Sunday, May 23, 2010

Cell Phonery

Last time we got cell phones was three years or so ago. Got a pair of Motorola Razrs via AT&T Cellular -- though I think it was still called Cingular at the time.

Contract was for two years.

The contract expired a year or so back but we just kept paying on a monthly basis. I was kinda holding out for an iPhone, but my wife got me an iPod Touch for Christmas, and pretty much, that does what an iPhone does -- except for the camera and the, um, phone parts. (Does WiFi.) And since my Razr has a cam and a phone, I carried two things on my belt, but couldn't see getting the iPhone for the extra cost.

Last week my wife lost her phone. She called and had it deactivated, and we started looking around for a new phone. This morning, in the paper, there was an article about a small cell service provider that is associated with AAA and AARP, centered in Tigard, Oregon. Consumer Cellular. (It seems to be aimed at retirees, since half of the members are apparently in that category. They even have an old lady phone with big keys and a help-I've-fallen-and-I-can't-get-up panic button.)

No contracts necessary. Bills are month-to-month, the rate for basic phone and web service is half as much as we are currently paying, and we can get two of their relatively-smart phones for just over a third what we paid for one of our old phones. Bluetooth, MP3 player, camera, speakerphone, web access, and an FM radio, made by Motorola, same folks what made the Razr. Compatible with hearing aids. And the amusing part is, the company subcontracts with AT&T Cellular, so the coverage area is exactly the same.

They aim their marketing at old people, and service is highly-rated, which is why AAA and AARP went with them and not one of the big companies.

Though you can get their phones at Sears, you can also sign up online, get a small discount on bells and whistles if you are an AARP or AAA member, and they'll transfer your numbers and ship you the phone within 3-5 working days.

What's not to like?


Steve Perry said...

Ah, Slippage! I reviewed this very collection for The Oregonian when the book came out, and as said review was a tad long-winded -- back when the paper had space for such things -- I loped off the intro; but perhaps it might show some of the casual readers why they should plunk down their money for this book.


"Hand-Built Tales from the Master of His Craft"

... This is the mark of a real writer, that willingness to risk himself, and in his latest collection of hitherto-uncollected stories, Slippage, (Houghton-Mifflin, $22,) Ellison shows us again why this dancing on the edge has won him more awards than any living fantasist. Starting with an introduction that discusses his near-fatal experiences in the big Los Angeles earthquake of 1994, then shifting to tell of his quadruple coronary bypass less than two years ago, Ellison sets the tone for the material to follow: Pay Attention—my number—your number—anybody's number—could be up at any time.

The twenty-one precariously-poised stories herein, which began their various lives as short pieces in magazines, a television script, an audio cassette, and even a broadcast on National Public Radio, stretch across a wide canvas ring. Like a good middleweight boxer, sometimes Ellison flicks a fast jab or cross to the head, sometimes he throws a solid haymaker to the solar plexus, but always, always, he is close enough to touch. This is not literature at a cool remove, but in-your-face, impossible-to- ignore calls-'em-exactly-as-I-sees-'em writing. And these pieces, as most of Ellison's works, do not slot neatly into any genre.

In "Anywhere But Here, With Anybody But You," the surprise end to a man's marriage is announced by a mysterious visitor. Eddie Canonerro's wife is gone, she's taken the kids, and this sudden messenger relays the information as calmly as if he is discussing the weather. Here is your duffel bag, pal, all the rest belongs to her. Canonerro's puzzled fear leads him to something un

Steve Perry said...

unexpected -- knowledge ... and what comes with that knowledge.

In "Crazy as a Soup Sandwich," a script that was a produced episode of the second incarnation of the Twilight Zone television show, a low-rent petty crook and shylock, Arky Lochner, makes an ill-advised deal with the Devil—well, a demon, at least, and his time is about to run out. Panicked, Arky turns to the head of the mob for help, and the result is prime Ellisonian humor.

In "Darkness Upon the Face of the Deep," a pair of modern-day treasure hunters trek to a far away Middle Eastern site where Land Rovers fear to lay tread, to descend into a long-lost tomb. What they discover is not exactly what they'd hoped to find—and it is the damnedest tale of revenge you've ever read.

In the essay, "The Pale Silver Dollar of the Moon Pays Its Way and Makes Change," a slide show of nearly thirty years blends into a fast montage of personal and world history. We are given quick hits on assorted dates: 1934;1957;1959; 62;'75;'80;'92. The writing is train-wreck compelling. Listen to the rhythmic opening of the entry for 1962:

"Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Jerusalem, and the United States Supreme Court ruled against official prayer in public schools. How I met Carl Sandburg was this: Bill was married to Lelia, and I'd met them at somebody's party and I was staying in a small apartment down on Wilshire near Beverly Glen, and they invited me to visit their house way up in the Glen, at the end of a small street called Beverly Glen Place, and it was so beautiful up there, all private and quiet, that I rented a funny little treehouse up a steep driveway called Bushrod Lane, and that was how I came to be living just about next door (and above) Bill and Lelia's when Bill was hired for second unit work on The Greatest Story Ever Told. Or maybe he was an assistant director."

Or from"Mefisto in Onyx," hear the telepathic black protagonist's simple, chilling description of his meeting with an about-to-be executed psychotic killer:

"He was a handsome guy, even for a white man, Nice nose, strong cheekbones, eyes the color of that water in your toilet when you toss in a tablet of 2000 Flushes. Very nice looking man. He gave me the creeps."

At his worst, Ellison is evocative and visceral in ways only a few living authors can manage. At his best, Ellison is pretty much matchless. He has been among the top American writers for most of his forty-odd year career. He can make you laugh, he can make you cry; he can make you think, and he can make you feel. (And where else are you going to find a book with back cover quote praising the work therein from no less a literary critic than Jesus Himself?)

If you've not read Harlan Ellison before, you should. Slippage is an excellent place to start.