Eucharistia (eu-cha-ris’-ti-a): Giving thanks for a benefit received, sometimes adding one’s inability to repay.

Thank you so much for the sprained ankle. I don’t how to repay you. Rather, I don’t want to repay you. It’s bad enough that I’m limping around on a crutch. Two of us would raise suspicions—suspicions that there is something wrong with us beyond our ankles. I don’t know why I let you suck me into a fifty yard dash against you on our little frozen pond. I had to veer to miss some little kid and “twist” went my ankle.

This kind of crap has been happening since we were kids. I remember our garden. We aspired to feed the neighborhood and planted string beans. But before we even got the beans planted, we were raking dirt lumps into tillable soil. I was standing behind you. For some reason you turned your rake around so the tines faced down when you lifted it back over your shoulder. Two of the tines went into my head. You talked me into keeping what you had done secret. That night, I had more trouble than usual with my math homework. I thought it was the holes in my head.

Then, there was the “bungalow” we built in your back yard. It was made out of pallet boards salvaged from “Geiger’s Appliance Store.” we took them one at a time in my red wagon, on Sunday when the store was closed. It took five trips. We didn’t have any tools, so we just leaned the pallet boards against each other, and put two on top for a roof. I was first to go in and bumped a pallet board as I went trough the “door.” The bungalow collapsed on top of me. The roof gave me a mild concussion and I peed my pants. When the bungalow collapsed, you ran away. I lay there with my head spinning for nearly an hour when your dad noticed my leg sticking out of what was now, a pile of pallet boards. I don’t know why I accepted your apology for leaving me there.

What about the “joy ride” we took in my family’s car? Neither of us knew how to drive, but you insisted on getting behind the wheel. Our first maneuver was to back out of the driveway. You thought when you drove backwards, you were supposed to look in the rearview mirror. Remember? You ran over the mailbox at the end of the driveway and then drove full speed ahead into the garage door. You did significant damage to the front and rear of the car. When we hit the garage door, we jumped out of the car and ran as fast as we could to the playground, where we hid out for the rest of the day. When I got home there was a police car there. My father had reported that somebody had tried to steal our family car. Luckily, insurance covered the damages and we got off scott free. But, I wish the whole thing had never happened.

Well, all that is behind us. Even though I hurt my ankle, I made it to my wedding today. Despite all that’s happened, you are my best man. I hope your recent release from prison was a joyous occasion for you. 5 years for armed robbery was probably a walk in the park. Sticking up Cliff’s was probably part of a plan to improve your life. Good for you. I noticed you you put one of our smaller wedding gifts inside your sports coat—in the inside pocket. Please put it back on the table or I will call the police.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Euche (yoo’-kay): A vow to keep a promise.

I made a promise, a vow, a deal, a bond, a projected future, an ironclad pledge, a guarantee, an oath, a commitment, and a covenant—all synonyms, all meaning more or less the same thing. You can trust me. I am as constant as the wind in Kansas, as faithful as the rising sun, as bound as a hostage, as stuck as a two-wheeled pickup truck in the mud.

I’ve been delivering fresh organs in little coolers since 1993. I’ve never lost one, or damaged one yet. Why, I took a lung from Phoenix, Arizona all the way to Tacoma. I took a heart from Newark, New Jersey all the way to Covina, California. I took a testicle from Dallas, Texas all the way to Donner’s Pass for the annual “Donner Party Cookout.” And I drove a belly button all the way from Brattleboro, Vermont to Chicago. No muss. No fuss. No spill. Just a slightly chilled human body part, ready for installation, ready to function, ready to save or improve a life. Soon, I’ll be crossing the New Mexico State line with your new eyeball in my little cooler. I should be in Bakersfield pretty soon.

Bad news. Last night while I was sleeping somebody stole my little cooler with your eyeball in it. I am very sorry, I had my door locked and double bolted. Anyway, your eyeball is being held hostage. The eyeball-napper wants $1,000 to return your eyeball. You have to wire the money to a “local bank if you ever want to see your eyeball.” I am in Cactus Needle, Arizona, Wire the money to “Saddle Pad Federal Credit Union.” Temp Acct: 1284s0. I will pick it up and pay the eyeball-napper. I am supposed to meet him on a lonely stretch of highway with the money.”

Ha ha ha! This is too easy! There’s no eyeball-napper! There’s just me on my way to the bank to pick up the one grand. I never tried this scam before, but I’m getting close to retirement and need some extra cash. I collected the cash and exit the bank. There were four police cars with lights flashing parked outside the bank. There were ten policemen aiming their service revolvers at me. There was one policeman with a bullhorn: “Stay where you are. You’re under arrest on a number charges—including fraudulent misappropriation of a harvested human organ, to wit, an eyeball. Drop the money.”

I’m in prison now. I got five years. When my fellow inmates learned I was a “human organ-napper” they were awe-struck and gave me the same rights and privileges as a serial killer. In my cell, I have fully stocked bar, a 70” flat screen TV, a vibrating recliner, Persian carpet, and a weekly visit from Darla, the sister of one of the guards.

What I don’t have is my freedom. I admit it was stupid to try and run the eyeball scam. I should’ve seen it coming, but hindsight is 20-20. I can see now how I screwed up. I didn’t keep focused. My eyes were clouded by greed. Oh well. Darla’s coming today, so things aren’t all bad.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Eulogia (eu-lo’-gi-a): Pronouncing a blessing for the goodness in a person.

We have a Christmas tradition. We watch “A Christmas Carol.” Every time Tiny Tim says “God bless everyone,” we yell “Shut up!” If you miss a “Shut up!” You have carry a bed pillow, symbolic of Tiny Tim, on your shoulder around the living room 3 times—one for each spirit that visits Scrooge.

We have many family traditions. When it snows for the first time in Winter, we shoot dice to see who will shovel the sidewalk and driveway. That person, in turn, gets to choose the next person who will shovel. In spring when we open the pool, we have a person designated as water tester to see if the water’s warm enough to swim in. Everybody has to guess a number between 1 and 1 million. The “holder of the number” is designated by succession. The person who comes closest to the number has to do a cannonball into the pool. We keep an ambulance standing by. 5 years ago Grandpa had a heart attack doing the water test.

We don’t feed the dog unless it picks up it’s bowl and walks around the house whining. We’ve had lots of dogs over the years. We arm wrestle over what TV show we are going to watch. We draw straws to see who’s going to wrestle. It’s funny to see Dad and my three-year old brother wrestle. When we go to the grocery store Mom usually puts a ham or a turkey from the grocery store under her sweater so she looks pregnant. We circle around her, and create a distraction so she can slip out the front door & we can go through checkout like nothing happened. Our distraction is my brother Ed. He can imitate a PA system and he says “Refrigeration unit broken on aisle 3.”

I think our best tradition is wearing formal clothing to breakfast. Poached eggs, orange juice, home fries, sausage, and a raspberry jelly donut all in a tuxedo. Mom wears her wedding dress and Dad wears his dress blues from his army days. Little Joey wears a white sports coat and a pink carnation. Ed wears a tuxedo like mine. Suzy wears her first communion dress, but she’s starting to outgrow it. Salvation Army thrift store, here we come! It is all great fun—once a month on Sundays.

I keep trying to start a new tradition! I want us to stop bathing for 2 weeks every 2 months. I think it will remind us of how our ancestors lived. I think it is important get in touch with our ancestors as much as possible. In that vein, I’m also thinking about hunting the neighborhood squirrels with BB guns and cooking them up for lunch or dinner, like our ancestors.

Wish me luck!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Eustathia (yoos-tay’-thi-a): Promising constancy in purpose and affection.

Love is like a three-dollar bill that you can actually spend. You can buy love’s fruits—my favorite is passion fruit. Ha ha! But the three dollar dimension is a little wonky. It manifests itself as promises that may or may not be sincere. How do you judge sincerity? No matter what the promiser’s track record is, things change. And since the motive for a given promise is more important than the promise, and since it can’t be readily observed, you might as well be dangling over the pit of hell as take a promise at face value.

I, for one, can’t keep a promise for very long. It’s not that I lie about promises, it’s just that I can’t keep them. Most of my lies run along three separate paths. the first is lying to please people. For example, my little brother may ask me if I like him. I don’t like him at all. He treats me badly—he hits me on the back of the head for no reason, sometimes 5 or 6 times per day. He hits on my girlfriend, he steals my money, and blames me for the bad things he does. So, I lie about liking him so I can avoid confrontation. I say, “I like you so much. You’re so cool I’ll always like you.” My second reason for lying is to get out of trouble. My answer to ”Did you do that?” If it was bad, I answer “No” so quickly that the question and answer meld! A couple of days ago, I drank 2 shots of my father’s Johnny Walker blue—one of the most expensive scotches in the world. Of course, he accused me of drinking it—I shot back “No, I promised faithfully to never steal your booze,” and told him to smell my breath. He did, and was grossed out to the max. He started choking and holding his throat. Then he said “Just kidding,” and laughed at me. I said, “That’s ok. You’re pretty funny & I’ll like you no matter what you do, except sell mom. Haha!” But it wasn’t ok. My lie bought me out of a yelling match and possible violence. Slick move!

Then there’s my girlfriend. I promised to love her forever, to never veer from the path of affection that I have plotted for us—to be forever faithful—as the sunrise. I also said there was a strong likelihood we would be married and raise a family. This paved a highway to “Flesh City.” It’s about making a promise that I can’t or won’t keep so I can get.something I want now. The problem with this is the inevitable leaving. It could take a couple of years, but it is bound to happen. Promising made in order to “get something” can lead to remorse, guilt, depression. However, you never know. You may actually “grow into” a bogus promise and create a better version of yourself. You may marry her. You may have a kid. You may not get divorced. But, although it’s possible, it’s never happened to me. If I collected all the tears cried at breakup time, I could make a saltwater aquarium.

So, promises are generally very fragile. We need them to move us into the future—like money, or contracts, or insurance policies, but promises that are not legally binding bear a degree of risk that makes them rarely worth promulgating. There’s a saying: “Promises are made to be broken.” The world spins. Things change. Here today, gone tomorrow. If you have to make a promise to somebody, ironically, it is because they do not trust you—and trust, like gold, is what backs a promise, and one’s judgment of its sincerity. And, trust is a social chimera woven out of avowals of motive and the ambiguity of deeds: there is no certain answer to what an action’s intent is. Remember, you kiss your lover and you kiss your grandmother. Two kisses—two different motives, two different qualities of affection (I hope).

In the end, you shouldn’t be faulted for failing to keep a promise. You have to be free to change your mind, especially if you change in a positive way that makes the promise no longer tenable.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Eutrepismus (eu-tre-pis’-mus): Numbering and ordering the parts under consideration. A figure of division, and of ordering.

There are myriad fantasies I could have about my neighbor’s wife. I call her the blond bombshell, and I know what I’m talking about! Let’s take a “look” at what I mean:

1. She drives slowly and seductively down her driveway every day when she comes home from work. She looks like a big piece of candy behind the wheel—a big sweet red cherry-flavored gummy neighbor.

2. When she walks to the mailbox her butt wiggles imperceptibly. I know she knows I’m hiding in the bushes and clearly puts on cute little show for me. When she comes back down to her house, she looks at her mail and will sometimes stop and glance at a catalogue, posing for me with her breasts heaving, pretending she’s out of breath from the steep climb up her driveway.

3. In summer she lays by her pool wearing tiny bathing suits. This speaks for itself.

It should be pretty clear from what I’ve written that my neighbor’s wife has the hots for me. I am a moral man. Accordingly, I won’t steal her away from her husband. Also, my wife would have a fit, although my wife is quite good friends with my neighbor’s husband. They have a mutual interest in astronomy and bring a blanket down to the field behind our house, sometimes star gazing half the night. Sometimes I hear mooing sounds from the field. My wife told me there was stray cow wandering around in the field.

So, life goes on. I began quietly clearing a spot in the brush outside my neighbor’s bedroom window. I am not a voyeur. I just like to look at my neighbor’s wife in a very special way. But it all fell apart last night. I had positioned myself in my little bush niche. Suddenly, my wife was standing naked in the window with my naked neighbor standing behind her embracing her. Then, my neighbor’s naked wife came into view and hugged them both.

At first I was angry, but then I realized my good fortune! It was like having my own porno webcam in my own back yard! When the lights went out, I went back home. My wife came home about a half-hour later. She told me all about what she was doing. I told her I didn’t care, Especially since I was having an affair with our neighbor’s wife.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Exergasia (ex-er-ga’-si-a): Repetition of the same idea, changing either its words, its delivery, or the general treatment it is given. A method for amplification, variation, and explanation. As such, exergasia compares to the progymnasmata exercises (rudimentary exercises intended to prepare students of rhetoric for the creation and performance of complete practice orations).

Time to go Christmas shopping! It’s always fun buying Christmas gifts for people you love, and more or less tolerable for people you could give a damn less about, like the mail carrier, my cousin Lavern, or my friend from high school who works at MacDonald’s—a total loser, but I don’t want him spitting on my burger patty. It is a real challenge choosing gifts for people you think you’re obliged to buy gifts for—that you are coerced in some social way to give gifts to—that there are unpleasant consequences involved in not giving gifts to. It involves some kind of extortion, mainly because you get nothing in return except US mail, an appeased cousin and a spit free burger at MacDonalds. Merry Christmas.

So, I went on line. First, I Googled “gifts for US Mail carriers.” Google told me it was illegal to give gifts to federal employees. So, I tried Canadian mail carriers. Boom! Jackpot! There it was: a collapsible snow shovel! But wait, bear spray! I bought my mail carrier two cans of “Crying Ursine Bear Spray.” I’ll wrap them and put them in my mailbox on Christmas Eve. I think that might be illegal, but I don’t care. Next, I Googled “gifts for looser cousin who swears a lot.” 100s of hits came up, but one caught my attention. It was a kit for making signs to use to beg for money on the street. It comes with fifty clever messages and 100 more are available for a “low cost” on their internet site. One of my favorites was “GIMME 5 DOLLARS.” It is straightforward. I didn’t get this one: “Homeless! Need Credit Card!” Anyway, my gift may help lift Lavern out of her ditch. If I gave her no gift, she would throw rocks at my house again on New Year Day. She’s a tough customer. Then there was Giles. He’s been working at MacDonals ever since he graduated from high school in 2015. We were friends in high school, but we’ve drifted apart since I’ve made something of myself and he hasn’t, and for some reason he blames his failed life on me. Maybe it was the college scholarship we competed for. I won it, but didn’t really need it. As a consequence of losing, he couldn’t afford to go to college, and in his mind, it was my fault. So, I Googled “What gift do you give a man in a dead end job who blames you for being there?” I got fewer hits than the other two searches, but there was one that stuck out: Very expensive tile cleaner that Giles could use on his day to clean the rest rooms at MacDonalds. The tile cleaner comes with a special “absorbent” washable rag that “helps fights streaking.” By using Shinhonian, he may get a promotion or pay raise for extra good work, and, I’ll be relieved of worry about eating spitty burgers.

So, I finished shopping for my challenging gift recipients in 20 minutes. I hope the gifts get me off the hook again for another year. Now, it is time to shop for people I pretty much care about. First up, my girlfriend. Asking Goggle: “What gift do you get for somebody you are stuck with because of promises you made, her violent brother, and her allergies that require you to rub her back with terrible-smelling medicated cream twice a day?” Google referred me to Duck Duck Go for answers to my query. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you what I bought for her, but I can give you a hint: Hisssss.

Merry Christmas!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Exouthenismos (ex-ou-then-is’-mos): An expression of contempt.

The world is filled with uncertainty, doubt, and pain. The aisle you walked down on our wedding day was an off ramp. The vows you made were sarcastic— they were just missing the cutting tone. I took you literally when I should’ve known you meant opposite of what you said.And now you’re leaving me for Roman Gootvorm, the fat dolt who works at Cliff’s. He can’t even run a barcode scanner or bag things—he uses a giant paper bag for one scratch-off lotto ticket. And the truck he drives is a rusted, dented road hazard. The seats are worn to the springs, the passenger window only goes halfway down and the tires are nearly treadles—but he’s got a friend who sells him counterfeit inspection stickers. He’s been “working” on his GED for five years. Some day he might take the test,

And here I am. Award-winning used car salesman. I average 2 units per week. This week I sold a red 2019 Cadillac that Cuomo drove to secret meetings with Canadian espionage agents. Unfortunately, he was chucked out of office for his shenanigans. But still, I sold that baby to a bill collector from Albany for $3,599! That’s kind of high-end salesman I’ve always been. And oh, didn’t I get you that possum skin coat for Christmas last year, and a multifunction digital watch, as well as a box of 1 dozen BIC pens, with assorted color ink? And what about the wooden cane I bought for your mother or the pad for your father’s ride-mower seat? I am a good man. I don’t deserve to be abandoned for a stupid loser. So what if he won $6,000,000 in the lottery? It makes me think it was my money you were after all along. I guess he needs help spending his fortune. Well, you just go ahead.

I hate you more than I hate spinach. You have taken a toll on my soul. Maybe I made fun of your lazy eye more than I should have. I don’t know. After all I did, you’re leaving. I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. I will never talk to you again. We’re through.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

It was night. It was cold. Strange things were happening on the off ramp. Strange things were happening everywhere, and that was strange. My car changed colors. The freeway turned into a shallow creek teeming with state-raised trout, and 100s of people panning for gold up and down the former freeway. The deer and the antelope were playing together on the range outside of town—it was like Noah’s Ark had sailed by on the freeway river, brining the animals together. I expected to see a rabbit and a coyote playing horseshoes. And then, the rising sun inched out of the East with a warning written on it in English. Why only English, when the whole world can see it? The warning said: “Let that be a warning to you.” Perhaps the English-speaking world needed to hear this— to take heed and respond.

In order to respond appropriately in the face of the crumbling world order, we set about determining what “that” is. This? The Three Kings from Orient far? Cheating on your wife? Drinking too much! Linoleum floors? Taking two hits of industrial strength LSD. Let’s take a look at these possibilities and determine whether they’re likely answers to our question: What is that? First, “This?” Definite idiot material—this and that are equally vague and don’t get us anywhere. Second. “Three kings from Orient far.” How could the “Three Kings” warrant a warning? They were nice guys who gave Jesus presents that gave his manger a good smell and gave him some money so he could get a jump start in life, and maybe afford a room at the motel next door to the manger. What’s to worry about that? Third. “Cheating on your wife” Well, easier said than done. A little adultery isn’t going to tear the world apart. Look at Jimmy Carter—he took a wrong turn and the world is still here. So, “no” to adultery. Fourth. “Drinking too much.” You can’t drink too much! I’d like to meet the knucklehead who came up with this. I‘m not even going to waste my time commenting on it. It gets a gigantic no! Fifth. “Linoleum floors” There’s some possibility here. If you wear socks on linoleum, you’re doomed. But, linoleum is pretty much a thing of the past. Why would the sun project a linoleum message to the entire solar system if it only pertained to a tiny minority of people who might slip, fall ant get a concussion? Accordingly, we have to rule this out, although it does have some merit.

So, that leaves LSD. That should be a warning. As the world has gone off the rails right under our noses, it must be the case that our water supply has been spiked with acid. I don’t know about you, but I can hear the cheese in my lunch sandwich singing the “Cheddar Daddy Blues.” Also, my fingers have turned into wriggly red worms. Let that be a warning to you! The only thing to do right now is to play Pink Floyd and sit on the floor. Everything will be back to normal in 12 hours. When we come down from the trip, we need to figure out why we all saw the message on the sun. But in the meantime, as your Mayor, I encourage you to enjoy the music, the hallucinations, and the camaraderie.

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

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

Have you ever fallen down a flight of stairs? How can this happen to a person like me? I can walk a straight line after two six-packs of beer. I can make it across the room with my pants down around my ankles. I mosh my butt like a bumper-car in a mosh pit—never fell down. Pull the rug out from under me and I’m still standing. Ice skates? Never fell—the double axle is my signature move. Crushing grapes is one of my favorite things to do—if I ever fell into the sweet juicy grape juice, it would be on purpose! So how the hell did I fall down the stairs at home?

Fist, I should’ve known we were in for trouble when the stair railing came off last summer. That almost got me. There I was with the pulled-off railing in my hand. If I hadn’t thrown it down the stairs, I would not have been able regain my balance. Unfortunately it hit my wife Margo and broke two of her ribs. We wrapped 10 feet of ace bandage around her chest and dosed her with OxyContin pain killers left over from my hand surgery, and she’s doing well. She’s still a little swollen and bent over, but she’s a real trooper. We had had our stairs carpeted. They look great—beige shag. It looks like a dead lawn. It makes me happy when I think of it that way, I won’t have to mow it. The guy who installed it was a little sketchy—on the receipt he spelled carpet c-a-r-p-i-t. I overlooked it because I was excited to have whole house, with the exception of the kitchen, carpeted. There was nothing like going carpet “all the way” from the upstairs bathroom to the living room, without touching a single piece of cold, hard, wood. But there was a problem: the carpet was slippery. I first noticed it when the railing fell off and I slid a couple of inches. But that’s not what happened to our son, Little Timmy. He tried to surf down the stairs, using the Sunday magazine section of the newspaper as a surfboard. He got one foot and his “surfboard” flew out from under him. He hit his head on the top stair, bounced down the rest of the stairs, and hit the floor hard, dislocating his hips, biting his tongue, knocking out his front teeth, and breaking both of his ankles. While he undergoes physical therapy, he will be in a wheelchair for at least a month. He is having his knocked-out teeth replaced, and he has had his tongue operated on to close hole caused by biting it. Poor Little Timmy, but then there is me.

After the railing fell off and Little Timmy took a spill, I vowed to be hyper-cautious descending the stairs. I would go slowly, watching every step. Along with those precautions, I thought my remarkable balance skills would hold me in good stead. But one morning I was late to work. My alarm had failed to go of, and I was in a hurry to get out the door. I threw caution to the wind and started running down the stairs. Just as I lost my footing and went head first like a torpedo flying down the stairs, I saw cat toys lining the stairs: the catnip stuffed calico fish, the red-eyed rubber rat, the wire cat taunter, some poker chips, even his carrier was resting on its side at the bottom of the stairs! And what had tripped me up: a nearly empty bag of “20,000 Salmon” concentrated kitty treats.

I had never gotten along with the cat—he would poop on my pillow from time to time, and shredded my clothing if I left my closet door open. We kept him for our daughter Laura’s sake. She told us she would run away from home if we got rid of him. Given that Laura’s 27, that sounded like a good deal. But, to my detriment, we kept him. Given that I had flown down the stairs, my head had slammed into the wall at the bottom of the stairs. I had amnesia for 2 months. I lost my sense of smell, and I yell random things at random people.

A careful investigation of what happened to me, revealed cat hair on my alarm clock. Since the clock’s failure triggered my fall, and there was cat paraphernalia arrayed on the stairs, and a cat treat bag sent me flying, it is a pretty safe bet that my cat tried to kill me. I feel like a hostage in my own home. We’ve put the cat in therapy, working on anger management and thinking about the consequences of his behavior.

Now, though, he sits on the ottoman in front of me, staring at me, and then, licking his butt for awhile, and then, going back to staring at me. Needless to say, I am intimidated. I don’t want to die.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

“Short pithy sayings” are the coin of the realm for a sleeping dog like me; up against the wall, without a care in the world, like a warm summer breeze humming like hummingbirds on a nectar picnic, or a baby sleeping on a cloud. But, we mustn’t count our chickens before they hatch, or carry coal to Newcastle, or be a lender or a borrower. But, when the going gets tough, you should get going.

Let me tell you. When I was a little boy, the going got tough. I had never heard the “going gets tough” saying. So, when the going got tough, I didn’t get going. I sat in a corner banging my head against the wall, just like my other did. The wall was dented and dirty, and we injured ourselves. Once, when things were really tough, I gave myself a mild concussion. As I lay there on the floor, I did some thinking—the kind you do when you have a mild concussion, I sang the Murmaids “Popsicles and Icicles” in my head over and over accompanied by the ringing in my ears. When I regained consciousness, the song was gone, but the ringing was still there. Mom was still unconscious and I wondered what was going on in her head—I bet it was Dean Martin’s “When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie.” Mom was such a romantic—maybe it was Tony Bennet. Anyway, I was going to make lunch. I could warm up last night’s tuna noodle casserole. Dad had to work late with his Secretary again last night, so there was plenty of food left. He is a pig and would have licked the bowl clean if he had been here. He has missed dinner every night and come home at 11 for nearly a year. Dad works so hard with his secretary for us and we love him.

Oh dear! I had forgotten about my little brother. He had been locked in his room for three days. Whoops! Better let him out! He was laying on the floor chewing on his shoe and eating the contents of his terrarium. I dragged him into the kitchen and fed him some casserole and gave him a glassful of red Kool Aid to drink. It looked like he’d be able to stand up again soon. Mom started to wake up and wanted a cigarette. I wanted one too. Even though I was only nine, I lit up two, and handed one to Mom. My little brother was coming back to life, and I felt pretty good about that, but not about anything else. Then it dawned on me: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going,” actually means that the “tough” leave—that they go some place else.

So, I left. I went to Las Vegas by bus. Everybody always told me I had a beautiful singing voice. I was singing on the street when Wayne Newton happened by. He found my parents and adopted me. I used my real name—Roy Orbison—and became a star. All the whining and crying I had done growing up attuned my vocal chords to hitting powerful chords of woe. I guess I am grateful to my family for that.

So, don’t forget “When the going gets tough, the tough get going out the door to a new and better life.”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve confused the cold weather cap, balaclava, with the sweet-honied Greek dessert baklava. “The robber was wearing a baklava over his face,” my police report said when I had witnessed a convenience store stick-up. I saw a knitted face-covering when I wrote it, and the police saw a face concealed by a sticky Greek pastry. When they caught the guy, he actually had some baklava on his face! He was coming out of the Greek restaurant that the police had staked out after reading my report. Come to find out, this guy was a notorious sticker-upper with an addiction to Greek desserts. This was one of those cases where a mistake led to a hoped for outcome—balaclava/baklava who could guess? My life-motto came out of this experience: “Just because you’re wrong doesn’t mean you’re not right.” It makes me feel good to say this to myself when I’m wrong. It makes me realize how contingent right and wrong are—I may be wrong today, but I may be right tomorrow. If I am willing to wait, my wrong may become my right!

Think about it! How wrong was Thomas Edison when he started figuring out how to “harness” electricity? First, he used a horse and buggy metaphor. Second, he didn’t wear a white lab coat when he first started his work. He actually used a small dog harness to get control of electricity. He would put the harness on a bell jar and yell “giddyap,” His assistant John Ott would drag the bell jar around the laboratory by its dog harness until it came loose or the jar broke. But eventually, he got it right. He had Ott put the bell jar over his head, bite down on a tin foil chewing gum wrapper, and go outside in a raging thunder and lightning storm. Ott was hit by a non-fatal lightning bolt that singed off his hair and mustache. Edison noted after what had happened, if he put a pin on top of Ott’s head, the pin would unerringly point north, and so would Ott. This should’ve been enough—inventing the human magnet—but Edison wasn’t satisfied. He wanted Ott to light up like a kerosine lamp. As an experiment, he placed a soup bowl on Ott’s blistered head, and filled the bowl with kerosine. He had Ott light the kerosine and it went up in flames. Edison blew out the lab’s lamps and Ott shone like a beacon of scientific proof. Edison had proven his headlight theorem. Now, it was time to harness electricity. He threw away the dog harness, and the harness metaphor, altogether. Now, he would use “bulb,” drawn from horticulture. Edison wrote, “The bulb produces energy, as you can see when a tulip pushes through the earth in spring. I will no longer use bell jars in my experiments. Instead, I will use bulb jars.”

And then it happened. Edison and Ott had had Chinese take-out for lunch. (Menlo Park, NJ was known for the quality of its Chinese cuisine.) As a joke, Edison stuck a bamboo skewer in a bulb jar and sealed it with sticky rice. “Watch this,” said Ott, and stuck a piece of sparking wire through the sticky rice too. The bulb jar lit up so brightly that Edison and Ott had to cover their eyes. “Eureka!” yelled Edison. “You smella,” yelled Ott, “Ha ha ha!” “Eureka! You smella! Ha ha ha!” they both laughingly said in harmony. From then on, the “bulb jar” was called the “light bulb.”

This story may be a little inaccurate, but it makes the point that what’s wrong may turn out to be right, and the other way around. Have you met up with somebody suffering from the vapors or hysteria? Have you seen a miasma lately? If you answered “Yes” to either or both of these questions, you may have been right a few hundred years ago, but not ant more. Go read an encyclopedia, or Google everything you believe. Also, read up on what it means to be out of touch with reality. Things change.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

I was panic-stricken. I kept hearing a scratching noise down in the basement. It would be quiet for about ten minutes, then it would start again, slow at first and then faster and faster until it abruptly stopped. I was running in circles in the living room with my fingers in my ears. But, my fingers couldn’t block the sound. I ran out my front door yelling for help. I yelled “There’s a scratching noise in my basement! Help! Help! Help me!”

My neighbor “Bad Eddie” came running out his front door holding some kind of pistol. He was a biker, a member of “The Killers” a motorcycle gang he had been in since Junior High when he first got his motorcycle license. Although the gang was called “The Killers” nobody in the gang had ever actually killed anybody. It was formed by Vietnam veterans in the mid-1960s, and Eddie’s main goal in life was to be the first “Killer” to kill somebody.

The scratching noise in the basement presented a great opportunity to kill somebody in self defense—an intruder lurking in the basement waiting to do me harm—maybe a serial killer, or just some angry person looking to vent their rage on a random homeowner. Exactly what Bad Eddie needed!

We went into the house. Bad Eddie yelled, “Ok. You go down first. I’m right behind you.” He had a gun and he wanted me to go first! What a bunch of bullshit. So, I turned on the basement lights and started down the stairs. Bad Eddie was about ten feet behind me. I heard the scratch! It got faster and faster and then it stopped. I looked in the dimly lit corner by the furnace. Omg! It was my crazy brother who ran away from home when he 10. Eddie asked: “Should I shoot him?” I told Eddie to “Go the “F” home.”

I had thought some random food was missing, along with a can opener, and a large soup spoon. Anyway, my brother was holding what looked like a belt buckle, and also a nail he was scratching the belt buckle with. It looked like he was scratching an “M” which is my first initial. My birthday was in two days and he was “engraving” the belt buckle for me! He said, “You can wear it to the rodeo.” I had no idea what he was talking about. I had never been to a rodeo, and I didn’t care—I was just so happy to see my brother after all these years! We had a lot to talk about, especially since he had been on his own since he was ten. He pulled a pile of small gold bars out of his backpack. “I am rich,” he said.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

Night and day. Day and night. Which came first? I don’t care. Or, put another way, what difference does it make? That’s the trouble with numbers. You can count with them, and that’s it. 1, 2, 3 blah blah. And now, with computers, everything can quantified, from the bullet hole in your arm, to the hat on your head. 1, 2, 3, blah blah. Counting can be a waste of time—if you have a bunch of beans to count, why not save some time and decide that you have “many” beans? You don’t count your problems, do you? Instead, you have “a lot” of problems.

Counting everything can lead to greed and excessive worry. You look at your bank account. It has a lot of money in it. The bank counts it and gives you statement reporting with a number the amount of money you have. You see that big number and you want a bigger number Now, you have entered the greedy zone. You have to have more, more, more. You start a real estate scam, you lie to the IRS, you lie to everybody so you can have more, more, more. Now you are all alone. Due to your constant lying, nobody knows who you are any more. You won’t even share your French fries at MacDonalds any more. You are alienated, alone, miserable, all because counting your money made you want more, more, more when you didn’t need it.

And then, there’s the anxiety. You look at your bank account and it says: “Balance, $63.00.” Your rent is due next week. You’re out food. You haven’t paid the utility bill. Your car payment is due tomorrow. Your student loan payment is due in two days, as is your credit card bill. Your phone bill is due today. You get paid $400.00 per week. It is barely enough to pay your bills, let alone, have a life. The crack you expect to fall through gets bigger every day.

Your job is no help. You can’t evade numbers there. You work for “Prestige Pies” making custom pies for the wealthiest people in the world. Some of the pies are named after their noteworthy accomplishments. There’s “The President,” “The FoxNews,” “The Tesla,” etc. At “Prestige Pie’s,” you’re paid by the piece: you get paid in accord with the number of pies you complete on your shift. Your philosophy degree is no good here—here, it’s make the dough fly or you’re fired.

When I talk about myself, it may be in measurable characteristics—shoe size, waist size, weight, head size, etc. We all know this goes nowhere when trying to give another person the means of getting to know you. “You” is a difficult concept to grasp, but it is best done without numbers. You are not your shoe size. You are unique and immeasurable. I learned this in college. When I realized I was not my stuff, it changed my life. I am immeasurable—that means you can’t quantify my being. I am unique, maybe my body is too.

So anyway, when Lawrence Welk used to say “A one, and a two, and a three” and the bubbles started to float from the bubble machine, and the polka music music started to play, it was magical. My sister and I would dance around our tiny living room. My father would yell, “Sit down, you’re blocking the TV.” We knew he was having trouble seeing the woman with the big boobs who was a regular on the show and sang romantic love songs. We would sit down, but we’d still tap our feet and rock back and forth.

Everything can be counted, but it is transformed in the counting, maybe into a collection, like Lawrence Welk’s accordions. But the members of a collection are unique and the same. Maybe unique in essence, but the same in name and number. A one, and a two, and a three.

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

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

He asked me what I was doing in a place like this. I told him I owned it and he told me he was from Yonkers. Then he told me the snow outside was beautiful. I told him he was full of shit and probably wanted to talk about his new living room furniture, or some thing like that. I asked him if he wanted a drink and he told me the bar stool was very comfortable. I asked him if he knew how to give a straight answer. “I could ask you for a job,” he said. I told him I might have a position. He told me he was lonely and wanted to spend time with me outside the bar, in the parking lot, in his car.

He was cute. Black hair, tall, thin, blue eyes, nicely dressed, trimmed beard. But I thought he was crazy—the way answered questions, or should I say, didn’t answer questions. I could imagine if I asked him if he loved me! What would he say? “I had fish ‘n chips for lunch.” But, he wants me to go out in the parking lot and get in his car with him! I am a little crazy, but I told him there was no way I would go outside with him to his car, besides, I was in charge of the bar and couldn’t leave it. I also told him I wouldn’t do anything like that with anybody anyway. I had a reputation to maintain at “Prima Donna’s” if I was to keep packing in the customers.

He told me he had a “relevance” problem that he picked up when he was working for the government. He was trained to give irrelevant answers to all question. This was for national security reasons. “Irrelevance” was a key tactic for maintaining secrecy and thwarting the United States’ enemies from obtaining sensitive information. Since he couldn’t tell who were friends and who were enemies, irrelevance soon became a ubiquitous feature of all of his speech. As a consequence he became alone and isolated, unable to build a conversational bridge between himself and everybody he met. All of his relationships ended in catastrophe after 10- or 15-minutes. Some ended worse than others. One time, a date he met on “Woo Woo!” asked him whether she should park in his driveway when she got to his house. His answer was “I had fried eggs.” At first she was confused, so she asked again. He said, “My dog’s name is Pete.” She became angry, pulled in the driveway, got out of her car and hurled the bottle of wine she had brought through the front door’s storm door window. He went running outside, shook his fist, and yelled “My tropical fish need feeding!” His date did a lawn job, peeling across his front yard, leaving two deep ruts and torn up grass behind her as she sped away. He chased her and ran into a stop sign on the corner of his street, doing $2,300 damage to his car, a used Tesla that he’d flown all the way from Massachusetts to California to buy.

Now he is in the process of trying to get disability compensation for his condition—for his “irrelevance syndrome.” The “Syndrome” it is, for all practical purposes, impossible to treat. First, there is no record of “irrelevance” being induced in any government employee, including CIA. Second, with his condition as it is, no progress whatsoever can be made, because everything he says is irrelevant to any questions that are asked by medical doctors and psychotherapists. He is best at angry monologues that are prompted by medical personnel sticking pins in his hands. But Still, although coherent, they are irrelevant—ranging from bird watching with his mother to watching “Magnum P.I.” reruns in bed.

A mild breakthrough has been made recently. Getting him drunk and giving him a pack of Marlboro 27s enable him to capture brief moments of relevance. For example, two days ago he was asked what two plus two equals. In a drunken voice, he said “I don’t know what for.” His use of the word “for” is a homophone for “four.” The Doctors and Psychotherapists say this is a clear bridge to relevance. They will be jointly authoring a research paper titled: “Building Bridges with Nicotine and Alcohol: The Case of Government Agent X.” Agent X is nearly always drunk and smokes three packs of cigarettes per day. I have taken pity on him and will be hiring him at Prima Donna’s. It is probably a stupid move, given his malady. I’m going to have him in work in the basement shining beer, wine, and liquor bottles. Maybe some day he’ll snap out of it and we meet in his car in the parking lot.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

“Bubble ball biscuits.” “Bouncing blobs of bratwurst”. “Blundering baloney bubbles.” This is food. Their recipes are published in the new cook book published by our overlords: “Eat It!” The recipes are required to be made and consumed, no matter how disgusting and inedible. The recipes are meant to induce “glowing health.” We are supposed to live longer and be more productive, working in the lithium mines and making batteries for our overlords’ mechanical devices, which we play a role in producing too. Earthlings have ceased producing any of the usual goods, we just mine Lithium and work in the factories making things that are for our overseers. They, in turn, supply us with food, shelter, and clothing. The “food” accords with “Eat It!” It all has clever names. This is because our overseers speak in alliterations, or even homoeopropophoron, where nearly every word in a sentence begins with the same consonant.

Tonight, everybody in the world is having “Dark Dough Doodle Donuts.” These we’re far better than most of the crap we’re forced to make and eat: you take 3 packages of ready-made biscuit dough and mix it with rye flour. Then, you roll it into a 3 foot long cylinder. Then, stretch it into a circle like a donut and place it on a cookie sheet. Sprinkle anchovies and cheese doodles on the encircled dough. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Bake for ten minutes. Remove from oven. Soak in hot chocolate. Garnish with 3 packets of strawberry Kool-Aid powder. Liquify in blender. Heat in microwave. Serve in soup bowls with black coffee on the side (optional).

Our overlords showed up 5 years ago. Hundreds of space ships landed all around the world. There was no defense against them. Nobody got hurt, but the world’s arsenals were destroyed, along with police weapons and personal weapons, including knives. Although people were still punching and kicking each other, and wrestling, there was peace on earth, if not goodwill toward men and women. This was a relief to the world’s population. But now we were slaves—all work a no pay. Our overlords also did something to women: they shortened the term of pregnancy to three weeks, and they made babies mature to the age of 18 in six months. This was done to ensure there would be a ready supply of people to work in the mines and factories. They also instituted the death penalty for anyone who complained more than three times about anything. There were CCTV surveillance sites all over the place; at least 8 cameras in every house, and every ten feet outside—on streets, sidewalks, and in public places, and stores too. But, we had peace on earth.

Our overlords all looked exactly the same—males looked like Perry Mason, females looked like Mason’s assistant Della Street. They had different sounding voices. I guess that’s what enabled them to tell each other apart. Once, I got a glimpse of an overseer without his Perry Mason suit. His body was like a broomstick with arms and tiny hands. His head was round like a pumpkin with different-colored lights blinking under his skin. His eyes were as big as yo-yos. His nose had one nostril, lined by what looked like pink ceramic. His mouth looked like an anus. It was red around the edges. I couldn’t see if he had any teeth. His feet were covered with spotted fur, sort of like a leopard. I was totally shocked and scurried away as quickly as I could. I went home and sat in the basement for the rest of the day. But, I thought, at least we have peace on earth.

Then, there was a pounding on my door. It was an overlord. He told me that I had been chosen to take a spaceship ride. I’d been designated “Slave of the Month” for my productivity on the battery manufacturing line. He put his hand on my forehead, and boom, we were in the rocket ship. I strapped in and we blasted off. I looked out the window and there was the world below. It bristled with rocket ships and there was smoke billowing out of the North Pole. Boom. We we’re back on Earth in two seconds.

I went directly home and heated up some leftover “Apple Adder Aspic.” It wasn’t that bad—it tasted like chicken. “Ha ha!” I thought, “That’s a joke.” Actually, it tasted like a fried diaper. I know that’s disgusting, but everything is disgusting—the food, the clothing, the shelter. I wake up on the floor in the morning and put on the same clothes I’ve been wearing for the past six months. I smell like elephant shit. My home is a wasteland—no electricity, no water. Just a battery-powered oven, battery-powered microwave, and battery-powered refrigerator the size of a small cardboard box. No heat. No air conditioning. I get my water out of the fountain in the park. My wife and children have disappeared.

“Oh well,” I thought, “At least we have world peace.”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

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

I was beginning to wonder why I wondered at all. If I answer my wonder’s call, as usual, I would go nowhere, get no answer, sit and stare, and eventually not care. I was determined to stop wondering, but as soon as I made the decision, I began to wonder. I couldn’t stop myself. I wondered about the weather. I wondered why my neighbor’s dog kept barking all the time. I wondered about snowflakes’ uniqueness. I even wondered about the price of tea in China! Then it hit me!

I had taken a philosophy course in college. Among others, we read Aristotle. I had just remembered a quotation from him that had relevance to my condition. Aristotle wrote: “Philosophy begins with wonder.” My endless wondering is the beginning of philosophy! I thought: if philosophy begins here, it is time to get started. I would write a philosophic dialogue featuring Plato and a gas-station mechanic. It is reprinted below.

The dialogue takes place in a gas station bay. There is a 1957 Chevy up on the lift. The garage mechanic is working on it. His name is Mr. Grunt. Plato has come to pick up his car, a robin’s egg blue 1960 Ford Thunderbird.

Plato: Hi Mr. Grunt. What are you doing?
Mr. Grunt: Hi Plato. I am replacing the muffler on this car.
Plato: Your tools look pretty nice.
Mr. Grunt: Yes, they are pretty nice.
Plato: Do you love them?
Mr. Grunt: Yes, I love them. They are bright and shiny and they enable me to make a living.
Plato: Do you have a wife?
Mr. Grunt: Yes. I love her and kiss her goodbye when I leave for work in the morning.
Plato: You have said you love your tools. Do you kiss them goodbye when you leave for home in the evening?
Mr. Grunt: No. I would never kiss my tools.
Plato: If you truly love your tools, you would kiss them, just as you kiss your wife, whom you truly love.
Mr. Grunt: Here are your car keys. Please pay what you owe me and leave.
Plato: Very well Mr. Grunt. Don’t forget to kiss your tools before you go home!
Mr Grunt: Kiss my ass.

The wonderings throbbing in my head are starting to abate. Now that I am a dialogue-writing philosopher, I can take on the Big Questions that have vexed me. Like, if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make sound? Or, what about the Cretan who tells us all Cretans are liars? Is he lying? Or, how many people make a band? Or, you can’t put your foot in the same river twice.

But I still wonder. I wonder why we fall in love. I wonder how many pickles make a clutch. I wonder where my blue sock is. I wonder why we use silverware. And of course: I wonder how much wood a woodchuck would chuck if he could chuck wood.

Tomorrow I will start writing a new philosophic dialogue between Plato and a police officer who pulled him over for doing 50 MPH in a school zone. I am thinking of having the police officer shoot Plato.

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Definition and commentary courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (


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


The door swung open, and I was finished coping, remaining calm and affecting aplomb in the face of the collective rancor of my employees. It was Christmas Day and they were working as I had dictated. But now, they had decided to give me a chance to let them go home. Rob Ratchet stepped out in front of the mob. He was a commie sympathizer who actually believed that employees had “rights.” “Let us be with our families on Christmas Day,” he whined. The mass of losers behind him started chanting “family at Christmas, family at Christmas,” inching toward me with clenched fists. I called my pal Elon and asked him what to do. He said “Fire them all Scooge. They’re all commies. They’ll pick your pockets and set up a day care center. The next thing you know, you’ll lose a billion dollars and look like fool. Marla will never marry a weak man!”

They were coming toward me arm-in-arm, still chanting. “Go ahead and ruin your lives you fools. You’re all fired!” I yelled as I locked myself in the bank’s vault. I would be safe and I would hire new employees the next day. There were plenty of spare unemployed people around who I could scoop up for $5.00 per day. Maybe this incident could benefit me. The profit margin would increase. I would be richer. Soon I would purchase a Tesla from my buddy Elon, at a “Good Friend” 25% discount.

It sounded like things had quieted down outside. I put my ear to the vault’s door—nothing. It was time to go. I tried 10 different combinations, but none of them worked, in fact, on my 12th try, the vault made a beeping sound and clicked loudly. It was the security override that rendered the lock inoperable for three days. I picked up the receiver to the emergency phone, and it was dead. I knew it was that damn commie Ratchet who had knocked it out. My cell phone wouldn’t work either—another regrettable security decision. There was nothing I could do except wait for three days, but even if I did, if I couldn’t remember the combination, I was still screwed. Fat chance, that Ratchet would let me out. I had fired him on Christmas Day. I never should’ve listened to Musk. He’s a monster. Then, I yelled “Let me the hell out of here!”

