Naming the Gargoyles: Awards Ceremony

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.


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.)
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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26 Responses to “Naming the Gargoyles: Awards Ceremony”

  1. I am Mr Brown Snowflake Says:

    Congratulations to Shieldmaiden and Swordlily! Well deserved!

    I ran into Fred (no one will believe it the circumstances, so I will leave it to Fred to explain) over Christmas and saw the dust jacket for The Star Shard. I now wish I had NOT seen it, as the release date will now seem even farther off!

    Again, congrats to the ladies on their win. I take consolation in that, although I did not win, neither did Chris, who, while a fan of cathederals, probably has some impossible-to-understand explanation of why gargoyles, should they have actually existed as living and sentient beings, would be incapable of flight and why insufferably proud papist fish-eating, bingo-hustling, bead-counting, incense-huffing Jesuit wanna-be’s are most likely to blame, as the inability to properly utilize the grammatical rules by which the English language is ostensibly guided by those of the above, in especial those who earn their livelihood with the written word, proves said persons would be somehow implicit in the gravitational restrictions of all sorts of stone creations, gargoyles in particular.

  2. fsdthreshold Says:

    Ohh, yes! The story to which Mr. Brown Snowflake refers! He and I both went back to our old hometown during the holidays, coming from opposite directions. Now, I had received his Christmas card, so I knew that he would be there, and when; he had not quite received mine when he started out, so he had no idea I’d be anywhere near! One afternoon just after Christmas, I went to Taco Gringo (the Mexican fast-food place we’re always talking about on this blog — the place without which no visit to Taylorville is complete). I went at a weird, random hour, mid-afternoon, to pick up a late lunch for my aunt, uncle, and me. I am not making this up, but as I was driving toward the place, I thought, “Wouldn’t it be funny if Mr. Brown Snowflake were there?” I pulled in and parked, and there was one other car in the lot. I told myself, “Hm. I should have looked at the license plate to see what state that was from. I wonder what Mr. Brown Snowflake is driving these days.” I walked into the restaurant, and sure enough, there sat Mr. Brown Snowflake, talking with another high-school friend of ours and her daughter! Boy, was Mr. Brown surprised! What a reunion that was! We talked for several minutes about books, movies, and other things — as long as we could manage before the guilt over my starving relatives spurred me onward. But we made plans, and the next afternoon we all got together again, went out to dinner, and talked well into the night at my aunt & uncle’s place. Wonderful to catch up with the Brown Snowflake! We wished more of you could have been there! (And Brown: thank you for the kind words about the dust jacket!)

    On the 10-hour one-way trip there and on the way back, I listened to almost all of a great audio recording of The Hobbit, a fantastic present from Marquee Movies! I’d forgotten how good that book is! I was amazed by just how much of the LOTR situation Tolkien already had worked out in 1937. Some things were clearly still emerging, but he had quite a bit of it solid! It was fascinating to re-experience the book as an adult. It’s one of the truly great books. (I have to find some time to finish listening, though, because poor Bilbo is about to face The Battle of Five Armies!)

  3. fsdthreshold Says:

    Just so they’re also recorded here — these are the other gargoyle names I suggested early on (or just thought of now):

    Lux & Lumen
    Bouncer & Trouncer
    Astor & Risk
    Lyke & Wake (from the Lyke-Wake Dirge)
    Terce & Vespers
    Nox & Noctis
    Phobos & Deimos
    Gothmog & Khamul
    Fenris & Carcharoth
    Smithwick & Harp
    Attic & Cuss
    Anor & Ithil
    Ni-Frith & Fu-Inle
    Scylla & Charybdis
    Crescent & Gibbous
    Pallor & Gaunt
    Glamour & Dusk
    Merlon & Crenel

  4. jhagman Says:

    Proof that God exists! Herr Snowflake and Durbin ATE Illinois “Mexican” food, and did not die from terminal revulsion,,,, it is the kind of gastronomic miracle that should even impress Chris.

    • I am Mr Brown Snowflake Says:

      I live in a town of 8,000 of whom nearly half are Hispanic, and half of those are Mexican. There are two outstanding Mexican eateries here and one El Salvadoran (and the cuisine is very different!) so I know the real deal when I get it.

      Taco Gringo is just as it sounds: a cheap, Americanized knock-off. We know that and it is part of what makes it fun to eat there.

      I was, as Fred noted, stunned, to see him walk in. With no idea whatsoever that he was in town, I was thrilled to see my dear friend of 40 years whom I had not visited with , in the flesh, in five long years. That I would be with an old classmate and girlfriend and her daughter and having a mid-afternoon meal, then to have Fred walk in … wonderful happenstance!

      • jhagman Says:

        Herr Brown, you can only do so much with a cuisine when you live in the equivalent of a Siberia! I looked at Taco Gringo’s website,,dear God if I were you I would already be crashing on Chris’ couch in San Diego waiting to go to a proper taqueria.

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        At World Fantasy when it was in San Diego, I had some fantastic Mexican food in the city, after I narrowly escaped from the zombies. I’m not about to argue with you, jhagman! But Taco Gringo is Taco Gringo! Would it help if we called it “Taylorville food” instead of “Mexican food”?

