Monthly Archives: April 2022


Expeditio (ex-pe-di’-ti-o): After enumerating all possibilities by which something could have occurred, the speaker eliminates all but one (=apophasis). Although the Ad Herennium author lists expeditio as a figure, it is more properly considered a method of argument [and pattern of organization] (sometimes known as the “Method of Residues” when employed in refutation), and “Elimination Order” when employed to organize a speech. [The reference to ‘method’ hearkens back to the Ramist connection between organizational patterns of discourses and organizational pattern of arguments]).

I was looking at my butt in the mirror feeling angry that I had been given a butt the size of a beer keg. I don’t know who they are, but I feel justified in hating them. I’ve had my butt covered with tattoos to distract from its immensity. There’s a rocket ship blasting up my butt crack—it is green and yellow with a beautiful red and purple flame. What is super special is Elon Musk waving with a big grin out a porthole. The rocket is aimed at my tramp stamp which is an Uber cab. It’s there to remind my dates to find me a way home after we’re done with the evening’s activities. Then, I have a Smiley Face on each cheek. Each one is 3” in diameter and has a laughter chip implanted. If you pat my butt it laughs.

And this is what shocked me: there’s a small fresh tattoo of a pepperoni pizza on my lower left cheek. I had never seen it before and I do not know how it got there. I don’t even like pizza and it throws off my butt’s tattoo symmetry. I don’t think I would’ve commissioned such at thing, but maybe I did. Maybe I just don’t remember getting the tattoo, maybe I was drunk, maybe I was knocked unconscious, maybe I have multiple personalities. Bad memory, drunkenness and unconsciousness are out of the question. I have a photographic memory! I don’t drink. And I had no pain in my head recently from being slugged or fed sedatives. That leaves multiple personalities. I did find the remnants of a pepperoni pizza in the trash. There were also 6 pepperoni sausages under my pillow in my bedroom and 2 packages of mozzarella cheese in the bathroom medicine cabinet. Last, there were 3 packages of pizza dough hidden under a board in the living room. So, what do I do now? I guess I’ll get another pizza tattoo on my lower right cheek. Symmetry is important to me—I need balance on my butt.

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

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Exuscitatio (ex-us-ci-ta’-ti-o): Stirring others by one’s own vehement feeling (sometimes by means of a rhetorical question, and often for the sake of exciting anger).

How many of you have had your underwear shrink? Mine claimed to be shrink proof on the package. I had total faith in their assertion. After all, they’re a big company with a pleasing name: “100% Cotton.” What could inspire more confidence than 100%? 100% of anything is all of it. I’ve trusted cotton since I’ve worn Levi’s as a toddler. They told you to buy them big because they would shrink. They were honest.

I don’t know about you, but my briefs have become a cotton postage stamp with 2 leg holes. When I put them on, it’s like I’m wearing Ken’s undies and Barbie is standing there laughing at me.

Underpants are the closest thing to you aside from your skin. Closer than your girlfriend. Closer than your mother. Closer than your boss! Do you want what’s closest to you chafing and painfully squeezing your private parts? Are you with me? Together we can make this right. Together we can get the underpants bosses to stop crushing our pride by making our underpants one size smaller, after they shrink, than they say on the package. What’s worse, these underpants are made in China by Communists. Are they trying make us sterile so there will be no soldiers when they invade us with their depraved Army, conquer us and make us slaves—probably working in an underpants factory to further their cause.

Again, are you with me? We must confiscate all of the 100% cotton underpants in the United States. We must burn them in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue to show our President that these shrinking underpants are un-American and unacceptable. We can do this. The confiscation and transportation of Chinese shrinkys will become our life’s work. Nothing shall deter us as we harvest the 100% cotton underpants and bring them to the bonfire. We will not be duped by Chinese agents giving away free underpants at the mall. We will save America! Let’s go! Down with constricting underpants!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Gnome (nome or no’-mee): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, apothegm, maxim, paroemia, proverb, and sententia.

“The handwriting’s on the wall.” Sayings are supposed to help you with their compact helpings of wisdom. I have never understood “the handwriting on the wall” thing. I’ve seen plenty of handwriting on the walls of men’s rooms—99% of it sexual— the rest fart jokes, racist insults, reputation attacks, love letters to Trump, and quotes from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. “Who is John Galt?” they ask. I could care less. I care more about the hangnail that’s wreaking havoc on my pinky.

Another possible meaning is that something you’ve done is public knowledge—everybody knows about it and there’s no place to hide—it’s a public wall that everybody walks past and everybody reads. It could say something like “Barbara is a dummy.” That’s it for Barbara: “the handwriting’s on the wall.” There are no public walls where I live, so the public wall idea would not apply to my town—we have to use restroom walls to besmirch and libel people we hardly know.

Another possible meaning of the saying is far-fetched and not very easy to believe, especially if you live in the 21st century like we do! What if “handwriting” is a metaphor for prophecy? Something “written” before it comes—something inevitable. I don’t know why it has to be on a wall—it could be on a piece of paper. My Grandpa used the saying on me: “Son, you’re going to prison, the handwriting’s on the wall.” I think the “handwriting” was all the bad things I’d done, from kidnapping dogs to selling stolen merchandise—blenders, tool sets, lawnmowers, etc.

Grandpa was right. The handwriting was on the wall. I served 2 years in state prison for “the transportation and sale of stolen goods.” Why did it take until now to “get” what Grandpa was trying to tell me? Well it’s like they say, “Actions speaker louder than walls.”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Graecismus (gree-kis’-mus): Using Greek words, examples, or grammatical structures. Sometimes considered an affectation of erudition.

I was hit in the face by yet another enthymeme: “It’s late. You should go home.” I was getting tired of not having the missing premise made explicit. Why do I have to go home because it’s late? In this particular case, what’s the persuasive pull? Do I have to get up early in the morning? Are you just trying to get rid of me? Are you tired? All of the above? Or, are you just giving me a recurring dictate drawn from your bossy-boots topoi?

So: Now I am mad. Now I’m going home. I am going home because I’m mad. Want the missing premise? Anger induces people to separate, and there are probably two-hundred further reasons linked to that one. On that note, you could sling a sorites as wide as Oklahoma and project a towering ethos like Abraham Lincoln or Mother Theresa. Pathos would ooze from your project and you would probably win an award for a tome on something like “The Roots of Persuasive Home-Going Admonitions in Post-Modern North American Culture.”

Do you know what sarcasm is? I do.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Hendiadys (hen-di’-a-dis): Expressing a single idea by two nouns [joined by a conjunction] instead of a noun and its qualifier. A method of amplification that adds force.

Ham and eggs: on a menu, in your mouth, soft yolks, crispy edges, maybe some home fries with lots ketchup. More delicious than my favorite candy—Good and Plenty, plenty good. Little pink and white candies, licorice, and looked like pills. They were advertised on 1950s TV in an 8-foot long box. I wanted a box like it so badly, but that was not to be. Instead, I would try and make my own giant Good and Plenty candy box. “This is nice sweet candy,” I thought as I went foraging for cardboard. My thoughts and licorice smells were my incentive.

I hung out by the appliance store and my hopes were fulfilled. A refrigerator box came flying off the loading dock and landed by my feet. I dragged the giant box home and went to work. I used all of my mom’s pink lipstick to write “Good and Plenty” on both sides of the box. Now the box had a perfume smell and my hands were stained “Perky Pink,” the color of Mom’s lipstick. Now, I had to fill the box with candy—a daunting task. I didn’t know what to do. So, I went and talked to Grandpa. He said, “if you want them candies bad enough, steal the money from your ma’s purse. Don’t beg her for it—we both know she hates being begged at. Just take it!” So I did—took and pocketed $78.00. I went and arrived at the candy store around 4.00 pm. I plunked my money down and told mister Floger that I wanted every Good & Plenty he had. He brought three cases of the candy out from the back room and set them on the floor. Luckily, I had thought to bring my red wagon. I loaded it up and pulled it home. When I got home, I was shocked to see my candy box burning in the fire pit—like trash! I went berserk and tried to choke my mother on Good & Plenty candies. Our neighbor called the police and I was hauled off to jail. I was tried as a juvenile and convicted of attempted manslaughter. My mother hasn’t given up on me and sends me a box of Good and Plenty (plenty good) every month.

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

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Heterogenium (he’-ter-o-gen-i-um): Avoiding an issue by changing the subject to something different. Sometimes considered a vice.

A: Where did you get that watch?

B: I’ve been at it all day. Watching birds. I saw seven species. The best was the pileated woodpecker. I don’t know what pileated means. I bet it is important. They are gigantic and they sound like a jackhammer when they’re banging on a tree. I love birds, except for pigeons.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Homoeopropophoron: Alliteration taken to an extreme where nearly every word in a sentence begins with the same consonant. Sometimes, simply a synonym for alliteration or paroemion [a stylistic vice].

Time tells tarnished truths and tepid tales; takes twisted treks, tired trips. Doubts diminish, dragging dreams down darkened drains. Determined demons delight, raising their fists and chanting “Damn you!” over and over. Memory manages many miscalculations, designing dilemmas, developing demonic domains—angelic in thought, diabolical in action.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Homoioptoton (ho-mee-op-to’-ton): The repetition of similar case endings in adjacent words or in words in parallel position.

Note: Since this figure only works with inflected languages, it has often been conflated with homoioteleuton and (at least in English) has sometimes become equivalent to simple rhyme: “To no avail, I ate a snail.”

