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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Colorful Allusions

Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In these rebus-style puzzles, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.

Today — May 31, 2016 (permalink)

What do "fifty shades of grey" have to do with the Wizard of Oz?  One might think that in the Oz spectrum, ruby (slipper) is connected to emerald (city) by yellow (brick road).  However, there are actually fifty shades of grey between ruby and emerald.  (Spoiler: it's the fifty shades of Toto's coat of many colors.)

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May 11, 2016 (permalink)

Here's the difference between red days, white days, and blue days, from Salem College's Sights and Sounds yearbook, 1918.  (For some unbelievably weird yearbook imagery, see our How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.)

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March 25, 2016 (permalink)

"Flat tint colors. . . to dramatize you."  Scanned by the Boston Public Library.

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March 3, 2016 (permalink)

The illustrations in Passages in the Life of Blue Beard (1872) feature hand-tinted blue beards.

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February 21, 2016 (permalink)

"The beams and pulses of the colored lights allowed us to see what was going on but not reconstruct it in our minds.  This is the astute discovery such night spots have made." César Aira (as translated by Katherine Silver), The Literary Conference

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February 8, 2016 (permalink)

Forget whether or not an artificially propagated rainbow trout will lead to an empty pot of gold.  Forget whether or not "A rainbow is a rainbow.  A striped perch is a striped perch" (as purported by Monkeyface News).  Celebrate only that a book about rainbow trout was penned by a seagull.

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January 22, 2016 (permalink)

From L'Arche de Noé by Paul Guigou and Auguste Vimar, 1909.

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November 17, 2015 (permalink)

A detail of a photo by G. Meyer.

There's an ancient Shinto koan (and nevermind that "Shinto koan" is a Googlewhack): "What are the colors of the cones?"  (Even before traffic cones, conical stalagmites sported white, red, orange, and black coloration from iron and other deposits.  Our colored traffic cones are like distant memories of our cave-dwelling ancestors.)  What the koan is getting at, of course, is that what we call colors are merely words; while lightwaves have objective properties, color is not one of them but rather is created subjectively by one's brain.

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November 8, 2015 (permalink)

The mysterious color "Dr. Q. Drab" turns out to be a Googlewhack!  From Painters' Mixing Manual & Sample Book, 1895.

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October 29, 2015 (permalink)

"Rushing to the door he wrenched it open, and plunged forward into a red vacancy," from Ghosts, Being the Experiences of Flaxman Low by Kate O'Brien Prichard and illustrated by B. E. Minns, 1899.

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October 16, 2015 (permalink)

Here are the colors of "Charles B. Stilz, President," which we acquired from nine ink stamped signatures in the Journals of the Common Council of the City of Indianapolis, 1912.

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October 8, 2015 (permalink)

Thanks to poet William Keckler for saying, "Craig Conley's web incarnation, with its meta-dance moves, can always take me from a blue funk to a pink tipsiness in a matter of minutes."

Photo courtesy of Neal Fowler.
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September 24, 2015 (permalink)

The colors combine into a six-pointed ghostly star.  From The Principles of Light and Color by Edwin Dwight Babbitt, 1878.

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August 14, 2015 (permalink)

You knew that a rainbow can cast a shadow, but did you know that a shadow can also cast a rainbow?  We find the proof in Ceylon in the “Jubilee Year” by John Ferguson, 1887.

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August 8, 2015 (permalink)

"I see that the whole world looks gray," from St. Nicholas magazine, 1909.

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July 1, 2015 (permalink)

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May 30, 2015 (permalink)

"'What is it?' he gasped.  'I see something like blood—some crimson cord—a note—a—."  From Thrilling Stories for the Masses, 1892.

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May 18, 2015 (permalink)

Did you know that the collective noun for glitter is apparently "library"?  "Ah, the glamour of the literary life!" —Jonathan Caws-Elwitt

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April 26, 2015 (permalink)

"You are my very lost, precious 'Snowflake.'"  From Thrilling Life Stories for the Masses, 1892.  But as comedian Lewis Black reminds us, "We are all like snowflakes."

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April 22, 2015 (permalink)

The aurora flashed crimson in The Icelander's Sword by Sabine Baring-Gould, 1894.

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