Saturday, August 15, 2009

The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon

Tolkien's compositions are so wonderful simply because he is very successful in integrating widely known stories into his own creation. He applies from older stories with mastery and renders then with linguistic and storytelling acumen, then retells a story to the world that becomes entirely new. From Tolkien's preface to the poem, or song one can see the genius of invention. Frodo pays a visit to an inn called the Prancing Pony in Bree where he is asked to sing a song the guests haven't heard before:

    "For a moment Frodo stood gaping. Then in desperation he began a ridiculous song that Bilbo had been rather fond of (and indeed rather proud of, for he had made up the words himself). It was about an inn; and that is probably why it came into Frodo's mind just then. Here it is in full. Only a few words of it are now, as a rule, remembered."

The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon

There is an inn, a merry old inn
beneath an old grey hill,

And there they brew a beer so brown
That the Man in the Moon himself came down
one night to drink his fill.

The ostler has a tipsy cat

that plays a five-stringed fiddle;

And up and down he saws his bow
Now squeaking high, now purring low,
now sawing in the middle.

The landlord keeps a little dog

that is mighty fond of jokes;

When there's good cheer among the guests,
He cocks an ear at all the jests
and laughs until he chokes.

They also keep a hornéd cow

as proud as any queen;

But music turns her head like ale,
And makes her wave her tufted tail
and dance upon the green.

And O! the rows of silver dishes

and the store of silver spoons!

For Sunday there's a special pair,
And these they polish up with care
on Saturday afternoons.

The Man in the Moon was drinking deep,

and the cat began to wail;

A dish and a spoon on the table danced,
The cow in the garden madly pranced
and the little dog chased his tail.

The Man in the Moon took another mug,

and then rolled beneath his chair;

And there he dozed and dreamed of ale,
Till in the sky the stars were pale,
and dawn was in the air.

Then the ostler said to his tipsy cat:

'The white horses of the Moon,

They neigh and champ their silver bits;
But their master's been and drowned his wits,
and the Sun'll be rising soon!'

So the cat on the fiddle played hey-diddle-diddle,

a jig that would wake the dead:

He squeaked and sawed and quickened the tune,
While the landlord shook the Man in the Moon:
'It's after three!' he said.

They rolled the Man slowly up the hill

and bundled him into the Moon,

While his horses galloped up in rear,
And the cow came capering like a deer,
and a dish ran up with the spoon.

Now quicker the fiddle went deedle-dum-diddle;

the dog began to roar,

The cow and the horses stood on their heads;
The guests all bounded from their beds
and danced upon the floor.

With a ping and a pang the fiddle-strings broke!

the cow jumped over the Moon,

And the little dog laughed to see such fun,
And the Saturday dish went off at a run
with the silver Sunday spoon.

The round Moon rolled behind the hill,

as the Sun raised up her head.

She* hardly believed her fiery eyes;
For though it was day, to her surprise
they all went back to bed!

-- J.R.R. Tolkien

* Elves (and Hobbits) always refer to the Sun as She. {Tolkien's footnote}

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) was a British university professor. Born in South Africa he became a fantasy writer. Anglo-Saxon and medieval literature comprised the majority of his scholar work at the University of Oxford where he shared a sometimes turbulent friendship with another imaginative fiction writer, C.S. Lewis. Many of his works display this fund of knowledge and is evident in the epics he created about Middle-Earth, a fantasy world he wrote about in a children's book titled The Hobbit. Full of heart, soul, and imagination the adventure takes the hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, and his nephew into a world of dwarfs, elves, dragons, and wizards to save Middle Earth from the evil of the Dark Lord. Followed by a sequel trilogy entitled The Lord of he Rings (1954-55-- The Fellowship of the Ring: The Two Towers; The Return of the King), is a deeply imaginative story of the conflict between good and evil. The Silmarillion (1977), which presents the onset of the mythology of Middle Earth, and Unfinished Tales (1980), which have unincorporated stories, were edited and finished by Tolkien's son Christopher Tolkien.

Tolkien uses Bilbo's song as a way to explain why this peculiar nonsense rhyme exists today. It's a little more nonsense about the nonsensical Mother Goose rhyme Hey Diddle Diddle which just about everyone knows:

    Hey diddle diddle
    The cat and the fiddle
    The cow jumped more over the moon
    And the dish ran away with the spoon.
Hey diddle diddle and the man in the moon become two-dimensional and takes on a history. All of the characters have taken on an existence. Maybe, one can imagine, The Man in the Moon, has become bored with his majesty and lonely in his luminescent kingdom and decides to visit the world below. He gets less than he bargained for when he discovers the world below strange. The Man in the Moon is rather kindly but perhaps a little absent-mindedly drinks too much and soon falls asleep.

By modeling Tolkien uses the ancient styles of heavy alliteration and adds a discriminate smattering of Old English romance words. As a result of the construction the feeling becomes richer, more valuable in the readers eyes. Short nonsense rhymes that once were part of longer, more sensible poems and songs, frequently mnemonics were employed as a way to study the history of language and Tolkien realized the deep interweaving of meanings between language and legend and crafted this into artful storytelling.

Who exactly is the Man on the Moon? Lunar geography has long held its fanciful spell upon human fancy. Plutarch wrote a treatise on them, but there were myth makers before him. As the story from ancient times reaches us, the moon is inhabited by a man with a bundle of sticks on his back, who has been exiled there for hundreds of years, he is so far off that he is beyond the reach of death. Once visiting the earth, according to the nursery rhyme recalled by Catchpole below, and asked his way to Norwich. Dante names him Cain; Chaucer puts him up on the moon as a punishment for theft, adding a thorn-bush to carry; Shakespeare also loads him with the thorns and for compensation gives him a dog for a companion. In most cases his crime is said to have been, not larceny, but breaking the Sabbath, an idea derived from the Book of Numbers. Like the man mentioned in the Old Testament, he is discovered gathering sticks on the Sabbath; and, as an example to mankind, he is sentenced to stand for all time in the moon, with his bundle on his back.

After Tolkien's innovative technique of finding and applying legend and language in this manner, it became a tool for others to use new and different senses of the old stories and legends by creating histories, prehistories and mythologies. The composition date is unknown, however, The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon was originally published in 1923 in The Cat and the Fiddle: A Nursery Rhyme Undone and its Scandalous Secret Unlocked(Yorkshire Poetry, Leeds, vol. 2, no. 19, October-November 1923). Later, reprinted in The Return of the Shadow, a revised version was subsequently printed in The Lord of the Rings, Book One, Chapter 9 and then as The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon in The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and has even been set to music.

