Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Booker: Super Hero, Not Super Speller

Cory Booker, the hero Mayor of blighted Newark, NJ, the main reason Mark Zuckerberg donated $100 million to improve that city's schools, has a spelling problem. A spelling problem with Barack Obama.

Some might say Booker has an Obama problem, based on unrelated incidents, but having lived very close to the Barak/Barack confusion for years now, I can attest that all kinds of people can't tell my name from his. Our homonymity has slightly reduced my anonymity.  Very slightly, and primarily because I persist in writing goofy things like this.

The confusion usually runs in the other direction, but c'mon -- it's just one little letter. A "C," no less. Barely a passing grade. It's not like he lied about his marathon time.  Anyway, I think we can blame Sharon Macklin, Treasurer of Bookerteam for Newark, whose name is on the flyer. Let her take some heat.  

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Still happening ....

It's March 2012, folks. We're five or six years in, and yet, just yesterday (and last week, and all the time, actually) ...

Person at desk: "What's your name?"

Me: "Barak. B-A-R-A-K."

Person at desk: (smiling) "Like the president? I bet you get that all the time."

Me: "Yep."

And then, just to show that I'm not such a bad guy, I say, "No 'C' though," and tell my mom's joke.

Not that any of this is newsworthy. I'm just posting something to show the world this blog is still as relevant and challenging as ever.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Two things ....

Hello again. Now that social media is part of my work, I feel the absence of blogging more keenly than ever. So I have two things to report to the starved followers of Barak or Barack:

1. A tweet I posted this week: How Obama became "cool" -- just part of the "The Real Story of Obama's Mom," as noted on The Atlantic Wire http://t.co/YaBphZ5

According to this summary review of an excerpt from a book, it's an Asian thing. Well, it's a reaction the future POTUS developed in Asia to being mercilessly teased by little Asian kids when he was a little anomaly in Indonesia. Both touching and telling. (Which is not the same as kissing and telling.)

2. On another note, there was this note of appreciation for yours truly from a lovely African-American publicist I met a few months ago (delivered second-hand yesterday): "I just love that he has a black name!"

Um, thanks!

Monday, November 2, 2009

One year in ...

And what have I learned?

1. This will never let up. I mean, I knew that, but it still amazes me that it still amazes others that I have the SAME NAME AS THE PRESIDENT! Barak! Barack! It's been years now, and I am still having versions of the same conversation all the time. I guess I'll just have to meet every person on Earth and help them see how trivial a coincidence this is.

2. In the meantime, before I embark on the World Trivialization Tour (generously underwritten by Rosetta Stone), revealing my fatigue with this never-ending phenomenon is a mistake.

3. What a fantastic ice-breaker it is to share a freaky name with THE PRESIDENT! OMFG, I could not have PAID for a social advantage like this.

4. Running ads on this site was a waste of time and an aesthetic affront. So the ads are gone, replaced by the occasional contextually relevant branded-entertainment sponsor module.


"He was a delusional farm boy. She was an Italian supermodel. He knew he had just one chance to hogtie her and show her the poetry in his overalls. So he went online to order a length of sturdy rope and the Rosetta Stone 'Italiano! First Lesson Plan' CD set. "


So, how do we act on these new findings?

Well, I'm considering a high-energy, preemptive approach to the big reveal. Something like this:

Setting: cocktail party ...

NICE LADY: "Hi, I'm Jennifer."

ME: "Hi, I'm Barak. Yes, just like the president -- but with no "c". I can hear you just fine though! Ha ha ha!"

NICE LADY: "Oh. Um ... there's my ex-husband across the room, chatting with an Italian supermodel. He's struggling with his declensions, poor thing. I have to go help. Nice meeting you!"

Up in the lab, we're developing some more sophisticated tools.

And in closing, here's another interesting finding: Not one of these hundreds of name-driven conversations has turned political. That may be a function of the homogeneous company I keep, here in a city so blue it's barely considered America by dyed-in-the-wool red-staters. Or it may be ... well, what do you think?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Whose Name Is This Anyway?

This blog is supposed to be about my name and Barack Obama's name, but I've just discovered something so unnerving, I have to break protocol. As noted, my name used to be predictably rare. Now, every week seems to bring some new mainstreaming encroachment.

Today's indignity: Somehow, a screenwriter has given my name -- my full name, all two parts of it -- to a character in a crime movie about Hasidic Jews. The synopsis and proposed tag lines indicate that "Holy Rollers" (due next year) is about a super-religious Jew who gets involved in drug smuggling. Of course, my name goes to the morally bankrupt guy who lures the innocent into a life of crime. I wear the Wicked Son hat again.

But how did this happen? It's not like my name is Bob Jones. To my knowledge, only three people on Earth share it (and neither of the others has responded to my efforts at communication; one runs a research firm in Pennsylvania, and the other lives in Israel). So how on Earth did screenwriter Antonia Macia choose my name? Have we met?

If you know, please provide some intel in the comments section below.

Babies Making Headlines

Was it just two days ago that I typed "[a]fter thousands of babies are named after our first non-white President, my name may even become a commonplace"? It was! And now look:

Sunday's New York Times is already trumpeting the dawning of this blessed new era with a story by Jennifer 8. Lee entitled: "Like the Dwights and Lyndons of Old, Baby Baracks All Over." (Interesting for a web pro that the story has two titles: the above headline for human readers, and a simpler, blunter one for search engines ("Barack a Hot Name for New Babies").)

And here's a choice nugget:
“Honoring new presidents with baby namesakes used to be an American tradition,” said Laura Wattenberg, author of “The Baby Name Wizard.” But she pointed out that the custom faded around the time of Watergate, in part because people became more cynical about the presidency.
The gist of the story: Now that hope has replaced cynicism as a default attitude, gird yourself for a rash of presidentially monickered infants. And for names borrowed from Barack Obama's immediate family. And when that puppy finally shows up, you can bet dogs from coast to coast and Kenya too will answer to the same call ... whatever it is.

And finally, it's almost worth noting that this story about the number of kids named Barack was written by a woman with a number for a middle name.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Barak Hussein Zimmerman

There. I did it.

Not really, but wouldn't it have been funny if I had?