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.

January 9, 2013 (permalink)

I dreamed again that I was in hell, forever separating the independent clauses of a compound sentence, as if they were young siblings fighting over space in the back seat of the family station wagon.

Later that night, I dreamed I was caught in traffic.

Upon waking, I was filled with the "immortal longings" that impel "every hyphen and semicolon," as discussed by William Stryon in Sophie's Choice.

Semicolon sign courtesy of Pixiewarp.
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December 15, 2012 (permalink)

I dreamed again about a coordinating conjunction.  It said the clauses in our sentence were long and contained internal punctuation used to separate long items in a series.  This was what I wanted to hear: it meant that I belonged in the sentence.  But for some reason I felt certain that the conjunction was lying.

I also dreamed that I had dinner and drinks with Michael Tomasky, who said: "If I were linguistic emperor, not only would semicolons be mandatory, but we’d all be writing like Carlyle: massive 130-word sentences that were mad concatenations of em dashes, colons, semicolons, parentheticals, asides; reading one of those Carlyle sentences can sweep me along in its mighty wake and make me feel as if I’m on some sort of drug.  What writing today does that?  Some, maybe even a lot, in the realm of literature; but not much in non-fiction, alas.”
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November 20, 2012 (permalink)

I dreamed I was mistaken as an indication that less perfume is required.

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November 19, 2012 (permalink)

Comic courtesy of Joe Crawford,
Thank you, Joe!
I dreamed again I had to make a speech.  When I got to the podium, I realized I wasn't wearing any clothes.

Later that night, I dreamed far into the future, when I had become a giant monument in the town of Dusty, Arizona.  Tourists came from far and wide to show me to their children.

Then I dreamed of Jorge Luis Borges' "predilection for the endless sentence with semicolons as milestones along the route," as noted in Borges: The Selected Fictions.

Reader Comments:

Johnny Rem writes,
Intriguing dream.  I love the concept of the monument... how did it feel being famous yet sculpted in stone?
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August 27, 2012 (permalink)

I dreamed X was a broken question mark.*

*as per Juan Felipe Herrera's Crash Boom Love: A Novel in Verse, 1999

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August 13, 2012 (permalink)

I dreamed I read the great American novel.

From Puck, 1884.
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June 11, 2012 (permalink)

I dreamed I got a dog.

A detail of a political cartoon from Cartoons magazine, 1916.

Doubly dedicated to Jonathan Caws[hyphen]Elwitt and Gordon Meyer, both of whom know why.
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May 2, 2012 (permalink)

I dreamed of sitting on a glistening rock, thinking sadly of someone who had changed and drifted away from me.
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April 18, 2012 (permalink)

Book cover from 1949, via Frog Blog.
I dreamed I had faith in an exclamation point.
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November 20, 2011 (permalink)

I dreamed of invented compound words, deliberate misspellings, and the grammar of gossip.

Prof. Oddfellow offers this free vintage clip-art question mark, originally appearing in a 1914 issues of Harper's Magazine and painstakingly restored to its original glory. The image is available for download in high-resolution GIF and vector EPS formats.
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August 18, 2011 (permalink)

I dreamed that two nebulae collided to form a cosmic semicolon, but Big Science held its camera upside down and called it an exclamation mark.

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June 26, 2011 (permalink)

I dreamed a green-faced Gustav Meyrink confessed to me: "I want to be a full-stop rather than eternally a comma in the punctuation of time." 
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March 20, 2011 (permalink)

I dreamed my tea leaf reader saw an asterisk.*

*To learn what an asterisk means in a tea leaf reading, see Dr. Boli.

Photo by Scout Seventeen, slightly modified.
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February 23, 2011 (permalink)

I dreamed that a misplaced question mark obfuscated the entire meaning of Shakespeare's Hamlet.

(My typographical error dream was no doubt triggered by Fredericka Beardsley Gilchrist's The True Story of Hamlet and Ophelia.)

(Thanks, FutilityCloset.)


June asks:

To be or not to be: that is the question?

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February 14, 2011 (permalink)

I dreamed of a self-possessed apostrophe—a ghost haunting itself.

(Inspired by Gary Barwin.)

Illustration by Prof. Oddfellow
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December 4, 2010 (permalink)

I dreamed I had two left feet.

[In Anton Chekhov's "The Exclamation Mark," visions of punctuation dance before a civil servant's eyes.  Which punctuation leads the dance and which follows?  This much is certain: the semicolon is left-footed.  Gautam Malkani confirms: "Punctuation came with a kick, but with his left foot this time so it was more like a semicolon" (Londonstani, 2006, p. 3).]
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August 7, 2010 (permalink)

Punctuation music via Make It Work.
I woke up with a tune stuck in my head.
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March 30, 2010 (permalink)

I dreamed someone told my fortune: the Tarot Hanged Man, inverted.

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February 17, 2010 (permalink)

I dreamed I played a suspended game of dominoes.

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January 2, 2010 (permalink)

"Something interesting happens at 6:00 o'clock."
Ram Dass, Grist for the Mill
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