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 31, 2009

Something, Defined (permalink)
INSTRUCTIONS: Click on the puzzle image below to reveal the solution!

Their conversation had gone like this: Something something, ... the White Dog of Afghanistan ... something entirely unintelligible (from Mark Helprin, Winter's Tale, 2005)
> read more from Something, Defined . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"I believe everybody should keep another's diary.  It's an enormously healthy exercise."
—Enrique Vila-Matas, Montano's Malady
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .

January 30, 2009

The Right Word (permalink)
Over at Aeclectic Tarot, Bonnie Cehovet reviews Magic Words: A Dictionary and discusses what makes a word magical.

Meanwhile, a recent contest at SPOGG (involving the word "lickerish") offered our book Not Rocket Science as a prize.  Here's the announcement of the winner and runner-up.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)

From the inimitable Tom Weller, author of the classic Science Made Stupid, comes this "minim" (the perfect answer to the maxim):
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .

January 29, 2009

A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .

January 28, 2009

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed of a poem by Gary Barwin:

The semicolon dreams.  It isn’t one, but two.  Brother and sister.  Mother and child.  Egg and sperm.  Zygotic.  X and Y.  Chromosomal.  A Bicameron over the corpus callosum of the page.  A greater and lesser brain, brontosaural.  A thought and its strange horn.  The beginning and end of sleep.  A dream of dreaming and of waking.  A hand and its other becoming breath and its shadows, a one eye open, a book.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


Annotated Ellipses (permalink)

 
* Ellipses don’t merely omit superfluous words or mark pauses.  Far from it!  In an astonishing number of cases, the ellipses illustrate a narrative, inviting the reader to “connect the dots.”  Learn more about Annotated Ellipses at Amazon.com.
> read more from Annotated Ellipses . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator (permalink)


INSTRUCTIONS:
In alternate turns, complete a row, column, or diagonal with three X’s or O’s. Each X and O has a discrete unit of meaning, as detailed in the Dictionary of One-Letter Words. Choose and write a letter meaning alongside each X and O placed in the grid; don’t repeat a letter meaning within the same game. Number each turn on the grid, to establish the linear progression of the story. When the game is finished, use the sequence of key words to construct your story, adding connecting phrases as necessary.

Click here for a printable template.  Thanks to Gary Barwin for inspiration!
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier in its growing-up stage: a fern or a schoolboy?

Clue:  This is according to a gardener

Answer:  A fern.  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Frances Anne Bardswell, The Book of Town and Window Gardening (1903), p. 85
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

January 27, 2009

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


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #37:

"The only certainty in this issue is that, whatever he the outcome, it will please a few and greatly displease many others."
Scott McCleskey, Achieving Market Integration, 2003
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .

January 26, 2009

Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


Gary Barwin writes:

...but wait a while and that acorn, like the memory, may become a massive oak.

Something like: If you can't bring the memory to mind, the mind will move to the memory.

Great, piece, Craig.
Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Pfft! (permalink)
"I just — pfft-pfft — spent money like that." —John Miller Chernoff, Hustling is Not Stealing
* The British expression "noise stroke gesture" (in American parlance, "noise slash gesture" or "noise/gesture") refers to the intriguing fact that some vocal expressions seem to call for an accompanying hand gesture.  Take, for example, Pfft!  No matter what its intended meaning, it virtually demands to be echoed in sign language.  Have you noticed a pfft hand gesture in print?  Please share!

For a variety of surprising definitions of pfft, check out my Dictionary of All-Consonant Words at OneLetterWords.com.
> read more from Pfft! . . .

January 25, 2009

Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:
Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"There may be no torture like the years when one learns little after years when one has learned much."
Norman Mailer, Ancient Evenings  (A must-read!)
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .

January 24, 2009

Colorful Allusions (permalink)
Our spectral bookcase was honored as "Bookshelf of the Week" at RobAroundBooks.  Rob says he "can’t envisage any hardcore bibliophile storing their libraries like this.  It must be hugely impractical!"  But consider the Serif of Nottingblog's viewpoint: "What you've done privileges the unexpected connections between books, between subjects.  Despite your blog being 'Abecedarian,' your book organization realizes that knowledge can be organized or accessed via a totally different set of assumptions."

Our bookcase was also featured at The Book Chook a few weeks ago.
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


Something, Defined (permalink)
INSTRUCTIONS: Click on the puzzle image below to reveal the solution!

Something something something means lots and lots of ___ beans. Perhaps ___ itself? (from Barbara Pym, An Unsuitable Attachment, 1983)
> read more from Something, Defined . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Q: What's the best candy for a minimalist film?

A: Dots.

(Inspired by Martha.)
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #36:

"The only certainty, the only truth, is the certainty of physical decay."
Paul Cavill, The Christian Tradition in English Literature, 2007
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .

January 23, 2009

Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"There should be a book, which, when made up, should be unalterable."
John Simpson Armstrong, A Report of the Proceedings on an Indictment for a Conspiracy, 1844, p. 34.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator (permalink)


INSTRUCTIONS:
In alternate turns, complete a row, column, or diagonal with three X’s or O’s. Each X and O has a discrete unit of meaning, as detailed in the Dictionary of One-Letter Words. Choose and write a letter meaning alongside each X and O placed in the grid; don’t repeat a letter meaning within the same game. Number each turn on the grid, to establish the linear progression of the story. When the game is finished, use the sequence of key words to construct your story, adding connecting phrases as necessary.

Click here for a printable template.  Thanks to Gary Barwin for inspiration!
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Tic Tac Toe Story Generator . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .

January 22, 2009

The Right Word (permalink)
We stumbled upon a spooky yet poetic mention of one-letter words in an article about brainstorming for graphic designers:

[J]ot down some one letter words that best describe your idea.
For example: sunset, skeleton, dark and death.

Sunset, skeleton, dark, and death.  Are these truly one-letter words?  (Delightful of you to ask, by the way!)  They are, indeed!

Sunsets recall more than a single one-letter word:  While the French poet Victor Hugo famously said that "O is the sun," astronomers use a different one-letter word to designate the class of yellow stars to which our sun belongs: G.  Additionally, in the ionosphere, the E layer develops around sunset, at an altitude of 90-130km.

Skeletons recall the letter R.  In organic chemistry, "The letter R represents the carbon skeleton of the molecule" (Gerard Tortora, Principles of Anatomy and Physiology, 2005).  And novelist William Gibson has noted "the color of glow-in-the-dark toy skeletons, each with its own iconic M" (Pattern Recognition, 2003). 

Darkness recalls M, a state of deep, dreamless sleep in which consciousness is "lost in darkness" (Joseph Campbell, The Mythic Image, 1974).  Poet Tom Sleigh describes an injured driver's face, "each eye / an x of darkness" ("The Wreck," The Dreamhouse, 1999).

Death recalls Z, as in Arnold Yarrow's Death is a Z (1978).  It also recalls O, as in cultural theorist Earl Jackson, Jr.'s "big O of death" (Strategies of Deviance, 1995).

Sunset, skeleton, dark, and death: all highly evocative definitions of our ABCs!
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed I underwent a colonoscopy.


Designed by the Serif of Nottingblog.


After the procedure, I was beautiful enough to appear in Amy Sedaris, Paul Dinello, and Stephen Colbert's hilarious book Wigfield.


A semi-asterisk typo from page 156 of Wigfield.

Granted, I was a typo, but that's why they called me "The Insinuator."
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: a wolverine or a porcupine?

Clue:  This is according to Jack C. Horn.

