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Comedy writing

9 May

Jimmy: Steve, this is my old friend Holden. Holden, Steve.

Steve: Pleasure to meet you Holden. You know, you don’t see too many Holdens around these days.

Holden: Yeah, my parents were big Sunset Boulevard fans.

Steve: Huh?

Holden: Yeah, personally I thought All About Eve was the better film, but they don’t let you name yourself.


Yesterday I looked up A Mighty Wind on imdb. The third result for that particular search is a 1993 short called I Killed My Lesbian Wife, Hung Her on a Meat Hook, and Now I Have a Three-Picture Deal at Disney. I naturally clicked on the link for that short. The director? Ben Affleck. Wow. I looked at Ben Affleck’s page. He was in Chasing Amy. In that movie he played a character named Holden. I thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if your name was Holden but instead of Holden Caulfield you were actually named after William Holden?” This is just how easy it is to write comedy. String together 90 minutes of gems like this, and I’ll have a hit bigger than The Hangover.


The International Society for the Standardization of the Spelling of Names rulings 12/13/12

13 Dec

I bet you loyal readers thought that this was some one-off gimmick and I’d just forget about it. Absolutely not. We’re doing important work here at the Society, and we’ll never abandon it. Today’s rulings all seem pretty obvious to me, but that’s part of the problem. Join us and help to prevent atrocities like people named Kliff.

RACHEL. Rachael is becoming more and more common. It drives me crazy. There’s no historic or logical reason for it. Just because Michael has an “ae” in it doesn’t mean you can throw it into Rachel because you think it looks cool. Rachel is an ancient name. It’s from the Old Testament. Its original English translation, without any extraneous vowels, is a prefectly balanced name. Stop fucking with it everyone. I’d suggest that you start calling Rachaels “Rachayel” because that’s how their name is spelled.

GREGORY. GREG. Sometimes we have to discuss nicknames or shortened versions of names. Hey, idiots–there are only two g’s in Greg. Gregg is stupid. There’s no reason for it. It looks bad. I really can’t understand why anyone would think it’s a good idea.

CLIFFORD. CLIFF. This entry was sparked by the news that one Kliff Kingsbury has been named the head football coach at Texas Tech University. Yes, Kliff. Jesus. My guess is that Mr. Kingsbury’s parents liked the idea of giving their son an alliterative name. This is pretty common with c’s and k’s. Just because you can switch the letters without changing the pronunciation doesn’t mean you should. Misplaced k’s always make me think of Krusty’s Komedy Klassic from The Simpsons. Everybody watch the clip below and absorb its lesson.

The other thing that Mr. Kingsbury made me think of is the trend of parents giving all their kids names starting with the same letter. Kliff made me think of this because of Roger Clemens, who famously gave all of his kids K names because he got a lot of strikeouts. I don’t have the words to express how horrible that is. Here’s a general rule to follow: If you have three or more kids and all of their names start with the same letter you’re an asshole.

One last Kliff Kingsbury note. Today’s news really makes me very aware of my own aging. I remember when he was the quarterback at Texas Tech. I watched him play. He put up monster numbers. And I wasn’t really young then, either. High school probably. Now he’s the head coach. Wow. When I was a kid people always talked about coaches’ playing careers, but I never remembered them and only knew them as coaches. Now I remember not just the pro careers, but the college careers of these people. Get off my lawn, etc.

We need to come to some kind of agreement on how to spell names

12 Nov

Have you ever met someone named Brian? Are you sure it wasn’t Bryan? What about Derek? Sure it wasn’t Derrick? I don’t know how it started or where, but we have an epidemic in America. It’s been a problem my whole life, but it seems like it’s getting worse. We have lots of names. There are correct ways to spell these names and there are incorrect ways. It seems like people are disagreeing more and more about which spelling is correct. Luckily this hasn’t been as big a problem for me as it is for some. But it’s still a problem. My name is Matthew. You might not believe me, you might find it ludicrous, but there are people in America named Mathew. Honest to God MATHEW. What’s wrong with people?

It seems like this is a worse problem for girls than for boys. I don’t know why that is, but things are seriously getting out of control. I’ve known Lindsays and Lindseys. Kristens and Kristins. Alyssas and Alissas. Rebeccas and Rebekahs. Sarahs and Saras. I’ve known Catherines, Katherines, and Kathryns. Caties, Katies, and Katys. Nichole. Karyn. Rachael. Lea. This needs to stop.

It’s not just inconvenient. This is a serious problem, and not just for people who suffer in silence with disputed names. Think of all the time and resources that are wasted on misspelled names on official forms and certificates. Students constantly correcting substitute teachers. Celebrities unintentionally mistakenly addressing autographs to fans. We’re better than that. We can solve this problem and lead America into a new golden age.

Luckily for you, dear reader, I’ve decided to take a leadership role in addressing this crisis. I’m proud to announce, right here on TPY, my new organization: The International Society for the Standardization of the Spelling of Names (ISSSN). We’re fighting an uphill battle and the work will be hard. There might be disagreements. People might get offended. This is a burden that the Society is willing to bear. It will take courage for us to shoulder this weight. This courage is what America requires of its leaders. And here at the Society we have nothing if not courage. I know that we can prevail.

We won’t be afraid to ask the hard questions: How many L’s are there in Phil(l)ip? If your name is Marcus, is it acceptable to shorten it to Marc, or must you use Mark? If you’re a prominent sports broadcaster, should you be obligated to change your name from Cris to Chris? (Speaking of which, I can confirm the existence of men named Kris, Krys, and Khrys. Terrifying.) We won’t be afraid to ask, and we won’t be afraid to give you the answers. This will be a valuable resource for America’s parents.

I’m not wasting any time. Let’s get right to the rulings.

KRISTIN. Sorry Kristens. I’ve known and liked Kristens. Even a Krysten once. But your names are spelled wrong. Kristin is a Norwegian name derived from the correctly-spelled name Christina. Kristen is a name for Danish men, not American women. Being in a different country doesn’t allow you to use it for girls.* Kristin has been the standard spelling for eight centuries. Changing the I to an E doesn’t change the name’s pronunciation, it just makes it look different. Kristin’s not good enough for you? You need to be different? Get over yourself.

*This is a separate but related issue. I’ll get to you in due time, Mischas and Sashas.


DEREK. Derek comes from the low German Theodoric. Theodoric>Dederik>Derek. It’s related to Dietrich and Dirk. A derrick is an apparatus for oil drilling. It’s named after Thomas Derrick.* Read about him and decide if you want to name your son after him.

*Derrick is an acceptable surname

Nice try

ALAN. Sorry Allens and Allans. Alan is a first name, with a history of many centuries in France and England. Allen is a surname. Allan is some kind of combination of the two. This seems like a common trend–a surname that works its way into first name rotation. Now there’s bound to be some overlap and I’m not opposed to it. But don’t give your son an alternate name spelling to match a last name somewhere. Come on. If you want to name your son Robinson or Jones good for you. Unless you’re thinking about Robbinson or Jonze. Then you’ll need to shut it down.

Not even allowed in poetry

That’s it for today. A decent start. Don’t worry, there will be more rulings to come. For Society membership information, please inquire in the comments.