Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 420

I'm happy about this one, though I'm not sure whether it's actually doing anything new. The one bloom it's produced to date is similar to some of the other red/pink seedlings (e.g. 099B Karma Cobra or 103B Must Be Love). The seed parent is the NOID magenta, which makes me wonder whether the original batch of 114 seedlings from 'Caribbean Dancer' might have had multiple pollen parents: it wouldn't surprise me that much to learn that I'd tried to rub pollen from the NOID peach and NOID magenta on a flower from 'Caribbean Dancer.'

Even so, it's lovely, and considering that the seedling was less than two years old when it bloomed this December (sow date 23 April 2016; first bloom 8 December 2017), I expect it will produce a lot more flowers this fall.

Also: yes, it's been a while since the last post; yes, this is partly because of the secret project (which is going well); no, I'm not likely to begin posting regularly again anytime soon (because the project is not yet finished).

Our name finalists: Eat Your Heart Out, Epicenter, Franceska Mann, Love Is All Around.

Eat Your Heart Out and Epicenter are both glancing references to the coloration: especially as the flower was first opening (above photo) and dying (below), the petals sort of seemed to make a red ring around a zone of pink, drawing attention to the center (ergo Eat Your Heart Out1) or resembling maps of areas affected by earthquakes (Epicenter2).

Franceska Mann was a Jewish ballerina in nazi Germany who, while being taken with a group of other Jewish women to a room next to a gas chamber and being ordered to strip, managed to distract the guard by stripping all sexy-like, steal his gun, shoot him fatally, and injure another SS officer.3 It's not, ultimately, a happy story, as Mann and all the other women were killed anyway, but, you know. It's happier than the stories where no nazis die.

And then, in a dramatic mood change, Love Is All Around, the title of the song that served as the theme for The Mary Tyler Moore show, which was previously considered for 167A East Of East St. Louis. I rejected it then because I wasn't sure I wanted to risk having a permanent MTM earworm, but it's a year later and I can think of a lot worse things than that, so maybe we should consider it anyway.

I'll let Epicenter go first; of the two names that reference the bullseye / red-ring effect in the photos, it's the less appropriate one. So that's pretty easy. And I can let go of Love Is All Around, I guess, both for the earworm concerns and because I find the remaining two names a lot more pleasing to me. But after that it gets really hard to choose one.

Franceska Mann is a way better story (since Eat Your Heart Out isn't a story at all); Eat Your Heart Out is really appropriate for a pretty seedling, whereas Franceska Mann doesn't necessarily have to be pretty. It doesn't hurt, obviously, but it's not required.

The detail that's going to decide it for me, I think, is that Eat Your Heart Out, taken literally, is pretty gross, and idiomatic English is a lot harder to understand for people who don't speak English. So this one is officially going to be 420A Franceska Mann.


1 ("Eat your heart out" is also used as an idiom for jealousy: if you tell someone to eat their heart out, the implication is that they are, or ought to be, very jealous of you. Which works well for a seedling that's prettier than average, making the name doubly appropriate.)
2 (though depending on the type of quake and the configuration of the rocks involved, the actual epicenter -- the point on the surface directly above the origin of the earthquake -- is not necessarily the location which sees the most surface shaking or damage)
3 Some of the details of the story are inconsistent depending on who's telling it (, but the central story of a Jewish ballerina named Franceska Mann stealing the gun of Josef Schillinger and killing him with it isn't disputed. (Well. Except by the sorts of people who dispute everything about the Holocaust, but we don't need to take them seriously.)

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 136

Still dealing with the secret project. It's not going well. I'm beginning to suspect that I'm not actually going to get all the seedlings from this year named before next year's seedlings begin to bloom.

Here's 136A:

It's okay! Not amazing. Really don't need any more white seedlings.1

The name finalists are: Khutulun, Magician's Dove, Pegasus, Serenity Prayer.

Khutulun is really interesting. She was the great-great-granddaughter of Genghis Khan, the youngest of fifteen children (and the only girl) born to Kaidu Khan. She was a legendary warrior, archer, and wrestler, and was in fact so good at wrestling that although her father wanted to marry her off, she got him to agree to the condition that she would only marry a man who could defeat her in wrestling.2 To make things more fun for her, and (I'm guessing) to limit the amount of time she had to spend every day on wrestling, she got her suitors to agree to the additional condition that they had to bet either ten or a hundred horses if they challenged her.3 The chance to marry into the Khan family was very tempting, and so men came from all over the place to try -- and she wound up with a pasture containing 10,000 horses.4

There's a lot more, of course, if you're interested; I especially like this and this.

Oh, and she's especially appropriate for a white seedling because her name apparently means either "bright moon" or "all white" in whatever language Kaidu Khan spoke at the time.5

I think Magician's Dove is pretty self-explanatory. It was previously considered for 119A There Would Be Peace, and rejected on the grounds that it wasn't quite me enough.

