When I Paint My Masterpiece.

25 December 2011



American Airlines saved $ 40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first class.


Mohandas Gandhi married at the age of thirteen.


On the Steely Dan song Reelin’ In The Years, Jeff Baxter plays the rippling two part harmony lines in the instrumental bridge, and Elliott Randall contributes the fuzzed out responses to Donald Fagen’s vocals in the chorus. Elliott is playing a 1963 Stratocaster sraight into an Ampeg SVT bass amp.


Properly dried peas and corn should shatter when hit with a hammer.


Dr. John plays The Mess Around in Ab. Ray Charles does it in Eb, and he plays Swanee River Rock in Ab. Piano players like the flat keys.


“I then called for my Lord at a Mrs. Carwardine’s, where he was sitting for his picture in miniature. She is a very good-looking, agreeable woman; unmarried, but I imagine virtuous. I was again in pleasant spirits. The fine arts enliven me exceedingly. I never went into a good painter’s but I became happy. There is a sweetness and gentleness in this art which most of all soothes the mind to peaceful tranquility.”

James Boswell     15 March 1763


Inu ga arimasuka? (Japanese) Do you have a dog?


Zeyer ongenehm. Tsi hot ir den azoy fil arbet? (Yiddish)

Pleased to meet you. Do you have that much work?


So, is Australia an island or a continent? It’s as wide as the USA and about twenty million people live there.


Latin vanity plate:  Litoralis  (Beach Bum)


Everything is natural… in its own way, even polyester and oil slicks. Still, it might be good to search continually for a way to live that conforms more closely to a more basic and fundamental mode of living.


“I think one could say that a certain modesty toward understanding nature  is a precondition to the continued pursuit of science.”

Subramanyan Chandrasekbar    Nobel laureate, Physics, 1983.


The Japanese, in their time measuring and earth measuring, go from big to small. Begin with the year, the month, the day. Begin with the country, the region, the city, the block. It’s like watching a GPS map, and far more logical than our own system, which begins with the smallest and procceds to the largest. Number, Street, City, Country.


Japanese and Chinese begin with their surname (largest group) and go on to their first name (smaller group). Ozawa Seiji. Andrew Sam.


Togae atrae lepidae sunt. (Latin)

Black togas are cool.


When your toilet won’t stop running, and you put your hand in the tank to fix the drain, do you every wonder where that water has been?


“Now I am again in such a period of patience and impatience. Mauve himself says that I shall at least spoil about ten drawings before I shall know how to handle the brush well. But back of it is a better future, so I work with as much composure as I can collect, and am not disheartened even by my mistakes.”

Vincent van Gogh   letter to his brother Theo     The Hague  December 1881.


In German “dur” (hard) is a major key and “moll” (soft) is minor. This is how one culture looks at the qualities of a key.


“Major” and “minor,” our terms for the same phenomena, mean larger and smaller. Also informative. French, Spanish and Italian terms are similar to English. Majeur, mineur, Mayor, menor, maggiore, minore.


Da terra si può vedere la Stazione spaziale?

La Stazione spaziale internazionale appare come un puntino piuttosto luminoso che, nel volgere di qualche minuto, attraversa la volta celeste.

(Can you see the space station from earth? The international space station appears as a small shiny point, in the flight of several minutes, across the arch of the skies.)


Show me a hero and I will write you a tragedy. All who draw and paint know that the darkest dark sits next to the lightest light.


Can you imagine Jesus at the debates in Iowa? Or Grover Cleveland wh0 said this:

“He mocks the public who proposes that the government shall protect the rich and that they in turn will care for the laboring poor.”


i love heavy metal. A lot of white suburban kids telling us how pissed off they are about everything.


“Sell our country! Why not sell the air, the clouds, and the great sea? Did not the Great Spirit make them all for the use of his children?”

Tecumseh (Shawnee chief) speaking to General William Henry Harrison, 1810)


El Jarabe Tapatío (the Mexican hat dance) is often played in C.


A sempiterno merito di mio padre, bisogna dire che lui non pensò  mai seriamente, nemmeno per un momento, di vendere i figli e di scappare.

(To the eternal credit of my father, be it said that never did he think even for a moment of selling his children and escaping.)


Yesterday was originally called Scrambled Eggs.


If you can be enthusiastic, warm, generous and can keep your sense of cool and proportion at the same time, you can do great things.


If you would thrive,

Get up at five.


Kurt Cobain was cremated. His ashes were scattered passim, as the scholars say, here and there and everywhere.


Noodles, pasta, dough wrapped around a vegetable or beef ingredient are staples all around the world. Tamale, ravioli, a garden burger, pirogi, wonton, enchilada, spring rolls crêpes, piroshki, pork rolls, hot dogs, sandwiches of all kinds.


