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:
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) (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:
Ik heb het gehad met mensen die zeggen dat het Belgisch Staatsblad nutteloos is. Je vindt er alles : wetten, besluiten, recepten om te koken, noem maar op.
Eerlijk : in mijn juridische carriere deze hilariteit nog niet vaak tegengekomen. 😁 pic.twitter.com/VKR9rJOg6Z
— Morgan G. Moller (@morganmoller) May 28, 2021
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:
|1.||“All I Want”||3:34|
|2.||“My Old Man”||3:34|
|7.||“This Flight Tonight“||2:51|
|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:
- 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.
- 2010 – Julia Gillard assumes office as the first female Prime Minister of Australia.
- 2012 – Death of Lonesome George, the last known individual of Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii, a subspecies of the Galápagos tortoise
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.
- 2014 – Eli Wallach, American actor (b. 1915)
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.
Hili: Tu nic nie ma.Ja: I co teraz?Hili: Liczę na to, że obficie napełnisz moje miseczki.
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:
— Existential Dread Locks (@mcpasteface) June 20, 2021
Tweets from Matthew. First, a group of some unknown Japanese mustelid. Anybody know what they are?
— でみこ (@darudaru_carol) June 21, 2021
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?).
I love this clip – Wally getting comfy & settling down for a snooze – after a few days trying & failing to haul up on yachts and boats he seemed very pleased to find this spot! #wallythewalrus #scilly pic.twitter.com/oP0or3yIBm
— St Martin’s Ecologist (@GranthamEcology) June 21, 2021
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.
Joni Mitchell talks ‘Blue’ with Cameron Crowe in rare new interview https://t.co/pbeU6hlZ7w
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) June 20, 2021
Imagine: an ancient mountain once moved locations at 100 mph!
"The movement of the detached rocks must have been an astonishing event: an entire block the size of Rhode Island, so big that it could not be glimpsed in its entirety, rumbling and roaring and who knows what else as it slid and fragmented downslope…"https://t.co/8XM0gXLxln
— J Bennett (@SpecApe) June 22, 2021
Nature is both cool and cruel:
This is a photo of a Strepsiptera parasite female embedded in a Vespid wasp. This parasitic insect is giving birth to larvae that are emerging from the brood opening on her head.
Amazing animal, amazing photograph. https://t.co/70F8QSijFD
— Megan “Wasp Lady” Asche (@MCAsche) June 23, 2021
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?
Okay, this is bizarre. This bass had some filamentous algae growing from a wound near it's mouth!!! pic.twitter.com/aNUjZMdPTt
— Christopher Osborne (@Osborne2love) June 23, 2021
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!
— Matthew Cobb (@matthewcobb) June 23, 2021