Tuesday, May 31, 2005


Reform, n. A campaign transparency, which is laid aside as soon as it has served its purpose.

2005 Update: The process of streamlining the Government's work by renaming the buildings where it is prevented. Origami with parchment.

Monday, May 30, 2005


Quorum, n. A sufficient number of members of a deliberative body to have their own way and their own way of having it. In the United States Senate a quorum consists of the chairman of the Committee on Finance and a messenger from the White House; in the House of Representatives, of the Speaker and the devil.

2005 Update: A parliamentary safeguard which forbids action until the number of participants insures inaction.


Saturday, May 28, 2005


Befriend, v.t. To make an ingrate.

2005 Update: To add to one's jurisdiction.

SPECIAL COMING ATTRACTIONS: "Egotist, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me." Thank you to Weirsdo of The Pansi Files for not being an egotist and writing your reviews of this site, Synchronicity of Indeterminacy and Tom & Icy. I think those authors would agree with me as to your generosity.

"Critic, n. A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him." Weirsdo, you are far too generous, incisive and articulate to be called a critic, but I'll plagiarize you if anyone asks me what this site is about. Enjoy your vacation, and I hope this site continues to please you.

P.S. Sorry about the gender confusion, it's Bierce not me.

SPECIAL MINI-REVIEW: I would like to share my experience reading The Pansi Files. I tracked back from one of the first comments left on this site. The Profile showed a garishly made-up plastic doll and contained a bio that Pansi had worked as a cheerleader, mom and exotic dancer and was 17, I had seen enough blogs to know that some people use dolls, cartoons, or celebrities in lieu of their picture and I read what I thought was a personal journal. When I read Pansi's files I let out a sincere "that's f***ed up." I continued reading and the posts included offhand comments about children run over by cars, husbands dying and the like. There were also references to Alabama and Florida. As a recovering Georgian, that allowed me to continue suspending my disbelief and to read on, mortified and thinking sanctimonious thoughts about how some people should not breed. When I finally got the context I threw my head back in a laughter that finally tapered off into "that's so brilliant...so brilliant."

Friday, May 27, 2005


Resolute, adj. Obstinate in a course that we approve.

2005 Update: Indifferent, insular and in charge.

Thursday, May 26, 2005


Longevity, n. Uncommon extension of the fear of death.

2005 Update: Greatness cut short.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


Injustice, n. A burden which of all those that we load upon others and carry ourselves is lightest in the hands and heaviest upon the back.

2005 Update: The prevailing sin of errant coins. Tails, e.g.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Lighthouse, n. A tall building in which the government maintains a lamp and the friend of a politician.

2005 Update: A state-owned source of illumination with a narrow beam that spins. The precursor to homeland security. Valued mainly by those at sea.

Monday, May 23, 2005


Cynic, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision.

2005 Update: An enthusiast of irony who weighing society's finds it wanting.

Saturday, May 21, 2005


Cemetary, n. An isolated suburban spot where mourners match lies, poets write at a target and stone-cutters spell for a wager. The inscriptions following will serve to illustrate the success attained in these Olympian games:

His virtues were so conspicuous that his enemies, unable to
overlook them, denied them, and his friends, to whose loose lives
they were a rebuke, represented them as vices. They are here
commemorated by his family, who shared them.

In the earth we here prepare a
Place to lay our little Clara.
Thomas M. and Mary Frazer
P.S. -- Gabriel will raise her.

2005 Update: The trysting place where our ambitions and abilities finally meet.

P.S. I took a cold yesterday. Consider today's post an extended whine.

Friday, May 20, 2005


Metropolis, n. A stronghold of provincialism.

2005 Update: A gathering place for hermits.

Thursday, May 19, 2005


Achievement, n. The death of endeavor and the birth of disgust.

2005 Update: Chaos, misconstructed or misconstrued.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005


Scriptures, n. The sacred books of our holy religion, as distinguished from the false and profane writings on which all other faiths are based.

2005 Update: Divine narrative from which objective truths are inferred and universal ones extrapolated.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005


Satiety, n. The feeling that one has for the plate after he has eaten its contents, madam.

2005 Update: The first step toward dissatisfaction.

Monday, May 16, 2005


Mayonnaise, n. One of the sauces which serve the French in place of a state religion.

2005 Update: The edible part of a salmon.

Saturday, May 14, 2005


Opportunity: A favorable occasion for grasping a disappointment.

2005 Update: The concurrence of a desire, the desired and a means for joining the two. For example, a thirsty traveler, an oasis in the desert and a stealthy cannibal.

Friday, May 13, 2005


Presentable, adj. Hideously appareled after the manner of the time and place.

In Boorioboola-Gha a man is presentable on occasions of ceremony if he have his abdomen painted a bright blue and wear a cow's tail; in New York he may, if it please him, omit the paint, but after sunset he must wear two tails made of the wool of a sheep and dyed black.

2005 Update: Wearing underwear, if at all, beneath one's clothes and smelling passably sober.

Thursday, May 12, 2005


Heaven, n. A place where the wicked cease from troubling you with talk of their personal affairs, and the good listen with attention while you expound your own.

2005 Update: A perfect world where sin remits and revenge forgets, the certainty of which alone can explain the behavior of heaven's adherents.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Poverty, n. A file provided for the teeth of the rats of reform. The number of plans for its abolition equals that of the reformers who suffer from it, plus that of the philosophers who know nothing about it. Its victims are distinguished by possession of all the virtues and by their faith in leaders seeking to conduct them into a prosperity where they believe these to be unknown.

2005 Update: The product of a rich imagination

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Cupid, n. The so-called god of love. This bastard creation of a barbarous fancy was no doubt inflicted upon mythology for the sins of its deities. Of all unbeautiful and inappropriate conceptions this is the most reasonless and offensive. The notion of symbolizing sexual love by a semisexless babe, and comparing the pains of passion to the wounds of an arrow -- of introducing this pudgy homunculus into art grossly to materialize the subtle spirit and suggestion of the work -- this is eminently worthy of the age that, giving it birth, laid it on the doorstep of prosperity.

2005 Update: A demon who torments by proxy.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Bigamy, n. A mistake in taste for which the wisdom of the future will adjudge a punishment called trigamy.

2005 Update: A household in which suspicion and disappointment are kept in separate ledgers.

Saturday, May 07, 2005


Advice, n. The smallest current coin.

2005 Update: The manner by which the idle share their wealth.

Friday, May 06, 2005


Emancipation, n. A bondman's change from the tyranny of another to the despotism of himself.

2005 Update: The point at which one's circumstances transition from the will of their parents and their own fault to the opposite state.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


Gallows, n. A stage for performance of miracle plays. in which the leading actor is translated to heaven. In this country the gallows is chiefly remarkable for the number of persons who escape it.

2005 Update: A public platform for the punishment of criminals and the entertainment of their conspirators. The gallows lost popularity in favor of rehabilitation which uses recyclable material and makes better television.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Man, n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earth and Canada.

2005 Update: One who makes up for wanting sensitivity by wanting servility.-Bill Barbour

Congratulations to everyone who entered the contest. Please look for another contest this summer.

Visit Bill's site at: http://comfortaddict.blogspot.com.

Other Great Contest Entries

The following are the other definitions of "Man" submitted by contestants. Many are gems and there's a lot more good writing at the sites listed. I may look for an offshore agency to judge the next contest.

Consolation Prize (A date with Pedant Ken):
Pansi: www.pansifiles.blogspot.com
“Uhm…a thingy?”

Other entries in order of receipt:
Indeterminacy: www.indeterminacy.blogspot.com/
Man, n. A creature whose greatest achievement is his own bewilderment. Through modern self-contained, self-operating gadgets which he can no longer understand, and which no longer need his understanding, he has surrendered his general competence and maneuvered himself into his own denouement. His last act will be to blame the French, whom he considers a foreign species responsible only for red wine and strange words in the English language.

Mrs. Weisdo: www.pansifiles.blogspot.com
“Man: A being who pursues his own passions in the name of a higher good.
Possessed of awesome technological powers, he will one day either
destroy the universe or master all but himself and, of course, woman.”

Daisy: www.pansifiles.blogspot.com
“Someone rich enough to support me in the style I deserve. That’s a real man.”

Mace: Link on Right
“Man (n.): A surface infection of the planet Earth. Probably terminal.”

Dommynicius: dommynicius_weird.blogspot.com
“Man n. A semi erectile creatue that has differing states of erectileness.
1) Just having fed ,or full..semi
2)watching tv with a beer ..quasi
3)Talking about cars,golf ,any sport .. half way
4) a night out with the lads .. fully (but useless)
5) forgetting wifes/girlfriends birthday .. doubled over in pain from a kick to the brain
Man adj. Yahoo term for missing an easy pot in pool
Man anc. Disfunct terminology for workers.. Binman, Postman, coalman .. have all been replaced by person.
Man vulgar slang. United or Manchunian”

Whym Rhymer: whymrhymer101.blogspot.com
Man, n. (see "Fool")
Man, n. The creator of God and enforcer of His Commandments.

