Pope Thrower. You already know.
Illustration: Jim Cooke

Stipulate first that, when it comes to the annual Name of the Year Bracket, there are no winners, no losers, and no wrong answers. Every one of the names in the bracket—the psychedelic syllable pileups, the brazen onomatopoeias, the pokerfaced puns, all of them—is blessed, and a blessing in turn. The names are all good, and there is ample reason to treasure every one of them. And you should absolutely feel free to do that shit on your own time, but we did not do that here. The names are in a bracket, friends, and that means that they must fight to see which of these wonderful and precious names will rule supreme over the rest. And so Drew and Megan and I got together and unpacked the bracket, as we do every year:

None of this is perfect, of course, or anywhere near scientific. For instance, a typo on the early bracket that we saw inserted an extra “e” into the middle name of the young man who is (really) named Princehoward Barbecue Yee. Also more to the point, it’s inherently subjective and there’s the whole no-wrong-answers bit from above and all the names are good. Did we shortchange Truman Peyote because the name seemed too good to be true? We might have. Did we get sidetracked in ways that might have distorted our findings? Absolutely, that happened repeatedly and will doubtless continue to happen. Did we overrate Pope Thrower? Megan thinks so, but she is as profoundly wrong about that as she is about every question having to do with food.

Again, though: this is not about getting things wrong, because there is no way that any bracket with these names in it can be said to be anything but right. Every one of the names is correct on its own terms, and every one of the names is a gift. We are, Drew and Megan and I and everyone else, in their debt.

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