We Are All Related

Wilhelmina Andrew, Sam Andrew, one year

We Are All Related.

we are all related

Not only are we related to other people, we are also related to all other known life on the planet.

Max Clarke photograph

janis playcasr

If you are ever at a party and some bright person says, “I am related to Janis Joplin, hold up your hand and respond cheerfully, “I am too!

You are, you know, and more closely related to her than you might think.           Photo:   Max Clarke


I read this the other day:    Every American president is in some way related to our nation’s preeminent Founding Father George Washington.


Of course this is true.  This is one of those statements that masks the fact that we are ALL related to every American president, to George Washington and to each other. If we wanted to be serious about it (but no one, and I mean no one, wants to look at it this way) people that feature in videos on sites like www.dosexvideo.com read more into other adult sites also, are technically committing incest? No matter how many generations apart.

mari red chalk

It’s just a matter of numbers.


I have written elsewhere, and it only seems to be common sense, to realize that we are all incredible winners just to be here.


Think about it.  You are the result of millions of couplings, all of them successful.                           Photo: Max Clarke

Roxsana kladis aroma café june

Your ancestors lived long enough to procreate, and I am talking about all of your ancestors going all the way back to something like 3.5 billion years ago.


You are the happy result of a long, long chain of lucky chances, felicitous opportunities, good weather, excellent timing, timing down to the second, timing down to the split second.

Janis and ed

You have two parents.

Elise favorite photo

And each parent has two parents.

So you have four grandparents and eight great grandparents.

You can see that it doesn’t take a long climb up the family tree for you to be connected to a large number of people.


We’re only talking about parents here. Not uncles, aunts, cousins and other collateral relatives.

I have written about Samuel David Andrew, a man who fought in the Civil War, and who lost an arm at the battle of the Wilderness, one of the many Sam Andrews in our family going back for hundreds of years.

elise bratislava

Just tracing my lineage back back to Samuel David Andrew means I have to keep track of 250 people, parents, grandparents, great grandparents straight back in a line to him, and he only lived a hundred years ago.


Two hundred and fifty mothers and fathers and their mothers and fathers and their mothers and fathers in only eight generations back to, say, 1840.


If you trace your own lineage back to 1600, which is relatively recent, it’s the modern era, just counting your mother and father and their mothers and fathers and so on, you will find that your family tree is a bit crowded. There are now 16,384 people who are directly responsible for you.

Sam andrew tommy castro san rafael

Think of all that love, all that intrigue, all that monkey business, all of those human relations, all that human intercourse.   Photo: Max Clarke


Let’s see, half of 16,384 is 8,192.  Eight thousand, one hundred and ninety two women met 8,192 men since 1600, and they carried on in such a manner as to result in you.


That’s a lot of kinfolk. And we’re only talking about four hundred years here.

chronicle hotel 93 mission st

In Elizabethan England, there were, in the entire country, only about three, four million people, the population of the San Francisco Bay Area now. You could be related to all of them. You ARE related to all of them.      Photo:   Max Clarke


Samuel David Andrew lived eight generations before you.

Mélodie dupont sam andrew

Twenty generations before you the number of people who were amorous, lecherous or whatever on your behalf reaches 1,048,576.

not there


Photo:   Max Clarke

jimi hen

Each of those million plus couplings had to be successful to result in this little boy who turned out to be Jimi Hendrix.

22 july how river spirit

Each of those million plus people had to be not murdered before the magic moment of procreation that resulted in you, not diseased and infertile, not smashed flat by an errant boulder, not killed in a war, each of the million plus people had to live to an age of fertility and procreate successfully.  That’s an amazing chain of good luck.


Think about the people we have seen disappear in our own lifetimes, Jimi Hendrix being one of them. Life is fragile. It’s not easy living long enough to make the next generation.


If you look on your family tree back to the time of, say, Julius Caesar, and just count your mother and father, and all of their mothers and fathers, the number of people who have resulted in you becomes one million trillion.

Ann rinehart

You are intimately related to one million trillion people.  That’s more people than have ever lived. By far.

ant knee red vic

How is that possible?

Blumenfeld roy

Lots of incest.  Most of it not illegal or immoral, although there was doubtlessly much of that too.

Catalina and linda

No, when you’re related to that many people, that means that each of those people are related to that many people too, so it won’t be long before you’re engaging meaningfully with a more or less closely related person.

Angeline saris

To put it another way, you are most likely related to the person who is your significant other. Indeed, it would be unusual if that were not the case.

Sam & kathy diagonal

To put it still another way, if you walk into, say, Yoshi’s nightclub on Fillmore and Eddy in San Francisco, take a good look around because you are related to everyone in there.



These considerations give the phrase ‘We are all one’ a whole new meaning.

Hotel chianti du chitarre


There is a family in Georgia, a big family, and their name is Bembry. Some are African American and some are not.  I am related to all of them.

little hoekstra

So are you. Probably not as closely as I am, but they’re your kin too.



If we are related to one million trillion people counting back to Caesar’s time, and after all, that is not really a long time in the general scheme of things, we are related to everyone, not only who lives now, but who has ever lived.

Samuel david andrew (1839-1885)

Saints, scoundrels, heroes, villains, holy women, hypocrites, Roundheads, Cavaliers, Guelphs, Ghibellines, Visigoths, Suebi, they’re all family.


There was an old song that had a line, ‘Duke’s son, cook’s son, son of a hundred kings.’   Just so.


In the Middle Ages, people sang, “When Adam delved and Eve span, who was then the gentleman?


Genetically we are 99.9 % the same.


You have probably read that we are 95% the same as chimpanzees, so, there you go, we are related to them too.



But humans?  It is thought that we all come from an original population of about 10,000 individuals.


Quale sarebb la rock-band ideale?

We are extraordinarily alike.  There is more genetic variety in a large troop of baboons than there is in the entire human species.

Sam sophia

Mitakuye Oyasin (All Are Related) is phrase in the Lakota language, which reflects the world view of interconnectedness held by the Lakota people.

paint 1

The phrase translates as “all my relatives, “we are all related, or “all my relations.


Every person on earth’s most recent common ancestor might have died less than 2,000 years ago.

clap mitch len rich


There simply aren’t enough ancestors for each of us NOT to be related.



It’s quite common for people to have the same great-grandparents or great-great-grandparents.


Some geneticists believe we’re all at least 50th cousins to everyone else on this planet.


Is there a single common ancestor that every person on earth shares?


In a discussion such as this there are three different ‘common ancestors’ to consider.

samuel andrew gravestone

There is the most recent common ancestor, a random individual who happens to be the latest person who connects to everyone.

Photo:   Max Clarke


Mitochondrial DNA is a distinct subset of genetic material found not in the cell nucleus but rather in the mitochondria, the power plants of the cell.


Female egg cells completely destroy the mitochondria in the male sperm cell shortly after fertilization, leaving only the female mitochondria behind.


Thus, there is a ‘mitochondrial Eve’ who passed down her mitochondria relatively unchanged to every human alive today.



Every female alive today will continue to pass down her mitochondria indefinitely.


Mitochondrial Eve lived about 200,000 years ago.


We know this from tracking the mutations to the mitochondrial DNA and establishing which human groups are most closely related.


What about Adam?

Snooky george’s

Only men have a Y-chromosome. Fathers pass it on to their sons, which allows geneticists to trace patrilineal descent in much the same way that mitochondrial DNA allows us to trace matrilineal descent.

a y

Genetic evidence suggests that Y-chromosomal Adam lived about 90,000 to 60,000 years ago, much more recently than mitochondrial Eve.

Whatever language we speak, whatever color of our skin, we share ancestors who were slaves in Egypt, farmers in the Yangtse delta, horsemen on the steppes, farm women in North and South America.   Photo:   Max Clarke


A substantial proportion of men in the world are direct descendants of Genghis Khan. They carry Y chromosomes which seem to have come down from an individual who lived approximately 1,000 years ago.


Genghis Khan died ~750 years ago, so assuming 25 years per generation, you get about 30 men between the present and that period. In more quantitative terms, ~10% of the men who reside within the borders of the Mongol Empire as it was at the death of Genghis Khan may carry his Y chromosome, and so ~0.5% of men in the world, about 16 million individuals alive today, do so.


By the way, I just read today that four out of ten Americans believe that we descended from Adam and Eve ten thousand years ago.


Please let that be an inaccurate poll.

tara coyote


Our human family is growing rapidly.


In 1800, about one billion people lived in the world.  This number had doubled by 1930, tripled by 1960, and officially reached six billion in October 1999. The world population is now over seven billion and rapidly climbing.


Because of this population explosion, everyone alive today shares recent common ancestors.



The average marriage in Europe is between sixth cousins, who share a great, great, great, great, great grandparent. However, this varies a lot from place to place, and people living in isolated communities will be more closely related.

buscando la mujer ideal

new morning

We all share the same ancestors multiple times.


The awareness of our ancestors is limited to a few generations so we have difficulty believing that all of us in the world are connected.


The populating of the planet by our ancestors was accomplished progressively outward from a region situated between the Middle East, North Africa, and East Africa. Thus, all contemporary human beings are descended from immigrants.


It is an illusion that there are races. The diversity of human beings is so great and so complicated that it is impossible to classify seven billion individuals into discrete ‘races.’


The term race refers to a difference of origin which is non-existent for humans.


Ancient peoples stigmatized ‘others’ on the grounds of language, custom, class, and especially religion, but they did not sort people according to physical differences.


The concept of race is a recent invention, only a few hundred years old.


It is worth keeping in mind that, though we are all related, each of us is unique. Eighty billion human beings more or less have lived on Earth over the time since our common origin. With the exception of true identical twins, never have any two among them have had exactly the same genetic heritage.


The number of different possible human individuals is many times greater than the number of atoms in the universe.


And now for some really deep and close relationships.


A light photon in Cleveland will start spinning in one direction and another light photon in Melbourne will instantly begin spinning in another direction.

Photo: Max Clarke


These photons are said to be entangled.


Talk about being closely related.


Photograph:        Max Clarke


A Combination of the Two:   Entanglement of light photons

light photon

Quantum entanglement, whereby two or more objects are linked by an unseen connection can be thought of as a pair of dice that always land on the same number.


It is possible to prepare two particles in a single quantum state such that when one is observed to be spin-up, the other one will always be observed to be spin-down and vice versa.


It is, however, impossible to predict, according to quantum mechanics, which set of measurements will be observed.

Photo:    Max Clarke


Measurements performed on one system seem to be instantaneously influencing other systems entangled with it.


Quantum entanglement has applications in the emerging technologies of quantum computing and quantum cryptography, and has been used to realize quantum teleportation experimentally.


One of the most intriguing aspects of entanglement is this quantum teleportation, in which the quantum state of a particle or atom is transferred to its entangled partner, even if they are separated physically.

teleportation of different sizes

Such relaying of quantum information could form the backbone of long-distance quantum communication channels.


This network, however, is a long way from being realized.


A group of researchers have made headway in quantum teleportation, and thus communication. The team, led by physics graduate student Steven Olmschenk at the University of Maryland, College Park, succeeded in teleporting quantum information between ytterbium ions (charged atoms) one meter apart.


Quantum teleportation has been demonstrated across macroscopic distances (hundreds of meters) for photons, the fundamental particles of electromagnetic radiation, but ions are better candidates for quantum memory because they can store information for relatively long periods of time.


The fundamental advantage of quantum information systems is that whereas a conventional digital bit can be 0 or 1, a qubit can be in a so-called superposition of 0 and 1 simultaneously.


Normally, you have to collect particles that come from the object to image it, says Anton Zeilinger, a physicist at the Austrian Academy of Sciences in Vienna. “Now, for the first time, you don’t have to do that. Two photons need not be of the same energy, Zeilinger says, meaning that the light that touches the object can be of a different color than the light that is detected.


Thus, we are all entangled in ways that we have not even imagined. We are all related.

native american

For in the final analysis, our most basic common link is that we all inhabit this small planet. We all breathe the same air. We all cherish our children’s futures. And we are all mortal.    John F. Kennedy


Sam Andrew         Your cousin


The Greek Language

The Greek Language


with the fox be a fox

With the fox, be a fox.


Νομω πειθου       Obey the law.


Γνωθι μαθων      Know what you have learned.     These short maxims are Delphic truths, somewhat similar to the Ten Commandments, but without the I Am The Lord Thy God And I Will Spank You quality of the Decalogue.

Where there's hope

τί κοινότατον; Ἐλπίς. Καὶ γὰρ οἷς ἄλλο μηδέν, αὔτη παρέστη.   What is common? Hope. When all is gone, there is still Hope.


Ακουσας νοει     Perceive what you have heard.


Have you ever noticed how small Europe is when you’re looking at a globe?  Greenland is almost as large as Europe.  By the way, note that Greenland is ice, and Iceland is green.


For all the impact that it has made on human history, Europe is small compared to… well, compared to almost any other land, really.


And then look how small Greece is compared to Europe. Can you even see it?


And yet for us Greece is where it all began.


Καιρον γνωθι           Know your opportunity.


All license plate photographs courtesy of Max Clarke.


Σεαυτον αιδου       Respect yourself.

alpha kai omega

I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last.


ashley on the street

Ατυχουντι συναχθου     Share the load of the unfortunate.


Φιλοφρονει πασιν         Deal kindly with everyone.


Ψεγε μηδενα         Find fault with no one.

greek words in greek

Some Greek words:    Water (hydro, hydor), philosopher, Christ (the annointed one), psyche, ocean, eucharist (thanks, gratitude).


Άνθρωπος αγράμματος, ξύλο απελέκητο.     An uneducated person is like wood uncarved.


City of children


And we write those words with an alphabet that we received from the Greeks.

Andy John

Φιλιαν αγαπα       Love friendship.

Periander son of kypselos corinthian

Periander  (son) of Kypselos Korinthios (Corinthian)


Before the alphabet was Greek, it was a series of images for the Phoenicians.


Σοφιαν ζηλου          Long for wisdom.


Later these images came to designate syllables instead of a picture of one thing. This was a major advance in human thought.

bathing suits

Μανθανων μη καμνε          Do not tire of learning.


Aleph was originally a picture of an ox and it meant ox. It was only later that aleph came to stand for the sound of A.


Beth or bet, originally a picture of a house, came to represent the sound of B.  B for bathing.

bathing 1919

Υφορω μηδενα         Don’t look down on anyone.


Gimel, the third image in the Phoenician syllabary, was originally a drawing of a camel. We are reading right to left here, because, after all, this is an eastern script, but actually the people at that time wrote right to left, left to right, or they wrote each line as an ox would plow a field, right to left in one line and left to right in the next.


This way of writing is called boustrophedon, which literally means ox turning, as she would do at the end of a furrow.


D    daleth


Τεχνη χρω            Use your skill.


door     It could be a door in a tent.   D     The Greeks called it delta.


Απ’ έξω κούκλα κι από μέσα πανούκλα.       Outside doll, inside plague.  See the word for doll, κούκλα?  There was once a television program called Kukla, Fran and Ollie. Kukla came from the Greek word for doll κούκλα.


Γαμειν μελλε        Intend to get married.

gnosce te ipsum

Know yourself.   GNOTHI SAUTON. In Latin, Gnosce te ipsum. Notice that the S in SAUTON looks like a C.

studio 54 1982

When the Russian language adopted the Greek alphabet, this C was used for S.  My name in Russian looks like C3M. Sem. Studio 54.


The Greeks decided to visit the côte d’azur quite early in their history.


The azure coast.


Antibes was founded in the 4th century BCE  by  a colony of Phoenicians established in Marseilles.


The name Antibes was originally Antipolis, which meant opposite the city, facing the city, in Greek. Anti  opposite and Polis city.


Naples was originally nea polis, new city.  Every language has a phrase for new town. Newton. In Russian it’s Novgorod.  In Spain, Cartagena was a corruption of the Roman Carthago Nova, new Carthage, and Carthage itself meant ‘new town’ in Phoenician.

accordion violin

Αγαθους τιμα         Honor good men.

map of Grenoble

Grenoble was once called Gratianopolis, the city of Gratian, a Roman emperor from the fourth century of our era.


Επαινει αρετην                 Praise virtue.


Saint-Tropez was originally known as Athenopolis, city of Athena.


Ευλογει παντας            Speak well of everyone.


Palermo was once Panormos, derived from Greek pan all, everything, and ormos, meaning a port.


See that town at the top of the map above, Lamezia Terme? Big Brother and the Holding Company flew into that town recently (September 2014) to do a gig in Catanzaro, which is on the Ionian Sea, a beautiful hilltop city only about twenty-five kilometers away from Lamezia Terme. The city between two seas (Mediterranean and Ionian).  This entire region was Magna Graecia, great Greece. There are still towns here in Catania where people speak Greek.


The Greeks called her principality Héraklês monoikos, Hercules, the Solitary, because the strongman had a temple in Monaco (monoikos).


Nice is Nike. The entire settlement was dedicated to Thêa Nikaia, goddess of victory.


This film is called Anthony and Cleopatra in English. In Greek it is something like Under the Shadow of the Pyramids. Do you see who’s starring in it?   Tsarlton Eston (Charlton Heston).  You can pry my spear from my cold, dead hands.


Καλον ευ λεγε              Praise the good


Tripoli, a town on the Peloponnesian peninsula, where Big Brother and the Holding Company played in 2009, was once called treis polis, three cities.


 Ευπροσηγορος γινου         Be courteous.                                                               Photo:   Max Clarke


Από την πόλη έρχομαι, και στην κορφή κανέλα.       From the city I come and cinnamon on the mountain.     This is a nonsensical, surreal phrase, but the word κανέλα (cinnamon) is interesting because it came down into Spanish.

dark eyed family

Ομιλει πραως               Live together meekly.


There is a restaurant in Tucson called El Güero Canelo which means the paleface cinnamon, or, as we would say, the strawberry blonde. Let’s face it, it basically means ‘honky.’  Anyway that canelo, canela in the Greek saying above is a direct descendent of κανέλα, cinnamon.

greek all about my mother

All About My Mother


Φιλοις βοηθει                     Help your friends.

Lynda Carter Debra Wingere

Beautiful women.  Do you recognize them?


Αρχε σεαυτου                 Control yourself.

Eliz filled with holy ghost

Elizabeth filled with the holy spirit.  See the word pneúmatos? That means spirit, which is close to respiration, breath, pneuma.  Our tires are pneumatic because they are filled with air.


  • Το κουκλάκι μας     une belle
    Σαυτον ισθι                   This is another way to say Know yourself.



Photo:     Polly Belinda Rendall


Roughly four thousand years ago, the first Indo Europeans settled in the Peloponnesian peninsula.


These were Myceneans, Ionians, Dorians, Achaeans and other Greek tribes.


They brought their language with them, although early on they wrote in a script called Linear B.


Linear B was descended from a script called Linear A that has still not been deciphered.


Here are some Greek words you use every day, although they are often embedded in other words and phrases:  Ana- from low to high (anabolic steroids), cognate with English on.  Cata- down, from high to low (catastrophe, cataclysm).  Palino- backwards (palindrome).  Callo- beautiful (callopygian, calligraphy).


Talk about calligraphy. Here is an introduction to the band that I wrote out and spoke from the stage when we were in Greece. This has to be the worst Greek handwriting that I have ever seen.  I wrote this quickly in a dark green room shortly before we went on. First I introduce Peter, then Dave,  then Ben Nieves and then Mary Bridget Davies (MBD).


They seemed to understand what I was saying.  At least they clapped in all the right places.


Αυτά που θες ξενέρωτος, τα κάνεις μεθυσμένος.                In vino veritas.          What you wish sober, you act out drunk.

erin everly

Μηδεν αγαν                     Nothing to excess.


We used to do a song called Cuckoo. I loved that tune. Peter Albin played guitar on it, and I played bass.


Cuckoo might be the oldest song in the English language.


Ένας κούκος δε φέρνει την Άνοιξη.         One cuckoo doesn’t bring the spring.

frankie norstad

Φιλοσοφος γινου         Be a seeker of wisdom.


Elise and I took the bus from Athens to Tripoli on the Peloponesian peninsula.

book bed

Η βιβλιοθήκη είναι το φαρμακείο του μυαλού.                The library is a pharmacy for the mind.


Αλυπως βιου                            Live without sorrow.


Θυμου κρατει                 Control anger.                                       Max Clarke photograph


Suffixes and prefixes:     -trope turn towards (heliotrope, turn towards the sun, Zoetrope turn towards life).   -phile  lover (She is a homophile).  -lâtre who venerates (idolater).  Théo god (theocracy).


ηβων εγκρατης           As a youth self disciplined.

anastase boots

  • Τι ωραία που είναι να τους έχεις του ποδιού σου     feet shot


Ti kaneis anastash? kala? pos perases ta xristougena? sou eyxomai kalh xronia na xeis k oti epithimeis na xeis k oti den sou efere to 2010 na sto ferei to 2011.


