CRAIG CONLEY (Prof. Oddfellow) is recognized by Encarta as “America’s most creative and diligent scholar of letters, words and punctuation.” He has been called a “language fanatic” by Page Six gossip columnist Cindy Adams, a “cult hero” by Publisher’s Weekly, and “a true Renaissance man of the modern era, diving headfirst into comprehensive, open-minded study of realms obscured or merely obscure” by Clint Marsh. An eccentric scholar, Conley’s ideas are often decades ahead of their time. He invented the concept of the “virtual pet” in 1980, fifteen years before the debut of the popular “Tamagotchi” in Japan. His virtual pet, actually a rare flower, still thrives and has reached an incomprehensible size. Conley’s website is OneLetterWords.com.
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
March 31, 2010

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
"We have found a strange foot-print on the shores of the unknown.  We have devised profound theories, one after another, to account for its origin.  At last, we have succeeded in reconstructing the creature that made the foot-print.  And Lo!  It is our own."
—Arthur Eddington, qtd. in Cosmic Trigger, Vol. 1 by Robert Anton Wilson

Footprints in the Portmeirion estuary.  Photo dedicated to Gordon Meyer, author of Las Vegas: Underfoot.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Staring at the Sun (permalink)

Prof. Oddfellow.  See larger version here.
> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .

March 30, 2010

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed someone told my fortune: the Tarot Hanged Man, inverted.

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


It's Really Happening (permalink)
The foreground photo is from the brilliantly witty series Arrested Development.  The cats in the background floated over from Cute Overload.

> read more from It's Really Happening . . .


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"Someone ought to write a book called Your Mission Is Too Small or Your Church Is Too Small."
Robert Bacher & Michael Cooper-White, Church Administration, 2007, p. 229.

---

Dan notes that someone has written such a book.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

March 29, 2010

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

> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: Yoga or Pilates?

Clue:  This is according to an artist

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

Citation:  Pam Rubert, “Pamdora’s Box,” Pamdora.com, (Jan. 30, 2005)
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

March 28, 2010

The Right Word (permalink)
Thanks to Beth Ritter-Guth for praising our Strange and Unusual References site for offering facts not found on any other site, for offering free e-books, and for aiming to teach as well as to entertain.  See her full discussion here.

Thanks to Lists Galore for pointing to our friend Jonathan's wacky birthday form.
> read more from The Right Word . . .

March 27, 2010

It's Really Happening (permalink)
This collage is in honor of the new cosmological model that the universe endlessly expands and contracts without any Big Bangs.  The foreground photo is from the blissfully funny series Arrested Development.

> read more from It's Really Happening . . .


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 . . .

March 26, 2010

Your Ship Will Come In (permalink)
“I am watching your ship through my uncle’s telescope.” —Alexander Kent


 
* 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 . . .


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

"I just want you to say you love me." —Neil Simon, Laughter on the 23rd Floor
> read more from On One Condition . . .

March 25, 2010

Two Sides / Same Coin (permalink)
* Inspired by Jeff Hawkins.
> read more from Two Sides / Same Coin . . .


Staring at the Sun (permalink)

Looking up the tower of the camera obscura at Portmeirion, Wales.
> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .

March 24, 2010

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

Inspired by Jeff Hawkins, who writes:

Joy! The sound of rising spores is equaled only by their half-baked aroma, a scrumptious cacophony no matter how you slice it. I, too, hear the yum!
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Who is funnier: Jackie Gleason or Art Carney?

Clue:  This is according to musican/comedian Steve Allen.

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

Citation:  Steve Allen, The Funny Men (1956), p. 154.
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

March 23, 2010

The Right Word (permalink)
Thanks to Vani Hegde for blogging her favorite one-letter words from our dictionary!
> 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 . . .

March 22, 2010

Two Sides / Same Coin (permalink)

* Inspired by Jeff Hawkins.
> read more from Two Sides / Same Coin . . .


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"There are beautiful almshouses all over England, and someone ought to write a book describing them."
E. V. Lucas, London Lavender, 1912, p. 236.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

March 21, 2010

It's Really Happening (permalink)
This collage is in honor of the world's only immortal animal—a jellyfish that regenerates its entire body over and over.  The foreground photo is from the astonishingly hilarious series Arrested Development.

> read more from It's Really Happening . . .


The Only Certainty (permalink)
"Our only certainty is that the new world will be something different from what we were used to."
—Carl Jung, qtd. in Carl Jung and Soul Psychology

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

March 20, 2010

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 . . .

March 19, 2010

Your Ship Will Come In (permalink)

 
* 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 :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
True or False: There is only one thing funnier than watching drunk people dig around in sand for fabulous prizes.

