Well, at least I’m not so obsessive regarding wristwear any more, since giving up (at least for the time being) on Fitbit last month. However, aside from tapping my “normal” watch out of habit, I’ve also begun taking my mobile phone everywhere and leaving it in “normal” sound mode, rather than on vibrate or silent, all day at work… and in public too, because if everyone else everywhere in London can have their ringtones and incoming text sound effects on maximum volume (especially when coming out of the Tube tunnel at East Finchley), why can’t I?
And since getting my first smartphone back in 2012 (well, my first decent one), I’ve been setting up my own choice of comedy (or horror) sound effects, ringtones and alarm tunes. That’s right — screw the Nokia tune, the iPhone “ding!” or the Samsung whistle (which I may have not heard since that train journey in December 2013), I’ve embraced my whimsical side, and if I annoy people: good, they’ve certainly annoyed me no end!
(Don’t worry, I won’t have loud phone conversations on the train, much as I won’t manspread — even I have some decency!)
Are you ready? First, let’s look at text message noises, the most recent of which is the main reason I’ve had my phone not on silent at work lately (and not just because I hope to hear from “Polish female best friend”, though certainly to some extent). From the works of Seth McFarlane (not including The Cleveland Show because I’ve never really watched it):
- After discovering Eduard Khil’s “song” from 1970s Russian TV (which became the “trololo” meme on this newfangled Interthingy in 2009) as a direct result of Family Guy, naturally I used Peter Griffin’s neck-extending impression of the line “ba-pa-da-da-da-da-da-da-daa!” This has more recently been brought out of retirement, to signify text messages from my sensei at work.
- Similarly, thanks to “best mate” laughing at the scene, I started using another Peter Griffin line as his text message noise: after seeing (a parody of) the Patrick Swayze film Road House, he started kicking things and calmly saying: “Road House!“
Also from Family Guy (and in part inspired by “good housemate”, who had a sound effect-playing phone long before me), I use a couple of Quagmire quotes for any chicks with whom I number-close: “Giggity giggity giggity giggity!” and “All riiiight!” Just a shame they all too often signalled I was getting a let-down…
- A later quote became my main text message noise, but now has been relegated to the number that sends me an annoying code for a work-based system (which is also very slow): Robert Loggia, live-action, reacting to a bad AIDS-related joke: “NOT OKAY!“
- American Dad! has also provided a number of effects: to begin with, Stan reacting to someone discovering him doing something bad: “Ooh!” (speficially the one at 0:15). Since I couldn’t find a YouTube video of him expressing pain (because this one didn’t exist at the time), I use it for my personal trainer now.
- Roger the Alien, of course, has provided three sound effects: most important of all, having once been relegated, it’s back as my general text message noise, which back in October 2012 annoyed my friend at work a great deal: “MYAH!” (though you may remember it inadvertently causing me anxiety one day in 2013).
- And on the subject of “Polish female best friend”, for a long time it was a post-pitch-pipe singing of the word “No-o-o-o!“, but now, my most recent addition, just to get my naive hopes up… yes, American Dad! fans, it is, of course: “Maybe baby!“
(No, ignore the episodic context — I mean “baby” in the female companionship sense! Hey, a man can dream…)
My generic ringtone is a recording of the 24 CTU phone ring (of course), but I’ve set “best mate’s” ringtone to be, of all things, Peter Griffin from Family Guy chuckling along to “Axel F”; I’d love to use Roger the Alien’s ultra-annoying “Trippin’ Balls” song, but it’s hard to get sound files from YouTube at the moment (because I use an ad-blocker). I don’t yet have a special ringtone for my folks calling me from their landline, but it’s worth noting that back in the day, when I had a bleeping Nokia phone, I set theirs to “Toreador 1“, with the following one, “Trio”, as everyone else’s — though once I was able to recreate the 24 ringtone (thanks to an online guide), I used that instead!
However, there’s also a sinister side to my mobile noise whimsy: when it comes to text messages from important, life-determining people, I use sound effects from the scariest video games. For example, when my mother texts me, it’s bound to be vital I read it as soon as possible, and so I use an effect I brought over from Amnesia: The Dark Descent that’s long scared me: a “Grunt” Gatherer making a “notice the player” sound effect (the one at 1:09 in this video). Back in 2013 I used it as the general incoming-text noise (especially when I worked along in a basement paper archive, and could leave my phone out of sight around the corner — ooh, scary!), but now it’s used for a far more important reason.
(Is it just me, or does Moose the boxer sound a bit like a Gatherer?)
More recently, I’ve started using Cthulhu’s roar from the final stages of Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth, to signify my landlady texting me (especially important if it’s rent, a new housemate moving in etc.), but unfortunately I can’t find it in a YouTube video, so you’ll just have to imagine it. That game’s certainly more scary than the recent Call of Cthulhu, which has not only failed to scare me (especially the silent human patrols in the asylum basement), but shown some frustrating display issues!
And finally, alarm sounds. I’ll probably never forget the tune my original smartphone played as a morning alarm when I first got it in early 2012, when I was recovering from (what was then) the worst depression of my life; well, in order to forget it (and terrify myself into getting out of bed), and so I got hold of music from Amnesia (yes, that again), with two other tunes joining it later. Check out this section of the game: originally I used the first tune when the “water lurker” approaches you, but later the chase scene music seemed somehow more appropriate and terrifying; amazingly, I used the final “blue room” music in this sequence to wake up at the weekend, feeling nice and calm.
I’ve also used, at various times, the mad “screeching” sound effect that you hear when a Gatherer is in pursuit (can’t find it on YouTube… oh wait, here it is), and a piece of music that I mistakenly thought was used when the Shadow chases you through the tunnels near the end, when in fact it was one of the tunes from the very final scene, depending on how you choose to finish the game! I also tried the discordant song “Mors Praematura” from the spiritual sequel, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs, but since I did that in late 2014, it reminds me of a different, more realistic kind of anxiety…
(I’d love to take something from Outlast, the second-scariest “survival horror” game of all time, but it doesn’t present music or sound effects individually in easily-copyable format on my hard drive!)
I’ve also used chase music from Call of Cthulhu (the old, good one, not the new, not-so-good one), and may have to grab some more, as I need to be scared into getting up in the mornings again, instead of lying in (Chris Evans on the radio isn’t enough to keep me awake) — but oh, what if I used “A Hippo Called Hubert”, most famous for the Noseybonk sketches in the 1980s puzzle show Jigsaw, forever burned into my memory… AAAAGGGGHHHH!!!!
Boy, that oni-masked Adrian Hedley character scared me as a child — I’d rather face a Gatherer or a Deep One… or indeed, Roger the Alien as Ricky Spanish! Hmm, maybe I can grab a clip of the woman’s voice whispering his name… no, that’s too quiet to be a text message sound effect, and who’d that annoy?
See? I’m not prepared to use the boring, generic sound effects everyone else seems to use — it’s MY phone (okay, my work phone, but still), and I’ll be as weird as I damn well like!