Sooooo…The Phone Can Tell Me If It’s Raining?

May 12, 2012

I have never negotiated a hostage release.

I am not a surgeon awaiting word that an organ needed for me to perform a transplant is on ice.

Those are two of a cornucopia of reasons that I didn’t bother getting a cellphone until two years ago.

The phone I have is basic, a mere conveyance for telecommunication that would have been an impressive device in a ’70s sci-fi flick from my childhood.

It would have still wowed us when I was in college and Gordon Gekko had a mobile phone the size of a brick pressed to his head.

My phone doesn’t talk to me or advise me.

I keep seeing a commercial for the iPhone in which Zooey Deschanel asks her phone if it’s raining.

Her home doesn’t appear to be very large. In fact, it has a cozy bungalow feel. So, unless the place isn’t hers and she secretely lives in the attic, there has to be a window within a few steps.

In fact, as the voice in the phone gives an affirmative on the precipitation, Zooey is shown peering out the window.

Thus, you might not need a weatherman, to know which way the wind blows, but apparently a talking phone is needed to know if it is raining.

I’ve read that mountain gorillas in the wild have been observed to remain in their nests, delaying the start of their day, if they wake and it is raining.

Without a phone to tell them, the gorillas are able to figure out that it is indeed raining and have the good sense to stay in bed.

Undoubtedly, they will be ruling the planet in the future.

A search for songs about “talk” yielded a few dozen. Here are four of them that seemed good for today…

The Tubes – Talk To Ya Later
from The Completion Backward Principle (1981)

I was well acquainted with The Tubes via a high school buddy who worshipped the band. Though The Completion Backward Principle probably mortified long-time fans of the band’s more outrageous stuff, my friends and I loved it.

The slick, new-wave tinged Talk To Ya Later featured Toto’s Steve Lukather on guitar was infectious beyond belief and its title became our salutation for years to come.

A Flock Of Seagulls – (It’s Not Me) Talking
from Listen (1983)

When A Flock Of Seagulls arrived with I Ran (So Far Away) and their self-titled debut, I quickly adopted the Liverpool quartet as my own. I was hearing the music of the future and I wasn’t about to be left behind.

The future was short-lived, but it was fun while it lasted and the band left behind more than just their lone hit in an underrated catalog that produced two wildly entertaining albums.

The hyperkinteic (It’s Not Me) Talking is about a man who believes that he is receiving messages from aliens in his head.

The Alan Parsons Project – Let’s Talk About Me
from Vulture Culture (1985)

The progressive-pop/rock consortium The Alan Parsons produced a string of successful albums during the latter half of the ’70s and early ’80s. Songs like I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You, Games People Play, Eye In The Sky, and Don’t Answer Me were radio staples during those years.

Vulture Culture marked the beginning of the decline in The Alan Parsons Project’s commercial fortunes. However, I did hear the catchy Let’s Talk About Me fairly often on rock radio during the spring of ’85.

Bongwater – Everybody’s Talkin’
from The Big Sell-Out (1992)

I discovered the avant-garde, art-rock duo Bongwater through Paloma with their gorgeous cover of Roky Erickson’s You Don’t Love Me, Yet on a various artist tribute to the Austin cult musician.

On The Big Sell-Out, Bongwater’s final release, the pair offered up a strange, surreal take on the Fred Neil/Harry Neilsen classic Everybody’s Talkin’ that reimagines it as a spoken word tale delivered by a failed actress who has had a nervous breakdown and believes she is actually working with suicidal people.

Caller Identity Crisis

January 13, 2011

I had vowed to myself that I would hold out, but a bout of car sickness on the commute one evening swayed me and, several months ago, I surrendered and got a cell phone.

I use it hesitantly.

Paloma is about the only person who I call using the cell. I haven’t even bothered to set up voice mail and, in fact, don’t even know the number as I have not given it to anyone.

(there’s at least a couple of 8s and, maybe a 9 – I think)

Paloma has suggested the fiscally prudent idea of jettisoning the landline.

But I know the landline’s number.

I’ve had it for longer than I have ever had a phone number.

It is the number that friends who I haven’t spoken to in years have for me.

In fact, it is the efforts to be more diligent in reconnecting with some long-time friends that has brought this existential angst over what is my phone number to the surface.

Since the holidays, I have made calls to a number of friends with whom I have not spoken to in far too long. As the cell phone has – as Paloma explained to me – free long-distance and several of these friends are long-distance, I have used the cell.

