Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween 2012 Round Up

Happy Halloween Everyone!

If you've been checking out my blog this month, you'll already know that I've been featuring possible Halloween inspired names all month. Rather than profile one more today, here's a quick summary of my featured names and the inspirations for each choice.

I look forward to bring you another round of Halloween inspired names next October!

ALESSA - the scary girl in the super scary based-on-a-video-game movie 'Silent Hill'

SIX - spooky number that is especially devilish when written in triplicate

ALCIDE - super hot werewolf dude from 'True Blood'

BOO - a ghostly, ghastly sound

ROMERO - from legendary zombie movie writer/director George

FORREST - 'cos they're dark and spooky

AMITY - for scary real life town Amityville

DRESDEN - favourite fictional wizard come paranormal investigator

OBSIDIAN - black gemstone also known as "wizard's stone"

SCREAM QUEENS - no good horror movie is complete without one

BRAM - famous author of  'Dracula'

MITCHELL - hot and brooding vampire from 'Being Human'

HERMIONE - the fabulous Miss Granger of 'Harry Potter' fame

MOCKINGBIRD - address of the lovable Munster family

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Charity Wakefield, Eddie Izzard, Mason Cook, Portia de Rossi and Jerry O'Connell star in 'Mockingbird Lane'
I thought I'd round out this year's Halloween names with another fanciful, fun name - Mockingbird. Fans of the classic 60's television show 'The Munsters' may immediately recognise Mockingbird as a reference to the home of the Munster family, who lived at 1313 Mockingbird Lane in Mockingbird Heights. 'Mockingbird Lane' is also the title of the new version of 'The Munsters' that aired on NBC 4 days ago.

The new 'Mockingbird Lane' follows a similar formula to the original, and contains the original characters of Grandpa, Herman, Lily, Marilyn and Eddie. For those unfamiliar with the original series, each of the characters is based on a character from a classic Monster movie, except Marilyn who is a "normal" teenage girl and therefore considered the "strange" one in the family. The Munsters were far from horrible though, leading a fairly typical family life similar to other television families at the time, such as the Cleavers.

As many bird names have been popping up in birth announcements lately (think Wren, Lark, Dove, Sparrow) it's not a huge leap to think that Mockingbird could also rise with them. I think Mockingbird could be a really cool middle name for a child - boy or girl - especially if you are looking for something a little more whimsical to balance out a sturdy, more traditional first name. Personally I probably wouldn't use it as a first name. It's a very literal interpretation of a bird name since it actually has the word bird in it. Plus mock is not necessarily seen as a positive word. Then there are those fun songs with the same name (Mock, yea-ah!, Ing, yea-ah!, Bird, yea-ah!).

But it's not totally unusable, otherwise I wouldn't have featured it today. The mockingbird also features in one of the most famous lullaby lines ever - "Hush little baby, don't say a word, papa's going to buy you a mockingbird". This gives it a much sweeter image. It's the state bird of Texas, said to have the prettiest song of any bird. There is a Marvel female superhero called Mockingbird. And of course there's that story called 'To Kill A Mockingbird'. In this story, the Mockingbird is said to symbolise innocence, a beautiful image for a child. If you're a fan, Mockingbird could also be a way to differentiate yourself from those using Atticus, Harper or Scout to honour the book.

And if your literary tastes tend more towards 'The Hunger Games' than 'To Kill A Mockingbird' you could always take it that extra step and go with Mockingjay instead :) Either one would be incredibly unique.

Sunday, October 28, 2012


Emma Watson as talented witch Hermione Granger in the 'Harry Potter' movies
One of the great things about the 'Harry Potter' franchise is that it introduced the world to a lot of exotic sounding names that either hadn't been heard much, or had come to be considered as "fusty". J.K. Rowling gave many of these names a new vibrancy and made people think that maybe they could work on an actual person after all.

One of the witchy names that has caught people's imagination like no other is Hermione. Personally, 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' was the first time I had ever seen the name, and at first I thought it was made up. By the time the first movie was released in 2001 I had read the first four books, and having only seen the name in print I had been pronouncing it 'her-MEE-oh-nee'. Of course, when the movie came out I found that it is actually 'her-MY-oh-nee', which sounds more like 'her-MINE-ee' when said fast.

Pronunciation lesson aside, Hermione is a Greek name, a feminine form of the Greek messenger god Hermes. There seems to be a little confusion over what it means though, with definitions ranging from 'messenger, earthly' to 'travel' to 'stone'. There was also a Hermione in Greek mythology, the daughter of Helen of Troy and Menelaus. She lived with her aunt Clymenestra, and married Neoptolemus after the Trojan war, which is mentioned 'The Odyssey'. She later left her husband after a dispute with Andromache, one of her husband's concubines, who Hermione blamed for her inability to fall pregnant because she claimed that Andromache was casting spells on her.

