Saturday, November 06, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil F├╝nfundneunzig
To hear Actonbell read the final episode, gather up before the angel.

Or, you can read this episode among the Wisteria.

The whole kit and caboodle can be downloaded here.
This episode also concludes Waking Ambrose, with gratitude and appreciation for all of you who have participated and made this site so much fun for such a long time. Thank you all. Be well and be in touch.

TRANSFER, n. The opportunity to board a different wrong train.

Friday, November 05, 2010


DEPOSIT, n. A charitable contribution to the support of a bank.

2010 Update: A portion of there allocated to the establishment of a new here.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


DEFAULTER, n. An important officer in a bank, who commonly adds to his regular functions the duties of cashier.

2010 Update: A restitutionary revolutionary. The median American.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Advice to my nephew, Eamon, on the day after his third birthday

Mama's fine, don't mind the cracks
But watch where you put your feet.
A life is led in countless steps
And strangers you will meet.
Each one's a home and family
Each is a trap to bind your toes
Every place you go's somewhere you'll leave
And every path, to one more flows.
Nod your head at the lunatic
Hide yawns below the preacher
Hold the door for every girl your age
Whether you're glad to reach her.
Laugh with anyone who strikes you funny
Cry with everyone pathetic
Let every dream a dreamer shares
Be your own soul's diuretic.
For everything you say and write,
Each and every word
Will sound to you like heaven's voice
And to Uncle Doug, absurd.
Keep your feet beneath you-
Your day has come at last-
Keep one eye open, one hand held out,
And waddle forward to your past.

CORNY, adj. Avuncular

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


DEFAME, v.t. To lie about another. To tell the truth about another.

2010 Update: To martyr without slaying, a shameful waste of piety.

And happy birthday to Eamon!

Monday, November 01, 2010


DECIDE, v.i. To succumb to the preponderance of one set of influences over another set.
A leaf was riven from a tree,
"I mean to fall to earth," said he.

The west wind, rising, made him veer.
"Eastward," said he, "I now shall steer."

The east wind rose with greater force.
Said he: "'Twere wise to change my course."

With equal power they contend.
He said: "My judgment I suspend."

Down died the winds; the leaf, elate,
Cried: "I've decided to fall straight."

"First thoughts are best?" That's not the moral;
Just choose your own and we'll not quarrel.

Howe'er your choice may chance to fall,
You'll have no hand in it at all.
2010 Update: To offer destiny a consideration.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Vierundneunzig
To hear TLP read this week's story, click on the angry man.

Or, you can read this episode with the adolescent novice at left.

The story so far is here.

And happy birthday to my separated-at-birth sister and TLP's separated-at-birth daughter.

Friday, October 29, 2010


PILLORY, n. mechanical device for inflicting personal distinction- prototype of the modern newspaper conducted by persons of austere virtues and blameless lives.

2010 Update: v.t. To redistribute disdain. To shield a pig with a goat.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


PIGMY, n. One of a tribe of very small men found by ancient travelers in many parts of the world, but by modern in Central Africa only. The Pigmies are so called to distinguish them from the bulkier Caucasians — who are Hogmies.

2010 Update: An economical race that grows smaller than the rest of its species. An individual smaller than the rest of its race may be known as a RUNT, BIGFELLA or GOSSIP.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Social Network

This world's become a narrow one,
A billion-thronged bar,
Where strangers meet for folly and fun,
Like clowns meet in a car.
There's little I can give or take,
Hear me now, old dudes,
You can't get from a bull or drake
But cowboy songs and attitudes.
I'm not too sure I like this world
(And wasn't so sure, then)
But now we can corral ourselves
Without need of a pen.

CORRESPONDENCE, n. An incursion by breeze, at times preferable to a siege.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


PIG, n. An animal (porcus omnivorus) closely allied to the human race by the splendor and vivacity of its appetite, which, however, is inferior in scope, for it sticks at pig.

2010 Update: The lexicographer of the barnyard.

Monday, October 25, 2010


PICTURE, n. A representation in two dimensions of something wearisome in three.
"Behold great Daubert's picture here on view —
Taken from Life." If that description's true,
Grant, heavenly Powers, that I be taken, too.
—Jali Hane
2010 Update: A visible fiction.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Dreiundneunzig
To hear this week's story, listen for the cock to crow.

Or, you can read this episode on the way to the children's crusade.
The story so far is here.

Friday, October 22, 2010


BEARD, n. The hair that is commonly cut off by those who justly execrate the Chinese custom of shaving the head.

2010 Update: Facial hair cultivated by cultured men to distinguish themselves from lunatics and visa-versa.

Thursday, October 21, 2010


BASSO-RELIEVO, n. (Italian) Low relief. The relief of a sick vulgarian.

2010 Update: A sculpture flat enough to be used on a memorial.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


A troubled conscience robs the rest,
Pressing the pillowed heart to motion.
Fretful signs of troubled times
Pry the puffed eye open.
Bed bugs prick the mouth and skin
And bring the prone physique to life
And I have heard by muffled word
That so might do a wife.
Langor drowns in tropic sweat
Burnt baking stabs the snoring nose
But if insomnia is, once more, to score
Let a lightning storm take my repose.

INSOMNIA, n. A prerequisite for sleeping in.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


BAPTISM, n. A sacred rite of such efficacy that he who finds himself in heaven without having undergone it will be unhappy forever. It is performed with water in two ways — by immersion, or plunging, and by aspersion, or sprinkling.
But whether the plan of immersion
Is better than simple aspersion
Let those immersed
And those aspersed
Decide by the Authorized Version,
And by matching their agues tertian.
2010 Update: A prophylactic against the punishment for sins still to be perpetrated.

Monday, October 18, 2010


BACON, n. The mummy of a pig embalmed in brine. To "save one's bacon" is to narrowly escape some particular woman, or other peril.
By heaven forsaken
By justice o'ertaken
He saved his bacon
By cutting a single slice of it;
For 'twas cut from the throat,
And we venture to quote
Death, hell and the grave as the price of it.
S.F. Journal of Commerce
2010 Update: The portion on which a hog may sleep and a man might dream.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Zwoundneunzig
To hear this week's story, listen for Adalbert's wrath.

Or, you can read this episode in the Chi-Rho at left.

The story so far is here.

Friday, October 15, 2010


IMPLACABLE, adj. Not to be appeased without a large sum of money.

2010 Update: Indivertably committed to one's course, as a man at supper.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


IMPIETY, n. Your irreverance toward my deity.

2010 Update: A sin against the halo.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Well Designed Man

My fingers cramp, my arms don't bend
My neck is sore, I'm near the end,
My teeth are loose, my ears are waxy
My stomach's fraught and hot and laxy
My feet are blistered, toes grown furry,
My knees are stiff, sometimes I worry
My soul's grown vacant, skull has too
It's a shame what years will do
Hollowed, hardened, round and dangled
Thirsty, falling, unfilled, tangled
Yet I know rising, buoyant hope
As a bucket on a rope.

LEAK, n. A supply-side sip.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


IMPENITENCE, n. A state of mind intermediate in point of time between sin and punishment.

2010 Update: Invisibility.

Monday, October 11, 2010


IMPECCABLE, adj. Not liable to detection.

2010 Update: Granted only one appraisal, unuttered.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Einundneunzig
To hear this week's story, follow Dietrich and Gretchen down the streets of Marburg.

Or, you can read this episode with Jan.

The story so far is here.

Friday, October 08, 2010


GYMNAST, n. A man who puts his brains into his muscles. The word is from the Greek gumnos, naked, all the athletic exercises being performed in that shocking conditions; but the members of the Olympic Club make a compromise between the requirements of the climate and those of the ladies who attend their exhibitions. They wear their pyjamas.

2010 Update: An athlete gifted with all the talents of an assassin but burdened with none of the responsibilities.

Regarding the post time: It seemed awfully quiet.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Gordion Knot

GORDIAN KNOT, n. Gordon, the King of Khartoum, had as a fastening to his war-chariot a knot so intricate that neither end of the thong could be seen, and he used to brag about it a good deal. Instructed by an oracle, he declared that anybody attempting to undo it and failing should stand the beer, but anybody succeeding should receive the greatest honor that he had ever conferred-a favor which would turn the unsuccessful competitors pea-green with envy and break them all up: the King would shake him for the drinks. When this decree was promulgated all Gordon's subjects joined the Good Templars, but Alexander Badlam of Macedon hearing about it, started at once for the Soudanese capital. Ushered with great pomp into the harness-room, he took out his pocket-knife and calmly cut the knot, remarking with the ready wit which distinguished him from the humorist of the period: "Get onto that racket, my son." "Shake," replied the monarch with truly oriental exuberance of imagery. They shook, using four dice. The King threw four sixes. "Two small pairs," he explained, with royal unconcern. Alexander dumped the cubes back into the box, blew into it, muttered a few cabalistic words and threw. Five deuces! "In Macedon this is the national game, endeared to the popular heart by seventeen centuries of unbroken succcess, and I have been brought through it with a lantern," said he, laconically. Graciously pleased to mark his sense of the performance in words of memorable significance, the monarch exclaimed: "You take the cake," and led the way to the royal sideboard, when, later in the day, Alexander, over three fingers of same as before, explained with the richness of metaphor which characterizes the speech of men familiar with that barbaric splendor of Eastern courts: "It's a cold day when I get left."

2010 Update: In legend, a knot that so frustrated attempts to unwind it that Alexander the Great was inspired to cut it with a sword. The memory of the Gordion Knot is often used as a pedagogical device to describe a problem so complex that only common sense can solve it.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Versity Training

Some rhyme, some meter, perhaps a point
And then our jests we must anoint-
Behold, a new authority,
Listen, now, at last, to me:
A misty forest's just the place
To wander in a state of grace,
Where death and lilies wander 'bout
On paws and metaphors for doubt
Where love and thorns and meadows nourish
The Condors, tribes and pegasi who flourish
In the oft trod land of plaintive verses
Or funny rhymes and snores and worstest.

VERSIFIER, n. A diligent babbler. High mukmuk and secretary-treasurer to the Glossolallians.

Tuesday, October 05, 2010


GENEALOGY, n. An account of one's descent from an ancestor who did not particularly care to trace his own.

2010 Update: An idle sifting through the past for the foundation of a dynamic future.

Monday, October 04, 2010


GREAT, n.[SIC] Distinguished by superior excellence among one's fellows, as Hector Stuart among Bards of the South Sea, Dr. Bartlett among the Bulletin's agricultural homilists, Peter Robertson among the writers of "Undertones" in the Chronicle and Harrie McDowell among the fat boys of the Ingleside.
"I'm great," the lion said-"I reign
The monarch of the wood and plain!"

