10 Baby Naming Trends That Should Be Discontinued

Don’t worry, I’m not baby crazed or anything. But anyone who has known me for more than about a week knows that I am, for whatever reason, obsessed with names. Names for pets, names for babies, names for characters — it doesn’t matter. I keep a list of names that I like on my computer and I have a shockingly enormous collection of name books on my shelf at home.

When it comes to naming characters — because I am, after all, a fiction writer — nothing but the best will do. I spend hours picking out the most fitting name and won’t rest until it’s perfect. I’m sure I’ll do the same, if not to a more fanatical degree, should I ever have a pet of my own, or if I (god forbid) become a parent. But sometimes I feel other people don’t put in nearly enough thought into the names they give their children. As a huge name nerd, I have guilty pleasure names like Nero and Drusilla. Good names for characters. Bad names for children. Because remember — children are individuals themselves, and they grow up to be (gasp!) real people. And as bad as it is to be saddled with a boring-ass name, it’s definitely way worse to get a name like Dweezil or Pilot Inspektor or Peaches.

These are the trends that I hate the most for one reason or another in no particular order. It’s hard to rank the injustice

10. Giving your child a middle name … and then calling them by it.

I don’t know what the deal is with this. I don’t think I’ll ever really get it. Apparently it’s a thing that some Southern families do, maybe to differentiate two different family members named John, maybe for some other reason that I’m not exactly privy to. They’ll name a child John Robert … and instead of calling him John or  Johnny or even John Robert or J.R, they decide to call him Robert. And not only that — Robert then becomes this child’s given name for all intents and purposes. He might even be called Rob or Bobby. And the only time John comes up again is if his parents are really furious and he’s drawn on the walls or drunk all their good whiskey, and they yell “JOHN ROBERT SMITH, YOU GET YOUR LITTLE BUTT DOWN HERE.” So why is he not named Robert John? I can’t come up with any good reason for the confusion that’s definitely going to ensue in school when his teacher calls attendance and he has to explain to the entire class that he goes by Robert, not John, and that it’s his middle name. Why not just cut out all that tiresome explanation by just naming him Robert John? It’s just silly.

9.  Giving your child a “filler” middle name.

So let’s go the complete opposite route as above. I don’t understand why you would give your baby a first name that never gets used and a middle name that is used as a first name, but I also don’t understand why you’d even give someone a middle name if it doesn’t have any meaning to you. You can use the middle name slot to honour a family member or a friend, to put that really cool name in there that you’ve always loved, or to give your child the option of going by their middle name later on in life (in case your choice of first name wasn’t their cup of tea). I maintain that girls with the middle names Marie, Rose, and Ann were named by unimaginative parents, because you can use this name spot for anything you want. It can have meaning or it can be your opportunity to be creative and have fun without dooming your child to an embarrassing name situation for all eternity. So really — unless you have a great-aunt Marie or roses happen to be your favourite flower, leave the dull names at home. I personally take great pride in my “weird” middle name, though I know not everyone does. I like having a full name that nobody else in the world has. Because is it likely that there’s another Kendra Sidony Recht out there? Nope. It makes me feel like I truly am one of a kind. And I’m not saying you have to name your child Mary Prunella. But what about Mary Jacqueline, or Mary Sophia, or Mary Isabelle? Why does it always have to be Elizabeth, Claire, Rose, Ann, or Marie? And really, who wants to be one of four Sarah Anns or Emily Roses in their class? No one, that’s who.

8. Naming children after yourself, your spouse, or another friend or family member.

Many people might read this and get upset, because frankly, the reason most people name their children after other folks in their lives is to honour them. It’s a noble cause — I’m not bashing it. But as great as honouring family members or friends may be, is it necessary to have two (or more) people with the same name floating around in the same family? And unless it’s a name like Elizabeth that has a wide variety of nicknames (Liz, Beth, Betsy, Betty, Elle, Eliza, Libby, etc), confusion will be inevitable. But it’s more than confusion at stake. I feel that when people name their kids after themselves or another family member, they’re sort of robbing a child of his or her own identity. I know that sounds drastic, but hear me out: a name is a point of pride. It is the thing that is your own from the day you come into this world until the day you die. People remember you by this name, they define you by it, and if you happen to be Scott Junior — or heaven forbid Scott III — you instead get all these familial expectations pushed on you, whether your parents mean it or not. There is already a prescribed identity to the person or people carrying this name who have already lived and have already done many things, both good and bad. A “junior” starts off as a mini-me — and that’s the point, isn’t it? Thinking so highly of yourself that you name your child to honour … well, you? And with a junior or a III, there isn’t even the distinction of having your own middle name, which could at least help to set you apart. It’s especially bad when the poor thing is relegated to being called “junior” as a nickname. I mean … yikes. Look, guys, I get tradition — I understand that tradition, to many people, is a very important thing. But does it have to seep into naming practices like this? There are other ways to honour somebody. Off the top of my head I can think of quite a few. You can use a similar name, or a name with the same meaning, or choose that person’s birthstone or month or favourite flower or something else that’s in their interests. My mom hates her name, so it’s not like I’d ever saddle a child with it. But if I really wanted to honour her, maybe I’d call my daughter Cassandra, because it’s the name of a character in her favourite novel. Or maybe I’d let my mom choose a few names, and bring her into the naming conversation. That probably shows more love and respect than just choosing the name Barbara. So since you can honour people in fun and creative ways, is it really necessary to repeat names within a family? Especially because then you can avoid all the petty drama when Great Uncle Edgar finds out that he doesn’t get a baby named after him. Remember that no children want their parents’ heavy hopes and expectations weighing on them for all eternity, and they certainly shouldn’t have to be reminded of these lofty goals every time they hear their name called.

