Thursday, January 31, 2008


RHUBARB, n.  Vegetable essence of stomach ache.

2008 Update:  A vegetable stewed by the simple with strawberries and embittered with its own virtue.  Legend holds that the rhubarb grows wherever the pious are elected and achieve high office.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


With troubles in mind
And aching intestine,
And fear of the kind
Of friend worry lets in,
Saint Maggie McLoud
Took up holy vocation
And, pious and proud,
Gained fame in her location,
For curing some woes
With her hands' gentle touch
And sticking her nose
Into other troubles too much.

So before seeking solace
From fear and disease
Ask yourself, and be honest,
Is it not simpler to sneeze?

HEALER, n.  An infectious affliction not easily passed.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008


RANCH, n. An undressed farm.

2008 Update:  A business dependent on access to federal land and local tax protest.  A bullish long-term investment in the private property of martyrdom.

Monday, January 28, 2008


RASH, adj. Insensible to the value of our advice.
"Now lay your bet with mine, nor let
These gamblers take your cash."
"Nay, this child makes no bet." "Great snakes!
How can you be so rash?"
—Bootle P. Gish
2008 Update: Sensible to wind and wave, to the exclusion of boulder and battleship.

In the the days of my prime,
Rash, I did wander
With no care for safety or future.
After living some time
I now thoughtfully ponder
The lessons sewn into each suture.
-Manuel Bréch

Saturday, January 26, 2008

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part XV

"The Beowulf of Wedding Planning" -Actonbell

To listen, tickle the old man with your mouse.

If you want to read, ask the old woman for a quiet place.

Friday, January 25, 2008


LORE, n. Learning — particularly that sort which is not derived from a regular course of instruction but comes of the reading of occult books, or by nature. This latter is commonly designated as folk-lore and embraces popularly myths and superstitions. In Baring-Gould's Curious Myths of the Middle Ages the reader will find many of these traced backward, through various peoples on converging lines, toward a common origin in remote antiquity. Among these are the fables of "Teddy the Giant Killer," "The Sleeping John Sharp Williams," "Little Red Riding Hood and the Sugar Trust," "Beauty and the Brisbane," "The Seven Aldermen of Ephesus," "Rip Van Fairbanks," and so forth. The fable with Goethe so affectingly relates under the title of "The Erl-King" was known two thousand years ago in Greece as "The Demos and the Infant Industry." One of the most general and ancient of these myths is that Arabian tale of "Ali Baba and the Forty Rockefellers."

2008 Update: The expanding canon of ancient wisdom and old jokes with 2008 updates.

Thursday, January 24, 2008


LAZINESS, n. Unwarranted repose of manner in a person of low degree.

2008 Update: The virtue by which physicians do no harm, judges reduce crime and managers improve output.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Relative temperature

Acetelyne might well burn hotter
Than lava when it meets the water
But if you want to see enamel glisten
Ask for interest from a politician.
But no earthly fire that can be kept
Will move curmudgeons who have overslept.

LATER, adj.  After an indefinite period, such as never.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


LAW, n.

Once Law was sitting on the bench,
And Mercy knelt a-weeping.
"Clear out!" he cried, "disordered wench!
Nor come before me creeping.
Upon your knees if you appear,
'Tis plain your have no standing here."

Then Justice came. His Honor cried:
"Your status? — devil seize you!"
"Amica curiae," she replied —
"Friend of the court, so please you."
"Begone!" he shouted — "there's the door —
I never saw your face before!"

2008 Update:  The scaffold on which the hypocrite stands in judgement above the coward seeking shelter as the neighbor dangles between.

When hominids first organized
And sought superiority to apes,
They learned to write, ennobling lies,
And made wine from sour grapes.
They began to sculpt and rhyme and draw,
To replace lost hair with religion.
Finally man created law
To keep down competition.

Monday, January 21, 2008


LIVER, n.  A large red organ thoughtfully provided by nature to be bilious with. The sentiments and emotions which every literary anatomist now knows to haunt the heart were anciently believed to infest the liver; and even Gascoygne, speaking of the emotional side of human nature, calls it "our hepaticall parte." It was at one time considered the seat of life; hence its name -- liver, the thing we live with. The liver is heaven's best gift to the goose; without it that bird would be unable to supply us with the Strasbourg pate.

2008 Update:   A larval die-er.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Friday, January 18, 2008


BEAR, n.  In the stock market, a broker who, having sold short, uses his customers' stocks to break the price.

2008 Update:  The bristly mountain eel.  An undocumented seasonal worker eligible to cradle children in gratitude for not speaking Spanish.

Thursday, January 17, 2008


BACK, n.  That part of your friend which it is your privilege to contemplate in your adversity.

