Thursday: Hili dialogue

by Grania

Good morning! Welcome to the 21st day of the Irish bus strike. (Don’t even ask).

In 1963 Sidney Poitier became the first African American to win an Academy Award for Lilies of the Field.

Today in 1742, Handel’s Messiah was premiered in Dublin in The Great Music Hall in Fishamble Street.  It was a great success, but when the work was performed in Covent Garden in London the audience was less enthusiastic. We are not going to listen to the Hallelujah Chorus this morning, this part is from Part 1, Scene 3: For unto us a Child is born.

Sharing a birthday today are Irish playwright Samuel Beckett (1906), Croatian-Russian chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov (1963) and British-American writer Christopher Hitchens (1949), every single one of them heavy hitters in their own right.

But what better way to start your day (or take a break) than a montage of Hitchens at his wisecracking best.

Finally. Hili is on an adventure, one that her staff do not approve of.

A: Hili, get down from there, they are our starlings!
Hili: Mine too?

In Polish:

Ja: Hili, złaź stamtąd, to są nasze szpaki!
Hili: Moje też?

[Note from Malgorzata: There is a starling nest just under the roof. We never imagined that Hili would be able to climb there. But the nest is hidden deep inside and, thankfully, she has no chance to reach it. She is obviously tempted.]


  1. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    If Hitchens is British-American, shouldn’t Beckett be Irish-French?

    • Posted April 13, 2017 at 7:03 am | Permalink

      I can’t find any mention of Beckett applying for French citizenship. Hitchens however did become an American citizen.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted April 13, 2017 at 7:23 am | Permalink

        But Beckett lived in Paris and wrote his plays in French — just as Hitchens began writing in English, instead of whatever language they speak in the nation of his origin, although he still spoke with that funny accent. 🙂

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted April 13, 2017 at 8:01 am | Permalink

          I think you’ll find it’s called ‘English’ 😎


        • BJ
          Posted April 13, 2017 at 8:45 am | Permalink

          You mean that gorgeous and yet also acerbic accent. I loved it. It made his barbs cut even deeper, somehow.

        • Posted April 13, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

          Here in Germany young people refer to “amerikanisch” as that language they hear in songs and advertising.

          (And when I’ve visited London, I’ve learned to claim I’m German, rather than Australian when I have to ask someone to repeat the collection of glottal stops and vowels more slowly please.)

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    Cats can be so stubborn. Hili will not give up.

  3. Rick
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    Here’s a little something for Beckett’s birthday. It’s a link to a film version of his play called “Play”. The film is about 15 minutes long.

  4. DrBrydon
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 7:27 am | Permalink

    Sorry, Hattie McDaniel for Gone With the Wind.

  5. Andy
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    The thing I love about Handel is the way he’ll suddenly go “Listen up! Fugue comin’ in! Yeah, baby, workin’ a fugue over here… never mind.”

  6. BJ
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Oh, how I miss this Hitchslap! I can’t imagine what he would have to say today. We lost him just as the regressive left was rising and rolling around in the filth of censorship and ideological blasphemy.

    Oh, Hitch, we lost you just when you would have gone on your next, and perhaps most fun, crusade (irony of the word intended). I miss you nearly every day.

  7. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    As Hitchens was quite proud to share his birthday with Thomas Jefferson, let that me mentioned.

    The quip that CH attributes to Bertrand Russell about Unitarians believing in “at most one God” has been more frequently attributed to Alfred North Whitehead, a friendly philosophical opponent of Russell (re theism and religion) but whom also collaborated with him on their magisterial “Principia Mathematica” whose project was later proven futile by Kurt Godel. (Given how much time the two fellows spent with each other they may have both said it.)

  8. colnago80
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 10:29 am | Permalink

    Here’s another excerpt from the same work by the great American Basso Jerome Hines.

  9. Rob
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    Oh that Hili!

  10. David Coxill
    Posted April 13, 2017 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    For unto us is born ,enough to send a shiver down the spine of anyone who studied with the open University A101 .

  11. Posted April 13, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    My favorite Hitchslap, not contained in any of the compilations, is this one–

    The moderator is extremely hostile to Hitchens, and religious journalist and author Jonathon Kirsch claims that atheism is vandalism and “exactly the same as the Taliban blowing up Buddhist statues”. Hitch initially limits himself to saying “Silly point”, and the moderator ridicules him. Then calmly corrects Kirsch on a historical point, which thereby demolishes Kirsch’s argument and displays a far deeper knowledge of church history than Kirsch had — thereby also demolishing Kirsch’s accusation that atheists are ignorant of religion.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted April 13, 2017 at 6:08 pm | Permalink

      Thnx Yakaru – I didn’t know of this Hitch video

      • Posted April 14, 2017 at 1:51 am | Permalink

        Thanks for all the ones you’ve put up!

  12. Posted April 13, 2017 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

    I don’t much care for religion, but love the Messiah.

  13. Posted April 13, 2017 at 2:23 pm | Permalink

    Just for the record, Garry Kasparov was born in Baku in Azerbaijan, when it was very much part of the USSR. I believe he is of Jewish ethnicity. I’ve never heard of any Croatian connection at all. I’m posting from my phone and it’s difficult to check the details. These days he definitely identifies as Russian, having political aspirations there etc.

  14. Whitt Staircase
    Posted April 14, 2017 at 8:21 am | Permalink

    “For unto us” has always been my favorite bit from the Messiah. It made me confront for the first time more than fifty years ago the problem of being deeply emotionally moved by music with a religious purpose to which I was indifferent or even hostile.

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