Never again

May 11, 2013

This is not a post about my blogging frequency. Doug Nufer wrote such-titled book, it seems to be write-only literature. Alas, Wikipedia lacks articles on author or work (challenging you and me, perhaps). Every word occurs at most once. Doug’s cleverness finds tricks allowing storytelling despite constraint. Difficult reading, little pleasure, but admirable oulipianity.


April 18, 2010

I love anagrams. (“Kamikaze Truths” is, of course, an anagram). My newest acquisition in this direction is Sonnagrams 1-20 by the American poet K. Silem Mohammad (check out his blog).
I am especially happy that my copy arrived before volcanic dust clouds disrupted all transatlantic mail service.
Sonnagrams is a collection of anagrams of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The anagrams are (of course) perfectly rule-compliant sonnets themselves (in scansion and rhyme scheme). The titles are sometimes a bit strange, but that is probably because they are formed out of whatever letters were left after the composition of the poem (as the note at the end of the chapbook explains), but this does not lessen the impressiveness of the project. To give a glimpse of what to expect if you buy this, the anagram of Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day? has the following first stanza about the process of writing:

Shallow, mascara-hustling cameraman,
Does your tyrannosaurus masturbate?
(As long as I can get this bitch to scan,
I don’t care what it says—I’m running late.)

Inspired by these poems, I immediately ran off to the Internet Anagram Server and made anagrams of my blog’s subtitle (“Apparently a blog about words”). Here are some results:

Buy robot propaganda wallets!
Gay parents allow proud abbot.
Upload a probably wrong state.


April 2, 2010

This post is about buying and palindromes; the title, “Marktkram” is a German palindrome meaning “market stuff”. I found it at this German palindrome blog, along with many other palindromes and palindromic concepts in everyday life.

Last week I became aware of the existence of Oubapo (Wikipedia; the French Wikipédia has a much better article), the Ouvroir de Bande dessinée Potentielle, or Workshop for Potential Comics. I was immediately excited, as this combines my recent interest in the constrained art of Oulipo with my love for French and Belgian bandes dessinées. I was even more excited when I saw that the great François Schuiten has drawn a palindromic book: Nogegon (review). Unfortunately it is out of print. However, Casterman seems to reissue the whole series (Vol. I was republished two weeks ago), so I hope to own it one day.

Another palindrome that I want to buy is 2002 (great publisher, by the way; the only reason I haven’t bought the book yet is that I can’t decide what else to order). As an appetizer, here’s the last sentence: “One year enamored is aero-LSD named 2002”.

To finish today’s post, here is a nice song with many palindromes: I Palindrome I by They Might Be Giants.


March 31, 2010

What is the shortest word containing all five vowels? In French, it seems to be “oiseau”. In English, the shortest is the somewhat more artifical Greek loanword eunoia. In German, the shortest non-compound I know is imported and still sounds French: “Jalousie”. The German language allows for words to form compounds; this gives the 8-letter words “Autodieb”, “Biobauer” and “Alufolie”. Shorter is the less common “Eisauto”; words that do not seem to be in use (yet!) are “Autoei” and “Bioaue”. It seems difficult to come up with a rule that produces a natural-sounding German result; certainly, no 6-letter words that is as beautiful as “oiseau” seems to exist. Perhaps it is time to start campaigning for a more widespread use of “Bioaue” to remedy this. Or we could start saying “Adieuo” for “bye”.

What, I wonder, is the shortest phrase in Chinese that contains all 214 Kangxi radicals?

Lipogrammatic blogs

March 28, 2010

Lipograms can show an artistic way to transmit thoughts. Not only blogs can carry lipograms, but you should visit a lipogrammatic blog today: Try this or that.

Monovocalic lipograms show much satisfying and abundant art. Lyrical words from Frankfurt, Munich or Stuttgart (I don’t know): annas katamaran.

Lulus Hund

March 27, 2010

Eines meiner Lieblingsgedichte ist ja ottos mops von Ernst Jandl. Hier ist ein Versuch eines Parallelgedichts auf U:

Lulus Hund
Lulus Hund knurrt
Lulu: hupf Hund hupf
Lulus Hund hupft rum
Lulu: huhu

Lulu sucht Mus
Lulu sucht Wurst
Lulu ruft
Lulu: Hund! Hund!
Lulu kuckt

Lulus Hund murrt
Lulu: kusch Hund kusch
Lulus Hund kuscht
Lulus Hund furzt
Lulu: ujujujuj

Hier ist eine englische Version (die auf dem Laut u, nicht auf dem Buchstaben u beruht): Lulu’s Pooch.

Und hier ist das Original zum Anhören und Freuen:


March 19, 2010

Inspired by Buffalo buffalo buffalo, I tried to construct something similar using homographs that are not homophones. I like how in German, “Kreischen” can be read “Kreis|chen”, little circle, or “krei|schen”, scream. There’s all kinds of silly sentences you can create from this, usually about little circles who scream “little circles scream ‘little circles'” in as many levels of quoting as you like. Here’s a somewhat longer text using also “kreisen”, to circle, and “kreißen”, to be in labor, about little circles who are not happy about little circles giving birth to (even smaller?) little circles.


Kreise kreisen.
Kreise kreißen.
Kreise kreischen.
Kreise kreißen Kreischen.
Kreischen kreisen.
Kreischen kreischen.
Kreißen Kreischen?
Kreischen kreischen “Kreischen kreißen Kreischen”