Saturday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

Good morning: it’s Saturday, February 18, 2017. Spring, it seems, has arrived in Chicago, at least temporarily. We had record high temperatures yesterday of 62°F (17° C), which broke a 134-year old record by 2° F. The students at my university were basking in the sun wearing teeshirts and shorts, exposing acres of milk-white winter skin.  And temperatures will be high like that for the entire weekend.  It’s also National “Drink Wine” Day, a day I can get behind—but why the scare quotes?

On this day in 1861, Jefferson Davis became President of the Confederate States of America, and, in 1885, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published. Hemingway famously praised this book in his own novel The Green Hills of Africa, saying, “All modern American literature comes from one book by Mark Twain called Huckleberry Finn. If you read it you must stop where the Nigger Jim is stolen from the boys. That is the real end. The rest is just cheating. But it’s the best book we’ve had. All American writing comes from that. There was nothing before. There has been nothing as good since.” (Hemingway’s meaning has been questioned.)

On Febraury 18, 1930, Clyde Tombaugh discovered Pluto from studying astronomical photographs. Is it a planet? You be the judge. On this day in 1943, Joseph Goebbels delivered his “Sportpalast speech” in Berlin, calling for totaler Krieg (“total war”)—a tacit admission that the Nazi Reich was in danger. You can hear part of the speech at the link. Goebbels, of course, died in the Führer bunker, shooting his wife Magda (who had just poisoned all of their six young children) and then himself (you can see these two scenes from the movie “Downfall” here and here). In 1954, the first Church of Scientology started operations in Los Angeles. On this day in 1970, the “Chicago Seven” were found not guilty of conspiracy to cause riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. I remember that raucous trial well; how many of the Chicago Seven can you name? I could remember only five. On this day in 1972, the California Supreme Court declared the death penalty to be illegal since it constituted “cruel and unusual punishment”—a decision that, along with a Supreme Court ruling later that year, stopped executions throughout the US, but only for a time. Finally, it was on this day in 2001 that NASCAR hero Dale Earnhardt died in an accident at the Daytona 500 race.

Notables born on this day include Ernst Mach (1838), Hans Asperger (1906), Toni Morrison (1931), Cybill Shepherd (1950), John Travolta (1954), Vanna White (1957), and Molly Ringwald (1968). Those who died on this day include Martin Luther (1546), Michelangelo (1564), J. Robert Oppenheimer (1967), and Harry Caray (1998; Holy cow!). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is watching the birds eat and wanting to eat the birds:

Hili: Two titmice and a sparrow.
A: Well? So?
Hili: They are eating.
In Polish:
Hili: Dwie sikorki i wróbelek.
Ja: I co?
Hili: Nic, jedzą.

Yesterday it was World Cat Day in Poland and much of Europe (I forgot to note it). Leon is aware of this, but thinks that a single day is insufficient. Two of his friends apparently agree.

Leon: Have you heard? Apparently, it’s a Cat’s Day today! I don’t know any other days.



  1. rickflick
    Posted February 18, 2017 at 7:04 am | Permalink

    1954 the Church of Scientology began. I recently read “Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood, and the Prison of Belief”, the story of H. Ron Hubbard and the Church of Scientology. It was a tough read because it’s just so depressing. Apparently, thousands of people are crazy enough to follow a crazy person on a crazy mission to collect millions of dollars for the crazy organization of crazy people. After a while you begin to feel crazy for reading about it.

    It was also a documentary which I have not seen.

    • Mike
      Posted February 18, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

      I haven’t read the Book, but I watched the documentary with astonishment at the gullibility of people who should know better.

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted February 18, 2017 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      Thanks for reminding me to read that book. I’ve read others, also so depressing — and appalling. I grew up in LA and saw them around town for decades with their card tables and e-meters.

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted February 18, 2017 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    I wonder who are the other cats there with
    Leon. One looks like Hili. Also curious about the piece of the roof that goes down to the ground. Is it to provide cover for something?

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted February 18, 2017 at 7:33 am | Permalink

      Looks like firewood storage.

    • Malgorzata
      Posted February 18, 2017 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      Leon met these cats while he was in the mountains. It’s not Hili, who never left the plains of central Poland.

      • Randy schenck
        Posted February 18, 2017 at 8:13 am | Permalink

        Thanks for that.

  3. nay
    Posted February 18, 2017 at 8:52 am | Permalink

    National “Drink Wine” Day – not scare quotes, I think, but speech quotes; all other Days seem to be for nouns.

  4. Posted February 18, 2017 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    By the authority invested in me, I hereby declare Pluto a planet. One inflicted with dwarfism perhaps, but a planet nonetheless, along with Ceres, Eris and others. Actually Pluto and Charon constitute a dwarf planet system, perhaps the only one known in our solar system, because they orbit a barycenter outside either body.

    Thank you for letting me get this off my chest. I feel better already.

  5. chris moffatt
    Posted February 18, 2017 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    I’m glad the weather has warmed up for you. Here in rural eastern Virginia spring is coming slowly – we have croci and daffodils in bloom.

  6. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted February 18, 2017 at 8:03 pm | Permalink

    I largely remember Dale Earnhardt’s death as the occasion when the New York Times gave him more than double the coverage of other newspapers, but Ann Coulter[geist] falsely claimed the NYTimes gave him far less coverage, basing this claim only on the material on the third day of their coverage.

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