Being Peter Cashwell

No, here at world headquarters, I don't sit around saying "Cashwell Cashwell Cashwell" a la John Malkovich, but I do think about my name frequently. This may or may not be healthy, I suppose, since it does require a big dish of self-absorption, but what's the point of blogging if not self-absorption?

My first name has of course been the subject of other entries here, and not just because it's a common synonym for "penis." My last name I haven't gotten into as much, partly because it's just a little odd. And I mean that "just a little." It's one letter away from "Caswell," a far more common surname, especially in North Carolina, whose first governor was Richard Caswell, and which today boasts a Caswell County. But "Caswell" is common outside NC as well; Google turns up 2.86 million hits for it, while "Cashwell" produces a much more modest 97,000. (Note: the online journal you're reading is the #6 result for Cashwell, just behind Cashwell Appliance Parts and Elizabeth Cashwell Elementary School, both in Fayetteville, NC.)

Indeed, I realized how common the name "Caswell" was until I picked up a copy of Thunder Bunny #1 and found that the anthropomorphic rabbit's secret identity was young Bobby Caswell.

But "Cashwell" still isn't all that weird a name. It's decidedly simple, in some ways, being a portmanteau of two common words, and it's extremely easy to pronounce, assuming you notice the "h." It's still misunderstood by people on the phone, and people who haven't looked at it carefully will sometimes read it as Caldwell, Carswell, or even Cashman--no "Cartman" yet, thank god--but if you spell it for an English speaker, odds are good that it'll be pronounced correctly thereafter. I'm grateful that I don't spend enormous chunks of my life correcting people, the way my colleagues Jay Gnanadoss and Mike Szydlowski do, but I'm also kind of glad to be my own person, nominally speaking.

It's not necessarily bad to share a name, mind you. Kelly has discovered a number of other Kelly Daltons out there, some of whom are male, and at least one of whom is a bass player in a punk band. On the other hand, I pity my old Chapel Hillian comrade Mike Brown, who's a talented muralist from way back:

mural NCNB.jpgmural turtles.jpg

mural post office.jpg
The poor guy has all this artistic ability and civic pride, but he has to share a name with not only the fired coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, but the incompetent GM of the Cincinnati Bengals AND the legendarily incompetent Mike "Heckuva Job, Brownie" Brown of Bush's FEMA. How is that fair?

Anyway, I got to thinking about the whole name business by reading this piece by Ezra Klein, a blogger whose name recognition is a wee bit greater than my own, after coming across the link to it in the blog of Matthew Yglesias, another BWNRIAWBGTMO. The key question was why both Klein and Yglesias blog under their own names, rather than naming the blog something catchy, like Obsidian Wings, or Crooked Timber, or Whatever. I've certainly enjoyed reading all three of those blogs over the years, but I've so far ignored the temptation to provide a snappy title for my own blog. I supposed there are obvious candidates:

Wanton Freaks
(a line from Keats that I used as a chapter title in TV2B; I still love it)
PC on PC
The Verb 'To Blog'

Or I could get a bit more creative and/or obscure:

84,000 Different Delusions
(song title by Shawn Colvin from he wonderful album A Few Small Repairs)
A Fish in the Percolator (a favorite nonsensical line from Twin Peaks)
Just Lines on Paper (R. Crumb's famously dismissive comment about the medium of comics)
This Life Is for Squirrels (a lyric from Pogo's Walt Kelly)
Rigidly Defined Areas of Doubt and Uncertainty (the entirely reasonable demand made by philosophers Majikthise and Vroomfondle before the supercomputer Deep Thought was put into operation, as chronicled by Douglas Adams)

In the end, though, I guess I side with Klein: my name is my name, for better or for worse, and what I write under it is probably just as well published under that name as any other. It's Peter Cashwell and it will continue being Peter Cashwell.

Also, at this point, I'm just too lazy to change it.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on June 4, 2010 7:03 AM.

Fortnightly Update was the previous entry in this blog.

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