What’s up with that name?

by Marty Alchin on June 1, 2007 about myself

Over the years, I’ve had enough people ask me about my moniker that I thought I’d take the time to try to head off some of the questions.

I’ve been online using one service or another for well over 15 years now, with my first ID being FKJW36F. For those of you who don’t recognize the format, that’s Prodigy Classic. And for those of you who don’t know what Prodigy Classic was, go back to watching the Wiggles. I don’t remember exactly when we first went online, but I know I had that username for the vast majority of my adolescence.

Most everything on Prodigy used that cryptic, anonymous username for communication; but then chat came along. Because your ID is also your email address (I was FKJW36F@prodigy.com), and Prodigy didn’t want everybody who happened to be in a chat room to be able to email you, they required that you pick a nickname to use in chat.

For a while, I used the names of literary characters, usually from Greek mythology, but also from the Star Wars novels I was so very interested in at the time. One day, however, I discovered GemStone III, and entered the world of “interactive fiction”. It was free at the time, so I figured I’d give it a shot, so I fired it up and started to create a character.

Enter your family name: _

I was completely taken aback, as I had never before had to come up with a “real” name. I had always used nicknames based on existing characters, many times only using one word; I had no family name. Not knowing what else to do, I decided to just be somewhat random about it. I decided (arbitrarily) on eight letters, following a consonant-vowel pattern repeated four times.

I shut down my brain and plunked my finger down on my keyboard, deciding on whichever appropriate letter was closest to where my finger landed. The result: Holiture. “Hey, that sounds pretty good,” I said to myself. “It even sounds kinda medieval.”

Enter your given name: _

Amazingly, I decided to use the same technique here, with the obvious result: Gulopine. “Wow, that sounds good too. Gulopine Holiture… I like it!” So I finished creating my character and started playing. The next time I went back into chat, I changed my nickname to Gulopine. Next thing I knew, it’s 10 years (give or take) later, and I still love the name as much as when I first created it.

Before I go much further, I’ll answer the question I get asked more often than any other; it’s pronounced “gʌləpin hɑlɪtjʊɹ”. That’s the IPA for it anyway, which is roughly like “gull-uh-peen holl-i-tyour” with the “i” in Holiture being the one from “sit” and “tyour” being pronounced like “tour” but with a “y” (thus my use of that particular spelling).

Over the years, I’ve also found that I’m the only Gulopine in the book. This has been very useful as I’ve signed up on a great variety of sites, and my name has only been taken once. In that instance, I went to the site’s login page and discovered I had already registered and forgotten about it.

After a while, I decided I needed a middle initial. “R” just popped randomly into my head, without any logic behind it. It seemed to fit well enough, so I went with it. When I thought about what name it would stand for, however, I drew a blank, so I decided to make “R” the entire middle name. That’s why I don’t use a period to indicate an abbreviation; there’s no expansion.

When I started using IRC, I discovered that people there have a higher tendency to abbreviate nicknames than I had encountered elsewhere. I was commonly called “gulo” which I absolutely detested, leading me to decide what an abbreviated form of Gulopine should be. I decided Gul sounded best to me, and I’ve been signing emails with “-Gul” for years.

I’ve also come to realize that I communicate over the Internet far more than I do any other way. This has given me excellent typing skills, but it also means I’ve learned to respond to the name “Gulopine” as naturally as if it were indeed my real name. I expect that when I finally get to Magfest, I’ll just introduce myself as Gulopine and not bother with anything else.