Sunday: Hili dialogue (and Leon monologue)

It’s Sunday, January 21, 2018, and there will be rain today in Chicago (the temperature will be above freezing), which is good because my car is covered with schmutz from being stored in the garage. It’s National Clam Chowder Day, celebrating an comestible that’s good when made in the New England style with cream (the “Manhattan” tomato-based version is not worth eating). It’s also National Hugging Day, but be careful to ask for consent, preferably on a signed form, before you hug someone.

On this day in 1789, what is regarded as the first American novel, bearing the tedious title of The Power of Sympathy or the Triumph of Nature Founded in Truth, was printed in Boston. In 1954, former State Department official Alger Hiss was convicted of perjury for lying about being a Soviet spy (he couldn’t be convicted of espionage as the statute of limitations had expired). This was a huge case at the time, and it’s still not clear whether Hiss was indeed a spy.  On January 21, 1954, the USS Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine, was launched in Connecticut after christening by First Lady Mamie Dowd Eisenhower. On this day in 1960, the first primate-bearing Mercury spacecraft, Little Joe 1B, took off from Wallops Island, Virginia, bearing a female rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta) named Miss Sam. Here she is in her spacesuit and being put into the capsule. You’ll be happy to know she survived the 8.5 minute flight, but I suspect that the engineers dissected her anyway.


On this day in 1981, the first DeLorean DMC-12 sports car was built in Dunmurry, Northern Ireland. Here it is—the only model ever made by the company. It’s estimated that 6500 of these gull-winged things are still around.

Finally, on this day 11 years ago, the U.S. Congress voted 395-28 to reprimand Speaker Newt Gingrich for ethics violations, making him the only speaker to be so sanctioned.

Notables born on this day include Ethan Allen (1738), Stonewall Jackson (1824), Grigori Rasputin (1869), Nobel-winning biochemist Konrad Emil Bloch (1912), Telly Savalas (1922), Wolfman Jack (1938), and Plácido Domingo and Richie Havens (both 1941).

Havens, who died in 2013, rose to fame after he played a soulful and emotional song at Woodstock, and until I looked this up I had no idea that that song, “Freedom,” was improvised. A video is below, and here are Wikipedia’s notes:

Havens as a live performer earned widespread notice. His Woodstock appearance in 1969 catapulted him into stardom and was a major turning point in his career. As the festival’s first performer, he held the crowd for nearly three hours. In part, Havens was told to continue playing, because many artists scheduled to perform after him were delayed in reaching the festival location with highways at a virtual standstill. He was called back for several encores. Having run out of tunes, he improvised a song based on the old spiritual “Motherless Child” that became “Freedom”.

Note that he has no teeth on his upper gums.

Those who took their last breath on this day include Vladimir Lenin (1924), Nobel-winning physician Camillio Golgi (1926), George Orwell (1950), Cecil B. DeMille (1959), James Beard (1985), and Peggy Lee (2002). Lenin was a cat-lover, as this short video attests:

Meanwhile in Dobrzyn, Hili pretends to feel sympathy for the mice in winter. What she really means, of course, is that it’s too cold for her to go outside to kill them. She wants a Mousesicle!

Hili: I’m afraid that the mice are freezing.
A: And you sympathize with them?
Hili: Very much so.

In Polish:

Hili: Obawiam się, że myszkom musi być bardzo zimno.
Ja: A ty im bardzo współczujesz?
Hili: Bardzo.

In nearby Wloclawek, Leon, who also hates the snow (despite his previous winter hikes) is hiding:

Leon: What’s the problem? I need some privacy.

A tw**t found by Matthew. Read the BBC story to learn how the wallabies got high: it’s true!


  1. Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:52 am | Permalink

    / It’s also National Hugging Day, but be careful to ask for consent, preferably on a signed form, before you hug someone. /
    Lol. Ty, Jerry. That actually evoked an audible chuckle from me.
    Not an easy thing to do, I’m told…

  2. George
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:00 am | Permalink

    Was Lenin the inspiration for Blofeld and his Persian?

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:50 am | Permalink

      And let us not forget Don Corleone e gatto:

      • Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:21 pm | Permalink

        They do a great parody of this scene in Zootopia. 😀 My family loves this movie (you might guess we are Italian) That cat sure wiggles around a lot.

    • revelator60
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      The cat-stroking supervillain trope seems to date back to Cardinal Richelieu, who in real life owned 14 cats. Movie versions of “The Three Musketeers” picked up on this–in the 1921 French serial hordes of kittens walk randomly across Richelieu’s desk, while in the 1948 Hollywood film Vincent Price’s Richelieu is often seen petting his cats (

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 5:44 pm | Permalink

        I think the historical Richelieu, the so-called éminence rouge, gets a bad rap. Sure, he was Machiavellian (as was Richelieu’s Richelieu, the éminence grise, Père Joseph), but he hardly ranks as one of history’s evil villains.

        • revelator60
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

          I think most modern historians agree with you. Richelieu was an extremely important figure in the modernization of France and the centralization of governmental power. For the latter reason he was unpopular with aristocracy, and Dumas drew on this to portray him as a scheming master-villain in The Three Musketeers (though even there he was less evil than in the films of the book). But in the sequels the Musketeers admit that Richelieu was an extremely effective statesman and politician, and Dumas later wrote a historical romance, The Red Sphinx, which stars Richelieu in a more heroic role.

