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.
Today — February 19, 2019

Precursors (permalink)
Here's a precursor to the Addams Family's mustachioed baby Pubert.  The caption reads, "Young Mother (examining baby with magnifying glass): Harry, I'm simply tickled to death!  I believe that when Baby grows up he's going to have a dark mustache."  From Life, 1923.
> read more from Precursors . . .
#vintage illustration #addams family #pubert
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This May Surprise You (permalink)

The true origin of Bibendum, the Michelin Man, is shrouded in mystery.  Even Wikipedia (always the second to acknowledge when it's wrong) admits that it's unclear when the word "Bibendum" came to be the name of the character himself.  But now we can finally reveal all.  Contrary to popular rumors, the name obviously has nothing to do with Horace's phrase "Nunc est bibendum" ("now is the time for drinking"), as that would encourage drunk driving.  In fact, Bibendum's genesis is a footnote in history, quite literally.  In footnotes, an asterisk (*) is followed by a dagger (†), then a double dagger (‡), and then a section sign (§).  It was a section sign followed by the textual reference abbreviation "ibid" that engendered the Michelin Man.  Note how the section sign looks like a circle (tire) with two arms, as seen from above.  André Michelin, confronted by that footnote, equated the symbol with the mysterious abbreviation "ibid."  Upon looking up the meaning of "ibid," the horror of that sign and its occult label only increased, for André was told that it meant "ibidem."  (Spoiler: "ibidem" means "in the same place," "in the previously referenced source").  He had fallen into recursiveness, a tunnel of appendaged tires that eternally rolled back into itself.  This is the horror William Gibson described as a stomach-churningly creepy, "weird, jaded, cigar-smoking elder creature suggesting a mummy with elephantiasis ... the rolls of his pallid, rubbery flesh like the folds of a partially deflated blimp, greasy and vile" (Pattern Recognition).  When André regained consciousness and realized, practically retching, that he knew what his company's mascot was ordained to be, he remembered "ibidem" as "Bibendum," the addition of that initial B serving as a pictogram of the Michelin Man as seen from the front (a round head over a larger round body).  As anyone can see, combining the overhead-view section sign with the front-view capital B brings the figure into three dimensions.  Indeed, it was André's seemingly accidental addition of that B that brought the Michelin Man to life as one of the world's most recognized corporate symbols.
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .
#bibendum #michelin man
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Yearbook Weirdness (permalink)
Faith, hope, and question mark.  From Elon's 1915 yearbook.

*For some unbelievably weird yearbook imagery, see our How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.

> read more from Yearbook Weirdness . . .
#vintage illustration #owl #vintage yearbook #question mark #questioning #faith hope
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Miscellanies of Mr. Jonathan (permalink)

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt

unearths some literary gems.

From Stolen Words, by Thomas Mallon:

[This scholarly but lively, witty work about plagiarism, and how it became the modern concept we recognize over the course of the 18th and 19th centuries, sits on my imaginary shelf next to Marginalia by H. J. Jackson (who is cited in this book, because her buddy Coleridge figures heavily not only in the history of marginalia but also in the history of plagiarism).]

***

To some extent every writer's desk top is like a Ouija board, his pen pushed across it by whatever literary ghost he's just entertained.

***

It's...common for the novelist, particularly the young one, to create his characters out of himself. What's odd, and what may have been true in Sterne's middle-aged case, is taking the opportunity to make oneself out of one's characters.

***

Originality...set itself down as a cardinal literary virtue sometime in the middle of the eighteenth century and has never since gotten up.

***

[Coleridge] would likely have denied that what he was really giving...was not so much an account of what Sterne's brain went through when musing upon female anatomy as of what his own underwent in the presence of German metaphysics.

***

One can barely conduct a study of plagiarism amid the deafening sound of literary pots roaring at literary kettles.

***

Coleridge: "I regard truth as a divine ventriloquist."

***

Charles Reade: "A man's life is like those geographical fragments children learn 'the contiguous countries' by. The pieces are a puzzle; but put them together carefully, and lo! they are a map."

***

The preface to A Simpleton has Reade blustering: "All fiction, worth a button, is founded on facts.... I rarely write a novel without milking about two hundred heterogeneous cows into my pail."

Most novelists perform the same chore less loudly on a smaller herd.

***

Take a writer not quite so beyond criticism, and we tend, upon spotting historical lumps in the narrative gravy, to object.

***

By mid-March things were sufficiently complicated for an academic to step in.

***

The four volumes of Uber Land und Meer that were brought up from the lower depths of the New York Public Library together weigh more than an IBM Selectric typewriter and are so covered with dust that you have to imagine the Bismarckian Hausfrauen who subscribed to the unbound originals sternly clucking at their current untidiness.

> read more from Miscellanies of Mr. Jonathan . . .
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Images Moving Through Time (permalink)
A word of caution: though this photograph may be used to facilitate astral travel, it is not to be used in conjunction with near-death experiences. From Fairmont's yearbook of 1979.
> read more from Images Moving Through Time . . .
#vintage photo #vintage yearbook #hallway #light at the end of it
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Nebelspalter, 1878.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
#vintage illustration #anthropomorphism #art #animal headed #hybrid #donkey headed
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Lustige Blätter, 1906.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
#vintage illustration #art #lion #blue lion
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
The seancers have no faces.  From Le Pêle-Mêle, 1896.  See Seance Parlor Feng Shui.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
#vintage illustration #art #spiritualism #seance #no face
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Le Journal Amusant, 1892.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
#vintage illustration #art #long hair #big hair #opera glasses #braided hair #long braids
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Nothing in his hat.  From Kladderadatsch, 1921.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
#vintage illustration #magic wand #magician #art #vintage magic #top hat #nothing in my hat
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Strange Dreams (permalink)
From Fliegende Blätter, 1926.
If you have a strange dream to share, send it along!
> read more from Strange Dreams . . .
#vintage illustration #nightmare #anthropomorphism #art #faces in things #leaves #vines
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Le Rire, 1916.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
#vintage illustration #art #tanks #armored #animal shapes
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This May Surprise You (permalink)
"Lobsters are like people," from Popular Mechanics, 1952.  
And we can prove that lobsters are like people.  See the vintage lobsters we've so far collected.
> read more from This May Surprise You . . .
#vintage photo #lobster #vintage headline
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
An all-pig carousel and a grope.  From Le Journal Amusant, 1921.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
#vintage illustration #art #carousel #pig #groping
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Die Muskete, 1930.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
#vintage illustration #art #goat #toreador
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
Novelty weddings are a thing of the past.  From Le Journal Amusant, 1904.  See The Collected Lost Meanings of Wedlock.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
#vintage illustration #mountaintop #art #top of the world #extreme wedding #novelty wedding #unusual wedding
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From Fugas, 1907.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
#vintage illustration #demon #devil #art #pollution #smokestack
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From La Lune Rousse, 1879.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
#vintage illustration #anthropomorphism #murder #art #dog #pet walker #pushed off #when dogs kill
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Restoring the Lost Sense (permalink)
From The Judge, 1901.
[Inexplicable images from generations ago invite us to restore the lost sense of immediacy.  We follow the founder of the Theater of Spontaneity, Jacob Moreno, who proposed stringing together "now and then flashes" to unfetter illusion and let imagination run free.  The images we have collected for this series came at a tremendous price, which we explained previously.]
> read more from Restoring the Lost Sense . . .
#vintage illustration #political cartoon #art #uncle sam #distortion #funhouse mirror
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Yearbook Weirdness (permalink)
"The Feminish Movement."  From Indiana State Normal School's 1916 yearbook.

*For some unbelievably weird yearbook imagery, see our How to Hoodoo Hack a Yearbook.

> read more from Yearbook Weirdness . . .
#vintage illustration #vintage yearbook #dandy #vintage gay
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Original Content Copyright © 2019 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.