Watty Piper

“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” The words of the Little Engine That Could have inspired young children to reach beyond themselves since the beginning of the last century. The story was originally named The Pony Engine.  The story became famous when renamed and retold by Watty Piper and published by Platt & Munk. Turns out Watty Piper is the pen name of Arnold Munk, one of the owners of Platt & Munk.

Arnold Munk a.k.a. Watty Piper. Photo copyright of Janet Fenton, Mr. Munk’s daughter.

Under the energized name of Watty, Mr. Munk authored many children’s books and edited many of the books published by Platt & Munk during his time with the publishing house. Mr. Munk passed in 1957, but his story lives on inspiring many generations of youngsters to think they can.

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom


Please consider donating to our founder, Dave, and his fight against a cancerous brain tumor, all while he doing his residency to learn to fight the very thing he is battling.

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Sufjan Stevens Records with Asthmatic Kitty

You hang around the BoFN crew long enough, you start picking up their habits.

Like, let’s suppose Fannie or Kerbey wrote about Sufjan Stevens, who has a recording label called Asthmatic Kitty. They definitely wouldn’t just let that just slip by. Oh, no. They’d stick it in the title to make it all witty and cryptic and everything.

So you can’t blame me for the title. I’m just a product of my environment.

By the way, I just remembered Frank Zappa had the Barking Pumpkin label.

For whatever that’s worth.

Anyways, a buddy of mine introduced me to Sufjan Stevens, whose awesome last name more than compensates for the ordinary last one.

Two questions: First, should be there a Funny Name Theorem for that?

Second, should I rethink the title? For instance:

Like Cat Stevens but with Asthma

Or am I dating myself? (Leapin’ and hoppin’ on a moonshadow, as it were . . .)

To tell the truth, the comparison with Cat Stevens nags at me. What do you call it when two lives run not parallel, but kind of criss-cross, like an X shape. They both start from opposite places but end up somewhere in the vicinity of where the other one started.

The great Cat Stevens, born Steven Demetre Georgiou, was a multi-instrumentalist who created soothing but haunting ballads–a singer-songwriter in the best wandering bard tradition. He eventually converted to Islam and changed his name to Yusuf Islam.

What about Sufjan Stevens? Wikipedia reports that

Sufjan is an Arabic name, meaning “comes with a sword”. It predates Islam and most famously belonged to Abu Sufyan, a figure from early Islamic history. The name was given to Stevens by the founder of Subud, an inter-faith spiritual community to which his parents belonged when he was born.

So, Sufjan starts out with the Islamic heritage (in name at least) and became the balladeer, the bard, the storyteller, the chronicler of people and places. (One of his projects is to make an album for each of the US states.)

There’s also a nuanced but substantial Christian undercurrent in his songs.

Sufjan’s music virtually defines that whispering, lilting, haunting millennial sound we hear everywhere these days. I confess, it’s not my thing, and I’m still trying to understand it. But I like “Seven Swans.”

At any rate, Sufjan is a prodigiously gifted fellow. He’s also worked through his massive output with integrity, without aggrandizement, and with no apparent signs of drug and alcohol fueled revels in smashed up hotel rooms with the obligatory spiral into wasted degenerate freak/victim of the music industry.

But it may just be logistics. Wikipedia also reports,

A multi-instrumentalist, Stevens is known for his use of the banjo, but also plays guitar, piano, drums, xylophone, and several other instruments, often playing all of these on his albums through the use of multitrack recording. While in school, he studied the oboe and English horn, which he also plays on his albums.

That’s way too many instruments to douse with lighter fluid.

Speaking of lighter fluid, let’s light up a guitar for our man, Dave. Click on the link below.

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From Fiste to Bombeck, the Grass is Always Greener over the Septic Tank

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Imagine if you will, entering the world just before the Great Depression. Arriving in Ohio to a working-class family and starting school a year early because you could. Erma Fiste did just that.

Writing humorous columns in junior high and working her way through college, her English professor, Brother Tom Price, said the three magic words which would ignite her career, “You can write.”

She married Bill Bombeck and moved into a house in a suburban development down the street from a young Phil Donahue. Erma Bombeck spent ten years as a stay-at-home mom before her writing career took off with a column titled “At Wit’s End.” Three weeks after she started her column it became nationally syndicated in 36 newspapers.

Her columns were bundled into a book with the same title. Eventually 900 newspapers in the U.S. and Canada carried her three weekly columns.

She birthed several best sellers with names like, “The Grass is Always Greener over the Septic Tank,” “Motherhood: The Second Oldest Profession,” “Just Wait Until You Have Children of Your Own,” and “If Life is a Bowl of Cherries—What am I Doing in the Pits?”

At the height of her career in the 1980’s she was a twice-weekly guest on Good Morning America and belonged to the American Academy of Humor Columnists. She earned anywhere from $500,000 to $1,000,000,000 per year. How many authors can say that today?

From Fiste to Bombeck, her humor punched us in the funny bone while we exploded with laughter.

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom


Please consider donating to our founder, Dave, and his fight against a cancerous brain tumor, all while he doing his residency to learn to fight the very thing he is battling.

Posted in Funny Names in Books, funny names in comedy | 9 Comments

Dave and Arto in the Comment Sections: Let’s Guess!!!

It was fun playing “Is It Dave or Is It Arto” with the FNitN pickings last time. Now we dive–or should I say a Daive?–into the comment sections of yore, to relive some luminous moments when either one or the other of those two guys dropped in to offer their inimitable wit and banter.

