Saturday: Hili dialogue

It is the weekend, with today being Saturday, August 26, 2017: National Cherry Popsicle Day, a lame food holiday given the culinary largesse of America. I’ll eschew that “quiescently frozen confection,” as it used to say on the label, which is where I learned the word “quiescent.”  In the U.S. it’s Women’s Equality Day, celebrating the adoption on this date of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution—guaranteeing women the right to vote.

It’s another not-so-eventful day in history. On August 26, 1498, Michelangelo received his commission to carve the Pietà, which he finished in 1499. It’s in St. Peter’s Basilica as always, but I saw it at the World’s Fair in Flushing, New York, where they put it on display in 1964. I doubt they’ll ever remove it from Italy again. It is the only piece signed by Michelangelo, and has been damaged several times. As Wikipedia reports:

The most substantial damage occurred on May 21, 1972, (Pentecost Sunday) when a mentally disturbed geologist, the Hungarian-born Australian [geologist] Laszlo Toth walked into the chapel and attacked the sculpture with a geologist’s hammer while shouting “I am Jesus Christ; I have risen from the dead!”  With fifteen blows he removed Mary’s arm at the elbow, knocked off a chunk of her nose, and chipped one of her eyelids. Onlookers took many of the pieces of marble that flew off. Later, some pieces were returned, but many were not, including Mary’s nose, which had to be reconstructed from a block cut out of her back.

Toth was not charged with any crime, but spent two years in a psychiatric hospital before being deported back to Australia. The statue is a beautiful work; I show it below along with Michelangelo’s signature:

Here’s the signature: it’s carved on the ribbon going from Mary’s left (her side) shoulder diagonally across her chest:

Here’s Toth being removed after the attack; you can see the damage he did:

On this day in 1789, the National Assembly of France approved The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen. This document, specifying the “natural rights” of man (women weren’t mentioned), stands with the Magna Carta and the U.S. Bill of rights as important Enlightenment-inspired documents. Curiously, Thomas Jefferson helped his friend Lafayette write the French document, and you can read it here. On this day in 1883, the catastrophic eruption of the volcano Krakatoa, in what is now Indonesia, reached its peak, with constant eruptions and explosions. It’s estimated that anyone within ten miles would have gone deaf, and the death toll from the eruption is estimated between 35,000 and 120,000. Finally, as noted above, it was on August 16, 1920, that the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution took effect, granting women the right to vote.

Notables born on this day include Antoine Lavoisier (1714), Lee de Forest (1873), Christopher Isherwood (1904), Mother Teresa (1910), and Will Shortz (1952). Those who died on this day include Frans Hals (1666), William James (1910), Charles Lindbergh (1974), and Amelia Boynton Robinson (2015).

I love Hals and his quick brushstrokes that were almost impressionistic in some paintings. He also painted this, “A Young Man with a Cat”, in 1635, which goes to prove my theory (which is mine) that cats could not be depicted properly by many of the world’s great artists. Look at that travesty! What’s with the cat’s mouth? (As often happens, the cat has a humanlike face.)  And you can’t fob it off on Hals being young, as he was 53 when he painted it:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili’s been stymied in her search for birds:

I’m disappointed.
A: Why?
Hili: This thing I climbed up the tree for is already on the roof.
In  Polish:
Hili: Jestem zawiedziona.
Ja: Dlaczego?
Hili: Bo to, po co wskoczyłam na to drzewo jest już na dachu.

And, mirabile dictu, Gus as been drinking in Winnipeg. Not booze but water, and not from his bowl but from the garden pond. A video:

And a photo:

Finally, today’s count: 22 to go!:


  1. David Coxill
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    Hi Doc ,just wondered if you have seen the story on The Independent website ,a gay man was turned down for adopting 2 cats because the woman said it is against her religion .
    The story gets more complicated ,don’t know how to post a link .

  2. Mike
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 6:45 am | Permalink

    That Cat has the look of

  3. Lauren
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 6:57 am | Permalink

    I’m a long-time follower but had your RSS feed sent directly to my Reeder so wasn’t counted in your followers. I signed up today through your website as I wanted to be counted in your first 50,000.

    Thank you for your tutelage, opinions, factual commentary and information over the years.

  4. busterggi
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 8:23 am | Permalink

    Cats have evolved quickly so as to no longer look like bad paintings.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    Does every popsicle flavor get its own day, or just cherry? Great thing about popsicles was they were the one cold treat you could crack in half and share with a buddy. We used to snap ’em apart on a street sign next to the corner store in my neighborhood (where they cost 7¢ apiece, if memory serves.)

  6. JohnnieCanuck
    Posted August 26, 2017 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I see 50,001. Congratulations!

    Onward and upward, now.

  7. Posted August 26, 2017 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

    Man, what a disappointing Hals. He’s always been one of my absolute favourites. Portraying humans, that is 🙂

    I know what you mean, but still, no way can Magna Carta be described as Enlightenment-inspired. And I’d like Thomas Paine to be mentioned when speaking of The Rights of Man.

    • Tim Harris
      Posted August 26, 2017 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

      Re Hals, many painters couldn’t paint babies either. Try Cranach’s babies & cherubs. They are astonishingly misshapen and ugly. And the Christ-childs (Christ-children?) of many Renaissance artists look like small adults.

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