Trial Balloon

Ask Dr. Heartlander

Posted at 6:00 AM on December 1, 2009 by Dale Connelly (26 Comments)
Filed under: Ask Dr. Heartlander

Radio Heartland has tickets to give away to a performance by WPA with Antje Duvekot at the Cedar Cultural Center tomorrow night, December 2nd.

As is our habit, we'll keep the gate open until 1pm tomorrow afternoon, the day of the concert, so stick close to your e-mail tomorrow afternoon for a message from producer Mike Pengra. You might be going out!
But only if you ...
Enter the drawing.
And obey the rules.
Good Luck!

Today we begin what I hope will be a recurring Trial Balloon series dealing with the one thing we all long to give away.


Ann_Landers small.jpg

I'm calling it "Ask Dr. Heartlander".
Who is that?

Dr. Heartlander is a sage, a crank, a mystic, a charlatan, a wise Latina woman and also a man of perspective and insight. She is the Mother of Discretion and Mr. Tough Love. Judge Judy and Dr. Phil. Part Landers, part Freud, part Homer Simpson. In short, Dr. Heartlander is All Of Us, and as such, Dr. Heartlander gives practical, reckless, helpful and dangerously misguided advice, sometimes all at once.


Any one who reads the blog is invited to offer a problem for the Doctor to consider. I will re-write your query and change all the names so you will be able to clandestinely give yourself advice in a post attached to your own question. Nice, huh?

Here's our first letter:

Dear Dr. Heartlander,

I recently acquired a cat and am struggling to come up with a proper name for him.

My children, who are grown with lives of their own, want to be in on the naming because they think of this new addition as kin, and have started calling him "William".

"William" jumped on my dresser the other morning and knocked over my coffee. Another time he jumped on the counter and tore apart the bread sack and before that he jumped on the table and knocked over a plant. He attacks my socks, while they are still on my feet. And to top it off, he's being mean to Gozer, my daughter's pug. Gozer is a beloved pacifist and doesn't know what to make of the cat's malicious swats.

In his defense, "William" has been homeless up until two weeks ago and still has testicles. Maybe he'll mellow out once those are removed.

In the meantime, I'm tempted to call this cat "Devil", though the kids strenuously object. You'd think by choosing "Devil" I was literally choosing The Devil. But they say their opposition isn't religious, it's based on the supporting theories of Personal Nomenclatural Science - namely that names determine behavior and disposition, not vice-versa.

But why would Meddle and Harangue even think such a thing?
It's just a cat, for Pete's sake.

Dr. Heartlander, what can I do to keep my children happy while giving this animal an appropriate moniker? And what do YOU think would be a reasonable name?

Please help. I'm not desperate, but I am ...

Cleaning Satan's Litter Box

Well Dr. Heartlander? What do you think?

Comments (26)

Dear CSLB, just add a " 'lil " to the front of his name - e.g. 'Lil Devil, and it will make the name cutesy instead of forbidding. that way both you and your kids win.
though, i don't subscribe to the personal nomenclature science way of thinking. (and neither will Barbara of Robbinsdale, i suspect). Barbara means "foreign and barbaric" and we didn't turn out so bad......
gotta go sack the neighborhood
good morning All

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | December 1, 2009 6:20 AM

Dear CSLB,

I think it is time for the new family member to spend a little "quality" time with the other family members in their homes, so they can best get in tune with "William" and come up with some endearing nicknames.

Failing that, it might help for you to come up with Williams in history that resonate with your experience of your little darling.

Posted by catherine | December 1, 2009 6:29 AM

Good Morning Doctors, Dale and Mike,

I think the cat's name should be King William. He clearly is kingly or may be more like a royal pain.

Of course, he is part of your family, so you will have to put up with him and even treat him as you would any valued family member.

I think he does need a name that fits him. When he is being good he could be called Sweet Wiiliam, and when he is no so good, he could be William the Bad.

Posted by Jim | December 1, 2009 6:36 AM


lil devil is kind of cute but lil meddle and lil harangue doesn't work for me at all.

the other part of the question is why you gave the cat a home. if you had been able to lure a squirrel into the house would you make it a pet? it sounds to me like this cat has gone ferrel and is better suited for the sporting life than domestication.
if your children have become attatched enough to name this wild animal maybe they should take it with them and you can go find a nice little pet of your choosing rather than being the victim of circumstance and having satan be your new lifemate for the next 10 years.
my wife had this wonderful life and then one day this meddlesome, messmaking, inconsiderate millstone entered her life and she hasn't been the same since. but thats another story...
barb, that explains it.i knew there was something and now the translation of your name explains it.

Posted by tim | December 1, 2009 6:40 AM

Dear CSLB,

Clearly you have a provocative and daring cat, and if there's one thing I know, the allure of a 'bad boy' is impossible to resist. While he still has his symbols of manhood, why not give him a fake mustache and call him "Carlos"? After the procedure, "William" will likely suffice.

Posted by Donna | December 1, 2009 6:55 AM

Dear CSLB,
What a brilliant and insightful woman you are. You have recognized this cat's true nature.

Should you go ahead and call the kitty devil I fear you may compromise your integrity. I would hate for you to have to tell your co-workers, for instance, that you hurt your wrist when you tripped over the devil.go.

Ignoring your children's small-minded suggestion of William for a name limits your circle of cat sitters and litter changers (remember the broken wrist is coming).

My suggestion is that you adopt the civil tradition of a first and last name for individuals. Name the cat William Teufert.

Shallow readers may assume that this name skips recognition of the cat's true satanic nature. They are sadly more limited than are you..and also likely lack a German dictionary. Teufert the German name for the devil will work well as a name without stigma for you. If the planned castration conquerors his devilish side, you will still have William to fall back on.

Yours in wisdom,
Dr Heartlander

Posted by Beth-Ann | December 1, 2009 6:58 AM

Dear CSLB,
I understand your concern about naming "...names (that may) determine behavior and disposition, not vice-versa. I had a Great Pyrenees puppy I named Rumpole after the BBC tv series of the same name...the solicitor (or was he a barrister...regardless, a lawyer defending criminals) Rumpole became a neighborhood "bandit" bringin home various items he valued, including a snow shovel, shoes, small cooler...I was more careful with the next dog. I call him Jacques Brel, Alive and Well and Living in Mahtowa...unfortunately, it wasn't enough to lower his voice/bark to a soothing baritone.

So, my advice your cat what you will and let us know the outcome.

Posted by cynthia in mahtowa | December 1, 2009 7:26 AM

Dear CSLB,

Why not try choosing a foreign translation of your preferred name. You might be able to sneak the name right past your children, and foreign names have the advantage of sounding "classier" than their English counterparts, especially if the language is French, which also allows usage of the ever popular definite articles. Le Diable sounds downright divine.

Alternatives are Der Teufel, Il Diavolo, O Diabo, and ο διάβολος, just to name a few.

P.S. (Meddle and Harangue are priceless, Dale.)

Posted by elinor | December 1, 2009 7:30 AM

Greetings! Dear CSLB: That Lil' Devil William sounds like he is acting out and could be in need of Cat Therapy with a Cat Whisperer to help you understand his desperate internal struggles for negative attention.

If it were a 40-lb dog doing such antics, it would definitely not be tolerated and require a long bout of disciplinary school -- but cats are different.

As for naming him -- well, he's your cat in your house -- those meddlesome children don't have a say in his name unless asked. So stand your ground and name him as appropriate. I like Lucifer or Beelezebub.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | December 1, 2009 7:30 AM

How about Lucifer? Styx?

Posted by Dawn | December 1, 2009 7:39 AM

Dear CSLB,
As Dr. Science would say, "I'm appalled at your ignorance." (Tough love.) With a sniffy, snorty critter that Gozer is, there is only one name that would be suitable for your devil-spawned, world-conquering counterpart. I heartily invite you to revisit the 1984 classic movie, "Ghostbusters," to see the parallels for yourself. After watching it, I'm sure you'll agree that "there is only ZUUL."

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | December 1, 2009 7:40 AM

Dear CSLB,

If you are changing the litter box, you should call the critter whatever you prefer. Litter box duty, I feel, gives you full naming rights.

That said - think on the foreign names mentioned - or go with the historical theories also mentioned. Perhaps Ghengis Khat?...

Posted by Anna | December 1, 2009 7:42 AM

I have a work friend who named her littermate kittens, Chaos and Mayhem. They have proven to cause much chaos and mayhem, so I agree that Satan might not be a good plan. My cat Mia, has a very pretty face, reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe's because she has a beauty mark by her nose. I adopted her from a friend who wanted to name her Booger. I am glad that he was voted down and while I might have named her Marilyn or Monroe, I think "Booger" might have given her kind of an icky personality. It would have also given a different interpretation of her unusual and lovely countenence. .

How about Cap'n Billy? It would honor your love of RH, your children's choice of name and may fit his personality a bit more. It sounds like he enjoys a bit of pillaging from time to time.

