Friday, July 31, 2015

Who wears short shorts? Sylva Stoel takes on JCPenney.

I was somewhat amused (and somewhat bemused) by an article I saw earlier this week about a young woman working at short shortsJCPenney in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who was sent home from work for wearing shorts that she was told were “too revealing.”

JCPenney is certainly entitled to have a dress code. And I’m enough of an old geezer to say that an outfit that’s fine for working at a summer camp, or an ice cream shop, or even a store that catered to juniors, may not be the right look for fuddy-duddy retail. Into which category I would toss JCPenney. (Not to mention: wouldn’t you be cold wearing that outfit in an air-conditioned store?)

But I don’t see this getup as “too revealing.” And I can understand Sylva Stoel’s bemusement: she bought the shorts in the JCPenney’s career section.

Stoel said:

…that during her job orientation, her manager had never mentioned shorts, but had said denim, T-shirts and spaghetti straps were prohibited, and skirts could not be “too short.”

Stoel said she had seen co-workers show up in denim and men’s undershirts, but they weren't sent home. (Source: HuffPo)

Ah, whose definition of “too short” are we following here? That of a normal, everyday person, or that of Sister Mary Filter of the Holy Smokes*?

I came of age during the first mini-skirt wave, and, in retrospect, I had plenty of skirts that weren’t much bigger than a loin cloth. I remember quite fondly a purple jersey dress that just about hit my thighs. A blue striped wool skirt that I adored. A green and blue tee-shirt dress (heavy on the tee-shirt, light on the dress.)

I never wore “hot pants” (now there’s a name), but I had any number of pairs of cut-offs. My rule on shorts and skirts – which I believe in to this day, when I’m well beyond being in any danger of violating it – is that, if any part of your ass cheeks show, it’s too damned short. (That said, did I once really have a pair of cut-offs that were so short that the bottom on the pocket dangled out?) 

Anyway, I was never all that outrageous, not by the standards of my day, let alone the far more out-there standards of this day and age. But, I did my part. Hey, I was young, and what better way to bug your parents?

My mother was the prude of all prudes when it came to clothing. Shirts were best buttoned up to the chin. You wouldn’t want to reveal any clavicle, would you? Skirts were best down to the knee. Better yet, below it. Shorts should be Bermuda length. None of this cut-off nonsense.

My sisters and I used to say that Liz’s dress code revolved around three categories: TS (too short), TP (too plunging), and TB (too black: for some reason, she didn’t believe girls – i.e., anyone under the age of fifty – should wear black).

Anyway, by the time I was ready to start violating the TS/TP/TB rules, I was one foot out the door, heading off to college and on my own. Once I got to college, I mostly swapped out one uniform – 12 years worth of parochial school green jumper and white blouse – for another: jeans and a sweater. If I had on a skirt, I was probably wearing a black turtleneck with it. If I had on a skirt, it was probably to wear when I worked retail at Filene’s or Jordan’s (where I mostly remember wearing a corduroy jumper (short), black and black tights. As for dresses, they were quite rare. My father’s wake and funeral; the weddings my friends started having after we graduated.Mostly if I had a dress on during college, it was a white nylon waitress dress.

During my career-career, I went from wearing menswear women’s power suits, to skirts and jackets, to slacks and jackets, to slacks and sweaters. These days, when I meet with a client I’m in a pantsuit for the first meeting, and a skirt or pants, and a decent top, thereafter.

There were no circumstances during my career-career in which shorts of the JCPenney career variety would have been appropriate. Just not done. But I can see that Bermuda-length, dressy shorts might work. (Just not for anyone my age.)

As for Sylva Stoel’s attire. That depends. As I’ve said, I think it would work in the junior section or the kids’ department, maybe not in men’s suits. But it’s hardly over the top or outrageous. I think JCPenney has to firm up their dress code, and, maybe, redefine what gets carried in their career section.

By the way, Sylva Stoel tweets under the handle queen feminist. I have to say that it does my old bra-burning, don’t iron while the strike is hot, Ms. subscriber, Our Bodies, Ourselves reader’s heart good to see a millennial feminist in action.

