Bing! Hildegard von Bingen

Maybe Hildegard von Bingen is about as funny in German as Sally F. Johnson is in English. In other words, not very funny. But in response to that objection all I have to say is . . . Bing!

Anyway, to the point: in the remote, unpeopled cyber location known as What Do You Do for an Encore, I am often on the lookout for little known but inspiring bits of sacred music for my famously unfamous Sunday selections. It was in that context that I came across . . . Bing!

I mean, Hildegard von Bingen.

Now, s’pose youse happen to be cruisin’ along some Middle Age freeway, flippin’ up and down that radio dial for some rockin’ Gregorian toonz. Well, Hildegard, though maybe not super prolific, had a respectable number of releases that made the Monastic top 40 of her day. I wouldn’t call her a Linda Ronstadt of the Medieval charts, necessarily, but maybe like a Maria Muldaur or a Norah Jones.

But you know how it goes at this BoFN joint. We get into these things, we dig a little deeper, and before you know it we realize we’ve got a wild one on our hands.


Music (and poetry) were but the least of Hildegard’s gifts and accomplishments. But I really should say, Saint Hildegard, who is also a Doctor of the Church. That last is a rare distinction for anyone, male or female, as there are only about 34 Doctors of the Church (at last count) in over 2,000 years.

St. Hildegard von Bingen


Hidlegard was a thin, wan, sickly child (let this be an inspiration to all of us thin, wan, sickly children) born to nobility in 1098. She had religious visions from the age of five, became a nun at the age of 15, and went on to live 81 years (if my calculation are right) in that time becoming one of the most prominent women of Medieval times. The following introduction from a fine entry about Hildegard at Fordham University gives us a useful thumbnail:

Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) was a remarkable woman, a “first” in many fields. At a time when few women wrote, Hildegard, known as “Sybil of the Rhine”, produced major works of theology and visionary writings. When few women were accorded respect, she was consulted by and advised bishops, popes, and kings. She used the curative powers of natural objects for healing, and wrote treatises about natural history and medicinal uses of plants, animals, trees and stones. She is the first composer whose biography is known. She founded a vibrant convent, where her musical plays were performed. . . .  Her story is important to all students of medieval history and culture and an inspirational account of an irresisible spirit and vibrant intellect overcoming social, physical, cultural, gender barriers to achieve timeless transcendence.

St. Hildegard von Bingen, pray for us! And . . .


Please don’t forget Dave in his good fight, folks. Click on the graphic below.






Posted in Funny names in History, funny names in music, Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Lady Moira Shearer Kennedy

Welcome back funny names fans, please pardon my tardy Tuesday post, I have been juggling one to many balls this week. I dropped the balls on the floor and this one rolled behind my desk. Fortunately, one of the cats found it and here were are. Pardon me, I think I got a little cat hair on you.

September is on the calendar and ballet should be in the air instead of hurricanes, forest fires, and smoke.

What happens when fate meets destiny–Moira Shearer

So let’s get more festive and meet Lady Moira Shearer Kennedy—British ballet dancer and actress, not to be confused with Moira Quirk the voice over actress and worthy of a post in her own right.

The name Moira is derived from the Greek meaning “destiny, share, fate” and fate is what took a little girl born Moira Shearer King born in Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland to Ndola, Northern Rhodesia in 1931 with her civil engineer father, Harold Charles King and mother, Margaret Crawford Reid (born Shearer).

Ballet is your destiny, Moira Shearer.

In Rhodesia she took her first ballet lessons from a former student of Enrico Cecchetti, the famed ballet teacher born in the costuming room of the Teatro Tordinona in Rome. After five years of studying the Cecchetti method her family moved to London and she trained under Russian teacher Nicholas Legat. A brief interruption caused by WWII sent her back to Scotland. After the war she returned to London.

Once her training was almost complete, not as a Jedi warrior but a ballet dancer, she made her first debut in a Posy Fossil advertisements for the book “Ballet Shoes”. She blew onto the international scene with her performance as Victoria Page in the ballet film Red Shoes, even her hair matched the shoes. It launched her film career, which spanned over the next few decades.

She married journalist Sir Ludovic Henry Coverley Kennedy in 1950, and as luck would have it, Moira became a lady by title as well as grace.

Let’s not have it said that all ballet dancers are serious. No, let’s not. After having four children who wanted something to tease her about, she decided to host the BBC’s Eurovision Song Contest in 1972.

But she didn’t stop there, she stayed busy. She wrote for the Daily Telegraph and gave talks on ballet all over the world before her passing in 2006.

Moira certainly shared her destiny with the world.

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

Please consider supporting our founder, Dave, in his battle with cancer.





Posted in funny names in movies | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

Pikotaro (PPAP)

If we’re being charitable, we would say that Pikotaro has successfully wrapped up his 15 minutes of fame.


Pen Pineapple Apple Pen

Less charitably, Pikotaro has jumped the shark.

But that’s not really right, because stage personas like Pikotaro’s are pretty much created to jump the shark. Their job is to inhabit their particular moment, which typically lasts less than a year. And when they’re really successful, they truly define that moment.

Such is the case with Pikotaro.

Now, with the PPAP sensation safely behind us (???), it seems appropriate to take retrospective stock of this bizarre phenomenon, before the tail-lights disappear forever into the detritus of discarded pop culture fads. Or mixed metaphors. Or whatever.

Anyway, there may be some amongst you who have not yet had the privilege of witnessing this whacky madness, this assault on eyes and ears, this insult to reason, decency, and good sense. Observe, if you dare:

The viral video of this inspired nonsense swept the globe, spawning a thousand covers and parodies, including Pikotaro’s own customized versions, and his streak of ad campaigns.

My personal favorite PPAP parody is the home-made Bollywood version:

Of course, the song (if we may call it that) needs no translation, or for that matter, complex exegesis, but “Pikotaro” might be roughly translated Chuckie Pow!, or Sparkle Boy, or Flash Lad, or something like that. He is otherwise known as a comedian with the stage name Kosaka Daimaou, which translates as Kosaka Great Satan (!?).

But Mr. PPAP was born Kazuhito Kosaka, which is not a funny name, at least not locally.

Justin Bieber has claimed PPAP as his favorite video and has even met up with Pikotaro in person to pay respects.

Recently, Pikotaro has been leveraging his artistry . . .(erhem) . . . to support sustainable development, so maybe those 15 minutes aren’t quite up yet.

Meanwhile, Kosaka has leveraged Pikotaro’s fame to snag Hitomi Yasueda in matrimony. Ms. Yasueda was until recently a “gravure” model (pin-up girl). Nothing to laugh at there.

This slightly grating but informative video gives the scoop, as well as some good background on Pikotaro:

Photos of Mrs. Kosaka née Yasueda are not hard to find . . . unless you want to find one suitable for viewing by good people like yourselves, in a fine establishment like this. The paired portrait below is, as we used to commonly say, SFW, but it was no easy task, this particular photo search.

And I want you to know I really looked, folks!


Mama PPia!

Well, we may have seen nearly the last of Pikotaro, but I suspect Kosaka has more gag concepts brewing. We’ll stay tuned.

Exit question: why does Pikotaro keep the article (kind of) for “apple” but drop it for “pineapple”? If you find out, let me know.

On another note, please think of supporting our man Dave for medical treatment. He’s the reason we’re all here, and does a lot of great things in the world.

Posted in funny names in comedy, funny names in tv | Tagged , , | 11 Comments

Goodhearted Laughter Redux

Welcome new readers and longtime fans. Thank you for following us during our Rave for Dave campaign to help Dave with his fight against cancer, because cancer is no laughing matter, or is it?

Today I’m re-posting Goodhearted Laughter, because laughter is the best medicine–according to Reader’s Digest.

Thanks again for your support!

* * *

Mwa ha ha ha ha. Bwa ha ha ha. Heh heh heh heh heh. Ho ho ho. Tee hee hee. Ha ha ha ha ha. Snort. *Fannie wipes a tear from her eye.*

Greetings funny names fans. In these times of change, sometimes a good belly laugh is required. You’ve heard the saying “laughter is the best medicine.”  Tee hee.

Our next guest believed whole-heartedly laughter was the best medicine. Laughter therapist, Dr. Annette Goodheart (1935-2011) started out life an as artist with a paint brush. She re-framed her solitary painter’s life and found more benefits in the art of therapy.

She worked in the field of laughter therapy for eight years before she met fabulously named author, Norman Cousins, who wrote the book, Anatomy of an Illness, As Perceived by the Patient, about his healing from a terminal illness through laughter.

The laughter caught on, Goodheart approached the University of California about a workshop on laughter—laughter ensued. Her work spread to other universities who wanted her to conduct workshops for their hospitals, churches, clubs, welfare departments, etc., teaching the healing power of playful laughter.

The Surgeon General’s warning for laughter could read, “Warning, laughter produces chemicals known to the State of California to be cathartic and make you feel better. Other states of mind may follow.” Hee, hee, hee.

Dr. Goodheart’s Cathartic (laughter) Therapy involved four steps according to an article posted on Laughter Online University paraphrased here:

  1. Get in touch with your feelings.
  2. Release those feelings through catharsis (laughter).
  3. Rethink the situation or experience associated with those feelings, because it’s now become possible through the chemical re-balancing of your body to allow you to think more clearly.
  4. Take whatever sensible action is appropriate.

If you want to read the full article click here.

Here is Dr. Goodheart at work.

