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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Loves Me? Loves Me Not?
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A Fine Line Between...
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A Turkish Delight of musings on languages, deflations of metaphysics, vauntings of arcana, and great visual humor.

January 25, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Arrested Development's Tobias wondering what his daughter is thinking.  The subtitle reads, "She lives her life, and I get the pleasure of guessing what that might entail."  The precursor appears in The Lady's Manor by Emma Marshall, 1896.  Its caption reads, "What is my little girl thinking about?"

January 21, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Reeves and Mortimer's "Tiny Hands" sketch, from Thrilling Life Stories for the Masses, 1892.

January 20, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Sluggo's levitating hat, from The Up-to-Date Primer by John Wilson Bengough, 1896.

January 18, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Mount Rushmore, from Walt Mason: His Book, 1916.  The caption reads, "Like some lone mountain in the starry night."

January 17, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Flat Stanley, from Blasts from The Ram's Horn, 1902.

January 15, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to Escheresque architecture, from Geschichte Oesterreichs by Alexander Patuzzi, 1862 (thirty-six years before Escher was born).

Here's a precursor to Chloe Meakin's poem "How I Came to Hate Bungalows," from Other Countries by William Morrison Bell, 1872.

January 11, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to TED Talks.  The caption reads, "The living hand on the screen, shown during the course of a lecture delivered by Henry Morton at the Academy of Music, New York, February 3, 1871."  From Morton Memorial by Franklin De Ronde Furman, 1905.

January 10, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the "great dorg" of a film Mannequin (1987), from The Tinted Venus by J. Bernard Partridge, 1898.  The caption reads, "'It is a miserable thing,' he was thinking, 'for a man to have a female statue trotting after him like a great dorg.'"

January 9, 2015 (permalink)

Fifty years before Phil Spector invented the "Wall of Sound," there was the sphere of sound, as we see in this illustration from the magazine Crisis, 1910.

January 7, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to David Copperfield's illusion of walking through the Great Wall of China, from Shrewsbury by Stanley John Weyman, 1898.  The caption reads, "In an instant I was on the other side of the fence."

January 6, 2015 (permalink)

♪ ♫  Tale as old as time
True as it can be
Barely even friends
Then somebody bends
Unexpectedly  ♪ ♫  

From Eric Brighteyes by Henry Rider Haggard, 1893.

January 3, 2015 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the winged monkeys in The Wizard of Oz, from an ad in the back of the novel A Woman with a History by Weedon Grossmith (1896).

January 2, 2015 (permalink)

This precursor to Mary Poppins appears in Fra Det Moderne Frankrig by Richard Kaufmann, 1882.

December 28, 2014 (permalink)

"Keep on keeping on": We can do a bit better than Cassell's Dictionary of Slang, which traces that phrase back to the 1910s.  Consider Charles Haddon Spurgeon back in 1888: "I spoke about the difficulty of keeping on.  'Yes,' answered my friend, 'and it is harder still to keep on keeping on'" (Spurgeon's Gold: New Selections from the Works of C. H. Spurgeon, p. 30).

Here's a precursor to James and the Giant Peach, from The Child World by Gabriel Setoun, 1896.

December 27, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to a Peter Lorre caricature, from The Farm Poultry, 1907.  (Peter would have been just three years old at the time.)

December 24, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus" -- the proposal occurred 52 years earlier, as we see in the Daily Colonist, 1900.

December 23, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to 'We are all Santa' and 'Your face here,' from Some Account of Colton and of the De Wasteney's Family by Frederick Perrot Parker (1897).  The caption reads: "St. Nicholas."

December 21, 2014 (permalink)

Here's a precursor to the space-folding "Holtzman Effect" from Frank Herbert's Dune universe (1965), as seen in Jeanne d'Arc et la Normandie au XVme Siècle by Albert Sarrazin, 1896.

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