A popular phenomenon amongst listless media professionals in my home town of London recently caught my attention: the “First-name-last-name” game. I’m not too happy with the title of this game—you have to admit that it is a bit prosaic—so for extra credit, entrants are encouraged to provide a more stirring, expressive moniker. But enough of that.

The original rules of this game are simple enough: for each letter of the alphabet, find a well-known individual whose surname begins with that letter AND IS ALSO THE FIRST NAME OF ANOTHER FAMOUS PERSON. These people can be contemporary or historical. I draw the line at fictional characters, though. I don’t know why. I just do.

For instance:
A: Mark Anthony (Ancient Roman guy)
B: John Barry (James Bond-theme guy)
C: James Cameron (Movie guy: allowing for Cameron Diaz, this is an acceptable play)

Et cetera, and so far so ho-hum. But a natural extension of this is to create a “name chain” where the surname of the first person is then used as the first name of the second person, whose surname then becomes the first name of somebody else, etc.:

A two-name chain: Horatio Nelson Riddle.
(Horatio Nelson = dead monocular nautical gentleman, Nelson Riddle = excitable band-leader)

A three-name chain: Yvonne Craig David Cassidy
(Yvonne Craig = original TV Batgirl, Craig David = singer, David Cassidy = something along similar lines)

And so on.

Now: the trick, and this week’s challenge, is to build a chain of a given length from just the first and last name in the sequence. For instance, if you were given:

Jessye ________ ________ Hawkins

You would be looking for a three-name chain, and the answer (or perhaps one possible answer) would be:

Jessye Norman Coleman Hawkins

(Jessye Norman = impressively proportioned operatic diva, Norman Coleman = US Senator, Coleman Hawkins = jazzman)

Of course, you may come up with a completely different answer, in which case all the better.

Three more rules:

A) The Untitled Rule:
Titles are not allowed in place of names, e.g. for " Harold ________ Charles," you can’t have “Harold Prince Charles,” because Prince Charles’s first name isn’t “Prince,” it’s “Charles,” you see?

B) The Not-Their-Real-Names Rule:
Notwithstanding rule A), you can have names that people are known by, even if they are not their given names, e.g. for “Robert _______ Dern,” you can have “Robert the Bruce Dern” —strange as that may sound.

C) The Homonym Rule:
If a name is spelled differently when it’s used as a first name or a last name, you can still use it. For instance (and comprehensible only to British readers), “John Lesley” can be linked to “Leslie Ash.” In a manner of speaking.

Okay, that’s enough rules. Here you go:

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1. Buck ________ ________ ________ Estevez

2. Lenny ________ ________ ________ Van Peebles

3. Ben ________ ________ ________ Dyer

4. Claude ________ ________ ________ McKay

5. Elizabeth ________ ________ ________ ________ Amis

Keep in mind that there may be multiple solutions to each, but you only need to provide one. Send your answer by noon on Friday, October 24. The winner, chosen at random from all entries with the most correct answers, will win a McSweeney’s book.

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We received many clever and wonderful solutions to last week’s puzzle in which we asked readers to create a chain of famous people whose first names were the same as the previous person’s last name. We can’t print every entry here, so due to this week’s time crunch caused by elaborate Halloween decorating around the Brain Exploder compound, we will give preference to readers who provided detailed explanations of their answers. This week’s winner, chosen at random, is Erin Pajari.

1. Buck Henry James Taylor Estevez
[Buck Henry, noted actor/writer; Henry James, novelist; James Taylor, musician; Taylor Estevez, son of Emilio Estevez. Does being the child of a famous person make one famous? Maybe.]

2. Lenny Bruce Lee Marvin Van Peebles
[Lenny Bruce, trailblazing comedian; Bruce Lee, martial arts expert and actor; Lee Marvin, actor; Marvin Van Peebles, sounds enough like Melvin Van Peebles.]

3. Ben Elton John Wayne Dyer
[Ben Elton, British comedian; Elton John, musician; John Wayne, notable horse opera actor; Wayne Dyer, author and guru.]

4. Claude Shannon Elizabeth Windsor McKay
[Claude Shannon, mathematician and father of modern information theory; Shannon Elizabeth, Texas-born actress; Elizabeth Windsor, AKA the Queen of England; Windsor McKay, pioneer comic and animation artist, creator of Little Nemo and Gertie the Dinosaur.]

5. Elizabeth Man(n) Ray Charles Kingsley Amis
[Elizabeth Mann, children’s author; Man Ray, surrealist/dadaist artist; Ray Charles, sight-challenged musician; Charles Kingsley, nineteenth-century British cleric and noted anti-Catholic, tutor to the Prince of Wales and author of The Water-Babies; Kingsley Amis, knighted author.]