Other famous Hermione's (besides 'Harry Potter's' Granger) include:
  • English actresses Hermione Baddeley, Gingold, Hannen, Hammond, Norris and Gulliford
  • British radio and TV personality Hermione Cockburn
  • Painter Hermione Harris
  • Christian martyr and prophetess Hermione of Ephesus
  • Veronica Lodge's mother in the 'Archie' comics
  • Queen Hermione from Shakespeare's 'The Winter's Tale'.

David Bowie's album 'Space Oddity' also includes a song titled 'Letter to Hermione', although the name is never mentioned in the lyrics. And if you like names with a bit of an astronomical flair, there is a great dark main belt asteroid named Hermione.

In the US, Hermione was only sporadically used until 2001 when the first 'Harry Potter' movie was released. It peaked in 2006 at position #2489 when it was given to 74 girls, so the name is hardly common. It has appeared in the top 1000 in Belgium, but is the most popular in the UK. There it peaked in 2003/2004 when it was ranked #265. In 2010 it was sitting at #398, given to 111 babies.

While some people think the name is ugly and would be constantly mispronounced and mis-spelled, the huge benefit of 'Harry Potter' is that this is much less likely to happen these days. The name is now recognisable rather than strange, so girls with this name should have fewer causes to fear being called Herman or Hermy-own. Hermione Granger is a great role model, as she is brave, intelligent and strong. Yes, a girl with this name would be compared to her these days, but with such great attributes that is hardly the worst thing a child could hear. If it does concern you though, variations such as Hermia, Hermina, Hermine, Herminie, Herminia, Hermalina, Harmione, or Harmonia could be more to your taste.

Hermione - a modern day witch with a not-so-modern name. Greek names have been getting a lot of attention lately with the rise of Penelope, so why not be a little different and give Hermione a chance.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


Aidan Turner is Mitchell in 'Being Human'
It would be hard and more than a little bit wrong to do a month of Halloween names and not throw in at least one vampire name.

Vampires have been hot property in the literary world for some time, with many of the good ones making it to our movie and TV screens. Think 'Interview With A Vampire' (based on Anne Rice's 'The Vampire Chronicles)', 'The Vampire Diaries', 'True Blood' (an adaptation of Charlaine Harris' 'The Southern Vampire Mysteries') and the mega powerhouse that is the 'Twilight' franchise. Vampires have definitely captured our interest and imaginations. They are usually seen as attractive and seductive, possibly because we are so entranced with the idea of being young (a time many consider to be the "prime" of their life) forever, but with the confidence and self assurance that comes with age and experience. Oh, and it doesn't hurt if they're a little broody too, because - you know - we like to think that vampires would actually feel kind of bad about killing people.

Today's vampire of choice seems to fit the bill perfectly. Mitchell was the main vampire character in the BBC supernatural TV series 'Being Human'. For those not familiar with the show, it is about vampire, a werewolf and a ghost who live together and their struggles to maintain a human appearance when their true appearances would shock and scare most people. If this sounds familiar, the show was also remade for American audiences by the SyFy channel. However the vampire character in that version is named Aiden. As an aside, in the BBC version Mitchell is played by Aidan Turner, so I wonder if this was an intended connection?

Mitchell was "turned" (into a vampire) when he was a young soldier in the first World War, making him over a hundred years old. Apparently he was quite the killing machine at first, but has since had an attack of the guilts and hence spends a lot of time and energy resisting the lure of feeding on humans. Young and sexy? Check. Powerful and broody? Double check.

Technically Mitchell is this characters last name (his first name is John), but he almost exclusively goes by Mitchell. The name Mitchell (pronounced MITCH-el) has quite an established history as a name. It is thought to be a Middle English variant of Michael, based on the French version Michel. Mitchell means 'who is like god' and has been widely used as both a first and a last name.

The original 'Being Human' trio
George, Mitchell & Annie

Mitchell is often seen as quite a strong, masculine name, although it does occasionally make an appearance as a girls name. For the boys, it has been in the 500 names in the US since 1880, peaking at position #71 in 1994. Since then it's popularity has been waning though, and in 2011 it was the lowest it has ever been at #420. Mitchell still remains strong in other countries though - here in Australia it was in the top 100 in 2011, holding position #53. Which still means that while lots of people like the name, you're not necessarily going to encounter a lot of other Mitchell's in your day to day life.

