Saturday, June 28, 2014

British Invasion (A David'Z RantZ Short Shorts Post from 5/21/08)


I love it when an article talks about "the surviving members of The Beatles," like there are three or four dozen of them floating around the planet. Folks, there are two surviving members. Half the group. Period. There were four in the real core group -- John, Paul, George, and Ringo -- and that's not trying to insult Pete Best, or Stu Sutcliffe, or any of the people who've variously been referred to as "the fifth Beatle" someplace because of their amazing contribution where blah-blah-freakin'-blah was concerned...

And no, no fair counting Yoko.

Let's face it, if you were one of The Beatles, you were one of the coolest people in the universe, ever. Or at least you were cool for a period long enough so that you'll be indelibly stamped in the minds of Earth's citizens as a "former Beatle," and nothing you can do -- not even a stint as Mr. Conductor -- can take that away from you.

I mean, if Paul McCartney -- I'm sorry, I meant Sir Paul McCartney -- were to be elected Prime Minister of Great Britain, you just know that even if he were assassinated in office we'd read this: "British Prime Minister and former Beatle Sir Paul McCartney was shot today outside of... " Hell, Ringo could become an astronaut and a serial killer, and the eventual news article would read, "Ringo Starr, former Beatle, astronaut, and accused mass murderer, was apprehended today... "

2. Hey, that bit about "Sir" Paul McCartney reminds me...

What in the world possessed Great Britain to start knighting pop stars? I mean, sure, I think The Beatles were incredibly cool, and even said so above, but... Sir Paul? And... Sir Mick Jagger? Sir Cliff Richard?

Can you see King Arthur trying to defend Merrie Olde England with a Round Table comprised of Sir Paul, Sir Mick, Sir Cliff, and... Sir Elton?

Thanks for your time..

Monday, June 23, 2014

Stupid Gmail Spell-Checker (A David'Z RantZ Grammar Nazi Post from 2/28/2009)

Although I am one of the world's champion spellers -- he said, modestly -- I always have my Gmail's spell-checker activated. This alerts me to typographical errors and... Okay, I admit it, even I have so-called trouble words, words I tend to screw up as a matter of course. (One example? "Embarrassed." Ever since I heard a character in the movie Echo Park -- he employed women who delivered Strip-o-Grams -- define it as "I'm bare-assed," I have this mental block which makes me want to spell it with a single "r.") Also, my computer keyboard doesn't always respond correctly to my striking of a double letter, so a word like "comment" might sneak by as "coment" if I don't correct it.

However, I may disable it just because it's becoming somewhat annoying lately.

Most of the time, of course, we're allowed to "train" it. If I'm told that "Jayne" or "Valleri" are incorrect spellings -- they're not, of course, I know women by both names, spelled exactly like that -- it's easy enough to "tell" the spell-checker to recognize the versions I want on a go-forward basis by clicking on "add to dictionary."

Sometimes it's totally useless. Let's say I actually couldn't spell a simple word, like... well... "word." Let's pretend I really think it ends with a "g," like so:

"Worg."

Gmail's spell-checker flags that one, of course, but these are the corrections it offers:

org
wog
w org (Whatever the hell that means!)
Borg (Yeah, no s**t, "Borg." Now why in the world... Oh, wait. Computer programmers. Star Trek. Silly of me.)

Just for giggles, I typed something else, went back to "worg," and tried it again, with slightly different results!

org
wog
Borg
wore
worn

You see my point, right? Neither time was I given the word I really needed.

(Ages ago, another annoying thing was that they hadn't programmed it to recognize contractions! Every time I typed in a word like "isn't" or "doesn't," the "isn" and the "doesn" are underlined in that palsied red eye-grabber that asks "Are you really sure about this one, dude?"

Yes, I was sure, thank you very much.)

Just for even more giggles -- yeah, I'm easily entertained today -- I typed in a few random letters: "rlrlt." (I actually get results like that when doing late-night typing in a room lit by only my computer monitor and an antique whale oil lamp. The other night, I typed what I thought was "Papillon," and got "{a[i;;on".)

In response to "rlrlt," I got "Charlton" and "Carlton," which I suppose was Gmail's way of saying, "Dude, we're as confused as you are on this one!"

