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, 2010

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
William Keckler offers "Somewhat Belated Advice for Marie Antoinette."  We would add:

When plastering the walls with jewels, substitute cut glass for diamonds.  You'll get tons of sparkle as you help to ease the deterioration of the financial situation in France.
> 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 . . .

January 30, 2010

The Right Word (permalink)
"[W]here are the words to describe the glorious colours that are unknown to earthly eyes? Where the mind or imagination that can grasp the gorgeous scintillations of unheard-of rays as they emanate from the thousand nameless jewels of Barsoom?"
Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Gods of Mars, 1918
(via DJMisc)
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
"Head gear prevents most soft tissue injuries to the face but is not as protective to the brain as many believe."
—Steven J. Karageanes


Illustration c. 1882
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .

January 29, 2010

Your Ship Will Come In (permalink)
“Your fisherman will bring fish, your ship will come in.” —Donald Redford


 
* Our printed collection of vintage nautical postcards is entitled Your Ship Will Come In and is available from Amazon.com.
> read more from Your Ship Will Come In . . .


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 . . .


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 . . .

January 28, 2010

Staring at the Sun (permalink)


"Our Sun" at Griffith Observatory, Los Feliz, California.  Dedicated to Gordon Meyer.  See larger size here.
> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which are funnier: Dogs or gerbils?

Clue:  This is according to comedy expert Peter Bergman

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

Citation:  Fred Goodwin, “The Infinite Mind: Humor” (1998), p. 8
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

January 27, 2010

The Right Word (permalink)
"All those things for which we have no words are lost.  The mind—the culture—has two little tools, grammar and lexicon: a decorated sand bucket and a matching shovel.  With these we bluster about the continents and do all the world's work.  With these we try to save our very lives." —Annie Dillard
> read more from The Right Word . . .


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 . . .

January 26, 2010

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 40 Most Meaningful Things (permalink)

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

January 25, 2010

Inflationary Lyrics (permalink)

Gustav Mahler.
SONG: Don't Drop that Dime
ARTIST: Velvet Revolver

ORIGINAL LYRIC:

Sweet Caroline o' mine, don't drop that dime on me tonight.

ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION:

Sweet Mahler, I holler, don't drop that dollar on me tonight.
* Payphones used to take dimes, but now they take quarters.  Isn't it time to update song lyrics to reflect the realities of inflation?  Alas, it's vastly easier to rhyme the word "dime" than the word "quarter," but here at Inflationary Lyrics Headquarters we have risen to the challenge.  Please join the fun and share your own inflationary lyrics, with both the "before" and "after" versions!
> read more from Inflationary Lyrics . . .


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"Someone ought to write a Book of Etiquette for Scientific Institutes which would enumerate the do's and don'ts for such occasions."
—Institute of Vitreous Enamellers, Metal Finishing Journal, 1966, p. 194.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

January 24, 2010

The Right Word (permalink)
I have worn certain letters off my keyboard.
"M" and "N" vanished together (aMNesia?)
V is half there? (My half-cocked loVe?)
William Keckler


> read more from The Right Word . . .


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 . . .

January 23, 2010

Staring at the Sun (permalink)


Solar halo around Matterhorn Mt., Disneyland, California.  See larger size here.
> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which number is funnier: 14 or 22?

Clue:  This is according to editor Robert Gottlieb

Answer:  22.  Catch-18 was the original title of Joseph Heller’s novel, but it was changed when a competing novel about WWII also had 18 in the title.  The number 14 was initially suggested, but Heller's editor Robert Gottlieb felt 22 was a funnier number than 14.  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  New York Times Review of Books (1967). 
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

January 22, 2010

Your Ship Will Come In (permalink)


“Someday your ship will come in—after you’ve learned to navigate it.” —Joe Alexander

 
* Our printed collection of vintage nautical postcards is entitled Your Ship Will Come In and is available from Amazon.com.
> read more from Your Ship Will Come In . . .


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


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 . . .

January 21, 2010

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 . . .


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 . . .

January 20, 2010

On One Condition (permalink)
Yes, you may . . . on one condition:

"that you all kneel down." —E. E. Cleal, "Influence," 1920
> read more from On One Condition . . .


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)

A sauna door in Finland, photographed by aixcracker.
"More like the patron saint of saunas."
Bernard MacLaverty, Grace Notes
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .

January 19, 2010

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 about the psychology of the circus and its audiences."
—August Heinrich Kober, Circus Nights and Circus Days, 1931, p. 231.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

January 18, 2010

Uncharted Territories (permalink)


Photo by somnolence.

See also our whimsical atlas of blank maps.
> read more from Uncharted Territories . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: the pen or the sword?

Clue:  This is according to Socialist Review

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

Citation:  Peter Morgan, “Interview: The Pen is Funnier Than the Sword,” Socialist Review (Feb. 2005)
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

January 17, 2010

Puzzles and Games :: Letter Grids (permalink)
This puzzle grid contains several big words. Can you find them?

• 7-letter words: 31
• 8-letter words: 11
• 9-letter words: 1

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 . . .


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 . . .

January 16, 2010

Colorful Allusions (permalink)


> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
Comedy is "at risk."  And that would be funny if it weren't so:

  1. serious
  2. unwittingly ironic
  3. provoking
  4. stupid
  5. pathetic
  6. prevalent
  7. frustrating
  8. tragic
  9. dangerously misinformed
  10. terrifying
  11. sad
  12. pitiful
  13. ludicrous
  14. destructive
  15. impressive
  16. gross
  17. scary
  18. true
  19. disastrous
  20. disgusting
  21. painful
  22. probable
  23. terrible
  24. patently ridiculous
  25. sincere
  26. perverse
  27. unfunny
  28. horrible
  29. stressful
  30. outrageous
  31. ill-bred
  32. sickening
  33. insulting
  34. crazy
  35. typical
  36. deadly
  37. insidious
  38. grotesque
  39. significant
  40. absurd
  41. real
  42. despicable
  43. wicked
  44. bitter
  45. wide of the mark
  46. common
  47. moralizing
  48. filled with pathos
  49. vile
  50. cruel
  51. appalling
  52. hideous
  53. painfully revealing
  54. very nearly unbearable
  55. important
  56. predictable
  57. expensive
  58. heartbreaking
  59. damn personal
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .

January 15, 2010

Your Ship Will Come In (permalink)


“I am come to take you to your ship; you must change your prison clothes and come with me.” —Joseph Salter

 
* Our printed collection of vintage nautical postcards is entitled Your Ship Will Come In and is available from Amazon.com.
> read more from Your Ship Will Come In . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
"Our only certainty is that the wheel will turn."
Pamela Kristan, The Spirit of Getting Organized


Photo by beezly.
> read more from The Only Certainty . . .


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 . . .

January 14, 2010

Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Disguising the Identity of an Author

The oldest trick in the book: disguising the identity of an author in order to give heft to substandard work. —Adam Langer, Ellington Boulevard (2009)


Photo by Juska Wendland.
> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .


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 . . .

January 13, 2010

On One Condition (permalink)
Yes, you may . . . on one condition:

"You have to start from scratch." —Wong Kiew Kit, The Art of Shaolin Kung Fu, 2002
> read more from On One Condition . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: eighty grand or a cigar?

Clue:  This is according to Always Tip the Dealer by Gary Ross

Answer:  eighty grand.  “Eighty grand looks funnier than a cigar.  A lot funnier.  People laugh.”  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Gary Ross, Always Tip the Dealer (1982), p. 145.
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

January 12, 2010

Two Sides / Same Coin (permalink)

In honor of funsmith Bernie DeKoven.
> read more from Two Sides / Same Coin . . .


The 40 Most Meaningful Things (permalink)

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


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"Some one ought to write a book on the Strength of the Weaklings."
—Leighton Parts, qtd. in The American Church Monthly, Vol. 8, 1920, p. 250.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

January 11, 2010

Last Dustbunny in the Netherlands (permalink)
Even the dust bunnies
are made of days and days.
William Keckler


Dustbunny (with origami and coin) by greendragonflygirl.
> read more from Last Dustbunny in the Netherlands . . .


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 . . .

January 10, 2010

One Mitten Manager (permalink)
"To glack one's mitten" is to put money into someone's hand, as a gift or as a bribe (John Jamieson, An Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language, Vol. 2).


Dedicated to the people of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan — an inspiration to us all.  (This parody was sparked by Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.)
> read more from One Mitten Manager . . .


Not Rocket Science (permalink)
"Doing the laundry was not exactly in the same league as rocket science."
Frank Larson, Baloney on Wry


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

January 9, 2010

Colorful Allusions (permalink)
From our Magic Words outpost at Blogspot:

"Fresh snow reminds me of a magician's hankie covering the magic happening beneath. Soon it will be pulled back, and surprise! It is spring!" —Dr. Bill Gordon


> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


Staring at the Sun (permalink)


Sunset at Fantasyland, Disneyland, California.  See larger size here.
> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .


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 . . .

January 8, 2010

Your Ship Will Come In (permalink)


“Your ship will come in, your time will come. Just be patient and don’t sell out.” —Bill Henderson

 
* Our printed collection of vintage nautical postcards is entitled Your Ship Will Come In and is available from Amazon.com.
> read more from Your Ship Will Come In . . .


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)
What is funnier than a fellow going off with the wrong hat at a restaurant?

Clue:  This is according to The Living Age magazine, 1901.

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

Citation:  The Living Age, Vol. 230 (1901), p. 716.
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

January 7, 2010

Puzzles and Games :: Letter Grids (permalink)
This puzzle grid contains several big words. Can you find them?

• 7-letter words: 13
• 8-letter words: 2

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

Click to display solutions

---

Attleboro Odlox writes:

I found "clonings" as my first word and that was enough of an achievement to earn me three hours of bad television. Or so I rationalized. If cloning is not there, don't tell me. I didn't click on the answers. As soon as I saw I-N-G-S I knew the God of the Grid wouldn't be so cruel as to give us that convenient coda without providing at least one word to pin it to.

Nada writes:

Are gabions the elemental particles of insubstantial talk?

Prof. Oddfellow responds:

Good call, Nada!

> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Letter Grids . . .


Not Rocket Science (permalink)
"We don't approach cooking in the same way as rocket science."
Meta B. Doherty, Sattwa Cafe


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

January 6, 2010

Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


To read Jeff's entire piece, click here.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


On One Condition (permalink)
Yes, you may . . . on one condition:

"that we do not go to pieces internally." —Learned Hand, The Spirit of Liberty, 1959

> read more from On One Condition . . .


Inflationary Lyrics (permalink)
SONG: Dime
ARTIST: Cake

ORIGINAL LYRIC:

I'm a dime
I'm fine
And I shine, I'm freshly minted

ADJUSTED FOR INFLATION:

I'm a quarter
I oughta
Be hotter than a yachter

---

CakeFan writes:

Cake's lyrics are the bestest. I like your update. I thought it was so hokey when Chris Meloni as Detective Whoever on Law & Order SVU was waiting by a payphone saying, "Come on...drop a dime on us" about some criminal whose call they were expecting. First, nobody says that anymore. Because it hasn't been a dime in ages. Next, it means to rat somebody out, and they were waiting for a call from a serial killer leaving clues, i.e. he was not ratting on anyone. And lastly, the show just sucked. It sucked donkey dong the way the Dutch language sucks vowels. Chris Meloni is now trapped in the universe of Being Chris Meloni. This happens to so many actors. It should have a name and a diagnosis that ends in "Syndrome."

Prof. Oddfellow responds:

Yes, so many actors get trapped in the universe of Being [Said Actor] that there should indeed be a name and diagnosis that ends in "Syndrome."  May I suggest that the word "Depp" be incorporated into the name?

---
* Payphones used to take dimes, but now they take quarters.  Isn't it time to update song lyrics to reflect the realities of inflation?  Alas, it's vastly easier to rhyme the word "dime" than the word "quarter," but here at Inflationary Lyrics Headquarters we have risen to the challenge.  Please join the fun and share your own inflationary lyrics, with both the "before" and "after" versions!
> read more from Inflationary Lyrics . . .

January 5, 2010

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 . . .

January 4, 2010

Unicorns (permalink)
"Nothing is harder, yet nothing is more necessary, than to speak of certain things whose existence is neither demonstrable nor probable.  The very fact that serious and conscientious men treat them as existing things brings them a step closer to existence and to the possibility of being born."
Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game, translated by Richard & Clara Winston


Hermann Hesse, via.
> read more from Unicorns . . .


Colorful Allusions (permalink)

by kaw209

Drifting on air without a care
Purple snowflakes
Cover the ground without a sound

—Marvin Gaye, Purple Snowflakes, 1964

* 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)
"There ought to be a book analyzing Canadian literature from a spiritual poverty angle."
Alan Twigg, Strong Voices, 1988, p. 222.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

January 3, 2010

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


 
Space Invaders arcade video game (left), I Ching hexagrams (right).

See also our theory that the Pac-Man video game was inspired by a lily pond.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which dog is funnier: a schnauzer or a bulldog?

Clue:  This is according to an attorney

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

Citation:  David F. D’Alessandro and Michelle Owens, Brand Warfare (2001), p. 60
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

January 2, 2010

Staring at the Sun (permalink)


Lens flare over Big Thunder Mt., Disneyland, California.  See larger size here.

---

Jeff writes:

Flared yer lens then, wot? Flared me own lens once. Pity. 
> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .


Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)

"Something interesting happens at 6:00 o'clock."
Ram Dass, Grist for the Mill
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .

January 1, 2010

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)


Here's Prof. Oddfellow's bright wish for a luminous new year.
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


Your Ship Will Come In (permalink)


“Just ask someone to throw a bucket of water on you when your boat arrives.” —Ashley Isaacson

 
* Our printed collection of vintage nautical postcards is entitled Your Ship Will Come In and is available from Amazon.com.
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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 . . .



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