Friday, August 4, 2017

Anthurium no. 1224 "Perry Watkins"

Perry's a pretty good seedling; the most interesting thing to me is the way the spadix changes colors as the inflorescence ages. On first opening, the spadix is orange,

(9 May 2017)

then it becomes white and pink:

(19 May 2017)

It's not the most dramatic shift, and neither color is unprecedented,1 but red/orange, red/pink, and red/white are all relatively rare combinations, so it's neat to see a seedling do all three. It also looks like it might be an obake bloom,2 and obakes are slightly more interesting to me than solid-colored spathes, so that's a point in its favor as well.

The foliage is pretty good -- longer, larger, and narrower than average, and only slightly thrips-damaged.

So Perry's a keeper.

The real-life Perry Watkins isn't primarily known for performing in drag, though he did (as "Simone"); he's known for winning a court case against the United States Army, because they revoked his security clearance in 1981 because of his sexual orientation.

This even though they knew his sexual orientation: in 1968 when they drafted him, in 1970 when he reenlisted, in 1972 when they considered removing him from service (but decided against it because they considered his own admission of homosexuality insufficient evidence that he was gay3), in 1974 when they allowed him to enlist again, in 1975 when they considered expelling him (but concluded that he was too good of a soldier to let go), and in 1979 when they allowed him to enlist for a fourth time. And presumably they also knew in 1971 or 1972 when he was performing in drag at shows sponsored by the U.S. Army, first in West Germany and then later in other clubs for enlisted men around Europe. But for some reason, it was suddenly a thing in 1981.

Long story short, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 1988 that this was bullshit, and the Supreme Court declined to review the case so the Ninth Circuit's decision stood. Watkins had intended to enlist yet again (he was going for 20 years of service, the point at which you get a pension upon retirement) but instead wound up settling with the Army for: $135,000 in back pay (not quite $250,000 in 2017 dollars), full retirement benefits, an honorable discharge from the Army, and a retroactive promotion to sergeant first class.

Watkins has since died (in 1996, in his late 40s,4 of complications related to AIDS).

I've barely scratched the surface of his story; there's more detail in the above links. Watkins is also covered quite a bit in Randy Shilts' book Conduct Unbecoming: Gays and Lesbians in the U.S. Military (1994, St. Martin's Press), according to Wikipedia.

Watkins is also unexpectedly timely these days, as the same logic used to support his case against the Army in Watkins v. United States Army -- that it would be unjust to exclude a soldier who had specifically been encouraged to stay and serve in the army over something the Army already knew about him -- would probably also apply to excluding transgendered military personnel now.5

[NOTE: It's possible I've gotten some things wrong here; I knew literally nothing about Watkins until yesterday afternoon,6 and I've written this in a hurry besides. If you see factual errors, or have particularly good sources of information about Watkins, please let me know.]


1 0842 Pretty Punasti does basically the same thing, though Pretty's spathe is more of a brown-red; Perry's is just red.
2 Obake (Japanese for "ghost" or "change") are Anthurium varieties in which the spathe has one color near the center (white, red, orange, coral, or pink), with green at the spathe tip, "ears," or all the way around the margin. Obakes frequently also produce very large spathes, and are often vertically elongated. You can see several photos of obakes on this page. Production is variable; young plants will often produce solid-colored spathes initially, and begin producing obake spathes on maturity. There's also a seasonal component, with obake spathes more likely to happen in winter and spring.
I'm not sure where the obake trait would be coming from; I had an orange obake ('Florida') for a long time, but it never produced berries, and I never saw any pollen on it either, so I don't think its genes are present in any of my seedlings. I think my NOID pink with large spathes was 'Pandola,' which is an obake, though the photos of 'Pandola' available online don't show a lot of green coloration, just a thin edge of green along the "ears." It's also possible that my NOID red was an obake type, though I don't have photo confirmation of any green coloration on the spathes.
As best as I can remember, none of the first-generation seedlings were obakes; several seedlings in the second generation have a little green along the ears, like 'Pandola.' (Most notably and obviously 1268 Li'l Miss Hot Mess and 1299 Sinthia D Meanor, but also 1209 Raven Samore Holiday, 1213 Miss Foozie, and 1300 Gia Sunflowers. Nothing very striking so far, but the coloration is supposed to develop with age.
3 (!)
4 Wikipedia says he was 47; the New York Times says 48.
5 Twitter proclamations do not, it turns out, have the force of law. Not yet, anyway. So transgendered service members are still part of the military, if maybe slightly more nervous about it than they were a few months ago.
6 His was just one more name in a long list of drag queens somewhere; I almost skipped looking him up.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Anthurium no. 1217 "Charles Ludlam"