Unlike Sylva Stoel, I don’t see work-related dress codes as being a major feminist issue.

“Unfair dress codes affect millions of women, and it’s time to speak out against them,” she said.

But, hey, I’m no longer on the barricades.

Do people still say, “You go, girl!”

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Here’s looking at you, passenger in seat 23B.

I’m not an especially frequent flyer. In the last six months, I’ve flown to Phoenix, Chicago, and Edinburgh, and my overall annual norm is probably two to four trips. When I do fly, I always spring for the extra: a bit more leg room, an aisle seat, early boarding. Whatever’s on offer, it’s worth the extra $25 bucks or so.

Thanks to my late husband’s aggressive gaming of the free-miles-via-credit-card “system,” and with smaller thanks to the days when I did enough regular business travels to accrue miles naturally, I have flown first or business plenty of times. I have to say it’s great. Forget the little goodie bag and the edible food. What’s really nice about the upper class is that the seating’s a lot more comfortable. That’s the case whether or not you’re in a splosh mini-cabin of your own or just in a comfily padded, leg-stretchable, wide-body plain old seat. Not that I’ve ever been in a splosh mini-cabin. But I have been in those relaxer chairs where you can stretch out fully for the flight. Heaven, actually.

While it’s doubtful that there’ll be much high-end flying in my future, I’m always interested in reading about how first class is getting classier, with private cabins, Michelin-starred grub, ultra high thread count bedding, showers, butlers…

But as the airlines make more room for the elite travelers, they’re – surprise, surprise – doing so at the cost in comfort of the rest of us. All that extra space for the 7 foot long beds has got to come from somewhere.

I recently read that airlines were considering making the bathrooms smaller.  I guess they could put a fold-down sink over the toilet. Or, like Porta-Potties (or at least the best of them), just have some sort of hand sanitizer dispenser that emits a squirt of Purell. They could always get rid of the toilet and just have the hole in the floor with the foot rests on either side. (Hey, I’ve been to France a few times. I know how to use those suckers. Sort of.) Maybe they could design them so you had to back in, and/or replace the according door with a roll-down shade. But there’s not a lot of room to squeeze out of those facilities to begin with.

That leaves the seating arrangements, which are slimming down to make more space for the rich (or just so that more of the great unwashed can get crammed in):

Economy seats are narrower and closer, but they’re also getting less padded. Last year airlines such as Delta, United, American, Southwest, and Spirit swapped out standard cushion seats for slim-line seats. The name may sound stylish, but slim-line is a nice way of saying that perching on these seats can be about as comfortable as sitting on a park bench for a long-haul flight. Less cushioning means the seats take up less space. Less space means the potential to add more seats. More seats, of course, means more money.  (Source: Boston Globe)

Blame it on our steerage passengers’ penny-pinching ways:

“You’re not going to get people in economy to pay more,” said Michael Friedman, senior equity analyst at Delaware Investments. “So the question has become, to what extent are airline passengers willing to accept torture to save a few dollars?”

One of the answers to that question may be coming from Zodiac Seats, which was recently granted a patent for this:

Not only do these space savers look wildly uncomfortable, but the unfortunately monkey in the middle will be full frontal with their row-mates.

I really don’t think that any airline would be equipped to handle the number of passengers who would go berserk sitting in one of these honeys. Would they distribute Quaaludes with the “complimentary beverage”? Are they thinking of more air marshals armed with stun guns? Drop down oxygen masks that drop down anesthesia instead. (“I woke refreshed and don’t remember anything about my journey.”)

What’s next? Offering to ship humans in dog crates?

Me? I’d rather stay home. Unless I win the lottery, in that case, order me up a mini-cabin with a shower and butler.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

When it comes to naming their pierogi, Sophie’s makes the wrong choice

Product naming is tough. The process quite deceptively seems as if it should be relatively simple and straightforward – as easy as you can say Campbell’s Soup.  – but coming up with a decent name is actually quite difficult. You want one that doesn’t make you look ridiculous, that doesn’t have a double meaning, that translates without embarrassment, that doesn’t throw off a silly acronym, and that won’t be found offensive by the majority of people (not just the ultra-PC crusaders). Trust someone who once managed a product called AutoBJ, there are plenty of bad names out there, and you should really try to avoid them.

Polish Eats, an Ohio foodery -  Peter’s Market: Home of the King of Kielbasa and Sophie’s Café - apparently didn’t get the memo on product naming.

Thus their Sophie’s Choice Pierogi, which are:

…simply amazing…you can always bet that Sophie’s Choice Pierogi are going to be first to disappear from the dinner table! (Source: Polish Eats)

First to disappear? Say, would that be like the child that the character Sophie, in the classic book/movie Sophie’s Choice, sacrificed to the Nazis in hopes (fruitless ones, of course) of saving her other child?

At least their tagline isn’t ‘you’re shoah going to love them’.

Here’s what Nancy Friedman, an expert on naming and branding, has to say:

I don’t care if your beloved founder is named Sophie. I don’t care if she chose the ingredients, the recipe, and the wacky label art. I will not listen to your argument about “choice” being an adjective meaning “of fine quality.” I don’t care if you call it an homage, and I don’t care how you pronounce “homage.”


I definitely won’t listen to arguments about Polish jokes.

Here’s the thing: Literature renders some names off limits. In this case, William Styron got there first, and thanks to him, “Sophie’s Choice” now stands for something horrific. [Children’s bedroom furniture called Lolita.]

Unless you are truly tasteless—a damning thing to say about a food company—you do not get to name your product “Sophie’s Choice.”  (Source: Frtinancy)

Truly tasteless is certainly one possibility here. For your consideration, I offer a few others.

Obliviousness: Could it be that the folks at Polish Eats weren’t aware of the plot of Sophie’s Choice? Maybe when they went to dub their pierogi, nothing came to mind. Maybe all they could come up with for an association was “wasn’t that the movie where Meryl Streep divorced Dustin Hoffman and tried to keep custody of the cute blond kid?”

Obstinacy: Did they so fall in love with the name that they managed to convince themselves that Sophie is Sophie, and choice is a perfectly fine word, and both Sophie and choice were around long before William Styron started typing, so…Damn anyone who thinks there’s anything wrong with our using a perfectly good word. So, maybe they’re just pig headed.

Slyly “humorous”: In a sick, anti-Semitic kind of way. “Oh, it’s just a clever play on words, and our customers will know it’s all in good fun.” Which may not be the wisest route to take, especially given the long history of anti-Semitism in Poland, the sheer numbers of Polish Jews who were slaughtered during the Holocaust, and that fact that so much of the overall slaughter of the innocents took place on Polish soil. (Also the scene of much of the action in Sophie’s Choice.)

I was actually going to give them the benefit of the doubt, and suggest that they did their naming before Styron wrote his book and Streep acquired her Polish accent. But, no, Sophie’s Choice Pierogi Company was founded in 1984, five year’s after the novel was published, and two years after the film (for which Meryl Streep won an Oscar: this was not some under-the-radar indie) was released.

You know, there are a lot of other words that would have worked just fine: Sophie’s Best, Sophie’s Favorite, Sophie’s Special… Why would anyone go with a name that would be offensive to so many, and strike so many as sick jokey?

I like a good pierogi as much as the next guy, but if I’m ever in Garfield, Ohio, I most definitely will not be stopping in at Sophie’s Café. I’d rather eat from a can of Chef Boy-ar-di ravioli mush than take a bite of a “simply amazing” Sophie’s Choice pierogi.

And Sophie’s Choice Pierogi Company can put that in their pierogi and stuff it.

Thanks to my sister Kath for pointing this one out to me.  

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Think I may get myself a pair of Chucks. (Probably not, but it’s fun thinking about it…)

Well, today is going to be a big day for Chuck Taylor fans everywhere.

Converse is releasing the new Chucks and – get this – they’re actually rumored to be comfortable and provide some support. So what if it took them nearly 100 years to come around to it.

The updated sneaker will merge the old shoe’s classic exterior with a more modern, cushioned interior engineered by Converse’s parent company, Nike Inc., according to retailers with knowledge of the product.

Called the Chuck Taylor II, the shoe will feature an insole with Lunarlon technology available in many of Nike’s existing athletic and casual sneakers, the retailers said. The shoe weighs less than the current Chuck Taylor, also known as the All-Star or Chucks, they said. (Source: Boston Globe)

When I was growing up, there weren’t as many sneaker choices as there are today.

Kid wore Keds, P.F. Flyers, or Red Ball Jets. Nobody actually wanted to wear Red Ball Jets, as the logo on the back of their shoes looked like a tiny Japanese flag. This was the 1950’s, and pretty much everyone’s father had been in World War II fighting against the Japanese flag. So there was something suspicious about Red Balls.

Our family wore P.F. Flyers, probably because that was the brand that Mr. McEarchern (pronounced Mc-Geck-rin) sold at his cobbler’s shop. Mr. McEarchern, who wore a navy pin-striped suit, closed collared shirt without tie, and a scally cap, in doors and out, was our cobbler. His shop was in Webster Square, not far from where my grandfather had his saloon. So he and my grandfather would have been merchant contemporaries. I don’t recall him every mentioning my long dead grandfather. Then again, no one did. I’m sure Mr. McEarchern just wanted us to get the damned sneakers (or rubbers, which he also sold) and get the hell out of his shop so he could get back to cobbling.

In addition to Keds, P.F. Flyers, and Red Ball Jets, boys had another option. They could wear Converse All Stars.

Black or white, high top or low cut, the styles went in and out.

But whatever the style, they offered the same lack of support and comfort that sneakers (or tennis shoes, as they were called, although none of us played tennis) provided: none at all. Which was one of the reasons why no one wore sneakers all year round, and which was why your parents always said they were “bad for your feet.” Especially if you had flat feet, like I (and my father) did.

Converse All Stars wecousyre actually
worn by NBA All Stars. Here’s Bob Cousy sporting a pair. Cousy wasn’t originally a Worcester boy, but he’d played his college hoops at Holy Cross, and stayed in Worcester throughout his storied playing career with the Celtics. He lived, in fact, next door to my high school, which one of his daughters attended. For all I know, he still lives there.

Professional athletes are always being compared era-to-era, but imagine what those guys could have done if they weren’t killing themselves pounding around in Chucks?

It’s been a while since any pro ballers wore Converse, but they got a new lease in life when they became a hipster fashion statement.

In recent years, it has become a more mainstream trend seemingly endorsed by everyone except podiatrists.

The current Chuck Taylor offers about as much benefit to the foot as the 5-inch high heel, said Dr. Lloyd S. Smith, a podiatrist in Newton Center who has done consulting work for New Balance, Converse, and Nike.

…Dr. John Giurini, chief of podiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, said he wouldn’t recommend the All-Star for patients with any prior foot injuries. He said flat shoes with limited support can exacerbate issues such as achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, and posterior tibial tendonitis, among other foot problems.

Achilles tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, posterior tibial tendonitis? Oh, my aching feet.

Despite the new Converse tidings of comfort and support, I don’t actually think I’ll be getting myself. Not cool enough, I guess. Too darned old.

But maybe I’ll look into a pair of Converse Jack Purcell’s, named for the famous badminton player. (Name another.) Low cut Jack’s might be more my ticket.

Anyway, Converse Headquarters isn’t far from where I live.

Next time I’m walking that way, maybe I’ll stop into the store there. Check out the Chucks. Check out the Jacks. See what they’ve got for old lady gear…

Monday, July 27, 2015

Baloney Man? Not this guy!

April through October (or thereabouts), there’s an ice cream truck parked at the corner of Arlington and Boylston Street, about 5 minutes walk from my home. It’s soft-serve ice cream, so I’m not exactly running over, but I’ve gotten water and lemonade there a couple of times when I’ve been out for a walk.

Other than Fosty’s, this is, alas, not an ice cream truck kind of ‘hood, so there are no ice cream trucks moseying around the neighborhood playing merry-go-round music. It just sits there quietly selling stuff to (mostly) tourists. (It sits next to the beautiful, peaceful and quiet-ful Public Garden, home of the Swan Boats and Make Way for Ducklings.)

