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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.

Flying the Not So Friendly Skies

When reading a New York Times story this weekend titled “Throw Momma From the Plane,” I remembered I almost had an actual fist fight at baggage claim the first time I flew with my infant child. That was after hours of practicing extreme patience – and waiting to have the fight once I got off the plane.  So I could pass my baby to his father and really settle the abuse I had taken in the air.

Once Bitten Twice humbled

My six year old was bitten by a rattlesnake this sumer.  Yes, from an actually deadly snake, that makes it’s own drum roll before digging actual fangs into your skin.  Just like in the Westerns. Maybe this shouldn’t have sounded so strange to me when the call came because we live in the west – in Los Angeles.  And with our drought they say more rattlers are coming down the mountains and into the foothills. They’re making camp in our local parks which is where one struck my daughter.

I only answered the phone because I thought it was a colorist calling me back about my hair.  Priorities. 

A Pause on the Way to Transgender Awareness

I’m thrilled that Caitlyn Jenner is on the cover of Vanity Fair’s July 2015 issue and that she looks astoundingly beautiful. Her increasingly brave choices are poised to do more good for the transgender movement than anyone elses in human history.  Her platform and message almost make 10 years of Kim Kardashian coverage actually worthwhile.

But I am concerned about putting it in the hands of VF, with vanity being the literal and meta name of their game. Historically, I am not usually a fan of even their other high­end covers since, with their level of access and recognition, they often seem to be the last one to see a trend, covering it only just before the lights go out on it for good.

Why I Love The Words DAD BOD

Yes it means exactly what you think it means.  Dad Bod is a snarky two-part adjective for a man’s body that is slightly out of shape.  Not obese but not even close to ripped.  Perhaps a guy that works out some, up to twice a week at the most, but takes in six times that amount of calories in carbs or beers in a week.

Although the term barely fits in the slim space between true and unkind, the phrase was not actually coined to shame a man.  At least not on the surface.  The code-word came into being recently when a college sophomore wrote a story about college boys with dad bods for her school paper.  (Therefore adding it is not just reserved for actual Dads but anyone past puberty who is feeling good with the jello-belly look.)

An Ode to a Best Friend on a New American Holiday

In the land of Hollywood, where I live, people tend to celebrate themselves often. And in America, where Hollywood is, we celebrate lots of deceased people. This makes random Mondays throughout the winter extra work when you have kids and they are suddenly home from school. So I would like to formally request of the American holiday makers (aka Hallmark) a new holiday that does not close any banks. Since barely anyone uses the bank anymore, and those folks need work. Then, while they and the rest of our work force are at the office we can take a short break and call our best friends to thank them for their support … on “Best Friend Day.”

Dinner With Junkies

My husband and I had a date with our neighbors recently, who I learned over dinner are on the “Paleo diet” and faithfully practice the workout sensation “CrossFit”.  I actually learned a great deal about both these health trends during our meal because they were the only things we talked about for three hours.  By the end of our evening the diet seemed more like an addiction and I was concerned that their gym might be a cover for a cult.

Valentines Gifts for Married People

I remember being a freshman in college on Valentine’s Day and getting the most carnations from male admirers amongst the girls in my dorm.  This was a big deal at the time.  The carnations were $1 and sold in the student union and sent to your room.  Myself and the other newbies were all running up and down the corridor every time a flower arrived.  We spoke in high-pitched tones about how cute this was, as well as how much we really didn’t care which one of us got more.  All parts of which were untrue.

The Grinch in Me

In a house with young kids all the merry-making that goes in to December 25th  gets largely credited to Santa Claus.  Which leaves me strangely bitter on Christmas morning. On top of which I also feel foolish for being envious of a round old white guy in an adult onesie that I promoted to begin with.

Kind of like how I feel about members of congress at this time of the year.

What I Learned in Therapy This Week

My husband and I are in couple’s therapy again.  We visit the nice lady with the soothing voice and the multiple post-graduate degree’s every time a transition is upon us.  Our first try was after our engagement, then again before our wedding and one more run just after our first child was born.   That all sounds so well planned but those things all happened in one year so planning may not be our strong suit.  Further evidenced when we found ourselves pregnant again when our son was only nine months old.  Hooray?  This pregnancy then turned out to be twins.

Keeping up with the math that would mean we had three children in a year and a half, within our first two years of marriage.  And our therapist’s number moved to speed-dial.

The Staycation

As Summer got it’s groove on this month my family prepared for that week of camping they’ve all been dreaming of.  That same week of camping I pretend to like annually.  That is until a job came up in town and I didn’t have to pretend anymore.  Rather I could stay home, all by myself for a week working only three days – while my husband seemed like a prince for braving his own children without me.

