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Adios, Blockbuster
by Denise DuVernay

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Four weeks ago, I wrote my column in Philadelphia, at Starbucks and a Holiday Inn. Two weeks ago, I meant to write a column, but I was in Jacksonville, catching up with friends from grad school who I hadn't seen in a couple years. You see, I was on a fantastic road trip that started and ended in New York, with stops in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., Chapel Hill, Asheville, Atlanta, Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and Savannah. I saw Delaware (finally) but no screen door factory, ate in a couple Waffle Houses (with no adverse reactions, happily), saw a burlesque show, met a delightful chap and cartoon book author named Lonnie Millsap, learned some new slang. I went on the trip with my friend David Ellis Dickerson, who is writing yet another memoir. I can't wait to read it!

Now I'm back in Illinois, and today, after trying to visit a Borders that is now closed, I dropped into a closing Blockbuster. In the spirit of my last column about owning our guilty pleasures, I was pleased to finally get my own copy of LEGALLY BLONDE on DVD. Sadly, the only copy left was too scratched for me to risk the $3.99. I did get STRANGER THAN FICTION and IN THE LOOP. I also may or may not have impulse bought some deeply discounted Raisinets that were conveniently placed near the cash registers.

You may say, "Well, duh, Du, of course there are Raisinets at the counter at Blockbuster!" And to most people I'm sure this is common knowledge, but I can count the number of times I've been to Blockbuster on my right hand. Once in Milwaukee, I had to rent HAROLD AND MAUDE to use in class because I had lent my copy out, and the only place that had it was a Blockbuster two towns over. Last year, I won the grand prize at my friend's Oscar Party (but before you go thinking that I am super awesome at predicting Oscar winners, there were only four competitors) which included a gift card to Blockbuster. It's not that I've ever had anything against Blockbuster, per se, although I'm sure that at some point something in their business practices offended me (most American corporations have); it's more that I always rented from the local mom-n-pop kinds of places. Partly, it's because I worked at one of those locally-owned video stores in the early 90s, and partly it's because I mistrust chain video stores because Hollywood Video in Richfield, MN insisted that I never returned a VHS tape that I so totally returned, and the argument persisted until the store finally closed. Good riddance!

I feel bad about Blockbuster closing in the same way that I feel sad about Borders closing: perfectly cromulent people are losing their jobs and losing their social circles. They may say that they'll all still meet at the Applebee's up the road from the store, but that will maybe last a month, two tops, and then the group is dissolved. Friendships are lost. Blockbuster itself has that Netflix-ish service so maybe they'll be okay. (I'm more sad about Borders because I actually like shopping there AND one of my bestest friends is losing his job after 13 years with the company). And besides, the soon-to-be-unemployed Blockbuster employee told me that he's never seen an episode of The Simpsons and then chastised us for not having a Blu-ray player. Really? I'm supposed to feel insulted by some douche who doesn't watch The Simpsons? Not bloody likely.

That's the last time I try to get some guy at Blockbuster to finish the phrase "She's like a Milk Dud, Lis . . . "

Speaking of The Simpsons, I wrote a piece for Splitsider this week about how it's not a kids' show. (An article about 22 years too late, but you might still enjoy it). Dr. Karma and I are also holding a Simpsons-related contest. See details here.


ALL GOOD THINGS: This romantic thriller dramatizes the real-life disappearance of Katie Marks. Kirsten Dunst is great in this. Rated R.

BLACK SWAN: Natalie Portman's riveting portrayal of Nina, a ballerina who needs to get in touch with her dark side in order to bring passion to the dance, is really hot. Rated R.

FAIR GAME: Naomi Watts stars as Valerie Plame in this adaptation of the true story of how a CIA agent's status was revealed in a mess of political trickery. Rated PG-13.

Mad Men Season 4: The most recent season of AMC's critically acclaimed drama series about a fictional advertising agency on Madison Avenue in the 1960s. Jon Hamm: Who knew Missouri was so sexy?

TANGLED: Mandy Moore supplies the voice of Rapunzel in this animated adaptation of the classic children's story. I haven't seen it yet, but it seems delightful. Rated PG.

Treme: The Complete First Season: This spirited drama depicts life in New Orleans as its inhabitants pick up the pieces just months after Hurricane Katrina. John Goodman and Melissa Leo are terrific.

Upstairs, Downstairs: The Complete Series - 40th Anniversary Collection: This British drama series depicted social change in early twentieth century London through the lens of a wealthy family (who lived upstairs) and their servants (downstairs).


BABE [Blu-ray]: That'll do pig. That'll do.

I LOVE YOU PHILLIP MORRIS: I'd be lying if I'd said I've seen this. But I really wanted to, and now I soon will.

TAXI DRIVER [Blu-ray]: In case you've been in too good a mood lately.

THE PEOPLE vs. LARRY FLYNT [Blu-ray]: Great movie. I just try not to think about Edward Norton and Courtney Love having sex.

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Mike Thomas
Apr 3, 2011 1:19 AM
[X] delete
Mom 'n Pop Video Store gets eaten by Big Box Video Store; Big Box Video Store gets eaten by online video service; online video service gets eaten by streaming video.

Who's gonna eat streaming video?

Good column, Du.

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Take Your Queue From Du
Every other Sunday

Semi-wholesome Midwestern girl and certified Geek Magnet offers her suggestions - often new, sometimes classic - for DVDs that are definitely queue-worthy.

Other Columns
Other columns by Denise DuVernay:

Goodbye, Du

Du Chats Movies With Comics Author Lonnie Millsap

Du Reviews ALPOCALYPSE by "Weird Al" Yankovic

Another Piece Praising BRIDESMAIDS

Friendship Films and DVD Picks for May 17

All Columns

Denise DuVernay
9 out of 10 librarians think Denise is a hoot. The 10th one couldn't corroborate because she was dead.

If you have a comment, question, or suggestion, you can send a message to Denise DuVernay by clicking here.

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