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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Did You Hear the One I Just Made Up?

June 9, 2015 (permalink)

Here's what books looked like before the "Me generation."  From 1893.

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June 7, 2015 (permalink)

Traditional math aside, Goldilocks had forebears.

Also ...

Even before Darwin, everyone had forebears.

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May 22, 2015 (permalink)

People think, "T & A.  Ooh la la!"  But they have ups and downs like all of us, and the reality is that it's long hours and hard work.  Our illustration is from Lower Eatington: Its Manor House and Church, 1880.

#vintage illustration #anthropomorphism #art #letters #t and a #alphabet people
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May 20, 2015 (permalink)

Q: How is a jack-in-the-box like Norma Desmond?

A: They're both still big; it's the pictures that got small.

#vintage illustration #christmas #art #clown #harlequin #jack in the box
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May 19, 2015 (permalink)

We presume that gun is a "repeater."  From Whims and Oddities in Prose and Verse by Thomas Hood, 1829.  The caption reads, "Very deaf, indeed."
#vintage illustration #art #deafness #ear trumpet
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April 20, 2015 (permalink)

Literary Sandwiches  (for June, inspired by Jonathan Caws-Elwitt)

The Henry James: juxtaposes Old World cheeses (corrupt and alluring) with New World heirloom tomatoes.  The sandwich is presented brashly open and facing abuse.  It is served with its ghost-doppelganger (not shown) so as to nurture alternate American and European lives.  The sandwich comes with suspicions that it is gay.

The William James: so enormous that diners may, through free will, request an abridged serving.  The William James asks, do we run from an enormous sandwich because we are afraid, or are we afraid because we run?  (Spoiler: we are afraid because we run.)  Note that only the sandwich's material self is provided; the social self, spiritual self, and pure ego are available with our other self-service condiments.

The Alice James: for those knowing neither hope nor peace, this sandwich invites you to "abandon the pit of your stomach" in the struggle between the body of this meal and your moral power.  This is a sandwich you'll write about in your diary.

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April 3, 2015 (permalink)

When we encountered this line, "My Diet Coke tasted like it'd fallen off the back of a very old truck," we recalled the failed ad campaign: "Have a Coke and a simile."

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April 1, 2015 (permalink)

We say that "apples and oranges" can't be expressed as a ratio, and that's because mathematics is citrus-based and prejudiced against apples.  Note that "tangerine" and "tangent" share the same Latin source, "tangere" ("touching"); "satsumas" and "summations" are derived from the Latin "summa" ("highest"); "lemons" and "lemniscates" both come from the ancient Greek island of Lemnos.  It's worth pondering ("ponder" has the same Latin root as the Ponderosa lemon ["weigh"]) just how Ugli the citrus bias is, my little Clementine.

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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

#vintage illustration #art #court fool #buffoon
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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.
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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.
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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).

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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.

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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.

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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.
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December 11, 2014 (permalink)

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

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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.
#vintage illustration #art #camel
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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.'"

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November 28, 2014 (permalink)

Pisa is the capital of leaning towers?  Baloney!

From The Illustrated Universal Gazetteer by William Francis Ainsworth, 1860.
#vintage illustration #art #Bologna #leaning tower
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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.
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Original Content Copyright © 2018 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.