Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Show me the Money!

The lacy dressed fellow above is one Jacques Necker, born this day 1732 in Geneva, Switzerland. M. Necker is a blast from the past in more ways than one. Of course the first way is the fact that he was around when the French Revolution took place, but reason number two is more personal. In a previous life I was a history graduate student (and a piss poor one by all accounts), and M. Necker was briefly an object of study for me. More to the point some bastard professor made me read some dry as dust tome about M. Necker, and his financial reforms as King Louis XVI's finance minister. The financial wizardry that he possessed led to him being hailed as a hero in a France on the verge of revolution. However, that wizardry was, sadly for him, limited to financial matters. He was, again sadly for him, eventually called on to be more than a numbers guy. King Louis needed a stateman, and Necker was not a statesman. His dismissal from his job on July 11th, 1789, led to widespread public angry, and the King was forced to recall him to his position. Alas, no manner of financial genius could save France from the road to ruin, and the revolution broke out three days later. M. Necker stayed in office till 1790, but he was unable to regain his magic touch, and resigned with his reputation in ruins. His other claim to fame is not too shabby either he was the father of Madame de Stael, who grew up to be a fairly famous author in her own right. So for at least trying to save France from the ruin of revolution, and for being a central character in a lot of those, now largely forgotten, graduate studies of mine, Jacques Necker (September 30th, 1732- April 9th, 1804 at the age of 71), you are my hero of the day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Sign here, here, and here

A little light on the hero front today, but the show must go on as they say. The smiling fellow above is one Laszlo Biro born this day 1899, in Budapest, Austria-Hungary. His major, and as far as I can ascertain, only claim to fame is that he invented the ball point pen. His money making idea came to him while he was working as a journalist in Hungary. While scribbling away he noticed that newspaper ink after drying left the paper smudge free. He attempted to put the same type ink in a fountain pen, and it was a miserable failure. Not to be deterred he put his head together with his brother, a chemist, and developed the new tip that allowed the ink to be picked up by the "ball point." Thus, a item we all take for granted everyday, and one that I personally use to sign my name about 30 times a day. In 1950, he sold the patent to a fellow named Marcel Bich, and the Bic pen was born. Anyone who has ever closed on a house owes M. Biro a word or two of thanks. In some countries the word "biro" entered the lexicon as a substitute for the word "pen." What greater claim to fame do you need? So, for making it easier for me to sign my, and others people's lives away. Laslzo Biro (September 29th, 1899-October 24th 1985, in Buenos Aires at the age of 86), you are my hero of the day.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Bad News Bears

The stern looking fellow above is one Prosper Merimee born this day 1803, in Paris, France. Today's hero post was going to be very short because I thought that M. Merimee's major reason for being my hero was the fact that he wrote the story that the opera Carmen by Bizet was based upon. Of course the Bizet version is a mere shadow of the real story, and its claim to fame (for me at least) is that it was the theme music for the Bad News Bears (the original with Walter Matthau). Clearly this shows you the kind of culture I was exposed to as a child. Limited to say the very least, but still it is a lovely story, and lovely music, and a lovely film. It is also a bit like theme music for my workplace environment. The "unit" to which I am assigned are a bit like the Bad News Bears (I have been assigned the role of Tanner, the foul-mouthed shortstop), and we even have our very own Buttermaker. As I said that was pretty going to be all of M. Merimee's heroic deeds that I knew about, but upon further research (and I do encourage further research), I found out a few more reasons to anoint him a hero. His other claim to fame is that he was appointed Inspector General of Historic Monuments in 1834, a post he held until 1860. His task was to try to preserve France's "history." Which entailed his traveling about the country looking at old shit for a living. He was, in his opinion, very well suited for the job because "it appeals to both my idleness, and my love of travel." That travel was not as much fun as he first thought, bad roads, bad food, bug-ridden beds, and women that remained (much to his dismay, for he loved the ladies) solidly virtuous. Sounds like a traveling horror show, especially when you throw it the massively stupid locals who would turn true works of art into stables, or prisons. Many of the buildings he was supposed to save were near to collapse. His title was in some respects merely that, a title, he possessed "moral authority" but not much else. He stayed in one particular shithole one night, and was plagued by bed bugs. His sleeping quarters were adorned with a spectacular bas relief sculpture of god. Since Merimee was a bit upset about the bed bugs, and blamed god for inventing them he took his walking stick, and knocked the head off of the figure of god. Good stuff that. Part of the irony of his position was that he was a convinced atheist, but was charged with protecting historical buildings that were quite often churches, cathedrals, or other buildings used for religious purposes. That kind of irony might even please an Englishman. So for writing a great story that was put to great music, and for probably saving some building that my stupid ass gawked up at in utter awe on my one, glorious trip to Paris and Nice, Prosper Merimee (September 28th 1803-September 23rd, 1870 at the age of 66), you are my hero of the day.

Sunday, September 27, 2009


The object of today's history lesson is the well drawn fellow above one Thomas Nast, born this day 1840 in Landau, Germany. The drawing above is a self-portrait by Mr. Nast. After going to sea on a French man of war, and then later on an American ship, Nast joined his family in New York City. The bright lights of the Big Apple were where he was going to make himself a star, and a hero. It was by drawing lovely cartoons that Mr. Nast became known as the "Father of the American Cartoon." All of us fans of gentle, and not so gentle satire owe him a debt of gratitude. All the political cartoons that we are sometimes amused by, sometimes offended by, and sometimes puzzled by, are the result of the drawing talent that nature bestowed upon Mr. Nast. Being artistically challenged ( I can just about draw a stick man), I can appreciated his talent even while I am eaten up with jealousy about his about to sketch drawings of such complexity. Perhaps his greatest claim to fame are the political cartoons he drew attacking Boss Tweed and the corruption ring of Tammany Hall that had been running City Hall in New York City for years. His cartoons are credited with being a major reason in Boss Tweed's downfall. In fact, when Tweed tried to flee the country, first to Cuba then to Spain, he was recognized by authorities in Spain by a drawing of Tweed done by Nast. He contributed many of the drawing that today we take as icons. He was the first to draw Santa Claus as the fat, jolly bastard he is depicted as today. He drew and attached the donkey as a symbol for the Democratic Party, and the elephant that is the symbol for the Republican party. He also gave us the image by which American is mostly known by today, that of Uncle Sam. In 1902, he was appointed as Consul General to Ecuador by then president Theodore Roosevelt. It was this job that brought his drawing career to its final conclusion, he died there of yellow fever later that year, but for giving us all those enduring images, and for showing us less gifted what it is to actually be able to draw, Thomas Nast (September 27th, 1840- December 7th 1902, at the age of 62), you are my hero of the day.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