Answer:  A porcupine.  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Julius Nicholas Hook, All Those Wonderful Names (1991), p. 317

---

Jeff writes:

Having been unnaturally infatuated with the Wolverine for some time, I note (without spoiling the riddle) this magnificent animal's little-known facility with ironic one-liners, e.g. "Have you eaten yet?"  Just fyi.
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

January 21, 2009

Colorful Allusions (permalink)
"We are all like cornflakes."
—Jeff of Omegaword, spoofing Lewis Black's "We are all like snowflakes."  See our snowflake finds: one, two, three, four.


"Corn stalks in the snow" by matneym.
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


Unicorns (permalink)

Tamara's colors: forest shadow; forest floor; ancient oak; dappled sunlight; resting unicorn. 
> read more from Unicorns . . .


Ampersands (permalink)


* A manual for typographers published in 1917 acknowledged that there are many beautiful forms of the ampersand, yet it forbade their use in "ordinary book work."  Extraordinary books are another matter.  Our lavishly illustrated Ampersand opus explores the history and pictography of the most common coordinating conjunction.
> read more from Ampersands . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
"Literature's worth lies in its power of mystification, in mystification it has its truth; therefore a fake [i.e., a counterfeit of an author's work], as the mystification of a mystification, is tantamount to a truth squared."
Italo Calvino, If On a Winter's Night a Traveler  (Such an extraordinary book!)
> read more from The Right Word . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .

January 20, 2009

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

"We are all like snowflakes."
—comedian Lewis Black

(This snowflake is "The Love of Icarus" by Rodney Leong, incorporating 20,664 plastic collar stays.  Read more here.  Thank you, m0ddie!)
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"There needs to be a book just called 'Dummies.'  That way, even the smartest, most talented individuals can participate."
—Jason Tanamor, "Here's a Column for Dummies," Western Courier, May 3, 2002.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

The hair of most so- called redheads actually is orange, but it was red, first color in the spectum and the last seen by the eyes of the dying, it was true- blue red that clanged like fire bells about the domes of Bernard Mickey Wrangle and Princess Leigh- Cheri.
—Tom Robbins, Still Life with Woodpecker, 1980.

* Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.
 
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

January 19, 2009

The Right Word (permalink)
We wish to comfort a blogger who is chilled "to think of how our language will soon be condensed to one letter words and the absence of vowels."  We saw this coming years ago.  Forewarned is forearmed.  Hence: One-Letter Words: A Dictionary and All-Consonant Words: A Dictionary.  If there's anything else we can do, let us know.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #35:

"The single certainty seems to be that there will be no going back to the status quo ante."
F.N. Norman, Constitutional Change in the United Kingdom, 2002
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .

January 18, 2009

Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


Annotated Ellipses (permalink)
Jeff wrote:

Ha! I love it!  But how to pronounce that p . . .
* Ellipses don’t merely omit superfluous words or mark pauses.  Far from it!  In an astonishing number of cases, the ellipses illustrate a narrative, inviting the reader to “connect the dots.”  Learn more about Annotated Ellipses at Amazon.com.
> read more from Annotated Ellipses . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"Such is the power of wine.  It is, after all, the juice that comes from a dying grape—to get drunk is to know how it is to begin to die."
Norman Mailer, Ancient Evenings  (What a truly amazing read!)
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Pfft! (permalink)
MORRIS: What does that mean — pfft?
SHLOMO: It means nothing. ... Pfft this, pfft that.
Allan Knee, Second Avenue Rag
* The British expression "noise stroke gesture" (in American parlance, "noise slash gesture" or "noise/gesture") refers to the intriguing fact that some vocal expressions seem to call for an accompanying hand gesture.  Take, for example, Pfft!  No matter what its intended meaning, it virtually demands to be echoed in sign language.  Have you noticed a pfft hand gesture in print?  Please share!

For a variety of surprising definitions of pfft, check out my Dictionary of All-Consonant Words at OneLetterWords.com.
> read more from Pfft! . . .

