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.

September 19, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Antiques Roadshow, from A Tramp Abroad, Etc. by Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1897.

September 18, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the 1920's idiom 'down for the count,' from The Jorrocks Edition by Robert Smith Surtees (1892).  The caption reads: "The countess was down."

September 14, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the puppet that lives within us all, from Modern Magic by Professor Hoffmann, 1885.

September 12, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the Swedish band The Mourning Mosquitoes, from Ellington 1918.

Here's a precursor to James and the Giant Peach, from The Oxford Thackeray.

September 10, 2014 (permalink)

This 1884 illustration from Dicks' English Library of Standard Works is a precursor to Freud's 1895 discovery of 'anxiety neurosis' syndrome or 'stage fright.'"  The caption reads: "My performance will be a failure."

September 7, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Arrested Development's Lucille and Buster on the cover of the Balboa Bay Window, from St. Nicholas, 1873.

September 6, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to shadow puppetry, from The Art of Projecting by Amos Emerson Dolbear, 1877.

September 5, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the dancing ostriches in Walt Disney's Fantasia, from St. Nicholas magazine, 1873.  We've previously noted precursors to Fantasia's glamorous hippos and the sorcerer's apprentice's enchanted broomsticks.

September 4, 2014 (permalink)

Two years before the birth of the Elephant Man, we find the Elephantine Brothers.  From The Timely Retreat by Rosalind Harriet Dunlop, 1858.

September 3, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Cat People, from Travels in Africa During the Years 1875-1878 by Wilhelm Junker (1890).  The caption reads: "A leopard in our bedroom."

Here's a precursor to Number Six and the iconic penny farthing of the cult television series The Prisoner.  From Two Trips to the Emerald Isle by 'Faed' (1888).  The caption reads: "Decimal Six."

August 31, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to The Lady Is a Tramp (1937), from The Tragedy of Ida Noble by William Clark Russell (1893).  The caption reads: "The lady was insensible."

August 23, 2014 (permalink)

In 1894, nickel beer was actually $1.37, adjusted for inflation.  From Bill Nye's History of the United States.  The caption reads: "Where beer was only five cents per glass."

August 21, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the "Name that Kitchen Utensil" game, from 1895.  The caption reads: "'Butter cooler,' I observe."

August 18, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the "EAT MOR CHIKIN" cows of Chick-fil-A billboards.  The caption reads, "The More Pork bird."  From Adventures of a Gold-Digger by John Sherer, 1856.

This caption, "He did not give me time to feel frightened," recalls the movie gimmick king, William Castle, who might have promised horrors filmed "faster than the speed of fright."  From Jenny Jones and Jenny by William Edwards Tirebuck, 1896.

Here's a precursor to the film The Science of Sleep, from A String of Chinese Peach Stones by William Arthur Cornaby (1895).

August 13, 2014 (permalink)

There's some small comfort in the knowledge that people have been feeling 'out of it' since at least 1889.  Illustration from Neighbours by Mrs. Molesworth (1889).  The caption reads: "She and Cathie sat in a corner beside Lavinia feeling 'out of it.'"

Fans of William Burroughs' Naked Lunch will recognize this as a precursor. From The Simple Adventures of a Memsahib by Sara Duncan (1893).  The caption reads: "It's just the place for centipedes."

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