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.
September 30, 2008

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


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


Book of Whispers (permalink)
"Gods liked to conceal themselves in curious places.  That was the first law of great secrets."
Norman Mailer, Ancient Evenings  (It's no secret how much as love and respect this novel.)
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

When we last met the red petals of the flowers were falling like rain on the green moss. / After we had separated, the faded leaves lay scattered in the evening mist.
—Hsi Hsiang Chi, The Romance of the Western Chamber, translated by S.I. Hiung, 1936.

* 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 . . .

September 29, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)
Two entries from our new edition of Magic Words are featured in this review/editorial about the importance of magic words for people recovering from trauma:

http://dianapagejordan.com/blog/2008/09/once-upon-time.php
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)
Here are some hilarious translations of Nostradamus' prophecies. For example:

No. MMMM.
Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques,
Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?
Sonnez les matines. Sonnez les matines.
Din, din, don. Din, din, don.

The Zebu of the North takes wing
And rolls the English Channel back;
The Archaeopteryx will sing
And run the Mallard off the track.

There is no need to explain the significance of this quatrain, which predicts the election of Boris Johnson as mayor of London. Indeed, the significance is so extraordinarily obvious that it is surprising, in hindsight, that this interpretation was not discovered until May 3, 2008.
> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Math babes have prime measurements.

After math dudes do it, they check their work.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Some scientists (especially physicists) [and] some artists (especially musicians) . . . noticed long ago that a musical sound, for example, provokes an association of a precise color. . . . Stated otherwise, you hear the color and you see the sound. . . .

YELLOW . . . possesses the special capacity to ascend higher and higher and to attain heights unbearable to the eye and the spirit; the sound of trumpet played higher and higher becoming more and more pointed,’ giving pain to the ear and to the spirit. BLUE, with the completely opposite power to descend into infinite depths, develops the sounds of the flute (when it is light blue), of the cello (when it has descended farther), of the double bass with its magnificent deep sounds; and in the depths of the organ you see the depths of blue. GREEN is well balanced and corresponds to the medium and the attenuated sounds of the violin. When skillfully applied, RED (vermillion) can give the impression of strong drum beats, etc.”
—Wassily Kandinsky, Concrete Art, 1938.

* 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 . . .

September 28, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"A quarter of an acre was planted with six distinct strains of specially selected and bred swamp blueberry stock."
—Bulletin of the Massachusetts Agricultural Experiment Station, 1916 (italics ours)


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


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"There is something soothing about the fog, especially from a distance, some sense that the world might not make any sense but that it wasn't designed to hurt us, just to entice us into thinking." —Geof Huth
> 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 b-art

The Most Forbidden Color

The fiery color red has long been controversial — so controversial, in fact, that it is commonly banned outright lest it inflame strong emotions, spark revolution, kindle anger, inspire boldness, instigate bloodshed, arouse lust, or provoke pain. Is it preposterous to think that a single color can be dangerous to society? Consider the following examples of forbidden reds from modern to ancient times. Then ask yourself: do you dare to use or wear the color red today? Is red worth the risk of arrest, imprisonment, or even a death sentence? Ultimately, is red (or any color) worth championing?

forbidden

Director Michael Mann banned the color red from appearing in his film Miami Vice, as he has a personal dislike for red and other earth tones. (Source: New York Times.)

The American Civil Liberties Union reported the first known instance of an educational institution reacting to gang fears by banning a primary color. In reaction to school vandalism and the threat of violence, "officials at Round Rock High School in Texas banned the color red. ... Apparently the gang responsible for these incidents wore red—about forty students wearing red items were sequestered in the library, and the parents were called." (Source: Leland Gregory, Hey, Idiot!: Chronicles of Human Stupidity.)

outlaw

In 1887, Chicago police banned the color red from labor union advertisements of the Knights of Labor. This was a colorful example of the anti-Communist "red scare." (Source: Economic History Encyclopedia.)

Daniels Farm Elementary School in Trumbull, Connecticut banned its teachers from using red ink to grade student homework. Apparently, parents objected to red as being "too stressful" and symbolic of negativity. "The disillusionment with red is part of a major shift in grading, and three top pen manufacturers have heard the complaints. As a result, Bic, Pilot Pen, and Sanford (the manufacturer of Papermate and Sharpie) are producing more purple pens in response to rising sales. According to Pilot Pen’s vice president of marketing, school leaders are 'trying to be positive and reinforcing rather than being harsh. Teachers are taking that to heart.'" (Source: Lisa Orlando, "The Ink That Teachers Use To Grade Papers Has Parents Seeing Red.")

forbidden

The government of Saudi Arabia banned the color red around Valentine's Day, in a move to discourage Muslims from observing the Western holiday. Red flowers, plush hearts, wrapping paper, and other red items were illegal to sell. As a result of the ban on red roses, a black market has flowered. (Source: Saudi Gazette.)

In Israel, the color red was banned from kosher clothing stores. (Source: Sensationalcolor.com.)

forbidden

Warren S. Jeffs, "the man revered as the prophet of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints," banned the color red from clothing when he took power in 2002. (Source: Newsweek.)

The government of Zimbabwe denied banning the color red from television, though AIDS activists reported being told to remove their red ribbons before filming. (Source: BBC News.)

Crime

In traditional funerals in Japan, red was forbidden because it is "a celebratory color." (Source: Pikatto.) Similarly, in China red was forbidden during periods of mourning. (Source: Beverley Jackson, Splendid Slippers.) And in Estonia, the color red is traditionally forbidden from funerals and other important rites of passage. (Source: Science Direct.)

