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.
Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up?

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?

"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."



March 17, 2014 (permalink)

"He devoted himself to Syndey ..." (reads the caption to this illustration from The Quiver, 1886).

"... While she held her Perth" (we add).



February 26, 2014 (permalink)

We enjoyed mapping out a fun Jonathan Caws-Elwitt bit.



 
The caption reads:
"Really?? How did you arrive at that conclusion?"
"Well, I was coming from Premise Point, so I took Logic Boulevard and then made a sharp deduction. Then I went straight on Reasoning Avenue until I came to another clearly marked deduction. But if you're coming from Hypothesis Heights, you can also get there via the Experience Loop: just follow it around the perimeter of Empirical Square for a while, then take the first right induction after your evidence tank reads 'full.'" —Jonathan Caws-Elwitt


We call this one "Beverly Hills 1902-One-Oh."  The caption reads, "You are the little brown lady who comes so constantly to my house."  It appears in The English Illustrated Magazine, 1902.



February 12, 2014 (permalink)

You've heard that a horse was a Roman senator, but did you know a buffalo was the earl of Southesk?


From The Camp-fires of the Everglades; or, Wild Sports in the South by Charles Edward Whitehead, 1891.

January 28, 2014 (permalink)

Q: How do the eponymous Cat People escape being caged?

A: They break the fourth wall.  (See our still from the 1982 film.)

January 10, 2014 (permalink)

From literary scalawag Jonathan Caws-Elwitt:

There was a precocious young zebra,
Who was second to none in cerebra.
She read Plato, con brio,
With Venus in Leo,
And Leibniz when Mars was in Libra.




November 12, 2013 (permalink)

I have a pronounced Adam's apple.  It's pronounced "'adəms ˈapəl."

November 1, 2013 (permalink)

The proverbial "elephant in the room" hasn't been seen since Houdini's untimely death.

By the way, we did some digging and verified that every elephant in the room is descended from the Maharaja's beloved "Raj" (of "Five Blind Men and an Elephant" fame).  It's surprisingly little-known that the Maharaja also cherished an 800-pound gorilla.

September 29, 2013 (permalink)

Librarians have acquired tastes.  (That's a Googlewhack, but surely the joke's been done?)

(Thanks to New Hampshire's Keene Public Library for acquiring our Tarot of Portmeirion.  We can hardly imagine a lovelier home for the deck than a Victorian mansion!)


The Keene Public Library occupies a Second Empire mansion built c. 1869 by Henry Colony.

September 24, 2013 (permalink)

Jonathan Caws-Elwitt, acclaimed for tirelessly demonstrating an effervescent mastery of the agreeably diverting traditions, offers this quip:

At first glance, I could've sworn that one island off the coast of Alaska had the shape of an eight-limbed cephalopod... but it was just an octopal Aleutian.

[No man is an island: we picture below an octopal Aleutian.]



August 7, 2013 (permalink)

We call this one "O.C.D. MDCCCLXXXIII."  The caption reads, "They opened every folded paper they could find."  (The Leisure Hour from — you guessed it — 1883.)



July 14, 2013 (permalink)

A woman named Lauren Ibsen Dolores serves as a placeholder at Latin festivals.



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