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.
April 30, 2008

Book of Whispers (permalink)

A book of secrets by Keri.
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .


Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed I waited for a bus that never did arrive.


A semicolon bench in Portland.  Photo by Mizrobot.  See also this photo by Switthoft.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
"Every series of letters has a meaning waiting to be found."
Geof Huth


A tabula recta in Berlin, photographed by mrrittenhouse.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

April 29, 2008

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)

Image source.
Encarta covered our Semicolon's Dream Journal this week.  In her witty and mirthful defense of the semicolon, columnist Martha Brockenbrough, author of Things That Make Us (Sic), wrote:

Best, however, is the advocacy of Craig Conley, America's most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation. To wit: Conley has created a punctuation mark (the rhetorical question mark), he has written a book of one-letter words, and he is so closely related to the semicolon's spirit that he has been appointed official keeper of its dream journal.

That's right, all you haters. The semicolon has dreams: dreams of rest and relaxation at Semicolon Lakes, of conversations about Shakespeare with the mischievous Puck, and even -- gasp -- of the nightmare that is semicolon cancer.

As Conley explained his close relationship with the semicolon, "I first dreamed that I was a semicolon when I was 6 years old. I vividly recall the uncanny experience of being frozen betwixt two closely related sentences. They called me 'the Go-Between.' In my dream, the words all glowed with an otherworldly green life force. Little surprise, then, that when I got my first IBM PC a decade later, typing my first glowing green semicolon brought the dream rushing back. For the past two decades, I've kept a dream journal from the semicolon's point of view."

Conley is happy when semicolons visit not just his dreams, but his discourse. He agrees with the music essayist Steven Harvey, who said in "Bound for Shady Grove" that the semicolon creates a "ringing emptiness" that "clears a space," a space for sacred silence that seals thoughts together. And he quotes Jesus Urzagasti from "In the Land of Silence," who said semicolons give us the air we need.

It's true, Conley said, that semicolons are asymmetrical. Beauty and symmetry are traditionally linked. But who doesn't admire the crooked Venus de Milo, who is one decapitated head away from being a sculptural semicolon herself?

Read the full article here.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


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

Image source.  Via ffffound.
I learned about this destination in "Treble + Leisure Magazine."
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Fast asleep. Singing birds in their leafy cover / Cannot wake her, nor shake her the gusty blast. / Under the purple thyme and the purple clover / Sleeping at last.
—Christina Georgina Rossetti, "Sleeping at Last," 1896.

* 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 . . .

April 28, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)

A new softcover edition of the groundbreaking Magic Words: A Dictionary is available for pre-order at Amazon.com at a 34% discount (plus an additional 5% pre-order discount).  For the skinny on this beguiling reference, see our sister site MysteryArts.com.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
From A Surrealist Dictionary by J. Karl Bogartte:

BOAR: A vessel used for transporting reflections.


Photo by rustic cat.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Strange Dreams (permalink)
"Eventually, the night will be my only companion."
Geof Huth


Photo from The Life of M.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .

April 27, 2008

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

Photo via ffffound.
Is the fashion industry sending negative signals to young women?
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
Information Prose :: A Manifesto in 47 Points :: Version 1.0

by Jeremy P. Bushnell, jeremy@invisible-city.com

39. There is nothing about hypertext that demands that a story incorporating it must be written with forking paths and multiple endings.

40. Hypertext writers who write "closed" hypertexts — works that only contain links to other parts of themselves — deprive hypertext of its most radical feature: the ability to refer to information outside of itself. The bibliography is the model here.

41. Information prose writers should embrace the elements of hypertextuality which aid documentary. Think of the hypertextual features long used by encyclopedias (cross-references).

42. Information prose writers should, furthermore, embrace the elements of multimedia which amplify the power of documentary. Compare an encyclopedia with illustrations to one without. Compare a traditional encyclopedia to Encarta.

43. To put it in the words of a friend: "You can now footnote a sound."

44. Inasmuch as the Web supports hypertextuality and (to a lesser extent) multimedia, the Web helps to make information prose possible.

45. However, the Web is not the only thing that makes information prose possible. Information prose is not dependent on hypertextuality, and hypertextuality is not dependent upon computers. Think of indexes, think of tables of contents, think of the numbers in the corners of pages.

