Wednesday, December 4, 2019

In the weeds of a recent poll conducted by The Economist and YouGov, this word—impnoncoop—appears.  You’ll find the first instance in the report’s table of contents, page 2 of the file, then also on page 94.  This is not an error for "nincompoop!"  It is, instead, the poll-taker’s abbreviation for "impeachment non-cooperation", impnoncoop (with coop pronounced as two syllables:  co-op).  This strikes me as a thing of accidental beauty for a couple of reasons.  First, because it’s a useful abbreviation.  In that sense, it not only cuts the phrase down from 25 characters to 10, and from nine syllables to four (or three, depending on how you choose to pronounce it), but it also stamps this very particular event with a very specific term which will probably never be used again.  This word is an anagram of nincompoop.  It uses precisely the same letters, only in a different order.  Christopher Daly

December 2, 2019  We asked this year’s Center for Fiction First Novel Prize finalists about their earliest love affairs with reading.  Meet them all at the Finalist Reading and Fête on December 9 at The Center for Fiction.  Read titles, comments and see graphics at

There are 31 states plus Washington D.C. that require a front license plate.  It's not just drivers who object to required front plates on cars, but also lawmakers in some states.  They argue that manufacturing and distributing front plates costs more than it's worth.  However, due to the fines levied on violations of the law, other lawmakers argue that the plates pay for themselves.  For example, in Denver, a particular toll road generates up to a third of its revenue by scanning front license plates.  States not requiring front plates often see a large number of toll violators due to unreadable rear plates.  The Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in Arizona calculates parking fees with Automated License Plate Recognition.  But due to glare on the rear license plates, it is forced to determine fees on up to 15 percent of vehicles by hand rather than automatically.  Naturally, this requires more manpower and paying workers to go out and take down license plates.  Proponents of front plates argue that they make the public safer.  Two plates generally make it easier to find stolen cars, according to the police.  License Plate Reader systems are used by the police to identify stolen cars and cars whose owners have outstanding violations or arrest warrants.  The police use this technology by taking pictures of passing vehicles with a high-speed camera.  The reader identifies the plate numbers and checks them against a hot list.  LPR systems are able to read 10,000 plates in about eight hours.  If the LPR is only able to work with a rear plate, that number falls by half.  Another area where this applies is when victims or bystanders need to read the plate numbers of a vehicle leaving the scene of a crime or accident.  When only one plate is required, it makes it more difficult for the authorities and witnesses to correctly identify the plate.  Read more and find lists at

This is my go-to method for creating perfect al dente spaghetti squash strands to use in vegetable sides and main dishes.  The exact timing will vary depending on the heat of your oven and the size of your squash.  Jeanine Donofrio  serves 2 to 4

English businessman Thomas Merton arrived in Massachusetts in 1624.  Within a few short years, Morton established his own unrecognized offshoot of the Plymouth Colony, in what is now the town of Quincy, Massachusetts (the birthplace of presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams.  Published in 1637, his New English Canaan mounted a harsh and heretical critique of Puritan customs and power structures that went far beyond what most New English settlers could accept.  So they banned it—making it likely the first book explicitly banned in what is now the United States.  A first edition of Morton’s tell-all—which, among other things, compares the Puritan leadership to crustaceans—sold at auction at Christie’s for $60,000.

box camera is a simple type of camera, the most common form being a cardboard or plastic box with a lens in one end and film at the other.  They were sold in large numbers during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  The lenses are often single element designs meniscus fixed focus lens, or in better quality box cameras a doublet lens with minimal (if any) possible adjustments to the aperture or shutter speeds.  Because of the inability to adjust focus, the small lens aperture and the low sensitivity of the sensitive materials available, these cameras work best in bright daylight scenes when subjects move little during the exposure.  Eventually, box cameras with photographic flash, shutter and aperture adjustment were introduced, allowing indoor photos. The KODAK camera introduced in 1888 was the first box camera to become widely adopted by the public and its design became the archetype for box camera designs introduced by many different manufacturers.  The use of flexible roll film meant that the cameras were light and portable and could be used without the encumbrance of tripods and the attendant difficulty of using glass photographic plates which were typical of professional cameras.  Before the introduction of the Kodak, photographers were responsible for making their own arrangements for the development and printing of their pictures.  The first Kodak came pre-loaded with film and the customer returned the camera to Kodak for processing and to be reloaded with film for the customer.

