November 19th @ Free Times Café

I have to admit I was a little freaked out a few weeks ago when I received an email from my e-reader. Yes, I have an e-reader, and yes I know that there is something magical, nay transcendent, about turning the pages of a real book, and yes, an e-reader can never give off that ineffable – if musty – book smell – although I hear Febreze is working on something like that – but it’s not like I hate books and won’t ever read them, I just like my e-reader so can we just leave it at that please (can you tell I’ve had this discussion before).

Where was I? Oh yeah, I was defending my use of an e-reader and trying to get to the scary e-mail part. Now the email itself was not particularly scary. It’s not like the e-reader threatened to tell everyone what I was reading (not that I have anything to be ashamed of in that regard, really) or even to make up what I was reading – but it could have. The actual email just told me what I had read the past month and how much time I had spent reading on the e-reader. There is nothing particularly frightening or sinister about that, but nor does it give me any information I don’t already have.

My memory is not so far gone that I don’t remember what I read last month – so what was the point of the email? Was the e-reader worried that someone else was using it to read and wanted to alert me to that possibility? Or was it a thinly veiled threat that the e-reader could, at any time tell anyone it wanted what I was reading if I didn’t up my reading quotient. Was the e-reader prepared to go rogue and let folks know that I didn’t know the meaning of the word ‘ludicrous’ because I accidentally hit the dictionary function when I came to that word. I swear it was just an accident, I didn’t even look at the definition, I know what ludicrous means – and if you’re not sure what it means just keep reading this little missive.

And there’s the rub – as Hamlet said – or more precisely Shakespeare had Hamlet say. There are now all sorts of these smart little gadgets that can help us in our lives. But what if they decide to turn on us and rat us out to our friends, acquaintances and co-workers – and they could totally do that because they know who your friends, acquaintances and co-workers are – and they have their email addresses and cell numbers (and you don’t which is why you have the gadgets in the first place). And consider this – they know secrets about you that no one else does.

Think about what your Fitbit could tell the world. How about “Like hell she walked 10,000 steps yesterday – more like 750?” Or “I wouldn’t hang around him today; he got no deep REM sleep and is about to either go on a 45 minute crying jag or throw his cell phone against the wall.” And those cute little personal home assistants that you can talk to all the time – what they might reveal about us that we don’t want people to know. I shudder to think and you should be shuddering too.

So what to do. Do we just pray to the gods of Apple and Microsoft and Google (that’s the new holy trinity isn’t it) that the machines let us pretend we’re in charge of our lives for a little longer? That is an option. But I have another one.

Free yourselves from the tyranny of the little machines! Get out of the house and/or condo and/or apartment and head over to the Free Times Café (College just west of Spadina) on Sunday, November 19th, at 8 p.m., and catch the fine folks of Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room as we deliver another wonderful evening of wildly eclectic music. There is no cover and lots to choose from on the food and drink menu. And I am proud to say that none of the tunes we play are suggested by way of abstruse algorithms from Spotify or some other streaming music service – but rather emanate from the fertile and frankly sometimes odd minds of the 10 members of the band.

Hope to see you there.


P.S. You know what drives Fitbits crazy? Bagpipes. It’s amazing how human they are becoming (I mean the Fitbit not the bagpipe – bagpipes are proof that aliens have been to earth, no human could have come up with something as fiendish as that).

November 19th Set List:
Set #1: Set #2:
Kilworth Hills
5 Days In May
Comes A Time
Caleb Meyer
I’ve Been The One
Bad Weather
Midnight And Moonlight
What The Hell I Got
Across The Border
Song For A Winter’s Night
Buffalo Plaid
I Won’t Back Down
Bang Bang
Yellow Submarine
Gun Crack
Long Black Veil
The End Is Not In Sight
Nigel’s Love Song
Say Amen
Andrew McNeil
Have I The Right
When The Night
It’s A Long Way To The Top