Thursday, October 8, 2009

A local habitation, and a name

I thought it might be interesting to share one of my favorite methods for passing time on long car trips: making up stories about characters named after towns and villages on the road map.

This works best in England, I've found, because where else are you going to come across Rushton Spencer, Fenny Bentley, Dole's Ash, Dead Maids, Kidderminster, Shepton Mallet, or Bury St. Edmunds? (Hands off Rushton Spencer, by the way, I've got dibs on him. He's the sort of ACTOR who wears dressing-gowns to dinner and pours unsatisfactory port over the sommelier's head.)

The trick to this game is not to look for funky names, but just let yourself enjoy the wonderful richness and weirdness of local naming conventions. In England you'll find a whole series of villages along and named for the same river (Winterborne Whitechurch, Winterborne Stickland, and Winterborne Kingston, for example, or the Deverills); over here you can find the classic Intercourse, Mud, and Bird in Hand, but if you look closer there are old names still hanging around even in this city that could offer some creative inspiration. Eudowood, for example. There was once a TB hospital called Eudowood; there's Ladew, and Oella, and Linthicum, which sounds like something you rub on to ward off colds, and the euphonious Padonia, and so on and so forth. There are names everywhere out there, and it's way more fun than it sounds to make up characters to fit them. Some of the characters stick around.


  1. What a great idea! I never thought of this. My hometown would be interesting to try to do this with: Lombardi Avenue, Brett Favre Lane, Holmgren Drive...hee, hee...Football adventures would be alive and well in my hometown : )

  2. North Pole Diet Poetry Reading
    Type: Other - Ceremony
    Network: Global
    Start Time: Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 10:00pm
    End Time: Friday, November 20, 2009 at 2:00am
    Location: 1726 N Charles St, Baltimore, MD 21201

    Description North Pole Diet Poetry Reading:
    The Legend of Watermelon, Pumpkin and Fruit Cup
    Thursday, November 19th, 10 p.m. at the Zodiac
    FREE ! ! !

    This eccentric poetry reading is the autumnal fruit of Jared T. Fischer's yearlong research in support of the North Pole Diet, an imaginary diet that promotes cooking with friends and the creation of art.

    Mr. Fischer solicited poems from diverse local and regional writers, requiring that they adhere to the following guidelines: 1) Cook a meal with friends or alone; 2) document the experience with photos; 3) list the ingredients in italics; and 4) launch into a poem inspired by the experience.

    Come scope out the results. View the photos. Hear the impassioned words. Get the free limited edition poetry pamphlet (while supplies last). Enjoy musical performances by our special guest house band! ! !

    New poems by:
    Chuck Green
    Brian Schmukler
    Anna Louise Jiongco
    Jared T. Fischer
    Jennifer H. Fortin
    Hanna Badalova
    Stephen Reichert
    Becky Hunter
    Ashlie Kauffman
    Timmy Reed

    Pumpkin pie and other dainty refreshments supplied by the North Pole Diet Food Committee! ! ! !

  3. No wonder I can't get rid of this cold! No Linthicum out here in the rest of the world.