7. Naming your child the same name as another child in the family.

This kind of goes with the above quibble, but it’s less out of honour and more out of stupidity. At least, that’s what I get out of this sort of situation. I know that you may have a large extended family, and that you and your cousin might both adore the name Liam, but if your cousin uses Liam, do you really need to do it too? There are other fine names out there. There are, in fact, hundreds of thousands of them. Why must you decide to confuse your entire gaggle of friends and family by naming your child the same name as another child that you spend a lot of time with? Do you really need two cousin Liams? It’s especially weird if it’s not a family name. If it is, that’s not really my cup of tea but I can at least somewhat get behind the reasoning. But if it’s just a name two different people in the same family (or circle of close friends, even) just happen to like, you should probably let the person who has the child first (or at least announces their intention to use the name first) have the name. Because doesn’t everybody want their child to be special?

6. Names inspired by the place of conception.

Pro-tip here, parents: no kid wants to find out that his or her name’s meaning is the place in which you copulated. It doesn’t matter if the end result was little Brooklyn; it’s still sex, and it’s still probably not a thing your child wants to think about when finding out the origin of their name. I had this experience myself once when I was told — very tactlessly, I might add, over dinner — that my parents considered naming me Geneva. As in Switzerland. Let me tell you, there’s nothing that puts you off  a nice fancy dinner like the thought of your parental units doing it. And really — does any kid want to know that about their parents? Yes, of course intellectually we all know our parents had to do the deed otherwise we would not exist, but we don’t want to actually know any of the details. We like to keep it fuzzy, bleeped out like a censored rap song. And that’s just the good names that come out of this scenario. How else do you think we get names like Number 16 Bus Shelter? I’ll leave it to your imagination.

5. Names that put incredible expectations on children.

We’re talking, here, about names that confer a lot of meaning upon the child. It isn’t bad to give your child a name that means “wise” if you want him or her to be wise. But to actually name your child a virtue, particularly one that’s hard to follow, it could really backfire. I feel like sometimes by naming their daughter Chastity, parents are congratulating themselves on a job well done. “Brilliant,” says the mother, “Now she’ll have this constant reminder that SEX IS BAD.” Dad will agree. He’ll say, “She’ll be the most virtuous of them all.” Now, have you met any girls name Chastity? I haven’t, but I’ve got friends who have, and they all come to the same general consensus: all Chastitys are complete hoes. I feel like a name like that just begs to be rebelled against. Think about it. All her life, little Chastity has been told what her name means. She’s definitely been teased about it since the boys in middle school figured out the definition, and the girls probably all whispered behind her back, giggling that maybe Chastity isn’t living up to her name, or maybe that she’s a total prude like her name. And can anyone live up to it? Chastity has no choice but to either fully rebel and get the flak or go with it and still get teased. But it’s not just virtue names; there are names like Hercules and Beauty that nobody can live up to. Can a boy named Hercules really be that strong, that god-like, that attractive? What if Beauty’s just a homely little girl? It’s great if your kid can live up to names like this, but who are we kidding? It never works out quite the way you want it to.

4. “Youneek” Spellings.

I spell “unique” this way because sometimes it’s the only way to properly express the injustice being done to normal names everywhere. Every parent wants his or her child to be one of a kind, and they want their child’s name to reflect this. That’s nothing new. But there are heaps of interesting names that aren’t in the top 100 or even the top 1000 that you could use to make your baby stand out and not look like they went to a white trash convention in Appalachia. Instead of looking for these hidden gems, many parents decide that they want to name their child something very mundane, very run-of-the-mill, but because they feel there are too many little girls named Emily bopping around in their neighbourhood, they decide the best way to deal with this is to use the name but spell it Emmy-Lee or Emmaleigh. Newsflash, parents: it still sounds exactly the same, so your dumb kid is still going to be one of six Emilys in her class, plus it looks like you had an aneurysm while choosing her name. Is Katelynne really all that different from Caitlin? Doesn’t Jaxson look way stupider than Jackson?. And does anyone actually think the spelling Lyndsie looks cute? Really, guys, it’s not unique, you’ve just spelt it wrong. And imagine the confusion when the poor thing is trying to first write its name, or correct teachers at school! There’s also this brand new thing with the letter “y.” Everyone loves the letter “y.” I can’t tell you the reason, except for the fact that many new parents seem to believe that the letter “y” makes a different noise than it actually does. Trashy people like to stuff as many “ys” in their kid’s names as they can handle. Fynn. Jasmyne. Addisyn. Krystyna. THE LETTER DOESN’T SOUND LIKE THESE THINGS. USE OTHER VOWELS.  And hey, boy-names-on-girls lovers (we’ll be getting to that soon) — it doesn’t make a name more feminine when you replace other respectable vowels with their shabby cousin “y.”

3. Boys Names On Girls.

For a very long time, I’ve had a thing against boys names on girls. I’m aware that names like Lindsey and Jocelyn used to be boy names long ago, but I’ve made my peace with those. It’s inevitable that every now and again, over time, names will migrate from one sex to the other. But that isn’t the trend I’m talking about. I’m talking about the trend where parents feel that to be cool or edgy, they have to name their daughter Kennedy or Killian or Bryce. They do this to be unique and interesting. They see actresses like Blake Lively and they say “see, it worked for her!” But Blake Lively is beautiful and can pull off a masculine name. What if your daughter is a fugly as? What if she hates that her name is Maxwell? This is where feminine middle names come in, of course, because then if she’s Maxwell Louise, she can always go by Louise. And boys might think it’s cool, but they also might tease her incessantly for it. It’s a toss-up. Plus, you’ve got to gauge how popular this boy name is going to be. In Bergen County, New Jersey, you’d better bet that there will be about ten male Michaels per grade, so you probably shouldn’t name your little girl that. And can we talk about the repercussions of using boy names for girls? Because I’m pretty sure these days Madison and Riley and even Elliot are listed as unisex names. Hell, on babynames.com even James, a classic biblical name, is classified that way. Supporters of this trend will say that it’s a move towards equality, in which no name is gendered — but is that actually true? Nuh uh. The second a name moves from masculine territory to feminine territory, the boys lose another name. It may not be fair, but it works the same as when we judge men for wearing makeup but not women for wearing jeans. As soon as Ashley became a popular moniker for baby girls all across America, the name went out of vogue for boys. A boy named Laura would be beaten up every day in the schoolyard for the rest of his young life. The parents who think boy names fit girls well do not also believe the opposite, which makes it annoying and hypocritical, because then they are stealing names from the boys and giving them all to the girls — and once a name swaps sides, it doesn’t often swing back around.

 2. Themed family names.

Very few things are tackier than sibling sets with themes. Or shall I say overt themes, because some are clever. You can get away with some. You may not realise at first that a sibset named Juliet, Tamora, and Sebastian are all named after Shakespearean characters, but you’re sure as hell going to figure it out right away when they’re named Luna, Hermione, and Sirius. It’s too much. Way too cutesy. Don’t name all your girls after flowers, and certainly try to avoid things like having the same endings (i.e. Hunter, Jasper, Tyler). And while it may be cute and tempting to follow in the Kardashians’ footsteps, it’s probably not the brightest idea to name all your children starting with the same letter. Now, I should preface this by saying I’m not terribly bothered by siblings both having names with the same letter. My sister and I are Kendra and Kerry. However, this was incidental — it just happened that my parents liked the way the names sounded together as a set, and they really liked the name “Kerry” — so what if it started with the same letter as mine? But the problem arises when families set out to do a sibling set with just one letter. Let’s say it’s the letter O. They love Olivia for a girl and Otto and Owen for a boy — but then god forbid, what happens if they have another girl? They don’t care for Octavia or Ophelia or Opal, but they’re afraid to go against the pattern they’ve already set up for themselves. How can you have three children with O names and one without? See, now they’ve backed themselves into a corner and there’s not terribly much they can do about it aside from suck it up and scour the interwebs for an O name they don’t despise, or they break the pattern and little Amy is forever asking questions about why she is the one with the different name, and when you tell her it’s because she’s special, your little O crowd gets upset because then they aren’t special. Man, aren’t kids great.

1. Matchy Twin Names.

This is like above but worse. I feel as though some people think twins are the same person split into different bodies. But to be clear, a twin’s identity isn’t defined by the fact that he or she is a twin. They just happen to come out of the womb with another person who may or may not look exactly like them. They’re separate people. Not one person multiplied by two or divided in two, depending on the way you look at it. This misconception is going to plague your twins for the rest of their lives, so you probably might not want to give people any more fodder. Don’t give them names that rhyme, or names that are boy-girl variations of each other (like Luke and Lucy or Nicholas and Nicole). Don’t give them any names that might have the same nicknames, like that one MTV Teen Mom did with Aliannah and Aleeah — you can’t control what other people call them, so they could both end up as “Ali.”. Because come on, it’s confusing for everyone involved, including the twins. And you. Remember that you need to remember who is who, too. I sometimes think people forget that for approximately eighteen years, they will be calling their children to dinner, yelling at them for running into traffic, or asking them to do chores — all of which will require you to recall who got what name. And believe you me, no one likes getting called by the wrong name. Sometimes my dad calls me by my sister’s name by accident and I give him the stink eye. And sometimes he calls my sister Paul after his brother. No one really knows why. But that’s another story entirely.

I think the worst possible “matchy” sets, though, are the really strange ones, where people forget that their children are siblings. Some twins are called Adam and Eve. Or Edward and Bella. Or Romeo and Juliet. Please, readers, enlighten me. Why would you want to name your twin son and daughter after tragic lovers? Or any lovers for that matter? Isn’t it going to be very uncomfortable and weird when they realise the inspiration behind their names? It would give me the fucking creeps.

There are heaps more terrible trends out there, but I don’t have the time or energy to recount them all. There’s the “-Ayden” trend, in which half the names in the top one hundred are Brayden, Aiden, Caden, Jayden, et al. There’s the trend of naming kids word names like Apple and Story, and the the trend of putting random apostrophes into random spots in the name. There’s the trend of poor folks naming their children Bentley and Tiffany after things they could never afford in a million years, and the list goes on and on and on and on and on. And hey — if you happen to have children you’ve named with these trends, please feel free to bash me until the cows come home, because after all, enough people do this shit that I wrote a post to complain about it.

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10 Songs That Make Me Want to Kill Myself

Obviously there is no shortage of bad music in the world. There are people who, like Paris Hilton, have no talent to speak of and can get away with making (or at least singing) less than stellar songs just based on their reputations and the fact that sometimes audiences are too stupid to understand that music is supposed to be an art. A lot of the drivel that’s out there certainly doesn’t live up to that name.

In the same way that I feel all people think they can write well just because they have a decent story in them, I also feel many people believe that making music is easy; that if they insert a couple of key lyrical concepts (mainly revolving around love) and a reasonably danceable beat, they’re golden. And being able to sing doesn’t make you good at making music. American Idol and The Voice have long since been the bane of my existence because it has nothing to do with the creative process of writing songs and feeling it from the heart. Instead, it’s pretty much glorified karaoke that gets the best or most popular (the latter of which has never been a great measurement of talent) singer a recording contract worth millions. And real artists get left in the dust.

That said, this is not a blog post about songs that I think are awful. That would take me probably ten years to write and would result in a book the size of the Oxford English Dictionary. This is a blog post about the songs that make me want to hurl myself out the window every time I hear them — and here they are from least heinous to most.

10. “Lucky” by Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat.

“Lucky” is everything a bad love song could possibly be. The lyrics manage to reach new astounding levels of insipid sappiness. It’s number ten on the list because it’s not quite as offensive as some of the others, but the lyrics actually make me want to puke. “Lucky to be in love with my best friend”? “Lucky we’re in love in every way”? My gag reflex just went haywire writing that. And that’s without having listened to the actual tune. The sparse instrumentals are reminiscent of a bad Jack Johnson song, and I really hate Jack Johnson. It’s the kind of song you might serenade your lover with on a ukelele if you hated them and wanted them to leave you. It’s the dopey surfer version of “Hey There Delilah.” And it probably doesn’t help that I think Colbie Caillat has a vocal style equivalent to Pac-Sun — a store, which for my friends on this side of the world, specialises in faux-surfer duds and is found almost exclusively in malls. She has a voice made for elevator music. And no one likes elevator music.

9. “American Boy” by Estelle featuring Kanye West

I can’t pinpoint exactly why I detest this song. I think it’s probably because the tune is just so grating. Estelle has the flimsiest voice ever, and although I generally really like Kanye, his rapping style in this song just went down the drain. It’s more singing along with the tune, which, if you remember from about two lines ago, is not good. It’s like a hip-hop easy listening song, and those two things should not mix. Not now, not ever. You will probably notice that in this list, there are a few recurring themes within the songs chosen. One of them is monotone vocals. Or at least vocalists that fluctuate between two or three notes like a retarded child playing a butchered rendition of chopsticks. “American Boy” is very guilty of doing this and it makes me die. Everywhere.

8. “You’re Beautiful” by James Blunt

Oh god do I hate this song. It bothers me in the same way that “Lucky” bothers me, but worse. His voice disgusts me — it kind of sounds like the guy from Five for Fighting and a wild turkey mated and their unfortunate child started subscribing to the emo lifestyle. The video’s emo as fuck, too. He just strips awkwardly, looking all soulful and shit, and then jumps into the ocean because this beautiful girl doesn’t love him back. Get with the program, James Blunt, you’re not the only person who has wanted to date someone miles out of their league and has been spurned. This happens to me very frequently. But do I write bad songs and then strip and jump off a cliff? No. You know why? Because I’m not desperate. And Blunt sounds like a desperate guy, even though he’s famous and could easily snag a pretty lady if he wrote better music. Between his “soulful” caterwauling and inspired words, it’s no wonder he hasn’t got the girl. “My life is brilliant, my love is pure”? Sure, Blunt, we’ll be the judge of that.

7. “Fireflies” by Owl City.

Have you heard this guy’s voice? If you look up the term “whiny” in the dictionary, this asshole’s name would be the entire definition. Back in the day when emo groups were all the rage, Owl City may have fit in. He certainly sounds like someone’s been pounding him with a brick since he entered middle school. He was probably the kid who went home, cried about being bullied, and made “music” a la Ross Geller on his snazzy keyboard and computer. Every time he attempts to sing a vowel it’s like he’s trying to emulate a flock of Canadian Geese, both in timbre and volume, something not helped by the bad audio effects. And then we hear the tones he’s so carefully crafted into a song. It’s boring. He’s boring. And I swear to god he’s just a thirteen year old boy who did this instead of masturbating one day and he should have just stuck with the good old right hand. I could write a better song than this and I can’t write music for shit. I remember hearing this song once while skiing back home. I’d decided to take a rest because my legs were killing me. But Owl City’s wailing drove me from the beautiful cold bench to the slopes once more. And I preferred the ache in my legs heaps better than the brain aneurysm “Fireflies” would have soon caused me.

