A Fugacious And Even Nidifugous MacGuffin

1st remote 1955

A Fugacious And Even Nidifugous MacGuffin

roberta

A fugue is a flight.  She is fugacious.

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Nidifugous is fleeing the nest. Caravaggio (Michelangelo Merisi) spent much of his life on the run from one thing or another.

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A MacGuffin is a plot device in the form of some goal, desired object, or other motivator that the protagonist pursues, often with little or no explanation as to why it is considered so important. The specific nature of a MacGuffin is typically unimportant to the overall plot.

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The most common type of MacGuffin is an object, place or person. However, a MacGuffin can sometimes take a more abstract form, such as money, victory, glory, survival, power, love, or even something that is entirely unexplained, as long as it strongly motivates key characters within the structure of the plot.

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It might be a Scottish name, taken from a story about two men in a train. One man says “What’s that package up there in the baggage rack?”, and the other answers, “Oh, that’s a MacGuffin”. The first one asks “What’s a MacGuffin?” “Well”, the other man says, “It’s an apparatus for trapping lions in the Scottish Highlands”. The first man says, “But there are no lions in the Scottish Highlands”, and the other one answers, “Well, then that’s no MacGuffin!” So you see, a MacGuffin is nothing at all.        Alfred Hitchcock.

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Usually the MacGuffin is the central focus of the film in the first act, and then declines in importance as the struggles and motivations of characters play out.

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The MacGuffin may come back into play at the climax of the story, but sometimes the MacGuffin is actually forgotten by the end.

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World War I actor Pearl White used the term weenie to identify whatever physical object (a roll of film, a rare coin, expensive diamonds) impelled the heroes and villains to pursue each other through the convoluted plots of The Perils of Pauline and the other silent film serials in which she starred.

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According to author Ken Mogg, screenwriter Angus McPhail a friend of Hitchcock, may have originally coined the term MacGuffin.

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Some dictionary definitions are vague and generalized.

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For example, Princeton’s WordNet defines a MacGuffin as simply “a plot element that catches the viewers’ attention or drives the plot of a work of fiction”, which could refer to nearly anything at all in a story, given that audience-member attention occurs at the individual level and is not reliably predictable.

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Steven Spielberg said, “I sympathize with people who didn’t like the MacGuffin (the crystal skull) in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull because I never liked the MacGuffin.”

viola

The Greeks in Socrates’ time wrote in capital letters only and used no diacritical marks, which were introduced by an Alexandrian grammarian to guide non Greek speakers in a pronunciation which to us now must be largely a matter of conjecture.

Greek4

“God is love.”  This must be from John. It sounds like something John would say.

24 March 1933

trent gudman

We were forty miles from Albany, Forget it I never shall, What a terrible storm we had that night On the Erie Canal.

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If you need gas while driving on an interstate, look for exits with at least two gas stations. The competition will mean a lower price per gallon.

Athena

Perfect rubies are more valuable than perfect diamonds.

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Never go to bed mad.  Stay up and fight.

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Although pottery had been fashioned and fired for thousands of years, by the 1700s there were still no mass-produced, identical plates, bowls, cups and saucers.  One determined man, Josiah Wedgwood, born in 1730 into a family of potters from Staffordshire, England, would soon change that.

CPA-Nu9

Mamihlapinatapei:   A meaningful look, shared by two people, expressing mutual unstated feelings.  (Tierra del Fuegan language)

dog

The secret of success is finding the best person to do the best thing.

ann

What’s the highest altitude in New Orleans?   Not counting the levees?   Four feet.

Barb

Crows live 80 years.

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Whenever the literary German dives into a sentence, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of the Atlantic with his verb in his mouth.    Mark Twain.

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Sixty four per cent of women sleep on the left side of the bed.

apollo

How many Amish does it take to screw in a light bulb?  The Amish don’t have light bulbs.  They bake pies.

cazzo

The only post office doesn’t work.  There’s always that one on the bridge, but the elevator doesn’t work. Fuck!

espanyaturist

People talk about killing time, but it is time that kills them.

Bebe Buell

Tokyo has about a thousand earthquakes every year. Residents feel about fifty of them.

Du hattest doch schonmal so einen süßen !

Dos linages sólos hay en el mundo, como decía una abuela mía, que son el tenir y el no tenir.  There are only two families in the world, as a grandmother of mine used to say, the haves and the have nots.        Miguel de Cervantes (1547 – 1616)

colucci palagiano

My wife always lets me have her way.

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Ernest Hemingway proposed to Gertrude Stein.

content

You can’t step in the same river twice.  Enjoy it, savor it, it’s gone already.

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Bobbie

In 1986, the Pentagon’s phone bill was $ 8.7 million.

dieux

Rare redheads.   Maybe one in forty in the USA.

diggers

When negotiating for money, pay attention to when your opponent’s increments of change begin to decrease in size. That’s when s/he is close to a bargaining limit.

e4

The blue-ringed octopus of Australia:   one bite or squirt causes immediate paralysis and death in minutes.

arianna

The people who improve you the most will cost you the least.

early

Oondinnounk (Iroquois)  The soul’s innermost benevolent desires.

Carlo Riley

Museum means “temple of the muses.”

baiser

The Romans, impressed with the stork’s altruistic behavior,  enacted the Lex Ciconaria (Stork’s law) which compelled children to care for their aged parents.  We get the word “stork” from Greek storge which means strong, natural affection.

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Old King Cole was a merry old soul, And a merry old soul was he,  He called for his pipe and he called for his bowl, And he called for his fiddlers three.

elise julian

Some things have to be believed to be seen.

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Wisdom.

better call Saul

Donna Loren

Residents of Phoenix, Arizona, call themselves Phoenicians.

estrella

The universe was dictated, but not signed.

famiglia

John Wesley Hyatt did not actually develop Celluloid himself but acquired the British patent for it in 1868 from Alexander Parkes, a Birmingham, England, professor of natural science. Hyatt began manufacturing ersatz ivory billiard balls, but soon realized that Celluloid could be made into anything, collars, cuffs, shirtfronts, guitar picks, dental plates, toys and even photographic film.

farnetani

Katzenjammer (German) monumentally severe hangover.

fave

It is better to deserve without receiving than to receive without deserving.

Fell

An ounce of don’t say it is worth a pound of didn’t mean it.

Felice

A baby learns to smile in the womb, but it has to wait until it’s been exposed to the real world for about six months before it can learn to pout.

fesses book

Teacher, “book” means livre?  Yes.  So, Facebook means “book of buttocks?”  Oh, no, “Face” is the visage. You can visit that site without risk, it’s not dangerous.  But, teacher, I saw a photo of your buttocks on the new year section of your Facebook page.  You should NEVER go to Facebook, it’s a dangerous site, you hear me?”

foxes

Foxbook:   The only thing sure about luck is that it will change.

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Aware (Japanese):   the feelings engendered by ephemeral beauty.

frack

six

New Year’s in Babylon:  a high priest, rising two hours before dawn, bathes in the sacred waters of the Euphrates. Then he offers a hymn to Marduk, god of agriculture. The rump of a beheaded ram is rubbed against the temple walls to absorb any contagion that might infest the sacred edifice and, by implication, the next year’s harvest. The ceremony is called kuppuru, a word that appears among the Hebrews at about the same time, in their Day of Atonement festival, Yom Kippur.

Jennifer Batten

Princeton, New Jersey, has the most residents per capita listed in Who’s Who.

vianello

It says here that office hours in Yugoslavia, a country that does not exist,  are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.   Those are my ideal working hours. Actually, 6 to 1 would be even better.

fin

This is Finnish, a language that I don’t know, but I can almost read all of this anyway.  Finnish belongs to a group of languages that includes Turkish and Japanese, oh, and did I mention Hungarian?  Or Korean?   One name for this family is Finno-Altaic.

Firenze

The major Finn in my life is Jorma Kaukonen. They like lots of ‘k’s and double letters in Finland.

gab

Your blood has to travel through your whole body to get from one side of your heart to the other.

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Saudade is a Portuguese and Galician word for a feeling of nostalgic longing for something or someone that one was fond of and which has been lost. It often carries a fatalist tone and a repressed knowledge that the object of longing might never really return. This word is very rich in meaning and it is, to say the truth, untranslatable.

occhio brasileiro

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Gabriella

If you said “sow dodge,” you would approximate the pronunciation of this word Saudade. A Brazilian would probably understand you, but, you know how it is with languages, each is a sovereignty unto herself.  It would be best to corner a native Portuguese or Brazilian and listen very carefully to how s/he says this word.

Karolyn staff

On the Cracker Jack box are a boy and a dog. The boy’s name is Jack. The dog’s name is Bingo.

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Sprichwörter

To buy a pig in a poke, a cat in a sack.   Strike while the iron is hot.  What I don’t know won’t make me angry. (It sounds way better in German. For one thing, it rhymes, and, even better, it has rhythm, it scans.)

ginger gonzaga

You can die at twenty-five, and not be buried until you’re seventy-five.

dave sam wendy

Solitude, soledad are close relatives of the word “saudade.”  There is a prison in the middle of California called Soledad.  They didn’t name the prison poetically, but merely called it after a place name near there.  Soledad is not a bad name for a prison at all.  All is loneliness here for me, loneliness here for me, loneliness.

groucho eve

If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have brushed my teeth.

hammond guthrie 1952

The only problem with getting old, is that it comes at a very inconvenient time.

MacKenzie Philips

That mouse in your house begins to have other mice when she’s a month old.

holly steve

Probably every single person who has ever lived, or whoever will live, supposes herself underappreciated and insufficiently loved.  I certainly feel that way at times, so I assume that everyone else does.

ilaria

As the blackbird in the spring  ’Neath the willow tree   Sat and piped, I heard him sing, singing Aura Lee.   Aura Lee, Aura Lee, Maid with golden hair,   Sunshine came along with thee,   And swallows in the air.

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Aura Lee has exactly the same melody as Love Me Tender.  Aura Lee was probably “in public domain” when Elvis’ tunesmiths decided to resurrect it.

sara

Never point an unloaded gun at anyone.

Ischia

Some names from P.G. Wodehouse:  Barmy Fotheringay-Phipps, Stilton Cheesewright, Pongo Twistleton-Twistleton, Gussie Fink-Nottle, Biscuit Biskerton, Stiffy Stiffham, Catsmeat Potter-Pirbright, Dogface Rainsby, Oofy Prosser, Freddie Fitch-Fitch.

Max Wasa

The word “giddy” comes from the Anglo-Saxon “gyddig” meaning possessed by the gods.

