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.
Rhetorical Answers, Questioned

September 20, 2019 (permalink)

This book ends happy that it won't have to be weighed for postage, wondering how many stamps it would demand.  By our calculation, the book would weigh 1.1 pounds.  For a flat rate box with 2-day shipping, the book would require 37 first class stamps.
From I Forgot by Mrs. Frederick Field, 1888.
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September 19, 2019 (permalink)

Q: "Do you remember?" -- a chapter in The Land Where the Sunsets Go (Orville Henry Leonard, 1917). 
A: "I Forgot" (Mrs. Frederick Field, 1888).
#memory #forgotten #forgetfulness #do you remember
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July 16, 2019 (permalink)

"Computer has answers but needs questions" -- a headline from Stoutonia, 1968.
#computer #vintage headline #questions #answers
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September 13, 2018 (permalink)

From Fliegende Blätter, 1935.
#vintage illustration #thinking #problem solving #puzzling #brain work
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August 1, 2018 (permalink)

From Fliegende Blätter, 1936.  Is there special meaning in this for you?   See Divination by Punctuation.
#vintage illustration #question mark #ink pen
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January 23, 2018 (permalink)

Whence, What, Where? by James R. Nichols, 1882.
#questions #whence #what #where
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December 11, 2017 (permalink)

Eight question marks and a skull — the cover of a set of John Dickson Carr mystery novels.
#skull #vintage book #question marks
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November 19, 2017 (permalink)

How long is a jiffy?  "A little longer than it takes to define it, but just long enough to prepare [instant cocoa]."  This ad lies just as all ads do -- it says that the hot cocoa requires "no boiling," yet the chocolate is added to boiling water.  So there's no boiling, except for the boiling.  It's despicable, but such is the world of advertising.  From Judge's Library, 1896.
#vintage ad #hot chocolate
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July 17, 2017 (permalink)

From Grip, 1888.
#vintage illustration #question mark
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May 30, 2017 (permalink)

"When Mr. McDonald wasn't dancing."  From Long Lines magazine, 1921.
#vintage illustration #all fours
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May 4, 2017 (permalink)

Homo Versus Darwin by William Penman Lyon, 1872.
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April 29, 2017 (permalink)

From Ambition magazine, 1911.
#vintage illustration #question mark
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Q: "Is tobacco hurting you?"  From Popular Mechanics, 1930.
A: "Tobacco is hurting you."  From Popular Mechanics, 1921.
#vintage illustration #vintage ad #smoking #lung cancer #tobacco
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September 21, 2016 (permalink)

"There is a splendid statement in one of Herzog's films.  The main character asks himself a question and then says, Who will answer this answer?  Actually, there is no question, answers are all one ever answers.  To the answer already contained in a question (cross-examination, competition, plebiscite, etc.) one should respond with questions from another answer.  One should bring forth the order-word of the order-word.  In the order-word, life must answer the answer of death, not by fleeing, but by making flight act and create.  There are pass-words beneath order-words.  Words that pass, words that are components of passage, whereas order-words mark stoppages or organized, stratified compositions.  A single thing or word undoubtedly had this twofold nature: it is necessary to extract one from the other—to transform the compositions of order into components of passage."  —Deleuze and Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus
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August 17, 2016 (permalink)

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July 14, 2016 (permalink)

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May 31, 2016 (permalink)

Q: "I wonder if the rabbit visits anyone in Cal?"
A: Not without a license: "It is illegal in California for anyone to possess eggs ... without a license" (California Farmer, Vol. 274), possibly because "The urge to find and possess eggs has driven men to distant and dangerous places" (Joseph Kastner, A World of Watchers).
#vintage illustration #easter bunny #vintage postcard
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May 25, 2016 (permalink)

Q: Do you ever wish you could read Harry Potter again for the very first time?

A: Yes, and here's how to do it.  There's both a physical and a mental (self-hypnosis-type) component to the technique.  We'll explain how the physical component facilitates the mental.  Acquire from another nation a copy of whichever Harry Potter novel you wish to read again; for example, if you first read an American edition and wish to stick with English, seek a copy of the book that was printed in the U.K., Australia, Canada, or so on.  This new copy will look and feel different from the one you first read, and that's crucial for truthfully telling your subconscious mind that you have never read this particular book.  Indeed, to read Harry Potter again for the first time will require a sly bit of auto-hypnosis, and it's far easier to begin by not lying to yourself but rather affirming that you truly never before have opened the book you are now holding.  Sitting comfortably with eyes half-closed, gaze upon the closed book in your lap and concentrate upon the "fact" that you have heard of Harry Potter but have never read any of the books.  Your willpower, focused for half an hour at a time, will lead your mind to believe that you are new to the Harry Potter saga.  Interestingly, there's a strong argument that authors like J. K. Rowling write their books in a state of self-hypnosis, due to the combination of intense concentration and the need to conquer the authorial ego so as to get in touch with the personalities of the story's characters.  "Every author knows the difficulty--in some cases impossibility--of dropping a story until it is finished.  He is under control of the idea, and can remove the obsession only by finishing the story.  Then he awakens, or partly awakes, for a time--until the next idea comes along" (Morgan Robertson, "The Self-Hypnosis of Authors," The Critic, 1906).  And so, like J. K. Rowling as she originally wrote her stories, you must concentrate and conquer the ego that believes it knows how it all turns out.  When Rowling was first inspired to write the original Harry Potter story, she had an outline in mind for how the events would unfold, yet when it came time to pen the very first word, to communicate the story properly she had to think like her future readers, unknowledgeable of how it would all turn out.  She had to approach the story in her head with what the Zen Buddhists call a beginner's mind.  If she could do this as the author of her own novels, you can do this as the reader.  You were once brand new to Harry Potter, and that mental state yet exists in your memory.  Make a concerted effort to reclaim that state of mind.  Tell yourself again, again, and again that you are a newcomer, until you're ready to open that new book.

#harry potter #self hypnosis
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May 13, 2016 (permalink)

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May 2, 2016 (permalink)

Q: "Why would anyone want to wear a false beard anyway?"
A: "Well eirther he used to have a beard and missed wearing it or he's perhaps instead in disguise" (Justin Tully, The Diamond Trail of Stockholm)
[Pictured: Rabbit Maranville and Art Shires of the Braves, photographed by Leslie Jones.]
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