January 17, 2009

The Right Word (permalink)
From our Magic Words outpost at Blogger:

"'Creation,' like 'creative,' is one of those hypnotic words which are prone to cast a spell upon the understanding and dissolve our thinking into a haze.  And out of this nebulous state of the intellect springs a strange but widely prevalent idea.  The shaping spirit of imagination sits aloof, like God as he is commonly conceived, creating in some thaumaturgic fashion out of nothing its visionary world.  That and that only is deemed to be 'originality'—that, and not the imperial moulding of old matter into imperishably new forms.  The ways of creation are wrapt in mystery; we may only marvel, and bow the head."  —John Livingston Lowes, The Road to Xanadu, 1927
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: “Tuesday afternoon” or “Wednesday afternoon”?

Clue:  This is according to a geologist

Answer:  Tuesday afternoon.  “I don't know why Tuesday afternoon sounds funnier than any other time of the week.”  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Derek Ager, The New Catastrophism (1993), p. 83.
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)


Jeff writes:

Too true.
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .

January 16, 2009

Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
Our dictionary of Magic Words has garnered five new reviews:

Magic Words is more than a dictionary - it is an impassioned call to writers, magicians and laypeople to bring magic back into their vocabulary. It is, in fact, an incantation calling forth the demons hidden within our speech, and no reader will finish this book without succumbing to its spell.

Let there be no doubt about it: Conley is on a mission to promote literacy, and his love of words possesses the cabbalistic reverence of an alchemist in pursuit of gold. For it is in the meaning of each word, of each letter of each word, that we discover the mysterious powers of language - or, as the author puts it, it is the inherent enchantment of the word that gives literature its magical influence. And this book will influence you in a most magical way.

—Anthony Marais, author of The Cure

---

Words are inherently magical for the writer—also frustrating, obtuse, enchanting and expressive in various moments and times. We struggle with them, delight in them, and weave them together to form significant combinations.  Dictionaries are our friends, lists of synonyms our best buddies, and there are many of us who take simple delight in the well-turned phrase.  Craig Conley has given us a gift beyond regard: a dictionary of 720 of the words used by (stage) magicians throughout the ages.  Who can forget the shiver of delight we felt when hearing "open sesame" in the tale of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves?  Or the eternal Abracadabra! and Hocus Pocus?  Now we know where they originated, with their meanings, in combinations, and source material.  But this is no common dictionary!  Conley clearly loves words.  "Hocus Pocus: These primal, rhyming syllables echo the transcendental incantations of Latin rites, reverberating through hallowed cloisters.  They invoke an ancient, unworldly power, especially when enunciated slowly and authoritatively." (p. 327)  Highly recommended for anyone with a taste for words.

—Lisa Mc Sherry, Facing North

---

This 352 page dictionary of magic words was a real hoot to review, I had a blast just thumbing through the pages and learning about myths, origins, trivia and other cool stuff. I even learned how to summon zombies and bring big changes into my life. I also found the illustrations and icons to be very helpful with the process.  I must tell you I knew of some magic words from books and movies, but I never imagined there were so many and even how they came to be in the first place. I think this voluminous teacher will go a long way in helping anyone broaden their horizons. I would recommend it to those who enjoy learning. Thanks Craig, for the interesting and informative experience.

—Riki Frahmann, Mystic Living Today

---

I just got "Magic Words: A Dictionary." What fun! Magic words taken from literature, plays, movies; all the way from Ovid to Shakespeare to Ronald Hutton to J.K. Rowling!

Each word is presented as a word (with variations, if any) and then in a quote, and then meanings are given from many historical sources.

It would be interesting to sprinkle them in my conversation or journal writing or even for magic! Alakazam and abracadabra and hocus pocus, but also Hola Noa Massa, and Lit Flitt Latt Flight, and Shubismack. They are even just fun to say.

There is also an Appendix of "magic words" used by people in various professions - "action" for movies, "troubleshoot" for computer technicians.

