Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bearing the cross in 2010 (A Holy Week Update)

To suffer for the sins of strangers,
Ain't like it used to be.
Now you carry their commentary,
Instead of your own tree.

The modern Via Dolorosa
Has now been repaved,
With kittens, kids and crimes
Uploaded to be saved.

Our piercings come by links not spears
Our crown of thorns, the Net,
Our stigmata, the array of tears
Of those we haven't met.

So if you'd trail the Savior's course,
Through Passion Week, undyin',
Stable up the glorious horse,
And ride your ass online.

ATONEMENT, n. The correction of sin, effectively by suffering your victims.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010


LIFE, n. A spiritual pickle preserving the body from decay. We live in daily apprehension of its loss; yet when lost it is not missed. The question, "Is life worth living?" has been much discussed; particularly by those who think it is not, many of whom have written at great length in support of their view and by careful observance of the laws of health enjoyed for long terms of years the honors of successful controversy.
"Life's not worth living, and that's the truth,"
Carelessly caroled the golden youth.
In manhood still he maintained that view
And held it more strongly the older he grew.
When kicked by a jackass at eighty-three,
"Go fetch me a surgeon at once!" cried he.
Han Soper
2010 Update: The eleventh plague upon Pharoah and his descendants. The pox for which every other curse is a cure.

Monday, March 29, 2010


LIBELOUS, adj. In the nature of an unprivileged excommunication.

2010 Update: Too nearly true.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Vierundsechzig
To hear TLP and Actonbell read this episode grandly, come in to the kitchen with Gretchen and Frau Braun.

Or, you can read this week's episode with the Elf King's suffering child at left.
The story so far is here.

Friday, March 26, 2010


OLYMPIAN, adj. Relating to a mountain in Thessaly, once inhabited by gods, now a repository of yellowing newspapers, beer bottles and mutilated sardine cans, attesting the presence of the tourist and his appetite.
His name the smirking tourist scrawls
Upon Minerva's temple walls,
Where thundered once Olympian Zeus,
And marks his appetite's abuse.
—Averil Joop
2010 Update: Related to the lofty preserve where Greek deities were free to imitate men, unobserved. Private.
In thunder and lightning,
Or chariots fighting,
The Olympians watched and made ready.
The Grecian's divinity
(Powerful, isn't he?)
Englories the will to act petty.

Thursday, March 25, 2010


OLD, adj. In that stage of usefulness which is not inconsistent with general inefficiency, as an old man. Discredited by lapse of time and offensive to the popular taste, as an old book.
"Old books? The devil take them!" Goby said.
"Fresh every day must be my books and bread."
Nature herself approves the Goby rule
And gives us every moment a fresh fool.
—Harley Shum
2010 Update: In syndication.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Grave Robber*

The wind was shrill, the clouds sedated,
My spirit heavy as I waited
To visit an old mate below the pomegranate tree.
Ready I had come to grieve
And fertilize the roots and leaves
To feed the fruit that grew there and then gave itself for free.
To hungry folk like me.

But on that cold portentous night
There waited there a muddy fright-
A ghoul in moonlight down below the pomegranate tree.
He licked the soil and scraped the roots
Sifted leaves inside a boot,
The match for which was on the ground crushed beneath his knee
The ghoul, I saw, saw me.

Nervous, I walked to the clearing
Only then as I was nearing
The ghoul cast up a yellow eye below the pomegranate tree
And began to keen and, tearing
simple rags he was wearing,
Gurgled "I can't find it, help me, you must help me, see!
Then I'll let you free!"

I asked him what it was he's seeking,
He looked as if he'd caught me sneaking
And whispered his answer to the flowers on the pomegranate tree.
"A bird I plucked but didn't kill-
His remains are somewhere still
He fell off of a window sill and I suspect his meat may be
Here and I plan to see."

I asked him what it was to him
To have a body past the brim
Under the flowery limb of this old pomegranate tree
He answered "I was known to poke,
Prod, burn, persecute and joke
The little bird that sang so sweetly, and to cage his she.
What will they say of me?

"If I don't find and then preserve
The sweet and harmless little bird
Men and ghouls may curse my name around the pomegranate tree.
If I can't even claim his ashes,
Even demons fear the lashes
When strangers call my evil rashness and my darkness frivolee."
I admit, I do agree.
-Willie Eighter, Santa Clarita

TRIFLE, n. Motive enough.

*Note: I confess I'm doing yet another post about my analog world. Bear with me and I'll work through it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


OFFENSIVE, adj. Generating disagreeable emotions or sensations, as the advance of an army against its enemy.
"Were the enemy's tactics offensive?" the king asked. "I should say so!" replied the unsuccessful general. "The blackguard wouldn't come out of his works!"
2010 Update: Provocative of, or in, retreat.

Monday, March 22, 2010


OCCIDENT, n. The large part of the world lying west (or east) of the Orient. It is largely inhabited by Christians, a powerful sub-tribe of the Hypocrites, whose principal industries are murder and cheating, which they are pleased to call "war" and "commerce." These, also, are the principal industries of the Orient.

2010 Update: The portion of the Northern hemisphere dominated by immigrants rather than conquerers. Among the tribes to have established homelands within the occidental region are the Indiscretes, the Patients and the Punctuals. The adjective, OCCIDENTAL, describes a native of the region, the antonym for EXOTIC.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Dreiundsechzig
To hear Weirsdo make short notice sound like she practiced all week, click on the buck at right.
Or, you can read this week's episode with Proteus at left.

The story so far is here.

Friday, March 19, 2010


SAD, adj. The efforts of musical debutantes.
I'm saddest when I sing. Toodles
2010 Update: Half awake.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


SALACITY, n. A certain literary quality frequently observed in popular novels, especially in those written by women and young girls, who give it another name and think that in introducing it they are occupying a neglected field of letters and reaping an overlooked harvest. If they have the misfortune to live long enough they are tormented with a desire to burn their sheaves.

2010 Update: Mammalhood.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A St. Patrick's Day prayer

May the road rise up to meet you
And the wind be at your back
May a snort slosh in your bottle
For each other thing you lack.
May the devil employ busy hands
And leave your pair to deal;
May fish find your plate on Friday
And leave you steak for meal.
May Sunday find you fighting
And Monday watch you abed,
May you recall Tuesday through Thursday
Each lie Saturday night you said;
And if it be your part in life,
The vagabond to play,
May your friends find you a tyrant
In every other way.

IRISH, n. A variety of goat with opposable thumbs and tongues.

Happy St. Patrick's Day to any friend I have left and, in particular, the Mooneys who have no choice in the matter.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


SALAMANDER, n. Originally a reptile inhabiting fire; later, an anthropomorphous immortal, but still a pyrophile. Salamanders are now believed to be extinct, the last one of which we have an account having been seen in Carcassonne by the Abbe Belloc, who exorcised it with a bucket of holy water.

2010 Update: A four-fingered, short-nosed amphibian that can breathe through its slimy skin. The assistant manager of the wetlands.

Monday, March 15, 2010


SATAN, n. One of the Creator's lamentable mistakes, repented in sashcloth and axes. Being instated as an archangel, Satan made himself multifariously objectionable and was finally expelled from Heaven. Halfway in his descent he paused, bent his head in thought a moment and at last went back. "There is one favor that I should like to ask," said he.
"Name it."
"Man, I understand, is about to be created. He will need laws."
"What, wretch! you his appointed adversary, charged from the dawn of eternity with hatred of his soul — you ask for the right to make his laws?"
"Pardon; what I have to ask is that he be permitted to make them himself."
It was so ordered.

2010 Update: The infernal dedicatee of Ambrose Bierce's dictionary, and reference books in general.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Zwoundsechzig
To hear my dad read this week's episode, come hear the sermon.
Or, you can read this week's episode quietly by the river.

The story so far is here.

Friday, March 12, 2010


GUINEA, n. A coin of twenty-one shillings, formerly minted in Great Britain, and still used as the unit of computation in fees for professional service, bribes and other transactions between gentlemen.
The bank is but the guinea's camp. Burns
2010 Update: The vast forested portion of West Africa, named by other Africans for the blackness of the inhabitants, as England was once named Albion by other Europeans for whiteness. In the West, Guinea is generally known for shady conspiracies between governments and corporations, a malcontented populace and Tarzan.

Thursday, March 11, 2010


GRAPESHOT, n. An argument which the future is preparing in answer to the demands of American Socialism.

2010 Update: The pre-industrial medium of exchange for international commerce and since supplanted by suspicion.

Happy birthday to the Old Mule (now 35.)

