Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Szaron monologue)

May 12, 2020 • 6:45 am

Welcome to Tuesday, May 12, 2020, National Nutty Fudge Day (sounds like a holiday named after Jerry Lewis). Kudos to nurses on International Nurses’ Day (with the apostrophe properly placed), Odometer Day, and Limerick Day. I’ve written only one limerick in my life, and it’s a geeky one, addressed to a professor who thought that genetics was the be-all and end-all of evolution, and natural selection was trivial:

“The giraffe,” said the prof with great gall,
“Causes me no amazement at all.
“Why, the gene for the neck is repeated, by heck.
“And that’s why the damn thing’s so tall!”

News of the Day: Well, it could be worse, but there’s a lot of room for it to be better! States are starting to reopen businesses, but Anthony Fauci (in quarantine himself) will issue a stern warning about the consequences of reopening too soon. Likewise, Paul Krugman’s new column says that reopening the economy too early could plunge us into a depression.

Confirmed deaths from coronavirus in the U.S. are 81,491; in the world the toll is about 286,000.

Finally, I no longer have to wear my van Gogh turban, and my ear is healing nicely.

Stuff that happened on May 12 include:

  • 1846 – The Donner Party of pioneers departs Independence, Missouri for California, on what will become a year-long journey of hardship and cannibalism.
  • 1926 – The Italian-built airship Norge becomes the first vessel to fly over the North Pole. [JAC: Roald Amundsen was in charge.]

Here’s the Norge, which has the confirmed record as Admiral Byrd’s flight has been subject to doubt. And, just as Roald Amundsen got to the South Pole before Scott, he got to the North Pole when Byrd apparently didn’t.

  • 1932 – Ten weeks after his abduction, Charles Jr., the infant son of Charles Lindbergh, is found dead near Hopewell, New Jersey, just a few miles from the Lindberghs’ home.

It’s hard to imagine how big a story this was back then: Lindberg was a national hero and the nation hungry for any good news. The accused kidnapper, Bruno Hauptmann, was convicted and executed, though it’s still not clear whether he was the perp. Here’s a wanted poster from back then:

  • 1937 – The Duke and Duchess of York are crowned as King George VI and Queen Elizabeth of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Westminster Abbey.
  • 2002 – Former US President Jimmy Carter arrives in Cuba for a five-day visit with Fidel Castro, becoming the first President of the United States, in or out of office, to visit the island since Castro’s 1959 revolution.

Notables born on this day include:

Here’s Lear’s illustration for his famous whimsical poem The Owl and the Pussy-Cat:

. . . They dined on mince and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

A runcible spoon is what we call a “spork” these days.

  • 1828 – Dante Gabriel Rossetti, English poet and painter (d. 1882)
  • 1907 – Katharine Hepburn, American actress (d. 2003)

Hepburn won FOUR Oscars for “Best Actress”. Can you name any or all of the movies that brought her the awards? She was also nominated eight additional times but didn’t win. I think that’s a record for both, but can’t be arsed to look it up. Here’s a scene from her first Oscar-winning role:

  • 1918 – Julius Rosenberg, American spy (d. 1953)
  • 1925 – Yogi Berra, American baseball player, coach, and manager (d. 2015)
  • 1928 – Burt Bacharach, American singer-songwriter, pianist, and producer
  • 1948 – Steve Winwood, English singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist
  • 1966 – Deborah Kara Unger, Canadian actress

Finally, a great video of Winwood and Clapton playing “Crossroads” at the Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2007, accompanied by Derek Trucks and Doyle Bramhall.

Those who crossed the River Styx on May 12 include:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Andrzej wants a lusher lawn, though this one looks fine. The cherries could also use a bit more rain:

Hili: The grass is greener after rain.
A: But there’s still too little of it.
In Polish:
Hili: Po deszczu trawa jest zieleńsza.
Ja: Ciągle go za mało.
And a first—a Szaron monologue (written by his staff Paulina). Of course it’s all about noms.
Szaron:  And there is still too little in my bowl!
In Polish: Szaron: W miseczce też ciągle za mało!

Another good quarantine meme from Bruce Thiel:

From Jesus of the Day:

Another from Jesus of the Day. Free cats, too!

A tweet from Simon: Discretion is the better part of valor, especially with bushed up cats!

Two tweets from Heather Hastie. I love the cat winding around the chair back:


A rapping kittie, bored to tears:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a lovely encounter of the moose kind:

I’ve never seen a fly do this:


Matthew said, “Brian Cox retweeted this so it went mini-viral, with some people getting cross with me…”.  Oy, Twitter is toxic!

From erstwhile ISS commander Chris Hadfield. Looks like La Earhart is about to go diving:

53 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue (and Szaron monologue)

  1. J.E.B. Stuart was not an American general. He was a captain in the US Army when he turned traitor and joined the Confederacy. The defenders of slavery made him a general in their army.

    1. You make political “treason” sound bad. George Washington was not a general in the Army of his homeland. He was a wealthy landowner and retired colonel in the British Army (militia) when he turned traitor and joined the American Revolution. [Wikipedia says of Washington: “His disdain for the British military had begun when he was abashedly passed over for promotion into the Regular Army.”] The defenders of slavery made him a general in their army.
      Sorry, I couldn’t resist!

      1. Well it’s just speculation of course, but there’s no reason to believe that life for the inhabitants of what is called the USA in this reality would be worse if the Revolution had not happened or had been defeated.

    2. I think of J.E.B. Stuart as the Admiral Halsey of his era. He went missing for two days during the manoeuvres which led to the Battle of Gettysburg, depriving Lee of valuable reconnaissance.

      Admiral Halsey went missing during the US invasion of the Philippines during WW2, chasing Japanese aircraft carriers which had no planes, depriving the invasion fleet and the landing force of critical air cover. The Battle of Leyte Gulf ensued, and without air cover, the invasion came close to being a debacle.

  2. SCOTUS hears oral argument at 10:00 am Eastern today in the consolidated cases regarding whether Deutsche Bank and Donald Trump’s accounting firm can turn over his tax returns and other financial information pursuant to a pair of congressional subpoenas and a subpoena from a New York grand jury.

    NPR will be broadcasting the arguments live here.

    1. Thanks Ken. At around the same time hearings will be on in the Senate, tele-communicating I assume on the covid-19 affair.

      I don’t think the supremes have any choice on this one but I may be wrong.

      1. For anyone interested, who did not listen to the live feed, transcripts of oral arguments are posted at the Supreme Court’s website. So, this should be found at supremecourt.gov later today.

        1. I listened to a lot of it but by my untrained legal ear, I didn’t get any hint as to which way it will go. Sekulow’s 2-minute last word was pretty much an over-the-top claim that Trump is being harassed. I’ll be looking for commentary by the legal analysts soon.

    2. Also, Fauci will be giving his testimony at this time. These are two very big stories. If the Court backs Trump, another big nail will be hammered into the coffin of democracy.

    3. Beat me to it. SCOTUS will undoubtedly take a while before handing down their ruling on Trump’s tax returns but we should get the various analyst’s reading of the tea leaves after today’s testimony on the issue. It’s almost interesting enough to actually listen live but I think I will wait for the analysis. They have ruled against the sitting president in past similar cases but if they perceive that the interest in his taxes is purely partisan, who knows what they’ll rule. Then again, perhaps that won’t be the issue they discuss at all.

    1. OK, I know I’m going to anger a few people with this opinion (that always seems to be the way when it comes to Clapton, but I promise I don’t mean to offend anyone), but I do want to genuinely start a discussion about this here because the people on this website are generally smart, civil, and willing to explain their reasoning.

