Thursday: Hili dialogue

Good morning  (I think): it’s Thursday, June 29, 2017, and that means in two hours I go see the orthopedic surgeon to see if I need any surgery to straighten the injured finger on my right hand. I don’t want anybody cutting me and, as my friend Ivan (a physician) told me, “No good can come of this.” So it goes. I report in passing that it’s National Almond Buttercrunch Day, and in Rioja, Spain, it’s the day of the Haro Wine Festival, honoring the region’s patron saint, San Pedro. Rioja is an underrated wine, and terrific Riojas can be had for not that much money.

On this day in 1613, the Globe Theater, built in 1599, and famously the venue for Shakespeare’s plays, burned to the ground. It was reconstructed two years later but closed for good in 1642. On June 29, 1889, the town of Hyde Park (where I live!) and several other nearby towns voted to become part of Chicago, making it, at the time, the largest city in area in the U.S. (New York City is now larger, but Chicago still ranks #3 in the world after Tokyo.) On this day in 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the case of Furman v. Georgia, ruled 5-4 that the death penalty was “arbitrary and inconsistent” in its imposition, constituting cruel and unusual punishment and violating the Constitution.  There were no executions in the U.S. for four years until the Supreme Court reversed its decision. On June 29, 1974, Mikhail Baryshnikov, touring with the Kirov ballet, defected to Canada.  Exactly one year later, Steve “Woz” Wozniak tested the first  prototype of Apple I computer, and exactly 32 years later, in 2007, Apple released the first iPhone.

In case you’ve forgotten what a great dancer Baryshnikov was, here’s a compilation of some of his performances. I’m always amazed at how he seems suspended in the air at the top of his leaps. We haven’t seen his like in recent decades:

Notables born on this day include the Australian gangster Squizzy Taylor (1888; I like the name), Nelson Eddy (1901), Oriana Fallaci (1929), Harmon Killebrew (1936; I have a copy of the journal Genetics bearing his autograph), Stokely Carmichael (1941), and Maria Conchita Alonso (1957). Those who died on this day include Henry Clay (1852), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1861), biologist Thomas Henry Huxley (1895), Paul Klee (1940), Ignacy Jan Paderewski (1941), Jayne Mansfield (1967), Lana Turner (1995), Rosemary Clooney (2002) and Katharine Hepburn (2003; she lived to be 96). Here’s a nice Klee, titled “Cat and Bird”:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili and Cyrus (who needs a bath and is reportedly “stinking”) are contemplating when they’ll next take a walk, which is regulated by the Staff:

Hili: We have to get out of the shade.
Cyrus: But it will be hot out there.
Hili: So we will come back but it will be our decision.
In Polish:
Hili: Musimy wyjść z cienia.
Cyrus: Ale tam będzie gorąco.
Hili: To wrócimy, ale to będzie nasza decyzja.

Reader JSP sent us an evolution cartoon; I think it’s a bit wonky because, after all, the ancestor of modern whales were terrestrial mammals who reinvaded the sea:


  1. Posted June 29, 2017 at 6:35 am | Permalink

    Rioja is about the only wine for me! well, i exaggerate… yet I think Spanish reds easily trump French…

    • Posted June 29, 2017 at 6:44 am | Permalink

      For Whale fans, UCL Grant Museum is twe*ting about its specimen – they need volunteers to clean it
      1/ A fishing expedition set off in Nov 1860 in pursuit of ‘two great fish’. One escaped but the other succumbed after 20 rounds
      2/ The animal was towed to shore + exhibited eventually going on tour drawing large crowds across the country
      3/ The ‘stuffed’ specimen slowly decomposed during the tour + was sold for the princely sum of £5 to William Mable
      4/ William Mable was the founder of Albert Memorial Hall (which today is @westonmuseum) and he buried the specimen for 2 years
      5/ After 2 years underground it was left to Mrs. Mable to boil + clean each of the bones in her copper bath
      The natural History Museum in London has replaced its cast of the Diplodocus with a Blue Whale skeleton from 14th of July…

    • Posted June 29, 2017 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      Really, any French wine?

