Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What time is it in China right now?

Back on June 19th, I decided that I wouldn't add so much as a single lowercase letter of new content to The Prettiest Denny's Waitress until I received a comment from China. I just got completely fed up with the silence my blog was being met with in east Asia. A guy can only take that kind of indifference for so long, am I right? There are a billion people in China. Couldn't at least one of them hack through the communist firewall and send me some love?

Finally, I can break my blog-fast and get on with things: We have gotten a message from our friends across the sea (see comments on the previous post.) I'm sure they are words of peace and cross-cultural understanding, something along the lines of "Old friends and new acquaintance bring much thankful 5-17-65-4-2-98-12," or perhaps "We love your Grand Slam breakfast."

Whatever it says, I'll never know, both because I don't read Chinese characters and I'm afraid to click on it. But it's the thought that counts.

And now I can get back to my blog.

In an effort to recapture what the approximate tone was around here before my long, Chinese-induced absence, I've decided to share with you something completely trivial and try to express just how hilarious I find it. That's pretty much all I did before, right?

And so I give you the Vox Clock 2, a talking clock from the 1980s.

That's right... a talking clock. This is the way-ahead-of-its-time precursor to all those talking clocks you take for granted and are now surrounded by in your 21st-century life. Can you even imagine a time when we didn't have robotic voices telling us the time on demand?

What's that you say? You don't have any talking clocks in your house? What is this, 1981?

Okay, so the talking clock caught on about as well as the dancing Coke can and the DeLorean, but you have to smile at the spirit behind such semi-futuristic gadgets. And the emphasis here is on the semi- because my favorite part about that clock, along with its lifeless, countdown-to-ignition robotic voice and the promise of a future where we don't have to use our eyes to tell time, is the classy faux-wood paneling! Because what better way to tie your future-is-now timepiece into your 80s yuppie decor, all track lighting and black laminate furniture, than to disguise it as a block of wood! So perfect.

And how did I come to possess this wonder of Cold War technology? Same place I got that 12-pack of Guiness in the fridge: My grandmother gave it to me. For most of my life, the hourly intonations of that clock (doo-doo-DOO... it's Four a m ...ding!) were the background of any visit to Cape May. That clock was almost a part of the family. Aside from announcing the hour, it was known, on very rare occasion, to announce random times between the hour (it's eeleven-Oh-thlree p m), and once, just once, with several witnesses, myself and my grandmother included, it said "Two dolla and a TOOT-sie roll." I swear to god.

My grandmother just moved to Georgia to be closer to my parents. Before she started packing up her stuff in New Jersey, she asked my cousins and I if there was anything we wanted out of her house so she'd be sure not to throw it away. Duffy took the little fisherman that sat atop the hutch in the dining room. Danny wanted the duck that held open the bathroom door. The giant jar full of beachglass was already spoken for, so I immediately thought of the clock that sat on a shelf just above where the duck did his work.

So now the Vox Clock 2 mechanically recites the hour in our new apartment in Atlanta. I'm a light sleeper, so I had to put it inside the bench by our dining room table, but you can still hear it loud and clear. Of course, you can't push the button to get the time with it in there, but we have some of those old-fashioned non-talking clocks to fill in the gaps.


Julie said...

He lives! Facebook has been trying to get me to reconnect with you for months now, but I refused to do so until you got a comment from China.

So (A) welcome back and (B) I will be so disappointed if I show up at your apartment and the clock does not tell me what it needs to provide me with a tootsie roll.

You've set the standard pretty high, Mickey. Do not let me down.

A Free Man said...

I don't know, those dancing Coke cans came this close to being huge.

Glad to see you back.

courtney said...

Glad you're back. And how long do we have to keep that clock before the novelty wears off?

nancypearlwannabe said...

Yay, you're back! I've missed you! And Mumsy Lou just commented the other day about how you weren't writing anymore. I'm glad you are disappointing her any longer.

Chris said...

Very cool. There's no sense of scale in the photo, but it looks like it should double as a miniature beer fridge.

Could you fit even a couple of cans in there?

Allie said...

That is one sweet clock!

I get a lot of Chinese character comments on one particular post on my blogger site. I did the Google Translate thing, and they all seem to be for some kind of hair care product. I never approve them. I'm not as cool as you. :)

The Modern Gal said...

Well shoot, I could have offered you one of my Chinese comments. I've got plenty to go around.

I love that the name is VOX clock. Vox is such an '80s term.

Lynn said...

[Mick's mom here.] I'm glad you moved the clock out of my house. I miss you, but not the tootsie-roll man.

Correction: the night of said tootsie-roll incident, 'the man' repeated the famous enigmatic phrase SEVERAL times. It was funny and creepy at the same time.

Speaking of time, it was like 3 in the morning. What were you doing up?

Aaron said...

Well, huzzah. This is what I call a Christmas Miracle (tm). You blogging again, not the clock. Although that is awesome in an entirely different way.

Stefanie said...

I don't have a talking clock, but as of Christmas Eve, I have a clock that I can talk TO! I know you're jealous. Seriously, I can hit the snooze button without even rolling over and pulling my arm out from under the covers. I just have to say "Snooze!" Oh, technology. And I didn't even have to go to 1981 to get it.

(P.S. Yes, I realize such a clock of laziness is ridiculous. I swear to you I requested it specifically because I liked the design, not the "talk to it" feature.)

Robert said...

Just got my Vox clock from my grandmother today! My grand-father got this when he started losing his eyesight and could not see what time it was anymore. I remember sitting in my grandpa's lap when I was a kid and pushing that button a thousand times - it was so cool. Saw your post and wanted you to know people like me are still excited to own such a clock and remember the good ole days.