Saturday: Hili dialogue

After today, posting will be light for a couple of days while I entertain visitors, and Grania will be in charge. Today is Saturday, April 29, 2017: National Shrimp Scampi Day—a dish I’ve never had. And, appropriately given the situation in Syria, it’s The Day of Remembrance for all Victims of Chemical Warfare, an issue that, while the UN can issue remembrances for, apparently can’t do anything to stop. Finally, I’ve just learned, thanks to reader jsp, that we missed a big holiday yesterday: National Hairball Awareness Day, celebrated the last Friday in April. I am not making this up. But Opus seems to have gotten the date wrong in the latest Bloom County:

On this day in 1770, James Cook arrived at and named Australia’s Botany Bay, now located in Sydney. On April 29, 1916, the Easter Rising in Dublin ended as rebel leaders surrendered to the British. Many were tried and several leaders were executed. Here’s a video clip of the executions from the movie “Michael Collins”: don’t watch it if you don’t want to see firing squads, but I find this very moving:

On this day in 1945, Hitler married Eva Braun in the Führerbunker and named Admiral Dönitz as his successor. Both Braun and Hitler committed suicide the next day. On the same day, the concentration camp Dachau was liberated by Allied troops. On April 29, 1992, following the beating of Rodney King, the Los Angeles riots began; the media is reporting on their 25th anniversay. On April 29, 2004, the last Oldsmobile rolled off the assembly line, ending 107 years of that car’s production. Finally, on this day six years ago, Prince William married Catherine Middleton.

Notables born on this day include Henri Poincaré (1854), Harold Urey (1893), Duke Ellington (1899), Willie Nelson (1933), my friend and ex-chair, geneticist Brian Charlesworth (1945), Dale Earnhardt (1951), Kate Mulgrew (1955), Daniel Day-Lewis (1957), Michelle Pfeiffer (1958), and Uma Thurman (1970). It was a good day for actors.

By the way, Duke Ellington was both a great musician and a great foodie. Here’s an excerpt from a nice New Yorker profile of him from 1944, mentioning his favorite desserts: a gemisch of different things:

Duke, who is always worrying about keeping his weight down, may announce that he intends to have nothing but Shredded Wheat and black tea. When his order arrives, he looks at it glumly, then bows his head and says grace. After he has finished his snack, his expression of virtuous determination slowly dissolves into wistfulness as he watches [Billy] Strayhorn eat a steak. Duke’s resolution about not overeating frequently collapses at this point. When it does, he orders a steak, and after finishing it he engages in another moral struggle for about five minutes. Then he really begins to eat. He has another steak, smothered in onions, a double portion of fried potatoes, a salad, a bowl of sliced tomatoes, a giant lobster and melted butter, coffee, and an Ellington dessert—perhaps a combination of pie, cake, ice cream, custard, pastry, jello, fruit, and cheese. His appetite really whetted, he may order ham and eggs, a half-dozen pancakes, waffles and syrup, and some hot biscuits. Then, determined to get back on his diet, he will finish, as he began, with Shredded Wheat and black tea. Long before this, he is usually surrounded by an admiring crowd, which watches him with friendly awe. He chats with the chicks in the group and may turn from his steak or lobster to say pleasantly to one of them, “You make that dress look so beautiful.” He is not a bit embarrassed by the fact that he said the same thing the night before to another chick in another town. Sometimes he will pause before eating a dessert awash in rich yellow cream and say to a girl, “I never knew an angel could be so luscious.” At the end of his supper, he may lean back, satisfied at last, and sing out to Strayhorn, “Dah dah dee dee dee, tah tahdle tah boom, deedle dee, deedle dee, boom!”

Those who died on this day include Ludwig Wittgenstein (1951), Alfred Hitchcock (1980), Albert Hoffmann (2008; discoverer of the effects of LSD, on which I heard him lecture at Harvard [he lectured in a lab coat and was very staid]), and Bob Hoskins (2014). Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili is killing time until lunch:

Hili: I’m thinking about post-breakfast philosophy.
A: And…?
Hili: I have time to do it until next meal.
In Polish:
Hili: Zastanawiam się nad filozofią postśniadanną.
Ja: I co?
Hili: Mam na to czas do kolejnego posiłku.


  1. Mike
    Posted April 29, 2017 at 7:25 am | Permalink

    The G.O.C in Dublin at that time was a chap called, General Sir John Grenfell Maxwell, ,after he Court Martialed and sentenced to Death the Leaders of the Rising, he was approached by a Nationalist MP whose name escapes me, who said “These Men at the moment are not enough to fill a Cell, Execute them, and they will fill the whole of Ireland”. very prophetic.

    • gravelinspector-Aidan
      Posted April 29, 2017 at 7:49 am | Permalink

      But … but, “hard power” (a.k.a. “more violence”) is always the solution to a problem. Haven’t you been listening to the peace talks between Glorious Leader of Free World and Glorious Leader of DPRK over the last week or two. It is simply irrational to suggest that there could possibly be any downside to the immediate use of more violence. And if that doesn’t work, you obviously didn’t use enough “more violence”. Do you not believe the Glorious Leader?
      I’ve never actually tried making any chemical weapons (caveat). I’ve still got about 70% of my hearing after Practical Explosives 1.0.1, and I’d be reasonably confident that I could make some pretty nasty chemical weapons in appreciable quantities if some mad NRA potentate were to provide funding. And some yorkshiremen (foot note). For experimentation. And generations of “more violence” has taught me that this is the Wrong Thing to do.

      I may be getting “more violence” and “civilisation” confused. I’ve been doing my language lessons this morning, and I’m not quite sure I’ve landed properly in English.

      Foot note : “yorkshiremen” not in the geographical or hereditary sense, but in the poetic (?) sense of “Yorkshire-born and Yorkshire-bred /
      Strong in the arm and weak in the head.”

      Caveat : OK I made some chlorine once. But that was as much a byproduct of trying to make sodium as anything. Stings the eyes.

  2. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 29, 2017 at 9:18 am | Permalink

    If you’ve never had shrimp scampi, it’s not for want of opportunity: they’ve long been a staple of the “continental” menu.

    I had some myself earlier this week. A client who’s a commercial fisherman dropped some shrimp by the office as thanks for helping him out of a jam with his boat license — two ten-pound bags of beautiful, pink crustaceans fresh from the Gulf of Mexico. (At moments like this I feel like a country doctor who gets live chickens and fresh-baked bread for making a house-call to check on a feverish child.)

    We gave one bag to our secretary to take home for her family, and a couple days ago she surprised us with a big bowl of scampi for lunch. Muy delicioso.

  3. Posted April 29, 2017 at 10:02 am | Permalink

    One of the nice things about having dogs as well as cats is not having to clean up hairballs. 🙂

    • Glenda
      Posted April 29, 2017 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Aw jeez, you had to come back with that didn’t you 😝.

  4. nicky
    Posted April 29, 2017 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    In Paris there is the rond point Poincare, lovely

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted April 29, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    That’s some damn fine cinematography in that Michael Collins clip. I had forgotten how good it is.

  6. harrync
    Posted April 29, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    While technically the riots were after the beating of Rodney King, it would be more precise to say “after the acquittal of the police officers who beat Rodney King.” And I still find his appeal to end the violence “Can we all get along?” one the the most moving statements ever. Unfortunately, the answer from millions [billions?] of people remains: “NO!”

  7. zackoz
    Posted April 29, 2017 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Minor pedantic quibble – Sydney isn’t located in Botany Bay. When Captain Arthur Phillip, leader of the First Fleet arrived in Botany Bay in early 1788, he decided it wasn’t suitable for a colony. He then sailed north and found Port Jackson and Sydney Harbour. That was the beginning of the great city of Sydney.

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