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January 16, 2007

“Why are British Sex Scandals So Much Better than Ours?”
Posted by Patrick at 12:51 PM * 158 comments

An historical overview from James Wolcott, beginning with Keeler and Profumo, as one does.

I particularly liked the News of the World headline on the exposure of the Currie/Major affair: “Yes, Yes, Yes, Prime Minister.” But are there really human beings with names like “Petronella Wyatt”?

Comments on "Why are British Sex Scandals So Much Better than Ours?":
#1 ::: Sajia Kabir ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 01:17 PM:

For shame, Patrick. Shameless attempt to boost your website's Technorati rankings. Tsk, tsk.
(And yes, first comment! Hurrah!)

#2 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 01:28 PM:

Indeed there are. And Nigella Lawson may be a popsy, but that's not what she's known for...

#3 ::: Dave MB ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 01:31 PM:

According to Mark Steyn's obituary for Profumo in the Atlantic last year, he came home from resigning his seat in Parliament and went off to volunteer the next morning at Toynbee Hall, a mission to the poor of London's East End. He devoted most of the rest of his life to this organization. I was sorry Wolcott didn't throw that in -- it is part of how Profumo deserves to be remembered.

#4 ::: Todd Larason ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 02:17 PM:

In Wolcott's initial roundup of embarrassingly sexless American sex scandals, he missed my favorite.

In the Senate race which Barack Obama ended up winning, the first Republican nominee was Jack Ryan (no, not the character from the Tom Clancy novels), ex-husband of Jeri Ryan (yes, 7 of 9). He dropped of the race following a sex scandal in which no sex occurred, and the sex which didn't occur, had it occurred, would have been with his wife.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/archive/0625041ryans1.html

#5 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 02:37 PM:

The Profumo Affair, be it noted, didn't just involve the demi-monde. On its fringes were even more unsavoury types.

#6 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 03:31 PM:

This is one sexy blog recently...scandals, porn, Grackles on Campus, Spartacus...

Wolcott's got the best lurid-scandal writing style I've seen this side of Kenneth Anger. "From Bill Clinton seeking body warmth in Monica Lewinsky's pillowy embrace to Foley batting his eyelashes online," "engaging in full frontal canoodle," "an extramarital thingie," and "If the aftermath of the Currie-Major affair resembled a nasty altercation between an acetylene torch and a frozen fish stick..." are my favorites.

#7 ::: y ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 03:52 PM:

Where is Alexander Hamilton when we need him?

#8 ::: abi ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 03:55 PM:

I am impressed - they didn't mention Stephen Milligan.

I remember where I was when I heard about Edwina Currie and John Major. I remember how far my jaw dropped, even before she was quoted as saying they were both "young, healthy and handsome" at the time (this was as far as she went toward a justification.)

#9 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 03:58 PM:

y #7: Or Grover Cleveland.

#10 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 04:00 PM:

the aftermath of the Currie-Major affair... which caused the history of physics to be totally changed as... Oh, it's Currie, not Curie. Nevermind.

#11 ::: Christopher B. Wright ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 04:05 PM:

Well we're still a young country. GB has had a lot of time to devlop the sex scandal. One might say it's an unfair comparison.

That said, we did have Huey Long...

#12 ::: Aconite ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 04:20 PM:

y@7: Where is Alexander Hamilton when we need him?

Griping about how Ben Franklin gets all the cool chicks?

#13 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 04:45 PM:

And he only mentions the straight, non-kinky, sex scandals. Though perhaps a kink for self-asphyxiation is going too far, one might consider it worth encouraging in Washington.

#14 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 05:10 PM:

Gary Hart doesn't count now?

#15 ::: Madeleine Robins ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 05:20 PM:

Warren G. Harding supposedly fathered a child in a White House closet (which is to say, the conception took place there; the birth somewhere else). Of course, there's so much else to say about Harding that is damning that mere copulation seems rather beside the point.

#16 ::: sharon ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 06:23 PM:

And then there's Cecil Parkinson, David Mellor (eewwww), Ron Davies, Mark Oaten...

But the Currie/Major affair came out way too late to be a scandal. A lot of jaws dropped, but it was just funny. In British politics it's only a real scandal if someone resigns.

#17 ::: Emil ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 06:44 PM:

Wasn't Petsy Wyatt involved in a thing herself, with Conservative MP Boris Johnson? He memorably described the reports about his affair as "an inverted pyramid of piffle".

#18 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 06:49 PM:

What about Canada's political scandals?

#19 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 07:02 PM:

They're kind of pale copies of the British. There was Gerda Munsinger in the 1960s: a nightclub waitress and Soviet spy who befriended some Cabinet ministers. That was the best one.

Then Judi Tyabji, a liberal cabinet minister in British Columbia, having an affair with the leader of her party. I was on their side. It seemed kind of a daring, romantic thing, especially when Conservative members made snarky remarks about washing dirty pantyhose. The two later married, but you have to look all this up on Wikipedia for the full stories.

Any other good ones? Canadian politics can be quite fascinating once you get past the boring stuff.

#20 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 07:09 PM:

There was a high-profile candidate in the last election who hired an exotic dancer as her campaign manager, I believe. Canadians can be so dreary and uptight when it comes to reacting to stuff like this, but I guess it's a northern thing.

Still, even though we've elected a Bush wanna-be as Prime Minister, I'm happy not to have some of the political personalities up here that lurk down in the States.

#21 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 07:09 PM:

That's IT for the land of my birth, Jack? Nothing since Pierre Elliot Trudeau's bachelor days? Nothing juicy about Jean Chretien?

#22 ::: Alan Bostick ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 07:20 PM:

But are there really human beings with names like “Petronella Wyatt”?

Let us not even mention the reporters with names like "Barry Didcock."

