Monthly Archives: March 2023


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

There are a lot of different ideas that people have about everything—maybe more than similar ideas. The opposites of life are always inhabited by peoples’ points of view, no matter how much they may lie to “preserve the peace.” Peace vs. war. You would think, if they weren’t threatened, that war would be the last thing anybody wants. Aside from self-defense, one would think peace is the highest goal imaginable in geopolitics, but again, unless a nation-state is the victim of aggression.

Last night, I was watching Stinger missile strikes leveled against a Russian artillery battery located in Ukraine. The onslaught was merciless, destroying the battery, tanks, helicopters, and killing Russian soldiers fleeing the attack on foot. The “footage” could be fake, and it probably was—a good piece of anime—very realistic. If fake, it is representative of a desire. After all, the Russians invaded a sovereign nation—a democracy with no interest in war. Why shouldn’t we want to see the Russians defeated, blown to hell and sent home in meat wagons?

Thanatos and Eros are in constant conflict. Thanatos always wins in the end. We are conscious of our mortality very rarely—maybe if we’re sick or badly injured. But every day that we’re living, we’re dying. It is just a matter of time. We do what we can to forestall it. There are myriad cons purporting to enable us to prolong our lives. We may be obsessed by “secrets”of longevity—like water from holy springs or “special blends” of whatever.

My secret is to sit on my couch with my cat looking out the window for at least 2 hours per day. (sometimes longer, but never shorter—the cat sleeps through it all). Every day, I try to find something that’s changed outside, and then, put it on the Thanatos/Eros scale. I am looking forward to spring when there’s a whole lot of Eros going on. I live under a flyway that Canada Geese use. Last night the first flock of spring flow over, honking noisily. It sounded like they were saying “life, life, life” as they flew over my garage. What else could they be saying? “Honk?” Maybe. But they’re on their way to build nests, mate with their life partners, lay eggs, raise goslings, and fly South in the Fall.

So anyway, I head into the kitchen to take my supplements, drink two glasses of maple water, and have my pickled beet sandwich for lunch. After lunch, I’ll head out to the garage and smoke five or six cigarettes to balance things out.

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]).

I didn’t know where I was going until I met you Eddy. Now I know I’m going to hell. I was good. You were bad. Now, we’re both bad. I feel like a duck out of water. A bird without wings. A dump truck that can’t dump. I don’t know if I can go back to being “Big Nice John”—what my friends used to call me. Now they call me “Big Rotten John” and look the other way when they see me on the street. The “rotten” will never go away, the “nice” will never return. But maybe if I can think of a way to redeem myself, I can push “rotten” away and pull back “nice” across my soul like a blanket of goodness, giving me peace. If only I hadn’t forgotten to feed my little brother’s fish for two weeks when he went to camp. Everybody thinks I did it on purpose, Eddy, because you told me to and I did your bidding like some kind of wind-up robot. You know I didn’t and you won’t say so because you want to look like you’re in control of me. For the 5-millionth time, I forgot to Fred them, and you know it!

Now, I am buying new fish to replace the dead ones. Swimming around in the aquarium they will erase my brother’s traumatic memory of seeing his starved fish floating belly up. The smell was surely memorable too. I cleaned the aquarium and filled it with clean tap water and dumped in the fish. The Blennies were ugly. The Clownfish were striking. The Pipefish were crazy. It was a pretty good collection of fish. I went to my room to wait for my brother to come home.

When he got home he went into his room. I expected a big “wow!” Instead, he screamed “You rotten bastard! You are so cruel. You should be shot!” He ran down stairs. I went into his room and all the fish were dead. I picked the pamphlet up off the floor “Caring for Your Salt Water Fish.” I hadn’t read it. It looked like I had struck another death blow when I filled the aquarium with tap water. I went downstairs to beg my brother’s forgiveness. “Hands up!” he yelled. Somehow he had found Dad’s .45 and was aiming it at me. “It was an accident! Please believe me. I would never murder your fish on purpose. I bought those fish for you. I didn’t read the instructions for setting up the tank. That was stupid. I am stupid. Please forgive me.” My brother believed I had set him up with the dead fish, like the horse’s head in the bed in Godfather. When I heard that, I got on my knees and begged him not to kill me. At that moment, Mom came home from the grocery store. She yelled at my brother: “Drop the gun you idiot!” My brother immediately dropped the gun. My mother picked it up off the floor and aimed it at my brother and yelled: “Go to your room, or I’ll shoot!” Mt brother ran up the stairs. I told my mother what had happened and she told me she was surprised I wasn’t dead on the floor when she got home. She told me I had to do my brother’s laundry and clean his room once a week for 2 months. I started to complain and she aimed the gun at me and told me to shut up. She told me to invite Eddy over for a good old pistol whipping—to jog his memory about my first fish kill. Mom’s maiden name was Gambino. She knew how to handle bullshit.

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.

“If you keep doing that, the palm of your hand will grow hair,” my father told me. I asked him what he was talking about and he said, “Come on, don’t screw around with me. Your hand is not for that.” I was still puzzled. I used my hand for a lot of things and I had no idea which of them would cause hair to grow on my palm. I decided to ask my mom. She was usually more straightforward than Dad was. I asked, “Mom, what would cause hair to grow on the palm of my hand?” She looked really alarmed. “Do you have it? Are you growing hair there? Oh God, I knew this would happen at some point as you got older.” She pulled her apron over her her head and shook her head while she said “No, no no.” I told her I had no palm-hair and she was relieved. I decided to leave her alone. Poor Mom.

I went to see the school nurse. If anybody could help, she could. She told me not to worry about it—it was a myth and I could do it all I wanted to do it and no hair would grow on my palm. However, there could be other consequences from the repetition. I was relieved, but I still didn’t know what “it” is. So, I asked the nurse. She said, “Here, look in my medical dictionary. You’ll learn a lot and eventually you’ll find the answer. It was daunting. There are tons of medical words in the medical dictionary. After two days of looking, the only thing I could find that seemed relevant was “carpel-tunnel syndrome.” Now I understood! I was an obsessive video game player, and that could cause carpel-tunnel syndrome affecting my wrist and hand. The “hair on the palm of the hand” thing was Dad’s way of getting me to back off on the video games. I was so relieved. I went upstairs and booted up “Naughty Nurses” on my computer, drifting into my daily revery about the school nurse. At that moment I realized what Dad was talking about! I looked at the palm of my hand, turned off the computer, and started sorting through my baseball card collection.

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.

‘Oly moly! That’s a Gray Wrinkle Beak! It is so rare that nobody has ever seen one—except for me. I’m taking pictures with my I-Phone. I will be on the news! Every birdwatcher in the world will envy me. I will be the talk of the town and A-Number One. I want to get a picture of the Wrinkle Beak in flight. I walk toward it. It does not move. I get closer and closer and see why it does not move. It is a meticulously crafted fake. Even up close, it looks real. This has to be the work Captain Tweet, rare bird maker.

He thinks he’s funny. He has been on television a number of times, and explains how his work induces the thrill of discovery’s priceless feeling that, for a short time, puts you in the center of your world, alone with the consequences. Most people opt to take pictures and think about all the money they’ll make selling them, and the TV appearances too, not to mention a few pages in Audubon Magazine. And then, almost as quickly as they come, they are shattered by the ersatz bird revelation.

That’s how I felt: shattered. I have been an avid bird watcher all my life—ever since my parents gave me a cheap pair of plastic binoculars on my 9th birthday. They’re a little nicked up now, but they still work. Captain Tweet had pretty much ruined my life-long hobby. I would show him.

I bought a drone. I disguised as best as I could as a Pterosaur—a prehistoric flying reptile with a 35-wingspan. I put my creation on the roof on my car and headed for Tweet’s. He lived about 400 miles away. I would be there by sunset. I had a sort of hazy plan—I would circle my Pterosaur over his house. I copied my Pterosaur from a dinosaur book that I’d had since I was a kid. I was riding along listening to “Talking Heads” when suddenly my car left the ground! I looked out the driver’s side window and could see flapping wings. I looked down and we were about 50 feet off the ground and following the highway. I was totally flipped out. As we neared Captain Tweet’s residence (shaped like a birdcage), I saw State Troopers surrounding it, with assault weapons aimed at us. One of them had a bullhorn. He said: “Attention, you are harboring a dangerous prehistoric bird. Land without further ado or we will be forced to shoot you down.” At that, we went into a nosedive, straight for Captain Tweet’s house, Tweet came running out of his house shaking his fist. We clipped him and crashed into his house. It started burning and I got out of my car and ran to the curb. As I ran past Captain Tweet, I noticed his head was gone. It must’ve happened when we clipped him. Luckily, I wasn’t driving, so I wasn’t charged with anything.

I will never know how my fake Pterosaur did what it did. But now, birdwatchers are safe from Captain Tweet’s debilitating antics. To be sure, he was an artist, but he used his art for evil ends. May he rot in hell, and be pecked all over his body by an Ivory Bill Woodpecker for all eternity.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

Me: You keep calling me “hun.” I haven’t said anything up to now because I don’t want to ire you or otherwise make you floss and fume. I am not a hun. I am from New Jersey and was raised Catholic. There was a gang called “The Huns,” but I couldn’t join because I had a red motor scooter and the gang rode big noisy motorcycles. So, please stop calling me “hun.”

You: God, where do I begin? I understand most of what you say, but as usual, your gibberish index is high. First, when I call you “hon” it’s short for honey—H-O-N. It has nothing to do with Huns—H-U-N-S. Huns were crazy people who swept into Europe from South Asia in the 4th and 5th centuries and nearly wiped it out. Some people say they were after the closely guarded secret recipe for cannolis when they sacked Rome. They failed, and cannolis remained a regional dish with their recipe held by a handful of Romans who disguised it with mozzarella cheese and hid it under straw in Buffalo corals when the Huns invaded.

So, again, “hon” is short for “honey,” the sweet sticky liquid that bees produce. When I call you “hon” I’m calling you sweet—a term of endearment, because I love sweet things, and people like you who’re sweet. In that vein, I could call you sugar too, Hon. Now, let’s look at me “flossing and fuming.” We’ll let fuming go, but “flossing” is totally off the mark. Flossing is what you do with a piece string after you brush your teeth. I think you’re actually going for “fussing,” which is usually used along with fuming to denote a quality of anger and deep consternation. “Flossing and fuming,” on the other hand would refer to an oral hygiene regime undertaken in anger. I can imagine it’s possibility, but clearly it’s not what you intended. You misused the word.

Me: Ok ok Ms. Language Police. You understood me, that’s what matters. I guess my problem was that I misunderstood you when you called me “Hon.” Hun and hon sound the same. My mistake could be expected. But I guess calling me Hun should’ve rung a bell, but I sort of thought you were calling me bad ass, which is a compliment where I come from. I could see myself in a black leather jacket, jeans and boots, and couple of tattoos, instead of this stupid blue blazer and gray pants and a striped tie and wingtips I have to wear to work as towel boy in the hotel restroom. My boss is a bully. I would commit pesticide if I wasn’t afraid of what would happen to me in prison. I’d tear the hand drier out of the wall and beat him over the head with it.

You: Oh, you’re such a wild man. I understand what you’re trying to say, Hun. You’d like to ambush the patrician in the bath! I understand you and that’s good enough for me.

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.

I couldn’t stand it any more. The more I invested myself in it, the worse it got. I wanted one thing, and one thing only: somebody to love and be loved by.

I met Felicia at the local bar. She was half drunk, sipping what looked like a whiskey sour. Well, actually, she was slurping it. Three guys were hovering around her like some kind of predatory flies. They kept asking her “Now?” like they were waiting for something. She left and the three guys left one by one at 5-minute intervals and didn’t come back. Eventually, she came back looking a little worse for wear. I asked her what she was doing out there. She said, “Looking at the stars.” I thought that was pretty cool. We talked about a lot of things until the bar closed. I got the feeling that a romance had budded. I asked her to come home with me and spend the night.

We had a wild time, most of it in bed. I felt like I was with a naughty angel—everything was good and bad at the same time. She was gone when I got up, but she had made coffee—so strong when I drank it, it felt like my ears were flapping. I went back to the bar that night to find her. She wasn’t there, but one of the guys from last night was. He asked me: “Did you nail Felicia? She’s always ready for fun.” My heart sunk. I had thought she might’ve been the one, not a time share condo. The guy asked me: “Have you been checked?” “Checked for what?” I asked. He grabbed his crotch and quietly said: “Clap.” Now, I wanted to cry. I had heard rumors about clap, and how it could kill you if it went untreated, and along way to death, every time you peed it was like a bonfire in your urinary tract.

I went to the doctor. I was examined. I was prescribed pills to take three times a day for two weeks. At that moment, I decided I did not want to have sex with potential disease spreaders any more. Condoms we’re out of the question for me: I couldn’t wear a balloon on my hooter, no matter what. So, I bought an inflatable sex doll. I named her Roxanne, bought her the optional blonde wig and a foot pump to bring her to life. I started pumping. Her legs rolled out and plumped up, then her shapely torso, and finally her head. I lit some candles, put on Barry White and took off me clothes. Roxanne blew out when I got on top of her. A whoosh of perfumed air came out of a leak in her head as she deflated with a squeaky-farty sound, and her optional wig fell off. I was mad and deeply disappointed. I decided celibacy was the only way out for me.

I joined the “Brothers of the Flaccid Way.” We are a group of men devoted to achieving impotency through reading Lao Tzu and eating salad. Each day, we watch an adult movie to gauge our progress. It is ok if your desire remains, as long as you can’t do anything about it. Judging by the grunting and how the monks’ robes bounce up and down during the daily movie, “Brothers of the Flaccid Way” is failing in its mission. Maybe the monks need to eat more salad. I became flaccid two years ago, achieving the status of “Limp Pilgrim.” Lately, I’ve been thinking about leaving the Brothers and overcoming my “condom phobia” at a camp in the Catskills called “Coksock Mountain.” It offers a series of “on & off” condom exercises that are fun and easy, poetry writing workshops about personal struggles with venereal diseases, and condom-mandatory orgies with local women.

I decided to give “Coksock Mountain” a try. I got off the bus and registered. After two weeks of “on&off” and poetry writing, I qualified for my first orgy. I grabbed a fist full of condoms and headed out. I could hear Barry White’s “It’s Ecstasy When You Lay Down With Me” drifting through the warm night air. It reminded me of Roxanne.

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.

It was 1969 and I was goin’ to the go-go. I was drivin’ all the way to New York City from Beetroot, Iowa. I could’ve gone surfin’ USA, but I didn’t know how swim, and surfing required a degree of athleticism which I was lacking. I failed gym class in my senior year of high school because I couldn’t climb a rope hanging from the ceiling. I lost my grip, fell to the hardwood floor and broke my wrist in three places. My gym teacher was suspended for a month because he hadn’t put a mat under the rope.

