Friday, February 12, 2016

Pretty picture: Phalaenopsis Kaoda Twinkle 'Dusty's Midnight'

I loved this one so much. The photo disappointed me (especially the out of focus and overexposed flower in the top left), but it was gorgeous in person. Plus there's sort of a white-tie tuxedo thing happening with the labellum.

The closest I got to a jaw-drop moment from the 2015 orchid show was the black Paphiopedilum (Black Cherry x sukhakulii) I showed you last June, but I also really liked the Papilionanda Erika Cizek Dann from October, and this Phalaenopsis. I don't know whether it means anything that my favorite orchids from the show were all much darker than the typical varieties. Maybe I was just in a dark purple mood that day. Either way, this is one of the few Phalaenopsis varieties I've seen that I actually covet.

Phalaenopsis Kaoda Twinkle 'Dusty's Midnight' = Phalaenopsis schilleriana x Phalaenopsis Malvarosa Valentine Pearl (Ref.)

Phal. schilleriana is pretty consistently lavender/pink in photo search results (e.g.); Phal. Malvarosa Valentine Pearl doesn't seem to show up in searches (you get results, but they're all pictures of Phal. Kaoda Twinkle).

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Schlumbergera seedling no. 067

067A, like a couple seedlings before it, has complicated coloration, where the petals shade through white, orange, and red before ending on a magenta margin. I don't know whether this will turn out to be a consistent trait; 067A has only produced one bloom so far.1 The seedlings have started the spring blooming cycle already,2 so there's a chance that maybe I'll have the opportunity to confirm the coloration, but in the meantime, I need to name it something.

So. You know the drill. Bunch of name possibilities, narrowed down, widened again by adding some emergency names, narrowed down again: seven maybes.

First one to go is Fruit Punch. I wanted to eliminate it on the grounds that any particular brand of fruit punch is always a single color: you don't pour a glass and wind up with orange on the left and magenta on the right. But then it occurred to me that sometimes, if the glass is tipped, or you have the punch in a really wide, shallow punch bowl, it actually can appear to be different colors, depending on how much liquid the light has to travel through before it reaches your eyes. So instead, I reject it on the grounds that it's not a very interesting name.

Prism seemed remarkably appropriate at first -- a flower with multiple bands of different colors named for something that splits sunlight into multiple bands of different colors -- but it's been used for so many things already that it's tainted. I mean, try to convince me that a name with ties to government surveillance, a compact car, and, most damningly, Katy Perry,3 is a good idea.

Circus Conference is what Google Translate thinks the tagged "circus renz" means in German. I didn't look into it too deeply. I like the contrast between the freewheeling, gaudy "circus," on one hand, and the dull, sedate "conference" on the other, but it feels like it's trying too hard.

Mae West is safely dead, so we'd probably know if she were an especially awful human being, and she's got a lot of great quotes,4 but this is probably not the right color for a Mae West seedling: she apparently preferred to wear white in public, and decorated her home in white and gold.5

Which brings me to the final three names.

Dandy is notable for supporting a double meaning -- both "fine and dandy" and also a man excessively concerned about appearance and clothing. Having two meanings that both work reasonably well is unusual, and makes the name worth consideration.

Carousel Horse was previously considered for 107A "Nova Prospekt," and would be a good fit here as well.

Cyndi Lauper has likewise been previously considered, for 083A "Psychedelic Bunny" and 079B "Haleakala."

Image search results for "carousel horse" turn up mostly subdued, realistic colors, or at least more subdued and realistic than I expected to find. Cyndi Lauper's image search shows that at one point or another, she has had her hair dyed in every color 067A contains, plus quite a few others, so if I was looking for a substitute for Prism, Cyndi Lauper would be a good one. And if image search results are any indication of reality, historical dandies were not necessarily inclined to vivid color so much as extreme tailoring, cravats, and fur. Dandy also suffers a bit from association with the character in American Horror Story: Freak Show.

So Cyndi Lauper is the only one of the name options that is accurate at all, which I suppose makes the choice easy. Cyndi Lauper it is.


1 Which seems to be normal for the seedlings with this coloration: 107A Nova Prospekt has also only produced one bloom, I think; 083A Psychedelic Bunny has produced one per year for two years. This isn't enough seedlings to draw conclusions from, but I don't like what it's hinting at: that I can have lots of blooms, or complicated hues, but not both.
2 As I write this, on 24 January, there are repeat blooms open on 'Caribbean Dancer' ('Caribbean Dancer' never completely stopped blooming), the NOID white, 027A "Kiln," 082A "Strawberry Madeleine," 030A "Diwali," 021B "Birthday Dinner," 099A "Dessert Room," 099B "Karma Cobra," and some first-time blooms on 003A [name TBD], 058A [name TBD], and 072A [name TBD].
3 Time has not softened my Katy-Perry-related feelings. I admit to enjoying "Last Friday Night," and I can tolerate "Teenage Dream," but "Firework" is the worst earworm for me (to the point where I am a little concerned that it might have been a bad idea for me even to type out the title here), "Roar" and "Dark Horse" make me want to claw my ears off, and I feel like I have to dislike "I Kissed a Girl" and "Hot N Cold" on principle. (I have managed to miss the rest of the Perry oeuvre and ask that you do your part to keep it that way.)
• "I wrote the story myself. It's about a girl who lost her reputation and never missed it."
• "When I'm good, I'm very good, but when I'm bad, I'm better."
• "Good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere."
• "Love thy neighbor -- and if he happens to be tall, debonair and devastating, it will be that much easier."
• "Men are like linoleum floors. Lay 'em right and you can walk all over
them for years."
• "If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself."
• "When choosing between two evils, I always like to try the one I've never tried before."
5 (Ref. Though it's not difficult to find photos of her wearing dark colors, so I'm not sure how true that is. The white/gold apartment thing is confirmed by a first-person account.)

Monday, February 8, 2016

Anthurium no. 0516 "Brooke Enhart"

I'm afraid there isn't a lot to be said about Brooke; she's only produced one bloom so far, which was of pretty lousy quality (small, half-dead, boring color).

The leaves aren't terrible, and the plant overall is fine (or at least fine-ish). It's possible that if I give her a second chance, the next bloom will be better, but she's hard to get excited about. So I won't ask you to. Instead, I had another thought about Cleve Backster's plants-have-feelings theory (previously covered at PATSP in a three-part post: one, two, three) recently, and wanted to bounce it off of you.

By the end of those posts, I had pretty much concluded that the whole "primary perception" thing was less about the emotional life of plants and the deep interconnectedness of all living things, and much more about human egos (particularly but not exclusively Cleve Backster's1). The reader may or may not agree, but that's what it looked like to me.2 The new idea is another bit of support for the all-about-ego hypothesis, which is:

If plants having feelings is evidence for some deep interconnected psychic link between all living things, why do signals from that link only ever go in one direction?

Which is to say, Backster claimed that plants were sensitive3 to the emotions of specific people known to the plant,4 over a relatively short physical distance,5 and they reacted to those emotions6 by altering the conductivity of their tissues.7 He took this to mean that human thoughts and feelings are capable of affecting plants and influencing their consciousness, or whatever the plant equivalent of consciousness is.

But as far as I can tell, Backster never attempted to see whether that worked in the opposite direction, whether something happening to a plant would affect a person. Which if primary perception is about the deep psychic interconnectedness of all life, there's no reason why it shouldn't work the other direction. Life is life, after all. No obvious reason why plant thoughts/feelings/actions shouldn't be just as important as human thoughts/feelings/actions. Backster should have done experiments where a person sat alone in a room, hooked up to a polygraph, reporting their feelings, while someone turned the lights out in another room containing a plant. Or waved caterpillars around near a plant. Insulted and threatened a plant.8 Whatever.

But, you know, I don't feel a sudden pang of irrational terror when I throw a plant into the garbage. I can turn the light off in a room with plants present without suddenly feeling hungry, or tired, or angry, or whatever plants should feel when lights go off. Not once has a panic attack tipped me off to a scale infestation. I don't feel sexually frustrated if a bee flies past the window; I am not terrified by butterflies.9 I can hold a plant upside down for repotting without feeling dizzy.

Why not? Well, it's possible that I am some kind of soulless golem who is forever cut off from the splendor of psychic communication with salads. It's also possible that everybody is theoretically capable of having this kind of response, but we all learn to suppress it over time because if we actually did experience all those feelings 24/7 we would be rendered unable to function, what with all the lawnmowers, forest fires, herbivores, and flower shops around. Not to mention shit like the EcoLog 590D:


So. Uh.

The third installment in the original Cleve Backster series concluded that Backsterism was about ego, in that it gives you credit for everything a cultivated plant in your care does right (it bloomed! It must love me!) without giving you any of the blame for anything that it does wrong (it died! Well, I guess the air was too dry.). This is just another angle on that same idea: primary perception gives you the chance to believe plants feel my pain! I must be really important! without having to believe at the same time I feel plants' pain! They must be really important!


1 Who, according to Wikipedia, died in June 2013. Which we all remember, because that was the month when all everybody's plants freaked out.
2 If you want to disagree with me on the subject here, that's totally fine. I don't mind discussing it. However, if you're going to disagree, please do me the kindness of actually reading the posts in question first.
3 (except when they weren't)
4 (except when the test subjects were people not previously known to the plant)
5 (except when the people having the emotions were hundreds of miles away)
6 (except when they didn't react at all, reacted after a significant time delay, or reacted in advance)
7 (because that was the only thing Backster knew how to measure)
8 ("And your . . . uh, roots. Your roots are so puny. It's a wonder you even know what water is, with roots like that. And your foliage is not a deep and robust green. I bet your stomata are all like, duuuuuhhhhhh, all the time. If I was you, I wouldn't even bloom. You don't need to pass on your genes: you're so weak, all the other plants would grow taller and shade you out, if you were planted in the ground. Algae make fun of you. Pollinators say nasty things about you behind your back," etc.)
9 Butterflies would be a difficult and interesting problem for people studying plant emotions, were anyone still doing so (I'm not aware of it personally, but I assume someone must be: bad ideas never actually go away), since butterflies' and plants' lives are tangled in complicated ways. Some butterflies are pollinators, which the plants should like. But butterflies also lay eggs on plants, which hatch into caterpillars and devour the plants, which the plants should not like. Except that butterflies are usually pretty particular about which plants they lay eggs on, and ignore others. Can the plants distinguish butterflies that intend to eat them or pollinate them from those that would ignore them? And how could we tell the difference between increased electrical conductance caused by excitement at a potential pollination and increased electrical conductance caused by terror of being chewed by caterpillars? So an ideal test of plant feelings about butterflies, and their transference to humans, would be pretty complicated.
(Or, at least, it would be complicated if we assume that plants can tell different butterflies apart. It's possible that plants aren't that smart, in the Backsterverse. I mean, the claim is that they have feelings, not that they're geniuses. Nobody denies that 3-year-old humans have feelings, but we don't put them in charge of butterfly taxonomy, do we?)
10 Which in fact does inspire certain emotions. Admiration for the engineering, dark amusement at the name (I can see how a device like this might actually be ecologically preferable to constructing logging roads and whatever, but it's still hard not to see "EcoLog" as some kind of ironic black humor, given its purpose.), a bit of delight at the -- as a MetaFilter comment had it -- "casual, almost lackadaisical dexterity of the thing," and then, you know, the terror, horror, and revulsion.
Hypocritical terror, horror, and revulsion, 'cause it's not like I don't use lots and lots of paper products. Better tree harvesting than petroleum. And this is probably a tree farm in the first place (how else to explain the uniform spacing and trunk diameter?), so this is all those particular trees were ever destined to be anyway. But still.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Pretty picture: Dendrobium bracteosum f. alba

I hadn't meant to stick two Dendrobiums so close together (last one was only 12 days ago), but they look so different from one another that I feel like it shouldn't count.

The usual form of Den. bracteosum is apparently lavender to pink; some of the more photos that emerge from an image search (e.g.) remind me a bit of crocus, especially the images that lean more to the lavender side of things. I'm less impressed with the white form, but it's possible that that's due to my terrible photo, rather than the plant's inherent inferiority.

Dendrobium bracteosum has a ridiculously long list of synonyms, according to Wikipedia, and I'm not sure what the hell was happening: after being described once in 1886 and christened D. bracteosum, it appears to have been re-named every few years (1894, 1899, 1901, 1910, 1912, 1922, 1923), then in 1983 somebody got all excited and named it four times. Since the same surname is appended to all four of the 1983 botanical names, and that person placed all four in the same genus (Pedilonum), I'm guessing that somebody just really, really wanted to create a new genus from within Dendrobium, but it doesn't appear to have worked; all Pedilonums are still officially Dendrobium as far as I can tell. Curious about why it got so many names, so far apart from one another, but for all I know, that could just be how plant taxonomy worked in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Schlumbergera seedling no. 066

Most notable characteristics of 066A are the slightly unusual color, and the weird rumpled look to the petals. Doesn't make it beautiful, but it maybe qualifies as quirky.

I wound up with 32 possible names from TinEye, and liked seven enough to give them serious consideration. Also threw in two names from the reserve names list, because they kind of fit and why not. So nine options in all. Here we go.

Pterosaur initially seemed kind of workable, but nothing about this flower is smooth enough to evoke the kind of majestic alien soaring that I associate with pterosaurs. Too many petals to serve as wings, and they're pointing in all different directions, sometimes kinked -- I just can't see it, alas.

Daiquiri is also close, but not quite there. For one thing, daiquiris come in a lot of different colors, depending on the fruit involved, and judging from image searches, the closest color match would be the strawberry daiquiri. However, I already have a strawberry name (082 Strawberry Madeleine), as well as a berry name (105A Berry Rhubarb Fool). So plain "Daiquiri" doesn't specify color well enough, and the names that specify color are too close to other names. If I were desperate to keep it in the daiquiri family and still match the color, I could maybe go with Watermelon Daiquiri, but I always imagine daiquiris as light yellow-green anyway. So I can keep the name in mind for later seedlings, but I don't think I'm desperate enough to use it here.

Hydrogen works in that way that certain words and colors go together in my brain (actual hydrogen gas is colorless), but there are other names on the list that work without me having to appeal to my pseudosynesthesia.

The orientation of the flowers in my photos makes the flowers look a little defeated (facing down, petals a little droopy at the ends), which make Rampage and Resistance both seem a little inappropriate, even if the color works.

And now we're at the point where the options stop being easy to eliminate.

Drunk Dancing kind of fits the shape, but I suppose I don't know, from the one flower the seedling has produced so far, whether the blooms are always going to be this shape. Should that matter? Not sure.

The reader-suggested Spicy Coquette works better for me without the "spicy" part, but Coquette is a good name.1 Plus I sort of have a crush on The Coquette, based on her advice blog.

When TinEye gave me Joker, I was pleased, because the bloom shape is a little like that of the jester hats that the jokers in decks of cards usually wear.2

And then Antisocial sort of works with the spiky, slightly off-kilter shape too.

Antisocial is appealing to me, but probably not so much to other people, so I suppose I don't have to keep it. And Drunk Dancing sounds kind of fun and friendly to me, but I don't know how drunk the people you're picturing are; maybe it's not quite as positive in your brain. Plus actual drunkenness is maybe not to be encouraged.

So Joker or Coquette, I suppose. And as much as I think the bloom resembles Joker, I'm feeling more drawn to Coquette, so I'm going with Coquette.


1 Somehow, I got the impression that "coquette" was approximately synonymous with "tramp" or "slut," but the dictionary meaning is "a woman who endeavors without sincere affection to gain the attention and admiration of men," according to Merriam-Webster, which is kind of nice. I suppose the contemporary male counterpart would be "player."
There is probably a contemporary English word corresponding to "coquette," but I'm not going to look for it because I imagine it's probably mean-spirited, if not fully misogynistic. "Coquette" at least sounds classy 'cause it's French.
2 (I looked, but couldn't find a specific name for the hats; everybody seems to just call them "jester hats," which is boring. There should be some special, Old-English-sounding name for them, like "vingabbit" or "roopscock" or something. Maybe I just didn't look long enough.)

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Anthurium no. 0537 "Bridgette of Madison County"

One hundred twenty-eight seedlings have bloomed so far, as I write this, and there is a strong argument to be made that Bridgette is the very worst one. This is the prettiest photo I could get, of the prettiest bloom she's produced so far:

But this is a lot more representative of what Bridgette actually does:

The spathe never opens fully, probably because half of it is brown and dead by the time it's mature enough to try. I've seen thrips on it, though I'm not sure that they're what causes the dead patches on the spathes -- the thrips population has declined since I started blasting the plants with water, but Bridgette's spathes are still coming out partly dead.

Even if the spathe burn could be worked out somehow, the blooms are tiny,1 and not a great color.2 The plant is a relatively fast bloomer, but whatever it might gain in enthusiasm, it loses in follow-through.

The leaves have been variable in quality. Overall, they're better than you'd expect from the blooms, but they don't have any notable positive qualities: not shiny, pleasingly-colored, blemish-free, or large. They do tend to be longer and narrower than average. This one's pretty typical:

And the plant as a whole:

So, yeah. Pretty obviously not a keeper, and in fact probably in a landfill by the time you read this. My hope is that when I recycle the name, Bridgette of Madison County II will be prettier. 'Cause I do really like the name.


1 The scale is hard to determine from my closely-cropped photos, I realize. The bloom in the first photo of this post measures 1 1/8 inches tall by 5/8 inches wide (2.9 cm x 1.6 cm). Average size for one of the Anthurium blooms is roughly 2 inches tall by 1 1/2 inches wide (5.1 x 3.8 cm).
2 In theory there's nothing wrong with a white to light pink spathe coupled with a lavender-pink spadix, I guess; it's not a combination that's appeared in the seedlings before. But combining one really common thing with another really common thing is hard to get excited about, even if the combination's never been seen before.
I mean, I don't think I've ever seen a picture of Michelle Obama eating a pie, but I've seen plenty of pictures of pies, and plenty of pictures of Michelle Obama. I think it's safe to predict that I would not be blown away by an Obama/pie combination, however unprecedented in my experience it might be. More so if the photo were half-burnt and tiny.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Pretty picture: Phragmipedium Sorcerer's Apprentice

We've seen a flower by this name before (2012), but the colors were different then (orange-red in 2012, brown-yellow in 2015), and I don't think the difference can be explained by the lighting or the camera or whatever. I mean, the shapes are different too.

The available online photos suggest that this year's pictures are closer to what the actual registered hybrid looks like than 2012's were. It would then follow that the 2012 pictures were misidentified by me, the exhibitor, or the seller. So what was I taking pictures of in 2012? I suppose we'll never know. (UPDATE: Read the comments. Nycguy knows.)

Anyway. Had some trouble photographing this; the petals are narrow, which makes it difficult to convince the camera's autofocus to pay attention to them. But I got some passable shots anyway, obviously, and it seems like a nice enough flower.

Phragmipedium Sorcerer's Apprentice = Phragmipedium longifolium x Phragmipedium sargentianum (Ref.)

Friday, January 29, 2016

Schlumbergera seedling no. 033

Seedling 033A doesn't have many distinguishing characteristics; it's basically one more in a long series of orange/pink blooms.1 This doesn't make it any less deserving of a name, but it does make it a little bit more difficult to care about the name. So here we go.

TinEye gave me 30 possible names, which I reduced to six, and I considered seven other "emergency" names, but only wound up adding one of those to the list of serious contenders. The themes were "extreme femininity" and "art." I didn't plan it that way. It just happened.

I don't have anything in particular against Stevie Nicks, and she gets points for showing up organically as part of the TinEye search, but I can't say I feel like I've ever really connected with her music.2 Also orange and pink aren't Stevie-Nicksonian colors at all.3 And her involvement in season 3 of American Horror Story didn't improve my opinion of her.4

And there is technically nothing wrong with Miss Nicaragua as a seedling name, but it doesn't sit well with me. I think I'm worried that it would come across as disrespectful of beauty pageant contestants, or Nicaraguans, or something. (I actually have a lot more respect for beauty pageant contestants now than I did, say, a month ago, because I found the Tom and Lorenzo posts discussing the "national costumes" portion of the Miss Universe pageant from this year and there turns out to be a hell of a lot more drag queen / Miss Universe overlap than I would ever have anticipated. Highly, highly recommended. Part one; two; three; and four. Also see: Genevieve Valentine's coverage of the same segment.5)

Femmebomb is, if I understand correctly, the title of some kind of yarn-bombing art-installation sort of thing, or possibly more than one of them. It's really hard to tell. A 2004 Femmebomb has an online installation video at YouTube, though the TinEyed photo is from 2007. Best guess on the 2004 Femmebomb: it appears to be a knit building-cosy, or at least a gesture in the direction of one.6 As a concept, I guess I'm on-board (though I wonder what happens to it when it rains. And autumn when the leaves start to drop is probably no picnic either.), but as a seedling name, I don't think so. Maybe if the flower were a little more obviously girly -- pink, double the number of petals, maybe ruffly petals, something. At best, 033A is a Femmegrenade, not a Femmebomb.

I like Impossible Flag as an idea (the photographer has a series of "impossible flag" images, which mostly appear to be carefully-cropped shots that result in a geometric, vaguely flaglike picture, many of which would probably be pretty easy to convert to an actual flag so I'm not sure how he justifies calling them "impossible"), but as a name I don't think it works very well.

Distant Lights is sort of descriptive, I guess, in a way, somehow. I don't know why it appealed to me in the first place, now that I look at it.

Which leaves us with two: Clueless and Dusty Springfield.

This isn't really the sort of color palette I think of when I think of the movie Clueless; it's hard to imagine Cher putting pink and orange together on purpose, or doing anything with orange at all. But the word feels like it fits the flower pretty well anyway, somehow. I think it could work.

The color palette feels a lot more like Dusty Springfield than seedling 106A did (though the paler bloom fits better than the darker one does), which I guess is why she got dragged in as an emergency name.

So then after briefly thinking wait, maybe Miss Nicaragua would be workable after all, who knows, and deciding against it a second time, for the same reasons, I realized that I like Clueless way better than I like Dusty Springfield, and it turned out not to be much of a contest. Obviously, seedling 033A is Clueless.


1 It's possible that 033 has two distinct seedlings in it -- looking at the photos, there seem to be both a slightly lighter orange/pink with somewhat ragged-tipped wide petals (first two pictures in this post), and a slightly more saturated orange/pink with pointed narrow petals (last two pictures). I can't know for sure until I get several blooms at once, to compare, and that probably won't happen this year.
2 Well, "Landslide." I like "Landslide." But I'm actually more familiar with the Dixie Chicks cover than I am with Stevie Nicks' original. (The Dixie Chicks video, which I hadn't seen until I started writing this post, is terrible, by the way, and should serve as a cautionary tale to all music-video directors: don't do green screen and CGI effects if you don't have the budget to make them look at least a little believable. Unless the director was actually aiming for country-pop-music-video-by-way-of-The-Persistence-of-Memory, in which case the execution was fine, but the concept went horribly wrong.)
For the record: Stevie's version is better, if only for showing some restraint on all the show-offy harmonies. I get that showoffy harmonies are the Dixie Chicks' thing, but hey, Dixie Chicks, know when to throttle back.
And I say this as someone who likes the Dixie Chicks.
3 The first two pages of image searches for her name are approximately 75% black outfits, 24% white, 1% dark gray, and then there's a rounding error of one burnt-orange outfit and one red outfit. The lady likes her black clothing.
4 AHS: Asylum or GTFO, is my feeling. Except for Myrtle (Frances Conroy), who was wonderful, and maybe three of Kathy Bates' lines (Llllllliiiiiiiiiieeeeeeeessssssssssss!), Coven was dull and stupid, with no redeeming qualities, and I am a lesser person for having watched it.
5 Indeed, it's entirely possible that Miss Nicaragua's entry in this year's pageant makes it literally impossible to make fun of Miss Nicaragua. (Also worthy of special mention: Indonesia, British Virgin Islands, Nigeria, Venezuela, Panama, Argentina, Curacao, and Guatemala. Don't misunderstand: I unironically love all of these -- Argentina's is one of the best things I have ever seen -- as well as several of the others that I didn't link to. But what could anyone possibly say to insult or demean one of the outfits that it wasn't already shouting about itself at maximum volume?)
6 (It's possible that only the front of the building is covered.)