What the Music You Listen to Says About You
Even the Volume Speaks Volumes

The Emperor’s New Fabric of Space
Dark Matter Is Everywhere Though Nobody Has Ever Gotten Their Hands on Any

Headlines Torn from the Pages of History (and Thrown Away)
Things That Didn’t Happen in 2015

USA No Way
Fake But Accurate News

Compare & Save Big-Time
Are You Paying Exaggerated Prices for Exaggerated Differences?

How Not to Be Taken for a Ride on the Bus
Our Mass Transit Primer

Win Any Argument
Using Paralogic and Surreason

Quick and Easy Housekeeping
Or Sisyphus Unbound and Unkempt

Connecting the Dots
Uncharted Waters Charted

Periodic Table of Hollywood Plot Elements
Lights, Camera, Reaction!

How ESP Works
Mind Reading Diagramed and Explained

Mysteries of UFOs Revealed
They’re Here, They Are, They Are, They Are

Economic Jargon, Lingo, and Gobbledegook Deciphered
Your Guide to Money Mutterings

American History 101 2.0
The Fake But Accurate Story

A Shorter History of Everything and Nothing

Government Machinery at Work
How the Wheels of the Bureaucracy Grind

Star Dreck
Musings of a Semi Hemi Demi Trekker

Those Darn Cats
Our Deal With the Devils



The kind of thing you might have seen in Cracked magazine but didn’t

Gag Cartoon Gallery
Jokes Without a Lot of Reading

E-Z P-Z House Selling
Redirect, Repackage, Relabel

Airline Travel Made Stupid
Everthing You Never Wanted to Know About Air Travel

Winless Wear
2008 Detroit Lions Merchandise

Mythical Monsters & Covert Creatures
From the Silly File


The B-B-Q Pyramid  For the Cooking Unimpaired

Mythic Snowmen  And More Snowmen

Venn Again, Again  More of the Same, But Different

Venn Again, Maybe Not  Another Last Laugh

Quick and Easy Meals  For the Cooking Impaired


Baseball Stadia for the ’90s

Bizarre Business Cards We Hope We Never See

Complete Guide to Piercing

CRACKED's Plan to Balance the Federal Budget in ONE Year

The Future Ain’t What it Used to Be

History’s Least Successful Proto Humans

Just Plane Stupid

Landmark Remodeling

Personalized Remotes

Police Line-ups Around the World (and Beyond)

Roller Coaster Mania

Tanks, But No Tanks

Trojan Horse Designs That Didn’t Quite Make it

Umpire Outfitters Catalog

Ye Olde Transport Catalogue


Suck School of Comic Art –Graduate Course
How to Draw Funnier

Suck School of Comic Art
How to Draw Funny

Crash Course
Cartoon Motorcycle Accidents Versus Cartoonist Motorcycle Accidents



Great War Bloopers and Tactical Jokes
Tommy Foolery, Fritz Flops, Pierre-Balls, Atta-Turkeys and Igor-Blymies

Discovery of the Element of Surprise
Pathétic News Presents

Middle-Aged Mundane Made Over to Modern
A Video Guide

Animated Optical Illusions
Webio-Bot Gets Taken for a Ride

Webio-Bot Meets the Internet
Getting Into the Net With the Web-a-Tron 9000


Pirate Treasure Hunt  Pointless Game

Straight Out  Pointless Animation

Talking Hed  Goes on about Pointless Animation

Circling the Globe  With Pointless Animation

Clockwork Bot Works  Gearing up Some Pointless Animation

Newton’s Cradle  Pointless Animation


Play Webio-Bot Maze
A Lab Rat Game, Only With Your Mouse

Just What Kind of a Person Are You Anyway?
Take the Personality Test and Discover the True You

Happy Suckiversary
Play Art Director

Goodbye, Earthlings

Find the Elusiver, Mysteriouser Creatures
Another Search Game

Consult the Mystic 8 Ball
Ultimate Mystic Service Answers Any Yes-or-No Question

Play Whack-a-Bot
Quick, Get ‘Em!

Play Webio-Bot Rescue
A Game Where You're the Hero

Play Webio-Bot Invaders
Save the Planet

Tricky Geography Trick Quiz
How Well Do You Know the Map and Our Deviousness?

Find the Secret Message
A different Kind of Word Search

Hollywhat? Movie Trivia Challenge
A Movie Trivia Quiz of the Funny, the Obscure, and the Strange

I Will Read Your Mind Online
With Internetelepathy

Do you Know Your Chances?
Challenge Your Grasp of Statistics and Probability

Name That Nym Quiz
Some Fun With Words



Introduction to Flight in One Easy Lesson
Understanding How Planes Can Fly Without All the Messy Details

How Planes Can Fly
The Correct Explanation of Lift for Non-Engineers

Bad Lift Demonstrations Corrected
Putting Bernoulli and Coandă in Their Proper Place

The Trouble With Airflow Diagrams
Misleading and Incomplete Information


Counter-Steering Made Easy-Peasy
Balancing a Bike by Turning

Notes for Young Illustrators
Learn from My Experience, or Get Your Own

Folk Etymology Folks Invent From Whole Cloth
False and True Origins of Common Phrases

We Can’t Score the Easy Life Because We Moved the Goalposts
Why Being Middle Class Was Easier Fifty Years Ago

What Fabric Is The Fabric of Space Made Of?
Space Warps, Time Wefts and Bent Reality

Money Mistakes in Theory and in Practice
Bad Advice and Bad Ideas You May Have Encountered

Changes that Changed Everything
The 10 Greatest Inventions of All Time?

Better Than Sliced Bread
Uncelebrated Inventions Great and Small

The Story of Honey
The Processed Food Processed by Bees

Bikes Don’t Turn By Leaning
Proving Cones and Gyroscopes Are Futile

How I Nearly Ran Myself Over With My First Car
My Motoring Misadventure With a Jerry-rigged Jalopy

Optical Illusions You Often Run Into
Don’t Worry, They Don’t Hurt












Spiral Vision


mouseover buttons to change speed

You didn’t suppose we’d let go of this spinning business without tossing in some spirals, did you? Like they say, persistence is a virtue. Anyway, we love spirals. Spirals are funny. Sort of. Sometimes. Not so much here but in eyeballs they’re a laugh riot. Sort of.

A lot of this is more of the same, you can see what you see and make of it what you will. Notice, though, how the little outer straight line seems to get longer and narrower the faster it goes. Next, after watching the thing spin for a while, then going directly to “Stop” it doesn’t stop. That is, it seems to be shrinking or moving slightly. Of course it isn’t, but it looks like it. Sort of.

Filed under Odds & Ends 3/30/17

Persistence of Rotary Visions


mouseover buttons to change speed

What, another one? The terry colon dot com reader might well wonder if we’ve gone completely round and round the bend at this point. If we have, would we know it ourselves? Whatever the case, there is a method to our madness. If it be madness.

This time we forego the goofy distractions in the disc, no ovals, bots, weird flower-like eyeballs and whatnot. Nothing but concentric circles all with exactly the same weight and style of dotted line. As you can see at “Stop.” So, even though every circle is rotating at the same rate, each has a different speed. The dashes of the outer circle cover a lot more ground per rotation than the inner circle dashes. They move progressively faster from the center circle outward. This is easily seen at the default speed.

Without the distractions you can tell one other thing. The persistence of vision thing is not only a possible effect of the screen display, it’s also how you see naturally. Your eyes scan quickly and repeatedly just like a camera. Here’s how you can show it to yourself. If you focus on the outer circle without moving your eyes you perceive a lot of short, blurry, purple dashes rotating slowly clockwise. If you follow the white dash around with your eyes you see what they really are: longer, more distinct dashes.

On the other hand, at the “Fastest” speed the green dashes just sit there and the yellow circle can be followed around with your eyes counter clockwise even though the disc is rotating clockwise like mad. Is that a result of the screen display or your own eyes? We don’t know. It is curious though, eh?

Filed under Odds & Ends 3/29/17

Rotary Aqua-Botics


mouseover buttons to change speed

We readily admit we did this rotary persistence of vision thing yesterday. Chalk it up to our persistence of pointless animation. All the same, notice how the Aqua-Bot starts to bend into the flow the faster it swims. Or circles the drain, or whatever. At top speed it gets squashed into a bug-like thing. Maybe it’s our lying eyes fooling us, but it seems to swim in a tighter circle at the fastest speed, too.

Goofy? Maybe so. We’re having fun anyway. As the man said, or sang in fact, “You can’t please everyone so you got to please yourself.” Or it could have been, “…you’ve got to…” Hard to tell with singing. There’s a word for that, but we’ll save that for another day in another department.

Filed under Odds & Ends 3/28/17

Rotary Persistence of Vision


mouseover buttons to change speed

Here’s our little experiment on how to get seemingly complex motion from spinning one object. And different motions at different speeds. You might even perceive some slight color shift. All because of what they call persistence of vision. Which you might also call the wagon wheel effect. It all boils down to how we see motion as a series of still pictures running past rapidly in sequence. Rather than trying to explain what that entails, here’s a link. Less work for us.

Persistence of Vision

Filed under Odds & Ends 3/27/17

Another Movie Poster Via the Wayback Machine


Another old art spot from Fortean Times of 1997, an imaginary poster for an imaginary film that’s a combination horse and space opera. Though why opera when nobody sings in them? Who knows? Still, the outer space theme goes with the opening pointless animation splash page. Or does (did) depending on when you’re reading this because our splash pages have a habit of disappearing in short order.

All the same, don’t ask what this art spot was about, it ran twenty years ago. Also, don’t ask us how the moon got out to Mars. Nor why the alien is wearing a sombrero. These are questions we have no ready answer for. That’s just the way science fiction is. You start to question things and you get sidetracked into ideas that don’t really matter.

Like, why do you need to swing a light saber? Couldn’t you just point it and turn it on for a thrust at the speed of light? And couldn’t a light saber be 100 feet long? After all, being made of light it wouldn’t weigh much, would it? With a 100 foot saber you could wipe out an entire platoon with a single swing. Maybe. All the same, it’s not really a saber, it has a straight blade and no hand guard. It’s more like a really long, glowing switchblade.

To ponder more sci-fi imponderables, when people transport in Star Trek, are the disassembled bits temporarily dead during transport and brought back to life upon reconstitution? Could you store transporter reassembly information and transport yourself younger? In other words, revert to saved?

Despite our questions, sci-fi still makes more sense than opera. After all, who going through the trials and tribulations of life suddenly bursts out into song about it?

Filed under Snippets from the Art Archives 3/25/17


“No doubt about it, Harry. It’s the first sign of spring.”

Filed under Gag Cartoon Gallery 3/23/17

Ah-h-h, Spring Springs

Infrequently Answered Question #112: How did they know when spring began before they had clocks to tell the days were starting to be longer than the nights?

A: Oh, who cares? Maybe they watched the sunrise over a rock or used a triangle with notches or something. We don’t live in the past so we don’t have to worry about how they did a lot of the things they used to do. All that matters to us is spring is in the air. Perhaps it’s seeping into the ground and lakes, too. As long as a fair share comes our way we’ll not bother triangulating its precise location.

Once Mother Nature stops dithering around with the snowy cold, brushes off the overcast and gets into the full swing of spring it will probably mean fewer daily entries as the Terry Colon dot Com Gardening and Squirrel Cursing League starts in earnest. The Terry Colon dot Com Barbecue and Porch Lounging season kicks off shortly thereafter. Followed closely by the Terry Colon dot Com Scooter Touring and Flea Market Finders Club schedule of events. Not terribly ambitious or exciting by most standards, but it gets us out of the house. Good enough.

Filed under Infrequently Answered Questions 3/22/17

Poster for the Movie You’ve Never Seen Though You Have


Doesn’t it seem like every movie is a remake? Or a sequel. Or a retelling of the same old story in a different time and place. Or, as in the case of the art you see, a rerun. From Fortean Times of 1997.

In a way, every story is a disaster story of sorts. Sometimes a small disaster looms, other times the end of the world as we know it is in the cards unless the protagonist averts it. If it’s a comedy they succeed. Which is the oldest meaning of comedy, a happy ending. If they fail it’s a tragedy. One or the other. That’s what the old Greek comedy and tragedy masks for the theater are all about.

Anyway, if there were no trouble brewing there’s really not much of a story to engage people. Why bother watching things happen that make no difference one way or another? So, while they say there are only seven basic plots, (or whatever the number is) maybe there’s really only one. Disaster looms and they escape or they don’t. Fin.

Filed under Snippets from the Art Archives 3/21/17

Those Magnificent Men and Their If-Only-Magnificent Flying Machines –Jet and Flying Wing


We close our Flight Week Extravaganza with what might have been magnificent flying machines. Early jets and flying wings. After all, what is more sleek and futuristic than the B-2 Stealth Bomber, a jet-powered flying wing?

The first jet, or proto jet, appeared much sooner than most might imagine. That was the Coandă 1910 we mentioned about ten years ago. Along the same lines the origins of the flying wing goes way, way back, too. The very first flying wing was a biplane built and flown in 1910 by Englishman John William Dunne. It was also likely the first variable aspect swept wing plane to go airborne.

J.W. Dunne’s Flying Wings
The First Jet –Coandă 1910

Coandă’s jet, what he called an air reaction engine, failed because they didn’t yet have the technology to construct engines that could withstand the high heat it produced in operation. Why they didn’t pursue developing Dunne’s flying wing is not really clear. We guess some ideas are simply too far ahead of their time.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 3/17/17

Those Magnificent Men in Their Not-so-Magnificent Flying Machines –Part Five


It looked like a small plane with its fuselage over-inflated with air, like a winged pufferfish. It was the Stipa-Caproni “intubed propeller” airplane of 1923. Also called, for obvious reasons once you see it, the Flying Barrel. Still, it wasn’t as crazy as it seemed, though it certainly looked the part.

The Stipa-Caproni was built to test a propulsion concept and not to develop its very peculiar airframe. The entire machine was a really big tube with a propellor inside and some airplane bits attached so it would fly. After a fashion. It could take off and cruise quite stably at low speeds. In fact, too stably as it was hard to turn. See and find out all about it here:

The Flying Barrel

The more we look at it the more we’re convinced it was something bought by Wile E. Coyote from Acme Industries. Only in real life, not a cartoon.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 3/16/17

Those Magnificent Men in Their Not-so-Magnificent Flying Machines –Part Four


Now for a change of pace. Not every plane with peculiar wing arrangements, or non-wings, was utterly nutterly. Some flew fine, but were deemed unnecessary. It’s like, you could build a working Rube Goldberg mousetrap, but why bother? Three examples: the Flying Flapjack, spinning wings, and the Custer Channelwing.

The Flying Flapjack’s entire airframe was a lifting body, something like a flying wing only shaped more like a pancake than a boomerang. Spinning wings came in various configurations (drums, paddles, tapered thingies) and rotated like mad on horizontal axes sticking out the sides or in front or sometimes over the pilot’s head. The channelwing’s engines drove air over a round trough which… we don’t know how the thing worked. Go to the links to see and learn all about them.

Chance Vought Flying Flapjack
Magnus-Robbins Effect Spinning Wings
Custer Channelwing

We imagine the big problem with both the spinning wings and channelwing is since they rely on their engines to create lift if there’s an engine cut-out the plane would drop like a rock. Turning an ugly duck into a literal blot on the landscape.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 3/15/17

Those Magnificent Men in Their Not-so-Magnificent Flying Machines –Part Three

By middle of the Great War standard airplane design was pretty well worked out. Wings, not tetrahedral cells, were the way to go. Limiting the number to less than you could count without taking your shoes off became standard practice. Wing warping also went by the board. Tails were at the tail and wings were up front, rigid and well braced. Well, most of the time.

Enter Dr. William Christmas, aviation innovator and either charlatan or crackpot. He built the Christmas Bullet, a plane with flexing wings to flap in the air like a bird. Not a controlled flapping, mind you, its wings had no struts or bracing and weren’t very rigid. They flapped from turbulence. Here’s the story:

The Dr. Christmas Bullet

A long story short, two planes, two flights, two crashes, two dead test pilots. Pretty dreadful, if not homicidal. The doc also had a plan to fly to Germany and kidnap Kaiser Wilhelm to end the war. Con-man or madman? Who knows? The most amazing part of the story, he billed the U.S. government $100,000 for this utterly miserable contrivance. And the Feds paid him!

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 3/14/17

Those Magnificent Men in Their Not-so-Magnificent Flying Machines –Part Two


As we saw in Part One, tetrahedral cells were not such a great alternative to wings to get a flying machine off the ground. Planes with actual wings, monoplanes, biplanes, triplanes, on the other hand, all worked admirably. How about a plane with a hundred wings? Fifty times as good as a biplane, right?

At least that seemed to be the thinking of intrepid London-born aircraft pioneer Horatio Phillips. His obsession with more is more took on ludicrous proportions. His 1907 two hundred wing multiplane (that’s right, 200 wings) looked like a crate made out of venetian blinds. Thing was, it worked. Barely. He used it for the first, though very short, powered flight in England. At least he limited his contraptions to a single engine, so we’ll give him that.

Horatio Phillips & Multiplanes

Despite how absurd these multiplanes appear today, Mr. Phillips wasn’t a completely round the bend eccentric. In fact, he helped pioneer proper airfoil design, though seemingly at the expense of everything else that would make flying practical. Such as his novel circular runways. We can only guess that was so everyone could have an airport in their backyard.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 3/13/17

Those Magnificent Men in Their Not-so-Magnificent Flying Machines –Part One


A lot of early airplanes and would-be flying machines look pretty goofy to modern eyes. What in blazes were they thinking, we wonder. Of course, these days we know what a working plane should look like, back then they didn’t. Two wings? Four wings? Ten wings? Tail in the front or back? Or front and back? What everyone did agree on was a plane needed wings to fly. Well, almost everybody.

Alexander Graham Bell had other ideas. Instead of wings like a bird, he’d use what worked for a certain kind of box kite. Tetrahedral cells. Hundreds of them in a ginormous triangular rack. Rather than describe what that is or how it was supposed to work, we suggest you go to the link where they show and tell all:

Alexander Graham Bell tries his hand at aircraft design

Needless to say it worked out badly. Which at least saved us from having the airways run by the phone company.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 3/10/17

Not to Worry, It’s Protected by an Imaginary Box

Man, is it windy out there around here. Well, yesterday. 50-70 mph gusts. That’s getting up towards hurricane speeds. Category 1 hurricane winds start at 74mph. (Why 74 and not 75, I wonder.)

The reader might be wondering why I’m subjecting them to talking about the weather, of all things. Egads! Well, how else to explain the mime bot walking against the wind? Pointless, yes. That’s par for the course hereabouts. Though now you know the inspiration for it. Which falls into the category of news you can’t use. Sort-of the terry colon dot com motto.

Filed under Odds & Ends 3/9/17

More Wordplay Words


Humor is a funny thing. That’s some pretty silly wordplay, but I have to start somewhere. Yet it illustrates how switching between a literal and figurative meaning can be (possibly) amusing. You think it says one thing, but it says another instead. That’s how a syllepsis works. Or you might switch between a noun and verb meaning of a word. But enough of dubious dissection, let’s get to it.

aptronym: A name that is perfectly suited to its owner.

Here’s a real one from my hometown, an optometrist by the name of Ivan Doctor. That’s right, Dr. I. Doctor, eye doctor.

paraprosdokian: A sentence or phrase that ends in an unexpected way.

Pretty much a oneliner. For instance, “Hospitality is making your guests feel at home, even when you wish they were.” Or, “As cooks go she can’t.”

Tom Swifty: A made-up quote followed by an adverbial pun.

“I think the lobotomy went well,” said Bob absentmindedly. “Oops. I just stabbed myself,” Jim said pointedly. That’s all there is, he wrote finally.

Filed under Words, Phrases, Sayings & Quotes 3/8/17

I Came, I Saw, I Couldn’t Believe My Eyes


Likely you know Julius Caesar’s famous line, “Veni. Vidi. Vici.” I came. I saw. I conquered. If you spoke Latin the way he spoke it, that’s, “Wenny. Weedy. Weekie.” Sounds kinda wimpy, but that’s how they talked. On the other hand the Pope would say, “Venny. Veedy. Veechie.” as that’s how ecclesiastical Latin is spoken.

We don’t imagine the Bishop of Rome would have occasion to speak the line as he doesn’t have much of an army these days. The Swiss Guard aren’t very likely to conquer anyone with their pikes. Or Swiss army knives, either. Still, a wargame scrimmage between Swiss pikemen and, say, Beefeaters might be interesting. Wonder if re-enactors or LARPers ever try that scenario? Bet they would if you tossed in Samurai. Or Vikings. Every battle is better with Samurai and Vikings. Or pirates. But we’re done with that.

Speaking of Samurai and Vikings, while we all know Vikings didn’t sport horned helmets, some Samurai did. Sometimes absurdly gigantic horns. But not for battle, on ceremonial parade and suchlike. Some of these helmets and armor were pretty outlandish, more art than armor really. Feast your eyes and maybe be amazed:

Samurai Bling from Medieval Japan
Wonderfully Strange Samurai Helmets

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 3/7/17

Coming Up Soon


It’s a bird. It’s a plane. No, it’s pointless animation. It’s a gag. It’s a pun. No, not a pun exactly. Maybe a syllepsis, where a word or phrase can have both a literal and a figurative meaning. Whatever it is it’s a rerun of old art, only animated this time around. Call it the art director’s cut. Yeah, that’s the ticket. A way to milk a little more mileage out of old work.

