What’s in a blog name? Plenty

"Lady Writing a Letter with her Maid" by Johannes Vermeer (c. 1670-1671), National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

By Laura Grimes

The Pantsless Brother has been lobbying for a name change. I’m not sure why. It fits so well (in a pantsless way).

I’m a little reluctant to cave in so easily to the whim of one whiny* reader. I still hold tight to my journalistic ethics. I insist on maintaining a little distance so I can keep my objectivity and my questioning edge. Should I cave? I mean, “I see London, I see France …” just wouldn’t have the same ring if I couldn’t poke fun at his boxers.

But … think Beatles beat now … today is his birthday! So as a little present I’m giving him a name-change story. I can’t put a ribbon on it. I can’t stuff candles in it. It’s not as involved or as painful as, say, a sex-change operation. But just the same, this is a very serious undertaking. This involves a lot of thoughtful consideration and deep soul-searching.

I wasn’t the one who showed up at my house wearing pajama bottoms (come to think of it, I often show up at my house wearing pajama bottoms), who couldn’t get gas out of my pants (my brother would beg to differ), and thus spawning a hysterical story, a spike in blog hits and the birth of a memorable name — The Pantsless Brother. If you missed the whole Creation Story (no, not that really old one), you can read it here.

These blog names are a funny thing, a breed unto themselves. The Woman Simply Known As Mom has been lobbying for a new name for The Large Smelly Boys. I never intended to call them The Large Smelly Boys. It just happened. It was a goofy line way back when that fit the context perfectly — something like driving down the road in a hot car with two large smelly boys bickering in the backseat. See, you get that straight out, right? I had no idea it would spark a debate about big vs. large, stinky vs. smelly, and a bunch of feedback. It just stuck. I can’t tell you how often I get introduced now as, “This is Laura. She has Large Smelly Boys.”

You just don’t mess with a powerful organic process like that. But when The Woman Simply Known As Mom said, “You need to come up with something better,” I started to wonder a little. It gnawed at me. So I started asking around to family and friends. Should I change it? Universally and across the board, the answer has been, “No way!”

What do the boys think of it? Sometimes they complain about it, but other times I get clues that they are sort of proud of it (I’ll protect their privacy and not say what). A good guess is more because of the public attention rather than the actual name. They share the same devilish humor, so they understand it’s in good sport and that my jokes, without exception, always come with a wink.

If you have an opinion about the name for The Large Smelly Boys, let me know.

But back to the little bother with my brother. I am setting out to change his name. Will the new one stick? Will he have to spend the rest of blog eternity known as The Person Formerly Known As The Pantsless Brother? Read it and vote.



Honestly, clouds follow The Pantsless Brother around like Pigpen. First gas in the pants. Then an ash cloud (not once but twice). And now this.

The trip was simple enough. Fly from London to Dublin, find a Vermeer, spend the night and jet back to London.

He calculated getting to the airport two hours early, and killing time by grabbing lunch and water.

His body was coping with a serious time shock and staving off fatigue. It was the day after he had arrived in London after an overlong journey that involved an ash-cloud delay and a lengthy detour. He had had only a few hours of sleep.

We viewed one more painting together at the National Gallery, Jan van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait (1434). You can see it here. Oops. Sorry. You can see it here.

Then we said goodbye. He got to the station in plenty of time and boarded a train for the airport. And sat there. Finally an announcement (in English) came over the intercom: “Aiu bnw zkhrn setlsqmn jwksh es ekh wke e.”

The Pantsless Brother asked a woman what was going on: The train was canceled. Another train had broken down on the tracks. Electrical lines had come down. The line was blocked. They didn’t know when the train would be running again. They didn’t know if there would be buses. It’s the only train route to the airport.

She quickly devised Plan B. “Are you interested in sharing a cab?”

The train was supposed to take 40 minutes. The cabby said driving would take one hour 20 minutes depending on traffic. The cost? 110 pounds. Translation: $150.

Five people and their bags crammed into a tiny London cab. No trunk. No sitting in front.

Did anyone have big bags?

“Oh no. Casting was everything. We carefully selected who we asked. We were snug little partners there. I was going to Dublin, one guy was going to Krakow, another was going to Sweden, one woman to Edinburgh, and one to Belfast. It was like Stagecoach, where we have five strangers pile together. We’re going on a journey. We come from different walks of life, share this experience and never see each other again.”