But I digress.

If all that isn't enough, it picks stuff at random! Earlier today, I typed the word "something," and wouldn't you know it, there's that little red underscoring again. So I decided to check their suggestions of alternates, and it actually said, "no suggestions." Nice. They didn't have a specific objection to the word, but they just wanted to tick me off, apparently. Well, it worked.

At least it recognizes "Gmail" as a real word. If it didn't, that'd be more than a little embarrassing. But if you type "gmail" in error, it gives you the following choices:

mail
email
grail
g mail (Again, whatever the hell that means!)
gm ail (There's a weird one. "G.M. Ale" sounds like the auto company's branched out into the brewing of malt beverages.)

They okay another word that almost everyone on the planet screws up (in terms of upper and lower case), "eBay." But if you've mistakenly typed "Ebay," it won't include the correct replacement in its suggestions!

By the way, I love how we're supposed to pronounce "Gmail" as "gee-mail." Just to be a smartass -- yeah, me, who'da thunk it? -- I constantly pronounce "Kmart" as "k'mart" (like "come on" and "come here" are often abbreviated as "c'mon" and "c'mere."). And when those too dim to realize that I'm making a small joke correct me, I defensively reply, "Well, you pronounce S-M-A-R-T as 'smart,' don't you? You don't say, 'ess-mart!' "

[looking at notes] Okay, I'm done. Thanks f--

What.

Nope, nothing funny to wrap this one up with.*

Hey, look, the title said "David'Z RantZ." It did not say "David'Z RantZ, Always Guaranteed to Leave You Laughing."

So, what, you want your money back?

That's what I thought.

Thanks for your time.

*Hm. Maybe, in a post devoted to correct spelling, I shouldn't break the archaic grammatical rule about having a preposition at the end of the sentence.

could say something awkward like "nothing funny up with which to wrap this one," but that owes too much to Winston Churchill.

Wait! I have it! A perfect way to re-structure my sentence to avoid the offensive prepositional ending:

"Nope, nothing funny to wrap this one up with... dammit."

What do you think? More better?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Time Scurries On -- A David'Z RantZ Post from 4/28/08

"Gimme cookie, dammit!"

One of the online newspapers I subscribe to via email is the British Telegraph.co.uk. Reading a British newspaper gives me an idea of how another country -- a similar country, one which doesn't (yet) hate us, and one which more or less speaks the same language -- views the USA. Sometimes I even learn about things going on in the USA before I read about it in an American paper.

Plus, I'm entertained by their obituaries. They're generally dedicated to 1. World War II heroes, 2. lords or ladies with hyphenated names, or 3. American celebrities. But I digress.

Anyway, back in April of 2008, my eyes were immediately drawn to the headline of an article entitled, "Mutant threatening to wipe out grey squirrel." (And unfortunately, the article is no longer available online. I'll be using the briefest of quotes, to stay beneath the umbrella of "fair use." I actually contacted the Telegraph.com.uk way back when, to obtain permission to reprint extensive quotes, because I love you that much, dear readers! However, they would have charged me to do that. And frankly, I don't love you that much!)

My first thought was that they'd announced another sequel in the X-Men movie franchise, and that the plot was conceived by some moronic studio exec during the 2008 writers' strike. But no.

The article begins by telling us that the grey squirrel -- and I know that in the USA, "gray" is preferable to "grey," but I like using "grey," so freakin' deal with it -- is being supplanted in various areas of Britain by its "faster, fitter, and more aggressive black counterpart." The grey squirrels were themselves "introduced" to Britain more than 200 years back, and began "forcing out" the native red squirrels.

Well, I think some of us have already figured out what's really going on here, haven't we?

As always, we humans are projecting our prejudices onto these poor furry tree rats. Suddenly, a minority population is increasing, endangering the status quo. "They" are taking over. The humans are pissed, and as for the squirrels themselves?

They probably don't care too much.

But, you wanna know something? If I didn't know better, I'd say that this whole squirrel business was going on here, in the United States. I almost wondered if this was an actual news article, or an allegory dreamed up by a British novelist.

Look at what we have here. The minorities are beginning to outnumber the greys, or "grays." (And in this country, "gray" is right up there with "honky" and "cracker" as an ethnic slur against white people.) And these "greys" had originally taken the land from the "reds?" History does indeed repeat itself, dunnit?

