For those of you in the U.S. welcome back, we hope you enjoyed a great holiday weekend.
Last week, I experienced one of those epiphany moments of fabulous funny name finds. As Gru would say, “Light bulb”.
Sometimes bright ideas need illumination.
While I researched something else, I tripped over a name so delicious I couldn’t wait to share it with you. Meet Mopsy Strange Kennedy, from Boston, Massachusetts. Her name reads like a lyric from a song.
I discovered Mopsy while reading Kevin Leman’s “The Birth Order Book, Why You Are the Way You Are.” Kevin describes her as a family therapist, and a last born. “Only a last born baby of the family is likely to grow up, get a degree, become a therapist, and still keep a handle that sound like a nickname or pet label of some kind.” Yes, Kerbey, I really read a birth order book.
When I Googled Mopsy, 22,300 references scrolled across on my monitor. I surfed through the first five pages reading glowing thank you’s from former students who blogged about their experiences in her classes, book reviews she’d written, and references to parties she’d thrown.
Boston Magazine named her the 1976 Best Party, comparing her to Perle Mesta (American socialite, U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg (1949 to 1953), political hostess, subject of the Broadway musical Call Me Madam and potential future feature here at the BoFN). According to the article “Unlike most writers, Mopsy entertains frequently and well.”
Doesn’t this make you feel both writerly and nostalgic. And it won’t get hacked.
Mopsy teaches writing at Cambridge Center for Adult Education. I could not find a photo of her in the public domain. Here is a link to the Cambridge Center for Adult Education. She is the second photo from the top.
She’s written for the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and is a book reviewer for the Improper Bostonian.
For a last born she’s exceeded the expectations of her appellation quite nicely.
Happy Spring, dear readers, and καλως ΗΡΘΑΤΕ (kalos IRTHATE) to you! That’s Greek for welcome and entirely fitting for today’s funny-named Greek bouzouki player, Vassilis Tsitsanis.
Born and died on the same day of January 18th (1915 – 1984), Tsitsanis was a Greek songwriter (of over 500 songs) and founder of Rebetiko (Greek urban laika songs). One of the leading Greek composers of his time, he is remembered as an accomplished composer and bouzouki player.
Google Translate pronounces his name as Vah-seeltz Teets-a-neice. I have never met a Vassilis (Greek for Basil) in my time, but evidently there are several dozen famous Greek “footballers” who answer to Vassilis, so it is not an uncommon name. However, Tsitsanis went by his surname most of the time.
Interested in music from a young age, the Trikala-born youngster learned to play the violin, mandola, and the mandolin. However, art doesn’t often pay the bills, so he chose to pursue law in 1936 and made his way to Athens to study. By 1937, had added bouzouki (not to be confused with bazooka, the man-portable recoilless anti-tank rocket launcher weapon) to his list of instruments and made his first musical recording.
In 1938, he moved to Thessaloniki, where he stayed for several years serving in the military, during the German occupation of Greece. During that time, he opened an ouzeri (Greek tavern), married, and wrote many of his best songs. By the shut-down of the record companies by the German forces in 1941, he had already recorded about 100 of his own songs and played on recordings of other composers. He had begun making a name for himself.
“My fantasy fluttered about everywhere. I wrote songs about Greece, freedom, poverty, pain, injustice, hope, mother, unfulfilled love, and especially about the woman.”
A year after the war ended, Tsitsanis returned to Athens to record more compositions, which made many singers household names. He collaborated with Sotiria Bellou, Marika Ninou, Ioanna Georgakopoulou, and Prodromos Tsaousakis. Tsitsanis’s “westernization” of the rebetiko made it more accessible to the population, and his fame grew.
Following a lung operation, Tsitsanis died on his sixty-ninth birthday. He was mourned across Greece as a legend.
Fellow wordpress blogger, greeksongstories.wordpress.com recorded this high praise:
“The songs of Vasilis Tsitsanis are Greece itself” (Mikis Theodorakis).
“Tsitsanis was a small Christ of the people, who spoke into their soul regardless of education and social class” (Giorgos Dalaras).
“Tsitsanis is the Parthenon of our music” (Eleftheria Arvanitaki).
The painter Giannis Tsarochis went even farther by saying that “Tsitsanis is the only evidence that we have culture!”
Manos Hatzidakis highlighted the universality of his work, stating that Tsitsanis is the reincarnation of classical composers.
Greetings funny names fans. We are on a football roll here at the BoFN with our funny names in the 2017 NFL draft. Vote for your favorite name here. Polls close at noon E.D.T. today.
Rosey Grier. The man who put the manly into needlepoint.
In keeping with the football theme, let’s discuss Roosevelt “Rosey” Grier. Rosey’s football career started in 1955 when he joined the New York Giants as the 31st overall pick in the third round of the draft. With his 6’ 5” stature, I think Giants a perfect marriage of name and height.
He was traded to the Los Angeles Rams in 1966 playing as part of the “Fearsome Foursome” with Merlin Olsen, Lamar Lundy and Deacon Jones. Rosey played for three more years before a torn achilles tendon retired him from football.
*Destiny rubbed his hands together.*
After retirement Rosey hosted his eponymous TV show, the Rosey Grier Show, airing in Los Angeles—discussing community affairs.
His friendship with Bobby Kennedy cemented Grier’s place in history. Rosey served as a body guard for Kennedy when the young senator campaigned in Los Angeles in 1968. While guarding Bobby’s wife, Ethel, shots were fired by Sirhan Sirhan wounding and ultimately killing Kennedy.
