Friday, December 10, 2010

Would the Real Tom Franklin Please Stand Up?

This Tom Franklin, Psychedelically Speaking
Back in 1979 I was in a movie theater when I heard something that almost launched me out of my seat.

The movie was Being There.  And what caused the reaction was not Jerzy Kosinski's screenplay, nor Peter Sellers' inspired acting as Chance Gardner.  No, what caught my attention was a tiny, bit-part character.  He was a lawyer who cruely kicked Chance out of his protective environment and into the world.

Why did this jerk get my attention?  His name was Tom Franklin.

Growing up, there were two things I kept an eye out for: people who shared my birthday and people who shared my name.  I only met two people who were born on the same day that I was but I never met another Tom Franklin.

I didn't give this much thought until I started writing and knew I'd need to be presenting myself, my brand, if you will, through my name.  After spending decades as the only Tom Franklin I knew, I figured this shouldn't be much of a problem.  Right?

Well, no.

It turns out there are several Tom Franklins out there, all of whom get a surprising amount of attention via The Google.  I read about them every time I get a Google Alert on my name.  (Oh please, like you don't do this with your name, too.)  So, to set the record straight, here are some of the Tom Franklins I am not:

_______________________ . . . _______________________

See this guy?  He's the reason I have started using my middle initial here on blogger.  This Tom Franklin (a) lives in the south and (b) is a published author.  He has written Poachers, Hell at the BreechSmonk, and most recently, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, a book which has generated quite a lot of good buzz. 

I have intentionally avoided reading any of his books.  There's just something too danged weird about seeing a book with my name on it that I know I didn't write for me to want to actually have a copy in my hands, much less read the thing.  I freely admit this is an indication of my occasional bad attitude making a guest appearance, but, c'mon, this is the guy who is making me have to use my middle initial in my name.

A friend of mine at werk once told me that she had read both his writing and his wife, Beth Ann Fennelly's poetry.  "She's definitely the better writer," my friend told me.

That thought continues to makes my ego smile to this day.

_______________________ . . . _______________________

The winner of the Wikipedia article associated with my name is this gentleman, "Captain" Tom Franklin is a professional poker player who has won over $2.7 million dollars at the game.

This guy gets written about a lot, according to Google Alerts.  I had no idea that people followed the world of professional poker quite as intensely as they apparently do.  I suppose it's because poker is a fairly easy game to understand (a pair is beaten by two pairs, is beaten by three of a kind, is beaten by...) and because the foundation of the game has to do with the luck of the cards mixed with the ego and bravado of bluffing, there's a widespread belief that anyone can be successful at the game.

I have no idea why he uses the nickname "Captain."  I will admit, though, it makes me mildly suspicious.

_______________________ . . . _______________________

This cheery gent is a former London borough of Lambeth councilor and past head of the urban walking charity Living Streets.  He is now the head of another walking charity known as The Ramblers.

I've been reading about him for several years now and, for some reason, I had always thought The Ramblers was short for the musical group The Red Clay Ramblers.  Turns out I should have looked into the organization a while ago.  (Some of the snippets I read make much more sense now.)

This Tom Franklin is also a writer: he writes for The Rambler's magazine, Walk

_______________________ . . . _______________________

Remember this picture?

If you were anywhere near a newspaper, magazine or a television during the days following the attacks on The World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, you've seen this image.

The photograph is called "Raising the Flag at Ground Zero" and was taken by a photographer for the Hackensack, NJ newspaper, The Bergen Record.  The name of the photographer?  Tom Franklin.  (Although Wikipedia lists him as Thomas E. Franklin)

On the one hand, I feel like I can't catch a break with my name even with my photography.  On the other hand, this is a pretty cool shot, a matter of being in the right place at the right time with the right equipment and having a good eye for composition.  Besides, the Bergen Record has licensed the image and donated the proceeds to causes benefitting those affected by the attacks.  It's tough not to admire that.

_______________________ . . . _______________________

There are, of course, more Tom Franklins out there.  There's a firefighter who gets quoted fairly often, a consultant of some sort in Manchester (UK) and the domain name was, for years, owned by a former olympic sailor.

Me, I'm the former kite salesman/kelly girl/maintenance worker at a school for the deaf/elementary school librarian and current IT guy for a well-respected University Press.

Oh, and children's writer.

What about you?  Are there other people out there on the interwebs that share your name?  Any other writers?  (I suspect I'm sadly alone in this)  Let me know in the commments!

-- Tom