Sunday, January 2, 2011

Word Games

D'ya like word games? I do. Scrabble has always been a family favorite. Word games like Taboo and Password have been party favorites for ages, too. Search words puzzles have been around forever and can be simple enough for a five year old who knows his alphabet. My dad used to work on the Cryptogram that appeared in our daily papers, a kind of deciphering of coded quotes. At one time I used to do it, too, and even made a few of my own using various devices for encrypting alphabets.

Sometimes when I'm driving I like to play a game with the letters on license plates. In most places there are at least three letters and I'd try to figure out the shortest word that uses those three letters. The letters L-E-F could be Fuel or Leaf or Left or Flee. But the shortest is Elf. However, you can give yourself an extra point if you keep the letters in order, so Leaf and Left would be good words. Lefse is not quite short enough to get you any gold rings, even though it gets off to a good start.

All this word re-arrangement is a lot like Anagrams. In making anagrams you take the existing letters of a place or name and re-configure them in a new way to make an interesting phrase or word combination. The best anagrams re-arranged letters to make some kind of comment about the subject itself. Here's an example.

Anyone familiar with The Doors' song L.A. Woman will recall the tempo change in the central section where Jim Morrison starts repeating Mr. Mojo Risin'. I never knew, till recently, that Mr. Mojo Risin' is an anagram of Jim Morrison's name. Take a moment to work it out and you'll see what I mean.

Washington has a whole slew of anagram possibilities, but two that I like are Night Swoon (if you're in a romantic relationship where things are going good) or Hang Its Own, if you are in a major political party that stabs their own representatives in the back.

I got both of these variations by means of an interesting website, Wordsmith.Org. The site offers a very cool anagram maker. If your name is short you may find limits to anagramming yourself, but if it's long enough you can come up with thousands of phrases. For example, John Heino provided only 24 variants, few really good ones. On the other hand, his band the Centerville All Stars gave me over 52,000 phrases to sift through.

Not everything works, of course. Ennyman's Territory can be re-configured to read Tannery Tenors Miry and Nearer Tinny Ms. Troy, or Seminary Rent On Try... or better, Inane Sentry Mr. Troy. I'll go with that. From now on call me the Inane Sentry Mr. Troy. Hmm... maybe not.

Anyways, as we approach Sunday evening, take a poke at seeing who you really are... or might be underneath all the family surnames your parents gave you.

Visit the Anagram Wordsmith site.

In the meantime, if you see me floating on a plank in the ocean, don't call me Ishmael. Call me Ah, Smile.

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