“This is Marketplace”

True confession: I have a voice fetish. A charming accent, a well-placed glottal stop, a deep and smoky whisper… these things undo me. The right voice could almost make me vote Republican. Almost.

Fortunately, when I’m in the throes of voice withdrawal for whatever reason, I know that help is on the way in the form of NPR’s Kai Ryssdal, the host of their weekday program called Marketplace.

Incidentally, is it a job requirement that you have to have an unusual name to work for NPR? Just wondering. I mean, Ira Flatow, John Hockenberry, Tom and Ray Magliozzi, Andrei Codrescu, Joe Bevilacqua, Jad Abumrad, Hyunh Burritoso, Mandalit del Barco, Corey Flintoff, David Folkenflik, Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, Yuki Noguchi, Sylvia Poggioli, Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, Shankar Vedantam, Doualy Xaykaothao, Lakshmi Singh, and whatever happened to Snigdha Prakash?

But I digress. Where were we? Oh, yeah. Voice fetish. In the opener, just before the music swells, Kai says “This is Marketplace” and you can just hear the sexy smile in his voice. It makes me want to pull off the road and take a cold shower. That’s all I need. After that, I’m good for at least 24 hours.

I’ve comforted myself with the assumption that this guy probably has a face for radio. Surely he can’t be as gorgeous as his voice. No way. Impossible. The gods do not rain that much favor down upon one individual. But in looking for a picture for this blog post I see that, no, yowza… the voice definitely fits the face. Why he’s not on TV is beyond me.

Hoo. I need to go home and kiss my husband. Like… immediately. (And his voice and good looks are nothing to sneeze at, either. How lucky am I?)

Now, don’t even get me started on Morgan Freeman or Sam Elliott…

Kai Ryssdal
Kai Ryssdal

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The First Word

While relaxing on my back porch the other day, with my dog in my lap and the sun in my eyes, I allowed my mind to drift in lazy spirals. Talk about the epitome of privilege. Doing nothing. If this were the 1800’s, I’d be out there chopping wood for the winter. Anyway.

I have always been fascinated with firsts. I once wrote a post entitled, Who Was the First Person to Think Lobster Would be Good to Eat(Whomever it was, bless him or her.)

Following that tangent, it occurred to me that someone had to be the first person to utter a word. Who was it? And what distinguishes a word from a grunt? For my purposes, let’s define a word as a name for something or someone or a concept. (I know that’s overly simplistic, but hey, it works for me as I bask in the sun.)

So, did some adult suddenly realize there was value in being able to name things, or was a baby’s first word the first word? If it was a baby, the word was probably some form of Ma, as it usually is. Ma is kind of the sound you make when enjoying mother’s milk. Ma is the source of food, after all, and food is critical to survival.  So that’s a possibility.

But what if the first word came from an adult? What would it be? What could have been so important that it would cause one to bridge that societal gap? Perhaps some simplistic form of “Saber Toothed Tiger.” Or simply, “Run!”

Whatever the word was, I wonder if its speaker realized that this was a huge deal. By making that sound he or she was destined to change the world. Even this humble blog wouldn’t have been possible without that person.

Given our inherent selfishness, especially when faced with survival, the word could have been “mine,” or “give”. I doubt it would have been anything as complex as “love”, because how could you possibly be sure that love meant the same thing to you as it does to the next person?

Hmmm… maybe it was love, after all.


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A Fever of Stingrays

I just heard on the radio that a group of stingrays is called a “fever”. I don’t know why, but that just makes me really happy. I love how creative our language can be.

But it makes you wonder, who got to decide the “official” name for each grouping of animals? Was it a person? A committee? If so, that had to be the most delightful job in the world. (I think that’s the only occupation that’s cooler than my own.)

I can just imagine some people sitting around a table in silence, and then one of them perks up and says, “I know! Let’s call it a Tower of Giraffes!”

After general chuckling, someone else says, “Motion carried!”

Brilliant. And it’s quite obvious that this person or group had a lovely sense of humor. How else would they come up with a Confusion of Guinea Fowl or an Intrusion of Cockroaches? How about a Rhumba of Rattlesnakes? A Wisdom of Wombats?

I feel like jumping on the bandwagon, so I am coining a phrase that I can’t seem to find anywhere on the internet. Let it be known throughout the land that henceforth a group of Bloggers shall be called a Rambling.

A Rambling of Bloggers. Yup. I quite like that.


Naming Things

I just adopted a new dog, and I’ve named him Quagmire, because he seems to be getting me out of an emotional one. In fact, he’s filled my life with joy, so you’d think I’d be kind enough not to saddle him with a ridiculous name. But no.


This made me think about the act of naming something. It’s a huge responsibility that shouldn’t be taken lightly. Once something has a name, it’s pretty much stuck with it for all eternity. It becomes part of how we perceive that thing. It influences our ability to take that thing seriously.

