Sunday, January 09, 2005

The Charlie Chan Dictionary for Castle in the Desert

Today is dictionary day for Castle in the Desert, with history and science terms among our entries:

BORGIA FAMILY: Renaissance Italians who were ruthless in their ambition. Cesare Borgia's acknowleged father, Pope Alexander VI, appointed him (Cesare) Cardinal. Borgia was Machiavelli's model for his "Ideal Statesman" and employed Leonardo Da Vinci to invent war machines for him. Lucreza was Cesare's sister.

ALCHEMIST: One who was versed in the practice of alchemy.

APOTHECARY: A place that prepares and sells drugs and other medicines.

GIVES OUT (slang): Dispensing of information.
(Carl Detheridge: "Same old Charlie, he never gives out.")

INSOMNIAC: One who suffers from insomnia, the inability to sleep.

ISIS: The principal goddess worshipped by the Egyptians. She was regarded as the mother of Horus, and the sister and wife of Osiris. The Egyptians considered her as the goddess of fertility, and as the great benefactress of their country who instructed their ancestors in the art of agriculture.
(Madame Saturnia: "The finger of Isis has never touched this house.")

NIGHTSHADE: (1) Any of several plants of the genus solanum most of which have a poisonous juice.
(2) Any of various similar or related plants, such as belladonna.

RUBBER: (1) A serial of games of which two out of three or three out of five must be won to terminate the play.
(2) An odd game to break a tie.

SPANISH WAR (also "Spanish Revolution," "Spanish Civil War"): A war in Spain between 1936 And 1939. The fascists, led by Generalissimo Franco, eventually prevailed due to the military assistance provided by Germany.

TAGARA (Sanskrit): A slightly hairy, tufted herb with thick horizontal rootstocks that contains a sweet-smelling essential oil. Tagara (Indian valerian) is prescribed as a remedy for hysteria, hypocondria, nervous upset, and emotional troubles. The drug contains a group of iridoid or monoterpenic derivatives, known as tranquilizers and sedatives. An iridoid ester glycoside designated as valerosidatum (isovaleryl glucoyide) has also been isolated.

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