Pegasus is the mythological winged horse; the name was previously considered for 127A Cooperating Banjos, and rejected on the grounds that Cooperating Banjos was clearly much, much better.

And then Serenity Prayer is the familiar prayer originally written by American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Though it's mutated some in the years since, as different people adapt and rephrase it for their own purposes. It's become especially associated with 12-step programs, to the point that I was actually surprised to learn that it didn't originate there.

So okay. Evaluation time. I don't hate any of these, but I feel like Pegasus is a little basic. I mean, it's concrete and visual, but it could maybe stand to be narrowed down a little bit. And Serenity Prayer, while I actually like it (as both a thing existing in the world and a seedling name), seems a little . . . "inspirational." In the bad way.6

Which leaves Khutulun and Magician's Dove, and I'm pretty impressed with Khutulun the historical person, so it has to be 136A Khutulun.


1 (though there will be at least ten more white seedlings anyway, mostly bunched up together late in the season, because the universe doesn't care what I want or need)
2 Mongol wrestling in the late 1200s CE was not what we think of as wrestling now: it's basically two people fighting with few (or no?) rules until one of them hits the ground, at which point the one still standing has won. Khutulun is agreeing to take on any man, of any weight, who can do basically anything he wants in order to get her to fall down.
3 Apparently sources disagree on the number per bet; most of the on-line stuff says 100 horses.
4 Which one source says is probably the equivalent of saying "a kajillion:" an uncountably large number, not an actual inventory. Verified or not, the herd of horses she amassed was said to rival that of the emperor at the time, and she remained single, though she did eventually marry, more or less by choice.
5 Chinese, probably, though there are a lot of Chinese languages, and also I'm not positive that the Mongols didn't have their own language, and I didn't bother to look it up for this. So I don't know. One of you reading this probably does.
6 Either you understand how there's a bad way to be inspirational, or you don't. If you don't, I probably can't explain it to you.
(I imagine this is mostly because of the contexts in which I've encountered the serenity prayer over the years, more than the serenity prayer itself, which seems pretty sensible and non-saccharine on its own.)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 179

Mostly what I've learned from crossing Schlumbergeras is that anything x anything = orange. (This is not strictly true: sometimes you get white/pink. But it feels true.) The seed parent this time was the NOID magenta; obviously the pollen parent was one of the orange/white or orange/pink offspring of 'Caribbean Dancer.'

Three of the four name finalists for this one refer to the never-ending orange seedlings. We have: I Saw A Deer Today, Majority Rule, Plagiarist, and Repeat After Me. (I Saw A Deer Today is the exception -- it's a line from the game Portal 2, and also one of the titles on the Portal 2 soundtrack.)

(I thought I had previously considered I Saw A Deer Today as a seedling name, but I can't find it now. Possibly I was thinking of Deer Devil?)

So. I can lose Plagiarist, I think, on the grounds that nobody likes plagiarists. And I'm kind of meh on Majority Rule though I can't pin down exactly why -- it seems a bit bland and abstract, though so does Repeat After Me, and I like Repeat After Me.

So it comes down to Repeat After Me or I Saw A Deer Today. Repeat After Me is slightly shorter, and more related to the seedling color; I Saw A Deer Today is a more pleasant and concrete mental image. I've also already named a seedling for Portal 2.1

I think I'm going to go with Repeat After Me, on the grounds that I Saw A Deer Today is easier to reuse for a different seedling. No doubt we'll see it again sooner or later.


1 The video-game references so far are:
062A Open World (type of game design; not honoring a specific game)
067B Clyde (Pac Man)
072A Chell (Portal / Portal 2)
107A Nova Prospekt (Half-Life 2)
193A Arcade Gannon (Fallout: New Vegas)

Monday, March 5, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 047

This one might be something of a trap, name-wise: the photo is in fact pretty accurate on the color of the flower, but previous seedlings that started out unusually light in color, or pinkish-orange, often do something different when they bloom again. 061A Leather Fairy got a lot more ordinary looking in its second year;1 074B Crone Island has been so inconsistent that I don't know what color it "actually" is, as I noted last year. (And it hasn't bloomed even once for me this year.) I'd figured I'd be able to tell what was going on with 047A once I got a second bloom, but of course this is another seedling that's only produced one flower.

The name finalists: Cantaloupe Candy, Gillian Anderson, Pluto, Soft Light.

I'm not sure where Cantaloupe Candy came from as an idea -- it was possibly a random word combination that caught my attention? -- but it's gotten me curious as to why cantaloupe-flavored candy isn't a thing. An online search turned up lots of possible sources for buying artificial cantaloupe flavoring, so clearly the technology exists; watermelon-flavored candies are already easy to find, so it's not like people have a problem with melon flavors specifically; it doesn't have a color that would be easily confused with a more common candy flavor, and it isn't especially obscure. I mean, most people in North America have probably had cantaloupe before. Jelly Belly does sell cantaloupe-flavored jellybeans, but then they go out of their way to cover unusual flavors.2

Not that cantaloupe is one of my favorite foods or anything (not a fan of melons in general, actually, and everybody knows honeydew tastes like disappointment), but artificial flavors don't have to taste that much like the actual foods anyway: it could still be good as a candy. Just saying.

