Jukebox #atozchallenge

I haven’t seen as many jukeboxes as I used to. I guess everyone brings their own music with them on their phones or listens to whatever music happens to be playing over the intercom system. You used to see them all the time, primarily in bars and restaurants, but really anywhere people wanted to sit around and listen to music. I remember there was one at a laundromat we used to go to when we were on vacation.

Image by Clker-Free-Vector-Images from Pixabay

The idea is simple: you drop in some money, choose the songs you want to hear, and one by one, the jukebox locates the record, sets it on the turntable, and plays it. When that’s done, it puts that record back, gets the next record and plays it. Some restaurants had a controller at each table, where people wouldn’t have to get up and walk to the machine to pick their records; they could choose them right where they were.

When I was living in the dorm at Loyola, the food service folks brought in a jukebox so we could listen to music while we ate. After a while, a group of students would play Rose Royce’s “Car Wash” over and over and over at dinnertime. They would arrive at the cafeteria early, load the jukebox with quarters, and request that song repeatedly. It got to where people were avoiding the cafeteria at dinnertime, because, while they might have liked the song, they were tired of listening to it all the time while they were eating.

Legend has it (I was in class three nights a week at the downtown campus and missed it) that the jukebox was taken out when one guy snapped and cut the electrical cord with a pair of hedge clippers….

Hedge clippers (source: Amazon

From 1977 (or maybe 1976), Rose Royce, “Car Wash.”

Japanned #atozchallenge


Japanned tea tray, Birmingham History Galleries. By Elliott Brown from Birmingham, United Kingdom (CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)), via Wikimedia Commons

When I was a kid, I used to like to read the phone book. Not much of a plot, but a hell of a cast…

No, seriously, I used to flip through the Yellow Pages when I was younger. It was kind of fun, seeing all the different businesses and all the different categories. Until I was in high school, the Yellow Pages included both businesses that a consumer would be interested in (e.g. department stores, plumbers) and businesses that dealt mostly with other businesses, like tool and die makers and janitorial supplies. It was educational, because occasionally I’d run across a category that I had no idea even existed.

Such was the case when I found half a column dedicated to businesses that did “Japanning.” I knew what “Japan” was, and as far as I knew it wasn’t a verb, but here it was, looking like something several companies in the Chicago area did. Of course, I had to investigate. I had a general idea, and when I had a free moment at school I ran to the library and looked it up in our Funk & Wagnall’s (okay, it was the World Book, I just wanted to use an old line from Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In), and learned that it was lacquering.

Turning to Wikipedia (more recently), I learned that Japanning was a process that started in Europe during the 17th Century in Italy. It was an imitation of the process developed in Japan of coating furniture and iron items with a heavy lacquer, almost like enamel paint, for decorative purposes and for preventing the items from rusting. When Europeans started getting japanned items from Japan, China and India, it created quite a rush on the items, thus leading to Italy getting into the Japanning business. Soon it spread to England, France and the Low Countries. The European technique was to coat things with layers of shellac that were heat dried, then polishing them to a high gloss.

Japanning was big business in Europe until the 1800’s, when electroplating items to keep them from rusting became the norm. The technique of applying layers of shellac was central to the development of the art of decoupage, decorating objects with colored-paper cutouts. Japanning was still done to protect metal objects such as hand tools, sewing machines, bicycles, and cookware.

Back to the phone book. In the mid-Seventies the publishers of the Yellow Pages in Chicago announced that the one big book would be split in two, one containing business-to-consumer (B2C) and the other business-to-business (B2B). It reduced the size of the directory considerably, but I missed having all the B2B entries. It was like the Sunday paper: you’re not going to read the whole thing, but it’s nice to know it’s all there. The first time I went looking for a new job, I stopped by an Illinois Bell office and got the B2B directory and sent resumes to a number of companies I found there, one of which hired me.

Janek #atozchallenge


Richard Crenna was a fine actor who rose to television prominence in The Real McCoys, playing Luke, the son of Amos McCoy, played by the estimable Walter Brennan. Later, he starred in Slattery’s People, and from then on he was a familiar face on TV and in movies (he played Colonel Trautman in the first three “Rambo” movies).

In the late 1980’s and 1990’s, he starred in seven TV movies as Lieutenant Frank Janek of the NYPD. One of those movies was 1994’s The Forget-Me-Not Murders, co-starring Tyne Daly as Dr. Archer, who is convincing her patients to commit murders on her behalf, including trying to kill Janek’s daughter. Dr. Archer has what might be called an unhealthy obsession with a painting of her mother, done by her erstwhile father.

It was actually a pretty good movie, as TV movies go. Here is the entire movie, courtesy of YouTube user Retro Movies Central. If you have an hour and a half, it’s worth watching.

Had you already seen the movie, or did you watch? What did you think?

Two (Plus Three) For Tuesday: John McLaughlin #atozchallenge



A lot of these Two for Tuesdays feature my admission that I didn’t like the artist nor his or her body of work when I first heard it, but that as time has gone by I find the music has gotten better, or I understand it better, or my taste has changed, and sometimes it’s a whole lot better than what’s playing on the radio. This is one of those cases.

John McLaughlin is, according to Jeff Beck, “the greatest guitarist alive.” When I first heard the Mahavishnu Orchestra in the early Seventies, I wondered what people saw in the music, which to my untrained ear sounded more like noise than anything. It surprised me, then, when he made an appearance on James Taylor’s One Man Dog album, backing Taylor on what might be the most beautiful cut on that album, “Someone” (which he also wrote). The more I heard him, the better I liked him, and while his work with Mahavishnu was still a little inaccessible, I thought his playing was superb.

I’ve chosen five tunes from different periods in his career to showcase his prowess as a guitar player.

You Know You Know – With the Mahavishnu Orchestra (Jerry Goodman, violin; Jan Hammer, keyboards; Billy Cobham, drums; Rick Laird, bass)

Someone – With James Taylor

Flame Sky 1 – With Carlos Santana (live from a 1973 concert)

Django – With Jeff Beck (a jazz standard)

Mediterranean Sun Dance – With Al DiMeola and Paco De Lucia

John McLaughlin, your Two (plus three!) for Tuesday, April 12, 2016.

#atozchallenge: Jackalope

jackalope =
jackrabbit + antelope


Jackalope (source: SedesGhobani/Wikipedia, Public Domain)

The jackalope: half jackrabbit, half antelope. Or so the story goes. Created in the 1930’s by Douglas Herrick and his brother, taxidermists and hunters, from a jackrabbit’s body and a deer’s antlers, they sold the first one to a hotel in Douglas, Wyoming. The Herrick Brothers are gone now, but other taxidermists still make them, and you see them all over in bars and restaurants. The Wyoming Legislature once had a resolution naming the jackalope the state’s official mythical creature. It’s related to the Bavarian Wolpertinger, which has wings as well and is said to inhabit the forests there.

There’s considerable folklore associated with the jackalope. In Central America, fo example, the story goes that a deer mated with a jackalope and that’s where the deer got its horns from.

Have you heard of other mythical animals that are improbable combinations of other animals? I know in the Uncle Wiggily series, there’s the Pipsisewah, who has a rhinoceros’s head with a giraffe’s body and a lion’s tale, and the Chinese Shen Lung is a dragon with a camel’s head, rabbit’s eyes, stag’s horns, bull’s ears, tiger paws and eagle claws. What else?