The magic play button

One of my greatest childhood discoveries was being able to pick up one of the local television stations on my FM radio. I was soon hooking up to my father’s cassette recorder to tape my favourite sitcoms. (We only had 60-minute tapes, and so recording movies was way too much trouble.)

This was my first taste of being to replay a show (even though I only had the sound), and to re-live the emotions from when I first saw it. Admittedly this was the late 70s/early 80s, and back the emotional scenes were about as subtle as a sledgehammer. But it still amazed me that I could feel happy or sad at the push of a button. To me, it was a bit like magic.

Years later, when I moved out of home and got my very own VCR (my parents didn’t get one until my final year of high school) I recorded hundreds of movies. Most of them got played once before I recorded over them with another show. And some didn’t even make it past the first scene before being overwritten.

But every so often I’d record a movie that made me feel happy, sad, heroic, romantic, etc. When that happened I’d quickly pull the tab on the video cassette so I couldn’t tape over it. (Well, not easily. Anyone else do the sticky-tape trick when they couldn’t find a blank tape?) And if I ever felt down I’d just put the tape in, press ‘Play’, and by the time the show was over I’d be feeling a lot better. Again, magic.

These days I do most of my movie-watching on DVD, which means I no longer have to worry about tapes wearing out. (And believe me, a few of them did.) It also means I longer have to watch the entire movie to get that wave of emotion washing over me. Sometimes it’s a particular scene that does it for me, and now I can go straight to it.

Sometimes it doesn’t work that way. Sometimes you need everything that comes before the scene for it to have the full effect. But sometimes a scene can stand alone, and it’s all you need to see for the magic to happen.

The good news is I can now put these movies on my iPhone, and with a few taps I can make the magic happen wherever I go.

So if you see me sitting somewhere looking at my phone with my headphones on and a huge grin on my face, don’t worry.

I’m just enjoying a little bit of magic.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Scott March 15, 2010, 12:01 am

    You mean TV stations, not radio, in your first sentence, right? (Obviously!) 🙂

    • Bill Harper March 15, 2010, 6:42 am

      Whoops! Yep, I meant television station. Thanks for picking that up.


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