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Respectfully Submitted, HZS

Someone asked me recently where my pseudonym name came from, and seeing as how it’s such a hilarious story, here it is.

The last name — “Short” — came first. Its impetus was silliness but its final form came from necessity. It was a number of years ago, during the beta for the then-yet-forthcoming game World of Warcraft. I had snagged an invite, along with two of my real world friends, who decided we needed some way to express our confederation. It was decided that our characters would be brothers and share a surname.

The catch came that, as it played out, one of us played each of Human, Dwarf, and Gnome. Rationally, not biologically related. So the story grew: the Human and the Gnome were, in fact, adopted without their knowledge into the mighty Dwarven Schworty family, creating the Schworty Brothers. The Human and Gnome each believed they were a Dwarf, just abnormally tall and short, respectively.

At any rate, when it came time to make our characters, it came to pass that “Schworty” was just too many letters, and ended up getting shortened to “Short.” However, the brothers were still known as “the Shorties.” To this day, that is the name used, even in the real world, to refer to this group, with a few more members.

“Hober” came from a need of a good, original, and fantasy-sounding name. So where did I turn but science fiction? At the time I was reading or had recently completed Asimov’s Foundation, which tells — in part — the story of Hober Mallow, Trader Prince. I took his name as my own, and created a nicely unique nickname.

My only caveat here is that the pronunciation is ambiguous to some, which I did not foresee and might have effected my choice. Some pronounce the name as though it rhymes with “jobber” which is wholly incorrect and never occurred to me. In my mind, it has always been as though the o had umlauts, although it can be rationally parsed in English without them. At any rate, the “approved” way to say the name ends with a “-ber” that is pronounced similar to the expression of being cold usually written “brrrr”.

Interestingly, this was never a problem when German pronunciation rules were applied. See, when I began taking German class in high school, each member of the class has to pick a “German name” by which he might also be known. I’m still not sure what the point of the exercise was, given that the names fell into disuse after a few weeks. But for mine, I naturally picked the Germanic-enough “Hober” because I had learned to respond to it vocally over World of Warcraft voice chat. After, I’m sure, surprising my teacher with a “German name” she’d never seen before, it served handily and was never once mispronounced.

So what remains is “Zeno”, the recently chosen middle name. Realizing the usefulness of being able to abbreviate a pseudonym with its initials, as well as the extra flavor allowed, I began to search for a name to act as the filler — or glue — to this name. After being on the lookout for a while, I found myself once again marvelling at the raw logical beauty of Zeno’s Paradoxes and suddenly realized that I would be his namesake. After all, who is more worthy of honor than Zeno of Elea, the man who can logically state why motion is impossible and nothing is actually moving.

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Categories: Metablog, Real Life

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