"We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, and the right to make that of another miserable by thrusting upon him an incalculable quantity of acquaintances; liberty, particularly the liberty to introduce persons to one another without first ascertaining if they are not already acquainted as enemies; and the pursuit of another's happiness with a running pack of strangers."2009 Update: The propagation of two new antipathies and three suspicions.
Thursday, December 31, 2009
INTRODUCTION, n. A social ceremony invented by the devil for the gratification of his servants and the plaguing of his enemies. The introduction attains its most malevolent development in this century, being, indeed, closely related to our political system. Every American being the equal of every other American, it follows that everybody has the right to know everybody else, which implies the right to introduce without request or permission. The Declaration of Independence should have read thus:
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
At December's ebb, we mull and count
Our datebooks' recent pages
As the world completes an orbit more
And the mirror brusquely ages.
But why look back as new dawn breaks?
Why not look brightly out instead?
Toward our regrets next New Year's Eve
If we're not already dead.
NOSTALGIA, n. Analgesia applied to healed wounds.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
INADMISSIBLE, adj. Not competent to be considered. Said of certain kinds of testimony which juries are supposed to be unfit to be entrusted with, and which judges, therefore, rule out, even of proceedings before themselves alone. Hearsay evidence is inadmissible because the person quoted was unsworn and is not before the court for examination; yet most momentous actions, military, political, commercial and of every other kind, are daily undertaken on hearsay evidence. There is no religion in the world that has any other basis than hearsay evidence. Revelation is hearsay evidence; that the Scriptures are the word of God we have only the testimony of men long dead whose identity is not clearly established and who are not known to have been sworn in any sense. Under the rules of evidence as they now exist in this country, no single assertion in the Bible has in its support any evidence admissible in a court of law. It cannot be proved that the battle of Blenheim ever was fought, that there was such as person as Julius Caesar, such an empire as Assyria.
But as records of courts of justice are admissible, it can easily be proved that powerful and malevolent magicians once existed and were a scourge to mankind. The evidence (including confession) upon which certain women were convicted of witchcraft and executed was without a flaw; it is still unimpeachable. The judges' decisions based on it were sound in logic and in law. Nothing in any existing court was ever more thoroughly proved than the charges of witchcraft and sorcery for which so many suffered death. If there were no witches, human testimony and human reason are alike destitute of value.
2009 Update: Unappealingly prejudicial.
Monday, December 28, 2009
IDOL, n. An imagine representing some object of worship. That the image is itself worshiped is probably not true any people in the world, though some idols are ugly enough to be divine. The honors paid to idols are justly deprecated by the true believer, for he knows that nothing with a head can be omniscient, nothing with a hand omnipotent and nothing with a body omnipresent. No deity could fill any of our requirements if handicapped with existence.
2009 Update: A physical representation of the profane- frequently composed with feet of clay, golden calves, the tongue of a press agent and a numbered verse.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
Friday, December 25, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
AUTHENTIC, adj. Indubitably true- in somebody's opinion.
He ne'er discredited authentic news,That tended to substantiate his viewsAnd never controverted an assertionWhen true, if it was easy of perversion.So frank was he that where he was unjustHe always would confess it when he must."The Lawyer," 1750
2009 Update: Traditional, according to a previous revision. For example, fajitas, White Christmas and Waking Ambrose.
Merry Christmas Eve to you all.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
A little boy out in the cold,
Up on the great north plain,
Stood watch through a snowstorm
And stayed out in the rain
In hope of seeing Santa fly
And heaven's child reign.
The lad kept up his vigil,
Through changing Christmas breezes,
And made hopeful lists and prayer
In defiance of diseases.
He breathed soft words of thanks and praise
In between the sneezes.
By early dawn he heard some bells,
Like those rung through the ages
"I've been good the whole year long,"
The child coughed through fever's rages,
"Ho ho ho!," a flying elf replied,
"But now you are contagious!"
The little fellow was rewarded,
As the sleigh sped o'er night's vault,
With Santa's middle finger
And a fat elf's cursed assault:
"If Christmas spreads the pox this year,
It's little Dougie's fault!"
NOG, n. The blended deprivation of calf, chick and Australian.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Monday, December 21, 2009
ABRIDGE, v.t. To shorten.
When in the course of human events it becomes necessary for2009 Update: 2 amend 4 modernity's sake, contesting vapidity with vacuity. To shorte.
people to abridge their king, a decent respect for the opinions of
mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel
them to the separation.Oliver Cromwell
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Friday, December 18, 2009
LAPIDATE, v.t. To rebuke with stones. St. Stephen, for example, was lapidated like a Chinaman*.
Lamented St. Steve,What Christian can grieveFor the way that you came to your death?For the monument fairOf memorial stonesWas reared in the airO'er your honored bonesEre yet you'd relinquished your breath.No doubt as your soul exhaledYou were thanked by resolution;For the builders' design had failedExcept for your execution.
2009 Update: To blog at close range.
*A note on the language- Among the sects of humanity that Bierce was especially caustic towards were the anti-chinese populists of his era who lobbied in the halls of power to limit immigration and, alternately, committed acts of violence in the alleys of San Francisco. In one case, which might have inspired this definition, a Chinese woman was found murdered, of which Bierce wrote "The cause of her death could not be accurately ascertained, but as her head was caved in it is thought by some physicians that she died of galloping Christianity of the malignant California type."
All of which is to say, Bierce was a
honky man of his time and I have intentionally omitted a few racist definitions. I included this entry out of confidence that he did not intend to insult Chinese people, but rather James Sensenbrenner who deserves it.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
LOGIC, n. The art of thinking and reasoning in strict accordance with the limitations and incapacities of the human misunderstanding. The basic of logic is the syllogism, consisting of a major and a minor premise and a conclusion -- thus:
Major Premise: Sixty men can do a piece of work sixty times as quickly as one man.
Minor Premise: One man can dig a posthole in sixty seconds; therefore --
Conclusion: Sixty men can dig a posthole in one second.
This may be called the syllogism arithmetical, in which, by combining logic and mathematics, we obtain a double certainty and are twice blessed.
2009 Update: The most analytical form of reason, by which the capable human animal combines two assumptions into one irrelevancy. Logic is never as coldly precise as when it used to explain a failure of judgement, and judgement fails primarily due to distraction and, therefore, the Orange Bowl? Not too shabby.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
When money's tight in hardship's dark hour,
With gifts too dear for giving or snatching
It's hard on the merry and the dour
Here are hints to make grinching relaxing.
Plastic toys, you can break at home yourself,
Making young children feel justly like fools-
Blame the damage on a foreign-born elf
And translate the package to Magyarúl.
Under the Christmas tree, I'd try setting
Pretty boxes filled with wrapping paper.
Rather than tinsel, string chits from betting
And seal up the stockings with a stapler.
The spirit can flourish, broke though you've grown,
By spiking the eggnog with acetone.
-Brunhilda N. Tepes
CHRISTMAS TREE ORNAMENT, n. A decoration on a hook, symbolizing the season.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
LAP, n. One of the most important organs of the female system -- an admirable provision of nature for the repose of infancy, but chiefly useful in rural festivities to support plates of cold chicken and heads of adult males. The male of our species has a rudimentary lap, imperfectly developed and in no way contributing to the animal's substantial welfare.
2009 Update: The foundation upon which ambition rests.
Monday, December 14, 2009
LIBERTARIAN, n. One who is compelled by the evidence to believe in free-will, and whose will is therefore free to reject that doctrine.
2009 Update: A political philosopher who would limit the government to the construction of roads, the enforcement of contracts and defense of the borders by happy accident. A utopia awaits the triumphant libertarian in which borders recede into the bedroom, grunted greetings grow into contracts and a highway is made straight not only through the desert but across every inch of national soil, extending to the depths of the ocean.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
To hear this week's reading, get anywhere near the young German woman knitting.
To read this week's episode, check inside the lovely bad knitted for Vater Karl.
Friday, December 11, 2009
OPERA, n. A play representing life in another world, whose inhabitants have no speech but song, no motions but gestures and no postures but attitudes. All acting is simulation, and the word simulation is from simia, an ape; but in opera the actor takes for his model Simia audibilis (or Pithecanthropos stentor)--the ape that howls.
The actor apes a man--at least in shape;
The opera performer apes an ape.
2009 Update: A coincidence of sheet music with a libretto, typically tragic. The term derives from the Latin plural of OPUS, meaning "works" or is, perhaps, a durable misprint of "ONERA."
Thursday, December 10, 2009
OPPOSE, v.t. To assist with obstructions and objections.
How lonely he who thinks to vexWith badinage the Solemn Sex!Of levity, Mere Man, beware;None but the Grave deserve the Unfair.Percy P. Orminder
2009 Update: To make a martyr or to make a satyr.
Half-man-half-beasts took up their seatsIn the parliament of ancient Crete'sUnder good King Minos' aegis.The floor lay still, and what a thrill,The King would sing in elden trill"No law will e'er besiege us!"So long as human source and rump of horseOr goat-legs, with bull's heads, of courseAre joined two-in-one-creature-The caucus lasts, and pretty fastThe opposition's votes are castConsensus "neighs"- a democratic feature!"-Herodotus
Wednesday, December 09, 2009
Whenever you go dinosaurin',
At school, at home or someplace foreign.
The important thing is to select
The mighty lizard most correct
To roar and gnash in just the way you're feeling.
When locked behind your bedroom door,
Consider the great allosaur-
A giant mouth with giant tail,
Chomping leaves along the trail
And banging your head on the (forest) ceiling.
And when you're feeling wild and fleet,
The pterodactyl's pretty sweet
Hunting, tackling, and tearing clothes
Goes well with friends and knives for toes.
On the playground, none are more appealing.
But then there's days of youth or age
When nothing can contain our rage.
