The Glup Shitto Transcript

RS: Welcome to Rite Gud, the podcast that helps you write good. What’s in a name? A lot, really. That’s why they’re so hard to come up with. Parents agonize over picking the right baby name for their children. We gave up on naming this podcast, and went with the default working title.

And as authors, sometimes it’s hard to come up with a good name for your character, or your imaginary monster, or your fake magical bullshit. So in this episode, [00:01:00] a writer named Karlo Yeager Rodriguez, from a podcast named PodSide Picnic, joins us to talk about names. Heh heh

Karlo: Really F plus naming conventions. there right off the bat. Who’s this Karlo people, a person who’s, what’s his name supposed to represent? Glad to be back, honestly. Well, you know, it’s funny. Apparently my, my, uh, it’s supposed to be, yeah. Way back when, apparently an old ancestor on my dad’s side, who’s the German side, basically had to ask for permission to emigrate from Germany

RS: Mm.

Karlo: he was like, attached to some sort of local aristocrat or something, who knows?

I’m not even sure. This is like, uh, pre mid 19th century or whatever, I think.

RS: Wow.

Karlo: So yeah, I mean, when, when, speaking of [00:02:00] naming and the weight that some of these names come with, we, we often forget just how quickly, capital M modernity happened. We often forget that there were people doing cavalry charges in world war one.

RS: Yeah, it’s weird, when my, my great grandpa on my dad’s side came over, he had to renounce the king.

Karlo: Yep. Same, same.

RS: or whatever, I guess they still had a king or some shit.

Karlo: Yeah, same here. One of the documents from Ellis Island where it, it does actually say, so and so, I forget. I’m a terrible grand grand grand grand grandson. Uh, I forgot the name, but so and so renounces, the Kaiser of Germany or whatever. You’re like, oh, okay, I guess you do have to renounce your allegiances to other countries.

Which, you know, I guess makes sense.

RS: Yeah, it is so weird to have to officially renounce a king though, like, are you also renouncing the wizard, you know?

Karlo: This, this feels like, uh, speaking of, I, I think [00:03:00] you had , we had talked a little bit offline and you, you had mentioned offhand that this was the, Star Wars slash Glup Shitto episode.

RS: is the Glup Shitto episode.

Karlo: Do you think that Luke had to renounce his allegiances to Tatooine when, whenever the, the rebellion took him on?

RS: I don’t even know. I feel like there were more important things he had to renounce his allegiances to, honestly.

Karlo: Well, you got to remember that, the weird, uh, assistant to the emperor Is like a weird wizard. Everyone else is like this bureaucrat, and it’s like, “oh, this fucking guy. What’s he gonna do? Like, throw the bones in the middle of the council room? What the fuck?” Get,

RS: mean, he’s basically like Rasputin or something, right? Like, here’s the king, here’s the queen, here’s like some relatively normal people, and then here’s the cocaine sex wizard.

Karlo: or,

RS: Here he is. We got one of those. Yeah,

Karlo: Uh, [00:04:00] or you can choose between this man, it’s, who says that we should drink mercury all the time. And he’s like, I’ll take the mercury guy. He looks cool.

RS: he’s pretty sick. I like him.

Karlo: He has potions made out of mercury. I’m sure I’ve heard other people have told me that that’s, that gives you immortality.

RS: Yeah, sounds good. Sounds dope. I’ll take that guy. Anyway, so within the first five minutes, we’ve already gotten off topic. This is great. This is a good start. This is a good start. We haven’t had any cat screams yet, though, so I don’t know if it’s officially an episode. Harley is grooming himself, and Henny is calmly looking out the window.

Let’s see how that lasts. Anyway, see ya. So let’s talk about naming characters. Characters can be tricky enough to come up with a name when you’re writing mimetic fiction. When you’re writing fantasy or sci fi, it can be even trickier. Like, do you want something really far out, or do you want something that sounds kind of [00:05:00] normal?

Because like, yeah, maybe in 500 years we’ll have people named Zap. But likely, we’ll probably still have people named, like, John, in 500– We had We had dudes named John, like, 2000 years ago. We’re probably still gonna have dudes named John a couple hundred years in the future.

Karlo: It, it, it might be spelled differently but yes.

RS: Yeah.

Karlo: It is funny, isn’t it? The JON, JAN, JOHN, just different variations of the same, same name throughout history.

RS: And it is kind of funny which biblical names get to be kind of considered normal, and which biblical names get are considered weird. Like, okay, Rebecca was a biblical name, and that’s still acceptable, but like, Jebediah would not be considered as normal.

Karlo: that’s a good Amish name. I mean,

RS: kinda like, well, why? Why is this one, you know, why is Leah okay, but why is Zebulon a problem?

I’m not [00:06:00] really sure.

Karlo: I mean, honestly, if I had been, like, if, if I had gone to school with a kid named Zebulon and hadn’t seen him yet, I would, I would sort of assume in little kid fashion that he’s, like, part robot.

RS: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that definitely sounds like a robot name.

Karlo: But I think, to your point, it’s funny, right, because of that usage and that, that sort of, repetition over time, uh, it, it does make certain names sound much more sort of modern than others, right? Who do you know? Did you ever graduate with a Jehoshaphat? You know, I, I don’t think so.

But it might be, I dunno, it depends on where you went to school, but, but those names like, like Jebediah, Zebulon, Jehoshaphat, uh, shit. We’ll circle back to this one, but like stuff like Ahab and Ishmael are still, they feel like capital B Bible names. You don’t really

name your [00:07:00] kid that’s going to go to soccer practice that.

RS: Yeah. And certain names are considered modern, even if they’re really old. Like, Tiffany is a very old name. It appears at least in, like, the Middle Ages, but if you tried to write some kind of medieval inspired fantasy novel and the princess was named Tiffany, people would say, like, Are you fucking kidding me?

Karlo: Well, or Britney.

RS: Right?

Karlo: I mean, Britney is was like recorded as the name of a country.

It like back in the mid, like the, I believe the high middle, what we would call high middle ages or whatever. Right. Uh, but, but in any case, yeah, it’s like you said, these are names that have existed. It’s just for whatever reason, because they, and weirdly they’ve be, they’ve attacked, there’s been some meaning attached to them more recently.

Like, “Oh, Oh, we’re going to have a valley girl in the middle ages. Come on, Tiffany. Come on, man.”

RS: yeah, [00:08:00] T what is she going to Ye Olde Mall? Come on.

Karlo: She’s gonna, she’s gonna sing at the old mall.

RS: But it legit

was a

Karlo: thou think’st, thou think’st thee’s alone now, you know.

RS: Right, right. So it’s always tricky, like, there are different strategies of picking names, some authors just kind of wing it and go with it, I mean, you could, you could do the George Lucas thing and just not give a fucking shit and call your characters bullshit like Count Dooku, which is an incredible flex.

Karlo: Well, from, I forget where I read this, I read this just the other day, that, the only reason he used, which, I mean, also, George isn’t, doesn’t seem to be really in on maybe the slang, because I was like, well, why would you call your, your bad guy Count Turd. But apparently he liked the name because it sounded a little like Count Dracula.

RS: I guess, but

Karlo: not exactly.

RS: Not really, dude.[00:09:00]

Karlo: I mean, if it was like Count Drock or I’d be like,

RS: Drago or something, Like,

Karlo: my god. Could you imagine? Uh Count Drago. It’s it’s uh it’s

RS: Yeah, that’d be sick.

That’d be

Karlo: you Luke.

RS: Like a really swole, huge space dude, I’d be into it. I’d go for it, I’d be fine It’s stupid, but so Skywalker. Skywalker is a dumbass name. It’s goofy as shit. It rocks. It’s very, you know, Flash Gordon 1930s pulp trash type of name.

Which is, of course, where the series gets its inspiration from. He was, I wanna make Flash Gordon, but I can’t get the rights to it. Okay. Fuck it.

Karlo: my my last name is Lucas. I’m going to call my my my hero character Luke.

