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.
September 30, 2009

The 40 Most Meaningful Things (permalink)

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


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"Someone ought to write a book.  Global Frontiers: The New Wild West?"
Irl Davis, The American Entrepreneur in Asia, 2005, p. 6.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .


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 . . .

September 29, 2009

The Right Word (permalink)

Bananagrammers find our Wye's Dictionary appealing.  [Insert comedy drum roll.]
Thanks to the Bananagrammer blog for recommending our Wye's Dictionary of Improbable Words to those "interested in obscure words on the extremes of human language."  We love how Bananagrammer says that our collections of all-consonant and all-vowel words "spin off into highly arcane references (at times approaching Borges-level bizarreness)."
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Uncharted Territories (permalink)


> read more from Uncharted Territories . . .


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... . . .

September 28, 2009

The Right Word (permalink)
"Writers don’t have to be brilliant conversationalists; it’s not their job to be smart except, of course, when they write. Hazlitt, that most self-conscious of writers, remarked that he did not see why an author 'is bound to talk, any more than he is bound to dance, or ride, or fence better than other people. Reading, study, silence, thought are a bad introduction to loquacity.'" —Arthur Krystal, "When Writers Speak," Sunday Book Review
> read more from The Right Word . . .


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


William Keckler explains:

This applies to June bugs, Japanese beetles, ladybugs and the like as well. Hierophants seem divided on whether or not this applies to the lightning bug. Better safe than sorry, I always say. Curses resulting from Scarab-Slighting can have quite gruesome sequelae.

An ancient Egyptian blessing should also be spoken. A good one would be...

"I bless your Carapace; I bless your Undercarriage; I bless your Antennae*; I bless your Many Legs; I bless your Tympanic Membrane; I bless you and Pray you will take Good Report of me to the Underworld." (Here you may ask for something which resembles the beetle in form. Hint: Blu-ray players have a carapace too!)

*I am substituting "Antennae" for the sake of North American probability. If it is indeed a genuine Egyptian scarab, you can substitute "Pincers."
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


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 . . .

September 27, 2009

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
Thanks to The Kenyon Review for linking to our Semicolon's Dream Journal in a lovely piece on semicolon addiction.


> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


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)

---

Osiris Melnick responds:

Haha! Love this one. Now I want to check the MJ quietus date. I'm guessing that was the genesis, but I'm terrible on chronology. I trust God to keep the years in the right places, because God knows I lay them all over the place.

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

September 26, 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 name is funnier: Shirley or Mary?

Clue:  This is according to comedy t.v. writer Jerry Rannow

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

Citation:  Jerry Rannow, Writing Television Comedy (2004), p. 87.
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

September 25, 2009

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Q: What do you call the horizontal strokes in the passage below?


 
A: Slapdashes!

(Snippet from Frances Hodgson Burnett's A Little Princess, 1987, p. 75)
> 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... . . .

September 24, 2009

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 . . .


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"There should be a book on the divided American left and that it should be titled either The Joy of Sects or Let Dogma Eat Dogma."
J. David Gillespie, Politics at the Periphery, 1993, p. 179.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

September 23, 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... . . .

September 22, 2009

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


 
Inspired by Hilary Caws-Elwitt, who also once quipped, "The Proust series is occasionally funny.  But I wouldn't call it a laugh a sentence, or a laugh a page . . . or even a laugh a paragraph."
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)
"In the curl of my tongue is the question still sleeping."  —Norman Mailer, Ancient Evenings

(Did we mention what an astonishing novel that is?)
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

September 21, 2009

Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Who are funnier: poets or poseurs?

Clue:  This is according to novelist Donald Barthelme

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

Citation:  Donald Barthelme, Paradise (2005), p. 156
(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... . . .

September 20, 2009

Something, Defined (permalink)
From Strangers with Candy:

Jerri Blank:  I'm having a lot of trouble cornering my dreams.  All I know is that when you quit school that day, the things you said really inspired me.

Geoffrey Jellineck:  Hey, Jerri, do you remember what I said?  Please?

Jerri Blank:  Of course.  You said "Something something, something."

Geoffrey Jellineck:  That loses a little "umph" the second time around.
> read more from Something, Defined . . .


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 . . .

September 19, 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... . . .

September 18, 2009

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


Inspired by Gary Barwin, who writes:

I know.  I found that you can complain tilde cows come home, but cedilla don't care.
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)
"Somebody should write a book ... on the Enthusiasm of Modern Style."
The Edinburgh Literary Journal, Jan. 1830. p. 99.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

September 17, 2009

Images Moving Through Time (permalink)

The three of cups from our Tarot of Portmeirion.
Thanks to the Mystic Medusa for showcasing our Tarot of Portmeirion this week!
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


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... . . .

September 16, 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 . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which half of the Bible is funnier: the Old Testament or the New Testament?

Clue:  This is according to an expert on penal law

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

Citation:  Francis Lieber, A Popular Essay on Subjects of Penal Law (1838), p. 77.
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

September 15, 2009

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
When Joseph Merrick visited, no one mentioned the Elephantiasis in the room.

[We apologize profusely for the bad taste of that joke.  By the way, as of today, Google points to the Mr Malark blog as the only other reference to the phrase "Elephantiasis in the room."]
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


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... . . .

September 14, 2009

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


Inspired by William Keckler.
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 . . .


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 . . .

September 13, 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 . . .


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... . . .

September 12, 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 . . .

September 11, 2009

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
Thanks to the Not Lower Case blog for mentioning our Semicolon's Dream Journal and calling it "quite amusing"!

And thanks to Blue Pencil Editing for calling us "perhaps the most creative blog ever"!

---

June writes:

"Perhaps"?  What perhaps?
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: a pratfall or a pie in the face?

Clue:  This is according to a book on the medicine show phenomenon of the 19th century

Answer:  A pie in the face.  “Nothing was more hilarious than a pratfall, until Doc Kelley invented the pie-in-the-face bit.”  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Ann Anderson, Snake Oil, Hustlers and Hambones: The American Medicine Show (2004), p. 124
(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... . . .

September 10, 2009

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

I was walking along minding my business
When love came and hit me in the eye
Flash! Bam! Alakazam!
Out of an orange colored sky.

—Milton DeLugg & Willie Stein, “Orange Colored Sky,” 1950

* 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)
"Some one ought to write a book on how to climb out of mediocrity and Be Somebody!"
William Dudley Pelley, The Fog, 1921, p. 320.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

September 9, 2009

The 40 Most Meaningful Things (permalink)

 
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A Fine Line Between... (permalink)

---

Morddred writes:

Been there. Lived it. About a million times. Great series. Philosophical Dualities Cast Asunder a la Wittgenstein. The deepst problems are no problems at all. They are these flash cards!
A printed collection of A Fine Line Between... is now available from Amazon.com.
> read more from A Fine Line Between... . . .

September 8, 2009

Colorful Allusions (permalink)


> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"There ought to be a book.  'A Guide for the Occasional Parent' — how to pack seven years into two days."
Rene Kuhn, Cornelia, 1948, p. 97.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

September 7, 2009

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Q: What do you call someone who attends fashionable society parties via an agency?

A: A debutemp.
> 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... . . .

September 6, 2009

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 :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: Freudians or Freud?

Clue:  This is according to The Hudson Review

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

Citation:  Frederick Morgan, The Hudson Review, Vol. 56, No. 1 (1948), p. 279
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

September 5, 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... . . .

September 4, 2009

Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Did you know that every one of Shakespeare's first drafts included five crude acts?
> 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 . . .

September 3, 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 . . .


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... . . .

September 2, 2009

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Back in c. 1909, a teacher sent my great-great grandmother a note asking why her daughter didn't come to school and reassuring her that the classroom was warm, comfortable, and germ-free!  

Many decades later, I (as the hooky-player's 15-year-old grandson) testified before the Louisiana State Legislature on behalf of the state's first homeschooling bill.  That legislation became a model for several other states.


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


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
From humorist, playwright, neologist, palindromist, parodist, and wit Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:

"My nonprofit had a brainstorming session about how to raise money, and all I got was this stupid T-shirt."
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .


The 40 Most Meaningful Things (permalink)

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

September 1, 2009

Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: humor or wit?

Clue:  This is according to the satirical journal Punch.

Answer:  Humor.  “Wit is wittier than humour, while humour is more humorous than wit.”  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Francis Cowley Burnand, Punch, vol. 207 (1944), p. 68.
(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.