Many people also like Mitchell because it comes with ready made nickname Mitch. As a given name, Mitch is relatively rare (given to just 23 boys in America last year), so it would seem that people much prefer the longer version. I really like the name Mitchell, and it's nickname Mitch, Not just for this character, but also for the humorous but strong and decisive character of Lt Colonel Cameron Mitchell from the later seasons of 'Stargate SG-1', as played by Ben Browder.

But the name does have it's downfalls. The main one being the fact that Mitch rhymes with B***h, the second one being that it sounds very similar to popular girls name Michelle. But if that doesn't bother you, then this is likely to be one name that you won't have too much trouble getting a husband or boyfriend to agree to.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Cutie Bram - gorgeous photograph by Glow Foto
It's hard to do a month of Halloween baby names and not mention Bram. Firstly, Bram (Stoker) was the famous author of 'Dracula', the most widely recognised (and perhaps the first) fictionalised record of vampires. Second, it's just an uber cool name, and one of my favourites.

Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' is a tale of the infamous Count Dracula. It is written in diary form, from the perspectives of young Johnathan Harker, who first visits the Count at his home in Transylvania, Johnathon's fiancee Mina  (short for Wilhelmina - another great name!) and Doctor Jack Seward. Stoker's version of Dracula has become the traditional, almost standard ideal of the vampire, and many of the ideas we now read about in vampire stories or see in vampire movies are based on concepts from this story. Note that there is no mention of vampire skin sparkling like diamonds in this book. If those are the kind of vampires you like, this original tale is not for you :) I first got around to reading the book earlier this year, and became smitten with the name Bram, thinking how cool it would be on a little boy.

Bram originated as a nickname for the name Abraham, and Bram Stoker himself was indeed an Abraham. Abraham or Abram is a biblical Hebrew name, meaning 'father of multitudes', and hence Bram is thought to have the same meaning. However Bram does actually have a history of being a name itself used by the Dutch and the Gaelic. Reportedly, the Dutch associate it with Bramble, and accordingly the meaning in that part of the world is 'a thicket of wild gorse'. On a different but also nature themed note, Bram apparently means 'raven' in Gaelic, a bird that is traditionally seen as a harbinger of death and also commonly associated with Halloween.

As you can see, Bram can be quite the chameleon. If you prefer it as a nickname and want a longer option for the birth certificate, there are several choices besides Abraham or Abram. These include Bairam, Braham, Bramley, Brampton, Bramwell (with another spooky connection via actor Bramwell Fletcher who appeared the 1932 horror 'The Mummy'), Brigham, Bertram, and Byram.

Bram has slowly risen in popularity over the past 40 years in America, but is still by far a popular name. In the last four years it has been given to just 37-38 boys, which in 2011 ranked it at position #3037. It is however a very popular name in the Netherlands, where it was the 16th most popular boys name in 2011. Other notable Bram's besides Stoker are Bram Cohen, creator of BitTorrent file sharing software, and Bram Fischer, the South African lawyer who defended Nelson Mandela.

With some great namesakes, Bram is one of those names that almost no-one uses, but everyone knows. It's short, strong, and has a Gothic feel to it. It's a versatile name, with both biblical and nature origins. Bram would definitely be a great option, especially if you're looking for a name that stands out but fits in.

Bram Stoker and a modern cover of his tale 'Dracula'

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Scream Queens

Danielle Harris is the current regning Scream Queen

When it comes to Halloween movies, everyone loves a good Scream Queen.

"Scream Queen" is a term used for actresses who have appeared in several horror films, whether that be as a victim or a protagonist. They were originally dubbed Scream Queens because it seemed that their main role was to scream lots and lots and lots and wait to be rescued by a strong, handsome man, but the roles of females in horror movies have evolved far past that. How often do you watch a horror flick these days that starts with a young group trying to escape a crazed killer (or some other horrific menace), and ends with just one lone female surviving to tell the story?

This quote from actress Debbie Rochon (a Scream Queen herself) is a great description of the modern day Scream Queen - "a true Scream Queen isn't The Perfect Woman. She's sexy, seductive, but most importantly 'attainable' to the average guy. Or so it would seem."

I think it's this attainability that makes them attractive to guys, but not alienating to female fans of the genre. It's great to see girls using their brains and determination and coming out on top! This makes them not only great Halloween names, but also strong role models for girls.

