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.
March 31, 2014

Precursors (permalink)
Here's a prehistoric precursor to Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are, from Researches Into the Last Histories of America by W. S. Blacket, 1883.

> read more from Precursors . . .
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Staring at the Sun (permalink)
"My advice is to turn your back on the sunset and see how its warm glow is magically lighting up the people, objects, and scenes around you." —The Trustees of Reservations

Our illustration is from On Blue Water by Edmondo de Amicis, 1898.  The caption reads: "He turned his back on the sunset."

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
The levitation of Amedeo Zuccarini of Bologna during a scientifically investigated seance, from The Annals of Psychical Science, vol. 6 (1907).  This should be of interest: Seance Parlor Feng Shui.
[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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March 30, 2014

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"So many rows done, so many to be done—ah! Yes, 'tis March 30." From Cured by an Incurable by Philip Bennett Power and illustrated by Edmund Fitzpatrick, 1888.

[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)
"The Comet and the Glowworm": an illustration from an 1874 issue of The Quiver 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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March 29, 2014

A Rose is a ... (permalink)
An illustration from a 1904 issue of The Reader magazine.
> read more from A Rose is a ... . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from The Tomahawk (August 31, 1867).
[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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March 28, 2014

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Our illustration could (but doesn't) accompany this line:

"[T]he hazards of scholarship and mortality: he was overwhelmed by the weight of documentation, by his own erudition, by overambition." —Mark Goldie, "Roger Morrice and the History of Puritanism," Religious Identities in Britain, 1660-1832

Note the detail of who is behind the accident.  From Monographien Zur Deutschen Kulturgeschichte by Georg Steinhausen, 1899.

[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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Book of Whispers (permalink)
"The Whisper in the Night": an illustration from an 1887 issue of Frank Leslie's Pleasant Hours magazine.
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.  No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .
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Everybody's Doing This Now (permalink)
An illustration from an 1870 issue of The Tomahawk magazine.
> read more from Everybody's Doing This Now . . .
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March 27, 2014

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1890 issue of The Quiver magazine.  The caption reads: "There was nothing—nothing there!"
[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 1889 issue of The Quiver magazine.  The caption reads: "The Doctor read with all his eyes."
[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 The Reader magazine.  The caption reads: "'Your dope is some wrong,' said the shade. 'Did you ever hear that every person had two minds?'"

 
J. asks, "How in the world did that 1907 illustrator manage to conjure a shade from some postwar noir/spaghetti western film??"
[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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March 26, 2014

Uncharted Territories (permalink)
We're delighted to see our atlas of blank maps profiled at the Bibliotheca Invisibilis, which collects all sorts of conceptualizations of the invisible.
> read more from Uncharted Territories . . .
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Book of Whispers (permalink)
"There is only one key ... and that is all keys in one." —Rupert Hughes, Żal: An International Romance (1905)

Our illustration appears in Spanje Een Reisverhaal by Jozef Israëls, 1899.

* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.  No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1887 issue of Frank Leslie's Pleasant Hours magazine.  The caption reads: "The sexton's ghost.—'He saw something move.  It was a tall figure, and it tottered weakly toward the gate on which he leaned."
[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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Strange Dreams (permalink)
An illustration from a 1900 issue of The Lady's Realm magazine.  The caption reads: "It was like a bad dream."
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .
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March 25, 2014

A Rose is a ... (permalink)
A rose, rather, is the beginning, a form that can be an infusion of metaphors and ideas that are bigger than itself.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from The Annals of Psychical Science, vol. 7 (1908).  The caption reads: "Giving heed to seducing spirits."
[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 1900 issue of The Lady's Realm 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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March 24, 2014

Precursors (permalink)

A friend made a graph comparing how much folks talk nonstop about bacon to the number of damns the rest of us give about how much any of them like bacon.  He noted, "What really makes the bacon thing (and other such things) annoying to me is that by the time they attain 'thing' status, they no longer seem to be about loving whatever it is—it seems to be more of a fetishization and status marker (i.e., the status of someone duly participating in whatever the zeitgeist has determined his/her demographic should participate in). You and I love cheese because, well, we really love cheese—not because the concept of 'cheese' has become a totem or a meme!"

