Merry Everything Folks,
This is Part One of my annual Christmas
newsletter to you. Part Two, as in previous years, is on
the SANTA JOSEPH WEBPAGE,
where there are some lovely Christmas songs, including the mind-numbingly
irritating counterpoint 'Twilight Zone Theme/Marx Brothers
Sanity Claus Routine,' that you have come to love and expect
from past years, the Italian language version of 'Shaddap You
Face', (Ali Ali Ale, by Franchi & Ingrassia), and other pungent stuff.
As the very First Christmas was celebrated
on December 25, AD 336, in Rome, you will find a peppering of
some handy Latin phrases, in amongst all the Christmas thoughts,
to give you a proper historical je ne sais quoi. . . . (And
This may be my last newsletter for a month
or so! Shock. Horror. I know. It's just that overseas work is
ganging up on me for awhile and it's not possible to produce a
quality newsletter while I'm on the road. Don't fret though. The
music business is Running and Waiting so when the Waiting sets
in again, the presses will roll.
On the FIRST DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave to
LEON NOEL was born on Christmas Eve in 1908 and
became a child celebrity in his hometown of Valparaiso, Indiana.
He was included in Robert L. Ripley's Ripley's Believe It or
Not. Noel lived most of his life in St. Petersburg, Fla. He
died in Largo, Fla., on Christmas Day 1999.
Handy Latin Phrase No. 1
Quantum materiae materietur marmota monax si marmota
monax materiam possit materiari? How much wood would a woodchuck
chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?
Favourite Reader Comments of the Week
I wish you a peaceful & joyous Christmas season, and may your
home be filled with laughter and the sound of guitars! My simple
solution to world peace: The leader of every country must learn
to play a musical instrument. When they meet for G8 or other major
international summits, every leader performs their favorite song,
and all meetings end in a jam session. Well, I think it's a nice
idea Michael Fix
I love you. You (and a few other outlets such as the Onion) make
me realize that I am sane after all. Have a very happy holiday!
Carmelina here and in the spirit of 'giving' I thought I'd let
you know about La Befana. In Italia, she was the Giver of gifts,
on the eve of the epiphany, children (my parents and grandparents
generation) would hang out their socks, the next morning they
would find, from Befana, an orange, a few lollies and home-made
biscuits, some coal and garlic if they had been naughty . . .
so every child got some of that .... they were simple home-made
gifts, put into simple home-made socks. Her story became linked
to the three wise men, but pre-Christianity she was a Pagan spirit,
part of the magical, fairy world, patron of plants and animals,
an ancestral spirit whose sacred totem is the Woven Stocking -
every year reaffirming the bond between family and ancestors.
The simplicity of the gifts is what really inspires me about her
and that we all should get some 'coal' to remind us to do better.
Saluti, Carmelina Di Guglielmo
Re: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!
. . . You don't know me, but I receive your email newsletters,
and I thoroughly enjoy them. Thank you for having a social conscience
and for not just sitting back and resting on your laurels, but
actually doing something about it! I find myself challenged,
educated and encouraged every time I read your newsletter.
Hope you and yours have a good one!!! Cheers, Toni D.
Here's what I wrote for a holiday card I sent out about 10 years
ago. The [American] winter holidays are a five part purification.
I LOVE December. Grownups put sparkly
things all over the place. Classical music is played in
hardware stores. People start thinking about what the people
they love would like to receive. People sing together. My
inner child thinks its all for her. My absolute favorite holiday
event occurs at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco:
the Dance-Along Nutcracker, presented by the Gay-Lesbian Alliance.
Scores of little girls in tutus and a Fellini film's worth of
outrageously costumed adults, not all as characters from the Nutcracker.
