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LATEST EXHIBITS, deeds and chores:

(not including endless work on Froissart, proofreading, misunderstanding tech stuff, vexatiae [sic], and including some odd bits of humor and pith from authors much older than me that strike my fancy and often make me smile — so you may, too.)

December 26, 2010. Typed yesterday, and proofed today, my Christmas present for all you who visit this page for puns! And for a few drops of joy, to add to the season, if you want or need them. Get your smiles where and when you can, I always say. Here's "A Pennyworth of Puns," by Reverend David Macrae.

Also, 10 more chapters of Froissart are now online as well, (not proofed): Chapters 70-79, from Book IV, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries.

December 22, 2010. The medieval French story of Asseneth, or Asenath (a Biblical legend from the Apocrypha) is online, and proofed: De L’Ystoire Asseneth,” from Nouvelles Françoises en prose du XIVe Siècle, publiée d’après les manuscrits avec une introduction et des notes, par MM. L. Moland et C. D’Hericault.

One of the first English translations of this old story, is already on this site: “The Story of Asenath,” from Old-World Love Stories from the Lays of Marie de France & other Mediæval Romances & Legends, translated from the French by Eugene Mason, Illustrated and Decorated by Reginald L. Knowles.

Also, the last two chapters are online and proofed (without pictures), of Paris: Its Sites, Monuments and History, by Maria Hornor Lansdale, 1898:

Chapter XI: The Revolution, The Consulate, and the First Empire., and
Chapter XII: Paris in the Nineteenth Century.

My ami, Bernard Brumberg, from Paris, tells me that one of his favorite buildings in Paris is the Place de Vosges, whose construction and transition through the ages are well documented in Lansdale's book. He and his friends meet there often, in their spare time.

In good Bernard's first career, he was a professional photographer, and some of his excellent pictures taken during the 1960's, can be seen on his site: BernardBromberg.org, including much on Johnny Hallyday, the French iconic equivalent of Elvis Presley, although he is still living and still rocking. Halleyday lives incognito in California when he is not performing. The English translation on Hallday, which is an iffy machine-translated version, is here, with the original French here.

An example of a perfectly onomatopoietic name for an epoch can be learned from Bernard's page. Our boring name "The Sixties," far more descriptively, naturally, is called the "yéyé" period, by Frenchmen: translated "Yeah-Yeah." Obviously and perfectly, the "très logique" French picked the hottest word, to name this time: e.g. from the Beatles: "She loves you, yé, yé, yé. . . " Get it?

In case you were wondering, I met Bernard, (who chats with me and forgives my miserable French), because of a page on his site about Helene Vacaresco, a folklorist and diplomat, which was the only online account of this woman at that time. This brief but cogent article was written by Bernard's wife, Cleopatra Lorintiu. She is a radio and television personality, as well as a journalist, of some note in France.

Vacaresco's collection of the old popular songs from 19th century Rumania, has been translated into English by a Queen of Rumania, Carmen Sylva, which is online on Elfinspell: The Bard of the Dimbovitza, Roumanian Folk-Songs Collected from the Peasants, by Hélène Vacaresco, translated by Carmen Sylva and Alma Strettel.

My fantasy is that Bernard will take some more pictures of the old buildings still around in 21st century Paris, to continue the work of Lansdale. It's a lot to ask from a pen-pal though.

December 16, 2010. Two more chapters are online and proofed (without pictures), from Paris: Its Sites, Monuments and History, by Maria Hornor Lansdale, 1898:

Chapter IX: Louis XIV., and
Chapter X: Louis XV.

And 10 more chapters of Froissart are now online as well, (not proofed): Chapters 60-69, from Book IV, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries.

Now, for a very tricky francophilic play on words. I did not get this the first million times I read it, and it finally struck me today (although clever, it is not all that amusing). Hint — . . . . . Never mind, forget a hint! Why should I make it easy on you? From 700 Limerick Lyrics, p. 121:

A witty chap full of bon mots
Went often to vaudeville shots;
     When he sat and talked back
     Till, chagrined with his slack,
The boss led him out by the nots.

December 5, 2010. In honor of this site,which is a key example of the subject taken up in this book: "A Pennyworth of Blunders," by Reverend David Macrae. Despite his diligence and eagle-eye, he has two typos of his own that appeared in his little book. This was quite consoling to me, when there are so very many typos on these pages. Oddly, there is actually a town called Typo, Kentucky. I wonder why?

However, intentional typos are my joy and delight. They are the theme in my favorite sort of limericks, which reflect the head-scratching puzzle of pronouncing many proper names, and also serve as an aid to the proper pronunciation. Here's an example, from 700 Limerick Lyrics, p. 46:

A gallant young man of Duquesne
Went home with a girl in the ruesne;
     She said, with a sigh,
     "I wonder when Igh
Shall see such a rain-beau aguesne."

Twenty more unproofed chapters of my friend John are up: Chapters 40-49, and Chapters 50-59, from Book IV, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries.

October 27, 2010. More U.S. History up: flag-waving, typically flowery period propaganda, with some decent primary source stuff thrown in: The sketch on the maligned Major-General Thomas Conway, by the anonymous author of the "American Biography," with short bios of the leading lights of the American Revolution.

Plus, I did proof (finally) the sketch of the early American statesman, Richard Henry Lee, from the same book.

When some of us whine about how hard it is to learn all the conjugations of verbs in other languages, we forget how often it happens in English. But it could be worse! An example, from 700 Limerick Lyrics, p. 34, (op.cit.):

The teacher a lesson he taught,
The preacher a sermon he praught,
     The stealer he stole,
     The heeler he hole,
And the screecher he awfully scrought.

October 21, 2010. Three more chapters are online and proofed (without pictures), from Paris: Its Sites, Monuments and History, by Maria Hornor Lansdale, 1898:

Chapter VI: The Medicean Period,
Chapter VII: Paris Under Henry IV.,
Chapter VIII: The Seventeenth Century, From 1610-1661.

I recently discovered that the joke my buddy Ryan told me was not an original. It seems that it was on a Laffy-Taffy wrapper or something. He was only six at the time and I don't think he knew that I was going to put it up here and credit him with authorship. The joke by Destiny is original however.

For Destiny and Ryan, here's a story from Norway (which is close to Finland): The Pancake from Tales from the Fjeld, A Series of Popular Tales from the Norse of P. Ch. Asbjörnsen, by Sir George Dasent, D.C.L.

It's easy enough for you to read to Destiny and Liisa, Ryan. Maybe Liisa will know if the story made its way to Finland. Why don't you ask her about that? In a little while, I'll find something from this book that Destiny can read to you!

For the north-eastern pickling kinfolks, via Chicago: a few limericks, from 700 Limerick Lyrics, A Collection of choice Humorous Versifications, selected and arranged by Stanton Vaughn, New York: Frank Vernon & Co., 1906, p. 69:

A vessel has sailed from Chicago
With barrels of pork for a cargo;
     For Boston she's bound,
     Preceded, I've found,
By another with beans from near Fargo.

A canner, exceedingly canny,
One morning remarked to his granny:
     "A canner can can
     Anything that he can,
But a canner can't can a can, can he?"

October 11, 2010. Ten more chapters of Froissart are online: partially proofed, naturally. Chapters 30-39, from Book IV, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries.

October 3, 2010. My second W. S. Gilbert favorite is up: The Yarn of the "Nancy Bell", by Sir William Schwenck Gilbert, from the Bab Ballads, including the Songs of a Savoyard.

Ten more semi-proofed chapters of Froissart, too! Chapters 20-29, from Book IV, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries.

September 12, 2010. Another from the "And-You-Thought-It-Was-Just-Big-Banks Department" (although that industry forms one of the many tentacles, of both of the businesses here mocked: religion and crime.) — For Roger Pearse, here's a brilliant spoof from a countryman of his, a hysterically funny poem, by the second half of the Gilbert and Sullivan comic opera duo: Gentle Alice Brown, by Sir William Schwenck Gilbert.

September 12, 2010. From the: "And-You-Thought-It-Was-Just-Big-Banks Department." — I am not a fan of modern agents, modern publishers, or modern critics. The reason there is no world peace is exemplified by the way big business treats artists. And also by the sad, sad fact that the rare artists that do succeed then take that first step into perpetual sycophancy once they're published. They become the necessary cogs that condone and propagate the whole nasty business: they do nothing to change the process, and then rally around in support of the business that brutalizes the other luckless artists, by consenting, contributing, and catering to the "industry standards" of the bullies. Everybody suffers from the ethical standards of the media industry: the published, and the unpublished, as well as the public, whose tastes they modify, patronize, dismiss, ignore and/or pander to. The world of academic publishing is included under this stark, black umbrella.

Naturally, the process has gone on for a long, long time. One example, a primary source (so to speak), proving that publishers have been beastly to artists for at least 100 years, is this parody by Gelett Burgess, the author of the well-loved The Purple Cow:

The Purple Cow


I never saw a Purple Cow,
I never hope to see one;
But I can tell you, anyhow,
I'd rather see than be one.

Great as this is, the poor man hoped to be known for something more than this. Despite, or because of, his fame as a funnyman, he obviously had a horrible time trying to get anything else he wrote published. What could he do? What else but make his trials and tribulation funny. And sure enough, that got published. Here is his satire: The Rubaiyat of Omar Cayenne, by Gelett Burgess.

I know, I know, Burgess did get this printed! Publishing has done and still does some good work, although much, much less than it used to. BUT(T): it also has and continues to hurt a lot of creative, sensitive, gullible people on the way. Seek out independent presses. Read old, cheaper, and forgotten books. For a little proof (useful for when you do decide to write that excellent book that is gurgling and churning inside you), see the website of one very talented, extremely nice, modern man's experience: Gerard Jones, the author of Ginny Good, and the best documentary evidence of the perils of publishing. By the way, his book became The Best Independent Publisher Book Award for best Autobiography/Memoir for 2004. Read, or listen to, the book, its free now, and excellent.

And if you do value his work, you could, would, should, send him a nickel or two for his effort, or get an original T-shirt, or a copy of "My Liary," from this site and specify that the money you donate goes to him.

By the way, I especially like Burgess' admission that he did not understand the current so-called "great authors," including Henry James. Let me say up front, that reading James and Cooper turned me off of "The Classics" for 20 years. What a bunch of esoteric, inane, "precious" garbage those books are. Another good reason to read only the authors that you never hear about in literature classes and the ones never "boosted" by the critics.

September 4, 2010. Thanks to a birthday present from Liisa (yes, two "i's" is correct), I have discovered W. S. Gilbert. She gave me a few darling leather mini-booklets that included some of his stuff. I had heard of him, of course, and my parents loved to watch any Gilbert and Sullivan musicals, but I missed that boat completely. He wrote some good stuff! Here's a short poetical quip, from The Bab Ballads:

The Disagreeable Man

I'm sure I'm no ascetic: I'm as pleasant as can be;
You'll always find me ready with a crushing repartee;
I've an irritating chuckle, I've a celebrated sneer,
I've an entertaining snigger, I've a fascinating leer;
To everybody's prejudice I know a thing or two;
I can tell a woman's age in half a minute — and I do —
But although I try to make myself as pleasant as I can,
Yet everybody says I'm such a disagreeable man!
                    And I can't think why!

