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All The Names Coming and Going in 2016

When 2015 comes to an end, there are several baby names we won’t be hearing again. Not until at least 2036 when a generation has forgotten their meanings or mayhem they caused this year.

First and foremost, we must say goodbye to all the future Atticuses. It turns out that the good lawyer, so grandly and deftly humanized in “TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD” by Harper Lee, may not have been so good in the end.  That is if Harper Lee actually wrote “GO SET A WATCHMAN”, or even intended for it to be released in it’s current state…

Because in this second novel, the father, lawyer and all-American hero (Atticus Finch) is a paternalized racist later in his fictional life.  Much to the chagrin of all my fellow liberal arts, English lit, and college drama majors who named their sons (and daughters) after him.

College film majors also have a list of characters to avoid as they are engrained in our American wheelhouse.  Like the incredibly familiar names of the last few years’ favorite heroines – Katniss Everdeen (THE HUNGER GAMES) and Lisbeth Salander (THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATOO).  All four of these names which should be avoided for at least a decade.  But 10-plus years from now these gal names and perhaps even Rocky or Balboa might make great considerations for a new baby girl in your life.

Same holds true for political names such as Mitt, Jeb, Trump and Hillary.  One of those last two may have a resurgence in 2016 but really the only safe political name to give your child as we ring in the new year (or at least until this column is published) is Angela.  Do avoid Merkel, though, as it’s too close to Urkel. And that character from FAMILY MATTERS, should never be brought to life again.

But for parents on the hunt for an avant-guard, meaningful, bordering pretentious baby name (says a woman with one daughter named Sawyer and another named Coco) oldies but goodies from big films of years ago – are a gold mine to pick through.  As long as they have had that appropriate gestation period of 10 plus years.

For instance Amelie, played by Audrey Tautou in 2001, sounds delightful. As does Trinity and even Ripley since THE MATRIX and all the ALIEN’s have only been on Netfilx in this decade.  And Matrix himself, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in COMMANDO circa 1985 is probably free and clear as well as Snake from ESCAPE FROM NY and Indiana from all the RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK movies (as the last one was not box office magic.)  The world is also probably ready for a Ferris, to conjure up images of child living exactly in the moment – since the one made so real by both John Hughes and Matthew Broderick was born three decades ago.

But the pinnacle of meaningful character names that will most likely be cropping up in 2016 – come from two major categories.  One is just the creations of Quentin Tarantino who may be the best moniker-maker ever.  Three personal favorites are Elle (as in Elle Driver from 2003’s KILL BILL: Vol 1) and Vega (as in Vincent Vega from 1994’s PULP FICTION) right along along with Broomhilda (as in Broomhilda von shaft from 2012’s DJANGO UNCHAINED 2012).  Although I don’t recommend this last one due to short time period and the name will be hard to sell on anyone who doesn’t look like Kerry Washington.

The second category comes that will be immensely popular next year comes from a galaxy far far away. I already know a Luke Sky Walker – and I bet, he will not be alone if you know any parents with the last name Walker.  He also will soon have friends in the sandbox named Han or Vader. Despite the bad guy rep of one and the hairiness of the other. They’re just too cool as names.

Finally, as this year comes to a close, I can only hope to see more of a name that is not only timeless and hero worthy but also impossible to rewrite as Philip Van Doren Stern cannot return to the typewriter and pull an “Atticus Finch”.  Here is to all the future Bailey’s, male or female – as in George Bailey from ITS A WONDERFUL LIFE.  And to each of them having one.

An Emoji For Migrants

While all of Europe digs deep to find homes and food and jobs and new shoes for the thousands of migrants desperately traversing the world today, I would simultaneously like to find an emoji to represent them here in America.  Because these folks need an image makeover perhaps more than anyone in recent history.

I’m hopeful the way to make these mostly educated, hard working, former homeowners seem more like educated, hard working, homeowners is with the right smiley face to represent them. Because showing the destitution these people face and the abuse they are suffering at the hands of human traffickers and the unceasing deaths occurring in their communities both where they are running from and on the road, is just not bringing any compassion.

Of course we could look at where or when exactly over the last year the word “migrant” became a synonym for “pest” or “leech” that must be expunged?  A quick Google search gives me the definition of migrant as “animals that migrate.”  Ah.  Maybe it’s because we are using a word that describes a perpetually homeless beast that keeps these war-worn families sub-human?

I’m aware that the one photograph, of one drowned child and his emotionally arrested father did make a temporary impact.  It’s not clear why this one parent and one child more so than the other two thousand migrants who have died just this year mostly escaping Syria had an effect – for a few days.  Or why it was so short lived.

And now one stolen passport in Paris has given all our Republican presidential candidates and even some of the elected governors in our MELTING POT of country permission to demonize victims of a world war.  Allowing them to refuse access to any refugees seeking asylum here while the rest of the world is taking in thousands.

Surely, an emoji will show our lawmakers that all people have needs.  Even those that can’t pay $500 a plate at a benefit in their homestate.  Because lets face it – Emoji’s are strangely powerful.  A friend of mine recently sent a tweet about how far her car was parked from her office with the Emoji of the dancing lady in red.  Showing me in color and posture – her hellish burden.  I’m sure the lady in this emoji is meant to be dancing – but she could be walking… on a Hungarian freeway if need be.   And then she can be texted again and again until DONALD TRUMP GOES AWAY.  Or at least until the pain of destitute humans sinks in, via smartphone.  I can tell you my friend got HUNDREDS OF LIKES AND RETWEETS about her walk to her car.  From her heated and fully catered office.  Emoji’s work.

Of course changing this animal name these terrified people are called in the press would probably help too.  Refugees still seems vaguely human, if not to be confused as the former friends of Lauren Hill.  Assylum seekers speaks to the fact that their lives are in mortal danger, which might produce a tad more empathy – outside of just Germany. But conflating issues of immigration, race, ethnicity, and asylum is dangerous because it would require policy and legislative change.  When half our American leaders are still unclear on vaccine facts, nine years after the debate broke out.  So there probably isn’t enough time to effect actual political change.

So I’m sticking with my emoji request.  And not a crying face one.  I’m talking about a drawing that portrays these souls as people with possibilities. Because if news images of white people swimming in the middle of the ocean, in all their clothes – with their children – and not a single possession from their former life available to them is not awakening America to this holocaust – it’s time to make an electronic cartoon that might save them.


I feverishly want to discuss religion as it’s misinterpretations and manipulations brought me to every time I looked at the news in Paris last week. But since the information on the multiple catastrophes that began in Beruit and have come all the way to Southern California, are changing so rapidly I thought it best to focus on the heart of the extremism problem:  The Starbucks Coffee Cup.

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