There was once a literary fiction tradition in which character names seemed to reflect or sound like who they were deep down. In The School for Scandal, a 19th Century play, author Richard Brinsley Sheridan created Sir Benjamin Backbite, Lady Sneerwell, Mr. Snake. Nathaniel Hawthorne did the same in The Scarlet Letter with a physician named Roger Chillingworth. Not to mention Charles Dickens‘ Ebenezer Scrooge, Oliver Twist, Miss Havisham and Mr. Fezziwig.

Flash forward to the early 1960s and the names that screenwriter Terry Southern gave to some of the Dr. Strangelove characters — Gen. Buck Turgidson, President Merkin Muffley, General Jack D. Ripper, Group Captain Lionel Mandrake. But my all-time favorite Southern invention was Sid Krassman, a coarse, sexist, ethically indifferent Hollywood producer with endless reserves of hustler bullshit. Krassman was pretty much the main character in Southern’s “Blue Movie“, which I read sometime in the early to mid ’70s. (The other principal character was a director named Boris Adrian, who was a stand-in for Stanley Kubrick.) I’ve never forgotten “Sid” in the decades since. Why? Probably because of the simple sound of the name.

The only character-reflecting names we’ve had since the Southern era are Sammy Stud names — names of macho types with an abbreviated manly sound — Josh Randall, Walker, Bronk, Jack Reacher, Lew Harper, Ethan Hunt, Ram Bowen, etc.