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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The Young Wizard's Hexopedia
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Breathing Circle
Music Box Moment
Cautious or Optimistic
King of Hearts of War and Peace
As I Was, As I Am
Perdition Slip
Loves Me? Loves Me Not?
Wacky Birthday Form
Test Your ESP
Chess-Calvino Dictionary
Is Today the Day?
100 Ways I Failed to Boil Water
"Follow Your Bliss" Compass
"Fortune's Navigator" Compass
Inkblot Oracle
Luck Transfer Certificate
Eternal Life Coupon
Honorary Italian Grandmother E-card
Simple Answers


A Fine Line Between...
A Rose is a ...
Always Remember
Annotated Ellipses
Apropos of Nothing
Book of Whispers
Call it a Hunch
Colorful Allusions
Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up?
Disguised as a Christmas Tree
Don't Take This the Wrong Way
Everybody's Doing This Now
Forgotten Wisdom
Glued Snippets
Go Out in a Blaze of Glory
Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore
How to Believe in Your Elf
I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought
Images Moving Through Time
Indubitably (?)
Inflationary Lyrics
It Bears Repeating
It's Really Happening
Last Dustbunny in the Netherlands
Miscellanies of Mr. Jonathan
Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led
No News Is Good News
Non-Circulating Books
Nonsense Dept.
Not Rocket Science
Oldest Tricks in the Book
On One Condition
One Mitten Manager
Only Funny If ...
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Peace Symbols to Color
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Tic Tac Toe Story Generator
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Rhetorical Questions, Answered!
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Staring at the Sun
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Suddenly, A Shot Rang Out
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The 40 Most Meaningful Things
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The Only Certainty
The Right Word
This May Surprise You
This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
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.

April 25, 2017 (permalink)

Before orange was the new black, gray was the official white.  From Popular Mechanics, 1932.
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April 20, 2017 (permalink)

From Die Muskete, 1919.
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March 18, 2017 (permalink)

"Clad in cerulean blue, pawing at his things," from Wayside Tales, 1906.
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February 25, 2017 (permalink)

From an ad for Buckingham's Dye for the Whiskers, c. 1890.
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February 15, 2017 (permalink)

You don't have to be wearing rose-colored glasses to get hit senseless by a rose-colored bat.  From Cartoons Magazine, 1920.
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January 7, 2017 (permalink)

We're having trouble finding any "pink pussycat" references earlier than the 1960s, but here's a pink pussycat from a 1938 issue of Die Muskete.  This should also be of interest: How to Be Your Own Cat.
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December 29, 2016 (permalink)

"I can only say, that book, readers, and author, ought all of them to continue in the dark."  From the red preface of Archery and Archness by Robin Hood, 1834.  [We previously saw why this preface is all in red.]
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November 29, 2016 (permalink)

Here's an example of "the creation of mystery in the lighting of open courts," from the Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences, 1917.
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October 28, 2016 (permalink)

Since so few prefaces are actually read, this preface is at least red.  From Archery and Archness by Robin Hood, 1834.
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September 27, 2016 (permalink)

Here's an example of how "steam cauldrons and fiery serpent flambeaux" in addition to "the happy effect of orange colored cloister lanterns" and "flaring gas and ruby steam cauldrons and torches on the tower" heighten the feeling of mystery in a courtyard at night.  From the Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences, 1917.  It's "a section of the Court of Abundance, showing the organ tower and Aitken fountain."
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September 19, 2016 (permalink)

From c. 1890.
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September 5, 2016 (permalink)

"The world is more vast than printers' ink can illustrate" (said The Wilkes-Barre Record in 1892), and apparently Bell Telephone Magazine concurred in 1972.
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August 31, 2016 (permalink)

Here's an example of "the creation of mystery in the lighting of open courts," from the Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences, 1917.  The "third dimension in light" is achieved through a combination of white flood light and color relief light.  The scintillator and fireworks were approximately one-third of a mile in the background."
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August 29, 2016 (permalink)

The colors of "any reasonable rainbow" include "white for inside and outside."  From c. 1890.
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August 18, 2016 (permalink)

Scanned by the San Diego Air & Space Museum Archives.
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June 12, 2016 (permalink)

The Top Ten Unpaintable Blues:
The far mountains of Bertraghboy Bay, Ireland.
"In the intense cold of late evening the further shores of Bertraghboy Boy seemed to catch and hold the last of the sunlight, the seawrack below high-water line glowing orange, the walled fields above burnished green, the far mountains an unpaintable blue." (The Crying of the Wind)
The New Mexico desert sky.
"I awoke in the desert of New Mexico to behold golden sand, golden grass, green-gold sage brush, golden wastes, vast, craggy, creviced, cliff-sided buttes rising turret-like, a wide domain bounded by purple mountains and unpaintable blue sky." (Robert Jackson, Montreal Gazette)
Twilight in the California desert.
"Strewn from the western desert's wild wings across the unpaintable blue of the twilight sky stream rose-red pennants, tender yet resplendent—not the washed out hue of other sunset skies but the soul satisfying glory of color the desert sky alone can show." (The Desert and the Rose)
The mountains of Moab.
"The intense blue belt of water beyond, terminating in the clear, soft tones of the indescribable, unpaintable blue mountains of Moab." (Excavations at Jerusalem, 1894-1897)
The shore of ancient Kamiros, Rhodes.
"You look down from the central plinth across a winding main street backed by the taut hard unpaintable blue of the sea, and the smoky chunks of the Turkish mainland." (Spirit of Place: Letters and Essays on Travel)
The Azorean ocean.
"Then there is the intense blue of the Ocean.  I have never seen such deep, completely unpaintable blue before.  It is so different from the opaque grayish waves that hit the coast of Holland." (Pieter Adriaans, "Painting on the Azores")
Someone other than Brittany's irises.
"She can't see any tiger gold or unpaintable blue in Brittany's irises." ("Full Moon on a Sunday Night," Part One)
The sky over Portland, Oregon.
"The air is crisp and the sky is unpaintable blue." (Scott Conary)
The blue sky anywhere.
"Ruskin says that a blue sky is unpaintable — blue fire he calls it, and unpaintable — and yet Australians cannot accept this." (Plein Airs and Graces: The Life and Times of George Collingridge)
The Huxtable kitchen.
"[I]n all its badly-hung, unpaintable, powder-blue glory."  (Andy Peters)
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June 1, 2016 (permalink)

Even when it comes to colors, what's "normal" tends to be a gray area.  From A Class-Book of Color by Mark Maycock, 1895.
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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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Original Content Copyright © 2018 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.