Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Wednesday, August 12, 2021

Today’s earlier mention of the oral transposition of “L” and “R” among Asian English-speakers reminded me of an old joke involving Telly Savalas.

I’m kind of amazed that, after so many years, “Kojak” is still such a recognizable pop-culture icon. I can’t believe that the reruns are still in syndication anywhere. But I guess Savalas’ bald head and oversized Greek personality left a lasting impression, to the point where even Israeli police refer to their squad-car portable sirens as “Kojak lights”.

Anyway, the joke. It’s probably apocryphal, but it fits with Savalas’ abrasive personality, and it takes place in New York, and it’s funny. So I’ll roll it out:

He used to go to dinner at the old Hong Hing Co. on Mott St., a “greasy-chopstick” where Telly would mercilessly tease the waiter, Joe, about the way he spoke, by saying, “You got some Flied Lice today, Joe? Bling us some of that Flied Lice!” One time he was there, Telly teased Joe about the Flied Lice as usual, but you could tell from Joe’s determined expression that something was different. Joe had been practicing his speech and had been waiting for this moment, and, sure enough, when he brought out Telly’s food he said, very slowly and deliberately, “Here’s your FRRIED RRICE, you GLEEK PLICK!!”

Who loves ya, baby? It’s better than the nonsensical schoolyard joke I heard as a kid, during the show’s ’70s heyday: That the reason Kojak was bald was because one day, he got that lollipop stuck in his hair, and yanked out all his follicles while pulling it out…

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/12/2021 04:21:52 PM
Category: Celebrity, Comedy, New Yorkin', Pop Culture, TV
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If you’re a fan of “Mad Men”, then you’re probably a fan of the show’s dedication to historical accuracy in libations:

Liquor is not only an integral part of many plotlines (last season, it played a pivotal role in a car crash, a divorce, a rape and two career implosions), but often a telling sign of character. When it comes to choosing a character’s poison, [show prop master Gay] Perello said, many people have input, starting with the show’s creator, Matthew Weiner: “Matt will say, ‘I want them to have a brown liquor.’ And I’ll go, ‘Let’s do a nonblended Scotch, because this is a person who would appreciate that.’ ”

The cocktail historian David Wondrich, 48, thinks an old-fashioned is a conservative choice for the young [main character Dan] Draper, but considers his preference for Canadian Club “exactly right. We’d had years of destruction of the American whiskey industry up until then. So the Canadian stuff was viewed as being pretty good.”

What this article doesn’t bring up: Such a central role for name-brand alcohol creates the perfect environment for product placement. Liquor companies are known to be especially aggressive in positioning their brands into movies, TV shows, and even songs. So regardless of what the prop master strives for, I’m sure there’s plenty of paid-for insertion of specific Scotch, vodka, gin, and beer bottles in the storylines.

In fact, a plot point from the upcoming Season 3 illustrates a seamless method of selling this, without compromising the authenticity:

This season, Sterling gets his hands on some prized contraband: Soviet-made Stolichnaya (then not available in the United States). His priorities remain solidly in place. “Help yourself,” he tells a colleague. “Not the Stoli.”

I’d bet anything that this bit was written into the show expressly because Stoli paid for it. They’d have to forgo the modern-day logo and design, but that’s insignificant — having the vodka mentioned by name by a popular character on a popular show guarantees mindshare, and sales. The minds at Sterling Cooper couldn’t have cooked up a more effective advertising campaign.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/12/2021 03:26:38 PM
Category: Advert./Mktg., Food, History, Pop Culture, TV
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A gap in my pop-cultural knowledge was exposed yesterday, when I failed to recognize this tweet-quote from Revenge of the Nerds:

What the fuck is a frush?

But hey, I can live with the void. Especially since that referenced “frush” was nothing but a cheap dig on Asian-American l-r pronunciation transposition — hardly a comedic gem. And anyway, I like my well-intentioned tweet-rebuttal better:

friend crush? Whatever that is?

Indeed, that mash-up definition has some modern-day currency; more so than a 25-year-old schlocky film. So I’ll go with it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/12/2021 11:46:59 AM
Category: Movies, Pop Culture, Wordsmithing
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There’s still almost a month to go before this summer ends, but I’m gonna go ahead and declare it to be the screwiest one in recent memory, weather-wise.

Consider that in New York, it rained practically every day in June. Not only did that make things consistently wet, it also blocked out the sunshine enough that daily temperatures never seemed to warm up. Effectively, it really didn’t feel like summer actually started when it was supposed to; I was constantly chilly throughout that entire month.

There was nothing particularly memorable about July, other than some particularly bad episodes of thunderstorms and other inclement weather. But coming into August, I’ve noticed another weird atmospheric phenomenon: For the past week or so, sunny days have been relatively cool, while the following nights have turned hot and muggy. Topsy-turvy humidity shifts, I guess.

Can’t wait to see what the weather gods have in store between now until Labor Day. Actually, yes I can — indoors, away from unpleasant exposure to the elements.

by Costa Tsiokos, Wed 08/12/2021 11:15:14 AM
Category: New Yorkin', Weather
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