46. Aside from the merits of supporting hypertextuality and multimedia, there are other advantages of writing for the Web, two of the most obvious being the ability to make unlimited copies and the ability to distribute copies worldwide at minimal (or no) expense. These merits have been amply written on elsewhere. There are obvious disadvantages as well. Information prose writers should support and contribute to efforts to overcome these, which will help to secure the Web as a vital medium for their future expression.

47. The present is here. It it time to begin. Pass it on.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

April 26, 2008

Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)


By Linzie Hunter.  Via ffffound.
> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the stars . . .


 
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .

April 25, 2008

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed about a fancy dress party.


Photo by Caroline K.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

by wallyg

A palette nowadays is absolutely colorful: sky- blue, pink, orange, vermillion, strong yellow, clear green, pure wine red, purple. But by strengthening all colors one again obtains calm and harmony; there happens something similar to Wagner’s music which, even though performed by a great orchestra, is nonetheless intimate.
—Vincent van Gogh, in a letter to his sister, as quoted in Post-Impressionism from van Gogh to Gauguin by John Rewald, 1958.

* 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 . . .

April 24, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
From the quipboard of Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:

Have you heard the latest from Fashion Avenue?  A designer is putting out a line of stylish ensembles for philosophers, known as Cartesian Coordinates.  "We were under pressure from our stockholders to rationalize our production process," explains the CEO.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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

by jovike

The Little-Known Meanings of Crazy Color Names vol. 2

We continue our strange and wonderful adventure into the uncharted fringes of language, in search of new "shades of meaning." Colors with seemingly incomprehensible names actually tell fascinating and humorous stories, at least to those who are willing to delve beneath the surface.

The sandy color called chk gray refers to the sound of a shovel pushing through sand: "I listen until my itching subsides, and the nearby scratch of a shovel digging—chk... chk... chk...—is a gentle drumbeat calling me back to life." (Donald W. George, Japan: True Stories of Life on the Road.

CHK_GRAY

The green color called chk-chk-chk echoes the soft, rhythmic call of the Olive Thrush, as described in Birds of Kenya and Northern Tanzania by Dale A. Zimmerman.

chk-chk-chk
photo by Jeremy Hughes
by Jeremy Hughes

The mysterious gray color called clk refers to an expression of anger by a Martian whose flying saucer has just been destroyed by a “little beast with a peppermint stick” (Will Eisner, Comics & Sequential Art).

CLK

The pinkish color called dddd echoes “a loud hammering sound,” as described in Tongue Tie—From Confusion to Clarity: A Guide to the Diagnosis and Treatment of Ankyloglossia by Carmen Fernando.

dddd

The smoky purple color called dlrdn refers to an interjection coined by François Rabelais in the novel Gargantua and Pantagruel, spoken by a native of the imaginary “Lanternland.”

Dlrdn

The light brown color dnnn refers to an incoherent response, as from someone intoxicated. “'You all right? You sick or anything, or just drunk?' 'Dnnn,' said Sandra." (William Kennedy, An Albany Trio.

dnnn

The light purple color called drrr echoes the sound of "door," as spoken by someone “slurring his words out of pure exhaustion,” as in the novel Doona by Anne McCaffrey.

drrrr

The bright green color called fff refers to the sound of a sky rocket fizzing up, as described in “More Than Words” by the New Zealand Ministry of Education.

fff

The even brighter green color called ffff means fortissississimo, a musician’s directive to perform a passage very, very, very loudly.

FFFF

Another green color, called fmp fmp fmmmmp, echoes the sound of a falling body hitting the ground, as in the graphic novel ShadowFall by Kaichi Satake.

fmp_fmp_fmmmmp

All of these color name insights are derived from my Dictionary of Improbable Words, which is available for online reading.

[Read the entire article in my guest blog at ColourLovers.com.]
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the spirit-keeper . . .


 
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .

April 23, 2008

Glued Snippets (permalink)
A collaged story we assembled for a singular June and henceforth dedicate to all the Junes of the world. Click on the thumbnails below to view an enlarged version in a new window.


Page 1: nest egg

Page 2: window

Page 3: owl

Page 4: cave

Page 5: bird

Page 6: doll

Page 7: claws

Page 8: birdhouse

Page 9: window

Page 10: key

Page 11: listening

Page 12: stop

Page 13: doll

Page 14: bird tracks

> read more from Glued Snippets . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"Pike soon closed out his stock of hats and began selling wallpaper."
—Greenfield Ohio Historical Society, Greenfield, Ohio, 1799-1999


Photo by Niandra, of a house in the village of Guardia Sanframondi.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

April 22, 2008

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

Create a personalized certificate.
If you've stumbled upon a lucky penny and have a friend who may be down on his or her luck, print out our free, personalized Transfer of Luck Certificate (inspired by the Lucky Penny web site).  Rendered in fine calligraphy, the certificate is easy to generate and completely free to print in high resolution.

From the certificate:
According to the truths of the Penny Priestess, (1) luck is neither created nor destroyed, (2) copper is an excellent conductor of luck, (3) a falling penny acquires a luck charge coincident with the gravitational pull of the earth, (4) the luck force occurs in discrete but non-quantifiable units, and (5) luck is uncertain. May this transfer of the pennies here attached serve to distribute fortune more equitably.

Create your own Luck Transfer Certificate »
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
"The comma and the apostrophe are one. The comma punctuates the sentence, and the apostrophe punctuates the word."
Geof Huth


Artwork by Tgbusill.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

April 21, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
First came the mischievous Irish Straw Boys, the original party crashers.  Now comes the rascally German "Zerrissen Jungen" (shredded boys), sporting masks of shredded paper.


From The Secret Museum of Mankind.

This photo is actually by Frankfurt's Pixelgarten.  We made up the stuff about "Zerrissen Jungen."
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the spider . . .


 
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .

April 20, 2008

Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Jans
Patron of Closed-Circuit Television.


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


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

At the bottom of the hill, the woods opened suddenly onto a pasture dotted here and there with black and white cows and sloping down, tier after tier, to a broad orange stream where the reflection of the sun was set like a diamond.
—Flannery O’Connor, The River, A Good Man Is Hard To Find And Other Stories, 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 . . .

April 19, 2008

Do-Re-Midi (permalink)
We're proud (and somewhat astonished) to announce the World Premiere of Erik Satie's beguiling 18-hour composition "Vexations," performed in the style of a music box. The poet Chris Piuma requested this unprecedented performance, in anticipation of a cross-country train expedition.

Listener take note: Satie's composition is eerie, mind-bending, and hallucinatory. Please don't play while operating heavy machinery.

What does this highly unusual performance sound like? The first listener likened it to "the uncanny valley between creepy and pleasant, between soothing and agitating, between meditative and disturbing. And I'm sure 15 hours into it I will be in some other state entirely. . . . I've wanted to hear an uninterrupted performance of this piece for over a decade, and now here it is!"

Click above to play streaming version.
The second listener praised music box maestro Ken Clinger for capturing "the continual, unrelieved dissonance, with no obvious sense of direction or tonal centre, and the total chromaticism. I think anyone listening to this for 18 hours and 40 minutes would definitely hallucinate. . . . I suppose it would be curious if for the next 18 hours I kept writing a response. I'm not sure if it would reveal the anguish over unreciprocated affection that I feel listening to this aural Auschwitz. Maybe I should instead podcast. . . . Hours have passed and my hands feel like balloons, my feet like stars, and my hair has turned gray. . . . The 17th repetition I have designated as the Schwarzschild radius. See how slowly I appear to move? Do not be fooled. . . . My elbows tingle in calliopeic sympathy (or that may just be an odd manifestation of the carpal tunnel). . . . I can't stop crying. And laughing."

Fun fact: A music box cylinder containing the full score (with all 840 repetitions) would measure 4,032 inches in diameter (336 feet), which is the same height as the Victoria Tower at London’s Westminster Palace.



In addition to streaming audio, a 63 MB mp3 of "Vexations" is available.

---

Dankitti writes:

18 hours?  The best I could do was Guru Sven, which is only 12 hours. 
> read more from Do-Re-Midi . . .


Glued Snippets (permalink)
A collaged story we assembled for a singular Donna and henceforth dedicate to all the Donnas of the world. Click on the thumbnails below to view an enlarged version in a new window.


Page 1

Page 2: tub

Page 3: shadow puppets

Page 4: farmhouse

Page 5: boy and dog

Page 6: dog

Page 7: girl and dog


> read more from Glued Snippets . . .

April 18, 2008

Colorful Allusions (permalink)
"She felt deflated, like a balloon that's unexpectedly burst."
Prudence Martin, Heart's Shadow


Photo taken in Busan, South Korea.
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed that Geof Huth introduced me to the "areplusand" and the "isplusand."  We gossiped together, but the ampersand's name never came up.


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


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Years pass by and leave things unaltered. The same narrow, red roads run through cotton- and cornfields. The same time- grayed cabins send up threads of smoke from their red- clay chimneys, doorways, and china- berry and crape- myrtle blossoms to drop gay petals on little half- clothed black children.
—Julia Peterkin (1880–1961), “Ashes,” from Green Thursday: Stories by Julia Peterkin, first published in 1924.

* 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 . . .

April 17, 2008

Inflationary Lyrics (permalink)
What band is least likely to have a problem with devalued currency in their lyrics?

Bureau De Change.
* 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 . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)
Her face lit up like a rainbow.


Photo by Chrischa Oswald.
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the Sphinx . . .


 


* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .

April 16, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
The five thousand fingers of Thousand Armed Aval-oak-iteshvara sport one ring for every year of sheltering the suffering.


Full-sized version available at the source.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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

Photo by C.E.B.
The poet Geof Huth offers this lovely commentary on why we notice and in fact need "11:11":

11:11

At certain points in measured time, the world seems to come into alignment, concepts tend to clarify, ideas gel. But we know in our hearts that this is false, that midnight is as meaningless a concept as the idea that a new year begins at a certain second after a particular midnight. We cannot believe fully in these ideas because we understand that we worship and are guided by arbitrary signs created by humans: sequences of numbers, sounds, or letters.

||:||

But we continue to follow these signs because they direct our lives so well. Their meaningless is the source of their meaning and their power. We imbue them with their significance, so we believe them. Even if they become twisted out of shape, we continue to believe them, we continue to see them, we continue to understand them.

||||

We can reduce the information in a sign and still be able to read it, still be able to make sense of it, to add sense to it. We do this to eradicate ambiguity, to make sense. The world is a mass of contradictory signs, so we must choose the ones to read, how to read them, the ones to believe.

::::

In the end, we have only ourselves to blame. We look for symmetry. It pleases us. That is what we like about architecture, a metrical poem, crossword puzzles, seemingly deft plotting in a story. And the only thing that makes the asymmetrical interesting is that it runs counter to an existing symmetry. We need symmetry. We need symmetry to give beauty to the surprisingly asymmetrical.

....

We need 11:11 to find ourselves an idea to play with. We need 11:11 to feel our lives are temporarily in balance. We need 11:11 to feel human.

Without 11:11, the world just runs away from us, untamed, untameable, even unsought.

----------

Sexy Girl responds:

11:11 is my fav time.  To me it represents dimensional unity... like playing two octaves at once on the piano.  Same but different.  Somehow the harmonious moment is magnified when the two are played as one.  Kinda like love relationships are meant to be ... yeah.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

April 15, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
The Typographer and the Dingbat

One fine evening a strolling man heard an exclamation for help from the bottom of a deep well.  "What's the matter?" he called down.

"I am a typographer," came the reply.  "I was taking a slash, dropped my dagger, and descended into this grave."

"Calm down, dear sir, or you'll have a stroke," said the man.

"One moment, please!" called the typographer.  "It's not a stroke; it's a virgule!"

"In that case, I'll go for a long dash," said the man.

"Ellipsis, you dingbat!" cried the typographer, but the man was long gone, and for good.

(We were inspired by a Sufi tale told by Rumi, as collected in Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah.  Our retelling is dedicated to Paul Dean.)
> read more from The Right Word . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
The poet Chris Piuma scours our Dictionary of All-Consonant Words for three obscure, vowelless words from Ezra Pound's "Canto IX" (grnnh! rrnnh, pthg).  Does he find them, or will Pound's curious expressions resist interpretation for another ninety years?  Read about the spirited adventure here.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
I opened the rainbow umbrella
that you gave me
and it colored all the places
where I hide.
Women Poets of the West: An Anthology, 1850-1950


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

April 14, 2008

Inflationary Lyrics (permalink)
The poet Chris Piuma offers this inflationary update to the Minutemen's album title "Double Nickels on the Dime":

Double Bits on the 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 . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)
May all our days and desires
become pure colorful rain-
drops of Mercy.
Geoffrey Oelsner, Native Joy: Poems Songs Visions Dreams 1963-2003


"Divining Light" by Erika SomogyiSource.
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the soul . . .


 


Artwork by Pamela Carriker.  See full size image here.
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .

April 13, 2008

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

by jovike

The Little-Known Meanings of Crazy Color Names

Colors with seemingly incomprehensible names actually tell fascinating and humorous stories, at least to those who are willing to delve beneath the surface. Join me on a strange and wonderful adventure into the uncharted fringes of language, where we'll discover new "shades of meaning."

The chilly blue color called brrrrrrr refers to the "Official State Motto of Alaska," according to humorist Dave Barry (Dave Barry’s Only Travel Guide You’ll Ever Need).

brrrrrrr
photo by Dalephonics
by Dalephonics

With an additional "r," the watery color called brrrrrrrr conjures up the sound of someone shaking water out of his or her ears after crawling out from under a waterfall, as in Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior by Dan Millman.

brrrrrrrr

The green color called bbbbbb echoes a vocal imitation of "a sailing boat in a tub of water," as discussed in Baby Talk: The Art of Communicating with Infants and Toddlers by Monica Devine.

bbbbbbb

The orange color called "bssss bssss" refers to the German word for the buzzing of a bee.

bssss_bssss

The electric green color called bzzt recalls the crackle of a security spotlight turning on, as in Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes by Teddy Marguiles.

bzzt

The bright yellow color called bzzz refers to a deliberately mumbled word, due to passive-aggression (Nancy Scheper-Hughes, Saints, Scholars, and Schizophrenics: Mental Illness in Rural Ireland, Twentieth Anniversary Edition).

BZZZZ

The sanguine color called ccc echoes an ambiguous sound made by someone paralyzed with fear, as in the novel Theo Slugg in Low Spirits by Simon Goswell.

ccc

The tawny color called chchch refers to a sound that Guatemalan village children make to get attention (Jason A. Lubam, “Diary of a Jungle Acupuncturist,” Acupuncture Today).

chchch

With an additional "ch," the smoky purple color called chchchch refers to a French word for musical percussion lacking a definite note (fr.AudioFanzine.com).

chchchch

Add yet another "ch," and the golden color called chchchchch echoes the “guttural unvoiced growl” of a tiger (Metamorphosism.com).

chchchchch

All of these color name insights are derived from my Dictionary of Improbable Words, which is available for online reading.

[Read the entire article in my guest blog at ColourLovers.com.]
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)
"The magic of any gem is dependent upon the magic of the light that gives it life and fire.  Gems are complex things and handle light in complex ways.  Light doesn’t just uneventfully flow through windows as it does through glass, or simple bounce back as from a black-hearted mirror.  Instead it dances impatiently, refracts and reflects.  It comes alive along with the gem.  In a weird way, a gem is a crystal cage that traps the light and makes it fight to escape."

Diane Morgan, Fire and Blood; Rubies in Myth, Magic, and History, 2008
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

April 12, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
From A Surrealist Dictionary by J. Karl Bogartte:

CHAOS: A fleshy, succulant fruit—the seeds of which are often used as umbrellas.


Photo by Gazart.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Unicorns (permalink)
A unicorn soul, as depicted by Andy Kehoe:


Via Vinylpulse.
> read more from Unicorns . . .

April 11, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Fictional Movie Taglines:

Tears in Your Camel Milk: A dromedary dairy drama
(thanks, Mike!)

Camel Milk Journal: A dromedary dairy diary
(thanks, Jonathan!)


> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

One weekend Trout and Eel decided to paint their bedroom blue. The walls were the turquoise of the southern seas, the ceiling was cobalt, the floors indigo, the color of waters so deep and distant, no human had ever seen them before. Here in this room anyone could imagine the sound of waves breaking.
—Alice Hoffman, Indigo, 2002.

* 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 . . .

April 10, 2008

Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)

This piece is in honor of Geof Huth, who measures the value of a poem with a poemometer.  Geof blogged his response:

How Craig Conley (the author of One-Letter Words: A Dictionary) does this, I do not know, but here, after less than a day’s work, are diagrams of three poemometers (based on my reference to same last night). Note that the largest measures the metrical feet (the sounds) against the surrounding silence the poem always fights against. (This one device is not calibrated finely enough to allow for dimeter, but we will do without that as necessary).

The other two poemometers measure performative force and representational truth. Even though being the more sophisticated devices, they are simpler in structure. I am not sure when Craig will have these ready for sale, but I expect it will be soon.
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 . . .


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

Image source.
I'm open to many types of art, but I draw the line at minimalism.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of silence . . .


______

Sara Soares writes:

Wise words.
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .

April 9, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
In an old box, Mama Warhola found Andy's childhood coloring books.


> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
Artist Eric Nykamp strives "to create images of silence."


"Caught Up" by Eric Nykamp.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .

April 8, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)

Photo by Tayler Aubin.
The 19th-century visionary Andrew Jackson Davis predicted the typewriter in 1856, picturing it as a "soul-writer" for poets:

I am almost moved to invent an automatic psychographer; that is, an artificial soul-writer.  It may be constructed something like a piano; one brace or scale of keys to represent the elementary sounds; another and lower tier, to represent a combination; and still another, for a rapid recombination; so that a person, instead of playing a piece of music, may touch off a sermon or a poem!

For his vision of the future automobile, see Futility Closet.

---

Sara Soares writes:

What a brilliant idea!
I'm sure you are the right person to build such a thing.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

They live neath the curtain / Of fir woods and heather, / And never take hurt in / The wildest of weather, / But best they love Autumn she’s brown as themselves / And they are the brownest of all the brown elves.
—Patrick Chalmers, from "The Puk-Wudjies", a poem published in Punch in 1910.

* 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 . . .

April 7, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Theorem 365: {All of the time} = 3.42857143

Proof:

Let {All of the time} = 24/7
QED.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)
"We are all like snowflakes."
—comedian Lewis Black
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of Shambhala . . .


 
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .

April 6, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
Finally, the "I'm with Stupid" t-shirt of yesteryear has been given its digital-age incarnation, courtesy of literary rapscallion Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.

The new t-shirt is not to be confused with a book on the market called im with stupid(no apostrophe, no capitals). It's by the artist Jeremy Fish.



© J. Caws-Elwitt
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Puzzles and Games (permalink)
Top Ten Tips for
Run-of-the-Mill Players
to Enjoy Outstanding Games

(an Abecedarian guest blog for DeepFun.com)

There's nothing so comfy as mediocrity.  Indeed, our culture teaches us both explicitly and implicitly that "okay" is good enough.  But when it comes to fun, the middle-of-the-road game players cheat themselves out of something precious.  Lackluster players miss out on the special spark that characterizes outstanding game play.  We're not talking about the thrill of victory versus the agony of defeat.  An outstanding player will have more fun losing a game than an average player will have winning a game.  The fact is that mediocre players cannot, by definition, get caught up in the lighthearted spirit of the game.

Following are ten techniques for transforming yourself into an outstanding player of your favorite game.

1. Seek your game's hidden source of entertainment, its heart of fascination.  In Classical times, Greek and Roman games consisted mainly of running, wrestling, jumping, riding, and racing.  On the surface, these games were nothing out of the ordinary, yet their players made them the world's most extraordinary entertainments, exciting the enthusiasm and awakening the spirits of the spectators.[1]  To find your game's heart of fascination, observe those moments when players become carried away, when they exclaim joyously, when they leap into the air or rise off their seats as if suddenly weightless.  Notice those moments when teams cheer one another, when the thrill of the play dissolves rivalry.  When you identify the dynamic at play—the true spirit of the game—you can foster it, prolong it, and take it to Olympic heights.

2. Improve your flexibility and agility (whether muscular or mental).  To stretch your gray matter, a Web search for "lateral thinking exercise" will offer puzzles unsolvable by traditional step-by-step logic.  To increase your physical flexibility, the "sun salutation" of Yoga is a 12-step series of poses that exercise every muscle and joint of the body.  Do a Web search for "sun salutation" to find free pictorial guidance.

3. Use drills to work on weaknesses (whether muscular or mental).  If another player is one step ahead of you mentally or one second faster than you physically, that's a winning edge.  A single increment of improvement may be all you need for success.  Set simple goals and work one step at a time.

4. Better your memory.  A good memory is a boon to virtually any game.  A Web search for "memory game" will yield hundreds of free online resources for exercising your powers of recollection.

5. Dispel falsehoods that hinder you.  Are you convinced that golf isn't a woman's game, or that softball is a young person's game, or that pinball is about making lights blink with a rolling ball?  Educate yourself about your game.  Read books, explore websites, talk to other players.  There's always more to learn.

6. Sharpen your concentration.  This is the age of the eleven-second attention span.  Being easily distracted is ruinous to game play.  Sharpening your concentration takes conscious, prolonged, repeated effort.  Keep a journal about your game.  Thinking and writing about your game will help to increase your power of concentration.

7. Manage your stress.  Stress management techniques will help you improve virtually any game.  A Web search for "stress management" will yield hundreds of free online tips and techniques.  One marvelous stress reducer is laughter.  A Web search for "laughter therapy" will inform you about how laughter reduces stress hormones, boosts immunity, promotes a positive attitude, and engenders a feeling of power.

8. Practice solo.  If your game involves two or more people, don't let that fact discourage you from practicing any aspects you can work on by yourself.

9. Embrace change.  "Change is necessary to improve your game.  You must not be afraid to risk giving up the known for the unknown if you wish to play better."[2]

10. The final tip is too specific to apply to just any game.  You already know what it implies, or will soon discover it through your ongoing self-education.  Perhaps this tip will require the help of a coach or the advice of a teaching pro.  Perhaps it will involve visualization techniques, or the use of a video camera, or familiarization with quantum physics.  This final tip may be the ultimate key to your fullest enjoyment of your game.

Notes:

[1] Lewis Henry Morgan, League of the Ho-dé-no-sau-nee Or Iroquois, 1904, p. 303.
[2] Philip B. Capelle, Play Your Best Pool, 1995, p. 383.
> read more from Puzzles and Games . . .

April 5, 2008

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
"If you can't leave your mark, give up."
Jenny Holzer


See large version of this photo here.
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)
"Predicting the past is ferociously difficult and it follows that predicting the future is almost impossible."
David Wheatley and Mark Gillings, Spatial Technology and Archaeology (2002)


Photo by Cedric Thual.
> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .

April 4, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"She ate and ate till she blew up like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day balloon, her face like a watermelon, because she needed love."
Anne Richardson Roiphe, 1185 Park Avenue


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


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Grandson of a millionaire, [Cole] Porter spent his entire life surrounded by opulence, and his home at 13 re Monsieur was no exception. In the entryway, black- and- white checked tile led from the front door to a finely cut marble staircase flanked on each side by columns. From the top of the stairs, a grand salon stretched out over much of the first floor, enclosing in its white paneling soft velvet couches, oriental- finished tables, and colorful rugs. Platinum paper coated the library walls, while elsewhere in the house zebra- skin rugs complemented ornate art deco furnishing. . . . Porter’s workroom . . . , painted entirely in white, contained nothing but a white table, a white piano, and one hundred white pencils. The wall facing the courtyard was made of frosted glass with a small, clear porthole so that Porter could gaze outside for inspiration.
—Luke Miner, Paris Jazz: A Guide, 2005.

* 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 . . .

April 3, 2008

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 . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the shadow . . .


 
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .

April 2, 2008

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

On the one hand, that's not how you pronounce "Oregon".

On the other hand, or even better on my torso, I really want this t-shirt.

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


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
The irony was that neither partygoer ever snagged the other's number.


Found here.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

The springtime trees of Chitra were perfect as a scene imagined from a storybook. They grew short and tall, thin and spreading, leafy and open. Their leaves were grass- green, blue- green, yellow- green, dark green, light green, crimson and brown and yellow, glossy and dull, smooth and sticky, round and pointed like fingers, fluttering and still. The barks of the trees were rough and smooth and furry, grey and white and green and black, cool and warm. The flowers grew in bunches or grew apart; they were red, yellow, white, pink and honey- colored; they were green and blue and purple and orange and silver and gold and lavender; they were large and small. All among the trees were tapering vines and slender creepers, rushes and canes and reeds, ferns and shrubs and grasses and orchids and bamboo and moss.
—William Buck, Ramayana, 2000.

* 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 . . .

April 1, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
According to Plato, a particular bicycle with two wheels missing is distinct from the abstract form of Bicycle-ness.  A Bicycle is the ideal that allows us to identify the distorted reflections of bicycles all around us.

---

Sara Luz wrote:

Good old Plato.  He knew what he was talking about.


Platonic idealism photographed by Melita Dennett on Church Street, Brighton.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


The Right Word (permalink)

Album art: Rina Aiuchi.
"In the end, we may be in love with books, but it’s words that have truly won our hearts. It’s words that whisper into our ear and transform us, that make us believe in other worlds or new emotions we didn’t know existed; it’s words that keep us company in . . . planes, on subway trains, or our comfy couches. It is words, not books, paper, papyrus of vellum pages that transform our lives."

Jeff Gomez, Print is Dead; Books in Our Digital Age, 2008
> read more from The Right Word . . .



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