Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Hump Day: Wednesday, October 12, 2016. That means it’s National Gumbo Day, and if you’ve never had a good cup or bowl of this Cajun delicacy—a thick seafood, chicken, and sausage stew/soup—your life is the poorer for it. I recommend either Dooky Chase’s or The Gumbo Shop, both in New Orleans.  It’s also Freethought Day, celebrated internationally, with the date chosen to mark the end of the Salem Witch Trials.



On this day in 1773, the first mental hospital in the U.S. opened: Eastern State Hospital in Williamsburg, Virginia. Although the original building has been restored and is now a museum, a hospital by that name is still operating in Williamsburg (the town where I went to college). In 1810, Germany held its first Oktoberfest to honor a royal wedding. And on October 12, 1979, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was published. I haven’t yet read it, but really want to.

Notables born this day include Robert Fitzgerald (1910), Dick Gregory (1932), Luciano Pavarotti (1935), and Kirk “Banana Boy” Cameron (1970). Those who died on this day include Edith Cavell (executed on October 12, 1915),  Sonja Henie (1969), and John Denver (1997). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili mourns the passing of summer and her ability to roam freely in good weather:

Hili: Just a few changes and there is no summer.
A: That’s right, you never know where it disappears.
In Polish:
Hili: Jak mało trzeba, żeby lato się skończyło.
Ja: To prawda, nigdy nie wiadomo gdzie ono znika.
Lagniappe: A tw**t found by Matthew Cobb:

And the inevitable Trump meme, in the form of an in-bread cat:



  1. Michael Finfer, MD
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 7:01 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the recommendations. This is well timed since I am going to be in New Orleans next month.

    The problem is that I have no tolerance at all for spicy foods. Things that other people think are not spicy put me under the table. How spicy is the cuisine there? I am concerned that I will have to eat at McDonald’s for the entire week.

    • Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:46 am | Permalink

      Cajun/Creole food isn’t all that spicy; that’s what the bottle of Tabasco on the table is for. Have breakfast at Mother’s, beignets and chicory coffee at the Morning Call along the river, a fancy meal at Galatoire’s, and, if you like oysters, get a dozen raw followed by the incomparable oyster po boy at Casamento’s. If you can get out to Mosca’s across the river, by all means do so, and try a great local joint like Jacques Imo’s. If you ask for “not spicy” food, you’ll be fine, but none of the above is spicy at all.

      If you eat at McDonald’s you’ll miss it all. New Orleans is the best eating city in the US in terms of the average quality of a meal you’ll get.

      Oh yeah, take the Carrollton streetcar line (an experience itself) past the Garden District and, when it turns right, get off at the Camellia Grill and have a cheeseburger and pecan pie. It’s the only diner I’ve ever eaten in where they have linen napkins and the waiters wear white jackets. The food is terrific.

      • Michael Finfer, MD
        Posted October 12, 2016 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for the recommendations. No raw seafood for me, though. I have had food poisoning three times now, and the first, truly miserable experience was related to raw seafood at a restaurant in New York.

        Nothing like a little salmonella between friends to turn you off to a food or a restaurant!

  2. Joseph McClain
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Jerry, when the Civil War broke out, your alma mater shipped a bunch of books and scientific instruments out to what was then called the Eastern Lunatic Asylum for safekeeping. It was a good move, as the Yankees occupied campus and a battle was fought right on the college grounds. The occupying Pennsylvania cavalry burned the Wren Building, probably by drunken accident. But the books and instruments survived including a fabulous, steampunk-looking electrostatic field generator displayed in the lobby of the physics building, Small Hall.

  3. somer
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 7:03 am | Permalink

    Speaking of the cat with pizza so it can’t be mistaken for something a candidate might want to grab – Huffpost may be biased but this is a hilarious spoof collage of him lurking during the Pres Candidate debate complete with horror movie music

  4. Christopher
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    Dooky Chase? Does that word, usually spelled “Dookie”, mean something different in New Orleans than it does elsewhere? Like on Green Day’s 2nd big album by the same name, or as with my son’s deceased and very missed d*g, Duke, aka “Dookie”, because he was a little sh!t. I’m sure the food is great, it’s just not a name I’d put on a restaurant.

    • Roux Brownwell
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      For a brief time, there was a hamburger place in Wichita KS called ‘The Dead Cow’. I dunno, maybe it was some sort of stealth performance piece/guerrilla action by a group of proselytizing vegetarians.

  5. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    “And on October 12, 1979, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was published. I haven’t yet read it, but really want to.”

    Time you did, Prof CC(E). Take a break from trying to digest the indigestible tomes of creationists and science-philistines and indulge yourself. I don’t know if DNA’s sense of whimsy will appeal to you, but if it does, you’ll ask yourself ‘What took me so long?’

    (It will also explain about 20% of the cryptic references your commenters make)


    • Posted October 12, 2016 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

      It will also work to counteract the theology he’s been reading, as it is sort of an antitheology work in some parts.

  6. Dominic
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    …& Columbus arrived in Guanahani in the Bahamas in 1492… there followed much woe.

    • Christopher
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 7:59 am | Permalink

      “They would make fine servants…. With fifty men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

      Classy fellow, this Columbus.

  7. darrelle
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 7:58 am | Permalink

    Love Gumbo. I haven’t made it in decades because I had a traumatic experience once.

    My early 20s, renting a house with a friend. The house was old and had some issues. Occasional issues with rats (at least one funny story there) and a chronic problem with cockroaches.

    When went fishing and scored a very nice haul of Mangrove Snapper, Sheephead and Red Drum. We decided to have a party, and I decided to make a huge pot of Gumbo. Cleaned fish, shopped for all the other ingredients and then spent all day creating a veritable Gumbo master piece. It was 99.9% done. The rice was cooked, bowls were set out and people were waiting to taste that which had been making them drool by its heavenly aroma for hours. All I needed to do was a bit of final re-seasoning.

    The event was so traumatic my mind has blocked out what spice it was that I sought to add a bit more of. The spices were in a cabinet directly over the stove. Directly over the giant pot of beautiful, gorgeous Gumbo. I opened the spice cabinet door and immediately two giant cockroaches, each about the size of my thumb, dropped directly down from the spice cabinet and splashed down right into the middle of my precious Gumbo. I literally cried out and my knees nearly buckled. I seriously contemplated fishing the bastards out and serving it anyway. But the word got out too quickly. Everyone knew.

    I haven’t made Gumbo since that day.

    • John Taylor
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 8:48 am | Permalink

      Wouldn’t have hurt anyone to serve it.

      • darrelle
        Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:50 am | Permalink

        I know. But people are people.

        But(2), some people don’t care. I was at a truly “hole in the wall” diner early one morning years ago with the charming name Ed’s Eats. My friend was nearly done with his plate when he paused and then asked the waitress to come over so he could show here the large, perfectly fried, spider that was in his hash browns. The waitress was mortified and offered to take the price of his breakfast off the ticket. My friend said, “Could I just get another breakfast?” He was very pleased to get two breakfasts for the price of one and polished the 2nd plate. I wasn’t very hungry anymore myself.

  8. darrelle
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 8:00 am | Permalink

    Pizza cat looks to be about a whisker away from freaking out. When my cat gets that look in her eyes be prepared to bleed a little if you are silly enough to reach out a hand towards her.

  9. Mike Cracraft
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    Also: English composer Ralph Vaughn Williams born on this day in 1872.

  10. Heather Hastie
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    As well as the brilliant Hitchhikers books, I recommend two others by Douglas Adams – ‘The Dirk Gently Holistic Detective Agency’ and its sequel, ‘The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul’. Both are as brilliant as his other books.

    Detective Dirk Gently (who I suspect gets his name from iconic British fiction detective George Gently) works on the principle that everything is interconnected. Therefore, his expenses when finding cats include tropical island holidays. He also does things like follow cars that look like they know where they’re going and other such methods. They’re hilarious.

    Anyway, I have them all Jerry, so you can borrow them while you’re in NZ if you want. They’re not too big and heavy for carrying around.

    • jaxkayaker
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 10:18 am | Permalink

      I agree with reading all of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker books and the Dirk Gently pair, but since time is limited, at least read the first two of the Hitchhiker series (Hitchhiker and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe) and the first Dirk Gently.

      • infiniteimprobabilit
        Posted October 12, 2016 at 5:45 pm | Permalink

        I’ve always thought the third of the five in the trilogy – Life The Universe and Everything – was the best. But I quite agree, read the first one (HHGG) first.

        And Dirk Gently is good, too.

        Trigger warning: Contains supernatural themes, spacial/temporal paradoxes, fictional deities, and fictitious species.

        (At least I hope they’re fictitious…)


  11. dabertini
    Posted October 12, 2016 at 9:04 am | Permalink

    I’d try my hand at gumbo, but don’t you need gumbo file? I have never seen gumbo file. Paella seems pretty similar.

    • Joseph McClain
      Posted October 12, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

      Filé is sassafras leaves and I’ve seen it in stores. I’ve always wanted to make my own, as sassafras trees are pretty common around my home.

  12. Posted October 12, 2016 at 1:35 pm | Permalink

    I bought jumbo once (frozen, admittedly) when I was in Pittsburgh and wanted to try out more American foods. Not bad, though I should try it fresh some day.

  13. Posted October 13, 2016 at 5:02 am | Permalink

    At the risk of scaring the poor kitty a second time I feel it should know that Trump eats pizza with a knife and fork!

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