Tolkien started out in 1923 borrowing this idea from the well-known nursery rhyme then later used it as a way to explain to his what happened to his son Michale's favorite toy; a little metal dog lost on a beach in 1925. Michael and the toy had been inseparable. The family searched for a couple of days but never found it.

Tolkien comforted Michael by telling the story of how Roverandom was a real dog turned into a toy by a wizard, and then carried to the moon by a seagull. These stories eventually evolved into The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book made up of sixteen poems, three of which are about Tom Bombadil, one about a hobbit and a troll, two about the Man in the Moon, six called simply "adventures." Along the similar lines of endurance and escaping the disappearance of a beloved toy. Tom Bombadil was another toy belonging to Michael Tolkien. John, his brother, put the Dutch doll down a toilet. Tolkien rescues Bombadil for Michael through his Adventures of Tom Bombadil. Originally published in Oxford Magazine in 1934, Tolkien would later offer the idea that Bombadil's story could be expanded into a sequel to The Hobbit, but the editors didn't bite. Undeterred, Tolkien would have Tom makes his debut anyway in The Lord of the Rings.


Bram, Robert Philips, Norma H. Dicky, "Tolkien, J. R. R.," Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia , 1988.

Friske, John. Myths and Myth Makers, 1900.

J. R. R. Tolkien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book (Houghton Mifflin, 1963)

Picture Source

Public domain text taken from The Wondering Minstrels

Friday, August 14, 2009

Jew's harp

      "Woman is said to be like a Jew's Harp because she is nothing without a tongue and must be pressed to the lips. Then she is music for the soul."
      Hawk's Eye newspaper,Iowa, June 6, 1844

Pronounced jooz harp, possibly a corruption of "jaw's harp" a jew's harp is a musical instrument in which a small frame flanks a narrow, flexible tongue attached at one end to the frame. Names can be misleading, it's neither a harp nor does it refer to the Jewish people. The frame is held against the teeth near the free end of the instrument's tongue, which is set in vibration by various methods. The instrument's tongue produces only one tone; when the players change the shape of the mouth cavity, various harmonics or component tones, of this fundamental tone are made prominent. The harmonic series produced is the same as that of a trumpet.

The instrument has hundreds of names around the world. This particular moniker might be a mistranslation of a French word, 'jouer', which means 'to play'. In 15th and 16th century Britain, this instrument was called a 'Jew's Trump.' However, the ancient roots attest to the presence of this ingenuous little instrument in many cultures of the world. Although it's written heritage is scarce it has made a presence in many countries world wide and known by many names in just as many countries. England calls it a gewgaw while farther to the west in Germany it's called a maultrommel meaning mouth drum. It's known as a munnharpa or munnharpe in Norway while the French refer to it as a guimbarde Italians say scacciapensieri meaning, "to chase your thoughts or troubles away". In contemporary Spain it is called the 'trompa inglesa', meaning English trumpet, suggesting that it was imported. Many call it a vargan in Russia and Siberians have named the little instrument a khomuh. It's a koukin in Japan, In Bali it's a genggong and people from the Philippines call it a kumbing or kubing. Possessing a rich oral heritage, in New Guinea, it's a traditional ceremonial instrument played exclusively by men at religious events. Among certain Asian communities, it has been used to serenade loved ones; when left as a gift it might be considered a proposal of marriage. In Austria during the early 19th century, silver jaws harps or 'maultrommel' were said to be banned by authorities who thought they were instruments of seduction!

The etymology of the phrase is hard to decipher. Some understandably might think it's a slur but most experts discount that idea saying "there is no indication that the origin was connected with Judaism or the Jewish people." Instead they consider the word to be a corruption of some kind. Many speculate that it may have evolved from the word juice because of the drooling that often accompanies amateur performances. Others consider it to me a variant of several different words; jaw's, jeu, jeugd, gewgaw, giga, and gawe. Gordon Frazier, an editor for a magazine called PLUCK written for aficionados of the Jew's harp tells his readers:

    "In brief: The earliest known written citation of Jew's harp in 1595, in England. Prior to that it was called Jew's trump (earliest spelling: jewes trump). Before that it was known as trump in Scotland and northern England; the origin of the "jewes" preceder is obscure. However, there is no indication that the origin was connected with Judaism or the Jewish people. It probably came from some other word -- one possibility is the Old English word gewgaw - and was then, many years later, "fixed," resulting in the current form.

A player of the instrument is called a "jaw harpist." And there has been in the last decade a movement in the form of political correctness to change the name to jaws harp. Mr. Frazier has this to say:

    And even though aficionados of the Jew's harp are aware that in most of the world,--perhaps even most especially in Europe -- the instrument has been revered, not reviled, the fact remains that perceptions can be as important as fact.

    English is a fluid, flexible, and capricious language two decades ago 137 different types of Jew's harp were cataloged for the Musée de l'Homme in Paris. Their collection of instruments has been collected from all over the globe; from Norway to Thailand and Bali, Austria to Siberia. They are made of iron, brass, bamboo and ivory. Whether Jew's harp, trump, jawharp, or something else enters popular usage cannot really be dictated. Even if it could, changing language in the name of "correctness" seems a bit Orwellian.

The instrument has no specific repertoire and frequently the music consists of improvisations on well-known tunes to show off a performer's virtuosity. The Jew's Harp has been used to both heal the sick and induce trance. Dr. Franz Anton Mesmer a psychotherapist is said to have used the instrument therapeutically.

Jew's harps are found just about everywhere in Russia. Bamboo and wooden lamellate types are found in the Pacific, Southeast Asia and in China. The morchang of Rajasthan are manufactured by the blacksmiths and played by men who belong to the communities of snake charmers as well as by a few professional folk musicians. In Northern China the classical form of the Jew's Harp is an iron idioglot lamellate kind.

Circa 1350 India and Europe had onion-shaped, forged-iron frames that narrow to two protruding arms; a separate tongue is affixed to the frame. The player twangs the free end of the tongue with a finger. Clothespin-shaped jew's harps with the frame and tongue cut of the same piece of bamboo are found in the Pacific Islands. These are often sounded by jerking a cord attached to the instrument. In Southeast Asia jew's harps, are probably the oldest form, the narrow, rectangular frame of bamboo or, rarely, sheet metal completely surrounds the free end of the tongue, which is vibrated by plucking a tab on the flexible frame.