2008 Update:  The site of the spine and the face of the spineless.

Speaking of, our good friend, Mireille is having a  procedure today which probably doesn't seem minor or safe to the person having it.  Hop over and lend your thoughts, give a prayer or just remind her that the great cats heal fast.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How to lie to an american

If you'd deceive my brother or sister,
I'll tell you how to do it, Mister.
Tell them they deserve whate'er they lack
And the price of all they've spent put back.
That they work too hard for what they make
And deserve every dime they take.
But take care when offering tomorrow
Lest your deceits should come to sorrow.
The change we seek is nothing new,
But yesterday's dream at last come true.

If my advice should seem like treason,
Remember now's election season.
And the enemy who listens clear,
May be our president next year.
For last year's lie is true again,
And just last night won Michigan.

CONDESCENSION, n.  The promise of improvement without change and change without difference.  

Tuesday, January 15, 2008


BARK, n. The song of the dog.
"My bark is on the wave," all writers quote.
"Mine too," says the retriever, "is afloat."
2008 Update: The soaring rhetoric of Churchill in the ears of his black dog.

Monday, January 14, 2008


BASSINET, n. A shrine in which is worshiped [SIC] "the image of it's pa." The word is from the French berceaunette, but the "image" is derived LORD knows whence.

2008 Update: A cradle in which a new mother and father may rest their resentment.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part XIII

"The Beowulf of Wedding Planning" -Actonbell

Hear the story straight from the mad cow.

You can read the story in Davy Jones' locker.

Friday, January 11, 2008


DOWRY, n.  The worm upon the matrimonial hook in man-fishing.

2008 Update:  A bribe to embellish a marriage contract, recently less fashionable in deference to divorce.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


DESPATCHES, [SIC] n.  A complete account of all the murders, outrages and other disgusting crimes which take place everywhere, disseminated daily by an Associated Press for the amelioration of the world in general.

2008 Update:  DISPATCHES,  Embers of indignity, spit from calamitous communities ablaze and nurtured in the cool hearths of the uninvolved.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Exit Polling

Every time my people vote,
On T.V. they make a note
Of the results and then continue
To why we vote the way we do.

They ask us for our age and gender,
And put the data in a blender
With our race and our religion
To extrapolate our indecision.

The gathered and the tallied choices
Are drowned out by the droning voices
Of experts on the many blocs
That merge to fill the ballot box.

The dead may rise with votes to cast
And chads might hang on 'til the last
But fraud and error are less germane
Than commentary, as they'll explain.

It seems like too much work to me,
articulate democracy.
What guides us there, behind the curtain?
Naught worth reporting, that seems certain.

EXIT POLL, n. A political post-mortem prediction.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


DOCTOR, n.  A gentleman who thrives upon disease and dies of health.

2008 Update:   The intermediary between an injury and a jury.

Monday, January 07, 2008


DISOBEDIENCE, n.  The silver lining to the cloud of servitude.

2008 Update:  The just compensation for thoughtful regulation.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part XII

"The Beowulf of Wedding Planning" -Actonbell

To read the story, climb aboard the pirate ship.

To hear the story, ask the cow afloat.

Friday, January 04, 2008


ATTRACTION, n.  The influence which tends to establish neighborly relations among things.  There are various kinds of attraction, but the attraction of gravity is the most celebrated.  In a woman, however, it is distinctly inferior to the attraction of vivacity.

2008 Update: The inversion of revulsion.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


AUTOCRAT, n.  A dictatorial gentleman with no other restraint upon him than the hand of an assassin.  The founder and patron of that great political institution, the dynamite bombshell system.

2008 Update:  Someone whose command is beyond question and whose writ is global, such as a man in his shower or every woman at a bee.  The collective noun is "a bride of autocrats."

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Ringing it in

Twenty-oh-eight might be the year
I get myself fitted for focals
The better to watch you with, my dear,
Because listening's driving me loco.

I suppose it is time a man of my age,
Learned to stop spending and save.
I'll be the master of credit and wage,
And of myself, as servant and slave.

Maybe i'm ready, on this trip round the sun,
That I plan for my workdays and weekends;
Frivolity being just one form of fun,
And discipline a game of pretend.

January's always a good month to inquire,
And contemplate new resolutions.
The eleven to come can bring back the fire
And prevent our jumping to conclusions.

RESOLUTION, n. The certainty bridging folly and doubt.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008


ARREARS, n.  (In deference to the feelings of a large and worthy class of our subscribers and advertisers, the definition of this word is withheld.)

2008 Update:  The setting of the rising sun.

RABBIT RABBIT RABBIT and Happy New Year to you all

Now, in the spirit of surrender to pervasive nostalgia, and in a spirit of egomaniacal generosity inspired by the glory of fewer year-end summaries of the lives of near-strangers, I bring you this eBook/PDF thingamabob containing the fiction and verse from Waking Ambrose so far. You can right-click and download it as a pdf.  I virtually promise no virus.