6. “Judas” by Lady Gaga

So I used to like Lady Gaga’s music a little bit back when it first came out. It wasn’t that it was anything that fresh; she borrows all of her material from Madonna and Bowie and Marilyn Manson, after all. But back in the day she wasn’t trying too hard. She just made danceable music that had weird lyrics. Then she got popular for her crazy antics and released Born This Way. This album itself isn’t exactly the most cohesive or coherent record that’s ever been made, but the track “Judas” takes the cake. First off, I’m sick of Lady Gaga’s “style” where she repeats vowels and then says her name. Like “Juda-a-a-a-as Gaga”. You know. That. I think the song started out okay — but then it just goes haywire after the first minute. “Judas” starts off like a dark rock song and then, without any warning, slips right into upbeat pop territory. Her little “oh oh oh ohs” in the background don’t seem to fit, either. And then have you heard around halfway through the song? If you haven’t, listen now — around 3:25 in this video. It’s like Gaga forgot what sort of song she was writing … again. I won’t even go into the fact that the instrumentals need some heavy work; they sound like that odd keyboard effect from way back in the day that made me think of a gorilla in a weird, synthesized jungle. Or a really bad fake bass riff. But then from that very weird departure into electro-land, she goes back to the pop song without any reasonable or logical transition. It’s as though she took all the scraps of melodies she recorded in studio, realised she needed one more song to flesh out the rest of her CD, and then hurriedly mixed and matched these little musical tidbits to create a bad song. Plus, can we just talk about how Lady Gaga is just totally trying to shock the general public? No one writes a song in which they state their undying love for Judas if they’re not gagging for attention.

5. “My Humps” by The Black Eyed Peas.

….There is really nothing good to say about this song. Honestly. Give me one good thing to say about it and I’ll punch you in the nose. Let’s start with the fact that I don’t like The Black Eyed Peas. They have no substance aside from singing about going to clubs and having sex and partying and whenever they do have a “deep” song, like “Where is the Love” (that was going to go on here, too, but I didn’t want to put two songs by the same artist on it. That would be cheap), it comes out as disingenuous. But while I really hate “Pump It” and “I Got a Feeling,” this song is leagues below their usual low standards in terms of maturity, lyrical sophistication, and melodic virtues. There is no acceptable lyric in this entire song. Not a single one. “What you gon do wit all that breast, all that breast inside that shirt?” is actually a line. No lie. And the most frequently repeated phrase in the entire track is “My humps,” followed closely by “My lump.” Not only are these horrendously unsexy terms for a lady’s parts, they’re completely nonsensical. And “milky milky cocoa puff”? Look, dude, we get it, you like sexytimes. Get over it. Plus, Fergie’s got a halfway decent voice (when she doesn’t sing notes that are way too high for her to hit), and to hear her just sing in the breathiest, whiniest voice known to man is somehow even almost as offensive as the rest of the song. There is no reasonable explanation for why this song was made or how it became so bloody popular, and I’d pay good money for it to disappear off the playlist of every bad bar mitzvah/wedding/sweet sixteen/prom DJ in America.

4. “Tear You Apart” by She Wants Revenge.

First of all, I want to preface this one by saying how damn much I wanted to like this song and band. The video is deliciously eerie, their style’s a hundred percent my aesthetic, and the background music’s got a lot of potential. But then the singer. Oh, the singer. Most people know that nothing will ruin a song for me like a bad vocalist, and the lead singer of She Wants Revenge is one of the worst I’ve ever heard. This asshole sings in a complete monotone but he doesn’t even manage to be dull. It’s like a cheese grater to the head. It’s like the worst rapper and the worst rock crooner came together and forgot how to do everything. Even when She Wants Revenge’s singer does attempt other notes they somehow — magically — sound the same as all the other notes. It would fuck with my dad’s ear, and he’s got perfect pitch.

3. “The Beautiful People” by Christina Aguilera

Holy fuck. Holy fuck. The first time I ever heard this song I was at work, minding my own business, probably restocking some bath bombs or something … and this song came on. My head snapped up in awe when I heard the intro. Was it possible that Lush was playing Marilyn Manson in store? And then all my hopes and dreams were shattered when I heard Christina Aguilera’s voice soaring over the stolen beat. Now, look, I like covers. I have no problem with people covering songs. I really don’t. But this isn’t a cover. This is a bastardization. It’s cruel and unusual punishment to the ear. Aguilera — or whoever wrote this, because it is from the film Burlesque — changed all the lyrics to the song except the words “the beautiful people,” undermined the entire meaning, and made it shallow. She took one of the most iconic drum sequences and put this bizarre tune over it. It’s totally incongruous — the lyrics, the music, everything about it. It just does not make any fucking sense and it makes me want to slit open my eyeballs with scissors, to borrow a phrase from my sister. Like where did they get the idea to put that set of notes with this drum beat? Tell me. I must know. And who is responsible for this mess? How did this happen? What did Marilyn Manson do to deserve this absolute destruction of his song? I mean, granted, “The Beautiful People” is one of my favourite songs by him, and probably one of my favourite songs of all time, and this is most likely why this track horrifies me so fucking much, but … it’s not just because I like the original. It’s because Christina Aguilera did not do a very good job covering it. Or, you know, making it listenable. Or anything. I need to stop ranting about this one now because I could actually go on forever about it, it makes me that furious. So, next!

