Monday, November 30, 2009

The Tomato Route

The lovely lady above is our 102nd hero(ine) of the day, and I am sorry to report that I took the tomato route (to steal a line from George Costanza). She is Clemence Posey born this day 1982 in Paris, France. There were other, probably more deserving heroes, but I found flaws in each. Sir Winston Churchill was one, but I read an extremely long biography of him a couple of years back, and realized his was a right, proper bastard. So he was out of the picture. Gary Lineker was a lovely English footballer, who remains the only English player to win the Golden Boot award at the World Cup, but since I follow Sweden's international team, good old Gary did not quite make it to hero status. Then there was Mark Twain, the ideal of American literature, but I am a snob, and do not read much American literature. I just do not fancy it. However, Mlle. Posey I do fancy, and it is all for one very well acted, well written role. That of Chloe in the lovely movie "In Bruges." If you have not seen it rush out right now and rent, buy, or steal it. You will soon realize my point. She also has a role in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," which I confess I have no intention of seeing, but I am sure she was lovely in it. So, for that one lovely role, and for being not so bad to look at (hey I am a man after all, and it did take me until 101 to pick a "tomato"), you are my heroine of the day.

Sunday, November 29, 2009


The fellow above is one Christian Doppler, our 101st hero of the day, born this day in Salzburg, Austria in 1803. M. Doppler was born the son of a stone mason, but due to his physical frailty, he was unable to do the heavy work required to follow his dear old dad into the family business. That frailty was a blessing to the scientific world, since he was useless as a mason his family sent him to school to make something of himself. He studied astronomy and mathematics in Vienna. He soon got a job teaching physics in Prague, and it was there where he wrote, and published his greatest work describing what would eventually come to be called the Doppler effect. We all experience it when we heard the ambulance or the cop car siren come towards us and then recede into the distance. The effect is known in astronomy as the redshift when a star or galaxy is moving away from the observer, or the blue shift when it is moving towards the observer. I am currently experiencing the opposite of the Doppler effect my team Arsenal (red shirts) are currently getting the ever loving shit kicked out of them by Chelsea (blues), and therefore Chelsea are moving further and further away up the table. I swear they are getting bluer, not redder like they are supposed to be, but for discovering that one thing that led to so many other useful things being discovered, Christian Doppler (November 29th, 1803- March 17th, 1853, at the age of 49 of pulmonary disease), you are my hero of the day.

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Stick with me on this post dear readers, because it is got all sorts of news and problems. The bespectacled fellow above is one Stefan Zweig born this day 1881 in Vienna, Austria. The big news is that Herr Zweig is one of this project's milestones, he is the lucky fellow to be anointed the 100th hero of the day. Into triple digits is pretty exciting, and getting there with Herr Zweig is perfect. This perfection, like most anything I do properly in my life, was acheived quite by accident. You see, until about a 3 months ago I had no idea who the hell Herr Zweig was, but his name kept cropping up on my Amazon page and other searches I did. Thinking it might be a good idea to give his work a whirl, I ordered his book "The World of Yesterday." I was, to put it mildly, blow away, the book is his attempt at autobiography, written in his final exile from his homeland during the early stages of World War II. The irony of this post is that I just finished the book yesterday, and here I am today trying to write the hero post for him. I am sure I will do him a disservice, but still one must give it a shot. Anyone who ever thought they had ability to string two sentences together in some sort of coherent should ready "Yesterday." Sentences so perfect as to make you weep, ideas that are so genius you will curse yourself for not being alive when Zweig was so you could learn at his feet. This book, the first I have read by him, was written without any notes, any of his letters, and in exile in a hotel. It is his summing up of his life, Jewish by birth, but not by religion, he was hounded out of Austria by the Nazis, and his books banned and burned by those literary thugs. He was, in his day, one of the most translated authors in the world. His works have fallen a bit by the wayside today, and that is this world's loss. One of the best parts of the book is when he discusses his "fame." He states that "in normal circumstances, the name a human being bears is no more than the band is to a cigar: a means of identification, a superficial, almost unimportant thing that is only loosely related to the real subject, the true ego." Good stuff that, and gives one pause, a lot to chew on in that, extremely well written, sentence. He goes on to say that success has a way of swelling the name, and unmooring it from the person that bears it. The name becomes a power in itself, an independent thing, an article of commerce, that transforms the person that bears it. He explains all of this in the context that, for him, his name soon became a burden. His wish to remain free and independent was hampered by the name recognition that followed him around. He writes "unintentionally, and because of the currency of my books I found myself in something that was like a business which demanded order, clarity, punctuality and skill if it were to be handled correctly-all very respectable virtues which alas by no means correspond to my nature, and which seriously threatened to disturb my innocent, simple musings and dreaming." Words of wisdom to all those glory hounds out there, and not just in the literary world. Careful of become a caricature of yourself, something that becomes so big that it traps you inside of it, a name prison if you will. However the sad part of Herr Zweig's life is that being born in a Jewish family meant that he was to be driven from his homeland into exile, and his will to live taken from him. As he entered his exile in England (later to be Brazil), he took a small apartment in London, and experienced a strong sense of deja vu. "I felt as if I had entered that other little apartment which I had fixed up for myself almost thirty years earlier in Vienna; the rooms quite small, and the one welcome greeting these very book against the wall. . . . " He continues to realize that maybe his life has come full circle. "Was this a symbol that my life after long expansion was shriveling to an earlier form of being and that I was becoming my own shadow?" "Everything which I had attempted, achieved, learned, enjoyed, in the meantime seemed wafted away and now over fifty years old, I faced a beginning, was once more a student working at a desk, only not as credulous, not as enthusiastic, with a suspicion of gray in my hair and faint dawn of despair over my wearied soul." Sad stuff, and it soon became more than he could bear, forced again to move this time from Britain to Brazil, Zweig realized his strength was not up to the task, and the day after posting the final manuscript to "The World of Yesterday" he and his wife committed suicide. In his final note he stated "I think it better to conclude in good time and in erect bearing a life in which intellectual labour meant the purest joy and personal freedom the highest good on Earth." His world had become extinct, and his was unable to find the strength to continue into the new world, one that still had to face almost three years of World War, before the darkness lifted. So for writing one of the best books I have ever read, and for being able to put into words something things I wish I had thought of, Stefan Zweig (November 28th, 1881- February 22, 1942, at the age of 60), you are my hero of the day.

Friday, November 27, 2009


The moon faced fellow above is our 99th hero of the day. His name is Robert R. Livingston born this day in 1746 in New York City, New York. For most people he will be a rather odd, obscure choice, but he did have a fairly important political career. He was one of the five men that helped to draft the Declaration of Independence, he was the first Chancellor of the State of New York, and as such was the man who administered the oath of office to one George Washington as America's first President. In fact, the Bible he used to swear in old Georgie is still available, by request, to be used to swear in Presidents today. But the achievement that elevates him to hero status was accomplished during his three years in Paris from 1801-1804. It was during this time that he negotiated the Louisiana Purchase from the French government of Napoleon. The total purchase price was about 15 million dollars, and for that princely sum the United States got 828,000 square miles of territory. Land that was to encompass part of (what would be) 14 U S states, and the city of New Orleans was thrown in to boot. The average cost of this massive land sale was less than 3 cents per acre. Not a bad deal if you can swing it, and Livingston and his pals swung it, in spite of some narrow minded opposition, and their bargain doubled the size of the United States at the time. Old Bob was quoted as saying afterwards that "We have lived long but this is the noblest work of our whole lives...The United States take rank this day among the first powers of the world." And right he was, the Louisiana Purchase put, for good or bad, old Uncle Sam on the road to world power. The major thing I am grateful for in regards to this massive real estate sale is the that the state right across the river from where I live, i.e. Arkansas, was a part of the deal. Certainly I am not a huge fan of ArKANSAS, but at least it beats living next to a bunch of cheese eating surrender monkeys. Even this coup was not M. Livingston's last contribution to the betterment of humankind. He, along with some fellow named Robert Fulton, helped to develop the first steamboat, named the Clermont. And if you wonder where the name came from, Clermont was the family home (and home port of the boat itself) of M. Livingston. So for buying so much land dirt cheap, no pun intended, and for help to make steam power viable so Americans could soon fill in all that land he bought from the foolish French, Robert R. Livingston (November 27th, 1746- February 26th, 1813, at the age of 66), you are my hero of the day.

Thursday, November 26, 2009


Thanks for the summons from the wolf that raised me to come home, "If you ever want to see your father alive again." I never said I did, and thanks for the attempted guilt trip. In reality it is a 2 hour trip to nowhere, a land where my phone does not work, where my computer is useless, and cable has been cut. A place where opening a book is seen as an invitation to have a lengthy, two party conversation (I am really good at one party conversations). Thanks for the crisis (mid life, or existential) that I am going through that makes me wonder why I staggered out of my nice, warm bed this morning (besides other than to take a lovely morning piss), and why I continue to stagger out of it morning after morning just to see "another indistinguishable day arriving outside my window." Thanks for making the town I inhabit a cultural wasteland, and a blazing shithole, where right now someone is probably threatening to kill someone over a turkey leg. At least that kind of senseless activity keeps me employed, and provides the obvious "reason" for me getting about of bed in the morning. A place where you love to fly out of, but not to. Thanks for making almost everything that I can enjoy bad for me, beer, beef jerky, and chocolate are things that should be exempt from making you fat, drunk, or stupid for the rest of your life. Thanks for the ageing process that makes it almost impossible for me to sleep past seven in the morning, but still makes me tired when I do get out of bed. Thanks for making relationships my kryptonite, one thing I am naturally bad at, but have no choice but to attempt to form in order to avoid becoming some Salinger type recluse about which odd legends, hushed whispers would circulate. Thanks for making one of my best mates so wrapped up in "things" that he is virtually impossible to have any sort of conversation with, one party or two. And finally, thanks for making me have such ridiculously high standards for those attempted relationships, and for heroes. Standards that I, on my best day, could not live up to, but I still hope, or expect others to be able to meet. Standards that have led to this miserable post, and to me having to once again, with regret, say that there is no hero of the day for today.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Where have you gone?

The smiling fellow above is our 98th hero of the day, and his name is Joseph Paul DiMaggio born this day 1914 in Martinez, California. He was the eight of nine children born to an immigrant Italian fisherman. His father wanted all of his sons to be fisherman, and could not understand why "Joe" did not want to follow in his footsteps. It seems the smell of dead fish was a bit off putting to young Joe, and he had no desire to spend the rest of his life nauseated. He was first spotted playing semi-pro ball, moved on to the minor leagues, and eventually wound up with the New York Yankees. His move to them was a major success. The Yankees had not been to the World Series in four years when Joltin' Joe came on board, with him they were to win the next four World Series in a row. His most famous accomplishment while a member of the Yankees is the 56 game hitting streak, a mark that has not really been threatened since he managed it in 1941. The other sign of his hitting ability that to me speak volumes is that for his career he struck out only 8 more times than he hit home run, chew on that for a while, and you will come to realize the man could hit. His other major accomplishment was marrying Marylin Monroe, not bad for some immigrant baseball player. He was, by all accounts, deeply in love with her, and arranged her funeral after her death. He even had a half a dozen red roses delivered to her crypt three times a week. He is probably just as famous for the line "Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you." And the nation would be right to turn it eyes to Joltin' Joe, a true American success story, and a true gentleman, and a hero for the ages. So for being able to swat a baseball with the greatest of ease, and for bagging the hot blonde we all wanted. Joseph Paul "Joe" DiMaggio (November 25th 1914- March 8th, 1999, at the age of 84), you are my hero of the day.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Short People are people too

The vertically challenged fellow above is one Henri de Toulouse-Latrec, our 97th hero of the day. M. Toulouse-Latrec was born this day, 1864 in Tarn, France. Seems our boy above was cursed by the fact that his parents were first cousins, and years of inbreeding led to many of the physical problems he had throughout his, all too short, life. During his early teens he fractured both thigh bones, and neither of them healed properly leaving him standing only five feet tall. However, his torso was adult sized but his legs ceased to grow, and were only 27.5 inches long. Tough life I expect being that short, and I am sure that people stared quiet a bit. Though his disability did have one positive outcome, since he was unable to partake of the physical activities of most men his age, Henri turned to art. You do not have to be tall in order to paint, all you do is buy a shorter easel, or stand on a chair. He was drawn to the Montmartre area of Paris, an area famous for its "bohemian" life style, and close to the famous Moulin Rouge. When it first opened, the Moulin Rouge commissioned Toulouse-Latrec to produce a series of poster for the joint, and afterwards always held a reserved seat for him. Seems his time at a bar led him to create his own cocktail called Tremblement de Terre, or Earthquake it consisted of 3 parts of cognac, and 3 parts of absinthe in a wine goblet. Sounds wicked, and if you had a couple of those I bet you would be painting all sort of Impressionistic shit too, since you would probably be seeing pink elephants, yellow stars, and purple moons. Throughout his career, which spanned less than 20 years, Toulouse-Latrec created at least 737 canvases, 275 watercolors, 363 prints and posters, 5,084 drawings. Not bad for an drunken dwarf. He was a life long alcoholic, and died at the age of 36 from complications of that disease, but he lived his life on his own terms. His last words were reputed to be him calling his father an old fool, but fool or not he did father a damn fine artist. So, for making portraits of Parisian night life with brush strokes to die for, Henri de Toulouse-Latrec (November 24th, 1864- September 9th, 1901, at the age of 36), you are my hero of the day.

Monday, November 23, 2009

The Silent Partner

The bewigged fellow above is our 96th hero of the day, one Adolph Marx, born this day 1888 in New York City, New York. Of course he is better known as Harpo of the Marx brothers. A name he received during a card game at a theatre in Illinois because he played the harp. He did play the harp in real life, he had received one as a gift from his mother, and tuned it as best he could, starting with one basic note and tuning it from there. Three years later he found out he had tuned it incorrectly, but he could not have tuned it properly; if he had, the strings would have broken each night. Harpo's method placed much less tension on the strings. It seems it did spent a lot of money and time hiring teachers to show him the right way to play the harp, but most of them were too fascinated by the way he played to be of any use showing him the right way. Harpo's claim to fame in the talented Marx brothers group was as the mute brother. He only spoke one line on camera ever, it was in the movie In Too Many Kisses: "You sure you can't move?" Ironically enough it was a silent movie, and the audience only saw his lips move and saw the line on a title card. He communicated on screen with all sorts of props the most famous being his horn. His silent act was implied by his brothers to be a choice of not speaking rather than Harpo being an actual mute. In his auto-biography he tells the story of meeting a man who thought that Harpo was a mute in real life, an opinion that was shared by many people. His trademark wild hairdo was, in fact, a wig that started out bright pink and eventually was toned down to red (even though it looks blonde on screen). He was apparently an overall nice guy, adopting four children with his one and only wife. Saying that he wanted to adopt as many children as his house had windows, so when he left home there could be a child at each window waving goodbye. So for making so many people laugh out loud, myself included, without having to say a word, Adolph (Harpo) Marx (November 23rd, 1888- September 28th, 1964, at the age of 75), you are my hero of the day.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Counterfeiters

The dapper fellow above is our 95th hero of the day, and his name is Andre Gide, born this day 1869 in Paris, France. He was born in Paris, but was brought up in Normandy and began writing at an early age. His first novel was published at the age of 22. I suppose the time before ESPN, and Internet porn gave a young fellow a lot more free time to write than today's fast paced world. Sad to think that at 22 he had published a novel, while at 22 I could probably barely sign my full name correctly. It would appear that M. Gide lived a very messy personal life, after an encounter in North Africa with a boy prostitute, he decided that he was a homosexual. Nothing wrong with that I suppose, but he then decided to marry a woman, but not consummate the marriage. I guess it was a form of "show" marriage, which are probably the best type. He then decided to take a 16 year old boy as a lover, again to each his own, but the boy was the son of the best man at his wedding! He then decided to adopt his lover, not sure how that would go over in today's society, but back then they just eloped to London. In the early 1920's he decided to take a ride on the wild side, and conceived a daughter with a much younger woman, who just happened to be the daughter of one of his oldest friends. Seems M. Gide liked them young. It was probably his only trip onto the wild side, and the daughter was to his only descendant by blood. Perhaps all of this personal conflict is why Gide's work is seen as exposing to public view the two sides of his personality. He was rounded condemned for defending homosexuality in one of his works, but he still considered that work one of his best. The one book that lifts Gide to hero status is The Counterfeiters, and I highly recommend it. But for all those other works in which his main goal is to achieve intellectual honesty (that is what we should try to achieve in any of our endeavours), Andre Gide (November 22nd, 1869- February 19th, 1951, at the age of 81), you are my hero of the day.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


Finally good news a break in the drought of heroes. The fellow above is our 94th hero of the day, one Francois-Marie Arouet otherwise known as Voltaire. Stick with me, dear readers on why this post is not going to be up to par as to the details of our hero's life. I have spent the last 18 hours being extremely ill, and spending some quality time in the reading room of my house. It is times like these that I am grateful that I have two such reading rooms. Ease of access no matter what my location in the house, and in case of visitors or co inhabitants, I can stagger into the one furthermost away to do my sinful business and/or puke my fucking guts out. All this unsolicited information is shared by way of explaining that today's post is just more than I can bear. Besides our heroic fellow above was a prolific writer and produced works in almost every literary form including plays, poetry, novels, essays, historical, and scientific works, and more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. Hard to summarize his heroic impact on my life in a simple little blog post, even if I didn't feel like warmed over dog crap, but I do feel like warmed over dog crap, and I am just going to have to let you look his works up for yourself (not that hard to do), and draw you own conclusions. His letters alone take up 102 volumes! So attempting to try to pin down one, or two little things that make him a hero is impossible, so therefore, I will not try it. Suffice to say for being for the world's greatest writers, ill or not, Voltaire (November 21st, 1694- May 30th, 1778, at the age of 83), you are my hero of the day.

Friday, November 20, 2009

No Joy

Sad to say that we are out of luck in the hero department today. After reading several biographies of people who could be heroes, I was just unable to say that anyone, anywhere, from the beginning of time until today, that any person rose to the status of my hero. I am also exhausted since I, and several of my work friends have been out drinking for the last 6 hours or so. Slightly drunk, and tired are not a good combination to blog some pithy post about the joys, and/or horrors of day to day life. I am sorry dear reader, but today is just not one of those days, so it is with regret, and some shame at the pitiful nature of this post that I must inform you that for today there is no hero of the day.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Don't Try

I searched through the dregs of humanity on today's list, and while there were a couple of possible contenders, not just made it on to the hero pedestal. Therefore, today is another one of those days that is hero-less. I even was clearly reminded why picking live heroes can be a bit tricky (see Thierry Henry's actions in a World Cup qualifier yesterday for more information). With that in mind I decided to steal a line of a fellow who, if he had been born on a different day, would have been a clear choice for the award. He is Charles Bukowski, and the title words of this post are the words that are engraved on his gravestone. Now, you might look at those words, and think that maybe it just means not to try, to give up, suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, and not struggling too hard against a fate that has already been decided for you. And, if you know anything about Bukowski's work, which is not the most cheerful stuff in the world, you might think that is how he meant those words to be interpreted. However, Bukowski had a different take on the words, and what they meant for him, and I shamelessly steal them below:

'Somebody at one of these places ... asked me: "What do you do? How do you write, create?" You don't, I told them. You don't try. That's very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It's like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it. Bukowski, 1963

Pretty good way of looking at what, on its face for most people would be a disheartening couple of words. Words that are the reason I decided that today was hero-less. I did not want to try, to try and latch onto some person, who while heroic, did not meet the standards of being MY hero. I did wait around, and hope that the bug would come to me, but today it did not, and I was determined not to try and force it. I did consider grafting Bukowski onto day even though it was not his birthday. He did give another wonderful piece of advice about writing, and I am going to steal it as well. He wrote that whenever he felt disillusioned about his writing, and got concerned that what he was writing wasn't good enough, he would go read another author, and would soon realize that he was on the right track. Seems Mr. Bukowski had issues with thinking that other writers were as good as he was. Now, I do not pretend to think I am some great "writer", after all my grammar is a train wreck, and I write silly little blog posts. But, I have taken Bukowski at his word, and luckily for me I have found a blog that I read solely because it is so poorly written. The irony is that this blogger is some sort of teacher, and has to grade their student's writing. You can not make this sort of shit up, the writing is so very bad, and there is absolutely no intellectual content at all. Adding to the comedy is that this person's has readers that are universally supportive in their comments. Either glossing over the atrocious writing, or pretending not to notice the intellectual wasteland being created right in front of their eyes. I can only hope that I am not serving as this type of example for some other person in the blogosphere. So, it is with some (small) regret that I have to inform you dear readers, that today I decided not to try, and there is no hero of the day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Say Fromage

The fellow above is our 93rd hero of the day, and his name is Louis Daguerre born this day in Cormeilles-en-Parisis, France. The fact that there is a picture of M. Daguerre is, in part, thanks to him. He is most famous for, and heoric beacuse of his invention of a way to capture images onto a mirror-polished surface of silver bearing a coating of silver halide particles deposited by iodine vapor. Which is a long winded way of saying he made pretty pictures possible. He is also credited with inventing the Diorama, a mobile theatre device. The world's first permanent photograph was taken in 1826 by Joseph Niépce, who soon became M. Daguerre's partner. The first photo of a human being was taken in late 1838, or early 1839, and it shows the Boulevard du Temple, and a man standing still long enough (about 10 minuets) for the exposure to capture him (he was getting his shoes shined). M. Daguerre's contribution to the world was the 19th century equivalent of the Polaroid, being able to produce a single image only, but it was still a great leap forward. So, today when you get drunk and MMS some friend of you a picture of you ass over your cell phone, you have M. Daguerre and his successors to thank. For he and his competitors where the first people to think that preserving a scene in a "photograph" might be a good plan, and I am sure numerous portrait painters had to find other means of making a living. So for getting the world to say cheese, Louis Daguerre (November 18th, 1787- July 10th, 1851 at the age of 53), you are my hero of the day.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

They Named What after me?

The big nosed fellow above clocking in as our 92nd hero, is one Titus Flavius Vespasianus, born this day 9 A.D. in Falacrina, Italy. Born into a family of equestrians, that rose to senatorial rank under the Claudo-Julian emperors, our boy Vespasian was mostly noted for being an extremely good military commander. His military reputation was based upon his participation in the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 A.D., and his ability to bring to heel Judea after a rebellion in 66 A.D.. The year 69 was to be the defining year of Vespasian's career, commonly called the year of the Four Emperors it started after joy boy Nero's suicide in 68. Galba was chosen by the Roman Senate to replace him. Galba lasted until the middle of January when Otho decided "hey I want to be Emperor," and marched on Rome. Galba was duly assassinated, and Otho became Emperor. He lasted till April when some clown named Vitellius decided to go into the Emperor business. Vitellius lasted until December when our hero Vespasian decided that he wanted a piece of the Emperor pie. After such disastrous civil strife Vespasian brought order, order and the tax man the old Latin phrase Pecunia non olet (money does not smell) is supposed to have been coined about this time in reference to Vespasian instituting a tax on the collection of urine. In fact urinals are still named after him in France (vespasiennes), Italy (vespasiani), and Romania (vespasiene). Now that is heroic, going down in history as the guy who's name is attached to the pisser. The Roman Colosseum was began under his reign (it was not finished at the time of his death), and it seems our boy had a good propaganda machine working for him as well. Not a lot is known about the middle years of his reign, but at least he brought peace, which is probably his greatest feat. When he was on his deathbed and expiring rapidly, he demanded that he be helped to stand as he believed "An emperor should die on his feet", (rather ironic for a guy with urinals named after him). He died of an intestinal inflammation which led to excessive diarrhea. His purported great wit can be glimpsed from his last words; Væ, puto deus fio, "Damn. I am already becoming a god!" He is also a major character in Lindsay Davis' Falco series of books set in Rome during his reign, and they are very good books. So, for bringing peace, and the piss tax to Rome in a trying and troubled time, Titus Flavius Vespasianus (November 17th, 9- June 23rd, 79, at the age of 69), you are my hero of the day.

Monday, November 16, 2009

D'Alembert's Dream

The smug looking fellow above is our 91st hero of the day, one Jean le Rond d'Alembert born this day 1717 in Paris, France. M. d'Alembert had a rough start to life, he was born the illegitimate son of a female author, and a artillery officer whom did not want his parentage of d'Alembert known. In fact, he got his name from the church upon which he mother deposited him a couple of days after his birth it being called St. Jean-le-Rond de Paris church. A wonderful start to a life, being dumped on the church steps like the rubbish you would haul off to the bin. Things soon got better (they couldn't have got too much worse) he was adopted by the wife of a glazier, and dear, old papa decided to step up to the plate, and fund his baby boy's education. Then things got even better dear dad kicked the bucket when d'Alembert was only nine, and left him an annuity of 1200 livres per year. That education was put to good use, d'Alembert made serious contributions to the fields of wave theory, fluid dynamics (even proposing the d'Alembert paradox which I can not even begin to explain), and was a co-author, with Denis Dierdot, of the Encyclopédie. He authored over a thousand articles for the Encyclopdie, and managed to get himself elected to the Académie des Sciences. He was a frequent guests at numerous Paris salons, one of which was the famous one kept by Mlle de Lespinasse with whom he formed a life long relationship. He even came up with a system for gambling (that was sadly based on a incorrect theory) that of decreasing one's bet the more one wins and increasing one's bet the more one loses is therefore called the D'Alembert system. So for those thousand articles, and numerous other contributions to science, and math that sail over my head, and for being the subject of a lovely discourse written by Dierdot, Jean le Rond d'Alembert (November 16th, 1717- October 29th, 1783, at the age of 66 of a bladder illness), you are my hero of the day.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Hang em High McCoy

The righteous fellow above is one Sam Waterston, born this day 1940 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Born to painter mother, and a Scot immigrant father, our boy Sam managed to attend Yale on a scholarship. Graduating in 1962. He is a classically trained actor, and has several stage roles to his credit, but it as Hang 'em High Jack McCoy that he is best known. He has appeared in numerous other TV, movies, and stage roles, but Law and Order is what makes him the hero of the day. Considering that when I tell people what I do, I often get the "ohh so you are like Jack McCoy" response (nothing is further from the truth), I have decided to embrace good old Jack. After all, love him or hate him, the man has his principles, and principles are important things to have in our jobs. I have to give Mr. Waterston credit, he makes my job look like it is a lot more important, and a lot more fun than it actually is, and his writers have, on occasion, wrote some fine closing arguments that I might have referenced in my own situation before. He has his convictions, but in order to get convictions he does blur the ethical line, and that rarely happens in real life. Real life very rarely makes good Television, and certainly does not conform to one hour time slot, so I guess we need to cut McCoy some slack. Not only is Sam one fine actor playing a fine role, he is a genuine humanitarian. He donates considerable time to groups that are truly dedicated to making the planet a better place, and he seems to be doing it because he actually cares, and not as some judicially ordered community service. So for playing a role on TV, that I get to try to mimic in real life, and being a stand up guy, Sam Waterston (November 15th, 1940-present), you are my hero of the day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


The thoughtful old bird above is one Astrid Lindgren, born this day 1907, in Vimmerby, Sweden. She has climbed to the top of the heroine pole by virtue of her most famous work, Pippi Longstocking. I know it is a child's book, but hey all I am is one very big, very fat, child. Her first job was working at a newspaper where she was quickly made pregnant by the editor-in-chief. He did do the right thing by proposing marriage, but our girl said "thanks, but no thanks," and moved to Stockholm to find fame and fortune. Lucky for us she said no the editor who liked to dip his quill into the company ink, because the man she eventually married helped her produce the daughter, Karin, for whom Pippi Longstocking was written, and a legend was born. Today's latest Swedish literary sensation, Steig Larsson, who's "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo" (the American title) trilogy is a world wide best seller, owes a great debt to Mrs. Lindgren. The main character in M. Larsson's book is, as he freely admitted, based upon his idea of a Pippi Longstocking all grown up, and facing the adult world as an adult. Mrs. Lindgren is rated the 25th most translated author of all time, not bad, not bad at all, especially if you write in a language as wacky as Swedish. Later in her life, a scandal surrounded her because it was revealed that her marginal tax rate had climbed to 102%. Now, I do not know much about marginal tax rates, nor to I want to, but I figure that a tax rate, marginal or not, of 102% seems a bit on the high side. The joys of socialism brought home for all to see. But for writing a children's book that we all can enjoy, and for providing a good, clean book that has endured throughout the years, Astrid Lindgren (November 14th, 1907- January 28th, 2002, at the age of 94), you are my heroine of the day.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Today is all about duality, two heroes, and the dual nature of humankind. The first heroine is the postage stamped lady to the left, her name is Dorothea Erxleben born this day 1715, in Quedlinburg, Germany. She is not particularly famous, but maybe she needs to be her claim to heroine status is based upon the fact that she was the first female doctor in Germany. She had to struggle mightily to be allowed to study, and then practice medicine. It took a special dispensation from Fredrick the Great just so she was allowed to study medicine. She obtained her M.D. from the University of Halle in 1754, and practiced medicine until her death. So, for being the trailblazer that opened the way for all those lady doctors to follow, Dorothea Erxleben, (November 13, 1715-June 13, 1762, at the age of 46), you are (one of ) my hero(ines) of the day.
Our second hero is the fellow above, one Robert Louis Stevenson, born this day 1850 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Known for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Treasure Island, and numerous other wonderful tales, Stevenson was one of the favourite authors of my childhood. We all know the Jekyll/Hyde story, and maybe we all have a little bit of both Jekyll and Hyde inside of us. For some of us the magic potion that turns us into Mr. Hyde is booze, and that is one of my pet peeves. People who turn into radically different people when they drink. I like to think I am the same elegant, calm, sophisticated, man of the world sober as I am drunk. Actually, I consider myself the same asshole drunk as I am sober, and am quite proud of the fact. The story of development of the story is quite interesting (for any of us who have ever written about a dream before).
"One night in late September or early October 1885, possibly while he was still revising "Markheim," Stevenson had a dream, and on wakening had the intuition for two or three scenes that would appear in the story. "In the small hours of one morning," says Mrs Stevenson, "I was awakened by cries of horror from Louis. Thinking he had a nightmare, I woke him. He said angrily, 'Why did you wake me? I was dreaming a fine bogey tale.' I had awakened him at the first transformation scene."
Glad to see that other people can be "inspired" by dreams to write cracking good yarns, that can still, if told correctly, scare the crap out of people. The whole duality of human nature, that in each of us exists the capacity for good, and the capacity for evil is the major theme of the work. Of course I am not convinced Stevenson's world never saw the like of Stalin or Hitler, and I doubt very much either of those fellows had any capacity for good. One of my favourite books of his is The Master of Ballantrae, a ripping good tale of revenge, and "brotherly love." I recommend giving it a read. So for all those lovely tales of high adventure, revenge, and the duality of human nature, Robert Louis Stevenson (November 13th,1850-December 3 1894, at the age of 44, of cerebral hemorrhage), you are (one of) my heroes of the day.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Shameful Joy

Today's hero is a word, and not only it is a word it is a stinking German word. You know, one of those compound German words that are impossible to pronounce, and even harder to translate into any other language. I figured that a couple of months ago, a number made it to hero status, so why not let a word have the same distinction. The word that has climbed to the top of the hero ladder for today is, Schadenfreude, and of course it means a lot of different things depending on whom you ask. Lisa Simpson, one of my favourite oracles, describes it as shameful joy. It has been given other meanings as well such as "being glad I am not you," "taking pleasure in the suffering of others," and "people taking pleasure in your pain." I was recently accused (maybe that is too strong of a word, but oh well) of practicing schadenfreude by a colleague, and after they explained it to me in small words, I have to admit there might be some truth in that statement. Although of the three possible "definitions" above, I believe I follow the first one the most. I do not take undue pleasure in other people's pain. I have my own pain, thank you, and do not spent a lot of time dwelling on the pain of others. I am just that big of a selfish bastard. I also am not overly concerned with the suffering of others, after all I am no saint. The definition I prefer is the "being glad I am not you. We all know someone or someones that we can look to and say, with just a bit of smugness, that "thank fucking christ I am not them," or "man their life is really fucked up, and glad that I do not have to live it." I have had a couple of people that have served this purpose in my life, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank them. Whenever I feel like my life is one big shit sandwich, I try to think of them, and recall their situation in order to make myself feel better. It usually works. Of course, the downside to this is that I am pretty certain that I serve this purpose for people in my life as well. I am sure one or more of my pals can smirk, and think "wow I am so glad that I am not GI." If you have the time you should Google the schadenfreude song from the Broadway musical "Avenue Q" and take a listen, it is priceless and does a wonder job of illustrating the point of the word. So, on a day where no person made it to hero status, we are left with the world schadenfreude as the best alternative, and maybe a little credit to the person who clued me in to exactly the kind of bastard I am, either way Schadenfreude, you are my hero of the day.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Underground

The pensive looking fellow above is one Fyodor Dostoyevsky, born this day 1821 in Moscow, Russia. If you read at all you will be familiar with his works, Notes from the Underground, Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov are the most famous of his works. Probably my favourite work of his is the Notes from the Underground it has been called "the best overture for existentialism that has ever been written." That is high praise, and very important to a person such as myself. Because as of this morning (when I realized it fully, even though I think it has been festering a while), I am going through a deep existential crisis of my own. Perhaps I should go back and find my copy of the "Notes" and figure out what to do about it, or if I can do anything about it at all. That is the problem with existential crisis they seems to have a great deal of staying power. I wish good, old Fyodor was alive and kicking, since he is considered one of the best psychologists in world literature, maybe he could help. I believe that I have identified the problem, which is according to logic, the first step to solving the problem. In many ways Fyodor is the "literary father" of this blog, and one of my favourite characters in literature is Ivan Karamazov, for reasons that I will explain one day, but I do not wish to end up like poor Ivan, mad as a hatter and unable to function in the real world. Of course the nom de plume that I write under is shamelessly stolen from The Brothers Karamazov, and for that I am grateful. Any man would could write that chapter on the Grand Inquisitor is a fucking genius. I am not qualified to sort through all of Dostoyevsky's life there is a great three volume biography of him that does that, I am just merely a great admirer of his work. Even Crime and Punishment is fucking fantastic, and it has been done to death since he wrote it. There is an excellent French film called "The Pickpocket" which is basically Crime and Punishment "redux", and it is highly recommended. I wonder if a little exile to Siberia (maybe in the more figurative sense) would do me some good. Not sure how much good it did Fyodor. It also seems that he suffered from being a compulsive gambler, Crime and Punishment was written in a great hurry to obtain an advance from his publisher because he had left himself penniless after a bad gambling spree. Is there any other kind of gambling spree, but bad? Have you ever known anyone to go on a gambling "spree" and come back loaded down with buckets of cash? I guess he was a bit like most gamblers, we all take a "wait and hope" approach. Waiting for that one big score that will make us even, or make us our fortune, and hoping like hell that it about to happen on this hand of cards, this roll of the die, or this horse who can surely outrun all those other horses. It is arrant nonsense of course, very rarely do the cards fall our way enough to secure our nest egg, the dice do not fly high enough to pay off all the debts we have, and allow us to retire to the south of France to live a life of leisure. As I mentioned early I could use Fyodor here to help me out of the crisis that I am currently facing. It seems that I am only smart enough to realize, or create my crisis, but just not smart enough to either solve it, or realize that it has no solution, and move on with my day to day life without concerning myself with it again. Perhaps that is the nature of existentialism, to constantly be in crisis about existing. If so, I really need to find the key, or the plan out of this fucking madhouse maze, and soon. All of this whining has clearly detracted from the importance of this day, other than being Veteran's Day it has other significance in my life that is best left unexplored, but the most important thing is that is Fyodor's day. So, for writing reams and reams of some of the best fucking literature you ever want to read, and creating the character I stole my title from, Fyodor Dostoyevsky (November 11th-1821- February 9th 1881, at the age of 59 from a lung hemorrhage), you are my hero of the day.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Woman after me own Heart

The lusty babe above is one Ninon de l'Enclos, born this day 1620 in Paris, France. I was about to say that she beat off quite a number of competitors to be crowned heroine of the day, but given her career lets just say she fended off a number of challengers to that title. Mlle. de l'Enclos began her career as a simple prostitute, moved on to the courtesan stage, and eventually wound up a financially secure author. She was influenced by Epicureanism, and devoted her life to both physical and mental pleasure. Do not dismiss her as some lightweight rich man's whore, she encouraged the young Moliere, and upon her death left money to her accountant's son, a nine year old boy who the world later knew as Voltaire. When she began her life as a courtesan she took a number of famous, powerful (as in politically powerful), lovers, but never more than one at a time. I guess a girl has to know her limitations. It is a sign of her wit, and winning personality that she was able to tell one that his time has passed frankly, and that fellow would then become fast friends with his successor in interests. Even in the France of the time, this life was not exactly smiled upon, and Mlle. de l'Enclos was sent to a convent, until the intercession of another heroine Christina of Sweden helped arrange her release. She was famous for her wit (amongst other traits I am sure), and one said "We should take care to lay in a stock of provisions, but not of pleasures: these should be gathered day by day." Here, here to that as a way of looking at life, all too often we forget the pleasures of life. They are lost in the day to day grind that we have to suffer just to be able to pay the mortgage, or we try to make them too complicated. The simplest pleasures are usually the best. She retired from the courtesan life in the late 1660's and set up one of the most famous Paris salons, where she befriended another pretty (soon to be) famous playwright, Jean Racine. After her death, the duc de Saint-Simon summed up her life as follows "A shining example of the triumph of vice, when directed with intelligence and redeemed by a little virtue." Hopefully, we my time comes someone, somewhere can say similar words about me. So, for making a virtue of vice, and sprinkling in a load of intelligence, and being an independent woman of means when it wasn't so fashionable to be, Ninon de l' Enclos (November 10th, 1620-October 17th, 1705, at the age of 84), you are my heroine of the day.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Seven Ages

The distinguished fellow above is one Alistair Horne, born this day 1925, somewhere in merry Olde England (I looked, and was unable to find exactly where). M. Horne was educated in Switzerland, and at Jesus College, Cambridge where he played a little international ice hockey. He served in the RAF, and then the Coldstream Guards during, and directly after World War Two, and then was a foreign correspondent for The Daily Telegraph until beginning his writing career in 1955. It is for that writing career that he is my hero of the day. His "A Savage War of Peace" about the French conflict in Algeria was pretty much required reading for an American military bogged down in Vietnam, and now bogged down in two other countries. However, I am not a military man, and I read his "Seven Ages of Paris" and his "La Belle France." Both of which are outstanding books, and well worth a read. For his scholarship in French history he was made a Chevalier de la Legion d' Honneur by France. These books are enough to put him on the hero pedestal, and as a frustrated author myself, I am slowly beginning to appreciate how fucking hard it is to write a book. I have trouble getting a paragraph to make sense, I can not imagine the work a book would take. Also, I would think mood would have a lot to do with one's ability to write. For me, today has not been a day which finds me in the best of moods. It seems every interpersonal interaction I have goes to shit in about five minuets. At first I thought it was just the other person being unreasonable, but after about four disasters in an hour, I am beginning to suspect that I might be the problem. Which is probably why this post sucks, and therefore must be stopped. So, for writing two fabulous books, no matter what mood he was in, Alistair Horne (November 9th, 1925-present), you are my hero of the day.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

The Un-Dead

The heavy set fellow above is one Bram Stoker, born this day 1847 in Dublin, Ireland. His main interest in his life started whilst he was a student, and it was theatre. He became the theatre critic for the Dublin Evening Mail, and it was at this job he was to get his big break. This was at a time when theatre critics were held in very low esteem, but Stoker gained attention by the high quality of his reviews. Guess critics have come a long way, since now days people base their entire opinion about a film or show upon the review of a critic. It was as a critic that in December 1876 he gave his most fortunate of reviews. He reviewed Henry Irving's performance of Hamlet, and was invited to dinner by the famous actor, and soon became Mr. Irving's personal assistant. It was this relationship that was to have the deepest impression on Stoker's life. He soon married, and moved to London to become manager of Irving's Lyceum Theatre, a post he held for 27 years. His connection with Irvine got him introduced into high society where he got to hob nob with the snobs of the literary world. He even named his only child after Irving. This was what Stoker was mostly known for while alive, but of course today his fame rests almost entirely upon his novel Dracula. Two points of irony about Mr. Stoker's being chose as today's hero. First, he traveled a great deal as Irvin's assistant, but never to Eastern Europe the setting of his most famous work, and second, today is also Vlad the Impaler's birthday, the man that is now seen as the inspiration for Dracula. The work spawned the entire vampire craze that is still going on today, and I must confess I went through the whole "vampires are cool" phase. Anne Rice has made a fucking killing, and she owes a debt to Mr. Stoker, and recently the Twilight movies have taken there place in the vampire genre. The original manuscript for Dracula was thought to be lost for years and years, but was discovered in a barn in Pennsylvania in the early 1980s. Hand written on the title page were the words "THE UN-DEAD" followed by the author's name. Another bit of irony there I suppose, the most famous horror novel of all time was subject to a last minute title change. So, for kicking off an entire new genre that as a much younger man, I thought was way cooler than I do today, and for inspiring other authors to write some half way decent books, Bram Stoker (November 8th, 1847- April 20th, 1912 at the age of 64), you are my hero of the day.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Permanent Revolution

The bespectacled fellow above is one Lev Bronstien, a. k. a. Leon Trotsky, born this day in Yanovka, Russia. Born into a well to do farmer's family, Lev was sent to Odessa at the age of nine to be educated, Odessa was unlike most Russian cities in that it was a bustling international port, and his education there was partially responsible for the older Trotsky's international outlook. This is really not the place to give too much a biography of Trotsky. There have been many of those written already, and the best one I read ran to three VERY long volumes, and I recommend it only if you really are dedicated to Trotskism. I place him in my pantheon of heroes for a couple of major reasons. One his was, until he bottled it, and was forced into exile, the only SANE opposition to that complete madman Stalin after the death of Lenin. The history of the 20th century might have been dramatically different if Trotsky had won that particular power struggle. Not that it would have been better, but it is hard to see how the history of the Soviet Union, and all those lost souls sent to the Gulag would have been worse with Trotsky in charge. That is one of those "what ifs" of history that we all love to indulge in, and that alternate history writers make their daily bread from. His reorganizing of the Red Army during the revolution made it into the fighting force that was eventually able to help destroy Hitler's Panzer divisions. Though by the time that happened, Trotsky had exited the stage. The other major contribution to political theory was his idea of Permanent Revolution which I wish I could explain in some simple, pithy, and informative sentence, but I am just not that intelligent. If I was I hopefully would not just be sitting on my ass writing simple "hero of the day" blog post just to pass the time of day. However, Trotsky did lose that battle for political supremacy with Stalin, and was eventually shipped out into exile. His first station of exile was Istanbul, Turkey, where the number of exiled White Russian officers put Trotsky's life in daily danger. After spending four years in Turkey, he then moved to France where after two years he was informed that he had wore out his welcome. Then it was off to Norway of all places, where after two years, the alleged influence of the Soviet Union, led to him being put on a freighter to Mexico. This was to be his final destination. He was welcomed with open arms in Mexico, and moved into a lovely house in Mexico City. It was in Mexico that the NKVD agent Ramon Mercader pluned the ice axe into Trotsky skull that finally accomplished Stalin's wish to have Trotsky becomed deceased. On Feburary 27th, 1940 Trotsky, feeling ill and exhausted wrote a letter which is now called Trotsky's Testament, I will cut and paste it below because it says all that needs to be said by a revolutionary facing mortality.

"In addition to the happiness of being a fighter for the cause of socialism, fate gave me the happiness of being her husband. During the almost forty years of our life together she remained an inexhaustible source of love, magnanimity, and tenderness. She underwent great sufferings, especially in the last period of our lives. But I find some comfort in the fact that she also knew days of happiness.
For forty-three years of my conscious life I have remained a revolutionist; for forty-two of them I have fought under the banner of Marxism. If I had to begin all over again I would of course try to avoid this or that mistake, but the main course of my life would remain unchanged. I shall die a proletarian revolutionist, a Marxist, a dialectical materialist and, consequently, an irreconcilable atheist. My faith in the communist future of mankind is not less ardent, indeed it is firmer today, than it was in the days of my youth.
Natasha has just come up to the window from the courtyard and opened it wider so that the air may enter more freely into my room. I can see the bright green strip of grass beneath the wall, and the clear blue sky above the wall, and sunlight everywhere. Life is beautiful. Let the future generations cleanse it of all evil, oppression and violence, and enjoy it to the full."
L. Trotsky
February 27, 1940

So for all those years fighting for proles like myself, Leon Trotsky (November 7th, 1879- August 21st, 1940, at the age of 60 by ice axe to the head), you are my hero of the day.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Sans Qualities

The fellow above is one Robert Musil, born this day 1880, in Klagenfurt, Austria. The son of an engineer, Musil, after a couple of false starts, studied engineering at school in order to join his father's firm. He studied engineering at day, but at night he devoted his time to the study and pursuit of literature. Even as he was finishing his engineering studies, he became bored with the limit world that an engineering degree offered him, and moved to Berlin to begin doctorate studies in philosophy and psychology. It was during this time that he met the woman that was to become his wife, and he put the finishing touches on his first book "The Confusions of Young Torless." After completing his doctorate, and turning down a professorship in psychology so that he could concentrate on literature, Musil got married, and settled down to work as a librarian. Musil enlisted in the army upon the outbreak of World War I, but did not see any serious action, and after the war moved to Vienna to continue his literary career. It was in Vienna that Musil was to begin to compose his masterpiece "The Man without Qualities" for which he is today's hero. He started writing it in 1921, and it was incomplete at his death in 1942. He wrote two of the three volumes that were published in 1930, but left the third volume unfinished at his death. He worked on the novel daily, and that work was partly the reason that he and his family lived in dire poverty. This poverty made him, according to others, very bad company, not a pleasant fellow to be around because he felt that he was not getting the recognition he deserved, and that recognition was being heaped upon other writers that he did not respect. I can feel his pain at the poverty part. Before I became the filthy rich bastard I am today, I experienced a few years of grinding poverty (mostly as a student), they were not a lot of fun, and I did not have a family to support. I can only imagine how the day to day struggle to put bread on the family table must have influenced Musil. He was forced to live off the charity of others, and his masterpiece did not bring him either commercial or financial success. He died, a lonely, and bitter man in Geneva, Switzerland, and only eight people attended his funeral. His quote "That you are not famous is only natural; that you do not have enough readers to live is a shame!" pretty much sums up his view on his life. But, for that life that included writing, what is today, see as a masterpiece of modern literature, Robert Musil (November 6th, 1880-April 15th, 1942, at the age of 61), you are my hero of the day.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Where are you from?

surprised at the number of Americans. and for those of you who like raw numbers.

17 Americans
17 French
14 English
4 Austrian
1 Greek
4 Germans
7 Swedish
2 Canadians
3 Hungarians
1 Welsh
2 Russian
2 Italian
1 Danish
1 Swiss
1 Albanian
1 Irish
1 Scots


at least the authors outnumbered the actors. the raw numbers of the 79 heroes so far.

1 painter
4 poets
1 philosopher
2 businessmen
3 film makers
3 cartoonists
6 rulers
18 authors
6 soccer players
5 scientists
5 politicians
10 actors/actresses
2 hockey players
5 musicians
1 baseball player
2 explorers
1 inventor
1 dentist
3 fictional characters


seems that I am a sexist pig.

Happy Trails

The youngish looking fellow above is one Leonard Slye, a.k.a. Roy Rogers, born this day 1911 in Cincinnati, Ohio. That is right, the "King of Cowboys" was born in fucking Ohio. Missing in the picture above is the white hat, that Roy usually wore during his films. That is how the uneducated could tell he was the good guy, and of course the bad guy had to have the matching black hat. Roy and his family did some knocking about Ohio before a visit to a sister in California convinced him and the family to pack up at move to California. He made his first film in 1935 as a "singing cowboy." He formed a musical group called the Sons of the Pioneers, and had hits like "Cool Waters" and "Tumbling Tumbleweeds." I must confess that I so old that I remember these tunes, and at the time thought they were the bomb. Maybe now, not so much, but at the time he was a hero, not only to me but to millions of children. Action figures, his horse Trigger, and his lovely wife Dale Evans, all combined to make good old Roy one hell of a hero. He was the square jawed fellow in the white hat that is going to save the day, and put everything in order. When I was a younger lad, I had to go to a training for my current profession, and one of the "teachers" there compared what I do for a living with being Roy Rogers, it made me sick to my stomach. What I do, and the things Roy Rogers did are miles apart, and do not ever let some day fool try to tell you differently. So for being the guy in the white hat that made it all ok, and for wishing us all "Happy Trails," Roy Rogers (November 5th 1911-July 6th, 1998, at the age of 86 of congestive heart failure.), you are my hero of the day.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Daylight Fading

Sad to report, dear readers, that today is another non-hero day. But, the show must go on as they say, and we should not let a little thing like not having a hero stop the blog posts from rolling out like new cars off an assembly line. I will try to let it me more than just the keys that I touch, something you can trust, and something that acts as more than a lullaby for the insomniacs of the world. That being said, I had this written out last night, but once again the thief of sleep has robbed me of the general outline that I wrote in my head, before I began to snore away the night. That is part of the point of this post, night. Night that comes all too quickly now that the country in which I reside has "come off" Daylight Savings Time. Of course DST is absolute crackers anyway, some bullshit about conserving energy by being able to keep the lights off until 8 p.m. at night. This in a country where car ownership is essential because our public transport is shit, and there is a certain stigma in riding the bus. As far as I can tell, all DST does is fuck up our body clocks when we "spring forward", and then "fall back", twice a year like some fucking time bandit yo-yo. The first week of either of those swings are bonkers, since we just "fell back" it is entirely too bright in the morning, and dark entirely too early at night. All this foolishness has led to insomnia (re) visiting me, and it is not a welcome guest. If you have the energy, go back and read my posts from about a year or so ago, and see that insomnia and I are old friends. I have this fear that I might be about to embark on another journey of sleeplessness that ends in giddiness again. That particular trip was not a lot of fun, and I do not wish to relive the experience. All this whining is just a way to explain that for today, dear readers, there is no hero of the day.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Man's Fate

The dapper fellow above is one Andre Malraux, born this day 1901 in Paris, France. M. Malraux had a rough beginning to life, his parents divorced when he was four, and his father then committed suicide when Malraux was twenty-nine. He was afflicted with Tourette's Syndrome as a child and suffered vocal, and facial tics. At the age of 21, he left France for Cambodia where his interaction with the French colonial government quickly turned him into a very vocal critic of French colonial policy. Moving back to France, he wrote the book for which I make him the hero of the day. Man's Fate, published in 1933, which concerned four revolutionaries in Shanghai, China in the late 1920's. The books focuses on four main characters, and how each of them meet their fate's. One character, Baron de Clappique is probably my favourite. Happy, and cheerful on the outside, but suffering inwardly, he is a compulsive gambler that refers to gambling as "suicide without dying." The book won the Prix Goncourt in 1933, and is considered a classical of French literature. Malraux went on to fight against the fascists in Spain, and eventually became the Minister of Information under Charles de Gaulle, and later France's first Minister of Cultural Affairs. All of those are great achievements, but it is for that one book, and the following quote that M. Malraux is my hero he once said "There is always a need for intoxication: China has opium, Islam has hashish, the West has woman." Pretty good quote that, and so for that quote, and one hell of a good book, Andre Malraux (November 3rd, 1901- November 23rd, 1976, at the age of 75), you are my hero of the day.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Logic Dictates

The fellow above is one George Boole, born this day 1815 in Lincolnshire, England. It is not a good picture, but it was the best one I could find. I guess Mr. Boole was not quite ready for his close-up. Boole was born into a middle-class family, and his talent for maths went relatively unnoticed until the age of 34 when he was appointed professor of mathematics at Queen's College in Cork, Ireland that he begin to shine. Logic was Mr. Boole's bailiwick, and he was the first English mathematician to tackle that subject in almost two hundred years. Granted most of his work was pretty obscure, and sails directly over my head like a lazy fly ball into left field, but his claim to fame, and his hero status rest upon his "invention" of Boolean logic. Whether or not you've ever heard of Mr. Boole, I can assure you that you have used his gift to humanity. Ever done a Google, MSN, or Yahoo search? If so then you used Boolean logic without knowing what you were using. The Boolean logic serves as one of the foundations of moder computer science, and we would be hard pressed without it. Trust me, I did many a search in law school for case law that absolutely DEPENDED on the proper use of Boolean logic. If some idiot law student such as myself can sort it out, then it must be fairly easy, and extremely user friendly. So for making it easier to find whatever obscure piece of case law, or internet porn I happen to be searching for, and for being extremely modest about his achievements, George Boole (November 2nd, 1815- December 8th-1864, at the age of 49), you are my hero of the day.

Sunday, November 01, 2009


Was unable to find a photo of today's hero, which may suggest he is not the most well known fellow in the world, but hero's do not have to be world famous (or even famous) to be heroes. Today's hero is one Hermann Broch, born this day 1886 in Vienna, Austria. Born into a prosperous Jewish family, our boy Hermann was destined to work in the family's textile factory. Being the dutiful son, he attended a technical school to train him to be able to take over the family business. He even managed to become married to the daughter of another rich manufacturer, and produced an heir. However, the marriage was not as joyful as it seemed, and Broch began to stray (the bounder!), and divorce was obtained in 1923. It was in the Vienna cafes that Broch meet the leading lights of Austrian literature, and begin to foster his literary ambitions. In the cafes he met the Austrian writer Robert Musil, whose Man without Qualities, Broch's own word was going to be considered the apex of early 20th century Austrian literature. He also meet a former nude model turned journalist, Ea von Allesch, with whom he had a brief affair. Throwing over the family business by selling his factory 1927, Broch began to study philosophy, mathematics, and psychology at the university of Vienna. All of this at the age of forty! I suppose there is hope for us late bloomers (of which I number), after all. He published his first book, which was began while he was imprisoned in a German concentration camp, at the age of forty-five. This was the trilogy "The Sleepwalkers," and is considered a piece of genius for its mastery of a range of style, and is cited by Miles Kundra as a major influence. He was saved from that concentration camp by friends, one of which was James Joyce. It appears that Herr Broch had some pretty famous friends, and had a profound impact on Austrian literature. His masterpiece is consider "The Death of Virgil," which concerns the last eighteen hours of the poet Virgil. It is a extremely complicated work, and not to be undertaken by the faint of heart. Forced to flee Europe by the Nazis, Broch eventually settled in the United States where the Death of Virgil was finished. So, for writing four lovely books that show a gift of different types of style, and for doing it in spite of his late start, thus providing hope for all of us frustrated, forty year old scribblers, Hermann Broch (November 1st, 1886- May 30th, 1951, at the age of 64 of a heart attack), you are my hero of the day.