Flirting with bacon as a status marker goes back at least to the mid-1800s, as we see in this illustration from The Oxford Thackeray.


> read more from Precursors . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from Confessions of a Medium (1882).  The caption reads: "In the circle. The medium at work."  This should be of interest: Seance Parlor Feng Shui.
[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 by Pamela Coleman Smith from a 1903 issue of The Reader magazine.  The caption reads: "Led on by courage and death with sorrow at his feet."
[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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March 23, 2014

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from Merriment and Mirth for Merry Little People (1889).  The caption reads: "For the owl and cats and I all grew larger every minute."
[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 1887 issue of Frank Leslie's Pleasant Hours magazine.  The caption reads: "Now a weird sight presented itself."
[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 1879 issue of Arthur's Home 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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March 22, 2014

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
The scale here is one inch to one Inch. From Craigmillar and its Environs by Thomas Speedy (1892).  The caption reads: "The Inch house as it was."
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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
An illustration from an 1858 issue of Punch magazine.
*Inspired by the world's only accurate meteorological report, "Yesterday's Weather," as seen on Check It Out.
> read more from Yesterday's Weather . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[For Clint Marsh.]  Telling the time by puffing on a dandelion from Arthur's Home Magazine (1863).  The caption reads: "The Dandelion Clock."
[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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March 21, 2014

Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: just outside or two blocks away?

Clue: This is according to Neil Simon.

Answer: two blocks (The answer is in black text on the black background. Highlight it to view.)

Citation: Neil Simon, Laughter on the 23rd Floor. "Not outside the Roman Senate. Two blocks from the Roman Senate. Two blocks is funny."  [Thanks, Jonathan!]
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .
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Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to The Village People, from (what else?) Bachelor Ballads by Harry A. Spurr, 1899.
> read more from Precursors . . .
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The Right Word (permalink)
"Write mortal; think witch": advice from the classic sitcom Bewitched.

> read more from The Right Word . . .
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March 20, 2014

Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to the quotation craze — an author of "bits of books" from The Man in the Moon, 1847.

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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
The mysterious influence of spring, from The Leisure Hour, 1895.
*Inspired by the world's only accurate meteorological report, "Yesterday's Weather," as seen on Check It Out.
> read more from Yesterday's Weather . . .
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Only Funny If ... (permalink)
Chicken Road It's funny "only if we side with the satirist, only if we are not the object of attack."
Bruce R. Smith, Homosexual Desire in Shakespeare's England (1995)
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March 19, 2014

Colorful Allusions (permalink)
We're tickled that a photo of our rainbow bookshelves illustrates these sentences in an English lesson: "My bookcase is a mess.  I need to sort out my books."

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1887 issue of Frank Leslie's Pleasant Hours 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)
"'Tell me,' she said, imploringly; 'I can bear anything but suspense.'" (The Quiver, 1886.)

She's right!  "Suspense kills like nothing else.  Suspense is a slow poison that eats into your system and gradually erodes your body, mind, heart and soul" (N. Sampath Kumar, Love on Velocity Express, 2010).
[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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March 18, 2014

This May Surprise You (permalink)
The meaning of life is having needs

(The answer is in black text on the black background. Highlight it to view.)

See the explanation at Futility Closet.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1885 issue of Frank Leslie's Pleasant Hours magazine.  The caption reads: "Everything about her seemed to swing into space."
[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)
Top illustration: "Please turn you head away.  Don't look—don't!" (The Quiver, 1886).
Bottom illustration: "The rejected alms." (The Letters of Charles Dickens, 1893.)

