Saturday, September 5, 2015

Anthurium no. 0365 "Murray Hill"

Murray Hill is one of the world's better-known drag kings.1 Which isn't saying a lot -- drag kings haven't gotten nearly the same amount of attention that drag queens have -- but still. I don't know exactly why drag kings haven't yet become A Thing, but I have theories:

• It's possible that it's more technically difficult to fake stereotypical male features like big muscles and facial hair (especially facial hair) than it is to fake breasts and put on a wig. Though I suppose shoulder pads, at least, are easy enough.
• Maybe women, as a group, just aren't that interested in doing drag. (Though that doesn't really explain anything: if they're not interested, why are they not interested?)
• Maybe sexist club owners are less inclined to book drag kings than drag queens, so it's harder to find an audience, and budding drag kings give up. Or, conversely, maybe club owners are perfectly happy to book drag kings, but there's no audience interested in watching them. (This article explains the situation thus: "Straight women find [male drag] threatening because it’s like, Does this mean I’m a lesbian if I think this guy’s cute? Straight men find it threatening because, after all, that’s supposed to be their domain. And lesbians find it threatening because it seems like this is the stereotype of what a lesbian is — a women who wants to be a man.")
• The husband suggested that maybe it's a matter of exaggeration -- drag queens aren't just dressing up as women, they're dressing up as super-glamorous women, with eye-catching dresses, huge hair, and the outsize personalities to match; exaggerate men too far and you wind up with Ron Swanson. Who is funny, sure, but you can only exaggerate the strong silent type so far before it shades into catatonia. ("Maybe a country music star?" the husband suggested, and I was like, oh, yeah, actually one of the bigger drag kings, Gage Gatlyn, has been doing Tim McGraw for years, that makes sense.) Though there are plenty of male stereotypes besides just strong-silent.
• Maybe the world is just waiting for a breakout star to appear and create an audience for drag kings, like RuPaul did in the early 90s. RuPaul is actually in a good position to make that happen, with her show (RuPaul's Drag Race), there's some support for the idea from previous contestants, and drag kings have auditioned for RPDR; it's just a matter of actually, you know, doing it.
Also, just to underline it: that last link is a video of a woman, pretending to be a man (and, in spots, pretending to be a man who is pretending to be a woman), who is lip-synching to a song perfomed by a man who's famous mostly for pretending to be a woman.
• Maybe I'm out of the loop, being out here in Iowa, and everyone who matters (i.e. the people in large cities on the U.S. coasts) knows about drag kings already.
• I found one really interesting article about drag kings in which a king blamed "shaming from the drag queen community" for stifling a fairly robust late-1990s drag king scene in New York. So maybe it's an internal LGBT problem. A few performers interviewed for that article say that audiences who come for drag queens are usually very bad audiences for drag kings: "audiences at male drag venues are so conditioned to cheer for queens that they sit in baffled silence through even the best king’s performance." Which is interesting. Why would that be?
• All of the above?
• None of the above?

Whatever the reason why kings haven't taken off yet, I feel like the moment is right for a drag king to break into the mainstream within the next decade, and Murray Hill seems like a good candidate.2 He's got a definite shtick, not "man" or even "exaggerated man" but "slightly lecherous drunk mid-1960s Rat Pack comedian," and does it well --

-- so, you know, remember the name.

All of the above is to distract you from the fact that I don't have a whole lot to say about the seedling "Murray Hill."3 He's another member of the social science clique: dark red spathes; green spadices that turn white; fairly compact habit; dull, dark green leaves.

He's not doing anything new, and to be honest 0357 "Rhea Litré" and 0360 "Heidi Gosique" are both better, by virtue of having superior foliage.

But Murray is certainly good enough to consider a keeper for now. (There's no rule that I can't have as many dark red / greens as I want.) If I ever get the scale and thrips under control, I might sell him, but that's a hell of an "if."


1 Not to be confused with his namesake, the Manhattan neighborhood of Murray Hill. Also, Hill hates to be called a "drag king:" I gather that the problem is that it implies that he's not actually male. He stays in character all the time, apparently.
'It's fascinating to me how Murray keeps up this boozy, B-grade Rat Pack persona 100 percent of the time,' says Earl Dax, who produces the "Direct From NYC" performance series in Philadelphia. 'One time Murray stayed at my apartment. First thing in the morning, there he was, in boxers and a T-shirt. I said, "Good morning," and he said, "Hey, kid! How ya doin?"'
I assume Murray the human being is aware of being a drag king, but obviously it would be upsetting to Murray the character, and if Murray the human never breaks character, then, well. . . .
2 And there has in fact apparently been some interest in developing a Murray Hill TV pilot, though I gather from this article that that's never gone past a sort of wouldn't-it-be-nice hypothetical thing. For what it's worth to any producers who might be reading this: I'd be interested! Do it!
3 I mean, I also think it's interesting stuff to talk about, but I always worry when I stray too far from the topic of plants, because that's all that I know you (the generic / collective "you") like to read about.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Pretty picture: Dendrobium Violet Fizz 'Luna'

I might side-eye the use of the word "violet" here (even "magenta" might be a stretch), but if it weren't for nonsensical and factually incorrect orchid names, we would have no orchid names at all, so I suppose I'd allow it anyway.

The show didn't have many Dendrobiums this year, but this was probably the prettiest of the ones they had. I was kind of amazed by how thick the stem was: I knew Dendrobium was a large and varied genus, but I wasn't expecting anything like this.

Dendrobium Violet Fizz 'Luna' = Dendrobium Happy Honey x Dendrobium Cassiope (Ref.)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Anthurium no. 0373: "Shangela Laquifa Wadley"

The less said about Shangela, the better, I think. Boring color, a spathe so pockmarked by thrips (or something) that it looked polka-dotted,

crappy foliage,

just an all-around mess.

The only nice thing I can think of to say about 0373 is that yes, it did bloom, and not all of the seedlings do. Which is practically the definition of damning with faint praise.

You'd think I would have thrown it out already, but, you know: inertia, the inexplicable hope that just maybe the second bloom will be awesome somehow, resistance to throw any seedling out until it's proven itself irredeemable, etc. It's definitely out of here as soon as I work myself up to a second purge, though. Earlier, if it gets scale. Which would be totally in character, so it'll probably happen.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Anthurium no. 0371 "Deb Autry"

So round 1 of the Anthurium seedling purge has ended, and a total of 32 seedlings are gone (plus nine others that just happened to die during the purge period).1 This is sort of unpleasant, but at the same time, hanging on to a bunch of lazy, non-blooming, long-internoded seedlings had been preventing anything else from happening. No room to expand, no way to promote promising 3- or 4-inch seedlings up to 4- or 6-inch pots, no room for potting up any new seedlings. So I threw out 32 4-inch plants, and initiated a "repotting cascade:" empty space lets me shuffle plants around, which creates room for new plants to move up, which creates more empty space, which means some of the next-smallest size of plants can move up, which produces empty space in a different area, etc.

I haven't actually followed that through to its inevitable end just yet; time has been short, and I seem to have injured a shoulder besides, so keeping everything watered is work enough, but soon, I'll have a new batch of seedlings moving out of the cupcake containers and into pots.

I'd feel bad about the purged seedlings, but the minimum for being a purge candidate was that it had been around for at least three years, without producing any buds (whether or not those buds went to completion or not), and I still kept roughly three out of every four plants I considered throwing away.

(None of this really has anything to do with the seedling du jour, 0371 "Deb Autry," but it's news, and I have to record this sort of thing somewhere.)

Deb is one of a group of seedlings in the mid-300s that produce red or dark red spathes along with green or yellow-green spadices (others include 0357 "Rhea Litré" and 0360 "Heidi Gosique"), all of whom are probably 'Gemini' x NOID red crosses. Deb's spathe is a lighter red than the others, and a little bit smaller than Rhea and Heidi so far, but she's still good.

Most of the group (which I think of as the "social science clique," because that's where their numbers fall in the Dewey Decimal System2) has pretty nice foliage, which also fits the theory that they're 'Gemini' x NOID red; Deb's leaves aren't the clique's best, but they're above average when compared to all seedlings.

Same comment for the plant as a whole -- not the best in the clique, but better than average among the seedlings generally.

So although the competition is continually getting tougher, as more and more seedlings bloom, I don't think Deb has anything to worry about. I'm not necessarily going to up-pot her, but I won't throw her out unless she's irresponsible enough to get root rot or scale or something like that.


1 The list of purged plants:
0007 "Coco Peru"
0009 "Dame Edna Everage"
0012 "Heklina"
0030 "Sister Roma"
0034 "Alaska Thunderfuck"[a]
0037 "CoCo Montrese"
0050 "Roxxxy Andrews"
0093 "Claire Leah Goodpick"[b]
0094 "Clara Path"
0098 "Julee Antonellis"
0124 "Fox Saik"[c]
0143 "Gracie Spoon"
0156 "Igor Tulerne"
0179 "Katie Boundary"[d]
0210 "Myra Venge"
0242 "Saffron Sisko"
0250 "Sheila Blige"[e]
0256 "Sue Parduper"
0261 "Tim Berwulf"
0277 "Zach Treplica"[f]
0278 "Hailey Escorpus"
0301 "Serena ChaCha"
0308 "Gladys Bentley"
0348 "Yara Sofia"
0561 "Belinda Chinashop"[g]
0563 "Marian Cousins"
0566 "Bebe Zahara Benet"
0569 "Sherry Vine"
0572 "Autumn Bahn"
0573 "Adore Delano"
0576 "Pearl Harper"
0587 "Susan Sokhsov"
plus the nine that just happened to die, who don't count.
[a] Alaska had bloomed before, but developed root rot. Two suckers survived, but the bloom wasn't special enough to make it worth nursing the suckers along until they hit blooming size. Alaska deserves a more interesting seedling named after her anyway. Maybe the next Alaska Thunderfuck will be better.
[b] Claire had produced a bud like a week prior to the purge, but I didn't remember to look for it when I was throwing plants away, and it didn't jump out at me, and the rest of the plant was crappy-looking. From the pre-purge photo of the bud, we're not missing anything -- it was very pale, which means it would probably have been pink, and it had a bunch of brown spots on it besides, which may or may not have been from thrips.
[c] Fox had attempted to produce a bud once, more than a year ago, but had not shown any inclination to try again, and had weird, misshapen leaves besides.
[d] Katie had bloomed previously (red / yellow, medium size), and I liked her fine, but she went and got scale. As with Alaska, I liked Katie, but she wasn't special enough to try to fix.
[e] Sheila had also attempted to bud, twice, but she dropped the first one before it got anywhere, and the second attempt was so small and light in color that I missed seeing it. She had a very long internodal distance, so I don't feel too bad about throwing her out either.
[f] Zach had started and aborted two buds already, which was frustrating, and they were both pale and scarred-up, like Claire's, which made me think the blooms would have been crap anyway. Also his internodes were really long and the leaves were small and he was just generally crap.
[g] Belinda had a bud briefly in June, but aborted. The bud seemed potentially nice while it was around (red, unblemished), but the rest of her was terrible.
2 (specifically 357 to 371: from "mounted forces in warfare" to "schools and their activities / special education")