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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This May Surprise You

Yesterday — August 25, 2016 (permalink)

Hollywood isn't the only place with giant letters on a mountain.  That's W.Va. at the bottom of the postcard (its giant letters not shown).
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August 23, 2016 (permalink)

A book is a cactus.

[That's a Googlewhack, with or without the word "like."]
  Book
Cactus
most have spines (sometimes very fine) x x
often given at Christmas x x
classifying is difficult; divided into several categories x x
cultivated x x
often ornamental x x
prized in botanical gardens x x
crossed the Atlantic on European ships trading
between South America and Africa
x x
prone to over-collection x x
may be eaten by bugs x x
found in dry environments x x
occur in a wide range of sizes x x
quickly absorb water x x
roots with Latin and Greek nomenclature x x
long dormancies x x
may cause changes in mood, perception and
cognition through their effects on the brain
x x
essential for dating non-literate cultures   x
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The problem with meteorology exposed: weather satellites are set to receive elk transmissions.  Image scanned by the San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive.
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August 16, 2016 (permalink)

One of the only differences between a roulette table and a cathedral is where the croupier sits.  We recall that "Religion is a gamble" (Michael Demers, Becoming Adam) and "Gambling is a religion" (Jason Mandryk, Operation World), that "The casino is a church" (Donald Patrick Redheffer, Streams of Thought) and "The church is a gambling house" (Hiley H. Ward, Understanding Reality Religion), that "Faith is a gamble" (Lucian Phoenix-Wolf, The Spiritual Truth Series) and "Gambling requires faith" (Mike Wojniaj, "Listen to Your Heart").  
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August 13, 2016 (permalink)

The Rod of Asclepius (the serpent-entwined staff associated with healing and medicine) is actually one of the trees of Great Britain, as we see in this chart (see bottom row) from Arboretum et Fruticetum Britannicum; or, The Trees and Shrubs of Britain by John Claudius Loudon, 1854.

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August 9, 2016 (permalink)

"It may surprise you to learn that I still believe it today, despite what happened later." —The Color of Hope

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August 8, 2016 (permalink)

The true First Lady is "An Average," also known as "Her Who Never Was and Who Never Is," "a kind of vague, cold, intellectual, unsubstantial, lonely, Terrible Angel called the People."  All there is to her is "a kind of light in Her eyes at times."  The relationship is unsatisfying to both the President and the First Lady, much like trying to reduce the Aurora Borealis to a simple mathematical equation.  All this we learn in The Ghost in the White House: Some Suggestions as to How a Hundred Million People (Who are Supposed in a Vague, Helpless Way to Haunt the White House) Can Make Themselves Felt with a President, How They Can Back Him Up, Express Themselves to Him, be Expressed by Him, and Get What They Want by Gerald Stanley Lee, 1920.
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August 3, 2016 (permalink)

"It may surprise you to know that I get a lot of satisfaction and entertainment from the knowledge I receive from the pool of life." —A Family of Whispers

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August 2, 2016 (permalink)

They say that Walter Raleigh brought the potato to England, but it was actually the other way around, as we learn in the J. M. Smith's Sons 1899 seed catalog.
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August 1, 2016 (permalink)

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The caption to this figure identifies the three w's as being written by a monkey.  The other squiggle is unidentified, but we can now reveal it to be a translation of a Sapphic fragment defined by its decline into silence.  From The Evolution of Animal Intelligence by Samuel J. Holmes, 1911.
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July 30, 2016 (permalink)

Where's the overlap between the beloved vampire film The Lost Boys and the open world game of Grand Theft Auto V?  Besides the vampire tooth of the game's Roman numeral and besides the boardwalk setting?  Off the top of our head, there are two music-related overlaps.  First, there's the band Age of Consent, who provide GTAV's infectious theme "Colours" (chant it with us: "go out, late night; come home, daylight").  They recorded a cover of Tim Cappello's "I Still Believe" from The Lost Boys soundtrack.  Second, the artist Twin Shadow (who serves as the DJ of Radio Mirror Park in the game and who offers the other standout track in the game, "Old Love / New Love"), has a song called "Golden Light," the chorus of which is an homage to the chorus of the film's memorable "Cry Little Sister" theme (chant it with us: "Thou shall not fall; thou shall not lie; thou shall not fear; thou shal not kill").  Twin Shadow's own lyrics are in the spirit of the film, too -- consider how this line, "Some people say there's a golden light -- you're the golden light -- and if I chase after you doesn't mean that it's true," recalls the film's character Michael who has newly arrived in the golden state and, feeling hopeless, chases after a creature of the night.  
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We've answered an age-old question.  Which came first: the inverted cross of black metal or the egg?  Well, it's actually something of a paradox, as an egg with an inverted cross came first.  Our illustration appears in De la Formation du Blastoderme dans l'Oeuf d'Oiseau by M. Mathias Duval, 1884.

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July 26, 2016 (permalink)

We have discovered a non-surgical, instant way to be your own cat.  We call it, How to Be Your Own Cat.  There are 25 chapters with the steps involved, but results begin immediately.  Literary humorist Jonathan Caws-Elwitt blurbs, "It’s commonly known that you can be your own best friend or your own worst enemy.  It’s even well established that you can be your own grandpa.  But it takes a Professor Oddfellow to teach you How to Be Your Own Cat—and isn’t it about time?"
Martha Brockenbrough, author of The Game of Love and Death, notes: "I am also curious about how to be Schrödinger's cat."  There actually is much to say about being Schrödinger's cat!  We would begin by installing slatted blinds in the windows, because when light goes through a slit it's both a particle and a wave (plus, that's how the Cheshire cat got separated from its grin).  We'd get an "I am not a doormat" doormat so as to foster uncertainty.  We would collect nesting boxes.  We would always leave some mail in the mailbox  and a newspaper in the driveway so as to suggest the possibility of not being home.  We would play music by the dance band M-Theory and spin to it.  We would study ways to entangle strings (putting the macramé into M-theory).  We would adopt the pat answer of agnosticism, "I don't know."  We would collect (infinite) monkey memorabilia.  Then we'd sleep like the dead.
Of course, before you can become Schrödinger's cat in particular, you must transform into a cat in general.  Hence, How to Be Your Own Cat.
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July 22, 2016 (permalink)

The eye in the pyramid begins life as a polyhedron.  From Alpine Flowers for English Gardens by W. Robinson, 1870.
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July 18, 2016 (permalink)

You've heard of "graduating from PMS" (Menopause and Estrogen: Natural Alternatives to Hormone Replacement Therapy), but did you know you can get an actual degree?
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July 5, 2016 (permalink)

Even a globe has magnetic poles.  A photo from the 1928 National Air Races, Los Angeles.
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You've heard of someone being "bird brained," but here's the exact location of the avian part of the brain (and yes, it's egg-shaped), from Psychology and the School by Edward Herbert Cameron, 1921.
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July 3, 2016 (permalink)

"Airline technology has not gone through any radical changes" (Brian Clegg, Final Frontier: The Pioneering Science and Technology of Exploring the Universe).  Image courtesy of the San Diego Air and Space Museum Archive.
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July 1, 2016 (permalink)

You've heard of a palmist.  You've heard of a psalmist.  Here's where they overlap -- a woodcut diagram of the Guidonian hand, a mnemonic used for teaching music, 1492.  
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Original Content Copyright © 2016 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.