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
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.
Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up?

February 15, 2015 (permalink)

As the regional operations supervisor would say, "Why are you budgeted for both a court fool and a buffoon?" —Jonathan Caws-Elwitt

February 11, 2015 (permalink)

Dubourg receives his aunt's pocket-book [and is mortified that his shoes don't match.]  From Dicks' English Library of Standard Works, 1884.

January 29, 2015 (permalink)

Can you guess Major Twiggs' branch of the military?  From The History of Mexico and Its Wars by John Frost, 1882.

January 6, 2015 (permalink)

What if Bewitched's Endora had turned Darrin into a religious mendicant?  See caption (from Tent Work in Palestine by Claude Reignier Conder and illustrated by Josiah Wood Whymper, 1878).

December 25, 2014 (permalink)

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt shares a deleted scene from A Christmas Carol:

Behold! I am the Spirit in which the things you didn't take in the spirit in which they were intended... were intended.

December 19, 2014 (permalink)

You've heard of the optional Oxford comma, but do you know about the permissive Ottoman comma?  It can be removed with surgical precision.  For example, the caption below seemingly refers to "Turkish boy women," and we must say that the blue pencil is flattering.  From Turkey and the Turks; being the present state of the Ottoman Empire by John Reid, 1840.

December 18, 2014 (permalink)

We found independent confirmation that there are more of them in the C.  From Voyage au Pays des Bachi-Bouzoucks by Ivan de Woestyne de Grammez de Wardes, 1876.

December 11, 2014 (permalink)

La reine Marguerite and René Magritte, though this isn't either of them.

December 10, 2014 (permalink)

"You haven't got such a thing as a cigar?" reads the caption.

Our answer: "No, I'm partial to Camels."

From The Tragedy of the Korosko by Arthur Conan Doyle, 1898.

November 30, 2014 (permalink)

How to one-up a 1960s aficionado: "Well, when it comes to the sixties, there's nothing like the literal sixties — the decade beginning 60 CE.  Take the wedge, for example; how can one compare the 1960s' wedge-heel shoe to Gaius Suetonius Paulinus defeating the rebels at the Battle of Watling Street using a flying wedge formation?  Sure, there was the Nehru Jacket, but you should have seen what Nero was wearing!  Granted, the Civil Rights movement took a lot of gall, but so did Civilis when he led the uprising of Gaul.  Imagine comparing the Grateful Dead to the Dead Sea Scrolls — if I may be so 'blunt.'"

November 28, 2014 (permalink)

Pisa is the capital of leaning towers?  Baloney!

From The Illustrated Universal Gazetteer by William Francis Ainsworth, 1860.

November 19, 2014 (permalink)

The cartels have been maintaining a high level since at least 1884, as we see in The Doctor's Family by Henry Frith.

October 22, 2014 (permalink)

One of the Earl of Sandwich's closest allies was the Earl of Mayo.  From The Land of Temples (India), 1882.

September 15, 2014 (permalink)

"It was Edward ..." but now it's Mister Ed, eh?  From Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen, 1896.

August 14, 2014 (permalink)

Badminton has always been big in Nyangwe. From Across Africa by Verney Lovett Cameron (1885).

July 30, 2014 (permalink)

You've heard of "forced perspective," but we call this unusual effect "horsed perspective."  From Across France in a Caravan by George Nugent Bankes, 1892.

July 20, 2014 (permalink)

This image inspired an additional caption: "Back in my day, even taking a break was miles away."  From Through Connemara in a Governess Cart by Edith Somerville, 1893.

July 4, 2014 (permalink)

The "standard sheet" flag was a revolution against the king-size.  (Our image is from The National Hand-book of American Progress by Erastus Otis Haven, 1876.  The caption reads, "Forever float that standard sheet.")

July 2, 2014 (permalink)

Courtesy of literary scalawag Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:

"My meditation coach and I just couldn't get along. Last week I got really annoyed with him, and yesterday he said he thought it would be best if we terminated the relationship."

"Oh, that's too bad. I hope there weren't any hard feelings."

"Well, I'm not so sure. His last words to me were, 'As you exit this phase of your life, be mindful of the space between the gate into the next part of your journey and that part of yourself which trails behind.'"


"So... I think that translates into, 'Don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.'"

March 22, 2014 (permalink)

The scale here is one inch to one Inch. From Craigmillar and its Environs by Thomas Speedy (1892).  The caption reads: "The Inch house as it was."

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