Monday, December 31, 2007


ABATTOIR, n. A place where cattle slaughter kine. It is commonly placed at some distance from the haunts of our species, in order that they who devour the flesh nay not be shocked by the sight of blood.

2007 Update: In the United States, an edifice of civilization and wisdom where immigrant labor is valued above native grazers.

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part XI

"The Beowulf of Wedding Planning" -Actonbell

To hear a story, ask for directions.

And thank you all for your patience.

If you want to read the story, come to the Zambezi estuary.

Friday, December 28, 2007


OUTCOME, n. A particular type of disappointment. By the kind of intelligence that sees in an exception a proof of the rule the wisdom of an act is judged by the outcome, the result. This is immortal nonsense; the wisdom of an act is to be judged by the light that the doer had when he performed it.

2007 Update:  Any occurrence that causes counting.

Thursday, December 27, 2007


OVERWORK, n.  A dangerous disorder affecting high public functionaries who want to go fishing.

2007 Update:  An agonizing stress upon the carpal tunnel, sciatic structure, kiester or vocal chords due to the application of effort in excess of 2.2 foot-pound-hours per joule of complaint or carat of compliment.  Insufficient overpayment.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

Now the toys are all broken and the gift cards forgotten.
The little ones' spirits have soared then grown rotten.
The men have all congratulated each other
For choosing the perfect tree to bring the wrong mother.
The women now glow with the light spirits bring
To those who raise glasses instead of their offspring.
Though the the family be tattered and righteousness faded
Each dawn smiles a new Christmas on the grouchy and jaded.

REJUVENATE, v.  To corrupt next door.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


OPTIMISM, n. The doctrine, or belief, that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly, everything good, especially the bad, and everything right that is wrong. It is held with greatest tenacity by those most accustomed to the mischance of falling into adversity, and is most acceptably expounded with the grin that apes a smile. Being a blind faith, it is inaccessible to the light of disproof — an intellectual disorder, yielding to no treatment but death. It is hereditary, but fortunately not contagious.

2007 Update:  Fatalism with lowered expectations.

Merry Christmas* to all, and may all your Christmas wishes be granted modestly.

*To those who may be uncomfortable with Christmas and Christmas blessings, I wish a day of holiness and rich blessing appropriate to your own faith or rationale, in the spirit of Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2007


OBSOLETE, adj. No longer used by the timid. Said chiefly of words. A word which some lexicographer has marked obsolete is ever thereafter an object of dread and loathing to the fool writer, but if it is a good word and has no exact modern equivalent equally good, it is good enough for the good writer. Indeed, a writer's attitude toward "obsolete" words is as true a measure of his literary ability as anything except the character of his work. A dictionary of obsolete and obsolescent words would not only be singularly rich in strong and sweet parts of speech; it would add large possessions to the vocabulary of every competent writer who might not happen to be a competent reader.

2007 Update:  Able to inspire hope in the aged or love in an engineer.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part X

"The Beowulf of Wedding Planning" -Actonbell

To hear the story, consult your neighborhood seamonster.

If you want to read the story, please wear your personal floatation device.

Friday, December 21, 2007


RAMSHACKLE, adj. Pertaining to a certain order of architecture, otherwise known as the Normal American. Most of the public buildings of the United States are of the Ramshackle order, though some of our earlier architects preferred the Ironic. Recent additions to the White House in Washington are Theo-Doric, the ecclesiastic order of the Dorians. They are exceedingly fine and cost one hundred dollars a brick.

2007 Update: In the fashion of every pious scold's childhood home and each bon vivant's current night's lodging.

N.B.  The magnificent Jenn is finding hotel deals for Chicago in March and posting them in the comments at Barncrawling.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


RECOLLECT, v. To recall with additions something not previously known.

2007 Update:  To re-harvest a field, hoping for a taller crop.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Another Curmudgeonly Christmas

Let the sleigh bells ring, children listen!
The snow may fall and ice may glisten
But unless you little scamps repent,
Santa doesn't owe you one red cent.

If Hygeia brought presents, your slovenly smell
Would drive her back up the chimney and into the well.
If Saint Peter were to judge you now by your acts,
He'd unharness the reindeer and strap you to the rack
And Erato, once hearing those lame songs you play
Would give your iPod to an old man and just drive away.

But it's Santa brings Christmas, and he who keeps score.
He can't doubt that you're criminals, each to the core.
Through cold winter storm, yet, should he ride
To bring some glad tidings to the rotten inside?
Lucky then, for you, on the night that he sleds,
Through the din of your whining, he can't count in his head.

BAD, adj. Under 20.

Ho, Ho, Ho!  Seasons Greetings to you and yours, misfits!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


RETALIATION, n.  The natural rock upon which is reared the temple of law.

