Happy Groundhog Day from Punxsutawney Phil

How many of you have gained all of your knowledge about the big holiday Hoo-ha today from the movie?

You know, Groundhog Day, the Lay’s Potato Chip of a flick starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell from 1993 that you couldn’t help but watch over and over again?

Yeah, that movie. (From IMDb.com)

Yeah, that movie. (From IMDb.com)

Of course sometimes Hollywood (loosely) bases its best work on fact, and the late, great Harold Ramis was no different as he co-wrote and directed this comedy that became legend.

And so on this Feb. 2 here on The Blog of Funny Names I offer you the hard truth about Groundhog Day.

Thank you very much, WikiPedia and history.com for your thoroughness about this day in American history.

It all started in 1887 at a place called Gobbler’s Knob in Punxatawney, Pa. That’s where local newspaper editor Clymer H. Freas, a member of the Punxatawney Groundhog Club, decided that the furry groundhog they all called Phil was America’s true weather-predicting furry.

And if that’s not enough to earn a spot in the BoFN, I’m crawling back into bed for the rest of winter.

The legend we all repeat again and again says that if Phil sees his shadow, he’ll scurry back into his hole, and we’ll face six more weeks of winter. But if it’s cloudy, out he’ll come to cavort, and we’ll be in for an early spring.

It’s all based on science instead of shadowy smoke and mirrors, of course. Groundhogs — or hedgehogs, if you prefer — hibernate for the winter months, and come out for spring.

The folks of Punxatawney continue the Feb. 2 tradition. (From WikiPedia.com)

The folks of Punxatawney continue the Feb. 2 tradition. (From WikiPedia.com)

In any case, Happy Groundhog Day. I’m rooting for a cloudy day over there in Gobbler’s Knob and an early spring over here in Syracuse, N.Y.

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Funny Names in the News vol. 116 with Rainy Dingle and Tasty Lasagna

Happy Friday! It’s time again to go over the newspapers again and dig out the week’s very best names.

First, we pop over to Italy, where a big soccer match between Inter Milan and Carpi had a dramatic ending. Inter was 1-0 ahead in the last minute, when Carpi’s tasty striker Kevin Lasagna decided the time was ripe for an equalizer. WorldSoccer.com headlined the event “Inter choke on Lasagna”, which is pretty good.

Italy's top scorer, earlier.

Italy’s top scorer, earlier.

In country music news this week, fans of Brantley Gilbert are going to have to wait just a bit longer for his new album. I don’t think I’ve yet heard one of his tunes, but I like the sound of the name. Always good to see a rare “last name as first name, and first name as last name” combo.

In icier sports, the NHL All Star Game is taking place this weekend at the birthplace of hockey – Nashville, Tennessee. The roster for the event includes Blog of Funny Names favorites Dustin Byfuglien and Devan “the Dube” Dubnyk. Unfortunately most of our favorite names did not make it this time around, but there’s always next year, Clayton Stoner!

Less funnily named, but delighting the crowd at the game are also the winner of the fan vote, and probably the league’s worst player John Scott, half-bear half-man hybrid Brent Burns, seen here playing with a baby penguin, and our newest friend, the Russian sniper Evgeny Kuznetsov, who played his way into our hearts with this quote about his daily routine :

“I just want to play hockey, come home. Watch the Family Feud, go to bed. Wake up, play hockey again.”

That’s my kind of routine.

Brent Burns has the best hair in the world.

Back to soccer, where England’s Sunderland AFC celebrated their youth academy graduates this week, including one Jonjo Dickman. Young Dickman only played for the club once before moving onto other teams, but he is fondly remembered on their website at least.


Meanwhile in Ireland, bad weather is making the news. Very high winds caused huge waves to hit shore in the Dingle Peninsula, which for obvious reasons is our very favorite peninsula. You can see some of the footage of very angry water here.

Thanks for reading, this has been this week’s update on Funny Names in the News! Check back next week for more fun business!

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Ji-Tu Cumbuka

When you see the name Ji-Tu, your brain probably checks its card catalog for best matches and then pulls up the sport jujitsu. But he is not jujitsu; he’s a veteran actor.

You may recognize Ji-Tu Combuka from his acting roles in Roots, Harlem Nights, Brewster’s Millions, Mandingo, or Bound for Glory. In a time where black actors are currently protesting the lack of roles for minorities (specifically African-Americans), we can look to Cumbuka as a successful actor of over a hundred films and television series, spanning the decades.

And, yes, Ji-Tu is his given name. Per the site agianttoremember.com, it was all Cumbuka’s grandmother’s idea. In Swahili, “Ji-Tu” means giant, and “Cumbuka means “to remember.” How she knew he was going to grow up to be 6’5″ is another question altogether.

Born in Alabama on March 4, 1942 to a Baptist minister who believed acting was “the devil’s work,” Cumbuka grew up in the segregated South. At the age of 12, he saw his first movie, Shane, which inspired him to act. Once grown, he headed up to Yankee territory in New York and eventually  enlisted in the Army, where he excelled in football and track. Scholarships were offered, and he chose Texas Southern University to major in the devil’s work. Ultimately, he earned a B.A. in theatre and a master’s in cinematography.

After three years taking acting classes and performing in community plays, he landed his first top role in the 1968 movie Uptight, which led to roles, such as Wrestler in the TV miniseries “Roots.” Cumbuka shared a memory from his 1976 audition:

After the introductions, David Green (the director) spoke to me. “I say, ol chap,” he began, “that’s a very unusual name you have. Where are you from?”
“South America,” I replied.
“What part?” he inquired.
“Helena, Alabama,” I immediately responded, not losing a beat. The entire room erupted in laughter…



As you may know, when Michael J. Fox  first joined the Screen Actors Guild, he had to register his name with a middle initial to differentiate himself from the already-registered actor Michael Fox. (Fun fact: “J” wasn’t even legit; his middle name is Andrew.) Cumbuka, however, never had this problem, as there were no other Ji-Tu Cumbukas. Although there IS a drink called GT’s Kombucha, which is powerful in its own way.


