Antisthecon (an-tis’-the-con): Substitution of one sound, syllable, or letter for another within a word. A kind of metaplasm: the general term for changes to word spelling.

I had brunch at the Broker’s Bar, Grill, and “I scream.” I had the poached egg sundae with strawberry ice cream, and 4 lean “barkin” strips on the side. Woof. Woof. Ha! Ha! Good.

After brunch I went to the bus station to pick up Tess. She’d been out of the City for a couple of days visiting an ashram in Northern New Jersey. As usual, she was dressed like a slut, but I don’t care—she’s my sister, and she stops traffic with her naughty garb—all the tattoos hanging out. One of them is a total puzzle though. It’s a red pickup truck with her driving and giving the finger out the window. I’ve asked 50 times what the tattoo signifies and she won’t tell me. I know she dated a used car salesmen for awhile, but she never bought a truck from him (as far as I know).

Anyway, me and Tess had a great afternoon. We spent some time “riminiscing” about my professional basketball career. My nickname was “Basket Case” and she always thought that was very funny. Then, I asked her about the truck tattoo again. She laughed and pulled up her dress and showed me the leg. The tattoo was gone! She told me she had it removed because she was sick of me asking her what it signified. I hung my head and asked her if she was going to fill the space with a new tattoo. She told me she was thinking of Trump with a bullet hole in his forehead. I almost fell out of my chair. Then, Tess laughed and said, “Just kidding. I’m actually getting a tattoo of Jeff Bezos’ spaceship ‘Blue Origin’ with Scrooge McDuck riding it.” I could see what that signified. I asked if Huey, Dewy, and Louie were riding inside. We laughed. Then, Tess said she had to go. She was painting a mural in the lobby of a very upscale hotel. The theme was “Coming and Going.” She said she was listening to Boy George’s “Karma Chameleon” while she painted. That was pretty funny. We laughed again and hugged goodbye.

I love my sister. I can’t wait to see her again.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Antithesis (an-tith’-e-sis): Juxtaposition of contrasting words or ideas (often, although not always, in parallel structure).

Open and closed—doors, windows, safes, wounds. What is opened will not always eventually be closed, no matter how desperately we may desire it to be. We know this. We live this. We may fear this in the anguish of not being able to close what is open, or open what is closed. A door with a broken lock. A window painted shut. A safe that won’t unlock. These things can eventually be repaired DYI, or by a tradesperson. But wounds aren’t as straightforward. Doctors may do their best to heal festering cuts and swollen scrapes, but there is also chronic illness—it must be managed, it can’t be cured. And, of course, not all disease or wounding is physical. For example, a battered and broken heart, torn and twisted by love’s travails.

Nobody knows how to heal a broken heart: when hope contracts, despair expands. The passage of time may make it sort of well, or it may make it worse. Finding a new lover may make life better. The person may be like a medicated bandaid stuck across your heart. They may soothe. They may dull the pain. They may even heal almost all of your heart’s despair.

It is your memory that thwarts complete healing: The person you ran from visits your dreams. The “good times” filter through your consciousness. The dinners. The TV time. The sex. The vacations. The good memories start to eclipse the bad memories—being bossed around, being belittled, being marginalized. In dreams, day and night—bereft of the ordeals—your life together is sanitized, romanticized, idealized, and yet, there is still the pain. The pain may be indelible—a reminder of where not to go, and how not to get there. With your new lover, though, the pain may be dimishing, but it will never completely go away. Let it be a source of wisdom. Let it lecture your soul.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Antitheton (an-tith’-e-ton): A proof or composition constructed of contraries. Antitheton is closely related to and sometimes confused with the figure of speech that juxtaposes opposing terms, antithesis. However, it is more properly considered a figure of thought (=Topic of Invention: Contraries [a topic of invention in which one considers opposite or incompatible things that are of the same kind (if they are of different kinds, the topic of similarity / difference is more appropriate). Because contraries occur in pairs and exclude one another, they are useful in arguments because one can establish one’s case indirectly, proving one’s own assertion by discrediting the contrary]).

Him: Opposites attract. I’ve heard that so many times. Did you ever see hot and cold running toward each other like soup and ice? The soup melts the ice. The ice cools off the soup. What kind of attraction is that? They kill each other. What about light and dark? A cheap flashlight will make the dark into light. I don’t see how they’re attracted to each other. If they were attracted, they wouldn’t cancel each other out.

Her: As usual you’ve got it wrong. It isn’t natural order (except for magnets) that the saying pertains to. It’s people and their character attributes, their life choices, their preferences, their manners. “You say tomato, I say tomahto. You say potato, I say potahto.” You have a smell that I find repelling and compelling. I shower every day and smell like a rose, and you like it. You like to bike, I like to jog. I think biking is sexy—your legs and buns in motion. You think jogging is sexy, the way I jiggle and sweat. There are a ton more examples—we’re not soup and ice.

