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.
February 28, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

This is actually a Googlewhack, as of this posting: "A pound of prevention is worth an ounce of cheese."  From St. Nicholas magazine, 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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Puzzles and Games (permalink)

"Jamie, we are both playing a false game," from The Flower of Gala Water and Other Stories by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr, 1895.

> read more from Puzzles and Games . . .
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Uncharted Territories (permalink)
Here's a blank map from Provincial and State Papers (New Hampshire), 1867.
> read more from Uncharted Territories . . .
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Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Magicians (like Uri Geller) who perform spoon bending aren't necessarily religious, but they have a patron saint just the same.  Here's the patron saint of magical cutlery, from The Saturday Evening Post, 1839.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .
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Precursors (permalink)

The phenomenon of people holding up individual letters of a word and kerfuffling goes way back, apparently. This example is from 1910, in the Hampden-Sydney College Kaleidoscope yearbook.  (For some unbelievably weird yearbook imagery, see our How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.)

> read more from Precursors . . .
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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
"The Mist Lady," from Dormer Windows by Anne MacDonald, 1926.
*Inspired by the world's only accurate meteorological report, "Yesterday's Weather," as seen on Check It Out.
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February 27, 2015

Precursors (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, from Twycross's Redemption by Alfred Saint Johnston, 1888.  The caption reads, "Don't let us pretend that any longer, dear."

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

When I learned that Andy died, I knew I'd quite literally lost a part of my heart.  It was at a grand bonfire in the Nevada desert that a magus once arranged Andy, me, and three others (whose identities I'm not at liberty to divulge) into a pentacle, intertwining our arms in a special way so that when we squeezed hands a heartbeat pulsed around and around the circle.  For some timeless moments, we five were a single beating heart.  (There's a Sufi doctrine that the heart has five faces, each pointed, in turn, toward the divine, the world of pure spirits, formal exemplars, the visible world, and the synthesis of the inwardly hidden and outwardly manifest.)  Even before that ritual, Andy had been hanging around me a bit, shyly or perhaps covertly seeking to get a grasp on what exactly was going on with me.  I know I let down some masks, but he never let on whether I revealed my true self.  He was a witch masking as a magician, and he knew I was something, at the very least a fellow outsider hovering at the edge of a gathering of eccentrics in the middle of the desert.  We briefly commiserated on our respective dark nights of the soul, but only later, secondhand, did I learn that Andy had recently been exiled from his coven.  Andy had a maxim for how not to drown in an overwhelming flood of language: "Don't trip over the fall of letters."  My own Muse took that and twisted "fall" into "Autumn": http://www.oneletterwords.com/weblog/?id=6274.  And so, my heart skipped a beat when I learned that Andy died.  I didn't really know him, or didn't allow myself to.  As the ancient Egyptian proverb goes, "He who knows his own heart, the fate knows him."

> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"There are others," from The Literary Digest, 1890.
[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)

From the Hacawa yearbook of Lenoir-Rhyne University, 1910.  (For some unbelievably weird yearbook imagery, see our How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.)

If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Lays of Ancient Rome by Thomas Macaulay, 1904.
[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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Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
Here's a comet falling to the earth by way of Buddha's Crystal and Other Fairy Tales, 1908.
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .
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Do-Re-Midi (permalink)
In other words, lay bare your agony moderately slowly with loving expression.  Lyric by William Smyth (1765-1849).
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February 26, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
These apparitions appear in St. Nicholas 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 a precursor to the "Fusilli Jerry" episode of Seinfeld.  It appears in The Jingle Book by Carolyn Wells and illustrated by Oliver Herford, 1899.  (Thanks, Jonathan!)


