Stupid Tuesday questions, Geritol edition

The other day I was taking a break from NPR, which (pace certain respected commenters) I generally enjoy a great deal.  Even the most ardent fans need a break from the news, and as much as I try to pretend to be interested in Greek austerity measures at a certain point my humanity asserts itself and I desire something a little catchier than the mellifluous voice of Terry Gross.  As it happens, there’s a really great independent radio station in the area that plays a wonderful mix of older stuff and new releases I tend to like.  (Any station that plays “Deadbeat Club” during my morning commute has found a fan for life.)  It’s a nice way of listening both to songs I know and love and also feeling at least somewhat connected to what Kids are listening to These Days, minus those artists whose hits make me want to plunge a knitting needle into my ear.

One of those new selections that’s been getting lots of play is a dandy little number by Eric Hutchinson called “Watching You Watch Him.”  It was playing the other day and I was humming along when one of the lyrics struck me.  To the object of his affection, Mr. Hutchinson sings “I love you like a broken record plays,” which I think is a fantastic, evocative line.  You totally get what he means with that line, right?

Except that’s when it occurred to me — how many young listeners have actually heard a broken record?  Outside of a few hipsters, I imagine most Kids These Days have never listened to a vinyl record.  “Like a broken record” may not be a totally dead metaphor for them, but it’s certainly looking a little peaked.  Realizing that the target demographic may actually have had no real-life experience of what the song references, I suddenly felt incredibly old.  (It does not help that, even as I type, I can see a jar of hard candies on my desk.  Verbena-flavored hard candies.)  While most of my childhood listening was done either to cassette tapes or CDs, I know I listened to plenty of LPs as well.  And with that, the gaping chasm between me and Young People Today (which had already reached canyon-like dimensions when I decided I’d rather superglue my eyelids together than watch ten minutes of “Jersey Shore”) widened a little bit more.  (This comment thread didn’t help, either.)

So that’s this week’s question — what collective experience separates you from younger generations?  What was commonplace to you and your cohort that has since gone the way of the dodo?  Conversely, what do Kids These Days do that makes it clear you are no longer one of them?  When you’re done answering, you can come join me on the sofa, where we can both doze off while watching reruns of “Golden Girls.”

Russell Saunders

Russell Saunders is the ridiculously flimsy pseudonym of a pediatrician in New England. He has a husband, three sons, daughter, cat and dog, though not in that order. He enjoys reading, running and cooking. He can be contacted at blindeddoc using his Gmail account. Twitter types can follow him @russellsaunder1.


  1. In HS and college when i wanted to find out about some new band i had to scour the handful of music papers for any info. And even then for new bands there might be nothing or a couple of paragraphs which didn’t really say that much or let me know what the band sounded like. If some music was available it might be an expensive import witch i didn’t know was worth putting down good money for. Or in a similar vein if i was interested in some older band i had to look through rock history books which are a generally weak soup to find out something about some mostly unknown band. Now a quick google and i have videos, band websites and if i was so inclined i could download most or all of a bands music for money or for free.

    For those MST3k fans, when a Sampo was first mentioned we had very little way to find out what the heck it was. Maybe we could check our home encyclopaedia, which didn’t have any info. We had to tolerate not knowing what a Sampo was, which did have its own charm.

    • It occurred to me as I drove in to work this morning that nobody will learn how to use a card catalog or Reader’s Guide to Periodic Literature in school any longer.

      • One of the prominent features of our main front room is a retired card catalog.

        We keep our tapes in it. It seems appropriate.

        • This is the greatest thing I’ve ever heard in my entire life.

        • When I was a kid my parents kept an old stand-up, console, style Victrola in the garage. It had a crank and played ’78s. It was in lousy shape but I used to like to play with it. So then about 30 years ago they retired and had a farm auction. My prospective father-in-law knew I kind of liked the thing and bought it for me. So it stayed in my parents’ basement for another twenty. Now I’ve had it in my garage for the last ten years or so.

