item 1 >>> Boise State’s blue turf at Bronco Stadium? Been there, done that…I’m thinking of Blue Coal, once common in the Northeast for Winter heating. This was a trademarked brand of anthracite coal, mined by the Glen Alden Coal Co, Scranton, Pennsylvania. To distinguish it from its competitors, it was sprayed  with a blue dye before shipping. I might also mention that Kentucky bluegrass is of course colored green, like normal grass. If allowed to grow to flowering height, its seed-pods are blue…

item 2 >>> And while we’re on the color, that light shade of blue called “Cornflower” by Crayola has nothing to do with corn-on-the-cob, Corn Flakes, or Green Giant niblets. And even tho it gets its name from its tendency to grow in corn-fields, it still has nothing to do with corn. Here’s why: It is a European flower, and corn, or maize, is a New World plant. In England, all grain crops were called corn”…oats, wheat, barley…hence the corn-field flower, the cornflower. Needless to say, maize was called “corn” by European explorers simply because it was the predominant cereal grain they found here. Another name for the flower is Bachelor’s Button…a young man in love would wear one in his lapel, and if it faded, it indicated his affections were unrequited.

item 3 >>> If you’re a Rolling Stones fan who likes to fool around with an electric gee-tar, and you haven’t tried Keith Richards’ open G tuning, you might as well throw your axe in the trash-can. It’s simple to do: you only have to re-tune 3 strings…the 6th or top (lowest pitched) string tune to the 4th (it will be an octave lower, of course)….the 5th string tune to the 3rd….the 4th, 3rd, and 2nd strings stay as they are…and the 1st or bottom (highest pitched) string, tune to the 6th (it will be 2 octaves higher.)  Now strum an open chord, with no fingers on the fretboard: a G-chord! Barre (or bar) any fret, and you have a major chord. Now, with the open G chord, hammer-on 4th string 2nd fret and 2nd string 1st fret (like an A minor chord but with the 3rd string open) and voila! This pattern can be done up and down the frets, and the real challenge is to play something that doesn’t sound like the Stones! You also gain a new insight into why, after a point in time, all their songs started to sound pretty much the same, good as they are. (BTW, I’ve tried to describe this as accurately as I can…if you try it, and I’ve made a mistake, let me know & I’ll change it so fast it’ll make your head spin…)

item 4 >>> 2011 will mark the 50th Anniversary of Charlie Tuna, the Starkist character, Total breakfast cereal, and Coffee-Mate non-dairy creamer. That having been said, sometimes these start dates are kind of fuzzy…there may have been test-marketing earlier, for example. Sprite soda is a perfect example…the net gives both 1960 and 1961 as first years, yet on the US Patent and Trademark Office website, Coca Cola gives Sprite’s “first used in commerce” date as 1955. And believe it or not, many companies don’t keep very good records…

item 5 >>> I mentioned the Holten/Danvers High School’s old nickname Oniontowners…this was reflected in the name of the yearbook, the “Onion.” It was re-named “Cornelian” in 1958, to honor retiring principal Cornelius F. Dunn. In 1959, it was thought that Cornelian was “appropriate for just one year,” and instead of going back to Onion, the yearbook was called “Holten Hi-Lites.” In 1960, “Heritage” was chosen, the 4th name in 4 years, and that stuck…

Item 6 >>> Whatever happened to F.W. Woolworth’s, the five-and-dime store? Frank Winfield Woolworth opened his first store in 1879. The last store closed in 1997. Recall that old joke…This ring used to belong to a millionaire: Woolworth! And let’s not forget the soda fountain, and the infamous “Suicide Coke.” This was a soda with a squirt of every syrup the fountain offered, and good luck!

Item 7 >>> Product Quiz from the 1950s & 60s… Snootie = Sea n Ski lip balm…Praise = deodorant soap…Nucoa = margarine …Qwip = whipped cream…Tuffies of the West = children’s jeans…Kan-Kil = bug spray…Prop = electric pre-shave…and a vehicle called a Champ = Studebaker Lark truck.

Item 8 >>> Is there any greater example of the “Dumbing Down of American Culture” than the Monopoly Jr. game that’s available today? When I was a kid, we played regular Monopoly, using a set my Mom had from the 1930s. I mean, if you were old enough to count, you could play, it wasn’t that big a deal. And what really puzzles me is, kids today can work all sorts of complicated computers, phones, video games, etc., but what, they can’t change a $500 into 4 $100’s and 2 $50’s? Come on…

item 9 >>> Here’s an urban legend (what we used to call an apocryphal story) about Monopoly. Once upon a time, near the end of the game, a woman landed on Boardwalk with a Hotel, and using all her cash, came up $50 short on the rent. She pleaded to remain in the game, and said if the other players didn’t mind, she’d pay the extra $50 out of her purse. Well, jeez, OK, if you want to stay in that bad…turns out she had Monopoly money in her purse…

item 10 >>> You might be a Baby Boomer if…you remember Formosa (now Taiwan), Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso), and the Straits Settlements (now part of Malaysia, except for Singapore.) And not for nothing, but Korea used to be spelled Corea….and Cochin-China?…don’t get me started…

Wicked Ballsy

There used to be a hobby called scrapcraft, making useful things out of junk, or leftovers, or what-have-you. Well, apparently it didn’t go away completely…get busy!

shameless plugamarole…

Podcasts at http://stolfpod.podbean.com and   http://thewholething.podbean.com

Daily blogs at http://stolf.wordpress.com and  https://deepfriedhoodsiecups.wordpress.com

More bloggage at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com and  http://www.examiner.com/retro-pop-culture-in-watertown/mark-john-astolfi

Resume and audio samples at http://home.rr.com/mastolfi

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