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

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Name of the Year 2014: Round 2, And A Note On Middle Names

The Sweet Sixteen will begin soon over at Deadspin, so if you haven't yet voted in Round 2, make sure you do that.
Before we get to the second round of our tournament, I'd like to share a tip we received from a reader named Jeffrey. Jeffrey is not himself a Name of the Year nominee, but he is a Brandeis alum familiar with Mingus Mapps, the Bulltron Regional's 8-seed and a Brandeis poli-sci professor.We are, Jeffrey explained, "selling Mingus Mapps short" by not including his middle name, Ulysses. "Get his middle name involved!"

Fear not, fair Judge; we are well aware of Mingus' middle name. And yes, Mingus Ulysses Mapps is an epic odyssey of a handle. Nonetheless, most of the onomasts involved in the creation of this bracket agree that middle names often have negative effects on cadence. In this case, we like Mingus Mapps' name more when his wonderful alliteration is intact.
In most cases, name-inee middle names tend to grab attention at the expense of flow, meter, and rhythm. Middle names cause inflation, and we're trying to keep our currency stable. Otherwise, Pablo Diego José Francisco de Paula Juan Nepomuceno María de los Remedios Crispiniano de la Santísima Trinidad Ruiz y Picasso and Dikembe Mutombo Mpolondo Mukamba Jean-Jacques Wamutombo would battle it out for the championship every single year.
Occasionally, there's room on the ballot for a Queena Flomp Traggis or a Ratan Naval Tata, but this year, we included only one middle name: Norman Bevis Many Fingers, whose middle name matches the trochaic foot of its brothers. Our apologies to the stellar but ultimately unnecessary middle names of Radiance (Monet) Ham, Ignatius (Theodore) Babbage-Hockey, and, yes, Mingus (Ulysses) Mapps.
Mingus Mapps certainly didn't need his third name in the first round, cruising past Harlene Freezer to set up a date with formidable 1-seed Curvaceous Bass. Bass is one of the four names included in a recent Name of the Year PSA created by a friend of the blog, who also highlighted fellow second-rounders Jetta Disco, Norman Bevis Many Fingers, and Dr. Loki Skylizard. All four of those names, along with 28 others, are in action today. Who will receive your vote?