So here's a list of actresses who are considered t be "Scream Queens", either in the past or present. Last names are in brackets to help you identify them. I haven't listed all of the horror movies they have appeared in (or we'll be here for a very longtime) so if you don't instantly recognise them I recommend you look them up on IMDB. Who knows, it might give you some ideas for great movies to include in your Halloween viewing this year :)

Adrienne (Barbeau)                                  Danielle (Harris)
Adrienne (King)                                 Danielle (Panabaker)
Agnes (Bruckner)                                 Debbie (Rochon)
Ali (Larter)                                              Eliza (Dushku)
Alexa (Vega)                                          Elsa (Pataky)
Amanda (Seyfried)                                  Erica (Leerhsen)
Amber (Heard)                                        Fay (Wray)
Andrea (Bogart)                                    Haylie (Duff)
             Arielle (Kebbel)                                  Heather (Langenkamp)
Barbara (Crampton)                               Jamie Lee (Curtis)
Barbara (Steele)                                  Jaime (King)
        Betsy (Palmer)                                  Jaimie (Alexander)
Beverley (Mitchell)                                   Janet (Leigh)
       Briana (Evigan)                                    Jennifer (Carpenter)
    Brinke (Stevens)                                      Jennifer (Love Hewitt)
Cerina (Vincent)                                           Jennifer (Tisdale)
Chelan (Simmons)                                        Jessica (Stroup)
Christy (Carlson Romano)                            Jodelle (Ferland)
Chloe (Moretz)                                             Judith (O'Dea)
  Clea (DuVall)                                             Kate (Beckinsale)
Courteney (Cox)                                     Katharine (Isabelle)
Crystal (Lowe)                                              Katie (Cassidy)
Lacey (Chabert)                                            Nikki (Bell)
Leighton (Meester)                                       Odette (Yustman)
              Linnea (Quigley)                                  Pamela Jane (PJ) (Soles)
   Maggie (Grace)                                          Radha (Mitchell)
Margo (Harshman)                                     Rhona (Mitra)
Mary Elizabeth (Winstead)                       Rose (McGowan)
Meagan (Good)                                        Roxy (Vandiver)
Melissa (George)                                         Sara (Paxton)
       Mercedes (McNab)                            Sarah Michelle (Gellar)
            Milla (Jovovich)                                Scout (Taylor-Compton)
          Mila (Kunis)                                        Sheri Moon (Zombie)
Naomi (Watts)                                    Stephanie (Honore)
Neve (Campbell)                                                                 
Katie Cassidy in the remake of A Nightmare On Elm Street

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


While the prettily coloured, sparkly names of Ruby, Sapphire, Amethyst and Emerald are now making regular appearances on birth certificates, if you like your gemstones a little more dark and mysterious it's worth taking a look at Obsidian.

Obsidian (pronounced ob-SID-ee-an) is a black, transparent stone that forms from volcanic lava. Obsidian has been around since the stone age. It was commonly used in the past to make blades and arrowheads, or was polished to be used as a mirror. It has been found across the world - even on Easter island as the pupils of the eyes of their Moai statues! Today you are more likely to find it used as a surgical blade (as it is sharper than steel) and used in jewellery and ornamental objects.

As a name, Obsidian is much rarer than the stone. It seems that it has largely been viewed as a "goth" name because it is seen as darkly exotic. It is also a pagan name, as it is also known as the Wizard's Stone, and is believed to have healing powers (pain relief and lifting depression) and magical uses (protection against negativity and protection when travelling).

A DC Comics superhero is perhaps the most notable Obsidian in popular culture. Todd Rice by day, Obsidian and his twin sister Jade (aka Jennie-Lyn) were founding members of superhero team Infinity Inc. He later worked for the Justice League, before succumbing to a mental illness that turned him into an evil villain. When defeated by the Justice League that he turned on, he overcame his mental illness and returns to the side of good in his retirement years.

Because Obsidian is a rare name people have very few preconceived notions as to whether it is a "boys" name or "girls" name. This is great if you are looking for a gemstone name to bestow on a boy (besides the currently popular Jasper), as most of the commonly used ones have firmly become entrenched in our minds as girls names. I have also recently seen the name Obsydia considered as a fantasy name in a forum on Nameberry, which I think could be a very beautiful variation for a girl. Plus, names starting with "O" are very in vogue at the moment, as witnessed by the popularity of names such as Olivia and Oscar.

If you like your names dark, mysterious, exotic and extremely rare, Obsidian is a definite contender. This is truly a name that your child (or character if you are a writer) could make their own.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


Paul Blackthorne as Harry Dresden in 'The Dresden Files' TV show
Most fans of the sci-fi/fantasy genre will immediately know why Dresden has made the list. One of my favourite book series is 'The Dresden Files', written by Jim Butcher (the new book 'Cold Days' is due out November 27!). 'The Dresden Files' also had a short run as a TV series adaptation on the SciFi channel in 2007. As a fan of the books, I can understand why it only lasted one season - there were too many differentiations from the books to win over the established readers, and those concessions meant the show lost a lot of the charm the books had that the show needed to win new fans.

'The Dresden Files' are about the adventures of Harry Dresden, a wizard living in modern day Chicago who makes a living as a private investigator, specialising in the paranormal. Because he does a lot of work with the police department, he is often referred to as Dresden rather than Harry. I also love the back story behind his full name. Dresden was born on Halloween (another Halloween link for this name!), and his father was a magician. Not so much a bonafide wizard, but a Las Vegas style stage magician, and he chose his sons names for other magicians that he admired. His full name is Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden - Harry for Harry Houdini, Blackstone for Harry Blackstone Sr. and Copperfield for David Copperfield.

The character of Dresden is a bit smart mouthed, very brave and daring, and often makes rash decisions due to his need to protect others, especially those he loves or those who cannot protect themselves. One of the most appealing things about him is that he is not an infallible character who runs around saving people easily. He sometimes gets it wrong - he makes mistakes and often gets beat up physically and mentally, but he keeps trying. He's an admirable and relatable character, and because of the associations with the books and the character Dresden is starting to get a lot more attention as a name.

Obviously I fall into the camp of people who think this is a cool name because of the Harry Dresden association, however not everyone feels this way because of the history of the most famous Dresden. The German city of Dresden was once an extremely beautiful city, sometimes called the Jewel box. However towards the end of World War 2 the city was bombed by Allied forces, which resulted in the destruction of the beautiful baroque and rococo city centre.

While it may be hard for some to get past this tragic connection, the city has been recovering, so it could be said that there is no reason why the name Dresden can't be reclaimed for more positive meanings now - such as for naming beautiful babies.

Dresden is a German name and means 'people of the riverside forest', a meaning that conjures images of serenity. While I think of it as a boys name because of Harry Dresden, it is a name that people are discussing as a possible boys or girls name. Most place names are fairly unisex, so I don't see why Dresden wouldn't be either. It's also a refreshing option for people wanting to honor a German heritage or connection.

What do you think? Maybe you are secretly considering the name and just aren't sure it's actually usable. I think it is, and could be a real winner.

Saturday, October 13, 2012


'The Amityville Horror' (2005) was one of Chloe Grace Moretz's first movies
Amity is another pretty girl name that I don't think people would immediately think of in connection to Halloween. However it has made my list in reference to Amityville, a town that has been forever immortalised in horror films.

In 1974, a family murder took place in Amityville, a village in the US. Supposedly the next family to own the house that the murders took place in after moving in, saying that they had been terrorised by paranormal activity while living in the house. Author Jay Anson immortalised these events in his book 'The Amityville Horror: A True Story' in 1977, which he said was based on these "true" events. While there is much doubt as to how factual the book actually is, it has captured the imagination of many and been the inspiration behind several movies. The most well known movie was the original 'The Amityville Horror', which was released in 1979 and became a cult horror hit. It was remade in 2005, this time starring Melissa George (another great Aussie actress) and Ryan Reynolds (*swoon*).

Besides these two movies, a quick search on shows that at least another 18 horror movies have the word Amityville in their title - it's a town that will forever be remembered for these events. And if you need still more horror cred, the setting for the 1975 classic 'Jaws' was called Amity Island!

Amity is one of my favourite virtue girls names. Grace and Faith definitely have their charms, but Amity just sounds - well - perkier somehow. It has the familiarity of Amy, but with a slight twist that gives it a "vintage gem" quality. Amity (pronounced AM-ih-tee) is the Latin word for friendship and harmony, which are lovely meanings for a girl. Just the thought of these concepts brings a smile to people's faces, which is how I think people would react to someone named Amity in real life.

While a very likable name, Amity has never been wildly popular. She first appeared in the US in 1960, when she was given to just five baby girls. The name slowly climbed until peaking in 1979 with 119 uses. As this would have been when the first 'The Amityville Horror' was released at the cinemas, it would appear that people were not at all deterred by it's horror movie connections. Amity slowed considerably in the next few years after that, and has been given to an average of 25 girls a year since 1983.

Even though Amityville will always be associated with the gruesome and controversial happenings of the 70's, I don't think the name Amity has suffered at all because of it. Amity is just too pretty not to be used more often. This is one name that would stand out in a class full of Isabella's and Lily's, in good way.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Time for a Halloween inspired name that isn't all about ghosts, vampires, werewolves, zombies and blood. Forrest is a on the list because - well, lots of spooky stories seem to take place in the deep dark forest. Such as Hansel and Gretel being abandoned by their father to wander aimlessly through the woods in search of safety, or Ichabod Crane fleeing from the headless horseman.

Forrest (pronounced FOH-rist) originated as an English surname, and derived from the Old French "de Foresta". The original "de Foresta" means 'of the forest' and similarly, the name Forrest now means 'dweller by the forrest'.

