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.
March 31, 2007

The Right Word (permalink)

The Farkleberries website is located here.
The nifty Farkleberries "Chicago Style Culture Warbloggery" site (with its marvelous Aztec Ouroboros logo) had this to say about my all-vowel and no-vowel dictionaries:

When you've got to have the right word - even if vowels are verboten and consonants are compulsory, or vice versa - these online Strange Dictionaries are just the ticket.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Images Moving Through Time (permalink)

Detail of large image located here.
I've been on this bench, and it's just as unergonomic as it looks.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .

March 30, 2007

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)

Did you hear about the new IKEA item called the "Umlaut"?  It's an accent table.

What's the most popular name for a boy accent?  Mark.

What's the most popular name for a girl accent?  Dot.

Enough accent jokes—I've gotta dash.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


Uncharted Territories (permalink)
> read more from Uncharted Territories . . .

March 29, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
When asked where his dream house would be, foppish British interior designer Lawrence Llewelyn-Bowen (of BBC-America's "Changing Rooms" fame) chose Gloucestershire, specifying a Queen Anne house "built at a time before architecture became too contrived."

Which is this?

• Snobbishness
• Cultural sagacity


Columnist Andrew Catchpole says he "wouldn't be seen in a bus shelter" holding a bottle of E&J Gallo's "shocking pink 'white' zinfandel."

Which is this?

• Snobbishness
• Cultural sagacity
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Muffled Voice

Brad used the oldest trick in the book ... He put a handkerchief over the phone when he spoke to you.
—Ann Matthews Martin, Missing Since Monday (1994)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

March 28, 2007

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Did you hear that director Terry Gilliam is going to film a sequel to one of his old movies, and that he's going to deliberately ruin the film stock so as to gain special sympathy from the media?  The film will be entitled "The Adventures of Baron Munchausen By Proxy."


Baron Munchausen by Gustave Dore, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .

March 27, 2007

Uncharted Territories (permalink)
> read more from Uncharted Territories . . .


Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Misdirection

Misdirection, babe.  Made her appear innocent.  Oldest trick in the book.
—Alice Kimberly, The Ghost and Mrs. McClure (2004)

Once again, it was the oldest trick in the book.  Get everyone looking in one direction, while you plan something in the other.
—Mack Maloney, Superhawks (2004)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

March 26, 2007

Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary (permalink)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
What do you call a mapmaker who is unconcerned with capitals?

Case insensitive.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .

March 25, 2007

Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Jealousy

It’s the oldest trick in the book.  She’s just trying to make me jealous.
—Chris Wooding, Crashing (1998)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

March 24, 2007

Uncharted Territories (permalink)
> read more from Uncharted Territories . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

March 23, 2007

Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Mirrors

Strategically placed mirrors and reflective surfaces are one of the oldest tricks in the book- and for good reason: They work . . .
—Leslie Plummer Clagett, The New City Home (2003)

Mirrored structures obviously create the illusion of more space.  It’s the oldest trick in the book.
—Karen Haber, Exploring the Matrix (2003)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

March 22, 2007

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Q: Why are geniuses so often born prematurely?

A: They're too smart for the womb.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .

March 21, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

Paleontologist Dale Russell and artist Ron Sequin created a model of an intelligent "dinosauroid," evolved from a Troodon.  Photo via.
I've been compiling a list of things I excitedly told my kid brother 20 years ago, which he (annoyingly) scoffed at.  These were ideas (from any number of sources) that captured my imagination but which irritated my brother's skeptical brain and stimulated his argumentative nature:

1. Had dinosaurs not died out, they would have evolved into human beings.  [I had seen a computer model proving this one, with an illustration of what a dino-human would have looked like (scaly skin, lizard-like features, human frame).  In fairness to me, this was long, long before the general public had any reason to doubt computer models.  So-called evidence aside, I'd say my brother's suspicions about this one were overly exaggerated.  Here's a short article about the theoretical "dinosauroid."]

2. The Navy cannot train dolphins to plant underwater bombs, because dolphins are pacifists.  [I still like the idea of dolphins being pacifists.  I heard this one from my professor of transformational/generative grammar.  He didn't have the Navy's unclassified reports on hand.  Here's a brief mention of "the dolphin who refused to fight" in the Persian Gulf.]

3. Eskimos have hundreds of words for "snow," proving that different cultures experience different realities.  [This is indeed an urban legend.  My brother was right, though not necessarily for the right reasons.  Here's a Wikipedia article about the origins and significance of the myth.]

4. The only reason dolphins don't paint, sculpt, play instruments, and build buildings is that they don't have hands.  [In other words, dolphins don't have a culture due to a physical handicap, not because they're otherwise unevolved.  I still like this idea.  Here's an article entitled "Dolphins and Man — Equals?"]

