I spent an awful lot of time as an adolescent in front of the television with the VCR remote in my hand. The VCR would be set to record, but be paused, and I was ready to unpause it at any moment to capture cool stuff. This would be mostly music videos, but might also be late night talk show content, television specials I wanted, or whatever.
(Whatever modest amount of chutzpah I might have had with girls was effectively tempered by the fact that I was the new kid in town as an 11th-grader. It all worked out—no complaints—but let’s just leave it at I had more time with that remote as a 16-year-old than I might have under different circumstances.)
A couple of years ago I used a USB capture device to bring everything I had to MPEG. To my delight, my VHS cassettes had held up quite well. I noted a bit of audio dropout on a couple of them, but for the most part, I pushed PLAY and digitized them. Now they’re as manipulable as any other movie file.
“They’re not aging anymore.” – Lisa, to Wyatt, in Weird Science
So it’s a blast going through them looking for nuggets to post to YouTube. I see stuff I forgot I recorded, and a lot of that is also stuff I wonder why I did record. Why did I think I would ever again want to watch an hour of Surgeon General C. Everett Koop warning against the dangers of smoking? You ever want to see every single minute of the 1992 presidential debates? I’m your guy. Want to see Adam Curry talking to Femme Fatale for 20 minutes? You let me know. I’ll hook you up.
I have a lot of cool stuff recorded too. There’s a funny thing about that, though. Those of you of age, close your eyes, think back, and try to recapture the mindset you had in, say, 1986. I dare say you couldn’t imagine YouTube, much less the Web at large. But here we are in that world, so this 150 hours of so of stuff I recorded? There’s nearly none of it I can’t access immediately online, and usually of higher quality than my recording.
No, it turns out it’s the commercials that wind up being the gems, in that 25 years later, they’re just as capable of bringing smiles and memories but much harder to hit online. A large percentage of the time, I painstakingly edited them out to save tape space.
But I didn’t always, so a few are there for me to find. There’s just a splendid hilarity in my hurrying through a Guns ‘n’ Roses concert, or Ozzy Osbourne on Later with Bob Costas, hoping to hit a L’Oreal commercial or something.