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.
May 31, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Did you know that the ancient forests of Germany, so deeply rooted in folklore, aren't confined to Europe?  In California, the Berlin Forest sits in the shadow of the Observatory at Griffith Park.  For unicorn listeners, this forest atop Mt. Hollywood is a "must hear" attraction.


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


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

by jovike

The Little-Known Meanings of Crazy Color Names vol. 4

Seemingly unintelligible color names often tell fascinating and amusing stories, at least to those who are willing to delve beneath the surface. We continue our strange and wonderful adventure into the uncharted fringes of language, where we'll discover new "shades of meaning."

The light green color called hmm represents a sound which a “great conversationalist” makes while listening to keep people talking, as discussed in Think Like Your Customer: A Winning Strategy to Maximize Sales by Understanding and Influencing How and Why Your Customers Buy by Bill Stinnett.

hmm

The bright orange color called hmmmm refers to a “trite expression of wonder, envy and awe” that, along with “oh my,” “well well,” “say now,” and “really?” “will cover your adventures in New York” (Hunter S. Thompson, The Proud Highway: Saga of a Desperate Southern Gentleman, 1955-1967).

hmmmm

The golden color similarly called hmmmm recalls a chant from the Igbo Folk Epic from Sub-Saharan Africa, as discussed in Traditional Storytelling Today: An International Sourcebook by Margaret Read MacDonald.

hmmmm

The dark red color called hmph recalls an exclamation by the “Good Magician Humfrey” that, according to a translator golem, means “You blundering aviary feline! Get your catty feet on the ground!” (Piers Anthony, Source of Magic).

hmph

The pale orange color called hnnn echoes the grunt of Frankenstein’s monster, according to poet John Quinn in “Subway Station Meditation (New York),” Do Not Ask Me to Compete with the Angels.

hnnn
photo by Love Not Fear
by Love Not Fear

The deep purple color called hssss refers to the sound of a city bus pulling away from a stop, as in The Hearse You Came In On by Tim Cockey.

hssss

The bright blue color called kkkk refers to the sound of silk being stolen: "Aye, Silk’s what they fancy out in India ... over the wall, in your Window, kkkk! Job’s done." (Thomas Pynchon, Mason & Dixon).

kkkk

The deep green color called kkkkkkk echoes the rapid bill-clapping sound of the Choco Toucan, as described in Toucans, Barbets and Honeyguides: Ramphastidae, Capitonidae and Indicatoridae by Lester L. Short.

KKKKKKK

The dusky purple color called mmmmm recalls an expression of feeling vulnerable upon finding oneself stranded in a strange place at night, as in the song “Cross Road Blues” by Robert Johnson, as transcribed in Trouble in Mind by Leon F. Litwack.

Mmmmm

The pale yellow color called nnn echoes a response to the question “You spigotty anglease?” in Finnegans Wake by James Joyce.

nnn

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 . . .

May 30, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)

Diedrik van der Wal, custodian of one-letter words in the Netherlands, promises a Dutch dictionary of single letters by September.  The book will most probably be called: Achter de letter: het eerste Nederlandse eenletterwoordenboek.

The poet Geof Huth is our fellow custodian of English one-letter words.  We'd still love to see his unfinished dictionary some day. 
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
"Twenty Saints" made of twigs, by Chris Kenny.  Alas, the names of the saints are indecipherable in this image, and the piece has been sold.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .


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 . . .

May 29, 2008

Unicorns (permalink)

Chris of the Buggeryville blog refers us to this thoughtful piece on why unicorns are traditionally slaughtered rather than caught.

Meanwhile, our Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound: A Compact Handbook of Mythic Proportions is now available through Amazon.com.  Did you know you can preview the book in HTML format at OneLetterWords.com?

A pragmatic reference book replete with tips and easy-to-digest tidbits from folklore, physics, and literature, A Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound is at once a commonplace book, a work of refined playfulness and wit, and ultimately a self-help tool for centering and opening awareness through active listening.  Blending the author’s signature sensitivity to the awe and magic wrapped up in folkloric phenomena with a tongue-in-cheek bending of scientific principles to his fanciful purpose, this concise book uniquely balances humor, scholarship, spirituality, and imagination.

A Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound invites imaginative readers to step outside and suspend disbelief for a spell.  The book gently reminds readers of their capacity to perceive subtle signals in nature as they meditatively pay attention.  As readers open their ears and awaken their inner senses, they are guided to effortlessly attune to whispers of the soul.  Receptivity and intuition emerge from dormancy.  Readers may set off in search of hearing a unicorn, but through deep listening they are likely to encounter their higher selves.

From time immemorial, unicorns have captured the imagination of humankind and figured in fantasy, folklore, and myth.  Public interest in unicorns is at an all-time high, as evidenced by the American Museum of Natural History’s recent “Mythic Creatures” exhibit about dragons, unicorns and mermaids.  Yet until now there has not been a practical guide to observing these beloved creatures.  A Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound fills this void with light-hearted humor.  It’s the only portable handbook of auditory unicorniana you’ll ever need.

A Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound is organized into approximately fifty brief chapters, each of which serves to expose the reader to a particular variety of unicorn sound.  Only the author who dazzled us with a thousand One-Letter Words could have catalogued 49 distinct varieties of unicorn sounds and described in luscious, colorful detail their salient qualities.  Delightful, enchanting, and unique, it is perhaps the ultimate in whimsical zoology.

Through how-to narration, evocative imagery, meaningful quotations, and irreverent asides, the author sustains a premise as well developed as it is accessible and as engaging and convincing as it is fantastic.  The meditational imagination is stimulated, and the funny bone tickled, by means of eclectic lists of evocative associations that illustrate the sonic flavor of each featured unicorn sound.  In concert with all this, dozens of easy-to-grasp, deceptively sensible illustrations expertly marry science and whimsy.

Enchanted by the author’s hushed whispers, cogent explanations, and fresh, sparkling laughter, readers will experience a strong yearning to listen for unicorns.  Moreover, they will be pleased to learn that in the stillness of profound, focused listening they may discover a transformative connection to the grand mystery of the universe.  The book encourages readers to “slow down, sit in silence, and savor all of the precious moments that enrich our daily lives,” as in Virginia Lang & Louise Nayer’s How to Bury a Goldfish.

(Thanks, Jonathan!)
> read more from Unicorns . . .


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


Page 1

Page 2: ruins

Page 3: hands

Page 4: gardening

Page 5: planting

Page 6: whirlwind
> read more from Glued Snippets . . .


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


 
* 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 . . .

May 28, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Who uses this staircase?

The staff.


"Escalera Piano" by Jorge Valle, via wrongdistance.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)


J. Karl Bogartte's website.
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 . . .

May 27, 2008

Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
"Fluffy Cloud People crowd the sky.  I can feel their floating souls."
Kathleen O'Neal Gear, People of the Silence (1997)


Photo via philosophyblog.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

by n0wak

Will we talk about the black bird?”

The fat man laughed and his bulbs rode up and down on his laughter. Will we?” he asked, and, We will,” he replied. His pink face was shiny with delight. You’re the man for me, sir, a man cut along my own lines. No beating about the bush, but right to the point. Will we talk about the black bird?’ We will. I like that, sir. I like that way of doing business. Let us talk about the black bird by all means.
—Dashiell Hammett; Sam Spade and the fat man, conversing in The Maltese Falcon, 1930.

* 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 . . .

May 26, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"The myriad facets of cat care."
Kim Thornton, Your New Cat (2004)


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


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


 
* 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 . . .

May 25, 2008

Colorful Allusions (permalink)
"She reaches back into history to carve an identity that represents all her facets, strong and black and resilient."
Sharon Malinowski, Gay and Lesbian Literature (1994)


Photo source.
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

May 24, 2008

Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)

Photo by ste peg.
Lady Nihilism
Patron Saint of Decadence.

Lady Nihilism rules over:
  • the decay of cultural idols
  • the pursuit of self-abnegation
  • involuntary paroxysms
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

There is still only one miracle, only one: the Taj Mahal. . . . [It] has the fascination not of a work of art but of a natural and eternal beauty like the sea, the sky, like the highest, most immaculate mountain peaks. It had the color of the granular ice on certain glaciers today as I contemplated it for the last time. Then, as evening approached, it changed to pink and azure, to green, to the ardent violet of steel just before it is tempred. And the bronze- green cypresses, the cobalt sky, and the enclosed waters that repeated the miracle it is all imprinted inside my eyelids, as when one looks at something blindingly bright.
—Guido Gozzano (1883—1916), Journey Toward the Cradle of Mankind, translated by David Marinelli, 1996.

* 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 . . .

May 23, 2008

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
Our Semicolon's Dream Journal was honored by a mention over at Blue Pencil Editing blog:

I'm sure many editors have dreams (or more likely nightmares) about punctuation, but have you ever wondered what punctuation dreams about? Author and language enthusiast Craig Conley has. The result is his highly inventive - and humorous - A Semicolon's Dream Journal, which taps into the mind of this often misunderstood, and therefore misused, punctuation mark. If dreams are "the language of the subconscious," Conley is the semicolon's interpreter.

Speaking of the word dream, is the past tense dreamed or dreamt?  The Blue Pencil Editing blog has the answer
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
The Golden Corral restaurant needs re-branding.  (Thanks, Mike!)

(But seriously!  Who finds it appetizing to be likened to cattle herded toward a trough?)

What next, the Silver Coop?  Would that be a maternity ward?  (If diners are like cattle, then mothers-to-be are like hens, no?)  Perhaps the Silver Coop would be a Chinese restaurant (referring to the Egg Drop Soup, you see.)
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


One Mitten Manager (permalink)

 ---

In other mitten news, armored mitten gauntlets are all the rage this year (and not just for those in their Middle Ages).

Meanwhile, a mitten grapples with the meaning of life.
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 . . .

May 22, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Headlines in the early edition aren't screaming—they're yawning.

(Inspired by Orhan Pamuk, who mentioned a newspaper whose ink was so fresh that the words were still sleepy.)
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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


 
* 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 . . .

May 21, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Do you belong to the woodworker's union?
No—a splinter group.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Strange Dreams (permalink)


Read about J. Karl Bogartte's avant-garde writings here.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .

May 20, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Is it time to adjust the rules of Chess to reflect a constitutional monarchy?

(Inspired by Orhan Pamuk.)
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Indigo.
Indigoing.
Indigone.
—Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume, 1984.

* 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 . . .

May 19, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Area 51 is nestled between I-40 Business to the south and I-40 None of Your Business to the north.

(This joke was inspired by motorists Jonathan and Hilary Caws-Elwitt, who have been known to enjoy some reckless excitement along "None of Your Business 41."  Thanks also to the Area 51 tour guide for help with wording.)
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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


Page 1

Page 2

Page 3: cathedral

Page 4: washing floor

Page 5: floor plan

Page 6: spectrum

Page 7: hair

Page 8: looking

Page 9: floor plan

Page 10: guillotine


> read more from Glued Snippets . . .


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


 
* 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 . . .

May 18, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
This delightful "Evolution" watch was designed by Tom Gauld for United Arrows.

Anthony Dhark writes:

And every day, you get to start over! There's a message there for all of us. :)


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


Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary (permalink)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary . . .

May 17, 2008

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

by mteson

Same-HEX Unions

Colors, like people, tend to mix and mingle according to their inclinations. Sometimes two complementary HEXes will combine to create a new color. Sometimes two similar HEXes will merge to illuminate a more brilliant hue. Is it preposterous to label such unions as "straight" and "gay"? The ColourLovers library is full of colors with orientations identified in their titles. At a glance, can you tell a "straight" color from a "gay" one? Here's a three-part quiz, each more challenging than the last.

In this first quiz, one column features colors with exclusively gay names. The other column features colors with exclusively straight names. Which is which? For the answer, click on any color to reveal the name.

A

B



 

In this second quiz, things get trickier. One column contains gay colors, one contains straight colors, and one contains transsexual/hermaphroditic colors. Which is which? For the answers, click on the colors to reveal their names.

A

B

C



 

This third quiz is a real brain-stumper. Colors are totally mixed up: gay, straight, androgynous, and one Teletubby. Can you sort it all out?


The purpose of this admittedly preposterous exercise isn't to moralize. Clearly, even colors aren't free of labels. Perhaps labels are ridiculous. Perhaps they are useful. Perhaps labels tell more about the labeler than they do about the labeled. One thing's for certain: colors are sexy! What do you think?

