Names

Driving north on the I-5 yesterday, we passed a truck hauling a boat. The boat’s name, displayed prominently on the stern, was Current Toy, which is a marvelous name for a boat. Seeing it made me think about names in general. I’m one of those guys who has trouble with names. People I’ve seen in town for years, and know as casual acquaintances, I have trouble with their names. Heck, people I’ve worked with for years I sometimes fuzz out on their names. It can be embarrassing. And books, well, forget it. I barely manage to keep track of character names during the course of reading a novel. No way I can recall them after I’ve finished the book. This is even true of books I’ve written.

My good friend Nenad Dragicevic is a sly inventor of names. His sequence of bestiary posts from my old CR blog displays his inventiveness to good effect. Readers of that old blog may recall some of my own strange names: Dandelion Streetscape, Rainmaker Thirdgear, Coldkey Pianobones, Bitpart Stripmine, Corkscrew Speakeasy, and so on. I liked making them up, and they helped me kick start my imagination for some of my more bizarre scenarios.

One evening a few years ago I suddenly got this urge to make up a bunch of them. I spent two or three hours just writing down juxtapositions of everday things that might become names. I raided that list for many of my CR posts. Here’s most of the ones I didn’t use.

moviestar
brokenglass
bifocal
kickstand
doorknob
thebigone
phosphene
picnicants
lawnmower
laserprinter
farmland
phonecall
crackedelbow
magicmarker
waspnest
cheekbone
pipestem
birdfeeder
upperhand
slipcase
lossleader
redlight
doubleslit
dirtroad
blackhills
wirehanger
floodlight
hideaway
jailcell
friedegg
splitend
mailbox
bluestate
rockbottom
rockingchair
skidcontrol
broomhandle
diningcar
lampost
snowflake
rooftile
middenpile
devilnose
packedhouse
seatbelt
eardrum
trafficjam
flattire
crossbreed
widowmaker
backpack
beanbag
chainlock
pushbroom
flipflap
handlebar
chairleg
forktongue
checkerboard
cuphandle
frontallobe
frayededge
cheesecloth
curlingiron
musketcharge
exactchange
passinglane
smalltown
towtruck
shoulderblade
tissuepaper
speedzone
heartbreak
clothesline
afterlife
fallback
springahead
mercywood
bellringer
pottingsoil
sheetrock
guardduty
filmvault
smokestack
punchdrunk
afterimage
moustrap
elementaryparticle
mutebutton
thoughtballoon
cheesegrater
lobstertail
fireplace
trainingwheels
cornfield
neonsign
curtainrod
trapdoor
dustjacket
wateringcan
sneakerwave
feedback
afterimage
highbeam
dealbreaker
leadpencil
nametag
middleman
yesman
gemstone
meltingpot
gradschool
logcabin
bluebook
carpool
roadkill
greasyspoon
overeasy

If you want to make up your own weird CR name, it’s real easy. Just take two items from the list and put them together. Thus: Bluestate Diningcar would be a great name for a traveling sales person. Or Chainlock Forktongue could be the name of an introverted doctor. Yes, this is the way I sometimes amuse myself, and I make no excuses for it.

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