What’s in a name, you ask? Well, a lot


Well, we’re certainly deep into election season now, aren’t we?

Nearly every conversation at some point comes back to those running for highest office in the land, and the cable news networks are sitting back and giggling at their ratings while they provoke more and more angst among viewers with their 24-hour “debate” forums, featuring fringe experts from the extremes of each party in a format specifically designed to get people mad at each other and keep them watching.

Meanwhile, the world has largely missed one of the major political stories of our time — of anybody’s time, really. No, former Point reporter Sam Harvey and I have not announced yet that we will be running for the White House for a third time. But still plenty big.

Santa Claus has been elected.

Yes, boys and girls, Santa Claus has been elected to serve as a city councilman in North Pole, Alaska. The 68-year-old candidate, who changed his name from Thomas Patrick O’Connor about 10 years ago, won a three-year term as one of two write-in candidates for two vacant seats, according to Reuters.

Now, one might think that changing one’s name to Santa Claus is a bit disturbing. I have to admit that thought ran through my mind more than once. But this Claus has long been an advocate for legislation and services that benefit at-risk children. So, not as creepy, right?

No. No, it’s still a little creepy.

Regardless, Claus is now a decision-maker in North Pole, and somehow that just seems right, particularly with the holiday season right around the corner. Of course, I’m sure that someone, somewhere, is pushing for him to change his name again to something less Christmas-specific — such as, say, “Generic Holidayman.” Or, “December 25 Guy.”

When did we all become so sensitive, by the way? I remember growing up with the time-trusted axiom of “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Now it’s more acceptable to beat someone with a stick and a stone than to celebrate your own culture or identity without including everybody else’s at the same time. We have become a society built around the “participation trophy” and...

But I digress.

Claus is not the only person who decided to change his or her name to something a little more memorable. I remember former NFL player Chad Johnson changing his name to “Ocho Cinco” at one point, as an homage to his uniform number (Johnson maybe should have first researched how to say “85” in Spanish, but who am I to judge?). And NBA player Ron Artest changed his to “Metta World Peace” to better... yeah, I have no clue what was going through his mind at the time. Actors have long been known by names different than the ones on their birth certificates, and I’ve actually considered changing my own name to Diggity Ticklepants, but have not yet pulled the proverbial trigger out of deference to my family name.

Well, that, and I don’t want to go about the hassle of ordering new business cards.

But others have, and others will. Of course, sometimes people change their names because they want to start over from scratch, or because they have the same name as a notorious killer or rapist, or because they’ve just hated the name they were given and are finally at an age or economic situation where they could go ahead and do it. Others? Well, let’s just say people have different motivations for doing different things.

For instance, LegalZoom.com compiled a list of some name changes that stood out to them. Allow me to share a few, if you have a minute (and, since you are reading this ridiculous column, I am guessing that time is not your enemy).

A performer by the name of Dan Miller petitioned the court succesfully to change his name to “The Dan Miller Experience,” quotes included. I’ve actually considered going with “The Darin McCann Experience” in the past, but figured everybody would just think my name was an attraction at a discount carnival that included eating bacon cheeseburgers and yelling at my fantasy football team.

On the opposite side of my bacon-cheeseburger binging is/was Karin Robertson, who legally changed her name to “Goveg.com,” a website she considers to be the leading vegetarian site on the Internet. Funny. I would have thought it would have been “EatingBarkIsFun.com.”

The former Justin Brady, a trucker by trade, petitioned a judge to change his name, since he said he no longer had a relationship with his adoptive family. The name he went with? “Ynot Bubba.” Indeed. Why not, Bubba?

This next one sounds like something that could easily happen to one of my friends. Chicago Bears fan Scott Wiese was incredibly excited his team made it to the Super Bowl in 2007. So excited, in fact, that he placed a bet on the outcome of the game, agreeing to take the name of then-Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton Manning if the Bears lost. The Colts won the game 29-17, and the world got another Peyton Manning in the process. I could not get any information to corrobarate my theory that the former Mr. Wiese is now throwing wobbly passes 10 yards at a time, as is his more-famous namesake.

Judging by the way my beloved Baltimore Ravens have started out this season, there will be no more Joe Flaccos around the world after the Super Bowl.

But there will be at least two Santa Clauses.