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Thursday, 4 October 2012


I had to get a smog test on my car last week for the first time in ages.

I guess they make you do it every two years, if your car is past a certain age. But I've had cars that weren't past that age for a number of years now, since I was leasing the car before this one, and this one had 40,000 miles on it when I bought it almost exactly three years ago. In any case, getting a smog test on my car was something I had almost forgotten I ever needed to do.

But it came up on my registration renewal notice this year, and last week, I took it to the place that does the smog tests. (Because, you know, there's only one.) They told me it would be about 25 minutes. So my son and I wandered over to a grubby old department store called Big Lots, which is what a Target would look like if it was on day five of a meth binge and had lost all hope.

The place was just gross and dingy. As a telling sign of what was on the shelves, I picked up a random bottle of unrefigeratred orange juice -- ponder that for a moment -- that had expired four days earlier. Since it wasn't refrigerated, presumably it had enough preservatives to keep it ticking on into the next decade. In fact, at a normal store, if you picked up a bottle of this orange juice, the expiration date would be three years hence.

Not at Big Lots. That orange juice may have been sitting there for five years.

At least I wasn't that worried about letting my son remove whatever he wanted from the shelves and just leave it in the aisle. Then again, I probably shouldn't have let him touch anything -- not for the store's sake, but for his.

But Big Lots did have a rack of cheap DVDs, so Big Lots had my attention.

I actually had a $3 copy of Transamerica in my hands before deciding that, you know, I probably don't need to own Transamerica, even if it's really good and even if it would cost me only $3.

One thing I thought was sort of funny was that some of these DVDs came gift-wrapped. It was an idea I had never considered before. If you're running late to a party, and you need to bring a present, just grab this already-wrapped DVD. It's a perfect idea for this crazy on-the-go world we live in.

Except that only a single movie was packaged this way: The Invention of Lying.

It would be one thing if there were only one pre-wrapped copy of the movie, but there were like ten, scattered throughout the selections.

This tells me one of two things: 1) The Invention of Lying was, for some reason, considered uniquely appropriate for this particular promotion, and was the only movie to be packaged this way, or 2) All the other movies packaged this way sold, but The Invention of Lying did not, leading it to ends its miserable existence in his shitty chain store next to a bottle of expired orange juice.

Really, who's to say how a particular inventory of cheap DVDs makes its way to Big Lots. And really, The Invention of Lying is a pretty good movie, if not a wholly successful delivery on its promising setup. (It turns into a kind of sentimental mush in the third act.)

But just the randomness of it -- ten copies of this one movie, pre-wrapped for your convenience -- caught my attention and prompted me to write about it.

Because that's what I do.

I said earlier in this post that I bought my car almost exactly three years ago. The reason I had to buy a new car was that my old car was totaled in an accident in which another car turned in front of me while I was zipping along (with the right of way) at about 40 miles per hour (which was below the speed limit). I braked, but not nearly in time. This accident occurred on October 2, 2009.

Which was also, I just noticed, the release date of The Invention of Lying.

Spooky.

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