Archive for January 4th, 2012

Naming the Gargoyles: Awards Ceremony

January 4, 2012

Welcome to a new year of the blog! We’re gathered here on this wintry night to give a heartfelt THANK YOU to all those who set their minds to thinking up pairs of names to fit these gargoyles:

The soon-to-be-named gargoyles watching the new year sweep around the prow of the blog

But before we get to the contest results, here are some fascinating statistics about the year-on-the-blog we’ve just come through, courtesy of WordPress. (These are provided automatically by the blog, so it’s up to the viewer how much to trust the accuracy. They seem reasonable enough.) Let’s go in reverse order, in keeping with the suspense-building of the evening. First, these are the awards for most popular posts. I assume the number of views/visits determines the “popularity,” though strangely, that’s the one statistic WordPress doesn’t tell us.

MOST POPULAR POSTS of 2011:

5. October Sun (written October 2011, 83 comments)

4. Artsy Stuff Going On (written January 2011, 128 comments)

3. Transition (written April 2011, 134 comments)

2. The Winchester Mystery House (written December 2009, 18 comments)

1. More Views of Niigata (March 2011, 151 comments)

I believe the reason for that post’s being #1 is that it was just after writing it that I left Japan and the tsunami struck. That post got revisited a lot as people were trying to figure out if I was all right, and where I was. Recently, a friend of mine living there wrote that the disasters of March 2011 have “set Japan back a hundred years” in many ways, and that things will continue to get worse for the country before they get better. Let’s keep all those who are suffering in our hearts and in our prayers.

Top Commenters of 2011:

I’m not sure of the accuracy of this list, because it counts comments according to the names people go by; if, for example, you use a varying sentence for your “name,” such as “I am difficult to count,” your comments wouldn’t be attributed to the same person. So I think this has an impact on who is really #1. But anyway, here’s the automatically-counted ranking:

5. jhagman (57 comments)

4. Daylily (63 comments)

3. Morwenna (64 comments)

2. I am Mr. Brown Snowflake (111 comments)

1. Chris (174 comments)

Thank you all! We’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: it would not be the blog without you who comment. Long may the hearth-fire burn beside our virtual Table Round!

“I want a name!” . . . “So do I!” . . . “Get on with it, then!” . . . “Yes! Get on with it!”

Very well, then! Without further ado, let’s go to Fred’s Short List. Every name that everyone thought up was delightful, interesting, and fun to read — I can’t thank you all enough for the fun we’ve had over the past couple weeks! It was tough narrowing it down, but what follows are the names that I thought all deserved extra careful deliberation.

 
Fred’s Short List (in no particular order):
 
Urim & Thummim — (Preacher)
[Nothing like some Old Testament for antiquity, power, authenticity, and holiness!]
 
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern — (Mr. Brown Snowflake)
[The rose has its place in Christian symbology, and I like the fact that the other includes "stern." And you can't go wrong with Shakespeare!]
 
Gutter & Spout — (Binsers)
[I like the double meaning on "Gutter" -- that's one tough gargoyle!]
 
Lilith & Phantastes — (Binsers)
[I have these books on my shelf, too!]
 
Bjarg & Fell — (Swordlily)
[I love it when sound reinforces meaning, and vice-versa!]
 
Scry & Ruin — (Swordlily)
[I do love it when verbs are brought to bear! These are highly gargoyle-appropriate!]
 
Victor & Hugo — (Spam Man)
[These are pretty self-explanatory. In the spirit of full disclosure, I believe these were used for the names of gargoyles in a Disney movie; but I didn't set any rule about originality.]
 
Maveth & Tsalal — (Shieldmaiden)
[My apologies for changing the forms back to the originals; I like them better! Please refer to the previous entry to review Shieldmaiden's explanations of these. They're well-researched!]
 
Roc & Hardplaz — (Scott)
[Woe to the evil spirit that gets between them! Little bit of Sinbad's adventures thrown in there, too, with "Roc"!]
 
Turgor & Gygax — (Scott)
[These are names from our D&D campaign. Turgor came from turgor pressure, studied in our science class, and I always thought it should be a Dwarf name; and Gygax is the name of the inventor of D&D, Gary Gygax.]
 
Guard & Ian — (Swordlily)
[I love the fact that Ian is actually a name!]
 
Me & You — (Lance L.)
[Simple and direct.]
 
Gem & Eye — (Shieldmaiden)
[Additional to the Gemini pun, "Eye" makes a great name for a watcher!]
 
Doygan & Thurgur — (Hannah)
[I don't know the significance of these names, but I like the sound!]
 
Strunk & White — (Philip)
[During some move over the past years, I lost my copy of Strunk & White -- but I used to refer to it all the time!]
 
Irk & Vex — (based heavily on an idea of Shieldmaiden’s)
[Verbs again! Very nice verbs for gargoyle names! I like the shortness.]
 
Toss & Turn — (Shieldmaiden)
[Shieldmaiden suggested these as Untoward names, and have you ever heard any better names for Untowards?! When I do write the sequel to Dragonfly, I hope Shieldmaiden will let me use these! That precisely captures the character and spirit of Untowards!]
 
Nick & Nack — (the mysterious “E”)
[Another nice, short pair; very good for gargoyles-as-bookends!]
 
Sword & Sorcery — (Morwenna)
[I love this pair! If the gargoyles were in a bookstore, they should have these names and watch over the sword & sorcery section!]
 
Merry & Goround — (Morwenna)
[It would really be fun to write about gargoyles with these names! "Merry" is good for its irony, and "Goround" speaks for itself!]
 
Gog & Magog — (Jedibabe)
[Cool! This was also one of my first thoughts. Apparently there's a lot connected with these names beyond the Old Testament, too, which I'm mostly unaware of.]
 
Fister & Twister — (50% from Swordlily)
[This goes along with my Bouncer & Trouncer. This is probably what the goblins call the gargoyles, like they call Orcrist and Glamdring "Biter" and "Beater."]
 
Hugin & Munin — (Gabe)
[We have ex-Norse mythology buffs on the blog, and we have experts who stay current . . .]
 
Sky & Ward — (Swordlily)
[I like the mileage we get out of "Ward" on this pair!]
 
Fast & Furious — (Catherine)
[These would also be good Untoward names!]
 
Modi & Magni — (Catherine)
[I like the spelling and the sounds!]
 
Altar & Ego — (Daylily) [Apologies to Daylily: I changed the spelling of her "Alter" to make it fit the church they're on top of! I think it might be hard to watch for centuries atop a roof if your partner was named "Ego," but gargoyles are made of stern stuff!]
 
Gloria & Agnus — (Daylily) [Apologies to Daylily again! I changed her finalized "Agnes" back to "Agnus," which she got it from; but I agree that it would be pronounced the same as "Agnes." These gargoyles are sisters, and their surname is Dei.]
 
Goth & Roman — (Kate M.)
[Nice!]
 
Bernardo & Ubertino — (Rich H.)
[Pulchra (mumble, mumble) innocentubera!]
 
Chris & Brown Snowflake — (jhagman)
[You have to love his reasoning! See previous post!]
 
*&^%$$&^!  &  #@#%^&! — (Chris)
[Yes, I can hear gargoyles saying that! Those are the greetings they give to evil spirits who approach the cathedral, particularly when it's sleeting and the wind is out of the north and the pipe organ needs tuning.]

Our esteemed panel of advisors to the contest judge

 
Now, here’s the difficulty: I’ve studied these names up and down, back and forth, around and around, and many of them are so good that I cannot say one pair is clearly better than the others. You have outdone yourselves and have proven this is indeed a Table Round in more ways than one: there’s talent all around it!
 
HOWEVER, I did arrive at a way to determine two winners — and I believe two among you are deserving of special honor in this contest. So two of you are going to receive ARCs of The Star Shard. Just take a look at who made the short list more than anyone else. Shieldmaiden, with her long, deep thought and painstaking research is there four times! And Swordlily, with her amazing ideas, is there no fewer than five times!
 
So I believe that a close second place goes to Shieldmaiden, and first place goes to Swordlily! Congratulations to the two of you! And thank you all — truly, thank you all — for the incredible flood of fantastic ideas!
 
Perhaps we will never know precisely what the gargoyles’ names are; perhaps their truest names are kept forever in secret, so that no evil spirit may learn them and thus (according to the beliefs of some) gain power over them. Or perhaps their names are as numerous as the raindrops on the sloping roof, as unpronounceable as the moanings of wind around the clerestory. We now know a good many more of their names than we did when we started.
 
If you want to know my best guess, I will tell you. But like all of you, I can do no more than guess. The watchers, after all, are gargoyles, and gargoyles (like their cousins, the grotesques) are an ancient and inscrutable folk.
 
My best guesses are these:
 
Appall and Harrow
 
Appall: “greatly dismay or horrify”; from Latin origins, a verb meaning “to grow pale” gradually came, winding its way through Old French and Middle English, to mean “to make pale; to horrify.” In my story “The Gift,” first published in Mooreeffoc and later in Cicada, the gargoyle’s name was Appall. I always wondered if he had a partner, and what the partner’s name might be.
 
Harrow: “cause distress to”; this one is via Middle English from Old Norse and is obscurely related to the Dutch word hark, meaning “rake” — an implement pulled over the ground to harrow what lies beneath its teeth. In medieval Christian theology, there was “the Harrowing of Hell” — the idea that when Christ was crucified and descended into Hell, He defeated the powers of evil there and released the victims that had been in torment, awaiting His coming.
 
So that is what I think the gargoyles’ names might be; but who among the living can say?
 
Well-played, everyone! Well-played indeed! We will have to do something similar again sometime! Once more, thank you all, and congratulations to the winners!
 
 

"Appall?" . . . "Maybe. Who's asking? Harrow?" . . . "Maybe. Maybe not. What's the news?" . . . "Evil things are afoot." . . . "I guessed as much. Another night of watching, then." . . . "Aye. And a day to follow that." . . . "North or south, what's your preference?" . . . "Much the same to me." . . . "Well, then, let's get to it." . . . "Let's."

 
 (I’m late saying this, but Happy Tolkien’s Birthday! [January 3rd])
 
 

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