Doin’ The Disc-Case Shuffle


Our Christmas gifts told the tale. My daughters have outgrown toys. Now, they are caught up in the micro-packaged world of encapsulated entertainment. Even the big kids, their mom and dad, succumb to the clutches of compact discs and DVDs – shiny, round keys to hours of pleasure.
Discs and cartridges are now part of our daily routine. My kids spend their time pondering over them, spoiled for choice – music discs, video discs, game discs, and blank discs to burn your own videos, music or photos on, to expand your collection even further.
Small and streamlined, our discs are so portable, so storable. Spin them and we listen to our favorite songs. Spin again, and we are transported into a movie. Another spin lets us control our character through the escapades and labyrinths of a video-game world. How did we ever live without this convenient, compartmentalized entertainment?
Today I stepped into a black and white world. Comforting, it’s like the TV of my early childhood. I’m captivated by the light-hearted sleuthing of the Thin Man. Filmed in 1939, in the days before James Bond and Maxwell Smart, detective Nick Charles falls somewhere in between as he laughs in the face of danger, but only as far as his quick wit allows.
He usually falters at the mercy of the bad guys and wrestles a bit with his fallibility and his cohort, wife Nora. Then, with the help of some of the hoods (old friends who respect him), he gets the crooks and comes up smelling like a rose, with a cocktail in his hand.
I stop the movie halfway though and check myself back to things I should be doing, like washing our laundry and writing a column.
While I finish watching later, I vaguely remember Peter Lawford as the Thin Man from early TV days, but William Powell’s character in the old movies is tops. Roguishly attractive, though not so handsome as Bond, and smoother than Maxwell Smart, what could take three lines to convey, Powell can accomplish with one look.
I pop the disk out of the player and into its compact case. I rearrange some shelves to make room for the new DVDs and CDs we got each other for Christmas. Where will we escape to next? I could join Kathie in an adventure with her Shanghai Knights, but I’m also tempted by a boxed set of the first two seasons of the Andy Griffith Show. Unlike Nick Charles, my dalliance with a life of ease will be my downfall.
All the world is on a disc, and its people merely players.


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