Gillian Anderson is the actor from The X-Files, The Fall, Hannibal, and other stuff. I liked her before, but The Fall is what turned me into a fan.3 There are the usual concerns about living people being secretly horrible in a way that will forever taint anything associated with them, of course. I feel like Anderson's probably pretty safe, but it's something to bear in mind. I don't know why this color makes me think of Gillian Anderson anyway.

One of my favorite things about the New Horizons NASA mission to Pluto was that it revealed that the planet Pluto4 is pale orange. It's not quite the same color as this flower (planet: more brown; flower: more pink), but I'm not likely to get any closer than this, so why not roll with it? Everybody loves Pluto, right?

And then Soft Light, which previously rejected for 239A Plow The Seashore and 034A Wahine. It's kinda vague, and maybe not incredibly interesting, but that could be an advantage, if we're trying to pick a name that will work regardless of what subsequent blooms look like.

This is another case where all the options seem to be fairly well-balanced against each other, so there's no obvious one to choose. Something that's worked for me in the past sometimes is to imagine choosing each one in turn as the final name, and then noticing how disappointed or dissatisfied I feel. If I do that, then the choice is between Gillian Anderson and Pluto, and I'm just worried enough about Gillian Anderson becoming horrible in the future that I think the name kind of has to be 047A Pluto. Which I can live with.

FYI: future posts are likely to slow down a little bit for the next few weeks, due to a plant-related project you may or may not hear about someday.


1 (It was still pretty! It just wasn't unique or special anymore.)
2 Apparently Jelly Belly no longer makes them, but when I was a kid, I enjoyed their jalapeno flavored jellybeans. Presently the website offers flavors like plum, maple syrup, champagne, tabasco, pomegranate, draft beer, margarita, birthday cake, and chili mango, some of which sound like genius ideas and some of which . . . do not.
(I've had the margarita and pomegranate before. Kinda meh on margarita, but pomegranate is nice.)
Oh, and hey, Jelly Belly, if you're reading this, could I suggest cloves? There's some brand of jellybeans around here that does "spicy" mixes (peppermint, spearmint, cloves, licorice, cinnamon, maybe one other one?) at certain times of the year, and the clove ones are awesome.
3 Not an easy watch, and it would be a stretch to say that I "enjoyed" it. But Anderson is so, so good in it.
4 "Dwarf planet" is still a planet. Just a dwarf one. I don't have a problem with kicking Pluto out of the club of official planet planets, but I prefer to think of the redefinition as expanding the idea of "planet" by adding the 5 officially-recognized dwarfs (Pluto, Eris, Ceres, Makemake, and Haumea), rather than contracting it by removing Pluto.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 122

Another seedling with only one bloom all season, but I got multiple photos of it, at least.

122 isn't very interesting; I don't mind the white ones, but it's hard to get excited about them either. The only variation in color is in how much pink there is on the "tube," and I suspect that that is probably determined by temperature anyway. (There is occasionally some variability in flower shape, though at least some of that is environmental as well. Also sometimes determined by the angle at which I'm taking the photo.)

A special problem with 122A is that I already know what I'm going to name it, because I just like one of the names that much more than the others. I mean, we'll go ahead and look at the list of names, because it's something to talk about, but don't expect me to act like there's any suspense here.

The list: Coconut Shavings, Lyle Lovett, Myrtha, Tickly-Benders.

Coconut Shavings is, I think, pretty self-explanatory: the color and slight translucence of the petals is similar to that of coconut shavings.

(While I'm here, I feel like I should also note that despite the recent faddishness of coconut oil, it isn't especially "healthy." If you want saturated fat, eat butter. Food is not magic; nothing you eat will prevent your eventual mortality; coconut oil as a health food is a scam, and in 10 years the people currently telling you it's healthy will claim they always knew it was basically lard in a fibrous woody shell.1)

Lyle Lovett was previously considered for 112A Lavaball, 128A Sloths Arrive Late, and 290A Our Lady Of Assumption, and was respectively rejected because 1) the name works better for a white seedling, 2) it's probably a good idea not to name seedlings for living people if there's a chance they might turn out to be horrible, and 3) it was up against a name I preferred. Being up against a better name is why it's going to fail for a fourth time.

Myrtha was suggested last June by an anonymous commenter:
May i suggest Giselle or Myrtha for another white flower? These are both characters from the ballet giselle where spirits of rejected women (called wilis) curse any trespassing men to dance until they die (as you do in a ballet). Myrtha is the queen of the wilis and is stumped when giselle steps forward to protect a count from certain death.
I'll probably use the name eventually, but not for this one.

