Tom brought it up at a recent dance lesson. He's reading a biography of Benjamin Franklin.
As always, I had to admit that I'd heard the word, but couldn't define it.
Here it is: "A person, especially a diplomatic agent, invested with full power or authority to transact business on behalf of another."
From the Latin: Plens or "full" and potens (power, powerful).
Adding insult to injury, I had dinner at my folks last night, and asked if they knew what the word meant, and they both did, with no prompting. Of course, they were career Foreign Service, so I guess it gives them the edge on that one.
The book that started the discussion is A Great Improvisation by Stacy Schiff, about the time in 1776 when Franklin was dispatched to Paris, with no money and little French, but with full power and a mission to secure French help for our revolution. By all reports, it is an excellent read. Okay, by the one report I've gotten.
Sandy's got dogs, so I guess she would be concerned that their costumes are up to par with the other trick or treatin' pooches. Here are some costumes to choose from. Wonder if her pups are putting on the dog.
Gooey bars are in the oven. I'm going to the Halloween party at the dance studio tonight. Hopefully, they'll all be eaten.
Speaking of which, L.C. sent us a Halloween joke.
A couple is invited to a costume ball. The evening of the party, she gets a bad headache and begs off going to the party. Her husband is going to stay home with her, but she insists that he go: she is just going to take some aspirin and go to bed. Reluctantly, he agrees.
Her husband took his costume and left for the party. She went to bed, and woke up about an hour later feeling much better, and decided to go to the party.
Her husband didn't know what her costume was, so she decided to mess with his head a bit, and to see how he acted when she wasn't with him.
When she got there, her husband was the life of the party. He was dancing with every shapely woman there, stealing a kiss now and then, copping a feel when he could. The woman decided to test him. She sidled up to him, and since she was a hottie herself, he soon shed his dance partner and devoted his attention to her. She pretended to be charmed, and he pressed his luck further and further.
Finally, he whispered a suggestion in her ear, and they went outside to a car and made love. He was, after all, her husband. Before unmasking, she slipped away and went home. She took off her costume and went to bed, wondering what excuse her husband would have when he got home.
She was reading in bed when he got home, and asked him how the party had been.
"Oh, the same old thing. You know I never have a good time when you're not with me."
"Did you dance much?" she asked.
"Not once. When I got there, I met Bill, Jim and some of the guys. We went into the den and played poker all evening. But you'll never believe what happened to the guy I loaned my costume to."
(Hmmm. You'd think she'd have noticed. Still, if L.C. says it happened...)
Last night, I watched a film I've been looking forward to...and dreading...for some time. "Away from Her", starring Julie Christie and Gordon Pinsent as Fiona and Grant Anderson, a 60-ish couple who lead an idyllic life in a lovely cottage in beautiful, snow covered Canada.
Christie has had a long, illustrious career, but I remember her as the radiant beauty in her early movies, Dr. Zhivago, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, and Shampoo.
Here, she has aged a lot. No filters on these cameras, though it is apparent that she is intelligent, sophisticated, and still beautiful. But something's wrong. The movie dives right into it. She is somehow inappropriate. She will enter a conversation, and say something that really makes no sense. She puts the frying pan away in the freezer. And she is aware of the changes in herself.
Her husband watches in horror as she slips away, but holds on. One day, she goes cross-country skiing, then abandons her skis and wanders off. When he finally finds her, she doesn't know who he is.
It comes and goes, but she insists that they discuss that she might require institutionalization. He resists, but as she sees the changes in herself, starts to say "it's time"
And so she goes to Meadowlake. (An aside here. If there are really institutions like this, then I'm ready to move in. The quarters were elegant, the staff were patient and genial. Even the food looked good.)
Eventually, she enters the residence home. Their rule is that there can be no visitors for the first 30 days. An eternity for him, but she settles in well, and when he visits, she is playing cards with a group of other patients.
As he returns on a daily basis, it is obvious that her new life is her life now, and the man at whose side she is constantly, Aubrey, is her new man. She is polite with her Grant, but it is clear that he has no context for her any more. She sees him, quizically, as a new suitor, perhaps. She says to him "you're persistent", but has no idea who he is.
It's poignant as hell. The eyes have it in this movie. Christies show alarm at first, at her realization that she is changing, slipping, and then get blanker and voider as the movie progresses. Pinsent's in turn, become more and more pained and lost. Adding to his torment is the fact that twenty years before, he had had an affair, that ended when he left the university and they moved into the cottage they lived in at the beginning of the movie. One of the last things she remembered clearly.
Even the soundtrack was good. I dissolved into tears when Neil Young's "Harvest Moon" started to play. Young's "Helpless" performed by k.d. lang was equally moving.
This superb movie breaks one of my rules. I try to select movies that are funny and entertaining (ok, not always, but I try). This one isn't funny. It isn't entertaining.
A friend brought some of these to a party recently. They were a big hit.
Likewise when I brought them to bridge last month.
Now I have a Halloween party to go to, and guess what I'm bringing.
The thing is, the minute Beth said the recipe was from Paula Deen, I knew this wasn't Cooking Light. So they have to be good enought that they get all eaten up, or at least taken home by guests at the end of the evening.
I found "cleptobiosis" in The Gilded Tongue, by Rod L. Evans, Ph.D. As usual, I tried to figure out what the word meant before reading its actual meaning, and, as usual, I was wrong. "Klepto", to steal, "biosis", life. So I thought it might mean grave robbing, or perhaps kidnapping, or even murder.
Not so simple. "Biosis" in this case means the mode of life, not life itself. Thus the term refers to plundering food. Certain species, like ants, rodents, golden retrievers, will take food from other species.
I tried to find a word for grave robbers. They were called "resurrectionists" for obvious reasons, but I couldn't find a technical word for what they did.
Reminds me of a poem from my childhood about the most famous resurrectionsists of them all, Burke and Hare:
Up the close and down the stair, In the house with Burke and Hare. Burke's the butcher, Hare's the thief, And Knox the man Who buys the beef.
Knox was Dr. Knox who would buy the freshly dug up corpses, and later, the ones that didn't even have dirt on them, and even, eventually, ones with familiar faces, all in the name of science. So that he and his students could dissect them.
Their crimes, ironically, led to loosening of restrictions on what bodies could be dissected for science.
[Image of Helen MacDougal, Burke's mistress being chased by an angry mob after the crimes were discovered. Via Wikipedia]
With wikiHow, you can find out how to do all these things, start or edit articles, or just kill an afternoon clicking on the "Random Article" button: How to pick a quality stock; How to use a French press (it's to make coffee...);buy and use an uninterruptible power supply; pack your bag before going into labor. So much information I'll never use.
Unfortunately couldn't find out how to get wood borers out of oak trees. If I find the answer maybe I'll do my own article.
Though I may never have to pack for labor, there is a wealth of information, must made for browsing on a rainy Sunday afternoon, or, better yet, for searching when you really do need to know something.
A search of "ballroom dancing" gives us such tips as how to fake ballroom dancing ability, learn pole dancing, and learn dancing from scratch in a month. Here's a pretty good wiki on how to dance salsa.
Definitely a fun site, and useful too. Thanks, L.C.!