To relieve my guilt of not sleeping on tree roots and rocks I packed everything for all of my family, which took a little more time than the actual trip.  But it was worth every extra granola bar as I only felt sad for a moment as I watched my whole posse pull away.

Spirit Names in My Family

In some Native American cultures parents give their children names centered around the events of their birth, to define their spirit.  Like, “turtle laying it’s eggs*” and “he makes noise*”.  Which may or may not offer some insight into who those children will be later in life.  Recently I began to dream of how cathartic (read: dangerous and vengeful) it could be if all parents were to do this at any time in their kids’ lives based on their daily spirit.

The Ghosts of New York

I spent most of my 20s and half of my 30s living in New York City, the years of my life I now refer to as the “before”.  Before I met my husband and had quite a few children in rapid succession and basically live the diametrically opposed life I have now.  But I come back to The City (as locals call it) frequently for work and when I do I am generally alone.  Which always puts me in a strange state of mind.  It is as if the moment I step outside JFK airport I am my former self.  A woman with no ties, who only needs to take care of her needs.  Which might seem like an invitation to break a vow or a promise…

When Sports Become Hobbies

I could barely watch the Winter Olympics last month because at 44 years old, I was finally aware that I would never win a gold medal at the half pipe.  So much so that when I went away skiing with my family last weekend, I couldn’t even bring myself to go in the half-pipe when my children asked me to show them how to do it.

One Twerk Begets The Next

If you are reading this you may not have seen the VMA’s last weekend – because you read for pleasure.  As opposed to, say, raising your first finger or twerking to party down.  But don’t feel aged out – I am of the original MTV generation (read: old) and didn’t immediately understand the devolution of human progress that I saw on stage at the video music awards either.  But I Google search like a Millennial and am willing to share my intel.

Nurse Mom

It has been well publicized that having children will greatly increase your ability to love and empathize, as well as feel unbridled joy.  Also true: the sleeplessness, decreased standards of personal hygiene and the inability to get out the door in under 25 minutes ever again.

But in addition to new emotional states, there are also many jobs that you must master as a parent that are not so clearly advertised.

A Public Vs. Private Education

After visiting more than forty private schools in Los Angeles County over the last three years, I found the perfect school for my kids last spring.  In this Eden of all private education has to offer, Kindergarteners were broken into groups of 5 kids to 1 teacher and sat under fruit trees to learn reading at their own pace, without judgment.  This may not sound cataclysmic but seeing it happen actually made the annual tuition – which is more than all four years of my college education put together – seem worth it.  A sixth grader then showed me around the country club-esque grounds, pointing out the replicas of renaissance painter’s finest works and finishing with a better gardening lesson than any cable TV show ever has.  She finished her portion of my personal tour in the computer lab where she retrieved her personal laptop and showed me her “portfolio” of writing projects from first grade until today, organized by year and subject.  Which left me feeling a little intimidated by an eleven year old.

The New York Times – Room For Debate

Parents Pass the Bias Along to Their Kids

JUNE 13, 2013

Let’s blame it on the parents. Love is the last area where even educated and progressive parents can still openly teach prejudice at home – which is the only reason interracial marriage is still scandalous.

Few peers of any recent generation give much thought to friends dating outside of their race. However, far too many Americans who dare to love someone of a different racial or cultural background find they will still have to face something unpleasant – ranging from disappointment to being disowned – from those people they loved first, their mothers and fathers.

Mommy’s Gone Wild

I once believed a college dorm might be the loudest place I would ever try to sleep.   Then I had children.  And after having three, almost all at once, I didn’t sleep in my own home for about five years.  But now my two youngest are age four and I am entering “the platinum years of parenting.”  Aka the post-breastfeeding/pre-driving ages of 5 -10 years old, where as a mom I get to redefine myself – as a power sleeper.  Perhaps even while on the occasional weekend away from home where the best sleep can happen, now that my babies are old enough to be trusted with a Grandparent  (alongside a constant rotation of babysitters I pay double over a weekend to really watch them).

So how thrilled was I to get an invite to a 40th birthday with 8 other couples, sans their kids and mine, in a pretty city none of us live in to stay in a rented McMansion.  Ah, to dream of three long days of eating more than just what is left on the kitchen counter.  And the chance to sleep past 6:45am.

November Issue: Modern Family Values

What do second-generation American family values look like? Writer and actress Diane Farr shares her Korean-Irish-Italian American family’s take.

“Do it because I am your mother, and I said so!” I sternly told my 5-year-old, after some infraction that seemed uber-important at that moment.

Until the next moment when I actually heard these words come out of my mouth—and I cringed. When I looked over at my husband, Seung Yong, his face was just as scrunched up and