Wednesday, September 18, 2019

On the Basis of Sex, out in limited release December 25, 2018,  depicts Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her pre-Supreme Court days.  The movie catches Ginsburg back when she was a 24-year-old superhero.  In 1956, at the age of 24, Ginsburg (Felicity Jones in the film) was balancing a near impossible set of pressures:  She was one of nine women students at Harvard Law School.  She was caring for her husband, Martin Ginsburg (Armie Hammer in the movie), who was recently diagnosed with testicular cancer (and was still in law school).  Finally, she was the mother to a toddler, Jane Ginsburg.  Jane was born in 1955, right before her parents began Harvard Law School.  In an interview withThe Atlantic, Ginsburg credited Jane for helping her maintain perspective while she was a law student.  “I think I had better balance, better sense of proportions of what matters,” she said.  "I felt each part of my life gave me respite from the other.”  James, who was born in 1965, doesn't figure into the movie as much as his sister, Jane.  Unlike his sister, James didn't follow in the family tradition of a career in law (though he did go to law school).  Instead, he became a record label executive.  Though perhaps James' love of music was genetic, too—Ruth Bader Ginsburg is a huge opera fan.  In 1989, when he was a first year in law school, James Ginsburg launched Cedille Records, a classic music label.  Twenty years later, Cedille Records is going strong.  In 2009, James was named Chicagoan of the Year by the Chicago Tribune for his work championing Chicago's musicians.  Elena Nicolaou

Ruth Bader was born in Brooklyn in 1933, the daughter of a furrier peddling finery in the midst of the Great Depression and a mother who prized education.  Her family would have confronted the social difficulties of being Jewish in an era when anti-Semitism could be found overtly painted on signs:  “No Jews allowed.”  In the 1970s, the second wave of feminism was going mainstream and women’s rights were taking center stage, while sexism continued to be pervasive and women continued to be told that their place was in the home.  “When feminism hits the society . . . it’s like a typhoon.  It goes rushing through,” Ellen DuBois, a professor of history and gender studies at UCLA, says of this moment in history.  Feminists, she adds, were “sort of exotic creatures” in the early 1970s, often mocked as ear-aching complainers.  Ginsburg, after becoming the first tenured female law professor at Columbia University, co-founded the Women’s Rights Project at the American Civil Liberties Union and devoted herself to the cause.  Ginsburg was the 92nd woman to ever argue in front of the Supreme Court, according to an analysis done by author and lawyer Marlene Trestman.  In 1966, Cushman says, only 1% of advocates making oral arguments before the court were women.  By 1976, the number had reached 5%.  By 2000, it was closer to 15%.  Her position as a successful lawyer arguing historic cases was the exception to the rule.  Ginsburg has said she had to work not only against anti-Semitism and hostility toward women, but that people like her had “to be sure you were better than everyone else” to overcome that sense of being other.  Katy Steinmetz

Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you. * We have the oldest written constitution in the world still in force, and it starts with three words, 'We, the people.' * It is not women's liberation.  It is women's and men's liberation. * A gender line does not put women on a pedestal . . . but in a cage. * Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Herbert George Jenkins (1876–1923) was a British writer.  In 1912 Jenkins founded his own publishing company:  Herbert Jenkins Limited.  Its offices were in a narrow, 19th-century building with five floors in Duke of York Street, just off Jermyn Street in London.  It was a successful business from the start because of Jenkins' unique ability (at the time) to cater for the ever-changing public taste.  He also had a good eye for new talent, not being discouraged if a manuscript had been rejected by other publishers.  His publicity methods were innovative, too; with arresting advertisements and dust jackets, and a monthly publication called Wireless, which was widely circulated among his readers.  Jenkins' first publication was Willie Riley's first novel Windyridge, and the firm went on to publish most of Riley's 39 books, ending with The Man and the Mountain in 1961, the year of Riley's death.  In 1915 Jenkins published A. S. Neill's first book, A Dominie's Log, launching his career as a famous teacher and writer of books on education.  Herbert Jenkins Ltd published many of P. G. Wodehouse's novels, starting with Piccadilly Jim in 1918.  By the 1950s—long after Jenkins' death—the company was still being run as a 1930s business might have been.  In 1964 it merged with Barrie & Rockcliffe to form Barrie & Jenkins, which continued to publish Wodehouse's novels, but specialised in books about ceramics, pottery and antiques.  In 1969 the company published the first of George MacDonald Fraser's popular The Flashman Papers novels after it had been rejected by many other publishers.  Barrie & Jenkins had a short commercial history and was taken over by Hutchinson, who were themselves taken over by Century and then by Random House (now owned by Bertelsmann).  It continues to exist as a specialist imprint mainly for hardback editions within the Random House stable.  Although Jenkins is best known for his light fiction, his first book was a biography of George Borrow.  He was an admirer of the poet and visual artist William Blake and conducted research into his trial for high treason and the location of his lost grave, writing a book on him in 1925.  His most popular fictional creation was Mr. Joseph Bindle, who first appeared in a humorous novel in 1916 and in a number of sequels.  The stories are based on the comedic drama of life at work, at home and all the adventures that take place along the way.  Jenkins also wrote a number of short stories about Detective Malcolm Sage, which were collected into one book in 1921.  Three of the Sage stories were included in Eugene Thwing's 10-volume collection of vintage detective stories, The World's Best 100 Detective Stories (1929).  As was the norm at the time, many of his fictional works appeared first in pulp magazines.  Two of his novels and several of his short stories were made into short movies.

