August 1st, 2008
06:28 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: Weekend Mode

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

It’s Friday, it’s August (where has the summer gone?!)…seems like a perfect day for some weekend-friendly tales. So, here are a few talkers for wherever the next two days will take you – enjoy!

If you’ve ever known someone who spent any time in China, chances are you’ve heard about the lines. The etiquette for waiting on line is pretty much the opposite of what we’re used to in the US, but the government is trying to change that… at least during the Olympics.

Four million “manners manuals” have been sent to Beijing homes by the government. Among the tips: no pushing in line, no spitting, and no nose-picking. Their advice when talking to foreign friends? Don’t ask people how much money they make, how old they are or whether they’re married.

Not sure if you can safely talk gas prices in Beijing or not, but it’s definitely a hot topic stateside. Mostly, the “topic” revolves around how little money is left over once you fill the tank. A friend who drives an SUV said recently it now costs her $120 to fill up. Most people I know are getting smarter about how and when they drive – finally taking the advice about combining trips and errands. But making one tank of gas last the entire summer? THAT takes some planning.

We’ve all heard the story of someone who knew someone who knew a girl named Merry Christmas. Or the guy on your floor freshman year who swore he went to camp with Jack Daniels. Mr Luckenbach, my 9th grade English teacher, would talk about Ima and Ura Hogg, and routinely mocked his own parents for naming him J. Keith. No first name, just the letter “J”; he told us they wanted his initials to be JKL, but couldn’t come up with a “J” name.

Before our son was born, my husband and I spent a lot of time weeding out names that would make him the butt of jokes, or result in less than stellar initials, like CRY (imagine what those initials could mean for a kid on the playground!). We didn’t want anything too common, but we weren’t going for kooky, either. After all, we hoped he’d be using this name for many, many decades to come. We wanted it to work for a child and an adult. Not everyone is worried about saddling their kid with a name that could be gold to bullies, though.

Recently, a New Zealand judge made 9-year-old Talula Does the Hula From Hawai’I a ward of the court, so she could legally change her name. The judge wasn’t impressed with her parents’ decision, saying, “It makes a fool of the child and sets her up with a social disability and a handicap.” Ouch, Mom and Dad.

CNN.com asked you, our readers and viewers, to send in your own stories of weird, wacky or wonderful names. Leading the pack, siblings Dow and Indiana Jones.

Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note • Olympics
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. BWE

    A friend of mine works in the Dallas school district and keeps a list. Recently, there were siblings named "Godspeed" and "Godsend." Nice sentiment, but.... Another friend taught a child years ago named "Papa Smurf" Seriously. By the way, I am a Texas girl, and there really was an "Ima Hogg" (Why weren't the judges there for that one?) Sorry, no "Ura" or "Shesa" (I grew up hearing those stories, too.)

    Save the odd names for the pets (or screennames...good idea, EJ!)

    August 4, 2008 at 4:01 am |
  2. Matt

    I have personally met only two people whose parents must have been on something when selecting names:
    Our Lamaze instructor's maiden name (Concord, MA) : April Showers
    A friend's OB/GYN (Timonium, MD) : Dr. Harry Beaver
    no kidding...

    August 4, 2008 at 3:18 am |
  3. Kathy, Chicago

    Yikes! I had triplets. Try naming three at once, not knowing if they were boys or girls. We had all kinds of funky combinations. My one son passed away and we have a Jen and Jon. Great job on the Early show Sat morning, Erica. You were a great addition. Good luck next Sat, sorry I will miss it. I hope they have you back again, but please don't leave AC. He needs you! Have a great week! I am off to hopefully not find great whites while I attempt to snorkle.

    August 3, 2008 at 8:50 pm |
  4. Lamont austin

    I went by my first name for years and after the age of 21 i started going by my middle name "LAMONT" going from ron to LAMONT made me more exotic especially with the ladies and when a french canadian laughed when he heard my name (lamont) i asked him why is he laughing, well it wasnt cause it was a bad thing but he told me lamont means: "The monty" in a sexual way he also said i would be pretty popular in france or canada with that name, so there you go, call me LAMONT
    also means "the mountain"

    August 3, 2008 at 12:17 am |
  5. Judy Bugarin

    Some people think our last name is German or Russian. Actually, we're from the Philippines. When my husband was in the US Army the Sergeant can't pronounce his name so he called him either Boggie, or on a bad day he was called "Alphabet"! When our youngest daughter joined the Navy after High School, she had the same problem, was also called Boggie! Father, son, and daughter had fights when they were called Boggie, but definitely not with the Drill Sergeant!

    As for gas prices, whoever controls the oil industry can either drink, bath, swim, or drown on it!

    Thanks Erica for not being too involved in CNN Election. Most of CNN pundits glorified Obama during the primaries. Now David Gergen is reviving Hilary? Good for him!

    August 2, 2008 at 11:39 pm |
  6. Larry

    I think there may have been an episode of Benny Hill or a skit from the Monty Python group in which kids were given names according to the places they were conceived, Park Bench was one of them:)

    August 2, 2008 at 9:13 pm |
  7. Mike in NYC

    Why don't we just own up and admit what this names discussion is really about?

    It's about avoiding the obvious topic of ridiculous, all-too-common "Afrocentric" first names by laughing at the occasional odd name that a non-black is saddled with.

    To: Renee Las Vegas

    Beavis was his last name. No choice involved, hence irrelevant.

    EJ (USA) wrote:

    "I wonder what that girl’s parents were on."

    Live in a major US urban center, where insane names abound, and you'll be wondering that daily.

    August 2, 2008 at 4:06 pm |
  8. Jack

    My Name is Jack , my middle name is Nester, and my last name is Hoff. I'm a plumber for my side job. My co-workers simply state my day at work as Jack. N.Hoff in the Restroom. I know people, my name sounds like a very famous president.............

    August 2, 2008 at 7:26 am |
  9. Michael

    Erica, it's not news to show a self-satisfied John McCain saying that Obama started it, but now his campaign has retracted it, so he'll let it go. He's the no good bum who made race an issue this week. Why do give him a free pass day after day after day?

    August 2, 2008 at 1:28 am |
  10. Don, WA

    I knew a girl named "Syda Fryes" once.

    August 1, 2008 at 10:48 pm |
  11. Barbara in Culver City, CA

    I went to college with someone whose legal name was Virgin Mary. It sure generated a lot of conversation behind her back. Being in college, we were always polite to her in person, but I don't know what it was like for her in high school and earlier.

    August 1, 2008 at 10:46 pm |
  12. EJ (USA)

    Talula Does The Hula From Hawaaii was the best story of the week, and as bad as that name was – you forgot to mention Bus Shelter 16 or was it 17 lol

    I laughed so long about that name. I feel sorry for that girl, but story was way too funny. It provided a few days worth of laughs for me.

    I almost wanted to change my online name to that.

    I wonder what that girl's parents were on.

    August 1, 2008 at 10:43 pm |
  13. Cherisa

    As a child, I hated my name. When the teacher paused in roll call on the first day of school, I knew she had gotten to me. All my friends had cute names like Julie or Heather. Even my sister had an easy name – Stephanie. They could always find their names on the racks of plastic tags for bicycles or bracelets or whatever other tacky worthless things kids bought in the 80s. Me – I had to settle for a plastic box with my name painted on the side.

    As a teenager, I grew to appreciate it more. It was different and set me apart from the crowd. Now I wouldn't change it for the world (though I do shorten it around children – that's a mouthful for a toddler).

    August 1, 2008 at 10:06 pm |
  14. Annie Kate

    Back when I took Latin in high school my teacher told us about a man whose name was Ova Duck – ova is latin for eggs – so his name translated to Duck Eggs. My classmates and I got a good laugh over it – bet the owner of the name didn't find it funny though.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    August 1, 2008 at 9:42 pm |
  15. Sara.Ro

    There is a tradition or a mistical custom that the names could influence our life or charcter.About funny names my mom wanted to call me Rowa( in english is Pearl or Dewdrop:) ) but she decided to give me a name wich means peace . And I feel the influence 🙂
    The simply advice of Kabbala regarding the names is to have or to choose one , wich is starting with A or contains; this will generate a strong and beautyful character. So , my son's names are both starting with A, one is a warior name and the other, to be sure is Aaron:). For my future daughter's name I will counsel her father for sure ...
    Kabbala's Tip : a name which includes a W it's really lucky and blessed for the "owner" and for people who are calling it.

    August 1, 2008 at 9:27 pm |
  16. Hannah Storm

    When I went to China one of the first things they told us about were the customs and manners of the Chinese people so it does not surprise me that they are making that a priority before the games. We were told that they spit and picked their noses so I am glad they are getting those rules in.

    August 1, 2008 at 9:24 pm |
  17. steve p odziemek

    I first thought of Dan, short for dandelion hill, if you think about a future male child give it a whirl. You did mention weeding out names!
    Our child has a name taken from the Smurfs cartoon, it is Azriel, the character is a cat. Well our daughter just loves cats, I checked the name's earliest origin so we are comfortable with our choice.
    To have a nation pratice manners and teach them speaks volumes, they are prospering at our expense of unkindly mannered politicians which speaks at a louder faulty volume.
    My parents named my younger brother Peter John and he quickly decided to go with just plain John. He is closer to sainthood then I'll ever be!

    August 1, 2008 at 9:05 pm |
  18. Genevieve M, TX

    I agree with you that parents should carefully consider the consequences of names and initials when naming a child. I don't have children yet, but I know I would never want to name a child (or even a pet) with an "embarassing" name!

    I also think that some "normal" names are too long. When I was a child, I thought my own first name was too long- that was until a cousin was named Elizabeth. I sometimes wonder if people with names that are 7+ letters long have to "spell the name out in their head" when writing it down. I know I have to do that sometimes! LOL!

    The only person I know with a unusual name is a guy named "Peter Pan"- like the Disney character.

    August 1, 2008 at 8:41 pm |
  19. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    Happy Friday Erica!
    I don't care where the summer has gone in fact, I hope it dissappears quickly. It is so hot here in east Texas. It's 103 and humid.
    Such a killer for the "do". (hair)

    August 1, 2008 at 7:58 pm |
  20. Larry

    Jay Leno usually does a skit where he shows names of married couples whose new surname for the wife can be quite funny.

    The Cyrus family keeps changing Miley's name, sheesh, why not just call her Billie Ray?

    There must have been some oddly named kids from the 60s:)

    August 1, 2008 at 7:54 pm |
  21. Renee Las Vegas

    I had a friend in high school named Beavis ... it was Matt Beavis ... and that was at the peak of Beavis and Butthead... he even looked like the cartoon character.

    August 1, 2008 at 7:39 pm |
  22. Megan Dresslar

    I agree with Diane N. LOL!!!!!!
    You're so funny!!!! thanks for laugh!!!!!!@ Meredith SLC, Utah Have a great weekend bloggers, Erica and staff 360!
    Megan D.
    Shoreline, Wa

    August 1, 2008 at 7:24 pm |
  23. Tammy

    In our family we're all with a few exceptions named after relatives who were somehow significant to us (our parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles). My name is derived from my mom and dad's names (first a female form of Dad's and second a form of Mom's). It became really significant to me after my mom died that I carry on her name and Dad's.

    I can't count the odd names I've seen over the years as a teacher. But odd to me is still the name of these kids, and they are awesome in their own ways regardless of their names. Shakespeare said "A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet." He's right. But fitting the "norm" sure does make it easier on them on the playground and boardroom and as we now know political arena.

    August 1, 2008 at 7:24 pm |
  24. Melissa, Los Angeles

    I think the best name so far is In God We Trust (a man had his name changed to that)! Although my real name is unique since it's Chinese with dual meanings – it's nothing witty like Dow Jones etc. Looking forward to reading some witty names posted!

    August 1, 2008 at 7:18 pm |
  25. Heather

    My nephew is back in Bejing going to the Bejing Univ again on exchange. I think he has all the manners down and everything.

    I went to school with many people with unusual names. Summer,Tula,Blu and so on. I think it's really a bad idea to name someone after a character ih a bad movie or something so unique people think of something bad. I think these names are just plain stupid and distracting:Apple,Rumor,Dusty,things like that. Do you honestly want your child at 40 or 50 associated with that. Ok I suppose Frank Zappa is lucky. Naming your kids a unique first name would match the last name. I guess you have to be lucky to have a simple easy to remember name like oh Erica Hill. Works for me.

    August 1, 2008 at 7:05 pm |
  26. Diane N.

    LOL @ Meredith SLC, that's toooo funny LOL!

    August 1, 2008 at 6:56 pm |
  27. Lilibeth

    I heard that someone has the name of Rainbow Trout. Don’t know if it’s true or not, but if it is, I’d say he/she has cruel parents. I like my name and I’m glad my initials don’t mean anything.

    If I rode the bus everyday to work, a full tank of gas in my car would probably last a month, but not the whole summer. It would be a nice challenge to try, though.

    Have a great summer!

    Edmonds, Washington

    August 1, 2008 at 6:55 pm |
  28. Diane N.

    Talula Does the Hula From Hawaii as a name?!?! Here I thought making my son a jr. was bad, what with when someone calls his dads name they both answer(in actuality not so bad in our case being we/family/friends call our son by his middle name). But Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii??? Good move on the judges part. Sheesh...

    August 1, 2008 at 6:52 pm |
  29. Ayse-London

    Re the Olympics – They already have really bad pollution, and dusty air – will all the attendees be wearing oxygen masks? and what about the fireworks that they're going to be using ?

    And etiquette – Its a good thing that the Chinese gov has issued guidelines – they should pass it onto the UK, so we can rid the tube network of stupid people who stop and stand in front of the escalators, or ban people from walking at snails pace during morning rush hour, and don't even get me started on the people who use trolley suitcases and zig zag all over the place.

    Talula Does The Hula From Hawaaii was the best story of the week, and as bad as that name was – you forgot to mention Bus Shelter 16 or was it 17 lol

    Tired of the election – can almost sense the soon to be anti-Obama stories creeping up.

    Best news of the week came out today with the troops deployment time reduced from 15-12 months.

    August 1, 2008 at 6:46 pm |
  30. meredith SLC, Utah

    Let me start off by saying I promise this is true! Girl Scouts honor! One of my dear friends was unfortunate enough to grow up with the last name Balls. Her parents are from a different generation and are very, very straight laced. They have never understood what was so wrong with them naming their oldest son Harold 😉

    August 1, 2008 at 6:46 pm |