Happy New Year, everyone! Let’s kick things off with some name quotes…
From a 2009 article about Microsoft executive J Allard in Boston University’s alumni magazine Bostonia:
Allard still loves video games (his all-time favorite is “Robotron”). And even his name (legally changed from James) is an homage to computers. In the late 1980s, he explains, “it was my log-in on all of the computer systems at school, and it stuck.”
From a BBC article about Doug Bowser becoming president of Nintendo of America in 2019:
In what is surely one of the most charming cases of nominative determinism ever, it has been announced the new head of Nintendo of America will be a man named Doug Bowser.
Bowser, as Nintendo fans will know all too well, has long been Super Mario’s main nemesis — a foe who, for more than three decades now, routinely kidnapped Mario’s girlfriend, Princess Peach.
Mr. Bowser will take over in April from retiring Reggie Fils-Aime, a highly popular figure among Nintendo fans.
“With a name like Bowser, who better to hold the keys to the Nintendo castle?” Mr. Fils-Aime said about his successor in a video message posted on Twitter on Thursday.
From an AP news story about the origin of Armand Hammer’s name:
Industrialist Armand Hammer often said he was named after Armand Duval, the hero in Alexandre Dumas’ play “Camille.”
But he conceded later that his father, a socialist, also had in mind the arm-and-hammer symbol of the Socialist Labor Party.
For years, people erroneously thought Hammer was connected to the company that makes Arm & Hammer baking soda.
From an essay about Island Cemetery (on Block Island, in Rhode Island) by Martha Ball:
The cemetery, our own City on a Hill, has always been a place of enchantment, holding stones lacking uniformity even within the same lot, bearing names alien to our time; Philamon Galusha, Icivilli, Darius. It is enhanced by an awareness of the sheer physical accomplishment it embodies, a steep slope terraced long before we had today’s array of earth moving equipment.
[Neither Darius Rucker nor I would agree that the name Darius is “alien to our time.” Looking over the other names at Island Cemetery, I saw all the expected Biblical entries (Peleg, Obed, Barzilla; Zilpah, Huldah, Hepzebah), plenty of fanciful feminines (Lucretia, Cordelia, Sophronia), and a few references to current events: a Martin VanBuren born in 1839, a Cassius Clay born in 1854, an Elsworth (middle name) born in 1861, an Ambrose Everett born in 1862, and a Ulysses born in 1868.]
From an article about early Soviet film director Dziga Vertov at Russia Beyond:
Vertov’s real name was David Kaufman, which unambiguously points to his Jewish origin. But the desire of the talented youth from Bialystok (at the time part of the Russian Empire, today Poland) to change his surname upon arrival in Moscow was unlikely to have been due to anti-Semitism — in the 1920s it was not as developed as in the 1950s. Vertov, like many avant-garde artists, probably just chose a new name to herald “a new life.”
In Ukrainian dziga means whirligig, spinning top, while vertov comes from the verb vertet (to spin). The two form something like “the spinning whirligig,” a name that was entirely fitting for the man who bore it.
From a recent interview with Chrishell Stause of the reality TV show Selling Sunset at Vulture.com:
I was not born in a Shell station. I hate to disappoint people that think I was. My mom was getting car work done, and an attendant at the station was helping her and keeping her calm. Obviously she couldn’t drive to the hospital then, so the ambulance came. I made it to the hospital, but she wanted to name me after him. He worked at the Shell station, so she just thought “Chris, shell” — let’s stick them together. And you know, Chrishell was born, quite literally.
From a short article called “Americana: Zany Zach” published in Time magazine in 1979:
Move over, Zeke Zzzypt of Chicago and Vladimir Zzzyd of Miami. Few have proved more zealous in trying to be the last personal name in a local telephone book than Zachary Zzzzzzzzzra, who has brought up the rear of San Francisco’s directory for eight of the past 15 years. Several years ago, when he was just plain Zachary Zzzra, Zzzzzzzzzra discovered to his sorrow that he had been zapped from last place by Zelda Zzzwramp, and so he added another z to his name. Last year, as Zzzzra, he was infuriated when he lost put to Vladimir Zzzzzzabakov. This year, tie outztripped all rivals by becoming Zzzzzzzzzra and once again won the last word.
“Zachary Zzzzzzzzzra” was actually a painting contractor named Bill Holland. He used “his telephone name as an advertising gimmick, telling potential customers to look him up in the back of the book in stead of handing out business cards.”