As the NCAA’s March Madness moves to the Final Four, our competition heads to the right half of the bracket to weed our competition down to 16. The Dragonwagon regional featured a mix of chalk and upsets: One-seed and Hawaii softballer Chardonnay Pantastico struck out Chance Comanche, two-seed Sultan McDoom smote Bastiaan Slabbers, and six-seed Andy Brandy Casagrande IV razed Brickman House while ten-seed Fiery Cushman, 12-seed Demon Clowney, 13-seed Christian Joo, and 14-seed Dougal Spork played Cinderellas to opponents not worthy of being named.
The Chrotchtangle regional saw two of the closest matchups of the first round. Seven-seed Le'Genius Wisdom Williams robbed Dutch gallerist Taco Dibbits by a mere 37 votes and four Headman Dadzie fans propelled him past Jeffrosenberg Tan. Even one-seed and high committee favorite Quindarious Monday slipped by Bobbie Bobango by just 200 votes. Down the bracket, Dallas Creamer churned past Free Balboa, Bird Lovegod avoided Teena Touch, Aphrodite Bodycomb disturbed Harmony Excellent, and Eliza Fox Teats found herself beat by Boats Botes against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past. Vote early, vote often, or your favorite may lose their shot at the Hall of Name.
As members of the high committee, such upsets and close matchups validate the hours that go into scouring the world, pouring through your suggestions, verifying names, and ultimately constructing a bracket. Each year, hundreds of names that make us cackle, cry, and cringe cannot make the cut. Some fall because we cannot find verification, others turn out to be nicknames or name changes, and a few others lack that certain je ne se quois.
In choosing among the worthy names, we face myriad ethical dilemmas. Should we include the name of a recently murdered baby? No. What about someone who has publicly written about having been teased for the name? Many of our names come from police reports. In 2015 three of the Final Four held arrest records and the fourth, Infinite Grover, witnessed a crime. Are we doing wrong by bringing attention to their lowest moments? And can we, in good faith, appreciate a name that fills us with joy but is unremarkable within its own community?
No NOTY contestant in recent history has been more qualified to help us ponder these quandaries than Dragonwagon 10-seed Fiery Cushman. Perched in his office in Harvard's William James Hall, Cushman, a moral psychologist, studies why and how people decide what’s right and what’s wrong. With fake guns, machine learning, and every permutation of the trolley problem possible, Cushman tries to understand our innate moral drive.
Outside the lab, he's a wildly popular professor whose students describe every lecture like a TED talk. "Call me Fiery," he implores them the first lecture of the year, as they begin a 300 person hunt for the white whale of morality. While his casual attitude and his metaphoric moniker that smells of marijuana may make many mistakenly muse about a hippy upbringing, Fiery was forged from the bluest of blood: a Times political journalist and professor as parents and an education from Harvard, Harvard, and Harvard.
After robbing Cash Masters, Fiery has sights set on a new prestigious prize for his CV: Name of the Year 2017. First, he will need to summon up the hottest of conflagrations to avoid being extinguished by Dragonwagon two-seed Sultan McDoom. Vote in that matchup and the rest of the Chrotchtangle and Dragonwagon Regionals below and follow along on Twitter.
DRAGONWAGON REGIONAL, ROUND TWO
#1 Chardonnay Pantastico vs. #8 Windy Swetman III
#12 Demon Clowney vs. #13 Christian Joo
#6 Andy Brandy Casagrande IV vs. #14 Dougal Spork
#2 Sultan McDoom vs. #10 Fiery Cushman
CHROTCHTANGLE REGIONAL, ROUND TWO
#1 Quindarious Monday vs. #9 Mythzard Thelisma
#4 Dallas Creamer vs. #12 Headman Dadzie
#11 Bird Lovegod vs. #14 Boats Botes
#2 Aphrodite Bodycomb vs. #7 Le’Genius Wisdom Williams