Okay, probably not, but it was pretty disappointing to be “Michael Dunn (XII)” on IMDb. Moreso that the “famous” Michael Dunn was a dwarf actor. There’s just nothing about the last name “Dunn” that really says anything. It doesn’t have that cool ring to it like, say, Kubrick, Hitchcock, Lynch… y’know? Plus, it’s not the kind of name you could really put “-ian” after to say that something was in my style, like, again, “Kubrickian or Hitchcockian or Lynchian.” Doesn’t really lend itself to “-esque” either. Fincher-esque. Spielberg-esque. It’s never really been the kind of name that, said alone, conjurs up much of anything. Dunn. Dunnian. Dunn-esque. Naw. You say Kubrick, people know you mean Stanley Kubrick, director of The Shining and A Clockwork Orange. Say “Kubrickian” and people know you mean it has the qualities of a Kubrick film.
Last names are important. And I’ve never been a fan of mine. Dunn? Not yet. Dunn? Almost. Bah. When my wife and I got married, we toyed (briefly) with the idea of taking a new last name for both of us. She changed her last name, why can’t I? But ultimately we decided against it. Then when we were thinking up names for the kids, that monosyllabic moniker presented quite the challenge. No names that start with “D.” Of course, my dad’s name is David, and oddly enough Bruce Willis’ character in Unbreakable is also named David Dunn (according to M. Night because the alliteration gave it a comic book quality). But we weren’t going for a character name. Also, a one-syllable first name made it too abrupt: Bob Dunn, Ted Dunn, Greg Dunn. No. That’s why I’ve always hated being called Mike. Mike Dunn. Not for me. At least Michael softens that thudding impact of a last name. Plus it’s so final. Dunn.
So I started thinking, if I were to change my last name, at least for the purpose of more easily finding myself on Google (yes, I Googlebate), what would it be? I wouldn’t change my first name. Aside from every third guy in America having the name Michael, that’s what I was born with, that’s what I answer to, and it’s not really a bad name. I hate Mike. Mike is the guy that fixes your car. Mike delivers your package. Mike hangs out at the strip club with his buddies after work. Mike is the perfect name for an embroidered patch on a work shirt. I’m not a Mike. It’s actually a joke how much I hate it. People call me that just to get a rise. I’m a Michael.
So I have a starting point. Now I just need to wrap it up. But with what? Something dark? Something moody? Something that when you hear it, you think “scary movie.” Hmmm, Michael Knight. Wait, that was David Hasslehoff’s name on Knight Rider. Michael Black. Well, there’s a Michael Ian Black. Too similar. Michael Melancholy. Oh, that’s just so bad. Like a goth porn actor.
That was going nowhere, so I started thinking about the names of our kids. Knowing “Dunn” was a far cry from a spectacular name, we saddled both our sons with two middle names, giving them the option of shfting things around if they so desired. Cartwright James Edward Dunn. He could go by Carter James. C.J. Edward. Ed James. Whatever. Spencer James Hogarth Dunn. Again, mix them around and create entirely new images of a person: Spencer James. James Hogarth. S.J. Hogarth. Hogarth James. Garth Spencer. I myself don’t have that luxury. My middle name is Edward. Ed Dunn? Michael Edward – no way, that’s what my mom called me when I was in trouble. So, what if I pinched their names for my own? Michael James? Michael Spencer? Michael Cartwright? Michael Hogarth? Nope. Not working. J. Michael Hogarth? Hogarthian? Sounds like something out of Harry Potter or Lovecraft. Ahhh, there’s another name that just sings. Lovecraft. Too bad it’s taken.
I could take a cue from some of my favorite things. Michael DeLarge? Michael Sunderland? Michael Tennent? Michael Lowe? Michael Williams? Maybe not just borrowing names, what about words? A Clockwork Orange is ripe (haha) with made up words that sound just so freakin’ awesome. Michael Droog? Michael Moloko? Michael Britva? Michael Chelloveck? Hmm, that’s nice, if unnecessarily Russian. Chelloveckian. Michael Oddy Knocky? Viddy? Nochy? Synthemesc?
So, you see the dilemma. Then again, if I saw “A Michael Somesuch Film” it wouldn’t feel like it was my name up there. Not really sure what to do. Maybe, given time, when people hear “Dunn” they’ll think “Oh, Michael Dunn, the director” and not just “finished.” In the meantime, I’m well, done.