In English grammar, a sentence adverb is a word that modifies a sentence as a whole or an entire clause within a sentence.  Also known as a sentence adverbial or a disjunct.   Common sentence adverbs include actually, apparently, basically, briefly, certainly, clearly, conceivably, confidentially, curiously, evidently, fortunately, hopefully, however, ideally, incidentally, indeed, interestingly, ironically, naturally, predictably, presumably, regrettably, seriously, strangely, surprisingly, thankfully, theoretically, therefore, truthfully, ultimately, and wisely.  Richard Nordquist   Sentence adverbs are extraneous or filler words. 

What podiatrist treats a detective for flat feet?  Wonders if a patient with two right feet could be helped if only he had a patient with two left feet?  Dr. Henry Heckyl.  Read about a slapstick film at  In the film, police drive pink cars.  A pink neon sign over their headquarters blinks POLICE  DON'T CALL US  WE'LL CALL YOU

The definition of "public benefits" is broad, and it includes such things as professional and occupational licenses, as well as a driver's license.  The exact documentation required varies by state.  The easiest way to prove your case is with a birth certificate issued by a United States government--city, county, state or possession such as Puerto Rico or the Virgin Islands.  If you were born a citizen but born overseas, you can show a U.S. Certificate of Birth Abroad or a Report of Birth Abroad of a U.S. Citizen.  The birth document should be either the original or a certified copy--photocopies won't do it.  A United States passport is another proof of legal presence.  In California, an expired passport is acceptable if someone applies for a real-estate license.  In Oregon, by contrast, someone applying for a driver's license can't use a passport that expired more than five years ago.  Passports from Puerto Rico, Guam and other U.S. possessions are also acceptable.  Oregon also allows tribal ID cards if the tribe is federally recognized and based in the state.  Fraser Sherman  Read more at

Reflex vs. reflect   The confusion comes from the origin of this word from the Latin word ‘reflectere’ meaning bend back, a noun denoting reflection.  In British English, the word reflex is still (although rarely) used to denoted reflection (of light, thoughts, something bent backwards).  Reflex means an action done without any conscious thought or effort.  For example, if someone throws a ball at you, your quick ‘reflex’ is to catch or divert it so you don’t get hurt.  Thus, in the study of reflexes (reflexology), the hand, feet or head are called as ‘reflex points’ of the body.

A story should have a beginning, a middle, and an end, but not necessarily in that order. - Jean-Luc Godard, film director (b. 3 Dec 1930)  Issue 2192  December 4, 2019

Monday, December 2, 2019

The Invisible Man, 1933 film   The first time Claude Rains' daughter ever saw her father in a movie was in 1950, when he took her to a showing of 'The Invisible Man' in a small Pennsylvanian theater.  While the film was playing, Rains was telling his daughter all about how it was made.  The other theater patrons stopped watching the movie and instead listened to Rains' anecdotes.  In order to achieve the effect that Claude Rains wasn't there when his character took off the bandages, James Whale had Rains dressed completely in black velvet and filmed him in front of a black velvet background.  When screenwriter R.C. Sherriff came to Hollywood to write this film, he asked the staff at Universal for a copy of the H.G. Wells novel he was supposed to be adapting.  They didn't have one; all they had were 14 "treatments" done by previous writers on the project, including one set in Czarist Russia and another set on Mars.  Sherriff eventually found a copy of the novel in a secondhand bookstore, read it, thought it would make an excellent picture as it stood, and wrote a script that, unlike Universal's Dracula (1931) and Frankenstein (1931), was a closer adaptation of the book.  This was fortunate, in that Wells had negotiated script approval when he sold the rights.  Boris Karloff had been Universal's original choice for the role of the Invisible Man.  Said to have turned it down because he would not be seen on screen until the end, in reality a quarrel with director James Whale broke up their relationship, and the director decided he wanted someone with more of an "intellectual" voice than Karloff.  All of a sudden, his marked lisp had become an issue.  Whale selected Claude Rains after accidentally hearing Rains' screen test being played in another room--until this film, Rains had primarily been a stage actor.  Although he had appeared in one silent movie (Build Thy House (1920)), this was his first sound film.  Although he has the lead in the film and his character is onscreen for 95% of the film, Claude Rains never actually "appears" onscreen until the very last moment.  The basic framework of the story and the characters' names are largely the same as in H.G. Wells' novel, but there are several great differences, including:  The novel takes place in the 1890s; the film takes place in 1933.  In the novel, Griffin remains almost a completely mysterious person, with no fiancée or friends; in the film, he is engaged to a woman and has the support of her father and his associate.  In the novel, Griffin is already insane before he makes himself invisible; in the film, it is the invisibility drug that causes his madness.  In the novel, Kemp lives; in the film, Griffin kills him.

