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Top 5 Obscure Nicknames

(FOR BOYS, MOSTLY)

 

5. HAL (short for Harry)

I’ll go into more detail a few names down, but ‘Harry’ is a variation of ‘Henry’, and the Normans didn’t like pronouncing the letter ‘R’ very much, and so the shortname for ‘Harry’ might have been ‘Har’ (pronouced ‘hair’), but the ‘R’ became an ‘L’ and this is where ‘Hal’ came from.

 

4. DICK (short for Richard)

So now we know the Normans didn’t like pronouncing the letter ‘R’, right? This means that while ‘Rick’ was a more obvious nickname for ‘Richard’, the Normans traded the ‘R’ with a ‘D’ leaving us with the flattering nickname ‘Dick’.

 

3. CHUCK (short for Charles)

Once I learned the root of ‘Charles’, this one wasn’t that odd, but I serve these names up to you on the premise that this knowledge is obscure at best. Apparently ‘Charles’ in Middle English is ‘Chukken’, which is where the nickname ‘Chuck’ stems from. That was easy, wasn’t it?

 

2. JACK (short for John)

The Norman/English have commandeered my top 5 list again. This time they went and added a term for ‘little’ onto many of their names. That suffix was ‘-kin’. So Jenkin (or little John) became corrupted into ‘Jakin’, which subsequently became truncated into ‘Jack’. Well, duh!

 

1. HANK (short for Henry)

Similar to ‘Jack’, there was a variation of Henry called ‘Henkin’, which also became ‘Hankin’, then truncated to ‘Hank’. Once you know about the ‘-kin’ suffix it makes some sense, but without that insight, it’s mighty arbitrary looking.

Top 5 Rap Producers

(RAP, NOT HIP-HOP)

DJ Muggs

5. DJ Muggs

He started making latino-infused heavy beats with Cypress Hill, and then went on to make “Jump Around” with House of Pain, just one of the members of the classic Soul Assassins group. I’ve always liked the style of Muggs records, and was highly impressed when he teamed up with Wu-Tang’s Gza to record an impressive comeback record entitled “Grandmasters”. I’d say he’s one of the more underrated and overlooked producers around.

Pete Rock

4. Pete Rock

For “Mecca and the Soul Brother” alone, Pete Rock makes my top five. He also produced one of the only Run DMC songs I really liked, “Down With the King”. Add to this his work with Wu-Tang on his solo album “Soul Survivor”, and you have one of the most consistent producers of all time.

Dr. Dre

3. Dr. Dre

Though he wouldn’t make my top 50 as an emcee, you would have to be a fool to exclude Dr. Dre from any top producers list. He is too humble to admit it, but you can thank Dre for the success and exposure of both Snoop Doggy Dogg and Eminem. He proved on “The Chronic” that he could meet and exceed the legendary status of his original group N.W.A. Dre is a machine in the studio, he just doesn’t quit. He’s got a new album coming out with Eminem, and one final solo album before he shifts his focus exclusively to other artists.

DJ Premier

2. DJ Premier

Anyone who can make Guru sound dynamic on a track knows a thing or two about producing. He and Guru were better known as Gang Starr, and put out some of the grittiest albums of the 90’s. It doesn’t hurt that Premier kept that tonality alive with some of the most memorable tracks for artists like Nas, Rakim, Jay-Z, Notorius B.I.G., Dilated Peoples, Common and KRS-One. His best single track, however, has to be Jeru the Damaja’s “Come Clean”.

Rza

1. Rza

This one was sort of a no-brainer for me. I like to think of the Rza as the Tarantino of rap music. Which was why it didn’t surprise me when he was asked to compose some music for the Kill Bill films. Wu-Tang, when they came on the scene with their ensemble cast and ghetto music videos, changed the game as we all knew it. He took shaolin samples and the kung-fu vernacular and fused it with break beats, and the results were revolutionary. I’m still waiting for another “Enter the 36 Chambers,” but in truth, we only need one of those for a lifetime.

Top 5 Most Googled Presidents

(RESULTS ARE APPROXIMATE)

 

Top 5 Presidents - Reagan

5. Ronald Reagan – 11,300,000 hits

 

Top 5 Presidents - Kennedy

4. John F. Kennedy – 14,100,000 hits

 

Top 5 Presidents - Washington

3. George Washington – 16,800,000 hits

 

Top 5 Presidents - Clinton

2. Bill Clinton – 21,600,000 hits

 

Top 5 Presidents - Bush

1. George W. Bush – 47,600,000 hits

NOTEWORTHY

John McCain has more hits than all of these presidents, with 60,900,000 hits, and Barack Obama has more than John McCain, with 76,300,000 hits. And they’re not even president yet!

TOP 5 UGLIEST VEHICLES

(CURRENTLY IN PRODUCTION)

5. Pontiac Aztek

Pontiac Aztec

On par with the Honda Element, this stand-outish SUV looks much worse in person. The aphalling rear-hatch looks like someone started crushing this thing in the trash compacter and then changed their minds at the last second. Too bad for us.

 

4. Honda Fit

Honda Fit

I have a thing for hatchbacks, I’ll admit it. With the exception of the Audi A3, I pretty much loathe them. But this one takes the notion to a new level of suck. Along with the Pontiac Vibe’s and the Toyota Prius’s of the world, this car proves further that the car exec’s think twenty-something women prefer cars that look like crap.

 

3. PT Cruiser

Chrysler PT Cruiser

Possibly the most infamous example of homage gone awry, the PT Cruiser somehow, miraculously, continues to sell. Maybe it’s just me who doesn’t get the irony of reimagining the original Ford Woodie, but man . . .

 

2. Chevy SSR

Chevy SSR

I don’t know who told the fine folks at Chevy it would be a good idea to take the Dodge Neon and turn it into a mini-truck from a Jetson’s future gone wrong. But they did it anyway, and now we get to watch as these identity-crisis inflicted car/truck things cruise past us. We can’t stand to look, but we can’t look away. Must be the fluorescent colors they paint these monstrosities in.

 

1. Scion xB

Scion xB

I feel the pity for post office workers and milkmen across the nation. Ever since Toyota went ahead with the Scion line of vehicles, they’ve rubber stamped the first-car community as idiots who think aerodynamics is only theoretical. This van/truck/car is the equivalent of what it would look like if you asked your non-artistic friend to draw a car on a piece of paper.

TOP 5 CHRISTOPHER WALKEN MONOLOGUES

(NOT INCLUDING SNL)

5. Catch Me If You Can – Frank Abagnale Sr.

“Two little mice fell in a bucket of cream. The first mouse quickly gave up and drowned. The second mouse, wouldn’t quit. He struggled so hard that eventually he churned that cream into butter and crawled out. Gentlemen, as of this moment, I am that second mouse.

4. The Rundown – Hatcher

“I feel like a little boy who’s lost his first tooth, put it under his pillow, waiting for the tooth-fairy to come. Only two evil burglars have crept in my window, and snatched it, before she could get here. [sidekick translates to villagers] Wait a second, do you understand the concept of the tooth-fairy? Explain it to them. [more translation] Wait. She takes the God damned thing, and gives you a quarter. They’ve got my tooth. I want it back.”

3. Poolhall Junkies – Uncle Mike

“This lion, is the king of the jungle, huge mane out to here. He’s laying down under a tree, in the middle of Africa. He’s so big. So hot. He doesn’t want to move. Now, the little lions come they start messing with him, biting his tail biting his ears, he doesn’t do anything. […] Now, the other animals they notice. And they start to move in. The jackals, hyenas, they’re barking at him laughing at him. They nip his toes, and eat the food, and get in his domain. They do this, and get closer and closer and bolder and bolder ’til one day, that lion gets up and tears the shit outta’ everybody. Runs like the wind. Eats everything in his path, ’cause every once in a while, the lion has to show the jackals, who he is. It’s too late to be scared. It’s time to kill.”

2. Pulp Fiction – Captain Koons

“This watch was on your daddy’s wrist when he was shot down over Hannoi. He was captured, put in a Vietnamese prison camp. He knew that if the gooks ever saw the watch, they’d confiscate it, take it away. The way your dad looked at it, this watch was your birthright. He’d be damned if any slope’s gonna’ put his greasy yellow hands on his boy’s birthright. So he hid it, in one place he knew he could hide something: his ass. Five long years he wore this watch, up his ass.”

1. True Romance – Vincenzo Coccotti

“You know, Sicilians, are great liars. The best, in the world. I’m Sicilian. My father was the world heavyweight champion of Sicilian liars. From growing up with him, I learned the pantomime. There are seventeen different things a guy can do when he lies, to give himself away. A guy’s got seventeen pantomimes. A woman’s got twenty, guy’s got seventeen. But, if you know them, like you know your own face, they’d be lie detectors all to hell. Now, what we got here, is a little game of show-and-tell: You don’t wanna’ show me nothing, but you’re telling me everything. I know you know where they are. So. Tell me. Before I do some damage, that you won’t walk away from.”

TOP 5 LONGEST NAMES

(THAT I’VE RESEARCHED, AT LEAST)


Letter Count: 28 letters
This is the longest word in the English dictionary, even though you could add prefixes and suffixes to other names to make longer ones. It made the list because some of these other words below are translations, requiring more letters in English than they would in their own language.


Letter Count: 54 letters
This monstrocity is a chemical used for pain relief of tooth aches. It’s technically a medicinal word, allowing it to add and morph as many elements as needed to articulate their point. This one comes with a lot of caveats it seems.


Letter Count: 58 letters
Believe it or not, there is a place in Wales with this name. Good luck telling your cabbie to get you there, though.


Letter Count: 165 letters
I’m not kidding when I tell you that the jumble of letters above is also an actual location in Thailand. What were these guys thinking? I’d be winded just telling someone where I was going.


Letter Count: 179 letters
Once upon a time, there was an Indian chief who lived his days in Wisconsin. He died in 1866, but left as his legacy, the longest name in history, clocking in at a whopping 179 letters.

TOP 5 FAMOUS MENSA MEMBERS

(MENSA, FOR REAL!)

5. Norman Swarzkopf – Retired Army General

4. Natalie Portman – Actress

3. Shakira – Pop Singer

2. Dolph Lundgren – Actor/Karateka

1. Chino XL – Rapper

TOP 5 MOST VERSATILE ACTORS

(PAST AND PRESENT)

5. Ben Kingsley – For his role as Ghandi alone, Sir Ben Kingsley is on this list. His character Don Logan in Sexy Beast was also bald, but on the opposite side of the karmic spectrum. An all around great actor who absorbs himself in every role, like House of Sand and Fog.

4. Gary Oldman – He’s played roles ranging from Sid Vicious to Sirius Black, and just about everything in between. He scared us in Dracula and Hannibal, and is known for playing the bad guy. But in films like The Professional and Batman Begins, we see that he is not so one dimensional, and can take on the role of protagonist with ease.

 

3. Johnny Depp – This guy might have everyone on this list beat for sheer scope of fun characters. Though he had acted in Platoon and 21 Jump Street beforehand, it was his role as Edward Scissorhands that made people take note. Since then he’s played everybody from Ichabod Crane to Hunter S. Thompson to Willy Wonka to Donnie Brasco. It’s good to be Jack Sparrow . . . I mean, Johnny Depp.

 

2. Peter Sellers – One of the greats, though no longer with us. He gave us Inspector Clouseau. He gave us Captain Lionel Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley, and Dr. Strangelove. He gave us Hrundi V. Bakshi in The Party (“Birdie Num Num”). His role as Chance, the Magritte-like gardner in the film Being There, nearly won him an Oscar. Oh, and he may be one of the greatest comedians every to act in front of the camera.

 

1. Daniel Day Lewis – His resumé may not be as deep as some of the others on this list, but I do believe Daniel Day Lewis to be the single most versatile actor ever to grace the big screen. He is like the Olympic athlete of acting, the one who no-one can beat. I can imagine he inspires as many actors as he frustrates, simply out of sheer talent. He pops on the scene every few years to collect more accolade, and perhaps an Oscar or two. And Daniel Plainview was every bit as gripping as any leading role I’ve seen to date.

TOP 5 FILM DIRECTORS

(UNDER THE AGE OF 50)

5. Christopher Nolan
Anyone able to resurrect the Batman franchise and show us how it’s done deserves my respect. Plus Memento was a marvelous feat, and Insomnia was also great. While I didn’t LOVE The Prestige, I still felt that Nolan’s presence could be felt in the style.

4. Alfonso Cuarón
One word: CHILDREN OF MEN. He is on this list for two reasons: consistency and style. Since Great Expectations, I love just about all of his films. He made the best Harry Potter film, and I think he should have been the one doing The Hobbit.

3. David Fincher
I’ll give him a pass for Panic Room, because he made Fight Club. Fincher’s style has been something I’ve loved ever since I first saw Se7en. His grit and realism is just one-of-a-kind, you know you’re watching a Fincher film.

2. Paul Thomas Anderson
Boogie Nights, Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love, and There Will Be Blood. The resumé speaks for itself, but I will say that for someone that has been compared to Scorsese, he has carved out his own niche for films that put the character before all else, and tell stories in intimate ways that (I think) inspired other great achievements like Six Feet Under.

1. The Coen Brothers
Since Blood Simple, it has been clear that The Coen Brothers know how to make a movie. Fargo is one of my favorite movies of all time, and No Country for Old Men (while not as good as There Will Be Blood) was another awesome example of their signature sparse style.

TOP 5 QUIET BANDS

(TO FALL ASLEEP TO)

5. Great Lake Swimmers – Mp3 – A relatively new band, Great Lake Swimmers have mastered the whole acoustic-guitars-in-a-barn-silo-with-no-audience-save-for-the-crickets subgenre of folk music. All of this works, in large part because of lead singer Tony Dekker’s vocals, which sound as much like another instrument as Thom Yorke’s at his finest. I’m not saying Tony can outsing Thom (few can), but his voice certainly serves his own band perfectly.

4. Richard Hawley – Mp3 – He has a timeless voice, a strange blend of Frank Sinatra, Roy Orbison and Morrissey. Hawley evokes dream-like imagery every time I listen to him. Sometimes his songs shimmer and swell, other times they’re just quiet ballads to relax to, but always his voice pierces through.

3. Stars of the Lid – Mp3 – The ambient beauty these guys create is so soothing, it’s hard to stay awake through an entire album. Which is why I play them while I’m working, just to find out what that last track sounds like. And with album titles like “December Hunting For Vegetarian Fuckface,” it’s clear there’s more than one level to appreciate this band on.

2. Low – Mp3 – Their early material built in layers at a glacial pace, and as the pioneers of a sadcore subgenre from Duluth, Minnesota, this husband/wife team have put out some of the most laid back, haunting, and beautiful songs ever recorded. Mimi Parker’s voice is one of a kind, and Alan Sparhawk only serves to compliment her with mellow, minor key vocals of his own.

1. Red House PaintersMp3 – Mark Kozelek tops my list for sheer consistency. I originally put his band’s entire catalog in a CD changer and just let it shuffle (something I rarely do). It took me several weeks to figure out which songs belonged on which album, and that was a good thing. It was like I kept rediscovering their music every night. His voice is usually mixed back with the instrumentation (esp. the older material), which serves the songs well. It’s hard to pick one song or even one album when I want to listen to them, which is what puts Red House Painters safely at the top for me.

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