> read more from Precursors . . .
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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
From Wanderings of an Antiquary by Thomas Wright, 1854.
*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)
An illustration from Ballads and Songs by William Makepeace Thackeray (1896).  The caption reads: "She comes from the past and revisits my room."
[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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February 25, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"A human devil; or, the Biter Bit," from The New Budget of Recitations, 1854.
[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)
From The Irish Green Book by George Stronach, 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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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
"Mr. Asterias perlustrated the sea-coast for several days, and reaped disappointment, but not despair," from Headlong Hall and Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock, 1896.
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"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
> read more from This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Came up when he was called by art": from The Essays of Leigh Hunt, 1903.   Also very much of interest: The Young Wizard's Hexopedia.
[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)
[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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February 24, 2015

Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)

From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

Sherlock Holmes’ Ascertainment of the Chemical Elements of Purity


The text reads:

1. Hold up two empty test tubes to the light. Note that the first contains two parts of fiction to one of truth, the other merely impotence.

2. Shake, then pour the contents into a glass globe.

3. Empty the contents of the globe and stir the remaining vacuum reflectively.

4. Drain off the vacuum and throw it away, leaving only the hole in space where the vacuum had been.

5. Remove the hole, leaving only the space.

6. Seize the contents of the space where the hole had been which had been left by the vacuum; remove the contents; remove that, and hold the result up to the light. Purity!

[As revealed in Corey Ford’s Three Rousing Cheers for the Rollo Boys, 1925]

Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .
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Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to the Batman mask, from Local and Regional Anesthesia, 1914.

> read more from Precursors . . .
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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"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
> read more from This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
An illustration from The Half Hour Library of Travel, Nature and Science for Young Readers (1896).  The caption reads: "The king of the wind."
*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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February 23, 2015

Precursors (permalink)
Here's Toto, 70 dog years before the debut of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.  From Home Life on an Ostrich Farm by Annie Martin, 1890.
> read more from Precursors . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"By the sheen of the foam I beheld two skelingtons sitting in their coffins." From The Story Hunter or Tales of the Weird and Wild by Ernest Richard Suffling, 1896.
[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 a precursor to The Story of Doctor Dolittle, 1920, from Gleanings in Bee Culture, 1874.
> read more from Precursors . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"A monstrous creature with bat-like wings flapped toward me and I fired desperately at it," from Fantastic Adventures, July, 1939.
[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)
"There we two were, I looking up at the viper, and the viper looking down upon me, flickering at me with its tongue," from Lavengro by George Borrow, 1896.
[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 devil's walk," from Roses and Holly, 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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February 22, 2015

Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)
Q: The world is sh*t, isn't it?
A: "No, no ... a good, pure, wholesome world!" —Paul Jones's Alias by David Christie Murray, 1890

(Note how, in the caption, the opening quotation mark is a bullet.  Perhaps one should shoot daggers with one's eyes and bullets with one's words.  A: Yes.)
> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"The devil's ramble on earth," from The New Budget of Recitations, 1854.
[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)

"So monstrous in his mind," from Phœbe or the Miller's Maid, 1854.

[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)
"Cut the pictures into strips and ribbons," from The Heart of Princess Osra by Anthony Hope, 1896.
[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)
[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 . . .
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest


Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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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February 21, 2015

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)

Hypnotix writes:

Hello good sir, I pose you a question (or 20) I must say, your list of “duties” [as presented here] was quite stimulating and was the first reason I had to follow you. I will just go ahead and jump into question one at the surface. I could see that you are quite concise with your wording so I will address it as such.
When you say duties, It makes me feel as though you were tasked with these goals. If so, where was the inspiration from?
My next question is, Was this written in succession or over time? If so, surely this is an extension of surrealism. Any and all of those thoughts could be linked together (and very well may be) but oddly enough, forging those connections on the fly is also an extension of surrealism which webs out into a whole new network of problems and questions I will not elaborate upon at this time.
My final question is simply why? Perhaps this is even the most important question of them all. I wonder if you would flip number 2 back on me.
I ask this all under the pretense of 5,8, and 10 :P I am not sure why, but this feels important. I have never been so intrigued by a list of anything before.