Filed under Snippets from the Art Archives 3/6/17

It’s Times Times Times Time


Infrequently Answered Question #111: Robby ran around the track two times. Bob ran around the track three times more than Robby. How many times did Bob run around the track?

A: Ah, a puzzler. Or is it a riddler? A stumper? Whatever it is, we ask the reader to answer the question themselves first, and then proceed… pause…

The answer is six. No wait, five. Or six. Maybe both. It’s another quiz you can’t get wrong. Or, to be devious, you can’t get right. The answer depends on what “three times more” means. Is that three times as many as two, six, or is it three times (instances) more than two times (instances), five? The language isn’t clear if we’re supposed to multiply or add. Times can mean how many multiples or how many instances.

Then again, Robby and Bob are both diminutives of Robert. So maybe it’s the same person who outdistanced himself by running the track seven times. Or eight times. Or, if Robert is a quantum particle, both seven and eight. Whatever. There is no right answer.

Or is there? The first sentence, “Robby ran around the track two times” establishes that times means laps, instances. To be consistent “Bob ran around the track three times more” must mean three laps more. Ergo, the correct answer is five. QED.

Filed under Infrequently Answered Questions 3/3/17

It’s February 30th


Why don’t we restore all thirty days to February? Do we need a Roman Emperor to do it? They’re all dead and gone, we can nullify their edicts if we want, can’t we? Let’s do it. Take the days back from July and August and even out the months better.

Let’s go even further. Make every month thirty days. Take the extra five days and put them between June and July. Call it Midyear. A five day break for everyone. A six day break during leap year. It would balance the week-long Christmas to New Year break at the end of the year. And who doesn’t want a week off during summer? Don’t like it? Just be glad there’s no Terrius Caesar or you’d just have to lump it.

And here you thought it was only the animation that was pointless.

Filed under Odds & Ends 2/30/17

Rebus Redux


Can you decipher the rebus? If not, perhaps it’s a poor rebus. Constructing a rebus is no easy task for many things. Have you ever played Pictionary? There you go. Of course, there is a time limit to Pictionary so there’s added pressure. Though there is some feedback amongst the players which helps.

Thing about a rebus, it’s easy to depict nouns, hard to depict verbs, adjectives, adverbs, anything that’s not a noun, really. That’s why rebuses tend to make non-nouns out of pictures of nouns. It helps that some words are both nouns and verbs. Can, fly, cook. Also that some nouns are adjectives. Orange, giant. And some nouns are homonyms of verbs. Cell-sell, pier-peer. Then again, some nouns aren’t easy to depict at all because they aren’t tangible things. Dream, summer, odor.

A game that’s sort-of like a rebus is charades. Only instead of drawing pictures of words or syllables you act them out. This makes depicting verbs easier, though nouns get harder. For instance it’s fairly easy to draw, say, a crib, how do you act out a crib? On the other hand it’s easy to act out lost, try drawing it. Without using a question mark.

This all hits home for me because I’m an illustrator. OK, I don’t do rebuses, but it’s somewhat along the same lines. I come up with images to depict what a story is about. Visual analogies, you might say. Believe me, some are easier to do than others for the very reasons outlined above. Stories aren’t always about some object, but some process, something happening or not happening. How on Earth does an editor expect me to draw things not happening?

Oh-oh, I seem to be slipping into a rant. Let’s back off and head elsewhere. Another thing that might be like a rebus, though I don’t know enough about it to say, is a pictographic script. Like Egyptian hieroglyphs. Or maybe Mayan. Chinese? Kanji? I really don’t know, but I wonder if those Egyptian cartouches aren’t very much like a rebus.

We return to the beginning, the opening rebus. I admit it’s perhaps not the most easily solved you’ll run across. For some of the reasons already mentioned. What it’s supposed to be is, tear E, (:) colon, dot, (comb-B) com, (B+log) blog. That’s it, blog.

Filed under Words, Phrases, Sayings & Quotes 3/1/17

Your Web-Wide Home For Pointless Animation

Ohead Obody
Gbody Goval Gfoot Gfoot
Ybody Ybody Ytrack
Wbody Wspiral Weyes
Rbody Rfeet
Pbody Pleg Pleg
Kbody Keye1 Keye2 Kpad Kpad Kpad Kpad Kpad Kpad
Bbody Barm Barm

As they say, what you see is what you see. And what you get is all we got.

Filed under Odds & Ends 2/28/17

The Eponymous State Name Game


We’re going to do something a little different for this time out. Since there’s going to be multiple answers, which might be tricky to keep track of and store in short-term memory, we’ve provided spaces for you to jot down your answers. The boxes can be expanded as needed. Afterward you can compare your wild guesses to the correct answers.

Sorry, we don’t have the tech savvy to check it for you like trivia quiz sites do, you’ll have to go old school and score it yourself.

Which seven states were named after kings or queens? One point for each correct answer.

Before moving on, who were the kings or queens these seven states were named after? Be sure to include any Roman numeral. There were eight Henrys and a slew of Edwards for instance. One point for each correct answer.

Mouseover for answers

Georgia: King George II
Louisiana: King Louis XIV
Maryland: Queen Henrietta Maria of France
North and South Carolina: King Charles II [Latin for Charles, Carolas]
Virginia and West Virginia: Queen Elizabeth I, the “Virgin Queen.”

Which three states were named after famous persons who weren’t kings or queens? Score one point for each correct answer.

As before, who were the three famous people they were named after? Score one point for each correct answer.

