Nine Cool Characters from the ’90s to Name Your Kid After

Who was your  favorite actor or movie star in the 90s’ when you were “coming of age.” Did you ever think of naming your child after one of them? Refresh your memory of the stars you dreamed about at night–and add some names to your baby name list. At least that’s the thought Kat George had when she penned this article for Bustle.com.

Here’s how she starts her entertaining piece:

“If you were a preteen or teen in the ’90s you’re probably around that baby-making age now…So why not take inspiration from that amazing decade while naming said babies.”

Wanna know who Kat George thinks are the coolest characters from the ’90s? (FYI, I looked up the names of the actors who portrayed the cool characters and the names of the TV shows or movies they starred in–so you’d know. I also included a brief rationale by Kat George for each selection):

  1. Adriana (La Cerva) in “The Sopranos”; Portrayed by: Drea de Matteo
    Why: “She had the best wardrobe on television ever, period.”
  1. Josh (Lucas) in “Clueless” (the movie); Portrayed by: Paul Rudd
    Why: …”the character that made a whole generation of women fall in love with Paul Rudd.
  1. Anya (Jenkins ) in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”; Portrayed by: Emma Caulfield
    Why: ”Anya is the best character…and a powerful woman too, so it’s a win-win situation for your kid.”
  1. Jesse (Katsopolis ) in “Full House”; Portrayed by: John Stamos
    Why: “Who is cooler than Uncle Jesse? Can’t think of anyone, can you?”
  1. Elaine (Benes ) “Seinfeld”; Portrayed by: Julia Louis-Dreyfus
    Why: “I feel like it goes without explaining but I will tell you this: Elaine is EVERYTHING!”
  1. John (McClane ) “Die Hard”; Portrayed by: Bruce Willis
    Why: “Yippee kiyay mother****er!”
  1. Mia (Wallace) “Pulp Fiction” ; Portrayed by: Uma Thurman
    Why: So she did a few drugs. She survived!
  1. Korben (Dallas); “The Fifth Element”; Portrayed by: Bruce Willis
    Why: “Korben was the coolest guy. I mean, he had to be to pull off the bleached hair and neon orange tank top.”
  1. Maude (Lebowski); “The Big Lebowski”; Portrayed by: Julianne Moore.
    Why: “If I could be any woman in any movie, I’d be Maude Lebowski.“

If you want to see the great photos and videos that accompany the Bustle piece, click here.

Geeky Baby Names That Won’t Scar Your Girl for Life

I’m writing to let you know about an entertaining list of geeky names from comic books, pop-culture movies, TV shows, video games and books) that Chandra Smith, writing in PC Magazine, claims “won’t scar your kids or life.” Implication: the names won’t overly annoy or embarrass them.

Knowing how easily annoyed and embarrassed kids can get, once they hit the pre-teen and teen years (aka the years of perpetual annoyance and embarrassment), that’s a tough claim to substantiate.

Having lived with an unusual Sanskrit name (Chandra) that is often mispronounced, Smith tries to help parents pay tribute to geek favorites without picking names only geeks can appreciate–that your child is likely to abandon.

What’s fun about reading her list is that it is replete with pop-culture references that will fill in the gaps of your education (particularly if you read the classics in college rather than comic books and are more likely to watch classic movies than movies inspired by Marvel Comics).

But, even though Smith claims to consider issues like spelling and pronunciation that  could make a name like Leia annoying, and issues that could make a name like Kal-El embarrassing–I think that almost half  of the “geek names” she recommends might come across as either annoying or embarrassing, or both, to your children.

In this post I will provide you with Smith’s rationale for recommending what she calls “Geeky names” for girls with my opinion, in italics, for either agreeing with her choice or opposing it.

Geeky Names Your Girls May Like

Amelia – As in Pond, one of the best and most memorable of the Doctor’s companions.
BL: Also the name of a courageous pilot, Amelia Earhart.

Aurora – It’s not this Alpha Flight member’s real name, but Jeanne-Marie Beaubie takes too long to say for someone as speedy as her.
BL: Also named after Aurora, goddess of dawn (aurora borealis refers to the beautiful light show in the sky aka northern lights).

Clara – The most recent companion of the Doctor, Clara Oswald has made a name for herself throughout history.
BL: Also, famous namesake (nurse) Clara Barton, who founded the American Red Cross.

Cora – Basically the Siri of Battlestar Gallactica.
BL: Other famous namesakes are: Cora Munro, the fictional heroine of The Last of the Mohicans, by James Fenimore Cooper and Cora Crawley is a fictional character on the series Downton Abbey.

Felicity –Living up to MIT grad and member of Team Arrow Felicity Smoak is challenging but not impossible.
BL: It’s hard not to like a name that means “fortunate” or “happy.”

Peggy – Peggy Carter might have started out being best known as Captain America’s love interest but she’s her own person in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and even has her own show with Agent Carter.
BL: Nothing wrong with this nickname for Margaret.

Raven – The teen years might be tough but they’d be worth it to name a girl after the Teen Titans Go! character.
BL: A strong name, particularly for a girl with a dark complexion.

Ripley – Who’s more badass than Ellen Ripley?
BL: Makes a strong “believe it or not” impression.

River – Whether it’s after River Song from Doctor Who or River Tam from Firefly is up to you.
BL: A gender-neutral nature name.

Ruby – An object-oriented scripting language, the name was originally taken from the birthstone of the colleague of its creator Yukihiro Matsumoto.
BL: A popular name that is identified with the Rolling Stones’ song, “Ruby Tuesday.”

Sarah – A Sentinel in Fallout 3, Sarah Lyons commands her own squad, Lyons’ Pride.
BL: The classic princess name I’d recommend despite the fact that the name is sometimes spelled without an “h.”

Sonya – Special Forces officer Sonya Blade has kept her fighting spirit throughout the Mortal Kombat series.
BL: How can you go wrong with a name that means “wise”?

Willow –Buffy’s BFF who possesses both magic and intelligence.
BL: An attractive nature name that comes across as feminine.

Zelda – It’s hard not to be legendary when you’re named after Shigeru Miyamoto’s beloved video game.
BL: Also the name of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, who exemplified “The Roaring Twenties” and “The Jazz Age”; plus the name has literary cachet.
Geeky Names That May Annoy or Embarrass Your Girls

Ada – Lord Byron’s daughter was the first computer programmer, working on Charles Babbage’s Analytical Engine.
BL: Odds of mispronunciation are high. Some people pronounce it AY-da. Some pronounce it AH-da. And some pronounce it  ADD-a.

Blossom –The “everything nice” Powerpuff girl.
BL: Blossom (and the Powerpuffs) make  a juvenile impression that is less likely to work well for an adult woman.

Echo – First seen in the Daredevil comics, Echo is a woman of many talents: athlete, ballerina, pianist, college professor, and, oh, yeah, Avenger.
BL: Teasers may be inspired to echo her name or anything poor Echo says.

Fleur – We first meet Fleur Delacour when she participates in the Triwizard Tournament in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire but she proves her mettle far beyond that in the Battle of Hogwarts.
BL: The French word for flower is likely to be mispronounced FLOO-er, which, unfortunately, rhymes with sewer.

Kamala – This teenage shapeshifter is also known as Ms. Marvel.
BL: A difficult name to pronounce: Is it CA-mel-ah? Or COM-ma-lah? Or something else, altogether?

Kara – This name is sure to take off when the Supergirl series premieres this fall.
BL: This name may be pronounced either CARE-ah or CAR-ah. Only  one of those options is right.

Klara – For fans of The Hunger Games, this name hits the target.
BL: This name may be pronounced either CLARE-ah or CLAH-rah. Only one of those options is right.

Katniss – For fans of The Hunger Games, this name hits the target.
BL: This name sounds like “cat nip”; so it is likely to be misspelled by people who haven’t read the young adult book or seen the movie.

Leia – There’s no, “Leia, I am your father” line to live down.
BL: Leah (pronounced LEE-ah) is much more familiar (for spelling and pronunciation) than Leia (pronounced LAY-ah) which was popularized by Star Wars.

Leela – You won’t have to worry about her Futurama if she’s named after the captain of the Planet Express.
BL: Likely to be misspelled as “Leila” or confused with Eric Claption’s “Layla” and pronounced LAY-lah.

Teyla – Adept at technology and martial arts, Teyla Emmagan of Stargate Atlantis is prepared for life on Atlantis Earth.
BL: I doubt most people could spell this name after hearing it. It is likely to be mispronounced as TEE-lah rather than TAY-lah.

“Every Generation’s Baby Names Are the Refuse of Terrible Literature”

After spending almost a week in California (and not writing any new blog posts), I decided to get back to work and write some new posts. Just after writing yesterday’s post about Daenerys and Khaleesi, I read Alexandra Petri’s Wa Po article titled “Never mind Khaleesi” which puts fictional name fads into a historical context.

