CRAIG CONLEY (Prof. Oddfellow) is recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation.” He has been called a “language fanatic” by Page Six gossip columnist Cindy Adams, a “cult hero” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “a true Renaissance man of the modern era, diving headfirst into comprehensive, open-minded study of realms obscured or merely obscure” by Clint Marsh. An eccentric scholar, Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size. Conley’s website is OneLetterWords.com.
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
June 30, 2006

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

Walnuts take 60 years to grow, so every walnut we eat is a gift from a previous generation.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

June 29, 2006

Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)

Saint Hlmpfmr
Patron of Incomprehensible Utterances.

His name is brought up (shamefully) in the ubiquitous German joke about a man mistakenly diagnosed with hemorrhoids who tells the proctologist, "get someone with longer fingers--I have a sore throat!"

Regional variations of this saint's name include Drmpf, Hgmmm, and Hmmgmr.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Did you know that Leonardo Da Vinci invented the first designer automobile?  Yeah, and he also invented the artistic license.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
You aimed carefully, and your poison darts have hit their target.  The tips were sharp, and the venom deadly.  Darkness fills my field of vision, and I succumb to slow death.  Bull’s-eye!
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .

June 28, 2006

Do-Re-Midi (permalink)
Do-Re-Midi: Funkamentals of a Text-Based Musical Notation

version 1.0

Do-Re-Midi allows musical ideas, melody lines, riffs, arrangements, and even full scores to be easily shared via e-mail or other text-based (ASCII) English communication.  Now, when a friend writes asking how that bass line of Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams" goes, you can type it out and save humming it over a long-distance call.  Or you can compose a new song on an airplane when all you have is a PowerBook with a word processor.  No special composing software or music font is needed.  Each voice of a composition is typed as if in sentences using familiar and intuitive syllables, symbols, and phonemes.  Novices can read Do-Re-Midi more easily than standard musical notation, as no more than a rudimentary familiarity with the musical scale is requisite.

An example of a famous music passage written in Do-Re-Midi follows the full description of this notation below.  

A standard fixed-width font (e.g. Courier) is required for writing and displaying Do-Re-Midi.

Note: A shareware program to automatically convert MIDI files into Do-Re-Midi is in the early stages of development.

Suggestions for revision are welcome.

----------

Contents:

I. Notes
II. Duration
III. Rests
IV. Octaves
V. Dynamics
VI. Time Signatures
VII. Other Tones, Sound Effects, and Noises
VIII. Other Notation
IX. Do-Re-Midi Example

----------

I. Notes:

do = C
re = D
mi = E
fa = F
so = G
la = A
ti = B

do# = C sharp or D flat
re# = D sharp or E flat
fa# = F sharp or G flat
so# = G sharp or A flat
la# = A sharp or B flat

----------

II. Duration:

do = quarter note
re = quarter note
mi = quarter note
fa = quarter note
so = quarter note
la = quarter note
ti = quarter note

doo = half note
ree = half note
mii = half note
faa = half note
soo = half note
laa = half note
tii = half note

dooo = dotted half note
reee = dotted half note
miii = dotted half note
faaa = dotted half note
sooo = dotted half note
laaa = dotted half note
tiii = dotted half note

doooo = whole note
reeee = whole note
miiii = whole note
faaaa = whole note
soooo = whole note
laaaa = whole note
tiiii = whole note

----------

III. Rests:

: = quarter rest
:: = half rest
::: = dotted half rest
:::: = whole rest

----------

IV. Octaves:

-do = low C
-re = low D
-mi = low E
-fa = low F
-so = low G
-la = low A
-ti = low B

do = middle C
re = middle D
mi = middle E
fa = middle F
so = middle G
la = middle A
ti = middle B

+do = high C
+re = high D
+mi = high E
+fa = high F
+so = high G
+la = high A
+ti = high B

----------

V. Dynamics:

do = piano
re = piano
mi = piano
fa = piano
so = piano
la = piano
ti = piano

Do = forte
Re = forte
Mi = forte
Fa = forte
So = forte
La = forte
Ti = forte

DO = fortissimo
RE = fortissimo
MI = fortissimo
FA = fortissimo
SO = fortissimo
LA = fortissimo
TI = fortissimo

----------

VI. Time Signatures:

4/4
3/4
2/4
(and so on)

----------

VII. Other Tones, Sound Effects, and Noises:

ah
bz
ch
mm
oo
ft
pr
sh
ss
ts
zp
zz

----------

VIII. Other Notation:

^ = slur
x = drum hit (specify type)
X = drum hit accented
* = cymbal (specify type)
5 = hand clap

----------


IX. Do-Re-Midi Example (four seconds of a famous song)

In the example below, each voice of the piece is typed from left to right on its own line.  Voices which sound simultaneously are aligned vertically.  Notice that the melody has two lines to indicate harmony.  The arrangement of the piece can be easily altered in Do-Re-Midi by moving the notations left or right, just as notes are adjusted in sequencing software.

"Sweet Dreams Are Made of This" by Eurythmics (P) 1983

4/4 (180 bpm)

(lyric)
     Sweet dreams  are   made of           this

(melody)
::   Ree#  Ree#    Doo   Re#  Reee#        Re#^Reee  
::   Soo   Soo     Ree#  So   Sooo         Soo^Faaa

(bass)
-DOO do do re# re# do do -so# -so# -so# do -so -so -la# do

(bass drum)
x :  x  :  x   :   x  :  x    :    x    :  x   :   x    :
> read more from Do-Re-Midi . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Did you hear about when the Dalai Lama got lost on his way to the office?  He walked into an Indian restaurant and said, "Dharmasala?"  The guy at the register answered, "Here or to go?"
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Changing Opacity

—Deke McClelland and Galen Fott, Photoshop Elements for Dummies (2002)
> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

June 27, 2006

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

June 26, 2006

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Best-Kept Secrets of the Graduate Teaching Assistantship

Assume the role . . . and take the roll!  That's all there is to being a Graduate Teaching Assistant.

Filling the time on Mon.-Wed.-Fri.:

    Monday-Wednesday-Friday classes are only 50 minutes long.  Here's a sample daily schedule:  
    1. If you take attendance slowly, you can use up ten minutes.  (If the class has fewer than 25 students, stretch out the roll by asking each student how he's doing that day).  
    2. Then, to break the ice, chat with the class about movies and current events for five to ten minutes.  On Mondays you can discuss what everybody did over the weekend, and on Fridays you can talk about everybody's plans for the weekend.   
    3. Give a quiz and let the students exchange papers and grade each other's (that saves you from doing homework).  By the time you read the questions aloud, allow time for the students to write answers, repeat questions, exchange papers, read the answers aloud, and explain the answers to the slower students, you'll have taken up at least fifteen minutes.
    4a. Now it's time for class discussion.  (Forget lectures: no one wants to hear them, and you don't want to prepare them).  If the class remains silent, just sit there and look at them.  If they don't want to learn, you can't make them.  Their education is their own responsibility.
    4b. (alternate) Divide the class into groups of four or five.  Have them discuss the day's subject or work on short assignments.
    4c. (alternate) Show a video.  Your library or university resource center probably has hundreds of educational videos.  If you run out of time, show the remainder next time.
    4d. (alternate) Since only 15 minutes remains, let the class out early, saying "It's such a nice day out . . ." or "Use this time to work on the assignment at home."

Filling the Time on Tue.-Thurs.

    Tuesday-Thursday classes are 75-minutes long.  But you only meet twice a week, which leaves you with a four-day weekend.  The sample daily schedule is the same for Mon.-Wed.-Fri. except for parts 4c and 4d.:
    4c. Show a video.  With 35-minutes remaining, you'll probably have time to watch the whole thing.
    4d. Let the class out early, but tell them to go to the library.

