Saturday, April 22, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 181

181A is the only seedling from the NOID magenta to bloom magenta, which isn't exactly interesting but it's kind of the best I can do.1

The name finalists: Divoon, Kiss Them For Me, Margaret Atwood, Remedial Optimism.

Divoon and Kiss Them For Me are both related to Jayne Mansfield (1950s/60s actress and sex symbol) and the Siouxie and the Banshees song "Kiss Them for Me," previously discussed in the post for seedling 182A Padparadscha.

Margaret Atwood is, of course, the Canadian novelist / poet / environmental activist / Twitter enthusiast, who I probably don't really need to identify because she's kind of having a moment, what with The Handmaid's Tale being adapted as a TV series on Hulu and everything. Why seedling 181 specifically? I did an image search for Atwood, and on the rare occasions when she chooses to wear a non-neutral color to be photographed in, it's often a color similar to 181A's: fuchsia, magenta, pink, lavender. That neighborhood.2

Remedial Optimism is sort of random-word nonsense and sort of not. I could probably use a refresher class in how to be optimistic. You know what happens to skills that you don't practice.

So. Not particularly taken with Remedial Optimism. Divoon and Kiss Them For Me are both similar enough in meaning and referents that I should probably choose one or the other, so let's drop the longer of the two. Which leaves us with Divoon and Margaret Atwood.

I keep thinking that I should try to bring back some old slang words, like The Darb (considered for seedlings 200A and 176A) or Divoon, though I never actually do. Haven't even gotten particularly close. So maybe Divoon is overdue, sorta.

I also considered Gallop for a while in the selection process, for reasons which may or may not be obvious.

On the other hand, Margaret Atwood is an important writer to me personally. I really love Cat's Eye and The Robber Bride, both for themselves and because I encountered them at an impressionable age.3 Also Lady Oracle is wonderful, and deserves more attention than it usually gets. (She lost me somewhere around Alias Grace / The Blind Assassin: I own copies of both but have only read the former one time, and was never able to get very far into the latter.4)

On balance, I have to go with Margaret Atwood. Whatever difficulties I've had with some of her books, I can recite portions of the others from memory, I've read them so often. I kinda have to. So: 181A Margaret Atwood.


1 Two other magenta seedlings, 132A [name TBD] and 281A No Bad Vibez, came from the NOID white; a third magenta seedling (165A [name TBD]) came from the NOID peach, which was unexpected.
2 Not exclusively or anything. Quite a few reds and orangey reds, and there's one photo involving a turquoise scarf that pops up over and over. But still. Seemed like a good color to go with, if I'm going to name a seedling after her.
3 So impressionable that, when I look at the short stories I wrote during and just after college, Atwood is probably the author whose style I rip off the most. (Along with Lorrie Moore, David Foster Wallace, Katherine Mansfield, Jay McInerney, and fellow Canadian Douglas Coupland.)
4 I've also read all three of the MaddAddam books (Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, MaddAddam, each only once. I had trouble suspending disbelief for both books, in particular the clunky and awful names for places and things (RejoovenEsence, rakunk, pigoon, ChickieNobs).
These were apparently deliberate on Atwood's part: she was making some kind of point about something, I read it in an article a while back and it made sense, even if can't remember what the point was now. But it was still really distracting. I mean, there are people out there who specialize in finding pleasant-sounding, memorable names for new products / businesses / etc. now. I found it hard to believe that a process that, in the early 21st century, manages to come up with Roomba, Altria, Mondelez, Xe, and so forth is going to give us CorpSeCorps in a couple decades. There's no way CorpSeCorps gets past a focus group.
It's not a big deal exactly (though by now you should understand that naming things properly is really important to me), but the books were full of stuff like that, not just the names but all kinds of stuff that threw me out of the story because I just couldn't believe that things could get quite that lurid and cartoony. Though that was a few years ago: I suppose my baseline for how lurid and cartoony is too lurid and cartoony has moved since then. :^(

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Anthurium no. 1145 "Jimmy James"

Jimmy's kind of a mixed bag, as seedlings go. He took a really long time to produce a fully-developed inflorescence; for quite a while I was getting stuff like this instead:

I mean, obviously there are worse things. And in some ways the half-baked blooms are more interesting than the finished version, which is the same old red / yellow combination we've seen many times before:

But even so. Even the fastest seedlings have a long delay between the appearance of a bud and the actual unfurling of a spathe, so when a seedling stops just short of unfurling, it's hard not to feel frustrated.

The plant overall isn't particularly full-looking, though it makes up for it slightly by having interesting leaves. It isn't always visible, but the thin reddish edge on the leaf here

is a real thing, not an artifact added by the camera, and the larger veins are slightly red as well. Even better, the new leaves are a very dramatic red-orange.

Jimmy does have some minor problems with thrips and Xanthomonas; one or both may be enough to get him discarded eventually. I'm willing to wait and see how things go, though.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 080

Seedling 080A is redder than the usual Schlumbergera seedling, and its petals are a little more disheveled-seeming. It also produced more flowers than a lot of this year's first-time bloomers, though that might just be because it lucked into a good location.

The name finalists: Four-Alarm Fire, I Think She Likes Me, Nichelle Nichols, and Overblown.

Four-Alarm Fires are just big and difficult-to-contain fires; though there is a common misperception that the number of alarms equals the number of firehouses dispatched to fight the fire, Wikipedia says that it's actually the number of times units get called to fight the fire: the first dispatch is usually the largest, and then if the first group is unable to contain the fire, a second alarm is sounded to send additional units. A four-alarm fire would then have units called to fight it four times, which may be all from the same firehouse, or from different firehouses.

I Think She Likes Me is a song title: I was thinking of the Treat Her Right song when I put it on the list, but there turn out to be several songs by that name (or something close to it).1

I shouldn't have to tell you who Nichelle Nichols is.

Overblown can mean a lot of different things depending on context (exaggerated, overdone, excessive, bombastic), including one I didn't find out about until I started writing this post (specifically for flowers, it can mean past its prime). Whoops.

So I can drop Overblown, obviously. And although it's sort of interesting to find out what a four-alarm fire actually is, it's not really that amazing of a seedling name.

And given the choice between I Think She Likes Me and Nichelle Nichols . . . I mean, come on. How is that even a question? Like, I don't think I even need to explain this, but if I do:

So there we are. 080A Nichelle Nichols.


1 Just on the first page of YouTube results, there are four different songs in three different styles, none of which are really to my personal tastes but whatever:
Pop: Jesse McCartney - I Think She Likes Me
Country: Billy Gilman - I Think She Likes Me
Rap: Rick Ross - I Think She Like Me ft. Ty Dolla $ign and Jadakiss - I Think She Likes Me (ft. Nicki Minaj)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Anthurium no. 0789 "Marsha P. Johnson"

Alas, this isn't one of the better seedlings. The spathes so far have been on the small end of average, the color combination isn't particularly new or interesting, and thrips are an ongoing problem on the spathes and leaves both.

Not only is this kind of disappointing in itself, it's disappointing because the seedling's namesake, Marsha P. Johnson, is a really big deal, being one of the people present at the Stonewall Riots in 1969, which isn't exactly the beginning of the gay civil rights movement but was certainly a big milestone, and (unless I've missed something) is the reason Gay Pride Month is in June. I'm likely to discard seedling 0789 and recycle the name for some other, more deserving seedling, but I haven't gotten around to that yet.

I had a hard time trying to summarize Johnson's life for this post; different accounts emphasize different details, and Johnson herself is no longer available to clarify.1 One can get something of a sense from a documentary about her life (2012's Pay It No Mind - The Life and Times of Marsha P. Johnson, on YouTube here), and from various on-line articles (Wikipedia,,,


1 She was probably murdered, in 1992; the official cause of death was recorded as a suicide, but those close to her at the time say she wasn't suicidal. While it's true that it's possible to hide suicidal impulses from friends, Johnson was a sex worker, and possibly transgendered (it sure looks that way to me, from reading the stuff about her, anyway -- she mostly lived as a woman, she had her name legally changed -- but the way we talk and think about such things has changed a lot since the 70s and 80s, and the boundaries between trans woman and drag queen weren't as clear then. Not that they're entirely distinct now, as far as that goes.), both of which would, sadly, make murder a much more likely cause of death.
The investigation was officially reopened as a possible homicide in 2012, but doesn't appear to have resulted in any new information.