Yakima’s little secret

funny, recording, Yakima No Comments »

Back in the day, I used to be very clever with the outgoing messages on my answering machine.  It was the kind with the two micro-cassettes in it, and the sound quality was great.  That may sound like a ridiculous or trivial detail to mention in the context of an answering machine, but it was the only one I ever had in which you could have background music, or sound effects, or whatever you wanted.  The other advantage of the tapes is that you could create messages that were huge in length; only limited by the length of the tape. I used to hold the machine up next to the speaker of my stereo and play sound effects or music behind things I would say.  Sometimes they were long, rambling messages, but other times they were miniscule, nonsensical ones, like, “I’m going to play a guitar solo for you now,” followed by five seconds of a blazing, 80′s metal scale.  One of my favorites was simply me saying, “Hello?” and then I left a long pause, followed by the beep.  People would invariably start talking, only to have the beep interrupt them, which would completely derail their trains of thought.  Friends would sometimes call my number when they knew I was at work, just to hear what I’d put on the machine that week.

The various roommates I had back then not only didn’t mind the weird outgoing messages, they actively encouraged them, and occasionally participated themselves.  The all-time best one, which I kept up for quite a while, was one that my friend and I directly quoted from a phone-sex line.  We used to dial random things like 1-800-SEX-4-YOU, or any combination we could think of, and one of the ones we stumbled upon had a hilariously detailed introduction, which we promptly wrote down and adapted, almost verbatim, into our own message.  I’ll transcribe it like a script, since that’s how it’ll make the most sense.

ME [reading in a low, seductive voice]:  Thank you for calling Yakima’s Little Secret.  Straight men and women, press ’1.’

ROOMMATE [in an even lower, more seductive voice]:  Gay men and women, press ’2.’  For the man-to-man Cruise Line, press ’3.’  For the Tool Line (and he put a funny emphasis on the word ‘tool’), press ’4.’

ME:  Please have your credit card information handy, and thank you again for calling Yakima’s Little Secret.

BEEP.

Coincidentally enough, less than a week after we had created this message, ClassicRockRadioStation’s morning show announced a contest for the best outgoing answering machine messages, the best of which would be played on the air.  I worked nights at the time, so I never listened to the show, which meant that I woke up to find a bunch of messages, starting with one from a friend.  “Dude!  [RadioStation] is doing an answering machine message contest, so I called in your number for the show.  You’re totally gonna win.  See ya!”

The next couple of messages were blank, followed by laughter, which meant that the station had called, listened, and hung up.  The final message was, “This is Scott and Dave from RadioStationMorningShow, and your message has been selected as our favorite, so you can expect to hear it on the air.  Congratulations!”

Naturally, I had slept through all of the hoopla, since I don’t like mornings and I REALLY don’t like those cloying morning radio shows, but a few friends heard it, and the show’s hosts played it a number of times on the air.  “How about that Tool Line, Dave?  I think I want to call it.”  “Yakima’s Little Secret, indeed.”  That evening, when I arrived to work at CrazyVideoStore, a bunch of people told me that they’d heard it too.

For the record, my dad hated every single one of those messages.  Each of his calls would start with a variation on the theme of, “Do I have the right number?  I don’t even know, because there’s no name or anything, and I guess I’ll have to hope that this is correct.  Anyway, if it IS correct, please blahblahwhateverblahblah.”

After a number of years of faithful service, that answering machine finally gave up the ghost.  The digital ones that replaced it limited you to something like ten or fifteen seconds’ worth of a message, which was too short a time to really hit my stride.  I felt that I’d lost a tiny but important creative outlet.

The other factor in the death of the weird messages was the natural human process of aging.  After many years of creating strange or funny messages, it got to be hard to keep improving on the art form.  I’d always try to one-up myself, without repeating, and it’s more difficult than you might think.  Also, that kind of stuff is funny when you’re nineteen, but by the time you get to be twenty-four or twenty-five, it becomes a bit juvenile, and you look for more productive outlets for your creativity.  At some point it’s an issue of Trying To Be Clever, rather than simple fun, and the charm of doing it wears off.

These days, my message is totally generic and lame.  In fact, I don’t even remember what it says, because I never hear it.  I do realize, of course, that I could punch it up on EyePhone and listen, but I’m content to keep that little mystery unsolved.  Incidentally, I’m still friends with the person who made Yakima’s Little Secret with me, and we have plenty of fun leaving each other funny voice mails, instead of worrying about what our outgoing messages are.