Seedling "Charles Ludlam" is from the DV seedling group (started 10 June 2015, from berries collected from the NOID red). It turns out that its inflorescence is the least interesting of the DV seedlings. So, I mean, we can look at Charles,

but I'm not sure if he's a keeper. The strongest argument in favor of holding on to him is the new foliage, which is a pretty vivid red-brown or red-orange, depending on your viewing angle:

The leaves do sustain a lot of thrips damage, though,

and when there isn't a new leaf in development, the plant isn't very interesting:

So I'm not sure what I'll do in this particular case. In the meantime, we can look forward to the other DV seedlings (1203 Peaches West, 1220 Mario Montez, 1224 Perry Watkins, 1299 Sinthia D Meanor, 1300 Gia Sunflowers, and 1301 Symphony Alexander-Love) which are not only surprisingly diverse in color but also includes the one with the very strangest and least expected color I've gotten from the seedlings yet. (Which I spoiled for you a while ago, but I have more and better photos now than I did then, as well as a second bloom, so that post should still be at least a little interesting once it happens.)

Monday, July 31, 2017

Anthurium no. 1256 "Mr. Completely"

There's basically nothing about this seedling that's interesting, but let me try anyway. If I can't come up with anything then I'll talk about some other subject. (Which won't be interesting either, but by then it will be too late for you not to read it.)

Pink / pink. Has bloomed at least twice while still in a 3-inch pot, so points for enthusiasm. Not-great foliage, though I guess the plant is at least fairly compact so far.

It's in the same sibling group as 1153 Tintim. (As predicted, I've thrown Tintim away; it wasn't re-rooting, and had wilted completely.) Tintim and Mr. Completely are the only seedlings from the CQ seedling group to have bloomed so far; there are four remaining CQ seedlings (1149 Nicole Murray-Ramirez, 1155 Glitter Monster,1 1167 Lucy Balls, 1307 Electra Lites), and my expectations for them are obviously pretty low.

Anyway. Not the worst thrips damage ever, but the seedling was already not getting a lot right, so the scarring doesn't help its chances. Pretty clearly a discard.

And I guess I can do a Japanese beetle update; I've seen some indications that this is maybe just an unusually bad year for Japanese beetles in Iowa, that it's not just my yard and my plants. Which isn't exactly reassuring,2 but it makes me feel less singled-out, at least. I haven't been counting the beetles as I collect them, because it's sometimes difficult to tell how many I've gotten, but I've been visually estimating the numbers by looking at the jar when I'm done, and from the estimates, I think I've killed about 4300 beetles so far in July.3

I have not yet attempted the neem oil. Still considering it, but it has two really big disadvantages: one, all I have to apply it with is a single mister which maybe holds a quart at best; I would need to stop and refill it often, assuming that my index finger would survive that much misting, and two, the neem oil has warnings all over it about how you shouldn't use it on plants that are in direct sunlight, shouldn't spray it on hot days, and so forth. So to make it work, I'd have to go out at dawn or dusk to do the spraying. (I still might try it on a section of the Cannas, to see whether it makes any difference, and use the results of that to decide whether or not it's worth spraying the rest of them, but I may not be able to get the timing to work out.)

I've also considered buying some Japanese beetle pheromone traps. I know everybody says you're not supposed to buy they traps, because they just attract more beetles to your property than would otherwise be there, and you'll attract more beetles than the traps manage to kill. Thing is, I'm not sure I'd be able to tell the difference: there are so many of them here already that I kind of wonder whether the Cannas aren't already functioning as beetle attractors. In which case, I might as well bring in an attractor that will kill the damn things, too. I mean, probably not going to, because I don't want to see what a worse beetle problem would look like (plus there are the neighbors' gardens to consider -- a trap that attracted beetles to my yard would also bring beetles to theirs), but I've thought about it.


1 Glitter Monster isn't my favorite drag queen name ever -- that's probably always going to be Estée Lauder Harder Faster -- but it's way up there.
2 As far as I know, nothing here eats them, so in my darker moments it's easy to imagine them returning in greater and greater numbers every year until they consume literally all of the plants. Or at least all of the plants they're willing to eat, which since that includes a couple common weeds (I've seen them eating Chenopodium album and Abutilon theophrasti here this summer, though they overwhelmingly prefer the Cannas), they'll always be able to find something to eat. I think they've even been experimenting with the crabgrass lately, which surprises me.
Between the thrips, scale, and Japanese beetles, I'm beginning to think that there's no point to enjoying the cultivation of plants at all.
Maybe I should look into collecting stamps; stamp collectors always seem like they're having a good time.
3 (As of 30 July.)
1000 of those on July 29 alone. Every other year, they've appeared everywhere for about 1 or 2 weeks and then they disappear. Why aren't they going away this year?