Friday, March 27, 2015

2015 Name of the Year: Sithole Regional, Round One

We need to talk about Dr. Electron Kebebew.

Our fascination with the atomically-named doc began when a reader sent us a simple e-mail message: “Electron Kebebew. I let this guy cut me open.”

We discovered this was no joke: After years of surgical training, Dr. Kebebew now leads the NIH program in Endocrine Oncology and has quite possibly saved the life of at least one NOTY fan. Thanks to his atomic first name and his onomatopoeic surname that sounds like someone firing a phaser, Dr. K is the perfect candidate to follow in Dr. Loki Skylizard and Dr. Suparman Marzuki’s footsteps as the latest #1 seed bolstered by his PhD.

Dr. Kebebew entered the world with a Big Bang. His father, an Ethiopean electrical engineer, worried that his children would not follow in his footsteps as people of science. To make their career paths clear from birth, he named them after subatomic particles (or, for any physicist fans, strings simultaneously vibrating in 11 dimensions): Proton, Neutron, Deutron, Electron, and Electron’s anti-matter doppelgänger, Positron. If the Kebebew family had included any more children, we can only assume they would've been named Lepton, Hadron, and Quark.

While many NOTY nominees may have faced years of torment at the hands of schoolchildren before assuming their places in our celebratory tournament, Electron has repelled negativity and embraced his identity. In a 2007 interview, he said "When you have a name like Electron, people notice you, and they have expectations of you…But by and large, as I think back on my life, my name has been a positive influence."

People also notice you if, like Dr. Electron, you are pulling down serious cash. In 2011, a report by the questionably named WikiORGCharts published the 1000 highest paid US government salaries. After President Obama, the highest paid civil servant in the land was none other than Dr. Electron Kebebew. The news swept through trade publications, the Big Government Hatin’, Freedom Loving Patriot Press  and even made it’ way to the road-raging id of the internet, bodybuilding forums. Only down at the depths of the forums did anyone seem to take notice that, on top of being a physician, our highest paid non-elected official has a name worthy of the Hall of Name.

Will Electron complete a run through our field of 64? His journey, along with 15 others, begins today. Vote below, and stay in touch on Twitter.

#1 Dr. Electron Kebebew, NIH oncologist, vs. #16 Hunter Jumper, former MLS player.

#8 Dr. Jocko Zifferblatt, frostbite expert, vs. #9 Manmeet Colon, a detective in New Haven.

#5 Erhard Thumfart, whose wife sued the city of New Orleans, vs. #12 Flavious Coffee of Zimbabwe.

#4 Chito Schnupp, an executive at American Pacific Mortgage, vs. #13 Joko Widodo, the current President of Indonesia.

#6 Dallas Ennema, basketball player for the University of Albany, vs. #11 Bol Bol, the son of NBA legend Manute Bol.

#3 Lancelot Supersad Jr., whose mugshot made its way around the Internet, vs. #14 LaAdrian Waddle, offensive tackle for the Detroit Lions.

#7 Baba Blumkin, owner of a "high-end pawn shop," vs. #10 Jazzi Barnum-Bobb, footballer for Cardiff City in the UK.

#2 Jazznique St. Junious, employee at a Wisconsin fast food restaurant, vs. #15 Fellony Silas, who, yes, was accused of a felony.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

2015 Name of the Year: Bulltron Regional, Round One

We begin, as always, in the Bulltron, where this year's top seeds come from disparate backgrounds. The top contender, Cherries Waffles Tennis, is a young woman from Florida. The two-seed, Fra Pierbattista Pizzaballa, is a high-ranking member of the Franciscan order. It's Catholics vs. Convicts part two.

Cherries was arrested in 2014 for "allegedly making fraudulent purchases at surf shops in Jupiter, Florida," according to The Huffington Post. Her plural noun-heavy handle is hard to believe, which will lead many skeptics to wonder if Cherries Waffles Tennis is indeed her birth name. We think so. At the time of her arrest, Cherries was 19, just one year above the minimum age at which Americans can apply for a name change. If Cherries did adopt her unique moniker under her own volition, she did not waste any time, and if that is the case, we can only assume she told the judge the first three words that popped into her head, just to get the process over with as quickly as possible.

Father Pizzaballa, on the other hand, is one of several Italian Pizzaballas. As the Custodian of the Holy Land, he is the Franciscan order's primary representative in the Middle East. Among other duties, he is responsible for supporting Christian residents within the Holy Land and overseeing the many Christian shrines in the area. If you need further evidence of the power of Father Pizzaballa's position, consider his boss: Pope Francis himself.

These two figures, separated by more than just an ocean, will surely never meet in person. In the Bulltron, though, they are gearing up for a monster showdown. In this way, NOTY is the great equalizer. It does not matter if you are an alleged criminal or an esteemed man of God. In the Arena of Name, all are welcome.

That statement also applies to the other 14 names in the Bulltron, and both Cherries and Father Pizzaballa will be tested right from the opening bell. It's up to you to decide: Will chalk rain supreme, leading to a much-hyped culinary matchup in the Elite Eight? Or will upsets derail our precious seeding? The first eight matchups of the 2015 Name of the Year tournament await your votes.


#1 Cherries Waffles Tennis, aforementioned Florida woman, vs. #16 Dent McSkimming, the only American sportswriter to attend the 1950 World Cup.

#8 Pleasant Crump, the last verified veteran of the American Civil War, vs. #9 Sunshine Crump, an Arkansas reporter who resigned after conflict with the local police chief.

#5 Omar Hurricane, a physicist who researches nuclear fusion, vs. #12 Kermit Carolina, a high school principal in Connecticut.

#4 Forrestina Calf Boss Ribs, a Montana politician who goes by "Frosty," vs. #13 Charity Sunshine Tillemann-Dicka singer, a TED talker, and the recipient of a double lung transplant.

#6 I Made Mangku Pastikathe Governor of Bali, vs. #11 Andromeda Dunker, voiceover narrator for House Hunters.

#3 Understanding Bush, of Brooklyn, vs. #14 Blundy Vildora football player who went to MidAmerica Nazarene University in Olathe, Kansas.

#7 Swindly Lint, a baseball player, vs. #10 Tacko Fall, a 7'6" high school basketball standout.

#2 Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Custodian of the Holy Land, vs. #15 Lourawls Nairn, Jr., a Michigan State basketball player who goes by the nickname "Tum Tum."

Vote, share, and follow us on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Presenting the 2015 Name of the Year Bracket: The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Fantastic names are going mainstream. Writers for SB NationInside Lacrosse, and other publications have applied our concept—now 33 years old, in the prime of its life—to their specific beats. Key and Peele shared our love of D'Brickashaw Ferguson (a NOTY nominee in 2006) and Frostee Rucker (2013) with millions of YouTube viewers. Heck, even the NFL's official media outlet devoted some pixels to the wonders of Equanimeous St. Brown (2014). For those of us who peddle names, these are exciting times.

This is the perfect environment for a new Name of the Year bracket, and sure enough, we're back. Yes, as in previous years, we're arriving fashionably late to the party, but NOTY is built on tradition, and at this point, our deference toward the usual rigid schedule of novelty March Madness brackets is part of who we are. We may have failed to arrive in time for Georgetown's yearly spinout, but we're here, and we've come bearing gifts.

That's what this year's bracket feels like: a gift. Finding 64 fresh, exciting new names always seems an impossible task at first, but thanks in large part to your email submissions, we have again (back pat) managed to assemble a tremendous slate. A man with Miraculous Powers will battle a nemesis made of Silver Bronzo. Dr. Jocko Zifferblatt will inspect a Manmeet Colon. A Raven will rap on the chamber door of a man named Handsome Monica. Crump will do battle with Crump. And those are just the 8-9 matchups.

Indeed, NOTY is the gift that keeps on giving. As long as parents continue to bless their children with names like Electron, Mussolini, and Jazznique, our field will remain strong enough to keep up with the accelerating recognition of onomastic pursuits.

You are invited to join us as we embark on our annual paean to wonderful names. Voting will commence shortly, so pull on your Dr. Data Longjohns, don your Kapri Bibbs, and pick the Swindly Lint out of your bellybutton, because it's time to begin weighing the relative merits of Omar Hurricane and Kermit Carolina, of Forrestina Calf Boss-Ribs and Charity Sunshine Tilleman-Dick, and of the 30 other matching pairs who will constitute our first round.

We'll begin, as always, with the Bulltron Regional before moving onto the Sithole, the Dragonwagon, and the Chrotchtangle. How long will it take? However long it needs to take. 

So print out a bracket, spread the word (we’ll be Tweeting @NOTYtourney), and return here regularly to vote on the round-by-round matchups. Without further ado, here is your 2015 Name of the Year bracket:

Click here for a larger version.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Your (and our) 2014 Name of the Year

Shamus Beaglehole is the 2014 Name of the Year. Here's to you, Shamus.

Let's recap the Chesterfield footballer's meteoric rise through the Sithole regional and beyond. He breezed past Wubbo Ockels in the first round of the tourney. He stomped Jazzmar Clax in the second. Sweet Sixteen: Diesel Daigle went down hard. All fine and good -- seeded at #3, all these wins were to be expected.

But the next two matches put Mr. Beaglehole on the map as a kingslayer. The Sithole final pitted him against top-seeded Dr. Loki Skylizard, whom he dispatched by a margin of 300 votes. Next came another one seed, Bulltron champ Curvaceous Bass, who also fell to Shamus. After running this gauntlet, the final round against Chrotchtangle upstart Chillie Poon was child's play. If David took out two Goliaths, he might be this impressive.

Some of you singled out Beaglehole as a winner from the very beginning. Others grumbled in the comments throughout the tournament about the injustices wrought by misguided voters. To this we say: good. It means you care about this entirely frivolous venture as much as we do, which warms the cockles of the High Committee's hearts. 

As an answer to those grumbles and to our own, we have a mechanism for compensating for the mistakes of the hoi polloi -- every year, the NOTY High Committee picks its own winner, and both the People's Champion and the Committee's favorite go down on the books. This is necessary in cases like 2010, in which the people unconscionably sent fellow soccer star Steele Sidebottom to the top -- passing over the sublime Nohjay Nimpson, who the High C saw fit to canonize. Other times, the people and the High Committee achieve concordance: 2011 saw Dr. Taco B.M. Monster claim the hearts and minds of everyone who glanced at a bracket that year.

So without further ado, our pick for the 2014 Name of the Year is... also Shamus Beaglehole! By a landslide, actually, which is really going to cheese off his detractors among the commentariat, but there's really nothing more you can ask of that name. Our full scoreboard is below. 
  1. Shamus Beaglehole 33 points (3 first-place votes)
  2. Dr. Eve Gruntfest 21 (1)
  3. Alkapone Cruz-Balles 20 (2)
  4. Chubacca Hung 18 (2)
  5. Dr. Loki Skylizard 15 (1)
  6. Karhonda Porcha 14 (1)
  7. Curvaceous Bass 13 (1)
  8. Genghis Cohen 11 (1)
  9. Chillie Poon 9 (1)
  10. Shitavious Cook 9
  11. Fazwaz Wazwaz 8 (1)
That concludes this year's silliness. It's been fun. Thanks to everyone for reading, voting, nominating and commenting. Keep the nominations coming at so we can keep this train rolling.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Name of the Year 2014 Final: Shamus Beaglehole vs. Chillie Poon

(There are few more hours left to vote in the Name of the Year final, which is live over at Deadspin.)
This is it. This is the showdown we've waited an entire year for (OK, more like five months). In one corner, we have Shamus Beaglehole: English footballer, #3 seed of the Sithole Regional, vanquisher of Curvaceous Bass and Dr. Loki Skylizard, and bearer of a last name that sounds like an old man's curmudgeonly insult. Make sure to say his name out loud, and preferably in as stereotypical a British accent as you can muster, before deciding on his fate.
In the other corner is Chillie Poon, a former Hong Kong beauty-pageant contestant. The Chrotchtangle Regional's #10 seed is the champion of the sophomoric lobby and one of the simplest punchlines in the bracket. We've made it pretty clear how we feel about Chillie, but on the eve of her title assault, I will pose just one question: Can she really be this year's champion if she might not even be the greatest Poon in Name of the Year history?
The answer is up to the voters. It's been a pleasure sharing our love of names with you, and aside from a few snafus, we've enjoyed every bit of it. We'll be back one last time next week, when we will announce both your winner and our own High Committee champion. Until then:
Name of the Year Final: #3 Shamus Beaglehole vs. #10 Chillie Poon

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Final Four

We're nearing the summit of this year's tourney. The venerable spirits of Assumption Bulltron, Godfrey Sithole, Crescent Dragonwagon, and Doby Chrotchtangle have each found favor with a champion. These four, this exalted sixteenth of the starting field, are all that remain as our competition enters its final stages. One will emerge as the 2014 Name of the Year.

Top-seeded Curvaceous Bass -- whose surname is pronounced like the fish, according to a commenter -- won the right to represent Bulltron when she defeated upstart ten seed Dequarium Lumpkin. We figured she was a champ from the get-go, but we think that about all our high-seeded names, and the Bulltron was the only regional to go chalk this year. 

The Sithole regional saw the surprising defeat of the titanic Dr. Loki Skylizard, who we identified from the beginning as a possible tournament frontrunner. His conqueror: #3 Shamus Beaglehole of the Chesterfield F.C. youth team. Can Beaglehole take down another one seed? 

Dr. Eve Gruntfest will be representing the Dragonwagon regional. The two seed, a flash flood researcher who shares her name with a heavy metal benefit concert, dropped #9 Equanimeous St. Brown to claim the regional title. 

Finally, in the Chrotchtangle's nail-biting final, Miss Hong Kong runner-up Chillie Poon edged out nine seed Shitavious Cook by a margin of only 60 votes -- which is exciting, to be sure, and a #10 in the Final Four is usually the kind of narrative you root for, but she's a ten seed for a reason. This year's Chrotch was stacked, and we hoped a name with less juvenile appeal would rise to the top. (In retrospect, what were we thinking? This is the internet.)

Bass or Beaglehole? Gruntfest or Poon? Vote here.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Name Of The Year 2014: The Elite Eight

[Cross-posted from Deadspin. Go there to vote! And quickly; there's not much time left.]
We're down to just eight splendid name-inees, and we're happy to see each one of them picking up their own fan groups. The comments section has provided a thorough analysis to complement our own, and we hope to see more nuggets of brilliance as we approach the Final Four.
At this point, voters know everything they need to know about the remaining competitors, so I'll use this space to pull back the curtain and reveal how your NOTY sausage is made.
This year, we started with more than 600 names culled from our Name of the Year email account. We were able to eliminate most of those names on first pass, since the majority of suggestions are too sophomoric, too hard to verify, or not quite wonderful enough.
Our criteria take care of the rest of the pretenders. Any name previously considered for Name of the Year is immediately eliminated, which takes care of the perennial submission of 2009 Name of the Year champion Barkevious Mingo. If not for this rule, we suspect the people would vote Mingo to a Wooden-Era-UCLA-level run of dominance.
Nicknames are out, too. We would've loved to include college football players like Munchie LegauxSqually Canada, and the particularly popular Ha-Ha Clinton Dix, but their respective real names of Benton, Bryant, and Ha'Sean are deal-breakers.
There are lots of great names in movies, too, but the area between real names and stage names is cloudy, and in the interest of integrity, we held back on the likes of Bambi SickafooseRusty Jedwab, and Bewberly Papa.
The final hurdle is public presence. If a name can only be found on social media or online databases, we tend to call its veracity into question—not to mention its bearer's right to privacy.
Those standards usually get us pretty close to 65, but the final step involves a few agonizing cuts in order to shrink down to exactly that number. Getting rid of those bubble names is the hardest part, but we take on the responsibility for the good of namekind.
The names that can sift through these filters earn a place in our field, at which point we turn over the work to you. Without further ado:
Bulltron Final: #1 Curvaceous Bass vs. #10 DeQuarium Lumpkin
Sithole Final: #1 Dr. Loki Skylizard vs. #3 Shamus Beaglehole

Dragonwagon Final: #9 Equanimeous St. Brown vs. #2 Eve Gruntfest

Chrotchtangle Final: #9 Shitavious Cook vs. #10 Chillie Poon 

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The Sweet Sixteen

[Cross-posted at Deadspin.]

We had a polling malfunction last week; the Bulltron and Sithole polls inexplicably closed early. Our bad, and thanks for letting us know on Twitter so we could re-open them; we might not have caught the error otherwise.

Rejoice: the Sweet Sixteen is upon us, and so far it's been quite a ride. Almost half of our remaining contestants are seeded ninth or lower, and many of our mightiest -- including two top seeds! -- have fallen. Bufus Dewberry is gone. Alkapone Cruz-Balles and Bullabeck Ringblong, too. I'm still a little salty about Dr. Diddo Diddens going down. Rest in peace, D-man.

I can't complain too much, though, because Diddens' conqueror Chubacca Hung encapsulates one of the reasons I love Name of the Year as much as I do – it’s about the stories. You've already heard one of this year's best in the post about Sithole powerhouse Dr. Loki Skylizard, who picked his own name at age 9 or so and has worn it through his career as a thoracic surgeon.

Chubacca's story goes beyond one name. She came to our attention via a 2004 article in the South China Morning Post about Hong Kongers who were "turning from mundane monikers to colourful handles such as Hillbilly, Rainbow, Onion, and Chlorophyll." The trend is right up our alley, and continues to this day: a friend who teaches in Hong Kong tells me that he's had students named Chicken and Kungfu. In addition to being full of excellent names, the article is insightful and well worth a read:

"It reveals something about how Hong Kong's young people see their identity,' [sociologist Annie Chan Hau-nung] says. 'They don't identify themselves 100 per cent with the English-naming western tradition, and they don't identify completely with the Chinese tradition. There's this space in between where they can be independent from tradition and construct their own identity. That might be something unique, given the special social, political and historical context of Hong Kong.'"

All English words are potential names. Their meanings are preserved, given the prevalence of English in Hong Kong, but the context is utterly different. Often, words are chosen as names largely for what they are at their most basic level: a combination of letters, syllables, sounds. "'I've never come across another Chubacca,' Hung says. 'It's special.'" Indeed. And actually quite mellifluous, if you haven't been conditioned since age 5 or so to equate it with a 7-foot-tall hair monster. Or maybe, given worldwide familiarity with rainbows, onions, and Star Wars, Hong Kongers are simply more welcoming of names with other meanings. Maybe the use of a familiar but non-native language defuses any self-consciousness that would otherwise surround those meanings. Any way you cut it, this sort of thing fascinates us at NOTY HQ.

Anyway. I could go on longer, but you're here for the voting section: where Daigle battles Beaglehole, where Many Fingers meets Poon. May the best names win. Voting over at Deadspin ends tomorrow at 5 o'clock Eastern; see you on the flip side.

#1 Curvaceous Bass vs. #5 Chubacca Hung
#10 DeQuarium Lumpkin vs. #11 Erby Ferby

#1 Dr. Loki Skylizard vs. #12 Orion Creamer
#3 Shamus Beaglehole vs. #10 Diesel Daigle

#9 Equanimeous St. Brown vs. #4 Bubbles Chwat
#6 Poopa Dweck vs. #2 Dr. Eve Gruntfest

#9 Shitavious Cook vs. #4 Fawaz Wazwaz
#3 Norman Bevis Many Fingers vs. #10 Chillie Poon