#23 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 07:24 PM:

Canada? Well, there's always the Gerda Munsinger affair, complete with judicial inquiry. This erupted in 1966, three years after the Profumo Affair. I remember being mostly impressed that -- my goodness, we too could have a juicy political sex scandal involving the KGB.

But most of our political scandals are quite unsexy.

#24 ::: Jack Ruttan ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 07:42 PM:

Gosh, Serge, I've already got researchers asking me to back up flip comments I made in a story about the Enigma machine, producers wanting me to make their pitch documents even sexier and more pitchy, and you want me to remember entertaining Canadian political scandals?

(you can tell I'm relaxing from above work to make comments on a blog)

I don't think things are as sexy as they used to be in the Trudeau years. There is what's-his-name, Canada's only openly gay MP, (Svend Robinson) who did a Winona Ryder in a jewelry shop, and later, the leader of the Liberal party in Alberta, who quit and took up some New Age religion after a near-death experience in the dentist's chair.

That's enough. Nobody visits my very earnest sketch blog. I should turn it into "Perez Hilton" for the Canuck set, and then I'd get hits, and I could write a book.

#25 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 07:46 PM:

Chretien was very boring. He mostly went in for, ah, slightly questionable allocation of funds. No sex. Sorry. The Conservatives milked the "Sponsorships Scandal" well enough that voters are currently giving the Liberals a time-out from being the government, but the sums involved were what Americans would consider a rounding error.

Okay, there was that time he nearly throttled a heckler that got too close. And the time a burglar got into his official residence... But sexual hanky-panky? Nah.

#26 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 07:48 PM:

Hint, hint, eh, Jack?

#27 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 07:50 PM:

So much for my supposedly hot-blooded French-Canadian brethren, Sylvia.

#28 ::: Jonathan Versen ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 08:34 PM:

"...who did Winona Ryder in a jewelry shop?"

What!!

[sounds of scrolling back to check, and blog-themed elevator music]

Oh.

I don't know-- I like my version better, even if the actual quote makes a little more sense.

Tell me, does Ms. Wyatt look like a really suggestive scented candle? Or is someone selling such a candle, perhaps one that would fit nicely in Ms. Ryder's purse?

#29 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 08:35 PM:

But are there really human beings with names like “Petronella Wyatt”?

I'm reminded of Bester's The Stars My Destination where many of the characters were named after British place-names for added exoticism. Has quite a different effect on the British ear to the American one, I expect.

In British politics it's only a real scandal if someone resigns.

Maybe we can get rid of Tony that way?

#30 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 09:03 PM:

Next, the sex life of John Diefenbaker...

#31 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 11:26 PM:

We still don't know what (or who) Jeff Gannon was doing during all those after-hours, off-the-books visits to the Bush White House.

#32 ::: Epacris ::: (view all by) ::: January 16, 2007, 11:44 PM:

But are there really human beings with names like “Petronella Wyatt”?
I once started reading a book with a very skeptical mindset because I was deeply suspicious that the author's name was some sort of joke. Apparently “Bamber Gascoigne” is (or was) quite well known in Britain; less so antipodally.

#33 ::: Patrick Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 12:09 AM:

A discussion of Canadian political sex scandals (or alleged lack thereof) that doesn't even mention Margaret Trudeau? Truly, I am ashamed for you all.

Then again, it was a friend of my kid brother's who got dragged away by the police when, at a Trudeau rally, he climbed up on his friend's shoulders to cry out "Maggie Fucked Mick!"

And they say Canadians are colorless.

#34 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 12:43 AM:

Canadian sex scandals: a morose overview, with an unfortunate title.

#35 ::: David Goldfarb ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 02:22 AM:

And oddly enough, today's entry in Pepys' diary features Sam'l recording sexual shenanigans of his own in a really bizarre Franglais. (He's thrown in the occasional Latin tag in the past, but never mixed up languages as in today's entry.)

#36 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 03:24 AM:

Patrick, the thing about the Margaret Trudeau 'scandals' is that Canadians weren't scandalized. We collectively went, "Oh. That's, um, interesting. Not any of our business, of course. So what do you think of the Leafs' chances tonight?"

The article you pointed to, Teresa, is pretty accurate, especially when it says Canadians only tend to care about a public figure's sexual conduct if it intersects public policy -- or if actual laws were broken. Then it's our business. Not otherwise.

Don't know if anyone here follows For Better For Worse, but there's a recent storyline that's relevant to this point: None of our business.

Very Canadian.

#37 ::: Andrew Brown ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 03:32 AM:

Petronella Wyatt only has this silly name because her mother is Hungarian. No wonder she prefers to be known as Petsy; her column on the "Spectator" was known to the staff as "Pet's Corner".

While on the subject of funny names, I would just point out that no one in Britain has ever been christened "Randy California".

#38 ::: Dave Langford ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 05:17 AM:

#17 Boris Johnson? He memorably described the reports about his affair as "an inverted pyramid of piffle".

Maybe he's a fan of Kingsley Amis, who in Jake's Thing used the phrase "inverted pyramid of piss" to describe a vague and spurious structure of belief based on some trivial point. (In the novel, a character's prejudice against India and everything connected with it is ascribed to his wife's former husband's fondness for curries.)

#39 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 05:32 AM:

The Spectator business actually provoked otherwise intelligent people to start drawing spidery "who shagged who" diagrams for the first time since university.
It's worth pointing out that the US can hold its own in the area of Ugandan affairs (as the Eye used to call it for reasons that now escape me); at roughly the same time that a not-very-well-known British cabinet minister was having an affair with some random slapper called Christine, the President of the United States was having an affair with Marilyn Monroe.
Now, I have a great deal of respect for Harold Wilson, but to my knowledge he never had a fling with Elizabeth Taylor. I think the US is still ahead on this one. Although, of course, it's not a scandal if nobody finds out.

Though I admit that purely in terms of silly names (yes, they are just as silly to the British ear) the Old Country has the edge.

#40 ::: Gag Halfrunt ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 06:19 AM:

From Wikipedia:

The phrase "Ugandan relations" (or "Ugandan discussions" or "Ugandan affairs"), for example, is a Private Eye euphemism for illicit sex, usually while carrying out a supposedly official duty. According to Brewer's Dictionary of Modern Phrase and Fable (2000) the term is a reference to an incident at a party hosted by the journalist Neal Ascherson and his first wife, at which fellow journalist Mary Kenny had a "meaningful confrontation" with a former cabinet minister in the government of Milton Obote, later explaining that they were "upstairs discussing Uganda". The poet James Fenton apparently coined the term. In 1996, 'Getting Back to Basics' was suggested as a replacement euphemism after the disastrous policy of the same name adopted by John Major's government (see Back to Basics (campaign)).

#41 ::: Scott Martens ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 06:36 AM:

Yes, if we're going to talk about Canadian sex scandals, who said that "the government has no place in the bedrooms of the nation"? I know it's attributed to Trudeau, but I think it's apocryphal. My father always used to say that in Canada, we also believe that the nation has no place in the bedrooms of the government.

#42 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 07:15 AM:

Patrick @ 33... "Maggie Fucked Mick!"

I suddently have this image of Mick getting it from Maggie Thatcher. Time for some mental mouthwash.

#43 ::: SKapusniak ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 07:21 AM:

And as that Wikipedia article Gag references says your really should 'see Back to Basics (campaign)'

They have a list, a looooong list :)

#44 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 07:44 AM:

Epacris #32: Bamber Gascoigne is not British, but Irish.

#45 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 07:44 AM:

Is there such a thing as a French sex scandal? I think the attitude over there is even more strongly like what Sylvia Li said @ 36 about Madame Trudeau and Monsieur Jagger - does it affect policy? I remember exchanging emails with writer Elisabeth Vonarburg when the whole Lewinsky brouhaha was happening. Elisabeth grew up in France and she thought that, even from her own feminist point-of-view about women as mistresses, she thought the reaction of the American public was so strange.

#46 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 07:58 AM:

Fragano @44... Is 'Bamber' as a family name also Irish?

#47 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 08:07 AM:

Serge, that's because it was never about sex. It was a cynical right-wing attempt to grab power. Almost all the Republicans going after Clinton had far more irregular personal lives. The Washington press corps knew this, and were complicit from day one.

#48 ::: Dave Hutchinson ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 08:36 AM:

It probably doesn't qualify as a sex scandal, but I couldn't in all conscience read this and not mention the howling vortex of sexual energy which is Lembit Opik, MP...

#49 ::: Martyn Taylor ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 08:47 AM:

So Petronella Wyatt and Bamber Gascoigne are funny names. I just glanced at nfl.com and found Ladanian Tomlinson, Laverunes Coles, Donnell Woolford, Deion Branch and Keyshawn Johnson - by no means the most exotic, and ignoring all the Juniors and Bubbas et al. Two nations divided by a common language, naming conventions and mutually misunderstood jokes.

As it happens, Petsy comes from stock that deserves its own chapter in the book of British politics sexual adventures. Bamber, however, is an academic, author, television presenter and personality. I can just see the wry smile on his face at being mentioned in this context.

Glad to see ajay mentioned JFK and one of his many conquests. Perhaps a cruise through Gore Vidal's accounts of founding father's peccadilloes might be instructive - as well as entertaining.

#50 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 08:52 AM:

Profumo was my Mum's MP. Later, we had Jonathan Aitken, who's scandal was unsexy. But she doesn't think she's a jinx. Her current MP is almost certainly not going to have to resign. Who could imagine a scandal involving Ladyman?

#51 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 09:08 AM:

Teresa @ 47... Serge, that's because it was never about sex.

No kidding, Teresa. What perplexed Elisabeth is that Clinton's extra-marital activities could actually be used against him.

#52 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 09:17 AM:

This site has a set of "culture tests" for different nations, the idea being to expose how certain things "everyone knows" or "everyone does" may be culturally variable.

One of the topics is, in fact, how the "average" person reacts to news of a politician's extramarital affair.[*] It's kind of fun to look for variations from country to country (though since these are compiled by individuals, it's not clear how reliable they might be).

United States:

If a politican has been cheating on his wife, you would question his ability to govern.
Canada:
If a politican has been cheating on his wife, that's his business.
Australia:
If a politician cheats on his wife (e.g. Bob Hawke), it has no bearing whatsoever on his ability to govern. After all, your nation was founded by criminals rather than Puritans.
Turkey:
If a politician has not been cheating on his wife, you would question his ability to govern.

[*] It's usually phrased as "If a politician cheats on his wife ...", so more colorful things like the Profumo scandal aren't covered.

#53 ::: Randolph Fritz ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 09:18 AM:

Serge, it is pretty strange, when you think about it. The people most concerned about Clinton's behavior are also the ones who have the biggest pecadillos themselves. But pious hypocrisy never goes out of style in US politics.

#54 ::: dave ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 09:21 AM:

Fragano@44, do you have any proof of Gascoigne's Irishness? According to Wikipedia, he was born in London, and there's no mention of and Irish connection.

#55 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 09:22 AM:

Not that strange, Randolph. Most of the politicians who attacked Clinton didn't care what he did in private, but they acted as if they did because it played so well with the People. And that is funny.

#56 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 09:30 AM:

#50: The Aitken scandal wasn't entirely unsexy - it involved an illegitimate daughter fathered on the ex-wife of Saudi arms dealer and all-round dodgy person Adnan Khashoggi, and a wife called (really) "Lolicia". (Poor kid.)
I think a better description of Aitken was "fractally dodgy"; any aspect of the scandal, when examined closely, reveals itself to be as tawdry and dishonest as the whole.

#57 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 09:45 AM:

If Bamber were female, the nickname would definitely be "Bambi".

