Sunday, January 29, 2012

More Baby Naming With Kixia!


Hello, my lovelies! I have returned, as always with the noble goal of helping parents, parents-to-be, and people who really want to have a baby someday, to name their offspring. So throw those Baby Name books aside and stop trolling the forums of and take a look at the latest batch of letters and emails I've received. Perhaps they will inspire you in your choices. And remember, naming your baby is, without a doubt, the most important thing you will ever do. Give a child the perfect name, and she will pretty much raise herself.

Dear Kixia,
My husband Hector and I are having our 14th child, hoping someday to have our own reality show. Our children all have H-names; however, we semi-regret going with this letter because we are beginning to run out of options. Our thirteen current children are: Hector Jr., Hilary II, Haley, Hunter, Heidi, Henrietta, Harry, Hermione, Harvey, Holden, Hugh, Heaven, and Hannah.

We've looked at our other options, and they include such cringe-worthy names as Hortense, Homer, Heathcliff, and Hirschell. Can you give us some suggestions? Our dog (Hugo) ate the Baby Name book and we are at a loss.

Yours Truly,
Springfield, IL

I would be happy to help! I am rather fond of the letter H, and hold it in quite high regard. I notice you've named two subsequent children "Harry" and "Hermione". A Harry Potter fan, perhaps? Then look no further than that series for your inspiration: "Hagrid" for a boy, or "Hedwig" for a girl! Oh yes, Hedwig! Let us celebrate literature's dearest bird! May her feathery legacy live on through your baby!

But be careful, my dear: Avoid "Hippogriff", "Helga Hufflepuff," "Half-Blood Prince," and "Hallows" (Deathly or otherwise). These names would not be pleasing in any sense, even if you do nurse a strong affection for one Mr. Severus Snape (as I do, but that is a subject for another time.)


Dear Kixia,

I'm due in three months and I want to give my baby girl a name that is not popular NOW, but will be popular in the NEAR FUTURE, so that when it becomes popular, people will think that I started the trend and be all, you know, impressed. Except how can I tell what names are going to be popular in a couple of years? I tried going to a fortune teller, but she suggested the name "Ingeborg," so now I'm back to square one. I thought, if anyone, YOU could help me! So HELP!

Denver, CO

First off, congratulations! I LOVE the spelling of your name! It is unique and yet not impossible to pronounce! Second off, congratulations on your pregnancy, and guess what, sister, I CAN help you!

The trick is to look at the popular names lists from the United Kingdom. I recently took a trip to jolly old England, and I can say with some authority that they are very avant garde there (powdered wigs nonwithstanding.) Paris and Milan may be the trendsetters when it comes to fashion, but those Brits are well-known for their baby-naming prowess, and often set the stage for what names will be popular in the U.S. in years to come. 

So. First we must look at a list of the most popular girl names in the U.K. for the year 2011; then we must cross off any name that ALSO appears on the U.S. list for 2011 (only, alas, the U.S. is behind the U.K. in that aspect as well; the Social Security Administration's most recent list is from 2010. Sigh, I suppose it will have to do. Now where was I? Oh yes, crossing out names.)

1. Lily 2. Emily 3. Isabella 4.Sophia 5. Isabelle 6. Sophie 7. Olivia 8. Ava 9. Chloe 10. Isla 11. Amelia 12. Jessica 13. Grace 14. Evie 15. Charlotte 16. Ella 17. Mia 18. Lucy 19. Freya 20. Ruby 21. Holly 22. Ellie 23. Hannah 24. Emma 25. Abigail 26. Megan 27. Jasmine 28. Daisy 29. Matilda 30. Erin 31. Poppy 32. Imogen 33. Maisie 34. Layla 35. Phoebe 36. Eva 37. Molly 38. Maya 39. Scarlett 40. Annabelle 41. Alice 42. Sienna 43. Amelie 44. Lola 45. Caitlin 46. Amy 47. Madison 48. Katie 49. Zoe 50. Florence 51. Elisabeth 52. Amber 53. Summer 54. Rosie 55. Emilia 56. Rebecca 57. Leah 58. Evelyn 59. Millie 60. Esme 61. Eleanor 62. Willow 63. Georgia 64. Zara 65. Lacey 66. Anna 67. Rose 68. Lexie 69. Eliza 70. Lauren 71. Bella 72. Elsie 73. Eloise 74. Isobel 75. Sarah 76. Martha 77. Keira 78. Faith 79. Niamh 80. Gracie 81. Gabriella 82. Skye 83. Harriet 84. Kayla 85. Alyssa 86. Maria 87. Nicole 88. Nina 89. Paige 90. Kate 91. Orla 92. Bethany 93. Iris 94. Alexandra 95. Sofia 96. Lilly 97. Isabel 98. Hollie 99. Annabel 100. Laila

