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.
Precursors

Yesterday — July 19, 2018 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Disneyland's Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, in which this style of automobile travels through interiors.  From Lustige Blätter, 1906.
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July 18, 2018 (permalink)

Nearly five decades before Godzilla threatened Tokyo, this ichthyosaurus threatened Heidelberg.  From Lustige Blätter, 1906.
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July 17, 2018 (permalink)

It's nothing new for companies to have contempt for their clientele.  From Lustige Blätter, 1905.
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July 16, 2018 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Charles Pieper's stop-motion film "Eye Contact" (on Vimeo).  From Lustige Blätter, 1914.  
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July 15, 2018 (permalink)

Early attempts to learn How to Be Your Own Cat had mixed results.  We've come a long way.  From Satirikon, 1908.
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Here's a precursor to the spooky clergy of the superb band Ghost.  From Lustige Blätter, 1905.
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July 14, 2018 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Sushi Ramen Riku, who often uses pressurized bottles to propel himself through space.  From Lustige Blätter, 1908.
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July 13, 2018 (permalink)

Shoulder pads go back to cubism.  From Le Journal Amusant, 1911.
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 Here's a precursor to How to Be Your Own Cat.  From Dumskii Al'manakh, 1905.
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July 12, 2018 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the Magic 8-Ball fortune-telling toy of 1950.  Note the triangle in the background, mirroring the shape of the 20 faces of the 8-Ball's inner icosahedron.  From Satirik, 1907.
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July 11, 2018 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to "Duelling Banjos."  From Lustige Blätter, 1906.
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A precurosr to the Lament Configuration puzzle box from Clive Barker's Hellraiser franchise?  From Lustige Blätter, 1901.
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Here's a precursor to Sushi Ramen Riku jumping into his clothes.  From L'Album Comique de la Famille, 1902.
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A 1912 prediction for 1960.  Eerily accurate!  From The Judge.
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July 10, 2018 (permalink)

Long before the "me too" movement, Beelzebub wrote a book called I Too in 1856.
Speaking of the Devil and good grammar, Fernando Pessoa included this marvelous passage in his Book of Disquiet.  He refers to occult writers:
What really shocks me is how these wizards and masters of the invisible, when they write to communicate or intimate their mysteries, all write abominably. It offends my intelligence that a man can master the Devil without being able to master the Portuguese language. Why should dealing with demons be easier than dealing with grammar? If through long exercises of concentration and will power one can have so-called astral visions, why can’t the same person — applying considerably less concentration and willpower — have a vision of syntax? What is there in the teachings and rituals of the Magic Arts that prevents their adherents from writing — I won’t say with clarity, since obscurity may be part of the occult law — but at least with elegance and fluency, which can exist in the sphere of the abstruse? Why should all the soul’s energy be spent studying the language of the Gods, without a pittance left over to study the colour and rhythm of the language of men?
And speaking of Pessoa, here's our 59-second explanation of his mindfulness meditation for making a reality of your imagination.
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July 7, 2018 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to M. C. Escher.  From Lustige Blätter, 1902.
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July 6, 2018 (permalink)

The game of redressing the Mona Lisa is almost as old as the great lady herself.  This one is from L'Assiette au Beurre, 1902.
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July 5, 2018 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the Coneheads from Saturday Night Live.  From L'Album Comique de la Famille, 1902.  Previously, we saw this other surprising precursor to the Coneheads.
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July 2, 2018 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the running gag of referring to Google as "Something" in Arrested Development (because Google wouldn't give the show permission to refer to its tradename).  In Jasper Fforde's The Well of Lost Plots, there's a mega-corporation analogous to Google, called Goliath.  At one point, it's referred to as "the Something Company."
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June 27, 2018 (permalink)

Before the blue pull of Matrix fame, there was a blue syringe.  From Kladderadatsch, 1942.
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Original Content Copyright © 2018 by Craig Conley. All rights reserved.