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Vaughans Vocabulary A historic adventure...

November 16, 2010

Recently I heard National Public Radio’s Melissa Block’s interview with Maira Kalman, who set out on an adventure of painting and writing the story of U.S. democracy.
While ambling from the Jefferson Memorial to the Lincoln Memorial, the Tel Aviv born Kalman was captivated by scenes, particularly the reflection of the Jefferson Memorial in the Tidal Basin.
A park police officer stopped them twice to warn them that no interviews on federal property are allowed under the Code of Federal Regulations. The second time he was even more authoritative and said that he did not know if they were taping, but if he saw them taping again he would give them a citation.
Kalman pointed out that the founding fathers “studied Socrates and Spinoza, and read French philosophers and German philosophers and had an incredible curiosity about everything.” Kalman singled out Jefferson as the top in terms of genius. Her favorite, however, is Lincoln, and said, tongue in cheek, “Sorry Mary Todd Lincoln, but he would have been happy with me.”
So, after the plunge into our nation’s history, what has Kalman imbibed? In spite of the risk of getting arrested for participating in the interview, which left her with a bad taste in the mouth, she has learned that this is an extraordinary country.

1. brooding (BROO-ding)
A. pouting
B. preoccupied with depressing, morbid, or painful memories
C. cowering
D. presidential

“I like the brooding man – a brooding man with a sense of humor,” Kalman said of Lincoln.

2. raconteur (RAK-uhn-tur)
A. police officer on a bicycle
B. one who records
C. violator
D. someone good at telling stories and making them interesting

Kalman learned that Lincoln was a raconteur. D is the answer.

3. eccentric (ik-SIN-trick)
A. irregular
B. necessary
C. reflection
D. None of the above

4. Tel Aviv is in
A. Iran.
B. Israel.
C. Lebanon.
D. Crete.

Kalman said that she is not interested in the news unless it is eccentric information. No. 3 is A and No. 4 is B.
The first four letters in last week’s mystery word, which means an insatiable desire, are also the first four letters in the name of an evergreen tree whose seeds or beans are used to make chocolate. I give the accented syllable in cacoethes the “we” sound.
This week’s mystery word for you to solve has the first three letters as the first three letters in the name of the author of “The Echo of Greece.” You can use this adjective to describe someone who overacts, especially in theatricality.

Contact Don Vaughan at

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