(Okay, let me check again. Yup. This is going on in Great Britain, not North America.)

These uppity black squirrels first showed their dark & furry faces in Britain less than 100 years ago, but now comprise "half of all squirrels in some parts of the country" (emphasis mine), a confusing percentage, at best.

Yup, they're "taking over." Pretty soon all of our -- I mean, Britain's -- squirrel signage will have to be written in red, grey, and black squirrelspeak.

These black squirrels evidently have higher levels of testosterone, too, which makes them more aggressive and "territorial." Furthermore, the always fashion-conscious female grey squirrels are apparently lured toward the blacks' pigmentation. That makes me think of the looks I see on some people's faces as they pass interracial couples on the street. Some white-bread blonde babe -- and yeah, I prefer the word "blonde" with the final "e," too -- walks by on the arm of an African-American or a Latino, and there's usually some whitey nearby who is giving them a dirty look without even realizing that he or she is doing it.

Geneticists warn that the ever-expanding black squirrel population will probably "overrun most of the eastern counties" within ten or so years. And, horror of horrors, they're genetically able to interbreed with the greys, which would result in fuzzy little black or brown babies!

Blacks and browns? Oh, no! Miscegenation!

And not only that, but the blacks' impending takeover could further impact the dwindling population of red squirrels. One scientist was quoted as saying, "The small pockets of red squirrels that still exist already have to be protected because of the grey's dominance."

(Pockets? Or reservations? Hmm?)

Lindsey Maguire of the National Squirrel Rescue team -- and yes, Virginia, there apparently is a National Squirrel Rescue team -- says that the greys may eventually "get their 'just desserts' [sic]," no doubt meaning that it would serve us right after what we did to the Native Americans.

Wait, wait, wait! Scratch that last crack. I'm thinking of the United States again.

Ms. Maguire also wonders "how long it will be before we see a 'save the grey' campaign," as well she should.

I can see it now. Disgruntled groups of humans and grey squirrels, racists all, uniting to form a society of sorts. And they can come up with some sort of freakin' handbook simply by rewriting some White Supremacist literature.

Well, all I can say is... Nuts to you, you bigots!

Thanks for your time.

Monday, June 16, 2014

You Can't Have It Both Ways -- A David'Z RantZ Grammar Nazi Post from 5/23/08


BREAKING NEWS: Janie Junebug of WOMEN: WE SHALL OVERCOME has invited me to do a guest post on her blog. Right now she's showcasing a series of guest writers blogging on the subject of bullying, and this was a serious subject for me to tackle. Check it out at this link, and feel free to comment!

*  *  *  *  *

Now here's yet another over-the-top diatribe from years gone by...

I understand and accept that the English language is a "living" language and, as such, is constantly being reinvented by those who use (or misuse) it on a day-to-day basis. So someday in the very near future, I expect grammarians to throw up their hands in collective surrender and say, "Fine! You want to make a word plural by adding an apostrophe 'S' instead of just an 'S?' Go ahead! That's the way you freakin' idiots have been doing it for the past few years anyway!"

But if you're going to change things, at least try to be consistent, willya?

Throughout most of my life, I've seen people write "mike" when they want to abbreviate "microphone." And in terms of what we laughingly call the "rules" by which the English language is governed, that spelling makes perfect sense. It rhymes with "like," "hike," "bike," etc. However, more and more, people are abbreviating "microphone" as "mic." That's wrong. Sorry, but I don't care if you're one of the increasing zillions who write it that way, but you're wrong. "Mic" should be pronounced "mick," as in "Mick Jagger." It should not rhyme with "mike."

Stop arguing with me! You're wrong! Shut upShut up! (Will somebody shut off his mic? I mean, his mike?)

I've mentioned this annoying trend to at least one person who seemed to think it was merely the new way of doing things, and that it would soon be a universal practice, and that I should just get over it.

Okay, then riddle me this, Batman:

Another trend I've seen developing over the last few years, especially where internet usage is concerned, is the tendency for people to use the term "pic" (short for "picture") in lieu of "photo" or "photograph." I'm not sure why "photo" is suddenly finding such disfavor. Maybe with the advent of digital cameras, people don't think the term "photo" should be used unless film is specifically involved, kinda like the "CD" versus "album" argument I discussed recently?

