Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Quotes from Saint Odd, Odd Thomas series, final installment, by Dean Koontz   "They say that necessity is the mother of invention, but it is also the grandmother of desperation."  "I had taken no more than a dozen steps when I turned abruptly, colliding with a woman in a green fishnet top and red culottes.  I apologized, though considering her outfit, she should have apologized as well . . . "

Odd Thomas is a fictional character who first appeared in Dean Koontz's 2003 novel of the same name, Odd Thomas.  He is a twenty-year-old man who lives in the fictional desert town of Pico Mundo, California, and is able to see the spirits of the dead.  He is able to make himself heard to them but they cannot speak to him, although they may make signs or mouth words.  The ghost of Elvis Presley was once a constant companion to him, until the end of Brother Odd, at which time Elvis moved on and the ghost of Frank Sinatra became Odd's new companion.  Sinatra similarly left at the end of Odd Hours, shortly after an impressive display of poltergeist activity.  In the fifth novel Odd Apocalypse he is visited by the ghost of Alfred Hitchcock, although he explains that he wishes to help him, but does not have enough time at the moment while trying to discover the secrets of the estate of Roseland.  Mr. Hitchcock appears again in the sixth novel, Deeply OddOdd was told his name was originally intended to be "Todd", (or possibly "Dodd", after his uncle whom he has never met and may not exist) and his actual name stems from this error on his birth certificate.  Order of Odd Thomas materials:  Prequels (In Odd We TrustOdd Is on Our SideHouse of Odd). Odd Thomas, Forever Odd, Brother Odd, Webisodes (Odd Passenger 1,2,3,4), Odd Hours, Odd Interlude (three shorts taking place between Odd HoursOdd Apocalypse and Deeply Odd, with an excerpt from Deeply Odd), Odd Apocalypse, Deeply Odd, Saint Odd

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the commonest type of lexical reference book was one that included only those words that might present some difficulty to the user, through unfamiliarity, orthographic irregularity, etc.  These are termed 'hard-word dictionaries'.  But in the 18th century, the practice began to grow of including more everyday words as well.  Confirmed by Dr Johnson's magisterial English Dictionary of 1755, this is the tradition that has won out:  we now assume that dictionaries will be inventories of all the words of a language.  The Hutchinson Dictionary of Difficult Words is a compendium of around 14,000 of the more troublesome and obscure words in the English language.  

Engineer and professor Karl Culmann of Zürich happened (in the year 1866) to come into his colleague Georg Hermann von Meyer’s dissecting-room, where the anatomist was contemplating the section of a bone.  The engineer, who had been busy designing a new and powerful crane, saw in a moment that the arrangement of the bony trabeculae [spongy bone] was nothing more nor less than a diagram of the lines of stress, or directions of tension and compression, in the loaded structure:  in short, that nature was strengthening the bone in precisely the manner and direction in which strength was required; and he is said to have cried out, “That’s my crane!”  One of Culmann’s students, Maurice Koechlin, worked for Eiffel.  And it was Koechlin who sketched the original concept of the Eiffel Tower, drawing from his training in visualizing forces.  The same tools that Culmann developed and used to understand bone were later used by Eiffel’s engineers to design a tower that minimizes the use of material.  Bridges, towers, and trees are sometimes called skeletons or filigrees.  Look around and appreciate. 

Best Filigree poems written by Poets on PoetrySoup.  
Dormant Poem by Susan Wetmore

Four Spring Artichoke Recipes That Think Outside the Steamer from chefs around the country by Kitty Greenwald  

Walpurgis (Swedish: "Valborg") on April 30 is a widely celebrated event in Scandinavia, most of all in Sweden.  Walpurgis Night precedes Labour Day in Scandinavia on May 1 and many Walpurgis events continue over night from April 30 into that holiday.  The forms of celebration in Sweden vary in different parts of the country and between different cities.  One of the main traditions in Sweden is to light large bonfires, a custom which began during the 18th century.  Lighting the popular bonfires began with the purpose of keeping away evil spirits, especially demons and witches.  Nowadays, Walpurgis Night is usually seen as a celebration of springtime.  Many Swedes now celebrate the end of long, dreary winters by singing Spring songs.  Walpurgis being celebrated on April 30 creates a double national holiday in Sweden.  On this day, King Carl XVI Gustaf celebrates his birthday.  May Day/Labor Day (May 1st) follows Walpurgis Night celebrations with a wide choice of events, parades and festivities.

THE WEDDING by Martha Esbin
written for Guy Harrison Esbin and Rebecca Lynn Shaw
on the occasion of their marriage March 7, 2015

Gray and green, gold and cream
the prince and princess are serene
down the aisle they seem to glide
so dignified, so dignified.

Gold and cream, gray and green
friends and family fairly beam
the music sounds as in a dream
so dignified, so dignified.

