Saturday, February 17, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 018 (again)

Ever since the Schlumbergera seedlings began to bloom, I have regretted planting multiple seedlings in the same pot. It's especially annoying with plants whose blooms vary according to environmental conditions during development, and seedlings coming from the same cross, because I can never tell whether I'm looking at a single variable seedling or two different but really similar seedlings. This year, I've had to make corrections in both directions: I decided that 057A Pyrotechnic was the same as 057B Oxomoco, so the latter officially no longer exists, and I've also decided that 010A Semantic Satiation is probably two separate seedlings, so you'll wind up seeing me name 010B later, even though it's been blooming for three years already and I'm sure I've posted photos of it before.

018B is another one of these problematic cases. On the one hand, 018A Nudibranch has bloomed quite a bit, and seemed to be pretty consistent: soft orange petals with a white "tube." This year, for the first time, I got a bloom that was more of a red-orange, with a pink tube,

on a separate stem that hadn't bloomed before, which makes it seem like a separate seedling. On the other hand, that coloration has only appeared once so far, and a stem belonging to 018A has subsequently produced something very similar, just not quite as red/pink:

(018A Nudibranch, 12 October 2017)

And that's pretty damn similar.

So, we're starting the season with a pretty low-pressure naming situation, because there's a good chance that I'll decide later that 018B is the same plant as 018A, and I'll wind up dropping whatever name I give this one.

It seemed to work okay last year to narrow the initial list down to four names and then choose from among those, so that's what I'm going to do this year as well, unless that becomes a problem somehow. The finalists are: Also Included, But You Might Like It, Fifth-Year Senior, and Maudlin.

Also Included is pretty self-explanatory, I think? Basically just saying that this one's pretty unremarkable.

But You Might Like It is a reference to a family story. I think it's natural, when reading it without knowing the reference, to put the emphasis on "Like," but I mean for it to have the emphasis on "You." The story is: when I was a kid, my family attended a church that was a pretty long drive from where we lived, and although they had potluck dinners after the morning services from time to time, we didn't usually participate because of that. Making the drive was effort enough without having to cook something and transport it to the church too. So one day after church, one of the members of the church, a woman, was talking to Mom and Dad about staying for the potluck, and Mom and Dad were like, well, but we didn't bring anything, it'd be weird, and the woman said something like, I'm sure I've got something at home that you could take with you, just come home with me for a little bit and I'll give you something, we'll say you made it, it'll be fine.1

So. We go to her place, and she throws a couple prepared but uncooked pies in the oven, and everybody talks for a while or whatever, and loses track of time a little bit. When she thinks to open the oven again, one (or maybe both?) of the pies has burned. And in the version of the story my parents tell, then, the lady goes on and on to her husband about how the pie is ruined, and she could never serve anything like this to people in the church, it would be so embarrassing, what are they going to do. And then at some point she stops talking about how terribly unacceptable the pie is, turns to my parents, and says brightly, well but you guys might like it.

Which I gather stung Mom and Dad a bit at the time, and maybe a little bit still, but they also think it's funny, and I figure there's little chance of the pie-baker ever seeing this post so I don't feel bad about sharing the story.2 Mom is pretty clear that the woman didn't have any idea what she'd said, what the implications of it were, which makes it both better and worse.

Fifth-Year Senior is just a reference to how much time it took for the seedling to produce a bloom, if it is in fact a separate seedling.

Maudlin is also intended to honor a specific person from my life;3 I don't think he was generally using the word correctly,4 but he used it a lot, and I can't hear it without thinking of him. And the flower looks kind of frazzled in a way that could be depression, I guess, if flowers can be depressed, so.

First name to drop is Also Included. It's fine, especially since there's a good chance that I'll decide 018B isn't a separate seedling in the next couple years, but it's vague and abstract and all three of the others are more interesting.

And then Maudlin isn't great. I mean, if anything, when I look at that first photo, with the petals looking all pointy and windblown, I see angry or hurried a lot more than weepy.

So that comes down to But You Might Like It or Fifth-Year Senior, and that choice is basically a choice between marking the seedling as "inferior but potentially enjoyable" or "slower to complete than expected." And I think the latter is more specific to the seedling. There's nothing obviously inferior about 018B, and I kind of like But You Might Like It better as a name. It might be better to hold on to that one for a later seeding, one where the name has a better chance of sticking.