Clue:  This is according to The Recovering Sorority Girls’ Guide to a Year’s Worth of Perfect Parties

Answer:  False.  “Trust us—nothing is funnier than watching drunk people dig around in sand for fabulous prizes.”  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Deandra Brooks, The Recovering Sorority Girls’ Guide to a Year’s Worth of Perfect Parties (2005), p. 126.
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

March 18, 2010

Two Sides / Same Coin (permalink)
* Inspired by Jeff Hawkins.
> read more from Two Sides / Same Coin . . .


Staring at the Sun (permalink)

Portmeirion estuary, Wales.
> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .

March 17, 2010

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)
"Somebody ought to write a book and call it Saints Inveterate."
Francis Lynde, The Quickening, 1906, p. 389.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

March 16, 2010

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

In some unseen gorge a stream gurgled; a velvety green butterfly with black and yellow markings danced over white flowers; deep among the blue shadows of the trees a branch broke and leaves dropped heavily into leaves.

—Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game

* 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 . . .

March 15, 2010

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 . . .

March 14, 2010

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

Pairs of great woodpeckers larger than crows, with flashing white bills and crimson crests afire in the sun, crossed the river in deep bounding flight, and hurtling flocks of small long- tailed parrots, bright green as new leaves in the morning light. The wild things were shining with spring colors and new sap and finally I was, too. I would sink my teeth into this morning land like a fresh peach.

—Peter Matthiessen, Shadow Country, 2008.

* 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 . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which cuisine is funnier: Swedish or Jewish?

Clue:  This is according to comedian Steve Allen

Answer:  Jewish.  “Jewish foods generally are funnier than their Swedish or French equivalents.”  (The answer is in black text on the black background.  Highlight it to view.)

Citation:  Steve Allen and Jane Wollman, How to Be Funny: Discovering the Comic You (1987), p. 50
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

March 13, 2010

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 . . .

March 12, 2010

Your Ship Will Come In (permalink)
“Your boat must be a curiosity.” —Susan Warner


 
* 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 . . .

March 11, 2010

Two Sides / Same Coin (permalink)
* Inspired by Jeff Hawkins.
> read more from Two Sides / Same Coin . . .


Staring at the Sun (permalink)

Grotto Viewpoint at Portmeirion, Wales.
> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .

March 10, 2010

Puzzles and Games (permalink)
Imagine a retail store's Open/Closed sign.  Now imagine that it's printed on only one side.  With just two words and a detachable apostrophe, how can the sign indicate that the store is open or closed for business?

For our answer, click here.
> read more from Puzzles and Games . . .


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 . . .

March 9, 2010

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)

Heinrich Füger, "Prometheus Brings Fire to Mankind," c. 1817
"[William Blake's] vision of the infinite in everything is common to East and West; what is distinctly Western, out of the Jews, is the voice of honest indignation against every institution which would deny or demean the infinity within each human soul.  The release of our full human potential—to let the light of Prometheus shine everywhere—is the distinctly Western mystic tradition and does not appear in Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, or any Eastern religion."
Robert Anton Wilson, Prometheus Rising
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which word is funnier: house or condo?

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

Answer:  Condo, 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 . . .

March 8, 2010

Staring at the Sun (permalink)

Prof. Oddfellow basks in Lloyd Wright's mountaintop memorial to Emanuel Swedenborg in Rancho Palos Verdes.
> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"Someone should write a book on Kant's ethics good enough that it will be required reading."
Christine M. Korsgaard, Creating the Kingdom of Ends, 1996, p. 287.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .

March 7, 2010

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
You've heard the cliché, "There's no 'I' in 'team.'"  Similarly, there's no "us" in "narcissism."

Speaking of contractions, there's no "big O" in "nymphomania."
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Last Dustbunny in the Netherlands (permalink)

Gordon Meyer declares: "I think the professor has just solved one of life's great mysteries!"

See also our diary of the last dust bunny in the Netherlands.


> read more from Last Dustbunny in the Netherlands . . .

March 6, 2010

The Right Word (permalink)
We're delighted to have our research on the letter X referenced in Marcel Danesi's X-Rated!: The Power of Mythic Symbolism in Popular Culture.


> read more from The Right Word . . .


Staring at the Sun (permalink)

The estuary at Portmeirion, Wales.
> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .

March 5, 2010

Your Ship Will Come In (permalink)


“Your ship will come in, and then you’ll have temps of your own.” —Merle Kessler

 
* 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 . . .


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 . . .

