Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Omen II

Ought contributor Ed writes:

"Loved today's Times piece about 'nomen et omen,' the idea that one's name is prophetic. (E.g., doctors with the last name 'Doctor.' Was that what that Thompson Twins song was all about?) I recall that, back around third grade, I was very eager to learn of anyone else sharing my first name, which isn't wildly rare but seemed so back then, in a sea of Jims and Johns and (it seemed) various Todds. I was especially gratified to come across authors named Ed, and no doubt kept a list of such discoveries.

"I remember with particular clarity a slim collection of sports facts—at that age, one reads all sorts of things, stories, comics, and especially trivia omnium-gatherums, of which the Guinness Book is the ultimate exponent—the cramped spine of which bore the mysterious 'Ed. by John Smith.' (Well—something like that.) It was the "Ed." that hypnotized me—was Ed also part of his name? Matters were cleared up slightly by the full 'Edited by . . . ' tag on the front cover, but the abbreviation continued to exert its power.

"Nearly thirty years on, I'm an editor. A couple times a week, I sign off on page proofs, above a line marked 'ed'—and I always think of that little paperback book, its spine so small that even the word 'Edited' had to be edited."

Thanks for sharing, Ed. Or "ed."

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Third base

A long letter from Ought contributor Parker Edwards:

I was delighted to hear—over a recent dim sum with Tara St. Legano and D.D. Victor—that D.D.'s been revising the MS of his new novel by changing the first person voice to the third person. Delight not because I envied him the labor—but because it reminded me of this news flash from last year, regarding the novelist John Irving's latest project (passage taken from an article by Roger Friedman on the Fox News website):

"I turned in the book to Random House," Irving said. "They loved it and paid me a great deal of money. The novel was scheduled to come out. It took me five years to write it. And then, 28 days ago, I woke up and realized it was all wrong."

The result is that Irving, who writes in longhand on yellow legal pads and not on a word processor or even a typewriter (you may remember those), is rewriting every single word of "Until I Find You" from a first-person perspective to a third-person one.

And he's got to do it fast. For Random House to make its summer 2005 publication date, Irving must turn in the new version by this Christmas at the latest.

Whew! Can he do it? Undoubtedly. But what a thing to put yourself through, I said.

"It means, first of all, the book will be shorter," he said. The current manuscript-page count is around 1,000. By changing to third person, and shedding the "I," less will have to be explained, so the novel should shed some weight.

* * *

Were D.D. and the J-dawg continuing—or establishing—or do I mean cementing—a tradition? I felt there was another connection to be made, but couldn't put my finger on it till the other night, as I perused (upon recommendation from my friends over at The Dizzies) Harry Stephen Keeler's The Mystery of the Fiddling Cracksman (Dutton, 1934):

"[...] You see my publishers [...] finally decided that my book would be more subtle—yes, I know I haven't even told you yet what it's about—but I will—well, they decided that it would be more subtle if narrated in the third person form instead of the first person. And so since they want to slap it on press inside of ten days, I've been sitting in a hotel room there on Broadway with a coffee percolator, changing tenses, pluperfects, points of view and whatnot for three days and nights, and having to retype the whole 80,000 words because nobody alive could read my revisions [...]"

As those Dizzyheads put it: "HSK always leads the way!"

Actually, let's try this again. From the top:

"*He* was delighted to hear—over a recent dim sum . . . "

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Perot to rep?

From our good friends at the Harry Stephen Keeler Society comes this politically charged palindrome:

"Dubya won?! . . . No way, bud!"

Our attempts to formulate some mirror moves for Bush's Democratic opponent yielded only this cryptic formulation:

Kerry = Yrrek [i.e., "Iraq"?]

Sunday, March 06, 2005

O Dolby!

Yes, Park Chan-wook's film OLD BOY (or as it seems to be written these days, OLDBOY—does this mean we can scrab with it?) certainly gratifies sonically—but the anagram we were looking for was a bit more sanguine: BLOODY!

And our very simple anagram that throws a spotlight on the theatrical nature of "The Gates" is: THE STAGE.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Intimate jest

Ennis Mild, pensive after the Oscars, tells us:

"I came up with a JOHN CASSAVETES anagram: JEST CAN SAVE HOS."

Any other combinations, Oughties?

* * *

Solutions to the "Old Boy" and "The Gates" anagram challenges will be posted soon—it's not too late to register your answer! For those of you skeptical of the "value" of anagrams, consider that they indeed constitute the great art—or as we here at Ought call it, ARS MAGNA.