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.
October 31, 2012

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1862 issue of Punch magazine.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1907 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
The moon's nose is responsible for arching the Hallowe'en cat's back.  The illustration is from Life Magazine, 1884.  This should also be of interest: How to Be Your Own Cat.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1903 issue of Life magazine.  The caption reads: "Hallowe'en and candle-light.  Show me my true love to-night."
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 30, 2012

The Right Word (permalink)
From our blog on magic words and symbols spotted in the wild:
We're honored that our Magic Words: A Dictionary is cited several times in "A Treatise on Vowel Symbolism" by Joannes Richter.

Meanwhile, here's Chris' take on vowels:
> read more from The Right Word . . .
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I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Ghost teeth (what Goethe called Geisterzahn) are neutral entities, neither quite divine nor satanic, equally good and bad.  "Their realm may be beyond human rationality, but it is not inaccessible to human experience.  [Ghost teeth] have their home in the imagination.  Neither concrete, i.e. empirically verifiable, nor rational, they inhabit the above and below of human rationality.  They are a concrete experience of the non-concrete in the mind, an imaginary concretisation of extra-rational phantoms" (Maike Oergel, Culture and Identity: Historicity in German Literature and Thought 1770-1815, 2006, p. 241).

We wrote a macabre tale about ghost teeth, and it appears in the Spooky Tales ebook.

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

For Gary Barwin.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1911 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.  The caption reads: "The ceremony of 'Berrying' the Ghost.  Observe the berries in the children's hands."
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1892 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "Hey, black cat!  Hey, my pretty black cat!"
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 29, 2012

Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
Write a novel which is composed of only the shadows of people on grass.
William Keckler

> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .
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This May Surprise You (permalink)
"This might surprise you, but beautiful fall foliage can be found in all 50 states."
Peter Greenberg, The Complete Travel Detective Bible
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1897 issue of The Strand magazine.  The caption reads: "The human obstacle."

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 28, 2012

Simple Answers (permalink)
Difficult Question? Here's a simple answer

"The correct answer is simply a restatement of the first sentence.”

Master The Firefighter Exam (2009)

If this is not the answer you’re looking for,
click here for a different answer.
> read more from Simple Answers . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1912 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "In a great illumination of the spirit he trembled and was astonished."
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 27, 2012

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1914 issue of Century Illustrated magazine.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 26, 2012

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"A routine traffic stop is complicated by an uncooperative driver." —TV Guide synopsis of a Cops episode (2000).

Thanks to Dan, who shot this paradoxical sign in San Jose, 1989.

> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
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Don't Take This the Wrong Way (permalink)
"Don't take this the wrong way, but don't you think it might be worthwhile for you to take a holiday—a week or two in the country to unwind and get your breath?"
Brian Garfield, The Villiers Touch
> read more from Don't Take This the Wrong Way . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1890 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.  The caption reads: "I think his satanic majesty himself sends a special messenger sometimes to preside over a woman's toilet."

Dedicated to Teresa Burritt.

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 25, 2012

Call it a Hunch (permalink)
Jonathan spotted this one in the wild.
> read more from Call it a Hunch . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Star of Dawn:  an illustration from an 1856 issue of Godey's magazine.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1892 issue of Century Illustrated magazine.  The caption reads: "Conjuring back the buffalo."

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 24, 2012

Precursors (permalink)
Did you know the "sexy nun" costume goes back at least to 1879?  From Punch.
> read more from Precursors . . .
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A Rose is a ... (permalink)
"A rose is a rose is an onion."
Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls (1940)

An onion rose from Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook.
> read more from A Rose is a ... . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
A ghostly illustration from an 1883 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "The apparition."
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 23, 2012

Always Remember (permalink)
"Women are, after all, extremely emotional people, so you must always remember that."
Jonathon Jones, Dating ISN'T for Dummies

Emotionless woman image by Scott.
> read more from Always Remember . . .
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Precursors (permalink)
A precursor to the 2001: A Space Odyssey monolith, from Punch, 1851.

> read more from Precursors . . .
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This May Surprise You (permalink)
"It is surprising, but true, that the bulk of the best things we have were not introduced from the best motives."
George Gunton, Trusts and the Public (1899)
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .
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October 22, 2012

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"The Death of Death":  an illustration by Cyril Goldie in an 1899 issue of Quartier Latin magazine.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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Call it a Hunch (permalink)
"Call it a hunch, call it a pipe dream."
George Harmon Coxe, Deadly Image (2011)


A still from the perennially delightful Young Frankenstein.
> read more from Call it a Hunch . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1896 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.  The caption reads: "The ball took the eye out of the portrait of our great-grandfather who came over the Mayflower."

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 21, 2012

This May Surprise You (permalink)
A Plethora of Westness

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt
shares a little-known fact: The city of Northampton, Mass., is home to the East Pole.  From that location and that location only, every direction is west.

Jonathan adds: Believe it or not, the road to Easthampton was directly to my left as I took the picture—and, no kidding, it takes the traveler to Easthampton by proceeding in a somewhat westerly direction.

