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.
This May Surprise You

Today — January 20, 2017 (permalink)

Here is revealed how magicians make time for practice.  From Die Bühne, 1925.
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January 17, 2017 (permalink)

"It may surprise you to know that interactive music isn't new, and it isn't found just in video games." —Writing Interactive Music for Video Games

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January 16, 2017 (permalink)

Air has a face, the sea has lips, and cliffs have ends.  This we learn in From the Lips of the Sea by Clinton Scollard (1911), The Face of Air by George Leonard Knapp (1912), and The Cliff End by Edward Charles Booth (1908).

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January 13, 2017 (permalink)

You've heard of someone being "older than God," but here's a younger man straight out of the Old Testament.  From Pearson's, 1911.
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January 10, 2017 (permalink)

The secrets of How to Be Your Own Cat go back to the Meiji period of Japan, when cat people wrote books in between naps.  For example, the author of the Japanese classic I Am a Cat was himself a feline: "Choosing a kitten for the main character has a two-fold meaning as Sōseki was, in fact, himself a stray kitten" (Aiko Ito & Graeme Wilson's introduction to Sōseki Natsume's I Am a Cat).  Our illustration from a 1906 edition of the book.
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You've heard that cigarettes kill, but they can also be executed.
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You've heard of the force which holds the celestial bodies in orbit, and here he is, in the Bulletin of the Southern California Academy of Sciences, 1917.
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January 5, 2017 (permalink)

You've heard that animals and insects possess neither morality nor religion, yet here's The Butterfly's Gospel (Fredrika Bremer, 1865).
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January 1, 2017 (permalink)

Good luck horseshoes are made by porcine blacksmiths.  A new year's postcard from 1902.
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While it's true that you can't get blood from a turnip, the ox heart carrot is another story.  From the Annual of True Blue Seeds, 1905. 

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There's a theory of evolution for the supernatural, too.  The Supernatural: Its Origin, Nature and Evolution by John H. King, 1892.
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December 29, 2016 (permalink)

"In a field of prescribed methodologies and practices, it may surprise you to learn that original thinking is a core skill of any successful scientist." —The Art of Achievement


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You've heard of "the booze talking," but here's how it happens, c. 1935.  From the Leslie Jones Collection, Boston Public Library.
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December 27, 2016 (permalink)

The eye[patch] in the pyramid.  From Die Muskete, 1919.
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December 25, 2016 (permalink)

Many will be delighted to know that both diamonds and toads have been appended to the seven champions of Christendom (1825).
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The dove of peace is actually a general with its own arsenal of verbena cannons that fire four-leaf clovers.  (But you probably already knew that.)
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December 17, 2016 (permalink)

Here's !!! (a.k.a. Exclamation Point, Exclamation Point, Exclamation Point or Three Exclamation Points by George Hughes Hepworth, 1881).
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December 15, 2016 (permalink)

"It may surprise you to know that most of the sound you hear when you play a harmonica comes from your lungs, throat, mouth, and hands — not the harmonica." —Harmonica For Dummies


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December 14, 2016 (permalink)

What do tired people want?  "Tired people always want the same thing.  They want a thing to stay as it is—or they want it to stay just as it is—upside down."  We learn this 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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December 8, 2016 (permalink)

You've seen those stunt checks for charity, but here's the "largest real check cashed by [a] Los Angeles bank," from Popular Mechanics, 1922.
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Original Content Copyright © 2017 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.