Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe aka Jelly Roll Morton

My pop introduced me to early jazz through his large collection of 78s. From those thick, heavy, swiftly spinning disks emerged the crackling sounds of such greats as Thomas Wright “Fats” Waller,

Bessie Smith, known in her day as Empress of the Blues,

and of course, Louis Daniel Armstrong, otherwise known as Pops, Satch, or Satchmo.

These giants of jazz and blues present a pretty normal array of names, especially if you take away the nicknames. But the jazzman that stacked up highest (literally) in my dad’s 78 collection was none other than Jelly Roll Morton, born Ferdinand Joseph LaMothe.

According to some, especially himself, Jelly Roll’s contribution was so fundamental to jazz that he invented it. That’s a big claim, but there seems to be some justification, and even if people in the know about jazz history don’t exactly endorse that line, they don’t really seem to dispute it. Jelly Roll developed some of the first, maybe the first, and definitely the most prolific early jazz arrangements.

I can’t verify this for myself, but Dad told me that when Jelly Roll made his famous Library of Congress recordings, he opened with the following words:

Jazz started in New Orleans, and I will no doubt show you how it was played.

That definitely sounds like Jelly Roll: arrogant, confident, whimsical, mock pedantic. The Library of Congress recordings are a real treat, anyway:

Jelly Roll was born of Creole parents and was a native of New Orleans. As a teenager, he started singing and playing piano in a house of ill repute, called a “sporting house.” (The house musician was called a “professor.”)

When my grandmother found out that I was playing jazz in one of the sporting houses in the District, she told me that I had disgraced the family and forbade me to live at the house. … She told me that devil music would surely bring about my downfall, but I just couldn’t put it behind me.

A lot of jazz emerged from such sporting houses, and the word jazz itself, like “rock and roll,” was at one point a slang term for . . . the . . . uh . . . act of . . . er . . . carnal . . . um . . . information acquisition. “Jelly roll” itself was a slang term that had certain . . . er . . . connotations of an . . . uh . . . anatomical nature. At any rate, Jelly Roll may have changed his last name to Morton in order not to bring further disgrace upon the family.

Jelly Roll was playing, writing and publishing before the emergence of the recording industry. He toured extensively, and stationed himself in various music hubs including Vancouver, Chicago, New York, and Washington. In Washington, he was the victim of a knife attack in the club he was managing. After being refused admittance by a segregated hospital nearby, he was treated very poorly at a black hospital further away. He never completely recovered from this attack and died from complications three years later in Los Angeles, in 1941.

Jelly Roll left behind a massive musical output, and eventually earned great honor and acclaim, including induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Long may the Jelly Roll legacy endure!

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It’s Not What You Thot


Flipping through the pages of the August 2019 InSTYLE magazine, I recently stumbled across this Loreal ad of two stunning models, Duckie Thot and Luma Grothe. While one could argue that Luma Grothe is a fine funny name in its own right, there is no humor there, save supposing one said her last name as “Gross” with a lisp.

Rather, today we celebrate her Loreal lipstick sister in crime, Duckie Thot.

Duckie (understandably) is the nickname for 23-year-old Nyadak Thot. Born to a family of South Sudanese refugees, she was raised in Australia, where Aussies could not pronounce Nyadak. Thus, “Duckie” was born. We’ll get to that later.

Now, if you are of a particular age, or still say “far out,” then you might not be aware that THOT is an acronym for “that ho over there.” Yep, kids say it.


An IG THOT is an Instagram THOT, one who posts hoochie pictures to garner interest. As far as we know, Duckie is not a THOT. But she is a Thot, born that way before the slang ever existed. I imagine she’s had her share of the word thrown at her by now and is laughing all the way to the bank of Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show models.

In a world of names like this (yes, there is an Amelia in my son’s school):

Nyadak doesn’t make the top 10. Or 50. Or 20,000. Let’s be honest. I’ve never seen a name on a keychain that started with “Ny” at all. But Duckie brings to mind a plethora of friendly images. There’s the Rubber Duckie to which Ernie sang on Sesame Street. There’s Duckie Dale from Pretty in Pink (if you’re a Gen X-er), or maybe you just think of Donald Duck himself. Whatever it is, ducks are likable. Geese, not so much.

And Duckie Dale was quite the fashionista in his own right.


So there you go. Now you’ve got all your ducks in a row; you know who Duckie Thot is, you’re on top of your misogynistic trollop slang, and you just might be thinking of a broad-billed waterbird (perhaps a l’Orange). And if that’s not enough, I leave you with yet more slang.