This is the way Greeks write to each other on the internet when they don’t have the keyboard for the Greek alphabet.


This is called Greeklish. Lots of English words and the use, for example, of ‘anastash’ for the name Anastásios.


Τα Greeklish (Γκρίκλις), από τις λέξεις greek (ελληνικά) και english (αγγλικά), γνωστά και ως Grenglish, Λατινοελληνικά ή Φραγκολεβαντίνικα, είναι η ελληνική γλώσσα γραμμένη με το λατινικό αλφάβητο.


This is English:   I think of Greeklish as the writing of Greek with the Roman alphabet, but here is an example of the writing of English with the Greek alphabet (Grenglish).  It’s your language.  Can you decipher it using the alphabet below?  It says: If you are Greek, please write in Greek and be proud of your language. When you write in Greeklish, it looks that stupid.  Thank you.


I understand, of course, the purist point of view that Greek should always be written with the Greek alphabet.


Sometimes, though, you have to write an e mail to someone and you don’t have a Greek keyboard.  What are you going to do?  I must admit that I have written Greeklish many times.


More Grenglish (English written with the Greek alphabet).  Can you read it?   Fuck lifestyle.


I’m sure it meant something at the time.


People, mostly young people the world over, use the keyboard Roman letters to write their own language. Chinese do it. Japanese do it. Russians do it. Greeks do it. Anyone whose language uses another alphabet besides Roman has probably, at one time or another, used the alphabet we use on the computer keyboard to write their language. It’s a matter of expediency.


 μεσος δικαιος        As of middle age, just.                                      Photo:   Max Clarke


Η περιέργεια είναι η αρχή της σοφίας.

jam session 1922

Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.


It’s all English to me.


Can you read this? It’s in English.  Well, sort of, anyway.

japanese music

πρεσβυτης ευλογος            As an old man, sensible.


Greek pride:    Our language, the mother of languages.


I speak and write Greek and not greeklish.



Set  list       Athens        8 November 2009


Παις ων κοσμιος ισθι             As a child be well behaved.


Πλουτει δικιως               Acquire wealth justly.


Οταν λείπει ο γάτος, τα ποντίκια χορεύουν.  Quando la gatta non è in paese, i topi ballano.


When the cat isn’t in the country, the mice dance, or, as we would say, When the cat’s away, the mice will play.


Τυχη μη πιστευε            Do not trust fortune.




  • ομορφηηη!         beautifullll!

constantina delimetrou

Xρόνια Πολλά κοριτσάκι. Όλα τα καλά      Happy birthday, Constantína, all the best to you.   Πολύχρονη κι αγαπημένη, Κωνσταντίνα!


xronia polla theie na ta ekatotiseis…!  kai oti epithimeis..!


Φθιμενους μη αδικει                     Do not wrong the dead.

1953 Triumph Mayflower

Yes, the word automobile is Greek.  So is car, for that matter.

Greek Cart

The word for this in Greek was karo, cart.

Xponia Polla

kalh xronia na exoyme k na ta poume apo konta sto neo etos sthn australia k panta me ygeia


The Greek soul’s urge for independence is always strong.


Επαγγελου μηδενι            Make promises to no one.


kalimera 3adelfe..    na loipon pou gnwristikame estw kai mesa apo to facebook!      w = omega   3 = e epsilon

ukulele fly

Τω βιω μη αχθου.               Do not be discontented with life.


Μπράβο στην Χριστίνα         Hooray for Christina           Some strange ones  MP = B       NT = D


My friend Milena:  tha ton poioume ton kafe alla egw ton poino me poli zaxarh.        egw = ego = I


Απολαυστικός Γεωργακοπουλος, αν και δεν συμφωνώ για το deal breaker του Ποταμιου.  I wrote a whole web log about the word ‘apolaustic.’  I had no idea that it was also a name in Greek.


Απολαυστικός       Apolaustic in English means seeking a life of pleasure or enjoyment, but it is different from ‘hedonistic’ in that the pleasure may be mental, spiritual, physical.




Επι νεκρω μη γελα           Do not make fun of the dead.

Η Σελήνη σου δείχνει με ποια άτομα μπορείς να έχεις ερωτική ταύτιση!



Προγονους στεφανου           Crown your ancestors.


Κυριε ελεησον!     Kyrie eleison      We said this phrase when we were altar boys.   Lord have mercy!


This license plate photographed by Max Clarke has the word fool on it. A sopho moros (sophomore) is a wise fool.


Νεωτερον διδασ           Teach a youngster.


If you were going to write the English word love with Greek letters, it might look like the last word above. LOB. The Greek word for love might look more like the first word PHIL. Philos.     Feel the love.

Sir Nicholas Winton with some of the people, then children, who he saved from the Nazis in 1939

Sir Nicholas Winton with some of the people, then children, whom he saved from the Nazis in 1939.          Ήρωας      Hero


Αποντι μη μαχου            Do not oppose someone who is absent.


Μια χαρά, λέμε…


Συν Αθηνά και χείρα κίνει.      Literally,  With Athena and moving the hands.      Heaven helps those who help themselves.  Elise on the Acropolis.


γλαῦκ’ Ἀθήναζε / εἰς Ἀθήνας     Owls to Athens.   Owls can also mean drachmas.    Owls to Athens is like coals to Newcastle.  They have a lot of owls in Athens, because the owl is the sacred bird of Athena.


Φειδομενος μη λειπε             Do not stop to be thrifty.


pou eisai?  athina


We change some money.


Κινδυνευε φρονιμως       Venutre into danger prudently.


Κακιαν μισει                 Despise evil.


Απεχθειαν φευγε               Flee enmity.


ἀεὶ ὁ θεὸς ὁ μέγας γεωμετρεῖ τὸ σύμπαν       Always the great god geometrizes everything.    This is a saying of Plato (Πλάτων) and it has been turned into a mnemonic for memorizing π (pi).     π = 3.1415926…   Look at the number of letters in Plato’s saying.  ἀεὶ = 3.   ὁ = 1   θεὸς = 4    ὁ = 1   μέγας = 5      γεωμετρεῖ = 9    τὸ = 2   σύμπαν = 6


Σαν την αγκαλιά της μητέρας καμία.

mousika organa

The nine Muses

taverna bacchos

Χρόνια πολλά στις μανούλες όλου του κόσμου!


Επι ρωμη μη καυχω           Do not boast in might.


Eisodos      entrance


γλυκουλααα μμμ ♥  φωναραα μμ σε αγαπαω πολυυυ αδερφουλα μμ ♥ και παντα θα μαι διπλα σου να το ξερεισ ♥


Pathos can be feeling (pathos, pathetic, sympathy) and it can be disease (pathology, sociopath).   Max Clarke


Δοξαν μη λειπε                Do not abandon honor.


Mens’ names:  Johnny, Michael, Constantine, Nicholas, Panayiotes, Evangelos (which means good messenger in Greek).

poor lamb

χαχαχαχα          χ = the ch in Scottish loch = a heavy, breathed H sound      The pig says ‘Happy Easter.’  Do you think the lamb is going for it?


So, χαχαχαχα is how Greek people write the sound of laughing.


Ομονοιαν διωκε          Pursue harmony.


η καλή μουσική και το καλό το σεξ        ακούγονται δυνατα


Beautiful music.  Give him a hand.


εὕρηκα!   Californians know this verb well.  While Archimedes was taking a bath, he noticed that the level of the water rose as he got in, and he realized that the volume of water displaced must be equal to the volume of the part of his body he had submerged. 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!”


For Californians, though, Eureka! means the finding of the golden state and the finding of the gold. Archimedes’ word is on the state seal.


Καιρον προσδεχου            Accept due measure.


Δεῖμος καὶ Φόβος        Horror and Fear        Deimos and Phobos, the moons of Mars, are named after the sons of the Greek god of war Ares (Roman Mars).

ed everly

Το κρατουν φοβου              Fear ruling.


Thank you        ευχαριστουμε      Do you see the word ‘eucharist’ in there?


A big thank you.


The noun εὐχαριστία (eucharistia), meaning “thanksgiving,” signifies to Roman Catholics  that Jesus is present body, blood, soul, and divinity in the Holy Eucharist.


Αρρητον κρυπτε           Keep deeply the top secret.



Gynaika = Woman  (gynecology, gynephilia)


ἦλθον, εἶδον, ἐνίκησα.    Veni, vidi, vici.       As we shall see below, Julius Caesar often spoke Greek, which would be a little like a British general speaking French today. Caesar said these Greek words, instead of ‘I came, I saw, I conquered.’


καὶ σὺ τέκνον;    You too, child?   On the Ides of March  44 BC, Julius Caesar was murdered by a group of senators, including Marcus Junius Brutus, a senator and Caesar’s adopted son. We are more familiar with the Latin words Et tu, Brute? (And you, Brutus?), which Shakespeare gave to Caesar in Julius Caesar (act 3, scene 1,85).  Notice that the Greek is much more personal.


Aphrodite in Patras


Πραττε συντομως             Act quickly.


Οφθαλμου κρατει             Control the eye.


Αμαρτανων μετανοει         Repent of wrongdoing.


 Σεαυτον ευ ποιει            Treat yourself well.                   Photo:   Max Clarke


Περας επιτελει μη αποδειλιων     Finish the race without shrinking back.


Βιας μη εχου              Do not depend on strength.


Γλωτταν ισχε            Restrain the tongue.

patras float

Ευγνωμων γινου              Be grateful.

athens night

Elise and I walked around Athens at night. It was so calm and evocative. Beautiful.


καλλίστῃ      To the most beautiful one.


Κρινε δικαια             Make just judgments.


Notice where he put the accent on his name. Pythagóras.  I’ve often wondered why we don’t retain the same stress as in the original. Why do we say Pythágoras?


  •  pou ise vre omorfoula euge euge…

bus accordian

Maybe it plays Lady of Spain when it goes around corners?

sweden 1905

Ακουων ορα           Observe what you have heard.

Κωνσταντίνος Μάνος          Konstantínos Mános
Ελπιδα αινει                  Praise hope.


Our neighborhood in Athens


We lived a couple of blocks from this metro station, but we walked everywhere and never took the train.

Back Camera

τὰ πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει.        Everything flows and nothing remains.                 Heraclitus


Sam Andrew  The Archer   Orpheus     (I drew this in Athens.)

τελευτων αλυπος      Reaching the end without sorrow.


Improvising Music

voice box


It must be said first and remembered always that song came first. All of the rest is based on the voice.


Most people who improvise anything do so intuitively. That’s the nature of improvising. It’s feeling your way to a solution. These flutes were used thousands of years ago, long before music was written. Long before there was any kind of music theory that we know. If you would like to improve your music theory and music then you may want to consider installing some home music systems.


Photo: Max Clarke


Improvising is composing on the spot. Or, to put it another way, composing is improvising and then the writing down of that improvising.


All or almost all improvisers know how to put together a set of words or notes or images. They know this from inside. They always knew it. They didn’t learn it. It is instinctive for them. When someone sings a song, they can sing another line that matches that song and yet that is different. If you’re looking to sing with a little improvisation over an already produced beat or track you could look at sites like https://www.producerloops.com/ and start singing your heart out.


This improvised line of song can be close to the first sung line or it can be completely different, just as in a play where you can improvise a line that will fit into the plot and lead straight to the next scene, or where you can improvise a flight of fancy, wild and provocative, that will bring a new light to the action and only then will lead back into the drama.


In improvising you can be completely innovative or use material that you have reworked many times and remembered to bring it now to a new meaning.


In commedia dell’arte, a drama form from the Renaissance and before, the actors knew what a given scene was supposed to accomplish, but the actual dialogue was up to them. They improvised it.


There are some film directors who work this way. They will tell the actors what they are trying to accomplish and then will ask those actors to make up the lines that will move the story along. This can be an exhilarating and terrifying process.


A solo or a cadenza in a musical work is an improvised passage that will elaborate on the meaning of the song.


The solo can go off into a whole new territory, or it can stay close to the main idea of the piece and comment on that idea. The choice is up to the soloist. Franz Liszt used to murder his pianos onstage in front of hundreds of people. He was one of the great charismatic improvisors. Like Niccolò Paganini. Photo: Max Clarke


I once asked a classical violin player what scale she would use to play over an A7b9 chord and she gave me a blank look. I realized suddenly that she only played the notes on the paper and never gave any thought, perhaps, as to why those notes were there and not some other notes. It was not always this way in classical music. Mozart was an incredible improvisor and he played ex tempore for hours. If you love to listen to music, it is important that you have the right listening equipment so that you do not sacrifice on quality, as Graham Slee HiFi reports.



Beethoven played at parties and there are many stories of his improvising with passion and precision. When this man wrote “Freude,” he meant “Joy.” Foto: Maximiliano Clarke


Max Clarke found this license plate.


Some music, such as jazz, is mostly improvisation. A theme is stated at the beginning of the work and then each musician plays his idea of that theme, and, then, at the end, the theme is restated by everyone.

hot 5

In early jazz in New Orleans, for example, the musical idea was stated at the beginning and then all the musicians improvised together on that idea until the end where the theme was again played by the entire ensemble. Everyone followed the chords, the harmony, of the piece but each person played his/her on take on that harmony.

sister rosetta tharpe620

Each musician is a composer in this style and often the solos were so beautiful and so complete that they were written down and they became different tunes in their own right.


A Max Clarke photograph


In the bop era (1940s more or less), Charlie Parker played songs like How High The Moon with such originality and verve that his solos became separate tunes in themselves.


One of his ideas on How High The Moon is called Ornithology.

Sam plays bass!


In Big Brother and the Holding Company, we played a song called Cuckoo for so long and with such wild abandon that it became a different song. We wrote some new words for it and called it Oh, Sweet Mary.


There are some tools that can be learned in music that will help when a great improvising idea occurs, so that the player will be ready to make the most of an inspired moment.


Photo: Max Clarke

blues riffs

It helps to have a personal collection of things to play over a given chord. Ideas that can be changed and put together in new ways. These ideas should be learned in all keys, of course, and in as many different time changes, as possible, so when the times comes, you can plug them in immediately and without conscious effort.


Most musicians learn the ‘spellings’ of the different kinds of chords: major, minor, augmented, diminished, dominant seventh, so they are not completely surprised when one of these sounds is called for.


The spelling of a chord is what the chord is made of, what makes a major chord different from a minor chord, or a minor from a diminished, and so on.


The chromatic scale is important. Improvising musicians learn how to play it from each finger. They learn this either consciously or unconsciously.


Learning the modes (‘moods’) is interesting and useful.


At first, the aeolian mode was the most interesting to us. James Gurley and I played in the phrygian mode quite often. Later the dorian mode became important. Some people have made a religion out of the lydian mode. All the modes are beautiful and each has its own character. Once again, to understand really what is going on here, each of these modes should be learned in all keys.

lady bo black

The mixolydian mode G A B C D E F G is used for the dominant seventh chord G7, so we played/play that one a lot, since rock and roll is mostly a dominant seventh kind of music.


And now I am going to ask my friends to tell me how they began to improvise and what moves them about their music. I’ll begin with the first improvisor that I knew, Jimmy Cuomo, who was fourteen years old when I met him and already incredibly accomplished.

Cool Notes

Jimmy is second from right here.


Jim Cuomo (second from left, barely visible) has this to say:


By ten years old, fascinated with Benny Goodman, I began playing with his recordings. When I got it right I
was thrilled, but sometimes when I got it wrong the notes I played didn’t seem wrong, just different. It
then dawned on me that my notes were sometimes as acceptable as Benny’s. Thus whole new solos were
being invented. Soon I was adding a second clarinet part to everything he’d recorded.
I soon realized that I was improvising, so I started doing it with all kinds of music (Bismallah Khan was a favorite) I found that I was inventing solos more and more different than the originals . Not long later I met a captain’s son who
played guitar and we started improvising with each other . I lived for improvisation – it has been thus since.
Jim Cuomo, the first improvisor I ever met, and probably the most gifted of them all.


Rob Clores: I do remember the first time I improvised and it was also the first song I remember learning. Comin’ Home Baby.


I was 5 years old watching my father sit at the piano and play and sing the song. He showed me the basic chords. 5ths in the bass and the melody and after he left I basically tried to riff on the melody and make up my own variations.


So I guess it started out copying my dad but then I intuitively started to try to create pleasing patterns.


Rob Clores did the New York version of Love, Janis, with me and then we played a spectacular concert in Central Park.

jan koopman

Jan Koopman lives in the Netherlands. He writes: First I got when eight years old classic piano lessons, and after a few years my father bought an electronic organ for me, this gave me more fun.


Still classical lessons, everything, études, bach, chopin, händel, mozart, church music, include the pedals of course.
Aside from the classic stuff it appeared that I could almost play what I heard, and started with popular music as well.
My left foot is almost as fast as the fingers of a bass player because I can think and play in melody, accompaniment and the bass line.
hawaii hula girl
Then came the Hammond organ. I owned the L, the T and later the M 200, and particularly the M-series sounds great, like even more than than the sound of the B, A C or G, which are all the same modules.The scanning vibrato and celeste toggle switch on the M is fabulous. Procol Harum used it with Whiter shade of pale (flip side is Good Captain Clack).
I use three mics for the Leslie, 2x Shure and 1 AKG for the bass rotor. The position of the mics is very important, a lot of technicians don’t know where to place them (angle and distance).
I think I started first with simple open key scales, for example as basic 2-5-1 combined, and then later on moved to the more complex chords in a kind of schema for example in three basic tones. Blues and pentatonic scales, melodic minor scales.
My interest grew for the setting Tenor sax, hammond/piano, (fretless) bass and drums/percussion. I began to play in restaurants, and made much use of brushes and latin percussion settings.
blues for alice
Later I tried for more freedom, a way to be more free to improvise, trying again and again, till it’s going to make part of your muscal feeling…hours and hours playing, studying developing finger technical skills. I still need to play often, and keep learning all the time…as long as I live, there is no end.
I love “open” music, where you can feel the “loaded “rest/intervals, dynamic sound and timing…like the rhythm also of old jazz, blues and ragtime, makes me happy…now there are so many mixes of the different styles.

Jan Koopman is the master of one of those instruments, the Hammond B3 organ, that you play with everything you’ve got, both arms, both legs, all your fingers, all of your brain, all of your heart and soul.


Kristina Kopriva Rehling: Jazz Saxophonist Richie Cole, heard me practicing classical Music on my Violin, came thru the door at my Parents Private School, his Daughter 4 was a student of mine, Annie . He said to me, “you’re never going be complete sticking w/ Classical,” I said why? He said…” 1. Kristina, you’ve got too much soul . 2. You’re bending notes all over the place in your Bach piece, and it’s a clear giveaway that you need to fly away into Jazz & Blues.”

He then spent the next few hours talking to me about Jazz & improv, and how it’s a conversation between you and the other musician, and in order to be a good conversationalist, you have to be a really good listener, and how when your really good, the audience understands it.
george kristina

He then invited me to play w/ him at The American Music Hall. He went easy on me the first time, Blues in C I think. We traded 4?s, and I could not wait to learn more:)


That’s Kristina Kopriva Rehling, beautiful woman, talented violinist, good friend. She sang a set with us at the Sebastiani Theatre in Sonoma last year.

jesse malley

Jesse Malley : I think that in a way I have always been an intuitive improviser. In my late teens, I remember jamming with some bands and being able to improvise melodies and lyrics, but I was very shy about it.


My confidence (or lack of it) stood in the way of my gut feeling, as well as straining everything through my brain before it came out, compromising my ability to be in the moment.

BBHC Moe's
When I moved to LA in my early 20?s and started singing at open mic blues nights, all of these distractions seemed to disappear with every song. I started paying attention to the band, to the cues, less attention to the audience and my thoughts, and just started playing from my gut. The more I played out with strangers, the less I feared the unknown on stage. More than anything, playing live shows has been the best experience I’ve had in learning to play off the charts.


Learning to read body language, and paying attention to the other musicians on the stage. My breakthrough would have to be when I was about 23, when I stopped being terrified of improvising, and started being able to enjoy it. I think after you’ve had a few mistakes, blunders or train wrecks onstage, the worst case scenario doesn’t seem so bad anymore.

Voodoo Music Experience 2004 - Day 1

Jesse Malley performs in San Diego these days, and I am hoping she will come and join Big Brother for some shows in that area soon.


Arne Frager from the Record Plant checks in with this: I studied piano classical music as a young child of 5 years old and studied piano until the age of 18.


At the age of 12 I took up the upright string bass in junior high and played in the orchestra and began to play in pop bands and jazz groups. Since I read music and could sight read, I usually had a lead sheet or a fake book to guide me.