Tea is made from the young leaves and the leaf buds of the tea plant, a species of evergreen (Camellia sinensis) . Ancient Chinese and Japanese legends refer to a beverage made from the infusion of dried tea leaves, the introduction of tea being sometimes attributed to the emperor Shen Nung (2737 before the common era).


The term “rosary,” meaning “wreath of roses” first appeared in fifteenth century Europe. But the practice of reciting prayers on a string of knots or beads goes back to the Indic priests of the Middle East prior to 500 years before the common era.


Togo, a West African republic, has a 32-mile coast and extends northward for about 320 miles between Ghana to the west and Dahomey to the east.


Alexis de Toqueville wrote the classic De la démocratie en Amérique (Democracy in America) 1840, a close and often prophetic observation of American culture in the early 19th century.


Tocharian is an Indo-European language that was spoken in northern Chinese Turkistan (Tarim Basin) during the latter half of the first millennium of the common era. The language is fascinating, since it shows more affinity with western branches of Indo-European than with Iranian or indo-Aryan.


Torts is a legal term used in both common- and civil- law systems to describe various wrongs that may give rise to civil proceedings, mainly in the form of an action for damages.


Italian: Ho torto   I am wrong.

Forse Lei pensa che ho torto.       Perhaps you think that I am wrong.


Henri-Marie-Raymoond de Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa was born 24 November 1864. His family lineage extended without interruption back to the time of Charlemagne.


Toulouse-Lautrec could capture the likeness of a person with fewer lines than many, many other artists before or since.


When Ben Nieves and I were last in Paris, we went to the Musée d’Orsay across the Seine from the Louvre where there were many works by Toulouse-Lautrec. Very beautiful and accomplished, his drawings and paintings were often done on cardboard and the most ephemeral of materials, but were all the more interesting for that.


Toulouse-Lautrec’s own father took slight interest in his son after his disabling injuries and regarded his son’s work as only “rough sketches.”


“Tragedy” came from the words “goat” and “song.” The word could have referred either to the prize, a goat that was awarded to the best dramatists whose plays won the earliest competitions in Greece, or to the dress, goat skins of the performers, or to the goat which was sacrificed in the primitive rituals from which tragedy developed.


Trajan (Marcus Ulpius Traianus) was the first Roman emperor not born in Italy, but in the provinces, near Sevilla, Spain.


A group of finches is called a charm.


James Cagney never said “You dirty rat,” and Captain Kirk never said “Beam me up, Scottie.”


The Sitka spruce is Britain’s most commonly planted tree.


“I am sorry I have not learned to play at cards. It is very useful in life: it generates kindness and consolidates society.”      Samuel Johnson.


Tweety used to be a baby bird without feathers until the censoras decided he looked naked.


The 1997 Doublespeak Award went to President Bill Clinton, Trent Lott and Newt Gingrich for obfuscating language in the balanced budget agreement.


Pound for pound hamburgers cost more than new cars.


Names considered before settling on Monty Python’s Flying Circus:


A Toad-Elevating Moment

A Horse, A Bucket and a Spoon

Bun, Whackett, Buzzard, Stubble and Boot

Owl-Stretching Time

The Venus de Milo Panic Show


Gold was the first metal to be discovered.


John Malkovich plays the tuba.


A jumbo jet uses four thousand gallons of fuel to take off.


When CBS broadcast the first television show in color, no one other than CBS owned a color television set.


Documentary film makers should plan on shooting ten times the footage that will end up in the finished film.


Onaji kokoro desu. (Japanese)  We are of the same mind (heart).


Incipe, parve puer, risu cognoscere matrem.                       Virgil.

Begin, baby boy, to recognize your mother with a smile.


From The Life of Johnson:      James Boswell.

Johnson:   Well, we had a good talk.

Boswell:     Yes, Sir; you tossed and gored several persons.


The only mother and daughter to be nominated for Oscars in the same year: Diane Ladd and her daughter Laura Dern for Rambling Rose (1991).


“On n’est jamais si malheuruex qu’on croit, ni si heureux qu’on espère.”

Duc de la Rochefoucauld 1613-1680

One is never as unhappy as one thinks, nor as happy as one hopes.


It’s called a capo in English and a capo d’astro in Italian. Germans call it ein Kapotaster and in Spain it’s known as una cejilla or un cejuelo.


This only happened to me once but it was enough:

“The American girl makes a servant of her husband and then finds him contemptible for being a servant.”          John Steinbeck.


“At all costs try to avoid granting yourself the status of the victim… No matter how abominable your condition may be, try not to blame anything or anybody.”         Joseph Brodsky.


