Where do you get the names for your characters?

Hunter Pence--A name and look made for a novel action hero.
Hunter Pence–Action Hero

That is one of the most common questions I get from people who are kind enough to read my books and stories.  The best answer is from anywhere there is a list of names.  Graduation lists are great resources, people in photographs in the newspaper, church bulletins, anywhere really.  The eye is the portal of creativity.  It is often good to take first names and match them with other last names.

But inspiration can come from anywhere.  As I watched game five of the World Series last night, it occurred to me that the entire starting lineup of the San Francisco Giants have excellent novel names.  In my mind I built a plot for each one of them.

CF Gregor Blanco–An assassin who specializes in international jobs.  He has a handlebar moustache.

2B Joe Panik–1960s era private investigator.  That he plays in San Francisco just screams Bogie

C Buster Posey–Banker from the 1920s-30s.  He wears suspenders and a bow tie.  A close personal friend of Daddy Warbucks.

3B Pablo Sandoval–A desperate artist who lives in Miami.  He probably has a sordid past,  maybe a couple of children he left behind in New York.

RF Hunter Pence–My favorite!  He a loner who makes an incredible discovery about the origins of the cosmos while backpacking through Mongolia.  (Note–If you want to know what my mental image of Wyoming Wallace, Hunter Pence is pretty close)

1B Brandon Belt–A bartender who has lots of luck with the ladies, until he finds the one girl who is the gin to his tonic.  Soul patch, tall, lanky. 

LF Travis Ishikawa–This name just screams scientist.  Ishikawa develops a time machine that . . .

SS Brandon Crawford–Brandon Crawford is a Hollywood superstar, but beneath the perfect smile and hair he hides a dark secret.

SP Madison Bumgarner–President Madison Bumgarner must overcome international terrorists and domestic political division to unify the nation before its too late. 

Yeah, these are some great names.  Sadly, Kansas City just doesn’t have quite the pizzazz that the Giant names do.

image of Hunter Pence from


Pop the popcorn and make the red Kool-Aid
Pop the popcorn and make the red Kool-Aid

The World Series starts tonight.  That’s right, a sporting event that is actually slow enough to watch without needing nausea medicine afterward.  This year pits the Kansas City Royals from the American League against the San Francisco Giants from the National League.  We dodged having a completely regional World Series when San Fran put the hated St. Louis Cardinals out of their misery.

San Francisco will win in six, maybe seven games, because they have more experience and better all-around pitching.  However, if Kansas City won I would be very happy.  It has been a long time since George Brett . . .

Now for a little ebola.  I was traveling this weekend, and so didn’t really discover until Monday morning that apparently President Obama appointed an “Ebola Tzar” (or is it Ebola Czar, Ebola Tsar–come on Russia, get your act together) to help us figure out how not to become feverish vomiting zombies (FVZ’s).  I almost laughed my head off, though, when I learned that the new ebola comrade was not a doctor, disease specialist, scientists, or even hygienist but was instead a . . . drum roll please . . . lawyer.  His name is Ron Klain and as best I can tell, his only qualifications are that he was a campaign adviser for Joe Biden.  That sound you hear is the sound of politicians scratching another back.

Only a lawyer (Obama) could look at a zombie inflicting extinction event like ebola (I may be exaggerating just a bit here, but FOXNEWS has my parents absolutely petrified of ebola) . . wait, where was I . . oh, only a lawyer could look at the ebola problem and decide that what we needed to save the day was another lawyer.

Have you seen the photos of Renee Zellwegger?  It is quite sad.  Apparently she showed up, for the first time in a long time, at an event over the weekend.  Well, she has, she has metamorphed.  That is the best word for it.  It is yet one more example of plastic surgery, a sick culture, and the objectification of women ruining another beautiful person.  She doesn’t look bad or ugly or broken.  She just doesn’t look like Renee Zellweger.  Sad.  Very sad.  For an opposite view, click here to read an interesting piece that says we shouldn’t comment at all because those poor Hollywood stars are in a lose/lose situation.

Where did you go, Renee?
Where did you go, Renee?

For me, her appearance is almost a metaphor for why so many people are miserable.  Literally, in attempting to make other people be pleased with her, she has lost her own identity.  Until we become comfortable with who we are, growing older, and our limitations joy will always be something on the horizon–one more surgery, one more purchase, one more prescription, one more . . . away.

images from and


Greenbean doesn’t blog about sports often, but every now and again it is on his mind.  Here are a few thoughts related only by the fact they all have a sports theme.


1.  The Washington D.C. NFL franchise must change its name.  I really cannot believe that the league allows them to continue using a racial slur as the mascot.  I admire many of the sports reporters who are refusing to refer to the team’s name any longer.  I think that is a good idea.  I also admire many of the colleges who have changed their mascot, but Redskins is a particularly odious name.  Most other Native American Mascots use honorifics like Chiefs or Braves–but Redskins is all about skin color.  They only reason to keep the name is tradition, but this is a bad tradition so I call foul on this one.

2.  It looks like it is the L.A. Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals in the National League pennant series and the Detroit Tigers against the Boston Red Sox for the American League.   Detroit is a sentimental choice because of Justin Verlander.  He is a great pitcher.  I hate all Boston sports teams–Red Sox, Celtics, and the Patriots–all of them but I have to give the Red Sox props because they have some of the greatest beards ever to wear cleats.  Now, If the Seattle Mariners or the Houston Astros are nowhere to be found in post season (which, is almost always the case) I will root for the National League in the world series.  I am hoping it will be the Dodgers.  I have been a fan of the L.A. Dodgers ever since I was a boy.  Kirk Gibson.   Orel Hershiser.  Tommy Lasorda.  Yep.  Anyone else remember Orel Hershiser singing the Doxology for Johnny Carson?

3.  It is TX-OU weekend.  My hapless Longhorns are going up the I-35 freeway to play the very impressive Oklahoma Sooners.  I fully expect us to get destroyed, something like 53-17 or something.  However, I am not a Longhorn fan . . . I am a Longhorn (class of 94) so I am eternally optimistic about the prospects of beating Oklahoma because when I was a student we had Peter Gardere–Peter the Great!  He was 4-0 against OU including some amazing come from behind games.  Oh how I wish he could suit up this weekend.


UPDATE:  Shockingly, my Texas Longhorns pulled off the upset and we beat the evil Sooners 36-20.  I told you that I doubted this would happen, but sometimes optimism pays off.  Hook ‘Em.