Not long ago, I was chatting with a friend about the importance of titles for pieces. In my mind, there is nothing like a good title. It entices the reader, clues them into what the piece is about, tantalizes the  imagination. It’s all good.

But what about the poor writer who just isn’t good with titles? The piece may be fascinating, jam-packed with action, adventure and compelling characters, make an outstanding argument, reveal amazing facts – but the title just doesn’t encourage people to read.

I’m not the best at coming up with titles, but I like to think that I sometimes come up with some good ones. To be honest, sometimes, the title just doesn’t jump out at you. Sometimes you have to dig. In fact, I’ve been known to spend more time coming up with a title than I did in writing the piece. Yep, I’m that anal about it. I’ll dig through quotation books, books of cliches, g**gle lists, dictionaries, thesaruses, whatever I can get my hands on. Sometimes I fall flat, but I really do give it the ol’ college try.

However, there are some folks who don’t seem to share my enthusiasm for finding just the right combination of words to enshrine their work. Following, are a few examples. Whaddaya think?

Country songs:

  1. How Can I Get Over You if You Won’t Get out From Under Me? (My question is, how did he manage to write the song under these conditions?)
  2. I Don’t Know Whether To Kill Myself or Go Bowling.(Sports vs suicide, always a tough choice)
  3. I Spent my Last 2 Dollars on Birth Control and Beer. (Where can you get birth control and beer at those prices? Walmart?)
  4. If the Devil Danced in Empty Pockets, He’d Have a Ball in Mine. (I think I’ll let Evyl comment on this one.)
  5. One Day, When you Swing That Skillet (My face ain’t gonna be there.) (Someone should tell him that plastic surgery is much easier)
  6. You Ain’t Much Fun Since I Quit Drinking. (Isn’t it funny how people change based on our alcohol consumption?)

Movie Titles:

  1. Feeling Minnesota (But what part of Minnesota are you feeling?)
  2. Snakes on a Plane (Is this racial profiling?)
  3. Bounce (A movie about drier sheets?)
  4. Waterworld (Good for an amusement park, not so much a movie)
  5. Crash (Boom?)
  6. Death to Smoochy (I think they should kill the parent who named their child smoochy)
  7. Perfume: The Story of a Murderer (Talk about a lingering scent)

Album Titles:

  1. The Earth, a Small Man, His Dog and a Chicken (WTF?)
  2. The Serpent is Rising (Don’t tell me, tell your wife!)
  3. Fungus Among Us (Bad puns aren’t punny)
  4. Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness (The life of a sad Lassie and a zen poodle?)
  5. Meat is Murder (I’m pretty sure it isn’t)

Book Titles:

  1. Bleak House (There’s a place I want to read about)
  2. Smilla’s Sense of Snow (Why is Smilla sensing snow?)
  3. The Horse Whisperer (Mr. Ed with strep throat?)
  4. Woman Are From Venus, Men Are From Mars (Where’s your official study on this?)
  5. Don’t Pee on my Leg and Tell me it’s Raining (A little too straight from the hips if you ask me)
  6. All My Friends Are Dead (Did you kill them?)

TV Shows:

  1. My Mother the Car (At least she’s not a sheep)
  2. The Biggest Loser (WTF?)
  3. Cop Rock (Throwing rocks, blowing rocks, rocking rocks???)
  4. Manimal (Forerunner to cloning?)
  5. Baa Baa Black Sheep (A real man’s show)
  6. Different Strokes (Again, over to you, Evyl)
  7. Leave it to Beaver (Many do)

 So there you have it, lots of bad titles. Anybody want to add, feel free.


15 thoughts on “Entitled…

  1. I had no idea I was so inspiring. Now I’ll second-guess every title for the rest of my life. Geez.

    Yes ma’am dem titles is impotent. 😆


  2. “Snakes on A Plane” That is one plane I wouldn’t be caught dead on… LOL to “The Serpent is Rising” the old one eye trouser snake

    Me neither, Ger. Yoiks, don’t like them snakes at all. 😉


  3. OMG WC, I had a mouth full of Edys’ double fudge brownie ice cream, NOT anymore! You always make me laugh thank you, my daughter thought I was nuts laughing at the ‘puter while I was reading and trying to clean up the ice cream!
    I can never be clever enough for these titles/lists to come up w/my own but I bet that DT will have a great list too. Keep making us laugh.

    Oh dang! What a waste of good ice cream. I live to make you laugh, Kath – I really do.


  4. i am huge on titles.
    i just bought a book (for a dollar!) called I Love You Like a Tomato. C’mon, you know that’s a good one!
    Dave Sedaris has good titles, one being Me Talk Pretty One Day. Great book, too. i laughed coffee out of my nose on that one.
    i just finished Sarah Jane Gilman’s Hypocrite in a Pouffy White Dress. i’d never heard of her before but that title (which cost me $2.50! Thriftsores, i’m telling you!) hooked me. And now, i am looking for her other stuff.
    Titles matter.

    Oh Christine, I gotta have that ‘love you like a tomato’ I don’t even care what it’s about. I’ll have to check out Sarah Jane – I love good finds on books. I’m always on the lookout in thrift shops, second hand stores and used bookstores. I just don’t think life would be worth living without books, authors and intriguing titles.


  5. Heck, yes, titles are huge. When I get a new collection of short stories or poems, I always read the table of contents first. And while, of course, the title doesn’t always make or break the piece, it certainly shades my initial impressions. I found a book at the Sally Army once for a nickel called I Didn’t Set Out to be a Poet.
    It’s a good thing too, that he didn’t set out for it because he would have failed.
    And I agree Chughes about Sedaris. Though in Me Talk Pretty One Day there’s that part when he recollects he and his sisters huddling around his mother, who loves….loves…Tums. Kinda gut-wretching.

