Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Trying to solve one of the great mysteries of life...

I love this SOOOO much.  Two 17 year-olds trying to figure out how to use a rotary phone.  They have four minutes.  Can they do it? 


Lemuel said...

Funny but not as good as the " Woman at gas station with Tesla" you posted earlier.

David P said...

Friday Question: How many times have things like this happened to you?


Mike Barer said...

All of a sudden, I remember pens that banks gave out that had special ends fitted so you could dial a phone with it.

Mike Barer said...

Would they have better luck turning on a TV without a remote? How about threading a tape recorder?

McAlvie said...

Okay, that is pretty funny, although I feel a bit mean in thinking so because, of course, they've never been exposed to a rotary dial phone. I would be flummoxed over things my parents used in their youth. I couldn't tell you, for example, how to actually prime a pump even though I've heard the expression.

Similarly, I had to explain to someone once about fountain pens. It was ballpoints in my day, too, but you still saw fountain pens around. But for today's generation, its a strange and mysterious thing used for fancy calligraphy. No, I explained, a fountain pen was just the step between ballpoints and dip pens (think quills, I explained) and considered terribly convenient because the ink was inside the pen! Now, like analog watches, they are becoming a trendy thing.

I would like to see rotary dial phones come back, as well. There was something very satisfying about them. You could work out a lot of frustration just by dialing, and of course those old phones were indestructible and heavy, so when you hung up on someone, by golly they knew they'd been hung up on!

I do wonder if someone explained to those boys that, no, they didn't do it, because they had the receiver on the hook when they dialed.

Mark said...

16mm projector

William said...

They are smart kids. Going about it in a systematic way and figuring it out within four minutes. Good job.

Paul Gottlieb said...

That was pretty funny! But to be fair, it was no funnier that watching my dad try to get the time to stop flashing on his VCR all those years ago. And I had to consult my 10-year-old granddaughter for help when I got my first iPad

James Van Hise said...

I know someone who worked at a TV studio and they'd always prank a new guy by giving him a piece of paper and pointing to a typewriter and asking him to type up a work order. People in their 20s would look at the typewriter and wouldn't know where to begin. Typewriters themselves and become obsolete largely because office supply stores which deal with them charge $100 for repairs (about $20 of which is for parts) which used to cost $30 total. One place told me they charge $35 an hour for labor, which is what a mechanic charges to fix an ordinary car. I told them that I'm not going to pay the same price to fix $125 typewriter as I pay a mechanic to fix a 20 thousand dollar car!

AlaskaRay said...

The sad thing is not only have never before seen a rotary phone, but they’ve also never watched an old classic film.

VincentS said...

Not too long ago I sat down and tried to use a typewriter. I'm old enough to have used one and average about 60 words a minute on a laptop keyboard which, of course, has the same keys and I couldn't do it!

Tom Galloway said...

Reminded of the Groucho Marx line:

[To an audience] "Why, a four year old child could understand this!"

[Aside to an aide] "Go get me a four year old child; I can't make heads nor tails of this!"

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I was interested that they kept picking up the receiver and putting it down again, as though they were clearing its memory.

But IIRC the early rotary phones actually had a little user manual written on them. It wasn't obvious then either.


Wendy M. Grossman said...

Tom Galloway. You may also recall Tom Lehrer in "New Math": "It's so simple...so very simple...that only a child can do it."


Scottmc said...

This reminded me of the scene in the movie IN & OUT. Matt Dillon and his supermodel girlfriend are staying in an Indiana motel room. At one point she is alone and wants to make a call. It is a rotary phone and she is at a loss as to what to do. An underrated film with a cast that included Bob Newhart, Debbie Reynolds, Wilford Brimley, Kevin Kline and Joan Cusack.

Buttermilk Sky said...

James Van Hise, have you tried working on your car? Without a degree in computer science, you're lost. $35 an hour seems reasonable.

Someone should give those guys a 45 and a phonograph and see how long that takes.

Rod said...

Hi Ken-- Friday Question-- I recently watched an episode of "Everybody Loves Raymond" and saw that you had directed that episode. Does someone from the show contact you to do this? Are you actively pursuing directing gigs? How much do you have to prepare, i.e. knowing character backgrounds, the way they interact, etc? and as a showrunner, did you like having a director come in to do one episode, or did you like working with the same person as much as possible?

Mike Bloodworth said...

About twenty years ago PBS ran a series called, "1900 House." The premise was to take a modern family and put them in a turn-of-the-century situation. For example, no electricity, gas lights, wood stove, etc. They also had to wear period clothing as well. It was a real ordeal especially for the kids. They did make it through to the end. And needless to say they were ecstatic to get back to their "modern" home.
It reminded me of the "I Love Lucy" episode where Lucy and Ricky bet each other that they can't live like they did at the turn-of-the-century.