          My intention was always to refurbish the exterior, take the old, ruined, crank hardware out of it, and mount my good direct-drive turntable in there. Just a cool(ish) way to keep my turntable and old records. But CD’s took over, and one thing led to another, and I just never got around to it.

          Last summer we decided to clean the garage and I found my records. The box had gotten wet on the bottom and all the records — generally classic rock from the ’70s and ’80s — were ruined with mold. Consulted a friend who knows about this sort of thing and was told, “Maybe you could fix. For a lot of work and money.” Ended up tossing them.

          I genuinely mourned.

          • This touches my heart because I imagine I will have a similar experience one day.

      • I think that one is more ancient than you think, Russell. I remember learning how to look up books on the library computer in 2nd grade. Card catalogs went out loooong ago.

        • I remember in elementary school learning how to use the card catalog, and then at the public library having to use the computer to look things up. By the time I was in high school, looking up things at the library was predominately a computer-only affair.

  2. Repacing “like a broken record” with “like an MP3 you’re listening to through a network that has been disconnected” is cumbersome, though the latter does sound like the former.

    The most recent reality check I’ve gotten was a student who stopped me to ask why it was such a big deal to go from “East Germany” to “West Germany.” Don’t they have cars? I then had to explain that there used to be two Germanies.

    Another involves explaining that it used to be that most people couldn’t be online and on the telephone at the same time unless you had two lines.

    It’s a strange feeling when I have a class full of people who weren’t born when 9/11 happened. And when I have older kids, even they probably don’t remember it all that much.

  3. The first sentence of William Gibson’s Neuromancer is

    The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

    That is, grey and snowy. But to kids who only know cable and modern TVs that detect the absence of a signal, it sounds like bright blue.

    • Do you channels go off now? It seems they more often show informercails or repeats throughout the night.

      • Channels used to go off?! Growing up with hundreds of television channels and knowing there was more tv than I could ever watch, this seems so strange.

        • In the olden days, the dial wasn’t full. When I was growing up, we got 2, 4, 5, 7, and 9. All the other VHF channels were dead, and would show a random, changing array pf black and white pixels that amounted to a shifting pattern of grays, which is exactly what Gibson had in mind.

          • Most of what you were looking at were radio waves from outer space believe it or not. Mostly from our sun I suppose but also from farther out as well.

  4. I knew I could no longer identify with kids when Miley Cyrus became popular. I will never fully understand the fascination with Justin Bieber either.

    “What was commonplace to you and your cohort that has since gone the way of the dodo? ”
    Umm… VHS? That is a stretch though.

    I’m not sure I’m going to qualify for the old people sofa. 🙁

    • Mary-

      I think the musical shifts are true of any generation. My parents didn’t get Nirvana or Pearl Jam in the same way I don’t get Beiber.

      • My mom was into Buddy Holly and Bobby Darin, and my dad was into the old (ie Sun label) Johnny Cash and Hank, Sr. The odd thing is that I came to appreciate that music when I grew older.
        Come to think of it, they were probably freaking out when I went through that Glenn Miller/Duke Ellington phase.

  5. How about when the show came on, during the opening credits, they would say “In Color!” And you were watching it on a black and white set wishing the folks would spring for a new color TV. Those gizmos, called a “rotator”, that would spin your TV antenna so you could point it at a different station.

    Eight-track tapes in your car.
    Gas at $0.35/gal.
    Party-line telephones.

    I grew up with the body count from Vietnam on the nightly news. Some shit never changes.

    • I didn’t know Wizard of Oz turned to color when Dorothy got to Oz until I was in college, thanks to growing up with color TV (into the early ’80s). I made quite a fool of myself watching Oz in a dorm room and going apeshit when the color appeared.

  6. We had to watch a show when it was actually broadcast. And if you didn’t, and you weren’t there to press record, well, bully for you. You never saw that show and you couldn’t look up a plot synopsis on the internet.

    There were no ATMs, so waiting online endlessly in banks with my mom as a child. But they often had lollipops.

    All adults smoked, and we were left alone (and always dropped off) for play dates.

    The one concession to eating a healthy diet in my house was margarine. The kind in a tub. With trans-fats.