A not so Melancholy Dane

The elegantly dressed fellow above is one Christian X of Denmark born this day 1870 in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was born as the oldest child of the then reigning King of Denmark, Fredrick VIII, so he was the heir to the throne from birth. Probably not such a bad gig being heir to the throne. I would not know since the Inquisitor Empire that I am heir to does not contain a throne. Actually, it contains pretty much jack shit, so I am heir to the throne of nothing. He became King in 1912, after his father was found dead on a park bench from an heart attack in Hamburg, Germany. Christian X was a big fan of the royal dignity, and royal power in the age that democracy was beginning to spread its little wings. His popularity stemmed from his role in opposing the Nazi during the German occupation of Denmark during World War II. In contrast to other reigning monarchs, Christian X decided not to go into exile, choosing to remain in his capital as a symbol to his people. He did this by taking daily horseback rides through Copenhagen without so much as one guard. When it was commented upon, people would say that the people of Denmark were his guards. While on these rides, he would always acknowledge the greeting of the Danish population while studiously ignoring the German soldier's salutes. He responded to Adolph Hitler's lengthy telegram wishing him a happy 72nd birthday with a mere four word reply. It was a real, and serious slight. Hitler reacted by expelling the Danish ambassador from Berlin, and forcing a more "complainant" prime minister on Christian. The best legend concerning him was that the Germans did not want to let the Danish flag fly over his castle, and threatened to send a German soldier to haul down the Danish flag. Christian responded that he would send a Danish soldier to raise it again, the Germans replied they would shoot that Danish soldier, and Christian said "that Danish soldier will be me." Good, solid, manly stuff that especially when coming from a 70 something year old man. It was on one of his famous rides through Copenhagen that his horse fell, and Christian was injured and became an invalid until his death in 1947. So, for standing up, even though it was only mental resistance," and basically telling Hitler to fuck himself, Christian X of Denmark (September 26th, 1870- April 20th, 1947 at the age of 76), you are my hero of the day.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Bounty

The dashing young fellow above is one Fletcher Christian, born this day 1764 in Cumberland, England. Raised in genteel poverty that was in the main brought on by his mother's irresponsibility with money, Christian joined the British navy in 1783. However, as most of us know it is for his actions on the HMS Bounty that has gained him hero status. Setting sail two days before Christmas in the year 1787, the Bounty's mission was to sail to Tahiti, and bring back breadfruit, and breadfruit plants for transplanting of the crop to the West Indies. It was seen as a cheap source of food for the slaves on the sugar plantations there. The Bounty spent five months in Tahiti, gathering and raising breadfruit plants. It was by all accounts paradise, half naked, uninhibited, beautiful native women, plentiful food, abundant sunshine, and a relaxation of ship's discipline. The Bounty eventually set sail for its homeward voyage on April 4th, 1789, Christian was leaving behind a native wife, and possibly a child. On April 28th mutiny broke out, and Captain Bligh and 18 loyal men where cast adrift in the ship's launch. Once again all the details of the mutiny and its aftermath are easily discovered. Christian was a man tormented by his choice, during the mutiny he was repeatedly heard proclaiming that "he was in hell." Clearly, a man at war with himself, and his actions. But, for showing us that sometimes rebels just have to rebel in order to be true to themselves, and in spite of some of his reprehensible actions, Fletcher Christian (September 25th 1764-October 3rd, 1793, killed on Pitcairn's Island at the age of 29), you are my hero of the day.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It Ain't Easy Being Green

The unkempt fellow above is one Jim Henson born this day 1936, in Greenville, Mississippi. He is the fellow responsible for "creating" the Muppets. Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Gonzo the Great, Statler and Waldorf, and all those other priceless characters are products of his fertile imagination, and wonderful talent. As a student of studio arts at the University of Maryland, Henson was introduced to what was to be his calling by taking a puppetry class. Who the hell offers a puppetry class? Is that like underwater basket weaving? A course for the clowns, and football team to get credit? Apparently not, because from that class a star, and his cast of characters was born, to the great delight of millions of people around the world. His first foray into TV was a little show called Sam and friends, it contained many of the characters that were to make him famous. In 1969 he got his big break by being asked to work on Sesame Street, and there Bert and Ernie, Oscar the Grouch (one of my personal favourites). This was the break he needed, up till then he had been stuck in the "hell" of making commercials, Sesame Street got him out of that, and in the process entertained millions of latch key kids (myself included). From there he pitched the idea of the Muppet show, it was not well received in the U.S. so he picked up stakes, and moved to England. With the right financial backer, the Muppets made their TV debut in 1976, and history was made. We all know the great shows, and the great movies, and stories of the Muppets, and I can not recommend the Muppets Christmas Carol movie (with Michale Caine as Scrooge) enough. I went to see when it first came out in the theatre, and will never forget the moment after the movie as I was in the backroom taking a lovely whizz, and an eight year old boy sidles up to the urinal next to me, looks up and say "enjoy the movie? I liked it a lot." Priceless stuff. His most endearing character is probably Kermit the Frog, a character he freely admitted was his alter ego, and could "say the things I can't." He was the voice of Kermit, Ernie, Rowlf the Dog, Waldorf, and the Swedish Chef. He was a man of extreme talent, and the world was robbed of his gift way too soon. His death from Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome in 1990 was a great tragedy, and probably completely avoidable. He put off going to the doctor because he did not want to bother people. He had two memorial services on in New York City, and one at St. Paul's Cathedral in London. Pretty impressive for a man who started out as a mere puppet master. So, for entertaining me for all those lonely, childhood hours, and for creating characters that will last forever, Jim Henson (September 24th, 1936-May 16th, 1990 at the age of 53), you are my hero of the day.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Your Untouchable Face

The super sexy woman above is on Ani DeFranco born this day 1970, in Buffalo, New York. She is a fitting heroine for today since she claims to be bisexual, and today for some odd reason, it is Celebrate Bisexuality Day. Woo Hoo. How convenient is that? Although she has been married not once, but twice, and even has a daughter born after she presumably got knocked up the old fashion way, Ani does claim to be a switch hitter, and has written "love" songs to/about people of both genders. Granted, all of her music is not my general type, but she has written some lovely tunes that I even paid to download. I am not sure if this might revoke my "man card" or not. While I can put together a room, and like listening to Ani's music I am still a man damn it, and no I don't wear yellow in public. I just am in touch, so to speak, with my inner lesbian, and Ani helps soothe that part of me that sits up with a pint of ice cream, a box of tissues, and the Lifetime Movie Network. Not that there is anything wrong with that. One song of hers is one of my particular favourites. A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away a girlfriend of the moment called into a radio station and requested Ani's "Your Untouchable Face" and even had them "dedicate" it to me. Go and have a listen to it, or if you can't at least read the lyrics. It is not a love song in the strictest sense of the word, but I was still touched. So, for all her great little tunes that make being dicked over in love feel almost pleasant, Ani Defranco (September 23rd, 1970-present), you are my heroine of the day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

The Great Experimentalist

The rakish looking fellow above is one Michael Faraday, born this day 1791 in Southwark, London. I have to admit that Faraday's hero blog poses some problems. Problems that I have faced before, and have gotten around. The problem is that he did so fucking MUCH good scientific work how best to boil it down, and give a decent account of his life. Suffice to say, I have had this issue before, and I am sure I will have it again. I am quite sure any fool who wants to can go to the Wikipedia page and spend a good half an hour reading all about M. Faraday without me help. I could just cut and paste large swathes of the page here for my loyal fan base to peruse, but that is intellectually dishonest. That is a particularly heinous crime, because Faraday was extremely intellectually honest. He has been referred to in the history of science as the greatest experimentalist ever born. Pretty high praise in the science world, especially coming from a bunch of other scientists (they seem to be a argumentative lot). It was his experiments with electro-magnets, and with DC current that lead to electricity becoming a viable form of technology. He invented an early form of the Bunsen burner, and discover numerous other scientific things that I have no clue as to their meaning. He married once, and had no children, and was a member of some crazy Christian subset, but that does not detract from the man's achievements. I would suspect that the best advice he ever gave was simply this "Work. Finish. Publish." From what I know of the science world today, that advice pretty much sums up what a scientist should be doing in today's world as well. So for being the fellow that helped make it possible for me to flip a switch, and volia! Let there be light, Michael Faraday (September 22nd, 1791-August 25th, 1867 at the age of 76), you are my hero of the day.

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Martians are Coming!

