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, a “monk for the modern age” by George Parker, 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
Featured Book
The Young Wizard's Hexopedia
Search Site

Breathing Circle
Music Box Moment
Cautious or Optimistic
King of Hearts of War and Peace
As I Was, As I Am
Perdition Slip
Loves Me? Loves Me Not?
Wacky Birthday Form
Test Your ESP
Chess-Calvino Dictionary
Is Today the Day?
100 Ways I Failed to Boil Water
"Follow Your Bliss" Compass
"Fortune's Navigator" Compass
Inkblot Oracle
Luck Transfer Certificate
Eternal Life Coupon
Honorary Italian Grandmother E-card
Simple Answers


A Fine Line Between...
A Rose is a ...
Always Remember
Annotated Ellipses
Apropos of Nothing
Book of Whispers
Call it a Hunch
Colorful Allusions
Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up?
Disguised as a Christmas Tree
Don't Take This the Wrong Way
Everybody's Doing This Now
Forgotten Wisdom
Glued Snippets
Go Out in a Blaze of Glory
Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore
How to Believe in Your Elf
I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought
Images Moving Through Time
Indubitably (?)
Inflationary Lyrics
It Bears Repeating
It's Really Happening
Last Dustbunny in the Netherlands
Miscellanies of Mr. Jonathan
Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led
No News Is Good News
Non-Circulating Books
Nonsense Dept.
Not Rocket Science
Oldest Tricks in the Book
On One Condition
One Mitten Manager
Only Funny If ...
P I n K S L i P
Peace Symbols to Color
Presumptive Conundrums
Puzzles and Games
Letter Grids
Tic Tac Toe Story Generator
Which is Funnier
Restoring the Lost Sense
Rhetorical Answers, Questioned
Rhetorical Questions, Answered!
Semicolon Moons
Semicolon's Dream Journal
Simple Answers
Someone Should Write a Book on ...
Something, Defined
Staring at the Sun
Staring Into the Depths
Strange Dreams
Suddenly, A Shot Rang Out
Telescopic Em Dashes
The 40 Most Meaningful Things
The Ghost In The [Scanning] Machine
The Only Certainty
The Right Word
This May Surprise You
This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea
Two Sides / Same Coin
Uncharted Territories
What I Now Know
What's In a Name
Yearbook Weirdness
Yesterday's Weather
Your Ship Will Come In


August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006


Magic Words
Jonathan Caws-Elwitt
Martha Brockenbrough
Gordon Meyer
Dr. Boli
Serif of Nottingblog
Joe Brainard's Pyjamas
Ironic Sans
Brian Sibley's Blog
Abecedarian personal effects of 'a mad genius'
A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
April 6, 2008

Puzzles and Games (permalink)
Top Ten Tips for
Run-of-the-Mill Players
to Enjoy Outstanding Games

(an Abecedarian guest blog for

There's nothing so comfy as mediocrity.  Indeed, our culture teaches us both explicitly and implicitly that "okay" is good enough.  But when it comes to fun, the middle-of-the-road game players cheat themselves out of something precious.  Lackluster players miss out on the special spark that characterizes outstanding game play.  We're not talking about the thrill of victory versus the agony of defeat.  An outstanding player will have more fun losing a game than an average player will have winning a game.  The fact is that mediocre players cannot, by definition, get caught up in the lighthearted spirit of the game.

Following are ten techniques for transforming yourself into an outstanding player of your favorite game.

1. Seek your game's hidden source of entertainment, its heart of fascination.  In Classical times, Greek and Roman games consisted mainly of running, wrestling, jumping, riding, and racing.  On the surface, these games were nothing out of the ordinary, yet their players made them the world's most extraordinary entertainments, exciting the enthusiasm and awakening the spirits of the spectators.[1]  To find your game's heart of fascination, observe those moments when players become carried away, when they exclaim joyously, when they leap into the air or rise off their seats as if suddenly weightless.  Notice those moments when teams cheer one another, when the thrill of the play dissolves rivalry.  When you identify the dynamic at play—the true spirit of the game—you can foster it, prolong it, and take it to Olympic heights.

2. Improve your flexibility and agility (whether muscular or mental).  To stretch your gray matter, a Web search for "lateral thinking exercise" will offer puzzles unsolvable by traditional step-by-step logic.  To increase your physical flexibility, the "sun salutation" of Yoga is a 12-step series of poses that exercise every muscle and joint of the body.  Do a Web search for "sun salutation" to find free pictorial guidance.

3. Use drills to work on weaknesses (whether muscular or mental).  If another player is one step ahead of you mentally or one second faster than you physically, that's a winning edge.  A single increment of improvement may be all you need for success.  Set simple goals and work one step at a time.

4. Better your memory.  A good memory is a boon to virtually any game.  A Web search for "memory game" will yield hundreds of free online resources for exercising your powers of recollection.

5. Dispel falsehoods that hinder you.  Are you convinced that golf isn't a woman's game, or that softball is a young person's game, or that pinball is about making lights blink with a rolling ball?  Educate yourself about your game.  Read books, explore websites, talk to other players.  There's always more to learn.

6. Sharpen your concentration.  This is the age of the eleven-second attention span.  Being easily distracted is ruinous to game play.  Sharpening your concentration takes conscious, prolonged, repeated effort.  Keep a journal about your game.  Thinking and writing about your game will help to increase your power of concentration.

7. Manage your stress.  Stress management techniques will help you improve virtually any game.  A Web search for "stress management" will yield hundreds of free online tips and techniques.  One marvelous stress reducer is laughter.  A Web search for "laughter therapy" will inform you about how laughter reduces stress hormones, boosts immunity, promotes a positive attitude, and engenders a feeling of power.

8. Practice solo.  If your game involves two or more people, don't let that fact discourage you from practicing any aspects you can work on by yourself.

9. Embrace change.  "Change is necessary to improve your game.  You must not be afraid to risk giving up the known for the unknown if you wish to play better."[2]

10. The final tip is too specific to apply to just any game.  You already know what it implies, or will soon discover it through your ongoing self-education.  Perhaps this tip will require the help of a coach or the advice of a teaching pro.  Perhaps it will involve visualization techniques, or the use of a video camera, or familiarization with quantum physics.  This final tip may be the ultimate key to your fullest enjoyment of your game.


[1] Lewis Henry Morgan, League of the Ho-dé-no-sau-nee Or Iroquois, 1904, p. 303.
[2] Philip B. Capelle, Play Your Best Pool, 1995, p. 383.
> read more from Puzzles and Games . . .
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

Original Content Copyright © 2019 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.