Big Billy – Video killed the radio star

Somehow I think time started movin’ faster lately. It seems like there’s more technology advances in the last ten or twenty years than in the whole hundred years before that.

I think I’m just not used to the pace of things. Seems like it used to be big things would Big BIllycome along every fifty years or so. Like, in the early 1900s, somebody invented the car. Holy cripes! people said, we can get from here to there, just sittin’ on our arses!

Then about fifty years after that, TV came along and people said, Holy cripes! We can watch all kinds of shows on two different channels, just sittin’ on our arses!

Then about fifty years after that, they come out with the Internet and people said, Holy cripes! We can find out anything we want for free and send messages around the world instantly, just sittin’ on our arses!

But see, this is where things started to speed up, because it wasn’t too long after that everybody and their dog had a cellular phone and people said, Holy cripes! We can answer the phone without even gettin’ up, just sittin’ on our arses!

(Come to think of it, I bet that’s how anything gets invented. There’s probably a room full of scientists, scratchin’ their heads, lookin’ at some technology that already exists and sayin’ to themselves – Is there a way we can make it possible for people to do this while just sittin’ on their arses?)

Anyways, once the Internet and cell phones got together, that whole fifty year clock for big inventions went right out the window. Of course, I’d have no idea about any of this if it wasn’t for Little Bill. Ever since he first started his part-time job at the grocery store a few months ago, he was savin’ all his money to get one of these fancy new phones, and then he finally came home with it a few weeks ago. It cost some ungodly amount, but I was kind of proud of him, because he paid for every cent of it with his own money and didn’t even ask us for any help.

Is it a celluar phone, Bill? I asked him, and he burst out laughin’ like I told him a big joke.

Nobody says “cellular” anymore, Da, he said. It’s just “cell”.

But it’s a uPhone, is it? I said, and he damn near wet his pants he was laughin’ so hard.

An iPhone, you mean?

Well cripes, I don’t know nothin’ about these things, I said to him. An iPhone, then, fine. Then what’s the U thing?

YouTube, you mean, he said. That’s where ya post videos and stuff. Here, look, he said, and he turned to show me the screen of the phone.

And there was a video of me sayin, “Well cripes, I don’t know nothin’ about these things. An iPhone, then, fine. Then what’s the U thing?” And he doubled over again.

Them things got cameras now? I said. How in the hell do they fit a whole camera in that little thing?

That’s when Rosie came downstairs where she was doin’ her homework on the computer.

You shouldn’t post videos of Da without him knowing, she said. That thing already has ten comments.

Post it? I said. What does that mean? Comments? You mean people can see that?

“Is that your old man or did a gorilla break into your house?” Little Bill read from his phone. I’d say that’s the funniest comment so far, he said.

You mean just *zip* just like that and it’s on the Internet?

Just like that, Rosie said, snappin’ her fingers.

Well for cripessake, I said. Ya gotta let me know when I’m on camera. Go ahead, go ahead, I said, and tried to smooth down my wooly cowlick as he clicked it on again.

Hello there, everybody on the Internet, I said. My name is Billy and this here’s where I live. My son, Little Bill, just got a uPhone and this here’s one of his movies.

I stopped then because Little Bill was laughin’ so hard, he couldn’t keep the phone still.

So how does it work, I asked. You send it in to a TV station or somethin’ and they put it on the Internet?

This time the two of them lost it. Rosie was laughin’ so hard she sunk onto the couch and then started slidin’ off. Bill was down on one knee, holdin’ himself up on the edge of the coffee table.

Aww, to hell with yous kids and your fancy new gadgets. It’s not like it was back in my day. When I was a kid, we used to collect 45s. Do yis know what those are?

Isn’t that a card game? Rosie said, which was a little scary, since she’s the smart one.

No, it’s this old thing they used to put music on years ago, I said.

You mean like a CD? Little Bill said.

No, I mean like a record, an album! I said. It was this wax thing that had grooves in it and you’d put it on a turntable and then put a needle in the groove and the way the needle scratched it, music would come out.

Woah, Little Bill said. That sounds pretty complicated. All I gotta do is press this button here to play music.

And when he pressed it, this loud bouncy music came on that the kids listen to nowadays.

Here! I said, and started dancin’ around the livin’ room. Get a good close-up of me now! These are my moves, I’m doin’ here!

The kids were kickin’ out laughin, and I don’t think I managed to shimmy around for any more than 30 seconds before I was all sweaty and out of breath.

Just think, kids, I said. We can be rich If we can figure out a way for people to dance just sittin’ on their arses.

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