June 14, 2013

"Call me naive, but I seem to have underestimated the universal desire to sit in a hard plastic chair and stare at a screen until your eyes cross."

"My father saw it coming, but this was a future that took me completely by surprise. There were no computers in my high school, and the first two times I attempted college, people were still counting on their fingers and removing their shoes when the numbers got above ten. I wasn’t really aware of computers until the mid-1980s. For some reason, I seemed to know quite a few graphic designers whose homes and offices pleasantly stank of Spray Mount. Their floors were always collaged with stray bits of paper, and trapped flies waved for help from the gummy killing fields of their tabletops. I had always counted on these friends to loan me the adhesive of my choice, but then, seemingly overnight, their Scotch tape and rubber cement were gone, replaced with odorless computers and spongy mouse pads. They had nothing left that I wanted to borrow, and so I dropped them and fell in with a group of typesetters who ultimately betrayed me as well."

David Sedaris — whose father worked for IBM — in "Me Talk Pretty One Day" (published in 2000), which I listened to, partly while asleep, last night.

23 comments:

rhhardin said...

Not only that, but they sissified rubber cement so that tire patch kits no longer work.

I should have seen it coming when they took away quick drying airplane glue 20 years earlier.

Rusty said...

I blame Apple.
Fuckin
Jobs.

gerry said...

I should have seen it coming when they took away quick drying airplane glue 20 years earlier.

Thrill-seeking drug addicts are to blame.

rhhardin said...

We had stand-up keypunch machines in the 60s. It was intended to get programmers to use the keypunch girls instead, but only developed programmer stamina.

Nonapod said...

It's interesting to look at various predictions that have been made over the years by prognosticators and futurists and compare them to what actually ended up happening. It's also enlightening (and humbling) to think back on predictions that you yourself may have made years ago about how things may turn out. More often than not you may realize that you pretty much suck at predicting the future.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

...and stare at a screen until your eyes cross.

Yeah, internet porn has that effect on me too.

AprilApple said...

poché.

edutcher said...

The chairs have been comfy for at least the last 20 years.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I used to keep a supply of punch cards around to use as bookmarks.

I thought maybe I was making an artistic statement or something.

A week or two ago a guy from the power company came to check the gas meter.

He complimented me on our garden and he thought it very clever that I had made a bird bath out of a frying pan.

The idea came from an old Sylvester and Tweety cartoon, I explained.

AprilApple said...

The spray adhesive discussions. I remember those.

Frustration. This one dries too fast,. This one stinks. I'm high and not in a good way... etc...

Titus said...

I read his book Let's Explore Diabetes With Owls when I was home for my mom's surgery.

He has one story about being sick and going to a French doctor-you guys wouldn't like that one though.

He is hilarious.

Ann Althouse said...

This blog post prompted me to hit the up button on my motorized desk.

Mitchell the Bat said...

I should add that my mother-in-law was in the kitchen when I brought the completed frying pan birdbath up from the basement.

She said it was stupid.

lemondog said...

and trapped flies waved for help from the gummy killing fields of their tabletops.

Retribution

Sam L. said...

Sidaris never appealed to me. This excerpt was amusing, though.

Jenn said...

Made me laugh. I'm a graphic designer and the hard-copy-to-digital revolution happened in early in my career. I still remember doing storyboards that were actually boards. Memories...

Rusty said...

Ann Althouse said...
This blog post prompted me to hit the up button on my motorized desk.

Snob.


I wonder how many people here have ever seen a Linotype machine at work.
A marvel of gears,springs and levers.

Thank god for digital.

ricpic said...

Staring at a screen is effortless. That's the attraction. Poor D.H. Lawrence wanted people to engage with life by going back to the earth which means getting sweaty and dirty which is the thing most people are most averse to. He was right of course but his harangue was in vain. People don't want 3-D grit, they want the smooth screen.

deborah said...

keypunch card wreath

LordSomber said...

My father saw it coming too, and made me take a computer class in high school, even though there were no computers in the class. (Early '80's).

Ideally, one should embrace the new tools without throwing away the old ones.
I still write/edit with paper and pencil before typing it into a computer. And I still sketch and draw by hand before scanning it to color/render in Photoshop.

It's amazing how many "graphic designers" I know who have little fundamental artistic skill when it comes to their bare hands.

ampersand said...

The Jetsons predicted work consisted of pressing a button , which essentially happened.
They missed the part about staring at a television set.

traditionalguy said...

I never read Sidaris before. He was just a name that I had heard of.

But thanks to Professor Althouse's alert, I downloaded it and have listened to some already.

He reads the Audible version himself, and he has amazing verbal skills. Listening to him hyped me up.

Now I need a book to make me calm down. Calvin's Institutes from Covenant Theological Seminary via iTunes U has the smooth voice that usually does the trick.

Sigivald said...

As someone who did manual paste-up in college (in the 90s! but they made us do things the Old Way on principle at the start), there's a reason people were so eager to go to DTP solutions.

That reason is, doing it with glue is incredibly inefficient and stupid in comparison.