Or, as Jimmy Buffet might say, “Some people say there’s a woman to blame, but I know… it’s my own damn fault.”


Ikh heys Freyde.   (Yiddish)    My name is Freyde.


“To be the father of a nation is a great honor, but to be the father of a family is a greater joy.”          Nelson Mandela.


Southerners speak very differently from Northerners all over the world. If a European were to fetch up on our Gulf shore, she might be charmed to hear, “Honey, sweet darlin’, y’all want some pah with yo grits.” Charmed, but perhaps puzzled.


In Italy, the southern speech is quite different from the northern. The person in Milano who says “Il mio compadre” might be surprised to hear the person from Naples say, “Mi gumba.” “Pasta e fagioli” in a northerner’s mouth might be “past’e fagiol’ “ in the southern tongue. Pasta and beans.


In Germany, which became a nation very late, as Italy did, there are many interesting dialects, and the Southern German is quite interesting, especially die Münchner, the way of speaking in Munich. Here are a few examples.


Munich dialect   English                            standard German:

A Mo                     a person                           Ein Mann

Wos is a?             What does he do?         Was hat er für einen Beruf?

Kummt a aa?       Is he coming too?         Wird er auch kommen?

Ami                        American                        Amerikaner

Augnglasl             eyeglasses                      Brille

Bams                       child                                Kind


“People at that time lived like there was no tomorrow,” says JJ, lead singer of Murasaki, a band that played the Okinawa Koza rock scene in the 1970s, a time when Okinawa was a launch pad for the Vietnam war. Rock and Roll nights in Koza were a celebration, a farewell party, but for JJ there must have been complicated emotions. JJ stood between two very different worlds, and yet he managed to build a bridge between them with charm, talent and intelligence.


There was always a public face and a private face in Okinawan lives.


Ten is a satisfying number, probably because we have ten fingers. Twenty was used in the numbering system of the Celts. Fingers and toes. In fact, still in French today, you don’t say “octante” for eighty, you say “quatre vingt,” four twentys. It’s a Celtic remnant in modern French.


For the same reason, “seventy” isn’t “septante,” but “soixante-dix,” sixty (three  twentys) plus ten. it’s unwieldy, especially, say, 77, which is soixante-dix-sept, sixty seventeen. This in the language of a people who pride themselves on their clarity and reason. I love the French language, though, and the French people.


People never liked stinky underarms. The early Egyptians recommended following a scented bath with an underarm application of perfumed oils. They developed special citrus and cinnamon preparations that could withstand the semitropical climate.


Bacteria thrive in secretions of the apocrine glands. Deprived of moisture by an “antiperspirant,” bacteria cannot multiply.


L’amore non è mai stato troppo facile per l’uomo preistorico. E non lo è nemmeno adesso.

Love was never too easy for prehistoric man. And it isn’t even now.


Sammy Davis began in show business at age three as Silent Sam, the Dancing Midget, alongside his father and uncle in vaudeville. He had no formal education whatsoever. In 1946, at 21, he recorded “The Way You Look Tonight,” which was named Record of the Year.


A wise person’s country is the world.


Ideograms looked like this near the beginning of their development. This one means bad, incorrect, and by itself is pronounced HI (hee) in Japanese.


HI is based on the image of flapping wings. Still, to this day, when a Japanese does not want to relate to something, she will wave her hand in front of her face in rapid motion… like the flapping of wings.


When used with other characters, as here, this ideogram is pronounced arazu.


Freedom is all, to heed every call. Freedom to do wrong, to make a bad song.

Freedom to err, to be a cur. Freedom to soar… or else, what for?


“The uneven division of power and wealth, the wide differences of health and comfort among the nations of mankind, are the sources of discord in the modern world, its major challenge and, unrelieved, its moral doom.”

Patrick Blackett    Nobel laureate, physics,1948.


My first job was delivering newspapers by bicycle. I had to collect from all the customers at the end of the month. All of the poor people paid on time, in cash. The more well off paid with a check, often very late, with many sweet excuses, and promises for next time, a check that was sometimes irredeemable. This was my introduction to the American “classless” society.


I would never ask Jean Jacques Rousseau,

Whether animals can talk or no,

Nor ask Monsieur Voltaire,

If lions know how to swear.

Curse and roar, and roar and curse,

So many questions on this earth.


Hannah Adams (1755-1831) was the first American woman to make a living by writing. She published a number of books on religious subjects and A Summary History of New-England (1799).


The biggest-selling restaurant food is french fries, which were invented in Louisiana in 1853.


Well, as they say in grade school, I’ll see you next year!

Sam Andrew

Big Brother and the Holding Company