Monthly Archives: April 2023

Aetiologia

Aetiologia (ae-ti-o-log’-i-a): A figure of reasoning by which one attributes a cause for a statement or claim made, often as a simple relative clause of explanation.


I love going to the library because it is a refuge from life’s cacophony. It is quiet and everybody has their head reverently bowed, reading, some moving their lips. The moving lips irritate me. It’s like reading out loud with the sound turned off. Sometimes I can hear them softly whispering, especially the children. They disturb the library’s sanctity as a citadel of silence, contemplation, and wonder.

I nearly go into a rage. I take a book into the Men’s Room. I lock myself in one of the stalls. Saturated with anger I tear the pages from the book, crumple them up and flush them down the toilet. I put the mutilated book deep in the trash can, punch the wall until my knuckles bleed, and return to my seat. Today, I tore up Baudelaire’s “Paris Spleen.” I feel like the author: “I’m like the king of a rainy country, rich but helpless, decrepit though still a young man.”


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Affirmatio

Affirmatio (af’-fir-ma’-ti-o): A general figure of emphasis that describes when one states something as though it had been in dispute or in answer to a question, though it has not been.


Preacher: Who said the sky is blue? Who said the earth is round? Who said climate change is a fact? Who said abortion should be safe and legal? And now, get ready to roll around on the floor spewing puke and crying: Who said people should be permitted to change their sex?

It is those demonic Democrats every time. Their diabolical beliefs are undermining our party’s self-evident truths and feeding America to a hungry Satan. He is chewing on our children and laughing in our faces as he washes them down, crying and screaming, with our warm evangelical blood.

We are at war, and in wars people get killed. We must kill enough Democrats to satisfy Saran’s hunger. If we can feed Satan enough Democrats he will surely let us ultra-right conservatives alone. Technically, we may be doing Satan’s work, but actually we are clearing our communities of sin. On that note . . .

See this man here? We’ve tied him to this flagpole flying the American flag to emphasize the righteousness of our cause. We all know him as Jack, the counterman at Cliff’s. He sells alcohol. He sells tobacco. He sells lotto tickets. But most repugnant and disgusting: he is a baby killer, selling condoms—rubber baggies that keep the little swimmers from going where they belong—going through the baby door, into Eve’s egg-crate.

We must make an example of him by burning him at the stake. Sinners will hear about what happened here and tremble with fear.

Sheriff: Not so fast Preacher! It’s still illegal to murder people around here. Drop the Bic lighter and put up your hands, you’re under arrest.

POSTSCRIPT

The spell was broken. The crowd dispersed muttering. The ground opened up and the Reverend went to meet his fate.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Aganactesis

Aganactesis (ag’-an-ak-tee’-sis): An exclamation proceeding from deep indignation.


“Who the hell took my hinges? You scum! Give them back!” I yelled and yelled. Upstairs. Downstairs. Out by the fence. The cowardly bastard was hiding with my hinges somewhere—probably in the tall grass down by the main gates.

I have been collecting hinges for 5 years. I buy them on the internet. Ever since I heard of Cardea I’ve used hinges to ward off bad things: “Cardea was the ancient Roman goddess of health, thresholds, door handles, and hinges. Her name comes from cardo, meaning door-pivot. She protected children against vampires and witches, and was also the benefactress of craftsmen.” (https://dullmensclub.com).

I wear a hinge on a chain around my neck and scatter hinges around my room to keep me safe. I have some important hinges in my collection. Do you remember Richard Nixon boarding a helicopter to leave the White House after he resigned? Well I have the hinge from the helicopter’s door! I paid $20.00 for it at a government surplus auction! What a steal! You’ve heard of the blues song “Back Door Man.” Howlin’ Wolf performed it in the 60s. Well, I have one of the hinges from the back door Wolf was singing about. It was actioned off by his estate. I picked it up on eBay for $2,500.00. When I wear it, I don’t have to use front doors. I have a hinge from one of Aldous Huxley’s doors of perception. I have affixed it to my bathroom door. I don’t know if it’s the wallpaper, but wow, when I sit on the can, the walls start breathing and little men tug on the toilet paper roll, and sometimes, there’s a horrible smell. I will mention one more piece from my collection: the most stupendous, tremendous set of hinges that I possess. Get this: I just returned from Narnia this morning where I landed when I went into my clothes closet. It’s door rides on two hinges from “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” I purchased them from C.S. Lewis’ daughter after she lost her fortune investing too late in hula hoops. When I go to Narnia, I run a bar called “Nippers.” It is mostly a lager bar. I also serve the local beverage “Danger Leek” made of distilled leek juice. It makes ever clear look like shandy!

So, now you’re going to ask why I’m here. You can’t be serious! Everybody knows I am a threat to the world order. Given my birthright and my hinge collection, I could dominate the world. But these bastards keep me locked away. They say I’m crazy. Loony. Bonkers. Around the bend and all others insults stupid throw at geniuses. Come on. Let’s check out my closet—you’ll see.

They stepped into the closet and there was a whooshing sound. The journalist works at Nippers now clearing tables and sweeping up. For the time being he is stuck in Narnia, but he wants to stay. The inmate is a beloved member of the community. Everybody was happy to see him. The only reason he goes back to the Meadowvale Home is to see if he can find additional hinges for sale.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Allegory

Allegory (al’-le-go-ry): A sustained metaphor continued through whole sentences or even through a whole discourse.


The marrow was juicy. It dripped down my chin. Bones are hard on the outside, soft on the inside. I am a bone. My outer visage is hard and smooth. Inside I am soft and gooey like a custard pie. I am smooth and solid. Yet I can be broken by the burden of time, an accident or rough treatment. I can be cracked too by a lesser degree of stress, maybe falling for a promise or being tripped up by a lie.

My marrow is a life source—producing the liquid of life that nurtures my entire being. Through a network of warm rivers and streams it pulses through the rest of me, feeding me oxygen, feeding me being, and life. It swims through me unimpeded. If it is dammed by fate I may die: the death clot becomes more likely with every passing year—every passing year of self-indulgent dinners of roasted red meat and luscious pastries and cream.

But I am a bone. I am a pillar. I am a column. I am the Parthenon. I am the Lincoln Memorial. I am the British Museum. I am the New York Public Library. I am supportive, compassionate, and kind. I will stand firm. I support what’s good.

But alas.

Actually, I am an empty pickup truck with four flat tires, a blown head gasket and an expired inspection sticker. I could never be a bone. I should probably be junked or donated to NPR as a tax deduction.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Alleotheta

Alleotheta (al-le-o-the’-ta): Substitution of one case, gender, mood, number, tense, or person for another. Synonymous with enallage. [Some rhetoricians claim that alleotheta is a] general category that includes antiptosis [(a type of enallage in which one grammatical case is substituted for another)] and all forms of enallage [(the substitution of grammatically different but semantically equivalent constructions)].


Her brain was fried; yesterday, tomorrow and today: last year, for all time. “You better shut up,” she said to the mirror “You better take a walk. No, I’m too tired. You will take a walk. We can go together. You will walk while I look around. Come on. Let’s go.” She started out the door, but it looked like somebody was pulling on her arm, keeping her from going out the door.

I asked her if she had taken her medication. “She wouldn’t let me. She likes me this way.” I reached into her purse and got her pills out. She took the prescribed dose and we sat and waited for it to take effect. You could see her disparate selves starting meld. Her face alternatively contorted and smiled, she hugged herself and slapped herself, she swore and quoted the Bible. Suddenly, she was whole—it was like magic. The medication would last six hours. I suggested we go for a walk downtown. It was spring and there were tulips, daffodils, and crocuses blooming all over the place. As we walked, I asked her how she had fried her brain. She replied, “In an iron skillet with chopped garlic and rosemary. Once done, sliced thin and made into a sandwich on freshly baked focaccia with the fried brain topped with roasted red peppers.” I knew it wasn’t true, but the description set off hunger pangs and made my mouth water. I was no Zombie, but I couldn’t get the recipe off my mind. I could smell it. I could taste it. Juicy. Garlicky. Medium rare. Brain!

We were in the cemetery looking at flowers. I hit her over the head with a large rock. I kept hitting her and hitting her until her skull cracked open wide enough to pull out her brain. I put her brain in my backpack and headed home. I was wild with desire to eat her brain. I stopped at Hannaford’s to pick up 5 cloves of garlic, a bunch of rosemary, a jar of roasted red peppers, and focaccia. They didn’t have focaccia, so I got a baguette.

I almost ran home. I got out my skillet, poured in a little olive oil (an innovation), and turned up the heat. I dropped in the brain and sprinkled on the rosemary. Then, there was a knock at the door. It was a nurse from the Home for the Seriously Agitated accompanied by a police officer. Evidently, she had a pass to visit me and had not returned to the Home. I said, “I’ll be right back” to the Nurse and headed for the back door, where another police office was waiting. When they chased me through the kitchen, they had seen the brain cooking on the stove. Trying to be funny in the face of a gruesome fact, the police officer said, “Now her brain really is fried!”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Alliteration

Alliteration (al-lit’-er-a’-tion): Repetition of the same letter or sound within nearby words. Most often, repeated initial consonants. Taken to an extreme alliteration becomes the stylistic vice of paroemion where nearly every word in a sentence begins with the same consonant.


“Big Bill!” I yelled after I read what was in the envelope. Bill answered “What?” And came running into the kitchen. “What do you want?” he asked looking puzzled. I told him I wasn’t calling him—the credit card bill was big—really big. And then I asked him why he thought I was calling him “Big Bill.” He was 5’ 8” tall—hardly big— more like small. He said, “Big is in the eye of the beholder, and so is beauty and every other adjective and maybe adverb too, including smells. Wake up and smell your armpit.”

Every year, Bill gets closer to falling into the abyss. It is all about money. We share the credit card. Every couple of months Bill runs wild on Amazon buying stuff that I have to return—relabeling it and dropping it off at CVS for return. A couple of weeks ago he ordered 3 nail guns, an electric bicycle, and a Shetland pony. Luckily, I received notice of the orders and I was able to cancel them, except for the pony. To return it, I stuck the mailing label to its forehead and hired a trailer to take him to CVS. When I walked into CVS with the pony, it caused quite a stir. But the manager told me it was the third pony this week. Kids were getting on their parents’ Amazon accounts and ordering ponies. So, just leave the pony in the stall by the tooth care aisle. I hope it’s not a peppy pony! Last week, one got out of the stall and galloped up and down the aisles wreaking havoc on the laxatives and cough medicines. We managed to herd it back in the stall, but it was covered with NyQuil PM and smelled like cherries.

God, I was glad that was over. Even though it was a couple of week ago, the memory of the pony return was making me lose sleep. But now, I had to tackle the horror of a credit card bill that would kill my life savings if I paid it off: $6,000. It was Bill blissfully destroying our lives. He had bought a prefabricated chapel kit. It was too late to cancel the order. Bill told me he was going to use the chapel for funerals and weddings. He had become a Minister in the Universal Church. He said, “All we do is open the doors. Whether it’s life or death, people show up and I officiate for $500.” “Ok,” I thought, “I can see this as an investment of my life savings.” Bill’s first funeral was a disaster. He dropped the deceased’s ashes on the floor and the back of his pants ripped when he bent over to look at them scattered all over the place. We were sued for desecrating the dead, even though it was an accident.

We’ve turned the chapel into a chicken coop. We get by selling eggs and chicken-themed gifts. Our business is called “Eggistential Crisis.” I have taken Bill’s credit card away and enrolled him “Spendthrifts Anonymous.” Since he has no credit card, Bill is undergoing withdrawal. I have spray painted an expired insurance card and written “Credit Card” on it. I gave it to Bill. It works like a pacifier. When he feels the urge to shop, he takes it out of his wallet and holds it until the urge subsides.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Allusion

Allusion (ə-ˈlü-zhən):[1] A reference/representation of/to a well-known person, place, event, literary work, or work of art . . . “a brief reference, explicit or indirect, to a person, place or event, or to another literary work or passage”. It is left to the reader or hearer to make the connection . . . ; an overt allusion is a misnomer for what is simply a reference.[2]


Lincoln was on a roll. No, he wasn’t playing dice. He wasn’t sitting on a hot cross bun. He wasn’t at an amusement park riding the roller coaster. He wasn’t rolling along, singing a song, He wasn’t in New Jersey eating pork roll. He couldn’t do any of these things because he’s dead and buried somewhere in Illinois (I think). The one roll he can do is metaphorical: he can roll over in his grave, and that means that things have fallen so far out of synch with its founding ethic, his Republican Party has been hit by a shockwave like the electrical impulse that brought Frankenstein to life: that’s what it takes to get Lincoln to roll over in his grave: a million-watt shock switched on by Donald Trump. But who cares if he’s rolling over in his grave? It does not matter—it’s the Republican Party, not the Lincoln Party, tangled up by Gettysburg or Ford’s Theatre.

What does it mean to call the Republican Party the GOP? GOP: back in the day: Grand Old Party. Now: Goosestepping Old Pricks. See? Things change. But they change because people want them to, and change isn’t inherently good or bad, it just makes things different, for better and for worse. So, while Lincoln is rolling over, the Republican Party is having a makeover: with the promiscuous flow of firearms, the banning of abortions, increasing open hostility toward so-called “transsexual” people, climate change denial, and more. You have to ask: What does the bearer of these beliefs look like? Maybe, a gun in one hand and a tiki torch in the other, sending an unwanted baby to a state-run facility with the hope for adoption by a decent family not named Manson, demanding that people pull down their pants on demand for inspection, and asking “Who the hell needs Polar Bears anyway?”

That’s a Republican!

The Goosestepping Old Pricks are slowly extinguishing the fires of love, peace, and happiness that have warmed the US since the 60s. The Vietnam war was a breaking point. While Trump sat home and played with his fantasy bone spurs, the rest of us took to the streets, or actually fought in the war.

I can see nothing in the Republican party’s agenda that I take favorably or seriously. The Republican Party was hijacked by Nixon, revolutionized by Reagan, sent to war by Bush1, sent to war by Bush 2, and destroyed by Trump. Listen carefully to the Republican Platform. If it resonates with your perceived interests, don’t consider yourself a good person. You are a bad person—you want to inflict undeserved pain and suffering.


