Saturday, January 21, 2017

Pretty picture: Paphiopedilum hirsutissimum

I was looking through previous orchid posts for some other previously-posted plant when I ran across a 2011 post about Paphiopedilum esquirolei, and I thought, huh, that looks an awful lot like this year's Paphiopedilum hirsutissimum, I wonder if one or the other was misidentified.

So I looked into it, and it seems that Paph. esquirolei is now officially Paph. hirsutissimum var. esquirolei, a variety "having shorter hairs on the ovary and peduncle and less hairy flowers." (Ref.)

Orchid taxonomy being what it is, this is probably no longer true either, but it looked true last March.

As the name implies, the flowers are covered in tiny hairs (much easier to see in the full-size version of the photo).

Paph. hirsutissimum is native to southeast Asia; I could try to describe the natural range for you, but it's easier on all of us if you just look at the map I found.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Music videos: Shearwater "Quiet Americans," Tricky "Makes Me Wanna Die"

I heard "Quiet Americans" on Welcome to Night Vale (the "weather" for episode 99) a few weeks ago and was immediately obsessed with it. This happens to me every once in a while with music, but it's so rare that it always kind of surprises me.1

So I've been listening to it over and over and over on YouTube2 since, and chanced on a second song that I think pairs nicely with it,3 so here they are together. Maybe you'll like them, maybe you won't. Should maybe warn you that neither are exactly uplifting, go-out-there-and-kick-some-ass sorts of songs, though if you know me at all you wouldn't have been expecting that anyway.

I can't help it
If all the world is ending
If all the life is gone
While you're calling out this name

Where are the Americans?

Your dimmed conscience
Your hands and eyes that wander
Stumbling down the road
Or collapsing on parade

Or lying alone in the eastern light
Sleeping in the morning hours
The only sound
From the lantern-covered hills
The only light
From the day yet to begin
The only sign
Of the guns in silhouette
The only sound
The only light
Only, only

Our dull silence
Our disconnected lives
Pull out the lightning dust
At the mention of his name

Whither the Americans?

Shake the memories off
Hide the evidence under
Piss on the world below
Like a dog that knows his name

Where are the Americans?

All calling on their own tonight
Filling the remaining hours
The only sounds
Are the bells up on the hill
The only lights
Are the lanterns in the wind
The only sign
Skims the rust off of the rails
The only sound
The only light
Only, only

The only light
Is the day yet to begin
The only signs
Are the lives in silhouette
The only sound
Is the rushing of the wind
The only life
Is not the only life
Only, only
Only, only

She makes me wanna die
Follow where Mary goes
(And) cherish the things she knows
Says if I change my stride
Then I'll fly
She makes me wanna die

And change my stride
Then I'll fly

Look to the sun
See me in psychic pollution
Walking on the moon
And how could you dare?
Who do you think you are?
You're insignificant, a small piece, a(n) ism4
No more notice
You try to learn the universe
(And) can't even converse in universe5
You know it's ironic
Smoking hydroponic
She makes me wanna die

And change my stride
Then I'll fly

She makes me wanna die
Follow where Mary goes
(And) cherish the things she knows
Says if I change my stride
Then I'll fly

And change my stride
Then I'll fly

Look to the sun
See me in psychic pollution
(And) walking on the moon
(And) how could you dare?
Who do you think you are?
You're insignificant, a small piece, a(n) ism
No more notice
You try to learn the universe
(And) can't even converse in universe5
You know


1 On the off chance that you might be looking for something to think about besides what everyone else is thinking about today, I've collected a group of YouTube links for your listening enjoyment. I don't guarantee that they'll necessarily make your day any better, but the Soweto Gospel Choir and "Electric Lady" are at least really damned likely to help. Those feeling fragile of mood may also appreciate "Det Snurrar I Min Skalle," "Freedom 90," Bad Lip Reading, and Rich White Ladies.
As music I really really like tends to show up on the blog one way or another, you may remember seeing some of these here before:

• Lady Gaga "Bad Romance"
• Siouxie and the Banshees "Kiss Them For Me"
• Dolly Parton "Hard Candy Christmas"
• Lorde "Tennis Court" / "Royals"
• Vienna Teng "Hymn of Acxiom"
• Familjen "Det Snurrar I Min Skalle"
• DJ Tripp "Run This Firefly" (mashup)
• Pet Shop Boys "What Have I Done To Deserve This?"
• Goldfrapp "A&E"
• Bad Lip Reading "Russian Unicorn" and "(Rockin') All Night Long"
• George Michael "Freedom 90"
• Rich White Ladies "No Bad Vibez" / "Wimbledon" / "White Powder Perm"

And in the last couple months, prior to discovering Shearwater, I've been listening to these a lot:
• Tori Amos "Sweet the Sting"
• The Smiths "How Soon Is Now?"
• Sinead O'Connor "Fire on Babylon" / "Daddy I'm Fine"
• B-52s "Roam" (the video's a little yeesh, though)
• Dixie Chicks "Not Ready To Make Nice" / "Goodbye Earl"
• Luscious Jackson "Naked Eye"
• Chvrches "Bury It" ft. Hayley Williams
• the whole video for the Soweto Gospel Choir NPR Tiny Desk Concert
• Tori Amos cover of "Rattlesnakes" (originally Lloyd Cole and the Commotions) and "Time" (originally Tom Waits)
• Radiohead "Burn The Witch" / "Let Down"
• Amy Grant "What About the Love"
• Dan Wright cover of "Hide and Seek" (originally Imogen Heap)
• Mike Masse and Jeff Hall cover of "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" (originally Elton John) and "Africa" (originally Toto)
• Depeche Mode "Home" / "Shake the Disease"
• Miranda Lambert "Mama's Broken Heart"
• Gusgus "Within You"
• Janelle Monae "Electric Lady" / "Q.U.E.E.N." ft. Erykah Badu / "Sincerely, Jane"
• Tricky "Christiansands"
• Clams Casino "I'm God"
• Mike Morasky, Portal 2 soundtrack "I Made It All Up"
2 Pending actual purchase of the album on a physical CD, which I do because I am uncool. This has to be a 2-album purchase, done through the Barnes & Noble website, though, and I am having a terrible time coming up with a second album to buy with it. Throw some suggestions back at me if you feel like it.
3 Not necessarily in the sense of having anything to do with it musically or thematically. I just like the way the one sounds after the other.
4 (I always heard "that is of," but some lyrics sites have it as "an ism," and I admit that it sure does sound like that's what she's saying even if my version makes more sense in context of the following line.)
5 (Some lyrics sites record it as "human verse" the first time and "universe" the second, but I'd always heard it as "universe" both times, and I think I still do.)

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 211

Seedling 211A is squarely in the orange-to-red space where most of the other seedlings have been. It's pretty, but not especially new. The most interesting thing about it is that there's a hint of magenta on one of the lowest petals, in one of the pictures I got. A few of the new blooms this year were doing that, but I'm not sure why.

In any case. The four names I'm considering are: Bruce Lee, Deimos, Free Kesha, and Miss Emma. Let the decision-making begin!

Bruce Lee, obviously, is the martial artist / cultural icon / actor.

Deimos is the Greek god of terror. (Wikipedia suggests that "god" is maybe a bit much -- more the personification of terror, specifically the terror of war. A symbol in dudely form, but not a dude.)

Free Kesha is a reference to pop singer Kesha's ongoing legal battle with her label over whether she's required to work with a man ("Dr. Luke") who she claims raped and drugged her -- repeatedly -- in order to produce any further songs or albums. She says she shouldn't have to because, hello, sexual assault; Dr. Luke says he did no such thing; the label says no way is she getting out of her contract; the whole thing is more complex because she had previously stated in a sworn deposition in 2011 that he hadn't done the things she's now accusing him of; she says she made false statements then because she was afraid of him. And this has been going on for years now: she's still writing and making new music but it apparently can't be released until / unless she's let out of the contract. My personal take -- not that you asked -- is that obviously she should be let out of the contract, and if Sony really wants to be assholes about it they could include a financial penalty in the settlement but whatever, even if she is lying, there's something awfully fucked up about Sony's contracts if they would force an artist to work with a producer who raped her; i.e., the contract is obviously not humane to begin with and consequently shouldn't be enforced.

And I don't even like Kesha. Though I imagine the whole thing is more complicated than that.1

Anyway. Miss Emma is one of those names that honor someone personally meaningful to me but that I'd prefer not to get too specific about; all I'll say is that it's color-appropriate.

Feeling like Deimos is maybe a little too on the nose for our present historical moment. Not inappropriate, but I already struggle to keep the present historical moment from invading my every waking thought, and probably don't need more reminders.

And Free Kesha, though sincerely meant, runs the risk of new information completely changing my opinion on the situation. I mean, I'm not sure what information could make me think you know what, never mind, don't free Kesha, it's cool the way it is, but I don't have all the information, just feelings and a rough outline of the situation, and that small chance of everything getting turned upside down in the future is enough to scare me off of the name.

So Bruce Lee or Miss Emma, then, is the decision, and I find that it's mostly a question of how I feel about Bruce Lee. Which I can't quite determine, to be honest. I know who he is (surely everyone reading this knows who he is?2), but I don't know that much about him personally. Not for lack of trying -- I even went so far as to check a Bruce Lee biography out of the library a few days ago.3 The worst I've been able to come up with is a Yahoo Answers page claiming (without sources) that he was abusive to his wife and son, but I've seen houseplant-related answers on Yahoo Answers that were so wrong it all but curled my hair, so if anything, that makes me all the more convinced that he was probably an okay guy. If you've got information to the contrary, by all means let me know, but at least for the moment, I'm going to postpone Miss Emma (it's not like there won't be more red-orange flowers in the future) and go with Bruce Lee for 211A.


1 "It's obviously more complicated than that" is becoming my automatic thought whenever I see a fucked-up situation and wonder well why don't they just do ______. Because it usually is more complicated than that. (The complication, when investigated further, is basically always money.)
Also I should maybe soften that to "I don't like the music of Kesha's that I'm familiar with." As far as I can tell, I have no problem with her personally. In fact, what little I've run across makes me think she's probably pretty cool, personally.
2 It's time to face the fact that I no longer have any idea what Millennials know and what they don't know. I have a twentysomething brother who wasn't familiar with Boy George (!) until the husband and I sat him down and made him watch "Karma Chameleon." He was home-schooled, from Christian textbooks, but even so, you'd think that there'd be a chapter about, I dunno, the godless gays lurking around every corner. With some reference photos of Boy George, RuPaul, John Waters, the Indigo Girls, etc., for easier recognition.
Perhaps I should start an online cultural exchange program for dangerously sheltered Millennials, where I introduce and discuss stuff like Heathers (which happened to be highly significant in my personal de-sheltering process), Dolly Parton, Sinead O'Connor, Eraserhead and/or Mulholland Drive, The Handmaid's Tale, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Pedro Almodovar, etc., and they in turn introduce me to whatever the hell it is Millennials like. (With my brother, this has so far been Rick and Morty, The Room, and Monster Factory.)
3 It was not useful. It appears to have been written by his wife for an audience of 8th graders, so the odds of learning Bruce Lee's dark secrets, or hearing anything negative about the man at all, are slim. It also happens to be deathly boring, and has surely been responsible for many terrible book reports since its publication.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pretty picture: Rhyncattleanthe Hsinying Catherine 'Dogashima'

Supposedly fragrant, but as usual, I can't verify that.

The internet failed to give me much interesting information on this one; the most interesting comment I ran across was "to be pronounced at one's own risk," which maybe I've just been doing this too long but I don't see anything especially difficult in the name, long and unfamiliar though it is. Is it not, "RIN-kat-lee-ANN-thee SIN-ying KATH-ur-inn doh-guh-SHE-muh?" 'Cause that's how I pronounce it in my head.1

Doesn't do much for me one way or another, but sure, it's fine, whatever.

Rhyncattleanthe Hsinying Catherine = Cattleya Fair Catherine x Rhyncattleanthe Love Sound (Ref.)


1 The site has it as a Brassolaeliocattleya, instead of a Rhyncattleanthe, which seems even easier, pronunciation-wise: BRASS-o-LAY-lee-o-KAT-lee-uh.
I looked for an official pronunciation for Rhyncattleanthe on-line and found a page that has a lot of orchid genus pronunciations on it; they say I have it wrong, that it's either (rin-KAT-lee-AN-thee) or (rin-kat-lee-AN-thee). I'm pretty sure I was close enough for casual conversation.
And as I've said previously, it's dumb to let yourself get too hung up on trying to pronounce botanical names correctly, either as a novice scared to make the attempt for fear of getting it wrong or as an expert chastising novices for errors. Make the attempt. If someone else has a pronunciation that seems more reasonable than the one you're using, switch; if not, keep doing what you're doing. And if someone gets all superior with you about pronunciations and tries to make you feel stupid, punch 'em in the dick and move on.
(Punching someone else is assault, and you shouldn't do it. I've just been looking for an excuse to link the video for a long time now. Should have known it'd come up in the context of orchids.)