Friday, August 31, 2007


EVOLUTION, n.  The process by which the higher organisms are gradually developed from the lower, as Man from the Assisted Immigrant, the Office-Holder from the Ward Boss, the Thief from the Office-Holder, etc.

2007 Update:  The science in which the various things that swim, creep, walk and grow on vines are named superior to their predecessors.  Spin-the-bottle, as played by scientists.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


EGOTIST, n. A person of low taste, more interested in himself than in me.

Megaceph, chosen to serve the State
In the halls of legislative debate,
One day with all his credentials came
To the capitol's door and announced his name.
The doorkeeper looked, with a comical twist
Of the face, at the eminent egotist,
And said: "Go away, for we settle here
All manner of questions, knotty and queer,
And we cannot have, when the speaker demands
To be told how every member stands,
A man who to all things under the sky
Assents by eternally voting 'I'."

2007 Update:  A slow-footed servant.
7:15 A.M. Update:  A butterfly seeking a book deal.

Gather 'round children and listen to me
For I offer a warning against vanity
In my house on the hilltop, a tall mirror stands
For my image alone to be shown to my fans.
I hired a butler to be trained by the maid
For my comfort, not his, he was to be paid.
But I caught him at my mirror, adjusting his tie.
When pride fills your wings, better know how to fly.
Humbly, I hung this egotist from the rafter
And I tell you this story for caution and laughter.

-from My Diary

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


To an abandoned mining town,
Southwest of Nye County
A man came to avoid the crowd
And elude a public bounty.

There stood a shambled dairy.
But where he built his lair,
Was a run down cemetery
Where the man campaigned for mayor.

"For though your prospects came to harm
I swear I've heard your pleas
I'll bear arms against the worm 
And educate the fleas.

"Although your time might have passed
And the reward been won for most
There's no excuse for earthly taxes
Levied on a ghost.

"Though Carson City threatens woe
Against our community,
When I'm mayor of Palmetto
We'll choose our destiny."

He campaigned long and promised bold,
But there's no mayor in that town.
For though the dead endorsed him cold,
The unions turned him down.
-Colonel Fremont

HUSTINGS, n. pl.  The stump of a perfectly good hanging tree.

More to the point, the happiest of birthdays to DDDragon!  I'll have a kit kat or something in your honor.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007


EDITOR, n. A person who combines the judicial functions of Minos, Rhadamanthus and Aeacus, but is placable with an obolus; a severely virtuous censor, but so charitable withal that he tolerates the virtues of others and the vices of himself; who flings about him the splintering lightning and sturdy thunders of admonition till he resembles a bunch of firecrackers petulantly uttering his mind at the tail of a dog; then straightway murmurs a mild, melodious lay, soft as the cooing of a donkey intoning its prayer to the evening star. Master of mysteries and lord of law, high-pinnacled upon the throne of thought, his face suffused with the dim splendors of the Transfiguration, his legs intertwisted and his tongue a-cheek, the editor spills his will along the paper and cuts it off in lengths to suit. And at intervals from behind the veil of the temple is heard the voice of the foreman demanding three inches of wit and six lines of religious meditation, or bidding him turn off the wisdom and whack up some pathos.

O, the Lord of Law on the Throne of Thought,
A gilded impostor is he.
Of shreds and patches his robes are wrought,
His crown is brass,
Himself an ass,
And his power is fiddle-dee-dee.
Prankily, crankily prating of naught,
Silly old quilly old Monarch of Thought.
Public opinion's camp-follower he,
Thundering, blundering, plundering free.
Respected contemporaree!
—J.H. Bumbleshook

2007 Update:  A terse macaw among long-winded owls.  

Monday, August 27, 2007


EEXPECTATION, n.  The state or condition of mind which in  the procession of human emotions is preceded by hope and followed by despair.

2007 Update:  The pastoral battlefield in which the unknown overrun the forgotten, where fools become officers and wise men, cowards.

...and TLP is first.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The Ugliest Drowned Man in The World

Episode 34 of 40 in The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic. Thanks to Heirs Without Hairs for this week's reading.

To hear the story, listen good.

This week, in The Prattler,
"The Lonesome Life of Jose Padilla. "

To read the story, throw away your bowl.
Ah, and I should probably announce that there remains one (1) episode left unassigned. If you've been on the fence about reading, speak now or hold your peace until we maybe do something like this again next year.

Friday, August 24, 2007

King's Evil

KING'S EVIL, n. A malady that was formerly cured by the touch of the sovereign, but has now to be treated by the physicians. Thus "the most pious Edward" of England used to lay his royal hand upon the ailing subjects and make them whole —

a crowd of wretched souls
That stay his cure: their malady convinces
The great essay of art; but at his touch,
Such sanctity hath Heaven given his hand,
They presently amend,

as the "Doctor" in Macbeth hath it. This useful property of the royal hand could, it appears, be transmitted along with other crown properties; for according to "Malcolm,"

'tis spoken
To the succeeding royalty he leaves
The healing benediction.

But the gift somewhere dropped out of the line of succession: the later sovereigns of England have not been tactual healers, and the disease once honored with the name "king's evil" now bears the humbler one of "scrofula," from scrofa, a sow. The date and author of the following epigram are known only to the author of this dictionary, but it is old enough to show that the jest about Scotland's national disorder is not a thing of yesterday.

Ye Kynge his evill in me laye,
Wh. he of Scottlande charmed awaye.
He layde his hand on mine and sayd:
"Be gone!" Ye ill no longer stayd.
But O ye wofull plyght in wh.
I'm now y-pight: I have ye itche!

The superstition that maladies can be cured by royal taction is dead, but like many a departed conviction it has left a monument of custom to keep its memory green. The practice of forming a line and shaking the President's hand had no other origin, and when that great dignitary bestows his healing salutation on

strangely visited people,
All swoln and ulcerous, pitiful to the eye,
The mere despair of surgery,

he and his patients are handing along an extinguished torch which once was kindled at the altar-fire of a faith long held by all classes of men. It is a beautiful and edifying "survival" — one which brings the sainted past close home in our "business and bosoms."

2007 Update:  An illness the remedy of which was the touch of the sovereign, which is now known to be the bacillus of poverty and sloth.

Thursday, August 23, 2007


KRISHNA, n.  A form under which the pretended god Vishnu became incarnate.  A very likely story indeed.

2007 Update:  An ox-herder who was born a deity and conquered demons to become a prince of men.  This remains the standard political biography, except that in modernity the demons are consulted instead.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


When we consider the human condition
We might fear we've become inorganic,
Preparing our blogs' latest edition
And typing through our social panic.

From the forest we've come and to daisies we go.
Like veggies, we strive in between.
A GPS system and keyless car doors
Come complete when we try to go green.

Fruit can be found in trees and on vines.
Fruit can be found on store-shelves.
The sour, young lemon is found in the lines
That poets still write to themselves.

So it's not that man's nature has been suppressed
And it's not that our future won't fit us.
When you wake up and before you get dressed
Tell yourself "I am good enough citrus!"

NUT, n.  The fruit of either a tree or the land of the free.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007


KILL, v.t.  To create a vacancy without nominating a successor.

2007 Update:  To provide a satisfying answer to the question "why?" 

Monday, August 20, 2007


KILT, n. A costume sometimes worn by Scotchmen in America and Americans in Scotland.

2007 Update: A skirt worn by men to display tribal pride.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

The Philosopher's Apples

Episode 33 of 40 in The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic.  Thanks to the Golden Heirloom Fruit of The Delta Association of South Carolina for providing this week's reading.

To hear the story, listen to your inner fruit.

The Prattler is back.

To read the story, get into Diogenes' head

Friday, August 17, 2007


FINANCE, n.  The art or science of managing revenues and resources for the best advantage of the manager.  The pronunciation of this word with the i long and the accent on the first syllable os one of America's most precious discoveries and possessions.

2007 Update:  The debt of an expert.  The coins that cover lees in the bottom of a styrofoam cup.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


FORBIDDEN, p.p.  Invested with a new and irresistible charm.
2007 Update:  Found complex by the simple, gay by the sober, unjust by the nervous or alive by the noble.
Forbidden fruit, you'll know, my son,
By the pips you spit out once you've done.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

The Discretion Of A Plague

Gather 'round children and hear a ditty
How Pestilence at last learned pity
From a tender crowd of politicians
Or patience, at least, in his mission.

For once upon a warm, damp night,
On blackest horse, with skin of white
A horseman of apocalypse
Stopped off to drink or, maybe, piss.

The bar he chose was in D.C.
And Democrats were on T.V.
Engaged in a debate.
Four horsemen bring the Earth its fate.
For petty grievance, here were eight.

One proclaimed compassion
For the poor and the dirty
The next swore firm action
To defend our liberty
One expressed frustration
At injustice by race
The next claimed administration
Of competence and taste.
And on and on the candidates prattled
Until The Plague's dry bones were rattled.

By the time the horseman drained his beer
He forsook his call for now and here
As he put his work up on a shelf,
In rasping voice he told himself:

"Though Satan's fire burn eternally,
It shan't outsmoke democracy.
And though I'd come to spread corruption
I see no point in interruption."

PESTILENCE, n. Any corruption of the flesh unexplained by the neighbor's sin.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Free Trade

FREE-TRADE, n.  The unrestricted interchange of commodities between nations-not, it must be observed, between states or provinces of the same nation.  That is an entirely different thing, so we are assured by those who oppose free-trade, although wherein the difference consists is not altogether clear to anybody else.  To all but those with the better lights it seems that what is the sauce for the goose is sauce for any part of the goose, and if a number of states are profited by exclusion of foreign prodcts, each would be benefited (and therefore all prosper) by exclusion of the products of others.  To these benighted persons, too, it appears that if high duties on imports are beneficial, their absolute exclusion by law would be more beneficial; and that the former commercial isolation of Japan and China must have been productive of the happiest results to their logical inhabitants, with the courage of their opinions.  What defect the protectionist sees in that system he has never had the goodness to explain- not even their great chief, the unspeakable scoundrel whose ingenious malevolence invented that peerless villainy, the custom house.  See PROTECTION.

2007 Update:  A policy protecting sovereignty for the milk-pail against the tyranny of cows.

A patriot rose from his good lunch,
And denounced to the crowd at the diner,
The foreign tortilla, the alien waiter
And the sauce made from a Peruvian minor.

The crowd rose up and roared with approval
Then returned to the bread and the feast
While the wheat might come from overseas
Our brothers are there in the yeast.

Monday, August 13, 2007


FREE-SCHOOL, n. A nursery of American statesmen, where, by promoting the airy flight of paper wads, they are interested into the parliamentary mysteries of hurling allegations and spittoons.

2007 Update: The essential institution of a democratic society, where young tyrants labor in freedom under the authority and tutelage and according to the rules of an older one.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

The Old Woman And The Sea

Episode 32 of The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic.

To hear the story, say hello to the little crone.

The Prattler will be back next week, I'm practically certain.

Read the story and dog-paddle with Diogenes

Friday, August 10, 2007


LEAGUE, n. A union of two or more parties, factions or associations for promoting some purpose, commonly nefarious.

2007 Update: An association that is born from a common challenge, survives by mutual frustration and finally proves that the causes of misery also love company. The natural form is called committee, the synthetic variation is conjugation and in myth the league is represented by the toothsome monster, Conspiracy. Each version causes floods and riots, usually.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


LEVIATHAN, n. An enormous aquatic animal mentioned by Job. Some suppose it to have been the whale, but that distinguished ichthyologer, Dr. Jordan, of Stanford University, maintains with considerable heat that it was a species of gigantic Tadpole (Thaddeus Polandensis) or Polliwig — Maria pseudo-hirsuta. For an exhaustive description and history of the Tadpole consult the famous monograph of Jane Potter, Thaddeus of Warsaw.