Instinctively, my meticulous journalistic training kicked in. I wanted to verify the description about Stagecoach. This is what imdb.com says about the 1939 version directed by John Ford:

Tagline: Danger holds the reins as the devil cracks the whip! Desperate men! Frontier women! Rising above their pasts in a West corrupted by violence and gun-fire!

Plot: A simple stagecoach trip is complicated by the fact that Geronimo is on the warpath in the area. The passengers on the coach include a a drunken doctor, two women, a bank manager who has taken off with his client’s money, and the famous Ringo Kid, among others.

Close enough. Which part do you think The PB played? Among others?

The cabby took off. But instead of hitting a main road to go to the airport, he went down back roads, taking a left here and a right there. All of a sudden he pulled into a gas station.

They finally got on a highway, but six people were crammed in that little car, including the driver, plus baggage. Every time the cab climbed a hill, it barely chugged along and all the other cars passed it.

Smoke started billowing up inside the back of the car. Not the front where the cabby was driving. Not out the back end. But inside the little compartment where the passengers were cramped together. They had a hard time getting the driver’s attention because he was sealed behind a partition. When they finally did? He just shrugged and said that happens.

Eventually, after a long, slow journey, they got to the airport. The woman who was going to Edinburgh, the one who organized the cab ride, missed her flight.

Cost of The PB’s round-trip flight: $31.

Cost of his train and cab fare to and from the airport: $60.

At the airport, non-European Union passport holders had to go through security. One line was for both checking baggage and passports. One employee periodically yelled (in English), “Waaa waa waa waa!” The PB couldn’t understand him and didn’t want to lose his place in the long line to figure out what he was saying. As he stood there, the clock ticked closer and closer to his flight. The employee just kept yelling (in English), “Waaa waa waa waa!”

Finally, an airline employee raised her voice and asked if anyone was going to Dublin. The PB was the only one to raise his hand. He was ushered to the waa-waa guy who took one look at his passport, stamped it and waved him through.

The PB rushed as fast as he could to make his flight. Then he got to security. A guard wanted to give his liquids a closer inspection. (I will resist the urge to make a snide comment.) Time ticked down. The PB anxiously waited. The guard handed him back his liquids. He rushed and rushed the long way to the gate … and got there 3 minutes before it was supposed to close. He didn’t get lunch. He didn’t get water.

When he got to Dublin he had to go through passport control. The signs indicated one line for EU passengers and one for non-EU passengers. But there was just one line – for EU passengers. He had encountered the same situation in other airports. The signs indicated two areas, but everyone just went through one line. So he got in the one lengthy line even though he had a U.S. passport.

After a long wait, he finally reached the front of the line. The man informed him, in an ultra-polite voice, “Unfortunately, the United States is not a member of the European Union. You’ll have to go down to that far booth.” Where there was no one in line.

(Have you noted that all this communication confusion happened in English-speaking countries?)

The agent took his passport.

“How long do you plan to stay?”

“Just overnight, two days.”

“What’s your purpose?”

“There’s a painting by Vermeer that I want to see.”

“Oh, a Vermeer?” The agent was suddenly interested. “Is it on loan or do we have it?”

“No, you have it.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that. Welcome.” He smacked the passport with a green stamp. “You have 60 days.”


The new blog name? The one that has been suggested to the selection committee is … drumroll, please … The Vermeer Chaser. I propose The VC for short.**
The painting by Johannes Vermeer at the National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, is Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid (c. 1670-71). I could tell lots more about this painting and The VC’s constant hunt to see all of Vermeer’s works, but it will have to be another time. I’ve been partying non-stop with old, dear friends for four days. I’ve had two hours of sleep. It’s blistering hot. My feet are swollen. My laptop battery is running low. The blog tool is acting funky. And my time is ticking down to post this while it’s still The VC’s birthday.
In the meantime, check out this awesome site that tells all about Vermeer. I wish it had a search function, but it’s first-rate. Find out about Lady Writing a Letter with Her Maid here.


*It gives me great delight to type the word “whiny.” W-H-I-N-Y. It will absolutely kill my brother to be called that. But, what are little sisters for?

**I would prefer that the initials were The WC.


Happy Birthday, The Vermeer Chaser!

Looks like we were dressed for Easter. Remember when we could still fit in the miniature rocking chair?