None have been found to exist in the Pre-Columbian era of the Americas and they appear in Africa after European trade routs were established. Colonization established it presence on the Australian continent as well. The most plentiful and oldest are made of bamboo. Here's a brief time line of the history of this little instrument:

  • 900 AD Iron Koukins - A thousand years old these were discovered in Japan in 1990. Because they were made of iron it is thought that the instruments were the belongings of powerful men as opposed to toys.
  • 1399 AD - Old frames are found in Germany. Determined to be the oldest known from Europe, a large number have excavated from earlier dates, some Anglo-Saxon and some Carolingian. Several are claimed to come from the Roman era, but there are those who dispute this.
  • 1500 AD - Jew's harps were a common peddler's goods.
  • 1511 AD to date - the issue of if the Jew's Harp is a chromatic or percussion instrument, still has not been settled. Most recently, Fredrick Crane and Ole Kai Ledang have classified the Jew's Harp as an aerophone. Arguing that full functioning of the instrument occurs only when a stream of air moves past its tongue.
  • 1593 AD - Documents show that on May 8, 1593, a Spanish exploratory party was involved in a transaction of 500 Jew's Harps with the natives of northeastern South America.
  • 1660 AD - On June 24th Parliament lists them among the products requiring an import rate in the colonies.
  • 1650 AD - In a letter to Richard Bentley, Horace Walpole penned,
      "This very morning I found that part of the purchase of Maryland from the savage proprietors (for we do not massacre, we are such good Christians as only to cheat) was a quantity of vermillion and a parcel of Jew's Harps!"
    The iron works at Saugus, Massachusetts, near Boston were manufacturing Jew's Harps as early as 1650.
  • 1677 AD - One land deed of 1677 lists 100 Jew's Harps among the items given as payment for a tract of Indian land.
  • 1700 AD - At the turn of the century, 10 gross of Jew's Harps are found in the inventory of three Dutch New York merchants. These instruments are also listed in Virginia Gazette advertisements during the middle of the 18th century.
  • 1745 AD - Jew's Harp House was one Lond farmhouse converted to a Resort and tavern with tea gardens, a pond and tropball, tennis, skittles. In 1811 it moved location and still operated as a tavern until at least 1827 when the building was destroyed during World War II.
  • 1765 AD - Around 1765, Austrian composer and organist and one of Beethoven's music teachers, Johann George Alberchtsberger, composed a number of concerti for the Jew's harp.
  • Seventeenth and eighteenth century archaeological research recovered Jew's harps from Maine to Florida. More than 120 were found at one site in Michigan alone. Conclusive evidence of the use of the Jew's Harp is by no means abundant, except for the fact that practically all of the Jew's Harps which have been archaeological finds have been in dis-repair, which means the tongues were broken and missing. Most of them were discovered down wells or among rubbish heaps meaning perhaps that they were played then thrown away when they broke. Evidence shows that the use of Jew's Harps as a barter item with the Indians continued till as late as 1815 and 1820.
  • 1850 AD - Until the 1850's, the Jew's Harp attained a remarkable prominence in the musical life of Western Europe.
  • 1890 AD - A great virtuoso Jew's Harpist, was Karl Eulenstein (1802-1890), died at 88 years old. He started violin lessons using his father's violin at eight years old. Musically gifted Karl practiced daily. When he reached the age for apprenticeship, he went from a bookbinder, to a merchant, and graduated as a baker but his first love was always music. While working for a merchant, he purchased his first jew's Harp practicing as much as he could during his spare time. During this time, he attended a concert by the Jew's harp virtuoso, Franz Koch (1761-1831) and the effect was powerful. Kunert, another Jaw harpist also greatly influenced him. Soon he began to compose his own variations to different songs and attempting to set up private concerts. Lacking finances, contacts and public playing experience, he was not successful until 1824 in Stuttgart, Germany he was a hit and soon became renown throughout Europe. Recognized as one of the finest players in London he performed for royalty. When he lost one of his front teeth and it was replaced with a false tooth, he was unable to play for sometime so he began to give guitar lessons making a substantial living for several years. He renewed his jew's harp concerts once more but continued to lose teeth and had to retire from it altogether.

Capable of spectacular punctuation and subtle variation it is an instrument with a long tradition. Made of bone, wood, or other organic materials they have been in use for thousands of years. Iron or steel trumps may date back to before Roman times. From Beat Magazine in December 1, 1999 comes a nice summary of its function and history:

    It is supposed that the lamellate variety is older in chronological terms...In Europe, bronze instruments from the Gallo-Roman period represent the oldest recorded discoveries, and because of their resemblance to modern Indian, Nepalese and Afghani designs, Curt Sachs proposed that the Asian type of bow-shaped Jew's harp was the direct descendant of the European. ... there is strong evidence to suggest that during the Middle Ages, the Jew's harp was not merely "an instrument among fools and beggars," as widely believed, with a late medieval painting of the Virgin and Child depicting three angels, one playing a Jew's harp, one a tromba marina, and one a nineteenth-century Austria, silver Jew's harps were a popular serenading instrument among eligible young bachelors. "So popular was the custom and so discreet and persuasive the sound of the guimbarde (maultrommel) that female virtue was endangered and instruments were repeatedly banned by the authorities," writes Anthony Baines ...the use of the instrument in courting practices has also been observed in places such as Siberia, China, Cambodian, Indonesia, the Philippines, New Zealand and New Guinea, with several traditions in existence that use the Jew's harp during actual conversation...

    In cultures such as those belonging to the Siberian and Mongolian peoples, the instrument has associations with shamanism...In the Malaysian rainforest, the Temiar possess a gengon (Jew's harp) ..(as) an art form exclusively reserved for men. "This mouthharp goes back to the origins of we forest people. We play it for entertainment, or if our hearts are lovesick, homesick, melancholy, then we make it better, as it was during peaceful times; we clear our hearts." the Bosavi rainforest of Papua New Guinea, the Kaluli people refer to their Jew's harp as uluna. ...measuring eighteen centimeteres and is constructed out of a single piece of bamboo, with its two long slits forming a tongue... men improvise alongside forest sounds, such as cicadas and birds to create the characteristic 'lift-up-over-sounding' aspect of Bosavi musical aesthetics.

    In striking contrast, on the Indonesian island of Bali...the Jew's harp has a place in the Gamelan Genggong. In (a) large musical setting for collective entertainment, the Jew's harps are essentially treated in the same manner as regular Gamelan instruments, with two groups of players performing in alternation, supporting the melodic line of the suling, and a third performing an interlocking pattern.

