An Interesting Advertisement for a Printing Press (Which Also Inspired a Parody)

Hoe Double Octuple Newspaper Press — 1903 Model The July 1911 issue of Munsey’s Magazine ran an advertisement for a printing press by R. Hoe & Co., a printing press manufacturer. Instead of writing a usual product spiel, the company opted to turn the ad into a creative writing exercise: I am the printing press, […]

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Less Is More: A Poetic Paradox

Image: NASA In his Paradoxes in Probability Theory and Mathematical Statistics (1986), Gábor J. Székely shared a paradox learned from his professor, Alfréd Rényi: Since I started to deal with information theory I have often meditated upon the conciseness of poems; how can a single line of verse contain far more ‘information’ than a highly […]

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Gleanings from the Past #79

Understanding Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy ready-made things in the shops. But since there are no shops where you can buy friends, men no longer have any friends. ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943 What Is a Mirror? Then the cow asked: “What is a mirror?” “It is […]

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Chaos in English Pronunciation and Spelling

Dutch writer, poet, traveler, and teacher Gerard Nolst Trenité (1870 – 1946) wrote a remarkable poem aptly titled “The Chaos”. The poem demonstrates several of the most famous (and infamous) irregularities in English spelling and pronunciation.  Trenité managed to collect about 800 of those irregularities and versified them into this chaotic, albeit amusing poem. “The Chaos” […]

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The Sunken City

Image: DeviantArt The following poem is written by German poet Wilhelm Mueller (1794 – 1827) and translated to English by James Clarence Mangan (1803 – 1849): Hark! the faint bells of the sunken city Peal once more their wonted evening chime! From the deep abysses floats a ditty, Wild and wondrous, of the olden time. […]

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Some of the Best Lame Analogies

A few days ago, I published a collection of strange lines from serious fiction manuscripts. This made me recalled that the Washington Post, in its Week 310 of “The Style Invitational”, ran a contest in which the participants were tasked to come up with the lamest analogy that they can. The entries were published on March […]

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Some Strange Lines from Serious Fiction Manuscripts

In 1981, a well-known editor based in New York, who wished to remain anonymous, sent several excerpts from unsolicited manuscripts of supposedly serious fiction he received to the National Lampoon. They were published in the section called “From the Slush Pile”: “Pardon?” she asked in a tone that made me want to wash my hands. […]

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Verses Written on the Seashore at Agrigentum in Sicily, 1784: A Polish Poem

I found the following interesting and whimsical verse written by a Polish poet named Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz (1758 – 1841): Upon this lonely margin of a far-off sea, Behold! With tears I trace thy well-beloved name; With it, the dawn comes, crown’d with roses, back to me, But wild waves wash the record out, erase […]

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Mark Twain’s Complaint Letters

The following is a letter written by Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) to Hartford City Gas Light Co.: Gentlemen, There are but two places in our whole street where lights could be of any value, by any accident, and you have measured and appointed your intervals so ingenious as to leave each of those places in […]

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