The first improvising I ever did was on the upright bass, in small combos where I had to learn to play by ear or by watching the pianist’s left hand. I call it improvising but it was actually just listening to find the correct root of a chord as the bass player.
The string bass was good to learn to improvise due to the freedom you have with a fretless instrument.
In my teens I also took up playing jazz on the piano so I began to learn how to improvise on that instrument as well. I remember it as just fooling around with the notes and taking liberties with melodies or bass lines to experiment.
And of course the band always wanted to give the bass player a solo so when you got the chance to solo you would learn how to play around the melody and come up with something new.
I can still sit down at a piano and noodle for hours and play completely improvised tunes and melodies and chord structures, because I know the instrument pretty well and have studied classical and jazz scales and chord structures.
music soldiers
I started fooling around on both piano and upright bass in my teens and have continued to do so over the years.
Because the bass is my main instrument in playing with a group, I find that my main concerns are playing consistently in tempo and always hitting the right notes to support the harmony, and only on rare occasions in a combo do I get the
chance to improvise.
I don’t always play the exact same bass lines, so, in a way, I am constantly trying new approaches to the same tunes.


That’s Arne Frager, bass player, talented musician, producer, genius in residence.

Anthea Sidiropoulos bullseye

Anthea Sidiropoulos: I remember wanting to learn to scat and listened to Ella Fitzgerald’s A tisket A tasket, How high the moon – mimicked her scatting – then moved on to other standards and found I could not only emulate the scats but build my own take on them. I remember gaining an awareness during my early childhood when i was having private piano and music theory tuition. This gave me an understanding about scales, keys and the mechanics of music.

Camille Grant Anthea

This gave me confidence and allowed my improvising ability to ‘fly’ and ‘dance’ around musical arrangements. I remember my teacher including ‘ear’ exercises as my aural abilities excelled during these formative years. I would say this would have contributed to how I learned to improvise. I could ‘hear’ where my vocal notes ‘felt’ right and where they felt they did not fit in the piece.I never ‘learned’ to improvise per se – it seemed to happen naturally, especially as my courage and confidence increased. A ‘freeing’ experience of the soul if you like. I can relate this to meditation at times, especially when chanting.

anthea sidiropoulos

I grew up in a family where singing was a given, (privately though.. anything further was a no, no) and my parents harmonised naturally as the Greek folk songs allowed for this as the norm. I picked up a natural ability to harmonise on virtually any melody. I started improvising along with harmonising to the tune. formative years of piano and music theory and after a 15year gap of music where I regained the ability to improvise again.

Kim Nomad Anthea sidiropoulos

Anthea Sidiropoulos lives in Melbourne, Australia, and I am hoping to do some shows with her there.


Barry Melton: I was born into a left-wing activist family and my earliest years were spent in a small enclave of folks in Brooklyn, New York.


Woody Guthrie was a neighbor (I went to Marge Guthrie’s dance school for a while), my dad was friends with Paul Robeson and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t know Ramblin’ Jack Elliott.


I’m told I was at the Peekskill riots as a toddler and my mother sang and played folk music on the piano – songs of the Spanish Civil War, the Civil Rights struggle, blues and just plain folk music from all over the world.


My parents were determined I would be a musician and play for the struggle, so they made sure I started young, really young.


It was my idea to become a lawyer when I grew up, but it’s not in the least ironic that I started my adult life just as my parents had planned – on stage with a guitar in my hands.


My first guitar instructor was not a guitarist. He as a retired violinist from the New York Philharmonic. I was trained classically on guitar from the age of five to approximately the age of eight. I literally learned to read and write music around the same time as I learned to read and write English. Mr. D’Aleo was an older adult, perhaps in his 70’s. He was extraordinarily disciplined and drilled me incessantly; he also taught me music theory, and a significant component of my instruction involved reading and writing music (on staff paper).


Things couldn’t have taken a sharper turn when my family moved from New York to Los Angeles in 1955. Milton Norman, my first and only guitar instructor in Los Angeles, was a ‘50’s avant garde jazz guitarist. He played with the Kay Kyser big band and a host of small jazz combos.


But his approach to the instrument was mostly “chordal,” i.e., for him guitar was a rhythm instrument that used complex chords to help lay the foundation for horn-playing soloists, pianists and singers.


From 1959 on, at age 12, I was thoroughly captivated by the folk music revival. And wow, was I ready: Kids all over the place seemed to be adopting the music I grew up with. My parents’ friends were becoming icons. I listened assiduously to the folk show that Les Claypool hosted on FM radio.

med span jess

I played my guitar with such ferocity that, during my transition into puberty, I nearly got my family evicted from our modest apartment in the San Fernando Valley.


By the age of 14, I was getting friends just a few years older – Bill Bernds, Bruce Engelhardt, Steve Mann – to drive me around L.A. and join in numerous blues and folk jams across the Valley and over the hills into Hollywood.


And Steve Mann, a near-neighbor who shared my passion for country blues, was becoming a star, ultimately playing on the first Sonny & Cher recordings and backing Gale Garnett on “We’ll Sing In The Sunshine.”


It was there, in the foyer of the Ash Grove on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood (McCabe’s Guitar Shop was a little annex in the front part of the club, as was the foyer) that I and a host of young and aspiring musicians (Taj Mahal, Ry Cooder) got to “jam” with virtually every musician who came through town.


Brownie and Sonny, Doc Watson, Mance Lipscomb, Gary Davis and a long list of names that, for me, touch the very essence of where my music comes from.


And the circle, that was sometimes small and sometimes too big for the room, had a participatory component that left room for anyone who had something to contribute to play a little louder while the rest of the circle accommodated whoever was soloing.


By the time I got my own car on my 16th birthday, I drove for the single purpose of picking up blues and folk musicians on tour and taking them around town, or as part of my never ending quest to jam with other musicians in some blurred scrabble of black and white, blues and country, music.


I drove my high school friend, Bruce Barthol, out to the prophet in Woodland Hills to participate in the “Hoots” run by folksinger Michael Wilhelm; or, on one ill-fated voyage to a party at the Chambers Brothers Jug Band’s house in Silver Lake, my friend Steve Mann riding shotgun managed to get us busted and he went to jail, while I got detained as a juvenile and my parents were called.


As a devoted “folkie,” I had a belief that real music had to be learned from the oral tradition and it was inauthentic to learn from recordings. So I sought out musicians to “lead,” as was the blues tradition as I understood it. I drove Mance Lipscomb around when he first came to Los Angeles, and it was honor and privilege to “lead” Bukka White and Rev. Gary Davis, too.


I don’t think it would be an exaggeration to say I played guitar 40 hours a week between the ages of 12 and 18; and I’m often surprised and delighted to realize I actually squeezed something of a crude education into the mix.


I’ve known Barry Melton a long time now, almost fifty years. He gave me some good advice about how to construct my solo on Piece of My Heart. If I were ever in trouble legally, he is the man I would see, because he is a lawyer and I’m not.

lead sister

jack perry iron springs 18 Sept 2014

Jack Perry: I was forced into improvising when first given a guitar with no lessons attached, no chord chart, not even decent radio reception. So I developed by way of the “hunt and peck” system. If something sounded good, I tried to memorize it to mix it in with other such riffs.


I think a friend at school taught me the opening notes to Windy so I began integrating a more traditional scale approach to the hunting and pecking.

black sheet

Some months later a friend taught me the first few lines of Santana’s Black Magic Woman (over the phone!) , so I added more of a blues scaling and technique.

Elise Piliwale, not your garden variety

I performed Black Magic Woman in an early combo of friends to a church crowd. I had only ever memorized those first few lines, the rest of the performance was an improvised extension of them.


Jack Perry now plays differently tuned guitars in a very original and beautiful context. Just the pure sound of these guitars is emotional and beguiling.


My friend Jason Castle writes: My first experience with music for many years was singing. So, I learned by ear, including how to harmonize, thanks to my mother’s experience singing harmonies with her father and sisters (who all sang in the choir at church). When I was in grade school, I sang in a trio with two girls, and we just made up the harmonies, improvised them, I guess you could say.

kate russo
I started playing guitar in my teens, but still didn’t know how to read music. Not sure when I learned chord symbols and such. I had an uncle who taught me how to thump out the melody in the bass register and incorporate that into strumming and finger-picked arpeggios. This led to more improvisation, and eventually making up some simple songs based on various chord progressions. I remember especially liking to shift between major/minor chords, such as Dm to D major.
Later, thanks to the encouragement of a high-school aged flute-playing friend, I took up the recorder (much less expensive than a flute) and started learning to read music. When I moved to San Francisco, I lived for awhile with another guy who played recorder. Although we eventually formed a small ensemble to play Medieval and Renaissance music (the “Maiden Lane Minstrels” as the Examiner named us), we also spent a lot of time improvising or jamming.
I used to play more intuitively when I was improvising (which I think is the best way). Now, I sometimes experiment with improvising to a chart with a backup track, but I’m not very good at it, especially since I don’t know much about music theory or the chord progressions for jazz or whatever style I’m trying to play. But, mostly because I’m thinking too much.
Theory and formal training are great, but I think it’s important to find that balance where it doesn’t get in the way of intuition/inspiration.
Jason Castle has performed all kinds of music in all kinds of situations. I go see him when he performs works like Bach’s Mass in B Minor.


Go with the flow.


Kurt Huget writes: My first explorations in improvisation began in my early teens, on both guitar and piano, playing along with records and the radio. I found that I needed a lot of time and patience to delve into it, so I gravitated towards the music of blues bands and the great San Francisco rock bands, because their songs often stretched out longer than the typical 2-3 minute pop tunes of the time.


It gave me the freedom to try out any musical ideas that came to mind, change course when they weren’t quite sounding right, and work out riffs and themes, step by step.


Learning the blues pentatonic scale was a big breakthrough, because it gave me the musical vocabulary to take a solo anywhere I wanted to.


Such a simple scale, but with endless possibilities.


I must add that, at times, smoking pot helped in the improvisation process.


I think that smoking pot freed me up to play more intuitively, that is, to “feel” the music, rather than “think” it.


My guitar buddy Greg Douglass weighs in with this: I started off taking lessons from a fellow who recognized that, beneath the timid & clumsy musical veneer I presented to him every week, there was at least a proton's worth of talent. He attempted to remake me in his image as a jazzer. Being 14 and having just seen The Beatles on Ed Sullivan, I not only rejected being the next Kenny Burrell but quit lessons entirely to devote private study to pop music structures and how to pick up girls.

Shanna and Susan

I slavishly copied solos and changes and, in doing so, learned about how to put together a song, even prior to learning the Circle of Fifths.

Suzi Quatro

However, I lived in the Bay Area. The pendulum was swinging heavily towards more freedom; extended solos, Eastern modes, feedback...freedom! Suddenly, I had all the room in the world to move musically and no knowledge to back it up.


I was still stuck in the minor pentatonic ghetto that so many of my guitar students still find themselves mired in to this day. My band, a Top 40 cover band, discovered pot and began experimenting musically.


I spent hours on my couch at U.C. Berkeley, creating the basic outlines to long solos and desperately trying to solve the puzzle of the fretboard. I still felt like a fraud and a one-trick pony...hell, I was learning to play guitar in front of large crowds, opening for people like Ten Years After and Jeff Beck.


Humility came very easily to me. I knew next to nothing and was jamming one-on-one with guys like Terry Haggerty and Peter Green. The bar was set very, very high.

engrid barnett

Two fortuitous things then happened. I quit Berkeley and went to DVC, a junior college in Concord CA. I took 3 music courses, Theory 101 and Harmony 1 & 2. I learned about the rules, I did sight-singing (I still have nightmares about sight-singing to this day!), I wrote pieces for string quartets (and ended up dating the smoking hot cello player)....I learned about music in a holistic, non-guitar-oriented context.


But...I would still look at the neck and go blank. "That's an A note!", I would proudly explain. There was still no grand scheme on the guitar neck. I could not see things in a logical, musical pattern. I got by for ages with a kind of false bravado and a macho ethic of "When in doubt, play really, really fast!".


One day, I picked up a book of scales. The scales were shown separately, but given a context: there were chord shapes the scales were hung on. After learning the separate scales, I learned how to play the scale positions as they flowed into one another. One day, I looked at the neck and saw not a chaotic blur of separate notes, but a recurring pattern of chord shapes that was never-ending and gave birth to a new world of melodic possibilities.


I had "discovered" the CAGED method about 5 years into my six-stringed journey, and everything was different from that day forward. I had the knowledge from my years spent poring over difficult problems in harmony, but now there was a practical basis for everything. I understood modes, I understood what went where and why...I understood the rules well enough to break them with confidence.


My greatest gift as a teacher is being able to explain these musical parameters to others on a daily basis. While the names "Douglass" and "Coltrane" won't be put next to one another anytime...except perhaps alphabetically..I know enough to enter improvisational situations with a sense of confidence, potential fun, and adventure. I often use advice I've given to a student when I'm onstage to help me break out of my own self-created ruts.


Nothing makes me happier than confronting a wall of apathetic ears in a smooth jazz type setting (restaurants, cocktail parties...funerals..) with a swift barrage of whole tone runs or a series of tritones (nothing like The Devil's Interval to put a dent in some aging debutante's carefully coiffed composure!).

esperanza spalding 08

That's Greg Douglass, the original Diabolus in Musica.


Wesley Freeman, left, with brothers Ming and Tracy, writes to me : I first thought about improvisation when I went to the Kadena Officers Club on Okinawa one night.


I think I was about 16 at the time, and I went there to watch my guitar teacher Tiny Umali play with his jazz trio. He not only played these wonderful complex chords, but he played all these notes around them, and from that moment on, I was fascinated by the idea of being to play beyond just the chord and the original melodies.


I watched a lot of people play after that, and paid close attention to how they took the melodies and would build on them, creating landscapes in the air.

A few years later, in Taipei, we had been following Joe Zawinul and early Weather Report for a few months, and one day, we were just playing in our living room studio, and began to jam, and that was the first time I remember actually trying to stretch out and create something new, something created out of mostly space and time, and some elements from the original theme
When you don’t know what you are doing, it seems like there are no boundaries, no rules, and that can be a very liberating feeling, and sometimes the results are spectacular. That first jam was amazing.
However, as time goes by, I think musicians realize that without some rules, some structure, that chaos will inevitably result. So…learning some rules, and figuring out how things are put together I think is essential to good improvisation…having the right tools is always one of the first rules of the garage.
The truth is, there are no limits to improvisation. Even the sky is not the limit. The only boundary is the place where you stop to catch a breath, or to let people know that you finished this particular story for the moment, or when it is time to let someone else in the band solo.
whole tone scale
Wesley Freeman had his first band in Okinawa, Japan, just as I did, and then he went on to have some very successful bands in Taipei, Taiwan, and later on the mainland USA.


Jude Gold: Yes, I remember the very moment I first started improvising on guitar. Kind of like the day I first rode a bike. I remember it.

I was 11 years old, sitting in the living room in our apartment in Albany California, holding a very low-quality electric guitar – a Harmony Stratotone, which some people love (kind of a cult guitar) – and suddenly the blues scale that I had been practicing for who knows how many months previously just seemed to flow by itself. Once I started getting better at playing, I decided to buy a new electric guitar. This made practising so much easier and my skills gradually began to improve.
Suddenly, I was soloing.
late 1920's publicity still
I was like, “I get it!” It was kind of like improvising by humming a melody with your voice, but instead I was humming with this pattern of notes on the fretboard.
Marcia Ball
Mind you, I don’t think that my solo sounded very good, but I was soloing, nonetheless – improvising my first solo there in that living room.
Then I started using that same scale to jam along with David Gilmour solos from Pink Floyd songs off The Wall, and, a couple years later, Chris Hayes’ great solos on I Want a New Drug by Huey Lewis and the News. I realized I could copy the licks of other guitar players who were using the same scale.
That was a while ago. 33 years later and I’m still working on it. Someday, I hope to be a good soloist, ha ha!
guitarist tree
That’s Jude Gold, a great guitar player who works with the Jefferson Starship.
david aguilar
David Aguilar tells me this: I was relatively self taught and when I did take a few lessons I would ask my instructor if I learned Michael row the boat ashore for him, would he show me Memphis!
I think a lot of my melodic type of improvising is from learning to play lap style guitar when I was about 8, for it made me need to play in tune while sliding all over the string.
I feel that improvising is an intuitive kind of process based on all the musical genres/influences and tricks that one uses as they develop their own signature sound and tonality, that is at least what I have tried to do, I also feel like we still can find improvisational nuggets as we continue to play and hopefully can remember them! I like enjoying the moment when those events occur!
I wish I could think like some of the great jazz guitarists because adding some of those passages to my blues/rock n roll repertoire would be very cool, One memory I do have is this. I thought I was pretty good in college and was playing these hokey box pattern solos, trying to be bluesy and a very low key friend of mine played all these patterns, tearing it up and bending all over the fretboard with a real fluid delivery. I immediately tried to steal as much as I could from him, he was very giving and I was very humbled by the whole situation.
David Aguilar plays with everyone. He put in some years with Norton Buffalo and they made a couple of ferocious CDs. Dave plays with Big Brother and the Holding Company sometimes and he’s a joy to work with onstage.
Kate Russo: The first improvising I remember doing is singing, making up melodies, as a very little child- maybe 3? 4?
Next, I recall trying to play songs by ear, that were above my reading level on piano, when I was about six. My improvisation would include “learning” songs like “the entertainer”, where I would fill in the missing gaps of music I didn’t know with improvisational parts until I could modulate back to the next part I could remember.
When I was about eight, I played clarinet in my first real excursion in improvisation, imitating Benny Goodman. Took it further with my first group (which was a trio of trumpet, trombone and clarinet) when I was about 10-11. We played Dixieland music. My improvisation mainly consisted of blindly playing notes and patterns that “sounded right” in the style, combined with a method of trying to “sing” my part through the instrument.
blues voicings
Intuition has always been the backbone of my improvisation. Over the years I have spent more and more time thinking about music; particularly songwriting and improvisation.
First improvisation was mainly about playing lines (melodies, parts, not just leads), that I felt I could “hear”, that weren’t there. Spontaneous, melodies, and harmonies always came naturally. Like making up harmonies and singing along with every great song I heard on the radio.
In Boccherini with the late Jonathan Mishne, who introduced you and me to each other, when I was 20-21, I learned more about improv. We did exercises to improve our improv ideas. Some included: scale motion, thirds, arpeggios, trills, gestures (like glissando, bends, “chicken scratchin'”). Big breakthrough on the “technical”, not melodic, side!
We had some great sayings! Here are a few favorites: K I S S: Keep It Simple, Stupid! When in doubt, lay out!
Once is irrelevant, twice is a coincidence, but three times is a pattern!
From my earliest experiences, I found that by learning other people’s great solos that were improvised (from the records) note for note, with emphasis on color, articulation, vibrato etc, it gave me a terrific background in terms of what it should “sound like”– with rising and falling lines, crescendo, decrescendo, dynamics, intensity, articulation– all of these things are so important!
ggate car
Other big breakthroughs included: Learning Stevie Ray Vaughan killer guitar licks on violin, by ear – again, note-for-note– and began to use the gestures and make the sounds of one instrument on a different instrument– this elicits wild audience response!
Learning different blues patterns (the “3 Kings” Albert King, Freddie King, and BB King; Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Duane Allman) added a lot to my improv vocabulary. Incorporating famous melodies into the mental arsenal was always a biggie- especially Beatles or classical, for me. (Sound familiar, Mr. In The Hall Of The Mountain King?!). Some favorites are Eleanor Rigby, Let It Be, Purple Haze, Night Train, Humoresque– to name a scant few.
“Gestures” deserve their own special place in my improv vocabulary. They include articulation as well as notes and their colors. For instance, a gliss with a long slow bow, vs a gliss with tremolo. Spiccato and ricochet bowings factor heavily in the Gestures category. Whistle sounds, speaking sounds (like “thank you”) are very effective also.
In the last few years of playing I have really stretched myself with learning licks that seem more “natural” to my instrument (violin), but “spicing them up” with gestures and notes from other kinds of instruments, like a train whistle sound with bends like a guitar. This is an interesting approach to improv, by improvising the actual improv (if that makes any sense). Also taking my tonal style into consideration– like volume swells with the bow, smooth “oriental” sound, sitar sounding patterns.
four reigns
Kate Russo has played many times with Big Brother and she even sang on one of our engagements. That was in Mexico City where we had a lot of fun.
a shot
See you next week?
Sam China Camp Lasnier
Sam Andrew Photo: Joanne Lasnier

The Japanese Language

nihongo red square

The Japanese Language

Greg Sam 6 Sept 2014 Catanzaro Italy Greg Sam Catanzaro 6 Sept 2014

????????????????????   Koko ni eigo o hanaseru hito wa imasu ka.   Does anyone here speak English?

nihongo vert

Nihongo        Japan language


Ni                                   hon                          go

Chickie, 25, singing in Los Angeles after the war.



All license plate photographs are courtesy of Max Clarke.

For native English speakers, the Japanese language is one of the hardest languages to learn which is why Japanese translations services remain in demand at the moment.  It is difficult for us to learn to speak well, because it is unlike English in almost every way.  Yes, the writing is very difficult, but the thought process itself is almost the complete reverse from English.  These facts make Japanese a fascinating and interesting language to study.


Japanese is quite similar to, of all languages, Latin. Both idioms are heavily inflected, so there is often no need for pronouns. Pretend you are sending a telegram where every word costs a lot. So you are going to try to say something meaningful with absolutely as few words as possible. That’s Japanese.  You don’t say ‘I bought,’ you say ‘bought.’  ‘I bought a book’ becomes ‘bought book.’  You don’t say ‘I love you.’  You say ‘loving.’ This isn’t slangy or colloquial. It is built into the language which is telegraphic in the extreme.


writing system


There can be, and often are, four different writing systems in one Japanese sentence, anyone of which would be sufficient to write the entire language: kanji, hiragana, katakana and Romaji (Rome letters, which is what the Japanese call our alphabet).



Or, as one of the early Jesuits in Japan, probably Matteo Ricci, put it, one hesitates for an epithet strong enough to describe a language where a separate writing system is required to explain the existing writing system.



Three different writing systems on one subway sign.  Any one of these systems would be capable of writing Tokyo Metro Ikebukuro Station.



Japanese has cases like Latin or German or Russian. There are small one syllable words to mark what case it is. This word wa can mark the nominative case.

  • wa for the topic which can be different from the subject of the sentence.
?????????? Watashi wa sushi ga ii desu. (literally) “As for me, sushi is good.”   or   I like sushi.


Yesterday I book bought.            Yesterday book bought.      The word order is like Latin. Subject, Object, Verb.


????      yamato kotoba     wago ??       The words the Japanese use for their original, native language before the adoption of so many Chinese words which came along with the Chinese writing system.



I ku ra   (how much?):   Until you get a feel for how Japanese is stressed, it is probably a good idea to put equal stress on every syllable. Count 1,2,3 and listen to how you say each number very evenly. Then try to accent the Japanese the same way.  1  2  3   i  ku ra. Give the last syllable as much stress as you do the second syllable. 1  2  3. I ku ra.


I ku ra. I put ra in italics, because for English speakers, there is a strong tendency to swallow or minimize that last syllable, I ku (ra), but in Japanese it is as strongly pronounced as the other two syllables. 1 2 3.  I ku ra.

med span janaína

Remember to ‘roll the r’ so to an Anglophone the word will sound like i ku da.


English speakers like to accent the penultimate syllable, so for the airport name in Tokyo, Narita, what English speakers say is something like ‘Na REE da,’ (same stress pattern as I need a…) which no Japanese is going to understand. Say Narita like 1 2 3   Na dee ta  1  2  3 and at least you will be understood. Be sure and pronounce the T as in Tom, and roll the r.  Because your giving equal stress to each syllable, it will sound to you, an English speaker, as if the last syllable is the one stressed but it is merely being given equal stress which you are not used to hearing.

med span laura

If you say Na dee TAH, you will be much closer to the actual Japanese pronunciation of this airport name.


Here is an example of two phrases that we use that have three equal parts with almost equal stress. They are:  coup d’état and ‘stay on top.’

med span ramada

If you say Narita with even stress on each syllable, as in coup d’état, it will be much more comprehensible than the Na REE da that rhymes with ‘Juanita.’


1  2  3    Na  ri  ta.  Stay on top.


head good

Head good. Atama ii.     She’s smart.    She has a good head.   See how telegraphic the language is?  In English, we say ‘Smart,’ and that gets the idea across, but ‘smart’ is colloquial, laconic.  Not in Japanese.  In Japanese ‘head good’ is a perfectly normal way to say ‘she’s smart.’


b526You are smart.  (As for you, head good.)


Japanese has a stress system that sounds to us like a metronome. Very even and, to us, unaccented.  Our language is so stressed, so accented that imPORtant SYLlables tend to LEAP OUT at you. UnderSTAND?  Japanese is much more even.


When you hear a Japanese speaker speaking quickly, the speech can sound like those syllables that Indian tabla players say. Japanese can sound like a drum solo.



??????????    Kochira wa Tanaka-san desu      This is Ms./Mrs./Mr. Tanaka.


ta na

Tanaka-san is rich, handsome, and charming, isn’t he?         

ta na ka

jap sachi

Different ways to address someone, male or female, who is named Tanaka. The first vertical line of characters on the left is Tanaka-kun. This is the way young people address each other.

jap shiho

The second vertical line above reads Tanaka-chan, and this is an imitation of the way babies pronounce ‘san,’ so it is used to speak to infants and small children or someone very familiar to the speaker.

jaq elena

The third line is Tanaka-sama. Sama is an honorific title, almost like saying ‘reverend,’ or ‘honored.’

jap superfly

The first vertical line on the right above is Tanaka-san, the usual way of addressing someone named Tanaka.

jap yasuda

Dative case:         ???????????? Tanaka-san ni agete kudasai        Please give it to Mr. Tanaka.  


takuya body

jap fukuda


Yatta!     ???!    Did it!      He doesn’t see the need to say ‘I.’


??????        Kare ga yatta.            He did it.

jap densha


kakkoii cool

It’s cool.   Kakkoii.





Urayamashii!     ????!         Jealous!       I, you, she, he, it, we, they  The pronoun is unspecified and depends on the context. Japanese is a very ‘telegraphic’ language. If someone says in English, “What are you doing?” you can say “Thinking” because the context makes it clear who is thinking.

jap bruna

It’s the same in Japanese, only more so.


Oshiete moratta    She explained it to me.


Oshiete ageta (??????)     [I/we] explained [it] to [him/her/them]


??????????????Odoroita kare wa michi o hashitte itta.      The amazed he ran down the street.  

jap aiko

This isn’t said this way in English but it is in Japanese. I suppose it’s more like  Amazed, he ran down the street.

henna gaijin geisha

Ablative case:     ???????? Nihon ni ikitai “I want to go to Japan.”

a party

????????????      p?t? e ikanai ka?      Won’t you go to the party?





Genitive case:         ??????      watashi no kamera        my camera         


?????????????        Suk?-ni iku no ga suki desu      (I) like going skiing.


  • E1359959207107_1
  • o for the accusative case.     Not necessarily an object.           ???????? Nani o tabemasu ka?      What will (you) eat?

oishii delicious     Oishii.       Delicious.       You hear and say this word very often in Japan.


genius       Genius.



aishoka bibliophile       Aishoka         bibliophile


hon (?)    book, books        There is no plural.     It’s like ‘sheep’  or ‘deer.’           Every noun in Japanese can be singular or plural.


?        hito        person   or  people


ii desu (????)     It is OK.                ii desu-ka ??????Is it OK?


?????      O namae wa         (What’s your) name?.



Pan o taberu ??????? I will eat bread or I eat bread


Pan o tabenai  ???????? I will not eat bread or I do not eat bread   Pan o tabenakatta  ??????????  I did not eat bread.


????          hen na hito          a strange person


Photo:   Max Clarke



Gai jin:    We are often called this when we are in Japan.       henna-gaijin_122x33        henna gaijin  weird foreigners


The first rule of saying “you” in Japanese is that you don’t say “you” in Japanese.  That’s only a slight exaggeration.



It is worth noting that the word you isn’t in any of these three sentences. In day to day speech there are very few pronouns in Japanese.


??????             Kimi no Na wa Kibou     Your name is hope.         kimi “you” (? “lord”)    Kimi is a word for you used by boyfriends for their girlfriends.


??     Anata “you” (??? “that side, yonder”)    Married women use this ‘you’ when speaking to their husbands.


It then comes to mean something like the American affectionate term ‘honey.’  If written ?? (anata), the person addressed is female.


?? (omae) – your pet, someone very close to you or someone you hate. It literally means in front or facing.


?      onore          Someone you really hate


??          kisama          This is a you that you really don’t like.


?      nanji            thou

miho and daughter


??         (sonata)         archaic and similar to thou


???              temee           Someone you really hate


You might be yakuza you hate them so much.


??               otaku                 someone emotionally distant and unknown to you


Pronouns are not much used in Japanese. In fact, they may be less used than anywhere else in the world. Here are, however, some pronouns for I/me and what they say about the speaker.    The most common word for I is ? watashi.  Japanese often point to their nose when we would point to our heart to say “Me?”


Once again, try to keep the syllable stress equal until you get a feel for the accent.  The stress really is there, but it is much more subtle than in English, so try to say ? watashi the way you would say 1 2 3 with equal stress on each syllable.    wa ta shi 1 2 3.


Listen carefully to how a native speaker says the word.


? atashi  Almost the same word as watashi and it is written the same but this word is used by girls and guys-who-want-to-be-girls only.  Yoko is saying atashi here. How do I know? Because those little tiny characters to the right of ? say atashi.  Those small ‘letters’ are called furigana and they are what I was talking about earlier when I quoted the Jesuit who said something like ‘one hesitates for an epithet strong enough to describe a written language that needs another written language to explain it.’ Furigana are often used, as here, to give the ‘alphabetic’ (actually ‘syllabic’) rendering of a kanji. They are often used in childrens’ books and in texts for non Japanese speakers. It seems very out of character to me that Yoko would call herself atashi. She seems a much stronger character than that, although atashi perfectly renders the English Just me! The middle line says Ono Yoko in katakana. So here you see on one signboard four systems of writing, kanji, hiragana, katakana and romaji.


? watakushi, first person pronoun used by rich old men, butlers and princesses.


? boku has the literal meaning servant.    Used by female or male prepubescent children or young boys.


? ore        This is the rough, tough I.  Truck drivers, lumberjacks and other manly men use it.


? ora   How farmers and other rural people say ‘I.’


nanda project

Japan 1960

donatadesuka who is it        Who is it?


I have a friend named Yukiko but I am not sure what kanji she uses to write her name.  There are several choices.

Yuki  happiness, fortune

    Yuki      will, intention, motive

American speakers say her name like Yu KEE ko to rhyme with ‘you freako,’ but Japanese say her name like 1  2  3. Yu Ki Ko to rhyme with ‘don’t you know?’  The Ko is as important as the Ki. More important actually, since Ko has a separate meaning. Yukiko’s husband Peter calls her Yuki. It’s a more grown up name.


Yukiko means Yuki girl, or even Yuki child, so there has been a feminist movement in Japan to drop the Ko after women’s names.  The woman’s name becomes Yuki, or Yo, or Nori, instead of Yukiko, Yoko or Noriko.

I have a teacher, a ??, on Okinawa. Her name is Nao, but she was probably born Naoko. Nao has several meanings. This kanji means big, large, great.  Not the most flattering name for a woman.

   This nao can mean furthermore/still/yet/more/still more/greater/further/less.  Rather abstract for a woman’s name.

  This nao means what it looks like:   direct/in person/soon/at once/just/near by/honesty/frankness/simplicity/cheerfulness/correctness/being straight/night duty.  I could see this word being used for a woman’s name.

    Or this?   I’m just guessing because I did not see Nao-san’s name written when I was on Okinawa.

Nao JJ Remy Sam Elise 2011 October

     Nao-san, left above, was my ??  sensei, teacher on Okinawa.  These kanji read ‘Naoko,’ but she dropped the ko and became Nao.


Photo:   Wesley Freeman


  in hiragana is   and in katakana is    and in romaji is Naoko.

SailorMoon-PrismTime-01              TheCherryProject-01

Nao’s name may be written several different ways in kanji alone.  She can be or or or and several other ways as well.  Sometimes a person will change the ‘spelling’ of her name for many different reasons at different stages in her life.


hito ga ii goodnatured

Hito ga ii.     Good person.   Good natured person.

Japanese medicine



?? atsui “to be hot”) which can become past (???? atsukatta “it was hot”), or negative (???? atsuku nai “it is not hot”). Note that nai is also an i adjective, which can become past (?????? atsuku nakatta “it was not hot”     ?????? Gohan ga atsui. “The rice is hot.”     ???? atsuku naru “become hot”.


Takayama Jinai       Japanese name written with four characters.      Takayama means ‘high mountain.’

No Parking Within 100 Years

???      ano yama      that mountain

Back Camera




???????????????????   Utsukushii keshiki o miteiru to kokoro ga nagusamerareru.


Looking at beautiful scenery is a consolation to me.



Bullet train.    Shinkansen.     Photo:  Max Clarke

omoshiroii amusing

la machine infernale

Omoshiroii.        Interesting, funny.




She doesn’t think so.


The phrase under the images means Ten common phrases that stump Japanese students of English

japanese language school


This gentleman will pay for everything.     ??????????    (konohito ga zembu haraimasu)


nagata yoichi

????         ??????????     Jissai ni atta koto da.        It actually happened.




Calpis Pocari Sweat

In Japan there are soft drinks named sweat and piss.



donnashigotooshiteiruno job?

Donna shigoto o shite iru no.

car dismember

What kind of work do you do?




Kanojo wa shashin yori jissai no hou ga utsukushii.      She is prettier than her picture.



??????????????????  Kare wa kawarimono da to hyouban daga jissai sou da.      He is said to be eccentric and he really is.

boats Okinawa


a cool uke

akarui cheerful

Cheerful.       Akarui.

beauty, Okinawa



Clever.     Kashikoi.



doushita no what's the matter

What’s the matter?   (Doo shita no.)


I spilled coffee in my car.

Japanese fans

bar scene
?????????      Dai joobu desu.    That’s all right.


You hear the question ???????? Dai joobu desuka? a lot in Japan. Everyone is trying to reassure each other. Is it OK? Is it allowed?


????????????   attractive

Okinawan by Larry Henson


Elise Sam David Hicks

sorewaitsudattano when was that

wes,elise,gary, bert

When was that?






Sam Michel Kyoto 1995

Sam Andrew                                        Michel Bastian          Kyoto     1995            Photo:   Keizo Yamazawa

Sam Andrew 1995 Kyoto

????????????????????      ky?to ni itta koto ga arimasuka.          Have you ever been to Kyoto?


J.D. Salinger


To begin with, there was that voice.  Like no other voice you ever heard.  Authentic, real, genuine, immediate.

school salinger

Mark Twain, when he wrote Huckleberry Finn, might have sounded like that to contemporary readers and of course that novel is wonderful, but there is something about the Salinger voice that is special.


J.D. Salinger was Holden Caulfield.


All novels are autobiographical.  They have to be. The Catcher in the Rye is the story of the trauma that Salinger suffered in World War II and on some level it is a healing of that trauma.



J.D. Salinger landed in Normandy on D Day, he was in the battle of the Hürtgen Forest and in the battle of the Bulge and when all of that was over, he was one of the first people in the camps at the end of the war. He had experienced World War II as intensely as anyone and when it was all over he went into a mental hospital in Nuremberg.

J.D. Salinger I'm Crazy Collier's

Just after this experience, he wrote a story called I’m Crazy featuring Holden Caulfield that was published by Collier’s on 22 December 1945.

catcher writing

Salinger carried the first six chapters of The Catcher in the Rye with him throughout the war.


Old Phoebe didn’t even wake up. When the light was on and all, I sort of looked at her for a while. She was laying there asleep, with her face sort of on the side of the pillow. She had her mouth way open. It’s funny. You take adults, they look lousy when they’re asleep and have their mouths way open, but kids don’t. Kids look all right. They can even have spit all over the pillow and they still look all right.












elaine joyce


claire douglas



JD Salinger & sister Doris


colleen o'neill


betty eppes


lacey fosburgh

If you do something too good, then, after a while, if you don’t watch it, you start showing off. And then you’re not as good any more.

joyce maynard

Some day, Joyce, there will be a story you will want to tell for no better reason than because it matters to you more than any other. You’ll give up this business of delivering what everybody tells you to do. You’ll stop looking over your shoulder to make sure you’re keeping everybody happy, and you’ll simply write what’s real and true. Honest writing always makes people nervous, and they’ll think of all kinds of ways to make your life hell. One day a long time from now you’ll cease to care anymore whom you please or what anybody has to say about you. That’s when you’ll finally produce the work you’re capable of.

nusch eluard

My gosh, if I’d just read about one-tenth of what that woman’s read and forgotten, I’d be happy. I mean she’s taught, she’s worked on a newspaper, she designs her own clothes, she does every single bit of her own housework.


There isn’t any nightclub in the world you can sit in for a long time unless you can at least buy some liquor and get drunk. Or unless you’re with some girl that knocks you out.


I think if you don’t really like a girl, you shouldn’t horse around with her at all, and if you do like her, then you’re supposed to like her face, and if you like her face, you ought to be careful about doing crumby stuff to it, like squirting water all over it. It’s really too bad that so much crumby stuff is a lot of fun sometimes.


I remember wanting to do something about that enormous-faced wristwatch she was wearing — perhaps suggest that she try wearing it around her waist.


Tell everybody when you love somebody, and how much.

frances glassmoyer

For joy, apparently, it was all Franny could do to hold the phone, even with both hands.


Charlotte once ran away from me, outside the studio, and I grabbed her dress to stop her, to keep her near me. A yellow cotton dress I loved because it was too long for her.

robert frank 1959

I don’t really deeply feel that anyone needs an airtight reason for quoting from the works of writers he loves, but it’s always nice, I’ll grant you, if he has one.

girl in chair

The refusal to rest content, the willingness to risk excess on behalf of one’s obsessions, is what distinguishes artists from entertainers, and what makes some artists adventurers on behalf of us all.       John Updike

call up the writer

The Catcher in the Rye has been called one of the “three perfect books” in American literature, along with Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Great Gatsby.


Adam Gopnik writes that “no book has ever captured a city better than Catcher in the Rye captured New York in the fifties.”


Between 1961 and 1982, The Catcher in the Rye was the most censored book in high schools and libraries in the United States.  It was both the most censored book and the second most taught book in public schools in the United States.

deer hunting cap

A deer hunter hat? Like hell it is. I sort of closed one eye like I was taking aim at it. This is a people shooting hat. I shoot people in this hat.  Catcher in the Rye


Assassins have seen The Catcher in the Rye as some sort of instruction manual, including Robert John Bardo who murdered Rebecca Schaeffer, John Hinckley, Jr. and Mark David Chapman, who was arrested with a copy of the book that he had purchased that day, inside which he had written, “To Holden Caulfield, From Holden Caulfield, This is my statement”.


Arthur Bremer who shot George Wallace had a copy of Catcher in the Rye in his apartment.


In March, 1972, Bremer attended a George Wallace campaign meeting at Milwaukee’s Red Carpet Airport Inn. At the end of the evening Bremer picked up a bundle of posters, bumper stickers and a Wallace lapel button. Over the next few days he began pasting posters on the lamposts in Milwaukee.


On 15th May, 1972, Bremer tried to assassinate George Wallace at a presidential campaign rally in Laurel, Maryland. He shot Wallace four times.


Richard Nixon told Charles Colson that he was concerned that Bremer “might have ties to the Republican Party or, even worse, the President’s re-election committee”. Nixon also asked Colson to find a way of blaming George McGovern for the shooting.


Colson phoned E. Howard Hunt and asked him to break-in to Bremer’s apartment to discover if he had any documents that linked him to Nixon or George McGovern.


In May, 1974, Martha Mitchell visited George Wallace in Montgomery. She told him that her husband, John N. Mitchell, had confessed that Charles Colson had a meeting with Arthur Bremer four days before the assassination attempt.


Arthur Bremer was the inspiration for Travis Bickle, the character Robert DeNiro played in Taxi Driver, which also starred a young Jodie Foster.


Which brings us to another Catcher in the Rye reader, John Hinckley, Jr.


“‘Kill her and take her money, so that afterwards with its help you can devote yourself to the service of all mankind and the common cause’… ‘Of course, she doesn’t deserve to be alive,’…”   Dostoevsky’s Raskolnikov overhears this in a bar and it seems to give him more of a reason to commit the crime because he knew that he was not the only one considering it.


But how did I murder her? Is that how men do murders? Do men go to commit a murder as I went then? I will tell you some day how I went! Did I murder the old woman? I murdered myself, not her! I crushed myself once for all, for ever.… But it was the devil that killed that old woman, not I. Enough, enough, Sonia, enough! Let me be!   Crime and Punishment


When reason fails, the devil helps.       Dostoevsky 


“Dostoevsky gives me more than any scientist, more than Gauss.”     Albert Einstein


The fact is that Holden didn’t shoot anyone.


Despite his moral paralysis and perception of phoniness, he received a kind of redemption at the end of The Catcher in the Rye when he and his sister Phoebe made plans to go west, to ‘light out for the Territory,’ as Huckleberry Finn put it.

ps 166 1929

Valley Forge Military Academy 1930-40s rj silverstein georgewashingtoninauguralbutton.com su402



cornish map


rejects film offer

happy jerry




donald hartog and salinger


See you next week?