There's a scene in "Back to the Future" where Marty is trying to twist off a bottle cap not knowing that it required a bottle opener.

My mother left me an old, Singer sewing machine. One of those heavy, black, all steel models. Unfortunately, there's no owners manual. It's much simpler than a modern sewing machine. It should be easy to figure out, but that's the problem. Its simple logic eludes me.


Troy McClure said...

Now that Kamala Harris has been announced as Biden's running mate, watch Trumptards collectively lose their miniscule minds. If you thought Trump had emboldened them to be openly racist before, you ain't seen nothing yet!

iamr4man said...

See, this is why I don’t get it when older guys date younger women and say being around them makes them feel young. Being around younger people makes me feel ancient. I remember when Peter Falk died one of the other older guys in the office and I were remembering him and Colombo. And a young woman came up and asked who Peter Falk was and didn’t have a clue what the Colombo TV show was. So I asked her if she saw The Princess Bride and pointed out to her that Peter Falk was the Grandfather reading the book. She said oh yes she had seen it, “one of the classics”.

Lorimartian said...

Some time ago, I worked with a lawyer who was temping in our department. His wife was the producer of a successful late-night talk show. His BMW was at the dealer for service. He complained that the labor charge was $75.00 per hour and said something to the effect, "I'm a lawyer and that's what I make." Not temping, I thought to myself, as well as how arrogant and disrespectful an attitude he displayed. He probably didn't have a clue where the oil reservoir was located. I'm blessed to have found a wonderful independent mechanic who spent hours studying and training for his career. I have the utmost respect for him and great appreciation for his expertise. There are experts in every line of work, and they are paid accordingly...get over yourself.

-bee said...

How to use a Dial Telephone: 1927

(sorry - no live piano accompaniment)


Barry Traylor said...

William said...
They are smart kids. Going about it in a systematic way and figuring it out within four minutes. Good job.

Only 4 minutes? Good thing they were not trying to dial 911.

Jeff Boice said...

I feel like that whenever I rent a car at the airport. Anyway, they should have asked them to dial "BEechwood 4-5789"

Anonymous said...

Peter Falk - Abe Reles

No said...

My family were late adopters when I was growing up. Rotary phones only until 1985, no VCR, microwave, or computer until after then. I think our television and stereo were about the most high-tech things we had, albeit pretty good ones (RCA with the big-ass fake wood panel, and a nice turntable console).

I read paperbacks from the library then too. In all, pretty glad about all of that.

Jahn Ghalt said...


It's NOT NICE to laugh!

Would it help to turn that cap the right way?

I WAS going to say - this is not interactive - but IT IS! Two minutes in, Dial Tone is present.

"what with the little holes, though?"

The wrong cap kid figured it out - but gave up "after the buzzer"

(at my college, thay had to grab the test out of my grasp "after the buzzer")

I call this a WIN.

Turn about is fair play. At 61, I have little patience "figuring out" my lo-end "smart (er than me) phone".

(and NO WAY would I spend the cash for a Me Phone)

(and I am beyond reluctant to do purchasing or banking on a "phone")

David P - the "font doctor" sketch - not bad! Off to find a "Chinese Takeout" font!

Mark beat me to it - threading a film projector (don't forget that little loop!)

LOVE the typewriter prank!

And very sad not to have seen an "old movie" (my 25-yr-old daughter, OTOH watched Gone With The Wind at least 4 times before age 14 (more than me).

The only scene I remember from That Girl - Marlo Thomas in boy friend's car: "What's this 3rd pedal?" (that was 1968ish)

For me, the last time I dialed a rotary predates the last time a played an LP - by decades.

"1900 House" sounds interesting, but it did have a "cast iron oven" (probably a variant on the Franklin Stove and gaslights. Also an "outhouse" (to use the American term). I'm sure they provided wooden matches and galv steel washtubs.

I often snort (privately) at the oft-repeated nonsense that "we" (say post-1950, like Ken) live in a time of "rapid technological change"

Here are things we all had in The American Fifties that my Grandmother did not have in 1900 Finland:

Anesthesia ("on the edge" in 1900 - but perhaps ubquitous for dentistry and surgery)
Airline Travel
Automobiles (also "on the edge" - horse/buggy far more common)
Central Heating
Electric Applicances and Lighting
Material Science to support everything on this list (plastics and "exotic" steel/metals)
Pure food and water (deaths from food more than 90% less over 50 years)
Recorded Music (Edison Cylinders not much around in 1900)
Telephone Service Television
Water and Sewer Service

David Kaye said...

BEFORE you laugh at these 17 year old kids trying to figure out a dial telephone, consider devices your grandparents probably used that you would find hard to figure out.

How about a mangle? That's an ironing machine using a rotating drum. A milking machine? How about a wringer washing machine? A crank automobile?

Chris Barts said...

Ken, I'd love to see you try to start and drive a Model T Ford.