Oh, Snap, Osip

Alone I stare into the frost’s white face.  

On New Year’s Eve, I looked into the sky, and white flakes fell. Never had such a thing happened in all of my NYE’s. The dogs’ water bowls turned to blocks of ice. Never had I been forced to boil water in a kettle LIKE IT’S 1891 simply to make my dog’s water be water again. Is this global warming? Texas has forgotten how to Texas.

But Russia never forgets how to Russia. Russians spend every winter staring into the frost’s white face.

Alone I stare into the frost’s white face. Such is the first line of poetry from Osip Emilyevich Mandelstam, whom we will be profiling this winter’s morn. Oh, sip some coffee as we study his life. Who knew the name Emily was just an abbreviation for Emilyevich? Oy!

Back in 1891, when people routinely boiled water in kettles instead of microwaving mugs, little Osip was born in Warsaw. Fortunately, his parents were well-off, and he was sent to the swanky Tenishev School, where he tried his hand at poetry. His first poems were printed in 1907 in the school’s almanac.

Because he was privileged, he was able to enter the Sorbonne, which he left the next year. Because he was Jewish, he could not attend the University of Saint Petersburg. So he decided to not be Jewish and converted to Methodism instead. What?

In his 20th year, he and several other populist poets formed the Poet’s Guild, for which he wrote the manifesto. Have you ever written a manifesto? Osip was living the poet’s life, including falling for a Georgian princess named Salomea Andronikova and dedicating a poem to her called “Solominka.”

When you are trying to sleep, Solominka, in your enormous bedroom, and are waiting, sleepless, for the high and weighty ceiling to come down with quiet, heavy sorrow on your keen eyelids…

But Salomea did not bat a keen eyelid at Osip, and his ardor was unrequited! Perhaps he should have sung her name to the tune of “Dulcinea.” Salom-EA! Instead, he married a girl from Ukraine named Nadezhda Khazina. Listen how it rolls off the tongue. In 1922, they moved to Moscow, where he published a book of poems called Tristia. To pay the bills, he worked as a newspaper correspondent. But Russia was no land of the free, and Osip was inspired to write the poem “Stalin Epigram,” describing the climate of fear (not just frost) in the Soviet Union. He called Stalin the Kremlin Highlander.

His thick fingers are bulky and fat like live-baits, and his accurate words are as heavy as weights. Cucaracha’s moustaches are screaming, and his boot-tops are shining and gleaming.

Well, I don’t have to tell you that that did not go unnoticed. Osip was arrested, interrogated, and exiled to Cherdyn with his wife. He attempted suicide but failed, and eventually relocated to Voronezh. There, he wrote a collection of poems not attacking any Russian leaders. However, in 1937, the literary establishment  began accusing him of harboring anti-Soviet views. Soon Osip and Nadezhda received a government voucher for a vacation near Moscow, but oh, snap, Osip! There was no vacation to be had. Instead, he was arrested and charged with “counter-revolutionary activities.”

 Sentenced to five years in correction camps, those five years never came. Instead, he died in 1938 from cold and hunger at a transit camp. Thus, his own words were fulfilled: “Only in Russia is poetry respected, it gets people killed. Is there anywhere else where poetry is so common a motive for murder?”

Let us glorify the deadly weight

the people’s leader lifts with tears.

Let us glorify the dark burden of fate,

power’s unbearable yoke of fears.

How your ship is sinking, straight,

he who has a heart, Time, hears.

–from “Brothers, let us glorify freedom’s twilight”



Posted in Funny Author Names, Funny Names in Literature, humor | Tagged | 9 Comments

Happy 2018! Zoot Sims and Other Funny Jazz Names

Like a desiccated Christmas tree standing in the living room long after Christmas has come and gone, shedding its needles, gathering dust on its ornaments, lights unplugged, inert, incongruous, embarrassing, increasingly ridiculous, so does our seasonal Grinch reblog sit like a decrepit squatter at BoFN’s default top spot, like The Thing That Wouldn’t Leave. Post-Christmas, that’s sad enough. Post New Years, well, that’s just pathetic.

As I look around the BoFN circle, expectantly, hoping that someone, anyone, will clean that mess up, the collective silence wordlessly communicates its discouraging reply: “Don’t look at me, bud.”

The only way to “clean that stuff up” is to post something else. But no drafts are lined up in the queue, meaning that no-one, not even the indefatigable Fannie, is going to bail me out here. So, looks like it has to be me.

A squeaky inner voice urges,

Take courage! It can’t be that bad. With that long-winded intro you’re already 1/3 of the way there–assuming anyone even keeps track of the BoFN Word Count™ these days. And that’s maximum word count, bruh. Believe it or not, there is no minimum word count. Technically, all you need now is a funny name, a graphic, and a vaguely relevant caption.

OK, I’ll take my encouragement where I can get it.

Ladies and gents, I give you John Haley “Zoot” Sims:

Zoot Sims

The End

Uh, dude. When I said “technically” that’s all you need I didn’t mean stylistically that was going to suffice. Seriously. It’s got to at least approachBoFN standard.

So much for trusting that squeaky inner voice.

OK, then. Zoot Sims played with basically everybody in the jazz world it was possible to play with, including some forgotten players like (trigger warning here–no, really! I mean that literally) bassist Trigger Albert.

You can hear Zoot come in on sax at 1:08. I should mention that Herman “Trigger” Alpert, conforming to the delightful twists and turns typical of our BoFN subjects, eventually gave up music in 1970 and became a professional portrait photographer, which had been his personal passion.