Sam Andrew, senior photo, KHS


Hildegard von Bingen

001 hildegard

Hildegard von Bingen


002 HildegardMap


Hildegard von Bingen composed hymns.

St Ignatius Church, University of California. San Francisco, California, USA

I first knew Hildegard von Bingen as a song creator because I sang Gregorian chant in St. Ignatius church in San Francisco.




Hildegard was also a playwright whose lyrical drama Ordo Virtutum gave the nuns an opportunity to frolic in silk gowns and jewels.


Hildegard was a scholar who amassed a library at a time when books were rare and difficult to obtain.


She was science minded and was a practitioner of holistic medicine with advanced knowledge of herbal healing.


Much of our knowledge about Hildegarde von Bingen is based on a biography written by two contemporary monks, Godefrid and Theodoric.



The tenth child in a noble family, Hildegarde was placed under the care of a Catholic anchoress named Jutta, at the age of eight.



Jutta was a recluse who set up a Benedictine community just outside of Bingen.



Benedictine nuns lived hermetic lives and spent most of their time alone in meditation.


Influenced by Jutta’s devotional lifestyle, Hildegarde dedicated herself to the church.



Although she claimed to have had supernatural visions as an infant, she hid her prophetic ability, revealing it only to Jutta, who died when Hildegarde was 38.


In 1136, Hildegarde assumed the role of Mother Superior of the convent.



In 1147, she moved the convent to Rupertsberg, a town near Bingen, as urged by one of her visions.


Although never formally educated and unable to write, Hildegarde quickly became a well-regarded authority and gave influential advice, relying on secretaries to transcribe her ideas onto paper.


She was an idolized visionary who earned a saint-like status and name, despite her lack of official beatification.


Hildegarde herself created a drawing, or illumination, in her manuscript Scivias (Know the Ways), circa 1140–50, of her defining vision, in which the great span of the universe revealed itself to her in a trance as “round and shadowy…pointed at the top, like an egg…its outermost layer of a bright fire.”


On 7 October 2012, Pope Benedict XVI  named Hildegard von Bingen a Doctor of the Church.



Hildegard has become well known among feminist scholars.


She called herself a member of the “weaker sex” and she severely judged other women.


Hildegard frequently referred to herself as an unlearned woman, completely incapable of Biblical exegesis.


Such a statement on her part, however, worked to her advantage because it made her statements that all of her writings and music came from visions of the Divine more believable.


Hildegard had the authority to speak in a time and place where few women were permitted a voice.


Hildegard used her voice to condemn church practices she disagreed with, in particular simony, which is the act of selling church offices and roles.


The practice is named after Simon Magus, who is described in the Acts of the Apostles 8:9–24 as having offered two disciples of Jesus, Peter and John, payment in exchange for their empowering him to impart the power of the Holy Spirit to anyone on whom he would place his hands.


For some years now Hildegard has been an admired figure in the New Age movement, mostly due to her holistic and natural view of healing, as well as her status as a mystic.


It is quite probable that Hildegard von Bingen invented the morality play.


Hildegard’s musical compositions are the best-preserved body of work by any medieval composer, and her work is so completely original that it is a delight to sing.




Her medical treatises and herbals rank with the most sophisticated works of her day.


She thought about and wrote about theology and cosmology, instructing the greatest minds of her day in the fine points of the composition of heavenly spheres, not to mention the relationship of the planets to both the human form and the divine.


 Viriditas, a central concept for Hildegard,  is Latin for the greening, “greening power” or “sustaining life force,” denoted God’s generative power that permeates and upholds all creation.
The word  Viriditas is  used constantly in all of her works.
It has been suggested that the lushness of the imagery is possibly due to the lushness of her surroundings at Disibodenberg.
liber scivias6
“The viriditas of the earth and plants greatly thrive in the morning, because the air is cold and the sun is warm.  And the herbs very strongly suck viriditas, like a lamb who sucks milk, because the heat of the day is barely sufficient to…cook and fortify the day’s viriditas so far as it is made fertile for the producing of fruit.”
  • There is the Music of Heaven in all things and we have forgotten how to hear it until we sing.


  • When the words come, they are merely empty shells without the music. They live as they are sung, for the words are the body and the music the spirit.
  • opulcrefaciesfacs
  • Every element has a sound, an original sound from the order of God; all those sounds unite like the harmony from harps and zithers.


• The Word is living, being, spirit, all verdant greening, all creativity. This Word manifests itself in every creature.


Hildegard von Bingen wrote this in the twelth century of our era:

• Now in the people that were meant to be green there is no more life of any kind. There is only shriveled barrenness. The winds are burdened by the utterly awful stink of evil, selfish goings-on. Thunderstorms menace. The air belches out the filthy uncleanliness of the peoples. The earth should not be injured! The earth must not be destroyed!

Sam singing alone Hildegard

Sam Andrew


DNA: the most unusual molecule on earth


DNA: the most unusual molecule on earth.

DNA Franklin Crick Watson


In the cell is a nucleus and in the nucleus are forty-six chromosomes and in the chromosomes are long strands of deoxyribonucleic acid. How long are the strands of DNA? About two meters. So, in every one of the ten thousand trillion cells in your body are roughly six feet of deoxyribonucleic acid.


Do you feel strung out or tied down? You have twenty million kilometers of DNA inside you.


Each strand of deoxyribonucleic acid has 3.2 billion letters of coding which will enable more combinations than I can write here, but let’s just say the number would be a one followed by more than three billion zeros. You think you are unique? Well, you are. And yet you are 99.9 % the same as everyone else and we are all related, but that is another story for another time.


Although, our human species has evolved with a two-strand DNA found in each of the twenty-three pairs of chromosomes in every cell of the body, this was not our original blueprint. There are extra strands sometimes called “junk” DNA. These disconnected strands are really an essential part of our original genetic blueprint, and, who knows, they could be the most important of all, used for something that we have no idea exists.


DNA, the very source of life, is not alive itself. As geneticist Richard Lewontin puts it, deoxyribonucleic acid is “among the most nonreactive, chemically inert molecules in the living world.”


Because DNA is so inert, it can last a long time as the saga of Monica’s blue dress reminds us. License plate photos: Max Clarke


In 1869, Johann Friedrich Miescher at the University of Tübingen in southern Germany, upstream from Mannheim, where Big Brother played not so long ago, was looking at the pus in surgical bandages through a microscope, similar to the ones you can get from sites like EduLab these days.. He noticed that there was a large amount of a material he called nuclein because it was in the nuclei of cells.


He thought this material nuclein must be important because there was so much of it. Later, in a letter to his uncle, Miescher suggested that these unusual molecules could have to do with heredity. This was such an amazing insight that everyone ignored it for eighty-five years, now scientists today are using microscopes daily to find all sorts of information out about a persons biological makeup.


They all assumed that DNA was too simple to transmit heredity since it had only four parts, or nucleotides. Nowadays, we know that DNA isn’t too simple to influence an individual’s biological makeup, and tests such as https://trugenx.com/hereditary-cancer-screening/ can now be done to see if something has the potential to run in the family. With scientific advancements, DNA can now be used to connect lost families or to show who a child’s biological parents are. It’s popular for a lot of people to use DNA for paternity testing in Providence RI, as well as all over the world, to ensure that the child’s biological father is present for its upbringing.


How could anything with just four basic elements carry the whole story of life?


When we were young, our father taught us the morse code. It has just two basic components, a dot and a dash. You can write War and Peace with the morse code, and you can write all the other books in the world with it too.

cam dna

It became clear over time that DNA was an important part of making proteins, but proteins were made outside of the nucleus so how was DNA, inside the nucleus, communicating the protein making instructions?

DNA mugshots

Finally investigators realized that the medium of communication between DNA and the proteins outside of the cell was ribonucleic acid (RNA).


So now everyone grasped that DNA was indeed paramount in the transmission of heredity, but what was its structure? How did it do that transmitting?

helix 2


Who was going to be the first to describe how deoxyribonucleic acid actually worked?


Improbably enough, the first people to crack the DNA code were four scientists in England, who a. were new to biochemistry, b. didn’t work together as a team, and c. were rather childish, competitive individuals who often didn’t speak to each other.


James Watson (right) could have been Seymour Glass. He was a child prodigy, a member of The Quiz Kids, a highly popular radio program, he entered the University of Chicago at age fifteen, earned a PhD by twenty-two, and he had a full head of academically willful hair.


“It was my hope,” wrote Watson, “that the gene might be solved without my learning any chemistry.”

kings wilkins

Maurice Wilkins was convinced from the outset that the DNA structure was helical. Wilkins, the boffin (British slang for a nerdy science type) of the group, had worked on the atom bomb during World War II.


Francis Crick wrote the story of his life and called it What Mad Pursuit. He wrote a seven page letter to his son here explaining what he and Watson had discovered in 1953, the double helix as the molecular structure of DNA. This letter recently sold at auction for the most that has ever been paid for a private letter.


For this breaking of the genetic code, Crick, Watson and Maurice Wilkins were awarded the Nobel Prize for medicine in 1962 and Rosalind Franklin was not since the Nobel is awarded only to the living. It must be said that Rosalind Franklin, who played a large part in the project, was treated very shabbily in this whole affair.

a franklin

Men of science do not always behave nobly. They are human, after all, and as apt to act ignobly as the rest of us. Rosalind Franklin’s images of X-ray diffraction confirming the helical structure of DNA were shown to Watson without her approval or knowledge.


Rosalind Franklin came to King’s College, London, in early 1951 and that summer she took the famous ‘Photo 51? and made important studies of the DNA molecule. Francis Crick and James Watson of Cambridge University “obtained” Photo 51, and some of Franklin’s data and with their own deductions built the first correct model of the DNA molecule.


Franklin’s habit of intensely looking people in the eye while being concise, impatient and directly confrontational to the point of abrasiveness unnerved many of her colleagues, but this is no excuse for some of the chicanery that went on with her private papers.


Rosalind Franklin was female and Jewish, and Crick and Watson were male, immature and not a little pigheaded.


Rosalind Franklin died in 1958 at the age of 37 of ovarian cancer. One key ingredient to winning the Nobel is longevity. There are cases of Nobel laureates who won the prize fifty years after the work they had done. They had to be living, though. There are no posthumous Nobel awards.


In 1921, Albert Einstein was awarded the Nobel prize for work he had done in 1905. This was for his explanation of the photoelectric effect, because relativity was considered still somewhat controversial in 1921.


Francis Crick, the son of a Northampton shoemaker, worked until 1976 in the Cambridge Laboratory for Molecular Biology before accepting a post as a neurobiologist at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California.

James Watson Young

James Watson returned to America in 1956 and taught at Harvard for the next twenty years. He was director of the National Center for Human Genome Research from 1989 to 1992.

got dna


Watson’s book The Double Helix (1967), compulsory reading for future biology students, is an entertaining tell all that almost ruined his friendship with Crick, who tried in vain to prevent it from being published.


The Double Helix has more in common with Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood than with, say, The History of the English Speaking Peoples. It’s not a scholarly history. It’s more like a memoir crossed with narrative non-fiction. As in the New Journalism, where the account of an event is inextricably mixed with the writer’s personal circumstances and biases, The Double Helix doesn’t represent the objective truth about the search for the structure and function of DNA, but Watson’s own take on that research.


I wish I were DNA Helicase, so I could unzip your genes.

molecule of life

What does DNA stand for? National Dyslexics Association.


replicating dna

I wish I was adenine, then I could get paired with U.


Did you just mutate for a stop codon? Because you’re talking nonsense!


What did the shepherd say when he read that scientists were implanting human DNA in sheep? Bloody hell, I’ve been doing that for years.


Doctor: Bad news, your DNA is backwards. Patient: And…?

RomneyCare DNA cartoon


Ménage à trois! Ligand seeks two receptors into binding and mutual phosphorylation. Let’s get together and transduce some signals.


One strand of DNA to another strand of DNA: Do these genes make me look fat?

see you

i am dna

See you next week?

Kathi Sam shot in the dark close

Kathi McDonald Sam Andrew



001 Cathexis

Cathexis can be seen as the opposite of catharsis. Catharsis is letting it all out. Cathexis is holding it all in, retaining it.


Cathexis: the investment of the libido in objects. An example would be Freud’s cathexis of interest around sexuality.


In German the everyday word that Freud uses for the learned, Greek term cathexis is Besetzung. If we had an English equivalent of Besetzung it would be ‘a Besitting.’ The verb is besetzen: to occupy.


Given Freud’s fondness for mechanico-electric metaphors, a more accurate word than cathexis might be ‘charge.’ Besetz is the word used in public bathrooms to mean that someone is already using the facility. Ocupado.


Grand passion This book was written by Lucian Freud’s daughter.

Esther daughter of Lucian

Esther Freud


Cathexis is the investment of mental or emotional energy in a person, object, or idea.


James Strachey used the Greek word cathexis (???????) to translate Freud’s word Besetzung. Why? Besetzung was a perfectly good word. Why enshrine the term in some sort of pseudo classicism?


Besetzung is a common word in German, a word that can mean ‘occupation’ or an ‘electrical charge.’ Or, was the word cathexis used, because of the meaning in this joke: When Angela Merkel flew to Greece, they asked her on the customs delaration, Besetzung (occupation) ? And she wrote, “Oh, no, I’m just here for a few days.”

111222 Das psychische Apparat

This is where the translator can be a traitor. Look at the words id, ego, superego. Freud never wrote these words. In German, he wrote it, I and over I. Es, ich und überich. Freud didn’t use Latin. He used German. So when we read id, ego and superego, we have a very different idea of what Freud said from what he actually said. The same is true with cathexis. Freud wrote comfortable, everyday words and his translators used Greek and Latin terms, one of them, cathexis, entirely coined for the occasion. This is a betrayal of the person you are translating into English. If Freud uses an everyday word like Besetzung, shouldn’t you use an everyday word like occupation to translate him? Maybe such a word as Besetzung was too loaded with a war time meaning? But, still, Freud was Jewish, so… ? People are hardly going to think Freud will use the word Besetzung in the same sense that German High Command did.


The word cathexis was first used in 1922.


I once knew a cat named Cathexis. She mentioned that she came from Texas. I said, “If that’s so, and I doubt it, you know, then your real name’s probably Alexis.

e cathexis

diese Uni

In his psychoanalytic theory of personality, Freud suggested that psychic energy is generated by the libido (Libidobesetzung). The sign says This uni (university) is occupied.


Greek kathexis, holding, retention, from katekhein, to hold fast : kat-, kata-, intensive pref.; see cata- + ekhein

Steampunk Frankenstein lores

Steam punk psychiatry? Freud often described the functioning of psychosexual energies in mechanical terms, influenced perhaps by the dominance of the steam engine at the end of the nineteenth century.


Cathexis has entered pop culture, of course. There is an episode of StarTrek called Cathexis. There are oil companies called Cathexis (!). The word is misused in all sorts of ways by the kind of people who think that the use of a polysyllable will make them sound important.


From a television guide: Cathexis is a collection of erotic stories and images where reality is transcended through sexual excess. An enchanting dominatrix reshapes a beautiful boy into her female plaything; A mysterious metal box creates organic hallucinations; A young woman becomes sexually obsessed with the creature left in her care. Oh, boy. Where do they get this stuff? I’m glad I don’t have to watch that. The thing is, many people would actually be enthralled when watching this and people often take to this sexual dynamic in their personal relationships, however, to those that do like to play the dominant and submissive roles, the subs do have to be aware of the signs to ensure they are safe and in the right hands when being dominated by a male or female. Although those who get into it usually know the risks, you can never know what will happen and safe words are a necessity. All that latex can really make people start feeling alive and transform them, mostly in a positive way.
Remember the Orgasmatron in Sleeper?
There was some cathecting going on in that room.
Use cathexis in a sentence: His frustration with his father was repressed, but re-emerged through a cathexis in relation to his boss.
b cathexis
America was a mistake, a giant mistake. Sigmund Freud
Sigmund Freud was a mistake, a giant mistake. Sam Andrew Although Lucian Freud was a great artist who worked hard and did some beautiful things.
How the guys down the pub look at it: Guy A: Man, have you seen Joe? What’s up with him lately? Guy B: Being an obsessive stalker like always. This time his cathexis is the girl next door. Guy A: That’s screwed up.
Join LinkedIn and see how you are connected to Cathexis. It’s free. Uh, no, thank you.
Cathexis Oil and Gas is a well capitalized private oil and gas company located in downtown Houston. Cathexis will participate in non-op as well as operated opportunities utilizing industry best practices. Areas of interest span all of North America. Uh, no, thank you.
That kind of selfish, spiritually destructive, motherly cathexis is best perpetrated on geese, dogs and a cat. Uh, no, I don’t think so.
`The cathexis between mother and daughter-essential, distorted, misused – is the great unwritten story. And why don’t we leave it that way?
A band called Cathexis plays death metal down in Austin, Texas. Well, OK, as long as I don’t have to listen to it. I’m sure that they are very talented, though.
Cathexis is related to obsession. It is the concentration of mental energy on one particular person, idea, or object (especially to an unhealthy degree).
Now this I can relate to. I’ve been obsessed with one thing or another all my life.
When used to define narcissism, the term cathexis refers to the fact that one experiences one’s self-concept as inseparable from one’s self. It highlights the intimate integration of this self-concept. It becomes easier to understand if we think of it in relation to the integration of the sense of identity. Cathexis, then, means the integration of one’s identity. We term this integration, in our work, self-realization. In other words, the cathexis of the self is a psychoanalytic concept that approximates our concept of the realization of the self. Hmmmm. Maybe I will listen to that death metal after all.
“I’d been to 20 N. Moore Street and watched the throngs of `mourners’ making instant cathexis for the cameras, `identifying’ with the young `victims’ as avatars of Camelot cut down in their prime, a perfect couple who embodied our hopes and dreams, symbols of America’s longing for nobility, etc.” Guy Trebay, Eyes Wide Shut, The Village Voice, Aug 3, 1999
The notion of a cathexis is closely similar to the philosophical idea of an “intentional” state, which derives from Franz Brentano, Freud’s teacher and mentor. Freud initially held the object of a cathexis always to be intrapsychic, a position which is untenable and which he largely abandoned after 1915, when he began (correctly) to take cathected objects generally to be persons or events, not their representations. His idea of a cathexis as “entering into” its object contains a valuable and neglected insight, which undermines the centrality of the distinction between the “outer” and “inner” realms of experience. This distinction should not be confused with the key distinction between “fantasy” and “actuality” with respect to cathectic objects. So-called “inner” (fantasy) objects are generally “inside” the mind in a metaphorical sense only. (Psychiatric words found on the Net)
hear room
Keep in mind that Freud never used the word cathexis. He could have. He could have easily coined the word Kathexis in German. But he didn’t. He used an ordinary word Besetzung and he was happy with it and didn’t look for another word. The placard says This concert hall is occupied.
Cathexis is the city where humanity (of a sort) has reëmerged following a global transcendence into the Collective Reexistence, the unified psychic ocean of all human identity. (Game instructions on the Internet)
The narcissist cathexes (emotionally invests) with grandiosity everything he owns or does: his nearest and dearest, his work, his environment. But, as time passes, this pathologically intense aura fades. The narcissist finds fault with things and people he had first thought impeccable. He energetically berates and denigrates that which he equally zealously exulted and praised only a short while before.
The man who wrote the above then writes: Why is it, then, that when I revert to my writing a mere few weeks later, I find the syntax tortured, the grammar shoddy, the choice of words forced, the whole piece repulsively bloviated, and the ideas hopelessly tangled and dim? Why not try writing something concrete and real, then, instead of a lot of convoluted claptrap that you don’t even understand or believe yourself?
Fuck the jargon. Keep it short and concise.
Uchinanchu 23 Oct 2011
When you are beset (besetzt) by someone or something, you are occupied with it. It takes up your whole space. You are possessed.
Sentimental attachment to a keepsake, a family heirloom, or a photograph would be an example of cathexis.
Patriotism and other impassioned identifications with groups and systems of belief are also forms of cathexis.
This is often why you are not going to talk someone out of being, say, a conservative.
People hold all kinds of beliefs for rational reasons, irrational reasons, and for reasons that they are not even conscious of.
When you have an argument with a partner or friend and it is on your mind, you can keep going over it, thinking about it, what will happen if you do this, what won’t happen if you do this, and so on, you are investing mental and emotional energy in that situation, event, and person. This is a fairly common thing, right? This must happen to everyone.
His cathexis on stamp collecting is becoming tiresome.
I'll paint this one
Is that a good sentence? It doesn’t seem like a good sentence. It feels as if the word cathexis has been dragged in there. It doesn’t feel natural.
Alison Bechdel wrote this: In a narcissistic cathexis, you invest more energy into your ideas about another person than in the actual, objective, external person.
That’s much better, isn’t it? It actually makes sense, and we have all had this experience.
Wait a minute. I’ve seen this gastrocnemius before. (gastro = belly and kneme = leg) The belly of the leg = calf.
Well, hey, how much sense does calf make anyway? Gastrocnemius is a much more descriptive word, although it may not hurt to translate it into English: legbelly.
Your cathexis is scratching my dogma.
a tues
Donald Rumsfeld’s cathexis with power blinded him, and still blinds him, to the real harm that he did to many people during his Shock and Awe period. He thinks that a simple trademarked grin is going to carry him over his callous irresponsibility to millions of people.
At least Robert McNamara learned something.
See you next week?
Sam piano Stürmann
Sam Andrew

A Nectarine is Glabrous, but a Peach is Downy.