Gray and green, gold and cream
friends and family are a team
rooting for the groom and bride
so dignified, so dignified.

Gold and cream, gray and green
eyes gleam at the scene
of the groom and bride
so satisfied, so satisfied.  Issue 1290  April 29, 2015  On this date in 1636, Esaias Reusner, German lute player and composer, was born,  On this date in 1745,  Oliver Ellsworth, American lawyer and politician, 3rd Chief Justice of the United States, was born.

Monday, April 27, 2015

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
Kangaroo words carry a tinier version of themselves within.
quiescent  (kwee-ES-uhnt, kwy-)  adjective   Still; inactive; not showing symptoms.  From Latin quiescere (to rest), from quies (quiet).  Earliest documented use:  1605.
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From:  Donald Coppock   Subject:  quiescent  Because non-proliferating cells are called ‘quiescent’, I named a gene I found quiescin in a search to understand this phenomenon.  This gene is now known as QSOXI.
From:  Steven Szalaj  Subject:  quiescent  Popsicles were a favorite treat on hot Chicago summer days.  One of my odd memories is, as a child, thinking about the phrase “A Quiescently Frozen Confection” printed on the wrapper in the 1950s & 1960s--see photo at  I did look up the word, and when I discovered that “quiet” was a definition, I used to imagine how a confection can be frozen “quietly”.  Did the factory workers walk around the noiseless facility in soft booties only whispering to each other while the treats were caressed and coddled into their coolness?  Of course, it meant that they were not hard-frozen, like ice cubes, but frozen in such a way that you could bite them (and not “crack the enamel on your teeth”-- as my mother used to warn me when I chewed ice).  Looking back, I’m sure one reason the admen chose the word was its alliteration with “confection”.

It stands a bit over 37 feet.  It is 231 feet long.  It stretches from left field all the way to the triangle in center.  It is the Green Monster.  The wall was part of the park when it was originally built in 1912.  The original wall was made of wood and burnt down with much of the park in the 1934.  It was rebuilt and made of tin upon its reconstruction.  The current wall was built of a hard plastic and was assembled in 1976.  Up until 1947, advertisements draped the wall.  That year the wall was painted green and hence the name the Green Monster would become synonymous with Fenway Park forever.  See also and

Within walking distance of the Green Monster is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum where, in the early morning hours of March 18, 1990, a pair of thieves disguised as Boston police officers entered the museum, stealing thirteen works of art.  They posed as Boston police officers and stated that they were responding to a call.  The guard on duty broke protocol and allowed them entry through a security door.  Link to pictures and information on the stolen works at

horse opera  noun   You have probably noticed that while there may be lots of horses in a cowboy film, there is usually no singing.  The word OPERA is used in this term because the exciting stories and the overacting reminded people of operas.  Horse opera, in reference to a western, dates from the late 1920s.  About ten years later the term soap opera came to be used for a radio and still later for a television drama that was frequently sponsored by a soap manufacturer.  By the late 1940s the term space opera came into use for a drama involving space travelers and beings on other planets.  NOTE that there are lots of singing cowboys on horses in the movie Rio Rita (1929 and 1942 versions),  based upon the 1927 Flo Ziegfeld Broadway musical.  Read about the singing Texas Rangers at

Every day, trilling away innocuously in the background, dozens of tiny pieces of music are busy burrowing deep inside our psyche.  To the untrained ear they might sound unremarkable, even friendly - but drop your guard and you could fall under their spell.  Everyone recognises visual branding such as logos, and the aural equivalents are equally pervasive.  Nokia's ringtone, Intel's four-note bongs, McDonalds' "I'm lovin' it" refrain - all masterpieces of sonic branding, the 21st Century offspring of the jingle.  John Deathridge, a musicologist at King's College London, believes that sonic branding has an earlier, and yet more highbrow provenance.  Prof Deathridge notes that composer Richard Wagner was the first to truly popularise the power of the miniature musical motif, using more than 100 of them during his vast operatic Ring Cycle to identify characters, plots and objects.  These tiny themes, which became known as leitmotifs, were, Prof Deathridge believes, truly seminal--and the advertising industry may owe more than it realises to the Ring Cycle.  "It changed the face of opera, if not music as a whole  because a lot of composers wanted their music to mean something in a public sense," he adds, emphasising the debt owed to it by branders:  "The principle is basically the same."