[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)

Three green chameleons race one another across the terrace; one pauses at Madame’s feet, flicking its forked tongue, and she comments: Chameleons. Such exceptional creatures. The way they change color. Red. Yellow. Lime. Pink. Lavender. And did you know they are very fond of music?’ She regards me with her fine black eyes. You don’t believe me?’
—Truman Capote, Music for Chameleons, 1980.

* 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 . . .

May 16, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
From The Black Book by Orhan Pamuk:

Whenever I venture into an endless saga about what the West stole from the East and the East from the West, I think this: If this realm of dreams we call the world is but a house we roam like sleepwalkers, then our literary traditions are like wall clocks, there to make us feel at home.  So:
1. To say that one of these wall clocks is right and another wrong is utter nonsense.
2. To say that one is five hours ahead of the other is also nonsense; by using the same logic you could just as easily say that it's seven hours behind.
3. For much the same reason, if it is 9:35 according to one clock and it just so happens that another clock also says it's 9:35, anyone who claims that the second clock is imitating the first is spouting nonsense.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


One Mitten Manager (permalink)


---

Also from the world of mittens, here's how to bring mittens into one's breakfast skillet.

Here are the East and West Mitten Buttes of Monument Valley.

And here's a Chinese Mitten Crab found in the Upper Chesapeake Bay.

---

Dave Wilson writes:

When I took that photograph of the Mitten Buttes in Monument Valley I had no idea I was delving into such profound and complex subject matter. After viewing Mr.  Conley's website I realize that subconsciously I am drawn to mittens. Why, just look at this other photo I took at an Arizona lake: www.davewilsonimages.com/Watson_lake_5.htm
 
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 . . .

May 15, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Did you hear about the magazine editor who took on more than he could handle?

Now he has back issues.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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


 
* 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 . . .

May 14, 2008

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)


This collage was inspired by the following quotation:

"Wednesday there was a four-hour wrangle in a conference room crowded with planets and nebulae of cigarette smoke."
—F. Scott Fitzgerald.  (Thanks to dj misc for sharing the quotation!)
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


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


 


Photo by algo.
* 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 . . .

May 13, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
We came up with 100 ways to fail at boiling water, and we put them on a 100-sided die.  Click here to check it out!  Every roll reveals new ways to fail at boiling water!
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


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

Above, the front cover of Puzzling Portmeirion.  Left, Portmeirion's Bristol Colonnade, with domed Pantheon nestled above it.

Related: Our Portmeirion-inspired Tarot deck and art book.
Our eccentric travel guide, Puzzling Portmeirion: An Unconventional Guide to a Curious Destination, is now available from Amazon.com.  Did you know you can preview the book in HTML format at OneLetterWords.com?

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


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


Page 1

Page 2: window

Page 3: farmhouse

Page 4: wish upon a star

Page 5: armillary

Page 6: solar system

Page 7: canopy bed

Page 8: memory

Page 9: suspended

Page 10: dream


> read more from Glued Snippets . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Now I know why Baby Suggs pondered color her last years. She never had time to see, let alone enjoy it before. Took her a long time to finish with blue, then yellow, then green. She was well into pink when she died.
—Toni Morrison, Sethe pondering her mother’s last days in Beloved, 1987.

* 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 . . .

May 12, 2008

Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)
An Insight into The Chariot, from Sufi Lore

(a guest blog for Tarot Dame)

There has been age-old speculation that the Tarot was handed down by wandering Middle Eastern mystics and alchemists. The speculation is well-founded, in that the imagery of Sufi lore is reflected in Tarot iconography. For thousands of years, Sufi masters have used dervish folktales as tools to unlock insights in would-be illuminates. Like the cards of the Tarot, esoteric dervish parables shine light upon hidden trends in the events of life, revealing the significance of seemingly unimportant details. The allegorical stories are meant to constructively affect the inner consciousness of the seeker, develop higher mental functions, raise awareness, and ultimately foster self realization.