Group Portrait of CCC Enrollees

A Nectarine is Glabrous, but a Peach is Downy.

Blast from the Past (83)

There are several words for ‘bald’ in Latin.


Calvus is the word that came down into the daughter Romance languages.


In French, a ‘bat’ is a chauve-souris, a bald mouse. Chauve is a descendant of calvus.


‘Baldness’ in French is calvitie.


Calvo means ‘bald’ in both Spanish and Italian.


Calvus was the common street word for ‘bald.’  Plautus used it.


The word calvus comes from Proto Indo European *kalw-  (“bald”). Cognate with Avestan (kaurva, “bald”), Persian کل (kal, “bald, hairless”), Sanskrit कुल्व (kulva, “bald”).


Another word for ‘bald’ in Latin is glaber.


Glaber means ‘without hair, smooth.’


Glaber is perhaps a more educated word than calvus.


Why would anyone conclude that glaber is the more educated word and calvus the more popular one?


The main reason is that calvus is the word that came down into the Romance languages, which always took the street word rather than the school word.


After all, French, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Sicilian, Romanian and the rest were all created by the way common people spoke Latin.


The word equus is the refined word for ‘horse’ in Latin.


From equus we get such words as ‘equine’ and ‘equestrian.’


The Latin street word for ‘horse’ was caballus, which had the connotation of, say, ‘nag.’


From caballus we get Spanish caballo, Italian cavallo, French cheval and such words as cavalry, cavalier, chivalrous, chevalier.


Calvus (bald) even came down into German, not a Romance language at all.


‘Bald’ in German is kahl, obviously from Latin calvus.


Another reason for concluding that glaber is the ‘educated’ word for ‘bald’ is that glaber is that the word that is used even today in the sciences and in the library.


Glaber comes from the Proto Indo European *gʰladʰros and is cognate to Proto-Germanic *gladaz and Old Church Slavonic гладъкъ (gladъkъ).


Number Singular Plural
Case \ Gender Masculine Feminine Neuter Masculine Feminine Neuter
nominative glaber glabra glabrum glabrī glabrae glabra
genitive glabrī glabrae glabrī glabrōrum glabrārum glabrōrum
dative glabrō glabrae glabrō glabrīs glabrīs glabrīs
accusative glabrum glabram glabrum glabrōs glabrās glabra
ablative glabrō glabrā glabrō glabrīs glabrīs glabrīs
vocative glaber glabra glabrum glabrī glabrae glabra


The German word glatt (smooth) comes from glaber.


I feel as if such words as glide, glassy, glabrous are related to glaber.


Gaius Claudius Glaber was the Roman praetor in 73 BCE. who failed to defeat Spartacus and his fellow slaves on Mt. Vesuvius during the Third Servile War.


It’s a safe bet that Gaius Claudius Glaber was nowhere near as hirsute as this puppet.


In botany and mycology, a glabrous morphological feature is smooth, glossy, having no trichomes (bristles or hair-like structures).


Glabrous features may be an important means of identifying flora species. Glabrous characteristics of leaves, stems, and fruit are commonly used in plant keys.


The term glabrous is only used for features that lack trichomes at all times. When an organ has trichomes that are lost with age, the term used is glabrescent.


Most mammals have some skin areas without natural hair.


On the human body, glabrous skin is external skin that is naturally hairless.


Glabrous skin is found on the ventral portion of the fingers, palmar surfaces of hands, soles of feet, lips,labia minora, and the glans penis.


Recently, the term glabrousness has been somewhat cavalierly applied to human fashions, wherein some participate in culturally motivated hair removal by depilation  or epilation (removal of the entire hair, such as waxing or plucking).


In many Western cultures men currently are encouraged to shave their beards and women are encouraged to remove hair growth on various areas.


Commonly depilated areas for women are the underarms and legs.


Underarm hair removal is sometimes called axillary depilation.


Of course, people who sell depilatory aids spend a lot of money on advertising to promote hair removal practices.


This commercial push has resulted in the Brazilian waxing trend involving the partial or full removal of pubic hair, since thongs worn on Brazilian beaches are so revealing.


What was once kept a personal secret now is discussed more openly, although still in carefully non-explicit language, as advertised in magazines and on television.


In ancient Egypt, depilation was commonly practiced to prevent infestation by lice and other vermin.


Typically, tweezers were used to pluck out individual hairs.


In both Greece and Rome the removal of body and pubic hair may have been practiced among both men and women.


Both men and women were depicted without body or pubic hair on some of the red figure pottery from Greece.


Muslims have believed at various times that adult removal of pubic and axillary hair, as a hygienic measure, is also religiously beneficial.


Baptized Sikhs, on the other hand, are specifically instructed never to cut, shave, or otherwise remove any hair on their bodies. This is a major tenet of their faith.


Trichophilia is hair fetishism.


A merkin is a pubic wig.


I know a woman named Daphne Merkin.  She’s a writer for The New Yorker.


Daphne means ‘bay’ or ‘laurel,’ so Daphne Merkin could mean a pubic hair wig that is made from laurel leaves, so I enjoy seeing Daphne’s byline in my favorite magazine.  She’s a very good writer. I’ve kidded her about her name and she has taken it in good grace.


Merkins were originally worn by prostitutes after shaving their genitalia, and are now used as decorative items, erotic devices, or in films, by both men and women. This is a merkin worn at Burning Man.


The Oxford English dictionary says that the word ‘merkin’ was first used in 1617.


The word merkin came from a term for the “female pudenda,” apparently a variant of malkin in its sense of “mop.”


The meaning “artificial vagina or ‘counterfeit hair for a woman’s privy parts’ ” is attested from 1610s.


The custom of wearing a merkin dates from mid fifteenth century, and it was associated with prostitutes, and was to disguise a want of pubic hair, shaved off either to exterminate body lice or evidence of venereal disease.


This put a strange Whim in his Head; which was, to get the hairy circle of a Merkin …. This he dry’d well, and comb’d out, and then return’d to the Cardinall, telling him, he had brought St. Peter’s Beard.      A Complete History of the Lives and Robberies of the most notorious Highwaymen 1714   Alexander Smith


In Hollywood,  merkins can be worn by actors to avoid inadvertent exposure of the genitalia during nude or semi-nude scenes.


If a merkin were not worn, it would be necessary to restrict the shot to exclude the genital area.


With the merkin in place, brief flashes of the crotch can be used if necessary.


The presence of the merkin protects the actor from inadvertently performing “full-frontal” nudity. Some contracts specifically require that nipples and genitals be covered in some way — which can help ensure that the film achieves a less restrictive MPAA rating.


A merkin may also be used if the actor has less pubic hair than required, such as the nude dancing extras in The Bank Job or Amy Landecker in A Serious Man. In a nude sunbathing scene, her bikini wax was not common for the period (1967) when the film is set).


For the same reason (having less pubic hair than required) female slaves in Spartacus: Blood and Sand wore merkins.


Lucy Lawless was fitted for a merkin for Spartacus, but did not actually use it.


In an interview for Allure, Kate Winslet related how she refused to wear a merkin in The Reader.


Let me tell you, The Reader was not glamorous for me in terms of body-hair maintenance. I had to grow it in, because you can’t have a landing strip in 1950, you know? And then because of years of waxing, as all of us girls know, it doesn’t come back quite the way it used to. They even made me a merkin because they were so concerned that I might not be able to grow enough. I said, ‘Guys, I am going to have to draw the line at a pubic wig, but you can shoot my own snatch up close and personal.


At the São Paulo Fashion Week in 2010, design firm Neon dressed a nude model in transparent plastic. According to the designer, the model wore a pubic wig to make her appear more natural.


In the director’s audio commentary of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, director David Fincher discussed how a merkin was utilized for actress Rooney Mars, after she suggested to him that the character she portrayed in the movie was a natural red head in the book and actually dyed her hair black.


Consequently, the merkin Rooney Mara wore for the film was made in the color red.


The term merkin has been used in an obscene sense to refer to the vulva.


Merkins R Us:  In the UK, the term merkin has also been in common usage as a jocular term for an American since the 1960s.

Motor Car-Cadillac

Tea Party members call themselves a merkin.  ”Ah’m Amerkin.”


The Oxford English Dictionary reports that the term merkin has become common Internet slang for Americans or American English.

dsc00450.jpg Motor car 1931 V16 Cadillac

The popular saltwater fly fishing lure, used primarily in targeting bonefish, Del Brown’s Merkin, is named after the artificial hairpiece.   Bonefish?


The Merkin fly pattern represents a crab, which refers to the merkin’s historical use for pubic lice (crabs).

Woodrow Wilson Britain Visit

Del’s Merkin is tied with a disc of fuzzy yarn, imitating the crab’s shell, but also reminiscent of the fly’s namesake.


In Vladimir Nabokov’s 1955 novel Lolita, Humbert Humbert confesses to the reader,  ”Although I told myself I was looking merely for a soothing presence, a glorified pot-au-feu, an animated merkin, what really attracted me to Valeria was the imitation she gave of a little girl.”


In Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 Dr. Strangelove,  the President of the United States, played by Peter Sellers, is named Merkin Muffley.


Maynard James Keenan, lead singer of American progressive metal band Tool, owns an Arizona grape vineyard by the name of Merkin Vineyards.


“The pain, disruption and distress, that the Sun inflicted by falsely claiming that I cheated on my girlfriend, in the context of such awesome corruption, is a pale liver-spot on the back of Murdoch’s glabrous claw.”          Russell Brand


“The Cyclops had a glabrous eyeball, glabrous as a piece of porcelain.”             Sam Andrew


She shaved religiously from an early age so that her vulva was perfectly glabrous both before and after she went through puberty.


Glabrous skin on the palmar aspect of the hands and the plantar aspect of the feet has special attributes.


These attributes define the skin on the palm, fingers, and sole as functionally and aesthetically different from skin on other parts of the body.


When there is a glabrous skin defect, it should be replaced with similar skin to restore function and aesthetics.


An author/physician reports his 12-year experience with the technique of glabrous dermal grafting for the reconstruction of palmar and plantar skin defects.


From 1992 to 2004, 13 patients with 14 defects underwent glabrous dermal grafting of either palmar or plantar defects.


Defects included nine hand and five foot defects.


Causes included nine acute burns, one secondary burn reconstruction, two delayed reconstructions of traumatic injuries, one congenital nevus, and one malignant melanoma.


Donor sites included 12 glabrous dermal grafts from the foot and two from the hand.


All glabrous dermal grafts demonstrated complete epithelialization and no incidence of complete loss.


Glabrous dermal grafting of palmar and plantar defects is the ideal way of reconstructing glabrous skin to restore both function and aesthetics and minimize donor-site morbidity.


Glabrous (nonhairy) skin surfaces (palms of the hands, soles of the feet, face, and ears) constitute a small percentage of total body surface area but contain specialized vascular structures that facilitate heat loss.


Cooling the glabrous skin surfaces is effective in alleviating heat stress and that the application of local subatmospheric pressure enhances the effect.


A line of shells, white and pink and glabrous in the bright sunlight, marked the line of the high tide.


They brandish weapons more befitting to their glabrous state: candor, transparency, directness and a kind of perceptive wonder.


Glabrous skin has an epidermal layer of about 1.5 mm in thickness and a dermis of about 3 mm. Hairy skin has an epidermal layer of 0.07 mm in thickness and a dermis of about 1-2 mm.


There are four different types of skin:  1. Mucocutaneous: at the junction of the mucous membrane, hairy skin, lips, and tongue.   2.  Mucous membrane: lining the inside of body orifices.    3.  Glabrous: skin without hair.    4.  Hairy: skin with hair.


Some ways to communicate the concept ‘glabrous’ in Spanish:   liso, calvo, llano, sin pelo ni pelusa


In Italian:  glabro, senza peluria, liscio


French:  glabre, lisse


German:   glatt    haarlos    bartlos    unbehaart


Greek:   άτριχος    This is a (not)  and trichos (hair)


Russian:    безволосый; гладкий; голый; лишенный волосяного покрова; неопушенный; оголенный    The second word ‘gladkii’ is from the root word glaber in Latin.


Swedish:    hårlös      glatt


Japanese:      無毛の(植物学, 動物学)  Notice that most of these languages are translating the idea of ‘hairlessness’ or ‘not hair’ as here.


“Two or three notabilities of Rockland, with geoponic eyes, and glabrous, bumpless foreheads.”   Oliver Wendell Holmes  1860


And hast thou shorn the Jabberwock? O glabrous day!


Watch for the new Gillette Glabrous.


Glabrous epidermis of Astrophytum asterias nudum


When she meets him, Elsa has the impression “that his body was more like that of a sea lion” – Finn is entirely glabrous.


The face, after all, includes another glabrous surface of the body, so cooling it with water might help stave off exhaustion.


Stem 2–4° high; racemes slender, panicled, ovaries mostly 5, glabrous; pods flattened, veiny, 6–8-seeded.


A Salix glabra is a glabrous willow.


In German this willow is called a Kahle Weide.  Remember that calvus (bald) in German is kahl.


‘I am bound by precedent,’ said the First Lord, turning a vast glabrous expressionless face from Harte to Sir Joseph. — Patrick O’Brian, HMS Surprise   1973


Adriaan rose, pulling out his limbering glabrous cock, his eyes happy. — Guy Davenport     Tatlin!   1974


Acomoclitism (from Greek κομη = hair, negation prefix α-, and κλιτικος = having a preference, from κλινειν = to lean, κλιτυς = a slope) is the technical term for a preference for hairless genitals. The related adjective describing anyone with this preference is acomoclitic.


Acomous, bald, depilous, glabrate, glabrescent, leiotrichous, tonsured


Everyone’s favorite glabrous, middle-brow, populist television commentator is back for this world cup.


To be glabrous in school can be quite a fashion or a nightmare, depending upon your ability to carry off the bald look.


WEST PALM BEACH:      G-l-a-b-r-o-u-s spelled success for a trio of super spellers from Scripps Research Institute and Duffy’s Sports Grill.


The three-person team of Alicia Brantley, Becky Mercer and Lisa Huertas correctly spelled their 10th and final word this evening to win the Great Grown-Up Spelling Bee at the Harriet Himmel Theatre at City Place.


The Scripps/Duffy’s team outlasted runners-up Palm Beach State College and the Gunster law firm with their correct spelling of “glabrous,” an adjective that means having an outer layer of skin that is devoid of hairs or down.


The antithesis of hirsuteness, glabrous is the logophile’s alternative to bald.


By the age of fourteen, Omar stood at a man’s full height and his upper lip bore a dark and lustrous moustache. The other boys, shamed by their glabrous jowls and chins, avoided him.


Glabrous vermicelli


We’ve always regarded slipper lobsters with a modicum of respect because they are hardy and interesting. Slipper lobsters have no pincers and they are welcome in both fish and reef aquariums since they don’t harm anything.  When we saw the glabrous fan lobster, Ibacus bruceii, which immediately reminded us of Shredder from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, we were truly astounded.


The glabrous fan lobster comes from New South Wales, Australia, and it was originally discovered from specimens that were collected at a depth of nearly 500 feet.


The glabrous skin on Joe’s feet was tough because he often went barefoot.


A talented gardener finds that some of his bean plants have pubescent leaves and others have glabrous leaves. He crosses plants and observes the results.


This species has a bluish-tinged body completely covered in white flecking in the typical species, though one may see completely glabrous green variants without any of the body flecking.

EPSON scanner image

Lips, palms and the soles of the feet are examples of glabrous skin in humans.


Think of the éclat when Sergei, resplendent, clean-shaven, glabrous and glorious, returns from his bearded sojourn!


We resisted the rebarbative redneck’s demands on us and we vouchsafed to buy the glabrous old hillbilly a proper hairpiece.


Britney’s glabrous scabbard in all of its shiny and smooth glory was a thing of beauty and a joy to behold.


It was as glabrous as a baby’s bottom.


He was thrilled about having pancakes with Teri, but, after all, he was as glabrous as a bowling ball.  What chance would he have with her?


He had a glabrous dome and a crooked smile that would have done credit to a crocodile.


Cognates of GLABROUS (without hair) at Indo-European “root” gladh (smooth) are GABRO and GLABELLA.


Other Indo-European “root”s meaning baldness are kelewo and klewo, giving us CALVARIUM, CALVINIST, CALVARY and CALVITIES.


GLABROUS deserves mention at Indo-European “root” gal (bald, naked) along with CALLOW.

Dale Burkhardt 22 Feb 2014

Goliboda is a Polish barber.

Jack Perry 22 Feb 2014

Other “gol” words in Polish are golarnia (barbershop), golec (naked man…poor wretch), and golo (naked, bare, in the open air).


See you next week?

Sam Wesley Freeman 22 Feb 2014


Sam Andrew                              Wesley Freeman


The Italian Language

grazie prego


Solo il 1 febbraio è al Fillmore Auditorium



No, no, Jimi è a Winterland.


Ma noi come siamo giunti l’altra volta al 2 e al 4 febbraio? devo vedere un’altra lista di concerti….avevamo incrociato le cose e avevamo pensato che fosse possibile che quel giorno entrambi si trovassero nella stessa città in due diversi locali e che uno dei due potesse essere in visita..perchè al winterland si sono incrociati niente mi pare….o sbaglio? non ricordo più ahahhahahha


Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Somalia, Libya, Ethiopa and Eritrea, and by expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. If you’ve ever stayed in Italian villas, you’ll have heard the language in all of its glory.

voglio venire anch'io al caldo con voi

Voglio venire anch’io al caldo con voi.


Many of these people speak both standardized Italian and other regional languages.


Italian is spoken as a native language by 59 million people in the EU (13% of the EU population), mainly in Italy, and as a second language by 14 million (3%). English is a far more common second language. If you are trying to master your own English skills then this PTE Practice test online will be of great help to you.


Linda foto


Including the Italian speakers in non-EU European countries (such as Switzerland and Albania) and on other continents, the total number of Italian speakers is more than 85 million.

antea anna barban

Bellissimee! Bacionii!


In Switzerland, Italian is one of four official languages.


Italian is studied in all the confederation schools and spoken, as a native language, in the Swiss cantons of Ticino and Grigioni and by the Italian immigrants that are present in large numbers in German- and French-speaking cantons.


Il Sole non termina con la fotosfera e la cromosfera, ma continua in una nebulosità chiamata corona. Quest’ultima si estende oltre l’orbita di Mercurio, di Venere e della Terra…sicchè in realtà noi siamo dentro il Sole.

lupo alberto

Italian is also the official language of San Marino, as well as the primary language of the Vatican City.


Gnoccolitudine che avanza…


Italian is co-official in Slovenian Istria and in Istria County in Croatia.


Gli occhi molto belli sono insostenibili, bisogna guardarli sempre, ci si affoga dentro, ci si perde, non si sa più dove si è.

a wish

The Italian language adopted by the state after the unification of Italy in 1861 is based on Tuscan, which was a language spoken mostly by the upper class Florentine society.


The development of the national language was also influenced by other Italian dialects and by the Germanic languages of the post Roman invaders.


Italian is descended from Latin, and unlike most other Romance languages, retains Latin’s contrast between short and long consonants.


As in most Romance languages, stress is distinctive. Italian is the closest language to Latin in terms of vocabulary.


Italian as a language used in the Italian peninsula has a long history. The earliest surviving texts that can definitely be called Italian (or more accurately, vernacular, as distinct from its predecessor Vulgar Latin) are legal formulae from the province of Benevento that date from 960–963.


What would come to be thought of as Italian was first formalized in the early fourteenth century through the works of Tuscan writer Dante Alighieri, written in his native Florentine.


Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita,
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
ché la diritta via era smarrita.


Dante’s epic poems, known collectively as the Commedia, which another Tuscan poet Giovanni Bocaccio called Divina, were read throughout Italy and his written dialect became the “canonical standard” that all educated Italians could understand.


Dante is still credited with standardizing the Italian language, and thus the dialect of Florence (Tuscan, toscano) became the basis for what would become the official language of Italy.

c'è dentro

Italian often was an official language of the various Italian states preceding the nineteenth century unification, slowly usurping Latin, even when the country was ruled by foreign powers such as the Spanish in Naples or the Austrians in the Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia.


