Hello, my name is...

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Ever since I was five, I've been pretty lukewarm on my middle name, Todd. It's not that I dislike the name, but it just never excited me (my apologies to all Todds out there). When I was still in elementary school, I even asked my mom to start paperwork to change the name to something more thrilling. I'm over that now, but I'll admit that I still occasionally think about changing my name, but it's really just because I'm bored. To temper my enthusiasm, I found seven people who had better reasons to change their names.

Millions of football fans know the name Joe Theisman (pronounced like THIGHS-man), whether its because of his win in Super Bowl XVII for the Washington Redskins, the gruesome injury that ended his football career or his abbreviated stint in the booth for ESPN's Monday Night Football. But fans may not recognize the name Joe Theisman (pronounced THEES-man), the quarterback who played at South River High School and Notre Dame. The two are, in fact, the same . So why the name change? Students and staff at Notre Dame changed the pronunciation as a campaigning tactic to get Theisman the coveted Heisman trophy. After all, it's much easier for people to chant "Theisman for Heisman" if the two words rhyme. For all that creative campaigning, though, he ended up coming in second to Stanford's Jim Plunkett.

Friday, 1069 and Mr. Microsoft Zune after the break

For a rapper, the name Dan Miller doesn't do a whole lot. So a 28-year-old entertainer changed his name to "The" Dan Miller Experience. According to Experience, he chose the first name "The" Dan (quotation marks are essential) for no reason, but the whole name change was to create an identity for himself in the entertainment world. His was called the most unusual name change presented to the court in Akron, Ohio, but he said the transition has been smooth so far. Plus he notes the added perk of the ability to name a son "The" Jimi Hendrix Experience.

A Minnesota man found his quest for a name change thwarted in the state's Supreme Court. Michael Herbert Dengler was attempting to change his name to 1069. Each digit had special significance. For example, the one means he is part of the whole of life, while nine represents "relationship to essence in the difference in the meaning when actualizing the spatially everpresent nature of life." The court rejected his attempted, but suggested that "Ten Sixty-Nine" would be acceptable. Never mind he had asked friends to call him "One Zero Six Nine."

zune4.jpgIn November, Steven Smith decided to solidify his love for Microsoft's iPod competitor Zune. So he set out to legally change his name to Microsoft Zune. He says he's not mentally ill and that he won't be deterred on his quest. The name would go well with Zune's three tattoos of the Zune logo (he also has plans for four more). You can follow his journey through the legal process on this message thread, though you should be warned that any real content is predictably difficult to find among the flame wars.

Aurianna Dague was pretty sure that was her legal name, until, at age 11, her mother went to replace her lost birth certificate. That's when they found out that the state division of vital statistics only had her registered with her father's last name, Michael. Dague/Michael and her mother are now embroiled in a long bureaucratic battle that touches on issues of minors' rights, divorce custody and the difficulties of red tape.

An Italian couple is being forced by the country's courts to find a new name for their son, Friday Germano. He was named Friday (Venerdi in Italian) just because they liked the sound ofcrusoe.jpg the name; the parents even said they would have named a daughter Friday (a move that would have resulted in endless "His Girl Friday" jokes). But an Italian tribunal told the couple to change his name to Gregory because his current name was "ridiculous or shameful" and could prevent him from forming personal relationships. They thought the name, besides being outrageously unusual, would conjure up images of Robinson Crusoe's sidekick or would frighten superstitious Italians who believed Friday to be an unlucky day. The parents have vowed to keep fighting and calling their son "Friday," though they admit that he will likely have to start using "Gregory" for official business.

Finally, vegetarian Karin Robertson wasn't just thinking of impressing her employer when she changed her name to GoVeg.com. She wanted to start discussions every time she said her name, since it would stir up debates about vegetarianism. She insists that she's not just a walking billboard for the PETA-run website and that her bosses were even surprised when she came up with the idea. She says her personal quest to start discussions has been successful, since any time she presents her drivers license, she inevitably starts talking about vegetarianism.

So readers, what's the best reason you've heard for a name change? Have any of you considered changing your names? And would you name yourself after a website?

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January 15, 2008 - 8:50am
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