While we were waiting for the ambulance, he stood there and blew his gym teacher whistle at me. I think he would have rather kicked me, or dragged me to the edge of the gym floor and left me there so he could continue the rope-climbing tests, or maybe go outside for a couple a’ smokes, until things calmed down and the ambulance left. His motto was “Do as I say, not as I do.” He was a hypocrite, but there was something about the motto that was redeeming. However, it also had a scary dimension. Once, he said to me “Burn in Hell you little bastard” I had popped out and we lost an important intramural baseball game. I didn’t know how to burn in hell, so I asked him. He told me to just keep doin’ what I was doin’ and I’d get there soon enough. It was the best talk we ever had.

I exited the Holland tunnel and headed uptown to the go-go. I parked in a garage that cost $200.00 for four hours. I got out of my car. New York smelled dirty and I had a 10-block walk to th’ go-go. When I got there, I looked through the window and saw some pretty girls go-going in cages above the dance floor. I paid the $100.00 cover charge and went inside. It smelled like beer, whiskey, and sweat. I was visibly excited. A cute girl was looking at me and nodding her head to the music.

“The Peppermint Twist” started playing and I asked her if she wanted to dance. She said, “Sure baby, but I’ll need a Singapore Sling first.” I got one for her and she sat down, hardly sipping it at all. “Peppermint Twist” was coming to an end, so I ran out on the dance floor to do some solo twistin’, like cool guys do. But, somebody had spilled a drink on the floor. I slipped and crash-landed. I had just gotten a pair of Beatle Boots, wore them to the go-go, and little did I know, they had slippery soles. My Nehru jacket was destroyed and the chain on my PEACE medallion broke. But the worst thing that happened was I broke my wrist again, and was waiting for the ambulance. But maybe even worse: when I fell, the girl I was supposed to be dancing with, ran over to me, pulled my wallet out of my back pocket a took off out the door, leaving me with nothing—no cash, no I.D., no credit card, no cat picture. Nothing.

Now, I was walking the streets of NYC after being rejected by The Salvation Army and several other shelters for appearing to be “solvent.” I had a dirty styrofoam cup and was trying to raise enough money to bail out my car. Then one day, I ran into the girl who had stolen my wallet. She told me how bad she felt, reached into her purse and, pulled out my wallet. I was saved! until I looked inside my wallet. It was empty. She had spent my cash and maxed out my credit card. She invited me to stay with her until I got back on my feet. That was four years ago. I do the cooking, keep the place clean, and take care of our baby. She works at the go-go. For now, this is a happy ending.

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.

Pine trees are made out of pine. That’s why they are named PINE trees. If I said I am a pine tree that would not be accurate. I am made out of flesh and blood, not pine. I am called a “human,” but not “a flesh and blood.” Technically, I am meat. When I went to a bar, I would say “I’m going to the meat market.” Girls are meat. I wanted to pick one out, get her drunk, and take her home. I liked them lean, but late on a Friday night we’ll-marbled or hefty were fine. We all know, you can’t always get what you want, but sometimes you can get what you need. Nine times out of ten I hit the right spot around midnight, and you know, a lot of liquor goes a long way. You might ask “A long way where?” Down Bracken Street, right on Grove and left on Briarcliffe. That’s where! My place. Worked every time. Well, almost every time.

Two years ago, I brought a corpulent lady home with me. Given her BMI she was still half-sober at midnight. I thought maybe that would make things more fun. I told her to sit on the couch, and that I had to get ready in the kitchen. “The kitchen?” She asked. I said “You’ll see.” I was in the kitchen for about five minutes and she asked “What’s that smell?” “Wait!” I said. I came out of the kitchen with a big red bowl full of popcorn and a dvd of “Love Story” from the 60s. I love the way the girlfriend dies at the end of the movie. Every girl I ever brought home loved it, and being drunk helped them get in touch with their emotions and stay awake for the whole movie. But not this girl!

She pushed me down on the couch and started kissing me. Her tongue was as big as a popsicle. I was shocked, but I didn’t say “No.” She buried me with her body. I could hardly breathe. After it was over, she demanded I call her a cab and pay for it too. I did. I was afraid. She ordered me to give her my cellphone number so we could stay in touch. I thought about getting a new SIM card. The next day she texted me. She invited herself over on Friday and sent me a nude picture with a Parakeet perched on her finger. I thought about calling the police, but what would I say? There was nothing remotely criminal yet—harassment wouldn’t work because I couldn’t say “No.” I had always been passive. Being that way never got me in trouble. And as crazy as it seems, I was ready for another round of floppy flesh.

To make a long story short, we got married. On Fridays, we reenact the popcorn episode. It never gets old. Things you love never lose their luster. Our relationship is bright and shiny.

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.

Life is made of decisions. Some more complicated than others. Some more urgent then others. Some escape consciousness altogether, like walking—a series of small steps that take you somewhere—you may call it a habit because you don’t “feel it,” you just go. Maybe we could say that a habit is a foregone decision, but I’m not sure I know what I’m talking about. I guess a traditional decision happens when something needs to change—it may involve the reconsideration of your habitual way, or dealing with something that pops up in your life, has a degree of urgency, can’t be ignored, is absent a clear-cut plan for its resolution, and appears to be amenable to choice—that you can and should do something about it. The challenge is manifest in pros and cons, and their relative weight in the particular case of judgment which is about coming to a decision founded on pros and cons, which include, in addition to empirically verifiable facts, feelings and emotions pertinent to the judgment: you may decide to drink a glass of milk because it is good for you. You may decide not to drink a glass of milk because you don’t like how it tastes. There’s more to it than this, but it’s good enough for me, or I’m pretty sure it’s good enough for me as I change the kind of underpants I wear.

I have been wearing tighty whities since the beginning of time. I have never used the pee pee fly. It is completely useless. Why is it there? As I’ve gotten older, my tighty whities have started to pinch my crotch and make it itch. The only way I can relieve the itch with my pants on is to pull down on my pants crotch and squirm around. Very embarassing.

So I checked out boxers. They have a nice accessible pee pee slit. Highly functional. And if you want, you can pull them down from the top. They are made from light weight cotton, silk, or super light synthetics, not dish towel weight material like the tighty whities. Given their light weight, you can pack more underpants when you travel—a real plus. They aren’t as absorbent as tighty whities, which may cause problems when you have an extra drop of pee pee that does not make it to the urinal and shows up on the front of your pants as a little wet circle.

The other alternative is to go commando. You will save the cost of underpants entirely, have less laundry, and feel tougher as a man—ancient warriors wore no underpants. However, the embarrassing pee pee spot is still a possibility, unless you wear blue jeans all the time. The heavyweight denim will absorb your little boo boos every time.

I am not going to lay out the pros and cone of each kind of underpants (or none). I think it should be clear. Oh, by the way, I considered the jock strap, but that’s so “out there” it didn’t warrant consideration.

I’m going to go commando. I wear blue jeans all the time. I will be burning my tighty whities this afternoon.

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.

Reporter: Why were you arrested.?

Vice Principal: In a minute, please.

I’m always happy to greet and talk to the press. News reporting is a bulwark of our democracy. When I was a reporter for my high school newspaper, I exposed the principal for selling parking permits to faculty when they were supposed to be free. I’m surprised nobody turned him in before me. He supposedly had a zero tolerance policy on squealing. Squealers where threatened to be assigned to pick up cigarette butts “on school property,” a task that was so onerous that nobody said a word. Even more powerful as a disincentive were the photoshopped pictures he had of faculty engaging in “activities” with students. I guess faculty were complicit in something approximating the pictures, or they would not have acceded to the principal’s threats. After he was busted, the principal was put on “butt duty” and demoted to classroom aide and mandated to take 100 hours of honesty training workshops. In one of their exercises, a valuable item is left on the floor. The facilitator leaves the room and the trainees discuss the pros and cons of stealing it—in this case a Rolex watch belonging to the facilitator. When the facilitator came back, the watch was gone and nobody could remember what happened.

