Friday, July 31, 2015

30 Famous People With Law Degrees by Stacy Conradt   Find the list divided by authors, actors/celebrities, entrepreneurs, leaders, artists, sports figures, musicians, and puzzle makers at  
Politicians and lawyers, particularly trial lawyers, are actors as part of their jobs.  This is a powerful way they can get their views across. 

ArtPrize 2015, to be held in Grand Rapids, Michigan from Sept. 23-Oct. 11, 2015, will have a little more art and a lot more by artists from overseas in the seventh annual exhibition.  ArtPrize Seven will welcome 1,554 entries submitted by 1,649 artists from 42 U.S. states and 48 countries.  A total of 137 international artists, a 21 percent increase over last year, will travel to Michigan for the $500,000 competition.  A total of 27 entries have Japanese connections, than any other foreign country.  ArtPrize defines international artists as artists who were born or currently live outside of the United States.  Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk

See the chronicles of Toledo stone sculptor, stone artist and stone mason Calvin Babich and his 2015 ArtPrize submission "Balancing Act" at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan  at  See also where you find three of Calvin's links:  Twitter, Facebook and his Website.

Basil belongs to the genus Ocimum and is a member of the mint family (Lamiaceae).  The genus includes over sixty species of annuals, non-woody perennials and shrubs native to Africa and other tropical and subtropical regions of the Old and New World.  There are other plants outside the Ocimum genus with the common name of basil, including basil thyme (Acinos arvensis) and wild basil (Clinopodium vulgare).  Physically, basils are characterized by square, branching stems, opposite leaves, brown or black seeds (also called nutlets) and flower spikes, but flower color and the size, shape, and texture of the leaves vary by species.  Leaf textures range from smooth and shiny to curled and hairy, and flowers are white to lavender/purple.  Leaf color can also vary, from green to blue/purple, and plants can grow to from 1 to 10 feet in height, depending on the species.  Most people are familiar with sweet basil, the common culinary basil, but the world of basils offers a wide array of plants with a great diversity of flavors, scents, and uses.  Some of the more popular basils include sweet, specialty fragrant (cinnamon, lemon and Thai/anise), purple-leaved, bush, and miniature or dwarf.   Basil has a long and interesting history steeped in legend.  Probably originating in Asia and Africa (73), it is thought to have been brought to ancient Greece by Alexander the Great (356-323 B.C.E.), to have made its way to England from India in the mid 1500s and arrived in the U.S in the early 1600s.   Basil’s folklore is as complex as its flavor and aromas.  In terms of its legend and symbolism, basil has been both loved and feared.  Its associations include such polar opposites as love and hate, danger and protection, and life and death.  The generic name, Ocimum, derives from the ancient Greek word, okimon, meaning smell which suggests the impressive nature of basil’s fragrance.  The specific epithet, basilicum, is Latin for basilikon, which means kingly/royal in Greek.  Find references in literature and art at 

Bee balm, (also known as Bergamot, Oswego tea, and Scarlet monarda) is a member of the mint family that comes in shades of scarlet, white, pink, purple and blue.  The flowers attract bees, hummingbirds and beneficial insects.  The Oswego indians introduced this native New York herb to the colonists.   Find planting and maintenance tiips at  

The common linnet (Linaria cannabina) is a small passerine bird of the finch family, Fringillidae.  It derives its scientific name from its fondness for hemp and its English name from its liking for seeds of flax, from which linen is made.  The bird was a popular pet in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. Tennyson mentions "the linnet born within the cage" in part 27 of the poem In Memoriam A.H.H, the same section that contains the famous lines "'Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all."  A "cock linnet" features in the classic British music hall song of that period My Old Man, and as a character in Oscar Wilde's children's story The Devoted Friend.  Wilde also mentions how the call of the linnet awakens The Selfish Giant to the one tree where it is springtime in his garden.  William Butler Yeats evokes the image of the common linnet in The Lake Isle of Innisfree (1890) in line 8:  "And evening full of the linnet's wings."  In the novel The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens, the heroine Nell keeps "only a poor linnet" in a cage, which she leaves for Kit as a sign of her gratefulness to him.  William Blake invokes "the linnet's song" in one of the poems entitled "Song" in his "Poetical Sketches."  The Eurovision Song Contest 2014 entry for the Netherlands The Common Linnets is a direct reference to the bird.  William Wordsworth argued that the song of the common linnet provides more wisdom than books in the third verse of The Tables Turned:  "Books! 'tis a dull and endless strife:  Come, hear the woodland linnet, How sweet his music! on my life, There's more of wisdom in it."  But the fellow English poet Robert Bridges used the common linnet instead to express the limitations of poetry - concentrating on the difficulty in poetry of conveying the beauty of a bird's song.  He wrote in the first verse:  "I heard a linnet courting His lady in the spring . . .  The musical Sweeney Todd features the song "Green Finch and Linnet Bird," in which a young lady confined to her room wonders why caged birds sing. 

The glorious Lamp of Heaven, the Sun, The higher he’s a getting;
The sooner will his Race be run, And neerer he’s to Setting. 
The "Sun" is personified here.  Personification gives human characteristics to non-human things and is a form of figurative language, or is also referred to as a figure of speech.  The Sun is described as running "his Race," referring to the sun's passage through the sky throughout the daylight hours.  A person runs; the sun cannot.  "Lamp of Heaven, the Sun" is a metaphor comparing two dissimilar things that share the same characteristics.  

"Drink to me only with thine eyes" comes from the poem Song to Celia II by British poet, playwright and critic Ben Johnson (1572-1637).  Read Song to Celia I at

Response to article on The 100 Best Poems of All Time  
"Also good:  Best-Loved Poems of the American People and A Treasury of the Familiar."  Thank you, Muse reader!

In astronomy, blue moon is defined as either the third full moon of a  season with four full moons--or the second full moon in a calendar month.  The latter use was popularized due to a miscalculation published in a 1946 article in Sky and Telescope magazine.  Such blue moons occur rather frequently--at least once every two or three years.  Blue-colored moons do rarely occur when dust or smoke particles in the air are of a specific size.  Such particles help create a blue-colored moon by scattering blue light.  Red moon, which can be caused by other sizes of dust particles or lunar eclipses, are much more common than blue moons.  
A blue moon occurs July 31, 2015 at 10:43 am UTC.  

"With books as friends, the fun never ends"  "You belong at your library"  "Reading is mind-bending"  "Reading is always in season"  
Quotes from American Library Association posters  Issue 1331  July 31, 2015  On this date in 1498, on his third voyage to the Western Hemisphere, Christopher Columbus became the first European to discover the island of Trinidad.  On this date in 1790, the first U.S. patent was issued, to inventor Samuel Hopkins for a potash process.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Taste of the South:  Cheese Grits  The combination of tangy sharp Cheddar and mild Monterey Jack creates a perfect balance of creaminess and flavor.  Link to recipes for Two-Cheese Grits, Shrimp and Grits, and Cheddar Cheese Grits Casserole at

The metropole, from the Greek metropolis for 'mother city' is the British metropolitan centre of the British Empire, the United Kingdom itself.  It is sometimes extended even further, in the sense of London being considered the metropole of the British Empire, insofar as its politicians and businessmen determined the economic, diplomatic, and military character of the rest of the Empire.  By contrast, the periphery was the rest of the Empire, outside the United Kingdom itself. 

Metropol may refer to:  Metropolitan police, Hotel Metropol, various hotels, Neues Schauspielhaus, a theatre and concert hall destroyed in World War II, whose facade survived and was renamed Metropol, Metropol TV, a Norwegian television channel, Metropol (album), 1998 debut album by UK big beat group Lunatic Calm, Metropol, a font designed by Aldo Novarese (1967) Metropol Verlag, a German publishing house, Metropol Parasol, a building in Seville, Spain, Minto Metropole, a building in Ottawa, Canada

Change is inevitable.  Change for the better is a full time job.”   “All progress has resulted from people who took unpopular positions.”  “I offer my opponents a bargain:  if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them”  Adlai E. Stevenson II (1900-1965)  American lawyer, politician

When musicians first started varying their renditions of The Star Spangled Banner, there was an uproar.  Today, there is a whole new audience and a sense of anticipation as you wonder what to expect from a performance of our national anthem.  Once called unsingable, the piece has reached an unexpected popularity.  I am teaching music to a class of children this summer and, to my surprise, they sing The Star Spangled Banner easily and request it.

Electrolyte is a "medical/scientific" term for salts, specifically ions.  Electrolytes are important because they are what your cells (especially nerve, heart, muscle) use to maintain voltages across their cell membranes and to carry electrical impulses (nerve impulses, muscle contractions) across themselves and to other cells.  Your kidneys work to keep the electrolyte concentrations in your blood constant despite changes in your body.  Find list of major electrolytes in the human body at

In the world of auto repair, most of us have been privileged to know someone who was able to fix our cars on their driveway.  These shade tree mechanics would take on auto repair jobs as simple as changing motor oil, or as complex as replacing an entire engine.  Cars were easy to work on a couple decades ago.  Times have changed however, and so have our cars and trucks.  Gone are the days when you could slide under a vehicle with two wrenches and then slide back out ten minutes later with a starter motor in you hands.  Today's motor vehicles are carefully engineered puzzles of sensors, relays, circuits, and space age connectors which demand tools and knowledge not always readily available to Joe average.  People I know, who still have the inclination to work on vehicles at home, tell me horror stories about basic engine repairs which are nearly impossible to reach, and tools which they've never before even heard of.  Gary E. Sattler

For 40 years, until shortly before his death in 1996, Willis Conover’s shortwave broadcasts on the Voice of America constituted one of his country’s most effective instruments of cultural diplomacy.  He interviewed virtually every prominent jazz figure of the second half of the 20th century.  His use of the VOA’s “special English”—simple vocabulary and structures spoken at a slow tempo—made him, in effect, a teacher of the language to his listeners.  The Voice of America broadcast most of the early N ewport Jazz Festivals, with Conover as master of ceremonies for many of the concerts. That increased his fame abroad and also made him known to festival audiences who, because of the Smith-Mundt Act, couldn’t listen to his broadcasts.  He produced concerts at other festivals, notably the 1969 New Orleans Jazz Festival, remembered as one of the greatest of all such events.  Its Stars included Count Basie, Sarah Vaughan, Dizzy Gillespie, Gerry Mulligan, Paul Desmond, Eubie Blake and a host of Crescent City luminaries headed by Pete Fountain.  Conover’s VOA theme music was Duke Ellington’s “Take The ‘A’ Train.”  Early in the first term of President Richard Nixon, he suggested that the president give Ellington a 70th birthday party at the White House.  In April 1969, Conover assembled an all-star band that included Clark Terry, Paul Desmond and Gerry Mulligan, with guest pianists Dave Brubeck, Earl Hines, Billy Taylor and Willie “The Lion” Smith.  The all-stars serenaded Ellington with new arrangements of his music.  Mr. Nixon played the piano and led the guests in singing “Happy Birthday.”  Then he awarded Ellington the Presidential Medal of Freedom.  In the New Yorker, Whitney Balliett wrote that Ellington “was finally given his due by his country.”  Doug Ramsey  Read about and explore the Willis Conover Collection, University of North Texas at  Link to the original text of the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948, commonly known as the Smith-Mundt Act, as enacted January 27, 1948 at  See also that a longstanding federal law making it illegal for the US Department of State to share domestically the internally-authored news stories sent to American-operated outlets broadcasting around the globe was changed effective July 2, 2013 when the Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG) was given permission to let US households tune-in to hear the type of programming that has previously only been allowed in outside nations.

The words “today,” “tonight,” and “tomorrow” include the implied preposition “to.”  In fact, they were once written as “to day,” “to night,” and “to morrow.”  Later, hyphens were added (as in Macbeth’s “sound and fury” soliloquy), then the hyphens fell away and the words were joined.  Patricia T. O'Conner and Stewart Kellerman 

While browsing among used books, I picked up a copy of The 100 Best Poems of All Time edited by Leslie Pockell.  The book contains The Raven and Casey at the Bat which convinced me to buy it.  Poems range in roughly chronological order from Homer (b. 850 BCE?) to Maya Angelou (b. 1928)

Mox nix! – From the German phrase, "Es macht nichts!"  Often used by U.S. servicemen to mean "It doesn't matter" or "It's not important".  Issue 1330  July 30, 2015   On this date in 1956, two years after pushing to have the phrase “under God” inserted into the pledge of allegiance, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a law officially declaring “In God We Trust” to be the nation’s official motto.  The law, P.L. 84-140, also mandated that the phrase be printed on all American paper currency.  On this date in  1965, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare, a health insurance program for elderly Americans, into law.  Former President Harry S. Truman was enrolled as Medicare’s first beneficiary and received the first Medicare card.  Johnson wanted to recognize Truman, who, in 1945, had become the first president to propose national health insurance, an initiative that was opposed at the time by Congress.  The Medicare program, providing hospital and medical insurance for Americans age 65 or older, was signed into law as an amendment to the Social Security Act of 1935. Some 19 million people enrolled in Medicare when it went into effect in 1966.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Clarice Lispector (1920-1977) was not a pseudonym.  Tall, bewitching, with green, almond-shaped eyes and a guttural voice, she was one of the symbols of modern Brazil, along with Pelé, the musician Caetano Veloso, the architect Oscar Niemeyer and Copacabana.  She lived on her own in Leme, a quiet enclave bordered with flame trees, a writer more gossiped about than read, with a reputation as an eccentric genius--known as “the great witch of Brazilian literature”.  I was a boy living on the next beach when, in June 1968, Lispector marched with other leading intellectuals against the dictatorship.  But although I grew up to be a sucker for Latin American literature, I never came across her books, largely because, in the words of one of her editors, “publishers avoided her like the plague”.  Even her closest friend admitted:  “Nobody sought out Clarice.  There was little discussion of her work.  In Brazil today, Lispector’s Egyptian-cat face is on postage stamps and adverts for luxury condos, and her books are sold on the underground.  Now rediscovered, she is routinely touted as a female Kafka, as the most important woman writing in Portuguese in the 20th century, as someone who looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf, and so on.  Penguin Classics have caught the Lispector bug, issuing five of her novels--with puffs from writers such as Colm Tóibín, Jonathan Franzen and Orhan Pamuk--and a worshipful but fascinating biography by her most indefatigable champion Benjamin Moser.  Nicholas Shakespeare

LeBron James is forming a production partnership with Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. Entertainment that spans movies, television and digital content.  The deal pairs the world’s No. 1 basketball star with the largest television and movie studio, based in Burbank, Calif.  For Mr. James, the agreement will provide him with a home to build on his entertainment aspirations and the backing of a media giant with global reach.  Joe Flint  

Campbell Soup Co. said cost cuts are yielding better profits and that it plans to remove artificial ingredients from products and to come out with more organic foods, as it contends with what it called a seismic shift in what Americans eat.  The maker of soups, Pepperidge Farm snacks and V8 juices on July 22, 2015 said the food industry is being revolutionized by changing demographics and a widespread shift in what people want to eat.  It said it plans to eliminate artificial colors and flavors in nearly all its North American food by August 2018 as part of an effort to regain the trust of skeptical consumers.  Annie Gasparro

While staring at a painting by artist Titus Kaphar at the Yale Art Gallery, a man named Benjamin Vesper experienced a psychotic break and attacked one of the figures in the painting.  Vesper was arrested and subsequently admitted to the Connecticut Valley Hospital where his full identity and background remained a mystery.  During the course of his sessions with a psychologist, Vesper began to reveal details about himself and his family’s troubled history.  Vesper remained secretive about the letters and documents he wrote to Kaphar.  In 2008, Vesper wandered off the hospital grounds, and was found squatting in a 19th century house that he insisted belonged to his family.  In fact, the original Vesper home had burned down in the early 1900s.  It seems Mr. Vesper needed such a space to return to, in order to engage with his own memory.  It was this event that inspired “The Vesper Project” installation.  This exhibition includes art works inspired by the patient’s frequent correspondence with Kaphar.  
Read more and see many pictures at  NOTE that The Vesper Project by Titus Kaphar is on display at the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati May 15 through October 11, 2015.

Titus Kaphar was born in 1976 in Kalamazoo, Michigan.  He currently lives and works between New York and Connecticut, USA.  His artworks interact with the history of art by approriating its styles and mediums.  Kaphar cuts, bends, sculpts and mixes the work of Classic and Renaissance painters, creating formal games and new tales between fiction and quotation.

Agincourt was a battle fought in northern France in 1415, between the French and the English under King Henry V.  Though there were many more French soldiers, the English won and were then in a strong position to take much of France.  Agincourt is especially remembered because it forms an important part of Shakespeare's play Henry VLink to pronunciation of Agincourt at

I recently had beluga lentils with salmon at Metropole Restaurant in Cincinnati.  Find a description of many varieties of lentils including beluga at  

Metropole is in 21C Museum Hotel which also is holding a co-curated exhibition in its lobby of art by Albano Afonso with more Afonso art on the 4th floor galleries of the Contemporary Arts Center.  See and

Chicago’s worst disaster to date was the capsizing of the SS Eastland on July 24, 1915.   People drowned just a few feet from the loading ramp or below decks when the heavily-overloaded pleasure boat spilled to one side.  The Eastland was built in 1903 for the Michigan Steamship Company and was officially launched on May 6th.   The total death toll was 844 people.  Eight hundred and forty-one were passengers, two were from the crew, and one was a crew member of the Petoskey who died in the rescue effort.  Although the Titanic, which sank three years before in 1912, had a higher total death toll of 1,523, the Titanic actually had a lower death toll of passengers than the Eastland as crew deaths from the Titanic totaled 694.  Salvaging the Eastland was not an easy task.  While raising the ship, difficulties were encountered in getting it to float as so much water needed to be pumped out of the hull.  The ship was finally refloated on August 14th.  The Eastland was acquired by the Illinois Naval Reserve four years later, after several modifications which enabled the ship to serve safely as a training vessel.  The ship, re-named the USS Wilmette, served for several years until it was decommissioned in 1945.  The ship was then sold for scrap, and by early 1947, the ship was completely disassembled for parts and metal. 

SS means Steam Ship.  Find a list of the main ship prefixes used for naval and merchant vessels at 

The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the 1930s.  The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations; however, in most countries it started in 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s.   It was the longest, deepest, and most widespread depression of the 20th century.  Worldwide GDP fell by 15% from 1929 to 1932.  The depression originated in the United States, after the fall in stock prices that began around September 4, 1929, and became worldwide news with the stock market crash of October 29, 1929 (known as Black Tuesday).  The Great Depression had devastating effects in countries rich and poor.  Personal income, tax revenue, profits and prices dropped, while international trade plunged by more than 50%.  Unemployment in the U.S. rose to 25%, and in some countries rose as high as 33%.  Some economies started to recover by the mid-1930s.  In many countries, the negative effects of the Great Depression lasted until the beginning of World War IIThe Great Depression has been the subject of much writing, as authors have sought to evaluate an era that caused financial as well as emotional trauma.  Perhaps the most noteworthy and famous novel written on the subject is The Grapes of Wrath, published in 1939 and written by John Steinbeck, who was awarded both the Nobel Prize for literature and the Pulitzer Prize for the work.  The novel focuses on a poor family of sharecroppers who are forced from their home as drought, economic hardship, and changes in the agricultural industry occur during the Great Depression.  Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is another important novella about a journey during the Great Depression.  Additionally, Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is set during the Great Depression.  Margaret Atwood's Booker prize-winning The Blind Assassin is likewise set in the Great Depression, centering on a privileged socialite's love affair with a Marxist revolutionary.  The era spurred the resurgence of social realism, practiced by many who started their writing careers on relief programs, especially the Federal Writers' Project in the U.S.  Read much more and see graphics including the well-known "Migrant Mother" at  Issue 1329  July 29, 2015   On this date in 1932, troops dispersed the last of the "Bonus Army" of World War I veterans in Washington. DC.  On this date in 1948, after a hiatus of 12 years caused by World War II, the first Summer Olympics to be held since the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, opened in London.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

He was the number-one newsmaker of 1938.  He was described as:  so relaxed, a big dog, a bird that could sing but wouldn't,  too quiet, and a runty little thing with stubby legs that didn't quite straighten all the way.  His appearances smashed attendance records at nearly every major track.  He was Seabiscuit (1933-1947) a racehorse from the mare Swing On and sired by Hard Tack, a son of Man o' War.  Seabiscuit was named for his father, as hardtack or "sea biscuit" is the name for a type of cracker eaten by sailors.             and Seabiscuit, an American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand

Seabiscuit:  Book vs. Films by "Emily"   One of my favorite movies for several reasons is Seabiscuit.  Being a horse fan, I of course had read the Book Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand.  The historically accurate bestseller was absolutely fantastic, and one of the best books I have ever read. The film I have to say is also extremely well done and one of my favorite movies.  In the book, the author did countless hours of research in order to piece together the story of this horse and the people whose lives he changed.  I found that the book focused a great deal more on each individual character and what life was like in those days.  For instance, the book delved into the life of a jockey back then and what the living and working conditions were like.  The book also continued to follow the life of "Red" Pollard after his involvement with Seabiscuit.  It describes his life, his marriage and how his life was changed by a debilitating riding accident.  The movie, The Legend of Seabiscuit, 2003, centered more on the horse and how he affected the people directly involved with him and the public as a whole that he inspired. 

The Story of Seabiscuit is a 1949 American drama film directed by David Butler and starring Shirley Temple.  The screenplay was written by John Taintor Foote.  The film is a fictionalized account of the career of the racehorse Seabiscuit (1933–1947) with a subplot involving the romance between the niece (Temple) of a horse trainer (Barry Fitzgerald) and a jockey (Lon McCallister).  The role of Seabiscuit was played by one of his sons, Sea Sovereign.

Rare earth elements (REEs) are a group of seventeen chemical elements that occur together in the periodic table.  The group consists of yttrium and the 15 lanthanide elements (lanthanum, cerium, praseodymium, neodymium, promethium, samarium, europium, gadolinium, terbium, dysprosium, holmium, erbium, thulium, ytterbium, and lutetium).  Scandium is found in most rare earth element deposits and is sometimes classified as a rare earth element.  The International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry includes scandium in their rare earth element definition.  The rare earth elements are all metals, and the group is often referred to as the "rare earth metals."  These metals have many similar properties and that often causes them to be found together in geologic deposits.  They are also referred to as "rare earth oxides" because many of them are typically sold as oxide compounds.  
Read much more and see graphics at

Rare earths were discovered beginning in the late 18th century as oxidized minerals—hence "earths."  They're actually metals, and they aren't really rare; they're just scattered.  The list of things that contain rare earths is almost endless.  Magnets made with them are much more powerful than conventional magnets and weigh less; that's one reason so many electronic devices have gotten so small.  Rare earths are also essential to a host of green machines, including hybrid cars and wind turbines.  The battery in a single Toyota Prius contains more than 20 pounds of the rare earth element lanthanum; the magnet in a large wind turbine may contain 500 pounds or more of neodymium.  The U.S. military needs rare earths for night-vision goggles, cruise missiles, and other weapons.  China, which supplies 97 percent of the world's rare earth needs, rattled global markets in the fall of 2010 when it cut off shipments to Japan for a month during a diplomatic dispute.  Over the next decade China is expected to steadily reduce rare earth exports in order to protect the supplies of its own rapidly growing industries, which already consume about 60 percent of the rare earths produced in the country.  Tim Folger

Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913?), later nicknamed "Bitter Bierce" and the "Old Gringo", was a journalist and editorialist from Meigs County, Ohio, whose deeply cynical opinions on the world and the people living in it led him to create his now-famous (though not nearly famous enough) series of short stories and other fiction pieces, most notably An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.  Bitter Bierce never gave anyone a reason to wonder about his nickname:  he was aggressive and fond of war (though also an anti-imperialist), fascinated by death, very cynical about love and religion, and perplexed by women.  His works are notable for their dark, troubled, and haunting tone and subject matter.  Later in his life, when the Mexican Revolution was raging down south, Ambrose Bierce decided to leave the United States and contribute to the war effort in Mexico, hoping to meet up with and fight alongside Pancho Villa.  After a couple of months (during which time he did indeed meet up with Pancho Villa), his letters to his friends in the States abruptly ceased.  He was never heard from again.  The book (and The Film of the Book) Old Gringo speculates on what might have happened to him after his famous disappearance, but no one knows what happened for sure.  H. P. Lovecraft enthusiasts should be familiar with An Inhabitant of Carcosa, his contribution to the Cthulhu Mythos.  
Link to descriptions of The Devil's Dictionary by Ambrose Bierce and others of his works at

When anglicized, the particles in German names are ordinarily (but not always) lowercase:  Klaus von Bülow.  The most common particle in Dutch and Flemish surnames is the preposition van, sometimes coupled with an article:  van der, van de.  Other common particles are ten and ter.  Celtic names are often preceded by à, ab, ap, Fitz, M', Mac, Mc, or O, all of which express descent.  A prefix may be attached to a surname:  Debussy, Lafarge, vandergriff.  Find also information on Arabic and Romance language names in Garner's Modern American Usage, 3d ed., 2009.   Check on libraries for this book (put your zip code or city in the search box "enter your location")

"The glue that holds society together"  There are many claims to be that glue:  music, volunteerism, civility, collective action, communities, mentoring, schools, marriage, social cohesion, synchrony, even gossip.  See  and and

July 20, 2015  In less than a week, more than 1.1 million digital and physical copies of Harper Lee’s new novel, “Go Set a Watchman,” have been sold in North America, HarperCollins Publishers said.  The book went on sale July 14, and the sales figures reflect all preorders and all formats, including the audiobook edition.  HarperCollins, which initially printed a tad more than two million hardcover editions, said “Watchman” is now the fastest-selling book in its history.  The publisher said “Watchman” has been reprinted multiple times, and that there are now more than 3.3 million copies in print, an impressive number at a time when many novels are being read digitally.  “First week sales of ‘Go Set a Watchman’ have far exceeded our expectations,” Brian Murray, chief executive of HarperCollins Publishers, said in a statement.  Mr. Murray earlier said that the hardcover print edition of “Watchman” is outselling the digital edition by a factor of 2-to-1, a sales pattern he said was the opposite of many fiction works.  Ms. Lee’s new novel originally was submitted for publication in 1957 but rejected by her editor at the time, who instead asked her to rewrite the novel from the point of view of a young girl.  The book Ms. Lee then resubmitted, “To Kill a Mockingbird,” won a Pulitzer Prize and has gone on to sell more than 40 million copies globally, according to HarperCollins.  Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg   

As a prune is a dried plum, how can you get prune juice from it? R.S., Columbus, Ga.   First, the prunes are rehydrated.  Then they are “juiced” so that the drink contains about 20 percent prune solids.  Lemon or lime juice, citric acid and honey are usually added for a tastier beverage.  Ascorbic acid (vitamin C) may be another ingredient.  By the way, plum growers have won permission from the Food and Drug Administration to call prunes “dried plums” instead.  

Bucky Katt quote  "I may employ alternate titles for some common nouns, but the thrust of the narrative is factish."  Get Fuzzy comic strip  July 26, 2015

Ted Cruz believes Captain Kirk was Republican; William Shatner responds:  Star Trek wasn't political.  I'm not political; I can't even vote in the US.  So to put a geocentric label on interstellar characters is silly  Issue 1328  July 26, 2015  On this date in 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981 desegregating the military of the United States.  On this date in 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Alphabet City is a neighborhood located within the East Village in the New York City borough of Manhattan.  Its name comes from Avenues A, B, C, and D, the only avenues in Manhattan to have single-letter names.  It is bordered by Houston Street to the south and by 14th Street to the north, along the traditional northern border of the East Village and south of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village.  The neighborhood has a long history, serving as a cultural center and ethnic enclave for Manhattan's German, Polish, Hispanic, and Jewish populations.  However, there is much dispute over the borders of the Lower East Side, Alphabet City, and East Village.  Historically, Manhattan's Lower East Side was 14th Street at the northern end, bound on the east by East River and on the west by First Avenue; today, that same area is Alphabet City.,_Manhattan  

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
bespoke   (bi-SPOHK)  adjective   1.  Custom-made.  2.  Relating to custom-made products.  Shortening of bespoken, past participle of bespeak (to speak for, to arrange), from Old English besprecan (to speak about).  Earliest documented use:  1755.
Feedback to A.Word.A.Day from Evan Hazard
Subject:  bespoke  Ursula LeGuin uses ‘bespoke’ to mean communicated with another person using telepathy.  Apparently a person who knows how can teach another person.  In her Hainish novels, normal people cannot lie telepathically, but some nasties called the Shing were able to, and dominated the ‘known worlds’ for a time.  I’ve forgotten how they were eventually defeated.  One of the best living writers.

be-  prefix  1. (from nouns) to surround completely; cover on all sides:  befog;  (from nouns) to affect completely or excessively:  bedazzle;  3.  (from nouns) to consider as or cause to be:  befool, befriend  4.  (from nouns) to provide or cover with:  bejewel;  5.  (from verbs) at, for, against, on, or over:  bewail, berate  Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Focaccia is a flat oven-baked Italian bread product similar in style and texture to pizza doughs.  It may be topped with herbs or other ingredients.  Focaccia is popular in Italy and is usually seasoned with olive oil, salt, sometimes herbs, and may at times be topped with onion, cheese and meat.  It might also be flavored with a number of vegetables.  Focaccia can be used as a side to many meals, as a base for pizza, or as sandwich bread.  The common-known focaccia is salt focaccia.  It is typically rolled out or pressed by hand into a thick layer of dough and then baked in a stone-bottom or hearth oven.  Bakers often puncture the bread with a knife to relieve bubbling on the surface of the bread.  Also common is the practice of dotting the bread.  This creates multiple wells in the bread by using a finger or the handle of a utensil to poke the unbaked dough.  As a way to preserve moisture in the bread, olive oil is then spread over the dough, by hand or with a pastry brush prior to rising and baking.  In Ancient Rome, panis focacius was a flat bread baked on the hearth.  The word is derived from the Latin focus meaning "hearth, place for baking.  

Olmsted–Designed New York City Parks   Although Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903) is considered one of America's pioneer landscape architects, he came to the profession only after experimenting and dabbling in many different fields.  A newspaperman, social commentator and sometime farmer, Olmsted had many interests early in life.  In landscape architecture, he combined his interest in rural life with a sense of democratic idealism to create a new kind of civil engineering that synthesized function and beauty.  The era in which Olmsted grew up was transformative for the country–urbanism and industrialism increasing steadily through the middle part of the 19th century.  Although it may seem obvious, Parks developed only when open space diminished.  Olmsted himself straddled the territory between a rural and urban existence.  Although he was born in Hartford, Connecticut and attended Yale (before dropping out due to an eye ailment), he spent considerable time in his early adult life on Staten Island when his family purchased a farm for him in 1848.  (The site, at 4515 Hylan Boulevard, was acquired by Parks in 2006 and will become Olmsted–Beil House Park.)  When his farming experiment failed, Olmsted began traveling in Europe and the American South.  English architect Calvert Vaux (1824–1895) spent 40 years of his distinguished career in New York City, designing private homes, public institutions such as the American Museum of Natural History and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and many parks in the city's parks system.  Vaux came to the United States after being recruited by Andrew Jackson Downing (1815–1852) to join his landscaping business based in Newburgh, New York.  Downing, one of the main proponents of Central Park, introduced Vaux to Olmsted after Olmsted wrote a piece in Downing's Horticulturalist journal.  When Downing died on the steamboat Henry Clay on July 28, 1852, Vaux took over Downing's landscaping company until 1856 when he moved to New York City and began working on the design for Central Park.  Through a series of fortunate coincidences, Olmsted acquired the position of Superintendent of Construction of Central Park in 1857.  Vaux and Olmsted worked together on the eventual design for the park, now known as the Greensward Plan, beginning the partnership that generated the designs for Central Park and Morningside Park in Manhattan, and Prospect Park and Fort Greene Park in Brooklyn, among others.  Olmsted's legacy can be seen across the country.  The Buffalo, New York park system, the US Capitol grounds in Washington, DC, the 1893 Columbian Exposition grounds in Chicago, and Mont Royal Park in Montreal, Canada are just a few of Olmsted's major works.  Read much more and see pictures at  See SECRETS OF CENTRAL PARK (Manhattan’s 843-acre oasis) at

Quotes from the novel Dust by Patricia Cornwell  "Let's see, rumors and misinformation posted as news feeds.”  "Hate makes you stupid."

To “B” or Not to “B” by Maeve Maddox   English words ending in the spelling mb occasionally give English learners difficulty.  The error arises in trying to pronounce the final b.  Think of four or five words with a silent B at the end--then see a list at  See also

10 of the world's most stunning bookstores from CBC Books  See remarkable pictures of bookstores around the world at

June 22, 2015  How India Changed the English Language by Rahul Verma   They are in there, often unnoticed.  The words that have become part of everyday English.  Loot, nirvana, pyjamas, shampoo and shawl; bungalow, jungle, pundit and thug.  What are the roots, and routes, of these Indian words?  How and when did they travel and what do their journeys into British vernacular--and then the Oxford English Dictionary--tell us about the relationship between Britain and India?  Long before the British Raj--before the East India Company acquired its first territory in the Indian subcontinent in 1615--South Asian words from languages such as Hindi, Urdu, Malayalam and Tamil had crept onto foreign tongues.  One landmark book records the etymology of colloquial Anglo-Indian words and phrases.  Compiled by two India enthusiasts, Henry Yule and Arthur C Burnell, Hobson-Jobson: The Definitive Glossary of British India was published in 1886.  The poet Daljit Nagra described it as “not so much an orderly dictionary as a passionate memoir of colonial India.  Rather like an eccentric Englishman in glossary form.”  The editor of its contemporary edition--which has just been published in paperback--explains how many of the words pre-date British rule.  “Ginger, pepper and indigo entered English via ancient routes:  they reflect the early Greek and Roman trade with India and come through Greek and Latin into English,” says Kate Teltscher.  “Ginger comes from Malayalam in Kerala, travels through Greek and Latin into Old French and Old English, and then the word and plant become a global commodity.  In the 15th Century, it’s introduced into the Caribbean and Africa and it grows, so the word, the plant and the spice spread across the world.”  As global trade expanded through European conquests of the East Indies, the flow of Indian words into English gathered momentum.  Many came via Portuguese.  “The Portuguese conquest of Goa dates back to the 16th Century, and mango, and curry, both come to us via Portuguese--mango began as ‘mangai’ in Malayalam and Tamil, entered Portuguese as ‘manga’ and then English with an ‘o’ ending,” she says.  Read more at

BIG CHEESE  On July 9, the 2015 cheese made in a Kiel, Wisconsin factory began its journey from roughly 50,000 pounds of locally sourced milk to the behemoth wheel, which will roll into Toledo, Ohio in time for the holidays--to be sliced on November 14.  This year’s cheese, weighing in at 4,600 pounds, is larger than last year’s because of the “overwhelming demand” the first time around, said John Hoover, marketing and business development director for The Andersons.  Toledoans bought up last year’s 3,200-pound mammoth in two days.  In Kiel, the low thrum of machinery serenades as Henning’s employees, clad in knee-high rubber boots and hair nets, do things the old-fashioned way.  That includes the cheddaring process, where curds are cut into loaves, repeatedly flipped and stacked to use the cheese’s own weight to push out any excess whey.  The curds are then poured, bucket-by-bucket, into the cylindrical frame.  The casing is made of poplar and basswood, woods with very little sap or odor, which could taint the flavor.  Over the course of the first night, pressure was put on the cheese to further expel residual whey, compressing the cheese from the 78-inch height of the box to the 67 inches customers will see in November.  The cheese will then be cooled, dried, and cased in wax.  Lauren Lindstrom  Issue 1327  July 19, 2015  On this date in 1848, a two-day Women's Rights Convention opened in Seneca Falls, New York.  On this date in 1900, the first line of the Paris Métro opened for operation.