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.
August 31, 2008

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed of neurons flashing like heavenly asterisks.*

*"For every axon, an equal and apposite re-axon." —Gary Barwin, who goes on to explain that "On its own, a semi-colon is a complete thought.  It is a synapse: jumping from the axon of one thing to the dendrite of another.  From the axon of the period to the dendrite of the comma."
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


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 . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #6:

"Man is dirt, sand, and dung; this [is] the sole certainty."
Carl Richard Mueller, Georg Büchner: Complete Plays and Prose, 1963
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)
"Certainly London fascinates.  One visualizes it as a tract of quivering grey, intelligent without purpose, and excitable without love; as a spirit that has altered before it can be chronicled; as a heart that certainly beats, but with no pulsation of humanity."
E.M. Forster, Howards End, 1910.


A gray grid, from here.  Quotation via dj misc.
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

August 30, 2008

Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)
> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .


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

These lines from Gary Barwin's "Inverting the Deer"

do not touch deer
and you will not touch deer

inspired the following sign.


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


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Our magician friend Fred discovered a perfect way for keeping mimes out of your yard.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)

Photo by Jimbo3DC.
Saint Metrorailus of Dantantius
Patron of Suffering Commuters.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .

August 29, 2008

Colorful Allusions (permalink)
"The postage stamp of light still flashed above them."
Bodie Thoene, A Daughter of Zion (1987)


"In the Dark, Do I Exist," a drawing on a vintage envelope by Elizabeth Jeffries.
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


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

ELEVATOR: A soft, spongy mass that consumes its weight in gold.


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

August 28, 2008

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


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


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Did you know that John Venn's innovations overlapped with some of Charles Lutwidge Dodgson's diagrams?
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .

August 27, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
A "dangling ampersand," like a dangling shoelace, can affect any of us.  Our whimsical look at the phenomenon appears today at the ever-hilarious SPOGG (Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar).
> read more from The Right Word . . .


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

Book collectors "appreciate" vintage stock.
What's this blue book's value?
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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 . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Eleanor sat back under the shade of her white umbrella. The air seemed to hum with the heat. The air seemed to smell of soap and chemicals. How thoroughly people wash in England, she thought, looking at the yellow soap, the green soap, and the pink soap in the chemist’s window.
—Virginia Woolf, The Years, 1937.

* 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 . . .

August 26, 2008

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


(This is a spoof of a diagram by community planning expert Mary C. Means.)
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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

EROS: A species of hunting dog with bright red feathers.


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

August 25, 2008

Images Moving Through Time (permalink)

An Animated Collage of a Hans Freibusch Mural

At the fairy-tale Welsh village of Portmeirion, Hans Feibusch's classical-style ceiling mural graces the archway of the Gate House.  The figures are pagan deities, reminiscent of ancient zodiacal personages at play in the heavens.  Acrobatically tumbling through the ethers, one figure atop a horse reaches out to join hands with another whose cape billows like a parachute.  Though their fingers haven’t yet touched, their eyes are locked.  The composition suggests a Yin/Yang balance and a clockwise cyclical flow.  These figures may symbolize a connection, bonding, or affinity.  They epitomize the quest for the Other that stretches us as human beings, at the risk of breaking our hearts.

The mural is too large to be photographed in a single frame.  We have animated the reconstruction of the complete image from 23 separate photographs.  Click here to choose your perspective.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Here's a new bit of brilliance from humorist Jonathan Caws-Elwitt,

E-mail takes two basic forms: outgoing messages, which include recycled jokes, idle chitchat, and party invitations; and introverted messages, which include unanswered inquiries, unsent drafts, and "away" messages.

Jonathan adds: "This is an unabashed imitation of the great Tom Weller."
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


The Right Word (permalink)

From our outpost at Blogspot:

Our magician friend and tech wizard Gordon Meyer offers this handy eye chart for focusing on the upcoming publication of Magic Words: A Dictionary. Our new edition of the dictionary features Gordon's magic spell for bringing a snowman to life.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

August 24, 2008

Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which word is funnier: pizza or sandwich?

Clue:  This is according to the book Drawing on the Funny Side of the Brain

Answer:  Pizza, as it is “more specific.”  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Christopher Hart, Drawing on the Funny Side of the Brain (1998), p. 107
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

The Land of Ultimate Bliss has pools of the seven jewels, filled with the eight waters of merit and virtue. The bottom of each pool is pure, spread over with golden sand. On the four sides are stairs of gold, silver, lapis lazuli, and crystal; above are raised pavilions adorned with gold, silver, lapis lazuli, crystal, mother- of- pearl, red pearls, and carnelian.

In the pools are lotuses as large as carriage wheels: green colored of green light; yellow colored of yellow light; red colored of red light; white colored of white light; subtly, wonderfully, fragrant and pure. . . .

[I]n that Buddhaland, when the soft wind blows, the rows of jewelled trees and jewelled nets give forth subtle and wonderful sounds, like one hundred thousand kinds of music played at the same time.
—Buddha, The Amitabha Sutra, as translated by Ronald Epstein, 1970.

* 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 . . .

August 23, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"Other, seemingly more profound, thoughts took over his brain, thoughts such as, To what extent would a given quantity of catnip have affected quantum mechanics in Schrodinger’s theoretical catbox? and Why was C selected to symbolize the speed of light when Z is obviously the fastest letter in the alphabet?"  —Tom Robbins, Fierce Invalids Home From Hot Climates, 2000
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Ornate
Patron of Embellishments.

Saint Ornate is quoted as saying, "There is the beauty of the natural world and the beauty we add in to it.  Mother Nature surely went overboard, let us join her." 

Devotees exhibit love through overuse.

_____

Jonathan quips:

And, of course, she's commemorated in the name of the St. Ornate Foods Co., Inc., purveyors of cake icing, parsley sprigs, and maraschino cherries.


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

August 22, 2008

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)

Learn about the proposed interrocolon here.
I dreamed of a funhouse mirror, which warped and inverted my reflection.  Then, suddenly, the funhouse transformed into my own living room, and the strange reflection became an interrocolon, who was visiting for tea.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


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

ESTROGEN: Wishbone used for rearranging constellations.


Wishbone star by Wortenoogle.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
A great book . . . though I couldn't fathom pages 26-27.


Source.  Via ffffound.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

August 21, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Our colorful friend DJ Misc has a fun collection white-space "rivers"—typographic columns of gaps in a text.  This one, for example, has a delightful em-dash "bridge" crossing the river of white space.  Here and here are two more dramatic examples.

Joining in the fun, we discovered a deliciously ironic river of white space, in a text on how the White River area of the Black Hills region was affected by "rapid weathering and vigorous erosion."  DJ Misc has added it to his collection.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


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


Inspired by Jeff at Omegaword.  Here's Jeff's delightful "subversion" of the nail.
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 . . .


Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
"People don't eat chocolate: Such was the prevailing wisdom of the 1970s.  In the decade of leisure suits and disco, chocolate had become a pariah."
Joël Glenn Brenner, The Emperors of Chocolate: Inside the Secret World of Hershey and Mars (2000)


Kelley Walker's "Circle in circle," 2006, features cast chocolate with fiberglass.  Via Paula Cooper Gallery.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Through his half- open eyes he saw hands holding flowers thin hands, fine hands; but hands that belonged to no one. And were they flowers the hands held? Or mountains? Blue mountains with violet shadows? Then petals fell. Pink, yellow, white, with violet shadows, the petals fell. They fall and fall and cover all, he murmured. And there was the stem of a wine- glass; the rim of a plate; and a bowl of water. The hands went on picking up flower after flower; that was a white rose; that was a yellow rose; that was rose with violet valleys in its petals. There they hung, many folded, many coloured, drooping over the rim of the bowl. And petals fell. There they lay, violet and yellow, little shallops, boats on a river. And he was floating, and drifting, in a shallop, in a petal, down a river. . . .
—Virginia Woolf, The Years, 1937.

* 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 . . .

August 20, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)


A heading in Financial Modelling with Jump Processes by Rama Cont & Peter Tankov (2004)

A still from Lar Von Trier's brilliant The Kingdom television series.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I couldn't sleep last night.  I tried counting sheep . . . but only saw ellipses!


Detail from "A Frolic of Ellipses," from a nameless yeast's flickr gallery.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


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


Compare our Inblot Eye Chart to this one we just discovered.  Great minds think alike.
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 . . .


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 . . .

August 19, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Belated thanks to the folks at Lists Galore for spotlighting our interactive "100 Ways I Failed to Boil Water."
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)

i dreamed of the eye and the beard of an Egyptian deity.

[This dream was inspired by Gary Barwin.]
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
"It took the brunt of the weather and so was in need of a good lick of paint."
Kenneth J. Harvey, The Town That Forgot How to Breathe (2005)


An abandoned vehicles spray painted by artist Rory Macbeth.
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


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

FOETUS: Form of hysteria contracted while moving around in a solar eclipse.


Photo by Diego Epstein.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

August 18, 2008

Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)

The Devil’s Trill

"Hey, a soul can't be bought, nor can a soul be sold."
Thompson Twins, "Shake It Down," Queer

Who could count how many musicians have sold their souls for unearthly talent?  The violinist Paganini was rumored to have made such a contract, and the blues guitarist Robert Johnson famously bragged that he had.  We’re by no means suggesting that either the British pop band Thompson Twins or the German soul/electro singer Billie Ray Martin sold their souls for their exquisite musical abilities.  (If we were indeed privy to such diabolical secrets, we’d be all the less likely to whisper them about!)  We merely call your attention to the unconventional personage who accompanied each band on stage.  Wearing a large hat that obscures his face, this archetypal figure in black looked nothing like the rest of the band.  Exuding aloofness and confidence, this maverick appeared to be some sort of "puppet master,” pulling the band’s strings even as he manipulated his own bass or steel guitar.  In the case of Thompson Twins, the mysterious figure even brazenly shape-shifts, his shadow growing larger and smaller as he performs behind a massive screen.  Of course, two different musicians played out the role of the hat-wearing figure in black; while their identities are known, it is the archetype they played out that is in question.

Figure One: the bassist in black (right) looks nothing like the zany members of Thompson Twins in this 1985 Liverpool performance.




Figure Two: The bassist looms over the band.  Here he is seen in enlarged shadow form.




Figure Three: Another view of the mysterious bassist looming over vocalist Tom Bailey.




Figure Four: Shapeshifting from behind a screen, the enigmatic bassist repeatedly changes size.




Figure Five: Behind Billie Ray Martin sits Mr. X, his face always hidden by his incongruous cowboy hat, in this 1995 performance on the "Later With Jools Holland” television program.




Figure Six: What archetype is this mysterious figure playing out, performing a pedal steel guitar in an electronic dance band?

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


Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
"The cone room turned out to be shaped like a giant cone, unsurprisingly.  In its center was an old woman wearing a snowy shroud.  'I am the Ice Queen Crone,' she said."
Piers Anthony, Demons Don't Dream (1994)


A hail cannon, via bldgblog, via ffffound.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .

August 17, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
"If holding the mask in place is a problem, punching holes on either side of the mask and running a string or rubber band through them will allow you to put the mask on the child's face for the final display of the artwork."
Paula Chan Bing, Arts Resource Handbook (2003)


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


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Hecamede now drew up for them a polished table / With blue enamelled feet, and set on it / A bronze basket, and next to it an onion / Grated for their drink, and pale green honey, / And sacred barley meal. Then she set down / A magnificent cup the old man had brought from home, / Studded with gold rivets. It had four handles, / With a pair of golden doves pecking at each, / And a double base beneath. . . . / Into this cup Hecamede, beautiful as a goddess, / Poured Pramnian wine, grated goat cheese into it / With a brazed grater, and sprinkled white barley on top. / She motioned for them to drink.
—Homer, The Iliad, translated by Stanley Lombardo, 1997.

* 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 . . .

August 16, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
Each tree is an alphabet. Or
each tree is a single letter.
Can’t pronounce the forest for the trees.
Gary Barwin, the Serif of Nottingblog


> read more from The Right Word . . .


Pfft! (permalink)
"At night, a figure in dungarees with a mop of shaggy hair would have shaken a canister and angrily, joyfully, sprayed graffiti on the substation: pfft!" —Francesca Ferguson, Deutschlandscape
* The British expression "noise stroke gesture" (in American parlance, "noise slash gesture" or "noise/gesture") refers to the intriguing fact that some vocal expressions seem to call for an accompanying hand gesture.  Take, for example, Pfft!  No matter what its intended meaning, it virtually demands to be echoed in sign language.  Have you noticed a pfft hand gesture in print?  Please share!

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


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Gear
Patron of Clockwork Parts.


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

August 15, 2008

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


 
Inspired by Jeff at Omegaword, who owes us a round of laser resurfacing for all the laugh lines.
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)
"I mean, who wears ties these days?  Come home at night, take this noose off, and my neck looks like I've been the guest of honor at a lynching."
Richard Marinick, Boyos (2004)


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


The Right Word (permalink)

Photo by Michael Rolig.
From A Surrealist Dictionary by J. Karl Bogartte:

GLANCE: A bitter tasting fungus often used for catching shadows.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

August 14, 2008

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

Photo by trekkyandy.
Southwest Airlines was envisaged not with a paper airplane (as Hollywood might lead you to believe) but rather on the back of a napkin.  (See this BusinessWeek article for a picture of the doodle.)  It could be said (though it won't be) that the napkin's flexibility has "rubbed off" on the company, not to mention elegance, durability, absorbability, and stain resistance.  Speaking of napkins in Hollywood, it appears that an uncanny look-alike of former Senator John Edwards has written a book about napkin doodling.  (Surprisingly, and some might say disappointingly, the book is printed on regular paper.)

This is all simply to say that literary scalawag Jonathan Caws-Elwitt envisions celebrity-quality napkins in cocktail and dinner sizes, strong enough to guarantee the longevity "required by the demands of immortality."  See Jonathan's proposal here.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"Whenever you encounter a situation that seems to have a lock on it, one of these keys will fit.  As you become more accustomed to using them, you will more quickly recognize which one to use."
Stephen Arterburn and David A. Stoop, Transformation (2006)


Image from a video installation by Daniel Bejar.  Via vvork.

Jonathan writes:

Haha, it's a key-board!
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Like a sprawling, misshapen Christmas tree the lights of Sector Twelve General Hospital blazed against the misty backdrop of the stars. From its view- ports shone lights that were yellow and red- orange and soft, liquid green, and others which were a searing actinic blue. There was darkness in places also. Behind these areas of opaque metal plating lay sections wherein the lighting was so viciously incandescent that the eyes of approaching ships' pilots had to be protected from it, or compartments which were so dark and cold that not even the light which filtered in from the stars could be allowed to penetrate to their inhabitants.
—James White, Hospital Station, 1962.

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

August 13, 2008

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


 
Thanks to Gary Barwin for inspiration.
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 . . .


Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
"Not a single squirrel-cup was seen on our path to-day, yet they abound in many places."
Susan Fenimore Cooper, Rural Hours (1850)


Artwork 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 . . .

August 12, 2008

Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)
Earlier this year, humorist Barry Foy wrote a hilarious spoof about how the melting glaciers will fill the ocean with new fish: Antarctic Ice Melt Restocks World's Seas.  From the "humor is no match for truth" department, get a load of this serious headline in National Geographic News: Shellfish May Invade North Atlantic As Ice Melts.  Way to go, Barry, for using wit to foretell the future!
* 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 . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
"The Sumerian epic of Gilgamesh might be the oldest piece of literature we have; it has lost nothing of its original freshness.  Gilgamesh for Apes is an attempt to translate it into the pictorial language used by American and Japanese  primate centres teaching language to great apes."  See the PDF here.


A sample page from Gilgamesh for Apes, by our friends at Crystalpunk.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
"No matter what I rolled, it was either a duplicate of something I already had on my score sheet or a useless set of dice that could only go into my 'Chance' column."
Brian Frazer, Hyper-Chondriac (2007)


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

August 11, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
Though we'll soon be sharing more pages of our new book Annotated Ellipses here at Abecedarian, we can't resist quoting the early reviews:

From Martha Brockenbrough, author of Things That Make Us [Sic]:
Here's a delightful new book by Craig Conley: Annotated Ellipses.  In it, he takes a page from The Wind Bloweth, a ellipse-filled novel by Donn Byrne, and he explains the hidden story behind all those daffy dots. It's so creative, so funny, and so completely Craig, who also wrote a dictionary of one-letter words and a field guide to identifying unicorns by sound (really!).  We love it!

From Gordon Meyer, author of Smart Home Hacks:
Very charming. ... It's visual theatre.

From <Gary Barwin, author of Seeing Stars:
Fantastic.  Really lovely use and fragmentation/elaboration of the source text, something very allusively numinous and resonant.  The idea of what lies behind the ellipses ... what has been left out, the ellipse as a hole/portal into another world, as .... a 'mark of three,' as three places in an alphabet of symbols/signs/sigils, is fantastic, and very evocative.


A page from Annotated Ellipses.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
Prof. Oddfellow dedicates this piece to Barry Foy, in honor of the debut of the hilarious Devil's Food Dictionary.


> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: “whiskers” or “mutton chops”?

Clue:  This is according to literary humorists Jonathan Caws-Elwitt and Laurence Sterne.

Answer:  mutton chops. Mr. Caws Elwitt explains: “In a room full of ordinary words, I feel that ‘whiskers’ would most likely be the life of the party. But the triumph of ‘mutton chops’ is, I think, overdetermined, given the inherent silliness of both of the two individual words; the synergistic effect of their combination; and the conceptual silliness of describing facial hair with reference to a food.” (The answer is in black text on the black background. Highlight it to view.)
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

August 10, 2008

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed I participated in a cakewalk with a spastic colon.  (My dream was no doubt inspired by Jeff at Omegaword.)
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


Unicorns (permalink)
Jonathan shares this deilghtful Robert Benchley snippet:

G. B. Stern, in her delightful book Monogram ... tells of her rage, about three years ago, at learning that there were no such animals as unicorns.

All her life she had simply taken it for granted that there were unicorns. "That there should not be is plainly silly," she says. "Who can deny that there are zebras? And zebras are even striped, which is absurd. Well, then, there must be unicorns or how are we to manage?"

I think that possibly Miss Stern is a little too upset right now to look at the lack of unicorns in its right perspective. Her desperate cry of "or how are we to manage?" is born of the suddenness of the whole thing's breaking on her like this. In a year or two Time, the Great Kidder, will have fooled her into thinking that we are managing all right without unicorns, and only occasionally will she wince when looking at the "By Royal Appointment" signs.
> read more from Unicorns . . .


Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
"The infant and the toddler are occasionally washed with water from a gourd."
Wilfred Vernon Grigson, The Maria Gonds of Bastar (1938)


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

August 9, 2008

Strange Dreams (permalink)
Alex shares this strange dream:

My dream began at a pet store that resembled a big warehouse.  I was in search of a pet octopus.  I was assisted by a young man who placed a maroon-colored octopus in my arms.  I walked around with it in my arms for a while and decided to set it down for a while.  It started running around, and I chased after it.  Not long into the chase I became frightened and ran from it; here the octopus started chasing me.  The young man who had given me the octopus caught it and again placed it in my arms.  I began walking again and decided to buy the octopus some food, so I asked the octopus what it liked to eat.  The octopus couldn't talk, but we could communicate.  I stopped suddenly in front of a row or clear refrigirators and asked the octopus if it could shock me.  The octopus responded by placing one of his tentacles in my mouth.  I fell to the floor where I lay for a minute; when I arose, the octopus was again placed in my arms.  We headed to the reptile section.  I stopped in front of an aquarium where snakes had tried to escape through the bottom but had suddenly died.  Half of their bodies had managed to taste freedom.  I blinked and suddenly I was in a stranger's driveway.  His garage was open so I walked inside.  His pets were dying, among them a dog, already covered in maggots.  I walked inside and was greated by a young male.  I asked him if I could use his bathroom he said yes and showed me the way.  The inside was covered in blue carpet and there were three steps that led down to the toilet.  I closed my eyes for a second and when I opened them I found myself in a classroom.  The classroom resembled the classrooms in the movie Matilda.  There were only girls inside the classroom, all no older than 13.  They were all waiting in line holding AM/PM cups.  I too was holding one and was told to urinate in it.  There was a table on the right side of the classroom where all the cups were being placed.  I did what I was told and I gave it to my instructor.  She looked inside and said that it was the right color; I didn't understand.  At the end of my dream I realized that the world was ending and the color of my urine was the only way to save the world.  (I am not sure why this was the solution.)  I also realized that the only reason why my urine was the right color was because the octopus had shocked me.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .


Pfft! (permalink)
"'Pfft, Pfft . . . Pfft, Pfft . . . Pfft, Pfft' was all that was heard during the next one and half seconds before the lights came back on." —Martin C. Arostegui, Twilight Warriors
* The British expression "noise stroke gesture" (in American parlance, "noise slash gesture" or "noise/gesture") refers to the intriguing fact that some vocal expressions seem to call for an accompanying hand gesture.  Take, for example, Pfft!  No matter what its intended meaning, it virtually demands to be echoed in sign language.  Have you noticed a pfft hand gesture in print?  Please share!

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


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Pennybags
Patron of Monopoly Money.


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

August 8, 2008

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed I was summoned to the court of The Great Queen Copyeditor, who treated me to an evening of instrumental chamber music.  (Imagine my surprise to discover that the sheet music was punctuated with numerous semicolons!)
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


Uncharted Territories (permalink)
"Back in the crumpled space whence this side trip had begun, Anna got a container of ravioli from her pack and let Sondra eat half of it."
Nevada Barr, Blind Descent (1999)


Image by Michael Dean, via manystuff.
> read more from Uncharted Territories . . .


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

LOOM: A golden dust used for hypnotizing wolves.


Photo by Kamia the Wolf.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

August 7, 2008

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
[Dedicated to our friends at The Ampersand blog.]

I dreamed I visited Ampersand Mountain / Lake / Stream.*


 
* Which came first: Ampersand Stream, or Lake, or Mountain?  Here's an intriguing explanation from The Gentleman's Magazine, 1892:

Ampersand is a mountain.  It is a lake.  It is a stream.  The mountain stands in the heart of the Adirondack country, just near enough to the thoroughfare of travel for thousands of people to see it every year, and just far enough away from the beaten track to be unvisited, except by a very few of the wise ones who love to digress.  Behind the mountain is the lake, which no lazy man has ever seen.  Out of the lake flows the stream, winding down a long, untrodden forest valley, until at length it joins the Stony Creek waters, and empties into the Raquette River.  Which of the three Ampersands has the prior claim to the name I cannot tell.
    Philosophically speaking, the mountain ought to be regarded as the father of the family, because it was undoubtedly there before the others existed.  And the lake was probably the next on the ground, because the stream is its child.  But man is not strictly correct in his nomenclature; and I conjecture that the little river, the last-born of the three, was the first to be called Ampersand, and then gave its name to its parent and grandparent.  It is such a crooked stream, so bent and curved and twisted upon itself, so fond of turning around unexpected corners, and sweeping away in great circles from its direct course, that its first explorers christened it after the eccentric supernumerary of the alphabet which appears in the old spelling book as &.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


Images Moving Through Time (permalink)



 
(Part one of a research/collage project inspired by Chris Piuma and dedicated to Geof Huth.  Thanks to Gordon Meyer for invaluable support.)

Top clipping from John E. Woods' translation of Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann (Vintage International Edition, 1999).
Middle clipping from H.T. Lowe-Porter's translation of Doctor Faustus by Thomas Mann (Knopf, 1948).
Bottom clipping from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Faustus (Boosey & Sons, 1821)

---

Carson Park Ranger writes:

Asterisks seem to exist only on hand-held devices anymore where, sadly, they are referred to as star.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .

August 6, 2008

Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)

Our insight that the Welsh village of Portmeirion is none other than a three-dimensional deck of Tarot cards is gathering renown.  Our latest coverage is in Pentacle Magazine.  (You can read the article online here.)  Previous coverage includes The Association for Tarot Studies Newsletter, Aeclectic Tarot, and the Prisoner Appreciation Society's Free For All magazine.
> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
"I imagine that dark matter consists of an almost infinite number of punctuation marks.  Interstellar punctuation to clarify the grammar of the universe."
Gary Barwin, Serif of Nottingblog


This image is from the cover of our new whimsical study of ellipses, which we'll serialize on Abecedarian in the coming months.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)
May you have the strength to voice your sharp red song
     Without thorn of envy.
—Caroline Boon, "A Celtic Blessing," Chatter of Choughs (2005)
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


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 . . .

August 5, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
"I wonder at what point a dictionary becomes a zoo full of caged animals that bear only a trifling resemblance to the wild beasts that roam the veldt." —Geof Huth
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Strange Dreams (permalink)
"I am a closet stuffed bunny.  But I am also a penny-farthing bicycle."
fafnir


Image via etsy, via ffffound.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .


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

SADISM: Moments during the vernal equinox when sunlight turns into honey.


Photo by beckylicious721.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

August 4, 2008

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed I went to the hospital for a "micro-scansion."  I overheard the doctor, Gary Barwin, discussing the potential of finding neutrinos inside the comma and for calculating an accurate table of gravitational pull for semicolons of various font sizes.


Illustration by the inimitable Gary Barwin of the Serif of Nottingblog.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


The Right Word (permalink)

Source.
Here's a curious item we shared with our friends at SPOGG.  It's an illustration from a BBC article about a woman who hid her illiteracy for 40 years.  Notice the glaring omission of both pound signs (the crosshatch and the monetary unit).  In American maledicta, the # and $ play significant roles.  There are several periods in this illustration, but certainly the semicolon is more colorful?!  Note also that Z, X, W, and J are here inexplicably considered indecipherable.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Light itself, which every thing displays, / Shone undiscovered, till his brighter mind / Untwisted all the shining robe of day; / And, from the whiten- ing undistinguished blaze, / Collecting every ray into his kind, / To the charmed eye educed the gorgeous train / Of parent colours. First the flaming red / Sprung vivid forth; the tawny orange next; / And next delicious yellow; by whose side / Fell the kind beams of all- refreshing green. / Then the pure blue, that swells autumnal skies, / Ethereal played; and then, of sadder hue, / Emerged the deepened indigo, as when / The heavy- skirted evening droops with frost; / While the last gleamings of refracted light / Died in the fainting violet away.
—James Thomson (1700-48), To the Memory of Sir Isaac Newton.

* 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 . . .

August 3, 2008

Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
We saw this "happy biking" poster and couldn't help thinking that "happy skateboarding" would make more visual sense.


Poster detail via ffffound.

> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #5:

"The only certainty is that movement, change, and metamorphosis exist."
Charlotte Benton, Figuration/Abstracton, 2004
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
"After the bow of ribbon Katherine's heart soon flies.  Unlike her sister, whose heart has found a safe resting place among her own people, Katherine's heart must rove from home—must know the utmost all that life holds of both joy and sorrow."
—from the description of Amelia E. Barr's The Bow of Orange Ribbon


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

August 2, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
"Elaboration is a form of pollution."
Jenny Holzer
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Pfft! (permalink)
"Every spritz makes a pfft." —Wilhelm Genazino, The Shoe Tester of Frankfurt
* The British expression "noise stroke gesture" (in American parlance, "noise slash gesture" or "noise/gesture") refers to the intriguing fact that some vocal expressions seem to call for an accompanying hand gesture.  Take, for example, Pfft!  No matter what its intended meaning, it virtually demands to be echoed in sign language.  Have you noticed a pfft hand gesture in print?  Please share!

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


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Robusta
Patron of Excellent Coffee.


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

August 1, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"We can rediscover the continuity of time only in the novels of that period when time no longer seemed stopped and did not yet seem to have exploded, a period that lasted no more than a hundred years."
Italo Calvino, If On a Winter's Night a Traveler (the masterpiece)
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
"The crocodile pulled for his dinner."
John Alden Houlder, Among the Malagasy (1912)


Larger version here.  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 . . .



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