Rosey ran toward the noise. A group of men, George Plimpton, Pete Hamill, and Rafer Johnson, tackled the gunman. Sirhan held the gun to Plimpton’s face and Rosey wrench the gun from Sirhan’s hands preventing more bloodshed. A crowd of angry bystanders charged Sirhan, one wrenching his leg. Rosey fought back the crowd preventing more violence. Sirhan is still serving a life sentence at Donovan Correctional Facility in southern California.
On a happier note in 1968, Rosey toured with Bob Hope’s USO tours. He enjoyed a recording career and became famous in the 1970’s for his non-traditional hobbies of needlepoint and macrame. He authored several books including “Rosey Grier’s Needlepoint for Men” in 1973.
Rosey’s acting career included commercials, movies, and TV roles from “The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “I Dream of Jeannie,” “Quincy, M.E.,” “Kojak,” “CHiPs,” on up to a voice guest in 1999 on “The Simpsons”.
The biggest change for the talented man came in 1983 when he became an ordained Presbyterian minister. Nowadays he travels the U.S. working as an inspirational speaker.
Rosey Grier, you’ve had quite a career. Can’t wait to see what you do next.
But that’s not all, on January 5, 2017, at the age of 84, he announced his candidacy to run for the Governor of the state of California.
“They certainly give very strange names to diseases.”–Plato
Polls are open. Scroll to bottom of post to vote.
Due to my discovery that the “OJ” in Alabama TE O.J. Howard’s name stands for O’Terrius Jabari, his name has been added to the poll, and voting has been extended to noon, Tuesday, May 2.
These guys are all destined for something. Bacon, maybe?
Obviously, they didn’t have football in Plato’s day. Maybe they had a funniest name in the ancient Olympics contest. Of course, most of those names look funny to us today.
But why discuss the past when we have the funny names of the present? It’s that time again–the time to honor (and ridicule) the funniest names in the 2017 NFL draft. This year provides and interesting mix and a veritable embarrassment of riches–there are so many unusual and even bizarre first names, alone, we could almost conduct a separate poll for that. Consider: Praise, Amba, Salamo, Jehu, Cethan, JuJu, Budda, Takkarist, Taco, Cordrea, Tanoh, Phazan, Amara, Fadol, Torrodney, Psalm, Pita and on and on and on. Yes, there’s a Taco and a Pita. I’m Hungry already.
As for last names, there are several that can only be described as a threat to your oral health if you try to pronounce them. To simplify things–if that is even possible–I’ve also gone for alliteration, mellifluousness or straight out style points in choosing the finalists. But write in votes are allowed and encouranged. Jaquiski Tartt won on a write-in two years ago. It was that double “t” that did it. As per tradition, I’ll also tell what I think the name sounds like, if it didn’t belong to a football player.
Jake Butt, TE, Michigan–Talk about nominative determinism: a tight end named Butt. Maybe you can make this stuff up; I sure can’t. He was headed towards a first round selection until he tore his ACL in the Orange Bowl. That’s OK, his butt is still intact. He’ll probably go in the third round or so. What I think his name sounds like: a longshoreman.
Cordrea Tankersly, CB, Clemson–Tankersly certainly scores low on the nominative determinism scale. With a name like that, he should have been an offensive tackle. That’s OK, he makes up for it by having one of the more mellifluous names in this year’s draft. It kind of rolls off the tongue. Hopefully the wide receivers won’t roll off his coverage. What I think his name sounds like: a guy doing 7-10 years at Leavenworth.
Taco Charlton, DE, Michigan–OK, so Taco is obviously a nickname. His real name is Vidaunte, which is unusual but not nearly as poetic. Using a nickname certainly didn’t stop Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix from winning our 2014 poll. So let’s go with Taco. What I think his name sounds like: a cartoon spokesperson for the South of The Border restaurant chain.
Tanoh Kpassagnon, DE, Villanova–You might have to visit your dentist if you try to pronounce this guy’s name. As he is 6’7″ 290lbs., you’ll be lucky if you have any teeth left if you piss him off. According to the NFL draft pronunciation guide it’s taw-no pass-N-yo. No nominative determinism here. With that pronunciation, he should either be a quarterback or an Indy car driver. What I think his name sounds like: somebody I’d be better off staying away from.
A non-football future for Cooper Kupp?
Cooper Kupp, WR, Eastern Washington–Proving that players from smaller schools can also hit the big time, in football and in funny names. He also wins the nod for the best alliterative name this year. What I think his name sounds like: a Texas ranger(the lawmen, not the baseball team).
Praise Martin-Oguike, LB, Temple–He’s is a long shot to get picked in the draft; it’s more likely he’ll be signed as an undrafted free agent. But I always like to include at least on double-barreled surname each year, and his is the best of the current crop. And as for Praise , it has to be the most narcissistic moniker for an athlete since minor league baseball player Wonderful Terrific Monds. What I think his name sounds like: a Baptist minister.
Honorable mention goes to all of the following–and you can write in any of them: Budda Baker, Channing Stribling, Tau Lotulelai (Star’s brother), Leo Koloamanangi, Phazahn Odom, Obi Melinfanwu, Amba Etta-Tawo, JuJu Schuster-Smith, Takkarist McKinley, Pita Taumoepenu and just about anyone and anything else you can spell or attempt to pronounce. Vote as often as you like. The polls close at noon EDT, Monday, May 1.
UPDATE, 8:51 AM,EDT, Friday, April 28.
Upon discovery that the O.J. in O.J. Howard (Alabama, TE) stands for O’Terrius Jabari, a late write-in campaign has been launched. Just use OJ Howard in the write-in blank, lest your fingers cramp from typing the whole name. What I think the name sounds like? How about and Irish wookie in Star Wars XIV? Suggestions?
UPDATE 10:19 AM, EDT, Saturday, April 29
O’Terrus Jabari Howard has been added to the ballot.