Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou aka Vangelis

May 17, 2022 marked the passing of an unobtrusive modern musical giant, Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou, better known as Vangelis.

A private man who almost never gave interviews, he had an amazing and continually active musical career. For starters, if you watched movies in the 80s you will recognize his theme music for Chariots of Fire:

There’s a mixed message in that video, with Evángelos taking that casual but satisfying pull from the cig before laying down some piano, meanwhile, all that physical activity going on in the background. But that was the 80s, and we didn’t care! Does anyone else miss the Golden Age of Smoking?

For me, the Vangelis classic will always be the opening of Blade Runner:

Suddenly, going to the movies would never be the same again. Come to think of it, that flick also had an impressive amount of ambient indoor smoke.

NPR’s obituary for this musical visionary offers a good thumbnail:

Vangelis was born Evangelos Odysseas Papathanassiou in the Greek town of Agria. He was a self-taught musician who became a young piano prodigy. Then he moved to Paris and co-founded the popular prog-rock group Aphrodite’s Child. The band eventually split and Vangelis got a solo record deal with RCA Records.

In 1981 he composed the score for Chariots of Fire. Its opening theme, with its uplifting inspirational swell and ornate arrangement, was released as a single and reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100. His efforts earned him a win for best original score at the Academy Awards.

The success led him to other film work. Notably, he composed the soundtrack for the original Blade Runner, as well as Carl Sagan’s PBS documentary series Cosmos.

The notice in The Guardian has more detail, including the fact that it was his concept album 666, based on the Book of Revelation, that caused Aphrodite’s Child to split up. Whatever band members felt about the concept, I kind of like the track “Aegian Sea”:

The Aegean Sea includes Patmos, where St. John the Evangelist had the vision recorded in the Book of Revelation. So, was it just a coincidence that Vangelis’s name was Evángelos? Speaking of which, his other name (also the name of his dad) is Odysséas, which is also prophetic:

Fascinated by space exploration and science, he also composed a score for Stephen Hawking’s memorial at Westminster Abbey in 2018. His final studio album was Juno to Jupiter (2021), named after Nasa’s Juno spacecraft.

So, I hearby invoke my contribution to Funny Names Theory, “The Thelonious Monk Self-Description Prescription Prediction,” which states:

The funny birth name of a creative innovator predicts the key characteristics of the creative innovator’s creative innovation.

I think my humble theorem applies to the great Evángelos Odysséas Papathanassíou as well as it does to the incomparable Thelonious Sphere Monk.

That being said, I can’t do anything with Papathanassíou. So, on that discordant note, I’ll wrap up this post.

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Dizzy Gillespie and Chano Pozo: Jazz Bromance

Happy New Year, folks! I wanted to send out 2021 and usher in 2022 with another music post. And also bump that perennial Christmas schtick off the top, because it always gets moldy about this time.

Thus, we now encounter the musical giants John Birks “Dizzy” Gillespie and Luciano Pozo González, better known as Chano Pozo. It’s a legendary meeting of musical minds.

In this fantabulous documentary Latin Music USA we learn how Afro-Cuban rhythms established the heartbeat of Latin music and, transplanted to New York City, became a driving force across multiple musical genres. Here’s a segment:

From the 11 minute mark we meet two guys whose collaborative innovations re-shaped both jazz and Latin music and left an immortal legacy. Dizzy Gillespie, trumpeter, hipster, jokester, composer, arranger and bandleader, was of course a driving force in bebop. But, he was getting sick of the sameness of jazz rhythms.

Dizzy Gillespie

Because of previous work with Afro-Cuban bands, Dizzy asked a former bandleader for intervention for his upcoming Carnegie Hall concert. Cuban conga players were starting to come to New York City, and Dizzy wanted to add someone to his band who played “those tom toms.” He was then introduced to Chano Pozo, another recent arrival from Cuba.

Chano had already been a legend in Cuba. He had a larger than life reputation as singer, dancer, showman, ladies man, bodyguard, street fighter, percussionist, master of Carnival and composer. He was a folk hero to Havana’s poor and downtrodden because of his accomplishments and irrepressible personality. He had written “La Comparasa de los Dandys” which is still a Carnival standard. Chano was also a ranking devotee of Santería, a mystical syncretistic religion that developed in Cuba.

Dizzy and Chano

Chano’s appearance with Dizzy’s band at Carnegie Hall was a mad sensation and Dizzy asked Chano to join the band, somewhat to the dismay of bandmates who were more than a little intimidated by Chano, and not necessarily enthusiastic about the new musical hybrid he brought with him.