We find an explanation in Frank Crane's Just Human (1915): "Most so-called charity is evil.  It is bad both ways.  It deceives the giver by a false salve to his conscience. ... The gift is also a curse to the recipient.  It destroys self-respect.  Both takers and givers of charity are debased."
[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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March 17, 2014

Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to Prof. Henry Higgins and flower girl Eliza Doolittle of Pygmalion (1912), from an advertisement in A Lawful Crime by Edward Kent, 1899.  The illustration is by Phil May.

> read more from Precursors . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from The Sociable Ghost by Olive Harper (1903).  The caption reads: "With a smile of ineffable sweetness she vanished."
[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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Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
"He devoted himself to Syndey ..." (reads the caption to this illustration from The Quiver, 1886).

"... While she held her Perth" (we add).
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March 16, 2014

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

[For Jeff Hawkins.]

The text reads, "Learning the art of photography is absorbed more through osmosis." —Peter Ensenberger, Focus on Composing Photos (2011)
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.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Forget it, forget it!": an illustration from The Sociable Ghost by Olive Harper (1903).
[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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Precursors (permalink)
A precursor to 1958's hula hoop, from a 1900 issue of The Lady's Realm.
> read more from Precursors . . .
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March 15, 2014

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
It's a Retroactive Lifetime Goal* for us to have captured in a single photograph the look and feel of California environmental quality. Thanks, Los Angeles Conservancy, for featuring our wide-angle view of Los Feliz as your masthead.

 
*The phrase "Retroactive Lifetime Goal" appears courtesy of Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.
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Puzzles and Games (permalink)
The caption reads: "They ... were soon deep in the game."  (From The Quiver, 1883.)  See If a Chessman Were a Word: A Chess-Calvino Dictionary.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Conjuring the spirit of devolution: an illustration from a 1907 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.]
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March 14, 2014

The Right Word (permalink)

The text reads: "I am the empty parenthetical / The unattached reference." —Akmed Khalifa, The Camel's Shadow Has Four Humps: African Myth, Urban Mystery (2012)
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1867 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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Precursors (permalink)
Here's what we might call a precursoral opposite.  In The Shining (1980), countless variations of the phrase "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" cover hundreds of typewritten pages, revealing that Jack Torrance is disturbed.  In a 1908 issue of The Windsor Magazine, the blankness of a page reveals that someone is disturbed.

The caption reads, "'You have been disturbed!' she cried sorrowfully, as she took in the blankness of the page."
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March 13, 2014

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1897 issue of Century Illustrated magazine.  The caption reads: "Spirit Photograph taken by the author. Yours in magic and masonry, Henry Ridgely Evans."  This should be of interest: Seance Parlor Feng Shui.
[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)
"The red letters of the calendar seemed to glow before Lottie's eyes" (The Quiver, 1886).

But how?  We explained all a few years ago in this helpful diagram.
[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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Why is this judge condemning a chair to "the chair" (as it were)?  Well, illegal furniture can include "settees, sofas, chairs and beds" (Splam! Successful Property Letting and Management, 2008).  Our illustration appears in The Windsor Magazine, 1908.
[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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March 12, 2014

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from The Deer Smellers of Haunted Mountain by John J. Meyer (1921). The caption reads: "Hunting for apartments and vacant perfect worlds in the space deeps of the universe."

Suydamandgomorrah notes: "I've heard the space deeps of the universe are the new Bushwick."
[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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Precursors (permalink)
Hundreds of years before the phenomenon of walking while texting, folks were glued to windows, insensible to the wonders around them.  We find proof in Arthur's Home Magazine, 1876.  The caption reads: "She stood leaning against a window, but not seeing the beauty that lay stretched before her."
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March 11, 2014

Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to comedian Steve Martin's arrow-through-the-head gag, from Bachelor Ballads and Other Lazy Lyrics by Harry A. Spurr and illustrated by J. Hassall (1899).  However, we understand that the gag technically traces back to the play The Knight of the Burning Pestle (1607), with this stage direction: "Enter Rafe, with a forked arrow through his head."
> read more from Precursors . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from Saturday Magazine (1837).  The caption reads: "Satan playing at chess with man, for his soul."  See If a Chessman Were a Word: A Chess-Calvino Dictionary.
[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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Only Funny If ... (permalink)
Chicken Road "It's only funny if you know the people, because they all get slaughtered at the end."
The Truth is Out There: The Official Guide to the X-Files (1995)
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March 10, 2014

Precursors (permalink)
The phenomenon of sunlight shining haloes through clouds of ice crystals helped to inspire John Dee's famous hieroglyphic monad.

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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
Frank Herbert suggests that when we are ashore, we seem to forget about the menace of the sea because the subconscious masks it (The Dragon in the Sea, 1956).
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"The sea is a cruel mistress. Yet again the sea has behaved unconscionably. It's time to address this terrible problem that is the sea." —Captain Neddie, from the hilarious BBC series Broken News
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Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
Here's an owl border we salvaged and restored from an 1860 issue of Arthur's Home Magazine.  For re-sizing convenience, we created an EPS version for downloading.

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March 9, 2014

Book of Whispers (permalink)
"Some questions are for answering; others are better left to torture and torment for all eternity." —Daryl Zero in Zero Effect
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Fairy Tales, written and illustrated by Alfred Crowquill, 1857.
[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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March 8, 2014

Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to the Teletubbies sun, from Lilliput Lyrics by William Brighty Rands, 1899.

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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
"Fine March weather" by Hugh Thomson, from Mary Russell Mitford's Our Village (1893).

*Inspired by the world's only accurate meteorological report, "Yesterday's Weather," as seen on Check It Out.
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March 7, 2014

Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to the "unfollow" and "unfriend" phenomenon of social media, from Springhaven: A Tale of the Great War by Rochard Doddridge Blackmore, 1888.  The caption reads, "I am not at all happy at losing dear friends."
> read more from Precursors . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
A phrenology patient is inspired to check for bumps on his dog's head in this illustration from Arthur's Home Magazine, 1861.  The subspecialty of veterinary phrenology was rare but not unknown.  The strange history of an elephant phrenology is told in Jan Bondeson's The Feejee Mermaid and Other Essays in Natural and Unnatural History.
[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 1917 issue of Saturday Evening Post magazine.  The caption reads: "Wilberforce Shadd thrilled at the touch of the magic paper."

[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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March 6, 2014

Precursors (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Edward Albee's title Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? (1962), from Frank Sullivan in a 1933 issue of The New Yorker.  Sullivan refers to reading a page "to the tune of 'Who's afraid of Virginia Woolf?'"

> read more from Precursors . . .
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Strange Dreams (permalink)
"I've dreamed a lot.  I'm tired now from dreaming but not tired of dreaming.  No one tires of dreaming, because to dream is to forget, and forgetting does not weigh on us, it is a dreamless sleep throughout which we remain awake.  In dreams I have achieved everything.  I've also woken up, but what does that matter?  How many countless Caesars I have been!" —Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet
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I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Suspense is overrated.  Sometimes it's lovely to have questions answered immediately.  Take the story "Julia's Little Weakness" (from The Lady's Realm, 1900).  What's Julia's little weakness?  The very first sentence illuminates us forthwith: "It was for 'stars.'"  Belated thanks, Philippa Trent, for getting right to it!  (And for beginning her story with a long dash!)
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March 5, 2014

Something, Defined (permalink)
A book about nice things (for Jonathan Caws-Elwitt), from Lilliput Lyrics by William Brighty Rands and illustrated by Reginald Brimley Johnson (1899).
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Apropos of Nothing (permalink)

photo by Cobalt 123
"[A]propos of nothing, I suggest that we go skating in the moonlight, all together."
Jane Smiley, Ordinary Love and Good Will
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Precursors (permalink)
A decade before Stanislavski's "system" and three decades before Strasberg's "method," we find "a modern method" for acting in The Lady's Realm (1901) by the mysterious M. M. M.  But mostly we just like the wonky font.

