Friday: Hili dialogue

March 17, 2023 • 8:30 am

Top o’ the morning to ye, lads and lasses: it’s St. Patrick’s Day on March 17, 2023, and another chilly gray day in Poland (just like Chicago). Yes, I know I’m late with Hili, but it will take a few days for things to get up to speed as I recover from my trip and jet lag.

You may start sending me tweets again, as well as news and readers’ wildlife. I’ll be going to Paris for nine days around April 10, so be warned (or be happy).

It’s “Eat Like the Irish” Day, with the scare quotes, and this time they are scary. Grania, who lived in Cork, used to tell me how horrible Irish cuisine was: every dish seemed to involve cabbage and potatoes. And sometimes there would be blood pudding (yes, I’ve tried it and didn’t like it).  Here’s colcannon, a typical Irish dish of mashed potatoes and cabbage. If you want to make it even more dire, you can substitute k*le for the cabbage.

In the meantime, there’s a Google Doodle for St. Patrick’s Day; when you click on it; all hell breaks loose:

And reader Karl adds this. I didn’t know there was a patron saint of cats!

Readers are welcome to mark notable events, births, or deaths on this by consulting the March 17 Wikipedia page.

Readers are welcome to tell me the news as well: I haven’t seen much for the past two days. Scanning the NYT, I see things are just as bad as ever, but at least Russia hasn’t defeated Ukraine. Here’s one news item from the NYT:

*After 23 years as the New York Times’s chief movie critic, A. O. Scott is changing jobs to become a critic at large for the book review. Here’s his farewell column as movie reviewer with some of his choices for notable columns.

A Life at the Movies, in Five Reviews

Of those 2,293 reviews I have published, here are five — positive, negative and ambivalent, in chronological order — that together capture something about the movies and my relationship to them over the past 23 years.

“The Gleaners and I” (Agnès Varda, 2000). From my first New York Film Festival, this was the first chance I had to write about one of the all-time greats, whose mischievous, humane spirit seems undimmed even after her death in 2019.

“Seven Pounds” (Gabriele Muccino, 2008). If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes and reviewed it with my own hands, I would have trouble believing that this midcareer Will Smith messiah movie actually exists.

“The Wolf of Wall Street” (Martin Scorsese, 2013). There may be no filmmaker who piques my ambivalence as regularly as Scorsese, and this review crystallizes both my admiration of and frustration with his work.

“Moonlight” (Barry Jenkins, 2016). One of my indelible memories is of the silence that descended on the room after the final shot of this movie — only Jenkins’s second feature! — at the Telluride Film Festival screening. It was as if we had simultaneously discovered a new planet and found our way back home.

“Joker” (Todd Phillips, 2019). Come at me, bro.

I’ve seen the last three.  They were okay, but I suppose Scott chose them to show his relationship to the movies, not because they were the best movies he’s seen.

Speaking of which, I saw several movies on the excruciating 10.5 hour flight from Warsaw to Chicago. It really wasn’t so bad, as they offere pierogi for dinner and, as interim snacks kept in the aft galley during the flight (remember, you can always go back there and get a nosh), they had packets of cashews and chocolate-covered gingerbread.

EO  A terribly sad film about a lovable donkey which won the Jury Prize at Cannes last year and was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the Oscars. It was SO sad that I don’t think I’ll ever watch it again, and I don’t say that with many movies.

Elvis. I watched it to see what the hype was about. A Baz Luhrmann film, it was a decent biopic, largely about Elvis’s manager Col. Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks. Well worth watching, and nominated for a few Oscars, but not a great film.

American Sniper.  I had never seen this film, directed by Clint Eastwood, in its entirety. It’s about the life of Chris Kyle, the military’s most effective sniper of all time, who served four tours of duty in the Middle East. Made in 2014, it was the highest-grossing film of the year. Eastwood’s films are always watchable, and this one had plenty of action, plus the advantage that most of it was true. Bradley Cooper did a terrific acting job as Kyle.