Medieval Spain banned the color red from garments due to its association with blood, the devil, and witchery. Spaniards reportedly began wearing red under their clothes, giving rise to the popularity of red underwear. (Source: Why Fashion?)

forbidden

On the Cook Island of Mangaia, "anything red was forbidden ... as being offensive to the gods." (Source: James Frazer, Belief in Immortality and the Worship of the Dead, Vol. 2.)

At the New Jersey College for Women in the 1920s, the red clothing was forbidden to freshmen. "Only sophomores and up could wear red." (Source: Rutgers.)

Outlaw

In 1990, the United States Food and Drug Administration banned carcinogenic Red Dye No. 3 in cosmetics and topical drugs. (Source: BNET.)

Though red is hard to beat in terms of controversy, other colors have found themselves on the chopping block. Following are a few brief examples.

Forbidden Yellow:

President William McKinley's wife banned the color yellow from the White House. (Source: Jane O'Connor, If the Walls Could Talk: Family Life at the White House.)

light_banned

Forbidden Orange:

The Dutch Patriot Movement of the 1780s banned the color orange. (Source: Peter Boticelli.)

Outlaw

Forbidden Green:

Voyage, a New York City Caribbean bistro, banned the color green from its decor. (Source: The Village Voice.)

Early Christians banned the color green due to its pagan connotations. (Source: Rolling Rainbow: Color Matters.)

Forbidden

Forbidden Purple:

The founder of the Woman Suffrage Party, Carrie Chapman Catt, banned the color purple from parades to dissociate her movement from the militant National Woman's Party. (Source: Heritage.)

forbidden

Forbidden Brown:

Students at Molloy Alternative High School in Lowell, Massachusetts were forbidden from wearing the color brown, due to the emergence of the "Brown Mafia," a teenage gang. (Source: WHDH.)

outlawed

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

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

September 27, 2008

Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator (permalink)
Thanks to the Serif of Nottingblog for today's delightful Tic Tac Toem:


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

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


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 #8:

"Death is the only reality, for it is the only certainty, inevitable to all things."
Jamaica Kincaid, The Autobiography of My Mother, 1996
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .

September 26, 2008

Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which word is funnier: mail or junk mail?

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

Answer:  Junk mail, as it is “low rent.”  (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 . . .


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

by chema.foces

Shades of the Unexpected

What makes a color "unexpected" is a difference from the norm or a breaking of the rules. Consider, for example, a fiery red nimbus cloud amongst common white ones, an impatient yellow blossom amongst green buds, or an anomalous brown nut amongst its candy-covered companions. A mismatched color can jolt the viewer into a new way of looking. It can offer:

  • a rhythm to the palette
  • a lively surprise
  • a sense of depth or substance
  • a punchy contrast
  • a delightful idiosyncrasy
  • an inspirational boost
  • a festive mood
  • unexpected warmth
  • a "not too serious" tone
  • a fun nuance
  • a reason to smile
Little Red Angel
by jpmatth



An anomalous pile of blue sticks next to an orange-leafed tree in an autumnal glade served as the inspiration for the "Stick Figures" palette.

Stick FiguresStick Figures
by ISphoto



A green and red cactus in a Kingman, Arizona parking lot served as the inspiration for the "Cactus Erroneous" palette.

Cactus ErroneousCactus Erroneous
by cobalt123

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

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

September 25, 2008

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
"You cannot impose upon a shower of meteors the luminous sequence of the wheeling constellations without its forthwith ceasing to be the thing it is." —John Livingston Lowes, The Road to Xanadu: A Study in the Ways of the Imagination, 1927
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


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


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

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


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Eddie Jordan
Patron of Revolving Doors.


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


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

First China’s sons, with early art elate, / Form’d the gay tea- pot, and the pictured plate; / Saw with illumined brow and dazzled eyes / In the red stove vitrescent colours rise; / Speck’d her tall beakers with enamel’d stars, / Her monster- josses, and gigantic jars; / Smear’d her huge dragons with metallic hues, / With golden purples, and cobaltic blues; / Bade on wide hills her porcelain castles glare, / And glazed Pagodas tremble in the air.
—Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), Botanic Garden.

* 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 . . .

September 24, 2008

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
Et Ceterating the Rainbow

a guest blog by the incomparable Jeff (inspired by our ampersand piece below)

Aunt Blim was confused about many things, and shouldn't have been allowed near the children.  Her habit of mixing metaphors—especially in combination with her disregard for syntax—was bad enough, but when I told my classmates that Goldilocks had murdered the leprechauns because they threw cold porridge in her face, I was chased around the schoolyard until I fell down.

Worse, aunt Blim had been schooled during a particularly difficult period—circa 1880, according to her parrot—and so had learned to place an ampersand at the very end of the alphabet, after the letters ran out.  It was a peculiar way of suggesting that more letters might follow, if only one were willing to wait a while.  In effect, it was an et cetera at the end of the alphabet.  While her classmates had moved forward and simply ignored such eccentric teachings, aunt Blim internalized them, passing the madness on to succeeding generations.  Unfortunately, this included mine, which is how I came to believe her twisted version of the Goldilocks tale in the first place.

Passing on warped fables to classmates is one thing, and arguing for archaic principles with your grammar-school teacher is another, but combining the two is likely to get you a fat lip, followed by expulsion.  At least that's the way I remember it.  As I was being conducted to the principal's office by one ear, my teacher was bellowing in the other.

    "There is no ampersand at the end of the rainbow!"

    "There is no ampersand at the end of the rainbow!"

I think she was wrong.


> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
"After someone had been in a fight with Iris, he wasn't anxious to go again."
Garrison Keillor, Love Me, 2003


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


The Right Word (permalink)
Did you know: "Oxygen is an imaginary gas hypothesized in the nineteenth century to account for certain phenomena then not understood. We actually breathe ether."

Or: "Any straight line on the earth’s surface, if extended indefinitely, will eventually pass through Apalachicola."

Or: "The codex, or book with pages bound on one side, was invented as a tool for pressing flowers. An anonymous postclassical herbalist was the first to hit on the idea of writing on the pages."

These and other hilarious fun facts are part of "Dr. Boli's Encyclopedia of Misinformation."
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Puzzles and Games (permalink)

Link to a large size of the photo.
An artist called Highwireart took this photo of an exhibit of Pacific Northewest native masks in Vancouver British Columbia.  Can you locate the 9 masks in the photo as well as the woman?  Click here for a large sized version of the photo.
> read more from Puzzles and Games . . .


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 . . .

September 23, 2008

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


 
Don't miss Dr. Boli's hilarious explanation of all cloud types.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #7:

"The only certainty is that the phenomena are enormously complex."
William James, "The Confidences of a 'Psychical Researcher,'" The American Magazine, 1909
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Isaac Newton started his theory of gravity several times, but he invariably dropped the ball.


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

September 22, 2008

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

This piece was inspired by a poster by The Small Stakes for the band Mates of State.  The poster shows overlapping fingerprints in red ink.  We imagined a bumbling detective with a romantic streak.


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


P I n K S L i P (permalink)

She's so unusual with her gender pronouns!  Photo via.
Cyndi Lauper covers Prince's "When You Were Mine" on her album She's So Unusual.  Lauper receives mixed marks. We applaud her effort to preserve the integrity of several key lyrics, thereby inviting fresh new subtexts to arise.  Yet we resoundly spurn instances of carelessly mangled pronouns that virtually erase any possible new subtexts.

Lauper starts off on a worrying note: she leaves out the word girl in the line, "Oh girl, when you were mine."

However, she makes amends by honoring this original lyric: "I know that you're going with another guy."  Because Lauper deliberately declines to identify the subject of her song as a "girl" in the earlier lyric, it's easy to assume she's singing about a guy.  The words "another guy" are therefore newly intriguing, as her former boyfriend appears to be either gay or bisexual.  Additionally, "another guy" refers back to the speaker, meaning that Lauper associates herself with a masculine identity ("one of the guys").

Lauper's retention of a later lyric, "I used to let you wear all my clothes" preserves the gender-bending of the original Prince recording.  Lauper's subject would appear to be a cross-dresser or drag queen.

Lauper falters, however, when she changes he to you in the following lyric: "I never was the kind to make a fuss when he was there sleeping in-between the two of us."  Her phrase "when you was sleeping in-between the two of us" is nonsensical at best.  Apparently, cross-dressing is okay, but two men in her bed is unthinkable.

Lauper recovers somewhat, retaining the original lyric, "Now I spend my time following him whenever he's with you."  But the hemming, hawing, and hedging has left the listener with a blurred picture.  Mystery and intrigue are one thing; unfocused muddles are quite another.

P.S. Cyndi, we adore you anyway.  ;-)

P.P.S. Thanks to Chris for inspiration.

---

Mike responds:

You have to whip these singers into shape.  Otherwise they'll walk all over you.
> read more from P I n K S L i P . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

All I know / Of a certain star / Is, it can throw / (Like the angled spar) / Now a dart of red, / Now a dart of blue; / Till my friends have said / They would fain see, too, / My star that dartles the red and the blue! / Then it stops like a bird; like a flower, hangs furled: / They must solace themselves with the Saturn above it. / What matter to me if their star is a world? / Mine has opened its soul to me; therefore I love it.
—Robert Browning (1812-89).

* 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 . . .

September 21, 2008

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

Beguiled by a Mystery

(Our guest blog for Gordon Meyer's Rebuilding a Mystery)

The question isn't whether the box is foreground or background; the question is one's own place within in the mystery (in which case, thinking inside the puzzle box may possibly be preferable!)  Optical illusions, phantasmic artwork, and even family snapshots ask us to consider our own beguilement, as it was, as it is, and as it will be.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Fingers on a FlatbedWhile virtually flipping through a scanned book in Google's online library, we came across the scanner's hand. Her hand, covering a blank page, is now immortalized. Note that the pink "finger condoms" match her nail polish. And note that she slipped her diamond rings over the finger condoms. Though not the first scanner's hand we've come across in Google's library, it's the most colorful to date.  In fact, we felt inspired to create a color palette in the hand's honor.

TheOfficeLawyer writes:

Wow.

The scan area is really interesting. It's like she's putting her hand through a rectangular digital portal.

I like that she uses the ring on her middle finger as a holder for the finger cot.

Cubic zirconia looks a lot like really tiny diamonds.

I see that you were unable to salvage any usable color from the nail polish. I agree! The cuticle, though, really is a nice off-white trim color.

Interesting fashion--the cuff looks remarkably like a sweat band. I'm sure that somewhere in there there's a statement about how fashion evolves into the reality of the workplace.


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


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Strato-ellipsus clouds form in the typosphere.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .

September 20, 2008

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

Party goer to mathematician: What's your line?
Mathematician: Two planes.
Party goer: Humph!  Well, I have a Cessna, but I don't brag about it.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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 . . .


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


Image source.  Via ffffound.
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

September 19, 2008

A Fine Line Between... (permalink)

Mister Rogers and his neighborhood, via flickr.
Illusions and Delusions

—or—

Exiled from Mister Rogers' Neighborhood (a true story, and our guest blog at Omegaword)

I'll never forget the day I found myself locked out of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.  Since then, the whole world has looked a little more decrepit.

Improbably, my exile occurred mere hours after my grand arrival.  I'd hardly had time to take in the idyllic wonders of the Neighborhood before I was cruelly banished. Who was it who posited that paradise is timeless?  (Full disclosure: I was the one positing.)  Accordingly, a brief moment of bliss is indistinguishable from an eternity, so the shortness of my experience in Mister Rogers' Neighborhood in no way mitigates the pain of my expulsion.

The instrument of my expulsion?  The cold shards of a shattered illusion.  Here's how it went down: I was on a scenic boat tour in the "Venice of America," Winter Park, Florida.  They have pontoon boats that travel twelve miles through the peaceful lakes of the city (the lakes being connected by canals, originally dug by logging companies to float timber to a nearby train station).  It's a gorgeous tour, not only for the natural beauty of the vegetation and wildlife along the way but also for the stillness of the lake water.  It sounds silly to say that "you feel like you're floating" while in a boat on a lake, but I actually felt like I was floating inches above the water.  It was transcendent, and I was somehow primed for a revelation!  Many people go on this tour to gawk at the mansion homes along the lake shores, as several dozen movie stars, pop singers, and sports figures own winter homes there.  (That includes Carrot Top, though I'm not exactly sure how to categorize him.)  The location is indeed a slice of heaven, and it's no wonder that celebrities can't resist buying their own little morsel (of that carrot cake, as it were).

Naturally, the boat captain recites a spiel along the way, sharing bits of local history and pointing out famous owners of the various mansions.  As an aside (but one which is a piece of the puzzle), I was sitting in the front row, right next to the guide, and he seemed to bond with me in a surprising way.  He made eye contact with me whenever he talked, and if I was ever looking the other way at the scenery, he would confirm I had heard what he'd said as soon as I looked his way again.  It was as if he were giving the spiel just for my benefit, and this feeling was reinforced by the fact that he made personal asides to me throughout.  In other words, he would let go of the speaker button and mutter an additional sentence or two just to me, out of hearing of the other passengers.  The fact that this man both looked and sounded like my grandfather was somewhat eerie, and I readily admit to wondering whether the spirit of my grandfather wasn't somehow connecting with me through this boat captain. One of the houses the guide pointed out was the boyhood home of Mister Rogers.  "When Mister Rogers talked about his 'neighborhood,'" the guide said, "this was it."

At those words, fireworks went off in my head.  This gorgeous lake district that I had fallen in love with was nothing less than Mister Rogers' Neighborhood!  That idyllic neighborhood he sang about wasn't just the stuff of dreams: it was a real place, and I had discovered it!  And it was even more beautiful than I could ever have imagined! It was like an epiphany--suddenly the world didn't seem like such a scary place.  I was practically giddy with joy, and I decided to take the tour again a few hours later, to continue basking in my revelation.  Though there are four different boat captains, I got the same man again, and of course he remembered me.  Little did I know that I was in for a second bombshell, but one I wouldn't like!

This time, when we floated past Mister Rogers' house, somebody piped up with a follow-up question (something trivial and pointless, like "what street is the house on").  In answering that question, the guide explained that it wasn't really Mister Rogers' neighborhood.  "He just rented a room in that house while he was a student at Rollins College, but we like to tell tourists that this is Mister Rogers' neighborhood."

Well, I was devastated!  My newfound illusion had been shattered by an asinine tourist's question.  I figuratively could have strangled that tourist.  (I actually wasn't mad at the guide--in fact, I was charmed by the little fib he had told and would have been quite delighted to go on believing it!  It was the question-asker that enraged me!) For the rest of that tour, I kept thinking about a motto in the 60's television series "The Prisoner": "Questions are a burden to others; answers a prison for oneself."  I was indeed feeling imprisoned by that answer about Mister Rogers' house, for it was locking me out of the idyllic Neighborhood!  I was suddenly an outsider again--shunned, expelled from this paradise.  I wanted my illusion back, as ridiculous as those words sounded in my own head.

While delusions are always negative, illusions aren't necessarily so.  In one of his songs, the flamboyant entertainer Boy George actually defends holding onto one's illusions, defiantly singing: "You can try but you can't shatter my illusions."  That's food for thought (and not a dig at Boy George's weight gain, as everyone knows that your metabolism goes to pot once you reach age 40).  Could consciously sustaining one's illusions be a positive thing?  A false impression seems negative by the very fact of its falsity, yet couldn't it also be pleasing, harmless, and even useful?

But those are questions best left to philosophers, not Swedes.  Er, in the sense that someone once compared exile to the nation of Sweden.  (Full disclosure: I'm not the one who made that comparison; it was in a book about European perspectives on social work with minority groups.)  Let the philosophers speculate while we minorities spend the remainder of our sleepless nights dreaming of a gated community . . . a Neighborhood that's imaginary and untrue.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
Why is the ampersand located above the "7" on a keyboard?  We couldn't find an answer, so we sleuthed out our own!  See our findings at our guest blog for DJMisc!
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)

Full-size image at source.
I dreamed I had tea under the ampersand tree.*

*Inspired by William Heyen's Pig Notes & Dumb Music: Prose on Poetry, which features the following line: "(& I dreamed a tree whose leaves were ampersands. . . .)" [ellipses and parentheses his]
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Eddie
Patron of Convicted Politicians.


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

September 18, 2008

Unicorns (permalink)
London-based designer / design lecturer Ben Stopher ranks our Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound as his favorite.  (Our unicorns beat out caterpillars, the nerd underground, critical thinkers, bosses, gestures, and the militia!)
> read more from Unicorns . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
Our whimsical research on the ampersand has begun appearing around the Web.  For example:

Here's an ampersand crack in a table's surface.

Here's our proof of how an ampersand can curtail a list.

Here's the difference between an ampersand and quicksand.

Here's how an ampersand is exactly like a wheelchair.

Here's an illumination of the notorious "dangling ampersand."
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed that I never got to meet Cormac McCarthy.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


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


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

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


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Do amoebas believe in an afterlife

They're divided on the issue.


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


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

by 29cm

The sunset was magnificent with the intensity and brilliance that can be found only in the tropics. . . . It was a sensual isle, a Biblical land of ruby wines and golden sands and indigo trees. The men stared and stared. The island hovered before them like an Oriental monarch’s conception of heaven, and they responded to it with an acute and terrible longing. It was a vision of all the beauty for which they had ever yearned, all the ecstasy they had ever sought. . . . It could not last. Slowly, inevitably, the beach began to dissolve in the encompassing night. The golden sands grew faint, became gray- green, and darkened. The island sank into the water, and the tide of night washed over the rose and lavender hills. After a little while, there was only the gray- black ocean, the darkened sky, and the evil churning of the gray- white wake. Bits of phosphorescence swirled in the foam. The black dead ocean looked like a mirror of the the night; it was cold, implicit with dread and death. The men felt it absorb them in a silent pervasive terror. They turned back to their cots, settled down for the night, and shuddered for a long while in their blankets.
—Norman Mailer, The Naked and the Dead, 1948.

* 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 . . .

September 17, 2008

P I n K S L i P (permalink)
Today we honor Corey Haim, a voice of sanity in an insane world of song-lyric-pronoun abuse.  In the film The Lost Boys, Haim sings "Ain't Got No Home" by Clarence "Frogman" Henry.  Does Haim butcher the original lyrics?  Absolutely not!  Haim isn't afraid to "sing like a girl" or even "like a frog"!  (Go ahead and gasp!) 

The PInKSLiP Campaign hereby dares contemporary singers to follow Haim's example.  And what a controversial dare it is, apparently!  Consider, for example, these lyrics from the song:
  • "I ain't got a man."  According to the ridiculous standards that PInKSLiP actively fights, only a woman (of any orientation) could sing such a line.
  • "I ain't got a son."  This line could presumably be sung only by a singer with no male heir.
  • "I ain't got a daughter."  This line is presumably exclusive to daughterless singers.
  • "I ain't got no one."  Who but the impotent, the deliberately childless, the unmarried, the asexual, or the socially inept would dare to sing such a line?
  • "I'm a lonely girl."  Grown-up girls would likely need to change the word to "woman," and male singers would need to switch the gender, according to today's ridiculous standards.
  • "I ain't got a mother."  Only orphans need bother retaining this lyric, apparently.
  • "I ain't got a father."  This would be exclusive to genetically engineered ("test tube") people.
  • "I ain't got a sister."  This line is for singletons, apparently.
  • "Not even a brother."  Ditto.
  • "I'm a lonely frog."  Human singers need not bother.
  • "I ain't got a home."  A line for homeless singers, obviously.
Need we say more?  As the lyrics of "Ain't Got No Home" beautifully demonstrate, it's ridiculous for a singer to alter song lyrics to correspond to his or her lifestyle.  Anyone can sing like a girl, or a frog, or a sisterless singleton without a place to call home.  That's because (drumroll, please!) it's just a song!
> read more from P I n K S L i P . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.


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


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Having come up with 100 Ways to Fail to Boil Water, we don't often stumble upon new ones.  So imagine our delight to discover this terrific excuse: a recipe with a missing final paragraph!

In the recipe for boiled water on page 212, the last paragraph was inadvertently omitted. It should read as follows: "Now pour the water into a kettle or pot, place it on the stove, and turn the burner on ‘high,’ leaving the water on the stove until it boils.”  —Dr. Boli's Celebrated Magazine
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


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


 
Thanks to Gary Barwin, the Serif of Nottingblog.
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 . . .

September 16, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"If it is true that men only want one thing . . . is it perhaps just to be left to themselves with their soap animals or some other harmless little trifle?" —Barbara Pym, Jane and Prudence


Does Barbara Pym's proposition hold water?  Professor Oddfellow takes his tiny soap animals (from left to right: alligator, crab, elephant, monkey) into the field.  (Dedicated to Martha.)
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
A guest blog by the inimitable Jeff of Omegaword:

Why I Don't Understand What You're Saying

When I was a child, the pediatrician I was forced to visit enjoyed tormenting me with his voice, which he used for making loud, sarcastic remarks concerning the reasons for those visits. When I had athlete's foot, Dr. Blut called it "jungle rot," and reflected, loudly, on the likelihood of it spreading to other areas of my body. Everything he said was delivered at an abnormally high volume because the nurse had ruptured his eardrums.

Nurse Krill always came in immediately after the doctor had finished distressing me with his words, and went straight to the task of measuring my body temperature with one of the infernal appliances she kept in the cabinet of the examination room. After she had selected the appropriate one, she would approach with an air of nonchalance, hiding the mystery behind her back. Then, with a shriek, she would plunge the thing into one of my ear canals while she counted, loudly, to sixty.

At this point, you're probably asking yourself what she might have done to improve her technique. After all, taking a child's temperature with a modern digital thermometer is hardly rocket science, and besides, it isn't so easy to jam one of those little plastic tips so far into an ear canal that the eardrum is ruptured. Right?

No. You're wrong, as usual. You've conveniently forgotten what year it is in my narrative, and that there's no digital anything, and the rectal thermometer I'm referring to is half a foot long, made of glass, and is filled with tapioca or similarly lethal substance. It obviously wasn't shaped like an ampersand, because that would be silly.*

Continuing on, the main points of my story are simply that (2) you can't assume doctors and nurses aren't demonic entities from Hell, (1) just because Derek Walcott managed to scrawl out a few lines about an ampersand-shaped rectal thermometer doesn't mean he could hear what the doctor was saying about my feet, and (3) it's unwise to trust the accuracy of any temperature measurement when you're surrounded by a bunch of flames.

*


> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)


Artwork by Vladstudio, offered in all sorts of desktop wallpaper sizes.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
Simile faces.
Happiness is an allusion.

---

Jonathan adds:

Would an extended simile-face be an emoticonceit?
> read more from The Right Word . . .

September 15, 2008

P I n K S L i P (permalink)

Would the Annie Lennox of 1983 have given a hoot about pronoun genders?  Image via AllPosters.com.
We're appalled over Annie Lennox's gender switching in her cover of the Temptations' "I Can't Get Next to You" (on her album Medusa).  The original lyric is, "'Cause girl you're the key to my happiness."  Lennox changes the word girl to man.  Lennox was one of the seminal gender benders of the 1980's, so we're sincerely puzzled over her newfound need to assert stereotypical relationships.

As we explain in our PInKSLiP Campaign, it would be unheard of for a person doing a spoken-word reading of a literary classic to change the text's gender references according to whim.  It should be equally unheard of for a singer to alter the lyrics of a song.  This all-too-common practice violates the integrity of the original song and, in fact, often prevents fresh new subtexts from arising.

Counterpoint: Our poetic friend Chris Piuma stands up for singers' rights to have as much fun with lyrics as they want.  Certainly, artists can and do have quite a bit of fun altering lyrics, and our PInKSLiP Campaign can and will continue to issue the pinkslips!
> read more from P I n K S L i P . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
This priceless gem is from Dr. Boli's Encyclopedia of Misinformation:

"It is a little-known fact of psychological history that Rorschach consistently failed his own test."
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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 . . .


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Meri
Patron of Tires.

Saint Meri's motto is "Tread in the name of progress."  She has been incorrectly linked with the Holy Rollers.


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


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Among colours, such as are soft and cheerful (except, perhaps, a strong red which is cheerful) are unfit to produce grand images. An immense mountain, covered with a shining green turf, is nothing, in this respect, to one dark and gloomy; the cloudy sky is more grand than the blue, and night more sublime and solemn than day. Therefore in historical painting, a gay or gaudy drapery can never have a happy effect: and in buildings, when the highest degree of the sublime is intended, the materials and ornaments ought neither to be white, nor green, nor yellow, nor blue, nor of a pale red, nor violet, nor spotted, but of sad and fuscous colours, as black, or brown, or deep purple, and the like.
—Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful, 1806; as quoted by Marjorie Hope Nicolson in Newton Demands the Muse, 1946.

* 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 . . .

September 14, 2008

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Did you know that the difference between men and women is 3.14159?  The hilariously insightful Robert Urbanek explains:

Pi (Π) is both the sixteenth letter of the Green alphabet and the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. The difference between what is round and what is straight has no exact value. The calculation of pi begins at 3.14159 and stretches indefinitely.

The first known attempted calculation of pi was recorded in 1650 BC by an Egyptian scribe who estimated the ratio at 3.16. Today, with the help of computers, pi has been calculated to over 1.24 trillion places. Pi even has its "cult" followers: Hundreds of math mavens have joined clubs to investigate and celebrate the ratio.

Pi may provide a link between mathematics and sexuality. Since the straight line (diameter) is symbolic of the male and the circle (circumference) represents the female, one might conclude that pi signifies the unsolvable and infinite differences between men and women. The sexes will never be able to "figure" each other out. However, one can also see a positive aspect in the ratio: as the circumference increases, so does the diameter, and vice versa. Thus, whatever expands the horizons of the woman also expands the opportunities for the man.

Read Urbanek's complete explanation here.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
"In the long run, they all seem to be pointing toward the same goal."
Supplementary Educational Monographs, 1949
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
"My Mummy says I'm her little eyes and ears."
Terry Bazes, Goldsmith's Return


Photo by Tommy Oshima.  Via ffffound.

Terry Bazes writes, "Little Lucretzia and her mummy say hello."
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .

September 13, 2008

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

Grafting common household appliances to plumbing fixtures can be fun, if Omegaword has a hand in it.
Our friend Jeff at Omegaword had some fun with circle-defying Venn diagrams, such as a coffee maker/toilet/hair dryer.  Jeff didn't label his diagram, but we noticed that the toilet and coffee maker overlap in terms of having an upper chamber of water (plus, bad coffee might taste like wastewater); the dryer and coffee maker are both electric (plus, hot air makes for a frothy cappuccino); and the dryer and toilet come together in newfangled Japanese bidets (plus, they both make a whooshing sound).
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Hospitals are getting tough on uninsured crash test dummies.


Artwork by Justine Cooper.  Via Designboom.com.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
You might call these sheep.

The leader of this flock is the bellwether.

They can charge for long distances.


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

September 12, 2008

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)

Click here to create and print your coupon.
We've upgraded our ancient Egyptian "Eternal Life Coupon" generator.  Now you can personalize and print your own coupon, in your choice of high-res color or black-and-white.  It's the only coupon that never, ever expires, and it's free!
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


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

Today's diagram is inspired by a clever piece from the delightful Dr. Boli's Celebrated Magazine.


> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)


Art by sonmisonmi.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .


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


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

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


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)

Photo by changoblanco.
Saint Aghhh
Patron of Aghhh.

Saint Aghhh's slogan was, "Always exclaim, never explain."
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .

September 11, 2008

Unicorns (permalink)
"My Kitten Massages a Large Stuffed Unicorn" is a short film clip by Mark Frauenfelder.
> read more from Unicorns . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
It will be hard to make out in this photo, but at this particular bookstore our One-Letter Words: A Dictionary is located snugly between Erotica and Horror.  Perhaps that makes sense: "O" could be a cry of ecstasy or fright!


> read more from The Right Word . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)
Our satirical take on car colors has been trumped!  The award goes to Dr. Albertus Boli's dozen grays:
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Did you hear that the Dalai Lama has a detached retinue?

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


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

How is it possible still to see the human face pink, now that our life, redoubled by noctambulism, has multiplied our perceptions as colorists? The human face is yellow, red, green, blue, violet. The pallor of a woman gazing in a jeweller’s window is more intensely iridescent that the prismatic fires of the jewels that fascinate her like a lark.
—F.T. Marinetti,Futurist Painting: Technical Manifesto, 1910.

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

September 10, 2008

Unicorns (permalink)


See details of the piece here.
> read more from Unicorns . . .


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


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

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


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

Image source.  Via ffffound.
This was the eighth place I visited yesterday.
> 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 . . .

September 9, 2008

Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator (permalink)
The Serif of Nottingblog offers today's Tic Tac Toe-generated poem.


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

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


Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)
Our Tarot of Portmeirion project continues to inspire, with a new discovery of "Th'ə ˈHī-(ə-)rə-ˌfant" joining "The Tower."  Kudos to our friend at Anima Tarot, who brings insight and intrigue to the Tarot archetypes at play in her vicinity.  And what a cracking Hierophant she has found in a statue of Noah Webster!

---

Tamara writes:

Many thanks for your kind words regarding my project!  While my community is certainly no Portmeirion, I'm enjoying tuning into the Tarot archetypes in my midst.
> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
What was John Venn's mother's favorite scolding? 

"You're well out of line."
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
"He chose a dry, open space among the bushes, turned his back to the sun, spread his wings and fanned them slowly up and down."
The Literary Digest, v.102 (1929)


Photo by crnphoto.
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .

September 8, 2008

Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator (permalink)
Poet Chris Piuma, who once played tug-of-war with Momus, illuminates how and why he created a limerick with the X-O-Skeleton Story Generator.
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
In the following line, we misread "posts" as "poets":

The piazza was supported by posts, one of which had been removed about a year before the accident, to improve the billiard room.

So we were left imagining the billiard players marveling at the improved atmosphere now that Percy wasn't rhapsodizing over people's balls.  "High as thy balls instruct my Muse to soar," he was wont to say, invoking "The God that in a mood of tender humor limned thy balls of black and red."
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed the ampersand asked me to write a character reference:

To whom it may concern,

I confirm that I have known & for a # of years.  Indeed, & officiated at my wedding to my better half.  Having earned varsity letters in wrestling and macramé, & will be a valuable asset if drafted or otherwise conscripted into small business.  Proficient in Latin and sign language, &’s communication style is to the point.  A natural mediator and expert on mergers, & is an all-around exceptional character.

Sincerely,

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


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Did you hear that Hanes is making their 50/50 t-shirts look better?  They're coming out with the 20/20's.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

At thee the ruby lights its deepening flow, / And with a saving radiance inward flames. / From thee the sapphire, solid ether, takes / Its hue cerulean; and, of evening tinct, / The purple- streaming amethyst is thine. / With thy own smile the yellow topaz burns; / Nor deeper verdure dyes the robe of Spring, / When first she gives it to the southern gale, / Than the green emerald shows. But, all combined, / Thick through the whitening opal play thy beams; / Or, flying from its surface, form / A trembling variance of revolving hues / As the site varies in the gazer’s hand.
—James Thomson, "Summer," quoted by Marjorie Hope Nicolson in Newton Demands the Muse, 1946.

* 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 . . .

September 7, 2008

Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator (permalink)
Chris Piuma, rapier sharpened by a battery of Latin examinations, offers today's Tic Tac Toe-generated story.


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

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


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
The inspiration/perspiration ratio is misleading.  Success is actually 1% inspiration, 49% perspiration, and 50% Haitian Nation  (i.e., the whims of Voodoo).

Literary scalawag Jonathan adds, "And when success eludes us, it's 50% resignation and 50% alienation."
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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

"Pictograph" artwork by Hannes Gloor and Stefan Jandl.  Via ffffound.
Rorschach inkblots are designed to uncover hidden feelings and emotions.  Here's a fun test:

How would you characterize this inkblot's grin?  (Choose one.)

  • Lustful
  • Smutty
  • Perverted
  • Wicked
  • Predatory
  • Up to no good
  • Antisocial
  • Depraved
  • Guilty
  • Ingratiating
  • Benevolent
  • Kindly
  • Knowing
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

September 6, 2008

Unicorns (permalink)
"Hear without terror that in the forest are hidden a deer and a unicorn"
The Book of Lamspring, 1607, showcased at BibliOdyssey


> read more from Unicorns . . .


Pfft! (permalink)
"He thought for a second and shpritzed me with four quicker, quieter Bronx cheers: 'Pfft, pfft, pfft, pfft.' ... And I had no idea PFFFFFFT was a four-letter word." —Joel Siegel, Lessons For Dylan
* 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! . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

My street, under the greenish gas at this hour, is a morass of toffee- like, creamy mud coffee- coloured, maroon and caramel yellow a sort of crumbling, slushy trifle in which the floating bits of meringue are lumps of concrete.
—Collette, The Vagabond; translated by Enid McLeod, 1955.

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

September 5, 2008

Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator (permalink)
Mike contributes today's Tic Tac Toe-generated vignette.  Thanks, Mike!


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

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


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

Puzzling Portmeirion is available in both online and print versions.
We only just discovered this interesting review our eccentric guide to Portmeirion, Wales. We've bolded our favorite bits:

Prisoner fans are frequently accused of "reading too much into" the little details and nuances of our favourite series. Here at last is a book that does the same for the programme's location. By turns weird, wonderful, and then even weirder, Puzzling Portmeirion is a strange, but oddly satisfying, companion to the more esoteric aspects of the village (few, if any, of which can have been Clough's original intention).

The analysis of the spatial trickery and trompe l'oeil effects is quite well addressed, "treasure hunts" based on various details are included, and the whole book has a rather childlike innocence – reading it reminded me rather of how I felt (or at least what I can remember feeling) when I first saw Portmeirion at the age of nine.

The book also wanders off down some very odd mythical and mystical paths which I found less convincing (do fairies really live on toasted cheese in the Portmeirion woodlands? Craig Conley seems pretty sure they do), but one can view Puzzling Portmeirion as an off the wall, artistic response to an off the wall, artistic place, with something, at least, of interest for almost any reader. Potential purchasers with more esoteric interests than mine will also be interested, and very probably charmed, by the two sets of tarot cards using Portmeirion landmarks and details, which are also available from the same source.

—Gareth Hughes, The Unmutual Reviews
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

If you ask me, there's something just plain wrong about a red sky, and it doesn't really matter what time it is, either. Sailors may delight in a red sky at night, but I don't even have a boat. Red is the color of blood, and I hate seeing it outside my body, or yours. Roses are red, especially after I bleed all over them because the thorns stabbed me when I wasn't looking.

My eyes are red every day after my shower because I always get soap in them. It hurts. Fire trucks are red, and so is communism. When I hear sirens I think about air raids, or someone's house burning down. When I have a cold, my nose gets red from all the blowing and wiping. I don't feel good when I eat red meat, and red wine gives me a headache. Diaper rash is red.

I hate red.
—Jeff, "Why I Hate Red," Omegaword, 2008

* 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 . . .


Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed a story from beginning to end.


Image by the clever and prolific Brooklyn-based graphic artist Christopher David Ryan.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .

September 4, 2008

Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator (permalink)
Our new Tic Tac Toe generator builds stories out of the one-letter words X and O.  Here's an example.  To play along, see below for instructions and a link to a template.


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

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


The Right Word (permalink)

Click here to explore the chessboard.
We're pleased to debut a new interactive version of our unusual dictionary of chessman meanings.  Roll your mouse over the chessboard for some surprising discoveries.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Dinner is late lamented, but my julep is lately minted.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

He held that the mixture of brown earth and blue blood was a good one.
—Virginia Wolfe, Orlando, 1928.

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

September 3, 2008

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Where and when are you likely to find the best wine, wafers, and cheese cubes?  Napa Valley, Communion Sunday.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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

ABBREVIATE: An opiate derivative of tears.


Photo collage by oskaline.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


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 . . .

September 2, 2008

The Right Word (permalink)

Read more at Amazon.com.
You heard it at Crystalpunk first:

I had a music-box moment when the postman delivered a parcel containing the latest publication of one-letter-word genius Craig Conley.  If a Chessman Were a Word: A Chess~Calvino Dictionary takes the chess-paragraph from Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities as the starting point for a piece-by-piece mapping of each piece and its corresponding meaning.  For instance:

White Queen: a woman combing her long hair in a mirror; a mullioned window; an illuminated canoe; a fringed cushion.

Black King's Bishop: a high priest's temple; a scholar of vanished alphabets; a papyrus cabinet; a necropolis.

Black King's Pawn: the weeds of a vacant lot; a courtesan with an ostrich-plume fan; a rug weaver; a tired actor.

—Wilfried Hou Je Bek, author of Gilgamesh for Apes
> read more from The Right Word . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
From our outpost at Blogger:

This wordcloud of our Magic Words blog is courtesy of Gordon Meyer and his lovely assistant Wordle.


> read more from The Right Word . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Sleep experts have finally determined the cause of shepherd narcolepsy: counting sheep.


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

September 1, 2008

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed of a wheelchair.  Or was it an ampersand?

[Thank you Steve Mitchell for the kudos: "It is enchanting to see that there are other obsessive people out there willing to make a fuss of our wonderful language to keep its use from foundering."
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
"He couldn't unlatch the chain so he broke the door open with his shoulders."
Wang Ping, Foreign Devil, 1996
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


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


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


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Some range the colours as they parted fly, / Clear- pointed to the philosophic eye; / The flaming red, that pains the dwelling gaze, / The stainless, lightsome yellow’s gilding rays; / The clouded orange, that betwixt them glows, / And to kind mixture tawny lustre owes; / All- chearing green, that gives the spring its dye; / The bright transparent blue, that robes the sky; / And indico, which shaded light displays, / And violet, which in the view decays.
—Richard Savage, The Wanderer, quoted by Marjorie Hope Nicolson in Newton Demands the Muse, 1946.

* 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.