Him: But shouldn’t we have common likes and dislikes too?

Her: Of course! What we like in common is each other. If we just liked what’s the same about us, it would be like being alone, looking in a mirror. Come here honey! Let me smell your neck!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Apagoresis (a-pa-gor’-e-sis): A statement designed to inhibit someone from doing something. Often uses exaggeration [or hyperbole] to persuade. It may combine an exaggeration with a cause/effect or antecedent/consequence relationship. The consequences or effects of such a phrase are usually exaggerated to be more convincing.

Dad: If you don’t stop doing that every night, your thing will wear down to a tiny nub and you’ll never get a chance to use it the way God intended—as a procreation implement, like the bull out there in the corral with his thing. Did you ever see him do to himself what you do to your self? Of course, the answer is “No.” Big Ted’s not a pervert. He’s a bull. And if people find out what you’re doing, you might be hauled off to the State Mental Institution for unnatural impulses and self abuse. Then, you will have a permanent record. You won’t be able the get a decent job, and your mother, God bless her, will be humiliated and will never leave the house again.

Son: So Dad, how do you know what I do in bed at night?

Dad: There’s a spy cam hidden in your room. It’s the best way I know to monitor your nocturnal habits and take measures when they overstep the limits of propriety, as your nightly self-abuse certainly does. We should’ve had this talk a lot sooner, but I hate confrontations. I’m glad we finally got around to it.

Son: You’re a pervert. I’m shocked, hurt, angered and disgusted, you scumbag creep. I’m getting the hell out of here and checking into a shelter until they can find me a foster home. I’m packing. You better stay out of my way asshole! Your days as a voyeur are done. You may be hearing from the police very soon. Now, get the hell out of my way!!

Definitions courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Aphaeresis (aph-aer’-e-sis): The omission of a syllable or letter at the beginning of a word. A kind of metaplasm.

A: If an ant can’t do it, can an aunt? Ha ha! This is the kind of humor that makes the world go ‘round and maybe even go out of orbit. Ha ha! Then, we’d have to write its orbituary. Ha ha! Get it? Obituary/Orbituary? Ha ha!

B: Can you please shut up so I can finish filling out these divorce papers?

A: What? Since when are we getting a divorce?

B: Since I’ve been putting up with you and your stupid jokes for five terrible years.

A: Are you saying my jokes stink? Should I drain them down the sink? Ha ha! Get it? Stink/sink. Come on. You can crack a smile.

B: Crack a smile? I’ll crack your head if you don’t shut up.

A: You’re making Butch very mad. He wants you to apologize to me and tear up the divorce papers. He may be a dummy, but he does what I ask.

Butch-the-dummy: I am damn mad now, and it is no joke Mrs. Ratcar. Tear ‘em up Mrs. Ratcar.

B: Why don’t you climb back in your box, Butch, and take Mr. Ratcar with you?

(one half-hour later)

Knock on the Door: Is this where Henry Ratcar the comedian lives? We’re here to interview him for Entertainment Tonight for his upcoming special “Ratcar Comedy Live From Las Vegas.”

A: Yikes! I completely forgot! Come in. Never mind my wife. She took a sleeping pill and fell asleep in her chair. Please excuse the torn up papers on the floor—junk mail headed for the trash.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Aphorismus ( a-phor-is’-mus): Calling into question the proper use of a word.

A: Hey, dickweed, you’re in New Jersey now. Maybe in California you call your Ma “Mother,” but here in Jersey, it’s short for motherfu**er, which itself is used to modify almost every noun in the English language with the addition of “in” at the end, and maybe, with the adjectives “goddamn” or “fu**in” or “friggin” modifying motherfu**in too. So, if you say “my mother” people will look at you like you’re crazy, and you may even get shot—not fatally, but as a warning in the leg or shoulder. So talk right or get hurt Mr. California.

B: You’re joking, right? I love my mother, and she will always be my mother.

A: Uh oh. Tacky, you crazy mother, put the motherfu**in gun away. He just got here. He grew up in California for Christ’s sake. He doesn’t know sh*t. Just give him the fu**in slaparoo face massage. He’ll straighten out. He’ll make a good motherfu**in collector.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Apocarteresis (a-po-car-ter’-e-sis): Casting of all hope away from one thing and placing it on another source altogether.

Rubik’s Cube. Its popularity took off like a jumbo jet from a golden runway. Everybody had one. Twisting. Twisting. Twisting. People couldn’t stop—it was like they were on a treadmill set somehow beyond the speed of sound, plastic almost melting, twisting colored segments in a blur. People started getting wrist injuries, having marital problems, becoming agoraphobes, and losing their jobs for lack of attendance and playing with their Rubik’s Cubes on the job, either blatantly at their work stations, or in the restroom. One bus driver drove off a bridge. Thank God his bus was empty! Too bad for the driver.

All this and more led to the Rubik’s cube’s declining popularity. They sat on the shelves, unpurchased. They were selling for pennies on the dollar at wholesale venues. I had just taken a course in entrepreneurism at Trump University and was ready to make some fast cash according to what I had learned. Buy cheap, sell high. I invested everything I had in discounted Rubik’s Cubes, believing they would make a quick comeback.

My garage was filled to the rafters with them. I rented a warehouse that was filled too. I sat on them for years while I continued work at CVS and hope. But the Cubes were going nowhere: I couldn’t unload them for my cost. I just didn’t see the handwriting on the wall when I cornered the market. All I could see was “buy cheap, sell high.” Finally, after weeks of anguishing, I decided to do something: to stop waiting for something that would never happen. But what would I do?

It was time to turn my pain into gain—to break from past, sitting on the cubes like they were going to hatch. Staying up late, hardly eating, working like a dog, I determined by experimenting that if you Superglue Rubik’s Cubes together in just the right way, you can make them into lamps, footstools, picture frames, bars, headboards, dining room tables, and even couches.

My attempt at making my first couch ended in disaster. I spilled an entire jumbo-sized tube of Superglue all over my hand and then went to pick up the sofa I was finishing. My entire hand bonded to the couch’s underside. Me and the couch had to go to the emergency room together in a panel truck. They joked about amputating my hand. That made me mad. Anyway, they got my hand unglued with solvent. I told them I would give them the Rubik’s Couch—my first couch—for all of their help. All the staff laughed at me, and the chief nurse told me to “get that ridiculous piece of crap out of here.” I took a cab to U-Haul, drove back to the hospital, and paid a couple of orderlies to help me load my Rubik’s Couch. When I got home, I pulled the couch out of the back of the U-Haul and dragged it into the garage.

Then it happened!

Lady Gaga and Jimmy Carter endorsed my Rubik’s Furniture. Sales went crazy. I have hired 10 glue-men to assemble the furniture. I own most of the world’s Rubik’s Cubes, so I’m set. “Ruby-Cubey-Doo” is one of the most successful furniture businesses in the word, selling 500,000 Rubik units per year. I am rich.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Apocope (a-pok’-o-pe): Omitting a letter or syllable at the end of a word. A kind of metaplasm.

Dad: You’re goin’ to school whether you like it or not! You’re gettin’ a education if I have to kill you, you little bugger. George Washington, the father of our country, went to school and wrote his notes with a piece a cow poop on the back of a fryin’ pan. There’s plenty of poop from Woopow aroun’ the yard you could use, and grandma even gave you her old pen from 4th grade. All you need to do is dip it in ink and it’s ready to go, you little malingerer.

Why won’t you go to school son? It can’t be that hard. I made it to 7th grade an’ it was a breeze. I took woodshop, home economics, and trigonometry in my last semester.

Son: There’s a bully who picks on me because we moved here from New York. He calls me “City Slicker,” “Crime Boss,” and “Yankee” and pushes me down on the playground.

Dad: Son, you know we moved down here to build a new branch of the family business. I know it’s been hard on you—all these people coming over here day and night, my sore knuckles, and the pile of credit cards on the dining room table.

Let’s do this: Tell me the bully’s name and he’ll never bully you again.

Son: Gee Dad—you’re the best. Can you, me, and Mom go out for a ice cream?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Apodixis (a-po-dix’-is): Proving a statement by referring to common knowledge or general experience.

A: I am a space alien. I constantly wear this fish bowl on my head. Without it, my head would melt into some kind of Earth-goo. I would die. Have you ever seen a space alien not wearing a fishbowl? Of course not, but you still don’t believe me. Notice how I am able to prance around the room. My prancing capacities are due to the lighter pull of Earth’s gravity. On my planet, we must be lifted by cranes from our chairs and we can only walk two or three feet before resting. You do understand gravity, don’t you? But, you still don’t believe me. Ok ok. Let’s have a look at my spaceship in the driveway. We all know that space aliens can’t get here unless they fly here in a spaceship!

B: It’s your mother’s Ford Fiesta.

A: She’s not my mother, I just live here. Now, let’s have a look at this so-called ‘Ford Fiesta.’ Notice, it has windows and seatbelts—absolutely necessary for blasting off, space cruising, and landing. The wheels are handy too. Let’s take a look under the hood—I’ll show you the power plant.

B: Oh, okay, gotta see the power plant. Is it 4 cylinder? Ha ha!

A: Behold, the power plant!

B: You’re insane—it’s a walnut!