I'm going with Tickly-Benders, yet another term from the dialect dictionary. It describes thin ice (like on a pool or small lake) which is strong enough to hold a person without breaking, but thin enough that it bends under their weight, and also the act of walking on such ice. There are a number of variations on the term, including one I actually like better,2 but "tickly-benders" seems to be the most widely used. I'm charmed both by the term itself, and by the implication that this was a common enough recreational activity to warrant having a term for.

It doesn't hurt that the photos I have of the flower involve a lot of petals that are curved and bent in unusual ways, making it feel even more appropriate, though later blooms probably won't look the same. In any case, this one's going to be 122A Tickly-Benders.


1 Coconut water, on the other hand, may be fine; it sort of depends on what you'd be drinking otherwise. If you're replacing water with coconut water, you're not doing yourself any favors. If you're replacing soda with coconut water, good for you, that's a step in the right direction. Coconut water doesn't give you anything you're not already getting elsewhere, but it's not as sugary as juice or soda, so go for it, I guess.
Coconut water does not hydrate you any more / better / faster than regular water -- I'd even question whether "more / better / faster hydration" is a valid concept in the first place. (If your body needs water, maybe . . . give it water?)
Also coconut water is grotesquely overpriced for what it is. If you are overburdened with money and need to burn some of it to feel better about yourself or healthier or whatever, the donate button is in the sidebar, at the top of the post.
Unless you're reading this on a phone, in which case I have no idea where the donate button is.
2 ("Kittly-benders")

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 062 (again)

Yet again: one bloom, one photo.

Also: not entirely sure that this is a separate seedling from 062A Open World. It looks pretty different, but when I check all the photos I've gotten from pot 062, there are some flowers with colors intermediate between 062A and 062B. The one in this post is substantially different from the average bloom, but I don't know if it's actually a separate seedling. So whatever name I come up with here might have to be dropped and recycled at some point in the future.

It's really striking, at least, whether it's new and awesome or old and variable:

And the name finalists are: Charo, Pure Energy, Royal Grandma, Underestimated.

Charo has previously been considered for seedling 066B Sigrid the Haughty; that was totally the correct decision, since I think Sigrid the Haughty is my favorite name of all the seedlings ever.1 But it would make me sad if the world forgot about Charo, so I'd like to do my part to prevent that, sooner or later.

There's more to Pure Energy than it appears; it's one of the names intended to honor someone from my life. Previously considered for 011A Annie Lennox, and rejected because, based on image searches, it seems most people associate "pure energy" with blues and purples, plus Annie Lennox is just cool.2 But this is certainly a very energetic-looking flower, and the magenta may be as close as I'm going to get to purple. So maybe.

Royal Grandma is a slanted reference to a fish, Gramma loreto, known commonly as the "royal gramma." They're insanely pretty and appear to be good in salt-water aquaria.3 Royal grammas don't exactly match the colors of the flower, but that's okay, I figure, since Royal Grandma doesn't exactly match the name of the fish.

Underestimated is just a reference to the fact that I hadn't thought 062A Open World was that impressive -- it was fine, but nothing we haven't seen before -- and now 062B is really striking.

So okay. Drop Underestimated; it's not wrong, but it's abstract and boring. And the uncertainty about whether this is a separate seedling or not makes me want to hold off on Charo as well, on the grounds that Charo surely deserves a real, confirmed, distinct seedling of her own.

Which leaves Pure Energy and Royal Grandma, and Pure Energy has the same problem as Charo -- the person it refers to is a big deal, and deserves a distinct seedling. So this one will have to be 062B Royal Grandma, at least until I figure out whether or not it's separate from 062A Open World.


1 Though 056A Demons Begone, 106A Jaws Of Elmo, 127A Cooperating Banjos, 132A Pointy Space Princess, 244A That's My Purse, and 271A Not Here To Make Friends are all way up there on the list too.
2 Annie Lennox is, in fact, so cool that I have more than once caught myself thinking, oh, I should name a seedling for Annie Lennox -- after I already have.
3 I've never had a salt-water aquarium before, salt-water tanks being way more complicated and expensive than I've ever wanted to deal with (also, for obvious reasons, salt-water fish are not available in Iowa all that often, and when they are they're generally not in great health), but as a kid I was periodically obsessed with books about fish. There was one book about salt-water tropical fish that I checked out of the local library so often that it's entirely possible I was the only person who ever got to.
The royal gramma is one of the few species I still remember from the book, along with moorish idol (Zanclus cornutus), sergeant major (Abudefduf saxatilis), and powder blue tang (Acanthurus leucosternon). Plus of course clownfish (particularly Amphiprion ocellaris), who already have a seedling.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 250

I'm only just now noticing that most of the early-blooming seedlings from the 2017-18 season only produced one bloom. (I think 044A Iktsuarpok is the only exception so far?) I don't think previous years were like this, so it must mean something. Not necessarily something worth caring about, but something.

Anyway. So seedling 250A is another one of those: only one bloom. It's mostly interesting for its second-generation ancestry; it's another of the seedlings from 025A Clownfish.1

Name finalists: Apple Chankings, Glede, Maraschino, and Pat Benatar.

Apple Chankings is another term from the dialect dictionary I referred to in the post for 095A Pele's Lipstick. "Chankings" are the remains of a piece of fruit, like an apple, that are discarded and not eaten. The term seems to have been most widespread in northeastern New England. It's not really an appealing image for a flower, but I love that there's a term for this and that it sounds comical, so we'll at least consider it.

A Glede is a live (burning) coal, in the dialect of 1930s Pennsylvania. It's in modern dictionaries as a name for birds of prey generally, and the European kite (Milvus milvus) in particular. No idea if the two uses of the word are connected at all; the dialect book doesn't include any information about word origins.

Maraschino is in reference to the cherry, but it's sort of complicated: the original maraschino cherry was a sour cherry from the Marasca region in modern Croatia, and "maraschino" was the liqueur produced by distilling Marasca cherries, hence the name. Then somebody got the idea to preserve Marasca cherries by putting them in maraschino, and then people started cutting corners and preserving other varieties of cherries in maraschino liqueur, and eventually the term degenerated to the point where it was used for cherries preserved in pretty much anything, whether it contained alcohol or not.

Wikipedia says that in the U.S., maraschino cherries pretty much never involved cherries from Marasca in the first place (there only being just so many cherry trees in Marasca), and then when Prohibition began in 1920, cherries preserved in alcohol were no longer legal. So other processes for preserving cherries were developed, and then when Prohibition was lifted, for some reason the FDA redefined "maraschino cherry" to mean "cherries which have been dyed red, impregnated with sugar, and packed in a sugar syrup flavored with oil of bitter almonds or a similar flavor," possibly because that's what everybody had gotten used to during Prohibition.

So maraschino cherries aren't Maraschino cherries. Odds are you've never had actual Maraschino cherries.

And Pat Benatar is just kind of awesome, or at least was the last time I checked, last year, when I considered naming seedling 198A Prophecy Of Joy after her. Rejected the name then because I felt like she deserved a more impressive flower. Not sure that 250A is that much better, honestly, but let's see how it goes.

This one is actually tough, because I kind of like and dislike all the options about equally.

I feel like Pat Benatar wants a redder flower than this, and we have a few of those coming up (241A feels like it would be an especially good fit). Plus I'm always worried about living celebrities suddenly becoming horrible for no reason.2 So we'll postpone Pat Benatar for a while.

And as much as I love that there's a term for it, Apple Chankings is maybe not a concept I want to associate with any of the seedlings, so I'll drop that one too. Though if I need a name for a crappy red seedling someday, I suppose I've got something that might work.

Which leaves Glede and Maraschino. And although I'd rather have a Maraschino, because the word is more fun, I think, again, that it needs a redder flower than this. Glede works fine for anything in this general color neighborhood, and I was pleasantly surprised to learn about the connection to birds of prey; bird-related names pretty much always work for Schlumbergera. So, *shrug*, 250A Glede.


1 The other named ones were: 239A Plow The Seashore, 240A Schwa, and 244A That's My Purse. A few others will be receiving names later this year (237A, 241A, 248A, 252A).
2 Though that seems not to have happened to Benatar. Probably she's safe.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 044

This one's been around for quite a while, as you can tell from the low seedling number, and it's one of the seedlings from the NOID peach, which is still mildly unusual.1 It did manage to produce a fair number of blooms, once it got going, though I think I only got photos of the first one. The blooms are unusual in a couple ways: one, although most of the white-blooming seedlings produce some pink at the base of the petals (what I refer to as "the tube," though there's probably a more precise technical term for it), 044A had consistent, intense pink there. Two, the flowers were a bit smaller than average. At least two other seedlings this year produced unusually little blooms (248A and 272A); I'm unsure why.

Our name finalists: Iktsuarpok, Ice Castle, Jellybean Cake, White-Knuckle.

Iktsuarpok is an Inuit word that I found via one of those articles about words with no good English equivalents (specifically this one2). It's the feeling of anticipating someone's arrival to the point of checking and rechecking to see whether or not they've arrived yet.

Ice Castle is a name I've kind of liked for a while,3 that seems suitable for a white seedling.

Jellybean Cake is one of those names that I don't explain because they reference a particular person from my life.

White-Knuckle is the idiom, chosen mostly just because it includes "white," and the seedling is partly white.

First one to go will be White-Knuckle. It seems especially inappropriate for a seedling with this much pink in it, for one thing; for another, I just know it'll get this song stuck in my head all the time:4

and that would be intolerable.5

And then Ice Castle, too, seems better suited for a pure white flower.

So Iktsuarpok, or Jellybean Cake. Both suit the flower well -- I had been waiting a while to see a bloom from this seedling, and consequently had checked it several times in the past to see whether it was producing buds; the situation referenced in Jellybean Cake involved a jellybean which was either white or pink,6 so a flower that is both colors works either way.

Both are also slightly problematic: Iktsuarpok is awkward to pronounce and type; Jellybean Cake makes me think of a rectangular block of jellybeans mashed together, maybe with frosting on top, which is not what the name is supposed to evoke.7

I'm going to go with Iktsuarpok, because the situation it refers to (checking and rechecking to see whether a seedling has bloomed yet) is more specific and less common than having a bloom that is both white and pink (which has happened with most of the white-blooming seedlings to one degree or another). So: 044A Iksuarpok. I'm sure once I've practiced pronouncing it in my head enough times (ick-tsu-AR-pock? maybe?), it'll seem like a real word.


1 Although I'm fairly certain that the first 114 seedlings were all from a mutual cross of 'Caribbean Dancer' with the NOID peach, they've performed very differently, depending on which seed parent they had. The seedlings from 'Caribbean Dancer' have mostly been pretty robust and quick to bloom; the ones from the NOID peach have grown more slowly, took longer to produce blooms, and seem more prone to producing misshapen stems or flowers or both. This has been less of a problem with the second batch of seedlings from the NOID peach, but they're still often a little weird, as you'll see if and when we get to seedling 143A. I don't have any idea why this would be the case.
2 We may wind up seeing a second word from that list later this year; the Japanese "boketto" (staring vacantly into the distance, without thinking). I feel like English actually does have a concise term for this ("spacing out"), but maybe there are nuances. Who am I to argue with Mental Floss?
Boketto doesn't have any particular connection to the Schlumbergera seedlings, but we're still watching Dynasty, and Krystle Carrington, in particular, still does this a lot, so it's on my mind. And it's a pretty-sounding word.
3 (considered and rejected for seedlings 074B Crone Island, 119A There Would Be Peace, and 290A Our Lady Of Assumption)
4 I had a phase a while back where I was watching a lot of Ok Go videos; "White Knuckles" was easily the worst earworm.
5 Also I've been trying not to assign names that have the bloom color in them: White Knight, Orange Crush, Red Queen, etc. I may eventually have to break the rule, but I don't have to yet.
6 It was a long time ago, and I can't remember; if forced to guess, I'd guess white.
7 The mental process being that a "jellybean cake" is a cake made of compressed jellybeans, in the same way that a "fruitcake" is a cake made of compressed dried fruit. The actual moment being referenced involved a perfectly normal piece of sheet cake, with green frosting, which had a single jellybean on top.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 098 (again)

Seedling 098B is yet another orange / pink, not incredibly interesting in context of all the other orange / pinks, but it's pretty. I'm fairly certain that it's not the same seedling as 098A Hunting Tutu; although they're both orange, and although the orange-blooming seedlings can be frustratingly inconsistent from one flower to the next, the yellowish-orange / pink ones like this seedling1 don't fluctuate: if the plant produces one yellow-orange bloom, then they're all going to be yellow-orange.2, 3

Because it's still orange, though, it poses certain challenges for naming purposes, and apparently when I was coming up with the name finalists I felt especially frustrated about this, because I came up with: Have Mercy, I Get It, Lady Trieu, and Take A Hint.

Three of those are, I think, obvious enough that they don't need to be unpacked. Lady Trieu, though, is an interesting historical figure, and we can afford to spend a little time on her.4

She's basically a (the?) national hero of Vietnam. Officially she's honored for leading the resistance to the Chinese in 248 AD (a resistance which didn't last all that long, but was remarkable for working at all, considering how badly outnumbered the Vietnamese side was), but she's also been mythologized quite a bit, and those stories are pretty remarkable. Basically she was the Vietnamese Joan of Arc, except without the religious stuff,5 and also she was nine feet tall and had three breasts, which were so long that she had to throw them over her shoulder in order to fight, and she was breathtakingly gorgeous and went into battle in brilliant golden robes, mounted on an elephant, and so forth. It's all very dramatic and visual. Somebody should make a movie.6

I didn't wind up with nearly as much time to research as I was expecting to have, though there doesn't seem to be a lot of information available about her as a historical figure, either. So I'll recommend Wikipedia, and two other sites, the last of which is the most entertainingly written and includes links to two additional sites.

But so back to the seedling. I figure the three "enough already with the orange" names are similar enough that I can eliminate two of them without thinking too hard about it. Because Netflix has finally gotten the fourth season of Z Nation,7 one of the promotional tag lines for which is Have Mercy, I'm inclined to keep that one and drop the other two.

Which means we're stuck with a choice between a name I can't actually pronounce with any confidence, can't spell without copy-pasting from the Wikipedia article, and has associations with a color the seedling doesn't actually produce (Lady Trieu), and a name that's unpleasantly close to an existing name (Have Mercy, which overlaps 176A The Quality Of Mercy). Both are problems, but one's clearly more of a problem than the other, so I guess we're looking at 098B Have Mercy.

