Does Fry's Come with That Flying Turtle?

In the past few months, Raw Meat and I have instituted a semi-regular special holiday at work. It only happens on the last day of the work week, and it usually coincides with a paycheck upon which the immediate rendering of the rent money for that month is not a major issue, i.e. it happens in the middle of the month.

We call these days "Fry's Days," because we take off for a slightly elongated lunchtime and go to Fry's Electronics down the road a piece.

I am going to avoid any controversial issues regarding their business practices, and just say this: if you are unlucky enough to not have a Fry's Electronics in your neck of the woods, I feel sorry for you. Fry's can be best described as a sloppier, less corporate-looking version of Best Buy. The place is not what you would call "well-scrubbed," many of the fixtures need serious repair, and the owners are prone to placing some ridiculously out-of-date promotional materials out on the floor, most likely just because they can. Also, if you are looking for a particular new title or even a regularly stocked one, good luck. Things are placed as haphazardly upon the shelves as possible, and even if they are in the right place at one point, it won't be for long.

But beyond that, Fry's is gorgeous. It's a geek paradise, especially for geeks who are constantly looking for out-of-the-blue deals on computer and audio/video software and hardware. And the place is constantly busy, almost a mini-city of its own right here in Anaheim. It's no wonder the place has its own deli right smack in the middle of its massive structure, and also no wonder the place is stocked to the brim with about a half-mile of refrigerated soda and energy drinks. And there are so many bags and packages of high-carb snacks, Fry's may actually have to create their own zombies to mine the extra salt. There is also an area with massage chairs, which is usually laden with at least a dozen customers at any given time. If you think the people checking them out are seriously considering purchasing one of those chairs, then there's a refurbished Commodore 64 in Aisle 12 I think you should slap some money down. It's the coming thing...

Me? I come for the video. Not the hardcore porno variety, which they do carry. The amazing thing is that the section is right next to the regular video software, each row shrouded by black cards, but still readily available for perusing. Fry's has a massive amount of videos, possibly tripling Best Buy's output (don't quote me on it; it's just a guess). Raw Meat and I show up, and he takes off for the computer peripherals and perhaps a demo game of Guitar Hero or this and that. Me? I hit the DVD racks.

For several months now, I have been eyeing on the shelves at Fry's, with the view of trying to slowly complete my kaiju collection, the box set of late '90s Gamera films. This set -- containing Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995), Gamera: Attack of Legion (1996) and Gamera: Revenge of Iris (1999) -- has constantly been hidden behind a copy of what I call the "fake "Gamera box set. This particular box set is the same case for the full set, but with only a copy of Guardian of the Universe inside, along with a chunk of styrofoam holding the place where the purchaser would eventually place the other two movies once they were bought. I don't know how long Fry's has had this particular "fake" set, since the other two movies came out long, long ago on DVD, but there it is.

Once upon a time -- and here's the twist, and the set-up for what some kaiju fan somewhere might call a miracle -- these two box sets did not sit, one in front of the other. Once, they sat slightly apart from each other, with a couple of public domain copies of other older Gamera films betwixt them. And then one day, a fair-haired former Alaskan blundered into the place and saw the full Gamera box set, and not having the means to purchase it at exactly that moment, hid the full Gamera box set behind the "fake" one. The Alaskan had seen the haphazard manner in which the movies where kept, and realized that, with just a wee bit of luck, he could possibly come back in the near future and still manage to get this item.

That "near future" time was supposed to be two weeks. It turned into three months. Other trips were taken to Fry's in that span, and though the Alaskan checked to make sure the full Gamera box set was still there on each trip, he somehow always managed to have his attention (and his pocket money) diverted by some other cause. Not the hardcore porno videos, but some other cause.

And then the Alaskan checked on Amazon a couple of weeks ago, thinking perhaps he would purchase the full Gamera box set that way, and discovered to his immediate shock that the full Gamera box set was now out-of-print. Even recently, it was still considered a "new" item on Amazon, but there it was, with the usual horde of out-of-print specialists offering up even the cheapest copies at a mere $49.99, where once it sold new at $35. Sensing that soon this price would go up ever higher to a point where it would be Bedlam-worthy ridiculous to pay $200 for a set of three great-to-OK films about a giant flying turtle, the Alaskan knew what he had to do: make one more attempt at a trip to Fry's, and see if the full Gamera box set was still hidden behind the "fake" one.

And thus came last "Fry's Day," where the attempt for what could perhaps be the final ascent was made, and caught between the burning hot sunlight of the day and the tempestuous moods of his fellows, the Alaskan managed to traverse the vast expanses of the Fry's show floor, clawed his way through hordes of incidental shoppers and brain-dead teenagers, and reach the "Science Fiction G" rack in the DVD section. The Alaskan reached out and struggled to move the "fake" Gamera set forward with a strenuous but simple flick of his forefinger. With a mighty crash, the imposter set fell slightly towards him, and there it was -- still shining slightly in the place where it was abandoned formerly, lo those many moons ago -- the full Gamera box set!

And now it is in the Alaskan's pale, sunlight-sensitive hands. He has defied the odds -- that someone would come along in those three months and simply move or buy the DVD set -- and he has at last completed his epic quest. [It is also possible that he vastly overrated the needs of the Anaheim public to purchase cheesy flying turtle videos.]

And now, at last, the Alaskan finally has time to peruse the hardcore porno videos at Fry's. No raincoat required, except possibly the customers surrounding him might be warned to wear theirs. Methinks there's a storm on the horizon...

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