I'll Take a Vowel for Global Domination!

I was listening to Kai Ryssdal on the radio yesterday...not your normal, everyday name...and started pondering the preponderance of one-syllable names among those in prominent positions. It would seem that lopping off a few letters is a great way to thrust one's self to the head of the crowd. Fourteen of our U.S. presidents have been one-syllable guys--with six Jameses, three Johns, and three Georges claiming the bulk of that territory. Sixteen others had monikers with a diminutive option, such as Abe, Bill, Ben, etc. Amazing.

So what's the appeal of a one-syllable name? Does that short, sharp bark represent quick thinking? Immediate action? Do we need an easy out for those whose names roll constantly off our tongues? Does short on syllables mean long on dependability? Romance novel protaganists invariably have short names: Luke, Lance, Chase, Chad, Blaine, Brock, etc. Are one-syllable suitors sexier?

I read that, historically, parents have given their sons one syllable names because that was indeed believed to be a precursor to power and success. Daughters, on the other hand, were given voluptuous, multi-syllabic names because they sound more feminine and flowing. Apparently, we're still following that tradition,because, aside from Cher (who began life as Cherilyn), two- and three-syllable names are the norm for gals in both the entertainment and political spotlight. Of course, Oprah has "O" Magazine; I'm wondering...will she have to fight for her vowel once Obama takes up residence on Pennsylvania Avenue and needs a power-packing, headline-grabbing single syllable name? We'll see.

Random Rants

  • As discussed in depth in my last post, I love Christmas music. And I think it's nifty that Baby Jesus gets so much air time during the month of December. But could some program director, somewhere, PUH-LEEZE!, explain why, when every recording artist who's ever held a microphone has recorded a Christmas album, radio stations play the same twenty songs over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over? One of the two Greenville stations playing 24/7 Christmas gets points for adding "I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas" this year, but I'm still waiting for the Andrews Sisters' "Angie the Christmas Tree Angel," "Pretty Little Dolly" by Mona Abboud, Harvey Danger's "Sometimes You Have to Work on Christmas," or Barenaked Ladies " Elf's Lament." Come on, deejays; how many times can we listen to Amy Grant sing "Sleigh Ride"and stay sane??!!
  • So Oprah weighs 200 pounds. WHO CARES?! Is she still smart? Yes. Still beautiful? Yes. Still generous, and funny, and a great role model? Yes. NONE of those qualities is even remotely related to weight and to denigrate her because she's not a size 10 is demeaning to women everywhere. I don't like Oprah's taste in books and I liked her better when she wasn't a gazillionaire, but she's an amazing woman and a stunning example of overcoming adversity. To measure her worth by her girth is prejudice at its ugliest.

  • WHAT IN THE WORLD WILL WE DO WITHOUT ALAN AND DENNY? The only show I have watched on television for the past three years is "Boston Legal." It wasn't for the meek or the innocent, to be sure, but the razor-sharp dialogue, in-your-face challenges to bad behavior by pharmaceutical companies, credit card companies, and others who prey on the vulnerable, beautiful friendship between two male, wholly heterosexual (to a fault!) friends, and sheer outrageousness of Denny Crain's take-no-prisoners approach to life made this show a joy to watch. I respect the needs of those involved to move on, but I mourn...oh, how I mourn...the demise of Crain, Poole, and Schmidt. Amid the brainless blather on television these days, Shirley and her boys were a fresh breath of brilliance.

  • Are there people really dumb enough to waste time opening e-mails dated 12/20/38???? Is postdating an e-mail by thirty years actually an effective marketing ploy for spammers? Perhaps it preys on the all-too-often-proven theory that people don't read, which is apparently how ice cream and sugar manufacturers decided they could weasel a pound out of their product without anyone noticing. (Note to manufacturers: we noticed.) All I know is, if you've put something in my mailbox that could only have been sent by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, I have one word for you: DELETE!!

Well, gee, it feels good to get all that off my chest. But I can't stand to leave things on a negative note right here on the fringe of the first noel. So here's a list of good things to think about this week as we make our way toward Christmas Day. Write and tell me your favorite holiday things!
  • Reading (or sending) a Christmas card and thinking about how much that person means to you
  • Sitting by a fire, sipping hot cider and watching snow fall
  • Singing carols, in harmony, on the front lawn of someone who doesn't expect it
  • Having a houseful of guests you adore but don't get to be with very often
  • Having the day off and getting to stay in your jammies all morning
  • Walking through a mall or down a busy downtown street not to shop, but just to enjoy the sights and sounds
  • Watching a children's Nativity pageant--the bathrobes and "Psst! Hi, Mom!" kind
  • Sitting in the glow of the Christmas tree lights after everyone has gone to bed
  • Seeing families on front lawns Christmas afternoon, testing out new bikes and skates and riding toys
  • Playing pick-up football after Christmas dinner

Aren't you in a great mood now? :-)