The Benefits of Insanity

posted in: Uncategorized | 6

January 17th, 2013


Carl Leffler was a respected mathematician and professor at Columbia University when he was approached by a guy named Ed Lowe. It was the early 1930s and Ed was developing this game that he called ‘Beano’. He was having trouble coming up with different, random combinations of numbers that were a critical component of his new game. And seeing that Carl Leffler was a bit of a mathematics whiz, Ed asked for his help. He paid Carl up to $100 per number combination card, because Ed needed some 6,000 different card number combinations. Apparently, that’s a lot of numbers and this was way before the days of google algorithms. And yes, these numbers were important.


The numbers that Carl came up with are the numbers that established the game we all know and love: bingo.


Yes, bingo can singlehandedly be attributed to the hard work and dedication of Carl Leffler, a man so forgotten by history that he lacks a Wikipedia page. But that’s not the worst of it. Apparently after all of his hard work, Carl had a breakdown. Coming up with all those numbers and combinations took its toll on him, and as the story goes- he went insane.


But we don’t create for the sake of a Wikipedia page. So whether you get your bingo action at or at an underground bingo club, you have Carl and his insanity to thank for it.


Whatever skills or talents you have, use them until you lose your mind. We’ll all be thankful with the results. So let the world benefit from your insanity.




Also, if you’re in Chicago on Friday night, my good friend and artist Jim Joyce is the guest bingo caller for a Chicago ‘Zine Fest fundraiser. Check it out. Support the arts!

6 Responses

  1. Of course I had no idea. The more I know…. from Almost Bohemian. I feel really bad for Carl. Maybe we should make him a Wikipedia, just out of respect for one of my favorite games of all time. You do know that you are dating a Bingo enthusiast. I’m looking forward to diving in when we get back to the states. BINGO!!

    • Meg, I’m not surprised that you’d be all in on some underground bingo matches. I think it’s more your dedication to games and that I’m always the loser. You just like beating me. 🙂

  2. Thanks for the info! Been thinking about this on and off, how far we choose to go to achieve what we want. Going clinically insane may not be a worthy price to pay, but going artistically insane, departing from the norm and mainstream, now that is most always a worthy path to take. I’ve never regretted leaving the usual to do the unusual in pursuit of a dream. Antarctica, that was one I went insane for and I don’t regret it for a minute 🙂

  3. What is sanity where an obsessively wonderful dream is to be achieved? To hell with it I say and march on towards that goal!

  4. What a neat story! I think artists do have to be a little insane.

    A side note: I found my way here from a post Courtney Carver did back in 2011. It was a list of recommended blogs. You are the only one on the list who is still writing. Way to stick with it!!!

  5. Cool story. I think a little insanity is good for us in this crazy world. I’m not sure about full on insanity, but at least thinking different and not always following the crowd.

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