There are many names remaining, and so, let's look at some of our options. 

#19 - Freya - A beautiful name; however, to be avoided if you have the last name "Tuck."

#79 - Niamh - Aye, 'tis an Irish name! Very now. However, no one will ever pronounce it correctly (it's NEEV, can you believe it?)  So that is something to consider.

#62 - Willow - The world has not yet seen its fill of Willow "I Whip My Hair Back And Forth" Smith, and I see this name catching on in popularity in the years to come. 

#91 - Orla - Of course, there are exceptions to any rule. AVOID.

Best of luck,

Dear Kixia,
My  husband and I are trying to decide on a name for our baby boy, due in February. We want a UNIQUE name because we really don't want him to be, like, one of 9 "Aidan"s in his Kindergarten class, you know what I mean? But every time I think of a name that I think nobody's ever thought of, and I google it, there's the name. Someone's thought of it. It is SO ANNOYING. Help me pick a unique name that no one's ever thought of!
Seattle, WA

Well, I'm afraid as soon as I suggest a name for you on here, hundreds of parents will latch onto it and use it, therefore defeating the purpose entirely. So while I will refrain from giving you an actual name, I will point you in the right direction. Hint: CELEBRITIES. Yes, celebrities are notorious for choosing unique (and some will call them "strange") names for their recently-born.  Take a look at some of the monikers that have made their debut in recent years:

Pirate, Zeppelin, Sunday, Satchel, Petal, Sparrow, Bronx, Camera, Denim, Banjo, Rocket, Audio Science, Thyme, and Moon Unit.

What do all these names have in common? They are nouns. Somewhat ordinary, everyday nouns that don't have a lot of meaning... UNTIL we bestow them upon our precious babies IN WHICH CASE they are suddenly amazing, as in: "Teapot is a fabulous name for a child! Why did I never think of it? I use a teapot every day! It sits on my stove! It seemed so ordinary. AND YET IT IS BRILLIANT!"

So go now, take a look around your home, and make a list of objects that you see, and surely you will be able to come up with a name that no one has ever thought of before. And, if in doubt, add in a couple of extra letters: (ie: "Lammpshayde") to make extra sure.


Dear Kixia,
My wife and I are at an impasse. Help us decide: Which is best: "y", "ey", "ie", "i", "ee" or "eigh"?
Portland, OR

No doubt about it -- "Eigh" is the far superior of the letter combinations. Some people say "less is more," but I do not agree when it comes to this issue, no indeed. Look at how beautiful "eigh" looks and dare to disagree!


"Eigh" is like a warm bubblebath. Those other letters can go away. Henceforth I shall be known as Keighxeigha! (But it will still be pronounced Kee-sha, mind you.)

Keshia Knight Pulliam, my idol

So there you have it.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Got something to say?

On my drive home today I heard a siren, saw an ambulance going the opposite way on a busy street, and pulled over (as is the law of our good nation.)

A car in front of the ambulance, instead of pulling to the right, kind of shimmied to the left... giving the ambulance room to pass on the right. I don't know what happened. Maybe the driver just got flustered. Wailing sirens and flashing lights can be discombobulating things.

That is when I suddenly heard an angry, amplified male voice blurt: "This is where you pull to the right, not cut me off!"