> read more from This May Surprise You . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1894 issue of Pall Mall magazine.  The caption reads: "My library did not seem to afford him the kind of reading matter he craved."

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 20, 2012

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1871 issue of Godey's magazine.  The caption reads: "Where is the night key?"
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1916 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "Life itself is only a vision, a dream."

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 19, 2012

Simple Answers (permalink)
Difficult Question? Here's a simple answer

"The answer is simple: by creating keyword lists.”

—Brad Geddes

If this is not the answer you’re looking for,
click here for a different answer.
> read more from Simple Answers . . .
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Precursors (permalink)
Today, we might liken an experience to "something out of a movie."  But back in 1872, things were different. "'Why this is like a book, isn't it?' said she" (Century Illustrated).
> read more from Precursors . . .
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October 18, 2012

This May Surprise You (permalink)
"Once, flowers were used as telephones."
William Keckler
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
In the grand manner of spirit photography we see two spectral ladies join the pair when the Google scanner catches some sanguine bleed through.  Illustration from an 1847 issue of Godey's magazine.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1901 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "So haunted at moonlight with bat and owl and ghostly moth."
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 17, 2012

Everybody's Doing This Now (permalink)

Photo by Jason Scott.
Are only women doing it?  Max Cryer explains:

The genesis of ["everybody's doing it"] can be traced to a Mozart opera of 1790, commissioned by Emperor Joseph II of the Holy Roman Empire and said to be based on a much gossiped about real-life incident in Vienna.  Mozart's librettist Lorenzo da Ponte entitled the story Cosí Fan Tutte — which translates as 'Everybody's doing it' (though purists will point out that 'tutte' can be seen as the feminine of 'tutti', and thus only women are 'doing it').

(Who Said That First?: The Curious Origins of Common Words and Phrases, 2012)
> read more from Everybody's Doing This Now . . .
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The Only Certainty (permalink)
"The only certainty today is that one must be self-conscious."
John Elderfield, De Kooning: A Retrospective (2011)
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1900 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.  The caption reads: "Mr. Hunt observes the fate of the hypnotist."

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 16, 2012

This May Surprise You (permalink)
"Surprising but true, the avocado is not a vegetable, but rather an oil-rich berry, like the olive, albeit a bit larger."
Larry McCleary, The Brain Trust Program (2008)
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .
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Staring Into the Depths (permalink)
An illustration from a 1903 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "So the night passed."
[The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Staring Into the Depths . . .
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October 15, 2012

Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"I know whenever I mention 'you should write a book' there will be an inevitable 'who, me?' reaction. Yes, of course you."
ProBlogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1904 issue of The Strand magazine.  The caption reads: "The carpet wants you to let it go to its old home."

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1915 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "Lazar had forgotten everything but the sense of immortal ecstasy."

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 14, 2012

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

Autumnal blues by Gideon Wright.
Here are twenty tips for overcoming autumnal blues, from a letter by Sydney Smith to Lady Georgiana Morpeth, Feb. 16, 1820:

Dear Lady Georgiana,– Nobody has suffered more from low spirits than I have done — so I feel for you.

1st. Live as well as you dare.

2nd. Go into the shower-bath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold, 75° or 80°.

3rd. Amusing books.

4th. Short views of human life — not further than dinner or tea.

5th. Be as busy as you can.

6th. See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you.

7th. And of those acquaintances who amuse you.

8th. Make no secret of low spirits to your friends, but talk of them freely — they are always worse for dignified concealment.

9th. Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.

10th. Compare your lot with that of other people.

11th. Don’t expect too much from human life — a sorry business at the best.

12th. Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy, sentimental people, and everything likely to excite feeling or emotion, not ending in active benevolence.

13th. Do good, and endeavour to please everybody of every degree.

14th. Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue.

15th. Make the room where you commonly sit, gay and pleasant.

16th. Struggle by little and little against idleness.

17th. Don’t be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice.

18th. Keep good blazing fires.

19th. Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion.

20th. Believe me, dear Lady Georgiana,

Very truly yours,
Sydney Smith

(via Futility Closet)
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
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Strange Dreams (permalink)
An illustration from a 1917 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.  The caption reads: "Shirts jumped out of my dreams with hoots resembling ghosts."
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
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October 13, 2012

Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)

Write a novel purely about the nasopharyngeal colorings of desire.
William Keckler
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An accidental androgyne courtesy of the Google scanning machine:  illustrations from an 1877 issue of Godey's magazine.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 12, 2012

Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to David Lynch's comic strip "The Angriest Dog in the World," about a dog "so angry he cannot move; he cannot eat; he cannot sleep; he can just barely growl; bound so tightly with tension and anger, he approaches the state of rigor mortis."  This vintage angriest dog appears in Puck, 1886.

