Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce

Ambrose Bierce, a man of mystery, controversy, and wearer of a fabulous mustache.

Some names simply scream nominative determinism. Ambrose Gwinnett Bierce has such a name. A descendant of the Mayflower through his mother, Laura Sherwood Bierce. With a dad named Marcus Aurelius Bierce, you just know things are going to happen. Ambrose was the tenth of thirteen children. All of their names started with the letter A. We know what vowel his dad would have purchased if he’d been a contestant on the Wheel of Fortune.

Back to Ambrose. He left home at the age of 15 to become a printer’s devil. A fancy name for performing all the menial tasks of printing a newspaper. Three years later he enlisted in the Union Army as a drummer boy in the American Civil War. Over the next four years he rose through the ranks to brevet major. Twice wounded, he fought at the Battle of Shiloh. The terror of that experience became the material of several of his short stories and a memoir.

His short story An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge is credited as one of the most famous and frequently anthologized stories in American literature. I have a short story anthology on my bookshelf. I checked, it’s in there. Bierce realistically wrote about the awful things he witnessed during the war. He also perfected the twist ending.

During his lifetime he was better known as one of the most influential journalist in the U.S. He worked for William Randolph Hearst. Created controversy. Cost Hearst his run for the U.S. Presidency, but Bierce was never fired for his writings.

But it is his foray into fiction for which he was accorded the moniker of the pioneer of the psychological horror story. His stories are ranked alongside H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. His war stories influenced Ernest Hemingway and Stephen Crane among others. His poetry is even making a comeback.

But it was his disappearance in 1914 at the age of 71 which flummoxed historians. Some say he traveled to Mexico and followed the exploits of Poncho Villa, where he was allegedly executed in a graveyard in Chihauhau, Mexico. Others declare that he couldn’t have gone to Mexico because of his outspoken views against Villa. Still others guess he passed by his own hand.

The last line of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge, “Payton Farquhar was dead; his body, with a broken neck, swung gently from side to side beneath the timbers of the Owl Creek Bridge.” Perhaps it was his love of twist endings.

Whatever the truth, Bierce was never seen again, but his legacy continues.

Tracy – Fannie Cranium’s Guide to Irreverent Wisdom

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7th Annual Poll, Funniest Names in The NFL Draft

“If I could remember the names of all these particles, I’d be a botanist.”–Enrico Fermi

Ah, spring has sprung.   Flowers are blooming.  The world is reborn (just ask Tiger Woods if you don’t believe that one).  And that means one special thing: it’s time for the 7th annual funniest names in the NFL draft poll.  As sure as the spring pollens emerge, so do the weird and wonderful names that populate the NFL.   And as for that identity crisis, unless they are paranoid about their strange monikers, none of the nominees  have to worry about it.  They are all well-known–most of them–already.

So what will it be this year?  We’ve had short names (Jake Butt), long names (Halapoulivaati Vaitai), double-barrelled names (Ha-ha Clinton-Dix), write-in names (Jaquiski Tartt), aristocratic sounding names (Equanimeous St. Brown) and even a name that sounds like a Dothroki warrior (Barkevious Mingo), win the previous six iterations.

Without further ado, let’s skip to the chase.  Here are this year’s nominees.  As usual, I’ll say what I think the name sounds like it’s owner should be, if not a football player.

Just the man to front Lil’ Jordan

Lil’ Jordan Humphrey–WR, University of Texas.  How’s this for a start.  We’ve had many a double-barrelled names among the ranks of contestants.  Even a double-double-barrelled winner in Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix.  But we’ve never had an apostraphe-d name seriously compete.  OK, I just made up the word “apostrophe-d,” but give me a break.  We need some way to describe it.   And I threw in a hyphen just for added confusion.  What I think his name sounds like: the bass singer from Little Anthony and the Imperials.

Rock Ya-Sin–CB, Temple.  I just love how this name flows off the tongue.  There always has to be a nickname or two in the list (again, we recall “Ha-Ha” Clinton-Dix), and this year we have a couple of them.  His given name is actually Abdurrahaman.  What I think his name sounds like:  a rap artist from Taiwan.

Ceejhay French-Love, TE, Arizona State.  Nicknames and alliterative names  always play well in this poll.  But for my money, I love a great double-barreled name, and you literally have to love this one.  So much so, in fact, that I parted with convention and picked somebody who is  more likely to wind up being an undrafted free agent; this one is too good to leave out.  What I think his name sounds like: Sorry–not touching this one with a ten foot tongue.

