A Columnist By Any Other Name ...

AROUND THE RIM COUNTRY

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At the risk of inviting a whole lot of input, both good-natured and dead-serious, I have come to the conclusion that I need a nickname.

If nothing else, a nickname confers a certain amount of respect especially one that's hand-picked to do just that. Consider some nicknames that have served their owners well.

Who, for example, would pay any attention to Tiger Woods if his name was Carl or Bruce? John Wayne without "The Duke" would be just another pretend cowboy (instead of the ultimate pretend cowboy). And how much more fearsome does Diamondbacks fireballer Randy Johnson become when he's referred to as "The Big Unit"?

The person with whom I share an office at the Roundup, fellow Rim Review scribe Mike Burkett, has hand-picked himself a nickname. He likes to call himself "Big Mike" or, when he's feeling really puffed up (which is most of the time), simply "The Big Guy" (as if there is no other). The nice thing about Mike's nickname is that it's generic enough to mean one thing to him and something entirely different to those of us who know him.

While he believes that being known as "The Big Guy" is a positive thing, we like to think more in terms of the size of his ego or the interminable length of his articles.

Mike has gone so far as to launch a sophisticated marketing campaign to get the entire free world to refer to him as "The Big Guy." Basically it consists of having his wife ask to speak to "The Big Guy" when she calls him at the Roundup. When that happens, "The Big Guy" is paged over the intercom and Mike struts proudly to the phone. After a dramatic pause, he says in a voice artificially lowered two octaves, "This is 'The Big Guy.'"

So you see why I'm starting to feel inferior because I don't have a nickname.

The easy thing to do would be to simply one-up Big Mike by calling myself Giant Jim or Gargantuan Jim or Jumbo Jimbo, but I'm much more creative than that. And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, there we go feeding that ego again.

I have a friend who, when he e-mails me, calls me Roundup Jim, and I think that has some possibilities. It's not Big Mike, but it does kind of make me synonymous with the news and gives me a sort of urgency and relevance.

Or maybe I should be a little more specific and tie my nickname to my beats at the Roundup the areas and subjects I'm assigned to cover on a regular basis. How about Jurassic Jim for the guy who covers history and archeology? Or Genius Jim for the guy who covers education.

Then again I could go the Tiger Woods animal route, but the animal that sounds best with Jim is jackal and that's not exactly the image I'm after either.

But then again, as a guy who dabbles in poetry, maybe it's a rhyming nickname I'm looking for. Rim Jim is cool, but a reasonable facsimile is already taken. Which just leaves names Dim Jim, Grim Jim and Slim Jim.

Hey, how about Whim Jim? But does that say "wildly spontaneous" or a wishy-washy guy who goes whichever way the wind blows.

Of course Gentleman Jim has been used before, and I'm not sure Genial Jim quite conveys the swarthy, rough-and-tumble, devil-may-care reporter image that we here at the Roundup like to delude ourselves into thinking we possess.

Burkett once suggested Gibberish Jim, muttering something half to himself about my story on the Rim country's champion bubble gum blower. (Yes, the very same Burkett who regaled us recently with his story on the impending attack of killer mosquitoes. Both of them.)

Jackhammer Jim comes close to the way I like to view myself a tough-as-nails journalist who busts through rock-solid deception and deceit to get at the truth. But with "Jack" we're introducing a new name entirely.

And maybe that's the answer. Simply change my name to something that says rough-and-tumble better than Jim and no nickname is necessary.

From now on, just call me Buck or Bart or Hank or Mark ... anything but Jim.

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