Oh, Snap, Osip

The Blog of Funny Names

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…

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Farmgirls Gotta Farm

An American Moment by Harris

This Nebraska teen may know how to drive a tractor, but she certainly doesn’t know how to don sunglasses or a ballcap to keep that dreadful sun out of her eyes. Let’s hope she applied some Bain De Soleil for the St. Tropez tan


Rave For Dave, Part Deux

The Blog of Funny Names

Hello, dear readers! Kerbey here. Today we continue our Rave for Dave Campaign, as we sing the praises of our fearless Blog of Funny Names leader. In yesterday’s post, Fannie updated us on his health issue, and ways we can contribute to his GoFundMe page. With our support, we can help him win this battle! To add to that support, I offer my silly and sincere ode to brave Dave.

Ode To Dave, Who Is Strong Like Bull

What can I say of my pal, Dave?

His friendship is a gift

He’s a glass half-full, super middleweight guy

With more enthusiasm than Taylor Swift

He’s hope and resilience, endurance and charm

Charisma and kindness, his nature

Ever-the-encourager, boxing-phile

Lover of nomenclature

So maybe he favors red hoodies

Maybe he’s donned zebra pants

Could he have worn a “Merry “Chrithmith” sweater?

I think there’s a pretty good chance

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Vassilis Tsitsanis, Master Of Bouzouki (Or Long-Necked Plucked Lute)

The Blog of Funny Names

Happy Spring, dear readers, and καλως ΗΡΘΑΤΕ (kalos IRTHATE) to you! That’s Greek for welcome and entirely fitting for today’s funny-named Greek bouzouki player, Vassilis Tsitsanis. 


Born and died on the same day of January 18th (1915 – 1984), Tsitsanis was a Greek songwriter (of over 500 songs) and founder of Rebetiko (Greek urban laika songs). One of the leading Greek composers of his time, he is remembered as an accomplished composer and bouzouki player.

Google Translate pronounces his name as Vah-seeltz Teets-a-neice. I have never met a Vassilis (Greek for Basil) in my time, but evidently there are several dozen famous Greek “footballers” who answer to Vassilis, Greek for Basil, so it is not an uncommon name. However, Tsitsanis went by his surname most of the time.

Interested in music from a young age, the Trikala-born youngster learned to play the violin, mandola, and the mandolin. However, art doesn’t often…

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Benay Venuta Needs No Latuda

The Blog of Funny Names


Happy springtime, dear readers, and welcome back to the Blog of Funny Names! The glammed-up starlet in the 1930s Jean Harlowesque pose above is none other than Benay Venuta, our funny focus for the day. Thankfully, she was not “bland” like the recipient of this hairfingering headshot. Au contraire!

Born in San Francisco on January 27, 1911, little Benvenuta Rose Crooke grew up in California. We can assume her Swiss-Italian mother gave her the name Benvenuta, as benvenuto means “welcome” in Italian. Personally, it’s not so odd, as my great-grandfather was named Bienvenido (“welcome” in Spanish). Evidently, babies are welcome entities.

Venuta graduated from Hollywood High School and attended finishing school in Geneva. There she studied long enough to learn both French and Italian but subsequently dropped out (thereby not finishing Finishing School) and moved to London to work as a dancer. She returned to the States in 1928, continuing to pursue show…

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When It Absolutely, Positively Has To Be There Overnight

“A Living Lens”

I wish this book would have given me more information than “a man ties packages to an elephant as people watch.” That elicits a fourth grade, “Well, no duh” from me. If I have to guess a year, I’d say circa 1920s. We can’t even be certain whether the burdened beast was named Dumbo or Jumbo. I’d say Jumbo, as the Disney movie wasn’t released till 1941. P.T. Barnum’s original Jumbo was killed in a train accident in 1885, so this not that Jumbo.


That Jumbo stood 12 feet tall and weighed 7 tons–the largest elephant anyone had ever seen.  He liked “Scotch whiskey, which he was given regularly” during an Atlantic crossing after he left London. Though he died at only age 24, a life-size statue of his likeness was erected in 1985 in St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada to commemorate the centennial of the elephant’s death.

Incidentally, the name Jumbo spawned the word we use today to mean large in size, not the other way around. So the next time you buy a jumbo-sized beverage or candy bar, think fondly of an elephant.

1940s, History, Music, Nostalgia, Photography, Pics, Texas, Uncategorized, Vintage

Nummy In The Know

Jimmy Nummy 1950
Jimmy Nummy 1950

Austin KNOW radio announcer Jimmy Nummy appears to be barraged by microphones here. One is even propped against his noggin. In 1927, KNOW became Austin’s first commercial radio station, but had signed off by 1989. Did you know that broadcast call letters in the USA begin with either “K” or “W”, with “K” usually west of the Mississippi River and “W” usually east of it? Does that apply to your city? Maybe not, if you live in Louisiana or Minnesota, who go rogue and don’t always follow the dividing line. Here’s a KNOW ad from 70 years ago.

1947 ad

While Nummy’s name may not live in infamy, one itsy bitsy reference is made to him in the memoirs of Ray Campi (aka “The King of Rockabilly”). It’s such a fun read, I’d though I’d share it.

It was a great thrill to witness my first recording session in 1950 and to meet ‘Cactus’ Pryor who was to become a family friend to this day. I had already heard one of his records on the radio called Jackass Caravan which was a funny parody of Frankie Laine’s Mule Train, also a hit by Tennessee Ernie, a record my dad bought at Woolworth’s. “That sure was a funny record Cactus has out,” I remarked to my friends. “I hope someday I can make a record.”

…One of my first completed audio discs was a song I wrote called Disc Jockey Cactus. I took this demo record to Mrs. Macy Henry of Macy’s Records in Houston along with a few other original tunes, hoping for my first record release. The lady patiently listened to my painful playing and high-pitched singing and wisely rejected me as Macy’s Records’ new singing sensation. “Come back in about ten years after your voice has developed and I’ll give you another listen. You might have something there in that disc jockey song,” she said encouragingly…

On that interesting afternoon in the KTBC studio, records were being recorded for 4 Star…I heard the band rehearse and get ‘takes’ of Flying Saucer Mama, and Rag Mop. Jesse’s rendition of the latter tune was a ‘cover’ version of Johnny Lee Wills’ hit on Bullet Records. I recall that all the musicians went into another room to listen to the original hit and came out practicing the lyric “do-di-lee-da-da-loo-di” over and over. The music and singing were all cut together with the band singing off-mike where they were standing. I seem to recall that Jesse did Flying Saucer Mama that day and last up was Cactus with his tune which was Hog Calling Champ Of Arkansas. He requested a double bass on this one and a call was made to Hub Sutter who had finished his radio show at nearby KVET. His bass player, Joe Ramon, who had been a member of Jesse’s band previously, entered the studio cradling his instrument. This tune was somewhat complicated as it contained a key change in the middle when Turkey In The Straw had to be played during the hog calling sequence. A staff announcer named Jim Nummy and Hub Sutter had an interchange with Cactus. (www.bear-family.de)

So there you go! It’s not exactly 15 minutes of fame, and it’s not exactly exciting. But it’s better than calling him “Ol’ What’s-His-Name!” And if you’d like to take a listen to “Hog Calling Champion of Arkansas,” click here.


It’ll be stuck in your head all day!