Wednesday: Hili dialogue (and baby Leon monologue)

It’s Tuesday, August 9, 2017, and that means this morning I have both finger and shoulder therapy (back to back, so to speak). I wish I could celebrate today’s food holiday, for it honors one of my favorite desserts: National Rice Pudding Day. I’ll save you the trouble right now and tell you where to get the world’s best version: at L’Ami Jean, a fantastic Basque bistro in Paris. Reserve two weeks in advance, and don’t forget the riz au lait, which comes in a huge bowl from which you can take as much as you want, repeatedly. Bowls of candied fruit, plain fruit, conserves, and praline are on the side to add to this:

Much to my chagrin, Adam Gopnik “outed” this restaurant in The New Yorker, and had some special approbation for this dessert:

Stéphane Jégo, the chef at L’Ami Jean, had a black eye that day—the prize of a rugby fight—but his food was wonderful: varied and intelligent, and full of southwestern folk charm: slow-cooked veal shin, tender without being mushy and comforting without being dull; the usual foie gras, but here more buttery than bland; and the best rice-pudding dessert I have ever had, complete with black-cherry confit.

Adam, if you’re reading this, don’t do that again! Since this review appeared, it’s necessary to reserve well in advance, and the restaurant is fully of bloody Americans (like me).

On this day in 1854, Henry David Thoreau published Walden. And in 1930, Betty Boop, the cartoon flapper, first appeared in Dizzy Dishes, though she wasn’t yet fully human. As Wikipedia notes (I love their staid descriptions of cartoon plots): 

The cartoon begins with four anthropomorphic flapper cats singing “Crazy Town”. Chef Bimbo waits on a hungry gorilla and then goes to the kitchen to prepare the order, roast duck. When he is about to bring it to the gorilla’s table, he sees Betty Boop performing on stage and falls in love at first sight. He forgets about the hungry gorilla and dances on stage with the duck. The gorilla, furious, goes after Bimbo, who escapes on a wooden train. . . The as-yet-unevolved Betty Boop is drawn as an anthropomorphic female dog.

The dancing cats appear at the beginning, and the roast duck appears soon thereafter. Betty (note the dog ears) appears at 2:40.  These early cartoons seem to me vaguely menacing:

On August 9, 1945, the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb Fat Man, on Nagasaki, instantly killing about 50,000 people. Here’s a short BBC video of the bombing:

On August 9, 1969, the acolytes of Charles Manson murdered the pregnant actress Sharon Tate (married to Roman Polanski), Abigail Folger, Wojciech Frykowski, Jay Sebring and Steven Parent in Los Angeles. Manson, now 82, lives in the Protective Housing Unit at California State Prison, Corcoran, where he is protected from the other prisoners.  And on this day in 1974, Richard Nixon became the first U.S. President to resign from office, making Gerald Ford the president (later, Ford pardoned Nixon).

Few notables were born on this day; these include John Dryden (1631) and Gillian Anderson (1968). Those who died on this day include the painters Hieronymus Bosch (1516) and Chaim Soutine (1943), as well as Hermann Hesse (1962), Sharon Tate (1969, see above), Dmitri Shostakovich (1975) and Jerry Garcia (1995).

Here’s part of Bosch’s most famous painting (see caption), which I’ve seen in the Prado:

“In Hieronymous Bosch’s (1450-1516) The Garden of Earthly Delights, a cat carries off a rat in its mouth at the bottom of the triptych’s left panel, which depicts heaven.” Source.

And a Soutine, avec chaton:

Soutine, “Portrait d’une jeune fille”

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s emigmatic words were explained to me by Malgorzata, “Hili seems to be generally grumpy. She doesn’t like life for the moment and nothing is to her taste—not even her favorite place by the river. She never said specifically what she was grumpy about.”
Hili: I’m not sure.
A: What aren’t you sure about?
Hili: Whether I like all of it.
In Polish:
Hili: Nie jestem pewna.
Ja: Czego nie jesteś pewna?
Hili: Czy mnie się to wszystko podoba.

And, honoring Leon’s Adoption Day, we have his very first monologue, posted exactly three years ago when he had just been rescued:

Leon: Well, I don’t know. Maybe I will move in with you.

That picture was posted on Facebook, and I’m told that Andrzej commented (in Polish, see below): “After He created a cat the Lord said that it was good and decided to create servants to worship it, feed and not cease petting it.” Elzbieta, Leon’s new staff, responded: “Servants are working busily and tirelessly.”:

Andrzej Koraszewski: A stworzywszy kota powiedział Pan, że dobry jest i postanowił mu stworzyć służbę, która miała go czcić, karmić i w pieszczotach nie ustawać.
Elżbieta Wierzbicka: Słuzba uwija sie niestrudzenie.



