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 Angry, the appellant in a Florida court case, vs. #9 Sterling Lovelady, a 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 Creamer, retro fridge designer.
#13 Bibb Strench, a D.C. lawyer. [the 4-seed requested to be removed from the tourney, so Bibb gets a bye.]
#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.
#2 Jetsy Extrano, a Venezuelan minor league baseball player, vs. #15 Jetta Disco, spokeswoman for the US coast guard.
#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!