Funny Names in the News 93, with Sax-ophones and Giant Ovens!

Salutations everybody! It seems like it’s been ages since we had a Funny Names in the News, and perhaps that’s because it has. So thrilled to be back in the saddle again, to deliver your weekly dose of fantastic names, and all the news that’s unfit to print (but totally worth blogging!).

Mr. Sax, pictured with moustache, was totally our kind of guy!

Mr. Sax, pictured with moustache, was totally our kind of guy!

Leading off this week’s lineup, nothing says news like a person being born 200 years ago. Adolphe Sax, inventor of the Sax-ophone (get it?) would have celebrated his 200th birthday last week. Mr. Sax may no longer be with us, but he lives on through sexy sax solos and Kenny G!

Ultra fun fact: Adolphe didn’t just invent the saxophone. He also invented such orchestral staples as the saxotromba, saxhorn and saxtuba. I think we all long for the days when “musical instrument inventor” was a viable career choice. We need more Adolphe Saxes!

From tremendous cultural contributions to something a bit less wholesome, Funny Names HQ has gotten word that Oneal Ron Morris is a “Toxic Tush Doctor” (that’s a direct quote from the article) who is facing 100 years in prison for injecting illegal substances in people’s butt implants. I long for the day when “tush doctor” (toxic or innocuous) is not a viable career choice!

In showbiz news, the vaunted cultural institution that is TMZ has reported that Andy Dick has been arrested for “Grand Theft Necklace.” Apparently Andy Dick was bicycling around town when he saw a guy with a cool necklace, and asked if he could take a look at it. The guy, recognizing Andy Dick, said yes, and then Mr. Dick pedaled off with his plunder. The highlight of the article: TMZ fit in a wonderful pun, saying that the actor “allegedly pulled a Dick move.”

Moving on to sports: in women’s boxing news, Delfine Persoon won by 9th round TKO over Diana Prazak, retaining her WBC lightweight title. The fight happened in ZwevezeleWest-Vlaanderen, Belgium. Is it just me, or would you feel a tad uncomfortable calling a lady a “heavyweight” or perhaps even a “middleweight”? Especially one who could knock you out. I’m glad Persoon is a lightweight champ, for the sake of boxing writers everywhere!

In basketball news, Zaza Pachulia might have the best name in the NBA right now. What an amazing name!

Hayden Panettiere and fiance Wladimir Klitschko have a romance that is of otherworldly proportions!

Hayden Panettiere and fiance Wladimir Klitschko have a romance that is of otherworldly proportions!

Finally, the best headline I’ve seen all week (with original formatting left intact):


I’ve got a Klitschko


Seriously – that’s exactly what the article said! The story: famed actress Hayden Panettiere and her fiancee – world heavyweight champion (and one of the best heavyweight champs ever) – Wladimir Klitschko, are having a baby. The issue: 5’0″ Panettiere is carrying the baby of the 6’6″, 245 lb champ, so the proportions may be a tad out of whack. Still, that’s going to be an awesome kid, whatever size it ends up! Let’s hope they give the child an amazing Ukrainian-American celebrity baby name… something like Zaza Pachulia!

That’s it for today’s long-awaited FNITN. Enjoy your Friday, everybody!

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Ima Hogg, First Lady Of Texas

not kosher

not kosher

Chances are, if you don’t hail from the Lone Star State, you mightn’t have heard about this lovely lady. Ima Hogg (1882 – 1975), known as “The First Lady of Texas,” was a philanthropist and collector of arts and antiques. Yes, that was her real name. Bless her heart. And you can blame her parents, Sarah Ann “Sallie” Stinson and James Stephen “Big Jim” Hogg, Attorney General of Texas and later Governor. Her first name was taken from The Fate of Marvin, which her uncle Thomas Hogg penned, and featured two young women named Ima and Leila. What was wrong with Leila?

As it turned out, she never married and was saddled with that name for all of her 93 years. Yikes. She knew it was an odd name, and tried to downplay it, using stationery that read Miss Hogg or I. Hogg. Her brother William defended the unfortunate name on more than one occasion, coming home from school with a bloody nose. The oft-told rumor of her having a sister named Ura is untrue.

On the bright side, she was rich! Living in the governors’ mansion, she and her brothers would slide down the banisters, attend operas, and even threw together an impromptu circus on the grounds of the mansion, consisting of their many animals. After a dare from one of her two brothers, Hogg mounted one of their ostriches, but was thrown from its back after one of the boys hit it with a slingshot (per wikipedia). At the age of sixteen, Hogg joined her father in a visit to Hawaii, where they met Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani and attended the ceremony that delivered Hawaii to the United States.

After both of her parents passed away, she traveled to Europe in 1906 and spent two years studying music under Xaver Scharwenka in Vienna. Several years later, her father’s plantation struck oil and made her an even richer oil heiress. Thus began a life of philanthropy. Among her many accomplishments, she:

  • Founded the Houston Child Guidance Center, which provides counseling for disturbed children
  • Established the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health at the University of Texas at Austin
  • Helped establish the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.
  • Established the Houston Symphony Orchestra and served as president of the Symphony Society
  • Earned a seat on the Houston School Board in 1943, where she worked to remove gender and race as criteria for determining pay and established art education programs for black students
  • Donated her home with its collection of American antique furniture as well as rare paintings by Chagall, Picasso, Klee and Matisse to the Houston Museum of Fine Arts

She died from a heart attack while vacationing in London at the age of 93. The University of Texas declared two days of mourning and flew the flag at half-staff. Her butler-chauffeur of over 40 years, with the snazzy name of Lucious Broadnax, had to find a new gig.

Here she is in a white hat, holding the hand of her friend, Hazel Ledbetter, in Round Top, TX in 1970.

That’s a stylish Hogg.

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mollie katzen, good gollie

Question: Is a not particularly funny name funny if it is spelled unusually? I have not yet brought this query to the Blog of Funny Names Board (just kidding–no such thing), but I vote yes because it gives me license to write up a woman I admire.

First, a bit of background on why I care. Though a food science graduate, I knew nothing about cooking until post-college. Only after receiving a Betty Crocker cookbook for Christmas did I realize I wanted to be a food writer. While I’ve yet to publish a cookbook (one day!), I can legitimately claim food writing as part of my profession. (food for fun, anyone?) And I can legitimately say that I’m crazy about cookbooks.

Mollie then (photo credit to)

Mollie then (photo source: Vegetable Heaven)

Mollie now (photo credit: Simple Steps)

Mollie now (photo credit: Simple Steps)

Ms. Mollie Katzen has authored–and illustrated–some of the finest of the genre. With over 5 million books in print, Katzen is considered by The New York Times to be one of the best-selling cookbook authors of all time. Her focus on whole–and often vegetarian–foods led to Health Magazine naming her one of five “Women Who Changed the Way We Eat.” Her healthy food cred also earned her a position as founding member of the Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Roundtable and one of the first inductees into the Natural Health Hall of Fame.

the first of many

the first of many

Evidence of her talent: Katzen’s first book, Moosewood Cookbook, is a literary and artistic feat. Hand-written, illustrated, and locally published, this spiral-bound notebook was inspired by recipes served at Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, New York. Written in 1974, it went on to great fame: Several iterations and millions of copies later, it has become one of the most influential and beloved cookbooks of all time, earning a place in the James Beard Award Cookbook Hall of Fame as well as being coined a Cookbook Classic by the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Enchanted Broccoli ForestIts sequel, Enchanted Broccoli Forest (1982), was as beautiful as its predecessor and went on to sell over a million copies. Other books include Still Life with Menu (1988), Pretend Soup (1994), Vegetable Heaven (1997), and Honest Pretzels (2004).

A New York Times article describes Katzen as “one of those visionaries who have been rendered almost invisible because they succeeded in making the unheard-of commonplace.” Katzen is largely credited with moving healthful gourmet food from the fringe to the center of American dinner plates. Though long associated with vegetarian cuisine, Katzen claims no membership in the veg club. Instead she says,

My vegetarian thing was never about meat or not; it was a massive vegetable obsession.

And that, my friends, is what Blog of Funny Names is all about. We love obsessions and we love to highlight folks who make a career out of them. So while there are no board meetings, there is a lot of passion and enthusiasm. Many thanks for being a part of that today with your visit!   Seal_LLC (2)

Washington Irving And The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.

Chocolate-Espresso Dacquoise. German buttercream. Chocolate ganache. Meringue . . . Oh wait, I forgot where I was.

We’re supposed to be talking about funny names, that’s it, funny names. How about Washington Irving. First name? Last name? Both?

Washington Irving. "Ornamentally styled hair is but one of my many skills." He never said this, but he could have.

Washington Irving. “Ornamentally styled hair is but one of my many skills.” He never said this, but he could have.

Imagine if you will, your dad, William, saying to your mom, Sarah, “I don’t care how many kids we have, Sarah, the first one to live is named after me.” Apparently setting the standard for George Foreman.

Eleven children: William, Jr. the first, passed away, William, Jr. the second, passed away, William, Jr, the third, survived. John, solid name, but he passed away. Ann, she’s a keeper, Peter, now that’s a good name, Catherine, we’re going strong now, Ebenezer, okay maybe I shouldn’t have shared that one with Dickens, John Treat, treat—like Trick or Treat,  Sarah, finally one named after mom, and Washington, named after you guessed it, George Washington.

Little Washington was born in Manhattan, New York, shortly after the end of the American Revolution (1783).

With the help of a nanny, he got to meet his namesake in 1789. It helped President Washington lived in New York at the time.

His older brothers became successful merchants and supported their baby brother as he pursued his early writing career. An outbreak of yellow fever caused his family to send him up the Hudson River to a healthier climate. A town called Tarrytown. The next closest town—a Dutch settlement—Sleepy Hollow. You know where I’m going with this one. Just remember to look before you leap . . . conclusions optional.

After several other trips as a teenager traveling up the Hudson, he visited the Catskill Mountain region, of which he later wrote, “[O]f all the scenery of the Hudson, the Kaatskill Mountains had the most witching effect on my boyish imagination“. Giving birth to Rip Van Winkle. And other short stories showcased in The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent..

Look deep into my eyes and I'll bewitch you with the tale of Sleepy Hallow.

Look deep into my sultry eyes and I’ll bewitch you with the Tale of Sleepy Hollow.

Geoffrey Crayon, the first of many outstanding, funny pen names. He used Jonathan Oldstyle, Launcelot Langstaff, Will Wizard and my personal favorite, Diedrich Knickerbocker. Now you know who the New York Knicks are named after. And here I thought Ben Franklin’s pen name, Silence Dogood, was a corker . . . .

He became America’s first internationally best-selling author. He pushed for laws to protect American writers from copyright infringement. And he popularized the nickname “Gotham” for New York City.

*Batman waves at Irving.*

While living in England, he found out Mary Shelley (yes, Frankenstein’s Mary Shelley) had the hots for him. Nothing ever came of it.

For our Jane Austen fans in the audience, “. . . that it is usual with young ladies to reject the addresses of the man whom they secretly mean to accept, when he first applies for their favour; and that sometimes the refusal is repeated a second or even a third time. I am therefore by no means discouraged by what you have just said, and shall hope to lead you to the altar ere long.

The one woman he tried to marry allegedly took a year telling him no.

The man who coined the term, “the almighty dollar,” died on November 28, 1859. He is buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

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Gertrude Grubb and her powerful pension

Howdy doody everyone! I’ve been taking an “informal long weekend” after finishing a grueling Cardiology block on Munday (so grueling, in fact, that I spelled “Monday” that way the first time I typed it, and decided to leave it in for S&G). The nice thing is I’ll get a day off next week, thanks to Veterans Day – a day we celebrate all those who have served our country, and especially those who have given their lives.

Today’s featured person relates closely to that theme – a fantastic lady named Gertrude Janeway, who was born with the magnificent name Gertrude Grubb.

She first came to my attention when I was reading an awesome Cracked article about unusual comparisons from history, and saw this:

The last Civil War widow was alive when 50 Cent topped Forbes’ Richest Rappers list.

Considering the Civil War was from 1861-65, and 50 Cent was a chart topper when I was in high school in the early 2000’s, that factoid caught my eye.

So, I went on the computer*, and found out the truth:

Gertrude in her later years, with a photo from her early ones!

Gertrude in her later years, with a photo from her early ones!

Gertrude Grubb was a fine lady born in 1909 in Tennessee. When she was 16, she was courted by a 79-year-old Civil War veteran from the Union side named John Janeway. But it was totally cool and not creepy at all because Gertrude’s mother had a sense of propriety and forbade young Gert from marrying until age 18.

So when Gertrude turned 18, and John was 81, they probably convinced a dyslexic minister to marry them, thinking he was marrying two 81-year-olds and “dadgum, the women just keep lookin’ younger!” It’s understandable – if I were a minister and saw a marriage application like that, I’d think it must have been a typo and that two youngsters were swept away in the glory of young love (and hopefully not young divorce).

The two got married in 1927 in the middle of a dirt road, and moved into a log cabin in Blaine, Tennessee. As the wife of a Union soldier, Ms. Janeway received a $70 pension check every month from the VA. When John passed away in 1937 at the age of 91, Gertrude continued to live in the cabin until her death in 2003, aged 93. That $70 was worth a lot less in 2003 than in 1927, but Ms. Janeway (nee Grubb) is often used to illustrate the longevity considerations of pension commitments.

Maudie and William, in the days where you couldn't smile because photos took too long.

Maudie and William, in the days where you couldn’t smile because photos took too long.

We’ve covered old people on the blog before, and also old governmental legacies (our first post ever, and “Returned” to the theme in this one), but never a government commitment that ended up lasting 140 years.

Here’s the wacky thing…. Gertrude wasn’t even the last living civil war widow!!!!

That title belongs to Maudie Hopkins (nee Maudie Cecilia Acklin), who died at age 93 in 2008. The Arkansas native married an 86-year-old Confederate veteran in 1934. However, Arkansas caught on to the practice of young ladies marrying old pensioners, and forbade Maudie from receiving a widow’s pension after her husband’s passing.

In any case, you gotta admire Gertrude for her long-term financial planning!
*Until the end of time, whenever I use the phrase “I went on the computer,” I will think of Vin Scully’s awesome musing on Troy Tulowitzki’s mullet, and mullet being a type of fish. The link to Vin’s musing is at the bottom of Rob’s classic Fish Wars! post, and is totally worth the 2 minutes!

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