The elephant replied: "I'm great-
No quadruped can match my weight!"

"I'm great- no animal has half
So long a neck!" said the Giraffe.

"I'm great," the kangaroo said-"See
My caudal muscularity!"

"The Possum said: "I'm great-behold,
My tail is lithe and bald and cold!"

"An Oyster fried was understood
To say "I'm great because I'm good!"

Each reckons greatness to consist
In that in which he heads the list.

And Harris thinks he tops his class
Because he is the greatest Ass.
2010 Update: adj. Surmounting falling standards, as the man who, having walked down the beach at low tide and returned with dry feet is declared to walk on water.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Neunzig
To hear this week's story, gather around the preacher.

Or, you can read this episode with Pontius Pilate and Barrabas.

The story so far is here.

Friday, October 01, 2010


CREDITOR, n. One of a tribe of savages dwelling beyond the Financial Straits and dreaded for their desolating incursions.

2010 Update: A previous patron turned parasite, such as a silkworm after harvest.

Thursday, September 30, 2010


CREMATION, n. The process by which the cold meats of humanity are warmed over."

2010 Update: The expedited return of ashes to ashes. A university lecture for the dead.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

A Redneck Speaks of Rivers

I've known rivers;
I've known rivers as long as long that start as mountain dew and that distill handily in all the things I brew.

My wisdom has grown damp like the rivers.

I bathed in the Colorado, just yesterday it seems
And build deer blinds by the Chattahoochee in all my better dreams
I looked down upon the Platte to reflect Hank, Junior's face
I sang Kern River by the Kern River and imagined lands of native sons where rivers run too wide to jump, and there's no work that needs done but tools every place.

I've known rivers:
Bubbly, lady rivers.

My wisdom is wet like the rivers.

RIVER, n. A natural border, dividing mice from fish.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010


CREMONA, n. A high-priced kind of violin made in Connecticut. A genuine Connecticut Cremona is supposed to be mentioned in the following lines of Omar Khayyam:
Hey, diddle, diddle!
The cat got the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon,
But the little do stayed
To hear the thing played,
And died of the very first tune.
2010 Update: A small Italian city notable for her prominent religious figures and renaissance culture, and so indistinguishable from other small Italian cities.

Monday, September 27, 2010


CRESCENT, n. The moon in the early stages of its monthly growth, when it is a little too bright for burglars and a little too dark for lovers. An order founded by Renatus of Anjou is called the Order of the Crescent on account of its membership of lunatics. The services of this Order to San Francisco politics consisted in the establishing of a grand Perquisition to enforce the Salaric Law.

2010 Update: A fertility symbol employed by the moon to represent harvest and the seasons of human endeavor.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Neunundachtzig
To hear this week's story, eavesdrop on the alleyway.

Or, you can read this episode by following Adalbert's finger.

The story so far is here.

Friday, September 24, 2010


ESSENTIAL, adj. Pertaining to the essence, or that which determines the distinctive character of a thing. People, who, because they do not know the English language, are driven to the unprofitable vocation of writing for American newspapers, commonly use this word in the sense of necessary, as
April rains are essential to June harvests.
W.C. Bartlett
2010 Update: That thing inside a thing without which that thing would be an entirely other thing, or, in fact, not a thing at all but a philosophy.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


ESTOPPEL, n. In law, the kind of stopple with which a man is corked up with his plea inside him.

2010 Update: A legal assumption that what a man has said he can be presumed to have meant, providing unamendable evidence that justice is blind.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dawn of the Fall

The day has come to change the season
Though years like this, there seems no reason
No gold nor rust or scarlet's expected
From leaves that summer ne'er detected.
And the shafts of autumn cannot wither
What shoots in Spring did not deliver.

AUTUMN, n. A season for humility located between the seasons of sloth and disappointment.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


ETIQUETTE, n. A code of social rites, ceremonies and observances, constituting a vulgarian's claim to toleration. The fool's credentials.
When first society was founded,
It was discovered as time sped,
That men of sense and taste abounded,
But they were mostly dead.
While, of the women fitted to adorn
The social circle, few had yet been born.

Those, then, that met were rather lonely
And scarce could call themselves "our set";
So they, to swell their numbers only,
Invented etiquette,
And said "Such fools as will observe these rules
May meet us, though they're all the greater fools."

Straightaway the fools then fell to study
The laws of conduct a la mode,
And though their minds were somewhat muddy
They soon had learned the code.
Then seeing its authors hadn't, plainly told them
They'd make society too hot to hold them.
2010 Update: The cultural approach to sequestration by which every human and dog can be elite. The great smallness.

Monday, September 20, 2010


EUCALYPTUS, n. A tree holding, in the animal kingdom, the high and honored distinction enjoyed in the animal kingdom by the blue skunk. The variety most in favor is the E. disgustifolium. The medicinal value of its foliage is very great-it cures happiness.

2010 Update: The only ingredient in the recipe for koala.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Achtundachtzig
To hear this week's story, eavesdrop on the alleyway.

Or, you can read this episode from behind the window where Adalbert's desk once sat.

The story so far is here.

Friday, September 17, 2010


DECANTER, n. A vessel whose functions are most envied by the human stomach.

