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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November 30, 2008

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

by Raymond

Beyond the Rainbow with the Mantis Shrimp

Imagine distinguishing a dozen primary colors, seeing ultraviolet and infrared, and perceiving six different types of polarized light. For the giant Mantis shrimp of Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the world is colorful beyond human imagination. Reuters reports a new study by Swiss and Australian marine biologists, suggesting that Mantis shrimps need to detect minute changes in color and polarization to detect nearly invisible prey in murky seawater. They probably also use color to send sexual signals during mating. The scientific report is available online at the Public Library of Science Journal.


by CybersamX.
Mantis Shrimp Waits

The typical mantis shrimp has emerald green eyes and a pale green or orange body, with bright yellow outlines.

FUN FACTS:

  • Mantis shrimp have the fastest kick in the animal kingdom: 75 feet per second. They can punch a hole through aquarium glass.
  • Mantis shrimp are named for their resemblance to the praying mantis insect.
  • Their coloration varies to match their habitats. The golden mantis is green when it dwells in sea grasses but tan in sandy areas. The crevice-dwelling rock mantis varies from dark green to black.
  • Mantis shrimp tend to be active hunters at night.


by sandstep

Here are some color palettes inspired by the Mantis shrimps:

Shrimp Grassshrimp with gems
Shrimp PrimpShrimp


by Jelantique

[Read the entire article in my guest blog at ColourLovers.com.]

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


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)

From the inimitable Tom Weller, author of the classic Science Made Stupid, comes this "minim" (the perfect answer to the maxim):
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .

November 29, 2008

The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #24:

"Experiential knowledge can be certain and perhaps even is the only certainty, as so many philosophers have thought."
Abraham Harold Maslow, The Psychology of Science, 2004
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

The sheep coughed in the rough, sere grass of the park, where frost lay bluish in the sockets of the tufts. Across the park ran a path to the wood- gate, a fine ribbon of pink.
—D.H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover, 1928.

* Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.
 
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

November 28, 2008

Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)
The nuns in The Sound of Music ponder, "How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?"

We found the five-step answer in the poem "To Catch a Cloud: Homage to Magritte," anthologized in Rising Tides: 20th Century American Women Poets (1973):

1. Begin with an unruffled lake
2. Wait for a cloud to pass over
3. See the cloud in the lake
4. Reach down and pinch the lake's skin between thumb and forefinger
5. Raise it as you would a silk handkerchief
> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Garrison
Patron of Backpack Guarding.


Photo by cabbit.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .

November 27, 2008

Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator (permalink)


INSTRUCTIONS:
In alternate turns, complete a row, column, or diagonal with three X’s or O’s. Each X and O has a discrete unit of meaning, as detailed in the Dictionary of One-Letter Words. Choose and write a letter meaning alongside each X and O placed in the grid; don’t repeat a letter meaning within the same game. Number each turn on the grid, to establish the linear progression of the story. When the game is finished, use the sequence of key words to construct your story, adding connecting phrases as necessary.

Click here for a printable template.  Thanks to Gary Barwin for inspiration!
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #23:

"The only certainty we have is our knowledge of the inner world.  We are in fact imprisoned in the symbolic realm of the psyche."
Marilyn Nagy, Philosophical Issues in the Psychology of C.G. Jung, 1991
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

by BerylM

Toward the end of the afternoon, a mauve mist veils the avenues so that you do not know where they end, and the unexpected discovery of a wild hyacinth, with its three slender bells of artless blue swaying in the wind, has all the charm of a stolen joy.
—Collette, The Vagabond; translated by Enid McLeod, 1955.

* Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.
 
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

November 26, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
The soul is "that delicate essence that constitutes who we really are and retreats every time an academic enters the room." —Anthony Marais, The Cure
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
"I write so as not to be written.  For many years I was written in my life, I acted out a story.  I suppose I write in order to write others, to operate on the imagination, the revelation, the knowledge of others." —Fogwill, qtd. in Bartleby & Co. by Enrique Vila-Matas (an author well-worth investigating!)

---

Jeff writes:

"I write so as not to be written."  Only eight words, yet they so fluently describe the root of life's discontent: a part in an obtuse play written for sitcom audiences and household pets.  No offense intended toward the pets.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .

November 25, 2008

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Evil is not a primary color. That is the point of the Wachowski brothers' video- arcade treatment of "Speed Racer," insofar as one can be determined. Blue, you can trust. Red and yellow, black and white they're all decent visible wavelengths. It's purple you have to watch out for.

—Jim Emerson, a review of "Speed Racer"

* Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.
 
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #22:

"Debt and taxes are the only certainty."
Victor A Canto, Monetary Policy, Taxation, and International Investment Strategy, 1990
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


One Mitten Manager (permalink)

 
Dedicated to the people of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan — an inspiration to us all.  (This parody was sparked by Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.)
> read more from One Mitten Manager . . .

November 24, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
"Rocky fell asleep, totally exhausted."
Krista Cantrell, Catch Your Dog Doing Something Right, 2004


Artist: André Komatsu.  Via Agente de Arte.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"The dignity of intelligence lies in recognizing that it is limited and that the universe exists outside it." —Fernando Pessoa
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Where the blue of the night / Meets the gold of the day, / Someone waits for me.
—Bing Crosby, Roy Turk & Fred Ahlert, "Where the Blue of the Night," 1931.

* Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.
 
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

November 23, 2008

Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)
From Dr. Boli's Encyclopedia of Misinformation:

"Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” —This hoary folk conundrum reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of evolutionary history. The chicken and the egg are distinct organisms living in a symbiotic relationship.
> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .


Pfft! (permalink)
"The moth bounced against a row of books: pfft, pfft, pfft." —Andrea Barrett, The Voyage of the Narwhal
* 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! . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
As Marcel Bénabou writes in Why I Have Not Written Any of My Books, "Above all, dear reader, do not believe that the books I have not written are pure nothingness.  On the contrary (let it be clear once and for all), they are held in suspension in universal literature."
Enrique Vila-Matas, Bartleby & Co.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #21:

"The present moment: the only certainty.  This night is a single night; and there has never been any other."
Leslie Marmon Silko, Ceremony, 1977
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .

November 22, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
We got a laugh out of Omegaword's call for omitting the apostrophe when a word is missing a letter.

The piece ends with a humorous mention of "infernal punctuation."  Did you know that in Hell, periods wear dresses?  Here's the documentation:

I wish the dresses of the infernal period weren't so elaborate.
G. K. Chesterton, The Secret of Father Brown

Charles Dickens was persecuted by the demonic prongs of the "infernal dash":

Pray take care that they always strike out that infernal dash which I myself have taken out five hundred times.
—a letter to William Henry Wills, his sub-editor

We looked up infernal colons, semicolons, commas, hyphens, question marks, and exclamations, to no avail.  Those marks must all be heavenly.

By the way, don't miss this page about the anatomy of cloud commas.

---

Jeff responds:

Following that anatomy of cloud commas link shouldn't be attempted before breakfast. I did it anyway, eventually arriving at a page titled VERTICAL MOTION - OMEGA EQUATION, where I found an "equation [that] is a presentation of the omega equation where the connection between the contributions to vertical motion and the characteristic cloud configurations can be discriminated."

I deny all allegations that I had anything to do with this so-called Omega Equation, just in case anyone decides to allege it.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


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

by Toulouse Lautrec, courtesy Wikimedia Commons

Loïe Fuller, Illusionist of Light and Color

One of the most spellbinding color illusionists of the last century left her spectators dazzled to near-mystical proportions. Loïe Fuller (1862-1928) was pioneer of choreography and an innovator of theatrical lighting, holding patents for creating color gels and using chemical salts for luminescence. When she took to the stage dressed in flowing silk costumes specially lit according to her own schemes, she transformed into a full-fledged magician. When modern dance founder Isadora Duncan first witnessed Fuller's shape-shifting wizardry, she was bewitched by an alchemy of color and movement that left the impression of a once-in-a-lifetime miracle. Employing only voluminous colored silks illuminated by beams of light, Fuller performed what amounted to a shamanic ritual, convincing her spectators that a sacred metamorphosis was unfolding. Fuller evoked the primal power of the bonfire, depicted the wonder of new life, and enacted the elevation of the soul into boundless essence. Though the experience left Duncan in a state of wordless awe, she couldn't help attempting to account for the sheer magnitude of what she beheld:


Loïe Fuller at the Folies Bergère, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

"Before our very eyes she turned to many-coloured, shiny orchids, to a wavering, flowering sea-flower, and at length to a spiral-like lily, all the magic of Merlin, the sorcery of light, colour, flowing form. What an extraordinary genius! No imitator of Loïe Fuller has ever been able even to hint at her genius! I was entranced, but I realized that this was a sudden ebullition of nature which could never be repeated. She transformed herself into a thousand colourful images before the eyes of her audience. Unbelievable. Not to be repeated or described. Loïe Fuller originated all the changing colours and floating Liberty scarves. She was one of the first original inspirations of light and changing colour. I returned to the hotel dazzled and carried away by this marvelous artist. . . . I was more and more enthusiastic about her marvellous ephemeral art. That wonderful creature—she became fluid; she became light; she became every colour and flame, and finally she resolved into miraculous spirals of flames wafted toward the Infinite." (My Life, pp. 71-72)

The significance of Loïe Fuller's performance can hardly be exaggerated. She embodied the Goddess of Light and the Rainbow, whether under the guise of the Greek Artemis or Iris, the Hindu Uma, the Mayan Ix Chel, the Celtic Brigid, or the Roman Diana. Biographers Richard and Marcia Current called Fuller a "magician of light." Befitting a goddess, Fuller had a paradoxical nature, and she created her own mythology. Her biographers explain:


Loïe Fuller at the Folies Bergère, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

"A tall and lovely sylph in posters and sculptures, she was in reality a rather chubby woman with a fairly plain face. A dance innovator, she possessed no formal training in choreography. Eventually a cofounder of art museums, she had never even seen an art exhibit before going to Paris at the age of thirty. A close and respected associate of some of the most learned men and women in the world, she could claim no institutional education beyond that offered by the common schools of Illinois in the 1860s and 1870s. What she did have, in addition to her winning ways, was a dauntless will to get ahead, together with enough intelligence, resourcefulness, and ingenuity to give effect to that will. . . . She rose to extraordinary heights from a quite modest background. Her accomplishments were such that she might well have been satisfied with an unadorned account of her beginnings. She was not. Once she had achieved celebrity, she knocked several years off her age and made up fantastic tales about what was left of her early years. She created her own myth." (Loïe Fuller: Goddess of Light, 1997.)

What can we learn from Fuller's color magic?

  • Physicality is a limitation only if we allow it to be. Fuller used her earth-mother physique to communicate a sylph-like spirit of the air. Her secrets? Natural, freeform movement and the power of intention.
  • Personal history is a limitation only if we allow it to be. One is only as interesting as one makes oneself, so Fuller invented her own legend. Her secret? Reframing the truth to reveal the fascination.
  • Formal training is less important than resourcefulness and ingenuity. Fuller's secrets? Banishing doubts and asking "What if?"
  • A single silk and a beam of light can unfold a miracle. Fuller created something from nothing. Her secrets? Focusing on simplicity and following her inner guidance.

Before succumbing to breast cancer in 1928, Fuller found herself immortalized on canvas by Toulouse-Lautrec, in verse by Yeats, and on film by Lumiére. Not bad for a girl from a Chicago suburb who marched to her own drummer and followed her own spotlight.

[Read the entire article in my guest blog at ColourLovers.com.]

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

November 21, 2008

Unicorns (permalink)
The folks at the blog Mom's On the Roof Again! explain why they're reading our Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound:

By golly, if there’s a unicorn to be detected anywhere in the Pittsburgh vicinity, you bet I’m all over it.  No unicorn is going to waltz undetected beneath MY nose.
> read more from Unicorns . . .


Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed a secret admirer sent me a love letter.


> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #20:

"A reasonable probability is the only certainty."
—Edgar Watson Howe, qtd. in The Book of Positive Quotations, 2007
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Trotter
Patron of Fleetfootedness.

Also known as "the patron of *flat*footedness, in the Eastern Orthotix Church" [thanks, Jonathan!].


Photo by meadowood.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .

November 20, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Q. What does a Hungarian scientist say upon making a discovery?

A. "Paprika!"

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)
The sail butterfly [Iphiclides podalirius] is migratory.


Artwork by Russian painter Vladimir Kush, via DesignYouTrust.

Jeff writes:

Yesterday, this remarkable painting greeted me first thing in the morning, setting the stage for a most colorful (if not flighty) day. Thanks for sharing!
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"To write," Marguerite Duras remarked, "is also not to speak.  It is to keep silent.  It is to howl noiselessly."
Enrique Vila-Matas, Bartleby & Co.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

The large bulbous nose, the greenish- gray hair and lashes, the gray- white eyes, all had the deathly color of leather buried for centuries in Davy Jones’s locker, and the neatly folled cloth bundle under his arm seemed a mariners’s kit.
—Dawn Powell, The Golden Spur, 1962.

* Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.
 
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

November 19, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
Humorist Jarod Kintz thinks that one-letter words are inflating his typing speed score.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Strange Dreams (permalink)
From the psyche of Jeff:

I dreamed I was a cold fish in a warm solar wind.  Inhabiting four states of matter, I swam in blue northern water below winter's trees, quiescent in the frosty atmosphere where Aurora lives.


Jeff writes:

Very nice! In fact, I'd say it looks better here than it did on my blog. Now I'm getting a little bit sad. In fact, I'm crying. Bitter tears are pooling on the floor, and splashing on my keyboard. My computer is ruined. Now I'm getting a little bit enraged. My forehead is marred with the impressions of the keys on my damaged keyboard. I'm hideous! Why? Why? Why?
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator (permalink)


Tamara writes:

This is great.  I can't wait to try it with my son.
INSTRUCTIONS:
In alternate turns, complete a row, column, or diagonal with three X’s or O’s. Each X and O has a discrete unit of meaning, as detailed in the Dictionary of One-Letter Words. Choose and write a letter meaning alongside each X and O placed in the grid; don’t repeat a letter meaning within the same game. Number each turn on the grid, to establish the linear progression of the story. When the game is finished, use the sequence of key words to construct your story, adding connecting phrases as necessary.

Click here for a printable template.  Thanks to Gary Barwin for inspiration!
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
"I believed that I wanted to be a poet, but deep down I wanted to be a poem."
Enrique Vila-Matas, Bartleby & Co.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

November 18, 2008

Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)


> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #19:

"The only certainty is that community pressure will grow."
Flying Magazine, 1928
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


One Mitten Manager (permalink)

 
Dedicated to the people of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan — an inspiration to us all.  (This parody was sparked by Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.)
> read more from One Mitten Manager . . .

November 17, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
Wilfried Hou Je Bek recently asked us to transcribe this ape call. We used our own Do-Re-Midi system of text-based musical notation. The ape's call is rendered in 8/4 time (eight beats per measure) and lasts six measures. The ape's tones range from a low B to a high G (one octave plus six notes).  For an explanation of the melody line and tone durations, see the Do-Re-Midi specifications.


See a variety of fascinating transciptions in Wilfried's PDF of Wax Chimpatic.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)

Q. What did the carpenter say when invited into the cabinet makers' union?

A. Thanks, but I'm not really a joiner.

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
In a quest to find the greatest number of words contained within any given word, Lacey Echols put our dictionary of one-letter words to the test.  How did we measure up?

Even though I have a fairly large vocabulary, I do not know many words which are one-letter words.  Ask me to identify three- and four-letter words, and I am at ease.  One letter?  The only common single letter words are "a" and "I"!  However, I was fortunate to hear about a book which could be my saving grace, One Letter Words--A Dictionary, by Craig Conley.  I felt my confidence begin to soar because with the help of this dictionary I should easily be able to count all one-letter words in any given word, or could I?  Being a bit of a skeptic, I tested my skill with the word "ait".  "I" and "a" are legitimate, but what about "t"?  Sure enough, Mr. Conley provides 58 instances in which "t" is used as a word.  As an example, "it suits you to a T" uses "t" as a word.  Hallelujah!  But "ait" is a fairly simple word.  What about "Mozambique"?  I feel a time-consuming project ahead.  Actually, the dictionary is foolproof.  There are thirty-five examples using the word "z" and even twenty-seven examples of the word "q".

Read the full article: "My Visit to Grant's Tome," Word Ways: The Journal of Recreational Linguistics, Aug. 2007.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

November 16, 2008

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed I arrived at a pajama party in fancy dress; I was mortified.


 
Thanks to the Serif of Nottingblog for featuring this piece earlier.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
"To call a story a true story is an insult to both art and truth.  Every great writer is a great deceiver." —Vladimir Nabokov, Lectures on Literature
> read more from The Right Word . . .

November 15, 2008

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

by permanently scatterbrained

The Girl with the Multicolored Hair

Text by Jeff at Omegaword, palettes by COLOURlovers

The last time I saw the girl with the multicolored hair, she was following sunbeams through the kitchen door and ran, laughing, out into the world to find another bright friend.

The last time I saw the girl with the multicolored hair, she flew above the treetops where the wind blows warm, and clouds were not allowed to interfere with such a perfect sky.

The last time I saw the girl with the multicolored hair, she sang to the sparrows and the green, green grass, and rain was always welcome, but only after noon.

rainbow hair
Hair
Hairspray
Hairdo
hairspray
Hair Madness

[Read the entire article in my guest blog at ColourLovers.com.]

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


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"For pygmies, if you don't fall down laughing, your laughter is incomplete."
—Enrique Vila-Matas, Montano's Malady
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

November 14, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
We're gobsmacked by all sorts of praise this week:

The Serif of Nottingblog covers our eccentric illustration of the "punctuational theory of evolution," whimsically saying, "[T]he Abecedaring lexiconleyjurer and abcderial visualist, Craig Conley ... is an astonishingly inabecedefatiguable creator and investigator of the world of language: written, visual, and conceptual."

Anima Tarot covers our short talk on magician Jeff McBride's secret of mastering time: "[A] presentation given by magic scholar and linguist extraordinaire, Craig Conley ... greatly increased my admiration for the artistry of this gifted magician [McBride]."

Speaking of that short talk, Martha delightfully tells us we remind her of her favorite professor from college, who could find Greek gods in butter ads!  And Ferdinando suggests that our soft-spoken yet confident style recalls someone "channeling a 'higher entity.'"

The ever-intriguing Social Fiction kindly covers our diagram of all history contained in a single note of music.

And belated thanks to Steve Vander Ark's Harry Potter Lexicon for calling our Magic Words: A Dictionary "a very impressive collection of magic words from all over the world."
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
"Every hope is an egg that may produce a serpent instead of a dove." —Henry Frédéric Amiel, Amiel's Journal

---

Jeff writes:

This is a quandary.  Whether the serpent came first, or the egg, the question was easy on the mind.  Now there's a new wildcard in town, and I'm tormented by the thought of rich, dark chocolate.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Chuck
Patron of High Rolls.


Photo by Hell'sCook.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .

November 13, 2008

Precursors (permalink)
From our "Magic Words" outpost at Blogger:

Don't miss this clip of our eccentric short talk entitled "Jeff McBride and His Precursors," in which we trace one stage magician's effect on art backwards through time.
> read more from Precursors . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Perpetuation of the specious.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

With his red and blue pencil the blue- eyed, red- faced official made little crosses here and there on the papers, showing Krug where to sign.
—Vladimir Nabokov, Bend Sinister, 1947.

* Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.
 
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

November 12, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"For pygmies, if you don't fall down laughing, your laughter is incomplete."
—Enrique Vila-Matas, Montano's Malady
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #18:

"The search for absolute certainty in nature is a fruitless search, because the only certainty is uncertainty, according to the law of uncertainty."
Keith N. Ferreira, Uncertaintyism, 2005

---

Cuc writes:

This certainty is more accurate than #2 mentioning change, or #3 mentioning movement, change and metamorphosis. There is a difference between these concepts and #18 that I like to clarify.

This certainty #18 calls it rightfully the "Law of Uncertainty". This does not necessarily refer to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle. There is a vaster Law of Uncertainty. It does not mean that everything is uncertain, but that there is a  flip side to Uncertainty, namely Opportunity. So, if there is a Law of Uncertainty, then there is a Law of Opportunity, which states that it is certain (#19 ?) that Opportunities will occur for anything determined by a will towards the future (see #12). This Law of Uncertainty is therefore the only Law that can be used in our advantage by using the will, despite the fact that humanity seems to prefer certainty (as the title of this page suggests).

Change and Metamorphosis are not really certain, because the perception of these is subjective. The concepts attached to change and metamorphosis are not as absolute as the Law of Uncertainty. Opportunities arise because of the will and one could call the appearance of an opportunity a change, a phase in the metamorphosis. But more elementary, the Law of Uncertainty has provided the opportunity for these to occur.
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .

November 11, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
We just learned that Dutch one-letter words are bigger than English ones!  When you hold up our dictionary of one-letter words to the Dutch equivalent, the hugeness difference is unmistakable!  However, we understand that size isn't as important as synergy.


> read more from The Right Word . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
A sign at the Accelerator: "Not responsible for lost particles."

(Thanks, Mike!)
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"To know oneself well is a bore and leads nowhere."
—Enrique Vila-Matas, Montano's Malady
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


One Mitten Manager (permalink)

 
Dedicated to the people of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan — an inspiration to us all.  (This parody was sparked by Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.)
> read more from One Mitten Manager . . .

November 10, 2008

Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator (permalink)


Dedicated to Marko.
INSTRUCTIONS:
In alternate turns, complete a row, column, or diagonal with three X’s or O’s. Each X and O has a discrete unit of meaning, as detailed in the Dictionary of One-Letter Words. Choose and write a letter meaning alongside each X and O placed in the grid; don’t repeat a letter meaning within the same game. Number each turn on the grid, to establish the linear progression of the story. When the game is finished, use the sequence of key words to construct your story, adding connecting phrases as necessary.

Click here for a printable template.  Thanks to Gary Barwin for inspiration!
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #17:

"The sole certainty of existence — sorrow."
Frank Northen Magill, Critical Survey of Poetry, 1984
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Violet hills and burnt umber buttes rested in their still American places like novels on Zane Grey’s bookshelf.
—Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, 1977.

* Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.
 
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

November 9, 2008

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

by Nina H

Seeing Colors Through Rose-Tinted Glasses

Thine is the heritage of the world, thine the task of moulding destinies, thine the privilege of seeing all things through rose-coloured glasses.
Charles W. Wood, The Argosy

"To see the world through rose-colored glasses" is an idiom referring to a positive outlook colored by naivety or sentimentality. As feminist commentator Pamela Varkony puts it, "Looking at the world through rose colored glasses makes for a pretty picture, but not an accurate one." To be sure, one famous drawback of rose-colored glasses is that not everything that appears red is objectively red. Hence, the lovelorn are cautioned against wearing them: "When we are in love, or when we want to be in love, we sometimes see the world through rose-colored glasses and don't spot the red flags" (Christine Hassler, 20 Something, 20 Everything, p. 224). Sightseers are also advised against wearing rose-colored glasses while on holiday: in Alaska, you'll miss seeing the Northern Lights; in Australia, Mount Uluru will be invisible; in Bermuda, you could sunburn and not know it; in Switzerland, the Matterhorn will appear bright pink. Rose-colored glasses are likely rarely abused at the Grand Canyon, where at close of day the sky turns purple, the sun glows orange, and the clouds blush pink.

Rose-Colored Glasses

Whimsy aside, although the exact origin of the idiom has been lost in the "rose-coloured mist" of time (Charles Dickens, Little Dorrit, 1856), we can speculate that it may reference the sanguine light of sunset, when the world is momentarily bathed in rosy radiance. That healthy glow is soon followed by twilight blindness and then impenetrable darkness—hence the air of suspicion. Ironically, though, private investigators and varmint hunters assure us that red lenses help the eyes adjust to low lighting and improve one's night vision. That's because red lenses filter out lower wavelengths and reveal a brighter panorama. So the poetic caution against rose-colored glasses would appear to be ill-conceived.


by Malingering.

Indeed, Dr. John Izzo suggests that figurative rose-colored glasses can be a practical tool enabling starry-eyed romantics to pinpoint their ideals and pursue them with focus. He explains: "Usually meant as an insult, [seeing the world through rose-colored glasses] is a way of saying that someone is a bit too innocent, that he or she sees the world with too much optimism. The intimation is straightforward: Wake up and smell the coffee. Some people see the world through other kinds of glasses—cynical glasses—and surely the lenses they choose color their experiences. When it comes to rediscovering wonder and innocence . . . few decisions are more critical than choosing your glasses" (Second Innocence: Rediscovering Joy and Wonder, p. 73). Dr. Izzo seems to be suggesting that in the absence of adopting some sort of rosy focal point, one is likely to see a world limited to depressing shades of grey. It's true that "the particular glasses we wear reflect how we analyze and interpret what we see" (John Peter Rothe, Undertaking Qualitative Research, p. 137), just as the microscopic lens unlocks a richness of detail. These glasses symbolize what Prof. Jerry Griswold calls "forcible shifts in perspective, techniques for seeing things differently." Prof. Griswold cites The Wizard of Oz, "in which Dorothy and her companions put on green glasses before entering Emerald City, and then marvel at how green everything looks. In Pollyanna, however, the equivalent image is, significantly, not rose-colored glasses, but the prism. When the girl hangs dozens of these in the windows of Mr. Pendleton's house, we see something more than her transformation of his gloomy room into a rainbow-spangled place. We see how she has changed him in her prismatic shifts of perspectives. It is her pointing to a spectrum of possibilities, her reminding him of his freedom to choose, which leads Mr. Pendleton to conclude that Pollyanna is 'the very prism of all'" (Audacious Kids, p. 235).

rose-colored times

In her book Scraps of Life, the poet Carol Loy Miller offers an intriguing perspective on rose-colored glasses which helps to illuminate Dr. Izzo's point. Miller invites us to imagine the world looking back at us through our rose-colored glasses, reflecting back scenery that has been painted "with the themes and colours we seek" (p. 68). Miller intimates that rose-colored glasses bring definition to the constraints of our world so that we can find our own room for expansion.