Tragically, Chano was shot to death about a year later in a bar, at the age of only 33. The altercation started when he complained about the quality of some dope he’d been sold.

So, the amazing collaboration between Dizzy and Chano ended way too soon, but not before some tremendous work and recording, most notably Chano’s composition “Manteca,” a standard which never dates.

Dizzy never stopped talking about Chano and is said to have called him the greatest drummer he ever knew. “Manteca” lives on as a standard which many Afro-Cuban bands have to try their chops on. Here is a great version by Chicas de la Habana.

Afro-Cuban rhythms continued to intertwine both jazz and Latin music, including the Salsa revolution in New York City in the 1970s. The rhythms also exploded onto the rock and roll scene through Santana‘s famous debut at Woodstock.

Anyways, that’s all I got. Happy New Year to all!

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Merry Grinchmas! (Seasonal Reblog)

In the good land of BoFN when Christmas drew near
Folk were having . . . not quite universal good cheer.
For in fact, there was one . . . er, his name we can’t say . . .
Whud Id Fah? Whud Yuhd Fee? Or, Why Diddy Fay?
But in all BoFN towns and in each BoFN city
The BoFNites chose to just call him . . .

Diddy
Diddy

Now in Diddy’s hard, cold, little bristly brain
There bounced back and forth only one tired refrain.
“This name waste must stop! Stop wasting those names!
No, no, no! Don’t you waste! No more name wasting games!
Funny names are a rare, irreplaceable treasure!
Don’t waste them, I say! They are rare beyond measure!”

And so it went on, and then on, and on more
Until BoFNites marched to bang on the king’s door.
“Tell this Diddy to cease! Tell this Diddy to hush!
But don’t you stop there: tell this Diddy ‘Shush! Shush!'”

So King Dave rolled his eyes and paid Diddy a visit.
And he said, “Look here, Diddy! This isn’t keen, is it?
This pouting and shouting and spouting–not good!
The real estate’s tanking in each neighborhood.”

“Look around you! These names are not really so rare!
They are here! They are there! There are names everywhere!
You see, Diddy, funny names DO grow on trees
And on bushes and twigs and from pods of green peas.”

Now, according to custom, a Scrooge-ish conversion
Takes many long scenes in a good movie version,
And many a page in a fine children’s book,
And that is indeed how long Diddy’s took,
But we’ve got strict word limits so we’ll jump on ahead
And show, not old Diddy, but the new one instead.

“King Dave, you are right!!! How could I be so wrong?!?”
Diddy said (and we promise this change did take long).

“There are funny names here, and funny names there!
Why, there’s one on the porch, and on the third stair!
Yes, finding these names is not hard! It’s a cinch!
Look, here’s Cindy Lou Who, Mayor Maywho, and Grinch!
Cindy Lou lives in Whoville and Grinch on Mt. Crumpit,
And he tore down its slopes blaring blasts from a trumpet!”

Thus Diddy expounded, his arms stretched aloft.
“Oh, and Grinch had a song sung by Thurl Ravenscroft!”

“Now you doubters who gasp, to your total surprise’ll
hear Theo LeSieg, Theodor Seuss Geisel
A.k.a. Theophrastus, our own Dr. Seuss!
(Who drew the green eggs with a car and caboose)!
And our Seuss had a publisher named Bennett Cerf,
And though it’s off topic, this thing’s called a Smurf!

Well, the BoFNites marched to King Dave’s house once more.
“Stop this Diddy!” they cried. NOW HE’S WORSE THAN BEFORE!!!

So, we hope that our tale gave you some small delight,
We’ll end here and wish you a good Christmas night!

Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas!
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SLAM DUNKING WITH OVERTIME

Hello, and welcome to our holiday hoops edition at The Blog of Funny Names! Today, we highlight some of the best and most creative names in the newly-formed basketball academy called Overtime Elite. Catering to young men aged 16-18, the academy helps prepare them for professional basketball careers while offering courses in financial literacy as well as mental health. As an incentive, according to boardroom.tv, players receive no less than $100,000 per year, receive healthcare, may profit off their names and images, and can forego the traditional college route entirely. Who would turn that down? Not these guys.

So let’s get a handle on these ball-handlers. The roster of Overtime Elite athletes includes 27 players, of which I offer 10 for your perusal:

  1. Tudor Somascescu, born in Romania, where he played in the national team. Tudor can mean “king” and is a variant of Theodore. I bet you’ll never come across a Tudor in your neck of the woods!
  2. Kok Yat, with whom ye should not quarrel, as he stands 6’8″. His name is curt and to the point, and so much fun to say!
  3. Johned Walker, not to be confused with Scotch whisky Johnnie Walker. While Walker originates from Puerto Rico, Johned does not seem to be a common name there. One wonders why he isn’t simply called John Ed. Perhaps that’s too Deep South?
  4. Three J’s: Jahzare, Jazian, and Jai. This could get confusing when the coach calls your name.
  5. De’Vontes Cobbs. Now, we’ve seen in other athletic posts on this page, many L apostrophes and D apostrophes, meaning “of the” and “the” respectively, if they were actually French in origin, which they rarely are. So one cannot assume by linguistics that Mr. Cobbs’s name implies that he is of the Vontes. In fact, there exists no such thing as a Vontes. And I contend that there exists no other De’Vontes either.
  6. Izan Almansa, the power forward from Spain. A variant of Ethan, the name Izan has been popular in Spain since the 1990s, a decade in which none of these young men were alive.

Lastly, we end with a pair of twins. No, not Ryan and Matt Bewley, whose names could never score points on this blog, but Overtime’s second set of twins, the Thompson Twins, straight out of Florida. If you are a Gen Xer, the British trio called the Thompson Twins (who were neither Thompsons nor twins) may come to mind. But these Thompson brothers are named Amen and Ausar. Ba-bam! Mom was creative on both counts. Can I get an Amen? We expect good things from these twins, and will likely see them in the pros one day.

To all the young men of Overtime Elite, we congratulate you on your accomplishments and wish you all the best in your future sports careers. But most of all, we thank you for your interesting monikors.

giphy.com
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I Dare Say D’Orsay

Y’all, I watch a lot of Hallmark movies. Every new movie on Saturday at 8pm, I am there. And while I am very aware that Candace Cameron Bure is the queen of Hallmark, and that Lacy Chabert is the princess, I contend that Brooke D’Orsay is Miss Christmas, as she was labeled in the movie of the same title. In it, her job was to find the perfect Christmas tree, bold and grand, the opposite of a Charlie Brown Christmas tree. Here she dons one of many colorful Hallmark film jackets, probably during a warm summer shoot in Vancouver, surrounded by fake snow and empty mugs of what is purported to be hot chocolate.

Pinterest

But it is not the jacket I covet. Nay! Hands down, it is her covetable hair. Thick and lustrous and long. Almost like a flowing horse’s mane, which is exactly what her last name brings to mind. The hubs and I have referred to her as Brooke D’Horsey, as it’s easier to say. Let’s take a moment to enjoy some stock footage. I only wish this were an Appaloosa, which rolls off the tongue!

If you say it quickly, it almost sounds like Divorcee, which she is not. What D’Orsay is is Huguenot. Also fun to say.

I do admit that her coif is not always on point, as in the Dumpling Paradox in 2007’s Big Bang Theory, but such was the intention. It still looked better than Penny’s drastic post-wedding pixie cut. On that, we can all agree. D’oh! I mean, D’ohhhrrsay.

In Miss Christmas, she stars with Fiona Vroom, another splendid surname. It invites you to say it twice, perhaps while playing with Hot Wheels cars. And speaking of cars, the movie Cars has a character named Mater, voiced by Larry the Cable Guy. Hallmark does them one better with an actor named Niall Matter. Yes, Matter, pronounced precisely as the tow truck. And while Niall Matter sounds very Southern and good old boy (and like a tomato, frankly) Niall himself is actually a third-generation Canadian oil rigger.

But he’s not the only Hallmarkian with an interesting name. We have twists on names, such as Kavan instead of Kevin, Brendan instead of Brandon, and Kristoffer instead of Christopher (who starred in another Hallmark movie with the Marvelous Meghan Markle, crowned with her own rhyming title of Duchess of Sussex, though her sister has dissed her as DUCHASS). Oh, snap.

But back to Brooke. D’Orsay is actually a derivative of D’arcy, Darcy, Dorcey, Dorcy, and Dorsey, which means that Jane Austen’s (who really should be Austin) Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice is essentially a D’Orsay himself.

But what even IS a D’Orsay? Glad you asked. It’s actually a shoe or slipper made with a circular vamp and a quarter that curves to meet the vamp at the shank line. That sounds like a rollicking murder mystery, no? The Vamp at the Shank Line…

Sexy, no? Just like Brooke’s hair. Of course, it’s also the name of a museum in Paris filled with old French art. And the middle name of Charles Dickens’ son. You don’t say! But none of them is as fair or shares the hair as enviable as Brooke “Miss Christmas” herself.

giphy.com
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