Tuesday, January 09, 2007


Ambrose Bierce (wikilink) was an odd duck who thrived on and enhanced the odd-duckiness of San Francisco. I never saw the movie, Old Gringo, but I knew that the nature and occasion of his demise remains a matter of mystery, which is both amusing and befitting.

Many of us had to read “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge,” in high school, which makes him, I guess, an exemplary short story writer. He was a newspaper guy, and cynical as hell.

His great work, the Devil’s Dictionary (link) is out of copyright and available on line. Not only are there some very funny gems, but the way he bends elegant Victorian prose into the roughest satire is really fun to watch.

Here are two entries:

A daughter of Hope and Fear, explaining to Ignorance the nature of the Unknowable.

-A gift from Heaven signifying, "This is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased."
…John D. Rockefeller
-The reward of toil and virtue.
…J.P. Morgan
-The savings of many in the hands of one.
…Eugene Debs
To these excellent definitions the inspired lexicographer feels that he can add nothing of value.

Ambrose Bierce is a major inspiration to me and Pud.
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