CUTTING THE PHONE CORD AGAIN!

As high tech becomes higher tech as well as becoming part of the so-called “new normal”, it’s no real surprise that the telephone, the device that’s been part of the domestic landscape for over one hundred years, is become more of a thing that isn’t held down somewhere anchored to a specific place. It’s now a device that’s connected to a single person roving around to wherever they please–assuming that roving person can receive a decent signal!
Cell phones, that form of electronic communication that took years for it to grow up, has finally matured in vengeance. According to a report filed by the National Center for Health Statistics through the US Department of Health and Human Service’s Center for Decease Control and Prevention, some 43% of US households report that their phone service is based on a wireless cell phone or series of cell phones, meaning that there is no corded phone service available in that household. This 43% is limited to a household with those of adult age living in the home. For household with kids under the age of eighteen, that number rises to 52%, meaning that more than half of homes with kids do no have any corded phone service. What makes this report interesting is that these figures were compiled as of June, 2014–around the time that the two leaders in cell phone, Samsung and Apple, released their newer editions of their smartphones and the phone carriers that use them were promoting new options and services that are designed to beat their competition. Generally speaking (or writing in this case), this amount of cordless homesteads have most likely increased since this research was compiled nearly two years before.
There is no doubt that cell phone has been the biggest improvement for communication since phone service was made available to the masses! And based on how things are going, cell phones and the service plans–in addition to the mega amount of phone applications or “apps” that are created on a daily bases, will be increasing in size and scope, never to return back to how life was phone wise during those thrilling days of yesteryear!
Anyone with a sense of basic knowledge is aware that Alexander Graham Bell was the person that’s been labeled as the prime inventor of this magical device! For many years, a running gag was used by comics of the era that Don Ameche was the inventor of the phone, based on a 1940 bio film he starred in that told the story Hollywood style of Alexander Graham Bell, called interestingly enough, The Story of Alexander Graham Bell. (Turner Classic Movies occasionally runs this flick on their channel. Check your TV listings for the next time it’s available!)
Since Alex, or Don, showed to the world that this “tell-a-phone” was the way to communicate, this machine eventually took off! Not necessarily right away, but it eventually did. In ’15 (that’s 1915), the first long distance phone call was made between New York City (then the center of activity in the USA) and San Francisco–the unofficial capital of the west coast! Before too long, nearly every household had a phone line connected. In the bigger cities such as the for noted New York and San Francisco among others, one can dial local numbers on their own, rather then having an operator dial them for the caller. You still couldn’t necessarily dial long distance yourself as that wasn’t set into full place well until the 1960’s. Party lines where various phones used the same line continued until the middle 1970’s. (See the 1959 Universal film Pillow Talk for an example!) Then came the touch tone telephone, where one could dial a number by pressing on a set of keys on the face of the phone rather than sticking one’s finger to spin the dial. Not only that method to dial a number without “dialing” was fast and fun, but one could use the phone as a musical instrument! (In 1972, Michelle Scheff wrote a slim softcover book called The Pushbutton Telephone Songbook, that taught those lucky owners of this newfangled phone how to play such musical numbers raging from Mary Had A Little Lamb to Happy Birthday to Strangers In The Night! One could guess that many a long distant call was accidentally made while performing these traditional hits!)
Perhaps the biggest change of phones and the service its connected to is when the Federal Government broke up the mighty Bell System, taking full effect in 1984. Not only Bell and its many companies controlled most of the nation’s phones, but the lines connected to them as well! American Telephone & Telegraph, better known as AT&T, eventually became another cog in the sea of phone services that came about, with those offering long distant service that was much cheaper than what AT&T would charge. Granted, it was all ranked by the minute usage and the time of day when the call was made. Thus, a call made between 7:00 AM through 5:00 PM on a weekday was more costly than making that same call in the later evening or all day on a Saturday or Sunday.
