From the Annals of American Political History: Harry Baals and Wankard Pooser.

“I saw a snake having sex with a vulture and, I thought, it’s just business as usual in Washington, DC.”–Jarod Kintz

There may be plenty of snakes and vultures in Washington, DC,  but when it comes to flat out, upfront political lewdness, give me the good old American heartland.  Because the best political names–funny and lewd–are out there in the hinterland.  Consider these two, if you will.

Harry Baals.  Somebody in Ft. Wayne has a sense of humor.

Harry Baals. Somebody in Ft. Wayne has a sense of humor.

Harry William Baals–(b. Nov. 16., 1886, d. May 9, 1954), was the Republican mayor of Ft. Wayne, Indiana from 1934-1947 and from 1951 until his death in 1954.

The obvious double entendre on  Baals name has been a source of much consternation in his home town.   In the more innocent Ozzie and Harriet climate of the 1950’s, Harry Baals Drive was named after him.  It has since been renamed H.W. Baals drive.   That’s a shame, but it’s still funnier than George H.W. Bush drive.  (There has to be a Bush and Baals joke in there someplace, but you figure it out.)

More recently,  in 2011,  the city of Fort Wayne held an online vote to name its new government center, and the public overwhelmingly voted for The Harry Baals Government Center–in fact, more then ten times as many votes as any other name.   The horrified city fathers reneged on the contest and simply named the building Citizen’s Square.  But perhaps the worst slight to the memory of this great man–or at least to his great name–is that his ancestors have taken to pronouncing Baals as Bales.  That’s downright un-American.  They will all be blacklisted immediately on The Blog of Funny Names.

At any rate,  Baals died from a kidney infection during his final term in office.  You can only surmise if it might have been brought on by scratching–well, you know.

Wankard Pooser–(b. Sept. 27, 1893, d. Feb. 22, 1978), was a firebrand in the Florida state legislature in the 1940’s.  Pooser was elected to the first of his two terms in 1945, apparently on the merits of his sole campaign promise, which was to vote against every single bill put before the legislature while in office.   He lived up to that promise in his first term, though that did not stop him from introducing a bill, which was a proposal for an amendment to the state constitution to abolish the legislature.   He suggested that by transferring all of the legislature’s powers to the governor, much time and money would be saved.  You’ve got to love a politician who proposed to outlaw politicians!  Unfortunately for Pooser, the amendment went nowhere, as did his subsequent political path.  In his second term he broke his “all no votes” promise–just one single time–and promptly lost his seat when he ran for a third term.  Undeterred, he attempted a comeback in 1952.  He lost.  One can only conclude that his given name appropriately described his career.  (If you don’t get it,  look up the definition of the British slang term “wank.”)

it seems that the national Republican party of that era missed out on one of the greatest photo ops of all time.  If these two had been at the top of their 1948 presidential ticket, that famous newspaper headline might have read Wankard and Baals defeat Truman!

dewey truman

 

More of my silliness occasionally appears on The Millennium Conjectures.

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Wubbo Ockels – in Space!

We’ve covered many fine Dutch names on this blog before, from Cornelius Drebbel to Kees A. Schouhamer Immink and Guus Hiddink. But today’s subject may just have the best name of them all.

Wubbo Ockels.

Yes, you read that right. This marvelous name belonged to the Dutch physicist and astronaut, who for one thing held the distinction of being the first Dutchman to visit space. This may also qualify him to enter the race for Funniest Named Person to Visit Space, right up there with Buzz Aldrin and Ham the Chimpanzee.

Wubbo Ockels, seen here posing with a phallic object.

Wubbo Ockels, seen here posing with a phallic object.

Ok, Wubbo is clearly the best name ever to visit space.

Born in March of 1946 in the Netherlands, young Wubbo had his PhD in Physics and Mathematics by the time he was 32 , doing experimental work at the Nuclear Physics Accelerator Institute. This to me sounds like the setup of all of those comic book heroes who are exposed to gamma rays or something and suddenly have the ability to lift large buildings or turn any object into potato chips.

Wubbo, however, never did have a gamma accelerator accident, and instead was eventually selected by the European Space Agency for their astronaut training program. Or programme, as they may well prefer it. His dream of space travel came true in 1985, rocketing out of the Earth on the  STS-61A Challenger. Clearly they never named the spaceships quite as catchily as the astronauts.

Wubbo Ockels took this fantastic look into space in 1985. Simply dashing.

Wubbo Ockels took this fantastic look into space in 1985. Simply dashing.

The International Astronomical Union later found his name as great as we do, and named a small planetoid in his honor, the 9496 Ockels orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Go ahead and pay it a visit next time you have some vacation time. I hear it’s nice and quiet out there.

In his later years, Mr. Wubbo Ockels continued to sport his fine mustache, and taught aerospace engineering at the Delft University of Technology in his native Netherlands. He was also intimately involved in the development of super-fast public transport technology called Superbus, as well as some very promising energy harvesting systems referred to as Airborne Wind Energy. In short, Wubbo Ockels was one smart, awesome dude.

Celebrating Phyllis Diller, Shoni Schimmel Shining, and Lots More in FNITN 90!

