Wednesday, August 20, 2008

TRUE STORY

How Terrorism Ruined My Copy of Schindler’s List



It’s a Sunday and I’ve tried in vain to get my wife a full and true movie education; today is as good as any. I’m gonna lay “Schindler’s List” on my wife. The Academy Award winning Debbie Downer of an epic, directed by Steven Spielberg, is by no means an everyday movie. It’s not like popping in “Old School” and giggling like a stoned teenager to Will Ferrell streaking down the quad.

The truth is there is never a “good” time to watch “Schindler’s List.” I mean, the movie is three hours long, in black and white, every actor has an accent (that isn’t American anyways) and it’s about the holocaust. I don’t give a shit how many golden trophies it took home, it’s not your typical weekend fare.

In fact, I first saw the movie when it was in theaters and I was the only white, non-Jewish boy in the theater. Everyone else was fifty or older, Jewish, and sniffling throughout the entire thing. I had a large soda and popcorn for God’s sake. “Popcorn, soda, twizzlers, comfy shoes, and Jews being slaughtered in black and white, courtesy of the imaginative filmmaking wizardry of one Steven Spielberg…oh joyous cinema!”

Is it a great movie? Absolutely. No doubt. But seriously, did anyone see it? Besides me? Raise your hand…higher…higher…That’s what I thought. Nobody saw it. And if you ask them, usually they’ll react as if they haven’t seen the fucking Grand Canyon…”Nooo, but I hear it is magnificent…I have always meant to, but…man, I gotta do that…it’s going on my Bucket List right now. I’m SO glad you reminded me of that.”

However, if you are unlucky enough to be maritally conjoined with me, then you will have to suffer through every movie I consider a masterpiece, or at least a staple in film knowledge. So far, only one woman has had to endure such trials. Just a few weeks ago, since she was raised in a cave with bears and no cable TV, I opened her eyes to the visceral thrill-ride that is “Roadhouse,” the Patrick Swayze starrer that garnered such gems as, “Does a hobby horse have a wooden dick?”

For whatever reason she agreed to a sit-down of “Schindler’s List” on this particular Sunday. I am ecstatic. I’m thrilled. Finally, I have a reason to watch this movie again. You don’t dare sit down and watch “Schindler’s List” by yourself at home. What if someone sees you? Immediately you will be inundated with questions like, “Is something wrong? Is everything all right? Do you need to talk? Do you have something to tell me? Why did you shave down to that tiny moustache? Where did you get thigh high black leather boots and a septum?”

I pop the DVD in and sit back to relive the depressing masterpiece for the second time in my life (NO, I’ve never watched it since I bought it…are you crazy??). It starts off well enough, although my wife has already confused Oscar Schindler with Amon Goeth (played by Ralph Fiennes), which is not a good thing to happen so early on. We get through it. I explain to her who the Nazi’s were and why they are bad. I point out Poland and Germany on a map. We’re moving on.

Then…the unthinkable. The intolerable happens. Motherfucking disc starts to skip, stall, and freeze. Any time this happens the entire groove of a movie is fucked. It disrupts everything because no matter what’s happening in the movie, the new dilemma is that your disc is jacked and you know that if the problem persists then you will have to eject the disc, wipe it down continuously and then get through all the promotional shit that leads to the chapter you were on. We’re talking ten minutes here.

The disc keeps skipping. I’m pissed. She now is confusing this with Kill Bill. We are having problems. I eject and inspect the disc. Sure enough it looks like shit. “How could this have happened?” I wonder. I think for a minute. Then it dawns on me. Like an angel of heaven, holding a kernel of knowledge, his hand outstretched for me to read the nugget of insight as to why my “Schindler’s List” disc is stuttering like a retard on crack.

Terrorists.

Terrorists ruined my copy of “Schindler’s List”. You want an explanation? Fuck that. Just take my word for it.

Okay. Fine. Here’s the deal. For whatever reason, only God and myself from 2003 know the real reason, but I decided while packing my shit for a year-long tour of duty in Operation Enduring Freedom in Khost, Afghanistan, I decided to add “Schindler’s List” into my DVD book playlist. Perhaps I thought that in-between combat patrols or twelve hour guard shifts I may get a hankering to kick back and soak in some “Schindler” to brighten up my otherwise boring and monotonous day in ye olde war-torn country.

However, like most of the movies on my playlist, I never took the movie out, never even thought about watching it once during my tour. It wasn’t that there wasn’t time. It’s the simple fact that Schindler’s list is about as enjoyable and engaging as a PBS documentary on the holocaust. When it’s over you feel dirty and abused, like you need a shower and some serious soul searching. Being at war gave plenty of that. I didn’t need Spielberg’s help there.

So, I luckily returned from that first tour with no scratches or dents. However, my DVD collection would not be so lucky. You see, Afghanistan is dirt and dust. I lived in a tent the entire ten months, never sleeping in a nice cozy enclosed area. Dirt and dust ran rampant and it got EVERYWHERE, to include the nice little plastic sleeves that held my discs of cinematic joy. In the span of those ten months, nearly all my discs would suffer the same fate.

Fast forward four years later and I’m spitting on the disc, swabbing it with my T-shirt and re-inserting it into the DVD player in order to finish this damn movie (we’re more than forty minutes in…we are committed). Fuck it. I run to the garage and grab a spare DVD player (duh. Who doesn’t have like a hundred DVD players? I have three. In the garage. And two TVs. That I don’t use. What the fuck?)

The spare player sucks dick for gas money. I’m screwed.

I turn to my wife, who, in the darkly lit room, reminds me of one of Schindler’s Jews, a harmless factory worker avoiding the death camps while working in Oscar Schindler’s factory. I must save her. I must keep her on the list. I must get a new copy of this fucking movie, pronto.

I slip on suitable clothes for the public. I grab my keys. I speed off while my wife waits in darkness, patiently. I am her knight. I am her Oscar Schindler. I must deliver her unto this movie. I don’t have much time. Soon she will be overcome by the distractions of time, finding herself a slave to the plights of MySpace and TMZ.com. I must hurry.

I go to Wal-Mart, home of everything you could ever need. This should be quick. Painless. Easy. No, it’s the opposite. I can’t find anything. The DVD’s are hardly in alphabetical order. Who decides what to sell here? Why are some five dollars, some seven, and some thirteen? Who makes this shit up? Who decides what’s being held in stock here? Why the fuck are there twenty copies of “Are We There Yet?” and ZERO copies of “Schindler’s List?” After checking every possible DVD location in the store (which is everywhere...the checkout lanes, the gun counter, the toy section, the underwear…oh these are some nice lace thongs and…oh…what’s that? The Goonies? I haven’t seen that in ages! Underwear and Goonies…God, I love Wal-Mart!”) I give up. I must move on. My wife is probably at the computer now. I am running out of time.

I go to Fred Meyer’s (which is like Wal-Mart, part 2). I fight my way to the DVD section. The DVD’s are in alphabetical order. Hallelujah. However…Houston, we have a BIG fucking problem, there’s no Goddamn “Schindler’s List” and I’m about to blow. I start checking the ridiculous “bargain bins” and racks. It’s nowhere. Who the fuck wants “Schindler’s List” for five bucks? WHO??

I run the aisles. I am a man on a mission. I have lives to save here. Any second, my wife could lose her marbles while being lobotomized on the internet or worse, getting sucked into anything on the E! Channel. I must get her back into the safe zone of cinematic art.

Fucking Fred Meyers. They have a Starbucks, a grocery section, a clothing section, a home and garden section, a seasonal section, an alcoholic beverages section, but rest assured, they most definitely do not have a Goddamn, fucking, Schindler’s List section.

I’m in my truck. I’m driving. I’m fuming. I cannot believe the Gods are making me do this. I am looking at the familiar colors of blue and yellow and I’m pulling into the parking lot and I’m swearing in my head every second that I’m doing it, and I’m running inside like a man into an emergency room with a bride about to give birth, looking for a fucking movie that no one wants to sell but bloody well better want to rent.

I head to drama, because that’s the only section that a movie that does nothing but cause it can be resting. And the phrase, uttered so frequently under our breaths in a quick, swift sentence, usually in a fit of peril…”You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”

It rolls off the tongue. I’m frantic now. I’m heading down every aisle. I start to blame the Blockbuster workers. They are probably too fucking stupid to realize that the movie is supposed to be in drama. They probably stuck it in action. “Schindler’s List”…witness one man’s heroic efforts to rescue the Jews during World War 2, risking his life to save thousands…” Must be an action flick, right? “Starring Chuck Norris as Oscar Schindler and Jessie the Body Ventura as all of Nazi Germany!”

I can’t believe my fucking eyes. They really don’t have it. I’m leaving Alaska. That’s it. I’m leaving Alaska. I don’t want to live in a state where I can’t simply drive to my local Wal-Mart and buy a copy of “Schindler’s List.” This is not the world I want to end up in. This is like living in some Thai village where they crank up the generator once a year and watch the only movie they have, Terminator 2, and cheer for their great fortune. Fuck that.

I want everything at my greedy, American fingertips. As I begin to leave I see that Blockbuster has further categorized their movies. Now, not only are there genre sections, but 99 cents sections, movies for five nights. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is going on here? I comb the alphabet one more time. Low and Behold, the grail I’ve been searching for is there. I grab a disc and head to check out. I can’t fucking believe I’m renting this movie. I look at my watch. I have lost forty minutes. Surely, my wife is too far gone by now, wrapped up in vacuuming or dusting or Denise Richards: It’s Complicated. Fuck me.

The Blockbuster shithead gives me my movie, ensuring that I know what day it’s due back on, as if someone who rents Schindler’s Fucking List can’t count to five. Fuck you, video clerk. Fuck you very much.

I’m heading home. I have the package. I will save you, my dear wife. I will save you from the throes of Living Lohan and I love Money. I will bring you back from a world of In Touch and US Weekly. I will show you that the world is shit and that we do horrible things to each other and that this nice little Jewish man named Steven Spielberg has done a splendid job of reminding us of that.

I get in the house, calling out to her. Nothing. She must be lobotomized by now. I may be too late. I run to the computer room. No! She’s on the computer, typing, it’s too late, I’m too…

She’s checking the bank statement. Something constructive. The hamster in the wheel is still running. I grab her by the arm and yank her back to the TV room. Disc inserted. I get to the chapter we left off on quickly. The black and white splendor is upon us again. Her eyes glaze over and she sinks back into the comfortable movie coma. I did it. I did it.

I sit back and try to let my brain calm down and settle back in to the movie. But it won’t quiet down. How the fuck did this happen? I start to do some reverse engineering; I bought Schindler’s List because it was a great movie, even if very depressing; I took it with me to Afghanistan because only God and me from 2003 knows why; I went to Afghanistan because I joined the Army and that’s where they sent me; The Army went to Afghanistan because that’s where the terrorist masterminds who attacked us on 9/11 were hiding out; therefore, terrorists are responsible for the destruction of my one and only good copy of Schindler’s List, due to the fact that it was destroyed in my possession while deployed for combat operations against said terrorists during Operation Enduring Freedom.

Those motherfuckers.

If you ever needed more of a reason or justification for our presence in Afghanistan/Iraq I want you to think about my story. Think about how many more DVD’s that these terrorists have plundered in their tenure of terror.

All over the world, soldiers are returning from the war with scratched to fuck DVD’s, unplayable, irreparable, and ultimately unsalvageable. A nation of veterans plagued for the rest of their days to hunt down the cinematic classics they so adored enough to take to the trenches with them and in doing so, lost them to the war on terror.

Such is my plight. Such is my life. But, I will not give up. I will replace and rebuild my empire, one DVD at a time.

COMING UP: My trip to L.A. and a series review of Generation Kill

5 comments:

mr.boy said...

Holy hell. This is one of your best blogs ever!

"And Jesse the Body Ventura as all of Nazi Germany..."


Bloody brilliant writing my friend. Keep it up!

Zaki said...

Good stuff. Sorry I missed you in LA. Next time you gotta come to SF.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the funniest blogs you have written in a long time.

Glad to see a vacation recharged your creative juices.

Brian said...

Dude, I can't believe you relented and actually walked into a... gasp... a Ballbuster Video store. That's like SO 1997. I know, because that was the year I quit that sucky job. Now I have a different sucky job, except it sucks in a different hemisphere a majority of the time.

Yeah, and Walmart really has become Impulse Bestbuy. You can't find anything there except stuff you didn't know you wanted until like three seconds after walking in the door. "What did I come here for again? Oh yeah, an MP3-ready knife sharpener! Score! Oh, and look honey! They have a Weird Science/Dr. Zhivago DVD double feature on sale for $1.88! Can't pass THAT up. Damn, it's in Pan & Scan. Fuck it, I'm getting it anyway."

Oh, and don't blame Alaska for your triple P's on this one. I've got two words for you: Amazon.com. Or is that one word? Is that even a word? Do ducks really eat for free at Subway?

But alas, as is my want, I must disagree on the whole "terrorists ruined my movies" premise. It was the Army that ruined mine. How the fook can you lend one joe a movie for only the length of time it takes to view it and still get it back scratched all to hell, like they got confused and tried to play it in an iron maiden. Three months in Ft. Knox ruined about 70% of my movie collection. I'm still finding ones that I didn't even know were fucked. "Oooh, I haven't watched Payback in forever. This is gonna be good!" WRONG. Unless you want to watch the whole thing in fast forward. Payback's a bitch, muthafucka.

"I used to fuck guys like you in prison." -Schindler's List

Oh wait, damn, that was from the other classic Cherie had never seen.

Paul said...

Thanks for the comps, all around. Zaki, my friend, next time for sure. I had a great time in Cali...and my blog about the whole thing is en route.

StaffBuck...I didn't know you used to work at Blockbuster! Or maybe I did and I just forgot...I remember your first day at 1-501...you had me at "McTiernan" my friend.

Wal-Mart truly is an interesting animal. It's like they've had their fingers on the pulse of the consumer for so long that now it's just overkill. Too much of a good thing I think.

And I tend to agree...I guess I do have to shift some blame to my fellow comrades in arms in regards to the status of many of my DVD's...as you well know..."Shirey Blockbuster" is Afghanistan was a great enterprise...with NO enterprise...

However, in the case of "Schindler's"...I assure you...NOBODY ever wanted to borrow that. Instead they ruined my copy of Training Day, which we watched last week...completely cooked...

The moral here is...don't take your movies to war, especially when you can buy bootlegs for two bucks a pop from the locals or borrow somebody else's DVD's so that they can one day write a blog about how fucked up their discs are from war.

What a vicious circle.