared to women and they certainly save on salon costs. They don’t spend as much on attire and of course they find cosmetics irrelevant. Jewelry is sparse other than maybe a wedding band for those who are married. All in all, they luck out when it comes to one’s budget. They say that men make more money than women in the same jobs, but the latter certainly need more. Have you ever seen a woman’s closet?

My drawers are practically empty but my home theater space takes up a lot of room. You know when you enter my home where my heart is. If you look at my wrist, you will not be impressed. Women, and other men I know, succumb to the draw of all those gorgeous watch ads in magazines. Yes, they are a true status symbol. Not for me, my friend. I get my accolades from TV and stereo equipment. I can share my home entertainment center with friends. You can’t share your watch. It makes the most sense to invest in something with a social purpose.

People know not to give me a watch for a present even though they wouldn’t have to spend much. They go for classic or new movies, something everyone can watch together on a free night. I don’t fight it.

Obvious Place To Start For a Quality (Bed)room Theater

They say you should get a new mattress every eight years or so in order to sleep better. Sinking and sagging is not high on anyone’s list of nighttime activities. You get used to the old thing and don’t even notice the passing years. Your mattress is your sleep buddy and you accept him as is. While there is no doubt a bit of hype in designating only eight years, there is also no doubt more than a grain of truth in this suggestion. I, for one, think it’s fine to buy a new mattress for the bedroom theater.

Look at all those ads in the newspaper, if you still read one, that show great specials and price savings. You just have to pick one of the demo models to get a good deal. That’s fine with me so I can spend more money on the entertainment center I have installed in my bedroom. While I have one in the living room, I find that after a hard day at work, I want to settle into the best mattress for back pain that money can buy, pull a throw over me, and watch a giant plasma TV or listen to some music in surround sound.

So it starts with the right bed and progresses on to the real equipment. When I put the main system in the living room, I was pretty excited. Theater to me meant going to the movies and becoming immersed in a larger than life experience on a massive silver screen. I have a mini version of it as most people do for lack of space, not to mention respect for the neighbors. I can approximate more than a little bit the epic quality of the cinema.

My bedroom version is more modest but it does the job. It is more than a TV hanging on the wall and a few good speakers. I have virtually dedicated this room to the pleasures of light and sound. The products involved are various and it pays to get some help. I had a professional designer in for the living room entertainment center in order to maximize budget and space. I am doing it myself in the bedroom having learned the ropes. I know that HDTVs produce stunning pictures with lifelike detail, but they need the addition of home theater sound to really create a magical experience for sci-fi and thriller movies. So speakers are on the top of the list for quality equipment.

That means a fabulous receiver which is the main heart of the system. It provides surround sound processing and the power you need to drive the speakers. I wanted a condensed and concise hub for all my audio/video sources as well as the TV. I love wireless control using a mobile app which makes life, and leisure, a whole lot easier. You have to know how to connect the receiver just right to the speakers, and with surround sound, there are at least five. Don’t forget a powered subwoofer in the mix. The options are so many that I need another blog to detail them. Just know that in the living room I have floor-standing towers, while in the bedroom I went for in-ceiling models.

Sometimes when I am tired and the mattress beckons, I lay down on a fluffed pillow and listen to my playlist. I go into reveries to escape a bad day at work. Even after a good day, I like to unwind to some of my most popular tunes. I stream music from the Internet if I want some new sounds. Whatever my preference, the bedroom is a bastion of moving pictures and accompanying surround sound.

Deciding On My Favorite Movies

Deciding On My Favorite Movies

People will inevitably ask me what my favorite movies are, and I never have an answer. You’d think I would, since I spend a huge portion of my life watching movies, talking about movies, thinking about movies, and just generally being a movie geek. The name of my favorite movie should just roll off my tongue like an iconic movie line. No matter what, I will still usually come up short when I hear this question.

I think part of the problem is just that I’ve seen so many movies now that I don’t have one favorite or even ten favorites: I have at least a hundred. There’s also the fact that I don’t always want to admit what my favorite movies are, because I don’t want to get into an argument with the other person. People all tend to have strong opinions about the movies that they’ve seen. A discussion is great, but some people take it too far.