Forrest has been a quiet presence in the US charts. As a boys name, it peaked in 1899 at #175 when it was given to 83 boys, and fairly constantly hovered around the 200th to 400th position for a number of years before peaking again in 1994 when it was given to 1,344 boys, making it #217 that year. Incidentally, the movie 'Forrest Gump' was released that year, and it was also the year when the most girls (all 38 of them) were also given the name Forrest. It's popularity has slowed since then, and in 2004 Forrest slipped out of the top 1000 boys names. It also hasn't been given to a girl since 2002.

This is possibly a name destined for stardom, as there seem to be a high proportion of famous Forrest's for the amount of people  given the name. They include:
  • Actor Forest Whittaker,
  • Martial Artist Forrest Griffin,
  • Actor Forrest Tucker
  • Olympic gold medallist hurdler Forrest Smithson
  • Newsman Forrest Sawyer
  • Football Hall of Famer Forrest Gregg
  • Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest
  • Basketball coach Forrest "Phog" Allen
  • Basketballer Forrest DeBernardi
  • Olympic gold medallist hurdler Forrest Smithson
  • Pulitzer prize winner (for editorial writing) Forrest W Seymour
  • Pulitzer prize winner (for biography/autobiography) Forrest Wilson
  • Editor and author Forrest J Ackerman
Whew - quite a list! And all American, so it seems this name is yet to really take off outside the USA.

Forrest is a versatile name - an earthy nature meaning (I love nature names!) but with enough regular use to be a strong, established nature name rather than a 'hippy' nature name. The alternative spelling of Forest feels just a smidgen too woodsy for me personally, but Forrester is another version that is very appealing. It has more of the surname/occupational feel to it that is so hot right now, but is far less popular. Possibly because it's connection to the wealthy Forrester family on  long-running soapie 'The Bold and the Beautiful'. But if Taylor and Brooke can still be hot names despite the show, there's no reason the association should hold Forrester back.

Whether you prefer Forest, Forrest or Forrester, they're all great names. Like the forest they come from, they can feel serene and relaxing, or dark and mysterious - it depends on what you make it.

Monday, October 8, 2012


Legendary zombie filmmaker George A Romero at work on set

Romero is a name synonymous with zombie movies. If you're a fan of zombie movies, you'll know immediately that I am of course referring to George A. Romero. George Romero is a writer, producer and director who came onto the scene  when he wrote and directed the cult movie classic, 'Night of the Living Dead' in 1968. Since then he has continued his "dead" franchise with 'Dawn of the Dead', 'Day of the Dead', 'Land of the Dead''Diary of the Dead' and 'Survival of the Dead'. He has also been responsible for several other movies, such as 'The Crazies' (first made in 1973, recently remade in 2010), 'Creepshow 2' (where he worked with horror icon Stephen King) and the TV series 'Tales from the Darkside'.

Romero has been an inspiration for many other filmmakers venturing into the zombie genre, such as the 2004 "zombedy" (zombie comedy) 'Shaun of the Dead', written by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. Romero was so impressed with the film that he offered Simon and Edgar cameo roles as zombies in his 2005 'Land of the Dead' movie.

Romero (pronounced row-MEH-row) actually has a history as a first name as well as a surname, both for boys and girls. Traditionally the girls name derives from the Spanish for 'romero plant', which is more commonly known as rosemary. For boys, the name has Latin roots, and like Romeo it means 'pilgrim to Rome'.

Romero has been used in America every year since 1952, but it has always been far from the top 1000. It was given to just 5 boys in 1962, and "peaked" in 2000 when it was given to 44 boys. In 2011 it was given to 37 boys, placing it as the 3080th  most popular boys name in America last year. This is in stark contrast to the well known Romeo, which ranked 360th in 2011.

George A Romero isn't the only famous Romero namesake. There are far too many to list here, but just a few examples are:
  • Cesar Romero, American actor famous for playing Latin lovers and The Joker in the original 'Batman' TV series.
  • The Romero dynasty of 18th and 19th century Spanish bullfighters
  • Los Romeros, a guitar quartet consisting of members of the Romero family, founded by father Celedonio and featuring his sons
  • Anthony Romero, executive director of the ACLU
  • Oscar Romero, the fourth archbishop of San Salvador who was assassinated in 1980
  • A character in the 'Beyblade' manga series.
Despite it's gory connections to the zombie film genre, the name Romero has a romantic feel to me. This could possibly be due to it's Latin roots, and its similarity to the name Romeo. However unlike Romeo, it doesn't have the same instant associations with tragic love (or a Beckham baby). And it is much rarer, which is a great thing for people who love the feel of Romeo or even Roman, but not their popularity.

