Monday, October 19, 2020

The squash had traveled a thousand miles to rest quietly on Henrietta Gomez’s arms.  The farmer from Taos Pueblo, a 1,000-year-old Indigenous town in northern New Mexico, held the light-green vegetable like a baby.  Before that bright October morning, it had been several decades since the people of Taos Pueblo had seen a squash like the one in Henrietta’s arms, even though it had been part of the town’s diet since time immemorial.  Along with a seed bundle, the squash had been shipped from Decorah, Iowa, where it had been planted in the gardens of Seed Savers Exchange, the nonprofit that found the variety among the 30,000 kinds of seeds in its seed bank.  Rowen White, an Indigenous seed keeper and the chair of the nonprofit’s board, had personally shipped the giant seed-and-squash-filled box a few days before.  The Taos Pueblo event, held in 2018, was the first of at least 60 rematriations organized by the Indigenous Seed Keepers Network that have returned varieties of ancient seeds to Native American communities that had been lost to colonialism and violence.  Maria Paula Rubiano A.

Pickleball is a paddleball sport (similar to a racquet sport) that combines elements of tennisbadminton, and table tennis.  Two or four players use solid paddles made of wood or composite materials to hit a perforated polymer ball, with 26-40 round holes, over a net.  The sport shares features of other racquet sports:  the dimensions and layout of a badminton court, and a net and rules somewhat similar to tennis, with several modifications.  Pickleball was invented in the mid 1960s as a children's backyard game.  The sport is growing internationally too.  Many European and Asian countries have started adding pickleball courts.  The game started during the summer of 1965 on Bainbridge IslandWashington, at the home of Joel Pritchard, who later served in Congress and as lieutenant governor.  He and two of his friends, Bill Bell and Barney McCallum, returned from golf and found their families bored one Saturday afternoon.  They attempted to set up badminton, but no one could find the shuttlecock.  They improvised with a perforated plastic ball, lowered the badminton net, and fabricated paddles of plywood from a nearby shed.  McCallum made the first paddles that were specifically for paddleball on his basement bandsaw.  He tried several alternative paddles, but one he called “M2” became the paddle of choice for most players.  In 1972, McCallum incorporated Pickle-Ball, Inc. and manufactured wooden paddles to help grow the sport.  His son David McCallum now runs the business, which is headquartered in Kent, Washington.  Some sources claim that the name "Pickleball" was derived from that of the Pritchard's family dog, Pickles, or from the term "pickle boat".  According to Joan Pritchard, Joel Pritchard's wife, “The name of the game became Pickle Ball, after I said it reminded me of the Pickle Boat in crew where oarsmen were chosen from the leftovers of other boats.  Somehow the idea the name came from our dog Pickles was attached to the naming of the game, but Pickles wasn’t on the scene for two more years.  The dog was named for the game, but stories about the name’s origin were funnier thinking the game was named for the dog." 

Moxie means force of character, determination, or nerve.  It’s the perfect name for the cure-all drink that its inventor claimed “cured drunkards by the thousands, effectively too; made more homes happy; cured more nervous, prostrated, overworked people; prevented more crime and suffering in New England than all other agencies combined.”  Moxie is such an excellent name because the descriptive word is actually a product of the drink’s marketing.  Moxie Nerve Food, the original name for the beverage, was invented before moxie was conversationally used at all.  In fact, the first recorded use of the word was in 1930, while the beverage was invented and patented in 1885.  When Dr. Augustin Thompson of Union, Maine, noticed a lack of medicinal elixirs that didn’t use cocaine or alcohol, he set out to to create his own.  He used a medley of herbs, relying on gentian root as the unique ingredient in his proprietary blend.  (He said his friend Lieutenant Moxie sent gentian root from his posting in South America, but the lieutenant was entirely fictional.)  Gentian root is responsible for Moxie’s characteristically bitter, polarizing aftertaste—the same distinctive flavor in Angostura bitters.  He also added sassafras, which was banned in 1960 by the FDA for its carcinogenic properties.  In 1906, when the Pure Food and Drug Act prevented Moxie from being sold as a medicinal product, it was reborn as a soft drink likened to “root beer on steroids.”  Moxie’s marketing team built a 32-foot-tall bottle for the New England Food Fair that same year, and the bottle still stands in Maine today.  Moxie’s new identity as a soda did nothing to derail its popularity, and in 1920, it actually outsold Coca-Cola. 

The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, Act No 55 of 1949, was an apartheid law in South Africa that prohibited marriages between "Europeans" and "non-Europeans".  It was among the first pieces of apartheid legislation to be passed following the National Party's rise to power in 1948.  Subsequent legislation, especially the Population Registration and Immorality Acts of 1950, facilitated its implementation by requiring all individuals living in South Africa to register as a member of one of four officially defined racial groups and prohibiting extramarital sexual relationships between those classified as "white" on the one hand and those classified as "non-White" (Blacks, Coloureds, later also Asians) on the other.  The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act was repealed by the Immorality and Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Amendment Act, 1985, which was passed during the presidency of P. W. Botha.,_1949 

Trevor Noah (born 20 February 1984) is a South African comedian, writer, producer, political commentator, actor, and television host.  He is the host of The Daily Show, an American satirical news program on Comedy Central.  Born in Johannesburg, Noah began his career as a comedian, presenter, and actor in South Africa in 2002.  He has since had several television hosting roles with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and was the runner-up in the fourth season of South Africa's iteration of Strictly Come Dancing in 2008.  From 2010 to 2011, he acted as the creator and host of the late-night talk show Tonight with Trevor Noah, which aired on M-Net and DStv.  After his stand-up comedy career attained international success, Noah began appearing on American late-night talk shows and English panel shows.  In 2014, Noah became the Senior International Correspondent for The Daily Show, and the following year, he succeeded long-time host Jon Stewart, and is set to remain in this position until 2022.  His autobiographical comedy book Born a Crime was published in 2016 and garnered critical acclaim.  Trevor Noah was born on 20 February 1984 in JohannesburgSouth Africa.  His father, Robert, is of Swiss ancestry, and his mother, Patricia Nombuyiselo Noah, is of Xhosa ancestry.  Noah claimed that (following antisemitism accusations) his mother converted to Judaism when he was 10 or 11 years old, although she did not have him convert.  Under apartheid legislation, Noah's mother was classified as Black, and his father was classified as White.  Noah himself was classified as Coloured.  At the time of his birth, his parents' interracial relationship was illegal under apartheid law, and Noah highlights this in his autobiography.

American Utopia starts with David Byrne, barefoot in a silver-gray suit, holding a model of the brain and pondering different ideas of connection.  He's gradually joined by his equally barefoot co-stars, also uniformed in silver-gray suits, who sing, dance and play hand-held instruments as they perform nearly 20 Byrne songs, from his Talking Heads classics to his more recent solo work.  Thanks to wireless technology, everyone moves around the stage in seemingly total freedom.  Byrne points out that many of his cast members are immigrants, as is he—a naturalized American born in Scotland.  For Byrne, utopia is about embracing difference.  It's about men and women from a diversity of races and cultures coming together to create something new, alive and beautiful that helps people connect.  While Byrne starts alone on the stage, by the grand finale, he and his co-stars are marching through the aisles singing the cheery song "Road to Nowhere."  Everybody's together on-screen—even the audience.  John Powers  See David Byrne's American Utopia (2020):  Official Trailer | HBO at  1:19 

A THOUGHT FOR OCTOBER 19  Life is mostly froth and bubble, / Two things stand like stone, / Kindness in another's trouble, / Courage in your own. - Adam Lindsay Gordon, poet (19 Oct 1833-1870)  Issue 2273  October 19, 2020 

Friday, October 16, 2020

Glamping means “glamorous” camping.  Flexcation mean longer stays or midweek visits.  Staycation means a vacation spent at or close to home. 

The story of the Resolute Desk goes back to 1855 when a whaler named George Henry found the abandoned ship the H.M.S. Resolute off Baffin Island in the Arctic.  The ship was returned to England and served the British Navy for many more years.  After England finally decommissioned the ship, its oak timbers were used to create a desk weighing more than 1,000 pounds.  Given by Queen Victoria to President Rutherford B. Hayes in 1880, this desk has been used on the Second Floor of the White House, the Ground Floor, and, most notably, the Oval Office.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt requested that the rear kneehole of the Resolute Desk be fitted with a panel carved with the presidential coat of arms but he did not live to see it installed in 1945.  Following the Truman renovation of the White House (1948–1952), the desk was placed in the broadcast room on the ground floor where it was used by President Dwight D. Eisenhower during radio and television broadcasts.  It was first used in The Oval Office in 1961 at the request of President John F. Kennedy after his wife, Jackie, found the historic desk covered in a green cloth.  President Lyndon B. Johnson selected another desk for his office and the Resolute Desk was loaned to the Kennedy Library for a traveling exhibition from 1964–1965 and then was taken to the Smithsonian Institution for exhibit during 1966 and 1967.  In January, 1977, President Jimmy Carter requested that the historic desk be returned to the White House for use, once again, in the Oval Office.  In 1981, President Ronald Reagan also chose to use this desk in the Oval Office.  President George Bush used it in the same office for five months in 1989 before having it moved to his Residence Office.  On January 20th, 1993, the Resolute Desk was returned to the Oval Office for use by President Clinton.  See picture of the desk at 

THE MUSER FORGOT to put butter in her pancake batter once, but no one seemed to notice.  Which leads to a few thoughts:  In your recipes, try cutting salt by half, sugar by half, and fat by half.  Then try leaving out those ingredients altogether. 

The British comedian Frankie Howerd used to say in mock astonishment:  “I’m flabbergasted—never has my flabber been so gasted!”  That’s about as good an explanation for the origin of this strange word for being surprised or astonished as you’re likely to get.  It turns up first in print in 1772, in an article on new words in the Annual Register.  The writer couples two fashionable terms:  “Now we are flabbergasted and bored from morning to night”.  (Bored—being wearied by something tedious—had appeared only a few years earlier.)  Presumably some unsung genius had put together flabber and aghast to make one word.  The source of the first part is obscure.  It might be linked to flabby, suggesting that somebody is so astonished that they shake like a jelly.  It can’t be connected with flapper, in the sense of a person who fusses or panics, as some have suggested, as that sense only emerged at the end of the nineteenth century.  But flabbergasted could have been an existing dialect word, as one early nineteenth-century writer claimed to have found it in Suffolk dialect and another—in the form flabrigast—in Perthshire.  Further than this, nobody can go with any certainty. 

The roots of Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project began when co-founders Jude and Addie Schuenemeyer got into the nursery profession in 2001.  They originally ran a nursery that had been in business for over 50 years and had a lot of older clientele, who often asked about apple varieties they remembered enjoying as children.  In asking around, the Schuenemeyers learned the area’s rich history, discovered other rare varieties, and realized just how many old trees still grew here--quite often with the descendants of settlers who planted these old orchards still living on the original farms or at least in the area.  After the couple purchased a peach orchard in McElmo Canyon, Jude attended an orchard restoration workshop in Capital Reef with some of our Nation’s most renowned fruit enthusiasts, and taught himself to graft from books.  Thus began their efforts to find and graft from heritage trees returning one to the trees owners when possible, bringing a piece of living history back to the place where the parent tree stood for more than 100 years. 

In Australia, crisp-skinned sausages help grease the wheels of democracy.  On many an election day, humble sausages, also called snags, are barbecued outside polling areas either for free or to raise money for local causes.  Slingers of “democracy sausages” can be sure to get lots of customers, since not voting in Australia gets you fined.  “Sausage sizzles” were already an Australian tradition, even before they achieved civic importance.  At these fundraising events, school and community groups sell sausages doused in tomato or BBQ sauce and housed inside sliced white bread.  Onions are common but usually cost extra.  Many sausage sizzles outside of the election season happen at Bunnings hardware stores, which rent grilling space to fundraisers.  In 2016, sausage sizzling at the polls reached its highest profile yet.  During the year’s federal election, Twitter released a snag-on-bread emoji to accompany its #ausvotes hashtag, while #democracysausage experienced a major uptick.  Election Sausage Sizzles, a site that maps where voters can track down tasty sausages to accompany their ballot, recorded 1,992 sizzles and bake sales at the polls.  And social media seized on Opposition leader Bill Shorten’s gaffe of eating a democracy sausage from the middle instead of the end.  All the hype resulted in democracy sausage beating out “deplorables” and “smashed avo” (avocado toast) to become Australia’s 2016 word of the year, as decreed by the Australian National Dictionary Centre.  Due to mandatory voting, Australia has one of the highest voter turnouts in the world.  And really, a sausage is cheaper than the $20 fine for not voting. 

Chock-a-block is actually a fairly widely known North American term, I’m told.  In Britain, it’s now common to hear the abbreviated forms chocka (or chocker), which are both from World War Two services’ slang, and in Australia the closely related chockers.  Chock here is the same word as in chock-full, jam-packed full or filled to overflowing.  One meaning of chock in the nineteenth century was of two things pressed so tightly against each other that they can’t move.  This led to the nautical term that’s the direct origin of the phrase.  Block refers to the pulley blocks of the tackle used for various hauling jobs on board ship.  These worked in pairs, with the ropes threaded between them.  When the men hauling tackle ropes had hoisted the load as far as it would go, the two pulley blocks touched and could move no further.  They were then said to be chock-a-block, or crammed together.  The origin of chock is complicated and not altogether understood.  It’s clear that there has been some cross-fertilisation between it and chock in the sense of a lump of wood used as a wedge to stop something moving.  That’s closely enough related to our sense to make it seem as though it might be the same word.  But the experts think that chock in chock-a-block actually came from chock-full.  That has been around at least since 1400.  It comes from a different source, the verb chokken, as in the Middle English phrase chokken togeder, crammed together.  This in turn may be from an Old French verb choquier, to collide or thrust.  One of the problems of working out the origin has been that chock-full has appeared in several different spellings—including chuck-full and choke-full—reflecting users’ uncertainty about where it comes from. 

