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.
October 31, 2009

Not Rocket Science (permalink)

 
* Inspired by Martha Brockenbrough, our puzzle book Not Rocket Science is available from Amazon.com.
> read more from Not Rocket Science . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: fingers or toes?

Clue:  This is according to a guide to drawing comics

Answer:  Toes.  (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 . . .


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... . . .

October 30, 2009

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


Inspired by William Keckler, who offers further advice here.
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 . . .


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"There ought to be a book written and put in the hands of every child, enjoining the kind treatment of animals."
Pacific Medical and Surgical Journal and Western Lancet, 1859, p. 111
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

October 29, 2009

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 . . .


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... . . .

October 28, 2009

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Ironically, the best way to dance your way out of a support group is the two-step.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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 . . .

October 27, 2009

The 40 Most Meaningful Things (permalink)

 
> read more from The 40 Most Meaningful Things . . .


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 . . .


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... . . .

October 26, 2009

Annotated Ellipses (permalink)

The three sad eyes of the ellipses...
by Gary Barwin

for Craig Conley

The three sad eyes of the ellipses. Something is lost. Three islands. Small songs of in a sea that prefers to forget the land. The mouth opens and begins to speak; there is nothing that can be said. One world followed by another and then another. Tiny black specks at the end of the galaxy. A three frame animation where nothing appears to happen, though perhaps down on the miniscule surface, there are different kinds of silences, memories, things forgotten or left. The trailing off, the continuing on. Small black stones in the river of speech. Three tunnels waiting for the three trains of past, present, and somewhere in between. Dots lost and drifting from i’s, j’s, or umlauts, floating between words in the cloudbound grammar above the teleological cities of the sentence. Notes from a song with neither pitch nor rhythm. The dark matter music between things. Three brother molecules in a subatomic folktale, though it is unclear which is the youngest, most foolish, most likely to wed the princess. An echo of the full stop at the end of the sentence. Things end, but their ripples mark the page with their tiny fingerprints. Here I am, though what I was is forgotten, disappeared, or unclear. I grip the cliff of the page, holding on until you get here ready to imagine what I might have been.

---

Paul Dean writes:

Brilliant!
> read more from Annotated Ellipses . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: stocking feet or bare feet?

Clue:  This is according to a guide to drawing comics

Answer:  Stocking feet.  (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 . . .

October 25, 2009

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
I misunderstood a warning sign that said "Hot cars kill dogs." I thought it was referring to a Corvette (fast cars run over animals), or perhaps a Jaguar (for a play on the food chain).
> 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... . . .

October 24, 2009

Not Rocket Science (permalink)

 
* Inspired by Martha Brockenbrough, our puzzle book Not Rocket Science is available from Amazon.com.
> read more from Not Rocket Science . . .


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 . . .

October 23, 2009

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

The original lowbrow: Alexander Wedderburn, 1st Earl of Rosslyn (Lord Loughborough).
Though prima facie the opposite of highbrow, lowbrow is actually a corruption of Lord Loughborough (Alexander Wedderburn, 1st Earl of Rosslyn), notorious for being so dull that he caused dullness in others.

---


And I thought the word "lowbrow" derived from the name of a beer!
> 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... . . .

October 22, 2009

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


Inspired by William Keckler.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"There ought to be a book about eggs."
Lorus Johnson Milne, A Multitude of Living Things, 1947, p. 108.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

October 21, 2009

The 40 Most Meaningful Things (permalink)

 
> read more from The 40 Most Meaningful Things . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which credit card is funnier: Visa or MasterCard?

Clue:  This is according to literary humorist Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.

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

Citation:  Personal correspondence, Aug. 25, 2007.  Jonathan adds:

"And what a triumph for "MasterCard" to be even funnier than a word with an "ee" sound in it! "MasterCard" sounds like someone has dropped an empty corrugated* box down a flight of stairs.

*Funnier word than "cardboard."
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .


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... . . .

October 20, 2009

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

He shook my hand heartily and slapped me on the back and gave me a slice of cake. I had never had cake, and in retrospect it doesn’t make much sense that he would greet me at nine thirty in the morning with cake, but he did, and it was delicious. A white cream cake with stripes of sunflower orange.

—Dave Eggers, What is the What, 2006

* 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 . . .


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"Someone ought to write a book exploring the political alibis men and states have given for their awful actions."
Arnold Wesker, Said the Old Man to the Young Man, 1978, p. 181.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

October 19, 2009

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Folklore warns against eating oysters in months without "R's" (namely May through August).  Those oyster-free months constitute the "dog days of summer," which is ironic given that "R is the dog's letter" (Ben Jonson, 1636).
> 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... . . .

October 18, 2009

Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"Why make a book? Why bother? . . .

"Making a book creates a midnight in which synaptic lightning illuminates our skull’s planetarium. It lets us peek into how we think we might work. . . .