There’s also a difference between the movies that I really like and the movies that I really admire. Citizen Kane really is a great movie, and it deserves the positive reputation that it has. I can’t really call it my favorite movie, though, even though it’s so great. I really only needed to see it once, and my favorite movies are the ones that I actively try to memorize. Technically speaking, Citizen Kane is definitely better than a lot of the movies that I do consider to be my favorites, but that doesn’t mean that it’s suddenly going to outrank them.

Another problem with this whole question is that I always feel the need to come up with original responses. I don’t want to mention the movies that everyone else mentions. If those are my favorites though, then what am I going to do? I don’t want to have to think of new responses every time.

You know you’re a movie geek when even a question like this is enough to make you analyze the question rather than actually answering it.

I should mention that it’s sometimes the same way for the movies that I consider to be my least favorite. I might think that some movies are really terrible technically, but I might still enjoy watching them. There’s also the fact that some movies, like Batman and Robin, are basically designated film punching bags for everyone. I don’t even really see the point in mentioning them when people ask me about the movies that I really hate. Everyone hates them, and I’m just saying what everyone already knows.

Still, if I mention a mediocre movie or a movie that no one’s heard of when they ask me about what I hate, they might just get angry or confused. It’s a conundrum.

Ultimately, maybe this is just not a series of questions that you want to ask a movie geek unless you want him or her to talk your ear off for the next few minutes. Then again, some people must like it when we do that, since there are basically professional movie geeks working online today. In that case, carry on.

Movies Are More Real Than Reality

Obviously, most movies don’t portray most professions very accurately. They portray the professions the way people outside the field imagine them to be, for better or for worse. These are supposed to be fantasies, and they’re great at that. It’s like they edited out all of the boring parts that people are going to edit out of their memories anyway, and they gave you everything that’s actually good.

Those same principles apply when it comes to the characters. A lot of people in real life don’t talk like some clever screenwriter scripted their dialogue. The characters in movies talk in a way that sounds more realistic than the way in which people actually talk, because we edit out all of the annoying pauses and interruptions that happen during normal speech. Conversations are more real in movies than a lot of genuine conversations.

People will talk about how people who spend too much time in fictional universes like movies aren’t spending enough time in the real world. The thing is, humans don’t really have access to the real world. We just have an approximation of it based on our senses. We can’t sense ultraviolet like a bee; even though ultraviolet is just as much a part of the real world as anything that we do experience as a matter of course. Fiction is more realistic to us than reality because it is a reality created by humans for humans, with all of the other stuff that we don’t normally pay attention to filtered out because we don’t need it. That’s why it’s always going to be more entertaining than all of the stuff that we normally do, even if that’s the stuff that is technically real.

People without fiction have their jobs, the people they know, and their other hobbies, and that’s it. People with fiction have all of that, plus a lot of other people who feel real, and a lot of other jobs and occupations that feel real. We have our simulated lives and our actual lives, and really, they’re all our ‘actual’ lives.

The DVDs That We Hardly Knew

The DVDs That We Hardly Knew

A lot of the science fiction that was written during the 2000s still has people using DVDs in the future. As far as I’m concerned, DVDs were already a completely dated technology by then. It feels like we had VHS tapes for a long time, and DVDs only got to enjoy a very brief moment in the sun. It’s almost enough to make you feel sorry for DVDs, since they barely had any time to make an impression on the world. However, when you think about what it’s like to own DVDs compared to what it’s like to stream movies, you can only feel so sorry for DVDs.

DVDs get ruined so easily. They’re just like CDs in that regard, except they’re even worse in many ways. You get the tiniest little scratch on a DVD, and then you end up missing part of the movie, or the DVD just doesn’t work in general. Anyone who’s ever owned a DVD also knows that it’s really easy to get them scratched in the first place. Just taking them out of their packaging can get them scratched, because of course they’re packaged in these hard outer plastic shells where there are scratching hazards everywhere. I probably still own some DVDs that I miraculously enough managed not to scratch, but a lot of mine had to be specially cleaned before I managed to use them again.

