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
Featured Book
The Young Wizard's Hexopedia
Search Site

Breathing Circle
Music Box Moment
Cautious or Optimistic
King of Hearts of War and Peace
As I Was, As I Am
Perdition Slip
Loves Me? Loves Me Not?
Wacky Birthday Form
Test Your ESP
Chess-Calvino Dictionary
Is Today the Day?
100 Ways I Failed to Boil Water
"Follow Your Bliss" Compass
"Fortune's Navigator" Compass
Inkblot Oracle
Luck Transfer Certificate
Eternal Life Coupon
Honorary Italian Grandmother E-card
Simple Answers


A Fine Line Between...
A Rose is a ...
Always Remember
Annotated Ellipses
Apropos of Nothing
Book of Whispers
Call it a Hunch
Colorful Allusions
Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up?
Disguised as a Christmas Tree
Don't Take This the Wrong Way
Everybody's Doing This Now
Forgotten Wisdom
Glued Snippets
Go Out in a Blaze of Glory
Hindpsych: Erstwhile Conjectures by the Sometime Augur of Yore
How to Believe in Your Elf
How to Write a Blank Book
I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought
Images Moving Through Time
Indubitably (?)
Inflationary Lyrics
It Bears Repeating
It's Really Happening
Last Dustbunny in the Netherlands
Miscellanies of Mr. Jonathan
Neither Saint- Nor Sophist-Led
No News Is Good News
Non-Circulating Books
Nonsense Dept.
Not Rocket Science
Oldest Tricks in the Book
On One Condition
One Mitten Manager
Only Funny If ...
P I n K S L i P
Peace Symbols to Color
Postcard Transformations
Presumptive Conundrums
Puzzles and Games
Letter Grids
Tic Tac Toe Story Generator
Which is Funnier
Restoring the Lost Sense
Rhetorical Answers, Questioned
Rhetorical Questions, Answered!
Semicolon Moons
Semicolon's Dream Journal
Separated at Birth?
Simple Answers
Someone Should Write a Book on ...
Something, Defined
Staring at the Sun
Staring Into the Depths
Strange Dreams
Strange Prayers for Strange Times
Suddenly, A Shot Rang Out
Telescopic Em Dashes
Temporal Anomalies
The 40 Most Meaningful Things
The Ghost in the [Scanning] Machine
The Only Certainty
The Right Word
This May Surprise You
This Terrible Problem That Is the Sea
Two Sides / Same Coin
Uncharted Territories
We Are All Snowflakes
What I Now Know
What's In a Name
Yearbook Weirdness
Yesterday's Weather
Your Ship Will Come In


July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006


Magic Words
Jonathan Caws-Elwitt
Martha Brockenbrough
Gordon Meyer
Dr. Boli
Serif of Nottingblog
Joe Brainard's Pyjamas
Ironic Sans
Brian Sibley's Blog
Abecedarian personal effects of 'a mad genius'
A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.

It was the oldest trick in the book, but in her experience only the best tricks survived to become old tricks.
—Adam Fawer, Improbable (2005)

It was the oldest trick in the book, but we were acutely short on tricks at the moment.
—Jay Vick, Poisoned Medicine (2002)

I know, it's the oldest trick in the book, but it must work for some people or, 
I assume, it wouldn't be in the book at all.
—Barbara Pachter, The Jerk with the Cell Phone (2004)

[I was] thinking about how this had to be the oldest trick in the book, and wondering if there really was a book.
—Kelli Jae Baeli, Armchair Detective (2005)

It was the oldest trick in the book, but it had worked flawlessly.
—Clive Barker, Coldheart Canyon (2002)

I fell for the oldest trick in the book, and I wrote the damned book.
—Michael Silverhawk, Drifters: The Final Testament (2004)

[E]ven the oldest trick in the world still has new life in it if you give it some thought.
—Anthony Owen, "A Review of 'Cyclops' by Bob Farmer" (2000)

Sometimes in the movies, when the bad guy is holding a gun on the good guy, the good guy says, "It won't work, Scarfelli.  My men are right behind you with their guns drawn."  And the bad guy says, "You can't fool me, Murdoch, that's the oldest trick in the book."  Well, exactly what book are these guys talking about?  Have you ever seen a book with a bunch of tricks in it?  Magic tricks, maybe, but I don't think the thing with the guns would be in there, do you?  A prostitute might have a book of tricks, but once again, probably no mention of the two guys with the guns.  And anyway, even if there really were a book with a lot of tricks in it, how would you know which trick was the oldest?  They were all printed at the same time.  You'd have to say, "You can't fool me, Murdoch, that's the trick that appears earliest in the book."  But that's not good movie dialogue, is it?
—George Carlin, Brain Droppings (1997)

August 12, 2018 (permalink)

The old quill-pen-through-the-head trick.  From Le Journal Amusant, 1932.
#vintage illustration #quill pen #art
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

January 14, 2016 (permalink)

"The oldest trick in the book of being dumped is to make them feel sorry for losing you." —The Big Book of Self-Help Tips

Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

December 30, 2015 (permalink)

"It's the oldest trick in the book, hidin' in a wagonload o' hay!"
—Henry Clark, The Book That Proves Time Travel Happens

Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

December 9, 2015 (permalink)

"Chances are they're getting paid for information.  Little tidbits they can see to the tabloids or whatever.  They show up here, work, listen, watch and then when their shift is over they head out there and debrief. ... Oldest trick in the book."
—Jason Mott, The Wonder of All Things

Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

September 20, 2015 (permalink)

Prof. Oddfellow shares one of his secrets of walking through a brick wall, in Carrboro, North Carolina.  For Gordon Meyer.

Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

September 11, 2015 (permalink)

"In an instant the red wig disappeared," and we wish we were at liberty to reveal the secret of this mystification.  From Dicks' English Library of Standard Works, edited by Percy Bolingbroke Saint John, 1884.

#vintage illustration #magic #toupee
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

September 10, 2015 (permalink)

How young is too young for the tablecloth trick?  (Spoiler: there's actually no minimum age.)  From St. Nicholas magazine, 1877.

Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

July 6, 2015 (permalink)

That's right—none of those is his actual hand.  This old trick is so tricky that to this day the phrase "clandestine macramé" delivers no Google results.  From My Years at the Austrian Court by Nellie Ryan, 1915.

#vintage photo #austrian court #vintage austria #fake hands
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

May 30, 2015 (permalink)

"Some liquid matter rushed out of the camera and struck Eddard with startling force," from Wonderful Ching-Ching: His Further Adventures by Edwin Harcourt Burrahe, 1886.

#vintage illustration #practical joke #trick camera
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

May 2, 2015 (permalink)

Here's the oldest trick in the book, from Blasts from The Ram's Horn, 1902.
#vintage illustration #oldest trick in the book #trickster #thief #distraction
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

March 5, 2015 (permalink)

"The oldest trick in the book. . . . All they've got to do is get a picture of him in the act, whatever it is, threaten to leak it to the Press, and they've got him.  Nobody wants to see a picture of himself splashed all over the front of the paper with his socks off having his corns . . ." —N. F. Simpson, The Cresta Run
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

December 13, 2014 (permalink)

"Ah yes, the good ol' pull-the-tablecloth-off-the-table-without-sending-dishes-flying routine. The oldest trick in the book? Possibly." —Jeremy Korzeniewski

Our vintage illustration appears in Funny Books for Boys and Girls, 1856.
#vintage illustration #tablecloth
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

December 11, 2014 (permalink)

Giving a warning too late to be of any help.  It's the oldest trick in the book.  The caption reads, "Take care, Mr. Malone, the stairs are slippery."  From Shirley by Charlotte Brontë, 1897.
#vintage illustration #falling #falling down the stairs
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

December 2, 2014 (permalink)

How the journal was written — a word at a time (oldest trick in the book).  From A Voyage in the 'Sunbeam' by Annie Brassey, 1878.
#vintage illustration #writing #journal
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

October 22, 2014 (permalink)

Here's the "outraged husband" trick from Mysteries and Miseries of America's Great Cities, Embracing New York, Washington City, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and New Orleans by James William Buel, 1883.
#vintage illustration #outraged
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

August 6, 2014 (permalink)

"A closing cadence ... is the oldest confidence trick of them all — knowing all the time, as one does, that there is scarcely a statement one can make that does not slip bit by bit with every word further and further from what to begin with showed every promise of encompassing some simple, serviceable truth." —the hilarious N. F. Simpson in his spoof interview with The Transatlantic Review (Summer 1966) [via Jonathan Caws-Elwitt]
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

December 16, 2013 (permalink)

"Don't for a moment believe that no one will find out.  That's the oldest trick in the book."
Angus Buchan, Come of Age (2011)
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

November 20, 2013 (permalink)

"If you want to find out if someone is indiscreet you tell him under a vow of secrecy something that isn't true.  If you then hear the story from another source you know that that person broke his vow of secrecy." —Alec Waugh, The Mule on the Minaret (2011)
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

October 21, 2013 (permalink)

Asking for help finding a kitten.  "That's the oldest trick in the book."
Marlene Perez, Dead Is Not an Option (2011)
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

September 18, 2013 (permalink)

"Throw underlings to the wolves while the top dogs hide behind the ramparts."
Paul W. Rea, Mounting Evidence (2011)
Tumblr Twitter Facebook Pinterest

Page 1 of 10

> Older Entries...

Original Content Copyright © 2020 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.