Posts Tagged ‘Pluto’

Winner: Pluto, followed by Droppin’, 9 O’Clock Judy, and Dave

In a week when the president and secretary of state squabbled over who was the bigger moron, we played a game whose theme was “are you smarter than a middle schooler?” I think we should have invited those two guys to join us and we could have settled the question once and for all, although it’s pretty clear who is the bigger moron.

Pluto was smoking hot tonight and if he knew that Frankfort was the capital of Kentucky he would have been perfect. Now he’s bragging that he is smarter than a middle schooler. Big deal.

Good question!: Who crossed the Rubicon?

Choices: a. Mussolini   b. Hannibal   c. Caesar   d. Bellini

Answer: Caesar

Some folks thought it was Hannibal, but he crossed the Alps. So what was the significance of crossing the Rubicon?

“In the year 49 B.C., Julius Caesar was the provincial Governor of Gaul (an area roughly corresponding to modern France). Caesar’s campaign to bring Europe under the yoke of the Roman Empire had been a rousing success. Returning to Rome, Caesar was required by Roman law to leave his legions at the Italian border, but Caesar had enemies in Rome [e.g. Pompey, another Roman general and statesman had ambitions of his own to become dictator] and was reluctant to return without his troops (or “cohorts,” originally divisions of the Roman Legion).

Finally, Caesar made the fateful decision, disobeying Pompey and the Roman senate, to lead his troops across the river that marked the border of Italy, proclaiming (it is said) ‘Alea iacta est’ (‘The die is cast’), meaning that his act was irrevocable, whatever its consequences.

The consequences were dire, for Caesar’s act precipitated a bloody civil war which eventually led to his becoming Emperor of all Rome. Caesar’s remark, immortalized by Roman historians has since become a very well-worn cliché applied to any irrevocable decision. The river that Caesar crossed that fateful day in 49 B.C., incidentally, was the Rubicon, giving us the phrase ‘to cross the Rubicon’ [essentially a synonym of ‘the die is cast’], meaning that an important point has been crossed and that there is no going back.” (per Word Detective)

If you feel like you want to refresh your knowledge of Julius Caesar, a pretty important figure in western civilization, this is a good academic presentation by the Khan Academy.



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Winner: Pluto, followed closely by Rosebud, 9 O’Clock Judy, Almond Joy, Judge Judy, and Tall Paul.

Lots of controversy tonight. What was actress Marilyn Monroe’s last completed film? It was “The Misfits,” a film which many think was Marilyn Monroe’s best dramatic performance.

For some reason most folks thought she had died during the filming of “The Misfits,” and put up a loud and vigorous challenge. In fact, she had only been hospitalized during its filming. It was during the shooting for her next film “Something’s Got to Give” that she died, and that film was unreleased. BTW, Clark Gable, often referred to as “The King of Hollywood,” died of a heart attack just after filming “The Misfits.” He was only 59 years old.

Good Question!: Ricotta is a cheese traditionally made from the milk of which animal?

Choices: a. goat  b. cow  c. sheep  d. camel

Answer: Cow

Oh Boy! Much more controversy here, because many folks thought that ricotta was made from sheep milk, and you know what, they were right, too.

What is Ricotta Cheese?

Ricotta is a soft, sweet, fresh, white cheese made from what is left over after making other cheeses. Basically ricotta is made from whey—that is, the watery liquid that remains after cow, sheep or goat cheese is made. Used in abundance all over Italy, ricotta—in all its various forms—has played an important part in Italian cucina for centuries. Ounce for ounce, Ricotta has five times more calcium than the cottage cheese it closely resembles.


Want to know much more?

First, better remember, “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”


Ancient and Modern Ricotta

“In the ancient times of the Roman republic, the production of ricotta was regulated by Cato the Elder—a statesman known for his humble origins and practical wisdom. Among other laws, he codified rules for sheep farming and agriculture. In those days, sheep’s milk had several uses: as a part of sacrificial rites; as a beverage; for the production of pecorino cheese—and ricotta. Even back then, the practice of using whey, instead of merely discarding it, already existed.