“The Brady Bunch” blared on YouTube while I ate my lunch—I had a hunch that Greg Brady’s latest invention was designed to give Alice some kind of relief from her vexing responsibilities. It is hand-held and battery-powered and makes a buzzing sound when it’s turned on. We find out near the end of the episode that it is a hand-held vacuum cleaner for sucking up crumbs and other things from under and between furniture cushions. This episode had put me to sleep—it was boring and it had me snoring. Suddenly, I woke myself up by the snarling sound I was making and I thought, “If that jerk Greg can invent something so can I.” I started to think—what doesn’t the world have that it needs? It would have to be simple. I would make it in the garage at my dad’s workbench. He always had four or five projects going, mainly because he never finished any of them. He’d been fixing the kitchen sink drain for two years and my mother had gotten used to putting a mixing bowl under it to catch the drippings. My father spent most of his home-time sitting in “his” chair looking at his laptop: an antique computer the size of a two-inch thick chessboard. He had to plug in an antenna to pick up wi-fi. It was pitiful. Then, I got an idea: I could make a device that would send an electric shock through Dad’s chair and get him up off his ass. He would thank me.

I found an old electric extension chord. I cut off the socket end exposing two copper wires. I took the license plate that Dad kept hanging on the wall—his old vanity plate “LETSMAMBO.” I ran a wire through each of the license plate’s top two screw holes— one on the right, one on the left. I was done. I didn’t know what to call my invention, maybe “Watts Up” would be a cool name, or maybe “Butt Jumper”? Anyway, I went into the living room and slid the wired up LETSMAMBO vanity plate under dad’s chair cushion. I would hide by the chair and plug it in when he sat down.

He came into the living room and sat in his chair. It’s like he didn’t care—another night in the chair. I shoved the plug into the outlet. My father screamed and all the house’s electricity shut down. Not only was my dad out of his chair, his chair was smoking, and so was the seat of dad’s pants, and he was squirming around on the floor, cursing. We called 911 and he was taken to the hospital to have his butt examined.

I thought, all great inventions move through trial and error, and reconsideration of basic assumptions, before they come to fruition. Dad threw me out of the house after I nearly fried his butt, but I’ve continued to develop and redevelop my invention. I have been using guinea pigs, which aren’t cheap. I’ve yet to kill one, but they are all a little singed. I wear a white lab coat with my name embroidered on it in red letters when I work at night. Like all great inventors, I suffer for my vision and sacrifice everything for my hope. I work as a ticket-stub tearer at the local movie theater. My meager earnings go into my dream. Luckily, my mom sends me cash to supplement my wages and keep me going. Now I know how Tesla and Eli Whitney felt.

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Definition and commentary courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


Homoioteleuton (ho-mee-o-te-loot’-on): Similarity of endings of adjacent or parallel words.

Life was so different without my wife. We had been together for 33 years. We had just celebrated our anniversary. I had given her an apron with a picture of Benny Hill on it. She loved Benny Hill, and seemed to love the apron. She had recently begun to smoke. It was no joke: she was smoking a pack of Marlboro 27s every day. Even though I had given her a new apron, she started making frozen dinners in the microwave. She knew I hated them. Like a fool, I wrote it all off, as she was trying new things—frozen dinners and cigarettes. “What next?” I thought as I got ready for bed. In the spot where she usually slept by me, there was a coiled up garden hose. I called to her and she yelled back “Shut up, I’m sleeping in the garage.” The door slammed shut. Now, I was worried. The next morning I went down to the garage to talk to her. There was a note scrawled in pencil on a piece of paper on my lawnmower’s seat: “Trouble is double when there are two. Two minds. Two directions. Two lives. After capitulating for 33 years, I have seen the light. His name is Cramwell Stricter. I have joined the Sunshine Mountain Collective where Cramwell is the treasurer-in-chief. Stay out of my life.” Well, that was the end of my wife.

I sat in my big living room chair to think and decide what to do next. I was elated that she left me. The past 20 years had been like living in a drainage ditch with a ill-tempered rat. I decided to go onto a dating site. I chose “Match Catch,” a site for people over 60. Their tag line is “We’ll find you somebody to spend your Social Security check on.” I was ready for that. I got an immediate response from a woman named “Tik-Tok Terry.” She lived in the next town over and wanted to come to my home that evening. I agreed on 8.00 pm. The doorbell rang right on the dot. I opened the door and nearly passed out. There was a woman in her sixties dressed like a cheerleader. She started cheering: “You are home, you’ve no place to roam. I’m at your door to give you more—to tease you and please you with my Tik-Tok dance, and possibly some romance.” I thought I must be hallucinating. I slammed the door and hid in the basement. I could hear her yelling obscenities on the front porch. It quieted down. I went back upstairs and opened the front door a crack. She was still there! She started with her Tik-Tok dance again. That was it! I opened the front door to push her off the porch, but she lunged at me. She had a knife. She slashed the back of my hand and ran away. I called the police and they showed up about a half-hour later. I looked a wreck and they asked me if I wanted to try counseling to deal with the incident. I nodded my head. The police officer gave me a card with contact information. The counselor’s name was Cramwell Stricter. I started to cry, tore up the card and asked the night “Why does life have to be so hard? I need a drink. I need to think.”

After ten minutes of deep thought, I went online and bought a plane ticket to Belize. I was going to get tattoos and run wild in the jungle. Then my doorbell rang. The obscenities started. A shotgun blast blew a six-inch hole in my door. I ran out the back door, jumped in my car and drove to the airport. My flight left at 6:30 the next morning. I would spend the night in the airport. What could go wrong?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Horismus (hor-is’-mus): Providing a clear, brief definition, especially by explaining differences between associated terms.