So, officially, this one is to be known as 018B Fifth-Year Senior, unless and until such time as it becomes clear that it's actually just more 018A Nudibranch.


1 Why not just say oh honey, you're a member of the church too; nobody cares about the rule, just come anyway, it'll be fine? I don't know. I mean, you'd think that that would be more acceptable than lying, in church, even if it was a lie about something so inconsequential that it couldn't possibly have mattered to anyone. But then, you'd also think that if it was so inconsequential, it would never have occurred to anyone not to just tell the truth: the Subjunctives weren't planning to stay, so I just brought twice as much! or something.
Whatever the reasoning, it's clear that to this lady, thou shalt bring food to a church potluck rates slightly higher, commandment-wise, than thou shalt not bear false witness. Moving on.
2 Even if she did see this post, I figure the odds of her remembering the incident and identifying herself as a part of it are pretty slim.
3 I mean, "honor" might not be quite the right word to use for But You Might Like It. Perhaps "remember." Though "remember" makes it sound like she's dead, and as far as I know she's still alive, so that's still not quite right. "Pay tribute to?"
4 It actually means something like "embarrassingly and/or tearfully sentimental due to drunkenness;" he tended to use it as "depressed out of proportion to the circumstances," whether there'd been drinking or not. Which is not quite incorrect, but is pretty far from what online dictionaries will tell you.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

It's been almost a month

and I haven't written a new post yet. Sorry. Still here, still intending to blog.

I do at least have name finalists chosen for a lot of the Schlumbergera seedlings, so once I start again, I should be able to rip through those pretty quickly. Not sure what to do with the Anthuriums; with a few exceptions, the blooms are mostly repeating themselves, which is a problem, and the second problem is that I'm feeling a little weird about the drag queen names ever since the 1592 Maliena B Itchcock post. Not sure how to deal with that; haven't even exactly been able to articulate to myself what I'm uncomfortable about.

So: Schlumbergera posts soon, Anthurium posts maybe sometime. Sorry.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Question for the Hive Mind, Dynasty Edition

A few weeks back, the husband and I started watching the original Dynasty1 on Amazon. I don't remember wanting to watch it when it originally ran, but it wouldn't have mattered if I had, because I was a child and it was forbidden. I was nevertheless very aware of the show, because it was a big deal (Dynasty was the top-rated show across all networks in the 1984-85 season, and in the top ten for three other seasons). Without ever watching it, I would have been able to tell you that there were characters named Alexis and Krystle, and they fought with one another a lot, and that the show was sort of generally glamorous and soapy. It seemed like people took it sort of seriously -- I remember reading stuff about it being trashy and shallow, and yet also collected a lot of nominations and awards, so clearly people thought it was "good" TV for the time.

So watching it now has been really eye-opening in ways it couldn't have been if I'd watched it then, because it is terrible. Like, astoundingly so. I won't deny that it's entertaining (the outfits alone, my god), but the writing is frequently nonsensical. Like, characters who start at come on, unlock the door, we can't settle our problems if you won't even talk to me will, 15 seconds later, find themselves at fine, I hope you rot in your locked room, with no attempt on the part of the actor or writer to show any kind of thought process bridging the two. Just boom, 180-degree turn. Dynasty seems to be a TV show written by people whose only knowledge of humans is from watching other TV shows. It's amazing.

Also, a lot of the technical stuff is remarkably amateurish. Like, I don't remember which episode it was in, but twice now, I've caught the microphone boom dipping into the top of the frame and they used the shot anyway. There are occasionally shots of jewelry to which crude animated sparkles have obviously been added, and periodically the film quality gets abruptly worse for a single scene, presumably because a shot had to be redone with a different camera(?). "Romantic" scenes are designated as such by the addition of a filter that makes every point of light into an "x," as in this example:

State of the art at the time, I'm sure. But it hasn't aged well.

However! There are some moments that make it all worthwhile, which are highly recommended to any readers who want to watch on Amazon.

For the first big Alexis-Krystle catfight, check out season 2, episode 16, at 41:25.2

Joan Collins "singing"3 and dancing in leather pants: season 4, episode 15, beginning at about 28:30.

Have you ever wanted to see Linda Evans and Joan Collins fighting in a lily pond?4 Season 3, episode 23, beginning at 27:05.

To see the most hilariously awful sex scene I've ever seen (and be warned: it is really, really bad; I'm not exaggerating "most awful"), go to season 2, episode 22, at 43:36. There's a shorter version on YouTube, but watch the long version if you can, because part of what makes it so wonderful / terrible is that it goes until you're like okay, I get it, sexy sexy, let's move on and then it keeps going, and going, and going.

My younger siblings, when shown the sex scene, compared it to watching a box turtle eating a strawberry,

which is so precisely correct that it delights me each time I think about it, and cannot be unseen once seen.

And finally, how about a dull cameo from former president Gerald Ford and his wife Betty for no reason at all? (Season 4, episode 11, 25:51. Stick around until 29:55 and you'll get a bonus Henry Kissinger.5)

Anyway. So I wouldn't exactly say I'm enjoying Dynasty, but I'm not not enjoying it either. Nothing will convince you that the past is truly another country like watching their television programs will. Dynasty's treatment of Steven Carrington (only like the second gay main-cast character in U.S. television ever, I think I read somewhere) isn't up to modern standards, but it's pretty progressive for the early 80s. (On the other hand, he's only gay part of the time, and it was apparently acceptable to use a certain anti-gay slur in prime-time TV in 1981,6 which shocked me a bit.)

Another thing that would never fly today is the amount of fur being worn by the characters (mostly Alexis). I wasn't even looking very hard, and still managed to find these examples within like ten minutes:

More than anything else, though, I notice that the treatment of women is astoundingly bad by modern standards. Not just rape -- though Dynasty is in fact super-rapey7 -- but if you took a drink every time a male character grabbed a female character roughly by the arm, to stop her from going somewhere, force her to go somewhere, or demonstrate his manly man-ness, you would literally die of alcohol poisoning somewhere in the early to middle first season. It's alarming. I don't think Krystle changes rooms without male assistance once in the entire first season. Depending on how much of an optimist you are, this can be depressing or heartening; I choose to think of it as heartening. Sure, things aren't so great for women now, but they used to be so much worse that you could show characters doing this kind of shit on the most-watched TV program at the time and not have to worry about the audience losing sympathy for the grabbers and rapists. Change does happen sometimes.


The reason we are actually here, though, is plant-related. I am occasionally surprised by the plant choices the set decorators make,8 but I can at least usually determine what they are. And yet there are two I can't identify.

The first is obviously enough a bromeliad of some kind, but I can't even narrow down a genus for it. Closest thing I can think of would be a Guzmania, but it's awfully big for a Guzmania. Maybe they were bigger in the 80s?

UPDATE: Anonymous in the comments suggests Guzmania wittmackii. I'm not 100% certain on the species, but a Guzmania of some kind seems likely. See comments for links to photos.

The second plant has been driving me crazy for weeks, because the set decorator really likes them, and sticks them all over the place, but I can't figure out what it is; it reminds me variously of Schefflera actinophylla (compound leaves with large leaflets), Polyscias balfouriana and P. scutellaria (large leaves, produced from cane cuttings), and Ficus spp. (leaf venation, bark color) but doesn't seem to be any of them for sure. The bark is wrong for Schefflera; compound leaves are wrong for Ficus, it doesn't look like any Polyscias I've ever seen.

It's possible that the reason I'm finding it so difficult is that they're not all the same species of plant. The overall "tuft of large compound leaves at the top of a long, bare stem" appearance is consistent from specimen to specimen, but there are differences in leaflet angles and coloration that makes me unsure. In particular, I'm not sure if the two plants in this shot are of the same species:

Adam Carrington (played by Gordon Thomson), left, with Tracy Kendall (Deborah Adair). They're both more or less evil.

The guy here is Mark Jennings (played by Geoffrey Scott); he's the most pointless character and I hate every scene he appears in.

80s fashion!

Joan Collins, enjoying a morning half-grapefruit, as all Dynasty characters were apparently legally required to; it's rare when a breakfast scene shows them eating anything else.

I don't hate her outfit, though. I would totally wear something like that for all my personal grapefruit-eating scenes, if I ever ate grapefruit.

UPDATE: Pattock points out in the comments that it's actually a papaya, not a grapefruit. I don't like papayas, so I would not be willing to eat papaya while wearing Joan Collins' outfit. PATSP regrets the error.

More Adam and Tracy.

So what do we think? Any guesses on either plant ID? Thoughts on Dynasty? Anything?

UPDATE: David Gray, in comments, proposed Bombax, which after a lot of looking around in search engines got me to Pseudobombax ellipticum, a few photos of which look enough like the plants in question that I'm prepared to consider the plant definitely ID'ed. See comments for links to photos.


