Wordsmith.org : the magic of words

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Anagram Times Q&A with Jason Lofts

Reporter Jason Lofts is the newest addition to The Anagram Times staff. He reports for us from Switzerland. He joined us just a few month ago but with his quirky anagrams he has charmed everyone here at the world headquarters of The Anagram Times. He is prolific and files dispatches regularly.

We don't know how he is able to make so many quality anagrams so often, but we suspect he focuses his eyes on the letters and they quiver and fall in place to arrange themselves according to his wishes. It's time to report on the reporter to bring news behind the news. Read on for a Q&A with The Anagram Times reporter Jason Lofts.

Q How did you get into anagrams?
A My mother in New Zealand taught me and my identical twin brother Julian how to solve cryptic crossword puzzles when we were about 10 or 12.

Q Do you remember the first anagram you made?
A No, far too long ago. A school pal and I started compiling by hand an ambitious anagram dictionary, but we never finished.

Q Do you have a favorite anagram?
A I particularly like medium-length ones (< 100 words) where there are several great alternative solutions to be extracted from the same source text, often by way of an "anagram duel" with my twin brother, e.g. the six we found on "Sir Denis Thatcher, Baronet, MBE, TD - onetime husband of Margaret" (The Anagram Times, Apr 12, 2013).

Q How do you pick a news headline to anagram?
A It depends. Either I see an interesting headline when I receive e.g. financial news alerts or I just open Google News. Sometimes colleagues send me headlines. I've even done an anagram first and then looked for a suitable news headline. I instinctively know if a headline or derivative source text has promise.

Q Describe the moment when you are working on anagramming a phrase and the last few letters just fall into place and you realize that you have an outstanding anagram on your hands.
A Recently when I finished my complete anagram poem of Wilfred Owen's "Anthem For Doomed Youth" (510 letters) [See the Anagram Hall of Fame], it really blew my mind and gave me a lasting high ("YES-S-S-S!!!"), although it was equally satisfying to perfect it after a night's sleep and reflection and then to get it accepted for publication in Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics.


Jason Lofts: By his daughter, Claire, 10
Q Some people use anagrams for divination. Do you think there's a mystical angle to anagrams?
A Most definitely -- in a tongue-in-cheek way. I have developed a private investigation tool which I fancifully call the "neo-Liar" test (nomen est omen - Lofts's Incriminating Anagram Result test)! By the way, I can also divine water using a forked stick.

Q What do you do in your non-anagram life?
A I'm a qualified lawyer (in NZ and England) with a MBA in Finance (taught entirely in German) but for the last nine years I've worked in Geneva, Switzerland for a trust company as director, company secretary, risk & compliance/ legal and MLRO (Money Laundering Reporting Officer). Outside of work I have a wife, two kids aged 13 & 10, and a garden.


Jason is a member of STEP

Q Approximately how long do you spend on an anagram?
A Too long on frustrating ones that end up not working out! Also on those favorite ones with multiple solutions.

Q Anything else you'd like to add?
A Nearly six years ago, aged 48, I was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease. I have the impression that certain dopaminergic medication I'm taking has made me more creative in a literary sense (apart from anagrams: satiric verse, parodies, jokes, double entendres, etc. in English, French, and German) but my neurologist says the dopamine has simply restored me almost to my previous "normal" self. So not quite the same as Lance Armstrong and his "more than wind-assisted performance"!

The side effects of my Parkinson's medication include various forms of compulsive disorder (obsessive behaviour) but a friend remarked drily that, with my anagrams, it was a case of compulsive ORDER (or RE-order)!


Selected anagrams by Jason Lofts: