Nicknames, Pseudonyms, and Imposters

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April 7, 2019 by libroshombre

The Legends of Austin Soccer, an annual reunion of ancient soccer players, meets, so nicknames have been on my mind. In the early, less graceful phase of my playing career, I garnered the nickname “the butcher,” but in Austin I was called “the trout” for obscure reasons. Baseball’s has the best sporting nicknames. For instance, Ronald Guzman, the Texas Rangers first baseman, has abnormally long arms and legs that allow him to stretch a half-foot further in catching throws. A sportswriter saw him and wrote, “there were condors in the stands who envied Guzman’s wingspan.” He’s been “the condor” ever since, and a few weeks ago “adopted” a baby condor by contributing to a conservation fund.

Condor’s tame compared to other baseball monikers, like Wagon Tongue Adams, who swung an extra long bat, chubby Donut Bill Carrick, and Tabasco Kid Elberfeld, whose temper was so bad he was tossed from 26 games, once for throwing mud into an umpire’s mouth. Baseball nicknames are legion: Bootnose Hoffman, Earache Meyer, Huck Sawyer, Chicken Hawks, Eyechart Gwosdz, Inch Gleich, Hippity Hop, and Pickles Gerken don’t begin to scratch the surface.

How could I leave out Old Wax Finger Hemmins, Swampbaby Wilson, or Grandmother Power you ask? Can’t say, but I will reveal that my favorite nickname came not from athletics but from faith healing. Valentine “the Stroker” Greatrakes was a very religious Protestant Irishman with a great regular name who discovered in the 1660s he could cure scrofula, AKA “the King’s evil,” by stroking the affected areas of sufferers with his hands. The Stroker cured fevers, ulcers, convulsions, and more and while some results were mixed, “he was never branded a fake,” as an article on him states. “Perhaps he was simply an honest Irish faith healer.”

Osteopathic medicine isn’t faith healing, but I’ve faith in Fairbanks osteopath Dr. Todd Capistrant, who quickly reversed decades of pain from several old injuries by following the osteopathic Fascia Distortion Model. This treats the connective tissues that run throughout our bodies, down to the cellular level, and especially old sprains and dislocations. Probably won’t cure your King’s evil, but it’s worth exploring if you have muscular-skeletal issues.

I look forward to Dr. Capistrant working on my elbows and shoulders, which reminds me of pseudonyms and William Arms Fisher. “Arms” wasn’t his baseball nickname; Fisher was an American composer and music historian who studied under Antonin Dvorak, who inspired him to begin arranging American folk music, like Dvorak did for his native Czech folkmusic. Fisher published “Seventy Negro Spirituals” in 1926 and wrote the lyrics to the “Goin’ Home” tune in Dvorak’s New World Symphony.

Fisher “used at least fourteen pseudonyms” as a composer, but unlike nicknames, that are usually bestowed by others, pseudonyms are adopted by the person themselves for many reasons: composing in different genres, working outside their main career, given names are difficult to pronounce, obscure their sex or nationality, or, as noted in “Musical AKAs,” a reference book in our library, “sometimes assumed names are chosen in a sense of fun or in an attempt to be clever. Perhaps that is why Fanny J. Crosby wrote as Mrs. Nom D. Plume or why Kenneth Werner chose the name Phil Harmonic. And then there was C. Van Ness Clark and Martin Hickey, who jointly used the name Dick C. Land on ‘Bile Them Cabbage Down,’ and ‘Flounder Foot Polka.’”

Imposter syndrome was mentioned recently by a Texas Ranger too new to have a nickname. An article in says it “reflects a belief that you’re inadequate and an incompetent failure despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and successful … It can take various forms … If you’re familiar with the feeling of waiting for those around you to ‘find you out,’ it might be helpful to consider what sort of imposter you are so you can problem-solve accordingly.” These range from micromanaging “Perfectionist,” to the “Superwoman/man” who works late and feels stressed when not working, to “Soloists” who fear revealing weakness by asking for colleagues’ help.

In the past two years nearly 60% of borough residents got free borrower cards at your public library, all using real names, because at the library everybody’s somebody.

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