Archive for the ‘name’ Category


I Am The Wizard Of Ahs Or Perhaps X•Zinn•Trix. Whip R. Snapper, Zoom Hilda, Pina Collida, Bratty Duke, Maim E. VanDoren, Payne Mansfield, Marilyn Moanroe, Juana Fight, and Dee Stroyer Are Probably Already Taken.

November 7, 2010

Blitz McGee is rockin’ it tonight! Little Bunny FooFoo is on the bench again! Look out, here comes Tit Vicious and Skelo-Kitty! Oh, no, it’s Pepto Dismal!
• Roller Derby announcer, Roller Odyssey, Medford, Oregon, November 6, 2010

This is a first for me. I’m admitting publically that I’m too old to do something. I am not too old to blow bubbles or to swing on swings and slide down slides. I am not too old to love a ride on a Ferris Wheel or an old-fashioned roller coaster. I am not too old to enjoy toasting marshmallows over a fire or to love eating uncooked cookie dough even though I know that the raw eggs in it are a potential health hazard. There is very little I am too grown up to do.

Except for this. Who wouldn’t want to attend the Sis-Q Rollerz Fresh Meat Tenderizing Camp for those interested in joining roller derby? Perhaps you are not attracted to this opportunity. I am. There are very few organizations I’m tempted to join, but this offering is seductive. Unfortunately, I know better than to pursue it.

We attended the Feast of Fury Roller Derby Contest Saturday night where the Sis-Q Rollerz faced off against the Tsunami Sirens. Irresistible! There were fishnet stockings galore, lots of billboard buttery of the “Roller Derby Saved My Ass” ilk, extremely short schoolgirl skirts, and crinolines reminiscent of Madonna’s Desperately Seeking Susan days. All this finery adorned a variety of body shapes, all proudly fierce and skating like crazy. I loved it. But I’m too old to join in. I can’t imagine going to work with a broken appendage, explaining to my students, colleagues, and bosses that I broke my whatever in a roller derby smackdown. Plus, I’d be thinking of all the word processing I need to do and protecting my hands and arms when I ought to be concentrating on fast and furious skating. I hate to say I know better, but I do. I truly am too old for this and common sense wins out over desire.

I can’t join the game, but I can have a name. I find Melissa “Melicious” Joulwan’s site, Roller Girls Totally True Tales from the Track and the “Rollergirl Personas Generator” ( where you can log in and troll through a collection of possible names (see post title for samples) and then test your choice against a master roster of registered Rollergirl names to make sure you aren’t appropriating someone’s moniker. I go directly to the site and check on my favorite conference name, Anne R. Key, but she’s too close to someone else’s. So is Dr. Z. But The Wizard of Ahs is available and so is X•Zinn•Trix, and W-OZ couldn’t be happier

What would your Rollergirl—or Boy—name be?

Here’s what’s forbidden: No hits above the shoulder. No choking. No hitting. No punching. No biting. No fighting. No kicking. Just have fun.
• Roller Derby announcer, Roller Odyssey, Medford, Oregon, November 6, 2010


If Words Are Evidence, You Should Be A Detective.* Remembering The Holidays In Southern California, December 1995

June 24, 2010

For Friday, June 17, 2010

Words are only postage stamps delivering the object for you to unwrap. • George Bernard Shaw (apropos because what I just found in the back of my journal was a variety of fifteen-year-old musings, long forgotten)

Of course, I saw relatives during a holiday visit almost fifteen years ago. Just about every relative or in-law I have lives in SoCal. But I don’t spend much time writing about family relationships. Perhaps I should, but I like viewing these connections through a lens smeared with the Vaseline® of forgetfulness.

Someone was probably grumpy. Someone else probably said something hurtful to somebody that s/he’d like to take back, but it’s too late because you can’t put the peel back on a banana unless you’re stuffing it with chocolate chips and marshmallows so you can wrap it in tinfoil and roast it over a fire. I had fun. I was ready for the solitude of home. The imagined home of nostalgic reminiscence is not the same as the home you create for yourself. The media-induced wonder of familial delight can be elusive.

That’s not the stuff I saved all these years ago and recently found in the back of the journal I used while traveling to Washington, D.C. It’s not just band names I collect. I am fond of signs, forever imagining the creative inspiration that led to a business name:

Lady Mina Skin Care & Electrolysis
The Hall of Frame
The House of Madame JoJo
Gaga Coffee House
Betty Arms Apartments (Oh, Betty, what are you doing without your arms?
Wine Mess Liquors
Inn Kahoots
Clear H2O Cafe
Poly Plaza
Kitty & Doggy Dunk
Anastasia’s Asylum (a restaurant, not an S&M attraction)
Bamboo Pizza Coffee Shop
Morry’s of Naples—“Your Party Store”
Doo Wash Café, Laundromat, Cleaners, Restaurant
Rushing Mighty Wind Christian Assembly
Hair Explosion Salon
The Grateful Head Salon
To the Maxx Hair Salon
Hair-Um (Have you noticed how many puns are used in hair establishment naming? They seem to be a Mane Attraction when naming Clip Joints.)
Jungle Video
Orchid Bowl, Home of the Galleon Room
Geoffreys of Malibu (a restaurant)
Mrs. Steve’s Donuts, Chinese Fast Food, Ice Cream
Comida China at Patty’s Chinese Express (the melding of cultures in SoCal is always interesting and I am also reminded that Via Verde is way more swanky-sounding than Green Street)
Vinyl Horse Fencing (Hmmm, I have several vinyl horses and they stay in place whether I fence them or not.)
Here’s one I want to answer the phone for: The Macadero Apartments in Atascadero. I would want to be wearing a bolero while doing so, perhaps a sombrero as well.
Chateau Lisa Apartments (Betty Arms? Chateau Lisa? Come on, folks, I know you love your names, but Bobby Avenue and Frank’s Bank and their ilk lack a certain je ne sais quoi.)
Haus of Pizza
Bobby Ray’s 24 Hour Restaurant
Hedda & Kranky’s Ice Cream
The Egyptian Pharmacy
Creative Cakery

And, of course, there are many communities like the Diamond Grove—A Gated Community for Active Adults. Do the gates keep people in or out?

I also enjoyed the compelling endorsement on a Saturn billboard, a family group who assert, “We’ll probably buy another one.”

Target announces that it’s having a “Re-Grand Opening.” What does this mean? And how grand will it actually be?

And finally, signs remind me that we can rely on advertising when we have difficulty formulating a philosophy of our own: Sauza comforts us with the reminder that “life is harsh” and that our “tequila shouldn’t be.” And then there are the friendly folks at Long Beach Cellular who provide this piece of advice: “To stay on top you got to stay in touch.” Bless their hearts. It’s too late to correct them now, although I definitely prefer my philosophical statements to be grammatically correct.

What’s your favorite sign?

“On the eighth green of Los Coyotes Country Club Golf Course is a six-year-old custom home being offered by McGarvey-Clark Realty. . .two ten-gallon salt water aquariums introduce a living room accented by a marble fireplace.” This December 23, 1995, clip from the Santa Ana Register reminds all of us that copywriters are human. I imagine as I read it that as potential buyers enter the foyer, the fish speak: “Hi, we’re the fish and this here’s the living room. Sushi, anyone?”

• This quotation is on a junior high school reader board, but by the time I’ve written it down, the school is gone and I don’t know its name.


If Names Are Not Correct, Language Will Not Be In Accordance With The Truth Of Things*

May 17, 2010

Names are an important key to what a society values. Anthropologists recognize naming as one of the chief methods for imposing order on perception.
• David S. Slawson

Imagine that your name is Javier and that your teachers claim it’s too difficult to pronounce, calling you Jay instead, despite your repeated attempts to help them. You are polite, but persistent, and willing to accept almost any variation, but they are recalcitrant. Imagine that after years of this, you give up and call yourself Jay. You still don’t like it, but no one asks, so you don’t tell. Then one day someone does ask and years of resentment pour out. Such a little thing—a name—but such a big difference it would have made to have heard it.

Imagine that your name has an ethnic flair and you are asked by someone who’s never met you and knows nothing about you if, as an ethnic person of color, you would speak to a group of people and discuss the choices you’ve made with your life “staying out of gangs and off drugs, going to college, listening to teachers and parents, and so forth.” The reality of your life is negated by their assumptions about who you are and where you came from.

Imagine that.

I’m thinking of names because the mail brought me yet another batch of unsolicited junk addressed to Ori Wilkozin, Wilkori Zinn, and Zinn Oriwilk. Having three last names with a hyphenated first does provide a challenge, but the endless variations are surprising. If we can get lengthy mathematical combinations correctly transcribed, names seem to me to be much easier to eyeball than 5972980-4’19762 3988.

The mathematical challenges if the situation were reversed are articulated in Norton Juster’s (1970) parable, The Phantom Tollbooth: “Why, can you imagine what would happen if we named all the twos Henry or George or Robert or John or lots of other things? You’d have to say Robert plus John equals four, and if the four’s name were Albert, things would be hopeless.”