“How now brown cow.” I think that’s s a line from a Steely Dan song, something about admonishing somebody to leave after drinking their big brown cow. It’s not a direct quote, but in the echoing halls of intertextuality two words are enough, as is the potential for allusion captured by the same two words. There aren’t very many songs including cows— “Farmer in the Dell” leaps out. There are the obscure “Mooo” and “Cows With Guns,” and “Out on the Western Plain” and a dozen or so more. But there’s more to cows than female grass-eating milk-making bovines. Of course, they’re not bulls or calves. “Cow” can be used to refer to any large female mammal. There are elephant cows, moose cows, and whale cows. But it gets worse—an obese middle-aged woman can be called a cow. I don’t like this. My wife is obese and middle-aged. If I called her a cow she would mooove out—somewhere on the other side of the fence where the grass is greener and she can graze on Hershey Bars 24/7 if she wants to. She was so svelte when we first met. Giving birth to six children took a toll on her body. Along with her poor eating habits, now she tips the scales at 247 lbs. I learned awhile back not to say anything about her weight. So, I’ve learned to love her for what she is, a kind, generous, loving cow.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Hypallage (hy-pal’-la-ge): Shifting the application of words. Mixing the order of which words should correspond with which others. Also, sometimes, a synonym for metonymy (see Quintilian).

I ate the lonely candy. I was by myself on the deck we built together last summer. I want to sleep, but all I can do is taste the bitterness that’s spread across my regret—like a spoiled condiment or a piece of Taylor Ham gone bad after spending a month in my refrigerator’s meat drawer. Slowly rotting, etched green around the edges, smelling like the decaying corpse of a small rodent—a walled hamster, or something the cat dragged in and stashed behind a chair or the couch. Regardless, the sad couch offers little comfort. I make tea and it tastes like iron filings mixed with motor oil. I don’t know. It is somewhat frightening. I dump it into the sink. I grab the scotch and pour a healthy measure, almost filling the glass. I take a gulp, in two seconds the patron scotch sends waves of warmth through my sad body. I slump. I sleep. I’m awakened by a pounding on my door. My house is in flames. I breathe deeply of the thickening smoke. I cough. I choke. I pass out. An angel shakes me and reaches out her hand. I wake up in the hospital. I am all alone. I don’t want to be here. I want to be dead. Then you come through the door carrying a bunch of roses. You stand there with tears running down your cheeks. You tell me what you’ve been doing since you dumped me. Then you tell me it was you who pulled me out of my burning house—that you saved my life. I am taken aback, but not far enough to forgive you for abandoning me or to thank you for saving my life. I throw the roses at you and tell you to go away— to go haunt some other sucker. You leave. My lovely nurse returns to my room. She brought me some candy. She has such an open and vulnerable look in her eyes. We lock eyes. She makes a barely audible whimpering sound, holds my hand, and kisses me gently, lingering on my forehead. Under my bandages I can feel myself coming back to life.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Hyperbaton (hy-per’-ba-ton): 1. An inversion of normal word order. A generic term for a variety of figures involving transposition, it is sometimes synonymous with anastrophe. 2. Adding a word or thought to a sentence that is already semantically complete, thus drawing emphasis to the addition.

Time slipping by, off the clock by measured ticks flying. So fast that the blur turned into a gale, picking up sand and other debris and filing my skin, not to the point of bleeding, but scraping and burning from friction’s exposure.

I had read about this phenomenon before. Every 100 years it occurs. It is called the Viper’s Hiss. I was driving a short stretch from Jubba to Tanya. I don’t know what possessed me to do this—you’d think I was an archeologist or something like that. I wasn’t in the oil business either. I was just a guy from Dayton, Ohio who woke up one morning with an unquenchable desire to roam the deserts of Saudi Arabia. I tried everything I could think of to make the desire go away. I went for long walks. I watched endless episodes of Prime TV. Then, I went to the library and could not restrain myself from researching the Saudi desert region. That’s when I discovered Sheba, in her time the wealthiest person in the world. I became obsessed with her. I dreamed of her. I made up fantasies about us as lovers. I reveled in the endless wealth—the abundance of everything precious and semi-precious she held sway over. I wanted to experience it.

I couldn’t stand it any more. I sold everything I owned (except my house) and bought a one-way ticket to Riyadh. I brought a backpack with bare essentials. Flying in, the desert was vast. On the ground it was blistering hot. I rented a Land Rover and took off toward the desert, anxious to find an echo or vestige of Sheba. All I found was the terrible storm. It took me by surprise while I was away from the Land Rover, exploring what looked like an oasis. I was hanging onto a date palm for dear life, actually blowing like a flag in the wind. Suddenly, the storm stopped. The sun shone. I saw a woman encrusted with gold with her arms outstretched toward me. I got up off the ground and started to walk toward her. She clapped her hands and disappeared. There was a tiny reflection of light on the ground where she had stood. I walked over and picked it up—it was a small piece of carnelian.