I do occasionally toy with the idea of making weird messages again.  Technology has come so far, with ringtones and all that, I could easily turn my boring message into a big production, but what would that accomplish?  Hardly anybody uses a phone as a phone anymore.  I use mine as more of a miniature laptop computer than as a phone.  Everybody texts and Skypes, and e-mails, or (dare I even say it) hangs out in person.

So chalk this up to a funny memory of antiquated technology, I guess, and how for some things, there’s just no substitute for tapes.  I wish I’d kept the tapes, at least.  One of them got eaten (which was always a problem with tapes, micro- or otherwise), but the other one would have been a nice souvenir to have from that time.  I have a couple others floating around, including the one that my friend made by smuggling his micro-cassette recorder down his pants to get it into the Paul McCartney concert (in 1990, at the Kingdome in Seattle, on Paul’s first ‘comeback’ tour since his days in Wings), but all you can hear on the tape is me singing along.  You can hardly hear Paul at all.  That would be a pointless funny thing to try and record onto my computer someday when I have absolutely nothing better to do.

Thank you for reading all of this, and thank you for calling Yakima’s Little Secret.  Vive le micro-cassette!

 

How do you say ‘dopamine’ in Chinese?

dreams, funny No Comments »

After all the heaviness lately, it’s time to get BFS&T back on track, and get some levity around here again.  Who among us doesn’t like levity?

I had a dream the other day in which I was having dinner with my Chinese-American girlfriend and her family.  She and her teenaged sister were both very Americanized, but her parents were not, and they spoke very little English.  We were spending the evening at an upscale Chinese restaurant in downtown Seattle, and a waitress was placing some miniature bowls on the table and making a rather elaborate show of gracefully spooning tiny ladels of seafood stew into each one.  We watched her closely, fascinated, and we each took turns sniffing the delicious stew and commenting on it as our respective bowls would appear at our places.

Somehow the subject of dopamine came up (you know, like it does), and I was trying to explain to my girlfriend’s dad about the various functionalities it has on the brain.  He was having a tough time understanding me, and I was having a tough time simplifying the terminology enough to get the ideas across, but we were both engaged in the conversation, and we were trying to communicate with each other as best we could.  At one point, I attempted to use the seafood stew as a visual aide, but even that was unsuccessful, so we finally agreed to just drop the subject of dopamine altogether and move on to something else.  “It’s really interesting, though,” I finished, a bit disappointed at having to give up on such a good topic.

Given the conversational choice between dopamine, politics, and religion, I’m gonna choose dopamine every time, even (and I daresay especially) on a dinner date with my girlfriend’s family, their tenuous grasp on the English language notwithstanding.

a three-hour dream

dreams No Comments »

After a crazy fun evening (and, indeed, the entire week has been pretty over the top, both busy and fun), I had a ridiculously boring dream about being at my mom’s house loading the dishwasher before I went to work, so that when I got home three hours later, the dishes would be clean and waiting for us.

When I woke up, I thought that my subconscious must be trying to make up for my crazy waking life by providing really dull dreams, but when I went back to sleep, I discovered that was not the case.  I had an epic, three-hour dream that I’m not sure I’ll be able to stitch together into a coherent narrative, but it really was one of the longest dreams I’ve ever had.  You’ve been duly warned.

* * * * *

I’m visiting Brother’s family at his house, which in the dream is more like an art palace.  Its design resembles that of the Guggenheim museum inside, with multiple circular levels and rooms with no stairways between them, only floors that slope and curve around within the house.  The walls are painted dark brown, and there is orange and blue ultra-modern furniture everywhere, as well as very tasteful modern art.  It’s a bit like Guggenheim meets Dr. Seuss, but somehow it all works and looks very beautiful.

I find a piece of mushy chicken on the floor, and, thinking one of the kids must’ve dropped it, I pick it up and start looking for a wastebasket.  Sister-in-Law is trying to ask me something, and I’m trying to tell her that I’ll be there in a second, but she can’t seem to hear me.  She keeps having to shout from elsewhere within the house, “Are you there?  I’m asking you something!”  Brother is in the kitchen, so I ask him about a wastebasket, which he produces from under the sink.  Within the one large basket are three small bags, each for recycling or food or whatever.  I ask where to put the chicken, and he points vaguely toward a corner of the basket.  I deposit it where I think he means, but he grabs it and places it gently in a different bag.