Holiday Hugs, Alicia Bay Laurel
On the SECOND DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave to
When visiting Finland, Santa leaves his sleigh
behind and rides on a goat named Ukko. Finnish folklore has it
that Ukko is made of straw, but is strong enough to carry Santa
Handy Latin Phrase No. 2
Cogito, ergo doleo. I think, therefore I am
THE STORY OF THE NUTCRACKER
The combination of a useful tool and a figural
form with a human appearance must have been well accepted by the
mid-18th century. In the toy making center of Sonneberg in the
Thuringian Forest there was mention in 1735 of "nut-biters"
that operated according to the principles of leverage. These nut-biters
were described as sturdy, energetic forms with large heads. Two
moving arms on the back of the head allowed the lower jaw to push
the nut against the upper jaw. In a carnival parade in 1783, students
from Freisingen, Germany presented large models of Berchtesgaden
wares, including a nut-biter in the form of a little man whose
mouth and stomach were one and the same. In 1971 Nutcrackers were
listed in the storehouse records of the Berchtesgaden (Bavaria)
wholesaler Anton Wallner. By the time the Brothers Grimm put together
their first dictionary of "High German" (the dictionary
was begun in the 1830s), the term Nussknacker was defined as "often
in form of a misshaped little man, in whose mouth the nut, by
means of a lever of screw, is cracked open."
The Nutcracker King would appear 1891 as an
enchanted prince in Peter Tschaikowsky's Nutcracker Suite and
continue to win children's hearts. The ballet contributes to the
ever- increasing popularity of the nutcrackers as collectible
objects. The nutcracker appears as a central character in Heinrich
Hoffmann's story "King Nutcracker and the Poor Reinhold"
(1851). In this story the poor Reinhold becomes acquainted with
the Nutcracker King in a dream.
The nutcracker did not always play the role
of the good-hearted fairy tale king. More often he wore a monk's
robe or was made into the form of a mean-looking policeman, a
Turk, master of the watch, a cavalry man or some other grotesque
helmeted figure with a long nose. He appeared, for example, as
a caricature of Napoleon on a 1813 Parisian picture-sheet. By
the end of the 19th century he appeared almost consistently in
the catalogs of the toy wholesalers as a representative of the
contemporary authorities. It must have been fascinating for both
manufacturer and user to transfer the trouble- some task of the
nutcracker to particularly unloved figures. What started out as
a practical tool often ended up as an expression of light irony
and a social critique by the common people. . .
(Excrepts from Dr. Konrad Auerbach, Museum Director,
the Erzgebirge Toy Museum Seiffen.)
On the THIRD DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave to
Roast turkey did not appear consistently on royal
Christmas Day menus until 1851 when it replaced roast swan. The
medieval dish of Boar's head remained popular with Royals for
Handy Latin Phrase No. 3
Raptus regaliter. Royally screwed.
(which helped create the template
In the Roman Empire, Saturnalia
was a religious festival celebrated in Rome and the provinces
between December 17 and 24. It commemorated the reign of Saturn,
god of grain and agriculture. It was the manifestation of the
festivals of liberty (libertas decembris) and the Underworld.
Roman slaves had a day of freedom when they became the masters
and were served by their own masters who acted as slaves
The Festival of Madmen took place
on Christmas day, December 25, New Year's day or Epiphany and
recalls the Roman Saturnalia. It is a time of liberty when servants
become masters and masters servants. For the space of a single
day, society's values are turned upside down and religions derided.
In some towns, the Festival of the Ass
was commemorated on Christmas Eve or during the second vespers
on December 25: recalling the flight into Egypt, a young girl
with babe in arms entered a church riding an ass or donkey. During
the mass, all the prayers ended with "hee-haw".
The Church quickly banned these celebrations which took on a sacrilegious
The Cult of Mithras came from
Persia and spread during the IIIrd and IVth centuries B.C. The
cult has many similarities with Christian ceremonies and rites:
baptism, communion wafer, Sunday rest. On December 25, the sacrifice
of a bull celebrated the Sol invictus (the invincible sun) and
signalled the birth of a young sun god who sprang from a rock
or a cave in the form of a newborn infant.
The Festival of the Sigillaria,
or terra-cotta seals, was a pagan Roman holiday. At the end of
the Saturnalia, Romans used to give gifts especially to children:
rings, seals and tiny objects. This festival was the time for
great feasts during which houses were decorated with green plants.
On the FOURTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave to
St. Nicholas (Sankt Nikolaus) was bishop of the
Turkish town of Myra in Asia Minor, who died on December 6th,
343. The Dutch first made him into a Christmas gift-giver, and
Dutch settlers brought him to America. In Eastern Europe, Southern
Italy and among the Greeks, he is revered most of all as the patron
saint of seafaring men.
Handy Latin Phrase No. 4
Sona si Latine loqueris. Honk if you speak Latin.
Special Christmas Release from the Dalai
The Dalai Lama today announced the official
release of Yellow Hat GNU/Linux. Produced by the Gelugpa or "Yellow
Hat" sect of Tibetan Buddhism, this GNU/Linux distribution
is designed to encourage benevolence and cooperation. The Dalai
Lama said, "The experience of sharing free software will
teach all human beings the principle of benevolence toward other
beings. Software is formalized knowledge, and sharing knowledge
in the GNU spirit is a human duty. The GNU/Linux system offers
beings a way to follow the path of benevolence while using computers."
Yellow Hat GNU/Linux not only supports the
Tibetan language, it also comes with a full library of Buddhist
texts in Tibetan, Chinese and English. The Tibetan and Chinese
versions are in the public domain; the English translations are
newly made and released under a free license. "Users will
advance in programming skill and advance towards enlightenment
at the same time," said the Dalai Lama. To encourage users
to move toward nirvana, a chain of users groups known as GELUGPA
(GNU-Enlightened-Linux User Groups for Passion Abatement) is being
Programmers who have achieved enlightenment
become capable of what is called "egoless programming",
and can then use the Dbu debugging environment. As an integrated
development environment, designed specifically for egoless programming,
it also serves as a reminder of the essential unity of all things.
Dbu is named after the Tibetan province of Dbu, whose name is
pronounced "oo" as in "food". If you see a
programmer look at a screen and say "oo!", he is probably
Dbu, or wishing he were.
Source code for Yellow Hat GNU/Linux is available
on CD-ROM; selected beautiful passages of code can also be ordered
as hand-painted tankhas for display on your office wall.
The Chinese authorities immediately banned
the distribution, claiming that it includes a photo of the Dalai
Lama; however, the Yellow Hat development group says it is really
a photo of Phil Silvers, included so that DeCSS can display it
before playing a film.
Chinese spokesmen firmly insisted that "Yellow
Hat GNU/Linux will never catch on in China." When confronted
with reports that a prerelease version is already widely used
in parts of Siquan, Qinghai and Gansu provinces, they said that
"This means nothing - those areas are really part of Tibet."
When asked what response they expect from Red
Hat, the Dalai Lama's spokesmen said that "The Nyingma or
Red Hat sect disagrees with us on various points, but all Tibetan
sects regard the Dalai Lama as the leader of the Tibetan people.
So we don't expect them to criticize the Gelugpa sect for venturing
into the software field."
The Dalai Lama's spokesmen refused to comment
on rumors that the Yellow Hat sect plans to merge with the Church
On the FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave to
In Syria, Christmas gifts are distributed by one
of the Wise Men's camels. The gift-giving camel is said to have
been the smallest one in the Wise Men's caravan.
Handy Latin Phrase No. 5
Catapultam habeo. Nisi pecuniam omnem mihi dabis,
ad caput tuum saxum immane mittam. I have a catapult. Give
me all your money, or I will fling an enormous rock at your head.
On the SIXTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave to
Guatemalan adults do not exchange Christmas gifts
until New Year's Day. Children get theirs (from the Christ Child)
on Christmas morning.
Handy Latin Phrase No. 6
Sentio aliquos togatos contra me conspirare.
I think some people in togas are plotting against me.
HOW TO MAKE A SNOW GLOBE (click
On the SEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave
In 1647, the English parliament passed a law made
Christmas illegal. The Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell, who considered
feasting and revelry on what was supposed to be a holy day to
be immoral, banned the Christmas festivities. The ban was lifted
only when Cromwell lost power in 1660.
Handy Latin Phrase No. 7
Noli me vocate, ego te vocabo. Don't call me,
I'll call you.
Have Yourself a Scary Little Solstice
Enjoy the horror of the holidays with
twenty-five of your favorite seasonal songs infused with an insane
dose of the Cthulhu Mythos. A collection of holiday songs rewritten
to include the dark forces lurking at the boundaries of perception:
Old Ones Are Coming to Town
the Red Brained Mi-Go
You Fear What I Fear?
Ye Scary Great Old Ones
Dreaming of a Dead City
the Most Horrible Time of the Year
Yourself a Scary Little Solstice
Saw Mommy Kissing Yog Sothoth
Beginning to Look a Lot Like Fish-Men
Come All Ye Olde Ones
Night, Blasphemous Night
and many more . . . (site)
On the EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave to
When distributing gifts in Holland, St. Nicholas
is accompanied his servant, Black , who is responsible for actually
dropping the presents down their recipients' chimneys He also
punishes bad children by putting them in a bag and carrying them
away to Spain.
Handy Latin Phrase No. 8
Canis meus id comedit. My dog ate it.
Police Hunt 'Father Christmas' Killer
Police were today hunting a man who stabbed
to death a 25-year-old accounts manager while disguised as Father
Christmas. Sikandar Shaheen was killed in his home in Leytonstone,
east London, on Saturday. A Metropolitan police spokesman said
the suspect was spotted near the scene on Grove Green Road wearing
a red Santa hat and fake white beard. Detective Chief Inspector
Keith Garnish said: "We believe the suspect wore this hat
at the time of the attack." (article)
On the NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave to
Snowmen fall from Heaven unassembled.
Handy Latin Phrase No. 9
Nihil curo de ista tua stulta superstitione.
I'm not interested in your dopey religious cult.
War on Santa
by Philip Kovacs
After returning from the mall, I've decided that the "War
on Christmas" is being waged in the wrong place, in the wrong
way, and at the wrong time. The enemy is not "Happy Holidays,"
the enemy is Santa Claus, and if you'll bear with me, I think
it's time for progressives and conservatives, and all the wise
refusing such nonsense labels, to unite against this elf.
Santa is Satan and his nefarious goal is replacing the spirit
of Christ (open to a great deal of interpretation) with crass
consumerism. "What are you getting for Christmas? What do
you want for Christmas? What do you want from Santa? What's Santa
bringing you? What's in Santa's bag this year?" Goodies,
that's what's in Santa's bag. Goodies massed produced by, well,
a bunch of enslaved minority workers secreted away in a hard to
Eight Compelling reasons for the Satan-fication of Santa.
1. The guy comes into your house under cover of darkness, appearing
in the fire for goodness sake, and he doesn't get burned. He likes
fire, and indeed, is fire.
2. He's jolly all right; how many shots can you do in a night?
The drunken glutton (leave cookies out for him do you?) then proceeds
to scatter "presents" as if they were worth anything
compared to the actual presence of spirit. Think "Dress Me
Up Barbie" left under a tree vs. spending an hour contemplating
or living the Sermon on the Mount. It's hard to wrap the latter,
and even harder to wrap sitting mindfully and appreciative with
family and friends. Or, for you Zen masters, how does one wrap
a walk down the street with your forty year old, but still functional,
Is your child asking for a greater appreciation of life and
love this year? Are you?
3. Christmas today is about letters to Santa and praying for
commodities. Unless I'm horribly mistaken letters to Santa generally
go something like "This Christmas I want, and I want, and
I want." Rarely, I venture to say, does a letter get to Santa
along the lines of "Dear Santa, how about peace in the Middle
East?" Or, "Dear Santa, how about genuine participatory
democracy here before we 'give' it to others?" Or this rare
one, "Dear Jesus, this Christmas, I was wondering if you
could feed the 20,000 people who will die of malnutrition on your
birthday. If it helps, you can tell Santa to take my presents,
sell them, and use the money to help rebuild a home destroyed
by a hurricane or war of his choice."