I do persist! More of Froissart is online (but not proofed, naturally): Chapters 10-19, from Book IV, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries.

Golly! I forgot to mention my darling kiddlywink is now married! And a good time was had by all!

This leads in to this little item from The New Pun Book, p. 16:

"What's the matter here?" asked a stranger of a small boy, as he noticed a large wedding party coming out of a church on Fifth Avenue.
     "Nawthin' but the tied goin' out."

And, this, too, on p. 75:

"My dear, what makes you always yawn?"
"The wife exclaimed, her temper gone,
     "Is home so dull and dreary?"
     "Not so, my love," he said, "Not so;
But man and wife are one, you know;
     And when alone I'm weary!"

From page 47:

As man and wife are one, the husband when seated with his wife, must be beside himself.

August 16, 2010. Worse and worse, now gasping and panting for air here. A few timely presents offered a mild restorative, the duration of their effect remains to be seen. Here are some admittedly rare examples of early American humorous poetry: first, a poem by Franklin Pierce Adams, born in 1881:

Jim and Bill

Bill Jones was cynical and sad;
     He thought sincerity was rare;
Most people, Bill believed, were bad
     And few were fair.

He said that cheating was the rule;
     That nearly everything was fake;
That nearly all, both knave and fool,
     Were on the make.

Jim Brown was cheerful as the sun;
     He thought the world a lovely place,
Exhibiting to every one
     A smiling face.

He thought that every man was fair;
     He had no cause to sob or sigh;
He said that every thing was square
     As any die.

Dear reader, would you rather be
     Like Jim, not crediting the ill,
Joyous in your serenity,
     Or right, like Bill?

And another thoroughly consoling one, by Christopher Morley,

Deny Yourself

If you haven't any ideas
Don't worry.
You can get along without them —
Many of the nicest people do.

And lastly a great New England sailor storyetta, by James Thomas Fields (1816-1881):

The Alarmed Skipper

Many a long, long year ago,
     Nantucket skippers had a plan
Of finding out, though "lying low,"
     How near New York their schooners ran.

They greased the lead before it fell,
     And then by sounding, through the night,
Knowing the soil that stuck so well
     They always guessed their reckoning right.

A skipper gray, whose eyes were dim,
     Could tell, by tasting, just the spot;
And so below he'd "douse the glim," —
     After, of course, his "something hot."

Snug in his berth, at eight o'clock,
     This ancient skipper might be found;
No matter how his craft would rock,
     He slept, — for skippers' naps are sound.

The watch on deck would now and then
     Run down and wake him, with the lead;
He's up and taste, and tell the men
     How many miles they went ahead.

One night 'twas Jotham Marden's watch,
     A curious wag — the peddler's son;
And so he mused (the wanton wretch!)
     "To-night I'll have a grain of fun.

"We're all a set of stupid fools,
     To think the skipper knows, by tasting,
What ground he's on; Nantucket schools
     Don't teach such stuff, with all their basting!"

And so he took the well-greased lead,
     And rubbed it o'er a box of earth
That stood on deck — a parsnip-bed —
     And then he sought the skipper's berth.

"Where are we now, sir? Please to taste."
     The skipper yawned, put out his tongue,
Opened his eyes in wondrous haste,
     And then upon the floor he sprung.

The skipper stormed, and tore his hair,
     Hauled on his boots, and roared to Marden,
"Nantucket's sunk, and here we are
     Right over old Marm Hackett's garden!"

July 10, 2010. With a stutter and a catch, I am still limping along here. Thanks, in great part, to an uplifting person, Dr. Steven Lomazow. He is a neurologist with an antiquarian bent (a trait shared by the best physicians!). He also happens to have the only copy of a magazine that contained the early works of my Victorian beloved, Frederic S. Cozzens, to add to his works gathered here. Thanks to the good doctor, who scanned the article and sent it to me, here it is: Celestial Intelligence, from the magazine Yankee Doodle.

The same page of that same magazine was finished off by two jokes: one I don't get at all (the first), but the second is funny!


The new post-office law is but another move of the "progress" party, and was probably drawn up by MISS FULLER before her departure for Europe. The provision that two letters to different persons cannot be sent in one envelop is evidently for the purpose of giving public employment to our female population, to whom it offers irresistable inducements. The office of Post Master will be henceforth abolished and that of Post Mistress take its place. "Cedunt arma togæ."



The members of the Farmers' Club are "respectfully requested to bring with them at their next meeting plenty of grafts for gratuituous distribution." The enterprising Secretary of that great national institution sets the members of the Club an excellent example — he is always ready to furnish his pair-o'-grafts to any editor green enough to insert them.

Gleeful news! “Bill's been working on the railroad, all the livelong day!” (and night and weeks and months past). He has put up a great resource on the history of railroads in America: The Great Iron Trail. The Story of the First Trans-Continental Railroad, by Robert West Howard. Impeccably done, naturally.

It spurred me on! So, on my part, the right track (a little trunk line, so to speak) is to put up some train jokes from that era to celebrate. However topical, they are not necessarily all that funny. Here goes:

All the train jokes from The Pun Book, Collected, Edited, and Arranged from the Notes of Two Learned Pundits, by T. B. and T. C., New York: Frank Vernon & Co., 1906, p. 6:

“I’m nearly starved. Just got in from a three-hour trip on the New York Central.”
     “But couldn’t you get anything to eat on the train?”
     “Nope! It was a ‘fast’ train.”

Ditto, and two from p. 9:

RAILWAY CLERK — Another accident on the road to-day, sir.

     MANAGER — Indeed. What now?

     CLERK — Man dislocated his neck trying to read our new time-table.

“I got your fare, didn’t I?” asked the conductor.
     “I believe not,” said the facetious passenger replied. “I think I saw you ring it up.”

Ditto, p. 58:

TEACHER — Johnny, can you tell me what a section boss is?

     JOHNNY — The conductor of a sleeping-car.

Again ditto, p. 65:

“Haven’t I told you before,” he cried, “to sing out the names of stations clearly and distinctly? Bear in mind. Sing ’em out. Do you hear?”
     “I will sir.”
     And when the next train came in the passengers were considerably astonished to hear Pat sing:

               “Sweet Dreamland Faces,
                    Passing to and fro,
               Change here for Limerick,
                    Galway and Mayo.”

Ditto, p. 77, (protestingly):

“One day in the dining-car, the boy across the aisle go to laughing so, he couldn’t stop. I said to his mother, ‘that boy needs a spanking.’ and she said, ‘well, I don’t believe in spanking a boy on a full stomach.’ I said, ‘neither do I. Turn him over. —’ ”

Ditto, p. 101:

“No seat, no pay!” the people cry,
     Along the Elevated,
And stand upon the law by which
     The company was created.

The railway rulers promise much
     To settle these dissensions,
And every promise proves that “L”
     Is paved with good intentions.

Ditto, p. 102:

HARDY — Why do they call that Pullman porter doctor?

     FISH — Why, because he has attended so many berths.

Ditto, p. 118:

STUDENT — Professor, which is the logical way of reaching a conclusion?

     PROFESSOR — Take a train of thought, my boy.

SMITH — They say that after a time the engineer of a limited flyer loses his nerve.

     JONES — The engineer, perhaps, but not the Pullman porter!

Ditto, p. 119:

“Old Jones was killed last night by a dew-drop.”
     “Must have been a very heavy one.”
     “About four hundred tons.”
     “You see he was standing under the trestle, and a freight train ran off the track and dropped on him.”
     “But how about the dew?”
     “Why, the train was due!”

Ditto, p. 136:

“Pa” said little Willie, who had been reading a treatise on phrenology, —what is a bump of destructiveness?
     “Why — er — a railroad collision, I suppose.”

Ditto, with two, from p. 138:

A notice at a small depot near Manchester reads:
     “Passengers are requested to cross over the railway by the subway. ”
     This reminds me of the oft-quoted notice put up at the ford of an Irish river:
     “When this board is under water the river is unpassable. ”

LITTLE WILLIE — Papa, why does the railway company have those cases with the ax and saw in every car?

     FATHER — I presume they are put in to use in case anyone wants to open a window.

And one from p. 145:

I was in the depot restaurant of one of the great railroads, and was asked why am I standing while drinking my coffee. “All the rest of us sit down.”
     I replied solemnly, that “I was always told to stand for the weak.”

June 20, 2010. Well, fancy meeting me here! I forgot how to type, I guess. Anyway, the first 10 chapters of Book IV of Froissart are online (but not proofed, that would be too much to hope for): Chapters 1-10, Book IV, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries.

Limericks, from 700 Limerick Lyrics, A Collection of choice Humorous Versifications, selected and arranged by Stanton Vaughn, New York: Frank Vernon & Co., 1906, p. 120:

'Tis said that old Earl of Warwick
(A personage very histarwick)
     Dismissed his physician,
     A man of position,
For making him drink paregarwick.

A chap who lived just as he should
Was running one day through a would,
     When his head struck a tree,
     He fell dead as could be —
How nice that he'd always been gould.

There once was a mlle,
With a form like a pretty glle,
     Whenever she laughed
     She drove me quite daughted,
And made me as angry as elle.

A classical education need never go to waste, even if you never use it at your job. Andrew Smith of attalus.org is quietly preserving the language he studied in school by translating uncommon ancient Greek texts that have not ever been translated into English before. He also has great taste in statuary. "The Dying Gaul," on his homepage is my all-time favorite statue.

April 21, 2010. One of the best gardening sites, that is not out to sell things, is Paghat's Garden. She writes about her plants only. Along the way she tosses in quotes at the top of each description, throws in a little history about the plant, and then proceeds to tell frankly and clearly how it fares for her in her northwestern garden. A lot of horticultural knowledge is sprinkled throughout. She takes pictures of her blooming friends, too.

April 20, 2010. This page (and the site, and my life) is stuttering and fluttering in the winds of change and overwork.

A brief, early biographical sketch of another Lee, Richard Henry, a politician not a warrior, is here (but not proofed).

At last! Now complete, and with pictures: Legends of the Bastille, by Funck-Brentano, translated by George Maidment.

March 26, 2010. From "The Flabbergast Files." Once in my life, and that was quite, quite recent, I came across the word "thrason." It was in the Carmina Macaronica, which I thought was generally an idle exercise (see the entry below). One of the footnotes went on to explain that some student mentioned in it was named Thrason, which came from the Latin word thraso. It can have several meanings: the Fool-hardy one, the Bold one, the Dare-devil, or the Audacious one, or signify a person that is a bully, a swaggerer, or a brave hero like Hector. So now I was enlightened and had one more Latin descriptive word to clutter up a memory cell and shove out some piece of more useful data . . . or so I thought.

Imagine my wonder, when I found it used in an English form this very day! Naturally, I knew what it meant immediately. How coincidental is this? Anyway, you too can find the word used in a sentence — a long, long sentence — in this bit from Humorous Hits, and How to Hold an Audience, by Grenville Kleiser, p. 163 sqq:



In promulgating your esoteric cogitations, or articulating your superficial sentimentalities and amicable, philosophical or psychological observations, beware of platitudinous ponderosity. Let your conversational communications possess a clarified conciseness, a compact comprehensibleness, coalescent consistency, and a concatenated cogency. Eschew all conglomerations of flatulent garrulity, jejune babblement and asinine affectations. Let your extemporaneous descantings and unpremeditated expatiation have intelligibility and veracious vivacity, without rhodomontade or thrasonical bombast. Sedulously avoid all polysyllabic profundity, pompous prolixity, psittaceous vacuity, ventriloquial verbosity, and vaniloquent vapidity. Shun double-entendres, prurient jocosity, and pestiferous profanity, obscurant or apparent.

     In other words, talk plainly, briefly, naturally, sensibly, truthfully, purely. Keep from "slang"; don't put on airs; say what you mean; mean what you say. And don't use big words!

There is some usefulness in big words though, or they wouldn't exist. And using them doesn't have to be painful. Here is a pretty funny and cogent example of the use of some big words that tell a whole story in a brief space. You can get the whole picture pretty easily from this polysyllabic summary of a courtship. It is from Humourous Hits also, on p. 152:



Information, speculation; fluctuation; ruination.
Dissipation, degradation; reformation or starvation.
Application, situation; occupation, restoration.
Concentration, enervation, nerve prostration. A vacation.
Destination, country station. Nice location, recreation.
Exploration, observation; fascination — a flirtation.
Trepidation, hesitation, conversation, simulation;
Invitation, acclamation, sequestration, cold libation.
Stimulation, animation; inspiration, new potation.
Demonstration, agitation, circulation, exclamation!
Declaration, acceptation, osculation, sweet sensation.
Exultation, preparation, combination, new relation.

Speaking of languages, foreign and not so very foreign, a cognate is a word that is the same in two (or more) languages. But  the meaning may be different, so it is wise to doublecheck that. Latin being the basis for much of the Romance languages, and for a lot of our Teutonic English, this poem is proof of it. The poem is dang near the same in French, with true cognates, except for 8 words, and with one slight change from the exact French equivalent to fit the meter (the real French equivalent is in the source code):

La Romans moderne


Avec une "traduction" non nècessaire de L'Ed. Elf.

Information, speculation; fluctuation; ruination.
Dissipation, degradation; reformation ou privation.
Application, situation; occupation, restoration.
Concentration, enervation, prosternation. Une vacation.
Destination, paysan station. Belle location, récréation.
Exploration, observation; fascination — une flirtation.
Trépidation, hesitation, conversation, simulation;
Invitation, acclamation, sequestration, froid libation.
Stimulation, animation; inspiration, nouvelle boisson.
Demonstration, agitation, circulation, exclamation!
Declaration, acceptation, osculation, douce sensation.
Exultation, preparation, combinaison, nouvelle relation.

It would be easily recognizable and understood in Latin, Spanish, and Italian as well. But I ain't checking every word in those languages today to prove it. Feel free to do it and let me know and I'll add it.

March 24, 2010. Some things never change! New dances always cause a furor, including raised eyebrows, and dire forebodings, just like the Twist did in the late 20th century, and Head-Banging in the first part of the present 21st century. In the 19th century the Polka got everybody all excited, in France and in England. The French could laugh about the ruckus, as can be seen in this cartoon, by Charles Vernier. I have translated the text into English, however imperfectly:


La Polkamanie (Polkamania).  A lithograph by Charles Vernier of a tall, frowning French policeman, standing behind and looking upon a dancing couple.  The hatted and bearded man dancing is holding his partner close.  His leg is kicking out to the side, the woman’s striped dress billows out in the vigorous movements of the dance.

Lithograph by Charles Vernier, 1844.   
Courtesy of the New York Public Library.


“Young man! I say, young man! Your dancing is so disorderly that it is incompatible with the constitutional authorities of your homeland!”

    “Officer! You wound me! You can see that we are just Polka-ing!”

I discovered this cartoon when I was messing around and trying to make a pamphlet more interesting to us moderns. Why? The pamphlet is in macaronic poetry, or macaronica, which takes Latin and mixes it with modern language to make silly poems or prose. The Italians invented the idea, according to Bill's friend, Franco, but the French did it too. So, too, did the English, Germans, Spanish, Portuguese and Belgians.

The problem is that nowadays almost nobody speaks Latin, so that whole body of funny poetry is doomed to fade away. A similar example, probably American, which even unilingual slobs can enjoy (like me) is this anonymous poem that I just snagged from an earlier version of this page (having put it online before in 2009). This was the anonymous low calorie poem (19th century) that made me think that I might like another helping of "macaroni" poetry :


A cat sedabat on our fence,
    As laeta as could be;
Her vox surgebat to the skies,
    Canebate merrily.

My clamor was of no avail,
    Tho' clare did I cry,
Consepexit me with mild reproof,
    And winked her alter eye.

Quite vainly jeci boots, a lamp,
    Some bottles, and a book;
Ergo, I seized my pistol, et
    My aim cum cura took.

I had six shots, dixi, "Ye gods,"
    May I that felis kill;
Quamquam, I took six of her lives,
    The other three sang still.

The felis sang with major vim,
    Tho' man's aim was true;
Conatus sum, putare quid
    Intonitru I'd do.

A scheme advenit to my head,
    Scivi, 't would make her wince, —
I sang! Et then the hostis fled,
    Non eam ridi since.

So I kind of enjoyed this poem, and could get the general idea and even laugh, despite not understanding the Latin. And so how could I not be intrigued when I saw that Mike Maddigan, The Industrious Dullard had a rare pamphlet on macaronic poetry by a Frenchman that I couldn't afford? I asked him if he would send me a copy. And he did! Thinking that the 3 guys I know that speak Latin might enjoy it, even though I would not understand a lick of it, I typed it up.