Hello Funny Names Fans! We have a stacked pile of funny names goodness this week, so read on through for your weekly dose!

We start with delightful news from Alameda, CA, who last Saturday held a special city-wide Phyllis Diller Day! Now that’s an event worth a mention. The Alameda Museum, curated by Ron Ucovich, had a special Phyllis Diller celebration in the comedienne’s honor. One of the creators of the event is called Dorinda von Stroheim, which is also a name suitable for this blog. We commend everyone involved for the efforts in setting up this special day, and hope to perhaps attend next year.

Perhaps.

The article above is great by the way, and it will also teach you that Mrs. Von Stroheim is part of a ladies’ group “who enjoy dressing up in vintage outfits and dining together at restaurants that opened before the 1970s”. This is a group that gets my full approval.

Elsewhere, local Dutch politics! Pieter Broertjes, the mayor of Dutch town Hilversum, got into a bit of hot water, and I ain’t talking about no jacuzzi, when he called for Vladimir Putin’s Holland-residing daughter to be deported from the country. He later apologized, but at least he earned himself a mention on the Funny Names Blog! Hooray!

This lovely radio and television museum is located in Hilversum, the Netherlands. Pay a visit sometime!

This lovely radio and television museum is located in Hilversum, the Netherlands. Pay a visit sometime!

In the world of sports, “Showtime” Shoni Schimmel shone in the WNBA all-star game the other night, scoring 29 points to lead the East team to a 129-128 win over rivals West. Cappie PondexterTamika Catchings, and Skylar Diggins also featured. A nod of the head to our Tall Women Throwing Balls Correspondent Dave!

Beautiful story now from Seattle, where the local MLS soccer team Seattle Sounders made a lovely gesture in putting 18-year-old Xander Bailey, who has cystic fibrosis, in their starting lineup in an exhibition game against London-based Tottenham Hotspur. The kid started the game with help from the Make-a-Wish foundation, getting to play for his favorite team in front of 55,000 spectators. Lovely, lovely story there. Thanks to our Make-a-Wish-and-He’ll-Nod-Understandingly Correspondent Dave for that one!

Meanwhile, in Lexington County, South Carolina, outgoing superintendent Dr. Venus Holland has found a replacement. His name is Tom Siler, meaning the funny name rating for the county is unfortunately going to have to be downgraded. Our congratulations to the new superintendent regardless.

Back to sports, where the Ottawa Senators have signed magical-limbed forward David Legwand to a two-year contract.

Over to disease spread news! Interestingly named mosquito-bite-caused disease Chikungunya, which means “bent over in pain” in the Makonde language, is apparently something you really don’t want. They should probably name more diseases this way, I really think it would help people avoid certain activities much more than some obscure greek or latin based disease names. I certainly would never want to have “poop water for twelve days”, “like a constant stab in the chest”, “ultimate mucus challenge”, or “it hurts a lot to pee”. Right? Let’s get on it, educators!

Odrisamer Despaigne reaching out for a hanging ball.

Odrisamer Despaigne reaching out for a hanging ball.

Back to sports. Over to you, San Diego Parents Correspondent Dave! “On Sunday, Padres rookie Odrisamer Despaigne was 4 outs away from throwing the first no-hitter in Padres history. His two-hit, one-run performance brought his ERA down to a ridiculous 1.31 (the national league average ERA is 3.68)”. Pretty cool!

Dave is also our Hippity Hop Correspondent, and luckily had something to share from that world as well this week. Thanks Dave! He tells us that rapper Meek Mill has unfortunately been sentenced to 3 to 6 months of jail time. Details are scarce, but apparently a local judge felt his behavior while out on probation was “of concern” and so Mr. Mill has ended up in jail. We wish him a speedy return to the world at large.

To finish with more positive hip hop news, Ghanaian rapper Jayso has said that musicians should “look beyond money” in their choice of musical direction. We commend Jayso for taking a stand for people doing what they love.

See you next week! We have some really cool names lined up for next week, so be sure to come back!

 

 

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Colin Ferguson: the one where we (almost) didn’t talk food

Hello, Blog of Funny Names fans and welcome to this month’s Funny Names in Food post. It’s time to come clean: It’s getting harder to find funny food names. Despite what King Dave says, there just aren’t that many funny names (of interest, anyway) in the food world. The entertainment industry? Oh man, they’re all over. And sports? Pshaw–everywhere (especially boxing, right Dave?). Our music expert, Diddy, has found numerous funnily named individuals on Yoot Oob. (He came to BoFN because of his obsession with Caroline Charonplop Kyary Pamyu Pamyu–how can I top that?)

So. I almost pulled an amb and went on about an actor (!) in a new-found TV favorite. Sci fi fans have known about Eureka for ages as it went off-air only a few years ago. But I just recently stumbled upon it and have gone head-over-in-heels crazy in love with the show. A bit Dr. Who, it’s based more on reality (read: no aliens) and is full of suspense, romance, laughs, great special effects, twisty-turny jaw-dropping storylines, and beautiful people.

looking good, Sheriff Carter

looking good, Sheriff Carter

Hunky Sheriff Jack Carter, played by Colin Ferguson, struck me as a potential funny names candidate, so I ALMOST told you that he’s a Canadian-born actor. I almost shared that he grew up in Montreal, Hong Kong, England, and Connecticut and has Canadian, British, and American citizenship. Perhaps I might have noted that his time in Montreal gave him a good handle on that French language, so our Mr. Ferguson is bilingual. Just shy of six feet, he totally qualifies as that “tall drink of water” women tend to swoon over. (Though happily married, I still swoon over Mr. Ferguson myself.)

from starpulse.com. Hubba. Hubba.

from starpulse.com. Hubba. Hubba.

Had I decided to venture outside of my food world here, I’d have mentioned that Mr. Ferguson was once a member of the Montreal improv group, On the Spot. His professional acting roles include appearing in films alongside Christina Ricci, Lisa Kudrow, and Lyle Lovett (The Opposite of Sex) and Diane Keaton (Because I Said So). (Though I wasn’t so keen on checking out his appearance in Lake Placid 3–eek!) He also had that lead in Eureka and was guest presenter for sci-fi news show HypaSpace. (Had I told you this last bit, though, I wouldn’t have known of what I spoke as outside of Dr. Who and Eureka, I don’t know sci fi.)

In what seems a strange–albeit extremely profitable–move, Mr. Ferguson was chosen as the latest (and decidedly hottest) Maytag repairman. He’s actually quite entertaining in these commercials (watch them here–seriously, do) and I’m thrilled to have finally found a food connection for Mr. Ferguson. (Maytag=refrigerators=food. Yes?) This means I do not have to scrap all that I’ve written and hunt down that increasingly elusive funny name in food. My work here is done–phew! Enjoy Mr. Ferguson and I’m off to start hunting down next month’s name.

 

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Tippi Hedren

Astute, long-time readers of this blog may know that I have taken a liking to the show Cougar Town, which sounds about as far from the viewing habits of a 20-something male as possible.

Or does it… I still can’t figure out if young guys are supposed to be really attracted to cougars or a bit put off? How does this cougar thing work? Is the idea that cougars act and dress younger and work their magic through deception, or is the idea of a “forbidden fruit” what makes them so alluring to young males?

That last sentence makes me feel like Chandler Bing saying “If I were a guy…

Actors really had to earn their stripes back in the day!

Actors really had to earn their stripes back in the day!

But that’s me straying from my show of choice today, which is the delightful Cougar Town, created and written by the great Bill Lawrence (of Scrubs fame), and starring some of my favorite actors including Christa Miller, Courteney Cox, Busy Philipps, and Bob Clenendin (with cameos by Sarah Chalke and some of my favorite Scrubs actors).

A while back, I was watching the awesome Season 4 finale of Cougar Town, Jules’ father Chick wanted nothing more than to share a dance with a legendary screen starlet, Tippi Hedren.

Tippi Hedren. Tippi!

Though it’s not Nathalie Kay Hedren’s real name, it is the one she has used her entire life, ever since her Scandinavian father gave her the nickname “Tippi” because he thought her birth name was too long for a baby. A guy from the land of Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson thinking the name “Nathalie” was too long? To each one’s own, I suppose.

Tippi with a very trippi towel! And don't you fondly remember the days when Stuart Symington was a major Democratic Candidate?

Tippi with a very trippi towel! And don’t you fondly remember the days when Stuart Symington was a major Democratic Candidate?

In any case, Tippi went on to have a successful modeling career throughout the 50’s and 60’s, including an appearance on the cover of Life magazine.

Later on, while watching her ad for the diet drink Sego,  was “caught by the jaunty throw of her head and white hair” and paid $25,000 for her to do a screen test.

Later on, after jumping through some weird Hitchcock hoops (like making her surround her name with single quotes), Alf cast ‘Tippi’ in the title role of The Birds, and her career took off. The performance earned Tippi her only Golden Globe in the first credited role of her career, and she went on to star in films such as Marnie and A Countess from Hong Kong, and appear in movies for another 50 years, with such films as I Heart Huckabees and Citizen Ruth.

A youthful 84, Tippi still acts today, and her performances in Raising Hope and Cougar Town brought her the attention and admiration of a young funny names lover and newly-enshrined Tippi enthusiast.

Tippi today, still rockin'

Tippi today, still rockin’

When not gazing at her star on the Walk of Fame, Tippi remains involved in Shambala Preserve, an 80-acre wildlife settlement she founded in the early 80’s.

And, according to NPR, Tippi was also instrumental in helping spread the influence of Vietnamese-American nail salons in the United States. So stick that in your pipe and smoke it! As an international relief coordinator for Food for the Hungry, some Vietnamese women took a liking to Tippi’s long, shiny nails, and she invited them to meet a stylist friend of hers, which helped launch the careers of some prominent manicurists, including Thuan Le.

Le later recounted:

“[Hedren] said, ‘I trained you to become a very special manicurist, not just plain manicurist … because you make more money.’ “

Not too shabby, tabby!

Tippi making Chick swoon on Cougar Town! Go Tippi!

Tippi making Chick swoon on Cougar Town! Go Tippi!

 

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