Cobranding is a marketing partnership between at least two different brands of goods or services.  Cobranding encompasses several different types of branding partnerships, such as sponsorships.  This strategy typically associates the brands of at least two companies with a specific good or service.  See also The Pros and Cons of Co-Branding by Steve McKee at

Voice of America, the government-sponsored news organization that has been on the air since 1942, broadcasts in 44 languages--45 if you count Special English
Special English was developed nearly 50 years ago as a radio experiment to spread American news and cultural information to people outside the United States who have no knowledge of English or whose knowledge is limited.  Using a 1,500-word vocabulary and short, simple phrases without the idioms and cliches of colloquial English, broadcasters speak at about two-thirds the speed of conversational English.  But far from sounding like a record played at the wrong speed, Special English is a complicated skill that takes months of training with a professional voice coach who teaches how to breathe properly and enunciate clearly.  A vocabulary of 1,500 words is adequate for news reporting, but for features and biographies, more words are allowed if they are explained in the context of the sentence.  Words can be added or dropped from the vocabulary.  Sabotage, a word used often in the World War II era, may be dropped because it is rarely used in news stories today.

Garden Peas need to be shelled before eating.  Fresh garden peas have rounded pods that are usually slightly curved in shape with a smooth texture and vibrant green color.  Inside garden peas are green rounded pea seeds that are sweet and starchy in taste and can be eaten raw or cooked.  Garden peas have more nutrients and more calories than snow peas or sugar snap peas.  Garden peas are sweet and succulent for three to four days after they are picked but tend to become mealy and starchy very quickly if they are not cooked soon after harvesting.
Snow Peas or Chinese Pea Pods  This variety is usually used in stir-fries.  Snow peas are flat with edible pods through which you can usually see the shadows of the flat Pea seeds inside; they are never shelled.
Sugar Snap Peas  A cross between the garden and snow pea, they have plump edible pods with a crisp, snappy texture; they are not shelled.  Both snow peas and snap peas feature a slightly sweeter and cooler taste than the garden pea. 

Samuel Menashe (1925–2011) earned acclaim as the creator of numerous compact and precise poems.  His first American volume, No Jerusalem But This, was praised by Stephen Spender for "language intense and clear as diamonds."  Spender declared that Menashe "can compress an attitude to life that has an immense history into three lines."  The Muser has celebrated National Poetry Month by reading short poems, including April and May by American poet Samuel Menashe with music by John Brodbin Kennedy.  Issue 1289  April 27, 2015  On this date in 1667, the blind and impoverished John Milton sold the copyright of Paradise Lost for £10.  On this date in 1749, was the first performance of George Frideric Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks in Green Park, London.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Silent Generation is a label for people born from the mid-1920s to the early 1940s.  The name was originally applied to people in North America but has also been applied to those in Western Europe, Australia and South America.  In the United States, the generation was comparatively small because the financial insecurity of the 1920s and 1930s caused people to have fewer children.  The "Silents" are called that because many focused on their careers rather than on activism, and people in it were largely encouraged to conform with social norms.  Time Magazine coined the name in a 1951 article entitled The Younger Generation, and the name has stuck ever since.  
NOTE that babies born in the mid-1920s to the early 1940s were originally called depression babies. 

Since its introduction in the early 20th century, the film industry’s contributions to the English language have been manifold.  Some terms, along with the concepts they described, were fleeting.  Take Smell-O-Vision, the olfactory movie-going experience in which plot-related scents were pumped into the theater during screenings; it made its debut and last appearance in the same 1960s film.  However other terms born in cinema have stuck around to this day, and some have even broadened their applications beyond the lexicon of film.  When English speakers first started attending “the pictures” in the nineteen-teens, movie screens were coated with reflective metallic paint, resulting in a silver surface to better display the projected images.  By the 1920s, the term silver screen moved beyond the literal realm and into metaphorical territory to apply to cinema in general. This type of sense broadening in which something associated with an object or concept takes on the name of that thing is called metonymy.

Metaphor and metonymy are similar in various aspects but the major difference is that if a metaphor substitutes a concept with another, a metonymy selects a related term.  So, if metaphor is for substitution, metonymy is for association.  For example, the sentence ‘he is a tiger in class’ is a metaphor.  Here the word tiger is used in substitution for displaying an attribute of character of the person.  The sentence ‘the tiger called his students to the meeting room’ is a metonymy.  Here there is no substitution; instead the person is associated with a tiger for his nature.  So metonymy is a figure of speech.  It is used in rhetoric where a thing is not referred by its name but with the associated word.  A metaphor is an expression.  This expression shows the similarity between two things on some aspects.

Shirred eggs, also known as baked eggs, are eggs that have been baked in a flat-bottomed dish.  Shirred eggs are considered a simple and reliable dish that can be easily varied and expanded upon.  An alternative way of cooking is to crack the eggs into individual ramekins, and cook them in a water bath, creating the French dish eggs en cocotte.  Traditionally they have been cooked in a dish called a shirrer, from which the dish gets its name, but the name now applies regardless of the type of dish in which they are baked.  How To Make Baked (Shirred) Eggs (and suggested toppings) at  See also Shirred Eggs with Mushrooms and Swiss Chard at

