Trial Balloon

The Name Game

Posted at 5:15 AM on April 23, 2009 by Dale Connelly (22 Comments)

My guest today is local musician Ellen Stanley, who performs as "Mother Banjo".
She's doing a show at the Cedar Cultural Center tonight.
Ellen says the pseudonym was suggested by a co-worker. She "Googled" it and found out no one else was using the moniker, so she took it as her own.

Establishing legal ownership of a name is much more complicated than simply using a search engine to see if anyone else has already grabbed it, but Google searching is a fun and logical first step for anyone curious about prior use.

And just this week, Google added some features to help you influence how the results display when people Google you. Even if you're not the most famous you out there, you can still show up in the first page of results. This would be especially handy if you happen to be named "Barack Obama", but you're not THAT "Barack Obama".

Since "Trial Balloon" is an online community, things you write here sometimes come up during a Google search.

For example, "Googling" Lavender Wench revealed that Lindi's use of this nom de plume in the February 18th posting of "Trial Balloon" is in the #5 spot worldwide for consecutive use of the words "lavender" and "wench", behind some descriptions of lavender colored yarn at "The Yarn Wench" and two other wench - themed sites selling web designs and homemade perfumes.

If you put "Lavender Wench" in quotes, she's number one!

Barb's use of the name "Tammy Waynette" for her goatling came in as the #8th ranked use of those two words together, behind seven people who meant to spell "Wynette", but didn't.

What does this mean for the rest of us?

Nothing lasting or meaningful, but it is fun to think you can begin to homestead some undisturbed nomenclatural territory simply by hitting "post".

Anyone considering adopting a psuedonym?
It looks like "Father Oboe" and "Aunt Castanet" are still available.

"Uncle Glockenspiel", oddly enough, appears to be taken.


Comments (22)

I have an alias in the fall of every year. I am "The Coat Lady" (googled it at your suggestion, Dale... nobody else seems to be using it). I run a large coat program at my church every fall... several years ago my daughter and I ran into a church family at an art festival. The little girl looked and me and looked at me. Finally her face lit up and she said "You're the Coat Lady!". Her father repeated this story several times at church and it stuck!

Barb... how are the new arrivals this morning?? I dreamed about little goats last night, probably from your messages yesterday. Hope all is well in the barn!

Posted by sherrilee | April 23, 2009 6:10 AM


Alanna thanks for the suggestion of pikku poika for a name - i love just saying it! and thanks Cynthia for your thoughts on Norwegian words. and thanks everyone for good thoughts for the two boys and Alba. they are still quite weak - the littlest too weak to suckle on Alba (if she stood still for him) so i'm bottle feeding her milk to him every four hours. last night we let them (and us) sleep over six hours and went out at 4:30 this morning.
i trying not to name them until i know how they will fare.
will try Googling Tired and Anxious GoatMom later.....
across the aisle in the goatbarn, Tammy W, Artful and Dodger are doing famously. Tammy is happy that she has a unique name
what about Princess of Pork?

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | April 23, 2009 6:19 AM


Sherrilee, and All, thanks for your thoughts! the brief times i listen and read your postings these mornings - the blog, the music, Dale & Mike - really lift my spirits = thanks so much.
i'm outta here

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | April 23, 2009 6:25 AM


I had a job where I checked farmer's fields using an insect net. I got the name Bug Man given to me when some one saw me doing this. The coffee shop "jokers" thought it was funny to call me Bug Man. I didn't mind.

This mane is not very unusual according to Goggle.
They have it for 61 people.

Posted by Jim | April 23, 2009 6:33 AM


Barb - ixnay on the orkpay! Urban dictionary is a shocker for that word! I'll stick with Bunny Greenjeans instead.
My best wishes are with you and the wee ones.

Last night I discovered that in our local Dex/Qwest directory, my name isn't even listed. My address and ph.# are there, but it's my ex's name they follow. Out of curiosity, I looked up his business name, and they have my address and ph.# there, as well. That explains why I've been receiving all these messages for his work lately. Do you suppose I have grounds to sue?

Really enjoyed the Earth Day theme yesterday, Dale. I celebrated after work by getting my hair colored.

Posted by Donna | April 23, 2009 6:50 AM


Thanks for the songs Dale! I was going to ask for something, but thought I might be pressing my luck.

Posted by Donna | April 23, 2009 7:18 AM


Good morning, Radio Heartland!

I haven't bothered to google, figure "Goat Lady" is used often, and it no longer applies since I only "rent" goats now.

Long after my ex left, I was stil known as the "rich lawyer's wife" (RICH???? I wonder when that was?).

Day care kids called me "Cyncia" (works for me).

Some names shall remain unspoken.

I'm off to Concordia's Norwegian language camp adult weekend today. I'll keep my ears open for some good norsk names to share.

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | April 23, 2009 7:21 AM


Good morning, everyone.

Barb, hopefully goats grow a lot faster than humans so that you can once again have a good night sleep. I hope they will be strong enough to get names soon.

I have an online nick, which is equivoque. When googled, one of the sites where I once posted photos comes up second after the dictionary definition of the word. A few different sites I frequent pepper the top ten search results, but oddly my website equivoquephoto does not make the first page. Oh well.

I try to avoid being searchable with regards to tech forums I sometimes need to frequent for troubleshooting. I've made up a few names and email accounts for that purpose. ;-)

Posted by elinor | April 23, 2009 7:26 AM


Greetings Heartlanders! Barb, I hope your little goats pull through OK -- what a devoted Mom!

I'm not sure about an alias for me -- someone referred to me as "Queen of Funk" on this forum, which I like. My family calls me Jo-Jo or MoJo. I've used JoJoDancer as a handle for some online stuff or in the ol' CB radio days.

Whatever you call me, just don't call me late for dinner!

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | April 23, 2009 7:41 AM


Not sure if Ellen was previously recorded but tell her Aaron from that other radio station she hangs out at, one that Dale would get fired if he mentioned the call letters on air.

Posted by Aaron | April 23, 2009 7:44 AM


I mean tell her hello from me.

Posted by Aaron | April 23, 2009 7:50 AM


Good Morning!

I picked WheelDancer for my blog identity and the first Google page is all me but for one so it seems to be working.

Barb - Pulling for the two new arrivals.

Posted by Mark | April 23, 2009 7:58 AM


Thanks, Aaron, for the hello.
Ellen was recorded yesterday, so she wasn't here to receive your greeting, but I will pass it along.

The "other" radio station Aaron is referring to is KFAI-FM in the Twin Cities. I wouldn't be penalized in any way for mentioning it, but I decided it had nothing to do with Ellen's work as Mother Banjo, so I didn't bring it up. I also skipped over the part about Ellen being a publicist with the beloved local independent record label, Red House. And I neglected to point out that Ellen will be on TV this morning, on KARE 11's "Showcase Minnesota".
And I didn't point out that Ellen's show tonight will feature the Roe Family Singers, Chad Elliot and other stellar guests.

Gosh, what DID I do?

Posted by Dale Connelly | April 23, 2009 8:11 AM


What's this? A case of non-profit radio rivalry in the making? Will KUMD jump into the fray? What will public television do? And what about Naomi?

(Apparently) I have a name that is emminently unpronouncable and forgettable. Everyone seems to be able to remember ME ("Oh yeah, you're that obnoxious guy...") but not my name. So, I'm generally referred to as "that guy in the hat" because of my preferred headwear. I've been called worse...

Another interesting thing that I deal with as far as names go is in my fiction writing. I write what is typically referred to as 'pulp fiction.' AKA 'dime novels.' For those that remember characters like The Shadow and Doc Savage, that's the style I enjoy working on (but either my own characters or those from the 1930's that are now in the public domain). And when coming up with character names, it's important to devise a name that 'fits' the character's traits. Elaborate names for characters that are more erudite and classy. Short, punchy names for thugs, bruisers, and heavies. It can be a bit frustrating but, in the end, it's really fun when it all comes together.

Also, my high school typing teacher hated her name. None of the rest of us thought it was that bad but it was always something that bugged her. So, during our class she adopted an alias. For fourth hour only, she became, "Vanessa Danger...typing teacher and international agent extraordinaire."

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | April 23, 2009 8:34 AM


My favorite alias is "herbalmike". I was selling herbal nutritional products and it fit nice. I googled it and came up with 38 listings with the top three being about me, mainly having to do with chat rooms and newspaper comments (blog?). Anyway, enjoying the music and praying for the additions to the goat family.

Posted by Mike from Mississippi | April 23, 2009 8:51 AM


hey, guy in the hat---sounds as though you have fun with your writing!

i usually adopt names from characters in fictional works---my favorite (big secret being revealed) is zen parris, which is a mispronunciation by the burmese locals in the novel; i also occasionally use the name of Lord Peter wimsey's wife (yep, nice fantasy).

in case anyone wants to know about the actual process of changing a person's name, i just went through during the past 6 weeks. my foster son is actually my great-nephew, and his birth-certificate last name was the name of his mother's then-current boyfriend who turned out not to be the bio father....sigh. so anyway, now he has the family name, same as me, his grandpa, his mom, and he is so happy about it---makes him feel like part of the family, he says.

process wasn't difficult, cost $250 plus a court hearing in ramsey county, and at court they mainly verified details and asked whether we were trying to perpetrate any sort of fraud; we claimed not and the judge took our word for it.

happy thursday, all---and wishing the the new kidlets well as mama barb gives them extra care.

Posted by Kay H | April 23, 2009 8:52 AM


I wrote my senior paper at the U of M on my town's changeover from septic systems to a sanitary sewer system. My brothers called me "Queen of the Drains."

Posted by Lu | April 23, 2009 8:57 AM


Guy in the Hat,
Your talking about the importance of names in fiction reminded me of something I once read about noticing an author's choice of names for characters...telling detail. I'm currently reading a graphic novel called "The American Way" by John Ridley. Several pages in I finally noticed the names of the superheroes: Amber Waves, Mighty Delta, Ole Miss...for example.

Details.

Have a good day, all.

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | April 23, 2009 9:38 AM


Cynthia and TGinTH... if you enjoy word play w/ names (or just wordplay in general), I would recommend any books of Jasper Fforde. Very funny, very literate ... and great character names!

Posted by sherrilee | April 23, 2009 9:44 AM


Thanks for the recommendations! I've heard Jasper Fforde's name before but haven't read his stuff.

I'm also working on something else right now that will probably have a pretty limited audience but it's just too much fun to stop. A 'comic geek detective' but I'm writing it in a Raymond Chandler-esque noir detective voice. Lots of snarky fun.

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | April 23, 2009 10:22 AM


Not sure if anyone will read this at this late in the day, but when my niece was just learning to talk, I tried to get her to say "Auntie Jennifer", but she just too the first part, Au, and the last part, fer, and put them together. I have been named Auffer ever since, and even though she's almost 25 now, if she calls me anything other than Auffer, it's just not right. I love the name, and have used it many times as alias's.

Posted by Jennifer in St. Louis Park | April 23, 2009 1:49 PM


I missed this yesterday - but I'll play anyway - somebody has to be the caboose!

I've been HarpTonya for years - one word - my avocation + my given name; but I have many alternative monkers - Spike (from my proclivity to slam bowling balls volleyball-style...the lane owners aren't too happy about that) and from my wildchild days of motorcycle riding - and one that makes me smile - I am Mama T to many sweet children over the years who haven't been able to muster up my given name.

The one that is the most common, and most convenient, however is that people consistently call me by my husband's name - some who have known me for decades! (Even my dad did it - THAT was funny) - yes, my husband's name is an equal-opportunity-gendered name - and that comes in handy when sorting out telemarketers and the like. But the strangest thing is this - people I've just met will call me by my husband's name - guess I just look like a Jody, so there you go -

It works for me. Just don't tell my mom - she was rather fond of the name she chose for me, and I don't think she'd be pleased to know that I have apparently taken both my husband's last AND first names... :-)

Posted by HarpTonya | April 24, 2009 6:17 AM


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