The dream changes, and I’m walking in a sort of industrial park along the waterfront of Puget Sound south of Seattle.  I’m not there for any real reason, but I find myself intrigued by this large stone double door that appears to be the portal to a ship on the other side of it.  I stand in front of the door, and it opens.  I step forward into the lobby area of the ship.  The ceilings are very high, and the room is opulently but sparsely furnished, a bit like a hotel lobby.  The walls are the painted the faintest shade of pink, and there is a downward spiral staircase not far from the entrance.  I am greeted by a short man wearing a tight body suit and a black fencing mask so thick that his face isn’t visible through it at all.  He seems to be a security guard of some type.  He walks over and gruffly asks me my name.  I tell him, just after I take a bite of food, so my answer is garbled.  He understands me, though, and he says, “You didn’t even lie.”  He’s surprised that I give him my real name, which he somehow knows.  “Of course not,” I reply.  “Why should I lie?”

I get the feeling that this man is planning some sort of harm to me, so I make a slow movement to touch or remove his mask.  As soon as my finger touches it, the mask disappears and the man shrinks down to about eighteen inches tall.  He is all head and feet and arms, with a tiny body connecting everything.  He’s suddenly gone from being a threat to a joke, and I find myself trying to suppress laughter at the sight of this pathetic excuse for a watchdog.  He motions for me to follow him down the spiral staircase, and I do. When we walk to the bottom, there is a group of mobsters standing around in suits.  It seems that the man I encountered is either a scout for new members or a deterrent for nosy rubberneckers, or both.  I make a run for the stairway, and slide down the inner rail to the next lowest level, which is a Japanese store of some sort.

The room is square, and painted bright white.  The store is filled with Japanese toys and gifts and trinkets of all sizes and colors, and the shelves are piled high with clothes and art and DVD’s and posters.  There are large paintings on the walls, in vibrant reds and blacks and blues.  There are two employees working, and they both greet me in Japanese as I walk down the stairway into their store.  I wander through the aisles for a moment, but when I find another stairway, I step into it and walk down to a different level, which is a not-particularly-nice furniture and stereo equipment showroom.

I grab a stereo brochure from a little box near the base of the stairway, and I’m glancing at it when an older gentleman approaches me.  He’s a salesman, and he’s wearing an old-fashioned suit.  “What can I help you with?” he asks.  I look up from the brochure, a bit surprised, and I walk over to the tiny display of a few small stereo receivers.  I tell him I don’t need anything, and that I’m just there to look.  The man replies, “That’s just what I was hoping someone would come in today and say.”  I thank him, and go back to the stairway, which has a second downward offshoot, which I walk down.

I am surprised at the bottom of the stairs by a large group of mobsters and men wearing fencing masks.  These men all have guns, and they are actively out to get me.  They start shooting at me as soon as they see me, and I have to run away from them as fast as I can.  I run to a door, push it open, and find myself outside on the flat cement deck of the ship.  I look out at the waves on the water and think to myself, I forgot I was even on a ship.  My brain sure is doing a good job of remembering details. The men burst out the door behind me a moment later, guns blazing, and I run to the far edge of the ship’s deck.  I seem to have lost the men, and I take a moment to breathe.  I look up from my breathing to see that a few of my friends from real life (a Japanese aerialist and a group of martial artists) are there on the ship too.  They seem to be on the run from the same guys, so we agree to stick together.  “Did you guys go through the stores and everything too?” I ask them.  “I’d forgotten I was even on a boat at all.”