Well, the book turned out to be a political tirade in macaronic verse, probably by a teacher, against the French Board of Education. Apparently the plan was to dummy down the school system and remove Latin from the elementary school curriculum, in the latter part of the 19th century. It was a successful plan in France, and in America, which is why most of us can't get a laugh from this book today.

I did find that one of my penpals, David Whitehead, a Classics professor in Dublin, was amused by the pamphlet and the poetry. That is probably because the study of Classics has continued to decline abysmally and is now vanishing from most colleges and universities in Europe and in America. So he enjoyed it, which makes it worth putting up. Being liked by one person, is enough to make the little book worth preserving, especially because it caused a smile! The Pegasus cartoon in it is mildly funny, too.

Then I also decided to translate the French notes and the Introduction, something I might be able to appreciate a little, because that had a bit about the history of Macaronic poetry and some trivia (my favorite)! I tortured Bill Thayer into helping me with the French. Any resultant idiocies in translation are my own. Here is the partially Englished version of the text:

Carmina Macaronica, Vindictae Adversus Julium Simonem Carmina Latina Prohibentem, Epistolium Ad Radicales, Francportus Hecatombe, by A. Tristellati.

The French version is here:

Carmina Macaronica, Vindictae Adversus Julium Simonem Carmina Latina Prohibentem, Epistolium Ad Radicales, Francportus Hecatombe, par A. Tristellati.

With the hope of adding a morsel of interest to such an obscure text of such extremely limited appeal, I have added a few notes at the bottom of the page, including the above cartoon. I found this pictorial treasure while trying to trace the reference to some anonymous Englishman's macaronic piece on Polkamania — a doomed venture, the man and his work have vanished. Along the way I also found out the real origin of a currently hot trend in hair fashion, supposedly modern!

Therefore, read the notes on the bottom, enjoy the pictures, and learn the history of macaronic poetry. Just ignore all the stuff you don't understand in the Latin-French.

For fun, and an exercise in validating its continued existence, ask anybody you know who might speak Latin, or might know somebody that speaks Latin, if they like the guy's work. Then tell me about it and we can start a fan club of two or three for the poor man's effort to save educational standards.

March 14, 2010. What a lucky day! Last week, I made an amazing discovery and found a new friend, which is even better. I was looking for a picture of the sculpture by Lysippos of "Kairos," the god of Opportunity or Chance, and found some wonderful pictures from the Hermitage, in Russia, taken by Sergey Sosnovskiy. One is a relief modeled after Lysippos' work. And Sergey said I could use it! Here it is:

A Roman relief in marble copied from the statue by Lysippos of Kairos, or Opportunity, Chance  or Luck. A profile of a young winged man, nude, is running with scales in his hand.  He has wings on his shoulders and on his feet.  The back of his head is bald. Modeled on the original Greek statue by Lysippos, or Lysippus.

© 2008 Photo: S. Sosnovskiy.


A Roman relief, in marble, after the original done by Lysippos
ca. 350—330 B.C.
Turin, Museum of Antiquities.

Sergey also led me to another picture of a different relief, which shows Kairos as an older man, with a beard. It is a picture scanned from an old textbook that is also found on the Russian art website:

A Roman relief in marble copied from the statue by Lysippos of Kairos, or Opportunity, Chance  or Luck. A profile of a bearded man, nude, is running with a globe in his hand.  He has wings on his shoulders and on his feet.  The back of his head is bald. Modeled after the original Greek statue by Lysippos, or Lysippus

© Photo, text: O. F. Waldhauer.


A much restored marble bas-relief, after Lysippos.
The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia.

Loving the Classical Period, in his spare time Sergey Sosnovskiy has taken over 1000 classical photos and put them all online for the rest of us to delight in. Many are also from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Pictures of the artwork in that Collection have not been available to many outside of Russia, until the last couple of decades.

Sergey is not just an excellent photographer of artwork, he is an artist himself with a camera, this is one of his pictures taken at Rome, near the Arch of Constantine, that proves how talented he is:

A black and white photograph of a horse and carriage with its driver on a cobblestone street at dusk.  The shadows of the spoked wheels, echoed on the cobblestones, add to the textural delight of this evening silhouette. Photo taken at Rome, by Sergey Sosnovskiy

© 2008 Photo: S. Sosnovskiy.

More of Sergey's photos can be seen on his personal page.

Since today we "spring forward," it might interest somebody to know that the event has been commented on as far back as 1923. In Good Toasts and Funny Stories, by Arthur LeRoy Kaser, Minneapolis: T.S. Denison & Company, 1923, p. 89, this can be found:


Here's to daylight saving: The question of the hour.

But one of the best things in this same book is found on p. 81:


To our friend, the dog: The only animal that didn't want to enter the ark, because it had a bark of its own.

March 5, 2010. How to be sure that you will never be treated seriously in your attempt to do intelligent and tolerant translating? Have a Satyr for the logo on the front of your small press series. Although that was 100 years ago. Today, it would put you on the best seller list, especially if you were writing on the ethics of bankers. The Egoist Press, by the "Silenus" of Imagism used this for the logo on the cover of their little books (my colors):

An engraving of the cover logo of The Egoist, of a satyr, a bearded man, half-goat, with horns and a beard.

February 19, 2010. Well, the whole body of the text of Legends of the Bastille, by Funck-Brentano, translated by George Maidment is online. The title pages, pictures and Index are pending, although it is proofed. Since I haven't managed to do those in 2 weeks, then it looks like it may be a long time coming.