1 There is also a . . . severely unnecessary-sounding reboot on the CW, which I have not seen, and cannot imagine ever wanting to see. 1981 Dynasty or nothing. Accept no substitutes.
2 This is especially delicious because while I'm not 100% certain, I think that for some of the fighting, Joan Collins' stunt double is a man on whom the producers have put a wig, a dress, nail polish, and maybe a little makeup. It doesn't show up well in screencaps, unfortunately, but:
If true, the likely real reason is that they were having difficulty finding a stuntwoman of Joan Collins' proportions, but I prefer the magical realist interpretation, that Alexis is so enraged that she physically transforms, à la the Incredible Hulk.
3 More "talking in a lilting way," really, though apparently Collins actually can sing: she just wasn't doing it for this particular performance.
4 (heck yeah, you have)
5 (Of course Alexis Carrington would know Henry Kissinger socially.)
6 Yep, it's the one you're thinking of. The really bad one.
7 Blake, Jeff, Mark, and Adam all either commit or attempt rape at some point, and all four of them are intended to be sympathetic characters at least some of the time. I'm probably forgetting some, too. Dex, maybe? Nick Toscanni?
8 Here's what was hot, plant-wise, in the 1980s, as best as I can determine from watching all of two shows (I'm also including data from our hernia-surgery-driven re-watch of Star Trek: The Next Generation), in order of increasing surprise (to me) when it showed up on screen:
Epipremnum aureum (pothos)
Syngonium podophyllum (arrowhead vine), though I think some of them were artificial so maybe it doesn't count?
• The presence of palms wasn't a surprise, but the number of them were. I'm not good at palm IDs, so the only one I'm sure about is Caryota mitis (fishtail palm). I feel like I've noticed Caryota being more popular on recent TV as well, which is interesting if it's true: I've never had great experiences with them personally.
Strelitzia nicolai (white bird of paradise)
Dracaena marginata, Dracaena deremensis 'Janet Craig,' Dracaena fragrans 'Massangeana'
Hedera helix (English ivy)
Schefflera actinophylla (umbrella tree)
Spathiphyllum cvv. (peace lily), though mostly only the big cultivars, and not nearly as often as I expected
Codiaeum variegatum (croton)
Ficus benjamina (weeping fig)
Dieffenbachia cvv. (dumb cane)
Yucca guatemalensis (spineless yucca)
Monstera deliciosa (split-leaf philodendron)
Aechmea fasciata (silver vase plant) and bromeliads in general
• There was actually a plot line involving African violets, starting in the middle of season 4, though the way the show dealt with them, I suspect the writers didn't know that African violets (Saintpaulia cvv.) and violets (Viola spp.) are different, so I'm not sure this one should count either.
Maranta leuconeura erythroneura (prayer plant)
Pachira aquatica (money tree)
Araucaria heterophylla (Norfolk Island pine)
Fittonia albivenis (nerve plant)
• orchids in general, but mostly genera that aren't Phalaenopsis (in particular lots of Cymbidium)
Philodendron erubescens 'Red Emerald' and the occasional self-heading Philodendron
Cissus rhombifolia (grape ivy)
• large columnar cacti (e.g. Cereus peruvianus) and Euphorbias (e.g. E. ingens, E. trigona); presumably this is part of the 1980s southwestern obsession even though neither of these are native to the U.S. southwest
Pachypodium spp. (Madagascar palm), in both Dynasty and ST:TNG
Gynura aurantiaca (purple passion plant)
Dynasty had a few Chamaedorea metallica, which surprised hell out of me, because I would definitely have remembered it if I'd seen any in stores or books at the time, and yet I'm positive I didn't encounter the species until the late 2000s.

Plants I expected to see a lot, based on my memories of the 1980s, and either didn't see at all or saw only very occasionally:
Ficus lyrata (fiddle-leaf fig) and Ficus elastica (rubber plant)
Crassula ovata (jade plant)
Anthurium andreanum hybrids (there are some, but almost always as cut flowers, rather than entire plants)
Strelitzia reginae (orange bird of paradise) (again, always as cut flowers)
Chlorophytum comosum (spider plant, airplane plant, mala madre)
Aglaonema cvv. (Chinese evergreen) (though there were a few)
Tradescantia zebrina (wandering Jew)
Asparagus cvv. (asparagus fern) (though Dynasty has a few in exterior shots, and there is an A. plumosus in an interior shot early in season 5)
Sansevieria trifasciata (snake plant) (there are a couple in Dynasty, just not many; Star Trek: TNG has several)
Philodendron bipinnatifidum (split-leaf philodendron) (though Dynasty has some in outdoor landscaping shots because they filmed in California, where P. bipinnatifidum can grow outdoors, instead of Denver, where they cannot, even though the story is supposedly set in Denver)
Cordyline fruticosa (ti plant)
• cane Begonia cvv.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Anthurium nos. 0818 "Miss P" and 1541 "Miss Bounce"

Oof. Where to begin?

I'm not saying I'm back yet, because I don't think I'm quite up to that, but it's been almost a month now and I figured I should check in. What happened was: camera died, and then I spent about two months trying to get a suitable replacement, which took enough time and energy that I was constantly feeling like things were never going to get back to normal. And then the non-routine doctor's appointment I alluded to on 6 November was a consultation about an inguinal hernia, which meant that the first half of December was about trying to get things done in advance so that I could spend the second half of December recovering from inguinal hernia surgery.

As far as I understand these things, the surgery went the way it was supposed to. My life is now about 80% back to normal, the main differences being that I still can't work out at all, and I still have more pain than I was expecting to have at this point, though I no longer need to take acetaminophen to cope with it so maybe it's not as much pain as it seems. Walking around is fine, and watering plants works out okay except for the very heaviest plants, in which case the husband does the lifting.

So. Not back to normal posting, which is a shame because now we're up to a truly staggering number of unblogged seedlings1 and getting further behind every day, but since you're here, and since I'm here, we may as well take a look at a couple plants, right?

0818 Miss P is one of only two surviving seedlings from the NOID pink,2 and looks exactly like it. Same bloom color, and very similar foliage -- the NOID pink's leaves were similarly broad and flat, with a texture in between matte and glossy.

The leaves are fairly unbothered by thrips, as well, though the spathes have more trouble. Here's the first bloom the seedling produced:

Something that's not apparent from the photos, because they're pretty old, is that the seedling is a strong offsetter: it's much fuller-looking now than you'd think possible from the whole-plant photo above, even though that photo is only four months old. And there have been at least three, maybe four, full blooms since September as well, though none of them have been what you'd call pretty, because of thrips damage.

Miss P isn't really doing anything all that special; I like the foliage, bloom rate, and the habit (so far), but I don't really need another pink/pink. So probably not a keeper in the long-term, though I have no immediate plans to discard her.

Pretty sure there's an actual queen performing as "Miss P," but I declined to take the time to look her up.

1541 Miss Bounce is roughly equal in quality, but for more or less opposite reasons. Where Miss P has a boring color,3 Miss Bounce is an unusual light orange:

Miss P blooms a lot; Miss Bounce has only produced one bloom so far. Miss P produces leaves which are broader than average, with rounded lobes; Miss Bounce's leaves are narrow, and pointier.

Miss P offsets a lot; Miss Bounce has produced only one sucker, and it's not very big yet.

Miss P is all but indistinguishable from her seed parent, while you couldn't guess Miss Bounce's seed parent from looking at her. (It's the NOID red.4)

Miss Bounce has a big family, with 15 siblings from the FK sibling group; only two of her siblings have bloomed, though, and only one bears any family resemblance (1546 Gia GiaVanni; the other one to bloom is the dark red / yellow 1547 Shavonna Brooks).

I'm more interested in keeping Miss Bounce around, for the interesting color if nothing else, though I'd be more certain about keeping her if she would rebloom.

There will be new posts, but I make no promises about when. Probably in less than a month, though.


1 (39 Anthuriums and 29 Schlumbergeras, as of Sunday morning)
2 The other is 0596 Alisa Summers, who has looked better, but is still with us. Alisa's main trouble is a lack of compactness: the stems have gotten really long, and are constantly threatening to tip the pot over or cause other mayhem.
3 Not that there's anything inherently boring about pink; it's just that pink/pink and red/yellow are the two most common color combinations from the seedlings, so I'm tired of them.
4 The foliage is a bit similar to the NOID red, in that it tended to have longer, pointier leaves than most, but the NOID red's leaves were also usually darker and glossier. And the NOID red's inflorescence is nothing like Miss Bounce's: hers is both a different color and much smaller.