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Thoughts on Buying a New DVD Player

There’s a Yiddish proverb that goes, “Man plans; God laughs.”  Well, the Creator has certainly been laughing at me for the past four days.  I expect His laughter ended today when I bought a new Sony DVD player at Best Buy for roughly half the cost I paid for my recently retired device.  Indeed, if my recollection serves me, the combined cost my second (purchased in 2007) and third (purchased today) DVD players was less than that for my first one (purchased in 2001).

I had made this great plan for the two weeks of the holiday season.  I would spend the first one largely alone, watching lots and lots of DVDs and considering some important career and personal issues.  I would only venture out to buy and ship last minute Chanuka presents–and for a special Chanuka dinner with a close friend.  After that, I would make no major purchases, save those related to my dissertation.

As I may detail in a subsequent post, in that quiet period, I had no major insights, resolved none of the issues with which I was wrestling, only reached partial resolution on one issue — and that in a chance conversation with a then-stranger, now potential friend.

Well, back to the new DVD player.

My recently retired player (all of 18 months old if that) had begun to freeze up while I was watching those Bette Davis flicks.  I ended up watching a few of them on my computer.  It didn’t freeze up on all DVDs, just a few.  So, I assumed the defect was in the DVD, not the player.  Well, last week, on Christmas Day, it froze up on every DVD I tried to load, even those I had watched previously on that machine.

So, I had to change my plans and venture out to go shopping on a week that was to be dedicated to study and writing. . . .

But, as I bought the new player, spending considerably less than I had anticipated spending, I thought of two closely-linked things, the wonder of capitalism and the disposability today of items which were once considered luxuries.

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GayPatriot LA Outing to El Coyote

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 6:37 pm - December 29, 2008.
Filed under: Gay Marriage,Gay PC Silliness,LA Stories

Because the Los Angeles restaurant El Coyote, long a favorite of Angeleno gays, has lost a considerable amount of business when angry gay activists chose to boycott the place because one of its employees contributed to the “Yes on 8” campaign, I would like to organize an outing for our readers to dine at that iconic establishment.

As the restaurant lost business, it was forced to lay off a number of employees, many of them gay.

We need make clear that all gay people do not completely politicize their lives as have these angry activists.

Please e-mail me to let me know whether you prefer we do this for dinner on New Year’s Day or next Sunday, January 4.

Oh, and to encourage business, once we set the date, I’m buying margaritas for the first five people to show up!

Odysseus in Detroit

I have this theory that if you go down any major list of the best films of all time, say the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest American Movies of all Time, you will find parallels in mythology for each film, not exact, mind you, but enough to show that the filmmakers of the last (and this) century developed themes and plots similar to stories our ancestors had been telling for generations.

The Wizard of Oz, a story of a girl’s adventures as she finds her way home, is little more than a retelling of Books 5 to 12 of the Odyssey, the part most people recognize as the Odyssey, Odysseus’s adventures as he tries to get home from Troy. Brando‘s Terry Malloy in On the Waterfront is Prometheus on the loading docks. Orson Welles‘s Citizen Kane is Oedipus–as that unfortunate Theban King’s story was understood before Freud.

I just returned from a film which borrowed (perhaps unconsciously) from the main theme of the Odyssey, that which lay at the heart of the story as the Greeks understood it, but with which people today are less familiar. Only eight of the epic’s twenty-four books focus on Odysseus’s adventures on his way home from Troy. The remaining sixteen deal with his son Telemachus’s search for his father, the story of their reconciliation and their battle with the suitors to regain his own, then to pacify his island kingdom.

It is this paternal theme to which Clint Eastwood turns in his latest masterpiece, Gran Torino. While the dialogue is at times clunky, the story lines are near perfect. Eastwood’s Walt Kowalski, the grizzled war veteran, while (unlike Odysseus) long since returned from his battles, still must rid his kingdom, er, neighborhood, of a clan of rowdy men who make it difficult, if not impossible, for a boy, on the cusp of manhood, to find his way in the world.

While Kowalski devises different strategies than did Odysseus to face his woes, like that ancient Ithacan, he uses his wits more than his strength to confront the usurpers. And that is how the mythic theme repeats itself in this recent release. It’s too soon to tell whether this flick will join any list of the top films of all time, but it is certainly one of the best films of this year.

Once again, Eastwood amazes us with his knowledge of this medium. And his understanding of the human condition–and human emotion. And once again, we see a story from the ancients retold on the silver screen.