Interlude: Looking Around

Random Droppings: Looking Back, Looking at Now, Looking Forward

Now, for something completely different (sorry Monty).

Looking Back. 

First, a shout out to reader Dave R for suggesting that the title to my last blog/essay could have been: “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Hair* (*But Were Afraid to Ask) – sorry Woody.”  That’s brilliant. Thanks Dave.

Some readers did respond regarding the embedded cultural references in that essay.  For closure, here they are.

  1. “Sadly, Mr Lupner was born without a spine.” This from a series of Saturday Night Live (SNL) skits, circa late ‘70s, starring Bill Murray and Gilda Radner (RIP ☹ ) … sample skit here.
  2. “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.” A line said several times by the king in “The King and I”, a musical; composed by the famous team of Richard Rodgers (music) and Oscar Hammerstein (lyrics) [RIP 2x]
  3. “Curiouser and curiouser”; a line uttered by Alice in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, written by Charles Dodgson (RIP) under the nom de plume Lewis Carroll.
  4. “Any way the wind blows”; a line both sung and whispered in Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, mostly written by – and fantastically sung by – Freddie Mercury (RIP). It came out in 1974.  Normally, it would have been considered excessively long be a hit, at 6 minutes duration; nonetheless, it became a huge hit and still a standard at parties and receptions as they reach their raucous crescendos.  Also, a great karaoke song.
  5. “Fred Astaire got no hair” and other rhymes about hair are taken from George Carlin’s (RIP) recited poem Hair. Sometime in the ‘70s.  [Sample Carlin Hair Stand up act]



“You like Po-tay-to, I like Potah-to” (sorry Gershwins). Definitely not Potatoe (sorry Dan Quayle). Hey, Let’s (not) call the whole thing off.

Gershwin Bros, George (L) and Ira (R) [Born Jacob and Israel Gershovitz]

Thanksgiving weekend. Although brief, it took me a while, in fits and starts, to complete this piece, so I’m a bit late. Still within the 4-day break: after Black Friday and before Cyber Monday.

What are you thankful for?  Comment!  My own list is long.  At the top is my wife and her health.  Somewhere in the list is you all, my readers, whether frequent or sporadic readers and commenters.  Some are words of approbation, others of cogitation, some offer edits and improvements, or other tangents I could have flown off on (as if I need more temptation on tangents to drift away upon).

Thanksgiving mealtime!  What makes mashed potatoes great?  What is your secret ingredient?  Chives?  Cream cheese?  Grated cheese can make it great.  I think it’s butter. Butter makes everything better.

I was surprised to be reminded in my newsfeed last week that yams and sweet potatoes are nowhere near the same, neither genetically nor in taste, although the names are often used interchangeably.  And sweet potatoes are not potatoes at all.  In fact, my brilliant wife conducted an experiment a few decades ago that I had forgotten. She had all the kids visiting for Thanksgiving compare the tastes of them. [BTW: sweet potatoes make the best fries.  Just sayin’.]

Found online … lightly edited …

Color: Sweeties are orange. But not all potatoes are white.

Myth: A sweet potato is an orange potato.  Fact: Even though both the potato and sweet potato originated in Central & South America, they are actually not at all closely related. They come from different botanical families. Potatoes are in the nightshade family; sweet potatoes from the morning glory family.

Myth: Sweet potatoes are yams.  Fact: Yams and sweet potatoes are not the same vegetable, and they have different tastes. Back in the 1930s, “yams” was used as a marketing term for sweet potatoes and, still to this day, you find the two mislabeled in stores. They’re also from different families; yams come from the same family as grasses (!).

Details, details

To make things a bit more complicated, Garnet Yams are not yams at all; they’re sweet potatoes.  [read all about it]

You say potato.  I say … Yams?  “I yam what I yam.”

I’m glad this essay comes out after Thanksgiving, so you wouldn’t be tempted to bore your festivity guests with such trivia.  But, hey!, it’s better than politics, right?

Looking forward

I have notes for some upcoming essays, so here’s a heads up on what to look for. No promises that any will get finished or released.  Mostly a matter of finding time to pull them all together and polish them off. And staying focused.

These are not necessarily in order.

  1. A look back at the recent election.  This will be through the lens of the topic addressed in my essay Mr Gerry.  Since the census was just completed in 2020, districts re-drawn in 2021, and elections based on those districts in 2022, I thought it would be interesting to see how “fairly” the districts were drawn by a mathematical model.  (I put fair in quotes, since as adults we know the world is seldom fair, and fair is in the eyes of the beholder). I’m waiting until all the congressional races are decided.
  2. Like the Gershwins (Ira and George) mentioned above, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some famous brothers in history. This will probably be a trilogy, or more, to keep each reading session reasonably digestible in one sitting. As a side note, I think it’s interesting that fraternity (as well as sorority) are definitely Latin-based. And the words for brother and sister in Italian – clearly Latin-based –  are fratello and sorella.  We call such groups on college campuses by these Latin names, but we also call their “community” Greek Life, and the groups are known by Greek letters
  3. I have notes on an essay on some fruits and the history of a famous American family. The task, as always, is to be interesting, relatively brief, and with several interwoven threads.
  4. And I’m always prone to just march off on some new topic that pops into mind. Or a topic that a reader might suggest.  Perhaps you!

Sound off below.  Have a great holiday season.


Joe Girard © 2022

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More cultural references.
1) Everything You Wanted to Know … A spoof on the hilarious 1972 movie Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex* (*But were Afraid to Ask), an anthology in 7 parts, screenplay written by, directed by and (in at least 2 segments) starring Woody Allen … including one wherein he plays a sperm.  Wonderfully distasteful.

2) Let’s call the whole thing off.  Written in 1937 by George and Ira Gershwin for the movie of the same year “Shall we Dance” … with a title like that of course it’s starring Astaire and Rogers.

3) Potatoe: Vice President Dan Quayle famously erroneously corrected an elementary student who had correctly spelled it potato, while visiting a 6th grade classroom. [video here]

4) I yam what I yam. One of several regular expressions of cartoon character Popeye (The Sailor Man); here (8 sec) and here (full length cartoon, 3 min, titled I yam what I yam) , for starters. Oh my gosh, the (unbelievable racist) crap we watched for entertainment as kids.

5) Of course, the first: Now for something completely different. That’s a Monty Python line. Google it yourself. Insanely goofy and funny.

2 thoughts on “Interlude: Looking Around”

  1. Rick

    If you wanted to keep on the food myth theme, you could do an essay on pumpkin, and how canned pumpkin (for pumpkin pies) is more often canned butternut squash than not.

    Or how most berries aren’t botanical berries – strawberries aren’t a berry, but bananas and squash are!

    Then again, all this has been written about plenty, it seems!

    1. Joe Post Author

      Oh sorry Rick. Just saw this. I’ve been busy. Yes, botanically speaking, many “berries” aren’t technically berries. Oddly, the banana is. I’d have to come up with my own twist to tell these, because — as you noted — these things have been written about quite a bit. Take care.

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