Tuesday, April 17, 2018

2018 Name of the Year: The Elite Eight

An elephant is sitting on your chest. You can barely breathe. 911. EMS. Stretcher, aspirin, nitroglycerin, oxygen mask. Stickers all over your chest. EKG. Screaming ambulance. A harried doctor approaches. You might be having a heart attack. We need to stick a wire into your heart.

Dr. Prospero Gogo,” he says. “Please consent for catheterization.” 

Another pill. Sleep. You wake under a warm blanket, groggy but pain free. Good news: You’re alive. Bad news: You need a bypass. A coiffed man in a long white coat strides into your fluorescent room. 

“Hi, I’m Dr. Loki Skylizard,” he says, “and I will be operating on your heart.”

Across the country, NOTY nominees are keeping America healthy. Dr. Loki Skylizard (NOTY 2014) is a cardiothoracic surgeon who changed his name as a child and stuck with it. Dr. Prospero Gogo (2017) is a cardiologist in Vermont. If Florida is your home, Dr. SkyHawk Fadigan (2013) might do your next pap smear. Lyme disease got you down in New Jersey? Paging infectious disease specialist Dr. Jihad Slim (1999).

As E.R. took off in the 1990s, so did physician NOTY nominees. Dr. Slim was joined by New York City pediatrician Dr. Barney Softness and then Brooklyn dentist Dr. Constant Jose. This decade has brought a rush of white coats: Dr. Speedy Nutz, Dr. Festus Dada, 2011 NOTY winner Dr. Taco BM Monster, Dr. Suparman Marzuki, Dr. Electron Kebebew, and this year’s No. 1 seed in the Chrochtangle Regional, Dr. Narwhals Mating.

The vivid imagery of Dr. Mating’s name—horny horned whales, the unicorns of the sea, copulating freely—contrasts his obscure origin. Narwhals Mating was first listed as a member of the Hennepin County (Minn.) Medical Society in 2000, when he graduated from University of Minnesota’s medical school. After a family-medicine residency in Wisconsin, Dr. Mating moved to California’s central valley, where he practices now.

This year wasn’t our first Narwhals sighting. A reader submitted his name in 2011, during a period of NOTY hiatus. When we did not respond, they wrote again, concerned that the good doctor was lost in a deluge of email. They weren’t wrong; the High Committee never considered his name. He was lost in the shuffle again in 2016. Finally, this year, Mating surfaced.

Your author, Steel, is the High Committee’s resident physician. He called Dr. Mating’s office for a peer-to-peer discussion of his onomastic origin. The doctor was out. But a public records search yielded news that Dr. Narwhals Mating used to be Raymond Rex Spisak.

Shudders? Horrors? Petitions for his removal? Nah. A legal name change is a legal name change. Precedent was established in the 1980s, when Birdie Africa and his family members (who were in involved in a crazy bombing by Philadelphia police) were welcomed to the ballot. Then came one Crescent Dragonwagon, the Hall of Name member who changed her name at age 16.  

So far, Dr. Mating has successfully operated on the 16, 9 and 4 seeds in the Chrotchtangle—Clinton Bacon, Mahogany Loggins, and Beau Titsworth. Of the five docs in the original field of 64, he is the last one standing. Will he slice open Gandalf Hernandez like his previous opponents? Or will the doctor be forced to hang up his stethoscope? Say ahhhh, and vote in all four Elite Eight match-ups below.

Thanks again to Evan Gregory for the updated bracket.



