Eurolingua Salad

A few days ago I had a delightful meetup with several fellow Esperantists. Esperanto was devised by the Polish doctor and linguist Ludwig Lazarus Zamenhof in the 1870’s and 1880’s in the hopes of creating an international language that would be easy for anyone to learn, thus fostering peace and international cooperation. It is, to date, the most successful of all constructed international auxiliary languages.

I fell under the spell of Esperanto in the mid-70’s. While wandering the streets of Villach, Austria, I entered the Kongresshaus and found an International Esperanto Conference in full swing. I picked up a pamphlet or two and discovered (with English, French, German and Italian under my belt) that I could read Esperanto with almost no problem. I was enchanted. Although I never really became fluent in speaking, I can read and write with fair proficiency.

During the course of the gathering, I mentioned this article which I collected years ago – it’s not an official artificial language, but rather a humorous piece which should be readable by just about any European, or other linguist/polyglot worth his or her salt.

Here is a text written in a language which is not taught in any university, but which lends itself well to use on the European continent.

A certain Diego Marani, translator for the European Council, created Europanto, an authentic mixture more or less proportional to all the languages of the community, which has become very successful, even to being published in a Belgian magazine…

As in Bruxelles diem, good lecture und bueno weekend for tu und mein fratello…


Qui ist inspector Cabillot ?

Inspector Cabillot ist le true fonctionner der UEEU wie lutte contra der insjustice y der mal, por der ideal van una Europa unita y democratica in ein world de pax, where se parle eine sola langue, der Europanto.

Cabillot und el misterio der exotische Pralinas

Erat una fria morning de Octubre und ein low fox noyabat las benches der park. Algunos laborantes magrebinos collectabant der litter singing melanconic tunes. Aan el 200th floor des Euro Tower el Chef Inspector General del Service des Bizarre Dingen, Mr What, frapped sur the tabula y said: “Dit is kein blague. Appel rapid Cabillot!”.

Inspector Cabillot put sein rhubarbre lollipop en el tiroir, raccroched der telefon und got aan el cuirassed elevator fur emergence case.

‑ Usted me demanded, Mr. What ?

‑ Ja. Ik hay ein delicaaat mission voor vous. Als you sabez, der UEEU send plenty aid to trio mundo countries y sobre all, butter, second hand velos, italian bien, english wine, old stamps und used tyres. Well, some de esto aid jamas arriva a destinatie. There must est un hole quelquewhere en Sud Amerika, mas exactly, in der Petite Guyane Luxembourgeoise. La is tambien ein kliniek por invalidos funcionarios die is un bit suspecta. Ich want dat Usted va alla ut give un colpo de eye. Usted wil make semblant ein invalido fonctionnaire to be. Sergent Otto Oliveira of de Europese Polizei will mit vous in touch resteren.

‑ Ouivohl, Mr. What.

‑ Il is surtodo el butter que svanish… et we hebben kein indices. Bonne luck, Inspector!

Inspector Cabillot got back dans son oficina por make los bagaages.

‑ Wat bring man en der Petite Guyane Luxembourgeoise, Otto? Asked el aan su beste collaborador.

‑ Sabe niet… maybe ein fishing baton, ein warmawater bouteille, somechose to lire or una hermosa girl… a less que dat kan man op place trovar…

Inspector Cabillot put en la valisa der draft directive van de UEEU on Bolts, Clous und Staples, quelque ananas lollipop (exotische flavour), sein flowered bermudas, ein straw chapeau y ein vocabulair Guyanish ‑ Europanto.

Der dia after, Inspector Cabillot atterred at Paramarange, capital der la Petite Guyane Luxembourgeoise mit the mismo aereo que transportabat el europese aid. Paramarange is ein city maritima, mit viel mundo et un grote harbour.

La erste cosa que Cabillot remarqued was dat presque todos los Paramarangos estaban fat como porcadillos. Partout was plein van pralinas reklames und in aile boutiks erat full van pralinas of todos types.

‑ Man like aqui chocolats un lot! esclamed Cabillot aan el taxista.

‑ Certenly sur ! We tenemos ici los meliores chocolates der monde! People komen out van Switzerland fur nuestros chocolates to kopen. Where va Usted ?

‑ Aan la kliniek Hemelpax.

‑ Oh, est vous ein van aquellos very muchos enerved people ?

‑ Not vraiement…

Parte zwei

La klinika erat un basse edifizio blanco mit verde fenestras and lindo jardino florido. Aan la entry was Dr. Hookers, el director des klinika, expectante.