The DVD creators also really went too far when they started throwing confusing menus at us. Menus that take forever to appear are going to annoy anyone. Menus that keep trying to convince you to watch the commentaries are also annoying. I also don’t always want to have to hear the movie’s theme music before I actually watch it, like it’s a new set of opening credits. The DVD creators knew that they were going to have to compete with live video streaming, so they really tried to make the DVD watching experience different and novel. I guess they succeeded, but they did it in all of the worst ways. The sound of DVDs taking forever to let you access the movie is the sound of me ejecting the DVD and watching the movie on Netflix instead.

Popping a DVD into a disk drive is nothing compared to driving to the movies, and previous generations probably think all of us are spoiled because we don’t want to have to bother with hunting around for the right DVD and inserting it into a disk drive. Still though, the right movie on Netflix is only a few clicks away, and anything that saves me time and irritation is worth it.

There’s also the fact that my newer and less expensive laptop doesn’t even have a disk drive. A lot of software companies are giving all of us an opportunity to save money by appealing to our annoyance with DVDs, it seems. The fact that lots of new computers don’t even have disk drives that are compatible with DVDs is a clear sign that the culture is in the process of abandoning them, leaving them to join the 8-track, the VHS, and the cassette tape.

Probably one of the biggest things that’s killing DVDs is the cost factor. Buying five movies on DVD could once cost me around one hundred dollars. Now that lots of people are turning on DVDs, it would cost me around fifteen dollars if I knew where to shop. However, a month of Netflix costs less than ten dollars, so the price is right. I could get countless movies and television shows during that month, instead of one movie and a bunch of DVD commentaries that I didn’t want.

Streaming on Hulu is even more cost-effective since it’s completely free. Hulu may not have the best selection, but then again, neither did Blockbuster back in the day. We all still went there. Hulu has a better selection than Blockbuster even did, and it’s absolutely free. Even if Blockbuster were still in business, Hulu would win in every conceivable way.

Streaming is catching on everywhere, and it is going to ultimately make DVDs more obsolete than they were before. The VHS tape is one of the symbols of the 1990s. The cassette tape is one of the symbols of the 1980s. The DVD is going to be one of the iconic symbols of the 2000s. In that sense, it will live forever. However, it will live forever as a symbol, and not as a device.

Keeping the Couch Clean

My idea of a good home entertainment center is top-of-the-line equipment (plasma TV, expensive speakers in a surround sound system, gorgeous cabinets, mini fridge with icemaker, etc.) and a super comfortable stuffed couch. Whatever I am watching or listening to requires a relaxed mode of being. I can sit or recline, it doesn’t matter. But I have to feel support against my head and back. Here’s where the right sofa comes in.

So you can imagine what I bought first for my special space – a big oversized giant of a thing that has great tufting for extra comfort. It costs a lot more, yes there is a price to pay; however, this special detail adds to the appearance a great deal. The buttons or knoblike round things that form the center of the tufting are dust catchers like you have never seen before. They grab anything in the vicinity like Venus Fly Trap snatchers. You can’t just brush it all aside. It digs in tenaciously until you get the vacuum out. Then it practically flees in fright.

When you are trying to keep your throne of entertainment clean, you need a high degree of suction on your vac. This is rule number one. This means switching to the special hose attachment with the horizontal slit, and turning off the brushes if you’ve got one of the better upright vacuum cleaner models. After a few passes on the sofa surface, you switch to the smaller slot device called the crevice tool to get those extra little bits and particles, like potato chip fragments or cookie crumbs, that don’t want to move from their cozy spot. This is the coup de grace for the sofa.

A hand vac could do it if you don’t wait too long between vacuuming sessions with the big one. It is not as powerful unless you spend some bucks, but it is easily to wield about and the cord isn’t too cumbersome. Just don’t move the thing around wildly in front of the cat if you don’t want havoc on your hands, or any scratches. Cats hate the noise, but the cord is a major threat to life and limb. Here in Canada we don’t mind foreign imports like the Dirt Devil, Black & Decker, Bissell or the DeWalt. They all make small powerful suction machines that will do the trick every time. So feel free to select any that suits your fancy.

