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Test Pattern: Five-link Friday

Goodbye Arthur Miller; online Boggle; ugliest car contest; celeb paper dolls; snowflkaes; classic Peanuts. By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper

Five-link Friday

Before today's five links, I just wanted to say how sad I was to read of . The playwright was so quotable that I remember highlighting what seemed like 90% of my high-school paperback copy of "Death of a Salesman." The words, the words were just too good not to single out.

And the quote that stuck with me all those years will be in my head a lot today:

"Willy Loman never made a lot of money. His name was never in the paper. He’s not the finest character that ever lived. But he’s a human being, and a terrible thing is happening to him. So attention must be paid. He’s not to be allowed to fall into his grave like an old dog."

• Here's my favorite link of the week: Play a version of online Boggle, (not endorsed by Parker Brothers, apparently). It's fun and quick, and you can compare your score to other online players. (Link via .)

• Are you eager to give Kelly Osbourne a makeover? lets you do just that. Ah, .

• I'm in Seattle now, so I don't see quite the number of snowflakes I did when I lived in Minnesota. But even then, I didn't realize they were .

• Is there an ugly car in your life? Maybe it's yours, maybe it's a friend's.  Send digital photos of the car in question to the . If I'm reading this correctly, you don't win anything but bragging (!) rights, but that's . I have to say, it's going to be .

• And finally, thanks to Ashlea for sending with a pertinent punchline. (Update: D'oh! Apparently the comic, which has a "Test Pattern" gag, isn't accessible to all. I'll work on updating the link.)

Mary vs. Madison

Somewhere in my baby book, there's a little rhyme about choosing your baby girl's name. It goes something like "Someday soon she'll change her name / Now give her the one that will stay the same."

Other than the now-outdated assumption that all females will eventually adopt a husband's last name, I always thought the rhyme was telling. Our names do go with us all our life, and if they're hard to pronounce, tough to spell, belong to 20 other kids in your class, or rhyme with something unfortunate, that's a burden you'll always carry.

I'm always reminded of the great "Simpsons" episode where Homer is thinking of names for soon-to-be-born Bart, and he disses Marge's choice of names like Marcus ("they'll call him Mucus!") but can find no problem with Bart. ("Art, Cart, Dart, Eart...nope, nothin' rhymes with Bart!")

I was fascinated to find this , which is really worth a look. Type in any name and you'll get a graph showing the peaks and valleys of that name's popularity over the years.

Try the names of your children, see if you were on the cutting edge or following the crowd when you dished out their names. As we all know, MADISON went from not being in the top 1000 in the 1970s to the #3 name for girls in 2003.

MARY enjoyed a long time at the top, including being #1 in the 1920s, but then started its slow, inevitable slide, settling at #61 in 2003.

Try your parents' names and learn if they were the Mary or the Madison of their day: When my dad was born in 1920, his name, EDWARD, was regularly in the top 10. Now it's slipped to #128. My mom's name, ANNA, has gone in and out of fashion. It was #4 in the 1900s, steadily dove until reaching #103 in the 1950s, and now is resurging due to the fascination with older female names. She's now at #21.

I remember when my sister had my nephew in 1983, she named him JOSHUA, thinking it wasn't a hugely popular name. Maybe it hadn't been before then in our circles, but it was definitely on the rise — it was #4 in the 1980s and has stayed hot since.

Pity my poor friend LISA, born in the late 1960s and doomed to forever have to use her last initial to distinguish herself from the hoardes of other Lisas in her class. Lisa was #1 in the 1960s, but has slipped since.

And of course I had to try my own name, having never met another woman named GAEL. And the chart proved my experience out, showing no mention of Gael until 2003, when it reached #528 ... but not as a girl's name, but as a boy's. And anyone who's seen "The Motorcycle Diaries" doesn't need me to .

Cathy weds

On Saturday, Cathy and Irving finally said their comic-stip "I do's," in a .

Cathy Guisewite didn't find it necessary to put any jokes into the final strip (unless you include the couples' dogs simultaneously thinking "Aack!" as a joke, which I don't). She used the wedding day's four panels to just show Cathy and Irving reciting their vows.

I think that was the right path to take: Even though I haven't followed Cathy closely in years, it was kind of satisfying to just see those vows exchanged after so many years of Cathy's longing. (Although I have to say: Even though I know strapless wedding gowns are the style these days, I just have my doubts that a woman who worries about her weight as much as Cathy does would go strapless.)

Congratulations, Cathy and Irving. May you have at least a week of wedded bliss before your parents start dropping hints about grandchildren.