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.
I Found a Penny Today, So Here’s a Thought

Today — May 28, 2020 (permalink)

Rainbows do strike those wide stances obviously meant to look impressive.  It's a pretty big problem.  From The Gateway, 1979.
#rainbow #vintage headline
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Two quick things. 
1. Proof that advertising works?  The figure from American's 1985 yearbook (pictured top) seems to be emulating the newspaper ad (pictured bottom).  However, he didn't get the brand with "tips," perhaps worried that, contrary to the promises, even putting just "the tip" into your mouth may trigger questions about one's sexual orientation.
2. Note the bizarre ad copy: "Paused.  Reflected.  Then paused again.  And reflected again.  Then paused.  Then reflected.  Paused once more."  For people who need to inhale expensive smoke in order for their consciousness to blink in and out?  (Sad.)  The story of the ad (spoiler) is that it took him that long to look at his test scores and see that he passed.  We'd say he had already scored when he put the tip in his mouth.  But that's between him and his psychiatrist and is technically none of our business. 
[By the way, Mr. Copy Writer, we noticed the "Graham Watt" wordplay.  How many grams of nicotine are lit up like units of watt power?  Not bad.]
#vintage ad #smoking #vintage yearbook #mustache #cigarette #vintage man
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One encounters so few haunted bookstores anymore (at least ones that advertise their hauntedness).  Our favorite haunted bookstore, in Louisiana (a derelict building now, shown here), allowed patrons to take any haunted book away for every two haunted books they brought in.  Just imagine — books so accursed, so jinxed, that the proprietor was willing to receive two haunted books of unknown provenance just to rid himself of one.  Perhaps his unnaturally possessed stock, by the fine print of some diabolical bargain, could only be voluntarily taken and not sold.  Perhaps that's why that haunted bookstore allowed trades.  From The Martlet, 1976.
#vintage ad #haunted #bookstore
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"The worst is yet to come."  From Woroni, 1987.
#pessimism #worst is yet to come
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May 26, 2020 (permalink)

These are the simplest instructions we've encountered for instantly becoming your own walking gallery of art.  From Woroni, 1973.
#art #art object
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May 25, 2020 (permalink)

"It's doubtful even to know where to start.  The end."  From Woroni, 1963.
#the end #vintage headline
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May 24, 2020 (permalink)

A mirage of a pyramid.  From Flapdoodle by Alvin Schwartz.
#vintage illustration #sphinx #pyramid
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"You never know women."  From The Film Daily, 1926.
#vintage headline #women
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It's disconcerting when headlines tell you to go to hell but then immediately ask you a question about a hearse.  From The Text newspaper, 1972.
#vintage headline #go to hell
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May 23, 2020 (permalink)

We, too, use glowing binoculars for our lesser-believed witnessings.  The phrase "lesser-believed witnessings" is a Googlewhack, which just goes to show you how unbelievable our days are.  From UFO Newsclipping Service, 1985.
#ufo #binoculars
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From the very surprisingly rare and expensive Winning with Witchcraft by Jean Williams.
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May 22, 2020 (permalink)

It's quite obviously either a helpcopter or a weather balloon.  Granted, it might also be a lightning bolt or a meteor.  From UFO Newsclipping Service, 1990.
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May 21, 2020 (permalink)

"Plugging into things you can't explain."  Well, it's a living.  From UFO Newsclipping Service, 1985.
#vintage headline #unexplained
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May 20, 2020 (permalink)

Rudolf Nureyev says, "If sometimes you are being very much like me, always on the going-round, so what to that, do as I tell you and altogether celebrate this."  From Woroni, 1974.
#misquotation #nureyev
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You're right — someone translated "Humpty Dumpty" into Latin.  From Ethos, 1963.
#humpty dumpty #Latin
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May 19, 2020 (permalink)

So sad to see old headlines that history proved false.  From The Gateway, 1978.
#canada #vintage headline
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We need a refresher on this.  The Life Power and How to Use It by Elizabeth Towne, 1906.
#vital force #life force #life power
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May 18, 2020 (permalink)

"Old things should be used for their intended purpose."  From Good or Bad Design? by Odd Brochmann.
#vintage illustration #ghost #antique
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That Most Notorious Number, 666:

Taking a Metaphor Literally

A mischievous friend in Las Vegas asked for our take on the Number of the Beast, 666.  Our first sentence is a beast in itself, but bear with us:, for we'll address the perverse, diabolical importance of taking metaphors literally:
We’re reminded by Prof. Thomas Peterson that a religious symbol can be a medium for transcendence, framing as it does the cosmological boundaries of a spiritual threshold, when it operates as a riddle (an interrogative metaphor) that actively engages one in a life-long quest for meaning.
Solutions to religious enigmas are never simple, Peterson notes, for they must bridge domains of ever-changing human experiences.  The best puzzles take one beyond purely literal meanings and into ever-deeper metaphorical unities; momentarily solved, they become more profoundly mysterious as they embrace greater ranges of everyday life.  There is always some aspect that continues to haunt the religious seeker, especially during periods of crisis.  These riddles destroy simplistic and literal interpretations of the sacred (“Initiation Rite as Riddle,” Journal of Ritual Studies, Jan. 1987, p. 73).
In light of Prof. Peterson’s insights into the riddles of sacred initiation, we see the great enigma of the Number of the Beast as another invitation to discover profoundly deeper meaning.  The riddle concerning the number “six hundred threescore and six” has a devastatingly simple solution that Wikipedia, once again, manages to overlook.  It involves absolutely no mathematics but rather the spelling of the Hebrew numbers—in a bit of wordplay, the syllables express a person’s name as well as numbers.  Be that as it may, ancient riddles take on a special mystique over the centuries, and that’s a marvelous thing.  The number of the beast in the Book of Revelation is a metaphor, but to solve it is to dissolve it.  If, instead, we take that metaphor literally, we preserve the riddle as a possible tool for transcendence.
Granted, the party line is that taking metaphors literally is “absurd,” a “fallacy,” “nonsensical,” “stupid,” “dangerous,” even “a cardinal sin.”
Yet, there’s a word in poetry for taking metaphors literally—“reification,” bringing something abstract into realization.
If they hadn’t taken metaphors literally, we’d have none of Kafka’s timeless visions, nor Lewis Carroll’s or Edward Lear's, nor any of the world’s great legends.  What if we don't say, “the beast of Revelation symbolizes this” or “the number 666 decodes as that.”  What if we say, as in the scripture, a beast is a number of a man?  Remember, the verse begins, “Here is wisdom.”  Where might the wisdom of 666 take us?
#metaphor #book of revelation #biblical #666 #number of the beast
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May 17, 2020 (permalink)

A truthful headline!  From Woroni, 1978.
#lies #vintage headline
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