Easily distracting me from finishing the most onerous bits of completing this (or any) book, I found an earlier version of the chapter on The Man in the Iron Mask. Funck-Brentano published this as an article in the Revue Historique. Then an anonymous translator translated it for an American magazine in 1895, and the text is now here: "The Man in the Iron Mask," by Frantz Funck-Brentano, from The Chautaquan, A Monthly magazine.

The last 4 chapters of Book III, by Froissart are online (also without pictures and not proofed either!): Chapters 140-143, Book III, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries.

And from Hints from Squints by Pattengill, 1905, p. 30:

"Here is where I do the real thing," said the magician, as he turned a cow into a garden. — The Princeton Tiger.

February 6, 2010. An old wickedly-funny writer, Rabelais, is famous for using all sorts of odd words and fantastically funny analogies in his writings, a man after my own heart! But a few others still do the same, even one obviously superior sportswriter, who wrote on baseball, 100 years ago:


The possibilites of the English language have requently been taxed to describe the great American game of baseball, but for striking illustration this from the Herald, of Quincy, Illinois, has rarely been equaled:

The glass-armed toy soldiers of this town were fed to the pigs yesterday by the cadaverous Indian grave-robbers from Omaha. The flabby, one-lunged Reubens who represent the Gem City in the reckless rush for the baseball pennant had their shins toasted by the basilisk-eyed cattle-drivers from the West. They stood around with gaping eyeballs like a hen on a hot nail, and suffered the grizzly yaps of Omaha to run the bases until their necks were long with thirst. Hickey had more errors than Coin's Financial School, and led the rheumatic procession to the morgue. The Quincys were full of straw and scrap-iron. They couldn't hit a brick-wagon with a pickax, and ran bases like pall-bearers from a funeral. If three-base hits were growing on the back of every man's neck they couldn't reach 'em with a feather duster. It looked as if the Amalgamated Union of South American Hoodoos was in session for work in the thirty-third degree. The geezers stood about and whistled for help, and were so weak they couldn't lift a glass of beer if it had been all foam. Everything was yellow, rocky and whangbasted, like a stigtossel full of dogglegammon. The game was whiskered and frostbitten. The Omahogs were bad enough, but the Quincy Brown Sox had their fins sewed up until they couldn't hold a crazy quilt unless it was tied around their necks."

January 23, 2010. Oopsy-daisy! I just noticed I still thought it was 2009. All this year's posts have been changed to the proper year.

10 more chapters from Froissart are online: Chapters 130-139, Book III, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries. Not finally proofed, but spell-checked for what it's worth, and without the engravings.

January 17, 2010. A few gems from Humorous Hits, and How to Hold an Audience, by Grenville Kleiser: An early American historian, can tell a joke! See Bounding the United States, by John Fiske. He is an interesting writer and historian and you can read his Unpublished Orations, on this site about Crispus Attucks, Christopher Columbus and the history of early Oregon.

Also, An Introduction by Mark Twain, is good fun.

Best of all, hysterically so, and the best use of dialect I have ever seen, (besides the Sunnit to the Big Ox), is The Poor Was Mad, A Fairy Shtory for Little Childher, by Charles Battell Loomis.

Kleiser also included a section on Serious Hits. In a more sobering vein, is "I am Content," translated by Carman Sylva, from the Romanian Folk-Song collected by Hélène Vacaresco. This song is already online here in her book, The Bard of the Dimbovitza; but this was the one Kleiser chose to include in his collection, proving how very popular her work was in the United States.

And there is one that makes me swear I will get my passport this year, finally! That is Carcassonne, by M. E. W. Sherwood.

January 15, 2010. 10 more chapters of Froissart are online: Chapters 120-129, Book III, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries. Not finally proofed, naturally, and without the engravings.

The biggest hope all the world had when Obama was elected President was the belief that he would stop war, the ultimate wrong. This profound hope has been well and thoroughly betrayed, bombed and pounded into smithereens. War destroys people, economies, trust, faith, hope and true charity. Froissart proves it page, after unstudied and untaught page.

As a much shorter and more direct reminder of what war really means, (and send a copy of this to even one politician, teacher and preacher you know) read : A Battle, by Charles Sumner, written when a politician did speak the unsanitized truth about war publicly.

If we all immediately changed our party to Independent until the war was over, then I imagine that we would be out of this war in weeks. A great many of us in America do not believe in war as an effective, sane, moral or humane solution.

If a referendum vote was required, with 75% of all registered voters (not just 75% of those who vote) deciding whether or not we should go to war, then and only then would war be a nonpartisan issue and then, and only then, will we able to say that we consent to this waste of our youth and our goodheartedness, and, less importantly, our money. Then and only then would any war by our country represent the will, ethics and morality of a truly democratic America. This would be the best amendment to the Constitution in history ever!

From Humorous Hits and How to Hold an Audience, by Grenville Kleiser, 1912, p. 52:



A little girl goes to market for her mother.

Butcher. — "Well, little girl, what can I do for you?"

Little Girl. — "How much is chops this morning, mister?"

B. — "Chops, 20 cents a pound, little girl."

L. G. — "Oh! 20 cents a pound for chops; that's awful expensive. How much is steak?

B. — "Steak is 22 cents a pound."

L. G. — "That's too much! How much is chicken?"

B. — "Chicken is 25 cents a pound" (impatiently ).

L. G. — "Oh! 25 cents for chicken. Well my ma don't want any of them!"

B. — "Well, little girl, what do you want?"

L. G. — "Oh, I want an automoblie, but my ma wants 5 cents of liver!"

I just got an e-mail from "my" Congressman Hal Rogers. He hoped to send me his newsletter and asked me to take a survey, which was to vote on the issues that were most important to me. The war, or peace, was not even a choice! He doesn't care about our view on that issue! Geez-Louise!!!

