Saturday: Hili dialogue

Good morning! It’s Saturday, July 29, with only two more days until we’re back in August and—for most American kids—the countdown to the dreaded Back to School Time. I remember that, as a child, I used to have a growing sense of foreboding as August waned, but at Chicago my university doesn’t start till the beginning of October (we end at the start of June). It’s National Lasagne Day, and, more important, International Tiger Day, promoting the awareness and conservation of the world’s largest and most beautiful cat (except for Pallas’s Cat.)  The various subspecies of tiger have lost 93% of their historical range in the last century, and seem largely doomed in the wild. Save them!

On July 29, 1836, the Arc de Triomphe was dedicated in Paris. On this day in 1921, Hitler became head of the Nazi Party, formally known as the National Socialist German Workers Party. In 1958, President Eisenhower created the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), and in 1973, the Greeks voted to abolish the monarchy. On this day in 1981, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer wed at St. Paul’s Cathedral, with over 700 million people watching on television. (See Christopher Hitchens’s splenetic take on Lady Di here.) Finally, on this date in 1987, Margaret Thatcher and François Mitterrand signed an agreement to build the Chunnel, or Eurotunnel.

Notables born on this day include Don Marquis, artist and creator of the wonderful stories about Archie, a cockroach, and Mehitabel, a cat (1878; see below); Benito Mussolini (1883), Clara Bow (1905), Charlie Christian (1916), Peter Jennings (1938), Susan Blackmore (1951), and Ken Burns (1953).

Those who died on this day include Vincent van Gogh (1890, two days after he shot himself), geneticist Ronald Fisher (1962), Cass Elliot (1974), Herbert Marcuse (1979), and Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin (1994). Now, you’re surely asking, did van Gogh paint any cats, or did he even like them? The answer seems to be that “he wasn’t an ailurophile“. And here’s a cat drawing; the moggie is not well rendered (I can’t seem to find any van Gogh paintings that include cats):

van Gogh, Hand with a Bowl, and a Cat, 1885. The cat has a human-like face.


Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili has found the equivalent of an indoor cat tree:

Hili: We have too few pieces of such furniture.
A: There are beds, sofas, armchairs, shelves, why do you need ironing boards on top of all that?
Hili: They could come handy. 
In Polish:
Hili: Mamy za mało takich mebli.
Ja: Są łóżka, sofy, fotele, półki, po co ci jeszcze deski do prasowania?
Hili: Przydały by się.

Heather Hastie sent three animal tw**ts for the weekend:



  1. Steven in Tokyo
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 6:39 am | Permalink

    A correction. Van Gogh died in 1890; 1853 is the year he was born.

  2. Michael Fisher
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    There’s Van Gogh, the one-eared artist cat:

  3. Perluigi Ballabeni
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I had never heard about Archy and Mehitabel but I see the illustration is by George Herriman. I am a fan of Crazy Kat; or rather of Ignatz Mouse.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted July 29, 2017 at 11:08 am | Permalink

      I saw that too. The puzzle may be somewhat solved here:

      “Archy and Mehitabel (styled as archy and mehitabel) are the names of two fictional characters created in 1916, by Don Marquis, a columnist for The Evening Sun newspaper in New York City. … Many editions are recognized by their iconic illustrations by George Herriman, the creator of Krazy Kat.”

      [ ]

      If Marquis illustrated his columns himself is not clear to me, but I think so – the Wiki illustration differ in style such as shadowing.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted July 29, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

        My mother introduced me to Archy and Mehitabel when I was young, and I loved it.

        I’ve been under the impression that Marquis didn’t illustrate Archy and Mehitabel, but I could be mistaken. A number of people have done illustrations over the years, but I like Herriman’s.

        Here’s what must be the official website for Don Marquis Perhaps the answer lies somewhere therein.

  4. Heather Hastie
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 9:57 am | Permalink

    I didn’t know about Hitchens’ view of Diana. I didn’t think it was possible for my opinion of him to get higher. It’s always that way I suppose when someone says exactly what you’ve always said yourself.

  5. DrBrydon
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    I wasn’t sure what to expect with that bird vid, but it made me lol outloud.

    • Torbjörn Larsson
      Posted July 29, 2017 at 11:13 am | Permalink

      To dance the Bamba,
      to dance the Bamba,
      one needs a bit of grace.
      A bit of grace for me, for you,
      now come on, come on,
      now come on, come on,
      for you I’ll be, for you I’ll be, for you I’ll be.

  6. John Dentinger
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 11:45 am | Permalink

    In my former life as an English teacher, I tried mightily to give my students a taste of that reincarnated poet, Archy–especially in “The Lesson of the Moth.” However, they had a lot of trouble visualizing Archy’s writing method–huh? diving head first onto the keys? From what? The top of the monitor?
    But some really did take note(s) of moth philosophy.

  7. ploubere
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

    Van Gogh didn’t often include any animals or humans in his work, especially his later paintings, they’re mostly landscapes. He did have crows in one of his last foreboding ones.

    • ploubere
      Posted July 29, 2017 at 3:41 pm | Permalink

      Except for self portraits.

  8. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted July 29, 2017 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    There are many fictive Van Gogh cats that seem to be largely for semi-comical effect. Here is the one and only painting I can find of a cat in the style of Van Gogh that seems to be intended as an entirely serious effort.

    The painting is entitled “A Cat For Van Gogh_ The Chair And The Cat” and is by George I Perez.

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