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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I Found a Penny Today, So Here’s a Thought

Today — February 24, 2018 (permalink)

Shall we accept the universe?  From Accepting the Universe by John Burroughs, 1920.
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February 22, 2018 (permalink)

Here's an address from The Flint Heart by Eden Phillpotts, 1910.
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February 21, 2018 (permalink)

It was either this or Opera with a Telescope (for those fifth balcony seats).  Astronomy with an Opera-glass by Garrett Putman Serviss, 1895.
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February 15, 2018 (permalink)

"It depends what you play for, fun or money."  From The Idler, 1894.
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February 14, 2018 (permalink)

Here's our anagram for Valentine's Day.  (We had hoped that "put the saint back in Valentine's day" would be a Googlewhack, but there are 26 results for that phrase.)
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"How sleep comes is riddle of conflicting theories."  From Popular Mechanics, 1934.
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February 4, 2018 (permalink)

"The portrait of our father or our mother is a sort of crystal ball into which we look in the hope of discovering our destiny."  From The Collected Works of George Moore, 1918.
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February 3, 2018 (permalink)

"As is well known, women and birds are able to see without turning their heads, and that is indeed a necessary provision, for they are both surrounded by enemies."  From The Demi-gods by James Stephens, 1921.
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February 2, 2018 (permalink)

This old Moorish house in the tropics was destroyed by two hurricanes, but what remains is beyond bizarre. Like some sort of wizard's museum, every wall features strange niches protected by antique iron grates, containing things like bottled ghosts, imprisoned gargoyles, hoodoo shrines, haunted radios, and crystal balls. Plus, one of the great secrets of alchemy is hidden in plain view.

Part One of our urbex adventure is here:
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"The rats were wronged, the wind was slandered—both were innocent; in a word, the house was haunted!"  From "The Haunted Chamber" in Hogg's Weekly Instructor, 1846.
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February 1, 2018 (permalink)

The Popular Mechanics headline writer put the word magic in quotations, though other headlines about so-called scientific wizardry and miracles don't feature quotation marks.  "Indian medicine men still practice 'magic' among Canadian tribes."  From Popular Mechanics, 1934.
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January 25, 2018 (permalink)

The entrance of the fairy cat in Whittington and His Cat, 1845.
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January 23, 2018 (permalink)

Though these words apply eerily to a crystal ball, J. Milton Sanders is actually referring to a drop of water in The Crystal Sphere, Its Forces and Its Beings, 1857.  "Agencies are seen—like winged spirits of infinite power, each one working in its own peculiar way, and all to a common end—to produce, under the guidance of Omnipotent rule, the sheen of the midnight stars."
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January 22, 2018 (permalink)

"He had moods of mystery and dreaming and he wrote about very unusual things."  From Teaching, 1919.
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From Echoes of Life and Death by William Ernest Henley, 1908.
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January 19, 2018 (permalink)

As with a joke, if you have to explain the title, it's no good.  (However, we like this one all the same.)  From 1888.
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January 16, 2018 (permalink)

"There at last he was free and forever from those halls hung with enigmas, tapestried with tears, before which the sphinx in fight gallops like a jackal."  The final line in The Ghost Girl by Edgar Saltus, 1922.
Eerily, this passage seems to describe our very own sanctum!
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January 15, 2018 (permalink)

Here's the answer to how much it costs to get an ancestral spirit to lend tone to a place.  "It depends."  From "Uncle's Ghost" by Owen Oliver, in The London Magazine, 1902.
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January 11, 2018 (permalink)

There's a good argument for it -- "Say nothing to anybody."  From The Idler, 1894.
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January 6, 2018 (permalink)

Here's a royal scribble we noticed in the book Self Control, Its Kingship and Majesty by William George Jordan, 1905.
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