Saturday, July 15, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 133

Unimaginable though it seems, we've hit the last Schlumbergera of the season.1 You thought the day would never come, I thought the day would never come, yet here we are. I would have liked to go out with more of a bang, but I suppose there are still the upcoming Schlummy awards.2

So what we've got is an average-to-good white. I said a few days ago that I thought I had a single obvious name for it which would make this post easy, but there was frustratingly little information about the person I had chosen, Aisha Bakari Gombi: basically just one article in The Guardian, duplicated verbatim on a number of other sites. The number of search results give the impression that there was a lot more information to be had than there actually is, and the Guardian article is frustratingly short on details. So I decided to look for another name.

So I shuffled name ideas around until I had four, two color-appropriate (Mae West,3 Vapor Trail4) and two that made reference to this seedling's timing (Fading Commotion, Skip To The End).

Skip To The End almost makes sense, but doesn't quite (after all, we didn't skip to this end: it was a long, slow slog through a ton of orange seedlings, just like every year before this one), so it's gone. And it occurs to me that I'll have a lot more chances to name white seedlings than I will last-seedling-of-the-year seedlings, so it might be better to go with Fading Commotion, just to get the name used up. So this one is officially going to be 133A Fading Commotion.


1 (Seedling 142 continues to develop, but half the time, these late-season buds wind up dropping. In the event that it does wind up opening, it will be a lot more convenient for me to consider it an early 2017-18 seedling than a late 2016-17 one.)
2 Next Wednesday. Mark your calendars.
3 (previously considered for 067A Cyndi Lauper and 290A Our Lady Of Assumption)
4 (previously considered for 193A Arcade Gannon and 111A Morning Sun)

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Anthurium no. 1153 "Tintim"

This one's not especially interesting, but there's a run of unusual Anthurium seedlings coming up after it. Just in case you feel like getting excited early.

It's hard to come up with much to say about TinTim; its most notable for being one of the few known seedlings of 'Pandola' to bloom. 'Pandola' was a great plant, and we'll eventually see that some of its seedlings are quite nice,1 but most of them have problems with thrips to some degree or another, and TinTim has really bad thrips problems. The photo above is of his first bloom; below we have the second.

In fairness, the crack on the right side is my fault; I did it while setting the bloom up for photos. All the cracking at the bottom of the spathe, though, is not my fault. Probably the thrips' idea.

Also, for whatever reason, both spadices to date have had multiple slight bends in them, which does happen with the Anthuriums sometimes but it's unusual for them to be quite this crooked, two blooms in a row.

Also the plant as a whole is in bad shape, though some or most of that is my fault; his root system's never been very good, and recently the plant was almost entirely pulled out of the pot, so right now he's trying to function on a single root.2 I doubt this is going to work for very long; I actually can't remember a time when giving a seedling a chance to re-root has ever been successful, and the leaves are already wilting.

Verdict: almost certainly not a keeper.

The drag queen TinTim is difficult to search for,3 but I did find a YouTube channel and Twitter account.

I found one video especially interesting, in which TinTim answers a question about whether or not faux queens (biological women who perform as drag queens; I've mentioned them here a couple times before) are appropriating gay culture. TinTim's answer is basically no, but what I liked about the video was that she links it to the question of whether drag itself is appropriative of women, and then talks about the way that RuPaul's Drag U was a little uncomfortable to watch sometimes because of the dynamic between the drag queens and the women they were helping.4

My general feeling on this sort of question tends toward let a million flowers bloom, i.e., let everybody do what they want unless it's directly harmful to others. There doesn't seem to be any evidence that gay male drag queens are having trouble finding gigs because of the existence of faux queens; I might feel differently if there were. But I think it's delightful we're at the point where women performing as men who are performing as women is a thing. (It's just so ridiculous. . . .)

I'm unsure whether drag queens are appropriative of women or not: I lean toward the idea that they're at least not necessarily so. Some individual queens are sexist or racist or otherwise objectionable, but I don't think that reflects on the form specifically; to the extent that drag is a mockery of femininity, it's more often a mockery of extreme, cartoonish, over the top femininity. And these days, we have drag kings to mock extreme masculinity in turn,5 so it seems the two things should cancel one another out.6 But I'm also only seeing it from my own perspective, as an enthusiastic outsider, so I'm sure I'm missing a lot of things. Even if the answer truly is no, drag queens are not stealing anything from women, it's still worth asking the question occasionally.


1 The only 'Pandola' seedlings to bloom so far, besides 1153 TinTim, are:
0045 Lineysha Sparx (fine but nothing special; was lost in one of the purges)
1256 Mr. Completely (meh but at least not terrible)
1262 Reggie (a little bit interesting, maybe actually good)
1265 Inez Paloma (very nice . . . except for one thing)
2 (The photo of the whole plant was taken before this happened; it looks considerably worse now.)
3 "TinTim" mostly gets you stuff about the comic The Adventures of Tintin. My French and Portuguese aren't good enough to understand why, but it looks like the same character is named "Tintin" in some languages and "TinTim" in others. I have no familiarity with the character at all personally; apparently he was never that popular in the U.S., and was a little before my time as well.
4 RuPaul's Drag U was a short-lived (3-season) reality makeover show in which cisgendered, mostly straight women were given the opportunity to dress up as drag queens, with the assistance of some of the queens who had appeared on previous seasons of RuPaul's Drag Race. Basically a sort of "faux queen for a day" deal. I didn't watch all of it, and don't have particularly vivid memories of the parts I did watch; it was meant to be a fairly lighthearted makeover show without all the drama and competition of Drag Race, and it was.
I do remember thinking that it was a weird choice to only makeover women, that a show in which aspiring or new drag queens got help and tips from older and more experienced queens could be a lot more interesting. (Especially since Drag Race spent less and less time explaining how drag actually worked as it went on -- a show that focused more on the art and technical aspects, instead of the drama and performances, would have been very compelling to me.) I suppose the producers might have foreseen problems with male Drag U contestants applying to be on Drag Race somehow; maybe it would have been perceived as stacking the Drag Race deck in favor of some contestants and not others? Though the editing on Drag Race did that anyway, really blatantly, so I'm not sure why it would matter.
5 This is one of the reasons why I wish drag kings were more prominent and famous: I feel like extreme, cartoonish masculinity is a much bigger problem at the moment than extreme, cartoonish femininity, because there are a lot of people who genuinely behave as though being a man hinges on emulating cartoon masculinity, in destructive ways. A few well-placed drag kings could go a long way toward puncturing that belief. Or at least I'd like to think they could.
6 Not to mention that the extreme femininity that drag queens parody is, itself, mostly the creation of powerful and influential men.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Schlumbergera seedling no. 167

Wait. Seriously, nobody has anything to say about Japanese beetles? [This was true at the time I wrote it, but is no longer true as you read it, now. Sorry for any confusion.-Mr. S.] Would a dramatic visual aid help?


I accept that this is largely my fault -- growing a monoculture of a single clone, planting Cannas in the same bed year after year, being less diligent about picking beetles off leaves than I should have been last year, when these beetles' parents were around, etc. -- but there must be something I can do besides hand-picking beetles off of the plants. In four days, I've removed something like 1000-1500 individual beetles, and yet if I stand outside for five minutes I can watch ten more fly in from somewhere. It feels shitty.2 Tell me how to fix it.

*deep sigh*

So there's a seedling to name. Specifically, this one:

And I didn't come up with four name finalists, because it's the second to last Schlumbergera of the season and I'm tired and also trying to prepare for the 2016-17 Schlummies (scheduled for 19 July). I thought about bringing back Free Kesha3 as a descriptive (rather than imperative) name, because I'm happy for her, and I like her new song, but she's young enough that I can't be sure she won't turn into a terrible person someday. Young people become terrible old people all the time, after all. And I considered Love Is All Around (a.k.a. the theme song for The Mary Tyler Moore Show), but it seemed like that would be tempting a permanent MTM earworm, and I don't think I like the song quite that much.