And #36, I do still read "For Better or Worse", even though it's been getting awfully dark of late. For Elizabeth's journey, I figured either the copter would crash -- marooning her with her ex-beau the pilot -- or the sexy Native Canadian policeman would be cheating on her. Choice #2 was correct. Gee, sounds more like a soap opera! But it can still be fun, and I sorta identify with the middle-aged characters.

#58 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 09:52 AM:

Say, Faren, am I the only reader of "For Better or Worse" who was bugged by Elizabeth nearly getting raped and its seemingly having no effect on her thoughts, until the creep's trial started a whole year later? Maybe that's just bad storytelling.

#59 ::: Martin Wisse ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 10:10 AM:

I'm have to say, I'm disappointed in Wolcott: no Shagger Norris? (And in general, no sense whatsoever what makes these scandals fun. He's also completely wrong on Blunkett, who most hated rather than pitied for the bully he was.)

Epacris #32: You've enver seent he Young Ones episode Bambi, their pisstake on University Challenge (Yukia's version of College Bowl) and its then host, Bamber Gascoine?

#60 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 10:56 AM:

While on the subject of funny names, I would just point out that no one in Britain has ever been christened "Randy California".

Andrew, I don't think people being called Randy has the same effect on Americans.

#61 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 10:57 AM:

Yup, no Norris. And no Jeremy Thorpe! (The Liberals' very own - it had gay sex, a party leader, and the shooting of a *dog* in a botched crime of passion..)

Or Tom Driberg? Labour MP, spectacularly gay, well-known for escapades including going cottaging in 1950s Moscow and making moves, drunkenly, on a journalist(Alan Watkins, no less) during the Labour Party Conference. He was alleged to have been threatened with blackmail by a KGB honeytrap, but was cleared by MI5 on the grounds that he didn't care if they published the photos..

#62 ::: theophylact ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 10:57 AM:

Speaking of differing national styles: Here's a 1998 New York Times piece (probably the link won't work, but I have Times Select) by Alessandra Stanley on foreign reaction to the Clinton sexcapade:

In Russia, where President Boris N. Yeltsin's weakness for vodka is well-known, shrugged-off and rarely reported, there was even a tinge of admiration for the American President's alleged vigor.

"People here watch and think, well, there may be something wrong with it, but on the other hand, he is a real muzhik," said Sergei Markov, a political analyst on a television talk show, using the Russian word for "real man." He added, "They think this is the guy we need to rule the country."
#63 ::: Alex ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 10:59 AM:

Oh yes, headlines: the Scum, I think, covered the November 1992 sterling crisis, which followed one of the Major government's many bimbo eruptions, as follows: Now we've ALL been screwed by the cabinet.

#64 ::: Jon Meltzer ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 11:09 AM:

While on the subject of funny names, I would just point out that no one in Britain has ever been christened "Randy California".

His real last name was "Wolfe". "California" was a nickname given by a bandmate, one James M. Hendrix.

#65 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 11:25 AM:

Serge #46: 'Bamber' is a family name in the Anglo-Irish Gascoigne family. The host of 'University Challenge' was not the first Bamber Gascoigne.

#66 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 11:25 AM:

Ajay #56 - you're right of course, but when you've met the man (also one of his daughters) you try and blank out the bits you'd rather not hear. I met him when I was 17 (he gave some good advice to our 6th Form debating team) so in my mind I had the teenage idea he was always too old to have been having sex.

The more you know people involved, the less entertaining these things seem.

#67 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 11:32 AM:

Dave #54: It's my recollection of an essay he wrote for, I think, the Listener many moons ago.

#68 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 11:38 AM:

Fragano @ 65... Thanks.

#69 ::: candle ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 12:14 PM:

"Randy California".

Meanwhile, here in Cambridge (UK) there is the prospect of an accommodation block for postgraduate students being named after the man whose fortune funded it, and ending up as "the Randy Lerner building".

I take no responsibility if this turns out to be untrue. And so that I can indulge in equal-opportunity name-calling, I feel I should mention Peregrine Worsthorne. A quick check on his Wikipedia entry leaves me none the wiser on the question of how he ended up with that surname. Can someone (maybe with Flemish) help me out?

#70 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 12:24 PM:

#60: Righto. I have a friend from college who is still called Randy Four because he was the fourth Randy to join our group of friends. It's a common nick for Randall or Randolph.

'Randy' just doesn't carry that meaning in America. We use the word 'horny' instead. The studies of sexuality done by Karen Horney were worth a chuckle among the Beavis and Butthead set, even though she pronounced it horn-eye.

#71 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 01:12 PM:

even though she pronounced it horn-eye.

That's just chicken. It's like people who call themselves "de Ath", and all the Bottoms who pronounce it "Bott-ōm’".

The British have been having political sex scandals as long as they've had a political class. The "first Prime Minister", Robert Walpole, was famous for catching his wife in flagrante with a political ally, and ignoring the incident because he owed the guy too many favours.

#72 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 01:42 PM:

#58 ::: Serge wondered:
Say, Faren, am I the only reader of "For Better or Worse" who was bugged by Elizabeth nearly getting raped and its seemingly having no effect on her thoughts, until the creep's trial started a whole year later? Maybe that's just bad storytelling.

I don't think it's bad storytelling, per se - it does make sense to me that she'd want to try and put it behind her and forget about it (barring the occasional dark night) - and that the trial would bring all of it back to the front of her mind again.

#73 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 01:49 PM:

#41 - Scott: Trudeau definitely said it -- I remember thinking when that speech was reported, what a remarkably sensible way that was to put it. It was also a remarkably astute way to appeal to the very strong streak of MYOB that runs through Canadian culture, as we've been discussing here. I've no notion, though, how to find out if he was the first to use that wording.

#52 - I'd add to the Canadian reaction, "And hers."

