Thursday: Hili dialogue

June 24, 2021 • 6:30 am

Welcome to Thursday, June 24, 2021. It’s National Praline Day, celebrating the only confection in the universe that I find too sweet. It’s also International Fairy Day, World UFO Day, National Handshake Day (not yet!), as well as, according to Wikipedia,  “St John’s Day and the second day of the Midsummer celebrations (although this is not the astronomical summer solstice, see June 20) and its related observances.”

Wine of the Day: Tonight is “T-Bone Night,” which calls for a substantial red. I chose this Australian shiraz (syrah) shown below, which ran me four sawbucks when I bought it some years ago—much pricier than I’m used to. (It’s now selling for $90 per bottle.) But hell, you can’t drink wine when you’re dead, so why not? Here’s Robert Parker’s review from five years ago:

Outer quote mark The 2013 Ironheart Shiraz is another total beauty from Yangarra. The perfume alone is enough to make you swoon! Laced with violets, molten chocolate, cherry liquor, lavender and exotic spices with subtle incense nuances, it’s one of those glasses that compels you to sniff again and again. The palate is very restrained and taut at this youthful stage, with firm, grainy tannins and a lively backbone framing the concentrated fruit, finishing long and minerally. Simply stunning. 96+ (LPB) Inner quote mark (8/2016)

I read that before I drank it, which is “problematic” because it might bias my review, especially conditioning me to smell what Parker smelled. I will finish most of this post (I write most of these the day before) and then cook my steak rare (with rice and fresh tomatoes), and check it out.

Okay, I drank it and it’s clearly improved since Parker’s review of five years ago. It’s still deep purple, gutsy, and complex, but the only adjective I’d proffer here is “cherry”. After all, it’s syrah, a grape with its own odor and flavor, and making comparisons as subtle as Parker’s is like asking a tyro like me to “describe the smell of a banana.” It is an excellent wine, with years to go. And it’s full of stuffing.

Would I pay $40 for it again? I doubt it, given that I can get decent Rhones for less and Riojas for even less. But I had to try a high-class Australian shiraz at least once.

News of the Day:

It’s June 23, more than six months after the Inauguration, and the Bidens have still not acquired a cat. And it’s a slow news day as well.

That makes the Democratic primary for the NYC mayor’s race the most interesting thing going. The candidate who’s in the lead is Eric Adams, the black president of the Borough of Brooklyn. He’s a centrist rather than a “progressive” (i.e., authoritarian) Democrat, and is backed by a coalition of black, Latino, union, and outside-Manhattan voters—classic Democratic voters rather than people with purple hair. If Adams wins, he’ll face Curtis Sliwa, the Republican candidate, in the November election. You may remember Sliwa as the founder of the Guardian Angels. Neither of AOC’s favored candidates are leading, which is fine with me since I don’t want New York City to turn into Portland, where crime is up 530% this year. And the Democratic winner will certainly become the mayor given that NYC is a Democratic town.

The first person sentenced in the January 6 Capitol siege, 49 year old Anna Morgan-Lloyd from Indiana, was convicted, but she plea-bargained and, after apologizing, was convicted of misdemeanor disorderly conduct and will serve no jail time. Are all the rioters going to get off this easy?

Inconsequential journalistic catfight: The Washington Post‘s media critic, Eric Wemple, takes a shot at New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet in a WaPo piece called “Dean Baquet keeps using the same cliché.” The cliché? Calling journalists, fired, departed, or under fire, “one of the finest journalists of his/her generation.” A quote:

New York Times Executive Editor Dean Baquet on Monday issued a defense of reporter Maggie Haberman after Fox News took note that she continued writing about Donald Trump. “Maggie Haberman is one of the finest journalists of her generation. She did outstanding work covering former President Donald Trump, breaking many of the most important stories involving his administration, and will continue to be one of our lead reporters on major political news in the coming years,” noted Baquet’s statement.

There’s an easy way out this predicament for Baquet: Just lay it on thicker. People expect a certain arrogance from the Times in any case, so indulge them. No need to confine Haberman’s greatness to a mere 25-year period; call her “among the greatest postwar chroniclers of governmental power.” Same idea with Hannah-Jones, “one of the best reporters modern America has seen.”

Fox News and others have gone after Maggie Haberman after she continued to write about Trump when she said she was done with the topic.  Baquet was defending her.

The Brussels Times reports, well, the headline says it all (click on screenshot; h/t: Ginger K):

Quote and a tweet;

Belgium’s love for gastronomic delights has leaked into its legal world after an update to the online version of the country’s official journal accidentally included a recipe for white asparagus gratin.

Discovered by lawyer Morgan Moller in the francophone version of Moniteur Belge – the country’s official gazette – the six-step recipe follows on from a paragraph discussing economic law. 

“I have had it with people who say that the Moniteur Belge is useless,” Moller wrote on Twitter. “You can find everything in there: laws, determinations, recipes, you name it.”

How it got there, well, your guess is as goood as mine. As I said, it’s a slow news day. Here’s the Belgian tweet:

From the New York Times: Joni Mitchell’s album “Blue” turned 50 on Tuesday, and many, including me, consider it her finest work (it was written and produced entirely by her, and released when she was just 27). There are only four other musicians on the album, including James Taylor and Stephen Stills, with studio great Russ Kunkel on the drums.

Look at these songs! My favorites are numbers 1,4, 6, 8, and 9. “Carey” especially resonate with me because it mentions Matala, a town in southern Crete where Mitchell lived during her musical Wanderjahr. In 1973 I visited the town just to see where she had stayed in 1969.

Here are the songs, every one superb:

Side one
No. Title Length
1. “All I Want” 3:34
2. “My Old Man” 3:34
3. Little Green 3:27
4. Carey 3:02
5. Blue 3:05
Side two
No. Title Length
6. California 3:51
7. This Flight Tonight 2:51
8. River 4:04
9. A Case of You 4:22
10. The Last Time I Saw Richard


In the article below, 25 musicians give their reasons for loving this album, and the piece is well worth reading. Some of the musicians: Stephen Stills, Graham Nash, Chaka Khan, Renée Fleming, Judy Collins, Graham Nash, Bonnie Raitt. . . .

Here’s James Taylor’s take (I’ve added links to the released versions of the songs he played on—the YouTube versions).

JAMES TAYLOR (musician) I played on four songs, “A Case of You,” “Carey,” “California” and “All I Want.” Those were songs that Joni had written while she was traveling the previous year, and she wrote most on an instrument called a three-string dulcimer, which is a very mobile and very simple instrument. But it left me a wide-open opportunity to pick whatever chords would work with the melody and her spare accompaniment on the dulcimer. That was great fun for me.

The engineer was Henry Lewy, an old colleague of Joni’s. He was the person on the other side of the glass, and if we were pitching, he was catching. His ear was really important, and he really had us keep it simple. Some of the songs had some percussion, but basically it was two or three instruments and Joni’s voice: very few elements clouding it up. It’s a minimal kind of accompaniment that you want, just to give you a sense of the song, harmonically, and then you can really focus on her voice and her attitude and all of those things that make this such a great Joni Mitchell album.

Finally, today’s reported Covid-19 death toll in the U.S. 602,562, an increase of 305 deaths over yesterday’s figure.  The reported world death toll is now 3,908,454, an increase of about 9,400 over yesterday’s total.

Stuff that happened on June 24 includes:

  • 1314 – First War of Scottish Independence: The Battle of Bannockburn concludes with a decisive victory by Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce.
  • 1374 – A sudden outbreak of St. John’s Dance causes people in the streets of Aachen, Germany, to experience hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapse from exhaustion.

The causes of dancing mania aren’t know; some implicate unwitting ingestion of psychedelics (ergotamine). Here’s a depiction from Wikipedia:

(From Wikipedia): Dancing mania on a pilgrimage to the church at Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, a 1642 engraving by Hendrick Hondius after a 1564 drawing by Pieter Brueghel the Elder.
  • 1509 – Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon are crowned King and Queen of England.
  • 1880 – First performance of O Canada at the Congrès national des Canadiens-Français. The song would later become the national anthem of Canada.
  • 1916 – Mary Pickford becomes the first female film star to sign a million-dollar contract.

Here’s a four-minute biography of Pickford, who won the second Best Actress Oscar awarded.

  • 1939 – Siam is renamed Thailand by Plaek Phibunsongkhram, the country’s third prime minister.
  • 1947 – Kenneth Arnold makes the first widely reported UFO sighting near Mount Rainier, Washington.
  • 1948 – Cold War: Start of the Berlin Blockade: The Soviet Union makes overland travel between West Germany and West Berlin impossible.
  • 1949 – The first television western, Hopalong Cassidy, starring William Boyd, is aired on NBC.
  • 1950 – Apartheid: In South Africa, the Group Areas Act is passed, formally segregating races.
  • 1995 – Rugby World Cup: South Africa defeats New Zealand and Nelson Mandela presents Francois Pienaar with the Webb Ellis Cup in an iconic post-apartheid moment.

Here’s the victory and the presentation of the cup by Mandela. The 1009 movie Invictus is a good version of the story.

Here’s Lonesome George, whose age was estimated at 101 or 102:

Notables born on this day include:

  • 1842 – Ambrose Bierce, American short story writer, essayist, and journalist (d. 1914)
  • 1937 – Anita Desai, Indian-American author and academic
  • 1942 – Mick Fleetwood, English-American drummer
  • 1987 – Lionel Messi, Argentinian footballer

Messi is the world’s best footballer, and perhaps the best who ever played the game. Here are some highlights from his career.

Those who “fell asleep” on June 24 include:

  • 1908 – Grover Cleveland, American lawyer and politician, 22nd and 24th President of the United States (b. 1837)
  • 1987 – Jackie Gleason, American actor, comedian, and producer (b. 1916)

Remember this?  Such threats would never be portrayed now on television.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is weary wi’ hunting and fain would be fed:

Hili: There is nothing here.
A: And what now?
Hili: I count on you to fill my bowls abundantly.
In Polish:
Hili: Tu nic nie ma.
Ja: I co teraz?
Hili: Liczę na to, że obficie napełnisz moje miseczki.
And here’s a cute picture of little Kulka taken by Paulina:

From Nicole, a cartoon from Mark Parisi:

From Bruce. I assume this rings true though I’ve never dealt with Comcast:

From Jesus of the Day:

From Ginger K. We may be past this now, but stay alert—and read the fine print on the poster:

Tweets from Matthew. First, a group of some unknown Japanese mustelid. Anybody know what they are?

Wally the Errant Walrus is still off course, apparently now in Scilly. But he looks to be in good shape! I fervently hope he finds a group of his fellow walruses (walri?).

Sadly, without a subscription you’re out of luck, as this interview is paywalled. Joni almost never gives interviews. But the NYT reactions to the album are free (see above). If anybody wants to send me the text, I’d be delighted to read it.

Imagine: an ancient mountain once moved locations at 100 mph!

Nature is both cool and cruel:

Despite the errant apostrophe, this is a very interesting observation. Does the algae get enough light there? I suppose it must, but why is it growing there?

A tweet with a comment from Dr. Cobb. This is heinous, and Matthew couldn’t grow one anyway, but who had this ridiculous idea. It’s not a beard or even facial hair: it’s a furry chinstrap!

33 thoughts on “Thursday: Hili dialogue

  1. Late news from Florida – a large building north of Miami fell down. They are looking for people now.

    1. Can you imagine what this album would sound like these days with Joni’s voice autotuned into anonymity? That’s why I rarely buy any new music, but spend my money on filling in gaps in the music of my youth with vinyl, and some of the re-issues are great!—for instance the re-mastered version of Blue produced by Steve Hoffman.
      As for an Australian shiraz at a reasonable price, some years of the Rosemount Shiraz have been very acceptable to my untrained palate.

  2. Don’t hold any of your Midsummer celebrations in Midsomer, lest you find yourself murdered by being poisoned by chocolates, mushrooms, or tropical frog toxins, stabbed with an 18th century pike, a bodkin, beheaded in a movie set guillotine or on a fairground ride with an antique sword, slashed with giant tailoring shears, electrocuted by a roulette wheel or an exercise bike, impaled on a tree near a cricket pitch or tied down, covered with truffle oil and mangled by a wild boar.

    1. Last night’s victims on ITV3 were bludgeoned to death with a wheel of cheese, garrotted with a cheese wire, stabbed with a cheese spike and trampled by a herd of dairy cows. Additionally, two people survived being poisoned in their tea.

  3. On Messi: It’s amazing to me (novice football fan) how he makes people miss him. They are checking him, trying to grab him, trying to just run with him and they can’t stop him. And he’s very fast. And the footwork. And the beautiful ways he makes the ball hop over people and loop and spin and curve in his goal shots. Wow.

    1. Messi is great but after the retirement of Xavi Hernández and Iniesta he has not won anything internationally with Barcelona. It needed three exceptional players to make an exceptional team; Messi alone is not enough.

    2. Yes, Lionel Messi is the greatest extant footballer (to me the GOAT is the late and underrated Johan Cruyff, who was not just outstanding in the field, but developed 2 football systems that changed the game: “Total Football” with Ajax and “Tiki-Taka” with Barca, at present there is no team not playing either one).
      The video, stressing Messi’s dribbling and long distance goal scoring prowess, does not really do justice to Messi. He is a much more complete footballer than that.
      What the 538 article does not even mention is his tenacity: when fouled he does not roll all over the place, like Robben or particularly Neymar, but fights to get the ball back.

    1. Yes, you are not mistaken. Mustela sibirica, Siberian weasel or Kolonok a very wide-spread species from Siberia and Manchuria to Korea, Northern Indochina and Himalayas up to Pakistan.
      “of least concern”.

  4. Regarding the New York Mayor’s race, although I don’t think Sliwa is likely to win, four of the last eleven mayors, and two of the last three, were Republican.

    On the aspects of fascism, I question some of them, like embrace of religion and disdain for intellectuals. The Nazis had a strong anti-religious wing, and the party position did ultimately swing against the churches once they failed to control them. As for intellectuals and the arts, Hitler and his cronies were well-known dilettantes. No one today, though, pays attention to artists like Arno Becker, or they white-wash the Nazism of people like Heidegger. I think, too, it’s a myth that corporate power was protected, although corporations and private property were not abolished. Otherwise, I would count eight of these to also be aspects of Soviet Communism, and certainly the Soviet Union’s embrace of the arts included the eliminations of scores of authors, poets, and musicians.

    1. I agree with what you say fascism and religion. The original and first fascist party was founded by Benito Mussolini who was an atheist. He later signed the agreements between Italy and the catholic church (Lateran Treaty) out of political opportunism.

      Umberto Eco listed 14 common features of what he called the eternal fascism, or ur-fascism:

  5. … the six-step recipe follows on from a paragraph discussing economic law.

    Not for nothing did Thomas Carlyle dub economics “the dismal science.” If you can liven things up with a recipe for asparagus gratin, I say “why not?”

  6. It’s also International Fairy Day, World UFO Day,

    Oh, that explains it!
    The UFOs we see (USAF pilots included) are the remaining few search parties following the wholesale evacuation of the Fairies.

  7. Minor Transatlantic Difference No 94: Sports Teams – Singular v Plural.

    Jerry writes that in 1995 ‘South Africa beats New Zealand’ – as would most Americans. Most Brits would say ‘beat’. On Saturday evening I am hoping to be able to say that Harlequins have beaten Exeter in the Rugby Premiership final. US rugby fans, if such there be, would presumably say ‘Harlequins has beaten…’ But that is not only un-British: it looks ungrammatical into the bargain! Vive la difference, I guess…

    1. No we would say Harlequins HAVE beaten, just as we would say The Blue Jays HAVE beaten but the Miami Heat HAS beaten.

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