Hawaiian Nature Name: Lehua

lehua, hawaii, name, plant, nature, flowerThe Hawaiian name Lehua (pronounced leh-HOO-ah) refers to the showy flower of the ‘ōhi’a lehua plant, Metrosideros polymorpha. The flower’s petals are very small, but its stamens are long and typically bright red.

The plant is endemic to the Hawaiian islands and has great cultural significance among Hawaiians. The word lehua refers not just to the flower, for instance, but also (figuratively) to various types of people: “warrior, beloved friend or relative, sweetheart, expert.” The plant even has its own creation myth: the goddess Pele created the plant by transforming human lovers Ohia and Lehua into the tree and the blossom, respectively.

This cultural importance no doubt stems from the plant’s ecological importance. The ‘ōhi’a lehua is a keystone species in Hawaii that’s often the first to colonize barren lava. The adaptations that allow for this include: year-round flowering, lightweight seeds, roots adept at growing vertically (i.e., in cracks and fissures), and the plant’s ability to close its stomata when volcanic gases are around — to hold its breath when the air turns toxic, in other words.

So Lehua, like other flower names, refers to an object of beauty…but this particular object of beauty is also a genuine symbol of concepts like resilience and adaptation. Which makes Lehua rather unique among flower names, I think.

What are your thoughts on the name Lehua?

(The photo is of a young ‘ōhi’a lehua inside the Kīlauea Iki pit crater, which my husband and I visited a few years ago on a trip to Hawaii. That particular lava flow happened in 1959.)

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Keedy: The ’90s Baby Name that Never Was?

keedy, 90s, music
Pop Singer Keedy

Not long ago I discovered a new-to-me pop star from the early ’90s named Keedy (born Kelly Ann Keedy).

In 1991 she put out the album Chase the Clouds. Two singles from that album ended up the Billboard Hot 100. The catchier of the two, “Save Some Love,” peaked at #15 in May.

The follow-up, a ballad called “Wishing On The Same Star,” peaked at #86 in August.

…And that was it. No more major label albums, no more singles on the charts.

But what if she had stuck around a little longer? Would “Keedy” have emerged in the baby name data?

The girl names Keely, Kaylee, Kendall, Kennedy, and Kylie were all on the rise in the early ’90s. Keedy would have been right on trend.

What do you think: Could Keedy have been a contender?

Sources: Rare and Obscure Music: Keedy, Keedy – Billboard

Name Battle: Dobie Gillis Names vs. Scooby Doo Names

maynard, dobie gillis, shaggy, scooby doo,

Did you know that the teenage characters of the cartoon Scooby Doo, Where Are You! — Fred, Shaggy, Daphne, and Velma — were based directly on four of the teenage characters in The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis — Dobie, Maynard, Thalia, and Zelda?

(And, did you know that Shaggy’s real name was Norville?!)

So let’s try a poll. Which set of names do you like better, the Dobie Gillis names or the Scooby Doo names?

Which group of names do you like better?

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Source: TV Legends Revealed | Jinkies! The Mysterious Origins of ‘Scooby-Doo’

Fake Celebrity Baby Name: “god”

In the early 1970s, the Internet as we know it didn’t exist. But people back then were just as fascinated by scandalous celebrity baby names as they are today.

For example, in 1971, Grace Slick and Paul Kantner, both of the band Jefferson Airplane, welcomed a baby girl. Grace told the press that her daughter’s name was “god” with a small g:

“It’s a small ‘g’ because with a name like that you have to show some humility.”

The story was widely reported…but it wasn’t true. It was a rumor that Grace herself had concocted and started spreading well before the birth.

The baby’s real name was China.

China Kantner had a brief acting career, including a recurring role on the TV sitcom Home Improvement in the late ’90s as character Willow Wilson. In one episode Willow says, “My full name is Willow Branch Leaf Wilson. But I pruned it back.”

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The Brief Rise of Rhoda

patty mccormack, rhoda penmark, bad seed, 1956
Rhoda Penmark (Patty McCormack)
Here’s a girl name that might be a good fit for a Halloween baby…

The name is Rhoda, which comes from the ancient Greek word rhodon, meaning “rose.” Which is lovely…but, for many, the strongest association isn’t roses but Rhoda Penmark, the “murderous moppet so cold she could practice her piano lessons methodically while her latest victim was burning to death in the basement below.” Not so lovely.

The character of Rhoda was played by 11-year-old Patty McCormack in the movie The Bad Seed (1956), which was successful at the box office and earned McCormack an Oscar nomination. McCormack had originated the role* in the 1954 Broadway play, which was adapted from the 1954 book by Alabama author William March.

Evil children are now a horror trope, but back in the ’50s, Rhoda was breaking new ground. She “was a character with no precedent in film history” who had inherited her homicidal tendencies from her serial killer grandmother.

The movie gave the name Rhoda a lot of exposure, and as the result — despite the character’s sinister nature and obnoxiously perfect braids — the name saw a temporary rise in usage in 1957:

  • 1959: 259 baby girls named Rhoda [rank: 619th]
  • 1958: 265 baby girls named Rhoda [rank: 611th]
  • 1957: 356 baby girls named Rhoda [rank: 504th]
  • 1956: 241 baby girls named Rhoda [rank: 617th]
  • 1955: 238 baby girls named Rhoda [rank: 598th]

What are your thoughts on the name Rhoda?

*Another young actress who played Rhoda early on was Kimetha Laurie, who we talked about yesterday.

Source: The Bad Seed – TCM