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 OneLetterWords.com.
1 1/2 cups organic granulated demerara or turbinado sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Optional: 1 cup finely chopped spiced nuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil and flour two 9-inch baking pans. Combine all ingredients into a large bowl (except optional nuts), and mix well on low. Then mix on high until sugar is dissolved. Fold in optional spiced nuts, and pour into pans. Bake 40 to 50 minutes. When the cakes have cooled, frost them with your favorite sour cream icing.
We have painstakingly curated 52 lost meanings of wedlock, one to inspire each week of an engagement. Why lost meanings? The definition of "marriage" has become hotly debated of late, to the point that the word has become "increasingly unmentionable" (Catholic Herald) or even "has no meaning at all" (Family Policy Institute). It's been said that only through loss can there be gain, that only through loss can we truly grow and understand what is at stake, that only through loss can that which is beautiful be found. As the poet Joseph August has noted, "Only through loss can we glimpse the deepest meanings, / hints and flashes whispered from below / elucted as from underwater, deep." The collected lost meanings of wedlock might surprise even those who would otherwise be considered well-informed.
Our favorite depiction of Stygian ferryman Charon is in the song "Sirens, No Harbour" by Sweden's Henric de la Cour. The opening lines reveal that the speaker has entered the netherworld, and though it is not immediately clear, the speaker does not yet realize that he is dead:
I came through
I came through
I heard my name
on the wind.
And here we're introduced to Charon, who is the epitome of friendliness:
Please come aboard
my humble vessel.
I will take you across
this troubled sea.
But it's Charon's safety spiel that we most appreciate, like an airline's "In the event of a water landing" instructions. He is gently, indirectly suggesting that something will happen to his passenger, to help his passenger come to terms with having expired:
"I had forgotten everything. The same system that created my thoughts took charge of erasing them, turning them into sinuous white strips that reached across every level. How can there be so much amnesia in a single lifetime? Isn't this a point in favor of the theory of reincarnation?" —César Aira (as translated by Katherine Silver), The Literary Conference
"Switter, eh? The fools!" Here the villain in Kanpai Senshi After V plans to use his evil powers to generate a barrage of inane tweets on Twitter, like "This guy just won't tell me his name," "I got dizzy when I stood up from my chair," "I peed a little from sneezing," and "Was out for a walk and someone thought I was loitering." If you fled Twitter like we did, let's all just blame the evil "Commander," as portrayed by Saiki Shigeru.
This app is based upon a telepathy test that the Official Prisoner Appreciation Society commissioned us to design back in 2008. In the episode of The Prisoner entitled "The Schizoid Man," actor Patrick McGoohan uses a special deck of symbol cards to test Extra Sensory Perception. That deck is similar but not identical to the Zener cards made famous by parapsychologist J. B. Rhine in the 1930s. We created an exact replica of the prop deck to the delight of the Society, but as fate had it the cards never went into print.
Spin the dial at every crossroad and let Fate lead your journey. This four-tiered oracle suggests which direction to turn and alerts to special circumstances along the way. Try it when wandering a botanical garden for the first time, or if you find yourself lost, or if you wish to lose yourself.
The three little words "follow your bliss," by the great mythologist Joseph Campbell, teach a profound lesson in tapping the energy that makes you tick. But how to begin? Start using the Follow Your Bliss Compass to put yourself on the right track. You'll soon start becoming mindful of the blissful energy within you and will begin using it to make empowering changes in your life. Following your bliss is always a real adventure—a journey into the uncharted center of yourself.
We've been working on this for six years, and it's finally perfected: a Cloud Busting app.
No one can predict the weather, but at least now you can control it. They said our blue-sky research wasn't practical, but with this CloudBuster app you can dissolve any clouds you wish and clear the way for a better day. Out of respect to farmers and others who depend upon rainfall, please don't perform cloud busting in drought-prone areas.
"There are more stories than could be read in a single lifetime. And even if you, dear reader, began reading, by the time you read even a fraction of them, the meanings of the previous stories would have changed. . . . Now all we need to create is more time, more memory, and a few more infinite readers like you."
"Everyone carries a TRAIN about inside of him. Sitting across the table from someone, when all is quiet, sometimes you can hear the whistle blow."
"We were SNAKES. Around us the jungle sighed. A woman offered us fruit. We ate and knew that we were not naked, nor human. She and her companion left. We remained."
"If you were walking across a barren plain and had an honest intention of walking on, then it would be a desperate matter, but you are flying, gliding and diving, SOARING and swooping, high above the plain, which, seen from above, is a tiny blot on a vast and various landscape."
We were surprised to encounter the Zen game we invented, Moon Fish Ocean, described in a novel entitled The Woman Who Woke Up In The Zen Forest, by Martin Avery (2010). Perhaps a footnote might be in order for the next edition, Mr. Avery? ;-) Otherwise, glad to see that the game is inspirational!
We forgot to mention that we're delighted to be referenced three times in Paul Carter's acclaimed Parrot, "a roller-coaster ride through parrots in literature, jokes, folklore, mythology, film, TV and children’s stories worldwide, as well as an examination of parrot conservation" and why humanity's future rests in how we engage with parrots.
We encountered these books one after the other today — wild animals described by a Wolf alongside Hawkes' tenants of the trees. We've seen enough examples like these to wonder whether a career could possibly be shaped by one's name, as in that meme about how a disproportionate number of dentists are named Dennis. Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry from Forbes tries to bah-humbug the fun by countering the report in the New Republic, saying: "Even if it were true that there were more dentists called Dennis, there would still be no evidence for having the name Dennis causing people to become dentists." Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry doesn't address what exactly caused him to write about probability over a career in dentistry, and we wouldn't dream of mentioning that another fellow named Pascal just so happened to have founded the theory of probabilities.
Warhol star Holly Woodlawn's fifteen minutes of fame were more like two seconds. In her obituary, she is quoted as saying, "Little did I realize that not only would there be no money, but that your star would flicker for two seconds and that was it." See our collection of fascinating ways in which Andy Warwhol turned out to be wrong, here.