Thursday, May 31, 2007


JUSTICE, n. A commodity which is more or less adulterated condition the State sells to the citizen as a reward for his allegiance, taxes and personal service.

2007 Update: The name by which we call a priceless painting lost in a tragic accident on the freeway and taken by a tornado wafting safely and undamaged to rest at our feet, or else a foreign misfortune.

Happy birthday to Alice Cooper née Olivia!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Two Fables

The Macaw and The Bureau of Tourism

Once upon a time, a macaw with fine feathers was dispatched to greet visitors as they stepped off the boat in the port of a small island resort. The macaw was shiny, bright red and possessed a loud voice. The boat ride to the island was a long one and often delayed by storms or drunken captains. When the macaw's first assignment pulled into port two hours late, the bird shivered his beautiful plumage. When the gang plank was extended, the macaw hopped up on a bench and proclaimed himself as host and the island as San Bekaw. When the throng of cramped and tardy travelers bustled onto the dock, the macaw was crushed under the feet and trunks of the stampeding recreationalists.

Moral: In the great circle of leisure, each step is a new beginning. Or, no bird is an island.

The Coyote and The Grapefruit

Back in the days before genetic engineering, all grapefruit were yellow and the coyotes called them chickenfruit for their color and bitterness. One day, a coyote was running through an orchard and passed a grapefruit that had fallen early. The curious coyote pawed the delicacy for the coyote was moved that this grapefruit, alone in the orchard, had chosen the time of the coyote's crossing to deprive itself of foliage and height and join him on the ground. The coyote composed an ode to pioneers right there and then and sang it to the grapefruit.

When the song was over, the coyote told the grapefruit, "you and I, we aren't so different. Solitary and free, we choose our own course. You left your branch and I my pack and here and now we meet with no obligation to one another but forbearance and voluntary consideration. I will not eat you, friend. For although I am a hunter and you a fruit, we share a spirit."

Just then, a small mouse tittered nearby and the coyote dashed off to chase, kill and eat.

Moral: Poets see themselves in the silent.

POULTRY, Feathered expression.
CIRCUMSPECT, adj. Seedless.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


JEALOUS, adj. Unduly concerned about the preservation of that which can be lost only if not worth keeping.

2007 Update: Resentful of the merely envious.

Monday, May 28, 2007


JUDGE, n. A person who is always interfering in disputes in which he has no personal interest. An official whose functions, as a great legal luminary recently informed a body of local law-students, very closely resemble those of God. The latter, however, is not afraid to punish Chris. Buckley for contempt, and the former has attained no great distinction as the hero of popular oaths.

2007 Update: The wearer of the purse that makes a kangaroo court and the baffle that makes justice blind.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Fatal Attention

Episode 21 of The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic. Thanks to the Arctic Multinational Women's And Moriae's Association (AMWAMA) for this week's reading. And welcome, L.

Listen to the fates tell their story.

This week, in The Prattler, "BYOF."

Read the story on the loom

Friday, May 25, 2007


GOLD, n. A yellow metal greatly prized for its convenience in the various kinds of robbery known as trade. The word was formerly spelled "God"- the l was inserted to distinguish it from the name of another and inferior deity. Gold is the heaviest of all the metals except platinum, and a considerable amount of it will sink a man so much more quickly and deeply than platinum will that the latter is made into lifebelts and used as a lifting power for balloons. British gold, an imaginary metal greatly used in the manufacture of American traitors to the patriotic axiom that two and two are five.

2007 Update: A precious metal valued for its beauty, ductility and ease of gilding.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


GUILT, n. The condition of one who is known to have committed an indiscretion, as distinguished from the state of him who has covered his tracks.

2007 Update: The hammer, anvil and forge used to temper and shape the soul already on the hoof and in the lea.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


A young snow white horse, running loose on a hillside,
Nearly tripped on a lost little lamb.
White clouds crossed the heavens, and held up a rainbow
And the colt said "ain't the simple life grand?"

The lamb shook his woollen head and responded
"I wish I could find all my friends.
I've no-one to follow and I feel unbonded.
Is this anovie? When will it end?"

The colt raised his head and whinnied, majestic
"Why not learn to cherish the grace?
There are hillsides to gambol and streams to explore
And a big sky above filled with lace."

"To few it is offered," the happy horse added,
"To make solitary one's herd.
Where 'seldom' is heard, men have put up fences
For 'common' is what they've preferred."

The little lost lamb then looked up in wonder
For this wisdom had left him more addled,
"If freedom's the cure for a life put asunder
Then why are you wearing that saddle?"

Common, adj. Proud.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


GROAN, n. The language in which a Republican Federal officeholder expounds his view of the political situation.

2007 Update (as if necessary): Punditry by other means.

Monday, May 21, 2007


GARGOYLE, n. A rain-spout projecting from the eaves of mediaeval buildings, commonly fashioned into a grotesque caricature of some personal enemy of the architect or owner of the building. This was especially the case in churches and ecclesiastical structures generally, in which the gargoyles presented a perfect rogues' gallery of local heretics and controversialists. Sometimes when a new dean and chapter were installed the old gargoyles were removed and others substituted having a closer relation to the private animosities of the new incumbents.

2007 Update: Architectural evidence that the most pious and devoted medievel Christians still sought protection from pagans. The overhead powerpoint presentation of the Dark Ages.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

A Giant's Headache

Episode 20 of The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic.

To hear the story, drop a coin in the cup.

This week, in The Prattler, "Hitchens Is Not God."

Read the story, but try not to irritate Polyphemus, he's grumpy.

Friday, May 18, 2007


UGLINESS, n. A gift of the gods to certain women, entailing virtue without humility.

2007 Update: The inspiration for launching every ship that beauty capsizes. The heart's Scylla to desire's Charybdis.

Helen's beauty launched one thousand ships. Ugliness has launched a million since. -Herodotus

Thursday, May 17, 2007


USAGE, n. The First Person of the literary Trinity, the Second and Third being Custom and Conventionality. Imbued with a decent reverence for this Holy Triad an industrious writer may hope to produce books that will live as long as the fashion.

2007 Update: The linguistic conventions that distinguish local speech from provincial slang.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Oracle of Santa Clarita

To a lonely desert village, just outside of L.A.
Came a wanderer searching for meaning.
There was said to be an Oracle, far less rare today,
And two dogs to interpret the gleaning.

For the legend was written from sidebar to scaffold
That, without even charging a fee,
The magus was kind to the bitter and baffled
And a master of lexicography.

The journey was long and the way hard to follow
And mystery shrouded the labors.
For the pathway was bent like the flight of a swallow
And the house, it looked just like its neighbors.

But the seeker, at last, discovered the master
Sitting sagely beneath a broken tree
"Tell me, Oh wise one, for my life's a disaster,
What does it mean to live free?"

The oracle nodded his head, wise and kind
and spoke in a voice low and hoarse
"That is a verb, intransitive, and defined
'To elect one's slaveholder', of course."

And then the wise man rose with a flourish
And, turning his wise and kind head,
Pointed to the seeker and addressed the chorus
"If you don't mind, please explain what I said."

LIVE FREE, v.i. To elect one's slaveholder.
ORACLE, n. A prophetic lichen.
SEEKER, n. A rolling moss.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


UNDERSTANDING, n. A cerebral secretion that enables one having it to know a house from a horse by the roof on the house. Its nature and laws have been exhaustively expounded by Locke, who rode a house, and Kant, who lived in a horse.

His understanding was so keen
That all things which he'd felt, heard, seen,
He could interpret without fail
If he was in or out of jail.
He wrote at Inspiration's call
Deep disquisitions on them all,
Then, pent at last in an asylum,
Performed the service to compile 'em.
So great a writer, all men swore,
They never had not read before.
—Jorrock Wormley

2007 Update: adj. Able and available to empathize with oneself in the company of others. This differs from SENSITIVE, the ability to sympathize, in a manner neither the empathetic nor the sympathic, nor those who use such words in conversation would understand or honor in any case. Tender hearted muttonheads!

Monday, May 14, 2007


URBANITY, n. The kind of civility that urban observers ascribe to dwellers in all cities but New York. Its commonest expression is heard in the words, "I beg your pardon," and it is not consistent with disregard of the rights of others.

The owner of a powder mill
Was musing on a distant hill —
Something his mind foreboded —
When from the cloudless sky there fell
A deviled human kidney! Well,
The man's mill had exploded.
His hat he lifted from his head;
"I beg your pardon, sir," he said;
"I didn't know 'twas loaded."

2007 Update: The fashion of those influenced by vulgar neighbors to defy convention.

Saturday, May 12, 2007


Episode 19 of The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic. Thanks to this weeks readers!

To hear the story, join the band.

This week, in The Prattler, "Glad Tidings."

To read the story, scold Diogenes.

For extra fun, here are some first tries at the recording, graciously donated by this week's readers. The first is a minute and a half and the next two around thirty seconds in length.

Friday, May 11, 2007


BANDIT, n. A person who takes by force from A what A has taken by guile from B.

2007 Update: The chief administrator of a transient bureaucracy.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


BEDLAM, n. A house whose inmates are all poets--"of imagination all compact."

