Alexander Film Works

Vaccinated With A Gramophone Needle…

In Just Because... on September 2, 2012 at 8:44 pm

I don’t really understand why it is that certain obsolete phrases stick with me in the back of my mind, somewhere, only to spring forth and totally confuse someone who is both younger than me and less knowledgeable of particular arcane bits of information that only an obsessive, savant-like, isolated geek/nerd would know… like the title of this installment, for example.

It was used, back in the day, to designate someone who was a virtually nonstop talker, much like a Gramophone record.  (Gramophone, like Victrola, was the trademarked brand name of one particular type of record player.)  As Gramophones faded into obscurity, the phrase became “vaccinated with a phonograph needle”.

This is still obscure to anyone born after 1980, since CD players don’t have needles… and digital music players don’t either.

One of the first phonographs I owned had four speeds on it:  78 rpm, 45 rpm, 33 1/3 rpm, and 16 rpm; 16 was used primarily for audiobooks for blind and disabled people, as I recall.

Be that as it may, obscure and arcane sayings spring forth from my brain like Athena from the brow of Zeus (an arcane bit of mythology).  Some more examples:

  • Squeezing a nickel till the buffalo hollers
  • Alternatively, squeezing a nickel till the Indian hollers
  • Busy as a one-armed paperhanger
  • As nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs

The “Indian Head” nickel coin debuted in 1913, and was phased out in 1938, when it was replacecd by the Jefferson nickel, with the portrait of Jefferson on the face and of Monticello, his home, on the reverse.  “Squeezing the nickel”  was a rough equivalent of “pinching a penny”, connoting thrift/cheapness/miserliness.

A “one-armed paperhanger” was an interesting concept… It was difficult, at best, to properly hang wallpaper with two good arms, so the thought of someone doing it with one arm was something that boggled the mind.

The cat quote is better understood if you know, or remember, or discover that rocking chairs used to have long wooden rockers that extended in front of and behind the chair, affording a wonderful opportunity to have one of these rockers go over something behind it with little or no opportunity to stop.

This also ties into someone being “off their rocker”, but that’s something I’ll leave to another time.

Aloha!  (A very useful Hawaiian word, meaning both “hello” and “goodbye”.)

Al B.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: