At Least I Am Definitely Googleable

It’s here! It’s here!

The new season of Dancing with the Stars!!!!!!!!!!


I am SO excited about this new cast of celebrities. I don’t want them to kick off anybody! They’re all adorable! On the other hand, that’s one of the things this show is so good at — they somehow manage to edit everyone to look adorable, hilariously dorky, and oddly sweet. For instance, I’ve never been the biggest Adam Carolla fan (the Man Show, oh DEAR), but seeing him be so insecure and so awkward around Julianne…suddenly I kind of want him to stick around! I mean, I also love her, so I’d like to give her a chance to work on him and see if he can improve. At least he’s trying! He looks like he’s trying pretty hard! But with the lowest score among the guys, we’ll see if he can last past next week. I wouldn’t be surprised if Julianne’s popularity helps keep him there at least a little longer.

OK, ready for my fearless predictions?

I think we can all guess that Mario and Kristi Yamaguchi will make it all the way to final three. Kristi Yamaguchi was my pick to win just from hearing the lineup of stars, and then of course she was utterly amazing tonight. I’m curious to see how she does with the Latin dances, though — foxtrot is perfect for her, but samba or jive or the paso doble?

In the same way, I also wonder how Priscilla Presley is going to do with those dances, but HOLY BANANAS that woman is gorgeous! I’m tempted to put her in my fearless final three prediction just because I can’t even believe she was married to someone who was alive in the ’50’s. Plus she’s elegant and poised and graceful and they so gave her the best outfit tonight.

But then there’s Marlee Matlin, who is deaf, by the way, if you have been living under a rock, and yet she did this totally amazing cha-cha tonight…without being able to hear the music! So I think she could go a long long way, too, plus it helps that she’s cool and (oh yeah) adorable.

And THEN there’s Marissa Jaret Winokur, who didn’t get great scores tonight, but I think she could come from behind and surprise people if she can calm down a little bit. And also not be given RIDICULOUS MUSIC. I mean, I am personally a huge goofy fan of the apple-bottomed jeans song, but seriously? How weird must that be to cha-cha to?

At least the band didn’t murder it, though, the way they stabbed and mutilated “Shut Up and Drive” and left it to bleed a slow horrible death. It’s sort of hard to evaluate Shannon Elizabeth’s performance because I couldn’t get over the painful things happening to a song I really quite like when Rihanna does it. But I bet Shannon will be great at the slow elegant stuff next week, whereas I don’t know how Marissa is going to adapt to that.

HMMMM. Difficult! I do think it’s going to be another woman in the top three, because the guys are very sweet but…dude, Penn Jillette? Dubious. Cameron might stick around for a while, especially with Cheryl as a partner, but in this super-star-studded cast, I’m afraid he’s one of the least well-known, so he might disappear like poor Albert Reed.

What is a blog for, though, if not to be bravely hopelessly wrong now and then? So I guess my fearless prediction is Marlee Matlin with Mario and Kristi Yamaguchi. She’s already shown that she can do the hard Latin stuff, and I bet she’ll be amazing at elegant ballroom. And she’s got the fame and the great story, like Heather Mills but with more talent and more likability.

I can’t wait to see what they all do next week, though — and if Priscilla and Marissa will surprise us!

So, you want to know what my new Internet obsession is? (We can add this to the list of “things I shouldn’t tell my mom”, who wants to know how I “have time for all this nonsense.”) But I would argue that this site could count as “research,” plus I blame my friend Bryan for pointing me at it in the first place.

The site is Baby Name Wizard. DON’T GET EXCITED! I’m not naming any babies! What I am naming is characters, except apparently what I am really doing is reading this author’s blog for hours and hours.

So many fascinating facts! (For instance: Haagen-Dazs is a completely gibberish name made up to sound Scandinavian, even though the ice cream company was founded in Brooklyn!) Also disturbing revelations, such as that I am totally mainstream! I am deep in the zeitgeist of America! Fully six of my favorite names ever are in the top 25 most popular names for girls last year…what! Also, much like bazillions of people across America, I absolutely want to load up my future kids’ names with Y’s and Z’s and J’s and K’s and anything that’ll make them “unique” right from the start. Which is apparently going to backfire on me horribly when little Yzybellakyzekia arrives at school to find six other Yzybellakyzekias in her class. (Also when she makes me pay for her therapy later.)

It seems to me that there is no way to know if someone will like having a unique name or not. I absolutely love having the weirdest name in the world, but I have a lovely friend who is similar to me in many ways who totally hates her unusual name. And of course “Tui” got made fun of, but so do lots of perfectly normal names. That never ever made me wish I were called something more ordinary.

The only thing I did wish was that I could find a book character named Tui. I’m afraid the plant in Little Shop of Horrors (Audrey Two, which Seymour calls “Twoie”) does not count (although watching that movie was a WEIRD experience for someone who has never heard her name used as anything but her own name). There’s a part of me that wishes people had at least heard of Tui, and most especially that they knew how to spell it (O.M.G., I swear my name has been spelled more different ways than any other word on the planet).

That’s why my long-term goal is to become famous enough that people start naming their kids after me. 🙂 That’s not so unreasonable, right? Hey, Baby Name Wizard readers! If you’re looking for a REALLY unique name, try Tui! I bet you dollars to doughnuts she’ll be the only one in her kindergarten class!

Allegedly Tui is a more common name in New Zealand, where it’s a native bird, like the kiwi, but prettier, if you ask me, and more musical, if you ask anybody. But I have to admit, while I was over there, I only met one other Tui (also, oddly, a visiting foreigner). On the plus side, New Zealanders can at least spell it right on the first try. On the minus side, when I said, “My name is Tui, like the bird,” the most common response I got was, “Nah, Tui like the beer!”

(Oh, yes it is. And one of their taglines is: “Tui. Distracting the boys since 1889.” AWESOME. Makes you realize maybe it’s not so bad that I didn’t grow up in New Zealand, with billboards like that around every corner.)

But anyway, I never found a book with another little girl named Tui, and now I don’t think I can name any of my own characters that, because then it would seem like I was writing about myself, wouldn’t it?

Plus I bet my editors would be like: “What’s with this name? It sounds awfully weird. Can we change it to Elizabeth?” 🙂

I’m on the hunt for cool names right now because I’m starting a brand-new series for Scholastic (I know, I am SOOOOOOOO excited!) and I need to populate pretty much an entire elementary school. Well, OK, I can start with just a few sixth-graders, but I have to keep track of all of them, and they all need both first and last names. Bah! Last names! Bah! I’m not even sure I ever gave poor Gus a last name in Avatars. (OK, I imagine there’s one in my notes somewhere, but I doubt I brought it up in the text…I’m going to feel silly when I find out I did, won’t I?)

But in this series I have to figure out all those details ahead of time. What I’m really tempted to do is name characters after all the babies I know that were born in the last couple of years. My friends, of course, have wonderful taste, and all their babies have adorable names. And hey, that way when they’re old enough to read, they’re guaranteed to have a book character with their own name. Right? Awww.

It is a little weird, though, because chances are these new babies aren’t going to be anything like the characters I’m naming after them. Will Heidi be a klutz and everyone’s favorite friend? Will Rebekah be the prettiest girl in her class (well, probably!)? Will Eleanor be a spelling-bee-winning genius (again, I wouldn’t be surprised)? Who knows?

At least I feel like it’s less dangerous than naming characters after people I know who already have fully formed personalities. For instance, clearly any Adam would have to be dashing and brilliant and handsome.  And I’ve actually had people ask me if Kali in Avatars is supposed to be my sister Kari, which, hello, those are two different names, and while I’m sure Kari on occasion feels like blowing stuff up with her brain, I highly doubt she’d ever do it (be nice to her anyway, though, just in case).

Someone even wondered to me whether my extremely huggable friend Erica objected to the naming of Ereka in Avatars 2: Shadow Falling. Oh my goodness! Totally different names! Totally different people! There’s clearly a reason for the choice of the name Ereka, which I won’t give away in case you haven’t read it yet, but no, let me assure you my Erica does not own any long pointy sacrificial knives (that I know of).

So it’s a delicate business, naming characters. But the good news is it’ll be about eight years before any of these babies can object, so mwa ha ha!

(OK, maybe I’ll check with their parents, just to be safe.)

And if all else fails, the Baby Name Wizard has plenty of suggestions. And I can get all my crazy/mainstream naming instincts out of the way on my characters. And maybe I should be relieved that I’m not the only person in the country who loves the names Autumn and Sierra and Kaylee. Maybe being a Tui didn’t make me so weird after all.  🙂

Next week I’m going to tell you about this SERIOUSLY BIZARRE post-apocalyptic Mary Shelley book which I am reading (taking a break from Abraham Lincoln to, um, finally read my overdue library book…I know, I’m so bad! Poor librarians! But if anyone else is looking for this book, I’ll be very very surprised). For now I just want to end by mentioning a completely hilarious movie I caught on TV recently (sure I had time — dance shows are only on like three nights a week!).

It’s called The Court Jester, it’s from 1955 (!), and it stars Danny Kaye, whom I went looking for because I love him in White Christmas. He’s kind of romantic in this one, I have to say, although I’ll admit I have a thing for funny, sweet guys. And good gracious, this movie is TOO CUTE. I mean, it’s thoroughly ridiculous, and there’s no way I could get Adam (or possibly anyone else) to watch it. But it’s also hilarious and innocently goofy. With sword fights! And outlaws! And romance! And knights in amusingly magnetic armor! Check out one of its more famous scenes here, if you have a few minutes:

Fun with Words, Magnets, and Horses

Plus it gave me this weird moment: a hot blond princess appeared on the screen, and I was like, who’s that? I should know about gorgeous actresses from the 1950’s like that. And then she came back on screen and I realized it was…ANGELA LANSBURY! Yes, of Murder She Wrote fame! Dude, she is so pretty in this movie, and I don’t think my brain was at all prepared for that. You can see her in that clip (in green).

So, I don’t know if I’d say you all have to rush out and see it, but it was a nice break from the doom and gloom of Mary Shelley’s end of the world, that’s for sure.

Quote of the Day:
Hawkins: After months of pleading for just this kind of action, what makes you think that anybody could make me reveal the identity of my confederate?
Jean: Because they’d put you on the rack, crack your every bone, scald you with hot oil, and remove the nails off your fingers with flaming hot pincers.
Hawkins: I’d… like to withdraw the question.
The Court Jester