#57 - Elizabeth is going to end up happily married to Anthony, that much is obvious. They've had quite the series of complications, though, haven't they? Soap opera indeed, but for me, that's not an insult. Soap opera is a narrative technique, not a quality judgement.

As for #58, the impact of the near-rape... well, I think some of that's imposed by the daily-comics form, which doesn't allow for much dwelling on the past. Each strip also has to work in isolation. Readers are supposed to supply emotional context from their knowledge of past events. For instance, in the strip I linked to above, Elizabeth is devastated. Yet by today, a few days later, she's interacting with young Jesse who took her harmonica. You don't see her thinking about Paul. If you saw the earlier strip you know that under the surface she is grieving, but if you were on holidays and missed it, the episode with Jesse still makes sense.

#74 ::: Daniel Boone ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 01:54 PM:

Speaking of chicken, there's a Chevrolet dealership in Oklahoma city called Knipplemeyer Chevrolet. In their TV advertising, they are emphatic about pronouncing the K -- as in, "kuh-nipplemeyer."

Yeah, right.

#75 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 01:57 PM:

That's just chicken. It's like people who call themselves "de Ath", and all the Bottoms who pronounce it "Bott-ōm’".

"TÉ! TÉ! Big BooTÉ!"

(And my initial thought was "I've never had a bottom say that to me." Oops.)

#76 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 01:58 PM:

xeger @ 72... Sylvia @ 73... It's obvious who Elizabeth will wind up, but this has been going on for so long, I wish somebody would verbally knock some sense into her.

#77 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 02:01 PM:

The SoCal car dealer whose name is spelled 'Todey' and who insists it's pronounced 'Toddy'

#78 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 04:25 PM:

Was it somebody here, some threads ago, that was worrying about Elizabeth's gradual loss of independence? If she winds up with Anthony, it's going to get worse. Somebody's got to take care of Anthony's child. Something tells me Elizabeth will not be doing a fourth year of teaching.

#79 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 05:21 PM:

chris y #60: "I don't think people being called Randy has the same effect on Americans."

Oh, I don't know; when a friend of mine was dating a Randy Chestnut, there was endless hilarity.

#80 ::: Sandy B. ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 05:24 PM:

Sex in Canada [in my experience] isn't a big enough deal to have a scandal over.

Not compared to, say, stealing votes while holding a rigged referendum to try to BREAK THE COUNTRY APART.

(Which happened... what, 10 years ago?)

#81 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 05:25 PM:

I predicted that Lizard Breath would end up with Anthony years ago. Also, as soon as I saw Susan, I knew the cop was going to end up with her.

#82 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 05:32 PM:

Yeah, well, Xopher, I wasn't surprised either. Any time a character shows up in a story whose name is Susan, you know she's going to be trouble. (I should know, I married one.)

#83 ::: Howard Peirce ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 05:50 PM:

My middle name is Randol, and I was Randy all throughout my childhood in the American midwest. I don't think I was more than 8 or 9 years old when I found out that being Randy could be embarrassing. Being a sensitive lad, when I entered middle school, I stopped being Randy and became Howard. I'm still Randy to some of my relatives, but not my immediate family.

If you're a Randy-American, or friends with one, you're plenty familiar with the double entendre. That said, it's no worse than being named Dick or Peter or Willie. If you're a decent enough person, everyone quickly forgets any naughty associations.

#84 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 06:07 PM:

And then there is a pleasant Aussie chap I met 13 or 14 years ago, named Richard Head.

#85 ::: xeger ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 07:35 PM:

... and a lovely gentleman by the name of Dick Pierce who I used to kayak with ...

#86 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 07:42 PM:

as long as we're talking names that don't translate into other cultures, i have to bring up israeli talk-show host guy pines (yes, it's pronouced exactly as if the vowels were transposed). he actually interviewed julia roberts once; after she stopped laughing, she said "well, i guess it's better than guy vagina."

i also knew a japanese exchange student named mariko takeshita. but it was not pronounced anything like that.

#87 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 08:01 PM:

Names that don't translate well - Fannie Farmer.

When your friends from Britain laugh, find out what Fanny refers to in British slang.

The corner near the university where I used to work has three unfortunate business names. A woman I work with calls it the Double-Entendre Trifecta. Thing is, they are all pretty decent shops.

Beaver Sports - Sporting Goods
Bun on the Run - Bakery
Hot Licks - Ice Cream Shop

Oh, and on the other side of town:
Alaska Bush Cutters - Barbershop

I feel so juvenile. I think I need to go back to the other thread where Serge is conducting elevated conversation regarding classic films.

#88 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 08:58 PM:

My Dad's college friends all call him Dick. This isn't especially funny, except my Uncle is known to the same people as Willy.

#89 ::: CHip ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 10:07 PM:

Faren@57: why call for a gender change? Paul Bamberg, who taught me data structures and 8086 assembly language, was commonly referred to as Bambi....

#90 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 17, 2007, 10:15 PM:

Hey, I had an uncle Willy.

#91 ::: Kevin Marks ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 03:56 AM:

I live here in San Jose on Koch Lane. Pronunciation varies wildly from cosh to coke to cotch and so on. No-one says 'cock' or an accurate German koch. Reminds me of Waugh in 'The Loved One' , where the protagonist is chided with 'Why are you pronouncing Mr Meddissey's name like that? You make him sound like some kind of wop.'

#92 ::: chris y ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 04:47 AM:

Just to mention in passing that I was actually at school with a kid called Willie Dix. Some parents should be prosecuted.

#93 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 09:20 AM:

Belatedly getting back to the "For Better or Worse" subthread...

I think Elizabeth's putting the trauma aside has been explained well by now (see above). As for Anthony, ugh! He reminds me way too much of the cutesy-poo Christian neighbor on "The Simpsons" (in looks and single-fatherhood, and to some extent in personality as well). Better that she should run off with a wild poet, or something -- though she won't.

#94 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 09:30 AM:

As for myself, Faren, I like Anthony. Not because he reminds me of what I looked like in my early 20s, of course. Nor because Lizard Breath is a cute lady. Of course not. That'd be a silly idea.

#95 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 11:59 AM:

#91: there are two streets in Washington Heights called Seaman and Cumming, and they intersect. A friend of mine whose house was on the former street but quite a distance from the latter, referring to a friend who lived between, once said to me "I live on Seaman, but I'm nowhere near Cumming. Nina is a lot closer to Cumming than I am."

#96 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 01:00 PM:

Xopher #95: That's Inwood, not Washington Heights.

(I lived on Academy Street, a few blocks from Seaman and Cumming, in the 80s.)

#97 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 02:21 PM:

Fragano #96: Actually, it's Shorakopik. But who's counting.

#98 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 02:46 PM:

Xopher #97: Thanks. I'd forgotten the original name.

#99 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 03:16 PM:

Took me a while to find it. Once I managed to spell it correctly, there was ONE PAGE on Google that mentioned it! I'd thought that the city had officially renamed Inwood Hill Park as Shorakopik Park, but I couldn't find any reference to that.

#100 ::: miriam beetle ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 03:16 PM:

xopher,

there are two streets in Washington Heights called Seaman and Cumming, and they intersect.

that beats the intersection of gay & high, near the university in columbus.

#101 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 03:18 PM:

Of coruse, you all know about Toronto's intersection of Clinton and Gore.

#102 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 03:19 PM:

My favorite intersection is Christopher and Gay Streets in Greenwich Village. I used to have a picture of myself standing under the sign, trying to look tough (the angelic face and golden ringlets I then had defeated this effort, however).

#103 ::: P J Evans ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 03:27 PM:

I've been waiting for the intersection of Monitor and Merrimack, in one or another of the tract with naval-type names around LA. Haven't seen it yet.

There was a firetruck callout once in San Jose, many years ago, to an incident at the intersection of Partridge and Peartree.

#104 ::: Sylvia Li ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 03:49 PM:

Faren #93: A wild poet would be wrong for Elizabeth -- she'd soon be miserable. Besides, she has loved Anthony for a long time, she just hasn't let herself realize it. She's been looking for dazzling storybook romance, but what's between her and Anthony is the real thing, a deep affection that has the strength to last a lifetime. He's kind, he's loving, and he's rock-solid trustworthy, which makes him a jewel among men, more valuable than pearls.

She's just now becoming mature enough to appreciate this.

I don't think she'll leave teaching. That would be needless duplication; the strip already has Deanna to address the role of full-time mother to small kids. Elizabeth will become a working step-mom.

#105 ::: Julie L. ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 04:34 PM:

wrt FBOFW, some readers have been particularly creeped out by the near-rape being used as an authorial ploy to rekindle the romance between Elizabeth and Anthony. Or at least rekindle Liz's side; Anthony's torch for her has been burning at both ends since, during, and before his brief failed marriage.

(And then there's the incipient Warren/Paul slash being written in that community. You have been warned.)

#106 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 04:39 PM:

Sylvia, I'd like to think Elizabeth would keep on teaching, but consider: one of Therese's many failings was that she left the baby for Anthony to care for. Elizabeth would feel that she's got to take care of it, if only to prove to all hands that she's no Therese. No doubt this comes under the heading of "feels like I should, and therefore I really shouldn't," but it's very difficult to see that clearly sometimes.

#107 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 07:12 PM:

I'm surprised that none of the {present and former) New Yorkers has yet mentioned the intersection of John and Beaver in the Wall Street area.

#108 ::: Vicki ::: (view all by) ::: January 18, 2007, 09:50 PM:

The plaque in Inwood Hill Park spells it "Shorakopoch," if I recall correctly; I'm sure there's no "i" in it. (I'm not going out to check tonight, sorry.)

But nobody actually calls the neighborhood that. Bad enough we've got recent settlers from, I'm guessing, somewhere downtown who are trying to turn Washington Heights into something like Noho or Tribeca by referring to it as "wahi". I keep wanting to tell them "if you want your neighbors to be friendly and not conclude that you're trying to gentrify them out of town, the local shorthand is 'the Heights.'" Such people also haven't figured out that West 173rd Street isn't Inwood, even in a real estate agent's wildest dreams.

#109 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 04:48 AM:

The one and only Australian political sex scandal which sticks in my mind is the one which involved a minister having sex with his wife on his office desk. It caused all kinds of hoo-hah in the papers for a bit, and all I could do was laugh, because if *that* was what we could do for scandal, we really had to work harder.

Then again, we've only been an independent nation for 106 years. We can use the excuse that we're just beginners at this whole business.

#110 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 09:16 AM:

The hilly street that takes me most of the way home on my walks still has "young" enough sidewalks to show some imprints. Near one intersection, kids scrawled CRAP and SHIT, and the turnoff ahead is called Tetons (I suppose the kids were too young to think of adding TITS, back when the sidewalk was new). Whenever I pass by, I always think of this as "Expletive Intersection".

#111 ::: fidelio ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 09:32 AM:

Once, many years ago, a colleague handed me a folder for a claim he'd just received, and said "Let's do this child a favor, and raise the money so she can have her named changed before she gets to junior high school."

The name?

Cherry Beaver.

I am not making this up.

#112 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 11:15 AM:

#111: I propose the term abusonym for such cases.

#113 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 03:04 PM:

..and no one has brought up the Cockburn name? There's a street as well in the middle of Edinburgh called Cockburn street, it took me a while to stop giggling pretty much every time I walked past it.

Not particularely mature, I know, I know.

#114 ::: MD² ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 03:18 PM:

Abusonyms.
So many of them.

Worst I've seen must have been a poor Girl named Semence Dedieu (Seed/semen of god).

