Watch Your (Audio/Video) Language

You can tell the age of a tree by counting its rings. You can tell the age of a person by counting the number of times they say something anachronistic. For example, if I start talking about Compact Discs, kids will instantly identify me as being, uh, mature. They will make snide remarks about the La Brea Tar Pits and mastodons. Kids can be cruel. Ask me how I know.

I want to spare you this kind of mortification. Thus, I have compiled a no-fly-zone list of audio/video language. This language contains trigger words and phrases and under no circumstances should be used around persons younger than you. For example, you can say, “Let’s record this.” But if you say, “Let’s tape this,” you’ll immediately wish you hadn’t.

Here’s the list. Commit it to memory:

“Let’s rewind and watch that again.” Not OK.

“Have you seen my Walkman?” Not OK.

“Do you like my Maxell poster?” Not OK.

“Look! If you put a pencil in here, you can rewind the cassette!” Not OK.

“Hey! Let’s listen to my party mix tape again!” Not OK.

“Is this cassette a Dolby B or C?” Not OK.

“Nakamichi makes such great stuff.” Not OK.

“I remember when records cost two dollars! Two dollars!!!” Not OK.

“Check out this Pink Floyd album on Japanese vinyl.” OK, but only if your glasses frames are a bright, hip primary color.

“Look at this! When it finishes playing one record, the next record automatically drops down!” Not OK.

“It plays better when I glue a penny to the tone arm.” Not OK and, in fact, this never was OK.

“I don’t care what you think. I’m glad I invested your college fund in this sweet quad system.” Not OK.

“Check out all the CDs in my visor wallet!” Not OK.

“Dammit! The hinge on this CD jewel box just broke!” Not OK.

“Sit tight while I open the trunk and load a new CD magazine.” Not OK.

“I painted the edges of all my CDs with a green Sharpie; it really improves the sound quality.” NO, NO, NO.

“My Laserdiscs blow away your stupid Blu-rays!” Not OK.

“Why does my VCR keep blinking 12:00?” Not OK, and never was.

“Hey! Let’s rent something from Blockbuster!” Not OK.

“I think I have this on Beta.” Not OK.

“Why don’t you try adjusting the horizontal hold.” Not OK.

“Ben Cartwright and the Ponderosa in living color — TVs will never, ever surpass that.” Not OK.

“The colors will be fine once it warms up.” Not OK.

“Gosh, these 23-inch TVs are huge!” Not OK.

“I remember when TV stations used to sign off at midnight with the Star-Spangled Banner.” Unfortunately, Not OK.

“Have you seen the clicker?” Wow. Not OK.

“The picture is really, really good if you hold one of the rabbit ears.” Really, really Not OK.

Well, that was fun. Now I have the bad news. If you understand the jokes behind these references it means that you are, in fact, old. I mean, seriously, ask your kids or grandkids what rabbit ears are. What you will see on their faces is the emoticon for the word “puzzled,” possibly with a hint of troubled concern for your sanity. The good news is that if you are around people your own age, you are in a safe space. Disregard the list. You can say whatever the hell you want. OK Boomers, that’s all I have for you this time. And now you’ll have to excuse me. Writing always makes me thirsty. I need a beer. “Hey honey! Get your sweet cheeks into the kitchen and grab me a cold one from the ice box!” Not OK and Not OK.

Ken C. Pohlmann is an electrical engineer specializing in audio topics as a consultant and writer. He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Miami.

Also see:

Is it Dumb to Buy Smart Audio/Video Devices?

John_Werner's picture

Mostly all of what you've itemized strikes a chord with me being born in 1959. Instead of the negatives of "not OK" I'm going to claim some victories. If you are somewhere between 60 and something 60+ you grew up in a time of some of the best contemporary and rock music ever recorded. You can appreciate the transition from a crappy transistor radio to the glory of a proper component hi-fi rig of the latter sixties that just got better and better (when I was 12 I thought my Scott S-15 speakers, Sherwood receiver, Wollensak qtr track, and AR XA playing Led Zeppelin was a life-affirming joy). What the hip Millenials have that is OK, or even close to my hi-fi joy, eludes me.

Puffer Belly's picture

What about record vs. vinyl, or the terms LP and 45?