The well turned out fellow above is one Herbert George Wells born this day 1866, in Bromley, Kent, England. Born into a lower middle class family, Wells' education was spotty at best, and he was drawn to reading only by being bed-ridden with a broken leg when he was a child. In order to make ends meet, his parents had to apprentice out Wells and his siblings. His apprenticeships, one as a draper, and one as a chemist, did not go well. Wells married a cousin in 1891, but left her for one of his students (he was working as a teacher at the time), in 1894. He and the student would remain married for the rest of his life, though Wells did "spread the love" during their marriage. Even fathering a child with one of his liaisons. He began his writing career in 1901, and produced the works we all know, and the ones that give him hero status in my world. The War of the Worlds (the work that famously started a near riot when read out by Orson Welles over the radio), The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man. I would rate the Time Machine as my favourite Wells' novel/story. It does contain one of my favourite lines about the two most dangerous words in the English language being "what if." Wells' was politically a socialist, and it was discovered after World War II, that the Germans had his name high on a list of writers that would have been executed had they successfully invaded Great Britain. I guess you could call that a compliment in some way. At least your high on SOME list, and being a high level enemy of the Nazis could only be a good thing for your reputation on the home front. He died in 1934 of unspecified causes, but they may have been related to diabetes. One of his last wishes, not carried out, was the inscription on his tombstone was to read "I told you so. You damned fools." Now that is an epitaph. Probably better for everyone involved that that particular wish was ignored. So, for making the little green men come alive, and terrorize the world, and for showing us that Time is something not to fuck with, H. G. Wells (September 21st, 1866- August 13th, 1946, at the age of 79), you are my hero of the day.

Sunday, September 20, 2009


The footballer above is one Henrik Larsson, born this day 1971, in Helsingborg, Sweden. You will notice that the picture seems to have been taken by a drunk monkey. Well it some respects it was, but I was sober at the time, and I am the one that took it. From my seat at the game in which I got to see my hero live and in person. He will probably be the only hero on my list that I will be able to say that I have seen live. I even got fairly close to him post-game, but managed to keep myself from fa wing all over him like I wanted to. Henke is probably going to top my hero list for a long, long time. He started his playing career at the age of 17 for Hogaborg, a local club in his home town, from there he moved to the bigger local club, Helsingborg. His first stint at Helsingborg yielded 56 goals in 50 appearances. His major move was from the Dutch club Feyenoord, to Scottish giants Celtic in 1997, and it is there that his legend was cemented. I have a friend who is from Glasgow, and who is a Celtic supporter, he would marry Larsson today if he had the chance. He isn't the only one, Larsson's time at Celtic is the stuff of football legend. He is referred to as either the Magnificent Seven (the number he wore at Celtic), or King of Kings. He made 221 appearances in a Celtic shirt, and scored a remarkable 174 goals. He remains the all time leading scoring in the Scottish Premier League. He was voted Celtic's all time greatest player in a poll conducted in 2002. He left Celtic in 2004, and joined the Spanish side Barcelona. While there he set up both goals in the 2006 UEFA Champions League final in Paris against my club Arsenal. It was a lovely, and heartbreaking performance. Watching your favourite team be sliced open by your favourite player of all time is not something I would recommend. However, any fool can look up Henke's Wikipedia page, and read about all his achievements, and the honours bestowed upon him (even including a MBE). I have seen the man player it was this year in July, and it was fantastic. I was in Sweden for a vacation, and had bought tickets to see Helsingborg (the hometown club to which he has returned) play Djugardens in Stockholm. It was going to be the highlight of the trip for me, I say going to because as I planted my ass in my seat at Djurgardens stadium Henke was nowhere to be seen. An injury had made him a last minute scratch, and he was not even on the bench. I was crushed. Here I was in fucking Sweden six thousand miles from home, and I was going to miss seeing my hero play. He was 37 years old at the time, and the number of chances to see him play live are getting pretty slim. Especially if you live in America. However, I was not to be denied. Even though it meant changing my travel plans, and ended up costing me a small fortune, I bought train tickets, and rented a hotel room in Helsingborg for the next week in hopes that Henke would play their next game. If he hadn't I would probably still be in a Swedish prison awaiting trial for the pitch invasion that I would have perpetrated on that day. He played, and his team won. Perhaps the only thing that would have made it better was if he had scored, but he didn't but I didn't care. I had got to see him play, and that was enough. I was very lucky for about 3 weeks later he broke his kneecap while playing in a Europa Cup game, and may never play football again. The picture above, and about four or five others are saved on to my hard drive, and the game is etched into my memory. I know I sound like a love struck teenage girl, but I do not care. My unabashed man love for Henke remains a running joke amongst my friends. I take it all in stride, mainly because I can not deny it even if I wanted to. So, for being a consummate professional, and for those 37 goals he has scored for the Swedish national team, and even though you ripped a little part of my heart out on May 17th 2006, Henrik Larsson (September 20th, 1971-present), you are my hero of the day.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

And now for something completely different

Just a non-heroic post to keep things from being too terribly boring. I am slightly drunk, so all those spell checkers that gleefully pore over my posts with their dictionaries, and a red ink pen should have a fucking field day. I am drunk enough to blow past the spell check button, like Randy Moss blows past corner backs on Sundays. Piss on spell check, and piss on people who care more about spelling than content. Oh wait? Did I just type that? I suppose I did, and since I am too tipsy to be bothered with the backspace/delete button it will just have to stay typed. Did I mention that I am drunk? I am drunk, and the knives are out. Careful consideration, and rational judgment are not at home today. Alcohol, clumsiness, and a mood to carve people up like Xmas turkeys have taken over the computer keys. Of course, there is always the chance that I will pass out before I managed to push the "publish post" button, and all of this glorious, drunken rambling will be lost to posterity. That assumes that I would wake up hung over, and sheepishly delete the post tomorrow. Either way let's cry havoc, and let slip the dogs of war shall we? Before I became so happily intoxicated today, I spent a large portion of my day doing yard work. I HATE yard work, I HATE my yard. I did not want a yard, and I curse the day I obtained my yard, and the person who convinced me to get a yard I curse as well. All well and good to promise to do the yard work back then, but now that you're gone what? The fucking yard is still here, still out of control, growing like it has a plan to take over the fucking world. All the chopping, cutting, weed whacking, digging, tree lopping, and cutting in the world seems pointless. I feel like I am bailing the ocean out with a spoon. A slotted spoon. This yard, this green grass, this entire bloody house is your revenge. It is an exquisite revenge. I have toyed with the idea of "naming" this house _______'s (insert your name here) Revenge. Like Buckingham Palace, and the Kremlin, I feel that my "castle" should carry a name as well, and I can think of no other more appropriate one than your revenge. Thus one knife thrust complete, and now should I trundle off to bed? I don't think so, after all I can still see well enough to type, and can form semi-coherent thoughts. The other part of my day should have been spent "volunteering" at a work function. Well, I am just not a "joiner." I don't play well with others, and should not be expected to bring cake to the Christmas party this year. Of course my non-joining will be held against me in the corridors of power. Another little black mark has joined the others next to my name. Tis a pity really. Since there are days when I am absolute fan fucking tastic at my job, and can be that way without joining a fucking things. My job is lovely on most days. Of course I say that because I am quite mad you know. My job would drive a nun to curse, a priest to sodomy (oh wait, never mind), and most sane people to the funny farm in about an hour. Not me lads. I am made of sterner stuff, I have moral fiber, and a sense of the absurd. I like this writing drunk stuff, I should try it more often. I wonder if Krudy met his deadlines by scribbling his articles on the back of a bar napkin while getting hammered. Too bad for him that he didn't have the good old spell check button. The more enjoyable part of my day was spent watching my football team, Arsenal, thump Wigan 4-0. Good news right? Maybe that was the cause for celebration that led me to being this bombed. Sadly that is not the case, the sad part of Arsenal's cracking win is that fact that it was so much an important part of my day. When did a fucking football game/result become more important than attempting to better myself in someway? Or maybe I should have been attempting to better the world in some way rather than sitting on my fat arse yelling at a bunch of nancys to score already. Score? Score what? A goal that at the end of the day means nothing, and adds nothing to the world, other than it might have made some desperate punter somewhere clutching his betting ticket tightly in one hand, with a hot dog, or beer in the other, a few quid. The problem with all that high faluting thinking about better myself is that really and truly I have no idea how to do that, and it might be the sad truth is that I don't want to try. Trying might just require effort, and effort might just be more than I can bear at the moment. That would be a sad commentary on my life if it is true. Does how my jackass QB perform in my fantasy football league matter more now days than trying to self-educate myself, and learn something I did not know yesterday? It might just be that it does, and that makes my skin crawl with self-loathing. When, and where did I fall of the path of enlightenment into the gutter of everydayness? And more importantly, how do I climb out of this cesspool? Two more knife thrust, two more victims. How many more need to fall before I become either satisfied that I have done enough damage, or too incoherent to continue? Perhaps one last slash then off to dreamland. To you artful dodger, I have no doubt you will succeed in whatever your life's ambition actually is. You've made a lovely start, and I am sure that if you keep applying yourself, success will come your way, but just before you wave (elbow, elbow, wrist, wrist) like a newly crowned prom queen to your adoring public, think about all that dodging. The shit you dodge still connects you know. If not with you, with other people. People who may or may not deserve it, and some of them are getting tired of getting smacked. Remember thou art mortal, and what goes around, comes around. Finally, be careful of what you wish for, once you make it to the top of the slippery pole, you might finally realize that the only way to go now is down. Bon chance! There we go four grievous wounds in under an hour, this is a bloodbath worthy of a grind house film. Thankfully though the eyelids grow heavy, the fingers grow clumsy, and the mind begins to finally feel the effects of all that vodka. Till tomorrow dear readers, when a new hero will be unveiled, and I might not be just a raging asshole. Here's hoping.


