Sunday, March 21, 2010

A Turnipseed by any other name would probably have a more promising rap career

The other day I found myself reminiscing about one of my favourite shows from when I was a kid. It was an American show called Ghostwriter, and it was about a bunch of inner-city kids who solved mysteries with the aid of a ghost who could only communicate through writing. I remembered it because I was reading about the parts of the brain for my studies and it reminded me of a rap they did on the subject to help one of the kids pass a test.

I checked out the wikipedia page for this show and it was even better than I remembered. The ghost could even time travel. Apparently there was also an episode where it travelled through the internet, which I thought was pretty special for the early 1990s. But the best thing I found out about this show was the story of one of the main actors. A young African-American guy by the truly wonderful name of Sheldon Turnipseed. 

He received a lot of accolades for his work on the show, before going on to pursue a career in rap. From what I saw, it didn't look like he'd been very successful and last year changed his name to Tyrone Gabriel. Which means that for as long as 15 years, there was a rapper going around using the name Sheldon Turnipseed. It made my day.

I've always had an interest in funny names, ever since my father told me about a women he knew by the name of Olive Pitt (she'd married into that one). When I lived in Newcastle my favourite part of the local paper was the birth notices. I would read through them every morning, purely to laugh at the awful things people were naming their children. The only one I really remember (because it was the best one I had ever seen) was a baby boy. For the first name they'd given him something I can't quite remember, something along the lines of Tiger. But the middle name I remember with crystal clarity because it was J7. The letter J, the numeral 7. Nothing else. As if they were in the middle of a game of Battleships and couldn't be bothered stopping to think of a middle name. You may think that surely that's a typo, but it is unfortunately not. My mother worked in paediatrics at the local hospital and she knew that the baby names were the one thing that paper actually seemed to double check.

The best one my mother told me about was one that seemed to get pretty widely circulated afterwards. This was the kid whose parents decided to name him/her Abcde, pronounced 'Absidee'. A lot of people have heard this one, although most seem to discount it as urban legend. Well, I can tell you right now kids, that one is for real because my own mother has seen the birth certificate.

As for others that I knew about in Newcastle, there was certainly no shortage of those. I remember a girl at my primary school who was named Cola, only it was spelled 'Koelah'. I remember that vividly, because there was another girl at the school whose last name was Beveridge and I always secretly hoped that family would adopt her.

There was a rumour when I was in high school of a girl at a neighbouring school whose name was apparently 'Shagina Lamb'. I always dismissed this as a myth fueled by high school rivalry but having thought about it a bit more, it would honestly not surprise me. These days, I could not say I would be surprised if a couple named their daughter solely for a cruel joke. Horrified, sure, but not surprised. 

There was another great one that I never verified. I heard about it from my boyfriend at the time, who apparently had some connection with the family. They had recently had a new baby and were introducing the child to their friends.

"Carosenee?" their friends repeated, "That's a nice sounding name, where does it come from?"

"We saw it on a tin in the garage," they replied casually.

It was then that everybody figured out that while they were pronouncing it 'Carosenee', they had actually named their child Kerosene. That's not begging for your child to grow up to be an arsonist, not at all.

-Smackie Onassis

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