At this point, something happens and we get separated.  I find myself at the stairway with no one else in sight.  I grab hold of the rail, and I get whisked up the stairs at breakneck speed, around and around and around, until I am deposited on the pier outside the stone door at the entrance to the ship.  I decide I need to tell Brother about this, so the dream’s time and location changes.  It is now early evening, and I’m at my brother’s dark, small, three-bedroom, second-floor apartment.  We are sitting in the living room on the plush white sofa (all of the furniture is white), and I’m telling him about the crazy experiences I’ve just had.  While we’re talking, the door is open, and two attractive young women walk by on the apartment’s landing.  I say to Brother, in my best Butthead voice, “Hey, bay-beh.”  He laughs and rolls his eyes at me.  We get up and he shows me around his place.  I look into the bedrooms, expecting to find kids’ clothes and stuff, but the other rooms are furnished with double beds, and it’s clear that he has roommates, which I was unaware of.  “Who else lives here?”  I ask him, looking into one of the rooms.  One of the young women has appeared behind me.  She is wearing a Chicago Cubs baseball uniform, and has just gotten home from practice.  “I do,” she says, and smiles.  We talk for a minute, and then she tells me to get down on my hands and knees.  I do, and she sits down on my back as if I’m a horse.  She’s petite and not very heavy, so I crawl around with her for a while.  We crawl under tables and chairs, and we come to a coffee table that is lower than other things we’ve gone under.  “We’ll make it,” she says encouragingly.

“Okay,” I say, smiling, “but we’ll need to get low.”  She leans forward onto me, and I can feel her breath on my neck and cheek.  We try to pass under the coffee table, but we’re not quite low enough.  “Lower,” I say, and she flattens herself against my back and shoulder, leaning her head against mine and putting her arms around my chest.  We try again, and the table is still too low, but we decide that we like being that close, so she stays wrapped around me as I crawl slowly and deliberately across the living room, down the hallway, and to the bedroom where Brother is reading to the three kids.  Niece sees me, stands up, and walks over to the doorway to lean down and give me a hug.  Somehow I’m able to reach an arm up and hug Niece without dislodging my lovely passenger.

* * * * *

There were a couple of other scenes in the ship, and another Japanese component to the story, but those details are sadly eluding me at the moment.  If I do manage to remember them, I’ll be sure to add them later.

SteamCon

music, Washington 1 Comment »

This past weekend I did something for the first time; I attended SteamCon, the steampunk convention in Seattle.  I had only an inkling of an idea what to expect, but I have to tell you that it was amazing.

I found out about it when PolishCellist (her name is unusual and therefore requires a pseudonym for blogging purposes), with whom I play accordion, was asked to perform there.  I’m pretty easily put off by large crowds, but I’m familiar enough with the ideas of steampunk (I have a handful of friends who are super into it), and I’m definitely familiar with the type of circus and cabaret culture with which it shares many similarities and ideologies, so it sounded like it would be, at the very least, an interesting experience.  Plus, we had free all-weekend passes.

I’m interested enough in anime and cabaret and stuff that I knew the convention would be full of more than just teenagers dressed like comic book characters, but I have to admit that the wide range of ages was a surprise to me.  Young and old alike roamed the halls and congregated in the lounges and rooms, and the garden area by the pool.  There were whole families, each clearly interested in different aspects of the culture.  If you’re not familiar at all with steampunk, look it up it stems from the idea that the Victorian Age was the height of creativity, and culture, and technology.  There are a myriad of sub-genres within that simple idea, though.  There are people who simply like to dress in Victorian style, and there are people who are fascinated by the elaborate gadgets that were created before electricity was in common usage.  There are people who are interested in cabaret music, and people who are interested in the popular entertainment of the time, such as burlesque and circus acts.  There are people who build weapons using this antiquated technology, and there are people who build elaborate mechanical body parts for themselves.  There are people who are into early flying machines.  There are people who are inspired by the Gothic and vampire novels of the time.  You can see how there’s plenty of room for interpretation, and all can fit under the umbrella of steampunk, albeit some more naturally than others.

The best thing about a convention like that is the people-watching.  Just about everyone was dressed stunningly.  It was interesting to see the lengths to which people would or wouldn’t go.  One girl wore a beautiful blue ‘peacock’ dress, and one guy simply wore a polo shirt and jeans with his aviator goggles.  One guy doctored up an electric guitar, and a husband-and-wife team (who led one of the panel discussions) arrived with an amazing brass electro-mechanical dog that could actually roll under its own power and lift its head, and probably did various other tricks as well.  Its eyes were lit up in blue.

There was an art room, which did double duty as a silent auction.  There were pictures and sculptures, as well as the requisite gadgetry.  The antique bicycles modified into antique motorcycles were particularly well done, I thought, and as a typewriter enthusiast, I love the fact that people have figured out ways to modify them with USB connections, so they can be used with their more modern counterparts.

I feel sorry for the ‘regular’ people who just happened to be staying in those two hotels at the time this was all going on.  It was hilarious to watch and overhear people on their cell phones trying to describe what they were witnessing.  “It’s some sort of convention,” they would say, “or maybe a fashion show. . .”

All I can say is that it was a total blast, and I’m hooked.  I’m into old music, and antiquated technology, and I do love to dress nice.  My usual attire owes more to the 1970′s than to the 1870′s, but there are enough cool places in town (not to mention garage sales) that it wouldn’t be too hard to find clothes.  It would be nice to go to a different meet-up at a turn-of-the-century hotel or club or something, rather than the ultra-modern hotels.  Not that there’s anything wrong with those hotels; it should be noted that they did a tremendous job of hosting the enormous convention.

I think it would be funny and awesome to buy a cheap cello and doctor it up.  I would never do that to the cello I have, but it would be a great experiment on a different instrument.  Maybe a violin would be better, since it’d be a lot cheaper, not to mention easier to carry around as a prop.  Only problem is, I don’t know how to play violin, and I know I’d get tired of constantly having to refuse people when they’d want me to do something with it.  Cello for the win (I accidentally typed ‘wine’ just now), as The Kids Today would say.

Why don’t I have any pictures in this entry, I can feel you asking, after gushing about how amazing and beautiful everything was?  Because I couldn’t find my camera when I was packing.  After I got home, it turned up in the glove compartment of my car, buried under CD’s, where I had left it the other day.  I wanted to punch myself in the face when I saw that it was in the car with me the entire time, and I didn’t even know it.  Curses!

As a little aside, I have to confess that after dressing quasi-Victorian for the weekend, it was really nice to slip into a comfortable sweater and jeans today.

P.S. – If you should ever find yourself passing through the tiny town of Nisqually, Washington (an hour or so south of Seattle), you owe it to yourself to stop in at Norma’s restaurant, for a great time and an amazing burger.  I don’t eat very many burgers, let alone recommend them, so that ought to be a pretty good impetus.  While we’re on the subject, Violetta and The Hop and Vine here in Portland have excellent burgers as well.   Seek ‘em out.

P.P.S. – I hate to end this entry talking about burgers, even really delicious ones, so I thought it would be funny to tack on this completely unnecessary paragraph.  I stand by my decision to do that, even though it doesn’t add anything to the blog.

P.P.P.S. – There is no third post script.  Please move along.

P.P.P.P.S. – There’s also not a fourth one.  Sorry.

P.P.P.P.P.S. – There IS, however, a fifth post script, and this is it.  There will not be a sixth, unless I decide to add one later.  Who knows, maybe I will.

P.P.P.P.P.P.S. – Yup, looks like I did add a sixth one.  Okay, now I’m really done.

P.P.P.P.P.P.P.S. – Or AM I?

[Edit:  P.P.P.P.P.P.P.P.S. – Here and here are some great pictures (including some of the dog!), many of which are from the fashion show on Saturday, which required a separate $50 ticket to attend.  Also, PolishCellist is in a couple of those pictures.  HINT:  She is without her cello.]

Merry Christmas, blowhole

beautiful, blogging, funny, sad, true No Comments »

First of all, I’d like to say that I hope you’re having a Merry Christmas and a great holiday season.  I’d also like to thank you for reading BFS&T all this time, and for bearing with me through the hiatus.  And speaking of BFS&T, it celebrated its third anniversary a couple of weeks ago.  Let’s all raise a glass of some sis-boom-bah for that.

number3bnw

I should mention that I’m in Seattle for the holiday week, and that this will only be a short entry, but I did want to share with you the new insult I learned today.  I overheard it on a kids’ show that my niece was watching.   A boy band of sorts was trying to put on a Christmas concert, and a policeman was harassing them and trying to thwart the concert, and one of the guys in the band referred to him as a ‘blowhole.’  As in, “Hey, shut your piehole, you blowhole!”

I think that’s going to be my new favorite insult from now on.  I love it because it sounds a bit risque and naughty without actually being naughty.  Adam Carolla’s clever portmanteau ‘jackhole’ works the same way.   ‘Manhole’ is similarly not-naughty, but in that context it just sounds all kinds of wrong.  So ‘blowhole’ is perfect.

You’re welcome.  And Merry Christmas.