How about an America where one million people wrote that letter?
4. Elves. Where are they from? How are they paid? I bet it's
seasonal, so no health care. Is there a union? Doubtful. Please
picture Santa as CEO, a fat Bossman in a red leisure suit complete
with sealskin boots. Where Jesus has disciples spreading the gospel,
Santa has elves, manufacturing rewards for good behaviour. In
rags travels one, in riches travels the other.
5. Enchanted, flying, glowing, deer. How many miracles involve
flying deer? Let's see, there's water to wine, brilliant, but
no flying deer. While the resurrection was impressive, maybe even
frightening, no flying deer. Now if you turn to Harry Potter,
a source for a number of hot commodities this Christmas season,
well flying deer are just the beginning.
"Thanks Jesus for the wand and robes and my first-person
shoot-you-up video game, but you forgot the broom."
6. In Dante's Inferno Satan is depicted as frozen because he
is so far from God's love. Why the North Pole? If you had access
to the hearts, minds, and homes of every kid in America would
you live in an ice-castle? No, you'd live in Disney World. The
North Pole is the only place you can keep an army of elves and
enchanted deer, that's why the North Pole. And even more importantly,
it's the only place Satan can reside without burning up. He's
too hot to live anywhere else, and if he stops longer than a nanosecond,
he combusts, which explains why you never see him. This brings
us to his untraceable global presence.
7. His sleigh moves faster than the speed of light so Satan
can return to the North Pole, his frozen den if you will, without
combusting. Environmentally friendly? I think not.
"Dear Santa, this Christmas, when you are flying over
the oceans and the cities and the mountains and the rivers, would
you mind looking down and asking yourself, what would Jesus do?
You do make judgements, right Santa?"
8. How does Santa know if I've been good or bad? Ten thousand
spies scattered throughout malls across the country helps. But
who is he to judge? Only the most judgmental angel in the history
of angels, Lucifer himself. Patriot Act my ass, the CIA has loads
to learn from Santa. You want to talk about social control? Then
let's talk about a nation of children disciplined by one phrase:
"Stop or Santa won't be bringing you anything this year."
Let the above argument settle in for a minute and ask yourself,
"is this a guy I want my children writing?"
Progressives who are against consumptive culture should find
a welcoming ear amongst conservatives (conservatives - not extremists)
troubled by the loss of Christian values as Santa upsets both.
Are conservatives up in arms about what Christmas has really become?
And are progressives who moan about consumptive culture actually
doing anything about it?
My modest proposal: nothing brings people together like a disaster.
This Christmas, why don't we all celebrate the true spirit of
giving by giving our children and our money to a War on Santa?
We must unite and end Santa's reign with a full invasion of the
North Pole. The elves will certainly greet us as liberators; we'll
be out in less than 6 months; it won't cost more than a few billion
dollars; and it will stabilise the region. (article)
On the TENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave to
Nikolaus traditions vary as widely from region
to region as his guise and name. He appears as Ruhklas, Pelznickel,
Klasbur, etc. He is afoot or astride a white horse, a mule, or
even a goat. More diverse than those of the saintly Nikolaus are
the many legends and traditions surrounding his often wild companions
(Krampus, etc.). The pagan origin of all of these figures is evident
although difficult to trace. His best known companion is Knecht
Ruprecht (poem), "Knecht" meaning servant. Historically,
Ruprecht was a dark and sinister figure clad in a tattered robe
with a big sack on his back in which, legend has it, he will place
all naughty children.
Handy Latin Phrase No. 10
Utinam barbari spatioum proprium tuum invadant!
May barbarians invade your personal space!
On the ELEVENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave
Elmo and Pats, 'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer'
In 1979, a San Francisco veterinarian called Elmo Shropshire was
moonlighting in bluegrass band when he came across a song written
by his friend Randy Brooks. 'Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer'
tells a cautionary tale of festive excess that any drink-driving
campaign would be proud of. It details how Grandma falls over
in the snow after too much eggnog and is found with "hoof-prints
on her forehead." The goofball country song - picked up by
Stiff for UK release - became a phenomenon in America, despite
Elmo and (now former) partner Pat's performances being picketed
by "anti-ageist" protesters.
Handy Latin Phrase No. 11
Utinam logica falsa tuam philosophiam totam suffodiant!
May faulty logic undermine your entire philosophy!
- We're too late! It's already been here.
- Mulder, I hope you know what you're doing.
- Look, Scully, just like the other homes: Douglas fir, truncated,
mounted, transformed into a shrine; halls decked with boughs of
holly; stockings hung by the chimney, with care.
- You really think someone's been here?
- Someone or some THING.
- Mulder, over here - it's a fruitcake.
- Don't touch it! Those things can be lethal.
- It's O.K. There's a note attached: "Gonna find out who's
naughty and nice."
- It's judging them, Scully. It's making a list.
- Who? What are you talking about?
- Ancient mythology tells of an obese humanoid entity who could
travel at great speed in a craft powered by antlered servants.
Once each year, near the winter solstice, this creature is said
to descend from the heavens to reward its followers and punish
disbelievers with jagged chunks of anthracite.
- But that's legend, Mulder -- a story told by parents to frighten
children. Surely you don't believe it?
- Something was here tonight, Scully. Check out the bite marks
on this gingerbread man. Whatever tore through this plate of cookies
was massive -- and in a hurry.
- It left crumbs everywhere. And look, Mulder, this milk glass
has been completely drained.
- It gorged itself, Scully. It fed without remorse.
- But why would they leave it milk and cookies?
- Appeasement. Tonight is the Eve, and nothing can stop its wilding.
- But if this thing does exist, how did it get in? The doors and
windows were locked. There's no sign of forced entry.
- Unless I miss my guess, it came through the fireplace.
- Wait a minute, Mulder. If you're saying some huge creature landed
on the roof and came down this chimney, you're crazy. The flue
is barely six inches wide. Nothing could get down there.
- But what if it could alter its shape, move in all directions
- You mean, like a bowl full of jelly?
- Exactly. Scully, I've never told anyone this, but when I was
a child my home was visited. I saw the creature. It had long white
strips of fur surrounding its ruddy, misshapen head. Its bloated
torso was red and white. I'll never forget the horror. I turned
away, and when I looked back it had somehow taken on the facial
features of my father.
- I know what I saw. And that night it read my mind. It brought
me a Mr. Potato Head, Scully. IT KNEW THAT I WANTED A MR.POTATO
- I'm sorry, Mulder, but you're asking me to disregard the laws
of physics. You want me to believe in some supernatural being
who soars across the skies and brings gifts to good little girls
and boys. Listen to what you're saying. Do you understand the
repercussions? If this gets out, they'll close the X-files.
- Scully, listen to me: It knows when you're sleeping. It knows
when you're awake.
- But we have no proof.
- Last year, on this exact date, SETI radio telescopes detected
bogeys in the airspace over twenty-seven states. The White House
ordered a Condition Red.
- But that was a meteor shower.
- Officially. Two days ago, eight prized Scandinavian reindeer
vanished from the National Zoo, in Washington, D.C. Nobody - not
even the zookeeper - was told about it. The government doesn't
want people to know about Project Kringle. They fear that if this
thing is proved to exist the public will stop spending half its
annual income in a holiday shopping frenzy. Retail markets will
collapse. Scully, they cannot let the world believe this creature
lives. There's too much at stake. They'll do whatever it takes
to insure another silent night.
- Mulder, I --
- Sh-h-h. Do you hear what I hear?
- On the roof. It sounds like . . . a clatter.
- The truth is up there. Let's see what's the matter.
(Adapted from Shouts & Murmurs, "The X-mas
Files," by Frank Cammuso and Hart Seely.)
On the TWELVETH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave
Our family was so poor that for Christmas we got
batteries with a note attached saying "Toy not included."
Handy Latin Phrase No. 12
Radix lecti. Couch potato
Reindeer Candid Camera
A FUNNY video of a great practical joke - a
fake deer tied to the front fender of a car - that twitches, talks
and insults passerbys. (video)
(thanks to Frank Dolce)
TURKEY SONG CHRISTMAS CARD
(thanks to Margret RoadKnight)
On the THIRTEENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave
to me (based on the original Sicilian folk song,
originally called The 17 Days of Xmas, but five days were
dropped during the Great Olive Famine of 1212 A.D. . . . ok ok
One of the most amazing myths is that of a tree that had barnacles
that opened to reveal geese. The legend of this tree was of great
antiquity, and although Albert Magnus in the 13th century denounced
it as false, the tales of this tree were popular among herbalists
up until the 18th century. William Turner, a 16th century English
herbalist accepted the idea, as did John Gerard in his Herball,
or Generall Historie of Plantes, published in 1597, in which
he wrote: "...there is a small llande in Lancashire called
the Pile of Foulders...whereon is found a certaine spume or froth,
that in time breedeth unto certaine shels." These mussel-shaped
shells would grow until they split open, revealing "the
legs of the Birde hanging out...til at length it is all come foorth."
The bird would hang by its bill until fully mature, then would
drop into the sea "where it gathereth feathers, and groweth
to a foule, bigger than a Mallard, and lesser than a Goose."
Handy Latin Phrase No. 13
Quo signo nata es? What's your sign?
On the FOURTEENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave
" Christmas and Deficits. Christmas is a time
when kids tell Santa what they want and adults pay for it.
Deficits are when adults tell the government what they want and
their kids pay for it." ~ Richard Lamm
Handy Latin Phrase No. 14
Fac me cocleario vomere! Gag me with a spoon!
by Roy Zimmermand
" Friends, I'm about to release an album
called "Peacenick." You won't find it in the Christmas
bin at Tower Records because they don't have a bin for Lefty-Pacifist-Humanist-Seasonal
satire. It's music to listen to while the presents get unwrapped
and the Bush administration comes unglued. It's music to laugh
at to keep from crying at the violence, ignorance and greed of
the world in this season of "peace on earth, goodwill toward
On the FIFTEENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave
"In the old days, it was not called the Holiday
Season; the Christians called it 'Christmas' and went to church;
the Jews called it 'Hanukkah' and went to synagogue; the atheists
went to parties and drank. People passing each other on
the street would say 'Merry Christmas!' or 'Happy Hanukkah!'
or (to the atheists) 'Look out for the wall!'" ~ Dave Barry
Handy Latin Phrase No. 15
Te audire no possum. Musa sapientum fixa est in
aure. I can't hear you. I have a banana in my ear.
Star Anise vs Bird Flu
I LOVE Star Anise and have given a few
recipes with it over the months such as Vietnamese PHO, GOULASH
WITH BRANDY AND STAR ANISE, and CHITARRA BOLOGNESE WITH STAR ANISE
AND FRESH CORIANDER, all available in my Recipe
Archives. I didn't know however that it was highly sought
after as one of the prime ingredients for the anti-bird flu drug,
Star Anise (Illicium
verum) is named from the stellate form of its fruit. It is
often chewed in small quantities after each meal to promote digestion
and sweeten the breath. The fruit is used in the East as a remedy
for colic and rheumatism, and in China for seasoning dishes, especially
sweets. Medicinal Action and Uses---Carminative, stimulant, diuretic.
" Although it is produced in most autotrophic
organisms, star anise is the industrial source of shikimic acid,
a primary ingredient used to create the anti-flu drug Tamiflu.