The Departed. This terrific movie, made in 2006 by director Martin Scorsese, is a tortuous thriller with an all-star cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson (playing a Whitey Buler-esque South Boston crime boss), Martin Sheen, and Vera Farmiga.  It’s about the attempt of the Boston police and the FBI to shut down crime in Southie, and the placing of moles within both the police and the mob.  All the performances are superb, and the movie won four Oscars (one for Best Picture and one for Best Director). If you haven’t seen it, you must.

The Lake House. I watched this 2006 movie for one reason: to see Sandra Bullock, with whom I’ve always been smitten. (Where has she been lately?). It’s a romance also starring Keanu Reeves and was based on an earlier Korean film.  It was slight, but of course if you’re smitten with Bullock, you can’t take your eyes off of her.  The plot: two lovers somehow write letters back and forth in time, separated by two years.  They finally meet and all is well. It was filmed in Chicago, and I swear that one of the scenes was filmed in the office where my dentist works.

Love and Other Drugs. I watched the last half of the 2010 film because I watched the first half on my way to Poland, knowing that we’d land before I finished it. It’s a “rom com” (I hate that phrase) starring Anne Hathway as a 26-year-old with early-onset Parkinson’s, and Jake Gylenhall as a Pfizer drug representative.  A slight movie, watchable but that’s about it.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Szaron are on the prowl.

Hili: Statistically, something may be over there.
Szaron: Here as well.
In Polish:
Hili: Statystycznie rzecz biorąc, tam może coś być.
Szaron: Tu też.

30 thoughts on “Friday: Hili dialogue

  1. On this day:
    1861 – The Kingdom of Italy is proclaimed.

    1942 – Holocaust: The first Jews from the Lvov Ghetto are gassed at the Belzec death camp in what is today eastern Poland.

    1948 – Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom sign the Treaty of Brussels, a precursor to the North Atlantic Treaty establishing NATO.

    1950 – Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley announce the creation of element 98, which they name “californium”.

    1958 – The United States launches the first solar-powered satellite, which is also the first satellite to achieve a long-term orbit.

    1960 – U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the National Security Council directive on the anti-Cuban covert action program that will ultimately lead to the Bay of Pigs Invasion.

    1968 – As a result of nerve gas testing by the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in Skull Valley, Utah, over 6,000 sheep are found dead.

    1969 – Golda Meir becomes the first female Prime Minister of Israel.

    1973 – The Pulitzer Prize-winning photograph Burst of Joy is taken, depicting a former prisoner of war being reunited with his family, which came to symbolize the end of United States involvement in the Vietnam War.

    1992 – Israeli Embassy attack in Buenos Aires: Car bomb attack kills 29 and injures 242.

    1992 – A referendum to end apartheid in South Africa is passed 68.7% to 31.2%.

    2003 – Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Robin Cook, resigns from the British Cabinet in disagreement with government plans for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    1846 – Kate Greenaway, English author and illustrator (d. 1901).

    1849 – Cornelia Clapp, American marine biologist (d. 1934).

    1880 – Lawrence Oates, English lieutenant and explorer (d. 1912).

    1919 – Nat King Cole, American singer, pianist, and television host (d. 1965).

    1930 – James Irwin, American colonel, pilot, and astronaut (d. 1991). [The eighth person to walk on the Moon and the first, and youngest, of those astronauts to die.]

    1933 – Penelope Lively, English author.

    1938 – Rudolf Nureyev, Russian-French dancer and choreographer (d. 1993).

    1939 – Robin Knox-Johnston, English sailor and first person to perform a single-handed non-stop circumnavigation of the globe.

    1942 – John Wayne Gacy, American serial killer and rapist (d. 1994).

    1944 – Pattie Boyd, English model, author, and photographer. [George Harrison and Eric Clapton both wrote songs for her.]

    1944 – John Sebastian, American singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1951 – Scott Gorham, American singer-songwriter and guitarist.

    1954 – Lesley-Anne Down, English actress.

    1975 – Justin Hawkins, English singer-songwriter.

    1979 – Stormy Daniels, American adult film actress. [In the news this week and shaping up to be Trump’s nemesis?]

    1997 – Katie Ledecky, American swimmer.

    Passed under sleep’s dark and silent gate:
    180 – Marcus Aurelius, Roman emperor (b. 121).

    1741 – Jean-Baptiste Rousseau, French poet and playwright (b. 1671).

    1782 – Daniel Bernoulli, Dutch-Swiss mathematician and physicist (b. 1700).

    1853 – Christian Doppler, Austrian physicist and mathematician (b. 1803).

    1994 – Charlotte Auerbach, German-Jewish Scottish folklorist, geneticist, and zoologist (b. 1899).

  2. Sandra Bullock’s latest move, “The Lost City,” is… enjoyable. Have you ever seen “The Net”? That still holds up all these years later.

    1. Yeah, I also am smitten with Sandra Bullock, so I enjoyed “The Lost City” as well. That leech scene was hilarious.

  3. From AO Scott’s film-critic valediction:

    It’s more that the behavior of these social media hordes represents an anti-democratic, anti-intellectual mind-set that is harmful to the cause of art and antithetical to the spirit of movies. Fan culture is rooted in conformity, obedience, group identity and mob behavior, and its rise mirrors and models the spread of intolerant, authoritarian, aggressive tendencies in our politics and our communal life.

    Amen, brother, amen.

  4. “The Lake House” sounds a BIT similar to the anime film “Kimi no Na Wa” (Your Name), written and directed by Shinkai Makoto. It’s NOT a slight movie, despite being an anime, and has a 98% Rotten Tomatoes score. The stakes in the latter are higher, and there’s not a simple happy ending, but it’s very moving and quite good.

  5. It looks like Hili really likes Szaron. Too bad she doesn’t like Kulka. But I guess it’s like people, some you just can’t stand even for no apparent reason.

    1. I’d guess that the underlying issue with Hili and Kulka is the age difference. Hili, an adult with a long established territory / Kulka, a kitten always looking for fun / trouble and just doesn’t know when to stop. Maybe as Kulka gets a bit older Hili will warm up to her?

  6. Old joke for Eat Like the Irish Day: What’s an Irish 7-course dinner? A baked potato and a 6-pack.

    My mother, who was part Irish, used to serve corned beef and cabbage on St Patrick’s Day. We never had it any other time. I always thought “Our ancestors came here to get away from this stuff.”

  7. Blood pudding – surely the French eat that & everything else in a cow/pig/horse that the anglophone world now turns its nose up at…? (that we too used to eat…)

  8. I’ve had Irish soda bread a couple times and liked it. Corned beef and cabbage, or “New England boiled dinner” I find very enjoyable. But that’s about as much Irish food I’ve tried. Yeah, have tried blood pudding and not a fan.

    Some news:
    I read in the NYT that hunger/poverty dropped bigly during the pandemic due to federal help. But now the SNAP program is being cut to post-pandemic levels while food prices have gone up 10%. Benighted states like Florida, Alabama and Idaho stopped the extra federal SNAP money over a year ago (why? I guess, “big gov’ment, bad, it can’t do anything”) and their hunger/poverty rates are especially bad. It’s strange how we know how to curtail hunger/poverty but we (I’m looking at you GOP) don’t want to. A state Senator in Minnesota, Steve Drazkowski (R) actually said he had “yet to meet a person in Minnesota that is hungry.” So he voted against a $400 million program to feed needy school children breakfast and lunch. When did cruelty become the GOP zeitgeist? Perhaps it’s just more blatant now that MAGA rules their world.

    1. On Irish food, it’s hard to not like Scotch Eggs or a nice plate of Bangers & Mash. Actually I’m pretty sure Scotch Eggs aren’t Irish, but for some reason they are on the menu of every Irish Pub I’ve ever been to in the US.

      If you like stews and or meat pies it’s hard to beat a good Guinness beef pie. Basically a beef stew slowly braised in Guinness, then turned into a pie. Or you can just eat the stew. It’s one of those things that is pretty easy to make and yet the result is disproportionately good.

      1. I’ve actually had a Guinness Shepherd’s pie that was outstanding. I’ve never had a Scotch egg, but they sound delicious…with those ingredients, what can go wrong? I’ve actually never seen one on a menu…maybe it’s more of an East coast thing. Then again, I haven’t been to a pub, Irish or otherwise, in quite a long time.

  9. Man! The stereotypical “Paddy” tropes on here, from original post to comments, are quite shocking. And ignorant. I wonder would such stereotyping of African-Americans or Jews be so blithe? I’m not one to “kvetch” about cultural appropriation so let’s all enjoy the day and parades but for the sake of Jebus give us a break on the hard-drinking, spud-eating, no cuisine, down-at-heel “Oirish”. Sheesh …

    1. Give me a break. All I said was that Irish cuisine is not very good, and I think that’s true. Jewish cuisine is also inferior to that of China, France, or India, but so what? As for the plethora of “Irish stereotypes” here, there are hardly any, and none that are pejorative.

      You’re our first Irish Pecksniff, but sadly you don’t have much meat to work with.

  10. Apparently Gertrude was historically invoked against rats and mice but her patron of cats status only dates from the 1980s. So it might just be recent nonsense, unlike Catholicism in general which is somewhat older.

  11. On movies, I went with the family last weekend to see Avatar at our local theater. I know this sort of movie doesn’t interest many serious movie buffs, but even so anyone that enjoys viewing beautiful imagery should give this movie try. It is one of the most visually stunning movies I’ve ever seen, perhaps the most. As such it should definitely be seen on a big screen and in 3D for full appreciation.

    Admittedly the story is formulaic, even cliché, but the visuals alone are worth the ticket price. I thought the first Avatar was also pretty amazing visually, but this one is on another level. They’ve (the movie makers) apparently spent a lot of time improving their capabilities since the first one, which read almost cartoonish at times. This one doesn’t read cartoonish at all. The Oscar for The Way of Water was well earned.

    A few nights ago I signed up for Hulu and watched the movie Prey. Pretty good movie, one of the better of the franchise. In some ways the best, if you tend to dislike blockbusters.

    Also recently watched a movie named Dough. It’s the story of a slightly grumpy, elderly, Jewish baker, played by Jonathan Pryce, trying to keep the bakery that has been in his family for generations from failing. The other main character is a somewhat troubled young Muslim immigrant from Africa who ends up becoming the baker’s apprentice. It’s not a big movie, has mediocre ratings at best, but I rather liked it. Pretty funny at times and probably my favorite role from Jonathan Price.

  12. I must be close to the only one who enjoys cabbage (kale, too) and potatoes and even corned beef but not if I were to eat it every day. CB is way too salty for me but I nibble on it once a year if given the chance, not a lot but some. Most of my CB was homemade by neighbors whom I used to visit to check on progress. Boiled dinners are OK too but not as a steady diet. If the Irish were eating mashed potatoes and spinach nearly every day, then I’d find it as boring as I suspect they did but I suspect for some it was what was available. How nice it is today to be able to try the food of other cultures for the first time and then on occasion.

  13. PS Potatoes & cabbage – yum! EVEN BETTER SPROUTS… Brassica oleracea – Diocletian supposedly grew them in retirement.

  14. Colcannon does sound dire, but it’s surprisingly delicious comfort food, especially with a big dab of butter melting on the top.

  15. I have no problem with a daily consumption of cabbage and mashed potatoes. I never peel potatoes, either, before cooking, which simplifies things and results in a healthier meal. I actually annoy my relatives with demands that potatoes should never be peeled.

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