Writers Workshop: A Few Quick Minutes On “Fast”

For a while back in the ’90’s, the big thing in guitar playing was playing fast. Some guy supposedly could play 600 notes in a minute. Wonder what it sounded like? I mean, there are times where it’s important, but usually no.

When I was a kid, we would get pizza from this Italian restaurant named Papa Milano’s. I went with my dad to pick it up one time, and we had to wait by the bar, which was really hoppin’ because it was Friday night. I saw a sign hanging behind the bar that said, "I’m not a fast bartender, I’m not a slow bartender, I’m a half-fast bartender." I was about 8 and knew it was supposed to be funny, but I didn’t get it. I asked Dad and he said "I’ll explain it when you’re 16." He didn’t make it that far, so I had to figure it out myself.

The pre-Vatican II Church used to have days where you were supposed to fast, which in their explanation meant you could have one big meal and two meals that combined were smaller than the big meal. That meant if you had a big breakfast and a big lunch, you had to really chow down at dinner. Not quite the spirit of a fast, but you get the idea.

Did you ever fall asleep in the middle of doing something, and have a really strange dream? I just did. I dreamt that I was walking through my old neighborhood and calling out the streets like the conductors on the Rapid Transit line did. "Wayne, Wayne will be next… this is Wayne, Glenwood will be next. Change here for Arthur."

What probably brought that on was me watching ancient commercials for Anacin, which promised "Fast Pain Relief." Here’s one of them…

When we were kids, we’d go off on a tangent with those commercials and have the poor guy who just got home really lose it. The "special ingredient"? Caffeine. It was like taking an aspirin, a Tylenol, and drinking a cup of coffee.

College was always a great place (and reason) to abuse caffeine. That would keep you going at 3 AM as if it was 3 PM. I was always partial to No-Doz, while another guy was a big Vivarin man. My aunt used to take these diet pills that you’ve buy out of the backs of women’s magazines and she’d be up in the middle of the night, stripping paint off the furniture. Of course, then you’d crash and sleep for two days straight…

16 thoughts on “Writers Workshop: A Few Quick Minutes On “Fast”

  1. Ah No-Doz and Vivarin two staples for last night studying. Tried Vivarin once but that was enough for me. I think my mom took the same vitamins your aunt did. Both she and my Aunt Annie were always very figure conscious. Sort of sad how things have not really changed.

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    1. Was your mom a member of the “Metrecal for lunch bunch”? Several of my aunts were into all that weight-loss garbage. I don’t think any of them lost any weight…

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      1. She didn’t do that but there was a clinic she went to sort of like Curves pre Curves. The actual name escapes me. They had those machines with the belts on them where you’d just stand with the belt around your waist like you could shake the weight off. So silly. They also had the hot box to sit in like a personal size sauna with just your head sticking out. That one had to be dangerous.

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  2. I remember those Anacin commercials. Yeah, those old time diet pills were uppers. Kind of before my time. They eventually regulated that, so I think they’re more just diuretic in nature nowadays.

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    1. Right, the old diet pills were definitely speed. My aunt tells the story of taking Preludin and being up all night stripping furniture. And you could buy that stuff over the counter or through the mail…

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  3. My siblings and I used to recreate commercials all the time too. Man, we would have had FUN with that one! “Helen PLEASE SHUT UP!” I took my caffeine in the form of coke when I was in college (the soda, not the drug) and I don’t think it was nearly as effective as coffee would have been. It’s a shame I didn’t start my coffee habit until all of my kids were born.

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    1. Coffee has a lot more caffeine than just about any kind of carbonated drink. Energy drinks have more, I think, but they can be trouble. I drank a lot of those just before my stroke, and I think they might have brought it on. A lot of Southerners drink Coke (or RC, or Dr Pepper, or…) instead of coffee in the morning. There are those who have “RC Cola and a Moon Pie” for breakfast. I’ve tried it, and it does wake you up, but more because of the sugar than the caffeine.

      There was a whole series of Anacin commercials like that. You ought to check them out…

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  4. You were on a fast stream in this post, good one. Love the GIF. I did not know about the religious ‘fast’ you mentioned. Love the story about half-fast, but sad too about your father dying young. The dream was very interesting with calling out the names of all the streets. And what were those two special ingredients in Anacin? 😉

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    1. Regular Anacin had 400 mg of aspirin and 32 mg of caffeine per tablet; Extra Strength had 500 mg of aspirin and 32 mg of caffeine. Regular aspirin is 325 mg per tablet, so the special ingredients are a higher dose of aspirin and caffeine. We have Goody’s headache powders that are the equivalent of an aspirin, a Tylenol, and a cup of coffee. It’s a powder, so it doesn’t have to be digested; just pour it in your mouth and chase it with a glass of water. It’s not as bad as it sounds…

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      1. The Goody’s powder sounds interesting. I can’t take Aspirin because my stomach gets upset. Have to stick with Tylenol. I do like caffeine in the morning though.

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  5. I hated doing all nighters because I was never good in dishing out good essays no matter what. I love that dream you had and, yes, I have fallen asleep right here at my desk in the middle of writing! I know I was dreaming but can’t quite remember what now.

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