> read more from Precursors . . .
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This May Surprise You (permalink)
"It may surprise you just who considers himself an optimist or a pessimist."
The Everything Guide to Self-Esteem (2011)
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1890 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.  The caption reads: "It was like a black worm swaying its blind head to and fro."
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 11, 2012

Staring at the Sun (permalink)
"I think I've decided I now want my epitaph to read, THE SUN WAS IN MY EYES. Imagine a sprawling cemetery where every epitaph was only a variation on that, a different excuse on every tombstone? I'd love to visit." —William Keckler

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1906 issue of Good Housekeeping magazine.  The caption reads: "She tried it, but the boy cried."

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1899 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.  The caption reads: "The soul-ship moved out with the tide."

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 10, 2012

Precursors (permalink)
Over a century before they called Shaggy "Mr. Boombastic," General Boombastes commanded the dancehall.  From Punch, 1892.

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This May Surprise You (permalink)
"Surprising, but true.  Living in trust turns out to be virtually the opposite of being naïve: you become more perceptive, not less."
Go-Givers Sell More (2010)
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1910 issue of Hampton's magazine.

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 9, 2012

The Right Word (permalink)
We're delighted to be referenced more than once in this Irish Times article about the popularity of the letter E.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
It's been said that like a poet, a golfer is born and not made.  It may all boil down to a baby's affiliation with fairies.  The illustration is from Punch, 1892.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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The Only Certainty (permalink)
"The only certainty is it is almost impossible to please both audiences at the same time.
Deacon Bill Rich, Joy: The Journey Home (2012)
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1869 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "The wise man's home changed."
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 8, 2012

Puzzles and Games (permalink)

(The following is our Guest Blog post for DeepFun.com)

The classic hand game of Rock-Paper-Scissors has a shadow side — quite literally. It’s played partially in the dark. Each move casts shadows on the wall. And the rules are reversed to whimsical results.

Requirements:

  • a blank wall – a canvas for shadow-casting
  • a lamp easily turned off and on (the sole illumination in the room)
  • two handy players
  • one scorekeeper/storyteller (scorekeeping is optional, a player may act as scorekeeper, especially if the lamp has a foot-operated switch)
  • spectators (occupancy not to exceed fire marshall’s restrictions, of course) (also optional)

When the scorekeeper initiates darkness, each player opaquely forms one of three hand gestures in front of the lamp. At the count of three, the scorekeeper lets there be light, and the gesticulative shadows are writ large on the wall.

The so-called Rock is actually a Paperweight.

The so-called Paper is actually a Paper Doll (a butterfly, a bunny, a goat, or any other hand shadow figure the player desires)

The so-called Scissors are still cutting blades, but let’s call them Snippers just to be different.




Traditional Game
Shadow Game
Paper covers the Rock
Paperweight sensibly covers the Paper Doll and the Paperweight wins.
Scissors cut the Paper
Paper Doll is born of the Snippers and the Paper Doll wins.
Rock crushes the Scissors
Paperweight *sharpens* the Snippers and the Snippers win.

As a mnemonic, Snippers *need* to be sharp in order to fulfill their destiny, Paper Dolls *need* to be snipped in order to take shape and fulfill their destiny, and Paperweights *need* to rest upon Paper Dolls because everyone requires downtime to flatten out, relax, and recharge so as to fulfill their destinies.

There are three possible ties. In the traditional game, these are simply ignored. In the Shadow Game, these are celebrated as follows:


Both players throw
Both players act out
Paperweight
Shadow boxing
Snippers
Running with scissors
Paper Doll
The scorekeeper becomes a storyteller when two Paper Dolls grace the wall and interact as a shadow-puppetshow ensues


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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1907 issue of The Strand magazine.

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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Call it a Hunch (permalink)
"'Call it a hunch.'  'A hunch?  You wouldn't happen to have anything solid to back that up, would you?'"
Kay Hooper, Out of the Shadows (2000), as if adding some wit to Young Frankenstein


A still from the perennially hilarious Young Frankenstein.
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October 7, 2012

The Right Word (permalink)
"One letter words result in a sitting dog."  That seemingly absurd statement actually makes sense in the context of this unusual dachshund font (with duck, poodle, and chihuahua versions).  Please don't inquire about the period.

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This May Surprise You (permalink)
"This might surprise you—it sure surprised me—but one hundred reps of anything really, really burns."
Charlotte Hilton Andersen, The Great Fitness Experiment
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Staring Into the Depths (permalink)
An illustration from a 1904 issue of Harper's magazine.
[The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
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October 6, 2012

Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)

Q: "Do the clouds want to chime in on how they think my day went?" (William Keckler)

A: No; however, clouds do want many things:
  1. The clouds want to know what they are. (The Journal of the Anthropological Society of Bombay, 1928)
  2. The clouds want to be your clothes. (Shidao Xu, Origins of Chinese Cuisine, 2003)
  3. The clouds want more elaboration. (Horatio Noble Pym, Odds and Ends at Foxwold, 1887)
  4. The clouds want to hide the sun. (Don Marion Wolfe, Language Arts and Life Patterns, 1972)
  5. The clouds want to rain on the parade; they have intentionality. (Jonathan C. Smith, Pseudoscience and Extraordinary Claims of the Paranormal, 2011)
  6. Clouds want to be fields. (Nichita Stanescu, Wheel with a Single Spoke: and Other Poems, 2012)
  7. The clouds want to play. (Kevin R. Fish, Poetic Justice For Nature, 2004)
  8. In general, clouds want a full baptism in the sea. (Gaius Glenn Atkins, The Godward Side of Life, 1917)
  9. The clouds want to go somewhere. (David Hicks, Ritual and Belief: Readings in the Anthropology of Religion, 2010)
  10. Clouds want to be platforms. (Curtis Franklin Jr., Cloud Computing: Technologies and Strategies of the Ubiquitous Data Center, 2009)
  11. Fragments of clouds want to align. (Paul S. Ropp, Banished Immortal, 2002)
  12. Clouds want to move things around, get a better view where noise comes from. (Devan Malore, The Churning, 2008)
  13. Clouds want to blow in and drop rain. (Marianne Sawicki, Crossing Galilee, 2000)
  14. Our clouds want to mingle and form an even bigger and better cloud. (Sol Gordon, How Can You Tell If You're Really In Love?, 2001)
  15. Clouds want more moisture in order to remain supportive. (Ham Kaima, My Arrogant Friends, 1992)
  16. The clouds want to be smoke circles blown over lips. (A. Van Jordan, Quantum Lyrics: Poems, 2007)
  17. Hovering dark clouds want to flatten the city. (Chinese Idioms and Phrases, 1977)
  18. The clouds want fire from the rocks. (Courtenay Malcolm Batchelor, Folklore, 1952)
  19. All clouds want a talent. (Dow Kump, Scooter's Sparking Stone, 2005)
> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Morning Star:  an illustration from an 1852 issue of Godey's magazine.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1877 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "Almost unconsciously Sue sang to the night."
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 5, 2012

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

A still from the Scottish comedy brilliance known as Burnistoun.
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This May Surprise You (permalink)
"Surprising, but true, you don't need to sew to make a pillow."
Faux Chic: Creating the Rich Look You Want for Less (2004)

(Dedicated to the Silly Pillows.)
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1905 issue of Harper's magazine.  The caption reads: "One of the new German kindergarten appliances."

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 4, 2012

Precursors (permalink)
Five years before the birth of the Elephant Man, Joseph Merrick, an elephant man appeared in Punch (1857).

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A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
There's a fine line between excitement and anxiety.
Richard Brown & Patricia Gerbarg, The Healing Power of the Breath
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
A surrealist illustration from a 1906 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine.  The caption reads: "A yawning chasm, to fall into which meant at least a broken neck."

Dedicated to Jordan Wright.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 3, 2012

Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to the song "Me and Mrs. Jones," who had a thing goin' on all the way back in 1857.  (Punch)

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It's Really Happening (permalink)
"This is happening, it's really happening. So why doesn't it feel better than this?"
—Catherine McKenzie, Spin

The foreground photo of this collage is from the very funny Arrested Development.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1902 issue of The Strand magazine.  The caption reads: "The sexton, a preternaturally solemn person, danced a hornpipe on the table."

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
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October 2, 2012

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Did you know we were recently [d]reamed out by the estate of Martin Luther King, Jr.?  Did you know that hackers are diligently trying to erase our life's work from the internet (and that we can hardly blame them?)  We reveal all sorts of things in our controversial interview with author Janet Boyer.
---
Here's an archive of the interview:

I know this guy, see. To say he's brilliant is an understatement. He blows me away with what he knows, and what he grasps. I've been tested as having a genius IQ (via a psychologist)...but him? Into the stratosphere. He's like  a walking illuminated manuscript.

He's also kind, thoughtful and enlightened. 

It's about time you meet my friend Craig Conley. And hear some of his unbelievable stories about writing, publishing and the creative life--including internet crazies, Tarot, censorship, social media and prolificity.

Craig
Janet: How, as a relative unknown, did you convince HarperCollins to take on something as offbeat as a dictionary of one-letter words? And what's your feeling about working with big publishing houses?

Craig: The HarperCollins deal was a glorious fiasco. Interestingly, it was the very day that I officially gave up calling myself a writer that I found the literary agent who sold my book to HarperCollins. (I think I was trying to follow Ram Dass' wisdom that we spend the first half of our lives becoming somebody, and now we can work on becoming nobody: "For when you become nobody there is no tension, no pretense, no one trying to be anyone or anything. The natural state of the mind shines through unobstructed.") I recall thinking, "Well, if I'm not a writer anymore, there's no need to dread another rejection from a literary agent." So I casually sent off an e-mail to the first agent who came up on Google. Who was it who said that one is never more attractive than when one isn't desperate? The agent accepted my book instantly, and days later he'd generated a bidding war among several top publishers. The deal he secured was lucrative -- fully fifty times the dollars for the number of one-letter words I'd collected.

Working with HarperCollins was like climbing aboard a grand roller coaster that broke at the top of the first lift and then tumbled out of control on its way down. On the bright side, the big publishers are giant cogs in the machine, and they generate big publicity. There's no way my one-letter words dictionary would have been scooped by Page Six, for example, had it not been associated with a major publisher. I was covered by NPR, the Chicago Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the New York Post, the Dallas Morning News, Publisher's Weekly, and dozens of other major outlets. The difference between my publicity for One-Letter Words and my publicity for Magic Words: A Dictionary (through Weiser) is like night and day. The smaller company's voice struggles to be heard in the market. The larger publishers, like any larger corporations, are less personal, however. If you're not a bestseller, you fall out of the publisher's radar quite quickly. (It's just business, of course, but it can feel brutal just the same.) 

One-Letter Words was intended to be HarperCollins' answer to the phenomenon Eats, Shoots & Leaves. A variety of circumstances (including Barnes & Noble's 11th hour surprise decision not to carry the book, Restoration Hardware inexplicably dropping out of a marketing deal after demanding a supply of books months before the official publication date, the editor of my book going on maternity leave before publication) all decimated my book's initial -- and vital -- Christmas season exposure. Once that first Christmas is over, everyone moves on to the next big things. Anyway, glamorous as it is to snag a big contract, so many more forces conspire to break a book than to make it. Everyone involved desires success, surely, but the inner workings of the marketplace are as complex and unpredictable as the weather. 

One letter
My experience with HarperCollins solidified my preference for self-publishing. With self-publishing, you retain ownership and control of your work. When HarperCollins bought One-Letter Words, I was forced to undo the highly successful marketing I had established on the internet. For years I had been providing a free web version of my dictionary, and this unusual resource had been linked by hundreds upon hundreds of schools, libraries, and other institutions around the world. All of that invaluable networking became dead links because of HarperCollins' old-fashioned business model. Years later, I've still not been able to restore the level of worldwide linkage I once enjoyed. The internet grows exponentially by the moment, and every day, every hour, it becomes more challenging to make one's mark.

My own fan base actually doesn't buy much of my self-published work, but over time my titles have garnered a decent number of sales from strangers. What's neat about the internet is that one's proper market can find one's work. For example, my books apparently have more of a European sensibility than an American one, and a great many of my sales go to Europe. Since this summer, Amazon allows authors to list CreateSpace-published books in its various European catalogs (to be sold in Euros), and I started enjoying increased sales immediately.

Janet: Craig, you deleted your Facebook account several months ago. I’m finding it a cesspool, myself (especially the Tarot-related groups which I won’t go near). It’s worse than high school in terms of cliques and gossip! Would you share why you deleted your account? And, in your estimation, how important is social media—Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc.—to a writer’s or artist’s career? Well-being?

Craig: Just as a blueprint reveals the underlying structure of a building and the intention of the architect, the history of Facebook reveals that it was rotten from the beginning. In his book Accidental Billionaires, Ben Mezrich lays bare that Facebook originated as an ignoble tool for Harvard students to vote on the "hotness" of their female classmates. That base mentality of ranking and objectification is inseparable from the website today. It's like walking into a peep-show facility intending to make some genuine friendships -- the building itself is designed with holes in the wall, and if you step under a spotlight then others will be viewing you in a certain way regardless of your own motivations. It's difficult to circumvent an existing structure when its very design is intended to promote very specific sorts of interactions.

One day I realized that every time I opened Facebook I felt worse than I did previously. I realized that I was unnecessarily learning too many intimate details about my friend's lives (and vice versa, surely). One of my friends assures me that he has countless meaningful interactions on Facebook, and I have no reason to question his experience, but I must admit to having failed miserably to generate my own meaningful interactions on Facebook. Heck, looking for meaning in the mundane is all I ever do -- it seriously is my job description boiled down to a sentence. But Facebook left me utterly stumped, and I finally quit it cold turkey and haven't looked back.

Craig 2
The importance of social media -- that's a good question, and I'm not sure I have tangible evidence either way. So many successful people don't have any social media accounts whatsoever. Ideally, those sites would be the equivalent of the Parisian sidewalk cafés where, in the aftermaths of both World Wars, expatriate writers, artists, and intellects searching for a voice would gather to inspire one another and to foster innovation and experimentation. The social media site that comes closest to that ideal is surely Tumblr. But like Parisian cafés, social media sites come and go. Remember MySpace? Feeling connected to other artists is vital to one's well-being, yet I have to wonder whether too many folks are forgetting the gifts of solitude. As Hans F. Hansen said, "People inspire you, or they drain you; pick them wisely."

Janet:  You’re familiar with myriad forms of divination, including creating a few of your own systems. I’m finding that Tarot, in particular, seems to draw what I call “low level” energy; that is, readers/enthusiasts who are insecure, immature, needy, desperate, petty, greedy—rampant dysfunction in the 1st, 2nd and 3rd chakras. In fact, it’s why I’m now retired from Tarot writing, blogging and reviewing. I felt like the bulk of my innovative work was going into an insatiable black hole, so to speak. And, I now suspect it’s why Tarot—unlike other forms of divination—can’t seem to crawl its way out of the dark cloud that surrounds it: the people who practice it are “dark” (unaware, ignorant and unenlightened).

Have you noticed that Tarot draws a different “crowd” than other esoteric disciplines? Or is this just my perspective?

Craig: Your mention of Tarot seeming to activate the lower chakras reminded me of this: "If Freud had lived before the Tarot was created, it would have been a reasonable bet to have suggested that he was responsible for the cards and their meanings" (Lionel & Patricia Fanthorpe, The World's Most Mysterious Objects, 2002). Though I've created several Tarot decks and written two books on the subject, I've remained an outsider to the community. I'd like to say I'm of the Groucho Marx school: "I don't want to belong to any club that will accept people like me as a member." But in truth I'm more like Marshall McLuhan (via Timothy Leary): I tend to tune in and then drop out. The group mind invariably leaves me feeling alienated. To this day, all my favorite television shows have been cancelled due to unpopularity.

Janet: What advice can you offer to creatives that are simply unable to play the “politics game”: trying to play nice, be likeable, join the team, etc.? It’s no secret that this world is not a fair one, tending to reward those who take shortcuts, brownnose and are willing to enter a popularity contest. What hard-won wisdom can you share with those who love to create and innovate, but don’t have the desire (or ability) to play the “social games” that many say are necessary for “success”?

Craig: The only game to play is the one you're making up right now. I just heard screenwriter Joss Whedon reveal the great secret of his success: you put ALL your cards on the table at once. And then you're forced to create another whole set of cards for your next move. That's how he writes movies, and it can be a philosophy of life. There's a school of thought that a work of art generates its own rules, making it self-contained and therefore placing it outside of history. I wonder how many artists have felt "ahead of their time." That sentiment is no mere copout -- it's a terrible, despairing sort of Limbo. The great challenge in the wasteland of inconspicuousness is to fend off mortal discouragement.

In Porius, a novel about Merlin, John Cowper Powys refers to "Destiny, that great god, [and] Chance, that still greater one!" That's a tremendously encouraging worldview, in which no miserable fate is set in stone because Lady Luck can always intervene. The world is indeed not fair, and success is hardly merit-based, yet no innovator is irremediably doomed to obscurity. Still, if one is to stay sane along the way, the work must be a reward in itself. If one's lofty goal is to give people what they don't know they want (à la Steve Jobs), in all fairness there might be quite a climb involved.

Craig 3
Janet: You were homeschooled, were you not? Can you tell us a bit about that experience? Would your life trajectory be different had you not been homeschooled, do you think?

Craig: Oh yes, my homeschooling experience affected me profoundly. When we started, back in the mid-1970s, homeschooling was illegal in most states. In fact, it wasn't even called "homeschooling" back then, but rather "unschooling" (coined by John Holt in his "Growing Without Schooling" newsletter). We had serious fears of truant officers in those days! My family used the Calvert correspondence program, in hopes of satisfying the authorities with paperwork, but my true homeschool education was free-form. I pursued my own interests, at my own pace. I quickly came to understand that learning and independent thinking are one's own responsibility. Though I tried a high school for the performing arts, midway through the 10th grade I dropped out, took the G.E.D. exam, and entered college early. After teaching college writing and literature for nine years, I again dropped out and pursued my research as an independent scholar.

Janet: To quote a line from Napoleon Dynamite: Lucky!

Craig, I was mortified to find out that hackers are diligently erasing your work from the internet. How can an author protect his or her online presence from being erased? And just how threatening is your work, anyway?

Craig: I suppose it qualifies as a Retroactive Lifetime Goal (to borrow a phrase from humorist Jonathan Caws-Elwitt) to be such a "dangerous" artist that my work must be obliterated from existence. For the second time this year, a hacker unknown to me wiped out a chunk of my daily Abecedarian blog. This time it was five full months' worth of postings. What a peculiar feeling; having the contents of one's mind destroyed feels even more personal than having one's house ransacked. Lady Luck, in her cruel aspect, saw to it that my back-up server was on the blink, but a night's (eternity's) worth of virtual jigsaw puzzling brought the menace of my work back online. Eerily, I felt *really* lousy -- even before I discovered the erasure in progress -- but, like a character in some Philip K. Dick novel, I could hardly put my finger on what was being erased from my virtual brain. Perhaps I need to embrace being too dangerous to exist on the internet?

My advice to other authors with websites is to build in at least two levels of authentication for your content management system. In addition to the password login, restrict the IP addresses of who can access the back-end, if you can, and limit it to your personal home network. Never rely on the fact that what's supposed to be restricted definitely is. Back up your content daily, keeping at least three months of snapshots. (I recommend Amazon S3 as a cost-effective storage platform.) Presume that someone can and will guess your password. Presume that anything you put online could be lost, and plan accordingly. If Murphy's Law hits and everything that can go wrong does go wrong, Google's cache server and Archive.org's Wayback Machine can be a blessing as you piece your site back together from scratch.

Just how threatening is my work? I have to allow that I'm not simply a victim here. I have to shoulder some responsibility for delving into areas that are perhaps best left untouched. My research takes me into gray areas that turn out to be quite volatile. There's superficial humor in my pursuits (like collecting one-letter words, studying blank maps, tracing genealogy to fairy folk, using punctuation marks for divination, listening for unicorns, locating genuine ghosts trapped by Google's book scanners), but underlying that humor is a serious threat to the neatness and tidiness of the establishment. One might think my several dictionaries are benign entities (including magic words, words without vowels, words without consonants, the meanings of chess pieces, and words of one letter), but recall the audacity and profundity inherent in the act of defining."He who defines dominates and lives," as Thomas Stephen Szasz has noted. "He who is defined is subjugated and destroyed."

Janet: How many websites do you have, anyway? (Because, I swear, you deliberately hide them!)

Craig: Let's see ... here they are, and you might want to check them out ASAP because they could be hacked into oblivion at any moment.

I hunt for magic words and Tarot archetypes in the wild, and here are the trophies, so to speak:
http://mysteryarts.typepad.com

I have a Zen conversion of the Rock-Paper-Scissors game:
http://www.MoonFishOcean.com

My most esoteric books and articles are here, most with extensive or full web versions:
http://www.MysteryArts.com

My most unusual reference manuals are here:
http://www.OneLetterWords.com

Here's my daily blog that covers the broadest range of my eccentric research:
http://www.OneLetterWords.com/weblog

Dansk Jävlarna
http://danskjavlarna.tumblr.com/

I was the first to recognize the village of Portmeirion (Wales) as a pop-up book of Tarot cards. Here's the story on that, as well as the Tarot of Portmeirion I created:

http://mysteryarts.com/portmeirion/tarot

Portmeirion
Janet: Your Tarot of Portmeirion (which I love!) is Majors-only; any plans on publishing the Minors, too, so we can play with a full deck?

Craig: Yes, I do need to find a card printer to take on the full deck! For now, the Minors are all represented in the free online version.

Janet: Speaking of Tarot, how and when did you get involved in the cards, anyway?

Craig: It all began with a moment of slapstick. My first step into the Tarot world coincided with a Rider-Waite deck falling on my foot while I was browsing in a bookstore. I try to be cognizant of signs that occur in daily life, if only to participate in a waking dream. For a lifelong student of comparative religion, Jungian psychology, and magic (both stage performance and shamanism), the history and symbolism of Tarot meet every criterion of fascination. Marie-Louise Von Franz's On Divination and Synchronicity solidified my love for the field.

Janet: Craig, what is your take on "evil" or, at least, "crazy online people"? You and I have seen our share of truly jaw-dropping, over-the-top reactionary behavior--especially in the metaphysical community (especially, for me, the seedy online Tarot world). What do you make of this?

Craig: To paraphrase a popular saying, people encountered via the internet are not only stranger than we imagine, they're stranger than we can imagine. The more an author puts himself or herself "out there," the more weirdness gets invited in. I have a "What fresh hell is this?" moment on almost a daily basis. Here's just the latest insanity I've been dealing with: a few years ago I created a silly little crossword puzzle inspired by the film Dr. Strangelove, in which every answer across and down was "purity of essence" or "peace on earth." I put the puzzle inside a winter holiday card and had it printed at Zazzle here. The other day, Zazzle removed the card from their catalog on the grounds of copyright infringement. I marveled at this; even assuming that a film studio had filed a complaint, I couldn't fathom how my puzzle constituted any sort of infringement. I asked Zazzle for information on how, exactly, my puzzle infringed. Their answer took me by the maximum surprise possible: it wasn't a movie studio at all, but the estate of Martin Luther King, Jr. who had demanded the card be removed.

It turns out that I refer to Martin Luther King, Jr. in the clue to 2 Across. Apparently -- and I will admit that this was news to me -- one doesn't have the right to print the name of Martin Luther King, Jr., not even in a crossword clue. As Zazzle explained, "Unfortunately, your product contained text 'Martin Luther King, Jr.' which infringes upon the intellectual property rights of Estate of Martin Luther King Jr." I feel like I'm living in some sort of George Orwell novel (well, a very particular George Orwell novel, but now I'm afraid to type most anything lest a deranged attorney contact me!) It's not that I give a hoot about the greeting card in question -- it's not a huge seller, anyway. It's the sheer perversity of it all. Unwilling to accept having my own creation removed for so ridiculous a reason, I reworded the clue to 2 Across in Pig Latin. I wonder if the MLKJ estate attorneys are scouring the web for Pig Latin mentions of the unwritable (and, I presume, forthwith unpronounceable) name. Time will tell.

Strangelove Puzzle
I'm coming to realize that when one's work explores fringe topics, one is destined to encounter other weirdos who have likewise strayed from the mainstream. Immersed as I am in the world of linguistic oddities, esoteric imagery, cryptozoology, and blank maps, it's easy to forget that I'm essentially on another planet from everyday folks. My pursuits are normal to me, but no doubt my average day would blow the minds of most. So I'm trying to take in my stride the craziness I encounter along the way. But the thing about craziness, of course, is that one can't technically prepare for it, by definition.

Janet: Unfreakinbelievable, Craig. I mean, really.

Because you tend to be an unintentional Hermit, I'd like you to list all the books and goodies you have to offer humanity.

Craig: Let's see:

Pomegranate's One-Letter Words Quiz Deck
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0764936166/blueraycom/

One-Letter Words: A Dictionary
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0060798734/blueraycom/

The Collected Lost Meanings of Christmas
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1438219628/blueraycom/

Oracle of the Two-Fold Gods
http://www.lulu.com/content/439662

A Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1438216343/blueraycom/

Magic Archetypes
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/143827324X/blueraycom/

The Carte Blanche Atlas
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B002ACYDSQ/blueraycom/

The Minimalist Coloring Book
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1438220294/blueraycom/

Puzzling Portmeirion
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1438217064/blueraycom/

Magic Words: A Dictionary
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1578634342/blueraycom/

Moon-Fish-Ocean: A Zen Conversion of Rock-Paper-Scissors
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/143821670X/blueraycom/

Ampersand
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1442148853/blueraycom/

If a Chessman Were a Word: A Chess-Calvino Dictionary
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1440407037/blueraycom/

Heirs to the Queen of Hearts: Tracing Magical Genealogy
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1478124229/blueraycom/

Astragalomancy: A Loaded Guide
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1478168153/blueraycom/

Divination By Punctuation
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1453813144/blueraycom/

Franzlations: The Imaginary Kafka Parables
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1554200628/blueraycom/

Wye's Dictionary of Improbable Words
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1441455272/blueraycom/

The Ghost in the [Scanning] Machine
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1452895341/blueraycom/

Not Rocket Science
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/144046653X/blueraycom/

Two Sides of the Same Coin
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1450542999/blueraycom/

Annotated Ellipses
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1438269099/blueraycom/

Human Diversity: A Guide for Understanding
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0072428317/blueraycom/

Diverse Learners in the Classroom
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0070125503/blueraycom/

Presumptive Conundrums
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1442148853/blueraycom/

The One Minute Mystic
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/144958697X/blueraycom/

Six Degrees of Jubilation
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/144952124X/blueraycom/

Your Ship Will Come In
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/144952737X/blueraycom/

A Fine Line Between ...
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1438263511/blueraycom/

Forgotten Wisdom
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1438281935/blueraycom/

The Skeleton Key of Solomon
http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1452897484/blueraycom/

Unity Symbols Coloring Book
http://www.oneletterwords.com/unity/

And dozens more titles, which are listed here:

http://www.oneletterwords.com/craigconley/

Craig lime
Craig Conley in the internet's very first "lime in limelight".


And there you have it, dear Readers. One of the most brilliant, unique creatures on this gorgeous planet. I'm pleased as punch to call Craig my friend; he's truly a very special soul. Incidentally, he's also Snowland's official vintage image curator, so he's responsible for all the lovely whismy he gathers for us here.

-- Janet

> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
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Precursors (permalink)
The "Cone of Silence," made famous in the Get Smart comedy series, first appeared over a century earlier, in Punch, 1857.

[For Jonathan.]
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The Ghost in the [Scanning] Machine (permalink)

Portrait from The Life and Letters of George Bancroft.
* The Ghost in the [Scanning] Machine promises real ghosts, actual hauntings, and necromancy by proxy.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from a 1907 issue of The Strand magazine.  The caption reads: "If you insist on denouncing me, you little know the consequences you will bring upon yourself!"

Dedicated to Gordon Meyer.

[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
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October 1, 2012

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

"Miles and miles of dead leaves, either drifting, wayward and restless, like living things that are feverish and sick, or lying in piled-up heaps, corpse-cold and motionless, entering, it might seem, with some ecstasy too deep to betray itself by the faintest quiver, the huge dark dumb mysterious process, reeking with sepulchre-sweet rot and fetid with lust-satisfying decay, of the enormous vegetable dissolution, out of which, autumn by recurrent autumn, the organic life of the earth is renewed." —John Cowper Powys, Porius
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Precursors (permalink)
We discovered a precursor to the film A Cry in the Dark (1988).  A dingo took her baby in this image from The Wide World Magazine, 1900.

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Indubitably (?) (permalink)
"We would pass a joint and suddenly everything about this world and our place in it seemed hilarious. Simple observations became impossibly profound. Indubitably so."*
John Grogan, The Longest Trip Home: A Memoir (2009)
*If Merriam (or Webster?) is correct that indubitably is not the kind of word that gets used in everyday conversation, except perhaps for humorous effect, then insert comedy drum roll here.
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