Saturday, May 19, 2007

Overdue Thoughts on the 700

It's been a few weeks since I dropped my 700 Possible Blog Names on the world, and I'm finally ready to offer some thoughts on it. Like I said in that post, the idea for it hatched from John Hodgman's amazing 700 Hobo Names -- that list which got me to thinking about what kind of creative power a person would need to write something like that. After debating it for weeks, I decided to simply write five blog names a day and just see where it went ... I figured it would take me a couple months. Well, I wrote the first 200 over the course of 2 hours one weekend and finished the first half in about a week. Hodgman said in an interview that it took him a little over two weeks of solid writing to come up with his 700, so I figured I was on a pretty good pace.

I wrote the blog names everywhere: at home, at work, on a plane, poolside at the Arizona Biltmore while drinking the world's worst $9.75 bloody mary (yes, you're allowed to put alcohol in it). The first 400 or so just flew by and I figured the list would be complete in another week, but this is where it got interesting. I started to feel creatively drained and it was a chore just to think of even a few worthy names at a time. The last 200 was legitimate work and after publishing it, I felt so relieved because I didn't know whether I could come up with another 10 if you put a gun to my head.

Looking back at the list now, I'm not happy with the first 150 or so. As I went, it seems my definition of what I wanted as blog names started to evolve, and the results got more satisfying. Which brings us to -- what is a blog name? There's no answer to it, but when you scan through a bunch of real blogs (an exercise I did quite a bit for inspiration) what you see are a few different categories: an explicit description of what the blog is (my favorite being Tuwa's Stairs In Movies), some play on the blogger's name, some are puns and some are simply bizarre. This was another reason I wanted to write the 700, because (like hobo names) blog names are entertaining and play a big role in whether you read the blog or not -- think about how often you scroll through a long list of blog links, would you be more inclined to read Joe's Thoughts or Double Chin Shotgun (No. 306)?

This brings us to where I've been for some time: disappointed in my blog name. This blog started out as an online companion to a short weekly DVD column I wrote for my newspaper, under the pseudonym Frank Burton. At the end of the column it would say "to read more of Frank Burton go to" And while I had fun writing that column, it didn't seem to translate into more hits on the young blog and soon a new editor moved into that section, and with him went Frank Burton. Since the column was about DVDs I wanted the blog to reflect that, and I took the name from Auto Panache -- a now-defunct exotic car dealership in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., which I always thought had the perfect name (it just rolls off your tongue). Eventually I started writing about much more than DVDs and it became a slightly misleading title (which is why I added "a movie blog" to the header), leading me to wonder about what I would have named this blog had it not started out as a companion to that column. I never actually thought about changing the title of this blog, but many of my "what if?" names ended up on the list.

In the end, the 700 was a success for me personally, because I was challenged creatively as never before. Many times I had to literally wrack my brain to come up with some new pun or stupid word -- exhausting all the in-jokes, childhood insults and advertising slogans I could imagine. I was also pleased that in all the feedback I received on it (whether by email or comments), everyone cited a different name as their favorite of the list. Two comments put it best: "congrats on proving that the world is filled with idle pursuits just waiting for those with ambition enough to prove that they can be done" (Johanna Custer) and "I can say with confidence that no matter what a person has named their blog, if they read this list, they will find their title mocked" (Chris Stangl).

And remember, this list can be used in conjunction with Hodgman's list to create a NASA-sized number of blog name combinations (i.e. Plausible Zane Scarrey's Generic Control Panel).


TALKING MOVIEzzz said...

For what it's worth, I like the name DVD Panache. The blog may not all be about DVDs, but I think most know that.

I got stuck with the name Moviezzz 11 years ago, creating it as a joke. And, it has sort of stuck for all this time, so I moved it to blog form.

Adam Ross said...

Thanks Moviezzz, and I'm fine with it -- it's just that I named it before I really started reading movie blogs. If I had seen some of the names other bloggers had come up with, I probably would have given it something more personal.

PIPER said...

I like the name also. And well, I've linked to it and if you changed your name, I would have to do some work and I'm lazy.

I like the story behind your name and although I never commented on the 700 names before, it's a fascinating post.

Me,I was working with my college paper to write about really, really, really bad movies. And I was going to title my column Lazy Eye Theatre. Never did work out so I took the name here.

I do not have a lazy eye, even though I do wear glasses and I have nothing against people with lazy eyes.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps a blog name you could consider is "Idaho Gin". Seems nicely implausible... but tasty.

Adam Ross said...

Glad to know you like it Aleah. Bardenay was the first restaurant in the country to make its own gin and vodka onsite. Their gin mojito is one of the most popular drinks in these parts.