The musical possibilities can be increased by the use of additional tongues, giving additional tones, and in the early 19th century Germany, jew's harps were made with as many as 16 tongues. Although the it enjoyed a brief period of distinction as a concert instrument in the 18th and 19th centuries in Germany and Austria, it has been primarily used in folk music.

Today concerts and festivals featuring jaw harpists and the magical essence of this simple instrument are enjoyed around the world. There are double-tongued variants, for the ambidextrous players who wish to use two or more instruments and mechanical devices for clamping instruments together. Handcrafted from stainless steel and carefully tuned to standard pitch costs range between five and thirty dollars in the U. S. The shimmering tones of the instruments have become technically categorized as 'plucked idiophones' appearing more and more in electronic pop, avant-garde jazz in some parts of the world while other parts like Scandinavia enjoy a revival of folk music interwoven with contemporary styling.

Selected Sources:

History of the Jew's Harp

"Jew's Harp"

Jew's Harp

Jew's Harp

Picture Source

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Summery grilled chicken

Fair game and wild summer nights.

Since a number of my family suffer from high cholesterol my doctor asked me what I thought attributed to such good results for me. I think it's a combination of regular exercise and eating correctly. I prepare a lot of chicken and turkey for most of our main meals and limit red meat meals to no more than three times a week. This is one of my favorites.

Grandmother raised chickens and used her "egg money" to buy things for the house or clothing for her many children. She kept them in a hen house and we would wake up sometimes to the sound of Rowdy the yard dog barking and Grandma firing a shot gun in the air to scare off any number of wily and cunning foxes that dared venture in there. Then all the uncles and male cousins commenced to piling into the pick up and go fox hunting returning some times at the first breath of dawn. They never did get any foxes, but that never stopped them. For the most part Grandma's were free-range chickens.

What came first ...

The original home of the domestic fowl is in southwestern Asia. Charles Darwin originally thought they were descendants of a single species of wild red jungle fowl of Southeast Asia, particularly from Malaysia, but modern zoologists believe that several species of jungle fowl took part in the development of the domesticated chicken. The ancestors of Gallus gallus were mentioned in ancient documents from China as a "creature from the west' indicating that they had been introduced in that part of the world by 1400 BC. Babylonian carvings portray fowl carvings that date from around 600 BC and the early Greek writer Aristophanes wrote about them in 400 BC. Chickens were sacred among the Romans in relation to Mars, their god of war. In modern times poultry is the most important class of fowl and are distributed worldwide. In the US the trend for the last few decades has been towards specialization where some poultry raisers produce hatching eggs, other eggs for table use, and others for raising chickens to market as boilers.

Grandma's birds were a bit tougher than today's mass-produced chicken, but I liked the slight resistance, and the extraordinary flavor couldn't be more mouth-watering. For a little more money you can purchase free-range and enjoy the reward with better flavor. Buying a whole chicken and cutting it up yourself can save some money and is very easy. Sandy D'Amato of explains how:

    "Just carefully cut on each side of the back bone with a heavy knife to remove it. Then cut right between the breasts. Cut the leg and thigh portion from the breast for four large pieces. You'll pay usually double or even triple to buy a broken-down chicken, and it is not always cut properly."

Chilies, lime, cilantro and chicken heavy on the delicious

Ah, now that the chicken is selected and prepared the rest is easy. You will need three shallots and three cloves of garlic peeled and sliced thin. Some dark rum, about a quarter of a cup. Squeeze the juice from six or seven limes. Slice one up and set it aside for a nice garnish. Add a half a cup of white wine, a quarter of a cup of olive oil to the ingredients you are gathering. Here are some spices that go well in this marinade, two tablespoons ground cumin seed, a tablespoon ground fennel seed and two tablespoons medium to hot chili powder. Don't forget the paramount part! Fresh cilantro washed and coarsely chopped, and divided into two portions.

A marinade to die for

Place all of the ingredients except the chicken and the lime you set aside for the garnish in a large mixing bowl. Add the cut up chicken and one portion of the cilantro and toss it like a salad. Now you're ready to put it all in a large zip lock bag. Zip it shut and place in the fridge for at least 24 hours turning it every eight hours so it marinates evenly.

Playing with fire

The next day heat the grill to medium-hot. While you're waiting take the chicken out of the marinade and lightly season with salt and pepper. Grill each piece about fifteen minutes on each side. You'll know it's done when it looks crusty but not burnt. To make sure the meat is cooked all the way through use a meat thermometer. The breasts are done when it reads between 160 to 165 degrees. For the legs and thighs 170 to 175 degrees. Let the meat rest 10 minutes. Serve with cilantro sprigs and those limes slices for garnish.

Grilled Lime Chicken goes great with southwestern black beans, sharp cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses. Put out some chilled shredded lettuce, a nice fresh tomato salsa, some green onions and colorful crispy tortilla strips. For some real flavorful variety mix a tablespoon of the salsa with two tablespoons of Ranch dressing for drizzling or dipping and a nice pitcher of frozen margaritas.


Bram, Robert Philips, Norma H. Dicky, " Fowl", Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia , 1988.

Lime and cilantro chicken carries hint of Mexico

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Some call it the Ultimate Bad Candy. Here is a fond recollection of a first encounter with one of the world's most complete source of sodium:

    Time stopped.

    My tongue instantaneously wilted, and my eyes began to water. I made two feeble attempts to bite through the brittle, brine-encrusted outer layers before my survival instincts kicked in, causing my jaw to lock open and the (saladito) to involuntarily fall out of my mouth and down the drain, accompanied by a large volume of drool. While I was regaining conscience, Ben realized that it was his journalistic duty to also try (one). Before I could stop him, the fool popped a (saladito) in his mouth, and just as quickly, it popped back out.

    We have since "taste tested" saladitos on several of our friends and co-workers, and the results are consistent with our own experiences. We've yet the see anyone actually swallow a (saladito). Oh sure, many have tried. But all have failed. The legacy continues... you have been warned.

Ay corazon! Some people are weirded out by sweet and spicy. For those with a bolder side, saladitos are perfect for gettin' a snack on! We're lucky to live in a community that shares a great deal of cultural heritages. Saladito, meaning "little salty one," is a candy whose origins come from Mexico and are sold at the local Circle K and in most places here in the Southwestern United States. While some are just salted others are suspended in an amber colored candy, many times strawberry flavored, like a lollipop that is both sweet and spicy. Children stop by the Circle K and dig them out of large cookie jars kept on the counter, fetch a dime out of their pocket and enjoy them on their walk home from school. They're made from sweet plums that have been dried, salted, and sometimes coated with chili powder for a one of a kind taste adventure. Once you get started eating these, you'll want to stop but won't be able to, they're habit forming! In the local grocery stores they are sold in small plastic bags of about a half dozen of dried up brown giant raisin looking things.

Also called El Sabroso! or The Tasty One! They are never eaten whole as described on the scenario above. The flavor is supposed to be savored in the extreme and is technically a snack food imported from Mexico. Only for the brave they're delcioso in the summertime! Did I mention invigorating? It's understandable why they are so popular as a snack for replenishing lost salt in the body from the extreme desert heat. Sometimes a spicy volcanic glow is all that's needed for clearing the head and a quick cool down after a scorching hot day.

How to enjoy a saladito:

  1. Sleep late.
  2. Play a few games like la roa or policias y rateros.
  3. Don't drink anything that comes out of an air conditioner.
  4. Search for screaming banded geckos in the rocks.
  5. Look for jumping beans.
  6. Find a nice cool breeze under a neighbor's lemon tree.
  7. If you don't see any lemon trees an orange tree will do.
  8. Pick a fruit for you and your friend to share.
  9. Carefully cut it in half and squish a saladito down into the center of each half.
  10. Savor them by quickly licking the saladito in the center and across the fruit.
  11. Look for shapes in the clouds.
  12. Make up stories for about the weeping woman who drowned her children and searches the desert arroyos for them.
  13. Yoolia! ! Get home before dark avoiding the washes along the way.
The rich exotic salty and acidic flavors combines producing a fulfilling sensation of flavor. It's an acquired taste for sure and adults might enjoy them with a nice imported Mexican beer. It takes time to develop the taste buds required for enjoying this candy, so keep trying!

If you'd like to order some you can find them online at Rollin'Low: Truly delicious, saladitos are Mexico's great legacy, Hijole!



Tuesday, August 11, 2009


    Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do.
    Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.
    -From Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer,1876.

In addition to a single-barreled, water-cooled machine gun, that met its heyday around 1885 and named for inventor, U.S.-born British engineer Sir Hiram S. Maxim (1840-1916) a maxim is also a saying that is widely accepted on its own merits. The first use of the word was to describe a legal term in the form of a. "proposition (ostensibly) expressing a general rule of law, or of equity." It was an Anglo-Norman term spelled maxyme and can be first found in print in 1291. By 1426 it had been adopted by Middle French in the form of maxime with the feminine form being maximus meaning greatest. It would be a century and a half before acquired its present sense of a "a pithy expression of general truth.". A good synonym would be axiom or proverb; in literature it is known as a "greatest premise."

And look at that sap Percival who sits around mooning all the time. (Anne of Greene Gables)

As fall closed out the summer and school swung into session our neighbor had a sweet and delicate babe she named Lexi. She was a fiercely red headed girl, sprinkled generously with freckles and so I was over nearly every weekend to play with her. Her parents, Linda and Steve also had a seven year old son Derrick. He wasn't very interested in Lexi, but I was besotted with her ocean blue eyes and light delicate fingers. Soon I was bathing, feeding and diapering her like a pro. Summer rolled around again and the Fegan's decided to hire me as a babysitter. It was an elating offer for a young girl who was barely 12.

It was 10:30 PM and Lexi was already fast asleep. Derrick's parents said he had to be in bed by 11. Hearing a noise, the dog started barking. I turned on the porch light, opened the front door and just as I stepped onto the porch, Derrick, slammed the door and locked it. He rolled around on the floor laughing for about 15 minutes. Derrick even mooned me! All this for two bucks an hour! What had been a real delight was now frazzling work and this is what Mark Twain was getting at in Chapter Two of Tom Sawyer with his maxim of work being whatever one has to do and play being whatever one doesn't have to do.

Some day my boat will come in, and with my luck I'll be at the airport.

On a sunny summer morning Aunt Polly has assigned Tom to whitewash her fence. It's a tall order for such a clever boy and in a dark and hopeless moment inspiration strikes in a way that only Mark Twain can create:

    He took up his brush and went tranquilly to work. Ben Rogers hove in sight presently – the very boy, of all boys, whose ridicule he had been dreading. Ben's gait was the hop-skip-and-jump – proof enough that his heart was light and his anticipations high. He was eating an apple, and giving a long, melodious whoop, at intervals, followed by a deep-toned ding-dong-dong, ding-dong-dong, for he was personating a steamboat. As he drew near, he slackened speed, took the middle of the street, leaned far over to star-board and rounded to ponderously and with laborious pomp and circumstance – for he was personating the Big Missouri, and considered himself to be drawing nine feet of water. He was boat and captain and engine-bells combined, so he had to imagine himself standing on his own hurricane-deck giving the orders and executing them:

    "Stop her, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling!" The headway ran almost out, and he drew up slowly toward the sidewalk.

    "Ship up to back! Ting-a-ling-ling!" His arms straightened and stiffened down his sides.

    "Set her back on the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow! ch-chow-wow! Chow!" His right hand, meantime, describing stately circles – for it was representing a forty-foot wheel.

    "Let her go back on the labboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-ch-chow-chow!" The left hand began to describe circles.

    "Stop the stabboard! Ting-a-ling-ling! Stop the labboard! Come ahead on the stabboard! Stop her! Let your outside turn over slow! Ting-a-ling-ling! Chow-ow-ow! Get out that head-line! Lively now! Come – out with your spring-line – what're you about there! Take a turn round that stump with the bight of it! Stand by that stage, now – let her go! Done with the engines, sir! Ting-a-ling-ling! Sh't! s'h't! sh't!" (trying the gauge-cocks).

    Tom went on whitewashing – paid no attention to the steamboat. Ben stared a moment and then said: "Hi- yi ! You're up a stump, ain't you!"

    No answer. Tom surveyed his last touch with the eye of an artist, then he gave his brush another gentle sweep and surveyed the result, as before. Ben ranged up alongside of him. Tom's mouth watered for the apple, but he stuck to his work. Ben said:

    "Hello, old chap, you got to work, hey?"

    Tom wheeled suddenly and said:

    "Why, it's you, Ben! I warn't noticing."

    "Say – I'm going in a-swimming, I am. Don't you wish you could? But of course you'd druther work – wouldn't you? Course you would!"

    Tom contemplated the boy a bit, and said:

    "What do you call work?"

    "Why, ain't that work?"

    Tom resumed his whitewashing, and answered carelessly:

    "Well, maybe it is, and maybe it ain't. All I know, is, it suits Tom Sawyer."

    "Oh come, now, you don't mean to let on that you like it?"

    The brush continued to move.

    "Like it? Well, I don't see why I oughtn't to like it. Does a boy get a chance to whitewash a fence every day?"

    That put the thing in a new light. Ben stopped nibbling his apple. Tom swept his brush daintily back and forth – stepped back to note the effect – added a touch here and there – criticised the effect again – Ben watching every move and getting more and more interested, more and more absorbed. Presently he said:

    "Say, Tom, let me whitewash a little."

    Tom considered, was about to consent; but he altered his mind:

    "No – no – I reckon it wouldn't hardly do, Ben. You see, Aunt Polly's awful particular about this fence – right here on the street, you know – but if it was the back fence I wouldn't mind and she wouldn't. Yes, she's awful particular about this fence; it's got to be done very careful; I reckon there ain't one boy in a thousand, maybe two thousand, that can do it the way it's got to be done."

    "No – is that so? Oh come, now – lemme, just try. Only just a little – I'd let you, if you was me, Tom."

    "Ben, I'd like to, honest injun; but Aunt Polly – well, Jim wanted to do it, but she wouldn't let him; Sid wanted to do it, and she wouldn't let Sid. Now don't you see how I'm fixed? If you was to tackle this fence and anything was to happen to it – "

    "Oh, shucks, I'll be just as careful. Now lemme try. Say – I'll give you the core of my apple."

    "Well, here – No, Ben, now don't. I'm afeard ..."

    "I'll give you all of it!"

    Tom gave up the brush with reluctance in his face, but alacrity in his heart. And while the late steamer Big Missouri worked and sweated in the sun, the retired artist sat on a barrel in the shade close by, dangled his legs, munched his apple, and planned the slaughter of more innocents. There was no lack of material; boys happened along every little while; they came to jeer, but remained to whitewash. By the time Ben was fagged out, Tom had traded the next chance to Billy Fisher for a kite, in good repair; and when he played out, Johnny Miller bought in for a dead rat and a string to swing it with – and so on, and so on, hour after hour. And when the middle of the afternoon came, from being a poor poverty-stricken boy in the morning, Tom was literally rolling in wealth. He had besides the things before mentioned, twelve marbles, part of a jews-harp, a piece of blue bottle-glass to look through, a spool cannon, a key that wouldn't unlock anything, a fragment of chalk, a glass stopper of a decanter, a tin soldier, a couple of tadpoles, six fire-crackers, a kitten with only one eye, a brass door-knob, a dog-collar – but no dog – the handle of a knife, four pieces of orange-peel, and a dilapidated old window sash.

    He had had a nice, good, idle time all the while – plenty of company – and the fence had three coats of whitewash on it! If he hadn't run out of whitewash he would have bankrupted every boy in the village.

    Tom said to himself that it was not such a hollow world, after all. He had discovered a great law of human action, without knowing it – namely, that in order to make a man or a boy covet a thing, it is only necessary to make the thing difficult to attain. If he had been a great and wise philosopher, like the writer of this book, he would now have comprehended that Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do, and that Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do. And this would help him to understand why constructing artificial flowers or performing on a tread-mill is work, while rolling ten-pins or climbing Mont Blanc is only amusement. There are wealthy gentlemen in England who drive four-horse passenger-coaches twenty or thirty miles on a daily line, in the summer, because the privilege costs them considerable money; but if they were offered wages for the service, that would turn it into work and then they would resign.

    The boy mused awhile over the substantial change which had taken place in his worldly circumstances, and then wended toward headquarters to report.

I'm pretty sure Derrick had a bit of ole Tom Sawyer in him.


Online Etymology Dictionary
Accessed October 26, 2006.

Picture Source

Public domain text from:
University of Virginia Library.
Accessed October 26, 2006.

The OED Online:
Accessed October 26, 2006.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Essential Elements of Instruction

A creative teacher is one who has first acquired the necessary skills to practice the science of instruction and who continues to refine and supplement those skills in such a way as to capitalize on his/her own personal strengths, those unique qualities of the learners, and the individual features of the teaching-learning environment in which students and the teacher find themselves.

Author Unknown

The four major instructional skills essential to effective teaching were developed by Madeline Hunter and are based on research of human learning. Crucial to the belief is that teaching is a constant stream of decisions made by the teacher before, during and after instruction. Madeline Hunter, author of the Essential Elements of Instruction lesson plan model (1984) is one of the more popular translators of effectiveness research. Her model is much more detailed than previous ones, beginning with anticipatory set which draws the student into the lesson and ending the lesson with independent practice that is designed to reinforce new content.

Monitor the students and adjust the teaching
Or also known in the idiomatic world of teaching "Check and re-load".

Monitor by eliciting overt behavior from all the students. Overt behavior is the viewable manner of conducting oneself; demeanor, deportment. Check and interpret the overt behavior then act on the interpretation. Look and listen carefully to the students responses. Ask yourself if the student behavior truly matches the desired learning.

Adjust the teaching by making a decision based on the above then:

  • Reteach which simply means to give instruction again and again; to communicate knowledge anew.
  • Move on This intends that most of the students have got it and it's time to move on to the next lesson.
  • Practice Now it's time for the class to practice with the information they have received so that it will move into long term memory towards mastery of the skill or
  • Abandon the lesson This happens to all teachers and it is the wisest ones who can acknowledge this in the classroom; to put the lesson on the shelf, to rethink and present at another time with a new strategy. There are just those days when the students are too distracted, tired or the teacher just can't get the lesson across. For the most part this means woohoo!!! go to recess! or take a break and spend a little time doing another more pleasant activity such as games etc. Everyone, including teachers need some time to kick up their heels and spend some human quality time with their class.

Use the Principles of learning

The principles of learning are:

Active Participation a clinical phrase that can be interpreted "All of the students, all of the time." or the constant engagement of the minds of all learners with that which is to be learned. There are three forms of Active Participation

  • overt - the most powerful form of active participation. Students are demonstrating the level of their understanding and a teacher elicits this by using words such as - show, explain, tell me,write, draw, act out, demonstrate, and color as actions making it an observable event for both the student and teacher. As a result the teacher may learn that a key element in the lesson may have been missing and the student may suddenly have a moment of 'aha! so this is what it means.'
  • covert -This is an unobservable event for the teacher but provides application of the lesson for the student and is triggered by the teacher by using words such as -- think, listen, imagine, pretend, visualize, compare, remember, focus. It may be an internal learning event for the student.
  • combination- By combining both overt and covert participation a teacher can skillfully layer a lesson into the varies areas of thinking for the student as well as get feedback as to how successful the lesson was and where to pick up on the next lesson.

Anticipatory Set

    This gets the students ready for the lesson. I've provided one for you dear reader, an example of an anticipatory set, with the quote at the top of this write up . Aha! I have been sneaky in teaching you about the Essential Elements of Instruction and you didn't even know it! See what a good student you are! The anticipatory set is a mentalprocess where the student's mind seeks in the past information it has about the idea being encountered. It is a great way to start the lesson, a very pleasant way to get students prepared and makes learning more interesting for most. The elements of the anticipatory set are:
    • Going from the known to the unknown.
    • Drawing on prior knowledge and connecting it to the new information.
    • Must be congruent to the objective.
    • Must relate to the student's similar past experience.
    • Must involve the learner in active participation.

Motivation- Can either come from within, which means it's intrinsic or from outside influences, meaning the motivation is extrinsic. Motivation can be hard to create for some students, especially if they have learning difficulties, so this is an important craft for the teacher to hone in his or her teaching skills. But be aware of falling into the idea of thinking that the teacher is solely responsible for motivating the students. The students have their own responsibilities towards motivation and as a new teacher I was happily surprised to find most of my students possessed it innately. So try to take what the mass media hysterics with a grain of salt and remember their motivation is to sell newspapers!

    Motivation variables These are the attributes that make up what gets students interested in learning, they all concern the learner and are comprised of the anxiety/level of concern or the degree of expectancy that a student is feeling. These variables are *interest attributes, or things that occur in the lesson that are:

    • Vivid- stories, maps, colored chalk, outlines.
    • Related to past experience - By using things that include the students interests, motivation can often be elicited by the anticipatory set.
    • Novel- Things or ideas that include elements of mystery, arouses curiosity, games, and humor.
    • Feeling Tone- This is the feeling in the environment encountered by the learner~ it can be pleasant,unpleasant, and neutral.
    • Success- is an internal feeling of motion toward an achievable challenge which tells the student that learning is taking place.
    • Knowledge of results- is feedback. This is one of the most critical attributes and I cannot emphasis this enough, students get lost when the teacher fails to let the student know how well they are doing! It must be immediate and specific or you may end up wasting critical and precious teaching time reteaching a lesson that was poorly responded to and left the students hanging scratching their heads in confusion. This can lead to frustration for the teacher as well as the students and is unfortunately overlooked by too many teachers that I have encountered in my professional career. Feedback is not the time to start playing guessing games with students unless it is done in the spirit of fun as a novel way to motivate students during this part of the lesson.

      *Caution: interest attributes provide focus and they do not teach. Interest should not draw the students away from the lesson objective.

Closure is mental process occurring when the student's mind summarizes it's perception of what is being learned or as I tell myself Teacher close your mouth and let your students think! Oftentimes a teacher will confuse closure with Knowledge of results (see previous paragraph). Closure cannot occur until students get feedback. If they can't discern how well they understood what the teacher was trying to teach then closure will get off to a bad start in the students mind. It occurs at the end of any significant learning and there are many times where this intermittent closure can be usefully applied, as well as, at the end of a lesson. For the student it helps summarize and reinforces the learning by letting him or her know if they "got it", learning occurs faster, with better understanding, helps retention, and helps form a connection for application. And as any teacher knows application to a students life is a higher level thinking goal that is important to aim for.

Reinforcement- is the maintaining or increasing of behavior during a lesson and in the environment.

  • Positive reinforcement is the introduction of something wanted, needed, or desired either physically or psychologically. it may maintain or strengthen behavior.
  • Negative reinforcement is the introduction of something not wanted, taking away something good. It may suppress or alternate behavior, the results are unpredictable.
  • Extinction a total absence of response. Behavior may wither and die if not already an ingrained behavior.

Retention- has many variables and they are:

  • Understanding- and in the learning experience means the translation of ideas into action.
  • Practice- is just as it sounds a repeated correct performance by the student.
  • Modeling a demonstration- It is critical especially if it is new knowledge, that the demonstration be correct. The teacher models or shows the students in advance what is the hoped for objective.
  • Feeling Tone- The order of feeling tones set by the environment influences retention. Many studies have been done with regards to the classroom and how it may affect learning; even down to the color of paint on the wall and it effects. Tone is set by many factors, the most critical one is the teacher. The elements of feeling tone are: Pleasant, will add to memory, unpleasant, will add to the memory and neutral which is not related to memory.

Select the objective at the correct level of difficulty

To discover what the objective is it's essential to prepare a task analysis. To do so, a teacher makes a sequential list of all essential en route objectives that lead to the final objective. In other words it is a map so to speak as to how the lesson will get from where the students are at present onto the next step and all the intermittent steps that will have to occur in between. To get there one begins by:

  • Formulating the terminal objective. You have to know where your going in order to get there.
  • Clarify the objective In other words by the end of the lesson the students will be able to __________. and you the teacher, fill in the blanks.
  • Determine the essential components What parts of the lesson have to be presented to the students so that they can learn. Now is the time to come up with your anticipatory set but be flexible with yourself since the components often change during your task analysis.
  • Sequence the objectives- or on what order do you think it would make the best sense to present them in your lesson.
  • Restate the diagnostic objectives- Go back and look again at all of the objectives you have formulated. Stand back and look it over and see if they are still on track. Is there something that's there that might need eliminating because the student hasn't been prepared for that knowledge yet? or is there a missing link in the lesson that might throw it all off the track. ack! I hate when that happens, it throws a whole monkey wrench into my plans and the class ends up in a state of confusion.

Now it's time to create the

Plan- Ever wonder why the teacher in your family always presides over the family reunion? Well here is what they live for The Plan!. Feel sorry for me I have over 50 some odd teachers in my family! eek! and we have reunions every year... they have it down to a legacy now ...being passed on from one generation to the next! I had to become a teacher in self defence! ! ! No, only joking I have a most lovely and lovable family:) Planning includes:

  • Determining the topic, stating the objective and writing a task analysis.
  • Test- Ah yes, we have to have test our little subjects oops! students to see if we've been successful with the lesson or where to begin the lesson. If you're wondering why a teacher will start out the first day of the year with a test, well this may be what the teacher is trying to do, find a starting point for lessons with this particular group of learners. Look out!! if you get one of these kinds of instructors you're in for one of the best classes, you may well have a teacher who tailors teaching to the needs of the class. All experienced teachers know that from year to year classes will have distinctive personalities and it's the professional ones who acknowledge this and create accordingly. To test, a teacher will, design the diagnostic survey, administer the diagnostic survey, interpret the diagnostic survey, and cluster the learners. By being able to cluster types of learners it gives the teacher a way to effectively set up cooperative learning strategies in the classroom.

Teach Oh this is what it's all about!

Teach to an objective In teaching to an objective the four teacher actions are:

  • Provide information
  • Ask questions
  • Respond to the learners efforts
  • Design activities.

The teacher's actions must be congruent to the objective. Whew! All that work just to get to the teaching part! This is one reason why teaching is a calling more often than a profession. A teacher has to really love the act and art of teaching. It is a duty to the quest for that elusive and hallowed holy grail called the teachable momentand to teach most effectively one must plan the lesson, teach, the lesson, evaluate the lesson, and begin again !

Source: Heintz, Susie,"Essential Elements of Instruction." Tucson,Arizona
1991(Lecture presented at Flowing Wells Institute For Teacher Renewal and Growth.)

Picture Source

Sunday, August 09, 2009

All that glitters is not gold

The saying all that glitters is not gold means that simply because something may appear priceless, pleasing or pretty, it's no sign that without a doubt it will be worth having once its true nature has been discovered. In other words don't rely on the superficial. The proverb has been around a long time in a mixture of forms; akin to the Latin: Non omne quod nitet aurum est or 'Not all that shines is gold.'

Some experts think that it was Aesop and his fables written around 600 BCE that probablly inspired this idea with his two moral tales, The Hen and the Golden Eggs and The Miser. There is one version close to the current wording that appeared around 1175. The 12th century French theologian Alain de Lisle penned the proverbial phrase from Parabolae, a book of poems sometime around 1280 CE with"Non teneas aurum totum quod splendet ut aurum" meaning, "Do not hold everything as gold which shines like gold." Since then it has been around in a variety of forms. Around 1300 Freire Cordelier wrote "Que tout n'est pas or c'on voit luire" or "Everything is not gold that one sees shining." Near the end of the century Chaucer's Canterbury Tales translated the saying into English:

"But all thing which that schyneth as the gold
Ne is no gold, as I have herd it told."

And again:

"Hyt is not al golde that glareth."

John Lydgate circa 1430 wrote, "All is not golde that outward shewith bright" and by 1589 Edmund Spenser noted, "Gold all is not that doth golden seem." Both Barnabe Googe in 1563 and Shakespeare in 1596 used "All that glisters is not gold" in their verse and even though the original expression uses glisters is not gold," today many writers replace the archaic verb with the more readily understandable glitter since both allude to the same thing.

It was clearly Shakespeare who adapted the idea best about a showy article that is not necessarily valuable in play The Merchant of Venice. He cleverly incorporates the moral of the expression in the comedy/drama with Antonio the wealthy merchant and his lovelorn daughter Portia. The beautiful and wealthy young woman complains about the poor qualities of prospective husbands so a lottery is established to choose one for her. Antonio will pick her husband-to-be by way of three caskets, one gold, one silver and one lead. Any gentlemen callers are required to select one of the three caskets. The choice of casket determines his value to Portia; clearly this set up makes certain that only the right man for Portia will marry his daughter. The one who picks the casket with Portia's picture wins her hand in marriage. One of the suitors is the Prince of Morocco who is brought into a room to undergo the three casket challenge, reading the inscriptions on all of them:
Gold reads: "Who chooseth me shall gain what many men desire" (2.7.5).
The silver casket has, "Who chooseth me shall get as much as he deserves." (2.7.7).
Finally, the dull lead casket bears the inscription, "Who chooseth me must give and hazard all he hath." (2.7.9).

Portia informs the Prince that the right casket, or the one that will allow him to marry her, holds a small picture of her likeness. Reading over the inscriptions a second time, the Prince makes up his mind that lead is too menacing and not worth a risk of any kind. He also rejects the silver, which he feels is too simple a metal to hold such a striking woman as Portia. In the end the Prince chooses gold. Portia passes him the key, and he opens the casket to expose a golden skull that holds a scroll with a verse written on it:


The verse points out that he made his choice based on self-gratification; he has lost. The Prince leaves after a brief farewell. Portia watches him go, and comments,
"A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains, go.
Let all of his complexion choose me so" (2.7.78-79).

Later that same century Nathaniel Bacon was telling everyone that "All is not gold that glisters," and it was Miguel de Cervantes who put pen to paper and believed:

    "'Tis an old saying, the Devil lurks behind the cross. All is not gold that glitters. From the tail of the plough, Bamba was made King of Spain; and from his silks and riches was Rodrigo cast to be devoured by the snakes."
    --Don Quixote (1615)
The following year Thomas Middleton wrote in his quarto A Fair Quarrel. "All is not gold that glisteneth." It's reputation continued to grow with a variation from George Herbert's "All is not gold that glisters," composed around 1630; a few decades later in The Hind and the Panther (1687) John Dryden declared, "All, as they say, that glitters is not gold."

Hobbits and wizards and Sauron--oh, my! All that is gold does not glitter, said J.R.R. Tolkien about how some things that are attractive are not always what they seem to be with numerous novel references in his Bilbo Baggins' song:

Synonymous phrases are: Don't judge a book by its cover and appearances are deceptive. Some other bullion bearing phrases; good as gold; heart of gold; and worth one's weight in gold. Finally, did you know Led Zeppelin's untitled fourth album, generally known by a number of names, including Zoso and Led Zeppelin IV, was completed soon after J.R.R. Tolkien released his hobbit-filled trilogy? One notable referent to this expression about gilded illusions in Stairway to Heaven is, ''There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold". Many say this lyric among others were inspired by Tolkien's story.


Ammer, Christine,The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms, 1997.

Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, 1997 edition, Facts on File Inc

Merchant of Venice

The Phrase Finder

An acknowledgment and a note of thanks to viterbiSearcher's who quotes were incorporated to keep the etymological time line congruent.