Nightstand | Merl Reagle
In honor of today's switch to the newspaper's new name, Tampa Bay Times, we talked to Merl Reagle, a nationally syndicated crossword puzzle creator and expert anagrammist who lives in Tampa. His puzzles appear in more than 50 Sunday newspapers across the country, including the Tampa Bay Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times and Philadelphia Inquirer. Reagle, 61, has been making puzzles since he was 6 years old. In 2006, the movie Wordplay depicted his construction of a crossword that was published in the New York Times.
When you take the new name, Tampa Bay Times, what anagrams do you get?
Jeesh, when you look at it, there are no r's, no l's and no n's, so it's kind of a tough one. The best one I can come up with given the news business is, as we puzzlers say, less elegant, but it is, "My beat is Tampa.'' It's less elegant because I kept the word Tampa. If I anagrammatize the whole name, there is also "Mama, be a typist" and "Spam may beat it.'' But again, I do think the most appropriate anagram for you is the first one. It's fun to look at it, and I wish you all the best with the name change.
Now, what's on your nightstand?
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins. It's the second book in the Hunger Games series.
Are you a returning fan of Collins?
Yes, but I'm reading this now because my 26-year-old neighbor recommended it. I always like to keep up with what younger people are reading. I do like her, though, her good writing. Whenever she writes about people eating, for example, it's like you can taste the food.
Are you looking forward to Hunger Games becoming a movie?
Well, the first Hunger Games is interesting on the page, but it is a rough idea, having kids kill each other.
But don't forget Lord of the Flies.
But the boys in that one got together and the killing came from within. It's not like a school counselor tells the boys in Lord of the Flies to go kill each other. There's a survival element to that one. But (Hunger Games) is not that. The idea of picking teens between 12 and 18 to perform killing each other seems barbaric, and when you read a story on page, it has one impact, but when you actually see it on the screen, it has so much more. When the visual couples with the sound, there's so much more impact. It will be interesting to see how it goes.
Piper Castillo is reachable at pcastillo@ tampabay.com or (727) 445-4163.