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Friday, 27 July 2012

Growing up, we had two telephones: one Harvest Yellow, the other Olive Green. They were rotary and you were tied to a short cord. No call waiting, no caller ID, no cordless, no free long distance,… nada.

I say all this not to inspire pity, but to put things in perspective compared to today. Now we are intimately linked to our phones…. er, excuse me – mobile devices. These things have become a necessity for most jobs, and most people wouldn’t dream of even a trip to the grocery store without one. Whether we have become shackled to them or that our lives are enhanced by them is up for debate. I would wager that most adults would say we are shackled.

Anyway, no matter how jaded you are towards “smart phones” (hate that term for some reason), you have to admit the cell phone has brought a lot of positive changes…

No more pay phones

Not only were things never around when you needed one, but you also had to have change in your pockets. Remember having to make collect calls? I haven’t made or received a collect call in over ten years. Add to that frustration, the annoyance of having to wait in line.

And all pay phone calls were hurried and rushed. When your quarter ran out, you were done mid-syllable.


Most of you probably cannot remember what it’s like to be tethered to a small cord on a very private conversation. I understand a lot of office phones are still not cordless, but try talking to your boyfriend or girlfriend standing in the kitchen surrounded by your parents and siblings. It can get ugly.

But freedom of movement (mobility) may be a high price to pay for being at the beck and call of others day and night.

Another downside is the expense. It’s amazing how much Americans are nickel and dimed to death – not just in cell phones, but a whole world of expenses your parents and grandparents never had to deal with. Cable bills, internet bills, cell phone bills, and often credit card bills… not to mention higher medical costs, higher insurance costs, higher grocery prices, etc. The list goes on. The cell phone bill gets lost amid the cacophony of charges – sandwiched between your Netflix bill and gym membership fees.

Some would argue that the reverse is true – it actually can save you money. Perhaps you can now disconnect your land line forever. Ever tried to carry on a lengthy conversation using a hotel phone? You have to take out a second mortgage to pay the bill!

My own opinion? I look on cell phones as the ring in The Lord of the Rings. Just like the ring which could turn the wearer invisible, the cell phone can do amazing things. However, it doesn't take long before you are beholden to it. The phone is the master and you are the servant. Smeagol loves his new iPhone. It’s his precious.

I know I sound like a Luddite. Sadly, I have to admit that I have two cell phones – one for work and one for personal use. I love being able to check in on this blog's comments while twiddling my fingers at the airport. I love listening to podcasts and lurking around reddit. But I also recognize that it can turn me into Gollum if I don’t remember that it has an off switch.

Note: Text at bottom left is original.  What song are they referring to specifically? Perhaps the Stones song?

The telephone (not cell phone) has been a part of some great pop culture moments. In terms of songs, I consider “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” by England Dan and John Ford Coley the pinnacle:
The song is in the cadence of someone talking on the telephone; the listener only hearing one side of the conversation. It’s just done beautifully…. “Hello…. it’s been a while... not much, how’ bout you?...”

I’m not sure what “Red Telephone” by Love is about; however, I’m pretty confident it’s the best song with “telephone” specifically in the title.

Lest you forgot, I've got a whole mix tape of telephone songs all wrapped up and ready for you to download.

Most critics would point to Pillow Talk or Dial M for Murder as the ultimate teIephone scenes in movies. But I can’t help it - my favorite telephone scene is when Freddy Kruger’s tongue extends out of the receiver in Nightmare on Elm Street Part II. Although, the iconic scene in When a Stranger Calls is pretty damn impressive – as are the sinister rings in The Ring.

Inarguably, its greatest use in comedy was by Bob Newhart. His phone shtick is so iconic and well loved, it is easily up there with “Who’s on First”. The phone intro to The Bob Newhart Show was a nice touch.

I suppose I could ramble on forever.  So, I'll end it here.  Put your favorite phone song or movie scene in a comment.  And, as always, feel free to wax nostalgic and spread the retro love. 

By the way, I thought I'd include a heapin’ helpin’ of foxy ladies and their telephones . Any discussion is improved by images of vintage babes and, to be perfectly honest, I know that many of you are here only for the pictures. You couldn’t give a flying fart about a single word I’m saying, and that’s okay. Just as long as you’re here, I’m happy.

Image #11-12 (click all images to enlarge)




















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