A mighty predator is due
And that T-Rex must now be you,
Tearing flesh at liberty
Scaring prey right up a tree-
A gnashing, thrashing, thick-skulled daemon
To pursue, subdue and chew on Eamon.
DINOSAUR, n. coll. A lumbering, unadaptable relic, such as an uncle.
Happy birthday, Stevie
Tuesday, December 08, 2009
Monday, December 07, 2009
OUTSIDER, n. A person austerely censorious of that which he is unable to do or become. In commerce and finance, a member of the army of provision.
2009 Update: Every member of congress, each American journalist, the entire class of working people, any accountant, police officer, preacher, pundit, populist, layabout, roustabout, goldbrick, drunkard, teetotaler, academic, artist, manager, managee, social worker, malcontent, discontent, pollyanna, lama, rabbi, imam, infant, decedent, defendant, prosecuting attorney, judge, juror, executioner, monarchist, patriot, jihadist, bartender or, in the end, every individual member of the great global village of outcasts and separatists as well as their cats. All but the dog.
Saturday, December 05, 2009
Friday, December 04, 2009
SCARABEE, n. The same as scarabaeus.
He fell by his own hand2009 Update: A dung beetle touched with religion..
Beneath the great oak tree.
He'd traveled in a foreign land.
He tried to make her understand
The dance that's called the Saraband,
But he called it Scarabee.
He had called it so through an afternoon,
And she, the light of his harem if so might be,
Had smiled and said naught. O the body was fair to see,
All frosted there in the shine o' the moon —
Dead for a Scarabee
And a recollection that came too late.
They buried him where he lay,
He sleeps awaiting the Day,
And two Possible Puns, moon-eyed and wan,
Gloom over the grave and then move on.
Dead for a Scarabee!
Thursday, December 03, 2009
SEINE, n. A kind of net for effecting an involuntary change of environment. For fish it is made strong and coarse, but women are more easily taken with a singularly delicate fabric weighted with small, cut stones.
The devil casting a seine of lace,(With precious stones 'twas weighted)Drew it into the landing placeAnd its contents calculated.All souls of women were in that sack —A draft miraculous, precious!But ere he could throw it across his backThey'd all escaped through the meshes.—Baruch de Loppis
2009 Update: A French river which separates the dissolute from the industrious Parisian- a distinction too speculative to be made along any other course.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
Once upon a time, an aesthete and a chimpanzee sat down for tea and a continental breakfast. In the course of the conversation, the topic of religion naturally arose. The aesthete argued passionately that the soul of religion itself is not faith but ritual. The chimpanzee listened intently until, perhaps bored with the lecture, she leapt onto the tea service and did a back-flip, demonstrating her intellectual elitism.
HAUTEUR, n. Speaker envy.
Tuesday, December 01, 2009
Monday, November 30, 2009
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Friday, November 27, 2009
TZETZE (or TSETSE) FLY, n. An African insect (Glossina morsitans) whose bite is commonly regarded as nature's most efficacious remedy for insomnia, though some patients prefer that of the American novelist (Mendax interminabilis).
2009 Update: A large fly native to sub-saharan Africa, principally known for spreading somnolence among vertebrates and alacrity among crossword puzzle solvers.
Thursday, November 26, 2009
TURKEY, n. A large bird whose flesh when eaten on certain religious anniversaries has the peculiar property of attesting piety and gratitude. Incidentally, it is pretty good eating.
2009 Update: A creature that, by domestication, caging and overfeeding has evolved from a wild fowl into a symbol for American gratitude and ambition. The turkey retains enough power of flight to avoid a "flightless" description but not enough to avoid a recipe.
Happy Thanksgiving to all Americans, foreign and domestic.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Given two knees to bend in prayer
And two lips with which to shape the air
Two hands to fold, two eyes to close-
So evenly appreciation shows.
For gratitude's an even state,
A grace to grace reciprocate,
A gift that we give in reflection
Of fortune smiling our direction.
The fourth Thursday in November
We appoint the day that we'll remember
Over second servings, to raise some cheer
For blessings we received this year.
How puzzling, then, the mystery-
That troubles come ennumbered three
And juggling, each of us must labor
To praise all those that plague our neighbor.
And so since we pray annually,
And count our blessings manually,
Some ambivalence is fine
For thanksgiving given in aught-nine.
ODD, adj. Indivisible by two, as a second portion.
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
TRINITY, n. In the multiplex theism of certain Christian churches, three entirely distinct deities consistent with only one. Subordinate deities of the polytheistic faith, such as devils and angels, are not dowered with the power of combination, and must urge individually their claims to adoration and propitiation. The Trinity is one of the most sublime mysteries of our holy religion. In rejecting it because it is incomprehensible, Unitarians betray their inadequate sense of theological fundamentals. In religion we believe only what we do not understand, except in the instance of an intelligible doctrine that contradicts an incomprehensible one. In that case we believe the former as a part of the latter.
