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
Featured Book
The Young Wizard's Hexopedia
Search Site

Breathing Circle
Music Box Moment
Cautious or Optimistic
King of Hearts of War and Peace
As I Was, As I Am
Perdition Slip
Loves Me? Loves Me Not?
Wacky Birthday Form
Test Your ESP
Chess-Calvino Dictionary
Is Today the Day?
100 Ways I Failed to Boil Water
"Follow Your Bliss" Compass
"Fortune's Navigator" Compass
Inkblot Oracle
Luck Transfer Certificate
Eternal Life Coupon
Honorary Italian Grandmother E-card
Simple Answers


A Fine Line Between...
A Rose is a ...
Always Remember
Annotated Ellipses
Apropos of Nothing
Book of Whispers
Call it a Hunch
Colorful Allusions
Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up?
Disguised as a Christmas Tree
Don't Take This the Wrong Way
Everybody's Doing This Now
Forgotten Wisdom
Glued Snippets
Go Out in a Blaze of Glory
Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore
How to Believe in Your Elf
I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought
Images Moving Through Time
Indubitably (?)
Inflationary Lyrics
It Bears Repeating
It's Really Happening
Last Dustbunny in the Netherlands
Miscellanies of Mr. Jonathan
Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led
No News Is Good News
Non-Circulating Books
Nonsense Dept.
Not Rocket Science
Oldest Tricks in the Book
On One Condition
One Mitten Manager
Only Funny If ...
P I n K S L i P
Peace Symbols to Color
Presumptive Conundrums
Puzzles and Games
Letter Grids
Tic Tac Toe Story Generator
Which is Funnier
Restoring the Lost Sense
Rhetorical Answers, Questioned
Rhetorical Questions, Answered!
Semicolon Moons
Semicolon's Dream Journal
Simple Answers
Someone Should Write a Book on ...
Something, Defined
Staring at the Sun
Staring Into the Depths
Strange Dreams
Suddenly, A Shot Rang Out
Telescopic Em Dashes
The 40 Most Meaningful Things
The Ghost In The [Scanning] Machine
The Only Certainty
The Right Word
This May Surprise You
This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea
Two Sides / Same Coin
Uncharted Territories
What's In a Name
Yearbook Weirdness
Yesterday's Weather
Your Ship Will Come In


January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006


Magic Words
Jonathan Caws-Elwitt
Martha Brockenbrough
Gordon Meyer
Dr. Boli
Serif of Nottingblog
Joe Brainard's Pyjamas
Ironic Sans
Brian Sibley's Blog
Abecedarian personal effects of 'a mad genius'
A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
Puzzles and Games

February 26, 2017 (permalink)

Can you read her face to determine the strength of the hand she was dealt?  From Hunter College's Wistarion yearbook, 1962.
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

February 22, 2017 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Sudoku, from Jugend, 1912.  Can you fill in the rest of the numbers properly?  Here's the solution, in black text on a black background [highlight to view]:  (reading left to right, top to bottom).
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

February 20, 2017 (permalink)

Water dominoes are played much like regular dominoes, though the rules are more fluid.  From Mocca, 1935.
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

February 11, 2017 (permalink)

Can you guess the visual pun here?  The answer is in black text on a black background; highlight to view:  From Cartoons Magazine, 1919.
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

February 4, 2017 (permalink)

Here's a yew at the center of a labyrinth (Cassell's, 1896), but recall that "You [like the yew] are at the center of the maze" (Howard A. Sherman, The First Mile, 2005).

Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

January 30, 2017 (permalink)

Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

November 9, 2016 (permalink)

This is a fairly easy visual puzzle that inexplicably doubled as an ad for coffee, c. 1890.

Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

October 28, 2016 (permalink)

An initial reaction to our puzzler This Book is a Cactus by Bob Neale, author of This Is Not a Book: "One very sneaky treatise.  Actually, it is blatantly intellectual as much as it is absurd.  And I even wonder if it is a guide to spiritual meditation.  But I have a way to go with it to come to any conclusion.  Right now, I just know that there is a hell of a lot more in it than I can comprehend."

Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

October 17, 2016 (permalink)

We were delighted by this 5-star review of our own This Book is a Cactus:
The enjoyably surreal experience of reading a book that is in process of being a cactus
This Book is a Cactus is something quite unique. A friend recommended it to me, and as I have coworkers that I enjoy discussing interesting books and puzzles with, I picked up a copy and did not regret it.

For those wondering about the format of the book, since the description mentions a 'virtual game board', the most similar concept (familiar to most people who grew up in the US after the 1970s) would be a 'choose your own adventure' book with more puzzles (not the content, only as a format reference).