Guardian Angel3: angelicthoughts3.blogspot.com
“That's simple.
Man = Da Guy with a peni[censored by editor] at least for the present
Go on...ask something more difficult”

Planet Moron: www.planetmoron.com
“Man, n. A creature who holds himself in such high regard that he is convinced that nothing less than an omnipotent all-powerful creator could possibly have fashioned a being so magnificent as he. Endowed with a universal certainty that only he knows the one true way, is constrained by each and every other member of the species holding equal certainty of the opposite and thus destined to squabble for eternity over matters of religion, politics and baseball.”

Rkip1865: www.kipling.org.uk
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Thanks to Karma (www.karmarules.blogspot.com) for assisting Rudyard with his entry.

Contest Comment

The contest was just a bunch of fun. I just might take a second job so I can do this quarterly. Thanks to everyone who entered. And thanks to Damone at the Ambrose Bierce Appreciation Society, Don Swaim at The Ambrose Bierce Site and Indeterminacy at The Synchronicity of Indeterminacy (All linked to at right) for their support. There have been an even dozen entries which include real gems. Two giants of literature, Rudyard Kipling and Karma Kewl (Karma's link is also on the right) even collaborated on an entry, which is humbling.

I hope everyone who entered had as much fun as I have. Watch for another contest this summer.


Patience, n. A minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue.

2005 Update: Hope's feeding tube.

Note: Look for the contest results around 4 PM, Californy time.

Tuesday, May 03, 2005


Zeal, n. A certain nervous disorder afflicting the young and inexperienced. A passion that goeth before a sprawl.

2005 Update: Urgent enthusiasm as is felt by Democrats toward the next election, Republicans for governing or a herd of frantic lemmings towards a precipice just yonder.

Monday, May 02, 2005


Teetotaler, n. One who abstains from strong drink, sometimes totally, sometimes tolerably totally.

2005 Update: Someone in whom the weakness for alcohol succumbs to the temptation of pride. This makes the teetotaler a member of that great class of humanity which opts for the deadly sin when a venal one is available.

Sunday, May 01, 2005


Thanks to all who have entered the contest, there were many excellent entries. If this were my day job, I'd be sending out resumes as we speak. Is anyone updating Ogden Nash?

Damone, the webmaster at The Ambrose Bierce Appreciation Society (permanent link on right) has graciously agreed to serve as co-judge and in respect to his time, the prize will be announced Tuesday or Wednesday.

Meanwhile, follow the link on the right. Damone's site has excellent biographical information on Bierce including the story of his mysterious disappearance in 1913 (which was the subject of the film Old Gringo,) as well as on contemporary staging, filming and criticism of his work.

One of my great pleasures since starting this site has been learning about Bierce's life and work, chiefly through Damone's and Don S.' (The Ambrose Bierce Site-link also on right) sites. They can only make me a better plagiarist.

A Contest


Yeehah. From now until Mayday, I am asking readers to write the 2005 Update for "Man." The author whose definition I select will receive a copy of "The Devil's Dictionary," on which this weblog is based, as well as The Complete Short Stories of Ambrose Bierce. The task is simple: Write a definition for Man which is funny and carries some of Bierce's dry irony. Then email it to me at dougpas@pacbell.net. To maintain suspense, I'd appreciate no entries in the comments section but since I myself have been known to follow instructions badly, comments there will be considered as well. It will be assumed that I have the right to publish anything anyone sends and make sure I have a way to contact you for a mailing address in case your entry is the selected prize winner.

The selections will (mostly-see below) all be published somewhere on the day the prize is announced.

The winner will be selected either at my sole discretion, or I may add a guest judge or two who know Bierce better than I do. The point is I am William Randolph Hearst, YOU are Ambrose Bierce.

One more rule, all are encouraged to enter but people I know in person are ineligible for the prize as I don't want to discuss at Thanksgiving why you didn't win unless I made the gravy myself.

A few helpful hints:
1. Entries containing profanity will be omitted, deleted, scorned and their authors placed under peril of sarcasm. "Son-of-a-bitch" is alright but probably not necessary.
2. Partisanship misses the point, and entries using proper names of people or parties will not win unless they're awfully funny and, probably, the only entry.
3. I don't always imitate Bierce in my posts and you don't have to in yours, but if I'm wavering between two or more, the one that sounds most like Bierce to me and the (currently imaginary) other judges will probably win.

So, with no further ado, here is Bierce's definition of "Man"

Man, n. An animal so lost in rapturous contemplation of what he thinks he is as to overlook what he indubitably ought to be. His chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species, which, however, multiplies with such insistent rapidity as to infest the whole habitable earth and Canada.

2005 Update: You tell me.