And I have not known what to say when I’m asked if the cell phone number is my number.

(as opposed to the number I have been known as for as long as I’ve known them)

This has resulted in a far-too lengthy explaination from me that I pay little attention to the cell phone and that the landline is still the line of choice, but, as Paloma crashes early and the phone is in the bedroom, don’t call too late, however…

I cannot bring myself to embrace the cell phone or its unfamiliar number.

In college, my buddy Streuss had a phone number that spelled out “cowslaw,” a fact that he understandably boasted of on his outgoing message, reminding callers that they had reached the “cowslaw headquarters and hotline.”

(I sometimes wonder what his outgoing message might have been had his time with the “cowslaw” number coincided with the celebrated period during which he was the self-declared “Man Who Loves All Women”)

Perhaps it might work if this cell number spells something groovy like cowslaw.

Maybe I’d feel better about the cell phone if I referred to it as my mobile, pronouncing mobile as though I was British…like James Bond.

I haven’t been this confused about my phone number since I was four.

As far as I know, I only have three songs whose titles are phone numbers…

Squeeze – 853-5937
from Babylon And On

My buddy Streuss made me aware of Squeeze in high school with their compilation Singles – 45’s And Under. I think he had discovered it through a favorable review in Rolling Stone.

(it was ’82, we had no MTV or modern rock stations, and Rolling Stone was still worth reading)

Then, five years later, the band finally had a couple of radio hits in the US with the manic Hourglass and 853-5937. I couldn’t really remember the latter until I listened to it again.

It’s not bad, but it’s no Pulling Mussels (From The Shell) or Cool For Cats.

The Time – 777-9311
from What Time Is It?

The Prince-guided funk band The Time makes me think of a good friend from college who loved the band. He was a talented bass player who bounced around to different bands, one which even put out a couple albums on a small label in the ’80s.

I’ve never delved into The Time’s catalog, but I’ve always dug the handful of tracks I do know, including the opportunistic 777-9311.

Sometimes when I see someone being rude or obnoxious in public, I can’t help but hear frontman Morris Day in Purple Rain say, “Such nastiness” as he shakes his head.

Tommy Tutone – 867-5309/Jenny
from Tutone 2

Of course.

If You Eat At Pappy’s Shack, You Have To Get The Onion Ring Fried Chicken

May 28, 2008

In the days prior to the Memorial Day three-day weekend, I repeatedly answered queries regarding my plans simply – “couch,” “eat something,” “sleep,” “scratch an itch”. I desired little more.

Whether it was my recent post mentioning chicken or the fact that I’d freebase fried chicken if I could, I decided to treat Paloma to one of my patented food-related road trips – a journey that would take us forty-five miles into the hinterlands, through Pasquo, Tidwell, and Brushy Creek to the Beacon Light and their much-celebrated fried chicken (at least according to blurbs found on the internet).

Of course, the price for Paloma’s participation was a quick shopping side-trip to a mall on the way. Now, I haven’t frequented malls since I was skipping school in tenth grade, but I harbor no conceit against them. They are, quite simply, the American version of street markets in other parts of the world (albeit more superficial).

While waiting, I noticed numerous pairs of people, clearly there together, and both of them speaking on cell phones.

Why? If the people on the other end of the call were so important, why weren’t these people there with them rather than each other? Two men stood there, chattering into their phones outside of Pottery Barn Kids. Maybe they were calling their wives.

“Yeah, honey, it’s me. I’m at the mall. Yeah, with Bob. Anyhow, we’re headed to get a big pretzel and we’re outside Pottery Barn Kids and I thought I’d call and see if you wanted me to pick up any pottery for the kids.”

I digress. We eventually arrived at The Beacon Light, a small roadside establishment crowded with numerous folksy items for sale – small, stone bird baths, wood carvings, and homemade fudge. The fried chicken was divine.

The following morning, while at the grocery store, I noticed onion ring batter and thought to myself that fried chicken coated in onion ring might be a feast indeed. I’m not sure if such a thing exists or the responsibility for bringing this culinary delight to life rests with me.

Deep down, I suspect that I long to be a fried chicken mogul like Col. Sanders, Mrs. Winner, or Popeye. Perhaps the hungry masses will know me as Pappy and come far and wide on the simple recommendation of a stranger on the internet.

I, obviously, would.

Fetchin’ Bones – Chicken Truck

Stereo MC’s – Chicken Shake

Beastie Boys – Finger Lickin’ Good