The Baystate Objectivist

The Baystate Objectivist

Thursday, June 7, 2007

What's in a Name?

There's a too overlooked blog that's part of the Valley Advocate website that I've been wanting to draw your attention to, it's called Masculinity and its Discontents. It's written more in a discussion group style than bloggy, with two moderator/contributors in Daniel Oppenheimer and UMass professor and businessman Jamie Berger. Daniel, a former Valley Advocate writer and all-around culture maven who now resides in the noble state of Texas, seems to post the most, perhaps because he has a lot going on to post about - in particular the recent birth of his daughter Jolie. Here's a picture of Dad and baby Jolie.

The way the blog works is Jamie or Dan post on a subject, and then a bunch of people pipe in and in the end nothing ever seems to be settled but lots of interesting ideas have been raised. For example, consider one recent post from Daniel about the second thoughts he and his wife are having about hypenating Jolie's name. After all, Oppenheimer by itself is not a short name, and while his wife's good Irish maiden name of Grogan is of average length, when you combine the two it is indeed quite a troublesome moniker, and not just because it isn't a very poetic one. It's easy to imagine poor Jolie sitting at the kitchen table four years hence, crying her eyes out in frustration as she tries to learn to spell her name so that she can go to kindergarten. Perhaps she would be screaming at her parents, in a voice filled with trauma that will require hundreds of hours of future therapy to resolve, "Why can't my last name be Smith or Jones!!" As Daddy himself writes:

All of this we knew when we decided to hyphenate, but it’s one thing to make such a decision in the abstract, before the kid is born, and it’s another, as we’re rapidly discovering, to live with such a name. It sucks to spell it out on the phone to various bureaucrats, always feeling obligated to preface it with “this is a long one.” It sucks to cram it into the space on various forms which was created to allow for your typical 11-letter long name—Oppenheimer, say—but not for a 17-letter (18-character) name.

Maybe the worst thing is just looking at our beautiful daughter’s first and middle names, Jolie Marybeth, which are distinct and lovely and in memory of our friend Marybeth, and seeing how the last name overwhelms them.

So we’re thinking that we’re going to change it.

But to what? If you want to put your two cents in, or just check out this cool, cutting edge blog, then go here. You'll even find me posting there on occasion, and not being restrained as I am here by the content standards imposed upon me by Google Adsense, I can get down and dirty with the queer shit.

Last weekend there was a big to-do on the Amherst Town Common in the form of an international crafts fair. I knew it would be a pretty cool affair when I saw this symbol of the Grateful Dead.

Nothing evil can happen beneath the banner of the Grateful Dead.

I paused to check out this old Indian telling stories.

The stories were simple parables, but not without wisdom.

Finally, here is a video I made of some Ecuadorian flute players at the event, and shows how a child and an acid casualty grooved to the sounds.


jamie said...

Yo, Tommy, thanks for the props. To be clear, though, I'm not a professor, just a grad student who teaches. And I've never been called a "businessman" before, but I guess I can't deny I'm starting a business, even if it happens to be a saloon.

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