For example, the Rocky Mountain pussytoes is a pretty little flower, but it invariably makes me giggle. Seeing a yellow-bellied sapsucker produces the same result. And who would want to live in a town called Two Egg?

Some names are so weird that they’re rarely used, thus defeating their purpose. These include nacarat, which is the name of a bright orange-red color; linsey-woolsey, which is a type of inferior wool; and bangtail, which is a mustang or wild horse.

I won’t even get into the strange names we give to places, except to say that I once almost went off the pavement in the Florida panhandle when I came across Choke Chicken Road.

And some parents shouldn’t be allowed to name their own children. One child in New Zealand was able to have her name legally changed after being stuck with “Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii.”

But there is a word that I’d love to see make a comeback in this current political climate: trumpery. It means deception, trickery or showy nonsense. How apropos.

Naming Yourself

I have never really related to my own first name. And my middle name? It feels downright foreign. If I could have named myself, I would be Serenity. I’d actually legally change it tomorrow if I didn’t think I’d be laughed out of my family. It’s the name I chose for myself in the virtual world of Second Life, and it feels right.

It seems exceedingly strange to me that the one thing you are stuck with for life, the thing that identifies who you are and makes you stand out from everyone else, is the one thing you don’t get to choose for yourself.

Over the years I have come across some really amusing names in Second Life. I started making a list so I wouldn’t forget them. Some of them are well thought out, others not so much. Naming yourself should be serious business because you are stuck with that legacy for life. But one thing I’ve learned from all of this is that if we all got to choose our own names, the world would be a much more interesting place.

Here are some of my favorite Second Life names.

  • Aloof Hermit
  • Always Schmooz
  • Antenna Rae
  • Anytime Thursday
  • Argyle Socke
  • Athiest Priestman
  • AyeLove Yue
  • Before Afterthought
  • Belgian Waffle
  • Bittersweet Lime
  • Blunt Fhang
  • Blvd Ho
  • Born Aristocrat
  • Bratty Childs
  • Breezie Catnap
  • Bringiton Paine
  • BrokenGuitar String
  • BrokenHeart Paine
  • CallYou Back
  • CanYouHearMe Snoring
  • Cheese Twist
  • Cherish Clarity
  • ChickenNoodle Soup
  • Cold Frog
  • Cooky Munster
  • CoolComfort Nirvana
  • Counterfactual Fizzle
  • CountTo Infinity
  • Crawfish Gumbo
  • Creepy Janitor
  • Cryptic Quandry
  • Denied Flatley
  • diddlesme gearbox
  • Discovered Clarity
  • driveme Oppewall
  • dry Rage
  • Editorial Clarity
  • Enticing Destiny
  • Experimental Afterthought
  • Extremely Noble
  • Failed Inventor
  • Fifty Winx
  • FreeWee Ling
  • Gathering Gloom
  • Gawdawful Calamity
  • Harmonic String
  • Heinous Deed
  • Ina Tryce
  • Justyn Tyme
  • Katydid Something
  • Love Pang
  • Naturally Offcourse
  • OctopusDropkick Sorbet
  • Oh Mercy
  • Pickle Soup
  • Pipsqueak Halfpint
  • Prison Barrs
  • Promises Paine
  • Rational Clarity
  • Shouting Kidd
  • SkittlesofDoom Waffle
  • Sling Trebuchet
  • Starlight Melodie
  • Story Writer
  • Strangely Broke
  • Subtle Charisma
  • Subtle Difference
  • Subtle Signals
  • Subtle Witte
  • Tainted Love
  • Tenderlee Held
  • Twisted Fool
  • Vry Offcourse
  • Wandering Homewood
  • Yorma Destiny
  • Youbetcha Babii
  • Younever Rang

What would your name be if you had a choice?


[Image credit: Redbubble.com]

Poor Kitty

I once knew a lady who decided to name her daughter Kittyn. Of course, she had every right to name her child whatever she wanted, but it would be a rare person who didn’t groan inwardly and pity the child upon hearing this news.

As far as I’m concerned, some names constitute child abuse. That poor kid will be tortured in school. “Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty!“

But even worse, she’ll never be taken seriously as an adult. Can you picture a supreme court justice named Kittyn? Or a CEO? Or, for that matter, anyone other than a stripper or a prostitute? Life is going to present you with enough hurdles without being saddled with a name like that.

I recently read that a 9 year old took her parents to court in New Zealand because they named her, I kid you not, “Talula Does the Hula from Hawaii”. She won her case, and was able to have her name legally changed. I could kiss that judge.

Before naming your child, you should be required to run it by a panel of 11 year olds to see what sport they can make of it. And then you should have to print it at the top of a resume and see how it looks. Until it has passed those two tests, it should not be allowed on a birth certificate.