      Of course this is purely à chacun son goût; but I have yet to taste a Rioja that I really liked. Every sample I’ve tried has been over-oaked.

      Have you had Chateau LaTour? Or an Hermitage from Chave? Or Vieux Télégraphe (or Beaucastel), properly aged for 20 years?

      • Posted June 29, 2017 at 6:57 am | Permalink

        There are plenty that are not over-oaked. My favorite reds are those from southern France, like the Chateauneufs you mention, or the Hermitages and Côte-Rôties, but a good Rioja is a world-class wine. I buy them infrequently but they’re gutsy and complex (not oaky) when great.

    • James Walker
      Posted June 29, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      I’ve never had a bad Rioja.

      • Posted June 29, 2017 at 7:21 am | Permalink

        I’ve never had a bad one, I’ve just never had one that made me sit up and take notice. None that made me go, ooh, I need a case or two of that!

        I’ll have to seek recommendations and try again …

        • rickflick
          Posted June 29, 2017 at 8:14 am | Permalink

          I agree. Most Spanish wines seem to be based on the Tempranillo grape, which, after a while becomes a bit rough tasting and monotonous, to me. Most of Spanish wine production was used to export for blending, which doesn’t suggest greatness. But, I’m willing to take any suggestions if someone can recommend a great Rioja, I’ll try it.

          • Posted June 29, 2017 at 8:40 am | Permalink

            I thought Rioja was based on Cabernet Sauvignon …

            But now I see it’s not, you are right: Tempranillo listed first, along with Viura, Garnacha, Graciano, and Mazuelo.


            I, too, would love to hear of a great one (for a reasonable price — when it comes to big-ticket wines (relatively rare for me), it’s French wine all the way for me.)

            Rioja fans: Please suggest specific wines, thanks!

            • Posted June 29, 2017 at 8:41 am | Permalink

              Well, French wine all the way except for Port!

              • rickflick
                Posted June 29, 2017 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

                Agree. Portugal does seem to have a lock on Port. Italy does some marvelous things with viniculture of course. Australia, South Africa, Chili, all make decent wines at reasonable prices. But, French is at the top.

  2. colnago80
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    Stokely Carmichael was born on June 29, 1941.

  3. Historian
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    I am not sure how you got Chicago to be the third largest city in the world in land area. Wikipedia has an article on the land area of cities in the U.S. Taking into consideration actual land, not counting water, Chicago ranks 32nd. Many of the larger land area cities have a small population, but major cities in population that have a larger land area than Chicago include NYC, San Diego, LA, Phoenix and Houston.

    • Michael Fisher
      Posted June 29, 2017 at 11:07 am | Permalink

      The Wiki for Chicago gives three different areas:

      [1] City 606 sq km [18 sq km of which is water]
      [2] Urban 5,498 sq km
      [3] Metro 28,160 sq km

      Your Wiki uses line [1] & the table that puts Chicago 3rd in the world uses line [2]:

      I couldn’t find a general definition for [2] or [3] & I have no idea how fair these comparisons are. e.g does one use City of London, London, Greater London? What happens now we have ‘combined authorities’ in the UK?

      • Historian
        Posted June 29, 2017 at 11:56 am | Permalink

        I find the use of the land area of a city as defined by the area of a metropolitan region to be difficult to get a handle on since what areas adjoining the boundaries of the city proper should be included can be debatable. I feel that the area of the city proper is the correct way to determine its size. The cities proper have no legal jurisdiction over neighboring municipalities, at least in the USA.

        • harrync
          Posted June 29, 2017 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

          In North Carolina [and I think in many other states], the state legislature can grant a city “extra territorial jurisdiction”. This allows the city to control areas outside the city limits. But I suspect this only applies to nearby unincorporated areas; I don’t know for sure, but I doubt a city could impose it’s laws on an adjacent city.

  4. Posted June 29, 2017 at 6:55 am | Permalink

    I hope you don’t need surgery Jerry! As I always say, each one is a small, permanent withdrawal from the bank (of bodily resilience).

  5. Posted June 29, 2017 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    the Globe Theater … closed for good in 1642

    The Globe theatre was closed along with all London theatres by the Parliamentarians at the start of the English Civil War. There were no legal theatres from then until 1660 with the restoration of the monarchy. Even back then there were people who wanted to make everybody else’s lives miserable.