Tamiflu is regarded as the most promising drug to mitigate the
severity of bird flu (H5N1); however, reports indicate that some
forms of the virus has already adapted to Tamiflu. A shortage
of star anise is one of the key reasons why there is a worldwide
shortage of Tamiflu (as at 2005). Star anise is grown in four
provinces in China and harvested between March and May. The shikimic
acid is extracted from the seeds in a ten-stage manufacturing
process which takes a year. Reports say 90% of the harvest is
already used by the Swiss pharmaceutical manufacturer Roche in
making Tamiflu, but other reports say there is an abundance of
the spice in the main regions - Fujian, Guangdong, Guangxi and
China's growers of star anise giddy over
its connection to Tamiflu
By Mei Fong
NANNING, China Taking a lunchtime break from examining his
fields, a flushed Chen Jinning tipped a tumbler at fellow farmers
and bellowed, "To bajiao," the Chinese word for star
anise, the coin-size fruit used in everything from Asian soup
to French alcoholic drinks. Farmers at the table offered toasts
to prosperity, to traditional agricultural methods, even to Swiss
pharmaceutical giant Roche Holding AG, splattering foamy beer
onto the plastic tablecloth. . . . (article
WARNING: DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHINESE AND JAPANESE STAR
Warning: Don't give infants "teas" brewed
from star anise. Brewed "teas" containing star anise
have been associated with illnesses affecting infants. The illnesses
ranged from serious neurological effects, such as seizures, to
vomiting, jitteriness, and rapid eye movement. A 2004 report in
the Journal of the American Medical Assn. concluded that the effects
may have been caused by overdoses or contamination of teas with
Japanese Star Anise. For more information: (article)
Japanese Star Anise (Illicium anisatum) is a
tree similar to Chinese star anise. It is highly toxic, therefore
it is not edible; instead, it has been burned as incense in Japan,
where it is known as sikimi. Cases of illness, including "serious
neurological effects, such as seizures", reported after using
star anise tea may be a result of using this species.Illicium
anisatum is native to Japan. It is similar to Illicium
verum, but its fruit is smaller and with weaker odor, which
is said to be more similar to cardamom than to anise. Japanese
star anise contains anisatin, shikimin and sikimitoxin, which
cause severe inflammation of the kidneys, urinary tract and digestive
organs.It is impossible to recognize Chinese and Japanese star
anise in its dried or processed form by its appearance only, due
to morphological similarities between the species. (article)
Star Anise Cherry
This sauce is delicious served with boneless
pork loin. (For friends, use the Chinese Star Anise,
for enemies, the Japanese variation.)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 small onions, peeled and diced
4 sprigs crushed thyme
10 peppercorns, cracked
4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
14 pieces star anise, toasted and ground (reserve 4 pieces for
1 liter red wine
2 cups port wine
2 cups dried cherries
2 quarts chicken stock
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium
heat. Add celery, carrot and onion and saute until soft. Add thyme,
peppercorns, garlic and star anise and saute for 2 or 3 minutes.
Add wine and port and stir well. Reduce by half. Add dried cherries
and stock and reduce by three-quarters, until it reaches a syrupy
consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4. (created
by Dirk Flanigan, Blue Water Grill, in Chicago)
On the SIXTEENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave
Eggnog - In the Middle Ages, long before the age
of refrigeration, it was common for Europeans to add alcoholic
beverages, such as brandy, wine or ale, to milk and egg drinks
to preserve them. American settlers replaced these with the much
cheaper rum, which came from the Caribbean.
Handy Latin Phrase No. 16
Recedite, plebes! Gero rem imperialem! Stand
aside plebians! I am on imperial business!
the SEVENTEENTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, My True Love Gave to me:
"People can't concentrate properly on blowing
other people to pieces if their minds are poisoned by thoughts
suitable to the twenty-fifth of December." ~Ogden
Handy Latin Phrase No. 17
Vah! Denuone Latine loquebar? Me ineptum.
Interdum modo elabitur. Oh! Was I speaking
Latin again? Silly me. Sometimes it just sort of slips out.