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Saturday, July 2, 2022

Get Kraken: Let the Puns Begin (and other News)

What’s in a name? Plenty. The right name for a kid or a sports team can make a difference in outcomes. And now, after an 18-month-long search, owners have picked a name for the NHL expansion team that’s scheduled to begin playing in a repurposed Seattle Center Coliseum come  December, 2021. 

By now, we’ve all heard the name they settled on: Kraken, a legendary cephalopod-like sea monster taken from Scandinavian folklore. Homage to the region’s Norse roots is not surprising, given 739,000 individuals of Scandinavian descent living in Washington state.

The Kraken name bested 1,200 possible names and ignored a Seattle Times contest that picked  favorites like Steelhead, Sockeyes, Totems and Metropolitans. From the first, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan had preferred Kraken over Sockeyes. As she said, “Whoever heard of a fierce fish.”

Seattle Times sports columnist Larry Stone earlier downplayed Kraken, thinking the very idea was “a great tease,” something to laugh about, far too silly and theatrical. He confessed he luckily hadn’t taken a sip of water before the announcement or he’d have done a spit take.

Nevertheless, even naysayers — and there are a bunch — do seem pleased with the team’s handsome S-shaped logo rendered in bold colors (four shades of blue with a brilliant splash of red).

With the name game over, what remains are other considerations. Fans and observers continue agonizing over what to nickname the $625 million new arena now that Amazon has bought naming rights and designated it Climate Pledge Arena. Some fans have settled on “Cledge,”which sounds like an off-brand window cleaner. Others have adopted the “CPA” initials. Can’t they just call it “The Edge”? 

Once fans tire of the puns generated by the Kraken name — lame stuff like Krakhouse and Krakheads — they’ll get around to more substantive matters like welcoming a team mascot, hopefully a lively persona like the Seahawks’ Blitz or the Mariner Moose with his cute face and lovable eyes. The NHL already has mascots like Al the Octopus fronting the Detroit Red Wings and Youppi, the furry orange critter now associated with the Montreal Canadiens.

If team owners are stumped for a flag-bearer, there is no end to mythic creatures like our own Sasquatch, the sea serpent Ogopogo and Raven, the Indigenous trickster. 

When picking features for a team (name, logo or mascot), what counts is that they resonate with the public, inspire jaded sportwriters, lend themselves to chants and deliver marketable merchandise. As Seattle Times columnist Dwight Perry plaintively inquires: “Where does one go to get a foam-rubber Krakhead in this town?”

Other news:

That’s Supreme: Our hard-working elected officials apparently have hidden talents. Facebook friends recently saw a priceless picture of Washington Supreme Court Justice Steve Gonzalez barbering Justice Mary Yu’s hair. Justice Yu, masked and sitting outdoors, said that she trusted Justice Gonzalez “like a brother.” However she noticed his dog Somba “looked worried.” 

War rooms: Getting the right look for video conferencing takes some engineering. Take Gov. Jay Inslee who is getting lots of tube time. A New York Times article described Inslee’s technique: He first placed a computer tablet atop a copy of “A Thousand Days: John F. Kennedy in the White House,” then achieved the proper angle using Judy Collins’s “Strangers Again” album.

Donnie’s Kids: Last week, the Chinatown International community was remembering the late Donnie Chin, a beloved local hero. July 23 was a bittersweet day, fifth anniversary of Chin’s never-solved murder. For decades, Chin led groups of volunteer responders, mostly neighborhood kids, who patrolled the neighborhood after dark. Chin served as a surrogate father to many CID youngsters; they called themselves “Donnie’s kids.” 

Not so fragile: “White Fragility,” a book dominating best seller lists, is a national phenomenon. Author Robin DiAngelo, a Seattle resident, grew up dirt poor in the Bay Area but earned a doctorate in multicultural education from the University of Washington. She first acquired her newsworthy reputation during a debate in The Stranger when Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan’s cast white actors as Asians in “The Mikado.” DiAngelo, who is white, now gives conscious raising presentations to corporate giants. She cautiously believes we are beginning to see ripple effects when even network TV speaks about “systemic racism.” 

Jean Godden
Jean Godden
Jean Godden wrote columns first for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and later for the Seattle Times. In 2003, she quit to run for Seattle City Council where she served 12 years. She now writes for Westside Seattle and has been a co-host on The Bridge, aired on community radio station KMGP. You can email tips and comments to Jean at jgodden@blarg.net.

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