March 4, 2010

Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)

King Ludwig II of Bavaria
In a gross disservice to Bavarian history, it is universally said that King Ludwig II constructed his fairy tale castle Neuschwanstein as an escape from "reality." The castle itself is a colossal refutation to such sloppy—if not willful—misrepresentation. Quite the opposite of being trapped in the past or caught up in a romantic dreamworld, Ludwig was so forward thinking, so revolutionary, that he built a portal to access the very framework of the Bavarian ideal. Emblazoned throughout with murals and architecture depicting key scenes from Bavarian folklore, Neuschwanstein castle constitutes an elaborate "War Room" of mythic proportions. Indeed, Neuschwanstein is evidence that Ludwig attained a state of consciousness that Timothy Leary called the "Neurogenetic Circuit." Robert Anton Wilson explains that the Neurogenetic Circuit:

processes DNA-RNA-brain feedback systems and is "collective" in that it contains and has access to the whole evolutionary "script," past and future. Experience of this circuit is numinous, "mystical," mind-shattering: here dwell the archetypes of Jung's Collective Unconscious—Gods, Goddesses, Demons, Hairy Dwarfs and other personifications of the DNA programs (instincts) that govern us.  [Prometheus Rising, 1983, p. 41]

To properly govern his people, Ludwig positioned himself to draw from the very paradigms of the Bavarian spirit. In other words, he infused his nobility with the high ideals of his country, literally surrounding himself (dome ceilings to floors) with model images of Bavarian enlightenment. Ludwig held a magnifying glass over the Bavarian blueprint, and a ray of sunlight hit the lens to form a hologramatic castle.

Far from having his head in the clouds, Ludwig's feet were firmly planted in his culture. That such a visionary was ultimately judged "mad" by his political enemies comes as no surprise. That Neuschwanstein has endured as the Eighth Wonder of the World is a testament to Ludwig's genius.

Neuschwanstein Castle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .


Two Sides / Same Coin (permalink)
* Inspired by Jeff Hawkins.
> read more from Two Sides / Same Coin . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier (permalink)
Which is funnier: Mark Twain or any of his books?

Clue:  This is according to a Mark Twain biographer

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

Citation:  Albert Bigelow Paine, Mark Twain: A Biography (1912), p. 661.
(Thanks to Jonathan Caws-Elwitt for inspiration!)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Which is Funnier . . .

March 3, 2010

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

We just discovered (with help from Gordon) that a Mac app called Presto contains a passage from our Magic Words: A Dictionary. Presto is a utility for quickly pasting in commonly used snippets of text, and the magic word "presto" is the default example. So when one types "presto" into any application, a passage from our dictionary appears, like magic!

> read more from The Right Word . . .


Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led (permalink)

Photo by meredith.
The Patron Saint of Towels

Motto: "Holy absorption of the wring of truth."
Who is your favorite imaginary saint?  Do share!
> read more from Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led . . .


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

• 7-letter words: 13
• 8-letter words: 4
• 9-letter words: 2

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

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

March 2, 2010

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

From our Magic Words outpost at Blogger:

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 . . .


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

"you tell me all about it." —R. H. Stoddard, "The Little Monk," 1864
> read more from On One Condition . . .

March 1, 2010

Rhetorical Questions, Answered! (permalink)
Carly Simon's song "You're So Vain" doesn't identify its subject, yet actor Warren Beatty has asserted that it's about him.  Beatty's assertion begs a question: if anyone takes "You're So Vain" personally, is he or she technically correct?

The answer is Yes!  According to Hugh Everett's "many worlds" interpretation of quantum mechanics, every possible quantum vanity is realized.  In the many-branched tree of parallel universes, each and every vain human being is the true subject of Carly Simon's song.

---


This is very comforting! Imagine being vain enough to think YSV was about you, but finding out it wasn't. The very world might cease to revolve around one.

Technical question: Does Everett's theory still hold for values of "a" (a = age of vain individual) that are < Y (Y = years elapsed since song was written)? In other words, was Simon farsighted enough to build infinite references to unborn vain people into her song? 

Similarly, I note the problematics around individuals who were alive when the song was written but not yet vain, their vanity only to develop later on. In their case, I hypothesize a "critical vanity threshold," or CVT--the discrete moment at which someone's vanity has matured to the point where Simon's song begins to refer to him or her.
> read more from Rhetorical Questions, Answered! . . .


Peace Symbols to Color (permalink)
Peace, too, is a living thing and like all life it must wax and wane, accommodate, withstand trials, and undergo changes.
Hermann Hesse, The Glass Bead Game

The Guatemalan Rose symbol of peace.
> read more from Peace Symbols to Color . . .


Someone Should Write a Book on ... (permalink)
"There ought to be a book to settle arguments about records in pubs."
Proceedings of the Royal Institution of Great Britain, 1929, p. 282.
> read more from Someone Should Write a Book on ... . . .



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Original Content Copyright © 2015 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.