December 22nd @ Free Times Café

Technology gets blamed for a lot of things these days and it’s not always fair. We can’t put all of our failings at the door of Apple and Google and Facebook, much as we’d like to. Still, that doesn’t take Big Tech off the hook completely. For example, I think we can all agree that technology is at least partially to blame for a decline in the level of politeness in today’s society.

You might think that this is a reach, but you’re wrong – just like you’re wrong about everything else, you dummy!!! Sorry about that – not sure where that came from. What was I talking about? Oh yeah, the lack of politeness in today’s society and why technology is to blame.

Think about how we ask our artificially intelligent voice activated devices to help us out. In order to get their attention we have to say “Hey Siri” or “OK Google” or just “Alexa” – that’s all a bit abrupt and pretty informal. But we don’t really have a choice.

If you want to know what song has the lyrics “cat’s foot, iron claw, neuro-surgeons scream for more” you can’t go “Excuse me Siri, I don’t want to bother you but I’m curious about some lyrics that I can’t seem to get out my head.” Siri can’t help you unless you start your sentence with “Hey Siri.” You may feel that you don’t really know Siri well enough to start a conversation with a causal “Hey” but too bad, that’s the only way she’ll talk to you.

And once you get their attention you have to get right to the point. There is no room for small talk. You can’t start by idly commenting on the weather before asking what you really want to know, which is who won the Oscar for best song in 2003, because Alexa will annoyingly interrupt you tell you what the weather is when all you are looking for is a polite “yeah, that snow is a drag isn’t it” before getting to the real question.

And as for Google, much as you would like to start the conversation with “Would it be OK if you stopped listening in to everything I said and then cluttering up my inbox with offers for restaurants after I asked someone else, not you, what do you want for dinner” and then asked for a recipe that used artichokes, quinoa, and tuna – that won’t work because Google’s attention span is way too short.

Is it any wonder then that this informality, this abruptness, this immediately direct questioning has seeped from our digital interactions to our dealings with real people. No. it isn’t.

At this point in this missive you are probably doing two things. First you are nodding your head and quietly admiring the insights and wisdom conveyed so far and maybe even thinking “That Jonathan brings such a welcome perspective to the burning issues of today – I guess I’m pretty lucky to be reading this” (hey, a guy can dream can’t he?) and second, “When is he going to get around to Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room.” And to the second point – I am going to do that right now.

On December 22 (the fourth Sunday in December) Gordon’s Acoustic Living Room will be holding our annual, and much beloved, all-request show. Yes, it’s back again as it is every December – because we need holiday traditions we can rely on.

And just as not everyone can be home for holidays, not everyone will be able to be at the Free Times Café (on College just west of Spadina) at 8 pm for the show, but even if you can’t make it, you can still be part of the show by voting for the tunes you would like us to play. It’s easy – just click on this link and you will be magically transported to our site where you can pick from over 350 songs – and that is not a typo, there are over 350 songs on the site.

So please, peruse the site and vote. And for those of you who do attend, in honour of the holidays there will be no cover.

Hope to see you there.


PS. You know what else is abrupt, direct and just all in your face – of course you do – bagpipes.

December 22nd Set List:
Set #1: Set #2:
Christmas Pipe Tunes
I Believe In Father Christmas
Wagon Wheel
What Was I Thinking
People Are Crazy
Dream A Little Dream Of Me
A Prayer
Famous Blue Raincoat
Unchained Melody
Breathe In, Breathe Out
Buffalo Plaid
First We Take Manhattan
Come Together
Glenora Ferry
Fairy Tale Of New York
Christmas Island
Across The Border
Tracks Of My Tears
500 Miles
Stand By Me
Wichita Lineman
I Can See Clearly Now
Galway Girl
Pussy Willows Cat Tails
Saskatchewan Sky
Bang Bang
When The Night Hears My Song