But I guess it doesn't matter, since "pic," of course, is pronounced "pike," so it rhymes with "like," "hike," "bike," and...

Oh, it isn'tReally? It rhymes with... well, like "mic" ought to be pronounced?

Well, whattya know about that!

Like I said, folks. All I ask for is a little consistency. But I'm not holding my breath.

Thanks for your time.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Write On, Brother! -- A David'Z RantZ Post from 4/19/08



Wanna confuse the hell out of someone? I mean, personally, unless I've totally f**ked up someone's mind during the course of a day, I feel that I've wasted that day. Anyway, assuming that your answer is "yes" (or why would you be reading something called "David'Z RantZ?"), here's how I do it:

I tell anyone who asks what I do for a living that I'm a writer. (And I've been saying that ever since I finally got the nerve to kiss my crappy day job good-bye for good.)

No, really. It's that simple. Tell them that you're a writer -- well, if you are one -- and it'll mess 'em up for sure.

Of course, I don't know why this confusion exists, but it does. And I started noticing it with my very first paid writing gig, which was editing a restaurant menu to include cute little jokes among the descriptions of the food that they offered. (This was a Victorian-themed restaurant which wanted to appear fun rather than austere, hence their name, "Tom Foolery's.") Maybe not the kind of thing that would have Spielberg banging down my door, but somebody was giving me money to write!

During that early period in my on-again/off-again writing career, I did a lot of freelance work, mostly for print shops, doing everything from proofreading to what I call "low-grade advertising." (To my date, as we dined out: "See this card on the table, inviting you to 'join us for happy hour?' I wrote that!" And boy, was she impressed. Or not.) And initially, I described myself as a "freelance copywriter," which was evidently far too many syllables for the average person to comprehend. Hence the following exchange, which I endured a handful of times:

Him (or Her): "Oh, you're a copyrighter [sic]? Good, I can use you! I have some really good ideas I need to have copyrighted."

Me: "I think you mean patented, not copyrighted... But anyway, that's not what I do. I don't copyright; they have a whole office in Washington for that kind of thing if you want to go through channels. I write copy."

"Huh?" or "Huh? Copies of what?"

Yeah, I got the "Huh?" accompanied by a blank stare. So I figured it would be a lot easier for everyone concerned if I simply said "writer."

Wrong.

Early in my freelance career, my writing partner introduced me to a young lady who ran a printshop in her basement. (This was shortly before the computer era had really gotten going, so anyone running a business like that was automatically deemed quite industrious.) When she'd discovered he had a friend who was a writer, she enthusiastically decided she had to meet me. I assumed she had plans to put me to work doing the so-called low-grade advertising jobs I was used to, but no. She thought "writer" meant that I could do things like calligraphy. Taking the word "writing" a bit too literally, I thought...

Okay. In typical "David'Z RantZ" fashion, all of the above was just an introduction. Here's the real story I want to tell:

A few years later -- well after I'd had a few articles and what I call "half a handful" of comic book scripts published -- I received a call from the very same print shop that had given me my first writing assignment. According to the owner of the shop, the former manager of Tom Foolery's was now embarking upon a new venture, a franchise called Croissant du Jour*, and was looking for a writer. (A while back I'd polished up the business plan that Tom Foolery's manager, Michael K___, sent to the bank which he hoped would finance this chain. Apparently, his figures and my written organization of same had worked.)

(*By the way, there seem to be at least two different businesses currently operating under the Croissant du Jour name.)

I called Mr. K___, and was a bit disoriented by what he said he wanted. He wanted graffiti painted on the walls of Croissant du Jour's restrooms. Nothing obscene or even suggestive, but rather, little expressions that somehow reflected the overall dining experience.

In the restrooms.

Anyway, he further unnerved me by mentioning twice during the phone call that he also wanted Croissant du Jour's logo painted on an awning in front of the building. I told him both times that I wasn't a painter, or an artist, so logos were not something I did, but it was almost as if he wasn't hearing anything he didn't want to hear.

The site of the new restaurant was about an hour away from my home, which meant I had to deduct a small chunk out of my anticipated profits for gas money. I drove out there with a long list of suggestions for this "tasteful graffiti." He glanced at the list, and then looked at me as if something was missing. Not "Missing" on the list. "Missing" on me.

"Where are your paints?" he asked, all too matter-of-factly.

"My what?"

"Your paints," he repeated, with a tone of voice that implied that he'd actually wanted to say, "Your paints, stupid." He continued. "Your supplies. How are you going to paint these walls without them?"

I couldn't believe I'd driven an hour for this conversation. "I'm not a painter. I'm not an artist. I'm a writer."

He looked at me as if I'd just told him I was a photographer who didn't own or use any kind of camera.

I got a sinking feeling when I realized that here was another person who was taking the word "writing" too literally. I thought he'd hired me on the strength of my work on his original bank proposal. Obviously not.

He wasn't very interested in my written list of suggestions (and I knew he wouldn't like the new suggestion which I was aching to tell him!), so I realized that the only way I was going to get paid for this gig at all was if I myself painted my cute little sayings on Mr. K___'s bathroom walls.

One of his employees gave me directions to a local art supply store so I could buy paints, brushes, etc. Yeah, that's right, more money out of my pocket, and thus, my profits.

It was a long walk. I went there, wondering if I could charge him my hourly rate from the very instant I arrived at his restaurant (which would naturally include this walk). I had several other thoughts on my way to and from the art supply store, but... nothing printable.

Using a combination of brushed-on sayings and a couple of witticisms which were sprayed on with a can of spray-paint, I dutifully defaced his walls.

When I was done, he invited his employees to view my work. "What do you think?" he asked them.

"It looks like the bathroom's been vandalized," said the one person who wasn't afraid to admit that he agreed with what I myself was thinking.

Mr. K___ gave the boy a look that implied "I meant to do that!" or, in his case, "I meant to have that done!" I couldn't believe he really liked my handiwork. I don't think he did; I think he just wanted to save face.

I decided to charge him for every minute I'd spent there since my arrival, including my walk to and from the store. What I should have done was charge him for my travel time to and from home as well, plus the cost of my gasoline and the cost of the freakin' paints and brushes. But I was younger then, and certainly not as arrogant as... well not as arrogant as he struck me as being.

As he wrote my check, I asked him to make sure he included my middle initial, and I then began to spell my last name for him. (My last name is almost never misspelled, but I always tell people how to spell it anyway. Just to be safe.) As I was spelling it aloud, he waved his hand dismissively as if to say "I know how to spell it!"

As I walked to my car, carrying the paints and brushes which, obviously, I would never use again, I looked at the check he'd written.

My middle initial was missing, and my last name was misspelled. But at least he wrote the amount correctly, which, I suppose, is what really matters.

Thanks for your time.

P.S. -- I wrote a post on April 3 2008, entitled "Just In Case," stating that I often think of people for no apparent reason, after not having thought of them for ages... And suddenly, I run into them somewhere, or learn that they've recently died, etc.

Just for the hell of it, I decided to do a Google search for "Michael K___."

Mr. K___, whom I'd met only once, back in the late 1980s, and rarely thought of until I began mentally drafting this David'Z RantZ post, passed away on December 21st of 2007. Kinda close to when I originally wrote this post, I think.

Maybe I do have The Power.

Thanks for your time.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Musical Notes (A David'Z RantZ "Short Shorts" Post from 5/6/08)


A few days ago, I presented a snippet from the following David'Z RantZ post. Here's the whole thing!

1) About fifteen years ago, when I was in my early forties, I met an adorable young lady of around 20 who gave her name as Layla. My response to "My name's Layla" was "I'm David, nice to meet you." She paused for about three seconds (waiting for the "other shoe to drop," I assume) before saying an enthusiastic "Thank you!" "For what?" I replied innocently, and she answered "For not singing that f**king song to me!" We hit it off immediately, and dated off and on for about a year.

*sigh*

It's always best to ignore the obvious remarks. Too many people think that they're the first ones to think of something that virtually everyone thinks of!

2) I love arguing with people who say "it's not an album, it's a CD," when I talk about some artist's latest release which is (usually) only available on CD, and I refer to it as an "album." I explain the origin of the term "album," and how it is a "time-honored misnomer" (That phrase always disorients them!) going back to the days when albums weren't 12" vinyl LPs (which didn't even exist yet), but rather, collections of brittle 78 rpm discs in a binder similar to a photo album. (That's even before my time, 'though!) Really messes their heads up when I point out that technically, by that logic, either everything is an "album," or nothing is, including your favorite artist's latest release, even if it's only on CD!

3) Speaking of albums (the 12" vinyl kind), I'm reminded of when I worked at a comic book/record/misc. collectibles store. A customer spent several minutes looking through the LPs in our extensive "M" section, and finally asked where we kept "the Morrison albums." "Jim Morrison, or Van Morrison?" I asked, and his blank stare when I said "Van Morrison" answered me better than any verbal reply could have. "Umm... look under 'D,' for 'Doors?'" He gave me a "Wow, never would have thought of that!" look, and off he went.

4) Don't you hate it when musicians' names (or anybody else's, too, as it's a trend I've seen with increasing frequency) are alphabetized by their first name? I mean, in that case, couldn't "Bob Seger" (for instance) be under "R" for "Robert," his proper given name? But then again, if one argues that "B" is correct because "everybody" calls him "Bob," how about Michael Jackson? Should he be under "M" for "Michael Jackson," or "J," since almost everybody (at least, in the tabloids) was calling him "Jacko" for the last few years of his life? However, if you do file him under "J," people may think that he's really there because his name was actually Michael Jackson, which means that he alone is being alphabetized by his surname, and...

I am so confused! Maybe Liberace, Cher, Madonna, and Beyoncé had/have the right idea, after all.

5) I had a friendly argument approximately 35 years ago with my friend & (then) bass player (I was lead singer in a few bands in those days) named Brian. He and I both organized our LPs alphabetically, but he filed Led Zeppelin under "Z," the Rolling Stones under "S," etc. I pointed out that those weren't the names of people, they were the names of bands. I said you should file David Bowie under "B," but Led Zeppelin should be "L," and so forth. Brian replied, "Well, people always say 'I just got back from the Stones' concert,' or 'Did you hear the new Sabbath album?' No one ever says, 'The latest Rolling Stone Magazine has an interview with Led...'" Good point, I suppose, but I wasn't convinced.

It gets worse.

"The Beatles?" Easy. File under "B." (Anyone who files groups like that -- or book titles, or song titles, whatever! -- under "T" for "The" should be shot and hung on a meat hook for public display like they did to Mussolini.) And Buddy Holly and the Crickets? Well, he was kinda/sorta the headliner, even before he went solo, so I'd file all his recordings under "H." But there are gray areas. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers. Jay and the Americans. J. Frank Wilson and the Cavaliers. Without Frankie, Jay, or J. Frank, the nominal back-up groups almost didn't matter, unlike the Crickets, who continued on to their own career, as the Belmonts did when Dion left them.

And what about... The Dave Clark Five? Tough call! Under "C?" Well, if Buddy Holly and the Crickets got "H..." But wait. It's not "Dave Clark and the Five," it's "The Dave Clark Five." So, "D," then? (That's how I do it... )

Then there was that irritating tendency in the late '60s to take perfectly innocent group names like "The Supremes" and "The Four Seasons" and turn them into "Diana Ross and the Supremes" and "Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons." Thanks a bunch, guys.

I guess the easiest group to file (of those whose name mentions their lead singer) would be Herman's Hermits. (And of course I know that "Herman" was actually Peter Noone, but they really did call him "Herman!") Again, like the Dave Clark Five, it's not "Herman and the Hermits," it's "Herman's Hermits." But whether you file it under "Herman's" or "Hermits," you're still pretty safe. (I remember a band called "Mac's Mob." Would that be an "M - A" or an "M - O?")

Then again, if you have so many LPs that you get all the way past "H - E - R - M" and it still matters whether you file according to the "A" in "Herman" or the "I" in "Hermits," you have so many damned albums that you're never going to get your whole collection organized anyway.

Thanks for your time.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Speed Freaks? (A David'Z Rantz Post from 4/15/08)

 
Somewhere between those geological eras known as the Mesozoic and the Cenozoic -- or, more specifically, before the widespread use of the "call waiting" function -- one of the most irritating things we humans had to deal with was the following scenario: 

You want or -- even worse -- need to contact a friend, relative, business associate... whatever. So you walk to the nearest phone, and...

(Excuse me? No, no, I said "you walk," not "you reach into your pocket!" Cell phones as we know them hadn't been invented yet! The only "mobile phones" to speak of were a special kind of electronic appliance that was installed in your car, and was large enough to comfortably seat your three smallest children. The kind of telephone I'm talking about using here was on a cord that was actually attached to a wall, like a cable TV line. And although so-called "telephone jacks" did exist, most telephones stayed in whatever room they had originally been installed in, and...

May I please get back to my story?)

So, anyway... You call your friend, and get a busy signal. Remember, this example pre-dates "call waiting," so you get an annoying buzzing sound in your ear that tells you that the person you're attempting to call is already talking to someone who can't possibly be as important as you are. So you hang up.

Ten minutes later, you call back. Still busy. ("Geez, how long does this guy talk, anyway?") 

You wait another ten minutes, and call again. Still busy! ("Okay, he has to be off soon!") 

So you call again, five minutes later. Still busy?!? ("Oh, for... !")

This goes on for another fifteen or twenty minutes. Your calls are now spaced about one minute apart. Plus, to add to the aggravation, at this time in mankind's history there is no such handy feature as an automatic "re-dial" button on your phone, either.

On your penultimate try, you dial, hear the grating busy signal once again, slam the phone down, lift it up again and immediately dial your insensitive friend's number once more, even 'though you know in your heart of hearts that if he was on the phone four seconds earlier, he'll still be on it now.

However...

The phone rings. It rings! He's finally off the phone, and can receive your all-important call!
 
Except...

There's no answer. There's no answer!

Why? Well, because your friend isn't home, of course.

So, you ask yourself, "How the hell could he hang up the telephone, and then vanish immediately?"

You're understandably furious. You promise yourself that the next time you see him, you're going to grab him by the front of his shirt (let's hope your friend is a "him" if you plan that approach, by the way), lift him a foot or two off the ground, and scream, "What the f**k do you do after an hour-long phone call?!? Hang up and immediately jump out the nearest window?!?"

But you don't... You do what we all do, or did. (I'll now drop my pretentious use of the present tense, describing a scene ostensibly taking place in the past!) You calmed down, and forgot.

So we never learned just how these people "did it."

You know, until now, I never appreciated "call waiting" very much. (Probably because I'm usually the one who's put "on hold" while the person I'm speaking with takes a call from someone else who, as in my example above, can't possibly be as important as I like to believe that I am. I resent it enough when a corporation puts me on hold, but I really hate it when a friend does it!) But after reading what I just wrote, I suppose I should admit that "call waiting" really does have some advantages.

But I digress.

The passage of time, coupled with minor technological innovations like "call waiting" and the "re-dial" button, have all but done away with instances like the above. Ah, but technology can be a double-edged sword! The oh-so-wonderful internet has given us something equally annoying in the place of my telephone horror story!

Here's the new variation: While you are working at your computer -- specifically, checking your e-mail -- an e-mail arrives from a friend (or relative, or... hell, you know the drill). You don't even take the time to sign on to whatever IM you use. Nope! You just dash off a quick e-mail in response, and wait.

And wait.

And wait.

So, you ask yourself, "How the hell could he send an e-mail, and then vanish immediately?"

And you're frustrated (but at least you're not furious!), frustrated to the point that you promise yourself that the next time you see him, you're going to grab him by the front of his shirt (and let's still hope your friend is a "him" if you plan that approach), lift him a foot or two off the ground, and scream, "What the f**k do you do after you send an e-mail?!? Unplug your computer and immediately jump out the nearest window?!?"

But you don't... You do what we all do. You calm down, and forget.

So we'll never learn just how these people "do it."

I'm pretty sure this is what they were referring to in "The Lion King" when they sang "Circle of Life."

But... hey! Y'know somethin'? As John Astin (as "Buddy" on "Night Court") used to say... "I'm feeling much better now." This "RantZ" page beats the hell out of tranquilizers, any day!

Thanks for your time.

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