2010 Update: An ornamental middle station between bottle and glass designed to contain the difference between wine- and whiskey-drinkers for proper aeration.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


DECALOGUE, n. A series of commandments, ten in number — just enough to permit an intelligent selection for observance, but not enough to embarrass the choice. Following is the revised edition of the Decalogue, calculated for this meridian.
Thou shalt no God but me adore:
'Twere too expensive to have more.

No images nor idols make
For Robert Ingersoll to break.

Take not God's name in vain; select
A time when it will have effect.

Work not on Sabbath days at all,
But go to see the teams play ball.

Honor thy parents. That creates
For life insurance lower rates.

Kill not, abet not those who kill
Thou shalt not pay thy butcher's bill.

Kiss not thy neighbor's wife, unless
Thine own thy neighbor doth caress

Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete
Successfully in business. Cheat.

Bear not false witness — that is low —
But "hear 'tis rumored so and so."

Covet thou naught that thou hast not
By hook or crook, or somehow, got.
2010 Update: The ten commandments as described by scholarly atheists who observe the laws in failure rather than in speech.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

A Redneck Love Song

I hauled my ol' gal off the porch
Yee-haw, darlin! Yee-haw!
And sawr her grinnin' 'neath the torch
Yee-haw, darlin, yee haw.
We puht 'ur signs an' t-shirts on
Jump-start the truck and then we're gone
Yee-haw, darlin! Yee-haw!
The skoal we dip is cool and moist
Yee-haw, sugar, Yee-haw!
And Sarah Palin's in fine voice
Yee-haw, honey, yee-haw!
The angus bull' s nary as proud
As I git when my gal protests loud.
Yee-haw, darlin! Yee-haw.
I look at her peepers, she caught mine, too!
Hot dog, darlin, yee-haw!
And I reckoned what we oughter do:
Yee haw, sweetheart, yee-haw!
Is pawn her fourteen carat pendant,
Sell hogs, pitch hay, vote "independent,"
End the FED an' repeal the fourteenth amendment.
Yee-haw, Darlin, Yee haw!

TEA PARTY, n. A do si do to quote De Toqueville.
This is my stab at Susan's microfiction Monday, but not concise and on the intermittent Wednesday. You can (and should) read the original of this poem by clicking the post title. And TLP gets her wish here.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


DEBT, n. An ingenious substitute for the chain and whip of the slave-driver.
As, pent in an aquarium, the troutlet
Swims round and round his tank to find an outlet,
Pressing his nose against the glass that holds him,
Nor ever sees the prison that enfolds him;
So the poor debtor, seeing naught around him,
Yet feels the narrow limits that impound him,
Grieves at his debt and studies to evade it,
And finds at last he might as well have paid it.
—Barlow S. Vode
2010 Update: Consent and cement.

Monday, September 13, 2010


DEAD, adj.
Done with the work of breathing; done
With all the world; the mad race run
Through to the end, the golden goal
Attained-amd found to be a hole!
Ignoble end to all the strife!
To lie as ne'er we lay in life,
with legs uncomfortably straight
And rigid fixity of pate,
{ierced through and through by worms that live
To make, with needless skill, a sieve
Out of our skin, to sift our dust.
Vain labor! at the last they just
Bolt us unbolted till they bu'st!
-Squatol Johnes
2010 Update: Concise.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Siebensundachtzig
To hear this week's story, pass the black door again.

Or, you can read this episode at the tavern or the church below.

The story so far is here.

Friday, September 10, 2010


FEMALE, n. One of the opposing, or unfair, sex.
The Maker, at Creation's birth,
With living things had stocked the earth.
From elephants to bats and snails,
They all were good, for all were males.
But when the Devil came and saw
He said: "By Thine eternal law
Of growth, maturity, decay,
These all must quickly pass away
And leave untenanted the earth
Unless Thou dost establish birth" —
Then tucked his head beneath his wing
To laugh — he had no sleeve — the thing
With deviltry did so accord,
That he'd suggested to the Lord.
The Master pondered this advice,
Then shook and threw the fateful dice
Wherewith all matters here below
Are ordered, and observed the throw;
Then bent His head in awful state,
Confirming the decree of Fate.
From every part of earth anew
The conscious dust consenting flew,
While rivers from their courses rolled
To make it plastic for the mould.
Enough collected (but no more,
For niggard Nature hoards her store)
He kneaded it to flexible clay,
While Nick unseen threw some away.
And then the various forms He cast,
Gross organs first and finer last;
No one at once evolved, but all
By even touches grew and small
Degrees advanced, till, shade by shade,
To match all living things He'd made
Females, complete in all their parts
Except (His clay gave out) the hearts.
"No matter," Satan cried; "with speed
I'll fetch the very hearts they need" —
So flew away and soon brought back
The number needed, in a sack.
That night earth range with sounds of strife —
Ten million males each had a wife;
That night sweet Peace her pinions spread
O'er Hell — ten million devils dead!
2010 Update: The portion of a species that produces eggs, and egg shells.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


A brief lie intended to illustrate some important truth. A statue of Eve and the Apple was accosted by a hippopotamus on a show-bill.
"Give me a bite of your apple," said the hippopotamous, "and see me smile."
"I would," said Eve, making a rough estimate of the probable dimensions of the smile, "but I have promised a bite to the Mammoth Cave, another to the crater of Vesuvius, and a third to the interval between the lowest anthropoid Methodist and the most highly organized wooden Indian. I must be just before I am generous."

This fable teaches that justice and generosity do not go hand in hand, the hand of generosity being commonly thrust in the pocket of Justice.