Give Yourself and Your Students an Occasional Break

    When planning your syllabus, allow at least three "individual study" days per semester.  Always put them on Friday (or Thursday, for Tue.-Thurs. classes).  That way you'll have a three-day weekend.  Explain it to your students this way: "On Friday the class will meet at the library for individual study.  I won't take the roll.  You may study anywhere in the library you'd like.  I may not see you, since the library is such a big place."
    Or work a few "catch-up days" into the syllabus.  In theory, such days allow the course to progress smoothly and not get behind.  In practice, you can cancel class on those days since you always make it a point not to get behind.

Planning the First and Last Day

    Don't plan anything.  On the first day, hand out the syllabus, show the class the textbook, and dismiss everybody.  On the last day, have a party or call it "individual review day for the final exam."

Teacher Evaluation Time

    Once or twice a semester, a professor may sit in on your class to evaluate you.  It's unlikely to be a surprise visit.  Rather, the professor will schedule the visit in advance.  You may be asked to suggest a day yourself.
    On the day before the visit, tell your class that a professor will be visiting.  Promise them that if they are particularly enthusiastic that day, they'll get Friday off.

Oral Reports

    Up to one-half of the entire course can be filled with oral reports.  Divide the students into groups of four or five and allow them to choose a topic themselves (this will take a day in itself, and may even require "library days").  You can go around to each group and approve their subjects.  Each student should give a 10 to 15 minute presentation.  Allow five minutes after each presentation for questions.  On Mon.-Wed.-Fri., two reports can be made per class.  On Tue.-Thurs., three reports (or possibly four shorter ones) can be made.

Though you only just graduated yourself, you can have the authority of a full professor.  When you write your name on the board the first day, add Dr. before it.  The students will never know.   By the end of the semester, you'll feel like one.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Inflationary Lyrics (permalink)
SONG: If I Didn't Have a Dime
ARTIST: Gene Pitney

ORIGINAL LYRIC:

If I didn't have a dime,
and I didn't take the time

ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION:

If I didn't have a quarter,
and I didn't tip the porter
* Payphones used to take dimes, but now they take quarters.  Isn't it time to update song lyrics to reflect the realities of inflation?  Alas, it's vastly easier to rhyme the word "dime" than the word "quarter," but here at Inflationary Lyrics Headquarters we have risen to the challenge.  Please join the fun and share your own inflationary lyrics, with both the "before" and "after" versions!
> read more from Inflationary Lyrics . . .

June 25, 2006

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
I must have been wearing a blindfold.  It’s suddenly so obvious why we can’t communicate anymore.  You’re a walking corpse.  You’ve been dead inside for so long it would take a Ouji Board to get a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ out of you.  Well, I’m not a Medium, and the seance is over.
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .

June 24, 2006

Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Centrifuge

A centrifuge is a plot, a conspiracy, used by devious characters to cover up their devious behavior.  It's one of the oldest tricks in the book.
—John R. Erickson, The Case of the Halloween Ghost (1998)
> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .


Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed that the other punctuation marks teased me about my name.  They said semi means "incomplete" or "half of."

Then I dreamed I had a new name: DEMIcolon.  Demi means "of less than full size," which sounds better than "half of."

Later that night, I dreamed about "folks in academia who're wrestling with the really big questions--like whether Joyce ever used a semicolon after 1919," as in Robert Littell's THE COMPANY.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .

June 23, 2006

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
David, of Ironic Sans, had a great idea for a special "skip" button on jukeboxes:

I’ve heard “Margaritaville” about 500 times too many on jukeboxes in bars. It might be worth five bucks to me to be able to skip that song the next time someone plays it. Someone should make a jukebox that features a big “SKIP” button and charge five bucks to use it. I think five dollars is just the right amount. It’s high enough that someone won’t keep skipping songs just to be a jerk, but low enough that I can afford to skip that one song that I really just can’t stand to hear one more time.