I can forgive the O’Reilly-ing of my name since Bill has more fame than I, except that I cannot understand why the institution that granted my doctorate continues to spell my name incorrectly despite numerous emails, letters, and phone calls.

Imagine that.

Imagine that we listened carefully to people’s names. Imagine that we pronounced them correctly as best we could. Imagine that we did not mock those whose accents are different from our own—whomever they are—when our unfamiliar names did not flow sweetly from their tongues and our r’s trilled imperfectly and our gutturals were not and our mouthings missed the mark.

Imagine that.

What’s your name story?

Names, once they are in common use, quickly become mere sounds, their etymology being buried like so many of the earth’s marvels, beneath the dust of habit.
• Salman Rushdie

* Title quotation provided by Confucius.


So Ask Yourself: Are You the Kind of Person Who Got a Weiner Dog Just So You Could Name It Oscar Meyer? More Name Stuff I Can’t Resist.

May 4, 2010

No object is stuck with its name so irrevocably that one cannot find another which suits it better.
• Rene Magritte

You’ve probably noticed my onomatonamia (n. an obsession with particular words or names and a desire to recall or repeat them). Actually, this probably isn’t the right name for my obsession with name stuff, but it’s certainly a name-related vocabulary word, so I’m including it with my namegame brainplay for friends or study groups.

Namegame number one:

If House were one of the seven dwarfs, he’d be Grumpy, not Doc.
• Promo for the television show
House, April 29, 2010

Which of the seven dwarfs (Doc, Grumpy, Sleepy, Bashful, Sneezy, Happy, Dopey) would you be? OR If you were the eighth little person in the group, what would your name be? Consider these rejects from the movie naming: Jumpy, Burpey, Shorty, Nifty, Gabby, Tubby, Baldy, Puffy, Lazy, and Wheezy.

Namegame number two:

George Washington Diet Fresca.
Community, April 29, 2010, a porn star name (or a pseudonym for those playing this game with the under seventeen crowd) made by combining the name of your high school and your favorite soft drink

There are many versions of this game. Use this one or use the name of your first pet and the name of the first street you lived on to come up with your stripper name. I become Jitterbug Douglas. I learned this one from high school students, although I wouldn’t recommend initiating it with them. Or devise your own combination of things from your past—your first car and the state–or country or province–you were born in, for example. That’s your cowpoke name, making me Ford Illinois, a hard-ridin’ ‘n’ steer-ropin’ gal! (Actually, it was a Ford Falcon, so I suppose I could choose and possibly become Falcon Illinois, also a dandy option.)

Namegame number three:

Pen names are masks that allow us to unmask ourselves.
• C. Astrid Weber

You can make up your own author’s name or you can generate a nom de plume with the pen name generator at I visit the site and I don’t like the first feature: I have to submit my gender. I choose female and become “Our Lady Bonbons.” I see if I will fare better as a male and get “Sir Pumpkin Longshanks.” I can do better myself, following in the footsteps of other famous folks like Robert Beck who identifies as Iceberg Slim or Dav Pilkey of Captain Underpants fame who parodies pseudonym by using Sue Denim.

Namegame number four:

My name is only an anagram of toilets.
• T.S. Eliot

I’d try making an anagram of my name, but when faced with its letters, I feel like I do when I get a bad draw in Scrabble®. Too many i’s, a z, and a k. I’ve visited anagram-creating sites—there are many—but when I enter the letters of my name, everything begins with lionizer and becomes incomprehensible from there. My favorite anagram: Frito Lay = Oily Fart, but then you know I love fart stuff. Perhaps you’ll have better luck with your name. I do like Nniz Yeliro Snikliw, however.

Namegame number five:

When I was ten we moved and I decided that none of the names I was then called—Reggie, Bobby, Baa—suited me. Somehow I hit on Rex. I must have heard someone calling for their dog and thought it sounded rather nice.
• Rex Harrison

Okay—you have to take the name of a pet as the name your friends will call you. A literal pet name. What’s it gonna be? I quickly discard Jitterbug and Whiskers and Francois and Sitka and Sam and decide I’ll have to think about this one. Clearly, I haven’t had enough pets—and they’ve all been guys. Not that there’s anything wrong with adopting a male name–there’s a long history of that for womenfolk who want to be taken seriously (sigh), but still none of these is something I’d want to hear called across a crowded room.

Namegame number six is up to you.

What’s your namegame?

If I’d given you that freedom at three, your name would be Count Chocula Botwin.
• Mary Louise Parker, in
Weeds, to her son who’s said he thinks you should get to pick your own name