“Mr. cabillot, Ich suppose … ”

“Le same, Herr doctor!”

“Bienkomen en Hemelpax! Se fasse comfortable en my oficio, bitte! Frau Hassenpain, prepare please de room 23!

” Dr. Hookers fermed de porta und sitted in sua fauteuil.

“Dear Menheer Cabillot, vous will vedere que hier sta man in pax und Brussel will presto become eine far away memoria for usted! Ich sais que usted esse nicht eine grave case. Una belangrijkissima cosa: remenbere de never prononze ici de mot ‘Communautes economiques europeennes’ of ‘Union europeenne’.

There ist ici people que quando this entende jump en l’aere like uno emflammado und commencia te pleure, te hurle, te sich arrache los cabillos van der tete. Ici man sobreall must dormiren. In der postmeridio est quelqunas activitades distractiva como de promenada nel park or una pied‑balle partida, fur exemplo, la Commission contra el reste del mundo. El sunday postmeridio ist la projectio del film (siempre lo meme, para not emoxionar too mucho los esprits) ‘Gone with de invaliditeit’. Ik espero dat usted wil aqui happy esse. Du kan maintenante un look autour della cite habe. Aqui se mange at sept ‘o cloque. Hasta la vue, Mr. Cabillot!”

El doctor se leved und accompanied Cabillot aan la door. En sortendo, Cabillot remarqued Frau Hassenpain qui espiabat uit den fenestra.

Paramarange ist una very folle cite y der pueblo est calientissimo. Everyrodo mange pralinas non‑stop und wenn mange overdose commenza a danzer la Tarabomba qui ist eine tipik bal, very desfrenado und decambolante. Le long des stradas erat pienty van ‘tarabombos’ (los ballerines de Tarabomba) dechainados qui ballabant under el heat der sol. In eine cafe on der plaza, Cabillot tasted quelqunas pralinas and aan lui tambien le came envie de danzar one poco.

Quella tarde, en el restorant de la klinika, Cabillot mangesd echet paramarangas specialitades

Moules au chocolat* Emince de mouette au cacao avec pralines frites Salade aux quatre chocolats Chocolat chaud (cuvee 1978).

“Un bit van butter ?” demander Frau Hassenpain en serving el dish. “Nein, gracias, ich like le butter niks” responded Cabillot. But Frau Hassenpain let le butter sobre la tabla. “Strange Frau” pensed Cabillot. Entorno de lui los autros pazientos des klinika mangiabant silentes, mit les eyes ekarkillados. Aquella noche, Cabillot dormed mal und dreamed grosse waitresses que danzabant la Tarabomba en topless sur la playa.

Le morgen, Cabillot se leved et se promened eine peu in der klinika. Parfois le parebat de sentir uno sound, like moteurs tournant. El monted todos los floors, mais es impossible was naar de caves te descendre. De porta was zu. Por el breakfasto, el decided de mange leger : only uno the al chocolate. “Sommige butter?” demanded Frau Hassenpain.

“Le said deja que no! Ich like el butter niks!” responded brutalmente Cabillot. Todo el dag Cabillot permaned en la terrazze de la klinika, chassando las mouches und lisando el jourpaper de Paramarange, “Una Van Deze Soirs”. El went dormir early, mit uno grosse mal au belly. But , dat nacht tambien el dormed not. Il y was eine bruit, eine mysterioso bruit que lo deranged. Descendendo en le hall om eine the chocolats te drinken, Cabillot antended eine cri. El ran to la kitchen. Sur le floor stabat Frau Hassenpain, mit eine knife enfonced in de poitrine y der bouche full van chocolat.

* In alles gut restorantes, ist la karte toujours in Franzose gewritten.

Con AGIP, c’è di più!


Vintage print ad for AGIP gasoline. “On every Italian road with ‘supercortemaggiore’, the powerful Italian gasoline – Drive farther, use less.” Reminds me of the old Shell ads touting the mileage-stretching benefits of “platformate;” what they failed to mention was that every gasoline contained it… they were just the first ones to make a big deal about it.

Bless you!

How you sneeze in public:


How you sneeze when you’re alone:


(With apologies to Don Martin)

A cherished colleague of mine who passed away far too soon after a battle with cancer had her office two doors down from mine on the 21st floor of our building. This dear lady had a sneeze that would rattle the windows on the ground floor, and every time I heard her let fly I’d email her a drawing of a mop and bucket, or Noah’s flood, something similar; one day I sent her the image above which I dashed off for her benefit. I’d know she had gotten it when I heard her laugh, which was almost as loud.

