Friday, June 29, 2007

Name of the Week: Elrazor Sharp v. Treazure R. Johnson

Convicted rapist Free-King Afrika blew the bard out of Othello Cheeks to win Name of the Week Week 9. In Week 10, an Elrazor goes near a Johnson. Careful!

Elrazor Sharp: He's a running back at Malone College of the Mid-States Football Association, an NAIA school in Canton, Ohio, home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. We hadn't heard of it either.

At 5-10, 260, Elrazor isn’t built like a slasher. But the beef has never slowed him down, as he carved single-season team records for touchdowns (20) and points scored (120) at Minnesota West Community and Technical College before making the big leap to Malone.

He may have enrolled just to be in the company of other great names. Elrazor plays alongside the likes of Justin Jump, Shelby Santizo, Anthony Body, Kyle Slutz and the fearsome Kapostasy brothers, defensive back Cody and linebacker Kevin.

We love the El. Did his parents think ``Razor’’ alone wouldn’t be distinctive enough? Did they fear it might be too clich├ęd even for NOTY? Were they friends of the family of Antwaan Randle El? Did they want to ensure their son a place alongside minor-league baseball name legend Razor Shines? Did they consider Elknife, Eltack or any of the sharp scales?

(Thanks to NOTY reader Amy.)

Treazure R. Johnson: It was big news in the legal world a couple years back when the one-name Washington, D.C. firm Venable LLP made a hire to grow its securities litigation and white-collar defense practices. As one of the venerable Venables put it:

``Treazure Johnson brings a formidable set of trial, enforcement and investigative credentials to our practice. ... Having led a number of high-profile prosecutions, Treazure adds major value to our securities litigation, white-collar defense and corporate governance work, all of which are critical to the firm.''

Treazure also brings a formidable name and major value to NOTY. Like her opponent this week, she's got an off-the-hook first name with a delectable spelling twist. Of course, we wonder what was wrong with the conventional spelling. As if Treasure wouldn't have been different enough? What were the Johnsons going for? A play on the color azure? NOTY immortality? (For the record, we envision a day when NOTY plays a role in baby-naming conversations everywhere.)

Treazure Johnson. It's a command! OK! The middle initial is a helpful reminder. We will treasure ours! An Asian middle name like ``Mai''—who doesn't love that video-game hottie—would have been overkill.

At the Securities and Exchange Commission’s enforcement division, Treazure was part of a team that successfully prosecuted Sunbeam Corp. and its chief, ``Chainsaw’’ Al Dunlap. She could be just the lawyer to help us unravel the greatest unsolved crime in NOTY history: the perfectly executed hoax that led to the election of Mummenschontz Bitterbeetle and Licentious Beastie as the 1994 and 1999 NsOTY and then to the Hall of Name—and finally to their banishment last year. (Separate post to follow someday soon.)

Who Is the Name of the Week?
Elrazor Sharp
Treazure R. Johnson free polls

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

You Talkin' To Me? Well, I'm the Only One Here.

When NOTY reader Luke Halpert, a young New York sports blogger and regular Deadspin commenter with the handle Cooler Than Warm Milk, emailed us the name Jean-Pierre Pierre, we weren’t impressed. Cute, but in a brave new world populated by the likes of Reprobatus Bibbs, Dominitrix Johnson and Destiny Frankenstein it’s going to take a lot more than a Haitian double Pierre to get on the NOTY ballot. But Luke included a link, and we clicked through, and it was a photo that he had savvily shot with us in mind, and our hearts took a bumpy ride down the potholed streets of the city that never sleeps.

When we hop into a New York City taxicab, we do two things. We tell the driver our destination and we look at his hack’s license, not necessarily in that order. Because there is no bigger smile than glancing through the bulletproof plexiglass and seeing a quality name.

We asked NOTY Committee Member TFH to describe how he felt when he saw below the photo of his cabbie of African descent the words


which at the time, when the cabbie's last name appeared atop the first, translated to Excellent Raymond:

The feeling could be described as that of a card player after being dealt a straight flush. Or going through a bin of old LPs at a garage sale, seeing the typical Rush and Laura Nyro records you've seen in a thousand other bins, when suddenly the Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose album you've been looking for since 1982 appears.

Beautifully said. From Marty Scorcese’s Taxi Driver to Tony Danza, Danny DeVito, Marilu Henner, Andy Kaufman and Judd Hirsch’s ``Taxi!,’’ the New York cabbie has been a symbol: of fear, anger, striving, rage, silently suffering obnoxious asshole fares, reckless driving and the occasional autoerotic act. In his review of Taxi! A Social History of the New York City Cabdriver, ur New Yorker Pete Hamill called the yellow-cab hack ``the most enduring oppressed minority in New York City history.’’

We couldn’t agree more. Which is why we’ve always given the cabbie a good tip, and his onomastic due. NOTY and the modern cabbie grew up together in the 1990s. In the couple of decades before, the American-born, Brooklyn-accented, weakly named Jewish and Irish driver’s-seat raconteurs were gradually replaced by a new generation of immigrant dreamers from Haiti, Senegal, Nigeria, Russia and Pakistan, many with serious NOTY chops.

Excellent Raymond has been by far our biggest taxicab score. For TFH, it holds the where-were-you-when power of the Kennedy assassination or the first lunar landing. ``It was 5:30 AM,'' he writes, ``and I hailed the cab on West 89th Street b/t CPW and Columbus. I was going to Lower Broadway to shoot the victory parade from the first Iraq War.’’ (Editor’s note: We don’t think he’ll have to endure that assignment again.) Soon after, Excellent Raymond—you can’t say one without the other—was elected the 1992 NOTY and then joined the inaugural class of the Hall of Name.

Naturally, other NYC cabbies have been nominated, too. There was Muhammad Muhammad. Diogenes Lopez. Innocent Adimeili. The appropriately named Hermon Hackshaw. And now Jean-Pierre Pierre.

Luke aka Cooler Than Warm Milk was cabbing it home from a Chinese restaurant near the Maritime Hotel in Chelsea when he realized who was driving. He was ``thinking that this was one of the great names of all time and about halfway through the cab ride I realized I should send this to you guys.'' For which we are eternally grateful.

That we don't love Pierre squared as much as Luke loves him is beside the point. What matters is the thrill Luke was lucky enought to experience. Because, sure, we could comb the New York City Taxi & Limousine Commission's registry of drivers. But nothing compares with the full-body frisson of a chance encounter in the back of a cab.

(Top photo courtesy of New York Hack, the blog of cabbie Melissa Plaut, author of the forthcoming Hack: How I Stopped Worrying About What to Do with My Life and Started Driving a Yellow Cab.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

`Fo’ Shizzle My Nizzle’ Should Work, Too

This just in to the NOTY Action News Room:

WELLINGTON, New Zealand—New Zealand authorities have blocked a couple's bid to officially name their new son "4real," saying numerals are not allowed.

Pat and Sheena Wheaton said they decided to name their new baby "4real" shortly after having an ultrasound and being struck by the reality of his impending arrival.

We’re hoping that New Zealand's Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages comes to its senses and validates Baby 4Real. In case it doesn’t, the sheep-loving staff at Kissing Suzy Kolber took time off from hanging out with Michael Vick, tapping Roger Goodell’s phone, and very, very ably managing the Sarah Shahi fan club to brainstorm some solutions for the happy couple. Then they emailed them to us.

Phawreel (if it's a girl)
Pho Real (if of Vietnamese descent)
Fo Real

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Name of the Week: Free-King Afrika v. Othello Cheeks

After a brief early-summer hiatus, the NOTY Committee is tanned, rested and ready. When we last convened, Jeopardy! loser Tigger Jourard nipped Quebec hooper Manix Auriantal in an all-Canadian Name of the Week Week 8. This week, an all-courtroom NOTW.

Free-King Afrika: Back in 1985, a judge in New York state dropped 10 to 20 on one James Jenkins, AKA James Davis, for rape and sexual assault. Like other prisoners before him, he apparently decided to turn his life around. Not by finding God or keeping his nose clean. He set his sights higher still.

He set his sights on Name of the Year.

Yes, James Jenkins AKA James Davis changed his name in the joint. To Free-King Afrika.

Let’s try to parse the meaning. Is James Jenkins AKA James Davis saying he is the king of a free Africa? That Africa isn’t free? That the king of Africa should be freed? Is he speaking colloquially, and disrespectfully, about ``freaking Africa?'' Or is he perhaps alluding to one of the proposed origins of the name ``Africa,'' that it derives from the Greek word phrike, meaning ``cold and horror,'' and the prefix a-, or ``without''? Is Free-King Afrika saying he is now without horror?

To quote Little Carmine, this name is one mellifluous box. Free-King Afrika reminds us of former Philadelphia 76er World B. Free (above). Then you’ve got some Bernard King (right). And Bernard’s little brother, Albert King. You probably even have some Jimmy King from the Fab Five.

But wait, there’s more. You’ve got geography—an entire continent! (below)—and there’s nothing the NOTY Committee loves more than a little geography. Just ask L.A. St. Louis and Paris London, who finished one-two in the 1998 NOTY Tournament. Free-King recalls some classic NOTY nominees, like MOVE survivor Birdie Africa and African Grant.

Free-King Afrika also raises the time-tested malletheaded debate: Is a legally changed name a name by NOTY standards? The courts have ruled yes, and the precedent has come to be known as the Dragonwagon Doctrine, after beloved 1993 NOTY winner Crescent Dragonwagon. (It's also known in some quarters as the Thunderpussy Doctrine, but that’s a case we’ve yet to discuss.)

And we also have to wonder: Was underachieving James Jenkins AKA James Davis inspired to change his name by NOTY cellmates like Conceptualization Gibbs, 2007 NOTY No. 1 seed Intelligent Infinite Botts and the great Assumption Bulltron, who also was jailed in 1985? (Coincidence? We think not.)

We’ll probably never know. Because we've seen Mr. Afrika's picture. And we’ve inspected his record. And we've noted that he used a ``firearm'' and a ``knife/cutting instrument'' in the assault. And he was released in December. So we ain’t askin’.

Othello Cheeks: If there’s one guy with the stones to ask Free-King what inspired his name change, it just might be this week's other nominee. Othello is also in the legal system, but not for offing Desdemona. Our guy is the plaintiff in a lawsuit filed last week against New York City.

Like Free-King, Othello has game. In addition to the old candy-eating, rock-swiping, anthem-singing Sixers point guard Maurice Cheeks, our man also channels Othella Harrington and Ralph Sampson’s old running-mate, Othell Wilson, not to mention Ohio State’s own Othello Hunter, an NCAA NOTY favorite this spring .

Better still, our moor’s lawsuit arises under the civil rights law known as “Section 1983.” Perfectly sensible, since Cheeks, Doc, Toney and Moses led the 1983 Sixers to a 65-17 record and a Whiz-with-onions sweep of the Lakers in the finals.

(Thanks to NOTY readers Carolina and Ned.)

Who Is the Name of the Week?
Free-King Afrika
Othello Cheeks free polls

Friday, June 8, 2007

It Was Either That or `Moby'

Yes, it arrived via an NOTY fan, via a chain email, already doctored. But you, dear reader, demand verification, and we supply it.

Charley Willard Horse Dick appears to have indeed been born to Dacia Tonasket and Brian Dick at Holy Family Hospital in Spokane, Wash., on May 2, 2006.

We're a bit late, but happy first birthday, big fella.

(Thanks to NOTY reader Geoffrey.)

Monday, June 4, 2007

Name of the Week: Tigger Jourard v. Manix Auriantal

Candy Graham withstood the test of time and popped Rocky Cherry to win Name of the Week Week 7. This week, we're celebrating Victoria Day a bit late and Canada Day a bit early—not to mention the appearance of an ice-skating team from somewhere up there in the Stanley Cup finals—with this once-in-a-lifetime NOTW match-up of northern friends. So strap on your CCM's with the Tuuk blades, talk your way past the U.S. border guards despite your TB, and pick your favorite Canuck.

Tigger Jourard: The wonderful thing about Canadian No. 1 is that she got to be on Jeopardy! last month. The sad thing is that we don't have a transcript from the show to see whether her chat with Alex Trebek went anything like this:

AT: Our next contestant is a faculty administrative assistant at the University of Western Ontario. Please welcome Tigger Jourard!


AT: So, Tigger, you're an adult, correct?

TJ: Yes, Alex.

AT: Then why do you allow yourself to be called by the name of the bouncy, orange, striped character introduced in Chapter 2, ``In Which Tigger Comes to the Forest and Has Breakfast,'' of
The House at Pooh Corner, A.A. Milne's lovable 1928 classic about Christopher Robin and the adorable gang from the Hundred Acre Wood?


AT: Our next contestant is...

We can't find any explanation on the World Wide Highway for Tigger-the-trivia-whiz's name. But we're sure there's an endearing tale about the parents' love of all things Milne. Fitting, then, that their daughter grew up to be as clever as clever.

Well, almost as clever as clever. Tigger busted out in Final Jeopardy! on this question:

The largest art theft in U.S. history was at 1:24 a.m. on this date in 1990, while Boston slumbered after partying.

We had no idea either. Until we considered the city.

Manix Auriantal: Canadian No. 2 is a 6-2 guard for the Quebec Kebekwa of the American Basketball Association, the league that starts every season with 437 teams and ends with 12. Yes, the Quebec Kebekwa. That would be a phonetic spelling of Quebecois, or Quebeckers in English. Sort of. We think. We have learned, and are disappointed to report, that the loser of a name-the-team contest was the Jumping Frogs.

Manix played for NCAA Division II New York Institute of Technology, the Ulriken Eagles in Norway, and the Montreal Royal/Montreal Matrix of the ABA, and was cut from the Canadian national team. He was a 2006 ABA All-Star along with—we shit you not—former NBA player Armen (Armon) Gilliam, who's almost as old as we are, and none other than 2007 Homophobe of the Year Tim Hardaway.

We love Manix because he's old school. Most of you kids are too young to remember the cult detective show that we really, really hope is responsible for Manix's first name. We can only imagine how the concept pitch would be received in Hollywood today:

Armenian-American gumshoe. Regular guy. So regular his name is Joe. Joe Mannix. Fought in Korea. Bigtime PTSD. Army buddies want to kill him. Drives a big American-made convertible. And here's the clincher: He uses a lot of Armenian proverbs in conversation.

But enough about Mannix. Back to Manix. His family is from Haiti. Two of his three college-basketball-playing brothers are named Hennssy, who played for Wisconsin, and Rodwins, who preceded Manix at NYIT. (Sadly, the eldest is named Ralph.) Together, the Auriantals have been dubbed Quebec's ``first family of hoops.''

We're thinking of them as the first family of NOTY.

(Thanks to NOTY readers Mark and Michael.)

Who Is the Name of the Week?
Tigger Jourard
Manix Auriantal free polls