That idea made me realize I'd be quite willing to pay five dollars in a restaurant if I could cancel an adjacent table's order of a fried calamari appetizer.  Fried calamari is, in my experience, the stinkiest dish one can order in a restaurant, followed by fish 'n' chips.  Fried calamari truly reeks, as even rabid seafood lovers will admit.  And if you're a vegetarian, fried calamari is a direct whiff of hell.  I'd gladly pay five dollars not to have my own meal ruined by someone else's second-hand fried calamari fumes, and the restaurant would still profit.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Puzzles and Games (permalink)
This is a "Map of Bovinia."  Can you guess what it is based upon?

Click this link to reveal the answer.


> read more from Puzzles and Games . . .

June 22, 2006

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
My five-year-old neighbor attended her first day of Bible school.  Her class went outside, and each child was given a paper bag.  The teacher told them to collect things that God made, such as leaves, rocks, and twigs. 

When the girl came home, her mother said, “So you learned that God made all things in the world?” 

“No,” she replied.  “He only made what’s in the bag.”
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Strange Dreams (permalink)
I dreamed that I spent an entire sleep period sitting on the floor embracing a medium-sized brown dog.  It was one of those dreams in which I fell asleep in the dream and "woke up" from my inner nap knowing that an entire night had gone by.  The experience of closeness with the animal was one of utter contentment.  Occasionally I lovingly scratched the animal, and it responded with obvious ecstasy.  Eventually, my uncle Norris came into the room with a camera, and he took my picture.  I kept my head down, as it had been when I fell asleep in the sitting position as I cradled the dog.  But there was a mirror on the floor, and I looked at my own face as Norris took a few pictures of me.  I looked at my face as I tried smiling and not-smiling.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .

June 21, 2006

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
I decided to see the world through rose-colored glasses. But I didn't read the warning label: "Caution. All red objects will seem to disappear. Prolonged use may cause headaches, eye fatigue, disorientation, and/or apathy."

In Alaska, I was the only one who couldn't see the Northern Lights.

In Australia, Ayers Rock (Uluru) was invisible.

In Bermuda, I got sunburned and didn't know it.

In Switzerland, the Matterhorn was fuzzy and bright pink. I felt a headache coming on, but I didn't really care. I finally took off the glasses and gave them to a milkmaid.

My final stop was the Grand Canyon. At sunset, the sky turned purple, the sun was orange, and the clouds were pink.

"My God!" I gasped. I had worn the rose-colored glasses too long. My eyes had stuck that way.

---

Shaari writes:

beautiful
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

June 20, 2006

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
I'm mad at my friend the cook.  He only calls me when he's in a stew.

I wrote a joke about my haematologist, but it's in the same vein.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
French Funk

Humorist Jonathan Caws-Elwitt, who lives in a region known for neither Francophilic nor urban-beat culture, was recently surprised to spot the phrase "FRENCH - FUNK" in a local weekly newspaper headline.  It turned out to be a wedding engagement announcement.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Call East, Strike West

Brilliant!  A perfect feint!  Call East, Strike West!  Oldest trick in the book!
—Louis Cha and John Minford, The Deer and the Cauldron (2000)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

June 19, 2006

Inflationary Lyrics (permalink)
SONG: Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?
LYRICS: Yip Harburg

ORIGINAL LYRIC:

Once I built a tower, up to the sun,
brick, and rivet, and lime;
Once I built a tower, now it's done.
Brother, can you spare a dime?

ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION:

Once I built a tower, up to the sun,
brick, and rivet, and mortar;
Once I built a tower, now it's done.
Brother, can you spare a quarter?
* Payphones used to take dimes, but now they take quarters.  Isn't it time to update song lyrics to reflect the realities of inflation?  Alas, it's vastly easier to rhyme the word "dime" than the word "quarter," but here at Inflationary Lyrics Headquarters we have risen to the challenge.  Please join the fun and share your own inflationary lyrics, with both the "before" and "after" versions!
> read more from Inflationary Lyrics . . .

June 18, 2006

Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)

Saint Particolare
Patron of Excruciating Detail.

Famous for the ability to summon up a proverb for virtually any occasion, Saint Particolare enjoyed an attentive following in her early days, but as her sermons grew from minutes into hours, her audience dropped off conspicuously.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .


Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)
"What am I, chopped liver?"  Yes.  The human liver is divided by fissures into five lobes, so we are all (in part, at least) chopped livers since they are part of us.
> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .

June 16, 2006

Inflationary Lyrics (permalink)
SONG: If a Girl Isn't Pretty (from Funny Girl)
Lyrics: Jule Styne and Bob Merrill

ORIGINAL LYRIC:

If a girl isn't pretty
Like a Miss Atlantic City,
She should dump the stage
And try another route.
Any guy who pays a quarter
For a seat just feels he oughter
See a figger that his wife can't
Substitute.

ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION AND CULTURAL REFERENCES
by Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:

If a girl isn't pretty
Like a "Sex in the City,"
She should dump the stage
And try another route.
All these guys paid fifty dollars
To get hot under their collars
When a showgirl shows them something
Sweet and cute

(Thanks, Jonathan!)
* Payphones used to take dimes, but now they take quarters.  Isn't it time to update song lyrics to reflect the realities of inflation?  Alas, it's vastly easier to rhyme the word "dime" than the word "quarter," but here at Inflationary Lyrics Headquarters we have risen to the challenge.  Please join the fun and share your own inflationary lyrics, with both the "before" and "after" versions!
> read more from Inflationary Lyrics . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Q: If laughter is the best medicine, what is a curative joke?
A: An anecdote.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Bombard One Sector and Attack Another

To bombard one sector and attack another was the oldest trick in the game.
—J. G. Farrell, The Singapore Grip (2005)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

June 15, 2006

The Right Word (permalink)
Dabbler celebrates the magical mystery of the semicolon and bravely admits to having no idea how to use those sophisticated-looking punctuation marks:

I live in fear of being called out on my inappropriate use of the majestic semicolon, that someone will notice it and realize that I do not even have a grade school-level education in punctuation and grammar. Sure, I may have nearly gone to the National Spelling Bee when I was 11, but I cannot form a proper sentence.

[ . . .]

In the end, however, I think I would prefer it if no one spoils the mystery for me. I will sleep more easily at night (The Guy Snoring Above Me notwithstanding) knowing that there is yet a little magic in the world, something I cannot explain.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

June 14, 2006

Strange Dreams (permalink)
Entitled "The Nightmare," this wood engraving from 1845 depicts a vampire demon sitting on a sleeper's chest.


From the "The Fantastic in Art and Fiction," courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, Cornell University Library.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .


Pfft! (permalink)
“[You are a] sacrificial lamb.  You are the rider they bring in, bring along too fast, put in too many big races he’s not ready for or able to ride and then ... pfft.”  He waved a hand absently to the side.  “You and the team are history.”  —Greg Moody, Two Wheels: A Cycling Murder Mystery.
* The British expression "noise stroke gesture" (in American parlance, "noise slash gesture" or "noise/gesture") refers to the intriguing fact that some vocal expressions seem to call for an accompanying hand gesture.  Take, for example, Pfft!  No matter what its intended meaning, it virtually demands to be echoed in sign language.  Have you noticed a pfft hand gesture in print?  Please share!

For a variety of surprising definitions of pfft, check out my Dictionary of All-Consonant Words at OneLetterWords.com.
> read more from Pfft! . . .

June 13, 2006

The Right Word (permalink)
Some beautiful examples of "the perfect use of a semicolon" by Mackenzie Carignan:

The broken thought is finishing; the thought is done.

He could not handle the embrace; he would have cried and shaken.

The thing you search for is here; you search for spiraling punctuation.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

June 12, 2006

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
This is what David, a photographer and visionary thinker, saw when he reached for the last tissue in the box.  He calls it "Georgia O’Kleenex."


Photo by David Friedman.  Thanks, David!
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Bluffing

My informant relaxed, having fallen for the oldest trick in the book—the one about pretending you know more than you do.
—Rosemary Edghill, Bell, Book, and Murder (1994)

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June 11, 2006

Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)

Saint Valetude
Patron of Mysterious Symptoms.

