Friday, August 5, 2011

The Name Game

Names are fun.
- end post -
No, but really now. The great fun in naming your characters is that you can chose a suitable name for a fully-formed adult. In real life, Eugene Schwab may grow up to be an Ultimate Fighter, and Rock Hardshanks may end up an actuary. Although, come to think of it, that's pretty unlikely. There's a certain amount of manifest destiny in a name, I think.

I remember an episode of Airwolf (yeah, you heard me right) - where the main character, Stringfellow Hawke, (*snort*) is talking about how pretty girls always have pretty girl names. Wait. That doesn't sound like ol' Stringy. On second thought, it was probably Riptide. (I get those 80's helicopter-centric action shows mixed up.) Anyway, his point is proven again and again throughout the episode when every gorgeous girl they meet is a Vanessa or a Gabrielle, and every plain Jane is... well, just that. The reason why this sticks in my mind is that one of the beautiful woman they meet is named, you guessed it, "Claudia."

I'm a Claudia, and I love my name. It's quite rare in the U.S., rare enough that it was a bit torturesome to wield it as a child, but well worth it in the end - so thanks Mom and Dad!
We as authors have less responsibility to our characters in naming them, which is deliiiicious. We can call a guy, oh, say, Severus Snape: a horribly cruel appellation for a child, but a fantastic name for a morally ambiguous wizard.

J.K. Rowling, the creator of Harry Potter and the aforementioned Snape, is a genius with names, although sometimes she can get a little too literal. This is fine, and even humorous when she's dealing with minor characters like Professor Sprout (Herbology teacher) or Adalbert Waffling (author of "Magical Theory"), but when it comes to a major character like Remus Lupin, the literalness of his name not only defies logic, it's also a spoiler. And speaking of which.... SPOILER ALERT, (but not really if you've ever taken Latin or studied mythology), Remus Lupin is a werewolf. But he wasn't born a werewolf, he was bitten as a child. How bizarre that he was given a name that pretty much translates as "Wolf Child McWolferstien Van Wolfysnout," and THEN LATER was turned into a werewolf! Quelle Coincidence! But I get it, Rowling's being sly, and I forgive her, because she's Queen Awesome, and also came up with the names Cornelius Fudge, Belletrix LeStrange and Neville Longbottom.

someone aged well

So then, here are some of my favorite names. Let's make this a game, shall we? I'll give the name, you provide the book, movie, or T.V. show from whence the character hails. Some of these will be easy peasy. For obvious reasons, I've left out names that are also titles. (Indiana Jones, Austin Powers, Sweeny Todd...)
No interwebs, please. Answer in comments below!

1. Popeye Doyle
2. Travis Bickle
3. Sarafina Pekkala
4. Elinor Dashwood
5. Zaphod Beeblebrox
6. Angus Thermopyle
7. George Bailey
8. Malcom Reynolds
9. Mad Sweeny
10. Salacious B. Crumb
11. Atticus Finch
12. Corky St. Clair
13. Raleigh St. Clair
14. Jerry Lundegaard
15. Inigo Montoya
16. Holly Golightly
17. Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps (pronounced "Fungy Fipps")
18. Brian Crookshanks
19. Archie Leach (this is a famous person's real name and a character name)
20. Charlotte Haze

If you want to guess without reading other people's guesses, post below before you read others' comments!
And what are your favorite character names?


Surprised by Witches said...

I'm always up for a quiz, but I think I only know the easy ones without cheating. Some of the others sound SO familiar . . . but I can't place them.
1. Popeye Doyle: Bastard child of a sailor and an Angel character?
2. Travis Bickle: Taxi Driver
3. Sarafina Pekkala: Not sure but she should sue her parents.
4. Elinor Dashwood: Sense and Sensibility
5. Zaphod Beeblebrox: Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
6. Angus Thermopyle: Treasure Planet?
7. George Bailey: It's a Wonderful Life
8. Malcom Reynolds: Firefly/Serentiy (sigh)
9. Mad Sweeny: It's a mad, mad, Sweeny world. Everyone knows that.
10. Salacious B. Crumb: I want to say the works of Lemony Snicket. Am I close?
11. Atticus Finch: To Kill a Mockingbird
12. Corky St. Clair: Waiting for Guffman?
13. Raleigh St. Clair: Corky's less annoying brother?
14. Jerry Lundegaard: Fargo
15. Inigo Montoya: Princess Bride
16. Holly Golightly: Breakfast at Tiffany's
17. Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps (pronounced "Fungy Fipps"): Not sure but I'm betting P. D. Wodehouse wrote it.
18. Brian Crookshanks: I'm guessing this is not the cat?
19. Archie Leach (this is a famous person's real name and a character name): A Fish Called Wanda/Cary Grant
20. Charlotte Haze: Jimmy Hendrix's illegitimate child?

And, hmmm, some of my favorite names:

Thursday Next
Sirius Black
Cad Bane
Emma Woodhouse
The fact that one of Dumbledore's middle names is Brian.
Indiana Jones, and the fact that his real name is Henry.

Ugh. I have Friday brain. I know I've seen other cool names but I can't think of any right now. I've made a few I'm proud of: does that count?

Shawn Enderlin said...

Fun post Claudia! We needed a breath of fresh air around here after my super serious last post. :-)

I will pass on the game (cuz I suck) but there are some great names out there. Ender Wiggen comes to mind right away. Roland Deschain. Tasslehoff Burrfoot. Obi Wan Kenobi. Buffy Summers. James Tiberious Kirk. And I know there are more...

(Hoping my phone lets this one post!)

Jon said...

"How bizarre that he was given a name that pretty much translates as "Wolf Child McWolferstien Van Wolfysnout," and THEN LATER was turned into a werewolf! Quelle Coincidence!"

I hear ya'. It's like that poor son of a bitch Lou Gehrig... Talk about bad luck, huh?

Jon said...

A quiz, you say... Well then.

1. Popeye Doyle-Gene Hackman in the French Connection
2. Travis Bickle-Bobby Deniro in Taxi Driver
3. Sarafina Pekkala-This one threw me at first, but then I remembered-Golden Compass
4. Elinor Dashwood-I'm not sure of the source, but wasn't she an anarchist vigilante from the 20s? I'm pretty sure that's right.
5. Zaphod Beeblebrox-Hitchiker's
6. Angus Thermopyle-This name is made up.
7. George Bailey-it's a wonderful life
8. Malcom Reynolds-Browncoat and proud
9. Mad Sweeny-Sweeny Todd?
10. Salacious B. Crumb-Is his middle name really "B"? I did not know that
11. Atticus Finch-I once played Dill in a community theatre production of this. I was glorious.
12. Corky St. Clair-speaking of glorious. "I hate you and I hate your stupid ass face!"
13. Raleigh St. Clair-Oh, Bill, you sad clown, you
14. Jerry Lundegaard-oh jeez
15. Inigo Montoya-prepare to die
16. Holly Golightly-moon river
17. Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps (pronounced "Fungy Fipps")- uhhhh-ppppphhhbbbtt (pronounced "Beats me"
18. Brian Crookshanks-very familiar, but I can't place it.
19. Archie Leach (this is a famous person's real name and a character name)-Don't call me stupid
20. Charlotte Haze-Lolita

Some of my favorite names (just 10, not a top ten):
1. Obi-wan Kenobi
2. Indiana Jones
3. Sandor Clegane
4. Marty McFly
5. James Howlett
6. Veronica Mars
7. Peter Venkman
8. Rooster Cogburn
9. Olivia Dunham
10. Anton Chigurh

Isabella said...

just one. phineas t. bluster

Qlaudie said...

Excellent. Folks have sussed out the truth on many of them. No one has gotten 6,9 or 18 - and Rachel has the correct author on 17.
Of course Jon just cleverly alluded to the answers on several.
Marty McFly is a great one - and I forgot Thursday Next! One of my faves too.
I'll post all the official answers in a few days, after other people have had a chance to weigh in.

Mark Teats said...

#9.... is a character of Irish legend... a Leprechaun, more or less, I think. I'm reading a book right now that features him as a character (although he's only made one appearance in the book so far).

Fun post. I knew about 1/2 of the characters you featured.

Jonathan said...

6. Angus Thermopyle: THERMO-pile! From Donaldson's Gap Series

Qlaudie said...

Excellent, Jonathan, you're the only one to get that!