Saturday, November 18, 2006

Nicknames

One of my fav flicks of all time is 'Diner' - Barry Levinson's directorial debut in 1982. He also wrote it.


It told the story of a group of college-age buddies who struggle with their imminent passage into adulthood in 1959 Baltimore. Funny yet heart-warming (I'm sure even I teared up a bit at the end), it was filled with memorable dialogue like:

"We all know most marriages depend on a firm grasp of football trivia."

"It just pushed the flaps open?"
"Ripley's...I know."

"Carol Heathrow. She... is death!"

"Do you ever get the feeling that there's something going on that we don't know about?"

"I'll hit you so hard, I'll kill your whole family."

And of course:

"If you want to talk, you always have the guys at the diner. You don't need a girl if you wanna talk."


And these lines were delivered by a great collection of characters. With great names, and nicknames.

Steve Guttenberg was 'Eddie'....Daniel Stern went by 'Shrevie'...Mickey Rourke hit it out of the park as 'Boogie'....Kevin Bacon scored as 'Fenwick'....Timothy Daly was the straight man and thus just 'Billy'....Ellen Barkin as 'Beth'...Michael Tucker as 'Bagel'....and of course, 'Modell', played by Paul Reiser.

'Bagel'. Sweet.

Part of what made that movie, in my mind, was those names or nicknames. They all fit, and added shading and nuance to the characters and their relationships with each other simply with just one simple word and how it was delivered.

Which got me thinking about some of the nicknames I've had over the years.

Dill
Dilliam
Pickle (grew out of Dill)
Snake (don't ask)
Coyote (as in Wile E.)
Wilbur
Willard

But the most popular two by far have been Dix (right from high school to the present), pretty self evident .... and what yesterdays post reminded me of, and that is the nickname DCD, short for Dark Cloud Dixon. That one evolved from me generally being the mutterer around film sets and writers rooms about 'whether this scene will work' or 'how do we shoot that' or 'are we done yet?' I was a little surprised how quickly it stuck when someone called me that...but it must have seemed appropriate. And I didn't protest too much.

What nickname you give a character can paint them in so many different ways. 'Dill' or 'Pickle' suggests one type of person; 'Dix' or 'Snake' another; and 'DCD' or 'Dark Cloud' someone else altogether - 'Sauve' and 'Wang' something else altogether. Interesting. I'm sure there's a writing tip in there somewhere but I'm too pooped right now to suss it out.

Since most people don't post/comment with their real names this seems a little pointless, but anyone care to share the origin story of their nickname(s)?

14 comments:

Caroline said...

Well, Caroline is my real name and the only nicknames I've had are kind of dull. Carrie and Caro, which are apparently the accepted shorter versions of Caroline. I have one friend who calls me Sweet, which comes from the fact that I hate the song Sweet Caroline (you would too if it was your name). I could use a more interesting nickname if anyone has any suggestions, especially since I've never really like the name Caroline to begin with. A little bit of me trivia - I was named after Caroline Kennedy, and no, my parents are not American.

Jutratest said...

It would be a long story and ultimately not worth the telling.

wcdixon said...

Boo! Hiss!

It's ALWAYS worth telling...or the challange is to make it worth hearing.

Diane Kristine said...

A good friend calls me Dee all the time, which led to my not-very-creative online nickname of deekay, which led to expanding it to what that stood for. I get called Wild One and variations on that a fair bit ... which makes sense if you know what my last name is, and not so much if you know my personality.

Good Dog said...

Well, Good Dog is a derivation of the surname. Actually it started with the nickname the other tennis coaches called my cousin in New York.

Started using it over here, then came across the hunting phrase, "A good dog will run till his heart explodes," which made it appropriate. Once I get my teeth into any project I don't let go until the job's done.

Better than what the animators would call me, back in the day. Names like "fucko", things like that.

LoveStrong said...

LoveStrong is actually more of a mantra than a nickname. My nickname in college was Chuts...in fact, my friends still call me that. Unfortunately, the derivation of that name has been lost over the years and probably wouldn't make sense here anyway.

wcdixon said...

all these cryptic stories.... making me curious

So Diane, are you telling us Kristine's not your last name? Now I feel like a fool.

Diane Kristine said...

Aw, no need to feel foolish - it's my online last name. But in real life, it's my middle name. I wanted a bit of anonymity while still using my actual name. I outed myself in a subtle way by posting this article on my blog recently, and I've linked to other stuff with my real name on it. I don't care if people know it, I just don't want the blog to be Googleable under it.

wcdixon said...

But I'd been using you as a reference... :(

Portnoy said...

Portnoy is, according to urban family myth, our real family name.

when asked at Ellis island "where are you from" my distant relative thought he was being asked "what is your name". He answered Istanbul. Which (as dix knows my last name) can see why it sounds vaguely like Istanbul.

at some point the director Mark Steven Johnson began calling me 'Buddha" and that has stuck in some circles. It makes it fun to call some of the 'luminaries' in those circles and tell their new assistants "It's the Buddah calling"

Jutratest said...

Trivial fact - Portnoy means "Tailor" in Russian.

Webs said...

My first online account was with Compuserve, and I eventually found my way into the forums and chats there. I needed a handle, and I didn't have a good one. The only nickname I'd had previously was "Puck", on a college softball team for which we all chose nicknames. As a hockey-playing Canuck in Texas, I was deemed "Puck".

I thought a bit about this and came up with "Webster". It fit me three ways. I have a big vocabulary (damn, I love that joke) so there's the dictionary angle. I'm kinda short, so there's the Emmanuel Lewis connection. Lastly, I became a journalist who focused on the new World Wide Web. So Webster I was.

In 1996, I joined WarBirds, and that demanded a four-letter handle. I shortened Webster to Webs, and I've been using it ever since - not for professional work, but in games and on sites.

wcdixon said...

That was the kind of story I was looking for...thx Webs.

Chopped Nuts said...

Well, Caroline has been telling us about her Pink-Eye problems over on Dead Things... so I think we've got her new nickname firmly in place. :)