2009 Update: A Christian formulation for one being in three persons. Examples include the divine trinity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit; the earthly trinity of sinner, neighbor and pagan and the ecclesiastical trinity of the Fellowship Committee.
Monday, November 23, 2009
TOPE, v. To tipple, booze, swill, soak, guzzle, lush, bib, or swig. In the individual, toping is regarded with disesteem, but toping nations are in the forefront of civilization and power. When pitted against the hard-drinking Christians the abstemious Mohammedans go down like grass before the scythe. In India one hundred thousand beef-eating and brandy-and-soda guzzling Britons hold in subjection two hundred and fifty million vegetarian abstainers of the same Aryan race. With what an easy grace the whisky-loving American pushed the temperate Spaniard out of his possessions! From the time when the Berserkers ravaged all the coasts of western Europe and lay drunk in every conquered port it has been the same way: everywhere the nations that drink too much are observed to fight rather well and not too righteously. Wherefore the estimable old ladies who abolished the canteen from the American army may justly boast of having materially augmented the nation's military power.
2009 Update: To seek temperance in the bottom of a bottle. To be lush in view of the withered. To err among accountants or sin before the prim.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
GOLD-BUG, n. In political matters, a miscreant who has the wickedness to know that legislation cannot maintain a permanent relation between the values of two metals, even by the luminous device pf binding them together in the same coins. A miller who grinds the faces of the poor and takes the whole grist for toll. A hideous monster that disturbs the Bulletin's repose by sitting astride Deacon Fitch's stomach, picking the bones of "the debtor class" and blaspheming the dollar of our fathers.
2009 Update: A politician whose crusade for purity leads him at last to the dollar, who reads Austrian treatises in the original Texan and who turns to smelted stone for wisdom and temperance.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Building fence alone's a discouraging thing,
Sinking posts and stringing bob wire.
A horseman afoot with no friend to bring
Comes slowly across deserts burnt by wind instead of fire.
Staples bend, hammers drop, no spare hand to retrieve 'em
Marks are made too far and light for two eyes to perceive 'em
Lies are invented and repeated with no ear there to believe 'em
And gates go in too woody and wide for two arms to achieve 'em.
So if your vision is of a new Earth
And you have a mission to pursue
My advice, for what it's worth,
Is there's more lasting work to do.
When the weather sours and breezes rise as they do each November-
Douse your campfire and take some time to spit on ev'ry ember,
Pack up your bedroll, your come-along and jug, if you remember,
And head for town and find you a committee needs a member.
HIGH-MISSION, adj. Low effort.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
GNU, n. An animal of South Africa, which in its domesticated state resembles a horse, a buffalo and a stag. In its wild condition it is something like a thunderbolt, an earthquake and a cyclone.
A hunter from Kew caught a distant view
Of a peacefully meditative gnu,
And he said: "I'll pursue, and my hands imbrue
In its blood at a closer interview."
But that beast did ensue and the hunter it threw
O'er the top of a palm that adjacent grew;
And he said as he flew: "It is well I withdrew
Ere, losing my temper, I wickedly slew
That really meritorious gnu."
2009 Update: A beast with a goat's beard, the hooves of a deer and the shoulders of a boar which is absent from mythology because it lacks the lust, cowardice and malice that make such animals exotic to fabulists.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Hail noble fruit! — by Homer sung,2009 Update: The fruit of a tangled vine, by a tangled vine and for a tangled line.
Anacreon and Khayyam;
Thy praise is ever on the tongue
Of better men than I am.
The lyre in my hand has never swept,
The song I cannot offer:
My humbler service pray accept —
I'll help to kill the scoffer.
The water-drinkers and the cranks
Who load their skins with liquor —
I'll gladly bear their belly-tanks
And tap them with my sticker.
Fill up, fill up, for wisdom cools
When e'er we let the wine rest.
Here's death to Prohibition's fools,
And every kind of vine-pest!—Jamrach Holobom
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Friday, November 13, 2009
CACKLE, v.i. To celebrate the birth of an egg.
They say that hens do cackle loudest when. There's nothing vital in the egg they've laid;. And there are hens professing to have madeA study of mankind, who say that menWhose business is to drive the tongue or pen. Make the clamourous fanfaronade. O'er their most worthless work; and I'm afraidIn this respect they're really like the hen.Lo! The drum-major in his coat of gold,. His blazing breeches and high-towering cap,Imperiously pompous, "bloody, bold. And resolute"-an awe-inspiring chap!Who'd think this hero's only warlike virtueIs that in battle he will never hurt you?
2009 Update: To argue as the fowl argues or laugh as the witch laughs, or to contemplate as Lou Dobbs contemplated.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
CANE, n. A convenient article for admonishing the gentle slanderer and the inconsiderate rival.
2009 Update: A portable foundation with which to reinforce the rigidity of the elderly, or upon which to erect an upright child. A mobile martyrdom, Crux mobilis.
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
A morning is for glory,
Late morn for glory past,
When a man can sit upon his couch
And be thoughtful at last.
But quiet, cautious contemplation
Serves only as a provocation
To the kind of woman whose vacation
She spends spreading aggravation.
Do the Roosters out in Pennsyltucky
Arise to Lucy's crowing?
Do the clouds break when she thunders
And the winds gust when she's blowing?
Here in LA, the sky is brightening,
The weather's clear, the morals heightening.
The burdens of the times are lightening
But I won't relax while Lucy's tightening.
BOSSY, adj. Minutely gracious.
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Monday, November 09, 2009
COENOBITE, n. A man who piously shuts himself up to meditate upon the sin of wickedness; and to keep it fresh in his mind joins a brotherhood of awful examples.
O Coenobite, O coenobite,2009 Update: A contemplative who leaves town and home in search of community.
You differ from the anchorite,
With vollied prayers you wound Old Nick;
With dropping shots he makes him sick.
Saturday, November 07, 2009
Friday, November 06, 2009
Thursday, November 05, 2009
EPIGRAM, n. A short, sharp saying in prose or verse, frequently characterize by acidity or acerbity and sometimes by wisdom. Following are some of the more notable epigrams of the learned and ingenious Dr. Jamrach Holobom:
We know better the needs of ourselves than of others. To serve oneself is economy of administration.
In each human heart are a tiger, a pig, an ass and a nightingale. Diversity of character is due to their unequal activity.
There are three sexes; males, females and girls.
Beauty in women and distinction in men are alike in this: they seem to the unthinking a kind of credibility.
Women in love are less ashamed than men. They have less to be ashamed of.
While your friend holds you affectionately by both your hands you are safe, for you can watch both his.
2009 Update: Refined babble.
Those who seek shall surely find what they who lie unsought express in rhyme.
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Whether the science from gleaning of data
Is right that the world's getting warmer
Or the others are right that the science won't matter
If we cede all our plans to the former:
It's summery here in C.A. in November
And might be for Christmas, the worse.
So I'm starting my day, hoping to remember
To drive in to work in reverse.
DISCOMFORT, n. Heaven's first gift to the good and wisdom's middle curse on the industrious.
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
EXCURSION, n. An expedition of so disagreeable a character that steamboat and railroad fares are compassionately mitigated to the miserable sufferers.
2009 Update: A brief circular journey for the satisfaction of curiosity and the broadening of the mind. In the American midwest, a visit to the casino.
Monday, November 02, 2009
EXPERIENCE, n. The wisdom that enables us to recognize as an undesirable old acquaintance the folly that we have already embraced.
To one who, journeying through night and fog,2009 Update: The sensory engine that pulls us from mistaken to misunderstanding.
Is mired neck-deep in an unwholesome bog,
Experience, like the rising of the dawn,
Reveals the path that he should not have gone.
—Joel Frad Bink
"What is the price of experience? Do men buy it for a song or wisdom for a dance in the street? No! But a pamphlet can be had for mutterings or a slow limp!"-Blake
Happy Birthday to Eamon!
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Friday, October 30, 2009
DESHABILLE, n. A reception costume for intimate friends varying according to locality, e.g. In Borrioboola Gha, a streak of red and yellow paint across the thorx. In San Francisco, pearl ear-rings and a smile.
2009 Update: Casual or careless garb. According to the lexicographer, the antonym for nudity.
And a very happy birthday to sister AP3. May Facebook fete you as warmly as the blogosphere remembers.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
DRAGON, n. A leading attraction in the menagerie of the antique imagination. It seems to have escaped.
2009 Update: A genus comprising greater variety in character than either canis or barber. The key traits include a leathery and scaled hide, moral dubiousness, destructive expression and appointment as opposed to election.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Monday's your birthday, make of it the most.
Pull a toy under Murphy and feed him your toast
Bite your mom's ankle, spill your dad's beer,
Frustrate your brother til I hear him scream from here.
Put Bapu's camera into your juice.
Grab Ganny's flowers and pull each petal loose.
Some days are good and some days are bad.
The best days are days you make everyone mad!
EXPEDITION, n. A long and demanding mission, such as the journey from infancy to propriety or from the cradle to a vase.
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
DIGESTION, n. The conversion of victuals into virtues. When the process is imperfect, vices are evolved instead-a circumstance from which that wicked writer, Dr. Jeremiah Blenn, infers that ladies are the greater sufferers from dyspepsia. This brutal judgement is found in his pamphlet entitled Why Are Women Sickly (John Camden Hotten: London, 1870), a work that has elicited well-merited execration in seventy languages.
"Why are all our women sickly?"Asks the famous Dr. Blenn.That is answered very quickly,-Our physicians all are men.
There is not in this wide world a pleasure so sweet as the vindication of lovely woman against unjust aspersion.
2009 Update: A contest between a dead and a living animal, resolved inevitably in favor of the vegetable.
Monday, October 26, 2009
DEPILATORY, adj. Having the property of removing hair from the skin-a quality highly developed in the hand of a wife.
