Martin Hugh-Jones, professor emeritus in the College of the Coast & Environment (in LSU's Department of Environmental Sciences) is also a world-class adventurer:

Here's his contribution to our tales of dining on unusual critters:

"In 1960-61 I drove with friends in a long-wheelbase Land Rover from Tierra del Fuego to Fairbanks, Alaska.

"When we reached Colombia we sent the vehicle, with Mike, our photographer, round by sea to Panama, and Ben and I and two English boys we had met traversed on foot and by canoe the Darién rain forest.

"I was the cook. We lived on oatmeal, rice, and whatever we could find. Roasted unripe bananas are tasty. But for meat it was mainly cormorants and agoutis; parrots and macaws are great; I fed them a snake, which are easy to gut and skin; a woodpecker saved us one day when we could find nothing; but I’ll never ever eat another spider monkey."

"No problem" problem

Comments from readers about the degradation of our language have generated more mail than any subject we've discussed in a long time.

For instance, Mark Richterman, of Baton Rouge, says, "My hats off to Barry Ancelet (in the Saturday column) for teaching of abuse of the word 'like' in contemporary speech.

"My pet peeve is equally invasive among the younger generation, which seemingly includes nearly everybody. 'You’re welcome' in response to 'Thanks' or 'Thank you' has unfortunately become passé in today’s vernacular.

"In its stead, the majority of the population has taken to discounting this expression of appreciation with an invalidation: 'No problem.'

"Can 'no problem' be stated with sincerity? Or, as I perceive, does it negate and diminish the expression of appreciation from the giver?

"Maybe we should replace 'Thanks' with 'Problem,' or 'Problem very much!'

"Sending a 'Problem card' in response to a wedding gift or the like could make for an interesting interpretation: 'What could have been wrong with that toaster? Think it was, like, broken?'”

Aw, shucks!

Martin St. Romain, of Raceland, says recent mention of Plaucheville "reminded me of when I was 5 or 6 and would accompany my father on an occasional visit to his older sister, Bernadette Lemoine, in Plaucheville.

"During the weekend visits to their small home, I slept in a bed with two cousins. The mattress was stuffed with corn shucks."

Which reminds me

When my dad and his siblings would visit their mother outside Gloster, Mississippi, I would also sleep with my cousins, but our bed was stuffed with feathers; the softest bed I've ever been in.

Our bedroom was in the front room of the house, and on Saturday night the adults would gather on the front porch to listen to the Grand Ole Opry on a battery radio.

It was there I first heard Hank Williams, and even at that tender age knew I was listening to a musical genius.   

Special People Dept.

— Elodie Dunn, of Port Allen and Baton Rouge, now at Azalea Estates Assisted Living in Gonzales, celebrates her 99th birthday Monday, Nov. 2.

— Ray and Patricia Emmons, of Slidell, celebrated their 51st anniversary Saturday, Oct. 31.

Chilling tale

"Let me dust off an old appliance memory," says T-Bob Taylor, of Panama City Beach, Florida:

"All of my childhood was iced by a 'Frigidaire.' Many readers may remember the metal trays with metal pull-up handles!

"As a religious family, I must admit we heard 'Close the Frigidaire' as much as 'Amen.'

"Now all the big hardware stores are carrying a mini-model that is identical to our family friend! Do I dare say it is…cool?

(Thanks for the memory, T-Bob. When I was a kid, all refrigerators were Frigidaires; all vacuum cleaners were Hoovers; and all cameras were Kodaks, regardless of what brand was on them.)

Clean enough

Marsha R., of Baton Rouge, offers this quote from Rodney Brooks, inventor of the robot cleaner Roomba, in the documentary "Fast, Cheap and Out of Control:"

"The Roomba didn't have to clean as well as a person cleaned, because it was for the person who didn't clean at all."

Write Smiley at He can also be reached by mail at P.O. Box 588, Baton Rouge, LA 70821. Follow Smiley Anders on Twitter, @SmileyAndersAdv.