        You’re also right about Siberia! I could do without cold winters.

    • Chris Says:

      Taco Gringo in Taylorville is how almost all of us first experienced mexican food. It actually isn’t bad, surprisingly! But it also provides one of the first “cross-cultural” disappointments a Taylorvillian experiences: there is no such thing as a “sancho” in real Mexican food.

      • jhagman Says:

        Chris,”isn’s bad surprisingly”? I don’t think too many Mexicans eat canned refried frijoles- a proper Taco “Gringo” would have the typical gallon-o-margarita to kill the sense of taste.

  5. morwenna Says:

    Well won, Swordlily and Shieldmaiden! Congratulations! 🙂

    What a fun contest, Fred. And I loved the story about the surprise meeting!

  6. Swordlily Says:

    What an honor this is.
    The Star Shard is the story that brought me to this blog. I loved Fred’s writing from the few sentences of the Star Shard in Cricket magazine ” Cymbril sang. Her voice filled the dining hall like a pure liquid, drifting out through the narrow windows under the rafters.In her thoughts she floated away with the notes, riding the warm breeze over forests and fields; but in reality, she could go nowhere.” There was a musical mythical quality to this writing that took my breath away.

    Everyone had such funny, unique, and oddly befitting names, I would never have thought I would be chosen as one of the winners.

    Thank you everyone for the great time I had participating in this contest. And thank you Fred for having such a good taste in names, he he he

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Bravo, Swordlily! This is a wonderful acceptance speech! (Fortunately, that passage you like is in the book as well as the story!)

  7. Binsers Says:

    Well done, Swordlily and Shieldmaiden! Thanks also to Fred for posting such a fun game!

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      You’re welcome, and thank you, Binsers! All you who participated are the ones that made it happen!

  8. Daylily Says:

    Outstanding wrap-up to the contest, Fred! This blog entry was a great deal of fun to read. Congratulations to Swordlily and Shieldmaiden for their many creative contributions to the contest and their well-deserved wins!

  9. Scott Says:

    Congratulations Ladies on a well deserved win. You both had excellent entries.

    But, as I read this, you picked Appall and Harrow as the names, which no one suggested?

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      I’m saying that, among our contestants, Swordlily and Shieldmaiden made the greatest of human efforts; they are the winners, and the ARCs went out to them today! But I warned at the outset that we might not be able to name the gargoyles. No, I’m not saying that Appall and Harrow are the definitive names.

      It’s like The Lord of the Rings, in which almost everything and everyone has more than one name, depending on who’s calling it/him/her/them. (I have a LOTR analogy for everything, don’t I?)

      Or again, it’s like Arthur C. Clarke’s monolith, which, according to one suggestion, is “a shape for something that has no shape.” The gargoyles, when they come in a pair, might be called a bilith: they are fearsome sculptures that represent something that cannot be truly represented. The hand of God . . . the source of Tolkien’s “eucatastrophe” . . . the power that watches and guards and preserves . . . the stomping of Christ’s heel upon the serpent’s head.

      So how can any single pair of names represent them?

      If you feel the need to throw pencils and other objects at me, as at certain moments in our D&D games, go ahead! 🙂 I’m only a Dungeon Master, a blog host — no more, and no less!

      • Chris Says:

        Isn’t it also in the Earthsea Trilogy that if someone knows your “true” name they have power over you as you discussed in the post?

    • Scott Says:

      As legend has it, if you name something, you own it. Or, I’ve heard other legends that say if you know the true name of a wizard or other mythological creatures, you can control them.

      • fsdthreshold Says:

        Yes! I’ve heard that, too. I think that’s why the gargoyles are so guarded about their names.

  10. Shieldmaiden Says:

    I won a book! Thank you for this contest, it was great fun! And especially thanks for the extra copy of the book! I never wanted to win anything so much. Ever. Thrilled won’t even cover it, and I still can’t believe I get to share the prize with Swordlily. She and I go way back in this Star Shard tale: One evening I was reading through a Cricket magazine, scanning for a story to use in a future literature lesson with my then 10-year-old son, and happened upon Part Three or Four of Fred’s story. I immediately realized I had discovered something special. After reading the entire piece (I couldn’t stop reading), I deduced (after paying closer attention to the heading) that there were a couple previous parts, so I immediately scrambled to find my past few Cricket copies and look the story up from the beginning. While I was searching out the magazines, I phoned Swordlily to tell her that I had just found a story she HAD to read! I saw that the first episodes were available online, except for the most recent one, which I had. She read and I read and then we met back up on the phone where I read that part out loud to her. We were hooked! And still are. We spent many months awaiting each next installment of “The Star Shard” and reading them over the phone when they delayed posting them online. Just before the conclusion I sent the magazine editions with the story to her for her birthday, and then we both received our last installment of the story on the same day. “The Star Shard” and we go WAY back! From beginning to end we have shared this story together. I am elated that Sworlily won the contest and we both won the book!! A happier ending there never has been. 🙂

    • fsdthreshold Says:

      Thank you for this wonderful account, Shieldmaiden! I am deeply honored that the story has meant so much to you!

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