If you are loathe to pull out your portable vacuum, small as it is, don’t eat crumbly food on the couch. This is a general rule of home theaters. Keep the space clean. Another rule number one. You will appreciate the cleanliness and guests will not be appalled. They will notice the dearth of dirt and they will also avoid eating messy food so as not to mar the pristine space. This is the good news. Maybe you have a nice patio just off your living or rec room for such entertainment. Provided it is a nice, sunny day, most friends and family will comply.

The Eternal Joy of Movies

The Eternal Joy of Movies

One of the best things about the modern world is the fact that there’s no stigma attached to watching lots of movies anymore. Even the stigma attached to watching lots of television is gone. You’ll actually read Twitter posts where people talk about how they feel guilty for missing this particular show. People will talk about how they definitely have to see this particular movie. Growing up, our generation got told that TV and movies are just there to waste your time. Now, if you say you don’t like TV or movies, you’re a square.

I’m exaggerating a little, but that’s the idea. Watching a movie is practically treated like an accomplishment now, and that’s the way that it should be.

There’s only so much that anyone can do in one lifetime. We can’t all become cops, astrophysicists, chefs, mountain climbers, writers, or comedians, and we certainly can’t do all of those jobs in a span of eighty years. It would be nice if all of us could bypass all of the training and just jump into being all of those things for a little while just to see what it’s like, but we can’t do that either – except at the movies. More importantly, you can escape into all of those worlds for a little while with none of the normal consequences.

You can join the protagonist and be a cop for a little while, but no one is going to shoot you for real. You can be an astrophysicist, even though you don’t have to really do any of the calculations when you’re vicariously studying space. Plus, you’ll be able to do so in a way that’s going to feel more real than it actually is.

Mourning Blockbuster Video or Not

Have people become nostalgic for Blockbuster Video? it sometimes seems that way. You see a lot of 1990s nostalgia these days since the 1990s was now officially twenty years ago. Young people get to wax nostalgic about their childhoods, middle-aged people get to wax nostalgic about their young adult years, and older people either join in or laugh at all of us. Nothing makes things look good like a nostalgia filter, and people keep talking about a Blockbuster Video that’s very different from the one that I remember from the 1990s.

People keep talking about how much fun it was to browse through real shelves instead of the virtual shelves that Netflix tries to fool us with, as if its a ‘real’ library. I don’t know about that. On the very rare occasions I ever get nostalgic for browsing for things on shelves, I just go to the library and check something out for free. At Blockbuster, you’d have to pay three bucks for a few viewings of a movie, which is like a buck a viewing. You can rent movies for free at libraries, and the shelves are a lot more ‘old school.’ Libraries have been around for much longer. They’re also still here, while Blockbuster has vanished completely.

I understand that actually going to the video store and hunting for things was part of the fun. Still, there’s something a little bit suspenseful about seeing whether or not Netflix has the movie that you want, and you won’t have to pay anything extra for it. With Netflix, you also don’t have to pay for anything resembling late fees, and that’s worth the complete loss of the nostalgia factor.

One of the things that all of us complained about was the fact that we would have to take the videos back to the store when we’d rather be sleeping. This was such a common experience that they even made a commercial all about it back in the day, and they don’t always make commercials about common experiences. We all ended up paying late fees sometimes. So basically, you could end up spending five bucks to see a movie that you didn’t even end up liking. For just a little more money, you could get a month’s worth of Netflix movies and television shows. If you hate a movie, you can just hit the back button. You don’t have to drive anywhere.

Still though, Blockbuster is a part of 1990s culture. You’ll hear people joking about the video store all the time in 1990s movies. People will mention their video cards. If your 1990s character is a movie geek, you make him or her work at the video store, thus cementing the character’s geek credentials. People will talk about the ‘video clerk’ job when they’re talking about a job that doesn’t pay well.

You really can’t watch a 1990s television show or a movie without being reminded that Blockbuster Video and stores just like it existed. You also get reminded that this is just the way in which people often experienced movies back then, and you have to give Blockbuster a little credit for that. Still, just like we’re all thrilled to live in the 2010s with our smartphones and our Web 2.0 websites and everything else, we should be happy that Blockbuster Video is a thing of the past.