Rose-Colored World

Rose-colored glasses invite us to make a distinction between illusion and idealism, between nostalgia for a lost Eden and inspiration for a new Utopia. As Prof. Griswold notes, "it is possible to remain innocent without being ignorant." While critics fear donning blinders of false optimism, proponents embrace filtering out defeatist views. People like Carol Loy Miller see rose-colored glasses as a means for new levels of self-awareness and new avenues for transformation. The glasses could be likened to virtual reality goggles, allowing the user to preview a bright world of possibility. Along those lines, one might consider rose-colored glasses the perfect accessory to a set of blueprints. For at the end of the day, the "real world" is only as colorful as we decide to make it—the glow of sunset notwithstanding.


by Malingering


by Wonderlane


by Ms Oddgers

[Read the entire article in my guest blog at ColourLovers.com.]

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


The Right Word (permalink)
"To recall with a memory that is not our own is ... a perfect metaphor for literary experience."
—Enrique Vila-Matas, Montano's Malady
> read more from The Right Word . . .

November 8, 2008

Strange Dreams (permalink)
Jeff shares a fun bit of leapfrog inspiration:

It certainly isn't the first time I've been inspired by Craig Conley's unparalleled handiwork, but I don't recall ever having been inspired in such parallel fashion. Imaginary saints are one thing; strange dreams make it two.

Last night I dreamt about Saint Egolatría, patron of poorly planned head trips.  In my dream, she held the map I had so carelessly left on my dresser while she chided me for being self-absorbed, and arrogant.  She said my deeply flawed personality was at the root of many fiascos, and hoped I might get lost in a bad neighborhood, after dark, with an empty gas tank and no cell phone.

The night before, a series of dreams culminated in a pastiche of patrons, each wearing a color-coded robe to indicate his or her mood.  Saint Añoranza seemed petulant at first, but this later turned out to be due to a wardrobe malfunction.  For their grand finale, all the patron saints locked arms for a rousing rendition of Hey Bulldog.

Three encores later, a bikini-clad penguin brought the curtain down.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: spoons or forks?

Clue:  This is according to someone dissatisfied with his job at a marketing company.

Answer:  Spoons.  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  John Kowalik, “Being John Kowalik,” JohnKowalik.com (April 25, 2007)
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #16:

"The only certainty we have is that there is no (rational) certainty attainable."
Charles Augustus Strong, The Origin of Consciousness, 1918
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .

November 7, 2008

Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Terricloth
Patron of Charming Drunks.


Artwork by pavee lackeen.

---

Jeff writes:

That would have to be Saint Egolatría, patron of poorly planned head trips.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .


Strange Dreams (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


 
 
Inspired by the writing of J. Karl Bogartte.

---

Jeff writes:

A strange series of dreams culminating in a pastiche of patrons, each wearing a color-coded robe to indicate his or her mood.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .

November 6, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"See far enough inside yourself for your style not to be able to follow you." —Henri Michaux
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

by Ruud!

I’m sitting in my mother’s arms in a brown aura of gloom sent up by her bathrobe it has cords hanging, like the cords in movies, bellrope for Catherine Empress, but brown, hanging around the bathrobe belt . . . old Chrismas morning bathrobe with conventional diamonds or squares design, but the brown of the color of life, the color of the brain, the gray brown brain, and the first color I noticed after the rainy grays of my first views of the world in the spectrum from the crib so dumb.
—Jack Kerouac, Dr. Sax, 1959.

* Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.
 
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

November 5, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
The Serif of Nottingblog discovered the exact point at which writing becomes one-dimensional (with illustration and witticism).
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
"A bit of mica glimmering in a crevice of the pavement suggests its story of the many feet that have passed over it; the tiny wildflowers peeping through the lush grass along a forest pathway whisper intimate secrets of the woods; a cobweb spun within the belfry of an old church reveals its mysterious hieroglyphs."
—Jessie Lemont, "The Fairy Folk of Dugald Stewart Walker," The International Studio, 1914
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"But the world of theatre had changed.  Rough Theatre was out."
Simon Callow, Being an Actor


An open-air cinema in a Russian forest, part of an abandoned ionospheric research station.

---

Regarding the source of the photo, Jeff responds:

DRB sure is a lot of fun! Thanks for putting up the link.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

November 4, 2008

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed I went on a silence retreat.


Collage by Genevieve Dionne.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #15:

"The ethical is the only certainty, to concentrate upon this the only knowledge that does not change into a hypothesis at the last moment, to be in it the only secure knowledge."
—Johannes Climacus (Soren Kierkegaard), Concluding Unscientific Postscript, 1846
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


One Mitten Manager (permalink)

 
Dedicated to the people of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan — an inspiration to us all.  (This parody was sparked by Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.)
> read more from One Mitten Manager . . .

