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Saturday, June 20, 2009

The Anagram Times Q&A with Dharam Khalsa

Dharam KhalsaThere are anagrams and there are anagrams. Dharam Khalsa's anagrams stand out in their sheer inventiveness. Consider this anagram that sums up the North Korean issue concisely:
North Korea fires short-range missile = Is Kim honing terror? (Others fear sales)

When a BBC headline announced that the French president would attend the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, Dharam came up with:
French head will attend Olympics = Child's calm reply, "And with no feet?"

We go behind the scenes to have a chat with master anagrammer Dharam Khalsa for The Anagram Times:

Q How did you get into anagrams?
A Having always enjoyed word puzzles, jumbles, and Scrabble-type games, I have played around with the anagram concept since I was a child. Then in 2007, I made a few attempts at political anagrams on another website using their online software, which even after two years are still 'pending approval' and must be fairly lame. Sometime in early 2008, I discovered "The Anagram Times" and tried my hand at some headline anagrams using the combined letter tiles from three estate-sale Scrabble games. When I found some humorous variations, which were well received and posted to the site, I was hooked!

On February 29, I found The Anagrammy Awards site's monthly challenge and surprised them in the last few hours of February with my first post. The task was to anagram a short poem, "Groundhog Day" into another poem about spring. I had never tried anything so long before and ran out of letters, but was quite pleased to find just the word "etcetera" remaining.
Groundhog Day
The funny little groundhog
Digs a home in the fall,
And hides there all winter
Rolled up in a ball.
On February second
He comes out of there
To look at the sky
And to sniff the air.
Oh, yellow daffodils emerging,
Fluted bonnets fanning,
Rooted firmly underground
On hilltops all around.

Oh, youthful shoots hairlike,
Ascend the heath at daybreak
Nigh to Thee...
The Anagrammy Awards contest had been around for almost ten years and there were some very talented people competing from all around the world. When my little poem received a nomination and came in 9th place in the voting, I was thrilled!

Q Do you remember the first anagram you made?
A I probably started with anagrams of my own (difficult) name, including: "Had a lark? Sham!", "L.A. shark had Ma!", and "Hark! Lad's a ham."

Q Do you have a favorite anagram?
It's hard to pick just one favorite, but I think it would have to be:
Conceptual artist Andy Warhol = A red soup can! Why not call it art?

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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 It's a very satisfying moment. One anagram that came to me like a lightning bolt was:

eBay auction = I can beat you!

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Q What do you do in your non-anagram life?
A I live in the high desert area of New Mexico, where I enjoy hiking with my husband and dogs. When not rearranging letters and words into anagrams, I'm using words in other ways. My two home businesses, both based on words, are medical transcription and an online bookstore. I am also a wife of over 35 years, mother and grandmother, and collect jigsaw puzzles of all types, especially hand-cut wooden antique puzzles.

Q Approximately how long do you spend on an anagram?
A That depends on the length of the anagram and my schedule. It can be anywhere from an immediate "Aha!" find to a long poem, joke or passage I'll save and work on for several days. My Scrabble board is always ready on the coffee table, and I enjoy shuffling all 100 of the letter tiles into limericks or poems, which I call 'Scrabblagrams'.

Q Anything else you'd like to add?
A Anagramming is a great creative outlet for those moments at the computer when I'm transcribing medical records and just can't bring myself to type the word "pain" one more time. As a part-time reporter for "The Anagram Times", I like to turn headlines of serious world events into entertainment, both for my own enjoyment and to share with others. Anagramming can range from a simple hobby to a near obsession, and I think my anagram below sums it up nicely:

If total thermonuclear war were to shake the world, God forbid, and we saw mushroom clouds billowing (Pray it will never happen!),
we would all be at work feverishly wording anagrams on the whole incident (albeit, harsh) from our laptop computers worldwide!

Some of Dharam's recent anagrams for The Anagram Times:
Reagan's Glory Days Recalled at Statue Installation
Dance group Diversity trumps Boyle on 'Britain's Got Talent'
Have questions, comments, or suggestions? Post them below. Also see Q&A with master anagrammer Jeffrey Barnes.

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