Saturday, October 6, 2012

Ah, Naustalgia

It wasn't until I got a scanner and began trying to immortalize old photos from my youth that I realized just how degraded many of them are. The black and white ones were amazing. I have albums full of black and white photographs that are only like an inch square and the scanner reveals details I never knew were there. I have a photo of my Dad and me playing recorders and I'd always wondered why he had the leather case for the recorder on his chest. It turns out it was his tie.

But the color ones were awful. Clothing deteriorated into pock-marked pools of color. Faces oranged up. Discrete areas of the photos ran together like sauces on a plate. From any archival standpoint, they were a disaster.

But now, thanks to the Instagram app, you can take a brand-spanking-new photograph and crud it up right off the bat. I'm at a loss to understand why you would want to do this, but evidently, there is a market for nostalgia for times you haven't even lived through.

I probably should be able to get this; we've been able to put a sepia-tone on photos for years, and it does look pretty cool. But not all old brown photographs are sepia-toned. My mom's old pics from the farm are not sepia-toned. That was North Dakota during the Dust Bowl, and those are full-color shots.

Still, it seems stupid. Why not develop an app, I thought maliciously, that will paste scratchy sounds over perfectly good music? Ahem. The VinylLove app is already doing it. The app will scour your tunes and put them in mandatory album order, so you have to listen to the crappy songs to get to the good ones, just like the old days, and it will layer random static noise over all of them. With luck, the next version will introduce skips. Well, why stop there, if we're going retro? Develop a game depicting the album cover on the screen and use your manual dexterity to roll seeds off of it while retaining your weed.

Dad on the left. This photo is 100 years old.
There's a new app called Square that allows you to pay for things using your phone, but there's no reason not to add an old-school version. If it's a Friday night, you can try to pay for something, but it won't go through until Monday after ten a.m., when the screen would depict, for fifteen minutes, an image of the butt of the person in front of you in line at the bank.

Your gigantic HD flat-screen TV will wink out at midnight and leave you with nothing but a fading star, the National Anthem, and a reason to go to bed already.

Your GPS system can quit giving you directions and instead recite a Burma-Shave poem, tell you to pull over to the side of the road and then send little puffs of blue smoke out from under your hood.

Shoot. You want nostalgia? You could have a Whiny App that would detect any sign of petulance on your part, and then give you something to cry about.

88 comments:

  1. The wonders of t'internet! 1)I'm first in comments!
    2)(for the bimbos, and they are few on this site, it's to do with the turning celestial wheels and a thing called IDL)
    If anyone wants real really old music I may still have some 7" reel-to-reel tapes of live recordings in which there is background sound of my mother saying "bugger!" when she dropped something in the kitchen.

    Bring back the dark room and proper film,I say!
    (You could snog in the darkroom!)

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    1. Speaking of "first in comments," what time IS it where you are when it's 3am here, and it tomorrow or is it yesterday?

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    2. Hey Murr, didn't "bugger" and "snog" give you some good hints? Warning alert: you may need more caffeine at this time.

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    3. Well I know where she lives, and I'm afraid to Google snog.

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    4. Oh, apparently I needed the caffeine, not you! I think Googling bugger would be worse than snog (my revised advice: don't hit "images").

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    5. Um... hate to disappoint, but a "snog" is just a kiss.

      (I feel it's important to know a second language. Mine is English.)

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  2. Hey Murr! I was finding myself wide awake and raring to go when the alarm went off, which seemed a little keen to me. So I got my mum to record a looping sound sample for me: "Get out of bed, Roth! It's time to get up! I won't tell you again!". I now find it much easier to doze off again, and it has the added frisson of rebellion. Indigo

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    1. That is ingenious. I've never had any trouble in the sleeping-in portion. I wonder what would work to GET me to sleep, that didn't resemble a 2X4?

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  3. I think some of these "app" developers are a bit confused about their market. Just because we put up with a lot of computer stuff that works crappily, that doesn't mean we actually want things to be crappy when they don't have to be.

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    1. Although, it could be comforting to know that something is meant to be crappy, and it isn't our fault. How did you get italics to show up?

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    2. re: italics - I think there's an app for that ...

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    3. How did you get italics to show up?

      No app, just plain old HTML -- [i]text to italicize[/i], but use arrowhead brackets instead of square.

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    4. I was going to say "huh" but I just {i}tried it.{/i}

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    5. No, you have to use the little "less than" and "greater than" symbols (<, > etc.) Like this!, which means you should be able to get other html things that you want to add, such as BOLD using those symbols with a "b" in between. I will add spaces between the symbols to illustrate < b > and < /b> will bold the text between those sets. (You need to remove the spaces between the carets - inverted V-shaped graphemes - and the letters to have it work in html.)

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  4. I'm not THAT into nostalgia. Some advancements are good but not all.

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    1. ATMs good. Self-serve grocery checkout bad.

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    2. Au Contraire! Back here in the east, we like self-checkout! It means that we don't have to put up with the checkout gal flapping her gums non-stop to her next-door-neighbor checkout gal and ignoring customers, or worse yet, a checkout queen who's having a bad day and is throwing shade....