2007 Update: A Lutheran church with a tardy pastor.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Another Fable

The Lawful Assembly
Once upon a time, a little chicken tried to cross the road and an acorn fell from a tree and hit him on the head. "The sky is falling!" the little chicken announced with great concern. The little chicken stood in the road yelling about the end of the world by plummeting atmosphere when a tiny young calf saw him. The calf joined the little chicken and mooed that today's youth had no morals. A baby rabbit hopped by and, curious, stopped to listen to the little chicken and the calf. The leveret decided to join and hopped on to the road where she chirped about the coyotes moving into the country without official sanction. A coyote pup howled the vigilanteism of the bobcats and a kitten complained that the tuna was tainted. A baby goat joined the others on the road and, among strangers, the kid complained that modern entertainments promoted head-butting. A baby scorpion without a single kill on his record complained that the world had grown so noisy, the muses could not reach him. A young colt gamboled up and nickered that modern farming techniques were eroding traditional hooven cultures and a baby squirrel argued that the acorn supply was being concentrated in the hands of the poultry.

Over time, the protest grew until a local parson, speeding up the road in his car saw the assembly that teemed across the road and realized he was barreling down upon a gathering of one of every animal that walks, creeps or crawls over the Earth. "Surely," he proclaimed, "this is a sign."

Moral: Traffic is actually worse when everyone agrees on the destination.

CIVIL DISOBEDIENCE, n. Collective alienation.

Magic Bean

Tuesday, May 08, 2007


BLUSHING, n. [SIC] A trick formerly in great favor with women, but now fallen into disuse as a lost art, though by laborious practice the modern damsel is still able to achieve it at the risk of being taken in hand and treated for apoplexy.

2007 Update: ger. Under the visible influence of truth or plague. Unelectable. Unpromotable. Incurable.

Monday, May 07, 2007


BIOGRAPHY, n. The literary tribute that a little man pays to a big one.

2007 Update: Reincarnation to a juster, more deferential world.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

A Persian Problem

Episode 18 of The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic. Thanks to this week's reader/instrumentalist.

To hear the story, kneel before Xerxes I.

This week in The Prattler (to be ready this evening,) "The Majority Myth."

To read the story, visit the Persian Empire.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Monarchical Government


2007 Update: A regime arranged on the principle that a single leader, anointed by birth, defended by the strong and advised by the learned, can support the local demand for folly.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


MESMERISM, n. Hypnotism before it wore good clothes, kept a carriage and asked Incredulity to dinner.

2007 Update: A suggestion bypassing reason on the way in and shame on the way out. A pre-emptive memory lapse.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Two Fables

The Rattlesnake and The Sunday School Teacher

One day, a Sunday School Teacher was walking home from Church when she came upon a rattlesnake, sunning itself in the road. The teacher was not frightened, for she knew that beyond the fangs of the snake was the comfort and protection of paradise. "Get thee behind me, Serpent!" she dictated. "Thou shalt not tempt me for I know whom it is I serve!"

The snake slithered off, looking for his own peace and a portion of a quiet and the Sunday School teacher walked on proudly and blithely ignorant of the buzz emanating from her own pocket. Upon her arrival at home, she took out her cell phone, never reading the instant message which read "thou shalt? u r old! lol."

Moral: Blessed are the scholars, for they shall be undisturbed.

The Armadillo and The Butterfly

Once upon a time, a chrysalis opened on the branch of a sagebrush by a highway near Las Cruces, New Mexico. The young butterfly blinked its beady little eyes at the sunlight and stretched out its beautiful wings.

"Do you mind? You're blocking my sun!" said an armadillo under the bush.

The butterfly put its wings together to free the sunlight and asked the armadillo, "Old dog, I have just left my cocoon and know little of the world and it's ways. What is the secret of your longevity?"

The armadillo answered "Only use doors that open both ways," as he rolled himself into his armor.

Moral: The Rio Grande Valley is a good place to come from.

Malthus, Thomas Robert 1766-1834; A British economist who predicted tribulation and upheaval from the stress of a population that grows faster than the pace of progress. Malthus is thought by modern economists to have erred in his calculations by not recognizing progress as the greater strain.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


MAD, adj. Affected with a high degree of intellectual independence; not conforming to standards of thought, speech and action derived by the conformants from study of themselves; at odds with the majority; in short, unusual. It is noteworthy that persons are pronounced mad by officials destitute of evidence that themselves are sane. For illustration, this present (and illustrious) lexicographer is no firmer in the faith of his own sanity than is any inmate of any madhouse in the land; yet for aught he knows to the contrary, instead of the lofty occupation that seems to him to be engaging his powers he may really be beating his hands against the window bars of an asylum and declaring himself Noah Webster, to the innocent delight of many thoughtless spectators.

2006 Update: Fixated on anachronisms such as eternity and evolution. After the fashion of a march hare in May.

Rabbit, Rabbit!