Nicest must have been that guy whose first name was Légendaire (legendary).

I mean, just imagine the scene:

"-And you are ?
- I am Légendaire."

#115 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 04:13 PM:

Fragano @90 - well, I know him as Uncle Mike. He's known as Willy because he's a Willcox. (For some reason I'm reminded of the time my Uncle, my Dad and I were sitting in a hotel lounge and one of the staff came over and said "Are any of you Mr Willcox? We all answered "I'm Spartacus", which, according to my Mum proved we were indeed Willcoxs).

#116 ::: coffeedryad ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 05:25 PM:

Fidelio @ 111: Oh, dear. And I thought the young lady I used to hang out with for a while had it bad... her parents had only gone and named her Treasure Hunt, though.

#117 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 05:31 PM:

I'm disappointed that nobody has mentioned racer Dick Trickle yet.

#118 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 05:53 PM:

Neil Willcox #115: Mine was named William.

I should note here the following:

On a desk at the offices of the Jamaica Public Service Company in Kingston (natch) back in the early 80s, was a plaque bearing the name 'Mr N. Peck'.

Nothing can beat the late Cardinal Sin. Nothing.

Apparently, there was a head of family planning in the Philippines named Virginia Concepción.

The head of the Democratic Party in Surinam in the early 1990s was Frank Playfair.

The institution which pays my salary graduated a Latrina Hollingsworth last May.

#119 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 06:39 PM:

There was a Canon at the Cathedral of Saint John the Unfinished whose name was Luce.

Yes. Canon Luce. And he was, too. Total asshole.

#120 ::: NelC ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 07:01 PM:

Sica (113), it's pronounced "Co-burn", like the actor.

#121 ::: Mez ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 07:46 PM:

But in Western Australian Cockburn Sound is pronounced "cock-burn".

OTOH, also in WA, they have a Coogee with a hard 'g' while the one here in Sydney, NSW has a soft one, and an Albany with "Al" instead of "All-ban-ee", as we say it here. But that's a dangerous thread to start going down, as we've experienced before in the fluorosphere. Another reason why phonetic spelling is difficult to apply in English.

#122 ::: JESR ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 09:09 PM:

Xopher, I am assured by several very earnest Episcopalians of my acquaintance that there was once, if not now, a member of the clergy attached to Saint Paul's whose name was Canon Ball.

#123 ::: Meg Thornton ::: (view all by) ::: January 19, 2007, 10:20 PM:

Mez (#121) - Western Australians also have something of a record for embarrassing suburb names, as well. We have Innaloo and Upper Swan, to start with. Mind you, Canbrrra is making a good show, with one district (as yet unsettled) named Kenny. The bit that always surprised me whenever there were things like telethons or similar was that celebrities from the Eastern States had problems with the quintessential Western Australian place name ending - "-up". It's pronounced as for the direction (ie opposite of down) but there's a strong tendency in the East to try and pronounce it as "oop" (as in hoop without the h).

Oh, and I tend to pronounce Cockburn Sound as co-burn; I have three grandparents who were born in the UK, however, so I may well be applying Pommyisms to the whole business.

My guess for the reasons has to do with the different groups of settlers on different sides of the country - the NSW colonies were penal colonies to begin with, and then accumulated free settlers, while WA started as a free colony which then imported some convicts to build infrastructure. Different linguistic mixes from different parts of Britain.

#124 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 03:12 AM:

The guy behind the Lear Jet named his daughter "Shanda". Which was a bit cruel (it's not likely that it was an accident, is it?), but it doesn't seem to have blighted her life too badly.

#125 ::: Sica ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 03:37 AM:

NelC at #120

I know how it's pronounced and I've gotten used to the name now but it's still written cock-burn. So seeing it written on the street sign just reminded me of STDs

#126 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 20, 2007, 08:18 AM:

#124: I think that counts as an abusonym.

#127 ::: Paula Helm Murray ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2007, 01:41 AM:

I suspect if my father had been left without the sensiblity of my mother, we'd have had abusonyms. While we were growing up he'd say things like 'you'd have been better of named 'this' or 'that.'" or "If I'd had twin boys they would have been named Pete and Repeat."

Steven Ralph, Paula and Sara Jane are much more practical. Thanks be to my mom.

#128 ::: Larry Brennan ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2007, 03:32 AM:

There was a partner (or possibly counsel) at the law firm I worked for, oh so many years ago, named Richard Harden. He insisted that he should be called Dick. Is that a self-abusonym?

#129 ::: Dave Bell ::: (view all by) ::: January 21, 2007, 02:34 PM:

I've a vague recollection of somebody at my school, a few years younger than me, called "Kimberly", which was a little odd. Combine that with the surname "Clarke" and it would have been no more strange.

But now, decades later, "Kimberly-Clarke" has a big local factory.

I wonder how something like that would feel.

#130 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 03:41 AM:

I can't for the life of me remember what the context was, but somewhere I came across the name "Phil Iacucci." Depending on the anglicization of the last name, that could be awful. The worst thing about it is that going by "Phillip" doesn't improve it at all.

#131 ::: Neil Willcox ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 07:35 AM:

Dave @ #129 - My Mum is named Gay, and this was back [some time ago] when it was synonymous with 'happy'. The meaning of her name has changed over the years, but, as she says, she was there first, so isn't going to change it.

Nevertheless, because of how she introduces herself, I tend to use the more formal "My/his/her name is..." rather than "I'm/she's/he's/this is..."

#132 ::: James Moar ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 09:28 AM:

Sica @ 113 -- it may not help matters to know that Cockburn Street was a red-light district at one point.

#133 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 09:59 AM:

Remember Tonya Harding's buddy Joey Buttafuaco? Now that's a name to lends itself to a certain kind of joke.

#134 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 12:19 PM:

Serge #133: Either your confused or there's been some cross-scandal activity that I wasn't aware of. Joey Buttafuoco was the guy who had an affair with Amy Fisher, the "Long Island Lolita," who shot his wife Mary Jo, allegedly at his urging.

