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Time Out: Moniker Madness 2014

Note: This post runs concurrently under a different name on The Blog of Funny Names

“Every time I sign a ball I thank my lucky stars I wasn’t born Covelski or Wambgnass or Peckingpaugh”–Mel Ott

Mel Ott,  looking as if he just tried to sign his name "Wambgnass."

Mel Ott, looking as if he just tried to sign his name “Wambgnass.”

Ol’ Mr. Ott may be happy for not being any of the names above,  but he never would have won the annual minor league baseball Moniker Madness competition with his name.  He may be a 500-home run Hall-of-Famer, but we at The Blog of Funny Names march to a different drummer.  We’d sooner idolize the likes of past Moniker Madness winners, like Rock Shoulders, Will Startup and Sicnarf Loospstok, the latter of whom was aided by some late ballot-stuffing by the BOFN staff to win last year’s contest.  This year, another 75 amazing and ridiculous names are in the running–you can cast your official vote on the office Minor League Baseball Moniker Madness site through Thursday.

But the poll that really counts is the one we run, where we let our readers select their favorites.   Five of the current top 10 in the standings are profiled below–you can vote for your choice at the bottom of the page.

But first, something completely different.  I can’t help but mention that some of this year’s names seem to fall into some distinct categories–divisions, if you will.  These divisions are:

The “Have Baseballs, Will Travel” division,  including Tommy Toledo, Montana DuRapau and Montreal Robertson;  The “What’s on the Menu” division, starring Mark Hamburger, Joey Pankake and Renzo Martini;  the “I’m Masquerading as a Celebrity” division, with Burt Reynolds and Joan Baez;  and the “With a Name Like This, I Should Have Been a Porn Star,” division comprised of  Steel Russell,  Brock Dyxhoorn and Kieran Lovegrove.

OK, that’s out of my system.  Now, here are the five BOFN nominees you can vote for on this page–all of them are in the top 10 in the Moniker Madness standings as of this writing.  As per last year, I’ll play my favorite name game,  which is speculating what these names sound like their owners should have been if they weren’t baseball players.

Brooks Pounders–Who he is: a journeyman minor league pitcher in the KC Royals organization.  With a name like that, you’d figure he’d be pounding the strike zone, and he has averaged slightly less than 3 walks per nine innings in his 6 year career.  Unfortunately, he’s still in A ball, three levels below MLB.  Who I think his name sounds like?  The IBO Cruiserweight boxing champion of the world.

Venn Biter–Who his is: a 2013 outfield draft choice by the Phillies, currently laboring in the Gulf Coast Rookie League.  Who I think his name sounds like? Count Dracula’s nephew.

Tommy Toledo–Who he is:  a pitcher in The Milwaukee Brewers organization.  Who I think his name sounds like?  President of the Longshoremen,  local #4127.

Damien Magnifico–Who he is:  another Brewers pitcher–an embarrassment of funny names for the Brew Crew.  Who I think his name sounds like?  The Defense Against the Dark Arts professor at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

No, this is not Joey Pankake

No, this is not Joey Pankake

Joey Pankake–Who he is: a 2014 7th round draft choice of the Detroit Tigers,  playing right here in Connecticut in the NY-Penn League.  Who I think his name sounds like?  A less than successful mafia hit man from Brooklyn,  played by Joe Pesci.

This is.

This is.

 

With 75 names to chose from, we’ll allow write in votes.  Heck, vote for your own kid in little league if his–or her–name is funny.

 

 

 

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Cosmic Quote #43

Now this is cosmic.

Now this is cosmic.

“I hate making cosmic comments like this.”–Danny Elfman

You nailed it, Danny boy; bloody waste of time.

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Cosmic Quote(s) #41

“You’re on earth.  There’s no cure for that.”–Samuel Beckett

“We’ve got to reinvest in space travel.  We should have never left the moon.”–Ray Bradbury

“To the moon, Alice!”–Jackie Gleason as Ralph Kramden on “The Honeymooners”

attribution unknown

Samuel Beckett  clearly never spoke to the cow.  Ray Bradbury should have.  Jackie Gleason obviously did.

(illustration attribution unknown)

 

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Time Out: Harry Baals and Wankard Pooser

This post appears today, under a different title, as my monthly guest post on The Blog of Funny Names.

“I saw a snake having sex with a vulture and, I thought, it’s just business as usual in Washington, DC.”–Jarod Kintz

There may be plenty of snakes and vultures in Washington, DC,  but when it comes to flat out, upfront political lewdness, give me the good old American heartland.  Because the best political names–funny and lewd–are out there in the hinterland.  Consider these two, if you will.

Harry William Baals–(b. Nov. 16., 1886, d. May 9, 1954), was the Republican mayor of Ft. Wayne, Indiana from 1934-1947 and from 1951 until his death in 1954.

Harry Baals.  Somebody in Ft. Wayne has a sense of humor.

Harry Baals. Somebody in Ft. Wayne has a sense of humor.

The obvious double entendre on  Baals name has been a source of much consternation in his home town.   In the more innocent Ozzie and Harriet climate of the 1950’s, Harry Baals Drive was named after him.  It has since been renamed H.W. Baals drive.   That’s a shame, but it’s still funnier than George H.W. Bush drive.  (There has to be a Bush and Baals joke in there someplace, but you figure it out.)

More recently,  in 2011,  the city of Fort Wayne held an online vote to name its new government center, and the public overwhelmingly voted for The Harry Baals Government Center–in fact, more then ten times as many votes as any other name.   The horrified city fathers reneged on the contest and simply named the building Citizen’s Square.  But perhaps the worst slight to the memory of this great man–or at least to his great name–is that his ancestors have taken to pronouncing Baals as Bales.  That’s downright un-American.  They will all be blacklisted immediately on The Blog of Funny Names.

At any rate,  Baals died from a kidney infection during his final term in office.  You can only surmise if it might have been brought on by scratching–well, you know.

Wankard Pooser–(b. Sept. 27, 1893, d. Feb. 22, 1978), was a firebrand in the Florida state legislature in the 1940’s.  Pooser was elected to the first of his two terms in 1945, apparently on the merits of his sole campaign promise, which was to vote against every single bill put before the legislature while in office.   He lived up to that promise in his first term, though that did not stop him from introducing a bill, which was a proposal for an amendment to the state constitution to abolish the legislature.   He suggested that by transferring all of the legislature’s powers to the governor, much time and money would be saved.  You’ve got to love a politician who proposed to outlaw politicians!  Unfortunately for Pooser, the amendment went nowhere, as did his subsequent political path.  In his second term he broke his “all no votes” promise–just one single time–and promptly lost his seat when he ran for a third term.  Undeterred, he attempted a comeback in 1952.  He lost.  One can only conclude that his given name appropriately described his career.  (If you don’t get it,  look up the definition of the British slang term “wank.”)

It seems that the national Republican party of that era missed out on one of the greatest photo ops of all time.  If these two had been at the top of their 1948 presidential ticket, that famous newspaper headline might have read Wankard and Baals defeat Truman!

dewey truman

 

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Cosmic Quote #40

“I have a problem with religion or anything else that says ‘we have all the answers.’ We’re complex, we change our minds on issues all the time.  Religion leaves no room for human complexity.”–Daniel Radcliffe

Harry_Potter_14yrsMy head says he’s right, but my heart is broken.  I always thought Harry Potter had all the answers.  The moral of this story?  Never trust anyone with “The Mark of Zorro” on his forehead.

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Time Way Out: The Jug Handle State

“I believe that there’s an intelligence to the universe, with the exception of certain parts of New Jersey.”–Woody Allen

This is a summer rerun.   It’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I’m in the midst of three days stuck in the so called “Garden State” on business, and I thought, “why shouldn’t I share the pain?”

The unintelligent part of Jersey.

The unintelligent part of Jersey.

I have spent the lion’s share of my adult life working in the pharmaceutical industry.   To be precise, I sell goods and services to pharmaceutical companies.  This is a difficult profession, for it entails enduring one of the most hair raising trials-by-fire in any known line of of work.

I have to drive in New Jersey. 

Unfortunately, due to the high concentration of  pharma companies in the so-called Garden State, I have to drive there often.  At least, I try to.  I sometimes think it would be easier to run in quicksand.  It has taken me 15 minutes, on one occasion, just to cross the street.  I have been 20 minutes late in getting to a location less than a mile away–not because there was a lot of traffic–but because I was pointed the wrong way on Route 22 and the nearest jug handle turnaround was three miles and seven traffic lights in the wrong direction.

It all started away back in the mid-1980’s.  I was driving for the first time to Sandoz in East Hanover.  As I approached my target on Route 10 from the west, there majestically high on hill to my right towered a high-rise with large block letters S-A-N-D-O-Z emblazoned across the top floor.  Brilliant!  I found it and I was on time.  I drove past an intersection, turned right into a parking lot and pulled up to a security gate to register for my sales appointment.

“Sorry sir, this is the service entrance, you need to go to the visitors center at the main gate.”

“Huh? Where’s that?”

The guard pointed to the intersection that I had just passed.  No problem, I was 10 minutes early for my appointment.   All I needed to do was pull out of the security area and turn left.  There was just one problem.  Between me and the traffic going in the other direction was something that looked like the Berlin Wall–complete with barbed wire and machine gun turrets.  It was then that I learned about jug handle turns.  You see, New Jersey has it’s own laws of physics.  In New Jersey, you have to turn right to turn left.  Understanding quantum mechanics is easy compared to understanding traffic patterns in New Jersey.

So I continued in the wrong direction on route 10 until I came to the first jug handle turn; I think this was somewhere near Bangor, Maine.  I came back to the original intersection I had missed, only to find there was no left turn allowed there, either.  This required me to go to the next jug handle, just outside of Allentown, PA.  Needless to say, I was late for my appointment.

It all boils down to this.  Other states have freeways, expressways and thruways; in New Jersey they have no-ways. Once you get on, there is no way to get off.  You have to drive to Delaware to turn around.**    There is one good thing about all of this, though. Here where I live in Connecticut, all the country roads in the woods can be confusing, particularly at night.  In a strange area it is easy to drive around in circles if you don’t have a GPS.   But in New Jersey, you don’t need a GPS to know you have gone wrong.  When you miss your turn in Jersey your whole life starts passing in front of you.   By now I have lived more lives than a cat.

**This literally did happen to me once, though it was actually in southeastern Pennsylvania, which has obviously been mapped out by the same civil engineers that designed New Jersey.  I was on a limited access connecting road and missed my exit.  In order to turn around, I had to drive six miles to the end of the connector–which was in Delaware!

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Cosmic Quote #39

“If god had meant us to play soccer, he wouldn’t have given us arms.”–Mike Ditka

www.cartonstock.com used by permission

http://www.cartonstock.com used by permission

If god had meant us to spend this much time online, we would have been born with a modem.   Personally, soccer sort of bores me.  I can’t wait for the world cup to be over so I can go back to being bored watching baseball, tennis and golf.

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Timeout: Hayden Siddhartha Finch and Joe Shlabotnik

This post also appears today under a different name on The Blog of Funny Names

 “It’s no wonder that truth is stranger than fiction.  Fiction has to make sense.”–Mark Twain

With Minor League Baseball’s annual Moniker Madness competition just a few weeks away,  what better time to investigate and recount the stories of two of the most curious names in baseball history?   Not only are the names unusual, but the stories more so, because neither of them ever actually existed.

Sidd Finch.  He looks cuter with the French Horn.

Sidd Finch. He looks cuter with the French Horn.

Hayden Siddhartha “Sidd” Finch (Born and Died, April 1, 1985)  is to baseball what Piltdown Man is to anthropology–the most famous hoax ever recorded.  Concocted by iconic sports author George Plimpton as an April Fools day prank for the April, 1, 1985 issue of Sports Illustrated,  Finch was touted as a super rookie pitcher with the New York Mets.  According to the incredible story–a bit too incredible to get many people to believe it–Finch grew up in an orphanage in Tibet where he learned meditation, yoga and to play the French horn.   Supposedly he had never played baseball before his tryout in Mets spring camp that year but could pitch the ball an astounding 168mph without warming up and while wearing only one shoe with the other foot bare.   It was reported that he was still undecided between a career as a professional baseball player or professional  French horn player. I remember this story vividly, because one of my best friends called me and urged me to get a copy of Sports Illustrated and read the story.   The company I worked for at the time had front season box seats at Shea Stadium for the Mets;  my friend thought I would fall for the story and get really psyched to get a good close up look at this guy.  It didn’t work; I  was not buying it.   From the beginning, something didn’t seem right.  The pictures didn’t feel genuine; they appeared staged.  Then I got to the 168 mph fastball.  I’m an ex-sportscaster and major baseball aficionado–I stopped right there.  The fastest

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

pitch ever officially recorded at that time was 103mph (since surpassed by current Cincinnati Reds pitcher Aroldis Chapman at 105 mph).  I don’t care if the guy had a Howitzer for a right arm, there is no way any human being was going to pitch near that fast.  I turned the front page, looked at the issue date, and said “April Fools.” Ironically, that 1985 Mets team had no need of a Sidd Finch.   Their real super rookie pitcher, Dwight Gooden, had won NL Rookie of the Year award the previous season.  He proceeded to win the NL Cy Young award in 1985 and helped lead the Mets to their best season in history in 1986: 108 wins and a World Series championship.  The only sad thing about this story?  The current Mets probably couldn’t win with five Sidd Finches.

Good 'ol Charlie Brown

Good ‘ol Charlie Brown

Joe Shlabotnik (b.??-d??) was the favorite player of the most famous fictional baseball fan in the history of the universe:  Charlie Brown.  Joe Shlabotnik, in the “Peanuts” world, was to CharlieBrownFootballbaseball, as that infamous failed place kick was to football.  It was Lucy’s ultimate diss of Charlie.  Though Joe was a marginal player who spent most of his time in the minors, Charlie pined for his baseball card but could never get it.  On one occasion in the early 1960’s he squandered $5.00 on 500 penny packs of cards, and did not get one single Joe Shlabotnik.  Lucy then bought one pack, got a Shlabotnik but refused to trade it to Charlie Brown, even for the offer of all those hundreds of penny packs.  Charlie walked away in disgust, and Lucy proceeded to throw Joe in the trash.  “He’s not as cute as I thought,” she opined. With names like Zealous Wheeler, Jose Jose, and 2013 winner Sicnarf Loopstok, we’ve often commented that Minor League Baseball’s Moniker Madness has names that you couldn’t possibly make up.  Well, maybe, but George Plimpton and Charles Schulz might have had something to say about that.

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Tales of a Veterinary Spouse #9: Lions and Tigers and….SNAKES!! Oh my

“Marriage is like putting your hand into a bag full of snakes in the hope of pulling out an eel”–Leanardo da Vinci

“I am working on a new book about a boa constrictor and a litter of hyenas. The boa constrictor swallows the babies one by one, and the mother hyena dies laughing.”–E. B. White

more snakesOphidiophobia.  It’s a fear of snakes, from which many people suffer.  My wife is most certainly not one of them. OK, she’s a veterinarian so it ought not to be a big deal to her.  But let’s just say her non-fear, even love of snakes, is something I learned about very early in our relationship.  Like, within the first fifteen minutes.

It all began one night in June, 39 agonizing years ago.   It was a get-together I organized with a few friends on the occasion of a visit by my sister from the west coast. One of the invitees was the aforementioned Kate (Tales #8).  She brought along a mutual friend of hers and my sister’s.   Of course, that would be Cheryl.  Kate introduced Cheryl to me as a pre-veterinary student at the University of Connecticut, and she added, “come and see the pet snakes in the back of her pickup truck!”  I was not exactly thrilled.  A girl with a pickup truck carting around two pet snakes was not exactly the description of my ideal match.  So of course, I wound up marrying her three years later.

But as snake stories go, that’s not nearly the best one.  In fact, the following story is so #1, there really is no #2.

It started innocently enough one day in mid-August of 1989.  Cheryl went out for her usual late lunch, took her usual catnap in her car, and came back to the office.  But something was clearly up–when she returned to work, the parking lot was packed with a slew of unfamiliar vehicles.  They were news vans.  Channel 3, Channel 8, Channel 25, The Bridgeport Post, The Hartford Courant.  WTF?  What was all this media brouhaha?

Well of course, you’ve figured it out by now.  It was a snake.  But not just any snake, and not just for any normal reason.   It seems that a local Naugatuck woman felt something odd underneath her as she was sitting on the toilet.  It was a six foot boa constrictor.  Honest.  She called the police; they wouldn’t touch it.  The snake stayed in the toilet.  She called Roto Rooter and, no joke, they sent a snake fear-averse serviceman to literally and figuratively snake it out.  The critter was then dispatched to my wife’s practice.  The media loves animal stories, and this was no “dog bites man” run of the mill occurrence.  The story went the 1989 version of viral.  It was picked up by the national wire services and we heard a short mention of it on WCBS newsradio from New York.

So what was the back story?  It seems the previous resident of the apartment in question had owned two boa constrictors.  But the city of Naugatuck has an ordinance against dangerous pets, and this certainly qualified by their standards.   He was reported to the authorities and ordered to get rid of them.    He obliged; or so he said.  Apparently his definition of “rid” was to simply let them loose.

Anyway, the snake was unharmed and shortly transferred to a wild life rehabilitator who eventually found it a legal home.

But wait a minute.  There were two of them.  But there was no immediate sign of the second one.   The residents searched and found nothing–well almost nothing.  A few weeks later, they found a shed snakeskin.   This was not taken as a good sign.  Finally, some six weeks after the original event, my wife got a call from the Naugatuck police.

“We found the second one.  Please come get it.”

She obliged, and got to the residence within a few minutes.  There she found a Naugatuck cop sitting on the front porch, his service revolver drawn.

“Really!!?”  Her reaction was typical Cheryl.  “Are you afraid it’s going to make a break for it?’

Honestly, boa constrictors are not what you would call “speedy.’

She collected the animal and headed back to her office.   When she got there, guess what?

News vans.  Again.   Channel 8.  Channel 3. Etc.   The New Haven Register, having missed the first story, was quick to the scene that Friday, and the story landed on the top of their front page the next day, Saturday, September 23, 1989.   It appeared approximately as shown below, right above a story that Irving Berlin had died 101 that same day.

snakes

 

 

As you may have guessed by now, though, the story did not end here.  Although the second snake wound up with the same wild life rehabilitator,  it made another stop first.  Cheryl, vividly remembering our very first meeting, brought the snake home that evening in an attempt to freak me out.   It didn’t work;  after 14 years with her I’d grown accustom to pranks like this.  But it did freak out our daughter’s somewhat timid nanny, Lynn.   While we were out to dinner, the writhing monster escaped from the box it had been brought home in,  leaving poor Lynn with little option but to muster up her courage and stuff it back in.   To her credit, she did it, and she didn’t quit her job.

Is there a moral to this story?  Of course there is.   Be careful what you marry;  it might come slithering back to bite you.

Cheers  :D

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New Feature: Tales of a Veterinary Spouse

Another oldie but goodie.  New stuff soon–I promise.

“The best doctor in the world is the veterinarian. He can’t ask his patients what is the matter-he’s got to just know.”–Will Rogers

Episode One: You called me for what??

You may laugh, but this is literally true.  I finally became inured, but she ruined my appetite many times.

You may laugh, but this is literally true.  She has ruined my appetite many times.  Image credit unknown.

I don’t know if a veterinarian is the best doctor in the world, but I do know this:  to survive thirty years of marriage to one, I may be the most patient spouse in the world.  The early years were the worst.  Why?  In two words: on call.  Thanks to a proliferation of 24-hour veterinary emergency clinics, she no longer gets those middle of the night wake-up calls.   But here are just two of the many gems she dealt with through the years.

Phone conversation Sunday afternoon late summer day

Panicked client: “Help! My dog can’t get up!”

Dr. Sackler:  “What’s happening.”

Panicked client: “My dog can’t get up.”

An effective restraint device?

An effective restraint device?

Dr. Sackler: “Well can you describe the situation?”

Panicked client: “I see my dog outside struggling to get up and he can’t get up.”

Dr. Sackler: “Well stay calm and go out there and take a closer look.”

The dog’s collar ID tag was caught in a slot between planks on the wood deck.

Phone conversation at 1 AM, Monday Morning

Ditzy client: “Dr. Sackler, I swallowed my dog’s heart worm pill, what should I do?”

Dr. Sackler: “Mrs. So-and-so, I can’t help you.  If your dog had swallowed your birth control pill, that I could help you with. But I can’t advise you on a human accidental dosing, you have to call your medical doctor.”

Ditzy client: “OH, It’s the middle of the night, I can’t bother my doctor!”

Dr. Sackler: “What am I, chopped liver?”  CLICK!!

The second story was so ridiculous, my daughter, who was in 9th grade at the time, wrote it up and submitted it to Readers Digest for their On The Job column.  They published it–sans the closing chopped liver line– and paid her $300.  Oh, and it also turned up a couple of years later on a page-a-day calendar created from that column.  Those were fifteen minutes of  fame my wife could have lived without.

That’s enough for now, but stay tuned.  These stories are just the tip of the iceberg–they get better.

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