Irrelevant Troubadour

The Top 9 Worst Shipping Pormanteau Names

Shipping is a strange and woolly phenomenon.  I mean, I can understand why people do it and find it fun–it’s fun to speculate about romance, after all, and it’s much easier and less risky to do it with fictional characters than with real people.  Heck, I’ve even had brief fascinations with ‘ships in my time (not telling you which ones–people I know in real life read this thing and I gotta hide my powerlevel!)  Still, this doesn’t negate the fact that a lot shipping is extremely silly.  That, I imagine, is one of the big reasons behind its appeal.

One aspect I never will understand, however, are the portmanteau names.  You see them in mainstream gossip mags all the time–Brangelina, TomKat, etc. etc.–and they never stop being silly-sounding.  What’s even worse is when fans start to identify themselves via their ship names, leading to large groups of otherwise sane teenage girls referring to themselves as ‘Zuatarans’ or ‘Harmonians’ like they’re aliens from a 1950s B-movie.  With that, I present the top nine worst shipping portmanteaus.  Please note that in this list I’m not bashing the pairing in question (for most of these, I haven’t even seen/read the canon in question), just the name, so don’t worry, I’m not internet persecuting you.

9. Suzalulu (Suzaku/Lelouch, Code Geass)

god damn CLAMP people are skinny

Hot hot figurine yaoi used completely without permission from someone named milk_of_time's Livejournal

This one just sounds silly.  I think I had a mai tai at a tiki bar called ‘Suzalulu’ once.

8. Spuffy (Spike/Buffy, Buffy the Vampire Slayer)

a-blah, a-blah!

I have no idea who made this but it's pretty silly looking.

I absolutely refuse to ever watch Buffy (watch me get hooked on it a few months from now and start writing vampire slashfic or something), but I’ve known enough enough fans of the show to know that shipping is serious business.  The shipping names, though, are not, as evinced by ‘Spuffy’.  And its rival ship, ‘Bangel’, doesn’t get off easily either.

7. Logurt (Wolverine/Nightcrawler, X-Men)

hey, they could've been listening to "car talk"
No idea where this is from.

Don’t you want some delicious Logurt?  It’s the cultured pairing!  Hee.  I slay myself.

6. Gwack (Gwen/Jack, Torchwood)

one classy waterfoul

Google Image Search is my friend.

Gwack gwack gwack!

5. USUK (America/United Kingdom, Axis Powers Hetalia)

checks and balances motherfucker
Have a diagram of the US and UK govermental structures from Wikipedia.

I’m sorry, I really am.  I just can’t help but read it as “u suk”.  And names for slash ships should generally be a bit more eloquent than YouTube comments.

4. KatPee (Katniss/Peeta, The Hunger Games)

he is hiding something

I got this image from someplace called "". I won't be surprised if they've conquered the entire internet within a year.

Eew.  Now I have even less of a reason to ever read these books.

3. Kum (Kurt/Sam, Glee)

i really can't imagine someone wearing this in public, even though zazzle says it's "rated G"

You can actually purchase these shirts from Zazzle, though I have no idea why you'd want to.

Kum.  Kum.  Kum. There’s no way to say it that sounds good.  In fact, Glee in general is really bad with it’s shipping names: it’s also given us “Furt” (Finn/Kurt, sounds like an armpit farting noise) and “Puckleberry” (Puck/Rachel, sounds like something old people have to eat).

2. Rwanda (Ralphie/Wanda, The Magic Schoolbus)

not even gonna make any jokes

Image courtesy of the US State Department

I don’t know which is worse, that there are Magic Schoolbus shippers out there, or that they decided to name their shop after one of the most war-ravaged countries on the planet.  Like, I feel bad making jokes here.  Let’s go on to the next one.

1. Chair (Chuck/Blair, Gossip Girl)

really, it's just a chair

A chair. Just a chair. That's all it is. A chair.

So you ship Chair?  Because I ship End Table!  I hate those people who ship Sofa, though; that pairing is so OOC.

There are plenty of pairings out there that take names from real-life objects and phenomena, but I’m singling this one out because it just seems so silly to go on the internet and say “Chair forever!” or “I hate Chair!” or “I wish more people wrote about Chair!”.  It’s just…Chair.  I don’t know what else to say.


