Saturday, September 21, 2013

One Ringy Dingy

RHYS BOWEN: As you know, most of the Jungle Reds are at Bouchercon mystery convention this week. We had our Jungle Red game show today so I'll give you all the details in tomorrow's post. But for now I'm musing about cell phone ring tones.

Recently I became the last person in the civilized world to get an iPhone and one of my challenges in getting it set up was choosing the ring tone. I didn’t really like any of the ring tones that came with the phone so I went searching on iTunes for  music that would mean something special to me.


It turns out there are about three zillion ring tones. I am a lover of classical music so naturally I started there. Some were just too peaceful and quiet to be effective, so I opted for the opening of Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro.  The first time my phone rang I sat at my desk thinking “Oh, that’s nice music someone’s playing.”  By the time it finally dawned on me that it was my phone ringing, the caller had hung up.


So I started browsing in other categories. I’m a Monty Python fan. How about the theme? That was loud and jolly. But then I decided I’d feel a bit silly if my phone rang in the middle of a serious interview. So I likewise rejected a ring tone saying “We are the knights who say Ni! And we demand a phone call..”


I am also a Star Wars fan and I toyed with Darth Vader telling me my phone was ringing. Then I moved on to the Lord of the Rings. How about Gollum saying “Our phone is ringing, my Precious. We wants to answer it. We needs to answer it… now!”


No, I’d get funny looks if I was sitting in an airport with that voice coming out of my purse.

So I’m no nearer to finding the ring tone that is really ME. My daughter who is a former All-American and now owns a swim center and coaches a swim team has the Olympic Theme for her phone. My other daughter (the music composer) has special songs for her husband and each of her children. But me? I’ve gone back to the sound of an old phone ringing. At least I recognize it for what it is. Any suggestions for something better?


And what ring tones do you have? Have you searched out ones that are meaningful to you?


  1. Oh, I am so not a phone person, but choosing ring tones is almost fun. Almost.
    Once upon a time I had a ring tone of Julie London singing “Cry Me A River.” Assuming the phone was actually turned on, I always heard it and I always answered it. It was perfect and I really liked it.
    But then came this “upgrade your phone” thing and now I have a different phone and something called “moonlight reminiscences” for a ring tone. Pretty, but most of the time it doesn’t register, and well . . . .
    If I was smart about this “smart phone” stuff, I’d be able to figure out how to get the Julie London ring tone on the new phone . . . .

  2. I have the Beatles' Paperback Writer. It's probably a curse, and I'll go to hell for it. But I think it's funny.

  3. Really though, most of the time I leave it set to Do Not Disturb. The political calls are coming in already, and I'm tired of having supper interrupted.

  4. Rhys, I'm the last person without a smart phone/iPhone because with my dismal cell phone "service" I have to actually buy the phone at regular price. Staying at home with my kids is rewarding (most of the time...), but not especially lucrative.

    So my cheapo phone has about six ringtones and I picked one that sounds kind of bubbly (which I don't always recognize in time, either. "What is that noise...?"). On my imaginary iPhone, my ringtones are very clever and sophisticated...and probably Muppet-related.

  5. I have not yet succumbed to the smart phone mania. All I want is a phone. Just a plain old phone for answering calls. I never knew I was Luddite before this!

  6. My phone has a sort of anonymous tune, but I also downloaded an app called Call Announcer. CA tells me who is calling, as long as it's someone in my contact list: "ICE One Steve calling".

    I love that.

  7. You all know what ICE is, right? In Case of Emergency, with numbers assigned to each one. It allows emergency personnel to contact your loved ones, in the event you are unable to do so yourself. Every phone has the ability to include these ICE numbers.

    My oldest daughter was an ER nurse for six years, and she highly recommends everyone have at least two ICE numbers on your phone.

    (Steve is my husband, so of course he's "ICE One")

  8. No smart phone here, just a plain old early generation cell phone. No choices available for ring tones. I turn it on only to use it.

    A couple of years ago at work I was in the hallway, talking to a visitor to the building, when I began to hear birds chirping. I thought a bird might have become stranded inside the building. It was the woman's ring tone on her cell phone!

  9. Right now I have some calypso music that isn't too bad. Once upon a time though I had a phone where I had downloaded Elvis singing ooh,ooh,ooh, I feel my temperature rising, etc. Never thought about it until my phone went off in the elevator at the Mayo Clinic. Everyone grinned.