  6. James Walker
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    I love Klee … if you ever get a chance, you should go to the Zentrum Paul Kleez in Bern. He painted a *lot* of cat pictures.

    • Posted June 29, 2017 at 7:22 am | Permalink

      Thanks for the tip on the Zentrum … 🙂

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 8:33 am | Permalink

    I’m always amazed at how he [Baryshnikov] seems suspended in the air at the top of his leaps.

    Yeah, it’s almost like he reaches the apex of a leap, suspends, then shoots up another couple inches. I think there’s a technical term for that among aficionados that translates to “squeezing the ass cheeks together hard enough to crack walnuts.”

    • darrelle
      Posted June 29, 2017 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      One of my favorite performances by Baryshnikov is this little number from the movie White Nights. Love the music and the dance. Helen Mirren is a plus too.

      • Posted June 29, 2017 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

        And: A very young Helen Mirren!

        • darrelle
          Posted June 29, 2017 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

          Yeah, as beautiful as she is it’s kind of depressing to realize how old that flick is now. Ain’t none of us getting any younger.

          • rickflick
            Posted June 29, 2017 at 6:01 pm | Permalink

            She is still very beautiful at 71.

  8. Kevin
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 9:45 am | Permalink

    Baryshnikov. Absolutely divine. Quadriceps of a raptor. Balance of an ibex. Beyond human.

  9. Posted June 29, 2017 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    Re: seeing the surgeon. Remember, never ask a barber if you need a haircut. If he recommends surgery, be sure to get a second opinion from a non-surgeon.

  10. claudia baker
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    Breathtaking, beautiful, Baryshnikov.

  11. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    Baryshnikov has a modest career these days doing straight acting.
    I saw him around 2014 at Berkeley Rep in a play from Anton Chekov short stories, “A Man in a Case”. He was quite good.
    (See for details. )

    However, his talents were a tad wasted as the villain in the film “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit”.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 29, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      Huh. I never noticed him in Shadow Recruit. I’m not sure I even remember the Minister Sorokin character that IMDb shows that he played. Was Sorokin the government guy only seen a couple of times that gave the main bad guy, played by Kenneth Branagh, his orders?

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted June 29, 2017 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        Not sure I remember where he appears in the rest of the movie, but he shoots Kenneth Branagh in the penultimate scene.

        • darrelle
          Posted June 29, 2017 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

          Ok, yep, that’s the character I had in mind. Thanks.

  12. Gregory Kusnick
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    There’s no doubt Baryshnikov was great, but I dispute the claim that “We haven’t seen his like in recent decades”. In Baryshnikov’s day, boys who liked ballet were heavily stigmatized in the US, with the result that we had very few home-grown male dancers of any note, so when someone like Nureyev or Baryshnikov came along, it was a revelation.

    In my view, what’s changed in recent decades is not that dancers of Baryshnikov’s caliber have disappeared, but rather that they’ve become more common, so that there’s no single dancer who stands out as clearly the greatest. As with most athletic endeavors, the standard of peak performance has been raised substantially since the 1970s.

    I might add that there’s more to greatness than spectacular leaps and turns. I invite you to watch this clip of Dylan Wald in Jessica Lang’s The Calling.

    • darrelle
      Posted June 29, 2017 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      I largely agree. Baryshnikov is “a great” and that will not change, but as you point out progress occurs. On occasion I’ve seen performances on So You Think You Can Dance (a current dance talent show) that compare favorably to a Baryshnikov performance. And then there are current top level dancers like, sticking to male ballet dancers, Sergei Polunin.

  13. Posted June 29, 2017 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    Baryshnikov: You have to born with tendons and joints that allow you to work hard enough and long enough to develop such muscles and skill.

    He is amazing. Wow.

  14. John Dentinger
    Posted June 29, 2017 at 8:15 pm | Permalink

    I had a Harmon Killebrew signature bat when I was a kid, so I’m curious–how did he come to sign a copy of that journal? I don’t remember anything about him other than his hitting prowess.

%d bloggers like this: