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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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.

March 24, 2015 (permalink)

"Even if you can't face the music or find it in you, carry a tune with you." —Bob Ripley

Our illustration appears in The Choice Works of Thomas Hood, 1881.

March 22, 2015 (permalink)

An illustration by Walter Frame for St. Nicholas magazine, 1912.

March 16, 2015 (permalink)

From the Kaleidoscope yearbook of Hampden-Sydney College, 1910.

February 27, 2015 (permalink)

In other words, lay bare your agony moderately slowly with loving expression.  Lyric by William Smyth (1765-1849).

February 24, 2015 (permalink)

In other words, lay bare your agony moderately slowly with loving expression.

February 19, 2015 (permalink)

We're pleased to debut a clockwork remix of a song by Jim Girouard entitled "We're Almost There."  Before the invention of MIDI, programmed music required meticulously timed Grandfather clocks, and every performance ticked at 60 bpm. In the tradition of the original "old school," this clockwork remix features vintage timepieces. The original song features the line, "There's a light in the church up the road ahead, in a place where the living meet the dead."  You can hear the original vocal/guitar version here:

February 18, 2015 (permalink)

"Music: the most sonic of all the dark arts."  That's comedian and recording artist Matt Berry in the second series of Vic and Bob's House of Fools.

Here's an illustration of sound waves from Practical Physics by Robert Millikan, 1922.

February 16, 2015 (permalink)

"The [threefold] rays of the bright polar star" (from Lachin y Gair by Lord Byron).

February 15, 2015 (permalink)

February 13, 2015 (permalink)

Some musical notation from Femmes Vengées, Ou Les Feintes Infidelites by François-André Danican Philidor, 1775.

January 3, 2015 (permalink)

A flourish of trumpets from The Man in the Moon, Volume V.

December 12, 2014 (permalink)

From The Nightingale by Richard André, 1899.

November 15, 2014 (permalink)

"The goslings of melody," from The New Hyperion by Edward Strahan, 1875.

September 27, 2014 (permalink)

"The Eldest Generosity girl bounces about a good deal on the music stool and plays wrong notes maliciously."  From The Money-Spinner by Henry Seton Merriman and illustrated by Arthur Rackham, 1896.

September 12, 2014 (permalink)

An illustration from The Nightingale Dished Up on China Plates by Richard Andre (1899).

September 9, 2014 (permalink)

Sometimes folderol can use a good whack, as we see in this line from 1823.

August 6, 2014 (permalink)

Voice talent Jonathan Caws-Elwitt (of Silly Pillows fame) offers this mad-as-a-hatter rendition of our song about one-letter words (along with a few clever verses of his own). Give it a listen and we can compare laughs!

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt as the Statue of Frivolity.
"One-Letter Words”

One-letter words,
oh what I'd give for
a de-cluttered phrase.

To hear those
one letter words,
that's all I'd live for
the rest of my days.

And the feelings in my heart,
they tell sincerely.
No other words can tell it
half so clearly.

One-letter words,
twenty-six letters
which simply mean 'I love you.'

One-letter words.
Though I may stutter
or sound quite verbose,

I use those
one letter words,
lest I should utter
a phrase grandiose.

And the feelings in my heart,
they tell sincerely.
No other words can tell it
half so clearly.

One-letter words,
six vowels for vowing
my unfettered love for you.

One-letter words:
Compact concordance
To passions so strong

I can find no better words
Hence the importance
Of singing along!

And though the lingo of my love
Is alphabetic
Don’t ever think that I am

One-letter words
Words of one letter
That spell out my love for you!

June 30, 2014 (permalink)

An illustration from Past, Present and Future by James E. White (1909).

June 29, 2014 (permalink)

"The Real Music of the Future": an illustration from an 1888 issue of Punch magazine.  The caption reads: "Signor Fohhorni, the Great Hibernian Basso-Tenore Robusto-Profondo, is so disgusted at the frivolity of contemporary musical taste (which is not ripe enough to appreciate him), that he gives up all attempts to please the present generation: he buys a phonograph instead, and devotes his energies to singing for posterity.  By applying his ear to this marvellous instrument immediately after signing into it, he not only hears his song echoed back to him out of the dim future, but he also hears the rapturous applause of Unborn Millions!"

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