Mouseover for answers

Delaware: Thomas West, Third Baron De La Warr
Pennsylvania: William Penn
Washington: George Washington
(Score a point for getting Lord De La Warr. Knowing Thomas West and his being the Third Baron wins a bonus point and our undying awe.)

18-20 points: history nerd supreme
15-17 points: smarter than a fifth grader
11-14 points: lucky guesser
8-10 points: unlucky guesser
5-7 points: slacker
1-4 points: phys ed major
0 points: you didn’t keep track, did you?

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 2/27/17

Now, 0.01% More Correct!


As said recently we try to be accurate, but sometimes commit blunders. We lately found a real boner and set it right. We won’t say what. We’re underhanded that way. Plus, we can pretend it never happened. That’s the magic of the web, the ability to presto-chango the past. No need to send out recall notices, simply flush every embarrassing bloomer down the memory hole with a keystroke or two.

We thought this spot from 1998 would fit the bill as an illustration of “Oops.” Anyway, if Star Trek can pretend Klingons were always boney foreheaded worm eaters and the original greasy-looking guys sporting Van Dykes and Fu Manchus never happened, we expect the reader will allow us similar leeway.

Filed under Snippets from the Art Archives 2/26/17

My Life in Modern Times


I had the urge to noodle around on my musical keyboard synthesizer which is played through the stereo system. Unfortunately there is no auxiliary ports on the amp so I have to plug in through the CD ports. Which is also where I plug in the computer to play music. Meaning I have to swap out the AC plugs between devices. When I yanked out one from the Mac the central metal prong came off, stuck in the port. That was annoying. Still, I got it out easily enough with needle nose pliers.

Now then, the cords to both devices are the same, only the one to the synthesizer is longer to reach the keyboard on the other side of the room. So I figured until I could replace the short one I’d just use the one plugged in as needed. Which led to glitch number two, when I plugged into the sound out (headphones) port in the computer the sound failed. Not only wouldn’t it work through the stereo, the internal speakers wouldn’t work either. Oh no, no sound! Even more annoying.

Not only that, there was a red light on inside the sound out port on the back of the Mac. A bad sign, no doubt. So I did a quick Bing search of the problem and followed the various possible problem solving recommendations. The one that worked? Blowing in the little sound out hole. How’s that for a high-tech solution? Reminds me of the old joke of the ancient technician who fixed the machinery by banging on it with a mallet. It’s all in knowing where to hit it.

Filed under Odds & Ends 2/25/17

Maybe It’s Pirate Month


We just can’t seem to resist. Here be a pirate “Brickbats” spot from the January 2015 issue of Reason magazine.

If you are holding a Talk Like a Pirate Day celebration, you might expect some­one to show up dressed as a pirate. But when one employee at North Carolina’s Richlands Elementary School saw another worker dressed as a pirate, the first staffer reported a suspicious person. Officials then locked down not just the elementary school but all schools in the area.

After which everyone was sent to a safe area for counseling and further dosing.

Filed under Snippets from the Art Archives 2/24/17

The One TV Theme That Breaks the Mold


Infrequently Answered Question #110: What’s the most memorable and distinctive TV show theme music?

A: This will be an opinion, of course, because memorable and distinctive are perhaps subjective and not clear-cut or quantifiable exactly. Also, we haven’t heard every theme for every TV show out there. Then there’s the problem of our lack of deep musical knowledge, both historical and structural. Weasel words aside, one TV theme clearly stands out for us. Which we will get to after setting up why that is.

We might remember some themes because we’re heard them so many times we can’t drive them away if we wanted to. Which doesn’t make them memorable per se. Someone our age might have heard The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson theme every night for thirty years or whatever it was. So, you’re going to remember it, but it’s really not that memorable or distinctive. It’s pretty standard orchestration. And it lacks a real hook which makes a tune intrinsically memorable.

A hook is a hard thing to define, but all the most popular tunes have one. It’s like a short motif, phrase, melody or whatever that we connect with instantly, it’s catchy, somehow. Who knows why. A classic example, from Classical music, is the opening four note motif of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony: Da-da-da Da-a-a-ah.

You could take several tacks on what makes something distinctive. You might consider an unusual structure or out-of-the-ordinary instruments or sounds. For instance the Addams Family theme with its finger snaps: Da-da-da-dum, snap, snap. This is a good candidate overall, catchy and unusual, which could be the same as memorable and distinctive. Still, there is one thing very run of the mill about it, the time signature.

Ninety-whatever percent of popular music these days is in 4/4 time. That’s four beats per measure by quarter notes. It’s no accident they call it Common Time. You’d be hard-pressed to find a popular tune or TV theme that wasn’t in 4/4 time. You might have a march, but that’s pretty much 4/4 time divided in half to play while stepping left-right, left-right. Musically about the same thing.

Another fairly common time is 3/4, or waltz time. This was much more popular in the past. Classical music uses it a lot. Ballets usually contained waltzes. Some symphony movements were in waltz time. On the other hand you’re not going to hear rockers and rappers doing waltzes. About the only big pop hit in the last forty or so years in waltz time we can think of is Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You, Babe.”

Still, to be really distinctive you can use one of the extremely rare time signatures. Such as 9/8 time. Though depending on the phrasing, as in three triplets per measure, that can be like very fast waltz time. Then there’s 7/8 time, which might be the rarest. Dave Brubeck used it once. If you’re old enough you might recall one pop tune that used it. Devo’s “Jocko Homo. (Are We Not Men?)”

Devo’s tune went back and forth between 7/8 and 4/4 times. Plus it had two different phrasings of the 7/8 parts. It started, 1-2-3-4, 5-6-7 and switched to 1-2-3, 4-5-6-7. Very adventurous for a rock song. One that wouldn’t be popular on American Bandstand because you can’t dance to it.

Last we have 5/4 time. This is the time signature of our winner, what makes it the most distinctive. It also has a good hook. It goes, 1… 3-4-5, 1… 3-4-5, or dum-m da-da-da, dum da-da-da. It’s a driving motif that seems unresolved because of the extra beat beyond the typical 4/4 time. It’s dramatic, puts you slightly on edge. It really works for what the show was about. For us, the most memorable and distinctive TV theme music…

Mission: Impossible

One thing though, that’s the TV theme not the movie. They re-wrote the theme for the movies as a rock tune in 4/4 time. Idiots.

Filed under Infrequently Answered Questions 2/23/17

Ten Things Explained with One Venn Diagram

no1 one
no2 one
no3 one
no3 one
no3 one
no3 one
no3 one
no3 one
no3 one
no10 one

Mouseover number for each diagram

Filed under Odds & Ends 2/22/17

Quick Pirate Week Update


We just learned pirates did not use cutlasses during the Great Pirate Heyday around the turn of the 18th century. That’s because the cutlass wasn’t invented until after the American War of Independence. Pirates used other swords similar to a cutlass, like hangers and falchions or possibly backswords, shamshirs and rapiers. Who knows which, pirates didn’t keep good records.

In the opening pic we reprise the Jolly Rogers of Thomas Tew (left) and Calico Jack to show, whatever those swords were supposed to be, lacking a beefy hand guard they certainly weren’t cutlasses.

As for other errata generally throughout terry colon dot com, there are bound to be more. Especially as we tend to take liberties to make jokes, successfully or not. We do guarantee the information presented is 97.5% correct. Though we might be wrong about that.

While We’re on the Topic, Some Additional Sword Trivia


The iconic Roman short sword was the gladius. It is where the term gladiator comes from, a man wielding a gladius. Gladius is simply Latin for sword, and gladiator pretty much translates to swordsman.


The modern sport fencing épée and foil were originally practice swords for the rapier and small-sword. Folks in the past weren’t stupid enough to practice with real swords. Considering everything has a learning curve, few would survive sword first grade to ever graduate.

There is a bit of trivia that makes the rounds that cavalry sabers were not sharpened and used as blunt impact weapons. ‘Fraid not. Military saber manuals contain instructions for cutting with a saber, which requires a sharpened blade to do.


The blunt saber idea may have arisen because many surviving old sabers are unsharpened. Two possibilities for that. First, swords were sharpened only after being issued. Warehoused swords would all be blunt. Secondly, even issued swords would not always be sharpened unless there was a war on or if the soldier served in a danger zone. Both warehoused and peacetime swords tended to survive more than swords used in combat.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 2/21/17

In Which We Wonder If the Plural of Omnibus Is Omnibi


We had started to write something about the alewife in the Great Lakes when we wondered what the plural of alewife was. Alewives? That ain’t right. Then we figured, like most fish the plural is the same as the singular. As in, “The river is full of trout” and not, “The river is full of trouts.” You don’t catch five basses, you catch five bass. Basses is only plural for the musical instrument. (Bass, a hetero­nym. Our favorite.)

For land animals it’s a mixed bag. Deer, bison, elk, cattle, plural and singular. Unless they’re all one sex where they’re cows and bulls, or bucks and does. (Does, another heteronym.) For other ruminants we’re not sure. Is it a herd of wildebeest or wildebeests? A wildebeest is also called a gnu, which doesn’t help us since we don’t know if it’s a herd of gnu or gnus, either.

Then there are cases where instead of adding an S for plural you take it away. Hippopotamus to hippopotami or octopus to octopi. It’s a Latin thing. Other minus the S pluralizations are mouse and louse becoming mice and lice. That’s not a Latin thing it’s… we haven’t a clue. On the other hand, if the mouse and louse are not the animals, but are a computer device and a dirty scoundrel the plurals are mouses and louses.

Now then, what’s the plural of a Portugese man-of-war? Surprising to us, in our dictionary it’s men-of-war. But then, a man-of-war is sort-of a plural in its own self, being a collection of three different animals that live as a single entity. Very peculiar. We wonder if they all have to be the same sex or what? Or is it like some fish that can change their sex in mid-life? Which we have heard is where the term “sea change” comes from.

We admit there doesn’t seem to be a logical endpoint to any of this. Just some meandering musings. Perhaps there was a worthwhile tidbit or two in there. If not, sorry. But at least it’s over with and you can take comfort in knowing after all these years the Fish still lives and hasn’t been flushed down the toilet.

Filed under Words, Phrases, Sayings & Quotes 2/20/17

How to Fake It Like a Pro


Another old spot from the archives for which the manuscript is long gone. So I’ll just have to fake it. It’s a joke. Get it? OK, not much of a joke, but I need an intro to get to the point at hand. Which is an old joke I never really understood until I began studying piano. Here goes, in a pared down version.

Two jazz musicians are walking along a pier. One falls over the edge into the water and cries out, “Help! I don’t know how to swim!” The other musician yells back, “Fake it.”

This joke really only works if you know musician lingo. What they mean by fake it. This is when you’re in a jam session and you don’t know the tune you can still play along by faking it. This doesn’t mean pretending to play, like a Hollywood actor moving his hands over the keys not actually playing anything. It means you pick out the tempo, key, and chord progression and play along with whatever you can manage that fits. Going through the tune you learn the melody and bridges at whatnot and can then play those, too. Well, if you’re any good you can, which leaves me out. Of course, it helps than most jazz, blues, rock and pop music have pretty much the same basic and fairly simple structure.

Anyway, this term, fake, also lends itself to what they call a fake book. This is not an imaginary book, but sheet music written with a shorthand musical notation system. You are likely familiar with classical music notation, those five line staffs with all the notes, clefs, rests, sharps, flats and what-have-you. These leave nothing to chance, every note (quaver) played is jotted down. Usually. Sometimes you can toss in your own flourishes, but mostly everything is there.

A fake book is different. All you have is a barebones melody line and shorthand key signatures through the progression, or changes as they say. So, instead of putting down all the sharps and flats and the notes that make the chord they’ll just put down something like F-7 (F minor seventh). The player knows what notes are played in that scale and how to play some version of the chord. Same goes for the melody line, you can fill in notes around it, mostly under, as long as you hit the melody line on the right beats. In simplistic terms the key signature tells you the bottom note, the melody line tells you the top note and you make up everything in between with whatever works in the scale.

The difference between classical and fake book notation reminds me of an anecdote from long ago. My mom was trying to work out on the piano how to play a popular tune of the day. Being trained in classical notation she was writing down every note in the chords and so on and so forth. A rock musician friend of mine tried to help her out by explaining how to do it the fake book way. “You’re doing it the hard way. Just write down the chord notation and insert the chords as you go along.” Or something to that effect.

Which is easier, if you’re used to playing that way. With lots of practice you get to the point where the left hand moves through the chords without much effort or thought really. It practically becomes automatic, muscle memory or something. Still, simply being told to do it that way and mastering it is quite a different thing believe you me. Whether my mom ever got the hang of it I can’t say.

So then, for any non-musician readers who have heard that old joke and didn’t really get it, as I didn’t for many years, now you know.

Filed under Snippets from the Art Archives 2/17/17

When Less Really Can Be More


functionary (fŭnk′-shən ê-rē) noun. A person who has to perform official functions or duties.

perfunctory (pər fŭnk′ tə-rē) adj. Done or acting routinely and with little thought or care.

Seems to us there is a natural convergence of the two to add to our fauxcabulary. To wit…

perfunctionary (pər fŭnk′-shən ê-rē) noun. A person who performs official functions or duties routinely and with little thought or care.

In so many words, a government bureaucrat. Though we might be too generous here. Some do very little work at all, perfunctorily or otherwise. Which in some cases is a good thing. The more a perfunctionary’s work interferes with people actually trying to get something useful done, well, the less they do they better.

Which brings to mind a contronym, a word with two contrary meanings. Oversight. Which is an unintentional failure to notice or do something. Or it means the job of overseeing, to notice so things get done. So, you can have an oversight due to lack of oversight.

Filed under Words, Phrases, Sayings & Quotes 2/16/17

Tips to Write More Betterer


A bit of art from the 2000 archives about plagiarism that befits our picking up some writing advice from Business Insider.

How to improve anything you write in 2 minutes

  1. Delete the word “that” –The word “that” can be removed from your writing at least 90% of the time, and it will instantly make your sentence stronger.
  2. Delete the words “I think” –It adds nothing. Remove it to strengthen your point.
  3. Avoid words that end in “-ing” –In most cases, the “-ing” softens your word and adds no value. Your writing will read better if you avoid it.
  4. Short sentences, short paragraphs –Most sentences can be cut in half. Don’t be afraid to have a two- or three-word sentence.
  5. Shrink your opening sentence –Make it compelling, but keep it short and conversational.

We find ourselves agreeing that elimi­nating “that” from sentences is something that works well. Or rather, we agree eliminating “that” from sentences works well. See, a lot of what they say really works. Still, there can be exceptions.

For instance, adding “I think,” “I imagine,” “I suppose” and the like are qualifiers to let readers know what follows are opinions and not facts or certainties. Which might be important depending on the context and subject. If you’re writing for comic effect a long sentence full of asides, insertions, diversions, and looping around verbiage is the stuff to feed the troops. We think.

Still, overall their advice is sound. Especially for business communication, memos, directives, email, that sort of thing. Also for directions and when conveying complex information. Chop it up into easily swallowed little bites rather than force feeding heaping helpings in one go. That’s the way to feed the troops.

Filed under Snippets from the Art Archives 2/15/17

Roman Military Attire Hollywood Gets Right and Wrong


In Hollywood productions Roman legionaries invariably wear the iconic segmented plate armor, Lorica segmentata. If the time period is the early Empire, as is usual in films, that’s spot on. Though through most of Roman history, Kingdom, Republic and late Empire, the Romans wore (chain) mail (Lorica hamata) or scale armor (Lorica squamata).

One interesting thing about Lorica segmentata was, unlike a cuirass, it could be custom fit after being forged. As the torso was covered with a series of steel bands they could make a bunch of different length bands to later combine however needed to fit any body shape and size.

Despite what you might see on the silver screen there is no evidence Romans ever wore leather armor, segmented or otherwise. Ask yourself, why would they segment leather armor anyway when leather is flexible?

In the movies legionaries are uniformly clad in red tunics. Not always the case in the Roman world. Some units wore white, some wore green, some wore brown. Naval legionaries wore blue, a lot like modern sailors do.

Also in films Roman soldiers almost always sport leather wrist bands. What was the purpose of those, one might wonder. Actually, they had no purpose, the Romans never wore them anywhere outside of Hollywood. How that ever got started is something of a mystery.

Filed under Fun Facts & Trivia 2/14/17