The great mass of people in the peninsula spoke primarily vernacular languages and dialects.


Italian was also one of the many recognized languages in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.


Italy has always had a distinctive dialect for each city, because the cities, until recently, were thought of as separate countries, as city-states.

cento miliardi

The regional dialects of Italy have always had great variety, and many/most of them are mutually incomprehensible.

cerchio di gesso

As Tuscan-derived Italian came to be used throughout Italy, features of local speech were naturally adopted, producing various versions of Regional Italian.


Tanti bei ricordi.


The most characteristic differences, for instance, between Roman Italian and Milanese Italian are the gemination (‘twinning’) of initial consonants and the pronunciation of stressed “e”, and of “s” in some cases. Va bene ”all right” is pronounced [va ?b??ne] by a Roman (and by any standard-speaker), [va ?bene] by a Milanese (and by any speaker whose native dialect lies to the north of La Spezia-Rimini Line.


A casa ”at home” is [a ?k?asa] for Roman and standard, [a ?kaza] for Milanese and generally northern regions.


In contrast to the northern Italian, southern Italian dialects and languages were largely untouched by the Franco-Occitan influences introduced to Italy, mainly by bards and trouvères (troubadours) from France during the Middle Ages.


After the Norman conquest of southern Italy, Sicily became the first Italian land to adopt Occitan lyric moods (and words) in poetry.


Scholars are careful not to overstate the effects of outsiders on the natural indigenous developments of the languages even in the case of northern Italian.


Ho conosciuto l’amore, in tutte le sue vivaci forme d’espressione… E non mi sono mai meravigliata di niente!


The economic might and relatively advanced development of Tuscany in the late middle ages gave that dialect weight, although the Venetian language remained widespread in medieval Italian commercial life.


Dobbiamo festeggiare , bacione stellina …auguri.

at silvestris

Ligurian or Genoese remained in use in maritime trade alongside the Mediterranean, but the increasing political and cultural relevance of Florence during the periods of the rise of the Medici’s financial power, the currents of Humanism and the Renaissance made the Florentine dialect, or rather a refined version of it, a standard in the arts.


Ne avevo pure un’altra ma non ricordo dove.


From the Renaissance on, Italian became the language used in the courts of every state in the peninsula.


Le tre ave maria !


The rediscovery of Dante’s De vulgari eloquentia and a renewed interest in linguistics in the sixteenth century, sparked a debate that raged throughout Italy concerning the criteria that should govern the establishment of a modern Italian literary and spoken language.


Posso rubare questa foto?

Scena intensa....

Scholars divided into three factions:

  • The purists, headed by Venetian Pietro Bembo (who, in his Gli Asolani, claimed the language might be based only on the great literary classics, such as Petrarca and some part of Boccaccio). The purists thought the Divine Comedy not dignified enough, because it used elements from non-lyric registers of the language.
  • Niccolò Machiavelli and other Florentines preferred the version spoken by ordinary people in their own times.
  • The courtiers, like Baldassare Castiglione and Gian Giorgio Trissino, insisted that each local vernacular contribute to the new standard.
  • A fourth faction claimed that the best Italian was the one that the papal court adopted, which was a mix of Florentine and the dialect of Rome.
  • dio presto
  • Eventually, Bembo’s ideas prevailed, and the foundation of the Accademia della Crusca in Florence (1582–1583), the official legislative body of the Italian language, led to publication of Agnolo Monosini’s Latin work Floris italicae linguae libri novem in 1604 followed by the first Italian dictionary in 1612.


An important event that helped the diffusion of Italian was the conquest and occupation of Italy by Napoleone in the early nineteenth century (who was himself of Italian-Corsican descent).


This Napoleonic conquest propelled the unification of Italy some decades after, and turned Tuscan Italian into a lingua franca used not only by clerks, nobility and functionaries in the Italian courts but also by the bourgeoisie.


In Italian literature’s first modern novel, I Promessi Sposi (The Betrothed), Alessandro Manzoni further defined the standard language by “rinsing” his Milanese dialect “in the waters of the Arno” (Florence’s river), as he stated in the Preface to his 1840 edition.


After unification a huge number of civil servants and soldiers recruited from all over the country introduced many more words and idioms from their home languages.


“Ciao,” for example, is derived from a Venetian word “s-cia[v]o” (slave), meaning ‘I am your slave,” a phrase of affection. Click the link to learn more Greetings in Italian.

karikatur für tribüne-liebespaar

“Panettone” (a kind of Christmas cake) comes from the Lombard word “panatton.”


Una foto da non perdere.

caterina russo Caterina Russo

Only 2.5% of Italy’s population could speak the Italian standardized language properly when the nation unified in 1861. Eighteen sixty-one. The USA, always touted as a ‘new’ nation, was almost a hundred years old by this time.


Italian is part of the Italic branch of the Indo-European language family, and is related most closely to the other two Italo-Dalmatian languages, Sicilian and the extinct Dalmatian.

belli tutti, ma l'acchiappasogni..

Belli tutti, ma l’acchiappasogni…


Italian lexical similarity to Latin is 90%.

FabritiusHappyChildC1645-50ToledoA web

French is 88%. Catalan 85%, with Sardinian 82%, with Spanish and Portuguese 78%, with Rhaeto-Romance and Romanian 77%.


A gnocca!

Knowledge of Italian according to EU statistics


Sei un bel fiore. Ti chiami il Fibonacci.

tisembrounachese ledevefarspiegarele cose?

Ti sembro una che se le deve far spiegare le cose?


Italian is spoken by a minority in Monaco and France (especially in the southeast of the country and Corsica).


Small Italian-speaking minorities can also be found in Albania and Montenegro.


Ti ho taggato perchè Ezio mi aveva accennato della tua passione per le gocce!


Due to heavy Italian influence during the Italian colonial period, Italian is still widely understood in the countries of Libya and Eritrea.


Although it was the primary language of Libya under colonial rule, Italian greatly declined under the rule of Muammar Gaddafi, who expelled the Italian Libyan population and made Arabic the sole official language of the country.


Ragazzi è stato un piacere e un onore conoscervi.. addioooooooooooo!


Italian remains an important language in the education and economic sectors in Libya.


In Eritrea, Italian is a principal language in commerce and the capital city Asmara still has an Italian-language school.


Italian was also introduced in Somalia through colonialism and was the sole official language of administration and education during the colonial period but declined after government, educational and economic infrastructure was destroyed in the Somali Civil War.



Italian was also used in administration in Ethiopia when the country was briefly occupied by Italy from 1936 to 1941.

gli sguardi

Although over 17 million Americans are of Italian descent, only a little over one million people in the United States speak Italian at home, but an Italian language media market does exist in the US.

Antonio Donghi's Woman at the Cafe (1932)

In Canada, Italian is the second most spoken non-official language when Chinese dialects are not combined, with over 660,000 speakers (or about 2.1% of the population) according to the 2006 Census.


Si qualunque contatto reale è pù importante di altri virtuali, ciao Anthea, grazie e buona serata !


In Australia, Italian is the second most spoken foreign language after the Chinese languages, with 1.4% of the population speaking it as their home language.


Italian immigrants to South America have also brought a presence of the language to the continent.


Italian is the second most spoken language in Argentina after the official language of Spanish, with 1.5 million speaking it natively, and Italian has also heavily influenced the dialect of Spanish spoken in Argentina and Uruguay,which is called Rioplatense Spanish (from Rio Plata).

siamo i migliori.

Siamo i migliori.


Small Italian-speaking minorities on the continent are also found in Uruguay, Venezuela and Brazil.


Italian is widely taught in many schools around the world, but rarely as the first foreign language. Italian is considered the fourth- or fifth-most frequently taught foreign language in the world.


According to the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, every year there are more than 200,000 foreign students that are learning Italian language, distributed in the 90 Institutes of Italian Culture in the world, in the 179 Italian schools abroad and in the 111 Italian sections that are open into foreign schools.


In the United States, Italian is the fourth most taught foreign language after Spanish, French and German, in that order (or the fifth if American Sign Language is considered).


In central-eastern Europe Italian is first in Albania and Montenegro, second in Austria, Croatia, Slovenia, and Ukraine after English, and third in Hungary, Romania and Russia after English and German.


Throughout the world, Italian is the fifth most taught foreign language, after English, French, German, and Spanish.

kurt justin

Italian is spoken as a native language by 13% of the European Union population, or 65 million people, mainly in Italy.


In the European Union, Italian is spoken as a second language by 3% of the EU population, or 14 million people.


In addition, among EU states, the Italian language is most likely to be learned as a second language in Malta by 61% of the population,


as well as in Slovenia by 15% of the population,

le tre

in Croatia by 14% of the population,


in Austria by 11% of the population,

lo sguardo

Romania by 8% of the population, and in France and Greece by 6% of the population.


Italian is also one of the national languages of Switzerland, which is not a part of the European Union.


The Italian language is well-known and studied in Albania, another non-EU member, due to its historical ties and geographical proximity to Italy.

mai fatto

During the Renaissance, Italy held artistic sway over the rest of Europe. All educated European gentlemen were expected to make the Grand Tour, visiting Italy to see its great historical monuments and works of art. It thus became expected that educated Europeans should learn at least some Italian.


During the Elizabethan period, especially, there was a strong Italian influence on English cultural life. Think of all the Italian plots in Shakespeare.


Vedi che non si sta poi così male a Malta!


In Florence, which I have always admired above all others because of the elegance, not just of its tongue, but also of its wit, I lingered for about two months. There I at once became the friend of many gentlemen eminent in rank and learning, whose private academies I frequented — a Florentine institution which deserves great praise not only for promoting humane studies but also for encouraging friendly intercourse. John Milton Defensio Secunda


In England, Italian became the second most common modern language to be learned, after French (though the classical languages, Latin and Greek, came first).


In the Catholic Church, of course, Italian is known by a large part of the ecclesiastical hierarchy, and is used in substitution for Latin in some official documents.


I was raised as a Catholic from birth, so these languages, Italian and Latin were second languages for me, because I served mass (which was in Latin then) from a very early age.

un capolavoro Un capolavoro

I liked Latin and Italian, because they are musical and sonorous.


Part of the beauty of these languages is that they follow every consonant with a vowel, so that the language sings.


There are other consonant vowel languages, though (Japanese comes to mind), and they don’t quite sing the way Italian does.


The presence of Italian as the primary language in the Vatican indicates use, not only within the Holy See, but also throughout the world where an episcopal seat is present.

meno tasse

Italian is the principal language, of course, in music and opera.


Throughout Italy, regional variations of Standard Italian, called Regional Italian are spoken.


In Italy, almost all Romance languages spoken as the vernacular, other than standard Italian and distantly-related, non-Romance languages spoken in border regions or among immigrant communities, are often imprecisely called “Italian dialects,” even though they are quite different, with some belonging to different branches of the Romance language family.

non ci posso credere

The only exceptions to this are Sardinian, Ladin and Friulan, which the law recognizes as official regional languages.


The Corsican language is also related to Italian.


La nonnina…carina.


Regional differences can be recognized by various factors: the openness of vowels, the length of the consonants, and influence of the local language (for example, in informal situations the contraction annà replaces andare in the area of Rome for the infinitive “to go”; and nare is what Venetians say for the infinitive “to go”).


In Italian, as in most Romance languages and even English, cases exist for pronouns (nominative, oblique, accusative and dative) but not for nouns.


There are two genders (masculine and feminine).


Nouns, adjectives, and articles inflect for gender and number (singular and plural).


Adjectives are sometimes placed before their noun and sometimes after. For an English speaking person, this is a very confusing area in Italian, French, Spanish, Portugues and the rest.


Adjectives usually come after the noun in Italian. Adjectives can be feminine or masculine, singular or plural, depending on the gender and number of the noun to which they refer. La folla felice The happy crowd


In English, we almost always put the adjective before the noun (she’s a good woman), but in Italian, eh?, there are some guidelines but practice and hearing a native, as always, are best. Generally speaking, if the adjective is short and very common, it can go before the noun, but these have to be learned on a case by case basis.


Subject nouns generally come before the verb. Subjective pronouns are usually dropped, their presence implied by verbal inflections.

Siete comunque belle e giovane!

Siete belle e giovane!


Noun objects come after the verb, as do pronoun objects after imperative verbs and infinitives, but otherwise pronoun objects come before the verb.

piccola folla

There are numerous contractions of prepositions with subsequent articles, maybe more than in any other daughter of Latin. Della, della, nello, nella, colla, collo and on and on.


There are numerous productive suffixes for diminutive, augmentative, pejorative, attenuating and the like, which are also used to create nelogisms. Maybe Italian is richer in these, too, than any of her sisters.


Many names in Italian began as the endings of longer, more ‘proper’ names.


The artist Masaccio? He was born Tommaso di Ser Giovanni di Simone 1421-1428 CE. Then his name Tommasso was shortened to Maso, and then a big, ugly augmentive ending was appended, so he became Masaccio, the only name we know him by. Big old Tom.


His principal collaborator was another Tom, another Maso, but this man was called Masolino, the opposite of Masaccio. Little, delicate, sprightly Tom. Big, ugly Tom did all of the paintings. That was his revenge.

più alta forma

In Italian, there are three regular sets of verbal conjugations, and various verbs are irregularly conjugated.


The most ancient text in a ‘langue romane’ is a veronese riddle. It reads like this

Se pareba boves (they rounded up their cattle)

alba pralia araba (they were plowing on a white field)

albo versorio tenebra (they had a white plow)

negro semen seminaba (they sowed black seed)


The solution: This is about the hand that is writing, because… the boves (oxen) are the fingers, the white field is the parchment, the fingers had a white plow (the goose quill) and the black seed is the ink going on to the parchment.


OK, this riddle is not deathless humor, but it is the first thing written in the vernacular in Italian (as opposed to Vulgar Latin).

Tu e tua figlia

Tu e tua figlia


A dialect isn’t somehow inferior to a language. A dialect is a language. Italian, Spanish and French are languages because they have acquired a prestige in becoming literary languages and they are official languages of state, but Sicilian, Neapolitan, Picard, Tuscan, Friulian, these dialects are all languages too.


Articolo determinativo (definite article)
lo: for masculine singular nouns beginning with z or s+consonant Lo schiavo.
The plural is gli. Lo specchietto retrovisore rear view mirror


Il: for masculine singular nouns beginning with all other consonants
plural=i Ma sei sempre in giro per il mondo? Are you still touring the world?


l’: for masculine singular nouns beginning with any vowel
plural=gli l’anatroccolo brutto the ugly duckling

Photo of Billie Holiday La classe , la raffinatezza..Superlativa Billie Holiday.

la: for feminine singular nouns beginning with any consonant

sara p

l’: for feminine singular, beginning with any vowel
plural=le L’amica del cuore


articolo indeterminativo (indefinite article; singular only)
una: for feminine nouns beginning with any consonant una donna

un’: for feminine nouns beginning with any vowel un’antologia

uno: for masculine nouns beginning with z or s+consonant Uno scherzo A joke

sempre George
un: for all other masculine nouns Giorgio è sempre Giorgio. È un musicista.


Adjectives that end in “a” are usually feminine and form the plural with “e.” La coppia capricciosa The capricious couple


Adjectives that end in “o” are masculine and form the plural with “i.” Come mi disse una volta mia madre, Pa stai impazzendo!


Adjectives that end in “e” can be masculine or feminine and in either case form the plural with “i.” Janis in questa foto è davvero dolce, è dolcissima.


Adjectives that end in “ista” can be masculine or feminine, and they form the plural in the regular way–with “i” if masculine, with “e” if feminine: L’artista è un uomo.


The adjectives of color beige, blu, rosa, and viola are invariable. They stay the same wherever they are.


Certain common short adjectives normally precede the noun: bello, brutto, buono, cattivo, giovane, grande, nuovo, piccolo, vecchio.


The adjective “buono” follows the pattern of the indefininite articles un artista>>un buon artista


uno zaino>>un buono zaino


uno specchio>>un buono specchio


una artista>>una buona artista


un’amica>>una buon’amica


The adjectives “quello” and “bello” follow the pattern of the definite articles l’uomo>>un bell’uomo/quell’uomo


lo scherzo>>un bello scherzo/quello scherzo


l’amante>>un bell’amante/quell’amante

un vero amico

gli animali>>dei begli animali/quegli animali


gli studenti>>dei begli studenti/quegli studenti

vedi di fare questo

  • Dillo a lei di lasciarmi in pace!

gli amici>>dei begli amici/quegli amici

la Veronica>>la bella Veronica/quella Veronica


l’amica>>la bell’amica/quell’amica


le donne>>le belle donne/quelle donne


le ampolle>>le belle ampolle/quelle ampolle (cruets)


There are three classes, or conjugations, of verbs in Italian, according to the last three letters of their infinitive: ”-are,” “-ere,” and “-ire


A few infinitives end in –rre, such as trarre, porre, and derivatives.


Dovresti essere fiero dei colori della mia maglia! You should be proud of the colors on my jersey!


Adverbs modify verbs, adjectives, and other adverbs. They do not agree with the word which they modify.


Many adverbs are formed by adding the suffix “-mente” to the feminine singular form of the adjective. Ciao Veronica finalmente vedo il tuo visino!

Smettila di sfottere!

Smettila di sfottere!


steve zia elise sam victoria


veloce>>velocemente; lento>>lentamente


bene=well male=badly molto=very poco=little troppo=too, too much


Lei è una donna molto brava: studia sempre!

L’Espagna è troppo lontana, vorrei andarci più spesso.


IL COMPARATIVO: There are three comparatives: di maggioranza (more than), di minoranza (less than), di uguaglianza (the same)


comparativo di maggioranza più…di più…che I supermercati americani sono più grandi che belli.


comparativo di minoranza meno…di meno…che Gli italiani bevono meno degli americani.


Use “DI“: 1.when two terms are compared with respect to one quality/action 2.in front of numbers


you use “CHE” Gli americani bevono meno cappuccino che caffé.
3.when there is one term and two qualities/actions refer to this one term
4.in front of a preposition
5.in front of an infinitive


comparativo di uguaglianza the same as Coca-Cola is as popular as it is deficient in nutritive value.

a. (così)…come or (tanto)…quanto La Coca-Cola è (tanto) popolare quanto priva di valore nutritivo.
(for adjective and adverbs: “così…come” and “tanto…quanto” are adverbs and there is no agreement)
b. (tanto)…quanto
(for nouns: here “tanto…quanto” are adjectives and there is agreement) Gli americani mangiano tanti popcorn quante patatine.
c. (tanto) quanto
(for verbs: “(tanto)…quanto” are adverbs and there is no agreement) Gli americani bevono (tanto) quanto gli italiani.

così and tanto are optional and usually avoided


II. IL SUPERLATIVO RELATIVO The relative superlative is formed by:

the definite article (il, la, i , le) + (noun) + più/meno + adjective + di + the term in relation to which we are comparing
Le confezioni itliane sono le più grandi del mondo.


III. SUPERLATIVO ASSOLUTO is the equivalent of the English “very+adjective” and “adjective+est” or “most+adjective.” In Italian this can be expressed in several ways:

1. by adding -issimo/a/i/e at the end of an adjective I supermercati americani sono grandissimi.
2. by placing molto, tanto, parecchio, assai in front of the adjective C’è stato parecchio disagio. It was very uncomfortable.
3. by using the prefix arci-, stra-, super-, ultra- L’espresso è arcipopolare. Il cappuccino è superchic.
4. by using stock phrases such as ricco sfondato (filthy rich); ubriaco fradicio (very drunk); stanco morto (dead tired); bagnato fradicio (soaking wet); innamorato cotto (madly in love)…
5. by repeating the adjective or the adverb
6. some adjectives have irregular superlatives: acre/acerrimo; celebre/celeberrimo; integro/integerrimo; celebre/celeberrimo; misero/miserrimo; salubre/saluberrimo; in spoken language, however, people just avoid “-issimo” with these and use “molto, tanto, parecchio, assai.”


III. COMPARATIVI E SUPERLATIVI IRREGOLARI the comparative of “bene” is always “meglio

the comparative of “buono” can be “migliore” (“più buono” can also be used)

the comparative of “male” is always “peggio

the comparative of “cattivo” can be “peggiore” (“più cattivo” can also be used)

maggiore” is an alternative to “più grande” (più grande=bigger maggiore=greater)

minore” is an alternative to “più piccolo” (più piccolo=smaller minore=lesser)


Conjunctions join words and sentences together. Some conjunctions, longer ones, require the use of the subjunctive. They are:

benché, sebbene, malgrado, nonostante, quantunque (all mean: although, in spite of, even though)

purché, a patto che, a condizione che (all mean: provided that)

nel caso che (in case)

Some others require the use of the subjunctive only if the subject of the main verb and the subject of the subjunctive are different; if the subjects are the same, the infinitive is required. They are:

affinché, perché, cosicché, in modo che (in order to, so that)
senza che (without)
prima che (before)


Personal pronouns
First Person Second Person Third Person
Singular Plural Singular Plural Reflexive Masculine Feminine
Singular Plural Singular Plural
Subject io noi tu voi egli, esso (lui) essi (loro) ella, essa (lei) esse (loro)
Stressed Object me noi te voi lui loro lei loro
Clitic accusative mi ci ti vi si lo li la le
Clitic dative mi ci ti vi si gli gli,loro le gli,loro
Clitic dat. before acc. me ce te ve se glie- glie- glie- glie-


Second person nominative pronoun is tu for informal. For formal use, the 3rd person form Lei has been used since the Renaissance. Lei is used like “Sie” in German, “Usted” in Spanish and “você” in Portuguese.