RS: Yeah. Heh, heheheheh. Heh, heh, heh. Heh, heh. I love that. It’s He just didn’t give a fuck. It’s so good. People just let him do it, cause it was the seventies, and

Karlo: But I mean, I, I think, I think to, to our point here, it [00:10:00] like in the prequels, it sort of the wheels start coming off a little bit because there’s way a lot more characters by then. But like the original, like even the first movie, you know, like Han Solo, well, he’s a smuggler who works alone. Right. But, uh, it is, it is insanely.

RS: for naming a species a Wookiee

Karlo: Uh huh. Yep.

RS: Like, I It’s just, of course, Simpsons reference of “I bent my Wookiee.” Like, you know what this sounds like. You know this sounds like a child’s euphemism for penis.

Karlo: Yes. Well, I think, I think it’s also very, it’s so, so funny to me that they, that for whatever reason they found it necessary in universe to have Han Solo be named. You didn’t see Solo, uh, a Star Wars adventure or

RS: No, I did not see that

Karlo: It is, it is, it is so bad, but, but like, I don’t know why they had this idea.

Like, again, this is like the, the problem, not to do a callback to lore and world building, but the, the [00:11:00] problem with that sort of mindset is that, Oh, well, we got to have the, how did Han Solo get name? It’s like, who gives a shit? His name is Han Solo. He works alone. It tells you everything you need to know, man.

He doesn’t like working with others. He’s selfish.

RS: Wookie, it’s either a child slang for penis, or some like weird British racial slur.

Karlo: He can’t let the Wookiees move into our, into our

RS: you know that’s like something that British people would call someone who’s not English. Yeah, I wouldn’t want him living next

Karlo: There goes the neighborhood. Oh man. Although, after I saw the, uh, the Star Wars, Christmas special or whatever, I, I kind of get it.

RS: either. We gotta, we gotta, we gotta put some standards in.

Karlo: Yeah. I think you had mentioned, Mission Earth with, or no, I’m sorry, not Mission Earth, Battlefield. Ugh, God.

RS: you, [00:12:00] L. Ron Hubbard.

Karlo: Johnny Goodboy was the name of the dog, boy!

RS: It’s just so bad. It’s so bad.

Karlo: Could you imagine? I mean, like, it’s, it sounds like it is, uh, totally a line that’s ripped from Indiana Jones. I don’t know why you chose good boy. If that’s the, that was the name of the dog. Uh,

RS: Hiro Protagonist.

Karlo: Well, yeah, I mean

that, but

RS: it’s, I get that it’s a joke.

Karlo: it, yeah, it is supposed to be a joke, slightly offensive, but, uh, not, I mean, just language, language, play and whatnot is fun.

It is weird, right? Because also then you get… speaking to your earlier thing about like biblical names, right? We’ve all seen a version of this where it’s like, oh, you know, this far future and Dune and the heroes named Paul. It’s like, yeah, Paul, like Paul of fucking Tarsus.

RS: Yeah.

Karlo: You Philistine?

RS: Okay.

Karlo: Like in the [00:13:00] Bible, which exists, which exists in the Dune universe, except it’s an orange Catholic Bible. The, the fun, speaking of that, that’s a great, that’s a great name. What is an orange Catholic Bible? My head canon is that it’s a specifically trad Caths that used to live in Orange County. And this is the religion that’s, that’s been catapulted into the far future.

RS: Oh no.

Karlo: It’s essentially like HOA, uh, lots of HOA commandments.

RS: Yeah, yeah, it’s really strict. Instead of having to like, keep kosher or something, you gotta like, you know, these are the colors your curtains are allowed to be.

Karlo: Mm hmm. Yeah, you

RS: You know, your lawn can only grow this long.

Karlo: Mm hmm. Well, and on Arrakis, really, it’s easy to keep your lawn trimmed because you don’t have one.


RS: got nuttin there.

Karlo: yeah, it’s good, it’s good. Uh, yeah.

RS: You think they’re really mad at the sandworms for like, fucking up their lawns though? I bet they would be.

Karlo: They would be. You, you know, Oh, you know, those orange Catholics would probably [00:14:00] like devise some far future roundup or some shit. Kill off all the sandworms. Fuck it.

RS: Yeah. Yeah, like the transplants to Puerto Rico who are like, Ugh, these coquis are so loud.

Karlo: Right?

RS: we kill them? Like, motherfucker. Motherfucker.

You son of a bitch.

Karlo: yeah, like I get it. coquis are allowed, but also they

RS: in Puerto Rico. Shit’s loud, dude.

Karlo: They’re from there. You are not.

RS: Yeah.


Karlo: I think you’d mentioned, what would imagining what a, a parent in your imaginary universe named their

RS: Yeah, like that is one strategy of, okay, imagine, think of this character’s backstory, the culture they come from, and also their personal backstory. What would their parents might maybe have picked out for them?

Karlo: God, could you imagine like you, you, you end up giving them the name that ends, ends up getting them bullied at school or [00:15:00] whatever.

RS: Right, right.

Karlo: Luke. The hell kind of name is that?

Kill him. Yeah,

Come on. Kick him, Glup.

RS: Yeah, kick his ass.

Karlo: It turns out that Glup is a very, very popular name. So, you didn’t, I’m going to guess that you didn’t catch like the, uh, Andor,

RS: I didn’t catch Andor.

Karlo: Okay. It is very funny that, uh, that the assumed name in that he, you, that, uh, Cassian Andor uses, uh, is it follows the same naming convention as Glup Shitto, you know, one syllable first name, two syllable last name.

And that’s like a, it’s almost like it has a rhythm to it that you’re like, Oh, that’s the Star Wars rhythm right there. He’s like, I’m Keef Gergo. You’re like That That is Glup Shitto, my friend. Heh heh heh heh. Heh heh heh heh. I love it. It’s so good. You know that the writers were having fun. They knew about Glup [00:16:00] Shitto. yeah.

RS: strategy, I think, of picking out a name. There’s another, which, do you want to do the thing that a lot of writers do, which is, like, pick a symbolic and meaningful name? That’s not necessarily a bad thing. A lot of writers do it, but if you lean into it too hard, it can like, end up sounding cutesy and annoying and possibly offensive.

I’m thinking of J. K. Rowling a little bit, who’s like one Black character is called, what is it, like, Kingsley Shacklebolt. Just like, we’re, okay,


Karlo: Well, wasn’t, wasn’t also the, the other thing was, uh, Cho Chang is not like

RS: Not really a proper, yeah, not a proper like, Chinese name in any way.

Karlo: Yeah, it’s like, okay, great.

RS: You can be, you can get a little cutesy. I mean, granted, she, she was writing for children, which I think is fine to get, like, cutesy with names when it’s literally for children. [00:17:00] When a bunch of mid 40s millennials have decided that this is how you should write, then it’s a little more troubling.


Karlo: uh, signifier to others that this is the way you should do it. And I don’t know, maybe we shouldn’t follow the, the weird, transphobe lady with the castle.

RS: Yeah. Yeah. Maybe not. Maybe not. I mean, but can we choose a name that immediately kind of tells you who the character is? Not necessarily, like, here’s what the name means, but, this guy kind of sounds like a Jimbo, or this, you know, we’re gonna call this really bitchy white woman named Karen, or something like that, like, maybe you can do that, if you want your audience to know immediately who this asshole is, Bye.

Like, that’s not necessarily a bad idea.

Karlo: Yeah, I mean, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll, I’ll cop and, and I know it’s, it might be a little gauche to, to self be self referential,

RS: Nah, it’s fine.

Karlo: I’ve used that [00:18:00] naming convention several times in short fiction, especially in short fiction where to a certain,

RS: you need to get to the fucking point.

Karlo: Yeah. And also like realism is

sometimes can be a little overrated. So like, if, if I’m going to tell you a story about a brother that comes back from the dead, the sister’s named Martha and Martha, uh, and the brother’s called Lazarus, you know? So, uh, and also it, it falls within the purview, right? Because like old timey Puerto Rico love their Catholic names, you know,

RS: Oh, yeah.

Karlo: let’s name kids after saints.

RS: Sure, why not? I mean, I can believe it.

