Sunday, August 29, 2010
Woulda never guessed...
MARK’S ARTICLE – August 29, 2010
I had one of those dinosaur moments a couple of weeks back at my friend Gary Parker’s production studio, Quanah Productions. Big Al and I have been working on a new “From the Rooftop” series in Gary’s studio, ‘cause Gary is really nice and so easy to take advantage of. I just love the guy.
Anyway, I was trying to get Sam, an 11 year-old young lady who plays the Rooftop producer, to scream “Stellaaaaah!” the way Marlon Brando did in Streetcar. Sam was uncertain as to what I was asking her to do. According to Big Al, I was doing a really lousy Brando impersonation. My kid brother is so supportive.
Before I could tell Sam about the Streetcar scene, Kyle Scarborough, a local doctor and Rooftop investigative reporter, said, “Hey, Mark, here it is.” Kyle handed me this thin, little rectangular telephone/computer thing. He pushed the button for me and there was Brando screaming “Stellaaaaah!”
It was the scene straight from the movie, and it took Kyle 40 seconds to pull it up. I showed the scene to Sam and she said something like, “Oh, well, why didn’t you say you wanted it like that? Stellaaaaah!” The kid’s great.
That one display of technological wonderment completely blew me away. Completely. I’ve come close to losing sleep over it. Pretty close. There are two things I never thought I’d witness in my lifetime. Well, maybe more than two, but for our purpose let’s just say two. One was the fall of the Soviet Union. Never thought that would happen in my lifetime.
The other thing? I never thought I’d see someone grab a thin wallet-sized device, push a few buttons and come up with a scene from “A Streetcar Named Desire.”
And, the scary part? You wanna know the scary part? I was the only one in that studio who acted the least bit amazed. Kyle thought nothing of what he did; Sam thought it perfectly natural to look at a little screen and see an actor she’d never heard of scream something; Al didn’t care ‘cause he thought the whole Stella thing was stupid.
When I think of all the stuff that was going on in that small, thin box while it was searching for Brando, my cranium gets boggled. And then when I think of all the microwaves, radio waves, whatever waves that were bouncing around inside that studio and travelling all over the country and all out into space carrying that info… well, it makes me feel really small. Small and dumb. Dinosaur dumb.
I don’t want you to think that I don’t know how to use a computer, ‘cause I do. I’m using one now, in fact. I type, or keyboard, my articles and zip ‘em off to the boss when I’m through. I know how to work the computer, but I don’t know how it works.
I have even been known to look up important stuff with the computer. I’ve been Googling for four years now. (I just threw that in. I have no idea how long I’ve been Googling.) Remember the article I wrote about chopsticks and forks? Two of you? Well that just stinks. Whatever. The thing is, when I started the article, I had no idea where the fork came from. By the time I finished the thing, I was a fork expert. Thanks to the Internet.
In the days before Internet we had encyclopedias. They had a lot of information, but couldn’t tell you stuff like the number of episodes of “Gunsmoke” in which James Arness did not appear. No, for that you’d hafta call the Library Lady… more properly known as the Liberry Lady.
Did you ever call the Liberry Lady to find something out? I did about 20 years ago. I don’t remember what I was looking for, but it sure wasn’t in any of my books, so Kay recommended I call the library. I said, “You mean, the liberry?”
Well, I called and asked my question. The lady thought the question odd, but said she’d give it a go. She called back in about 20 minutes to tell me she couldn’t find what I was looking for. I felt guilty for wasting her time. Told her so. She apologized for not being able to help, and then corrected my grammar. Told me “liberry” was incorrect. No wonder she couldn’t help me. She didn’t even know who she was.
There was a movie in the olden days about a group of Liberry Ladies whose jobs were threatened by a computer. Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn were in it. The movie was pretty much science fiction, ‘cause at the time, they didn’t have a computer that could take the place of Liberry Ladies. Now they do. I’ve pretty well been all over that.
I do not remember the name of the Spencer/Hepburn movie, but I’m getting ready to find out. I’m not nearly as smart as Kyle Scarborough, nor is my computer as small as his. But, I’m going to find out how long it takes me to get the name of the movie with my big bulky job. It took him 40 seconds to find Brando yelling “Stella.” Let’s see how I do with a Spencer Tracy movie. -- Are you ready? Okay, on your mark—set go! -- I’m finished. The movie is “Desk Set.”
It took me 25 seconds. I Googled “Tracy Hepburn Computer Movie.” It pulled up “Desk Set” and Gig Young and the screenwriters Phoebe and Henry Ephron. The movie came out in ’57.
Isn’t that something? I think it’s something. Don’t know what all happened after I typed in the words, but there must’ve been information flying all over the planet. You get a few million people looking up stuff at the same time, and we’ll all have information waves pounding the daylights out of us. Just weird as it can be.
And. I lived to witness it. Since I remember what it was like before the Internet, the whole process is a wonderment to me. Those who don’t remember encyclopedias and Library Ladies think nothing of it.
Oh, and people like Big Al and Kyle? Kyle knows too much to be all that amazed by technology. Al? The last time he was amazed I beat him in ping-pong. It was back in ’83. Only happened once. Pretty sure it’s ungoogleable.
To view Brad Meyer and Mark’s review of La Madeleine, the French Restaurant, click here. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jyaPiKHVPao