Thursday, September 30, 2010

"Comet Hale-Bopp"

To be honest, the only reason this comet makes it on the list is because of the awesome surname of the second discoverer after whom it's named. Thomas Bopp has a pretty interesting Wikipedia page, but suffice it to say that he has an awesome name. One that Poison were perhaps referring to with their top-ten hit "Unskinny Bop".

Yes, I concede that that's the most obscure reference in the history of obscure references. Even Dennis Miller would shake his head.

Anyway, Mr Bopp gave his name to the comet that caused a bunch of cultists to kill themselves, and the world was given the cool name "Hale-Bopp". That beats "Kohoutek" for 'cool comet names', but faces steep competition from "Whipple", "Väisälä", "Swift-Tuttle", "Hug-Bell", "Miss Mitchell's Comet" and "de Kock-Paraskevopoulos".

The competition for cool comet names is a fierce one. Who knew?

Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Compendium of Rather Rude Place Names

The number of communities in the world with awesome names is endless. Putting minds properly gutter-wise, I decided to concentrate on the giggle-worthy ones. Here's a decently long list, illustrated with signs from the communities. I guess I should warn that it's perhaps NSFW, though there's not much I can do about that. These are the proper names, after all.

The infamous community of Dildo, Newfoundland. Nearby, there's also a 'Dildo Island' and a 'Dildo Arm'.

Intercourse, which is in Pennsylvania. Population 1,558. Witness was filmed there.

Knob Lick, Missouri. Where Witness wasn't filmed.

This delightful name shows up on a lot of these lists, including the book Rude Britain - which suggests it's in the UK. Can't tell you much more than that, though.

This lovely place, which so many men have been looking for, is in Savoie. Which is in France. Apparently the name comes from the Gallo-Roman name "Pusiacum", which is in no way any less funny.

Anus is also in France. Not that near the one before it, as it turns out, but in Burgundy. And 'Anus in Burgundy' should most definitely be the name of a work of art.

Here's Muff, in County Donegal, Ireland. It's a suburb of Derry, a/k/a Londonderry, which is kinda in a different country.

There's no real point in spending too long in the UK, as Rude Britain has done the job well. How can you say no to Penistone, though? It's pronounced to rhyme with Jennifer Aniston, though - or, if you prefer, with Cece Peniston. And with 10,000 dwellers, it's probably the biggest community here.

This fine locale is in Bavaria. There is a building there called "Wank-Haus", whose picture I desperately wanted to include. But why break the trend?

This popular destination is in Orkney, where people like to pose with the sign pointing to them. People are self-effacing and oh-so-clever.

This charming community in the Philippines seems to have changed its name to the less enjoyable 'Sasmuan', which probably really bugged that guy in the orange jacket.

There are three different states in the USA that have a Climax: Michigan, Minnesota and Pennsylvania (where Intercourse also is, of course). Now 'climax' is not only a naughty word. Novels, for example, have climaxes. But that's not what you think of when you see this name, is it?

For reference purposes, for those who haven't been able to figure it out for themselves:,+PA,+United+States&daddr=Climax,+PA,+United+States&hl=en&geocode=FeDsYgIdB7t2-ym7G_rMtDjGiTFs3nTVfH4VqQ%3BFUU7aAIdGqlI-ynXsNXQQDnLiTEc41kMQyeN5Q&mra=ls&sll=37.0625,-95.677068&sspn=33.02306,79.013672&ie=UTF8&z=8 is a map from Intercourse to Climax. It apparently takes 3 hours 48 minutes, and Google Maps advises whet everyone else already knows: This route has tolls.

A few street names? This chaste place is in Amber Valley, UK.

I've already devoted an entire entry to this one, but it's too good to ignore.

How can I possibly give up fair England, home to places like this? 'Fanny' means different things on either side of 'the pond', but it's even naughtier in the UK.

Charming one here. Don't know where it is, though I can at least say it looks North American.

This awkward one is a train station in Toronto. Viagra strikes again.

This horrifying one is in Lake Havasu City, Arizona. No idea what was going on in that community when they were naming streets.

This one is on the Busch Campus of Rutgers University, in New Jersey. It's just off Hoes Lane, which proves the whole area was named by drunk fratboys.

This one is in Hong Kong, where the obvious fact that this is a transliteration from Chinese makes it no less awesome.

Who am I kidding? How can I ignore the English, when they keep producing things like this one, in Besthorpe, Norfolk?

And lastly, where would I be if I missed out on this town in Austria, king of rude names, illustrated here with pictures of children. Because things are different in Austria.

I did remind you it was NSFW.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

"Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?Image via Wikipedia
I have to admit I've never seen Blade Runner. Something about its fans turns me off, frankly. I don't know what it is. Generally Science Fiction just isn't my thing, and Science Fiction in the 1980s has all of the cheese with none of the kitsch of the 60s variety. So I don't know the plot of this book, since I presume that the only people who know the plot of this book know it from the movie.

The book was written by Philip K. Dick, who may one day get a listing here, alongside Jacque Tits. Before that, though, we have the book, whose name is not as run-of-the-mill as 'Blade Runner' (gofor in an abbatoir?) but has the much more interesting name "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?"

I don't know the answer to the question posed. I don't know what the logic is behind it (I connected it with 'counting sheep' but I now realise that that's a gambit for falling asleep and nothing to do with dreams at all). I don't really want to know, because I like the title as a slightly poetic piece of nonsense, like Noam Chomsky's famous 'grammatically-correct-but-meaningles sentence' "Colourless green ideas sleep furiously". That'd be a good name for a book too.
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Thursday, September 9, 2010

"Salman Butt"

So I'm sitting at home with my wife last week. There's something or other on TV, and she gets bored by it and decides to turn on BBC World News. I ask her why, and she says she wants to see what's on the news. I say, 'yeah, but why the BBC? Why not something local?' She tells me she wants to see world news. I tell her that the local channels show world news too, they just don't show cricket news. And to prove my point, suddenly they're talking about cricket. But... there's method in my wife's madness, for it turns out it's actually some kind of cricket scandal. I was trying to be interested (and failing), until suddenly my ears perked up at one salient fact: one of the players in the scandal was named Salman Butt.

Let's stop and consider that for a moment. (1) Just how similar is it to the Bart Simpson phone prank "Seymour Butts"? (2) Just how cool is it that in Urdu his name is "سلمان بٹ", which just looks awesome (as anything in the Arabic alphabet by default does)? (3) Just how well does hus name go with Philip K. Dick, Ed Balls and Jacques Tits, each of whom have appeared in these pages? The four of them should open a law firm together.
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Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Disko Island"

Village of Queqertarsuaq on Disko Island, Gree...Image via WikipediaWon't you take me to Funkytown? No? Well, that's okay. Too mainstream for me. I'd rather go somewhere a bit more remote, though equally funky.

What about Greenland? More to the point, what about a tiny island in western Greenland? And by 'tiny', I actually mean 'ridiculously huge, though looking tiny on a map of Greenland'. Greenland's not a small place.

While most Greenlandic places have both Danish and Kalaallisut names, and while the latter are frequently as cool as the language name itself (wasn't that Superman's Kryptonian name?), in this case Qeqertarsuaq pales next to the island's Dutch name (or rather it's English name): Disko Island.

How can there be no albums out there with that name? No dance clubs? It's just way too awesome. "I live on Disko Island... baby". Never mind that there's only 1100 people there, all of them Inuit, and that it's as glamorous as the picture that illustrates this article. It doesn't matter: funky is a state of mind, and those thousand-plus Inuit are funky in ways you've never dreamed of.
After all, they live on Disko Island...
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