by George Towner
In the summer of 1981, while driving to a camping weekend with my friend, Tod Wicks, I decided to start a magazine.
We had both been Mensa members for some time, and had enjoyed the odd arguments and off-the-wall articles that traditionally appeared in the San Francisco Mensa newsletter.* But with the local membership hitting 3,000, the newsletter had been forced to restrict itself to business and activity notices. The good parts—the palindromic limericks, discussions of human cloning, proposals to convert redwood trees into condominiums, and so on—were gone forever. The main purpose of the new magazine was to give this essential literary flotsam a permanent home.
Tod suggested we call the new magazine The Ecphorizer. The verb “ecphorize” occupies an honored place in the mythology of San Francisco Mensa. A truly obscure term, it had been lovingly dredged from the depths of the Oxford English Dictionary and inserted in the local by-laws, where the nominations committee was instructed to “ecphorize candidacy.” When the by-laws went to National Mensa for approval, they accused San Francisco Mensa of deliberate obfuscation. The local group stuck to its guns, and the battle raged for years.
The Ecphorizer started publishing monthly in September, 1981, with 152 subscribers. Its readership ultimately peaked at about 700. I edited it, off and on, through issue 70, which came out at the end of 1987.
*The San Francisco Regional Mensa Intelligencer, edited by Tod Wicks 1978-1981