I also think it would be most likely that only horror fans would necessarily get the zombie connection, so if your friends aren't likely to be rocking up to the premiere of the next big zombie flick, you're unlikely to get too many people thinking you named your child with Halloween in mind. What do you think - would you use it?

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Kaitlyn Jenkins plays "Boo" on Bunheads
Boo would be such a fun Halloween name! It's what ghosts (supposedly) say to scare people, and what kids - and some adults - yell out to surprise people when they jump out from behind a corner.

But surely no one would actually give their child the name Boo, I hear you say. Not so. There are a few examples, such as Boo Cook, a (male) British comic artist. But perhaps more famously known is the example of Jamie and Jools Oliver's second daughter, Daisy Boo. Jools Oliver supports creative naming, so would probably love to hear that one New York couple loved the nickname they gave their growing baby so much that it stuck. Yes, they called their child Boo! - exclamation point and all! Boo! was due on Halloween, and they left the exclamation point because they wanted people to know that the reference to Halloween was fully intentional. Brave or silly? You be the judge.

Clearly these parents are in the minority. Most people see Boo as really cute - for a nickname. The cute factor is probably helped a lot by the small girl character Boo from 'Monsters Inc', or Yogi Bears sidekick Boo Boo, or even Boo the maniacally giggling ghost in the 'Mario Brothers' video games. Plus peek-a-boo is a cutesy game played with young children. And of course there is the fact that Boo is commonly used as a term of endearment.

Funnily enough, famous people with the nickname Boo tend to be male. I say funnily enough because my first instinct is that it would be more of a girl's name. However, famous male Boo's include:
  • Character Arthur "Boo" Radley from the book "To Kill A Mockingbird";
  • American professional golfer Thomas Brent "Boo" Weekley;
  • American football player Kevin "Boo" McLee Jr; and
  • English singer-songwriter Mark "Boo" Hewerdine.

Perhaps the reason I see Boo as more of a girl's nickname is because I've recently seen Boo pop up as a nickname for the character Bettina in the ABC family TV show 'Bunheads'. A lovely, vintage revival given name with a cute as a button nickname. This show has helped to bring both Bettina and Boo back onto the radar for a lot of baby name lovers.

And then there is that other TV show - the steam train that is the reality show 'Here Comes Honey Boo Boo'. Honey Boo Boo's real name is Alana. She is currently the talk of America, although not necessarily for good reasons. But even if her show is controversial, her cute nickname is well suited to her extremely bubbly personality.

What do you think? Would you use Boo as a name? Would you use it as a nickname? As we can see from the above examples, Boo could be a nickname for pretty much any name under the sun. For parents who love Halloween but want a to use a birth name that won't hamper a possible future professional career , Boo as a nickname or second name could be a nod to one of their favourite times of the year.

Thursday, October 4, 2012


OK, so I have to confess something here. Alcide was my first pick for a werewolf name this month just so I'd have an excuse to post pictures of him. The hottest werewolf on HBO's 'True Blood', Alcide Herveaux is played by Joe Manganiello. If he looks familiar, that's because he also recently appeared as "superdude" Davis in 'What to Expect When You're Expecting', and as a male stripper in 'Magic Mike' with Matthew McConaughey.

What I find most interesting about Alcide is that it was not a name I had really heard before watching 'True Blood', and I think most of the people I know were in the same boat. At first, I thought that his name was possibly a nickname, because it sounded kind of like they were saying L.C. I remember having the conversation with a workmate and fellow fan about what his name really is, and we were both surprised when we found that it was indeed Alcide.

Alcide (pronounced AL-seed) is derived from the Greek word Alkeides, which means 'strong man'. In Greek mythology Alcide was the birth name of the greatest hero Heracles, more commonly known as Hercules. Hercules was considered to be a paragon of masculinity, which is likely where the meaning of the name Alcide comes from.

Alcide charted in America in the 1880's, but has been relatively unseen in the western world since then. It's most commonly used in Italy, where it was the name of the founder of the Christian Democratic Party and a famous footballer.

Alcide is unlikely to become the phenomenon that Jacob became after that other famous werewolf catapulted Jacob into the spotlight. But with a strong meaning and super-masculine example, Alcide is a manly choice for werewolf lovers.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


Jenna Von Oy, who played teenager Six in 90's show 'Blossom'
Six would be an inspired if not extremely quirky Halloween name. From the paranormal "sixth sense" to being buried "six feet under", this is one number with a lot of sway in the world of all things scary.