Ten minutes before the end of the training session, the principal, sobbing in tears, pulled the watch out of his pocket and said “I am so ashamed.” The facilitator called for a group hug. The principal was nearly smothered and was taken for observation to the hospital where it was discovered he had a cracked rib. After his training was completed he was reassigned as a school crossing guard, where the children swear he frequently holds his stop sign upside down, drinks out of a paper bag, and smells funny. He also makes them race each other across the street in front of cars while he stands on the curb cheering and fanning himself with his stop sign. If this is true, the principal will be sent to rehab, and all will be well. After rehab, the principal, due to “extensive hands-on experience,” will be made Superintendent of Schools for his district. In a way, I think I helped him get where he is today—if I hadn’t blown the whistle, he’d still be a mediocre administrator selling parking permits. Clearly, the system works. The sensitive, humane management of employee criminality and dereliction yield positive results, among which are employee retention, and the avoidance of law suits.

Reporter: Ok. Cut the crap. We’ve heard the old “dodgeroo” before. Now that we know about the principal and all the rest of your evasive BS, tell us why you were arrested!

Vice Principal: I have been granted bail, as you know. Bail is an admirable aspect of our legal system. If you have money or a trusty bail bondsman, and you’re not a flight risk, you can get out of jail pending your trial. I would never fly anywhere anyway, or even take a train or a bus. I’m a solid risk. You can trust that!

Well, I’ve got to go serve lunch at the nursing home, and then go to church for evening mass. We’ll take this up again at a later date.

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].

Time was running out. It was almost my birthday and I couldn’t face it it. I was old: I was getting deaf, my legs were wobbly, I had developed a double-vision malady and could no longer drive. I got up a half-dozen times at night to pee, my teeth were coming lose, I was chronically constipated. An MRI had shown white spots on my brain. My right pinky was frozen in a 90 degree angle to the palm of my hand. I wear a brace on my hand to retrain my pinkie to go flat. Probably, if I thought about it a little longer, a few more signs of age-related body-rot would come mind.

I said to myself “Billy, you’re only 62. You ought to be able to overcome all this crap and feel young again. Chin up. Damn, that was stupid, my wattle buried my chin 5 years ago. Hmmm. Do some research. You’ll find something. I felt a little like Humpty Dumpty trying to put myself back together again.”

I went where everybody goes when there’s an urgency in their lives: Google. I made a boilerplate search document listing my malady’s and asking for cures. I sent it off to Google. I got one of those blue responses asking “Do you mean you are dying and want to be cremated?” I tried again with less detail. I spent all day going through the responses. As you can imagine, a good number of them were bizarre. I think the weirdest was the recommendation that for a week to stick a lit Christmas tree light in my butt every-other day, leaving it in for six hours each time. When I read that, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. One recommendation was to “scoop out” one of my eyes, precluding being cross-eyed. That one almost made me turn off the computer. But I didn’t.

What came up next was a site selling supplements. My daughter takes supplements and they don’t seem to hurt her, except for the barely visible mustache that looks like a shadow on her upper lip. So, I ordered a bottle of “Youngy” ground “Gods Nuts” for $200.00. They came in the mail the next day. They smelled a little funky. I took the recommended dose of 12. Nothing happened right away. Eventually they kicked in and ALL of my malady’s evaporated! I went wild celebrating non-stop for two days. I woke up on my birthday ready to rip. About halfway through singing “Happy Birthday” to me, I started feeling funny. My stomach was bulging out. I went to the bathroom and was shocked to see my penis was gone, replaced by a vagina. I was going to have a baby! It all moved so fast! My pregnancy lasted a week. I have a beautiful little girl who looks like my late mother, and my penis returned!

Now I am a very young looking celebrity. I was on FOX News the other night. Tucker Carlson interviewed me and said he had already given birth to 3 babies, but he has to keep them out of sight. What a liar! I’ve Googled “Youngy” and “Gods Nuts” hundreds of times and they’ve completely disappeared from the internet. My daughter Athena has grown four feet in two months and has started to speak. She talks in a monotone like one of those outer space creatures in a 50s sci-fi movie. But, who cares? We love each other and are living a good life together.


After writing what’s above, Billy was found dead, run over in his own driveway. Athena was suspected of his murder. She stole his car and was reported by some drug-soaked hippy losers to have boarded a flying saucer along with Jimi Hendrix, Kieth Moon, and Janis Joplin. According to the hippies, the flying saucer “like shot off into the sky like a big flat jet, man.” The hippies said she was 8-feet tall and was wearing a t-shirt that said “Gods Nuts.” The police ignored the hippies’ “insane ranting” and the case was listed as unsolved, and remains so today.

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 was the most beau beau . . . Damn. I’m sorry. My feelings took over there for a couple of seconds. I’ll give it another try. It was the most beautiful Ba . . . Oh wait. I’m stuck again. This is really hard to do. Maybe if I start at the beginning. As you all know, I’m a native New Yorker. I walk New York. I “talk” New York. My ancestors were Dutch. They went crazy when the Brits took over, doing everything they could to erase the Dutch cultural influences. But all that’s behind me. I am a New Yorker through and through.

I work on Wall Street for an international accounting firm, Arthur J. Jinglebooks. Jinglebooks has been around since the beginning of time. If you’ve travelled extensively, you’ve seen their offices all over the world, and would recognize their logo—a book with a bell clapper hanging out of the bottom.

The current CEO had decided that the firm needed to expand further in the US. So, I was being sent to Jackson, Mississippi to open a new branch. Growing up in New York, I was taught that Mississippi was like the dark side of the moon—loaded with bigots and other not too smart people who all wore overhauls, drove pickup trucks, chewed tobacco, were “too close” to their relatives, and could barely read.

Here I am. The archetypal New Yorker headed down South to start an accounting firm. Would I even be able to find somebody capable of doing math? When I got there, I was led across the parking lot blindfolded. I was sure I would die. But, when we got inside and the blindfold was removed, there was a big chocolate cake that said “Welcome Boss” on it. So, the people were great—all the stereotypes melted away, leaving a good feeling. But, there was one thing that left a bad feeling: the food. Chicken Fried Steak, Grits, Iced Tea day and night—an over-sweetened endless amber river, Alligator n’ Eggs, Biscuits ‘n Gravy, Catfish and hush puppies. I went to MacDonalds as often as I could, but it didn’t work.

Eventually, I finished the job and came back to New York. I started thinking about having an onion bagel with lox and cream cheese somewhere over Georgia. For me, the bagel is the pinnacle of New York cuisine. I literally ran to Bella’s Bagels when I got out of my cab. I tore open the door and the smell was so beautiful I almost fainted. I ordered my onion bagel and lox with cream cheese. When I bit in, it was like kissing an angel. I ordered a bag of plain bagels. I was home again!

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.

I have loved and lost, but I’ve never lost my love for my slippers. Oh slippers! You comfort my feet. You wrap them with warmth. All day Saturday. All day Sunday. You deliver me from going outside in the heat of summer, and in winter’s bitter cold. I give thanks to the sheep who made the ultimate sacrifice to line you with fluffiness and the softness of all-natural materials.

Oh blessed slippers. I remember the box you came in, Wrapped in paper printed with holly sprigs and bright red holly berries—so festive, so apt for the season. I tore off the paper and opened the box. I almost wet my New York Yankees pajamas. But I held it. Running to the bathroom, I could think of nothing but pulling you onto my feet—beginning a relationship with depth, and warmth, and non-skid adventures on my home’s wooden floors—no more wearing socks and sliding into the wall when I try to catch my cat Vertigo to give him a good brushing.

