News Column

Dothan Eagle, Ala., Jim Cook column

July 14, 2013


July 14--Things that the people in front of me in the line at the Redbox are doing:

1. Inventing a cure for cancer.

2. Designing a memorial for the victims of the great Sharknado of '13.

3. Still moving faster than the line at the Verizon store.

4. Considering an offer of asylum from Venezuela.

5. Providing fodder for a column by a snarky little jerk.

6. Writing two chapters of "The Winds of Winter."

7. Snipe hunting.

8. Enjoying being the center of attention in the homicidal thoughts of everyone behind them in line.

9. Spending nine minutes to pick between "The Vow" and "Safe Haven"? Seriously?

Perhaps the main thing the line at the Redbox does is make me nostalgic for the golden age of the video store. The video store, now largely taking up space next to the buggy whip and rotary dial phone in the dustbin of history, was once the source of all home media.

I made my first trip to the video store in 1983 after my dad had bought this fancy contraption called a four-head VCR. First movie I ever rented was a two-episode tape of "He-Man."

The video store became a magical place for me growing up, as I could go and browse through tons of great movies and even get a peek in the hidden wonders of the adult room if I loitered outside the locked door, ostensibly giving serious thought to renting "Terms of Endearment."

Candy, games, movies and recommendations about the best of all three of those could be found at the video store. Video stores also provided a great source of employment for teens who didn't want to bag groceries or come home smelling like fried chicken every night. All the cool kids worked at the video store, so, of course, I never did.

Today, I mainly use the Redbox as my source for movies. I could pirate movies off the Internet, but it looks like too much work and I'd probably be the one person in 100,000 who they actually fine $65 million for downloading season 2 of "Felicity" (Don't judge). On Demand is a slippery slope which results in a multi-hundred dollar cable bill.

With the Redbox, I figure I'm getting a deal at $1 and some change a night. Of course, it never works out this way, and through my carelessness I take the movie back a week later or misplace it and end up buying it. Unfortunately, I only end up misplacing and owning the really terrible movies, which is why I own a copy of that godawful Green Lantern movie.

It may be a bit silly to wax nostalgic about the video store, but after waiting in line 10 minutes only to see a guy leave with a copy of one of those major release knock-offs like "Supererman," "Silver Linings Daybook" or "Zero Beer Thirty," I think most people can understand.

When not waiting in a Redbox line, Jim Cook can be contacted at


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