Perhaps most significantly, the number 666 is popularly recognised as being "The Number of the Beast", and therefore a symbol of the Devil. It features prominently in many apocalyptic theories and is often used as a reference in pop culture to convey a sense of ominousity and sinister happenings. One such TV show is ABC's new '666 Park Avenue'. The show stars Australian actress Rachel Taylor and Terry O'Quinn (famous for his role as the obsessive Locke in 'Lost'), and is basically about people selling their souls to the devil to make their dreams come true, a notion popularly associated with this symbol. To be honest though, I'm not sure that you would even be allowed by most governments to name your child 666, even if you would want to go with such an extreme moniker.

The much simpler Six however is not totally outrageous, or for that matter out of the question. Back in the early 90's, Jenna Von Oy played the fast talking teenager Six LeMeure on the hit show 'Blossom'. Almost everyone knew who Six was. The show made Joey Lawrence a star, but was based around teen girl Blossom (played by Mayim Bialik, now starring in the hugely successful 'Big Bang Theory') and her best friend Six. Both were lovable if not slightly daggy, and often misguided. The character of Six reportedly got her name because she was - funnily enough - the sixth child in the family. Between the two names of Blossom and Six, this was one of the first shows that made young girls start to dream of one day using different and unusual names for their future children. Or maybe that was just me.

Six has a lot going for it other than its Halloween connections. It is also a pretty special number in mathematics, music (for example, a guitar has six strings), Judaism, Islam, science, sports, and astronomy. The Chinese consider it to be a very lucky number. In fact, it's hard to find an area where 6 does not have some significance. This could make it a great middle name to remember or signify something special in your lives, such as a shared memory or something your hold dear. It even has that cool "x" sound.

Having said all that though, I'm not sure that I'd highly recommend using Six as a first name. Especially in you live in New Zealand, where the accent makes it sound like a different word entirely to the rest of us. And please don't give it to your sixth child, the way poor Six's parent did on 'Blossom'. It just shows you don't care enough to think of something more inspired.

Monday, October 1, 2012


Alessa Gillespie, played by Jodelle Ferland
Alessa is such a pretty sounding name. Who would have guessed that this pretty name belongs to the "villainess" of one of the scariest video game movie adaptations, 'Silent Hill' (2006).

For those not familiar with the movie or the game that is is based on, Alessa was born out of wedlock in the town of Silent Hill in 1965. Because of her illegitimate birth, she was bullied as a child by her schoolmates and called a witch. She was seized by a local religious cult who attempted to burn her alive for being a witch. She was however rescued, and the fire that was meant to consume her ended up destroying the whole town. Badly injured by her burns, Alessa was then confined to hospital, where her "pain and fear began to turn into hate" and "her hate started to change the world". The first movie was freakishly scary, and a sequel is due for release this month.

Alessa (pronounced ah-LESS-ah in the movie) is a short form of the Italian and Spanish variation of Alexandra, Alessandra. The name comes from the Greek alexain (meaning to defend or help), and thus Alessa means 'defender of the people'. Alessa is a beautiful name, a softer and far less popular than its counterparts. While Alessa has never ranked in the top 1000 in America, in 2011 Alexis was #26, Alexa was #55, Alexandra was #76, Alexia was #275, Alessandra was #397. Plus, the similar sounding Alyssa charted at #37. Here is Australia we only have data for the top 100 names, but in 2011 Alexis ranked #36, Alyssa was #55 and Alexandra #76. So Alessa has a very popular sound and feel, without being a popular name. I really like that about this name.

The other great thing is that unlike a lot of other names from horror movies, Alessa is not necessarily immediately identified as a horror movie name unless you're talking to someone who either loves the video games or is a horror movie fan. This makes Alessa a subtle Halloween choice, but extremely pretty and rare. Most importantly, it would be very easy to use on an actual person.

October is Halloween Month!

As huge fans of horror, Halloween has a special attraction for my husband and I. Halloween hasn't really "caught on" yet here in Australia, and isn't celebrated in the same way it is in America, but that is slowly changing. We're starting to see children out and about trick-or-treating on October 31st, and Halloween goodies are slowly appearing in the stores. But the thing I am most looking forward to about Halloween is Halloween party, which we're hoping to make an annual tradition.

Pumpkin Patch costume available at
My point is that since I've spent months planning our party and looking forward to Halloween, I want to stretch it out and enjoy the anticipation as much as possible. So instead of having the usual Halloween list at the end of the month, every post I do this month will feature a name that could be included on a list of Halloween names. I'll do my best to avoid the most obvious ones to keep things interesting, but some of the classics are just too great to ignore. And since I can only do so many posts in a month, I apologise in advance if a name you want to hear more about isn't included. Just drop me a line and I'll do my best to feature it another time.

Have a great October and Happy Halloween everyone!