Michaela Patrick

I like flying Vatican Airlines.   The emergency instructions are in Latin.

jack-benny

The English name “Decalogue” for the Ten Commandments is derived from Greek δεκάλογος, dekalogos, the latter meaning and referring to the Greek translation (in the accusative) δέκα λόγους, deka logous, “ten words”, found in the Septuagint (or LXX) at Exodus 34:28 and Deuteronomy 10:4.

adriana

The best “waitresses” are good-natured and talkative, though somewhat sardonic. The best “waiters” are inclined to be serious and taciturn. Such was the consensus of a sizable gathering of restaurateurs in Geneva, but they couldn’t explain the reason for this difference.

tony bass

Conmoción (Spanish)  Emotion held in common by a group or gathering.

repub

Anyone seen a donkey around here?

May Pang

It’s not an insect if it doesn’t live inside a hard skeleton.

music connect

Snuffing a candle required great dexterity and judgment. Scottish lawyer and incomparable biographer James Boswell had many occasions to snuff tallow candles, not all successfully. He wrote in 1793:  ”I determined to sit up all night, which I accordingly did, and wrote a great deal. About two o’clock in the morning I inadvertently snuffed out my candle… and could not get it re-lumed.”

jackie-gleason

How should they answer?  (Abigail van Buren in reply to the question “Why do Jews always answer a question with a question?”)

sena

There should be no laws:   she who more than unconsciously obeys laws is a scoundrel and a scapegrace.

Jim McPherson copperhead

Le bon sens est la chose du monde la mieux partagée, car chacun pense en être bien pourvu.        René Descartes.

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Common sense is the best shared thing, because everyone thinks that s/he has been well provided with it.

Mercy GTOs

Some villagers in the Andes speak a nearly pure Castilian Spanish no longer spoken anywhere else.

joy

Oh, I had such a crush on Tony Brown for so long. She lived right next to me in Woodacre, or wherever it was, and now she lives in Hawaii.  Oh, well, I loved the whole band.

jp

Trois heures, c’est toujours trop tard ou trop tôt pour tout ce qu’on veut faire.   Jean-Paul Sartre.  (Three a.m. is always too late or too early for anything that you would want to do.)

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Hey!  That’s Peter Lewis’ mom kissing Bob Hope.

laura

A wise woman sings her joy in the closet of her heart.

letto

The sexual moment is like music, like prayer, like poetry.

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Sex without sin is like an egg without salt.

Nurse Cheril

A scientist is five times more likely to marry a scientist than an artist is likely to marry an artist.

lizzie p

Tao.   (Chinese)   The way it goes.

Loacoon

Art must be parochial in the beginning to become cosmopolitan in the end.

Magellano

The Church says that the earth is flat. But I know it’s round because I’ve seen its shadow on the moon. And I have more faith in a shadow than in the Church.

mala

Eurydice (Εὐρυδίκη, Eurydikē) was an oak nymph or one of the daughters of Apollo (the god of light). She was the wife of Orpheus, who tried to bring her back from the dead with his enchanting music.

maturità

Pamela des Barres

“Mouse” comes from a Sanskrit word meaning “thief.”

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Adolf Hitler’s mother seriously considered having an abortion, but was talked out of it by her doctor.

ethics

The best indicator of a person’s character is how she treats those who can’t do anything for her.

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Qu’ils mangent de la brioche.   Marie-Antoinette (1755-1793)    Let them eat cake.

mitzi

Saint John Golden Mouth (Ἰωάννης ὁ Χρυσόστομος):   After his death in 407 CE  he was given the Greek name chrysostomos, meaning “golden mouthed” in English, and Anglicized to Chrysostom.

mochica pottery

Maya (Sanskrit)  The mistaken belief that a symbol is the same as the reality it represents.

Sharise

A rabbit can eat a mushroom that would kill a human.

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occhio

Darwinian Man, though well behaved,   At best is only a monkey shaved.    W.S. Gilbert   (Princess Ida, 1884)

oscarita

Ponte (Italian) An extra day off, taken to add a weekend to a national holiday, just as we did here last Labor Day.  Ponte is literally a bridge.  The Pope is sometimes called Pontifex Maximus, the greatest bridge builder, because s/he builds a bridge to god.  This title, as with many other titles in the Catholic Church, was taken from the Roman religion. Mozart’s librettist wrote a long and entertaining  memoir in Italian. His name is Lorenzo Da Ponte.  One of the most common names in French, it’s like Smith or Jones, is DuPont, from the bridge.

pat

Le dessin est la probité de l’art.   J.A.D. Ingres (1780-1867)     Drawing is the real test of art.

patsy

Steffi Scott

If you don’t put on your left sock first, you’re a tad unusual.

perro

Nothing is more annoying than a low person raised to a high position.

piano

Picasso 1901

This is a Picasso, very early.  Maybe 1912.

principe

Young people think that old people are foolish, but old people know that young people are foolish.

ringrazia tua mamma che ti ha fatta stupenda

ζῷον δίπουν ἄπτερον     An animal, two legged, featherless.       Plato’s definition of a human.

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Diogenes the Cynic thought he would have some fun with this so he plucked a chicken and brought it into Plato’s Academy saying:  οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ Πλάτωνος ἄνθρωπος.   (Here is Plato’s man.)

Bobby Hendricks Drifters

When Custer was having his Last Stand, the population of the USA was about forty million.

sandra

Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you,    Away you rolling river.   Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you.   Away, we’re bound away, ‘Cross the wide Missouri.

i hob di a lieb jasi

Choose the puppy whose tail wags in sync with its stride, a sign of calmness.

sarah

I’ve been on so many blind dates, I should get a free dog.

Maria

Forty-five out of every 100 Americans don’t read books. Newspapers, yes, but not books.

nurse

Nurses are special people, they’re science minded, they have big hearts, they have a lot of soul, I could go on and on because I’m married to one.

Coolest

You can eat the whole water lily.  It’s all edible.

Serena Colucci

In 600 CE, the center of European window making lay along the Rhine River.  The Romans called this place Colonia Agrippina and the Germans called it Köln and we call it Cologne. This was the home of the Ubii whom Julius Caesar called friends… most of the time.

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Great skill and a long apprenticeship were required to work with glass, and those prerequisites are reflected, so to speak, in the name that was used for a glassmaker:  ”gaffer” meaning “learned grandfather.”

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So prized were the gaffer’s exquisite artifacts that the opening in the gaffer’s furnace through which he blew glass on a long rod was named a “glory hole.”

i scho, fesch bist!

Let others praise ancient times;  I am glad I was born in these.    Ovid (43 BCE – 18 CE)

seated

Couples who married in Las Vegas:  Melanie Griffith and Don Johnson;  George Clooney and Talia Balsam;  Michael Caine and Shakira Baksh;  Elise Piliwale and Sam Andrew.

Dale

One of the United States was named for Julius Caesar… kind of.  England’s island of Jersey is a corruption of “Caesar’s island.”

sfb

When love, skill and beauty work together, something very lovely can happen.

shelly

Fe que no duda es fe muerta.  Miguel de Unamuno  (1864-1937)   Faith which does not doubt is dead faith.

Franco laureato

Franco laureato. Franco Scalzo is graduated from the university and crowned with laurels.  Viva Franco!

sherry

The great Library of Alexandria, Egypt, was known as ψυχῆς ἰατρεῖον, the hospital of the soul.

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By decree of Ptolemy III of Egypt all visitors to the city were required to surrender any form of written media in any language in their possession which were listed under the heading “books of the ships”.

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These writings were then swiftly copied by official scribes. Sometimes the copies were so precise that the originals were put into the library and the copies were delivered to the unsuspecting previous owners.

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This process also helped to create a reservoir of books in the relatively new city.

Elliot and Jill Easton

Octopuses (octopodes? octopodi?) often have one little eye for seeing things in sunlit waters and one big eye for peeping in the deep.

giraffe

The giraffe has seven cervical vertebrae just as we do. Your seventh cervical vertebra is that bump between your shoulder blades.

ste3phanie

You can imagine that the giraffe’s vertebrae are rather larger than ours.  The mouse has seven cervical vertebrae too.

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εὕρηκα !  I have found it!   This is the state motto of California, presumably referring to the immense reserves of gold, silver and counterculturalists found underground in that state.

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Archimedes is supposed to have said εὕρηκα ! , but the story is almost certainly apocryphal.

Archimedes in bathtub

It goes somewhat like this, that Archimedes was taking a bath, and he noticed that the level of the water rose as he got in and so discovered what is today known as Archimedes Principle, that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged.

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This meant that the volume of irregular objects could be calculated with precision, a previously intractable problem. He was so excited that he ran through the streets naked and still wet from his bath, crying “I have found it!”.

Karen Lyberger

You waste as much energy when you throw away an aluminum soda can as you do when you pour out half a can of gasoline.

harmlos

A piano is harmless.  The danger is the threat posed by the piano player.

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umiltà

Humility is the real force.

heather

Gâchis  (French)  Strong epithet for an opportunity-bungling, inept handling of a situation by a really talented entropist.

vaginas

viviana

One thing that I have noticed is that musicians aren’t good dancers, and dancers aren’t good musicians. Despite the fact that the genes for rhythm and interpretation are right there on the chromosome very nearly allied, there is some serious divide between playing and dancing to that playing. I’m not sure what that means, but I’ve learned to live with the fact that, as a dancer, I am a complete ninny.

Leon

When divorce breaks up a one car couple, who gets the car?  The same one that got the house… the wife.

Walken

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So, if you ever see me dancing, you’ll know that I’m in trouble.

i hob di a lieb jasi

Or, as Agnes De Mille put it, a good education is usually harmful to a dancer. A good calf is better than a good head.

Icônes

I promise you that I am drawing no conclusions whatsoever from this statement.  Dancers live, perhaps, in a more sophisticated milieu than musicians.

Mona Lidji Fishman

More cars are stolen annually in the United States than the total made per year in Russia.

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jane

Why did she have to do all that heroin?  For that matter, why did I ?

jeu

At least I don’t have the gambling gene. I completely missed out on that one. As far as I am concerned, the lottery is a tax on people who are really bad at mathematics.

Kind

James Gurley always said, “Well, someone’s got to win,” and I thought, “Yeah, but it ain’t going to be you and me, my brother.”  We already won.  How much luck do you want for one lifetime?

baci

Rasa (Sanskrit) The mood or sentiment that is evoked by a work of art.  I like this word rasa for so many reasons.

la

Rasa reminds me of La Raza, the Hispanic word that means “race,” but is closer to “la familia,” or even nosotros.

mama

The word rasa  refers to the essential oils of a fruit or the perfume of a flower.

cinzia

The thrill of esthetic pleasure, the powerful emotional sentiments that come up when a person truly experiences a work of art.

tracks

Then, there was a “restaurant,” really a stand, in the Pike Place Market of Seattle called Rasa Malaysia.  I had the impression that it was a whole chain of places. All the vegetables were fresh, they were expertly prepared, everything was tasty, or, as the Japanese say, oishii.  I loved this place, Rasa Malaysia, and will always stop at one wherever I am.

man

Good, wholesome food, deliciously prepared.  So, I am assuming that the rasa in Rasa Malaysia is the same rasa as the Sanskrit word.

maria

The full theory of rasas has an esthetic vocabulary for describing the excellencies, the essences of very different phenomena.

Michael Mahner

For more than 1,500 years, Hindus have talked about nine distinct rasas at least one of which will be present in any work of art.

mor

There is the erotic rasa, Shingara; the comic rasa, Hasya; Karuna, the pathetic rasa; raudra, the furious rasa, and , so the Indian pantheon.

mwah

I like it that rasa and la raza are so close in essential meaning, but, yet, mean almost opposite ideas.

paradise

Sometimes I wonder if the word “race” has any meaning at all in the USA, or anywhere else, for that matter.

puppies

We are all so mixed, and for a long time too, that it is probably best just to assume that we are all the same.

Vince Martell

Grasshoppers have white blood.

raq

She says she’s 70, so probably a few years older, but not bad, right?  I love Raquel, always did.  She was smart, beautiful, full of salsa, and she did the Dick Cavett show with Janis and held her own.

S'all good, man

sala prové

Laura Albergante Visconti.   I love her name.

saul i can make it legal

Remember?  This guy wasn’t even Jewish, but he took this name so that people would assume he was.

suisses

The Visconti were viscounts, which is like a vice count, but they came to have much more power than their name suggests.

cartmonf2copia

They were dukes of Milan for many centuries, and they fought alongside the condottieri that they hired.

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Condottieri were the mercenary soldier leaders, or warlords, of the professional, military free companies contracted by the Italian city states and the Papacy from the late Middle Ages through the Renaissance.

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In Renaissance Italian, condottiero meant “contractor”, and was synonymous with the modern English title Mercenary Captain.

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In the Italian of that time, “condottiero” acquired the broader meaning of “military leader”, not restricted to mercenaries. Renaissance mercenary captains are usually called capitani di ventura.

Equiestrian Statue of Cartolomeo colleoni

In the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the Italian city-states of Venice, Florence and Genoa were very rich from their trade with the Levant, yet possessed woefully small national armies.

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In the event that foreign powers and envious neighbours attacked, the ruling nobles hired foreign mercenaries to fight for them.

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The military-service terms and conditions were stipulated in a condotta (contract) between the city-state and the soldiers (officer and enlisted man), thus, the contracted leader, the mercenary captain commanding, was titled the Condottiere or condottiero.

Condottiere

Un condottiero drawn by Leonardo.

Peter John Hall

Says here that people are supposed to play and work their best when the temperature is between 63 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit. This is probably an ethnocentric notion. There may be some people in the world who would find that a little cold.  Works for me, though.

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chitarra

I can’t have music in the background, such as in films or recorded books. When I hear music I can’t hear anything else.

viaggio

Rêve à deux (French):   A mutual dream or a shared hallucination.

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The first mercenary company with an Italian condottiero as its chief was the “Company of St. George” formed in 1339 and led by Lodrisio Visconti, an ancestor to this woman.

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Noi leggiavamo un giorno per diletto,  Di Lancialotto, come amor lo strinse,  Soli eravamo, e sanza alcun sospetto.   (Dante)

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We were reading one day for delight about Lancelot, how love constrained him, we were alone and without any  suspecting.

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Thank you for being here.

Easterr, Albany, Georgia

Sam Andrew     Οὖτις ἐμοί γ’ ὄνομα.        Nobody is my name.

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Potatoes

VarietiesPotatoes

There are four main food crops on the planet, rice, wheat, maize and potatoes. Two of these, maize and potatoes, were not known to Europeans until the 16th century.

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The Inuit have twenty-six different words for snow, you have probably heard, and the Peruvians have even more different words for potatoes and for the condition of those potatoes.

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Potatoes have a far richer diversity than the average supermarket shelf suggests. There are 5,000 varieties worldwide, though 3,000 are found only in the Andes where a single valley may contain 100 different types.

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Only a handful of species were introduced to Europe in the 16th-century and from those, dedicated potato growers in the 19th and early 20th centuries bred many of the heritage gems that are again becoming popular.

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The potato is a starchy, tuberous crop from the perennial Solanum tuberosum of the Nightshade family. The word may refer to the plant itself as well as the edible tuber. In the region of the Andes, there are some other closely related cultivated potato species. Potatoes were introduced outside the Andes region four centuries ago, and have become an integral part of much of the world’s cuisine. 

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Wild potato species occur throughout the Americas, from the United States to southern Chile. The potato was originally believed to have been domesticated independently in multiple locations, but later genetic testing of the wide variety of cultivars and wild species proved a single origin for potatoes in the area of present-day southern Peru and extreme northwestern Bolivia (from a species in the Solanum brevicaule complex), where they were domesticated 7,000–10,000 years ago.

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Following centuries of selective breeding, there are now over a thousand different types of potatoes. Of these subspecies, a variety that at one point grew in the Chiloé Archipelago (the potato’s south-central Chilean sub-center of origin) left its germplasm on over 99% of the cultivated potatoes worldwide.

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This is not such a good situation and the same holds true with maize (corn) which is even more restricted in variety than the potato. If something goes wrong with this one subspecies, there would be worldwide famine. It would be most beneficial to have more varieties of food crops in general use, as a kind of back up in case of catastrophic disease.

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The annual diet of an average global citizen in the first decade of the 21st century included about 33 kg (73 lb) of potato.

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However, the local importance of potato is extremely variable and rapidly changing. It remains an essential crop in Europe (especially eastern and central Europe), where per capita production is still the highest in the world, but the most rapid expansion over the past few decades has occurred in southern and eastern Asia. China is now the world’s largest potato-producing country, and nearly a third of the world’s potatoes are harvested in China and India.

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The English word potato comes from Spanish patata (the name used in Spain, but not in South America). The Spanish Royal Academy says that the word patata is a compound of the Taino batata (sweet potato) and the Quechua papa (potato).

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The French call them patates, although I seem to remember pommes de terre as being more common. The same idea holds true with tomates and pommes d’amour.

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The name potato originally referred to a type of sweet potato rather than the other way around, although there is actually no close relationship between the two plants. The English confused the two plants. In many of the chronicles detailing agriculture and plants, no distinction is made between the two.

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The 16th-century English herbalist John Gerard used the terms “bastard potatoes” and “Virginia potatoes” for this species, and referred to sweet potatoes as “common potatoes”. Gerard’s book, Herball, or Generall Historie of Plantes, was first published in 1597, and was the most widely circulated botany book in English in the 17th century.

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Potatoes are occasionally referred to as “Irish potatoes” or “white potatoes” in the United States, to distinguish them from sweet potatoes.

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The name spud for a small potato comes from the digging of soil (or a hole) prior to the planting of potatoes. The word has an unknown origin and was originally (circa 1440) used as a term for a short knife or dagger, probably related to Dutch spyd and/or the Latin “spad-” root meaning “sword”; cf. Spanish “espada”, English “spade” and “spadroon”.

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The word spud traces back to the 16th century. It subsequently transferred over to a variety of digging tools. Around 1845 it transferred over to the tuber itself. The origin of the word spud has erroneously been attributed to a 19th-century activist group dedicated to keeping the potato out of Britain, calling itself The Society for the Prevention of an Unwholesome Diet.

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It was Mario Pei’s 1949 The Story of Language that can be blamed for the false origin. Pei writes, “the potato, for its part, was in disrepute some centuries ago. Some Englishmen who did not fancy potatoes formed a Society for the Prevention of Unwholesome Diet. The initials of the main words in this title gave rise to spud.” Like most other pre-20th century acronymic theories of origin, this one is false.

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Potato plants are herbaceous perennials that grow about 60 cm (24 in) high, depending on variety, the culms (stems) dying back after flowering. They bear white, pink, red, blue, or purple flowers with yellow stamens. In general, the tubers of varieties with white flowers have white skins, while those of varieties with colored flowers tend to have pinkish skins.

Cross-Pollination

Potatoes are cross-pollinated mostly by insects, including bumblebees, which carry pollen from other potato plants, but a substantial amount of self-fertilizing occurs as well. Tubers form in response to decreasing day length, although this tendency has been minimized in commercial varieties.

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After potato plants flower, some varieties produce small green fruits that resemble green cherry tomatoes, each containing up to 300 true seeds. Potato fruit contains large amounts of the toxic alkaloid solanine and is therefore unsuitable for consumption.

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All new potato varieties are grown from seeds, also called “true seed” or “botanical seed” to distinguish it from seed tubers. By finely chopping the fruit and soaking it in water, the seeds separate from the flesh by sinking to the bottom after about a day (the remnants of the fruit float).

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Any potato variety can also be propagated vegetatively by planting tubers, pieces of tubers, cut to include at least one or two eyes, or also by cuttings, a practice used in greenhouses for the production of healthy seed tubers.

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Some commercial potato varieties do not produce seeds at all (they bear imperfect flowers) and are propagated only from tuber pieces. Confusingly, these tubers or tuber pieces are called “seed potatoes,” because the potato itself functions as “seed”.

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There are about 5,000 potato varieties worldwide. Three thousand of them are found in the Andes alone, mainly in Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, and Colombia. They belong to eight or nine species, depending on the system of taxonomy used.

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A traditional Peruvian causa layers avocados and potatoes into a sort of casserole, which is sliced and served cold. Other layers might contain tuna, meat, or hard-boiled egg. Causa can also be like a cake or even a quiche made from golden potatoes, lemon, chicken, and mayonnaise.

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Apart from the 5,000 cultivated varieties, there are about 200 wild species and subspecies, many of which can be cross-bred with cultivated varieties, which has been done repeatedly to transfer resistances to certain pests and diseases from the gene pool of wild species to the gene pool of cultivated potato species.

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Genetically modified potato varieties have met public resistance in the United States and in the European Union.

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Even McDonald’s has refused GMO potatoes.

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This was a very wise decision, although they probably had some help with it.

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No GMO potatoes in our bag!

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The major species of potato grown worldwide is Solanum tuberosum (a tetraploid with 48 chromosomes), and modern varieties of this species are the most widely cultivated. There are two major subspecies of Solanum tuberosumandigena, or Andean; and tuberosum, or Chilean. The Andean potato is adapted to the short-day conditions prevalent in the mountainous equatorial and tropical regions where it originated. The Chilean potato, native to the Chiloé Archipelago, is adapted to the long-day conditions prevalent in the higher latitude region of southern Chile.

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The Centro Internacional de la Papa (International Potato Center CIP) based in Lima, Peru, holds an ISO-accredited collection of potato germplasm.

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The international Potato Genome Sequencing Consortium announced in 2009 that they had achieved a draft sequence of the potato genome, which contains 12 chromosomes and 860 million base pairs making it a medium-sized plant genome.

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Eat Dem Taters, a painting from 1975, substituted laughing black people for the pious Dutch peasants of van Gogh’s Potato Eaters to attack, in the words of the artist, Robert Colescott, “the myth of the happy darky.”