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March 4, 2014

The Right Word (permalink)
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Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to the animal print craze of the 1960s Bohemian movement, from Punch, 1867.
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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
The wild wind of March, from Little Wide Awake, 1885.
*Inspired by the world's only accurate meteorological report, "Yesterday's Weather," as seen on Check It Out.
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March 3, 2014

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
They say that disasters always come in threes.  And we're the first to prove it.  Take, for example, this record of railway accidents.  We show that they do, uncannily, group into threes.

> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
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No News Is Good News (permalink)
"Am I to understand that you have nothing more to say to me?"  No news is good news in The Quiver, 1882.
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Only Funny If ... (permalink)
Chicken Road "It would have been funny only if the audience did not take at face value the Utopian excesses of enthusiasm over England's greatness."
Rebecca Weaver-Hightower, Empire Islands: Castaways, Cannibals, And Fantasies of Conquest (2007)
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March 2, 2014

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"He sat down, with the feeling of having digged [sic] a pit for another and fallen into it himself."  This we find in The Lady's Realm, 1899.

Indeed:

"As anyone who's ever been to a New York party knows, scoring a comfortable seat is about as easy as landing the apartment in the first place." —New York Magazine, July 14, 1997

[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)
Steamy romance in 1906: an illustration from a 1906 issue of Puck 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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March 1, 2014

The Right Word (permalink)
Given our substantial research into esoteric tomes, we're sometimes consulted for strange and unusual magical spells. An award-winning quarterly magazine of art and culture based in New York [name withheld for reasons of discretion] once asked us for a spell to cast over their printing press. Most recently, a winner of two Gertrude Stein Awards in Innovative American Poetry [name withheld in a nod to our lost age of privacy] asked us for no fewer than thirteen different spells:
  1. A spell which finds and locates the source of (malicious) gossip and renders the "first tongue" of this gossip chain either serpent-like (i.e. forks the tongue) or like that of some other loathsome beast.
  2. A spell which will allow a refrigerator to enchant the food in it, so that when you eat the food you see the food's history (such as the worker picking the grapes. This would be quite grisly when it came to lunch meat and we realized it had a "family life.")
  3. A spell which will render water capable of transmitting its memories. When an enemy steps into a tub of "blissful" water, suddenly he or she is overcome with a thousand television stations of water memory, all the way back to the time of the dinosaurs.
  4. A spell that turns pussy willows back into the cats they once were.
  5. A spell which allows you to enter into a painting or use a painting, drawing, etc. as an avenue of escape.
  6. A spell to send snow back upwards into the sky—a reverse snowstorm spell.
  7. A spell whereby you can have birds carry a message to other birds to so on to other birds in order to reach someone far away.
  8. A spell which makes someone the reverse of a money magnet, so money is always figuratively (and literally) flying away from him or her.
  9. A spell to make someone fall in love with his or her own reflection. For example, a teenager cannot concentrate in class but must constantly seek a reflective surface to the point of madness. Good for a stuck up kid in school, beauty queen hex, etc.
  10. A spell whereby planes flying overhead will drop valuable things into your yard or on your roof, like a form of tribute from airplane.
  11. A spell to turn pancake batter into quicksand, so when the person eats the finished product, the pancake inside the person slowly causes the person to implode into himself/herself, vanishing throughout the day in a very geometrically weird way.
  12. A spell on cookies to make them like online cookies; they drop without the eater's consent and glow, leading you to the person you are trailing and to whom you have given the bewitched cookie.
  13. A spell to make tornados play music. Needles appears within and the tornado is turned into an old school record player even as it grinds away at a landscape.
Anyone wondering about the content of these spells will want to keep an eye out for our Young Wizard's Hexopedia.
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Puzzles and Games :: Letter Grids (permalink)
This puzzle grid contains several big words, including one as blue as the sky. Can you find them?

• 7-letter words: 16
• 8-letter words: 4
• 9-letter words: 2

All letters in the word must touch (in any direction), and no square may be reused.

Click to display solutions
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from an 1891 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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