2010 Update: An allegory in which animals and insects are debased with human motives for the edification of children who only want sugar.
Once upon a time, a baby mouse left his home to seek the advice of a very wise sparrow. He eluded the cat, and braved the streets and darted from bush to bush avoiding wolves and foxes and finally reached the nest of the wise sparrow on a long thin bough of a tall, tall tree. The sparrow was not home, so the little mouse waited and waited patiently until a sudden gale pulled him from the bough and threw him over a cliff. Back at home his little mousie mother finally had time to study latin and prepare for her next litter.
Moral: Only a fool seeks wisdom without knowing what he'll find.

Bonus prophesy: I wasn't trying to be coy in comments. This blog now has more definitions than Bierce's original publication and much of the work is now finding one that hasn't been done already. In fact, that now takes more time than writing most posts. When The Reformation of Wolfshausen ends, theoretically on episode 95, presumably on November 6, I expect to close this site. After that, I intend to continue reading all of you and we can all still be in touch. I'll repeat this later, I'm sure, but I'm very appreciative of all of you for making this a fun project.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Dividing by two

Noah filled his might ship
With pairs of he and she,
And no record from that trip
Upon that wrathful sea
Suggest he suffered confoundation
O'er any critter's assignation.

And yet it seems we modern brothers
Despite our gentle waves
Have trouble telling some from others
Or comparing cribs and graves.
God blessed Noah with more than warning
To know first night from fortieth morning.

And as we struggle to discern,
What distinctions now elude us?
The more we know and more we learn
The more the wise neighbor colludes
The more the scholar deeply delves
The less comes between objects and ourselves.

The stormy, wrath-roiled, boiling sea
That washed the ark to Ararat
Or the modern, gridhewn clarity?
I cannot choose 'tween ours and that
Though the foaming waves reflect much clearer
Than the peaceful lake flat as a mirror.
-Friedrich Schiller

DISCRIMINATION, n. The faculty to behave differently towards distinctive entities, such as discretion and bigotry or subjects and objects.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010


FATHER, n. A quarter-master and commissary of subsistence provided by nature for our maintenance in the period before we have learned to live by prey.

2010 Update: A vestige of man's antewikipedian evolution, functioning now primarily as a repository for jokes, the punchlines for which are held in a separate vessel.

Monday, September 06, 2010


FOREORDINATION, n. This looks like an easy word to define, but when I consider that pious and learned theologians have spent long lives in explaining it, and written libraries to explain their explanations; when I remember the nations have been divided and bloody battles caused by the difference between foreordination and predestination, and that millions of treasure have been expended in the effort to prove and disprove its compatibility with freedom of the will and the efficacy of prayer, praise, and a religious life, — recalling these awful facts in the history of the word, I stand appalled before the mighty problem of its signification, abase my spiritual eyes, fearing to contemplate its portentous magnitude, reverently uncover and humbly refer it to His Eminence Cardinal Gibbons and His Grace Bishop Potter.

2010 Update: The transfer of a personal debt onto the divine ledger.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Sechsundachtzig
To hear this week's story, pass the black door.

Or, you can read this episode at the tavern or the church below.

The story so far is here.

Friday, September 03, 2010


HAUTBOY, n. The least noisy of boys.

2010 Update: A double-reeded instrument named for its similarity to a Parisian waiter.

Thursday, September 02, 2010


HATRED, n. A sentiment appropriate to the occasion of another's superiority.

2010 Update: A halo stuck in the throat.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010


An ancient art of flame or pin,
Juggling grants relief from sin
For what could ever be more pious
Than to keep aloft the weights that try us?
But the objects we raise with the hand
Don't err nor grieve on air or land
While as our tribulations mount
It's we who are held to account.
So I wonder if, when heaven's scoring,
Bouncing ain't as grand as soaring.

JUGGLE, v. To deprive a planet the company of its kin.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


HARE, n. A quadruped of the genus Lepus, of which the principle variety is the jackass rabbit-the Felis Nevadensis, of Humbolt. The jackass rabbit is sometimes called Cervus Chismori, in honor of a celebrated sportsman who in moments of excitement commonly swears it is a deer.

2010 Update: A long-eared lagomorph, Coniculum curriculum, endowed by its creator with the gifts of swiftness and eavesdropping. Unlike the interfering neighbor, or Avis adamantus, custom reports the hare having wasted both talents.

Monday, August 30, 2010


HARDWARE, n. Women's consciences.

2010 Update: Men's indulgences.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil F├╝nfundachtzig
To hear this week's story, gather around Vater Johann's dream of Jeremiah.

Or, you can read this episode with Wotan.

The story so far is here.
And happy birthday to Dddragon on Sunday.

Friday, August 27, 2010


REDRESS, n. Reparation without satisfaction.
Among the Anglo-Saxon a subject conceiving himself wronged by the king was permitted, on proving his injury, to beat a brazen image of the royal offender with a switch that was afterward applied to his own naked back. The latter rite was performed by the public hangman, and it assured moderation in the plaintiff's choice of a switch.
2010 Update: v.t. To correct injustice by replacing its outer garment.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


REDEMPTION, n. Deliverance of sinners from the penalty of their sin, through their murder of the deity against whom they sinned. The doctrine of Redemption is the fundamental mystery of our holy religion, and whoso believeth in it shall not perish, but have everlasting life in which to try to understand it.
We must awake Man's spirit from his sin,
And take some special measure for redeeming it;
Though hard indeed the task to get it in
Among the angels any way but teaming it,
Or purify it otherwise than steaming it.
I'm awkward at Redemption — a beginner:
My method is to crucify the sinner.
—Golgo Brone
2010 Update: The remittance of murder, theft, treason, gossip, indolence, conspiracy, cruelty and other sins in deference to the sinner's theological accuracy.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Just the other night,
On bright moonlit bluff
O'er a river bedotted with boulder,
I met Assemblyman Smythe
Looking pale, talking tough,
And growing each moment both madder and older.

