Last week, I was standing on the Fremantle train platform at 7.15 when an elderly Transperth employee caught my attention. He was sweeping out the platform and looked extremely happy, whilst whistling “We’ll Meet Again” – the jaunty version, not the slow one. I figured he must have been reminiscing about some sweet wartime gal of his, because the content look on his face was infectious, and I too, desperately yearned to meet that special somebody again, some sunny day. After having this song in my head all morning, I then began to remember my other favourite wartime songs, like the one that discusses the distance from Picadilly/Leicester Square to Tipperary, and subsequently, the sweetest girl that one does know.
Which promptly made half of my head start singing for me to pack up my troubles in my old kit bag and smile, smile, smile. I can totally split my mind and play both parts in my head perfectly. I’ve yet to meet anyone who will have a jolly wartime sing-a-long with me, however now that I know that the Transperth employees can kick it WWI style, I’ll be all over it like Coach Gordon Bombay on Charlie’s mom.
Wartime romances aside, One thing that I want to write about is the frightening advance of technology.
I was sitting in my office looking around at all of the kinds of high-tech gadgets and I began to feel bewildered, anxious and more than a little confused. It is 2011 and I am a cranky old bitch that refuses to change. I remember a time when “CD Rom” and “Encarta 95” were special treats that the family could gather around to explore together. I remember Dads “computer nerd” friend putting all manner of wonderful MS-DOS games onto floppy disks for me and my brother, and away we were with our DOS prompt skills. It was always a race home from school to get onto the computer first, and the loser had to wait patiently whilst having their spelling list tested by mum.
I want to tell you about my 2 favourite DOS games ca. 1992-1996. The first is Paganitzu. You are a 1991 American named Alabama “Al” Smith, an explorer who is working his way through an ancient Aztec Pyramid. In a movie version, you would definitely be Brendan Fraser. You must use strategy to ensure you don’t get killed by snakes with laser eyes, giant arachnids, and of course those dastardly GIANT SPIKES THAT FUCK YOU UP. The game has lots of “topical” references which I never understood back then (some even now), like when you find an inscription on a wall reading “Take me down to the Paganitzu City where the grass ain’t green and the girls ain’t pretty”, and references to obscure people such as “Al Gore” and “Dan Quayle”. These confusing adult jokes aside, I was hooked. And I am proud to say that recently I played it and clocked the game without even thinking – it seems my gaming fingers have a muscle memory for this game.
My other dear childhood friend is Dangerous Dave in the Haunted Mansion. In this game, you are Dangerous Dave, a polite looking guy with a red hunting hat, a grey sweater, and blue jeans. For LOLs, jewels and little cakes (?), you go into a haunted mansion and fight off a range of horrifying pixelated creatures as you journey through the mansion. Terrors you encounter are wolves, slimes, spiders, hunchbacks with knives and on level 5, a scary guy that looks like a huge green Gary Busey in overalls. For the record, I recently played Dangerous Dave and I couldn’t beat Gary Busey. True Story.
The thrill of clocking games like these is second only to the thrill of yelling out of a car window and making an elderly citizen jump in fright. So why the fuck is it, that with my advanced technological mind, can I not play DOS games at the skill level of my 8 year old self? Have I devolved? Have all the corn syrups and rap musics eaten away at my motor functions? Have I succumbed to the bee-bop and the hippity hop?
I believe that the constant stream of technology being released is turning us into ill-mannered, highly-strung scumbags. People now believe they must upgrade their mobile phones every few months, either costing them $800-$1200 to do so, or fixing them into some ridiculous contract. For this, all they are really getting is some small cosmetic or user-irrelevant change in the phone, yet in a few months they will be lining up to get sucked into the next upgrade. No wonder debt in people aged 18-30 is at an all-time high! Back in the day, we weren’t always having some “upgraded, new version” shoved in our faces. Sega was in production for 12 years, and released about half a dozen consoles. And we thought this was great!! iPhone whores the world over would think this to be absolute insanity – imagine that; something that people keep and use for more than a year! I still play Sega Master System II, by the way. Still refuse to use an iPhone, too. Am I weird for wanting to keep things “separate”? I have a digital camera for photos, an mp3 player for listening to music, a laptop for the internet, and a mobile phone for “texting and ringing people”. Is it so weird that I hate the idea of using a goddamn 4 inch screen to watch a video, or prefer to use a regular pushy-inny-button qwerty keyboard for writing blog posts or emails to people? My camera and mp3 player aren’t huge, they fit in my bag with ease. And I prefer using the net at home where I am free to browse and open new tabs and all that exciting shit. Have I become the elderly citizen that is wary of everyone and everything? iFrightened?
Back in my day, you could work out any sum you had to either in your head, or with pen and paper. I think that if you took away a teenagers mobile phone and asked them to work out change for a stick of weed from $50, their head would spin around and they would shit themselves. And then create a Facebook status about it. There are articles in magazines whereby people have to “go without” their mobile phone for a weekend. The results are all the same – the person freaks out, misses out on gossip and social events, feels alienated, and subsequently dies. Ironically enough, advanced personal technology claims to “connect people” – yet there are so many times I go to spend time with people, only to watch them playing scrabble on their iPhones – against the person sitting next to them!! “Hey guys, I don’t use an iPhone – let’s dust off the old Scrabble board and have an actual game!!! Where we can TALK!!” I hardly ever answer my phone, I go out places without taking my phone and I can happily get on the piss with my friends whilst my phone sits idle under the bed. Maybe I am just some sort of wild crazy outlaw, you know, living off the land, roughin it etc. Just like Red Dead.
Technology has advanced in an exponential manner and I can feel it pressing in on my doily covered, musty little life. It took 5000 years to get from the wheel to the car, 103 years from the car to the plane, 55 years from the plane to the spaceship, and only 9 years from the spaceship to Woodstock. This would explain why 2 months after you get a computer, some asshole will smugly tell you that its outdated and shit. Keeping up with the Jones’ technology is stressing us out so much – for example, those people lining up for hours just to get the iPhone 4 !! Surely you would just wait a few days and leisurely buy one then? Could you really not wait that long?
I could continue to rant about this for hours but I shan’t.
Coming back to my original point, I love morale-raising wartime songs, and MS-DOS games.
Hoping everyone had a wonderful Easter long weekend (smugly, I did)
Love, Chelle xoxoxoxoxoxooxxooxoxoxoxoxox