Sunday: Hili dialogue

It’s October! October 1, 2017, and thus time to post my annual “October” passage taken from Thomas (not Tom) Wolfe’s novel Of Time and the River. I love Wolfe although my English-professor friends spurn him as an “overwriter, best suited to adolescents.” But I’d die happy if I could produce prose like this (the first and penultimate paragraphs are gems):

“Now October has come again which in our land is different from October in the other lands. The ripe, the golden month has come again, and in Virginia the chinkapins are falling. Frost sharps the middle music of the seasons, and all things living on the earth turn home again. The country is so big you cannot say the country has the same October. In Maine, the frost comes sharp and quick as driven nails; just for a week or so the woods, all of the bright and bitter leaves, flare up: the maples turn a blazing bitter red, and other leaves turn yellow like a living light, falling about you as you walk the woods, falling about you like small pieces of the sun, so that you cannot say where sunlight shakes and flutters on the ground and where the leaves.

“Meanwhile the Palisades are melting in massed molten colours, the season swings along the nation, and a little later in the South dense woodings on the hill begin to glow and soften, and when they smell the burning wood-smoke in Ohio children say: ‘I’ll bet that there’s a forest fire in Michigan.’ And the mountaineer goes hunting down in North Carolina; he stays out late with mournful flop-eared hounds, a rind of moon comes up across the rude lift of the hills: what do his friends say to him when he stays out late? Full of hoarse innocence and laughter, they will say: ‘Mister, yore ole woman’s goin’ to whup ye if ye don’t go home.’”

Oh, return, return!

“October is the richest of the seasons: the fields are cut, the granaries are full, the bins are loaded to the brim with fatness, and from the cider-press the rich brown oozings of the York Imperials run. The bee bores to the belly of the yellowed grape, the fly gets old and fat and blue, he buzzes loud, crawls slow, creeps heavily to death on sill and ceiling, the sun goes down in blood and pollen across the bronzed and mown fields of old October.

“The corn is shocked: it sticks out in hard yellow rows upon dried ears, fit now for great red barns in Pennsylvania and the big stained teeth of crunching horses. The indolent hooves kick swiftly at the boards, the barn is sweet with hay and leather, wood and apples — this, and the clean dry crunching of the teeth is all: the sweat, the labour, and the plough are over. The late pears mellow on a sunny shelf; smoked hams hang to the warped barn rafters; the pantry shelves are loaded with 300 jars of fruit. Meanwhile the leaves are turning, turning, up in Maine, the chestnut burrs plop thickly to the earth in gusts of wind and in Virginia the chinkapins are falling.

Thomas Wolfe (1900-1938)

Late-breaking news: killer and burglar O. J. Simpson has just been released from Nevada on parole, having served nine years for kidnapping and armed robbery. Will he be back in stir? I didn’t think he would after he was initially found “not guilty” for murdering his wife and Ron Goldman, but he was stupid enough to commit another crime. It’s National Pumpkin Spice Day, which means that all the privileged white women at HuffPo will be writing articles on pumpkin spice lattes from Starbucks. Oh. wait!—there are already two (here and here). Some day I’ll make a list of HuffPo’s Rules for Our Writers (example: “Everything Amy Schumer does is ‘perfect'” and “Treat Twitter as if it’s a single person with a unified opinion on any issue.”) But I digress; I haven’t yet had my coffee.  It’s also World Vegetarian Day, and this one I’ll follow, as I’m having a big salad for dinner.

 On October 1, 1890, Yosemite National Park was established by Congress, and exactly one year later Stanford University began cranking out snobbish students (still no coffee yet). In 1903, the Boston Americans played the Pittsburgh Pirates in the first game of the modern baseball World Series; Boston won. On this day in 1931, Spain finally gave women the right to vote, and exactly five years later Franco became head of its Nationalist Government.  On this day in 1946, Nazi leaders were sentenced in the Nuremberg Trials, and exactly three years later the People’s Republic of China was established. On October 1, 1962, Johnny Carson hosted the very first broadcast of The Tonight Show.  On this day in 1979, the U.S. gave the Panama Canal back to Panama. Exactly ten years later, Denmark established the world’s first same-sex “civil unions.”

Notables born on October 1 include Annie Besant (1847), Vladimir Horowitz (1903), Bonnie Parker (1910, shot by the feds at age 23, receiving at least 26 wounds), Walter Matthau (1920), Jimmy Carter (1924), Julie Andrews (1935) and Theresa May (1956). Those who died on this day include Louis Leakey (1972), Richard Avedon (2004) and Tom Clancy (2013). Here’s a photo of Cher et chatte by Avedon:

Today’s Hili dialogue has an explanation by Malgorzata:

Short explanation: the town’s drunkards often congregate on the field by the river. On the last walk, the worst of the drunkards walked energetically and purposefully through the field, visibly sober.

Hili: Astonishing!
A: What is astonishing?
Hili: This drunkard is sober today.
In Polish:
Hili: Zdumiewające!
Ja: Co takiego?
Hili: Ten pijaczek jest dziś trzeźwy.

Matthew sent a photo of the leopard spider:

. . . as well as a bit of biology information:

Here are two tweets from Heather Hastie’s daily collection. She put up many more tweets of baby kakapos (Strigops habroptila; the world’s only flightless parrot), so go over and see them. First, though, cat math:

I would crawl a mile over broken glass to see this sight:

Oh hell, here’s one more (Heather has eight):


  1. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted October 1, 2017 at 7:28 am | Permalink

    That IS some writing that … I really like! And I cant be bothered to make jokes about librarians or privilege or any of that junk.

    If a prickly professor poo-poo’s Thomas Wolfe, hey, I guess they wouldn’t sound like a p-p-p-prickly p-p-p-professor, and would start getting ignored in the hallways.

  2. ladyatheist
    Posted October 1, 2017 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    I wonder if O.J. has CTE. That would explain a few things. It wouldn’t excuse his crimes, but possibly explain them.

  3. RPGNo1
    Posted October 1, 2017 at 9:03 am | Permalink

    October 1, 2017 – The law for same-sex marriages takes effect in Germany. 😃

  4. Claudia Baker
    Posted October 1, 2017 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    Oh, to see what Wolfe would have written, had he lived longer!

    That’s a gorgeous photo of Cher with cat.

  5. Ken Kukec
    Posted October 1, 2017 at 9:27 am | Permalink

    “On this day in 1931, Spain finally gave women the right to vote, and exactly five years later Franco became head of its Nationalist Government.”

    Coffee or no coffee, you aren’t juxtaposing those two coordinate independent clauses to suggests that distaff Spanish suffragists were responsible for the rise of Iberian fascism, are you? 🙂

  6. W.Benson
    Posted October 1, 2017 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    Happy Birthday Jimmy Carter.

  7. Posted October 1, 2017 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    “Male toads (Bufo bufo) do this high pitched squeak when grabbed by another male in amplexus, to tell the other male that it isn’t a female”

    This is interesting because in some past post we discussed the behavior of frogs “screaming” when caught by snakes. Maybe this behavior is a generalized response to being squeezed, with multiple selection pressures involved?

  8. Frank Bath
    Posted October 1, 2017 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Seeing the kakapos making themselves comfortable on someone’s foot brought to mind the London squirrel that did exactly the same thing to me yesterday while I stood to read a notice in Birdcage Walk.

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