Friday, November 30, 2007


EFFECT, n. The second of two phenomena which always occur together in the same order. The first, called a Cause, is said to generate the other — which is no more sensible than it would be for one who has never seen a dog except in the pursuit of a rabbit to declare the rabbit the cause of a dog.

2007 Update:  The neighbor's contribution to events.

Happy Birthday to my blogmama and a little lately to our favorite raven!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


EXONERATE, v.t. To show that from a series of vices and crimes some particular crime or vice was accidentally omitted.

2007 Update:  To restore the accused to suspicion.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


A Senator and protegé
Were sitting in the park one day.
The old man's speech was topical
(Cigars made him philosophical.)
"My boy," the Senator proceeded
"I'll tell you how my work succeeded.
I worried for the working folk,
The jobs and wages for which I spoke
That were snuck out of our nation
Against the tide of immigration:"
Compassion for the common, see,
Bought me my nobility."

"Isn't competition good?" the lad replied
"For consumers and the worker's pride?"

"You miss the point," the elder scolded,
"To injury, we are beholded
Not to effort, nor to fortune
Nor to progress for our portion
But to the restless, troubled mob
That gives the Senator his job
Convince them that they have been cheated
And you'll never be defeated
Persuade them they've been robbed of pleasure,
And they'll buy your sympathy with treasure.

POPULISM, n.  The theory that the people are gullible, vulnerable, inferior and foolish and so must be sovereign.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007



A transient, horrible, fantastic dream,
Wherein is nothing yet all things do seem:
From which we're wakened by a friendly nudge
Of our bedfellow Death, and cry: "O fudge!"

2007 Update: Rusted eternity.

"To be or not to be?" asked he,
Answered the Danish ghosts' lobby:
"Living is without holiday,
To the dead being is more of a hobby."

Monday, November 26, 2007


EDIBLE, adj.  Good to eat and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man and, a man to a worm.

2007 Update:  Bad to eat and unwholesome to digest.  Slow-moving.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part VI

Because A Thousand and One Nights Are Never Enough

To hear the story, listen to the voice of the desert

To read the story, read the signs left by four and twenty black birds.

"The Beowulf of Wedding Planning" -Actonbell

Friday, November 23, 2007


ACHE, v.i.  To act like the tomb of a cucumber.

2007 Update:  To suffer and discover ambition, or recover from the same.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


ABSTAINER, n.  A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.  A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.
Said a man to a crapulent youth ; "I thought
You a total abstainer, my son."
"So I am, so I am," said the scapegrace caught-
"But not, sir, a bigoted one."
2007 Update: A good shepherd or a bad host.   A temptation for the epicurean.  See also: TEETOTALER.

Happy Thanksgiving and Blessed Indulgences
May the pious at your table choke on the wishbone

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


The calendar dictates that now is the time
To give thanks for life and its boons,
Such as clemency granted for some of our crimes,
And to pray that the others aren't discovered soon.

With family and friends, of whom we've spoken ill,
We gather at the table over bottle and hymn.
In fellowship, fondness, with pie on the sill,
We rejoice at the levity of the old hangman's limb.

For though we be rats, shrews, groundhogs or moles;
In our conduct, craven, cowardly and foul;
The aroma of yams now filling our holes
Blinds us to the shadow that's cast by the owl.

Just because we're petty, jealous and hateful
Doesn't have to mean we're ungrateful.
So tomorrow, give thanks for the good things you've found
Among all those you coveted all year around.

GRATEFUL, adj. In the first flush of future resentment.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


ALL, n.  Every single cent-except what you have kept out for yourself.

2007 Update:  Those in agreement.

1977 Update: Bud.

Monday, November 19, 2007


ADMONITION, n. Gentle reproof, as with a meat-axe. Friendly warning.
Consigned, by way of admonition,
His soul forever to perdition.
-                                                Judibras
2007 Update:  A fixative tic.  

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part V

Because A Thousand and One Nights Are Never Enough

To hear the story, listen to the trees.

To read the story, come to the mountains of Bactria.

A note on sound. I f the audio doesn't play, try a different browser. For some reason I can't play it in Safari but can in firefox. Weird, huh? Alchemy?

Friday, November 16, 2007


SMITHAREEN, n.  A fragment, a decomponent part, a remain. The word is used variously, but in the following verse on a noted female reformer who opposed bicycle-riding by women because it "led them to the devil" it is seen at its best:

The wheels go round without a sound —
The maidens hold high revel;
In sinful mood, insanely gay,
True spinsters spin adown the way
From duty to the devil!
They laugh, they sing, and — ting-a-ling!
Their bells go all the morning;
Their lanterns bright bestar the night
Pedestrians a-warning.
With lifted hands Miss Charlotte stands,
Good-Lording and O-mying,
Her rheumatism forgotten quite,
Her fat with anger frying.
She blocks the path that leads to wrath,
Jack Satan's power defying.
The wheels go round without a sound
The lights burn red and blue and green.
What's this that's found upon the ground?
Poor Charlotte Smith's a smithareen!

—John William Yope

2007 Update:  The first part that lasts, often, pride of purpose.

A high mountain once featured
The three holy creatures:
Courage, Wisdom and Piety climbing
Courage braved the fierce wind
Wisdom found strength within
And Piety fought the cold whining.

Halfway to the summit, the spirits' paths met
With half the day before the sun would set
Piety, the prince, said, offering to lead,
"Ascent is my vocation
If you seek elevation
Get behind, follow and keep up with me.

But Wisdom, the true, did proclaim
"Fate under her own name
Must have brought us as one to this trial
It should be good karma
And a little bit warmer
To be comrades as we face the last mile.

Courage, the mighty, had gone on ahead
And in a gallant voice, said,
As he looked down below at the plummet,
"Here among the fast winds
You two surely fit in
Will there be this much talk at the summit?"

The three never saw the top
For progress there stopped
As battle tore the three from the side
If you climb those same heights
You can hear on still nights
The laugh of their smithereen, Pride.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Scrap Book

SCRAP-BOOK, n. A book that is commonly edited by a fool. Many persons of some small distinction compile scrap-books containing whatever they happen to read about themselves or employ others to collect. One of these egotists was addressed in the lines following, by Agamemnon Melancthon Peters:

Dear Frank, that scrap-book where you boast
You keep a record true
Of every kind of peppered roast
That's made of you;

Wherein you paste the printed gibes
That revel round your name,
Thinking the laughter of the scribes
Attests your fame;

Where all the pictures you arrange
That comic pencils trace —
Your funny figure and your strange
Semitic face —

Pray lend it me. Wit I have not,
Nor art, but there I'll list
The daily drubbings you'd have got
Had God a fist.

2007 Update:  History as written by the losers.  A collection of misrepresentations, pieties, cherished irrelevancies, leaves of odd paper and assorted detritus gathered to answer future inquiries as to who, while begging the question why.  A blog manifest.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


One old cowboy was out one day driving a herd
With his boss, boss's son and dog named Dale.
The crew and kine moved, without moo, bark or word,
Easy, somber and slow down the trail.

A few dark clouds gathered and a chill filled the air
And the old cowboy pulled tight his serape.
The foreman pulled his hat low on his hair
But the young feller yelled at his pappy.

"I ain't paid for this crap and won't ride in a cyclone!"
Though no drops yet smote critter nor cowhand.
"We'll all die from lightning, damp butt and cold bone,
Or from drowning here, miles from plowed land."

The foreman said "Son..." but the boy kept on cussing
And Dale yipped for agreement or fun.
Coyotes yelped back, and the cows started fussing,
'Til some choice words put them to the run.

The trail was a tempest, though rain never came down,
The foreman was kilt trying to turn the stampede.
The boy fired his pistol trying to reach dad on the ground
'Til a bad shot dropped him from his steed.

Dale found a new home where they preach the LORD's glory,
And tend to his comfort and spirit.
The old man's still riding and telling this story
And it's funnier each time you hear it.

A line was cut off, a cowherd was lost, 
There's a lesson, if you're willing to barter:
Pour me some whiskey, and I'll tally the cost
Of mist on the cheek of a martyr.

STAMPEDE, n.  The disagreeable in harmony.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


SAW, n. A trite popular saying, or proverb. (Figurative and colloquial.) So called because it makes its way into a wooden head. Following are examples of old saws fitted with new teeth.

A penny saved is a penny to squander.

A man is known by the company that he organizes.

A bad workman quarrels with the man who calls him that.

