March 27, 2002

New Baby Names: Biscuit, Braised Pork

By Roy Rivenburg
Name That 30,000-Mile Tune-up: The world is running out of decent names. For example, automakers have pretty much exhausted all the cool car monikers, such as Barracuda, Viper, Blazer, Thunderbird and Cougar. Instead, they now rely on random letter-number combos (Lexus Q45), wimpy sports (Volkswagen Golf, Toyota Shuffleboard), psychological terms (Suzuki Esteem, Volvo Panic Attack) and Spanish words for ‘‘bat’’ (the upcoming Lamborghini Murcielago). The trend shows no signs of abating. Next year, Ford is rolling out an SUV named after a shoe: the CrossTrainer.

The name shortage has also spread to humans. For instance, we know one family in which all three daughters are named Maria. Seriously. Apparently, there just aren’t enough original baby names to go around anymore. And although name scientists are working feverishly to develop new names, some parents are getting desperate.

According to Global Name Registry, an Internet domain company, more and more people are naming their children after food. And we don’t mean such traditional food-human names as Basil, Rosemary, Ginger and Steak Tartare. We’re talking about people named Gouda, Almond, Veal, Corn, Cappuccino and Cheddar.

Rock Lobsters: Here at Off-Kilter, we are constantly on the lookout for new musical styles, even if they involve nothing but amplified dental drills, in the futile hope that something -- anything -- will catch on and replace rap music. Among our latest discoveries:

-- An oceanographer in Rhode Island has released a CD featuring the sounds of 153 fish from the western North Atlantic. Sure to be a smash hit, the disc includes snapping shrimp, an oyster toadfish that toots like a tugboat whistle, a bigeye scad that clicks like a Geiger counter and a sea catfish that sounds like a cross between a barking seal and James Brown being drowned. You can hear samples at
-- A man who calls himself the world’s fastest finger snapper is working on a CD in which he snaps such tunes as ‘‘Dueling Banjos,’’ ‘‘Wipeout’’ and a song titled ‘‘Lord of the Finger.’’ To listen, log on to
-- Hawaiian music legend Don Ho has recorded a multi-ukulele version of Peter Gabriel’s ‘‘Shock the Monkey’’ for a new CD called ‘‘When Pigs Fly (Songs You Never Thought You’d Hear).’’ Other tracks include Lesley Gore’s remake of AC/DC’s ‘‘Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap,’’ actor Jackie Chan’s duet with Ani DiFranco on ‘‘Unforgettable’’ and Herman’s Hermits’ cover of Billy Idol’s ‘‘White Wedding.’’

Weird Polls Bureau: South Dakota residents have the scariest dental hygiene, according to a survey by Mentadent toothpaste. Nearly 70 percent have gone as long as three days without brushing their teeth, the survey found. Utah was a close second.

Off-Kilter Encyclopedia: Crows enjoy the taste of soap. However, South Dakota crows have been known to go as long as three days without eating soap.

Quote of the Week: From columnist David Allen, commenting on news reports that singer Bob Dylan is considering his first major acting role in 15 years: ‘‘Will Dylan’s speaking part have subtitles?’’

Supermarket Tabloid Headline of the Week: ‘‘Superman is Gay! Real Men Do Not Prance Around in Tights’’ (Weekly World News)

According to WWN, the man of steel colors his hair with blue highlights. And he never uses his X-ray vision to peer through women’s clothing, ‘‘the way any normal red-blooded American man would.’’

Unpaid Informants: Wireless Flash News Service, Chicago Sun-Times, Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.

Copyright 2002 by Roy Rivenburg
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