January 6, 2013

Name, Rank and Cereal Number

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , , , — geoff @ 12:20 pm

Good morning and greetings, January Jones fans. Well, the first week of 2013, like my hopes of maintaining a washboard stomach over the holidays, is now history. As of this writing, my waistline is looking more like a washing machine. Or as Oprah once told me, “A waist is a terrible thing to mind.”

However, I’ve always been happy about my name. Geoffrey. Well, except during my school days, when a substitute teacher came into my classroom, picked up the seating chart and tried to pronounce my name. Then we were on our way to mispronunciation city. “Geeeoooofree. Goffrey. Goofy. Sven.”

I love the double initital action. GG. Geoffrey Gilbert. There’s just something about the aligned symmetry, like a Brigette Bardot, Mickey Mantle, Marilyn Monroe, Jesse Jackson, Summer Sanders or Kimmy Kardashian.

I first became aware of the power of names back in 1964, when I heard the song sung by Shirley Ellis called the ‘Name Game.’ It went like this. “Shirley! Shirley, Shirley bo Birley Bonana fanna fo Firley, Fee fy mo Mirley, Shirley.” Okay, so it’s no “Stairway to Heaven,” but it’s a wonderful memory of a misspent youth. And as she said, “And there isn’t any name that you can’t rhyme.” And I thought, “Surely, she must be kidding.’ And she replied. I don’t joke. And don’t call me Shirley.”

I was named Geoffrey after my grandfather Gustav, who passed away before I was born. So my parents decided to go with the first letter ‘G’ in his honor. So there were some decent choices like Glenn, Greg, Gary or Gorgeous. My mother said I got lucky, as their accountant was named George and at one point were leaning in that direction. On an odd note, their insurance guy was named Ringo and the plumber went by John. And they named my brother Paul. They said if he had been a girl, they would have gone with Mick Jagger.

Anyway, my name works for me. I am Geoffrey Gilbert. However, at some point, for some unknown reason my father starting calling me “Geppo,” which then morphed into “Peppo,” which left me feeling abysmal. I also recall him saying, “Jefferson Gilbert, I do declare,” which made me feel like I had joined the Confederacy. Or as Granny from the “Beverly Hillbillies” once described this time in history, “When the North invaded America.”

The name Geoffrey means “God’s peace,” which I gave my parents very little of as a colicky baby. However, my mother had the means within her to soothe her screaming child, but for some reason, she chose to treat me as a friend.

My mother and father had free rein in choosing my name, as they could have gone with Chase, Jackson or Brad Pitt. However, not all parents have that same right. In a story written by Anna Andersen for the Associated Press, a 15-year-old from Reykjavik, Iceland is suing the Icelandic state for the right to legally use the name (Blaer) given to her by her mother, which means “light breeze” in Icelandic. Turns out it is not on a list of names approved by the government. Who knew?

Iceland, like a handful of other countries including Germany, Denmark and the Banana Republic, has official rules about what a baby can be named. However, on the flip side, you came name your dog, moose or reindeer anything you want. Most people don’t question the Personal Names Register, a list of 1,712 male names and 1,853 female names that fit Icelandic grammar and pronunciation rules. State officials maintain this will protect children from embarrassing names like Road Kill, Sissy Boy or Rush Limbaugh.

Blaer’s mother said she learned the name wasn’t on the register only after the priest who baptized the child later informed her he had mistakenly allowed it. Oops. I believe it was either Larry King or Confucius who said, “Be not ashamed of mistakes and thus make them crimes.” Hey, we all make mistakes. Or as comedian Red Skelton put it, “All men make mistakes, but married men find out about them sooner.”

Her mother, Bjork Eidsdottir, said she had no idea that ‘Blaer’ wasn’t on the list. A panel turned down her name on the grounds that the word Blaer takes a masculine article, despite the fact that it was used for a female character in a novel by Iceland’s revered Nobel Prize-winning author Halldor Laxness. In case you find this curious, join the club.

Given names are even more significant in tiny Iceland than in many other countries as everyone is listed in the phone book by their first names. However, this does not create any confusion, as the population of this country is quite small. The phone book is known as the Yellow Page.

This is the first time someone has challenged a names committee decision in court. Choices like Caroline, Chelsea and Carmen Electra have been rejected because the letter “c” is not part of Iceland’s 32-letter alphabet. “Satania” was unacceptable because it was deemed too close to “Satan” while “Brad” was rejected because it too close to “Bra” and Jennifer Aniston.

Bjork Eidsdottir says she is prepared to take her case all the way to Diana Ross and the country’s Supreme Court if a court doesn’t overturn the commission decision on January 25.

“So many strange names have been allowed, which makes this even more frustrating because Blaer is a perfectly Icelandic name,” Eidsdottir said. “It seems like a basic human right to be able to name your child what you want, especially if it doesn’t harm your child in any way. And my daughter loves her name.”

So here’s my thought. If Gwyneth Paltrow can name her daughter Apple, then Blaer works fine for me. It’s really a lovely name. And if you know me, you know I’m all about the love. Or as John F. Kennedy once told White House intern Mimi Alfrod, “Forgive your enemies but never forget their names.”

So to start off the new digital year with a bang, as our first photo lunch box will feature the last sunrise I shot in 2012. The date was December 30, and what started out as a pleasant morning sky blew up into a full on, wonderous delight of color accompanied by a backdrop of big waves. As a local artist described the sky to me that morning, “the clouds were doing gymnastics,” and the Russian judge scored them a 9.8.

It was a morning where the sky just got better and better, and I’d like to think that my future days will be headed in the same direction. The philosopher Voltaire once noted, “The present is pregnant with the future.” French poet Paul Valery wrote that “The trouble with our times is that the future is not what it used to be.” However, I’ll stick with the words of American journalist William Allen White who remarked, “I am not afraid of tomorrow, for I have seen yesterday and I love today.” Oh, I believe in yesterday.

On to a little late night humor. “Some people are concerned 2013 will be an unlucky year because of the number 13. As compared to those lucky years like 2012 and 2011.” – Jay Leno “Well, Al-Jazeera has purchased Al Gore’s old TV network, Current TV. So it’s now owned by Al-Jazeera. And listen to this: $500 million. This is a little something Al Gore has come up with called “global fleecing.” – David Letterman “I’ve got to admit, I love the show “Doomsday Preppers.” It’s about people making bunkers to survive catastrophes they know will happen. A nuclear war, viral epidemic, Fox canceling “Glee.” It’s all going to happen.” – Craig Ferguson

So that’s our first blast of 2013. Let’s hope it’s going to be a great one, as it has been so far for the Golden State Warriors, whose early season performance has shocked the NBA world. We’ll catch you having the best season of your career while putting MVP type numbers. Aloha, mahalo and later, David Lee fans.

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