Jewish World Review Feb. 27, 2003 / 25 Adar I, 5763

Richard Lederer

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juggler Ana Gram, the Juggler juggler | Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the unparalleled, incomparable, sensational Word Circus, the Greatest Show on Earth.

Watch words come out of the wordwork. Laugh at our lexcellent tour de farces! Gasp as letters fly through the air with the greatest of E 's. Thrill as you become The Wizard of Ahs or A Lass in Wonderland!

  • Can you create one word out of the letters in new door?
    The answer is (ha ha) one word. The letters in new door are the same as those in one word, except in a different order.
  • When is enough not enough?
    When you rearrange the letters in enough, you get one hug.
    Everybody knows that one hug is never enough!

These riddles all involve anagrams. An anagram is a rearrangement of all the letters in a familiar word, phrase, or name to form another word, phrase, or name. Feast your eyes on a parade of anagram crackers as onto the circus stage trot a shore horse, a steed teased and seated, a smug tan mustang, an orchestra carthorse, and a point pinto on tip. Are you ready to greet an egret, count a toucan, and recoil at a snake sneak?:

Enter asp, in slithers a serpent.
Take a gander; stay outside the fence:
Ranged in the Garden of Danger,
A serpent at present repents.

Next in the parade march lo, a girl gorilla, a host shoat, any he hyena, a wee ewe, one-sail sea lion, toga goat, salty pup platypus, wine-lover wolverine, trout tutor, taco cook cockatoo, cop-outs octopus, calm clam, bolster lobster, and flub oaf buffalo. Then hear a hare, paroled leopard, bangle Bengal, grade B badger, Roxy oryx, cabaret bearcat, tan ant, throne hornet, leaf flea, a rich sot ostrich, and the Nepal elephant.

And there's more! -- sobbing gibbons, snorted rodents, unshod hounds, snug gnus, spooled poodles, slow owls, Canarsie canaries, mescal camels, spider prides, and noiseless lionesses. At least, we'll steal stale tales of slate teals. For fun we'll close with ten skit kittens in a cat act. To introduce you to the more spectacular examples of alphabetic manipulation, here is the greatest juggler in the world, the very art and soul of the Word Circus -- Ana Gram! She can twirl balls, clubs, plates, hoops, or flaming torches, but she's best when she's spinning letters. She starts with three letters, and when she really gets them going, she adds another and another and another and another and another and another and another, until the audience bursts into applause.

Ladies and Gentlemen! Boys and girls! Children of all ages! Don't waddle! Don't dawdle! It's time for Anagramarama! It's tedious outside, so stay inside and enjoy the fun residing at ringside.

I give you a genuine ingenue, the high priest of esprit and ripest sprite of letter play of the highest stripe. The charisma of Ana's performance is a charm, a charm that you see march before your eyes. In her, you observe the obverse of the very verbose. After the mite of an item that follows, I guarantee that at no time will you emit groans from your organs:

Arty Idol
Watch Ana Gram, and you will see
Her act inspires idolatry.
Please do not come o tardily,
And dilatory please don't be.

Adroitly Ana Gram will start
To alter daily rot. She's smart:
A dirty lot, an oily dart
She'll change into the doily art.

I enlist you to be silent and listen to the inlets of my tinsel words. As we begin our binge of letter juggling, please don't even think about falling asleep, or your retina will not retain the overt trove of laudatory, adulatory letter wizardry, which has for too long continued unnoticed.

Simple logic impels your positive reactions to Ana Gram's creations. Among robust turbos, she's an absolute dynamo, even on a Monday -- a gagster who will stagger you with her latent talent. She's the antagonist of stagnation, the flauntress of artfulness, and the patroness of letter shuffling because she knows how to transpose a sword into words, which then float aloft. Each emphatic, empathic seraph phrase, each snatch of her chants, will stanch any trace of mental lament and reclaim the miracle of language.

dancing a

For various reasons, Ana Gram is a saviour who loves to solve your woes and who repeals any relapse. Her stagery gyrates the grayest spirit. Before you reunite with your retinue or retreat through the ingress, please attend to this greatest of singers, a singer who reigns and will never resign as our merriest rimester. She's one of those crowd-pleaser leapers whose dances ascend to the highest heights as she performs a toe dance while relating an anecdote.