Initially, my interest in the book was in the overall concept and the puzzles, but quickly I found myself drawn to the prose. It may be a matter of personal taste, but from my perspective the writing and pacing of this book is brilliant. For something that is broken up by decision trees and puzzles, the vignettes and more narrative text joining things together flow incredibly well, but strangely work well as discrete passages. It’s fairly difficult to describe, but it can work as a semi-long form experience, and also as series of short entries (similar to a chapbook of poems) that although are not always dependently connected to the next section of text, did keep propelling me forward. I would read a few (more than I had planned to) ‘pages’ or ‘make a few decisions’ each night before sleep and it would put a healthy amount of strangeness into my subconscious.

As a game, I’m not convinced that there is much ‘replay’ value in the book after you have encountered each of the pages or puzzles in a few different orders. As a mix of narrative and puzzles, replay value is largely irrelevant for the genre. As a work of art, ‘This Book is a Cactus’ is a real achievement. Aesthetically, this needs to be a physical book and the excellent illustrations accompanying the text fit perfectly. Conley’s writing has a unique tone that can mix warm humor, surrealism, literate references, with a touch of gray metaphysical and esoteric mystery. If I can employ a less-literary comparison, the feeling I was struck with when reading much of this book, was similar to viewing the first scene in episode 8 of Twin Peaks. It doesn’t shift into the wacky or caustic styles of some other texts dealing with the esoteric. ‘This Book is a Cactus’ employs a calm wit, for a warm mystery, in a foggy, endless bookshelf that might be a greenhouse or more.

I foresee and predict that after finishing each page that I will, every now and then, down the road, spot this book on my shelf and pick it up and explore again. By ‘explore’, I mean to give my cactus life.
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

October 11, 2016 (permalink)

"I’ll never finish this book, I think.  It is a succulent to carry through life.  It is so playful and smart and rhizomatic.  I love the virtual game structure:  just enough structure to give it a 'plot' but not enough structure to turn your cactus into a tree.  This Book is a Cactus is really inspired and excellent." —Lawrence Hass, Ph.D.

Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

October 5, 2016 (permalink)

Are you one of the 7% of the population who can instantly detect a human profile hidden within the sea life?  From the Southern California Academy of Sciences Bulletin, 1976.
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

September 26, 2016 (permalink)

"What an intriguing, fun, lovely book with Oddfellow's usual quirky, oblique poetic, metaphysic dry humour and bibliophillic joie de livre. " —Gary Barwin, author of Yiddish for Pirates
This Book is a Cactus turned out to be the most difficult project we've ever tackled.  We wanted to recreate the very first computer game we programmed, from back in the 1980s—the Tamagotchi precursor of a virtual flower—but this time in book form.  What we ended up with is a combination choose-your-own-adventure and puzzle book; it's a surrealistic virtual reality experience you hold in your hands, as the book is also a cactus that you attempt to keep alive.  A hybrid cactus-book.  Each page is like a square on a game board.  You make decisions and solve riddles, and your choices/answers lead to different squares.  Math puzzles, word puzzles, logic puzzles, and riddles appear at intervals within the fractal storyline.  
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

August 25, 2016 (permalink)

"The new game of virture rewarded and vice punished" by T. Newton.
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

August 13, 2016 (permalink)

"Where is the hersdman?"  From 1880.
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

August 1, 2016 (permalink)

Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

July 3, 2016 (permalink)

Here's a hole-punched "Cootie Card" from a sorority party in 1925.   From Helen M. Barke's scrapbook, scanned by the NDSU Archives.  (Cootie is a dice game in which the first player to complete a drawing of a cootie bug is the winner.  The first person to throw a particular number on the dice gives a shout and is allowed to draw the head of the cootie on her Cootie Card.  Further shouts annouce the additions of a cootie body, six separate legs, two antennae, tail, and eyes [a total of twelve separate cootie pieces].  Body parts are earned according to stipulated rules.  A booby prize is awarded if a player wins no games.  A separate prize goes to the artist who draws the funniest cootie.)
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

June 6, 2016 (permalink)

Here's a riddle from our Hexopedia of wizardry.  Roll over the second page to reveal the answer.
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

May 22, 2016 (permalink)

A Facebook session or a Spiritualist seance?  Can you tell the difference?
One wishes to make contact with a distant friend, lover, or acquaintance who has departed from one's life.  Via means one doesn't fully understand, one seeks a message, albeit oddly spelled or worded, or at least some sort of flickering notification that said entity possesses at least a modicum of sentience in that other place.
a: Spiritualist seance
b: Facebook
c: indistinguishable
[Hint: the answer, like the ocean of consciousness we seek to navigate and commune with, rhymes with the sea.]
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

March 19, 2016 (permalink)

A vintage optical illusion — though the man on the right is smaller than a tennis racket, he's actually taller than the man on the left.  Photo by Leslie Jones, date uncertain.
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

March 1, 2016 (permalink)

Here's a connect-the-dots game for those who just can't be bothered, from Vegetable Staticks, 1727.

Tumblr Twitter Facebook Google+ Pinterest

Page 2 of 6

> Older Entries...

Original Content Copyright © 2018 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.