A bird in the hand is worth what it will bring.

Better late than before anybody has invited you.

Example is better than following it.

Half a loaf is better than a whole one if there is much else.

Think twice before you speak to a friend in need.

What is worth doing is worth the trouble of asking somebody to do it.

Least said is soonest disavowed.

He laughs best who laughs least.

Speak of the Devil and he will hear about it.

Of two evils choose to be the least.

Strike while your employer has a big contract.

Where there's a will there's a won't.

2007 Update:  A piece of evidence that while wisdom is native to the elderly, folly is eternal.  A fruit that ripened in the first garden which modernity cans for spread.

If time were a cloth to be stitched with delay,
And a penny in a pocket didn't rust or decay
And misfortune avoided those seeking self-help
And good fences raised properly my neighbor's whelp
Then we'd lay down our weapons and let slip our tools
And stare all day at the aged as leaders, not fools.
-Emil Gam

Monday, November 12, 2007


SHAFT, n. A cylindrical emptiness, which swallows much and vomits little. (See VIRGINIA CITY.)

2007 Update: The grave of a man whose longevity exceeds his ambition.

Thank you and happy Veteran's Day Holiday to those of you who served (including but not limited to lesbians and atheists;) Happy belated Armistice Day to the peacemakers; Alla'u'bah and happy Baha'u'llah's birthday to my Baha'i friends. And to the Bokononists among us, a good day.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part IV

Because A Thousand and One Nights Are Never Enough

To hear the story,listen to the old woman.

To read the story, look in the plant book of legend.

Friday, November 09, 2007


PERICARDIUM, n.  A sack of membrane covering a multitude of sins.

2007 Update:  A sheath installed by providence to defend the sincerity of the ribs.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


PURIFICATION, n.  A process that we hope to be beyond smelling range of, when it is applied to American politics.

2007 Update:  The wholesale substitution of new toxins for old poisons, such as replacing authoritarianism with populism or formaldehyde for blood. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Crowded Monastery

Once upon a time, two sacred abbas met in the desert of Egypt, where they had gone to avoid temptation. "The caves grow crowded," the young monk complained. "So many left the sinful village for purity, or to be hermits or seeking silence and stillness and come to these caves in the desert that our refuge has become a bustling, chaotic and lawless city of brothers. What are we to do?"

The older monk answered wisely, "hold elections."

CONSEQUENCE, n. An enemy of intention, neighbor to destiny and sister of a wish.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


PARRICIDE, n.  A filial coup de grace whereby one is released from the fingering torments of paternity.

2007 Update:  A temporary evanescence of taciturn resentment and benign neglect, locally newsworthy.

I'm clerking a municipal election today so be cruel to each other while I'm gone.

Monday, November 05, 2007


PREDICAMENT, n.  The wage of consistency.

2007 Update:  A ballot booth before a believer.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part III

Because A Thousand and One Nights Are Never Enough

To hear the story, listen to the marigolds.

To read the story, click on the tiger lily and ask what's up.

Friday, November 02, 2007


LETTUCE, n. An herb of the genus Lactuca, "Wherewith," says that pious gastronome, Hengist Pelly, "God has been pleased to reward the good and punish the wicked. For by his inner light the righteous man has discerned a manner of compounding for it a dressing to the appetency whereof a multitude of gustible condiments conspire, being reconciled and ameliorated with profusion of oil, the entire comestible making glad the heart of the godly and causing his face to shine. But the person of spiritual unworth is successfully tempted to the Adversary to eat of lettuce with destitution of oil, mustard, egg, salt and garlic, and with a rascal bath of vinegar polluted with sugar. Wherefore the person of spiritual unworth suffers an intestinal pang of strange complexity and raises the song."

2007 Update: A frail cabbage of little worth and no ambition lacking the substance to be slaw. Also, a commendable head.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


LAST, n.  A shoemaker's implement, named by a frowning Providence as opportunity to the maker of puns.

Ah, punster, would my lot were cast,
Where the cobbler is unknown,
So that I might forget his last
And hear your own.
—Gargo Repsky

2007 Update: In loaves and lives, a heel.

The last shall be first and the first shall last
So we were taught to believe in the past
But latter observers, coming to their senses,
Find cause to be cautious toward future tenses.