Saint Valetude was listless most of her short life, though doctors were never able to diagnose her illness.  Her followers, known as "The Weak in Spirit," died out for no apparent cause.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

Illustration from Science Toys You Can Make With Your Kids.
This homemade radio might be just the thing for picking up The Threepenny Opera
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June 10, 2006

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed that Napoleon waved at me.

Then I dreamed that John Irving called me a "good old semicolon," as he did in THE WORLD ACCORDING TO GARP.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .

June 9, 2006

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
The Bio-Mechanics of Loneliness

A caged parrot is in one room, a microwave oven in another.  

The microwave emits a beep every thirty seconds...

alerting the fact that it still holds a cup of reheated coffee.  

The parrot mimics each beep in turn, a forlorn whistle to a distant stranger.  

Two-second expressions of loneliness and abandonment...

Like bio-mechanical clockwork.

Something was left here... it's getting cold.

---------

The composer Ken Clinger wrote a song based upon this vignette of mine about the parrot mimicing the microwave.  Here are the lyrics that Ken came up with:

deep beneath the feathers, dwells a consciousness intact
memories of amazon, the jungle world of past

dwelling in this northern clime, a solitary life
a solitary parrot, lonely quiet for its plight

humans come and humans go, but they make no impression
daydreams in the silence, as time makes its own progression

but something in the here and now, is calling for attention
another room, a microwave, demanding intervention

(beep beep) i'm signaling
(beep beep) is any-one there
(beep beep) i'm waiting waiting
(beep beep) does any-one care

(beep beep) i've done my duty
(beep beep) i've made it hot
(beep beep) the time's increasing
(beep beep) the heat is not

what is that motion, deep in the parrot musing
something touching time and

what is that calling, beyond the jungle daydream,
signals hinting meaning

an urgent message, something has been forgotten
something losing heat and

i feel connected, i feel a newborn kinship
calling, begging for re-sponse

microwave with parroting, a consciousness intact
looping forward endlessly, a symbiotic pact

combined they trigger something, unexpected ringing true
it starts to gain momentum, with the power to renew

re-verberating outward, waves vibrating form a core
flowing out into a world, not knowing what's in store

[Here's a link to an mp3 of Ken's recording.]
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

June 8, 2006

Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Blindness

[A]t least he didn’t choose blindness, which is the oldest and weakest
 trick in the book.
—Thomas Alton Gardner, Confessions of a Corporate Spy (2004)

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June 7, 2006

Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)

Saint Trigo
Patron of Oblique Triangles.

A former mathematician, Saint Trigo beseeched the Trinity for a miracle, or as he put it, "a sine or a cosine."  He received a vision of oblique triangles, took a vow of silence, and dedicated the rest of his life to discovering the "right angle" to approach God.  Some have speculated that Saint Trigo's quietude inspired the novelist Stephen White to write the following phrase in his book Harm's Way:

"oblique triangles of muted illumination"

Though some considered Saint Trigo's writings "obtuse" or "veering off on wild tangents," his dedication to the Trinity had no parallel.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .


Strange Dreams (permalink)
I dreamed that my mother and I went to some sort of retreat held in a rickety old house and led by a woman best described as an old sorceress or witch.  The majority of her regular followers were female children (though there were dozens of adults at this retreat as well), and her retreats involved starving yourself for six days in the dead of winter, the only heat derived from huddling together.  I said to one of the girls, "I imagine that the fasting gets easier as it goes along," and she replied that it gets worse until it's over.  The girls were all very skinny, and I remarked to myself how frequent six-day fasts were likely to stunt a child's growth.  One of the participants was a celebrity that Mom and I quickly recognized: the man who played the father on the American t.v. sitcom "Diff'rent Strokes."  Mom jumped up and said to him, "You need to give me a hug."  At first he didn't seem to hear her and started to sit down, but then her words registered in his ear and he jumped back up to embrace her.  Then he saw me, and while he gave me a hug I was aware that he was smelling my hair.  He seemed so delighted by our hug that he gave me a second one, again smelling my hair.  I assumed that the shampoo I had used still smelled good.  Mom whispered to me, "Tell him about Stig Helmer."  I realized that he bore an uncanny resemblance to the actor who played Stig Helmer in the Danish television series "The Kingdom."  I wasn't sure what anecdote Mom wanted me to share, so I stammered for a few moments about Stig Helmer being one of my favorite characters in film and how this actor looked just like him.  (The actor who played Stig Helmer passed away recently, but I failed to mention that fact.)  The next thing I remember, the witch is calling everyone to together to go to sleep.  I realize that I haven't brought a blanket or pillow, so I scramble around the house looking for a quilt to lie on.  I finally find a blanket and join the group, imagining how hard the floor is going to feel.  The witch walks around the room singing an eerie song to initiate sleep.  I think her lyrics are masterful.  Rather than lulling us into dark oblivion, she calls upon us to actively see through closed eyes the light of the dream world.  I am lying on my side, with my head cradled on my bent arms.  As the witch continues to roam the room and sing, I hear her kneeling down by my head to touch each of my palms with a finger and spread them apart slightly.  I somehow know that this is another aspect of her sleep technique.  However, I have a bit of trouble falling asleep.  After the song ends and the witch leaves, the room is not quiet.  Clearly, there are others who have not fallen asleep either.  I open my eyes to see several people up and moving about.  One man sits at an elaborate desk decorated with all sorts of statues and carvings.  He is typing on a computer keyboard, and with each strike of a key one of the statues animates, turning its head or moving its mouth as if to talk or sing.  I realize that I am lying next to the "Diff'rent Strokes" actor.  We snuggle for warmth, and he rests his hand between my legs.  The next thing I know, everyone in the room is standing up, bumping and grinding, and giving each other haircuts with electric clippers.  I realize that virtually everyone had had long, hippie-style hair, and now everyone is sporting buzz cuts.  People come up to one another and, in disbelief of the transformation, say, "So and so, is that really you?"  When the witch comes into the room alerted by the hubbub, I expect her to be upset, but she doesn't seem to be.  I get the feeling that the retreat is over, and I look around a bit for my toothbrush to freshen my sour mouth before leaving (though I never can find it).  As I leave, I walk past the witch's room.  I see her lying in bed, and I bow to her, feeling remarkably free and happy.  She says, "Don't you know who I am?" over and over again, like an echo in which each repeated phrase is quieter than the last.  Then I realize that the witch is dead, and has actually been dead for quite some time.  And then I realize that I have been looking at a photograph of her all along.  On the drive away from the retreat, we pass by an enormous Hindu shrine which is conducting a huge celebration and parade with hundreds of costumed singers, dancers, elephants.  They are singing and playing their music in a modern techno style which sounds marvelous to me, making me feel downright euphoric.  We drive on, though the music doesn't diminish as we gain distance, and I wish that our driver would pull over so we could walk back to the celebration.  The next thing I know, Mom and I are sitting in one of the rooms of the shrine.  They are passing out instruments to everyone in our long row of people.  People who had participated in the celebration many times are being called to perform special roles in the parade.  We are content to sit where we are.  A large crowd has formed outside the shrine to hear us play.  I tell Mom that I had earlier tried to call my aunt dying of cancer, to thank her for these instruments.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .

June 6, 2006

Puzzles and Games :: Constellations (permalink)
Can you find the pictured constellation in this night sky?  Click the image for the answer and a nifty quotation.


