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, 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.
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
December 31, 2007

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
Here's to a happy new year!


See full size photo here.
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .

December 30, 2007

Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary (permalink)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of Mt. Ararat . . .


 
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .

December 29, 2007

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

by manueb

One weekend Trout and Eel decided to paint their bedroom blue. The walls were the turquoise of the southern seas, the ceiling was cobalt, the floors indigo, the color of waters so deep and distant, no human had ever seen them before. Here in this room anyone could imagine the sound of waves breaking.
—Alice Hoffman, Indigo, 2002

* Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.
 
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


Unicorns (permalink)
> read more from Unicorns . . .

December 28, 2007

Colorful Allusions (permalink)

As by a fascination, every eye was now directed to the glaring greenish- grey eye of Simon.
—Harriet Beecher Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 1852.

* Though printed in black and white, great literature is bursting with vibrant colour. In this rebus-style puzzle, color words and parts of words have been replaced with colored boxes. Try to guess the exact hue of each. Roll your mouse over the colored boxes to reveal the missing words. Click the colored boxes to learn more about each hue. Special thanks to Paul Dean for his colorful research.
 
> read more from Colorful Allusions . . .


Peace Symbols to Color (permalink)


> read more from Peace Symbols to Color . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary (permalink)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary . . .

December 27, 2007

Staring at the Sun (permalink)


> read more from Staring at the Sun . . .

December 26, 2007

Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the moss-covered key to Atlantis . . .


 
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .


Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
“Your Shoelace is Untied”

This classic distraction, apparently as old as shoelaces themselves, is cited in Wikipedia as one of the oldest tricks in the book (2006).
> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

December 25, 2007

Images Moving Through Time (permalink)


> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Letter Grids (permalink)
This puzzle grid contains several big words. Can you find them?

• 7-letter words: 10
• 8-letter words: 1

All letters in the word must touch (in any direction), and no square may be reused.

Click to display solutions
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Letter Grids . . .

December 24, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
The awakening of Father Christmas, from the Dec. 26, 1891 issue of Punch.


> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .

December 23, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Sometimes it takes two Santas.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the moon . . .


 
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .


Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Wool Over the Eyes

Technology is a trickster, and it has been so since the first culture hero taught the human tribe how to spin wool before he pulled it over our eyes.  The trickster shows how intelligence fares in an unpredictable and chaotic world; he beckons us through the open doors of innovation and traps us in the prison of unintended consequences.
—Erik Davis, Techgnosis (1998)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

December 22, 2007

The Right Word (permalink)
"The Shortest Day"

Short verse
    We need,
Most terse
    Indeed,
That it—
    This lay—
May fit
    This day.
Short sight
    Of sun.
Long night,
    Begun
At four,
    Sunshine
Once more
    At nine.
A. M.
    Meets eyes
Of them
    Who rise
If no
    Fog hide—
Then woe
    Betide;
The day
    That ought
To stay
    So short
A space
    Can't show
Its face
    Below.
But when
    It goes,
Why then
    One knows
New Year
    Will soon
Be here—
    Then June,
So bright!
    So sweet!
So light!
    We'll greet
The day
    That's long
With gay,
    Glad song—
Excessively long-footed verse will undoubtedly characterise what
            we say,
For Longfellow's longest lines skip along when we've long longed
            for the Longest Day.

—Punch, Dec. 24, 1892
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Peace Symbols to Color (permalink)


> read more from Peace Symbols to Color . . .

December 21, 2007

The Right Word (permalink)
Pagan traditions: where should Christians draw the line?


Photo by DJMisc.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary (permalink)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary . . .

December 20, 2007

Peace Symbols to Color (permalink)


> read more from Peace Symbols to Color . . .


Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Water Bucket

One of the oldest tricks in the book: the water bucket is a surprise your noisy pooch won’t forget.
—Matthew Van Kyrk, Guide to Training Your Own Dog (1996)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

December 19, 2007

Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the mirror . . .


 
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .

December 18, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
Abecedarian's own Carte Blanche Atlas of Uncharted Territories ranked #1 in Stephen Saperstein Frug's top ten "still-fresh" resources on the Web.  Frug explains that "lots of things on the web are evergreens: just as good a year from now as a year ago."  He has collected "pieces whose virtue are not bound by historical moment" and that are "worth your attention."  Thanks, Stephen!  We're honored!

Meanwhile, our own One-Letter Words: A Dictionary was recommended in the Harvard Independent's holiday gift guide.  They call it "a lot more fun than a regular dictionary."  Let's hear the Harvard cheer: "Rah, rah, rah!"
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
Perhaps this is where all the a-holes come from.


From Labworks' Flickr gallery.
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Letter Grids (permalink)
This puzzle grid contains several big words. Can you find them?

• 7-letter words: 12
• 8-letter words: 5
• 9-letter words: 1

All letters in the word must touch (in any direction), and no square may be reused.

Click to display solutions
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Letter Grids . . .

December 17, 2007

Go Out in a Blaze of Glory (permalink)
The night the lights went out at Madame Tussaud's wax museum.


Walter Martin and Paloma Muñoz
Human Candles, 1996
Wax, wicks, metal
Via
> read more from Go Out in a Blaze of Glory . . .


Peace Symbols to Color (permalink)


> read more from Peace Symbols to Color . . .

December 16, 2007

Unicorns (permalink)
Life for a unicorn isn't all glamor.


> read more from Unicorns . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the mermaid . . .


 
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .

December 15, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
A picture's worth a hundred pennies. 


The One Dollar Camera, via.
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Verbal Inventiveness

—Jean-Benoit Nadeau, Sixty Million Frenchmen Can’t Be Wrong (2003)
> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

December 14, 2007

Puzzles and Games (permalink)
From the mind of Russell Weekes (via Kottke.org):


> read more from Puzzles and Games . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary (permalink)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary . . .


Uncharted Territories (permalink)
> read more from Uncharted Territories . . .

December 13, 2007

Do-Re-Midi (permalink)
The best way to play Dixie Jazz?


A fully working, manual record player made entirely of paper.  Designed by Simon Elvins.
> read more from Do-Re-Midi . . .


Peace Symbols to Color (permalink)


> read more from Peace Symbols to Color . . .

December 12, 2007

Semicolon's Dream Journal (permalink)
I dreamed that programmer Mike Strosaker was buoyed by my dream journal, vowing to "continue to use that most mysterious of characters, in all its wondrous glory, when the pause of the period is too pregnant and that of the comma is not pregnant enough, when the interplay, the tension, between two independent clauses is so overt that their separation does them a disservice."  I was awakened by my own tears of joy.
> read more from Semicolon's Dream Journal . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of Merlin . . .


 
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Letter Grids (permalink)
This puzzle grid contains several big words. Can you find them?

• 7-letter words: 7
• 8-letter words: 2

All letters in the word must touch (in any direction), and no square may be reused.

Click to display solutions
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Letter Grids . . .

December 11, 2007

Do-Re-Midi (permalink)
I'm learning to play this on the conch shell trumpet.


Original size via.
> read more from Do-Re-Midi . . .


Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Use of Tools

“Use tools.  In this case, human tools.”
    Di hit her forehead with her palm.  “Oh hell!  The oldest trick in the book, and I forgot it!  My God, that’s Crowley’s old trick—and the Kali cult’s, and a dozen others’!”
—Mercedes Lackey, Burning Water (1992)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

December 10, 2007

Strange Dreams (permalink)
A friend dreamed:

I was walking down a sidewalk and came upon a statue of Jesus. It came alive, and asked me if I would kiss his feet. I wasn't that thrilled at the idea, but since they looked clean, I decided I'd be willing to try it, in case it resulted in some wonderful spiritual benefit. As I approached him, he started changing shapes that had nothing remotely like feet. While watching him, I was somehow transported to a room where there was a man in a booth. He had stacks of posters that the viewer was supposed to choose from for what would be experienced. I found some posters I liked, but I just wanted the posters, and not deal with the activities represented by them. This response seemed to confuse the man, as if this hadn't happened before, but he didn't refuse when I asked if I could have the posters I liked. But as I walked away, a dangerous looking man came up to me and pushed me in a way that knocked me down. I somehow knew that he would continue pushing me till I was unconscious, so I just lay there, pretending that I was already unconscious. Then some people came and picked me up and strapped me onto a cart (like used in hospitals). I was then put onto a conveyer belt where various sweet tasting substances were forced at me. The first was like cream filling in donuts. I tasted a little, and decided I didn't really want any, so I just closed my eyes and mouth till it was gone. It soon was, and I was amazed that none seemed to be sticking to my face. This was followed by lots of other sweet substances like caramel, coconut, ice cream, etc. I wasn't interested in tasting any of them, but there was a bowl of chopped nuts by the ice cream, and I tried to take a few of those, but they were in a glass case that I couldn't open. So I soon gave up. I figured that they were only available if I ate ice cream too. Then various kinds of chocolate substances were forced at me. I knew that the people running this procedure didn't know I can't eat chocolate, so I tried to shout out "no chocolate", but the substances kept getting in the way. Finally the sweet substances stopped coming, and I was unstrapped and let go. The guy who had been taking notes on my reactions said I "scored a 4", in a voice that indicated that this was a ridiculously low number, so I figured that it was on a scale of 100. I walked out of the place wondering why I'd been given this "test", since the sweet substances were meant to cause people to uncontrollably indulge in them. I knew there surely were other tests which could easily break down my resistance, so I found it strange that they'd choose one that was so inappropriate for me.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .


The Right Word (permalink)
> read more from The Right Word . . .


Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? (permalink)
When daydreams take you miles away: "yearneying"
> read more from Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up? . . .

December 9, 2007

Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary (permalink)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of mercy . . .


 
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .

December 8, 2007

Unicorns (permalink)
The birthplace of most unicorns?


Photo by GregM1.
> read more from Unicorns . . .


Peace Symbols to Color (permalink)


> read more from Peace Symbols to Color . . .

December 7, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)

Multicolored, Multilingual

When we talk of colors, we can't help but be multilingual. Our world tour of exotic color names continues on through Italy, England, Greece, and Iran. Let's take a pictorial tour of these colorful cultures, in search of an exotic blue metamorphic rock that yields a bright pigment when crushed.



by Brian J. Geiger.

Magenta is named in honor of the town in northern Italy where the bloodlike purplish red dye was discovered.

magenta

 


by ho visto nina volare.

Siena is named in honor of the city in Tuscany where a school of art flourished in the 13th and 14th centuries. Burnt siena is a deep reddish-brown pigment.

Egia siena

 


by cbmd.

Scarlet is a Middle English word originally meaning any brightly colored fabric. Today it exclusively refers to brilliant red.

Scarlett O'Hara


[Read the entire article in my guest blog at ColourLovers.com.]
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
A door of an Omani fort, or a make-your-own-lemonade stand?


The studs are supposedly to keep elephants from pushing the door down.  Photo by Andrea
> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Up the Sleeve

While I was fiddling with my woolly hat, giving, though I say so myself, a very cunning simulation of clumsiness and muddle, I simply slipped the salt cellar down my sleeve.  . . . It’s the oldest trick in the world, in fact . . . but nevertheless takes a great deal of skill and deftness.
—Douglas Adams, Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (1987)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

December 6, 2007

Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
An ancient cathedral strongbox with modern padlocks.


From Andrea Kirby's flickr gallery.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary (permalink)
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Film-ictionary . . .

December 5, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)


Mineral Colors from the Near Side of the Moon

Eons of meteorite impacts on the lunar surface have left an amazing array of mineral deposits. Back in 1971, cartographers Don E. Wilhelms and John F. McCauley of the U.S. Geological Survey created a series of startlingly colorful lunar maps for NASA. The details below are from the Moon's near side. To see large and complete maps of the moon, see the U.S. Geological Survey Website.


moon1.jpg
Endless ForestA Lunar Tan
great whiteLunar Moss
ShimomoCrater Impact
Crater GreenLunar Chocolate

[Read the entire article in my guest blog at ColourLovers.com.]

> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the Maya . . .


 
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
> read more from Book of Whispers . . .


Forgotten Wisdom (permalink)
From Prof. Oddfellow's sketchbook:


Printed collections of Forgotten Wisdom diagrams are available: Volume I from Mindful Greetings and Volumes II, III and IV from Amazon.  Selected posters are also available via Zazzle.
> read more from Forgotten Wisdom . . .

December 4, 2007

Do-Re-Midi (permalink)
I'm studying the Romantic Period in my music class.


A detail from a tribute to Serge Gainsbourg, via ffffound.com.

Jonathan writes:

Very realistic--the composer has even included the rests!
> read more from Do-Re-Midi . . .


Puzzles and Games :: Letter Grids (permalink)
This puzzle grid contains several big words. Can you find them?

• 7-letter words: 20
• 8-letter words: 4

All letters in the word must touch (in any direction), and no square may be reused.

Click to display solutions
> read more from Puzzles and Games :: Letter Grids . . .

December 3, 2007

I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought (permalink)
I finally understand how three-layer cake can be part of a balanced diet.


> read more from I Found a Penny Today, So Here's a Thought . . .


Oldest Tricks in the Book (permalink)
Uniforms

The oldest trick in the world is to attach oneself to some promising movement or other by simply putting on the uniform and leaving the gun at home.
—Douglas Wilson, Case for Classical Christian Education (2003)

> read more from Oldest Tricks in the Book . . .

December 2, 2007

Unicorns (permalink)


Photo by TheFunkyMan.
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Book of Whispers (permalink)
Piecing together the secret of the masters . . .


 
* The most profound secrets lie not wholly in knowledge, said the poet.  They lurk invisible in that vitalizing spark, intangible, yet as evident as the lightning—the seeker's soul.  Solitary digging for facts can reward one with great discoveries, but true secrets are not discovered—they are shared, passed on in confidence from one to another.  The genuine seeker listens attentively.

No secret can be transcribed, save in code, lest it—by definition—cease to be.  This Book of Whispers collects and encodes more than one hundred of humankind's most cherished secrets.  To be privy to the topics alone is a supreme achievement, as each contains and nurtures the seed of its hidden truth.  As possessor and thereby guardian of this knowledge, may you summon the courage to honor its secrets and to bequeath it to one worthy.
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December 1, 2007

Puzzles and Games (permalink)
What sort of fish can use a ladder? (Roll over the square to reveal the answer.)

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Peace Symbols to Color (permalink)


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