Thursday, April 26, 2018

2018 Name of the Year Final: Jimbob Ghostkeeper v. Dr. Narwhals Mating

For one of the two men who have made it to this year's Name of the Year final, destiny awaits. 

By this time next week, Canadian hockey player Jimbob Ghostkeeper or California family practitioner Dr. Narwhals Mating will be etched in NOTY lore. By navigating another wildly competitive field, the 2018 winner will join an exclusive club—one that brings deserved glory, but also reflects the weight of owning a spectacular name.

First let’s recap paths our finalists took through the bracket. Ghostkeeper, who played a few games for the Fort Saskatchewan Rangers midget AA hockey team in Alberta, tore through the Bulltron Regional like a winger on a breakaway. The No. 2 seed skated past, in order, Travis-Couture Lovelady, Dr. Dimple Royalty, Mosthigh Thankgod, No. 1 Salami Blessing, and, in the Final Four, Makenlove Petit-Fard.

Handicappers—literally the sports book Pinnacle—had Dr. Mating as the favorite to win it all. Seeded No. 1 in the Chrotchtangle Regional, the doctor (whose original name, we’ve learned, was Raymond Rex Spisak) took care of Clinton Bacon, Mahogany Loggins, Beau Titsworth, and Gandalf Hernandez. His Final Four opponent, Delicious Peters, was a light lunch.

The winner of this championship throwdown will earn more than just an inside track to the Hall of Name. Our 2010 co-winner, Australian rules footballer Steele Sidebottom, generated headlines around the globe. A year after his 2014 title, English soccer coach Shamus Beaglehole turned up in a crossword puzzle by New York Times contributor Brendan Emmett Quigley. Ooh, 36 Across, we think we know that one.

But possessing a name strong enough to earn these laurels can be a burden. Consider 2008 co-champ and former Kansas softball star Destiny Frankenstein. In a recent article in the Tulsa World about the family name, Destiny’s father, Wes, said that schoolmates asked to see the bolts in his neck and made endless references to Young Frankenstein. “You just get tired of the class clowns,” Wes said. “They really rode it hard.”

Destiny said she didn’t experience the same level of schoolyard teasing. In fact, she campaigned openly during her NOTY run. “I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that they thought I could beat them up, but I never beat anyone up,” Destiny said. “I was a softball player, and softball players have big muscles apparently.” 

But then Destiny met and married a fellow Oklahoman named Steven King—yes, Destiny Frankenstein married Steven King—and opted to take his surname. Destiny told the paper she’s still proud of the Frankenstein name but was happy to trade it for something shorter. 

We're not worried about Jimbob Ghostkeeper or Dr. Narwhals Mating ditching their monikers. After all, Dr. Narwhals Mating changed his name to Dr. Narwhals Mating. And who wouldn’t want to be named Jimbob Ghostkeeper?

Vote for one of them below, and follow us on Twitter

Thanks to Evan Gregory of the Gregory Brothers for filling in the bracket each round. And to our friends at Deadspin for hosting.


#2 Jimbob Ghostkeeper vs. #1 Dr. Narwhals Mating

Friday, April 20, 2018

2018 Name of the Year: The Final Four

We've come a long way since we set our field of 64. Over the past few weeks, Tuna Altuna has been canned, Corky BoozĂ© has been bottled up, Lola Honeybone has been broken, and Genuine Potts has been flushed. We’re down to our Final Four: Jimbob Ghostkeeper, Makenlove Petit-Fard, Delicious Peters, and Dr. Narwhals Mating.

All of the name-inees we select for our yearly celebration theoretically possess the exact same chance to claim the title. NOTY prognosticators, however will tell you that some names are worth paying attention to from the start, while others don’t stand much of a chance of passing the first round (sorry, Clinton Bacon.) It’s the same logic that gets applied to the NCAA tournament each year: Any team could win any game, but we all know a 16-seed will never beat a one.

This was a pretty good year for predictive NOTY analysis. Two of the names that ended up in the Final Four, Dr. Mating and Mr. Petit-Fard, were the top seeds in their respective regionals and were clear favorites to advance this far. Jimbob Ghostkeeper, seeded on the two-line, was no slouch either. It became clear that the Canadian minor-league hockey player would make a deep run after multiple people changed their Twitter display names to match his.

Even Delicious Peters, a nominal underdog as a nine-seed, was easy to spot as this year’s Cinderella. When we introduced our 2018 bracket via Deadspin, commenters picked out Peters as one of their favorites. If you don't find that to be a telling measure, consider that last year's Deadspin commenter favorites included Boats Botes, the eventual People’s Champion.

You may agree with our assessment that these names were destined for greatness or you may accuse us of playing Quindarious Monday Morning Quarterback, but no matter what, you now can put your money where your mouth is. The English bookmaker Pinnacle is offering odds on Name of the Year. That's right, you can bet on NOTY. 

We weren't consulted, but the lines seem pretty accurate: in order, Mating, Petit-Fard, Ghostkeeper, Peters. Two more rounds of balloting will crown your 2018 Name of the Year. Bring us home by voting below. And, as always, follow us on Twitter for updates.


#2 Jimbob Ghostkeeper vs. #1 Makenlove Petit-Fard

#9 Delicious Peters vs. #1 Dr. Narwhals Mating

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

2018 Name of the Year: The Elite Eight

An elephant is sitting on your chest. You can barely breathe. 911. EMS. Stretcher, aspirin, nitroglycerin, oxygen mask. Stickers all over your chest. EKG. Screaming ambulance. A harried doctor approaches. You might be having a heart attack. We need to stick a wire into your heart.

Dr. Prospero Gogo,” he says. “Please consent for catheterization.” 

Another pill. Sleep. You wake under a warm blanket, groggy but pain free. Good news: You’re alive. Bad news: You need a bypass. A coiffed man in a long white coat strides into your fluorescent room. 

“Hi, I’m Dr. Loki Skylizard,” he says, “and I will be operating on your heart.”

Across the country, NOTY nominees are keeping America healthy. Dr. Loki Skylizard (NOTY 2014) is a cardiothoracic surgeon who changed his name as a child and stuck with it. Dr. Prospero Gogo (2017) is a cardiologist in Vermont. If Florida is your home, Dr. SkyHawk Fadigan (2013) might do your next pap smear. Lyme disease got you down in New Jersey? Paging infectious disease specialist Dr. Jihad Slim (1999).

As E.R. took off in the 1990s, so did physician NOTY nominees. Dr. Slim was joined by New York City pediatrician Dr. Barney Softness and then Brooklyn dentist Dr. Constant Jose. This decade has brought a rush of white coats: Dr. Speedy Nutz, Dr. Festus Dada, 2011 NOTY winner Dr. Taco BM Monster, Dr. Suparman Marzuki, Dr. Electron Kebebew, and this year’s No. 1 seed in the Chrochtangle Regional, Dr. Narwhals Mating.

The vivid imagery of Dr. Mating’s name—horny horned whales, the unicorns of the sea, copulating freely—contrasts his obscure origin. Narwhals Mating was first listed as a member of the Hennepin County (Minn.) Medical Society in 2000, when he graduated from University of Minnesota’s medical school. After a family-medicine residency in Wisconsin, Dr. Mating moved to California’s central valley, where he practices now.

This year wasn’t our first Narwhals sighting. A reader submitted his name in 2011, during a period of NOTY hiatus. When we did not respond, they wrote again, concerned that the good doctor was lost in a deluge of email. They weren’t wrong; the High Committee never considered his name. He was lost in the shuffle again in 2016. Finally, this year, Mating surfaced.

Your author, Steel, is the High Committee’s resident physician. He called Dr. Mating’s office for a peer-to-peer discussion of his onomastic origin. The doctor was out. But a public records search yielded news that Dr. Narwhals Mating used to be Raymond Rex Spisak.