It's been said that this stayed in the news as long as it did because his name was such fun to say on the radio.

#135 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 12:31 PM:

Xopher... 'Harding' and 'Buttafuaco' came up together when I googled him. I think. No matter what, I wonder what it was like, going to high-school, with a name like that.

#136 ::: Xopher ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 01:09 PM:

Perhaps the spelling error (it's "Buttafuoco") caused Google to spit odd pages at you.

#137 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 22, 2007, 01:28 PM:

Dave @ #129 - my husband's younger sister is named Oline (the feminine version of Ole), pronounced Oh-lean.
She was less than pleased when P&G picked Olean as the brand name for Olestra.

#138 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 04:21 AM:

Remember that Saturday Night Live bit that was the Masterpiece Theater presentation of "House of Buttafuoco," and they pronounced it something like "Butt-uh-foo-OH-coh," cracking me up for years? Yeah, that was funny.

#139 ::: ajay ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 05:06 AM:

my husband's younger sister is named Oline (the feminine version of Ole), pronounced Oh-lean.

Oline? I'm told her eauty is eyond ompare.

#140 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 05:16 AM:

I annot ompete with you, Oline.

#141 ::: Peter Erwin ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 06:29 AM:

Concerning "abusonyms":
The author of the site below has hours of snarky fun mocking people (mostly on baby-naming bulletin boards) for the weird names they've suggested for (or given to) children:

Baby's Named a Bad, Bad Thing

One thing that's sort of astonishing is the number of people who, when told that their children might be taunted by other children for their proposed names, respond with, "Oh, children will always find ways to make fun of each other, so it doesn't matter what name we given them."

#142 ::: Marilee ::: (view all by) ::: January 23, 2007, 07:16 PM:

Someone once asked me the names of my cats and she insisted I was saying Giorgio wrong. She said it must be pronounced Gee OR gee oh.

#143 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 06:54 AM:

ethan @ #138:
Um. You mean that isn't how it's pronounced?

(In my defense, I've only ever seen it written down.)

#144 ::: ethan ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 07:31 AM:

Paul A: Sure, it's a bit closer to the original Italian, but the man himself sez something more like "BuddaFOOco."

#145 ::: Tania ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 01:42 PM:

ajay 139 & ethan 140 - ::snort:: Thanks for the laugh!

#146 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 03:39 PM:

Peter Erwin #141: Having been the recipient (victim?) of an unusual name myself (as have my brothers, one of whom goes by what is, in effect, an abbreviation of his given name; the other uses a different name entirely), I'm very sensitive on this subject. So sensitive that my sons both have quite ordinary names.

#147 ::: Lexica ::: (view all by) ::: January 24, 2007, 04:07 PM:

My given surname is both a noun and a verb.

This is not any of the reasons my husband and I decided not to have kids, but avoiding it (on behalf of my hypothetical kids) is a bonus.

#148 ::: Paul A. ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 06:02 AM:

Fragano @ #146:

"And if I ever have a son, I think I'm gonna name him Bill. Or George."

#149 ::: Faren Miller ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:33 AM:

Not George! Thanks to Dubya, that's become a name of infamy. (Apologies to all the other, perfectly fine Georges out there, including G.R.R.)

#150 ::: Fragano Ledgister ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:41 AM:

Paul A #148: My then wife and I came up with 'Roger' and 'Jeremy', neither of them either common or unusual. To use a Trinidadian expression (not being a Trini myself), I'll call that George.

#151 ::: Serge ::: (view all by) ::: January 25, 2007, 10:42 AM:

Faren.. George Clooney. George C. Scott. George Hamilton... OK, scratch that last one.

#152 ::: Rise ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 07:49 PM:

The cruelest abusonym I've seen and most likely the cruelest I ever will see was given to an acquintance with the last name Ward. Her parents thought it was hilarious to name her "Psycho" and give her no middle name. She was taunted in school, her ID was regularly rejected by bureaucrats, and every encounter with the police resulted in her being held for presenting an officer with a fake ID if they didn't know her. It's hard to imagine how she didn't end up in the… well, you can fill it in.

#153 ::: Rise ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 07:51 PM:

Or, for that matter, an acquaintance. I'm reasonably sure I encountered her more than five times.

#154 ::: Mary Aileen ::: (view all by) ::: February 01, 2007, 08:08 PM:

And she didn't change it legally the instant she turned 18?

#155 ::: Rob Rusick ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 02:14 PM:

My mom grew up in a farming community about 300 miles out from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Supposedly, there had been a phone lineman in the area named Hogg, and one of the kid jokes was 'I saw a hog up a phone pole'. The story went that he had two daughters, and named one 'Ima' and the other 'Ura'.

My parents moved to upstate New York, where I grew up. In a high school class, we got to talking about cruel and unfortunate names. One girl mentioned that her mom had a college friend named 'Ima Hogg' who had committed suicide on account of her name. I mentioned the story my mom had told, and wondered if there was any connection. Her response: "Oh, I doubt it. My mom went to college in Saskatoon".

#156 ::: joann ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 02:29 PM:

One governor of Texas was indeed named Jim Hogg, and he did indeed have a daughter named Ima. (There was no offspring named Ura.) Miss Ima never married, but did go on to be a major cultural philanthropist.

#157 ::: Susan ::: (view all by) ::: February 02, 2007, 03:23 PM:

Random responses:

My then wife and I came up with 'Roger'

Um...you see no double-entendre in "Roger"?

If I put on my Italian brain-overlay, "fuoco" = fire. I'm not sure that improves the images created by "Buttafuoco".

Ricky Dick. I think the first (nick)name is deliberate on his part.

Moon Unit Zappa.

My favorite historical example: Astrolabe.

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Spam from 93.190.206.252

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