SAVE TIME  Steam salmon atop rice as it cooks.  ADD COLOR  Sprinkle cocoa powder, paprika or cinnamon.   MODIFY  If you don’t have a waffle iron, use a baking pan with a lip or an electric indoor grill suitable for cooking pancakes. 

onionskin, an Americanism dating back to 1875–80; onion + skin, is a thin, lightweight, translucent, glazed paper, used especially for making carbon copies. 

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”  “Always forgive your enemies; nothing annoys them so much.”  ― Irish poet and playwright Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde (16 October 1854 – 30 November 1900), author of The Picture of Dorian Gray.

WORD FOR OCTOBER 16  saveloy noun   (chiefly Australia, Britain, New Zealand) A seasoned and smoked pork sausage, normally purchased ready-cooked.  October 16 is recognized by the United Nations as World Food Day to highlight the importance of food security and good nutrition, and the need for action against hunger  Issue 2272  October 16, 2020

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

As the sole son and eldest of four children of best-selling novelists Jonathan and Faye Kellerman, Jesse has the pedigree, the academic credentials (B.S. from Harvard, M.F.A. from Brandeis) and the winning combination of self-confidence and self-deprecating humor not only to create memorable fiction in his own right, but also to handle with ease the lofty expectations that come from being one of “those” Kellermans.  Jesse’s mystery debut, Sunstroke, is a quirky noir tale in the Jim Thompson tradition about Gloria Mendez, a middle-aged Los Angeles secretary who has grown dependent over the years on her secret unrequited love for her older boss, Carl, a congenial if clueless toy importer.  When Carl fails to return from one of his usual Mexican vacations (authorities claim he died in a fiery car crash), Gloria reluctantly heads south to retrieve his body. In the process, she encounters a handsome young Mexican claiming to be Carl’s son who offers a dramatically different version of her boss’ life.  The more she learns about his secret past, the less she trusts Carl, his son or the official version of his death.  While Kellerman adheres to most noir conventions, his kinetic narrative voice separates Sunstroke from the pack.  His omniscient storyteller is a sardonic, wisecracking mischief-maker whose droll asides lend real snap and menace to the proceedings, giving the book a playfulness similar to The Usual Suspects or Pulp Fiction. “To me, drama without comedy is just dead and soulless, and comedy without any sense of gravitas is just idiotic,” he says.  “So when I’m writing more serious stuff, the way I avoid melodrama is by making sure that my sense of humor comes through.”  One might expect the natural heir to the Kellerman franchise to be an avid mystery fan, right?  Not quite.  Though he admires a handful of mystery writers (“My parents, Elmore Leonard, Ruth Rendell, Jim Thompson”), he rarely reads crime fiction.  Instead, Jesse aspires to become that rarest of rare birds, a popular literary writer in the vein of his top five:  Vladimir Nabokov, David Mamet, Evelyn Waugh, Graham Greene and John Fowles. In fact, writing crime fiction was not Plan A or even Plan B.  He entered Harvard as a film and photography major, then switched to psychology, his father’s discipline, to broaden his experience.  Although Harvard does not have a theater department per se, its affiliation with the American Repertory Theater proved fruitful; Kellerman won the 2003 Princess Grace Award as the country’s most promising playwright and had his plays produced throughout the United States and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  Whatever course his muse may take him, Jesse is certain that family revelry, not rivalry, will follow.  BookPage interview by Jay MacDonald 

Atlanta is one of the greenest cities in the United States.  Many of the greenspaces around the city receive resources, but not all communities receive equal resources.  As development continues to increase across Atlanta, urban planners and tree experts have agreed to protect some of the forested areas that already exist.  Thomasville Heights residents have endured environmental degradation, disinvestment and are now experiencing displacement.  Through a partnership with The Nature Conservancy, HABESHA, Inc., has worked with Thomasville Heights Civic League, Purpose Built Schools, AVLF, Atlanta Audubon, Park Pride, Trees Atlanta, Trust for Public Land and many others to offer two solid years of training, exposure and career opportunities to residents of South and Southwest Atlanta, The Nature Conservancy is coordinating the development of a plan to better care for the South River Forest in SE Atlanta and South DeKalb.  The goal of the project in Thomasville Heights is to work with residents to prepare for green careers while also improving the look and feel of the community.  This project is complemented by restoration efforts in a nearby wetland forest, Constitution Lakes and stream restoration at McDaniel Wetlands and along the South River. 

Loving monster movies began with my family, with searching for the zipper on Godzilla’s rubber suit, and watching a terrible yet somehow lovable creature wreak havoc on an unsuspecting Tokyo.  For me, Godzilla is intertwined with the faded haze of childhood, with a TV that changed channels via clunky plastic dial, with a green-and-blue-flowered quilt, and with the savory-sweet smell of corn fritters for breakfast.  Cuddled on a bed, we laughed as on-screen scientists pondered how to communicate with and control a lumbering metaphor for nuclear apocalypse.  Monster movies are a kind of fear that’s as safe and sanitized as my memories of childhood Saturdays.  My first space monster was HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey, a psychotic computer made by humans.  It mixed fear of the future with our fear of technology and the control we allow it.  Soon came Alien’s Xenomorphs, which combined a contemporary fear of the other with the fear of the future.  Erika Swyler  Read how to survive monsters including mummies and vampires at  

Louis Bromfield was a successful author and strong advocate of scientific agriculture and soil conservation.  Bromfield was born on December 27, 1896, near Mansfield, Ohio.  He attended Cornell Agricultural College from 1914 to 1916, and then transferred to Columbia University to earn a degree in journalism.  Bromfield left Columbia before graduating.  During World War I, he joined the American Ambulance Corps with the French Army and served until 1919.  After the end of World War I, Broomfield began a journalism career.  He lived in New York City and wrote articles for several magazines.  In 1924, Bromfield wrote his first novel, The Green Bay Tree.  Soon after completing this book, Bromfield moved to France, where he was acquainted with Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Edith Wharton, Ernest Hemingway, and Sinclair Lewis.  In 1926, Bromfield won the Pulitzer Price for a novel called Early Autumn.  He continued to write fiction throughout the 1920s and early 1930s.  In 1939, Bromfield returned to Ohio and purchased Malabar Farm, near Mansfield.   Bromfield died on March 18, 1956.  One of his daughters, Ellen Bromfield Carson, continued her father's conservation efforts.  Malabar Farm is now a state park.

Theme from The Blob - The Five Blobs by Bacharach and David, 1958.  (The film billed the composer as Carmichael.)  3:16   The theme from The Blob was actually sung by one singer, Bernie Nee, and multi-tracked to sound like five singers.  With music by Burt Bacharach and lyrics by Mack David, brother of Hal (Bacharach's future songwriting partner in the 1960s), this song became a hit and rose to #33 on the Billboard Top 40 Chart.  Though it has silly lyrics, it's hard to hear this song which begins "Beware of the Blob," and not have it stick in your memory bank, like many bubble-gum songs of that era. 

In the heart of Rome, the Roma Termini station is home to two McDonald’s, one on the ground floor and another located on the basement floor.  If you stop in for an order of McNuggets at the latter, you can’t help but notice their unusual decorations:  the ruins of an ancient Roman wall.  The Servian Wall was constructed around the city of Rome during the 4th century B.C.  The outline of the wall possibly dates back to the times of King Servius Tullius, for which it garnered its namesake.  The wall stood for generations as the first line of defense against the Gauls and Carthaginians.  By the early Imperial age, the wall became unnecessary as the Roman army grew in number and power.  Eventually, it was superseded by the Aurelian Wall constructed by Emperor Aurelian in 275.  The remains of the Servian Wall can be spotted at numerous locations throughout today’s Rome, the most notable and largest section is located right outside the Termini station.  A smaller section of the wall was unearthed during the construction of the station’s underground shopping mall, and was thus integrated into the dining area of McDonald’s.  See pictures at

October 4, 2020  For half a century, PBS programs have let us traverse with the wildlife of the Okavango Delta, solve mysteriescook alongside culinary artistsfall in love and ask a million questions.  PBS has educated, engaged and inspired viewers across America, one program at a time.  As PBS celebrates its 50th anniversary, take a look at some of our classic content.  Madisson Haynes 

THOUGHT FOR OCTOBER 14  The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful. - E.E. Cummings, poet (14 Oct 1894-1962)

WORD FOR OCTOBER 14  in-joke  noun Synonym of inside joke (joke that is understood or meant to be understood only by certain people who are aware of the details 

WORDS FOR THESE TIMES  fake Twitter accounts, touch deprivation, hiring paid crowds, astroturfing (masking the sponsors of a message or organization to make it appear as though it originates from and is supported by grassroots participants.)  Issue 2271  October 14, 2020

Monday, October 12, 2020

There’s a reason why the Incas worshipped vicuña, the miniature cinnamon-hued cousins of the llama.  The doe-eyed creatures, which inhabit the chilly Andean plateaus, produce a fleece so fine that it was considered to be cloth of gold.  Only Inca royalty was permitted to wear it.  About three million vicuña once roamed the rocky terrains of the Andes—until the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors, who made guns the primary method of obtaining “the silk of the new world” which was used to line King Philip II’s divans.  Meg Lukens Noonan, author of “The Coat Route:  On the Trail of the $50,000 Coat,” began her research into vicuña seven years ago and has witnessed first-hand the traditional “chakku” shearing process, which is inspired by Inca tradition.  She says the Italian brand has been pivotal in bolstering the population of the species in the wild, but is sceptical about the trade agreements the company has in place with local villagers.  “The villagers were given a stake in the harvesting of the fleece so that it was advantageous for everyone; they got some money out of it and also had reason to protect the vicuña from poachers,” says Lukens Noonan.  “But the villagers have not made a lot of money from this, especially when you look at the disparity [between what they earn and] what the finished products are worth.  Osman Ahmed 

rath  noun  Archaeology (in Ireland) a strong circular earthen wall forming an enclosure and serving as a fort and residence for a tribal chief.  Rath  noun  Indian  A chariot, especially one used to carry an idol in a ceremonial procession.  See also rath yatra.

In the 17th century, the island of Hispaniola (now Haiti and the Dominican Republic) was overrun by feral pigs, boars, and cattle.  Spanish ships were often docked in the ports, and the long-lasting, salted meat was an easy sell to sailors.  But they first needed to cook it on a wooden, grill-like frame known as a boucan.  Though many cultures have different takes on the grill, the name and practice of boucanning meat originates with the Tupi of Brazil.  European explorers and conquistadors, impressed by the Tupi’s methods, brought both the technique and terminology to the West Indies.  But it was French hunters who really embraced the boucan.  Smoking huts and grills were such common sights at their camps that they became known as boucaniers.  Pork was by far the most popular meat cooked on the boucan, but turtle barbecued in its shell (boucan de tortue) was also a favorite.  To lend the smoke a strong aroma, boucaniers sometimes added the animal’s skin and bones to the fire.  There were even distinct marinating techniques.  The Sea Rover’s Practice: Pirate Tactics and Techniques, 1630-1730 notes that many grill-masters first brushed the meat with a mixture of lime juice, salt, pepper, and crushed pimento.  Unfortunately, any subtle spices would likely be lost on those who took the meat to sea.  Boucanned meat grew so dry after six months that sailors needed to soak the pieces in warm water before eating them.  Eventually, the local Spanish government grew tired of the growing population of hunters and launched a violent campaign to drive them out.  The operation was partially successful in making many boucaniers change careers, but backfired in one significant way.  While some boucaniers turned to farming, others took to the seas and raided Spanish ships.  As a result, the term boucanier became synonymous with the pirates who attacked ships.  This became buccaneer.  Modern barbecue techniques owe a debt to the smoking methods of the hunters turned pirates.  We may also have the boucaniers to thank for the modern pig roast.  They threw raucous beach parties known as boucan de cochon.  The only requirements: a shorefront, a roasting pig, and lots of rum.  While boucanning isn't widely practiced anymore, you can still watch demonstrations of its relative, jerking, in Jamaica. 

If you were to wander into Cafe Books in Canmore, Alta., with a desire to read the work of a local author, you would likely find yourself spoiled for choice.  About 50 to 60 choices, in fact—and that's just what's currently on the shelves.  For decades, some magic about Canmore has either created authors or spirited them away to live in the Bow Valley.  The estimated number of authors in the town starts around 60 and inches all the way up to 100, depending on who you ask.  For context, the mountain town has a population of about 14,000—which means that if the latter figure is most accurate, nearly one per cent of its residents write.  Their numbers include Paige Cooper, Bob Sandford, Katrina Rosen, Jamey Glasnovic and Stephen Bown.  Hannah Kost

A jabot (from French jabot: a bird's crop) is a decorative clothing accessory consisting of lace or other fabric falling from the throat, suspended from or attached to a neckband or collar; or simply pinned at the throat.  It evolved from the frilling or ruffles decorating the front of a shirt in the 19th century.  In the 17th and 18th centuries, a jabot consisted of cambric or lace edging sewn to both sides of the front opening of a man's shirt, partially visible through a vest/waistcoat worn over it.  This style arose around 1650.  Jabots made of lace and hanging loose from the neck were an essential component of upper class, male fashion in the baroque period.  In the late 19th century a jabot would be a cambric or lace bib, for decorating women's clothing.  It would be held in place at the neck with a brooch or a sewn-on neckband.  Jabots survive in the present as components of various official costumes.  The white bibs of judges of the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany are officially described as jabots, as are those worn by judges and counsel throughout Australian courts.  Jabots are prescribed attire for barristers appearing before the Supreme Court of South Australia.  French magistrate court dress and French academic dress include a jabot, called rabat.  It is usually of plain cotton, except that of academic high officials, which is made of lace.  Jabots are worn by the judges and Advocates General of the Court of Justice of the European Union.  In the United States Supreme Court, jabots are worn by some female justices, but are not mandatory.  Both United States Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor often wear jabots with their judicial robes; Justice Elena Kagan, in contrast, does not.  Ginsburg had a collection of jabots from around the world.  She stated in 2014 that she had a particular jabot that she wore when issuing her dissents (black with gold embroidery and faceted stones), as well as another she wore when issuing majority opinions (crocheted yellow and cream with crystals) which was a gift from her law clerks.  Her favorite jabot (woven with white beads) was from Cape Town, South Africa.  See also

In 1917, the Jerry O’Mahony Diner Company in New Jersey began manufacturing roadside diners.  The long and narrow prefabricated buildings were trucked on railroad flatcars to various locations across the United States, and were often confused with the actual railroad rolling stock that they resembled.  One such diner arrived in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 1926.  The diner had been ordered by Anthony Franks, who paid $7,500 plus $325 in shipping charges.  It caused quite a stir among the locals, who watched as six horses pulled the diner to its downtown location not far from the shore of Lake Michigan.  Franks Diner has been serving food ever since, making it the oldest continuously-operating lunch-car diner in the United States.  The Franks family ran the diner until they sold it in 2001, and it changed hands again in 2010.  In that time, the space received a few upgrades, including the addition of a dining room, an expanded kitchen, and sections of brick wall around the exterior, which largely obscure its lunch-car roots.  See pictures at  See also  Issue 2270  October 12, 2020

Friday, October 9, 2020

La Gruta in Teotihuacán, Mexico is literally in a cave.  Since 1906, visitors to the ancient city have cooled down and worked off their post-visit appetite in this little-known subterranean restaurant that’s 650 feet from the famous archaeological site.  The impressive space is decorated only by its own natural features.  Sun pours in through the upper reaches of the cave during daytime, while at night hundreds of candles cast a warm glow about the cool, echoey space.  The menu boasts an extensive selection of pre-Hispanic specialties such as tlacoyitos (corn cakes smothered in anise-flavored green sauce), the more adventurous escamoles al epazote (ant larvae with wormseed herb), and traditional pit barbecued meats ranging from rabbit to goat and lamb 

wuther verb (intransitive, archaic, dialectal) To make a rushing sound; to whizz.  (intransitive, archaic, dialectal) To shake vigorously. 

Wuthering Heights was one of the National Board of Review's Top Ten Films of 1939 and it won the New York Film Critics Circle Award for best picture.  Gregg Toland won an Academy Award for best black-and-white cinematography.  Wuthering Heights was nominated for seven more Oscars:  Best Picture; Best Director; Best Actor for Olivier; Best Supporting Actress for Fitzgerald; Best Screenplay; Best Art Direction and Best Musical Score.  Wuthering Heights was filmed in Southern California's Conejo Valley, and Goldwyn went to great lengths to recreate the Yorkshire moors on the rolling hills and pastures where they made the movie.  Goldwyn sent a film crew to England to bring back 1,000 heather plants.  The crew then stripped 500 acres of vegetation and placed the real heather with 15,000 tumbleweeds that were spray painted purple. 

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg  Homeric  (ho-MER-ik) adjective  1.  Relating to Homer, his works, or his time.  2.  Epic; large-scale; heroic.  After Homer (c. 750 BCE), who is presumed to have composed the epic poems the Iliad and the Odyssey.  Earliest documented use:  1594.  votive  (VOH-tiv) adjective Relating to a vow, wish, desire, etc.  From Latin votum (vow), from vovere (to vow), which also gave us vow, vote, and devote.  Earliest documented use:  1582.  The mightiest of kings may last only a few years, yet words are forever.  The same words that were used by Shakespeare, Homer, and Tagore are the ones we use today.  English mind, Greek mentor, and Sanskrit mantra, for example, are forms of the same root, Indo-European men- (to think).  We hope to continue bringing you thought-provoking words and word-provoking thoughts, but we need your help.  Autumn Contributing Membership Drive  If you enjoy A.Word.A.Day and other services from (all free), please make a contribution today.  Become a contributing member  We welcome your support in any amount.  As a token of our appreciation, those contributing $125 or more are invited to choose a signed copy of any of my books.  Thank you for your continued support!  Anu Garg  Words, when written, crystallize history; their very structure gives permanence to the unchangeable past. - Francis Bacon, essayist, philosopher, and statesman (1561-1626) 

The 20-20-20 rule says that for every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, a person should look at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds.  Following the rule is a great way to remember to take frequent breaks.  This should reduce eye strain caused by looking at digital screens for too long.  The 20-20-20 rule was designed by Californian optometrist Jeffrey Anshel as an easy reminder to take breaks and prevent eye strain, according to the Optometry Times.  Look out a window during the 20-second breaks.  Judging a distance of 20 feet inside can be difficult, but focusing on a tree or lamppost across the street should work well.  Alternately, a person can benefit from closing their eyes for 20 seconds every 20 minutes.  Also, remembering to blink can prevent dry eye by encouraging tear production.  Anyone who spends the day sitting should periodically get up and walk around, to prevent back and neck pains.  See also 

Rathskellers originated beneath German town halls.  These restaurants and beer halls let parties debate upstairs, then come downstairs for a few drinks and restoration of camaraderie.  German immigrants brought the tradition to the United States, including a striking example that lies hidden beneath the Minnesota State Capitol.  Architects and consultants have employed paint remnant analysis and two photographs to restore the 114-year-old beer hall.  After an art conservator removed 22 layers of old paint from the rathskeller walls using a scalpel and tweezers, designs emerged that had been hidden for 70 years.  This included 29 German mottoes, such as “Drink, but don’t indulge in drinking; speak, but don’t pick quarrels” and “Today for money, tomorrow for nothing.”  Architect Cass Gilbert designed the building in 1905 with Minnesota’s German immigrants—the state’s largest foreign-born population at the time—in mind.  He also added rathskellers to two of his other projects, including the Woolworth Building in New York City. 

The Nobel Prize in Literature for 2020 is awarded to the American poet Louise Glück “for her unmistakable poetic voice that with austere beauty makes individual existence universal”.  Louise Glück made her debut in 1968 with Firstborn.  See all Nobel prizes for 2020 at 

October 8, 2020  Hungarian architect Ernő Rubik takes play very seriously—and suggests we could all lighten up.  "Most people are taking most of the things too seriously," he says.  "They really can't enjoy life because of that."  If Rubik's name sounds familiar that's because he's the inventor of the Rubik's Cube—that fun (and frustrating) colorful cube puzzle.  "I learn most from my failures — that is the way to learn, that is the way to be successful."  And Rubik knows a thing or two about success.  He was obsessed with puzzles and solving problems as a kid.  He invented the cube in 1974, and when it was first sold in Hungarian toy shops in 1977 it flew off shelves.  His new book, Cubed: The Puzzle of Us All, tells the whole story.  Plenty of us have never solved a Rubik's Cube, but world competitions abound for speed cubers.  Real die-hard players can unscramble it in mere seconds!  And plenty of cubers get creative, adding additional layers of challenge.  Sankavi Rathan of Canada recently solved 30 Rubik's Cubes—one handed while also hula hooping.  Que Jianyu solved three Rubik's Cubes—while juggling them—in November 2018.  Cubers solve underwater, blindfolded, with their feet, on unicycles . . .  and of course robots have gotten pretty good at them, too.  David Greene  Link to videos at  See also 

Grandson of President John Tyler, Who Left Office in 1845, Dies at Age 95 by Livia Gershon  Born 14 years after the nation’s founding, the tenth commander-in-chief still has one living grandson.  President John Tyler was born in 1790 and died in 1862.  In a reminder of just how young the United States is as a country, Mental Floss’ Michele Debczak reports that Lyon Gardiner Tyler Jr., grandson of tenth president John Tyler, died on September 26, 2020 at age 95.  Lyon’s brother Harrison Ruffin Tyler—born in 1928—is still living.  John Tyler was born in 1790, just 14 years after the nation’s founding.  He became president in 1841, after William Henry Harrison died in office, and served until 1845.  His son Lyon Gardiner Tyler was born in 1853 (a full 12 years before the 13th Amendment abolished slavery), when John was 63.  Lyon Gardiner Sr., in turn, was in his 70s when Lyon Gardiner Jr. and Harrison Ruffin were born.  John Tyler was the first vice president to assume the presidency upon his predecessor’s death.  (Popular lore suggests Harrison caught a cold after delivering a lengthy inauguration speech while not wearing a hat and coat, writes Ronald G. Shafer for the Washington Post, but the ninth president only came down with pneumonia three weeks later, when he was caught in a sudden rainstorm.)  Contemporaries questioned whether John—derisively dubbed “His Accidency”—had the right to full presidential powers, and his tenure was ridden with conflict.  Thank you, Muse reader!  Issue 2269  October 9, 2020