Eventually, I decided to pick one of the names that honor specific people who are/were personally important to me. It happens that this one will also get a song stuck in my head, but I don't think I'll mind nearly as much in this case, because I've become exceptionally attached to the song. The song is Tom Waits' "Time;" the seedling name is East Of East St. Louis.

Only one Schlumbergera left, and I think it's going to mirror the first one of the season (283A Migaloo), in that it's also white, and I'm fairly certain that I already have a name picked out. [Aaaaaand this might not be true either; there's a good-sized bud on seedling 142, in the basement, which I didn't notice until Monday night. It's going to be white also. -Mr. S.]


1 That photo is less dramatic than it could be, actually: not only was it taken on the fourth day of Japanese-beetle hunting, which in theory reduces the number of beetles even if it doesn't seem to make a difference in practice, but also it had rained the night before and I think a lot of beetles just hadn't felt brave enough to venture out yet. I've seen more beetles per leaf before, is what I'm saying.
2 All the more so because the Cannas weren't having a good year anyway. They got in the ground late, and then we didn't water during some dry spells when we should have been watering. Sheba's broken a few stems off at the base while chasing after tennis balls. The squirrels have dug up a few, and have taken to chewing the new leaves off before they unfurl: it's unclear what purpose this behavior might serve, but the husband says he's seen it.
I mean, who knows why squirrels do anything, really. I imagine one of the best things about being a squirrel is never having to explain yourself.
3 (previously considered for 211A Bruce Lee)

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Anthurium no. 0728 "Sister Dimension"

It's not particularly on-topic, but I'd like to say that I hate Japanese beetles (Popillia japonica). So much. Two days in a row now, I've been out picking them off the Cannas1 and gotten about 200-250 individual beetles both days. I'm pretty sure that's the worst it's ever been, and I don't know if the reason is because it's an especially bad Japanese beetle year or if we're just growing that many more plants, but surely it's one or both of those.2

Does milky spore live up to the hype? 'Cause I'm interested.

As for our actual subject today, I'm pretty happy with seedling 0728.

There have been other seedlings with similar coloration, most notably 0097 Colin Ambulance, 0694 Brad Romance, 0791 Joslyn Fox, 0805 Triana Hill, and 1181 Tajma Stetson. Sister Dimension doesn't do everything better than all of them, but she blooms more frequently than Triana, has bigger spathes than Tajma, seems less prone to thrips damage than Colin, holds her color better than Brad, and doesn't flip her spathe back like Joslyn, so she's at least playing in the same league as the others, if not decisively superior to them all.

Left column, top to bottom: 0097 Colin Ambulance, 0728 Sister Dimension, 0805 Triana Hill.
Right: 0694 Brad Romance, 0791 Joslyn Fox, 1181 Tajma Stetson.

The plant as a whole could be better:

the leaves are nicely-shaped and glossy, but there's more thrips damage than I would like.

Nevertheless, Sister Dimension is a keeper.

It's easy to find websites that mention the drag queen Sister Dimension, but very difficult to find anything that explains who she is, what sort of thing she did, or whether she's still performing. Which is irritating. Best I could come up with on short notice is that she was a queen in the East Village drag scene in the 1990s, in the same circles as RuPaul and Lady Bunny. Not sure which one she is, but she's apparently in the (in-?)famous "Pickle Surprise" video (as are Ru and Lady Bunny):

Which is itself probably sufficient to give an idea of the sorts of things going on in the East Village in the 1990s.

You're welcome.


1 They don't, so far, seem interested in the houseplants I've got outside for the summer (mostly Euphorbia tirucalli, Ficus benjamina, and Coffea arabica. I pretty much never have to worry about the Euphorbias, which is why I love E. tirucalli so much even though it occasionally tries to blind me.).
2 We also got the plants out later than usual this year, and the squirrels have gone after them worse than usual too. Dunno if either of those makes a difference?