Which guy was it? That’s for you to guess! Have at it–or should I say have Artoit.

Answers are below, and HEY, no peeking!

Number 1:

All of these names are exquisite once again! Football never disappoints (unless you’re from Cleveland…or San Diego).

Wikipedia says Mr. St. Brown’s full name is Equanimeous Tristan Imhotep J. St. Brown, which I think is about the most majestic name imaginable. It’s got that OED word to start, a kind of private-schoole-douchey kid sounding middle name, the name of the Egyptian ruler that was the bad guy in the Mummy, AND a J that stands for nothing. This is like the perfect name, collected of parts of other great names. He’s got my vote.

Number 2:

Wow, I can’t believe Wonderful Terrific Monds III actually exists! I’ve been a fan of that name for years.

I should also add that I’m so proud that baseball acknowledges and appreciates its funny names. There are so many good ones, and only a fantastic sport would recognize that.

Number 3:

Go Gants! That’s great. Goes to show you there’s joy in typos sometimes.


Guitar interlude for Dave.

Yngwie Malmsteen, “Sun’s Up Top’s Down.”


Number 4:

If only the south had won the war, the krumping trend would have caught on years ago, and would be referred to by its proper name: crumping. Darn Jayhawkers! (Narrowly beats out Redlegs as my favorite derogatory term for Union soldiers).

Number 5:

Clopton Havers : people who have cloptons? Hmmm.

I never knew we had shrink wrap in our bones. I may need to see a shrink to talk about that. Maybe make a rap.

That canal from Oklahome looks like there may be some Haversian crop circles going on. Aliens, aliens everywhere…

Number 6:

Ah, the Diamond! I wonder if he’s much of a golfer. If he shoots off the lane a bit he’ll be a Diamond in the rough.

Rough joke there.

Akeeba, what a name. He should write a song about that. A nice ballad, perhaps.

Number 7:

King Ding Ding! I gotta start using that one.

1) Arto, commenting on Mark’s “6th Annual Poll: Funniest Names In The 2018 NFL Draft”
2) Dave, commenting on Mark’s “Wonderful Terrific Monds III and Moniker Madness”
3) Arto responding in the comments of his own “Guppy Troup”
4) Dave, commenting on Arto’s “Pleasant Riggs Crump”
5) Arto, commenting on Dave’s “Clopton Havers, Bone Master
6) Arto again, commenting on Mark Bialczak’s “Without Akeeba and Rose, We Wouldn’t Have Neil Leslie Diamond’s Touching Story
7) Arto yet again, commenting on Rob’s “Rave for Dave, Fri-Dayve Edition

Speaking of Dave Raves, please visit Dave’s GoFundMe at the link below, and help out the Boss!

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Ferris Wheel In The Sky Keeps On Turning

Ready yourselves because today’s funny/interesting/curious name isn’t chock full of vowels or silly sounds or alliteration. ‘Tis true. But it will honor today’s birthday boy (no, not John Travolta), the guy on the one dollar bill. So buckle up, because we’re about to go on a wonderfully spherical ride.

The dapper Dan above is George Washington Gale Ferris Jr., an American engineer and inventor, not to be confused with the other famous Ferris–Bueller, the sick-faking high school slacker in the 1986 film. As you can probably surmise, this Ferris is best known for creating the original Ferris Wheel for the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition, aka the World’s Fair, which celebrated the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival to the New World in 1492. We all know that rhyme, don’t we?  


Though he appears to be named after our first president, he was actually the junior to dad, George Washington Gale Ferris, Sr, a minister. The Senior Ferris founded Galesburg, Illinois. And isn’t that odd, considering Gale wasn’t even his last name? Gale is an uncommon male name. Remember Gale Gordon from The Lucy Show eons ago? I can tell you it’s not hitting the Top 100 Baby Names for 2019. But props for getting a city named after himself. Senior also founded Knox College, site of one of the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. So, in more than one way, he was a founding father. And isn’t that nominative determinism in the best way possible?

Founding cities and colleges like a boss.

GW, Sr per Pinterest

What’s odd is that Junior had a brother 16 years his senior, named Frederick. Usually, it’s the firstborn son that holds the Junior title to the Senior. Nonetheless, he carried the name all his 39 years, in the same manner as did George Washington Carver, another inventor himself. Y’all remember how he promoted alternative crops like peanuts? You might not know he was kidnapped at a week old, though, but that’s a whole nother story.

Now back to Ferris! He proposed an awesome wheel that would “Out-Eiffel Eiffel” for the fair. And while the planners understandably feared his design might spill souls out all over the ground, he engineered and constructed a mighty fine wheel. It held 36 cars, each accommodating up to 60 people, giving a total capacity of 2,160. How is that even possible? When I rode the SkyWheel in Myrtle Beach, it only had 42 “gondolas.” No way it could hold 2000 folks. But this first Ferris Wheel did the unthinkable for 50 cents a person. By the time it was demolished in 1906, it had carried 2.5 million passengers!

And lest you think GW’s no longer walk amonst us, per http://www.howmanyofme.com, there are currently 926 people in the U.S. named George Washington. Have you ever met one?

Sadly, the legit George Washington never had children of his own, serving as stepfather instead. So there are no George Washington, Juniors in that regard. But his image lives on in both currency and silly internet humor.


Well, that’s it for today, folks! Enjoy your President’s Day!



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