Thursday, July 20, 2006
Who's got time for popcorn and ukeleles?
I was at emdot's last weekend during an electrical blackout and i was wondering what time it was. I would have just looked at my cell phone but couldn't find it just then.
-emdot said "Why don't you just call popcorn from the land line?"
-i said "ha. popcorn - what the hell are you talking about?"
That's when i first learned about "popcorn" time. emdot explained it to me, about how from anywhere in California one can pick up the phone and call 767-2676 (POP-CORN) and get a recording telling you "At the tone, the time will be ________ and _______ seconds........beep." For some reason I thought she was pulling my leg. But sure enough, I called and was soon listening to the robo-voice updating the time in ten second increments. Once convinced, em further revealed that one could call POP (767) followed by any four digits (POP-TART, POP-FART, POP-ARTT etc.) to reach this time service.
So, thus enthused, on my return from San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles, I tried it out this a.m. But instead of the time I heard a different recording, something to the tune of "The number you have reached is not in service, please check..." I tried again to make sure and still no luck. hmmm.
Emdot had been pretty sure that "popcorn" worked for all of California. A quick google brought me over to a nice little history of the "speaking clock" over on wikipedia (link), that let me know, among other things, that while the 767 prefix works just fine for Northern California, Southern California has its own prefix, 853. I immediately looked to see what these numbers spelled out on my phone's keypad. ULFCORN didn't do much for me, nor did VJDCORN. I finally settled on UKELELE (853-5353). I know, the more popular spelling is ukUlele, but calling UKULELE will probably get unfortunate soul out of bed depending on when the call is made.
There is more info over on wikipedia about the "speaking clock" in general, such as how it has been operating in Sweden since October of 1936 (HEJ-SVEN?) and that in England comedian Lenny Henry's was the speaking clock's voice as part of a fundraising effort in 2003.
I'm trying to thing about whos voice i'd like to hear next time I call. Right now Danny Devito, Truman Capote, Darth Vadar and Charro all come to mind.