Tuesday, July 31, 2007


BAYONET, n. An instrument for pricking the bubble of a nation's conceit.

2007 Update: An industrial age emoticon.

Monday, July 30, 2007


BOTANY, n. The science of vegetables — those that are not good to eat, as well as those that are. It deals largely with their flowers, which are commonly badly designed, inartistic in color, and ill-smelling.

2007 Update: The scientific inquiry into the taxonomy, morphology, frequency, distribution, proliferation and cytostructure of foolish metaphors.

Flowers are striking in shade, shape and scent
The redwood awes all those who see.

But most of Earth's plantlife, ninety percent

Is composed of unremarkable algae

Love is a rose, a wood with no rangers

And the vine of human obsession;

While indifferent nods that pass between strangers

Make up most of this planet's affection.
-J. Langston Antimony, Ph.D.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Philosophizing for The Shah

Episode 30 of The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic. Thanks to The Family Recovery Council for this week's reading.

So says Zoroaster.

The Prattler is still stuck.

Read the story by the walls of Babylon

Friday, July 27, 2007


IMAGINATION, n. A warehouse of facts, with poet and liar in joint ownership.

2007 Update: That portion of the mind that petrifies after the leaves of lies and the bark of pretense have been stripped away, leaving a fossil remnant.

Thursday, July 26, 2007


ILLUMINATI, n. A sect of Spanish heretics of the latter part of the sixteenth century; so called because they were light weights — cunctationes illuminati.

2007 Update: The Bavarian contribution to the conspiracies preventing the uneducated, lazy and excessively pious from ruling.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


In each of us there lies a dog,
Biter, barker and wagger;
And each of us contains a cat
Indifferent to our neighbor;
In every soul there flits a fly
That buzzes to annoy;
And a churlish, pink-nosed rat
Lives in every girl and boy.

Our memories are of running free
And hunting on the prairie
Though we spent the time we thus recall
Stock still in the dairy.
We introduce as red-toothed wolves
Whene'er we meet a mouse,
And this is why we love the zoo
But feel awkward in the house.
-Darwin Miyamoto

SEVERAL, adj. Reconsidered.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


ILLUSTRIOUS, adj. Suitably placed for the shafts of malice, envy and detraction.

2007 Update: Prosaic in the popular imagination.

Monday, July 23, 2007


IDLER, n. A model farm where the devil experiments with seeds of new sins and promote the growth of staple vices.

2007 Update: A delegatee.

Happy birthday to Mo'a!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Friend in Pursuit

Episode 29 of The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic. Thanks to this week's reader.

Greek children are to not be heard as well.

This week, the Prattler was struck with a momentary good mood and there will be no post until it passes.

Read the story in Sinope.

Friday, July 20, 2007


WRATH, n. Anger of a superior quality and degree, appropriate to exalted characters and momentous occasions; as, "the wrath of God," "the day of wrath," etc. Amongst the ancients the wrath of kings was deemed sacred, for it could usually command the agency of some god for its fit manifestation, as could also that of a priest. The Greeks before Troy were so harried by Apollo that they jumped out of the frying-pan of the wrath of Cryses into the fire of the wrath of Achilles, though Agamemnon, the sole offender, was neither fried nor roasted. A similar noted immunity was that of David when he incurred the wrath of Yahveh by numbering his people, seventy thousand of whom paid the penalty with their lives. God is now Love, and a director of the census performs his work without apprehension of disaster.

2007 Update: A "hissy" before it has passed.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


WIT, n. The salt with which the American humorist spoils his intellectual cookery by leaving it out.

2007 Update: The whiplike, agile and fast-moving feature of the well-developed mind connected to the hubris. The wit is prominent in dogs who call it wag and prehensile in tree-monkeys who call it grasp.

Happy birthday to Pia. You're still much too far North.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

A Fable

The Poet and the Praying Mantis

Once upon a time, an old poet called Pancho sat at his desk in a small hotel room in Havana, the sole window of which that looked out across a street and upon the sea. He was trying to think of something worthy of inscribing an ode to. Everywhere he cast his mind, to the half-empty bottle of bourbon on his desk or the spry, beautiful and careless young Cuban women who dashed and trilled together like magpies below his window to the political movements that called for peace and sensibility- everything seemed so trite and obvious and temporary. An ode is love that lasts as long as language and needs an object whose beauty is permanent and whose merit is above controversy. The poet deplored to his muse her infidelity, "Oh, send me something to love!"

Just then, a long-bodied bug hopped through the open window and on to the desk. The insect was gold, rather than green, and glowed with a soft light that made the objects on which her light shone suddenly beautiful whether a blank sheet of paper or an unfinished cigarette.