Karlo: Speaking of ironic names, right? Like, uh, in Up

RS: Yeah, like an asshole named, like, Dr. Goodman or something like that.

Karlo: Counterpoint to that, uh, James Bond had Dr. No, you know what his bedside manners like, right?

RS: Yeah.

Karlo: But, but like, uh, in Up in the Hills, I think I used ironic, uh, names for, for Grace and Peter, uh, specifically, because like Peter [00:19:00] is not the rock that she hopes for and she does not receive grace. So

RS: Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Karlo: So, I mean, it can work. I mean, honestly, in short fiction, there’s a lot of stuff that, that the rules are very fluid and, and, you know, there’s nothing that’s hard set. Whatever works.

RS: And especially if you’re doing pulp.

Karlo: Oh, that’s great.

RS: fuckin A lot of the rules can go out the window, and you can absolutely be cheesy as fuck.

Karlo: Well, I mean, you know, back to our example of Luke Skywalker corny ass fucking name

RS: Corny ass shit name.

Karlo: Works perfectly

RS: It’s great. It’s perfect. It tells you, like, this is a, this is a goofy ass pulp adventure story with space wizards in it. Let’s fucking go. Yeah.

Karlo: guess. I do want to point out that, um, there’s also different things that you can do, uh, with names, right? Obviously, I don’t know if you’ve ever played RPGs, [00:20:00] but.

But there’s always, yeah, there’s always the problem, right? Because you come in with, I don’t know, like, Krendor of Gargaria, he’s a barbarian, blah blah blah, and then somebody comes up. Yeah, and my character’s named Steve. He’s a sorcerer. You’re like, come on, man. You’re like out of, you don’t fit. What the hell? I’m over here playing Conan and you’re over there playing Terry Pratchett. What the fuck?

RS: or of course the, the fun adolescent thing of, of naming your hero who saves the world, like Fartmaster. Or something like that. That’s

Karlo: I mean, I feel, I feel like that’s the, that’s a similar sentiment to, when you got the high score, uh, in a video game

and just putting in A S S as your initials,

RS: Hell yeah.

Karlo: know, that that’s, that’s a lot of fun. Ah, they’re gonna, they’re gonna be reading ass. But yeah, like I think that that it is it is very funny to to do that right like it feels like Adolescently edgy, you know [00:21:00] Hey,

RS: There’s also, a lot of things with references. Like, are you using a reference in a way that is, that is, you know, Intentional or really careful or is it just like you recognize that you recognize that name? Yeah. Yeah.

Karlo: hey, you remember when you remember when my character did the thing? Yeah Yeah, you remember when the character did the other thing and just do a complete like your your name is essentially the Chris Farley bit Of referencing over and over again things. Um, although that, that would be interesting, right?

Could you imagine like a hero of many like the, the, the person who is the hero of many, many campaigns. It just, they keep on adding stuff.

RS: Right

Karlo: of the world. Defender of the, the holy pastry. You’re like, what the fuck?

RS: Let’s see, I was wondering if you do this when you’re coming up with a name for a [00:22:00] character. Do you google your proposed name to find out? Wait, is this already somebody? well known Yeah,

Karlo: Which isn’t to say that I, you know, that it, that’ll never happen, but at the same time, like, I don’t know, I, I don’t think I’ve ever used like a name that is recognizable. But yeah, I think that that’s, I don’t think that that’s a bad practice just to make sure that if there’s some sort of context that you’re missing. cultural or otherwise, you just do due diligence. Don’t, you know, I don’t know, like make sure that you’re not being offensive. Make sure that you’re not referencing like a character who is the opposite of what you want. Like if you are naming, uh, a very saintly character or good character, please, you know, look it up.

Maybe you don’t want to. Call him Vlad Tepes. Turns out, that guy, that guy has a lot of stuff behind his name, and a lot of baggage.

RS: Yeah, he’s a naughty boy. Which, I mean, there’s [00:23:00] nominative determinism there. Like, Vlad Tepes is, an extremely spooky name. And that’s who he was.

Karlo: Yeah, and also, I also love the detail that Dracula is like basically the little dragon.

RS: Yeah.

Karlo: It’s like, oh, he’s a little dragon.

RS: He’s a little dragon. He’s a small bean dragon.

Karlo: Do you think that calling him little dragon gave him like the Napoleon

RS: Yeah, it could be. It could be. I’ll show you!

Karlo: I’ll show you Turks! But yeah, like I also I think that Something that that is interesting to me is when someone gathers different names to themselves Which I mean we’re gonna probably reference Tolkien here, of course, because he’s yeah but but like Like, Gandalf has many names depending on which culture he’s visiting or whatever. He’s Gandalf, mostly, but, uh, was it Mithrandir, I forget, he’s, he’s got a, a bunch of other names, oh, uh, Gandalf Greyhame, Gandalf [00:24:00] Warcrow, less, uh, positive ones, when he’s, he’s, he’s just the guy that, that tells it to you straight, people don’t like that sometimes.

RS: Yeah.

Karlo: But yeah, like I, over the course of your life, you gather different names or nicknames or monikers or what have you, like, that’s another thing. I think you, you had, referenced, like also over time, right? Like perhaps you have different cultures have like a, a name, a, a initial name or a family name that’s kept, that’s kept reserved.

And then you, you give your forward facing name, so to speak.

RS: Yeah, like some, some cultures have a lot of different names of, you use this one name in public, you use a different name in PO Private. Or there are like nickname conventions or something. I just remember trying to read Crime and Punishment and every character has like eight names because that’s just how they do it in Russia and just feeling completely fucking lost.

Like, who’s Dounia? Like, no, that’s. That’s a nickname for Anya. Like, what? How is that a nickname for Anya? What the fuck? [00:25:00] And just like getting really, really angry and giving up on the book because I can’t remember everyone’s name.

Karlo: What? What is this? Nonsense.

RS: And there are other cultures, I mean, in the West, in the United States, you have your legal name given to you at birth and it’s very difficult to change it.

You have to go through all these legal procedures and shit. That’s not how, Typically throughout human society, that’s not how it has always been in a lot of other cultures. A lot of other times, there’s not, like, an official government registry and government IDs and social security numbers and shit. So, like, if you want to change your name, it’s fine.

No one’s really gonna stop you. As long as other people, start calling you that, that’s your fucking name now. So, like, and you might change it depending on your accomplishments. So, like, Sitting Bull at birth was named, was given a name that means like Jumping Badger, and he was nicknamed, uh, Hunkeshni, which means Slow as a kid, but like that’s not slow as like an insult.

That slow is just like thinking th [00:26:00] things through and

Karlo: de Deli. Deliberate

RS: Yeah, like deliberate. And then he was renamed, uh, Tatanka Yotonka, which means Sitting Bull as a teenager after he showed courage in battle. So, you know this is a guy who’s gone through multiple name changes because that’s how it was in that culture you would, your name, you’d have your birth name and then you’d kind of… it was understood that your identity would evolve, so you’d change your name, and that was fine, and that wasn’t such a big deal, it’s just with us, because we have these legal registries, changing your name is kind of a pain in the ass.

Karlo: Well, and I think I think as a small tangent, I think that that’s gotten even more difficult with you know, like Patriot Act bullshit where Essentially online you’re supposed to have like what is it? Is it Real ID or whatever the fuck it’s called where you’re supposed to present actual proof that you’re named the way you are [00:27:00] present yourself online, which defeats sort of the purpose, a lot of the purposes of why people are online.

I think, like you said, like in general, there is the legal framework, which seems to be completely, separate and out of step with, just sort of how pragmatically and practically people have used names for, forever, pretty much.

RS: Right. Right.

Karlo: speaking, speaking of like nicknames, let me, let me give you a small anecdote and I, I may have mentioned this before to other people, but it just, it makes me laugh every time. When I was in the Navy, we got a new Lieutenant, assigned to our division.

