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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January 30, 2018

Miscellanies of Mr. Jonathan (permalink)

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt

unearths some literary gems.

From Cold Steal, by Alice Tilton:


But that habit of hovering was one of the things which Leonidas did not like about young Mr. Dow. He could find no fault with the actual quality of the hovering. It was deft and amiable and ingratiating. Mr. Dow was not a one to push. What troubled Leonidas was so much hovering.


"The Street Cleaning Department is mother's pet topic, next to what does she pay taxes for, anyway, she'd like to know, if."


"The House Moderne has gone to her head."


"When I was a puling infant, I remember seeing Swiss Chard scurrying in Medora's background, making lists and doing things up in brown paper packages. She's kept the brown paper industry booming."


The back-door chimes sounded, and at the same time... the front door.

"What do you do in a case like this?" Leonidas asked. "When you're alone, which do you answer first?"

"The nearest, unless the phone starts to ring, too, and then I ignore all of them."


[Spurious Quotations dept.]

He had held generations of boys at Meredith's in check by quoting just such hastily invented lines at them. There was something about a quotation from Shakespeare, even spur-of-the-minute Shakespeare, that seemed to stop people in their tracks.


[Bertie Wooster Couldn't Have Said It Better dept.]

"I am not," Leonidas continued swiftly, "experienced in the art of aunt-hunting, but I question your methods. If I had lost an aunt, and if I thought she might be in a given house, I should unhesitatingly ring doorbells and make polite and pointed inquiries. I should not lurk on snow-bound terraces, sneaking--"

"Who sneaked?" the girl demanded.

Leonidas took from his pocket the barber-pole lipstick....

"From this," Leonidas said, "I can only conclude that you have done considerable sneaking over a period of time."


"Tell me, how many varieties of Dalton are there?"

"Fifteen," Leonidas said.

"Seventeen," Cassie corrected him. "East Dalton, West Dalton, North Dalton, South Dalton, Dalton Hills,  Dalton Farms,  Dalton Centre [note the pretentious spelling!],  Dalton Village,  Dalton Falls,  Dalton Upper Falls,  Dalton [you guessed it] Lower Falls,  Daltondale, Daltonville,  Daltonham,  Dalton Landing,  Daltonwood--how many is that?"

"Enough," Leonidas said. "Do I gather that you got to the wrong Dalton, Miss Horn?"

"I got to more wrong  Daltons that [sic] I would have believed possible."


"Not, as my esteemed mother says, not on your tintype! No, sir!"


"The Blodgetts built it. He was a caterer, you know, and I always felt he let one of his pastry cooks design the house on his day off."


Cassie had erred on the side of restraint in describing Medora Winthrop's house. You could not attribute an edifice like that to one poor pastry cook. Flocks of pastry cooks must have made Blodgett's house their life work.


I've never felt so Columbus-and-the-eggy in my life," Cassie said.


"I've never in all my life been as utterly thwarted as I've been today, Cassie. Just one thwart, as you might say, after another."


> read more from Miscellanies of Mr. Jonathan . . .
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