Cosmos odyssey, pt. 1

Okay, I’ll jinx myself now.

Namely: for years now, I’ve been wanting to get a copy of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, the 1980 science TV series of quite legendary reputation. I’ve seen the Youtube clips of Hypatia and of Erastothenes and the well in Syene; I’ve even contemplated the illegal “student discount” or getting digital copies that simply appear; but the heft, the idea of actually having some tangible object with Cosmos stamped on it remained.

And, for the first few years I was wroth: that is, pissed. The year 1980 wasn’t all that distant; but I just couldn’t find Region 2 DVDs of the show. VHS copies, sure; American-style DVDs, yeah, but nothing European. Just to annoy me, it seemed, it was eventually made available for free watching on Hulu, the Youtube-like service that everyone outside America hates with a fierce passion. (“We’re sorry, currently our video library can only be streamed within the United States”… and a red veil of rage clouds the world and I once again think whether the emotional payoff of flinging the monitor out the window would be worth the costs. Not now… but maybe next time, Hulu. Maybe next time the scales will be right.)

(Well, Hulu’s presumably not hated by those who’ve done the apparently rather simple proxy cheat and appear to be in the US of A; the details are but a google away, but I’m too lazy, not too virtuous, to do that.)

Then eventually I heard rumors of a Region 2 release; and I searched the internet, and searched again, but found nothing but some curious copies on Ebay; and then the awful truth dawned: it was a Spanish release. Still Region 2, but good luck trying to find it sold new anywhere outside Iberia. (And “sold new” — well, a certain pattern of needing things to be done with some style starts to emerge. I’ve occasionally said that if something can’t be done with style, it shouldn’t be done at all — consequently I haven’t done much anything. And what style is, well, that’s a good question.)

Then again frustration, cursing, a few sacrifices tossed to the Altar for the Painful Demise of the Inventors of the Region Codes, the Inconsiderate Bastards (“May they be stung by billions and billions of bees! Big nasty bees, too!”); then forgetfulness and, now and then, checking and more cursing.

Then, last summer, summer of 2009: rumors again of an English Region 2 release. Nothing tangible; the name of a company was mentioned, but extensive searching found only one company of that name, and there was no mention of Cosmos in their catalog.

Then, late last summer, good news! Amazon.co.uk showed Cosmos, released by Fremantle Media, Region 2, and under 20 pounds (money, not weight — er, money and weight both, but money was meant here), or no more in euros! Affordable, excellent, pants-wettingly awesome!

A gross little jig of joy followed; the people on the floor below wondered if the heavens were falling.

Then, an ugly realization. I had a bank card of sorts, but exactly (from prior experience) of the sort that just somehow didn’t work in internet transactions, no matter how much it boasted of being Verified by Visa and all. I had visited the local bank office a few times to ask about this; they were always very polite and slightly clueless, and eager to say everything should (in a carefully nonspecific way) work: and nothing ever worked no matter what I did; most probably it was some dumb mistake of mine and I should have pressed for more answers, but I just was too tired to try that again. And I wasn’t all that comfortable with shooting off my one and only account to the internet anyway.

Then — and I seem to be starting entirely too many paragraphs with “then”, but this is a sequential story — I went to the greatest of gurus, the fountain of all wisdom, my idol and origin of being: my father, the teacher. His advice was simple: get the loyalty card of the S-Group, a Finnish “retailing cooperative organisation” (I guess that’s the English translation of it). This was not ideological advice, but rather based on the fact that the said loyalty card came with an account in the S-Bank of the said group (I prefer the Finnish name S-Pankki, mostly only because I abbreviate it as “spank” everywhere I need to mention it; “put fifty hits on the spank account yesterday” and all), and the account was easily accompanied by a debit card tied to the loyalty card; and the said debit card worked all-okay in internet money exchanges.

And now, a few months after that sage advice — and after noticing that they don’t think a graduate student well-off enough to give him a credit-and-debit card (feckin’ hubris, saying “oh, sure, why not apply for that too” when I don’t need it) — I received the debit card yesterday, and a few hours after that with much trepidation went online and ordered Cosmos from the English Amazon. No hitches, no problems. The money’s gone from the account; and now that I’ve jinxed myself telling how happy I’m about this state of affairs, I no doubt am resigned to waiting for the package to come along with Santa.

On the other hand, if this works, I could next try to master Paypal; shouldn’t take more than a couple of years, either.

* * *

S-Group — The other similar organization is Kesko or the K-Group. Some of their shops are identified by a number of K-letters, more for bigger stores. Guess what’s the signifier, hugely displayed over the entrance, for the second-biggest sort?

Yep, KKK.

Sheesh.

One Response to “Cosmos odyssey, pt. 1”

  1. Bob O'H Says:

    An odd thing – I could never get white sheets at KKK.

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