Some myths about sneezing:

Your heart stops when you sneeze.  When your chest contracts because of a sneeze, your blood flow is momentarily constricted as well. As a result, the rhythm of your heart may change, but it definitely doesn’t stop.

You can’t keep your eyes open when you sneeze. If you do, your eyeballs will pop out. Most people naturally close their eyes when they sneeze, but if they are able to keep them open, their eyes stay firmly planted in their heads where they belong. Your blood pressure may spike momentarily, but that’s about it.

If you sneeze X times in a row, you’ll have an orgasm. No idea who came up with this one – although sneezing releases endorphins and can feel good, there’s no relationship between sneezing and sex.

Some facts about sneezing:

The Greek word for sneeze is πνεῦμα (pneuma) which means “soul or spirit.” In ancient times, people believed that sneezing was a near-death experience; a blessing would keep your soul from escaping, and protect you from the devil who is just waiting to come in.

A sneeze can travel up to one hundred miles per hour. The particles and spit emitted when we sneeze can travel up to five feet away, and the bacteria sent into the air by our sternutation can spread up to 150 feet away.

If you sneeze on Monday, you sneeze for danger;
Sneeze on Tuesday, you kiss a stranger;
Sneeze on Wednesday, you sneeze for a letter;
Sneeze on a Thursday, for something better;
Sneeze on a Friday, you sneeze for sorrow;
Sneeze on a Saturday, your sweetheart tomorrow;
Sneeze on a Sunday, your safety seek,
The devil will have you the whole of the week.

The sounds of sneezing around the world:

English: Achoo!
French: Atchoum!
Greek: αψoύ! (apsou)
Italian: Etciù!
Japanese: hakushon!
Swedish: Atjo!
Spanish: !Atchús!
Russian: Apchkhi!
German: Hatchi!

Mom was not expecting this…


Everyone sneezes.

(Imgur image by ControversyPeanut)

And some people absolutely know how to get maximum value out of a good sneeze photo:

Calvin Sneeze

Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson

To your health!

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Astronomer Pranks



From Shorpy, Washington, D.C. “Prof. H.E. Burton, 8/5/29.” A Star Search matinee. National Photo Company Collection glass negative.

There was a time when astronomers actually looked into their telescopes, instead of working at remote locations on sophisticated digital (or a bit earlier, photographic) equipment. But one can imagine that there were times when things got a bit boring in the observatory, and then idle minds became the devil’s workshop.

Al Frueh proposed just such an incident in 1937, in the New York Times. Here’ for your gratuitous pleasure, is reproduced


Al Frueh - The Jest (Astronomers)


As a kid, I had one of those little black eye tubes. It worked great. And just in case you think old guys can’t be trolls,

Old Troll


Watch out for retired people. We have the time to make your life hell.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Johnny Depp: Mensch

Reblogged from

Johnny Depp never travels without Jack Sparrow costume


Johnny Depp never travels without his Captain Jack Sparrow costume. The 50-year-old actor often surprises sick children in hospital by arriving dressed as his character from the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and makes sure he has the costume with him at all times, just in case. He told E! News: “Sometimes you go to kiddie hospitals and things like that. I’ll just sneak in and go and surprise a bunch of kiddies through the different wards…It basically turns into a two-, three-hour improvisation and it’s really fun. So I travel with Captain Jack.” However, Johnny doesn’t think he will be doing the same thing with the costume of his latest character, Tonto from The Lone Ranger as he worries it wouldn’t get through customs. He explained: “That bird going through customs is going to be weird, isn’t it?. I’ll just put a handle on top of it and it will be a handbag.” Johnny – who has two children, Lily-Rose, 14, and Jack, 11, with ex-girlfriend Vanessa Paradis – reached the milestone age of 50 on June 9 and insists he doesn’t have any problems being half a century old because he is just glad to still be alive and appreciates every day of his life. He recently said: “It’s great. I mean, I think any day you wake up and you’re still around is a good thing. Every time you could take a breath and exhale and inhale again, it’s a good thing; 50 is like, ‘Sure! Why not?’ ”

I love this guy. I can’t imagine how much happiness he has brought to so many people, especially the young. One brilliant example is helping a young lady lead a mutiny at her London school.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Games I Loved as a Child

Everyone plays Risk, but I had this nagging memory from early childhood that I had played a similar game that wasn’t quite the same. All I remembered about it were these little “I-beams” that were used as some sort of currency. Thanks to the Internet, I was able to refresh my memory.


Summit is a Cold War board game introduced in 1961 by Milton Bradley as “The Top Level Game of Global Strategy,” and it was about this era that my cousin and I used to play it. I’m surprised that even at my tender age of 10 or 11, I was able to grasp the ins and outs of this purported “adult-level” game.


The board


Playing pieces


Instruction Manual Cover


Alliance flags

A good description of the game is found at Gamepile:

Summit is an early “war game” of the Cold War era. There is no outright conflict involved, the players try to influence their opponents through economic strength and military threat.

Each player represents one of the major powers of the world (of 1961); the United States, the Soviet Union, China, Europe, South America and India. There are three basic units; “mills”, “factories” and “bases”. Mills produce “I-Beams” which are used to build more mills, factories and bases as well as providing “Economic Pressure” chips. Factories produce consumer goods which produce “Popular Support” chips and bases protect mills and factories and produce “Military Threat” chips.

What drives the game is that mills and factories in “foreign” countries produce more than those in a player’s home country. A player can build in any foreign country in which no other player has a base. If a player builds a base in a country, all mills and factories belonging to other players in that country must be removed. So, a player must build bases in the foreign country to protect their mills and factories there.

To force another player to remove a base from a foreign country a player must play one of their chips (either Economic, Social or Military). The second player must either remove the base or counter with a chip of the same type. If they counter, the first player may play a second chip. This continues until one player or the other decides to stop playing chips. A player must be careful, because spending too many chips can leave them very vulnerable in one of the three areas.


This game is surprisingly simple yet surprisingly deep at the same time. Players can ally with each other and can use their allies chips (with their allies permission) in a challenge. The game forces the player to try to maintain a balance of economic, social and military development. A very good game and one that stands up surprisingly well even after over 40 years.

I find this actual quote from the rules book amusing…Compare some of the plays you are making with the international news of the day. Quite often it will coincide with the play of the game.

I’ve found a couple of copies of this game on eBay, but the ones I’ve seen are either incomplete or too expensive. I’ll keep my eye out, because this was one of our favorite games to play when I would visit my “country cousins.”

Now my memory is on a roll. I might as well put a few others here, some of which are no longer available.


Teeko is an abstract strategy game invented by John Scarne.


Each player had four wooden pieces; the game was played by placing one’s markers on the board, and then sliding them around with the object of being the first one to line up his or her pieces in a straight line, either horizontal, vertical, or diagonal. Notice the “Scarne on Teeko” volume in this photo.

Blue Chip

I really enjoyed this game – it predated Bookshelf Games “Stocks and Bonds”, and gave me a feel for how the stock market worked.


A description from

Blue Chip (also published as Dow Jones) is a very simplistic stock market game with an interesting twist (sliding pegboards). There are 12 companies divided into Industrials (such as GM), Railroads (such as Union Pacific), and Utilities (such as AT&T). There are four of each type, and each type has a peg board of a different primary color.

On your turn you may take one and only one action. An action is either buying or selling stock in one company. (You don’t have to sell all when you sell.)

When you buy stock in a company, you move its individual peg up one, two or three spaces depending on how many shares you buy. Likewise when you sell: you move the stock price down one, two, or three spaces.

After each action, draw a card and see what happens. Many of the cards refer to the stock just transacted: a split, or all players holding the stock collect a dividend, or are assessed a fine, or the company goes bankrupt, etc. (Yes, it’s as fierce as the dot.coms a few years ago: five of the twelve companies will be bankrupt by the game’s end!)

Other cards are general and refer to the whole board. Sometimes you roll dice which affect all industrials or railroads or utilities. In that case, you slide the whole peg board for that particular color up or down as necessary. There are dice in three colors with sides of +2, +4, +6, -2, -4, -6 on them.

I was always so excited when my stock would split…

Tactics II (1958) – Avalon Hill


The hobby of wargaming was born in the 1950s with the publication of the game Tactics. TACTICS II is a direct descendant of this original board wargame.

TACTICS II is sort of like military chess. Different pieces, called “units” in wargames, have different capabilities just like chess pieces. The major difference is that a player can move all his pieces each turn, and after all his pieces are moved, battles are resolved against the enemy units his pieces are next to (adjacent to).