1. Phonetic transcription courtesy of Miriam-Webster’s On-Line Dictionaryhttp://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/allusion <3/6/08>.

2. Definition courtesy of Wikipediahttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allusion <3/6/08>.

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Amphibologia

Amphibologia (am’-fi-bo-lo’-gi-a): Ambiguity of grammatical structure, often occasioned by mispunctuation. [A vice of ambiguity.]


The boy bit into his grandmother’s finger. Her fingers were the best! After this one there would only be three left. He loved sprinkling powdered sugar on her fingers. Grandma didn’t like it, she thought it ruined their taste— “Too damn sweet,” she’d say.

After grandma died, there were no more fingers. As the boy grew older, he vowed to have his own fingers to eat. To pursue that goal, he became a pastry chef. He came up with a perfect replica of his grandma’s fingers. People loved his grandma’s fingers. They were in Gourmet Magazine and the food sections of newspapers around the country. Headlines read “Give me the finger!” “I’ll lift a finger!” “No need to cross these fingers!” There were hundreds more kudos coming from every direction. So, he decided to produce “Grandma’s Fingers” commercially. Each box would contain 10 fingers. They would have powdered sugar on them and would filled with the secret red filling.

“Grandma’s Fingers” flew off supermarket shelves and were ordered by the thousands from Amazon. Meanwhile, his jealous sister found a plastic bag in her brother’s freezer. Inside was one of grandma’s fingers—the kind with a knuckle and a finger nail. “No wonder Grandma was buried wearing gloves!” she exclaimed The police were called in to investigate. Her brother said he had no idea what was going on. He loved his grandma. His jealous sister, on the other hand, had tried once to push grandma down the basement stairs and one time had loosened a wheel on her wheelchair and let her roll down the driveway. The wheel stayed on.

The police discovered a homeless man had recently checked into the emergency room with a chopped-off finger. When questioned, he described the woman who had paid him $50.00 for his finger, and who had chopped it off with a meat cleaver. It was the jealous sister. She was tried and convicted and sentenced to five years for “Depriving a person of a digit.” Ironically, she has been assigned to the prison bakery.

Her brother, on the other hand, has been fighting in court for permission to have grandma’s finger freeze dried so he can have it mounted and hung on his office wall.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Ampliatio

Ampliatio (am’-pli-a’-ti-o): Using the name of something or someone before it has obtained that name or after the reason for that name has ceased. A form of epitheton.

Here comes the President of the United States—Elon Musk—Tesla Barker, Electric Savior, Twitter King, Rocket Man. But I call him Willy Nilly or Random Silly Pants. He has so much money he could bribe every senator, except Bernie. The House of Representatives would be a snap. Districts be damned. He would spend billions developing an electric tank. He would disband the CIA because secrets keep things secret, and that’s bad. He will double the height of Trump’s wall. Nothing will be permitted to be taught in K-12. Students will be required to work for Twitter, Tesla and Space-X for $2.00 per hour. Wolves will be exterminated. Everybody will be required to eat pork once a week. Vacation will be outlawed. All citizens will tithe 10% of their earning per month. The White House will be demolished and the sear of government will be moved Silicon Valley. Negative comments about the government will earn the death penalty. Elections will suspended. Anybody caught ridiculing President Musk’s name will be summarily executed. Anybody who is past due on installment payments will be jailed and their property confiscated.

Of course, all of the above is crazy. But we should never forget it is possible. Our democracy is always one step away from lunacy, The “step away” consists of majorities opposed to madness, but if for some reason, by some means, the loonies achieve a majority, everything will change. Our fears will be actualized, their hopes will be fulfilled.

Could homosexuality be outlawed? Could women lose the right to vote? Could racial discrimination be legalized? Unthinkable? Ha! How many democracies have slipped into hell driven by the will of the people?


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Anacoenosis

Anacoenosis (an’-a-ko-en-os’-is): Asking the opinion or judgment of the judges or audience, usually implying their common interest with the speaker in the matter [and illustrating their communally-held ideals of truth, justice, goodness and beauty, for better and for worse].


Who doesn’t want food? Anybody out there want to starve? No, I didn’t think so. But who wants to be fat? Only people with mental problems want to be fat—big blubber balls rolling down the avenue, risking death with every step. Given their burden on the health care system, I am proposing a bill making it illegal to be 20 or more pounds overweight. People who are “differently bodied” will be fined $50.00 for every pound they are overweight and be granted a membership in a government-sponsored gym where they will be required to exercise no less than 1-hour per day.

All exits and entries of buildings everywhere will be fitted with facial recognition cameras, scales and laser-based height measuring technology. If a “differently bodied” person is detected, as a first step, they will be sent a letter requesting that they come to Differently Bodied Headquarters (DBH) for further instructions. If they fail to appear, a Diet Squad will be dispatched to their home and they will be detained at DBH until they take the oath: “I faithfully promise to exercise daily and follow the prescribed menu. So help me god.”

Once we put this program into place, millions will be saved every year. Weight-related illnesses will become a thing of the past. We say, “Make America svelte again.” My national gym franchise “Exer-Mart” will be taking the lead on bringing the legislation to fruition. My gym shoes “Rocket Toes” will be required by all participants. My son Jasper will be in charge of everything, and all of you will be granted a piece of the action—10%. If you don’t want a piece, you’ll quietly disappear, maybe in a national forest. You can see, my Republican colleagues have their guns drawn and aimed at the Democrat side of the House.

Ok, let’s vote.

The votes are in. The Representative from New York couldn’t vote due to a flesh wound. The Bill 334 passes. Let’s make America svelte again!


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Bracketed text added by Gorgias.

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Anacoloutha

Anacoloutha (an-a-co’-lu-tha): Substituting one word with another whose meaning is very close to the original, but in a non-reciprocal fashion; that is, one could not use the first, original word as a substitute for the second. This is the opposite of acoloutha.


He thought he drove around her. She thought he tried to kill her. He had jumped the curb. She had jumped on the hood of the car. She rode on it. It hit a wall. She flew, but was not injured. She could not figure out what was going on. Should she report him to the police? Should she slap his face with a sock full of pennies? Should she get her big brother Waldo to beat him up? Or, should she just forgive and forget? After all, it could have been an accident.

She found him later that night at The Frozen Monkey Bar and Grill. He was sitting at the bar holding a giant glowing drink with two hands. He saw me looking at his drink and said, “It’s a Siberian Suicide; half a quart of vodka laced with A-1 Sauce, prune juice, and garnished with toasted marshmallows. I don’t know what causes the glow. Hey Eddy! What causes the glow?” Eddy (the bartender) told us it was a phosphorescent Guppy that could live in alcohol. It came from Lake Ponchartrain, near New Orleans, where the booze flows freely and the lake is 3%.

So I asked my boyfriend Clubby just what the hell he was trying to do with the running me over. He took a long draw though his drink’s straw and said “DWI.” So, maybe it wasn’t attempted murder. The bartender asked me when it happened. I told him and he told me that Clubby wasn’t drinking there that night. “You weren’t drunk, you liar. Don’t tell me you were drinking somewhere else. This is your place. This is your home!” “Ok Ok!” I had a heart attack and couldn’t drive right. I’ve quit smoking, and they gave me pills to take. I hope you can still love me,” Clubby said softly.

I was about to ask him for his doctor’s name, when I realized Clubby was a lying loser. I don’t know why he would want to run me over, and probably kill me. Heart attack! Bullshit!

Fearing for my life, I dumped him. Two days later he had a fatal heart attack while he was driving and mowed down 6 pedestrians. Nobody was seriously injured. The autopsy showed he was very, very drunk. They also found a glowing guppy blocking his carotid artery.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Anacoluthon

Anacoluthon (an-a-co-lu’-thon): A grammatical interruption or lack of implied sequence within a sentence. That is, beginning a sentence in a way that implies a certain logical resolution, but concluding it differently than the grammar leads one to expect. Anacoluthon can be either a grammatical fault or a stylistic virtue, depending on its use. In either case, it is an interruption or a verbal lack of symmetry. Anacoluthon is characteristic of spoken language or interior thought, and thus suggests those domains when it occurs in writing.


I was trying to—sand dollars! They were worthless. Could I develop a sandbox corps? Seashells everywhere. Flotsam too. A barnacle encrusted piano. A rusted wheelbarrow missing it’s wheel. A plastic bust of Abraham Lincoln. A deflated Happy Birthday balloon. A tennis net. A tennis ball that I did not want to name or develop a creepy relationship with.

I was hang gliding off a cliff in Hawaii when I got picked up by a cyclone and blasted away from land. The wind had stranded me on a small island somewhere in the South Pacific. I was getting along, eating coconuts and raw land crabs. I was lucky to be alive.

I was afraid to wade into the ocean, even at low tide. There were sharks swirling around. When I stood on the shore, they tried to coax me into the water. They made promises I knew they couldn’t keep. Like, “Hop on my back, I’ll give you a ride to Tahiti.” Or, “I just got off the phone with you sister, she wants you to come home immediately. Just wade into the water here and I’ll call you an Uber-boat to take you home. Your sister is quite worried. Please, let me help you.” It was all bullshit. There’s no way I would trust a shark, even though he tried to mimic my North Carolina accent. Very clever. Very devious. Very ruthless. I knew my sister would never call sharks—they were like telemarketers. She was smarter than that. She worked running the bowling ball cleaner at Brightly Lit Alleys in our home town. Bowling ball cleaners are complicated. You start it running, drop in the ball, press the clean button. The machine automatically goes to dry when it is finished washing. When the dry cycle is complete, you pull out the bowling ball (which takes a degree of strength), and polish the bowling ball with the “special” rag made from a carefully torn up bath towel from Salvation Army Thrift Store. My sister had a pretty good set of biceps on her from liftin’ all those balls. She even got to where she could juggle two balls. Her arms were like tractor pistons. And, like I said, she was too smart to be taken in by a shark, who would surely try to lure her to its dinner table as the main course.

Anyway, my sandbox was way bigger than it needed to be. But, there was a lot of sand, and I figured it belonged to me. Then I realized it was too big to qualify as a “box.” So, I just filled the useless wheelbarrow with sand, scooping up the sand with my hands. Once I filled it, I didn’t know what to do with it. So, I sat in it and pretended I was a cat in a litter box. I was meowing joyfully when I was answered back. There was a cat sitting at the jungle’s edge. He said: “I’ve been watching you and you’re a total dipshit. Those sharks won’t eat you. Use that old “tennis net to catch some sardines, and make sure to share with me.”

It worked! Fresh sardine sushi is quite delicious. I named the cat Friday and we had a great time. He helped me build a shelter out of palm fronds and the remains of my hang glider. He also showed me how to start a fire with friction. Then, he disappeared one morning and never came back. The next day I was rescued by a fishing boat named Friday—was it just a coincidence?

I spent two years on that island. People tell me I must’ve been delirious talking to sharks and a cat. I probably was. But, I think my delirium was functional. It saved my life. At least, I think it did. But really, I think it was Friday’s chiding—making me get off my ass and take care of myself.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Anadiplosis

Anadiplosis (an’-a-di-plo’-sis): The repetition of the last word (or phrase) from the previous line, clause, or sentence at the beginning of the next. Often combined with climax.


There was a special T-shirt I wanted to wear. I wanted to wear it everywhere. I had made it on the internet. It cost $18.00. It had a picture of my cat Furballerina (“Furball” for short) on it. She was a cross between a Persian cat, and possibly, a toy cougar.

There was a contest being run by the Generic Cat Food Company to find a cat-model. The cat-model’s owner would receive $100,000 and the cat’s picture would appear on all their products. There would also be a brief video of the cat eating some dry Generic Cat Food. That’s where the t-shirts come in. In addition to Furballerina’s picture with her name under it, the t-shirts say “Vote for me for Generic’s cat model 1-800-CAT-FOOD.”

I had 100 t-shirts made. I decided to hand them out in the Piggly Wiggly supermarket pet food section. When somebody would walk up, I’d holdup a t-shirt and say “Here’s a free t-shirt, vote for Furballerina.”

Then, I couldn’t believe what happened next!

An elderly woman pointed at Furballerina’s picture. She said, “That’s my cat Fluffy. We’ve been friends forever. I let her out in the morning and she comes home at six. She sits on my lap and we watch “Magnum PI” and go to bed at 8:00 pm without fail. You are trying to steal my cat so you can win some stupid contest. To quiet her down, I told the elderly woman I was an AARP detective. I told her I was investigating cat scams—everything from bogus flea collars to counterfeit scratching posts. I figured we could just keep on the way had been, sharing the cat. She didn’t need to know about that—she could go on believing that Fluffy was hers and hers alone. Hers alone, just like the “forever” she had referred to.

I thought I was out of the woods until she asked to see my AARP credentials. That did it! I bundled up my t-shirts, hugging them close to my chest, as I ran toward the doors and my escape through the parking lot. “Wait sonny” she yelled “I was just kiddin’ you.” I stopped and turned. She said, “I hate cats, I have a little Cockerpoo named CP that I adore.” I remembered my grandmother’s Cockerpoo named Rags. Such a nice little dog. They watched “Matlock” together, and “Ironsides” too.

I walked toward the parking lot. Why do I want Furballerina to win the contest? Why couldn’t I just enjoy her company instead of wanting to exploit her beauty and demeanor? I would turn the t-shirts into dust cloths. I was taking them out to the garden shed when I looked in my neighbor’s window. There was my neighbor carrying Furballerina and petting her. I went to my neighbor’s front door to demand my cat back. He said “This is my cat. She’s been living here for the past five years. Where have you been numb-nuts?” Furballerina didn’t even look at me. I was dashed. Then, around 11:00, I was in bed reading Eric Fromm’s Art of Love then there was a light scratching on my bedroom door. I opened the door and Furballerina dashed in, jumped up on my bed, and started purring. I got back in bed and she curled up against my leg. I thought to myself, thank God for cat flaps.

Furballerina wasn’t mine, but at least I was hers.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Anamnesis

Anamnesis (an’-am-nee’-sis): Calling to memory past matters. More specifically, citing a past author [apparently] from memory. Anamnesis helps to establish ethos [credibility], since it conveys the idea that the speaker is knowledgeable of the received wisdom from the past.


“I won’t say ours was a tough school, but we had our own coroner. We used to write essays like: What I’m going to be if I grow up.” Lenny Bruce never imagined how this joke would resonate with the horrors of the 21st century’s mass school shootings. But, even in the 1950s kids were shooting each other in school. For example, “March 4, 1958, A 17-year-old student shot the future major league baseball player Joe Pepitone (who was also 17 years old at the time) through his stomach at the Manual Training High School.”

If you go to “List of School Shootings” it is startling to see how long school shootings have been going on and how little has been done over the course of history to prevent them. Just now, with the hellish gruesomeness of mass shootings, does it seem that measures are starting to be taken. But, of course, for the murdered and the survivors, it is too late.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu). Gorgias has inserted the bracketed words [apparently] and [credibility].

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Anaphora

Anaphora (an-aph’-o-ra): Repetition of the same word or group of words at the beginning of successive clauses, sentences, or lines.


I had no bootstraps. No ace in the hole. No pease porridge hot. No tale to be told. The ice of old age had settled on my heart. I was cold and lonely and losing heart. My eyes reflected the beautiful lazuli sky, blurred by time, I thought I would die—die on the sidewalk, die in the street, die of foolishness, stupidity and regret on an island of greediness flooded with pain. Flooded with the challenges of being alone. Flooded with a desire to stop the misery.

I awoke on the sidewalk and I looked at you. Covered with fur and a bushy tail too. Excuse me for saying it, but I was so hungry I could’ve eaten you. But, I had no means to whack you down or fry you up in a frying pan. But I could never catch you anyway. So, I just watched you nibble on an acorn, and go digging for more. Then, like some 19th century horror tale, you said “ You are not doomed to fail. Come, I’ll teach you to find acorns. They’re buried everywhere.” “Same old crap,” I thought. “I’m rolling into the DTs.” Last week it had been a pigeon “bearing tidings of comfort and joy.” The worst was the Rottweiler standing on my chest, telling me to get the “F” up and do the hokey pokey. I have no idea how I can remember this shit, but I do. I needed to put my pan handle on so I could buy a half-pint of Mr. Boston and check back out of this world again. The first guy I hit up gave me a dollar—there must a holiday nearby, I thought as I stuffed the dollar bill down my pants. Then, I saw a policeman coming my way. I tried to run, but my feet stuck to the sidewalk. When he got up to me, he pulled out his gun and started shooting me. I felt nothing. He shot me fifteen times and said “This is just a friendly warning. Keep up this bullshit and next time I’ll stick a hand grenade up your ass.” The squirrel started laughing. He said, “Open wide” and threw an acorn at me. It got stuck in my eye socket. I yelled “Help! The squirrel has blinded me!”

An ambulance arrived and took me away. The acorn was successfully removed and my eyesight was restored. I was at a public detox facility where all they could afford to do was strap you to a bed and check on you every few days. I had lost weight and my head was starting clear. I started remembering. The more I remembered, the more I wanted a drink. I was so burdened by guilt I thought my bed would collapse. I had killed my family in a car crash on the way to my mother-in-law’s in New Jersey. I lifted my head from my pillow and my wife and daughter were standing there. “But you’re dead!” I yelled. “No we’re not you silly boy,” my wife calmly said. “Here’s a knife. I’ll cut your restraints.” I was free! We were walking toward the facility’s exit when an orderly yelled at me “Where do you think you’re going?” “Home with my wife and daughter.” I went to point at them, but they had disappeared.

I needed a drink.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Anapodoton

Anapodoton (an’-a-po’-do-ton): A figure in which a main clause is suggested by the introduction of a subordinate clause, but that main clause never occurs.

Anapodoton is a kind of anacoluthon, since grammatical expectations are interrupted. If the expression trails off, leaving the subordinate clause incomplete, this is sometimes more specifically called anantapodoton. Anapodoton has also named what occurs when a main clause is omitted because the speaker interrupts himself/herself to revise the thought, leaving the initial clause grammatically unresolved but making use of it nonetheless by recasting its content into a new, grammatically complete sentence.


Things were bad enough. But when it started to boil. . . . I heard the door open. It was crazy Ted, my identical twin. He insisted that we dress alike. I did what he told me because, even though I had developed some strategies, I remembered what he did to “insubordinates.” He had strangled my pet chicken “Cluck” when she failed to lay an Easter egg on demand. As the years went by, he wanted me to wear a balaclava all the time like he did—he wanted us to be known as “Dos Criminales” and “Strike terror into the hearts and minds of our neighbors.” I refused and he went crazy for the rest of the day, shaking his fist and yelling “You will die at dawn traitor.” He put chewing gum in my hair and lit my bicycle on fire, which wasn’t easy. I told our parents and Dad looked up from the puzzle he was working on and said, “Don’t worry, he is just sowing his spring oats.” I told my Dad it was actually “wild oats.” Dad mumbled into his puzzle, “Oats are oats” and I went back to think about a defense strategy that would enable me to tell my brother “No.” I figured the best strategy was to become a sprinter and run like hall after telling him “No.” I tried out for the high school track team specializing in the 100-yard dash. Whenever I was going to say “No” to my twin, I crouched down like I was at the track and field starting blocks. I’d say “No” and launch off the imaginary starting blocks. It didn’t work too well inside the house, but I would open the front door to facilitate my getaway.

Ted’s recent return to my life was unsettling. Even after 3 years in prison for lighting his boss’s house on fire and kidnapping his daughter, Ted was still the same remorseless psychopath. I thought it was just a matter of time before he murdered me. Then, a stray cat came into our lives. At first, Ted wanted to run it over in the driveway. Then, it rubbed against his leg and purred. Ted was captivated. He picked up the cat, petted it and scratched it behind the ears. Ted was a changed man. He bought a flea collar and named the cat “Cardinal” because it was “a religious blessing.” That was a little troublesome, but at that point I was open to anything. Ted plays with Cardinal with a piece of string and has taught him to roll over, play dead, and jump through a hula hoop. Ted puts on little shows for the neighborhood kids.

Maybe the cat was a religious blessing, but I still thought that Ted would murder me when he got tired of Cardinal. We had a few close calls, but nothing fatal. The incident with the drill was almost too close for comfort. Right now I hear an idling chainsaw outside my door. I yell “Think of Cardinal” and the sound starts moving away, down the hall.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Anastrophe

Anastrophe (an-as’-tro-phee): Departure from normal word order for the sake of emphasis. Anastrophe is most often a synonym for hyperbaton, but is occasionally referred to as a more specific instance of hyperbaton: the changing of the position of only a single word.


We was a hole digging. Digging to time’s end. Digging down far. Digging. Digging. Digging. Digging ground-hog like. Digging fast. Digging slow. Tossing dirt. Tossing stones. Digging with hope. Digging like maniacs. Digging for what was below.

We are a club—a tightly knit group of detectorists. We look for treasure left behind by Vikings, or Romans, or robbers. We formed five years ago. Our clubhouse is a pub outside of Oxford called “The Perching Titmouse.” Some of us are retirees using our leisure time. The younger working members come out on Saturdays and Sundays, sometimes leaving crying babies behind. Our divorce rate is high. We call ourselves “The Merry Runes” after the mysterious symbol-inscribed, possibly magical, Viking stones.

To date, we have found nothing ancient or very valuable with our metal detectors. The most amazing thing we found was a 1948 Sunbeam-Talbot 90 buried on a derelict cricket pitch. The car had turned to rust flakes and was worthless, but exciting to unearth. We were able to identify it by the serial number inscribed on the engine block. It had disappeared in 1949 along with its owner Reginald Burke. “Reggie” was a stickup man who specialized in fishmongers and “Necktie men”—men who sold neckties on street corners—mostly veterans injured in the war. We considered digging near the Sunbeam, looking for Reggie, but decided not to. We decided to let sleeping thieves lie—the paperwork for the Sunbeam was bad enough, but for a human, we’d probably be filling out paperwork for the rest of our lives.

So anyway, now we’re digging for gold! We seem to have detected a horde about six feet down, about 1/4 of a mile from the Sunbeam. We decided if we found Reggie, we’d leave him there and go home. But it seemed he left some treasure behind before he disappeared.

We were taking turns digging—silently, brimming with anticipation. My shovel hit metal with a dull thunk! My hands were shaking as I cleared the dirt from what I had struck with my shovel. “It’s a gold bar!” I yelled. I raised it over my head dancing around in the hole. My fellow club members were whooping and jumping around.

All of a sudden somebody yelled “Hold on chaps! That belongs to me, I am Reginald’s grandson.” He was holding a gun. “My grandfather stole that gold bar fair and square and then he disappeared. When you found his car, I knew it would only be a matter of time before you found the gold bar. Hand it over!” I handed it over, right on top of his head. When he went down, his gun went off and barely missed my foot, but he was flat on the ground. We threw him in the hole along with his gun, covered him with dirt and took off for “The Perching Titmouse” to celebrate our find with a couple of rounds of lagers, and to figure out how to make the gold into cash without drawing any attention.

Anesis

Anesis (an’-e-sis): Adding a concluding sentence that diminishes the effect of what has been said previously. The opposite of epitasis.


“That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind” I thought as I stepped over the hefty dog bomb on the park’s sidewalk. The quotation from Neal Armstrong didn’t quite fit, but I thought it was close enough to assuage my anger and disgust. The dog that dropped the bomb must’ve been the size of a Shetland pony. That’s when I came up with my plan.

I applied for a grant from the NEH to study the effects super hero costumes on influencing unwanted public behavior. In my case, it was to reduce the incidence of dog bombs on the park’s sidewalks. I had formed the basis of my idea from reading comic books—most significantly, Batman, Superman and Green Lantern. The NEH granted me $55.00. I was grateful. My mother would sew my costume. It was made of Lycra so it wasn’t easy to put together. I wracked my brain to come up with a design. Finally, I settled on a big dog poop—I would be a two-legged doggy-dooley the color of “k-9 Natural,” probably the most expensive dog food in the world. I had a sculptor friend make a realistic looking pile of doo-doo in a plastic bag affixed to a bicycle helmet with “DOO-DEVIL” emblazoned on the front. I was ready to go.

I went to the park and hid behind a giant oak tree by the sidewalk. An elderly woman came walking by. She Stopped and her Chihuahua started to go. He finished his business and they started walking away without picking up the poop. I jumped out from behind the tree and shouted “I am the DOO-DEVIL! Here is a plastic bag. Pick up the poop!” She looked at me, terrified. She fell to the pavement dead.

NEH pulled my funding and the police confiscated my DOO-DEVIL costume and helmet for “further examination.” They returned it the next day.

I have become a celebrity. I am enjoying the notoriety. I will be wearing my DOO-DEVIL costume and helmet on Fox News tonight. I’ve got a concealed piece of fresh dog poop that I am planning on smearing on Tucker Carlson’s face.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.edu.byu)

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Antanaclasis

Antanaclasis (an’-ta-na-cla’-sis): The repetition of a word or phrase whose meaning changes in the second instance.


I wasn’t feeling well. It was like I’d fallen down a wishing well and crash-landed in one foot of water. I had been up all night trying to do my incomes taxes and submit them by today. It should’ve so easy. I had purchased “Turbine Taxes” to do my taxes. On the site it sys “Get your taxes done, and go have fun! $1.00.” Every time I tried to submit my taxes, I got an error message from the IRS saying “Alert! your tax preparation software is part of a plot to overthrow the United States of America.” I didn’t believe it and resubmitted five or six times. It had to be a hoax.

Suddenly there was a pounding on my door and it flew open with the help of a battering ram. “Up against wall subversive scum!” a guy in black with a gas mask on and a MAC-10 pointed at my head yelled. He pointed at my laptop computer and yelled “We are confiscating your little tool of treason and treachery.” “But my taxes aren’t done yet” I said, my voice cracking. “What, are you trying to be funny, wise guy?” he said, tasering me in the neck and stomping on my foot. I passed out for a second and fell to the floor temporarily paralyzed. I could hear them talking as they pretty much packed up my entire house—furniture, carpets, washer-dryer—pretty much everything.

I heard one of them say “‘Turbine Taxes’ rock! This has got be the most sophisticated technologically advanced computer scam ever perpetrated!” I was slowly regaining consciousness. These guys were crooks, not government agents. I was blind-ass angry. I had a loaded Glock in my desk. If I could get my hands on it, I could shoot the shit out of all five of them. Then, I realized they were wearing bullet proof vests. It would have to be head shots. I didn’t know whether I could do it. Then, my cat Worthless started hissing and yowling in the back bedroom. He sounded like a police siren. The robbing bastards yelled “Shit” and ran out the back door empty handed. One of them dropped his weapon! I crawled and grabbed it, got to the back door and pulled the trigger. It went “click.” It wasn’t loaded. The marauders were fake, although the Taser had done a number on me.

I bought Worthless a genuine diamond-studded collar (which he immediately pulled off), a five-pound bag of catnip, an aquarium where he could fish for tropical fish, and a heated kitty bed I knew he would never use. I’d always thought of Worthless as this “thing” who would steal my place on the couch, jump up on my bed at 3:00 am, and puke on the carpet every couple of months. Boy, was I wrong. Worthless had saved our home. I changed his name to Claws.


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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

Antanagoge

Antanagoge (an’-ta-na’-go-gee): Putting a positive spin on something that is nevertheless acknowledged to be negative or difficult.


Life is hard. But it’s life. It is better than death. At least that’s what I think sitting here in my big comfy chair with my remote control in one hand and a martini in the other and a full pack of Marlboro 27s on the end table waiting to be smoked. So, what’s hard about this? I’ll tell you: eventually, I’ll have to pull a “Hungry Wolf” TV dinner out of the freezer, read the microwave instructions, and put the damn thing in the microwave. Inevitably, part of the crust is still frozen when I pull it out. So, I have to shove it in for another minute. Then, the unfrozen part gets burned. What a pain in the ass! There’s just so much about making dinner that’s a pain in the ass—that makes it harder than hell just to eat. There’s a lot of other things too.

I have to drag my garbage cans to the street. Why the hell don’t the garbage haulers drive down my driveway and pick my garbage cans up? Same with my mail—up the driveway I go to get it. What the hell is the mail slot on my door for? Jehovah’s Witnesses” pamphlets? I know I’m going to hell—I don’t need a reminder from them. Then, there’s my job.

It’s not very much better than death. I am a professional birthday clown. My stage name Jabber Warble. I wear a baggy red and green striped costume, a blonde wig, and a big red nose. I don’t wear giant shoes. I think they are ridiculous.

I specialize in balloon tricks—winding up hot dog shaped balloons into animals. I specialize in 8-10 year olds: smelly little imps. I do mostly Dachshunds. I bark with a German accent and the kids love it. My most challenging balloon twist is the hot dog on a bun. It takes two balloons. Often the hotdog won’t fit in the bun laying down, so I have to ad lib. For example, I stick the hot dog in the bun at a perpendicular angle and make it fit. I tell the kids it’s a sail boat, but some of the mothers have told me it reminds them of something else that we could talk about after everybody goes home and their husband and kid have gone to the movies or somewhere else. It is really hard saying “No.” But, I need to maintain my spotless reputation. Once, a mother followed me home. She walked in the door and dropped her raincoat on the floor. She was naked underneath. She came toward insisting that I bark with the German accent. I strained my vocal chords barking. It was scary, and that’s what makes my job hell.

Anyway, life is hard, but it beats the hell out of death, or a coma. What do you do in coma? You lay there surrounded by beeping hospital equipment and tubes in your arms monitoring your descent into death, or incremental return to being awake. I think it’s pretty bad to be in that situation, even if you come back to life. It is like trying to do your income taxes on April 14th with no computer, calculator, pencil, or forms, filing for an extension the next day, and buying a plane ticket to someplace you’ve never heard of, like Belarus.

Remember: life is hard, but it could be worse. No matter how hard it gets, just be glad you’re not dead yet.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Antenantiosis

Antenantiosis (an’-ten-an’-ti-os’-is): See litotes. (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 you baby. You’ve been by my side though thick and thin, famine and feast, high and low, backward and forward, right and left, in and out, smooth and bumpy, rich and poor. Now, I have to add through marriage and divorce. It won’t be easy, but we’ve faced so many challenges together, and now, we can manage the Big D.

I know you didn’t see it coming. Stealth has been my catchword and the Sunset Motel has been my hideout. It has big-screen plasma TVs and room service: a hideout worthy of an adulterer with big ideas.

I’ve always had big ideas, but you never supported me—you scoffed. You drove me away. My portable potty would’ve made millions—an ice chest with a toilet seat. Or, what about the cat mop? A mop handle that you can affix to a cat and use to dust your tile and hardwood floors. You called it animal abuse and stupid. Or what about the floating baby carriage with a remote-controlled motor and steering mechanism. I managed to get a prototype built and our little Lucy had a real high seas adventure with the Coast Guard bringing her back to shore soaking wet, but unharmed! You hit me on the head repeatedly with a folding beach chair. You gave me a mild concussion and tried to convince me that I’m the biggest asshole in the universe. That hurt me more than the crack in my skull.

So, I’ve been seeing Janie the waitress from the Pancake House. We have been having lots of fun. Yesterday, we went for a sunset walk around the Best Buy parking lot. It is a huge parking lot, so we got some good exercise. Janie is so smart! She thinks my ideas are great and can’t wait to try my car registration window sticker scraper made from a cutlery-grade spatula with a razor sharp flipper. She’ll be the first to try it. We’re just waiting for her car’s registration to expire. We call it the “EZ-Scrape.”

Luckily, we sent Lucy to graduate school. Her doctoral dissertation, “Things Compared to Shit” won an award and she’s comfortably ensconced in a tenure track position at some Mid-Western University.

I’m going to burn the house down so you’ll be homeless after the divorce. I was thinking about right now. I’ve got a couple of cans of gasoline out in the car. I’m thinking of soaking all the furniture and throwing a stick match behind me as I go out the door and make my exit once and for all from your nanny negative nay-saying. I’ll pack my gym bag with some essentials. Then, I will fly like an eagle to the Pancake House.

POSTSCRIPT

He lit his house on fire and ran to the Pancake House to meet his true love Janie who he found in the back seat of a Cadillac, making in rock back and forth with a fat man with gray hair wearing a gold Rolex. He knew what he had to do. He pulled his “EZ-Scrape” prototype out of his gym bag, looked at his face in its mirror finish, opened the Cadillac’s back door and gave its razor-edge a test run that nobody in his small town would ever forget.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Anthimeria

Anthimeria (an-thi-mer’-i-a): Substitution of one part of speech for another (such as a noun used as a verb).


He was a real swinger. It was the 70s and that’s what everybody I knew wanted to be. A swinger. Which meant a cool, fun seeking, loose moraled fun seeker. It also meant they were open to a variety of sexual activities involving more than two people.

Eddie was an archetypal swinger. White disco suit with bell bottoms, swashbuckler shoes, big collared shirt unbuttoned halfway down, wide belt, and a pimp hat with a mirrored hat band and purple ostrich feather. Also, he wore three rings on each hand and a coke spoon hanging on a gold chain around his neck. Eddie made The Bee Gees look like 2-bit punks in comparison to him. He looked like he should’ve been the star of “Saturday Night Fever” instead of John Travolta.

While he could put on the clothes, and look the part, that’s as far as it went for Eddie. He couldn’t dance. He’d never snort coke. He couldn’t be cool. He was Halloweening. He was dressing up. It was all just a costume. He was off the rack. Then one night a real swinger invited Eddie to “do the dance” with him and his girlfriend. When the certified swinger said it, it was like it made Eddie’s purple plume stand up straight..

Eddie hiked his pants up and said “Ok man. Let’s make it happen, baby.” And off they went.

We had to bail Eddie out. He ended up “acting” in an adult film titled “Disco Swingers.” All the camera equipment was concealed behind the wall, shooting through a peephole. The police had somehow been tipped off and everybody was arrested. Eddie was completely freaked out. He dropped his swinger look and went back to jeans and a t-shirt. He was found not guilty due to being entrapped. After that, John Travolta got fat and the disco-swinger fad lost direction and died. Punk music emerged along with a certain FU sensibility. Johnny Rotten led the way and Eddie followed. He tore his blue-jean jacket, had a buzz cut on his head, wore safety pins in his newly pierced ears and motorcycle boots on his feet, had himself tattooed with the anarchy symbol, and frequently yelled “bollocks” at people for no reason. He sang the praises of “stickin’ it to the man.”

Now it’s the 21st century. Eddie claims he’s the oldest rapper on earth. He calls himself “Savage Tricky.” He does rap versions of doo-wop songs from the late 1950s to the early 1960s. “Blue Moon” is his signature song. He’s 72 years old and sits during his sets. He performs mainly at open mike clubs where “stinks” is the most frequently used adjective to describe his performances.

Don’t pity Eddie. He did this to himself.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).

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Anthypophora

Anthypophora (an’-thi-po’-phor-a): A figure of reasoning in which one asks and then immediately answers one’s own questions (or raises and then settles imaginary objections). Reasoning aloud. Anthypophora sometimes takes the form of asking the audience or one’s adversary what can be said on a matter, and thus can involve both anacoenosis and apostrophe.


That lady’s hat is huge, not to mention in poor taste. I know Easter’s around the corner, but an Easter basket hat is totally loony—no matter when it gets worn. Right now, it’s leaking jelly beans down the back of her neck and she’s oblivious. There goes a purple one and a pink one. The chocolate rabbit’s ear has a bite out of it.

What should I do? I’ll ask her to take it off when the movie starts. “Ma’m, can you please remove your hat before the movie starts?” Without turning, she shakes her head “No!” I ask again: “Please. I won’t be able see the movie.” It’s a big “No!” again. Should I report her to the manager?

The movie’s going to start in about 5 minutes. I run up the aisle to the manager’s office. He’s sitting inside at his desk. He’s wearing an Easter Basket hat! He told me the hats were an Easter weekend gimmick. He told me if I looked around the theatre I’d see 30 or 40 of them. I told him I only saw one, and it was blocking my view. Everybody else had removed theirs out of deference to the person behind them. He told me he’d give me a refund, or a ticket to another show. I told him there is no “other show.” It was my last chance to see a movie I had waited months to see. I was really mad! I was madder than hell!

The lights went down and I dashed back to my seat. The newsreel was starting. I asked the lady again to “Please” remove her hat. She vigorously shook her head “No” again. I was losing it. I considered strangling her—not good idea. I considered tearing off her hat and throwing it in the aisle—that was too easy. Then I remembered: my girlfriend had given me a Zippo lighter for my birthday. I pulled it out of my pocket and tried to light it so I could set the lady’s Easter hat ablaze. It wouldn’t light. I had forgotten to put fluid in it. Damn! I started kicking the seat from behind. The lady was rocking forward and backward. Finally, she turned and said, “Ok. You win. I will take it off, but my ears will get in your way. I hope you can live with that.”

It was the goddamn Easter Bunny sitting in front of me! To this day, I find it hard to believe it really happened. By the way, I got to see the movie and I enjoyed it. “Harvey” is about a wealthy drunk who starts having visions of a giant rabbit named Harvey.


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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Antimetabole

Antimetabole (an’-ti-me-ta’-bo-lee): Repetition of words, in successive clauses, in reverse grammatical order.


I read the book and the book read me. This sounds pretty stupid, and maybe it is. The book has no consciousness, no agency, no nothing. It’s just a paper rectangle binding together other paper rectangles (called pages), covered with words constituting grammatically-coded sentences, paragraphs, and chapters.

Books are written to be read. That’s how they read you: with surprise and suspense and plots and all the other well-travelled literary forms that read you and seduce you—that capture and keep your interest. And, as they help the text “ring true” they have woven their way into the text’s fabric of plausibility—no matter where or when it unfurls: prose, poetry, fact, fiction, whatever.

So, you decide to read a treatise on symbolic logic. You don’t understand it. You don’t like it. You take it back to the bookstore for a refund. The bookstore doesn’t give refunds. You go ballistic and throw the book at the proprietor. It hits him in the head and knocks him unconscious. Somebody calls 911. The paramedics put the proprietor on a stretcher and carry him out of the bookstore shaking their heads. The police handcuff you. You are placed in a cell. You can’t be bailed out because of your violent demeanor. You are sharing the cell with a suspected serial killer. During the night he tries to pull out your intestines with his bare hands. The guard tells him to shut up and go back to bed. The next morning you are taken to the psychiatric hospital for evaluation. They determine you are suffering from PTSD from when you were a lifeguard in charge of the kiddie pool at a high-end country club in the Hamptons. You were prescribed medication that made you slur your words. You were released from jail. You sounded drunk. You lost your job. They didn’t even give you a breathalyzer test before they kicked you you the front door and threw the plant from your desk after you.. You stagger home and dig your grandfather’s shotgun out of the back of the front hall closet. You load it with .00 buckshot.


My God! What the hell happened?

You were not the intended reader—that’s what happened—the book hadn’t read you. It had read somebody else. Books should be required to provide a brief description of who is supposed to read them so this kind of literary tragedy can be avoided.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

Buy a print edition of The Daily Trope! The print edition is entitled The Book of Tropes and is available on Amazon for $9.99.

Antimetathesis

Antimetathesis (an-ti-me-ta’-the-sis): Inversion of the members of an antithesis.


Bad and good. Good and bad. What a waste of time making these determinations when the passage of time sheds new light and bad is made good and good is made bad. These reversals bear witness to the contingency of what matters—now it is good, then it is bad. Everything is subject to shifting sensibilities or the ongoing revelation of “truth” by the researches of science as it sweeps away folklore and banishes myth to life’s sidelines along with poetry and fiction. But people may freely believe what their communities, friends and families believe, even if it entails their rejection of life-saving medicines or procedures, resulting in death. We saw it over and over during the COVID epidemic and from time to time in communities that don’t permit blood transfusions or surgeries.

When we observe what we think is crazy, ignorant, destructive behavior we may call it tragic or stupid or evil. And we may condemn these people when their children die and we may just shake our heads when adults are put on respirators and die shortly thereafter. But where there is agency there is error, and error may go all the way around the circle of people constructing a community, and choosing, choosing, choosing. Right now there are former US military personnel filing lawsuits for cancer contracted from burn pits. Then there was Agent Orange . . .

Every choice we make is motivated by faith—there is no other way to obtain the fate that choosing projects—the future does not exist now: it exists in the throes of hope and fear and imagination—no matter how quickly we go from the present to the future: You put your key in your car’s ignition. You turn it. The car starts. Your faith is fulfilled. But, there’s always a chance it may not be—possibly in a deserted parking lot on a below-zero night.

When good and bad trade places we are reminded of their contingency: they are subject to change and can transform into each other. The clearest case I can think of right now is marijuana’s legalization. When I was in high school in the mid-sixties, a person I knew was sent to prison for a year for possession of one marijuana seed. Now, it is legal to buy it at a store in the mall. I guess it was always true that it was harmless, but that didn’t keep people from seeing it as harmful, and acting on that view. Anyway, most of the time when we act, we expect a given consequence to be brought into being by the action, but there is always a gap between what we do and what happens, however tiny. There also may be a constellation of conflicting assertions about our motivations for a given action: pulling the trigger on a handgun and killing somebody can result in the imputation of a variety of motives, from a tragic accident, to self-defense, to first degree murder. Depending on the circumstances, decisions are made about “what happened” in order to determine what to do next. All I know is we need to be aware of the contingency of deeply rooted cultural norms and their susceptibility to change or preservation. Permanence, without human assistance, is an illusion.


Buy a print edition of The Daily Trope! The print edition is entitled The Book of Tropes and is available on Amazon for $9.99.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu).