This entry was posted by on Friday, 27 January, 2012 at

I had a thought once that it would be amusing for The Purple Robe to have a self-titled EP with an actual song titled The Purple Robe; another song called Self-Titled EP; a third song called Title Track; and maybe one called Eponymous or something. Hilarious. That is not what this post is about.

I used to subscribe to a certain guitar magazine that always had “clever” article titles that I actually found quite annoying. To make up an example, there might be an article called, “Another Brick in the Wall”, and you get you get all in a Pink Floyd mood, when it turns out to be an interview with some guitarist named Johnny Wall, about whom you could not possibly care. Or whatever. It drove me crazy. Yet years later, I find myself with a blog where I am constantly catching myself wanting to title my posts with the same sort of puns and references. So now it drives me crazy that I want to do that.

In any case, lately I have been thinking about titles. A lot of that is due to the fact that I have actually been changing titles after posting recently. Last month I posted one of my [not even a little] famous movie reviews, except that I inadvertently titled it as a “Music Review…” As it happens, the prior post along with the following two were actually about music, and “music” and “movie” are kind of similar words, so it was perhaps an understandable mistake. It was up for a week or two before I noticed and corrected the error, so I suppose my most diligent readers had already noticed. If not, I left the permalink unaltered as a reminder of my foolishness.

I usually have a title in mind for a post when I come up with the topic, before I even start writing. However, a couple of weeks ago, I wrote the whole post, and then sat for some time trying to think what to call it. It was another post about dreams, and the first thing I happened to think of was “Bird Singing in the Sycamore Tree”, which (assuming that you are exactly as cultured as I am) you should recognize as a reference to dreams. Yet it just was not quite my style. So I decided instead on, “Who Am I to Disagree?”, which is another similar reference, if perhaps more cryptic. I was not totally satisfied with that, but I published it anyway. However, with that finished, I still had sycamore trees on my mind, so I went back to the source for that reference and discovered the “While I’m Alone and Blue as Can Be” line (again assuming that you are exactly as cultured as I am – you did not know about either) which was definitely my style. Unfortunately, I initially misquoted it as “[When] I’m Alone…” and thus, within minutes of initially posting, I changed the title and resulting link TWICE, but I figured that no one would have seen it yet.

Last week I went overboard on the geekiness. In some programming/engineering/logic contexts, “!” means “NOT [whatever comes afterward]”. For example, if X is TRUE then !X would be FALSE. So for that particular title, You have to ask yourself, “What is Sparta?” Then more specifically, “What is NOT Sparta?” That was a lot of work, no? [What do you think of THAT, Guitar World?]

As you may have noticed, I am quite fond of titles that start “In Which the Author…”, but I try to limit those so as not to lose the novelty. Other times I get stuck on a theme. I had no initial intention of having three “([Whatever] Edition!)” music posts, or three posts related to racism, or how for a while last summer two out of every three post titles inexplicably started with the letter ‘F’. I still do not know what that was about. It got to the point where I would come up with a post and title and have to tell myself, “I don’t care how perfect that title is, it starts with ‘F’ again. Change it.”


On the topic of what to call things, sometimes I come up with story ideas. (I never, you know, write them down, or anything like that, of course.) Yet, in my head, I have to call the characters something, and I find it tricky to come up with names, because invariably I think of someone that I know or have known with that name, and I generally do not want that character to remind me of that person.

Last week, I had plenty of time to think as I was digging holes, and I came up with a new story (which is unlikely to go anywhere), and for some reason I settled on the name “Clara” for one of the characters. Then I immediately thought, What‽ No one has been named “Clara” in a hundred years. Which is obviously good for the someone-that-I-know issue, but not so great on the a-name-that-someone-would-actually-have criteria. However, this is the internet, and I discovered that after a dramatic fall off, “Clara” has actually been gaining in popularity over the last ten years. Which really left me wondering how exactly did I know that? (Incidentally, it seems that “Aiden” is among the top ten name for boys these days. Why would you name your kid that? That name screams, “Entitled punk who desperately needs to be slapped.”)

Lastly, back to the topic of post titles, how are you guys doing on this one? I even thought of another level since then that made me really wish I had attached it to a more meaningful post, but c’est la vie. Would it help if I mentioned that I had this song in my head when I first came up with it? Probably not.

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