Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I lament the machines aren't rising
And mourn that the skies don't fall
And tear my sack cloth analyzing
The magnification of the small.
For, though the streets don't run with blood,
And our capitol doesn't burn
And our people don't perish (mostly) in flood
Nor linger in Babylon awaiting return;
When one city pastor can sway ev'ry tree
With a gale of warm testimony
Then the land where we dwell, our gossipocracy,
Is in thrall to the small and the phony.

TRIVIAL, adj.  Newsworthy.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


LEONINE, adj. Unlike a menagerie lion. Leonine verses are those in which a word in the middle of a line rhymes with a word at the end, as in this famous passage from Bella Peeler Silcox:
The electric light invades the dunnest deep of Hades.
Cries Pluto, 'twixt his snores: "O tempora! O mores!"

It should be explained that Mrs. Silcox does not undertake to teach pronunciation of the Greek and Latin tongues. Leonine verses are so called in honor of a poet named Leo, whom prosodists appear to find a pleasure in believing to have been the first to discover that a rhyming couplet could be run into a single line.

2008 Update:  Mewling in office.

Monday, April 28, 2008


LOQUACITY, n.  A disorder which renders the sufferer unable to curb his tongue when you wish to talk.

2008 Update:  Loquaciousness, as rendered somewhat more tersely.

This here is the 1000th post on Waking Ambrose.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Unionville Chronicles

Fifth Canto

To hear Oceallaigh  and Quilly read the fifth Canto, click on the late Doña de Dolor. Mahalo y gracias!

To read in quiet, click on the vaquero.

Friday, April 25, 2008


FROG, n. A reptile with edible legs. The first mention of frogs in profane literature is in Homer's narrative of the war between them and the mice. Skeptical persons have doubted Homer's authorship of the work, but the learned, ingenious and industrious Dr. Schliemann has set the question forever at rest by uncovering the bones of the slain frogs. One of the forms of moral suasion by which Pharaoh was besought to favor the Israelities was a plague of frogs, but Pharaoh, who liked them fricasees, remarked, with truly oriental stoicism, that he could stand it as long as the frogs and the Jews could; so the programme was changed. The frog is a diligent songster, having a good voice but no ear. The libretto of his favorite opera, as written by Aristophanes, is brief, simple and effective — "brekekex-koax"; the music is apparently by that eminent composer, Richard Wagner. Horses have a frog in each hoof — a thoughtful provision of nature, enabling them to shine in a hurdle race.

2008 Update:  A vocal, amphibious fruit, humble by nature though not in practice.  The language of frogs of every continent and island seems to be a lingua franca, blending Hungarian vocabulary with male grammar.

Boldog születésnapot, Ariel!  The rest of you mugs should wish her one, too.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


FOREORDINATION, n. This looks like an easy word to define, but when I consider that pious and learned theologians have spent long lives in explaining it, and written libraries to explain their explanations; when I remember the nations have been divided and bloody battles caused by the difference between foreordination and predestination, and that millions of treasure have been expended in the effort to prove and disprove its compatibility with freedom of the will and the efficacy of prayer, praise, and a religious life, — recalling these awful facts in the history of the word, I stand appalled before the mighty problem of its signification, abase my spiritual eyes, fearing to contemplate its portentous magnitude, reverently uncover and humbly refer it to His Eminence Cardinal Gibbons and His Grace Bishop Potter.

2008 Update:  Prior disposition, such as the denunciation of an action not yet taken, applause for the wisdom of a plan not yet considered or painting the walls of a house you will never have bought.

Many happy Hawai'ian hulas to Quilly on her birthday.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ode to Sacramento

The Capitol of Californ' is called the River City,
A fair land that is green with rice and also blue with pity,
Black with lies and obfuscations,
Brown with fact and indignation
White of liver, gray of thought,
Tanned by buyers and the bought.

The confluence of two great streams,
A shining, fertile city deems.
Yet the measure of her elevation
Is the effluvium of  legislation.

COMMENTARIAT, n.  A flock of wool-gatherers.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


FAUN, n.  In Latin mythology, a kind of rural diety.  The godhood of the fauns was pretty nearly a sinecure, their duties consisting mainly in having pointed ears and liaisons with the nymphs.  There were lady fauns (faunae) and these fauned on the satyrs.

2008 Update: A creature bearing traits of both man and goat which the Romans were pleased to pretend was a hybrid.  Some ancient mythmaker's autobiography.

Monday, April 21, 2008


FORESIGHT, n. That particular and valuable faculty that enables a politician always to know that his party is going to succeed-as distinguished from Retrospect, which sometimes shows him that it got calamitously beaten.

2008 Update:  Most commonly, the ability to predict which historical analogy will best compel a second chance following a spectacular future failure.  Far more rarely, the revelation of the proper projection to describe a dismal success.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Unionville Chronicles

Fourth Canto

To hear TLP read the fourth Canto, click on the mine crew. Thanks, Blogmama!

To read it your own self, click on the Smelter.

Friday, April 18, 2008


PILGRIM, n. A traveler that is taken seriously. A Pilgrim Father was one who, leaving Europe in 1620 because not permitted to sing psalms through his nose, followed it to Massachusetts, where he could personate God according to the dictates of his conscience.

2008 Update:  A pious apostle, revered by neighbors for emigrating.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


PANTHEISM, n. The doctrine that everything is God, in contradistinction to the doctrine that God is everything.

2008 Update:  The heresy that men choose their Gods as opposed to their scripture.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

In the land of ten thousand crimes

The Senator's all-seeing eye
Caught Billy making Susie cry
By lifting a worm from the dirt
And putting it down Susie's shirt

"Behold, the savage heathen's nature
Shames us all whene'er he imitates her
And when it calls the boy to assault by slime
Who can doubt the girl has suffered by this crime

"So I'll propose some legislation,
Binding all across the nation
To ban the boyish, cruel soul
That by malice we have come to know.

"There ought to, will be, must be law
Against such depraven craven foofaraw."
In fact there's twenty statutes, maybe more,
From each time Billy was caught before.

OUTRAGEOUS, adj.  Grandly galling to petty pols and princes.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


PROJECTILE, n. The final arbiter in international disputes. Formerly these disputes were settled by physical contact of the disputants, with such simple arguments as the rudimentary logic of the times could supply — the sword, the spear, and so forth. With the growth of prudence in military affairs the projectile came more and more into favor, and is now held in high esteem by the most courageous. Its capital defect is that it requires personal attendance at the point of propulsion.

2008 Update:  An moving witness. 

Monday, April 14, 2008


PALMISTRY, n. The 947th method (according to Mimbleshaw's classification) of obtaining money by false pretences. It consists in "reading character" in the wrinkles made by closing the hand. The pretence is not altogether false; character can really be read very accurately in this way, for the wrinkles in every hand submitted plainly spell the word "dupe." The imposture consists in not reading it aloud.

2008 Update: A method of locating fate in the hand and beyond the control of the fated.  Economics in a floral turban.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

The Unionville Chronicles

Third Canto

To hear Nessa read the third Canto, click on the fraternity. Thank you, Nessa!

To read the third Canto, click on Coyote.

Friday, April 11, 2008


SHAME, n.  That men whose talents are worth nothing in the open market should be paid eight dollars a day for confusing legislation in Sacramento.

2008 Update:  The rock remaining after the soul's assay which is offered to the famished instead of bread.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


SHAVE, v.  To buy a teacher's warrant at 95 cents on a dollar.

2008 Update:  To civilize by reducing the value of a human pelt for the discouragement of hunting.  The practice is commonest in lands where the price of tallow is already depressed by oversupply.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

To Science

Science! Beautiful foundation grantee of Dale Carnegie!
Rationale for indignation and self-righteous anomie!
In our proud experimental delusional hypotheses,
All creation becomes as one as subjects for busybodies.

Compelled by reason and by want and by wish to make men see
By denial and by worry, that he by scheming comes to be.
And every adage and each platitude has a mathematic match
In the halls of law and folly each scientist seeks parity!

Oh, science, your many suns don't fly but orbit, measurably,
One astronomer's relevance and one more center of gravity.
Oh, all the arts and every method bows before your expertise
Until superstition is in turn practiced as effectively.

Global warming, air pollution, poverty we turn to thee
To solve each enduring worry that by your office came to be.
The lens of thy microscope we turn to for hope and the broad view
Pettiness and warlike nature, conquered by an emperor with Ph.D.

SCIENTIFIC METHOD, n.  The objective process of inquiry, observation, hypothesis, measurement, publication, quarrel and defunding by which scholars replace superstition with science according to ancient rites and customs.

Today marks another trip around the sun for our favorite phototrope, O'Ceallaigh.  Happy birthday, pal.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008


SELF-ESTEEM, n.  An erroneous appraisement.

2008 Update:  The principle spirit in the cocktail sobriety and the modern baby's bottle.  The soul-crushing, goal-shattering, mind-numbing addiction to the vapor is generally taken to indicate good parenting.

Monday, April 07, 2008


SATYR, n. One of the few characters of the Grecian mythology accorded recognition in the Hebrew. (Leviticus, xvii, 7.) The satyr was at first a member of the dissolute community acknowledging a loose allegiance with Dionysius, but underwent many transformations and improvements. Not infrequently he is confounded with the faun, a later and decenter creation of the Romans, who was less like a man and more like a goat.

2008 Update: A creature with a man's head propelled by a horse's rump, but mythical.

Happy 4/7 (birthday) to Sar, wherever she's steppin'. 

Icy found a video recording of Jamie Dawn and Courtney recording Saturday's post.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Unionville Chronicles

Second Canto

To hear Jamie Dawn and Courtney read the second Canto, click on the Coyote. Thank you, Jamie Dawn and Courtney.

To read the second Canto, click on the second picture.

Friday, April 04, 2008


RIDDLE, n.  Who elects our rulers?

2008 Update:  A daughter of the sphinx that tests the wit of boys and the surrender of men.

Thursday, April 03, 2008


RATTLESNAKE, n.  Our prostrate brother, Homo ventrambulans.

2008 Update:  A child's toy with a lethal bite, locally manufactured and without batteries.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Ode to Ararat

Once upon a time the LORD thy God made rain
To flood the Earth and wash the world of sin.
And led Noah to set a boat amain
The good to rescue, a new world to begin.
As the ancient of days grows older yet
And man mistakes himself for the divine,
Each debt we take on and wish to forget
We see in the stars as a wond'rous sign.
Our political tribes, nation and kind
Holy church and the Federal Reserve
We call on for rainbows over the pines
And offer piously, proudly to serve.
And each lump is Mount Ararat seen while
We worry our sweat is raising the Nile.

REDEEM, v.t.  To reclaim from repossession.

4:15 PM **UPDATE** I just did the New York Times Crossword Puzzle from March 22.  18-Across was an eight-letter word for "Geographic feature depicted in the Armenian Coat of Arms."  I never imagined sonnet-writing could be this productive.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008


REASON, v.i.  To weigh probabilities in the scales of desire.

2008 Update:  To stalk the wild rationale.

**UPDATE** Tibbar Tibbar and happy holiday