Stuart Davis (1894–1964), was an early American modernist painter.  He was well known for his jazz-influenced, proto-pop art paintings of the 1940s and 1950s, bold, brash, and colorful, as well as his Ashcan School pictures in the early years of the 20th century.  With the belief that his work could influence the sociopolitical environment of America, Davis' political message was apparent in all of his pieces from the most abstract to the clearest.  By the 1930s, Davis was already a famous American painter, but that did not save him from feeling the negative effects of the Great Depression, which led to his being one of the first artists to apply for the Federal Art Project.  Stuart Davis was born in Philadelphia to Edward Wyatt Davis, art editor of The Philadelphia Press, and Helen Stuart Davis, sculptor.  Starting in 1909, Davis began his formal art training under Robert Henri, the leader of the Ashcan School, at the Robert Henri School of Art in New York under 1912.  See artworks by Stuart Davis at

The skyline at night is so breathtaking and yet you could spend a whole lifetime in Manhattan and never see it.  Like a mouse in a maze.  *  Mrs. Christie doles out her little surprises at the carefully calibrated pace of a nanny dispensing sweets to the children in her care.  *  Rules of Civility, a novel by Amor Towles  The Appendix is "The Young George Washington's Rules of Civility & Decent Behavior in Campany and Conversation."  There are 101 rules, the first being Every Action done in Company ought to be with Some Sign of Respect, to those that are Present.  The 110th rule is Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of Celestial Fire Called Conscience.

The phrase, “A house is a machine for living in,” rose to fame in the 1927 manifesto Vers Une Architecture (Towards An Architecture) by Le Corbusier.  Rather than suggesting we all live inside robots or printing presses, it actually expresses that houses are tools we use to live and we happen to live inside them:  A house is a machine for living in.  Baths, sun, hot-water, cold-water, warmth at will, conservation of food, hygiene, beauty in the sense of good proportion.  An armchair is a machine for sitting in and so on.  By this definition, a house is an efficient tool to help provide for the necessities of life and no more.  Decoration and extra frills are not necessary.  He continues:  A society lives primarily by bread, by the sun and by its essential comforts.  Everything remains to be done!  Immense task!  And it is so imperative, so urgent that the entire world is absorbed in this dominating necessity.  Machines will lead to a new order both of work and of leisure.  Corbusier argued that by living in efficient house-machines we can be more productive and more comfortable.  Greg Morse 

Walker Evans is one of the leading photographers in the history of American documentary photography.  Born in St. Louis, Evans studied at Williams College and the Sorbonne in Paris.  He returned to the United States in 1928, and five years later, though self-taught in photography, was the subject of a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and had his photographs published in Hart Crane's The Bridge (1930) and in Lincoln Kirstein's Hound & Horn (1931).  Evans worked for the Farm Security Administration from 1935 to 1937, during which time he made many of the photographs for Walker Evans:  American Photographs, an exhibition and publication organized by the Museum of Modern Art in 1938.  In 1936 he took a leave from the FSA in order to document the living conditions of Alabama sharecropper families as part of a collaborative project with writer James Agee.  The results were published in 1941 as Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, with text by Agee and photographs by Evans.  Another of Evans's many photographic series was Many Are Called, comprised of images taken in the New York City subway system using a hidden camera between 1938 and 1945.  Evans received three Guggenheim Fellowships and was a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters.  Between 1943 and 1965, he worked as a staff photographer for Time and Fortune.  After retiring from professional photography in 1965, he taught graphic arts at Yale.  Later in his career he often photographed with the new Polaroid camera, which he used to depict street graffiti and various detritus of the contemporary world.  Lisa Hostetler

A sanatorium is a facility where people with chronic illnesses or a need to convalesce are treated.  Sanatoriums were first established in the 1800s, mostly to treat tuberculosis.  The purposes of a sanatorium was to first, isolate the afflicted from the healthy population and second, afford the patient a healthy environment in which to heal.  Before the advent of antibiotics, tuberculosis was a scourge on the population.  Tuberculosis was also known as the Great White Plague because of the extreme paleness of people with the disease.  The only treatment available was fresh air, good food and the luxury to lie in bed and encourage the body to heal itself.  With the invention of antibiotics, the sanatorium has for the most part, gone by the wayside.  However, some older institutions still retain the name sanatorium.  The plural form of sanatorium may be rendered as either sanatoriums or sanatoria. A sanitarium is also a facility where people with chronic illnesses or a need to convalesce are treated.  The plural forms are sanitariums or sanitaria.  The terms sanatorium and sanitarium are interchangeable, however, sanitarium is primarily a North American word.  The difference between the words is their origin, though it is not much of a difference.  The word sanitorium is derived from the Late Latin word sanitorius, which means health-giving.  The word sanitarium is derived from the Latin word sanitas, which means health.