One particular fragment of Sufi wisdom offers insights into the psychological meaning of The Chariot card. The fragment was recorded by scholar Idries Shah from the notebook of a Persian dervish. The fragment invites us to picture a charioteer, seated in a vehicle, propelled by a horse, and guided by himself. These three symbolic forces must work in tandem to attain their goal:

"Intellect is the 'vehicle,' the outward form within which we state where we think we are and what we have to do. The vehicle enables the horse and man to operate. This is what we call tashkil, outward shape or formulation. The horse, which is motive power, is the energy which is called ‘a state of emotion’ or other force. This is needed to propel the chariot. The man, in our illustration, is that which perceives, in a manner superior to the others, the purpose and possibilities of the situation, and who makes it possible for the chariot to move towards and to gain its objective."

The fragment notes that any one of the forces may be able to fulfill a function, "but the combined function which we call the movement of the chariot cannot take place unless all three are connected in the Right Way. Only the ‘man,’ the real Self, knows the relationship of the three elements, and their need of one another. Among the Sufis, the Great Work is the knowledge of combining the three elements. Too many men, too unsuitable a horse, too light or too heavy a chariot—and the result will not take place.”

The reference to the "Right Way” will be familiar to anyone versed in Taoist philosophy, just as the "Great Work” echoes the symbolism of Alchemy. Naturally, we also find parallels to Sufi wisdom in the metaphysical literature of Gnostic Christianity, Hasidic mysticism, Vedantic Hinduism, and indeed all of the Mystery schools.

In Tarot for Your Self, Mary K. Greer explores John Blakeley’s attempt to trace a Sufi origin of the Tarot. Parables of the Spanish Muslim mystic Ibn Al-‘Arabī are compared to imagery of the Marseilles Tarot in Islamic Sainthood in the Fullness of Time: Ibn Al-‘Arabī’s Book of the Fabulous Gryphon by Gerald Elmore. Any collection of Sufi allegories may indirectly yield insights on the meanings of Tarot cards. The fragment about The Chariot is featured in Tales of the Dervishes by Idries Shah.


* Historians must reconstruct the past out of hazy memory.  "Once upon a time" requires "second sight."  The "third eye" of intuition can break the "fourth wall" of conventional perspectives.  Instead of "pleading the fifth," historians can take advantage of the "sixth sense" and be in "seventh heaven."  All with the power of hindpsych, the "eighth wonder of the world."  It has been said that those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it.  Therein lies the importance of Tarot readings for antiquity.  When we confirm what has already occurred, we break the shackles of the past, freeing ourselves to chart new courses into the future.
> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .


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


Read about J. Karl Bogartte's avant-garde writings here.
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 . . .

May 11, 2008

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

by jovike

The Little-Known Meanings of Crazy Color Names vol. 3

Seemingly incomprehensible color names often tell intriguing and funny stories, at least to those who are willing to delve beneath the surface. We continue our strange and wonderful adventure into the uncharted fringes of language, where we'll discover new "shades of meaning."

The dark gray color called fsck refers to a Linux system administration command and is also the title of an album of experimental electronic music by the band Farmers Manual.

fsck

The bright pink color called fzzk recalls the sound of “flash panties,” a weapon disguised as underwear, as in the comic book Dirty Pair: Run From The Future #3 by Adam Warren.

Fzzk

The light purple color called ggg echoes the gulping of a noisy drinker, as described in “More Than Words” by the New Zealand Ministry of Education.

ggg

The light green color called gggg refers to a baby’s giggle, as described in the novel Edwin Mullhouse by Steven Millhauser.

GGGGG

The gray color called gnch refers to the sound of someone gorging on a giant mushroom, as in the graphic novel Uzumaki 2 by Junji Ito.

Gnch
photo by sahmeepee
by sahmeepee

The bright red color called grrl refers to a girl who riots, usually associated with punk music.

Grrl

The bright orange color called grrrr refers to the squeak of vinyl pants rubbing against vinyl furniture, as in the novel The Final Detail by Harlan Coben.

Grrrr

The ominous color called grrrrrr echoes the sound of one’s shadow self explosively releasing “a great amount of repressed energy” in a “giant over-reaction” (Jacquelyn Small, Awakening in Time: The Journey from Codependence to Co-Creation).

Grrrrrr

The frothy color called hgkh refers to the sound of someone struggling not to drown in a vat of fresh cream, as in the graphic novella Hearts and Minds by Scott McCloud.

