FUN WITH ANAGRAMS
Messin' with your true name (2004)
Your name is very
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
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
Li woke up one morning to discover his name had been
changed from "Snowy Mountaintop" to the equivalent of
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
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
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
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