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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The Right Word

July 29, 2018 (permalink)

In this pairing of quotations, we learn that every act of reading is either aporetic or a palimpsest (or both?).
Every act of reading is an act of forgetting: the experience of reading is a palimpsest, in which each text partially covers those that came before.  Those books that allow us to forget the most are accorded the authority of the classic.
—James A. Second, Victorian Sensation
Every act of reading is when memory and forgetting collide: every act of reading is aporetic, as one has to both remember and forget at the same time.  Each time reading occurs, one is not just reading the text for the first time, but also reading for the first time.
—Jeremy Fernando, Reading Blindly
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July 26, 2018 (permalink)

"Twigmuntus, cowbelliantus, perchnosius.  Can you give me an answer to that?" the lad asked.  From Fairy Tales from the Swedish of G. Djurklo, 1901.
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July 23, 2018 (permalink)

Here are some spirit squiggles and a message in Hebrew, from A Discussion of the Facts and Philosophy of Ancient and Modern Spiritualism by Samuel Byron Brittan and B. W. Richmond, 1853.
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July 6, 2018 (permalink)

From "If Summer Comes " by G. F. MacMullen, in The Magazine of Fun, 1922.
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July 5, 2018 (permalink)

From Celtic Fairy Tales, selected by Joseph Jacobs and illustrated by John D. Batten, 1892.
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June 8, 2018 (permalink)

There's a Japanese word for this: nekojita, which means "cat tongued" (said of one who can't tolerate hot food).  From Le Journal Amusant, 1899.
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"When knights were bold."  From Harper's Weekly, 1916.
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June 4, 2018 (permalink)

"Missing word contest."  From Judge's Library, 1894.
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May 26, 2018 (permalink)

A deliberately unfinished sentence (or, rather, a sentence finished with dashes).  From In the World of Signs, Essays in Honour of Professor Jerzy Pelc, 1998.
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May 24, 2018 (permalink)

From Fliegende Blätter, 1934.  These swear word animals are in German.  The first one we translate as "son of a bitch," the rhino's horn referring to the sound of the German word "hurensohn."  The camel can mean "idiot" in German.  We presume the bull and the jackass have similar-enough meanings in German.
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May 8, 2018 (permalink)

The expression "worried to shadows" is a Googlewhack.  From "At the Lips of the Sphinx" by Inez G. Thompson, in The Smart Set, 1910.
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April 24, 2018 (permalink)

"Ypzneml, the steam man, blows up."  From The Harvard Lampoon, 1887.
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April 16, 2018 (permalink)

"I walked in fear and dread."  From Sentence Analysis by Diagram by Henry Copp Edgar, 1915.
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April 9, 2018 (permalink)

For mineral water, read mineral matter.  From The Electrical Engineer, 1899.
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April 7, 2018 (permalink)

"Hidden sentences and hidden words" are secrets held by a mysterious clock.  From Wicked City [Chicago] by Grant Eugene Stevens, 1906.
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April 6, 2018 (permalink)

"It isn't the heat … it's the fumidity."  From Popular Mechanics, 1934.
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Plowed for flowed, trench for trunk — corrections from The Rural Carolinian, 1870.
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April 2, 2018 (permalink)

Say this three times and you will see what you will see.  From Celtic Fairy Tales, selected by Joseph Jacobs and illustrated by John D. Batten, 1892.
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April 1, 2018 (permalink)

We have penitently created subtitles for select videos/performances of the Swedish doom metal band Ghost.  May the darkness be merciful.
"If You Have Ghosts" (Youtube)
If you download a video, play it on your computer via VLC or Plex and put the .srt file in the same folder with the same name as the video file.
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March 30, 2018 (permalink)

Here's how a snowflake is a table and a O is an unfamiliar notion.  From A Handbook of Phrenotypics for Teachers and Students by Major Beniowski, 1842.

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