But some places are ice cream truck friendly, and Peabody, Massachusetts, is apparently one of them. Allan Ganz, who plies his trade there, has been going strong for 68 years – since he was 10 years old, working his father’s ice cream truck. His father, Louis, was an ice cream man until he was 86, so Allan still has a few good years left in him. But if Allan retires tomorrow – which he has no intention of doing – he’ll do so as the owner of the Guinness World Record for the “longest career as an ice cream man.’’

Ganz retired from his job with the postal service 13 years ago, devoting his life since then to the ice cream business. His season runs about seven months, starting in April and wrapping up in October. He said he works seven days a week and takes off only one day in that stretch, his birthday in July.

A white and pink flag with ice cream cones on it waves outside his West Peabody home. He keeps his truck out back, as well as three freezers that store the ice cream, which he picks up from a nearby vendor every Thursday at 5 a.m.

He starts his shifts at 11 a.m. and does not stop work until 8:30 or 9 p.m., logging roughly 70 miles a day.

“It’s not as easy as it looks,” he says while driving his route Friday, gripping the wheel of his truck, which has accumulated more than 148,000 miles. (Source: Boston Globe)

Actually, it doesn’t look easy at all at all. Driving slowly around all day. Dealing with all those kids agonizing over whether to order a blueberry slushie or a Sponge Bob whatever. Deciding how often to go into your own pocket because a weepy-eyed kiddo doesn’t have the scratch for either the blueberry slushie or the Sponge Bob whatever.Worrying about all those throngs of little heads when you’re backing up or heading out.

Nope. Doesn’t look easy to me in the least.

My own personal experience working with ice cream was of the stationary variety.

When I was in college, I worked the evening shift in a snack bar, Twenty Chimneys, at the MIT student center. You could either be assigned the grill, the fryolator, ice cream or the dishwasher. Dishwashing was the very worst, mostly because you got wet, but also because you were in the backroom, isolated from the goofy/funny MIT guys, who were the reason we worked there to begin with. My friends and I seldom got stuck on dishwashing, mostly because the MIT students who worked with us – 99% of who were male – didn’t want their fellow students to see them working the front of the house. They were just as glad to hide out behind the scenes.

Ice cream, one would have thought, was the best station. And most nights it was. What’s not to like about scooping ice cream, pouring on the hot fudge sauce, and topping it off with a shot of Redi-Whip? Unfortunately, we went through so much ice cream, there was always at least one flavor – of the four on offer: chocolate, strawberry, vanilla, and something else that varied – that came from the storage freezer so solidly frozen that it took a hammer and chisel to get any ice cream out of it, Don’t tell me about running the scoop under hot water first! When ice cream’s in a five gallon tub, and as hardened as cement, that warmed-up scoop will only get you so far.

As for my experience as a consumer of ice cream, I have plenty. But little of it was from an ice cream truck.

There was one that made regular stops on our street when was a kid. And why not? I think the average number of kids per house was four or five. And, since ice cream from the truck guy was only a nickel or a dime, pretty much everyone could afford it.

But the ice cream truck was something my practical parents weren’t wild about.

After all, we already had ice cream – a staple Chez Rogers – in the house. Oh, it might not have been a red-white-and-blue rocket, or something with a gumball at its center, but if you wanted ice cream, with or without Hershey’s chocolate sauce or a banana, you could have at it. Plus whenever we went out for a ride in the summer, which our family did at least once a week, we always stopped for ice cream somewhere.And if you had a nickel on your own, you could go to Sol’s drugstore and buy a Popsicle, Fudgicle, or Creamsicle. 

(One of the other frozen treats of my childhood was jumping on the back of a milk truck and asking the milk man for a chunk of ice. Because we were privileged children – some of my father’s cousins were milk men – we were always able to scrounge a nice big chunk of coated ice. Nothing like licking ice covered with a scrim of black diesel exhaust! Yum!)

