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 — November 26, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the phenomenon of Google Books scanners' accidental hand photos, from The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 1874.

Here's a precursor to the maxim that "it is better to look good than to feel good," from The Oxford Thackeray.  The caption reads, "And upon me honour and conshience, now I'm dthressed, but I look intirely ginteel."

November 24, 2014 (permalink)

You've heard of "throwing someone to the wolves," but did you know the practice was a precursor to Daylight Savings?  The caption reads, "Threw them to the wolves to gain time."  From A Boyar of the Terrible by Frederick J. Whishaw, 1896.

Here's a precursor to Sylvia Plath's The Bell Jar (1963), from Poets' Wit and Humour by William Henry Wills, 1882.

November 18, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Bewitched, as if Tabitha's future grandchild were speaking:

On Monday next comes All-Hallows-Even,
My grandmother's maiden name was Stephens.

Here's a vintage example of the idiom "you'll eat your words," from Young Americans in Japan by Edward Greey, 1882.

November 17, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a rare view of the backside of a halo, or perhaps a precursor to Margaret Atwood's "halo in reverse" (Lady Oracle, 1987), from Im Reiche des Aeolus by Adolph von Pereira, 1883.

November 12, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to our world of misinformation, from Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain.

November 11, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the Teletubbies, from a camera advertisement in The Pharmaceutical Era, 1887.

Here's a precursor to Australian absurdist pantomime performer Grahame Bond (of "Aunty Jack" fame), from A Series of Original Portraits and Caricature Etchings by John Kay, 1877.

November 10, 2014 (permalink)

The idiom "wearing two [or many] hats" has been traced back to the Civil Service in 1950s England, though we know it actually goes back at least to 1884's A History of the Cries of London, Ancient and Modern by Charles Hindley.

November 8, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to The Fly, from Poets' Wit and Humour by William Henry Wills, 1882.

November 7, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to that Fawlty Towers scene about life in California: "You can swim and sunbathe, and then after lunch, drive up into the mountains and ski."  From Roughing It by Mark Twain.

November 6, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Meher Baba's "Don't worry, be happy," from Southerly Busters by Ironbark, 1878.

November 4, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the "Be Our Guest" segment of Disney's Beauty and the Beast, from Poets' Wit and Humour by William Henry Wills, 1882.

November 3, 2014 (permalink)

Beachcomber's By the Way (1931) predicts a religion called "Gaga, Ltd. (see also Neo-Cretinism)," which "rejects belief in sin or hope" and in which "all things exist only in so far as they are self-conscious."

October 28, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the hot topic of immigration reform, from Face to Face with the Mexicans by Fanny Chambers Gooch (1890).  The caption reads: "Your American customs are too hard on me."

October 24, 2014 (permalink)

October 23, 2014 (permalink)

Here's time lord Gene Wilder as he appeared in Felttogene, 1848, 49, 50 by Vilhelm Holst, 1852.

October 20, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Batman's residence at Stately Wayne Manor.  From Victoria and its Metropolis Past and Present by Alexander Sutherland (1888).  The caption reads: "Batman's dwelling on the Yarra."

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