On Living in the Past


Those of you who know me are aware that I have a bit of a passion for recorded media. Be it music, books, or movies, shelving is an important part of my life, and always has been. The room I’m sitting in now has seven very full banks of shelves, and there are two more folded up against the wall “just in case.” The hallway outside has 3-4 more (depending on how you count), and I’ve even set up shelves in the garage to hold plastic boxes of books I just can’t seem to let go.

But downstairs in the temple of technology is where the stakes are really high. In my office, it’s books, games and CDs on the shelves. But in the “living room,” it’s movies, and there are a lot of them.


1617, at last count, although that number is somewhat skewed by the availability of television shows. And were you to count the actual number of spinny plastic discs, it jumps another thousand at least.

So why do I bring this up? Not to brag, certainly. But instead to peel back a little corner of the Bhagwan for everyone to see.

The reason that number is so high is that I rarely get rid of a disc once I’ve bought it. I may do so in the near future, so I wanted to get the sheer absurdity of that number out into the universe. I stream, I download, I borrow, but ultimately when I like a thing, I want to have it at hand.

I still own all but one video game system I’ve ever used.Sweet, sweet surrenderrrrrr...

I still collect and play laser discs (64), still champion HD-DVD as a superior format (133–but before y’all freak out that’s far less than the 560-odd that were released during the format wars), and if I had an 8-track player handy, I’d have something to spin inside.

It used to be that my waterbed was a determining factor in choosing a place to live. Those days are long gone. Now it’s how much shelf space we can assign.

It certainly doesn’t help that I live with another writer.Shown here along with her unhealthy devotion to the alphabet There are books and boxes and files everywhere in our house, even in the rooms nobody uses. And once upon a time, I was able to look at everything I owed in the same room.

But the 20th century is not totally in my rear-view mirror. Because in addition to all the physical objects I don’t throw away, I found a file on my hard drive last night from July of 2000. A handy little spreadsheet with a list of DVDs on it and the people who owned them. Yes, this is the seventh computer I’ve had since then, but although there are a good number of files that didn’t survive the journey to 2013, this one did.

That list was largish, but there were more names on it than just mine. My friends and fellow digital media enthusiasts from TSR and I had a bit of success the year before, and quite a few of us purchased some of them new-fangled DVD machines.

Don't you dare judge me!

After a couple months, we decided to use our big game design brains and save some cash by sharing our discs around. 5 folks signed on immediately, and just like that we had a database of a few hundred titles to work with.

And for the record, of the 306 discs tracked in July of 2000, I was not the biggest contributor. I wasn’t even second place, although I’m wagering I overtook STAN! after we got back from GenCon.

How can I be so certain of the date? Because of what’s on the list. Or more accurately, what’s NOT on the list. I was snapping up the DVD Releases (aka, Laserdisc transfers) of Star Trek – The Original Series as soon as they came out. The last one recorded on the sheet is volume 14, which came out July 11 of that year. Volume 15 came out on September 19th, and further limiting the time window is the absence of the First transfer of the Prisoner (October 31). And since I’m the kind of person who writes such things down as soon as I can, it’s from either late July or early August.

But what’s more interesting is what’s on the list now. Back in the day, I had 87 out of the 306 titles in my personal collection. Today I have 170, and that’s accounting for me eventually ditching my singles of the Star Trek discs (I have S1 now in it’s yellow case release, HD-DVD and Blu-ray) and somehow misplacing the copy of Wild Wild West I snagged from Sean for 5bux one night as we were heading out to the bar.

Hey, be nice. The 90’s are a bit blurry for me. I’m sure it seemed like a good idea at the time.

You might think that’s a lot, but there are still films missing from that list that by now I should have picked up. Movies like the Andromeda Strain, The Black Hole, and The Shining. Go, Ran, Wargames even.

No Lost Boys. No Full Metal Jacket. No They Live.

they live

These are movies that made me the cinephile I am today, and although I snapped up a copy of Romancing the Stone last week from a bargain bin, you’d think after 13 years I’d be a little farther along.

Then again, my unsinkable record of not watching Titanic will likely last forever. And I’d wager that as we all move to digital copies, I’m ahead on points all around.

Besides, my LD copy of Star Wars includes a very important plot point, and DOES NOT include fart jokes. Your mileage may vary.

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