Few of us have the necessary unselfishness to hear with gladness the talents of others extolled . . . Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson

Sander Vanocur, TV journalist and panelist in Kennedy-Nixon debate, dies at 91   Cokie Roberts, influential Washington broadcaster, dies at 75   Ric Ocasek, singer-songwriter and sparkplug for the Cars, dies at 75   James Robertson, federal judge who took stand against warrantless surveillance, dies at 81  Washington Post  September 18, 2019

September 16, 2019  Fans of the surreal, the bizarre and sardonic anthropomorphic cows are in a fervour after The Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson’s website was updated this weekend with promises of “a new online era”, 24 years after the reclusive creator retired at the age of 44.  Larson’s iconic Far Side cartoons were syndicated in more than 1,900 daily newspapers from 1980 to 1995, treating readers to daily offerings from his offbeat visions of the world.  Alison Flood

Dining with 'Downton Abbey' by Mary Bilyeu  The six seasons of TV's Downton Abbey spanned 14 years, from the Titanic’s sinking in 1912 up to 1926.  Cooking, baking, and dining were integral to the show, with scenes of formal multi-course dinners, quiet and solitary breakfasts in bed, glorious holiday meals, simple evening suppers after a long day’s work, and a private picnic.  These played a critical role in establishing the culinary and social mores of the time, as well as documenting their evolution.  Find recipes for Cider House Hens, Savory Caraway Cabbage, Yorkshire Parkin, and Digestive Biscuits at

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY  A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization. - Samuel Johnson, lexicographer (18 Sep 1709-1784)  Issue 2156  September 18, 2019

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Edson Arantes do NascimentoKBE, known as Pelé, is a Brazilian retired professional footballer who played as a forward.  He is widely regarded as one of the greatest players of all time.  In 1999, he was voted World Player of the Century by the International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS), and was one of the two joint winners of the FIFA Player of the Century award.  That same year, Pelé was elected Athlete of the Century by the International Olympic Committee.  According to the IFFHS, Pelé is the most successful domestic league goal-scorer in football history scoring 650 goals in 694 League matches, and in total 1281 goals in 1363 games, which included unofficial friendlies and is a Guinness World Record.  During his playing days, Pelé was for a period the best-paid athlete in the world.  Pelé began playing for Santos at age 15 and the Brazil national team at 16.  During his international career, he won three FIFA World Cups19581962 and 1970, being the only player ever to do so.  Pelé is the all-time leading goalscorer for Brazil with 77 goals in 92 games.  At club level he is the record goalscorer for Santos, and led them to the 1962 and 1963 Copa Libertadores.  Known for connecting the phrase "The Beautiful Game" with football, Pelé's "electrifying play and penchant for spectacular goals" made him a star around the world, and his teams toured internationally in order to take full advantage of his popularity.  Since retiring in 1977, Pelé has been a worldwide ambassador for football and has made many acting and commercial ventures.  In 2010, he was named the Honorary President of the New York Cosmos.  Pelé was born Edson Arantes do Nascimento on 23 October 1940, in Três Corações, Minas Gerais, Brazil, the son of Fluminense footballer Dondinho (born João Ramos do Nascimento) and Celeste Arantes.  He was the elder of two siblings.  He was named after the American inventor Thomas Edison.  His parents decided to remove the "i" and call him "Edson", but there was a mistake on the birth certificate, leading many documents to show his name as "Edison", not "Edson", as he is called.  He was originally nicknamed "Dico" by his family.  He received the nickname "Pelé" during his school days, when it is claimed he was given it because of his pronunciation of the name of his favorite player, local Vasco da Gama goalkeeper Bilé, which he misspoke but the more he complained the more it stuck.  Read much more and see pictures

mugwump  noun  a jocular word for "great man, boss, important person," 1832, American English (originally New England), from Algonquian (Natick) mugquomp "important person" (derived from mugumquomp"war leader").  By 1840 it was in satirical use as "one who thinks himself important."  It was revived from 1884 in reference to Republicans who refused to support James G. Blaine's presidential candidacy, originally as a term of abuse but the independents embraced it.  Hence "one who holds himself aloof from party politics."

Cauliflower-Crunch Tabouli  There’s nothing ordinary about this stunning herb-specked, grain-free tabouli.  Raw cauliflower and pine nuts take center stage and combine to add an unexpected and essential nuttiness and color that elevate the dish.  This recipe takes just minutes to whip up and seconds to devour.  It’s crunchy, fresh, and the very definition of craveable clean food that makes you want more.  serves 6  Nealy Fischer  Find recipe at

“A word after a word after a word is power.” ~ Margaret Atwood

To put into context James Runcie’s novel, The Road to Grantchester--a book that traces his most famous literary creation, Sidney Chambers, from 30s teenager to Second World War-scarred adult--we have to travel back a bit.  The Road to Grantchester is a prequel, filling out Sidney’s back story--from how he decided to become a priest to why he involves himself in criminal investigations.  One imagines that, having spent so long inside Sidney’s head, it must have been a breeze to write.  “To be honest, I found it incredibly difficult--getting the dialogue right for the era.  It was all far harder than I thought.”  He wrote six Grantchester novels, taking sleuthing Sidney from post-war Britain to the brash 80s.  They unfold “as parables, sermons even, on the nature of forgiveness, doubt and redemption”, and were episodic in nature, as he believed this might make them more adaptable for TV.  He is currently writing a book about Bach and his St Matthew Passion--“but people’s eyes do glaze over when I tell them I’m writing about Lent in 1727”, he says, laughing.  Nick Duerden  See James Runcie biography at


"My wife and I have happily raised our family in the same urban neighborhood for over 20 years--Five Points, home of the Willys Jeep.  The plant closed and small businesses have dried up.  Neighbors have come and gone; some have passed on, others deserted the city for greener pastures.  The same Midwest story you’ve heard before.  We love our neighborhood and we love living in Toledo.  We are city folk, but we prefer living simpler lives--we make our own stuff, we grow our own food, we raise chickens.  We do better in Toledo, so we’re not going anywhere.   Instead we decided to dig our roots in deeper and started a sustainable urban farm in the abandoned easement behind our home.  The view of the easement property adjacent to our yard had taunted us for years; enough with the shenanigans, it was time to grab a machete, fire up the chainsaw, and build a farm.  The farm is ever growing and work is always ongoing.  We farm organically--no pesticides or weed killers--and have completed Master Urban Farmer certification and GAP (Good Agricultural Practices) training from the Ohio State University Lucas County Extension; we are also a member of the Lucas County Urban Agriculture Alliance.  We grow lettuces, radishes, carrots, beets, turnips, onions, peppers, sweet corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, melons, pumpkins, beans, meal corn, wheat, barley, hops, chickens and eggs; we even have a few pygmy goats that eat weeds and provide us with fertilizer."  See pictures at  Vic and Sandy Miller deliver vegetables from their garden to the neighborhood.  Over 20 years ago, Vic first planted grape vines, tomatoes and cucumbers.  

The Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown. NY is a non-profit dedicated to promoting liberty under law through the examination of the life and work of Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson and its relevance to current events and issues.  Tour the Robert H. Jackson Center’s exclusive collections, exhibits, and program and meeting facilities housed in an historic 1858 Italianate mansion.  The Jackson Center is open for self-guided, individual, and group tours Monday through Friday from 8:30 am to 4:30 pm, and Saturdays from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm during summer months and otherwise by appointment.  The Jackson Center’s unique facilities are available for private rentals, and include a 200 seat theater, banquet, reception, and conference rooms.  Explore many museums in Jamestown, including Grape Discovery Center and the Lucille Ball–Desi Arnaz Museum at

To keep basil fresh, trim the stems and place them in a glass or jar of water, just like cut flowers.  Loosely cover it with a plastic bag and leave it on the counter.  Although certain herbs, such as parsley and cilantro, can be stored this way in the fridge, basil does better at room temperature.  Refrigeration can turn the leaves black.  No, this won’t win any kitchen decor awards, but in my experience the plastic bag really makes a difference.  I’ve had basil stay perky for a week or even longer, especially if I change the water frequently.  Emily Han

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY  What power has love but forgiveness? - William Carlos Williams, poet (17 Sep 1883-1963)  Issue 2155  September 17, 2019

Monday, September 16, 2019

Cheryl Y. Hayashi is a Hawaii-born biologist who is curator, professor, and Director of Comparative Biology Research at the American Museum of Natural History.  Hayashi specializes in the genetic structure of spider silk.  A Yale alumnus, she was previously a professor at University California Riverside, and was a 2007 MacArthur Fellow.

The Magnificence of Spider Silk  TED talk February 2010 by Cheryl Hayashi  Each species of spider can make up to 7 very different kinds of silk.  14:22

Although baseball is played in several countries around the world today, it is typically known as an American sport and is even called “America’s Passtime.”  While the origins of the sport come from two English games, rounders and cricket, the basis for modern baseball was formed in America during the mid-19th century.  Due to this, the oldest baseball teams in the world were established in the United States in the late 1800s to the early 1900s.  All of them still exist today as either a part of the National League (NL) or the American League (AL), which form Major League Baseball (MLB).  Read about and find a list of the ten oldest baseball teams in America at

From:  Fred Glienna  The LA Dodgers had an outfielder named Wally Moon in the late 1950s-early 1960s.  The Dodgers also had a short left-field (252 feet) with a ridiculous, 40-foot high screen to prevent easy home runs.  Moon’s specialty was a high, lofty slice that would clear the screen.  Fans called them Moon shots.  Feedback to A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg

What’s in a Name?  Nearly every single language’s word for wine derives from the latin word vinum.  There are only three languages whose word for wine does not:  Greek (oinos), Turkish (sarap), and Hungarian (bor).  Some historians believe this might indicate an early Hungarian connection to winemaking unrelated to the Romans, feeding the strong suspicion that Hungarian wine culture predates most of the other wine cultures of Europe.  Hungary is located between the 46th and 49th parallel which is actually the same latitude range as many of France’s top wine regions from Northern Rhône to Champagne.  Hungary’s rolling hills are rich in volcanic soils and limestone--idyllic soil types for fine winemaking.  Tokaj  Top Wines:  Tokaji (sweet white wines), Furmint (dry white wines)  Soils:  A range of clay-dominant soils of red, yellow, brown, and white clay, along with loess, strewn atop volcanic rock subsoil that’s rich in iron and lime.  Villány  Top Wines:  Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Kékfrankos  Soils:  Volcanic soils  Nagy Somló  Top Wines:  Juhfark  Soils:  Volcanic soils with loess, clay and sand   Eger  Top Wines:  Egri Bikavér red blend, Egri Csillag white blend  Soils:  Brown forest topsoils cover volcanic rhyolite tuff with limestone and broken rock.

Cookbooks confirm that the American practice of stuffing celery began in the early 20th century as an appetizer for parties and adult gatherings.  It didn’t become a vital part of lunchboxes and playdates until decades later.  The most famous (at least for the coloring-book crowd) is, of course, ants on a log.  Andrew Ruis, author of Eating to Learn, Learning to Eat: The Origins of School Lunch in the United States, could only place the origin around sometime in the mid-20th century.  A hypothesis tracing the recipe origins to a product cookbook proved null.  Sun-Maid (which represents about 40 percent of the raisin industry), Dole, the California Raisin Marketing Board, and even the Girl Scouts had no knowledge of the ants on a log inventor.  (Sun Valley and the Raisin Bargaining Association did not respond to requests for comment.)  A recipe for "Stuffed Celery Stalks” appeared in the Good Housekeeping Cook Book (1944) with seven iterations, the second of which instructs log builders to “lay seedless raisins end to end in celery stalks” before filling them with a mixture of cream cheese, top milk (the upper layer of milk in a container enriched by whatever cream has risen), spec pepper, and paprika.  (There’s no mention of any “ants” or “logs” of any kind.)  The first print sighting took place on February 15, 1959, when the Star Tribune published a story about encouraging children to help out in the kitchen:  “Anne Marie is working on snacks.  Popcorn, cheese dips, and the other night, ants on a log have been some of the foods the family has shared.”  Mara Weinraub  Thank you, Muse reader!

The Midwich Cuckoos is a 1957 science fiction novel written by the English author John Wyndham.  It tells the tale of an English village in which the women become pregnant by brood parasitic aliens.  It has been filmed twice as Village of the Damned, with releases in 1960 and 1995.  The book has been adapted for radio in 1982, 2003, and 2017.  Wyndham began work on a sequel novel, Midwich Main, which he abandoned after only a few chapters.  The novel was filmed as Village of the Damned in 1960, with a script that was fairly faithful to the book.  A sequel, Children of the Damned, followed soon afterwards.  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer remake to have begun filming during 1981 was canceled.  Christopher Wood was writing the script for producer Lawrence P. Bachmann when the Writers Guild of America went on strike early that year for three months.  The 1994 Thai movie Kawao Thi Bang Phleng (Blackbirds at Bangpleng) is a localised version of the story.  It was based on a 1989 novel by the Thai writer and politician, Kukrit Pramoj, that was clearly based on unattributed major borrowings from Wyndham's book.  The Thai version has differences due to the confrontation between the alien intelligences and Buddhist philosophy.  remake of the 1960 movie was made in 1995 by John Carpenter and set in Midwich, California; it featured Christopher Reeve in his last movie role before he was paralysed, and included Kirstie Alley as a government official, a character not present in the original novel.

John Wyndham is probably the most successful British science fiction writer after HG Wells, and his books have never been out of print.  He continues to haunt the public imagination--either through adaptations of his own work (2009 gave us a new Day of the Triffids on the BBC)--or through thinly disguised homages (witness the opening of Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, which almost exactly resembles the first chapters of The Day of the Triffids, and is in its turn parodied in the opening of Shaun of the Dead).  I read a lot of Wyndham when I was a teenager.  Then, a few years ago, when I was looking around for books to adapt as a Radio 4 "classic serial", I thought of The Midwich Cuckoos.  Rereading it, I was startled to find a searching novel of moral ambiguities where once I'd seen only an inventive but simple SF thriller.  Wyndham's novels were famously dismissed by Brian Aldiss, championing the New Wave's harder-edged science fiction, as "cosy catastrophes".  It's true that Wyndham's preference is for no-nonsense, brisk, wry narrators, and the horrors that visit the books can seem like opportunities to show off good old British pluck.  But the books are surprisingly unheroic, and often (notably in the cases of Kraken and Triffids) peculiarly open-ended.  Dan Rebellato

National Welcoming Week is Sept 13-22, 2019 and the Toledo Lucas County Public Library will host and facilitate Who We Are.  Who We Are is a program lead by Library staff to encourage community members to share the people, places and thing that shape their roots.  Tuesday,  Sept 17, 6 - 8:30 p.m. at the West Toledo Branch.  The program will begin with a meet and greet and light refreshments followed by story sharing, and concluding with attendees able to mingle afterwards.  Other local organizations like Welcome Toledo-Lucas County, Local Initiatives Support Initiative, and US Together will also conduct events during the program.  Issue 2154  September 16, 2019

Friday, September 13, 2019

Diospyros kaki
, also known as the persimmon or the Oriental persimmon, is the most widely cultivated species of the genus Diospyros.  The persimmon is a sweet, slightly tangy fruit with a soft to occasionally fibrous texture.  Although its first botanical description was not published until 1780, D. kaki is among the oldest cultivated plants, having been in use in China for more than 2000 years.  In some rural Chinese communities, the fruit is seen as having a great mystical power that can be harnessed to cure headaches, back pains and foot ache.  This species, native to China, is deciduous, with broad, stiff leaves.  Cultivation extended first to other parts of East Asia, including Japan, where it is very popular.  It was later introduced to California and southern Europe in the 19th century and later to Brazil in the 1890s. 


Hapless is another of those famous unpaired negatives, like gormlessruthless, and feckless.  At one time, you could indeed have had some hap.  It was a state of luck or fortune, in particular some chance occurrence that might befall you, for good or ill, though—like luck and fortune—it tended to accentuate the positive.  It comes from a Scandinavian source, was first recorded in the Middle English period, around 1200, but survived in mainstream use into the nineteenth century—it was still well enough known to appear in the definitions of some words in the first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary around the end of that century.  If you were hapless, you lacked the chance to gain good fortune and so were unfortunate or unlucky.  Though hap itself is now archaic, some very familiar words come from it, including happy; this originally referred to a state of good fortune, from which today’s meaning evolved in the sixteenth century.  The verb happen evolved out of hap, and can still have a strong sense of something coming about by chance (“We happened to meet in the supermarket”).  Haphazard once meant mere chance or a lack of design, from which comes our modern idea of an absence of organisation.  Other compounds we still use today are perhaps and mishap (which was once a state of misfortune, ill chance, or bad luck).  And mayhap, perhaps or possibly, survives in dialect.  There has never been a direct opposite—no hapful—though there have been at various times a number of other compounds:  by hap or haply (by chance or accident), and goodhap (good fortune).

Turkey tips from Sara Moulton:  Let the bird rest 30-60 minutes after it is done roasting.  Remove the wishbone before carving.  If the meat cools, add a little hot broth on slices before serving.  Meet Sara, a protégée of Julia Child, at

fatberg (plural fatbergs)  noun  large accumulation of fat and discarded toiletries which clogs sewers  [From late 2000s] quotations ▼

Endorphins are chemicals produced naturally by the nervous system to cope with pain or stress.  They are often called "feel-good" chemicals because they can act as a pain reliever and happiness booster. 

Endorphins are primarily made in the hypothalamus and pituitary glands, though they may come from other parts of the body as well.  The well-known "runner's high" that is felt after lengthy, vigorous exercise is due to an increase in endorphin levels.  Jennifer Berry  Read more at

Balusters are those vertical, vase-like posts or legs on railings that can be made of wood, iron, stone, or other materials.  The balustrade consists of several balusters spaced evenly and connected together to form a decorative railing supported by baluster posts.  In other words, a baluster is a single post, balusters are several of those posts, and a balustrade is all of those posts joined together as a unit.  A balustrade is a name for that railing on a balconyporch or terrace.  It can be indoors or outdoors.  The word comes from the French word balustre; from the Italian word balaustro and from balaustra, wild pomegranate flower; from Latin balaustium from Greek balaustion; from its shape.  From the Renaissance period onward, classical stone balustrades were popular, and feature balusters that were short stems with an abacus (square slab), a base, and either one or two bulbs with rings, along with concave (cavetto) and convex (ovolo) moldings in between.  The young and lovely Juliet, of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, stood on a balcony.  But what kept her from falling off that balcony was a balustrade.  Lisa Hallett Taylor

Back-to-back Palindrome Days in the m-dd-yy format this week are not that rare.  Every year since 2011 have had 10 consecutive Palindrome Days.  In 2011, they occurred from January 10, 2011 (1-10-11) to January 19, 2011 (1-19-11).  In 2012, the same sequence of dates occurred in February. In 2017, it happened in July, in 2018 in August and in 2019 it will happen in September.  Notice a pattern here?  As long as you write your date in the m-dd-yy format, every century has 9 years with 10 Palindrome Days in a row.  These years are always in the second decade of the century.  For example, every year between 2011-2019, 2111-2119, and 2211-2219 will have 10 consecutive Palindrome Days.  This is true for previous centuries as well.  Dan Evon

A rare full moon, known as a "micro moon" on Friday, September 13th, 2019.  Our satellite will be at the furthest point in its orbit around the Earth.  As a result, the moon will appear both smaller and dimmer in the night sky when viewed from Earth.  Compared to a "super moon"--when a full moon coincides with its closest point in its orbit of Earth--the micro moon will appear 14 per cent smaller and 30 per cent dimmer.  It is the first time in 13 years that a full moon has appeared on Friday the 13th, and it won't happen again until May 2033--in 13 years time.  Anthony Cuthbertson

Anne Rivers Siddons died September 11, 2019 at the age of 83 in Charleston, South Carolina.  Siddons was the bestselling author of novels including 1988’s “Peachtree Road,” the Atlanta-based story that Pat Conroy called “the Southern novel for our generation.”  Siddons focused on the South throughout her career, writing 19 novels set in and around her Georgia hometown.  Her debut novel, 1976’s “Heartbreak Hotel,” was adapted into the 1989 feature film, “Heart of Dixie.” Siddons followed it with the 1978 horror novel, “The House Next Door,” which Stephen King called one of the best horror novels of the 20th century.  Among her novels that followed were “Homeplace” (1987), “Sweetwater Creek” (2005), and her most recent, “The Girls of August” (2014). Attending Auburn University in the 1950s, Siddons was a journalist for her college newspaper, where she was fired for writing columns in favor of integration--a story she’d later work into her debut novel.  But before she became a novelist, she wrote for Atlanta magazine.  An editor at publishing giant Doubleday saw one of her articles for the magazine and was so impressed that he wrote her a letter soliciting a manuscript for possible publication.  The stunned Siddons sent him a collection of essays, and they were published as her first book--and only full-length nonfiction work--1975’s “John Chancellor Always Makes Me Cry.”  Linnea Crowther

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY  To have and not to give is often worse than to steal. - Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, writer (13 Sep 1830-1916)  Issue 2153  September 13, 2019 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

One of the most accomplished television, movie, and stage actors to ever create a pop culture icon, Peter Falk was Columbo, and he was also a helluva a lot more than that, too.  His work in movies such as The Princess Bride, Wings of Desire, and The In-Laws, and especially in the proto-indie films made by his pal John Cassavetes, such as Husbands (1970), was superb.  His stage career included marvelous performances in plays ranging from Eugene O’Neill’s The Iceman Cometh to Neil Simon’s The Prisoner of Second Avenue, for which he won a Tony.  But Falk will remain best known as Lt. Columbo, one of the greatest of all TV characters.  With his rumpled trench coat and wet stub of a cigar, Falk entered a scene as though he was a bum who’d wandered onto the set.  He played Columbo as a wily bumbler, the sort of guy who seemed not to be paying attention, only to spring a precise, devastating question on a suspect and solve a case with startling ease.  The ritualistic just-one-more-thing pattern to Columbo’s interrogations became a pop culture cliché itself (and the title for his 2006 memoir).   But coming from Falk, the words were never clichéd:  He delivered them every time as though they’d just occurred to the distracted police lieutenant.  Falk was a highly unlikely TV star.  He had a glass eye and a face that was as rumpled as Columbo’s raincoat.  He’d achieved success in the theater and had carved out quite a film career in the early 1960s, nominated for an Oscar for his hoodlum role in Murder, Inc. (1960), and starring in Frank Capra’s last film, Pocket Full of Miracles (1961).  At the time, moving from the stage and film to TV was viewed as a step down in a career.  Morever, the Columbo character was by no means a guaranteed success; Lt. Columbo had his first life in a play, Prescription:  Murder, that folded out of town before it made it to Broadway.  Thomas Mitchell portrayed Columbo there, and Bert Freed played Columbo in a 1961 TV episode of The Sunday Mystery Hour.  But then Prescription:  Murder became a 1967 TV movie—and Falk wasn’t even the producers’ first choice:  They wanted Bing Crosby to play the role, but Crosby passed, and Falk signed on.  Columbo was the finest creation of producer-writers Richard Levinson and William Link, who also brought us Mannix and Murder, She Wrote, among many other shows.  Levinson and Link manufactured a marvelous hybrid:  Columbo took elements from literary detective fiction such as the locked-room mystery and the eccentric detective (think Ellery Queen or Miss Marple), and grafted it onto the police procedural and, sometimes, the hard-boiled pulp genre.  Levinson and Link claimed Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment, with its detective Petrovich, as one inspiration; Sherlock Holmes was another.  Out of this mongrel parentage came a purebred original.  In 1971, Columbo became a regular production that rotated with other shows in the NBC Mystery Movie series; there were 90-minute and two-hour episodes of it.  It became its own series soon after.  By the time Falk and Columbo had become household names in the mid-1970s, Columbo was as much Falk’s creation as Levinson and Link’s.  The actor helped produce the show, and invited friends such as Cassavetes and Ben Gazzara to work on episodes.  Falk himself picked out the battered Peugeot car that Columbo rattled around L.A. in; its tan color matched his character’s coat.  When the weekly run ended in 1978, the character was later revived in a number of TV movies. There was also a short-lived Mrs. Columbo spin-off.  It became a mark of honor to play a murderer who was doomed trying to outwit Columbo, and some of the most beloved of these were Jack Cassidy, Robert Culp, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and Patrick McGoohan.  Ken Tucker

In his memoir, entitled “Just One More Thing,” after Columbo’s most famous line, Peter Falk wrote:  “My idea of heaven is to wake up, have a good breakfast and spend the rest of the day drawing.”  Falk discovered life drawing in 1971 while acting on Broadway in Neil Simon’s “The Prisoner of Second Avenue.”  His schedule left him free in the mornings with nothing to do.  On a whim one day, he walked into the Art Students League on West 57th Street in Manhattan, opened a classroom door and was transfixed.  Falk became a regular, sitting on a folding wooden chair with a big pad of newsprint paper propped in front of him and a stick of charcoal in his hand.  Along with classmates, he warmed up with quick sketches of poses that lasted only a few minutes and then worked on more finished drawings of poses that lasted an hour or more.  Everyone knew a famous actor was in class, but no one bugged him.  Steven Litt

Loch Ness is a large, deep, freshwater loch in the Scottish Highlands extending for approximately 37 kilometres (23 miles) southwest of Inverness.  Its surface is 16 metres (52 feet) above sea level.  Loch Ness is best known for alleged sightings of the cryptozoological Loch Ness Monster, also known affectionately as "Nessie".  It is connected at the southern end by the River Oich and a section of the Caledonian Canal to Loch Oich.  At the northern end there is the Bona Narrows which opens out into Loch Dochfour, which feeds the River Ness and a further section of canal to Inverness, ultimately leading to the North Sea via the Moray Firth.  It is one of a series of interconnected, murky bodies of water in Scotland; its water visibility is exceptionally low due to a high peat content in the surrounding soil.  Loch Ness is the second largest Scottish loch by surface area at 56 km2 (22 sq mi) after Loch Lomond, but due to its great depth, it is the largest by volume in the British Isles.  Its deepest point is 230 m (126 fathoms; 755 ft), making it the second deepest loch in Scotland after Loch Morar.  It contains more fresh water than all the lakes in England and Wales combined, and is the largest body of water in the Great Glen, which runs from Inverness in the north to Fort William in the south.  Loch Ness has one island, Cherry Island, at the southwestern end of the loch, near Fort Augustus.  It is an artificial island, known as a crannog, and was probably constructed during the Iron Age.  There was formerly a second island (Dog Island) which was submerged when the water level was raised during the construction of the Caledonian Canal.

September 5, 2019  The creatures behind repeated sightings of the fabled Loch Ness Monster may be giant eels, according to scientists.  Researchers from New Zealand have tried to catalogue all living species in the loch by extracting DNA from water samples.  Following analysis, the scientists have ruled out the presence of large animals said to be behind reports of a monster.  No evidence of a prehistoric marine reptile called a plesiosaur or a large fish such as a sturgeon were found.  The Loch Ness Monster is one of Scotland's oldest and most enduring myths.  It inspires books, TV shows and films, and sustains a major tourism industry around its home.  The story of the monster can be traced back 1,500 years when Irish missionary St Columba is said to have encountered a beast in the River Ness in 565AD.  Later, in the 1930s, The Inverness Courier reported the first modern sighting of Nessie.  Nessie made an appearance in the 1969 film The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.  See pictures at

Ben Lomond/ Beinn Laomainn, 974 metres (3,196 ft), is a mountain in the Scottish Highlands.  Situated on the eastern shore of Loch Lomond, it is the most southerly of the Munros.  Ben Lomond lies within the Ben Lomond National Memorial Park and the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park, property of the National Trust for Scotland.  Ben Lomond's popularity in Scotland has resulted in several namesakes in the former British colonies of AustraliaCanadaNew ZealandJamaicaTrinidad and Tobago, and the United States--see this list.  The mountain is mentioned directly in the popular folk song The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond.  The name Ben Lomond is generally agreed to mean "beacon mountain" or "beacon hill".

A 17th century gold ring, discovered near Loch Lomond by a metal detectorist, has fetched £14,000 at auction.  Michelle Vall from Blackpool literally struck gold when she searched the shore at Duck Bay, near Balloch, in January 2019.  It is thought the ring once belonged to a courtier of the future James II of England (James VII of Scotland).  It went under the hammer in London on September 10, 2019 after the National Museum of Scotland declined the chance to buy it.  The ring was expected to raise about £10,000, but the winning bid was £14,000.  The new owner, a private collector from the US, will pay a total of £17,360, which includes the buyer's premium.  Read more and see pictures at  Issue 2152  September 12, 2019 

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

The Loved One, 1965 film  *  Director of Photography Haskell Wexler was dissatisfied with some of the outdoor Whispering Glades scenes because they were being filmed at noon, and the trees were not casting significant shadows, which he felt was necessary to give the shot proper depth.  To compensate, he had the crew paint tree "shadows" on the ground.  This is plainly visible in some scenes, as the trees' "shadows" are entirely dissimilar from those of the actors standing next to them.  *  Evelyn Waugh disowned this movie of his famous novella, and tried unsuccessfully to get his name taken off of the credits.  *  This is Liberace's only movie in which he does not play the piano on-screen.  *  Screenwriter Terry Southern gave the name "Maxwell Kenton" to Milton Berle's character in the movie, who does not appear in the Evelyn Waugh novel.  "Maxwell Kenton" was a pseudonym Southern had used in real-life when his controversial and outrageous satirical novel "Candy" (co-written with Mason Hoffenberg) was published in Paris in the 1950s.  *  One of this movie's few off-the-lot filming locations was Beverly Hills' Graystone Mansion.   Shortly after this filming, Graystone was purchased by the city of Beverly Hills, and later converted into a public park.  *  This movie was advertised on its initial release as "the movie with something to offend everyone".  Among those offended rather than amused were the owners of the real-life Hollywood cemetery Forrest Lawn, who specifically found this movie's suggestion that certain burial grounds engaged in anti-Semitic practices cause for legal action.  This movie's release was held up while the lawsuit was adjudicated.  The fact that it was eventually released implies that the case was decided in favor of the filmmakers.  *  Near the beginning, Jamie Farr has a quick cameo as the restaurant busboy who replaces the portrait of President Johnson with a painting of Queen Elizabeth II.  See full cast and crew at

Fahrenheit 451 (1953) by Ray Bradbury, a novel based on his own short story "The Fireman" (originally published in Galaxy Science Fiction Vol. 1 No. 5 in February 1951), follows the exploits and self-examination of fireman Guy Montag in a dystopian society where books are banned and firemen create fires rather than put them out in order to protect society from the supposed dangers of reading.  "Do you ever read any of the books you burn?"   He laughed. "That's against the law!"  "Oh. Of course."  See other quotes at

The Perfect Hard-Boiled Egg  Cover eggs with cold water by 1 inch.  Bring water to a boil.  Cover and remove from heat.  Let stand 13 minutes.  Drain and run under cold water.  To spice it up, cut the egg in half and top with a dash of salt mixed with paprika; pepper and lemon zest; or chili flakes.          

boondocks  "remote and wild place," 1910s, from Tagalog bundok "mountain."  Adopted by occupying American soldiers in the Philippines for "remote and wild place."  Reinforced or re-adopted during World War II.  Hence, also boondockers "shoes suited for rough terrain," originally (1944) U.S. services slang word for field boots.

Hen and chicks (Sempervivum tectorum) date back to ancient times.  European peasants planted hen and chicks among the reeds on their thatched roof homes, creating a plant-based fire retardant.  Succulents such as hens and chicks cactus plants retain water in their leaves.  They catch fire at a slower rate than dried thatch, thus creating a natural firebreak.  Succulents do best in a sunny position although many of them can adapt to semi shade with greener leaves and suppressed flowering.  Too little light will result in weak stems that stretch too much.  Six hours of direct sunlight is ideal. 

Succulents do not enjoy dead and decaying vegetation around them as much as other plants do.  Try to remove all debris from the base of the plant.  Non-organic mulching with gravel and pebbles is preferable to tree bark and other organic mulches.  Succulents do not need as much water as most other plants.  Since they can store water, it is better to water them deeply, but occasionally.

Vertigo is a sensation of spinning dizziness.  It is not, as many people maintain, a fear of heights.  It is often associated with looking down from a great height but can refer to any temporary or ongoing spells of dizziness caused by problems in the inner ear or brain.

Eric Asimov (born July 17, 1957) is an American wine critic and food critic for The New York Times.  Asimov was born in Bethpage, New York, the son of Stanley Asimov, former vice-president for editorial administration at Newsday, and Ruth Asimov, a ceramic artist.  He is a nephew of author Isaac Asimov and brother of San Francisco Chronicle writer Nanette Asimov.  In 1992, Asimov conceived and wrote the "$25 and Under" column, dedicated to "restaurants where people can eat lavishly for $25 and under."  After several years of penning the column, the term "$25 and under" became less literal and more suggestive of inexpensive fare.  Until 1997, the column appeared in the Weekend Section.  It then moved to Wednesdays in the "Dining In, Dining Out" section.  From 1995 to 1998 Asimov published yearly compilations of the $25 and Under columns as books.  From 2000 to 2004, Asimov co-authored the annual New York Times Guide to Restaurants in New York City with Ruth Reichl and William GrimesAsimov became the chief wine critic of The New York Times in 2004, and the "$25 and Under" column was assigned to other critics.  As chief wine critic, he writes two columns, "The Pour" and "Wines of the Times" (or occasionally "Beers of the Times"), both of which appear in the paper on an alternating bi-weekly schedule.  In March 2006, Asimov began writing a wine blog, also titled "The Pour".

For years, Google News has put a category "For you"(under Top stories) on my screen.  In September 2019, they sent me an unsolicited email offering to send me a compilation of stories on a regular basis.  YouTube and Amazon list recommended items for me.  Some people might find these things flattering, but not me.

S GROUP, a Finnish retail co-operative, has pledged to reduce the food loss arising from its operations by 15 per cent by 2020.  “Our happy-hour prices for the evening hours will be adopted on a nationwide scale.  During these hours, customers will get a 60 per cent discount on products whose expiration dates are approaching,” the retail giant said in a press release in July 2019.  The products eligible for the discount are marked with red, 30 per cent-off sticker already before the evening sale.  The idea of offering the so-called red-sticker products at a 60 per cent-discount after 9pm has been trialled at the Alepa corner shops of HOK-Elanto since 2015.  The same practice has now been in use for almost 18 months at Prisma hypermarkets.  Issue 2151  September 11, 2019