Friday, January 20, 2012

At Last...Or... We've Lost a Great One

In a blog I wrote almost exactly one year ago, Name That Tune,  I quoted one of my all-time favorite songs, by the legendary Etta James.  I read on Yahoo news this morning, that James died this morning.  You can read the news piece here.

I love music.  It can set or transform a mood.  Music cuts across all barriers; class, race, sex, age, education.  It's boundless and eternal.  While I can certainly appreciate the sound, the beat, the tone of a song, as a writer, I am much more drawn in by the lyrics.  And Etta's were perfect in their simplicity.  There are others that come to mind, which I've also mentioned before, but I think the occasion warrants a reminder.  Supertramp, Maroon 5, RUSH, the Beatles.  And also a dear friend, whose lyrics remind me of that thinking man's band, because there is so much meaning behind simple words, melodic phrases.  He is truly talented.

But I digress, Etta James may be lost to this world, but her music will certainly live on forever.  And that song...At Last...which has so much meaning and memory for many of us, I'm sure, including me, will always be as timeless as it was back in the 50s, as relevant as it is still, today.

Rest in peace, Etta.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Nice and Easy Now...Step Away From the Phone.

We've all done it.  Or at the very least, we've seen it being done.

You're sitting at dinner with your family, friends, significant other (bad dates do not count here), when you get a text, a phone call, an email.  You immediately reach for your phone, which is sitting just to the right of your water glass.  Whether it's on silent or vibrate does not stop us from checking and rechecking our phone.  Is there always something better going on?

Or how about this one: over the holidays you're enjoying time with family and friends.  You're sitting in the living room with your brother-in-law, your sister from out-of-town, maybe a few cousins you see just once a year.  All of you sitting with your phone in your hands, heads down, fingers tapping away at a tiny keyboard.  "Enjoying time with out of town family and friends" you post.  Really?  Enjoying time?

Why is it that we feel we have to post constant updates about our lives, to the detriment of... our lives?  Maybe you've read recently about the young blogger's idea for the restaurant phone game.  A quick run-down in case you've been out of touch:
When you sit down at a restaurant, everyone at the table sets their phone face-down in a stack.  Regardless of whether the phone rings or vibrates, beeps or dings, no on is allowed to so much as look at their phone.
If at any point during dinner you do look at your phone?  Dinner's on you.

I like it, but, I can hear the arguments already. "My kids might call,"  "It could be work," or "I'm waiting for an important (whatever)."

What in the world did we do before cell phones?  How did we survive before smart phones let us check our email, facebook status and twitter feeds every 14 seconds around the clock?

But the truth is, I'm a bit addicted, too.  It's the nature of our society in 2012 to want - require - 24/7 access.   It's what we've become accustomed to - the norm.

And really, if we go back to the 70s (my childhood, the bee gees, bell bottoms, the good 'ol days), didn't we, in essence, do the same things, just with different distractions?  It's not like we all used to be the Cleavers and suddenly the iPhone has turned us all into cold, heartless, family-haters.  It used to be that we gathered with our friends and relatives over the holidays, sat together in a cozy family room, with a blazing fire in the fireplace and... watched TV.  So really, let's keep it in perspective folks.  Think of all the good the smart phone has done.  Toppled governments, for God's sake!  Saved Lives!  Started conversations, raised money, connected lost relatives, high school friends...

But I digress.  Back to that mobile phone restaurant game.  Is it so hard to unplug for an hour?  90 minutes tops?  Maybe.  But I am going to give it a shot next time I'm out to dinner and let you know how I do.  Give it a try, and let me know if you were successful...