  1. bbenzon
    Posted August 9, 2017 at 6:41 am | Permalink

    I LOVE rice pudding!

    As for Hili’s grumpiness, maybe it’s fallout from 45’s Sturm und Drang.

  2. Randy schenck
    Posted August 9, 2017 at 6:44 am | Permalink

    I like that comment from Andrzej but I don’t believe it. If anyone ever got far more press and coverage than deserved it was Charles Manson. Even having songs and movies to fill the Hollywood diet, such a waste of a human being.

  3. bbenzon
    Posted August 9, 2017 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    As for Betty Boop, have you seen Sita Sings the Blues? It’s a feature-length animation made by Nina Paley and released into the public domain. Sita clearly owes much of her form to Betty. Here’s a link to the site for the film:

    You can find clips or the whole thing on YouTube and Vimeo and you can download the whole thing:

    • rickflick
      Posted August 9, 2017 at 11:18 am | Permalink

      It’s a really fine animated film.

      I think the film was originally planned for commercial release but the owners of much of the music wanted too much in royalties. The songs by Annette Hanshaw were probably at issue. They are a big part of the films charm. The film played on PBS a few years ago.

      • bbenzon
        Posted August 9, 2017 at 11:49 am | Permalink

        Yes, the Hanshaw recordings, though not the songs themselves, were still under copyright. I believe Paley ended up paying $50K in license fees just to release the film into the public domain. FWIW the experience turned her into an anti-copyright activist.

        Paley’s made no money from exhibiting the film, which has been seen and won prizes all over the world. She makes her money from speaking fees and merchandise sales.

        (Paley’s cat, Lexi, has a role in the film.)

        She’s currently working on another feature, Sedermasochism, which is about the Exodus stofy. You can follow her work-in-progress on her blog.

        Here’s the full Sita on YouTube:

  4. busterggi
    Posted August 9, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Does Honey know about that cartoon?

  5. John Dentinger
    Posted August 9, 2017 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    In honor of the publication of Walden, I would like to share my favorite Thoreau quote: “The commonest sense is the sense of men asleep, which they express by snoring.”
    Nailed it.

  6. philfinn7
    Posted August 9, 2017 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    Bosch’s work never ceases to amaze me. Years ahead of his time.

  7. bric
    Posted August 9, 2017 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I’m sure many followers will be celebrating National Booklovers Day

    • David Coxill
      Posted August 9, 2017 at 11:31 am | Permalink

      The best book shop i have ever visited was Barter Books in Alnwick Northumberland.
      Hay On Wye is just about 40 minutes away ,but spend too much if i go there.

  8. Pierluigi Ballabeni
    Posted August 9, 2017 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    I think John Dryden was born on 9 August on the old calendar, which corresponds to the 19 August on our (Gregorian) calendar.

    Reminds me of Cervantes and Shakespeare who died on the same calendar day, but actually Shakespeare 10 days after Cervantes.

  9. David Coxill
    Posted August 9, 2017 at 11:35 am | Permalink

    Two week wait for Rice pudding ?, it would be cold by then .

  10. Neil Faulkner
    Posted August 9, 2017 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    I see that the bird immediately below Adam is a Hooded Crow (Corvus (corone) cornix), and in the next panel there are a number of recognisable species, including Green Woodpecker, Kingfisher, Robin and Jay, not to mention a drake Mallard/

    But the other birds in the first panel would seem to be inventions. I think this might be particularly true of the three-headed one. And the other two look like birds of paradise (as yet unknown in Europe, surely) trying to pass themselves off as penguins. Bosch had a great imagination.

  11. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted August 9, 2017 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    The story of the investigation of the Manson murders is fascinating. Serial murders were often thought unsolvable, but a dogged and determined Vincent Bugliosi tracked them down, as recounted in his book “Helter Skelter”.

    He is ingeneral one of the lawyer writers about law around.

  12. Hempenstein
    Posted August 9, 2017 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

    Since you mentioned Thoreau, he very likely never would have written Walden, just as Darwin very likely never would have boarded the Beagle*, and John Muir never would have reached Yosemite had it not been for Alexander von Humboldt. And that is why I highly recommend Andrea Wulf’s new biography of him. I just found this page, containing a video of her explaining the book.

    *And is there some good reason why the official mascot of this website isn’t a beagle?

    • David Coxill
      Posted August 10, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Beagles are d*gs .

  13. Hempenstein
    Posted August 9, 2017 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

    And did you see the ham at ~1:47 in Dizzy Dishes? It’s not more than a couple frames, but is says something in Hebrew on it. I couldn’t stop frame and get a clear view of it.

    • Hempenstein
      Posted August 9, 2017 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

      But if I had to guess, it says “Kosher”.

  14. Posted August 25, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    , it would be cold by then . Beagles are d*gs .

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