It’s the man that makes the name, not the other way round. Call your kid Rock Fistgranite and he’ll grow up beaten, balletic, and resenting you for both. If you really want to toughen someone up, call him Susan Judas Tougherthanyou. He won’t even be able to get through a job interview without fending off a horde of attackers.
Remove the books and movies and “James Bond” sounds like the dependable white-collar worker in an office romance novel, a normal name with suggestions of long term relationships. He redefined “bond” from “binding things together” to “exploding them while impaling them on sharks.”
Jackie Chan doesn’t even bother with pretend names when he’s acting, and no-one has ever referred to Bruce Lee as Tang Lung, Chen Zhen, or any of the other Asian John Smiths he was laden with while punching everyone else in the cast through every piece of the set.
But some men have been gifted with names every bit as kickass as they are. And they did it for real. Because we wouldn’t believe them if they were movies.
Max Venturi is paid to defeat Lamborghinis by driving them too awesomely, and he’s not imaginary. Despite that being my exact childhood fantasy. He really is Lamborghini’s chief test driver, and he really is called Max Venturi. So you know that when he started driving dangerous machines entirely too fast for a living his parents weren’t scared, they fist-pumped and shouted “Yes! It worked!”
His name is physically perfect. The Venturi Effect is the reduction in pressure caused when fluid flows through a narrow section of pipe and is forced to speed up. So he’s named after going faster with no pressure: you’d swear his name was trying to be a pair of sunglasses on his face as he speeds into and then over the horizon.
Even more perfectly, the Venturi effect is how carburetors work, sucking gasoline into the accelerated and depressurized airstream, creating the fuel/air mixture that turns into explosions and velocity. The last person to be named so perfectly for Lamborghinis founded the company. Who else can say if he destroys a one-of-a-kind Lambo at work, he’s done his job correctly?
A Powers Boothe sounds like something you’d use to give fictional characters powers beyond the range of normal men, and that’s exactly what Powers Boothe does. As a professional actor he plays all kinds of character, but as Bearer of Bemoustachioedness his specialty is infusing them with a complete lack of ability to take $#!+.
That’s the kind of moustache that has its own pickup truck. And the back is full of defeated belt sanders, rendered down to the smoothness they tried to inflict on their hirsute master. When they need someone to kill their way through the old west, it’s Powers Boothe they call, possibly because all the TV shows are disguised training before sending him back through time to tame the Old West personally.
He also voiced Gorilla Grodd in DC cartoons–a role which, despite being a hyperintelligent super-strong entirely fur-covered mega-ape, actually leaves his character with less intimidating body hair than the actor.
His facial hair is an acting switch for the rest of the world. If he turns up clean shaven, it’s because he’s there to lend some – but not all – of his strength to some silly little supporting role like “Vice President of the United States of America.” But if he’s bemustachioed, many people are going to end up dead. And many more will wish they’d escaped so mercifully.
Stirling Mortlock has scored over a thousand points in Super Rugby, which makes him sound even more like an imaginary friend a kid would invent to beat up Darth Maul. Super Rugby is just southern hemisphere rugby, but in this context those are synonymous. If Roald Amundsen had just dug underneath the pole, he’d have found a golden rugby ball with “One oval to rule them all” engraved in mystic runes and also bite marks. Rugby is to American football what baseball bats are to Nerf bats: the real idea, without all the padding or whining children screaming for timeouts because they’ve been hurt.
Rugby doesn’t favor fridge-sized freaks who need advanced medical attention to stand up for longer than ninety minutes. Rugby beats the human body into shape, so that it’s the same size as a regular human but the approximate density and lethality of Terminator metal. Thousands of collisions and endless sprinting apply the principles of natural selection to individual muscle fibers.
He doesn’t look gigantic, he just looks exasperated at how much he’s going to have to kick your ass. The fact he will is not in doubt, just as he doesn’t doubt that gravity will keep you on the ground once he puts you there. Those are simply fundamental facts of this universe. Oh, and in the above picture he’s not looking at you, he’s looking at Thor, and wondering how’s he’s going to mount the confiscated hammer.
All this with a name so ridiculously tough it makes “Stacker Pentecost” sound like John Smith after inhaling helium. That’s the sort of name you get when Conan the Barbarian invades your christening, and is impressed by how your infant self is the only survivor. The Stirling Mortlock sounds like a submission hold you’d use on the Grim Reaper. And Stirling Mortlock looks like a man who could do it.
Luke McKinney writes about games, drink, science, and everything else that makes life amazing. He’s a columnist on Cracked and writes for several beer magazines. He’s also available for hire. Follow him onTumblr and Twitter @lukemckinney.
Luke used science to determine who’d win in a battle between the ultimate men in Who’s The Man? Superman vs. He-Man!