Thursday, March 27, 2014

Dragonwagon/Chrotchtangle Regionals, Round 1

This year's tourney is proceeding at breakneck speed! Head over to Deadspin before 5:00 tomorrow (Thursday) to vote in the Dragonwagon and Chrotchtangle regionals. Round 2 goes up Friday!

Dragonwagon Regional:

#1 Karhonda Porcha, who was stopped for a seatbelt violation and found to be hiding drugs in her crotch, vs. #16 Handful Pour, a guard on the Hibbing Community College basketball team.

#8 Tumpsey Speeks, who like Bulltron's Radiance Ham appeared in a 2010 Houston Press name list, vs. #9 Equanimeous St. Brown, a trilingual h.s. wide receiver.

#5 Tertius Zongo, former Prime Minister of Burkina Faso, vs. #12 Mahogany Barbee of Chicago.

#4 Bubbles Chwat, former CCNY campus newspaper business manager, vs. #13 Polycarp Pengo, Archbishop of Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania.

#6 Poopa Dweck, cookbook author, vs. #11 Unique Mayo, a h.s. shooting guard.

#3 Precious Wingo-Waller, theatre troupe president at UC Santa Cruz, vs. #14 Maverick Couch, who made national headlines by winning a legal battle to wear a shirt reading "Jesus is not a homophobe" in school.

#7 Jigme Thinley, a former Prime Minister of Bhutan whose name forms a totally nonsensical yet formally complete English sentence, vs. #10 Jagger Slippery, a h.s. linebacker.

#2 Dr. Eve Gruntfest, Professor Emeritus of Geography and Environmental Sciences at the University of Colorado Colorado Springs, vs. #15 Ginger Pinholster from the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Chrotchtangle Regional:

#1 Alkapone Cruz-Balles, Hawaiian car-jacker, vs. #16 Becky Lecky, London pool player.

#8. Jerqwinick Sandolph, LSU defensive back, vs. #9 Shitavious Cook, charged with murder.

#5 D'Olajuwon Swanks, h.s. guard and our play-in winner, vs. #12 Soviet Howie, North Carolina plaintiff.

#4 Fawaz Wazwaz, alleged mortgage fraud co-conspirator, vs. #13 Fuifui Moimoi,
Tongan rugby player.

#6 Dr. Xerxes Mazda, Deputy Director of Engagement at the Royal Ontario Museum, vs. #11 Kodiak Yazzie, real estate sales counselor.

#3 Norman Bevis Many Fingers, an Alberta man who shot two fighting dogs, vs. #14 Fuzzbee Morse, composer for films.

#7 Airwrecka McBride, "Prepster Parent," vs. #10 Chillie Poon, 1996 Miss Hong Kong runner-up.

#2 Squeegee Santillian, AskMen Canada contributor, vs. #15 Kermit Rainman, Christian brand consultant.

As always, follow us on Twitter.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Cinderella story for Bernie Wagenblast?

We love it when name-inees write in to cheer themselves on. Today's Deadspin post got the attention of Bernie Wagenblast, transportation communications guru and the voice of New York City Transit. He writes:

Subject: Honored to be Nominated this Year!

I just learned I'm the #15 seed in the Bulltron Regional. I admit it's going to be tough to knock-off Bufus, but I might just be the Cinderella name this year! In fact, if I was born a girl, my mom would have named me Cinderella Wagenblast, so that would be appropriate. ;-)

As they say with the Oscars, it's just an honor to even be nominated.

Though our partners aren't fans of the "Cinderella" label, we think they'd make an exception if Bernie can close 2-seed Bufus Dewberry's 2,300-vote lead before polls close.

2014 Name Of The Year: Bulltron And Sithole Regionals, Round 1

We'll be posting NOTY previews over at Deadspin, which also will man the voting machine. If you didn't get here from there, please go there and vote.

The 2014 Name of the Year tournament kicks off today in the quadrants named after Assumption Bulltron, crowned the first-ever Name of the Decade, and Godfrey Sithole, the 1985 Name of the Year champion.

The top seed in this year's Sithole Regional is Dr. Loki Skylizard, a cardiothoracic surgeon from New Jersey. If this name seems artificial, that's because it is--our top-seeded doctor was not born Loki Skylizard. Instead, the source who emailed us his name tells us that his parents let him and his sister change their own names around age eight or nine. Loki went with exactly the sort of name you would expect a nine year old boy to go with, and it stuck. He's been Loki Skylizard ever since.

Should name changes be allowed in the Name of the Year tournament? Some people feel as if a great name is a great name, no matter how long it has been legally bound to the man or woman who carries it. Others believe that a great name can only come from birth, that a mother must look her baby boy in the eye and choose to name him Alpacino or Taco or Hitler. To those onomastic truthers, a great name is a lifelong responsibility created by a birth certificate and cannot be created through an impulsive trip to the courthouse.