"A book is a delivery system for a hallucinogen you ingest though the eyes and digest in the mind. A book allows one imagination to taste the inside of another.”

David Barringer, There’s Nothing Funny about Design, 2009.

(via DJMisc)
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .


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 . . .

October 17, 2009

Not Rocket Science (permalink)

 
* Inspired by Martha Brockenbrough, our puzzle book Not Rocket Science is available from Amazon.com.
> read more from Not Rocket Science . . .


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... . . .

October 16, 2009

Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)


> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which windy phenomenon is funnier: a hat blowing off or an umbrella turning inside out?

Clue:  This is according to Fordham University’s Thought magazine

Answer:  an umbrella.  “An umbrella turning inside out is funnier than a hat blowing off because an umbrella is made to be opened, to change its shape when its owner wills.”  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Fordham University, Thought (Spring 1952), p. 59
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

October 15, 2009

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
We popularly say that ASAP is an acronym meaning "as soon as possible."  But ASAP comes to us from the Greek storyteller ÆSAP, whose brief fables can be read on the quick.
> 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... . . .

October 14, 2009

The 40 Most Meaningful Things (permalink)

 
> read more from The 40 Most Meaningful Things . . .


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 . . .


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 . . .

October 13, 2009

The Right Word (permalink)

One-Letter Words: A Dictionary (HarperCollins).
The blogger at Grammar Tales recently encountered our One-Letter Words: A Dictionary at the University of Toronto library: "My first thought was that this must be a very short book."

Speaking of One-Letter Words, we hear that our dictionary is going out of print, so be sure to snag your copy ASAP!
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
The professor abandoned teaching by degrees.
> 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... . . .

October 12, 2009

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

If they were good it would be seene,
Good is as visible as greene,
And to all eyes it selfe betrayes.

—John Donne, ‘Communitie,’ 1633; quoted by Bruce R. Smith in The Key of Green, 2009

* 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 . . .


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"Somebody should write a book on 'Debunking the Debunkers,' somebody, that is, aside from the Freudians."
Ralph Tyler Flewelling, The Personalist, 1947, p. 435.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

October 11, 2009

Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
True or False: Vegetables are “as funny now as they have ever been, especially leeks”?

Clue:  This is according to comic writer Terry Pratchett

Answer:  False.  Vegetables are “not as funny as they used so be, especially leeks.”  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Terry Pratchett, The Truth (2001), p. 106.
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .


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... . . .

October 10, 2009

Not Rocket Science (permalink)

 
* Inspired by Martha Brockenbrough, our puzzle book Not Rocket Science is available from Amazon.com.
> read more from Not Rocket Science . . .


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 . . .

October 9, 2009

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


See the entire poem here.
> 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... . . .

October 8, 2009

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


Inspired by William Keckler, who offers further information about shadows here.


Q. What did one shadow puppet say to the other?
A. Let’s have a show of hands.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"There needs to be a book on native Oklahoma pests."
—"Bugs and Other Scary Things in Oklahoma," June 30, 2007.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

October 7, 2009

The 40 Most Meaningful Things (permalink)

 
> read more from The 40 Most Meaningful Things . . .


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... . . .

October 6, 2009

Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore (permalink)


Text courtesy of William Keckler.
> read more from Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Who are funnier: superstitious atheists or superstitious Catholics?

Clue:  This is according to Catholic World magazine

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

Citation:  Paulist Fathers, Catholic World, vol. 123 (1926), p. 840
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

October 5, 2009

Ampersands (permalink)
"The & represents life and what comes after."
—visual artist Iain Baxter&, who legally added the & to his name

(Thanks, Gary Barwin!)
> read more from Ampersands . . .


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 . . .


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... . . .

October 4, 2009

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
The eleventh hour leaves me at sixes and sevens (unless I'm dressed to the nines).
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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 . . .

October 3, 2009

Not Rocket Science (permalink)

 
* Inspired by Martha Brockenbrough, our puzzle book Not Rocket Science is available from Amazon.com.
> read more from Not Rocket Science . . .


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... . . .

October 2, 2009

Unicorns (permalink)

A compact handbook of mythic proportions.
We're honored that our Field Guide to Identifying Unicorns by Sound is a favorite specimen of Year 2 New Media students at the University for the Creative Arts in Epsom.  Folks in the United Kingdom know their unicorn lineage down to a point.
> read more from Unicorns . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Atheists who celebrate only bar and bat mitzvahs: Jews in a formal life.
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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 . . .

October 1, 2009

Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which word is funnier: credit card or money?

Clue:  This is according to the book Drawing on the Funny Side of the Brain

Answer:  Credit card, as it is “more specific.”  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Christopher Hart, Drawing on the Funny Side of the Brain (1998), p. 107
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .


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.