Posted by: Mark Wollemann: On the move | February 24, 2019

Editors are weird. Here’s some proof.

blog post photo

He carries it well. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

I’ve spent most of my career doing more editing than writing. When you are “improving” other people’s work (that’s my emphasis; reporters may disagree), you spend a lot of time examining words. You look at unintended humor in the word choices of others. You try to save your publication or the reporter in its employ from error, embarrassment or legal entanglement (libel, maliciousness and the like).

And that’s what gave me the idea last year to accumulate a broad listing of what I’m calling “aptly named characters from the news.” I spent the past year and a half as a news editor at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, but I was always on the lookout for interesting names. I tried to steer clear of things that might inspire mockery, but in some cases, like the photo attached to this blog post, it was kind of the point. I mean, if Brooks Pounders happened to be a svelte hurler, it wouldn’t have made my list. And since I’m a little on the chunky side myself (I know I’m being generous, but ridicule away), I celebrate Brooks’ achievement. If I may be so bold as to paraphrase Marc Antony, I came to praise Brooks Pounders, not to bury him.

And so it is with the rest of my discoveries, who I share with you now, in no particular order but with all the affection and respect possible for those who voluntarily speak with reporters and share their stories:

— Ashley Weed. She bought a flower shop in St. Paul. It’d be better if she were opening up a marijuana growing facility, but alas, the evil weed (the plant, not Ashley) is not exactly legal in the state.
— Dawn Sommers. She works for the Minneapolis park and rec board and was quoted in a story about a local pool being closed because of high heat in, um, the summer time.
— Erika Rivers was quoted in a story about the “Opt Outside” movement. She works for the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. They monitor, you know, state parks and waterways.
— Speaking of waterways, Ryan Krick (that’s how Milwaukeans and I guess those from Appalachia pronounce “creek”) is an environmental health supervisor at the state department of health. He was quoted in a story about the health of swimming in various bodies of water, including, um, creeks, I guess.
— Laura Roads is a staff attorney for the state Department of Transportation.
— Michael Lander is a real estate developer in Minneapolis.
— Randi Church is president of the Messiah Lutheran Church Council.
— Jennifer Goforth is the chief engineer of electrification at General Motors China. Go forth. Get it?
— Kyle Baker is a partner in a North Side bakery.
— Jason Sole is head of the Minneapolis NAACP.
— Seth Whitelaw, a senior fellow at the Mitchell-Hamline School of … you got it … Law.
— Joel Stich is senior director of Health Care markets at Blue Cross. (A personal aside: My childhood doctor, Dr. Harry Cutting, cut out a birthmark on my shoulder that he worried would become cancerous. He did a good job on the cutting out part, but a less-good job on the, um, stitching up.)
— Jody Mathiowetz is a 12th-grade school counselor who helps students navigate the college entry process. I don’t know if math is part of her skill set, but it ought to be.
— Best name for a Minnesota politician: Jennifer Loon, the Republican from Eden Prairie. Loon is the state bird, of course. It’s also a frequent pejorative for politicians of all stripes.
— Ted Stroll co-founded the Sustainable Trails Coalition in Colorado that is dedicated to changing rules for wilderness areas, ostensibly so there could be more nature strolling.
— Benita Warns, a St. Paul resident, who was quoted in a story sounding the alarm about too much noise from that city’s new soccer stadium.
— Greg Boerboom is a hog farmer from near Marshall, Minn. He was quoted in a story about the effects of tariffs on pork producers, so perhaps was concerned about a boar bust?
— Another story about tariffs and their impact on Minnesota’s industries, including agriculture, had a perfectly named character, considering the state’s wild rice heritage. The business owner’s name is Chris Rice, but he’s in construction, not agriculture, sadly. (That was a long walk for that one, sorry.)
— I don’t know if he’s just kidding, but how does Dr. Andrew JK Smith introduce himself to patients? “Hi, I’m Dr. Smith. JK Smith.” JK? So not Dr. Smith? Might be funnier after that first shot of Versed before the cardiologist at Park Nicollet does a procedure. (Another long walk. Sorry.)
— Beth Warmka of Minneapolis braved the chilly temps to take in the Minnesota Twins home opener.
— David Woods, from the nonprofit Urban Roots, was quoted in a story about restoring tree growth in the wake of emerald ash borer destruction.
— And a Wisconsin man did not live up to his name during a police chase that reached 100 mph (and thankfully ended without incident). His last name is Mosay.

I know seeking amusement about people’s names is probably the lowest form of humor. I don’t regret it, though. Those nights are long, the editing task often thankless. We take our rewards where we can get them.

Feel free to add your own in the comments.





  1. Reminds me of my sister-in-law’s two nieces: Summer Gail and Amanda Lynn.

  2. Most of these are pretty funny, but the ones that required long explanations really drove me up a wall, man.

  3. My grandmother owned a deli.

  4. I once got to see a Dr. Payne

  5. Hank Wendt and left Milwaukee and moved to Brantwood. See,,I get it!

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