2. “Friday” by Rebecca Black

Yeah, yeah, picking on Rebecca Black might be too easy. But this is a list of the songs that make me want to kill myself, and “Friday” is … dear lord. I can’t express how much I hate it. I know she didn’t write it and that annoying black dude did, and I don’t necessarily blame Rebecca Black for this travesty, but let’s call a spade a spade: this song is easily one of the most aggravating pieces of shit ever. There are too many elements to trash here, but let’s start with the words. There has never been anything more stupid written, except maybe all the other songs this same dude made happen in his artistic ability. The depth is astounding. “Which seat do I take” is a classic existential question that everybody faces. I know every time I get into Craig and Lil’s Waka, I’m paralysed for a moment about the implications of the seat that I take — how will this choice affect the rest of my life? And then the spell is broken because I realise that in my few seconds of indecision, Ali has already called shotgun and I’m relegated to the back. Again. But I digress. “Yesterday was Thursday. Today it is Friday. We we we we so excited … Tomorrow is Saturday and Sunday comes afterwards.” Really mind-blowing stuff there. But I guess aside from the stupid lyrics, there’s Black’s voice. I’ve heard she’s not actually half bad at singing, but this remains to be seen. The autotune on “Friday” is atrocious. And god, the way she actually says the title word is like an audio kick to the genitals. FRAWIIIIIIIIIIIDAAAAY. Just. Like. That.

1. “That’s Not My Name” by The Ting Tings.

The second this beat comes over the loudspeaker I want to run very, very far away. My brain shuts off. Or it tries to, but the horrible screeching of The Ting Ting’s lead singer permeates my brain and drills little tiny holes into it. Instead of singing — and the girl does know how to sing, as I’ve heard her on rare occasions actually hit some real notes — she yells like a cheerleader on crack. But the screeching … it haunts my dreams. It’s the Boylston Screech of music, and the Boylston Screech, for those non-Bostonians reading, sounds exactly like this:

And then there’s the clapping. Clapping plus high-pitched shouting equals more cheerleading. And who wants a song to sound like it belongs on the sidelines of a bad high school football game? Not me. I can’t stand anything put out by this band, but this song in particular is the one I’d describe as being my personal hell. In my version of hell, The Ting Tings are dancing around me, shouting this song over and over and over again until my skull explodes. Then my head reassembles and we go through the process again until the universe ends.

The Ten Most Useless Kitchen Tools that People Actually Buy

As a fledgling cook, I definitely worship at the Altar of Brown: Alton Brown. One of my favorite Brown psalms is that you should 86 anything from your kitchen that only has one use. He doesn’t mean items like knives, that can only chop, he means things like a Strawberry Huller, that ONLY hull strawberries. There are so many gadgets out there for convenience that just end up being expensive clutter. After working at a home electronics store, I have witnessed with my own eyes as the heathen non believers have shelled out money for these items. Here are the worst ones.

Breadmakers

This is potentially the most controversial one on the list, so I figured I’d list it right up front and get everyone all good and pissed off. Many people swear by bread makers. These people are the worst. Basic bread is approximately three ingredients. If you can’t figure out how to put flour, water and instant yeast in a bowl, you shouldn’t even really be in the kitchen. Plus, bread maker bread often tastes like oasis foam. As far as I can see, bread makers are for people who want to give the illusion of being able to bake*. You can make beautiful sourdough bread easily in your regular old oven with a cast iron pot. Instead of spending 80 bucks on a bread maker, spend 20 on any of Peter Reinhart’s books and you’ll be much, much happier.

*Side note: Kendra did bring up a good point that bread makers ARE a huge time saver, whereas many of these items really don’t save you much time at all. So I will give that kudos to breadmakers: they ARE fast, and the bread is better than buying wonder bread. And mixing and matching ingredients can be fun.But if you’re short on cash, and space, in your tiny apartment kitchen, and you buy a bread maker, you’re a damn fool.

Any “Slicer” That Can Only Be Used for One Food

How fucking lazy are you? You seriously can’t use a knife? Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t realize you liked having no room left in your kitchen drawers and having to make deals with God every time you try to open or close one, because you have plastic handles and metal springs sticking up every which way to block the sliding mechanism. Yes, having slices that are uniform in thickness is better for cooking and baking, but how much are you cooking or baking with slices of bananas or strawberries? You’re probably throwing these in a fruit salad or lunch box snack. Just use a knife you waste of space.

Cupcake Maker

I love cupcakes as much as the next gal, but if you are shelling out money for a cupcake maker, you have some serious, serious mental problems. It saves no time, no mess, and instead of soaking a cupcake pan in the sink for 20 minutes after baking, you have to gingerly and carefully clean an electronic device. The only conceivable excuse for this purchase would be if you actually don’t own an oven. And then, I think you really need to re-examine if your priorities. Should you be figuring out how to make cupcakes or instead finding a way to be a little less homeless? It just seems like utter nonsense to me. I’m not even sure what the point of this is actually supposed to be, since unlike even the breadmaker which saves tons of time and effort, you still have to fall all of the same friggin steps as you would when you put them in the oven. The sole purpose this is sold is because cupcakes are so god damn trendy right now (and don’t even get me started on that).

Yogurt Maker

A Yoplait costs like 60 cents at the grocery store. It’s honestly most likely not going to save you like, any money to make your own yogurt in a yogurt maker, especially because you have to buy certain size jars and little packets of mix. I understand the desire to make things from scratch that you probably shouldn’t be bothered to try making, believe me (true story: I am looking into how to make my own tofu), but guess what? You know what you really need to make yogurt? A bowl, a spoonful of existing yogurt, some milk, and a slightly warm oven. That’s it. Seriously. Google it. It’s like, science or something. If you are curious enough in the kitchen (and I commend you if you are!) to want to make your own yogurt, you really shouldn’t be lazy or foolish enough to buy a yogurt maker.

