A couple days ago I was archiving a bunch of crap off my hard drive and simultaneously doing some clean-up on some family videos we had transferred onto videotape/DVD. Essentially, I was dressing them up, improving the lighting/effects, and combining them from 8 DVD's into about two. As I was doing this, I remembered a DVD I'd bought about five years ago from Amazon.UK, "Who Dares Wins."
The sub-story goes as follows: the aforementioned film is English, but the producers of said film released it over here and re-badged it "The Final Option." In both guises, it's a thriller about the SAS, the elite anti-terrorist TAC squad that is an autonomous sub-unit of the British Special Forces, and it stands for "Special Air Service" (although members thereof use this acronym to embody speed, agression and surprise). The American equivalent is Seal Team Six, which, for the most part, is modeled after the modern SAS, and needless to say, both units are extremely efficient, effective rescue-and-destroy squads. The film's English title is the SAS motto, whereas the American title describes the situation in which the SAS's services are requested. Anyhoo...the dual-titled film has quite a respectable cast, including Lewis Collins, Judy Davis, Edward Woodward and Richard Widmark, to name a few. Casting aside, the action sequences are about as incredible to watch as anything committed to film before or after.
As I mentioned earlier, I'd purchased the film on DVD from the UK and was hoping it would play on my home DVD player; it wouldn't. For those of you not in the know, DVD's are "locked" by region, so any DVD you purchase here will only work in players made for North America; same goes with other nations -- buy a DVD in England and try to play it here and you're SOL. Worse still, which I'll briefly cover later, is that England's televisions are encoded to PAL, whereas American televisions, until very recently, were strictly NTSC (and now are increasingly becoming HD/High Definition). This meant I was able to enjoy it from -- and only from -- the comfort of my desk chair on my PC and not my home shake-the-couch theater. La-dee-frickin'-da. So I spent the better part of a few years watching the film, if at all, on my PC, hoping that one day, with the advent of recordable DVD's, I'd get the opportunity to stuff that sucker into my home DVD player and rouse the neighbors with the sounds of helicopters, SAS personnel crashing through embassy windows, flash-bang grenades, and some bitchin' theme music.
So this past weekend, whilst archiving stuff off the PC onto DVD's, I was putzing around the house and cleaning up in preparation for my girlfriend's arrival; as such I came across the copy of Who Dares Wins and the idea hit me that since I was in prep DVD mode I ought to try to get it from a locked UK disc to an unlocked BoogieDisc.
So as I'm ripping, burning and stuffing (damn, why does GeekSpeak always sound like a hemorrhoidal condition?) the disc, I was having no luck. First, it was too large; second, I needed to find a way to get it from PAL to NTSC, which I was desperately (and unsuccessfully) trying to accomplish. Third, I was so busy with everything else it kept being relegated to the bottom of the pile, so to speak. And fourth, everytime I screwed up I wound up watching a few snippets of it, if at least to enjoy the soundtrack ;-) And not to be forgotten, I was on-and-off talking to my girlfriend, happily distracted by her melodious tones while she pursued a commercial venture somewhere across the Golden Gate Bridge...
Forgive the convoluted, regurgitated send-up; the main reason why I mention the film, and why I'm up at this ungodly hour, is because I shared the movie (on videotape, back when such things existed) with a friend of mine while we were at school, and despite the fact we were forced to watch an embassy siege on a 13" television (the speakers were bigger than the TV), we still got off watching it at least once a month. That friend, Ron, and I hadn't spoken for awhile so, as I was trying to get the film onto disc, I was thinking how I'd send him a copy in Hong Kong once I managed to complete the quest.
...Fast-forward to this morning, around 5:15. My phone rings -- and while I am usually in a sleep so deep at that hour that a sumo wrestler could use my head as an ass-pillow and I'd never know it -- I wake up and groggily answer the phone, assuming it was my other half. She's never called me that late/early, and she has rarely woken me up that late/early even when we're sharing the same bed, but I figured she couldn't sleep and wanted to hear my voice. So when I heard Ron's voice on the other end I was a bit puzzled, a bit pissed off and a bit bewildered.
Once I finally got my eyes to focus, we talked a bit -- of course, I thanked him profusely and very enthusiastically for waking me up before sunrise and let him know I would soon return the favor (more on that later). So in the meantime, he let me know his wife was having some health issues and he was a bit drained, so in lieu of speaking to any of his acquaintences in the land of the rising sun (he's a New Yorker but works for a financial organization in Japan), he figured he could (and would) call me.
So needless to say, once I was awake we talked, and it sounds like everything will be okay, but when a loved one's health is up in the air, the worry is palpable, scary and all-encompassing -- unfortunately, I know that all too well. He was privy to the entire debacle of the couple years that culminated in August of this past summer (if you need to know the back story, check the archives or e-mail me a request and I'll re-post it or send you a copy). In short, I told him how well my dad's been doing and how far back he's come since the summer, and I let him know that his other half would be fine as well. After that, we did a bit of catch-up; I told him about how the crazy ex situation was, thankfully, completely in the past tense, how far I'd come vis-a-vis my girlfriend and how happy I was (and how amazed I was that I was in the place I was in); he told me about playing hockey in Japan (most Japanese hockey players are about 5'6; he's 6'2, 260), how he was doing with work and gave me an in-depth description of having "woman sushi." That's a story for another time and place.
By the time I realized it was really fargin' early, we agreed that upon his next visit to NYC, we'd go find a pick-up hockey game and spend some time hangin'.
After a phone call like that, I found it near impossible to get back to bed, so I opted instead to commit the whole experience to blogspeak and jump in the shower. In any case, before I hit the bafroom, it occurred to me that I might have ESP. If not, at the very least, I am glad I have good friends that turn to me, and me to them, when the shit hits the fan.
Or, at the very least, when you're trying to watch a movie showing what happens when, and after, the shit hits the fan.