Episode 6: Detective Pilcrow and the Search for Missing Punctuation Transcript

Books in the Wild
Episode 6: Detective Pilcrow and the Hunt for Missing Punctuation
July 2017

INTRO MUSIC: Jockers Dance Orchestra “The Royal Vagabond” http://freemusicarchive.org/music/Jockers_Dance_Orchestra/

KERI: Hello, welcome to Books in the Wild, the podcast about exploring books. I’m Keri Schroeder.

Today we are on the hunt for missing punctuation. Like many letters and even entire words, quite a few good punctuation marks have been lost to modern English. In this episode, we’re going to track down some forgotten and elusive marks, from the mysterious Pilcrow to the playful interrobang. Today I have a very exciting noir-themed audio drama filled with questionable acting and an unforgivable amount of punctuation puns. I hope you are excited as I am.

Believe it or not, punctuation and the alphabet didn’t come together in a set. Much like the can opener being invented about fifty years after the introduction of canned food, punctuation arrived a few centuries after the development of written language.

Our story begins in Ancient Greece. Because, English is a language that uses the Latin alphabet, which is derived from the Phoenician script, which was adopted by the Greeks around the 9th century BCE. This Greek alphabet was all uppercase letters (we didn’t have lowercase letters until a few hundred years later, and in fact upper and lower case letters weren’t even called upper and lower case until about two thousand years later, but that’s a whole different story).

So, back to the Greek alphabet, the letters were all uppercase or majuscules if you want to impress your friends. There were no spaces or punctuation between letters, and was meant to be read in what we call the boustrophedon or “ox-turning” method. Which means that you start reading at the upper left part of a text, much like we do now, but when you get to the end of the line instead of going back to the left and reading the line below, you would drop down to the next line directly below, and continue reading that line from right to left, which was written backwards of course. This turning motion, of reading left to right, down, right to left, down, left to right, mimicked the turning of an ox plowing a field. With a little bit of practice, this ox-turning method of reading is supposedly faster and more efficient than how we read today. You can save a fraction of a second with each line by not having to go all the way back to the left margin to continue reading, and you are also less likely to lose your place having less distance for your eye to travel.

I say we should try to bring it back. I say we all take a moment to write a letter to the grammar police or whoever makes decisions about these things, and explain how boustrophedon really is the most optimal eye-tracking performance pattern available. We could be reading twenty-five to thirty percent faster. That adds up over time. For example, if you read Fifty Shades of Gray boustrophedon style instead of in a single-direction, you could have 25% of that time back of your life.

But back to the development of punctuation. After the development of the Greek alphabet, for the next five to seven hundred years, written language looked like walls of text with no spaces or breaks. Laws and official announcements were carved into walls like one big drunk text. Then at around 200 BCE, the Hellenistic Greek scholar Aristophanes of Byzantium, a grammarian, librarian and scholar at the Library of Alexandria said “this is bonkers”. I’m paraphrasing, because I’m not sure what the ancient Greek word for bonkers is, but he recognized that there must be an easier way to read these walls of text. Aristophanes developed a series of marks to indicate to the reader when they should pause. These three markings indicated where one should make a short, medium, or long pause while reading, respectively called komma, kolon, and periodos. Sound familiar? And so, it was from this Indo-European tree of language that many branches and sprouts later, modern English bloomed.

But now I’d like to introduce one hard-boiled punctuation point here to help me tell the tale of missing marks, Detective Pilcrow private eye.

 

PILCROW NOIR SCENE #1

MUSIC: Saxophone Solo - https://freesound.org/people/vedas/sounds/171196/

Pilcrow: The name is Pilcrow. I was once major player in the manuscript game. I used to be the first mark you’d see. I was an enforcer, taking the lead and showing readers the entrance. And damn, was I good. Maybe even too good. I took walls of text and broke them down like Godzilla or King Kong only wish they could.

But this was back in the day, before computers, before texting, hell, even before the printing press. Now here I am, all but forgotten in the punctuation world, relegated only to boring legal documents to be skimmed over. Or worse, hidden amongst computer jibber-jabber to be ignored completely, as lost as the city of Atlantis under a sea of typographic curiosities.

You know what the worst part is? All you highfalutin characters complaining about the overuse of the exclamation mark, or those new confangled emojies. It’s a semi-colon and an improperly placed parenthesis! She ain’t winking at you! Anyway you think that’s bad? Try being replaced with an indent. That’s right. Just a few blank spaces. Try being replaced by nothing.

Most people have forgotten my name. I am called the “paragraph mark” by some. Some ignorant folk refer to me as “a backward capital P”. (scoff)

It was for these reasons that I started the Pilcrow Private Detective Agency. I didn’t want to see any more good punctuation marks fall by the wayside. And the way I see it, it takes a lost character to find a lost character. And I ain’t got nothing more to lose.

 

INFORMATION ESSAY: PILCROW

KERI: Ah, the pilcrow. A personal favorite of mine. As our mysterious narrator mentioned, you probably best know the pilcrow as a paragraph mark, resembling a backward P with a curved tail. You may also know pilcrow as that thing that shows up when you accidently hit a wrong key in Microsoft Word and then it takes you forever to figure out how to change the view back to normal again.

But the pilcrow has been through a lot. Shortly after the development of the markings that would come to be known as comma, colon, and period, we see early iterations of the pilcrow used to designate the beginnings of new ideas in texts, or to mark a change in subject, or passing of time, or as we know them now – paragraphs.

The pilcrow’s form varies through the centuries. At times, the pilcrow resembled an upside-down capital L, or a lower case slanted y, but it was nonetheless common in many manuscripts up through the mid-fifteenth century. The pilcrow was usually written in a different color ink than the body of the text, further emphasizing the shift of paragraphs. These characters were written by hand by specialized scribes called rubricators to perform what is called rubrication, which is the adding of the red ornate lettering in medieval manuscripts.

The bulk of the text from these manuscripts would have been previously completed by other scribes who would leave blank spaces for the rubricators to fill in their part, the scribes also often included instructions on how the lettering should look in the margins of the manuscript. Rubrication was used to highlight important text and to start new sections of text, so usually the first letter or even first sentence would be in red ink and/or more ornate than the body of the text. Pilcrows were also rubricated, to designate the change in paragraph.

Rubrication wasn’t necessarily an easy task to perform. Remember, these were in the days before ink jet printers or even printing presses. Ink wasn’t even something you could buy at a store.

This is a recipe and instructions for making red ink, from a book of compiled medieval craft techniques:

To prepare white-flake, get some sheets of lead beaten out thin, place them dry in a hollow piece of wood and pour in some warm vinegar or urine to cover them. Then, after a month, take off the cover and remove whatever white there is, and again replace it as at first. When you have a sufficient amount and you wish to make red lead from it, grind this flake-white on a stone without water, then put it in two or three new pots and place it over a burning fire.

You have a slender curved iron rod, fitted at one end in a wooden handle and broad at the top, and with this you can stir and mix this flake-white from time to time. You do this for a long time until the red lead becomes visible.

The point is that rubrication took time, patience, skill, and a tolerance for working with urine. And so the use of rubrication was minimal, used only to signify importance. It’s not uncommon even today, as many books still have their opening lines in ornate text often in a different color, especially if the book is a special edition or fully illustrated. We can also see modern day rubrication in red letter edition bibles, in which all the words spoken by Jesus Christ are written in red.

And even in the case of many Christian church service pamphlets, not only do they use rubcrication but the pilcrow makes an appearance to differentiate between directions to be followed from text to be read aloud. For example, the bulk of the text would be the sermon for you to follow along with, intermixed with pilcrows that indicate when you should kneel or stand or repeat certain parts of the text aloud. A change in action.

However, none of these are as common as they once were. Because something happened in the mid-fifteenth century that would change rubrication, and therefore affect the pilcrow forever… The invention of the printing press.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty of printing, I’ll save that for an episode about printing, but for you non-printers, here is a real basic run down. And for you printers out there, please cover your ears for a few seconds because I am about to severely oversimplify this and don’t want to get hate mail.

Okay, non-printers, did you ever make those potato prints as a kid? You know, when your elementary school teacher gave you a plastic butter knife to carve your initial into a potato as if that were a good idea? And if you managed to not cut your fingers, you could dip the mangled potato into tempera paint and smash it into a large piece of butcher paper. Leaving behind a smooshed smear of a letter. Then if you wanted a second color, you had to clean off the first color or risk turning everything muddy brown.

The same general principles apply with any printing press. Except instead of one potato, you have a thousand miniature potatoes of various letters that have to be aligned perfectly, oh and they’re made of lead. And instead of using the back of a plastic spoon as a brayer, you have a few hundred pound metal and wood contraption to press your paper onto the tiny metal potato letters. And replacing the plastic knife are a whole new array of movable parts to smash your fingers in.

What stays the same though, is that you still have to clean everything off, move around your tiny letters, make sure everything is lined up perfectly, and press the paper again if you want another color.

Now the printing press sped up the production of books, but they still tried to incorporate many characteristics of handwritten text. Blackletter for example, mimicked handwriting, and if you don’t know what blackletter is, just picture the logo for any metal band ever.

Another carryover from manuscripts into printing was rubrication. But to do this with a printing press, the body of the text would be printed in black ink with spaces left blank where the red text should be. The red text would later be either added by hand or by doing a separate print run with red ink.

Lettering by hand was time-consuming and expensive, and setting up the press for a second run was also time-consuming and finicky, especially when sometimes the second color was just to make a single mark on a page. After awhile, these blank spaces reserved for pilcrows before paragraphs, just started being left blank, and readers started recognizing the empty indention as a marker for a new paragraph. Hence, the invention of the indent at the beginning of a paragraph. And then before pilcrow saw it coming, he was for the most part, obsolete.

 

Pilcrow Noir Scene #2

Pilcrow:   Darkness coated the town like a double-print of carbon black. I was working on a case when she walked in.

            Ampersand:    Detective Pilcrow?

Pilcrow:      The dame had the kind of curls and curves that brought together clauses. She was the type of woman that men wrote similes about.

Ampersand:   Um, I’m standing right here. I can hear you. And don’t call me a dame. My name is Am. Ampersand.

            Pilcrow:      She was sharp as a knife and cut right to the chase.

Ampersand:    Yeah, I’m still here.

Pilcrow:      Pleased to meet you, Miss Ampersand. Call me Pilcrow.  So, what’s a classy character like you want with an old relic like me? (I asked her. I wanted to discuss her past, the present, and our future together, but didn’t want to seem too intense.)

Ampersand:    Okay… Well, I need help finding my friend who went missing recently. His name is Mr. Thorpe. Octo thorpe.

             Pilcrow:  Now that’s a name I haven’t heard in awhile.

             Ampersand:    You know him?

Pilcrow:          The guy’s got more aliases than supervillain’s phone book. First he's repping for numbers and pounds, next thing you know he gets a little tipsy and gets sharp.  You should be careful joining up with characters like that.

Ampersand:    I’m a conjunction. It’s my function.

 

INFORMATION ESSAY: AMPERSAND

KERI: Oh Ampersand, you little minx. Ampersand is a logogram, a symbol representing a word, in this case the word “and”. The Ampersand form evolved from a ligature of the Latin letters “et”, which means “and”.

A little trip down etymology lane tells us that ampersand is the long lost 27th character of the English alphabet. When reciting the alphabet in school, or maybe during old timey sobriety tests, or whenever else folks from the 19th century might recite the alphabet, it was customary to add the Latin phrase “per se” meaning “in itself” after stand-alone letters. It was used to indicate “that’s all, folks” before moving on to the next word or letter, especially if a letter could also be a word, like I or a for example. It was basically a more eloquent version of saying “next word” whenever we’re spelling anything aloud.

And so just like our alphabet now usually ends with X, Y, and Z.  “And” used to be considered part of the alphabet team. It would get confusing (as if this weren’t already confusing) to say “x,y,z, and and” so to indicate that you really mean the word “and” and you’re not just stuttering “and and”.  People used to say “X, Y, Z, and per se and.” Which over time gets slurred, and per se and, and per send, ampersand.

The ampersand’s physical form is fun too. It’s delicate and curvy. Sometimes the “et” ligature form is still recognizable, like a lowercase e t. Sometimes it looks like a bisected backward capital “e”. Sometimes it looks like a real questionable cursive “S”. There are so many variations, and yet we still recognize them as “and”s which is pretty astounding if you think about it.

German typographer Jan Tschichold was also intrigued by these variations, and collected hundreds of examples of ampersands from first century Pompeii to the seventh century Book of Kells, all the way up through the twentieth century in order to chronicle the development of the ampersand. These forms were compiled and released in a booklet titled Formenwandlungen der & Zeichnen, or The Ampersand, it’s Form and Developments in 1953.

But is ampersand really just a symbol for “and” to be used in the same way? Do we really need to shorten and? Shouldn’t we instead shorten words like, I dunno, ampersand?  Is it just the illusion of being more efficient?  Like how saying VW seems like a faster way to say “Volkswagen”, but it’s not.

The ampersand does have a slightly different meaning than the word “and”. It’s generally considered informal to use the ampersand symbol to straight out replace “and” if what you really mean is in fact per se “and”. But, the use of an ampersand actually joins items closer together than just a regular old “and”. You see the ampersand a lot in shared company names, business partners, or in writings that have more than one author. The ampersand technically implies that the owners or partners or authors have contributed the same amount of work or share the same amount of ownership. For example, let’s say you have Sam & Dean Hunters for Hire, as in Sam ampersand Dean – that implies that they are equal partners. But if it read Sam and Dean, it would mean that Sam is the main contributor and Dean is supporting, which we all know isn’t true. Although this is a loose rule that is often broken, it’s still fun.

 

Pilcrow Noir Scene #3

(Walking outdoor sounds)

             Pilcrow: You sure this is where you last saw him?

Ampersand: Yes, absolutely. This is Interrobang’s place. He was throwing a retro 60’s party. I must warn you though, he can be pretty intense.

             Pilcrow: past perfect or present?

            Ampersand: more like, questionably aggressive, but you'll see what I mean

            (Knock on door, door opening)

            Interrobang: hello?!

            Pilcrow: hello mr. Interrobang, we’re here inquiring about a missing character

           Ampersand: it's Octothorpe, he's missing

           Interrobang: I'm sorry to hear that?!

           Pilcrow: is that a question, mr. Interrobang? Why are you yelling?

           Ampersand: (under her breath) shh! He can't help it

           Interrobang: no worries?! And please, call me The bang?!

Pilcrow: I'm not going to call you that

Ampersand: when's the last time you talked to Octothorpe, the Bang?

Interrobang: not since the party?! He was hanging out with those youngsters?! You know?! They call themselves Emojis!?

            Ampersand: oh no! Not them!

            Pilcrow: who are the emojies?

Ampersand: they're new characters, I guess, not quite punctuation, they're a cartoonish gang of emotional icons. Oh, but they're just awful, Mr. Pilcrow!

Interrobang: I kicked them out because after a few drinks there were eggplants everywhere?!

            Ampersand:(gasp) disgusting!

Pilcrow: Just like debaucherous dust bunnies, have we been sucked up to find ourselves in a moral vacuum? I thought to myself

            Interrobang: what?!

Ampersand: oh, he does this sometimes. It's a clumsy transition, but it means we're about to move into a new segment

 

 

Information Essay: Interrobang

KERI: Interrobang?! Is a punctuation mark conceived by Martin Speckter, the head of a New York advertising agency and editor of a magazine called Type Times. In the march 1962 issue, Speckter wrote an article declaring the need for a new punctuation mark for exclamatory rhetorical questions.

For example if you wanted to punctuate “he said what?!”, you would usually end it with alternating exclamation point question mark exclamation point question mark and so on, until you felt that the proper amount of incredulous rhetoric was achieved.

Speckter asked readers through the article to submit design and name ideas for this new mark. Readers sent in their suggestions, and among them were words like rhet, exclarotive, exclamaquest and interrobang. Interrobang was declared the winner, being a combination of interrogative and bang being a slang term used by printers for the exclamation mark.

Next came the design ideas. The winner, as you can imagine, was a combination of a question mark and an exclamation point. They are overlayed on top of each other sharing the dot below.

Interrobang, like Chia pets and bellbottoms, became wildly popular but we're relatively short lived. Because this was the pre-computer era of the early 1960s, if one wanted to use an interrobang, it had to be hand-lettered by a designer or manipulated by literally cutting and pasting existing punctuation marks. But surprisingly, that didn't hinder interrobangs popularity that much. Throughout the 1960s, interrobangs could be seen all over advertisements and printed articles. They were so widely in use that in 1967, type designer Richard Isbell included the interrobang in his new font called Americana. It was also added to the new model of Remington typewriters later that year.

But then sadly, within a few more years, the interrobang faded into obscurity. Though it still exists as a cult classic punctuation mark amongst retro type enthusiasts, appearing here and there as a throwback to the 60’s, and can be found in a few digital fonts such as Ariel Unicode and Palatino Linotype

 

Pilcrow Noir Scene #4

Pilcrow: The silence was loud enough to shatter itself, as I contemplated how to tell Ampersand that her friend Octothorpe might be in real danger

             Ampersand: Octothorpe is in danger?!

Pilcrow: sorry, I forgot I was in exposition mode. (Clears throat)... It wasn't easy, but I managed to track down the emoji headquarters, a place called Social Media Center. I think that it be our best chance at finding Octothorpe

           SOUNDS: (Knock on door, door opens loudly, party noise maker)

            Cake: HAPPY birthday! What can I do ya for friends?

            Pilcrow: What does that mean? Are you a...cake? Is this your purpose?

Ampersand: over there! Is that a bat? Or a vampire cow? Oh mister pilcrow I'm so confused!

            Poop: don't forget about me!

            Pilcrow: what in the name of Guttenberg are you.. you're….

            Poop: you can say it. I'm Poop. 

           Ampersand: oh. why? (Sobbing)

Poop: don't be embarrassed. Everyone Poops, baby. it's been a best selling childrens book since 1977 and translated into multiple languages worldwide.

            Ampersand: oh, Mr Pilcrow, I feel faint

            Pilcrow: enough tomfoolery!  Where's Octothorpe?

            Octopus: (underwater sounds) hello? Were you looking for me?

Pilcrow: Octothorpe! Not octopus!  What IS this place? Some sort of Lewis Carroll nightmare?

            Octopus: sorry...

            Octothorpe: oh, hey guys. Whats up?

             Ampersand: Octothorpe?  You seem different… are you okay?

Octothorpe: I'm totally fine. Oh, but I don't go by Octothorpe anymore. I mean, you can call me the character formerly known as octothorpe if you want, but I usually just go by Hash.

            Pilcrow: Hash?

            Octothorpe: yeah man, it's kinda like my tag name, you know.

            Ampersand: but Octo...er, Hash, we were so worried about you!

            Pilcrow: are you being held here against your will? Blink twice for yes.

