If there is anything "more Milwaukee" than bowling, I'm not sure what it might be.
Nicknames have been a part of the American pro bowler's tour for years; and very much a part of the local bowling scene as well. "Browneout," let me introduce you to "The Tornado in a Miniskirt."
On the pro-bowling circuit, there was "Wrongfoot" Loui Campi, the only right-handed star of his day, to finish his approach on his right foot. And remember Carmen Salvino, nicknamed "The Spook?" He liked his nickname so much he had a stamp created that said "The Spook Was Here," a reference to the irreverent WWII slogan "Kilroy Was Here."
Then there was the great Earl Anthony. Remember his nickname? "The Doomsday Striking Machine" because he so consistently rolled strikes it spelled doom for many of his opponents.
Or what about Don Carter, nicknamed "Bosco?" He was called that because there was a chocolate beverage of the same name that was his favorite drink. That might be all well and good, but his wife, Paula Carter, was the real show-stopper. She wasn't called "The Tornado in a Miniskirt" for nothin'.
But what about the local Milwaukee metro area bowling scene? Is it replete with nicknames? You bet it is. And finding them was as easy as rolling a gutter ball on an open lane.
This past Wednesday night, I spent 15 minutes at the Circle B bowl in Grafton, and stumbled upon a group of 20-something locals, who bowl every Wednesday night. With technology's ability to post your bowling nickname above your lane for all the world to see, it was a quick strike.
I asked local Chris Dyer how he and his buddies came up with their nicknames that night for bowling.
"Every night before we start to bowl, we pick a theme, like movies: Star Wars, Lion King or a TV show like King of the Hill. Tonight we chose South Park characters."
So the nicknames for Chris and the boys Wednesday night were "Cartman," "Token," "Stan" and "Randy." Makes sense. Good clean fun.
But what about the girls at the lane next door? Their nicknams were some real beauties too. My three favorites were "Browneout," "Hot Mess" and the indelible "Puker." So I asked Morgan, the girl's group spokesperson, to explain their nicknames.
"Well, my last name is Browne, and ever since I was a freshman at University of Minnesota, after an epic night, the next morning was always a 'Browneout." Impeccable logic for my money.
But what about ""Hot Mess" and "Puker?"
"Well tonight we just came up with 'Hot Mess' and 'Puker,' of course, spent an entire night one night with her head in a toilet bowl."
But of course. There were other nicknames a few lanes over, including "Boozy" and "Triple C." I figured there was no real need to ask where those bowling nicknames came from.
The fall leagues are starting soon. Is your team full of nicknames? If they are, send them to me. If not, after reading this blog, perhaps it's time to think about giving everyone on your team this fall a nickname. And the more meaningful, the better. Perhaps a contest for the best bowling nickname in Milwaukee, via the nickname blog.
John Leaf was born in western Illinois, a mile east of the Mississippi. College in Chicago. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and Philosophy. Leaf was goalie on the soccer team and captain of the golf team in college. He cut class to ride the "L" to see Cubs games, hung out for hours at the Art Institute and bent the brain doing graduate school in Theology.
He spent three mind-blowing summers in coastal British Columbia, as a resort photographer. He worked and lived in Minneapolis. He did hard time at a bank on LaSalle Street in Chicago and learned about PR, working at big firm a block off Michigan Avenue, while living in Evanston.
Now Leaf is just living the dream, under the radar, in Cedarburg. He's passionate about nicknames and launched his website three years ago.
He dabbles in yoga and cycling. Fishtailing as always, and taking a whack at life, like everyone else.