2015 Toledo Museum of Art Exhibitions
The American Civil War:  Through Artists’ Eyes  April 3-July 5, Galleries 28 & 29   This exhibition depicts major events of the American Civil War as seen through the eyes of the artist.  Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the end of the war, The American Civil War features approximately 50 objects drawn from the Toledo Museum of Art collection and local institutions and collections, including a monumental painting of the Battle of Cold Harbor by Gilbert Gaul that depicts Battery H, an artillery unit that included many soldiers from Northwest Ohio.
Gifts on Paper from The Apollo Society  April 10-May 31, Gallery 6   This installation contains all 10 works on paper given during the group’s history.  Objects—done in charcoal, ink, oil, photography, lithography, etching and wood engraving—include Paul Colin’s Art Deco portfolio Le tumulte noir (The Black Craze) featuring a young Josephine Baker; the 1570 seminal treatise Four Books of Architecture by Andrea Palladio and the monumental, meticulously drawn Clear, Wondrous, Ancient, Strange showing the four ancient cypresses growing at the foot of Dengwei Mountain in China.

Anyone who's ever learned music probably remembers reaching a point when they just played without "thinking" about the notes.  It turns out that a little bit of disconnect goes a long way in learning motor tasks, according to a study published online April 6, 2015 in the journal Nature Neuroscience.  The findings could lend insight into why children learn some tasks faster than adults, and could point toward ways to help adults learn faster and to make classrooms more conducive to learning, according to the authors.  Not surprisingly, motor and visual modules did a lot of talking to each other, as slow sight-reading eventually became speed-playing.  Subjects recruited other regions of the brain to work out the problem too.  That was true for fast learners and slow learners, according to the study.  But what appeared to set the fast learners apart from the slow learners was how soon they let go of those other parts of the brain, particularly areas that have to do with strategies and problem solving.  Any athlete will tell you this:  If you’re competent at something and you start thinking about it, especially at a detailed level, you’re just dead in the water," said UC Santa Barbara systems neuroscientist Scott Grafton, who has puzzled over motor learning for two decades.  "Golfers talk about this all the time.  It’s OK for practice, but not for performance conditions.”  Geoffrey Mohan

International Astronomy Day  April 25, 2015
Astronomy Day began in California in 1973.  Doug Berger, then president of the Astronomical Association of Northern California (AANC), decided that rather than trying to entice people to travel long distances to visit observatory open houses, the AANC would set up telescopes at sites more easily accessible.  Astronomy Day now goes by the name of International Astronomy Day as events take places throughout the planet.

As the model for Norman Rockwell's "Rosie the Riveter," Mary Doyle Keefe became the symbol of American women working on the home front during World War II.  The 92-year-old died April 21, 2015 in Simsbury, Connecticut.  As a 19-year-old telephone operator, Keefe posed for the famous painting that would become the cover of the Saturday Evening Post on May 29, 1943.  See the model pictured in 2002 next to the magazine cover.  "Rosie the Riveter" is often confused with another popular image from the same era.  The poster shows a woman flexing her arm under the slogan "We Can Do It."  It was part of a nationwide campaign to sell war bonds, but is not the same character.  Issue 1288  April 24, 2015  On this date in 1800, the United States Library of Congress was established when President John Adams signed legislation to appropriate $5,000 USD to purchase "such books as may be necessary for the use of Congress".  On this date in 1907, Hersheypark, founded by Milton S. Hershey for the exclusive use of his employees, was opened.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

English speakers say, “It’s all Greek to me,” when they find something hard to understand.  Shakespeare used the phrase in “Julius Caesar”.  The phrase actually comes from a Medieval Latin proverb, “Graecum est; non potest legi,” meaning “It is Greek; it cannot be read.”  From there, the phrase filtered into many European languages.  Today, English, Spanish, Polish, Norwegian and Swedish all use Greek as a metaphor for incomprehensibility.  See The directed graph of stereotypical incomprehensibility filed by Mark Liberman at

The official dictionary of the Swedish language will introduce a gender-neutral pronoun in April, 2015, editors at the Swedish Academy have announced.  “Hen” , coined in the 1960s, will be added to “han” (he) and “hon” (she) as one of 13,000 new words in the latest edition of the Swedish Academy’s SAOL.

April 14, 2015  Now in its fourth week on the New York Times Best Sellers list, Pioneer Girl:  The Annotated Autobiography by Laura Ingalls Wilder, edited by Pamela Smith Hill, continues to defy expectations.  As the industry news source, Publishers Weekly, stated in its story “Not-So-Little Sales on the Prairie,” on March 30, transactions numbered close to 40,000 out of the 75,000 units printed, and the book remains on top-selling lists throughout the nation.

April 16, 2015  Multnomah County's Library has made huge environmental strides in an often overlooked area.  The system has become the first major library operation in the country to sustainably source the paper it uses to print patron receipts and hold slips.  Whereas most receipts are printed on paper that contains bisphenol A or bisphenol S, Multnomah has switched to an alternative paper made by Wisconsin-based Appvion Inc. That paper uses a vitamin C formulation in place of phenols like BPA or BPS.

The rise of relatively inexpensive digital audio and video recording software such as Apple's Garage Band and Adobe's Premiere Pro has made it possible for libraries to offer access to technology never thought possible even a decade ago in state-of-the-art recording studios.  It's happening nationwide:  Brooklyn (N.Y.) Public Library, Chicago Public Library, Hillsborough County (Fla.) Public Library, Joliet (111.) Public Library, Lawrence (Kans.) Public Library, Madison (Wis.) Public Library, and St. Louis Public Library, among many others, all offer such facilities.  The technical capabilities vary at each location, but the mission is consistent: to offer a place where patrons of every age and skill set can learn new skills or hone existing ones.  The Garfield Heights branch of the Cuyahoga County (Ohio) Public Library, Lane Edwards, manager, has an audio recording studio offering a variety of musical instruments and digital recording equipment patrons can use to record and mix their own music.  Novices to professionals have used the studio to record works in genres from rap to jazz, Edwards says.  The video recording studio is fashioned like the set of a television station, complete with audio recording equipment, lighting equipment, a green screen, and a computer capable of editing and publishing videos.  The studio draws an equally diverse crowd--teenagers to local businesses have taken advantage of the technology.  See full article at

Onomatopoeia is a term for a word that mimics a sound--for instance:  buzz, hush, fizz, hiss and click.  Find examples of memorable poems using onomatopoeia at  NOTE that words written by Bernard Zaritsky for the song Little White Duck include "I'm a little black bug floating in the water Bzz, Bzzz, Bzzz." and "I'm a little red snake playing in the water Hiss, Hisss, Hisss."  A similar song, Over in the Meadow, has verses with buzz, hiss, caw, and quack

In geometry, a torus (plural tori) is a surface of revolution generated by revolving a circle in three-dimensional space about an axis coplanar with the circle.  If the axis of revolution does not touch the circle, the surface has a ring shape and is called a ring torus or simply torus if the ring shape is implicit.  When the axis is tangent to the circle, the resulting surface is called a horn torus; when the axis is a chord of the circle, it is called a spindle torus.  The ring torus bounds a solid known as a solid torus or, alternatively, a ring toroid. The adjective toroidal can be applied to tori, toroids or, more generally, any ring shape as in toroidal inductors and transformers.  Real-world examples of (approximately) toroidal objects include inner tubes and swim rings.  A torus should not be confused with a solid torus, which is formed by rotating a disk, rather than a circle, around an axis.  It is the torus plus the volume inside the torus.  Real-world approximations include doughnuts, vadais, many lifebuoys, and O-rings.  The word torus comes from the Latin word meaning cushionSee graphics (several of them moving) at

On April 22, 2015 the Supreme Court will hear a case on whether the government can seize a chunk of a business’s product to regulate prices.  Horne v. USDA has its roots in the Great Depression and federal programs to prop up the price of goods by controlling supply.  To create raisin scarcity, the government established a Raisin Administrative Committee that manages the supply of raisins through annual marketing orders.  Raisin handlers must set aside a portion of their annual crop, which the feds may then give away, sell on the open market, or send overseas.  Among the targets were Fresno, California raisin farmers Marvin and Laura Horne, who have been in the business for decades.  In 2003-2004 the family farm was required to give some 30% of its raisin crop to the government—some 306 tons—without compensation.  The previous year they had to hand over 47%, and they were paid less than the raisins cost to produce.  The Raisin Administrative Committee sent a truck to seize raisins off their farm and, when that failed, it demanded that the family pay the government the dollar value of the raisins instead.  The Hornes say this raisin toll is an unconstitutional seizure of their property.   Under the Fifth Amendment’s Takings Clause, “private property” shall not “be taken for public use, without just compensation.”   That clause is typically understood to make it illegal for the government to grab houses, cars or even raisins.

April 21, 2015  Anthony Doerr’s second world war novel All the Light We Cannot See has won the Pulitzer prize for fiction.  Worth $10,000 (£6,700), the fiction Pulitzer goes to “distinguished fiction by an American author, preferably dealing with American life”.  The judging panel of journalist Elizabeth Taylor, author Alan Cheuse and English professor David Haynes, called Doerr’s book “an imaginative and intricate novel”, which is “written in short, elegant chapters that explore human nature and the contradictory power of technology”.  Elizabeth Kolbert’s The Sixth Extinction won the non-fiction Pulitzer, cited by judges as “an exploration of nature that forces readers to consider the threat posed by human behaviour to a world of astonishing diversity”.  Gregory Pardlo’s Digest took the poetry Pulitzer, and the history honour went to Elizabeth Fenn’s history of the Native American tribe the Mandans, Encounters at the Heart of the World.  The biography award went to David Kertzer’s The Pope and Mussolini, a dual biography of Pius XI and Mussolini which judges said “uses recently opened Vatican archives to shed light on two men who exercised nearly absolute power over their realms”.  Alison Flood

April 22, 2015  Happy Earth Day!  More than one billion people participate in Earth Day campaigns every year and it is the largest civic event in the world, celebrated simultaneously around the globe by people of all nationalities, faiths and backgrounds.  In observance of Earth Day, Google changed its home page.  Issue 1287  April 22, 2015  On this date in 1876, the first ever National League baseball game was played in Philadelphia.  On this date in 1889, thousands rushed to claim land in the Land Rush of 1889.  Within hours the cities of Oklahoma City and Guthrie were formed with populations of at least 10,000.

Monday, April 20, 2015

The most famous first line of a novel was penned by Victorian Baron Edward Bulwer-Lytton.  “It was a dark and stormy night” led off his 1830 novel Paul Clifford.  See other incipits (famous first lines) at   The Muser says:  My favorite incipit is “When Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect.” (Kafka-- “The Metamorphosis”).  It is included in the comments at the previous link.  Also in the comments, find what I think is arguably the best-known incipit:  "It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times."  (Dickens--"The Tale of Two Cities").

The Charles Dickens Museum in London at 48 Doughty Street, the restored home of the novelist,  holds the world’s most important collection of material relating to the great novelist and social campaigner.  A Georgian terraced house in Bloomsbury, the museum exhibits rare books, paintings, photographs and memorabilia.  ‘My house in town’, as Dickens referred to 48 Doughty Street, was an important place in the writer’s life:  within these walls his eldest two daughters were born, his sister-in-law Mary died aged 17 and some of his best-loved novels were written, including Oliver Twist.  
Find more information at

The creator of The Scarlet Pimpernel was the Hungarian-born novelist Baroness Emmuska Orczy.  Emma Magdalena Rosalia Maria Josefa Barbara Orczy was born on 23 September 1865 at the family estate "Tarna-Örs" in Hungary, the second daughter of Baron Felix Orczy, a composer and conductor, and his wife Emma.  Baron Orczy was a friend of the great composers Wagner, Liszt and Gounod, who were regular visitors to the family's estate.  Find other works by Orczy and link to the e-book at

Quotes from Eudora Welty, American author, photographer, journalist (1909–2001)
“I am a writer who came from a sheltered life.  A sheltered life can be a daring life as well.  For all serious daring starts from within.”  “Art, though, is never the voice of a country; it is an even more precious thing, the voice of the individual, doing its best to speak, not comfort of any sort, but truth.  And the art that speaks it most unmistakably, most directly, most variously, most fully, is fiction; in particular, the novel.”  “Henry James said there isn't any difference between "the English novel" and "the American novel" since there are only two kinds of novels at all, the good and the bad.”  See also

interesting words from Fatal Last Words, Bob Skinner mystery series, book 19, by Quintin Jardine   journo (journalist)  barney (argument)  oppo  (a counterpart in another organization)  gnashers  (teeth)

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
saturnine  (SAT-uhr-nyn)  adjective  1.  Sluggish.  2.  Gloomy.  3.  Cold.  From Latin Saturninus (of Saturn).  From the ancient belief in astrology that those born under the planet Saturn’s supposed influence had its characteristics.  Since Saturn was the farthest known planet at the time, it was believed to be the slowest and coldest.  The planet received its name after the Roman god of agriculture.  Earliest documented use:  1433.
mercurial  (muhr-KYOOR-ee-uhl)  adjective  1.  Fickle; volatile; changeable.  2.  Animated; quick-witted; shrewd.  3.  Relating to the metal, planet, or god Mercury.  After Mercury, Roman god of commerce, thievery, eloquence, communication, etc.  The planet is named after the god and in ancient astrology those born under the supposed influence of Mercury were ascribed his qualities.  Earliest documented use:  1300.
jovial (JOH-vee-uhl)  adjective  Cheerful; good-humored.  From Latin jovialis (of Jupiter), from Jov- (Jupiter).  The word Jupiter is from Latin Jovis pater (father Jove).  The planet Jupiter is named after the Roman god Jupiter and those born under the influence of this planet were supposed to be good-humored.  Ultimately from the Indo-European root dyeu- (to shine) that is also the source of diva, divine, Jupiter, Jove, July, Zeus, and Sanskrit deva (god).  Earliest documented use:  1590.
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From:  Anne Geyer  Subject:  saturnine   I was reminded of a recent novel by Kim Stanley Robinson, 2312.  The two main characters are a man with a slow, brooding nature and a woman with a highly volatile and emotional temperament.  This being a science fiction story, one of them was born and raised on a moon of Saturn, while the other came from a city on Mercury.
From:  Richard S. Russell  Subject:  saturnine   Gustav Holst’s orchestral suite The Planets refers to the nine planets:  Mars, the Bringer of War; Venus, the Bringer of Peace; Mercury, the Winged Messenger; Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity; Saturn, the Bringer of Old Age; Uranus, the Magician; and Neptune, the Mystic.
Limerick from Greg Holmes
His mercurial moods when imbibing wine
Run the gamut from jovial to saturnine.
He’s earthy; he’s quiet.
He’s a martial arts riot.
It’s a planetary personality conga line!

Marshmallow (Althaea officinalis)  Note:  Not to be confused with mallow leaf or mallow flower.  Not to be confused with confectionery marshmallows.  Although confectionery marshmallows were once made from the Althaea officinalis plant, they now primarily contain sugar.  Find constituents and effects at  Marshmallow is most commonly used to ease sore throats and dry coughs.  Find information at

The 35th annual Los Angeles Times Book Prizes were awarded April 18, 2015  at USC's Bovard Auditorium.  The winners in 10 categories included one of Southern California’s signature artists, Jaime Hernandez; Elizabeth Kolbert’s story of the Anthropocene age; and Claudia Rankine’s poetry collection “Citizen,” an achingly contemporary meditation on race.  Two previously announced awards were also presented at the ceremony.  Actor LeVar Burton received the Innovator’s Award for Reading Rainbow, which he hosted on television, turned into an app and is producing as a tool for at-risk kids.  Author T.C. Boyle was awarded the 2014 Robert Kirsch Award for lifetime achievement for writers of the West.  Carolyn Kellogg  Find complete list of winners at

YouTube’s 10-year anniversary:  Ohio man who shot company’s first video at San Diego Zoo said he didn’t even know what it was for.  The website's domain name was officially registered on April 14, 2005 by its founders Jawed Karim, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen.  Yakov Lapitsky, Karim’s buddy, recounts the day he unknowingly made Internet history and said he had yet to learn about his friend’s new idea for the company.  ‘Me at the Zoo’ started the business down the path to rapidly dominating the online video market.  They didn’t have much to say about the elephants that day at the San Diego Zoo, in 2005, but the images that Yakov Lapitsky and his friends recorded were worth thousands and thousands of words.  Turned out, they were making the first-ever YouTube video and their efforts amounted to one of the most consequential moments in Internet history.  Lapitsky, now a chemical and environmental engineering professor at the University of Toledo, doesn’t recall much about that day, but when a friend handed him a digital camera and he pressed “record,” he was unwittingly participating in an experiment that would change the world.  His friend was Jawed Karim and their video, titled “Me at the Zoo, ”became the first ever uploaded to YouTube, on April 23, 2005.  It has since been viewed more than 17 million times.  Karim and two colleagues then working at PayPal, Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, had registered domain on Feb. 14, 2005.  Lapitsky, then a doctoral student at the University of Delaware, doesn’t recall when he first learned about his friend’s venture.  At the time, he had no idea that the site, as everybody now knows, would revolutionize the way videos could be shown online.  In many ways, YouTube revolutionized the entire entertainment industry.  Joel Landau  Issue 1286  April 20, 2015  On this date in 1902, Pierre and Marie Curie refined radium chloride.  On this date in 1916, the Chicago Cubs played their first game at Weeghman Park (currently Wrigley Field), defeating the Cincinnati Reds 7–6 in 11 innings.

Friday, April 17, 2015

John Champlin Gardner Jr. (1933–1982) was an American novelist, essayist, literary critic and university professor.  Gardner was born in Batavia, New York.  His father was a lay preacher and dairy farmer, and his mother taught English at a local school.  Both parents were fond of Shakespeare and often recited literature together.  Gardner began his university education at DePauw University, but received his undergraduate degree from Washington University in St. Louis in 1955.  He received his M.A. & PhD. in 1958 from the University of Iowa.  He was Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Detroit in 1970 or 1971. 

Grendel  is a 1971 novel by American author John Gardner.  It is a retelling of part of the Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf from the perspective of the antagonist, Grendel.  In the novel, Grendel is portrayed as an antihero.  Several editions of the novel contain pen and ink line drawings of Grendel's head, by Emil Antonucci.  Ten years after publication, the novel was adapted into the 1981 animated movie Grendel Grendel Grendel.  In 1982, English progressive rock band Marillion wrote and recorded a 17-minute progressive opus entitled "Grendel" that was based on the book.  A version of the song shortened by a little under three minutes was released as a B-side to the single "Market Square Heroes" (now out of print).  The song is currently available on the two-disc version of the Script for a Jester's Tear album.  Seattle, WA indie rock band Sunny Day Real Estate has a song called "Grendel" that was based on the book. The song appears on the album, Diary.  On June 8, 2006, an opera based on the novel was premiered at the Los Angeles Opera.  The score was composed by Elliot Goldenthal, with a libretto by Julie Taymor and J.D. McClatchy.  The opera was produced in New York City during the summer of 2006 at the New York State Theater as part of the Lincoln Center Festival.  Find plot and characters described at

DIVERGING DIAMOND INTERCHANGES  See traffic flow depicted at  I-75/University Parkway in Florida and design of a diamond interchange at I-69 and SR 1/DuPont Road on the north side of Fort Wayne, Indiana at  Thank you, Muse readers!  

Q.  What U.S. president worked on canal boats, was a school janitor, a carpenter, a soldier, a professor and then college president of Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (later Hiram College)?  A.  James A. Garfield and

In the late 1940s Thor Heyerdahl set out to demonstrate experimentally that Polynesia might have been originally populated by Mesoamericans who drifted there on balsa wood rafts.  He called it the Kon-Tiki Expedition and he managed to make landfall on an island in the Tuamotus after a harrowing voyage of 102 days, although the experiment did not prove that this was the way Polynesia was settled.  The Polynesian triangle stretches from Hawaii in the north to New Zealand in the south, and from Tuvalu in the west to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the east, an area of ten million square miles.  Come On Shore and We Will Kill and Eat You All:  A New Zealand Story by Christina Thompson.  See a map and link to information on the islands at

Librarians get many questions that seem to be intended to settle bets between people. Here is one:  Which is correct on a sign for a cottage:  The Smiths or The Smith's.  The answer is that if you are thinking of the Smiths as a family unit, use The Smiths.  If you are thinking of the Smith's (house), then use The Smith's. 

Pietro Alessandro Yon (1886–1943) was an Italian-born organist and composer who made his career in the United States and became an American citizen.  He patented a game referred to as kangaroo golf--wooden pegs (kangaroos) were used instead of balls and were driven from a portable wooden tee.  "This invention relates to new and useful improvements in games.  The object of the present invention is a game simulating some of the characteristics of golf 5 without requiring a playing surface as large and as carefully prepared and maintained as is necessary with golf."  

Bay of Islands, New Zealand  "I have named the Bay of Islands" wrote Lieutenant James Cook.  It was late November 1769.  The British took it all with the 1840 signing of the Treaty of Waitangi.  But the treaty had different meanings for different people.  Cultural clashes climaxed with the sacking of Kororareka 1845 (now Russell) as Hone Heke felled the Union Jack for the fourth and last time.  Peace and wars followed for the next 20 odd years.  The Bay became a sleepy backwater until American writer Zane Grey pitched a tent and caught an marlin here in 1926, the world heard about it.  Maori name for New Zealand is Aotearoa means "Land of the long white cloud".  Ao (cloud), tea (white), roa (long).  

Kerikeri - Bay of Islands, New Zealand  Some say the name means " Dig-Dig" and this would be apt for the citrus capital of New Zealand.  Kerikeri's warm sub tropical microclimate supports the horticulture that produces roadside stalls selling fresh fruit and vegetables.  John Butler built the country's oldest house, Kemp House in 1822.  The Stone Store followed and by 1836 was in use as the mission store.  These wonderful buildings, together with the replica Maori village, Rewa's village, on the opposite bank are regarded as the "Cradle of the Nation".  .

According to The State of America’s Libraries Report released by the American Library Association (ALA), academic, public and school libraries are experiencing a shift in how they are perceived by their communities and society.  No longer just places for books, libraries of all types are viewed as anchors, centers for academic life and research and cherished spaces.  This and other library trends of the past year are detailed in ALA’s State of America’s Libraries Report 2015, made available during National Library Week, April 12–18, both as an American Libraries digital supplement, as well as on the ALA website at and as a PDF file. 

Easy dinner recipes:  3 ideas, 6 ingredients, 30 minutes or less by Noelle Carter  Learn how to make creamy scrambled eggs with toasted baguette slices, broccoli soup, and poached shrimp at

Bill Arhos, a frustrated guitarist whose long-running television show, “Austin City Limits,” introduced much of America to the sound of redneck rock and progressive country and prompted Austin, Tex., to proclaim itself the “Live Music Capital of the World,” died on April 11, 2015 in suburban Austin.  He was 80.  Armed with a pilot featuring Willie Nelson that he produced for $7,000, Mr. Arhos (pronounced AR-hoes) convinced public broadcasting stations in 1975 that the rest of the nation was ready for the emerging home-brewed regional mix of rock and counterculture lyrics by country singer-songwriters, a marked contrast to mainstream Nashville music.  By 2010, “Austin City Limits” had become the longest-running live musical concert show on television, surpassing the Boston Pops’s 34-year record on WGBH.

Austin City Limits Hall of Fame 2014:  Bill Arhos  Issue 1285  April 17, 2015  On this date in 1492, Spain and Christopher Columbus signed the Capitulations of Santa Fe for his voyage to Asia to acquire spices.  On this date in 1524, Giovanni da Verrazzano reached New York harbor.