Automatic Whip Cream Whipping Can

If you are at a point where you even desire homemade whipped cream, I think it’s safe to assume that you bake on the regular enough to own a fucking electric hand mixer. They cost the same amount and you can use the hand mixer for many other delight full things like mixing cake batter, or cookie dough. It takes about four minutes of whipping to whip cream with a hand mixer. You can even do it with a regular whisk if you’re really hard core and you have the forearm strength of a Swedish shot put. If anyone came up to me and said, “Check out my new whip cream whipper!” I’d roll up a news paper and smack them on the nose.

Egg Cooker

What that phrase should mean is a pot full of water, or a frying pan. Tragically, what it actually means is a huge dome shaped electrical device that you rest some eggs in, and it cooks them for you. Seriously. I’m not sure who looked at the kitchen supply market and though, “I see a need, so I will fill it!” I eat eggs almost every day for breakfast. I really don’t want to have to haul out a specific machine, plug it in, heat it up, and go through an involved cleaning process, especially before I’ve had my coffee.

Pie Maker

Don’t get me wrong, if I could buy Lee Pace at William’s Sonoma I would be lining up to sell my remaining Ova to afford it. Sadly, this is not what they’re charging about two hundred bucks for. Much like the cupcake maker, this is a very pricey, very cumbersome device that takes up precious room in your cabinet. It has four little cups in it for making adorable teensy pies. Believe you me, I am a sucker for anything mini. Or adorable. Or made by Breville. But this is…ugh. How often do you honestly have a craving for tiny pies!? At least eggs are something people often eat almost daily. If you were packing away mini pies on the daily you would…be fat. Period. And, if you were good enough at making pies that you could successfully make them every day, you should be man enough to just make the teeny ones in a cupcke tin. You can also buy mini cake pans. That are small, and cheap. And probably dishwasher safe AND NOT TWO HUNDRED DOLLARS.

Blenders Marketed as Alcoholic Drink Makers

Again, I want to be clear that it’s not the end product I have a problem with. Pina Coladas are some of the tastiest things ever. However, I really don’t think even the most boozy of folks need a two hundred dollar monstrosity (note: the one in the picture is 500 bucks) of a blender that looks about as tacky as a chipped plastic Santa on your neighbor’s lawn that’s still out in February. A regular blender would really do just fine, I promise. I have used one of these blenders before, and they are kind of fun. They do shave the ice in a very efficient way, but there’s really no way I would ever justify even just the space it takes up. This thing is about two feet high and has about 8 million removable parts. What owning this item really says about you: “I don’t need a real blender because I drink all my meals.”

Electric Salt and Pepper Mills

“Don’t you just hate when you can’t summon the energy to grind black pepper after a long day’s work?” Said no one ever. I think this might win as most useless out of all of these, even though it is not the most expensive, or the most cumbersome. It wins because … is anyone looking at their meals saying, “You know, this could really use some ground black pepper…but that grinder is just so hard to use!” No. So how can you justify shelling out forty dollars on it? ….It’s rechargeable?

Pasta Maker

Let’s get something straight here: fresh, homemade pasta is incomparable. On lasagne, for ravioli, you really can’t go wrong. However, this beauty costs over 500 dollars. Do you know how many ingredients pasta is? Two. Flour, and eggs. The only cool thing about this is that it can make ziti, where rolling zitis by hand would probably make you want to kill yourself. The thing is, unlike lasagne or ravioli, any dish that features ziti really doesn’t showcase the quality of the pasta you use. When you think Baked Mac and Cheese, are you thinking about the Mac, or are you thinking about the cheese? I rest my case.

Salad Spinner

I saved this one for last because I feel like the salad spinner is like, the original useless kitchen supply. I’m not really basing this on any knowledge of kitchen utensil history, except that salad spinners to me SCREAM cheesy 70s wedding gift. You cant use a tongs to mix your salad? Seriously? You have to buy a device to use centripetal force to move your damn vegetables around? Now, readers, tell me honestly. Have you ever either as a dinner guest, or had a dinner guest who, complained about your salad portion not having the perfect ratio of tomatoes to onions to lettuce? I mean come on people, barely anyone cares enough about salad to actually eat it, and those who do only pick out the shit they like anyway. Unless all of your dinner guests are obsessive compulsive who will lose their shit if their salad components are not perfectly and completely 100% coated with dressing, you can probably just “jeuje” it around and call it a day. Apparently, according to my dear friend Jesse, salad spinners are actually used to spin the excess moisture off of salad ingredients. Embarrassed though I was to be corrected, I think this actually makes it even better! getting rid of minuscule water droplets is even more useless than mixing. I have never once sent back a salad, or refused to eat one, because it was too moist. If you need your salad to be that perfectly dry…well, I actually wouldn’t even know how to react to that.

In conclusion: Don’t invite me over for dinner because I will probably just scowl at all the stuff in your kitchen and make everyone super uncomfortable.

