Thursday, July 20, 2006

Who's got time for popcorn and ukeleles?

They are all different
Originally uploaded by Rune T.
Not a question that comes up too often, but lately I've found 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.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Syd Barrett - R.I.P.

Originally uploaded by Bollops.
Was sad to read the news today that Syd Barrett had passed away a few days ago. If you don't know who he was, maybe you've heard of Pink Floyd, the band he co-founded in 1965. Most people know who Pink Floyd are, but not so many have ever listened to their debut album, that fantastic masterpiece of psychedelia, The Piper at The Gates of Dawn.

My friend John Dragonetti first turned me on to this record sometime back in the early 1980s, and it was amazingly fun to listen to back then. And it still is, even though I don't tend to partake of the psychedelic substances so much these days. There is an enduring sense of joyful anarchy in Barrett's lyrics and songs that has stood the test of time. Songs like "Apples and Oranges" and "Bike" will always be up there near the top of my list.

There are obits all over the web right now, but there is a lot of good info on Syd over here at Wikipedia.

Syd eventually withdrew from the band due to mental problems, most likely brought about from his use of psychedelic drugs. I found it ironic that on the same day his death was announced, the Los Angeles Times is running this story on the potential for psilocybin (from hallucinogenic mushrooms) to be used to help addicts and people with terminal cancer attain feelings of spiritual transcendence. I have no doubts that this is possible, but as demonstrated by Syd, too much of a good thing might not be so good. The story mentions that subjects in the trial who took psilocybin were only given a one time dose, and many reported that the experience was "among the five most profound events in their lives, rivaling the birth of a child." I'd be interested to see studies on the different experiences of medicinal psilocybin users vs recreational psilocybin users.

The Times article concludes on a funny/scary note:

"David E. Nichols, a Purdue University chemist who synthesized psilocybin for use in the study, said the effects of psilocybin could vary greatly, depending on the mood of the user, and could be dangerous.

"If you take psilocybin and go watch 'Friday the 13th,' I can guarantee you won't have a mystical experience," he said."