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Synathroesmus (sin-ath-res’-mus): 1. The conglomeration of many words and expressions either with similar meaning (= synonymia) or not (= congeries). 2. A gathering together of things scattered throughout a speech (= accumulatio [:Bringing together various points made throughout a speech and presenting them again in a forceful, climactic way. A blend of summary and climax.])

What is my purpose for existing? Building? Constructing? Erecting? What would I build? What would I construct? What would I erect? Would it be noble edifices? Modest homes? Hot dog stands? Yes, hot dog stands! Yup. I build hot dog stands, big and small, with wagon wheels, plumbing, gas grills, bun warmers, condiment racks, napkin holders, red and white striped awnings, and souvenir key rings with my business info in printed on them, along with my logo—a smiling hot dog with ray-ban sunglasses and a king’s crown tilted to the side. His name is “King Red Hot,” and my business’s name is “Hot Dog Palaces.”

Every year there are hot dog stand races at the New York State Fair in Syracuse, NY: “The Weenie Stand Sweeps.” The only “stands” that are permitted are what are called 2-Holers—small stands that can be easily pushed—like push carts. They are souped up, with ball bearing rims and skinny tires, with bodies and awnings made from Kevlar, and all metal parts made from magnesium and capable of being filled with helium for added lightness. I had hired a long-distance runner, Lightfoot Abeba, from Ethiopia, who had won numerous marathons. He would by my “pusher.” The course at the fairgrounds was 1 mile. The “The Weenie Stand Sweeps” was two laps. While there were a few hot dog venders in the race, they had no chance of winning. It was the hot dog stand manufacturers that made up the bulk of competitors, with their souped up stands. Winning the race was what we all aspired to—but only one of us could win.

For as long as anybody could remember, “Bambi’s Big Stands,” had won the trophy. The current Bambi was the great-great-granddaughter of Bambi Number 1. Obviously, Bambi’s Big Stands had a secret. I was going to find out what it is. Countless others had failed. But I had a secret. Lightfoot had seen Bambi at an Ethiopian restaurant, “going full vegetarian.” I was going to blackmail Bambi—you can’t be a hot dog stand manufacturer and a vegetarian at the same time. It was tantamount to being a traitor! So I did it.

Crying, Bambi told me their racing pushcart had an electric motor. So, the driver, while he looked like was pushing, was actually holding onto the speeding pushcart. Being pulled along by it.

Bambi had betrayed her family and shattered 100 years tradition. The cheating ended and Hot Dog Palaces finally won the “Weenie Stand Sweeps.” We built a 6-foot high showcase for the trophy and placed in the entrance to our factory. But, then, there was Bambi. I told her if she started eating meat, I would hire her to show our stands at conventions, handing out brochures and key rings. She politely replied “No.” She had gotten a huge loan to open a factory making food stands for vegetarians. Her logo is a kernel of brown rice twirling two chopsticks like batons. The name of her business is “Nice Rice Rolling Stands.”

I love Bambi. Someday she will marry me.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Thaumasmus (thau-mas’-mus): To marvel at something rather than to state it in a matter of fact way.

I can’t believe, I’ll never believe what a good good dog I have. Why? Because he isn’t—he’s a late night barking, leg humping, crotch sniffing, jumping up, slobbering, farting, carpet scratching canine wasteland. I have to keep him because my sister gave him to me. He was a little puppy in a thing like an Easter basket with a red ribbon around his neck when she handed him over. He was so cute! I picked him up to hug him and he farted. It smelled like he had a corpse stuck in his butt that was marinating in rotten eggs. My sister said, “Aw that’s cute” as I swallowed hard to keep from puking.

My sister had spent the past five years as a Nun. She had started having visions, but when she realized it was the lenses in her glasses that needed updating and replacing, not visions per se, she left the Convent of the Rolling Stone and got a job handing out menus for Wee Wong’s Chinese Restaurant. Her area was the worst part of the city, but that’s where she found the puppy she gave me. It was curled up next to a homeless man napping on the pavement wearing sweatpants and an aloha shirt with pictures of fishing poles and leaping Marlin. He was wearing Dr. Scholes Corn Busters on his feet. My sister gave him a little nudge and he made a growling sound. She offered him 10 menus for the puppy. Before he could answer, she shoved the menus down his sweatpants and took off running with the puppy, who she named Menu to commemorate his liberation.

I didn’t actually hate Menu. Sometimes I almost liked him, like when he looked at me with his big brown eyes. But then, he would blow one of his signature farts and I would have to open the window and bomb the apartment with Glade. I had taken Menu to dog obedience training school—the best in the City: Proper Pups. Menu wouldn’t stop humping the instructor’s leg and barking, and she kicked us out. Not even a cattle prod could deter Menu. He was not, and never would be, a Proper Pup.

I took Menu to the Vet too, for his gas and slobbering problems. The Vet shook his head and told me me he could insert a removable charcoal filter in Menu’s butt, but I would have to change it once a week, or it would have to be surgically removed by the City’s hazmat team for $300.00. The slobbering was a different story. The Vet told me he could “stem” a number of Menu’s saliva glands using a newly developed Super Glue designed specifically for medical applications. It “only” cost $2,500.00 for the procedure. Both options were too expensive for me.

So, I was stuck, and like a lot of stuck people, I became inventive. I invented the remote controlled window—it went up and with the push of a button on a hand-held controller. I didn’t have to run around the apartment any more opening windows when Menu farted. I also invented a “Slobber Bucket” to catch Menu’s drippings. It is loosely based on the drool bucket I saw on TV when I was a kid. It hangs around Menu’s neck and has a special siren that goes off when it needs emptying. These two innovations make life with Menu nearly tolerable, and I’ve made millions off the remote control windows, but we’re still living in the apartment. Location, location, location. I live across the street from Hooters.

In my research I found out that Menu is actually a breed of dog: “The Drippinker Otcrotcher Schtinkmaken.” It is of Austrian origin and was originally bred in the late 19th-century to “cultivate and strengthen it’s owner’s Nordic virtues— the Stoic propensities necessary for living a lonely, detached, angst-ridden, and brooding life.” There are only 20 known Drippinker Otcrotcher Schtinkmakens left in the world. I don’t know who owns them, but there’s a good chance they are mentally unstable or victims of coercion.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Topographia (top-o-graf’-i-a): Description of a place. A kind of enargia [: {en-ar’-gi-a} generic name for a group of figures aiming at vivid, lively description].

The Willow Harp Mall. Who the hell named this place? Willow Harp? What. Where’s the harp. Ok, there’s giant 30 foot high plastic resin harp outside the mall entrance. It has speakers inside it that play “Over the Rainbow” over and over, non-stop, day and night. But that’s not all. There are flashing lights in the harp’s sound board that flash off and on in accord with “Over the Rainbow.” And then, there is a circle of scraggly plastic willows “planted” around the giant fake harp.

Once you got into the mall you had to deal with the slew of punks that gathered there in the summer when school was out. Give our town’s total lack of anything remotely interesting to punks, they were left with the mall. They gathered in clumps, some of them making out with each other, others sitting stupefied on the latest designer drugs, or blasting Rap music about killing each other. Once you waded through the teenage throng, you were faced with a material extravaganza—all of it for sale. As you push further into the shopping zone, away from the Rap, there is Muzak playing almost imperceptibly in the background. The music is designed to make people buy things on what seemed like an impulse. But it wasn’t. The Muzak was the result of carefully controlled psychological studies. It functioned subconsciously to prompt you to purchase unneeded things. It targets the brain’s acquisition center—the pecuniary cortex, while at the same time stimulating the brain’s Eros escalation channel. The result is nearly the same as falling in love, only in this case it made be in love with a refrigerator, or a soup ladle instead of a person. People would get home with bags of crap from the mall, not being able to account for their purchase, but, for example, feeling deep affection for the salt and pepper set they bought.

Anyway, my favorite part of the mall was the fountain. It had the same lighting scheme as the harp, but without the music. People would throw money in into it to help the homeless people occasionally wandered through the Mall, if they wanted to risk being arrested by the thugs who worked as mall security guards. What that meant was the fountain would fill with coins. I would go “fishing” the fountain and give the security guards 10% of my take. Accordingly, they left me alone as I cleaned out fountain each week. If anybody asked me what I was doing, I told them I was a “Coin Raker” for Salvation Army; that I went around to shoppings malls “collecting” for homeless and indigent individuals and families.

It was a “the greatest scam on earth.” That’s what the newspapers said when I got caught trying to run $5,000 worth of coins through the bank’s coin counter/wrapper. Some skinny guy with a bowtie asked me where I got a trunkful of wet coins. I told him it was none of his business. He called the police. I was dragging the trunk out the front door when the police showed up. I told them I had gotten the coins from under the water. Well, everything came out at the trial. I was found guilty of some obscure crime from a law written in 18th century to to curtail piracy and treasure burying. I was fined $74.00 and given two weeks of community service painting the judge’s house.

Well, anyway, the Mall is the Mall. You can shop there or ruin your life there.

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

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Traductio (tra-duk’-ti-o): Repeating the same word variously throughout a sentence or thought. Some authorities restrict traductio further to mean repeating the same word but with a different meaning (see ploce, antanaclasis, and diaphora), or in a different form (polyptoton). If the repeated word occurs in parallel fashion at the beginnings of phrases or clauses, it becomes anaphora; at the endings of phrases or clauses, epistrophe.

I was the Head—the Head of Heads at the bank. The hierarchy was strict. Money laundering was not to be taken lightly. As Head of Heads, I was the ahead of the other Heads. In a way, it was a mistake to call them Heads—they were actually Junior Assistant Heads, and they did what I told them to do. We had to go down to the docks today to pick up a cargo container of cash: $100,000,500. It was looted from the Bank of Syria during the latest round of warfare. Before we took it off-site we had to check it out. We drove it down to the boonies to open the doors. My Assistant Head headed over to the container, unlocked it, and opened the doors. The cash was stacked up against the far end of the cargo container.

The cargo container had been refitted as a mobile home. There were six guys playing poker and drinking beer by the entrance. There were five more guys playing video games on the 70” plasma screen TV. They all had guns. “Take us to your bank,” one of them said. So, we drove off to the bank like we always did, with the addition of human cargo. When we got to the bank, the container passengers rolled out their wheeled luggage and headed down the street singing “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” by Boy George. Later that week, I saw a poster on a telephone phone pole advertising “The Flying Damascus Bothers.” They were acrobats, but they were also the guys we had imported into the US along with a lifetime supply of cash. We had set up an account, as instructed, for Hama Hussein. So long as nobody started poking around, the money was clean, and I guess, the acrobats are safe. They performed on the “Apprentice.” They were fired by our future President. He said their “costumes made them look like girls, which was a disaster for acrobats who already were sissies.”

“The Flying Damascus Brothers” were outraged. They let the air out of Trump’s limo tires and sailed pieces of manakish at his head as he left the studio, and Trump slipped on a small piece of cheese and almost broke his back. Of course, the police were called. But “The Flying Damascus Brothers” escaped in their converted cargo container. They drove to Las Vegas and landed a huge contract with Cirque du Soleil. They changed their name to evade detection. Now, they call themselves “The Flying Denver Brothers.”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Abating: English term for anesis: adding a concluding sentence that diminishes the effect of what has been said previously. The opposite of epitasis (the addition of a concluding sentence that merely emphasizes what has already been stated. A kind of amplification).

The oak tree in our back yard was huge, but it wasn’t that big. My father told me that Abraham Lincoln planted it after he was sentenced to six months community service for chopping down a cherry tree in Norma Park, Clifton, New Jersey. He planted oak trees throughout North Jersey. They called him “Acorn Abe.” When he finished his sentence, he hitchhiked to Florida where he became one of the first professional alligator wrestlers—Alligator Abe. When he got a little older, he moved back up to New Jersey where he opened a successful guacamole stand—Abe’s El Paso Verde—on the boardwalk at Seaside Heights. There, he was called Avocado Abe. Then, one day he mistakenly shortchanged one of his customers. He rans after the customer and corrected the change. “You’re honest Abe.” “That’s it!” Abe exclaimed. “Honest Abe.” After all the stupid nicknames he had had, “Honest Abe” hit the bullseye. He thought maybe he could sell used carriages: Honest Abe’s Pre-Owned Buggies. He would make tons of money! Then, he got a telegram.

The family business in Illinois—Lincoln’s Leisure Lounge—had been raided and his Ma, Lucille Lincoln, had been jailed without bail. Honest Abe had to go home to take care of things. The first thing he did when he got there was to change the Leisure Lounge into a school for girls called the Honest Abe Academy. Abe taught lessons with a shovel and piece of coal as a blackboard. He taught English, Math, history and Rail-splitting. The Academy’s rail splitting team was the best in the state. The newspapers said “They could split more rails in ten minutes than a beaver on coca!”

The Governor of Illinois presented the annual rail-splitting award. it had been won by Honest Abe Academy every year. This year was no exception. As Coach, Abe received the award. As he handed him the award the Governor told Abe that he was destined for greatness and could win any office he ran for (except Governor). Honest Abe ran for Representative and won, and that was it. He was off and running.

Eventually, Honest Abe was elected President. His plan was to secede from the South and be done with slavery. The plan had originated in New York as the “Fuhgeddaboudit Manifesto.” However, before it could be enacted, the South started a war. The rest is history.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Abbaser [George] Puttenham’s English term for tapinosis. Also equivalent to meiosis: reference to something with a name disproportionately lesser than its nature (a kind of litotes: deliberate understatement, especially when expressing a thought by denying its opposite).

I had an uncle who spent his time “cutting things down to size.” He called the Empire State Building a pile of bricks blocking the sun. He called Mickey Mantle the “Stick Swinger.“ He called President Eisenhower “Spike” instead of “Ike.” He called his Ford his “Fraud.” He called his wife (my Aunt Betty) his “Strife.” He called Wisconsin (where we lived) The “Empire of Cheese.” The list of his “size cutting” names goes on forever—there are hundreds and hundreds of them.

I admired my Uncle, so tried my hand at “cutting things down to size.” My teacher, Mrs. Grinney, had bad breath. So, I started calling her “Boiled Brussels Sprouts Breath.” I tried to get it to catch on with my friends, but it didn’t and somebody told her. I got two weeks detention writing: “I will not make fun of people with bad breath.” So, I stopped making fun of people—“cutting them down to size.” My next target was my town’s municipal building, named after somebody named Dodge. It was where the police and fire stations were, along with the town court. It was a beautiful building made from pink granite. I called it “Dodge City” after the cowboy town where everybody was bad. Our town was notoriously corrupt. The police never arrested anybody unless they were poor. The firemen sat on their asses playing poker night and day. Their motto was “The fire truck wouldn’t start, and besides, I had a straight flush.” The town judge was married to the local Mafia Don’s sister. You can imagine how that played out.

I first used “Dodge City” in a speech I made to my English class. My fellow students didn’t know what I was talking about, but my teacher did. He made me stay after class and told me if I used “Dodge City” again, there would be dire consequences and they would go “Bang, bang, bang.” He was the Don’s brother.

So, I stopped cutting things down to size, and started writing poetry instead. My first poem “Under Hot Asphalt” won the “Up and Coming New Comer Coming Up” prize from “Marginal Notes” a very prestigious literary journal. It is the oldest continuously published journal of its kind, first published in 1590. Shakespeare had first sonnet published in “Marginal Notes” in the late 16th century. I’m so glad my teacher steered me away from cutting things down to size “bang, bang, bang.” I probably would’ve ended up like my Uncle, found in a landfill two days after he called the police chief, the “Police Thief.”

