Friday, January 23, 2009

More on Names: Greatest Hits from Broome County Hospitals

Sorry, folks, I'm stuck here. Cannot stop thinking about names, so thought I'd share some fun with you. I discovered that all the local hospitals (OK, so there are only 2 of them) actually publish, and even archive, birth announcements. I have looked through zillions and zillions of them from years past, all the while developing a mental "DO NOT NAME" list.

These birth announcements, of course, become a treasure trove of actual name data. Not stuff you heard a rumor about- these are REAL names. I have done the favor of culling through them and finding the greatest hits. I have excluded ethnic names, since every culture has its own names that are appropriate for it. Below are names that are just . . . sweet. For various reasons. Have fun:

Aidan and friends
I knew that what had started as a nice Irish boy's name- Aidan- had spawned an unbelievable amount of offspring. I just wasn't quite prepared for A) people's, uhm, creativity(?) with the name or B) the huge percentage of names - both for boys and girls- represented by these. Let's visit with Aidan and some of his friends, shall we?

A: Aaiden Amari Andrew (guaranteed to be "first in his class" . . . at least, alphabetically that is!), Aadyn, Ayden, Aden, Adin, Adon, Aiden
B: Braden, Braedon, Braeden, Brayden, Breydon, Breyden
C: Caeden, Caiden, Cayden
D: Drayden
G: Grayden
H: Hayden, Haidyn, Haydn
J: Jaden, Jaedyn, Jaiden, Jaidan, Jaedan, Jayden, Jaydin, Jaidyn, Ja'Dyn, Jaydrien
K: Kadin (Mace), Kadan (Uriah), Kadin, Kaiden, Kaden
P: Payton, Peyton, Payden
R: Raydin

Where dad got involved in the naming process
Jack Nicholas
Nolan Ryan
Jonathan Zeus
Caleb Espn (yes! the Southern Tier has its very own ESPN child!)
Blaze (and there are three little fires running around this county!)

When you can't decide, hyphenate! Does each parent have a faaaabulous name and they can't compromise? Why use adult negotiating skills to narrow the field and arrive at a normal name, when the hyphen is your friend!!
Belinda-Verginya Rose
Etana Marisa-Ann
Malayah Dawn-Kathleen
Zaniyah Amoy-Mary
Jeramyah Nasir-Marceillo
Kaylee-Lynn Princess-Marie
Destini Jaylee-Cheri
Zezra-Anne Sue
Allayah Mahkenzi-Beyonce
Jayden Jazspher-Jousalynn
Lyrik Violet-Leilani

Names I had (past tense) thought were reasonably cool until reading this list
Cadence (which, it was clear, had crossed over into "unacceptable" when I noticed all the variant spellings: Kadence, Kaydence, Kadience, Kaidence, Caedynce, Caydence)

Names that paint a portrait
Savannah Skye, Jade Sky, Autumn Sky, (and the bummer) Shadow Skies
Serenity Midnight
Sincerity Storm (sounds like the flurry of words that results when a guy is trying to apologize to his girlfriend for cheating on her or something)
Dakota Stream
Autumn Rayne
Ariel Sage (something you tie to your car antenna for good luck?)
Violet Olive (guhROSS! Sounds like something you find in the back of the fridge in a frat house bar)

David & Gereudale (huh?)
Tanner and Cooper (not bad names, just really great tradesman names: a leather worker and a barrel maker!)
Mason & Sawyer (same as above, but this time it's a bricklayer and a saw-man)

Haveen Helwa (Heaven & Hell?)
Shamus Angelo (they are going for the phonetic of "Seamus" but it looks like "Shame Us," which is perhaps offset by the "Angel" reference in the second part?)
Lady Lian (Lady Lying? Lady Lion? it's all bad)

