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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.

SEEING RED

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.

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.

Edging out of Compton

I saw an advanced screening of “Straight Outta Compton” in Los Angles recently. The film depicts the rise and fall and lasting effects of the rap group N.W.A, in both music and auto-biographical storytelling. The guests of this screening were invited personally for some connection to the music or movie (my husband works in the music business) and yet, there were twice as many VIPs there as seats.

An additional theater had to be cleaned, opened and filled to capacity while people like myself all waited over an hour to watch the movie, which was shocking because people in Los Angeles don’t wait an hour for anything. We might sit in traffic for that long — but that’s only because we’re physically trapped.

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. 

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.)

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.

Lame Duck 2014

Poor Mr. President.  Everyone is calling Barack animal names.  The nicest one of them being a duck.

Even if that is the case, is that really his fault?  I think that sentiment might be better to pin on the people most likely to be on vacation five times this year.  You know, those men and a few women, including the first African American woman ever – all of whom are also most likely to commit adultery or tax fraud while serving in government office.  (Which, in the nefarious circle of Washington politics, will most likely will happen over their large number of vacations.)

All The Things I’ll Buy When I Cancel My Cable Subscription

Two hundred and fifty dollars a month I pay for cable channels that I never watch because of the one or two I love.  That is on televisions in my house that I rarely watch either – which each need their own cable box.  Cable boxes that sometimes erupt with noise in the middle of the night causing me to jump out of bed worried an animal is under my dresser.  But not for long!

Joy And Humility Sitting In A Tree…

If you keep up with the news at all, this has not been the summer of love.  Not anywhere around the world.  And as Labor Day closed the season but not the heat in Ferguson, Ukraine, West Africa, Israel, Gaza, and Syria to name a few – I was feeling like a fraud.

I was laying in a shallow pool in sunny San Diego.  At Legoland to be exact.  A place where childhood dreams are made out of plastic. 

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.

To Visit The Dentist the Week after Halloween OR NOT?

It’s harder to get in to see my dentist than it is for me to get a new TV show on the air.  Which may be why I failed to notice six months ago, that I scheduled myself, and all my kids for an appointment just five days after Halloween.  When my children’s teeth are buried in chocolate, gummy bears, sucking candies and lollipops  – that are sometimes also filled with gum.

And when I say my children’s teeth, I mean mine.

Iranian Publicist Throws a No-Hitter in NY

Iran has a new publicist and she is a fearless force beneath her Hijab.

Who else could have gotten the world’s most controlling and direct state – you know the government that openly admits they stone people to death for adultery, in public, as if its a sporting event to watch a woman who is buried up to her shoulders die slowly (where, incidentally, an adulterous man is only buried up to his waist and if he escapes – he is free to go) to come out smiling with the most insane PR statement of all time:

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.

AN OPEN LETTER TO A YOUNG PRINCE

Congratulations on your birth, young man!

The whole world was anxiously awaiting your arrival! And not just because you might become the king of England – when you are well past retirement age and those other two kings in front of you are done with their reigns – but rather because we are all so filled with hope to have a new Prince Charming.

Please don’t be insulted that the world is expecting you to be charming. No one outside of your great grandmother’s palace has any real understanding of what an actual prince is actually supposed to do, especially in this day and age.