What's in a great name? If you're one of the minds behind Name of the Year, it's anything from Atticus Disney to Neptune Pringle III.
NOTY, which began in the early 1980s on an unnamed Ivy League campus, aims "to discover, verify, nominate, elect and disseminate great names." And this year's first-round match-ups look like some of the competition's all-time best. (You know, if you keep track of that sort of thing.)
La'Peaches Pitt vs. Cruise Citation Mangle. Delorean Blow vs. Basil Smotherman Jr. Philanderer Moor vs. Dr. Loveday Conquest. These are names that belong on stage with George Clinton and P-Funk, not slumming as bridesmaids or college professors for lame-named folks.
That's the subtle brilliance of NOTY. You figure you have to suspend disbelief to enjoy it — all of the names, especially beauties like Joe Shortsleeve, just can't be real. But, wonderfully enough, they belong to actual, living people.
Sure, some of the names are legally enhanced. Colonel Many-Bears Grinder, a Bronze Star recipient in the National Guard, says she changed hers after a nickname stuck. (Which is a whole barrel of awesome.) Authenticity aside, I'm very, very happy to know that a person out there — a decorated soldier to boot — wants to be called Many-Bears.
Although, it's not all sunshine and happiness in the world of NOTY. The blog claims that "no malice is intended" in the contest, but isn't that kind of the point? It might be a stretch to call it malicious, but NOTY is certainly driven by mocking schoolyard humor. Is it okay to laugh when you say Courvoisier Winetavius Richardson, even though the man behind the name actually exists? I'm not sure, but I'm can't help myself.
We laugh at these names simply because they sound funny; it's immature, but inescapable. At age 6 or 60, it's tough to keep a straight face when you meet a person who introduces himself as Dr. Taco B.M. Monster or Monsterville Horton IV.
Look at that last one, which happens to be my dark horse favorite to win this year's NOTY title. The guy is the fourth generation Monsterville Horton — isn't just a name anymore, it's a family legacy. Isn't that worth celebrating? Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.