The Journal of Provincial Thought
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luminance Pigasus the JPT flying pig, copyright 2008 Schafer
Pete Branch Memorial Name Repository
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the Admiral Benbow Exhibit
Real Odd Names of Real Odd People

Blues Birdhead, harmonica player on “Get Up Off that Jazzophone,” by The Bubbling-Over Five, OKeh record, 1929.

Hense Grundy, trombonist on many recordings with Clifford Hayes’ Louisville Stompers, mid-1920s.

Nanki Poo, wandering minstrel, formerly disguised as second trombone in the Titipu (Japan) village band, son of the Mikado in the eponymous opera by W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan (1885).

Irving  Fasola, New Orleans clarinetist, who legally changed his last name from Prestopnik, on the grounds that it was a silly name.

Bill Wambsganss, second baseman, who on Sunday, October 10, 1920, in the fifth game of the World Series between Cleveland and Brooklyn, made the greatest unassisted triple play in baseball history and thus enshrined his evidently unpronounceable name forever.

Andreamenentiana Paul Razafinkeriefo, usually called “Andy Razaf” for obvious reasons, was the songwriting partner of Fats Waller and other greats of the Golden Age of Pop Music, living from 1895 to 1973.  You have heard and sung so many of his lyrics you wouldn’t believe it!  He got his name by being a member of the royal family of Madagascar, and despite what you may have learned from cartoon movies, they really do things differently there.

Theda Bara, a name anagrammatically derived from the sinister phrase “Arab death,” at a time when sinister Arabs were boffo box office.  Bara was really Theodosia Goodman, itself a whackoid name that  might have been swiped from Nathaniel Hawthorne.  Goodman/Bara lived from 1885 to 1955, in her youth lighting up the silent screen with gallons of “it” or “sex appeal,” exemplifying the role of “vamp,” even in a film already called The Vampire or in A Fool There Was, which sounds posilutely Biblical.

U Nu, former Burmese or Meeanmarite politician (b. 1907).  How could one go through life being called “You Knew”?  It’s as bad as Hu Nu.  All too allegorical for words.

Orpheus C. Kerr, pen name ( = “office seeker”) of boringly named Robert Henry Newell (b. 1836) at a time when frontier humor flourished and books were felt to be outlandishly funny if the dialogue was all misspelled.  Mark Twain killed the subgenre with a few jibes in real American English.

H*y*m*a*n* K*a*p*l*a*n*, weird name of character in a very funny 1937 book by Leonard Q. Ross, whose real name was Leo C. Rosten.  When will this rampant identity theft and self-imposture ever end?

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