So, I’m suggesting you give it a read. I found it fun, even though I disagreed with Petri about a few names:

-When Petri writes: “Well, it can’t get worse than that horrible Edward/Jacob/Bella Twilight situation a year or so back, and then it does,” I think she’s referring to the inordinate popularity of Jacob, Bella and Edward rather than their quality as names. I think all three are fine names, though Jacob is still a top-ten boy’s name–so I’d avoid it for that reason.

-I enjoyed Petri’s comment about Paisley, “This is like naming your child Terrible Tie Pattern or Ugly Scarf.” However, I like Paisley as a name for girls (because I remember wearing paisley ties in the 60s and liking them). Unfortunately, Northern Ireland’s Ian Paisley is an awful namesake (from human rights perspective).

-Petri “prefers Paris to Londyn but not if you’re going to spell it Parys.” In my view, Londyn and other names that substitute “y”s for other vowels invite people to misspell the name and make the child wish her parents had been more considerate.

-Petri also had some good news: “Baby Anastasias stayed relatively stable in the years following the publication of 50 Shades of Grey, and the number of Baby Christians actually went DOWN from 2011 to 2012.” And, in better news, “This is the first year Adolph did not chart!”

-Petri complained about parents’ disinclination to spell Zachary (or even Elvis) properly. I agree completely.

-And finally, I love this comment from Petri about baby names:” Every generation’s baby names are the refuse of terrible literature. It is a tradition of long standing.”

 

 

 

Surprise: “Game of Thrones” Fans are Naming Daughters Daenerys and Khaleesi (as Well as Arya)

It’s no surprise that “Game of Thrones” fans are making Arya a fast-rising name. Last year more than 700 Throne’s fans gave that name to their own daughters in 2012, according to WTOP.com. What is surprising is that Thrones fans would also name their daughters Daenerys and Khaleesi even though both names will be difficult to spell and pronounce for anyone who is not a “Game of Thrones” fan. A moment’s thought about the practical problems with both Daenerys and Khaleesi is all it would take to realize that daughters given those names are likely to grow up hating them.

Arya sounds like Aria (a solo vocal piece with instrumental music from an opera) and won’t be completely mystifying to the uninitiated. But Daenerys and Khaleesi (a name I’ve already misspelled 3 times in the process of writing this article)  are likely to confuse and mystify anyone who’s not a big fan of the show. The increasing popularity of those impractical and burdensome names demonstrates just how far parents can be influenced by the effect of a popular TV show, movie or book.

Another suddenly popular name, Katniss (the protagonist of the Hunger Games) is also likely to confuse anyone not familiar with the book or movie. Unfortunately, Katniss sounds like catnip. Parents who get swept along by their strong feelings for fictional characters can be helped by spouses, partners, friends and relatives willing to call their attention to the practical realities of living with names that are likely to be misunderstood and mangled by most people who read or hear them.

How Madison Rose from a Movie “Joke” 30 Years Ago to Top-Ten Popularity

Kevin Polowy’s article on Yahoo Movies tells the entertaining story of how the name Madison started as a joke in the movie, “Splash” starring Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah as a mermaid.

“Splash” was released 30 years ago on March 9, 1984. According to baby-name expert, Joal Ryan,

Madison was nowhere on the radar as a girl name until 1985 — a year after the release of ‘Splash.’ So, there definitely seems to be a connection there, especially since there’s no other major female Madison, either real or fictional, who was out there as a role model.

The name took off as soon as the movie came out. It showed up in Social Security Administration popularity statistics in 1985. By 1990, it was ranked at #216. By 1995, it had zoomed up to #29. And by 2000 it was the #3 most popular girl’s name in the U.S. The popularity of Madison ranked among the top-five girls’ names from 2000 until 2008. And in 2012 Madison was still among the top-ten names for girls, ranked at #9. Madison is one of the most classic illustrations of the effect of movies (or mass media) on baby-name popularity.

Now that you know how the name Madison was launched by Darryl Hannah’s character in “Splash” and how popular it has become, here’s how Hannah explains the “joke.”

The whole point of me choosing that name was because it [was such a] silly name. Obviously everyone knew it as the name of the street [Madison Avenue]. No one really saw it as a first name and that was a joke. And now, of course it’s not funny at all. It’s just like, Oh, what a beautiful name!’ … It was funny at the time and now it’s not even ironic.

As I write this post, I’m aware of the fact that I advise parents against giving babies “joke” names, because it’s highly likely that the joke will be on the baby (and ultimately, the parents who will have to pay for the child’s therapy). Madison proves that some “joke names” can turn out well for the child (and the parents).