2007 Update:  A reaction to an anticipated assault.

Monday, December 17, 2007


REALITY, n. The dream of a mad philosopher. That which would remain in the cupel if one should assay a phantom. The nucleus of a vacuum.

2007 Update: The coy mistress of poetry, red in fang and claw.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part IX

"The Beowulf of Wedding Planning" -Actonbell

To hear the story, let this reprobate whisper in your ear.

If you want to read the story, come into the shade.

For any who missed the news yesterday, there are a small number of new details for the Chicago gathering up at Barncrawling.

Friday, December 14, 2007


HYENA, n. A beast held in reverence by some oriental nations from its habit of frequenting at night the burial-places of the dead. But the medical student does that.
2007 Update:  An animal which has evolved beyond discrimination in its dietary and sexual practices, combining the timidity of the raccoon with the scruples of Paris.  Native to Africa, Europe and Asia, the hyena was imported to North America, where it thrives today in the production of entertainment and as judges.
Above, when curmudgeons go good

Left, see a difference?

On t'other hand, there is a new post up about the great gathering of hermits in Chicago in March.  If you're interested go here.

You're only as old as you feel, Jim- when you're a truck

I have driven this '51 binder coast-to-coast and back twice without maps, plans or spare parts.  The ignition was jerry-rigged outside of Louisville and the brake system was a set of dumbells I'd toss out the door under the wheels between Eastern Nebraska and Denver.  A highway patrolman pulled me over just before I crossed the Mississippi near Moline and offered to buy her.  Another pulled me over near Vail and threatened to arrest me for driving her.  She's got a three-on-the-tree transmission and a positive-ground 6 volt electric system and plenty of room to turn a wrench under the hood.  She lives here now where she provides a café for squirrels when my grapes are ripe.

ENGINEERING, n.  Unrefined ore awaiting the tinkerer's torch.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


HYPOCHONDRIASIS, n. Depression of one's own spirits.

Some heaps of trash upon a vacant lot
Where long the village rubbish had been shot
Displayed a sign among the stuff and stumps —
Hypochondriasis." It meant The Dumps.
Bogul S. Purvy

2007 Update: A complex psychological condition caused by poor digital diet, environmental pathogens such as Infoococcus wikiensis, Spiro googlegaster and Insomnial psychophagia.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


The only things that never change
Are comfort food, drink and the pupal stage.
As you prepare to meet the new
Here's a guide for what to do:
Change can be managed by attrition,
Says the paper's short edition,
Or enjoyed by those upon the ocean
As long as there's not too much motion.
It's healthy now and then to shed,
Or molt or shave or give up bread.
Epiphany came to the walrus,
The Manson clan and Saul of Tarsus,
But real change comes without warning,
When we wake up every morning.

CHRYSALIS, n.  The static stage in the life cycle of a butterfly, symbolizing change. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


HUNGER, n.  A peculiar disease afflicting all classes of mankind and commonly treated by dieting.  It is observed that those who live in fine houses have it the lightest.  This information in useful to chronic sufferers.

2007 Update:  Any appetite in its keen or acute state, which is to say, any appetite every other moment.  The father of all the muses.

Monday, December 10, 2007


HEAD, n. That portion of the human body which is supposed to be responsible for all the others. It is customary in some countries to remove it, and many have acquired great skill and proficiency in the art... [Bierce goes on to tell a story too long to be keyed in- Lazy, headless editor]

2007 Update: An auxiliary echo chamber for the mouth.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part VIII

"The Beowulf of Wedding Planning" -Actonbell

To hear the story, listen for the bird call.

Or read the story over a nice meal.

Friday, December 07, 2007


MISS, n. The title with which we brand unmarried women to indicate that they are in the market. Miss, Missis (Mrs.) and Mister (Mr.) are the three most distinctly disagreeable words in the language, in sound and sense. Two are corruptions of Mistress, the other of Master. In the general abolition of social titles in this our country they miraculously escaped to plague us. If we must have them let us be consistent and give one to the unmarried man. I venture to suggest Mush, abbreviated to Mh.

2007 Update: v.t.   To pine for fanciful forests while mowing the lawn.  To appreciate from a safe distance.

A note on holiday CDs:  The elvish assembly The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic box set has begun.  Some of you have emailed me addresses, the rest may still.  Because I am absent-minded and cluttered in mind and inbox, if you have sent an address, you might want to double check that I remember I've received it.  If you haven't sent an address, there will be no present from Santa (Clarita) under your tree this year unless you do.  My email, again: dpascover at mac dot com.

Thursday, December 06, 2007


MOLECULE, n. The ultimate, indivisible unit of matter. It is distinguished from the corpuscle, also the ultimate, indivisible unit of matter, by a closer resemblance to the atom, also the ultimate, indivisible unit of matter. Three great scientific theories of the structure of the universe are the molecular, the corpuscular and the atomic. A fourth affirms, with Haeckel, the condensation of precipitation of matter from ether — whose existence is proved by the condensation of precipitation. The present trend of scientific thought is toward the theory of ions. The ion differs from the molecule, the corpuscle and the atom in that it is an ion. A fifth theory is held by idiots, but it is doubtful if they know any more about the matter than the others.

2007 Update:  The largest form of matter able to pass a gossip undetected.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


On a lost continent, over the seas
Rose Vyzas, Purdy and Glumi:
Three tiny nations, lovely to see,
Well governed, enlightened and roomy.

Vyzas was ruled by good men of science
Who governed by tested predictions
And made peer review a form of alliance
As they defined and discouraged addictions.

Purdy was painted, house, office and dale
By artists, who served also as mayors,
No sin was considered beyond the pale,
In this land of sellers without payers.

In damp, sylvan Glumi, each house filled with prayer
And every citizen was a priest.
All the people were equal with creeds to declare
And sought to be chosen the least.

Though the island is sunken or mislaid, it seems,
The memory was handed down to me,
Of the righteous societies of malcontents' dreams:
Vyzas, and Purdy and Glumi.

SOFA, n.  The philosopher's throne. 

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


MALTHUSIASM, n.  An animated acceptance of the doctrines of Malthus.*

2007 Update:  Darwinsomeness,  hobbesacrity, swiftapalooza, populism.  Thomas Robert Malthus was a 19th Century English economist and the second of eight children who, upon noting the prevalence of progeny in impoverished homes, cast his suspicion on Fibonacci, an Italian mathematician and likely rogue.  In order to prevent a catastrophe of violence and malnourishment, Hobbes encouraged policymaking with an eye toward the barren deaths of poor and working people, reasoning that reducing the population of the poor would, ipso facto, reduce poverty generally as well as the number of criminals at a ratio of one to one, a reasonable conclusion that Marx would later reach regarding economists.  Malthus proposed infanticide, murder and prophylaxis be counted among virtues for which he is numbered among saints.   The controversy over Saint Malthus revolves principally around the matter of from which of the great religions he plagiarized his principle of selective salvation.

*The editor suspects his predecessor of having made this word up, perhaps to trap and cage populists.

Hear ye, hear ye! For those among you around long enough to know why this matters, the TV show "Extra" is supposed to have a segment on Schwartz Candies tonight.  Anybody know what channel or time that's on?

Monday, December 03, 2007


MONKEY, n. An arboreal animal which makes itself at home in genealogical trees.

2007 Update: A lesser, or average, primate. Homo Analogus.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part VII

"The Beowulf of Wedding Planning" -Actonbell

To hear the story, ask directions

To read the story, come to the Temple at Luxor

Rabbit Rabbit!

Friday, November 30, 2007


EFFECT, n. The second of two phenomena which always occur together in the same order. The first, called a Cause, is said to generate the other — which is no more sensible than it would be for one who has never seen a dog except in the pursuit of a rabbit to declare the rabbit the cause of a dog.

2007 Update:  The neighbor's contribution to events.

Happy Birthday to my blogmama and a little lately to our favorite raven!

Thursday, November 29, 2007


EXONERATE, v.t. To show that from a series of vices and crimes some particular crime or vice was accidentally omitted.

2007 Update:  To restore the accused to suspicion.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


A Senator and protegé
Were sitting in the park one day.
The old man's speech was topical
(Cigars made him philosophical.)
"My boy," the Senator proceeded
"I'll tell you how my work succeeded.
I worried for the working folk,
The jobs and wages for which I spoke
That were snuck out of our nation
Against the tide of immigration:"
Compassion for the common, see,
Bought me my nobility."

"Isn't competition good?" the lad replied
"For consumers and the worker's pride?"

"You miss the point," the elder scolded,
"To injury, we are beholded
Not to effort, nor to fortune
Nor to progress for our portion
But to the restless, troubled mob
That gives the Senator his job
Convince them that they have been cheated
And you'll never be defeated
Persuade them they've been robbed of pleasure,
And they'll buy your sympathy with treasure.

POPULISM, n.  The theory that the people are gullible, vulnerable, inferior and foolish and so must be sovereign.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007



A transient, horrible, fantastic dream,
Wherein is nothing yet all things do seem:
From which we're wakened by a friendly nudge
Of our bedfellow Death, and cry: "O fudge!"

2007 Update: Rusted eternity.

"To be or not to be?" asked he,
Answered the Danish ghosts' lobby:
"Living is without holiday,
To the dead being is more of a hobby."

Monday, November 26, 2007


EDIBLE, adj.  Good to eat and wholesome to digest, as a worm to a toad, a toad to a snake, a snake to a pig, a pig to a man and, a man to a worm.

2007 Update:  Bad to eat and unwholesome to digest.  Slow-moving.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part VI

Because A Thousand and One Nights Are Never Enough

To hear the story, listen to the voice of the desert

To read the story, read the signs left by four and twenty black birds.

"The Beowulf of Wedding Planning" -Actonbell

Friday, November 23, 2007


ACHE, v.i.  To act like the tomb of a cucumber.

2007 Update:  To suffer and discover ambition, or recover from the same.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


ABSTAINER, n.  A weak person who yields to the temptation of denying himself a pleasure.  A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially from inactivity in the affairs of others.
Said a man to a crapulent youth ; "I thought
You a total abstainer, my son."
"So I am, so I am," said the scapegrace caught-
"But not, sir, a bigoted one."
2007 Update: A good shepherd or a bad host.   A temptation for the epicurean.  See also: TEETOTALER.

Happy Thanksgiving and Blessed Indulgences
May the pious at your table choke on the wishbone

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


The calendar dictates that now is the time
To give thanks for life and its boons,
Such as clemency granted for some of our crimes,
And to pray that the others aren't discovered soon.

With family and friends, of whom we've spoken ill,
We gather at the table over bottle and hymn.
In fellowship, fondness, with pie on the sill,
We rejoice at the levity of the old hangman's limb.

For though we be rats, shrews, groundhogs or moles;
In our conduct, craven, cowardly and foul;
The aroma of yams now filling our holes
Blinds us to the shadow that's cast by the owl.

Just because we're petty, jealous and hateful
Doesn't have to mean we're ungrateful.
So tomorrow, give thanks for the good things you've found
Among all those you coveted all year around.

GRATEFUL, adj. In the first flush of future resentment.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


ALL, n.  Every single cent-except what you have kept out for yourself.

2007 Update:  Those in agreement.

1977 Update: Bud.

Monday, November 19, 2007


ADMONITION, n. Gentle reproof, as with a meat-axe. Friendly warning.
Consigned, by way of admonition,
His soul forever to perdition.
-                                                Judibras
2007 Update:  A fixative tic.  

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part V

Because A Thousand and One Nights Are Never Enough

To hear the story, listen to the trees.

To read the story, come to the mountains of Bactria.

A note on sound. I f the audio doesn't play, try a different browser. For some reason I can't play it in Safari but can in firefox. Weird, huh? Alchemy?

Friday, November 16, 2007


SMITHAREEN, n.  A fragment, a decomponent part, a remain. The word is used variously, but in the following verse on a noted female reformer who opposed bicycle-riding by women because it "led them to the devil" it is seen at its best:

The wheels go round without a sound —
The maidens hold high revel;
In sinful mood, insanely gay,
True spinsters spin adown the way
From duty to the devil!
They laugh, they sing, and — ting-a-ling!
Their bells go all the morning;
Their lanterns bright bestar the night
Pedestrians a-warning.
With lifted hands Miss Charlotte stands,
Good-Lording and O-mying,
Her rheumatism forgotten quite,
Her fat with anger frying.
She blocks the path that leads to wrath,
Jack Satan's power defying.
The wheels go round without a sound
The lights burn red and blue and green.
What's this that's found upon the ground?
Poor Charlotte Smith's a smithareen!

—John William Yope

2007 Update:  The first part that lasts, often, pride of purpose.

A high mountain once featured
The three holy creatures:
Courage, Wisdom and Piety climbing
Courage braved the fierce wind
Wisdom found strength within
And Piety fought the cold whining.

Halfway to the summit, the spirits' paths met
With half the day before the sun would set
Piety, the prince, said, offering to lead,
"Ascent is my vocation
If you seek elevation
Get behind, follow and keep up with me.

But Wisdom, the true, did proclaim
"Fate under her own name
Must have brought us as one to this trial
It should be good karma
And a little bit warmer
To be comrades as we face the last mile.

Courage, the mighty, had gone on ahead
And in a gallant voice, said,
As he looked down below at the plummet,
"Here among the fast winds
You two surely fit in
Will there be this much talk at the summit?"

The three never saw the top
For progress there stopped
As battle tore the three from the side
If you climb those same heights
You can hear on still nights
The laugh of their smithereen, Pride.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Scrap Book

SCRAP-BOOK, n. A book that is commonly edited by a fool. Many persons of some small distinction compile scrap-books containing whatever they happen to read about themselves or employ others to collect. One of these egotists was addressed in the lines following, by Agamemnon Melancthon Peters:

Dear Frank, that scrap-book where you boast
You keep a record true
Of every kind of peppered roast
That's made of you;

Wherein you paste the printed gibes
That revel round your name,
Thinking the laughter of the scribes
Attests your fame;

Where all the pictures you arrange
That comic pencils trace —
Your funny figure and your strange
Semitic face —

Pray lend it me. Wit I have not,
Nor art, but there I'll list
The daily drubbings you'd have got
Had God a fist.

