Sunday: Hili dialogue

It’s December, a month that celebrates two odious holiday concoctions (National Fruit Cake Month and National Egg Nog Month), but the fourth, which is today, is also National Cookie Day. Sadly, I have not a cookie on hand—only White Cheddar Cheez-Its (a delicious and underrated snack). And it’s Navy Day in India.

It’s a big day of the year for Chicago, for on December 4, 1674, missionary Jacques Marquette founded a mission on the shore of Lake Michigan to convert members of the Illinois Confederation of Native Americans. That mission later became the nucleus of the city of Chicago. (Marquette also founded Sault St. Marie.) On this day in 1909, the Montreal Canadiens, now the oldest surviving hockey team in the world, became part of the nascent National Hockey League. And on December 4, 1945, the United States joined the United Nations, an organization that seems increasingly irrelevant, mired in squabbling and inaction. Finally, on this day in 1954 the first Burger King opened in Miami.

Notables born on December 4 include Samuel Butler (1835), Wassily Kandinsky (1866; I place him on my list of the best painters of all time [see below]), Rainer Maria Rilke (1875), Alfred Hershey (1908, Nobel Laureate who, along with Martha Chase, gave evidence supporting the idea that, in viruses, the ability to replicate was carried not by the viral protein coat but by the DNA [Hershey didn’t really accept the implications of his experiments, though, and the Nobel was awarded for general work on viruses; see below]), Anna McGarrigle (1944,♥), Jane Lubchenco (1947), and Jeff Bridges (1949).

Below: Alfred Hershey and Martha Chase (you can read about their famous “Waring Blender experiment” here.


Composition VII by Kandinsky (1913):


Those who died on this day include Cardinal Richelieu (1642), Thomas Hobbes (1679), Thomas Hunt Morgan (1945, Nobel Laureate, father of Drosophila genetics, and my academic great-grandfather), and Frank Zappa (1993).  Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has absconded with a pen, but has a good excuse not to ‘fess up:

A: Hili, there was a red pen here.
Cyrus: She thinks that she’s asleep.
In Polish:
Ja: Hili, tu był taki czerwony długopis…
Cyrus: Ona myśli, że śpi.
Lagniappe: a tw**t showing a cat incompetent at fetching:


  1. geckzilla
    Posted December 4, 2016 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Love the Blender experiment story. The people who liken themselves to Galileo really ought to read up on it. An extraordinary claim with extraordinary evidence to back it up!

    I’m torn on Kandinsky’s work and modern art in general. Sometimes I like it, sometimes not. I’m tired enough of people who dismiss any and all modern art as “not real art” that I’d like to hang a nice, big modern art piece in my house just to amuse myself, though. Love it or hate it, it always sparks a conversation.

  2. George
    Posted December 4, 2016 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    I believe that Anna McGarrigle is a bit older – born in 1944 according to Wikipedia.

    Oddly (or not), Jacques Marquette did not found the city of Marquette, MI, where there is a large statue of him.,_Michigan

  3. rickflick
    Posted December 4, 2016 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    Fruit Cake and Eggnog are some of my favorite winter solstice foods. Far from odious. The poor reputation fruit cake has developed is really just a function of poor recopies, poor storing and aging, and going cheap. I agree most store-bought Xmas cake is quite inedible. I make my own fruit cake, using egg, black strap molasses, brown sugar, and pecans or walnuts. and they are delicious. Candied fruit soaked in rum, orange rind grated, maraschino cherries on top, baked in a ring shaped pan. Everyone who’s tried them out say they are delicious and they feel foolish as they once were doubters…but then they beg for more. I usually let them sit quietly at the back of the refrigerator for a month marinating in their rich rum syrup. You’d love my cakes too…if you had a chance to taste one. Marvelous, marvelous cakes. The cake goes well with tea or eggnog.

    • Diana MacPherson
      Posted December 4, 2016 at 7:40 am | Permalink

      I like eggnog but not the kind you buy in a store as it gives me a stomach ache. It’s best if made at home.

      My Canadian friend who moved to Israel ages ago laments no eggnog in Israel, “the land of no Christmas”. Ha ha

    • Posted December 4, 2016 at 9:25 am | Permalink

      Homemade fruit cake (and eggnog–let the freshly grated nutmeg rain down on the egg yolks beaten with sugar till pale yellow, vanilla, bourbon, rum, and folded-in whipped cream and egg whites!)done by a competent chef is glorious:

    • Gregory Kusnick
      Posted December 4, 2016 at 11:38 am | Permalink

      Agreed that fruitcake and eggnog, done properly, are high points of the holiday season. I might even go so far as to indulge in an eggnog latte.

      But Cheez-Its? I’m sorry to say this calls for a serious recalibration of Jerry’s culinary advice going forward.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted December 4, 2016 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        I agree. I make a mean fruit cake – they’re wonderful if done properly.

        Homemade egg nog is far superior too.

        And cheese snacks are ok, but at least make it proper cheese!

      • Diane G.
        Posted December 4, 2016 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

        Cheez-Its–proud product of Kellogg, Inc., whose boycott of Breitbart we all support!

        As if they needed any justification…

    • Filippo
      Posted December 4, 2016 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

      Kirk to star base security guard about McCoy in “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock”: “I hear he’s fruitier than a nut cake.”

      • rickflick
        Posted December 4, 2016 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        Nuttier than a fruit cake or fruitier than a nut cake. What difference does it make. 😦

  4. geckzilla
    Posted December 4, 2016 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    The cat has something wrong with it, right? I don’t know if it’s cerebellar hypoplasia or something else. Looks more functional than cerebellar hypoplasia. My husband said it has cataplexy without intending to make a pun.

    • rickflick
      Posted December 4, 2016 at 8:06 am | Permalink

      I also thought it looks like CH. My daughter who is a vet, owned such a cat given to her by a customer. It was funny to watch. When startled, she’d turn and bounce off the wall(harmlessly). But she was very affectionate and won our love. We enjoyed taking care of her when my daughter was traveling. We’d offer to keep her an extra week.

    • Scott Nicholson
      Posted December 4, 2016 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

      Either that, or they just ate a catnip bush.

  5. Diana MacPherson
    Posted December 4, 2016 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    I’m at work today during a go-live weekend and cookies abound here!

    • Posted December 4, 2016 at 10:04 am | Permalink

      Me want cookie. Me eat cookie. Om nom nom nom!

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 4, 2016 at 10:09 am | Permalink

        Mmmmm COOKIE! 🍪🍪

  6. Posted December 4, 2016 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    The German writing poet born on December 4, is of course Rainer Maria Rilke and not Wilke although the rs and the vs/ws are, I must admit, frequently mixed up in languages like Spanish.

  7. Posted December 4, 2016 at 10:19 am | Permalink

    I’m not a fan of dried fruit, with the occasional exception of dried cherries, so even the superior homemade fruitcakes mentioned here probably wouldn’t tempt me.

    Being an Anglophile, however, I was intrigued by the idea of steamed puddings. Blame it on too many readings of Dickens “A Christmas Carol”. I actually bought proper pudding tins from Williams Sonoma, but had very mixed results. One pumpkin pudding (sans dried fruit, of course) came out perfectly. The other was a disastrous mess of semi-cooked batter. Unfortunately, I’d neglected to note which pudding was steamed in which pan, so have never conducted the experiment again. Perhaps some other Christmas.

    Back to the fruitcake: one of my favorite Johnny Carson monologue bits was his revealing that there were really only *five* fruitcakes in the entire world. They just kept getting passed around, regifted – so that everyone thought there were more of them.

    Damn, I still miss Carson. Among other things. And people. And cats.

    • Christopher
      Posted December 4, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      I’ve never had a proper English steamed pudding before but I adore a good German stollen. I used to get one at a bakery every Christmas but I was the only one in the family who would eat it, as they assumed it would be as bad as those mass-produced industrial American fruit cakes. That just meant that I ate the whole damn thing myself. The Italians and the French do some nice Xmas sweets too, but good ones harder to find around here. And while we are talking about winter treats, this is a great time for seasonal beers. Among my favorites are Smauel Smith’s Winter Welcome and Anchor’s Xmas & new year’s special ale. A nice English barley wine ale wouldn’t be a bad choice either, when one wishes to keep Jack Frost from nipping at one’s nose.

      • Diana MacPherson
        Posted December 4, 2016 at 11:10 am | Permalink

        Yes Stollen is delicious. There is a nice marzipan one in my freezer right now waiting for Weinachtstag!!

    • Filippo
      Posted December 4, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      ” . . . I still miss Carson . . . .”

      “Euell Gibbons here – ever eat a fence post?”

  8. Jenny Haniver
    Posted December 4, 2016 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    “And we, who have always thought
    Of happiness as rising, would feel
    The emotions that almost overwhelms us
    Whenever a happy thing falls.”


  9. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted December 4, 2016 at 11:43 am | Permalink

    Looks like I jumped the gun by making cookies yesterday. But I guess the upside is that I can have guilt-free cookies for breakfast today.

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