Thursday, February 26, 2015

Oh, now I remember

A few years ago, my daughter would come home each Summer from college. On most nights she was busy with friends or work but sometimes she'd hang out with Jill and me and watch a movie. Throughout the movie, she did this annoying thing.  About every 30 seconds or so her cell phone would buzz, indicating a new text message.

She would glance at the message and resume the movie watching while tapping away at her phone.  It was pretty impressive.  She didn't have a smart phone.  She texted with the number pad (click '3' twice for 'e', etc).

I was amazed and annoyed.  "You have a perfectly good phone in your hand.  But you insist on using it as a newfangled telegraph machine."

It made no sense to me then, but lately I find myself texting more and more. A text message is generally more appropriate for most of the communicating I do.  Phone courtesy is a bit of a chore when you just need to say, "Lunch.  12:30.  Applebee's"

Granted, if you send me a text telling me you're having lunch at Applebee's, not only will I not join you, but I will have no choice but to assume your tongue has been in some horrible accident.

Then I can simply send a message back like, "Dammit.  I'd love to, but my tongue still works."

The conversation is over.  We didn't have to do all the "How's it going" crap.  We can talk about that some time over a nice Velveeta and cardboard lunch.

So yeah - most of the time, I'd rather text than call. Yesterday, I realized why.

When old people think of phones, it is not cell phones.  It's the kind that work right.

With a phone, both people can talk at the same time and hear each other.  I did telemarketing for about 4 years or so.  I was quite adept at phone conversation. When I first tried to use a cell phone it was so strange I couldn't believe it would catch on.  You can't hear your own voice in the earpiece so if you get disconnected, you might just keep on talking.  There's no clue the other person is gone.

If one of you is in a noisy or windy place, forget about it.  Cell phones work like voice activated walkie-talkies.  If you both start talking at the same time, you'll both stop and say "go ahead" at the same time.  Then you'll both try to talk and so on.

Real phones were pretty cool about letting 2 people talk at the same time.  Also, good old regular low tech phones could even do "party lines."  A cell phone would start crying if you tried that.

Conference calls didn't used to always be a total nightmare.  They are now.  But most of that is completely unrelated to the phone.

Honestly though, I like my phone.  The little idiosyncrasies of cell phones are far outweighed by their convenience. I like that I can always be in touch with everybody.  I can always look up information or get an address.  I often leave the house without knowing exactly where I'm going.  I just ask my phone on the way.  How cool is that?

So I can deal with the goofy voice interface of cell phones, but there's one thing we've lost that I fear we've lost for good.

The satisfying hang-up.  God, I used to love those.  You get mad at someone and you don't have to say anything at all.  You just slam that receiver against the cradle as hard as you can.  Now that's some non-verbal communication there, boy.  Nothing sweeter.

Hang up on somebody like that with a cell phone.  They'll just assume the call got dropped and call you right back.  You have to somehow let them know the conversation is over.  You have to say something like, "Well you could have mentioned it earlier! Bye!"  and gently press the button to end the call so as not to crack the screen of your little pussy phone.

Just not the same.

I realized this when I was telling Jill about hanging up on somebody the other day.  She said, "Did he even  know you hung up on him?"

That's it.  I think I'll write a "Hang-Up" app.  Bye!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Way Hay and Up She Rises

It's too early to know for certain, but I may have just hit pay dirt.

A few weeks ago, we invited my daughter to start having dinner with us on Wednesday nights.  It's been great.  Now we've added my dad to the mix.  Boy howdy!

We had to postpone the Wednesday night dinner (WND) until tonight (Thursday) this week, so everybody was really hungry by dinner time.

But that's not the pay dirt part.  

It all started at the Trocadero Bar ...

Uncle Bob was a character.  He was my dad's uncle, but we just called him uncle Bob.

I remember the first time I saw him.  I was amazed by his magnificent odor.  It was the sort of thing that could be so easily destroyed with a shower (including soap) on something like a monthly basis.

Uncle Bob didn't shower.  Or um, bathe.  I'm pretty sure the occasional drunken stumble in the rain was good enough for Uncle Bob.

Anyway - the first time I remember seeing Uncle Bob, we were over at his house sitting around for some reason.  

It was not a clean house, per se.  I don't know who was all there.  I'm pretty sure my mom was in the kitchen talking to Uncle Bob's wife.  My dad and I were sitting on a card table thing and Bob was in like a church pew in the foyer of the shanty he lived in. 

Bob had a big nose.  But he was actually quite good looking, in my opinion.  Most amazing to me was that when he picked his nose (all the time), most of his index finger disappeared in there.

Bob had an incredible deep, powerful voice.  I always thought he could be in radio where a good portion of his scent would be blocked from his listeners.  Surely some of that shit could travel over radio waves. 

It would be a great radio show too.  Because for every story my dad tells, Bob might have had ten stories.

Like this one time he was at the Trocadero Bar ...

It was a Friday afternoon. He had just walked in and sat down when a woman approached him and said "Why don't you buy me a drink, Sweetie?"

Bob had yet to have a drink that day ...