Your mission today: laugh. Heh, heh, heh.

Life is better when you’re laughing. It’s contagious, spread it around. Bwa ha ha. Snort.

*Would someone please pass a tissue?*

Fannie – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom








Posted in funny names in art, funny names in science, humor, humour, Rave For Dave | Tagged , , , , | 13 Comments

Rave for Dave – Special Delivery!

Hey gang! It’s Mailman* here, of Lancaster County & Boutros Boutros-Ghali BoFN fame. But enough about me and my too-brief funny names blogging career – we’re here to #RaveforDave!

U of C

Rex the amputee Dino and Kananaskis Hall. True academic inspiration.

I met Dave almost exactly a dozen years ago at the University of Calgary, home of the (not-so-inspiring-on-account-of-being-extinct) Dinos. Dave, Arto, and I all lived on the same floor in Kananaskis Hall (a funny name in itself) as first year undergrads. My first encounter with Dave somehow turned into a feisty debate about the 2000 election, during which it became clear he was one of the smartest, most interesting people I would have the opportunity to spend time with that year, and for many years to come. I always thought he had a big brain, and with the discovery of his gigantic brain tumo(u)r, it turns out I was even more correct than I thought!

Before I get too far down memory lane, here’s my humble solicitation to take a minute to try to bring Dave back to the level of us mere humans** by helping him to a) continue to rid himself of said brain tumo(u)r, so he can b) continue his med school studies and fulfill his dreams of helping and healing others. You can do this by donating to his GoFundMe campaign, which will help cover medical expenses while he continues to undergo treatment in the coming months and years. Go ahead – I’ll give you a few minutes – I promise I’ll still be here when you get back. 

Go fund him!


[play favorite hold / waiting room / grocery store music here]

Okay, thanks for the contribution! Now onto the fun stuff – highlights from that first strange year of quasi-adulthood and a few of my other favorite Dave memories:

  • Despite my empathy toward folks with funny names, I think I can pinpoint my true moment of awakening to the broader world of funny names to a single conversation in the Dining Center. Dave and Arto were leading a robust discussion on great possible band names, and enlightened us all to the joy of knowing that Jonathan Cheechoo (!) hailed from Moose Factory, Ontario (!!) – a double whammy only thought possible in my wildest dreams.
  • One time when I was on a road trip from Tennessee to Alberta, Dave invited me to tag along to Denver for the 2008 Democratic National Convention, where he was a delegate for Barack Obama’s first presidential run. It was an incredibly cool opportunity and is part of what inspired me to get more directly involved in politics and ultimately move to DC – I can’t imagine I’d have the life I have today if it weren’t for Dave’s invitation that fateful August.
  • Naturally, Dave has impeccable taste in music. After he moved back to San Diego, we kept up via email and phone and many a discussion was spent talking about music recommendations (usually Dave’s) and lightly mocking each other’ Scrobbles (usually mine).
  • At some point during a nice -40oC evening, the fire alarm in our dorm building malfunctioned and forced our evacuation not once, not twice, but THRICE between midnight and 3am. After the first time we all went back to bed; after the second time, a handful of us started a game of Scrabble; and after the third, we gave up and decided to spend what was left of the night elsewhere. Dave was the only one with a vehicle but as the Californian, didn’t realize that plugging in your car in the winter is a thing in Alberta and other frozen hellscapes. Miraculously, he got the van started eventually and we made our way to warmer pastures (the local Denny’s) to continue our game, but I think it’s one of the only times I’ve ever known something Dave didn’t, and I will cherish that feeling forever.
  • Terrible movies were kind of my thing, but I knew that I had officially met my match with Dave. Whether in recognition of, or perhaps a challenge to, my self-proclaimed love for the cinematic scrap pile, he introduced me to the magic of “Buffalo 66”, “Eraserhead”, and most notably – “Manos, the Hands of Fate”. So to anyone I’ve since forced to watch those gems – you have Dave to blame thank. And to Dave’s brain tumor – whatever it is you’re not doing, go don’t do it somewhere else!
  • Every year from 2007 to 2011ish, Dave, Rob, Arto, and others would put together a list of the 100 Coolest People in the World. I joined in on the fun for the ’09 and ’10 renditions and loved being exposed to a new collection of the smart, the interesting, the odd, and the inspiring. By all of these measures, my hypothetical lists for 2017 and onward would have to include the following:

#1: Dave Carlson – witty intellectual, future neurologist, future former brain tumo(u)r host, lifelong inspiration

You’ve got this, Dave!

– Mailman

 *Since my last post in…cough2013cough, I’ve married someone with a decidedly normal last name and it is a WHOLE NEW WORLD.

**This is never actually going to be possible because Dave is the best and who am I trying to fool?

Posted in humor, humour, Rave For Dave | Tagged , , | 18 Comments