Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Independence Day 2010

As once again, July 4
Comes a-rapping at the door
The patriot's dilemma quickens
Beaks of macaws, eagles and chickens.
As we, chirpy, contemplate
Our nation's most auspicious date,
Consider flying in unity,
To form a letter besides "V."
-Winston Franklin

HONOR, n. Humility.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


DAY, n. A period of twenty-four hours, mostly misspent. This period is divided into two parts, the day proper and the night, or day improper — the former devoted to sins of business, the latter consecrated to the other sort. These two kinds of social activity overlap.

2010 Update: A unit of explanation equal to 96 Ennuis.

Monday, June 28, 2010


DARLING, n. The bore of opposite sex in an early stage of development.

2010 Update: The apple of an orchard-keeper's eye. A term of elevation befitting the condescended.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Sechsundsiebzig
To listen, what harm could there possibly be in asking the old feller at right.

Or, you can read this week's episode with Paul and Silas.

The story so far is here.

Friday, June 25, 2010


GRIP, n. Ex-Speaker Park's manner of fondling the property of the commonwealth.
He has so hard-and-fast a grip
That nothing from his fist can slip.
Well-buttered eels you might find o'erwhelm
In tubs of liquid slippery elm
In vain-from his detaining cinch
They could not struggle half an inch.
'Tis lucky that he so is planned
His breath he draws not with his hand,
For, if he did, so great his greed
He'd draw his last with eager speed.
Nay, that were well, you say. Not so-
He'd draw but never let it go.
2010 Update: The wag of a woman.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


GRIFFIN, n. An animal having the body and legs of a beast and the head and wings of a bird. It is now thought to be extinct, though Arsene Marsil saw one as lately as 1783, in the Vosges. Its fossil remains in singular preservation are so frequently found in the ruins of ancient cities that many eminent scientists (including Drs. Harkness and Behr, of the California Academy of Sciences) suppose it to have been generally domesticated. Linnaeus, following Pliny, calls it the Quadrupavis amalgamata mirabilis, but the learned Professor of Natural History at the Berkeley University ingeniously points out that it belongs to the genus Aquileo. Like the mule (Asinequus ostinatus) the griffin owed nothing to the Creator: it was the result of an entangling alliance between the eagle and the lion.

2010 Update: An animal that looked like a lion in departure and a canary on approach. It is speculated to have been a forbear of the modern manager (Homo intoxicus.)

Update: An uninfernal birthday to Ambrose Bierce.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Ceres' in the knight time

A farm's a place for heroic yeomen,
For robust women and hired nomen,
For mighty oxen, fearsome cows,
Busy bees and ripping plows,
For beavers building by the lagoon
And yapping dogs who die too soon,
And horses proud and obsolete
And tractors roaring in the heat
And wildcats stalking out their pray
And owls calling end of day.

But in that wide diversity
Of virtues far beyond the city,
The hero all his fellows follow
Is the scarecrow, piked, pecked and hollow.

LEADERSHIP, n. A novel complaint. Avant-garde grief.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


GAWK, n. A person of imperfect grace, somewhat overgiven to the vice of falling over his own feet.

2010 Update: Beauty, in the eyes of the beheld. See also: LEER.

Monday, June 21, 2010


GAWBY, n. A Hector A Stuart.

2010 Update: A babbling idiot as identified in an obsolete vocabulary.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil F├╝nfundsiebzig
To hear this week's episode, approach the palace at right.

Or, you can read this week's episode behind the black door.

The story so far is here.

Friday, June 18, 2010


CREST, n. An heraldic device displayed by the American descendants of Sir Crassus Vulgarius, Bearonet, one of the famous retainers of William the Corncurer.
Son of ten fathers! would you sport a crest
To honor one, ignoring all the rest.
The one who in his life you did disgrace
By taking on his name without his face?
His crest? The only one he knew, poor fool,
Adorned the dunce-cap that he wore at school.
Go paint a dandelion and a rag
Upon your panels, and then gravely brag
About their origin- how every panel
Proves that the founder of your line was Dan'l,
Who, cast among the lions' growling pack,
Contemptuously turned on them his back;
But one presuming brute, tradition teaches,
Tore with his tooth the seat of Dan'l's breeches.
'Twas thus the dent de lion and the rag
Became the arms of that illustrious wag.
And ever since each male of Dan'l's line,
Yourself included, as a pious sign
And token of his Scriptural descent,
Has worn a rag protruding from a rent.
2010 Update: An illustrated topknot by which American freemen may lay claim to European authority.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


CRITIC, n. A person who boasts himself hard to please because nobody tries to please him.
There is a land of pure delight,
Beyond the Jordan's flood,
Where saints, apparelled all in white,
Fling back the critic's mud.

And as he legs it through the skies,
His pelt a sable hue,
He sorrows sore to recognize
The missiles that he threw.
—Orrin Goof
2010 Update: A craftsman working in the arts of others.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Wine in the bottle

Let us spare ourselves a friendly word
For the finest things that ne'er occurred
For the war and rhyme and infidelity
We dreamt but that weren't meant to be.

To the stories passionately told
Of Cleopatra in her gown of gold,
And dancing girls whose eyes are bold,
Leering at the soft and old.

To important drunkards and their tales
Of success in which the whole world fails
A toast to each, and for each a round
And a turned ear out for every sound.

To fishes caught, the size of manses,
To exotic women and their dances
To daring do done without fear-
Heroic feats I see from here.

I raise my glass and bow my head
To heroic, happy quick and dead
The tree of patriots who fled,
Fertilized with blood unshed

For in our faith and our delusions
We're martyrs made without contusions
The tree of liberty was sappened
With history that never happened.

As one, we'll revel in the pasts
That one day will come true, at last.
The most compelling that make most sense
Are told with nostalgia in future tense.
-Thos. Jefferson

HISTORICAL, adj. Of or pertaining to remembered expectations.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


CUR, n. The lowest rank in the hierarchy of dogs.

2010 Update: A dog, scandalized by the cruel comparison of a man to it.

Monday, June 14, 2010


CURIOSITY, n. An objectionable quality of the female mind. The desire to know whether or not a woman is cursed with curiosity is one of the most active and insatiable passions of the masculine soul.

2010 Update: Dissatisfaction with existing misapprehensions. Desire without fingers.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Vierundsiebzig
To hear this week's episode, approach the schoolmaster at right.

Or, you can read this week's episode in the brothel.

The story so far is here.

Friday, June 11, 2010


EUCHRE, n. A game of cards in which the highest cards and the best players are knaves.

2010 Update: Farming in the rain.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


EXCEPTION, n. A thing which takes the liberty to differ from other things of its class, as an honest man, a truthful woman, etc. "The exception proves the rule" is an expression constantly upon the lips of the ignorant, who parrot it from one another with never a thought of its absurdity. In the Latin, "Exceptio probat regulam" means that the exception tests the rule, puts it to the proof, not confirms it. The malefactor who drew the meaning from this excellent dictum and substituted a contrary one of his own exerted an evil power which appears to be immortal.

2010 Update: A burglar among thieves.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Ode to my knees (An die knien)

When I was young a long day I'd ride,
A-flexing in the saddle.
Through porcelanic moonlight's tide
And noontime heat from cattle's hide.

But four decades have set their traps-
After fifteen hours in a chair-
My knees now creak like leather straps
As I stand or sit and stand and sit and bear without the chaps.

Heaven bless this weathered cartilage,
No longer supple but still sublime,
Who but the foolish, youngish pledge
Would try rising all the time?

AUTUMN, n. The last season of folly before Christmas.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010


ELOPE, v.i. To exchange the perils and inconveniences of a fixed residence for the security and comfort of travel.

2010 Update: To forsake tradition for the sake of ritual in a marriage alliance.

Monday, June 07, 2010


ELEPHANT, n. A joker of the animal kingdom, having a flexible nose and limited warehouse accomodation for his teeth.

2010 Update: Man, were he his own creator. The elephant features great ears for slapping flies or acquiring gossip from outside his sphere of interest, the appetite of a child, a peerless snout for snorting derision, sufficient strength to drag a host of anecdotes into the distant future and the enormous capacity to carry with him his own impression of himself including that he is hummingbird.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

The Reformation of Wolfshausen

Teil Dreiundsiebzig
To hear this week's episode, send a pig to ask the author.

Or, you can read this week's episode by clicking on the mighty fortress.

The story so far is here.

Friday, June 04, 2010


FRAIL, adj. Infirm; liable to betrayal, as a woman who has made up her mind to sin.

2010 Update: Menacing. Caritaphagic.

Thursday, June 03, 2010


FRANKALMOIGNE, n. The tenure by which a religious corporation holds lands on condition of praying for the soul of the donor. In mediaeval times many of the wealthiest fraternities obtained their estates in this simple and cheap manner, and once when Henry VIII of England sent an officer to confiscate certain vast possessions which a fraternity of monks held by frankalmoigne, "What!" said the Prior, "would your master stay our benefactor's soul in Purgatory?" "Ay," said the officer, coldly, "an ye will not pray him thence for naught he must e'en roast." "But look you, my son," persisted the good man, "this act hath rank as robbery of God!" "Nay, nay, good father, my master the king doth but deliver him from the manifold temptations of too great wealth."

2010 Update: A sacrifice made to the LORD of hosts in exchange for those battalions otherwise unengaged.
Once upon a time, a thane of Scotland established by way of Frankalmoigne a monastery upon a rocky crest. The abbot, also a Scot, promised vigorous prayer by the brothers for the "Wee" of the thane's house and descendents. And so it was henceforth until a grandson of the original thane, during a down-market in wool, replaced the monks' annual shipment of lamb with fleece.
The thane, then an old man, came into the great hall one evening to put out the torches only to find his grandson lying murdered amid the monks.
"Och!" cried the donor, "Ye merdurin' rapscallions! me purr wee grandson! I'll gae nothin' fuir his hide and tallow! Yuir sappose ta be prayin' fuir his soul!"
"Indeed we were," explained the abbot, "fervently, but we know how you and the almighty despise excess."

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Charlie's lament

Homecoming weekend, the brass trombones blare
For the meek and the frail and the absent,
Remembrance in procession, unushered by care,
March proudly and loudly through a two-day event.
Lupine in blossom and loco weed, too,
Herald the august unheralded few
Who seeded a world that courted them too
And did all that they weren't too busy to do.

Listen now, children, for the sake of your sanity
And if you learn nothing else, learn this:
"In vain," the preacher cried, "all is but vanity!"
But at least at reunion, the vanity's earnest.

ALUMNUS, n. An itinerant merchant specializing in the exchange of admiration for a bad example.

(Photos: Old red truck for Jim, and an Inyo Black Toad, the mascot of Deep Springs College.)

Tuesday, June 01, 2010


FRATRICIDE, n. The act of killing a jackass for meat.

2010 Update: Patergenesis.