A: Yes. Notice it’s got a subtle red glow, and it’s putting out a little heat right now. We all know, where there’s heat there’s energy and where there’s energy there’s power. If I shift it into drive, and press the actuator with my foot, I’m flyin’ home. Surely you believe me now. Want to do some Space Truckin’? Maybe we’ll run into Deep Purple up there! Or Leonard Nimoy. Or HAL. You never know! Ha ha!

B: I’m calling 911 mister space loon. Hello 911? I’ve got a raging lunatic here. Yes, he’s in the driveway by his mother’s Ford Fiesta. Wait! He’s gone, and the car too and it smells like walnuts where the car was parked. Do you believe in space aliens?

911: No sir. We’ll send somebody over to give you a ride to the clinic. Routine observation.

B: A crowd was gathering in the driveway. I noticed two of them were wearing fishbowls on their heads. I hid inside the house and waited for my ride to the clinic.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Apophasis (a-pof’-a-sis): The rejection of several reasons why a thing should or should not be done and affirming a single one, considered most valid.

Should I burn down my house?

1. My neighbors will feel sorry for me: Ha ha! They hate me.

2. The flames will be beautiful to look at and smell like a campfire: sounds wimpy.

3. The ugly living room couch will finally be history: good reason, but not good enough, and it might survive given federal regulations requiring furniture to be fireproofed.

4. I’ll be on the TV news and the internet too: only if I get caught! Bad!

5. I will collect the insurance money: yeah, bingo—collect the insurance money! I’ll move to Costa Rica—no extradition!

I’m headed to the garage to get the gas can. Damn! It’s empty and I don’t have any lighters, or even matches. Now, I’ll have to go to Cliff’s, get some wooden matches and fill my gas can. Hmm, while I’m there I might as well get some scratch-off Take Five lotto tickets, and a pizza, a couple of Diet Cokes, some windshield washer, toilet paper, sunglasses, deodorant, gum, and a pair of socks.

You know, burning down my house may not be a good idea. Even if I collect the insurance money, I will probably get caught, go to jail, and not be able to shop at Cliff’s any more. That would be hell. So, I’m going thumbs down on the arson thing and I’m headed to Cliff’s to do a little shopping. I wonder what color socks I should get?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Apoplanesis (a-po-plan’-e-sis): Promising to address the issue but effectively dodging it through a digression.

Why did I do that—why did I sell our car? Nothing’s good enough for you—my job as a meat washer at the packing plant, my size 14 feet, my chronic cough, my incontinence, my teddy bear. Should I keep going? Ok—my electric trains, my mother, my vacuum cleaner collection: if it’s mine or me it sucks. If it’s you or yours, we can hear angels singing hallelujah, or hosanna or whatever the hell they sing when they witness perfection. But hey, let me point out, you’ve got bad breath and you’re a slob: I keep my basement room spotless and tidy, but your upstairs bedroom looks like it got hit by a tornado.

Oh well. See you later. I’m WALKING to Mel’s Market. I’m going to pick up a can of Drano, and some oatmeal. Do you need anything?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Aporia (a-po’-ri-a): Deliberating with oneself as though in doubt over some matter; asking oneself (or rhetorically asking one’s hearers) what is the best or appropriate way to approach something [=diaporesis].

I’ve been lost on Rte. 80 for about 12 hrs. Where the hell is the Delaware Water Gap? How can I be lost on Rte. 80? Did somebody sabotage my GPS? The battery’s dead anyway. But Rte. 80 is loaded with well-marked exits. Where is the damn Delaware Water Gap? I hear sirens and see flashing red lights in my in my rear view mirror. What’s going on? Why are they chasing me?

I pull over to the shoulder and start looking for my registration and insurance card. And just like that, the 2 New Jersey State Trooper cruisers roar past, sirens blaring, lights flashing. They must be going 100!

Where the hell is the Delaware Water Gap? I can see the river out my car window. The sky is clear. The stars are bright. Now, to complicate things, I hear a tapping sound coming from the passenger side of the car. I look and see an old badly dressed man riding shotgun. He says in his old man voice: “Son, Delaware Water Gap symbolizes your life’s divisions: you wife, your children, and your children’s hamster Wild Bill.”

Oh my God, It was my father. How had I forgotten he was in the car? Between being lost and forgetting, I was surely having some kind of mental breakdown. Then Dad said, “According to my phone’s GPS, We’re not lost. The Gap is five miles up the road.” I pulled over and borrowed Dad’s phone to call home. It was reassuring hearing my wife’s warm and comforting voice. I felt the Gap narrowing and wanted to turn around and go back home and be with my wife, children, and the hamster.

As we came up on the exit, Dad said “This is where I get out.” I thought he was joking, so I pulled over. He told me to keep his phone as he opened the car door. He instantly disappeared into the night. I jumped out of the car calling his name and looking for him. He was nowhere to be found.

I got back in the car, started it up, turned around, and headed back to Chatham. Aside from the cellphone, there wasn’t a trace of Dad in the car. I decided to report him missing the next day, which was really shitty of me. I got home around 8:00 am. I could smell coffee as I came through the door. I was carrying Dad’s cellphone in my hand. When my wife saw it, she smiled and reached for it. “You found my cellphone, I thought I lost it forever.” I told her I had found it in the car. I decided not to report Dad missing. Why?

He was in the little brass urn on the mantle.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Aposiopesis (a-pos-i-o-pee’-sis): Breaking off suddenly in the middle of speaking, usually to portray being overcome with emotion.

It’s Thanksgiving again and I’ve got to spend the day with the gaggle of morons called “my family.” There’s Roger my brother who is the most wicked farter in the United States of America. It’s so bad, the rotten egg smell follows him around like a miasma from the Edgar Allen Poe story: “The Murder of the Bellicose Butt.” Then there’s my sister Annette. At the slightest provocation she cries and pulls her hair and asks God to “kill them all.” The last time it happened was at CVS. She was looking at hair dye and I said in a dazzling pun, “Are you dying for a new color?” She went berserk—sobbing uncontrollably and yelling, “Hair I am. Hairs my life. I might as well commit hairy carry. You should. . .try to . . . God, kill them all.” I put my arm around her and we slowly walked out of CVS.

Are you getting an idea of the joys of Thanksgiving at my house? No? Then how about this:

There’s Aunt Venice. Her name should clue you in to her weirdness. She changed her name from Betty after she saw “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade,” which is set in Venice. I never understood it, but it is what it is. She thinks it’s funny to ask me about my penis: “How’s hangin?” is her favorite. But she has a repertoire: “Have you been letting you meat loaf, Clayton? You know Clayton, a hard man is good to find. You need to put some lead in your pencil, Clayton. When I frown she asks: “Do you have a boner to pick with me?”

You can imagine! This has been going on since I was seventeen. It was bad enough to be a little confused about my sexuality, but it was worse when Venice came for Thanksgiving from Miami and plied me with her dick sayings, and now she was coming again. I am 25 and I still dread the banter. I just hope she won’t ask me to move to Miami again, like she did last year. I was thinking about asking her about her vagina as a counter to her dick jokes, but I was afraid to and decided it was inappropriate anyway. She’s family (my father’s sister), but she has some serious problems.

There’s more to the story, but enough is enough. You don’t want hear about Mom and Dad and their ongoing kickboxing tournament, or my Grandpa’s tattoos.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Apostrophe (a-pos’-tro-phe): Turning one’s speech from one audience to another. Most often, apostrophe occurs when one addresses oneself to an abstraction, to an inanimate object, or to the absent.

There is a beginning and an end. Ends are beginnings and beginnings are ends. When one door closes, it is shut. What is the sound of one hand knitting? If a tree falls in the forrest with nobody there, who will help the squirrels? If a man tells you he is lying, may he be telling the truth? Who left the cake out in the rain?

Oh God, what’s wrong with me? Is anything actually wrong with me? You’ve got to help me stop asking the same questions over and over. Whenever I feel an upward inflection welling up in my voice I can’t stop it. Out comes a question—big questions, little questions, medium-sized questions. Why do questions have sizes? Oh no! See what I mean God? I did it again. Why? Oh damn (sorry God) I did it again. Why am I sorry? Yaaaaaa!

It started in Philosophy grad school. Questions are rewarded. Answers are punished. I became known as the Grand Inquisitor. I spoke with a Spanish Accent. My classmates hated me. I dropped out and got a PhD in Psychology. I counseled people by asking them endless questions.

Please God, can you give me some answers? Or, better yet: ask me a question. Can you do that? How about just a little question? Like, what I had for lunch? Or, what color is my shirt? Or, when will they let me out of here?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Apothegm (a’-po-th-e-gem): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, gnome, maxim, paroemia, proverb, and sententia.

“If you can’t choo choo don’t call yourself a train.” Uncle Wizzer.

That’s what I’m telling you, and like any words of wisdom, they’re perfectly clear. Crystal clear, in fact. My uncle Wizzer taught this saying to me when I was eight years old. He’d gotten his nickname because he could run faster than anybody in Broken Hole Montana where I grew up. He was my mama’s brother and he never walked.

I’ll never forget the time I saw him running out of Best Buy with a flat screen TV. Ten people were chasing him and yelling. I couldn’t hear what they were yelling as Uncle Wizzer whizzed past me. Maybe I should’ve tried to tackle him, but as far as I was concerned, I told the police, “whoever he was” I thought he was probably in a hurry to get home and watch his new TV. Based on what I told them, the police decided I wasn’t an accessory. Also, “the perpetrator” wore a Goofy mask in the store and nobody could identify him. He tore it off when he came running out of the Best Buy entrance. That’s how I knew who he was. Also, he yelled “choo choo” as he ran past me.

The CCTV outside Best Buy caught Uncle Wizzer with his mask off. It was just a matter of time before the police caught up with him. Two days before he was arrested, he stopped by the house with a big rectangular package. I instantly knew it was the stolen TV. Uncle Wizzer handed it to me. We didn’t have cable TV, but I didn’t care because we had one broadcast channel from Billings. Every time I watched Captain Kangaroo, and Mister Green Jeans would say something wise, I would think of Uncle Wizzer and very quietly say “choo choo” to myself.

I couldn’t run as fast as Uncle Wizzer, but I could steal things, and I did.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Appositio (ap-po-sit’-i-o): Addition of an adjacent, coordinate, explanatory or descriptive element.

I was minding my own business—standing there alone, not caring, not the slightest bit curious. Then, I heard somebody yell: “Stop staring at me! What, do I look like a national monument?” It was Lincoln! He was sitting in his giant stone chair in the Washington, DC memorial named after him. He was yelling at me.

My God, I thought—this can’t be happening. When I decided to visit our nation’s Capitol, I thought it would be ok. Moreover, I took my medication that morning. And most significantly, none of the other monuments I visited that morning had yelled at me or even talked to me.

As luck would have it, I was alone in the Lincoln Memorial. No way to do a reality check. Then Lincoln asked “Do you know what ‘four score and seven’ means?” I told him I was afraid I had no idea. “You and everybody else! Damn it! It ruined my speech!” He yelled. I could see he was trying to stand up, but he couldn’t— his stone body made a grinding sound as he struggled, but he couldn’t get up from his giant chair.

“There’s a ladder and a can of black spray paint on the floor behind me. I want you to set up the ladder, climb it, and paint over ‘four score and seven‘ so nobody can read it—so nobody can be confused by it or make fun of it any more.

I looked behind Lincoln’s statue and was shocked to find a ladder and can of black spray paint standing there. I asked Lincoln how it got there and he told me not to worry about it right now. “Lean up the ladder, pick up the can, shake it real good, and start painting. I’ll make you a General in the Union Army.”

I did Lincoln’s bidding and was climbing down the ladder when I heard somebody yell “Stop what you’re doing and drop the can.” It wasn’t Lincoln—he pretended he didn’t know anything—mute and stock still—checked out. He just sat there staring straight ahead.

The Park Police handcuffed me. The Capitol Police took me to Med-Star Hospital. I was under observation in a little room when I heard a voice identifying itself as my mattress, who was quite sympathetic to my plight. He started telling me mattress jokes, like about going soft, sleeping on it, nothing else mattress, etc. Made me laugh! I knew I was going to be ok.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Mattress jokes:


Ara (a’-ra): Cursing or expressing detest towards a person or thing for the evils they bring, or for inherent evil.

You stole everything from me you goddamned piece of shit. My heart. My home. My savings. My self-respect.

You are such a spectacular liar, you’ve turned my friends, and even my family, against me. But, I do have character witnesses who will be testifying on my behalf at my trial. I met them here on Ward 12 and they all promise to take their medication before testifying.

I don’t know how it came to this. I still don’t understand how you took everything from me and said it was justified by my mental incompetence, the “horrible thing” I did to you, your “need for safety” from my “viscous madness” and your need to protect my wealth and property from my craziness (diagnosed by a quack friend of yours at the psychiatric hospital).

What the hell did I ever do to you you back-stabbing, sulfur-stinking spawn of Satan? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. My lawyer Fido will get me off and get me everything back. He’s a cute Airedale Terrier who went to Harvard and knows how to deal with so-called “people” like you. He visits me nearly every night in my room. My other lawyer, Mr. Nelson, is an idiot. He wants me to plead insanity and get me the lightest sentence possible. When I told Fido, he growled and wouldn’t stop barking. That’s enough for me! No deals Mr. Nelson.

See you in court devil man!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Articulus (ar-tic’-u-lus): Roughly equivalent to “phrase” in English, except that the emphasis is on joining several phrases (or words) successively without any conjunctions (in which case articulus is simply synonymous with the Greek term asyndeton). See also brachylogia.

Articulus is also best understood in terms of differing speeds of style that depend upon the length of the elements of a sentence. The Ad Herennium author contrasts the the slower speed of concatenated membra (see membrum) to the quicker speed possible via articulus.

Left, right, left. Left, right, left. Marching, marching, marching, marching. Hup, two, three, four. What are we marching for? Courage? Redemption? Clarity? Connection? Where are we going? What’s the point? People die. Birds fly. People cry. Babies smile and say “Bye, bye.”

All the big questions can’t be answered with certainty, only with hope, fear, charity, cynicism, music, poetry; fervently, fearfully, recklessly. The game is rigged. The diseases rage. Injustice is rampant. Truth is flat on its back. Rittenhouse is free. What about you and me?

Definition and commentary courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Aschematiston: The use of plain, unadorned or unornamented language. Or, the unskilled use of figurative language. A vice. [Outside of any particular context of use or sense of its motive, it may be difficult to determine what’s “plain, unadorned or unornamented language.” The same is true of the “unskilled use of figurative language.”]

1. The Red Fox jumped over the fence. He landed on the other side and kept going. He was hunting mice. The mice lived in the field. He caught a mouse and chewed its head off before he ate it. Then, he went on his way. I watched hm until he disappeared into the woods on the other side of the field. Then, I climbed over the fence to examine the mouse’s head. It’s eyes were glassy and it’s nose was dripping blood. I put the head in the plastic sandwich bag I carried on my country walks. When I got home I would boil the head until the flesh fell off. Then, I would add it to my skull collection. So far, I had a crow, a rabbit, a groundhog, a squirrel, a raccoon, a vagrant, and a chicken.

2. The Northern Lights looked like strands of colored spaghetti dangling overhead— the stars looked like twinkling flecks of Parmesan cheese, shaken from above, seasoning the display with their shimmering cheesiness. I had been in Iceland for two weeks waiting to spot the Lights. I was collecting dust like a tabletop in a sawmill. I was a tire waiting to roll. Finally, the Lights appeared. I was happy as a crayon rubbing around on a piece of paper.

It was time to go back to New York.

Iceland is pile of old lava with smelly steam coming out of holes in the ground everywhere. Iceland is a lava lullaby where it is either light or dark all the time. I had seen the Northern Lights. One more thing to erase from the list of things I want to do. Next, I will visit Liberty Park in New Jersey. After that, maybe the Tesla factory—it will be electrifying!

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Bracketed text added by Gorgias.


Asphalia (as-fay’-li-a): Offering oneself as a guarantee, usually for another.

You know me: Johnny Limbo. My motto is “How low can you go?” That’s what I ask my clients before I loan them money & we’re not talking about interest rates. Mike, here, will do anything to get a few bucks from me to support his La Bonnotte Potato habit. At $320 per pound you gotta have the money. Mike knows what he likes.

Sometimes it takes a little ‘prodding’ to get my loan payment from Mike, but he hasn’t left town or tried to kill me. That stub where his left pinky used to be shows what he’ll go through to keep his promises.

Extremely trustworthy. Kind of cautious. Got the eyes of a Potato. Ha! Ha! That was a joke.

Bottom line: Mike needs a job. You give him a job and I’ll make sure he takes care of business—mine and yours. Since he’ll be using his hands for work, I’ll start focusing my disciplinary measures on his feet.

Remember, this is Johnny Limbo vouching for Mike. My word is like a gun aimed at your head.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Assonance (ass’-o-nance): Repetition of similar vowel sounds, preceded and followed by different consonants, in the stressed syllables of adjacent words.

Standing all along the bakery windows in colorful rows were the famous “Sons of Buns.” They were bite size jelly donuts with glazed frosting in different pastel colors. I bought a half-dozen of blues and reds every Friday night so we could have them for breakfast on Saturday. This had been going on for fifteen years of marriage and two daughters.

As I dove into my donut, I felt a piece of paper between my teeth. I thought, what is this, a fortune donut? My family huddled around as I pulled the strip of paper out of my mouth. It had writing on it, but it was in Thai or Lao—I knew from my ‘activities’ in SE Asia during the war.

I couldn’t read either language, and called the donut shop. They didn’t know what I was talking about and I believed them. I was about to throw the slip of paper away when my daughter Katy reminded me that we had a neighbor from Laos who could probably read both Thai and Lao.

We knocked on our neighbor Phayvan’s door and she answered right away. I told her about the slip of paper and she asked to see it. As she read it, she inhaled sharply. “Uh oh” I thought. “What does it say?” I asked. Phayvan gave me a wild-eyed look, crushed the slip of paper, swallowed it, and slammed the door.

I was dumbfounded. My curiosity was peaking. My frustration was exploding. But really, there was nothing I could do. The next day a “For Sale” sign went up in front of Phayvan’s home. I saw her pull into her driveway in a brand new Maserati. That afternoon, in my mailbox, I found a $500,000 cashier’s check made out to me! The car, the house, the check: it had to be the donut note!

Phayvan had disappeared, but I didn’t care. I was happy with the money. I invested it in Bitcoins and doubled it in six short months. Things couldn’t have been better, but they could’ve been worse, as five years later I found out when I was charged, tried, and convicted of Phayvan’s murder. They found her in my back yard wrapped in decaying paper with Lao writing all over it. The police had it translated: “A tray full of money is not worth a mind full of knowledge.”

I guess this is some kind of lesson I’m supposed to learn. What a crock of shit.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Assumptio (as-sump’-ti’o): The introduction of a point to be considered, especially an extraneous argument. 

See proslepsis (When paralipsis [stating and drawing attention to something in the very act of pretending to pass it over] is taken to its extreme. The speaker provides full details.).

I do not want to hurt my Mommy and don’t want to talk about how she bought me an AR-15 for my birthday, even though I was underage to possess one in Illinois. I didn’t know why, but Mommy drove me to a riot with my gun. Before we left for the riot, she loaded the gun’s magazines and helped me get into my militia suit—black with a lot of cool camo buckles.

When we got to the riot in Wisconsin, Mommy told me to “Get the f*ck out of the car.” As I stood there she yelled, “Lock, load and shoot somebody Kyle. I didn’t buy you the gun so you could model it in the middle of the street!” I started to cry and the gun went off and somebody fell down. Through my tears I saw another blurry figure coming at me and the gun went off again. Mommy yelled “That’s only two you feeble idiot!” I was crying so hard I was afraid my camo buckles would rust, but I didn’t want a spanking when we got home. My gun went off again and there was somebody shot in the arm. Mommy drove off. I walked away and phoned Mommy. She didn’t answer so I walked back to Illinois.

I’m not saying that Mommy is to blame for everything. A son’s love for his mother is boundless. When you arrest Mommy, please don’t mention me. I’m just a teenager.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( 

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Asteismus (as-te-is’-mus): Polite or genteel mockery. More specifically, a figure of reply in which the answerer catches a certain word and throws it back to the first speaker with an unexpected twist. Less frequently, a witty use of allegory or comparison, such as when a literal and an allegorical meaning are both implied.

A: Hey baby, I’m gonna throw you a little kiss.

B: And I’m going to throw you your car keys so you can get the hell out of here. All I wanted was a ride home. I invited you in as a courtesy. I thought you could use some coffee. Why’d you put your keys on the table by the sofa, by me?

A: I was marking my territory, baby.

B: You are creepy. Your territory is out in the driveway. Time to go.

A: Ok. I’ll see you tomorrow at work. We can talk things over. Maybe you’ll see the light.

B: I’d rather stumble around in the dark.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Astrothesia (as-tro-the’-si-a): A vivid description of stars. One type of enargia.

I first learned the word “twinkle” when I learned the little poem “Twinkle, twinkle, little star.” Often, when I look at the sky at night, the childhood poem presents itself in my head. I’m in my mid-70s now and the poem’s still there.

I remember the night I taught the poem to my daughter—she was no more than 4 years old at the time. We were on the “point” by Little River, on the coast of Maine, years, and years, and years ago.

The sky was clear and black. There was no moon. No lights, just the sky full of twinkling stars. I pointed out the Big Dipper, the Little Dipper and of course, the Milky Way. Then suddenly, a meteor shot across the sky—without a sound tumbling toward earth. My daughter clapped her hands. I smiled and felt at peace, as I still do beneath the night sky.

I look and see the vast number of uncountable twinkling stars—no matter where I am in the world—Argentina, Russia, Taiwan, Turkey—everywhere my travels take me. The night sky settles me and the twinkling stars, in their random brilliance, nurture my need for wonder.

As I stand alone and look at the stars, I think of my daughter who just turned 27. I wonder if she remembers like I do. “Why would she?” I ask. “Why wouldn’t she?” I answer.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Asyndeton (a-syn’-de-ton): The omission of conjunctions between clauses, often resulting in a hurried rhythm or vehement effect. [Compare brachylogia. Opposite of polysyndeton.]

A: Big, little, blue, green, warm, cold, hot. This isn’t a riddle. It’s the tattoo on my chest. Big: the tattoo itself. Little: the troop of ants spelling my name in a circle. Blue: the tattoo’s background. Green: the four leaf clover between the first and last letters of my ant-troop name. Warm: the cheeseburger in the tattoo’s center. Cold: the ice cube above the cheeseburger. Hot: the rays of the sun emanating from the tattoo’s blue background.

I would show you the tattoo now, but this is only our first date and Smudge’s Bar & Grill is hardly where I want to tear my shirt open. There would be screaming, fainting, moaning, crying and rolling on the floor. We don’t need that!

Where are you going? I’ve got a lot more to tell you about myself. I’m a genius, weight lifter, world class chef, artist, rodeo clown, astronaut. Come on! I bet you have a lot to tell me!

B: Yes: you’re crazy. If you try to contact me again for any reason, I’ll call the police and have you cited for stalking. Got it?

A: Yes, but I think you’d enjoy seeing me cloning at the weekly rodeo. Here’s a ticket.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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