2007 Update:  History as written by the losers.  A collection of misrepresentations, pieties, cherished irrelevancies, leaves of odd paper and assorted detritus gathered to answer future inquiries as to who, while begging the question why.  A blog manifest.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


One old cowboy was out one day driving a herd
With his boss, boss's son and dog named Dale.
The crew and kine moved, without moo, bark or word,
Easy, somber and slow down the trail.

A few dark clouds gathered and a chill filled the air
And the old cowboy pulled tight his serape.
The foreman pulled his hat low on his hair
But the young feller yelled at his pappy.

"I ain't paid for this crap and won't ride in a cyclone!"
Though no drops yet smote critter nor cowhand.
"We'll all die from lightning, damp butt and cold bone,
Or from drowning here, miles from plowed land."

The foreman said "Son..." but the boy kept on cussing
And Dale yipped for agreement or fun.
Coyotes yelped back, and the cows started fussing,
'Til some choice words put them to the run.

The trail was a tempest, though rain never came down,
The foreman was kilt trying to turn the stampede.
The boy fired his pistol trying to reach dad on the ground
'Til a bad shot dropped him from his steed.

Dale found a new home where they preach the LORD's glory,
And tend to his comfort and spirit.
The old man's still riding and telling this story
And it's funnier each time you hear it.

A line was cut off, a cowherd was lost, 
There's a lesson, if you're willing to barter:
Pour me some whiskey, and I'll tally the cost
Of mist on the cheek of a martyr.

STAMPEDE, n.  The disagreeable in harmony.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007


SAW, n. A trite popular saying, or proverb. (Figurative and colloquial.) So called because it makes its way into a wooden head. Following are examples of old saws fitted with new teeth.

A penny saved is a penny to squander.

A man is known by the company that he organizes.

A bad workman quarrels with the man who calls him that.

A bird in the hand is worth what it will bring.

Better late than before anybody has invited you.

Example is better than following it.

Half a loaf is better than a whole one if there is much else.

Think twice before you speak to a friend in need.

What is worth doing is worth the trouble of asking somebody to do it.

Least said is soonest disavowed.

He laughs best who laughs least.

Speak of the Devil and he will hear about it.

Of two evils choose to be the least.

Strike while your employer has a big contract.

Where there's a will there's a won't.

2007 Update:  A piece of evidence that while wisdom is native to the elderly, folly is eternal.  A fruit that ripened in the first garden which modernity cans for spread.

If time were a cloth to be stitched with delay,
And a penny in a pocket didn't rust or decay
And misfortune avoided those seeking self-help
And good fences raised properly my neighbor's whelp
Then we'd lay down our weapons and let slip our tools
And stare all day at the aged as leaders, not fools.
-Emil Gam

Monday, November 12, 2007


SHAFT, n. A cylindrical emptiness, which swallows much and vomits little. (See VIRGINIA CITY.)

2007 Update: The grave of a man whose longevity exceeds his ambition.

Thank you and happy Veteran's Day Holiday to those of you who served (including but not limited to lesbians and atheists;) Happy belated Armistice Day to the peacemakers; Alla'u'bah and happy Baha'u'llah's birthday to my Baha'i friends. And to the Bokononists among us, a good day.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part IV

Because A Thousand and One Nights Are Never Enough

To hear the story,listen to the old woman.

To read the story, look in the plant book of legend.

Friday, November 09, 2007


PERICARDIUM, n.  A sack of membrane covering a multitude of sins.

2007 Update:  A sheath installed by providence to defend the sincerity of the ribs.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


PURIFICATION, n.  A process that we hope to be beyond smelling range of, when it is applied to American politics.

2007 Update:  The wholesale substitution of new toxins for old poisons, such as replacing authoritarianism with populism or formaldehyde for blood. 

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Crowded Monastery

Once upon a time, two sacred abbas met in the desert of Egypt, where they had gone to avoid temptation. "The caves grow crowded," the young monk complained. "So many left the sinful village for purity, or to be hermits or seeking silence and stillness and come to these caves in the desert that our refuge has become a bustling, chaotic and lawless city of brothers. What are we to do?"

The older monk answered wisely, "hold elections."

CONSEQUENCE, n. An enemy of intention, neighbor to destiny and sister of a wish.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007


PARRICIDE, n.  A filial coup de grace whereby one is released from the fingering torments of paternity.

2007 Update:  A temporary evanescence of taciturn resentment and benign neglect, locally newsworthy.

I'm clerking a municipal election today so be cruel to each other while I'm gone.

Monday, November 05, 2007


PREDICAMENT, n.  The wage of consistency.

2007 Update:  A ballot booth before a believer.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part III

Because A Thousand and One Nights Are Never Enough

To hear the story, listen to the marigolds.

To read the story, click on the tiger lily and ask what's up.

Friday, November 02, 2007


LETTUCE, n. An herb of the genus Lactuca, "Wherewith," says that pious gastronome, Hengist Pelly, "God has been pleased to reward the good and punish the wicked. For by his inner light the righteous man has discerned a manner of compounding for it a dressing to the appetency whereof a multitude of gustible condiments conspire, being reconciled and ameliorated with profusion of oil, the entire comestible making glad the heart of the godly and causing his face to shine. But the person of spiritual unworth is successfully tempted to the Adversary to eat of lettuce with destitution of oil, mustard, egg, salt and garlic, and with a rascal bath of vinegar polluted with sugar. Wherefore the person of spiritual unworth suffers an intestinal pang of strange complexity and raises the song."

2007 Update: A frail cabbage of little worth and no ambition lacking the substance to be slaw. Also, a commendable head.

Thursday, November 01, 2007


LAST, n.  A shoemaker's implement, named by a frowning Providence as opportunity to the maker of puns.

Ah, punster, would my lot were cast,
Where the cobbler is unknown,
So that I might forget his last
And hear your own.
—Gargo Repsky

2007 Update: In loaves and lives, a heel.

The last shall be first and the first shall last
So we were taught to believe in the past
But latter observers, coming to their senses,
Find cause to be cautious toward future tenses.


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Reminiscence of a one-time goblin

When the world was young, and I a child
Both of us were pretty wild
We scared the nervous and the old
Behaving carelessly and bold
With menace, malice and mad valor
We gave the frail and wan new pallor.
We never feared the mossy trees,
Reptiles, spiders or disease
We didn't mind the call to war,
Blood or bile or wile or gore.
We didn't jump at sudden sounds
Or angry barks from sloppy hounds,
We horrified for help and health
With naught to love but fear itself.

Now ancient evil's smoothly worn
As dolorous new wrongs are born
As sorry fools grow rich and famous
When we charge, there's none can blame us.
When parents join in trick-or-treating
The wilderness must be retreating
And once the worst have been defrauded,
Our misbehavior is applauded.
So, middle-aged and tamed, you see,
We've come to fear longevity.

HALLOWED, p.p. Justified by fate.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


LEVELER, n.  The kind of political and social reformer who is more concerned to bring others down to his plane than to lift himself to theirs.

2007 Update:  Wisdom.

Happy birthday to Sister Aral Patricia

Monday, October 29, 2007


LACE, n. A delicate and costly textile fabric with which the female soul is netted like a fish.

The devil casting a seine of lace
(With precious stones 'twas weighted)
Drew it in to the landing place
And its contents calculated:

All souls of women were in that sack-
A draught miraculous, precious!
But ere he could throw it across his back
They'd all escaped through the meshes.

2007 Update: A delicate, transparent and interstitial cloth meant to represent the uprightness and sophistication of the wearer, bearer or bride, a service it fulfills admirably.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part II

Because A Thousand and One Nights Are Never Enough

To hear the story, sit by the board

To read the story, look over the Princess' shoulder

Friday, October 26, 2007


FREEMASONS, n. An order with secret rites, grotesque ceremonies and fantastic costumes, which, originating in the reign of Charles II, among working artisans of London, has been joined successively by the dead of past centuries in unbroken retrogression until now it embraces all the generations of man on the hither side of Adam and is drumming up distinguished recruits among the pre-Creational inhabitants of Chaos and Formless Void. The order was founded at different times by Charlemagne, Julius Caesar, Cyrus, Solomon, Zoroaster, Confucious, Thothmes, and Buddha. Its emblems and symbols have been found in the Catacombs of Paris and Rome, on the stones of the Parthenon and the Chinese Great Wall, among the temples of Karnak and Palmyra and in the Egyptian Pyramids — always by a Freemason.

2007 Update: One of the countless cabals, collusions and conspiracies usurping the right of the unaffiliated to enjoy majority rule.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


FEAST, n. A festival. A religious celebration usually signalized by gluttony and drunkenness, frequently in honor of some holy person distinguished for abstemiousness. In the Roman Catholic Church feasts are "movable" and "immovable," but the celebrants are uniformly immovable until they are full. In their earliest development these entertainments took the form of feasts for the dead; such were held by the Greeks, under the name Nemeseia, by the Aztecs and Peruvians, as in modern times they are popular with the Chinese; though it is believed that the ancient dead, like the modern, were light eaters. Among the many feasts of the Romans was the Novemdiale, which was held, according to Livy, whenever stones fell from heaven.

2007 Update:  A lush path to desert, as the stomach is the way to a man's heart.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The Price of Experience

What is the price of experience?  Do men buy it for a song?
Or for illuminated verse, unmetered, unrhymed and long?
Can wisdom be found in the apostrophe truncating
Cascading lines that wand'r contemplating?
Can a poem bridle life's urgent restrictions,
In hand-written text or illustrat'd editions?
No! For truth to emerge, it must puncture the skin
And grind down the slave from without, not within.
Wisdom is gain'd in forests, not of simile but trees.
But for song, sketch or haircut one can buy expertise.

CALLOUS, n.  Reality, metaphorically.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


FUNCTIONARY, n.  A person entrusted with certain official duties.  That great and good man, the late President Buchanan, once unluckily mentioned himself with commendable satisfaction as "an old public functionary."  The description fitted him like a skin and he wore it to his grave.  When he appeared at the Judgement Seat, and his case was called, the Recording Angel ran his finger down the index to the Book of Doom and read off the name: "James Buchanan, O.P.F."  "What does that mean?"  inquired the Court.  And with that readiness of resource which in life had distinguished it from a garden-slug, that truthful immortal part replied: "Oncommonly phaultless filanthropist."  Mister Buchanan was admitted to a seat in the Upper House.

2007 Update:  A mechanic general, charged with oiling certain gears of the civic machinery with ink.

Monday, October 22, 2007


FICKLENESS, n. The iterated satiety of an enterprising affection.

2007 Update: The collusion between an otter's spirit, a cat's heart and the imagination of man.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part I

Because A Thousand and One Nights Are Never Enough

To hear the story, click on the happy couple

To read the story, come to Persia

Need filler?  This ought to get us near to January and another shared story.

Friday, October 19, 2007


ROSE, n.  Same thing as a skunk.
A Rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

2007 Update: A source for attar, thorns and a potpourri of cliché.

Thursday, October 18, 2007


ROOMY, adj.  Hades.

2007 Update: Big enough to move about but too small for one more, as a hotel room, walk-in closet or the United States.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

To a dead British poet who assayed the veins of the human heart weighing lead and gold together

I envy not on any morn
The celebrants on papered grasses,
Extending toasts and raising glasses
While holding in their scorn.

I would not imitate, though able,
Those who laugh in ennui,
And gossip over sweetened tea
As if others' trysts set up the table.

Nor would I count those two as blest,
Who as one live out their days
Hand in hand and eyes in glaze,
The cloth of life, that in which they're dressed.

For the truth of living and its price
Is that no life can be lived fully
With heart so yoked and mind so gullied
One turns to poets for advice.

'Tis better to have lived alone
 Than to waste each hour twice.
-Elijah Serf Jenkins

BEATITUDE, n.  A blessing on the wanting.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007


RADICALISM, n.  The conservatism of to-morrow injected into the affairs of to-day.

2007 Update:  Ideology in an igneous id.

Monday, October 15, 2007


RACK, n. An argumentative implement formerly much used in persuading devotees of a false faith to embrace the living truth. As a call to the unconverted the rack never had any particular efficacy, and is now held in light popular esteem.

2007 Update:  That which inspires breakage in a pool hall.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Fate of The Fates

The Epilogue of The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic.

To hear the story, listen to the voice of fate.

To read the story, pull the thread.

Thank you all for sticking with this and making it such a good time. I'd like you all to have the 2-CD collection of readings by Christmasish time.  For that I need addresses which can be home, general delivery, your lawyer's office, the FBI Special Stalker Unit, etc. as long as the discs will reach you.  Email me at dpascover at mac dot com. 

If anyone would like to read the full story, if only to catch editorial mistakes, click here.

Friday, October 12, 2007


GRACES, n. Three beautiful goddesses, Aglaia, Thalia and Euphrosyne, who attended upon Venus, serving without salary. They were at no expense for board and clothing, for they ate nothing to speak of and dressed according to the weather, wearing whatever breeze happened to be blowing.

2007 Update:  Begging the pardon of someone not privileged to grant it.

Thursday, October 11, 2007


GUNPOWDER, n. An agency employed by civilized nations for the settlement of disputes which might become troublesome if left unadjusted. By most writers the invention of gunpowder is ascribed to the Chinese, but not upon very convincing evidence. Milton says it was invented by the devil to dispel angels with, and this opinion seems to derive some support from the scarcity of angels. Moreover, it has the hearty concurrence of the Hon. James Wilson, Secretary of Agriculture.

Secretary Wilson became interested in gunpowder through an event that occurred on the Government experimental farm in the District of Columbia. One day, several years ago, a rogue imperfectly reverent of the Secretary's profound attainments and personal character presented him with a sack of gunpowder, representing it as the seed of the Flashawful flabbergastor, a Patagonian cereal of great commercial value, admirably adapted to this climate. The good Secretary was instructed to spill it along in a furrow and afterward inhume it with soil. This he at once proceeded to do, and had made a continuous line of it all the way across a ten-acre field, when he was made to look backward by a shout from the generous donor, who at once dropped a lighted match into the furrow at the starting-point. Contact with the earth had somewhat dampened the powder, but the startled functionary saw himself pursued by a tall moving pillar of fire and smoke and fierce evolution. He stood for a moment paralyzed and speechless, then he recollected an engagement and, dropping all, absented himself thence with such surprising celerity that to the eyes of spectators along the route selected he appeared like a long, dim streak prolonging itself with inconceivable rapidity through seven villages, and audibly refusing to be comforted. "Great Scott! what is that?" cried a surveyor's chainman, shading his eyes and gazing at the fading line of agriculturist which bisected his visible horizon. "That," said the surveyor, carelessly glancing at the phenomenon and again centering his attention upon his instrument, "is the Meridian of Washington."

2007 Update:  The aspirations of men, in the dried and powdered form.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thinking Aloud

How do we measure an idea?
By whether it makes you wiser or freer?
By echoes rung from mumbling lips?
By boats afloat on questing trips?
By whether it can start a war?
By poetry and metaphor?
By destruction of our walls and fences,
Or inflation of pretenses?
By orators who take up the cause
And promulgation of new laws?
By if it gives your spirit wings
Or your pocket cash to spend on things?
Whatever thought quickens your blood,
If it gets through Congress, it's a dud.

FIRST PRINCIPLE, n.  An Afterthought.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007


GUILLOTINE, n. A machine which makes a Frenchman shrug his shoulders with good reason.

In his great work on Divergent Lines of Racial Evolution, the learned Professor Brayfugle argues from the prevalence of this gesture — the shrug — among Frenchmen, that they are descended from turtles and it is simply a survival of the habit of retracing the head inside the shell. It is with reluctance that I differ with so eminent an authority, but in my judgment (as more elaborately set forth and enforced in my work entitled Hereditary Emotions — lib. II, c. XI) the shrug is a poor foundation upon which to build so important a theory, for previously to the Revolution the gesture was unknown. I have not a doubt that it is directly referable to the terror inspired by the guillotine during the period of that instrument's activity.

2007 Update: A ruthless, efficient and democratic alternative to the electoral college or parliamentary procedure, although still far too kind.

A duke, despot, pasha or clown
Might well lose a head to the town.
But however truncated,
Tyranny's unabated,
Lost on the scaffold, found on the ground.

Monday, October 08, 2007


GUM, n. A substance greatly used by young women in place of a contented spirit and religious consolation.

2007 Update: The common term for the gingiva which restrain the tongue and project the incisors, enabling organized religion.

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Among The Olives

Episode 40 of 40 (plus an epilogue) in The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic.

To hear the story, come in among the olives.

Say "Goodbye," Philosopher.

Friday, October 05, 2007


BIGOT, n. One who is obstinately and zealously attached to an opinion that you do not entertain.

2007 Update: Someone who fails to recognize the inferiority of his own kind, as well.

Thursday, October 04, 2007


BOUNDARY, n. In political geography, an imaginary line between two nations, separating the imaginary rights of one from the imaginary rights of the other.

2007 Update:  The length and breadth of the national interest.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


The waves, they rose high,
The fog settled low
And a reef was scratching the keel
When the old Captain
Put down his pipe
And set back the remains of his meal.

"The voyage goes badly!"
The old captain bellowed,
"By mornin', this ship will be lumber.
"The compass is off,
The map is misplaced,
And the cabin boy couldn't be dumber."

"The cargo is poor
And we would be off course,
If our course, in the first place, were known.
The food has run thin
The water's grown thick
And the sails are too torn to be blown.

"The crewmen are drunk,
The officers, addled,
And if I'm once more to see Dover
Two choices I have:
Abandon the ship
Or mutiny and take her over."
-Adm. James L. Dobson, HMN

LEADERSHIP, n.  The maintenance of martyrdom.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007


BED, n.  A rack for the torture of the wicked; a citadel unfortified against remorse.

2007 Update:  The ferry that carries passion to the mill.

Monday, October 01, 2007


BALLOON, n.  A contrivance for larding the earth with the fat of fools.

2007 Update: A decoy daddy.

Rabbit rabbit

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Surveyor Looks Back

Episode 39 of 40 (plus an epilog) in The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic.

To hear the story, come just a little ways out of Tyre

Measure thoughtfully.

The Surveyor's Song