NICOLAS CAGE became a father for the second time this week, and he named his new son Kal-el. Yes, as in Superman's name when he was born on Krypton.
Celebrities didn't always choose goofy names for their children. Robert Alda named his son Alan, John Raitt called his daughter Bonnie and Robert Downey took the easy path and named his son Robert, though to be fair he did add a "Junior" to the end. But that's not the case anymore. After Frank Zappa decided to name his kids Dweezil and Moon Unit, the floodgates opened. Sylvester Stallone named his son Sage Moonblood. Not to be outdone in the pseudo-Indian naming contest, John Mellencamp (who should've known better because he once used the embarrassing stage name "John Cougar") came up with Speck Wildhorse. Gee, what ever happened to plain old Tonto?
Gwyneth Paltrow gave birth to Apple, Christie Brinkley chose Sailor and Demi and Bruce take turns parenting Rumer Glenn, Scout LaRue and Tallulah Belle.
It's possible that stars do this more than us mere mortals because they want to make sure their children stand apart from mom or dad's celebrity shadow, but is that any excuse to name your daughter Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily, as the late singer Michael Hutchence did, or Fifi Trixabelle, like Bob Geldof? At least those girls can sleep well knowing they weren't named Tu, like actor Rob Morrow's daughter. You know, as in Tu Morrow.
Actually, strange names are nothing new. Recently, officials at the Cornwall Record Office in England searched through birth, death and marriage records dating as far back as the 16th century and found Abraham Thunderwolff, Freke Dorothy Fluck Lane, Philadelphia Bunnyface and Offspring Gurney.
Suddenly the name Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily Hutchence doesn't sound so bad.
But parents need to realize that the name they give a child has a big effect on his or her life. Think about it. Presidents are named Bill, George, Jimmy and Dick. I hate to be the one to break the news, but the odds of seeing a President Fifi Trixabelle or a Prime Minister Apple in our lifetime are about as good as George Clooney playing Laura in a film version of "The Glass Menagerie." True, there's a Fortney and an Alcee and an Edolphus running around Congress, but no one takes Congress seriously.
But don't take my word for it. After hearing about Cage's temporary insanity -- well, it's temporary for him, anyway -- 19-year-old actor Shia LaBeouf came out and begged celebrities to stop giving their children weird names. You know, like his. He says he was teased and got into fights while growing up because of his strange name, which he says means, roughly, "thank God for beef." Will celebrities listen to LaBeouf and start naming their children Henry and Sarah instead of Pilot Inspektor, as actor Jason Lee did, or Audio Science, as Shannyn Sossamon brilliantly decided to do? Probably not.
With the announcement that Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes are expecting a child, I think it's time to set up a baby naming pool for them. If it's a boy they could go for Thomas Cruise Mapother V. (Yes, Tom is actually the IVth.) If it's a girl, they could name her Kathleen after Katie's mother. Why stop the family Kath-streak now? But they're a Hollywood couple, so chances are the child will be named Finnbar Kal-el Apple Tiger Lily L. Ron Hubbard Cruise. You can call it doomed, for short.
BARRY GOTTLIEB is a humor writer based in San Francisco.