Have a great 1st of December, All!


Posted by Darcy | December 1, 2009 7:46 AM

Beth-Ann and Elinor - just a caution in naming a kitty (or any other animal that regularly goes to the veterinarian) with a name from another language. we did that with an all gray kitty - named her Skygge (shadow in Norwegian) and pronounced "Shueg-geh." the kitty lived for 23 years and we listened to the vets and vet techs say "Skiggy" every time. we quit trying to explain.
CSLB, if you ascribe to TS Eliot's theory, the cat has it's own name. a secret one only known by other cats, and you'll never know it.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | December 1, 2009 7:56 AM

After reading other folks' advice, I wish to change my mind (it's allowed!). TGiTHat made the connection with the dog's name -- which I sadly, missed. It is obvious to me, your cat must be named ZUUL. Destiny and the Fates have made it so. GOZER AND ZUUL RULE!

No, I'm not saying this because I've been possessed by their chaos and destruction -- it is only fitting and right with the coming end of the Lothars and Gloths as foretold .... @!#% ..... please excuse Dr. Heartlander -- he had accidentally gotten out of his straitjacket and took control of the keyboard.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | December 1, 2009 8:08 AM

Dear CSLB, I can't, of course, tell you what to do, since it has to be a decision for which you take responsibility. However, I want you to visualize yourself calling your cat home in the middle of the night. Do you really want to be yelling "Here Devil, here Devil" for all the neighbors to hear? Think about it. I'm sure you'll come to a decision you and the cat can live with.

Posted by Renee | December 1, 2009 8:22 AM

I forgot to mention that my cats' vet recommends Prozac for neurotic kitty behavior.

Posted by Renee | December 1, 2009 8:26 AM

Dear CSLB,

I'd suggest Cthulhu, although I suppose in these days of Google, such an inside joke/obscure choice is harder to slip by people. But, like Skygge, people might give up on trying and just say "nice kitty", furthering the irony.


Dr. Lovecraft Heartlander

Posted by Mike in Albert Lea | December 1, 2009 8:26 AM

Having alluded to an inside joke myself, kudos to Dale for dangling "Gozer" and for TGITH for hitting it out of the park.

Posted by Mike in Albert Lea | December 1, 2009 8:36 AM

Tiger is always a good name for a cat. But going with the two name theory: cats are distant, glassy-eyed creatures who can stare anyone down and are often very protective of their privacy. So I suggest "Tiger Would." then in a couple of weeks you can change it to "Tiger Was."

Posted by Clyde of Mankato | December 1, 2009 8:36 AM

dale, did you actually adopt a kitty into your home? is today's post a veiled way to deal with your own personal problem with cat naming??? come on, fess up!

anyway, getting the kitty fixed asap will help his personality tremendously! i like all the ideas, but agree that zuul is cuul....

still, captain billy is even better for a nickname from william!

later, gang---

Posted by Kay H in Utah | December 1, 2009 9:36 AM

Way off topic for everyone except me; but I had to do this. The poem has been bouncing around in my head, darn it, and an over-rated poem it is. So with no apology no William Blake:

Tiger, Tiger, a driving fright,
Hitting hydrants in the night.
What sin, desire, or lunacy,
Could frame thine fearful privacy?

In thine staring, smoldering eyes,
Burns the fire of thine lies.
With what writ can cops aspire,
To find the truth of thee entire?

Posted by Clyde Hiding in Mankato | December 1, 2009 12:58 PM

Posted by That Guy in the Hat | December 1, 2009 1:07 PM

Guy--yours was the best name. I do know of a cat named Stay-Puff though.

Posted by Clyde in Mankato | December 1, 2009 3:19 PM

OK, I'm 'way late, but my out-of-towners just left. How about Obie -- I knew a cat named that, short for O-B-Quiet. This could be short for about anything, O-B-Good, O-B-Reasonable, etc.

Barb in Blackhoof, I too came to grips with my name meaning those foreign, barbaric; shortened that definition to "strange", which I can live with, because I am. You too?

RE: Monday's Party Crashing theme, I admit to using a false ID at age 20 to get into The Red Ram (favorite college drinking establishment in 1968 Ames, Iowa).

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | December 1, 2009 4:46 PM

Clyde, that is one fine updating of a William Blake poem.
If you haven't made other plans for it, I would suggest you submit it to the MPR podcast "In The Loop". They solicit verse on current events for their weekly news poem, and I think they'd love what you've done.

Posted by Dale Connelly | December 1, 2009 9:45 PM

December 2009
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Master Archive