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    3. I'm off to look up "throwing shade."

      "to talk trash about a friend or aquaintance, to publicly denounce or disrespect. When throwing shade it's immediately obvious to on-lookers that the thrower, and not the throwee, is the bitcy, uncool one."

      Ed, you're so urban!

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  5. Sounds like all these Apps are trying to be comedians. Is there an App for blogging? Since I work a lot with photographs, I also am a little put off by all this nostalgia stuff. It only works about 10% of the time.

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    1. I think there must be a blog app. Otherwise I wouldn't get spam comments like "Pгetty sectiоn of content. I just ѕtumbled
      upon yοur blog anԁ in аcceѕѕion capitаl tο assert that I get aсtually
      еnjoyed аccount your blоg postѕ."

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  6. What a great way to take a walk through Yesteryear. Hilarious, even. I see you also found a use for album covers.

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  7. Maybe they can develop an app that will bring the cost of gas down to 25 cents a gallon and a 5 cent milkshake. Now that's one worth having.

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    1. I'd go for ten-dollar gas and a five-cent milkshake, but I'm a liberal.

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  8. Is there an app that will turn this car around if you two don't cut it out right this minute?

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  9. I love that 100-year-old photo. Is the lass on the right an aunt of yours? I see a strong resemblance.

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    1. Interesting question, there. The lass on the right was my aunt, but she became my uncle.

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  10. I just love old photographs. Very cute little recorder player.

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    1. I'm sure a very accomplished musician, too.

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  11. I do enjoy looking at old photos -- and your are just great. The colour photo taken during the dust bowl is fascinating.

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  12. What no app for rabbit ears? We could have great fun with the grand kids. "What do you mean I have to get up from my seat to change channels grandma?"

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    1. Even I hate the idea of having to shovel my butt out of the chair. The TV we had before this one, though, half of the time the remote didn't work. So retro.

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  13. I have great memories of family photos I took in the 1970s when my niece and nephews were toddlers. Now all the prints are badly faded. If I ever find the negatives I will scan some and save electronically. If I have prints made, I'll order black-and-white. Even so, I don't know whether the chemicals used today will stand up. Your century-old photo is awesome, and I love the dustbowl photo with the windmill emerging from the man's head...a retro look that is still popular.

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    1. Whoa. Looking for particular old negatives. There's a task I will never ever undertake. I probably even have most of my old negatives--they're not something you're allowed to throw away, like keys that you don't recognize.

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  14. Lived through the scrastchy records, the humming radio and the fading photos....now I prefer my music digitally enhanced, never listen to the radio and take tons of photos put them on my computer and never look at them again.

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    1. There has to be a good answer about the photographs. I look at mine but they're hardly searchable except by slogging.

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  15. Self-serve anywhere check out is bad. I hate it. It never works for me and then i have to wait for someone to show up and help me. Grr....
    Great post-love the photos. And your aunt became your uncle, even back then? Wow!

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    1. Well, there was no operation. It's all a bit of a mystery.

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  16. There's just something about old photographs that strikes a chord... how else would you explain the popularity of "Dear Photograph" (http://dearphotograph.com/) where people hold up an old photo into the same scenery and then take another.

    And do explain the lass on the right was my aunt, but she became my uncle!

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    1. Oh, that's way more than a blog post. Hmm. She's my uncle Bill.

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  17. We live in an over-apped world (is there such a word?) and I refuse to bother with the vast majority of them. I mean, really, who needs most of those?

    Preserving old photos is great. Needing apps that will do all kinds of messing with them is questionable. Photoshop can do that (and I don't even have Photoshop).

    App-arently I'm behind the times, but frankly, the times have way too much "stuff" in them. So stuff the apps!

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  18. I need an app to start my brain firing again. And a back up copy of it too. And I had no idea that snog was one of our words. Is it really Ostraylian?

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    1. Jeez, guys, you should get together and iron this out and then get back to us. How should we know? We're Americans. We don't HAVE to know anything about anyone else.

      By the way, thanks for "moggie." I love "moggie."

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  19. Loved seeing these photos. The one of your dad and siblings has always been one of my favorites. P.S. Any words of wisdom about what I should expect, now that I am about to join you at 59?

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    1. You didn't think I'd forget, did you?

      Did I ever tell you about the friend I had with my very birthday only she was a year older? She tends to be self-important. When I turned 33, I asked her what 33 was like, now that she was 34. She was very serious. She told me it was a time of renewal and reflection and an opportunity to create a new path in life should I choose to accept it and I don't remember the rest because I was looking for a sharp stick.