    Busy signals. Do kids actually call each other as much as we used to?

    Apparently, Facebook is not a medium primarily used for seeing if any of your high school friends have an interesting job and seeing everyone’s cute kid pictures.

    When I first started teaching, I could make it least a few references relevant to the Kids These Days. This semester, many thanked me for encouraging them to bring in clips from their own movies, because they could not relate to my old fuddy-duddy references.

    21year olds have all seen Independence Day, which came out when they were five. That, and the fact that few watch Mad Men nade clearer our great divide.

    • I’ve been meaning to watch Mad Men. Sorry, Rose.

  7. You know the sound of tuning a radio?

    ZzzzzzbrPalestinians todayzzzxxxbbzzands across Americzzzzzzzzoh oh oh the right stuzzzzzzxxxxocket man! Burning out his fuse up here alone!

    There’s also a song by Francis Dunnery that sings about communication and the opening bars/rhythm are set to the “percussion” of a 56k Modem. Because that’s the sound of the future.

    • The modern equivalent is the series of random still images you get when you’re time-skipping through commercials.

      (visual gibberish) woman’s face (visual gibberish) mountains (visual gibberish) car driving (visual gibberish) CHEESEBURGER (visual gibberish) “-anal douche.” (visual gibberish) people are running! (gibuasal vivverish) “-erg tonight at eleven, the new-” (visual gibberish) (ah crap, I went too far, rewind rewind)

      • Intercut some guys playing guitars, and it’s a music video.

  8. “I was taking a break from NPR, which (pace certain respected commenters) I generally enjoy a great deal.”

    Elitist! 🙂

    But to answer your question–and something Will alluded to with the West Germany / East Germany–I’ll say the Cold War. Until I was a sophomore in high school (1989-1990), the Cold War was very much a part of what we heard about on TV, etc.

    • I mourn for the younger viewers who will never truly understand the drama of “Rocky IV” or the subtle humor of “Spies Like Us.”

      • Mr. T turned 60 yesterday.

        I’m trying to prepare myself for the conversation where I’m telling the nephews how he was a scary bad guy in Rocky III.

      • Don’t forget the mixture of wacky student hijinks and bleeding-edge SDI technology that was “Real Genius”.

    • The Cold War is what came to my mind, too. Specifically, the fallout shelter signs all over the place (on buildings that would have done damn little to shelter you). Kids these days, they don’t know the fear of instant annihilation at the hands of godless commies like we did.

      • My dad’s office building had one of those signs on it, and it actually probably would have provided some shelter. However, if the Reds had gotten so far as to have been nuking my hometown, chances are we’d have been scroooooooooooooood anyway.

    • There’s a kind of computer memory called DDR. Whenever I buy some, I ask if it was manufactured in East Germany.

  9. Over in Mindless Diversions this past weekend, Miss Mary commented on a new artist she’s really loving, that I had never heard of. I asked about them, and she explained she listened to them on YouTube. ON YOUTUBE! Who the hell listens to music on YouTube?

    (The answer, of course, is everyone that is not an old man.)

    • I listen to music on YouTube sometimes, but I prefer Spotify when I can swing it. Also, having finally upgraded to satellite radio in the car, I’m re-experiencing what it’s like to hear music on the radio for the first time.

          • Ah. Good to know. Another thing that separates me from all these whippersnappers is my desire NOT to have everyone know what I’m doing at every hour of every day.

          • But Russell, how can you deprive the world of every fleeting thought that passes through your head, 160 characters at a time?

          • This.

            I may have said this before here, but one of the things I’ve noticed since joining Facebook is that instead of getting to keep tabs on what hundreds of people I’ve known throughout my life are up to with their families, careers, etc., I get to know what about 5 of them are doing every fifteen fishing minutes.

            “At the store!”

            “Tacos tonight!”

            “Watching American Idol!”

            “Just got my mocha coffee!”

          • That is kind of annoying, Tod. And how come it is always the 5 people you care about least and are only facebook friends with them because… well there is no good reason.

          • I have reached Facebook friend Critical Mass, at which point I can scan any given sample of randomly-selected “friends” and have no earthly clue who most of them even are.

          • Russell – I think that is why it has become common place to refer to “friends” in different ways. In any given conversation I hear people qualify how they relate to people. It is no longer just friend or colleague, it is facebook friend, bff, frenemy, acquaintance, buddy, LinkedIn, co-worker, etc.

          • I may have said this before here, but one of the things I’ve noticed since joining Facebook is that instead of getting to keep tabs on what hundreds of people I’ve known throughout my life are up to with their families, careers, etc., I get to know what about 5 of them are doing every fifteen fishing minutes.

            That is why I Facebook purge every few months. My new threshold for remaining a friend is, “This person would care deeply if I died.” The number who made it is depressingly small.

          • Mary – you know when you were asking if everything you say makes me feel old?

            ” it is facebook friend, bff, frenemy, acquaintance, buddy, LinkedIn, co-worker, etc.”

            I think this is proof that the answer is yes. 🙂

          • Dang it, I can’t say anything around you people.

          • I find it interesting that this conversation is taking place on a blog whose authorship is primarily older men. My 28-year-old wife doesn’t know what a blog is! My mom thinks they’re a fad! You guys are BLOGGING about not understanding young people? SRSLY?!?! :-p

          • “Dang it, I can’t say anything around you people.”

            “You people”…?

          • Yeah, but Kazzy, the kids are all tweeting each other. No time for blogs.

            Come to think of it, I don’t get Twitter. Never did. Likely never will.

          • I see a few specific uses for which Twitter makes sense and some individuals or professions where it makes sense, but for most folks and most purposes, it just seems silly.

          • For the record, I totally don’t get the fascination behind twitter.

            @Kazzy – “’You people’…?”

            I was referring to those more mature than you and I. Perhaps those above 30…

        • Spotify is the one that won’t let you sign up except via linking to your Facebook account. Apparently they consider this a feature — how could anybody possibly not want that? (Which is a very Facebook-like way of looking at things, I must say.) I have a Facebook account, but I do NOT let anything else attach to it, so no Spotify for me.

    • It is amusing how YouTube has become a music-hosting service.

  10. the resurgence of cassette tapes. they blow dead bears.

      • Mix tapes.

        Mix thumbdrives just don’t have any poetry involved in their creation.

        • One of the first things I created for my wife when we started dating was a mix playlist for her iPod Shuffle. Since it’s going to be played on random, it involves an entirely different kind of approach.

          • Aww, that is so sweet. I thought mixed tapes or playlists were a thing of the past. Actually, men who perform romantic gestures is probably a more accurate description of what I was thinking of.

          • Since it’s going to be played on random

            WHAT??? WHAT???

            When *I* created mix tapes, I not only very carefully picked the ebb and flow of the tape, I introduced each song with a short speech about why the song was important to me.

            Random. Feh.

          • Wha wha now? The whole point of the mix tape is to guide the listener’s emotions from song to song. Putting it on “random” can only work if the playlist contains songs that all have the exact same emotional content, the exact same kinds of intros, and the exact same kinds of outros. And at that point, you’ve abandoned the idea of the “mix” tape entirely, and opted for homogeneity. Defeats the purpose.

          • “When *I* created mix tapes, I not only very carefully picked the ebb and flow of the tape, I introduced each song with a short speech about why the song was important to me.”

            You’re not serious, are you? Please tell me you’re not. I’ll give you a dollar if you tell me you’re not.

          • As serious as Death.

            And the first time I wrote that sentence, I wrote “death” with a lower-case d and then backspaced and rewrote the word with a capital D this time.

            No, I didn’t move the mouse and highlight the D and retype over it. I erased the whole word and then rewrote it.

            Like it was an electric typewriter.

          • The IBM Selectric that I grew up with erased (also: you seriously could kill an elephant with that thing, it weighed 900 lbs).

            The mix tape, I’m absolutely 100% onboard with Jaybird up until the sentence-between-songs-bit. That feels kind of like cheating.

            But the mix tape. Oh, the mix tape. If it weren’t for the fact that this is already a ruined topic

        • JB-

          I rarely highlight. I learned most of the shortcut keys to moving around text when I took keyboarding in high school. It is one reason I hate Macs… they don’t seem to work there!

          • I learned to type on an IBM Selectric and, from there, on a Franklin Ace (with Wordstar!) Home Computer. (They called them “Home Computers”.)

            I may have been in college before I used a mouse.

          • They do, but you have to use the Apple/Command key instead of the control key. Sometimes.

      • “Wait, what? Cassette tapes are enjoying a resurgence? Really? Why on earth? They’re awful. ”

        cheap and easy to reproduce for small runs with tiny labels and artists. vaguely unique. far cheaper than vinyl, far less faceless than cds. also the kids these days.

        it’s annoying as hell as i don’t have a cassette player and never will again – and sometimes i’d like to hear a friend’s new demo or someone’s new ep. the first time someone handed me a cassette a few years ago i thought they were messing with me. and i can’t do vinyl for the next few years as i have a toddler whose name is destruction, so unless they have a bandcamp/mp3 store, i miss out on some (presumably) good stuff sometimes.

        all of my mixtapes are mp3s these days, in accordance with the laws of god and man.

        and yeah, playing someone’s mixtape at random is kinda like smashing a homemade birthday cake because “it’s all gonna get chewed up eventually anyway”.

        • ” Technically, Burt, the point of a mix tape is the self-gratification of the person who makes it.”

          bullhockey. it is an expression of love and devotion.

          • Bullhockey?

            Who said that? “Bullpucky”, now that one I know.

          • This is perhaps a post unto itself, but there is something totally unhinged about the idea that you can express your love and devotion to someone else by (in Jay’s case, literally) telling the other person what things you find important/meaningful.

          • it is an expression of love and devotion.

            This is why you need the little speech between songs.

          • for some reason i can only reply to certain areas of the thread – apologies.

            “This is perhaps a post unto itself, but there is something totally unhinged about the idea that you can express your love and devotion to someone else by (in Jay’s case, literally) telling the other person what things you find important/meaningful.”

            a who a huh a whuh?

            no, you make it for the other person out of things they will like. i made a mixtape for my wife’s crappy 2 hour driving commute upstate. i didn’t put things i think are awesomely important – or even importantly awesome – i filled it with songs she likes and blended it decently.

            perhaps this is a regional american thing, like soda/pop?
            (of course none of this touches on the hip hop definition of mixtape, which is wholly different than the context we’re using it in)

          • “bullhockey” might be fun. It’s like field hockey, but with an angry bull loosed onto the field. Every five minutes or so the bull is hit with a Taser to make sure he stays mad. The players’ hockey sticks are sharpened on the non-blade tip, and if a player kills the bull then his team immediately wins the game.

            It’s sort of like Quidditch, really, if the Golden Snitch wanted to kill you.

          • Which reminds me – nerds on college campuses no longer do medieval foam rubber sword fights – now they dress up like Harry Potter characters and play quidditch.

          • it’s something my mother always said in lieu of the more useful/better term.

            since people don’t curse here i was trying to keep things rome style.

          • It’s sort of like Quidditch, really, if the Golden Snitch wanted to kill you.

            DD wins the thread.

  11. I remember back when we used to say “There’s a web site for that” instead of “there’s an app for that”.

    • I recently heard a story of a family friend going into a warehouse store and asking a clerk to help him locate a boombox to play his CDs on. The clerk laughed and showed him around. He left with a docking station for an MP3 player that also has a CD player in it. He doesn’t even own an MP3 player!

      • Having reached the age where I formed my own musical tastes (say, 13ish) around the time CDs appeared on the market, and owning a fairly large collection of them from my adolescence, even I am mystified by the fact that they still make CD players.

  12. There are a lot of good answers here already, but I’ll add manual windows on cars. The kind with the crank. Having used a dial-up modem might separate me from Young People Today, but I hated every second of it even when I had to do it. What a miserable experience that was.

    I can’t think of anything kids do today that turns me off. It’s possible that’s because I’m not very old (I’m not), but I also like to think it’s because I’m extremely open-minded about new experiences. I’m also an inveterate progressive (in the technological sense): when we change the way we do something, it’s because the old way was stupid.

    • “when we change the way we do something, it’s because the old way was stupid.”

      I’d believe that, except all too often the new way is just as stupid, just with different colored lights on it.

      • I believe this statement summarizes the reason I give a flip about what y0u say. Thank you, Patrick. In short, you are awesome.

    • I’ll add manual windows on cars. The kind with the crank.

      Damn I miss those! Two reasons. First, I could fix them when they stopped working (did so repeatedly on my old pickup). Second, they give me the illusion I might actually be able to get the hell out of the car when it goes off the bridge into the water (one of my top 5 terrifying ways to die). Who the hell needs an electric window opener anyway? If you don’t have hands, don’t drive.

      • Mythbisters showed you wouldn’t be able to crank, either. But, sure, an impression!

        • I don’t remember them showing that, but they did show the difficulty of holding your breath until the water pressure equalized enough to open the door.

          That’s a hard scene for me to watch. About as bad as watching the buried alive scene in Kill Bill.

          • Sorry, bro…
            “You can open a window in a submerged car by using a manual window crank.
            Using a test weight of 350 lbs (equivalent to pressure differential from just two feet of immersion), the pressure of the window glass against the frame is so great that no amount of effort can move the gear. You are more likely to break the window handle.”

            Now, Mythbusters aren’t the most rigorous of all scientists, so you obviously take this with a grain of salt. And if I have somehow contributed to a new nightmare for you… good… :-D.

          • Couldn’t you crank down the window before the car completely sank?

  13. Hand a kid a toy phone, even an old fashioned one. Watch them walk around and take pictures. Cry.

    • OMG, totally. My dad was using a rotary phone up until a few years ago.

      • I should have clarified… young children assume that ALL phones are also cameras. They don’t realize they were once separate things.

        • Kazzy, a couple of hours after I read this, I picked up my kid from school. We had the following conversation:

          Son: I want to hear the Black Keys!
          Me: That’s on Daddy’s phone.
          Son: What music is on your phone?
          Me: None.
          Son: So what is your phone for?

  14. I hate people complaining about annoyances that come with amazingly convenient technological advances. I’m sorry… you hate having to charge your mini computer that you call a phone that has more technology in it than half the stuff in space? Fuck off.

    Louis CK captures it perfectly (as he tends to do):

  15. Card catalogs. (Bonus for lawyers: Shepherdizing with a book. And a pocket part.)

    Graphic equalizers on your component stereo system. As far as the speakers go, bigger was better.

    Ronald Reagan was President. The Russians were the bad guys and the Chinese were inscrutable and you couldn’t talk about Germany without someone asking which one you meant.

    Saturday morning cartoons that were funny. Dick Clark counting down America’s Top 20. American Bandstand and Soul Train. Saturday Night Live when it was actually funny.

  16. Reply to Ryan, up there:

    “This is perhaps a post unto itself, but there is something totally unhinged about the idea that you can express your love and devotion to someone else by (in Jay’s case, literally) telling the other person what things you find important/meaningful.”

    Wait… isn’t love and devotion pretty much an emotional state wherein you find a particular entity important and meaningful?

    I think your implication is that this sort of activity is narcissistic. Certainly it *can* be. However, one of the reasons why I’m over the moon for my wife is that she appreciates the things that I find important and meaningful, even if they are indeed things that she herself does not find either important or meaningful, except as they pertain to me and my relationship with the thing.

    Love isn’t about subsuming the other person to your self-obsessed model of the world, but it’s also not about subsuming yourself to the other person’s self-obsessed model of the world, either.

    • This will sound overly serious about something that is fundamentally silly. But I was on the receiving end of some of those mix tapes lo these many years ago. Because they’d invested so much in it, I felt some pressure to be over the moon about everything. If I didn’t like a song or two on it, or didn’t listen to it often enough, I was not the girl they thought it was. Basically, I felt them to be tests.

      My husband and I, who have many similar interests and enjoy doing many of the same things — we actually have the same job — have really different taste in music. It’s actually kind of a joke between us. He’s forever listening to all this new music from bands with very silly names, and playing it for me, and I always think it sucks except for maybe once a year. One lovely thing about marriage is that tests are over and nothing hangs on, say, the songs I like.

      • This is my take as well. In my experience, mix tapes are (almost?) always substantially more about the person making them than the person they are supposedly made for.

        • that’s a dang shame. like giving someone a poem you wrote about yourself and how awesome you are.

          i do not thing i shall ever see
          a poem as lovely as me
          hell yeah

          i’d never have tested my wife thusly because our venn diagrams are so far apart, minus a few exceptions, as to be in different universes. it worked out a few times at some concerts but for the most part i’d go to my shows and she’d go to hers*. (note: this has not saved me from plays, musicals, the opera, ballet, that awful “away we go” movie, and the felice brothers.)

          * back when we did such things. now i’m lucky if i got to two or three shows a year.

          • In defense of teenagers: they’re idiots who don’t know anything but what kind of music they like and it’s not like they’re that good at finding stuff that isn’t spoon fed to them by corporations or peers who had their tastes spoon fed to them by different corporations.

            Indeed, to their credit, the ability to put together a mix tape demonstrates a lot more initiative than the current modern version of saying which television shows you like best: “I like The Wire, Game of Thrones, and The Walking Dead. I tried to like John From Cincinnati but didn’t understand it!”

            “Oh, I’ve never seen The Wire.”

            “What? Oh, you have to! Here, borrow this. We *MUST* discuss it. You won’t believe how awesome Omar is! Pay attention to how he delivers his lines. And Daniels is a great character. The first season is just sooooo good!”

            (Next week)


            “You watched the whole season already? I *KNEW* you’d like it!”

            “I watched the first one and a half shows… I just couldn’t get into it.”


          • It’s more my way of saying that I’ve never seen it.

            But, for what it’s worth, I’ve heard enough about it to come to the conclusion that it probably would re-enforce my prejudices about government.

          • “But, for what it’s worth, I’ve heard enough about it to come to the conclusion that it probably would re-enforce my prejudices about government.”

            more or less the same reason i’ve never seen the wire either. i don’t have the patience or luxury to sit still that long, either. (i was a big fan of homicide back in the day, however)

            the thing that irks me about people who recommend tv shows persistently (as opposed to casually, i suppose) is that in comparison to anything but maybe audiobooks, you’re asking someone to take dozens of hours out of their lives so they can have something in common with you. in the case of the wire, that’s 40 something hours over the course of the series. it’s an undertaking!

            it’s a bit like walking up to someone and saying “hey, you know this thing i like? you don’t? you should go enroll in a community college summer course and find out about it!”

          • Wha? How is that different from recommending any number of things? Like… a book? Or a video game? Those also tend to require significant time commitments. Am I not allowed to recommend that you read a book I think you’d like?

            For what it’s worth, I haven’t seen The Wire either, and I think Mad Men is one of the stupidest shows on TV.

          • Say what you will about mix tapes, but you’re forced to limit yourself to, at an absolute maximum, 120 minutes. (And it’s likely that you’ll be limiting yourself to less.)

            So when you force this mix tape on someone else, they can get through it while doing homework.

          • “Wha? How is that different from recommending any number of things? Like… a book? Or a video game?”

            there is the multitasking aspect to some of it (more obviously with music, or with a game you can save and walk back to another day, etc), but i do think if someone’s recommending something – rather than just enthusing about something as part of a general “this is how my month is going” chat or whatever – you do kinda have to take into account the other person’s lifestyle. no single book should take 40 hours to read, but if someone’s going to recommend an entire series, there should be an allowance of “and i’ll talk to you about them near the end of the year when you’re done”.

            my wife is listening to the game of thrones series on audiobook for her aforementioned stupid long commute, and the last book is 63 hours. it makes sense for her in that situation, but unless someone is in a similar scenario, approaching people with this bucket of time is kinda nuts. it may simply be that a larger group of people are more enthusiastic and evangelical about tv than about any other medium these days, and that skews my perception as well.