2007 Update: The monster in whose belly the prophet Jonah agreed to a time-share in Ninevah.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The Lioness and the Coyote

Once upon a time, a lioness had a coyote cornered and the coyote pled his case.
"Behold!" said the coyote, "do we not both hunt for our prey?  do we not both live in open country?  Of course we do!  We are both sometimes social and often solitary.  I have to say, there's a little bit of lion in me and there must be some coyote in you."
"Indeed," said the lioness.  "Quite a bit, actually," as she began with his liver.
Moral:  Politics makes for fine dining.
REALPOLITIK, n.  A throat with no tongue behind teeth without lips.

Happy birthday, Mama!  See you this afternoon.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


LAUGHTER, n.  An interior convulsion, producing a distortion of the features and accompanied by inarticulate noises. It is infectious and, though intermittent, incurable. Liability to attacks of laughter is one of the characteristics distinguishing man from the animals — these being not only inaccessible to the provocation of his example, but impregnable to the microbes having original jurisdiction in bestowal of the disease. Whether laughter could be imparted to animals by inoculation from the human patient is a question that has not been answered by experimentation. Dr. Meir Witchell holds that the infection character of laughter is due to the instantaneous fermentation of sputa diffused in a spray. From this peculiarity he names the disorder Convulsio spargens.

2007 Update:  The sword of a bore, shield of a ninny, the dagger in a lover's hand and the horn of a hippopotamus.  "Eureka," at the discovery of fool's gold.

A stranger laughed beneath my wall
So I asked him tell his story
He said he'd taken Adam's fall
And that same path to glory

"My pride, it got the best of me
and my wisdom left me dry
Moved by curiosity,
I took to drink, wander and lie.

"I've lost my home and my direction
My job, my love, my bearing.
Where my fist once held insurrection
It's empty now of all but caring.

"The Earth's a swamp and I am mired
No rope to climb nor room to wiggle."
"Then why do you laugh?" I inquired.
"Because otherwise, I'd giggle." 

Monday, August 06, 2007


LAND, n. A part of the earth's surface, considered as property. The theory that land is property subject to private ownership and control is the foundation of modern society, and is eminently worthy of the superstructure. Carried to its logical conclusion, it means that some have the right to prevent others from living; for the right to own implies the right exclusively to occupy; and in fact laws of trespass are enacted wherever property in land is recognized. It follows that if the whole area of terra firma is owned by A, B and C, there will be no place for D, E, F and G to be born, or, born as trespassers, to exist.

A life on the ocean wave,
A home on the rolling deep,
For the spark the nature gave
I have there the right to keep.

They give me the cat-o'-nine
Whenever I go ashore.
Then ho! for the flashing brine —
I'm a natural commodore!


2007 Update:  v.i.  To transfer from an ocean-faring or sky-cruising conveyance filled with pestilence to a terrestrial station full of hope.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

The Philosopher King

Episode 31 of The Meditations of Diogenes The Cynic.

To hear the story, come to the courtyard.

The Prattler is still stuck.

Read the story to the army

Friday, August 03, 2007


BLUBBER, n. The part of a whale which is to that creature what beauty is to a woman-the thing for which it is pursued.
During his last illness a dose of some kind of oil was administered to him by mistake, whereupon one of the ladies of his household began to weep. Some one attempting to comfort her, "Never mind," said the patient; "I've had my oil; let her have her blubber."
Unpublished memoirs of the late John B. Felton

2007 Update: Nature's instrument for teaching man art.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Book Learning

BOOK LEARNING, n. The dunce's derisive term for all knowledge that transcends his own impenitent ignorance.

2007 Update: The method of education that teaches the art of fraud and the science of forgery.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Rabbit, rabbit

Two Rabbits

Once upon a time, there were two rabbits hoppity-hopping across a glade. "If I were quicker," the first one told the second one, "No predator would ever catch me."

"And if I had bigger teeth," answered the second one, "I would eat coyotes."

Moral: A wish is the second of half of a gift.

YEARN, v.i. To indulge the appetite for hunger.