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

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Abecedarian (a-be-ce-da’-ri-an): An acrostic whose letters do not spell a word but follow the order (more or less) of the alphabet.

A big crow descended, eerily flying, going hurriedly into Joey’s Mangetout nursery. We went inside the greenhouse to find the Crow, but it had flown out the other end. His visit was short, but he had dropped off a newborn kitten, eyes still closed, on the soft dirt spaded around one of the bean plants. Crows had always been good to me. I loved them and my nickname was Crow. But anyway, now a Crow had delivered a newborn kitten. I asked my friend, “What’re the odds? I think they are incalculable.” Melanie told me to go ahead and take charge of the kitten—I was good at those kinds of things. As I drove the kitten home, I tried to think of a clever name for him. After running hundreds of names through my head, like Clipper, Felix, Mewbert, and Peter, I settled on Byron. I don’t know why. He hadn’t had a chance to display any characteristics to be named after. I guess I just liked Byron.

So, I bottle-fed Byron and cuddled him. He was short-haired and pure white with a remarkable marking on his forehead: a perfectly shaped black heart. As Byron grew, I trained him to walk on a leash. People would ooh and aah at his heart marking. One day I was walking along Canal Street with Byron. An elderly woman walking toward us stopped and suddenly yelled “Stop right there.” I recognized her from her picture on the flyers taped all over the neighborhood. She read tarot cards out of a small storefront. She was notoriously good at it, helping people deal with their destinies. She said: “Your cat is special.” Byron looked at her as she spoke. I asked “In what way is he special?” “You will find out,” she said, laughed, turned around, and walked away. We took the shortcut through the alley when suddenly a guy with a knife appeared out of nowhere. “Give it to me!” he yelled. I had no idea what he wanted. “Give me the cat or I’ll kill you!” I was stunned. Byron sprung into action. With a deep growl, he leapt at the robber’s head and clawed out one of his eyeballs. He dropped the knife, screamed, and fell to the ground sobbing for help. Byron and I walked away like nothing had happened. Byron’s tail was sticking straight up—a sign he was happy.

Then I got audited by the IRS. They let me bring Byron because I told them he was my comfort cat. We sat down and the agent started to speak: “We are concerned about . . .” And Byron started purring. The agent blinked his eyes shook his head and continued “the mistake we’ve made making you come in for an audit.” Byron purred. The agent continued: “In fact, the IRS owes you $60,000.” Byron purred. The agent continued: “whoops, my mistake, it’s $600,000. You should get a check in two weeks.” Byron looked at me and winked!

This sort of thing has been going for years now. Byron’s purr has some sort magical power. I often wonder where the crow had found him and why I had ended up ‘owning’ him. I don’t care if I ever find the answer. We are pals forever. We’re going to look at a new Maserati tomorrow.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Accismus (ak-iz’-mus): A feigned refusal of that which is earnestly desired.

After forty years, I finally got an award. I deserved it so much that I wanted to curse the awards committee for overlooking me all these years, and maybe hit one of them over the head with the little plaque—the size of a Hershey Bar. I expected to stick around for another 20 years, so I didn’t want to ruin my chances for another award, so I faked it, saying I didn’t deserve it and I couldn’t accept it. Professor Clap, a drama professor in the front row yelled “You’re damn right! I’ll come up there and get it Prof. Bullshit Slacker.” The audience applauded and hooted, and Clap started to get out of his seat. At that point Dean Rambling intervened. He yelled “Sit down Clap! The committee was unanimous in selecting Professor Duly for the college’s Nick Belgium Treadmill Award—for going nowhere, but never giving up. As we know, Mr. Belgium, our most distinguished alum, had inherited tremendous wealth and spent prolifically on crackpot schemes, most notably, the solar-powered banana peeler. Not one of his schemes succeeded, but he never gave up. Most people considered him an idiot, but he endowed the College’s Treadmill Award—which carries a $20.00 cash stipend, divided into 20 equal payments. He also endowed the Pyramid Chair in Economics which is currently held by Prof. Bagman, who, as everybody knows, now teaches via Zoom from Rahway State Prison in New Jersey. Now, shut the hell up.”

I shook hands with Dean Rambling and left auditorium to catcalls and wadded up paper thrown at me. When I got outside, I looked at my car. It was a rusted up piece of shit. I had never been able to afford a new car, but now that I was an award winning Professor, I went to “Stony Joe’s Used Wheels” out on Highway 61. I told Stony I had just won an award, so it was time to buy a car. I didn’t tell him about the meager stipend. He said, “I’ve got just the thing—super discounted for a sharp-looking guy like you.” He took me across the lot to a nearly new Cadillac parked about 20 feet off the lot. It had about 20-30 of those pine tree air fresheners hanging around the mirror. I opened the car door and it stunk of cherries—so oppressive that I could almost feel the smelly cherries in my nostrils. Stony told me the car had belonged to a rich nutcase named Belgium who had never succeeded at anything. He had sat in his running car in the garage with the door closed. He went the way of the angels 2 months ago. Accordingly, he sat in his garage decomposing for 2 months. The warm summer days helped turn him almost into liquid. If you want his nearly new Cadillac for $1,000, it’s yours. Just change the air fresheners once-a-week—cherry works best.”

I thought “Oh the irony.” I bought Belgium’s Cadillac. I religiously changed the air fresheners and learned to like their smell. My colleagues at Aaron Burr College like my smell. I have found that this is a key to earning their respect, that, and owning a nearly new Cadillac. I am eligible for the Gerber “Spoon Fed Teaching Award” this year. It is awarded to “the faulty member who consistently adjusts their standards to assure a minimum grade of “B” for all their students.” I’ve had my eyes on this award for years. I’ve gone the extra mile by ensuring a B+ for all of my students in my signature philosophy course: “Life is a Bowl of Cherries.”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Acervatio (ak-er-va’-ti-o): Latin term Quintilian employs for both asyndeton (acervatio dissoluta: a loose heap) and polysyndeton (acervatio iuncta:a conjoined heap).

Sunrise. Sunset. Mid-afternoon, 3:00 a.m. We look at the clock and we look at our watch, and everything is encompassed by time, and there is early, and there is late, and there is right on time—timeless, timely. The variations on time indicate it’s ubiquity. It passes. What does it mean?

It means we are finite beings aware of life’s eventual end—another mark of time written across the surface of our soul. It is a blessing and a curse.

I new I had drifted onto a new life course when I lost my time consciousness after a near-fatal motorcycle accident in a dust storm near Mesa Verde in Colorado. It came out of nowhere. The wind was so strong it tilted my motorcycle to a 60 degree angle. My mouth was filled with grit and I could hardly see. I tried to straighten my motorcycle. It was stupid. My hand came off the handlebar and the front wheel lurched to the right. I crossed white line flew off the highway, hit a small boulder and flew over the handlebars. I was probably going around 35 mph by the time I flew off the motorcycle. The brake lever had caught me in the stomach. I was wearing only a T-shirt, so the lever punctured my skin and gave me a pretty good gash. When I came to, I saw I was bleeding pretty bad. I pushed off the motorcycle from on top of me and tried to stand up. I couldn’t—the pain was too much. I was going to die by the side of the road, in a dust storm, in Colorado. Then, there was no time, none, zero, zip. I had lost my sense of being there. The anxiety that always threaded it’s way through my life was gone. There was no memory, no hope, no consciousness, but a small voice wishing me well.

There was a trading post across the road from where I had crashed. I reawakened as I was being pulled across the road, laying on a beautiful Navajo blanket. I felt weak and passed out again. When I woke up there was a young Navajo woman sewing up my wound. There was some yellow cream she had smeared on it that totally removed the pain.