November 3, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
From our outpost at Blogger:

We're delighted to announce that imagery we curated for the book Magic Archetypes: The Art Behind the Science of Conjuring appears (in animated form) in the new Eugene Burger documentary A Magical Vision by filmmaker Michael Caplan.  See a preview of the film on YouTube.


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


The Right Word (permalink)
One-letter word mania continues to spread around the globe.  Diedrik van der Wal's dictionary of Dutch one-letter words is now in print.  See sample pages at his website.


> read more from The Right Word . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator (permalink)


INSTRUCTIONS:
In alternate turns, complete a row, column, or diagonal with three X’s or O’s. Each X and O has a discrete unit of meaning, as detailed in the Dictionary of One-Letter Words. Choose and write a letter meaning alongside each X and O placed in the grid; don’t repeat a letter meaning within the same game. Number each turn on the grid, to establish the linear progression of the story. When the game is finished, use the sequence of key words to construct your story, adding connecting phrases as necessary.

Click here for a printable template.  Thanks to Gary Barwin for inspiration!
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"These are not coincidences; somewhere there is a relation that from time to time sparkles through a worn fabric." —W.G. Sebald
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Cold- hearted orb that rules the night / Removes the colors from our sight / Red is gray and yellow white / And we decide which is right / And which is an illusion?
—Justin Hayward & Graeme Edge (The Moody Blues), "Nights in White Satin," 1967.

* Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.
 
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

November 2, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
The delightful Serif of Nottingblog offers this diagram of a raw book:


See full-size version at Gary Barwin's "Serif of Nottingblog."
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Unicorns (permalink)
A whimsical bit of misinformation from DR. BOLI’S ANIMAL ALPHABET:

U is for the Unicorn,
Who lived in mythic fantasies of old.
            This beast was born
            With just a single horn,
A total count of one, all told.
Alas, the Unicorn’s no more:
To moderns, who learn science in the crib,
            The myths of yore
            Are nothing but a bore;
The Unicorn is just a fib.

Also don't miss Dr. Boli's explanation of a unicorn's chief source of income.
> read more from Unicorns . . .


Pfft! (permalink)
"Of course, the audience was full of the most dreadful people imaginable, and all these balloons were going pfft, pfft, pfft." —Elton John, The Rolling Stone Interviews
* 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! . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #14:

"The only absolute, the only certainty, the only universal, is God."
Sallie McFague, Life Abundant, 2001
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .

November 1, 2008

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

by same same

The Controversy of Naked Colors

"It was color as such, naked color, unabashedly itself, and assertively dominant."—Elizabeth Frank, Esteban Vicente

So-called "naked colors" expose a stark naturalness that many viewers would consider titillating or indiscreet. Naked colors invite the viewer to peek into an intimate range of wavelengths that yield a profoundly sensual impression and uncover a hidden truth. Naked colors embody what the French phenomenological philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty calls "interpenetration," wherein the fine line between a public arena and a private one starts "gaping open" (qtd. in Henry James and the Philosophical Novel, by Merle A. Williams, 1993). In other words, Merleau-Ponty is suggesting that a naked color on a visible surface can serve to lead the imagination toward something typically not visible.

Naked colors appear in the art world and the natural world. The red and gold Santa Rita mountains and the violet Catalina mountains of Arizona display a "wild bright beauty" of "naked color" (Glenn Hughes, Broken Lights: A Book of Verse, 1920). In the springtime in London's city parks, flower bulbs "break against the renewing grass in naked colour" (David Piper, The Companion Guide to London, 1983). In the Dutch painter Pieter Mondrian's later work, he focused his attention to "'naked' color dynamics: patches of pure red, yellow and blue held in place by a grid of black lines (Jon Thompson, How to Read a Modern Painting, 2006). In the world of fashion, "naked color turns into decorationism" (Marc Chagall, Marc Chagall on Art and Culture, 2003). However, quantum physicists tell us that "naked colour is never to be seen" in quarks (Nigel Calder, Magic Universe: The Oxford Guide to Modern Science, 2003).

[Read the entire article in my guest blog at ColourLovers.com.]

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


The Right Word (permalink)
"To speak in book means to read the world as if it were the continuation of a never-ending text."
—Enrique Vila-Matas, Montano's Malady
> read more from The Right Word . . .



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