Wow. Pissy ambulance driver ahoy! I mean, did he really have to say it like THAT? Okay, sure, he's just trying to save a life... and he probably has to deal with people making poor (or flustered, or selfish) traffic decisions day after day. Maybe he finally just snapped. Still, it seemed a bit harsh.

Meanwhile, I didn't know ambulances had loudspeakers. But there you go. The drivers must need to yell at traffic a lot. Sirens just aren't good enough anymore. A siren basically just says: "Yield, please! Mozy on over to the shoulder!" But a loudspeaker, oh, a loudspeaker can tell those jerks what's what, and tell it to 'em GOOD!

As I continued my drive home, my mind began to whirl.  "What if EVERY vehicle had one of those?" Yelling across traffic would be so much more effective than honking, which, if you think about it, can be pretty ambiguous. You never know if the person honking at you is trying to kindly alert you to something, or if they're mad at you, or if you're going too slow, or if there's a possum on your roof. But with loudspeakers on every car, just think of the wonderful communicating we'd be able to accomplish! Now, when somebody cuts you off, you can not ONLY let them know they are a big fat monkey rump, but you can let everyone within a 200-foot radius know AS WELL! Let the communication floodgates open!

Or, you know, don't.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The "Lost" Tooth (And Other Tall Tales)

I knocked out my first tooth at age three. Stupid accident, but there it was -- a big 'ol gap on top that made me look at least three years older. And sure, the tooth fairy came, and I got a penny or something (times were tough), but in my mind, that one didn't really count.  That tooth hadn't wriggled for days, hung on by a thread, and finally fallen into my baloney sandwich. No. It'd just come out - BOOM - and that was it.

My first grade year, everyone was losing teeth. Everyone except me. Our teacher had this chart on the wall, and I don't even remember what it looked like or what all went into it; all I remember is that if you lost a tooth at school, you got recognized somehow. Like, I dunno, she wrote your name on the chart. Wheee! But I was so jealous of the kids who got to be on the chart. None of my teeth were even remotely loose. What was I to do?

I would like to state, for the record, that the Great Lost Tooth Deception of 1987 was not premeditated. It was too stupid to be so. It was just like this: One day, I was out on the playground, playing around the storm drain. I mean, yeah, sure, we had swings, we had monkey bars, but I preferred the ghetto simpler things in life. So I was playing on the ground, and there were all these rocks, and one of them was white, like a tiny tooth. It was even shaped like a first-grader-sized baby tooth. At first I just thought it was funny, this tooth-looking little rock. But then I decided to pursue a nagging thought in my evil little mind. Pretend this is MY TOOTH. Tell my teacher I lost it!

And that's precisely what I did. I don't remember what she said or if I got my name on the chart at all. You'd think I would. You'd think that'd be important. But what sticks out in my mind the most is going home that day and telling my mom I'd lost a tooth. Seriously. It was like by that point, I'd tricked myself into believing it had ACTUALLY HAPPENED. But my mom was smart. She knew I hadn't had any loose teeth. She knew how these things worked. She wanted to see the hole, the gap where the tooth had been.


And then it was all over. The jig was up. The tooth/rock went away, and we never spoke of it again.

Even though this was the only time (that I recall) that I ever tried to fake a lost body part, there were many other instances of deception when I was a little kid. Years 6 and 7 were the worst. I think I just wanted my life to be interesting, or at least sound more interesting than it really was.

I told one of my friends that my parents were divorced (WHICH IS TERRIBLE!). At church (CHURCH! I KNOW!) the other kids always had the Sunday School teacher pray for their pets, and I didn't have any pets (but oh, I wanted some), so I fabricated a family of guinea pigs for the Lord to watch over. I was jealous of people who had nicknames, so I told people that my full name was actually Mollina. I told people whatever I wanted to be true, and had really no idea how stupid I sounded or how wrong that was.

But I grew out of it, thank goodness. Coincidentally, or perhaps not, I stopped being such a little liar around age 8, and that's the same year I got into creative writing. It was like something finally clicked -- that fakery and wackiness belongs on the page alone. I'm not saying I never told another lie as long as I lived -- I've told many. But, for the most part, they've been slightly less ridiculous. Still shameful, yes... woe... but less ridiculous.