Whether in his roles on “Knots Landing,” “The A-Team,” “The Dukes of Hazard,” “Walker, Texas Ranger,” or “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” Ji-Tu Cumbuka has certainly lived up to his name as a giant to remember. And he’s still going strong at 73.

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Philly Swift Garcia and her Championship-caliber Father

A short-but-sweet one for today, as your loyal boxing correspondent has also been serving a brief stint as a student-faculty academic liaison for the last several weeks, and life gets busy.


This weekend, Philadelphia-based Puerto-Rican boxer Danny “Swift” Garcia defeated California’s Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero on the first Fox Network Primetime Boxing show in 20 years.

The win brought Garcia the WBC Welterweight title (previously vacated by Floyd Mayweather), and made Garcia a two-division champion, having won several Junior Welterweight Championships before moving up in weight.

Because there was no Livingstone Bramble in attendance, and Danny Garcia and Robert Guerrero aren’t interesting names, the highlight of the evening for all Funny Names Blog fans must have been when Garcia brought his five-month-old daughter, Philly Swift Garcia into the ring after the bout. Having seen that adorable face and floral headband, we’re sure her brief TV stint was a highlight for other reasons too.

She even got a baby-sized title!

She even got a baby-sized title!


Congrats to Philly and her dad. Danny Garcia is a class act. A calm, sensible, workmanlike guy, and the belt couldn’t be going to a better representative of the sport. And if his star continues to rise, we might even see the development of a Danny Garcia Baby Name Generator. The formula is:

[Parent’s Hometown] [Parent’s Nickname] 

My daughter would be

Sandiego Ghost (if we’re using my current hometown and old basketball nickname)

or maybe

Penticton Killer (if we’re using my hometown from age 2-11 and boxing nickname that people rarely used)

or maybe

Thousandoaks KingDave (if we’re using another old home of mine, and my BoFN nickname)

In any case, congrats to the happy Garcia family, and let’s hope we get to see Philly Swift Garcia as she grows up more.

Until then does anyone have any awesome “Danny Garcia Baby Name Generator” names?

Happy Monday, everyone!

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Funny Names in the News 115, With Laphroaig Scotch, Cookie Roof, Vontaze Burfict, and Ivo van Hove



Welcome to another fun-filled edition of Funny Names in the News, Number 115.  We’ll start off with an amazing comment spotted a while ago on the Facebook page of the delicious Laphroaig scotch. They said Laphroaig 18 was “Emphatic. Full-bodied and utterly unforgettable.” This is true. I just tried Laphroaig 18 recently and I whole-heartedly agree.

But then even better, a commenter named Cookie Roof made a quip, and got an awesome response from the Laphroaig team. Totally worth checking out if the graphic is high-resolution enough. Let’s hope it is!

On to the return of an old friend. The BoFN’s very own ROB!!!!!! returned to write a little blurb about the playoff games from last last-last weekend. Okay, I know I should have written this post on Friday. Such is life.

Rob says:

Vontaze Burfict, football bad boy who seemed ready to explode throughout last weekend’s wild Bengals/Steelers playoff game – and eventually did. Looked like a hero after he pulled off what looked like a game-sealing interception, (after which he proceeded to run to the locker room with the ball, just because) until he decided to go headhunting, nailing Steeler Antonio brown with a very late hit to the head. The vicious hit, which concussed Brown, cost Burfict’s team 15 yards at a crucial moment, and played a big part in the Bengals’ loss. Not the Burfict way to end your season. Burfict has since been suspended for three contests next season as a result of his actions.”

Great to have you back, bro!

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

Our old friend correspondent Arto brings us news about what he called “Headline of the year featuring an old friend” and it’s a doozy! The headline is “With his crab soufflé, Ed Balls shows how to overcome the ultimate rejection” which is as amazing a headline as I’ve ever seen. It doesn’t even need to have a double-meaning like those “U.S. Bill Deals Blow to Canadian Fishermen” headlines that we all enjoy and love. We’ve featured Ed Balls here before, and he’s always been popular. Hard to understand why.

Ground control to majorly cool hair!

Ground control to majorly cool hair!

On to people whose names are far-less-plausibly-real than even Ed Balls, our Strange Headlines in Facebook’s “Trending Stories” Feed correspondent Dave (me) brings us the update that the rapper ostensibly known as Blac Youngsta was detained outside a bank after withdrawing $200,000 from an Atlanta bank. I’m guessing some people interpreted the story as a racial profiling kind of thing, or something about the egregious salaries of entertainers. But hopefully he was detained for being SO RAD! That was another cool headline “Blac Youngsta Detained After Withdrawing $200,000 from Atlanta Bank.”


As you may have heard, the legendary David Jones… wait… that’s not a funny name… David Bowie (sorta funny) passed away recently, and left fans mourning all over Facebook. Plus, it led to Diddy’s Amazing Epic Rap Battle tribute last week. Bowie made it cool to be weird, and left us with a lot of fantastic memories in both the music and film worlds. As far as the funny names world goes, in a fascinating NYT retrospective about how his final album “allowed his art to deliver a final message” we were graced with the name Ivo Van Hove, who was the director of Bowie’s musical Lazarus, which would end up becoming one of the last parts of Bowie’s illustrious legacy.

And that’s it for this special Monday edition of Funny Names in the News. See you on the other side!




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