Name of the Year readers have historically fallen into the first camp. In 2008, they chose Spaceman Africa, who changed his name, as their champion. The High Committee, which selected its own champion from 2007-11, preferred a more traditional choice in Destiny Frankenstein, who did not. That said, the High Committee has been tempted by name changes as well. One of our four regionals, the Dragonwagon Regional, is named after a woman who was born Ellen Zolotow.

For this year's tournament, we have tried to make both sides of this argument happy. We passed over several outrageous name changes such as New York's Godzilla Gorilla Pimp Hunter and Wisconsin's Beezow Doo-doo Zoppity-Bop-Bop, but we took a shine to Loki. He stuck with his childhood decision all the way through med school, keeps it to this day, and has caused thousands of patients to hear the terrifying phrase "Dr. Skylizard will see you now." His is a name change we can get behind, and so we've made him our number one seed.

The rest of the field gets the benefit of the doubt. We know all of these names are real, legal names, but we cannot conclusively prove they are all given names. Let's hope that there are no other name changes among our field. If there are, they can't possibly hold a candle to the good doctor Skylizard.


#1 Dr. Loki Skylizard, a cardiothoracic surgeon, vs. #16 Remco Obertop, vice president of an investment company.

#8 Sedan Angrythe appellant in a Florida court case, vs. #9 Sterling Lovelady, Florida State University offensive lineman (and therefore a national champion!)

#5 Wolfgang Grape, author of The Bayeux Tapestry (a book about it, not the tapestry itself) vs. #12 Orion Creamerretro fridge designer.

#13 Bibb Strench, a D.C. lawyer. [the 4-seed requested to be removed from the tourney, so Bibb gets a bye.]

#6 Jazzmar Clax, UConn Huskies fullback, vs. #11 Ingo Findenegg, a German plankton researcher.

#3 Shamus Beaglehole, an English soccer player, vs. #14 Wubbo Ockels, a physicist, TED talker, and the first Dutchman in space.

#7 Ignatius Babbage-Hockey, the young son of a man named Joe Hockey, vs. #10 Diesel Daigle, the young son of former softball star Jennie Finch.

#1 Curvacous Bass vs. #16 Denver Beanland.
Ms. Bass, a Georgian who passed away in 2011, is one of the prohibitive favorites heading into this year's tournament. That said, Name of the Year seeding is an inexact science, and upsets are common across the board. This matchup's potential giant slayer is Mr. Beanland, anAustralian politician. Call him Beanland from Queensland.

#8 Mingus Mapps vs. #9 Harlene Freezer
The first of our 8-9 matchups is an onomastic take on the rivalry between Boston and New York. Mr. Mapps is a political scientist at Brandeis University and colleague of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, while Ms. Freezer is a board member of BAFTA in New York whose name evokes the love child of two Batman villains.

#5 Chubacca Hung vs. #12 C'Mon Wingo
Ms. Hung is part of a new wave of Hongkongers with unique English names "such as Hillbilly, Rainbow, Onion and Chlorophyll." She gets bonus points for using an alternate spelling that wouldn't be out of place as a bad translation in Backstroke of the West. Her opponent, Ms. Wingo, is a Dallas detective whose name, per our information, is pronounced like "Simone".

#4 Dr. Diddo Diddens vs. #13 Che Cockatoo-Collins
Mr. Diddens, a French soft matter scientist, is the first of four doctors on our ballot. His opponent is Mr. Cockatoo-Collins, an Australian Rules Footballer who will look to catch some of the magic that propelled fellow AFL standout Steele Sidebottom to the 2010 Name of the Year crown. It's DDD vs. CCC, and only one can advance.

#6 Genghis Cohen vs. #11 Erby Ferby
The Bulltron's six-seed sounds like a character from a Woody Allen movie, but he is actually a Los Angeles businessman. His opponent is a Memphis man who was accused of stabbing his daughter's boyfriend last year.

#3 Bullabeck Ringblong vs. #14 Vanthana Xayarath
Mr. Ringblong is serving life in prison for murder, while Ms. Xayarath is a Florida woman who heard a ship collide with a bridge. She described the accident as "Just a big old loud crash," and she'll try to crash our tournament with a major upset.

#7 Radiance Ham vs. #10 DeQuarium Lumpkin
Radiance Ham, middle name Monet, was one of the Houston Press' strangest names of 2010, joining the likes of Dominique Sneeze and Serge LaBean. Her opponent, DeQuarium Lumpkin, hails from Tennessee, where he recently graduated from high school.

#2 Bufus Dewberry vs. #15 Bernie Wagenblast
Mr. Dewberry, a Georgia resident and the husband of Alpha, has the higher seed in this matchup. Mr. Wagenblast, however, has a much larger profile as one of the voices of the New York City subway. His powerful voice matches his booming name, but he'll need to cull votes from Woodlawn to Crown Heights to pull off the massive upset.

We'll be back later this week with the Sithole Regional. Until then, vote vote vote!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Socrates: 'A Tremendous Class of Names'

We'll be posting NOTY previews over at Deadspin, which also will man the voting machine. If you didn't get here from there, please go there and vote.