  3. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:09 am | Permalink


    I’ve got to see a Google Ngram on that one

    • ThyroidPlanet
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:12 am | Permalink

      …. ok I tried it – none found.

      Congratulations- I think that is the first time the word “Mousesicle” was ever used, a true Coyneage ….

      • Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:17 am | Permalink

        Well, I THOUGHT I created it, but then Google showed me that it’s online:

        (informal, humorous) A cold or frozen mouse.

        • ThyroidPlanet
          Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:28 am | Permalink

          One book from 2011 – from Scholastic – a children’s/grade-school publisher. Two other citations from Usenet, from 1995 and 1999…. not exactly Oxford or Webster’s,…

          … but, I suppose Google results will be far more numerous.

          … of all things, why am I absorbed so much by this… don’t answer that….

  4. Randall Schenck
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Besides a career boost for Richie Havens Woodstock was also a good moment for Santana, Joe Cocker, Cossby Stills Nash, Ten Years After and Country Joe and the Fish. Many others did very well also.

  5. Jim batterson
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 7:56 am | Permalink

    Re: miss sam and animals in space, there is a pretty detailed summary at
    As a part of the nasa history series. It appears that miss sam and, previously, her mate, sam, were both returned to their “training colony” with sam living a long life. While i cannot vouch for this edition specifically, the nasa history series in general is excellent written by or using interviews with the technicians, engineers, and scientists who were there.

    • eric
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

      Able (a Rhesus) and Baker (a squirrel monkey) were also treated quite humanely. First off, they developed such a bond during ‘training camp’ that when Able was selected to fly, NASA altered the capsule and their plans in order to allow Baker to go on the same flight, so the two wouldn’t be separated.

      When they got back, Baker was made an ‘ambassador’ and visited schools etc. as a promotion for the space program. Able died soon after return, as a side effect of the anasthesia used to remove her telemetry (IIRC). That’s sad, but still, it seems NASA was trying to do their best for their ‘monkeynauts.’

  6. Hempenstein
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 8:01 am | Permalink

    Amen. More than once I’ve been burned ordering Clam Chowder assuming it was New England. If you ask, the usual reply is that it’s the proper stuff. It’s when I let my guard down and assume.

    BTW, the secret ingredient is bacon. I learned this from a stout Maine lady in an A&P up there yrs ago. We were camping at Cobscook Bay and I thought with all the clams I’d make clam chowder. Only thing was, I had now idea what to put in it so I looked around and espied the aforementioned lady who looked like she’d surely know. After rattling off all the ingredients (incl onions & celery) she paused and said, “Oh, and a little bacon.”

  7. Ken Kukec
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    Newt Gingrich was reprimanded by congress for ethics violations in 1997. He declined to run for reelection the following year.

  8. Jenny Haniver
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:23 am | Permalink

    Even if Hili has murderous thoughts of mice in her mind, that’s very etherial photo of her reflected in the window. For some reason I’m taken with the idea of cats hanging out in Lenin’s Kremlin and sitting in his lap when he discussed things with dignitaries. If only that cat could talk, what stories it would have.

    I found it difficult to believe the tweet about the wallabies, and didn’t even know opium was being grown Down Under (and in Tasmania, too) so I Googled and found a link to a BBC story “Stoned Wallabies Make Crop Circles” It’s quite funny at first, but these wallabies are acting under the influence of opium, and I’m sure they’re just as susceptible to becoming addicted as humans, so this doesn’t bode well for them. Now if it were cannabis, that’d be another matter — I’d say, hop on, dudes; but opoid addicted wallabies is truly no laughing matter — what’s going to happen to them and how could they be treated for their addiction?

    • Jenny Haniver
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:26 am | Permalink

      And thinking of animals present at momentous human events, there is the cockroach that was attendant upon Saddam Hussein’s hanging, which one can see scurring about briefly in one video as he mounts the stairs to the gallows. What a tale that blattid would tell if it could.

  9. Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    I suspect a lot of the remaining DeLoreans are in the Los Angeles area as I see them quite often. Perhaps I’m seeing the same one over and over but I don’t think so. The brushed stainless steel body panels really make them stand out.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:40 am | Permalink

      They’re awaiting their shot at a Back to the Future sequel — like young women from the hinterlands waiting to be discovered at the soda fountain in Schwab’s.

    • XCellKen
      Posted January 21, 2018 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      The main DeLorean dealership is in Houston, Texas. They sell refurbished cars. There is also a dealership in OJ County, California.

      I had a customer in the 80s that had a DeLorean. he spoke fondly of his car. I thought it was a hunk of junk

      • Ken Phelps
        Posted January 21, 2018 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        You were right.

  10. Diane G.
    Posted January 21, 2018 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

    Happily, American literature survived such an inauspicious beginning…

  11. Posted January 21, 2018 at 4:15 pm | Permalink

    Yay the first DeLorean! The DeLorean still remains, to this day, my ONLY hope of ever actually visiting the 1950’s. (kidding of course– kinda 😀 )

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