I am safe at home again. My trip to Saudi Arabia was insane. I was unprepared, I almost died. When I was leaving, I hid the piece of carnelian in my shorts and smuggled it out. I had it set in a small gold ring I wear on my pinkie. When I think of Sheba, the ring gets warm and I have to sit down.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Hypozeuxis (hyp-o-zook’-sis): Opposite of zeugma. Every clause has its own verb.

I am going to the mall. I’ve been locked down for a year. I was unable to go out for fear of catching the virus. I have been dividing my time between bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room and laundry room. I don’t answer the phone. My kids annoy me. I don’t answer the door for the same reason. I used to think the internet is a curse. Now, I think it is a blessing. I give my kids 1 minute on Zoom every three days. I buy everything I need on Amazon. The other day I bought a Beagle puppy. I need the company. I named him Peloton after the ad on TV. The only thing I can’t get on Amazon is a haircut, and it shows. That is my first stop at the mall—at Hairport where a recent high school grad will cut my hair for $8.00 and yap the whole time. Then, I’m going to Boscov’s to look at all the shiny chrome appliances and cheap t-shirts. Last, I’ll go to Pet Hutch to get Peloton a leash and collar. In a way, I feel like I’m being unfaithful to Amazon, and I am! It’s exhilarating.

Postscript: I caught the virus at the mall. Or, maybe I got it from the Uber driver who took me to the mall when my car wouldn’t start. He was wearing a mask, but it was one of those cheap cloth ones with Jesus’ picture printed on it. Anyway, at least I am not dying. The vaccine and booster I got when all this started helped. Last night, I stumbled across a gentleman on Zoom. He was just as surprised as I was. We had a very intimate conversation and I slept like a kitten afterwards. The next day I was supposed to meet him again. This time, I was dressed for ‘success’ with my newly purchased “toy” (named Big Richard) in my hand. I turned on Zoom and there were my children! Jaws dropped. My second oldest threw up. My son started laughing. I killed it as fast as I could and started thinking of an excuse. I couldn’t think of one. I am going to tell the truth. They’re mature adults. But, will they understand? Probably not.

It’s late. I pick up Big Richard from the nightstand. He cost $95.00 on Amazon. I am determined to get my money’s worth. I plug his charger into the electric outlet by the closet. His red “I’m charging” light glows, casting a lurid hue over the darkened room. I will wait for Big Richard, like I used to wait for my former husband. I wonder if Big Richard will be a disappointment too.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Hysterologia (his-ter-o-lo’-gi-a): A form of hyperbaton or parenthesis in which one interposes a phrase between a preposition and its object. Also, a synonym for hysteron proteron.

I went, like a bat out of hell, down the rocky hill, rolling like a golf ball to the bottom. It was the only way to get my wallet after I threw it in disgust into the ravine. I had tried to buy a nose hair trimmer on Amazon on my phone and it told me my credit card was no good. I had broken my trimmer on the tangle of fur growing out of my nose. One of the side effects of my anti-tremor medication was to induce nose-hair growth. If I didn’t get a new trimmer, my nose hairs would grow down to my chin before I knew it, and I would have to hide in my house again.

I picked the battered piece of leather, previously called my wallet, up from the ground and climbed up the rocky hillside, back to my car. I got in and looked in the rearview mirror. The nose hair was touching my upper lip. I started the car and headed for home. I was in a hurry and was speeding. Suddenly, I heard a siren behind me. I pulled over and took out my license and grabbed my insurance card and registration from the glove box. The police officer walked up to my car and I rolled down the window. She shined her flashlight in my face and started to laugh, “What the heck is up with your nose hair?” I told her and she asked if she could touch it. I thought it was highly inappropriate, but maybe it would get me out of a ticket. She reached in the window and gave it a gentle tug. It felt good having somebody else touch it. She told me she wasn’t going to give me a ticket because I already had enough to contend with. I was about roll up the window when she handed me a card and told me if I needed any help with my nose to give her a call.

I pulled back on the highway stunned. She was attracted to my wild nose hair. I couldn’t wait to call her and ask her to buy me a trimmer and come over to my house and give me some help.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Hysteron Proteron

Hysteron Proteron (his’-ter-on pro’-ter-on): Disorder of time. (What should be first, isn’t.)

I put on my shoes. I put on my pants. I put on clean underwear and I dried the floor and mopped it. It was 10.00 am. Then, it was 6.00 am. Then it was 9.00 am. Then, I had supper followed by throwing my hat at my dog Hogan. I don’t know why things go this way—sequences out of sequence, an inability to follow steps or experience time like everybody else. I am the subject of cruel ridicule. If I could put my underpants on first instead of last, I would. But I can’t. No matter how many times I say it to myself: today they go on first, they don’t. When I’m in my room naked and I go to reach for them and pull them over my naked butt, I start to shake all over—so much so that I can’t get my foot in the leg hole. It’s like I’m haunted by an evil spirit whose main goal in haunting me is making me wear my underpants over my pants. One time, I actually saw him. He was wearing his underpants over his pants, had really messy hair and two left hands. He snapped his underpants’ waistband and said “Fruit of the Loom” in a scratchy voice. It scared me. I tried to run away, but he grabbed my underpants from behind and gave me an atomic wedgy. He hoisted me two feet off the floor with one hand. He looked a little bit like my uncle Mel who had passed away 6 months before I was attacked by the wedgy monster. Was it Uncle Mel? He was a joker and I could see him doling out wedgys, but from the afterlife to his own nephew? As mystifying as it all was, everything was about change.