Ricotta, which literally means “recooked” in Italian, was probably accidentally discovered during the production of pecorino. The process for making ricotta is relatively simple: By allowing the whey to ferment one or two days in lukewarm temperatures, it becomes more acidic. After fermentation, the whey is cooked to almost boiling; afterward, the residual proteins solidify into curds, which are then filtered through a cloth. The result is a product with a consistency similar to cottage cheese, but with a sweet taste.

Cheese making is a real craft—it takes a lot of skill, practice and experience to make a good cheese. Even ricotta, in all its simplicity, follows traditions, rules, and methods. Though fresh ricotta is not so readily available—even in Italian cities it can be hard to find, and outside of Italy, it’s still something of a rarity—it is possible to find tasty commercial ricotta just about everywhere.  The commercial versions of ricotta—sold in many parts of the world, as well as in Italy—are very useful in the kitchen, particularly in pastry and pasta dishes. But, there is nothing that can compare to the taste of fresh authentic Italian ricotta.

Made without any additives and naturally low in fat, undoubtedly, the best ricotta you’ll ever experience comes straight from the farm—sold in street markets and local cheese stores all over Italy. Fresh ricotta is readily available in a variety of forms, but the most common types are: ricotta di mucca (cow milk ricotta), ricotta di pecora (sheep milk ricotta), and ricotta mista di mucca e pecora (a mixture of cow and sheep milk ricottas). Cow milk ricotta is more widely consumed in Northern Italy, and sheep ricotta is more prevalent in the central south. Ricotta di capra (goat) and ricotta di bufala (buffalo) also exist but they are a bit harder to come by.

The differences between these ricottas are noteworthy. Cow’s milk ricotta is milder and has a more neutral taste than the other varieties. It’s ideal for the celebrated filled-pasta delicacies of northern Italy—such as, ravioli, tortelloni, agnolotti, savory stuffed crepes—as well as cakes and pastries. In the regions where sheep herding is more widespread—such as in Tuscany, Lazio, Abruzzi, Campania, Puglia, and of course Sardinia, which has the largest sheep farms in all of Italy—naturally, sheep milk ricotta is more prevalent. Each region produces a slightly different tasting milk and cheese. In general, sheep milk ricotta has a slightly richer taste than the cow milk variety.” (George DeLallo Company)


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Winner: Pluto
also in photo: our waiter, Juan; the Driver (2nd), and Babs (3rd).

Sure there was a game tonight, but it was Fat Tuesday and I want to talk about that traditional king cake so kindly provided by New Orleans native, Rhys. The cake was from Copenhagen, and like everything from Copenhagen it was delicious. Thanks so much, Rhys. And to top it off the cake was served by two sexy Mardi Gras ladies.

Mistress Daphne and the Driver returned tonight from their journey through the Far East and seemed to be still a bit sleep deprived. That did not stop them from bringing some special prizes for the winners and traditional Korean delicacies for all.

Good Question!: This relatively small country features one of the largest carnival celebrations in the world?

Choices: a. Jamaica  b. Granada   c. Trinidad and Tobago  d. Haiti

Answer: Trinidad and Tobago


Known as the biggest street party on Earth- Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival is officially celebrated on the Monday and Tuesday before Ash Wednesday every year. The Carnival festivities start just after Christmas and continues until Ash Wednesday-loaded with dozens of high energy parties and premier cultural competitions.

Carnival Monday opens with J’Ouvert at 4am, when revellers parade through the streets immersed in paint, grease and mud until sunrise. Later in the day on Monday and all day on Carnival Tuesday, thousands of masqueraders flood the streets throughout the islands in bold, colourful costumes, dancing through the parade routes to the exhilarating sounds of soca, steelpan and calypso music.