2009 Update: Apeciogenic. Causing the removal or absence of especially bodily hair, such as by the presence of ambition in the blood or estrogen in the home.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
HOMICIDE, n. The slaying of one human being by another. There are four kinds of homicide: felonious, excusable, justifiable, and praiseworthy, but it makes no great difference to the person slain whether he fell by one kind or another — the classification is for advantage of the lawyers.
2009 Update: Inverted nostalgia. Philosophy from the seed.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Heat, says Professor Tyndall, is a mode2009 Update: The condition poets will call inspiring, construction crews perspiring, joggers respirational, surfers recreational, the sleepy soporific, and the chef prolific; as measured by a thermometer.
Of motion, but I know now how he's proving
His point; but this I know — hot words bestowed
With skill will set the human fist a-moving,
And where it stops the stars burn free and wild.
Crede expertum — I have seen them, child.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
A weasel, down a forest trail,
Trotted past a lonesome snail,
"Whither thou?" the weasel asked
"To Rome, Modesto or Damascus?"
"I keep an atlas in my shell,"
The snail replied after a spell
"And every place I roam and wander,
Is annotated 'just up yonder.'"
"And does it tell, by signs or words,
The whereabouts of nesting birds?"
"No, let me make the caption clear
Each page announces 'leaves be here'."
"What waste of good cartography
To omit the sites that interest me!"
"My map of foliage, I find fine,
And copied once upon a vine."
The weasel darted on ahead,
To see where the forest trail led
While the snail, of his terrain assured,
Sauntered right up to a waiting bird.
ROADMAP, n. The landscape of the lost.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
HORRID, adj. In English hideous, frightful, appalling. In Young-womanese, mildly objectionable.
2009 Update: Punishable by exclamation.There was a pretty girl.In the terror and the whirl
Of the tempest of her passion she was torrid!
But when moderately moved
By what she disapproved
She said, with gentle censure, it was horrid.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Friday, October 16, 2009
A chip, in floating down a stream,Indulged a gratifying dream:"All things on earth but only IAre bound by stern necessity-"Are moved this way or that, their courseDetermined by some outer force."The helpless boughs upon the treesConfess the suasion of the breeze."The stone where it was placed remainsTill loosened by the frost or rains."The animals go here and thereAs circumstances may declare."The influence they cannot seeIs clearly visible to me."Yet all belive they're governed stillBy nothing but their solemn will."Deluded fools! I-I aloneObey no forces but my own."Without or sail or oar, I glideAt pleasure to the ocean's tide."No pow'r shall stay me till I laveMy body in the salt sea wave.Just then an eddy's gentle strengthBy hardly half a finger's length,His chipship drew aside. Said he;"'Tis far indeed to reach the sea."Now more and more, behold him swerveAlong the eddy's outer curve.He says: "My joy in swimming's o'erI'm half inclined to go ashore."As still he sweeps his arc,He adds: "The day is growing dark,"But still there's time to reach, no doubt,The point for which I first set out."The circle was completed quite."Right here," he said. "I'll pass the night."Nor ever once that chip suspectedThat ought but he his course deflected.Free-will, O mortals, is a dream:Ye all are ships upon a stream.
2009 Update: The iron shackling each to his or her own failures, felonies and follies.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
FEAR, n. A sense of the total depravity of the immediate future.
He either fears his fate too much,2009 Update: Panic at the mundane or its variations.
Or his deserts are small,
Who dares not put it to the touch-
Who'd rather pass than call.
Earl of Montrose
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
An open meadow, green and thick
Makes every shepherd wild
To gather his whole wooly flock
And graze the free land mild.
But where one herdsman tarries
The land will soon be full
Of other shepherds gathered
To deplore the price of wool.
And soon they bring their flocks and kin
To reap each blade, leaf, root and feather
And gather up to drink rum
And to predict the weather.
And once the lea has been stripped bare
And no-one's left for thanking,
The flock is left to starve or
Follow graziers into banking.
The tragedy's a common one,
Cultivated from these roots:
Too many open ovine mouths
Near surplus farmers' boots.
COMMONS, n. A pastoral resource held collectively in trust by the parents of malthusian libertarians.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
FORMA PAUPERIS. [Latin] In the character of a poor person — a method by which a litigant without money for lawyers is considerately permitted to lose his case.
When Adam long ago in Cupid's awful court
(For Cupid ruled ere Adam was invented)
Sued for Eve's favor, says an ancient law report,
He stood and pleaded unhabilimented.
"You sue in forma pauperis, I see," Eve cried;
"Actions can't here be that way prosecuted."
So all poor Adam's motions coldly were denied:
He went away — as he had come — nonsuited.
2009 Update: A certification that one party's destitution prevents them from addressing the court in a living language. However the case shall be decided, the world and fortune have been held liable.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Friday, October 09, 2009
WEDDING, n. A ceremony at which two persons undertake to become one, one undertakes to become nothing, and nothing undertakes to become supportable.