There was a flash of light and a loud farting sound that lasted a full 15-seconds. A live garden gnome about 7-feet tall suddenly appeared. I am Gil, your guardian garden gnome. I can knock down that door with one big gnome kick. I started crying and said “yes, yes, oh please, yes!” The gnome asked, “Do you know the sickly teller Tiny Slim? He will die without a job and the health insurance benefit it affords. He, like all your workers need a 25% pay raise just to properly feed, house and clothe their families.” I was adamant: “No, no, no! I am a man of business, not a clergyman!” The giant garden gnome disappeared with a lengthy fart and a flash of light. Somebody will save me, I thought.

Nobody did.


After complaints from customers, the bank was reopened, so was the vault. It had to be opened by 3 shaped charges of C-4. When the door blew open Scooge’s rotting corpse raised a smell. It prompted the emergency team to return to their truck for gas masks. When they got back to the vault, they rolled Scooge over. They were surprised to see a handful of 100 dollar bills hanging from his mouth. Evidently, starving, he tried to eat the money and choked to death on it.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

Rock and roll. It is a type of dance performed by adolescent males and females as a part of Western cultures’ mating rituals. Rock and roll also refers to the music accompanying and stimulating the ritual dancing. I was a teen-aged victim of rock and roll’s carnal allure, wiggling provocatively on the high school gym dance floor, trying to attract a mate to go steady with. Then, I noticed a girl wiggling in my direction. She was with a group of friends, but only she was wiggling. I ducked into the boys room to check my hair and the fake sideburns I started wearing after Elvis became popular. I used pomade to keep my hair in place. It was an elaborate curling swell, like a wave crashing down on my forehead at high tide. My hair was my salvation, it’s grandeur eclipsed all of my imperfections—my unibrow, my big feet, my acne, my big ears, my mole, my chubbiness. My hair took them all down—it was a beacon of coolness. It was a shining light showing the babes the way into my arms. At least, that’s what I imagined.

I went back out to the gym. “Leader of the Pack” was playing. I loved the motorcycle sound. I looked across the gym and she was gone. “Damn, if my hair wasn’t so high maintenance, maybe I could’ve met her, and possibly fallen in love,” I thought as I headed outside for a Lucky. Luckies we’re my brand—l.s.m.f.t.—Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco. Back then, you could buy smokes when you were 12 and they only cost 25 cents a pack. I lit up and looked down the sidewalk. There she was smoking what looked like a Marlboro. I gave my curl a little twist and walked down the sidewalk toward her. She took a big drag on her smoke, smiled, and blew the smoke in my face. I choked on her smoke and she said “What’s the matter baby? Can’t you take it?” I laughed my tough guy laugh and asked her “Were you wiggling at me back in there?” “What if I was, baby?” She asked, and slowly licked her lips. This made me crazy.

I threw down my cigarette and shook my head a little—it was like my hair was sweet-talking her, saying “be my little baby, my only baby.” The girl heard my hair and stepped closer to me. Then, suddenly a gust of wind blew my hair askew. It was like the girl awakened from a trance. She stepped back and looked at me with her nose curled up like I smelled. She threw her cigarette on the ground and angrily said “You’re one of those hair boys my mother told me about.—all hair, no soul. You worship rock and roll.” “It’s not like that baby, my hair is just a hobby of mine like my electric trains or doing picture puzzles. I just finished the Grand Canyon yesterday. Intellectually challenging.”

She calmed down and asked me my name: “Roger” I said. She told me her name was Betsy. The wind had died down. I knew as soon as I got my hair back in place, that she would be mine, all mine. I stepped behind a tree and pulled out my tortoise shell comb and pocket mirror. I worked my hair like pasta primavera—tossing it vigorously. When I got to the wave I said the “Hair Prayer” and, gently twisting the comb, resurrected the shining wave. When I popped out from behind the tree she looked at me and walked slowly toward me. “Hair we go!” I thought as she neared me. Then, another gust of wind flattened my wave. The spell was broken for the second time. “Ewwww” said Betsy as she turned and headed back to the gym.

I had to get something more powerful to hold my hair in place. I heard there was an old bearded man in the park selling “Rock Juice.” Supposedly, it would harden your hair in place like a rock. I bought some and tried it. It hardened my hair all right, but it was made from clear lacquer diluted with turpentine. I should’ve known when I smelled it, but I was in a hurry to try it out. My parents had my head shaved, so did a lot of others whose sons had tried “Rock Juice.” Now, the shaved head look has caught on, especially since Yul Brenner shaved his head for “The King and I.” I saw Betsy again and she asked if she could rub my head.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

The roof was pitched almost straight down. Sent, I was, by my family to put up Christmas decorations for the upcoming holiday. It was November 15th. Early, to say the least, for a holiday arriving on December 25th. Every year, I do this under protest. At least there’s no snow yet, but it is very cold. At least I won’t be sliding to my death, just freezing my ass off. Once again, I have two bushel baskets of lights that I duct tape to the chimney so I can string them as I pull and they come uncoiled from the baskets. I must say, the baskets were a brilliant idea, in fact, I was thinking of contracting somebody to manufacture the baskets and sell them full of lights. But now, it was time to hang the lights. Ten years ago, I had put screws into the house’s gutters to hang the lights from,

Up the ladder I go with one basket and the roll of duct tape. I crawl up the roof dragging the basket. I tape it to the chimney. I scootch back down the roof to the ladder, climb down it, grab the second basket of lights and climb back up. I crawl up the roof and start to tape the basket to the chimney. Somehow, my cat has managed to get up onto the roof. There’s a tree branch that hangs over the roof. He probably climbed the tree and jumped off the branch onto the roof. He wanted to play. He kept batting at the tape and trying to pull it away from my hand. He managed, somehow, to do it. The tape rolled down the roof and lodged in the gutter. Now, I had to crawl down to retrieve it. I leaned the basket on the chimney and started down. The cat jumped in the basket and started biting the lights and shaking his head. Grabbing the whole string of lights, he jumped out of the basket, and dragged the lights across the eave of the house. The basket came free and rolled down the roof. It came directly at me. It hit me in the butt and knocked me off the roof. I landed on the huge inflatable Santa I had installed earlier. I bounced off, and hit the ground hard, I was knocked unconscious, but at least, due to Santa, I wasn’t dead.

In my unconsciousness, I had a vision of me murdering the cat. We were in ancient Egypt, where cats were venerated. I was going to take the cat out behind a pyramid and bury him up to his neck in sand and let nature take its course. The cat was bound in Christmas lights. I didn’t have a shovel, so I was digging with my hands. My cat said, “Come on, it was an accident man. It was like my cat nature cut loose. If you hadn’t left that limb over the roof, it never would’ve happened.” “Oh, typical cat bullshit. Go ahead, blame it on me,” I said. Just then the Pharaoh came around the corner to take a leak behind the pyramid. “What’s this?” he asked when he saw the cat. I told him the cat had tried to murder me. When he finished peeing he said, “Let him go. He was just being a cat.” Then I woke up.

I could hear the air hissing out of Santa. The cat was sitting on my chest doing his clawing-kneading thing. As usual, it hurt. I said “Ow,” but I didn’t push him away. I was going to saw the limb off the tree tomorrow and finish stringing the Christmas lights.

Santa had saved my life. I was grateful. My cat was a different story.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

Tomato onion. Onion tomato. onion, onion, onion. Tomato onion, tomato, tomato, tomato. Thank god they were cherry tomatoes. The blender was stuffed full, loaded! Soon, I will liquify these little babies. Babies? There I go again. Liquified babies? Oh my god. The image was taking root in my brain, in my mind. Oh words! I say it, I see it, and I can say anything, and I can see anything. And then the terror, disgust, and tears, or the excitement, the freedom, and joy as my mind’s vision manifests itself in the material world. I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I am certain if I talked about this in casual conversation, I would be straight-jacketed and led away. But this, what I am writing now, is the only existing record and confession of the trajectory of my mental disrepair.

It started with desire—with wanting everything good that passed by my senses. The wanting was so intense and bizarre, it was like I wanted a dentist drilling into my head: the hot bit poking into my skull. I would pound on my head to make the drilling feeling go away. I started drinking. Copious amounts of vodka would push the unpleasant feeling out of my head. The world was a blur and I didn’t care. But the cost was high, as high as I was. I lost my job at the waxworks when I put Barbara Streisand’s nose on President Biden and knocked over Al Gore and stepped on his leg and snapped it off at the knee. I lost my home. I lost my car. I lost my family. I lost my cat Scruffles. I lost everything, as well as my desire for anything. Then, it started creeping back. I was laying on the ground in the park after a rough night wrapped in a tablecloth I had found. I saw a pint of vodka in my head. There was a popping sound, and suddenly, there was an unopened pint of vodka in my hand. I imagined a suitcase filled with $100 bills. There was a popping sound, and suddenly there was a suitcase full of money laying there next to me. I imagined a mansion. There was a popping sound and I was sitting on a couch in front of a blazing fire, in my mansion. I imagined new clothes and a beautiful woman, and pop, pop, there they were. It was like my head had turned into a magic lamp—I got what I wished for. But then I found out that I got what I didn’t wish for too. That night I had a nightmare. I was being chased by a bear. I woke up yelling “No, no!” The beautiful woman asked me what was wrong. “There’s bear in the room!” I screamed. She disappeared and the bear lunged at me. Just as he was going to tear out my throat he turned into the sales associate from ACE Hardware. And then, there I was. It was daytime and I was at ACE Hardware. I had just bought 2 rolls of packing tape and the sales associate was handing them to me in a little bag, along with the receipt.

I figured I was seriously brain-damaged from all the booze. I went to see a controversial doctor, Dr. Brightly, whose methods were questioned by the AMA and who was always on the verge of losing his license to practice medicine. I told him I had brain problems, not wanting to be explicit about the complete craziness of my condition. He pulled out a fly swatter and hit my three times on the top of my head, like he was anointing me. “Don’t think about it,” he said. So, trusting him, I took his advice. I began practicing meditation; the “School of Empty Head.” I have my bouts, but when I do, no matter where I am, I sit cross-legged and empty my head. The meditation exercise is like flushing the toilet.

It has been difficult writing this account of my condition, and now, I can go back to liquifying my health drink. I think I hear a baby crying in the sink. Time to meditate!

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

I found my charger cable. I found my sock. I found my wallet. I found my passport. I found them all underneath my cat’s bed, in a corner, on the living room floor. I had flipped the bed over by accident when I was pushing it with my foot because it was in the way of my bookcase’s bottom shelf. That’s where I kept my copy of “Sleeping in the Light: Iceland, Steam, and Lava.” I had been to Iceland on vacation every year for the past five years. I loved the beauty of the razor-sharp lava fields, the giant natural hot tubs, and the delicious barbecued Minke sandwiches.

As I looked at my belongings on the floor, I couldn’t imagine how my cat could’ve put everything under his bed, let alone carry them there. I was getting ready for my annual trek to Iceland, and thought that, as crazy as it seemed, my cat was trying to thwart my vacation plans. With the exception of the sock, the stuff hidden under his bed was critical to my travel. Without my wallet or passport, I was finished. With no charger chord, I would be inconvenienced. The sock had been missing for a year. It was irrelevant. I would catch him! I would set up CCTV in the living room and my bedroom and review the recordings every morning. I put everything back the way it was so my cat would not be suspicious. He hadn’t come out of the basement for two days, at least, as far as I knew. This wasn’t unusual. My guess was, he was coming up at night to do his dirty work. His empty food dish told me that.

My guess was confirmed the next morning when I reviewed the recordings. My fingernail clippers were missing from the little dish on my dresser. My mother had given them to me when I was 12 and I had developed an attachment to them and an obsession with clipping my nails. The nail clippers went with me wherever and whenever I travelled. I had had them gold-plated and a gold jump ring added. I wore them on a gold chain. They were missing.

There on the recording was my cat sneaking into my bedroom, jumping up on my dresser, and grabbing the nail clippers in his mouth. The clip from the second camera shows him in the living room pushing his head under his bed, dropping the clippers, slowly backing away, and then, curling up in his bed. I was astounded, and at the same time, wanted to figure out what to do. Why did he decide to do this when I was getting ready for my 6th Iceland trip, when he had never done it before? Maybe he was finally fed up with having to stay with my sister. She has five children who probably taunt Him. I decided to take everything (but the sock) back from under under his bed.

The first night, he took my passport again. The cat was persistent. So, as a typical cat owner, I decided to take him with me on my next trip. The process was convoluted, culminating in a 14-day quarantine at the airport. I sat him down on the kitchen island, at eye level, and told him what I was going to do. His tail shot up like a pillar of fur, signifying his happiness. Over the next few days he returned everything to its rightful place. We started working on leash training, and he quickly mastered walking on a leash. I filled out all paperwork from Iceland for his “pet passport.” I was allowed to keep him in the airplane’s cabin during our flight. I got him a “Cat Caliph” pet carrier. If he touched a mouse-faced button on the carrier’s side, the floor rolled back revealing a special travel litter box that could be used with no odor, or cleaning, for one week. I filled my backpack with “10,000 Salmon Heads” kitty treats. For the most part The cate would ride on my lap, sleeping and looking out the window.


We had a wonderful trip. The cat made many friends. When it got close to time to leave, my passport went missing. I looked under The cat’s bed in our hotel room and there it was.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

I was in India for the fist time. I am a salesman, not quite door to door, but close. I sell a chewable drug called “Faster!” It it popular with manufactures who want to influence workers’ nimbleness and manual dexterity, moving their hands rapidly to assemble whatever it is they are assembling. The faster they move, the more product is made in a shorter period of time. Workers dosed with Faster! have been shown to increase their output by 12-18% over peers not taking Faster! The laws are so lax here, and corruption so rampant, that it is permissible to lace workers’ food or beverages with Faster! without their knowledge. The company I am meeting with today manufactures bondage balls and small three-function flashlights. Their name is Gagflash Products Ltd. The CEO is taking me on a tour of the plant, with a special emphasis on their quality control operation. I’ve seen videos of their bondage ball testing on BDSM internet sites—including the premier site titled “Owy,” and, of course, “Belt, Welt, and Candle,” the very first BDSM site on the internet..

It was early in the morning but it was steamy hot already. It was 8.00am and I needed a cold beer already to lower my temperature and make me feel a little better. I guzzled my beer like a schoolboy, and had two more for good measure. The hotel doorman motioned that my cab had arrived. I was feeling no pain. My driver held the cab’s door open for me and I jumped in. Off we went. We rode for about ten minutes when I realized I hadn’t told him where I was going. I asked him if he knew the way to Bombay. He said “Yes, Mumbai.” I said, “No, Bombay.” He said, “Yes, yes. Mumbai, Mumbai.” I said, “Let me out you idiot. I’ll find somebody else to drive me.” I was feeling no pain. He said, “Sir this is very dangerous here.” I said, “Look, I grew up in Newark, New Jersey. Stop the goddamn cab and let me out.” I got out. The cab took off. I tripped on the sidewalk and nearly fell down. I pulled out my phone to call the hotel to have them send me another cab, but there was no cellphone service. I went up to a guy to see if he knew where I could find a phone. He reached out and dropped a small snake down my shirt and motioned like he wanted to box or wrestle. Luckily, my shirt was untucked and the snake slid down and out the bottom of it. It hit the ground, and then, slithered up the guy’s pant leg. The guy put away his fighting pose, pulled a cellphone from his pocket and waved it over his head, taunting me as he walked away.

Now I heard some dirge-like singing. I saw five men in a circle coming toward me. They were wearing American football helmets painted pink and decorated with images of striped hyenas. They were dressed in see-through togas and Gucci loafers. I didn’t know whether to laugh or run. Unfortunately, I laughed. As they came closer, they opened their circle and scooped me up, closed the circle, and kept on going and chanting. I tried, but I couldn’t escape from the circle. We stopped in front of a wall with a gate. There was a poster picture of Jerry Lewis affixed to the gate. The gate opened. We went inside. There was a little man who was, despite the heat, sitting on a giant couch in a a yellow onesie with blue cuffs. He took a look at me and said to the circle of men “He’ll do.” I asked what was going on and got no answer. I looked around. There were cheap plaster faces of terrified-looking men lining the wall. The little man said, “Soon you will become the final face, completing the pantheon of WOES arrayed on the Wall of Desolation devoted to The Great Bummer. Go take a bath and prepare yourself.” As I was led to the bath I noticed a bucket of plaster of paris. Then it hit me: My face would be pushed into the bucket. I was going to drown. I was going to die. Then, I heard a commotion and yelling. It sounded like my cab driver! He burst into the bath with an AK-47 ready to make some woe of his own. We fled back to the cab and took off. “Why did you come back?” I asked. He told me he felt very bad for dropping me where he knew I would have trouble. He wanted to make amends. I asked him how he found me. He told me the crazy snake man who I had encountered saw the cult members take me away, and told him where the cult’s headquarters was. My cab driver pulled his AK-47 from under the cab’s seat, broke through the gate, and saved me.

I thanked him profusely and told him I would buy clothes for myself and give him a $25 reward when we got to Bombay. He said, “Oh that is wonderful. Yes, yes, yes! When we get to Mumbai!”

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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Hysteron Proteron

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

Tick-tock had started going tock-tick. The end became the beginning and the beginning became the end. The finish was the start, and the start was the finish. I felt like a tumbleweed tumbling through outer space. I was a mystery choking on clues. I was fake, then I was real. Now I am a corn dog propped in my swivel chair in front of my computer screen waiting for instructions from the Apposphere where the APP of APPs—the overlord of all computer applications—has started melding all computer APPs into the Uberapp: a seamless representation of difference that imperceptibly combines all contexts of cyber-experience into a single streaming horizon consisting of everything-all-at-once: everything—Google earth, Microsoft Word, the weather, PDF, Layer, Wordscape: 100s of thousands of vantage points, unknowable as such, singular in their consumption, merged and experienced as one: the Uberapp.

As I stared at the screen I could feel my next metamorphosis beginning. It was always a surprise. Just as I was getting used to being a corn dog, I felt the rumbling. I could see my reflection in the screen, and I felt my stick being pulled away. My corn meal crust started to crack revealing my pulsing hot dog glowing a sickly yellow-green beneath. My hot dog skin started to tear, as if it was giving birth—and it was! A flat head emerged—it had my face. Oh my God. It was a gingerbread man version of me. Suddenly, I was the gingerbread man hopping out of the torn hot dog skin and growing into a me-sized cookie. Thank God I was flexible.

I ran downstairs to tell my parents how insane the world had become. They were sitting in their chairs in the living room, laptops open on their laps: a gingerbread man and a gingerbread woman tangled in the Uberapp. They smelled really good—like Old Spice soap. “What is it son?” my mother asked. “Oh nothing. We’ve all just turned into gingerbread people, that’s all.” My mother sniffed her armpit and said, “I certainly smell like gingerbread.” I grabbed a small hand mirror from the bathroom and held it in front of my mother’s face. “See? You’re made out of gingerbread! Admit it!” My gingerbread father grabbed the mirror and looked in it. He asked, “Son, you’re going over the edge again. Take your medication!” I had taken my medication: it was the Uberapp taking over the construction of realty—my parents were in denial. They were gingerbread, and they couldn’t, or didn’t want to, see it. Then I felt the transformational rumbling in my gut again.

“”Now what?” I asked myself as the rumbling intensified. I was puffing up and fleshing out! I had skin. I had clothes. I was me again! There was a lingering trace of gingerbread smell in the living room, but Mom and Dad were restored to humans too. I ran up to my room and Googled “Uberapp.” My computer made a humming sound and displayed FU over and over again. I looked at my cellphone, and it was the same there. I tried to call my friend William, and it went to voicemail with the greeting saying “FU” over and over in a synthetic voice. Clearly, it was the end of the world. Maybe we would all be turned into loaves of bread or canned gravy.

There was one person I could think of who might be able to help save the world. Professor Cane. He had been fired from the local community college by ultra conservative politicians for his unorthodox computer science theories. For example, he taught that the “Matrix” is a work of fiction. When he was fired, he purchased a government surplus missile silo in North Dakota where he currently resides. I had tried to call him, but he doesn’t have a phone. I couldn’t find him on the internet, so ZOOM or Skype were out of the question. So, I had to take a bus to North Dakota. When I arrived in Bismarck, I took a cab to his lair, and he met me at the hatch cover, demanding to know who I was and why I was there. When I told him, we took the silo’s elevator down to his living quarters. He handed me a tin foil hat to wear for “protection.” Then he said: “You want to save the world? Turn off your phone and your computer. Doing so will starve the Uberapp to death.” I asked him about the rest of the world. He said “I don’t know. Now, get out of here and go to your gingerbread home, whoops, I mean, your cozy happy home.” “Gingerbread! What do you mean? How do you know? Are you working for the Uberapp?” Then, I passed out. When I awoke, I was on the bus headed back home. There was an envelope duct-taped to my coat. The letter inside it said, “Do what I told you to do. It will trigger a virus that will wipe out the Uberapp and save the world. It is up to you. I am banned from Cyberspace. Sincerely, Professor Cane.” I had to trust the Professor. What choice did I have? Just then, the bus began to morph into a four-wheeled Twinkie.

Time was running out.

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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

After eating pigeon wing jerky at my daughter’s birthday party, I decided to write a cookbook containing our mother’s other recipes—recipes that were expressions of her mild insanity as they were the dishes she put on the table night after night. They were all her favorites, but we hated them but, under fatherly duress, I stuffed the dishes down anticipating racing my sister and father to our single toilet later in the evening—either to vomit or manage a bout of diarrhea. Mom was so proud that she had made up all the recipes herself. She was an orphan and had nobody to teach her cooking, and she was afraid that published cookbooks would make us “just like everybody else.” I never understood what the big deal was, but like I said, she was mildly insane. She did a lot of things that made no sense, like skipping around our cramped apartment and shaving a zig-zag line down the middle of her head, and continuing the line in lipstick down her forehead to the end of her nose. Sometimes Dad would call me and my sister into the living room for a “reminder.” He’d be sitting there in his big chair, spinning his revolver’s loaded cylinder: “Don’t say anything to anybody about your mother’s special habits, or I’ll kill you.” So we kept them secret. Dad died last week, but Mom is still going strong. So, that’s part of the reason I can collect Mom’s recipes into a cookbook—I’m not afraid of being shot by Dad anymore. After Mom was taken to the nursing home “ The Final Countdown,” I rummaged around in the kitchen to see if she left any recipes for her cooking. I found at least 100 written on sticky notes, stored in an empty taped-shut crayon box and hidden behind a half-gallon jug of Mr.Boston gin tucked away under the sink..

I have taken the liberty of publishing one of her recipes here. The entire collection will be titled “Dead Men Walking.” I think the title captures the seemingly lethal intent of Mom’s cooking. Be prepared, it is shocking and disgusting. I can’t believe I’m doing this, but the truth must be told.

“Whole Croaked Frog”

One night we sat down to dinner and things seemed different. Then, I realized it was the quiet. Usually, the 100s of frogs in the neighboring swamp incessantly croaked and interfered with our ability to carry on a decent conversation. Tonight, they were relatively quiet, and we talked about a bunch of things. I found out my sister’s name is Betty and that we lived in a town called Chester. I was thrilled. Mom’s muddy boots were parked by the front door.


1 pillowcase full of live frogs, 1 bucket swamp water, 1 doz. red onions, 5 cloves of garlic, coarse salt, stewed prunes, baking chocolate


Beat frogs to death with small claw hammer and leave carcasses to soak overnight in swamp water. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Pour frogs and quarter-bucket of swamp water into roasting pan. Place frogs in a circle in a sitting posture, surround with 12 onions, 5 garlic cloves and 2 handfuls of stewed prunes. Sprinkle on 50 pinches of coarse salt. Place whole bar of baker’s chocolate in middle of encircled frogs. Bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and decorate with fresh cattails. Eat with hands like corn on the cob. Mmmmm! Disgustingly delicious.


“Whole Croaked Frog” made me sick for three days, I had a fever and the doctor thought I might have typhus. This was normal. But like I said, I was afraid of being shot by my father if I said anything. I had said something once after I choked and he shot at me and he missed. I never said anything again.

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

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Inter se pugnantia

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

He stood there in front of our friends trying to convince them to become vegetarians—blabbing on about slaughterhouses and cow farts, Tex came off as a true believer in meat’s right to die of old age instead of being butchered and eaten by people, slopping their bread in the sentient being’s warm blood, calling it “juices” to make it less disgusting, or not disgusting at all. Tex would pound his fist on the table, making the salt and pepper shakers dance, and making the meat eaters tremble, knives and forks almost vibrating in their hands. Tex was a powerful presence in the fight against meat’s consumption—against the protein-stuffed gluttons populating Western Democracies, and ruining the world. There were militant vegetarians gathering around Tex’s words. There was a bovine liberation movement brewing.

Then, I had dinner with Tex. He ordered Sweetbreads, Porterhouse Steak, and liver and onions, and a side order of pickled oxtails. Tex told me the only things on the menu for “sissy” vegetarians were mashed potatoes, bread and ice water. He laughed like he thought he was being funny. His behavior blew me into another galaxy. I couldn’t speak. I was angry. I was shocked. But more than anything, I was confused. As the foremost proponent of vegetarianism in the northeast US, he was also a meat-man: hacking away at the dead things steaming on his dinner plate, forking bite-sized chunks into his mouth, chewing them with his mouth open, and swallowing them down into his horrible stomach. An undeniable betrayal of everything he says he stands for. What a liar!

My bread and potatoes were delivered to the table just as I was about to say something to Tex. I asked the waiter to bring me a glass of water and was about to dig in when Tex lifted his fork over his head and stabbed in into our table. “I see that look on your face,” he yelled so loud that other diners looked at us. ‘It says, hypocrite, liar, despicable human being.’ He told me he has a rare disease that forces him to eat meat or die. It is called “veganomilymeatanemia.” It afflicts people born on airplanes, the back seats of taxis, and cruise ships. It is so rare, that basically no body knows about it. He said, “I was born on a Carnival cruise ship off the coast of Freeport. Before I was diagnosed, I almost died. My mother thought she was doing me a favor by feeding me solely strained carrots and peas. I was thin and had hair growing out of my nose. One day, my mother was taking me on a walk in my stroller. We passed a street vendor selling kabobs. I smelled the grilling meat and went wild. I struggled violently against my stroller’s restraints, freeing myself, and escaping to the pavement. I bit my mother when she tried to pick me up. I broke a record for the five-foot crawl and pounded on the vendor’s stand with one hand, while I pointed to my mouth with the other. The vendor understood me and came around front with a cooked beef cube between his fingers. I grabbed the meat and stuffed into my mouth. The second the juices ran down my throat, I felt stronger and the hair fell out of my nose. Meat saved my life.”

I listened compassionately to his story. It was a lot to digest. He begged me to keep his secret so he could continue to fight the good fight for vegetarianism. I agreed, but still there were a lot of anomalies I needed to iron out. It was time to go. A limo pulled up out front and Tex got into it. It had Texas license plates that said MEAT, huge steer horns mounted on the hood, and a horn that made a mooing sound when it summoned Tex outside.

Like I said, I had a lot of second thoughts. I couldn’t find Tex’s disease on Google. Was he a spy? Why did he invite me to eat with him? Why did he confide in me? Why was there a man wearing a cowboy hat following me?

Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (

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