"I'd like to buy a vowel, please?"
Hunter Mckhi
Zoe Snn

Curve Balls
Neveah (yes, it's "heaven" spelled backward and it has become so popular in very recent years that it was the fourth most common name for girls in New Mexico in 2007. Don't ask . . . )
Precious (really? and no middle name)
Zavier Zidane
Michelangelo (No middle name, which seems acceptable since they maximized the first name. At least they spelled it correctly.)
Jah-Ken Stefon
Phallon Maire (the first name sounds like "phallus" to me, and the second . . . a horse?)
Jaeliegh Hope (As in, "I hope she stays out of jail"?)
Miley Euphrades (with such a fluffy first name - as in Miley Cyrus- who would have expected the oppressively heavy middle name? the only expected part is that . . . it's spelled wrong.)
Nastmixxa (that is a great hip-hop/DJ name!)
Da'Shine La'Fresh

Champagne wishes and caviar dreams . . .
Kysheem Gucci (the only "Gucci" within 150 miles of here is the knockoff purses that people bring home from NYC)
Chanel Diamond

Sorry, what was that name again?
Zicciah Clinton
Ke'aylah Lizandre Rosa
Jy-lijah Tito (mom is named Cassiopeia, so this one seems to be keeping with tradition, in a way)
Hosamulhaq (try googling that one!)

When in doubt, just misspell it. That's sure to make it "unique"!

All Stars
Amiah Precious (I don't know, are you?)
Amiah Angel (same question)
Michelangelo (luckily there is a LOT packed into the first name, since there's no middle name. But needs one, really, with a first name like that?)
Danny Supreme (sounds like a tasty deli sandwich!)
Heavenly Dreama-Mary
Jaquoia Hopes Blessing
Darker Selwyn
ZyMail (fascinating to think about what kind of "mail" that would be)

Best name EVER
Unique Leygh (really? Just like mom???)

The biggest surprise? I found myself shocked- SHOCKED!- when I ran across a baby named . . . John. John, the top ten of boys names for a century, now made a single appearance as John William. Ahhhh, after all of that, how refreshing.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


Disclaimer: People have strong opinions- and emotions- associated with certain names. The following is not intended to offend the reader or judge the namer. I just report the facts! Now, on with the show . . .

If you've had any contact with me for the past couple of months, chance are good that I've bored you with talk about my favorite topic: BABY NAMES. I've been pretty obsessed with them as the pregnancy chugs along, probably because they are a far less stressful topic to read up on than things like breast feeding and diaper changing (guh-ROSS!) I have become something of an expert, not only on the specific top names, but on the latest trends in baby-naming (so they can be avoided, as necessary). Sadly, I even know the top names by country.

For example, in England, the name "Lettice" is climbing fast. It took me ages to figure out that this name is most likely pronounced "Letitia." Oops! Yes, friends, danger lurks in baby-naming-land. If you want to play it safe, name your son "Jack," since it has held the #1 (or close to it) position in the UK, Ireland, and Australia, and it is becoming ubiquitous in America.

Because our last name is the 3rd most common in the United States, it is particularly important to us to avoid the most common first names, but obviously not pick a name that is so unusual that it brands the kids as freaks, right? Hence our challenge. Since I've become such a repository of info, here is the baby name tutorial:

Some trends, historically speaking:

Boys' names, finally branching out: For most of the 20th century, boys names exhibited hardly any diversity. You know these "usual suspects": John, James, Michael, Thomas, Robert, Frank, etc. A hundred years ago, these names each controlled up to 5% of the baby name market, whereas now the top boy name controls just over 1%. This lack of diversity is explained by the tendency to pass on male names (i.e., junior) and the fact that men's names are seen as sources of family tradition and lineage. Starting about 30 years ago (and probably partly due to changing immigration trends), boys names started to diversify to the point that for-decades-top-5-John is now barely hanging on to the Top 20. Expanded By contrast, girls names are much more subject to ever-changing ideas of beauty, whether it be gem stones (Ruby, Pearl, Opal) or flowers (Violet, Daisy).

Girls names: Hot, then not: Girls names have tended to become wildly popular, shooting to the #1 or #2 spot, then dramatically falling out of favor, for no apparent reason. As a result, some names allow you to practically carbon-date the owner (sorry, ladies- we didn't name ourselves, right?) Some examples:

Minnie (1880s)
Dorothy (1920s)
Marilyn (1930s)
Judith, Carol (1940s)
Linda (1950s)
Lisa (1960s)
Jennifer (1970s, 1980s)

The 1970s/80s: Back to Nature: This era brought the earth-mother out, as people looked to nature for inspiration and came up with: Dawn, Heather, Crystal, Ginger.

Recent Trends:

Place Names: Starting in the 1980s, it's as though the country cashed in its frequent flyer miles. From exotic locales (London, Paris, India), to U.S. states (Dakota, Montana) to the downright familiar (Brooklyn- the 57th most common name, nationally, but, interestingly, not to be found on the NYC registry- they must have been there and known it is not a place you want to name your precious baby girl after!)

Cutting Edge Trends:
Nouns: Apple, Satchel, Story, Sonnet, River

Granny-cool: (Note: many of these overlap with the below-listed "Colors"): These are the names that were hot hot hot at the turn of the last century: Grace, Lily, Eve, Anna, Ivy.

Colors: Violet, Ruby, Scarlett and even Cerulean (I don't even know what color this is).

I am going to stop here because A) I could go on forever and B) I'm getting bored!
You might be wondering what the pizza-baby photo has to do with this entry. The answer? Absolutely nothing. However, if you want to play "name this baby," particularly using any of the tools above, that would be fun, too. How about "Crispin"? or "Swaddle"?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Eating My Way through Downtown L.A. . . .

If you are reading this blog, you are probably A) a blood relative and/or B) close enough to know that I'm pregnant (due in April, don't know the gender, thanks for asking). So it should not be surprising that I'm a bit food-obsessed lately. Not only because I'm hungry all the time, but also because, at this stage in the game, you can actually influence their palate.

I would prefer that my children have a broad world view, and this includes being open-minded about food. Unfortunately, Binghamton is not exactly the place to indulge the taste for global cuisine, so I was on a mission during my trip home to LA for Christmas. But I took it beyond having dim sum for breakfast at 7:30 am in Chinatown and doner kebabs in the Jewelry District for late lunch.

Above is a photo of sausages we tried at a brand-spanking-new sausage/fries/beer joint called Wurstkuche, in the Arts District (of course). To call it a "restaurant" is not really fair, because it is more of a teleportation device, transporting the customer to modern-day Berlin or something. Very euro and very cool.

But, in my current condition, I couldn't just order off the "Classics" or even the "Gourmet" section of the menu. No, I had to go for the "Exotics." And that descriptor is not an overstatement. During my trip home, I sampled the Alligator & Pork sausage (a tiny bit fishy) and the Duck & Bacon (it's so right, it can't be wrong). But the best one, and the thing that gave me happy dreams that night, was actually the Rattlesnake & Rabbit with Jalapeno Peppers sausage. There is something about rattlesnakes and rabbits that just goes together- possibly because they inhabit the same ecosystem. Anyway, strongly recommend that one, and the place in general. I went three times in four days!

Below is a photo of the famous Bacon Donut that I'd previously written about, but finally got to taste. The best part is that it's covered in maple syrup. So decadent. Not my speed, but I'm still glad it exists. Now that I'm thinking about it, I may regret my gustatory exploits at this stage of the pregnancy. The twins may emerge with a hankering for boneless chicken feet!

NYC public comment

I have been terrible about blogging lately, partly because I am distracted by other things, and partly because wintertime is a period of intense hibernation- I just don't get out much!

We went to NYC every weekend leading up to Christmas, however, and I had intended to write about some of the things I found there. I can't remember the brilliant blog I was going to write about this photo, so I'll just post it and give a brief caption. It says:

"Bring Back our Wreath, BITCHES! . . . who steals a wreath? . . . really?"

This was posted on the front door of a hipster bar in the Lower East Side, and the message just made me laugh. So poignant. So true.