I healed really quickly, had my motorcycle repaired and resumed my journey to anywhere. Having lost my time-consciousness I was like a leaf in the wind. Then, I called my mother and landed back on the clock: “Where are you? When are you coming home?, Do you know how long it’s been since we heard from you?, School starts again in a couple of moths! Your little sister wants you home now!” It was like somebody stuck an air compressor in my ear and blew away the quality of life I had been given.

“Whoosh! Look at me, I’m being in time!”

Definitions courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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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.


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” (

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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” (

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

I had a “cheeseborer” for lunch. I called it that because it bored right through me. It was like a cheese and beef flash flood. When I ate one, I made sure to sit by the restroom door.

Despite the trouble they gave me, I ate them anyway. Their taste was irresistible. People who ate at Stamper’s would fight over the tables by the restroom door, knowing they were going to have a torrential emergency soon after finishing their BM Burger (what I called the Cheeseborer). I started thinking about other foods where taste, not a quick poop, was the incentive for eating it, regardless of corollary consequences. The only thing I could think of was confections. Committing tubby-cide by sitting on the couch eating Little Debbie cakes all day, every day. There are probably hundreds of other examples, but what is so compelling about the BM Burger, given the risk involved—the risk of crapping all over yourself in a public place?

Most people lead a pretty hum-drum existence. Seizing on the BM-Burger’s excellent flavor as an excuse, they eat one, knowing they will experience the thrill of running to the restroom—with preliminary gas leaking from their butt, and pulling down their pants in a primal struggle, with the image of not making it pressing on every part of their body, weighing it down with terror, terror that is an incentive to pump the legs and cry out with animal sounds upon reaching the toilet intact. In one melodious whoosh, it’s over. It’s like scoring a goal or throwing everything you’ve got in a wishing well. You have to flush three times to make it all go away and prepare the toilet for the next person.

Stamper’s is at the leading edge of the emergent sport of Toilet Dashing. It is mainly a man’s sport, but some women are involved too. I think it’s just another fad like Rubic’s Cube or bell bottom pants. On the other hand, it could be a matter of mass psychosis like the dancing mania that swept across Europe from the 14th to the 17th centuries. If it takes on the scale of dancing mania, Toilet Dashing could spell the end of civilization as we know it with towns and cities awash in excrement and people hobbling around with their pant half down.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Chronographia (chro-no-graph’-i-a): Vivid representation of a certain historical or recurring time (such as a season) to create an illusion of reality. A kind of enargia: [the] generic name for a group of figures aiming at vivid, lively description.

Bartender: “Happy Hour! What time is it boys and girls?

It’s Happy Hour! Drinks are half price! This is one of the last opportunities in the world to get what you pay for! Bottom shelf booze for what it’s worth!“

Me: “Bartender! Give me 3 shots of vodka and a “Big Beer.” I’m ready to get shitfaced. Here’s my driver’s license. All in good order. Although I don’t look it, I’m fifty-four. I’m from Florida. Let’s go!”

Bartender: “Here you go son! As long as you can ask, I’ll keep ‘em coming. This is the bar where Knucky Mayhem got his start, betting on himself in bar fights. Some would last an hour before some wimp would call the police. He never killed anybody, but happy hour was when he let loose. Just before happy hour ended he would insult somebody roughly his size and punch them on the shoulder. Then, things would roll. The longest fight was 2 hours—a grueling bloody, smelly, grunting thriller. It was almost Knucky’s downfall. Knucky’s opponent was sent in by the Mob to win a little cash. The Mob’s boy was a professional boxer named “Rocky Barcelona.” He kicked Knucky’s ass up and down this very floor. Knucky lost a grand that night, but he didn’t give up on barroom fighting. Last we heard, he was kicking ass at “Billy Bob’s” in Dallas, Texas.”

Suddenly the barroom door squeaked open. There was Knucky standing there. He had a patch over one eye and you could tell he was wearing an adult diaper under his black sweat pants. He had on a white T-shirt with “KNUCKY” printed on it. When he walked toward the bar, you could hear his joints click and squeak. He had a briefcase. He put it on the bar and opened it. It was filled with hundred dollar bills.

Knucky: “There’s 500 grand in there. Somebody put up a hundred against my 500 grand, and we’ll have at it for the dough.”

Me: His voice was slurred like he was brain-damaged and his body was a wreck. I had just been paid at Bartelli’s Deli. It was a cinch. I was the first to volunteer, so I got the fight. Knucky tossed his cane away and pulled off the eye patch. His joints stopped making noises. He patted his diaper and yelled “Empty!” He stepped into the light. He looked 18.

Knucky: “Do you believe in ghosts?” You better believe in this one,” he growled as he punched me between the eyes, sunk his fist in my solar plexus like a jackhammer, and pounded on my kidneys like he was making dough.

Me: I woke up on my bedroom floor. My nose was bleeding and I hurt all over. Knucky was hovering over me.

Knucky: “Don’t worry chump, you’re dreaming. This is my eternal fate. Get up off the damn floor and get back to bed.”

Me: When I got up, I felt no pain, there was no bleeding, and Knucky had disappeared. I Googled him the next day and discovered he was dead, killed fighting in Panama. It was rumored that he “haunted” bars looking for fights, putting incredible odds on a half-million dollars to suck somebody into fighting him.

I had been sucked in! I would never fight again.

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

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Ellipsis (el-lip’-sis): Omission of a word or short phrase easily understood in context.

There was a lot that was left undone—I wasn’t over the rainbow, the rainbow was over me. That’s the way the cookie crumbles. If I could follow a train of thought, maybe I could get off at the right stop instead of . . . Oh well. The premonition is up ahead. Why do I spend my time considering what will be instead of vesting my interest in what is real, what is tangible, what is here, what has three dimensions, what I can eat for lunch, what I can kick?

I bought a crystal ball at a garage sale: It came with instructions: stare at it until you see something materialize behind the glass. So far, I had seen my hand and a dirty coffee mug sitting on my kitchen table. Then, I saw the face of somebody who looked vaguely like me. He had a lightbulb tattooed on his forehead and Yin Yangs tattooed on his eyelids. His mouth was sewn shut like a shrunken head. He was bouncing up and down and I could hear “Mph, Mph, Gaaa” coming out of the crystal ball. This was the most eventful thing that had ever happened in my life. I was terrified and elated. I said (being dramatic) “Oh yon demon of the ball, how can I help you?” He nodded yes, which did not answer my question. Then, he emphatically wiggled his lips back and forth. I understood immediately: he wanted me to liberate his lips, so he could talk to me and answer my questions about the future, and help me make some money! He tilted his head down and looked toward his sewn up lips. I touched the crystal ball and my hand went into it like it was water. I grabbed the stitches and pulled, like when I opened the bag of birdseed from Agway, and “zip,” the string came loose, and “zip” his lips were freed!

He said, “Let me make sure. You speak English, right?” “Right,” I said. He told me his name was Nick Samaras. I told him my name was Larry Bort, and that I worked for Amazon as a package packer, but I wanted to be a fortune teller, mainly my own fortune, but other people’s too. Nick told me what I had was not a fortunetelling crystal ball, but rather, it was a magical bowling ball. If I said “Let’s roll” to it, it would turn into a bowling ball that would ensure perfect games every time. In a way, it’s guaranteed winning was like telling the future.

What else could I do? I became a professional bowler and made a lot of money. I can’t say I made a fortune—the payouts for bowling tournaments are pretty skimpy. Me and Nick would talk every once-in-awhile. His life story is complicated, as you can imagine. He was born thousands of years ago in Athens, Greece. He was a wealthy goldsmith. He kidnapped a sorcerer’s daughter and married her. The sorcerer put the bowling ball spell on him, intending the ball to be a weapon dropped on people’s heads, along with hot tar, from ramparts.

Then, the worst thing happened. My nephew was staying with me while my sister went on a marriage retreat. I had left Nick on the coffee table on his stand, in his bowling ball guise. My nephew picked him up and put it on his head. My nephew’s head traded places with Nick’s head. I was screwed. Nick said “My God, I never knew.” The bowling ball was silent. I touched it, and said “let’s roll” and it cleared, and it was empty. No nephew. Nick wouldn’t shut up or stop eating. I bought us plane tickets to Athens, where I stupidly hoped that my Nick-headed nephew would figure something out. I was tired of hiding from my sister. As soon as our passports arrived, we took off. Nick disappeared as soon as we cleared passport control. I made the mistake of telling my story to the authorities. Now, I’m handcuffed to a bed waiting to hear what they’re going to do with me. My sister has threatened to have me extradited and arrested for kidnapping. Then, I thought I saw Nick and my nephew looking through the window of my room’s door.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

A: Something smells. Do you get it? Do you smell it? I think it may be somebody right here in the room, and it isn’t me. Hmmm. There are only the two of us here in the room. I don’t smell. I know for sure. I’ve been using specially scented soap that masks all human odors. It’s called “Erasure.” After using it, my dog does not recognize me and barks incessantly. He bit me on the ankle yesterday, so I can assure you that my Barbara-body-smell is gone. If I smell at all, it’s like the Arctic wind that blows through here in January. You might want to consider adopting my dog, Curly. He won’t bite you if you keep your usual body smell, if it is acceptable to family and friends (which it probably isn’t—I have talked to your mother). Anyway, another source of repugnant odor is the mouth—wooo—can it stink, or what? I used “Mask” toothpaste and “Odor Burner” mouthwash this morning, and last night too. My breath smells like bottled water in a glass container.

Next, is diet. This is very simple: stop eating beans and cabbage. We have it on good authority that it was not an apple eaten by Eve in the Garden of Eden. Rather, it was a bean and cabbage casserole cooked by Old Nick himself and left steaming on a picnic table under an apple tree with a bowl and spoon, with a folded paper napkin alongside. Eve dug in and we know the rest. She brought the woe of farting to Humankind, and clothing became mandatory to help filter the smell, deaden the sound, and assuage the shame. The Fart is Satan’s voice—it feels good to blow one, but it destroys social harmony by inducing revulsion, anger, unwarranted finger pointing, and fleeing from hearth and home.

The most import measure you can take to achieve perfect odor control is anus emissions monitoring and adjustment (AEMAA). As you know, the anus emits farts, and farts smell. You can purchase and take “Gas-B-Gone” tablets. They are an excellent help, but every once-in-awhile a fart will squeak out, no matter how careful you are regularly taking the recommended doseage . You need a back-up plan. One thing you can do is sphincter control exercises. A well-controlled sphincter will allow you time to relocate—perhaps outdoors—before you relax it and let the wind blow harmlessly into the great outdoors. I have written a book titled “Sphincter Control, Mental Health, and Social Responsibility.” The book is an in-depth study of the sphinctural mechanism. It includes exercises you can use to cultivate your sphincter’s place across a spectrum of life-enriching potentialities specifically addressing the dysfunctional mind-body dualism engendered by seeing the sphincter as separate from the mind, and vice versa. The aim is to take a holistic approach, overcoming the mind/sphincter opposition so there is a seamless singularity: mind is sphincter/sphincter is mind. Now YOU, Mr./Ms. Mindsphincter, are ready to utilize your new incarnation in accord with ideals of human happiness, to reduce the world’s stink and transform it into the Breath of Venus.

So, I’ve taken you on extended voyage over the hills a valleys of human odor. Maybe, at this point you understand that I am disclosing this important information to you for a reason beyond filling your head with crucial facts. What do you think?

B: I think you are crazy.

A: Well, ok, the truth is you smell. No! Actually, you stink.

B: You need help. I’m wearing the “Kamikaze Kologne” my grandmother gave me. If you don’t like it, buzz off sphincter girl.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Metallage (me-tal’-la-gee): When a word or phrase is treated as an object within another expression.

Bert: If you say “stairway to heaven” again, I don’t know what I am going to do. Every other thing you see is a stairway to heaven. How can a used car lot be a stairway to heaven, or the CVS parking lot, or the two trash cans in my garage, or my fishing pole—I can sort of see it as a stairway to heaven, but not the rest of the stuff. Some people say “like” or “man” or “far out” a lot, but they’re just stuck in the sixties with bell-bottoms and platform shoes—creatures of an epoch carrying their pot-infused culture into the 21st century, trying to preserve “the dream.”

You, on the other hand are tangled up alone in a Led Zepplin wonderland borne on your junior prom, when your first dance ever in your life—a dance with Valletta Berge—was to Led Zepplin’s “Stairway to Heaven.” You’re 28 years old now—28 for Christ’s sake. Valletta is a single mom with 8 kids. Just like you and me, she never left town. I know you know, but I’ll tell you again anyway: Valletta lives with her 8 kids out by the railroad tracks in the derelict train station that was abandoned when the new one was built 5 years ago. She runs a day care center called “Ticket to Ride” at the station. The kids love it—riding their trikes around and playing “Choo Choo” on the railroad tracks while Valletta talks on her cell phone. Maybe if you go and see her and dance again to “Stairway to Heaven” on Spotify, it will purge you of you hellish repetitive use of “Stairway to Heaven” to label just about everything you see and experience.

Earnie: I knew at least four of Valletta’s kids were mine: Spike, Ricky, Chester, and Chrissy. Bert was wrong about them living at the train station. They had been put up for adoption at birth, but I had named them anyway. Three of the remaining kids had the same fate. Only “Queen Helene” (named after the organic stick deodorant), was kept and raised by Valletta.

Valletta knew I was coming to the station—Bert had warned her. When I saw her, we could’ve been back at the junior prom. She was so beautiful. She was wearing a white goddess gown. Queen Helene held its train as Valletta moved slowly toward me. All the day care kids came inside and lined up in two parallel rows, with their hands raised above their heads. We met halfway between the children. I booted up “Stairway to Heaven” on my cell phone. We embraced and slowly danced, and the children made a circle, and we danced, slowly, passionately. Valletta yelled “Kiss me before I melt.” I kissed her and suddenly we were standing together on a jewel-encrusted golden staircase that reached through the train station’s roof. “This is the staircase to heaven!” I yelled over the music, which had become very very loud: “Let’s climb it!” Valletta said, “I can’t. After all the babies I’ve had, I’m in really shitty shape. You’ll have to go alone.” I was disappointed, but I started climbing anyway. Queen Helene swooped in out of nowhere and pushed me down the stairs. She yelled, “Fuck all of you!” as she ran up the Stairway to Heaven. She disappeared through the train station’s roof. I had a mild concussion, two broken ribs and a broken ankle. Valletta came to visit me in the hospital and now she’s pregnant again.

After the horror of my accident, and the definite insanity of everything else that happened, “Stairway to Heaven” is no longer my go-to phrase of praise. I replaced it with “Under the Boardwalk.” Now, if I see or hear something I like I say, “That’s under the boardwalk.” Thanks to The Drifters 1964 recording, there will always be a romantic magical refuge, a place get away from it all, and maybe find some loose change with a metal detector. Bert has threatened to terminate our friendship over my latest phrase of praise, saying it is stupid. I responded: “Hey Bert! That’s under the boardwalk!” We both laughed and hugged. Bert started humping my leg, just like the old days, and I knew our friendship would never end.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Paromoiosis (par-o-moy-o’-sis): Parallelism of sound between the words of adjacent clauses whose lengths are equal or approximate to one another. The combination of isocolon and assonance.

