Wordsmith.org : the magic of words

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Anagram Times Q&A with Adie Pena

He looks like the Dalai Lama, he makes ads for a living, and his passion is anagrams. Meet Adie Pena, a master anagrammmer from Manila, Philippines, and a reporter for The Anagram Times.

Q How did you get into anagrams?
A In the mid-70s, Howard G. Bergerson's book Palindromes and Anagrams inspired me to create some palindromes (my attempts at the genre were so terrible, I don't even remember a single one!) and NOT anagrams (which I thought were inferior cousins of the former). After a short affair with palindromes (it lasted approximately half a year), I completely forgot about them and Bergerson's book was relegated to the upper shelves of my massive library.

Then something happened to me about two decades later. In 1996, on a lark, I joined 'Scrambled Signals,' an anagram contest in the U.S.-based magazine GAMES. I never expected that I would win a grand prize of $1000 with my entry:
Fresh Prince of Bel Air = Fine rap bro feels rich

Of course, that victory encouraged me to create more anagrams. So I kept a little notebook wherein I would scribble some ideas from time to time. But that project of mine soon faded away. After all, how many anagram contests offering tempting prizes are out there? So I took a ten-year break from this wordplay.

My interest in anagrams was revived when I discovered anagrammy.com in early 2007 while surfing the web for word games. I've been consistently at it for the past two years and a half but I honestly don't know how long this second wind will last.


Q Do you have a favorite anagram?
A I have three favorites. The first is obviously the GAMES winner:
Sorry, either you have your browser's Java disabled or you do not have a Java-capable browse. Try FireFox.

The second is the very first one I submitted to anagrammy.com:
Sorry, either you have your browser's Java disabled or you do not have a Java-capable browse. Try FireFox.

And the third is an anagram that was totally ignored by everyone at anagrammy.com:
The Lennon song 'Imagine' = One man so enlightening

It is no coincidence that my three choices are all musically themed. Music is one of my passions.

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 like biting into the last piece of chocolate in a box and discovering that in the center of this unknown bonbon is a macadamia nut. It's simultaneously delicious, wonderful and exciting.

Q Some people use anagrams for divination. Do you think there's a mystical angle to anagrams?
A No, I don't.

Q What do you do in your non-anagram life?
A I own and run an advertising agency to help pay the bills so I can anagram anytime I want. ;-)

Q Approximately how long do you spend on an anagram?
A
15 to 30 minutes max for the medium-length ones. Anything beyond that strains my patience.

Q
Anything else you'd like to add?
A Given that I'm a person who gets bored easily, I hope this anagrammatic addiction I currently have will last forever.


Some of Adie Pena's anagrams for The Anagram Times:
Sorry, either you have your browser's Java disabled or you do not have
a Java-capable browse. Try FireFox.

Goodbye, D.C.! Hello, Austin! = Cold, hostile Dubya? GONE! (MSNBC)

Sorry, either you have your browser's Java disabled or you do not have a Java-capable browse. Try FireFox.

Global swine flu pandemic feared = "Feel awful, pal?" (Nods.) "Grab medicine!" (Inquirer)

Have questions, comments, or suggestions? Post them below. Also enjoy Q&A with these master anagrammers: