Man created God in his own image and likeness, on Halloween.

The gods play games with the fate of men. Not complex ones obviously, because gods lack patience. Cheating is part of the rules. And gods play hard. To lose all believers is, for a god, the end. But a believer who survives the game gains honour and extra belief. Who wins with the most believers, lives.

Believers can include other gods, of course. Gods believe in belief.

There were always many games going on in Dunmanifestin, the abode of die gods on Cori Celesti. It looked, from outside, like a crowded city.* Not all gods lived there, many of them being bound to a particular country or in the case of the smaller ones, even one tree. But it was a Good Address. It was where you hung your metaphysical equivalent of the shiny brass plate, like those small discreet buildings in the smarter areas of major cities which nevertheless appear to house one hundred and fifty lawyers and accountants, presumably on some sort of shelving.

The city's domestic appearance was because, while people are influenced by gods, so gods are influenced by people.

Most gods were people-shaped: people don't have much imagination, on the whole. Even Offler the Crocodile God was only crocodile-headed. Ask people to imagine an annual god and they will, basically, come up with the idea of someone in a really bad mask. Men have been much better at inventing demons, which is why there are so many. 

*Few religions are definite about the size of Heaven, but on the planet Earth the Book of Revelation (ch. XXI, v.l6) gives it as a cube 12,000 furlongs on a side. This is somewhat less than 500,000,000.000,000,000,000 cubic feet. Even allowing that the Heavenly Host and other essential services take up at least two thirds of this spate, this leaves about one million cubic feet of space for each human occupant-assuming that every creature that could be called 'human' is allowed in, and that the human race eventually totals a thousand times the number of humans alive up until now. This is such a generous amount of space that it suggests that room has also been provided for some alien races or - a happy thought - that pets are allowed.

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Fictions and facts.

A picture hung on the wall of our parlor. In it, a woman was taking a shirt from a clothesline. She had clothespins in her teeth and it was windy and a boy was tugging at her dress. The woman looked like she was in a hurry and the whole scene gave me the idea that, just outside the frame, full, dark clouds were gathering. But that was not what it was. It was paint. So I decided right then and there to see the picture as it really was. I stared at the thing long and hard, trying to only see the paint. But it was no use. All my eyes would allow me to see was the lie. In fact, the longer I gazed at the paint, the more false detail I began to imagine. The boy was crying, as if afraid, and the woman was weaker than I had first believed. I finally gave up. I understood then that it takes a powerful imagination to see a thing for what it really is.

(...)

Death is a funny thing. Not funny haha, like a Woody Allen movie, but funny strange, like a Woody Allen marriage. When it’s unexpected, death comes fast like a ravenous wolf and tears open your throat with a merciful fury. But when it’s expected, it comes slow and patient like a snake, and the doctor tells you how far away it is and when, exactly, it will be at your door. And when it will be at the foot of your bed. And when it will be on your flesh. It’s all right there on their clipboards.

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(Not always fake, but often sloppy) Media

I’m tired of television announcers, hosts, newscaster, and commentators, nibbling away at the English language, making obvious and ignorant mistakes. If I were in charge of America’s broadcast stations and networks, I would gather together all the people whose jobs include speaking to the public, and I would not let them out of the room until they had absorbed the following suggestions. And I’m aware that media personalities are not selected on the basis of intelligence. I know that, and I try to make allowances for it. Believe me, I really try. But still… There are some liberties taken with speech that I think require intervention, if only for my own sake. I won’t feel right if this chance goes by, and I keep my silence.

The English word forte, meaning "specialty" or "strong point," is not pronounced "for-tay." Got that? It is pronounced "fort." The Italian word forte, used in music notation, is pronounced "for-tay," and it instructs the musician to play loud: "She plays the skin flute, and her forte [fort] is playing forte [for-tay]." Look it up. And don’t give me that whiny shit, "For-tay is listed as the second preference." There’s a reason it’s second: because it’s not first!
Irony deals with opposites; it has nothing to do with coincidence. If two baseball players from the same hometown, on different teams, receive the same uniform number, it is not ironic. It is a coincidence. If Barry Bonds attains lifetime statistics identical to his father’s it will not be ironic. It will be a coincidence. Irony is "a state of affairs that is the reverse of what was to be expected; a result opposite to and in mockery of the appropriate result." For instance:
If a diabetic, on his way to buy insulin, is killed by a runaway truck, he is the victim of an accident. If the truck was delivering sugar, he is the victim of an oddly poetic coincidence. But if the truck was delivering insulin, ah! Then he is the victim of an irony.
If a Kurd, after surviving bloody battle with Saddam Hussein’s army and a long, difficult escape through the mountains, is crushed and killed by a parachute drop of humanitarian aid, that, my friend, is irony writ large.
Darryl Stingley, the pro football player, was paralyzed after a brutal hit by Jack Tatum. Now Darryl Stingley’s son plays football, and if the son should become paralyzed while playing, it will not be ironic. It will be coincidental. If Darryl Stingley’s son paralyzes someone else, that will be closer to ironic. If he paralyzes Jack Tatum’s son that will be precisely ironic.

I’m tired of hearing prodigal being used to mean "wandering, given to running away or leaving and returning." The parable in the Book of Luke tells of a son who squanders his father’s money. Prodigal means "recklessly wasteful or extravagant." And if you say popular usage has changed that, I say, fuck popular usage!

The phrase sour grapes does not refer to jealousy or envy. Nor is it related to being a sore loser. It deals with the rationalization of failure to attain a desired end. In the original fable by Aesop, "The Fox and the Grapes," when the fox realizes he cannot leap high enough to reach the grapes, he rationalizes that even if he had gotten them, they would probably have been sour anyway. Rationalization, that’s all sour grapes means. It doesn’t mean deal with jealousy or sore losing. Yeah, I know you say, "Well many people are using it that way, so the meaning is changing." And I say, "Well many people are really fuckin’ stupid too, shall we just adopt all their standards?"

Strictly speaking, celibate does not mean not having sex, it means not being married. No wedding. The practice of refraining from sex is called chastity or sexual abstinence. No fucking. Priests don’t take a vow of celibacy, they take a vow of chastity. Sometimes referred to as the "no-nookie clause."

And speaking of sex, the Immaculate Conception does not mean Jesus was conceived in the absence of sex. It means Mary was conceived without Original Sin. That’s all it has ever meant. And according to the tabloids, Mary is apparently the only one who can make such a claim. The Jesus thing is called virgin birth.

Proverbial is now being used to describe things that don’t appear in proverbs. For instance, "the proverbial drop in the bucket" is incorrect because "a drop in the bucket" is not a proverb, it’s a metaphor. You wouldn’t say, "as welcome as a turd in the proverbial punchbowl," or "as cold as the proverbial nun’s box," because neither refers to a proverb. The former is a metaphor, the latter is a simile.

Momentarily means for a moment, not in a moment. The word for "in a moment" is presently "I will be there presently, Dad, and then, after pausing momentarily, I will kick you in the nuts."

No other option and no other alternative are redundant. The words option and alternative already imply otherness. "I had no option, Mom, I got this huge erection because there was no alternative." This rule is not optional; the alternative is to be wrong.

You should not use criteria when you mean criterion for the same reason that you should not use criterion when you mean criteria. These is my only criterions.

A light-year is a measurement of distance, not time. "It will take light-years for young basketball players to catch up with the number of women Wilt Chamberlain has fucked, "is a scientific impossibility. Probably in more ways than one.

An acronym is not just any set of initials. It applies only to those that are pronounced as words. MADD, DARE, NATO, and UNICEF are acronyms. FBI, CIA, and KGB are not. They’re just pricks.

I know I’m fighting a losing battle with this one, but I refuse to surrender: Collapsing a building with explosives is not an implosion. An implosion is a very specific scientific phenomenon. The collapsing of a building with explosives is the collapsing of a building with explosives. The explosives explode, and the building collapses inwardly. That is not an implosion. It is an inward collapsing of a building, following a series of smaller explosions designed to make it collapse inwardly. Period. Fuck you!

Here’s another pointless, thankless objection I’d like to register. I say it that way, because I know you people and your goddamn "popular usage" slammed the door on this one a long time ago. But here goes anyway:

A cop out is not an excuse, not even a weak one; it is an admission of guilt. When someone "cops a plea," he admits guilt to some charge, in exchange for better treatment. He has "copped out." When a guy says, "I didn’t get to fuck her because I reminded her of her little brother," he is making an excuse. If he says, "I didn’t get to fuck her because I’m an unattractive schmuck," he is copping out. The trouble arises when an excuse contains a small amount of self-incriminating truth.

This one is directed to the sports people: You are destroying a perfectly good figure of speech: "Getting the monkey off one’s back" does not mean breaking a losing streak. It refers only to ending a dependency. That’s all. The monkey represents a strong yen. A loosing streak does not compare even remotely. Not in a literary sense and not in real life.

Here’s one you hear from the truly dense: "The proof is in the pudding." Well, the proof is not in the pudding; the rice and raisins are in the pudding. The proof of the pudding is in the eating. In this case, proof means "test." The same is true of "the exception that proves (tests) the rule."

An eye for an eye is not a call for revenge, it is an argument for fairness. In the time of the Bible, it was standard to take a life in exchange for an eye. But the Bible said, No, the punishment should fit the crime. Only and eye for an ey, nothing more. It is not vindictive, it is mitigatory.

Don’t make the same mistake twice seems to indicate three mistakes, doesn’t it? First you make the mistake. Then you make the same mistake. Then you make the same mistake twice. If you simply say, "Don’t make the same mistake, " you’ll avoid the first mistake.

Unique needs no modifier. Very unique, quite unique, more unique, real unique, fairly unique, and extremely unique are wrong and they mark you as dumb, although certainly not unique.

