When last we saw my confused friend Dave, he and I nearly had a falling out. So ruffled were our feathers that we ceased communicating for the duration of the summer. But a few exchanged e-mails set things back in motion. His latest Internet (AOL, actually) conquest, a woman named Kathy, recently purchased a 27-inch Sony WEGA. Smitten by the set's pretty pictures, Dave called me two weeks ago and announced that the inevitable had come to pass: "Jack," said the Bronx-accented voice on the other end, "I'll take that TV you were going to give me. And guess what? I want to get a DVD player now!" Silence. "You mean you're ready to give up that Beta machine?" I said in my most sarcastic tone. "[Expletive] you," Dave shot back. "I'm ready to get into DVD. And I want you to tell me what to get. And can you do this 'calibration' thing you keep talking about?" "It's the Panasonic CT-27D12D that will need calibrating, chowderhead," I responded. "And, yes, I can give you a quick calibration through the user menus." "What's a 'user menu'?" "I'll explain that later," I said with a groan. "And you'll hook everything up?" Silence. "[Expletive], I asked if you'll hook everything up." "Yes, Dave. I want your system to work, so I'll hook the things up myself." My best insults seem always to go unnoticed. A few minutes later, I asked him how much he was planning on spending. Dave surprised me by saying he was willing to fork over more than $200 on a player. "Dave," I informed him, "a really nice match for this Panasonic monitor would be a Sony 725 player, and it's progressive scan to boot." "What's prog --" "That doesn't concern you now, because the Panasonic won't support it," I explained patiently. "But in two or three years it will mean something to you. Before then, though, you will have bought a basic sound system that can give you Dolby Digital and DTS in complete surround sound. What's more, that Sony 725 can be had for around $140 at good guys, meaning we can get some nice component-video cables." We made plans to get Dave's DVD player this Saturday. Tomorrow. And just last night my Luddite buddy called to remind me of our plans. "I'm buying you lunch, Jack," he threw in as an added incentive while calling from Kathy's apartment. Only then to throw a problem at me: Kathy couldn't get a picture on her new Sony. So, of course I interrupted my evening DVD screening of Star Trek: The Next Generation to walk Dave and his new girlfriend through the enormous challenge of getting the Sony back up and running. Turned out to be a problem with the cable box. So here I am, on the eve of Dave's indoctrination into the world of home theater. He even wants to purchase some DVDs tomorrow, he told me eagerly just hours ago when calling during my lunch break. "You know what the first movie I get will be? 2001!" he said. I could almost see him beaming. "I figured you'd like that." "Thanks, Dave. Now you can retire that old VHS copy you have." Then came another stunner: "Jack, guess what! I've been looking at that Home Theater Forum you talk about. I saw a lot of your posts." "I post a lot, Dave. I have to." "So how do you sign up?" "Let's talk about that later, Dave." And so it goes.