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.
Puzzles and Games

June 17, 2020 (permalink)

It actually makes sense to combine chess with Transcendental Meditation.  As you contemplate your next move, you say, "Ummmm ... ummmm ... ummmm."  From The Martlet, 1974.  See If a Chessman Were a Word: A Chess-Calvino Dictionary.
#vintage ad #meditation #chess
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June 14, 2020 (permalink)

Reblog if your social life is a game board.  From Montclair's 1920 yearbook.
#vintage illustration #vintage yearbook #game board #chess board #checkerboard #social life
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May 30, 2020 (permalink)

Clever: you can fill in all the rude words that occur to you, and you'll still complete the crossword correctly.  From Woroni, 1969.
#crossword puzzle
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May 21, 2020 (permalink)

Rebus stockings, for those versed in French symbol writing.  From Le Charivari, 1887.
#vintage illustration #vintage fashion #rebus #stockings
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April 11, 2020 (permalink)

A riddle:
A great explorer crossed a vast ocean and arrived at a jungle island inhabited by highly intelligent parrots.  They could speak and learn new words, though of course what they could conceive was limited by their experience of the world.  Intrigued yet skeptical, they gathered that the explorer was not born of an egg.  (“A miracle!” some muttered.  “Impossible!” others whispered.)  
He claimed to have come from beyond the horizon (another unbelievable idea, but the parrots, being a civilized people, indulged him politely; as was obvious, the coastline of their island demarcated the entire world).  
The explorer was struck by the beauty of the wild sunflowers that provided sustenance to his parrot friends.  He longed to tell them of the elaborate feasts he had experienced at the banquet tables of kings.  Weirdly, the first exotic food that popped into his head was an old fashioned Tomato Aspic—a Bloody Mary cocktail made of jello, with green olives suspended throughout.  How to describe a jello mold to creatures who knew only sunflowers?  Or vodka?  Or green olives?  Much less the why of such a creation!  All the explorer could say was, “I have eaten the no-sunflower.”  
He longed to describe the exotic places he had seen—mountain peaks, valleys, deserts, prairies, tundras.  All he could say was, “I have been to the no-jungle.”  
What of the colors he had witnessed on his travels?  The parrots knew the beauty of sunflower yellow, sky blue, feather red, and rainforest green, but there the palette ended.  He tried to communicate the spectrum he knew: “Cerise, cerulean, chartreuse, virvidian, vermilion, umber, ocher.”  (One parrot whispered, “He’s babbling!  He’s chanting nonsense!”  Another said, “No-sunflower, no-jungle … he’s a nihilist!”)  
Sensing incredulity, the explorer beseeched them, “Can’t you at least try to picture the no-jungle?  Perhaps speaking the names of the no-colors might break you out of your habitual thinking?”  Some did.  
What is the one-word title of this story?
Answer: "Buddhism.". (The answer is in black text on the black background. Highlight it to view.)
#parrot #riddle
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February 25, 2020 (permalink)

Such an important reminder never to play chess anywhere near a game of Clue, lest a wrench-wielding Prof. Plum ruin everything.  From Astounding, 1953.
#vintage illustration #chess #clue #wrench
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January 28, 2020 (permalink)

This illustration from an 80s computer gaming book offers a perplexing puzzle.  How do the answers to each computer screen make sense?
From Inside Basic Games by Richard  Mateosian, 1981.
Answer: "Note that three of the computer screens each feature one number unlike the others. The proper answer is always the digit whose position in the computer keyboard number pad corresponds to the odd position on the screen. For example, in the first screen, the odd number is at the bottom left, the position of the "1" key of a keyboard's number pad. The second screen's odd number is at the center, where the "5" is located on a key pad. There are no odd numbers in the third screen, hence an answer of "0.". (The answer is in black text on the black background. Highlight it to view.)
#vintage computer #number puzzle
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August 23, 2019 (permalink)

You've heard of "human Chess" games, but there's also "human Boggle."  From Special Activities for Very Special Children, 1972.
#vintage illustration #word game #letter grid #boggle
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August 6, 2019 (permalink)

A variation on the game of Rock-Paper-Scissors.  From Le Charivari, 1885.
#vintage illustration #thumbing nose #hands #rock paper scissors
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July 24, 2019 (permalink)

From Lustige Blätter, 1905.
#vintage illustration #chess
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July 20, 2019 (permalink)

If you've heard of rodent mazes but didn't know how they were arranged, here's one that features four blind alleys to its one exit.  From The Dancing Mouse by Robert Yerkes, 1907.
#vintage diagram #labyrinth #maze #mouse #rat maze #rat labyrinth #mouse labyrinth #rodent labyrinth #animal behavior
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May 30, 2019 (permalink)

Reblog if you've ever discovered that you were playing a game against yourself.  From La Lune Rousse, 1878.
#vintage illustration #own worst enemy #chess #solo game #playing against oneself
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December 30, 2018 (permalink)

Eskimo dominoes, from Chinese Games with Dice and Dominoes by Stewart Culin, 1895.
#vintage illustration #dominoes #eskimo dominoes
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November 28, 2018 (permalink)

From Kladderadatsch, 1938.  For the secret of why to roll blank dice, see Astragalomancy: A Loaded Guide: Intriguing Readings of 21 Discrete Dice Throws.  By the way, in his novel Bury Me Among the GravesTim Powers describes organized dice rolling without looking at the numbers: "The old dwarf tossed the objects to the floor, and Crawford saw that they were dice. McKee turned and caught Crawford's chin in her hand. 'Don't look at the numbers on them,' she said. 'But if you want to be helpful, you could pick them up and throw them, over and over again. Not looking, remember.' ... As he dropped the dice one more time onto the floor, it occurred to Crawford that he had been hearing this repetitive rattle ever since they had entered this chamber. Were these dice thrown perpetually, their numbers never read? Chuchuwee must employ a relay of children to keep it up."
#vintage illustration #blank dice
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November 13, 2018 (permalink)

From Jugend, 1913.
#vintage illustration #death #skeleton #grim reaper #war games #art
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July 21, 2018 (permalink)

The only sides of the dice with spots are six, six, six.  From Kladderadatsch, 1940.
#vintage illustration #666 #six six six #three sixes #dice roll #all sixes
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June 22, 2018 (permalink)

A rare playing card in which one end of the figure is facing away.  From Zwanzigste Jahrhundert, 1921.
Playing cards dealt through time -- see my playing cards gallery.
#vintage illustration #political cartoon #sword #king of hearts #playing card
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February 12, 2018 (permalink)

Rock beats scissors.  From Kladderadatsch, 1923.   See the Zen version of Rock-Paper-Scissors: Moon-Fish-Ocean.
#vintage illustration #jesus #rock paper scissors
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January 3, 2018 (permalink)

Which is better: a good book or a game of chess?  The answer is from The Idler, 1894.  The game of chess and a good book are combined here: If a Chessman Were a Word: A Chess-Calvino Dictionary.
#chess #i prefer reading #good book
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December 30, 2017 (permalink)

Here's an old Scottish holiday card that was originally meant to be cut into squares so as to rearrange the heads, bodies, and legs. We put it through one of the many tools we use to create Abecedarian. Click the blue arrows to slide the rows back and forth.

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