The Tomato: Fruit or Vegetable?

The glorious tomato is a bright star in the culinary universe. Think about the different possibilities that can be done with this versatile ingredient. From cream of tomato soup, an Italian sauce, a rich salsa from south of the border, or a BLT, the versatility list can go on forever.

However, the tomato conjures up one of the most perplexing conundrums, is it a fruit or a vegetable?

Surprisingly the tomato is both; it just depends upon who is going to answer the question.


Public Domain Image courtesy of Pixabay


From the legal viewpoint: The tomato is a vegetable. The Supreme Court of the U.S. declared it to be a vegetable on May 10, 1893. A decision was necessary because of U.S. tariff laws.

From a Scientific viewpoint: The tomato is a fruit. Botanists consider all plant life to be “vegetation.” However, they classify fruit as the edible ovaries of a plant. Certainly our friend the tomato clearly fits into their fruit definition.

From a culinary viewpoint: The tomato is a vegetable. It can be part of an appetizer, a soup, a side dish, or an entrée unto itself. However, a vegetable can never, ever be part of a dessert.

Is it any wonder that I despise the very existence of Carrot cake?

The final definition was the determining factor of the tomato’s legal status. Although scientifically a fruit, the government classified it as a vegetable because it was used and treated like one. So go ahead and enjoy your fresh, sweet tomatoes. Just don’t try to make tomato pudding and garnish it with chocolate syrup and whipped cream.

What’s your favorite way to enjoy a tomato?



2017: A Prolific Writing Year

Hopefully, 2017 will be my most active year as an indie author.

The first novel in my fantasy series, “The Tales of Tyrennia Book One: An Easterly Sojourn” will be (not should be) released this year. The editing is cruising along. The problem was continuous editing. We would get about seven chapters done, and then either the Queen or I would learn something new and start over again.



The reason we would jump into repetitive editing was simple. We were not satisfied with the end product. Therefore, after learning something new about editing, it seemed obvious to go back to square one.

I’m happy to report that I am satisfied with the quality. As we complete each chapter, I create a manuscript file. I can’t wait to print out copies and send them off to beta readers.

Draft version 0.5 of “The Tales of Tyrennia Book Two: The Frozen War” is done and waiting in the wings. I call it version 0.5 because of my scant writing style. A strange habit, but rather than cutting the first draft down, mine tend to swell.

What About Short Stories?

I’m so glad you asked. Two short singles will be released as well in 2017, “Little Red Revolution,” and “Psychic Confidence.”

“Little Red Revolution” is a best described as a satirical-vampyrical-romp. I had some compañeros from my former critique group who enjoyed #writing vampire fiction. So, I put this piece together mostly as gag and to poke some fun at the genre. In the end, they loved it.

“Psychic Confidence” should finish up at around five-thousand words. It’s a thriller with a complicated plot, coupled with characters that have aliases. I had worries that I could lose a reader too easily, but my first reader breezed through it without any problems.

There will also be a new collection of #shortstories called “Wondrous Stories: Seven Vile Uplifting Tales.” The stories are quite an assortment. However, there are some binding themes running throughout. Like, what happens when the iron fist of government points a finger at you? Or what happens when individualism clashes with a mob mentality?

Although I’m talking about a lot of work, I have a feeling that 2017 is going to be a very good year.

What are your goals, writing or otherwise for 2017? Are you #PoweredByIndie?




A New Short Story

Although it will not be ready for another month or two, I finished a new long short story last night. Right now it stacks up at 22 pages, but with my scant writing style, I can see it expanding to almost 30 pages.

The end came as a pleasant surprise. #NaNoWriMo ended almost a month ago, and I’ve been furiously editing my fantasy novel “An Easterly Sojourn.” For some reason, I got the #amwriting bug a few days ago and hammered out the last half of the new short. The first half had been floundering in stasis for over a year. Then in an instant, the rest of this very complicated plot flashed in my mind.


Public Domain Image Courtesy of Pixabay

I never told or discussed this story with my resident grammar nazi…editor…wife…um…The Queen. I felt that it would be important for her to read through it without any previous knowledge. Therefore, I’d know if the plot got too confusing, had glaring holes, or paths of least resistance were sufficiently blocked. Also, some characters have more than one name. I was somewhat worried about that as well. In the end, she read through it without confusion. Phew (*wipes brow), looks like I’ve managed to handle those potential baddies.

What will win in the end, love or greed? Well you’ll have to read it to find out. You didn’t really think I’d offer a spoiler at this moment, did you?

At first, this short story had the working title “The Psychic.” However, after numerous attempts to re-title, I’ve narrowed it down to two others, either “Psychic Games,” or “Psychic Confidence.” I’m leaning heavily toward the latter over the former.

Keep an eye out for a cover reveal in January

What have you written lately? DON’T GO – COMMENT BELOW!

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R.I.P. Greg Lake

Way back in the 1970’s, I put my first album by Emerson Lake & Palmer (ELP) on a turntable and was summarily hooked. It wasn’t long before my collection grew, as did my taste for bands with unusually long songs considered unfit for top 40’s radio. Only late night FM DJ’s would occasionally risk playing such material.


Photo by Jean Luc and used under CC License

The amazing Bass and Guitar playing by Greg Lake will be missed. Of course along with musicianship came his ability to write timeless classics. Gone are the days when I used to play passages over and over from an album, trying desperately to copy those notes on my guitar.

Emerson, Lake, & Palmer’s self-titled first album was a brazen and loud announcement to the world that rock music had evolved into a higher realm. I remember teaching a music appreciation class back when I was still with the NYC Department of Education. Naturally the textbook assigned mostly dealt with classical, folk, and jazz music. However, the last chapter did make mention of notables from rock. Of course, Emerson Lake & Palmer warranted a few paragraphs.

There are many ELP songs and full albums on You Tube. If you’re not familiar with their music, have a listen and try to understand the depth of our collective loss. Remember ELP was one of those classic rock progressive bands that didn’t just make songs; they made albums. And those albums explored particular musical themes and subject matter.

Thank you, Greg Lake for all of your creative energy, which not only entertained, but also amazed. You were more than a musician, composer, and lyricist. You were a pioneer who transported your fans into other realms.

DO GO – LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!  Tell me about your fond memories of Greg Lake.

P.S. I know all about Greg’s time and legacy with King Crimson as well. But for me, he’ll always be the “L” in ELP.

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My 50 Favorite Movies of the 00’s (Psst that’s 2000-2009)

Well fellow movie buffs, here ya go! This is the final installment of “My Favorite Films Listings,” until 2020 rolls around and I have another decade of film to make yet another list.

I’ve covered the 1930’s   1940’s   1950’s   1960’s   1970’s   1980’s  and 1990’s.

This list has more foreign films, and more women directors than any other movie list that I’ve compiled.

50.   The Chronicles of Narnia…d. Andrew Adamson (USA / UK)

49.   Hot Fuzz…d. Edgar Wright (UK)

48.   Bread and Tulips…d. Silvio Soldani (Italy)

47.   Bruce Almighty…d. Tom Shadyac

46.   Austin Powers in Goldmember…d. Jay Roach

45.   Avatar…d. James Cameron

44.   300…d. Zack Snyder

43.   Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind…d. Michael Gondry

42.   Donny Darko…d. Richard Kelly

41.   The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King…d. Peter Jackson (N.Z. / USA)


Public Domain Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Have you ever seen those you tube videos of an angry Hitler with the subtitles changed to seem like he’s talking about World of Warcraft or something? Well that clip is from #35 Downfall.

40.   American Psycho…d. Mary Harron

39.   Black Hawk Down…d. Ridley Scott

38.   Children of Men…d. Alfonso Cuarón (USA / UK / Japan)

37.   The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers…d. Peter Jackson (N.Z. / USA)

36.   Underworld…d. Len Wiseman

35.   Downfall…d. Oliver Hirschbiegel (Germany)

34.   Black Book…d. Paul Verhoeven (Netherlands / Ger. / UK / Belgium)

33.   Under the Tuscan Sun…d. Audrey Wells

32.   Hotel Rwanda…d. Terry George (UK / South Africa / Italy)

31.   Ella Enchanted…d. Tommy O’Haver

Not as many comedies as my other lists. I guess Mel Brooks really did retire.

 30.   Spy Game…d. Tony Scott

29.   13 Tzametti…d. Géla Babluani (France)

28.   Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones…d. George Lucas

27.   Little Miss Sunshine…d. Jonathon Dayton / Valerie Faris

26.   Á L’aventure…d. Jean-Claude Brisseau (France)

25.   Julie & Julia…d. Nora Ephron

24.   The Aviator…d. Martin Scorsese

23.   V for Vendetta…d. James McTeigue (USA / UK / Ger.)

22.   Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone…d. Chris Columbus (UK / USA)

21.   Open Range…d. Kevin Costner

Austin Powers is not the first time super spies like James Bond were spoofed. The “Flint” series from the 1960’s started that trend. Now the French have picked up on it with #11 OSS 117.

20.   Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon…d. Ang Lee (Taiwan)

19.   Enemy at the Gates…d. Jean-Jacques Annaud

18.   The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo…d. Niels Arden Oplev (Sweden / Denmark / Ger. / Norway)

17.   Pitch Black…d. David Twohy

16.   Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle…d. David Leiner

15.   The Prestige…d. Christopher Nolan

14.   The Gleaners and I…d. Agnès Varda (France)

13.   Love Actually…d. Richard Curtis (USA / UK / France)

12.   The Lives of Others…d. Florian Henckel Von Donnersmarck (Germany)

11.   OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies…d. Michel Hazanavicius (France)

I’m sure there will be blood in the comments concerning my top ten.

10.   Pan’s Labyrinth…d. Guillermo Del Toro (Spain)

09.   There Will Be Blood…d. Paul Thomas Anderson

08.   Schultze Gets the Blues…d. Michael Schorr (Germany)

07.   Amélie…d. Jean-Pierre Jeunet (France)

06.   Bend It Like Beckham…d. Gurinder Chadha (UK)

05.   Flame and Citron…d. Ole Christian Madsen (Denmark)

04.   The Lord of the Rings:Fellowship of the Ring d. Peter Jackson (N Z/USA)

03.   Gangs of New York…d. Martin Scorsese

02.   Lost in Translation…d. Sofia Coppolla

01.   The Passion of the Christ…d. Mel Gibson


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A Message to Any and All of My #WordPress Followers / Readers

I follow back anyone who follows my blog. However, I noticed lately that many blogs that used to appear regularly on my WordPress Reader or others that send an email notification of a new post have been silent.

Out of curiosity, I checked the insights tab on my stats page. To my surprise, many blogs that I follow were now unchecked.

I don’t know how or why, because I certainly didn’t do that.

I’ve gone through the list and visited the blogs in question and checked the “Follow Tab” or re-subscribed. Granted about five blogs were defunct, but there were about 6 pages of active blogs off my radar.

Hopefully we’ll be hearing and seeing each other soon.

My 50 Favorite Movies of the 1930’s

Society had made definite changes from the orderly Victorian era. Urbanization and industrialization had forever changed cultures and the landscape. New subject matter was on the horizon. From the child serial killer in “M”, man hunting in “The Most Dangerous Game”, and societal commentary in “Dead End”, “The Public Enemy”, and “Scarface”. Probably the darkest views of civilization came in the form of “Modern Times”, “Stagecoach”, and “Freaks”.


Public Domain Image Courtesy of Pixabay

50.  The Most Dangerous Game…d. Irving Pichel, Ernest B. Schoedsack

49.  The Lady Vanishes…d. Alfred Hitchcock (UK)

48.  The Dawn Patrol…d. William Goulding

47.  Mr. Smith Goes to Washington…d. Frank Capra

46.  M…d. Fritz Lang (Germany)

45.  King Kong…d. Merian C. Cooper

44.  The Man Who Knew Too Much…d. Alfred Hitchcock (UK)

43.  A Day at the Races…d. Sam Wood

42.  La Grande Illusion…d. Jean Renoir (France)

41.  The Thin Man…d. W.S. Van Dyke

However, this was also the era of the “screwball comedy,” best exemplified by the presence of the Marx Brothers, Laurel & Hardy, and other classics of that comic genre. Cary Grant & The Marx Brothers have four mentions each. Both have films in the top ten.

40.  The Little Princess…d. Walter Lang

39.  Animal Crackers…d. Victor Heerman

38.  Dead End…d. William Wyler

37.  Beau Geste…d. William Wellman

36.  Horse Feathers…d. Norman Z. McLeod

35.  Monkey Business…d. Norman Z. McLeod

34.  The Crusades…d. Cecil B. DeMille

33.  The Kennel Murder Case…d. Michael Curtiz

32.  The Story of Louis Pasteur…d. William Dieterle

31.  Anthony Adverse…d. Mervyn LeRoy & Michael Curtiz

Here’s a few clips for you. The Mirror scene from #7 Duck SoupThe battle on Lake Chudskoye from #9 Alexander Nevsky featuring a score from Prokofiev… “Gooble gobble, one of us!” from #28 Freaks. 

30.  The Devil’s Brother…d. Hal Roach & Charley Rogers

29.  La Règle du Jeu…d. Jean Renoir (France)

28.  Freaks…d. Tod Browning

27.  Little Women…d. George Cukor

26.  Jamaica Inn…d. Alfred Hitchcock (UK)

25.  Modern Times…d. Charles Chaplin

24.  Scarface…d. Howard Hawks

23.  Only Angels Have Wings…d. Howard Hawks

22.  The Mummy…d. Karl Freund

21.  The Public Enemy…d. William Wellman

A dim view of the future emerges in “Things to Come”. Perhaps this ignoble view was the basis of “The Mummy”, “King Kong”, and “Frankenstein”.

20.  Frankenstein…d. James Whale

19.  A Night at the Opera…d. Sam Wood

18.  Young Mr. Lincoln…d. John Ford

17.  Things to Come…d. William Cameron Menzies (UK)

16.  The Awful Truth…d. Leo McCarey

15.  Babes in Toyland…d. Gus Meins & Charley Rogers

14.  Gunga Din…d. George Stevens

13.  The Adventures of Robin Hood…d. Michael Curtiz

12.  The Wizard of Oz…d. Victor Fleming, George Cukor, Mervyn LeRoy, King Vidor, Norman Taurog

11.  Gone With the Wind…d. George Cukor, Victor Fleming, Sam Wood

Captain Blood (#6) was a surprise blockbuster hit. The studio brought the crew together again, splurged on color film and made (#13) The Adventures of Robin Hood.

10.  Le Jour se Leve…d. Marcel Carné (France)

09.  Alexander Nevsky…d. Sergei Eisenstein (USSR)

08.  The Good Earth…d. Sydney Franklin

07.  Duck Soup…d. Leo McCarey

06.  Captain Blood…d. Michael Curtiz

05.  Bringing Up Baby…d. Howard Hawks

04.  The 39 Steps…d. Alfred Hitchcock (UK)

03.  The Four Feathers…d. Zoltan Korda (UK)

02.  Topper…d. Norman Z. McLeod

01.  Stagecoach…d. John Ford

Stagecoach gave form to the modern western. It set the genre standards until the formula was challenged by Sergio Leone and Sam Peckinpah in the 1960’s.

How do my picks compare to yours? Interested in seeing some of them now?

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Meleagrisphobia: Why I Fear a Roast Turkey

Normally, I love turkey in all forms, from the deli counter to a whole bird roasting in an oven. I grew up with culinary master magicians, who could turn a bag of groceries into the most delectable Thanksgiving Dinner. You know what I mean, real mashed potatoes, stuffing from scratch, sweet potatoes, stuffed mushrooms, and so on. That was my former life.

These days, I’m forced to live with a new tradition. Thanksgiving means a day off from kitchen duty. No, we don’t go out to eat…I wish. It is because Thanksgiving is the one day of the year when my wife dons an apron and makes an attempt to cook a traditional dinner.


Public Domain Image Courtesy of Pixabay

My new holiday traditional dinner consists of Stove Top stuffing, instant mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce from a can, a boneless formed Turkey, canned yams, etc. I think you get the picture.

She can burn a pot of water!

The first time she cooked, I barely made it to the bathroom for a puking session reminiscent of a drinking binge which makes one “pray to the porcelain God.” At another time, I cut into a thick slice of turkey smothered with the perfect amount of gravy. I took that first succulent mouthful and almost spit it out. My darling-domestically-challenged-wife had accidentally purchased a Cajun spiced turkey.

Some things in the culinary world were made for each other like lamb and mint, hot dogs and mustard, bread and butter. So there we were with a horridly flavored hunk of turkey that had no mate on the table. Trust me, Cajun flavored turkey clashes with everything and anything on a traditional Thanksgiving table. Even that green bean casserole made with Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup didn’t stand a chance.

How can a grilled cheese sandwich have a bone in it?

Get ready, here comes Thanksgiving 2016! Yes that’s an exclamation point, and yes, I am excited.

This year, my wife has decided to go into training, like an Olympian going for the gold. She has developed a somewhat healthy curiosity about the culinary arts. She cuddled on the couch with me and watched a cooking show. Then, I caught her in the kitchen peeking inside the drawers. “Oh that’s where the spoons and forks come from.” Later, she browsed through the gadgets.

Another aspect of her rigorous training was an attempt at a meatloaf. She managed to transform two pounds of 93% lean ground range fed beef into an amorphous dark brown blob. The aroma wasn’t promising either. The most horrid moment came when I stuck a fork into the “meatloaf,” and I could swear it moved! Have you ever experienced that one?

I don’t think meatloaf is supposed to glow in the dark!

O.K. my initial excitement about Thanksgiving 2016 has dissipated back into dread. 😦

Tell me about your Thanksgiving Day. Doing anything special? Going someplace special? Got an unusual tradition? Got a good culinary horror story?

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My Favorite Films of the 1940’s

All of my favorite movies by decade lists always have 50 titles. Normally that amount of titles is an easy task except this one. The 1940’s was such an inventive golden age of cinema that I could’ve easily done 100 titles.

There are classics and some guilty pleasures thrown in here. As for this list, collaborating directors Powel & Pressburger loom large with three in the top ten. Howard Hawks and John Ford each have three mentions as well.

I’m sure there are ardent film buffs that are going to go apoplectic over placing Citizen Kane at #2. Also, those same critics might go ape over my opting for “The Time of Their Lives” over “Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein.” Most critics claim that the latter was their best work. However, I truly beg to differ. “The Time of Their Lives” is a much more comedic venue, with an interesting and creative story. For me, “The Time of Their Lives” represents Abbott & Costello at the top of their game.


Public Domain Image Courtesy of Pixabay

After WWII, some French film buffs noticed a darker world view and subject matter in American movies. They dubbed it “Film Noir.”

50. Sahara…d. Zoltan Korda

49. The Bells of St. Mary’s…d. Leo McCarey

48. Stray Dog…d. Akira Kurosawa

47. A Letter to Three Wives…d. Joseph L. Mankiewicz

46. And Then There Were None…d. René Clair

45. Going My Way…d. Leo McCarey

44. The Woman in Green…d. Roy William Neill

43. The Song of Bernadette…d. Henry King

42. Nightmare Alley…d. Edmund Goulding

41. Double Indemnity…d. Billy Wilder

There are quite a few films here for paranormal fans. The paranormal theme was used as a venue for horror, comedy, and drama.

40. Come to the Stable…d. Henry Koster

39. My Darling Clementine…d. John Ford

38. Angel on My Shoulder…d. Archibald Louis Mayo

37. She Wore a Yellow Ribbon…d. John Ford

36. On the Town…d. Stanley Donen & Gene Kelly

35. I Was a Male War Bride…d. Howard Hawks

34. Sergeant York…d. Howard Hawks

33. My Favorite Wife…d. Garson Kanin

32. I Married a Witch…d. René Clair

31. The Keys of the Kingdom…d. John M. Stahl

It was the decade of World War II, and therefore, war movies were a staple. Some of these films sum up the attitude, resolve, and plight of the greatest generation. The recreation of the raising of the flag in Sands of Iwo Jima stands as a great cinematic moment.

30. Topper Returns…d. Roy Del Ruth

29. Casablanca…d. Michael Curtiz

28. It’s a Wonderful Life…d. Frank Capra

27. Passport to Pimlico…d. Henry Cornelius (UK)

26. Sullivan’s Travels…d. Preston Sturges

25. Anchors Aweigh…d. George Sidney

24. Roma: Città Apertà…d. Roberto Rossellini (Italy)

23. His Girl Friday…d. Howard Hawks

22. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre…d. John Huston

21. The Best Years of Our Lives…d. William Wyler

Italian directors took their cameras into the streets and created what the French called “Cinéma Verité.” This style of bare-bones filmmaking would later become the standard for The French New Wave of the 1950’s and 1960’s.

20. The Time of Their Lives…d. Charles Barton

19. Laura…d. Otto Preminger

18. Miracle on 34th Street…d. George Seaton

17. The Uninvited…d. Lewis Allen

16. Twelve O’clock High…d. Henry King

Be sure to see my other listing of my favorite films from the 1950s 1960s  1970s  1980s  1990s

15. The Fountainhead…d. King Vidor

14. Sands of Iwo Jima…d. Allan Dwan

13. Santa Fe Trail…d. Michael Curtiz

12. Kind Hearts and Coronets…d. Robert Hamer

11. The Angel and the Bad Man…d. James Edward Grant

If the 1940’s belongs to any single actor, then this list grants that award to Cary Grant. Six of his films made it onto this list with three in the top ten.

10. Fantasia…d. Walt Disney & many others

09. I Ladroni della Bicicletta…d. Vittorio De Sica (Italy)

08. Mr. Blandings Builds his Dream House…d. H.C. Potter

07. The Bishop’s Wife…d. Henry Koster

06. Arsenic and Old Lace…d. Frank Capra

05. The Shop Around the Corner…d. Ernst Lubitsch

04. Black Narcissus…d. Powell & Pressburger (UK)

03. The Red Shoes…d. Powell & Pressburger (UK)

02. Citizen Kane…d. Orson Welles

01. A Matter of Life and Death…d. Powell & Pressburger (UK)   a.k.a. Stairway to Heaven (U.S. Title)

I remember back in the 1970’s, “A Matter of Life and Death” was advertised and listed as “Stairway to Heaven” when it played on TV. Currently, my DVD carries the original British title, and a recent showing on Turner Classic Movies did the same. However, on IMDB’s top box office list, they still use the U.S. title.

How does my list stack up against yours? Have you seen all of these movies? Are you interested in seeing some of them?

Not shy? Then leave a reply!

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A Week in the life of #NaNoWriMo 2016

Hello Peeps!

I know I should have posted earlier about a very busy 1st week of #NaNoWriMo2016. However, I picked up a particularly nasty bug that takes seven to ten days to run its course. This is the first time that I have been feeling well enough to tickle my keyboard.


Week one started on Oct. 30th for the Treasure Valley group. We had a kick off dinner at the Black Bear diner in #Boise. Quite a few wordsmiths turned out for some fun and writer’s talk…too bad there wasn’t any whiskey around.


I made it to a write-in at Barnes & Noble in Boise on Tuesday, Nov. 1. A fairly decent crowd once again. Big thankies to B&N and our coordinator Kelley Thibodeau for arranging those write-ins and the kick-off dinner.

The Mountain Home Writer’s Guild hosted a write-in at Common Ground Coffee on Sunday, Nov. 6th. I prepared a German luncheon. We offered assorted links with flavored sauerkraut, German tater salad (What’s taters precious?  J), a cool refreshing beet salad, and some homemade pretzels. We had six writers. I really expected more, but we all had an enjoyable afternoon.


I still managed over 2K for the week. Too bad I caught this flu and my word count sank to nothing.

Anyway, how was your first NaNo week? Do anything interesting? Meet any new authors? Did you host an event? Attend a write-in? How’s your writing and word count?

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