The bearded fellow above is one Lajos Kossuth born this day 1802, in Monok, Hungary. Bet you did not know that M. Kossuth is the earlier person ever born to have his voice recorded. It happened in 1890, in Turin Italy as he was giving a short, patriotic speech. Pretty par for the course because that is what he was a patriot, an Hungarian patriot to be precise. After entering his father's legal practice, he also began a political career. He wrote letters about the debates of his local county Assemblies. Those letters eventually got him arrested and charged with high treason in 1837. He was sentenced to five years in prison, but only did three. I say only because I am not the motherfucker that had to do the time. All in all, it probably seemed a life time to Kossuth. One small advantage of his imprisonment was that he had time to learn English. He learned it mostly by reading the Bible and Shakespeare. It was one of his later characteristics that he spoke English like he learned it, like a character out of Shakespeare. He played a major role in the Hungarian revolt against the Habsburg Empire in 1848, and was eventually elected regent-president of Hungary. The winter campaign of 1848-1849 in which Hungary tried in vain to win its independence was his finest hour, and his greatest failure all rolled into one. With help from Russia, the Habsburgs were able to defeat the revolution, and Hungary was frog-marched back into line as a province of Austria. Kossuth became a fugitive, and crossed the border into the Ottoman Empire alone in late 1849. He was to be an exile for the rest of his life. He eventually made his way to England where he was welcomed with open arms at first. However, he soon began to wear out his welcome, and traveled to the United States. His fellow exiles were not big fans of his, claiming that Kossuth was hogging the spotlight, and claiming to be the only true Hungarian revolutionary exile. He was stripped of his Hungarian citizenship, and there after refused to take part in several amnesties that were offered to other exiles that had participated in the revolt. He eventually settled in Turin, Italy, and died there still an unrepentant exile in 1894, but for being a hero of a nation that sorely needed heroes, and for maintaining his beliefs to the bitter, exiled end, Lajos Kossuth (September 19th 1902- March 20th, 1894 at the age of 91), you are my hero of the day.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Let Alone

The lovely, and talented woman above is one Greta Lovisa Gustafsson, otherwise known as Great Garbo, born this day 1905 in Stockholm, Sweden. She began studying acting at the age of seventeen at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Stockholm. That is where she met the director Mauritz Stiller who gave her the screen name of "Garbo." MGM's Louis B. Mayer saw her star in the 1925 silent film, The Joyless Street, and decided to bring her to Hollywood. There her star quickly ascended she was nominated four times for best actress between the years 1930 and 1939. She was an transcendent actress, Bette Davis (not a lady known for handing out compliments) said of Garbo; "Her instinct, her mastery over the machine, was pure witchcraft. I cannot analyse this woman's acting. I only know that no one else so effectively worked in front of a camera." Pretty high praise from someone who had just a shade bit of talent herself. Of course I have already blogged about one of my favourite Garbo lines that of the "wanting to be let alone." Look at some of the still pictures taken of her in her prime, the woman had eyes that could make a man's knees buckle. Hell they still do almost 70 years later. That is talent, that is heroic. Adding to her appeal is the rumours that she swung both ways. I never said that my heroes had to save lives, a hot Swedish bisexual is just as big a hero to me as Superman, and I wouldn't want to bang Superman. Garbo and the silent film actor John Gilbert had a famous affair, and he proposed to her three times before she said yes. Then she left him standing at the altar after she changed her mind about marriage (who can blame her? She was Great Garbo, does ANYONE remember John Gilbert?) She was a famous recluse, she never answered fan mail, and while during her prime, never gave any interviews. She made her last film in 1941 at the age of 36, and except for some long lost screen tests, was never in front of a camera again. Even with her "retiring" young she was STILL voted the fifth greatest actress of all time by the American Film Institute. She might have made it to the top if she had just kept acting, but that wasn't Garbo's style. She quit, and she quit when she wanted to quit, and quit on her on terms. In 1953, she bought a seven room apartment in New York City, and lived there for the rest of her life. So, for living life on her terms, and making some lovely films, and mainly for the "let alone" comment that I steal on a regular basis, Greta Garbo (September 18th, 1905- April 15th, 1990, of renal failure at the age of 89), you are my heroine of the day.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Man is Ape to Man

The well dressed fellow above is one Roddy McDowall born this day 1928, in London, England. His family moved to American because of the Blitz in England at the time, and he was a child star first appearing How Green Was My Valley in 1941. He also appeared in 1943's Lassie Come Home. It is for his most famous role that he achieved my hero status, that Cornelius in the Planet of the Apes series of movies. Playing the voice of reason, and the calm half of the scientist partnership of him and his wife Vera. A compassionate role, played by (according to his friends), a compassionate man. He was in four of the five Planet of the Apes movies, and they are how I remember him. Though I am beginning to think that perhaps I watch too much TV or movies based on the number of actors or actresses that have made appearances as my heroes. The sad part of it all is that I really do READ a lot. I read much more than I watch TV, and am beginning to despair of finding any authors that are heroic. This might be a product of confining myself to using the hero's birthday to blog about them. Maybe in a couple of months, if I can keep this idea afloat there will be a spate of author's birthdays just waiting for me. I can only hope so. But for, showing us that Ape and Man can both have compassion for Ape or Man, Roddy McDowall (September 17th, 1928- October 3rd, 1998 of lung cancer at the age of 70), you are my hero of the day.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Just One More Thing, Sir.

The rumpled fellow above is one Peter Falk born this day 1927, in New York City. At the age of three his right eye was removed due to a malignant tumor, and he has worn a glass eye for most of his life. The picture above is from his most famous role, that as police detective Columbo. The rumpled raincoat, the 1959 Peugeot, the often mentioned but never seen Mrs. Columbo, these are the things that I best remember about Falk. He got his start in a theatre in West Port, Connecticut. He was working at a dead end job in Hartford, and had to drive to West Port. The drive made him always late for the rehearsals, and one day the director asked him why he was late. He told her that he was late because of the drive from Hartford. She replied there was no theatre in Hartford, and inquired how he made a living acting there. Falk said that he was not a professional actor, and she retorted "well, you should be." He drove back to Hartford, and quit his job the next day. He got his big break in 1960's Murder, Inc. But it as Columbo that I best remember him. The role won him four Emmys, and is one of the iconic roles of American television. You always knew who the crook was from the beginning, and you always knew that Columbo would show up, and get his man. The bumbling, goofy exterior was a lovely front for a clever, insightful mind. His most famous trick was to pretend to leave the suspect's presence, but snaps his fingers and ask "just one more thing." It was that one more thing that always got them in the end. The one more thing was always the real reason that he was talking to the suspect to begin with, and it was what lead to the crook's downfall. He also had a wonderful role in The Princess Bride as the grandfather reading the "story" to a young Fred Savage. He is still alive and kicking, but it has been recently reported that he is suffering from dementia, and can not even remember his role as Columbo. That is a true tragedy, and does make this a bittersweet post, but for always getting his man in such fine fashion, Peter Falk (September 16th, 1927-present), you are my hero of the day.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Marco! Polo!

The aged fellow above is one, Marco Polo, born this day "around" 1254, in Venice, Italy. Known through out the world as the fellow while languishing in a Genoese jail cell that told his fantastic tales of his journey to China to a fellow inmate. That story, and those tales published as The Adventure of Marco Polo made him a star. His travels, with his uncle and his father, started in 1271 when he was seventeen, and ended 24 years later when he returned to Venice for good. We all know the story about how he met Kublai Khan, and brought back all those tales of the exotic east. Of course, Marco wasn't really the first western traveller to make it to China, he just had the best publicist. Which, of course, is half the battle on the way to stardom. You don't have to be first, you just need to convince the majority of people you were first. The truth should not get in the way of a good story should it? All in all him and his companions traveled about 15,000 miles, a pretty far piece in the latter 1200's. He returned to Venice in 1299, and was promptly taken prisoner by Genoa, and tossed into the jail cell from which he dictated his story. He was released, and returned to Venice in 1300, and never traveled again. I guess by then his frequent horse riding miles had expired. Or maybe China was too crowded. So for showing that getting there first isn't a barrier to fame, and for being the source of an excellent swimming pool game, Marco Polo (September 15th around 1254-January 8th, 1324 at the age of about 70), you are my hero of the day.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Of X's and O's

Not a post about American football, or "gay rugby" as my drunken Scottish friend calls it, nor a post about tic tac toe. I figured it was about time for me to post about something other than my hero of the day. Although, I must confess that project is a LOT harder than I originally anticipated it being. It is bloody HARD finding all these people, and then trying to condense their heroic deeds into a blog post of reasonable length is almost more than I can bear. But, I still believe in the idea, and though I have over 3oo more heroes to find, and post about, I will struggle on to it is complete. Today's aside is about ex's and o's, so I guess the title is a bit of misdirection. I generally get along with my ex's, in spite of being a complete bastard to the majority of them, and in spite of them usually telling me to go fuck myself, I generally remain on civil terms with my ex's. In most cases, it is them that finally saw the light and dumped me, it appears I am bad at breaking up. It may take them a while (even years and years), but usually I am able to have a civil talk with them. Part of this, I believe, is due to the fact that no matter how bad the ending of a relationship, I never regretting HAVING the relationship. A few tragic one night stands notwithstanding, most of my relationships were "good." I even had an ex from about 12 years ago contact me recently to "catch up on old times." It was not the most normal conversation, she proceeded to tell me about her husband of many years, and how "she had never had an orgasm with him in all that time." Not something that I felt I needed to know, but there it is. I am fairly certain that Hallmark does not make a card for this situation. I could only mutter something that sounded vaguely comforting. That is the kind of relationships I generally have, even after ending, and not speaking to each other for over a decade, she felt able to tell me that kind of detail about her life. I am not sure if she is just crazy, or I am just a great shoulder to cry upon. I just put it down to the general way my relationships evolve (or devolve) over time, and did not think too much about it. Till recently that is. For the first time in my life I am looking back over one of my ex-relationships, and thinking that perhaps the whole thing was a mistake. I mean, of course it was a mistake because it ended badly (I think all relationships end badly, or they would not end), and this one was not some spectacular ending that people gossip about at the water cooler. No death threats, or violent screaming matches marked its ending, it just ended. There was a little fanfare at its funeral, but really and truly nothing out of the ordinary. I am not sure what possessed me to enter into the relationship to begin with, well that is not entirely true, I have a fairly good idea why I "entered" it. I am also not sure if it is a sign of personal growth that I realize how big of a mistake it was to even have the relationship at all. I am going to pretend that it is a good thing, even if it isn't. Though in some very real respects, it makes me very sad to admit to myself the mistake(s) I knew I was making.

The Bells! The Bells!

Today's hero is the noble fellow above, one Ivan Pavlov born this day, 1849, in Ryazan, Russia. Of course we all know his major claim to fame, the slobbering dogs that became his life's work are still in popular culture usage today. He just so happened to notice that the dogs he was researching began salivating before the food was delivered to their mouth, and a star was born. His work on the "conditioned reflex" of a dog being to drool for his food, and various external stimuli being used to condition them to drool even when there was no food present was groundbreaking work, and stuff that we all take for granted today. It laid the ground for all sorts of idea about how to condition all sorts of things, not just dogs. There is a bell at my office that goes off when someone wants into my "inner sanctum," every time it rings I get up to answer it. I am no better or no worse than one of Pavlov's dogs, though I very rarely get food shoved at me when I answer the doorbell, damn the luck! Pavlov theories are used as a major theme in Huxley's Brave New World, and Thomas Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. The truth is Pavlov used more than just a bell, he used whistles, electric shocks, metronomes, and tuning forks, but it is the bell that is the most enduring image. So, for showing us that we can all be trained like good little puppies, Ivan Pavlov (September 14th 1849- February 27th 1936, at the age of 86), you are my hero of the day.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Village People

The serene fellow above is one Grigory Potomkin born this day 1739, in Chizhovo, Russia. He is best known for his attempts to populate the wide, underpopulated steppes of southern Ukraine. He helped oust the weak emperor Peter III in 1762, and soon became a "favourite" of the new ruler Catherine II. Anyone who knows anything about Catherine II (she of "horse riding" fame) knows that being a favourite meant a lot more than just helping her keep the account book in balance. From 1774 to about 1791, due to his exalted status as Catherine's boy toy, he was the most powerful man in Russian. It seems he gloried in it. He was apparently a great fan of the "if you have it flaunt" school of money. Absolute power also seemed to be a bit of a rush of blood to his head as well. I guess money, sex with the empress, and unlimited power will go to your head in a big way, and our boy Grigory was no exception. For all his, um, "hard" work he was appointed governor of Russia's newly acquired southern provinces. This is the work for which he is best remembered. He founded the Russian Black Sea Fleet, helped annex the Crimea to the empire, and founded several towns including Sevastopol. His other claim to fame is the "Potemkin village." During Catherine's tour of his newly minted provinces he supposedly erected fake villages with fat, prosperous peasants, and charming little houses to mask the grinding, soul-numbing reality of the poverty that the "real" peasants were faced with under his rule. Historians disagree on the details of these "villages" but, that never stopped it from being attached to his name, and for being one of the reasons he is remembered by history. Near the end of his life, it had become apparent that he was quite mad, possibly suffering from the effects of an untreated STD. Well, sleeping with Catherine II did have it risks. Although there is no evidence that he had an STD, or that he got it from Catherine, historical facts need not stop us from engaging in some delicious gossip should it? He died among the open steppes that he tried to populate supposedly as a consequence of eating an entire goose while in a high fever. So, for that awesome manner of death, and for showing us that things are much better than they appear, Grigory Potyomkin, (September 13th, 1739-October 5th, 1791 at the age of 52), you are my hero of the day.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Oh Grow Up 007!

