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 cafĂ© 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!