Shudders? Horrors? Petitions for his removal? Nah. A legal name change is a legal name change. Precedent was established in the 1980s, when Birdie Africa and his family members (who were in involved in a crazy bombing by Philadelphia police) were welcomed to the ballot. Then came one Crescent Dragonwagon, the Hall of Name member who changed her name at age 16.  

So far, Dr. Mating has successfully operated on the 16, 9 and 4 seeds in the Chrotchtangle—Clinton Bacon, Mahogany Loggins, and Beau Titsworth. Of the five docs in the original field of 64, he is the last one standing. Will he slice open Gandalf Hernandez like his previous opponents? Or will the doctor be forced to hang up his stethoscope? Say ahhhh, and vote in all four Elite Eight match-ups below.

Thanks again to Evan Gregory for the updated bracket.



#1 Salami Blessing vs. #2 Jimbob Ghostkeeper


#1 Makenlove Petit-Fard vs. #2 Rev. Dongo Pewee


#9 Delicious Peters vs. #3 Quindarious Gooch


#1 Dr. Narwhals Mating vs. #10 Gandalf Hernandez

Friday, April 13, 2018

2017 Name of the Year: The Sweet Sixteen

Money, religion, and politics. Emily Post might suggest that they’re not to be discussed in polite company, because they’re likely to cause a squabble among even the most mild-mannered conversants. But then over the Easter ham or Passover brisket, your creepy uncle simply has to mention just this one thing he read online. Politifact rated it “Pants on Fire,” but he doesn’t care. You may know to ignore him, but a naive cousin or family friend might be less wise. Then suddenly tempers are flaring and you can feel your pulse behind your eyes. Feelings will get hurt. Relatives could become estranged. Kugle may be thrown.
So in today’s darker times, allow Name of the Year to serve as a beacon of fireproof pants. All of our names are real, submitted by our real-life readers, individually vetted and dissected by the high committee before being presented to the voting public for discussion and debate. We don’t allow Reddit-style resentment to muddle our view. So just as we do in our work of whittling hundreds of premium monikers down to 64, four-seed Chardonnay Beaver seeks to cut through emotional bias in her work as a mediator at Garfield High School.
“A lot of these issues are about unintentional or irrational reactions so my goal is to come in as a leader and just as a peer,” Beaver said in an interview with the Garfield Messenger. “So [I] come in and, you know, ‘What I hear you saying is this. Can you explain it to that person so they get a clearer view?’ Fixing misinterpretations so that they leave the meeting feeling good.”
Compared to the Fox News headlines-cum-White House tweets, such open-mindedness is refreshing. The most mature voices in room are now high schoolers like Beaver, who yearn to speak honestly about painful issues. Teenagers move us to march for our beliefs and change the world for the oppressed. And Name of the Year is proud to see our new leaders widely represented in this year’s Sweet Sixteen: Chardonnay Beaver, of course, but also Fruithandler one-seed Makenlove Petit-Fard, Bulltron three-seed Mosthigh Thankgod, and Chrotchtangle four-seed Beau Titsworth, among others. These youths represent the best of their generation not just in attitude, as above, but also in name, as you’re about to vote below.
With each post we remind you to follow us on Twitter, but this week we remind you to do so responsibly. Do not follow us on Twitter with malice and anger, like a certain orange president. Do not follow us on Twitter with deceit, like a certain 13-seed whose alleged threat to wallop a policeman was only misdirection. Instead, follow us on Twitter with kindness. Follow us on Twitter with an open mind. Follow us on Twitter with honesty or as Beaver might: with positivity. “If we just focus on the positivity and the energy of each other and we know how to act off of that, there are so many things we can do.”

Thanks to Evan Gregory for the Sweet Sixteen bracket above. Please vote below and, of course, remember to follow us on Twitter.



#1 Salami Blessing vs. #13 Miracle Crimes

#3 Mosthigh Thankgod vs. #2 Jimbob Ghostkeeper


#1 Makenlove Petit-Fard vs. #12 Dr. Megha Panda

#11 Covadonga del Busto Naval vs. #2 Rev. Dongo Pewee


#9 Delicious Peters vs. #4 Chardonnay Beaver

#3 Quindarious Gooch vs. #7 Candida Seasock


#1 Dr. Narwhals Mating vs. #4 Beau Titsworth

#3 Dr. Taekwondo Byrd vs. #10 Gandalf Hernandez

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

2018 Name of the Year: Dragonwagon and Chrotchtangle, Round Two

The bracket above comes courtesy of reader Evan Gregory, who has filled in the first-round winners. Beyond his NOTY fandom, Evan is also one of The Gregory Brothers, known for their soulful songifications of news and pop culture. Thanks, Evan! We promised we’d share your bracket, and a promise like that is unbreakable.

NOTY succeeds only because of its symbiotic relationship with its fans. You feed us hundreds of names and we refine them into a bracket of compelling matchups. When the seeds are set, you use our framework to create more joyous things, including Evan’s updated bracket, Daniel Wood’s sublime vote tracker, Dave Mercier's calligraphic chalkboard, and Deadspin’s podcast guffaws, led by Drew Magary.

Organizations thrive when individual members come together in pursuit of a higher goal (in our case, the celebration of great names). One person who understands this well is Dragonwagon Regional seven-seed Candida Seasock, the founder of a business mentorship firm called CTS Associates.

In her line of work, Candida meets with businesses that range from Fortune 500 to emerging companies. She leads the award-winning “Growth Path to Success,” which “is based on targeted business development, strategic marketing, fostering strong and long-term client relationships and implementing 360-degree agility into a company’s processes and operations.”

One piece of advice Candida offers concerns smart hiring practices. If companies only look to check off boxes on a job description, they could enlist toxic employees and negatively affect their culture. “Skills can be taught or developed, but honesty and integrity are found from within,” she told The Huffington Post in 2016.

It’s not just Candida’s clients who work together efficiently; her name is highly synergistic as well. Its syllables undulate pleasantly from stressed to unstressed, and its sharp /ee/ sounds, arranged in an assonant pair, hit like snare drums. Lexically, she offers both brains and brawn. Candida’s first name evokes the legendary wit of Voltaire, while her surname conjures an image of a forceful, briny gust of wind.

Thanks to those interwoven elements, Candida earned a decisive first-round victory over 10-seed Adele Gorrilla. In her next matchup, she’ll face an opponent whose moniker has its own ties to corporate America: 15-seed Yo’Heinz Tyler, who hails from Louisiana but shares a name with a company based in Pittsburgh. If the incoming Ball State freshman wide receiver winds up catching passes for the Steelers at Heinz Field one day, he’ll pull off one of the greatest feats of synergy the business world has ever seen.

But first, he’ll have to get past Candida. Eight matchups are below. Vote. Share. Tweet.


#1 La Royce Lobster-Gaines vs. #9 Delicious Peters

#12 Chosen Roach vs. #4 Chardonnay Beaver

#11 Forbes Thor Kiddoo vs. #3 Quindarious Gooch

#7 Candida Seasock vs. #15 Yo'Heinz Tyler


#1 Dr. Narwhals Mating vs. #9 Mahogany Loggins

#5 Rev. Hobbit Forrest vs. #4 Beau Titsworth

#11 Hallelujah Lulie vs. #3 Dr. Taekwondo Byrd

#10 Gandalf Hernandez vs. #2 Shaka Licorish

Monday, April 9, 2018

2018 Name of the Year: Bulltron and Fruithandler, Round Two

When the mind turns to salami, where does it first go? Sigmund Freud made a living off of this question. Your author, the Gen-X son of a New York shrink, thinks of Katz’s Delicatessen. If you prefer wordplay to foreplay, maybe it’s to Jon Agee’s compendium of palindromes, Go Hang a Salami! I’m a Lasagna Hog!

And then there are those of a certain age—the age, say, of the founding members of the NOTY High Committee—who conjure one Mario “Salami” Pettrino, reserve guard on the Carver High School basketball team in the CBS drama The White Shadow (front row, far right). One of them will now take over this post for a couple of paragraphs to drop some knowledge, or Coolidge, on you.

The White Shadow—which aired from 1978-81, precisely when the High Committee was in high school—helped usher in the era of gritty, high-concept Quality Television like Hill Street Blues, E.R., and Homicide. Created by Bruce Paltrow (Gwyneth’s dad), The White Shadow tackled it all: gun violence, teen pregnancy, absentee fathers, homosexuality, STDs, drugs and alcohol. It was serious without being (too) didactic, genuinely funny, and often downright moving. Bill Simmons says it changed his life. Here’s a nice appreciation by Nell Beram in The Awl. The show was terrific. You should watch it.

Salami was the white punk transplanted New Yorker. In one episode he unwittingly shares prescription amphetamines with the team. In another he is seduced by a teacher. Salami was played by Timothy Van Patten, who would go on to direct the Quality TV that descended from the descendants of The White Shadow—including episodes of The Sopranos, The Wire, and Game of Thrones.

Which brings us to the second round of the Bulltron Regional, where we find another Salami, No. 1 seed Salami Blessing, a 23-year old chemical engineer from Nigeria, a land rich in oil, sesame, and names. Nigeria has given us NOTY luminaries such as ex-president Goodluck Jonathan and top-100 international Scrabble player Ben Quickpen. So it is perhaps no surprise that this 2016 interview with Blessing doesn’t even bother to get into the provenance of her name.

The whys and wherefores, however, are not always of immediate concern. What inspired Richard Mather to name his boy Cotton, and Cotton to up the ante, naming his offspring Increase? Why did 2008 name-inee Perfect Engelberger call her son Dom Perignon Champagne? Who sent us this Salami?

Sometimes, though, the stories of how names come to the High Committee’s attention merit retelling. Sure, the majority arrive via email (for which, thanks), spotted by you (and us) in, more often than not, the ninth paragraph of a local news report about a holdup at a gas station. But sometimes a Committee member tears off the side of a moving box and submits it as validation.

That was the case with Jerome Fruithandler (NOTY 2004, Hall of Name 2008). This NOTY offseason we heard from a grandson of Jerome’s asking for “something noting the victory. Something for the family” to honor his late grandfather. Until the Hall of Name becomes a brick-and-mortar tourist destination, however, the best we can offer is a virtual salute.

And so it is that the region formerly known as the Sithole (for Zimbabwean legislator and 1985 NOTY Godfrey Sithole) is now the Jerome Fruithandler Memorial. It is a small but sincere token of our appreciation. As we wrote in 2008, Jerome was a respected member of Temple Bet Torah in Mount Kisco, N.Y. When such a beloved figure dies, by tradition it is said zikhrono livrakha: “May his memory be a blessing.”

Perhaps this year a Salami Blessing.

Vote below.

Dan Wachtell is a lawyer, soccer enthusiast, and occasional writer living in Brooklyn.


#1 Salami Blessing vs. #8 Duckens Nazon

#12 Armagedon Draughn vs. #13 Miracle Crimes

#6 Tuna Altuna vs. #3 Mosthigh Thankgod

#7 Dr. Dimple Royalty vs. #2 Jimbob Ghostkeeper


#1 Makenlove Petit-Fard vs. #9 Sparkle Hayter

#12 Dr. Megha Panda vs. #4 Corky Boozé

#11 Covadonga del Busto Naval vs. #14 Obra Kernodle IV

#10 Devoid Couch vs. #2 Rev. Dongo Pewee