The well-armed fellow above is one Desmond Llewelyn, born this day 1914, in Newport, Wales. There was quite a bit of competition for today's hero, but Desmond won out after some careful thought. Originally, Desmond wanted to be a minister, but found some odd jobs at the local theatre that sparked his interest in acting.His family was none too pleased about his desire for the stage, and forced him to take the test for becoming a policeman, he failed the eye test, and the acting world was made richer by that failure. World War II put the brakes on his career for a while, and he spent five years as a German prisoner of war. His first appearance as the character that makes him my hero, "Q," was in 1963's From Russia With Love. He was the gadget man, the guy that gave James Bond all those cool trinkets that kept him alive. He went on to appear in a total of seventeen Bond films, more than any other actor. Surprisingly, he only spends about 30 minuets on camera. His most famous line is "I never joked about my work, 007," but My favourite line of his is "oh, grow up 007." Being Q never made Llewelyn rich, he was only paid by the day for his services, and did not share in the profits, but he made the 007 franchise rich with his supreme acting skill, and talent. In contrast to his character, Llewelyn was famously inept at gadgets, claiming that he could not even set a video recorder, or put a kettle on to boil properly. But, for being the head of the department that kept James Bond (another hero for another day) alive, and for delivering witty lines with style, and aplomb, Desmond Llewelyn (September 12th, 1914- December 19th, 1999, in a car accident at the age of 85) you are my hero of the day.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Gift of the Magi

The dapper fellow above is one William Sidney Porter, born this day, 1862, in Greensboro, North Carolina. Of course, most of us know him by his pen name of O. Henry. Writer of some lovely short stories that usually have a "twist at the end." He is considered America's answer to Guy de Maupassant. Most of his stories are set in his time period, the early years of the 20th century, and involve average, everyday people. He moved to Austin in 1884, and that is were he begin writing as a sideline, and where he met he wife to be. He worked at several jobs during his first years in Austin, and eventually got a job with the General Land Office as a draughtsman. After resigning there, he took a job at the First National Bank of Austin, and it was this job that was to cause him so much trouble in his life. His role at the bank was as a book keeper, but the bank was a bit fast and loose with "rules," and eventually he was fired for embezzlement. He and his family moved to Houston in 1895, and he got a job writing for the Houston Post. While living in Houston the federal government audited his old bank, and found major issues with his bookkeeping. He was later indicted and arrested on embezzlement charges, but his father in law posted his bail. On the day before his trial, he fled, first to New Orleans then to Honduras. It was while in an Honduran hotel that he coined the term "banana republic." He eventually returned to the States to visit his dying wife, and turned himself in to the feds. He was sentenced to five years, and eventually did serve three years in a federal pen in Ohio. He settled in New York, in order to be closer to his publishers, remarried and became a fairly successful writer. Either because of this success, or because of the pressure the success created, he drank heavily. His health begin to decline, and his second wife left him, and he died on June 5th, 1910 of cirrhosis of the liver. His stories still are fairly popular today, and one of the best quotes I have heard about writing is from him. He said "There are stories in everything. I've got some of my best yarns from park benches, lampposts, and newspaper stands." That is good stuff, and true to this day, and we would do well to remember it, so for finding all those yarns in all those lovely places, William Sydney Porter, (September 11th, 1862-June 5th, 1910) you are my hero of the day.

Thursday, September 10, 2009


Today's hero is the free swinging fellow above one, Roger Maris (who wore the number (9) born this day, 1934, in Hibbing, Minnesota. His major claim to fame is, of course the breaking of Babe Ruth's single season home run record in 1961. That season saw him, and teammate Mickey Mantle both make solid pushes to break the Bambino's record. The American League had expanded from 8 to 10 teams the year before, and there were probably some pitchers in the big leagues that should have been in Triple A ball instead, but that should not detract from Maris' record. The asterisk was called for by some baseball "purists" claiming that since Maris played in a 162 game season (as compared to Ruth's 154 game season) that if he did break the record an asterisk should be placed by the record. The commissioner of baseball at the time, Ford Frinck, did declare that if the record was broken in 162 games it would reflect that in the record book with a special sentence. That season was a little plot of hell for Maris, everyone loved Mantle and the Babe. His hair began falling out in clumps because of the stress, the death threats, and the hate mail Maris, the blunt spoken Midwesterner was an outcast. Maris even said "I'm not trying to be Babe Ruth; I'm trying to hit sixty-one home runs and be Roger Maris." Nice try, Roger. Mantle's attempt was derailed by a hip infection, and it was Maris that broke the record on October 1, 1961 against the Boston Red Sox. Later, after his retirement from the game, Maris said "They acted as though I was doing something wrong, poisoning the record books or something. Do you know what I have to show for 61 home runs? Nothing. Exactly nothing." Of course Maris' record has since been broken by two well known juicers, but his record is still the standard for the American League. There have been calls for his record to be reinstated as the "true" record, and for one, I would not oppose it. He might have been facing a couple of shifty pitchers, but at least he was not juiced. So for proving that you don't have to juice to hit the long ball that chicks dig, and for just trying to be the best Roger Maris he could be. Roger Maris (September 10th, 1934-December 14th, 1985 of cancer), you are my hero of the day.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009


Today's hero is the unassuming integral above, the number nine. Perhaps numbers are not meant to be heroic, but today being 9-9-09, I thought I would give good old number 9 a shot. Maybe my dear readers will actually pay attention to the writing of the post rather than constantly spell checking me, but who knows. The Chinese consider the number 9 to be extremely lucky it apparently sounds like the word long lasting in Chinese, and has something to do with dragons, a symbol of magic and power. In math it is the first composite "lucky" number, trying to explain what that means makes my head hurt, so perhaps my audience can look it up for themselves. In contrast, the Japanese consider 9 to be unlucky because it sounds like their word for pain. Maybe a number's lucky properties are just an accident of your birth. The whole 'lucky' number thing, to me, seems a bit silly. Numbers are just that numbers, just because today is 9-9-09 does not mean that you should book that trip to Vegas and get married. It is just another day on a calendar created by a bunch of dorky ass white men thousands of years ago. It is merely a way of marking times passage. No roulette wheel in the world is programmed to land on 9 anymore than any other number. If you are trusting your luck to a number, then you are already in pretty bad shape. The last gasp of a desperate gambler is to merely bet on a number. You can be dressed to the nines, there are nine circles of hell in Dante's Inferno, there are nine muses, and there are nine Supreme Court Justices on the United States Supreme Court. All these everyday applications for the number 9, but of course you can probably say the same thing about the numbers 8 or 5 as well. I would suspect that any number has its own little fan club, or group that think it is unlucky or lucky. Nine is only heroic in the sense that it is more than eight and less than ten, it allows for the natural flow of things, and does not expect much in return. Nine will never fail you, and as long as you don't ask too much of it you can not go wrong. Don't expect it to perform miracles, nor blame it for any disasters. It is just quite simply the number 9, and for being just the number 9 and nothing else it is my hero of the day.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Ubu Roi

