DVD player hijacking --  01/22/06

So -- despite having Monday off -- I've still gone a week without updating. (Actually, although I had Monday off, I actually worked a few hours on both Sunday and Monday. Yeah, okay, so obviously I'm American, not European.)

So the week just flew past. I even went to the office on Friday. As I was getting ready to leave in the morning Nancy asked me if I remembered how to get there or if I needed to go to Mapquest.http://www.mapquest.com
-- "Very funny!" I replied, and added that lately I've been using Google Maps

I rented a DVD of Four Brothers -- sort of combination action movie and film noir -- about four adopted brothers (two white, two black) from the bad part of Detroit (uh, actually, is there any other part of Detroit?) who, after the woman who raised them is gunned down during a robbery, set out to track down her killers. (As one cop explained to another, this woman had successfully rescued hundreds of kids and found them good homes but these four were so screwed up that nobody wanted them, so she kept them and raised them herself.).

The part of the mother (she is gunned down about four minutes into the movie, but appears several more times in flashbacks and in her sons' imaginations) was played by Fionnula Flanagan -- who seemed almost familiar but I checked and I've only seen one other of the fifty-six movies listed for her -- and that was the 1967 film Ulysses (remind me to talk about that film someday). Mark Wahlberg played one of the brothers (looking, to me, a bit like Mickey Rourke did maybe ten or fifteen years ago). Anyway, the movie was not bad, a good car chase and running gun battle at night on slippery, snowy streets, some amusing brotherly bickering among the four stars, a relatively straight-forward plot with a few noirish twists.

The annoying thing did not involve the the movie itself -- it was the way the DVD hijacked my DVD player.

Have you noticed the way more and more DVDs are programmed to block access to the menu for a period of time?

It used to be that they did that while running the anti-piracy message. This one had a particularly long-winded bit about that. Not content to insult and threaten their customers with the FBI and Interpol, this one went on (and on) about how you wouldn't steal this, and you wouldn't steal that, etc., to eventually arrive at the point where they tell you that therefore you shouldn't steal movies either. At which point I was so pissed off at the producers of this DVD, I would have gladly pirated a movie just to get even with them for wasting my time and keeping me from taking control of my own DVD player.

But it got worse. Next came a trailer for another movie. Can't bring up the menu. Then a trailer for another movie. Then a trailer for yet another one. There may have been a fourth trailer -- I'm not sure because I left the room for a while. I like trailers. I enjoy watching them when I go to a movie theatre and I usually watch them on movies that I rent for home viewing. However, I do not want to be forced to watch them.

This movie has a running time of 109 minutes. Other times when a DVD blocks access to the menu for the first minute or two, I'll just leave the room and make popcorn, etc., knowing that by the time I get back, the main menu will have loaded, but I didn't have time to waste doing that this night. We came into the living room to watch it a few minutes after eight o'clock knowing that (allowing for time to insert the disk into the DVD player, turn on the TV, start the movie and adjust the volume, etc.) it would end a couple of minutes before ten o'clock. This was important because I am married to a tennis fan and the Australian Open was scheduled to be on ESPN2 at ten o'clock. So we missed the first ten or so minutes of the Open.

The arrogance of the motion picture industry and the recording industry is unbelievable. They preach and preach and preach about piracy while scheming and plotting to limit (or even eliminate) the concept of fair use, passing out bribes to Congress (oh, I'm so sorry, I meant providing "campaign contributions"), planting illegal software on customer computers (i.e., Sony and its rootkit), and on and on. [By the way, I think everyone should boycott all Sony products until they publicly apologize and promise never to do such a thing again.]

Those movie trailers at the front of the DVDs amount to advertising. Will their next step be to insert ads for condo time shares, aluminum siding, pots and pans, diet pills, escort services? This is like spam that can't be deleted.

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