Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Arlen Kassof Hastings Takes Runner-Up Place in PAW Wordplay Contest

Word whiz Arlen Kassof Hastings '80 took a runner-up prize on the Princeton Alumni Weekly's constrained writing wordplay contest. An article about the contest and the winners appeared in the April 7 PAW, here. Inspired by an freshman seminar on wordplay, the contest draw this entry from Arlen called "Alphabetical Soup":

Appetizing broth, cooking delectably, emanating flavor, greets her in Jespersen’s kitchen. Letters made neatly of pasta quickly revitalize Sara, the unhappy vegetarian whose xeric yam ziti a belligerent carnivore didn’t eat, favoring goose.

Having inauspiciously jeopardized Kevin’s (lately mentioned nasty omnivore’s) palate, quiet, remorseful Sara took up violent wailing. “Xantippe! Yucky ziti!” angrily barked churlish diner, eying foie gras. “How I jubilantly kill living meat! Nothing outdoes poached quail. Rabbit stew tastes unbelievable. Venison’s wonderful. Xiphias — yum! Zebra’s absolutely breathtaking. Cat’s delicious, especially fried.”

Greatly horrified, inexpressibly jolted kitten lover moderates nonetheless: “Ooh, poor queasy rascal.” She then uses Vedic wisdom. “Xylophones! Yahweh’s zithers!” Accompanying Brahmin choir, dinner eating forgotten, go harmoniously, invoking joyful karma, latterly mortal nemeses. One particularly quixotic religious song tells us verily why xanthism — yellowish zoological aberration — begets color, dyeing egrets’ feathers. “Gosh!” humbly intones jittery Kevin, liking music. “Now obnoxiously plucking quills really seems terrible.”

Ultimately, vegetarianism wins. Xenogogue yells, “Zounds!”

When not doing crossword puzzles and playing with words, Arlen works on fostering science in developing countries as the executive director of the Science Initiative Group at the Institute for Advanced Study.