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

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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January 5, 2018 (permalink)

"Intolerance is produced by intensively farming one idea.  Prudery is the dead bones of virtue bound together with barbed wire."  From The Judge, 1912.
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January 4, 2018 (permalink)

"I don't want to be catty, but —."  Here is explained How to Be Your Own Cat.  (Headline from The Saturday Evening Post, 1919.)
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From Echoes of Life and Death by William Ernest Henley, 1908.
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January 2, 2018 (permalink)

Revealed at last: our actual age, as well as how to use a spooky old mirror to test whether you're dreaming or awake. We didn't know how this video would end ... until we posed a question to the mirror and then had to face the uncanny answer.

If you like our video, please leave a thumb-up so we know.  It's lonely out here in cyberspace!

Jim writes: "Definitely by far your very best video yet... it's hysterical... it leaves you completely baffled at the end... posted it on Facebook."

Marja writes: "I can see this over and over and over.  Your story, the way you tell it, leads me away from all the ordinary things.  Love the non-ending.  Grace Jones might not be impressed.  I am.  Thank you."

J writes: "So entertaining! The 'lucid waking' premise is terrific, and I LOVE the concept of your appearing only in stained-glass lighting (and, of course, carrying the windows around!!). And then the way the hilarious recursiveness paradigm morphs into a salad bar, hahahaha! (Oh, and you're really rocking the fedora, by the way.) Bravo!!"

George writes: "What a f#$#%$g  treat this clip was!! Loved the sliding in and out of reality both in script and video. Great structure leading us in, adding the glitches that woke us up, creating the shock of a non-mirrored reflection except for the ?, and then diving into what that means and leaving us with a haunting last image. Brilliant!"

G writes: "Oh my! The visual and SFX in this are great! Loved the little echoes and jumps; timed perfectly. The mirror writing was unexpected and fun, and the ¿ definition was the perfect ending (complete with old school incremental zoom steps on your shocked face!). I love that you’re getting some good mileage out of the haunted mirror, and I enjoyed using it to reflect the window, which of course is symmetrical, so it nicely foreshadowed the ending.  Oh, and finally, the title of the video on YouTube is, of course, so up-to-date. I laughed out loud and how well, sadly, it fits into the moment.  Thanks, I enjoyed it! A good way to start the new year."

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January 1, 2018 (permalink)

A Retroactive Lifetime Goal*: for our tireless crusade against the toxicity of vintage Popular Mechanics magazine, Johnnyola2000 toasted us as "the one brave man on tumblr."
*Phrase courtesy of literary scalawag Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.
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December 31, 2017 (permalink)

This is easily our favorite presumption of the centuries, that everyone has seen a Japanese crystal ball raised on the wings of an impossible dragon.  Would that it were so.  From "Of Camera Obscuras and Japanese Crystals" by Herbert Copeland, 1892.
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December 29, 2017 (permalink)

Always have the necessary footwear when a particular Chicago is offered to you.  It's explained in The Idler, 1894.
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Original Content Copyright © 2018 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.