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, a “monk for the modern age” by George Parker, 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
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.

June 30, 2020 (permalink)

For those of us who add songs to beloved movie soundtracks as they grace our airwaves, the greater Meet the Hollowheads soundtrack should include Chaka Khan’s “My Love is Alive.”  You’re welcome!
Speaking of Chaka Khan, as you revisit her music video for “I Feel For You” (a blessed music video, obviously created by angels), note how the (superb!) dancers all get to connect with the camera.  This is incredibly rare and a beautiful thing.
#chaka khan #meet the hollowheads
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June 27, 2020 (permalink)

Our Superior Wizard of Oz Version of a Rolling Stones Song

What's with The Rolling Stones song "Play with Fire"?  People outside of London are supposed to relate to what "Stepney" and "Knightsbridge" are?  No — those are terrible lyrics.  A highly superior context for the song is The Wizard of Oz, which we can prove by offering side-by-side lyrics.  You're welcome.  (Note: we didn't bother trying to rhyme our wizardly remake of the song.  Why give a damn trying to replicate the style of such a poor original?  Our version shines brilliantly without any forced rhymes.)
The Wizard of Oz Version (Superior) Original Rolling Stones Version (Stupid)
Well, you've got your rubies and you've got your little dog Well, you've got your diamonds and you've got your pretty clothes
And tornadoes drop you off And the chauffeur drives your car
You let everybody know You let everybody know
But don't play with me, or you're flying with monkeys But don't play with me, cause you're playing with fire
Your auntie she's a farmer, raising goats near witchy-ta Your mother she's an heiress, owns a block in Saint John's Wood
And your uncle’s under her spell And your father'd be there with her
Enchanted in toto If he only could
But don't play with me, or you’re flying with monkeys But don't play with me, because you're playing with fire
Your wizard asks for broomsticks; his promises hot air Your old man took her diamond's and tiaras by the score
Now you click your heels on brick roads Now she gets her kicks in Stepney
Not in Kansas anymore Not in Knightsbridge anymore
So don't play with me, or you’re flying with monkeys So don't play with me, because you're playing with fire
Now you walk on rubies and your future’s looking emerald Now you've got some diamonds and you will have some others
But you'd better watch your step, girl
But you'd better watch your step, girl
Or there’ll be no place like home
Or start living with your mother
So don't play with me, or you’re flying with monkeys
So don't play with me, cause you're playing with fire
So don't play with me, or you’re flying with monkeys
So don't play with me, cause you're playing with fire
#wizard of oz #rolling stones #lyrics
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June 21, 2020 (permalink)

One Weird Trick For Telling If the Second Stanza Got Moved Up

It almost seems impossible, doesn’t it?  To know if a song’s second stanza got moved to first place?  (Even if there’s linear storytelling in the song, it’s still hard to tell, because the second stanza could swap with the first as a foreshadowing teaser.)  But there is one weird trick for knowing with certainty.  And I’m now prepared to reveal all (for one can keep important secrets like this only so long before the yearning to share simply becomes unsupportable).  The first stanza of a song surely tends to contain the first lines written by the songwriter — the germ, the heart of the song — and that first stanza tends to be the best written, strongest section.  The second stanza tends to be filler, compelled by the laws of structure to mirror the first stanza while being slightly different.  The second stanza is extraneous at worst, artificial surely, and oh-so-rarely brilliant.  The issue is that the listener, not necessarily quite hooked into the song yet, tends to gloss over the first stanza.  Horror — for one’s best stanza to go unappreciated!  (And damn those catchy choruses for being the only thing most anyone recalls at a moment’s notice!  Those gaudy choruses with their feather boas and their flashy sequins.  All glitz and glamor, but where’s the substance?)  The only hope is to swap stanzas 1 and 2.  (If there’s a third stanza, the laws of ultimogeniture dictate that it stay behind and take care of the parents.)  Let the weaker second stanza get glossed over, and as listeners find themselves hooked, hit them with the strong first stanza and really blow them away.  Unnecessary proof of practice: Ratt’s “Round and Round.”  
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June 15, 2020 (permalink)

From Henderson's 1910 yearbook.
#vintage illustration #transformation #vintage yearbook #musician #bass clef
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June 3, 2020 (permalink)

Perhaps this puts a lump in your throat, too.  Usually, one finds musical birds on the lines of a music staff, as if they're perching on telephone wires.  But here's what happened to the birds.  From Lenoir-Rhyne's 1915 yearbook.
#vintage illustration #cat #vintage yearbook #sheet music #treble clef #musical score
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May 20, 2020 (permalink)

