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.

Today — July 4, 2015 (permalink)

Two decades before Marcel Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase there was, of course, a prude descending a staircase, as we see in Thrilling Life Stories for the Masses, 1892.

This 1820 cartoon about liberty being shot down is rather deeper than its simplicity would suggest.  From The Man in the Moon, 1820.

Yesterday — July 3, 2015 (permalink)

Lest anyone think the idea of a "silver fox" was newfangled: "He's so very foxy."  From Love Lyrics and Valentine Verses by E. M. Davies, 1875.

Here's a precursor to the "Tears in Rain" soliloquy in the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner, from The Sirens Three, written and illustrated by Walter Crane, 1886.

July 2, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precusor to Edith Wharton's "be the candle or the mirror that reflects it" (1908), from Light: A Course of Experimental Optics, Chiefly with the Lantern by Lewis Wright, 1882.

June 30, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a peek into life before Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head.  From Imprisoned in a Spanish Convent by Eustace Clare Grenville Murray, 1886.

June 29, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the Pillsbury Doughboy, 57 years before his television debut.  From Ye Butcher, Ye Baker, Ye Candlestick-Maker by Robert Seaver, 1908.

June 28, 2015 (permalink)

Ceylon (Sri Lanka) is a precursor to paisley.

June 27, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to a lyric in "Esperantolando" by Ken Clinger and Herr Purpur (from the album KCollab.01): "Speaking with a carrot, the carrot answers 'no.'"  In this earlier variety, the carrot answers, "Certainly."  From The Land of Ram by H. Rose, 1890.  (By the way, we've collaborated with Ken on songs and even entire albums for nearly two decades, and it still stings just a little that the creators of the Ken Clinger tribute album, Till Next, didn't ask us to contribute.  No matter how exclusive any circle, that circle is actually a cone with echelons.  One cannot reach the uppermost echelons without shutting others out.  And so we take some comfort — if our exclusion made someone else feel that much more elite, then how could we begrudge?  Technically, our last 17 years have been an expansive, elaborate Ken Clinger tribute, and the thought of somehow "containing" our appreciation for him on a single disc is frankly too small-minded for us to comprehend.)

June 26, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to N. F. Simpson's brilliant satire Was He Anyone, from A Princess of Chalco by Alfred Henry Wall, 1892.

June 22, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to "photobombing," in which a stray figure on the left pulls focus from what is Through the Eye of a Needle (by L. Trelyven Creole, 1892).

June 19, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the "hundredth monkey effect" (not to be confused with the infinite monkey theorem), from St. Nicholas magazine, 1904.

June 16, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Harpo Marx under the bed in 1929's The Cocoanuts, from Too Clever by Half by John Lang, 1878.

Here's a precursor to Citizen Kane.  The caption reads, "It was only when he had opened the door that he realized what he had lost in his broken Rosebud."  From Thrilling Life Stories for the Masses, 1892.

June 15, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the haunted bendy door in Disneyland's Haunted Mansion, from Ladies' Home Journal, 1948.

June 13, 2015 (permalink)

The old foot-stuck-in-a-seashell gag (though it's a Googlewhack!), from St. Nicholas magazine, 1904.

June 12, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Ruth Tearle's affirmation that "Every bubble has a different personality" (Blackboards Bubbles & Cappuccinos, 2005), from St. Nicholas magazine, 1910.

Limping along on credit, from The Man in the Moon, 1820.

June 8, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to advice columnist Dear Abby, from The Boy-God by Edward Melville Lynch, 1892.

June 6, 2015 (permalink)

The first definition of a fractal is credited to Karl Weierstrass in 1872, but that didn't stop the builders of York Castle's tower in the early thirteenth century.  Our proof appears in The Martial Annals of the City of York by Caesar Caine, 1893.

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