#1 Salami Blessing vs. #2 Jimbob Ghostkeeper


#1 Makenlove Petit-Fard vs. #2 Rev. Dongo Pewee


#9 Delicious Peters vs. #3 Quindarious Gooch


#1 Dr. Narwhals Mating vs. #10 Gandalf Hernandez

Friday, April 13, 2018

2017 Name of the Year: The Sweet Sixteen

Money, religion, and politics. Emily Post might suggest that they’re not to be discussed in polite company, because they’re likely to cause a squabble among even the most mild-mannered conversants. But then over the Easter ham or Passover brisket, your creepy uncle simply has to mention just this one thing he read online. Politifact rated it “Pants on Fire,” but he doesn’t care. You may know to ignore him, but a naive cousin or family friend might be less wise. Then suddenly tempers are flaring and you can feel your pulse behind your eyes. Feelings will get hurt. Relatives could become estranged. Kugle may be thrown.
So in today’s darker times, allow Name of the Year to serve as a beacon of fireproof pants. All of our names are real, submitted by our real-life readers, individually vetted and dissected by the high committee before being presented to the voting public for discussion and debate. We don’t allow Reddit-style resentment to muddle our view. So just as we do in our work of whittling hundreds of premium monikers down to 64, four-seed Chardonnay Beaver seeks to cut through emotional bias in her work as a mediator at Garfield High School.
“A lot of these issues are about unintentional or irrational reactions so my goal is to come in as a leader and just as a peer,” Beaver said in an interview with the Garfield Messenger. “So [I] come in and, you know, ‘What I hear you saying is this. Can you explain it to that person so they get a clearer view?’ Fixing misinterpretations so that they leave the meeting feeling good.”
Compared to the Fox News headlines-cum-White House tweets, such open-mindedness is refreshing. The most mature voices in room are now high schoolers like Beaver, who yearn to speak honestly about painful issues. Teenagers move us to march for our beliefs and change the world for the oppressed. And Name of the Year is proud to see our new leaders widely represented in this year’s Sweet Sixteen: Chardonnay Beaver, of course, but also Fruithandler one-seed Makenlove Petit-Fard, Bulltron three-seed Mosthigh Thankgod, and Chrotchtangle four-seed Beau Titsworth, among others. These youths represent the best of their generation not just in attitude, as above, but also in name, as you’re about to vote below.
With each post we remind you to follow us on Twitter, but this week we remind you to do so responsibly. Do not follow us on Twitter with malice and anger, like a certain orange president. Do not follow us on Twitter with deceit, like a certain 13-seed whose alleged threat to wallop a policeman was only misdirection. Instead, follow us on Twitter with kindness. Follow us on Twitter with an open mind. Follow us on Twitter with honesty or as Beaver might: with positivity. “If we just focus on the positivity and the energy of each other and we know how to act off of that, there are so many things we can do.”

Thanks to Evan Gregory for the Sweet Sixteen bracket above. Please vote below and, of course, remember to follow us on Twitter.



#1 Salami Blessing vs. #13 Miracle Crimes

#3 Mosthigh Thankgod vs. #2 Jimbob Ghostkeeper


#1 Makenlove Petit-Fard vs. #12 Dr. Megha Panda

#11 Covadonga del Busto Naval vs. #2 Rev. Dongo Pewee


#9 Delicious Peters vs. #4 Chardonnay Beaver

#3 Quindarious Gooch vs. #7 Candida Seasock


#1 Dr. Narwhals Mating vs. #4 Beau Titsworth

#3 Dr. Taekwondo Byrd vs. #10 Gandalf Hernandez

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

2018 Name of the Year: Dragonwagon and Chrotchtangle, Round Two

The bracket above comes courtesy of reader Evan Gregory, who has filled in the first-round winners. Beyond his NOTY fandom, Evan is also one of The Gregory Brothers, known for their soulful songifications of news and pop culture. Thanks, Evan! We promised we’d share your bracket, and a promise like that is unbreakable.

NOTY succeeds only because of its symbiotic relationship with its fans. You feed us hundreds of names and we refine them into a bracket of compelling matchups. When the seeds are set, you use our framework to create more joyous things, including Evan’s updated bracket, Daniel Wood’s sublime vote tracker, Dave Mercier's calligraphic chalkboard, and Deadspin’s podcast guffaws, led by Drew Magary.

Organizations thrive when individual members come together in pursuit of a higher goal (in our case, the celebration of great names). One person who understands this well is Dragonwagon Regional seven-seed Candida Seasock, the founder of a business mentorship firm called CTS Associates.

In her line of work, Candida meets with businesses that range from Fortune 500 to emerging companies. She leads the award-winning “Growth Path to Success,” which “is based on targeted business development, strategic marketing, fostering strong and long-term client relationships and implementing 360-degree agility into a company’s processes and operations.”

One piece of advice Candida offers concerns smart hiring practices. If companies only look to check off boxes on a job description, they could enlist toxic employees and negatively affect their culture. “Skills can be taught or developed, but honesty and integrity are found from within,” she told The Huffington Post in 2016.

It’s not just Candida’s clients who work together efficiently; her name is highly synergistic as well. Its syllables undulate pleasantly from stressed to unstressed, and its sharp /ee/ sounds, arranged in an assonant pair, hit like snare drums. Lexically, she offers both brains and brawn. Candida’s first name evokes the legendary wit of Voltaire, while her surname conjures an image of a forceful, briny gust of wind.

Thanks to those interwoven elements, Candida earned a decisive first-round victory over 10-seed Adele Gorrilla. In her next matchup, she’ll face an opponent whose moniker has its own ties to corporate America: 15-seed Yo’Heinz Tyler, who hails from Louisiana but shares a name with a company based in Pittsburgh. If the incoming Ball State freshman wide receiver winds up catching passes for the Steelers at Heinz Field one day, he’ll pull off one of the greatest feats of synergy the business world has ever seen.

But first, he’ll have to get past Candida. Eight matchups are below. Vote. Share. Tweet.


#1 La Royce Lobster-Gaines vs. #9 Delicious Peters

#12 Chosen Roach vs. #4 Chardonnay Beaver

#11 Forbes Thor Kiddoo vs. #3 Quindarious Gooch

#7 Candida Seasock vs. #15 Yo'Heinz Tyler


#1 Dr. Narwhals Mating vs. #9 Mahogany Loggins

#5 Rev. Hobbit Forrest vs. #4 Beau Titsworth

#11 Hallelujah Lulie vs. #3 Dr. Taekwondo Byrd

#10 Gandalf Hernandez vs. #2 Shaka Licorish

Monday, April 9, 2018

2018 Name of the Year: Bulltron and Fruithandler, Round Two

When the mind turns to salami, where does it first go? Sigmund Freud made a living off of this question. Your author, the Gen-X son of a New York shrink, thinks of Katz’s Delicatessen. If you prefer wordplay to foreplay, maybe it’s to Jon Agee’s compendium of palindromes, Go Hang a Salami! I’m a Lasagna Hog!

And then there are those of a certain age—the age, say, of the founding members of the NOTY High Committee—who conjure one Mario “Salami” Pettrino, reserve guard on the Carver High School basketball team in the CBS drama The White Shadow (front row, far right). One of them will now take over this post for a couple of paragraphs to drop some knowledge, or Coolidge, on you.

The White Shadow—which aired from 1978-81, precisely when the High Committee was in high school—helped usher in the era of gritty, high-concept Quality Television like Hill Street Blues, E.R., and Homicide. Created by Bruce Paltrow (Gwyneth’s dad), The White Shadow tackled it all: gun violence, teen pregnancy, absentee fathers, homosexuality, STDs, drugs and alcohol. It was serious without being (too) didactic, genuinely funny, and often downright moving. Bill Simmons says it changed his life. Here’s a nice appreciation by Nell Beram in The Awl. The show was terrific. You should watch it.

Salami was the white punk transplanted New Yorker. In one episode he unwittingly shares prescription amphetamines with the team. In another he is seduced by a teacher. Salami was played by Timothy Van Patten, who would go on to direct the Quality TV that descended from the descendants of The White Shadow—including episodes of The Sopranos, The Wire, and Game of Thrones.

Which brings us to the second round of the Bulltron Regional, where we find another Salami, No. 1 seed Salami Blessing, a 23-year old chemical engineer from Nigeria, a land rich in oil, sesame, and names. Nigeria has given us NOTY luminaries such as ex-president Goodluck Jonathan and top-100 international Scrabble player Ben Quickpen. So it is perhaps no surprise that this 2016 interview with Blessing doesn’t even bother to get into the provenance of her name.

The whys and wherefores, however, are not always of immediate concern. What inspired Richard Mather to name his boy Cotton, and Cotton to up the ante, naming his offspring Increase? Why did 2008 name-inee Perfect Engelberger call her son Dom Perignon Champagne? Who sent us this Salami?

Sometimes, though, the stories of how names come to the High Committee’s attention merit retelling. Sure, the majority arrive via email (for which, thanks), spotted by you (and us) in, more often than not, the ninth paragraph of a local news report about a holdup at a gas station. But sometimes a Committee member tears off the side of a moving box and submits it as validation.

That was the case with Jerome Fruithandler (NOTY 2004, Hall of Name 2008). This NOTY offseason we heard from a grandson of Jerome’s asking for “something noting the victory. Something for the family” to honor his late grandfather. Until the Hall of Name becomes a brick-and-mortar tourist destination, however, the best we can offer is a virtual salute.

And so it is that the region formerly known as the Sithole (for Zimbabwean legislator and 1985 NOTY Godfrey Sithole) is now the Jerome Fruithandler Memorial. It is a small but sincere token of our appreciation. As we wrote in 2008, Jerome was a respected member of Temple Bet Torah in Mount Kisco, N.Y. When such a beloved figure dies, by tradition it is said zikhrono livrakha: “May his memory be a blessing.”

Perhaps this year a Salami Blessing.

Vote below.

Dan Wachtell is a lawyer, soccer enthusiast, and occasional writer living in Brooklyn.


#1 Salami Blessing vs. #8 Duckens Nazon

#12 Armagedon Draughn vs. #13 Miracle Crimes

#6 Tuna Altuna vs. #3 Mosthigh Thankgod

#7 Dr. Dimple Royalty vs. #2 Jimbob Ghostkeeper


#1 Makenlove Petit-Fard vs. #9 Sparkle Hayter

#12 Dr. Megha Panda vs. #4 Corky Boozé

#11 Covadonga del Busto Naval vs. #14 Obra Kernodle IV

#10 Devoid Couch vs. #2 Rev. Dongo Pewee

Thursday, April 5, 2018

2018 Name of the Year: Chrotchtangle Regional, Round One

History is filled with great underdog stories. The Giants toppling the 18-0 Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Villanova playing a “Perfect Game” against Georgetown in the 1985 NCAA championship. Twelve-year-old Henry Rowengartner making the Chicago Cubs in 1993. 

And that's just sports. Given Name of the Year’s cultural cachet, the stakes here are much higher. Time may forget a World Series champion—did you know the White Sox won the World Series in 2005? It’s true!—but a NOTY champion lives forever. Each year, you may look down the bracket in search of the miracle moniker that may beat the odds. In 2018, you may choose to go up on a Tuesday.

Tuesday DerMargosian is in no way a shoo-in to advance, but the Texas Longhorns softball outfielder is familiar with long odds. “I'm kind of a miracle baby,” she told Texas Sports.com

Before she was born, doctors told DerMargosian's parents she was likely to have spina bifida. “I wasn't supposed to live past a week of being born, and my Mom didn't want to get attached to me, so she said ‘whatever day she's born that's going to be her name.’ And I just so happened to be born on a Tuesday.” 

(Name of the Year fact checkers continue to investigate the involvement of Addams Family fandom in her naming.)

In a segment on ESPN, DerMargosian described her name as perfect because “it’s super unique. And that’s my personality: unique.” Those who know DerMargosian—parents, coaches, even herself—describe her as personable and goofy. Perhaps always fighting the odds has taught her to have fun while doing so.

A three-sport high-school athlete, DerMargosian batted .301 last season as a freshman at Texas last year. But while her athletic stock may be soaring, she's gonna need to beat some more odds in NOTY. The 15-seed in the Chrotchtangle, DerMargosian's first opponent is the No. 2 seed, Canadian footballer Shaka Licorish. Like his opponent's, Licorish's name has been noted by local media. It’s a classic matchup: two jocks, Canada and Texas, football and softball, overdog and under.

There’s plenty more intrigue in the region. California doctor and top seed Narwhals Mating looms a giant of the deep. If Licorish isn't to your taste, then maybe seven-seed Lucas Chalupa or 16-seed Clinton Bacon. Need scriptural mojo? Pray for aptly named 11-seed Hallelujah Lulie to undo aptly placed six-seed Sixto Cancel. If your lean toward Middle Earth, five-seed Rev. Hobbit Forrest hopes to make second breakfast out his opponent, while 10-seed Gandalf Hernandez plots to arrive in the next round neither late nor early but precisely when he means to.

Vote below, and remember to follow us on Twitter.


#1 Dr. Narwhals Mating, Californian doctor, vs. #16 Clinton Bacon, twentieth century light heavyweight boxer

#8 Bramble Klipple, Senior Director of Philanthropy at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Scottish fiddle enthusiast, vs. #9 Mahogany Loggins, suspect in robbery of Minnesotan Kohl’s

#5 Rev. Hobbit Forrest, Prayer Team Director at the Center for Spiritual Living in Florida, vs. #12 Genuine Potts, Chattanooga Mocs wide receiver

#4 Beau Titsworth, Oklahoma Sooner golfer, vs. #13 Palestine Ace, former Bank of America senior vice president indicted for conspiracy to commit bank and wire fraud

#6 Sixto Cancel, CEO of “Think of Us,” a mobile life-coaching platform assisting foster youth in transitioning to adulthood, vs. #11 Hallelujah Lulie, Researcher of Conflict Prevention and Risk Analysis Division for the Institute for Security Studies in Addis Ababa

#3 Dr. Taekwondo Byrd, Colorado internist, vs. #14 Bucky Worboys, General Manager of duPont REGISTRY, a classified advertisement platform specializing in luxury cars, real estate, and yachts

#7 Lukas Chalupa, Czech hockey player, vs. #10 Gandalf Hernandez, former VP of Product Engineering at Mertech Data Systems

#2 Shaka Licorish vs. #15 Tuesday DerMargosian