  10. My phone chirps -- cricket sounds. I love it and often forget that it's my phone ... also very unobtrusive so when it goes off and I should have turned off the phone, most people don't even "hear" it.

    Guess it goes to show that I'm not that into music.

  11. I must say Gollum is a great choice!
    I had a jungle melody on my last phone. It started with a roar (which actually sounded somewhat like a burp, albeit, by a lion) and then went into a jungle-y tune. It usually garnered smiles and the "roar" got my attention.

  12. I don't know what my ring tone is called, but about 50% of the world's iphone owners have it so we all reach for our phones together:).

    Don't you have to pay extra for a special ringtone? Paying for the phone and the service is bad enough...

    I think I've told Hallie when her crickets are chirping:)

  13. Steve's ringtone was the sound of klaxon horn—just as loud as the real thing—until the day it went off in someone's office. Everyone, including his deaf self, ran to the window to see what the emergency was. I stayed put. He came back and said he didn't know what it was. I told him it was his ringtone. He replaced it with—

    Oranges and lemons,
    Say the bells of St. Clement's.

    You owe me five farthings,
    Say the bells of St. Martin's.

    When will you pay me?
    Say the bells of Old Bailey.

    When I grow rich,
    Say the bells of Shoreditch.

    When will that be?
    Say the bells of Stepney.

    I do not know,
    Says the great bell of Bow.

    Here comes a candle to light you to bed,
    Here comes a chopper to chop off your head.

    Chop chop chop chop
    The last man's dead!

    [They never taught us that last bit for the Latin School Christmas Sing.]

    Then he made an appointment with the audiologist.

  14. I have a $5 cell phone with a 6 year old "plan" from Virgin Mobile, so I pay $120 a year for my cell phone use. I'm cheap. I couldn't tell you my ring tone because no one calls me (and that's how I like it). However, my cousin assigns songs to different people on her smartphone. Her mother's ringtone - at her mother's suggestion - is Elton John's The Bitch is Back.

  15. Classics for me all the way. For my family, Purcell's Trumpet Voluntary, for friends, A Little Night Music. All others, business contacts and unknowns, default to a Bach toccata, which reminds me to answer more formally.

    And yes, Karen, I have ICE. The only time I've needed it was when I dropped my phone and a neighbor picked it up and used ICE to let my daughter know.

  16. Ninety-nine percent of the calls on my iPhone produce the Piano Riff ringtone. A select few folks have their own tones; my husband's is Sci-Fi, my 18 year-old great-niece gets the Duck, my nephew the Motorcycle.

    For the record, I used to be a confirmed Luddite, wanting nothing to do with phones that had cameras and games. How ridiculous, I thought, I just want a phone that makes and receives calls, nothing more. This is known as contempt prior to investigation. It's all the more embarrassing because my husband works for Apple. He'll be retiring in a few weeks after almost 34 years, having achieved the rank of Distinguished Engineer.

    My turning point came one Sunday several years ago when we were returning from an out of town wedding and couldn't get radio reception for the 49ers game. I was freaking out when Ron handed his iPhone to me and said, "Here, you can get the score on this." I was astounded. And sold.

    My phone is an amazing tool, allowing me to organize and simplify my life, stay in touch with family and friends in ways that work for us, and saving me significant time with its many different apps and features. I hear many folks complain that they feel at the mercy of their phones, tied to them, unable to disconnect. I've never had that problem. I'm the boss of my phone, not the other way around, and as a result it works very well for me. 20

  17. No, you're not the last person in the civilized world to get an iPhone. I'm sure lots of people including the poor or older folks who aren't technologically savvy don't own smart phones. I don't own a smart phone and never will. I can't afford one and don't need one. I never talk on the phone. A landline is good enough for me. My parents don't have smart phones either, although my mother has one of the prepaid phones where you buy a card in the store and then add the time to it. I don't know why she has one because she hardly ever uses it and it's just a waste of money (she's low income, on Social Security). My dad would have no idea how to use a cellular phone. He can barely use his cable remote. He has memory problems.

    I wouldn't buy a smart phone even if I won the lottery. I could use a tablet, though. I don't need phone service, just books, music, & movies.