Previously, and in some Italian regions today (Campania), voi is used as a formal singular, as in the French “vous”. The pronouns lei (third-person singular) and Lei (second-person singular formal) are pronounced the same but written as shown. Formal Lei and Loro take third-person conjugations. Lei was originally an object form of ella, which in turn referred to an honorific of the feminine gender such as la magnificenza tua / vostra (“Your Magnificence”) or Vossignoria (“Your Lordship”).

20 These are hard times for someone who opens her heart and not her legs.

Accusative lo and la elide to l’ before a vowel or before h: l’avevo detto (“I had said it”), l’ho detto (“I have said it”).


When accusative pronouns are used in a compound tense, the final vowel of the past participle must agree in gender and number with the accusative pronoun. For example, hai comprato i cocomeri e le mele? (“Did you buy the watermelons and the apples?”) –Li [i cocomeri] ho comprati ma non le [le mele] ho comprate (“I bought them [the former] but I did not buy them [the latter]“). This also happens when the underlying pronoun is made opaque by elision: l’ho svegliato (“I woke him up”), versus L’ho svegliata (“I woke her up”).


In modern Italian, dative gli (to him) is used commonly even as plural (to them) instead of classical loro. So: “Conosci Luca: gli ho sempre detto di stare lontano dalle cattive compagnie” (You know Luca: I have always told him to stay away from bad company.”). And: “Conosci Luca e Gino: gli ho sempre detto…” (…I have always told them…) instead of “… ho sempre detto loro di stare…”.


Though objects come after the verb as a rule, this is not the case with a class of unstressed, clitic pro-forms.


Dative and accusative pronouns come before the verb. If an auxiliary verb is used, the pronouns come before the auxiliary. If both dative and accusative pronouns are used, the dative comes first. Pronominal particles ce/ci (to it) and ne (of it) are treated like accusative pronouns for word-order purposes.


Note that the clitic ci acts both as a first person plural accusative pronoun and a pro-form with a different meaning.


Davide lascia la sua penna in ufficio. David leaves his pen at the office.


Davide la lascia in ufficio. David leaves it at the office.


Davide ce la lascia. David leaves it with us.

29 Daniela Rettore cpyright copyright Daniela Rettore

Davide ce ne lascia una. David leaves us one of them.

mi pareva brutto il cd mi pareva brutto nemmeno un vinile da farsi autografare

Certo, la faccia sconsolata di Sam dice tutto.


Davide potrebbe lasciarcene una. David might leave us one of them. Or, could leave us one of them.


In the imperative and subjunctive moods, the objective pronouns come once again after the verb, but this time as a suffix.


Davide lascia la sua penna in ufficio. David leaves his pen in the office.


“Lasciala in ufficio.” ”Leave it at the office.”


“Lasciacela.” ”Leave it to us.”


Davide potrebbe lasciarla in ufficio. David could leave it at the office.


Non lasciarcela. Don’t leave it to us. Don’t leave it with us.


Davide dovrebbe lasciarcela. David should leave it with us.


Dative mi, ti, ci, and vi become me, te, ce, and ve when preceding another pronoun (“dammelo” (give it to me) or develop as a me, a te, a noi and a voi when emphasized (“dallo a me” (give it TO ME).


Accusative mi, ti, lo, la, ci, and vi become me, te, lui, lei, noi, and voi when emphasized (“uccidimi” (kill me) against “uccidi me, non lui” (kill me, not him).


Dative gli, le, loro (commonly gli) can be developed into a lui, a lei, a loro, when emphasized (“lo sai solo tu: a loro non l’ho detto” (only you know it: I have not told them))


Dative gli combines with accusative lo, la, li, le and ne (partitive, meaning “of it” or “of them”) to form glielo, gliela, glieli, gliele and gliene. These combinations are used for feminine and plural too (“Maria lo sa? Gliel’hai detto?” (Does Maria know it? Have you said it to her?)).


She’s too polite to say, “Gli italiani lo fanno meglio.” (Italians do it better.)


As I mentioned before, the Italian infinito presente may end by one of these three endings, either -are, -ere, or -ire. Exceptions are also possible fare ”to do/make” (from Latin facere), and verbs ending in -urre or -arre, most notably tradurre (Latin traducere) “to translate”.


Italian grammar does not have distinct forms to indicate specifically verbal aspect, though different verbal inflections and periphrases do render different aspects in particular the perfective and imperfective aspects and the perfect tense–aspect combination.


While the various inflected verbal forms convey a combinaton of tense (location in time), aspect, and mood, language-specific discussions generally refer to these inflectional forms as “tempi.” Thus it is impossible to make comparisons between the tenses of English verbs and the tempi of Italian verbs as there is no correspondence at all.


Tense Italian name Example English equivalent
Indicative Mood
Present indicativo presente faccio I do
I am doing[verbs 1]
Imperfect indicativo imperfetto facevo I did/used to do
I was doing[verbs 2]
Future futuro semplice farò I will do
Preterite passato remoto feci I did (historic)[verbs 3]
Conditional mood
Present condizionale presente farei I would do
Subjunctive mood
Present congiuntivo presente (che) io faccia (that) I do
Imperfect congiuntivo imperfetto (che) io facessi (that) I did/do
Imperative mood
Present imperativo fa’/fai! do! (sing. informal)

These are simple verb tenses.

Smettilaaaaaaaaaaaaa ti prego

Smettilaaaaaaaaa, ti prego.


Below are the compound tenses:


Tense Italian name Example English equivalent
Indicative Mood
Recent past passato prossimo ho fatto I have done
I did[verbs 4]
Recent pluperfect trapassato prossimo avevo fatto I had done[verbs 5]
Future perfect futuro anteriore avrò fatto I will have done
Remote pluperfect trapassato remoto ebbi fatto I had done[verbs 5]
Conditional mood
Preterite condizionale passato avrei fatto I would have done
Subjunctive mood
Preterite congiuntivo passato (che) io abbia fatto (that) I did
Pluperfect congiuntivo trapassato (che) io avessi fatto (that) I had done


Impersonal verb forms:

Tense Italian name Example English equivalent
Present infinito presente fare to do
Past infinito passato aver fatto to have done
Present gerundio presente facendo doing
Past gerundio passato avendo fatto having done
Present participio presente facente doing
Past participio passato fatto done


Present tense, indicative mood, progressive aspect: io sto facendo ( I’m doing)


Present tense, indicative mood, inchoative aspect: io sto per fare (I’m about to do)

OOOH che belliniiii

Oooohhh, che belliniiiii.


The simple preterite is becoming obsolete in spoken Italian (as in French and High German).


In ordinary conversation, one uses instead, the present perfect. Ho fatto not feci. I have done not I did.


The preterite (in some languages called the simple past) is still used in Southern Italy but is becoming less common there, too.


The preterite is, however, very common in literature, even modern literature. This is the same in French.


If there is no reference to the present, as when speaking of the dead, the simple preterite must be used.

Che gnoccaaaaaaa

Che gnocca.


In Italian, compound tenses are formed with an auxiliary verb (either essere ”to be” or avere ”to have”).


Transitive verbs use avere as their auxiliary verb. Verbs in the passive voice use essere or venire, with a different meaning. la porta è stata aperta, the door has been opened. La porta viene aperta, the door is being opened.


For intransitive verbs a useful rule of thumb is that if a verb’s past participle have adjectival value, essere is used, otherwise use avere.


Also, reflexive verbs and unaccusative verbs use essere (typically non-agentive verbs of motion and change of state, such as, involuntary actions like cadere (to fall) or morire (to die)). This is the same in French. We learned it as verbs of motion use essere (être) in compound tenses.

on January 14, 2012 in Milan, Italy.

In French and Italian, the distinction between the two auxiliary verbs is important for the correct formation of the compound tenses and is essential to the agreement of the past participle. Some verbs use both avere and essere (such as vivere to live). In recent past tense you can say io ho vissuto or io sono vissuto (I have lived).

Magnifica come sempre

Magnifica come sempre.


It is probably necessary to repeat here, an eternal truth of language learning: The best, absolutely best way to learn Italian is to come out of an Italian mother’s womb and live with her for seven years or so.


The next best way to learn Italian is to live in Italy for ten years and learn, learn, learn.


Any other way to learn Italian, besides total immersion, will never get you quite there. Every linguist knows this, BUT we can’t all have la mamma and we can’t all live there for ten years, so this is how we amuse ourselves in the meantime.


Italian has inherited the consecutio temporum, a grammar rule from Latin that disciplines the relationship between the tenses in subordinate sentences.


Consecutio temporum has rules that govern the subjunctive tense in order to express contemporaneity, posteriority and anteriority in relation to the principal sentence. French and Spanish follow these same rules, which are often titled agreement of the tenses, or some such similar phrase.


  • to express contemporaneity when the principal clause is in a simple tense (future, present, or simple past,) the subordinate clause uses the present subjunctive, to express contemporaneity in the present.
    • Penso che Davide Galassi sia intelligente. I think David Galassi is smart.
    • 69
  • when the principal clause has a past imperfect or perfect, the subordinate clause uses the imperfect subjunctive, expressing contemporaneity in the past.
    • Pensavo che Davide fosse intelligente. I thought David was smart.
    • 70
  • to express anteriority when the principal clause is in a simple tense (Future, or present or passato prossimo) the subordinate clause uses the past subjunctive.
    • Penso che Davide sia stato intelligente. I think David has been smart.
    • 71
  • to express anteriority when the principal clause has a past imperfect or perfect, the subjunctive has to be pluperfect.
    • Pensavo che Davide fosse stato intelligente. I thought David had been smart.
    • 72
  • to express posteriority the subordinate clause uses not subjunctive but indicative mood, because the subjunctive has no future tense.
    • Penso che Davide sarà intelligente. I think David will be smart.
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  • to express posteriority with respect to a past event, the subordinate clause uses the past conditional, whereas in other European languages (such as French, English, and Spanish) the present conditional is used.
    • Pensavo che Davide sarebbe stato intelligente. I thought that David would have been smart.
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  • Some third conjugation verbs such as capire insert -isc- between the stem and the endings in the present. Capisco, capisci, capisce It is impossible to tell from the infinitive form which verbs exhibit this phenomenon, which often originated in Latin verbs denoting the “inchoative” aspect of an action, that is, verbs describing the beginning of an action.
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  • There are some 500 verbs like this, the first ones in alphabetic order being abbellire, abolire, agire, alleggerire, ammattire and on through the alphabet.
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  • In some grammatical systems, “isco” verbs are considered a fourth conjugation, often labelled 3b.
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  • There are also certain verbs that end in -rre, namely trarre, porre, (con)durre and derived verbs with different prefixes (such as attrarre, comporre, dedurre, and so forth). They are derived from earlier trahere, ponere, ducere and are conjugated as such.


The Italian subjunctive mood is used, as in other languages, to indicate cases of desire, express doubt, make impersonal emotional statements, and to talk about impeding events.


Present Imperfect
1st Conj. 2nd Conj. 3rd Conj. 1st Conj. 2nd Conj. 3rd Conj.
io parli tema parta parlassi temessi partissi
tu parli tema parta parlassi temessi partissi
egli parli tema parta parlasse temesse partisse
noi parliamo temiamo partiamo parlassimo temessimo partissimo
voi parliate temiate partiate parlaste temeste partiste
essi parlino temano partano parlassero temessero partissero
Past = present of avere / essere + past participle Past perfect = imperfect of avere / essere + past participle


The subjunctive in many European languages is formed in the ‘opposite’ way from the indicative. So, if you have an -are verb like cantare, she sings is canta, but in the subjunctive, may she sing, or it is good that she sing, or may she sing forever, is cante. The -are verbs appear like -ere verbs in the subjunctive. So it was in Latin so it is in all of Latin’s daughters.


When we say Viva México, we are using a subjunctive. The indicative mood for to live in Spanish is vivir. México lives is México vive. But to make a wish Long Live Mexico, we use the subjunctive Viva México.


It’s the same in English. You just don’t realize it because it is your native language. We say Mexico lives alongside the United States, but when we want to make a wish for a long life for our sisters and brothers over the border, we say Long live Mexico. Lives is the normal indicative verb and live is the subjunctive which is expressing, as it often does, a wish, a desire, a hope, a conjecture.


Maybe we should just look at some sentences in Italian that use the subjuctive. Here’s one: Credevo che avessero ragione. I believed that they were right.


The subjunctive is used because the speaker believes, thinks that they were right. If the speaker said, I knew they were right, she would use the indicative.


There is always a hesitancy, a doubt, an unsureness about the subjunctive. I have been spiritually in the subjunctive all my life. I’ve never been sure of anything. I see both sides to any given question. That is why I wrote Combination of the Two.


Non era probabile che prendessimo una decisione. (It wasn’t likely we would make a decision.)


Non c’era nessuno che ci capisse. (There was no one who understood us.)


Il razzismo era il peggior problema che ci fosse. (Racism was the worst problem there was.)

ciao piccolina,sempre carina

Ciao piccolina, sempre carina.


The subjunctive is so called because there is a main clause, often in the indicative, and then another clause is subjoined to the main clause. In Italian, the subjunctive is called congiuntivo (conjunctive). Same thing. There is a main clause and then the next clause is conjoined to it.


I wish (main clause) that you WOULDN’T BE so hasty (subjoined clause with subjunctive verb mood).


Penso che sia un bel film = I think it is a beautiful film. We use the indicative in both clauses in English, but in Italian they use the subjunctive in the second clause because a personal opinion is being expressed.


È sicuramente un bel film = It is surely a beautiful film. Here there is a sureness, so the indicative is used. My bass player Peter Albin lives in the indicative. Everything with him is certain and there is very little doubt or hesitation. This kind of certainty is just what you want in a bass player. I am the opposite. Everything with me is in doubt. I live in the subjunctive mood.


Spero che lui/lei mi telefoni. = I hope he/she will phone me (personal wish)


Vorrei che tu fossi qui. = I wish you were here.


Affinché la nostra storia continui, dobbiamo parlare = In order for our relationship to continue, we need to talk (purpose)

Mmm chi ha fatto questa bella foto?

Mmmm, chi ha fatto questa bella foto?

40th ital chitarra

Voglio che tu venga qui = I want you to come here. (wish, command) Note that in English we use the infinitive instead of the subjunctive.


È bello che Paolo venga qui = It is wonderful that Paul come here (impersonal). We don’t use the subjunctive nearly as much in English as they do in Italian.


The “congiuntivo” is also required with particular expressions such as:

  • Impersonal forms » è necessario che, bisogna che, è importante che… tu venga al cinema – it’s necessary that, it’s important that… you come to the movie
  • Comparative clauses » è il film più interessante che abbia visto – it is the most interesting movie that I saw
  • Sentences introduced by » affinché – perché (so that), tranne che (a part that), a meno che (unless), sebbene – malgrado – nonostante (altough), purché – a patto che(provided that), come se (as if)
  • Sentences introduced by the adjectives or pronouns » qualsiasi – qualunque (any),chiunque (whoever), dovunque (anywhere)
  • Sentences introduced by the adjectives or pronouns » niente che – nulla che(nothing that), nessuno che (nobody that), l’unico/a che – il solo/a che (the only one that)


The conditional mood refers to an action that is possible or likely, but is dependent upon a condition.

1st Conj. 2nd Conj. 3rd Conj.
io parlerei temerei partirei
tu parleresti temeresti partiresti
egli parlerebbe temerebbe partirebbe
noi parleremmo temeremmo partiremmo
voi parlereste temereste partireste
essi parlerebbero temerebbero partirebbero
Past = present of avere / essere + past participle


Io andrei in spiaggia, ma fa troppo freddo. I would go to the beach, but it is too cold.


Mangerei un sacco adesso, se non stessi di fare colpo su queste ragazze. I would eat a lot now if I weren’t trying to impress these girls.


Many Italian speakers often use the imperfect instead of the conditional and subjunctive. While incorrect, this is somewhat tolerated in spoken Italian (rarely in written Italian, even if it used to be a correct form in past times).


Se lo sapeveo, andavo al mare. If I had known it, I’d have gone to the beach. (If I was knowing it, I was going to the beach.)

Sempre in giro, eh!

Sempre in giro, eh!

2010 nov 1 bergamo druso circus

The Imperative mood, or, the command form:

1st Conj. 2nd Conj. 3rd Conj.
(tu) parla! temi! parti!
(Lei) parli! tema! parta!
(noi) parliamo! temiamo! partiamo!
(voi) parlate! temete! partite!
(essi) parlino! temano! partano!


The verb ‘to be’ is irregular in many languages (even English!) and Italian is no exception: essere

Indicative Subjunctive Conditional
Present Preterite Imperfect Future Present Imperfect
io sono fui ero sarò sia fossi sarei
tu sei fosti eri sarai sia fossi saresti
egli è fu era sarà sia fosse sarebbe
noi siamo fummo eravamo saremo siamo fossimo saremmo
voi siete foste eravate sarete siate foste sareste
essi sono furono erano saranno siano fossero sarebbero

2010 27 oct limo

This is to give you an idea of how very different the dialects in Italy can be. To designate what the French would call ‘un jeune garçon,’ the usual word in Italian is ragazzo or bambino.


This is what the ‘jeune garçon’ is called in different places on the peninsula: in the Piedmont region, up north at the foot of the Alps, the ‘jeune garçon’ is called a cit.

Sam Andrew, Arianna Antinori, Ben Nieves, Davide Galassi

In Lombardia, the ‘jeune garçon’ is a bagai.


In Venice, the word for a young boy is toso or putelo.

Arianna Antinori, Antea Salmaso, toscana

In Friulia, up north at the top of the Adriatic Sea, where a lovely town called Udine is, the local word for ‘young boy’ is frut.


‘Jeune garçon’ in the dialect of Emilia-Romagna is burdel.

2010 oct 27 Arianna

In Tuscany, land of Dante, Petrarca, Bocaccio, and so many other immortals, that same ‘jeune garçon’ (young boy) is called a bimbo. There is a famous club in San Francisco, where we have all played a few times, called Bimbo’s.

sam ben perarolo italy

It is crazy, insensitive and grammatically wrong to call a woman a bimbo, which is a very masculine word, both in form and meaning.

BBHC Vicenza 4 Oct 2010

Quatraro is the word for a young boy in the Abruzzese dialect. This is only one word we are tracing here. See how different it is in each dialect? Almost all of the other words vary this much also, so you can see why people found each other incomprehensible once Italy was unified. Now, television, radio, cinema, Facebook, Twitter, newspapers… all of these contribute to the formation of a national language, and the old ways are disappearing.

statuary Vicenza

In Naples a young boy is often called a guaglione. Do you know where the word Wop came from? The Spanish ruled Naples for a long time, a couple of centuries at least. They looked at the children in Naples and saw that they were very handsome, so they called them that. ’Handsome’ in Spanish is guapo. The word became so general a designation for the Italians that it was taken over at Ellis Island. Wop became a perjorative term for an Italian.

Teatro San Marco Vicenza

A ‘jeune garçon’ in Sicily is called a picciotto or a caruso. These are just a few of the regions of Italy.

Il confine tra passione e romanticismo può essere molto labile

Il confine tra passione e romanticismo può essere molto labile.

Noi stiamo bene. dai speriamo di incontrarci presto

Noi stiamo bene. Dai speriamo di incontrarci.

2010 april 17 mississippi

I used to have a book of Italian proverbs from every region, in the language of that region, and then ‘translated’ into Standard Italian. That book was a joy and very informative. Somehow I let it slip through my fingers, and I have been trying to find it ever since.

Le 10 pizze più mangiate in Italia

The top ten pizzas of Italy. I am a vegetarian, so I like the Margherita. Italians always laugh at Californians because we have things like tofu and pineapple on pizzas, but I notice that there at the number ten spot they have a pizza with fruit, cream and Nutella on it, so…

    • z-final-300x122

Ora più che mai…

sam Castelleto Cervo 2012

Sam Andrew Castelleto Cervo Italia foto: Laura Albergante Visconti La Laura è sconvolgente. Una vera bellezza.