The long haired fellow above is one Alfred Jarry, born this day 1873, in Laval, France. Apparently M. Jarry was a brilliant child who was "writing" plays and performing them for his classmates at the age of 15. At the age of 17, both of his parents died, and left him a small inheritance which he quickly spent. He was a shining example of the "live fast, and die young" type. Referring to alcohol as his "sacred herb" and, to absinthe as his "green goddess." He was drafted into the army in 1894, but since he was not even 5 feet tall, the quartermaster could not find any uniforms to fit him. I suppose he must have looked like a little kid playing grown up soldiers in a uniform many sizes too big for him. Eventually even the French figured out that fighting with midgets was not a good plan, and he was discharged for "medical reasons." His most famous play was Ubu Roi whose main character is an antihero — fat, ugly, vulgar, gluttonous, grandiose, dishonest, stupid, jejune, voracious, cruel, cowardly, and evil. Ubu was Jarry's metaphor for modern man. Sounds like a real lovely fellow, one you would love to invite to the mother in law's parties. The play was performed one time during Jarry's lifetime, opening night created such a stir that the theater director cancelled any further productions. M. Jarry was one weird cat, he lived in an apartment that was subdivided horizontally, rather than vertically, and while he could stand up in it, his guests has to stoop, or sit on the floor. He also liked to practice his shooting while at home, and when one of his female neighbors complained that his target practice was endangering her children he replied "If that should ever happen, ma-da-me, we should ourselves be happy to get new ones with you." He is credited with creating the world of pataphysics which are the laws which govern exceptions and will explain the universe supplementary to this one. He is even given credit for writing the world's first cyborg sex novel. Good stuff I bet. He lived to drink, and drank to live, and eventually it caught up with him. He died of TB, made worse by his drinking. His last request was supposedly for a toothpick, but for bringing the character of Ubu Roi to life, and the stage, Alfred Jarry (September 8th, 1873-November 1st, 1907), you are my hero of the day.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Love's Labour Lost

I have to admit that I do not know the jack hammering fellow above, but he and millions like him are the reason that I have the day off today to contemplate writing this blog post. Because today is Labour Day in my fair country. Of course this idea was stolen from Canada in 1882. Oregon was the first state to pass "Labour day into law, and in 1894 the Federal Government pushed through the legislation to make it a Federal holiday. This was done in an attempt to placate the working man after the Pullman strike of 1894. The law was passed through Congress is just six days, try that now days and see what happens. The president at the time, Grover Cleveland, was worried that a day to celebrate labour would be attached to the "May Day" celebrations of labour in Europe. That just smacked a little to "red" to good old Grover, so the first Monday in September was designated Labour Day. Still with all that political bullshit it is a day to celebrate the working class of the world, and to stop and think as you walk into that high rise to go to your 40th floor office about the nameless fellows who actually did all the heavy lifting during its construction. I have always had a bit of an allergic reaction to physical labour, and therefore need to remember to be especially mindful of the people for whom it was the only way to feed the family. My own paterfamilias was one of these people, and though he is far, far from being any sort of hero in my book, he still had to work his ass off to feed my fat ass. Granted he bitched and moaned about it on a daily basis, and found way too much solace in good, old American lagers when the workday was over, but he and millions like him, still managed to get the job done. So for ensuring that we have all those lovely buildings in which slackers like myself work, but not labour, and for all the other services that they provide, the "working class" (from the beginning of time-present), you are my heroes of the day.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

The Austrian Deer

The imaginative fellow above is one Felix Salten, born this day, 1869 as Siegmund Salzmann, in Budapest, Hungary. So there you go two days in a row my hero has been an author born in Budapest, though Salter is considered Austrian, and Koestler was considered Hungarian. Maybe I should hie myself off to Budapest, and see what it is about the city that inspires so many people to become "writers." Maybe there is a lack of employment in more gainful, industrious fields? Not that I would want to be gainfully, industriously employed in Budapest, or anywhere else for that matter. Salten is best known for being the fellow that wrote Bambi, the tale of the little deer, and his buddy Thumper that we all get to watch a hundred thousand times as a child, and then again if or when we have children. Seems he came up with the idea of Bambi while vacationing in the Italian Alps, and used the shortened version of bambino (Italian for little boy) as his deer's name. There is no mention if Babe Ruth was ever offended by this. Bambi became an instant hit, and a Book of the Month Club staple. Cashing in on his fame, he sold the film rights for one thousand dollars to some douche bag who then sold them to that bastard Walt Disney. Not sure how much a thousand dollars would be considered in 1933 money, but it seems a bit low, but I guess that is how Disney became so rich. Salten's other famous work was published anomously in 1906, and has taken scholars years to sort out who actually wrote it. The general consensus is that Salten is the author of the work Josephine Mutzenbacher-The Life Story of a Viennese Whore, as Told by Herself. It deals with the memiors of a courtsean in Vienna, and only deals with her life from the ages of 5 to 12, ending when she is 12, and about to enter the world's oldest profession. For the time period, it is pretty blatantly pornographic. Not sure of the numbers on Bambi, but Josephine, has been in print for over a hundred years, and has sold over 3 million copies. So, I guess if you were to get the Collected Works of Salten, you could have Bambi, the lovely child's tale on the shelf right next to Josephine Mutzenbacher, the lovely story about a child's tail. Josephine Mutzenbacher was written much eariler, and perhaps it was Salten's way of putting food on the table. I mean we have all "made some films we aren't proud of in college" to just make ends meet right? It even became the subject of a famous court case/ruling on whether it should be banned from being read by youths of a certain age. Ah, the good old days when you had to actually read porn, rather than just turning on your computer, and being bombarded by it. So, for showing us that a man can write a good children story, and still be a randy bastard that writes porn on the side, Felix Salten (September 6th,1869- October 8th, 1945 in Zurich), you are my hero of the day.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Darkness at Noon

The fellow above is one Arthur Koestler born this day, 1905, in Budapest, Hungary. He was educated, and spent most of his childhood in Austria. He joined the German Communist Party in 1931, but left the party in 1938 after becoming disillusioned with the Party. My major exposure to him is reading (more than once) his witheringly anti-Communist novel "Darkness at Noon." I highly recommend it, and have read it several times over the years. It sort of reminds me of a couple of "relationships" I have had in my past. Read it, and that comment will make all the sense in the world. He lived an extremely active, and adventurous life. Joining, and deserting from the French Foreign Legion, being imprisoned by Francisco Franco's Nationalists forces during the Spanish Civil war, meeting Menachem Begin when he was still just a Jewish terrorist. All of this before he was forty! He was a prolific author, and wrote books until the effects of Parkinson's Disease made the physical act of writing nearly impossible. He always stated he wasn't afraid of death but of the act of dying, and on March 1st, 1983 he and his wife committed suicide. Since it is so very poignant I have pasted a copy of his suicide note below.