"My mother, Euterpe, to me has commanded
A flight through your window tonight
To answer your prayer, for, as you demanded
A love made from reflections of light,
My heart is immortal, o, write me a poem!
I care for the sick and the felon
My beauty's as fertile as the softest loam
And amusement grows sweet as a melon."

The poet, inspired by the beaming bug, picked up his pen and used it to flick the cricket back through the window. "What the hell rhymes with praying mantis?" he growled into the musky, swirling, tropical night.

Moral: Inspiration is the reflection of consent, beheld in a mirror.

ODE, n. An appreciation of any vessel strong enough to constrain a tortured metaphor, large enough to hold a poet's delusion, and conveniently named.
PRAYING MANTIS, n. One who worships herself in the morning, the grass in the afternoon and the sphinx in the evening. Semi-homophone of graying Francis.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007


WITCH, n. (1) Any ugly and repulsive old woman, in a wicked league with the devil. (2) A beautiful and attractive young woman, in wickedness a league beyond the devil.

2007 Update: A sorceress responsible for, among other things, men turning into apes; enchantments that cause obsession, indifference or distraction in the victim; the levitation of owls; the nocturnal rituals of cats; and, in many cases, profligate drinking, foolish voting and debt.

Merry Christmas in July to The Ice Queen. Alles gut zum geburstag!

Monday, July 16, 2007


WEREWOLF, n. A wolf that was once, or is sometimes, a man. All werewolves are of evil disposition, having assumed a bestial form to gratify a beastial appetite, but some, transformed by sorcery, are as humane and is consistent with an acquired taste for human flesh.

Some Bavarian peasants having caught a wolf one evening, tied it to a post by the tail and went to bed. The next morning nothing was there! Greatly perplexed, they consulted the local priest, who told them that their captive was undoubtedly a werewolf and had resumed its human form during the night. "The next time that you take a wolf," the good man said, "see that you chain it by the leg, and in the morning you will find a Lutheran."

2007 Update: A creature divided between two natures, fictional and toothy, and of the unelected sort.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Friend in Need

Episode 28 of The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic.

To hear the story, maybe try a different approach.

This week in The Prattler, "Standards and Measures."

To read the story, check under Diogenes' tub for the the transcript.

Friday, July 13, 2007


HASH, x. There is no definition for this word--nobody knows what hash is.

2007 Update: n. A petit melange, but with an Arabic etymology and an Irish aesthetic. The name shares its root with HASHISH and ASSASSIN which explains the dish entirely.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


HOUSE, n. A hollow edifice erected for the habitation of man, rat, mouse, beetle, cockroach, fly, mosquito, flea, bacillus and microbe. House of Correction, a place of reward for political and personal service, and for the detention of offenders and appropriations. House of God, a building with a steeple and a mortgage on it. House-dog, a pestilent beast kept on domestic premises to insult persons passing by and appal the hardy visitor. House-maid, a youngerly person of the opposing sex employed to be variously disagreeable and ingeniously unclean in the station in which it has pleased God to place her.

2007 Update: A love more powerful than wanderlust when mortgaged.

There are seven loves a boy will know
Along his life's great curve
Each one, like lye, corrodes the soul
And, like alcohol, preserves.

The first of these is love of kind:
Of mother and father and cousin.
It's milk is milk and does remind
To wash after each stranger he does in.

The second love is love of self,
Learned at the onset of speaking,
Enobling even the commonest whelp
And debasing the neighboring king.

The third affection he will know
Is love of competition.
Whether gifted well to run and throw
Or slander and sedition.

The fourth love is known as romance
And lasts until he's jaded.
It once began at High School Dance
But starts now when he's first graded.

The next we find, if life is kind
Is love of property:
A house, a car, a spouse, his mind.
It's adored that comes unmoored and takes his dignity.

He may yet age and then grow fond
Of rectitude and right;
A pious fish in empty pond,
Bubbling righteous spite.

The love to which man comes at last
Is for silence, even death:
Released from
tales of his past
And recounting of his debt.

-- Omar Kháyyam Boone

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Two Fables

The Elephant and the Orangutan

At the annual conference of the Pan-Phylum Prehensility Society of Southeast Asia, an elephant delivered a much-anticipated keynote address, entitled Magnitude and Manipulation: The Pachyderm Approach. He began by exclaiming "Flexibility is queen of the evolutionary arts! Not only can the elephant's trunk bend in any direction at any point but it handles liquids, solids and gas!" In the second row, an Orangutan drummed on her desk with twenty fingers and toes, and wondered what life would be like with a tail.

PREHENSILE, adj. Adapted for self-expression and theft.

