N is for Nicknames

One of the great things my father did was to name me Roger, which does not engender a lot of nicknames. He also did not name me after himself, also good. That might have gotten m called Junior, or Bud (like on the TV show Father Knows Best).

I was thinking about this because Rob Hoffman wrote about nicknames, and specifically about how certain names are more prone to variations.

“Elizabeth – (Betty, Beth, Liz, Lizzie, Betts, Bette) This name provides a lot of flexibility. Elizabeth is royal, while Betty is a fun neighbor with a silly laugh. Liz is a ‘good-time,’ but Lizzie is downright dangerous.)” Which is why, when naming our daughter, Elizabeth was totally off the table, despite being the name of the only British monarch in my lifetime AND my late mother’s middle name.

Mom, BTW, was named Gertrude, after her mother. She was usually called Gertie by her cousins, which she disliked less than her formal name, but not much. As an adult, though, she became Trudy and THAT suited her.

My father was named Leslie, but he always was Les =in my reckoning. Les is also the shortened form of Lester, though, and some people, in an attempt to be formal, referred to him with that moniker. You could see him bristle.

Roger doesn’t really lend itself to shortening, other than Rog, and I like that. There have been attempts to give me nicknames, and I always fought them off. When I was a janitor at Binghamton (NY) City Hall in the spring and summer of 1975, one of the other custodians tried to dub me “Flash”, because I got my core work done in six hours, and then would do the extra stuff, such as buffing the floor, and still have time to talk to the police captain, or read, or clean the doors yet another time – glass doors always have fingerprints.

He and his colleague took as long as they could, never did work beyond what was required, and sometimes not even that. So they called me Flash, I acted as though I didn’t hear them. Eventually, they gave up.

For ABC Wednesday

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M is for Lisa Murkowski

There were three Republican Senators who voted against the so-called ““skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act, a/k/a Obamacare in July 2017. One was John McCain of Arizona, who made a dramatic return to DC that week after a diagnosis of brain cancer. The other two were women who had been bucking their party all that week, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. All, it could be argued, put principle before party.

The female senators were on receiving end of insults from male officials. “They were told that they… deserve a physical reprimand for their decisions not to support Republican health-care proposals.

Senator Murkowski is particularly interesting to me because she has won three full terms to the Senate, yet has never won a majority of the vote. “Murkowski was appointed to the U.S. Senate by her father, Frank Murkowski, who resigned his seat in December 2002 to become the Governor of Alaska. She completed her father’s unexpired term, which ended in January 2005. She ran for and won a full term in 2004,” with 48.5% of the vote.

“She ran for a second term in 2010. She lost the Republican Party nomination to Tea Party candidate Joe Miller. She then ran as a write-in candidate and defeated both Miller and Democrat Scott McAdams in the General Election,” with 39.5% of the vote, “making her the first U.S. Senator to be elected by write-in vote since Strom Thurmond [of South Carolina] in 1954.”

In fact, I predicted that victory in this very blog on 2 November 2010:
“But I will go out on a limb to say that I think Lisa Murkowski will barely retain her Senate seat in Alaska. Three-way polling is much less reliable than that done for a two person race. Good news: her name will appear on a list of potential write-in candidates. Bad news: there are about 100 people on the list. Good news: she has great name recognition in the state. Bad news: she’s been around a long time, and her father before her. Good news: it is established that a vote for a write-in candidate must be counted, if the intent is clear. So someone drawing the three pictures on this page could be seen as voting for Murkowski, like so:”

mer

cow

ski

The French word for sea is MER + COW + SKI = Murkowski.

In 2016, she won again, with 44% of the vote. The political threats to her has not fazed her, maybe because she doesn’t have to run for office again until 2022.

For ABC Wednesday

I is for I Was a Communist for the F.B.I.

The movie I Was A Communist for the F.B.I., it seems, was on television a LOT when I was a kid. And I’d usually watched it.

We only had two TV stations. One was the CBS affiliate, Channel 12, WNBF-TV at the time, which also carried some ABC shows. The other was the NBC affiliate, Channel 40, WINR-TV. And one or both of them would play this 1951 melodrama regularly, to fill their weekend afternoon programming.

From the Wikipedia:

“The story follows [Pittsburgh steelworker Matt] Cvetic, who infiltrated a local Communist Party cell for nine years and reported back to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on their activities.

“The film and [1952-1953] radio show are, in part, artifacts of the McCarthy era, as well as a time capsule of American society during the Second Red Scare. The purpose of both is partly to warn people about the threat of Communist subversion of American society. The tone of the show is ultra-patriotic…”

From Rotten Tomatoes:

“The real Matt Cvetic was a borderline alcoholic with a nasty disposition (he once allegedly beat his sister-in-law so badly she required hospitalization). But Cvetic was also a fervent anti-communist, and so, for a brief period in the early 1950s, he was a folk hero. I Was a Communist for the F.B.I. is the semi-true story of how Cvetic (played by Frank Lovejoy) renounced his friends and family and embraced the Red cause–on behalf of the F.B.I., for whom he was a volunteer undercover agent.”

It was a film so important to the Hollywood film collective that “it was nominated for the 1952 Academy Awards in the Best Documentary Feature category, though it’s about as much a documentary as On the Waterfront.” It rightly lost to Kon-Tiki.

