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Friday, March 8, 2013

Word Nerds! This One's for Us! Um, I Mean You!

Posted by Temple Lentz on Fri, Mar 8, 2013 at 10:44 AM

In middle and high school, my nerdy friends and I listened obsessively to They Might Be Giants as we plotted world domination and eventual success at jobs where we could look down on those who slighted us. "One for all and all for one!" we'd shout, and then giggle like little nerds about the fact that we'd just used a palindrome.

So it brings me no small amount of joy to say, Holy shit you guys! The Symmys are this weekend! The award ceremony for best palindrome! No, I didn't know such a thing even existed either, but holy racecar, it does!

Presented by The Palindromist Magazine ("The world's leading palindrome periodical," according to people who track such things), the awards are this Sunday at 8pm at the Funhouse Lounge. The event is free, and the place has a bar.

The Palindromist Magazine is run by Portland's own palindrome king and stand-up comedian, Mark Saltveit. “We created these awards to showcase the great new palindromes being written every year,” said Saltveit. Competitors have entered from Australia, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

Entries have been sent to the star panel of judges, who issue their verdicts remotely and, very likely, with some comment. Judges include Will Shortz, NPR’s Puzzle Master and New York Times Crossword Editor; “Weird Al” Yankovic, musical comedy legend, and creator/singer of the classic palindromic song "Bob"; Demetri Martin, comedian, author and palindromist; Jackie Kashian, hilarious comedian and host of the popular podcast “The Dork Forest”; John Flansburgh, half of the Grammy-winning band "They Might Be Giants," whose classic song "I Palindrome I" is some kind of anthem among palindromists; Ben Zimmer, executive producer of and; Jack Rosenthal, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist; Tim Van Ert (aka Timi Imit), editor of, the biggest website for new palindromes (who knew?!); and Jeff Grant, New Zealand palindrome legend (Word Ways Magazine).

"I want to be clear," Saltveit said, "that the celebrity judges are not going to be at the Funhouse Lounge on Sunday, in case that wasn't clear. As if anyone could afford to assemble that group somewhere outside of LA." The judges are sending in their votes, and they'll be tallied for the event on Sunday.

Los Angeles stand-up comedian Dax Jordan, formerly of Portland, will be hosting the festivities via Skype.

Saltveit sent us a listing of all the finalists, but it's really long. So I'll just highlight a couple of my favorites. If there's still time to influence the judges, YOU SHOULD PICK THESE, JUDGES!

I made Rihanna hirsute, familiar, frail: I'm a fetus Rihanna hired, am I?

A slightly violent to-do list
Tape Roger.
Go "Bang!"
Get Cello.
Collect egg.
Nab Ogre.
Gore Pat.

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