When you come across a name like Destiny Frankenstein or Assumption Bulltron or Barkevious Mingo—champions one and all—the first you think is, holy hell, how did that happen? The answer is always the same: on purpose. Naming anyone or anything—animals, cars, companies, people—is a deliberate act. And thank God Shammgod for deliberate acts.

Name of the Year dates to the fall of 1982 and names taped to a dorm-room door on an Ivy campus: Dexter Manley, Cornelius Boza-Edwards, Baskerville Holmes. The following spring, Hector (Macho) Camacho was elected the first Name of the Year. What can we say? The first basketball baskets didn’t have holes in the bottom. The first baseball players didn’t wear gloves. Men of science believed the earth to be flat.

As our onomastic senses were activated, our tastes became more refined. Some birds of prey can spot a rabbit a mile away. We could spot a great name two newspaper columns away. (NOTY predates the internet.) By the 1990s, the annual vote was a tradition unlike any other: About a dozen of us gathered to watch an NCAA regional semifinal. We played a drinking game called Pick-a-Player. (Pick-a-Player tip: Don’t pick Steve Alford. Or Rumeal Robinson.) We voted. For Excellent Raymond and Crescent Dragonwagon. For Scientific Mapp and Courage Shabalala. In 1998, we turned our growing-by-the-year list of nominees (the World Wide Web! electronic mail!) into a 64-name bracket.

When you read about, or vote in, another contrived bracket, please remember that date: 1998. NPR and PBS personalities? Proposed Scrabble words? ESPN employees? Privilege? Bitchiness? People from New Jersey? I just googled “cat bracket” and got this. Richard Sandomir of the New York Times and Mark Reiter assembled two books of nothing but brackets. There’s a bracket of brackets taking place right now. We were just eliminated by the Muppets. Fuck you, Fozzie Bear. And fuck you, SportsGrid, for the No. 14 seed. Fourteen? Seriously? We were here first. (At least Sports Illustrated had us as a six.)

Actually, the study of names (onomastics) and human names (anthroponomastics) was here long before we were. According to this history, “the roots of the scholarly treatment of names” dates to ancient Greece. In Plato’s dialogue Cratylus, Socrates tackles the nature and meaning of names. Explanations of the names of places and people are found in the Bible. In the 16th century, names were collected in dictionaries. By the 19th century, scholars around the world were analyzing names. The Online Etymology Dictionary dates the word “onomastics,” defined as “the scientific study of names and naming,” to 1936. The American Name Society was founded in 1951.

What does that have to do with whether Tanqueray Beavers was a “better” name than Bunnatine Greenhouse in 2005? Or how on earth Monsterville Horton IV was an 11 seed—and had to face eventual champion Taco B.M. Monster in a regional semifinal—in 2011? Well, everything. “Names are interesting for what they tell us about ourselves and about the people who share or have shared the world with us,” says Carole Hough, a professor of onomastics at the University of Glasgow. “Do we prefer plainness or elegance? Are we traditionalists, sticking to well established names, or innovators, looking for something unusual?”

Innovators, Prof. Hough, unusual. In its three decades of existence, Name of the Year has been grounded in the beauty, irony, symmetry, creativity, contrast, contradiction, and, sure, humor found in names. Last year, when midlife intervened and we failed to get a ballot together, NOTY-obsessed grad student Tom Schroeder and blogger Sam Gutelle staged their own tournament. (The 2013 Name of the Year: Leo Moses Spornstarr). We invited them aboard, together reviewed more than 400 name-inees (that was fun), and settled on a field of 65. Socrates approves. “That is a tremendous class of names which you are disinterring,” he said.

Deadspin will manage the voting. Tom and Sam will write the previews, which will be cross-posted at Name of the Year, where you can also peruse the NOTY archives and submit nominations for 2015. And please follow us @NOTYTourney

First-round voting will commence next week. But let’s kick things off now with a play-in game that tips a Cappie Pondexter to an NCAA tournament legend and the very first year of NOTY: former Oregon high-school wrestler Olajuwan Stiffler v. current Seattle high-school guard D’Olajuwon Swanks. As always, may the best name win.

Friday, March 21, 2014

A Shitavious Gruntfest, Indeed

The sun is shining. Flowers are starting to bloom. For the first time since 2010, Name of the Year is starting during March Madness. Praise be!

This year's bracket is above. Both the old guard and the fresh blood contributed to this one -- after months of infighting, we've come up with a field we're happy with. This is gonna be a Wagenblast.

As always, there are going to be some changes this year. To our delight, longtime NOTY supporters Deadspin offered to host the NOTY tourney this year. Voting will happen there. The extent to which we'll be able to cross-post to this account is unclear at the moment, but we'll keep you updated as the situation develops. -- we may copy the Deadspin posts, we may post with more detailed analysis. At very least, we'll be linking to the votes as they go up -- like today's play-in between Olajuwan Stiffler and D'Olajuwon Swanks.

Again, we'll have details on the new setup before you can say Tumpsey Speeks. And C'Mon, follow us on Twitter for more updates. May the best name win!