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.
July 31, 2008

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

A baker's dozen of things that inspire "wordless awe"*

1. the star-encrusted heavens
2. the thunderous silence of Yosemite
3. a classically beautiful woman
4. a diamond necklace
5. cherry blossoms
6. nature's grandeur
7. anatomical knowledge
8. standing atop Mt. Wilson
9. the thought of God
10. scientific discoveries
11. the shrouded dead
12. new life
13. ancient architectural wonders

* found via online research, in no particular order
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
"His antlers were like barren boughs."
—Punch (issue uncertain)


Photo source, via ffffound.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

The door of Quincy’s office was orange and his sofa was dark gray. Some of us in Weede’s group had doors of the same color but sofas of a different color. Some had identical sofas but different doors. Weede himself was the only one who had a red sofa. Weede and Ted Warburton were the only ones with black doors. But Mars Tyler’s sofa was ecru, a shade lighter than Grove Palmer’s door. I had all this down on paper. On slow afternoons I used to study it, trying to find a pattern. I thought there might be a subtle color scheme designed by management and based on a man’s salary, ability, and prospects for advancement or decline. Why did no two people have identical sofas and doors? Why was Ted Warburton allowed to have a black door when the only other black door belonged to Weede Denney? Why was Reeves Chubb the only one with a primrose sofa? Why was Paul Joyner’s perfectly good maroon sofa replaced by a royal blue one? Why was my sofa the same color as Weede’s door? There were others who felt as I did.
—Don DeLillo, Americana, 1971.

* 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 . . .

July 30, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)

From our outpost at Blogspot:

[Is poetry holographic?  Like a hologram, can a surviving fragment of an ancient poem unfold the original meaning in its entirety?  We like to think so.]

Here's Sappho's take on magic words:
Although they are
Only breath, words
which I command
are immortal
(translated by Mary Barnard)
> read more from The Right Word . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"When we truly assert that we see no cheese, or that we notice the absence of cheese, there is not a thing that we are seeing."
Morris Lazerowitz, The Structure of Metaphysics (2000)


Nihilistic cheese by Marcel van Eeden.  Via bezembinders.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


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


 
 
Inspired by the avant-garde writings of J. Karl Bogartte.
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 . . .

July 29, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
"Caterpillar saw its pre-1978 market share of Soviet earthmovers drop from 85% to zero."
Business Week


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


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

The sun had gone, the western ranges faded in chill purple mist, but the western sky still burned with ragged bands of orange. It was October.
—Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, 1929.

* 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 . . .

July 28, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

Did the nervous caterpillar feel butterflies in its stomach?


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


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

VULVA: Wind chimes that use the bones of children.


Illustration from Manners, Custom and Dress During the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period, by Paul Lacroix.  Full size image here
> read more from The Right Word . . .

July 27, 2008

Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: yesterday’s newspaper or today’s newspaper?

Clue:  This is according to a political scientist

Answer:  Today’s newspaper.  “Every day’s newspaper is funnier than the last, because it’s all serious reporting in a ridiculous context.”  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Ethel Grodzins Romm, The Open Conspiracy (1970), p. 100.
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Higgledy-Piggledy
Patron of Randomness.


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

July 26, 2008

Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)

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


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

The man wore a purple suit, a Panama hat over his shiny, slicked- down hair. He walked splay- footed, soundlessly.

The girl wore a green hat and a short skirt and sheer stockings, four- and- a- half inch French heels. She smelled of Midnight Narcissus.
—Raymond Chandler, "Pickup on Noon Street," from The Simple Art of Murder, 1950.

* 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 . . .

July 25, 2008

Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
"The test is absolute; for in one ear there is no hearing, and in the other there is hearing."
—Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, Pharmaceutical Journal (1960)


Image source.  Via ffffound.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


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 . . .

July 24, 2008

Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
"He played a Flight of the Bumble Bee on the clarinet that was breathtaking.  He was amazing.  I felt an effervescence inside when I heard this guy."
Gene Lees, Cats of Any Color: Jazz Black and White (1994)


Photo by Ben Pearce.  Via ffffound.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


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: girl and dog

Page 2: mother and toddler

Page 3: strawberry

Page 4: daydream

Page 5: bandaged foot

Page 6: weathervane

Page 7: shining eye


> read more from Glued Snippets . . .

July 23, 2008

Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
"She held up seven fingers and pointed to the bananas, for that's what they were called, the man told us."
Hilda Satt Polacheck, I Came a Stranger (1989)


Photo from resoulution, via ffffound.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
The Origami Buddha folded his legs into the lotus position.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .

July 22, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"He repeated this cry many times.  Only elephants understood him but in five minutes one large elephant loomed behind him."
Dhan Gopal Mukerji, The Chief of the Herd (1929)
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Where is the road?" some one shouted.

"On the blueprint, of course. . . . You’ve got it all in black and white.”
—Thomas Wolfe, Look Homeward, Angel, 1929.

* 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 . . .

July 21, 2008

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
We've always loved this painting by Ruth Chase.  The text reads:

I am walking through my fears
I am innocent and beautiful again
This is what you hate and why I'll never know you.


See larger size here.
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
Is it nine o'clock already?
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .

July 20, 2008

Glued Snippets (permalink)
Here's a collage we assembled for a singular Fred and henceforth dedicate to all the Freds of the world.


> read more from Glued Snippets . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

DEVICE: Tis the Mode to express our fancie upon every occasion. . . . Shall I decipher my Colours to you now? Here is Azure and Peach: Azure is constant, and Peach is love; which signifies my constant Affection.

SISTER: This is very pretty.

DEVICE: Oh, it saves the trouble of writing. . . . [Y]our yellow is joy, because. . . .

LADY: Why, yellow, Sir, is Jealous.

DEVICE: No, your Lemon colour, a pale kind of yellow, is Jealous; your yellow is perfect joy. Your white is Death, your milke white innocence, your black mourning, your orange spitefull, your flesh colour lascivious, your maides blush envied, your red is defiance, your gold is avaritious, your straw plenty, your greene hope, your sea greene inconstant, your violet religious, your willow forsaken.
—James Shirley, ridiculing Device’s ribbons in Captain Underwit, early 1640s; quoted in Fashion and Fiction: Dress in Art and Literature in Stuart England by Aileen Ribeiro, 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 . . .

July 19, 2008

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

A sea of shining white mist was in the valley, with glinting golden rays striking athwart it from the great cresset of the sinking moon; here and there the long, dark, horizontal line of a distant mountain’s summit rose above the vaporous shimmer, like a dreary, sombre island in the midst of enchanted waters. Her large, dreamy eyes, so wild and yet so gentle, gazed out through the laurel leaves upon the floating gilded flakes of light, as in the deep coverts of the mountain, where the fulvous- tinted deer were lying, other eyes, as wild and as gentle, dreamily watched the vanishing moon. Overhead, the filmy, lace- like clouds, fretting the blue heavens, were tinged with a faint rose. Through the trees she caught a glimpse of the red sky of dawn, and the glister of a great lucent, tremulous star.
—Charles Egbert Craddock (Mary Noailles Murfree) (1850–1922), "The ‘Harnt’ that Walks Chilhowee," from In the Tennesee Mountains, 1884.

* 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 . . .

July 18, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"I'll be doing my part to destroy the earth tonight by frying latkes and nuking vegetables."
Paula Light


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


One Mitten Manager (permalink)

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

July 17, 2008

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

STARLIGHT: Liquid used to power a whispering machine.


"Mechanical Self" by 315ssuahC.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of wonder-working . . .


 
* 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 . . .

July 16, 2008

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

Here's one of our favorite bits from As Long As It's in the Script: A Sex Farce Within a Sex Farce by Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:

When she was only nine years old, [Helen] wrote and directed a neighborhood musical, casting herself in the starring role.  She did makeup, costumes . . . the whole bit.  Then she made herself Executive Producer and cut the budget.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Glued Snippets (permalink)
> read more from Glued Snippets . . .

July 15, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
This week we were honored by the inspirational Crystalpunk site, who covered one of our recent blog postings in the most wonderful way.

Heartfelt hugs also to the ever-intriguing Buggeryville for showcasing our ongoing "Inflationary Lyrics" project.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
What's the opposite of "bon voyage"?  In other words, what would the people standing on the ocean liner call down to those staying ashore?  Would it be "joyeuse inertie"?


> read more from The Right Word . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

GEORGE BURNS: Going into the Pantages Theatre, there’s Gracie and Susan, and Harpo and myself. And he loved black jellybeans. He couldn’t get any black jellybeans, and all of a sudden there’s a little candy store next to the theatre. It’s during the war. All of a sudden he sees this candy store, and in the window there’s black jellybeans. He went in and he says, How many black jellybeans have you got?’ The guy says, Well, I got an order today, I paid thirty dollars for the black jellybeans.’ Harpo says, I’ll give you thirty- five dollars for all the black jellybeans.’ Have you any idea how many jellybeans you can buy for thirty- five dollars?