As for the ice cream truck, I think my parents just thought there was something trashy and unwholesome about the tricked-out wares for sale from the ice cream truck. That was on top of their general reluctance to spend good money on something you could get at home for free.

Anyway, one time my brother Rick (pre-allowance; he couldn’t have been more than three or four) asked my father for some money for the ice cream truck. My father told him that the ice cream truck was “a bunch of baloney.”

So Rick headed for the wooded hills next to our house, and hollered down to the ice cream guy, “You’re nothing but a baloney man!”

Not so, Allan Ganz!

Sixty-eight years working the truck. We should all be so lucky!

Friday, July 24, 2015

J-E-L-L-O shots. Coming soon to a Keurig-like machine near you.

Full disclosure: I’ve never actually had a jello shot.

I would have chalked this up them being a latter-day invention, introduced after the days when I might have been tempted to down a few. Then I read in Wikipedia
that they were rumored to have been first concocted by satirical songwriter Tom Lehrer when he worked for the NSA in the 1950’s. Or, as is more likely, they were invented in the pre-Jell-o1860’s, with a recipe that “calls for gelatin, cognac, rum, and lemon juice.

Anyway, I’ve never had the pleasure, but they do sound kind of fun in a get outrageously trashed kind of way best left – alas – to the young. Which accounts, of course, for their popularity in bars.

But no bartender or sous-chef likes boiling water, mixing the powder, adding the booze, and then…waiting [four hours. And making more at midnight after you sell out isn’t an option, so you end up leaving money in partiers’ pockets. (Source: Bloomberg)

Jeff Jetton wants to do something about this, so he and his partner, Tyler Williams (once owner of a Portland, OR, club snarkily called the Bettie Ford), have come up with the Jevo, a jello shot maker:

…a high-tech machine the size of a large microwave that turns out a tray of 20 shots in just 10 minutes.

They liken it to a Keurig, hoping it will do for the world of jello shots what Keurig did for a cup of joe. And, like Keurig, make their money from sale of the pods, not the machines. (Wasn’t King Gillette a shrewdy when he came up with his ‘give ‘em the razor, sell ‘em the blade’ concept back in the day? Maybe he’d tossed down a few of those way-back gelatin shots when the inspiration came to him.)

Of course, a lot more people start the day with a cup of coffee than end the day hammering down a couple of jello shots. (Ditto for shaving.) Still…

Jetton won’t be using Jell-O brand. His gelatin source will be Jel Sert makers of Royal Gelatin, which was a Jell-O rival during my childhood, but which I haven’t seen on the shelves in years. My mother sometimes bought Royal. I think they had a blackberry flavored that she liked. But flavored gelatin is flavored gelatin, no?

The Jevo is slated for introduction early next year, and they’ve got a full pipeline of “
bars, restaurants, casinos, and cruise ships.”

Getting folks more easily sloshed is not the total end-game for Jetton:

He has big dreams for the Jevo machine. After rolling out in bars, Jetton wants to put them in every hospital and assisted-living center in the world. Gelatin is just as good for delivering medicine to hospital patients as it is for getting Ketel One vodka down people’s throats on Friday nights, he says. And demand could be huge because the sick and elderly often have trouble swallowing pills, but they love their Jello.

It’s also being trialed to help dialysis patient take in the protein supplements they use.

Jevo will not be without competition from pre-packaged Jelly Shots, with flavors like Meyer Lemon Drop. Which, if I’m going to add throwing back a jello shot or two to my bucket list, might be the way to go.

Mostly, I think I’ll be trying out my first Jevo concoction when I’m in assisted living.

Good luck to Jetton and Jevo, the future old geezers of America – and not just the bachelor party girls – are rooting for you.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Alas, the Worcester Tornadoes Are No Longer (but there are still plenty of great minor league team names out there)

 In the run up to last week’s All Star Game, there was a flurry of publicity about disgraced old-timer Pete Rose. For those who don’t follow sports, the odious Rose, after a brilliant career (most of it spent with his home town team, the Cincinnati Reds), was banned from baseball for betting on games. Which means no Hall of Fame.

