On Anniversaries and Phoning It In

I realized this week that I missed my anniversary a couple of weeks ago.  Not my wedding anniversary, mind you.  I’ve been divorced for a couple of years now (Actually, my divorce anniversary passed in the last couple of weeks as well), which has rendered that December day a day that I don’t really think about, to be honest.  I completely forgot about it last year until a day or so later.

And that’s not the topic of this post.  Let’s refocus, shall we?

Just over two years ago, on August 11, 2013, my first post went up on Vampirenomad.com, a lament about the state of vampires in popular fiction.  Since then, I’ve written something every week.  That’s over 100 posts now, and the Pick of the Week column that we started last March probably puts me close to 175. 

I’m not going to rehash it all or do some kind of retrospective.  Most of what I wrote was ramblings about whatever was happening in the entertainment world that grabbed my attention that particular week while Corinne and Nathan provided more creative content. 

Instead, I want to thank our beloved site mistress, the Vampire Nomad herself, Corinne, for inviting me to join the site and giving me this forum to express myself.  I haven’t been doing nearly as much fiction writing of late, but this site has given me the discipline to keep writing something, week after week, even if it’s just a discussion of the various shoes Tom Cruise has worn in the Mission: Impossible films (I never wrote that.  I will never write that.  You have my word.).

In any case, Happy Site Anniversary to Me!

Which brings us to the second part of the title.  To celebrate my anniversary, I considered taking a week off.  That seemed like an odd way to go though.  In recognition of making over 100 posts, I’m not going to post! 

Nah!  I will post something.  But instead of taxing myself, I’m going to take a break and just phone it in.

Phone it in? 

Does that even mean anything anymore?  I mean, I’m typing on a computer and posting this via a broadband Internet connection.   You could be reading this on a smart phone (Or via dial-up…shudder), but otherwise that technology doesn’t even enter into it.  “Phone it in” is just one of those things we say even though the original meaning has practically been lost.  It’s a relic, like the 3.5” floppy disk icon we use for the “Save” functionor saying that you’re going to “tape a show.” 

How did “phoning it in” even get started in the first place?

To the Internet!  (Well, I was already on the Internet, but you get the idea).

According to the Visual Thesaurus, the comment started as a joke in the theater community about stage roles so small that an actor could actually perform it from home via the telephone – literally phoning it in.  In 1938, the author of a column in the Detroit News about the play Our Town, a play with no scenery, stated that “the next step is to have actors phone it in.”

The same write made a similar joke seven years later after Franklin D. Roosevelt’s fourth inauguration saying, “As far as we know, there is nothing in any rumor that in case of a fifth inauguration, F.D.R. will phone it in.”

By the 1950’s, the phrase had morphed from simply meaning being able to do your part without actually being there to our modern use of it as a phrase for not really trying very hard.  The Visual Thesaurus article notes interviews with a couple of different actors who use the phrase in this way.  Edmond O’Brien, for example, was quoted by the Los Angeles Times in 1960 as saying, “There’s a great danger of just playing yourself when you’ve been at this trade a while…of just phoning it in.”

Interestingly, a similar phrase, mailing it in, is used more often in sports. 

Ok then.  Instead of just phoning it in this week, I hopefully taught you something about “phoning it in” that you didn’t already know.  My work here is done…

…for this week anyway. 

See you next Sunday!

- Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter