Monday, September 30, 2013

Sithole Regional, Round 1: #1 Baby Swinger vs. #16 Sander Van DerLinden, #8 Octavia Sheepshanks vs. #9 Frostee Rucker

baby-swinger-1

We're kicking off the Sithole Regional with a heavy hitter, folks. I feel that any attempt to add commentary to Baby Swinger's name would fall pitifully short. Her name is Baby Swinger.

She's up against Scientific American contributor and Paul Rudd doppelgänger Sander van der Linden, whose name I could read aloud for hours. Seriously, say it: Sander van der Linden. It feels like a bike ride through the foothills of the Alps.

Will Sander's dulcet lingual contours be enough to trump the blunt hilarity of Baby Swinger? Vote!

[polldaddy poll=7434954]

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We've got another 8-v.-9 nailbiter rounding out today's ticket. The ontological status of Cambridge University online columnist Octavia Sheepshanks has already been the subject of some subterfuge and confusion. The Independent got the final word on the subject, wherein Sheepshanks confessed that her final column, in which she exposed her persona as a fraud, was itself a hoax executed as a means of protecting herself from attacks on her character. Whatever.

Her opponent this week is Arizona Cardinals defensive end Frostee Rucker. When he was playing for the Bengals, Frostee and several teammates decided to buy two frozen yogurt franchises as a side business. (The media covered this with a remarkably straight face.)

Frostee explains how his name came to be: "My pop [Len] was a DJ while he was in the military and they called him DJ Frost because they said he was cold on the spins. [They called him] Frost, Frostee all that. No matter what he named me they were going to call me Little Frost anyway, so they named me Frostee."

Rucker or Sheepshanks? Your call!

[polldaddy poll=7435019]

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Sunday, September 29, 2013

Bulltron Regional Round 1 Results

This week:

#1 Pornsak Pongthong predictably crushed #16 Genius Dexter.

In the closest matchup of the round, #8 Bak Bak beat out #9 Jawanza Poland.

#5 Narnia Overall represented her fictional homeland well, easily conquering #12 Quintus Fernando.

#13 Marijuana Warr upset #4 Cheshire Schanker by a healthy margin. We don't think y'all gave Miss Schanker her due, but alas.

#6 Dr. David L. Dickensheets dispatched #11 Arquimedes Caminero more handily than we'd expected.

#3 Skyhawk Fadigan, M.D. defeated #14 Roxanne Stackable, which was inevitable but a little sad. I had higher hopes for Stackable.

#10 Ursula A. Hofacker upset #7 Seventh Woods.

In Bulltron R1's most decisive rout, #2 Yolanda Squatpump tore through #15 Tore A. Torp.

Sithole Regional voting starts tomorrow morning!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bulltron Regional, Round 1: #7 Seventh Woods vs. #10 Ursula A. Hofacker, #2 Yolanda Squatpump vs. #15 Tore A. Torp

Squats

OK, we'll admit that we would have given Seventh Woods a 7-seed even if he belonged in the lower tiers, but the 14-year-old high school basketball star fits nicely in the middle of the field. His name comes from the day when God finished his work. If only he played golf.

In an actual March Madness bracket, Woods would be a lock until meeting fellow baller Bak Bak in the Elite Eight, showily posterizing everyone on the way. But dominance on the court doesn't help one's fortune in the onomastic arena. Woods has to deal with some fierce competition brought by Chemical Experimentation author Ursula A. Hofacker. Like her name, her textbook apparently "leave[s] little to the student's imagination."

Who will prevail: the youngest point guard on Team USA or a chemistry lecturer seasoned by years of surreptitiously sniggering students? YOU decide!

[polldaddy poll=7426274]
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On the other side of the field we have Yolanda Squatpump, Usual Suspects makeup artist and our strongest last-minute addition. It's easy to see how a young mother trying to decide what goes with "Squatpump" would eventually throw up her hands, grit her teeth and go for the gold. However it happened, we're blessed to bask in the knowledge that such a name exists.

She's up against Tore Torp, middle name Andreas, who holds a patent for a "Process and System for Recovering and Storing a Light Hydrocarbon Vapor from Crude Oil." The word "slurry" appears often. Torp shares both name and nationality with Norwegian hockey player and 2011 10-seed Tore Vikingstad, but trades badass for singsong on the surname, giving him a fundamentally different appeal.

Will Tore Torp tear through enough voters' torpor to vanquish the mighty Squatpump? Only time will tell.

[polldaddy poll=7426324]
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With that, we're done laying out the first round of the first region. All voting for Bulltron Round 1 ends Sunday, so make up your mind by then. We'll be back to present the Sithole Regional on Monday; in the meantime, follow @NOTYtourney for sporadic pithy updates.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bulltron Regional, Round 1: #6 Dr. David L. Dickensheets vs. #11 Arquimedes Caminero, #3 Skyhawk Fadigan, M.D. vs. #14 Roxanne Stackable

red-tailed-hawk_681_600x450

ALERT: Staats Battle has been disqualified. Though the NC State guard's name is real and excellent, we recently learned that he had previously been considered by the NOTY High Committee. In the interest of a fresh tournament, he's been removed. In his place, please welcome Roxanne Stackable to the bracket. More on her in a bit.

First, we open up what is shaping up to be of the most grisly bloodbaths of the first round. The 6-seed is Dr. David L. Dickensheets, doctor at the Infectious Disease Services of Georgia. Whether or not his job title enhances the overall gestalt comes down to personal preference, but even if you're not a fan of the Dr. prefix, there's no denying that this man's last name is Dickensheets.

For what it's worth, the Infectious Disease Services of Georgia is located in Cumming, GA.

He's up against Arquimedes Caminero, a rookie reliever for the Miami Marlins and a late addition to our bracket. Arquimedes replaced the recently DQ'd Bacarri Rambo. I admit that as a huge baseball fan, Arquimedes should've been on my radar much earlier. Instead, like most of South Florida, I've only watched about three innings of Marlins baseball this year. At any rate, he is a worthy contender, and not just because of his 4/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio.

So will Dr. David L. Dickensheets survive? Or will Arquimedes Caminero have a 'Eureka!' moment and pull the upset? You can decide in the poll below:

[polldaddy poll=7423775]

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In our second matchup, we're pitting 3-seed Skyhawk Fadigan, M.D. against the aforementioned Roxanne Stackable. She specializes in family practice and is therefore a personal favorite of all children who wish to have a doctor named SkyHawk. Last time I checked, that's all of them.

We can't, however, count out Roxanne Stackable. A cooking enthusiast, Roxanne would fit well into a Name of the Year superhero fanfic. Perhaps she'd make a fierce love interest for our hero, Johnny Moustachewho together with his dependable sidekick Joe Shortsleeve must save the world from his nemesis, uh, Nemesis Vega.

Will Skyhawk soar above Roxanne? Decide in the poll below, and don't forget to follow us on Twitter @NOTYTourney for all updates. The first round of Bulltron Regional voting ends on Sunday.

[polldaddy poll=7423790]

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Bulltron Regional, Round 1: #5 Narnia Overall vs. #12 Quintus Fernando, #4 Cheshire Schanker vs. #13 Marijuana Warr

cheshire-cat-8

Serendipitously, today's matchups both recall classic tales of British kids lost in lands of whimsy. Far beyond the doors of the wardrobe, a centaur named Quintus Fernando charges into battle against the White Witch; Narnia Overall is the slogan on his oriflamme. Later, we'll go down the rabbit hole to find Cheshire Schanker and Marijuana Warr, the cat and the caterpillar. Except, you know, more violent.

Narnia Overall (#5) is the daughter of the author of Why Have Children? Save your money. The answer, obviously, is "so you can give them bodacious names." She's up against Quintus Fernando (#12), a chemist from the University of Arizona and two-time contributor to Waste Management.

[polldaddy poll=7420967]
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Next up, we have Cheshire Schanker, a New York City social worker who's served well by a cascade of consonance. Her opponent is Marijuana Warr, whose name conjures a conflict between Colombian warlords. Can a social worker prevail over drugs? YOU decide!

[polldaddy poll=7421002]
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All Bulltron Regional voting will close at midnight on Sunday. Get 'em in before then.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bulltron Regional, Round 1: #1 Pornsak Pongthong vs. #16 Genius Dexter, #8 Bak Bak vs. #9 Jawanza Poland

chicken

I was considering Sriracha sauce one day (as fans of spicy food often do) when I decided to look it up on Wikipedia to learn of its origins. This search was interrupted by a disambiguation page, which informed me that I might be looking for a Thai soccer team named Sriracha FC. Curious whether the team and the sauce were related, I clicked onward, where after a quick scan of the team's roster I learned that oh my god, there is a Thai soccer player named Pornsak Pongthong.

This hopefully illustrates just how many amazing names are hiding just beyond our sight, waiting to be discovered on lightly-tread Wikipedia articles and obscure research papers and collegiate athletics databases. We're not only excited about the names we've discovered in compiling this field, we're also hopeful about the ones like mighty Pornsak who we'll discover organically when we least expect it. When you have similar encounters, I hope you'll let us know.

With that out of the way, let's move on to this year's contenders. With so many quality names, no matchup is a gimme, not even a 1 vs. 16. In this case, Pornsak's first opponent is Genius Dexter. There's something about the name Dexter that lends itself to greatness -- after all, the two prominent TV characters with the name are both geniuses in their own way. We liked the combo, so we gave this Dexter a chance to beat the best -- or get beaten by him.

[polldaddy poll=7417971]

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Our second matchup of the day is the first of four 8 vs. 9 slugfests. As college basketball fans are aware, the 8-9 games in the NCAA tournament are usually the hardest to predict, with a collection of flashy Horizon League upstarts, toughened middle-of-the-pack Big Ten warriors and relatively unknown Western Athletic Conference champions squaring up for 40 minutes of hotly contested basketball. We hope today's contest is similarly close.

Fittingly, both Bak Bak and Jawanza Poland came on our radar as college basketball players. Bak, who came off the bench for the University of California at Berkeley, is not the only athlete we've encountered whose first name matches his last. Other such contenders include Majok Majok, Shayok Shayok, and Leek Leek. In the interest of variety we decided to include Bak and only Bak; his is the shortest, sweetest and most gallinaceous of the double names.

Also, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, Bak was born during the Sudanese Civil War and is lucky to be alive today. We're glad he made it.

As for Poland, he was a standout at the University of South Florida who briefly gained national attention when he threw down a ferocious dunk in the NCAA Tournament against, coincidentally, Bak's California Golden Bears. If this tournament was decided by athletic ability, Jawanza would no doubt take this matchup, but our measuring stick is a lot more esoteric. His name is a classic combo: bonkers first name, subdued yet interesting last name. There will be a lot of other NOTY contenders who follow this formula.

[polldaddy poll=7417975]
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Does Genius Dexter have the smarts to overcome that pong, thong thong thong thong? And will Bak's invasion of Poland result in a complete takeover? Let us know what you think in the polls.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Some Exciting News, Eleventh Hour Bracket Updates And A Voting Reminder

Friends,

As a reminder, voting for our 2013 Name of the Year tournament will begin Monday morning. We've decided to post two matchups each day to keep the tournament moving right along. Check back tomorrow morning for our first 1 v. 16 mismatch as well as a much-anticipated 8 v. 9 slugfest.

With that out of the way, let's move on to the exciting news: Our humble imitation has been recognized and approved by the original Name of the Year High Committee.

Ever since the thought of a NOTY takeover first crossed our minds, we have spent a lot of time wondering what the founders would think of our blatant thievery. Would they be angry at us for hijacking their brainchild? Or would they admire the degree to which their work has inspired a new generation of name enthusiasts? Would the High Committee be proud, angry, supportive, indifferent, or melancholic?

Last Friday, we got our answer. After sharing news of our bracket with a number of media outlets, we caught the eye (or the inbox, if you will) of one of the founders of Name of the Year, the poster known as "stw" on the original site. To our delight, stw was complimentary about our website, this year's field of names, and "our healthy acknowledgment of NOTY." As life has gotten in the way of our forefathers' ability to sift through a mountainous backlog of e-mail submissions, stw proposed an agreement, offering us the NOTY blog, e-mail address, and Twitter handle so long as we continue to include the original High Committee in whatever role they see fit. We have, in short, been offered the keys to the Porsche after a few days of joyriding. We couldn't be more excited.

As a result, there will be a few changes around here. In the next couple of weeks, all NOTY-related material will be moved to nameoftheyear.com, a currently bare domain owned by the High Committee. That website will include more than a quarter-century's worth of past tournaments as well as all present and future updates from the current and upcoming installments. When the move is completed, the rest of NOTY 2013 will play out in its rightful home. Six months down the line, we hope to also return NOTY to its rightful place in the seasonal cycle. If all goes well, NOTY 2014 will commence in time for March Madness.

We've already dusted off the Twitter account, and we will use it to blast our followers with all pertinent updates. If you're into that sort of stuff, follow us @NOTYtourney.

The last part of stw's gift to us is the one that we have so far cherished the most. By providing us with access to the NOTY e-mail account, he has introduced us to the two years of submissions that have built up since the last tournament. After spending most of the day in name-induced nirvana, we found enough brilliant entries to last us for several years. If you would like to add to this treasure trove, we're always open to suggestions.

We're pulling a few names out of that bag right away. As stw informed us, three of the entries in our 2013 bracket had already been up for consideration during previous tournaments. We had looked through the NOTY archives to check for repeats, but Young Boozer, Nancy Ann Cianci and Bacarri Rambo had all previously been considered and rejected. In addition, a separate source has informed us that Mummy Oh'Scarvalone is a nickname, disqualifying her from the tournament. We have a responsibility to play by the NOTY guidelines, so we have struck these four names from the field. They will be missed.

In their stead come four new competitors: Skyhawk Fadigan, M.D., Twollie Vanderwerf, Arquimedes Caminero and Yolanda Squatpump. The bracket has been updated accordingly.

TL;DR: There'll be some shuffling afoot in the coming weeks. If there's one thing you should take away, it is the reminder that VOTING STARTS TOMORROW. Everything else will fall into place in time.

These are exciting times for Name of the Year. We hope you're as pumped as we are.

Friday, September 20, 2013

A Serious Man

In 1979, a 26-year-old writer of uncommon talent sat under an apple tree, put the barrel of an over/under shotgun into his mouth and pulled the trigger. He had published just twelve stories in his short career, yet they were enough to convince a figure as titanic as Kurt Vonnegut to write the following:

"I give you my word of honor that he is merely the best writer, the most sincere writer I've ever read. What I suspect is that it hurt too much, was no fun at all to be that good. You and I will never know."

The writer in question -- heralded by the greats, stories as unhappy as his end -- was named Breece D'J Pancake.

girl-scratching-dj-on-pancakes

Even devoid of context this is a strong name, at least a 7-seed. Sweet Sixteen material. It recalls and surpasses 2010 13-seed Roy Spancake. It's got the whole package: pleasingly improbable first name, delicious finish, topped off with a creatively-punctuated middle initial situation (reportedly the result of an error in the galleys of his first published story. Name-change sticklers, take heart: dude was born Breece Dexter Pancake, which has plenty to love on its own.)

Let me tell you what it's like to read Breece Pancake's writing from a name collector's point of view.

You'll sit down to a story ("Fox Hunters," say, although no matter which you pick you'll find yourself having to look up the word "berm") and if vivid landscape description is your thing, he'll have you by the end of paragraph #1. If not, you'll continue on and soon encounter dialogue deeply and provocatively tinged with local color -- parsing it requires effort, but there's definite payoff. Eventually you'll find yourself sucked so deeply into the experience of empathizing with Bo, a sixteen-year-old mechanic and the protagonist of "Fox Hunters," that you may put your book down as you remember what it was like to be sixteen and lusty and yearn for a feeling of inclusion in groups of more fully-grown men.

And then you'll look down at the book and giggle a little because you'll see the cover and remember that the man who wrote what you're reading was named Breece D'J Pancake, for chrissake. You just can't handle it. It is impossible to handle.

Breece Pancake's stories are short scenes from stagnant lives mired in his native West Virginia, which he plainly lays out as the bleakest state in the union. There is no pretension in his prose, no slack, it just is how it is. The stories aren't plot-driven; they're mainly scenes from lives whose main drama is long past, often aborted by horrific events. His protagonists are long-suffering farmers and strip-miners struggling to make a living off the barren land they've stayed on for generations out of stubbornness or loyalty. Though I'm willing to bet that the landscape will seem foreign to many contemporary readers, the characters' pain and the webs of obligations that inflict it are palpable. It feels real enough that if you can't directly relate you'll fear that you will someday.

But there's really no getting around the name. Despite his raw talent for rendering the pathos of everyday life, despite the brutal economy of his prose, despite the tragic suicide that robbed the world of a hugely promising literary figure, I will never be able to think or talk about Breece D'J Pancake without at least faint comic undertones.

This effect is more pronounced when reading about him. He seems to be pretty much universally beloved (I haven't yet found a word of bad press), so you'll find people using austere lit-crit voices to speak reverently about his incredible writing -- but every so often you'll look down to find the word PANCAKE glaring up at you from the page, which totally ruins any hope of giving his reviews, profiles, and retrospectives the attention they deserve:

"'Trilobites' is VINTAGE PANCAKE in another way." - The Atlantic, 2004

"A time for holy reflection or unholy capitulation -- take your pick, PANCAKE seems to say." - Andre Dubus III, afterword to The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake

(and probably my favorite)
"STILL IN THE GRIP OF PANCAKE'S ART, I saw how the language was overwrought and was not being used to serve my characters and their particular truths." - Andre Dubus III, afterword to The Stories of Breece D'J Pancake

His death robbed the world not only of a storyteller but also a potential Chrotchtangle Regional heavy-hitter. Rest in peace, Breece D'J Pancake. We hardly knew ye.

Voting starts Monday. Prepare accordingly.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Names In The News: Jadeveon Clowney

Chance-of-Pain

Most of the entrants in our 2013 Name of the Year bracket (voting starts September 23rd!) are obscure athletes, scientists, and (alleged) criminals, but there are always a multitude of great names making news, particularly in the world of sports. One of the best players in Division I college football is Jadeveon Clowney, the star defensive end for the South Carolina Gamecocks and a former Name of the Year entrant; Clowney was a seven seed in the 2011 tournament and lost to Madz Negro in the second round.

Clowney was the subject of much media attention even before his first game for the Gamecocks. A 6'6", 274-pound giant, Clowney was rated by ESPN as the top college football recruit in the nation during his senior year in high school. After he was named as the Southeastern Conference's Freshman of the Year thanks to a superb 2011 campaign, Clowney emerged in 2012 as arguably the best defensive lineman in college football. Many fans (myself included) found his flat-out obliteration of Michigan running back Vincent Smith during the Outback Bowl to be the best single play of the year. Now, in 2013, Clowney is a candidate for Heisman Trophy, though a loss to conference rival Georgia and a foot injury have hurt his chances.

No matter where Clowney and the Gamecocks end up in 2013, he is likely to be the first player off the board during the next NFL draft. Athletes as talented Clowney are a rare treat, which makes it easy to forget that Jadeveon Clowney is a very good name. His first name is an epic mishmash of bold-sounding syllables, which, when placed together in concert, end up sounding less like a Greek god and more like a video game character. Jadeveon's last name subsequently places that character as the killer clown boss at the end of a haunted circus level.

For sports fans like myself, it is often hard to balance a great name with an exceptional athlete. Most people can appreciate the high onomastic quality of D'Brickashaw Ferguson (himself a NOTY contestant in 2006), but to me, Ferguson is nothing more than the long time left tackle on my favorite NFL team. I've long gotten over the shock of his name, to the point that I am now desensitized to it. "Yes," I'll respond any time a non-fan voices his or her amazement that there is a person out there named D'Brickashaw, "his name's pretty cool, I guess. But did you know he has started every game since the start of the 2006 season?"

It is important for sports fans to occasionally step back and appreciate the beauty of a great name, even one they have heard many times. For almost an entire decade, the best player in baseball was a guy whose last name is pronounced poo-holes. One of the five greatest basketball players of all time chose to go by the name Magic Johnson. We may not think about these fantastic names when watching those superstars' legendary highlight reels, but they are worth remembering. And should Jadeveon Clowney become a star in the NFL, his psycho clown moniker deserves to be just as legendary.

Monday, September 16, 2013

How This Will Work

Hey friends. As my fellow onomast so eloquently explained, we have decided to address the absence of name-fueled tournament play over the past two years. In addition to introducing myself (Hi, I'm Sam, I live in the city and drink coffee in the mornings and beer in the evenings, etc.), I'm here to lay out how this tournament will work and how YOU (yes, you) can participate.

Basically, starting next week, we're going to post matchups from our bracket, one poll per day. One of us (or both of us, if we're feeling frisky) will add in our commentary, which we hope will enlighten our viewers to our theoretical study of all things name.

Really, though, the person we want to hear from is YOU. Not just you, but your friends, relatives, lovers, casual rivals, and anyone else who is interested in arguing about things on the Internet. We already know how we think this tournament should go; that's why we arranged the seeds the way we did. We want you to tell us what we got right and what we got wrong. Via your votes, your comments, and your emails, we want you to explain to us why your favorite name is going to win, or tell us which one you think is overrated, or let us know that you know of a great moniker we left out. So I hope you'll all come out and vote, and please always remember that you can vote however you like.

We'll post our first matchup sometime next week. In the meantime, take a look at the bracket so you can pick out your dark horses or, should you find everything to be properly seeded, praise us for our flawless and incorruptible matchups. In order to not inflate my ego too much, I'm hoping for the former.

New Management

30 years ago, a group of college kids started a tradition. Its mission was "to discover, verify, nominate, elect, and disseminate great names." These are names of real, living people, names that bring smiles to the faces of everyone who encounters them.

The Name of the Year tournament was taken online in 2007, democratizing the event and allowing people the world over to wet themselves in giddy onomastic delight over choice finds like Largest Agbejemison, Rev. Demon Sox, Selathious Bobo. It soon became (in our book) the Best Thing on the Internet.

We were only fans, but we spent untold hours in dorm cafeterias arguing the finer points of such nail-biting matchups as Nohjay Nimpson v. X'Zavier Bloodsaw. Stayed up preposterously late arguing about the value of simple pleasures like Johnny Moustache and Charlie Soap. Tested the bounds of our friendship arguing about-- you get the idea; we argue and bicker like the hopeless nerds that we are.

Then, in 2011, the posts slowed to a trickle. It took over a year to name a champion. There was no 2012 Name of the Year tournament.

Never again.

NOTY left a vacuum in our lives. In the fallow season of 2011, we constructed and filled out brackets for the "final standings" lists of the pre-internet years. The next year, we scratched our itch by seeding names from the greatest Key and Peele sketch ever (the sequel is online as of two days ago). When it was clear that the original High Commission had turned their backs on us for good, we despaired, then went to work resurrecting the tradition we had loved.

And so: after months of research during idle hours, we came up with our own bracket of names. We think we've got some good ones, and we'd like to share them with you. And if you feel our picks can't quite compete with the rarefied likes of Taco B.M. Monster, Col. Many-Bears Grinder, and stonegarden grindlife -- don't fret, not yet. Our forefathers built something great; we're here to continue their legacy, but we don't have the reader participation they had in the later years. We did this on our own, without thousands of submissions to draw from. Stewardship of the NOTY tournament is the sort of thing that improves over time. Next time, we hope you'll have our backs.

So let us ask you: Are you a Schanker, a Jointer, or a Hofacker? A Sparkle or a Twinkle? A Boozer or a Crunk? Who wins the Battle between Fang Man and Dr. Suparman? Mister Love and Mister Moan? Bak Bak and Tore Torp?

The bracket awaits. Polling begins soon. Name on.