The wind gave a yowl,
In the distance wolves bayed,
And the pillar pulled the cigar from his tongue.
He jiggled his jowl,
Lowered eyes like he prayed
And recalled when his office was but recently won.

"I answered the call,"
His voice rumbled and wavered,
"That the people sent me to protect them-
I sheltered them all,
Returned every favor
And dispatched hordes of functionaries to inspect them."

He looked down at the foam
And the hard stones below,
Gave a sigh and let out with a shiver.
He lowered his dome,
But I pulled him back fro
and cried, "Sir, you mustn't, or you'll pollute the river."

MINGENT, adj. Self-wetting, as voters in a dry county.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


RECTOR, n. In the Church of England, the Third Person of the parochial Trinity, the Curate and the Vicar being the other two.

2010 Update: Literally, a teacher. Figuratively a bore.

Monday, August 23, 2010


RECRUIT, n. A person distinguishable from a civilian by his uniform and from a soldier by his gait.
Fresh from the farm or factory or street,
His marching, in pursuit or in retreat,
Were an impressive martial spectacle
Except for two impediments — his feet.
—Thompson Johnson
2010 Update: v.t. To fool by example.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Vierundachtzig
To hear this week's story, come to the baptism at right.

Or, you can read this episode as Jesus enters Jerusalem.
The story so far is here.

Friday, August 20, 2010


PIANO, n. A parlor utensil for subduing the impenitent visitor. It is operated by depressing the keys of the machine and the spirits of the audience.

2010 Update: A musical instrument named pianoforte (softloud), because it produces sounds of various volumes and attracts instrumentalists of varying strength.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


PHYSIOGNOMY, n. The art of determining the character of another by the resemblances and differences between his face and our own, which is the standard of excellence.
"There is no art," says Shakespeare, foolish man,
"To read the mind's construction in the face."
The physiognomists his portrait scan,
And say: "How little wisdom here we trace!
He knew his face disclosed his mind and heart,
So, in his own defence, denied our art."
—Lavatar Shunk
2010 Update: The study of the inner character by outward features, by which it has been proven that appearances may be deceiving. For example, by the application of ancient Greek rootwords to mean SUPERFICIALITY.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Little leviathan

Was it not Hobbes who said that fancy
Is decaying of the sense?
And the dreams that come come along
As our sense relents?

Invention is that fancy
As it's copied into being
When hands describe the fading thought
Of objects we'd been seeing.

So what is this creative spark
That quickens blogging bards?
The decaying of our own sweet selves
Into dots on memory cards?

CREATIVITY, n. The final flourish of a fading complaint.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


PHYSICIAN, n. One upon whom we set our hopes when ill and our dogs when well.

2010 Update: A vulture ascetic.

Monday, August 16, 2010


PHOTOGRAPH, n. A picture painted by the sun without instruction in art. It is a little better than the work of an Apache, but not quite so good as that of a Cheyenne.

2010 Update: Once art, once history, once evidence, now imposition.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Dreiundachtzig
To hear my dad read this week's story, hear ye the Swiss scout at right

Or, you can read thoughtfully with Huldrych Zwingli.
The story so far is here.

Friday, August 13, 2010


AVENGE, v.t. In modern usage, to take satisfaction for an injury by cheating the inflictor.

2010 Update: To counter-trivialize, at any expense.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


AVERNUS, n. The lake by which the ancients entered the infernal regions. The fact that access to the infernal regions. The fact that access to the infernal regions was obtained by a lake is believed by the learned Marcus Ansello Scrutator to have suggested the Christian rite of baptism by immersion. This, however, has been shown by Lactantius to be an error.
Facilis descensus Averni,
The poet remarks; and the sense
Of it is that when down-hill I turn I
Will get more punches than pence.
Jehal Dai Lupe
2010 Update: A lake in southern Italy by which the Italians entered Hell before there were roads to Rome.
O Avernus, thy mirrored waters shew mine face and God's sky,
I trust thou'lt carry both under whene'er I die.
-Narcissus Smytheberry

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Advice to my mother, after her birthday

No one would get appendicitis
Without vestigial organs still inside us.
A century since cart and dray
Horses still kick folks for play.
Abaci defy our youth,
Fifty years since such were couth,
Though Terpsichore no longer touches,
Dancers hobble on on crutches.
I guess that what I'm trying to say
Is relics still may rule the day.

VESTIGE, n. The looming tyrant of an earlier age.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


ABATIS, n. Rubbish in front of a fort, to prevent the rubbish outside from molesting the rubbish inside.

2010 Update: The uprooting and repurposing of a forest to shelter mammals.

Monday, August 09, 2010


ABADDON, n. 1. A certain person who is much in society, but whom one does not meet. A bad one.
2. The Adversary of souls, considered under one of his many charming aspects.

2010 Update: The king of stinging locusts, according to St. John the Divine; or the chief of the Immigration and Naturalization Service to come, according to myth.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Zwoundachtzig
To hear my dad read this week's story, join the penitents at right.

Or, you can read with Adalbert.

The story so far is here.
Um, a note on authenticity. So I wrote this and sent it out to be read and then bothered to look up Ignatius Loyola on Wikipedia where I discovered he was born in 1491 and, so, was about 8 when his follower gave the lecture in Nieder-Weimar. So let's pretend that was a Dominican, huh?

UPDATE SUNDAY: Happy birthday to my mother

Friday, August 06, 2010


MAGISTRATE, n. A judicial officer of limited jurisdiction and unbounded incapacity.

2010 Update: A functionary charged with maintaining peace and good order in a courtroom.

Thursday, August 05, 2010


MACROBIAN, n. One forgotten of the gods and living to a great age. History is abundantly supplied with examples, from Methuselah to Old Parr, but some notable instances of longevity are less well known. A Calabrian peasant named Coloni, born in 1753, lived so long that he had what he considered a glimpse of the dawn of universal peace. Scanavius relates that he knew an archbishop who was so old that he could remember a time when he did not deserve hanging. In 1566 a linen draper of Bristol, England, declared that he had lived five hundred years, and that in all that time he had never told a lie. There are instances of longevity (macrobiosis) in our own country. Senator Chauncey Depew is old enough to know better. The editor of The American, a newspaper in New York City, has a memory that goes back to the time when he was a rascal, but not to the fact. The President of the United States was born so long ago that many of the friends of his youth have risen to high political and military preferment without the assistance of personal merit. The verses following were written by a macrobian:
When I was young the world was fair
And amiable and sunny.
A brightness was in all the air,
In all the waters, honey.
The jokes were fine and funny,
The statesmen honest in their views,
And in their lives, as well,
And when you heard a bit of news
'Twas true enough to tell.
Men were not ranting, shouting, reeking,
Nor women "generally speaking."

The Summer then was long indeed:
It lasted one whole season!
The sparkling Winter gave no heed
When ordered by Unreason
To bring the early peas on.
Now, where the dickens is the sense
In calling that a year
Which does no more than just commence
Before the end is near?
When I was young the year extended
From month to month until it ended.

I know not why the world has changed
To something dark and dreary,
And everything is now arranged
To make a fellow weary.
The Weather Man — I fear he
Has much to do with it, for, sure,
The air is not the same:
It chokes you when it is impure,
When pure it makes you lame.
With windows closed you are asthmatic;
Open, neuralgic or sciatic.

Well, I suppose this new regime
Of dun degeneration
Seems eviler than it would seem
To a better observation,
And has for compensation
Some blessings in a deep disguise
Which mortal sight has failed
To pierce, although to angels' eyes
They're visible unveiled.
If Age is such a boon, good land!
He's costumed by a master hand!
—Venable Strigg
2010 Update: One whose span exceeds her grasp. A 47-year-old.
When I was young and spirits holy,
The earth revolved for my sake solely
But as I've since grown lined and gray
The world has turned another way,
Corrupt with greed and debauchery-
Nothing that it learned from me!
Cruel people with mendacious friends,
The missionary who now lends,
Among these, senior to an elephant
At last aware, now I'm irrelevant.
-Anne Bronte
Now, happy birthday for reals to Actonbell.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Routes of Laredo

I crossed a man upon the road
In cloak and hat and glasses,
He stepped and leapt from shade to tree
And whispers as he passes.

We came upon, the sneak and I,
A third man in the ditch
Mugged or stabbed or well run-down,
I couldn't tell you which.

Alarmed we were, the spy and I,
To that I can attest,
By the bruises on the third man's head
And the cuts upon his breast.

"Go send for the doctor and the preacher as well,"
The hidden man's nod did imply.
And seeing the paranoid by the came-to-harm,
I gladly ran off to comply.

When I returned, their senses had left them
The injured lay dead under cloak
The sneak, in his skivvies, was stuck in the boughs,
Hiding, I think, though we never spoke.

Beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly,
There's a lesson if you'd like to hear it-
If you're scared or unlucky, stay quiet and home,
Wherever you're heading, it's right that you fear it.

DESTINATION, n. The stop past your station.

Happy birthday eve to Actonbell!

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


MACE, n. A staff of office signifying authority. Its form, that of a heavy club, indicates its original purpose and use in dissuading from dissent.

2010 Update: A handheld disincentive for loutishness, available to the upstanding as a spray or a stick.

Monday, August 02, 2010


OMNIPRESENT, adj. Ecerywhere at once. That the power of omnipresence, or ubiquity, is denied to mortals was known as early as the time of Sir Gotle Roche, who in a speech in Parliament said: "A man cannot be in two places at once unless he is a bird,

2010 Update: Unnoticed.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Achtzig
To hear Trudi's story, give her a click.

Or, you can read at the Synod Horrenda.

The story so far is here.

Friday, July 30, 2010


SCARABAEUS, n. The sacred beetle of the ancient Egyptians, allied to our familiar "tumble-bug." It was supposed to symbolize immortality, the fact that God knew why giving it its peculiar sanctity. Its habit of incubating its eggs in a ball of ordure may also have commended it to the favor of the priesthood, and may some day assure it an equal reverence among ourselves. True, the American beetle is an inferior beetle, but the American priest is an inferior priest.

