Friday’s Theme Music
I awoke streaming this song, “Is It in My Head?”, in my head this morning (ha, ha).
I often wonder about the truths of perceptions, impressions, and memories. I don’t wonder about just mine, but how others came to their beliefs, and how difficult it can be to dislodge an idea after it’s burrowed into you. We’ve been exposed to evidence that the winners write history. History is often propaganda to justify and moralize decisions and sustain political or popular support. We all love heroes and myths.
So I wonder with myself about whether I remember something correctly, whether I’m too deeply embedded in silos and bubbles to perceive the truth and grasp it, and often, if I’m conning myself into hoping and believing that my writing efforts amount to anything. It’s a perpetual cycle of challenging, searching, and thinking.
Today’s song selection, made by my mind (and probably invited in by the latest rounds of dreams), “Is It in My Head” is from Quadrophenia by the Who. The album was released in 1973, when I became seventeen years old. I’d been searching and wondering well before I heard this song.
I continue searching and wondering today, almost fifty years later.
A Moment for Blockbuster
Renting videos to play at home had become a big thing while my wife and I were living in Japan in the early eighties. Much cheaper than the movies, it was also more convenient than going to a theater, standing in line, and sitting in uncomfortable seats. Renting videos were also excellent ways to help endure typhoons, as long as the power stayed on.
Blockbuster hit the American scene in 1985, but we were in Germany. We were impressed when we returned to America. At last, we could go to a convenient location and find a wide assortment of movies for a reasonable price.
We weren’t necessarily thrilled. My wife and I liked supporting small, independent video rental businesses in our area. But, sadly, they lacked good selections. Finding nothing there for us to rent, we grudgingly started renting our videos from Blockbuster.
Blockbuster’s ugly side was soon revealed as they treated us, the customers, like dirt. Greg Satell at Forbes magazine summed it up for us.
“Yet Blockbuster’s model had a weakness that wasn’t clear at the time. It earned an enormous amount of money by charging its customers late fees, which had become an important part of Blockbuster’s revenue model. The ugly truth—and the company’s achilles heel—was that the company’s profits were highly dependent on penalizing its patrons.”
The lines became ridiculously long at Blockbusters. A movie rented at one location couldn’t be returned to a different location. What had been fun, going to Blockbuster to rent a movie, lost its enjoyment. (It reminds me of how taking a flight across the country used to be and how it now is, with the airlines trying to suck pennies out of its customers for anything and everything.)
A pause to reflect on customer service and support. My wife and I have noticed that both have rapidly diminished in our experience, whether it’s with retail stores, Internet providers, rental places, airlines, hotels, newspapers, and utilities. What’s most telling is that if this topic is brought up at a gathering, everyone have stories to share about bad customers service and support. The one bright spot for us, and other agrees, have been Costco.
We’re holding our breath and have our fingers crossed that Costco doesn’t become like the rest.
When Netflix came along, we leaped on it. Creating a list online, we received DVDs in the mail, watched them, and mailed them back. Not everything we wanted to watch was immediately available, but it was a damn sight better than the Blockbuster experience.
Netflix has almost lost us over the years as we shifted to the streaming model and experienced price increases. I’ve left them twice for others, but the others soon took me for granted, and Netflix lured me back.
Right now, Netflix is barely hanging on to me. My wife and I don’t find much to watch, but we see the same pattern on Hulu, Amazon Prime, Britbox, Acorn, etc. There’s one or two enticing shows, a plethora of things that aren’t to our tastes, and then a huge offering of old movies and television series. In the end, the streaming experience has become much like the video experience, which, itself, became much like the cable television experience of, so many channels, nothing to watch. As for Blockbuster, much like VHS and Beta recordings, its star has waned.
Fortunately, we have books and computer games. I would mention Facebook and social media, but I’ve noticed a trend there…
It kind of reminds me of Blockbuster.
Floofeiture (floofinition) – the loss or giving up of something to a pet, most often in reference to furniture, but also used in connection with food.
In use: “Finally admitting the he needed to get up to pee, he reluctantly did so, knowing that doing so meant floofeiture to one of the animals waiting to take his seat. If he had to bet on it, he would say the corgi would win.”
It was like Priusville stopped at the traffic light today. Between the intersecting roads, almost every generation, model, and variation of Prius was represented, that I could see. I counted twelve, included a dark green first gen Prius that a local real estate agent uses.
Sprinkled among the Priuses in our little town were also a dark blue Tesla Model S and a silver Tesla 3, a Chevy Volt, and, directly beside me to my right, a bright blue Kia Soul plug in.
My Mazda CX-5 felt like a dinosaur.