If you want to take part in the parade, you can purchase a costume of your choice from the many Carnival bands available. Then, you can collect your costumes just before the festival. Many Carnival Bands are all-inclusive, which means on Carnival day, food and drinks and other amenities are provided. There are also package deals for the J’Ouvert, but remember to book early! Sign me up Coach!


bloggers note:
Pluto, a regular at Main Street Café’s Tuesday night trivia, headed in to NYCity over the weekend and helped his team finish first with a perfect score at the 10th annual Panorama Challenge Trivia Night.


The competition was fierce with 14 teams and over 120 very serious NYC know-it-alls and geography geeks. Players had to be serious to even show up – wind chill that night was below zero.



What is the Panorama Challenge?
“Come to the Queens Museum to participate in the world’s only geographical trivia-based game night involving the world’s largest panorama – The Panorama of the City of New York! Participants will compete in teams of 10 (more or fewer people is OK too!) to test their knowledge of New York City geography and celebrate the geekiness of their native or adopted hometown.

The Panorama Challenge involves audio clues and laser-pointers highlighting assorted NYC landmarks, bridges, neighborhoods, parks and more. Its your team’s job to identify all 30 locations.”

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Winner: Pluto

It was a close game, decided only when Pluto remembered that Black Monday, a day when the New York Stock Exchange fell by 33%, happened in 1987. Not a day you forget, if you had any money in the market.

Almond Joy just missed the winners podium tonight, but he was happy with his fourth place finish. Of course, he would’ve been even happier if he hadn’t finished tied for last with a few others.

Tonight’s first question caused the most controversy, so let’s get right to it.

Good Question!: What was the name of the very first ocean-going vessel built by Englishman in the new world?

Choices: a. Jamestown  b. Virginia  c. Hampton  d. Hope


Answer: Virginia

We were told the ship was built by settlers landing in Maine in 1607, who found life too harsh and built a ship to escape a second winter.

Now in 1607 we figured there was no state of Virginia, there was no colony of Virginia, there was no Virginia! So we all wondered – how the heck did this ship built in Maine get named Virginia?

Well Virginia, there was a Virginia.

Virginia was the mother of the colonies. Each of the other original colonies was directly or indirectly carved out of Virginia. It was the first territory to be claimed by England in North America. At its maximum extent, Virginia encompassed most of what is now the United States, as well as portions of Canada and Mexico.

The Founding of Virginia

When Sir Walter Raleigh founded the first English settlement on Roanoke Island, there was no Virginia. There was only America. The English had gradually settled Newfoundland as a fishing community starting in the 1550’s. This island was chartered as a colony in 1585, the same year that Roanoke Island was first settled. The Spanish had established Saint Augustine, Florida in 1565 as a strategic outpost to protect Spain’s Caribbean empire from English privateers.

Between Newfoundland and Spanish Florida was a vast unsettled territory. Raleigh named this area Virginia an honor to Queen Elizabeth, (the Virgin Queen), with whom he sought favors. For many years thereafter the vast temperate region of North America was referred to as Virginia. It had no boundaries, and no government – but it did have a small ship named after it!

All this talk of colonial Virginia has me thinking of Pocahontas:

A brief history of early European colonization of North America

in 1606 King James I, Elizabeth’s successor, chartered two joint stock companies for the purpose of establishing colonies in Virginia. Each was granted a tract of land extending along the Atlantic coast, and extending inland for 100 miles. The Virginia Company of London was granted a southern tract from Cape Fear to Long Island Sound. The Virginia Company of Plymouth was granted a northern tract extending from Assateague Island to Passamaquoddy Bay, Maine (near where our ship builders had landed.)

When the Virginia Company of London sent out its first expedition to begin colonizing Virginia on December 20, 1606, it was by no means the first European attempt to exploit North America.

Basque, English, and French fishing fleets became regular visitors to the coasts from Newfoundland to Cape Cod. Some of these fishing fleets even set up semi-permanent camps on the coasts to dry their catches and to trade with local Indians, exchanging furs for manufactured goods. For the next two decades, Europeans’ presence in North America was limited to these semi-permanent incursions. Then in the 1580s, the English tried to plant a permanent colony on Roanoke Island (on the outer banks of present-day North Carolina), but their effort was short-lived (it is now known as the “Lost Colony”)

In the early 1600s, in rapid succession, the English began a colony (Jamestown) in Chesapeake Bay in 1607, the French built Quebec in 1608, and the Dutch began their interest in the region that became present-day New York. Within another generation, the Plymouth Company (1620), the Massachusetts Bay Company (1629), the Company of New France (1627), and the Dutch West India Company (1621) began to send thousands of colonists, including families, to North America. Successful colonization was not inevitable. Rather, interest in North America was a halting, yet global, contest among European powers to exploit these lands.


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Winner: Pluto, with Rosebud in 2nd, & Droppin’ in 3rd
also in photo: newbie Sabrine, moderator Mike P. and Chris, who wanted to add some class to the photo.

Pluto edged ahead late for the win and a rare 3Peat. He totally credits the warm, nurturing environment that Mike P, our La La Land moderator, provides for all. Mike even let’s us use the restroom during the game, if necessary. Mistress Daphne would never allow that, even under the most extreme circumstances.

We had a bit of a kerfuffle tonight over what colour the bullseye is on an official archery target. The accepted answer was gold, but some pointed out that technically it’s not gold, it’s yellow.

Good Question!: How old is a horse when it changes from a filly to a mare?

Choices: a. 1.5  b. 2  c. 3  d. 4


Answer: 4

A mare is an adult female horse or other equine.
(and yeah, that photo is not a Lady, that’s Big Red – Secretariat)

In most cases, a mare is a female horse over the age of three, and a filly is a female horse three and younger. The word can also be used for other female equine animals, particularly mules and zebras, but a female donkey is usually called a “jenny”. A broodmare is a mare used for breeding. A horse’s female parent is known as its dam.

An uncastrated adult male horse is called a stallion and a castrated male is a gelding. Occasionally, the term “horse” is used to designate only a male horse.

Mares carry their young (called foals) for approximately 11 months from conception to birth. For most competitive purposes, foals are given an official “birthday” of January 1 and many breeders want foals to be born as early in the year as possible. Therefore, many breeding farms begin to put mares “under lights” in late winter in order to allow conception to occur in February or March.

Fillies are sexually mature by age two and are sometimes bred at that age, but generally should not be bred until they themselves have stopped growing, usually by age four or five.

Big Red wins the Belmont by a country mile:

Top 10 Female Race Horses of All Time:
(according to Sports illustrated)

10.Ta Wee

09. Rags to Riches

08. Winning Colors

07. Genuine Risk

06. Lady’s Secret

05. Rachel Alexandra

04. Azeri

03. Personal Ensign

02. Ruffian
From her first record-setting race as a two-year-old filly, Ruffian enthralled racing fans, dominating the sport in the 1970s. She swept the Triple Tiara series and clocked remarkable speeds, often beating her competition by eight lengths or more. Sadly, Ruffian’s career came to a tragic end when she broke down on the backstretch at Belmont Park during a $350,000 battle of the sexes race against Foolish Pleasure. She was euthanized later that night.

01. Zenyatta
In 2009, Zenyatta became the first female to ever win the Breeders’ Cup, when she rebounded from more than a 10-length gap to rally on the outside to beat Gio Ponti. Zenyatta may have lost at the 2010 Breeders’ Cup Classic, but her 19-1 record is nothing to laugh at. In what became her final race, Zenyatta made her trademark move from last place but fell short in a photo finish to Blame. Zenyatta was runner-up for Horse of the Year in 2008 and 2009, but won the honor in 2010, besting Blame, the only opponent ever to defeat her on the track.