Hgkh

The luminous green color called hhh conjures the silent moment of Buddha-nature, when “the breath is completely out” and one effortlessly experiences the moment of death (Osho, The Book of Secrets).

hhh

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 . . .

May 10, 2008

Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)

W. Lynn Garrett reminds us of six patron saints of graphic design, including:

Saint Concepta

Patron of Brainstorming and Procrastination.

Read about her history here.

Saint Anxieté
Martyr and Patron of Impossible Deadlines and Foamy Coffee.

Read about her history here.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

by Kevin

Who saw the first / green light of the sun? / I, said the night owl, / The only one.

Who saw the moss / creep over the stone? / I, said the grey fox, / All alone.
—Margaret Wise Brown, "The Secret Song," from the collection Piping Down The Valleys Wild: A merry mix of verse for all ages, edited by Nancy Larrick, 1968.

* 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 . . .

May 9, 2008

Puzzles and Games (permalink)

Buy now from Amazon.com
Moon Fish Ocean, our whimsical Zen version of "Rock Paper Scissors" is now available through Amazon.com.

You can also play the game online at the official website.

Here's a fun tip for taking the game on the road:

Use Moon Fish Ocean to navigate the maze of pathways in a formal garden (especially a garden with a koi pond!). You and your companion should throw a hand gesture at each crossroad or forked path. If the person on the left wins, go left. If the person on the right wins, go right. If it's a tie, continue walking straight ahead (or throw another round in the case of only two choices of direction). The game is guaranteed to lead you to all sorts of beautiful areas of the gardens you didn't know about, simply because you would never have gone down certain (less eye-enticing) paths. So Moon Fish Ocean can serve as a form of navigation in which Lady Luck dictates the itinerary.

A visitor asks:

It is not clear to me what makes this conducive to meditation. Is it being so focused on the activity that all else is put aside?

Like "walking meditation," Moon Fish Ocean can be a form of meditation in action, in which the experience of game play is the focus of heightened awareness.

Praise for Moon, Fish, Ocean:

> read more from Puzzles and Games . . .


Inflationary Lyrics (permalink)
SONG: Crybaby
ARTIST: Information Society

ORIGINAL LYRIC:

If I could stop the hands of time
I would do it, on a dime

ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION:

Sands in the hourglass refill
If you fold space like a bill
* 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 . . .


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 . . .

May 8, 2008

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

Photo source.
From the notebooks of humorist Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:

Thank you for calling Gratitech.

If you are calling to be thanked for calling, please press 1.

If you are calling to thank us for answering, please press 2.

If you would like to be thanked for pressing 2, please press 3.

If you are calling to say "you're welcome", please hold, and a representative will be with you as soon as possible.

(Literary humorist Jonathan Caws-Elwitt’s plays, stories, essays, letters, parodies, wordplay, witticisms and miscellaneous tomfoolery can be found at Monkeys 1, Typewriters 0.  Here you’ll encounter frivolous, urbane writings about symbolic yams, pigs in bikinis, donut costumes, vacationing pikas, nonexistent movies, cross-continental peppermills, and other compelling subjects.)
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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


 
* 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 . . .

May 7, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
The prodigal origamist eventually returned to the fold.


Source.  Lots more terrific origami people here.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Today it takes balls to be a disco fan.


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

May 6, 2008

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


Page 1

Page 2: birds

Page 3: automobile

Page 4: biplane

Page 5: butterflies

Page 6: sports

Page 7: ball

Page 8: toboggan

Page 9: hoop

Page 10: family

Page 11: baby buggy

Page 12: kite

Page 13: chickens

Page 14: picket fence

Page 15: brother and sister
> read more from Glued Snippets . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

by fazen

What I have to do is get in my bed and lay down. I want to fix on something harmless in this world.”

What world you talking about? Ain’t nothing harmless down here.”

Yes it is. Blue. That don’t hurt nobody. Yellow neither.”

You getting in the bed to think about yellow?”

I likes yellow.”

Then what? When you get through with blue and yellow, then what?”

Can’t say. It’s something can’t be planned.”
—Toni Morrison, Baby Suggs and Stamp Paid conversing in Beloved, 1987.

* 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 . . .