The other major difference between wargames and chess is that wargames have a mapboard, divided into squares or hexagons for movement purposes. TACTICS II has a 22″ x 28″ mapboard portraying a fictional continent with two countries, Blue and Red. Terrain includes roads, rivers, woods, mountains, beaches, and cities. The Blue Capital can only be reached over a vast plain, bordered on the left by mountains and on the right by woods. The Red Capital is on an island and can only be reached across one of several bridges or by an amphibious invasion.

Game features include special functions for headquarters units, terrain effects, invasions, airborne assaults, weather effects, replacements, isolation, and even nuclear weapons. Units represent infantry, armor, mountain, airborne, headquarters, and amphibious troops. Over 100 counters in all.

TACTICS II was almost always part of the Avalon Hill game line, primarily because it was sold as an introductory wargame for a number of reasons. The rules introduced many basic board wargaming concepts and were relatively low in complexity. The rulebook is divided into a basic game and a tournament game (advanced game). Both are balanced and relatively quick playing. As the opposing armies are identical in size and composition, victory is gained by a combination of logic, foresight, luck, common sense, and skill in military strategy and tactics. (from

I’m astonished that I would play this game as a child… I don’t think I’d have the patience for it now.


I still have a copy of this game, and I love it.

Careers is a game where the players set their own victory conditions. A player may choose to pursue Fame, Happiness, Money, or a combination of all three. The limitation being that the total number of “points” earned in the 3 categories must total 60. eg. 60 Happiness, 0 Fame, 0 Money; 20 of each; or any other combination. The players endeavor to fulfill their goal by going through any number of different “occupation paths”. All paths have some prerequisite for entry, and benefits accrue from going through any of the paths more than once. The different occupations are designed to be suited to different strategies, eg. Hollywood is good for fame points, while “Going to Sea” is good for happiness. In the end it is the player (or team of players) who gets to their pre-set goal first who will be the winner, and achieve everything they ever wanted in life. (from


Game board


Score pad

The early versions of the game came with those lift-to-erase re-usable score pads, but those tended to wear out after a while as the wax backing dried out.

I loved the squares you could land on… “Breathless view of the Andes… 4 ♥ s“, or “Scandal… score 10 ★ s, but lose ALL your happiness.”

This game has been re-issued in updated editions, but as with all my favorite games, I prefer the older versions best.

Monopoly, with Stock Exchange Add-on

From Wikipedia:

The original Stock Exchange add-on was published by Capitol Novelty Co. of Rensselaer, New York in early 1936. It was marketed as an add-on for MonopolyFinance, or Easy Money games. Shortly after Capitol Novelty introduced Stock Exchange, Parker Brothers bought it from them then marketed their own, slightly redesigned, version as an add-on specifically for their “new” Monopoly game; the Parker Brothers version was available in June 1936. The Free Parking square is covered over by a new Stock Exchange space and the add-on included three Chance and three Community Chest cards directing the player to “Advance to Stock Exchange”. The Stock Exchange add-on was later redesigned and rereleased in 1992 under license by Chessex, this time including a larger number of new Chance and Community Chest cards. This version included ten new Chance cards (five “Advance to Stock Exchange” and five other related cards) and eleven new Community Chest cards (five “Advance to Stock Exchange” and six other related cards; the regular Community Chest card “From sale of stock you get $45” is removed from play when using these cards). Many of the original rules applied to this new version (in fact, one optional play choice allows for playing in the original form by only adding the “Advance to Stock Exchange” cards to each deck).

My cousin had the original Capitol Novelty version… I wonder if someone in the family still owns it, since it’s quite a rarity.


Add-on cover


Playing pieces


Free Parking becomes the Stock Exchange


Stock cards

This add-0n brought quite a bit of additional excitement to the game, and a way to generate significant cash above and beyond passing “Go.” As a result, my cousin and I would play games that would span days, breaking the bank, having to borrow money from the game of “Life”, allowing multiple hotels on properties, and generally turning the normally peaceful game of destroying your rivals into an absolute feeding frenzy  of wealth acquisition worthy of today’s Wall Street brokerage companies and scumbag banks like BoA.

There were other games we played as well, like Stratego (wooden pieces) and Blitzkrieg (again Avalon Hill), Candy Land (hated those black dots!),  Go to the Head of the Class, and Chutes and Ladders, but the ones I mentioned above were most frequently brought out and played.

The Old Wolf has spoken.