2010 Update: A symbol of the sun, found in a mound of dung. The more plausible easter egg.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


SCIMITAR, n. A curved sword of exceeding keenness, in the conduct of which certain Orientals attain a surprising proficiency, as the incident here related will serve to show. The account is translated from the Japanese by Shusi Itama, a famous writer of the thirteenth century.

When the great Gichi-Kuktai was Mikado he condemned to decapitation Jijiji Ri, a high officer of the Court. Soon after the hour appointed for performance of the rite what was his Majesty's surprise to see calmly approaching the throne the man who should have been at that time ten minutes dead!

"Seventeen hundred impossible dragons!" shouted the enraged monarch. "Did I not sentence you to stand in the market-place and have your head struck off by the public executioner at three o'clock? And is it not now 3:10?"

"Son of a thousand illustrious deities," answered the condemned minister, "all that you say is so true that the truth is a lie in comparison. But your heavenly Majesty's sunny and vitalizing wishes have been pestilently disregarded. With joy I ran and placed my unworthy body in the market-place. The executioner appeared with his bare scimetar, ostentatiously whirled it in air, and then, tapping me lightly upon the neck, strode away, pelted by the populace, with whom I was ever a favorite. I am come to pray for justice upon his own dishonorable and treasonous head."

"To what regiment of executioners does the black-boweledcaitiff belong?" asked the Mikado.

"To the gallant Ninety-eight Hundred and Thirty-seventh — I know the man. His name is Sakko-Samshi."

"Let him be brought before me," said the Mikado to an attendant, and a half-hour later the culprit stood in the Presence.

"Thou bastard son of a three-legged hunchback without thumbs!" roared the sovereign — "why didst thou but lightly tap the neck that it should have been thy pleasure to sever?"

"Lord of Cranes of Cherry Blooms," replied the executioner, unmoved, "command him to blow his nose with his fingers."

Being commanded, Jijiji Ri laid hold of his nose and trumpeted like an elephant, all expecting to see the severed head flung violently from him. Nothing occurred: the performance prospered peacefully to the close, without incident.

All eyes were now turned on the executioner, who had grown as white as the snows on the summit of Fujiama. His legs trembled and his breath came in gasps of terror.

"Several kinds of spike-tailed brass lions!" he cried; "I am a ruined and disgraced swordsman! I struck the villain feebly because in flourishing the scimetar I had accidentally passed it through my own neck! Father of the Moon, I resign my office."

So saying, he gasped his top-knot, lifted off his head, and advancing to the throne laid it humbly at the Mikado's feet.

2010 Update: A sword curved to rest gently along the throat. Civilization without the scrawl.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Temptation, and its causes

Temptation holds a pride of place
In man and his endeavors
Gold and flesh e'er turn our knobs
And pull on all our levers.

In youth the shining, soft or certain
Drives the young to draw the curtain
And conspire against the very things
To which our hearts appert'in.

And then as we grow sad and wiser
Eternity inspires the miser
To prepare a lasting legacy
As life churns him to fertilizer.

But with my youth by now gone by
Through older eyes I see,
A sinful motor may turn my eye
But the devil driving is irony.
-Cyrus Moody

TEMPTATION, n. The nearest thing out of reach.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


SAFETY-CLUTCH, n. A mechanical device acting automatically to prevent the fall of an elevator, or cage, in case of an accident to the hoisting apparatus.
Once I seen a human ruin
In an elevator-well,
And his members was bestrewin'
All the place where he had fell.

And I says, apostrophisin'
That uncommon woful wreck:
"Your position's so surprisin'
That I tremble for your neck!"

Then that ruin, smilin' sadly
And impressive, up and spoke:
"Well, I wouldn't tremble badly,
For it's been a fortnight broke."

Then, for further comprehension
Of his attitude, he begs
I will focus my attention
On his various arms and legs —

How they all are contumacious;
Where they each, respective, lie;
How one trotter proves ungracious,
T'other one an alibi.

These particulars is mentioned
For to show his dismal state,
Which I wasn't first intentioned
To specifical relate.

None is worser to be dreaded
That I ever have heard tell
Than the gent's who there was spreaded
In that elevator-well.

Now this tale is allegoric —
It is figurative all,
For the well is metaphoric
And the feller didn't fall.

I opine it isn't moral
For a writer-man to cheat,
And despise to wear a laurel
As was gotten by deceit.

For 'tis Politics intended
By the elevator, mind,
It will boost a person splendid
If his talent is the kind.

Col. Bryan had the talent
(For the busted man is him)
And it shot him up right gallant
Till his head begun to swim.

Then the rope it broke above him
And he painful come to earth
Where there's nobody to love him
For his detrimented worth.

Though he's livin' none would know him,
Or at leastwise not as such.
Moral of this woful poem:
Frequent oil your safety-clutch.
—Porfer Poog
2010 Update: An invention of Elisha Otis for the purpose that the descent of man not be accelerated by the descent of men.

Monday, July 26, 2010


SACERDOTALIST, n. One who holds the belief that a clergyman is a priest. Denial of this momentous doctrine is the hardest challenge that is now flung into the teeth of the Episcopalian church by the Neo-Dictionarians.

2010 Update: One who believes that, as the son of man was raised up, so must the priests be raised up- although on a stage rather than a cross. Sacerdotalism was fervently opposed by early Protestants who preferred a scaffold.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Achtzig
To listen, follow the Marburger soldier

Or, you can read from the apple tree.

The story so far is here.