But that was the so-called “good old days” when phones were anchored into hard lines. If one wanted to make a call while away from a home based place, there was the trusty pay phone. But as the such things, pay phone no longer serve a purpose, Although if one looks hard enough, one can still find them–if they are not all busted up to begin with!
But as cell phones become smarter while the folks that use them sometimes don’t match up to that form of intelligence, it appears that hard line phones are steadily fading away. They will not totally disappear as in many areas, cell phone service is a little dicey. But having a hard line lost most of its appeal. So if one’s “tweener” aged daughter nags her caretaker for a phone, don’t give them their a Princess type phone connected to a corded line since it’s not likely the kid would know how to operate it! This method of domestic lifestyle passage might have worked in 1960, but not in this day and age! In today’s world, chances are that that tweener in question has a better cell phone than what their parent(s)/caretakers use for themselves. If you don’t believe this fact, whip out your phone, open the app, and Google it for yourself!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS
A THORN IN THE FAMILY PAW, Garry Michael Kluger’s comedy-drama that has its focus upon a domestic family living in one of New York City’s boroughs that span a near fifty year time span, makes its world premier at Theatre West.
The scene opens in 1945 at the Goodman household in Queens. Young Eddie “Jazz” Goodman (Nick McDow) has just come back after his tour of duty fighting in World War II. Retuning back to his parent’s home, he meets his wife Susie (Katie Adler) who he married right before he was shipped out. Now settled, he is ready to get his civilian life started taking on his father’s business. Then the scene shifts nearly twenty five years later. A much older Ed (George Toval) and Susan (Julia Silverman) have two kids now young adults-Samantha (Heather Alyse Becker) and Jamie (Ian Lerch). At a family gathering to commemorate Ed and Susan’s wedding anniversary, there is joy and conflict about. Samantha desires to live with her boyfriend, while Jamie announcing he subscribes to a different type of lifestyle. These two issues doesn’t bode very well with their dad. (Father knows best?) As the time progresses to 1980, Ed and Susan’s relationship is under stress due to illness and their lack of desire for one another. But their now early middle-aged kids still support them while Ed accepts Jamie’s role in his personal life. As the 1990’s take hold, the family has adjusted as well. New family members arrive while other ones pass on. In spite of how things do change over time and tide, they are all of the same!
This “dramity” by playwright Garry Michael Kluger takes a situation of a middle class American family and creates a story that can be called bittersweet. There are laughs in both the characters and how they express themselves, yet there are many touching moments that show no matter what may occur for their better or for their worse, this clan does respect one another and show it off in their own unique method. The cast that play these characters do portray their family positions in a very realistic mode. They do the typical family antics that sitcoms didn’t necessarily depict accurately. (Did any family really live like Ozzie and Harriet Nelson??) However, the comedy is very similar to what can be heard in a TV sitcom, but in a very good and very witty technique! The storyline takes a bit to get itself going at first. But once it does, one has a “real” family depicted on the stage as to the one that lives right next door! And they can yell just as loud as anyone else’s brood!
The behind the scenes stuff includes Jeff G. Rack’s set design of the Goodman home, a place that since the 1940’s didn’t change too much! Yancy Dunham provides the lighting design, while Garry Michael Kluger’s creates the sound design.
Directed by Arden Teresa Lewis, A THORN IN THE PAW is a classic example on how families grew and developed over the many eras. One may describe such families as anything from close and boding to totally dysfunctional. But the play’s tag line really says it all: Everyone’s got one!

A THORN IN THE FAMILY PAW, presented by and performs at Theatre West, 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. Los Angeles (Universal City adjacent), until June 26th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM.
     After this show ends its run, Theatre West will bring back Charlie Mount’s THE LEATHER APRON CLUB for a return engagement July 15th through the 31st. Showtimes will remain on Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday matinees at 2:00 PM, with additional Saturday matinees on July 23rd and 30th at 2:00 PM. (See Review: Vol. 21-No. 17)
     For ticket reservations or for more information on both productions, call (323) 851-7977, or visit online at http://www.TheatreWest.org
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