          • One should also take into account the fact that there are people who, no matter what, are going to read 200, 250, 300 books a year. (I married one.)

            Telling Maribou that she should read *THIS* book would cause her to reshuffle her reading schedule by not a whole bunch. Some, but she was going to read 2-3 books this week anyway.

            I will be playing video games this weekend (well, next weekend… this weekend is special). Telling me that I should play King’s Sword Mega Attack will get me to look at the box the next time I walk through the mall. I mean, I have to do laundry anyway. Might as well spend some time manipulating pixels between loads, right?

            Asking me to play a video game is not particularly onerous… asking me to watch a show? That’s going to require a great deal of a time investment that I may not have available.

          • How does anyone read that many books in a year?!?!?!

          • I love getting recommendations for books and movies. And mix tapes! I do not love getting questioned repeatedly whether I’ve followed up on the recommendation, or when people get hurt if I don’t actually watch the show (hear the song, read the book, etc), or feeling as if my response to the show will be a major evaluative factor of my personality.

          • She always has a book in her hands and a backup book or two in her bag. When she walks to work, she has a book. When we are driving around running errands, she has a book. During meals, she has a book. Go to bed at night, she has a book. Wake up in the morning, she has a book.

            She doesn’t play many video games.

          • “When she walks to work, she has a book.”

            is she reading while walking?

            i watched a woman kindle-walk into a post down on houston st. last summer. seemed painful.

          • Yes, she is a read-walker. It’s a well-known route to her, however, so there are few lamppost collisions. (Sometimes I walk to pick her up and she points out that the bigger problems are loud dogs that are only *SOMETIMES* able to run up to the fence at full bark.)

        • That’s a shame. When I make a mix CD for a friend, it’s always of songs that I think (based on what I know of their tastes) that *they* are going to like. I felt really bad once when I found out after the fact that I’d included a version of a song that one friend really hated — but I didn’t know that when I was making the CD.

          And this is funny. I never really got into the whole mix-tape thing while it was being done with cassette tapes, but mix CDs that I can burn from an iTunes playlist are fun!

  17. My own personal insecurities about getting old resolve to the use of the world “album”. I guess people still use it. For a while there, it was just “[some band’s] latest CD”. Perhaps album is making a comeback in this delightful era where we can buy a tune or a whole release and have it on our devices almost instantly.

    My brother has his ass firmly ensconced in the patoot of the 1970s, along with most of my friends of my age. It’s very sad to watch them. They don’t actually play their old LP records any more but they still have pride of place. They play their old cassettes, which are also getting in bad shape, what with all those wonderful metal tapes flaking away.

    My business card has a small QR code on the back containing the url of my firm’s website. It’s just a convenience for anyone with a smartphone. My firm’s website is optimised for smart phones anyway. I’m amazed by how many people look at that QR code and have no idea what it is.

    Thirty years ago I said the computer would disappear into either the telephone or the television. As a disconnected appliance, it was always pretty much worthless.

    There never were any good old days, folks. Best to keep looking forward.

    • are there any smartphones for which using a qr code is actually more convenient than just entering a url in a browser?

    • “Thirty years ago I said the computer would disappear into either the telephone or the television. As a disconnected appliance, it was always pretty much worthless.”

      There’s always solitaire.

      I remember back in the ’90s there was lots of talk of “convergence”. It’s happened, but not quite the way I expected. For instance there were lots of people talking about, and even putting together, media pc’s. But it turned out to be the game console that completed that loop. And the phone/camera combination just came out of nowhere for some reason.

      Now I really want to use my smartphone as a universal remote but apparently my stereo and TV are too dumb yet. With everything that thing’s got on it why not an IR transmitter? (I think a couple do, actually.)

      • Bluetooth enabled smart phones should be able to handle that task.

  18. I was looking for a coat hanger earlier so I could straighten it out and run it through the hose of the vacuum cleaner to knock a clog out of it.
    Then I remembered that all of my clothes hangers are plastic these days.

Comments are closed.