I'm a teacher now, and a few years back I encountered a first grader who told ridiculous, outlandish lies. I will never understand what prompted her to insist that she had thirteen grandfathers and that her family did not know what birthday cake was, for they celebrated their holidays with the traditional Birthday Buffalo. Because at least my stories could have been true (except for maybe Mollina, because who names their kid that? Don't answer that.) Did that little girl really believe what she was saying? Did she speak with conviction, like I did at age six, as if the crazy stories I was telling weren't crazy, but real? And should I have told her straight-up that she was a liar? I mean, really, it's been, like, seven years, and I still think about that kid and want to throw a tomato at her.

And that's the truth.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

And the rest...

Happy new year! Today I present you with the third and final list of 2011 Commemorwhatever. I've already talked about TV shows and theatrical viewings. Now it's all about movies I watched in a non-theater setting. There were some strange ones this year. I've even written about a few of them (John Adams, Gladiator) here. But there are more....

Anne Of Green Gables (1934) - So I'm watching this charming little black & white film and it's following the novel quite nicely. Sure, they've combined the Rachel Lynde and Mrs. Barry characters, but that's no big deal. Why have I heard this film is unfaithful to the novel? I'm really not seeing it... Oh hey, here's Gilbert! There's Anne whacking his head with a slate. There's them acting coy around one another. There's them falling in love and having a secret forbidden affair ...wait WHAT?! If that's not bizarre enough, get this: when Marilla finds out about it, she rubs it in Anne's face that she and Matthew did her a favor taking her pathetic orphan self in, and how dare she betray them? Guilt-ridden, Anne and Gilbert break things off, but are happily reunited a few years later. But by that point I'm beyond caring. Who are these people?!?

Alice In Wonderland (2010) - Tim Burton has always been a bit wacky. Back in the day, people appreciated the wackiness, even expected it. So he tried, it seemed, with each successive film, so push the envelope just a little further. Then there was Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He adapted a Roald Dahl book. Roald Dahl was wacky. Burton made Dahl look like a tweed-donning professor of anthropology. Burton simply could not, by the laws of nature, get any kookier, but by gum, he tried anyway. Behold Alice In Wonderland. To use a Wonka analogy, remember the Everlasting Gobbstoppers? Suck, suck, suck, and nothing ever happens? Yeah, it was like that.

WALL-E - I enjoyed it a lot. I appreciate the fact that I've managed to watch most Pixar movies for the first time without knowing anything about them in advance (besides the obvious, ie "WALL-E equals robot.") WALL-E was full of surprises, from a rather important social message to some fun nostalgic throwbacks.

The Phantom (2009) - So there was a Phantom movie in 1996 and it was set in the 30s. This one is set in 2009, and there's a new actor playing the title character, but it totally doesn't feel like a reboot because, well, unlike Superman or Spiderman, there isn't just one Phantom. For hundreds of years, it's been the same - when one Phantom dies, his son takes over the purple suit. So it's easy to believe that 2009's Phantom is the actual great-grandson of the other one. If only this new guy could've retained Billy Zane's uber-hotness gene. Oh well.

The Social Network - I really wouldn't have cared if this movie had won the Oscar over The King's Speech; I thought they were equally compelling. TSN is more fast-paced, and the whole time I was bouncing back and forth betweening rooting for the main character and thinking Wow, what a jerk. Jerk, perhaps, but a brilliant one, and it's fascinating watching a project start from merely an idea and become something so huge. Facebook may have it's faults, but let's face it, even your grandma is probably on it. That's huge.

Inception - I was so keen on liking this movie. Leonardo DiCaprio, Christopher Nolan... and dreaming. I love dreaming. And maybe because of that, I was disappointed. The film could've gone so many places, and yet... it didn't bother to do much of anything a dozen other recent movies hadn't already done. The movie also confused a lot of people; I was only confused as to why the film got such high praise. It was a puddle of potential, populated with Batman-franchise refugees. Let's try to do better next time, Mr. Nolan.