Octothorpe: nah man, nothing like that.  I'm just kicking it with my new friends. You gotta reinvent yourself every once in awhile you know? I just wasn't feeling all that useful for awhile.But here, I'm like a master tagger. You want to see a hamster eat a tiny burrito? Bam! Hashtag too cute#. Or maybe you want to see a picture of what your neighbor ate for breakfast? I got ya - Hashtag instafood!

             Ampersand: I don't understand. Why would anyone want that?

             Octothorpe: it's the way of the future man. Likes for follows, likes for follows.

             Pilcrow: what is he saying? (To ampersand)

            Ampersand: that's enough! I think you should come with us!

Octothorpe: no way! Jeez, you remind me of my ex, Apostrophe. She could be pretty possessive too. I'm fine, really. Hashtag lovinlife!

 

Information Essay: Octothorpe

KERI: You are probably familiar with a versatile little character that goes by many names: octothorpe, hex, number sign, pound sign, hatch or hash. Visually, they are the same but their meanings have changed throughout the centuries.

It's believed that octothorpe’s origins began as an abbreviation for the Roman measurement libra pondo, which developed into a ligature with a horizontal line crossing the lower case L in order to differentiate itself from the numeral 1. From then it was eventually simplified into the familiar two horizontal lines bisecting two vertical lines. It is still commonly referred to as the pound sign because of its association with measuring weight.

The first appearance of pound sign being used as a symbol for numbers around the 1850’s as indicated by book-keeping texts at the time. The “number sign” as it became known, was still mostly handwritten.

The origins for the name Octothorpe is a little more convoluted, though for me it is the most fun to say which is why the name was used in the audio drama.

In the late 1960’s Bell Labs was developing ways for the telephone to interact with computers and added two new keys - the asterisk, which they renamed the Star key because it looks like a tiny star. And the pound sign, which was renamed Octothorpe for no discernable reason at all.

So let’s try break it down – “Octo” is easy enough to decipher, referencing the eight points of the shape, or the eight open fields surrounding the square. Thorpe is a little harder to figure out.  According to one legend, the term was named after the eighteenth-century English philanthropist James Edward Oglethorpe, though why this would be the case is unknown.

Another origin story is that Thorpe is the old Norse word for “field” and that the symbol looks like eight fields surrounding a central village. Hence octo-thorpe.

And yet another urban legend of the octothorpe’s namesake originated from an inside joke about an employee burping.

Whatever the truth may be, the word octothorpe first appeared in a 1972 employee handbook for the Bell Labs telephone company, but as for why they chose the name octothorpe, one may never know.

Other names this little symbol is known by are hatch, as in cross-hatch hatch marks, and hash which is a disambiguation of hatch.

Hash went through another transformation in 2007 when twitter user and former google designer Chris Messina tweeted a single ground-breaking suggestion, “how do you feel about using pound sign for groups? As in #barcamp?”

and thus the hashtag was born! I won't get into the nitty gritty about metadata, mostly because I don't understand it, but the use of hashtags in one's social media posts makes them more easily searchable, thus connecting more users. As you can search by topic and shared interests. This also means that the hash mark all on its lonesome is sometimes mistakenly called a hashtag, but until it comes in contact with a mashed together word it is still just hash.

 

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Information essay: emojies

KERI: Emojies are ideograms, or symbols that represent an idea or concept independent of words. You know them as smilies, that help clarify intent or emotion via texts and social media posts. It's helpful in adding meaning to your messages when you have to be brief.  Like when your partner texts you and asks if they can adopt three kittens they saw at the shelter and you type “yeah sure I think that's a great idea”. Butthe inclusion of one smiley emojie or one eye roll emoji can affect whether or not you end up with a house full of baby felines.

Emojies differ from emoticons in that emoticons are emotion icons created from existing punctuation and letter combinations. If you want to smile, you just type colon dash parenthesis for example.  Emojies on the other hand are full pictorial representations of not only emotions, but numerous concepts and objects.

Emoji, is Japanese e for picture and moji for character. Emojis were first developed by a Japanese cell phone company who were inspired by the symbols used in tv weather forecasts and the cartoon icons used to show emotion in manga and anime. The first set of emojis were released in 1998 as 176 single characters. Today, there are now 1,088 characters available expressing everything from weddings to aliens to thunderstorms.

An interesting thing about emojis is that they can have vastly different meanings not only due to context, but also depending on region and culture. For example, the manicure emoji shows fingernails being lacquered – and was originally initiated in 2015 as just that – painting ones nails, perhaps as a way to communicate self-care, or a concepts of beauty.  But what it has been commonly used for, especially in America, is to express nonchalant self-importance, or simply -   “haters gonna hate”

You may have noticed that I used the word “initiated” for the release of new emojis, that’s because (and this is by far the most exciting fact I have learned this week) new emojis are voted on and created by a group called the Unicode Consortium.

The Unicode Consortium is an international non-profit organization that standardizes computer language basically. The specifications agreed upon by this organization is what allows our operating systems, software, and apps to communicate with each other. And they are also responsible for standardizing emojis – so that an android user can text an iphone user two dancing girls with antennae and they get it.

So who can propose new emojis to be voted upon by this mysterious consortium? You can! You can go to www.unicode.org right now and propose a character. Then, the usefulness, versatility, and recongizability of the character will be considered and it may become added to the emoji repertoire.

To tie this back into book arts a little bit at least, in 2014 artist Xu Bing published a book called The Book from the Ground written entirely in emoji. Xu Bing’s statement on the book was 

“Twenty years ago I made Book from the Sky, a book of illegible Chinese characters that no one could read. Now I have created Book from the Ground, a book that anyone can read.”

Book from the Ground is a hardcover, readily available book you can easily find online or in many bookshops. At first glance, it looks like just entire pages completely filled with a wall of emojies, and it is. Except when you look at each symbol and icon and consider its meaning, a story develops about a day in the life of a quote unquote a typical urban white-collar worker. The idea is that for the most part, regardless of where are from or what official language we read or speak, we all share this relatively overlooked language that a lot of us use on a daily basis.

We send a thumbs-up as affirmation, hearts to express love and comfort, and sad faces to offer sympathy. And although these are not official or formal ways of writing, you wouldn’t use them in a research paper or legal document or anything, but they are in their own way valid forms of communication.

 

Pilcrow Noir Scene #5

Pilcrow: as I walked her to her front door, I was overwhelmed with the desire to comfort her, to tell her everything would be okay.

          Ampersand: Stop that. Stop it right now.

           Pilcrow: I'm sorry about your friend.

Ampersand: oh, it's okay. If over sharing with strangers is what makes him happy, and it's not hurting anyone, then that's fine by me. Thank you Mr Pilcrow for helping me find him.

           Pilcrow: it's my job. But also, it was pleasure miss ampersand. (Pause) I think, this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Ampersand: don't say that. We really can't afford that line, copyright and all.

Pilcrow: are you sure? I'm pretty sure it must be in the public domain.

(Slow fade out audio)

Ampersand: Nope, we're gonna be sued.

Pilcrow: well, it's more of an homage anyway

Ampersand: I guess so. Look it up

Pilcrow: what do I search for?

Ampersand: try Hashtag casa...

 

INFORMATION ESSAY: CONCLUSION

 

KERI: I hope you enjoyed our time together through the magical world of punctuation. For further reading about punctuation, my recommended reading list is Shady Characters: The Secret Life of Punctuation, Symbols, and other Typographical Marks by Keith Houston, Making a Point: The Persnickety Story of English Punctuation by David Crystal, and Just My Type by Simon Garfield.

And for Books in the Wild’s soon-to-be-award-winning audio drama punctuation noir, the role of the hashtagging Octothorpe was played by Sean Cocca from Childhood Remastered podcast. Our yelly friend Interrobang was played by Reverand Jeff Kelley, host of the Squatchers Lounge Podcast. The bubbly Octopus emoji was played by Paul from The Varmints Podcast.  Poop emoji was played by Lafayette Kartchner. Birthday Cake and Ampersand were played by yours truly, and my mysterious and wonderful partner in crime Detective Pilcrow played himself. Music and sounds were sampled from Freemusicarchive or freesound.org, or if you can hear the sound of rabbits running around in the background, I probably recorded it myself. Thank you so much to fellow podcasters and friends Sean, Jeff, Paul, Lafayette, and Detective Pilcrow for lending your voices to this episode. I have links to everyone’s podcasts in the show notes, please check them out.

If you like what you hear, please rate and review us on itunes or stitcher, or you can send me an email at booksinthewildpodcast@gmail.com , or Instagram and facebook at booksinthewildpodcast, or just send smoke signals or maybe some homing pigeons. Whichever is your preferred method of communication – get in touch. Sometimes it’s nice to know that people are listening and I’m not just forcing people to act out the hypothetical voices for anthropromorphic punctuation marks for no reason.

Oh, and I am finally consolidating the reader notes and episode list so it’s all in one place at booksinthewild.com– I’m not really sure why I thought it would be less confusing to have them separate, but I have learned the error of my ways and the episodes have all the information including links to the reference materials, show notes, and now, full transcripts!  For those who might want such things, like if you want to read along with me for each episode. You can do that now. 

Hashtag Books in the Wild. Thank you again for listening.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Episode 5: The Sleeper Booklet Hoax

Reading List:

Literary Forgeries and Mystifications by Richard Landon

The Story of a Largely Unknown Evolution - Germ Theory Hoax

Inland Printer Volume 53

The Linnean Society of London

Note: I am still looking for more information about Lightface Celtic Typeface, George Washington Sleeper, and a complete readable copy of Shall We Have Common Sense! If anyone has any information on these topics, please contact me

Episode 4: A Commonplace Audiobook - Overcoming Creative Block

This episode takes the form of a "commonplace audiobook" - an mix-tape of inspiration to help overcome artist's block, ranging from information about the creative process, excerpts from interviews, music, and tips on overcoming creative block.

Reading List:

Commonplace Books

What is Creativity?

Creative Block

Music (in order of appearance in episode):

"The Cave" by Black Camaro
https://blackcamaro.bandcamp.com/

"Maligned" by The Residuels
http://www.residuels.com/

"Wildfire" by Hand Grenade Job
https://handgrenadejob.bandcamp.com/

Audio Clips:

A Conversation between Patti Smith and David Lynch

Wristcutters: A Love Story

Episode 3: Artist Talk by Julie Chen

Every Moment in a Book: Three Decades of Work by Julie Chen is now on view at the Allen Library Special Collections at University of Washington. On March 16th, a reception and artist talk was held and I was lucky enough to attend and record the momentous event. Listen to the artist talk here.

Notes and Links for the episode:

Episode 2: The Wipers Times

Reading List

 

WWI Glossary

Bully British canned corned beef. “Bully” is believed to be a corruption of the French bouillie meaning “boiled”, and due to the image of bulls depicted on the tin cans.

Cold Meat Ticket - Identity disc. Soldiers were issued two identity discs. In the event of death, one disc was taken from the body (the cold meat) and one remained.

Minnie - short for "Minenwerfer" (German for "mine launcher"), a class of short range mortars

No Man's Land - the area between the trenches of opposing forces

Sherwood Foresters - line infantry regiment of the British Army

Tommy- British soldier. Derived from Tommy Atkins, which, much like John Doe in the U.S., was a name on sample forms to represent a a typical British army private soldier.

Whizz-Bang - A high-velocity shell. Derived from the noise of the rapid flight and the explosion of a German 77mm shell.

Wipers – British soldiers' nickname for the city of Ypres, Belgium (“EE-pruh”)