Bacon

The word “bacon” derives originally from the Old High German “bacho”, meaning “buttock”, which in turn derived from the Proto-Germanic “backoz”, meaning “back”. By the 14th century, it found its way into Old French as “bacun”, meaning “back meat”. And by the 16th century, it found its way into Middle English as “bacoun”, which referred to all cured pork, not just the back meat.

Bonus Facts:

The USDA defines “bacon” as “the cured belly of a swine carcass”… mmm swine carcass…

The phrase “bring home the bacon” has been around since the early 20th century and was initially used primarily by the working class, with bacon being a staple meat for that class.

The difference between bacon and salted pork or ham is primarily in the brine used. Brine for bacon often includes sodium nitrite, sodium nitrate, and saltpeter for curing the meat; sodium ascorbate for setting the color, as well as speeding up the curing process; and brown or maple sugar for flavor, among other ingredients. One of the principle differences is that brine for ham tends to have a much higher concentration of sugar.

American Bacon, or “streaky bacon” as the British call it, is generally cut from the fatty sides of a pig’s belly. Canadian Bacon, known as “back bacon” to the British, who apparently like to have their own names for everything bacon related, is made up of the tender loins located on the back of pigs.

In continental Europe, the part of the pig American Bacon is made from is typically sliced into cubes and used as a cooking ingredient due to its high fat and rich flavor.
Bacon actually is good for the brains of unborn children. Bacon contains a nutrient called choline which has been shown to boost the intelligence of people, if they got a lot of it before they were born. You can also get choline from eggs, liver, milk, chicken, and various nuts.

Records of bacon being made go all the way back to around 1500 B.C. in China. Bacon was also popular with the Greeks and Romans.

A 200 pound pig will yield close to 20 pounds of bacon, among other popular meat products.

The patron saint of bacon is Saint Anthony the abbot. He’s also the patron saint of swine herders, butchers, epilepsy, amputees, shingles, gravediggers, hermits, lost items, and Canas Brazil.

Pickles

Bill worked in a pickle factory. He had been employed there for a number of years when he came home one day to confess to his wife that he had a terrible compulsion. He had an urge to stick his penis into the pickle slicer. His wife suggested that he should see a sex therapist to talk about it, but Bill said he would be too embarrassed. He vowed to overcome the compulsion on his own.

One day a few weeks later, Bill came home and his wife could see at once that something was seriously wrong. “What’s wrong, Bill?” she asked.

“Do you remember that I told you how I had this tremendous urge to put my penis into the pickle slicer?”

“Oh, Bill, you didn’t!” she exclaimed.

“Yes, I did.” he replied.

“My God, Bill, what happened?”

“I got fired.”

“No, Bill. I mean, what happened with the pickle slicer?”

“Oh…she got fired too.”

World’s Most Beautiful Bookstores

Selexyz Bookstore in Masstricht, Holland is housed in a former Dominican church.

The coffee shop in the Selexyz Bookstore is located in the altar area of the old church that houses it.

Shakespeare and Company Antiquarian books located in Paris, France is probably the most photographed church in the world.

A view from inside Shakespeare and Company.

The Lello Bookstore in Porto, Portugal has been open since 1906, and is surely one of the most beautiful in the world.

Stained glass ceiling in Lello Bookstore.

Another view of the interior of the Lello Bookstore.

El Ateneo Bookstore in Buenas Aires, Argentina was once a theater, then a movie house, before becoming a beautiful bookstore.

Whelm: Over and Under

If you can overwhelm and underwhelm, can you also “whelm”?

Both overwhelm and underwhelm are common enough words, but they appear to imply the existence of a root word “whelm”. Does such a word exist and, if so, what does it mean?

The Oxford definition of overwhelm is as follows :
verb 1. submerge beneath a huge mass. 2. defeat completely; overpower. 3. have a strong emotional effect on. (ORIGIN from archaic whelm ‘engulf or submerge’, from Old English.)

As this makes clear, whelm is a word, but it is archaic and rarely used these days. It comes from the 14th century middle English, “whelven” or “helven”, from which we get the modern word, “helmet.” It means to cover completely, as to place an inverted bowl over the top of something, or to submerge or subsume with water. Therefore, whelm and overwhelm actually have more or less the same meaning, although overwhelm perhaps suggests a more intense degree of being engulfed, defeated, or covered.

But it’s as if overwhelm has taken over the job of its root word, making whelm redundant. These days, the original word is generally used only in poetic or deliberately archaic language. J. R. R. Tolkien, for example, used it in The Lord of the Rings.

The third sense of overwhelm listed above – “have a strong emotional effect on” – is a very recent development in the history of this word. And it’s from this that the opposite word “underwhelm” was coined. To underwhelm means, simply, to fail to impress or make a positive impact on, without any of the meanings to do with flooding, covering, or defeat. In other words, underwhelm evolved from overwhelm and not, curiously, from the rarely-used root word, “whelm,” at all.

John Mellencamp – “No Better Than This”

For decades, John Mellencamp has been a fact of life and a force of nature, having quietly used his celebrity status to help others. It is no wonder that folks around him are now talking politics, though he seemingly discounts it. He has just released his 25th CD, No Better Than This. It is a haunting affair, crafted with a rootsy vibe, an apt follow up to the earthy and heartfelt CD of 2008, Life Death Love and Freedom. For the latest, he wrote the 13 songs in a 13 day fever in 2009, during days off from the Baseball Stadium Tour with Willie Nelson and Bob Dylan. T Bone Burnett produced it, taking it on the road this time to three locations: at the historic First African Baptist Church in Savannah, GA, the legendary Sun Studio in Memphis, and the room where Delta blues legend Robert Johnson made his archetypal recordings in the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio. And we are talking seriously Lo-Fi, as the entire album was recorded mono to a single track 1955 Ampex Reel-to-Reel recording deck, and one vintage microphone.

Mellencamp, an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, is about to be acknowledged by the Americana Music Association in the category of Lifetime Achievement Songwriting at the Americana Honors and Awards Show coming up on September 9th, at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. He has been a vocal proponent for homelessness through 1Matters and for family farms with the ongoing Farm Aid, slated this year for October 2nd in Milwaukee, WI. John is an original Farm Aid board member, along with Willie Nelson and Neil Young, having organized and participated in these iconic concerts since their inception in 1985, though none of them expected that they would still be shining a light on this issue 25 years later.

Mellencamp, who is so closely tied to and associated with the State of Indiana, is held in high regard and much esteem by his fellow Hoosiers. Not just for being a native son who has done well, but for his tenacious grasp on his home state and its values to which he has held fast all these years. For being an eloquent spokesman and proper emissary for those of us who call ourselves Hoosiers and hold to progressive and humanitarian values.

To get ready for those upcoming events outlined above, and to celebrate the release of the new album, we bring you the title track from the new CD, “No Better Than This.”