He turned to gaze upon a most hideous creature.  He let out a slight scream of terror as he jumped up from his spot and moved to the other end of the bar to get away.

Since it was a Friday afternoon and The Trocadero was where all the cool kids hung out back in the day (I guess), The place was hopping pretty good about 3 hours later.  

Bob was having a great time.  He'd been hitting the bottle pretty hard and why not?  He works all week for this.  Literally.  He'd usually be flat broke by Monday.  The soap would have to wait until next pay day.  Again.

Anyway, at around 10 PM, he saw the most beautiful creature he'd ever laid eyes on.  "I must have her," he thought.  But he was unsure of himself.  Then he remembered the old bible verse, "He who hesitates, masturbates.  Then burns in hell for it."  (Living bible).

So he tucked his shirt, took a deep breath and went for it.  He used every bit of charm he could muster and said, "You still interested in that drink, sweetie?"

She turned to him with an adorable little smile and a coquettish little slap of his wrist.  He had to shake off a confusing feeling of nausea as he steeled himself for his next proposition.

"Why don't we grab some package and get the hell outta here?"

Her eyes widened with understanding and they were on their merry way.  Drunk, smelly, and ugly they meandered down the street.

As they approached a streetlight, Bob's fair maiden touched his forearm.  She said to him "Why don't you give me a kiss."

When this story is told, the voice used to describe her plea for intimacy sounds kind of like a cross between Sylvester the Cat and Steven Tyler from Aerosmith in "Walk This Way,"  when he says "Just give me a kiss!"

Bob looked up to see the well-lit leathery visage of his beloved, puckering, grizzled, old harpy.  He was suddenly, miraculously sober, if only for enough time to save himself.

He dropped the six pack to the ground and ran as fast as he could away from the horrible woman.  He did not stop running until a cop detained him a couple of blocks from the scene.

The policeman listened to Bob's story, not believing a word.  He figured Bob had raped the woman or something and was making a break.  Bob insisted there's no way.  He said he was running to get away from her hideous face.

The policeman told Bob to wait there while he went back to get the woman's side of the story.

The cop drove the cruiser backward to where the the woman was leaning against the street light casually smoking a cigarette.

Bob watched as the cop came to a stop next to the woman.  She started to walk toward the cruiser when it peeled out toward Bob.

Out of breath and visibly shaken, the cop said to Bob, "You can go."

I chose this story from a selection of about 5 or 6 my dad told tonight.  Of course two of those, I've already blogged about.  While dad was telling those, I googled my version on my iphone and handed it to Jolene so she could read along to dad's narration.  True story.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

We'll always have Tori

A few weeks back, I read a facebook trending headline.  I didn't read the story.  Just the headline next to the squiggly blue arrow.  It said something about "The Black Crowes call it quits."

Now the first thing I didn't think was "Again?"

That was actually the fourth thing I thought.  I thought they already broke up.  But I'm old so I get confused sometimes.

It would be really cool if it was the third thing I thought since the Wikipedia says it's the third time they broke up.  I don't know if it matters all that much. After "Hard to Handle," have they been played?  Is "Hard to Handle" them?

The third thing I thought was "Oh whew.  I'd be really upset if the Black Keys (or is it Keyes) broke up.  Although it seems like that Dan Auerbach guy tends to step out from time to time.

The Black Keys Kind of remind me of the White Stripes except their guitarist isn't as good and their drummer isn't as cute.  Oh yeah - and the White Stripes broke up.  Which kind of reminds me of the Black Crowes (crows?).

The second thing I thought was "Wait a minute.  Seriously. The guys who sing all those funny songs like "Tighten Up" and "Next Girl"?  Those guys are breaking up?  Crap.  No wait.  That's the Black Key(e)s.  Whew.

A few days before I saw this headline about the Black Crowes splitting up, I was over at my brother-in-law (Lane's) house listening to some long play (LP) vinyl records.  His son has recently moved into an apartment and there was a pile of his old clothes at the house. Lane said I should take them home and and let the boys pick through them to see if there's anything they'd like.

In that pile of clothes was an old Nirvana t-shirt.  Jack claimed it immediately.  I said "Do you know who that is?"  He said, "Yeah you always play it."

I said, "Nevermind."

Jack takes a Parkour class on Tuesday nights.  On the way out there, he asked if I'd spin the "Smells like Teen Spirit."

"Sure thing Sonny,"  I said.

Much to my young son's disappointment, I threw on the haunting Tori Amos version.  I personally think as far as covers go, it's one of the better ones.

"Oh god!  What is this?  Why do you even have this?"  Came Jack's scorn at hearing Tori's sweet dark voice.

"I think it's great is why,"  I explained.

"Please put on the real one,"  Jack begged.

"After this is over,"  I cautioned.

Anyway, a couple of days later, I read on the Facebook trending story thing that the Black Crowes Broke up.  Since I was thinking of the Black Keys and they have a rough fun style reminiscent (to me at least) of Nirvana, I immediately thought of Tori Amos and said on Facebook something like "At least Tori Amos is still together."

Of course all of this could have been avoided if the trending headline had a little photo of the band next to it.

Then I would have surely been like "What?  T.Rex is breaking up?"

Never get old.