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THIS SITE could have a better name than mine with “dot com” tacked on to it. I had considered Ratiocinations Out Of Thin Air—and that would have been a great, if confusing, title. As were my other “creative” ideas. So we’re stuck with Neal Umphred Dot Com with “Ratiocinations Out Of Thin Air” as a sub-title. As someone once famous once said, “So it goes.” 1

For long-time readers who just wanna get to my latest rantings, click here: BLOG.

Either way, readers are confronted with two rather uncommon words (although alien has been used in reference to one of them): Umphred and ratiocination. The family name appears to be of Scottish origin, which explains why Laphoaig tasted like the water of life with my first sip!

Merriam-Webster defines ratiocination as “1. the process of exact thinking : reasoning; 2. a reasoned train of thought.” It derives from the Latin ratiocinationem (“a calm reasoning”) and ratiocinare (“to calculate, or to deliberate”). There is an adjectival form: ratiocinative. 2

Ratiocination is not taught at American schools at any level, it is not picked up osmotically, and our peers don’t pass it among themselves casually. Apparently, some people are born ratiocinators; others choose to learn to become ratiocinators. 3

You all knew I had to find a place for this photo, as it’s all the “personal branding” I’ve got out there on the wonderfully wacky worldwide web. I can admit that its is almost five years old, and since then I’ve lost my hair, my teeth, my knees, and my boyish waist. In their place, Wholly Grommett has made my sense of humor both drier and decidedly more ironic.

Babbling on and on and . . .

I intended the site to address issues that required me to ratiocinate my way through them, even if they were movie reviews or arguments on the misuse of the Designated Hitter in baseball or my crushes on Nicole Kidman and Marisa Tomei. Hopefully, my words would entice my readers to turn on their ratiocinators.

That is, I babble and learn, you listen and learn; hopefully, we both come out ahead.

And if you catch me saying something erroneous, let me know.

Please . . .

Introduction: photo of a kitten standing on its head.

The photo that greets you at the top of the homepage I call “Upsidedown Zen Kitty.” I found it on the Internet and purloined the image for some forgotten use. But I fell in love with the kitty and the photo and adopted it as this site’s totem. Unfortunately, I did not take down the name and address of the site from which I lifted it.

What’s in this introduction

I write about whatever catches my fancy. here are the categories on this site and what they include in a nutshell:

Art & Artists
I’m an art school dropout who could, at one time, draw rings around most other artists. Now I occasionally write about art.

Avid Record Collector
Most of the articles that originally appeared here on record collecting were transferred to my Rather Rare Records site.

Baseball Observations
Thoughts on the game.

Books & Authors
Book reviews.

One of my faveravest movies is Ron Shelton’s 1996 romantic comedy Tin Cup. While this poster certainly makes the film look like a ‘chick-flick,’ it’s actually more of a ‘buddy-flick.’ And despite the obvious romance between Kevin Costner and Rene Russo, she’s as much a buddy as a lover. And Don Johnson steals the movie as a self-absorbed arsehole

Comic Books
Most of the articles that originally appeared here on comics will be transferred to my The Endless Sixties site.

Funny and Possibly So
Mostly true (and usually humorous) stories from my mostly true (and occasionally humorous) life.

General Observations
Things that don’t fit into the other categories.

Movies & TV Shows
My views on movies and television shows, usually long-running series that I just binge-watched my way through.

My Poetry
Free verse from the cosmic consciousness.

Neal’s Rants
Mostly bitching and moaning, mostly about political.

Science Fiction & Fantasy
My favorite genre.

Strunkenwhiten It
On the use and misuse of grammar and punctuation.

James Clavell’s third novel, Shogun (Atheneum, 1975), occurred in early 17th century Japan. Chronologically, it was the first in his series of six “Asian novels” that spanned five centuries and two related families. Shogun was the best selling of the six books with worldwide sales approaching 20,000,000!

My books (so far)

There are eight articles on this site explaining the various books I published for record collectors. These posts provide additional background information on me and my career. They are best read in the following order, which is roughly chronological:

1. O’Sullivan Woodside’s Rock & Roll Record Albums Price Guide
2. O’Sullivan Woodside’s Elvis Presley Record Price Guide
3. Goldmine’s Price Guide to Collectible Record Albums (1st edition)
4. Goldmine’s Price Guide to Collectible Record Albums (5th edition)
5. Goldmine’s Rock’n Roll 45RPM Record Price Guide
6. Goldmine’s Price Guide to Collectible Jazz Albums
7.  A Touch Of Gold – Elvis Record & Memorabilia Price Guide
8. Blues and R&B 45s of the ’50s Price Guide

FEATURED IMAGE: The photo at the top of this page is of a confrontation between antiwar demonstrators and the National Guard in 1967. Taken by Barry Boston, it is one of the quintessential “Sixties” images ever taken. Coincidentally, if you showed this photo to people who knew me in the early ’70s, they might think that the young man with the blond hair and flowers was me.


1   I did use Ratiocination Out Of Thin Air as a subtitle for this site a while.

2   There are two pronunciations for ratiocination: one has a soft ‘t’ sound (ra-shē-ˈō-sə-ˌnāt), while the other has a hard ‘t’ sound (ra-tē-ˈō-sə-ˌnāt). I prefer the former. (To hear the pronounciations, click here.)

3   Merriam-Webster includes this interesting historical and literary tidbit under its entry for ratiocination:

“Edgar Allan Poe is said to have called the 1841 story The Murders in the Rue Morgue his first ‘tale of ratiocination.’ Many today agree with his assessment and consider that Poe classic to be the world’s first detective story. Poe didn’t actually use ‘ratiocination’ in Rue Morgue, but the term does appear three times in its 1842 sequel, The Mystery of Marie Roget. The second tale is based on an actual murder, and as the case unfolded after the publication of Poe’s work, it became clear that his fictional detective had done an amazing job of reasoning through the crime.

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