Well, that's all I can think of right off the bat, though I recall my brother scoffing at me hundreds (if not thousands) of times.  Luckily, kid brothers don't carry much clout ... though here I am 20 years later still thinking about what mine scoffed at!
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

March 20, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Walking on air (with Hanan Levin)

High on life

A parachuter is taking one giant step, on an invisible current of air

A glass floor is transparent section of a floor in a building or a boat. Usually made of a reinforced glass, the most common use is as a tourist attraction. The highest above ground level is in the CN Tower in Toronto. The highest glass floor in a building in Europe is in the Spinnaker Tower in Portsmouth. The highest in Oceania is in the observation deck of Sky Tower in Auckland

Design and construction of Spinnaker Tower (From Apothecary's Drawer)

Here's a snapshot of "Sarah and Debbie standing on glass plates in the Auckland Sky Tower about 700 feet up in the air. This was just a few moments before lightning struck the tower." I'd say this counts as "walking on air"

One attraction of the Macau Tower is the "skywalk," which can be quite scary in cases of strong winds

The making of the Grand Canyon glass bridge

These lone Converse shoes hanging on a power line are walking on air. These occupied shoes are walking even higher

King Crimson

Back in 1934, Popular Mechanics featured newfangled boots with built-in rubber bladders, promising the sensation of "walking on air"

These guys in the treetops may be secured by ropes, but they're certainly walking on air

Mohammad Asif walking on air

Is this Washington Post photo an optical illusion or a Photoshop job?

Of course, the masters of walking on air are caterpillars

This is a post that I am “co-blogging” with Hanan Levin of Grow-a-Brain. Thank you, Hanan, for the links you suggested!


> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Mice

“Oh, he probably just crammed a mouse in there to fool us,” said George.  “It’s the oldest trick in the book.”
—Dav Pilkey, Captain Underpants and the Attach of the Talking Toilets (1999)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

March 19, 2007

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed I discovered a long-forgotten scrapbook.  In it was a poem by Tomas Ekström:

SEMICOLON

You ask me
where the misery is.

It's not here.
On the contrary:

the joy of a semicolon
at seven in the morning.

(translated by Lars Palm)
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .

March 18, 2007

Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Mass-Hypnosis

“[T]here were four witnesses who saw Vok, or Cole, do it.”
    “Mass hypnosis!” thundered Befz.  “The oldest trick in the book!  I have three hundred forty-eight cases in my records, of which probably the most illuminating was the Great Hollywood Bowl Pickpocket Scam.”
—Jack Adrian, “ The Absolute and Utter Impossibility of the Facts in the Case of the Vanishing of Henning Vok,” The Mammoth Book of Comic Crime (2002)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

March 17, 2007

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Did you hear the one I just made up about the rebellious pagan retailer? 

He held a "Winter Solstice in July" sale every year.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .

March 16, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
On this dreary day I spun the Follow Your Bliss compass, and the dial landed on "Study something new to expand your body, mind, spirit."  I decided to add something to the end of that instruction: "which will also help you to meet the deadline for your magazine article that's due next week."  So I did some more research into the ancient Near Eastern concept of a three-tiered universe.  Blissful?  Indeed!  Especially when I did some impromptu globe-hopping and lost myself in various Native American creation myths.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Letter Grids (permalink)
This puzzle grid contains several big words. Can you find them? (The grid is a sentence from the renowned HBO series "Deadwood." Actually, the word "renowned" is hidden within the grid. So is a 7-letter word referring to the retention of juvenile features in an adult animal.)

• 7-letter words: 11
• 8-letter words: 7
• 9-letter words: 2

All letters in the word must touch (in any direction), and no square may be reused.

Click to display solutions
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Letter Grids . . .

March 15, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:

Winter is on my head, but eternal spring is in my heart.
—Victor Hugo


> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

March 14, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
The other day a woman tearfully recalled a traumatic moment from her childhood.  Her mother had sent her on an errand, and she had failed.  Her mother confronted her, saying that she must try again, threatening that if she failed this time, she needn't bother coming home ever again.  Though six decades had passed, that merciless confrontation was as real in this woman's mind as if it had happened today.  And that got me to thinking: if physicists and philosophers are correct that linear time is illusory (and I have no reason to doubt them), then there's nothing wrong with dwelling on the past or daydreaming about the future.  In fact, reminiscing about long-distant events could actually be empowering.  In the absence of linear time, everything in our lives is happening simultaneously.  When we dwell on a so-called past event, we're bringing additional consciousness to that timeless moment.  On those occasions when we feel especially alert, perhaps even anticipating (as if through precognition) what's about to happen, it might be because in the so-called future our minds are racing back to that event, bringing new focus and increased knowledge or wisdom.  In other words, perhaps our "future" selves are offering the benefit of hindsight, in advance, as it were.  In any case, if linear time is an illusion then past events are as "real" as anything in the present.  All I know for sure is that I'll never tell anyone to "get over" the past again.

If linear time is an illusion, then daydreaming about the future might be related to future memories.  When we set goals, we're simply remembering the future.  That's why goal-setting helps to ensure success—it's a self-fulfilling prophecy, a foregone conclusion.  When we daydream about the future, perhaps it's our future-selves thinking back, saying, "Look how far I've come!"  Or perhaps it's our future-selves offering a little solace, saying, "Cheer up, kiddo—things will get better."

I've always loved Ram Dass' teaching: "Be here now."  I can't help but consider some slight revisions: "Be there now" and "Be then now."
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

March 13, 2007

Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
My four-year-old nephew recently drew a picture of his mother, and I was struck by the similarity to the paleolithic fertility goddess known as the "Venus of Wilendorf" (c. 24,000-22,000 BCE).  My nephew identified the circle above his mother's head as a halo.  Interestingly, his mother isn't obese.  Perhaps he was channeling the generous figure that was idealized by his ancient ancestors.  Or perhaps his mother's art history degree (earned pre-conception) affected his DNA? 


> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .

March 12, 2007

The Right Word (permalink)
Last weekend I reorganized my bookcase according to spine color.  The colors move in a zig-zag pattern, from top left (brown) to top right (red), then right to left (red to orange and yellow), and so on.  My friend Ken cautioned me not to "judge a book by its color."


> read more from The Right Word . . .

March 11, 2007

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Why are pieces of paper good mediators?
They see two sides to everything.

What did the piece of paper say at the poker game?
I fold.

How can you tell a paper lifeguard?
The watermark.

How did the stand-up comedian paper airplane start his act?
"I just flew in from Jersey and boy are my arms tired!"

Legal sized paper: the long and the short of it.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .

March 10, 2007

Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Making Things Look Easy

The oldest trick in the world is to make it look easy.  To make it look natural.
—Ruel A. Mayo, “Speaking of Patricia Evangelista” (2005)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

March 9, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

March 8, 2007

Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Illusion of Terror

It’s the oldest trick in the book.  You create the illusion of terror, then you get credit for stamping it out; you get funds, you get power.
—Jonathan Franzen, The Twenty-Seventh City (2001)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

March 7, 2007

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed I was a miscreant.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .

March 6, 2007

Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Lure of Sex

[T]he oldest trick of all—the lure of sex.
—Peter Hounam, The Woman from Massad (2000)
> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

March 5, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

"(Absent) Present" created by Christine Wong Yap.  More of her invisible gifts are on display at her website.  Don't miss the transparent gift box with transparent ribbons and bows!  Thank you, Christine!
(UPDATED)

Attending a Mime's Birthday Party:
The Do's and Don't's

As we all know, mimes deal only with invisible boxes.  If you wish to give a mime a birthday present, it must be enclosed in a transparent box or bag.  Finding a clear wrapping isn't too much of a challenge.  But what can you put in that clear wrapping that won't immediately spoil the surprise?  Actually, the sky's the limit!  Here are some clear winners:

  • a set of shot glasses
  • a crystal ball
  • a transparent novelty toilet seat
  • a clear quartz pendant
  • a beveled glass suncatcher
  • translucent sandals
  • a clear vinyl shower curtain
  • a clear rain poncho
  • a set of empty CD cases
  • bottled water
  • a clear glass paperweight
  • plastic wrap
  • acrylic martini glasses
  • a crystal clear iPOD NANO case
  • a pressed glass serving platter
  • a cut lead crystal flower vase
  • a window pane
  • a clear plastic comb
  • an invisible painting
  • a lucite and mirror coffee table

Now for the Don't's.  When visiting a mime's house, don't throw stones.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

March 4, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Awaking from a deep sleep, I experienced that uncanny phenomenon in which everything appears new and familiar all at once.  It was almost psychedelic, the way I seemed to see beneath the surface of things.  All veils of subjectivity—the distorting filters of my own expectations, fears, and desires—were stripped away.  The air was alive with the colored light of dawn.  All was revealed to be in a state of flux.  The random movements of the swarming seagulls out my window seemed governed by some higher ordering principle.  The plants and trees seemed to be hovering above the architecture.  Everything everywhere seemed to be vibrantly humming in excitement and joy.  On top of it all, time seemed to have no meaning.  It was like standing at the South Pole.  All the time zones come together at the end of the world.  A single pirouette can last an eternity.


> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

March 3, 2007

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
A lot of people assume that Willy Wonka was independently wealthy.  But that's not the case.  He had a sugar daddy.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .

March 2, 2007

Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Love

Love, then, [is] the oldest trick in the book.
—Anna Katsavos, “Using the Fantastic to Disrupt the Domestic,” Trajectories of the Fantastic (1997)

Father, I have sinned.  I have been stupid and blind and fooled by the oldest trick in the book.  Love.
—Annie Solomon, Dead Ringer (2003)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

March 1, 2007

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed they called me "The Terminator."
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .



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Original Content Copyright © 2014 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.