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.