Friday, October 23, 2009

Life In The Dark Ages...
...only, the 'Dark Ages' weren't all that long ago...(were they?)
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The thing that's triggered this blog entry is a realization that invaded my mind a couple of nights ago. I was waiting for my computer to complete its automatic updating that it does every now and then. Since I recently did a 'system recovery' on the computer, I found myself waiting, waiting, and then waiting some more for the updates to Hurry Up and Be Over; only, updates are updates, and as such, they sometimes end up taking a good while to load in. And after each Updating session, the computer has to shut down and come back on again before I can resume what I was doing before the updates occurred. Anyhow, While waiting for all of this to happen, I happened to spot one of my favorite paperbacks on a nearby shelf, so to make the Update Waiting zip by a little faster, I began reading it. I bought the book when it came out back in 1981; that's right, this little tome has been with me for 38 years. I've always been fascinated by good rock and roll stories, and this group's career has always intrigued me...
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The book in question is "Shout! The Beatles In Their Generation" by Philip Norman, and out of all the Beatles histories and analyses I've read over the years, "Shout" seems to be the most fairly balanced account of The Beatle Years. I'm already halfway through it for the billionth time; it's like the pages just fly by when my Nose is in that book. The thing that really struck me tho, is that the pages of this book are turning Yellow. This is a one-owner book. And now the pages are yellowing. And so I've lived long enough now to see the pages Change Color. At least the binding is holding together...if I can be In This Life for another few years, I imagine that'll fall apart on me too. And, seeing this book age virtually before my eyes has led me to think of many other things that have changed in the last 10, 20, 30 or more years...
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So, here we go on a tour of The Dark Ages...in high school, I took two years of Typing. I learned on a big clunky manual typewriter. We used typing paper, and it was labeled as such (now, it's called 'computer paper'). I remember having to use a slide rule in Math class. A slide rule! Then, calculators came out. A person could press a few buttons, and presto, resolve equations or compute square roots. How did they get all of that technology into that tiny thing? Later on, in the '70s, I had a Texas Instruments TI-30 calculator; truly I was on the Cutting Edge. Back in the '60s, Dad bought Mom a portable Cassette Recorder. "Cassette Recorder? How does this thing work? And how did all that sound get recorded onto that really tiny strip of tape inside that plastic casing?" It wasn't until I got to College that I got my first stereo Cassette Recorder, you know, the kind you could plug in and record directly from your Stereo Amp. Yep, you could shout all you wanted and still make a perfect recording, since the recorder Could Not Hear You thru a microphone.
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Last year, a friend of mine sent me a bunch of Beatles' Newsletters that were printed up back in the '80s; the 2nd or 3rd issue of it came out right around John Lennon's death. How primitive those newsletters look. No fancy type, stapled-together pages, and from today's perspective, they look so Ancient. Communication in the Dark Ages! Back then, if one wanted to keep information, all of that documentation required a lot of storage space, and you had to lug it all around every time you changed residences until you wanted to get rid of it. Speaking of information, is there any such thing as an Encyclopedia Salesman these days? You know, the guys that would sell the World Book or Funk And Wagnalls Encyclopedias door-to-door? Back in the '60's, our family had a huge set of "The National Encyclopedia"; there were a dozen volumes and each volume was huge and heavy. Not only that, they were 1940's vintage. All that information in big heavy encyclopedias that were outdated by 20 years in the 1960's, let alone now! With this crazy little cyber-beast that I'm posting with, I have all that information and more right here at mine fingertips. If I wanna know about it, I just Google It and there it is.
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Some people (mostly a generation or so younger than I) might wonder, "How did people ever get by without computers?" The answer to that is, "well, we just did". It was before there were 24-hour TV channels, before round-the-clock "in-depth analysis" of every happening that's ever happened, way back when there were only 3 main TV networks (CBS, NBC and ABC...if you were lucky, maybe you also had a PBS station within range of your TV set), and when Uncle Walter told us, "that's the way it is" at the end of a half-hour newscast, well, that's the way it was. It was a time when, in addition to record albums, you could also get your music on Cassettes or 8-track tapes. It was back in the days of Lawn Darts, Croquet Sets, Etch-A-Sketches, pocket transistor radios and skateboards made out of thick plywood with steel roller-skate wheels a-rollin' along. So what's the point of this particular posting? It's that I can't believe how much time has gone by. I can barely believe that I am now 55. And I'm finding it hard to keep up with everything. Whether it's because there's so much more of 'everything' out there these days, or whether I'm just getting old, who can say? It's probably a combination of both. And here I am, only adding to the vast realm of cyberspace junk that's out there for us all to digest, so in the interest of wanting not to appear extremely hypocritical, I'll stop here. For now, that is...
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Blogger's note: Philip Norman's "Shout" Beatles-book is available in Updated Form. The new edition contains information about the careers of John, Paul, George and Ringo after the group broke up. A good book to pick up and read if and when you can wrestle yourself away from the computer...

2 Comments:

Blogger Idaho Dad said...

I have that same book on the shelf next to my computer desk!

4:46 PM  
Blogger some guy who blogs said...

Hi, 'Dad'...do you have the original or updated edition? Some say "Shout" portrays Paul McCartney as a shallow taskmaster, and I tend to agree with that. I think Macca has always been the most 'showbizzy' Beatle. And I wonder what John Lennon would think about all of the Beatles albums that have been released since his death. That book, tho, is a Very good read.

8:48 PM  

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