Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Open Mic: Sorry Siri

Posted By on Wed, Nov 18, 2020 at 9:00 AM

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Siri, who some call Alexa, is the robotic lady who lives in my phone. She professes to have the answer to any question. When I speak, she listens.

I talk to Siri by holding my 3x6-inch phone up near my mouth, flat and horizontal like a black, shiny graham cracker I’m about to take a bite out of, like a clown forever trapped in a comic strip frame.

I enjoy using Siri’s talk-to-text and text-to-talk functions. But, if I don’t immediately correct what Siri writes when I talk, I find myself looking at gibberish, her twisted free associations.

She might be simply perverse, or hungover, hard of hearing, or terribly drowsy. Or, maybe it’s me. Do I mumble instead of enunciating? Do I revert to my tacky New Jersey accent, while she hears with accent-free California ears?

I dictate “baroque,” but she writes “broke.” I say “dachshunds,” but she hears “dark sense.” I utter “anteater,” but she (understandably) writes “aunt eater.”

My “Dada” becomes her “daughter.” She hears “up here” as “appear,” “snafu” as “Snapple,” “feral” as “pharaoh,” “whether” as “weather” and “Titan” as “tighten” (she cannot handle homonyms), “boring” as “Boeing,” “juvenilia” as “do vanilla,” “capable” as “keep bubble,” “surfaces” as “services,” “this dream” as “the stream,” “terrain” as “to rain,” “omens” as “almonds,” “buddy” as “body” (she can be X-rated), “Judaism” as “Judy is in,” “afraid” as “frayed,” “lawyer” as “liar” (she can be snarky), “school” as “skull,” “inhale” as “in hell,” “troglodytes” as “truck with lights” (she can offer poetry prompts), “lunch” as “launch,” “laying fallow” as “lame fellow,” “Venus of Willendorf” as “Venus is a villain dwarf,” etc.

I say “frontiers,” and she writes “front tears.” Venturing into Siri’s frontiers reduces me to tears. My “poem” is her “palm,” and my “writer” is her “rider.” She has me in the palm of her hand. Writing with moody Siri is a wild ride.

Rita S. Losch, MA, MFA, is a Santa Rosa poet and writing coach who focuses on the creative process.

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