So there might be a song in this somewhere.  Only we, the listeners, are outside of the club, so the sound is all filtered and echoed and mostly vibration … AND the club is probably what we call the “Welcome to Canada” bar from David Lynch's Fire Walk With Me, where Laura takes Donna to show her what the nights are like … AND it happens to be located on a spacecraft … AND the spacecraft is nearing the event horizon of a black hole.  So … it’s not exactly music, but not exactly noise … more the experience of waiting in line to enter the “Welcome to Canada” club while simultaneously on a spaceship entering a black hole.  Had the band consulted with us, we’d have advised they employ the two secrets of the Escher-Staircase eternally rising chords.  But maybe they wanted some ups and downs to the sound of the event horizon.  (It’s been long enough since we last approached a black hole that we can’t recall if it’s an eternally-upward or up-and-down vibe.)  Of course, what first caught our attention and led us to click on this track was its title from the first line of Gibson’s Neuromancer:
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May 16, 2020 (permalink)

Today, instead of using a ladder to reach high C, vocalists use "auto-tune" software.  From the Peace Institute yearbook of 1914.
#vintage illustration #music #vintage yearbook #ladder #high c
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April 10, 2020 (permalink)

From Monmouth's 1910 yearbook.
#vintage illustration #vintage yearbook #music notation #sheet music #chapel
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April 5, 2020 (permalink)

Interesting to see a musical score depicted flat on the ground, with the bar serving as a net in a game and the notes as players.  From the State Female Normal School's 1903 yearbook.
#vintage illustration #musical notes #anthropomorphism #vintage yearbook #musical score
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March 8, 2020 (permalink)

You've seen pianists use their feet, but they're not the only ones.  From Le Charivari, 1845.
#vintage illustration #mandolin #musician
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February 10, 2020 (permalink)

From Purdue's 1903 yearbook.
#vintage illustration #music #vintage yearbook #insects
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November 29, 2019 (permalink)

The sound of mayhem.  From Der Guckkasten, 1913.
#vintage illustration #mayhem
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November 14, 2019 (permalink)

A rare double-sharped and double-flatted note.  From Nebelspalter, 1915.
#vintage illustration #piano #high note #singing #pianist #double sharp #double flat
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November 13, 2019 (permalink)

A friend told us about the time in 2012 that he caught a Bananarama concert at Seattle's Hard Rock Cafe, attended by the gayest audience he'd ever seen at any show.  As he put it, "No chairs, no women."  Though the singers lip-synched their songs and forgot their own lyrics, my friend said that the casual and friendly environment they created made for a very entertaining evening (the band even let fans come on stage to propose marriage and do other shenanigans).  That pair of phrases, "no chairs, no women" stuck with us ... to the tune of a Bob Marley song.  We revised Marley's lyrics to make them about our friend's experience, all the while poking affectionate fun at Bananarama (who have been laughing all the way to the bank for decades).  Here's a recording of our altered version, as well as the side-by-side lyrics.  How many homages to Bananarama song titles can you catch?
Bananarama Version:
No women, no chairs.
No women, no chairs.
No women, no chairs.
No women, no chairs.

'Cause I remember when we used to sit
In the Hard Rock Cafe, Seattle.
Ob—observing sophisticates
As the ushers led them to their reserved seats.

Good shows we saw.
Oh good bands we've lost along the way. Yeah!
In this great venue you can hear any flaw.
So plug your ears, I say.

No women, no chairs.
No women, no chairs.
Now Bananarama lures no one but queers.
No women, no chairs.

Said—said—said I remember when lip-sync was gauche
and the music was played not played back.
One cruel summer, singers with unplugged mikes,
fanning flamers, but no dykes.

"Na na hey hey, kiss him goodbye,”
this bitch forgets the lines.
Although my feet don’t have no twinkle toes,
I’m gay as in happiness … while this goes on.

Karaoke can be all right!
Hope this set’s gonna last all night!
Though my loafers are not that light!
No pretense and no one’s contrite!
That De Niro can just sit tight!
Heard a rumour they’ll reunite!
Every shy boy an acolyte!
Taking bows, now they’re off stage right!

No women, no chairs.
No women, no chairs.
Bananarama ain’t no Britney Spears.
No women, no chairs.
Original version:
No, woman, no cry.
No, woman, no cry.
No, woman, no cry.
No, woman, no cry.

'Cause I remember when we used to sit
In a government yard in Trenchtown,
Ob—observing the hypocrites.
Mingle with the good people we meet.

Good friends we have.
Oh, good friends we have lost along the way. Yeah!
In this great future you can't forget your past.
So dry your tears, I say.

No, woman, no cry.
No, woman, no cry.
A little darlin', don't shed no tears.
No, woman, no cry.

Said—said—said I remember when we used to sit
In the government yard in Trenchtown.
And then Georgie would make the fire lights,
I say, log wood burnin' through the nights.

Then we would cook cornmeal porridge,
I say, of which I'll share with you.
My feet is my only carriage
And so I've got to push on through. But while I'm gone,

Everything's gonna be all right!
Everything's gonna be all right!
Everything's gonna be all right!
Everything's gonna be all right!
Everything's gonna be all right!
Everything's gonna be all right!
Everything's gonna be all right!
Everything's gonna be all right!

So, no, woman, no cry.
No, woman, no cry.
I say, oh, little—oh, little darlin', don't shed no tears.
No, woman, no cry. Eh.
#bananarama #altered lyrics #bob marley #musical humor
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November 8, 2019 (permalink)

From The Bookman, 1910.
#vintage illustration #musical notes #silhouette #horse #music #wagner #conductor #composer
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September 30, 2019 (permalink)

From Kladderadatsch, 1850.
#vintage illustration #music notation
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August 26, 2019 (permalink)

From Le Charivari, 1846.
#vintage illustration #piano #pianist #duet #four hands
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July 18, 2019 (permalink)

From Lustige Blätter, 1900.
#vintage illustration #piano #weird music #lol
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July 5, 2019 (permalink)

Other Songs of the Haunted Mansion:

Modern Music Possessed By 999 Happy Haunts

Have you ever heard a song you could swear was somehow enkindled by the Disneyland's Haunted Mansion?  Besides via a supernatural hunch, how can one scientifically qualify a "Grim Grinning Ghosts"-inspired song?  Unless it's an outright cover version, melody alone isn't quite enough, for any musician will alter the tune at least sufficiently to avoid a lawsuit while still paying homage to a beloved inspiration.  Nor is a dirge-like pace a sure sign, as the Haunted Mansion ride-through features both slow and fast renditions.  Yet there are several elements that, when taken as a whole, may point to a conscious or perhaps even unconscious tribute to Buddy Baker's famous theme:

  • chords lasting two beats of a 4/4 measure
  • instrumentation proper to a spooky mansion seance or "swinging wake" (organ, harpsichord, tuba, tubular bells, spirit trumpet, tambourine, harp)
  • an unnaturally minor key (the word "unnatural" is required here because of course in musical notation a "natural" note is not flatted.  Does that, eerily, by definition, make all minor keys "unnatural"?  Lest we forget, in the uncanny notation of the vibrational realm, there's such a thing as "C sharp flat," which a mortal might mistake for a garden variety "C" but which, mysteriously, isn't -- every context creates another side of the veil).
  • a progression from A minor to B major
  • X number of notes corresponding to the original Buddy Baker melody ("X" in honor of X. Atencio, obviously).

Let's consider two examples, one funereal and the other New Orleans-style.

The Swedish band Ghost records theatrical, campy-horror rock.  Their song "Monstrance Clock" (2013) has their typically gothic, satanic themes (unsubtly, black candles and pentagrams feature in the lyrics), but, as Thurl might say, "Listen!"  The first eight beats of Buddy Baker's melody are reproduced identically, with some flourishes added to the second bar.  (At 17 seconds into "Monstrance Clock," a Haunted Mansion bass line is unmistakable; an electric guitar plays two-beat notes like an organ.  Here's a Youtube link to the audio:  In our illustration, we've jotted in blood-curdling blue ink Ghost's spirit-doubling of Baker's original score.


Given the gloomy lyrics and the note-for-note mirroring (even in the same key as Baker's original), we're confident that Ghost's song is a deliberate homage to the Haunted Mansion and is meant to evoke that sinister atmosphere from moment one.

Speaking of invocations, the German band BerlinskiBeat seeks to summon the Roaring Twenties back to life, and in their song "Nacht in Berlin" (2012), we hear an upbeat "swinging wake" of the jazz age, complete with harpsichords and spirit trumpets.  (Note especially the brass bass line in the final chorus, beginning at the 2:25 mark.  The vocals through the song are very much in the tempo and spirit of "Grim Grinning Ghosts" as well.  Here's the official video, just for the audio:  Each note of their melody line aligns to Buddy Baker's chord progressions -- not always exactly the dominant melody line from the Haunted Mansion, but always within Baker's realm.  (It's as if BerlinskiBeat has taken a spirit from the Haunted Mansion and created, in turn, their own Pepper's Ghost projection of it -- their spirit dances along with the original in perfect time but is perceived from a different angle and hence comes across as a separate manifestation.)  Even an untrained listener's ear will pick up on the harmonic interweaving and detect echoes of the Haunted Mansion in a seemingly unrelated melody.  Put another way, Baker created a mathematical formula in his composition, and BerlinskiBeat's music is a corollary of it.  In our illustration, we've jotted in bayou blue BerlinksiBeat's levitation of Baker's second bar.  Like a sheet ghost, the contours of the sonic shape remain basically the same.  To reiterate, the raised notes augment the pre-existing Baker chords.


Whether or not BerlinskiBeat has created a deliberate homage is an occult question.  We might lean toward there being an unconscious inspiration in this case -- the composers were aware of Buddy Baker's melody, though perhaps distantly, and the original theme very literally haunted their own.

What Haunted Mansion-inspired songs have interpenetrated your world?



#haunted mansion #music #grim grinning ghosts #ghost band #berkinskibeat #homage
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June 28, 2019 (permalink)

From Le Charivari, 1846.
#vintage illustration #music #stars #musical notation #shooting star #treble clef
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