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June 5, 2006

Inflationary Lyrics (permalink)
SONG: Penny For Your Thoughts
ARTIST: Tavares

ORIGINAL LYRIC:

Penny for your thoughts, a nickel for a kiss
A dime if you tell me that you love me

ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION:

Penny for your thoughts, a nickel for a kiss
A quarter if you'll talk to the reporter
* Payphones used to take dimes, but now they take quarters.  Isn't it time to update song lyrics to reflect the realities of inflation?  Alas, it's vastly easier to rhyme the word "dime" than the word "quarter," but here at Inflationary Lyrics Headquarters we have risen to the challenge.  Please join the fun and share your own inflationary lyrics, with both the "before" and "after" versions!
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June 4, 2006

Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Blame the Victim

—Lorraine Delia Kenny, Daughters of Suburbia (2000)
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June 3, 2006

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)

grammar.ccc.commnet.edu
I dreamed I was a comma again, this time setting off a phrase as an entity, at the same time emphasizing the coherence of the preceding and following terms.  Then I was in heaven, and had become a mark to indicate a pause to take a breath.  I reminded readers everywhere to BREATHE!  I felt so important (though not conceited).

While in heaven, I saw the face the Creator.

Then I dreamed about "magnificent sentences" penned by "an aristocrat of letters" whose "baroque semicolons and rolling phrases rumble like drums," exactly as described in TERROR AND LIBERALISM by Paul Berman.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .

June 2, 2006

Strange Dreams (permalink)
Some people liken the Yin-Yang symbol to two interlocked fish, each with an eye of the opposite color.  I recently dreamed that I was, in essence, the light eye of the dark fish.  I was visiting a shop in an old downtown setting, the entrance at the top of a short flight of stairs.  When I walked in the door, the owners (three men, standing together talking in an aisle near the door) eyed me with great interest, and I got the impression that they found it significant that I had returned.  One of them perhaps even said "Welcome back," though if not then the feeling was the same.  This shop was an emporium of darkness.  However, it wasn't how one might picture a Voudou shop or Hollywood-style den of devil-worshippers.  There was absolutely no feeling of the Christian definition of "evil" here.  This was a place devoid of dualistic judgments.  It was simply and purely the stuff of darkness.  It was like any typical shop, with rows of display shelves, only more dimly lit in a purplish or ultraviolet glow, with gothic velvet curtains and the like.  The patrons moved about the store very quietly and slowly, with a sense of awe or at least propriety.  I walked through the displays with increasing fascination and with a feeling of immense happiness.  The store will full of amazing artifacts behind glass, such as figurines from different cultures and time periods (I was particularly impressed by the gargoyles and other grotesqueries) and elaborately bound ancient books of a sacred nature.  There was a lifetime of wisdom available here.  The more I looked, the more I dreamed of running such a shop myself, convinced that such a venture would be incredibly successful.  I had a sense that the owners were watching me or at least eager to speak with me, and at some point I decided to slip out.  Upon leaving the shop and standing on the street outside, my dream became lucid.  I started to feel slightly fearful of the neighborhood, but since I knew that I was dreaming, I knew that I could fly away if I wanted to, so I did.  Why do I say that I was the light eye in the dark fish?  I was not the darkness itself, but I was surrounded by it and an integral part of it.  I felt at home there, and immeasurably peaceful.  The darkness, I suppose, made my light all the brighter.  Being free of dualistic labels was a revelation.  The artifacts were not, as one might have instinctively said, evil, ugly, horrific, or disturbing.  They were perfect--that's all.  Why did I become fearful upon leaving the shop?  I don't know.  Perhaps the light/dark balance was offset the farther I went from the shop?
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .

June 1, 2006

Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)

Saint Gian Acque
Patron of Abominable Taste.

Saint Gian Acque was recognized by his devotion to checked jackets, excess ornamentation, lentils, gilt papers, and scented candles.  It is believed that "The Pope of Trash" (a.k.a. "The King of Bad Taste" and "The Sultan of Sleaze") John Waters took his name from Gian Acque.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .


Strange Dreams (permalink)
I've always loved the ellipsis as a symbol of textual silence.  Here's an account of a surreal dream of being an ellipsis, from the Will Type for Food blog:

Am suffering from constant nightmares.  I dream I am an ellipsis, coming at the end of a long short story (or possibly a short long story) by a famous author, possibly Borges.  The story is also a single sentence.  I always wake up, yelling hysterically, and crying; wondering what is to come next.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .



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Original Content Copyright © 2014 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.