Payphone #atozchallenge

payphone

Here’s something you never see any more. In fact, some readers might not have ever seen one.

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For those of you who haven’t seen one, this is a telephone booth. In the days before cellphones, if you were out somewhere and needed to call someone, you found one of these and made your call. When I was a kid, you had to put a dime or two nickels into the phone to make a local call. To make a toll call, which was a call outside the city or the towns immediately outside it, how much you paid depended on where you were calling and how long you talked. You had to put money into the phone before you even got a dial tone, then you could touch the number buttons for the person you were calling, if it was a Touch-Tone™ phone; otherwise you had to dial the number.

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Sometimes, instead of being in a booth, the payphone was attached to a post, or hanging on a wall, inside or outside. It worked the same way regardless.

The rule was, when you were out, you had to have a dime to call home, in case you got stuck somewhere and needed to let your parents know where you were, or to call a tow truck to come get your car which had died on the highway. Frank Sinatra always insisted that his kids do that. When he died, they put a roll of dimes in his pocket, remembering what he had told them.

Even before cellphones were everywhere, they started removing payphones. They’d often be destroyed by someone trying to get in and take the money, or destroyed by someone who liked destroying things. In some neighborhoods, they were being used by drug dealers or gang leaders as their “office phone.” After a while, the phone companies got tired of replacing damaged equipment and just removed the phone, or the police would ask them to take the phone away so it couldn’t be used for illegal purposes. The first trip I made out of town after Mom died, I didn’t have a cellphone, and I drove around for almost an hour looking for a phone to call them on. You can bet the first thing I did when I got home was to get one.

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PDQ #atozchallenge

All right, so I admit it: occasionally my theme stumped me. Those are times when you have to use two words, abbreviations, or proper names to get it to work. And here is one of those cases.

PDQ

PDQ (pronounced “pee dee cue”) is an abbreviation for “pretty damn quick” or “pretty darn quick,” depending on your attitude toward mild profanity. You see it used a lot in company names, such as PDQ Printing, that did offset printing pretty damn quick. (Remember offset printing? There used to be a lot of places that did it, until Adobe Acrobat and laser/inkjet printers got cheap. Great for big jobs, though.)

PDQ was also the name of a drink mix made by your friends at Ovaltine.


An ad for PDQ drink mix, which was running a promotion with Mattel that promised an entire fleet of Hot Wheels cars and trucks for $1 plus the inner lining of a jar of PDQ. Ran in newspapers March 12, 1972 (source: eBay)

PDQ was like Ovaltine in that it came in chocolate crystals, but unlike Ovaltine didn’t have malt or egg in it and actually tasted good. Plus, PDQ came in strawberry and egg nog flavors. You could stir it into milk or sprinkle it on ice cream. It was popular during the Sixties and Seventies, then faded from view.

PDQ was the sponsor of a syndicated game show called, of all things, PDQ, with Dennis James as the host. Here is the pilot episode, if you have thirty minutes to spare.

For those of you who like their classical music mixed with a little humor, PDQ is the last, and certainly least, son of Johann Sebastian Bach.


PDQ Bach. Source: Stanton Music

PDQ Bach is the creation of composer, music educator, and parodist Peter Schickele, who often add the honorarium “Professor” to his name. He has recorded numerous albums of music he claims to have been written by PDQ. Here is the “Pervertimento for Bagpipes, Bicycle, and Balloons,” S. 66.

Questions: Are you an Ovaltine fan? Ever had PDQ? Like game shows? What did you think of PDQ Bach?

Let’s Pretend #socs #JusJoJan

Pretend you’re in a different world. Writers do that, don’t they? A world that doesn’t exist outside of their minds, which they document for others to see. If the reader is lucky and the writer has done his/her job, the reader can spend an afternoon walking around in the writer’s head.

One of the reasons I have given up on writing fiction is that I could never get the world I create out of my head and onto the page. Maybe because I am so familiar with the world in my head I feel the need to explain and overdescribe what’s there. And maybe, just maybe, I like the idea of having my own world, and would prefer not to share it.

I’ve noticed since my stroke that my dreams are more vivid and make less sense, and it’s a lot of fun. It’s been kind of quiet lately, but I’ve had a few interesting rides on the “L” (the Chicago Transit Authority’s Rapid Transit lines) that have taken me to hotels that are stores that are malls that are office buildings that are Lewis Towers and St. Ignatius High School, and sometimes I walk into a room and I find myself in a hall at New Trier West High School, or maybe a boiler room or a cafeteria line or the kitchen at a restaurant, and I’ll walk into a restroom and be in someone’s office…

You get the idea: I’m nuts. Cracked. Psycho.


socs-jjj

The theme for Stream of Consciousness Saturday and today’s Just Jot It January was the letter P. I get extra points, even though the letter “p” is silent in “psycho,” because the first word and last word both started with P.

Two (+3) for Tuesday: The Alan Parsons Project #atozchallenge

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ProgRock

Kind of like Steely Dan, which is Donald Fagen and Walter Becker accompanied by session musicians, The Alan Parsons Project was Alan Parsons (keyboards, acoustic guitar, vocals, and a host of other instruments) and Eric Woolfson (keyboards, vocals, and composition) accompanied by session players, which usually included Ian Bairnson (guitar), David Paton (bass and vocals), and Lenny Zakatek (drums). They were active from 1975 through 1990. Parsons had been assistant engineer for The Beatles’ Abbey Road and Let It Be albums and had just engineered The Dark Side of The Moon for Pink Floyd when he met Woolfson, a session pianist, at Abbey Road Studios in 1974. They produced ten studio albums (an eleventh, The Sicilian Defence, wasn’t released until 2014, as part of a box set).

I was surprised that I recognized so much of their music. I think I mentioned before that radio stations weren’t always good at mentioning the song and artist during the Seventies and Eighties, especially when the song was tucked into a long set. Did you find that to be true?

Games People Play – From the band’s 1980 album The Turn of a Friendly Card, this reached #9 on the Canadian chart and #16 on the US chart that year.

Sirius/Eye in the Sky – The title track from their 1982 album, this reached #1 in Canada and #3 in the US that year.

Old and Wise – Also from Eye In The Sky, this reached #21 on the US Adult Contemporary chart.

Time – Again from The Turn of a Friendly Card, this reached #30 in Canada and #15 in the US in 1981.

I Wouldn’t Want To Be Like You – From their 1977 album I Robot, this rose to #22 in Canada and #36 in the US that year. Look, an old Univac computer!

The Project has a website and a Facebook page, and Woolfson has his own website to showcase his POE: More Tales of Mystery and Magic album.

The Alan Parsons Project, your Two (plus three) For Tuesday (and “P” entry of the A to Z Challenge), April 19, 2016.

#atozchallenge: Pulsar

pulsar =
pulsating radio + star

 

First thing I thought of when I saw the whole thing spelled out was “Video killed the radio star”…

But seriously…

A pulsar is a rapidly-spinning neutron star (the core of a collapsed star) that beams electromagnetic radiation out along its magnetic axis. They appear to pulsate because the beam is directional and only visible when it flashes by, kind of like a lighthouse. This video from The History Channel goes into much more detail.

The Pulsar is also an auto model by Nissan.

Which do you think of when you hear “pulsar,” the star or the car?

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