Thank you for the great message, Hypnotix, and may I first say that your appreciation of my duties as Attendant of the Borgesian Circulating Depository is a mirror of your own fascinating qualities.  As a wise someone once said, it takes one to know one.  So I sincerely applaud your insight into your own multifacetedness.  You asked whether or not I was tasked with these goals, and the simple answer is that one's foremost duties are owed to oneself, so it's all voluntary (or fated, depending upon the nature of the universe).  You asked if my list of duties was written over time, and the truth is that I wrote them all at once.  (But the truth is also that they summarize a life's work.)  I like that you noted how forging connections between the items would constitute an extension of surrealism.  Your final and most important question is "Why?" ... and I find myself disinclined to respond to that one; even though I could express answers in several sentences, I don't wish to define boundaries and thereby set limits.  Plus, the "why" is unfolding (or, um, blossoming might be more accurate).  Meanwhile, just between you and me, my task of the day is to measure the infinitesimal passage of time in every iteration of the Droste effect.  (This task was actually assigned to me by my magic teacher in the Netherlands, George Parker.)  Best regards! —Prof. Oddfellow

---

Meanwhile, thanks to Archie McPhee for showcasing our photo of lucid dreaming with tiny hand puppets!

> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .
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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
The wind god of Japan, from East and West by Edwin Arnold, 1896.
*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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Strange Dreams (permalink)
"Up the mountain sides of dreams," from A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson and illustrated by C. Robinson, 1896.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"There appeared an extraordinary sight," from Jess by H. Rider Haggard and illustrated by Maurice Greiffenhagen, 1896.
[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 Behe-moth and the Mam-moth, from The Choice Works of Thomas Hood, 1881.
[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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This May Surprise You (permalink)
"The piano is a wonder box," from St. Nicholas magazine.
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Here's some scarecrow construction from Buddha's Crystal and Other Fairy Stories, 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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Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to the "What would Jesus do?" meme, from Christian Herald and Signs of Our Times, 1895.  The song is entitled, "What will You do with Jesus?"

> read more from Precursors . . .
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February 20, 2015

Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to the song "Walking with Scissors" by Gregory de Rocher's band Lowfish.  From The Comedies, Histories, Tragedies, and Poems of William Shakspere, 1851.
> read more from Precursors . . .
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Everybody's Doing This Now (permalink)
Here's a captive audience from The Choice Works of Thomas Hood, 1881.
> read more from Everybody's Doing This Now . . .
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Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to Playskool's roly-poly Weeble toys, 1971, from St. Nicholas magazine, 1912.  Illustration by Katherine Maynadier Daland.
> read more from Precursors . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Canadian Grocer, July-December 1896.  This should also be of interest: How to Believe in Your Elf.

[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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Everybody's Doing This Now (permalink)
From The Briar Patch by Sweet Briar College, 1920.
> read more from Everybody's Doing This Now . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An illustration from Peter Ibbetson by George Du Maurier (1892).  The caption reads: "To the winter palace."
[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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February 19, 2015

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

We're honored that the renowned philosopher of magic Robert E. Neale (author of The Sense of Wonder) thinks we've stumbled upon the secret to world peace with our Seance Parlor Feng Shui project: 

Prof. Oddfellow has carried the logical approach to nonsense to even greater heights than before. The logic of two absurd systems logically joined into a masterpiece of faith for fools that could stop us from killing each other. My delight lies in making up meaning, but his talent in this is unsurpassed. This treatise will lurk about on our coffee table waiting to preside over a promising guest. In the meantime, I might play with feng shui myself.

Woohoo!


> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
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Do-Re-Midi (permalink)

We're pleased to debut a clockwork remix of a song by Jim Girouard entitled "We're Almost There."  Before the invention of MIDI, programmed music required meticulously timed Grandfather clocks, and every performance ticked at 60 bpm. In the tradition of the original "old school," this clockwork remix features vintage timepieces. The original song features the line, "There's a light in the church up the road ahead, in a place where the living meet the dead."  You can hear the original vocal/guitar version here: http://holistictech.net/jim/music/13%20-%20We%27re%20Almost%20There.mp3

> read more from Do-Re-Midi . . .
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Only Funny If ... (permalink)

If you've ever wondered about the precise location of the funny bone, here it is.  From Otterbein College's yearbook The Sibyl, 1905.  The text reads, "Here's where we jab you."  (For some unbelievably weird yearbook imagery, see our How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.)

> read more from Only Funny If ... . . .
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Staring Into the Depths (permalink)
"The first question that every one asks on looking at the moon is, Is it inhabited?"  From Harper's Weekly, 1857.
[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)
The magic song from Half-Past Bedtime by Henry Howarth Bashford, 1922.
[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)
"Mesmeric Ghosts": an illustration from The Children's Fairy History of England by Forbes Edward Winslow (1889).
[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 The Stealers of Light by Marie, Queen of Roumania (1916).
[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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February 18, 2015

Do-Re-Midi (permalink)

"Music: the most sonic of all the dark arts."  That's comedian and recording artist Matt Berry in the second series of Vic and Bob's House of Fools.

> read more from Do-Re-Midi . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

Yes, a donkey drinking tea is very nearly a Googlewhack as of this posting (one search result being for a game of Interference in which "donkey drinking tea" breaks down into "black box.")  From Taking Tales by William Henry Giles Kingston, 1889.

[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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Do-Re-Midi (permalink)
Here's an illustration of sound waves from Practical Physics by Robert Millikan, 1922.
> read more from Do-Re-Midi . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"You could dip this house in water": an ad in American Homes and Gardens, 1905.
[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)
It's only [wickedly] funny if the witches laugh, from The Violet Fairy Book by Andrew Lang, 1906.
> read more from Only Funny If ... . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"The Other Me": an illustration from Red Apple and Silver Bells by Alice B. Woodward (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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February 17, 2015

This May Surprise You (permalink)
You know the finger game "Here's the church, here's the steeple," in which hands are clasped to represent a church, then pointer fingers are raised to form a spire, then the remaining fingers are revealed as a congregation?  Well, it's not just a game.  From Blasts from The Ram's Horn, 1902.
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .
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Colorful Allusions (permalink)
Here are the colors of the void from Catalog of Portables and Shades by Welsbach Commercial Company, 1910.
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"I've been bewitched," from St. Nicholas 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 a precursor to M. C. Escher's Drawing Hands, 1948, from Haverford College Athletic Annual and 1900 Class Book.
> read more from Precursors . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From 1811.
[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)
A volcano slightly damaged by fire, a grassy knoll, and other items for sale from King Time or The Mystical Land of the Hours by Percy Keese Fitzhugh, 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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February 16, 2015

Precursors (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the iconic "Blown-Away Man" photo, made famous in the Maxell ad campaigns.  From Cobb's Bill-of-Fare by Irwin Shrewsbury Cobb, 1913.

> read more from Precursors . . .
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Yearbook Weirdness (permalink)

If you've never heard of Epitical Bychology [sic] or Trigonomety [sic], it may be because they both died in May, 1897.  From the Agnes Scott Institute's Aurora yearbook.  (For some unbelievably weird yearbook imagery, see our How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.)


> read more from Yearbook Weirdness . . .
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Do-Re-Midi (permalink)

"The [threefold] rays of the bright polar star" (from Lachin y Gair by Lord Byron).

> read more from Do-Re-Midi . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"The poor old soul was bent with toil," from St. Nicholas 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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Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
"Blazes: How to Put Them Out," from American Newspaper Directory, 1891.
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .
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Presumptive Conundrums (permalink)
* Learn more about Presumptive Conundrums at Amazon.com.
> read more from Presumptive Conundrums . . .
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February 15, 2015

Something, Defined (permalink)
"Something, something, something.  Something, something.  Something!"  From the "By Appointment" episode of the timelessly funny Are You Being Served?

> read more from Something, Defined . . .
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Do-Re-Midi (permalink)

> read more from Do-Re-Midi . . .
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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
From The Boy Travellers in Australasia by Thomas Wallace Knox, 1889.
*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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This May Surprise You (permalink)
This vintage Colgate ad (from 1873) reminds us that we know our own teeth only through the looking glass!

> read more from This May Surprise You . . .
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Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)

As the regional operations supervisor would say, "Why are you budgeted for both a court fool and a buffoon?" —Jonathan Caws-Elwitt


> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"The chaplain puzzled," from The Oxford Thackeray.
[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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February 14, 2015

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
Corresponding-fiasco writes: "I must ask, all of the documents you post, where do they come from? What do you do? I've never seen anything like it in my life."

To quote Thelma Ritter in the film Boeing-Boeing, "It's not easy, you know?"  We dedicate more hours a day than one might believe going through books digitized by Google, the British Library, and the Internet Archive, and we curate imagery that strikes our fancy, but then we take all said imagery into Photoshop to undo the various damage from the original scanning process: we correct contrast, sharpness, color balance, and trimming, and we try our best to erase digitizing artifacts that don't belong.  And it's all just for the love of it.  Granted we did include a particularly glamorous category of our finds in the book Ghost in the Scanning Machine, but the vast, vast majority of the pieces are just for here and our blog on Tumblr.  Thanks for the appreciation!  We suppose many folks just assume we stumble upon all this material, but in fact it's all hand-picked with painstaking care (with the marvelous side effect of boosting our time travel abilities).

Below, Prof. Oddfellow reveals one of the many tools* he uses to create Abecedarian — a mysterious genie bottle that arrived in the mail one day.

*This "one of the many tools" business is an homage to our lost friend Teresa of "Frog Applause" fame.
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .
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Only Funny If ... (permalink)
Comedy equals tragedy plus time, and a Punchinello costume in the mix never hurts.  From Earthquakes by Arnold Boscoqitz and translated by Coulson Bell Pitman, 1890.
> read more from Only Funny If ... . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"I slay bugs."  From an 1892 ad for Hammon's Slug-Shot Insecticide & Fertilizer.  [And a better-quality version from 1886.]
[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 pursuit of knowledge under difficulties," from Prison Life in the South During the Years 1864 and 1865 by A. O. Abbott, 1865.
[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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Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)
The question isn't so much "who wrote the book of love" as "who burned it."  From Favourite English Poems and Poets, 1870.
> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"You need not squeeze my hand so," from The Newcomes by William Makepeace Thackeray and illustrated by Chris Hammond, 1898.

"Let me go please," from The Works of G. J. Whyte-Melville, 1898.
[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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Everybody's Doing This Now (permalink)
This is also a precursor to the MGM film Meet Me in St. Louis (1944).  From Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain.
> read more from Everybody's Doing This Now . . .
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February 13, 2015

The Right Word (permalink)
Here's some "peachafication" (though we'd have spelled it with an I: peachification) from the hilarious series Schitt's Creek starring Eugene Levy and Catherine O'Hara.
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Presumptive Conundrums (permalink)
This unusual math problem is from a hilarious book that Jonathan Caws-Elwitt recommended, Three Rousing Cheers for the Rollo Boys by Corey Ford:

"Harry! Tom!"
"Dick! Tom!"
"Tom! Harry!"
"Stop!" cried Dick suspiciously; and, taking out a sheet of white paper, he wrote down: "Harry! Tom!" "Dick! Tom!" and "Tom! Harry!" He then added them together and divided through by Tom.

Can you guess the result?

Answer: "The result is Harry and Dick," he said seriously. "Tom cancels." (The answer is in black text on the black background. Highlight it to view.)
> read more from Presumptive Conundrums . . .
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Precursors (permalink)
Which came first, the world of typewriter art or the, um, art of the typewriter world?  Our illustration of the typewriter world appears as an ad in Rod and Gun, 1891.
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Only Funny If ... (permalink)
It's only funny if everyone is along for the lark.  The caption reads, "Stop that larking."  From Captain Lanagan's Log by F. M. Allen, 1891.
> read more from Only Funny If ... . . .
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Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)
Q: Do I look like I'm made of money?
A: You bet your bottom dollar!

Our illustration appears in American Newspaper Directory, 1891.
> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .
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Do-Re-Midi (permalink)

Some musical notation from Femmes Vengées, Ou Les Feintes Infidelites by François-André Danican Philidor, 1775.

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February 12, 2015

Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to "No means no."  The caption reads, "'Does that mean, No?' Mr. Henley called after him."  From Blind Love by Wilkie Collins and illustrated by A. Forestier, 1890.
> read more from Precursors . . .
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Precursors (permalink)
Yes -- here's a precursor to the Pac-Man ghost surrounded by -- what else? -- pac-dots/pellets, from Histoire de Saint-Chamond by James Jean Pierre Condamin, 1890.
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Precursors (permalink)
We commonly use Latin words, known as Lorem Ipsum, as dummy text, but back in the day, simple chicken scratch sufficed.  Our illustration appears in The Comedies, Histories, Tragedies, and Poems of William Shakspere, 1851.
> read more from Precursors . . .
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This May Surprise You (permalink)
Here's how to properly propose a toast to many happy returns, from Canadian Grocer, July-December 1896.

> read more from This May Surprise You . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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)

From The Phynodderree, and Other Legends of the Isle of Man by Edward Watson Callow, 1882.

> read more from Only Funny If ... . . .
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February 11, 2015

Precursors (permalink)
Dictionary.com traces the expression "to have a monkey on one's back" to 1930s narcotics slang, but we can do ever-so-much better with this illustration from Old and New London by Walter Thornbury, 1873.
> read more from Precursors . . .
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Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
[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)
It's only funny if the black cat laughs, from The Ottowan, 1914.
> read more from Only Funny If ... . . .
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Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Dubourg receives his aunt's pocket-book [and is mortified that his shoes don't match.]  From Dicks' English Library of Standard Works, 1884.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"A Gray Mystery": 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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February 10, 2015

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

We're pleased to offer an Internet first, having painstakingly transcribed a subtitle track for the brilliant absurdist comedy stage show Birdstrike (2000) by the incomparable Harry Hill.  The show is not currently available on DVD (only VHS), and the YouTube upload does not feature accurate subtitles (only very garbled captioning).  If you download the file, play it on your computer via VLC or Plex and put the .srt file in the same folder with the same name as the video file.

Download SRT subtitles for Harry Hill's Birdstrike (2000) »

> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"The American Laocoön," from The Comic History of the United States by John D. Sherwood, 1870.
[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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It Bears Repeating (permalink)
"Universal truth bears repeating."
> read more from It Bears Repeating . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Up Ewig Ungedeelt by Detlev von Liliencron, 1898.
[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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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
"And when the blind and never ceasing rains / Attack all day the castle window-panes," from Dunvegan Castle by Harold Steward Rathbone, 1900.
*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)

[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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Don't Take This the Wrong Way (permalink)
"Don't take this the wrong way but I could eat a truck."

Photo courtesy of Jessica B.
> read more from Don't Take This the Wrong Way . . .
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February 9, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"The mysterious idol killed him," from The Adventures of a Stowaway by Frederick Whishaw, 1897.
[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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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
"In the storm," from The Seat of Empire by Charles Carleton Coffin, 1870.
*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)
"And went on weaving her enchanted web of fairy tissue," from The Bride of Lammermoor by Walter Scott and illustrated by Frederick Pegram, 1898.
[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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A Rose is a ... (permalink)
York RoseA rose may be a rose, but humans resist such finality.
> read more from A Rose is a ... . . .
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This May Surprise You (permalink)
The world is always ending.  Here's what the apocalypse looked like when it occurred in 1833.  From Upper Canada Sketches by Thomas Conant, 1898.
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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
"Combat between the man of the earth and the man of the sea," from Peru: Incidents of Ravel and Exploration in the Land of the Incas by Ephraim George Squire, 1877.
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"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
> read more from This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea . . .
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February 8, 2015

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
If it's true that "it is not we who guide the unfolding of the game of experience; it is experience that leads us; our task is that of corresponding to such continuous opening of truth" (Between Nihilism and Politics, 2010), then we humbly suggest the only way to meet that task is to employ a continuous doorway (as seen in The Southern Planter, 1882).

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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Songs for Little People by Norman Rowland Gale and illustrated by Helen Stratton, 1896.  This should also be of interest: How to Believe in Your Elf.
[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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Precursors (permalink)
♫ In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking; now heaven knows, anything goes. ♪
 

From La Vuelta al Mundo; Viajes Interesantes y Novísimos Por Todos los Países con Grabados Por los Mejores Artistas, 1864.

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Strange Dreams (permalink)
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Here are the essential constituents of Puss-in-Boots.  "Jenny and I put pussy in," from Cranford by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell and illustrated by Henry Matthew Brock, 1898.  This should also be of interest: How to Be Your Own 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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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"The enchanted steed," from The New Hyperion by Edward Strahan, 1875.

[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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February 7, 2015

This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
From Danish Fairy and Folk Tales by Jens Christian Bay, 1899.
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"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
> read more from This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

[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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This May Surprise You (permalink)
Animals have horns "to introduce to an element of strangeness into their lives, a whimsical or irrational joke.  An idée fixe, transgressing the limits of their being, reaching high above their heads and emerging suddenly into light, frozen into matter palpable and hard." —Bruno Schulz, Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"They brought out the rocket apparatus," from "Our New Paving" by G. Manville Fenn, in The Surveyor (January 1807).
[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)
Every beginning is shrounded in a mist — a clue — in the darkness — flashing.  From Proverbial Philosophy by Martin Farquhar Tupper, 1881 (with our own erasures).
* 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 1881 issue of Little Wide Awake 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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February 6, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)

From Der Mensch, die Räthsel und Wunder seiner Natur by W. F. A. Zimmermann, 1864.

[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)
"'Come to the fire without welcome,' said the witch," from The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward George Bulwer and illustrated by Lancelot Speed, 1897.
[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 are prototypes of the novelty Groucho nose-and-glasses disguise, twenty-two years before Groucho's birth, from The 5 Alls by Thomas Hood, 1868.  Why no mustache?  It's to be painted on, naturally!

While we're at it, here's also a prototype of novelty Mickey Mouse ears, from Corea, the Hermit Nation by WIlliam Elliot Graffis, 1897.
> read more from Precursors . . .
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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
"Rollings of a ship upon the waves," from The Earth by Élisée Reclus, 1871
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"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
> read more from This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea . . .
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A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
"We have to tread a fine line between the poet and the poet's word, and between the saying and the said."
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Unconscious that the doom was over them too."  From Dicks' English Library of Standard Works, 1884.
[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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February 5, 2015