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Electric Privet

It's said good fences make good neighbors
And it's our neighbor we'd amend.
It's nevermore our thoughts or labors
For which we stand condemned.

But staying home on Friday night,
Comfort food and entertainment,
And voting either left or right
As witnessed at arraignment.

Get up and go to sleep quite early,
Open doors for ladies, do your work,
Have faith in life beyond the pearly,
And count yourself an average jerk.

And, still, the social networks hum,
With verdict, judge and virtues,
O'er sinful deeds, done and undone
And upholstery you choose.

So if you'd run a quiet course
Not mistrusted nor found wanting,
Know howling as the strongest force
Behind the constant haunting.

Never post on where you've been.
Don't tweet your daily labors.
In this new world of strife and sin,
Bad connections make good neighbors.

FACEBOOK, n. A robotic gossip.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010


GRAVITATION, n. The tendency of all bodies to approach one another with a strength proportion to the quantity of matter they contain — the quantity of matter they contain being ascertained by the strength of their tendency to approach one another. This is a lovely and edifying illustration of how science, having made A the proof of B, makes B the proof of A.

2010 Update: The force that divides horizontal from vertical and binds the spirit to the stomach.

Monday, March 08, 2010


GRAVE, n. A place in which the dead are laid to await the coming of the medical student.
Beside a lonely grave I stood —
With brambles 'twas encumbered;
The winds were moaning in the wood,
Unheard by him who slumbered,

A rustic standing near, I said:
"He cannot hear it blowing!"
"'Course not," said he: "the feller's dead —
He can't hear nowt that's going."

"Too true," I said; "alas, too true —
No sound his sense can quicken!"
"Well, mister, wot is that to you? —
The deadster ain't a-kickin'."

I knelt and prayed: "O Father, smile
On him, and mercy show him!"
That countryman looked on the while,
And said: "Ye didn't know him."
Pobeter Dunko
2010 Update: The whole Earth and any portion thereof set aside for one individual's excess capacity. A typical grave has room enough for a human's heart, skin, brain, bones, muscles and sinews but not his ambition which must be interred separately in an earlier rite.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Einundsechzig
To hear this week's episode, click again on St. Elizabeth's Church, at right.

Or, you can read this week's episode quietly among the clouds.

The story so far is here.

Friday, March 05, 2010


CULPRIT, n. The other fellow.

2010 Update: The farthest neighbor.

Thursday, March 04, 2010


COUNTERFEIT, adj. Similar in appearance but of a different order of merit.

2010 Update: Lacking the premeditation of an original.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Abbott's Anni Mirabili

In thriving arts a long time had geography widely grown,
A broader world yet smaller, pettiness as expansive as a continent.
Vision decayed to a skeleton, the fragments of appetite shown,
The restless, banging bones of men and women made content.

Across the world, every nation like Iowa City become,
Aroused by idle speech, invisible omen, the smell of Maid Rite,
Armies fighting, not with sword or spear but objection to some
Shaded insult shared at home, every home, against the alien in flight.

Was it not for signs and wonders that the lord of hosts made me?
Was it not for maps? Googled maps? Long, long essays and maps?
Was it not to count the primary exports and to name each tree?
Was I not placed here, and Kathmandu and West Branch to bring justice between naps?

Aye, I am slave to nobody, master of all and victim of a very several few.
This is my year. You will hear from me and see me this year.
You will receive my books in boxes and unburden yourself as I do.
This will be a year remembered, carefully annotated without fear.

I see the world, from cacao orchards among the Yoruba and in Java
To the fishing boats behind Coralville dam and the puppies following men
Yipping in tongues of Hausa and Swahili and Czech and Ali Baba,
I draw the whole of habitable land and drillable sea and name it twenty-ten.

GEOGRAPHY, n. The study of the fixed Earth's moving parts.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


CURSE, v.t. Energetically to belabor with a verbal slap-stick. This is an operation which in literature, particularly in the drama, is commonly fatal to the victim. Nevertheless, the liability to a cursing is a risk that cuts but a small figure in fixing the rates of life insurance.

2010 Update: To summarize in a single profanity, or string of profanities, the unabridged contents of an illustrated technical manual.

Monday, March 01, 2010


CUSTARD, n. A detestable substance produced a malevolent conspiracy of the hen, the cow and the cook.

2010 Update: The reproductive process, sweetened and baked.