Well, I hope you learned something about the magic of shipping.  I know I certainly didn’t.  But wasn’t it fun not learning anything?

And before you ask, me and my girlfriend’s portmanteau couple name is “Weaselboner”, so in a way making this list was cathartic.


Let’s Get Metaphorical
February 7, 2011, 1:32 am
Filed under: literature, ridiculousness

In which I explain some jokes and in so doing deprive them of their humor.

You know what I find hilarious?  Bad metaphors.  It’s one of the few sub-categories of bad writing that’s consistently amusing and very rarely dull or off-putting.  They way I see it, you have four kinds of bad metaphors:

  • The basic mixed metaphor.  Simple and often effective. From the sports column of the New Jersey Star Ledger: “He was marooned in the jaws of a human minefield, and with every step the noose grew tighter.”
  • The forgotten metaphor, or “metaphorgotten” to quote the perpetually pun-happy TV Tropes.  Writing a metaphor is like riding a bull, see: you have to be careful not to let it get away from you or you’ll end up lying on the sand at a fairground in New Mexico while a bunch of snot-nosed kids laugh at you and then you’ll get puked on by a drunk clown.
  • The absurd metaphor.  It works, but the thing it compares the event it describes to is so outlandish that it draws attention to itself, something that in my mind metaphors shouldn’t do unless they’re begin deliberately silly.  It’s something like this, from the often hilarious LiveJournal community weepingcock: “And then he was fully socketed to her, like a pipe wrench in a crock of warm chili.”  Although thinking back on it, I kind of think “socketed” is much worse than any number of pipe wrenches in chili.
  • The completely literal metaphor.  I had to go to the Lyttle Lytton Contest to find this one: “The boat moved through the sea like wood through water.”  If you don’t get it, read it again.

And before you say it: yeah, I know all of these are similes, but I’ve never really cared for that distinction.  In closing, I hope you enjoyed reading this completely pointless post as much as I enjoyed writing it.  It’s been real.

December 24, 2010, 6:26 pm
Filed under: literature

It’s a writing strategy I’ve noticed many a time. Say you have a character named Billy who’s from Texas. Instead of writing, “Billy swung his axe and chopped the log cleanly in twain”, writers will often write, “The Texan swung his axe and chopped the log cleanly in twain.” I suppose it makes sense if you’re trying to hide the character’s real name, but if you already know his name and are just using this descriptor interchangeably with it, it just seems unnecessary.

It reminds me of what Mark Twain said about bad writers choosing the second cousins of the words they actually needed, only applied to naming. There’s just no reason to do this other than to “fancy up” your prose. When I read something like this, it pretty much instantly brands what I’m reading as the work of an amateur.

The thing is, names are like the word “said”: they get to be pretty much invisible after a while. There’s not need to switch them up to avoid repetition, since they don’t call any attention to themselves. If you do switch them up, you end up calling attention to them, just as if you replaced, “Billy said, ‘Howdy there,'” with, “Billy ejaculated ‘Howdy there.'”

I dunno.  To me, character name redundancy is pretty much a non-issue.  Maybe I’m a minimalist when it comes to prose style.  I’ve talked to people about this, and apparently there are some creative writing classes that teach you to do this, so I’m thinking I may be alone in being bothered by this.  It still just seems like an unnecessary distraction to me though.

The Intuitionist, by Colson Whitehead
November 26, 2010, 10:36 pm
Filed under: literature

Courtesy Wikipedia Link

This is a good book, but it falls into a trap that a lot of works do (the other big example that comes to mind is Children of Men), that being trying to do two things at once.  In this case, half of this book is a wonderful, twisting noir along the lines of The Big Sleep and half of it is a rather obvious and ham-fisted allegory for the timeless Booker T. Washington/W.E.B. DuBois debate on how to achieve racial progress.  Allegory is never my favorite way of driving home a theme–my response to an allegory is always less “Hey! This brought up some interesting points!” and more “Hey!  I solved the puzzle!”–but when it’s married to a good plot, vivid prose, and engaging characters it’s easy to forget it’s there.  Those are all things The Intuitionist has in abundance, so I really can’t complain.