Uncharted Territories (permalink)
"A whiteness moved in the whiteness of the fog. ... It was his first introduction to the dread summer berg of the banks."  From Captains Courageous by Rudyard Kipling, 1897.
> read more from Uncharted Territories . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From A Fight for Freedom by Gordon Stables, 1897.
[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)
"I sailed over Will's head in a most supernatural manner," from The Decameron of a Hypnotist by Ernest Richard Suffling, 1898.
[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)
"A Ghost! good gracious!"  This example of "Keep[ing] calm and carry[ing] on" appears in The Works of George John Whyte-Melville, 1898.
[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)
From Poets' Wit and Humour by William Henry Wills, 1882.
[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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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
Sea legs, from America Revisited by George Augustus Henry Fairfield, 1882.
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"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
> read more from This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea . . .
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February 4, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"'I want,' said Miss Callis sweetly, 'to know if you are paid to make faces at the guests of this hotel.'"  From A Voyage of Consolation by Sara Jeannette Duncan, 1898.
[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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It's Really Happening (permalink)
"It's happening over there; it's not happening here.  It's not happening to us—not this time.  It's happening to them."
—David Franklyn, Beyond the Scars, 2014
> read more from It's Really Happening . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Der Orchideengarten magazine, 1920.

[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)
From Ballads of the Bench and Bar; or, Idle Lays of the Parliament House, edited by James Balfour Paul, 1882.
[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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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
From Southerly Busters by Ironbark, 1878.
*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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The Right Word (permalink)
An illustration from Cranford by Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell (1898).  The caption reads: "It was too big for words."
> read more from The Right Word . . .
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February 3, 2015

This May Surprise You (permalink)

"Do you know, sir, that most of the people you see in the street are dead?"  From La Belle Captive, 1983, directed by Alain Robbe-Grillet.


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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)

"And then there came a blinding flash," from Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, 1898.

*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)
"Puts his hand on his bald head again, under this new verbal shower-bath."  From The Works of Charles Dickens, Household Edition.
[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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Everybody's Doing This Now (permalink)
> read more from Everybody's Doing This Now . . .
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February 2, 2015

This May Surprise You (permalink)

Separated at birth: Concrete pottery and concrete poetry.


Concrete PotteryConcrete Poetry
formed by handxx
the visual element is importantxx
exhibited in 1956xx
some were designed as decoration for religious artworksxx
some are in the shapes of their subjectsxx
can be decorated before or after firingxx
developed once humans achieved a sedentary lifexx
can provide an insight into past culturesxx
essential for dating non-literate culturesx

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Yesterday's Weather (permalink)
From A Chronicle of England B.C. 55-A.D. 1485, written and illustrated by James E. Doyle, 1864.
*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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Ampersands (permalink)

Ampersand pipe via David Sanden.
"An ampersand, that convoluted piece of plumber's piping." —Joseph Skibell, A Curable Romantic
* A manual for typographers published in 1917 acknowledged that there are many beautiful forms of the ampersand, yet it forbade their use in "ordinary book work."  Extraordinary books are another matter.  Our lavishly illustrated Ampersand opus explores the history and pictography of the most common coordinating conjunction.
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Scrambles Amongst the Alps in the Years 1860-69 by Edward Whymper, 1871.
[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)

From Holiday Leaflets Illustrated by Charles Eyre Pascoe, 1898.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .
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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
"Out of the depths," from Queen Mary's Psalter, British Museum.
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"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
> read more from This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea . . .
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February 1, 2015

Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Here's a cat ignoring the presence of an otherworldly spirit, from The Student and Schoolmate, 1872.  This should also be of interest: How to Believe in Your Elf.
[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)
"He never looked behind him: he knew what was there—death in the shape of a man!"  From Montezuma's Daughter by Henry Rider Haggard, 1896.
[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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This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea (permalink)
"Which way?"  From Canoe Travelling by Warington Baden Powell, 1871.
   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(   ,(
`-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `-' `
"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
> read more from This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea . . .
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
"Before me stood the figure of a monk," from The Decameron of a Hypnotist by Ernest Richard Suffling, 1898.
[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)
"Dining under difficulties," from Sunshine and Storm in the East by Annie Brassey, 1881.
[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 The Comic History of Rome by Gilbert Abbott a'Beckett, illustrated by John Leech (1897).  The caption reads: "Romulus consulting the Augury."
[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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Original Content Copyright © 2017 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.