Sometimes, here, we talk about Ashley, our valued reader and commenter. That’s Ashley Morris, Warren Zevon fan, New Orleans radical. Professor of computer science at DePaul University. (Yes, in Chicago. It’s a very long commute.)
When we talk about Ashley here, sometimes someone will say, “Who does this Ashley Morris think she is?”
It happened again this week, in a private e-mail. I already straightened my correspondent out, but just to state for the record…
This is Ashley Morris, the NN.C reader:
He’s the one in the Devils jersey. The woman in the picture is Mrs. Ashley Morris, whom you don’t want to mess with, either, as she’s
six feet tall six feet two and currently on the Big Easy Rollergirls’ DL.
This is Ashley Morris, the actress:
(As you might expect, Our Ashley says of his namesake, “I’d hit it.”)
As to how Ashley got a girl’s name, all I can say is, haven’t any of you people seen “Gone With the Wind?”
That is all. Carry on.
Danny said on December 18, 2007 at 2:06 pm
No offense, Ash, but I’d rather you were the female actress one. I mean, you’re cool and all that, but really.
Dorothy said on December 18, 2007 at 2:22 pm
Where’s the actress?! She’s not showing up! (I went to imdb.com and saw her. Wow!)
brian stouder said on December 18, 2007 at 2:47 pm
When we talk about Ashley here, sometimes someone will say, “Who does this Ashley Morris think she is?”
It happened again this week, in a private e-mail.
Oh my! The commenters get talked about? This can’t be good!
in a related note –
I’m thinking this panel will present an interesting lecture, and I will probably be there to hear it…
even despite that, in a perfect world, the proprietress of NN.c would be a part of any panel on the “Fort Wayne blogosphere” (instead of the Big D b’sphere)
ashley said on December 18, 2007 at 3:01 pm
BTW, in case you can’t tell, the rollergirl wife was 8.99 months pregnant in that picture. I think she delivered 3 days later.
Oh, and da wife is 6 feet 2.
Mindy said on December 18, 2007 at 4:13 pm
My dad’s name is Conny. His grandmother named him after Connie Mack, the ballplayer. She wanted it spelled with a -y rather than -ie so that it wouldn’t look like a woman’s name in print. Didn’t work. He’s always received mail and phone calls assuming that he’s female.
I never knew that Connie is a woman’s name until I was a sophomore in high school. Connie Barnes was assigned a seat next to me and I nearly died from the shock of hearing her name. Who would name a girl Connie! To me it was like naming her Walter or Harold. I still chuckle at how horrified I was at this.
brian stouder said on December 18, 2007 at 4:17 pm
Well, we named our daughter Shelby, which is somewhat gender-neutral… and I work with a fellow named Leslie…(although he goes by ‘Sandy’…which is still somewhat ambiguous!)
nancy said on December 18, 2007 at 4:25 pm
Actually, Brian, the person who wrote said he agreed with “that New Orleans woman” about not being from (the greater geographical unit), but from (the city), in this case, Chicago. I’d imagine most Chicagoans only occasionally think of themselves as being Illinoisans. New Yorkers from the city, too.
I think it’s amusing that Ashley Wilkes was played by Leslie Howard. Although back then, Ashley wasn’t so much a girl’s name.
ashley said on December 18, 2007 at 4:32 pm
You think, maybe if I posted nude pix of myself, that people wouldn’t get confused as frequently? I mean, what with my porn cred and all.
Danny said on December 18, 2007 at 4:37 pm
Maybe if you just got rid of the mime picture on your website. Mimes are so androgynous (and reviled).
Michael said on December 18, 2007 at 5:00 pm
I wish I had the link, but somewhere recently I read about how historically, female name usage deflates male name usage (reference Ashley, Connie, Leslie, etc.). However, this (the female usages replaces male usage) is no longer the trend. The female use of Logan does not diminish the male use of Logan for example.
The article (lost in my memory) does not conclude what this factoid means about the namee or the namer. But it sure made me happy to be able to share with you all.
Laura said on December 18, 2007 at 6:01 pm
Michael, the story you’re referring to was in the Sunday NY Times, @ three weeks ago.
alex said on December 18, 2007 at 6:05 pm
I hear ya, Michael. In fact I’ve had quite a few Generation Josh types ask me incredulously why my parents would give me a girl’s name. A child of one of my cousins thought it was incredibly funny as her best friend was named Alex. This seems to have been the trend in the last twenty years or so. Maybe Alexis Carrington and Dynasty were the culprits. Or some other banal TV show that I don’t remember.
Funny, but my boss has a college-age daughter named Alex and he e-mailed her the cutest, sweetest little note one day that landed in my inbox because he inadvertently scrolled down to the wrong Alex before hitting send. It was full of sweet nothings, and the poor guy probably had a near coronary when I let him know it didn’t reach its intended recipient.
ashley said on December 18, 2007 at 6:15 pm
Is it just English?
In Slavic languages, you have obvious masculine and feminine names: Petr/Petra, Pavel/Pavlina, Roman/Romana. Maybe it’s just some English speaker’s fetish to either feminize masculine names or create new names.
I did know a Cliteesha and a Latrina, and yes, both were female.
nancy said on December 18, 2007 at 6:50 pm
It’s not English, it’s lunacy.
English has male/female names of all the ones you cite: Paul/Paula,Paulina; Peter/Petra, etc. I think the trend toward masculine or androgynous names for girls started in the ’80s. They sounded tough-but-feminine, and you could use them in their feminine longer version or butch ’em up for law school — Alexandra could be Alex, etc.
There are regional quirks of naming. Our paper had a female publisher, first name Scott. She explained it was a southern tradition to give daughters matri-linear surnames as first names, then call them by a nickname. So McKenzie is Muffy or Micki, McGregor is Maggie, and so on. (Dunno what hers was; we all called her Scott.)
What’s going on now — making up names from scratch — skates dangerously close to crack-brained, though. I knew it had gone too far when someone explained Elian Gonzalez had a mash-up name, a combination of Elizabeth and some other family moniker.
Cliteesha? Good lord.
Cosmo Panzini said on December 18, 2007 at 7:01 pm
Cliteesha–ah, what a euphonious appellation. We used to piss into a Latrina when I was in the Army.
GentillyGirl said on December 18, 2007 at 7:18 pm
There is a book entitled “Southern Ladies and Gentleman”. Dates from the mid-Seventies, and it does have a great chapter on the ways we in the South name kids.
The rest of the book also explains much about the Dep Suth too.
Peter said on December 18, 2007 at 7:35 pm
A DJ once mentioned that several towns in Wisconsin would make great names; Madison, Waukesha, Racine, Kenosha, Wauwatosa, Oshkosh, Eau Claire…
LA Mary said on December 18, 2007 at 8:18 pm
I’ve hired two people named Hyun Kim in the past week. One male, one female.
Colleen said on December 18, 2007 at 8:20 pm
NPR’s Day to Day often has dueling Alex hosts…Alex Chadwick (Maled) and Alex Cohen (Female)
Kim said on December 18, 2007 at 9:20 pm
True story: One of the first interviews I went on was to talk to some city department head, first name Shirley. I was stunned to see Shirley was a man. Very common in the South. Other strange ways to name a child (besides the matrilinear, which turned a “Brooks” into a now-45-year-old “Buffy” and some other lady I know into a “Muff” and the woman who used to have my cell number into a “Sprinkles,” tho she may be a porn star with that name, right Mr. Ashley?) include the Jr. or subsequent boys who are called “Trip,” “Tripp,” “Trey,” “Bubba” and “Kip.”
Linda said on December 18, 2007 at 9:40 pm
If you want to see a fascinating website, as well as contemplate the male/female name conundrum, see the website:
the Baby Name Voyageur. It traces the 1000 most popular boy and girl names, in pink and blue, of course. It is surprising to see what used to be boy’s names (like Patsy), and the recent rise in unisex names.
I read an interesting article in TV Guide several years ago on the influence of TV on baby names.. It traced the name Bailey, which was once predominantly male, until “WKRP in Cincinnati” came out with the female character Bailey Quarters. It then shifted to a female name, until “Party of Five” came out with a male Bailey.
Dorothy said on December 19, 2007 at 7:39 am
Hmph. I know several dogs named Bailey, but no people. I have a niece Jordan, who has a brother name Dylan. Both of which are interchangeable for gals and guys. I come across plenty of Buffy’s and what-not in my new job. My head spins trying to keep them all straight.
Laura said on December 19, 2007 at 10:07 am
The NYT story about the feminization of male names puts the start of it in the 1930s when Shirley Temple became popular. Before then, Shirley was boy’s name.
My kids have gender-specific names btw. It’s how I roll.
Kirk said on December 19, 2007 at 10:20 am
Among the more annoying name trends spawned by pop culture is the number of girls named Brandy, which sprang from that lousy hit song a decade or two back.
Meanwhile, the first name of the CFO at our company is Poe. I haven’t asked her where it came from.
brian stouder said on December 19, 2007 at 10:26 am
Well, my thinking always was: mom has to endure child-birth, therefore mom certainly gets naming rights.
Lobbying for this or that name could be attempted, but that could risk getting a name banned forever. I mentioned middle-name possibilities like Lincoln and Winfield (as in Winfield Scott Hancock, a tremendous presence at Gettysburg)…which failed to impress The Decider…although later, she DID choose Grant.
Still, I had no vote!
(edit: Kirk – do you mean Mandy? as in Barry Manilow?)
Kirk said on December 19, 2007 at 10:39 am
No, I mean Brandy, as in Looking Glass. If you’ve forgotten the song, more power to you. Mandy’s pretty bad too (the song, that is), but it’s a perfectly good nickname for Amanda that predates Barry.
It turns out that Brandy made No. 1 in 1972. It was selected as a single by none other than Clive Davis.
John said on December 19, 2007 at 11:06 am
Barry Manilow’s 1974 “Mandy” was originally titled “Brandy” but Manilow changed it following this song’s success.
Danny said on December 19, 2007 at 11:26 am
Man, I love that song by Looking Glass. I saw a documentary a few years back where they were following the members of REM around. In one scene, Michael Stipe is in the back of a limo and starts belting out Brandy. Good stuff.
Danny said on December 19, 2007 at 11:29 am
We have a couple of friends who are named Mandy. We have fun with that song at their expense. Like they’ve never heard that one before. I’m a dork sometimes.
Dave said on December 19, 2007 at 12:25 pm
I used to work with a man named Faye. Also worked with a man named Shirley. My wife had a great aunt with the given name Kenneth. I could never get over hearing about Aunt Kenneth.
Connie Mack’s real name was Cornelius McGillicuddy and he was far better known for being a manager than a player, managed the Philadelphia Athletics for something like fifty years.
Kim said on December 19, 2007 at 2:07 pm
Did a story once about a guy whose name was Vid, as in the second half of David. Turns out his father was only around half the time during the pregnancy, so the mom decided to give the child half the dad’s name. We can’t say “amanda” in our house without saying the surname, “hugginkiss.” I believe this was one of the stupid bar pranks on The Simpsons.
wade said on December 19, 2007 at 2:48 pm
My family’s full of out-of-place names… I had an Aunt Ted and have a niece Kingsley and nephew Jordan and the clincher – Canaan Justice.
John C said on December 19, 2007 at 10:22 pm
Then there is Chicago Sun-Times columnist Michael Sneed, who is a woman. I always liked the fact that, not only did she have a male name, her nickname was, and is, Mike.
Also … I seem to recall that when I started in the newspaper biz back in the early-mid 80s, there were a fair number of women journalists who used initials like C.J. or M.E. in their bylines as a way to neutralize the gender thing. Am I remembering this right?
alex said on December 20, 2007 at 7:25 am
And I’m a former Chicagoan and still a fan of Mike Sneed. As gossip writers go, she’s got the right voice, not to mention the right sense of discretion. How else does she get absolutely unsympathetic people like mob widow turned politician turned federal convict Betty Loren Maltese to open up and pour her guts out for an exclusive?
I always thought she had the most enviable job in the world, having fun with language while dishing dirt on the who’s who. And it’s just the sort of thing that keeps people buying papers. Fort Wayne Newspapers are you listening?