May 5, 2008

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


  
  
J. Karl Bogartte's avant-garde works are available here.
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)
Who's driving the world's smallest car (1/1000th the size of the actual car, the size of a grain of rice)?  Our guess: a "copper."

---

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt writes:

I've heard of a "subcompact," but this is ridiculous!


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

May 4, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
Did you know that "In Polish, there are 42 ways to count to one"?  (Source: Elizabeth Williamson, The Wall Street Journal Europe)

---

Chris writes:

See also xkcd.com/271 ["Powers of One" webcomic].
> read more from The Right Word . . .


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


 


A card from the Portmeirion Tarot.
* 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 . . .

May 3, 2008

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

by creatura

Which Came First? The Chicken Color or the Egg Color?

Pearly white, cream, yellow, brown, gray, blue, violet, green, olive. Chicken eggs are colorful even before they're dyed and decorated for Easter celebrations. "The color of eggs comes exclusively from the pigment in the outer layer of the shell and may range from an almost pure white to a deep brown, with many shades in between. The only determinant of egg color is the breed of the chicken. . . . A simple test to determine the color of a hen's eggs is to look at her earlobes. If the earlobes are white, the hen will lay white eggs. If the earlobes are red, she will produce brown eggs" (David Feldman, Why Do Clocks Run Clockwise? and other Imponderables, 1988.

Poultry expert Katie Thear notes that "All eggs are initially white, and shell color is the result of the pigments called porphyrins being deposited while the eggs are in the process of formation. In the case of the Rhode Island Red, the brown pigment protoporphyrin, derived from haemoglobin in the blood, is what gives the shell its light brown color. The Araucana produces a pigment called oocyanin, which is a product of bile formation, and results in blue or bluish-green eggs. Interestingly, the color goes right through the shell, making the eggs difficult to candle [i.e., test for freshness by holding up to the light] during incubation."


by kit

Interestingly, the light of the sun can fade the color of an egg's shell, even before it has been laid. This is a phenomenon that especially affects free-range chickens in hotter climates. "Although shell color is mainly determined by genetics, the effect of strong sun and high temperatures on the hens can produce a fading effect on the shells. Why too much sun affects the surface pigmentation in this way is unknown, but it can be a problem for those who sell such eggs," Thear says. She notes that stress, premature laying, changes in diet, bullying, viral infections, and the presence of predators can also lead to eggs with pale colors.

[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)

by ~Ans~

The sky had no colour, the earth was coloured only with dim toneless colour, swimming and indistinct. Then she looked up and saw that the Himalayas were showing in their full range, and were coloured in ash and orange and precious Chinese pink, deeper in the east, paler in the west.

The people called it the flowering of the snows’; and she thought that it was true: the mountain looked as if it flowered, stained with brilliant flowery pink; the spring of pink, of hill crocuses and almond trees and girlish cotton clothes. It seemed to come nearer, to spill across the valley and the terrace, to her feet.

It was light.
—Rumer Godden, Black Narcissus, 1939.

* 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 . . .

May 2, 2008

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


Page 1

Page 2: winter

Page 3: blizzard

Page 4: fruit stand

Page 5: polar bear

Page 6: iceberg

Page 7: polar bear

Page 8: polar bear

Page 9: Greenland
> read more from Glued Snippets . . .


The Right Word (permalink)

Illustration source.
Here's how Marcus J. Borg explains away all the magic of the metaphor, "My love is a red, red rose":

"My beloved is not a rose, unless I am literally in love with a flower.  Rather, there is something about my beloved that is like a rose."

Gee, thanks, Mr. Borg.

Meanwhile, against all odds, my own beloved is an entire bouquet (long-stemmed).

---

Chris writes:

Of course, the lyric is "My love is *like* a red, red rose [that's newly sprung in June]"... which makes the exegesis extra redundant.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

May 1, 2008

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

O the month of May, the merry month of May, / So frolic, so gay, and so green, so green, so green; / O and then did I unto my true love say, / Sweet Peg, thou shalt be my summer's queen.
—Thomas Dekker, The Shoemaker's Holiday, first performed at the Rose Theatre, London, in 1599. Edited by Anthony Parr, 1975.

* 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 . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the stone circle . . .


 


See full size stone circle 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 . . .



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