Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It's anniversary day again

Today is April 14, which is the day in 1994 when Turner Classic Movies first went out on cable. Satellite TV was in its infancy, and streaming stuff over the internet? Ha! I remember having to send a photo over email back in the early 1990s and how long it took, even with a university internet connection. Floppy discs still only held 1.5MB, so storing your media was still a problem. Oh, and all those America Online CDs that everybody used as coasters or suncatchers or whatever. Discs were only CDs, no DVDs for another couple of years yet. And you went to a rental place to pick up videotapes to watch for the evening.

But I have a feeling my readership consists mostly of people who remember those halcyon days of 1994, and not the young people who wonder how we all survived. No cell phones? Well, I discussed that one back in 2011. By 1994, though, we had advanced far enough to have... pagers. Oh boy, remember those? I'm reminded of when I was in high school and had to give the school officials my parents' emergency numbers where they could be reached and the time I had to change Dad's number to his pager number. They looked at me strangely because the number had an exchange that was a good half hour away, these being the days when small towns could still be identified by the three-digit telephone exchanges. Not that I go back as far as the named exchanges, which are evoked in a title like Butterfield 8. I do remember, however, getting an actual human operator while trying to make a long distance phone call with one of those calling cards (!) from a bus station in Rutland VT in the early 1990s when I was in college. Gotta love all those telephone switchboard operators that show up in classic movies.

All those phone lines remind me, too, of the idea of "tracing" a call, since caller ID wasn't much of a thing back in 1994. Dad worked for the phone company for 30 years, and when he retired, he got the phone service goodies free for life. Goodies back then, however, meant call waiting, which isn't much of a goodie if you're the person whose call is being interrupted. As for finding out who's calling you, there's a movie like The Slender Thread that covered that topic very entertainingly. Governments in our more outlying areas got "Extended" 911, which gave the dispatchers the address from which the call was being placed.

At any rate, I'd really meant to comment on the anniversry of TCM to mention that there's another TCM original coming up. Tonight at 8:00 PM, they're honoring Robert Osborne with a program that was probably mostly recorded in honor of the big 20th anniversary last year, but like the interviews from the TCM Film Festival, doesn't show up for quite some time after all the footage is recorded. I haven't seen this one and so can't comment on it at all. Not that I'm expecting much out of this one. As with many of the TCM originals, it gets a repeat airing for the benefit of the folks on the west coast, following one feature. That feature, at 9:00 PM, is North By Northwest, and the Osborne salute will be reairing at 11:30 PM.

As for North By Northwest, don't get me started on the deptction of the airport in Chicago. Compare that to flying today. Airline travel in all those old movies is probably a good subject for a list post.

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