New Kid on The Blog (not Mark Wahlberg)

Cuteness, thy name is Ada. Weblog-depriving timesink, thy name is Ada, too.

So there were two reasons we decided to wait until she was born before deciding on a name for our first child: First, to make sure she was a she. [That took about 2 seconds.] Then, to see what name seemed to fit best. This took a little longer.

Monday morning, and for the better part of the day, the kid looked like someone your zeidy chatted with every week at the shvitz up on 10th Street. Unless we were willing to raise a daughter named Henry, patience was in order.

After about 36 hours of life, it turns out this little red squished creature was possessed of rather unusual beauty and intelligence. So we pulled out our favorites: Ada and Catherine. Catherine's a no-brainer, but Ada required further analysis. [Before the three accepted pronunciations of Ada (AY-da, ADD-a, AHH-da) turn into the Bay-singer/Bass-inger of the 21st century, please note that she prefers AY-da.]

Jean's great-grandmother, Ada Philena Canfield, was our original source for the name. But we evaluated other Ada's in our search for dealbreakers. What's a dealbreaker, you ask? Well, India was on our list, until I happened to Google "India Allen" one evening. [Warning: NOT SAFE FOR WORK.]

Non-dealbreaker Ada's, in the order we encountered them:

  • Ada, the title character in one of Nabokov's best novels. [note: this does preclude naming a future son Van. Why, you ask? Read the book.]

  • Ada Lovelace, considered to be the first computer programmer, and Lord Byron's daughter.
  • Ada, the Pascal-based programming language named in her honor.
  • ?da 'web, the digital art foundry created by friends and former colleagues in early 1995, which is now in the Walker Center's collection.
  • Ada, Nicole Kidman's characterless character in Cold Mountain. We'd heard that Kidman's appearance in Portrait of a Lady preceded a baby boomlet of Isabels. Of course, she was actually good in that movie...
  • The American Dental Association
  • Ada the Time Warner Cable customer service rep who answered my wife's call to reschedule an appointment.
  • Ada Lovelace, as portayed by Tilda Swinton in the 1997 literary sci-fi indie, Conceiving Ada [not that the film's title didn't freak us out a bit, mind you. The film also featured performances by Timothy Leary and John Perry Barlow. If anyone'd actually seen this thing, the kid'd be named Philena.]
  • Ada Blackjack, an Inuit woman who was the sole survivor of some Arctic expedition. A book about her turned up on NPR just a couple of weeks ago. [This stroke of good book touring luck did not, unfortunately, strengthen my case for naming our daughter Blackjack.]

    Final result we used them both. From here on out, please direct all complaints about the paucity of posts to Ms. Ada Catherine Cottam Allen.

  • Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

    Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

    comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
    greg [at] greg [dot ] org

    find me on twitter: @gregorg

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    first published: February 26, 2004.

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