And it, the rumor was that the Lieutenant was, uh, Like an officer that had come straight out of Annapolis, which is to say in sort of like grunt lingo What the context was that? Oh, he’s a real asshole because Annapolis is the [00:28:00] premier officer training Academy for the naval officers And one of the things that apparently they they ingrain is that You should never trust enlisted people

that work under you, uh, to give you like the straight, you know, the straight and narrow, whatever you, you should always double check them because, they might be a little crafty and try to pull one over on you.

Right? So, so the idea is that. The rumors started coming around that he was a bit of an asshole. And it’s like, okay. And, and in fairness, he was, but, he came around like his initial, his initial introduction was coming around and go like, yeah, my name is Lieutenant Kobieski, but you know what? I’ll be fine

if you just call me Cobes, which, let me just point out, you never get to choose your nickname. Your nickname is always chosen by somebody else, and it’s always slightly, generally it’s [00:29:00] slightly insulting, yes.

RS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Like, remember that episode of Seinfeld where George is trying to get people to call him T Bone? And it doesn’t work. It doesn’t work. No one starts calling him T Bone, but then they see him getting really mad and like waving his arms. They’re like, hey, he kind of looks like that gorilla that knows the sign language.

What’s her name? Coco. And they start calling him Coco instead, and he’s so mad.

It’s such a good episode.

Karlo: George? Mad?

RS: He’s so funny. Call me T Bone. Everyone’s like, no, we’re not calling you T Bone. No one’s calling you T Bone, George.

Karlo: Yeah, I mean, it is. It is just one of those things that just boggled my mind. Like I was what all of maybe 18, maybe 19 at the time. And I knew that I was like, come on, man, you don’t get to choose your nickname. Come on, man.

RS: Yeah.

Karlo: Also, I found this so funny to me that like, you’re an officer. You don’t need us to look up to you. You already are above us in the hierarchy.

RS: Yeah, it’s that, I need you to obey me, but you also have to [00:30:00] like me and think I’m your friend and think I’m cool. Like, nah.

Karlo: How about no?

RS: Nah, I’m not gonna do that.

Karlo: How about we keep that class divide real nice and,

RS: Yeah.

Karlo: But anyway, yeah, I just wanted to share that because it still to this day just makes me laugh. I’ll think about it randomly occasionally and be like, what an asshole.

RS: All right. So, so bringing it back, uh, setting a tone. We gotta talk about the names in Moby Dick a little bit because, I mean, I’m not the first person to point this out, but Moby Dick works a lot better when your characters are named things like Ishmael and Ahab and not like Steve and Bob. If the book started with, Call me Bob, like this would, would These very weird, olden times, over the top nicknames kinda convey a real sense of something, that like, this is something that’s hyper real, that’s not totally realistic, that’s not really [00:31:00] meant to be taken literally.

And that works a lot better when you’ve got characters named Starbuck and stuff like that.

Karlo: Well, I mean, I think that Melville was really cooking, right? He, he knew what he had, right? And he’s like, you know, what else is like hyper real and we’re supposed to take it seriously. And it’s like laden with symbolism? Biblical shit. Well,

RS: outcasts, sort of wandering in, in a, in a desolate environment, like, oh, oh, I get it. I get it. You’re doing something here.

Karlo: speaking of like, you just made me remember, it’s essentially like the, that, that entire cycle of, um, ancient prophets, but instead of going out into the desert, it’s the opposite. You’re going out into the ocean.

RS: Right.

Karlo: And I mean, yeah, absolutely. I think it, it, it can only work with that sort of hyper, [00:32:00] reality that something So laden with symbolism would bring to it because it’s such a weird, Such a weird book. I love it, but it is capital wb weird

RS: and that he comments on it too. He notes that the That the captain’s name is Ahab, like, well, that, hmm, that’s quite a name. He doesn’t just let it go. He very much underlines, like, look, I know you’re an, you’re a 19th century person. You probably recognize the name Ahab from the Bible, and it would be weird if this character didn’t say something about it.

Like, yeah, I’m acknowledging that. Here we go.

Karlo: Yeah, I mean but that I think that that also is a testament to Melville knowing Like he’s in on it. It’s one of these things that I, I always get a little frustrated by when people are like, did they, did the author know? Blah, blah. Of course they know.

RS: Of course he fucking knew. Yeah,

Karlo: And that, that sort of like puts the cherry [00:33:00] on top, right? Like he’s, he’s like meta, like almost metatextually telling you, yeah, yeah, I know about this. You know about this. Let’s talk about it a little bit. Yeah.

RS: let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room.

Karlo: I would also argue that his, uh, what is the whales chapter is like also completely a bit of a meta joke. He’s like, Oh yeah, they’re all fish. And you’re like, no,

RS: Yeah.

Karlo: Herman, you, you know, that’s not true.

RS: God, multiple chapters about whale phrenology. It’s incredible. It’s so fucking good. Multiple chapters, hell yeah.

Karlo: One thing I did want to point out, I think we, we had discussed this and I think perhaps it’s, it might be time to talk a little bit about the tangent of place names as well.

RS: Mhm.

Karlo: Cause I mean, like sometimes you get place names that are just like, they make sense in world, but sometimes it’s like, I just want to have a string of syllables that, that sound like they flow really cool and give you almost an onomatopoeic, feeling of what this is, right?

I’m rereading, a [00:34:00] series of books. The first one being Lord Fowl’s Bane. And, uh, I love that the titular volcano of the, of the fantasy setting is called in their language, Kirol Thrandor. I love it. It just rolls off the tongue and you like Thrandor. That sounds ominous,

RS: Yeah, yeah,


Karlo: It’s, it’s, a fucking volcano. It could go off at any moment.

RS: Yeah. I do like, I am very much in favor of nonsense syllables that just sort of sound right.

Karlo: Mm hmm, yep,

RS: fine with that. Jabba, Jabba sounds like a fat guy name.

Karlo: yeah, well, I mean, to your earlier point, and I, I, when, I, I don’t think I had heard it said aloud, but I hadn’t really noticed how much of a flow, what is it, uh, Tatanka Yotanka has, and you’re like, did they just choose that because it sort of rhymes? Uh, I, I don’t know. You know,

RS: mean, it could be.

Karlo: could be, I mean,

RS: But it sounds good. It’s

Karlo: but like, have you [00:35:00] ever seen Gabagool spelled out? It’s not Gabagool, it’s cappacoli.

RS: Yeah, yeah.

Karlo: That, that’s how it, it’s written out. It’s C A P, so on and so forth, right? But, but, but the thing that people forget is that people will, like, folks will definitely, make sure that something that, uh, is said will sound fucking cool, man.

RS: Hell yeah.

Karlo: So you go for flow rather than, a certain rhythm to it, rather than like, you know, formal stuff, which also goes into a name, right?


RS: It’s gotta sound nice. It’s gotta have a nice ring to it if people are going to say it out loud.

Karlo: out, uh, Good old Georgie, George R. R. Martin.

We probably overuse, uh, some of the same people over and over again. But, but I, I do think that he’s really good with this because he has a variety of different names in these books that tell you something [00:36:00] about the character and about where their, what their station is as well, right?

Like, you have Arya, who’s also hanging out with a kid that’s nicknamed Hot Pie. Okay. And what does Hot Pie do? Well, he’s, he’s like a chubby kid who was a baker’s apprentice. So, I mean,

RS: Yeah. People would name that kid Hot Pie. I can believe that.

Karlo: Yep, because that’s what he’s calling like before the war started That’s where he would be out in the street like calling out There’s like “hot pies gotta get you hot pies here” is it’s like the the like imagine Naming the guy at the baseball games like a medieval baseball game like Red Hot. His name is Red Hot

RS: Yeah. Catch your Red Hots here.

Karlo: Speaking of nicknames, it, it’s slightly insulting, but it also tells you exactly where this character’s from, like, what station, like, he’s not nobility, he’s no one important, he just sells hot pies.

RS: Yep.

Karlo: Who, and he also likes, likes eating hot pies a lot, too.

RS: Yeah, God. And George R. R. [00:37:00] Martin’s a fat guy, so he can get away with

saying that. You can’t, you can’t accuse him of fat shaming.

Karlo: He, he, he loves, I mean, he loves his meals. You can tell at every page.

