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 Fine Line Between...

A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from

February 10, 2016 (permalink)

There's a fine line between Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor.  Can you spot the difference?
Both of them:
  1. wrote about Kubla Khan
  2. had romantic natures
  3. were Englishmen
  4. are known for musical rhythm
  5. displayed natural abilities
  6. were of frail health
  7. were instrumental in helping others find their own voices
  8. had "veins uncontaminated with one drop of Gentility"
  9. died too young
  10. continue to be popular

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December 26, 2015 (permalink)

"There's a fine line between my bubbly in class persona and my panicked inner monologue." —Audrey O'Connor, Lessons in Pure Life (2015)
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December 9, 2015 (permalink)

"People were all either masons or anti-masons," from The Story of New York by Elbridge Streeter Brooks, 1888.

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November 24, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a fine line from A Treastise on Painting by John Burnet, 1837.

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November 20, 2015 (permalink)

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November 13, 2015 (permalink)

"It’s very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present."
Edith Beale

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November 10, 2015 (permalink)

"There is a fine line between deciding on a direction for your painting and allowing it to take on a life of its own." —Debora Stewart, Abstract Art Painting (2015)

Art by June Yarham.
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October 17, 2015 (permalink)

"(there's sometimes a fine line between a weed and a coveted side dish)" —Jennifer A. Jordan, Edible Memory (2015)

"Edible Cobblestones (with growth)" by Omid Tavallai.
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October 8, 2015 (permalink)

The following quotation does not [technically] relate to the diagram: "The goal is to let the sense lines sing themselves by letting them ride on a line of breath that does not die out before the end of the thought has been reached.  Imagine an arrow of breath that you are directing to that target" (Kathleen A. Harmon, The Ministry of Cantors, 2004).  The diagram appears in Health in Home and Town by Bertha Millard Brown, 1912.

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September 6, 2015 (permalink)

It's a fine line Where Ghosts Walk by Marion Harland, 1898.

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August 1, 2015 (permalink)

There's a fine line between gold and tinsel.  From Thrilling Life Stories for the Masses, 1892.

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July 20, 2015 (permalink)

There's a fine line between a numerator and a denominator. —5,000 Sidesplitting Jokes and One-Liners

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March 15, 2015 (permalink)

There's a fine line between imaginary divisions, as we see in Dental Electro-Therapeutics, 1918.

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March 2, 2015 (permalink)


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February 6, 2015 (permalink)

"We have to tread a fine line between the poet and the poet's word, and between the saying and the said."
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January 6, 2015 (permalink)

"There can be a fine line between creative and nonsensical language."
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December 20, 2014 (permalink)

From My Northern Exposure: The Kawa At the Pole by Walter E. Traprock, 1922.  Thanks, Jonathan Caws-Elwitt!

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December 7, 2014 (permalink)

"I believe I was treading a fine line between being the helpful 'voice of reason' and being a harsh 'get it together and smell the coffee' voice of reality."
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December 6, 2014 (permalink)

"There is a fine line between being open and being tiresome."
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November 25, 2014 (permalink)

There's a fine line between circles of mystery and mystic elf sorcery.  [For Jim Girouard.]

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