—Steve Krodman

1. Buck Henry James Taylor Estevez
[Buck Henry (author/actor); Henry James (author); James Taylor (singer/songwriter); Taylor Estevez (emerging actor, son of Emilio]

2. Lenny Henry Allen/Allan Melvin Van Peebles
[Lenny Henry (comedian); Henry Allen (jazz trumpeter nicknamed “Red”); Allan Melvin (voice actor – Magilla Gorilla, among others) Melvin Van Peebles (actor)]

3. Ben Elton John Wayne Dyer
[Ben Elton (comedian); Elton John (singer); John Wayne (actor); Wayne Dyer (inspirational speaker)]

4. Claude Simon Peter George McKay
[Claude Simon (Nobel-winning author); Simon Peter (Christian Apostle); Peter George (screenwriter of Dr. Strangelove); George McKay (American composer)]

5. Elizabeth Taylor Howard Dean Martin Amis
[Elizabeth Taylor (actress); Taylor Howard (father of the home satellite dish); Howard Dean (presidential candidate); Dean Martin (Rat Packer); Martin Amis (author)]

—Jed Scott

1. Buck Leonard Frank Emilio Estevez
[Buck Leonard = Hall of Fame baseball player of the Negro Leagues’ Homestead Grays; Leonard Frank = German-born Canadian photographer, sort of the Ansel Adams of the Great White North; Frank Emilio = jazz pianist who released the 1999 recording “Ancestral Reflections”; Emilio Estevez = Hollywood Bratpacker who starred in Breakfast Club and The Outsiders before his career took to the ice in the Mighty Duck trilogy.]

ALTERNATE: Buck Henry Frank Emilio Estevez
[Buck Henry, sketch comedian, actor, and co-creator of Get Smart to Henry Frank, an award winning chemist, scientist, and lecturer to Frank Emilio, jazz pianist who released the 1999 recording, “Ancestral Reflections” to Emilio Estevez.]

2. Lenny Bruce Harold Melvin Van Peebles
[Lenny Bruce = bad boy of comedy, REM lyric, Hoffman movie; Bruce Harold = Purdue University Engineering student elected to the Wall of Fame Class of 1971; Harold Melvin = Philly’s own; father of Philly soul, worked with the Blue Notes; had some great hits in the seventies; Melvin Van Peebles = father of Mario; director; Sweet Sweetback’s Baadaaasss.]

ALTERNATE: Lenny Bruce Allen Melvin Van Peebles
[Lenny Bruce to Bruce Allen to Allan Melvin (the voices of hundreds of cartoons including Magilla Gorilla, Smurfs, Scooby Doo villains, but probably most famous as Alice’s meat pounding butcher lover in the Brady Bunch!) to MVanP.]

3. Ben Elton John Wayne Dyer
[Ben Elton = British comedian with his own TV show; buddy of Mr. Bean; Elton John = notorious coke-snorting clothes-horse who also played some piano in Disney cartoons; John Wayne = American icon who won fame as portraying cowboys and soldiers in patriotic tough guy movies. Perhaps it is because he was born with the sissy name Marion; Wayne Dyer = spiritual snake oil salesman. Self-help guru similar to Oprah and Deepak. Hmm. Maybe he does have the key to success and happiness.]

4. Claude Shannon Elizabeth Gardner McKay
[Claude Shannon = father of communication theory, MIT prof., daddy of all that’s digital; Shannon Elizabeth = ditzy cheesecake actress famous for the part of Nadia, the exchange student in American Pie; Elizabeth Gardner = American painter (1837-1922) famous for picture of David; Gardner McKay = actor, adventurer, writer.]

5. Elizabeth Taylor Howard Dean Martin Amis
[Elizabeth Taylor = serial bride, fragrance maven, friend of Michael Jackson, one-time Cleopatra; Taylor Howard = inventor of the modern satellite dish, Stanford professor; Howard Dean = former governor of VT, presidential aspirant; Dean Martin = boozing playboy of the Rat Pack, partner of Jerry Lewis, singer/actor; Martin Amis = acerbic British comic novelist; author of London Fields, Money, etc.]

&8212;T.J. Gillespie

We should also give credit to the creator of last week’s Brain Exploder, London’s own Matthew Blakstad, who had in mind an answer for number five that no one duplicated:

5) Elizabeth George (of) Clarence Thomas Hardy Amis
[Elizabeth George, UK mystery novelist; George of Clarence, unfortunate brother of Richard III; Clarence Thomas, US Supreme Court justice; Thomas Hardy, author of Tess of the D’Urbervilles; Hardy Amis, British designer]