Healthy does not mean "healthful." Healthy is a condition, healthful is a property. Vegetable aren’t healthy, they’re dead. No food is healthy. Unless you have an eggplant that’s doing push-ups. Push-ups are healthful.

There is no such thing or word as kudo. Kudos is a singular noun meaning praise, and it is pronounced kyoo-dose. There is also a plural form, spelled the same, but pronounced kyoo-doze. Please stop telling me, "So-and-so picked up another kudo today."

Race, creed, or color is wrong. Race and color, as used in this phrase, describe the same property. And "creed" is a stilted, outmoded way of saying "religion." Leave this tired phrase alone; it has lost its usefulness. Besides, it reeks of insincerity no matter who uses it.

As of yet is simply stupid. As yet, I’ve seen no progress on this one, but of course I’m speaking as of now.

Here’s one you can win money on in a bar if you’re within reach of the right reference book: Chomping at the bit and old stomping ground are incorrect. Some Saturday afternoon when you’re getting bombed on your old stamping ground, you’ll be champing at the bit to use this one.

Sorry to sound so picky, folks, but I listen to a lot of radio and TV and these things have bothered me for a long time.

George Carlin (1997) If I Were in Charge of the Networks
In Andy Borowitz (2011) The 50 Funniest American Writers

It's not paranoia if they're shooting bullets of niceness at you.

The cat had a party to attend, and went to the baboon to get herself groomed.

“What kind of party?” the baboon asked, and she massaged the cat’s neck in order to relax her, the way she did with all her customers. “Hope it’s not that harvest dance down on the riverbank. My sister went last year and said she’d never seen such rowdiness. Said a fight broke out between two possums, and one gal, the wife of one or the other, got pushed onto a stump and knocked out four teeth. And they were pretty ones too, none of this yellowness you find on most things that eat trash.”

The cat shuddered. “No,” she said. “This is just a little get-together, a few friends. That type of thing.”

“Will there be food?” the baboon asked.

“Something,” the cat sighed. “I just don’t know what.”

“ ‘Course it’s hard,” the baboon said. “Everybody eating different things. You got one who likes leaves and another who can’t stand the sight of them. Folks have gotten so picky nowadays, I just lay out some peanuts and figure they either eat them or they don’t.”

“Now, I wouldn’t like a peanut,” the cat said. “Not at all.”

“Well, I guess you’d just have drinks, then. The trick is knowing when to stop.”

“That’s never been a problem for me,” the cat boasted. “I drink until I’m full, and then I push myself away from the table. Always have.”

“Well, you’ve got sense, then. Not like some of them around here.” The baboon picked a flea from the cat’s head and stuck it gingerly between her teeth. “Take this wedding I went to — last Saturday, I think it was. Couple of marsh rabbits got married — you probably heard about it.”

The cat nodded.

“Now, I like a church service, but this was one of those write-your-own-vows sorts of things. Neither of them had ever picked up a pen in their life, but all of a sudden they’re poets, right, like that’s all it takes — being in love.”

“My husband and I wrote our own vows,” the cat said defensively.

“Sure you did,” countered the baboon, “but you probably had something to say, not like these marsh rabbits, carrying on that their love was like a tender sapling or some damn thing. And all the while they had this squirrel off to the side, plucking at a harp, I think it was.”

“I had a harp player at my wedding,” the cat said, “and it was lovely.”

“I bet it was, but you probably hired a professional, someone who could really play. This squirrel, I don’t think she’d taken a lesson in her life. Just clawed at those strings, almost like she was mad at them.”

“Well, I’m sure she tried her best,” the cat said.

The baboon nodded and smiled, the way one must in the service industry. She’d planned to tell a story about a drunken marsh rabbit, the brother of the groom at last week’s wedding, but there was no point in it now, not with this client anyway. Whatever she said, the cat disagreed with, and unless she found a patch of common ground she was sure to lose her tip. “You know,” she said, cleaning a scab off the cat’s neck, “I hate dogs. Simply cannot stand them.”

“What makes you bring that up?” the cat asked.

“Just thinking,” the baboon said. “Some kind of spaniel mix walked in yesterday, asking for a shampoo, and I sent him packing, said, ‘I don’t care how much money you have, I’m not making conversation with anyone who licks his own ass.’ ” And the moment she said it, she realized her mistake.

“Now, what’s wrong with that?” the cat protested. “It’s good to have a clean anus. Why, I lick mine at least five times a day.”

“And I admire you for it,” the baboon said, “but you’re not a dog.”

“Meaning?”

“On a cat it’s . . . classy,” the baboon said. “There’s a grace to it, but a dog, you know the way they hunker over, legs going every which way.” “Well, yes,” the cat said. “I suppose you have a point.”

“Then they slobber and drool all over everything, and what they don’t get wet, they chew to pieces.”

“That they do.” The cat chuckled, and the baboon relaxed and searched her memory for a slanderous dog story. The collie, the German shepherd, the spaniel mix she claimed to have turned away: they were all good friends of hers, and faithful clients, but what would it hurt to pretend otherwise and cross that fine line between licking ass and simply kissing it?