Clearly, somebody didn't think this one through to its logical conclusion.
When I came up with this brilliantly democratic process for choosing a new name for this column, I failed to realize that I was turning that choice over to, well, a democratic process. And we all know how that whole democracy thing has been working for us lately.
I blame Standard-Examiner features editor Vanessa Zimmer. Mostly, I blame her because when I first came up with this Pollyanna-ish idea for choosing a column name --
"Hey, I know! Let's ask the readers for suggestions! That'll be fun!" -- she didn't immediately thwack me on the back of the head and tell me it was the stupidest idea she'd heard since the time I wanted to replace all our newspaper carriers with robots. Oh, she tried to talk me out of it, attempting to point out that, if you hold a contest among your readers, eventually you're going to have to pick a winner.
"Yeah, I know," I said. "That's the beauty of it. The readers come up with the name."
"Yes, but you're not listening to me. For good or bad, you're actually going to have to pick one of those names," she repeated.
"I know. It's brilliant! My readers do all the heavy lifting, and all it costs me is a few cheap promotional items."
"Well, I just think you're making a mistake."
"Yeah, a mistake of colossal awesomeness!"
A weary sigh, and she went back to editing stories.
My enthusiasm lasted right up to the point that the first suggestions started pouring in. "Green Jello Saalad," offered by Daniel Gibby. "Welcome to the Monkey House," from Keith Sparbanie. "So Saaly," from Charles Hammond. "Wasatch Rambler II," from Steve Haney. "What Do You Want for 75 Cents a Copy?" from Wayne W. Summers.
And this gem, from Stuart M., who offered the cryptic: "Glow Worm Rides Again."
Huh? Glow Worm Rides Again? That's when I realized that, for many of you, this little contest had turned into some sort of variation on that whole drunk-dialing phenomenon -- wherein you're sitting there late at night, all liquored up, and suddenly think, "Hey, let's email Saal a couple more crazy column names!"
I would like to personally thank those of you who participated in this little social experiment. We received almost 250 emails, and another dozen tweets, not to mention the phone calls, letters and personal visits.
What's more, since many of you offered multiple suggestions, we probably ended up with close to a thousand names in all.
And yes, there were some good names among all the oddities. Runners-up included "Mark My Words," offered by multiple readers; "That's Ogdentatious," from Robert D. Holbert II; and my own particular favorite from an anonymous donor, "The Sub-Standard Exaggerator."
Which brings us to the moment you've all been waiting for. And the winner is ...
"Standard Deviations," offered by faithful reader Bob Becker. Mr. Becker wins the Sarah Palin cutout, the autographed Calvin Grondahl cartoon book, the Standard-Examiner ice scraper and yardstick, and all the other great stuff I promised in a fit of unprecedented generosity.
I know, I know. Many of you will be, like, "What? 'Standard Deviations'? My dog could've vomited up a better name." Really? Then why didn't he?
Turns out, "Standard Deviations" is subtle, it has multiple meanings and -- best of all -- doesn't include any of that awful, awkward wordplay on my name. Plus which, it offers one final, major selling point:
It's not "Glow Worm Rides Again."
Contact Mark Saal at 801-625-4272, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter @Saalman.