Genteel Wherewithal

by John Holbo on August 8, 2009

In suggesting that ‘Horatio Wheatbender Filibuster’ would be a good name for an antique Senator, I was – I now realize (no doubt I was being subconsciously guided all the while) – nearly obedient to the dictates of The Book of Genteel Wherewithal.

‘Horatio’ is a Greek or Roman name that almost rhymes with ‘You’re boring us’. Check. And ‘bent wheat’ was, no doubt, the sort of thing 19th Century and earlier peoples put in baby food, to make sure the baby didn’t eat too much. I left out the hardship suffered by mariners. (Let’s add it in: Horatio Wheatbender Tunnybotham Filibuster.) And ‘filibuster’ is close to ‘noise made in anger’. I give myself 4 out of 5 stars for effort.



john b 08.08.09 at 1:54 am

I’m concerned you may be slating the work of televisual and cinematic genius that is CSI Miami. That just isn’t on.


John Holbo 08.08.09 at 1:57 am

I’ve never watched CSI Miami, john b. Which is to say: you are making a joke, and I’m not getting it. This is an intolerable situation. (I’m just a plain man. I will thank you to address me in a plain manner. None of your tricks.)


Substance McGravitas 08.08.09 at 2:31 am

You’ve gotta find an old copy of JanusNode or some other text mangler. Look:

Kowjoyd Rafethok the Calm Scissor-Tail Rasbora
President Weejdillon Convicts-Mammalian
Staff Sergeant Piously Gidget the White Geodesist
Isaiah Oleta the Zany Mailman
Kneeling Canto-Deirdre the Grayling
Zelmatha Amulets-Certification

Et cetera.


John Holbo 08.08.09 at 2:39 am

“Isaiah Oleta the Zany Mailman”

I loved that book as a kid. (Memories, memories.) Postman Pat is a pale pale imitation.


John Holbo 08.08.09 at 2:49 am

“Staff Sergeant Piously Gidget the White Geodesist”

The old trick of giving people adverbial names is, indeed, often a good one. This one, however, cries out to be but one installment in a series of morally improving boy’s adventure titles

Private Piously Gidget and the Itching Amulet
Corporal Piously Gidget and the Whispering Washroom
Staff Sergeant Piously Gidget and the White Geodesist

And so on up through the ranks until our hero becomes a 4-star general. (But he never marries the girl.)


Buce 08.08.09 at 4:14 am

Recall how Joe McCarthy was careful to give all State Dept targets three names so they would sound like cookie pushers. John Carter Vincent, John Stewart Service, John Kenneth Fairbanks, etc.


Bloix 08.08.09 at 5:14 am

The author of the Book of Genteel Wherewithal seems to have been blissfully unaware of the original Horatio Nelson.


e julius drivingstorm 08.08.09 at 5:29 am

Zsheesh. I think I’ll just go home now.


ogmb 08.08.09 at 9:24 am

Sorry, but Hickenlooper is still the best Senatorial name ever.


nickhayw 08.08.09 at 2:40 pm

…I love Achewood.


ajay 08.10.09 at 9:43 am

In the intro to one of his books, PG Wodehouse says that the only way he was able to eat as a young man was that the Saturday Evening Post used to buy his stories, and he was convinced that they only did so, in those days of mighty three-decker names, because an ingenious agent submitted the first one under his full name of


and after that there was no stopping him.


Doug K 08.11.09 at 8:16 pm

ogmb: we have a perfectly good Denver mayor name of Hickenlooper. He was in the running for Ken Salazar’s senatorial seat, but for some inexplicable reason Gov. Ritter appointed the so-far entirely featureless Michael Bennett. I think Mayor H. would have made a fine Senator. Bennett is now ensconced and well-funded unfortunately.

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