Ana Gram's persistent prettiness earns her direct credit for regally and largely curing any allergy in the gallery. No dictionary is indicatory of the elation you will experience down to your very toenail, a joy that will -- from the fringes of your fingers, from your elbow to below the bowel, from your bared beard to your viler liver to your venal navel, from your ears to your arse, from the top of the spine to the tip of the penis -- roost in the roots of your torso.


She is the very heart of the earth, a damsel who merits medals. With a lovely volley of letters, she juggles a cheap peach, an Argentine tangerine, and solemn lemons and melons. At the same time she reaps, pares, and then manages to spear pears while twirling pastel plates (a staple of her act) and balancing a maraschino on her nose and playing two harmonicas.

Pleased by what has elapsed and astounded by such climaxes, everyone exclaims that it would be impossible to reproduce her procedure to intoxicate your excitation. She never mutilates, only will stimulate ultimates. She will not enervate, and you will venerate. She'll edify and you will deify the luster of the result she'll unfailingly rustle up.

Lucky ladies and gentlemen! Cripes! Just think of the prices we offer, as advertised in English on the shingle that adorns our booth:


Look closely at the poster, and presto! -- boing! bingo! -- you'll see an integral alerting, altering, relating triangle. What we have here is a trianagram -- three ten-letter words, each a rearrangement of the other two! Now I, your Word Circus pitchman, will be busy mastering emigrants streaming (a nine-letter trianagram) into the tent. I hope that someone will have cautioned them not to have auctioned off their education (yet another nine- letter trianagram).

I, a magnate gateman who patrols these portals with your kind permission, have the impression that you brand me a blabbing, babbling funfair ruffian, a has-been banshee, a tearing ingrate, infield infidel, and an errant ranter. You may wish to compile a polemic lamenting my alignment as one of those nameless salesmen and dishonest hedonists who are full of tangible bleating and impressing simperings. You may claim that I who ratchet up the chatter with supersonic percussion am a rowdy, wordy vice-dean of deviance. You will be eager to agree that I'm a trifling, flirting baritone obtainer of untidy nudity who seldom models his ideals for ladies.

I may madden you and cause you to demand that I be damned, before you depart, convinced that I have prated and should be hoist on my own petard, bombed and mobbed. But any unstirred intruders and outbred doubter who may obtrude should come to the realization that people tend to rationalize. Irately and tearily, I tell you that, in reality, to be portrayed as one so predatory causes me mental lament. Anyone who accuses me of being a usurping, pursuing, daemonic comedian is simply being an inconsistent nonscientist.

Truth be told, I'm an Einstein of the nineties -- a gentleman, an elegant man who gets blamed because I have ambled into bedlam. It's one of the noisier ironies. However, whoever enters needs no caveat to vacate this auction with caution. I certify that I will rectify the situation and deposit the dopiest rowdies and weirdos in the closest closets.

No wonder that anagram is an acromym of A New, Appropriate, Grandly Rearranged, Alphabetic Message. No wonder that those who believe in the magical potency of words have hailed the anagram as AH, AN ART GEM! and anagrams as ARS MAGNA, "the great art."

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Adapted from "The Word Circus: A Letter-Perfect Book." (Sales help fund JWR.)

JWR contributor Richard Lederer is a language maven. More than a million of his books, which have been Book-of-the-Month Club and Literary Guild alternate selections, are in print. He is the host of "A Way With Words," on KPBS, San Diego Public Radio, and a regular guest on weekend "All Things Considered." He was awarded the Golden Gavel for 2002 by Toastmasters International. Comment by clicking here.


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© 2003, Richard Lederer