Lost Episodes

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I don't want to burst anyone's bubble, here... so if you believe in haunted "Lost Episode" legends and enjoy living in that world, maybe this isn't the post for you.

Don't get me wrong - I hate when people complain about "lack of realism" in entertainment, and I think all kids need to believe in Santa and the Tooth Fairy for as long as possible, but... this is different.

Back in the 80s I met this dude, Sid, who used to cut old VHS tapes and shit. It was more than a hobby for him - it was pretty much his entire life. His parents were a bit more wealthy than I'd been blessed with, so when we were teenagers and I was slaving away at a "Skats" (Yes, Skats) fast food restaurant, he just hung out around the house, cutting tapes. All day. All night.

Of course, as you get older things in your past become a bit clearer and I think he might've been borderline Autistic... or maybe he was a very high-functioning person with Asperger's... but of course I'm no expert and I'm not saying that was the case. It's just the best and quickest way I can think of to explain his personality and this obsession with cutting tapes, cutting tapes, cutting tapes.

It started when he saw "Old Yeller" as a little kid. For whatever reason, his parents let him watch that shit. If you're unfamiliar with it, it's the tale of a boy and his dog. I hope I don't have to announce the spoiler on such an old-ass movie, but in the end the boy has to shoot his own dog because it's rabid.

Sid didn't appreciate this. His dad photographed and video-taped weddings, so he showed Sid how to operate some of the machines... and Sid cut out the ending, replacing it with an earlier, happier scene as if Old Yeller just suddenly "got better" offscreen.

He watched the tape obsessively after that, even into his early teens when I'd first met him. He made me watch it once to show how he "fixed" it, and I could actually picture him as a little boy once he started applauding and cheering his own faux-ending.

I don't want to say I was a bad influence, but after I saw it I asked if he could do that with other movies.

My major interest was perhaps taking a film or two and cutting in some nude frames the actresses hadn't really done... Don't worry, though. I never had the guts to actually ask if he would. I just imagined how cool it would be. Often.

Sid told me that, yes, he could "fix" any movie he wanted. In fact, he had done it with a few others. He had a copy of a Ghost Busters cartoon and - I shit you not - every single ghost was completely removed. The story made no sense, there was no continuity, but he had accomplished it and I was very impressed.

I guess in the time of VHS, these things seemed more magical than they do nowadays.

As time went by, I encouraged Sid to edit more movies, but with different purposes. Instead of whitewashing all the scary stuff like he'd wanted to do, I got him to "see the light" on how awesome he could make things.

Somewhere out there, this chubby Star Wars nerd from our highschool has all three original films flawlessly cut together, with edited-in effects that would've made George Lucas himself cry out: "Enough meddling!!"

We charged him like twenty dollars for the only copy, because we were idiots.

Anyway, this went on for a while before I lost most of my interest in it. It was more of a goof for me than it was for him. This is the point where I started working, started driving, started taking bases with local girls... while he just got more and more involved in cutting those tapes.

I think his favorites were cartoons. When The Simpsons came around, he went ape shit with those. Now his edits weren't so much fixing things as just breaking them in interesting ways. Another thing that sticks out in my mind is when he recorded an episode of M*A*S*H and cut it with a gory old war flick. Halfway through his version, the camp gets bombed... soldiers invade... everyone dies. At the end, he specifically worked in freeze-frames of each cast member's face. Eyes closed.

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