11/18/2010

item 1 >>> Here’s something interesting about the Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen chicken franchise. When it was founded in 1972 in a suburb of New Orleans, owner Al Copeland said it was named after Jimmy “Popeye” Doyle from the movie “The French Connection, not the Sailor-Man. But by the 1980s, the chain had licensed Popeye and used his image in advertising and even a local TV kids show. Today, on the other hand, if you search their website, you won’t find a single picture of Popeye. They apparently they don’t use him any more.  Still, King Features, which syndicates the comic strip and other products, cites the chain as an example of the Sailor-Man’s cultural influence. What’s more, it’s also been said that “Popeye” Doyle wasn’t named after the Sailer-Man either. Hmmmm, getting complicated.

item 2 >>> OK, to sort it out, “Popeye” Doyle was named after a real NYC cop, Eddie “Popeye” Egan. By the time “The French Connection” came out in 1971, Egan had taken up acting on the side, and even portrayed Doyle’s boss in the movie. So how did he get the nickname? You may read that it was because of his “keen observational skills,” but that’s sugar-coating it, to say the least. It was long stakeouts, with  eyeballs pressed into binoculars, and pep-pills to stay awake, that gave him the name “Popeye.” Some way to sell chicken. And for the record, neither the real Popeye or the cop Popeye has anything to do with Louisiana. Egan, and hence Doyle, was NYPD all the way. And the Sailor-Man was, according to his creator Elzie “E.C.” Segar, born in a typhoon off the coast of Santa Monica, CA. Segar was originally from Illinois, but always loved Santa Monica, and died there in 1938 of leukemia at age 43.

item 3 >>> I have a bone to pick with websites that purport to explain how to correctly pronounce New England place names. I’ll use Gloucester and Worcester as perfect examples. To “outsiders,” they certainly look like “Glou-ses-ter” with “ou” as in “sour”, and “Wor-ses-ter,” with “wor” as in “war.” They are of course pronounced “Glaw-ster” with “aw” as in “claw”,  and “Woo-ster” with “woo” as in “wood.” My problem is when they claim the “correct” way to say “ster” is “stah.” No it isn’t, because when a New Englander says Woostah, in his head he’s saying Wooster, it just comes out Woostah. That’s called a regional accent, and you don’t correctly pronounce a place name with an accent unless you actually speak with that accent, right? (Then again, I knew a guy from Lawrence who called it Wistah…)

item 4 >>> North Shore telephone exchanges, well Essex County to start with…Andover (GReenleaf, GReenwood), Beverly (WAlker, WAter, BEverly), Danvers & Middleton (SPring), Essex (ROger), Georgetown (FLeetwood), Hamilton (HOward), Haverhill (DRake), Ipswich (ELmwood), Lawrence & North Andover  (MUrdock), Lynn (LYnn, JAckson, BReakers), Lynnfield (EDgewood), Manchester (JAckson, LAkeside), Marblehead (NEptune), Merrimac (FIreside), Nahant (NAhant, JUno), Newburyport (HOmestead, HOtel), West Newbury (FOrest), Peabody (JEfferson), Rockport (KIngswood), Rowley (WHitney), Salem (PIoneer), Saugus, (SAugus, CEnter), and Topsfield (TUcker). Some missing? See next item…

item 5 >>> Back in the beginning, to place a call you told the operator the city and number you wanted, which typically was 1 to 4 digits, plus an additional letter if it was a party line. Eventually, as subscribers increased, it became necessary to take the operators out of the loop for local calls, and let the caller do all the work: Direct Dialing. This meant standardizing all subscriber numbers to 4 digits, and giving each central switching office an “exchange” number, designated by the first 2 letters of an exchange name. But some number combinations couldn’t be used with letters, and when more were needed, the exchange name was dropped in favor of All Digit Dialing. This started around 1958.  Now what happened if your town was converted from operator-assisted to Direct Dialing after the switch to All Digits? Then you’d be assigned a 3-digit exchange, but no exchange name, since these were being phased out. So until I find out otherwise, I’m assuming these towns never had an exchange name: Amesbury, Boxford, Gloucester, Groveland, Methuen, Newbury, Salisbury, Swampscott, and Wenham. BTW, more on this at http://travelingcyst.blogspot.com

item 6 >>> The Moscow Mule is a cocktail invented in 1941 by John Martin, whose company Heublein Brothers distributed Smirnoff vodka, and Jack Morgan, who owned the Cock ‘n’ Bull Tavern on Sunset Blvd in LA, and manufactured Cock ‘n’ Bull ginger beer. You may recall that Heublein, located in Hartford CN, brought A.1. Steak Sauce to the US.  Anyway, the story goes, the 2 were lamenting their lack of success in selling vodka and ginger beer, when they came up with the idea of mixing them together, with a dash of lime juice. Supposedly, a third party, unidentified, had a stock of copper mugs that weren’t moving, and the trio put their heads together, giving birth to the Moscow Mule. Authentic mugs from the period will have “A Cock ‘n’ Bull Product” imprinted on the bottom.

item 7 >>> The 60’s Moscow Mule revival featured print ads with Woody Allen, Julie Newmar,  Monique Van Vooren, Robert Morse of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” fame, and others. Also, of course, as seen yesterday, Killer Joe Piro and Skitch Henderson. Needless to say, this time around the Mule was also a dance invented by Killer Joe, and recorded on a tie-in LP by Skitch. Around the same time trumpeter Pete Candoli put out an LP of drink-related instrumentals, but his “Moscow Mule” was a different tune, written by saxophonist MIke Henderson. Lyle Russell Cedric “Skitch” Henderson was of course a pianist.  And also, by this time, 7-Up had replaced ginger beer in the recipe.

item 8 >>> Anybody remember “The Friendly Giant” on Channel 2? The show originated in Madison, Wisconsin in 1953, moved to Toronto and the CBC in 1958, and was carried on Public TV channels till 1970. It continued in Canada until 1985. Robert Homme was the Giant…he died in 2000 at age 81. Puppeteer Rod Coneybeare worked Rusty the Rooster and Jerome the Giraffe.

item 9 >>> Everybody says words different,” said Ivy. “Arkansas folks says ’em different, and Oklahomy folks says ’em different. And we seen a lady from Massachusetts, an’ she said ’em different of all. Couldn’t hardly make out what she was sayin’!” …from John Steinbeck’s  The Grapes of Wrath.

item 10 >>> You might be a Baby Boomer if…you know that to connive is pretty much the same as to finagle…altho perhaps conniving is a little worse than finagling, I dunno. I do know that I used to get hoodwinked and bamboozled…now I get scammed and ripped off!

Wicked Ballsy

Yeah, right. Mommy, can I wear yellow shoes? The gang’ll cheer and everything!

shameless pluggectomy…

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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