He has a way to e-mail him, and I sent this (and keep these copy).

Dear Congressman Rogers,

The health and welfare of our country depends on world peace.

Please add that issue to something that ought to be the most crucial to list.

I will sign up for your newsletter and re-elect* you when you stop this, and all other war.

War is the biggest epidemic on this planet, and the easiest and cheapest to cure.

War is an unnatural, immoral and irreligious disaster.

Killing people is not okay for an individal*, nor for a country.


* I misspelled individual, accidentally, and I forgot to say "help re-elect" you, as if I was entirely responsible! This proves that I have lived in the state that is one of the most ignorant, thanks to its politicians, for too long. I swear, illiteracy is contagious.

Kentucky is also a state where all the "little people" are poor, and almost all of us are "little people." We, the peons, are one of the poorest, dumbest, sickest and highest-taxed. However, the state is the 8th richest in exports, per capita, in the country: much of the exports being Machinery, Transportation and Chemicals to the Middle East to help produce oil to pay for the other side of war, raise oil prices and compete with coal, solar or any other sane non-war propagating energy source. If nobody needs oil, the price of a plane ticket or a weapons will not be affordable for a whole lot of bad guys — from any country.

The Trade-Stats Express website is a real eye-opener, in all sorts of ways. Play around with the data options and be prepared for newfound wisdom and augmented cynicism.

It is important, I believe, to be upfront about my belief in non-violence, and to let people and politicians know. Otherwise, "silence is consent."

Violence with a cloak of "benevolence" is also a sign of moral immaturity, well illustrated here, also from Humorous Hits and How to Hold an Audience, by Grenville Kleiser, 1912, p. 156:



The following is told in child dialect. She finds a fly and speaks to it affectionately.

"Poor little fly! Ain't you got anyone to love you? Ain't you got any brothers or any sisters, little fly? Ain't you got any aunts, little fly? Ain't you got anyone to love you? Your mother loves you, little fly. (She slaps her hand and kills the fly.) Go home to your mother!

January 9, 2010. Now online, from The Abbeys of Great Britain, by H. Claiborne Dixon:

Lindisfarne (with photograph),

And from "Masterpieces of Humor," Volume V, 1903, p. 30:

Timid Lady (going up the Washington monument elevator):  "Conductor, what if the rope breaks that holds us?"

Conductor:  "Oh, there are a number more attached as safety ropes."

Timid Lady:  "But if they all break, where shall we go?"

Conductor:  "Oh, well, m'm, that all depends upon what kind of a life you have been living before."

The last of the French extracts and are online and proofed, from The World's Wit and Humor, Volume X:

François Arouet, “Voltaire”, still really funny and still really applicable today!

Jean Baptiste Poquelin, 'Molière', also a kick, especially the first extract.

Also from "Masterpieces of Humor," Volume V, 1903, p. 169:

At a recent dinner in New York City a prominent Southern woman present remarked, in the course of a conversation touching upon the famous statesman, that it "was almost wicked in Charles Sumner to have married. He was so deeply in love with himself," she continued, "that his marriage was little short of bigamy."

January 5, 2010. Time to go far, far back in time! Online are 2 small books in the Poet's Translation Series of the Egoist Press, founded by the early imagist Richard Aldington. One of the authors published by this press is Ezra Pound, who I know nothing about. Another of them, though, is Edward Storer. I know and like his work. There are now 4 books by him on Elfinspell, and the latest are 2 from this publishing house. The Poems of Anyte of Tegea, translated by Aldington, and the Poems and Fragments of Sappho, translated by Edward Storer, is the first small book now online. The second one is The Windflowers of Asklepiades and the Poems of Poseidippos, translated by Storer.

And from The Encyclopedia of Comedy, by J. Melville Janson, 1897, p. 51 :

Mr. A. — Do you know Bill Smith?

Mr. B. — Yes; what about him.

Mr. A. — He had his hand cut off almost to the wrist.

Mr. B. — That was too bad.

Mr. A. — Best thing ever happened.

Mr. B. — How so?

Mr. A. — He was only getting two dollars a day, now he is getting five.

Mr. B. — How is that?

Mr. A. — Short hand writer.

January 2, 2010. It is a historical geographical puzzle day. Online is an article by a scholarly Reverend. It is from the days when being a leader in the church involved contributions to general knowledge: On the Ictis of Diodorus Siculus, by the Rev. R. Wallace. He read this paper before the Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, England, in 1844.

For gardeners, farmers, and veggie lovers (and haters), a poem! Fairly dumb, but the topic, although seedy, is hard to reap humor from. It is in The Encyclopedia of Comedy, by J. Melville Janson, 1897, p. 72 sq:


A potato went out on a mash,
     And sought an onion bed;
That's pie for me," observed the squash,
     And all the beets turned red.
"Go away," the onion weepingly cried,
     "Your love I cannot be:
The pumpkin is your lawful bride;
     You cantaloupe with me."
"Ah, spare me a cress," the tuber prayed,
     "My cherry-ished bride you'll be;
You are the only weeping maid
     That's currant now with me."
And as the wily tuber spoke,
     He grasped the bashful prize,
And giving her an artichoke,
     Devoured her with his eyes.

And from p. 103, another one, a little more seasonal. It's memorizable, too, and you can sing it as you shovel:

The snow, the snow, the beautiful snow!
You slip on a lump, and away you go.

10 more chapters of Froissart are online: Chapters 110-119, Book III, of Sir John Froissart's Chronicles of England, France and Spain and the Surrounding Countries. And they are not finally proofed as usual; I can't have all my fun at once!


To see 6 years worth of this page, with some great old jokes and limericks, and practically no diatribes, go to the Archived New Stuff Pages.

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