Ten Pokemon Who Were Clearly Afterthoughts

Just about everyone in my generation at least experienced the periphery of the Pokemon craze, and though I’d say it’s not nearly as popular now as it was then, I and and millions of other gamers worldwide still shell out about 30 bucks every year or two to buy the latest version. Whenever someone asks me what I’m playing on my DS and I answer, “Pokemon!” I get a number of responses. One of the most popular is the following:

“EW! I don’t like ANY Pokemon besides the original 150.”

Now, while I agree that most of the originals put recent iterations to shame, I find this perspective extremely narrow minded. First because let’s face it, some of the original 150 were ugly as (I’m looking at you, Magmar). Second, because some of the new ones are actually really cute, pretty or awesome (personally, I am a huge sucker for Umbreon and Espeon, two additional evolutions developed for Eevee). However, I do give the people who hate all new Pokemon some credit: many of the newly designed Pocket Monsters are ugly, weird, and completely uninspired. I debated making a list of the ugliest pokemon since Mewto, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that MANY of the original 150—Mr Mime, Eggsecutor, Koffing—were just as ugly. I decided instead to make a list of Pokemon whose designs, names, and abilities are so unimaginative that it’s clear the designers were like “Ah shit, we only made 97 new ones for this game, we need 13 more.”

Wobbuffet

I think it’s important to mention that my cousins and I nicknamed this pokemon Condom-on, mainly because he just looks like a condom that somebody blew up with air. And what the hell is coming out of his ass? Solid flatulence? Apparently they are very protective of it though. According to bulbapedia, this pokemon will turn aggressive if it feels as though its tail is being threatened. Got to protect your only friends, I guess… Its species is listed as Patient Pokemon. What does that even mean? My best guess is ‘mental patient drew this pokemon.’

Pineco

 Literally, they just took the word pinecone, struck the “ne” off the end, and stuck some googly eyes on him. “Hmmm…he still just looks like a pinecone…” “I know, make him grey!” Another feature that Pineco has that most average pinecones don’t is that, when agitated, it will drop to the ground from its tree and explode violently without warning. 

Luvdisc

This Pokemon is a fish, in theory, but what it really is is a heart drawn by a drunk, blind four year old. They then rotated it ninety degrees, slapped a fishy face on it and called it a day. The reason this Pokemon exemplifies what’s wrong with recent editions of the game is effort, or lack thereof. Like, come on. Compare this with Pokemon like Rapidash, or even a simple one like Oddish. You could draw this stupid thing in 10 seconds. It’s made of approximately three lines and some blush pink color. Just sad. Its type is listed as Rendezvous Pokemon. Coupled with its name, I can only guess that eating this pokemon will cure erectile dysfunction.

Gulpin

This Pokemon’s species is literally listed as “stomach Pokemon.” What on god’s green earth could have convinced an art director that a sentient, green human stomach with a yellow feather on its…head? Back? Membrane? would be a good character for a game for children? It’s “hidden” ability? Gluttony. No Shit. One of the moves this pokemon can learn is called Gunk Shot. Gunk. Shot. Someone at nintendo actually thought up this move, put thought into what the animation would look like, and how much damage it would do. Thinking about that too hard makes my soul sore.

Trubbish

This Pokemon is a sack of garbage. But actually. It is a bag of trash, and in fact its species is listed as “trash bag Pokemon.” It is 100% obvious to me, and anyone with half a brain in his or her skull that this character design took zero thought or imagination. Seriously, I’m thinking that perhaps their office was just kind of dirty when they thought this up. In Pokemon Black V. 2, I was just recently engaging in a fierce showdown with Team Plasma, and “Team Plasma Grunt” leapt out at me and said, literally, “It’s Trubbish Time!” And then my Vulpix burned it to death. And I was glad. 

Spiritomb

Who drew this? Seriously. Unless the answer is “an adorable three year old with her first box of crayons,” the artist should be hit by a bus, and that result should be turned into a new Pokemon design, and it would be 10x better than this P.O.S. It is made of exactly 108 malevolent spirits who did bad deeds 500 years ago. But actually. This is 100% official data from Nintendo.

 

Cottonee

Pokemon trainers have precious few spots in the party, and are often faced with really tough calls on who makes the cut and who doesn’t. Do they really have room for a Pokemon whose only real use is removing chipped nail polish? In the wild, cottonee’s only form of movement is to be blown around on gusts of wind. It literally cannot move during rainy seasons,because it gets soggy and has to lie under a tree in a heap until it dries. Super useful.

Vanillish

I think one of the most ridiculous about this one is that the creators took this idea, which wouldn’t intimidate any other Pokemon in battle unless it was lactose intolerant, and ran with it for three fricking evolutions. I chose the middle evolution because it really represents the derpiness best. But just so we’re clear, the final evolution is a mutant two headed icecream that, it appears, someone has put a cigarette out in. Top notch, people, top notch.

Klink

Two gears stuck together. Oh, but they’re creative because they’re winking charmingly! Right? Right? Righttttttt?

Sudowoodo

Sudowoodo This crap heap reeks of lost potential. Pokemon has turned inanimate objects into cute or cool looking creatures since day one. Trees are pretty, trees are strong, trees are wonderful forces of nature. There are pines, willows, oaks, birches, so many beautiful things to choose from! And somehow, they landed on this. And that name? Sudo Wood. Like…put him with condomon and there you go!

I would like to say that it was hard to narrow down this list to ten Pokemon, and the universe of this game series there are many, many terribly designed creatures. Who would you have included on this list?