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  20. You know me, always the lurker but rarely commenting. Here's the best app ever: We were at our new neighbors for a welcome cocktail party (Apparently they couldn't wait two weeks for us to get our acts together and throw them one.) Okay so we go over there and these two guys are from LA- one was a casting director and one is a pastry chef and they just plain can't believe how wonderful and amazing and wholesome it is to live here on the mountain instead of in downtown LA. There's just one problem and that is that they are afraid of the bears. The bears that the rest of us have come to know and love. So one of the guys is terrified that the bears will come and while they are in pursuit of their grill on the deck a bear will fall through the glass sliding doors and they'll have a scared, panicked, raging bear in the house. It's the pastry chef that is afraid of this. So he insists that they rehearse a bear escape plan which he makes his partner practice over and over again. Now everyone at the party has had many little pastries and numerous pear vodka martinis. So then the casting guy says, "But, Tim, show them your bear app." So Tim gets all excited and whips out his iPhone and turns on his bear app and it works like this: You press #1 on the bear app and it makes the sound of someone clapping. You press #2 on the bear app and it yells, "Go! Gp away! Go!" And so forth. And I pray to Jebus that they can't track my comments because I LOVE these guys and especially Tim, who we will be inviting to all future parties because he comes with little pastries.

    P.S. Black or white, you never change one bit in looks. You on the recorder? It's you now, exactly. Minus the dewlap. xoxoxox.

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    1. Thanks for making me snot all over myself.

      If you look very carefully, you will see an embryonic dewlap in that picture. Oh, I've always known.

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  21. P.S. I left out the part about how we all fell on the floor in drunken neighborliness and laughed hysterically at Tim's bear app for about an hour until they asked us to please leave.

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  22. I was liking your pictures so much, and then found out I could make them bigger by clicking on them, which made me like them even more ...I can see every little button on the children's boots ... I can see your mom's grin ... I can see you eating your recorder!!!!

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  23. Thanks for the trip down memory lane. You just played the sound track of my life - skips, scratches and all. Loved this post.

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    1. Hey, you're welcome. I'd say all I have is my memories, but it wouldn't be true. I don't really have those either.

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  24. I love Instagram and its various clones. I have about a dozen on my phone. Spent years in darkrooms trying to make mediocre photos look better. Now I can make a good photo look mediocre and not even get my hands chapped. Will wonders never cease!

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    1. Bill, you are the up-to-datest old dude I know. And you know I say "old" with love.

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  25. PS: If you'll hit grayscale on your photo editing program and convert those faded color shots to B&W, you can then kick up the brightness and contrast a bit and have a fairly decent image, if a bit spotty in places.

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    1. If I remember, I'll give it a shot. I'm just happy if I can get the scanner to work, which it does when it good and feels like it, and not always.

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  26. I would hate an app that runs off the TV and plays Star Spangled Banner. I like having a TV on when I cannot sleep.

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    1. If I had a TV on it would assure that I would not sleep.

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  27. So your parents and relatives were black and white too. I seem to remember mine being in color when I was a kid but my old photos say otherwise.

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    1. No. I remember green grass and blue skies and the color of my playsuits but Mom and Dad were always in black and white. Pretty sure.

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  28. I'm thrilled because I have that hanging planter that's on the wall in the first picture.
    But I'm not all retro. I also have an app that will call me during a meeting so I can apologize and leave.

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    1. Barb, if you need that app, you go to too many meetings. What you need is an app that says, "I'm afraid I won't be able to make that one, but I know you'll do fine without me."

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    2. Brass planter, I believe, with a philodendron? I was surprised because I didn't remember we had wainscoting.

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  29. The acetate sleeves and cover we used on our photo albums off-gassed and ruined a lot of our color photos.

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    1. I've offgassed and ruined a lot of family get-togethers.

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  30. Your posts always make me smirk and smile, but this, "use your manual dexterity to roll seeds off of it while retaining your weed" cracked me up and brought back fond memories. Oddly enough, I was listening to Led Zeppelin's second album (yes, on vinyl) yesterday in the garage.

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  31. Your old photos are treasures! Re your aunt the uncle, (adore that lace collar!) I have a photo of my dad from the same era wearing shoulder length golden ringlets and a white smocked dress. I think that in that time, babies were female until they could persuade heir mothers to let them become male. Many never even bothered to make the attempt, and thus ensured the survival of the species when they matured.

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    1. What's your vintage? My dad was born in 1908.

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  32. Scanning photos is so much work, but also such a lovely way to take a trip down memory lane. Also, I love InstaGram.

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    1. So 'splain it to me. What is it you like about it? I'm really curious.

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  33. An app that turns your GPS into Burma Shave snippets? At least it would amuse you while you're lost.

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    1. I'm never lost
      I always say
      I sometimes just
      Misplace my way

      Murrma-Shave

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  34. Always late...
    Oddly TV puts me to sleep especially when infomercials around midnight start telling me to make a call and that I'll enjoy what follows. How far did you advance in music studies?

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  35. Uh, been playing piano since I was six or seven, but that's it.

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  36. I think it was Yogi who said nostalgia ain't what it used to be but your pictures are awesome. You were sure cute when you were little. Doesn't that farm picture with your mom make you homesick for the old homestead?

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    1. Or at least Mom, since that wasn't MY homestead. I love that picture. And I think my particular looks work the best on a wee person.

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