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 OneLetterWords.com.
Here's the explanation of the trick candle, "invented by a man as a rather peculiar surprise for a friend. He made that friend a present of some coloured wax candles, one of which contained the affair shown. The receiver was very fond of having a few candles of the coloured kind placed about his drawing-room, in candelabra, and was intensely surprised one night when one of those which he had thankfully accepted from his friend exploded with a loud 'bang,' after having burnt down about half-way, and revealed to view a miniature ghost, with outstretched arms, which had issued from the remaining portion of the candle. To say that the man was puzzled by so extraordinary an apparition is to incompletely describe his feelings. I wonder how the reader would accept such a crisis. I know that I should have been very much astonished. Yet the effect was produced in an exceedingly simple manner, as can be understood by examining the drawings. The lower half of the candle really consisted of a thin cardboard case, containing a spring and a small 'ghost' with spring-arms, which would fly apart immediately upon being released from their bondage. A small portion of gunpowder, separated by a disc of paper from the head of the 'ghost,' completed the apparatus. The outside of the cylinder was waxed to appear as but the continuation of the candle. When the flame burnt to the powder it naturally caused it to explode, and simultaneously with the discharge the spring forced the little image upwards. This device would make an effective toy, I am inclined to think, as the cylinder could be used as often as required, by fixing a half-candle properly to the top of it and concealing the join."