[Masthead] Fair ~ 46°F  
High: 68°F ~ Low: 43°F
Monday, May 2, 2016

From the Midway : When it's time to say good-bye

Monday, November 12, 2007

This past weekend I went back in time. Well sort of. There was a lot of good T.V. on Sunday night like the Simpson's Tree house of Horrors, Family Guy's 100 episodes and the Patriots/Colt's game. But I had to work for a few hours that night and couldn't watch these shows.

After sitting around for a few hours feeling sorry for myself I suddenly had a brainstorm. "I'll tape the shows," I thought to myself. So I plugged in my old VCR and dug out an old VHS tape.

My VCR has been collecting dust for a few years now. I'm the type of guy who does not embrace new technology very well. I still have a record player that was last serviced a week before JFK was shot. It took me a long time to buy my first DVD player. At the time I was a firm believer in VHS tapes. Sure I had watched a DVD at a friend's house but was too stubborn to switch over.

VHS tapes were a large part of my life. They were all that I knew. Sure there were Bata tapes but they were just silly and for a short time in the early 80's there was something called Laser Disc. Similar to a DVD but they were about the size of a record album, they where extremely expensive and never really caught on with the masses.

When VHS tapes first came out they too were expensive to buy, but you could rent them for a fair price. In the early days you had to leave a deposit, it was not unheard of to leave a $70 to $90 deposit just to watch a couple of movies. You have to remember that if the tape got damaged or stolen you were responsible not just to replace the tape but for the revenue that was lost during the time it took to get a new copy.

Back then, there were one or two copies of any particular movie, not like today with 25 copies of a new release. So when DVD hit the scene, I was real hesitant. My gut felling was that they would go the way of the Laser Disk. To me they were one and the same.

Slowly a few DVDs made it to the video store and I thought it cute they were trying. Then more and more started to pop up and it didn't really bother me. In fact I was kind of happy about DVDs then. The cost of buying a VHS tape started to drop and I started to buy more and more tapes. But I still did not see what the big deal about DVD was. Then it happen.

One evening I got off from work and went to Hy-Vee to purchase Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers. All the VHS tapes were sold out but there was a lot of DVDs of the movie available. A lot of good that did me.

Well it was late and all I wanted to do was go home and relax with the movie I was looking forward to seeing for about a year. Now I would have to wait a little while longer.

There was one hope left. I had to ask the clerk if there was any more in back. The clerk informed me that there were no tapes in back but they had plenty of DVDs. Well at that point my frustration got the better of me and I told the clerk that it doesn't really matter that they had a bunch of DVDs, the fact was that I didn't have a DVD player. Then I jokingly said that if they had a DVD player for sale I would by the DVD and the player.

I felt safe making a statement like that; after all, I was in a grocery store not an appliance store. To my surprise the clerk quickly said that they had them in aisle three. Thinking he was pulling my leg, we walked over to aisle three and there the DVD player sat. So it was time to put my money were my mouth was and I really just wanted to get home.

Over the next couple of weeks I started to rent more and more DVDs and I was delighted with what I was seeing. Not just the improved picture and sound that stuff never really mattered to me. It was all the special features and commentaries on a DVD that got me hooked and I have been so ever since.

So let's fast-forward to last Sunday night. After I dug out an old VHS tape I went ahead and got the VCR ready to tape my shows while I was gone. I put in the tape and started to rewind the tape and I had to wait for about four minutes. Man, I tell you it was like watching paint dry.

You don't have that problem with DVDs. The next thing that I did was a test recording to see if the tape was still any good. After I recorded a few minutes of something I hit stop and my VCR turned itself off. I hit the power button and the VCR spit out the cartridge but it still had most of the tape inside of it.

Boy I don't miss that at all. So after doing some non-invasive surgery on the VCR, I got the tape all the way out and started the process of rewinding the tape back in the cartridge by hand. I took a deep breath and put the tape back in and pressed play. It was working, my test recording worked, so I was good to go.

I then was ready to leave my house to go to work so I hit record and came back a couple of hours later ready to watch my shows. Well the good news is that it worked, all my shows where recorded on the tape. So you would think that the story would end there but no.

When I stopped the tape and pushed rewind it ate the tape again. Yep, more non-invasive surgery was needed. Finally I got the tape back to the beginning and sat down to finally watch my shows. Something on the tape was all messed up. The screen kept scrolling up and down and I could barely hear the story due to all the background noise. I got to see my shows but I just could not enjoy them.

It was a sad day to me. It was the last breath of my VCR. There is just no point in ever going back. I guess there's a thing out there called TiVo may be in a few years I try that. Right now it is just too soon.

Mike Leckband
From the Midway