To whom it may concern. The purpose of this note is to make it unmistakably clear that I intend to commit suicide by taking an overdose of drugs without the knowledge or aid of any other person. The drugs have been legally obtained and hoarded over a considerable period. Trying to commit suicide is a gamble the outcome of which will be known to the gambler only if the attempt fails, but not if it succeeds. Should this attempt fail and I survive it in a physically or mentally impaired state, in which I can no longer control what is dome to me, or communicate my wishes, I hereby request that I be allowed to die in my own home and not be resuscitated or kept alive by artificial means. I further request that my wife, or a physician, or any friend present, should invoke habeas corpus against any attempt to remove me forcibly from my house to hospital.
My reasons for deciding to put an end to my life are simple and compelling: Parkinson's Disease and the slow-killing variety of leukaemia (CCI). I kept the latter a secret even from intimate friend to save them distress. After a more or less steady physical decline over the last years, the process has now reached an acute state which added complications which make it advisable to seek self-deliverance now, before I become incapable of making the necessary arrangements.
I wish my friends to know that I am leaving their company in a peaceful frame of mind, with some timid hopes for a de-personalised after-life beyond due confines of space, time and matter and beyond the limits of our comprehension. This 'oceanic feeling' has often sustained me at difficult moments, and does so now, while I am writing this.
What makes it nevertheless hard to take this final step is the reflection of the pain it is bound to inflict on my surviving friends, above all my wife Cynthia. It is to her that I owe the relative peace and happiness that I enjoyed in the last period of my life – and never before.

Pretty sad stuff, and it saddens the heart to read it, but at least it went out on his on terms, and in his own time. But for showing me that Darkness sometimes comes at Noon, and that we are in some respects all Sleepwalker, Arthur Koestler (September 5th, 1905- March 1st, 1983 by suicide), you are my hero of the day.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Theatre of Cruelty

The sunken cheeked fellow above is one Antonin Artaud born this day, 1896, in Marseille, France. He had an interesting childhood, after an attack of meningitis that gave him a nervous, irritable disposition for the remainder of his life. If only I had that kind of excuse, I am just irritable. I guess it could be worst, I am not overly nervous. As a teenage he was stabbed in the back by a pimp, similar to the experience suffered by Samuel Beckett. Several trips to a "rest sanatorium" lead to him becoming addicted to laudanum. Perhaps that is what fueled his wonder imagination. It was imagination that he considered dreams, thoughts, and delusions to be no less real that the outside world. Reality, to Artaud, is a consensus, the consensus that the audience agrees to when it enters the theatre and pretends the performance is real. Maybe that is what life is, an agreed upon performance that is just as real as we believe it to be. It some ways that makes a lot of sense reality is just the agreed upon illusion that the masses buy into in order to avoid the more horrible misery underneath. The day to day struggle to get bread, booze, and a bed are "real" enough why not hope that the "dream" of winning the lottery we have when we collapse into that bed isn't just as real? Who knows maybe it is real after all? Maybe somewhere in some alternate universe Sweden did win the World Cup in 1958, and the Vikings are four time Super Bowl champions. Later in life, he obtained a walking stick that he believed was owned by St. Patrick, Jesus, and Lucifer. Talk about having a little to much dope in the system. He spent a majority of his remaining years in a psycho ward at various hospitals, even getting some good, old fashioned electro-shock therapy for his troubles. In January 1948, Artaud was diagnosed with intestinal cancer. He died shortly afterwards on March 4, 1948, alone in the psychiatric clinic, seated at the foot of his bed, allegedly holding his shoe. It was suspected that he died from a lethal dose of the drug chloral. So, for making theatre cruel, and a great deal of fun, and for taking it in a new, exciting direction Antonin Artaud (September 4th, 1896- March 4th, 1948), you are my hero of the day.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Centre Half

The "hard man" above is one Olof Mellberg born this day, 1977, in Amnehärad, Sweden. After starting his playing career in the Swedish league, Mellberg was shipped to a "bigger" club in Spain, from there he went to the place where I got to see him play the most Aston Villa. He starred at Villa from 2001-2008, and even managed to score the first ever goal in a competitive game at Arsenal's, new at the time, Emirates Stadium against my team Arsenal. I have forgiven him for that, though it did take a while. In his final game for Villa, against West Ham United at Upton Park, he gave each Villa fan a home or an away shirt with his name and number on the back and the message Thanks 4 Your Support, 4 being his number at the club. Pretty classy move for a professional football player, and that is something you can not say very often. From Villa he went to Juventus for two years, and is now presently playing his club football for Olympiacos in Greece. Sort of a step down I suppose, but he is a 32 year old (as of today) centre half that might just be a step slower than he used to be. However, it is as the 9th most capped Swedish footballer that he earned my undying respect. In 90 caps for his national team, Mellberg has even managed to score 4 goals. Not that bad of a record I suppose. One of the most "famous" incidents of his international career occurred during the 2002 World Cup when he got into a training ground fight with team mate Fredrik Ljungberg. Anyone who knows anything about these two fellows understands that the world in general, and football teams playing in a World Cup need a lot more Mellberg than Ljungberg in their makeup. So, for being that no nonsense "hard man" every team needs to deal with diving, flopping forwards, Olof Mellberg (September 3rd, 1977- present), you are my hero of the day.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009


The be cloaked fellow above is one Joseph Roth born this day in Brody, 1894, in the easternmost reaches of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Most famous for his lovely novel The Radetzky March, the arch type of the Golden Age of Austrian literature. Even though his birthplace is in modern day Ukraine, he is still considered one of the best Austrian writers of all time. I managed to slog through it, and it is well worth the time. If you like that kind of stuff. Shortly after Hitler took power in Germany Roth send fellow author Stefan Zweig the following letter.
"You will have realized by now that we are drifting towards great catastrophes. Apart from the private - our literary and financial existence is destroyed - it all leads to a new war. I won't bet a penny on our lives. They have succeeded in establishing a reign of barbarity. Do not fool yourself. Hell reigns."
Pretty far seeing since Hell was in fact coming to Europe in the guise of the Second World War. However, Roth would not live to see it he died in Paris from the effects of chronic alcoholism in 1939. But for writing lovely prose about the nostalgic period before World War I, Joseph Roth (September 2th, 1894-May 27th, 1939), you are my hero of the day.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Hansel and Gretel

The bewhiskered fellow above is the fabulously named Engelbert Humperdinck born this day, 1854, in Siegburg, Germany. He began writing music at the age of thirteen, and in spite of his parents wishes that he become an architect, he won a scholarship to the Cologne Conservatory, and prize winning music star was born. His most famous work is the opera Hansel and Gretel, based on the story by the Brothers Grimm, funny how the guys that catalogued all those "fairy tales" had the name of Grimm. The opera was originally composed as a play containing sixteen songs, but upon realizing the work's potential, Humperdinck turned it into a full scale, sawdust on the floor, opera. It was an overwhelming success, becoming the first opera ever broadcast in its entirety over the radio in 1923. Shortly before his death, Humperdinck developed a hearing problem, and became partially deaf. Guess all those hours of pounding away on the keyboard had taken its toll. He began his final composition in 1915, and completed, even after suffering a stroke that partially paralyzed his left hand, in 1918. He was able to attend its first performance, but during it suffered a heart attack, and died the next day of a second heart attack. That might be considered some sort of irony, even ironic enough for an Englishman to appreciate. However his fame for Hansel and Gretel continues to this day, and it holds a special place in my heart because Hansel and Gretel are two of my co-workers nicknames. So, for writing a lovely opera, and helping to prove that a trail of breadcrumbs can be all it takes to lead to fame and fortune, Engelbert Humperdinck, (September 1st, 1854-September 27th, 1921 of a heart attack), you are my hero of the day.