Monday, March 31, 2008


RITE, n. A religious or semi-religious ceremony fixed by law, precept or custom, with the essential oil of sincerity carefully squeezed out of it.

2008 Update: A mnemonic device that God is master, invoked in remembrance of the minister's ordination.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Unionville Chronicles

First Canto

To hear Weirsdo read the first Canto, click on the photo of Star Peak.

Read the first Canto at daybreak, click on the second picture.

If you would like the full text of Shahrazade's Wedding, click on the tapestry. Photo used without permission, rustled from Ariel/Ice Grapefruit who, apparently stole the photo from someone else. There is honor among thieves.

Friday, March 28, 2008


HEMP, n.  A plant from whose fibrous bark is made an article of neckwear which is frequently put on after public speaking in the open air and prevents the wearer from taking cold.

2008 Update: The fruit of the Righteous tree.

Thursday, March 27, 2008


HARBOR, n. A place where ships taking shelter from storms are exposed to the fury of the customs.
2008 Update: A shelter from the stormy sea among landed sailors, hopeful pickpockets, unreliable merchants, confused tourists, carnival barkers and the laws of men.

(Actonbell's request)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008


Once upon a time
In a strange land not far
A threat was foreseen
On TV o'er the bar.

There a man in bow tie,
With a voice like a chicken's
Made his oracle rise
Though the plot never thickened.

But there will come a day
Perhaps soon, perhaps not
When people will say
"He was right, whatsisname? I forgot."

LAMENTATION, n.  The despondent suspicion that you have been intemperate unluckily.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


HANDKERCHIEF, n. A small square of silk or linen, used in various ignoble offices about the face and especially serviceable at funerals to conceal the lack of tears. The handkerchief is of recent invention; our ancestors knew nothing of it and intrusted its duties to the sleeve. Shakespeare's introducing it into the play of "Othello" is an anachronism: Desdemona dried her nose with her skirt, as Dr. Mary Walker and other reformers have done with their coattails in our own day — an evidence that revolutions sometimes go backward.

2008 Update:  Civilization's own tiara, useful for incremental hygiene and strangulation, phonetically spelled and incorrectly pronounced according to custom.

Monday, March 24, 2008


HIPPOGRIFF, n. An animal (now extinct) which was half horse and half griffin. The griffin was itself a compound creature, half lion and half eagle. The hippogriff was actually, therefore, a one-quarter eagle, which is two dollars and fifty cents in gold. The study of zoology is full of surprises.

2008 Update:  A myth of antiquity manufactured from horse, lion and eagle equivalent to the contemporary mulipoodle, the issue of a topiary and a half-horse half-ass that wanders mercurially braying news, opinion and analysis.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part XXI

"The Beowulf of Wedding Planning" -Actonbell

You are invited to the wedding.

Next week begins The Unionville Chronicles.

Have some cake. Chill out.

Happy Easter and a fine weekend to all.

Friday, March 21, 2008


CERBERUS, n. The watch-dog of Hades, whose duty it was to guard the entrance — against whom or what does not clearly appear; everybody, sooner or later, had to go there, and nobody wanted to carry off the entrance. Cerberus is known to have had three heads, and some of the poets have credited him with as many as a hundred. Professor Graybill, whose clerky erudition and profound knowledge of Greek give his opinion great weight, has averaged all the estimates, and makes the number twenty-seven — a judgment that would be entirely conclusive is Professor Graybill had known (a) something about dogs, and (b) something about arithmetic.

2008 Update:  A three-headed hell-hound dispatched by Death and harrassed by Heracles, demonstrating the principle purpose of theology: that what a god anoints, man seeks to silence.

A good Good Friday to the faithful and TGIF to atheists, Unitarians and sundry socialists.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


CONCERT, n.  An entertainment for the humiliation of Baby by superior howling.

2008 Update:  A congress with Sousaphone.

OK, y'all.  I'm headed for Chicago.  See you all there, right?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hunting the Devil

They say the devil is found,
Not just below ground,
But there in the minutiae of labor.
So we no longer wonder
At the source of the thunder
But at the raindrop that fell on our neighbor.

Perhaps it is on account
Of the general amount
Of error we share with stranger and kin,
That we find more compelling
For clucking and yelling
The banal in transgression and sin.

But if under our own roofs
With sulfur and clove hooves,
The devil makes merry in the small things we measure
Then we do Satan a kindness
Whenever he finds us
Piously watching the news in our leisure.
-The Right Reverend Jeremiah Right

MINUTIA, n.  The big picture on the small screen.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


CUNNING, n. The faculty that distinguishes a weak animal or person from a strong one. It brings its possessor much mental satisfaction and great material adversity. An Italian proverb says: "The furrier gets the skins of more foxes than asses."

2008 update:  The insight inborn in an orphan leading to the breast of a wolf.

Monday, March 17, 2008


CORNED, p.p. Boosy, swipy, soaked, hog drunk, set up. (Very low and vulgar.)
Hell has no fury like a woman corned.
Hector Stuart
2008 Update:  Possessed of or by grain.

Happy Saint Patrick's Day to all, but particularly the several Irish Jewish women who frequent this site, celebrating for old-time's sake.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part XX

"The Beowulf of Wedding Planning" -Actonbell

Listen to the story in ruined Cyrenaica.

The Prattler is having formatting issues. That was fun, though, right?

Or, read the story among the Berbers.

Friday, March 14, 2008


NOSE, n. The extreme outpost of the face. From the circumstance that great conquerors have great noses, Getius, whose writings antedate the age of humor, calls the nose the organ of quell. It has been observed that one's nose is never so happy as when thrust into the affairs of others, from which some physiologists have drawn the inference that the nose is devoid of the sense of smell.
There's a man with a Nose,
And wherever he goes
The people run from him and shout:
"No cotton have we
For our ears if so be
He blow that interminous snout!"

So the lawyers applied
For injunction. "Denied,"
Said the Judge: "the defendant prefixion,
Whate'er it portend,
Appears to transcend
The bounds of this court's jurisdiction."
—Arpad Singiny
2008 Update: The first acquaintance of a new friend.
There lives a young gal in Seacaucus
Half charm, also half proboscis
Every man there knows
"She has good taste in clothes
But smells too well, prob'ly, to frock us."


Thursday, March 13, 2008


NECTAR, n. A drink served at banquets of the Olympian deities. The secret of its preparation is lost, but the modern Kentuckians believe that they come pretty near to a knowledge of its chief ingredient.
Juno drank a cup of nectar,
But the draught did not affect her.
Juno drank a cup of rye —
Then she bad herself good-bye.
2008 Update: Coffee after first rising or blood before speaking peace.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

A New New Jerusalem- with sincere apologies to William Blake

And did those hands in ancient times
Build domestic cars and bikes and toys?
Did ancient Magi give baby Jesu rhymes,
Assuring at his manger's side employ? 

And did the countenance divine,
Shine forth in a new dawn's glow,
To promise Cleveland industry
And poverty to Mexico?

Bring to me my forge of burning steel!
Bring to me rhetoric of exploitation!
Amend NAFTA and GATT! O fiery zeal!
Bring to me a chariot made in this nation!

I shall not cease disingenuity,
Nor confess effort as an option,
Until Jerusalem's built on the shores of Erie
And hiring becomes adoption!

UNEMPLOYMENT, n.  A temporary condition of eternal interest to the everlasting demagogue.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


NAMBY-PAMBY, adj.  Having the quality of magazine poetry.  (See FLUMMERY.)

2008 Update:  In the manner of a killer, caught without trousers.

And a happy birthday to Brer Mule.

Ah, and Ms. Jenn has another book out.  You can find it here.  Jenn's professional writing is highly recommended with the following exceptions: Children as well as the wholesome, godly, elect or elected, normal, patient, contagious, Governor of New York or anyone whose baby sister has the same first name as Ms. Howard and anyone whose computer is accessible to any of the preceding should exercise discretion.

Monday, March 10, 2008


NEIGHBOR, n.  One whom we are commanded to love as ourselves, and who does all he knows how to make us disobedient.

2008 Update:  The nearest sinner.

As long-time or fairly recent readers of this blog are aware, I consider blog spammers unlovable reprobates without hope of heaven.  However, one of the damned left a comment referring to a site somewhat on-topic and kind of cool so I am trying to make the time before he or she is consumed in the lake of fire gentle by bringing this to your attention.  Follow the link at your own risk but the Adam Smith Academy features electronic slideshows of classic stories.  They are currently on part III of a six part reading of Bierce's An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part XIX

"The Beowulf of Wedding Planning" -Actonbell

Hear the Senator's story.

Oh, yeah. There's a new post at The Prattler.

Or, read the story Al Fresco.

Friday, March 07, 2008


ELECTRICITY, n. The power that causes all natural phenomena not known to be caused by something else. It is the same thing as lightning, and its famous attempt to strike Dr. Franklin is one of the most picturesque incidents in that great and good man's career. The memory of Dr. Franklin is justly held in great reverence, particularly in France, where a waxen effigy of him was recently on exhibition, bearing the following touching account of his life and services to science:
"Monsieur Franqulin, inventor of electricity. This illustrious savant, after having made several voyages around the world, died on the Sandwich Islands and was devoured by savages, of whom not a single fragment was ever recovered."
Electricity seems destined to play a most important part in the arts and industries. The question of its economical application to some purposes is still unsettled, but experiment has already proved that it will propel a street car better than a gas jet and give more light than a horse.

2008 Update:  The substance of lightning and the soul of modern commerce.

Thursday, March 06, 2008


EDUCATION, n.  That which discloses to the wise and disguises from the foolish their lack of of understanding.

2008 Update:  The daughter of the deities, Pomp and Pretense, and a popular consort at the dime-a-dance hall.  Coy muse to all who tout Kafka's Metamorphosis.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008


I have known something of slaughter,
Of cow, pig, sheep and lamb;
Of goose from the air and trout from the water.
By coercion, pressure and stealth, man
Brings his food to the edge of his knife
To let the blood and harvest the meat.
From the blood of fellow creatures, life.
Making cold what brings him heat.
The cattle in the final feedlot,
The sheep outside the abattoir,
Forget the hay they finally need not
And resist the pastoral peace of the farm.
While the only meat that's elected and paid,
Turns its own neck to the butcher's blade.

CAUCUS, n.  The corralling of sheep for quadrennial fleecing.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008


EXPEDIENCY, n.  The father of all the virtues.

2008 Update:  The backbone of a politician and the backside of a bureaucrat.

Monday, March 03, 2008


EPITAPH, n. An inscription on a tomb, showing that virtues acquired by death have a retroactive effect. Following is a touching example:
Here lie the bones of Parson Platt,
Wise, pious, humble and all that,
Who showed us life as all should live it;
Let that be said — and God forgive it!
2008 Update:  The first marker, etched in stone, on the path to obscurity, the last being a statue made of bronze. 
Beloved husband, father, brother:
He'll be remembered like no other-
For honesty, wisdom, grace and vim-
'Til Wife, sister and son come lie with him.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Shahrazade's Wedding, Part XVIII

"The Beowulf of Wedding Planning" -Actonbell

Hear the story in the Maghreb.

Also, there is a new post in The Prattler.

Or, read it in Samarkand.

Tibbar Tibbar