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I remember the potato fields of Long Island in the 1960s. They stretched for miles and it seemed like you could smell potatoes all the way out to the Hamptons.  Some of those fields are still there but many have since been turned into housing developments and vineyards.

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Potatoes yield abundantly with little effort, and adapt readily to diverse climates as long as the climate is cool and moist enough for the plants to gather sufficient water from the soil to form the starchy tubers. Potatoes do not keep very well in storage and are vulnerable to molds that feed on the stored tubers, quickly turning them rotten. By contrast, grain can be stored for several years without much risk of rotting.

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According to conservative estimates, the introduction of the potato was responsible for a quarter of the growth in Old World population and urbanization between 1700 and 1900. Following the Spanish conquest of the Inca empire, the Spanish introduced the potato to Europe in the second half of the 16th century. The staple was subsequently conveyed by European mariners to territories and ports throughout the world. The potato was slow to be adopted by distrustful European farmers, but soon enough it became an important food staple and field crop that played a major role in the European 19th century population boom.

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However, lack of genetic diversity, due to the very limited number of varieties initially introduced, left the crop vulnerable to disease. In 1845, a plant disease known as late blight, caused by the fungus-like oomycete Phytophthora infestans, spread rapidly through the poorer communities of western Ireland, resulting in the crop failures that led to the Great Irish Famine, all due to the use of very few species of potatoes, a condition that still exists today with both potatoes and corn (maize).

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Thousands of varieties still persist in the Andes however, where over 100 cultivars might be found in a valley, and a dozen or more might be maintained by a single agricultural household.

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El poder de la papa nativa:  ”The power of the native potato.”  The region around Lake Titicaca in southern Peru and northern Bolivia is particularly rich in genetic diversity, and the wild potatoes from here are valuable for their disease and pest resistance.

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In Spain and Italy, they say “patata.”

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In the American world, though, they say “papa,” which is the same as the word for “pope,” although the gender is different.

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La papa is “the potato” in the Spanish of the new world, and the word probably came, as noted above, from the Quechua language. Il Papa, or el Papa, or Le Pape is the word for “pope” in the Latin languages.  La papa = potato.   El papa = the pope.

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Every language is full of such ambiguities and interesting quirks. When the NRA sends you a note saying they’ve been “missing” you, you really have to wonder a bit what they have in mind.

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The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reports that the world production of potatoes in 2010 was about 324 million tons. (Fiat panis = let there be bread.)

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Just over two thirds of the global production is eaten directly by humans with the rest being fed to animals or used to produce starch.

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This means that the annual diet of an average global citizen in the first decade of the 21st century included about 33 kg (or 73 lb) of potato.

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Or about the weight that this woman lost last year.

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China is now the world’s largest potato-producing country, and nearly a third of the world’s potatoes are harvested in China and India. 

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The geographic shift of potato production has been away from wealthier countries toward lower-income areas of the world, although the degree of this trend is ambiguous.

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In 2008, several international organizations highlighted the potato’s role in world food production, in the face of developing economic problems. They cited its potential derived from its status as a cheap and plentiful crop that grows in a wide variety of climates and locales.

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Potatoes don’t travel well. Only about 5% of the world’s potato crop is traded internationally; its minimal presence in world financial markets contributed to its stable pricing during the 2007-2008 world food price crisis.  Thus, the United Nations officially declared 2008 as the International Year of the Potato to raise its profile in developing nations, calling the crop a “hidden treasure”.

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Palindrome.

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The potato contains vitamins and minerals, as well as an assortment of phytochemicals, such as carotenoids and natural phenols. Chlorogenic acid constitutes up to 90% of the potato tuber natural phenols.

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A medium-size 150 g (5.3 oz) potato with the skin provides 27 mg of vitamin C(45% of the Daily Value (DV)), 620 mg of potassium (18% of DV), 0.2 mg vitamin B6 (10% of DV) and trace amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, folate, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, iron and zinc. The fiber content of a potato with skin (2 g) is equivalent to that of many whole grain breads, pastas, and cereals.

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The potato is best known for its carbohydrate content (approximately 26 grams in a medium potato). The predominant form of this carbohydrate is starch. A small but significant portion of this starch is resistant to digestion by enzymes in the stomach and small intestines and so reaches the large intestine  essentially intact.

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This resistant starch is considered to have similar physiological effects and health benefits as fiber: It provides bulk, offers protection against colon cancer, improves glucose tolerance and insulin sensitivity, lowers plasma cholesterol and triglyceride concentrations, increases satiety, and possibly even reduces fat storage.

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The amount of resistant starch in potatoes depends much on preparation methods. Cooking and then cooling potatoes significantly increases resistant starch. For example, cooked potato starch contains about 7% resistant starch, which increases to about 13% upon cooling.

The cooking method used can significantly affect the nutrient availability of the potato.

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Potatoes are often broadly classified as high on the glycemic index (GI) and so are often excluded from the diets of individuals trying to follow a low G-I diet. In fact, the GI of potatoes can vary considerably depending on type (such as red, russet, white, or Prince Edward), origin (where it was grown), preparation methods (i.e., cooking method, whether it is eaten hot or cold, whether it is mashed or cubed or consumed whole, etc.), and with what it is consumed (i.e., the addition of various high-fat or high-protein toppings).

Eating a healthy five portions of fruit and vegetables can cost less than 50 pence a day.  In the United Kingdom, potatoes are not considered by the National Health Service as counting towards the five portions of fruit and vegetables diet.

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Potatoes contain toxic compounds known as glycoalkaloids of which the most prevalent are solanine and chaconine. Solanine is also found in other plants in the family Solanaceae, which includes such plants as the deadly nightshade (Atropa belladonna), henbane (Hyascyamos niger) and tobacco (Nicotiana) as well as the potato, eggplant, and tomato. This toxin affects the nervous system, causing weakness and confusion.

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These compounds, which protect the plant from its predators, are, in general, concentrated in its leaves, stems, sprouts, and fruits. Exposure to light, physical damage, and age increase glycoalkaloid content within the tuber. The highest concentrations occur just underneath the skin.

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Cooking at high temperatures —over 170 °C (340 °F)— partly destroys these. The concentration of glycoalkaloid in wild potatoes suffices to produce toxic effects in humans. Glycoalkaloids may cause headaches, diarrhea, cramps and in severe cases coma and death. Poisoning from potatoes occurs very rarely.

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Light exposure causes greening from chlorophyll synthesis, thus giving a visual clue as to areas of the tuber that may have become more toxic. This does not, however, provide a definitive guide, as greening and glycoalkaloid accumulation can occur independently of each other. Some varieties of potato contain greater glycoalkaloid concentrations than others. When breeders develop new varieties, they test for this, and sometimes have to discard an otherwise promising cultivar.

The toxic fruits produced by mature potato plants.

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Breeders try to keep solanine levels below 200 mg/kg (200 ppmw). However, when these commercial varieties turn green, even they can approach concentrations of solanine of 1000 mg/kg (1000 ppmw).

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In normal potatoes, analysis has shown solanine levels may be as little as 3.5% of the breeders’ maximum, with 7–187 mg/kg being found. While a normal potato has 12–20 mg/kg of glycoalkaloid content, a green tuber contains 250–280 mg/kg, and green skin 1500–2200 mg/kg.

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The U.S. National Toxicology Program suggests that the average American consume at most 12.5 mg/day of solanine from potatoes (the toxic dose is actually several times this, depending on body weight).

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Douglas L. Holt, the State Extension Specialist for Food Safety at the University of Missouri notes that no reported cases of potato-source solanine poisoning have occurred in the U.S. in the last 50 years, and most cases involved eating green potatoes or drinking potato-leaf tea.

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Potatoes grown in a tall bag are common in gardens as they increase potato yield and minimize the amount of digging required at harvest.

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Potatoes are generally grown from seed potatoes – these are tubers specifically grown to be disease free and provide consistent and healthy plants. To be disease free, the areas where seed potatoes are grown are selected with care. In the USA this restricts production of seed potatoes to only 15 states out of the 50 states that grow potatoes.

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These locations are selected for their cold hard winters that kill pests and long sunshine hours in the summer for optimum growth.

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In the UK, most seed potatoes originate in Scotland in areas where westerly winds prevent aphid attack and thus prevent spread of potato virus pathogens.

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Potato growth has been divided into five phases.

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During the first phase, sprouts emerge from the seed potatoes and root growth begins.

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In the second phase, photosynthesis begins as the plant develops leaves and branches.

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The third phase is when the  stolons develop from lower leaf axils on the stem and grow downwards into the ground and on these stolons new tubers develop as swellings of the stolon. This phase is often (but not always) associated with flowering. Tuber formation halts when soil temperatures reach 27 °C (81 °F). Potatoes are considered a cool-season crop.

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During the fourth phase, tuber bulking occurs when the plant begins investing the majority of its resources in its newly formed tubers. At this stage, several factors are critical to yield: optimal soil moisture and temperature, soil nutrient availability and balance, and resistance to pest attacks.

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The fifth and final phase is maturation: The plant canopy dies back, the tuber skins harden, and their sugars convert to starches.

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New tubers may arise at the soil surface. Since exposure to light leads to greening of the skins and the development of solanine, growers are interested in covering such tubers. Commercial growers usually address this problem by piling additional soil around the base of the plant as it grows (“hilling”, or in British English “earthing up”).

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An alternative method used by home gardeners and smaller-scale growers involves covering the growing area with organic mulches such as straw or with plastic sheets.

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Growing potatoes can be a difficult task in some circumstances. Good ground preparation, harrowing, plowing and rolling are always needed, along with a little grace from the weather and a good source of water.

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Three successive plowings, with associated harrowing and rolling, are often needed before planting. Eliminating all root-weeds is desirable in potato cultivation.

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Potatoes are generally grown from the eyes of another potato and not from seed.

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Home gardeners often plant a piece of potato with two or three eyes in a hill of mounded soil. Commercial growers plant potatoes as a row crop using seed tubers, young plants or microtubers and may mound the entire row.  Kartoffel is the German word for potato, and there is a very similar word in Russian.

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Romanian cartof, Ukrainian картопля(kartóplja), Bulgarian картоф (kartof) are all obviously connected as well to the  German and Danish kartoffel.  But even this word comes from the Italian word tartufuli , meaning ‘truffle-like thingy’.

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The Polish name ziemniaki as well as the Slovak  zemiak, which both come from the Slavic root ZEM meaning ‘earth’. Russian Земля, ‘earth/land.’  Like the French with pomme de terre ‘apple of the earth’, the Poles named it by where is was found.

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Seed potato crops are ‘rogued’ in some countries to eliminate diseased plants or those of a different variety from the seed crop. This is where the farmer goes over the seed bed and pulls up the ‘rogues,’ inferior plants.

