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Maintenance and Repair

Amazingly, the bedroom's VCR's replacement is in place and properly connected. Our dressers are a pair of Korean chests, something over five feet square and a couple of feet deep, and they stand opposite our bed, flanking a large painting that I acquired by barter in the mid Seventies. Studded with drawers of various sizes, each chest has a capacious center cabinet that is opened by double doors. These cabinets lend themselves to housing entertainment equipment. Kathleen's, to the right, holds the monitor and the VCR. Mine holds the mini stereo, the DVD player, and the Laser Disc player. Have you already figured out that a serpent of cords runs between the chests? The audio from the VCR goes to the other cabinet for amplification. The video from the DVD and Laser Disc players goes to the other cabinet for viewing. I have just enough intelligence to lay down the connections between all the components, but not enough to remember the configuration. I was terrified of having to fiddle with all the leads, and, indeed, it took a while to get them right.

The last holdout was the video link from the players on the left to the VCR on the right. I simply could not get a picture from the DVD player in my cabinet. Sound, yes, but no picture. I examined the manual, but soon saw that nothing would save me from heavy lifting. In my zeal to pull the old machine from the cabinet - a zeal that sublimated a desire to continue my swing, right through the window - I yanked the video cord, which, I suppose I should add, is really a series of RCA-plugged cords. Nobody makes a cable long enough to run the distance, so there are little female-female pods to establish connections along the way. One of these pulled away from its companion. Much debris had to be moved to effect a reconnection.

The VCR was replaced with a VCR/DVD combo, so there's a bit of redundancy. The DVD player is a Toshiba dual deck that's already five or six years old. Or maybe older. I'm thinking of replacing it with the international (no-zone) model that can be had from an outfit in Miami that advertises, sporadically, in France-Amérique. Then I can get a DVD of Le Chat, and one of Subway without the ghastly dubbing.


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Where'd you get your Laser Dick?

Thanks, Tom - I was very tempted to let the slip stand when Ms NOLA pointed it out to me.

Caution! You need not only a no-zone player, but translation from SECAM/PAL video to NTSC. The former is nonsense by design, and the latter is not really by design. There are a few DVD players that actually will translate down to NTSC, but that is an operation that's far better performed in the TV itself. Sadly, there are very few TVs sold in the US that take NTSC, PAL, and SECAM input. (Naturally, they are fairly common outside of North America.)

The easiest and cheapest solution for watching foreign DVDs -- and one that produces quite nice picture quality -- is to watch them on a computer. I haven't figured out a solution for Mac OS X yet, but there is a lovely piece of software from Hong Kong that I highly endorse, DVD Region-Free, which de-regionizes the DVD player in your Windows computer. The video-standard problem is handled effortlessly by your computer.

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