My name….Oshane Ximenes

Oshane Ximenes–LB, Old Dominion  I’m curious to know exactly what ethnicity or nationality this name hails from.  How often do  you see a last name starting with X? What I think his name sounds like: The Greek pronunciation of Jose Jimenez.

Greedy Williams, CB, LSU–OK, his given name is Andraez, and while Williams is a rather pedestrian surname, I just love the nickname.  And while it seems a rather appropriate sobriquet for a cornerback intent on swiping the ball from opposing receivers, that’s not how he got it.  His aunt called him “Greedy-Deedee” after babysitting him in his infancy.  He’s also likely to be a first round pick.  What I think his name sounds like: a bag man for the mob.

In the TakiTaki Tiki Room

Sione Takitaki, LB, BYU–Here’s a name that’s not quite like anything we’ve ever showcased in this feature.  Like French-Love, he’s more likely to wind up playing in Canada–or the arena league, but this was another one too good to omit.    What I think his name sounds like: the designer of Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room.

You can vote as often as you like (“Vote early and vote often.”–Al Capone).  And write-ins are allowed and encouraged.  You can even write in the name of the next politician you’d like to see flattened with a corner blitz,  but be sure to consider these honorable mentions: Kingsley Keke, Jachai Polite, Devine Ozigba, Freedom Akinmladun, Yodney Cajuste, D’Cota Dixon, Deebo Samuel and just about any other combination you can find the next time you spill a bowl of alphabet soup.  Happy voting–and here’s hoping  your team drafts the funniest name.

Voting closes at noon, EDT, Monday May 6.



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Okilly Dokilly: World’s first Nedal band says it’s “Not as fast as Bartcore, and a little cleaner than Krusty Punk”

You can file this one under “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up.” Except, somebody did make it up, that is, the band members. Their real names (unfortunately for us here at BoFN) are shrouded in mystery. But the stage names are inspired:

Head Ned: vocals
Stead Ned: guitars
Red Ned: synthesizers
Bled Ned: drums
Thread Ned: bass

Sorry, I got ahead of myself.

Hi diddly ho neighborinos!

Okilly Dokilly is a Ned-Flanders-themed metal band (hence the new genre, nedal). That’s Ned Flanders, from The Simpsons.

If you’re wondering how that works, Head Ned explained it to Louder like this

“. . . we’re just nerds who really like The Simpsons and metal, and thought this would be funny. Long answer: our drummer, Bled Ned, and myself were stuck in line at a grocery store. We were coming up with really cutesy and harmless names for really hardcore bands. Okilly Dokilly came up, and we built on it. We had the idea for dressing like Ned and came up with the term Nedal. It all was, and still is hilarious to us. We went a bit too far with that humour and, well, here we are.”

That’s from their album Howdilly Doodily (2016).

In answer to the question “What are the main ingredients for nedal?” Ned Head answers,

“A few nerds with an affinity for The Simpsons and metal, some Ned quotes, green sweaters, pink shirts, grey pants, glasses, and a sense of humour. The pink flying V and keytar are also fine additions. Nedal is anything that is both brutal and Flanders at the same time.”

Rolling Stone reports that Okilly Dokilly made an appearance on The Simpsons.

On Sunday night, the closing credits of the 659th episode of The Simpsons were suddenly interrupted. The standard black screen disappeared and was replaced by five adult men tearing through a brutal heavy metal track, guzzling white wine and smashing glasses and instruments while dressed as Ned Flanders. Devout Simpsons fans with astute ears might’ve even recognized the lyrics the frontman was barking, “You only live once/give me a white wine spritzer.”

Okilly Dokilly draws their song titles and lyrics from Ned Flanders quotes (a process I can really appreciate after working out the algorithms for my blurb generator). As Rolling Stone further explains:

Head Ned says a Flanders quote must fit one of two criteria: It either has to sound super dark and metal out of context (“Nothing At All,” “Claw My Eyes Out”) or so silly it has no place in a metal song (“Godspeed Little Doodle,” “I Can’t, It’s a Geo”). When the band set out to make their second album, Howdilly Twodilly, released last month, Head Ned took on the enviable task of re-watching the first 10 seasons of The Simpsons and jotting down the best lines in a notebook.

Just like they said, Howdilly Twodilly came out last month. And you can follow their Howdilly Twodilly Tourdilly on Facebook. Or better yet, catch them live at any of the 15 US locations still left in the tour in April. If they’re not sold out.

Well, as Ned Flanders said, “I’ve done everything the Bible says – even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff!”

But if you ask me, “What can I ding dong diddly do unto others that I would have them ding dong diddly do unto me?” I’d say, Go have some fundilly wundilly at Dave’s GoFundyWundMe and clicketty lickitty at the linketty below, neighbor!

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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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