Chela's Amazon.com review

---

Any interested in the words and philosophy of Wicca and magic will find Magic Words a fascinating dictionary packed with magic words and phrases from around the world. Over seven hundred essay-style entries probe the origins of magical words, their history, and their variations. Sources range from ancient Medieval alchemists to modern necromancers and magical legends, making for a fine trivia and study reference.

—Diane C. Donovan, California Bookwatch
> read more from The Right Word . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #34:

"Separation is the only certainty.  Transformation is the only constant."
Joseph Cohen, Voices of Israel, 1990
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .

January 15, 2009

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"I believe we lose immortality because we have not conquered our opposition to death; we keep insisting on the primary, rudimentary idea: that the whole body should be kept alive.  We should seek to preserve only the part that has to do with consciousness." —Adolfo Bioy Casares, The Invention of Morel
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Strange Dreams (permalink)
"From mirror to mirror—this is what I happen to dream of—the totality of things, the whole, the entire universe, divine wisdom could concentrate their luminous rays into a single mirror." —Italo Calvino, If On a Winter's Night a Traveler  (A book absolutely not-to-be-missed.)


If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .

January 14, 2009

The Right Word (permalink)
We wrote a guest blog about magic words for Neatorama today.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"Somebody ought to write a book 'On the art of discovering the real motives for human actions.'"
Rudolf Kayser, Stendhal: The Life of an Egoist, 1930, p. 176
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .


Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)
Can you decode this eerie lost prophecy of Nostradamus?

Black rivers spill
down the cross of red.
Moonstruck hordes gather
to see the face of god.

"Black rivers" refers to ink, to be spilled by Hermann Rorschach, a psychoanalyst from Switzerland (hence "cross of red," home of the Red Cross organization).  The "moonstruck hordes" are analysands ("lunacy" traditionally being associated with the full moon), and what they see in the inkblots distinguishes psychosis from mere neurosis.
> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Beats look cooler than any other Bohemian. They are the toughest, most tautly attired of all the Bohemians. Indigo, white, putty and black are the main colors, black being the most dominant. Black jeans, black jackets, black wingtips, black sneakers, black ballet slippers, black berets, black sweaters, black shirts, black coffee. . . .

Outerwear is generally the same for Beats of all sexes and will include a trench coat in black, navy or beige, a camel’s- hair coat from a thrift shop ar a navy blue peacoat. A corduroy jacket may appear from time to time in the academic as well as the non- academic Beat wardrobe. This will be brown, forest green or burgundy.
—Laren Stover, Bohemian Manifesto: A Field Guide to Living on the Edge, 2004.

---

Jeff wrote:

Hmmm . . . black aside, A Field Guide to Living on the Edge may be just the sort of book I need.
* Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.
 
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

January 13, 2009

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed I was tied up.


> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
"What does the name of an author on the jacket matter?  Let us move forward in thought to three thousand years from now.  Who knows which books from our period will be saved, and who knows which authors' names will be remebered?  Some books will remain famous but will be considered anonymous works, as for us the epic of Gilgamesh; other authors' names will still be well known, but none of their works will survive, as was the case with Socrates; or perhaps all the surviving books will be attributed to a single, mysterious author, like Homer." —Italo Calvino, If On a Winter's Night a Traveler  (A work of genius!)
> read more from The Right Word . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .

January 12, 2009

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
If an animated cartoon costs $100 per second, then every production could save $1,700 by having a character seek to go unnoticed by pretending to be an unblinking statue.  The following interior monologue could play over a still frame:

Perhaps if I stay silent, breathe quietly, and hold myself rigid, no one will notice me.  I mustn't blink; I mustn't twitch; for I am a majestic marble statue, mute and blind (albeit wearing spectacles).  Motionless stand I upon no pedestal, for Mother Earth is my plinth.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Ampersands (permalink)


* A manual for typographers published in 1917 acknowledged that there are many beautiful forms of the ampersand, yet it forbade their use in "ordinary book work."  Extraordinary books are another matter.  Our lavishly illustrated Ampersand opus explores the history and pictography of the most common coordinating conjunction.
> read more from Ampersands . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
True or False: A Hitler mustache is funnier than any other mustache.

Clue:  This is according to a guide to drawing comics

Answer:  True.  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Suck School of Comic Art, Suck.com, (Nov. 7, 1997)
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #33:

"Guilt may be the one thing beyond doubt, the single certainty we have."
David Lehman, The Perfect Murder, 2000
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .

January 11, 2009

The Right Word (permalink)
Did you know that International Swear Like Shakespeare Day is Nov. 27, 2009?  We're honored to announce that SwearLikeShakespeare.com is featuring our illustration of curses of Shakespearean proportions.

If an infinite number of monkeys type for an infinite amount of time, will they will eventually produce every possible Shakespearean insult?  This is our question, not Wilfried Hou Je Bek's, but he did inspire it.  Here's a link to a PDF of a maledicta book produced by a group of Sulawesi Macaque monkeys: Notes Towards the Complete Words of Shakespeare.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .

January 10, 2009

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
In honor of the biggest full moon of the year, here's a lovely page from the Serif of Nottingblog's Mollusks of Jealousy:
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


Unicorns (permalink)
Our Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound was featured this week at Library Everywhere.  Thanks, Mandy!

---

Mandy Durham wrote:

No- thank YOU! I have been unicorn-obsessed from a very early age, and am still reeling from the discovery of your breathtaking Field Guide.

I work for a public library and am now trying to ensure we have at least one copy of every book you've written. Really enchanting, thought-provoking work.

Now I'm unicorn AND Craig Conley-obsessed.
> read more from Unicorns . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


 
Thanks to Gary Barwin for inspiration.
Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Pfft! (permalink)
"'Pfft, pfft, pfft,' Mama made spitting noises to drive away the demons." —Sylvia Smoller, Rachel and Aleks
* The British expression "noise stroke gesture" (in American parlance, "noise slash gesture" or "noise/gesture") refers to the intriguing fact that some vocal expressions seem to call for an accompanying hand gesture.  Take, for example, Pfft!  No matter what its intended meaning, it virtually demands to be echoed in sign language.  Have you noticed a pfft hand gesture in print?  Please share!

For a variety of surprising definitions of pfft, check out my Dictionary of All-Consonant Words at OneLetterWords.com.
> read more from Pfft! . . .

January 9, 2009

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
From the mind of literary scalawag Jonathan Caws-Elwitt and the handiwork of our resident programmer Mike comes a wacky birthday message generator in the style of a cryptic tax form.  Print one out for the next birthday on your calendar (especially if it's your own!)


Personalize and print your own wacky birthday form.
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #32:

"The only certainty is: The lightness/weight opposition is the most mysterious, most ambiguous of all."
—Milan Kundera, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, 1984
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)
Saint Axl
Patron of Egomania.


Art by Live Wire.
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .

January 8, 2009

Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


Don't miss Jeff's explanation of why ice is angry.
Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
"The author of every book is a fictitious character whom the existent author invents to make him the author of his fictions." —the stunning Italo Calvino, If On a Winter's Night a Traveler
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
After we researched our answer to this age-old question, we discovered a delightfully whimsical analysis: "Science has not yet adequately answered this question, mostly because science has gone about investigating it in entirely the wrong way. Traditionally, theologians have been set to work on this problem; but, in fact, to answer the question adequately, we need a milliner, or someone of a similar profession that requires a similar expertise in the use of pins. There are hundreds if not thousands of kinds, shapes, sizes, and colors of pins, and what we need is someone capable of sorting them out and making an accurate classification of their genera and species. By way of contrast, there are only nine orders of angels; so it would obviously be easier to teach a milliner everything he needs to know about theology than it would be to teach a theologian everything he needs to know about pins."  —Dr. Boli


Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .

January 7, 2009

Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)
From our Magic Words outpost at Blogspot:


Dedicated to Roswila.
> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


Quotation by Gary Barwin and Hugh Thomas.
Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .

January 6, 2009

Ampersands (permalink)
An unknotted ampersand by Gary Barwin:


> read more from Ampersands . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
What is “more humorous than the unconscious contradictions of earnest thought”?

Clue:  This is according to a Yale professor.

Answer:  Nothing.  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  George Angier Gordon, Ultimate Conceptions of Faith (1903), p. 141.
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .

January 5, 2009

The Right Word (permalink)
"Speculate, reflect: every thinking activity implies mirrors."  —Italo Calvino's masterpiece, If On a Winter's Night a Traveler


> read more from The Right Word . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #31:

"It is incommensurability itself which is, ultimately, the only certainty."
Anthony Pagden, European Encounters with the New World, 1993
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Because of an elliptical style, the complications between John Venn and his inner circle often went uncharted.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .

January 4, 2009

The Right Word (permalink)
"At one time a language existed that was immediately comprehensible to anyone with the concept of language." —William Burroughs, Cities of the Red Night
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Pfft! (permalink)
"The pfft! would be complete if I had developed any flair for fiction." —C. H. (Brick) Garrigues
* The British expression "noise stroke gesture" (in American parlance, "noise slash gesture" or "noise/gesture") refers to the intriguing fact that some vocal expressions seem to call for an accompanying hand gesture.  Take, for example, Pfft!  No matter what its intended meaning, it virtually demands to be echoed in sign language.  Have you noticed a pfft hand gesture in print?  Please share!

For a variety of surprising definitions of pfft, check out my Dictionary of All-Consonant Words at OneLetterWords.com.
> read more from Pfft! . . .

January 3, 2009

The Right Word (permalink)
Writing an "abbreviated history" isn't as easy it would seem.  For example:

Lt. Gen. Wm. B. of LV, NV (b. '43): mia (awol?) c. '63.  [42 characters]

Translation:
Lieutenant General William Baxter of Las Vegas, Nevada (born 1943) went missing in action (absent without leave?) circa 1963.  [106 characters]

The best abbreviated history we've seen has the squirm-inducing title of Castration: An Abbreviated History of Western Manhood.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)


Jeff writes:

Indeed.  Fortunately, I stay well above that line, thereby leaving the profundity to others.
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .

January 2, 2009

Ampersands (permalink)


* A manual for typographers published in 1917 acknowledged that there are many beautiful forms of the ampersand, yet it forbade their use in "ordinary book work."  Extraordinary books are another matter.  Our lavishly illustrated Ampersand opus explores the history and pictography of the most common coordinating conjunction.
> read more from Ampersands . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: Vancouver in the snow or rubber toothpicks?

Clue:  This is according to Ralph Milton, author of inspirational books

Answer:  Vancouver in the snow.  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Ralph Milton, Angels in Red Suspenders (1998), p. 81.
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Then Grandfather would begin to speak of the dreams that would visit him so often as time wore on. ... He'd been dreaming in blue, he'd say: the rain in his dream was the deepest blue, midnight blue, and it was this never- ending blue rain that made his hair and his beard grow even longer.
—Orhan Pamuk, The Black Book, translated by Maureen Freely, 2006

---

Marjo Moore writes:

I can't get over that book!! It's so clear why Pamuk got the Nobel. It's the most beautiful thing I've ever read!
* Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.
 
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .

January 1, 2009

Images Moving Through Time (permalink)

Did you know you can generate and download your own symbolic calendar each month (for free)?  Visit our MysteryArts.com/magic site, scroll to the bottom of the page, and give it a try.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
Certainty #30:

"Number is the only certainty."
Florence Nightingale On Mysticism, 2003
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


A Fine Line Between... (permalink)
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .



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