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Potatoes are sensitive to heavy frosts, which damage them in the ground. Even cold weather makes potatoes more susceptible to bruising and possibly later rotting, which can quickly ruin a large stored crop.

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At harvest time, gardeners usually dig up potatoes with a long-handled, three-prong “grape” (or graip) a spading fork or a potato hook, which is similar to the graip but with tines at a 90° angle to the handle.

Native Peruvians gather potatoes from their terraced farms.

In larger plots, the plow is the fastest implement for unearthing potatoes.

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Commercial harvesting is typically done with large potato harvesters, which scoop up the plant and surrounding earth. This is transported up an apron chain consisting of steel links several feet wide, which separates some of the dirt. The chain deposits into an area where further separation occurs.

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Different designs use different systems at this point. The most complex designs use vine choppers and shakers, along with a blower system or “Flying Willard” to separate the potatoes from the plant. The result is then usually run past workers who continue to sort out plant material, stones, and rotten potatoes before the potatoes are continuously delivered to a wagon or truck. Further inspection and separation occurs when the potatoes are unloaded from the field vehicles and put into storage.

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Immature potatoes may be sold as “new potatoes” and are particularly valued for taste. These are often harvested by the home gardener or farmer by “grabbling”,  pulling out the young tubers by hand while leaving the plant in place.

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Potatoes are usually cured after harvest to improve skin-set. Skin-set is the process by which the skin of the potato becomes resistant to skinning damage. Potato tubers may be susceptible to skinning at harvest and suffer skinning damage during harvest and handling operations.

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Curing allows the skin to fully set and any wounds to heal. Wound-healing prevents infection and water-loss from the tubers during storage. Curing is normally done at relatively warm temperatures 50 to 60 °C (122 to 140 °F) with high humidity and good gas-exchange if at all possible.

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Storage facilities need to be carefully designed to keep the potatoes alive and slow the natural process of decomposition, which involves the breakdown of starch.

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It is crucial that the storage area be dark, well ventilated and for long-term storage maintained at temperatures near 4 °C (39 °F). For short-term storage before cooking, temperatures of about 7 to 10 °C (45 to 50 °F) are preferred.

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On the other hand, temperatures below 4 °C (39 °F) convert potatoes’ starch into sugar, which alters their taste and cooking qualities and leads to higher acrylamide levels in the cooked product, especially in deep-fried dishes—the discovery of acrylamides in starchy foods in 2002 has led to many international health concerns as they are believed to be possible carcinogens and their occurrence in cooked foods are currently under study as possible influences in potential health problems.

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In commercial warehouses with very good conditions, potatoes can be stored for up to ten to twelve months.

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When stored in homes, the shelf life is usually only a few weeks. If potatoes develop green areas or start to sprout, these areas should be trimmed before using. Trimming or peeling green areas are inadequate to remove copresent toxins, and such potatoes are no longer suitable as animal food.

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Commercial storage of potatoes involves several phases: drying of surface moisture; a wound healing phase at 85% to 95% relative humidity and temperatures below 25 °C (77 °F); a staged cooling phase; a holding phase; and a reconditioning phase, during which the tubers are slowly warmed. Mechanical ventilation is used at various points during the process to prevent condensation and accumulation of carbon dioxide.

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Potatoes were grown on 18.6 million hectares in 2010, each hectare yielding 17.4 tons of tubers. Farms in the United States were the most productive in 2010, with a nationwide average of 44.3 tons per hectare. The United Kingdom was a close second.

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Farms in New Zealand have ranged between 60 to 80 tons per hectare, some reporting yields of 88 tons per hectare.

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There is a big gap among various countries between high and low yields, even with the same variety of potato. Average potato yields in developed economies ranges between 38–44 tons per hectare. The two largest producers of potatoes, China and India which accounted for over a third of world’s production in 2010, had yields of 14.7 and 19.9 tons per hectare respectively.

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The yield gap between farms in developing economies and developed economies represents an opportunity loss of over 400 million tons of potato, or an amount greater than 2010 world potato production. Potato crop yields are determined by factors such as the crop breed, seed age and quality, crop management practices and the plant environment. Improvements in one or more of these yield determinants, and a closure of the yield gap, can be a major boost to food supply and farmer incomes in the developing world.

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While there are close to 4000 different varieties of potato, there are many standard or well-known varieties, each of which has particular agricultural or culinary attributes.

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Varieties are categorized into a few main groups, such as russets, reds, whites, yellows (also called Yukons) and purples—based on common characteristics. Around 80 varieties are commercially available in the UK.

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For culinary purposes, varieties are often differentiated by their waxiness. Floury, or mealy (baking) potatoes have more starch (20–22%) than waxy (boiling) potatoes (16–18%).

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This painting is called Die Kartoffelschälerin, the Potato Peeler. As I mentioned Kartoffel is German for potato.

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The Russian word is quite close, Kartophely, or something like that. It’s difficult to transcribe Russian.

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The distinction between waxy and floury may also arise from variation in the comparative ratio of two potato starch compounds: amylose and amylopectin.  Amylose, a long-chain molecule, diffuses from the starch granule when cooked in water, and lends itself to dishes where the potato is mashed. Varieties that contain a slightly higher amylopectin content, a highly branched molecule, help the potato retain its shape when boiled.

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Peru still has some 2,800 varieties of potato, more than any other country.

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The blue potato (or purple potato) originated in South America. It has purple skin and flesh, which becomes blue once cooked. It has a slight whitish scab that seems to be present in all samples. The variety, called “Cream of the Crop”, has been introduced into Ireland and has proved popular.

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Genetic research has produced several genetically modified varieties. ‘New Leaf’, owned by Monsanto incorporates genes from Bacillus thuringiensis,  which confers resistance to the Colorado potato beetle.

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‘New Leaf Plus’ and ‘New Leaf Y’, approved by US regulatory agencies during the 1990s, also include resistance to viruses.McDonald’s, Burger King, Frito-Lay and Proctor & Gamble announced they would not use genetically modified potatoes, and Monsanto published its intent to discontinue the line in March 2001.

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All blight-resistant potatoes must be replaced every three generations by fresh new strains from the Andes, as they lose their resistance very quickly.

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Waxy potato varieties produce two main kinds of potato starch, amylose and amylopectin, the latter of which is most industrially useful. The German chemical company BASF created the Amflora potato, which has been modified to contain antisense against the enzyme that drives synthesis of amylose, namely granule bound starch synthase.

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The resulting potato almost exclusively produces amylopectin, and thus is more useful for the starch industry. In 2010, the European Commission cleared the way for ‘Amflora’ to be grown in the European Union for industrial purposes only—not for food. Nevertheless, under EU rules, individual countries have the right to decide whether they will allow this potato to be grown on their territory. Commercial planting of ‘Amflora’ was expected in the Czech Republic and Germany in the spring of 2010, and Sweden and the Netherlands in subsequent years.

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Another GM potato variety developed by BASF is ‘Fortuna’ which was made resistant to late blight by adding two resistance genes, blb1 and blb2, which originate from the Mexican wild potato Solanum bulbocastanum.

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In October 2011 BASF requested cultivation and marketing approval as a feed and food from the EFSA. In 2012 GMO development in Europe was stopped by BASF.

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In 2010, a team of Indian scientists announced they had developed a genetically modified potato with 35 to 60% more protein than non-modified potatoes. Protein content was boosted by adding the gene AmA1 from the grain amaranth. They also found 15 to 25% greater crop yields with these potatoes. The researchers expected that a key market for the GM potato would be the developing world, where more than a billion people are chronically undernourished.

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The historically significant Phytophthora infestans (late blight) remains an ongoing problem in Europe and the United States.

Giuseppe Penone - Patate (Museo di Arte Contemporanea, Castello di Rivoli, Torino, 1977)

Other potato diseases include Rhizoctonia, Sclerotinia, black leg, powdery mildew, powdery scab and leafroll virus. 

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Late blight is infamous as the cause of the Irish Potato Famine, an unforgettable period of Irish history in which four consecutive years of crop failure in the mid-1800s left millions of people starving or dead. And though these days most people think of the disease as a potato plague of the past, it remains a serious problem, threatening to wipe out potato crops in countries around the world every year.

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Over the past several decades it has been occurring with increasing frequency in the United States, and this year, it has returned with a vengeance, causing an epidemic in tomatoes in New England, infecting potatoes on farms in Michigan and Indiana, and popping up in isolated cases in potatoes in Wisconsin.

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Insects that commonly transmit potato diseases or damage the plants include the Colorado potato beetle, the potato tuber moth, the green peach aphid (Myzus persicae), the potato aphid, beetleafhoppers, thrips and mites.

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The potato root nematode is a microscopic worm that thrives on the roots, thus causing the potato plants to wilt. Since its eggs can survive in the soil for several years, crop rotation is necessary to solve the problem.

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During the crop year 2008, many of the certified organic potatoes produced in the United Kingdom and certified by the Soil Association as organic were sprayed with a copper pesticide to control potato blight (Phytophthora infestans). According to the Soil Association, the total copper that can be applied to organic land is 6 kg/ha/year.

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According to an Environmental Working Group analysis of USDA and FDA pesticide residue tests performed from 2000 through 2008, 84% of the 2,216 tested potato samples contained detectable traces of at least one pesticide. A total of 36 unique pesticides were detected on potatoes over the 2,216 samples, though no individual sample contained more than 6 unique pesticide traces, and the average was 1.29 detectable unique pesticide traces per sample. The average quantity of all pesticide traces found in the 2,216 samples was 1.602 ppm. While this is a very low value of pesticide residue, it is the highest amongst the 50 vegetables analyzed.

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  • Potatoes are used to brew alcoholic beverages such as vodka, potcheen and akvavit. 
  • They are also used as food for domestic animals.
  • Potato starch is used in the food industry as, for example, thickeners and binders of soups and sauces, in the textile industry, as adhesives, and for the manufacturing of papers and boards.
  • Maine companies are exploring the possibilities of using waste potatoes to obtain polylactic acid for use in plastic products. Other research projects seek ways to use the starch as a base for biodegradable packaging.
  • Potato skins, along with honey, are a folk remedy for burns in India. Burn centers in India have experimented with the use of the thin outer skin layer to protect burns while healing.
  • Potatoes (mainly Russets) are commonly used in plant research. The consistent parenchyma tissue, the clonal nature of the plant and the low metabolic activity provide a very nice “model tissue” for experimentation. Wound-response studies are often done on potato tuber tissue, as are electron transport experiments. In this respect, potato tuber tissue is similar to Drosophila melanogasterCaenorhabditis elegans and Escherichia coli: they are all “standard” research organisms.

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Potatoes are prepared in many ways: skin-on or peeled, whole or cut up, with seasonings or without. The only requirement involves cooking to swell the starch granules. Most potato dishes are served hot, but some are first cooked, then served cold (potato salad, potato chips).

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Common dishes are: mashed potatoes, which are first boiled (usually peeled), and then mashed with milk or yogurt and butter; whole baked potatoes; boiled or steamed potatoes; French-fried potatoes or chips; cut into cubes and roasted; scalloped, diced, or sliced and fried (home fries); grated into small thin strips and fried (hash browns); grated and formed into dumplings, Rösti or potato pancakes.

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Unlike many foods, potatoes can also be easily cooked in a microwave oven and still retain nearly all of their nutritional value, provided they are covered in ventilated plastic wrap to prevent moisture from escaping. This method produces a meal very similar to a steamed potato, while retaining the appearance of a conventionally baked potato. Potato chunks also commonly appear as a stew ingredient.

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Potatoes are boiled between 10 and 25 minutes, depending on size and type, to become soft.

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Peruvians naturally use the potato as a primary ingredient in many dishes, as around 3,000 varieties of this tuber are grown there. Some of the more notable dishes include boiled potato as a base for several dishes or with ají-based sauces such as the Papa a la Huancaína or ocopa, diced potato for its use in soups like in cau cau, or in Carapulca with dried potato (papa seca).

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Smashed condimented potato is used in causa Limeña and papa rellena. French-fried potatoes are a typical ingredient in Peruvian stir-fries, including the classic dish lomo saltado. 

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Chuño is a freeze dried potato product traditionally made by Quechua and Aymara communities of Peru and Bolivia, and is known in various countries of South America, including Peru, Bolivia and Chile.

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In Chile’s Chiloé Archipelago, potatoes are the main ingredient of many dishes, including milcaos, chapaleles, curanto and chochoca. In Ecuador, the potato, as well as being a staple with most dishes, is featured in the hearty locro de papas, a thick soup of potato, squash, and cheese.

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In the UK, potatoes form part of the traditional staple fish and chips. Roast potatoes are commonly served with a Sunday roast and mashed potatoes form a major component of several other traditional dishes such as shepherd’s pie, bubble and squeak, and bangers and mash. New potatoes are often cooked with mint and served with a little melted butter.

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The Tattie scone is a popular Scottish dish containing potatoes. Colcannon is a traditional Irish food made with mashed potato, shredded kale or cabbage, and onion. Champ is a similar dish.

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Boxty pancakes are eaten throughout Ireland, although associated especially with the north, and in Irish diaspora communities; they are traditionally made with grated potatoes, soaked to loosen the starch and mixed with flour, buttermilk and baking powder. A variant eaten and sold in Lancashire,especially Liverpool, is made with cooked and mashed potatoes.

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Bryvanzové halusky is the Slovakian national dish, made of a batter of flour and finely grated potatoes that is boiled to form dumplings. These are then mixed with regionally varying ingredients.

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In Northern and Eastern Europe, especially in Scandinavia, Poland, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine, newly harvested, early ripening varieties are considered a special delicacy. Boiled whole and served un-peeled with dill, these “new potatoes” are traditionally consumed with Baltic herring. Puddings made from grated potatoes (kugel, kugelis and potato babka) are popular items of Ashkenazi, Lithuanian and Belarussian cuisine. 

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In Western Europe, especially in Belgium, sliced potatoes are fried to create frieten, the original French fried potatoes. Stampot, a traditional Dutch meal, is based on mashed potatoes mixed with vegetables.

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In France, the most notable potato dish is the Hachis Parmentier, named after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, French pharmacist, nutritionist, and agronomist who, in the late 18th century, was instrumental in the acceptance of the potato as an edible crop in the country.

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The pâté aux pommes de terre  is a regional potato dish from the central Allier and Limousin regions.

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In the north of Italy, in particular, in the Friuli region of the northeast, potatoes serve to make a type of pasta called gnocchi.  Gnocchi with chicken essence, pancetta and fresh Périgord truffle.

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Friuli is a lovely area of northeastern Italy with its own particular cultural and historical identity. The  capital is Udine where we played on a hilltop one beautiful afternoon. In the Middle Ages this place was called the Patriarchate of Aquileia, which was the fourth largest city of Italy during Roman imperial times.

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This is sign is written in standard Italian, top, and Friulian, bottom. The name Friuli comes from Forum Iulii. The area was important to the Romans because it was at the foot of the Alps, and Julius Caesar could intercept barbarian invasions here as well as wintering his troops. I wonder if they ate gnocchi then? The Roman soldiers lived on what they called frumentarium, which was basically wheat, Roman meal.

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Yes, Rome conquered the known world on a vegetarian diet of wheat, barley, oats, spelt and rye. Roman soldiers ate meat but not very often, and never on their summer campaigns when meat would have spoiled. Anyway, they didn’t know any Peruvians yet, so gnocchi were unknown.

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Cooked and mashed potatoes or potato flour can be used in the Knödel or dumpling eaten with or added to meat dishes all over central and Eastern Europe, but especially in Bavaria and Luxembourg.

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Das Gulasch mit Knödel.

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Potatoes form one of the main ingredients in many soups such as the vichyssoise and Albanian potato and cabbage soup. In western Norway, komle, spheres of grated potato, wheat flour, barley flour, and salt, is popular.

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A traditional Canary Islands dish is wrinkly potatoes or papas arrugadas usually served with a pepper sauce called Mojo or as an accompaniment to meat dishes.

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Tortilla de patatas (potato omelete) and patatas bravas  (a dish of fried potatoes in a spicy tomato sauce) are near-universal constituent of Spanish tapas.

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French fries and often hash browns are commonly found in typical American fast-food burger joints and cafeterias. One popular favorite involves a baked potato with cheddar cheese (or sour cream and chives) on top, and in New England ”smashed potatoes” (a chunkier variation of mashed potatoes, retaining the peel) have great popularity.

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Potato flakes are popular as an instant variety of mashed potatoes, which reconstitute into mashed potatoes by adding water, with butter or oil and salt to taste.

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A regional dish of central New York, salt potatoes are bite-size new potatoes boiled in water saturated with salt then served with melted butter. This photograph is from the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Syracuse, where we played one happy night.

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American Jews eat latkes (fried potato pancakes) during Hanukkah. Yum!

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A traditional Acadian dish from New Brunswick is known as poutine râpée. The Acadian poutine is a ball of grated and mashed potato, salted, sometimes filled with pork in the center, and boiled. It is commonly eaten with salt and pepper or brown sugar, and is believed to have originated from the German Klöße, prepared by early German settlers who lived among the Acadians.

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Everyone knows that many Acadians migrated from the Canary Islands and Canada to Louisiana where they became Cajuns, right?

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Poutine is a hearty serving of French fries, fresh cheese curds and hot gravy, which originated in Québec in the 1950s, and became a widespread and popular dish throughout Canada.

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In India, the most popular potato dishes are aloo ki sabzi, batata vada and samosa, which is spicy mashed potato mixed with a small amount of vegetable stuffed in conical dough, and deep fried. Potatoes are also a major ingredient as fast food items, such as aloo chaat, where they are deep fried and served with chutney. In Northern India, alu dum and alu paratha are a favorite part of the diet; the first is a spicy curry of boiled potato, the second is a type of stuffed chapati.

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A dish called masala dosa from South India is common throughout India. It is a thin pancake of rice and pulse paste rolled over spicy smashed potato and eaten with sambhar and chutney. Poori in south India in particular in Tamil Nadu is almost always taken with smashed potato masal. Other favorite dishes are alu tikki and pakoda.

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Vada pav is a popular vegetarian fast food dish in Mumbai and other regions in the Maharashtra in India.

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Aloo posto (a curry with potatoes and poppy seeds) is immensely popular in East India, especially Bengal.

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Although potatoes are not native to India, they have become a vital part of food all over the country especially North Indian food preparations. In Tamil Nadu this tuber acquired a name based on its appearance ‘urulai-k-kizhangu’ (உருளைக் கிழங்கு) meaning cylindrical tuber.

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In the southern part of East Asia, rice is by far the predominant starch crop, with potatoes a secondary crop, especially in China and Japan.

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In northern China the main crop is wheat, and rice is not easily grown. A potato dish in the north is 青椒土豆丝 (qīng jiāo tǔ dòu sī), made with green pepper, vinegar and thin slices of potato.

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Potatoes in Chinese cuisine are treated more like an ordinary vegetable than like a staple carb, and so it would not be unusual to see a potato-based dish served with rice. For the same reason, the potatoes tend to be somewhat undercooked to Western tastes.

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More vegetable like and undercooked. Both of these characteristics apply to 土豆絲 — it’s a fresh, crisp stirfry of very finely shredded potatoes that have been soaked in water before cooking, to remove as much of the starch as possible.

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In the winter, roadside sellers in northern China sell roasted potatoes.

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The Moche culture from Northern Peru made ceramics from earth, water, and fire.

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They made pottery into potatoes.

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This pottery was a sacred substance, formed in significant shapes and used to represent important themes.

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The Moche culture made their pottery into startlingly realistic scenes of everyday life and people.

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The Moche didn’t seem to have any of the self censoring mechanisms that most cultures have.

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It’s almost like having photographs of these pre Inca people.

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This used to be a punishment in the American army, putting a soldier on KP (Kitchen Patrol). I bet no one peels potatos any more. They probably blast off the skins in nuclear microwave ovens. Really, the peelings should be eaten. They’re the best part.

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Here’s how the Italians do it. They don’t call it a potato peeler, they call it a “peel potato.”

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Картошка means “potato”  in a diminuitive, endearing sense. It would be like saying “papita”  for papa in Spanish.  Vod = water in Russian. Vodka = little water.

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You can get a good kartoshka here.

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Fully loaded.

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A store in Barcelona.

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Where it’s cold, people tend to eat root crops, turnips, beets, potatoes.

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Chestnut and potato festival.

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We’ll see you next week, I hope.

Sam laura

Sam Andrew

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The Snitty, Skint and Sequacious Pettifogger Snaffles a Shunpike.

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Well, let’s see, “snitty” is shitty, being in a bad mood, cutting and evil tempered. Cutting is probably the origin of the word “snitty.” A cut is a Schnitt in German.

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This is the Savoy Ballroom in Harlem, where there was some incredible dancing being done. The place wasn’t segregated. Everybody came, and everybody had a good time. (1940s, 1950s)

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“Skint” is the British version of “skinned,” poor, without a sou, no money, broke. Actually, no one has a sou in France anymore. Well, maybe coin collectors. This unit of money, which probably came from Latin solidus has not existed for a long time. But… it’s still an expression. “He didn’t have a sou.”  He was, to put it bluntly and Britishly, skint.

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“Sequacious” is probably the term one would like least to be applied to oneself. Sequacious is related to sequence. It means a follower, someone who has a tendency to fall in line, to follow, to be obSEQuious and without conSEQuence.

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 A Pettifogger sounds like a “little fucker” to me. Petit = little and fogger = fucker, but I could be wrong.

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A pettifogger is a lawyer who does things on the cheap and the low down, not high ethically, nor any other way. That’s the initial meaning. Then “pettifogger” came to mean any petty practicioner. It stands for a mildly dishonest and mild person in every other way too, who thinks she is really getting over when she cheats you for a small sum of money. God bless these people, that is, if there is a god and she’s ready to put up with this sort of thing.

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Snaffle. This word has so many meanings. It’s a special bit that you put on a horse. It’s a sound you make when you have a cold. Not quite the sniffles, bigger, like the snaffles.

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Highwaymen in the 18th century liked to bill themselves as “snafflers.” Fielding uses that word for them, and I don’t remember any of them objecting. So “snaffle” can mean getting it on the sly, stealing.

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Shunpike is the best word here. This is where you are trying to avoid paying the toll, so you pull over onto a side road that you, as a local, know will go around the toll and take you to your goal.  You are shunning the pike.

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The term shunpike in our new California freeway life has come to mean the motorist who cuts off the freeway into a local residential area to avoid traffic in one of those horrendous commutes that we all know and love.

aaron

Never put off until tomorrow what you can forget about entirely.

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So, then, let us parse this title once again:  ”The Snitty, Skint and Sequacious Pettifogger Snaffles a Shunpike”  =  The ill tempered, poor, and conformist petty practitioner steals a ride on the frontage road.

anaconda

It’s a strange phrase, but there is a certain poetry to it.

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Both sentences are more than a little idiotic, right?  But not as idiotic as James Dean punching Rock Hudson in the, if you’ll pardon the expression, balls.

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Why can’t a snorer hear herself snore?

baterista

The life of a drummer:  How the bass player sees me. The singer sees me like this. The guitarist sees me like this. My sweetheart sees me like this. What I think I do. What I always do.

beat

Hah! You think this is a joke, right?  Being in a band?  This is an understatement.

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Beluga whales live in the ice, so what are they going to do? They’re going to have fun with ice, right?  Looks like a lot of fun too.

Ben Chealsea

Ben Nieves (Nieves means snows, by the way.) and Chealsea Dawn. I love this photograph.  This is when we were at The Cutting Room, New York City. It was hot that night, in more ways than one.  I almost passed out.

bonne nuit

Oh, my father was the keeper of the Eddystone light, he slept with a mermaid one fine night. From this union there came three, A porpoise, and a porgy, and the other was me.

bubbles

Now I’m at the place in life where I look just as good standing on my head as I do right side up.

bulgaria

Laura Dern was bullied at school because her father, Bruce Dern, was the only person to “kill” John Wayne in the movies.  Janis Joplin called her publishing company Fantality, which she said meant fantasy and reality. People very easily confuse the two.

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The fathers of Harry Houdini, Erich Segal, Jackie Mason, Isaac Asimov and my friend Amos who lives right here in the San Geronimo Valley were all rabbis, although Amos’ father was a rabbi in a funny  place, Albuquerque, New Mexico.  Well, it’s a funny place to me anyway

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Probably not that funny to Amos.  After all, Walter White lived in Albuquerque, and I attended Holy Ghost School there for the eighth grade. Hey, it was important to me, and I won the prize there for being the “most musical boy at Holy Ghost.”  This was because I sang Palomita in Spanish. Sometimes it doesn’t take much.

odell

Three stages in life:   youth, middle age, and “Hey, you’re looking good.”

charles

chealsea

You can get a DUI (DWI) when you’re riding a horse. A horse is a vehicle.

cicada

This is a new cicada. They’re green when they’re new.  Don’t it make my brown eyes blue?

cjs

This isn’t the new Christy minstrels, but it could be.  That wouldn’t be a güiro there with the tambourine, would it?

cliffhouse

Cocaine Bill and Morphine Sue,   walking hand in hand down the avenue,   Oh, honey won’t you have a little (sniff) on me, have a (sniff) on me.

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Having children is like having a bowling alley installed in your brain.

compute

“Singapore” means City of the Lion.  Many, many people in the Punjab have the surname Singh, and I think it means “lion” there too. And let’s not forget Singha Beer from Thailand.

cop

The Golden Hinde, Sir Francis Drake’s famous three-master, was smaller than a modern tugboat.

costa

Buy the worst home on the best street.

cuore

Hijinks is the only word in English with three dotted letters in a row.

dale r

We’re all in this alone.

dawn

The Romans had three different types of kiss: basium, the kiss on the lips;  osculum, a friendly kiss on the cheek; and suavium, the kiss that the French say they invented.

desert doors

A philematophobe is someone who hates to be kissed. So, someone who likes to be kissed is probably a philematophile, and someone who really likes to be kissed could be a philematophiliac.

dre nis

Your left foot is probably just a tiny bit bigger than your right foot.

eagle owl

Judy Garland, Lenny Bruce and Elvis Presley died on the loo. George III died after falling off the loo.

eileen julie

“You must know that it is by the state of the lavatory that a family is judged.”   (Pope John XXIII)

eliane manu

Eat anything you want.  Just don’t swallow it.

elk

More men feel comfortable doing “public speaking,” while more women feel comfortable doing “private speaking.”

Erika & B Haley

Why attack god?  She could be as miserable as we are.

eruption

Imagine the painting in a museum, the stupidities it hears day in and day out.

evie

Monopoly: the person who makes the most deals wins.

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For a short interval you can lift twice your weight.  For a long distance you can carry half your weight uncomfortably or one fourth your weight comfortably.

feliz

What makes me happy at this time is the affection shared with the people who fill my life.

frack

franca

We are an idealistic people and we’ll make any sacrifice for any cause that won’t cost us anything.

gandhi sandhi

Sandy Gandhi.

gelada

Hoc erat in votis: modus agri non ita magnus,  Hortus ubi et tecto vicinus iugis aquae fons  Et paulum silvae super his foret.

GGate

This was in my prayers:  a parcel of land not so very large, which would have a garden and ever flowing water near the house and a bit of woods added to this.  (Horace wrote this long ago. We actually have these things and you can almost see them in this photograph.)

gin

Shoes: the earliest Anglo-Saxon term was sceo, “to cover,” which eventually became in the plural schewis, then shooys, and finally shoes.

glee

Barley cleans cholesterol from the blood.

god

Open marriage is nature’s way of telling you that you need a divorce.

guitar

hailey

You get a line and I’ll get a pole, We’ll go down to the crawdad hole, Honey, sugar baby mine.

honeymoon

To play in New York City bars, you need 45 minutes of original music, and, please, no ballads after midnight.

husband

Some people are like hit songs. They only last for three minutes.

ice

Every musician, however modest, keeps a most outrageous ego chained like a monster madman in the padded cell of his/her breast.

ingle

Nothing is more remarkable about this generation than its addiction to music.

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“Rosary” meaning “wreath of roses” first appeared in fifteenth century Europe, but the practice of reciting prayers on a string of knots or beads goes back to the Indic priests of the Middle East before 500 BCE.  The Sanskrit for rosary is the “remembrancer.”

irving

A tart temper never mellows with age, and a sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use.

japanese

I don’t understand this at all.  Do you understand this?

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Brutality to an animal is cruelty to us all.

Jimi Buddy

Once upon a time there were no pockets. One convenient place for a man in the 1500s to carry his personal effects was in his codpiece, which was originally a opening, or fly, to his trousers. It was the fashion that the fastened flap be stuffed (à la Spinal Tap) and so it became an ideal place to carry keys and valuables wrapped in a cloth.

jota eme

karen c

You may talk about your kings of Gideon,  You may talk about your men of Saul,  But there’s none like good old Joshua,  At the battle of Jericho.

kusakabe

When nosing your car to a wall, turn on your high beams and look at the reflection on the wall as you slowly move closer. When the brightest part falls out of view, you are close enough.

look

Deer sleep only five minutes a day.

mad

mas bonitas

Ahhh, patriotism:   Welcome to the city of Allen Capital of the Pera and of the PRETTIEST WOMEN IN THE WORLD.

mazers

Phyllis Schlafly speaks for all women who oppose equal rights for themselves.

mel

Don’t be stupid, be a smartie, come and join the Nazi party.

men

montaña

The guy who said, “Two can live as cheaply as one,”  has a lot of explaining to do.

moon

Which doesn’t fit with the rest:  AIDS, herpes, gonorrhea, condominiums.   Gonorrhea.  You can get rid of gonorrhea.

mouth

mutt

I am invariably and have been since adolescence inimical to the Republican mind which shows at the most inflated size the bad qualities of the bourgeoisie rather than the good qualities of the middle class which the Democrats call forth.     Janet Flanner.

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Rosario was a name that puzzled me at first. It sounds masculine but it is a name for women in the Hispanic culture. It means “rosary,” of course.  Maybe Rocío (dew) is a woman’s name too.

neal

If you need to locate a stud in a stick-framed wall, keep in mind that most electricians are right-handed. Find an outlet and tap the wall directly to its left to find the stud. You can measure away from it in 16-inch increments to find the others.

Nercedes Benz

Oh, Lord, won’t you buy me this Mercedes Benz.

neut

Hey, it’s Neut Gangrich!

Alessia

Alessia Cianetti.

nicolette

So, here’s to a glass of whiskey,  Here’s to a good glass of beer,  They’re not half as sweet as a maiden’s kiss, But a damn sight more sincere.

norbert

Life is too short to worry about what someone else thinks or says. So have fun and give them something to talk about. Their own lives are probably too boring.

nurse violinists

Forks did not come into general use until quite recently, the eighteenth century. Up until then, the lower classes ate with five fingers and the upper classes ate with three. A little earlier than this a Venetian noblewoman had the effrontery to use a fork and she died ten days later. Some said it was because of the plague but the clergymen, holy and Christian as always, said it was because the woman used a fork.

Sandra Fabie-Gfeller

Quand vous serez bien vieille, au soir, à la chandelle,  Assise auprès du feu, dévidant et filant,  Direz, chantant mes vers, en vous émerveillant, Ronsard me célébrait du temps que j’étais belle.

owl

When you are very old, in the evening, seated by the candle near the fire, winding and spinning, You will say, singing my  verses and marveling, Ronsard celebrated me when I was beautiful.

paz

Let’s make peace.

pee

Oops, clothing catastrophe, wardrobe wackiness, peenie peeking.

Philosophie

I’d like to be as tired at night as I am in the morning.

pile on

A silk fiber is triangular. It reflects light in the same manner as a prism. That’s why silk cloth shines.

pinki

Beauty, real beauty, is a serious matter. If there is a god, she must be beautiful.

pinnipeds

He sank beneath the icy waves, He sank down into the sea; No living thing wept a tear for him, Save that lonely willow tree.

Politiker

Hi, I’m 40 years old, a politician and an honorable and upright person.   Hi, Sweetheart. I’m a prostitute, 35 years old and still a virgin.

maggie-sam-james-plaque1-225x300

In the 1830s a popular patent medicine was “Dr. Miles’ Compound Extract of Tomato.”  It was ketchup.

pollyanna bush

The Catcher in the Rye (J.D. Salinger) was banned in Boron, California, in 1989 because of the word goddamn. This is probably the most famous work of fiction never to have been turned into a feature film.

post

pour

Pedantry:  stupidity that read a book.

rabbit

Advice that is most likely rarely followed:   To protect your eyes from strain, make sure the screen is just beyond arm’s length.

rear

Shrouds don’t have pockets.  Enjoy your money while you can.

record collection

Why are clams so secretive?     They’re shellfish.

richtigen Weg

Cemetery.      We’re headed in the right direction.

rock art

Heads or Tails Resuscitation:    If the face is red, raise the head.  If the face is pale, raise the tail.

rock

rushless

Mount Rushless

sand

Danish pastry, German measles, Brazil nuts, Mexican standoff, Dutch uncle, Russian roulette, Chinese fire drill, Swiss cheese, Hong Kong flu, Grecian urn, Singapore sling, Turkish baths, Indian food, French kisses, Maltese cross, Italian style, Panama hat, Spanish flu… ahhh, world music.

Schloss

When I was apprenticed in London, I went to see my dear, The candles all were burning, the moon shone bright and clear, I knocked upon her window to ease her of her pain, She rose to let me in, then she barred the door again.

Schrödinger

Selbst ?

In a world where everyone wants to make you into something else, the greatest success is to be yourself.

serena

Oysters are supposed to enhance your sexual prowess, but they don’t do much for me.  Maybe I put them on too soon?

serge

Come kiss me quick and make me whole, You’re good for my body, good for my soul.

sluggo

spiritual

Gladness, not madness.

Sprache

We all laugh in the same language.

rebel

The animal that lives the longest, the giant turtle, eats no meat.

steve

Cleveland was originally spelled Cleaveland, but a headline writer needed to cram the word in a one-column width, so that’s all she wrote.

sun

She didn’t write against the piano, but she didn’t write for it either.

sur

This is an interesting book. I’m not sure if it’s available in English. I did an interview in French for it at the Café des Deux Magots, once the trysting tipple for Simone de Beauvoir and Jean-Paul Sartre.

tara tom

Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita.   Dante.   In the middle of the road of  our life.

theda

Little Boy Blue, Come blow your horn, The sheep’s in the meadow, The cow’s in the corn…  The boy blue was Cardinal Wolsey (Wolsey may have been originally woolsey) who, after a meteoric rise to power and wealth, was dashed down by Henry VIII after he failed to persuade Pope Clement VII to grant Henry an annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon. Wolsey, as a boy in Ipswich, tended to his father’s sheep.

there

timmy

El Caballero de la Triste Figura.    The Knight of the Doleful Countenance.

tipple

“Who Ate Napoleons with Josephine When Bonaparte Was Away?”  Ahh, they just don’t write song titles like that anymore.

gretchen

A finger ring was used for weddings in the Third Dynasty of the Old Kingdom of Egypt, around 2800 BCE. To the Egyptians, a circle, having no beginning and no end, signified eternity.

tirer la langue

Why are they sticking out their tongues? Am I making them drool? My Wolves, how I love them… live!

tp

I’ll sing you a song, a good song of the sea, To me way, aye, blow the man down; And trust that you’ll join in the chorus with me, Give me some time to blow the man down.

train

Half of the amount of laundry detergent recommended by the manufacturer is plenty. This rule also applies to toothpaste.

tune

twit

Ich kenne mich auch nicht und Gott soll mich auch davor behüten.  Goethe.

venezia

I do not know myself and god forbid that I should.

vessel

Canada’s east coast is closer to London than to Victoria, British Columbia.

vinyl

volumes

Home is the place where my books are.

w güiro

The bayonet was invented in Bayonne, France, early in the 17th century.  Napoleon said you could do anything with a bayonet but sit on it.

war

wasteland

Je veux qu’il n’y ait si pauvre paysan en mon royaume qu’il n’ait tous les dimanches sa poule au pot.   Henri IV (1553-1610)

sea

I want there to be no peasant in my kingdom so poor that he is unable to have a chicken in his pot every Sunday.

way

The world belongs to the passionate person who can keep calm.

wedding

If today were a fish, I’d throw it back in.

whitney

I know a woman who plays an excellent piano.  It’s a Steinway.

ann

Guns are not the real problem.  The real problem is bullets.

Wickert

Never let a computer know you’re in a hurry.

yorkshire

People become conservative when they lose their hair, their juice and make a little money. They’re tired and rich and they don’t want to take any more chances.

z güiro

In an average lifetime one expands one’s vocabulary to 50,000 words, it says here.  I say I have expanded mine far more than that, and so have many people I know. And that’s just in English. I have often wondered whether learning other languages counts as adding to one’s vocabulary. If it does, then that would change everything, because, my vocabulary in French is almost as large as it is in English. Of course this is considerably helped by the fact that many words in French and English are the same… particularly the long and “difficult” or scientific words.

z samantha leoni

Take gynécologie, for example.  It wouldn’t take a genius to see what that means in English. But, if you take a small “practical,” common word like “wrench” (clef) or “tack” (semence), these are more difficult to learn, even if they are related somehow poetically to the English word.

Sam Jimmy

What is important in learning languages is to see the relationship among words in every language. That relationship is almost always there waiting to be discovered. Zahn is “tooth” in German. It is the same word from the same parent as the DEN in dental. That’s the relationship. It takes a bit of study and thought to see that relationship, and many others like it, but the time spent is well worth it. Zahn = dent = diente = dónti (Greek). All these words come from the same Sanskrit mother.

zandra

Many complain of their looks, but few of their brains.

IMG_2138

I’m going down the road feeling bad, I’m going down the road feeling bad, I’m going down the road feeling bad, Lord, Lord, And I ain’t gonna be treated this away.

zipa

Effortless prose takes about three or four rewrites. For me, more.

1 german articles

1 Lindsay Casanova Nathalie Delahousse

The British dramatist Richard Brinsley Sheridan told his son that he was cutting him out of his will and leaving him just a shilling. His son’s reaction was, “I’m sorry to hear that, sir. You don’t happen to have the shilling about you now, do you?”

1 paula baldassarri

Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility, Teutonic counterpart of the Latin goddess Venus or Greek Aphrodite. When the Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the Devil, a gathering of thirteen, and plotted evil turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was called the “Witches Sabbath.”

barbara holden

Never wear a hat that has more character than you do.

kathryn grayson

Kathryn Grayson.

buzz

victoria smith

You ought to see my Cindy, She lives way down south; She’s so sweet the honey bees Swarm around her mouth. Get along home, Cindy, Cindy, Get along home, Cindy, Cindy, Get along home, Cindy, Cindy, I’ll marry you some day.

write on

leslie feffer

A titillomaniac is a person who is obsessed with scratching.

Kevin Dillon

Ira furor brevis est.  (Horace)  Anger is a short madness.

danielle

If you are happy, you will be good.

167251_1837041562766_4492850_n

An Arab is one who speaks Arabic, that’s all. Arabs are of numerous races, religions and nations.

oceana rain stuart

Much surviving prehistoric art consists of small portable sculptures.

VenusWillendorf 24 k bce

Take, for example, the group of female Venus figurines (Venus of Willendorf 24,000–22,000 BCE) found across central Europe.

Lion_man 30 k bce

The 30 centimeter tall Lion man of the Hohlenstein Stadel of about 30,000 BCE seems to be unique.

Sam Andrew sculpture Two heads Sunnyvale

I made these heads in the Silicon Valley in the 1980s.

Magdalenian_horse 15 k bce

The Magdalenian horse head of about 15,000 BCE is one of the carvings of animals from the Upper Paleolithic.  It’s beautiful, isn’t it?

salmon-sculpture-oregon

I have salmon in my creek too.

shark building

But not sharks.

linda

Christians have burnt each other, killed each other, cheated each other, lied to each other, thrown each other out of homes, out of marriages, out of families, quite convinced that Jesus would have done as they did.  After they do these things, they like to lecture people about how to live their lives.

574916_4470620731499_1554663580_n

The world is a madhouse, so it’s only fitting that it is patrolled by armed imbeciles and governed by unprincipled administrators.

silke

Flying?  I’ve been to almost as many places as my guitar.

10590_525733174158215_266379529_n

People didn’t really wear underwear until around the 1830s. They began wearing underwear in the way we think of underwear due to a. Victorian prudishness, b. the introduction of finer, lighter dress fabrics, and c. the medical profession’s growing awareness of germs.

prima laurea

When Italians graduate from, say, university, they don’t wear the cap and mortarboard as we do. They wear the laurel leaves (bay leaves), a plant sacred to Apollo, the god of learning. That’s why we say “She earned her laurels that day.”  This is my friend Antea Salmaso. She has just earned her Laurea triennale (BA). Now she is studying for the Laurea magistrale (MA). After that, she will be an interpreter/translator, or she could choose to go for the PhD (Dottorato di Ricerca).

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amy

The first motion picture theatre, The Electric Theatre, which opened 2 April 1902 on Main Street in Los Angeles, charged a dime for admission.

1000513_619842548039643_1367879804_n

Ecuador is Hummingbird Heaven.  There are 163 species of hummingbird there.

annica

Donald Duck had a middle name.  It was Fauntleroy.

a great broads

Elise Piliwale & Lynn Asher

Lynn Asher and Elise Piliwale

James-Gurley-Michel-Bastian-choochoo

Michel Bastian and James Gurley

Lisa Battle

Lisa Battle

Francesca Capasso

Francesca Capasso

Kacee Clanton

Kacee Clanton

Mary Bridget Davies, le due Marie, Brendola

Mary Bridget Davies

Tom Finch, Houston Person, Sam Andrew, Halley DeVestern

Halley DeVestern (with Tom Finch and Bernard Purdie)

Sam-Andrew-Melissa-Etheridge-Maritime-273x300

Melissa Etheridge

Darby-Cathy

Darby Gould and Cathy Richardson

Valerie-Johnson

Valerie Johnson

Sam Janis never seen

Janis Joplin

Kitto

Kitto

Nina McCollum

Nina McCollum

6144575

Kathi McDonald

Lisa Mills

Lisa Mills

Jane Myrenget

Jane Myrenget

Kristina Kopriva-Rehling

Kristina Kopriva Rehling

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

Wendy Rich

Ben Nieves, Sophia Ramos, Whippany

Sophia Ramos and Ben Nieves

Kate Russo

Kate Russo

Lana Spence

Lana Spence

Maria Stanford

Maria Stanford

Geri Verdi

Geri Verdi

new wave divas

Fivepiece

Fivepiece.

elise tiburon

Thank you for being here.

baby # 5

Sam Andrew  (baby # 5)

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