RS: fucking loves his food. He will, he will just take a break from the narrative to describe some lunch. And I respect that.

Karlo: Hell yeah.

RS: I respect that, but anyway. So you can really set a tone and give an idea of, of the, Give the readers an idea of how they’re supposed to engage with this work with the names you choose.

Are you choosing Goofy pulp names? Are you choosing very real sort of realistic names? Are you choosing very biblical names stuff like that? And Also when you’re you’re writing a second world story you can do a little bit of efficient world building. Oh, no. I’m, I’m, I’m a liar. I like world building now.

What, what have we done? But you can do a little bit of efficient sort of telling us about the world based on the characters names like The Puritans liked to name their kids, especially their daughters after virtues like Constance and [00:38:00] Prudence. So if that’s the naming convention you’re choosing for your, say, fantasy novel, this is telling us, one, this is a very moralistic society, and two, here are the principles that they care about the most.

Here’s what they value. There’s also, there’s kind of a grotesque mirror image version of this in the, I know it’s very problematic movie, Idiocracy, where characters are named things like Frito and Dr. Lexus because it’s showing us, well, this is what this society values. It values, like, stupid consumer bullshit.

Karlo: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, it is, it is more or less what we’ve been talking about, for a bit here, right. That, that, yeah, like it’s supposed to convey some sort of detail about the world, uh, if your world is one that has like, again, has a guy named Paul in it. Well, guess what?

Maybe it could be that they, they really liked the Beatles. You know, it could

RS: hmm. Yeah.

Karlo: that, they’re very biblical. It could be a many of, a [00:39:00] variety of different things. But depending on, some of the other details, Paul in and of itself isn’t necessarily, it’s just a data point.

It needs to be connected to something else. And generally speaking, again, not to do a call back to the world building episode, but I think that that is part of thinking about how your world works. Be it in short or long form. Again, if you have like a world, that, that works on Conan, you know, you have Conan and, you know, Sindarin and whatnot, maybe Bob isn’t really a name that fits in that.

RS: Mm hmm.

Karlo: You know, what does Bob mean other than something that, that is in the water and floats? Uh, I do want to also point out that apart from that, there are, um, variants of this where it’s, it becomes very, um, sort of abstracted. I’m thinking [00:40:00] about, again, Tolkien, where, one of the funnier things is that, uh, Tolkien does not give you like the real, supposed name, the untranslated names of the characters. So for instance, uh, Frodo Baggins is apparently, uh, a translation of the quote, original language, uh, the Westren tongue.

Uh, his name was, was it Maura Labinghi or Labinghi? I’m not entirely sure. Uh, and he decided to, to filter it through old English where, Frode means wise by experience.

In Old

RS: Oh yeah.

Karlo: it is very funny to think about it, but it is like this very, very old timey, almost like a, I think it’s like a, almost a gothic, technique, right?

Where you are, you’re lending your text verisimilitude because the author supposedly quote, [00:41:00] found it, it is a found document, which is, uh, honestly in genre is often, a way to play a lot. So Tolkien did it. But also later on, Gene Wolf did it as well, but Gene Wolf did it in a very interesting way where he, he uses existing English words to describe or as he cheekily mentions in the afterword to the first Book of the New Sun, interpret, future things with like an existing word. So like for instance, one of the things is that he’ll love to be like, oh, he uses Destrier. To describe, like, essentially, like, these battle horses, right?

And that’s what a Destrier is. In medieval times, you’d have, essentially, it’s like a, Think of, like, a Clydesdale, but battle hardened. That’s more or less what you’re, you’re talking about, like a warhorse. They’re heavy, they need to be heavy because they need to carry like a guy in full armor, blah, blah, so on and so forth.

[00:42:00] But later on he’ll be like, and then the destriers extended its, its uh, talons, and you’re like, wait, what?

RS: hmm.

Karlo: careful of the destrier’s fangs, and you’re like, hold on. This is not the shape of the creature that I’ve had in my head.

RS: Mm.

Karlo: what am I, what is a Destrier? And a lot of it is exactly that, right?

He’s trying to alienate, to a certain extent, our feeling of what this future world would be.

But he doesn’t, he doesn’t also doesn’t want you to get too hung up on how strange it is. So he’ll use like just generic regular words that we could find or also combinations like he would make up like, different combinations like, Latin plus Greek, nomenclature, scientific stuff to, to just make up a certain type of creature or whatever,

RS: right.

Karlo: So, I mean, in that sense, he’s just trying to show you that just as the past is, the future is a completely different place.

RS: Yeah. Yeah. Now before we go on [00:43:00] into naming speculative elements, I just want to say a couple last things about, names, about personal names. If you’re planning to write your fantasy novel or your sci fi novel, it’s really worthwhile to study naming conventions outside of North America. How do people in other cultures, other languages, give names?

How do people in other eras give names? give names or receive names, because I really want to stress it’s just, it’s not the same universally. The way we do things now in contemporary America is not the way we’ve always done things and always will. Like, for example, just last names, family name conventions.

In Iceland, you don’t pass on your last name, your name, like, so and so’s daughter or so and so’s son. So if your name is Sven, and your dad is Gunnar, then you’re Sven Gunnarsson. But if your name is Freydis, like a certain not Latin American author, um, and your dad is Gunnar, then you’re Freydis Gunnarsdottir.

So like a family of four with mom and dad and brother and sister will have four different last names. You just don’t pass it on in the same way. [00:44:00] If your society is matriarchal, you might pass names down through the mother’s side, not the father’s. And also that names have magical power in a lot of traditional folklore, especially about fairies.

So, like, learn a little bit about the way other cultures handle names and keeps, you can use some of that when you’re naming characters. Because it It’s kind of annoying when you’re reading what’s supposed to be like a fantasy, a second world fantasy novel and everybody just kind of feels like Americans.

I don’t, I don’t like that. Please don’t do that.

Karlo: Yeah. I mean, even something as simple as like, Latin American naming conventions, right? It just throws people in the U. S. off, right?

RS: Yeah, like, why you got so many? Yeah.

Karlo: against you. It’s, that is actually the usual joking response. It’s like, why do you, why do you, yeah, why do you Why do I have, Rodriguez is another last name is like, because I have a mother and we want to display what her last name [00:45:00] was.

And that’s more or less it, you know, it’s just the way, you delineate is by, the patronymical is the first one and the matrilineal is, uh, is the second one, or did I say patron? Or patrilineal name, I should say. Uh, anyway. It is and that’s just Latin America and that’s not like thousands and it’s not around the, the other side of the planet.

It’s to the south of the U. S.

RS: It’s not that far. Many of, many of you listeners have traveled there to get drunk at least once.

Karlo: Cinco de Dranco.

RS: Yay!

Karlo: but yeah, you know what, uh, Cinco de Mayo, I, I said that as a joke, but that’s an interesting, uh, speaking of naming conventions, that has become like this weird, like, oh, that’s the, that’s the holiday. And you’re like, not in Mexico. It’s only a holiday in the U. S. It’s an important day, but it’s, it wasn’t like Independence Day. It isn’t like July 4th in the U. S. Let’s put it that way. I, I [00:46:00] would also argue that maybe July 4th isn’t really like July 4th in the U. S. either, but you know, that’s, that’s another story. There is a certain, penchant, if you will, for flattening things in the U. S. Partly because we, we, we seem to love monoculture, and that’s sort of like not how things work, like it is very difficult to make things like make an entire planet one thing.

Let’s put it that way. So if you’re, I, it’s, it’s a perfectly fine, uh, convention in sci fi, right? To have like an entire planet, that’s one ecosystem and you’re like,

RS: Right.

Karlo: like Dune.

RS: It’s one ecosystem, it’s one language, it’s one culture

Karlo: Right,

RS: It’s one climate, somehow.

Karlo: I don’t think that these are bad things and I’m not saying that we should take those away, you know, like take the toys away from the kitties or anything like that. It’s just simply that that’s what everyone [00:47:00] does. If you wanted to stand out, however, you would have it in your sci fi, you know, space opera epic.

Maybe the planet has different factions? different cultures on it. Maybe just one more. I mean, like, Think of like, we we’d mention Left Hand of Darkness but like, just by adding another country to uh to the planet just felt like an opening up.

RS: Yeah, it felt a lot richer. And that it was a really, really, really different society, too. One is a monarchy, the other is vaguely Soviet, kind of.

Karlo: Yeah, like parliamentary council, something, something, something’s happening.

RS: Yeah.

Karlo: Yeah, uh, but yeah, I, I, I don’t think that there’s no wrong way to do a, do this, but honestly, I think that what this is all about is mainly ways for you to stand out from the pack a little bit. And I, I know that this is sort of like a [00:48:00] weird, It’s a weird needle to thread because you want to stand out, but you don’t, obviously, if you want to have commercial success, you don’t want to stand out too

RS: much. Yeah.

Karlo: But, you know, you could always stand out just a little bit.


RS: And legit, like, some

writers do

have trouble coming up with shit. Some writers are like, fuck, what do I name this? I don’t know. Yeah,

Karlo: are for, right? You go, well,

RS: Or you could be like us, where it’s like, What are we going to call our podcast? I don’t know. I don’t know. We should avoid puns about writing. Let’s just call it Rite Gud for now, and that’s what we stuck with.

Because we just couldn’t figure out anything else. We gave up. We just gave up. That’s how we named our podcast. We gave up. But anyway, uh, do we want to transition into naming your magical bullshit? Naming your speculative elements?

Karlo: Yeah, sure. Why

RS: Yeah, let’s do it. Let’s do it. The question is, do you use the Z word?

Like, as Shaun of the Dead asks, if you have a [00:49:00] conventional thing, like zombies or werewolves or vampires, do you call it zombie or werewolf or vampire? Or do you come up with your own word? And why or why not? Like, I know a lot of zombie stories deliberately avoid the word zombie because it’s a goofy word.

But if you’re like, using your own made up name, like, why are you doing that? What does it add? What does it add to say like, well, in my story, vampires are called blood thieves. Like, well, why? Why are they called blood thieves? Why aren’t they just called vampires?

Karlo: They’re called Peter Thiel.

RS: Yeah, they’re called venture capitalists.

Karlo: There you go.

RS: Yeah.

Karlo: Silent Partners. Actually, Silent Partners is, uh, the name of a cabal of vampires in the Venture Brothers.

RS: Oh, that’s so good!

Karlo: is very good. It is

RS: That rocks.

Karlo: But, what do you call it? Yeah, I, I, I find that it’s, it’s fine, but it can also get a little sort of like, come on guys, [00:50:00] just, just call them zombies.

It’s fine.

RS: Just call them zombies? Like, they’re walking dead, they’re zombies. Just call them a fucking zombie.

Karlo: yeah. I mean, I, I will say that the walking dead has a nice, rhythm to it, as like a title of a work.

RS: it’s a great title.

Karlo: Yeah. The fact that the show, and I’m no big fan of the show, but my my partner is, and she has watched everything, everything. Uh, and which means that I, I, I secondhand watch it sometimes.

And they have like walkers, shamblers, I don’t know, a bunch of other, you know, stuff in there. And you’re like, okay, that’s fine. I guess. Can just, someone just call them zombies. It’s fine. No one’s gonna, you know, roll their eyes at you calling them zombies.

RS: I would call it a zombie if I was dealing with zombies. I’d go for it.

Karlo: I feel like Zombieland was like a weird turning point, right? Like, almost like it got cooties on it, because it’s like, oh, they call it Zombieland [00:51:00] because it’s funny. Yeah. And, I mean, the, the, the movie is a bit of a comedy ish thing.

I don’t know if it all works, but it’s fine. But yeah, I think to your point, it does feel like, the, the, the Z word has cooties on it and no one wants to say it anymore. I do think that part of that is that, uh, it sounds silly, but also part of it is that it’s been overdone.

RS: It is just incredibly funny to hear a character say the word zombie, like, oh no, you got eaten by a zombie, like no matter how serious you’re trying to make the scene, it’s just like, zombies. Like I think in George Romero’s trilogy, he never says zombie, right? They’re called ghouls or something?

Karlo: Oh, really?

I’ve never

RS: No, I don’t think they use the word zombie.

Karlo: I don’t think I’ve seen, what is it, is it, uh, What’s the third one? Is that Day of the Dead?

RS: Day of the Dead.

Karlo: That’s the one I have, I have yet to watch. Um,

RS: I don’t know if they ever use the word zombie in it. They tend to call them ghouls or something like that.

Karlo: Yeah, I mean, and even the, the titles are what,

RS: one. [00:52:00]

Karlo: the titles are all, what, Night of the Living Dead,

Day, uh, Dawn of the Dead, Day of the Dead, so on and so forth. Yeah, I, I mean, I get it, I get it, I mean,

RS: I get it, but I do like the word zombie.

Karlo: yeah, I like it, I like it,

RS: It’s a fun word. It’s campy, but I don’t care. A lot of zombie stuff is campy, and I’m cool with that. It’s fun. It’s fun. So, So, like, do you use the classic word? Do you make up your own thing? And if you’re making up your own thing, you know, are you doing the bunch of nonsense syllables?

Which honestly can be fun if it sounds right. If you can make it work, fucking go for it.

Karlo: yeah, yeah, it is a very funny move, though,


RS: It’s high risk, high reward. Because if you don’t make it work, then you just sound like a complete asshole. But if you can make it work, it’s like, fuck yeah, way to go, you did it. Heh

Karlo: it is very funny, I remember, uh, Teenage Me wanted to do that. Oh, they’re, those people in my fantasy world, they’re not, they’re called Yish Nay Elfi. But everyone calls them elves. [00:53:00] It’s like, oh, okay.

RS: goddammit.

Karlo: It is very funny to pull that, right? Like, that would be a very funny move to pull. It’s like, oh. In my culture, they’re called, you know, 15 syllables, but also everyone just calls ’em that, that’s too long. Everyone just calls ’em zombies.

RS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Heh heh heh. So we’ve, we’ve got a bunch of, like, kind of common strategies that people use to name their, their speculative element. There’s the bunch of nonsense syllables. There’s the, the innocuous name for the very bad thing, which is popular in dystopian fiction, like the carousel in Logan’s Run.

Like, oh, they’re doing a carousel. What’s a carousel? Oh, it’s not good. So Logan’s Run is, it’s a story about a dystopian future in which when you turn 30 years old, you die. And the carousel is like this death ritual that they have for people when they hit 30.

Karlo: Sounds great.

RS: Yeah, it’s like you go in this big spinny room, and you float up, and then you explode.

Karlo: you go.

RS: [00:54:00] There you go.

Karlo: It, it’s, it’s, it’s all, it’s, I mean, it’s very pleasurable. It’s very fun. Until

RS: They seem like they’re having a great time. Right

Karlo: up until the

RS: they explode, everyone’s like, Woo! Yeah!

Karlo: you reminded me of The Lottery.

RS: Yeah, the lottery! Cause it is a lottery. It is a lot. That is the, that is the very, the very YA dystopian thing too is to like pick an innocuous name, but it’s capitalized. And it’s like, Oh, Oh, it’s like, Oh, she’s going to the Tournament with a capital T. And we like, we, we know this is a bad tournament. We know it’s real bad.

Karlo: it’s, it’s also like the, the old timey, like silver age sci fi. It’s like, Eugene woke up early for The Procedure. And you’re like, oh shit, he’s, he’s, he’s gonna get fucked up. Yeah.

RS: Yeah. It’s a little, I don’t know about it. Like sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. I feel like we had. Post Hunger Games, like, way [00:55:00] too many YA novels that did that altogether, so I think, like, we need to take a break from that for a little while. Maybe come back to it later, but I think, like, right now it’s a little bit played out, and we need to give it a little, a little time to, to breathe before we can go back to that.

Karlo: Yeah. And again, it’s, it’s a perfectly fine thing, but you know, like it’s just also, you, you sort of want to stand out.

RS: Yeah.

Karlo: You want your work to stand out a little bit. So, you know, maybe don’t telegraph that, you know, by capitalizing procedure, that it might be a bad thing.

RS: Yeah, yeah, we do that. If you’ve created a conlang, like token, Tolkien, you can obviously use stuff from that, but I’m, like, really, if you’re, if you’re, if you have not studied linguistics and you’re trying to create a, a conlang, I don’t, I don’t know how well it’s going to work, because the dude was a linguist at Oxford.

He was brilliant. He studied, historical linguistics. He was a really well educated academic in linguistics, [00:56:00] so he knew how this shit worked. If you don’t, if you haven’t studied linguistics at all, your conlang might come out kinda like very clearly goofy bullshit. So, so be careful. You might, I’m asking you to read some books.

Karlo: You, you just reminded me that, one of her, a very good essay, I believe it’s by Diana Wynne Jones. She took classes with Tolkien. And the thing that, that is very funny about her essay about, uh, like he, she, she’s talking about narrative and how apart from being a linguist, he was like just a fucking whiz.

He knew narrative inside and out and the funny story that she tells is that she took his class and he Spent like the first two weeks just sort of like talking to the chalkboard Like he you know, obviously writing stuff on the chalkboard and And so essentially it was all a way for him to winnow out the people who were just taking it like as maybe as an elective or some shit.

Because people dropped out after a [00:57:00] while and then it became clear to her because she was like very fascinated by what he had to say that he He just knew how to tell stories. He knew shapes of stories, different ways that they were told throughout time. Again, like you said, his, his linguistics also, you know, deployed rather effectively in his works.

But yeah, like it is very funny to me that he just had like a class. It was like, yeah, the first two weeks are just like, let’s see if, uh, I can annoy enough people that they drop out and the remainder are the people that really, really want to learn.

RS: That’s hardcore.

Karlo: Amazing.

RS: Okay, so, so we’ve got that, we’ve got the nonsense syllables, we’ve got the let’s come up with some kind of euphemism or something instead of using the, the traditional name. And I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using a traditional name. I, I do, I would get annoyed if someone wants to, like, use a less traditional name for [00:58:00] a monster from a different culture.

But then have it be the same thing? ” No, this isn’t a gremlin. This is a chupacabra.” Like, but it’s not acting like a chupacabra. You’re just doing some bullshit right now. I don’t know. It’s not a real chupacabra.



Karlo: eat it. You didn’t, you didn’t. Oh no, they didn’t explore it. They didn’t explore the lore enough.

RS: Yeah.

Karlo: I think it’s, it’s a, it’s a fine line, right? If you want to do something new ish with an old monster, can a new, I can an old monster learn new tricks. Uh, let’s see.

But yeah, like, I, I think that you have to, to a certain extent, it’s, it’s again, it’s threading that needle, right? It’s trying to be different, but not. So different that you just go like, like you said, people that are like, Oh, I love zombies, but that’s not a fucking zombie, man. Fuck this. Fuck this bullshit.

RS: “My vampire’s gonna go out during the day and they don’t drink blood.” Fuck you. Fuck you. That’s all I have to say.

Karlo: I [00:59:00] mean, unless you do something fun with it, right? Like, uh, what is it? The, the, the energy vampire.

RS: Yeah, that one’s okay. I like that one. That was good.


fucking love the energy vampire. He’s just your worst co worker.

Karlo: Yeah, I think that That’s that’s it. That’s a perfect example of going different. And, and that one even sort of breaks the rules, right?

Vampires drink blood. Well, what if they, what if we just say blood is energy in your body?

RS: Right.

Karlo: So I think that, again, I think that that’s the one character that everyone just absolutely thinks is great is that one because he’s just, he sucks so

RS: He’s just the goddamn worst. He’s great. All these, like, very olden times gothic characters, and in the midst of it, just your worst fucking co worker.

Karlo: Yeah, he’s just like he looks like he looks like the worst incarnation of the CPA or something, you know,

RS: Cause you know that guy. You, you work with that fucking guy. If you work in an office, there’s at least one of those fucking guys in that.

Karlo: And you avoid them like the plague whenever they’re near the water cooler

RS: Yeah,

Karlo: [01:00:00] You suddenly you’re suddenly never mind. I’m not thirsty anymore. Bye

RS: I’m not– I don’t need water. I’m fine. I I don’t need water anymore.

Karlo: Yeah, I see Wayne over by the water cooler fuck that guy I’m not thirsty You

RS: Yeah So that that is yeah, you can make it work if you decide well my vampires don’t drink blood like, you know Maybe you can make it work, but you gotta be really really fucking good. This is you know, high risk high reward So here here is a very common trick for plucking for for naming Your magical bullshit and I actually tend to go with this one I I love it.

I’m sure other people will be like, “Oh, that’s what you’re going with.” But plucking from a foreign language. Hell yeah. Hell yeah, I love it. It’s very effective. It’s very cheap, but just please don’t pull a J. K. Rowling and, and, you know, do it without looking up the grammar. Like apparently she named the Japanese magic school, Magic Place, but she like used the wrong part of speech for the word magic and it’s [01:01:00] just like grammatically nonsense or something in Japanese.

For your money, you could have hired a person who speaks Japanese to help you with this. You just didn’t give a fuck. No one gave a fuck because you can just print money. Okay, fuck you, but it’s cheap It’s easy, but I love it because it works. The fucking the use of Spanish in Resident Evil 4 it works. You take it you take a boring ass word Del Lago. It works cuz it’s Spanish.

It’s cool.

Karlo: uh, you do not know the thrill of recognition I had when, the first villager just yells out “forastero!”, I was I recognize this language. It is very funny though. There is just. Straight up, like, Spanish Spanish, you know, from Spain, with the lisps and everything. It’s, it’s great.

RS: Oh Yeah Yeah, I love it. I love it. Maybe, maybe, you know, my Spanish is trash. You actually speak Spanish properly, so like, maybe it’s different for you. But it fuckin worked for me, man.[01:02:00]

Karlo: well, I mean, just to give you an example, and this, this might be a little, just, this is sort of historical insensitivity, uh, the word gibberish, right, which, uh, is, is derived, one of the possible, etymological derivations is from the, the language of, a name of a famous 8th century Muslim alchemist, Jibir Ibn Hayyan, I’m gonna slaughter that name.

So basically, in, uh, Latinate versions, it is spelled G E B E R sometimes. And that, one of the, the theories is that it became, Jibir to Jibirish. And I’m going to guess that jabbering as well probably has a similar, root. Which is to say that, this is something that, I think people perhaps underestimate just how much ancient cultures thought that language itself was magical.

RS: like, the origin [01:03:00] of the word barbarian, it just means non Greek speaker. That’s all it means. If you don’t speak Greek, like “bar, bar” was their, was their version of “blah blah.” So like, if you weren’t a Greek speaker, everything they said was just like “bar, bar, bar, bar, bar” to you.

So they, if you were not a Greek speaker, you were a barbarian,

Karlo: I’m imagining like, uh, right before being overrun, there’s this, just like this one random Greek guy going, like doing the, like the, the hand flapping, whatever these guys.

Fucking blah, blah, blah, blah. Killing me with blah, blah, blah.

RS: yada yada. We’re being conquered.

Karlo: Glamour, uh, is one of the, uh, roots of it is believed to be grammar, right?

RS: Huh.

Think about how, like, the Faustian bargain is very much, like, based on contractual law.

RS: Yeah, and in so much fiction, you make magic happen by saying the right words. You need to say these certain words [01:04:00] to make it work.

Karlo: Oh, you, you just reminded me, uh, I forgot all about this, but, this is actually, I don’t know if this is part of the Apocrypha or some, some other mythologies that, that divide, maybe it’s from, from like a Jewish tradition. I forget, but apparently it might still be the Bible. I don’t remember right now, but in Genesis, Adam is basically, God brings like a parade of animals so that Adam can give them their quote, true names.

RS: Right.

Karlo: And supposedly that’s, you know, we’re supposed to believe that Adam was the one that named, I don’t know how God got an octopus or a naked mole rat in front of him, but,

RS: Yeah.

