ecphorize vb trans [fr. Gr. εκφοροσ (to be) made known]  To evoke ideas or dispositions from a latent to a manifest state. cf. OED


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 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. John Cumming edited issues 24 through 37 and Dick Amyx edited 38 through 44. During these periods I took time off to go traveling in Africa and Eastern Europe. Lots of other people labored to make the magazine work, both contributors and production staffers. By 1987 I was married and had started a family; a number of new occupations began to fill my life. So The Ecphorizer found a new home with Mike Eager, who edits it today*.

One perk of editing a magazine is that you can submit your own work and not worry about getting a rejection slip. I started writing a variety of articles, both casual and serious, for the enjoyment of seeing myself in print. This was also the period during which I adopted technical writing as a career. The Ecphorizer turned out to be a fine place to hone my skills.

As the years pass, old copies of The Ecphorizer are increasingly harder to come by. Like every author, I hate to go out of print. So in this little book I have gathered essentially all my contributions to the magazine—fifty pieces in all. The magic of desk-top publishing is preserving my œuvre for all who may want to read it. If you are interested in technical details of the book’s production, see “About This Book,”on the last page.

This book contains six sections. “Travel Narratives” relates a few incidents that happened during trips in Asia, Africa, and Europe. “Opinions, Theories, and Whimsy” are just that—an olla podrida of notions that occurred to me from time to time. “Mensa Pastiches” includes several exercises in literary style, all centered around the theme of mythical Mensa chapters and their doings. “Personal Notes” adds a half-dozen pieces that don’t fit anywhere else. Finally, “The Writing Game” and “The Computer Biz” present fairly serious articles about my current vocation—programming computers and writing technical literature for them.

So here are my ecphorizations. I enjoyed writing them, and hope you have as much fun reading them.


Sunnyvale, CA
January, 1993


* Mike Eager edited The Ecphorizer until about 1997, when Rob Baker of Sacramento (California) Mensa and Paul Gregson took over production.  Unfortunately interest, contributions, and subscribers waned to the point that the print version of The Ecphorizer eventually died in 2001, about the time that I started the ball rolling with an online version.


Tod Wicks
May, 2007