Not sure if I can bring Lady Trieu back to try again or not: I'm not likely to get a brilliant yellow bloom from the Schlumbergeras no matter what I do, and even if I wind up confident about the pronunciation at some point down the road, it's still going to be a problem for everybody else if it doesn't sound like "Tree-oo," which is what I'm guessing most native English speakers would come up with. (Maybe "Tree-ow," once in a while.) So. But hey, at least you got to hear about her.


1 (and 012A Sofa Fort, 013A Tantalus, and 113A Helper Dog)
2 Unlike the medium oranges and pinkish-oranges, which seem to turn lighter or darker, redder or less red, pinker or less pink, as the spirit moves them. Combine this with the fact that the same pot can have multiple seedlings -- which may themselves be fluctuating in unknowable schlumbergery ways -- and it's a wonder I have any idea what color any of the seedlings are.
Yes, the adjectival form of "Schlumbergera" is "schlumbergery." Because I say so.
3 There will actually be another case of this later in the year, with pot 019: 019A Belevenissen took over most of the pot and has grown pretty well, but it's apparently left just enough space for a tiny second seedling to grow, and that one has bloomed for the first time this year. Luckily, 019A and 019B flowered simultaneously, so I was able to directly compare the flowers, and they're definitely not the same seedling.
4 Though I am slightly butchering her name because the Vietnamese alphabet is a mess of digraphs and diacritical marks which doesn't lend itself to easy, fast typing. Also I'm not confident that everyone reading this will be able to reproduce the special characters involved. Officially, though, it's Lady Triệu, with a circumflex above the "e" and a dot underneath it.
One consequence of this is that I have no idea how to pronounce her name. The Wikipedia article on the Vietnamese alphabet was surprisingly unhelpful. One of my sources suggests "Jeu Tea Gin" or "Jeu Tea Chin" as an approximate pronunciation, but I have no idea whether this is accurate or not.
5 One assumes she was probably religious to some degree or another, just not in a particularly Joan-of-Arc way. Also, "Joan of Arc" + "Vietnamese" = "Lady Trieu" is obviously a really rough approximation, but it's a comparison made by a lot of the sites that write about her, so I'm going with it anyway.
6 No, seriously: someone should make this movie.
7 Both better than it looks and far superior to The Walking Dead; I bounced hard off of the first episode and had to be convinced to give it a second chance, but I've been glad I did.
To be sure, "superior to The Walking Dead" isn't a high bar to clear -- I stuck with it way longer than was enjoyable for me, but then the episode "Twice As Far" (episode 14 of season six) happened and I threw up my hands in exasperation and have never gone back. Which from what I have heard about season seven was the right call.
Z Nation is at once much more absurd, realistic, and hopeful than The Walking Dead. I mean, yes, you get people who turn blue, and a remarkable scene involving a wheel of cheese. But at the same time, it's not 107 episodes of meeting people and then watching them die horrible deaths at one another's hands.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 095 (again)

095B is the first good seedling of the year. It's not doing anything new, and it didn't do enough (only got one bloom), but it's a less common color than 018B Fifth-Year Senior, and it photographed better than 069B I Think She Likes Me, so "good" feels justified.

It's also going to be a problem to name, because I like three out of the four choices very much and will be sad to give up two of them. They are:

Carrie Fisher. You know who Carrie Fisher is. I'm maybe a little hesitant to use the name, because the last time I named a seedling after a recently deceased female celebrity (042A Mary Tyler Moore), the seedling started to fall apart shortly thereafter. But I'm only a little hesitant.1

Come To Fetch Fire will need some explaining. Many years ago, I was at a public library that was selling off some of their old books, and I found a book that had compiled descriptions of local dialect from the U.S. and Canada.2 An awful lot of the book is devoted to alternate pronunciations, which aren't useful for our purposes, but it also includes some local expressions and slang, mostly from the 1930s, which very much are. So you're going to see a lot of American Dialect Dictionary stuff this year. Come To Fetch Fire is, according to the book, a Southern U.S. idiom for "to come & leave at once."3

Pele's Lipstick was proposed by reader Paul in the comments for seedling 217A Blood Frenzy, and then I considered it for 094A Some Clowns, but I was unsure about 094A's quality, so I decided to save the name for a more solid seedling.4 Is this one that seedling? We'll find out soon enough.

And then We're All Still Here, which has personal significance to me, but I'm not going to explain it.

First one to go is We're All Still Here, mostly because the other three are all a lot more visual. And we can lose Carrie Fisher (for now; she'll come back) on the grounds that the other names kind of have to be in the red or orange neighborhood, but a "Carrie Fisher" could be any color, and might actually make more sense as a white seedling, given that she wore white for one of her more famous roles.5

So, Come To Fetch Fire or Pele's Lipstick?

Well. Come To Fetch Fire does make more sense for a fiery-colored seedling that's only bloomed once. And the fact that it's only bloomed once also means that the overall quality of the seedling is difficult to gauge. If I didn't want to name 094A Pele's Lipstick because I wasn't sure if it was a good seedling or not, then maybe I should hold off on it for this seedling as well.

On the other hand, even if it's only bloomed one time so far, this seedling is really likely to produce another bloom at some point, at which time Come To Fetch Fire will make less sense. And the first bloom wasn't notably short-lived or anything. I've been hanging on to the name Pele's Lipstick for a couple years now, I like it better, it's slightly shorter to type, and it's even more visual, so I think this one is 095B Pele's Lipstick even despite the reasons why Come To Fetch Fire makes more sense. They're my seedlings, and I can be as arbitrary about their names as I want. So there.


1 It doesn't look good for Mary, though. I haven't officially thrown 042A out yet, but we're at the point where I probably ought to. In which case I should recycle the name, because she's the patron saint of the blog and everything.
2 (Harold Wentworth. American Dialect Dictionary. Cambridge, MA: The Riverside Press, 1944.)
3 It's also possible that it's a widespread contemporary phrase that I've somehow missed hearing; one of the surprising things about reading the book cover to cover is that some of these local words and idioms took off and became part of everyday American speech. So if you're reading the whole book, you're constantly bouncing back and forth between why is that in here? That's not local dialect; everybody says that to oh my god, this is like slang from another planet, that's so cool.
The point being that although I was unfamiliar with some of the terms, they might be perfectly ordinary, everyday language to you.
The dictionary usually doesn't explain the origin of the term; the mental image I formed for "come to fetch fire" is of someone whose fire at home has gone out, so they go to get a burning coal from someone else, and can't stay at the other person's place or else the ember will die. This may or may not have anything to do with the actual origin.
4 An instinct which turned out to be correct: Some Clowns hasn't been doing well this year either. A big chunk of the plant shriveled and dropped off a couple months ago. Though at least it hasn't all died.
5 And oh my goodness are we going to have some white seedlings to name, later on. So many white seedlings. Never ever cross a white Schlumbergera with anything, unless you're looking to breed the perfect white Schlumbergera.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Schlumbergera seedling no. 069 (again)

For whatever reason, the first four seedlings to bloom for the first time this year were "B" seedlings (i.e., they were the second seedling to bloom from the pot they were in). I'm not 100% certain that 018B (previously) and 098B are separate seedlings, but 069B and 095B definitely were. So let's take a look at 069B.

It's only bloomed once this year. The red/pink seedlings (like 054A Helpful Gesture, 078A Art Party, 103B Must Be Love, and 244A That's My Purse) are usually reluctant bloomers. The only exceptions I can think of are 099B Karma Cobra, and maybe 208A Raspberry Possum, though Raspberry Possum is still a very moody bloomer -- some years I get nothing, some years I get a reasonable number of flowers. So there's a good chance that this one bloom is all 069B will give me this year.

The four name finalists are:

I Think She Likes Me, which is a song title (from Treat Her Right) but also works fine if you don't know the song. Song lyrics or titles are always risky for me, because I can get the song stuck in my head every time I read the name, but I don't think I'd be too upset to have this one stuck in my head.

Old Dog New Tricks, which is just a reference to being one of the "B" seedlings.

Pink Disco Trilobite, previously considered for 074A Vroom, 208A Raspberry Possum, and 089B Haunted Houseboat. Doesn't really make sense, except insofar as trilobites are/were neat and there's pink in the flower. I don't know why I keep coming back to this one, but apparently some part of my brain likes it. (And as far as it goes, it would probably have been better for seedling 208A than "Raspberry Possum." Sometimes I pick the wrong name.)

What About The Love was also previously considered (for 178A Lulu's Night Off); it's a song reference as well.

I'm not thrilled with any of these names, but the rules of the game say I have to pick one, so let's start eliminating.

I'm going to drop Old Dog New Tricks, because "dog" references have previously been used for seedlings that seemed inferior.1 069B isn't fantastic or anything, but it's probably not a dog. Hell, most of the "dogs" haven't even been dogs.2

And I'd feel better about Pink Disco Trilobite if I knew that this was a particularly good seedling. I like the name, I should like the seedling that gets it. So, one name is gone because the seedling wasn't bad enough to deserve it, and now one name is dropped because the seedling wasn't good enough.

Which leaves us with I Think She Likes Me and What About The Love, and . . . well, as important as I think the message of What About The Love is, I also suspect that the name will depress me every time I read it, because it's sad that it's necessary to remind people of that. If that makes sense. Which it probably doesn't. So by process of elimination, we have 069B I Think She Likes Me. Not super satisfying, but there wasn't an option I was going to be 100% happy with, so I guess I can live with it.


1 060A Wet Dog, 084A Downward-Facing Dog, 113A Helper Dog.
2 As it turns out, Downward-Facing Dog is normal, neither especially bad nor especially good, and Helper Dog turned out to be pretty neat. Don't know how Wet Dog turned out; a reader asked for it, so I sent it to them, and that's the last I heard about it.

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.