The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Entries from September 2009

Children’s Card Games (74)

September 30th, 2009 · 1 Comment

We begin here a survey of that grand old game, “Snap.”  This first entry is a Whitman deck; it features storybook animals, of various degrees of anthropomorphism, all hooked in somehow to the word “snap.”  Freddy is certainly snappy, and the anonymous artist rendered him with an easy charm. (Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

Speaking Statues

September 29th, 2009 · No Comments

The speaking statue may be a uniquely Italian custom.  At any rate, I don’t know of any elsewhere. By a speaking statue, I don’t mean one that actually talks, but one that serves as a bulletin board for diatribes, slogans, and satirical verse.  An essential part of the tradition is that the statue becomes a […]

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Tags: Literature · Places · Politics

Children’s Card Games (73)

September 18th, 2009 · 2 Comments

Another “Old Maid” has surfaced: I’ll add it to the roster.  This one is a miniature “Peter Pan” deck from Whitman; and it boasts a rather disparate bunch: in addition to Briny Bill, you can meet Judge Grump, Pancho, Conchita, Pirate Bones, Merry Mary, Mermaid McCoy, Tubbins, and other oddballs.  And, of course, the Old Maid. […]

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera · Ukulele

Low-Tech Stereoscopy: Word Ladders

September 18th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Word ladders are a relatively easy stereo effect to draw by hand.  Print a phrase on a sheet of graph paper, centering one word per line.  Place the sheet on a light box.  Center your phrase on the left side of a card, and trace the first word.  Then, trace the second word, but move […]

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Tags: Diversions · Stereoscopy

Children’s Card Games (72)

September 11th, 2009 · 4 Comments

The “Charlie Chaplin Card Game” was published in 1972 by Edu-Cards.  And what could be more representative of the time than high contrast photos of a silent film star, set against bright geometric backgrounds?  A bit of Warhol influence in there, don’t you think? Like many decks of Edu-Cards, the deck also had a little flip book on […]

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

Some Tributes to John Keel

September 10th, 2009 · 1 Comment

  We would like to alert you to the fact that the September issue of Fortean Times contains a substantial tribute to John Keel, including memoirs by Phyllis Benjamin and myself, as well as a number of previously unpublished photos. Anthony Matt and I have also started a tribute site to Keel, at  There you […]

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Tags: Forteana

Children’s Card Games (71)

September 5th, 2009 · 6 Comments

“Busy Bee” was published by Ed-U-Cards in 1959.  Like a number of other games, it’s a variation on dominoes, with animals instead of dots.  It makes for an unusual design, doesn’t it? (Posted by Doug Skinner)

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Tags: Card Games · Ephemera

The Magic Door of Massimiliano Palombara

September 5th, 2009 · 4 Comments

You can find la Porta Magica in Rome, on the Piazza Vittorio.  It’s what remains of the villa of Massimiliano Palombara, a 17th century occultist. There are at least two competing stories about it.  One is that an archetypical mysterious stranger visited Palombara, and asked for funds and a room to test his alchemical know-how.  Palombara agreed; the stranger […]

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Tags: Mysteries · Places · Symbols · The Ineffable