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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Restoring the Lost Sense

April 1, 2014 (permalink)

An illustration from an 1887 issue of Frank Leslie's Pleasant Hours magazine.  The caption reads: "I endeavored to command speech, but something in the cold statuesque form froze every faculty."

An illustration from a 1903 issue of The Lady's Realm magazine.  The caption reads: "'I have come,' it said, 'and I was once great.'"

March 31, 2014 (permalink)

The levitation of Amedeo Zuccarini of Bologna during a scientifically investigated seance, from The Annals of Psychical Science, vol. 6 (1907).

March 30, 2014 (permalink)

"So many rows done, so many to be done—ah! Yes, 'tis March 30." From Cured by an Incurable by Philip Bennett Power and illustrated by Edmund Fitzpatrick, 1888.

"The Comet and the Glowworm": an illustration from an 1874 issue of The Quiver magazine.

March 29, 2014 (permalink)

An illustration from The Tomahawk (August 31, 1867).

March 28, 2014 (permalink)

Our illustration could (but doesn't) accompany this line:

"[T]he hazards of scholarship and mortality: he was overwhelmed by the weight of documentation, by his own erudition, by overambition." —Mark Goldie, "Roger Morrice and the History of Puritanism," Religious Identities in Britain, 1660-1832

Note the detail of who is behind the accident.  From Monographien Zur Deutschen Kulturgeschichte by Georg Steinhausen, 1899.

March 27, 2014 (permalink)

An illustration from an 1890 issue of The Quiver magazine.  The caption reads: "There was nothing—nothing there!"

An illustration from an 1889 issue of The Quiver magazine.  The caption reads: "The Doctor read with all his eyes."

An illustration from a 1907 issue of The Reader magazine.  The caption reads: "'Your dope is some wrong,' said the shade. 'Did you ever hear that every person had two minds?'"

J. asks, "How in the world did that 1907 illustrator manage to conjure a shade from some postwar noir/spaghetti western film??"

March 26, 2014 (permalink)

An illustration from an 1887 issue of Frank Leslie's Pleasant Hours magazine.  The caption reads: "The sexton's ghost.—'He saw something move.  It was a tall figure, and it tottered weakly toward the gate on which he leaned."

March 25, 2014 (permalink)

An illustration from The Annals of Psychical Science, vol. 7 (1908).  The caption reads: "Giving heed to seducing spirits."

An illustration from a 1900 issue of The Lady's Realm magazine.

March 24, 2014 (permalink)

An illustration from Confessions of a Medium (1882).  The caption reads: "In the circle. The medium at work."

An illustration by Pamela Coleman Smith from a 1903 issue of The Reader magazine.  The caption reads: "Led on by courage and death with sorrow at his feet."

March 23, 2014 (permalink)

An illustration from Merriment and Mirth for Merry Little People (1889).  The caption reads: "For the owl and cats and I all grew larger every minute."

An illustration from an 1887 issue of Frank Leslie's Pleasant Hours magazine.  The caption reads: "Now a weird sight presented itself."

An illustration from an 1879 issue of Arthur's Home magazine.

March 22, 2014 (permalink)

[For Clint Marsh.]  Telling the time by puffing on a dandelion from Arthur's Home Magazine (1863).  The caption reads: "The Dandelion Clock."

March 19, 2014 (permalink)

An illustration from an 1887 issue of Frank Leslie's Pleasant Hours magazine.

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