2009 Update: A festival to celebrate two people agreeing to reject promiscuity for adultery.
Thursday, October 08, 2009
WOMAN, n. An animal usually living in the vicinity of Man, and having a rudimentary susceptibility to domestication. It is credited by many of the elder zoologists with a certain vestigial docility acquired in a former state of seclusion, but naturalists of the postsusananthony period, having no knowledge of the seclusion, deny the virtue and declare that such as creation's dawn beheld, it roareth now. The species is the most widely distributed of all beasts of prey, infesting all habitable parts of the globe, from Greeland's spicy mountains to India's moral strand. The popular name (wolfman) is incorrect, for the creature is of the cat kind. The woman is lithe and graceful in its movement, especially the American variety (Felis pugnans), is omnivorous and can be taught not to talk.—Balthasar Pober
2009 Update: The constructively gendered portion of the adult human population for whose sake every secret is hidden and all humor diluted. In traditional societies, woman is commonly the nurturer of children while in contemporary civilization she is more often mother to hyphens, commas and quotations.
Um. I might be offline a lot today. Just sayin'.
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Once, in ancient times, two monks were walking together in the trailless Egyptian desert. As they climbed over a rise, they saw below them a vixen steal an egg from a bird's nest and scamper away into her own den, the entrance to which was in plain view.
Abba Nelson, the younger of the two monks asked his superior, "What are we to do? The egg to the bird represents her next generation, but what if this is the fox's only way to feed her young? As Christians, should we intervene to perhaps save the chick or ignore the theft and perhaps save the kits?"
"If the kits grow up will they yowl Jesus' name to sinners?" asked Abba Abercrombie, the older monk.
"Not in our language, surely, but who can tell? We do not know how God will use us."
"And if the egg should hatch, will the new dove be seen in foreign parts as a herald of the Holy Spirit?"
"If strangers don't know of the Holy Spirit, they won't receive it from the dove, I wouldn't think. But who knows how God chooses his agents?"
"Quite right," applauded Abba Abercrombie, "but we can guess that if God meant to stop a crime, he wouldn't send an old monk and a philosophical one to the scene."
INTERCEDE, v.t. To interfere in the natural order according to the creator's instruction.
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
WAR, n. A by-product of the arts of peace. The most menacing political condition is a period of international amity. The student of history who has not been taught to expect the unexpected may justly boast himself inaccessible to the light. "In time of peace prepare for war" has a deeper meaning than is commonly discerned; it means, not merely that all things earthly have an end — that change is the one immutable and eternal law — but that the soil of peace is thickly sown with the seeds of war and singularly suited to their germination and growth. It was when Kubla Khan had decreed his "stately pleasure dome" — when, that is to say, there were peace and fat feasting in Xanadu — that he
heard from afarAncestral voices prophesying war.
One of the greatest of poets, Coleridge was one of the wisest of men, and it was not for nothing that he read us this parable. Let us have a little less of "hands across the sea," and a little more of that elemental distrust that is the security of nations. War loves to come like a thief in the night; professions of eternal amity provide the night.
2009 Update: The contest by which two or more governments seek to extend national sovereignty into the provinces.
Feliz compleaños, Papi Brujo
Monday, October 05, 2009
WORSHIP, n. Homo Creator's testimony to the sound construction and fine finish of Deus Creatus. A popular form of abjection, having an element of pride.
2009 Update: Ritual wonder at GOD's great grace and the petty apostasies of the fellowship committee.
Saturday, October 03, 2009
To hear Vater Steve read this week's episode, get conked on the head with knowledge by clicking the tapestry.
To read this week's episode, try the campfire sermon.
Friday, October 02, 2009
BRAIN, n. An apparatus with which we think what we think. That which distinguishes the man who is content to be something from the man who wishes to do something. A man of great wealth, or one who has been pitchforked into high station, has commonly such a headful of brain that his neighbors cannot keep their hats on. In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, brain is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.
2009 Update: An organ ingeniously, though mindlessly, devised by nature to absorb the force of impact against the cranium from, for example, walls, trees or incited violence. Nature's styrofoam peanut.
Without a soft, spongy, compressible brain to fill the interior, injuries such as the one depicted (right) would pose a much greater threat to the integrity of the skull.
Happy birthday, to my brother, Andy. (Be assured, today's word selection is purely coincidental)
Happy birthday, also, to Nessa.
Thursday, October 01, 2009
Wednesday, September 30, 2009
A sister is a creature composed
Of useful parts scented and twisted like rose-
Whenever her family's foolish or frivolous
Her voice like a wolf's whisper delivers us,
She carries us o'er muddy roads, who knows how
On shoulders like oxen's, pulling a plow,
She sees flowers bloom in the driest of gulches
Through eyes that are colored the average of mulches
No hill she can't climb, and often I wonder
Whether there's fences her legs can't carry her under.
With a mop on her head and two hammers for feet
Who can doubt it was she made the toolkit complete?
GORGONS, n. pl. Mythical sisters of ancient legend with serpentine hair and expressions that turned men to stone. That the gorgons are mythical can be proven in that they lack the additional venomous fangs, lion claws, and lethal shrieks of all attestable sisters.
Happy birthday, 'Na and you're welcome
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
BARRISTER, n. One of the ten thousand varieties of the genus Lawyer. In England the functions of a barrister are distinct from those of a solicitor. The one advises, the other executes; but the thing advised and the thing executed is the client.
2009 Update: One admitted to the bar for the purpose of transforming a client's jeopardy into a jury's agony. A barrister should not be confused with a barristra, the distinction being that the barrister makes foam without mechanical assistance and espresso over the course of a season.
Monday, September 28, 2009
BABE or BABY, n. A misshapen creature of no particular age, sex, or condition, chiefly remarkable for the violence of the sympathies and antipathies it excites in others, itself without sentiment or emotion. There have been famous babes; for example, little Moses, from whose adventure in the bulrushes the Egyptian hierophants of seven centuries before doubtless derived their idle tale of the child Osiris being preserved on a floating lotus leaf.
Ere babes were invented
The girls were contended.
Now man is tormented
Until to buy babes he has squandered
His money. And so I have pondered
This thing, and thought may be
'T were better that Baby
The First had been eagled or condored.
Ere babes were invented
The girls were contended.
Now man is tormented
Until to buy babes he has squandered
His money. And so I have pondered
This thing, and thought may be
'T were better that Baby
The First had been eagled or condored.
2009 Update: The gummy foundation on which a woman reconstructs her virtue and on which a man builds his own scaffold.
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
I met a drunk scribbler in the old town saloon
Carving limericks into his table
Bells rang in the steeple of the church right next door
As he etched as profanely as a cowhand is able.
I bought him a drink, put my hand on his shoulder
And observed aloud the dry humor
Of a man in his cups next door to the sacred
Chiseling rhymes as crass as a rumor.
He looked over at me through two yellow eyes,
frowned and then answered with passion,
"If I chose my art badly, it is no less inspired
By your interest and kindly compassion.
"I believe that if I were surrounded by demons,
A psalmist, I might be, I think.
But here, as I sit, among harping angels
Better satire I inscribe and whiskey I drink."
FELLOWSHIP, n. The company of spies.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
PRIMATE, n. The head of a church, especially a State church supported by involuntary contributions. The Primate of England is the Archbishop of Canterbury, an amiable old gentleman, who occupies Lambeth Palace when living and Westminster Abbey when dead. He is commonly dead.
2009 Update: Any of several species which share a strong resemblance to Homo sapiens, such as orangutans, great apes and men.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Friday, September 18, 2009
Thursday, September 17, 2009
REFERENDUM, n. A law for submission of proposed legislation to a popular vote to learn the nonsensus of public opinion.
2009 Update: A process by which a legislature abdicates the trust of the people in favor of those who misplaced it.
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
The King of badgers, I suppose,
Is chosen for the dampest nose.
The Duke of fleas, I would suggest,
Must be the very peskiest.
The speaker of the rodent house
Is nervous like no other mouse.
The most august of household roaches
Disgusts each neighbor she approaches,
While the mold that regulates its kin,
Is slimiest against the skin.
And the Marquis ruling over mildew
Stinks of sulfured sin mixed with you.
So it shouldn't take you by surprise,
The narrowness of pundits' eyes-
Man magnifies by praise and bribe
The pettiest among his tribe.
ELITE, adj. First among the countless.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
RECONCILIATION, n. A suspension of hostilities. An armed truce for the purpose of digging up the dead.
2009 Update: A parliamentary procedure created to civilly resolve controversy by dispatching the discontents.
Let those who doubt be set in boats,
'Tis the glory of our nation
That even they'd withhold their votes
Monday, September 14, 2009
RICE, n. The Mongolian substitute for corned beef.
2009 Update: A grain of good fortune in a pot of poverty, such as may be used to bless a wedding or demean a marshmallow.
And, if I'm not mistaken, happy birthday to Jamie Dawn! I don't know how old Jamie Dawn actually is, but you can tell by looking at her that she looks much younger.
Saturday, September 12, 2009
*Photo courtesy of Horst Bierau, a photographer (also, scientist and new father) who grew up in Wolfshausen. I found Horst through the combined magic of Google and Flickr, and have enjoyed making his acquaintance this week. More good news, Wolfshausen is set just as I remembered it so the geography of the story so far makes sense (Full-size panorama of Wolfshausen here. The camera is placed in the widow Greulich's front yard, today's story begins in the draw at upper right.)
Horst was also kind enough to show me his excellent photo of this church (at right,) which was built in Wolfshausen in the 12th century and which makes it a little silly of Vater Karl to have decamped to Wolfshausen in 1519 and to have held his masses outdoors ever since. The old fool.
In any event, my appreciation to Herr Bierau for letting me use his photographs and my recommendation to you all to enjoy more of his photography at foto.bierau.net. Thanks, Horst.