Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Unionville Chronicles

Twenty-third Canto

By popular demand, Old Mule is back for a reading. To hear it, click on Coyote (above.)  Thanks, brother mule.

Click on Crow to read along.

Friday, August 29, 2008


LIBERTY, n. One of Imagination's most precious possessions. 
The rising People, hot and out of breath,
Roared around the palace: "Liberty or death!"
"If death will do," the King said, "let me reign;
You'll have, I'm sure, no reason to complain."
—Martha Braymance
2008 Update: That independence collectively admired by nations and individually deplored by neighbors. The stone in freedom's soup or a leader's shoe.

And, Happy birthday to John McCain!

Thursday, August 28, 2008


LOGOMACHY, n. A war in which the weapons are words and the wounds punctures in the swim-bladder of self-esteem — a kind of contest in which, the vanquished being unconscious of defeat, the victor is denied the reward of success.
'Tis said by divers of the scholar-men
That poor Salmasius died of Milton's pen.
Alas! we cannot know if this is true,
For reading Milton's wit we perish too.
2008 Update:  A war of wordsmiths, journalled by assassins.  Politics.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Love Under The Democrats (Sorry, Ogden, but you are dead)

Come live with me and be my love
And we will all the pleasures prove
Of a sugar-free wedding cake
And champagne toasts just as fake

Change will be the maid of honor,
A host of hopes lain upon her;
New ideas strewn before the altar,
Rings of dreams, our gilded halter;

And as we march back down the aisle,
With silken rose and painted smile,
I'll swear to be forever true.
Unspecifically, I do.

Ere our lives one day turn soury
We'll reach inside your fading dowry,
To pay for that audacious boon,
A honeyed, moon-eyed honeymoon.

Each morning through our life together,
Though fantasies change with the weather,
I hope to find, at breakfast, cereal.
Not every meal can be ethereal.

CONVENTION, n.  An assembly of conventions.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


LAUREATE, adj. Crowned with leaves of the laurel. In England the Poet Laureate is an officer of the sovereign's court, acting as dancing skeleton at every royal feast and singing-mute at every royal funeral. Of all incumbents of that high office, Robert Southey had the most notable knack at drugging the Samson of public joy and cutting his hair to the quick; and he had an artistic color-sense which enabled him so to blacken a public grief as to give it the aspect of a national crime.

2008 Update: Any tradesman biodegradeably ornamented as a collected specimen of his or her profession.  One such is the Poet Laureate of the United States who is anointed by the President to imply he reads.

Monday, August 25, 2008


LYRE, n. An ancient instrument of torture. The word is now used in a figurative sense to denote the poetic faculty, as in the following fiery lines of our great poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox:
I sit astride Parnassus with my lyre,
And pick with care the disobedient wire.
That stupid shepherd lolling on his crook
With deaf attention scarcely deigns to look.
I bide my time, and it shall come at length,
When, with a Titan's energy and strength,
I'll grab a fistful of the strings, and O,
The word shall suffer when I let them go!
—Farquharson Harris
2008 Update:  The musical instrument plucked by muses in heaven until the Christian era advanced angels with harps, more expansive instruments better suited to lamenting the sinfulness of the churched.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The Unionville Chronicles

Twenty-second Canto

This week's Canto is read by OC and Quilldancer. To hear it, click on the ghost tree. Mahalo, OC and Quilly.

Click on Star Peak to read along.

Friday, August 22, 2008


GENTLEWOMAN, n. The female of the genus Gentleman. The word is obsolete, gentlewomen, for no fault of their own, being now known as "ladies."
The wretch who first called gentlewomen ladies,
Being first duly hanged, arrived at Hades
Where, welcomed by the devils to their den,
He bowed and said "Good morning-gentlemen."
2008 Update:  A woman with sophistication enough to reassure a man with none.  
"My chin is bare, my hair is dressed!
I'm reduced to a young girl, no less!
Is the bearded lady on the midway,
A gentlewoman would you say?"

Thursday, August 21, 2008


GENTLEMAN, n.  A rare animal sufficiently described in the lines immediately [Tuesday's post] foregoing.

2008 Update:  A male of the species Homo demophagus with the presence of mind to distinguish company from a mob and a silken necktie to facilitate hanging.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

To a band-aid

Though all may right now rot within
I never will fear for my skin
The further out the malady
The easier the remedy
Let J&J e'er provide
A cure for what ails outside
And no internist ever know
The diagnosed corrupted soul
For whoever treats what suffers most
Soon becomes the suffering's host.
- Hal Thighself, M.D.

PRACTITIONER, n.  The enchanted familiar for a reference book or brochure.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


GENTEEL, adj.  Refined, after the fashion of a gent.
 Observe with care, my son, the distinction I reveal:
A gentleman is gentle and a gent genteel.
Heed not the definitions your "Unabridged" presents,
For dictionary makers are generally gents.
 2008 Update:  Deferential towards the manners and mores of the careless.

Monday, August 18, 2008


GENT, n. The vulgarian's ideal of a gentleman. The male of the genus Hoodlum.

2008 Update: Informally, a man who admires tidiness sufficiently to carry a cloth handkerchief, which is useful for removing DNA, fiber and fingerprints.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

The Unionville Chronicles

Twenty-first Canto

To hear this week's Canto, click on Rolando.

Click on the cowboy to read along.

This sketch, by Victor Hugo would have been the first picture if I'd known how to find it. Thanks, Ariel.

Friday, August 15, 2008


GIMLET, n.  An instrument somewhat smaller than the man "with an inexhaustible fund of anecdote."

2008 Update: A dainty cocktail likely concocted for drinkers who must be eased in to a margarita from a Shirley Temple.  The gentleman's alternative to perfume and tweezing.

Thursday, August 14, 2008


GUINEA-PIG, n.   A small Brazilian animal of the genus Cavia and frequently called the cavy.  
In the opinion of the President of the California Academy of Sciences it is rather a dog than a pig.  He grounds his judgement upon the classical admonition Cave canem.

2008 Update:  The officially sanctioned dish of Peru and enlightenment.  Metaphorically, a test subject, such as a scientist's journal submission.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Sic Semper Tyranni, a limerick

Though democracy sometimes looks rosy,
A despotic regime of the cozy,
Howe'er it's arranged,
Some things never change.
The law serves the idle and nosy.

ORDER, n.  The breach of the law and the opposite of progress.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


GARTER, n.  An elastic band intended to keep a woman from coming out of her stockings and desolating the country.  An order of merit established by Edward III of England, and conferred upon persons who have distinguished themselves in the royal favor.  Other kinds of public service are otherwise rewarded.  
"'Tis Britain's boast that knighthood of the Garter
Was ne'er conferred upon a cad or carter;
Well, any thrifty and ambitious flunkey
Can drive a bargain- few can drive a donkey."
So the proud cynic.  Some ensuing dicker
Gave him that pretty bauble for his kicker.  
2008 Update:  The house of congress, a bigameral legislature.  
Among those things one shouldn't mention,
It's modesty commands attention.
Those things that are kept most in secret
Are the same as those we most would peek at
The blessing of the modern age
Is that secrets have become the rage
And those that once had been rarest,
Today, even the coward darest.
-Alistair Bakke

Monday, August 11, 2008


GIPSY, n.  A person who is willing to tell your future for a small portion of it.

2008 Update:  A foreigner without borders.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Unionville Chronicles

Twentieth Canto

This week's reading was recorded by Aunt Lulu.  To hear Aunt Lulu's annotated reading, stop by the Lovelock bar.

Click to read all about it.

Or watch Lulu read.  You'll thank me.

Friday, August 08, 2008


MENDACIOUS, adj. Addicted to rhetoric.

2008 Update: Prolix.

Happy birthday, Mama

Thursday, August 07, 2008


MACHINATION, n.  The method employed by one's opponents in baffling one's open and honorable efforts to do the right thing.
 So plain the advantages of machination
It constitutes a moral obligation,
And honest wolves who think upon't with loathing
Feel bound to don the sheep's deceptive clothing.
So prospers still the diplomatic art,
And Satan bows, with hand upon his heart.
2008 Update:  A little boy with tears in his eyes, a pout on his lips and ice cream on his mind, as staged by his uncle.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Bad dogs make for good neighbors

Something there is that doesn't like hush
And brings the bad dog to the door
In the wee hours of the lush,
When there's fog upon the moor,
Or quiet on in Santa Clarita.

Barking, baying and provoking the curses
Of the neighbors, both pets and coyotes.
Singing to the moon their sad canine verses,
With darts in their hearts and spears in their throaties.
They rush into the morning to greet her.

Sprung from the house as I was from sleep
And into the darkness' last gleaming,
The air is their mine, the canyon their keep,
And their prey, what the neighbor was dreaming.
Down the steep slopes of dawn, the two tumble.

And my neighbor, sole parent, a few hours later
Appears on her lawn by the driveway.
There's something it seems starting to grate her
As she greets me, my dogs and the live day,
Hungover, perhaps, averting her eyes,
And speaking no more than a mumble.

RUCKUS, n. A puppy's peace.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


MINE, adj.  Belonging to me if I can hold or see it.

2008 Update:  Still tempting.

Happy Birthday to Actonbell

Monday, August 04, 2008


MAGNIFICENT, adj. Having a grandeur or splendor superior to that which the spectator is accustomed, as the ears of an ass, to a rabbit, or the glory of the glowworm, to a maggot.

2008 Update:  Depleted of notoreity by the gas of an enthusiast's account or the the edge of a surgeon's blade.  Indifferent.

Saturday, August 02, 2008

The Unionville Chronicles

Nineteenth Canto

This week's reading was recorded at the last moment by a semi-rehabilitated outlaw.  Click on Jessi Colter to listen.

To read the story click on the bandit brothers.

Friday, August 01, 2008


OVATION, n. In ancient Rome, a definite, formal pageant in honor of one who had been disserviceable to the enemies of the nation. A lesser "triumph." In modern English the word is improperly used to signify any loose and spontaneous expression of popular homage to the hero of the hour and place.
"I had an ovation!" the actor man said,
But I thought it uncommonly queer,
That people and critics by him had been led
By the ear.

The Latin lexicon makes his absurd
Assertion as plain as a peg;
In "ovum" we find the true root of the word.
It means egg.
—Dudley Spink
2008 Update:  The jostling, shouting, waving, slapping, clapping, spitting eruption that stagecraft compels from a polite audience.

Rabbit rabbit, y'all