      So…I thought this video was pretty bad. I respect Clapton immensely as a pioneer in music and the electric guitar, but I feel like he’s one of the most overrated musicians in history when it comes to both technique and creativity. If I was making a top 50 list of guitarists where I’m considering the “full package,” I’m confident that I could come up with 50 players off the top of my head I consider better than him. He most definitely had his moments early in his career with Cream and Derek and the Dominoes, but he was ultimately surpassed quickly by the guitarists that came on the scene soon after he did, and by many from the 70’s through today.

      Please, don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love Cream, Derek and the Dominoes, and some of his early solo work (and his solo on While My Guitar Gently Weeps is beautiful), but I just don’t think he was one of the greatest guitar players of all time. People as diverse as Frank Zappa to Paco de Lucia to Alex Lifeson far outpace him in both creativity and technique.

      1. I do disagree when it comes to Clapton’s old stuff with Cream and Blind Faith. He loses me after that as his playing just has no edge to it. It’s as if he is consciously playing to maximize the size of his audience or, dare I say it, maximize profits.

      2. I agree, basically. He has clearly exceptional technical skill in many areas, but on most of his work I just don’t get any real feeling or nuance. Gilmour or Santana can make me feel more with one note than Clapton tends to produce with oodles of them. I don’t frankly find even WMGGW’s Clapton solo as evocative as most of George Harrison’s solos.

        I think his lead on Layla, however, is legitimately awesome.

        1. ” I don’t frankly find even WMGGW’s Clapton solo as evocative as most of George Harrison’s solos.”

          You know, I’ll agree with that as well. I think I probably see his solo on that song as simply iconic, which biases my opinion. If someone like David Gilmour played it, it probably would have been even better, as he’s definitely one of those people who can make you feel more with one note than Clapton can with an entire song’s worth. And Harrison’s playing throughout mid- to late-era Beatles is so beautiful that there’s a good chance the solo would have been at least as good, if not better, if he played it.

      3. I agree but it’s a joke video. Type “shreds” into youtube search and you’ll see what I mean. (Can’t stand “Cocaine”, which in my day everyone thought was cool for some reason. Sort of like like the Cheech & Chong records my friends would play and everyone would sit around laughing/snickering and I just wanted to get the hell our of there. And don’t get me started on “The Devil Went Down to Georgia”.)

        1. Yeah, I was genuinely going to ask if you were being sarcastic with the video, but I didn’t want to offend you if that wasn’t the case 🙂

          1. I keep forgetting that this particular “shred” video is so plausibly well done that it isn’t immediately obvious that it’s an overdub with bad playing haha.

            1. Well, one problem is that I started scrolling to read other comments once I pressed play, so I wasn’t actually watching the video. Thank goodness this is a joke video. I was genuinely worried that (1) Eric Clapton might have ever played that and (2) someone thought it was good 😀

              1. Haha 😀 thanks for being polite. By the way the part where the guitar with the heavy effects enters in “Badge” gives me chills every time. One of the great moments of rock ‘n roll. (Not being sarcastic this time.)

              2. When it comes to legendary intros from Cream, I give it to Tales of Brave Ulysses. The bass and guitar intro is freaking awesome!

              3. And, of course, I shouldn’t have left out Ginger Baker’s lovely cymbal work.

  3. The Giraffe’s neck is actually far too short – it has great difficulty getting its head down far enough to drink.

  4. The Colonel H. Norman Schwarzkopf referenced on the wanted poster is, in fact, the father of General Norman Schwarzkopf of Desert Storm fame.

  5. Hepburn won FOUR Oscars for “Best Actress”. Can you name any or all of the movies that brought her the awards?

    I’m pretty sure she won for On Golden Pond and Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner? (which I happened to watch a few months ago on TCM with my sister while I was back home visiting). As to the other, I’d guess maybe either The African Queen or Philadelphia Story?

        1. I can watch Peter O’Toole in just about anything. There is something that just shines in him. I do love The Lion in Winter, though I always find the last half hour or so to feel a bit bloated. It would have benefited from a bit of editing in my opinion.

          1. Does that include “The Ruling Class”? It affected me greatly when I was a teenager, what with it’s duelling Jesuses, Jack the Ripper, and its exploration of eccentricities vs. insanity.

    1. Morning Glory and The Lion in Winter in addition to Golden Pond and Guess.

      Bit of trivia – Jimmy Stewart, Humphrey Bogart and Henry Fonda each won only one Oscar for Best Actor. All won in movies where they co-starred with Hepburn. So maybe she won (or helped win) seven Oscars,

  6. I know this is kind of a morbid thing to joke about, but I let out a giggle when I saw that the Lindbergh baby poster listed his height and weight, as if someone was going to see him walking down the street and think, “there he is! That little man looks to be about 29 inches tall and 30 pounds!”

    1. I imagine that information was provided in the event that someone who saw the poster knew a family that had suddenly acquired a baby — could it be the missing Lindbergh child?

      The whole case is fascinating. The evidence against Bruno Hauptman was all circumstantial and it is quite likely that he was innocent, although he had been acquainted with the real kidnapper. Anti-furriner prejudice had a lot to do with it.

      1. Ah, fair point. I didn’t think of that.

        Yeah, I’ve read quite a bit about the case and, from the known facts, it seems like there’s a good chance that the wrong man was convicted. At the very least, it seems to me that the facts weren’t sufficient for a conviction.

  7. When I was an undergrad while on break I got together with three friends, jumped in a car and headed for Florida – to the Keys for some diving. This was about 1980 and we were in a Honda CVCC, so you can imagine what it was like with four college boys and all our SCUBA gear. Steve, the cars’ owner, assured us we had plenty of music for the trip; radio stations south of New Jersey only played both kinds of music, so we needed something on board.

    Steve lied. He only had one cassette (remember those?). It was Steve Winwood, Arc of a Diver. Somewhere in the Carolinas, while Steve was on a bio-break, we took that tape out of the player and drove over it about twenty times with the CVCC. That’s the last I heard of Steve Winwood.

  8. I wonder if the tweet with the cat video meant “athletic” rather than “alethic”. I can’t see how the latter adjective applies, but if there’s a joke or a deeper meaning in that choice of term, I’d love for someone to set me straight. [I suspect a typo, but I’m far from certain.]

    1. I’m reasonably certain it is a typo.

      The definition of “alethic” is: denoting modalities of truth, such as necessity, contingency, or impossibility.

      I certainly don’t intend to remember it long enough to attempt to work it into a conversation. Perhaps we can challenge our erudite host to make the effort. He definitely enjoys using five dollar words.

      1. I think you’re right, but I did entertain a minor, amusing (to me) fantasy that maybe the poster really did think this video somehow dealt with modalities of truth. If it were so, I would have liked to have heard the explanation.

  9. Interesting that world famous economist Paul Krugman thinks that opening the economy up too soon will cause a depression. He doesn’t think that with twenty percent unemployment and mile-long queues at food banks we already have a depression?

  10. As Jerry points out, today is International Nurses’ Day. The date was chosen because Florence Nightingale was born on 12 May – in fact, she’s 200 years old today!

    On ‘Thought for the Day’ on BBC Radio 4 this morning, the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, herself an ex-nurse, asserted that Nightingale’s work was ‘profoundly shaped by her Christian faith’. This is a lie. She has more accurately been described as a non-Christian theist, who rejected all rites, ceremonies and denominational claims.

  11. As Jerry points out, today is International Nurses’ Day. The date was chosen because Florence Nightingale was born on 12 May – in fact, she’s 200 years old today!

    On ‘Thought for the Day’ on BBC Radio 4 this morning, the Bishop of London, Sarah Mullally, herself an ex-nurse, asserted that Nightingale’s work was ‘profoundly shaped by her Christian faith’. This is a lie. She has more accurately been described as a non-Christian theist, who rejected all rites, ceremonies and denominational claims.

    1. Meant to add that it’s not often one gets to hear a senior bishop ‘Lying for Jesus’ in public. I hope people will remember this the next time she feels the need to pontificate.

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