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 OneLetterWords.com.
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
This May Surprise You

November 6, 2018 (permalink)

"Few are not superstitious under actual tests."  From Popular Mechanics, 1933.
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Here's how everybody, when blindfolded, draws a pig wrong in exactly the same way.  From The Idler, 1894.
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November 5, 2018 (permalink)

It's only partially true that coins and flags have two sides.  Viewed from below, for example, a flag is like the shell of the lightning whelk (the predatory marine mollusk with the spiral carapace).  From Worcester Polytechnic's 1968 yearbook.
[For Adam.]
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Have you ever drunk a cocktail whose recipe was dictated by a ghost?  There are 112 spooky drink recipes that were communicated from the Other Side via a Ouija board, collected into Of Drinking in Remembrance of the Dead.  The text on the book's dedication page reads: "This book is dedicated to the presence that inspired it, without whose dictation it would not have been begun, and to whose preternatural knowledge of spirits it owes whatever merit it may possess."
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October 29, 2018 (permalink)

"Halloween just as much today as before."  From the Villanovan newspaper, 1977.
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October 26, 2018 (permalink)

"Secret group[']s history interestingly unusual."  From The Rotunda newspaper of Longwood College, 1965.
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October 25, 2018 (permalink)

Though it would seem to be stating the obvious that a library features a book collection, when we consider what's become of Barnes and Noble bookstores … From Hilltop News, 1957.
To discover why Barnes and Noble wouldn't stock our very own One-Letter Words: A Dictionary, see our video about how to get a major book deal without connections.
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"Modern-day witch plagued in skyway."  From The Rotunda newspaper of Longwood College, 1964.
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October 23, 2018 (permalink)

Our friend Gordon asked us to pose this question to the spirit voices in the ethers: “Is there any hope that we can reverse climate change?”  Our video records the answer we received via the Spirit Box radio (as seen on the Travel Channel show "Ghost Adventures").
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October 22, 2018 (permalink)

Here's the one and only headline we need in our era of sensationalized journalism.  From The Rotunda newspaper of Longwood College, 1964.
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October 21, 2018 (permalink)

In this phantasmagorical preface, playing cards turn into dogs and cats.  From Barks and Purrs by Colette Willy, 1913.
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October 19, 2018 (permalink)

We majored in tacos and received a Bachelor of Siestas.  The headline reads, "Students learn art of taco-making in school."  From Antioch News, 1978.
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October 18, 2018 (permalink)

You've heard of the Fountain of Youth, but in the Nordland district of Norway, rejuvenation isn't in the water but rather in the air.  We learn this in Tales of Every-Day Life in Sweden by Fredrika Bremer, 1843
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October 9, 2018 (permalink)

The magical mist surrounding these grimoires is not technically a special effect -- there was condensation on the camera lens.  Yes, these books are stacked in a shop window in the Wizarding World at Universal Studios, Orlando.  We can now reveal for the first time that it was this very window display that directly led to the rediscovery of The Young Wizard's Hexopedia.  One November morning, a stranger wrote from out of the blue, asking for assistance with an extraordinary book of magic.  The stranger was in search of a grimoire that didn't technically exist.  His own research had somehow determined that we possessed the know-how to bring this lost book back from the depths.  It seems that he had seen the esoteric window display at the Wizarding World and had noticed that the lost book in question wasn't there.  The problem was that no surviving copies of the book are known to exist.  Our task was to rediscover and recreate the entire document from quotations and implications in magical literature.  The stranger provided some crucial scraps, trusting that the whole work might be holographically contained within the parts.  Knowing the title and a rough idea of the table of contents, we set to work hunting through cryptic volumes in private libraries of magic (whose locations we're not at liberty to reveal, though we can perhaps mention Hollywood's Magic Castle).  Suffice it to say, we left no philosopher's stone unturned.  The process was very much like putting together a jigsaw puzzle in a dark room, with only a flickering candle for illumination.  To our own surprise, the lost book began taking shape almost immediately.  Restoring fragments into sentences and arranging them into paragraphs proved less challenging than one might suppose.  For example, you can surely divine what the last word of this sentence will [...].  Whenever a passage seemed to have something almost tangibly missing, like the absence of a vital book in an occult shop window, I knew to keep digging.  The moment it was clear that the entire Hexopedia was restored, I verified the accuracy of my work with three highly gifted wizards of words: a playwright in New Hampshire, a poet in Pennsylvania, and a teacher of magical arts in Nevada.  Then I sent the restoration to the stranger, who flabbergasted me by suggesting that the book should not come back into print at all but rather remain hidden in shadowy slumber until a more enlightened era.  (Apparently the trickster merely desired a copy for his personal use!)  Having worked so intimately with the text for so long, I felt convinced that the world was ready once again for the Hexopedia ... that it shouldn't rest only in the private library of one megalomaniac.  And the rest, as the former, is history.
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From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 13, 1909.  (Via Yesterday's News.)   See How to Believe in Your Elf.
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October 4, 2018 (permalink)

Facts are actually people, and a book of factual information is peopled by thousands of minds.  This we learn in Enquire Within Upon Everything, 1856.
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September 27, 2018 (permalink)

You've heard of the "elephant in the room," and it turns out every home should have one.  The headline reads, "What is home without an elephant?"  From The Judge, 1921.
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September 22, 2018 (permalink)

A question frequently asked by urban explorers is, why was this abandoned building never demolished?  Tim Powers reveals the surprising answer in Expiration Date: time doesn't pass where there's ruined architecture, or rather time has already passed and left that place behind.  That's why nobody tears it all down -- it's too late.
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September 20, 2018 (permalink)

God's toes.  From Le Rire, 1908.
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August 31, 2018 (permalink)

After an editor's note of no fewer than 142 pages, the editor presents the book itself, saying (presumably with a straight face), "I offer no remarks on it."  From The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner, 1824.
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Original Content Copyright © 2018 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.