Though it might have you think otherwise, the epistolary Victorian monster novel Dracula is a detective story.  Written by Bram Stoker in 1897, it tells the story of six middle-class professionals who track down an out-of-touch Eastern-European vampire on his feeding frenzy throughout London.  Though its story is mostly well-known throughout the last century of pop culture via a host of watered-down adaptations, the (long) novel itself is a transcontinental, multi-generational, polyphonic, supernatural ensemble chase narrative built out of a collection of small documents.

Edna O’Brien has been awarded a £40,000 lifetime achievement prize regarded as a precursor to the Nobel, for having “moved mountains both politically and lyrically through her writing” in a career spanning almost 60 years.  The Irish author was presented with the £40,000 David Cohen prize at a ceremony in London on November 26, 2019.  Awarded every two years to a living writer for their entire body of work, the prize was founded by the late cultural philanthropist in 1993, in the hopes of starting an equivalent of the Nobel prize for UK and Irish authors.  Many recipients, including VS Naipaul, Doris Lessing and Harold Pinter, went on to become Nobel laureates.  Sian Cain

amaranth  noun  (dated, poetic)  An imaginary flower that does not wither.  Any of various herbs of the genus Amaranthus.  The characteristic purplish-red colour of the flowers or leaves of these plants.   (chemistry)  A red to purple azo dye used as a biological stain, and in some countries in cosmetics and as a food colouring.  (cooking)  The seed of these plants, used as a cereal.  See color and link to quotations at  Issue 2191  December 2, 2019 

Friday, November 29, 2019

Founded in 1904 by seven leading polar explorers of the era, the Explorers Club fosters the scientific exploration of land, sea, air and space.  The 1910 Jacobean revival mansion was originally built for Stephen Clark, grandson of the co-founder of the Singer Sewing Machine Company.  The Explorers Club purchased the building from the Clark family in 1960 after Stephen’s death.  It became the international headquarters in 1965.  Prior to this, they had several locations in New York City.  It is known as the Lowell Thomas building, named after the famed writer, broadcaster and Explorers Club member best known for making Lawrence of Arabia famous.  A century’s worth of exploration treasures fill the floors.  The ground floor member lounge houses a few of their polar artifacts.  On your way up to the second floor, you won’t be able to miss the giant globe used by Thor Heyerdahl to plan his famous Kon-Tiki expedition.  The uppermost floor is home to the research archives, holding the club’s impressive collection of 13,000 books, 1,000 museum objects, 5,000 maps and 500 films.  The Gallery on the top floor is the room everyone wants to see.  In the early days of the Explorers Club when travel was difficult and field photography was relatively new, hunting and taxidermy were thought to be the best way to preserve animals for education and research.  Here you will see taxidermied animals from many decades past.  Objects from the far corners of the world, including a narwhal tusk, wooly mammoth tusk (ask about the famous 1951 Explorers Club dinner) and the famous yeti scalp.  Scaffolding was recently removed, revealing the results of a five-year long refurbishment of the building’s facade, but work continues to preserve the building.  Visitors are welcome during opening hours.  Group tours can be scheduled by contacting reservations. Regular talks with exploration greats are held in the Clark Room from September-June.

Every year people from all walks of life consult our Research Collections of the Explorers Club.  These include writers, genealogists, filmmakers, and curators.  We are also consulted by journalists and photo researchers, independent enthusiasts, staff members, club members and students.  While we truly welcome all individuals, the Club’s resources are limited and our collections geared to the specialist.  We encourage all potential researchers to make full use of their local libraries, archives and museums before exploring what the Club has to offer.  Priority among researchers will be given to those who are seeking information unique to our collections.  The Curator will endeavour to direct all researchers to appropriate sources, but cannot do research on behalf of users or duplicate and send large amounts of information. Those wishing to consult the collections should contact the Curator at the address below for general guidance and to make an appointment.  The Explorers Club  46 E. 70th Street  New York, NY 10021  (212) 628-8383 x28  Please note that research appointments must be made in advance. Appointments may be made between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday.  Those planning a visit should consult a copy of our Research Rules.  All of those visiting the collections will need to sign a copy of these rules, as well as presenting a photo ID to the Curator.

A Night at the Library by Andrew Schwartz   It was the winter of 2019, and the Brooklyn Public Library had, once again, determined to give the public access to its Central Building for a “Night of Philosophy and Ideas.”  New School philosophy PhD student Zenon Marko, who studies the “problem of beginnings,” began a dusk-to-dawn DJ set in the Grand Lobby, ambient and inconspicuous, prepared, he said, for all paths the night may take.  He presided like a minor deity behind his turntables, themselves behind the circulation desk, next to a sign that read “Check Out.”  The vast hall filled with revelers, energized perhaps, as the U.S. French embassy’s cultural counselor Bénédicte de Montlaur described it, by the power of “resistance, of occupying a place.”  By the preliminary designs, this lobby was to be the library basement.  But after three decades with little headway on the structure, the abiding powers replaced the old architect and brought in new ones with new plans—a sleeker, cheaper structure in the art-deco mode popular in contemporary fashion.  Limestone replaced marble.  Designers kept the foundations but removed the neo-classical facade of the partially constructed wing on Flatbush Avenue.  The layout was made to resemble an open book.  From the hilly park behind it, built atop the old reservoir, vestiges can be seen of the original design, left uncovered even after the modernist revision.

One of the most popular, well-known and touristic ferry services in the world is certainly the Staten Island Ferry that runs a service between Battery Park in New York City and the town of St. George at Staten Island.  During the 25 minute sailings, passengers can enjoy great views of the skyline of New York, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.  And all of this is free.  It is the fastest way for commuters from Staten Island to the city of New York.  Everyday, around 75.000 passengers are transported on 104 trips sailing 24 hours a day.  The largest ferries on the route can now sail with up to 6000 passengers so they come close to the capacity of the worlds largest cruiseships.  Sailings between New York and Staten Island were already offered by local boatsmen sailing with small, two-masted sailingboats from the 18th century onwards.  But in 1817, the Richmond Turnpike Company started a motorized and official service with the steamboat Nautilus.  Captain of this first Staten Island Ferry was John De Forest, the brother-in-law of a man named Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of the wealthiest men of one of the wealthiest families in the history of the United States.  This family originally came from The Netherlands.  They used to be farmers in a small town named De Bilt.  This is also where their family name comes from, they are 'From De Bilt', or in Dutch 'Van De Bilt'.  Cornelius Vanderbilt eventually bought the ferry service of the Richmond Turnpike Company in 1838 after he had made his fortunes in the steamboat business.  He remained the owner untill the early 1860's when the American civil war broke out and he sold the service to the Staten Island Railway company, that was owned by his brother Jacob Vanderbilt.  Read more and see many pictures at

of course  adverb  From literal meaning "of the ordinary course of events".  The oldest attestation as "of course" is from the 1540s; the form "by course" (then spelled "bi cours") dates to about 1300.   
(not comparable)  Used other than with a figurative or idiomatic meaning: see of,‎ course.  (idiomatic) Indicates enthusiastic agreement.
 (idiomatic) Acknowledges the validity of the associated phrase. quotations ▼

Filler Words:  and then, even, fairly, just, much, only, pretty, quite, rather, really, simply, so that, there, totally, very.   At the beginning of sentences:  and, but, however, so, yet.  That list is definitely not exhaustive (there’s another word to watch out for: definitely), but it’s a good start.  These, and other words, often function exactly (there’s another: exactly) as described:  they serve as filler, taking up unneeded space on the page.  The majority of the time—85%?  I’ve never measured—they can be cut with little or no consequence or rewriting.  Christopher Daly 

Mary Flannery O'Connor (1925–1964) was an American novelist, short story writer and essayist.  She wrote two novels and thirty-two short stories, as well as a number of reviews and commentaries.  She was a Southern writer who often wrote in a sardonic Southern Gothic style and relied heavily on regional settings and supposedly grotesque characters, often in violent situations.  The unsentimental acceptance or rejection of the limitations or imperfection or difference of these characters (whether attributed to disability, race, crime, religion or sanity) typically underpins the drama.

In her short lifetime, Flannery O’Connor wrote more than 600 letters to her mother.  To read them, you must travel to the 10th floor of Emory University’s Woodruff Library, where they’re filed in a manuscript collection measuring almost 19 feet.  If you make this journey, as I have, you will discover, among details of a more literary nature, the vigor of the author’s appetite.  In her first year as a graduate student at the University of Iowa, she wrote of sampling Triscuits at the local A&P and dining on ham—baked and boiled—at the school’s cafeteria.  She reported eating a couple of eggs each day and declared her preference for Vienna sausages, vanilla pudding, and prunes costing a mere 27 cents.  By spring of 1946, six months into her Iowa career, her purple dress no longer fit.  Caroline McCoy
Find biographical information on Flannery O'Conner and how to visit Andalusia, her home in Milledgeville, Georgia, at

A Good Hard Look, a 2011 novel by Ann Napolitano, portrays Flannery O'Connor as one character.

Turkey Skillet Casserole  With this hearty dish, the pasta cooks right in the sauce for a quick and easy one-pot meal.  Turkey, mushrooms, and spinach give it a light touch.  Instead of fresh turkey, you could use leftover turkey from a Thanksgiving feast!  For a lower-carb version, use zucchini noodles instead of linguini.  Prep time  5 min  Cook time  10 min  Servings  2  Source:  Delicious One-Pot Dishes.  Recipe Credit:  Linda Gassenheimer.  Issue 2190  November 29, 2019 

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The fashion for wigs began with the Bourbon kings of France.  Louis XIII (1601-1643) went prematurely bald and took to wearing a wig.  By the middle of the century, and especially during the reign of Louis XIV, The Sun King, wigs were virtually obligatory for all European nobility and 'persons of quality'.  At that time they were known in England as periwigs, which was shortened to wig by 1675.  Wigs were expensive to purchase and to keep in condition and were the preserve of the powerful and wealthy.  Ostentation was the order of the day in Bourbon France and over time the wigs became bigger, often to the point of absurdity and requiring of scaffolding.  It isn't difficult to imagine how the term 'big-wig' emerged to refer to the rich and powerful.

The library might have been the first place I was every given autonomy.  Even when I was maybe four or five years old, I was allowed to head off on my own.  *  It was the kind of case lawyers call 'flam-bono'--do the case for no money but get lots of attention:  flamboyant and pro bono.  *  In Beijing, about a third of library books are borrowed out of vending machines.  *  In Bangkok, the Library Train for Young People serves homeless children.  -  Susan Orlean  * The library was my nesting place, my birthing place; it was my growing place. -  Ray Bradbury  The Library Book by Susan Orlean

In the library, we can live forever.  Susan Orlean

Big wig is an important person.  Now usually spelled as single word, bigwig.  The fashion for wigs began with the Bourbon kings of France. Louis XIII (1601-1643) went prematurely bald and took to wearing a wig.  By the middle of the century, and especially during the reign of Louis XIV, The Sun King, wigs were virtually obligatory for all European nobility and 'persons of quality'.  At that time they were known in England as periwigs, which was shortened to wig by 1675.  Wigs were expensive to purchase and to keep in condition and were the preserve of the powerful and wealthy.  Ostentation was the order of the day in Bourbon France and over time the wigs became bigger, often to the point of absurdity and requiring of scaffolding.  It isn't difficult to imagine how the term 'big-wig' emerged to refer to the rich and powerful.  See pictures at

The Turtle signifies the ancient belief that the world was created on the back of a turtle, the “moss-back turtle,” also known as the snapping turtle.  Charles Edward “Ed” Faber, a white man and good friend of the Wyandotte Nation from Upper Sandusky, Ohio, designed our tribal turtle.  Ed spent most of his life researching and writing about our people and was very knowledgeable when it came to selecting elements that best represented the tribe throughout history.  He designed our turtle in the 1970s and it was first used in 1977.  The symbols used in his design perfectly represent the tribe.  Each has a purpose and meaning and can be verified through both traditional and historical accounts; however, the turtle was originally designed without the willow branches.  The branches were added later after an assumption was made regarding their traditional relevance.  At the request of Chief Leaford Bearskin Ed’s turtle was redesigned by Lloyd Divine in 1989 to establish a more modern presentation of the tribe.  This rendition of the turtle was initially to be used by economic development giving a common visual representation yet with a separation from the tribal division.  Chief Billy Friend has since adopted Lloyd’s design to represent the tribe in both branches.

Winold Reiss (1886-1953) by Jeffrey C. Stewart   Winold Reiss was a uniquely gifted artist and designer of the twentieth century, a bold pioneer whose work included a rich variety of portraits, distinctive interiors, and a multitude of cutting-edge graphic designs that lifted the quality of color and black-and-white design in America.  Born in Karlsruhe, Germany, Winold was the son of Fritz Reiss, a painter trained at the Düsseldorf Academy, who made drawing and painting the German landscape and its peasants his life work.  Fritz Reiss was his son's first teacher, but after that tutelage, Winold went to Munich where he attended both the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Kunstakademie), studying with Franz von Stuck, and the School of Applied Arts (Kunstgewerbeschule), where he studied with Julius Diez.  He emigrated to America in 1913 and settled in New York City, where he quickly became well known for his strong, colorful graphic designs as well as for his modern commercial interiors.  Read more and see graphics at

NEW MUSEUM to open in Washington, DC May 2020  Many surprises about words and language await at Planet Word.  Visitors will engage in activities that make words and language exciting with delightful programming and playful, interactive exhibits.  Opportunities for self-expression and intense listening ensure that no one will leave Planet Word without finding the fun in how we joke, sing, speak, read, and write every day.  Visitors to Planet Word will realize that words really do matter, and that they can be humankind’s most powerful tools.  Innovative, playful, and immersive exhibits and experiences will beckon visitors to explore the power of words.  See Planet World's blog at

Mary Ann (Ball) Bickerdyke was a nurse and health care provider to the Union Army during the American Civil War.  Bickerdyke was born on July 19, 1817, near Mount Vernon, Ohio.  She enrolled at Oberlin College, one of the few institutions of higher education open to women at this time in the United States, but she did not graduate.  Upon leaving Oberlin, Bickerdyke became a nurse.  She assisted doctors in Cincinnati, Ohio, during the cholera epidemic of 1837.  Ten years later, she married Robert Bickerdyke.  The couple moved to Galesburg, Illinois in 1856.  Robert Bickerdyke died two years later.  Mary Bickerdyke continued to work as a nurse to support her two young sons.  At the outbreak of the American Civil War, residents of Galesburg purchased medical supplies worth five hundred dollars for soldiers serving at Cairo, Illinois.  The townspeople trusted Bickerdyke to deliver these supplies.  Upon arriving in Cairo, Bickerdyke used the supplies to establish a hospital for the Union soldiers.  Bickerdyke spent the remainder of the war traveling with various Union armies, establishing more than three hundred field hospitals to assist sick and wounded soldiers.  With the Civil War's conclusion, Bickerdyke continued to assist Union veterans.  She provided legal assistance to veterans seeking pensions from the federal government.  She also helped secure pensions for more than three hundred women nurses.  Bickerdyke herself did not receive a pension until the 1880s.  It was only twenty-five dollars per month.  Bickerdyke moved to Kansas following the war, where she helped veterans to settle and begin new lives.  She secured a ten thousand dollar donation from Jonathan Burr, a banker, to help the veterans obtain land, tools, and supplies.  She also convinced the Chicago, Burlington, & Quincy Railroad to provide free transportation for veterans hoping to settle in Kansas.  Due to Bickerdyke's efforts, General Sherman authorized the settlers to use government wagons and teams to transport the belongings of the veterans to their new homes.  Bickerdyke remained in Kansas for most of the rest of her life.  She settled in Salina, Kansas, where she opened a hotel.  She continued to fight for the rights of veterans.  She moved briefly to New York, before returning to Kansas with her two sons.  Bickerdyke moved later to California, hoping that a change of climate would restore her declining health.  She settled in San Francisco, where she accepted a position at the United States Mint.  Bickerdyke eventually returned to Kansas, where she died on November 8, 1901.  See a picture of "Mother Bickerdyke" at

http://librariansmuse.blogspot.  Issue 2189  November 27, 2019 

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini (1883-1945) was an Italian journalist and politician, who rose to prominence in the first half of the 20th century as the head of the National Fascist Party as well as the Prime Minister of Italy.  Mussolini became the Prime Minister of Italy in 1922 and continued to rule the country till 1943, during which he turned the form of governance into a dictatorship.  Find quotes by Mussolini, including "All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state." and
"We become strongest, I feel, when we have no friends upon whom to lean, or to look for moral guidance." at

To mince has, since the 1500s, meant to make light of, specifically to use polite language when making a criticism.  Shakespeare used this this in Henry V:  I know no wayes to mince it in loue, but directly to say, I loue you.  and in Antony & Cleopatra:  Speake to me home, Mince not the generall tongue, name Cleopatra as she is call'd in Rome.  For the first use in print of 'mince words' we need to wait until the 19th century. Benjamin Disraeli, who was a novellist as well as a politician, used it in his 1826 story Vivian Grey:  Your Lordship’s heart is very warm in the cause of a party, which, for I will not mince my words, has betrayed you.  Copyright © Gary Martin, 2019

At the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, there's a particularly interactive exhibition involving famous American realist artist Edward Hopper.  The special exhibit runs through February 23, 2020 and includes, for a lucky number of guests, an overnight in a Hopper painting.  "Western Motel," is the painting-turned-hotel room at the center of the months-long exhibition titled "Hopper Hotel Experience."  In total, the museum is showing 60 works of art by the artist, who's known for depicting American landscapes and --and often for capturing a certain loneliness or detachment one feels in a big, bustling city.  Other notable American artists, including John Singer Sargent, David Hockney and Berenice Abbott, also have works on display, but the centerpiece is undoubtedly the three-dimensional living space.  Travis Fullerton  Read more and see pictures at

TEA FOR THREE:  Lady Bird, Pat & Betty by  Eric H. Weinberger and Elaine Bromka  Full-length Play  Comedy | Drama  Cast size:  1 to 3w.  What is it like for a woman when her husband becomes the president of the United States—and she is suddenly thrust into the spotlight?  This witty, sly and deeply moving script explores the hopes, fears and loves of Lady Bird Johnson, Pat Nixon and Betty Ford.  In three scenes taking place in the family quarters of the White House just prior to the end of living there as the wife of a president, each of the women confides alone to the audience.  Secrets are spilled about their early years, their husbands' rise to power, their romances with the men, their unique paths as wives in the White House, and their feelings about imminent retirement.  Each of the three portraits becomes intimate, by degrees, as the women wrestle with what Pat Nixon called "the hardest unpaid job in the world."

TEA FOR THREE  (2013)  A book in the Tea Shop Mysteries series by Laura Childs

TEA FOR THREE is "a small business in the Big Apple."  "You buy a tea.  We donate to the Canopy Project."  Luxury tea for every day.  Hand-blended in small batches.

 Little Women may have paid the bills, but Louisa May Alcott was far more passionate about her sensationalist thrillers.  Stephanie Sylverne has the story. | CrimeReads
Recent German theatrical adaptations of Anna Karenina and Don Quixote make the case that long literary works can, in fact, translate to the stage. | The New York Times 
 “I am in this room [semicolon] and so is my mother.”  Read Sarah Broom’s National Book Awards speech. | Vulture
A history of “the quietest room in San Francisco”—the Poetry Room at City Lights Bookstore. | SFGate   Lit Hub Daily  November 22, 2019

PULLMAN, Wash. —  November 23, 2019  The apple tree stands alone near the top of a steep hill, wind whipping through its branches as a perfect sunset paints its leaves a vibrant gold.  It has been there for more than a century, and there is no hint that the tree or its apples are anything out of the ordinary.  But this scraggly specimen produces the Arkansas Beauty, a so-called heritage fruit long believed to be extinct until amateur botanists in the Pacific Northwest tracked it down three years ago.  It’s one of 13 long-lost apple varieties rediscovered by a pair of retirees in the remote canyons, wind-swept fields and hidden ravines of what was once the Oregon Territory.  E.J. Brandt and David Benscoter, who together form the nonprofit Lost Apple Project, log countless hours and hundreds of miles in trucks, on all-terrain vehicles and on foot to find orchards planted by settlers as they pushed west more than a century ago.  The two are racing against time to preserve a slice of homesteader history:  The apple trees are old, and many are dying.  Others are being ripped out for more wheat fields or housing developments for a growing population.  “To me, this area is a goldmine,” said Brandt, who has found two lost varieties in the Idaho panhandle.  “I don’t want it lost in time.  I want to give back to the people so that they can enjoy what our forefathers did.”  Brandt and Benscoter scour old county fair records, newspaper clippings and nursery sales ledgers to figure out which varieties existed in the area.  Then they hunt them down, matching written records with old property maps, land deeds and sometimes the memories of the pioneers’ great-grandchildren.  They also get leads from people who live near old orchards.  The task is huge.  North America once had 17,000 named varieties of domesticated apples, but only about 4,000 remain.  The Lost Apple Project believes settlers planted a few hundred varieties in their corner of the Pacific Northwest alone.  The Homestead Act of 1862 gave 160 acres to families who would improve the land and pay a small fee, and these newcomers planted orchards with enough variety to get them through the long winter, with apples that ripened from early spring until the first frosts.  Then, as now, trees planted for eating apples were not raised from seeds; cuttings taken from existing trees were grafted onto a generic root stock and raised to maturity.  These cloned trees remove the genetic variation that often makes “wild” apples inedible—so-called “spitters.”  Gillian Flaccus

Today, wild turkeys are back with a vengeance.  Touted as a major restoration success story, the wild turkey began to be reintroduced to New England about half a century ago.  Suburbs now stretch in wide swaths of terrain that once supported forests and associated wildlife.  Turkeys have taken to life in the suburbs with such enthusiasm that they are now a wildlife management issue for the human residents who must share living space with them.  Emboldened problem turkeys chase and intimidate women and small children, as well as pets.  Whole flocks have gone rogue.  Gone are the turkey’s natural predators—lynxes, cougars and wolves—that had kept America’s premier game bird’s population in balance.  As Thoreau pointed out, nature is no longer perfect.  More than 170,000 wild turkeys now live in New England and they’re not always at peace with their human neighbors.  Bryan Stevens  Thank you, Muse reader!

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY  Ideologies separate us.  Dreams and anguish bring us together. - Eugene Ionesco, playwright (26 Nov 1909-1994)  Issue 2188  November 26, 2019