Karlo: but he named them those, those words.

RS: So, so if you are picking the, the foreign language route, if you are picking the foreign language trick, it’s worthwhile to consider how it’s going to sound. I, I think I remember coming across like a, an aspiring writer who wanted to use German [01:05:00] terms for their monsters. Cause like, you know, German’s a scary sounding language.

It sounds cool and intense. But the trouble is that like he wanted this race of monster called, uh, The Dark Children. But in German, Dark Children, The Dark Children is Die Dunkelkindern. Which does not sound spooky or intimidating. It sounds like a delightful pastry.

Or something.

Karlo: the, the, the, the kingdom runs on dunkle.

RS: Yeah, the Dunkelkinden is, seems like one of those layered pastries that are whimsical shape. Like, that’s probably what it is. So that’s, you know, you picked German cause you thought it would sound cool. No, it didn’t. It sounds goofy. Uh, I, I think. I think Suzanne Collins actually used Latin really effectively in Hunger Games.

Yeah, okay, it’s YA, but like, Latin fits the whole Colosseum gladiator motif really, really well. She used a lot of Latinate terms. I remember there’s a bit in the [01:06:00] book where, uh, Katniss encounters an enslaved person who, like, basically the The punishment for, for trying to rebel is they cut out your tongue and enslave you, and such a person is called an avox,

Karlo: Hmm.

RS: which, you know, without voice, it’s, it’s Latin, and like it, there’s a lot of little things throughout the books like that, and I think it works really, really well for the environment of the story, and if you, you know, you’re an English speaker, You know enough Latinate roots to get this sort of half recognition.

Maybe youmaybe you haven’t studied etymology, but you use enough Latin terms to, like, connect with it at a subconscious level.

Karlo: Even the, the, the name of the setting is a reference, right, to, to

RS: Yeah,

Karlo: in circuses.

RS: or something like that. Yeah, yeah, and it is well handled. Like, yeah, okay, it’s YA, but I think it’s a really solid YA series, and Y’know, and I think [01:07:00] it’s well done. I think the way she, some of the names are a little bit over the top, but like Katniss, okay, this is a society where like, everybody’s hungry as shit, yeah, you’re gonna name somebody after an edible plant.

Karlo: Yeah.

RS: sure you will, I’m fucking hungry, I, some, yeah, let’s have some Katniss.

Karlo: Well, that would be, yeah, That is an interesting point. The way that hunger works is that you focus, you end up focusing on, on food. So why wouldn’t you call your kids like food items? They’re the hope for the future. So you, you hope for food.

RS: Right, and it’s an arrowhead plant or something like that,

Karlo: Oh, I did not know that. That’s

RS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So I just, I just googled this. It comes from the edible arrowhead plant, which was known as catniss in the language of the Lenape.

Karlo: Hmm.

RS: like half, she’s half indigenous in the books. So it’s like very fitting, it’s very well chosen, but it’s not like hitting you over the head with it. You know?

Karlo: You know, I never figured Jennifer Lawrence for being, um, Being half indigenous[01:08:00]

RS: she’s not. The casting with the movie is kind of like, I don’t

Karlo: Yeah, it’s very very very Hollywood

Yeah. it’s very Hollywood

RS: Yeah. So Frank Herbert’s use of Arabic in Dune, we gotta talk about that, and respect it for him to calling the big worm, not something that just means like big worm or something, which would be a little, a little too easy, but shai hulud apparently means “something immortal” in Arabic.

So it’s not just like, Oh yeah, that’s the big worm, it’s called Big Worm. It’s like, Shai Hulud, like, okay, within the culture of the Fremen, you know, you’re not gonna call, necessarily call the super worm, like the big worm. You’re gonna give it a really special name. Which like, respect to that, that’s kind of cool.


Karlo: something very funny. Sometimes works will work, will, will play telephone with each other. When Hayao Miyazaki, uh, did Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, the big, the big giant [01:09:00] insects were called umu, right? Which is basically, I think that that’s what the translations were in Dune. What that translates to in, from what I’m gathering here, uh, in, in, um, In Japanese in the kanji for king and insect or bug.

So yeah, it is just basically king insect. And I say telephone because basically Miyazaki was, you know, he totally says that. Yeah, dune was a complete influence on aka. So. But anyway, it is, it is very funny. Speaking of like using, he didn’t be even bother using a different language for his name.

He’s like, yeah, I’m just gonna use Japanese. Everyone’s going to know that this is King insect.

RS: Miyazaki can get away with it, because it’s Miyazaki.

Karlo: I mean, he does everything else. It’s fine.

RS: Yeah, it’s fine.

Karlo: It would be very funny for me just to Use like Spanish words for magical shit

RS: Hell yeah! Do [01:10:00] it.

Karlo: Not not even like old timey Spanish words just regular Spanish words

RS: Yeah.

I do think it is worth, um, if you’re going to do the, the picking in another language, like consider what the language is, what the history is, what the associations are, and how we use foreign language. I mean, in English, we borrow so much vocabulary. We have so many loan words, but what do we use German

loanwords for in English? What do we use Latin words for? What do we use French words for? So on and so forth. So like, a German word might be for some sort of psychological or philosophical term, because we borrow a lot of that from, from German writing and German academia, versus, you know, Latin, if it’s like, or, Scientific, Greek, very often for medical terminology, a lot of that comes from Greek terms, French for sort of cultured shit, like, okay, consider how we’re using it, how we’re using these different languages, and pull from that according to that in a way that kind of works.

Karlo: Yeah, I [01:11:00] hadn’t thought of that. Yeah, you’re right. Like French, imagine like a world where there’s different languages for science. Like science has a different language that’s different than the main language. Cooking has a wholly other language.

RS: Yeah. Yeah, but just in general, if you’re, I don’t know, let’s say you’re portraying, like, a kind of ghost, if you use a Latin term versus a German term for it, it’s gonna hit different.

Karlo: Yeah, yeah.

RS: really, really think about, like, okay, what are you trying to, what are you trying to say here? What feeling are you trying to give us?

What kind of mythology are you trying to give us here? Yeah.

Karlo: Greek is Eidolon versus Geist in German. They feel, they feel very different.

RS: Yeah, Geist feels so, so different. And Geist has different connotations, too. Like, it can be ghost, or it can just be, like, spirit, as in, like, the spirit of friendship.

Karlo: Mmm.

RS: Not literally, like, an actual ghost, you

know, not like,

Woo! [01:12:00] The spirit of friendship!

Karlo: or the, or the spirit of, what is it, the spirit of the now, the Zeitgeist.

RS: Yeah, yeah, exactly.

Karlo: Not to be confused with the French Spirit of the Staircase, which just whispers things you should have said.

RS: Right.

Karlo: You know, that’s actually a seed for a pretty funny story right there.

RS: Yeah. Like, different kinds, different language spirits just fucking with you in different ways.

Karlo: Yeah.

Hopefully not.

RS: yeah, so we’ve, we’ve been talking for about an hour and 20 minutes. I think it’s time to, to wind down. Before we go, Karlo, where can our listeners find you and support you?

Karlo: There’s, uh, obviously the podcast that you named at the beginning. This is not the true name of the podcast, however, and, RS does not have, control over us anymore. So, uh, yes. But you can check us out on Patreon, uh, Podside Picnic. Yeah. Personally, I have, uh, my own website, alineofink.

com, uh, [01:13:00] and there is a bunch of my fiction work and other writing that you can find there in the bibliography, uh, and also, you know, just check out like the, I think the latest thing, the, the, the, the latest thing is like more than a little bit more than a year old now is, uh, in Strange Horizons Up in the Hill

She Dreams of her Daughter Deep in the Ground. But if you haven’t checked it out yet, which you know, I’m pretty sure everyone that listens to this, you know, like rather, rather, um, uh, follow follows the podcast has probably already read it, but if you haven’t, and in case you missed it, check it out in Strange Horizons.

RS: well, thank you so much for coming on.

Karlo: Yep. Thanks for having me.

RS: And thank you all for listening. Until next time, keep writing good.