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Winner: Pluto
closely followed in 2nd and 3rd place by Droppin’, Almond Joy, Rosebud, Jen and Joe, tall Paul, and Dale. Wow!

A cold, dreary night with lots of players and many were bunched up in the top places. Pluto guessed right on the fastest Rubik’s Cube and that may have made the difference.


With Mistress Daphne on a boat to Hawaii, or from Hawaii, or maybe both, Mike P, the gentle moderator, stepped in and did his usual superb job. Darin brought out so many desserts this evening that it’s a wonder that any of us could get up off our barstools at the end of the night.

There was a Formula One question which Almond Joy, our car expert, refused to answer. He said: “I don’t mess with that formula 1 stuff, I’m a NASCAR guy all the way.”

Good Question!: David Bowie’s album released just before he died in January 2016 is?

a. Blackstar  b. Death March  c. Stardom  d. Free at Last


Answer: Blackstar

It’s the one year anniversary of David Bowie’s death, a time to remember him.  In over fifty years from his very first recordings right through to his last album Blackstar, David Bowie was at the vanguard of contemporary culture as a musician, artist, icon and a constant influence on generations of writers, artists and designers. He was, and remains to be, a unique presence in contemporary culture.

Rolling Stone had a couple of good pieces on Bowie – his music, his life:
David Bowie Dead at 69
Thanks, Starman: Why David Bowie Was the Greatest Rock Star Ever
But it’s his music that we will most remember and this is a very comprehensive list with videos:

David Bowie: 30 Essential Songs


Of course, his music has been recorded by performers of all genres. Here is my fave version of “Space Oddity” by Jennifer Sheehan, one of NYC’s rising young cabaret stars:

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Winner: Pluto, followed closely by Rosebud, big John, tall Paul, Carol D, and Droppin’

A tight game tonight with lots of folks on the podium. Heck, that was almost half the players.

Tonight we learned that sunshine can boost the chances of pregnancy by up to a third. Who knew.

We must all be getting old, because no one remembered that YouTube was originally meant to be an online dating site.

Good question!: Which is the only sea that has no coast?

Choice’s: a. Sargasso  b. Ionian  c. Marmara  d. Irish


Answer: Sargasso Sea

A sea without a coast? Sounds like a trick question. And it tricked most of us.




The Sargasso Sea is a vast patch of ocean named for a genus of free-floating seaweed called Sargassum. While there are many different types of algae found floating in the ocean all around world, the Sargasso Sea is unique in that it harbors species of sargassum that are ‘holopelagi’ – this means that the algae not only freely floats around the ocean, but it reproduces vegetatively on the high seas. Other seaweeds reproduce and begin life on the floor of the ocean.

Sargassum provides a home to an amazing variety of marine species. Turtles use sargassum mats as nurseries where hatchlings have food and shelter. Sargassum also provides essential habitat for shrimp, crab, fish, and other marine species that have adapted specifically to this floating algae. The Sargasso Sea is a spawning site for threatened and endangered eels, as well as white marlin, porbeagle shark, and dolphinfish. Humpback whales annually migrate through the Sargasso Sea. Commercial fish, such as tuna, and birds also migrate through the Sargasso Sea and depend on it for food.


While all other seas in the world are defined at least in part by land boundaries, the Sargasso Sea is defined only by ocean currents. It lies within the Northern Atlantic Subtropical Gyre. The Gulf Stream establishes the Sargasso Sea’s western boundary, while the Sea is further defined to the north by the North Atlantic Current, to the east by the Canary Current, and to the south by the North Atlantic Equatorial Current. Since this area is defined by boundary currents, its borders are dynamic, correlating roughly with the Azores High Pressure Center for any particular season.

I’m guessing that the Black Lagoon must be somewhere in that Sargasso Sea. I’m sure you remember the “Creature from the Black Lagoon,” with the “most amazing underwater photography the screen has ever known!” Well, that’s what they thought back in 1954 (better hold on to your knickers):


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