Zoot passed on in 1985, just shy of 60, and was buried in Nyack, New York.

Kind of abrupt, bruh. You still got more than 100 words left.

What about that word count doesn’t matter thing, inner voice? I don’t know why I’m even listening to you any more.

Let’s just get through this. Almost there. Pretty soon that moldy old Christmas tree will be in the dumpster and we’ll have a fresh start for 2018!

(Sigh.) Our man Zoot also had a solo in one of the most arresting pop songs in history, “Poetry Man” by Phoebe Snow. Check Zoot coming in at 2:30:

But Zoot might best be represented playing with the other giants of jazz:

Doin’ good! 30 words left!

Shut up. I have to do the PSA for Dave.

D’oh. Carry on!

Happy New Year, everyone! Please consider a New Year’s offering to help our founder, Dave. Click on the icon below:

Posted in funny names in music, Uncategorized | Tagged | 7 Comments

Theodor Seuss Geisel a.k.a. Dr. Theophrastus Seuss, and a Merry Grinch Christmas Potpourri (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 . . .



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!

But our story’s not really quite over at all,
For we’ve got to get out and give King Dave a call,
Not to pound on his door but to lend him a hand!
Click the icon below and you’ll understand.

Posted in Uncategorized | 8 Comments

Louis Lasagna

We here at the BoFN love alliteration and names so delicious we can sink our teeth into them. We also know that schoolyard kids can be cruel, and that a funny name can cause a person to develop a special set of skills at an early age. Which is why we have the Nominative Determinism Theory of funny names. “. . . people with awesome names end up accomplishing awesome things!”

So let’s dive into today’s subject, fabulously named Louis Lasagna, known as Lou to his friends. You may not be familiar with Dr. Lasagna, but he is responsible for a number of advances in the way we look at medicine today.

Photo courtesy of the Lasagna Family.

Lasagna was born in Queens, New York, in 1923 and raised in New Brunswick, New Jersey. He was destined for great things. His resume reads like a who’s who of prestigious universities. Drum roll please . . .

He graduated from Rutgers University in 1943 then moved onto Columbia University for his medical degree. His next move involved a clinical research fellowship at Harvard Medical School researching anesthesia. By 1954, he joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins University and created the first ever clinical pharmacology department.

It was his testimony in 1962 which lead to the biggest single advancement of medical therapy of all time, specifying the criteria to prove a drug’s effectiveness and safety which was written into law. It was the first law of its kind and several other countries followed suit soon after.

But wait there’s more. He taught both pharmacology and medicine at Johns Hopkins until 1970 when he took a position at the University of Rochester’s School of Medicine and Dentistry. While there he founded the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development. In 1984 the center was moved to Tufts University and Dr. Lasagna with it. It was at Tufts he became the dean of the Sackler School of Graduate Biomedical Sciences. No clue if the school was named after a family member of our esteemed fellow blogger, Mark Sackler. Mark any input on that?

Getting back to Dr. Lasagna, he is best know for rewriting the Modern Physician’s Oath (The Lasagna Oath). If you want to compare it to the Hippocratic Oath.

Lasagna had a wonderful sense of humor. While living in Rochester he wrote, directed and starred in the “Mighty Lasagna Players” an annual theater production put on by the University of Rochester, Department of Pharmacology Medical and Toxicology faculty and students.

But his career didn’t stop there, he played a large role in creating controlled clinical trials and the placebo effect. His work was key to the improvement of controlled clinical trials for drug effectiveness and he helped improve the regulations on drugs with regard to their effectiveness and safety. He even headed several Federal commissions on drug approval.

Throughout his fifty-year career, he lectured extensively on a variety of topics he wrote about using his simple eloquence, his humanity, and his sense of humor.

Dr. Lasagna passed in August 6, 2003 from lymphoma.

The next time you have lasagna for dinner, toast the man who gave so much to our more holistic and compassionate approach to medicine today.

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

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Please consider supporting our founder, Dave, in his battle with brain cancer while he continues medical school to become a neurologist and help others battle the very thing he’s fighting.






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Siblings: Season and Whip

For some reason talented people with amusing names are drawn to Hollywood. Take Volodymyr Palahniuk who became Jack Palance and his portrayal of villains or Ethyl Merman who belted it out on Broadway and landed a fair few movie rolls along the way. But seldom do we meet a sister and brother whose stage names made me think of Fall and cool whip on apple pie. But I digress.

Season and Whip Hubley, two of the three Hubley children to change their names and head off to Hollywood.

Originally named Susan, Season, the older of the two Hubleys, was Kurt Russell’s first wife. They met on the set of the made for TV movie “Elvis”. Season played Priscilla Presley and Kurt the titular role.

They also had a small scene together in John Carpenter’s “Escape from New York”, where Season played the “Chock Full O’Nuts Girl”.

Together they had a wonderfully named son, Boston. Then divorced a few years later.

Their son, Boston, had some health issues. Season took some extended time away from Hollywood to take care of her son. Then she struggled to get back onto the map after Boston was back on his feet. Landing a three-year role on “All My Children” helped her get back in front of the camera.

Originally named Grant, Whip, is best know for his role as “Hollywood” in Top Gun.

Embed from Getty Images

He has enjoyed a long career in film and television. He married wonderfully named Dinah Minot, a former producer for Saturday Night Live.

And if rumors are true, he may be rejoining most of the original cast in the sequel, “Top Gun, Maverick”. Now that will be something to see.

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

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Please consider supporting our founder, Dave, in his battle with brain cancer while he continues medical school to become a physician.



Posted in funny names in movies | Tagged , , , , | 7 Comments