Monday, March 27, 2006


Do you guys doodle? You know, when you're thinking about something or talking on the phone, and suddenly you look down and realize that you've just absent-mindedly drawn a little spaceship and two aliens strutting around the margins of your notebook page, as though they're about to claim your piece of paper in the name of Betelgeuse? If so, what do YOU draw? Little aliens? Random shapes and designs? Epic pen-and-ink historical reenactments?

I occasionally worry about myself -- and one of the principal reasons is my doodles. I doodle all the time when I'm on the phone or preoccupied with portions of my brain switched to the "off" position. The problem is: I don't draw little pictures or little shapes. I SIGN MY NAME. Over and over and over again.

There's no way to make that come across well. I shudder to think what a coworker would make of me if they were to walk by my desk and see a page covered over and over again in my name. Surely I must be some sort of egomaniacal nutbag so in love with myself that I practice my own autograph for kicks.

Truth be told, I guess I just like the way the pen feels when I'm signing my name, skating from a swirling S to a harsh straight H and so on. The other day I looked down to find a page full of my signatures and once again it got me thinking about names.

I've said before in these pages: I like the name my parents gave me. It's unique, but not weird and unpronounceable. At least, I thought it was unique until I Googled myself and found out there's a whole lot of Shane Browns out there. One of them, in fact, recently released a Christian country album called "Thank You Lord." Just to spare the confusion, that's NOT me.

There's one thing that stinks about my name, though: it's highly uncooperative when it comes to nicknames. There's no way to shorten my name. James gets to be Jim. Robert gets to be Rob (or even Bob!) The best I could muster is "Ane," and I'll pass on that one, thanks.

I DJ on the weekends -- and I'm pretty good at it, if I do say so myself. Therefore, I should have some kind of equally cool DJ nickname. Usually these come in two varities: (1) name yourself after natural disasters (DJ Hurricane, DJ Typhoon, etc.), or (2) give yourself an edgy urban name (DJ Pimp Daddy, DJ MakeMoney, etc.) Well, natural disasters are pretty picked over unless I want to be DJ Mudslide (and I don't.) And the day I could pull off "DJ Pimp Daddy" would be the day Snoop Dogg releases an ode to Johnny Cash. It's not happening.

Therefore, I've just always been "DJ Shane Brown." This hasn't bugged me much. Some big-name DJ's go by their normal names. There's a popular trance DJ who just goes by John Digweed. Granted, it's likely not his real name as much as a guy named John who happens to dig, err, weed.

Back in the glory days of the internet, I used to hang out in a chat room full of fellow music geeks. One day, the founder of the chat room announced to the entire group that he had dreamt the previous night of meeting me in person, and that I weighed 300 lbs. and danced about with tacos in each hand. Within minutes, one of the regulars in the chat room called me "The Taco Lad." Sadly, it stuck. To this day, you can find me on IM under the handle "Tacolad." This is clearly an example of a Nickname Gone Wrong. Tragically, it may have happened again.

This weekend, I played with my usual team of friends at a charity trivia event. One of the questions asked was as follows: "The movie title 'October Sky' is an anagram of the title of the book it was based on. Name that book." I really suck at anagrams. Some people can see a bunch of jumbled up letters and instantly start turning them into words. These are probably the same people who do those Sudoku puzzles in the paper every day and have a completed Rubik's Cube somewhere in their homes. I, on the other hand, was born without the ability to process such puzzles.

Ergo, while my teammates figured out the anagram in record time ("Rocket Boys,") after ten minutes the best I could offer up was "Coot Skerby." No sooner had I shared it than my teammates started calling me "Coot." The next night, we had ANOTHER trivia event, and by the time I walked in, they had already registered me as Coot Skerby.

The more I think about, maybe Coot Skerby would make for a good nom-de-plume. I mean, noone's going to read The Great American Novel if it comes from Shane Brown, are they? I can see the About the Author now: "Shane Brown lives alone in Rock Island, IL. He, umm, watches a lot of TV."

But Coot Skerby? Coot's got some stories. You can't walk around with a name like Coot Skerby unless you've seen some action. Maybe you've even done some hard time. Coot might be an adventurer. Or he might be the sagely old guy who offers homespun wisdom. Or maybe he's just the backwards-baseball-cap wearing comic sidekick. Either way, he's far more interesting a guy than Shane Brown could ever be.

So maybe I'll take the Coot Skerby nickname in stride. Maybe one day you'll see him on the cover of a book. If nothing else, it gives me a new name to mindlessly sign over and over again. Then my coworkers won't think that I'm an egomaniac. They'll, errrr, just think I'm obsessed with a guy named Coot.

On second thought, maybe I'll just stick with Shane after all...


Anonymous said...

Update once in awhile Coot. Those of us who read the column want more Shane for our buck. :)

Anonymous said...

I love blogspot. Seriously, I posted this about a month ago. I wonder when *this* will pop up?