But oh, yon footwear, sweet sole cushion, partner in leisure, vessel of perfect warmth, I must bid farewell. It is with tears in my eyes that I say goodbye. Your leather has stretched and you are I’ll-fitting. Your lining has worn away and you are no longer a conduit for warmth and joy. Your upper parts are irretrievably soiled, and I confess, smell a little.

But our goodbye, is not altogether bad for you. I am donating you to the Salvation Army Thrift Store. Henceforth, you will be reincarnated. You will don the the feet of another man—a very very fortunate man. He will lift you from the shoe shelf, put you on, and walk up and down the footwear aisle—he will say “Mmm” and head to the check-out counter, clutching you tightly with his calloused hands.

Life goes on. My new slippers coming from L.L. Bean are due in the mail today. They are made from all-organic materials. They are waterproof, shock proof, and change colors with the temperature. With a heavy heart, I box up my old slippers. We go to the drop-off dock. I hand over the box. At the last minute, I pull it away and run to my car.

My slippers are retired. They spend their days and nights on a special shoe rack in my closet. My new slippers are ok, but there’s something about them that I can’t put my finger on.

My old slippers have taught me that things change. We must learn to let go, but not completely.

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 stand the heat, sit down.” This is one of those enigmatic sayings you’re supposed to figure out on your way to enlightenment. It is so humorous to see people eating vegetable, getting rid of their shoes and wearing exotic clothes discussing this and other sayings with their doped up friends, saying “Wow” over and over while they speculate on the sayings’ meanings. They are like crackpot kindergarteners, sitting in a circle on the playground, practicing their animal sounds. Oink. Moo. Baa.

This morning I heard this one: “When your soup is cold, heat it.” They tried to figure out what they thought were the saying’s metaphors by focusing first on “soup,” the saying’s key term. Instead of taking it literally, with their brains fogged with THC, they had to go down the road of free range speculation as if did not really matter if they derived meaning from the saying at all. It was like the communal querying was an end in itself, where generating a quantity of meanings was more important than generating “the” meaning.

I confirmed this with the group’s leader Elvis Mandela. He told me: “The storming of the brain is like the storming of the sky. Trying to make sense that satisfies most people but collectively bruises the brain like a blow to a banana. We want a disparate jumble of non-synonymous, non-commensurate, clashing, yet peacefully offered meanings that get to our uniqueness as human life-forms, oops, I meant to say “human beings.”

I noticed there was a poorly concealed zipper on Elvis Mandela’s forehead. I reached for it and was able ti zip it down to his upper lip before he squirmed away and stood up. “Fool!” he yelled. “Now, The Dogs Will Eat Their Plastic Bones.” I had no idea what the hell he was talking about. His follows were coming toward him. They were gnawing on plastic bones and moaning in unison. At this point, I yelled as loud as I could, “Cut the shit!” They immediately dropped bones. The started chanting, “Elvis Mandela is a fraud. He hides behind a zipper.” I looked at his unzipped face again—it was Mow Carlisle, the boy who had gone missing 10 years ago when he was delivering papers on his paper route. I asked Mow what had happened. He said he found the rubber suit in a trashcan and put it on. Wearing it, he felt safe. It stretched with him over the years as he grew. From his paper route he learned to respect cryptic headlines as inducements to read what was below. So, he started making cryptic sayings and yelling them to people as they passed by. Soon a crowd gathered and he herded them to the park, where his theory of heterogenous interpretationism was born.

I zipped Elvis’ face back up and his followers started peacefully returning. As I walked away I thought to myself, “The bird is the word.”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

The shower was leaking all over. Somehow the shower head had come loose and it was spraying on the ceiling and over the shower curtain onto the floor.* This “loosening” has happened every morning for a week. I keep a pair of vise-grips in the bathroom now, and retighten the shower head every morning. If I was smart, I’d tighten it before I turn it on. But I’m not smart, and my memory’s not good from playing tackle in junior varsity football. I dropped out of school in the eight grade because I couldn’t concentrate, write good, or pass tests.. I’ve been a policeman for the past five years. I was given a desk job after I shot a pigeon in the park for pooping on a bench.

But, it was the “Shower Head Mystery” that initially got me interested in police police work. I had the police investigate. They tore out my bathroom ceiling and tore up the floor boards. They found nothing. Then, they removed the toilet and sent a special waterproof camera into the hole in the floor. Nothing. They recommended that I install a surveillance camera and catch the villain on recorded video.

I went to Best Buy and bought a camera—it had color and sound, and would work in low light conditions. I set it up on the shower stall ceiling, aiming directly at the shower head. I was sure to get a good shot of the “Shower Head Vandal.” Bed time came, and I was all set. I had a baseball bat and bear spray on the floor by my bed. I was ready. I climbed into bed and conked out immediately. I got up the next morning and couldn’t wait, I checked the shower head, and sure enough, it was loose—looser than ever before. I grabbed the camera and took it downstairs to hook up to my laptop.

I got it all hooked up and hit play. My God! It was me! I was the “Shower Head Vandal.” I threw my laptop at the wall and stalked upstairs to retighten the shower head. I was at a loss about the whole thing until I went to see Madam Morning Star. She is a mystic-seer who lives down the street from me. She dealt the cards out on the table. She gazed at them for five minutes. She said: “The cards are telling me you should have your shower head welded on. Until then you will be compelled by the night spirits to loosen it. You are not crazy, you are possessed. Don’t worry, the night spirits will leave of their own accord once you’ve failed to loosen the shower head a sufficient number of times.”

I had the shower head welded onto the water pipe. Little did I know what lay ahead. I went to bed. When I awoke I walked whistling to the bathroom, certain all would be well. When I opened the bathroom door, I almost fainted: the bathroom was destroyed—the sink was shattered and lay in pieces on the floor. My towels and bath mats had been slashed and the shower stall was smashed, and the shower head was torn out of the wall and wound around the tub faucet.

I looked at the video and it was me who had destroyed my bathroom. What could I do to remedy my pathological nighttime vandalism? I went to see Madam Morning Star again. I was in tears standing on her front stoop when she opened the door. She welcomed me and invited me in. “The solution is simple,” she said. “Stop taking showers. Use hand sanitizer instead.“

I’ve been toweling down with hand sanitizer now for about a year. It is a blessing. I even have a few friends and a girlfriend too. My girlfriend wants to know why my bathroom is boarded shut, why I smell like hand sanitizer, and why she has to use the port-a-potty in my garage. I told her there is a rare toxic mold growing in my bathroom. I told her my hand sanitizer smell is the result of my precautionary interest in thwarting flus and viruses over my entire body. I told her the port-a-potty is a “fun alternative” to a flush toilet—which has been removed from my house as part of the toxic mold scare.

Some day, I will seek out a psychologist and confront the night spirits through her or him. “Why bathrooms?” I will ask.

*This story was dictated and transcribed

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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.

I hate everybody, and with good reason. Damn humanity! Screw all people! Eat shit featherless bipeds. Oh, and by the way, I’m human so I hate myself and mistrust myself. I mistrust my mistrust ad infinitum. I am wary of me and always think twice before doing anything I want to do. So, I do nothing. But, I learned the hard way, doing nothing is doing something. Like the time I was downtown shopping for a turtle at the pet store. I noticed the heat in one of the aquariums was turned up too high. The water was starting to boil and the fish were bouncing around in the bubbles. I was in a hurry, so I went straight to the turtle tank, scooped up a turtle, paid, and left. It was starting to smell like fish chowder as I went out the door. Just as I got out the door, I heard the proprietor yell “Oh my God! Those are my most expensive fish! I’ll kill the sadistic bastard who did this!” Although I didn’t turn up the heat, I was partially to blame for doing nothing about it. But, I don’t care.

I hate being apathetic. Apathy is my secret weapon, even though it’s the pathway to further self-loathing, regret, and isolation. I hate hating myself, but that does not make me like myself. At the same time, I hate the idea of killing myself, taking medication or joining a self-help group. My self-hatred manifests itself most palpably in my personal hygiene: I aim for bad breath as my signature hygiene statement. I think it is the most offensive body odor. I back it up by not washing my private parts. When I go to work at Carlisle’s Cheese Factory, some of my colleagues hold their noses when I walk by. I know it’s all in fun because the cheese factory smells worse than me, especially the Limburger Room, which is kept sealed off because of the Limburger’s stench, a stench I adore as resonant with the human condition.

Some old philosopher said “The people are a beast.” It might have been Ronald Reagan. It is true. We fight for everything, like beasts. Nothing belongs to everybody, except what nobody wants. The fights are metaphorical and literal. Greed motivates them: when two people want what’s only enough for one person, they fight for it (or buy it with superior wealth, gained from fighting elsewhere). Love, by the way, is a shared delusion that lasts until it’s put to the test by penury or some other misfortune. In love, you give up your autonomy—the one glimmer of happiness residing in our souls alongside being superior to other people. In short, love is a kind of mental illness.

Anyway, like I said I hate everybody, including myself. We’re all heartless scoundrels, and may not know it because we’ve never been faced with a pathetic charity case that deterred us from our greedy pursuit of everything of value to us; maybe donating $2.00 to the Hungry Children Cause, arguing that if thousands of people donate $2.00, it’ll add up to big bucks. But just imagine the hungry children lined up for their saltine with peanut butter and a cup of powdered milk.

Haha! I hate you. Damn you! You and everybody else. You’re no damn good. I’m no damn good. Get over it. Admit it. I did. I’m running for President.

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.

What language is “ee-I-ee-I-oh?” I think it’s of French, Italian, Swedish, Icelandic, and possibly, Chinese origins. Millions of years ago people routinely hiked around the world. There were no impediments. For example, there were land bridges from Paulus Hook (Jersey City) to New Amsterdam. With the farmland more affordable in Paulus Hook, world-hikers flocked there. They raised sheep and developed a code for displaying ownership that was understood in all languages operative then in Paulus Hook. They would point at their flock and sing “ee-I-ee-I-oh.” Eventually, this phrase evolved into an autobiographical song that was more expansive and included farmers’ entire lives—from agriculture school graduation, to moving to a dell, to taking a wife, to starting a dairy, to a livestock inventory—from chickens to goats.

My family emigrated to New Amsterdam from The Netherlands in the 1600s. They wore painted and varnished wooden shoes and loved tulips. They covered their mouths when they yawned and did not speak when chewing gum. Way ahead of their time, my ancestors went dancing at the “Van Gogh-A-Go-Go.” They did “The Wood Shoe Clomp,” the “Licorice Twist” and the “ee-I-ee-I-oh.” It was a beautiful, lovely, amazing, wonderful time back then; until the British showed up and took New Amsterdam away from my ancestors and named it New York, after York, a city in England with a wall around it to keep the residents in—licking boots and being lapdogs.

The English outlawed everything and ridiculed our culture. They wouldn’t cover their mouths when they yawned—this would make children cry. And they would roll their chewing gum around their tongues when they talked, making women and some men sick to see. Because “ee-I-ee-I-oh” was not derived from English, they deemed it subversive and banned it, and jailed anybody who used it. However, as an act of resistance, when they recited their vowels my ancestors would say “a-e-I-e-I-o-u.” It became a sort of anthem that wasn’t detected by the English until the Anglophile traitor Daan DeJong, pretending to be drunk, revealed the secret. He was granted a manor in New Ark, New Jersey, displacing its Dutch occupants. He was killed one week later by canon fire directed at his privy.

History is complex. Language is complex. Culture is complex.


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.”]

Elgin: “The moon is like a yellow bathrobe hanging in the sky. When it is full it is like a fat man. When it wanes, it’s on a diet, slimming down and disappearing—sneaking into a late night diner and becoming quiche.”

What do you think? I’m taking a creative writing class. When I read this in class, my fellow students squirmed around in their chairs and looked at the professor and coughed quietly.

You: It stinks. It’s like vomit with words. Or, a speaking hairball.

Elgin: Thanks—your cutting criticism builds my character. All great writers were not appreciated in their own time. Look at Poe. He died a drunk in the gutter. Or Socrates: his critics made him feel so bad, he killed himself! Hunter Thompson took lots of psychedelic drugs to drive out the critics’ voices.

Do you see what I’m saying? The worse you say it is, the better it is. That’s the rule I follow for dealing with my writing’s reception. And of course, out of respect, I must accept any positive feedback I get: of which my 14-year-old nephew is the only instance. He liked “I Shot the Teddy Bear, I Didn’t Shoot the Bunny Rabbit.” It was influenced by my Reggae roots in music and my sympathy for the plight of all Jamaica.

You: What happened to you?

Elgin: Ha ha! I’ve written a lot of great stuff. Here’s another sample.

“My mouth is an inverted unicorn horn with the tip sawn off—a single shaft jammed down my throat like a train track made from bananas soaked with cognac and sweet syrup leading to the mall, carrying the mail in a ruby-crusted bag made by greedy charlatans in workshops on mountaintops somewhere in Switzerland, wearing goose down coats and mink fur hats, and banging their sheep skin gloved hands together to keep them warm. The rubies are fake.”

I like this! The surprise ending is the clincher: “The rubies are fake.” Did it bowl you over? When I wrote it, it bowled me over! The rest of it conveys the angst of modern life, and it’s roots in it’s ultimate incoherence.

You: “Ultimate Incoherence!” Perfect! “Unintelligible” might be more accurate. Or perhaps “mentally ill” captures it best. I think you’re about to join the ranks of under-appreciated writers. There’s a van waiting downstairs.

Elgin: You have thwarted my artistic endeavors all my life. Your jealousy has consumed you. You Neanderthal! You jelly sandwich! You box of mud!


Of course, after he was put away, Elgin was “discovered” by the literary world. “Unicorn Horn” achieved acclaim everywhere and was voted by Literati Magazine “Most Likely to Induce Functional Confusion.” However, the asylum kept the news from Elgin because it would damage his fragile self concept as a complete failure. They told him he won nothing.

The asylum that Elgin was housed in was in Texas, where “guests” are permitted to kill themselves as as long as the vehicle is a hot beverage. When he found out he was a loser, Elgin requested a mug of piping hot hemlock, sweetened with honey and seasoned with nutmeg. After drinking it, he said, “This isn’t bad,” and died. Now Elgin is a literary icon. Now, first editions of his works are worth $100,000. Now, his brother, who had him committed, has become a millionaire.

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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.

Edward: I don’t know how many times I put myself last for you. When we were kids I let you get in front of me at the ice cream stand. I always hold the door and let you go first. When we had our first house with one bathroom, I’d let you go first while I went in the yard if I had to. I kept a roll of toilet paper under the back porch by the bucket. If we ran out of something, like peanut butter, I’d let you have the last bit. When we couldn’t afford for both of us to have the Porterhouse steak at “Morty’s Big Meats,” I had a salad, bread, and a glass of water. Whenever we travel, I let you have the window seat and have my pretzels too.

Now, after all the giving and putting you first, you’re telling me I’m having an affair with your sister— God, that’s twisted. I couldn’t have an affair with her if I tried. She is a morally upright Christian girl. She only dates unmarried people of faith. If my selfless track record in our marriage isn’t enough to convince you that there’s nothing going on, then I can vouch for her conduct and character in my capacity as her friend. When has she ever given you a reason to doubt her character? And me? In twenty years of marriage, and two children, I have never let you down. Whoever planted this rumor about Bette and me should be tortured to death, or something like that. I think you should apologize to Bette. She’s as pure as the driven snow. Again, I guarantee she’s not fooling around with me—take it from your loving selfless husband. I was going to visit Bette tonight for our weekly Scrabble game. Why don’t you come along? The three of us can play Scrabble together.


Edward was having an affair with Bette. She became pregnant. She was unable to get an abortion because of her state’s laws. She told her sister everything about her affair with Edward. Edward was found drowned in Big Bend River. Although his pants were filled with rocks, foul play was not suspected. Edward’s death was ruled a suicide. The two sisters moved in together and raised baby Travis to be a selfless loving man.

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.

I told him to dig the pit—this pig ain’t getting any younger! What? You like antique pork? I did not mean it. I did not want to be there. I didn’t want to whack and gut the poor little piggy. His name was Porky. I had raised him for Four-H and won a blue ribbon for the job I had done. In everybody’s mind down here, pigs are for breeding and eating. In the end they all end up on the chopping block, after they can’t make piglets any more, or when they’re tender and juicy and good to eat. They’re also eaten as “sucklings” at 2-6 weeks old. That’s pretty barbaric. Porky is one year old. Good eating age. I could still pick him up and hug him. He seemed to like it.

He kept catching my eyes with his little pig eyes from his pen. He looked like he was pleading. I could smell the smoke and hear Mr. Giles sharpening the butcher tools. Porky will be shot in the head with a .357, and then taken apart with knives and a cleaver—all razor sharp. Then I did it. I opened Porky’s pen and picked him up and ran like hell. Porky oinked like he was cheering me on. I heard people running after me and yelling things like “you bastard,” “F’in thief,” “Your ass is grass.” Now, they cranked up their ATVs and were coming across the field to get me. I thought for sure they’d kill me. They caught up with me and I handed over Porky. I hopped the back of one of the ATVs and rode back to the pit.

Uncle Pete told me not to worry: “This kind of thing happens all the time when kids make their 4-H projects into pets. It happened with me and my rabbit Penny. It’s hard to eat your pet, but once you get a juicy chunk of tender Porky pork loin in your mouth—mmm mmm—all those doubts and hesitations will disappear.”

Uncle Pete made a lot of sense. Why not eat Porky? He was just a pig. Porky was looking at me again with his little pig eyes. I knew that he knew I was going to be complicit in his murder. As I stood there he snoffled at Me pitifully, but my mind was made up. Uncle Pete had gotten to me. When I heard the .357 and Porky’s final squeal coming from behind the barn, my mouth started watering.

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.).

A: It is snowing again. We’re supposed to get a foot of snow—heavy wet snow. Back-breaking snow. Devil-snow. Our driveway is 200-feet long. I shovel it by hand. It takes nearly all day and you’re stuck in the garage waiting until I finish. Then it starts snowing again. Our driveway is cursed. It is killing me. I want a snowblower.

B: A snowblower? What are you crazy? They cost thousands of dollars. It’s hard enough to support my mother. A snowblower would bankrupt us. Aside from the occasional chest pains, shoveling keeps you in shape and those EMS volunteers are so nice. When they put that shock thing on your chest, you bounce three inches off the ground, and they’ve brought you back to life every time we call them. Do you want to give all that up? The electric shock? The bouncing? The coming back to life?

A: You are heartless Marge—heartless Marge. Let’s hire somebody to plow our driveway. I wouldn’t even have to go outside! It would add a few years to my life. I could watch out the window and wave.

B: What are you crazy? They start plowing at 2” and keep going as long as it snows. They charge $20.00 per plow. Over time, that’s more expensive than a snowblower. I think your selfishness is reprehensible. Look, just because you’re due for the eventual fatal heart attack, doesn’t mean we have to spend our life-savings and your Social Security on snow removal. My poor mother, and me too. Lower middle class does not cut it when you look at our myriad expenses. You don’t know it, but I spend $100 on eggs alone! And your life insurance premiums go up every year. Wake up Frank! We’re not millionaires.

A: Ok Marge, that’s it. I think the best argument I can make for snow management is to move to Lima, Peru without you. Clearly, you want me dead. I don’t want to be dead. I will sell the house and split the proceeds with you, and you can figure out what to do about the snow in the winter, and the grass in the summer. Maybe your mother can move in with you and help shoveling the driveway and mowing the grass.

Next winter, I’ll be eating ceviche and dinking Pisco Sours. I hope you enjoy freezing off your cheap merciless ass with you mother. Maybe the two of you can make some snowmen or a luge run. Goodbye.

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: Do you like my new boots? They’re made out of bullhide.

B: If I was you, I’d hide them in my closet and never take them out again, and that’s no bull!

A: That’s bullshit. You remind me of the man who had no feet. He lost them in a gasoline-powered weed trimmer accident. He was doing yard work barefoot, clearly a stupid choice. He cranked up the weed trimmer. The trimmer-head malfunctioned and trimmer string shot out and garroted his feet off. He tried to get a settlement from Weedy Chop, but he was judged negligent in his use of the trimmer due to his bare feet, even though the weed trimmer malfunctioned. Accordingly, he couldn’t afford prosthetic feet. Instead, he has a pair of rubber knee-boots stuffed with modeling clay. When he goes out (which is almost never) he wraps duct tape around the top of each boot to hold it on. He’s trying to get the boots patented under the name “Clay Feet,” but he can’t find a patent attorney willing to work pro bono for a free pair of Clay Feet.

B: What the hell is the lesson here? How could I possibly remind you of this poor guy with no feet? What’s the point?

A: That’s one point for you for asking! Why are you like the man with no feet? You take stupid risks like he did, like telling me to hide my bullhide boots. You don’t even realize saying something like that could sever our friendship. I’m basically fed up by your clever little insults. Like I say, “Let’s take trip,” and you say sarcastically, “Trip on a crack?”

B: How is that an insult? You’re an insult! I’m going home.

A: Oh, you have a home? Ok. Don’t go. Stay, and we can work this out if we just talk some more. We always do. We’re both pushing 70 and we’ve been friends since we were twenty. Remember when we used to race our Corvairs at the drag strip on Family Days? I beat you every time, but you didn’t seem to mind.

B: I minded enough to let the air out of your tires a couple of times. You didn’t beat me every time. I even won a couple of trophies while you were refilling your tires! Truth be told, I should be asking why you stopped wearing rubber boots all the time. I always thought it was a little quirky, and I made fun of you countless times. Like, boot boy, shake your booty, boot it up, bootleg, bootlick, and more. You still walk funny, but I guess the bullhide boots help a little. Are you the man with no feet?

A: Yes, that’s true. All these years I’ve kept it hidden from you for fear you would steal my “Clay Feet” patent, if I ever got one. You see, you’re the worst friend I ever had. I’ve stuck with you because you’re the only friend I’ve ever had. But hey, look here. I’ve put grommets in my pant legs, and shower curtain hooks attached to my boots to hold them on by hooking them through the grommets. No more duct tape! I’m calling them “Clay Feet Deluxe.”

B: Ok. Sounds good. Maybe I’ll see you around again someday in a few years. Bye bye Booty Boy.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

Our family, all three of us, lay on a blanket in the field down by the woods. There was no wind and it was a warm summer night. We were looking for shooting stars and star gazing too. There was no moon. It was perfect. We stood up to look at the stars’ constellations as well as the North Star—that piece of twinkling light that has guided countless people to their destinations. People need reliable anchor points to guide them home: from loving partners to lights in the sky, they help us find our way. Then we saw the two dippers—big and little, Orion, Cassiopeia and the Milky Way. The constellations have been projected onto the sky by humans for thousands of years. Most of them have Greek and Latin names. The ancients connected the sky-dots in accord with their cultures, naming them, mostly, from their pantheons of gods and goddesses. The Milky Way was called Via Galactica—the road of milk—by the Romans. It is amazing that in thousands of years the names still fit, partially because they project a sort of continuity in human perception—naming is important and was a matter of convention, but the stars’ names persist, as is the case too with other aspects of natural order. “Star” starts with the Sanskrit stem “sta” and it shares meaning with every word starting with “sta” denoting a sort of sta-bility.

The wind. The rain. The snow. The stars—the beautiful stars that bring life to the cold night sky providing insomniacs and pining romantics alike with something to look at—a grand distraction that certifies the night as more than a site of frustration or grief. The stars may prompt revelation, if not solutions to the night’s quandaries: the burden of wakefulness, the bisected horror of a traumatized heart. We all see stars, but we may all see them differently, like everything else, our capacities and interests differ: nothing is identical to anything else, just similar at best, as if similar is preferable different. It is all circumstantial, flowing from particular cases through particular people who’re mutable, and may be changed by what they see.

Meteor time! I shut up and we lay on the blanket and wait. My daughter points at the sky and yells, “There’s one!” There it is! A thread of white fire, going down. It disappears as it burns out in the atmosphere. We saw that happen 8 times. Each time it warranted yelling “There’s one!” And a chorus of “Oooh!” It makes me think of fireworks in the July or New Year skies, or van Gogh’s “Starry Night.”

Stars make the sky into wonder’s blanket. When you gaze at them at night, you are joining millions of other people as darkness sweeps around the globe. There is something about people that makes the sky worth contemplating.

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.]

There were hundreds of crows. Circling. Cawing. Looking down at the cornfield. Looking down at me. I had been hired by the richest man in the county, if not the state, to be his personal scarecrow. I had gone through rigorous training in Kansas where all the large corporate corn farms have living scarecrows. They’re called “Scare Boys” and most of them are high school dropouts with a story to tell, I dropped out of high school to earn money after my father took off with “Hairy Mary” when the traveling carnival visited town. He was bald, so maybe Mary made him feel better. On the other hand, my father always said he should’ve been a cat. Snuggling with Mary’s hairy torso might’ve made him feel like a cat. This is just speculation, what else can I do?

So, the crows were checking me out, swooping lower and lower. I was dressed in a three piece suit. My employer believed it was less likely the crows would poop on me if I wore a suit. I believed the opposite. I was right. The crows rained down a cloudburst of poop. It was like my beautiful suit had been smeared with Fluff marshmallow spread. Luckily, I was wearing a wide brimmed cowboy hat so my head was spared. It was time to scare some crows!

I put on my eye protectors in case they tried to peck my eyeballs out. We had watched “The Birds” as part of our training, so eye pecking by angry birds was on the menu. They were starting to dip, trying to knock my hat off and peck on my head until they drilled into my brain and killed me. I pulled down my chin strap. There was no way my hat was coming off.

I pulled my stadium horn from its holster and blew the Crow Panic sound. The flock lost its formation, crows were colliding and falling out of the sky. Then, I blew Crow Retreat. The crows flocked back up and flew away, leaving behind their dead and wounded comrades. I kept blowing Crow Retreat until they disappeared over the horizon. I put my stadium horn away and noticed there was a wounded crow by my foot. I picked it up. Brought it home. Nursed it back to health. I named him CORAX, which means raven or crow in Greek. I learned that in Scare Boy school. I taught CORAX to be an informant, sort of like Paul Revere, alerting me when the “crows are coming.” I rewarded him handsomely for his spying—he had a spacious nest in a solid silver cupola, specially built as his home. He was fed the finest organic corn that money could buy. With minor surgery on his tongue, he was able to speak. He learned Lincoln’s “Gettysburg Address” and “Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.” He could also carry on a rudimentary conversation. We worked together for nearly ten years, and then CORAX was found out and assassinated by a hit crow from Miami (we’re pretty sure of this),

I retired after CORAX was taken out by the hitter. Some day, I’m going to write a book about my career as a Scare Boy. Scare Boys are no more. Now they have stadium horns embedded in giant mechanical crows. The operator monitors the cornfields from a remote panel with CCTV and presses buttons turning the stadium horns off and on for miles around.

Now, I am working on developing a home for orphaned crows. There is an abandoned Speedy Lube nearby that I have my eye on. Send money to ComeAndFundMe at “Crow’s Nest.” I will be grateful.

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

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Auxesis (ok-see’-sis): (1) Arranging words or clauses in a sequence of increasing force. In this sense, auxesis is comparable to climax and has sometimes been called incrementum. (2) A figure of speech in which something is referred to in terms disproportionately large (a kind of exaggeration or hyperbole). (3) Amplification in general.

I had a boil on my butt as big as a house, as big as Nebraska, as big as Donald Trump’s ego: the size of half a basketball, and that’s no exaggeration, buddy. That’s the stark blobbed-up truth. I was layin’ in bed and my wife said she felt some thin’ funny like a water balloon sloshin’ around on my rear end. When she squeezed it I about jumped through the ceiling with pain. It had sprouted during the night. It probably would’ve blown if I had slept on my back or tossed and turned. It would’ve blown and maybe drowned my wife. The thought disgusted me, but this was real life and I had to deal with it.

We had to go to the doctor, but I was afraid if I sat down in the car the boil would blow and soak the car seats with some kind of vile-smelling body fluid. So we walked. I put my butt in my wheelbarrow and my wife pushed me along. I had on a T-shirt with my underpants down around my knees. I made a little sign I held so people we passed would know what was going on: “Giant Boil on Hind-end. In transit.” It more or less worked, but the children we passed were still puzzled. When we went by a neighbor’s house, she was in the driveway and couldn’t miss us. She yelled “Bernie” and covered her eyes. Bernie came out with a baseball bat, but nothing happened. I yelled sarcastically, “Thank for understanding!” and we kept going. I was afraid I would blow at any minute.

When got to the doctor’s I hopped out of the wheelbarrow, went through the door and told the receptionist I had an appointment to be drained and pointed at my bulging butt. She gagged and told me to go wait in the corner by the examining room. Almost immediately, Dr. Dringle called me into the examining room. My pants were already down, so we went straight to the examination. “Holy shit! That’s the mother of all boils,” said an awe struck Dr. Dringle, “My office equipment can’t handle it. We’ll have to drain at the sewage treatment facility by the mall. You’ll lay on your stomach in the back of my pickup truck, and we’ll drive you there. We’ll have to stop and get a permit at Town Hall, but that’ll only take a few minutes.” I got in the back of the truck, and off we went. The person issuing permits came outside to measure my butt to make sure it met specifications for draining at the sewage treatment plant. My butt passed inspection and we headed for the plant. When we got there we were taken to a room with a giant bowl. It was filled with poop and it was being stirred by a giant mechanical spatula. “Brownies?” I quipped. The foreman gave me a dirty look and pointed at a contraption bolted to the side of the bowl. It looked like a child’s potty with an extra large hole in it and a ladder on the side. Dr. Dringle, now wearing an orange haz-mat suit and respirator, climbed down the ladder with a sharped knitting needle in his hand. He stabbed my boil with the knitting needle. The pus flooded out, and my butt deflated in under one minute.

It took two weeks for my butt to heal. I still have the loose skin on my butt where the boil used to be. It makes a slapping sound when I wiggle my hips naked. The boil changed my life. I have joined the Boilites. We meet every week and eat yogurt and make our skin slap to techno music.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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