Thursday: Hili dialogue

Is August gone already? If that’s the case, then fall is on us, and if fall is on us, can winter be far behind? Yes, it’s September 1, 2016, 77 years to the day from when Germany invaded Poland in 1939, beginning World War II.  It’s also Random Acts of Kindness Day everywhere as well as Wattle Day in Australia, celebrated on the first day of Spring in the Southern hemisphere. Are any Aussies wearing wattle sprigs today? If you are, send a photo and I’ll put it up.  Here’s a woman buying Wattles for Wattle Day in Sydney in 1935.  (If you know the “wattle poem” from Monty Python’s famous “Philosophers at the University of Wallabaloo” sketch, please put it in the comments.


On this day in history, besides the invasion of Poland by Hitler, Louis XIV died in 1715 after reigning more than 72 years. On September 1, 1914, the last known passenger pigeon, Martha, died in the Cinncinnati Zoo, bringing a once-numerous species to extinction. Here’s Martha, stuffed and mounted:


Those born on this day include Art Pepper (1925; listen here for Saxaphone Paradise), Alan Dershowitz (1938), and Padma Lakshmi (1970 ♥). Those who died on this day include Sigfried Sassoon (1967), Albert Speer (1981), and, exactly one year ago, my friend Will Provine, a contrarian population geneticist who didn’t believe in genetic drift. But he was a nice guy.

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, we have an explanation from Malgorzata for the Hili Dialogue. Many is the time I hurt my feet on those stones when, barefoot, I went outside to either call Hili or fetch her from the windowsill!

Explanation first: There was a punishment in Poland, often meted out to disobedient children: they were forced to kneel for a long time on hard, dry peas scattered on a hard floor.

Hili: Did you ever kneel on peas?
A: No.
Hili: See? And I have to lie on stones.


In Polish:

Hili: Klęczałeś kiedyś na grochu?
Ja: Nie.
Hili: No widzisz, a ja muszę leżeć na kamieniach.


  1. rickflick
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    I’m listening to the Art Pepper and watching to see if Hili will move. She seems to be listening too.

  2. Joseph McClain
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 6:53 am | Permalink

    From memory:
    This is the Wattle
    The emblem of our land.
    You can stick it in a bottle,
    Or hold it in your hand.

    • Christopher
      Posted September 1, 2016 at 7:09 am | Permalink

      I did find some Australian beer (Baron’s, I think) a few years ago that was brewed with black wattle seeds. Is that what the poem meant by “you can stick it in a bottle”?

    • Posted September 1, 2016 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

      If my memory serves me correctly there’s also an “Amen!” at the end of it, though that might have been spoken by a different Bruce — I couldn’t tell. (I haven’t heard it since I was 8 years old in 1974.)

    • Lars
      Posted September 2, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

      As I recall, it ends with:

      “Australia! Australia!
      We love you!
      Too right”

  3. Steve Pollard
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    From the same episode (IIRC), here is the Bruces’ Philosophers’ Song:

  4. Ken Kukec
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Listening to that Art Pepper right now is of a piece with the talk the other day of Kerouac and Cassady and the other Subterraneans.

  5. George
    Posted September 1, 2016 at 7:47 am | Permalink

    Are you referring to:
    This here’s the wattle – the emblem of our land. You can stick it in a bottle or you can hold it in your hand.

    The script for the entire episode is here:

    Here is a story from the Telegraph about it:

  6. Posted September 1, 2016 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    I still remember from _The Bloodhound Gang_ (the show-within-a-show on _3-2-1 Contact, not the musical group): “Gone but not forgotten. 1914.”

  7. gravelinspector-Aidan
    Posted September 2, 2016 at 1:23 pm | Permalink

    on hard, dry peas scattered on a hard floor.
    Hili: Did you ever kneel on peas?

    Ow ow ow! Memories of a 600m hands-and-knees crawl where, like a bloody idiot, I’d given my knee-pads to one of the novices in the party. The pus was still running 2 months later, and my knee was giving me gyp with yesterday’s rain.

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