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 Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led

Be neither saint nor sophist-led, but be a man.
—Matthew Arnold

December 8, 2014 (permalink)

Photo by Amorette Dye.
The patron saint of sweet potatoes lies in wait for Thanksgiving.  —William Keckler (paraphrased)

November 27, 2014 (permalink)

Saint Betty: "You know, the nun who taught the lepers how to sing." —Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982)

November 14, 2014 (permalink)

"Here's to the great god Self," from Ozmar the Mystic by Emeric Hulme Beaman, 1896.

November 6, 2014 (permalink)

"Saint Satan," from The New Hyperion by Edward Strahan, 1875.

November 3, 2014 (permalink)

"Saint Unknown, by the Old Masters," from The Innocents Abroad by Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1869.

August 22, 2014 (permalink)

A Retroactive Lifetime Goal*: we've been dubbed "the patron saint of 'going with it'"!

*The phrase "Retroactive Lifetime Goal" appears courtesy of Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.

July 24, 2014 (permalink)

"An extemporaneous No-Popery Dance."  An illustration from The Letters of Charles Dickens (1893).

July 5, 2014 (permalink)

Photo by Kevin Dooley.

June 14, 2014 (permalink)

"It's St. Dennis, the patron saint of clip show hosts.  St. Dennis protects against any damage befalling your clips show." —Harry Hill's exquisitely funny TV Burp

May 3, 2014 (permalink)

A Saint Bunkum from The Tomahawk (June 1870).

February 26, 2014 (permalink)

Saint Dragon and the George from The Tomahawk (October 12, 1867).

February 16, 2014 (permalink)

An illustration from Seeing England with Uncle John by Anne Warner (1908).  The caption reads: "He said no, he was n't a saint."

November 8, 2013 (permalink)

Here's the patron saint of lone rainclouds, courtesy of Victor Moragriega.

October 5, 2013 (permalink)

The patron saint of bad ideas exists.
Things That Exist

Statue holding a barely-flickering lightbulb by Electroburger.

Burned-out lightbulb votive by tehbieber.

September 16, 2013 (permalink)

During a visit to the Yale University Art Gallery, the scalawag Jonathan Caws-Elwitt gave an impromptu tour of the muses:

1. The Muse of Getting High and Really Digging That Ping-Pong Ball.

2. The Muse of Miming a Melody When It's Obvious Your Instrument Doesn't Actually Have Any Strings.

3. The Muse of Being Interrupted Yet Again While Trying to Read the Goddamn Paper, but It's OK Because Your Kid Made You a Laurel Wreath and How Sweet Is That?

4. The Muse of Getting Really Bored with Your Agricultural Tasks.

5. The Muse of Ruining Your Own Painting by Touching the Canvas with Your Thumb.

6. The Muse of Wondering What Happened to the Other Dramatic Mask from Your Matched Set.

7. The Muse of Trying to Practice Your Scales but Getting Sidetracked by a Kid Who Has Unrolled All the Toilet Paper.

8. The Muse of Getting Frustrated by the Fact That It's Really Difficult to Draw Continental Landforms Accurately in Two Dimensions, When It Really Requires a Sphere to Render Them Properly.

9. The Muse of Regretting That You Agreed to Look at Your Friend's Manuscript.

August 23, 2013 (permalink)

Entropy's the patron saint
of patterns that disintegrate.
—a lyric from the Silly Pillows' "Soliloquy to Entropy" (1989)

Disintegrating pattern courtesy of scrappy annie.

July 11, 2013 (permalink)

"Sancta Nicotina Consolatrix: the poor man's friend."  An illustration from an 1869 issue of Punch magazine.

November 18, 2012 (permalink)

"In order to enjoy the comforts of swearing without incurring the penalties of profanity, the French invented a calendar of fictitious saints' names to swear with—St. Lache, the patron of idlers; St. Nitouche, who watched over hypocrites; and St. Gris, beloved of drunkards—to which the ribald Rabelais adds a medley of his own: "By St. Godegran, stoned to death with apple dumplings . . . by St. Foutin, the fornicator's friend! . . . by St. Vitus and his jig! . . . by St. Mamica, the virgin martyr, by our lusty mammical duty to all virgins!" (William Iversen, "O the Times! O the Manners!").  [Thanks, Jonathan!]

But here's where the concept of "fictitious saints" becomes really interesting:

"Saints, as extensions of a corporate and totalitarian pseudo-religious regime, are always false and never actual in the sense that there is nothing magical or divine about them. They are mere men and women, and often quite evil men and women. But, even more interestingly for those of us interested in paganism, saints were sometimes not even based on actual people, but were simply made up like characters in a novel to sit astride the previous pagan tradition. Many saints simply do not have any historical or biographical basis. Such saints represent a mere renaming of pagan deities. These falsest of the false saints, in other words, are hidden pagan gods" (Colin Liddell).

We would take this idea a bit further: when a saint—being a fictitious sort of entity in the first place—is based not upon an actual person but upon an imaginary character, then we've stumbled into the realm of genuine mythology.

March 1, 2012 (permalink)

By courtesy of our friend at Frog Blog, we pay homage to Sister Teresa of Perpetual Lameness.

February 5, 2012 (permalink)

The patron saint of the balloonist:  an illustration from a 1907 issue of Life magazine.

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