CRAIG CONLEY (Prof. Oddfellow) is recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation.” He has been called a “language fanatic” by Page Six gossip columnist Cindy Adams, a “cult hero” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “a true Renaissance man of the modern era, diving headfirst into comprehensive, open-minded study of realms obscured or merely obscure” by Clint Marsh. An eccentric scholar, Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size. Conley’s website is
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Magic Words
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
Go Out in a Blaze of Glory

November 5, 2017 (permalink)

Here's Milwaukee as a giant candle taller than Chicago.  From Popular Mechanics, 1933.
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November 4, 2017 (permalink)

We're honored that our Magic Words: A Dictionary is cited in the thesis The Necromantic Magic Circle by Mamon de Beijer (2017).
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October 27, 2017 (permalink)

Quimby's Bookstore NYC knows that some books are best lit by a cloven-footed lamp.  Owner Steven Svymbersky writes: "Just got in a fine selection of the esoteric and amusing books by Prof. Oddfellow.  Special."

In the second photo, our display table is on the right.

This fine indie bookstore welcomes heart-clicks over at Instagram:

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October 23, 2017 (permalink)

Northern lights from London Bridge.  From Popular Mechanics, 1927.
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October 8, 2017 (permalink)

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August 22, 2017 (permalink)

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August 13, 2017 (permalink)

Alice Owls writes:
i love your blog description*--playful yet deep and intellectually curious--and the content is endlessly weird and fun and insightful. you're so interesting!
*I am an Attendant of the Borgesian Circulating Depository. Duties: 1. honoring visionary ancients who were centuries or millennia before their time; 2. tilting the game board so as to cast everything in a new light; 3. celebrating allegory and metaphor as scenic shortcuts to wisdom; 4. discovering the macrocosm in the microcosm; 5. measuring non-material forces which nonetheless carry weight (Umberto Eco); 6. tracking extraordinary tempests in mundane teacups; 7. finding mystical analogues to scientific breakthroughs—putting the super into the natural, the other into the worldly, the meta into the physical, the para into the normal, the magical into realism; 8. puzzling over hidden, deeper meaning; 9. carrying the key, even when the lock has been lost; 10. identifying archetypes at play; 11. studying the legend, even when the map is blank; 12. searching through the deepest shadows for the bright light that cast them; 13. delving into the unfathomable in wordless awe of the inexplicable; 14. photographing background images for the insides of mystery boxes; 15. offering the inscrutable its due scrutiny; 16. endowing branches of Borgesian catacombs; 17. diagramming the sacred syllables in the mumbo jumbo; 18. believing as many as six impossible things before breakfast; 19. building 3D models of M.C. Escher's visual illusions; 20. crafting something out of nothing; 21. designing floor plans for memory palaces; 15. plundering cultural detritus; 16. bringing warmth to fuzzy logic; 17. looking through trompe l'oeil windows; 18. freeing radicals; 19. centering on marginalia; 20. navigating the ocean that roars within the seashell; 21. making the past perfect and the future less tense; 22. seeking a grand unification of hard science, soft science, and ethereal science; 23. resisting the belligerence of ignorance; 24. erecting signs on dotted lines; 25. taking a stand for poetic justice; 26. tracing constellations in the starry-eyed; 27. fighting to cure anhedonia; 28. getting in stitches over how many angels can dance on the point of a needle; 29. exploring intangible powers, from those celebrated by the world's great religions to square roots to the literary tradition (Umberto Eco); 30. directing good brain power to fanciful ends.

"It is the custom here that we go just a little beyond, that we consider each direction with the possibilities of madness and its grand, all-inclusive theatrics, where even minor dreams are worth their weight in gold, when balanced against the darkness out of which they have gestated and taken their cues from the fiercest and loveliest of all the animals." —J. Karl Bogartte
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July 18, 2017 (permalink)

We were delighted to see our very own How to Be Your Own Cat safely ensconced in a sheltered home library in England.  It sits alongside The Unadulterated Cat, Perfect Little Cats, Little Kitten Book, and A Cat Compendium: The Worlds of Louis Wain.  Photo courtesy of Aspidistra-Obscura.
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July 13, 2017 (permalink)

The Twinkling Effort of a Falling Star, to Relieve the Cheshire Full Moon, From Those Clouds, Obesities and Excrescencies, Which Deprive a Most Valuable Part of the Creation of Her Beneficial Light by James Gatliff, 1820.
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July 6, 2017 (permalink)

We're honored that Prof. Larry Hass (author of Transformations), speaking over at McBride Magic TV, said that our work "really changes you as you read it."  Dr. Hass was introducing our video clip on how to find your own magic word, even if you're a skeptic.

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June 29, 2017 (permalink)

We're honored by citations of two of the college textbooks we wrote.  Our Human Diversity, A Guide for Understanding is cited in Multicultural Counseling: Context, Theory and Practice, and Competence by Jerry Trusty et al.  Our Diverse Learners in the Classroom is cited in Preparing for College: Practical Advice for Students and Their Families by John J. Rooney & John F. Reardon.
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June 25, 2017 (permalink)

We're honored that our book Setting Career Goals is citied in Common Core Curriculum: English, Grades K-5.

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June 23, 2017 (permalink)

Gordon spotted our book on Astragalomancy in the "Outer Limits" section of Quimby's Bookstore.
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June 22, 2017 (permalink)

We're honored for our Magic Words: A Dictionary to be citied in The Magic of Language and the Language of Magic, a Master's thesis by Michael Macrae Enciso Edmiston, San Diego State University.
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June 13, 2017 (permalink)

"Renaud de Montauban rises from his bier."  From Chivalry by Léon Gautier, 1891.
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June 9, 2017 (permalink)

Gordon spotted our Heirs to the Queen of Hearts: Tracing Magical Genealogy in the "Outer Limits" section of Quimby's Bookstore, next to Hearsay: Artists Reveal Urban Legends and right above Creepy Krampus.
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May 25, 2017 (permalink)

We're honored by two (new to us) reviews of our work over at HubPages, in an article about "Books You'll Actually Use":
Craig Conley, bless him, has given us plenty of literary treats - but his Magic Words: A Dictionary is one of the excellentest.  The entries are essay-style, so they're fun to read (like I would ever recommend anything that wasn't), and feature words and symbols from around the world - each with its own etymology, as well as mythical, historical, and cultural background. Illustrations of symbols and icons are included where applicable. Bippity boppity boo.
Puzzling Portmeirion: An Unconventional Guide to a Curious Destination, by one Mr. Craig Conley (author of Magic Words, featured above), is a remarkably creative and inspiring new approach to travel guides. Can't stand all the bloggers trying to market themselves as "travel writers" of the same freaking places, over and over and over? Or perhaps you're one of this sorry pack and are looking to break free of the rut? This book will set you down right on the path to revolution! YEE FREAKING HAW.
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May 22, 2017 (permalink)

A fire diver from Popular Mechanics, 1923.
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May 15, 2017 (permalink)

From I Wish I Were Engulfed in Flames by Jeni Decker, 2012.
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May 14, 2017 (permalink)

We're honored by the latest review of our highly unusual guide to tracing one's weirdest ancestors, Heirs to the Queen of Hearts:
A delightful collage of carefully curated quotes, relevant and whimsical illustrations plucked right out of history, and thought-provoking original prose, Heirs to the Queen of Hearts made me laugh out loud regularly, gave me old-fashioned practical advice as well as avant-garde practical advice, and echoed many sentiments that had been kicking around in my head. It was an excellent source of new perspectives as well as a fine reinforcement of perspectives I already held, but appreciated some confirmation of. A breezy and approachable read, Heirs to the Queen of Hearts nonetheless packs plenty of punch in the conceptual arena, and is absolutely a purchase well worth your time and money. —K.G.
You may recall our 3-minute proof that you are related to Merlin:
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