FUN WITH ANAGRAMS
Messin' with your true name (2004)

Your name is very important.

In fact, some so-called primitive societies believe that your True Name should never be tampered with. In many religions, to name is to create — e.g. "in the beginning was the Word.” Even in secular societies, to re-name is to introduce chaos.

Unless it involves a knighthood or a university degree, altering someone’s name is generally done to do damage. Consider the strange case of Chinese communist party secretary, one Li Hsueh-feng, who fell out favour with his superiors during the cultural revolution. Writes language guru Charles Berlitz: "The slight modification of a character, while preserving its sound, has long been a medium of official language insults. This is especially true of a language where a single syllable can have more than forty different meanings, depending on how it is written."

Li woke up one morning to discover his name had been changed from "Snowy Mountaintop" to the equivalent of "Bloody Weirdo."

At least he was spared the phonetic fate of Fu Chu'ung Pi, an ex-commander in the Peking garrison. According to Berlitz, the commander found his name subtly altered from "Magnificent Precious Stone" to "Corpse of Miserable Worm."

Too bad we can’t subtly (or not-so subtly) alter the names of western leaders, and make it stick. The best we've got is anagrams.

With anagrams, you can find some mean-spirited merriment in rearranging the names of the bastards and boneheads who invariably disappoint the people post-election. You can also kill a whole lot of valuable time in the process. (Luckily, I'm getting paid for this.)

Luckily, you aren't limited to a pen and paper to come up with effective anagrams. There are a few anagram servers on the Internet, which will do your work for you. (try http://www.wordsmith.org/anagram/advanced.html) Depending on the length of the name you punch in, the server will spit back anything from a few dozen to a few hundred responses. Most of the rearrangements don’t make much sense, but you may find a gem or two.

We all know that former US president Ronald Wilson Reagan was an INSANE ANGLO WARLORD. Lesser known is that his successor, George Herbert Walker Bush, was a GIANT BERSERK REBEL WARTHOG. (This certainly seems an accurate assessment of the man who once headed the Central Intelligence Agency, and presided over the US campaign of civil destruction in Latin America in the 1980s, while vice president in the Reagan Administration.)

The son of GIANT BERSERK REBEL WARTHOG, George Bush, becomes HE BUGS GORE. Punching in the more specific George Bush Junior nets JOB USHERING ROGUE. Which is perfect if you follow it with STATE.

Once you get going, this kind of thing can be addictive. The death-defying Saddam Hussein, who has avoided every smart missile and air strike since the Gulf War, becomes AHA! SUDDEN MISS. Artsy types may prefer the evocative yet mysterious MAD AS HIS DUNES.

Saddam’s utility as an excuse for American domination of Central Asia gives us HIS USE DAMN SAD. That being said, I admit a hankering for the hurtful HE'S DIM, SAD ANUS.

Closer to home, provincial finance minister and Cessna pilot Gary Collins becomes LYING CARLOS. Expand his name to the full Gary Farrell-Collins and he defaults to the lovely ROLLS IF RECALL. Education minister Christy Clark, presiding over the cancellation of education programs for children, reduces to TRICYCLE SHARK.

Just to show I play no favourites, tough-talking COPE mayoralty candidate and former coroner Larry Campbell turns into YELL “CRAP,” MR. LAB.

NPA hopeful Jennifer Clarke becomes…well, you can try that one out yourself.

Alas, the one name I wanted the most to deconstruct refuses to reduce to anything sensible. Just like Gordon Campbell himself. So let's just go with MR. BOLD COP-ANGEL, which sounds about as far from the premier’s character as I can imagine.

Geoff Olson