Saturday, March 25, 2017

Pretty picture: Bulbophyllum mastersianum

I like the whole pretend-daisy (or Gerbera, Gazania, or whatever it's trying to do) thing, though I feel like it could be trying a little harder to do a full circle of flowers. Only the insects without any standards are going to bother with 75% of a flower. Have some self-respect, Bulbophyllum mastersianum.

I'm kidding, of course.

No insects have standards.

There was a Bulbophyllum mastersianum in 2014 as well, which is possibly even the same specimen. I mean, the 2016 one was bigger, but of course the 2016 one would be bigger than it was in 2014. So maybe.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Anthurium no. 0892 "Eddie Izzard"

Hey there. It's been a while since I did an Anthurium seedling post. I have several reasons for this, the main one being that I was getting pretty sick of the Anthurium seedlings. They hadn't been doing anything terribly interesting, and then there were the ghost mites / Xanthomonas / thrips / scale, and it seemed easier to just say, hey, screw the Anthuriums, I don't even like them anymore.

But, the feeling passed lessened, and 19 more Anthurium seedlings have bloomed since 1095 Carolina Pineforest hundreds of years ago,1 some of which are actually doing new and interesting things. So the blog is probably not ending for a few more months still, though if you haven't found the last couple months interesting, you're probably not going to get excited about the next couple either: it's all Schlumbergera and Anthurium seedlings from here on. Which I'll try to make worth your time, but you already know sometimes it's not gonna be. So plan accordingly.

Anyway. 0892 Eddie Izzard isn't one of the interesting seedlings, but he's an interesting celebrity, so he gets a pass.

A long time ago, I followed a link to Aisha Tyler's2 podcast, Girl on Guy,3 and it turned out to be a good thing to listen to while trying to wash dirty pots in the bathtub,4 so I wound up listening to a bunch of them. And one of the things I found unexpectedly fascinating about Tyler is that, especially at first, the people she was getting on the show were other stand-up comics, and stand-up comics who became TV stars, those being the kinds of people she knew, and so inevitably there was some discussion of stand-up comedy.

The actual life of a stand-up is not very interesting -- travel, hotel, do the show, sleep, more travel, new hotel, do the show, sleep, etc. -- but they occasionally got into talking about what it's like to do the actual work. How do you come up with a set? What do you do when you're in front of an audience who is just not enjoying you? If you come up with new material, how can you try it out to see whether it works, without risking losing your whole audience? Etc.

As a result, I've been gradually getting into stand-up. Watching specials on Netflix, with an eye toward how different comics build their jokes, and their sets. What topics do they talk about? What makes, say, an Amy Schumer joke different from a Steven Wright joke, or a Louis C.K. joke?5 When a batch of jokes isn't working for me, why doesn't it work? Why do some old comedy routines still seem fresh and funny now, and others seem horribly dated and/or offensive? Etc. Not saying I have mad stand-up critiquing skillz or anything, but it's something I find really interesting, trying to understand how it works.

The point of mentioning this is that, although I guess he's not still doing it, Eddie Izzard's stand-up was fantastic. What I like about it the most is that there's very little meanness in it. Here's a sample:

Not only are none of those jokes particularly mean,6 but Izzard is a fucking genius at inventing characters from almost nothing. Some context, body language, tone of voice, and careful word choices, and suddenly there's a conversation going on between multiple people. And it's funny. He's amazing.

If you haven't seen it before and can track down a copy somewhere, Izzard's 1998 special Dress To Kill (the source of the "cake or death" bit) is well worth your time. (1997's Glorious is also great.) I found a copy of Dress To Kill on YouTube that I was going to include here, but it got taken down, alas, so you'll have to track down your own.

Anyway. Izzard isn't a drag queen (as he explains early in Dress To Kill, he prefers "executive transvestite"), but I figure close enough for seedling naming.

The seedling isn't great, alas. Fairly small blooms, boring color. The leaves would be okay without the thrips,

but lately it's been looking like the seedling has a Xanthomonas problem: I keep seeing occasional spots like the one on the back leaf in this photo:

That's not how Xanthomonas normally manifests,7 which is why I haven't thrown out the seedling yet, but I'm probably going to eventually. Even if the spots are fine, the flowers aren't anything special, and I only have so much space.

Anyway. So go do your homework. Or don't.


1In order of blooming:
0892 Eddie Izzard
0789 Marsha P. Johnson
0802 Dana International
1145 Jimmy James
0813 Arya Reddy
0929 Asia Persuasia
1271 Boy Child
0915 Parker MacArthur
0648 Bianca Del Rio
0378 Annie Thingeaux
0771 Nina Flowers
1181 Tajma Stetson
0473 Margo Howard-Howard
0696 Jessica Wild
1447 Daesha Richards
0779 Hollee Luja
0910 Aria B. Cassadine
1268 Li'l Miss Hot Mess
1452 Chastity Vain
2 Who you may know from such hits as Archer, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, Ghost Whisperer, CSI, BoJack Horseman, and Criminal Minds. As well as her stand-up comedy specials and probably fifty other things. She's very busy.
3 Not a good name for a podcast -- not only misleading as to its contents, but also a little risky to search for on-line.
4 'Cause you can't just re-use a pot for a plant without cleaning it, or at least you shouldn't be if the reason you have the dirty pot is because a plant died in it. And since I have a lot of plants, that leads, over time, to having a lot of dirty pots to wash. Which means that pot-cleaning is a huge ordeal that takes all day -- often multiple days -- to get through, and it's intensely boring to just stand there trying to scrub mineral buildup off of a thousand pots with plastic scrubby brushes and razor blades. Therefore: podcasts.
5 Among other things: an Amy Schumer joke is about 1000% more likely to make a reference to human papillomavirus (HPV) infection.
While I'm here: the husband and I were really disappointed by Schumer's "Leather Special" on Netflix. And then I looked around on-line and became disappointed about being disappointed, because she's apparently been targeted by internet trolls, who are trying to flood Netflix and Reddit with one-star reviews, because I guess trying to wreck Amy Schumer's career is entertaining. (I don't know why trolls do anything; it's not going to wreck her career.)
But the problem is, it just wasn't that great. And it's not easy to pinpoint exactly why and how stand-up goes wrong (it's often easier to look at good stand-up and see what's going right), but my overall impression was: she was drifting into self-parody. I agree basically 100% with the LA Times review, in particular "Ironically, the dirtier it gets, the less daring it feels." The things that worked for the Times worked for me too, so I feel like it wasn't just that I was in a bad mood or whatever: it just wasn't great. Which I feel bad about saying, what with the one-star-rating campaign and all (and I certainly wouldn't give it one star. Probably three? Two and a half?), but: she's done better work.
The crazy part is that right after Schumer, we watched Katherine Ryan's In Trouble, which if you can get through the kinda rough first five minutes or so is kind of amazing. Like, once she gets rolling, not only is she doing material that's really funny, she's doing it in a really complicated way. The last ten minutes or so is . . . like watching someone set up and knock down one of those gigantic 100,000 domino constructions. There's also a joke involving Joan Rivers in the middle of the show, that works on three or four levels at once (at least two of which are funny). It's fascinating.
Schumer doesn't tend to get that complicated; her jokes are usually more blunt. Lots of paraprosdokians, like the first joke in this video:

(That's also a good example of Schumer making a decent joke and then topping it with an even better one right after "Like I know where I'm gonna be in three years, right?"), which she does a lot. Schumer also likes to say a sentence, then mumble something that undercuts it, like the "No, he's cute, he is. He looks like one of the guys from The Hills . . . Have Eyes." at 3:20. The word choice isn't maybe surgically precise there, but the timing is fantastic. (Her timing in Amy Schumer: The Leather Special is still fantastic; it's the material that was the problem.)
And yes, I realize that analyzing humor is a good way to ruin it, but it's so interesting, though.
If you're interested in comparative standup analysis and can watch Netflix or YouTube or both, check out:
Iliza Shlesinger: Freezing Hot (YouTube),
Ali Wong: Baby Cobra (YouTube),
Hannibal Burress: Comedy Camisado (YouTube),
Maria Bamford: The Special Special Special (YouTube),
• Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic (YouTube)
• Ellen DeGeneres: The Beginning (YouTube)
Katherine Ryan: In Trouble,
Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, and the most technically impressive routine I've ever seen from any comic ever, to the point where it might not even be fair to call it standup --
Bo Burnham: what. (YouTube) (Make Happy is also good, in a similar way, but if you only have time for one, watch "what.")
And then we'll get together and pick them apart talk about them. (Probably none of these are safe for work. Bo Burnham is definitely not.)
And yeah, I realize that's kind of light on the men. The reason is that men aren't funny.
6 (though I suppose fans of Hitler and the Austro-Hungarian empire might reasonably a little offended)
7 (I usually see yellowing spots on the margins first, not dark spots with yellow halos in the main body of the leaves. Though I suppose that spot in the photo is still pretty close to the leaf margin.)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 240

Seedling 240 was actually the last of the three second-generation1 Schlumbergeras to bloom, but it somehow wound up first in the queue for blog posts. It's also the worst of the three, based on its one bloom to date:

239A is a well-shaped, soft orange flower, and bloomed several times. 244A is unexpectedly red/pink, and also well-shaped. Neither are reaching new pinnacles of Schlumbergera achievement, but they're at least nice, normal flowers. 240A? I suppose it has the darker marginal pigmentation going on, which is nice, but the shape is weird, it only produced one bloom, and the color is the most common combination of colors in all the seedlings. So.

Name finalists: A Crack In Everything, Quick Regression, Schwa, and Unsupervised.

A Crack In Everything is a phrase from Leonard Cohen's song "Anthem," the full chorus of which goes "Ring the bells that still can ring / Forget your perfect offering / There is a crack in everything / That's how the light gets in." I'm not one of them, but some people find those last two lines heartening or encouraging or something.2 And it seems kind of appropriate, as a name for a seedling which is maybe slightly wonky.

Quick Regression is just a reference to the seedling not improving on its seed parent.3 Plus also just feeling timely.

Schwa is the vowel. That "uh" sound, like the A in "about" or the I in "pencil." Usually not stressed, and it's very common in English. I suppose it serves a function, but it's not melodious, not the sort of vowel Mariah Carey's going to hold a high note on or anything. In elementary school, when I learned about the schwa, I became weirdly fond of it, both for its symbol (ə) and for its name.4 I figure a placeholdery vowel is a natural fit for a placeholdery seedling.

And then Unsupervised. I'm not sure where Unsupervised came from.5 Maybe a reference to the fact that I wasn't paying attention to the cross I made, so I don't know what pollen parent helped create the seedling? And then the flower itself looking kind of half-assed? I don't know.

So. Not crazy about Unsupervised and don't even know why it's on the list, so I'll drop that. And A Crack In Everything is pretty long: even if I didn't feel weird about the song I took it from, it'd have that going against it.6

So Quick Regression or Schwa? Since I only have the one flower to go on, and sometimes the later blooms are different from the earlier ones, Quick Regression seems risky. I expect the later blooms will all be orange and pink, but not necessarily bad. Plus Schwa is a lot shorter to type, and will fit the seedling regardless of what it does in the future.

So for better or worse, this one's officially 240A Schwa.


1 (The seed parent was 025A Clownfish.)
2 Wait, Mr. S. -- what's wrong with "that's how the light gets in?"
I don't know, exactly? I mean, I've spent a while thinking about it, and I can't pin it down. I don't have a problem with the idea of everything being flawed in some way or another; that doesn't seem particularly depressing. And I understand how light entering something is, or at least can be, a positive symbol. It's possible that I'm just so literal-minded that I can't help but mentally add well, yes, and that's also how the mice get in, and the water, and the dust, and the mold spores. . . .
Though that doesn't feel quite right either. I don't know. I'm just not reassured.
3 Presumably also its pollen parent, but I don't know what its pollen parent was, so technically I can't be sure.
4 Possibly just the novelty of the consonant cluster "schw," which is apparently very common in German, but isn't something I ran into a lot as a kid, outside of maybe the occasional "Schwartzenegger." (Later, there would also be "schwing," and various German surnames, but schwa and schwing are the only English schw- words I can think of that aren't proper nouns. I really wish English would borrow some good Aztec words so we could get a few tl- blends in the mix; I'm unsure whether Aztlán is in common enough use to count, but it and quetzalcoatl are the only candidates I can think of.)
I wouldn't have been able to tell you in elementary school that I enjoyed unusual consonant clusters, of course. But obviously I can tell you now. Hell, this isn't even the first time the subject's come up this month: remember Svarog and svelte?.
5 The naming process is very complicated, with a lot of moving parts you never see because they are tedious and boring. Basically, I
A) generate a bunch of possible names from stuff like the random-words list, rejecting a lot of the word combos as obviously terrible, boring, or nonsensical, then
B) pick several names from the list of possible names that I think might actually suit the seedling under consideration, rejecting most of the possible names as a bad match, then
C) whittle those several names down to the four that seem best-suited to the seedling, and finally
D) actually choose one of the names, which is the only part you actually see.
All four stages are going on all the time, for different seedlings, which means that sometimes by the time I get to step D, I no longer remember what I was thinking when I let a name pass from step B to C.
6 And really it ought to be There Is A Crack In Everything, that being the full line. But the full line is 30 characters long and therefore unusable.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Pretty picture: Rhyncattleanthe Mary Weiss (?)

Yet another roller-coaster in trying to track down an orchid name.

So. The tag said "C Mary Weiss." The International Orchid Registry doesn't have a Cattleya Mary Weiss, but it does have a Rhyncattleanthe Mary Weiss. So I was like, cool, problem solved.

And then I looked for photos of this orchid in previous years, as I do, and found one from the 2013 show that looks nothing like this. Where this one is mostly white, with a lavender / orange / magenta labellum, the other Rhyncattleanthe Mary Weiss is mostly pink, shading into coral or orange here and there, and then with a pink / coral / orange / magenta lip.

So, great. While it's possible, I guess, that they could be very different seedlings from the same grex (and it's worth noting that the shape of the flowers is almost exactly the same in both cases, whatever the colors might be), I wanted to find confirmation that the grex had that much range in color. So I went searching.

Which is how I discovered that Rhyncattleanthe Mary Weiss is completely ogooglebar. Why? Well, both "Mary" and "Weiss" are common enough names that there are lots of people by the name "Mary Weiss," which would be a problem in any case, but more particularly, one of the singers in The Shangri-Las is named Mary Weiss. So a first search for Mary Weiss will get you more than you ever wanted to know about "Leader of the Pack,"

but nothing about orchids.

Okay, you're thinking, so just search for "Mary Weiss orchid," or maybe "Rhyncattleanthe Mary Weiss," then.

If only it were so easy, because there's a Mary Weiss who was famously big into orchids, presumably the Mary Weiss that this grex is named for. So any search of "Mary Weiss orchid" gets you stories about Mary Weiss' love of orchids, and "Rhyncattleanthe Mary Weiss" yields every web page where Mary Weiss and Rhyncattleanthe are both mentioned. Of which there are many. Because Mary Weiss was super into orchids. Plus of course some percentage of the information about the grex would have the plant listed under the obsolete name Cattleya Mary Weiss instead.

Presumably, it would be possible to get to images of Rhyncattleanthe Mary Weiss if you're already in an orchid photo database, but I don't actually have one of those bookmarked (partly because I've been unimpressed with the quality of the ones I've seen -- they generally have lots of names but are not so good with photos).

Rhyncattleanthe Mary Weiss = Rhyncattleanthe Memoria Christine Sineni x Rhyncholaeliocattleya George King (Ref.)

I did manage to locate a large group of photos of pollen parent Rhyncholaeliocattleya George King last March when I was preparing these posts, at, but even that was a pain in the ass, because changed into at some point over the last year so my initial link was broken and I had to search for to find In any case, the range of colors of George King (variously white, pink, yellow, coral, lavender, or orange, if the photos are to be believed) makes it plausible that Mary Weiss might be similarly variable, so there's a good chance that this plant and the 2013 plant are in fact from the same grex and are both properly called Mary Weiss. I would check the Mary Weiss photos on for myself, except that there are no photos on the Mary Weiss page. Because of course there aren't. And there doesn't seem to be anything about the seed parent, Rhyncattleanthe Memoria Christine Sineni, anywhere on the internet either.

So I'm basically left to throw my hands in the air and just say I don't know if this is correctly identified. It may be correct to call this plant and the 2013 plant Rhyncattleanthe Mary Weiss, and if forced to guess, I'd guess that these are both Mary Weiss, but that's me gambling on orchid show tags being reliable. And if we've learned nothing in the last seven years, it's that orchid show tags are not reliable.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 127

Another white one with a hint of pink. As I write this (9 March), there are six white seedlings total,1 as well as a likely seventh and eighth in bud.2 It's nice to have a new color to think about, for the name possibilities, but it'd be even nicer if they didn't all look more or less the same.

Name finalists for seedling 127A: 14th Anniversary, Cooperating Banjos, Pegasus, There Goes The Bride.

Does anyone still pay attention to the traditional anniversary gifts? I guess someone must, because it was easy to find a year-by-year list. Traditionally, in the U.S., the 14th anniversary is for ivory. I'd considered 14th Anniversary for the orange/white3 seedling 200A Breakin' The Law, but obviously it makes more sense for a white seedling. A really pale yellow would make even more sense than white, but I doubt that's ever going to happen.

Cooperating Banjos is by analogy with Dueling Banjos, an instrumental song. I was surprised to learn that "Dueling Banjos" was a relatively new piece when it was used in Deliverance in 1972.4 Even more surprised to learn that it was on the Billboard Top 100 for four weeks in 1973:5 clearly the 70s were an even stranger time than I'd imagined. In any case, it's time for the banjos to start working together, damn it. Enough of this senseless banjo-on-banjo violence.

Pegasus is the white winged stallion from Greek mythology. Not only is the color right, but the shape kind of works too. Pegasus is also a constellation and a bunch of other stuff, maybe too much other stuff, but it's worth considering, surely.

And of course There Goes The Bride, referring to "Here Comes the Bride." I don't think I had a deeper meaning than that in mind. It's not clever or interesting, and I think I'll drop it without any further consideration.

So. Of the three remaining names, I'm not that into 14th Anniversary. It's fine, but it made more sense as a name when there was a recent 14th anniversary for me to connect it to. And given the choice between Cooperating Banjos or Pegasus, it's got to be, officially, 127A Cooperating Banjos, for basically the same reason that I went with There Would Be Peace a few weeks ago for 119A: it's just more me.

(Perhaps if there were another word or two along with "Pegasus." Off the top of my head, I can't come up with any Pegasus-related names that don't strike me as dumb, obvious, or unusable, but I bet if I work at it I can come up with something. If I throw enough random words at it, surely one of them will stick in an interesting way.)

Also, here is one of the suggestions YouTube gave me after I watched the clip from Deliverance, a banjo / accordion / anvil cover of AC/DC's "Thunderstruck," which I found unexpectedly entertaining. (Music starts at 15 seconds in; for some reason I couldn't get YouTube to cue it up for me.)


1 (119A There Would Be Peace, 127A, 128A, 190A, 193A, and 283A Migaloo)
2 (135A and 290A)
3 and, later, orange/pink. First bloom for 200A Breakin' the Law:
and the second bloom:
I mean, that's not even close. If anything, the difference is much more obvious in person, and this happened after I started giving seedlings their own individual pots, so I know the same plant produced both blooms. Breaking the law, indeed.
4 (written as "Feudin' Banjos" by Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith, in 1955; I had assumed it was a much older folk composition)
5 Just behind Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly With His Song," of all things.