Why does it seem stupid to ask what the meaning of life is? It isn’t that stupid to find a way to find a little bliss. You just start looking. You never give up. So, I went on the internet and Googled “bliss” in all caps. The top hit was a definition: perfect happiness; great joy. That’s what I expected. The second was a trash removal company in my zip code. The third was a “The Cosmic Bliss Institute” located physically in Union, New Jersey. They promise a “quick trip” to Nirvana at one low low price . Before I looked into Cosmic Bliss, I had to check out “Electric Angel.” She promised excitement followed by serenity from watching her “work” with her specially fitted shop tools, live, via webcam. I had to check this out. I’d visit Cosmic Bliss later.

I clicked on the link. The screen turned red, and there was the sound of an electric drill whirring loudly. Suddenly it stopped. Then there was the sound of a circular saw. “This is bizarre” I thought. Then, a disclaimer came on the screen requiring that I be a Social Security Recipient to join. The disclaimer also said: “Be advised, really crazy things happen here. If you are under 65 years of age, stay out!” Further, it said “25 minutes with the Electric Angel are $1000.00. Please enter your credit card information within 30 seconds, or you will be permanently banned from this site.” I entered my card information immediately.

Music started playing. It was slow and rich and clearly had an erotic intention. An overweight naked woman was dancing to the music, winding around like a big snake. She had a battery-powered electric drill in each hand. Each drill bit impaled a hot dog. There were two hot dog buns on the table in front of her. She flipped over the drills and slowly writhed toward the table, put the hot dogs in the buns, reversed the drills and withdrew the drill bits. She put down the drills and picked up the two hot dogs. I thought, “Ok, finally, here we go!” She threw the two hot dogs on the floor and kicked them away from her. “I paid $1000.00 for this? It’s total bullshit!”

Just then, the hot dogs exploded, giving off a beautiful cloud of shimmering rainbow colors, and I could smell a sweet perfume coming out of my computer’s keyboard. A genie materialized out of the haze. He was wearing a shiny golden suit and a black turban with a crow feather sticking out of it. He yelled, “Yes! This is bullshit. Turn off your computer and take a long walk.” He disappeared and the screen went blank.

So, I was going to take a walk—I was headed for the Cosmic Bliss Institute. It was a little over 1,000 miles from where I live. I made holsters for two electric drills. I got a sackcloth pullover, and all-leather sandals. I found a long gnarled tree branch in the woods by my house and made it into a staff. Last, I bought a giant water bottle. I was ready to become a prophet.

I got up at dawn and put a note on my door: “I am on a wisdom walk and won’t back for a year, if at all.” I decided to cut across the golf course to get started. I was run over by a golf cart. It broke my left leg and arm. Ever since, I have been wracking my brain to say something wise about what’s happened to me. There are tons of quotes I could use. My favorite is Winston Churchill: “You never can tell whether bad luck may not after all turn out to be good luck.” That’s pretty good, but it is a little too optimistic. Ok, anyway, here are my words of wisdom: “There isn’t a ‘few’ in future, it only sounds like there is.”

So much of life is like that: it sounds like it is, but it isn’t.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Paronomasia (pa-ro-no-ma’-si-a): Using words that sound alike but that differ in meaning (punning).

My hart was running around in the back yard like he was back on his home turf. My heart went out to him, but I couldn’t let myself get too friendly. He was on the menu of the “Kills and Thrills Sportsmen’s Club’s” annual wild game banquet. Everybody had to bring wild game to eat. I was bringing my Hart’s hindquarters, once I killed him and cut him in half. At least I wasn’t as depraved as Joe Spicer, who had signed up to bring his daughter’s pet bunny Hoppy. Or, Joey Gilmer, who was bringing his son’s turtle Shelly. I didn’t think “pet” counted as “wild game.” But, even my Hart could count as a pet because he has been living in my backyard for six months. I had to build a huge fence to keep him from running away. I guess the possibility of him running away would make him wild. We live out in the country, so he’d probably be shot as a deer during deer season if he was out running loose.

Then, I started to think about what it would be like being a deer and being hunted during deer season? I would be a doe:

“I can tell it’s the opening of deer season. I live in a bucks only wildlife management area. Nevertheless, hunters can get doe permits, giving them permission shoot anterless deer. That’s me—antlerless. I knew the hunters were coming. There was a jam of pickup trucks on the road along the state land—where hunters hunted. I could also smell cigarette smoke, whiskey, coffee, and beer. To my deer nose it was like smelling death.

I started to retreat to the swamp. Most hunters were too lazy or ill-equipped to venture into the swamp. As I started to run, I remembered my fawn. She had been following me ever since she’d been born. She had lost her spots and looks like a small deer—not much bigger than a big dog. She is almost completely weaned, but still hits me up for a snack when we’re foraging for beech nuts in the woods.

As we make our way to the swamp, we cross paths with our first hunter. He’s an overweight beer-bellied man. He’s dressed in hunter orange from head to pants. His coat still has a price tag dangling from it. He is shaking. He is nervous. He puts down his Thermos cup, and puts his shiny new shotgun to his shoulder, and we run like hell. There’s no gunshot. The’s no ‘Boom!’ I looked back and saw he had forgotten to load his shotgun! With his shaking hands he almost couldn’t load his gun now. What a loser. But, he was rare—most hunters were ready to blow you away if you got anywhere near them. This was a big stroke of luck, but we continued to run anyway.

We kept going on to the swamp. We saw one of the herd’s old bucks coming toward us. He was limping and bleeding from his butt. He said, “I’m dying of thirst. I’ve got to get to the reservoir.” We took off again. I heard a loud thud and looked back. The old buck was down. A hunter had found him and was getting ready to shoot him in the head and finish him off. We ran. The swamp was nearby. We started crashing through the willows, and wading through knee deep water to the little island at the center of the swamp. I heard a shot! I looked back and I didn’t see my baby. I got back to the edge of the swamp and saw her dead body being dragged away by the overweight beer-bellied hunter—the one we had seen who had forgotten to load his gun.

I have no claws or sharp teeth. I am like a cow living in the woods. There was nothing I could do, except head back to the swamp’s center, lie down and wait for dark, when the hunters would leave woods.”

Wow, that sucked. A deer helpless to fight back. There was a time when hunting deer was a matter of survival, now it’s about having something yummy to eat with potatoes and gravy. And also, there’s the thrill of getting up while it is still dark and wandering around, or sitting, in the woods with a loaded weapon, waiting for dawn, looking for a deer to kill. I’m thinking of sending my Hart back to his native Iran where he can run free (wherever Hart run free in Iran). He probably won’t be better off, but a least he’ll be home. It’s going to cost a fortune to ship him. I was lucky to get him as a gift from my estranged wife. I have no idea where she got him for me, and I didn’t ask. Initially, I was going to whack him and invite my friends over to eat him. But, I named him Shah and started hugging him, letting him in the house every once-in-awhile, and teaching him tricks. I taught him to push a ball across the living room floor with his nose. I don’t know, maybe it’s just as well to bring him to the banquet and, after everybody’s eaten, let him impale few people with his antlers for “Just Desserts.”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Sententia (sen-ten’-ti-a): One of several terms describing short, pithy sayings. Others include adage, apothegem, gnome, maxim, paroemia, and proverb.

Consider the booger. It isn’t a lobster. It isn’t Yorick’s moldy skull. But in a way the lowly booger has high standing in the universe of the nostril: “Not only do we live among the stars, the stars live within us.” Substitute “boogers” for “stars” and you’ll see there is a universe of unseeable celestial promise stuck in your life-giving airway, tidying it up by a hearty sneeze or a carefully wielded pinky scooping out the booger and wiping it on your pant leg or skirt or sock. Or, you may be primly equipped with what is called a “hankie” made from soft cloth, and possibly, embroidered with your three initials. If you’re a man, you may have in your back pocket a large hankerchief, “chief” emphasizing the cloth’s masculinity and superiority to the “girlie” little hankie. In fact, in order to emphasize its manliness, you might call your handkerchief a “snot rag” even though you may use it to go booger hunting up your nose. Or, you may have a tissue up your sleeve if you are bereft of pockets.

Booger flicking is a sport in some parts of the world, especially in poorer countries that may only have boogers to play with. There may even be regional tournaments and passionate rivalries with “Booger Kings” and “Booger Queens” revered as regional and national champions. The boogers are specially cultivated in the competitors’ nostrils, aging like fine wine, and taking on their cherished aerodynamic form inside the nostril through a process of tantric sniffing and, outside the nose, by rolling the booger between the thumb and forefinger, and very lightly moisturizing it with canola oil. The booger is flicked by placing it on the tip of the index finger and forcefully dragging the thumb toward it to strike it and propel it away from the hand. According to the rules, each booger must be kept in the competitor’s nostril until five minutes before the “Flick Off.” Competitors sit in a circle around a five-foot diameter pit marked in rings like a bullseye. The highest scoring booger wins the round. Ties are resolved by a “Booger Flick-Off,” and boogers that land on other boogers void their participation in the “Flick Off.” In the US, the last known “Flick Off” was held in 1980 and was “won” by the professional sniveler Donald Sump from NYC, who was accused of cheating by sniveling on his booger, increasing its velocity, and knocking what would’ve been the winning booger off the board. His title was taken away after a 10-minute hearing.

Now we come to the dark side of boogers. There are the near-perverts who eat their boogers. First, there are the covert booger eaters— they may pretend they’re wiping their mouths with their backs of their hands or handkerchiefs, when in fact, they’re unloading dried boogers into their mouths. They may chew them quietly and surreptitiously, but if you are vigilant, you can observe movement in their throats when they swallow their nasal confections.

But the absolute worst is the public booger miner. They may sit in a bus station digging for booger treasure. Their pinky is their tool, with enough of a nail to act as a shovel. They shove their pinky into their nostril, twist it around, fill it up and pull it out. Now, the public booger eater holds up his pinky and looks at his find from many angles, until he can’t stand any more. He shoves his loaded pinky between his lips and into his mouth, where he may chew on his prize for a couple of seconds before he swallows it.

Erasmus said “Nothing human is alien to me.” Boogers are human, and they bind us together. Their presence is ubiquitous. When we look at each others’ noses we can see mirrored there citadels of common experience that house boogers that we can’t see, but can believe in due to a booger’s presence in our own nostrils.

So, as we began, consider the booger: a building block of our humanity, so disgustingly beautiful and picked for infinite reasons, spanning the hierarchies of value that give life to meaning, and meaning to life.

If your nose could speak, it might say: “I can’t pick myself.”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Tasis (ta’-sis): Sustaining the pronunciation of a word or phrase because of its pleasant sound. A figure apparent in delivery.

My mother was obsessed with Pandas. For her, they were “the cuuu-test creatures on God’s green earth.” She had a bamboo garden in the basement, lit by purple grow lights. She called it “Panda Acres” even though the “Acres” were growing in a 3-foot square box. She fervently hoped to feed a Panda in the basement some day. She had a gallery of “famous pandas” hanging on the living room wall. Andy Panda was most prominently displayed. In one picture Andy, and his sidekick Charlie Chicken, are pictured hoisting beer steins with their chests puffed way out. I always thought it was because they were proud of something, but my mom was convinced they were doing “healthy” breathing exercises.

She was concerned with panda health. Whenever a new panda was born in China, or at the zoo, we would hold a vigil, praying for the baby panda’s survival. Mom had a portable shrine mounted on roller skates. She would pull it out of my bedroom and make bamboo offerings and say brief prayers. My favorite was “Dear baby panda, listen to your mother, stand up straight, and don’t j-walk.” Sometimes we’d sit up all night, burning incense, drinking tea, and making up panda stories. Dad made up “The little panda who got a tattoo.” It was about a panda who joined a biker gang and raised hell all over New York. He had a tattoo of a devil-horned pangolin on his butt and swore a lot. For obvious reasons, my mother hated the tattoo story and would go “na, na, na” whenever my father started telling it.

One of my earliest memories is riding in a stroller on a warm spring morning wearing my panda suit. I wasn’t allowed to talk. I was only allowed to grunt like what we thought a panda would sound like. I was expected to hold my hands out too, like I was begging for bamboo. People thought I looked cute, but they did’t know what hell it was inside the suit. The worst was that the panda suit’s eyeholes weren’t lined up with my eyes. So, everything was sort of cut in half. When I got older, I had to wear a panda snowsuit when I walked to school. Mom made me carry a piece of bamboo and swish it around like a fly swatter. One day I couldn’t get my snowsuit off at school. After that, everybody called me Poo-Poo Panda. I didn’t like it.

But then the seventies came. I finished high school and moved away from home. I formed a rock band called “The Primo Pandas.” We wore panda face paint and had back-up dancers in full-on panda suits who frequently fainted in the middle of a set. The audience expected it, so the fainting always got some heavy applause. Our biggest hit was “Bam-bam-boo-boo, I’m gonna’ Chew ya’ Right Down.” John Lee Hooker’s lawyer told us he would’ve sued us for infringing on his “Boom, Boom,” but we were too pitiful to mess with. Despite that, John Lee sat in on a gig with us in Oakland, CA. He was truly a great man.

When things opened up further with China, we made millions touring—Hong Kong, Shanghai, Beijing, etc. We merchandised the hell out of the panda suits and other items, like panda eye masks. When it was all over, I opened a Chinese restaurant back in New York with Xiu, the woman I had met (and married) on the tour in Shanghai. Along with other pictures (for example, me and Ringo waving bamboo branches) mom’s panda gallery graces the restaurant’s wall. All the staff wear panda suits, and the name of the restaurant is “Panda’s Trough,” and it’s themed like an upscale zoo cage. People love it!

Xiu and I are going to have a baby in about five months. She’s afraid it will look like a panda. So am I.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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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.

There is a trellis outside my window entwined with blooming roses, velvet red, soft, twisted, filling my room with breeze-driven shadows brushing along the walls. I can hear the waves hitting the beach. The tide is coming in.

I lay there wondering about hope and it’s vague projections of wobbly futures, trying to form a hope: something to want, but not to need. I could only conjure what I had lost, especially my dog “Goddamnit“ who ran away during the 4th of July fireworks. I was yelling “Goddamnit” out in my yard for two hours and then gave up. I yelled “shit” and a big expensive-looking dog shot out of the bushes by my house, knocked me down, and licked my face. I thought about the one-two-ness of it all. I missed Godammnit, but Shit was a pretty good replacement. But, I hadn’t hoped for Shit. I just wanted to bring Godamnit back home. Laying there, I realized that hoping was a waste of time, that something always comes along to fill the gap. In my case, right then, it was Shit. Who knows? In your case it could be a raccoon or a man or a woman. And, I think you can be optimistic without being hopeful. That means you think good things can happen without knowing what they are! In fact, you may not even think they’re good.

I met my first wife when I got a flat tire outside of Bakersfield. She pulled up in a dune buggy, we got married, and the rest was misery until we divorced three weeks later—barely missing the annulment deadline. But, the first two days were bliss at a motel near San Luis Obispo. On day three, she tried to smother me with a pillow because I remarked on her hairy armpits. It was like she had two lumps of coal grafted to her armpits—I called them her “coal pits.” I yelled “shit!” when she came after me with the pillow, and Shit bounded through the open motel window and growled and barked at her. She got off of me, threw the pillow at Shit and ran out the door. She took the car, and disappeared. I was marooned at the motel with Shit. I got $100 out of the motel’s ATM and packed Shit’s dog dish along with my clothes in my rolly-bag, hooked up Shit’s leash, and Shit and I started walking toward Santa Barbara. We got about 100 yards when an Audi convertible pulled over and the driver asked us if we needed a lift. She was beautiful and kind looking. Shit and I climbed in the car and we took off toward Santa Barbara. She asked me my dog’s name and I told her “Shit.” “That’s fantastic,” she said. I felt like a door had opened in my soul, letting in light, clearing out the darkness. I told her what had happened and she invited us to stay with her for a couple of days. That was one year ago. Nancy’s out of town on business right now and Shit and I are in charge of the villa. Nancy and I are going to have a baby girl. We’re going to name her Hope.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Antiprosopopoeia (an-ti-pro-so-po-pe’-i-a): The representation of persons [or other animate beings] as inanimate objects. This inversion of prosopopoeia or personification can simply be the use of a metaphor to depict or describe a person [or other animate being].

The race was on! The 10th annual “Walker Run” at Our Lady of the Soiled Linens, a nursing home that stays afloat with constant Go Fund Me appeals and the kindness of a Mr. D.B. Cooper, a parachuting enthusiast who donated a pile of money after recovering from two broken legs and a broken collarbone and being cared for at Our Lady of the Soiled Linens .

My doctor tells me that “with luck” I have fourteen months to live. It is imperative that I win the race—even though I feel like a million dollars, I know the doctor’s right. He gave Mrs. Tellby ten months, and boom, she checked out in ten months.

I bought a lightweight titanium racing walker on Amazon. It can be filled with helium to make it lighter. The wheels are repurposed skateboard wheels and it has no brakes (to get rid of extra weight). The rear crutch tips have been replaced with Kevlar sliders. I would’ve replaced them with wheels, but all the racing walkers have to conform to normal Walker specs—that means only two front wheels, and of course, no motors!

My only real competition is Col. Von Gruen. Everybody else competes just to get some fresh air and sunshine, working on their Vitamin D deficiencies and their alienation from nature. Anyway, Von Gruen’s Walker is a black 1994 Rover. It has none of the modifications that mine has and he’s never failed to beat me in the past, until I got rid of my 1989 Trekker. Now that I’ve got a 2020 titanium Light Walker, I am going to kick his butt.

We line up on the starting line. It’s fifty feet to the finish line— I feel like Big Daddy Don Garlits lined up at Meadowlands, ready to rock. I am a dragster! I grip my walker and wait for the green light. Von Gruen is right next to me. We are almost shoulder to shoulder. He turns and says to me, “I am dying day after tomorrow, the Doctor told me.” Putting on my best scowl, I say “So what?” Von Gruen says, “Let me win.” Just then, the light turned green and off we went. I got half-way to the finish line and slowed down on purpose to let Von Gruen win. He was gonna die on Friday and it seemed like the right thing to do. Two weeks later he was still alive. I was enraged. I walked down the hall, burst into his room, and threw his ‘94 Rover out the window. He died the next day. He left me his walker and the $35.00 he had won for winning his final race.

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Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” ( Bracketed text added by Georgia’s.


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

I hate the guy who fixes my lawn mower. He always makes it a big deal by using technical terms to describe he did, so he can charge me more money: “I rearticulated your rotoric sward inscisor. That’ll be $100.” What the hell is that? That’s what I paid for the lawn mower brand new! If I refuse to pay, he’ll take me to small claims court and embarrass me, or he’ll file a mechanic’s lien against my mower.

I’m fed up. I am going to make my yard into a meadow for wildflowers, bunnies, butterflies, and birds.

I’ve been getting complaints from my neighbors about my meadow and there’s some kind of law that will make me pay a weekly fine until I mow. So, it’s back to the damn mower mechanic to bail out my mower. He greets me: “Salutations Mr. Parsimonious Pants. Your sward cropper awaits—it is reconstituted and agog to return to its calling.”

That was it, I picked up a wrench and hit him on the head. I was going to grind up him with my mower. I pulled the starter chord several times and nothing happened. He lifted his head off the floor and said: “I can correct that for a supplementary emolument of $150.”

I called 911, was convicted of battery, paid the fine and did the community service.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Diaskeue (di-as-keu’-ee): Graphic peristasis (description of circumstances) intended to arouse the emotions.

My mother was dead. Two weeks in the hospital and off she went. The restraint on her bed had come loose. She rolled over and the life sustaining tube yanked out of her arm. I’m no medical expert, but I don’t how one tube can make the difference between life and death. I demanded an autopsy but the hospital dismissed me like I was dirt.

I couldn’t stop thinking about my mother and the single tube that had killed her. I hired a lawyer and told her what had happened. The first thing she asked me was whether my mother had any enemies. I told her my mother was her own worst enemy. She ate like the pastry shop was a health food store. She drank the cheapest gin money can buy—Mr. Boston—smells like cleaning fluid flavored with juniper berries. She smoked Mavericks—a brand of cigarette that might not really be a cigarette. They are under investigation for using lawn clippings and recycled cigarette butts. The lawyer frowned and told me if we were going after a death rap, we needed somebody to blame before we’ll be granted the autopsy. I told her I thought we could blame anybody, so we blamed the orderly who mops the floors. It worked! The autopsy was performed. They found one of those little umbrellas that go in drinks lodged in my mother’s throat. She had choked to death. My mother always liked a Mimosa with a cocktail umbrella.

I sued the hospital for $5,000,000 and won. They had lied about the cause of death and we nailed them. My mother’s funeral was semi-festive. She was so quirky I know she would’ve loved it. The mortician had decorated her hair with cocktail umbrellas and put a Maverick cigarette between he lips. There was a bottle of Mr. Boston tucked under her arm. She looked great laying there. If she had gotten up and headed to Towne Liquor, it would’ve seemed perfectly normal.

You only have one mother. She was mine. It still hurts every time I think of her. I can remember her making me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich every day for my school lunch. She always gave me extra jelly. She was so nice to my friends and girlfriends. We would play in the yard and she would pop out on the back porch in her apron: “Come on kids, the cookies are ready.” We would race to the kitchen. I loved her with all my heart.

Some day we’ll catch the bastard who killed my mother. In the meantime, I’m in a serious relationship with the lawyer, Theresa. In a weird way I feel like that’s some kind of justice, and she bakes cookies that might be better than my mother’s.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Enigma (e-nig’-ma): Obscuring one’s meaning by presenting it within a riddle or by means of metaphors that purposefully challenge the reader or hearer to understand.

There is a windmill, or should I say, a wind turbine, spinning in my mind. It is generating electric thoughts, like Edison had when he summoned his assistant Watson to light his cigar in his laboratory. Yes, the cigar had import, basking in the significance of the moment, like an open door or a pile of loose change, mostly dimes and quarters, or a glowing summons to an unimaginable future, imagined right there in Menlo Park, New Jersey. The cigar was cheap, but Edison’s thoughts were worth a fortune.

I want to know how the wind gets in my head to make the windmill spin. Maybe I should say there’s a hamster in my mind running on his wheel, spinning off crazy ideas that are soaked up by my consciousness, providing grounds for illegal and inappropriate actions. Oh wait—there is a rainbow bridging my brain! It affords me a promise, hope and an optimistic turn toward the rest of my life. Like George LaVkovff says, there are “metaphors we live by” (and die by). Does your life stink?

That’s a metaphor. Change the metaphor and your life will change. I consider myself to be a turtle with a rainbow above my head. Think of a turtle’s characteristics. They’re mine too. Put a rainbow above them. They’re mine too. Being a rainbow-crowned turtle provides me an orientation toward life! But what am I really? I’m an life insurance actuary with a boring hopeless life. I am not a turtle—they have more fun than I do. I am an anchovy stuck in the darkness of my can with ten or twelve other anchovies. We’re waiting for the lid to be ripped off. There’s a lot of anxiety in the can, plus we smell bad.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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