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.

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."

August 11, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the German concept of the welfare state (Sozialstaat, coined in 1870), from The Upper Rhine by Henry Mayhew, 1858.

August 7, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the macabre orgy scene in The Loved One (1965) from The Cat of Bubastes by George Alfred Henty, 1896.

August 4, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Stephen Fry's "tremulously at first and then with mounting heat and passion."  The caption reads, "slow and timid at first, but quicker and firmer presently."  From Jacques Hamon or Sir Philip's Private Messenger by Mary Emily Ropes, 1896.  [For Jonathan Caws-Elwitt.]

August 3, 2014 (permalink)

Swirling mist is a precursor to the Hollywood cliché of the camera circling two people kissing.  From Mr. Midshipman Easy by Frederick Marryat, 1896.

August 2, 2014 (permalink)

Here's the original 'Twinkle Toes.' From Plain or Ringlets by Robert Smith Surtees (1892).  The caption reads: "Prince Pirouetteza."

August 1, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the deadly salmon mousse in Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, from Humorous Poems by Thomas Hood (1893).  The caption reads: "Don't sup on that 'ere Cod."

July 29, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Heather Has Two Mommies (1989): Two Mothers of One by Roof Roofer a.k.a. Rufus Randell, 1896.

July 28, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to how literally now means figuratively, from Doctor Nikola by Guy Newell Boothby (1896).  The caption reads: "We literally flew."

July 18, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the German band Nena's song "Neunundneunzig Luftballons" (99 Red Balloons), from La Vie des Boulevards by Georges Montorgueil (1896).

July 15, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Winnie the Pooh getting stuck in a honey pot, from The Camp Fires of the Everglades by Charles Edward Whitehead (1891).

For fans of the game Clue/Cluedo, here's a precursor to "Col. Mustard in the drawing room with the candle stick," from Illustrated Penny Tales From the Strand Library, 1894.

July 9, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Menke Katz's line about how "Even time is tired here of night and day" ("Old Manhattan," Rockrose, 1970).  This tired Father Time appears in Illustrated Poems and Songs for Young People, edited by Lucy Sale Barker, 1885.

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