Oddly, I think the movie had the opposite effect on me than it was supposed to. I haven’t watched it again. But YOU can here.

For ABC Wednesday.

W is for Junior Walker and the All-Stars

Among the wealth of artists that performed on the Motown labels in 1960s, I probably know about Junior Walker the least. He was born Autry DeWalt-Mixom, Jr. in Blythesville, Arkansas on 14 June 1931. He grew up in South Bend, Indiana.

He started his band, the Jumping Jacks, and his good friend, drummer Billy Nicks, had a group, the Rhythm Rockers, but the two would play on each other’s gigs. Since Nicks had a local TV show in South Bend, he asked Walker to join his band.

When Nicks got drafted, Walker convinced the group to move to Battle Creek, Michigan. After some personnel and name changes, the All Stars were signed by Harvey Fuqua to his Harvey records. “Fuqua’s labels were taken over by Motown’s Berry Gordy, and Jr. Walker & the All Stars [the usual spelling] became members of the Motown family, recording for their Soul imprint in 1964.”

The group’s first big hit was “Shotgun” in 1965, which “uses only one chord throughout the entire song — A-flat seventh. Other songs featuring this same structure (or non-structure) are Chain of Fools and Land of 1000 Dances.” The song is in the Grammy and Rock and Roll Halls of Fame. The All Stars were in a particular groove. The song appeared in several movies, including Malcolm X.

I have this Motown LP box set that explains that there was a songwriter – it doesn’t identify who, but it was either Johnny Bristol, who discovered the group; Fuqua, who took Bristol’s suggestion; or a guy named Vernon Bullock. The songwriter pitched the song to Junior, but he said it wasn’t his thing.

The next year, the songwriter said he still had that song, and Walker reluctantly agreed to record “What Does It Take (To Win Your Love)” in 1969. “A Motown quality control meeting rejected this song for single release, but radio station DJs made the track popular, resulting in Motown releasing it as a single.”

Junior Walker died of cancer on 23 November 1995 at the age of 64 in Battle Creek.

Listen to:

Shotgun, #4 pop, #1 rhythm & blues for four weeks in 1965 here or here

(I’m A) Road Runner, #20 pop, #4 r&b in 1966 here or here

How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You), #18 pop, #3 r&b in 1966 here or here

What Does It Take (To Win Your Love), #4 pop, #1 r&b for two weeks in 1969 here or here

These Eyes, #16 pop, # r&b for two weeks in 1969 here or here

Urgent (Foreigner, with Jr. Walker on sax solo), #3 pop in 1981, here or here

Urgent, 1983, appears in 1985 movie Desperately Seeking Susan, here or here

Round 20 of ABC Wednesday.

X is for Xylopolist

christmas_treeA xylopolist is someone who sells wood. Or, from Encyclo: 1. One who sells timber; a timber-merchant. 2. A dealer in wooden objects or one who sells various kinds of wood or wooden objects. I assume this includes someone who sells Christmas trees.

X is always tricky for ABC Wednesday participants. There are two common prefixes in English that start with X that folks have used quite often. Continue reading

Q is for Qualtagh

good-morning-this-morning (1)The Wiktionary defines qualtagh (Manx English) as “The first person one encounters, either after leaving one’s home or (sometimes) outside one’s home, especially on New Year’s Day.” Unused Words describes the word as “the first person one meets (either leaving or entering their house) after the start of the New Year.”

But the first reference I saw did not specify the New Year. So I started thinking about this Continue reading

P is for People songs

peopleI had all these posts for Round 15 lined up, either odd words or 70th birthdays, except for a few. After I mucked it over a good while, I said, to no one in particular, “I’ve got nothing, people.” Then suddenly, I did. Songs starting with the word People in the title that I own.

One must start, naturally, with People by Barbra Streisand, her signature song from Funny Girl that went to #5 in 1964 on the US Billboard singles charts. “People who need people are the luckiest people in the world. Is that true? I was rather fond of the cover version by Nat King Cole) that only went to #100 that same year.

A lot of People songs are inspirational. – People Get Ready by The Impressions), featuring Curtis Mayfield, went to #14 in 1965, but was an anthem of the civil rights movement.

People Are Strange by The Doors, #12 in 1967 Continue reading

N is for Nudiustertian

apollo11-yesterday-03Nudiustertian pertaining to the day before yesterday; it has nothing to do with strippers and nakedness. I’ve also discovered that, in the same linguistic family, hesternal relates to yesterday, and hodiernal pertains to to today.

“The OED goes on to gives its only example of the use of the word in a sentence from 1647, taken from the ever-popular The simple cobler of Aggawam in America, written by Nathaniel Ward. Continue reading

M is for Michael Douglas is 70 (tomorrow)

Michael_DouglasIn the 1960s and 1970s, I used to watch The Fugitive and Cannon and Barnaby Jones, virtually all the Quinn Martin productions, including the cop show The Streets of San Francisco. It starred Karl Malden as the wise senior partner, and Michael Douglas as the impetuous junior partner.

I didn’t really know who Michael Douglas was, except that he was the son of Kirk Douglas, the guy whose jaw was so square that the mimics on the Ed Sullivan Show, just had to grit their teeth to “do” him. Continue reading