Allusionist 107. Apples

Late 2019 will see the biggest apple launch of our lifetimes. 22 years in the making, ripening on millions of trees into picture-perfect redness, here comes the WA38, more snazzily known as the Cosmic Crisp. The name was the result of a year of focus groups, taste tests and word associations - a far cry from when apples were named after whichever end of a cat they resembled.

Read More

Allusionist 105. F'ood

When is cheese not cheese, or crab not crab? When it’s spelled cheez or krab or even ch’eese or cra’b… Novelty spellings for foods-that-aren’t-made-out-of-the-thing-they-sound-like-they’re-made-out-of go back a pretty long way - ‘cheez’ was THE cheese-like substance of the 1920s - but right now, with plant-based foods on the rise, we’re seeing more of them.

Branding consultant and name developer Nancy Friedman casts her expert glance over the apostrophes and deliberate misspellings on foodstuffs; and vegan restaurant owner Melanie Boudens recounts how, this summer, the words ‘cheddar cheese’ on her menu landed her in trouble.

Read More

Allusionist 98. Alter Ego

Today: three pieces about alter egos, when your name - the words by which the world knows you - is replaced by another for particular purposes.

  • How did John Doe come to be the name for a man, alive or dead, identity unknown or concealed in a legal matter? Strap in for a whirlwind ride into some frankly batshit centuries-old English law.

  • At their first bout of the 2019 season, the London Roller Girls talk about how they chose their roller derby names - or why they chose to get rid of one.

  • The 1930s and 40s were a golden age for detective fiction, which was also very popular and lucrative. Yet writing it was disreputable enough for authors to hide behind pseudonyms.

Read More

Allusionist 88. Name Changers

Why did you change your name? And why did you choose the name you chose?

Listeners answer these two questions. Hear their stories of gender identity, family fallouts, marriages, divorces, doxxing, cults, and…just not liking your given name very much.

Read More

Allusionist 87. Name v. Law

Iceland has quite exacting laws about what its citizens can be named, and only around 4,000 names are on the officially approved list. If you want a name that deviates from that list, you have to send an application to the Icelandic Naming Committee, whose three members will decide whether or not you're allowed it. And if they say you're not...you might have to take things pretty far.

Sigurður Konráðsson, foreman of the Icelandic Naming Committee, explains the committee’s objectives. And comedian, writer and former mayor of Reykjavik Jón Gnarr describes his 25-year fight to change his name.

Read More

Allusionist 86. Name Therapy

“It's the word that you use the most often and the soonest to describe yourself, and yet nobody's really ever talked about how it kind of makes me feel like this.” Until Duana Taha, who, after a lifetime of feelings about her own name, became the Name Therapist.

Read More

Allusionist 83. Yes, As In

"Really? As in the animal/foodstuff/music genre?" 
"Is that a stripper name?" 
"What were your parents thinking?"


Read More