This isn’t stopping Pete and his buds from shamelessly lobbying the baseball world to forgive and forget and let him into the Hall, where he would have been a first ballot shoe in. (Instead of a no ballot, Shoeless Joe shoo out.)

I didn’t like Pete Rose when he was playing. I don’t like him any better now.

I vote to keep him out of the Hall – no plaque for you, my friend – but to recognize whatever records he holds (facts is facts) if, in fact, the Hall doesn’t do so already. (Fair is fair.)

And with this preface, I’ll get to the heart of the post:

In one of the pictures I saw of Pete last week, he was wearing gear that said “Corn Belters” on it.

As it googles out, the Corn Belters are a minor league baseball team playing in the Corn Belt town of Normal (Illinois). They’re not to be confused with the Cedar Rapids (Iowa) Kernels. Who’re are not to be confused with the Modesto (California) Nuts.

There are so many great baseball team names that are out there…

Some teams are named for local industry (however defunct). So we have the Lowell (Mass.) Spinners, harkening back to the days when Lowell was the original mill town.

Then there are Lehigh Valley (Pennsylvania) Iron Pigs. I don’t really know what an iron pig is, but I suspect it has something to do with pig iron. Which is an actually thing that gets produced, unlike Cincinnati Reds (for Redstockings) or the Boston Red Sox which are items of clothing that, while they may be produced, are never actually worn, except by the players. In other words, they seem to be devoid of local meaning.

Into the Iron Pig heavy industry category go the
Lansing (Michigan) Lugnuts, the Mahoning Valley (Ohio) Scrappers, the Chillicothe (Ohio) Paints, and the Akron (Ohio) Rubber Ducks, which get extra props for not only being a shout out to the industry that made its name, but for having a sense of humor (and, I suspect, some fun giveaways). The Bowling Green (Kentucky) Hot Rods got their name from the local Corvette plant.

Post-industrial, non-Rust Belt, Ashville (North Carolina) has its Tourists, Biloxi (Mississippi) has its Shuckers, and Corpus Christi (Texas) has the Hooks. Traverse City (Michigan) is home to the Beach Bums. I guess this makes sense, given that Traverse City is a vacation spot. But I’m so parochial, I associate beach bums with salt water, not fresh.

Reno (Nevada)’s team is named the Aces, while Las Vegas shuns the obvious gambling references – no Casinos, no Blackjacks, no Slots – and has a team called the 51s, a nod to an area (Area 51) in the state where there have been UFO sightings.

The criminal industrial complex rears its ugly head with the Joliet (Illinois) Slammers.

My favorite nod to local business, however, would have to be the Albuquerque Isotopes. At least it was while I was assuming that the name was taken from Los Alamos. But rather than having anything to do with Robert Oppenheim, it turns out that the Isotopes has something to do with Home Simpson. At least I’ll take
wikipedia’s word for it.)

Some teams have names that I don’t quite get.

Are the Wichita (Kansas) Wingnuts called the wingnuts because they manufacture wingnuts in town, or because they breed wingnuts in town? And where does the Winston-Salem (North Carolina) Dash name come from? Shouldn’t they be the Cigs?

But why quibble, when there’s a litany of wonderful minor league team names to chant? The Omaha (Nebraska) Storm Chasers. The Sioux Falls (South Dakota) Canaries. The Richmond (Virginia) Flying Squirrels. The Peoria (Arizona – not Illinois: that wouldn’t make much sense) Javelinas. (I sure hope they play the Surprise (Arizona) Saguaros.)

You’ve got to love a team – the Brooklyn (New York) Cyclones – named for an amusement park ride. And then there’s the dare-to-be-me Everett (Washington) Aqua Sox. And the almost edible Montgomery (Alabama) Biscuits.

The Worcester (Massachusetts) Tornadoes are, alas, no longer. But, really, how could a team named after a weather disaster that killed nearly 100 locals survive?

There is a minor league team in town, the Bravehearts, named, I’m hoping not for any heretofore unknown Worcester Scots’ heritage, or because of any fondness for Mel Gibson, but, rather for the Heart of the Commonwealth.

Go Bravehearts!

(Source for most of the names: Wikipedia)