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.
January 26, 2018

Miscellanies of Mr. Jonathan (permalink)

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt

unearths some literary gems.

From Beginning with a Bash, by Alice Tilton:

***

"First Boston dowager I ever saw outside of a 'New Yorker' cartoon." She lowered her voice. "Hat teed high on her head, black velvet band around her neck. And you know without any doubt that the diamond in it is real as hell--"

[I like the idea of realness as being subject to degrees--a little bit real, fairly real, very real, real as hell--rather than being an either/or thing.]

***

"This stranger--can't we name him?"

"X," Dot said promptly. "All strangers are X. It's a law, or something."

***

[Marginalia dept.!]

"On looking through the book, I discovered certain vague pencilled comments in what I think must be North's own handwriting.... The marginalia... concern his thoughts not only on the subject matter of Phineas Twitchett, D.D. [Silly Fictitious Author name dept.], but practically everything else under the sun. I've known several people who had that habit of writing down their thoughts when they read a book, whether or not they concerned the book or its contents, at all."

***

"I recall... the law student who wanted Sullivan on Land Titles, published in 1801. Why 1801, I'm sure I can't imagine."

"Perhaps it was a favorite date of his."

***

"Did this red feather thing have like a red plume, dripping off from one side? Did it?"

"I was gradually working up to that, yes. It was the climax."

[...]

"I could tell that hat blindfolded. I could tell it if you was to put it in your pipe and smoke it."

***

"Grey eyes. That sort of grey-blue that looks at you and it seems like they seen you, but you might as well be a tin pie plate for all she cared."

***

He was calling on every saint he ever heard of, in order.

***

"I trust that the next passageway through which Providence forces me will be a reasonable forty-four. I'm not one of these women who feels she can do with a forty-two, which is the average size of all the passageways to date. I know my own limitations, or should I say unlimitations?"

***

Freddy['s]... snapping black eyes were hidden by a pair of black glasses, and... upper lip was adorned by an afterthought in the shape of a small moustache. He looked, Dot said, like a correspondence school freshman. [I'm not quite sure what she means by that, but I like it!]

***

Freddy surveyed them [underlings with whom he was dissatisfied] and then proceeded to give his vocabulary a thorough airing.

***

P.S. Two plot elements (SPOILERS) that I think are worthy of being noted:

1. When the protagonists, who have been chasing around in a stolen car for a while, are questioned by the police, it turns out that the "stolen" car actually belongs to one of the people driving it. Her companions, who acquired the car before picking her up, didn't realize the car they'd stolen was hers, and she hadn't bothered to mention it.

2. The storyline hinges on an embezzler who was subject to great absentmindedness and therefore had to leave a trail--for himself!--to the bonds he'd stolen and hidden.

> read more from Miscellanies of Mr. Jonathan . . .
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Original Content Copyright © 2018 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.