Granted “staste” doesn’t know how to make a proper contraction out of “you” and “are,” so she I suspect she’s under 30. But now you can incorporate yet another term into conversation. And thanks for stopping by the Blog of Funny Names, my duckies!

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Baldassare Longhena: Going For Baroque

Without my readers (not YOU GUYS–my specs), the blurry name above suggests bad-a$$ longhorns, the mascot of my alma mater. But using my prescription readers, I can sound it out as it should be. Bal-das-SA-reh. Say it with your fingers pinched together like an Italian (but say “eye-talian” because it’s more fun). Today, we learn about the funny-named Venetian architect, Baldassare Longhena.

Bald bottoms aside, Baldassare is actually Italian for Balthazar. And Longhena certainly wasn’t the first famous Balthazar. Despite the fact that the Gospel of Matthew nowhere names the Magi (or even says there were three), tradition suggests that “we three kings of Orient are” answered to Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar. The latter is referred to as the King of Arabia and the one who offered the ever-questionable myrrh, a resin which most of us have lived our lives without. Here he is depicted mid-offer. 

The Adoration of the Three Kings by Girolamo de Santacroce

But wait! Balthazar isn’t just a magi; it’s also a crazy large wine bottle, equivalent to that of 16 ordinary wine bottles.

Thass alotta wine!

But let’s get down to brass tacks. Baldassare Longhena was an Italian architect born at the turn of the 17th century. Now I know what you’re thinking: Mike Brady is the only architect worth posting about. Look at him getting his blueprint on.

And maybe you’re thinking, “What could compare to the beauty and complexity of his Shop N Go?”

I don’t know. Maybe the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute?


Impressive, no? The Longhena-designed basilica began construction in 1631 as a way of saying thank you to the Virgin Mary (the one whose son received myrrh from the other Balthazar) for delivering Venice from the clutches of the plague (aka the Black Death). Beginning in the summer of 1630, the plague made its way through the city, wiping out nearly a third of the population within a year. The Republic of Venice decided to erect and dedicate the elegant domed church as a votive offering for deliverance and to gain protection from the Virgin.

As a master of Baroque architecture, Longhena combined the extravagant and the ornate. And he did not stop with just one church. Nay, he designed the Chiesa dell’Ospedaletto and Santa Maria di Nazareth, as well as the Chioggia Cathedral. Between 1641 and 1680, he designed a new library, the grand staircase, the monastery facade, the novitiate (where the novices lived), the infirmary, and the guest quarters of the San Giorgio Maggiore monastery, shown below.

If you’d like to visit, you can book a room there. Upon the advice of http://www.theguardian.com,

“As you leave Santa Lucia station, take vaporetto number 2 down the Grand Canal to San Giorgio. On arrival, you ring a buzzer, marked Monaci Benedittine (Benedictine monks), on the heavy door to the right of the white church. There’s no checking in; you will simply be led up some worn stone steps to your quiet room.” Plus, they serve croissants at breakfast!

Though Longhena passed in 1682, his legacy remains in the arches and domes of the beautiful Venice skyline. Long live Longhena!

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Oy Vey, Van Der Oye

Hola and bienvenidos, readers of this funny-named blog. We shall not let you down with today’s multisyllabic offering. While logic and reasoning would lead me to call this bearded paleskin a Netherlander, as he springs from Voorst, Gelderland, Netherlands, I must use the more accurate term of Dutch.


Today we celebrate the Dutch politician, Willem Anne Assueer Jacob Schimmelpenninck van der Oye. For most of us, the only Willem with which we are familiar is actor Willem Dafoe, not to be confused with Willem DaFriend. While this is completely irrelevant, I do feel I must share with you the name of Dafoe’s spouse, Giada Colagrande, before we proceed on the Dutch front, simply because this blog demands it. It brings to mind an image of Food Network’s Giada De Laurentiis holding a Super Big Gulp of Coke. While Giada would not be caught dead in a 7-11, she also evidently does not drink soda either. Only wine. Cheers to that!


Enough already with the décolletage-baring Italian; back to the Dutchman. A Dutchman who was born a man and identified as a man. So why was his middle name Anne? Ik weet het niet. Who can say? As if that weren’t unfortunate enough, his second middle name was Assueer. As you can imagine, it’s quite uncommon for obvious reasons. Jacob we’ve got covered. And then we move on to that huge chunk of surname, Schimmelpenninck van der Oye.


But don’t cry for Willem, Argentina. I doubt he was ever mocked. As the son of a conservative minister and governor, he was born into nobility. Per Forebears, the surname means white horse penny (not to be confused with White Horse, Pennslyvania). More like white horse dollah dollah bill, y’all.

So anyway, WAAJSVDO was admitted to the Hogeschool Utrecht from 1852 to 1858, where he studied law. Here’s an image of the modern day Hogeschool Utrecht. Isn’t it fun? It looks like smooshed up Legos.

By Ted van de Weteringe from Utrecht, Netherlands

With degree in hand, he moved to The Hague (a city) to work in law from 1858 till 1862. During the late 60s, he ran for the senate as second candidate, but was beaten by the liberals.


But don’t worry; he was neither jobless nor homeless. He lived in his ancestral home with wife Jacoba Christina van Pallandt, whom he married in 1870. While he fathered no children, he was made a knight in the Order of the Netherlands Lion in July of 1874. So that’s something. From 1876 to 1877, he served as a member of the senate of the Netherlands, representing the province of Gelderland. From 1879 to 1880, he was a member of the States-Provincial of Gelderland. Then he went back to the senate of the Netherlands again from 1880 to 1889. During his last year in the senate, he got to be president. Woot!

As if that weren’t enough, he was made an honorary chamberlain of King William III of the Netherlands from 1868 till his death. While his cause of death was not recorded, we do know that he passed on a Saturday. And like John Ritter and Michael Landon, he gave up the ghost at age 54. Life expectancy, at best, was 44 at the time, so good for him! And thank you for visiting The Blog Of Funny Names!



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John Hinerwadel and Syracuse Salt Potato Revisited

Welcome back funny names fans! Summer has just bloomed in full and I thought a summer classic post would be in order. And to tell on myself, I had to get a deadline extension for my dementia home care book because I couldn’t juggle all my hot potatoes. So without further ado . . .

Today’s post is brought to you by the words eponymous and synonymous. And not just because they sound good together.

A little history first. The majority of the salt used in the United States before the 19th century came from Syracuse, New York—dubbed “the Salt City.”

Between 1845 and 1852, during the Irish Potato Famine, an estimated one million Irish died from famine. One million more emigrated from Ireland to other parts of the world. Many of them passed through New York looking for work.

If you were a miner arriving in New York where’s the closest place you’d look for work?

Which leads us to an enterprising restauranteur, John Hinerwadel, owner of the eponymous Syracuse clambake company. He noticed the local Irish salt workers boiling their lunch—potatoes with skins on—in large vats of salt water.

In 1914, Mr. Hinerwadel added salt potatoes to his menu. With their rapid rise in popularity, Mr. Hinerwadel sold salt potato kits, which included five pounds of small white potatoes and 12 ounces of salt, so the DIY’ers could make ‘em at home.

The bags of potatoes with the red and yellow sun are still sold in Syracuse today. Sorry folks they’re not available for sale online.

The Hinerwadel family has sold millions of bags of salt potatoes, and unlike McDonalds’ they’re still counting. Making Hinerwadel’s Famous Original Salt Potatoes synonymous with Syracuse.

A link to Hinerwadels website. Because there are no images of Mr. Hinerwadel online.

A link to Hinerwadel’s website. Because there are no images of the esteemed Mr. Hinerwadel available.

Speaking of Syracuse and Hinerwadel’s, let’s turn it over to our own BoFN’s Syracuse man-on-the-street reporter, Mark Bialczak.

Mark: “Having moved to Syracuse in 1983, I soon was introduced to the teeny-tiny potato dusted with salt and doused in melted butter. Genius! I’ve never figured out how they get the potatoes to stop growing at such a tender young age, but who am I to quibble. As far as I was concerned they were a poor man’s lobster tail. I’m known to dip the rest of the picnic in the drawn butter, as well. Burger … perfect for the corn on the cob, you know?

Not only that, I’ve been fortunate enough to attend a number of clambakes at Hinerwadel’s, the joint run by the family. Their food spreads are legendary. Barbecued meats, fixin’s, clams, shrimp, salt potatoes, salt potatoes, salt potatoes, beer, beer, beer. Ahhhhhhhh. Some company or charity is throwing a clambake there every weekend day from May to September.”

Thank you, Mark!

Well folks, you heard it here first.

If I’m ever in central New York, I’ll visit Hinerwadel’s. I’m positive when I finish eating, my hiner will waddle. Mmmmmm.

Tracy — Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

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