Well, Gracie carried a bag of jellybeans, and Susan carried a bag, cause we’re going into the theatre, and the little candy store would be closed when we left. And we couldn’t walk down to where the car was or we’d have missed the beginning of the picture. So the four of us are carrying about twenty- five pounds of black jellybeans into the theatre. But . . . before we went out, he also bought some colored jellybeans ten cents worth of white, red, and pink jellybeans. That is, if we wanted a jellybean, he’d give us the colored ones because he didn’t want anyone to touch the black ones!

GROUCHO: I don’t blame him.
—from Hello, I Must be Going: Groucho and His Friends, by Charlotte Chandler, 1978.

* 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 . . .

July 14, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
[This posting is in honor of Wilfried at Crystalpunk.)

It is poetically said that when one raises a shell to the ear, one hears the ocean.  Could it also be said that when one raises a shell to the eye, one reads poetry?  In his masterpiece Doctor Faustus, Thomas Mann holds a magnifying glass to the "indecipherable hieroglyphics on the shells of certain mussels" and conchs, questioning whether Mother Nature expresses herself in an organized, written code, and whether ornament can ultimately be distinguished from meaning.  Mann describes the calligraphy on a shell that practically begs to be understood: "The characters, as if drawn with a brush, blended into purely decorative lines toward the edge, but over large sections of the curved surface their meticulous complexity gave every appearance of intending to communicate something."  The shell's calligraphy bears a strong resemblance to "early Oriental scripts, much like the stroke of Old Aramaic."  But how is one to get to the bottom of such symbols?  Mann admits that "They elude our understanding and, it pains me to say, probably always will."  Yet this elusion need not be a source of discouragement.  Mann explains that ornament and meaning are like conjoined twins: "When I say they 'elude' us, that is really only the opposite of 'reveal,' for the idea that nature has painted this code, for which we lack the key, purely for ornament's sake on the shell of one of her creatures--no one can convince me of that.  Ornament and meaning have always run side by side, and the ancient scripts served simultaneously for decoration and communication.  Let no one tell me nothing is being communicated here!  For the message to be inaccessible, and for one to immerse oneself in that contradiction--that also has its pleasure."  In other words, the shell calligraphy communicates a profound mystery, pregnant with meaning and delightful to behold.  Mann admits that, "were this really a written code, nature would surely have to command her own self-generated, organized language," adding that nature's fundamental illiteracy is "precisely what makes her eerie."

Mann's allusion to "early Oriental scripts" reminds us of the lost "shell" style of calligraphy discovered in Shang culture artifacts (14th - 11th centuries BCE).  That ancient system of writing, more stylized than the early picture words, was brushed onto shells in vermilion ink.  (For a full discussion of shell-style calligraphy, see Chinese Brushwork in Calligraphy and Painting by Kwo Da-Wei, 1990.)

In our collage below, we imagine King Triton conjuring the Platonic ideals of shell calligraphy.


> read more from The Right Word . . .


Inflationary Lyrics (permalink)
SONG: Super-Connected
ARTIST: Belly

ORIGINAL LYRIC:

Are there heart strings connected
To the wings you've got slapped on your back?
Better climb in the window cause I'm closing the door.
Now I'm spinning on a dime.

ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION:

Did Groucho inspire
Your distinctive moustache?
Climb up the barber pole, don't bat a lash.
Now I'm banking on the cash.
* 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 . . .


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

SWIMMING POOL: A kind of mist secreted by pyramids when fending off an attack of vicious glow-worms.


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

July 13, 2008

The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #4:

"The one prayer, the one wish, the one hope, and the one certainty is that we can bear each other's burdens."
Jonas Chickering, The Commemoration of the Founding of the House of Chickering & Sons, 1904
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the white buffalo . . .


 
* 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 . . .

July 12, 2008

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Green was the maiden, green, green! / Green her eyes were, green her hair. . . . / Through the green air she came. / (The whole earth turned green for her.) . . . / Over the green sea she came. / (And even the sky turned green then.)
—Juan Ramon Jimenez (1881-1959), "Green," translated by J.B. Trend. From Nine Centuries of Spanish Literature, edited by Seymour Resnick and Jeanne Pasmantier, Dover, 1994.

* 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 . . .

July 11, 2008

Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)
The nuns in The Sound of Music ponder, "How do you solve a problem like Maria?"

We found the answer in a volume by Eliza Marian Butler entitled The Saint-Simonian Religion in Germany (1926):

The "solution of Maria's problem" is her "conversion to the Protestant faith."
> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .


Inflationary Lyrics (permalink)
SONG: Love on a Rooftop
ARTIST: Cher

ORIGINAL LYRIC:

We used to talk
Delivered on a dime
Now we live together
Never find the time

ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION:

We used to talk
We'd hardly ever heckle
Now we live together
Shackled by the shekels
* 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 . . .

July 10, 2008

Unicorns (permalink)

Our guided tour of unicorns in the field offers deep listening practice for imaginative fun and relaxation.
We're delighted to announce that our brand new guided audio tour of unicorns in the field is now available in fancy CD and budget MP3 formats at Amazon.com.

TRACK 1 - Guided Tour of Unicorns in the Field
(easy, narrated)
Subtle nature sounds (birds, crickets, distant chimes, hoofbeats) offer practice sessions for those unable to easily access nature.

TRACK 2 - Guided Meditational Listening
(easy, narrated)
Unicorn sounds within the ambience (birds, insects, snapping twigs, wind) signal the listener to go deeper into restful alertness.

TRACK 3 - Field Practice Area 1
(advanced, nature only)
Suitable for self-guided meditation, bedtime relaxation, and advanced deep listening practice.

TRACK 4 - Field Practice Area 2
(advanced, nature only)
Suitable for self-guided meditation, bedtime relaxation, and advanced deep listening practice.
> read more from Unicorns . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the whispering spring . . .


 
* 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 . . .

July 9, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
Our Strange and Unusual References site was honored with the #3 position in TeachingTips.com's "100 Unbelievably Useful Reference Sites You’ve Never Heard Of."
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Inflationary Lyrics (permalink)
SONG: The World Has Its Shine
ARTIST: Cobra Starship

ORIGINAL LYRIC:

The world has its shine
But I would drop it on a dime for you

ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION:

The world has its flash
But I would drop it on some cash for you
* 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 . . .


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


Page 1: singing frog

Page 2: frog eggs

Page 3: frog

Page 4: frog pond

Page 5: ducklings

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

July 8, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"Let us suppose that the famous experiment known as the 'white snow ducks' could be transposed to some human individual."
Guy Dingemans, The Tragedy of the Universe: Formation and Transformation of the Continents (1958)


Street installation by Mark Jenkins.  Via ffffound.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

These are the kind of things that I wish to have engraved amethysts, rosaries of black, amber and gold, blue cloth for a camora, black cloth for a mantle, such as shall be without a rival in the world, even if it costs ten ducats a yard; as long as it is of real excellence, never mind! If it is only as good as those which I see other people wear, I had rather be without it!
—seventeen-year-old Marchioness of Mantua, April, 1491. From a letter to Girolamo Zigliolo, about to leave for France. Quoted and translated from the Italian by Evelyn Welch in Shopping in the Renaissance: Consumer Cultures in Italy, 1400—1600, 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 . . .

July 7, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
SIGH
[from our Magic Words blog]
The music of a sigh, the magician of a momentary joy.
—F.G., "British Poetry: the Drama,” The British Controversialist and Literary Magazine (1862)
The most profound meaning of a sigh is invariably absent from dictionaries. A sigh is an invocation. It is an audible expression of a deep yearning for someone or something beyond one’s reach. A sigh is an aspiration in both senses of the word: an exhalation of breath and a heartfelt wish. A sigh typically trails off into a deep silence, just as in meditation the intention carried by a sutra is allowed to germinate in the wordless void.

In Irish lore we find the fairy name sigh or sidh (pronounced "shee”), originating from the blast of wind sidhe that carries the vital spirit (comparable to the magician siddha and magic siddhi of Hindu belief).*

For Laplander shamen, a profound sigh seems to carry across the threshold to the otherworld to signal an awakening of oracular powers:
After some preparatory ceremonies, the magician falls senseless and motionless, as if the soul had really abandoned the body. After a lapse of twenty-four hours, the soul returning, the apparently inanimate body awakens as if out of the profound sleep, and utters a deep-drawn sigh, as if emerging from death to life. Thus brought to himself, the magician answers questions put to him, and, to remove all doubt in regard to the character of his responses, he names and describes the places where he has been, with minute circumstances well known to the interrogator.
John Campbell Colquhoun, An History of Magic, Witchcraft, and Animal Magnetism (1851)
In "Ej Haj,” the Hungarian fairy tale by Zsuzsanna Palkó, the titular magician’s name not only sounds like but also means "a sigh.”† The word haj is possibly related to Xai, a Vogul shaman’s "invocation to the supernatural at ritual ceremonies.”† In the tale "János Teddneki,” the King of Devils is named "Hájháj,”† like a double sigh.

A double sigh conjures a magician in this exemplary passage:
A deep sigh escaped his parched lips, and that sigh was echoed by another. He looked up, and standing beside him, in the hush of solemn midnight, he beheld Grimwald the Magician!
—E.B. Clarke, "A Legend of Charlemagne,” The American Monthly Magazine (1837)
A sigh accomplishes a magical effect in this passage:
Jack Starhouse could make [cats] dance wild dances, leaping about upon their hind legs and casting themselves from side to side. This he did by strange sighs and whistlings and hissings.
Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell (2004)
Sometimes, an intricate incantation is expressed through sighs:
He raised his arms, holding them out to her. ‘Kum [kunka] yali, kum buba tambe,’ and more magic words, said so quickly, they sounded like whispers and sighs. The young woman lifted one foot on the air. Then the other. She flew clumsily at first, with the child now held tightly in her arms. Then she felt the magic, the African mystery. Say she rose as free as a bird. As light as a feather.
Virginia Hamilton, The People Could Fly (1985)
In the following passage, a sigh surrounds a magician like a spectral aura as he explains the limits of his art:
The shadow of a sigh penetrated the wall. "I am a magician indeed, with knowledge of every spell yet devised, the sleight of runes, incantations, designs, exorcisms, talismans. I am Master Mathematician, the first since Phandaal, yet I can do nothing to your brain without destroying your intelligence, your personality, your soul—for I am no god. A god may will things to existence; I must rely on magic, the spells which vibrate and twist space.”
Jack Vance, The Dying Earth (1982)
* Abram Smythe Palmer, Folk-Etymology (1882)
† Linda Degh, Folktales and Society (1989)

[Special thanks to Gordon Meyer, for inspiration!]
> read more from The Right Word . . .


The Right Word (permalink)

A felt Centaurea Montana, via HomeWork blog.
From A Surrealist Dictionary by J. Karl Bogartte:

X-RAY: A sewing machine that uses sparks instead of thread.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

July 6, 2008

Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Infundibila
Patron of Soft-Serve Ice Cream.


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


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


 
* 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 . . .

July 5, 2008

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

The black cat category contains /
cats that are black /
and cats that might as well be black /
and things that are black that might as well be cats /
and things that might as well be black and might as well be cats.
—Chris Piuma, a redundancy poem for Gale Czerski

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


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #3:

"The only certainty is that there will be no simple answer."
Peggy Crane, The Month, 1978
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .

July 4, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"We hear the cool wind whispering among the leaves and the pleasant sound of running water — running, running, like a song on each side of the way.  How cool and deliciously suggestive it all is!"
—E. Lynn Linton, "On the Way Home," The Gentleman's Magazine (1884)


Running water drop photo by crnphoto.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


One Mitten Manager (permalink)

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

July 3, 2008

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)

I dreamed of Lord Whimsy's elegant quill pen, its down-like barbs quavering between waggish quips.  "Call me partisan," I recall him saying, "but I've always enjoyed the brief conversational pauses [semicolons] create.  They also allow for a complexity and artistry in the text; without them, language seems to devolve into a series of hard, curt, declarative chirps."
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


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


Page 1: gardening

Page 2: birdhouse

Page 3: tomato

Page 4: swans

Page 5: ship

Page 6: sheep

Page 7: angel

Page 8: bowling

Page 9: starfish

Page 10: Persian carpet


> read more from Glued Snippets . . .


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


 
* 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 . . .

July 2, 2008

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

"The needle and thread made eye contact."


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


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"It is amazing how icy people have become in just two centuries."
James Elkins, Pictures & Tears: A History of People Who Have Cried in Front of Paintings (2001)


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

July 1, 2008

Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Kaikias
Patron of the Northeasterly Winds.

WELCOME, wild Northeaster!
Shame it is to see
Odes to every zephyr;
Ne'er a verse to thee.
Welcome, black Northeaster!
O'er the German foam;
O'er the Danish moorlands,
From thy frozen home.
Tired are we of summer,
Tired of gaudy glare,
Showers soft and steaming,
Hot and breathless air.
Tired of listless dreaming,
Through the lazy day--
Jovial wind of winter
Turn us out to play!
. . .
Come, as came our fathers,
Heralded by thee,
Conquering from the eastward,
Lords by land and sea.
Come; and strong, within us
Stir the Vikings' blood;
Bracing brain and sinew;
Blow, thou wind of God!

—Charles Kingsley


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


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

She was dressed in rich materials satins, and lace, and silks all of white. Her shoes were white. And she had a long white veil dependent from her hair, and she had bridal flowers in her hair, but her hair was white. . . . [Then] I saw that everything . . . which ought to be white, had been white long ago, and had lost its lustre, and was faded and yellow. I saw that the bride within the bridal dress had withered like the dress, and like the flowers.
—Charles Dickins, Great Expectations, 1861.

* 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 . . .



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