The Two Monks

Once upon a time, two monks named Abba Abercrombie and Abba Nelson crossed paths in the desert, days from any stream or spring. Abba Abercrombie offered Abba Nelson the last of his water. Abba Nelson gratefully drank, and asked Abba Abercrombie how to repay the kindness.

"It is a greater kindness to accept hospitality than to give it. It is I who is in your debt." Abba Abercrombie explained.

"But, if you had been thirsty and I had water would you have taken the last of it?" Abba Nelson inquired, worried that he had left his new friend in jeopardy.

"No, brother," the holy man answered, "for I was taught that where kindness kills, it is better to steal." and he left with the younger monk's food and his debt repaid.

CONSIDERATION, n. The mental manufacture of fellowship and alibi.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


HIBERNATE, v.i. To pass the winter season in domestic seclusion. There have been many singular popular notions about the hibernation of various animals. Many believe that the bear hibernates during the whole winter and subsists by mechanically sucking its paws. It is admitted that it comes out of its retirement in the spring so lean that it had to try twice before it can cast a shadow. Three or four centuries ago, in England, no fact was better attested than that swallows passed the winter months in the mud at the bottom of their brooks, clinging together in globular masses. They have apparently been compelled to give up the custom and account of the foulness of the brooks. Sotus Ecobius discovered in Central Asia a whole nation of people who hibernate. By some investigators, the fasting of Lent is supposed to have been originally a modified form of hibernation, to which the Church gave a religious significance; but this view was strenuously opposed by that eminent authority, Bishop Kip, who did not wish any honors denied to the memory of the Founder of his family.

2007 Update: To conserve one's potential by resting and working.

Monday, July 09, 2007


HALCYON (ALCEDO), n. The Kingfisher. Halcyon days are days of tranquility and calm; so called because fr a few days in the season of storms, when the kingfisher was rearing its young, the gods used to curb the fury of the elements. So at least, the simple ancient was pleased to believe. It was an abominable superstition, altogether beneath contempt, and not at all comparable to the Christian belief that at midnight on Christmas eve the weather is moderated in deference to the birds and beasts which wake at that hour to worship the Savior.

2007 Update: HALCYON, adj. At ease, peaceful, as the life available to someone who has 10% more than you have managed to scrabble together so far.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Bath

Episode 27 of The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic. Thanks to the Nutmeg Endowment for Refugee Development for sponsoring this week's reading.

To hear the story sit still by the waterside.

This week, in The Prattler, "The Last Refuge."

It's rude to read over a flower's shoulder.

Friday, July 06, 2007


REDUNDANT, adj. Superfluous; needless; de trop.
The Sultan said: "There's evidence abundant
To prove this unbelieving dog redundant."
To whom the Grand Vizier, with mien impressive,
Replied: "His head, at least, appears excessive."
—Habeeb Suleiman

Mr. Debs is a redundant citizen.
—Theodore Roosevelt
2007 Update: Redundant.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


RUBBISH, n. Worthless matter, such as the religions, philosophies, literatures, arts and sciences of the tribes infesting the regions lying due south from Borealis.

2007 Update: British garbage or American pretense.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

My Country (Má Vlast)

Millions of people at work, crime and play,
Our interests conflict, sometimes hard.
One man's need for hedges can get in the way
Of observing the next fellow's yard.

We whine and protest and sneer at each other,
Our leaders, our parties, our parents.
We turn to our sisters to turn on our brother
And give glory to outrage and nonsense.

Some say in complaining that loyalty's measured;
Some say in supporting our vermin.
Some would make war before taking pleasure.
Some take pleasure and then give the sermon.

But I's born to this nation, made one under God,
And let my heart always be loyal.
For bigotry's heavy when carried abroad
And home's where the common are royal.

Patriotism has one definition
And has held this one meaning forever:
Whatever the folly, crime or sedition,
To be fools, thieves and scoundrels together.

GROUSE, v.t. To magnify miniscule ills for the greater good, the essential duty of the patriot and the believer.
PETTY, adj. Noble.

Happy Independence Day to all Americans, foreign and domestic.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


REASONABLE, adj. Accessible to the infection of our own opinions. Hospitable to persuasion, dissuasion and evasion.

2007 Update: Possessed by polite demons.

Monday, July 02, 2007


READING, n. The general body of what one reads. In our country it consists, as a rule, of Indiana novels, short stories in "dialect" and humor in slang.
We know by one's reading
His learning and breeding;
By what draws his laughter
We know his Hereafter.
Read nothing, laugh never —
The Sphinx was less clever!
—Jupiter Muke

2007 Update: The balance of what one has read, is to read or claims knowledge of. In essence a combined literary savings and credit account in which the balances connote, rather than material wealth, intellectual authority, moral superiority and the tendency to drink.

I'll be traveling this week so posting times may be less regular than the regular irregularity.