    Hey Puddlehead,
    I do the same thing. As though the titles will tell me something – well, actually sometimes they do. Good thing he didn’t set out cuz he sure couldn’t do it, eh? LOL. I have to check these books out.


  6. Hi WC,
    Titles are important, and I try to come up with good ones. I think, though, that I can be a bit too subtle. I’ve been toying with the concept of only using Gratuitous Nudity #___.
    A most excellent post, by the way. Also, how is that synopsis going?
    the Grit

    Hi Grit,
    You may be onto something with Gratuitous Nudity – could be a real hit.

    Synopsis is done – at least the first round is done. I have some tweaking to do – but it looks like it might be okay.


  7. i forgot to ask if that was you in the picture. If so, you’re cute! If not, you’re so much cuter than that! ;>

    Nope, it’s not me – but how diplomatic are you? 😆


  8. Hmm. Titles. I hate coming up with them. I’m not very good at it, and like you, I can spend just as much time with the title as I did with the piece. That is the reason why many of my entry titles are lyrics. They come easier than a “regular” title sometimes. But, sometimes, one has to know the song or the band to really understand why I used the lyric I did. For example, one of my titles is “Porno makes you eat like that”. Now, to BlowJoe, what could that entry be about? Ehh, several things. In all actuality, it’s about me killing my cat, because that line is from the song, Smelly Cat. Yes, the one from the show Friends. Ehh, anyhow. I’ve babbled enough. Ha! I do agree though, a title can sway me to whether or not I read or watch or listen to something. I like something off the wall, something that really grabs my attention.

    Oh…now I get that title to that post. I had no idea you were referring to smelly cat.

    And yep, me too – love those quirky offbeat titles.


  9. With a name like Different Strokes it is no wonder that all those kids ended up being total jackoffs. And I have nothing on the devil having a ball in my pocket. It’s just too damned easy. I am working on a long opus regarding traumatic masturbation syndrome tentively titled, ‘Because You Can’t Beat Your Fish.’ How can I miss with a title like that?

    Hey Evyl,
    I knew you wouldn’t let me down. 😆

    That opus sounds like a winner.


  10. I have a strange relationship with my mother. She’s very distant and we’ve never been that close. She was also a little puritanical.
    I asked her to tell me about the facts of life. She saidm “OK Laurie, it was a sitcom on NBC and featured a black chick named Tootie”.
    I never dared to ask her to explain “Dick Tracy”.

    Oh LK,
    You cwack me up. 😆


  11. Movies:
    “Herbie: Fully Loaded” (Before Herbie joined AA)
    “Ssssssss” (That would have been an interesting one to order tickets to)
    “Leonard, Part 6″ (Only weird when you realized parts one through five don’t exist)
    “Killer Klowns from Outer Space”
    “Santa Claus Conquers the Martians” (I knew they’d run out of good holiday movie plots)
    “The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living And Became Mixed-Up Zombies” (Well, that sounds like Academy Award winning writing there )
    “Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter (Aw… a match made in hell)
    Country Songs:
    “How Can You Believe Me When I Say I Love You When You Know I’ve Been a Liar All My Life” (How did they fit this title on the CD?)
    “I’ve Got the Hungries For Your Love And I’m Waiting In Your Welfare Line” (Too bad I hate country music, I think I could write it)
    “If My Nose Were Full of Nickels, I’d Blow it All on You” (That’s something I haven’t seen come out of someone’s nose)
    “If You Don’t Leave Me Alone, I’ll Go and Find Someone Else Who Will” (Some people were truly meant to be single)
    “If You Leave Me, Can I Come Too?” (Maybe it’s written from the perspective of a dog?)
    “Mama Get the Hammer (There’s A Fly on Papa’s Head)” (Maxwell Silver Hammer as a child)
    “My Head Hurts, My Feet Stink, and I Don’t Love Jesus” (I’m sorry?)
    “My John Deere Was Breaking Your Field, While Your Dear John Was Breaking My Heart” (There’s nothing like the reference to a tracker to really pull at your heart strings)
    “Oh, I’ve Got Hair Oil on My Ears And My Glasses Are Slipping Down, But Baby I Can See Through You” (Short, sweet and to the point)
    “Pardon Me, I’ve Got Someone to Kill” (Well, by all means…)
    “They May Put Me in Prison, But They Can’t Stop my Face from Breakin’ Out” (A teenage country song)
    “You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd” (I’m glad you finally figured that out)
    “Chocolate Starfish and the Hot Dog Flavored Water” (That’d make a horrible ice cream flavor)

    Hey Kelsey,
    Those country songs are a target rich environment, eh? I especially liked: Pardon Me, I’ve Got Someone to Kill”
    “They May Put Me in Prison, But They Can’t Stop my Face from Breakin’ Out”



  12. My favorite title for a Pop Song:
    “I feel so miserable without you, it’s almost like having you here.”
    <em>What do you get when you play a country song backwards?</em>
    <strong>You get your car back, your dog back, your house back . . .</strong>

    I had no idea that was a pop song, I thought it was a country song.
    Wow, you can play country songs backwards, that’s really cool.
    Years ago, I heard this country song on the radio and it was terrible – about a fellow who just got out of jail and had only a cheap suit and $20 in his pocket. His wife had left him, his children had disowned him, his dog had died. On the way to picking him up at the prison, his Ma got run over by a train. LOL. I was rolling on the floor. I never heard it again, but I never forgot it. I’d love to know what the name of that song was.


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