On top of the wedgy monster, there is the warping of time. I will get up at 8.00 am for work, but before I can take a shower it gets dark—moon out, stars twinkling. So, I go back to bed. I look at my clock and it says 12.00 am. I pull back my bedroom curtain and it’s broad daylight outside. So, it’s 12.00 pm. Time for lunch, not bed. I go downstairs and there’s dinner on the table. Mashed potatoes and roasted chicken. My mother admonishes me for wearing my bathrobe to dinner. Then, everybody disappears and it’s 2.00 am and I’m drinking a glass of water from the kitchen sink. Then I see the wedgy monster leaning against the refrigerator. “I don’t see your underpants, boy” he says in a low growling voice. I am terrified. I throw my glass of water at him and it hits him between the eyes. He howls, goes up in flames and turns into a small pile of ashes on the kitchen floor.

It’s over! I rush upstairs to put on my underpants first. I pull a pair from my dresser and stick my feet through the leg holes. I get tangled up, hopping, I trip and fall out my open bedroom window. The reconstituted wedgy monster grabs my twisted underpants before I hit the ground. I am saved. The wedgy monster says: “You’re a good boy. Your Uncle Mel tells me you’re his favorite. That means a lot to me. Mel is one of our top wedgy men and dos not mince words. So, I ‘m letting you go. The order of things will return to normal. Goodbye.”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Inopinatum (in-o-pi-na’-tum): The expression of one’s inability to believe or conceive of something; a type of faux wondering. As such, this kind of paradox is much like aporia and functions much like a rhetorical question or erotema. [A paradox is] a statement that is self-contradictory on the surface, yet seems to evoke a truth nonetheless [can include oxymoron].

What do I believe. What rings my bell? What gets me going? What turns me on? What rocks my boat? Was it the mile-wide river I swam across when I was fifteen, with my dog balanced on my back, fleeing the Pathet Lao and escaping to the US? Was it my struggle on the streets of New York and my resolve to make something of myself? I sold fake Rolexes and Gucci scarves. I was arrested ten times and paid heavy fines, but never went to jail. Then one day, like magic, I saw the girl I had grown up with. We loved each other. She played the guitar and I sang. We resumed our connection, and soon, became extremely popular among the refugee population, where we sang Western music in a club frequented by refugees and others. So, we got married and we had you.

I know I am rambling here, but I can’t believe how I got here. I can’t believe how lucky I am, going from a boy running for his life, to a wealthy performer. I can’t believe I actually saw your mother on the street that day. It was nothing but luck, or fate, or something greater. It’s about this: you need a partner, you can’t do anything great all by yourself. That, I believe.

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

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Inter se pugnantia

Inter se pugnantia (in’-ter-say-pug-nan’-ti-a): Using direct address to reprove someone before an audience, pointing out the contradictions in that person’s character, often between what a person does and says.

I am sick and tired of dealing with your false persona—claiming to be fair, honest, and above reproach. Well, I’ve got a giant dose of reproach for you. You can’t be opposite people at the same time. You can’t say one thing and do another thing. You can’t keep concealing what you’re actually doing from what you say you’re doing. You can’t say you have a commitment to helping the poor when you’re condemning their homes, buying their homes, demolishing their homes and replacing them with high rise condos. The web of corruption enabling this to take place is wide and vile—in fact, it holds it together: public officials, private contractors riding on your rotten scheme, making money, ruining poor peoples’ lives. Everybody that can help the poor, from building inspectors to real estate brokers, is on your payroll: mostly government money you’ve looted— that you’ve stolen on behalf of yourself and your cronies.

Now, since I’ve spoken of your greed, duplicity, and illegal activities on the public record, my guess is that my life will be in jeopardy—that you’ll dig up a hitter from the garbage pile you call “My Colleagues.” While that may be coming, I’m not afraid. I’ve seen the sad look in the eyes of the dispossessed—especially the children. There, I see the future. There, I see my legacy as a public servant, restoring their hope, assuaging their fear. Besides, you’ll be indicted as soon as the evidence (which I’ve provided) hits the DA’s desk. You’re going down. Your mob is going down. Do you know how to spell Attica?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Intimation: Hinting at a meaning but not stating it explicitly.

I think that little troll drank all my Johnny Walker. Stealing is not a good thing especially when it results in a DWI and a night in jail. The troll should know better. Even though they are mischief mavens, it’s rare they end up in jail. Funny thing: you ended up in jail last night. Gee, I wonder, are you the little troll?

I know you’ve accused your 10 year old sister of being a drunk—of stealing my scotch and running wild in the streets. That’s about as believable as your denial of doing anything wrong.

I never thought I would say this to my own kid, but you need to get a life. I’ve let you get away with far too much. From now on, you’ll be home by nine o’clock. You will be handcuffed to your bed like a political prisoner. If you don’t like it, you can go live with your mother. You can help her with the pyramid scheme she’s developing. She will not give a damn about what you do. You’ll probably fall out a window or get hit by a bus while you’re under her care.

I will not pay for your funeral. Your best bet is cremation in a cardboard casket. This is called tough love.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Isocolon (i-so-co’-lon): A series of similarly structured elements having the same length. A kind of parallelism.

I gave you money. You gave me grief. I gave you a giant TV. You gave me a VHS tape. I managed to find a VHS player at a pawn shop and was able to play the tape. It was your wedding! You were drunk and kept lifting your dress and yelling “Come on baby, let’s do the hokey pokey. Emphasis on pokey!” Then, you went to light a cigarette and your wedding dress caught on fire, there was screaming and the screen went blank. Then it came back on.You were standing there crying with a singed dress and most of your hair burned off.

I have no idea why you gave me the tape, but I’ve always wondered about the patch behind your ear where no hair grows. And why did you give it to me now? We’ve been together for forty years, raised two children and have had a pretty good life. There are so many things about me I’ve never told you. All the money I lost betting on horses. All the women I had affairs with. All the bird houses I made in the basement. The women and horses predate you, but I have a clandestine bird house operation going deep in the basement.

Oh well. Life is a mystery. When I get home tonight we can have a couple glasses of wine and do the hokey pokey. No smoking!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Kategoria (ka-te-go’-ri-a): Opening the secret wickedness of one’s adversary before his [or her] face.

We’ve had a lot of fun over the years—Atlantic City, Las Vegas, I never asked you for a penny—I gave you a free ride, Aqueduct, Disney World, the cruise to the Bahamas, and more. All these years it was a free ride for you. The latest fashions, gold jewelry, Gucci. Now I find out that you and my brother Eddy have been bunk buddies for the past 8 years. I don’t know the depths of stupid I descended to not to see it before now. Thank God for Father Barboil. He told me the truth.

Please remove yourself from my life before I do something crazy. But before you go, dump all the jewelry I gave you into the $400.00 blender I gave you to make Margaritas with. Later, I’ll crank it up and grind some gold and jewels.

You are a back-stabbing piece of garbage. I don’t think even a rat would take a bite out of you if you were dead on the pavement for a week. I hope you and Eddy have a great time—maybe you can ride the coin-operated pony outside the grocery store, if you can afford it. Goodbye! I wish you all the bad luck in the world. I hope to read your obituary soon.

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

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Litotes (li-to’-tees): Deliberate understatement, especially when expressing a thought by denying its opposite. The Ad Herennium author suggests litotes as a means of expressing modesty (downplaying one’s accomplishments) in order to gain the audience’s favor (establishing ethos).

I don’t deserve your adulation—what I did isn’t really worthy of praise, or “kudos” as the Grecians say. The baby chick had been separated from its mother by the tornado that blew across our farm. It turned my tractor upside down, tore the roof off of my house and carried the baby chick up into the branches of what was left of our heirloom oak tree. The chick was making a constant cheeping sound. It was driving me crazy. I had to get the chick out of the tree. I tried throwing a tennis ball at him, but he cheeped louder every time I threw it at him. I tried a water hose, but when the water stream hit him, he just dug in his chicken claws and cheeped even louder. As I headed inside to get my shotgun, I got an idea. I could reverse my vacuum cleaner so it would blow instead of suck. I could load it with corn and spray it at at the chick! Surely, he would gobble it up and come down from the tree for more. It didn’t work. When the corn hit him, he cheeped even louder. So, I got my shotgun, loaded it and was ready to fire when my lost dog came running across the yard. He jumped up on me and the gun went off. I was prepared to see a mutilated chick hanging from the branch. Then I heard cheeping about 10 feet away on the ground. It was the unharmed chick. The dog had made me miss the chick, but I had hit the branch it was perching on and blown it off the tree.

Soon that chick will be big enough to eat. Thanks to my dog, we’ll have a nice chicken dinner.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Martyria (mar-tir’-i-a): Confirming something by referring to one’s own experience.

I’ve been to many places and seen so many things—babies being born, a train demolishing a car, a 12 pound cucumber, a book burning, finding buried treasure, a barbecue grill explode, an army buddy drink beer out of his artificial leg. I’ve tried to learn from my experience, but the list is so long, it is nearly impossible to align a current experience and derive a lesson from a past experience. Even so, a couple of things stand out as lessons worthy of attention. There are two things, based on my experiences: 1. Cheating on my income taxes. 2. Getting married. I did one year in jail and paid a $5,000.00 fine for lying to the IRS. I thought I was so clever, inflating my overhead expenses so I only made a $9.00 profit, and then donating the $9.00 profit to the Girl Scouts. When I was in prison I joined a gang: The Blues Brothers. We spent our free time discussing Belushi and Akyroyd’s performance. We all agreed that making what they did “a mission from God” was inspiring and could be used to further any cause, except sinning.

Then there’s marriage. I was married four times. Each divorce put me further into the hole financially. The fist marriage was pretty good. The rest of them were horror shows. Wife two was a big spender. Wife three was in a constant state of war. Wife four was a runner—she’d disappear for weeks at a time and frequently brought home a case of the clap when she returned.

So, it’s life we’re talking about here. My experience adds up to life. I probably have an answer for every question you have about life. Just remember, though, answers can be right or wrong, or irrelevant.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Maxim (max’-im): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, apothegm, gnome, paroemia, proverb, and sententia.

When I was young, my father said to me: “Son, two birds in a bush are worth more than one bird in the hand. Two birds will mate and have baby birds that you can raise and eat.” My father was a rebel and thought it was funny to twist maxims. His favorites were “A stitch in time is part of an acid trip.” Or, “Beggars can be boozers.” Or, “One man’s meat is another man’s McMuffin.” Or, “You’re never too old for Viagra.”

Dad died 2 years ago. He choked to death on a McMuffin. I am working on a screenplay about his life. It’s titled “Maxims in Pajamas: Leave Your Baggage on the Bus.” It is a struggle to write. What I’m tying to do is make Dad’s life look a little less worthless than it actually is. So, I’m cataloging his maxims and trying to interpret them in ways that make sense. So far, I have been unsuccessful. So, I’m going to follow some advice I got from “Jiminy Cricket’s Rubbing Legs of Wisdom.” He was extremely insightful. I like this one the best: “Dress like a person and talk like a person and you will still be an insect.” Right after he said this, he was crushed on a sidewalk at Disneyland. What could be more poignant? Although he has was’t crushed on a sidewalk, my father died a violent death—choking on his favorite sandwich. I like to think of my father as a lost soul who made lots of mistakes. There’s a maxim buried in there somewhere. Maybe, “It takes great ability to conceal your ability” fits him best. I like to think he worked hard on being a loser; that it was no accident he screwed everything up. It was his role in life and he did it well.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Medela (me-de’-la): When you can’t deny or defend friends’ faults and seek to heal them with good words.

Life is too complicated for anybody to evade failure or making mistakes. I’m 67 years old, each year is an anniversary of some kind of screw up. I’m a little higher than average on the goof-o-meter, but that’s just the way it is. Like I said, I’m 67. I’m still here and I generally enjoy life. I’ve got a key here that you might want use to unlock your problems and walk away free. You need to develop a strategy you can use that will allow you to learn from your mistakes and forgive yourself whenever you can. If you are wrong, admit it. Do not bear malice toward those who rightfully accuse you.

The latest thing: stealing nine carrots from your neighbor’s garden plot. If you think about your reason for doing it, it would be like cutting water with a knife—silly. So you need to admit it to Molly. Apologize, and volunteer to help in her garden. Prove yourself worthy of her friendship. Redeem yourself by helping her in the garden.

Who knows, you may become friends. That’s how I met your mother. She wouldn’t look at me and I was mad for her. So, I ripped wires out of her car, from under the hood. I planned to come to her rescue and fix what I broke. It didn’t work. As soon as I asked if I could fix her car, she knew it was me who ripped out the wires. She reported me to the police and I was convicted of the wanton destruction of another person’s property. I was tried and convicted and spent thirty days in jail. I’ll tell you another time how we hooked up and ended up getting married. I’ll give you a hint: we went on a “job” together after I had apologized and fixed her car.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Meiosis (mei-o’-sis): Reference to something with a name disproportionately lesser than its nature (a kind of litotes). This term is equivalent to tapinosis.

You know, I’ve been biting into these things, eating all kinds of cakes and pies, drinking their juice and alcohol made from the juice. They make a big part of my state’s economy profitable, but still, I think they are way overrated. It isn’t popular, but I call them “crapples” for what their cultivation does to us. “Huh?” you ask.

You’ve heard of Adam & Eve, right? The story of what happened in the Garden of Eden should be enough to prompt the outlawing of crapples. Satan hangs out in apple orchards and the fruit section of grocery stores. Every time you eat an apple you are doing Satan’s bidding and will probably become a prostitute, bank robber or heroin addict, scraping the bottom of life’s barrel, catching diseases, going insane, and going to prison. You may say “I’ve partaken of apples all my life and I’m not a prostitute, bank robber, or drug addict.” To that I say, Satan is clever— just wait—keep consuming crapples and you will fall. Believe me: it is inevitable. Look at Jeffery Dahmer—he loved crapples and ate them all of his life. And then, one day he became a serial killer and switched over to eating people. Satan rejoiced. Or look at Charles Manson: he religiously followed Satan’s apple a day dictum. Satan rejoiced.

So there. You risk damnation every time you bite into a beautiful red Cartland, a crisp Red Delicious, or a bright green Granny Smith. Do not please Satan. Stop consuming all crapple products and you will help thwart his plan. Save yourself! Put down that apple and pick up a nectarine or an avocado!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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