Saturday, October 31, 2009

A Joy Forever


The dreamy fellow above is one John Keats, born this day 1795, in London Town, Merry Olde England. Keats has a rather rough childhood, his father died in an accident when Keats was nine year old, and his mother died when Keats was fifteen. An orphan packed off to live with a grandmother by the age of 15, what a lovely beginning to life. That grandmother appointed Keats a guardian who decided to make Keats an apprentice to an apothecary. He eventually got a job at a hospital in London, but was really more interested in the study of literature. Little did he know at the time that he would soon be the object of studies in literature by precious school boys like myself long after his death. He managed to get his first poem published in May, 1816, and a career as a poet was launched. It was sadly to be an all too brief career. Keats became the guardian of his younger brother Tom after the death of their grandmother. Tom soon became ill with tuberculosis, and died in 1818. Even before his brother's death, Keats himself had also shown signs of the same illness. By 1820, he was showing serious signs of tuberculosis, and moved to Rome on the advice of his physician. The "care" of this physician was quite possibly one of the causes of Keats' early demise. Keats was put on a starvation diet of one piece of bread and an anchovy a day because his doctor thought he had a disease of the stomach. By the time it was sorted out that Keats had consumption the writing was on the wall. The end came early in 1821, and Keats was buried in Rome under a tombstone that contains the words he wanted on his tombstone "here lies one whose name was writ in water." Shelly was convinced that Keats' death was hastened by a scathing review of Keats' poem Endymion, but I am pretty sure that his "doctor" had much more to do with the sad demise of a truly great poet. But, for all those romantic poems that helped a clown like me (who just happens to have a great memory) recite to all those doe eyed girls, and making me look like the true romantic I am, and for showing us that a "A Thing of Beauty is a Joy Forever." John Keats (October 31st 1795- February 23rd, 1821, at the age of 25 from tuberculosis), you are my hero of the day.

Friday, October 30, 2009

The Fire Within

The pipe smoking fellow above is one Louis Malle, born this day 1932 in Thumeries Nord, France. Malle was born into a wealthy industrial family (lucky him), and originally went to the Sorbonne to study political science, but that did not last, and he hied himself off to film school. Lucky for us. At 24, he made the film entitled Elevator to the Gallows, which made a international star of the lovely and talented Jeanne Moreau, and is a damn fine film. If you have the means, I recommend you obtaining and watching it. His next film The Lovers was originally banned as obscene in the United States, and a theatre in Ohio was fined for showing it, that fine was appealed, and the case eventually made it to the United States Supreme Court. Eventually it was determined not to be obscene prompting Justice Potter Stewart's now famous remark about porn "I know it when I see it." Perhaps his most famous film after The Lovers is Au Revoir, Les Enfants, and it is a lovely film too. But hero status is reserved for M. Malle's film The Fire Within. An absolute cracker of a film about a man who is considering (and eventually does commit) suicide. It is amazing, and has some gorgeous French actresses in it. Worth watching for the French girls, worth remembering for the angst filled plot. He made numerous other films, but the ones mentioned are the only ones I have seen, and for making those stunning films, and turning a bumpkin like me onto French film, Louis Malle (October 30th, 1932-November 23rd,1995, at the age of 63), you are my hero of the day.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Boswellian

The serious faced fellow above is one James Boswell, born this day 1740, in Edinburgh, Scotland. Born the eldest son of a judge, Boswell had a rough childhood. It seems he had inherited some "nervous illness" that made his life unhappy at the school he was sent to as a child. A bit of a wild child, Boswell ran away at the age of nineteen after deciding to convert to Catholicism, and spending three months living the high life in London. His father fetched him home, and made him sign away most of his inheritance for an allowance of pound 100 per year. He passed his first oral exam to become a lawyer in 1762 (lucky him), and was allowed to return to London for a time. It was during this time that he wrote his London journals which raised him to hero status in my eyes. These journals of his time in London make a womanizer proud (not that I am a womanizer). This is an example of the life he led while out in London Town; Thus, in 1767, in a letter to W.J.Temple, he wrote, "I got myself quite intoxicated, went to a Bawdy-house and past a whole night in the arms of a Whore. She indeed was a fine strong spirited Girl, a Whore worthy of Boswell if Boswell must have a whore." Sounds like a wild ride, and one that he went on frequently, and with abandon. All these whores worthy of Boswell, managed to give him the clap no less than seventeen times in his life! Despite his travel journals being relatively successful, Boswell was an unsuccessful advocate. He never was happy being the dutiful lawyer son in Edinburgh, and really wanted to be a man of letter in London. This was the major tragedy of his life, trapped in a marriage with a family, while he really wanted to be the libertine gad about town, footloose, and fancy free. In some respects Boswell typifies the struggle all men face, the struggle another hero of a later day (one W. Somerset Maugham) face, the call of duty, and the idea to "do the right thing," settle down, have kids, and be a productive member of society on the one hand, and on the other the gambling, not tied down, bounder that has no responsibility other than to sort out where the next drink is coming from, and what to bet on next. Boswell tried to do both, and in someways he succeeded in both, but he was miserable a great deal of the time. By the late 1770's he had descended further into alcoholism, and gambling addiction, ( a lawyer that drinks too much, and gambles too much, surprise, surprise), and was on his merry way to a fairly early grave at the age of 54. But, for writing that famous biography The Life of Samuel Johnson, and for those lovely London Journals that make for very interesting reading, James Boswell (October 29th,1740- May 19th, 1795, at the age of 54), you are my hero of the day.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

This War Part II

Today's heroes are a break from the normal, boring, staid fellows I usually pick. There is nothing historically relevant about these fellows (unless you happen to think, like I do, that we are all historically relevant in some way), they are the strong, burly men of S_______'s Tree Removal Services. My faithful readers will remember the curious incident of a tree attempting to murder me during the summer, and my subsequent declaration of war against Mother Nature, and her green minions http://mywastedbreath.blogspot.com/2009/06/this-war.html ) Well, today after gathering my forces (in the case the cash to pay the above mentioned burly fellows), I launched my first attack. The surviving large, leafy, death trap on my property was ambushed today, and relieved of a great number of its weapons, i.e. it branches. The dulcet tones of a running chainsaw were here to greet me as I arrived home after a tough day of fucking off at work, errr I mean keeping society safe from things that go bump in the night. Sweet music to my ears almost as sweet as yesterday's hero, M. Paganini, could produce from his Great Cannon of a violin. Not only was the big, scary, tree taken down a notch or two, but a couple of unsuspecting smaller, green assassins were taken all the way down to the ground. The number of leaves that I will have to rake will be MUCH reduced, and after all is raking leaves a bit like cleaning up puke from some drunk friend of yours that was not quick enough to hurl in the toilet like a civilized human being? Death from below has replaced attempted Death from Above on the GI's stately manor. Even now the victims of this attack are being raked, cut up in to smaller pieces, and carted off to oblivion. Sweeter words have not been typed in a while. So as of this writing we have two deaths, and one seriously wounded minions of Mother Nature, and all for a very reasonable price. This war continues unabated, as I said before nothing green can stay. So for helping me tweak the long nose of that raging bitch Mother Nature, and keeping me from breaking my back raking tons of leaves in the weeks to come, the men of S________'s Tree Removal are my heroes of the day. (and, no I don't know any of their names or birthday's, but it is my fucking blog, and I can change the rules with one outstretched wave of my hand).

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Devil's Violin


The violin toting fellow above is one Niccolo Paganini, born this day 1782 in Genoa, Italy. At the age of five he began learning the mandolin, and moved on to the instrument that made him famous, the violin, at the age of seven. He quickly became recognized for what he was, a protege, and moved from teacher to teacher as soon as his skills out paced his teacher's abilities. By the time he was 18, he had been appointed the first violin of the Republic of Lucca, where his reputation as a musician was only bested by his notoriety as a gambler and womanizer. He had even become an alcoholic at the age of 16. He was, by all accounts, one talented motherfucker, and the rumor became that he had made a pact with the Devil for his talent, and people claimed to see the Devil helping him play at concerts. The 24 caprices for violin that he played are some outstanding music. Of course there is no recording of HIS playing them, but hearing them, and realizing that it is a violin is a shock to the system. I can only imagine what he made them sound like. He was apparently capable of playing three octaves across four strings in a hand span, a feat that is still considered impossible by today's standards. I do not know anything about the violin, but if he was able to do something in the 1800's that is considered impossible today, then the man get my vote as a hero. Eventually all the booze and broad caught up to him, he was diagnosed with syphilis as early as 1822, and the "cure" of opium, and mercury caused him health problems for the rest of his life. He set up a casino in Paris in 1836, but it failed miserably, left him financially ruined. But, for making a violin scream like a school girl, with or without the devil's help, Niccolo Paganini (October 27th, 1782-May 27th, 1840, at the age of 57), you are my hero of the day.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Rabble Rouster



The squared jawed fellow above is one Georges Danton, born this day 1759 in Arcis-sur-Aube, France. He was born in to a respectable, but not well to do family, and received a good education, he moved to Paris to begin his career advocate. However, history sometimes has a way of changing one's destiny. Danton just happened to be living in Paris when the world was about to turn upside down. He managed to be involved in the storming of the Bastille, was selected as a local commander of the National Guard, and got himself elected as an administrator of Paris. The various rises and falls of revolutionary France swept Danton along as well. He voted for the death of King Louis XVI, and was quoted as saying after the execution had been carried out, "The kings of Europe would dare challenge us? We throw them the head of a king." Strong rabble rousting there, and he soon became a hero to various parts of the Paris mob. He rose to the heights of the various "governments" that rose and fall during the early years of the revolution, and became famous for his oratory. He was arrested on March 30th, 1794, given a "show" trial, and executed on April 5th. Thus, the fate of a lot of rabble rousters, swept up into a maelstrom of violence that he eventually became unable to control, and eventually became a victim of, his last words were to his executioner saying "Don't forget to show my head to the people. It's well worth seeing." At least he when to his doom with a sense of panache. So, for making some speeches that would move even the most staid of men, and to arouse the passions of the most numb members of society, Georges Danton (October 26th, 1759- April 5th, 1794, at the age of 34), you are my hero of the day.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Bad News Bears Part Deux

The heavily bearded fellow above is one Georges Bizet born this day 1838, in Paris, France. He was born into a musical family, and entered the Paris Conservatory at the age of ten. He wrote his first symphony at the age of 17, but it remained undiscovered until well after his death. His claim to my hero fame is he wrote the opera Carmen. The story that was written by previous hero Prosper Merimee, and is the theme music to the movie The Bad News Bears starring another hero Walter Matthau. Isn't it lovely how the circle of life is completed by all of this music? Originally the opera received a lukewarm reception, and even though it played 37 performances in the first three months of its release, its reception was a bitter disappointment to Bizet. However, his contemporaries in the music world recognised it for the work of genius that it was. Brahms attended over 20 performances, and their verdict would prove correct. Carmen has become one of the best known operas in the world today. Sadly, Bizet did not live to see Carmen's true success, he died of a heart attack at the age of 36 after engaging in a swimming contest with a friend. As a result of his death, Carmen was immediately dropped from the French Opera, but within three years it had made it way to various cities around the world where it was a huge hit. The eventual success of Carmen did overshadow Bizet's talent as a pianist. At a dinner party in 1861, he gave a performance on the piano that impressed Franz Liszt, who was in attendance, so much that he claimed that Bizet was one of the three finest pianists alive at the time. High praise that. But, for writing a lovely opera that we all know a song or two from, no matter how low brow we may be, Georges Bizet (October 25th 1838- June 3rd 1875, at the age of 36), you are my hero of the day.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nausea

Today's hero does not really exist, which if you if stick with me, will make a lot more sense. He is Antoine Roquentin a 30 year old former adventurer, who has returned from his travels to settle in the (fictional) city of Bouville, France. Today is not really his birthday, but there was not a real life person to fill the hero gap, and so M. Roquentin had to step in to fill the breach. M. Roquentin is the (anti?) hero of Jean Paul Sartre's novel Nausea, which was first published in 1938. He is a loner at heart, but does engage in a bit of people watching just to see how people act. I can feel a great deal of his pain at 40 that he feels at 30. He does not keep in contact with his family (neither do I), and has no friends (I have a few, so guess I am not totally lost). He seemed bored by his interactions with other people, and is a man of few words (another crime of which I have been accused). He is writing a history of some 18th century French politician, but does not seem to making any sort of progress. One of the best lines is "I live alone, entirely alone. I never speak to anyone, never; I receive nothing, I give nothing… When you live alone you no longer know what it is to tell something: the plausible disappears at the same time as the friends. You let events flow past; suddenly you see people pop up who speak and who go away, you plunge into stories without beginning or end: you make a terrible witness. But in compensation, one misses nothing, no improbability or, story too tall to be believed in cafes." Of course, very few of us live so alone in today's modern, computer driven, i phone connected, world, but the sense is still there. Objects begin to lose their "reality" for him, and he begins to fear objects as if they were wild beasts. It is a tale of a man in isolation facing the reality of his isolation from a society he does not really want to be a part of anyway, but still feels some connection to. He eventually starts to doubt his own existence at one time wondering if perhaps "he" is just a figment of the imagination. This idea is not as crazy as you think. A year and a half ago I had a foot of my colon removed, and when I was sent home after 12 days in the hospital with some wonderful drugs, I spent a LOT of time in my bed drugged out of my mind on those lovely little pills that made all that pain go away. After a couple of weeks of almost total, drug induced unconsciousness, you begin to wonder, in the few moments you are lucid a day, if all your existence has become a figment of some drug addled fool's imagination. Though it is possible that all of the things we know, this universe, this planet, this country, this state, this city, this street, and this couch, are all just a dream of some sleeping giant. There are great periods of the novel, and many of its ideas that sail gently over my head, but all in all it is a novel we should all read. Even if we can not understand it all, the little comprehension that we obtain is worth the work put into the read. So for examining his existence with a depth of understanding, and thought fullness that I can only dream about, Antoine Roquentin, if you ever really "existed" at all, (this day in 1938 by my own decree-present), you are my hero of the day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

We are not amused


The stately lady above is one Hedvig Eleonora of Holstein-Gottorp born this day 1636, and with a name like that you have to be heroic. Hedvig was married off to Charles X of Sweden for political reasons in 1654 at the age of 18, so her name became even longer. By all accounts she was a very strong willed and determined woman, whose temper was one to be feared. Her husband was absent for most of their marriage, off warring against the Poles, and the Danes. so Hedvig became the symbol of the monarchy at home in Sweden. After her husband's death in 1660 she became regent during the reign of her son, and later regent again during the reign of her grandson. She was never overly interested in politics, and it was not as a political force that she was to make her mark in Swedish history. She was the symbol of power, much like the Queen of England today is a symbol, and this was in the 1680's! And she was quite a symbol, in spite of her numerous lovers, and gambling addiction she managed to keep a reputation for great virtue among her people. I guess the tabloid press was a little slow on the uptake in 17th century Sweden. She had such a strong personality that when her son Charles XI married, he still referred to Hedvig as "The Queen," and the real queen as "his wife." Foreign ambassadors would always pay respects to Hedvig first then to the actual queen later. She stayed as the Dowager Queen of the Realm until her death in 1715. Lording over the court, building lovely palaces, and playing cards late into the night. But, for being a symbol of virtue, and keeping the fractious court together in trying times (i.e. the Great Northern War), Hedvig-Eleonora (October 23rd, 1636- November 15th, 1715, at the age of 79), you are my hero of the day.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

75

Welcome to my world, the world of having to post a blog a day just to keep a promise to yourself. 75 posts into the project, and only 291 more to go. No pressure there. Three quarters of a century into this, and I realize how much harder it was than I thought it was going to be when I first started. Then again a lot of things are much harder than you think when you first start them. Staying power is a virtue that is very underrated, and extremely hard to maintain. I have on numerous occasions thought of throwing the entire idea overboard, and saying that it was too hard, but that would be too easy, way too easy. Very easy to say enough of you and I, enough of the fight, and just go back to posting once a month or so. The point of this post (if there ever was a point) has either been lost, or changed about three times in the past five minutes. For which I should apologize. After all, if you are bothering to read this post you are wasting valuable time. Time that you could have spent in various other, more productive, ways. Almost any way would be more productive that reading this because I fear that the point that I had when I started has been lost into the night and fog of history forever. Heartbreaking as it might be, it appears that I am creating a blog about nothing, and that has been done before by a lot more talented people than myself. Clearly I need a hand to take hold of the scene, and provide me direction that would allow me to form coherent thoughts. I have been fairly drunk for the last three days, but that is a) no excuse for my incoherence, and b) nothing really new in my life. I can only go on for so long about how shitty this post is before I realize that it is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Therefore, dear reader(s) I will take my leave now since it is nearly 1 a.m., and tomorrow (or later today I guess) a new hero must arise, and save us all from ourselves.

The Professor

The thoughtful fellow above is one Arsene Wenger born this day 1949 in Strasbourg, France (it had reverted back to being French before Arsene was born). Raised, in his own words, a pub, Arsene is currently the gaffer at my club, Arsenal. He recently celebrated his 13th year in charge at Arsenal, and has led my team to glory on numerous occasions. Don't let the fact that he is a football manager fool you, M. Wenger holds in Electric Engineering, and a master's degree in Economics, and is fluent in four languages. He needs to be fluent in several languages because his squad is full of players from abroad. Many years ago, when I first became interested in the beautiful game, and had decided that I needed to "pick" a team, it was Arsenal's and M. Wegner's approach to the game that attracted me. That, and a couple of outstanding players that were at the club at the time. To the neutral Arsenal can be lovely to watch, sometimes their dedication to playing a beautiful game can be maddening, but it is mostly a joy to watch. Of course, he has his detractors, who complain about his style of play, his teams lack of English footballers in the squad, and his commitment to building a team rather than buying players in a "win now at all costs" attempt at glory. I want my team to fill the trophy cabinet as much as the next guy, but I can greatly appreciate Wenger's approach to the game, and admire his determination to stick to his ideals. I am all on board with his plan, just so long as one day it works, and it has worked before, so he is afforded the benefit of the doubt in my book. So, for changing the culture at my club, and for creating, coaching the Invincibles, Arsene Wenger (October 22nd, 1949-present), you are my hero of the day.


P.S. I have not done this before but I feel that today I need to. There were a couple of "honourable mentions" that I would like to "give a shout out to."

Franz Liszt (1811-1886)

Curly Howard (1903-1952)

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pleasure Domes


The fellow above is one Samuel Taylor Coleridge, born this day 1772, in Devon, England. The son of a vicar, and Cambridge educated, sort of, Coleridge suffered throughout his life with bouts of depression, and anxiety that led him to an addiction to opium. Sort of a double edged sword in many ways, because while the opium would ruin his physical, and mental health, it also was alleged the source of at least one of his most famous poems, Kubla Khan. It was in 1798 that Coleridge, and some other no talent bum named Wordworth, published Lyrical Ballads. Wordsworth wrote more of the poems contained in the book, but, in my opinion, Coleridge wrote the betters ones. The Rime of the Ancient Marniner being the main one. We all know the poem, or at least some lines from it whether we realize it or not. The idea of an albatross around ones neck come from The Rime, and it is an awesome piece of work, but a poetic genius. I have posted about Coleridge before, and I invite you to go back to that post and reread it (or just read it to begin with). I recommend his The Pains of Sleep, Dejection; An Ode, Kubla Khan, and This Lime Tree Bower; My Prison. All truly great poems written by a fucking master craftsman. Coleridge was an extremely influential poet, but he was also one of the most well thought of literary critics of his day. Not a bad state of affairs. The opium addiction wrecked his unhappy marriage, and alienated his friends and family, and it would eventually led to him living the last 18 years of his life in his personal physician's house. It was in his doctor's house which he died in 1834, as a result of heart failure. But, for making those great verses (like one of my favourites "as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean." which describes most of my life), and for being one hell of a critic, and adding beautiful verses to an otherwise shitty world, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (October 21st, 1772- July 25th, 1834, at the age of 61), you are my hero of the day.

Monday, October 19, 2009

I is someone else

The young, bright eyed fellow above is one Arthur Rimbaud born this day 1854, in Charleville, France. At about the age of six young Rimbaud's father decided he had had enough of domestic life, and since he was in the army, he got posted overseas, and just never came back. In spite of these domestic woes, Rimbaud was to turn out to be a brilliant student, and a quick learner. In fact, he became that guy that we mere intellectual mortals love to hate. He became a highly successful student, and was head of his class in all subjects except science and maths. As he advanced in classes, his mother hired him a tutor in the hopes of having her very own genius in the family. It is to this tutor, one Georges Izambard, that we owe a huge debt of gratitude. For it was M. Izambard that encouraged young Rimbaud to write original verses in French. The first poem that Rimbaud showed Izambard was entitled Ophelie is usually included in books as one of Rimbaud's three or four best poems. Talk about getting it right the first time. Why can't I get my crap together like that? Guess a lack of talent is to blame. Eventually, M. Izambard moved on to bigger and better things, and the young Rimbaud was distraught, running away to Paris after Izambard. We all know the rest, and if you don't know the rest I recommend a wonderful biography of Rimbaud by some fellow last name of Robb. W know of his affair with the married poet Verlaine, and of him giving up writing at the tender age of 21, for reasons that I can not fathom. Off to travel the world, run some guns, coffee, and slaves in Africa but dead at 34 of cancer. A life well lived in many respects, and a life of tragedy in others. However, for verses like the one I attach below (one of my favourites of his), and for living that live to its fullest, Arthur Rimbaud (October 20th-1854- November 10th 1891, at the age of 37), you are my hero of the day.


Vowels

A black, E white, I red, U green, O blue: vowels,
I'll tell, one day, your secret origins:
A, black hairy corset of dazzling flies
That buzz around cruel stinks,

Shadow gulfs; E, ingenuousness of steams and tents,
Proud glacier spears, white kings, shivers of umbels;
I, purples, spat blood, laugh of beautiful lips
In anger or penitent exhilarations;

U, cycles, divine vibrations of viridian seas,
Peace of pastures seeded with animals, peace of wrinkles
That alchemy prints on great studious brows;

O, supreme Bugle full of strange shrillnesses,
Silences crossed by Worlds and Angels:
— O the Omega, violet ray of These Eyes!

Disco

The curly haired fellow is one Disco Stu, and today is not really his birthday, but since I could not find a "true" birthday hero today, I decided to go with Disco Stu. Mainly because today in 1959 the first discotheque open. It was called the Scotch-Club, and it opened in Aachen, Germany. It appears that it was quite the accident that disco was "invented" at this place in time. The regular band was unable to play, so a record player had to be used, and the fellow in charge of the records when a little free style on the world, and disco was "born." We all know the crazy that followed, and most of have, whether we admit it, or not, seen Saturday Night Fever, and sung Staying Alive at the top of our voices at some time in our lives. Thus, we have Disco Stu the epitome of disco on the Simpson's. The big hair, the flash jacket, and at one time the platform shoes with goldfish in the heels. All of these make Disco Stu too cool for words. Of course, Stu is aware that disco is dead, and doesn't really like disco music, but he continues to be Disco Stu because that is what he does. And as an aside that is, in my opinion, the tragedy of this piece. The number of times I have been asked "what do you do?" The stock answer is to fill in the blank with my "title." Thus pigeon holing me into whatever stereo type that person has about my title. Too much TV will give people the wrong idea about my job, and it is very sad that at times I have to answer the "did you win?" question. In my world at least, my job is not about winning and losing, just like my job isn't what I am, or what I do. I am, in many respects much more, and much less than my job title, and it is for you to figure out which is which. I refuse to be "what I do." Maybe I am nothing, maybe I am something different, but I am not Disco Stu just for the sake of being Disco Stu. However, for all those rhinestone jackets, and for trying to save a dead genre from the scrap heap of history, Disco Stu (October 19th 1959?-present), you are my hero of the day.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

We all need a Plan

The scrawny fellow above is one Heinrich von Kleist born this day 1777, in Frankfurt an der Oder, Germany. Don't feel too bad for the poor education that he received as a child, after all, the "von" in his name means he wasn't born into a poor family. Sometimes money is better than brains. He joined the Prussian army, from which he eventually retired in 1799 with the rank of lieutenant, after the army, he did what all shiftless, young men do, he went to university to study law, and philosophy. After a few years knocking about France, and Switzerland, he was arrested in 1807 as a French spy. That little side line got him six months in jail under close guard. Before all of this foolishness, he had penned a letter to his sister saying that "incomprehensible how a human being can live without a plan for his life." If only we all had a plan things might just work out better for us all in the long run. Then again, as you will soon see, maybe having a plan is not the answer after all. In his brief life von Kleist was considered one of the most important of the North German Romantics, and his writings have been consider masterful narratives. However, the plan went horribly wrong on November 18th- 1811, when von Kleist shot his "girlfriend" Henritta Vogel, then himself by the banks of Wannsee River. Seems that having a plan sometimes ends up in the same shit as the rest of us. However, for writing some lovely prose (good enough to get a literary award named for him), and for following his plan to the bitter end, Heinrich von Kleist, October 18th, 1777- November 18th 1811, at the age of 34), you are my hero of the day.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Monty

The brooding fellow above is one Montgomery Clift born this day 1920, in Omaha, Nebraska. Another star of the silver screen makes it to hero status, and I still am not sure how I feel about this. I really don't watch that much TV, so I don't know how I keep finding actors as heroes. His mother, in some fit of great parenting, decided to home school Montgomery and his siblings raising them as if they were old world aristocrats. Moving on past this attempt at a classical education, Montgomery debuted on Broadway at the age of 13. He starred there for 10 years, before moving to Hollywood, and making his big screen debut in Red River opposite John Fucking Wayne. Apparently, Clift and Wayne did not get along. Clift was, at the least, bisexual, and was having an affair on the set with a fellow (male) actor. This did not set well with the Duke, and a few years later, Clift turned down a role in Rio Bravo because he did not want to work with Wayne again. Old time Hollywood trivia seems to hold a serious fascination for me, and I thought I would share that tid bit with you. After Red River, Clift went on to garner 3 Academy Award nominations for Best Actor in a Leading Role in a five year period. Not bad for a boy from fucking Omaha, Nebraska. Sadly though Clift's life was about to take a major turn for the worse. On May 12, 1956 he crashed his car into a telephone pole, and suffered severe facial injuries. For a man who's living was, in many respects, made on his looks this was a disaster. The pain from the accident led to Clift relying on alcohol and pills, and he embarked on what was called "the longest suicide in Hollywood history." By the time he did The Misfits (1961) with Marylin Monroe, and Clark Gable, that a doctor was on call twenty-four hours a day to take care of him and Monroe. A sad decline for a true artistic genius, and one that was extremely (by all accounts) horrible to watch. He last nomination for an Oscar came in 1962's Judgment at Nurmberg, he was a wreck that could hardly remember his lines, but those few that he did remember must have impressed someone, you don't generally get nominated for Oscars if you are total shit. In July, 1966 Clift was at home with his personal assistant who asked him if he wanted to watch The Misfits that was on TV that night, Clift replied "ABSOLUTELY NOT!" Those would be the last words he ever spoke in the drama that was his life. He was found dead the next day of a heart attack. But, for all those brooding, darkly sensitive roles that made people think of him as a star of stars, Montgomery Clift (October 17th, 1920-July 12th, 1966 at the age of 45), you are my hero of the day.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Earnest

The pipe smoking fellow above is one Oscar Wilde born this day 1854, in Dublin, Ireland. (A little trivia the picture above is referred to by Dubliners as the "fag on the crag"). He is probably best known for his "Picture of Dorian Grey", or his "Importance of being Earnest." Both of which even I managed to read/attend, both great works of an extremely talented mind. His gift was recognized fairly early on, and he attended Oxford from 1874 till 1878. It was at Oxford that he became enamoured of the aesthetics movement, from which he would derive a lot of his later works, and were he came up with the "slogan" of "art for art's sake." He married in 1884, and even managed to father two children. Even men of his particular "tastes" can father children. Wilde was well known to like boys, pretty boys were liked even more. His most famous boy toy was Lord Alfred Douglas, and was the one that caused him the most trouble. Why is that all the pretty ones have to be so dumb? Lord Douglas' father was none other than the Marquis of Queensberry, and for any who knows anything about boxing they know the Marquis. He was not the sort of man who would let anyone "corrupt" his son. Nasty words and notes were exchanged (one accusing Wilde of being a posing sodomite), and the trial of the century concerning Mr. Wilde's sexuality was set in motion. The trial was ostensibly about the Marquis' libel against Wilde, but that whole truth is a defense thing came into place, and Wilde was forced to drop his case when the defence threatened to bring boy prostitutes to the stand to testify against Wilde. Eventually, Wilde himself was served a warrant charging him with gross indecency, and eventually convicted and sentenced to two years hard labour. The trial, and the sentence broke him, after his release he left England for the continent where he remained, fighting a battle against his wallpaper, until his death. But, regardless of his taste for pretty boys, and all the peacock feathered clothing he preferred, and more so for his wit, and taste, and pure writing talent, Oscar Wilde (October 16th, 1854- November 30th, 1900, at the age of 46), you are my hero of the day.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Mr. Fry



The elegant fellow on the right in the picture above, is one Varian Fry, born this day 1907 in New York City, New York. Mr. Fry's major claim to fame is as the American Schindler. In 1935, while assigned to Berlin as a journalist, Mr. Fry got to see Nazi brutality against Jews up close and personally. Moving to the south of France after the Nazi occupation of France in 1940, Fry set up the Emergency Rescue Committee. Its purpose was to help people who needed to flee the Nazis. Working out of a villa outside of Marseille, Fry and his co-workers helped nearly 2,200 people flee the terror of Nazism that was spreading like wildfire across Europe. Some of the famous people that Fry helped escape were Hannah Ardent, Andre Breton, Max Ernst, and Marcel Duchamp, amongst others. He was rewarded by the government of France in 1967, when it granted him the Legion of Honor. He was also the first American citizen to be named "Righteous Among the Nations," at the Holocaust Memorial of Israel. I am not sure what that exactly means, but it sounds cool as shit, and pretty exclusive. If you ever done any reading about World War II Europe, and the beginnings of the Nazi reign of terror, you can appreciate what Mr. Fry did, and the risks he took in order to do it. So for saving all those lives that needed saving, at a time when the world was going mad, Varian Fry (October 15, 1907-September 13th-1967, at the age of 59), you are my hero of the day.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wednesdays Suck

A little light on the hero front today, and this one is probably going to be one of the shortest posts of the series. The above is a replica of the Jules Rimet Trophy, the trophy that was originally given to the winner of the World Cup, and if you have to ask the World Cup of what, then perhaps you should just stop reading now. Named in honour of Jules Rimet, born this day 1873 in Theuley, France. His major claim to fame that while as president of FIFA, he "created" the world cup. The first one of which was won by Uruguay in 1930. The picture above is the picture of a replica because the original trophy was stolen (more than once) in 1983, and was never recovered. Brazil, by virtue of winner the World Cup three times, have been granted the right to the trophy in perpetuity, so today the winner gets another trophy, but the idea is the same. The three time winner keeping the trophy was M. Rimet's idea, and I guess since he founded the damn competition he should have some say so in where the trophy bearing his name is kept. M. Rimet is a timely hero, because today is the last round of qualifying (in Europe at least) for the competition that he started which will be held in South Africa in 2010. He is also, a simple post to write, which is important because I have discovered that Wednesdays suck. My job is mostly mindless, which is a sad thing to say, but true. However, on Wednesdays I do the most mind numbing of the various tasks that make up my job, and it drains me of the few creative thoughts that I can manage to string together. It is a sad indication of my inability to rise about this mind numbing task, and write something worthwhile, but I never said I was your mountain. M. Rimet, by virtue of serving for 33 years, remains the longest serving president of FIFA, and for that, and creating a competition that makes the entire world stop, and take notice, Jules Rimet (October 14th 1873- October 16th 1956 at the age of 83), you are my hero of the day.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Z

The handsome fellow above is one Yves Montand born this day 1921, in Monsummano Terme, Italy to a family of poor peasants. It seems they still had peasants even in 1921, though I would argue that my parents could still be considered peasants even today. He moved to France at the age of two, and grew up in Marseille. He worked on the docks of Marseille for a while, and became a dance hall singer, where he was "discovered" by Edith Piaf (after moving to Paris). She became his mentor, and his lover. How lucky is this bastard? Edith fucking Piaf pulls you out of the slums of Paris, and start giving you the good stuff too? Clearly M. Montand was born under a lucky star. He managed to have two marriages in his life, one lasting 34 years, but still found the time for various affairs including one with Marylin Monroe. Did I mention he must have been born under a lucky star? He was once quoted as saying "I think a man can have two, maybe three affairs, while he is married. But three is the absolute maximum. After that, you're cheating." Now that is a Frenchman through, and through I do not care where he was born. Part of his hero status for me is that his voice was the model for Pepe Le Pew, the amorous skunk of Looney Tune fame. Though if you ever see his performances in Z (1969), The Wages of Fear (1953), and The War is Finished (1966), you will see a master craftsman at work. I highly recommend all of the above films as required viewing. One of the sadder incidents of his life occurred after his death when a woman accused him of being the father of her daughter, and sued him to obtain a DNA sample. He refused, but that woman persisted after his death. She obtained a court ruling, then his body was exhumed. On 11 March 1998, a paternity test showed that he wasn't the girl's father. Some way to treat a famous star! He died of a heart attack while still in harness on the film of his last movie in 1991, that is dedication to one's art. So, for making all those obscure French films that I still love to cozy up to today, and being one lucky bastard to boot, Yves Montand (October 13th-1921- November 9th, 1991 at the age of 70), you are my hero of the day.

Painless

We all knew that G wasn't the happiest person in the world. G was a pretty funny person, but not a happy one, if you can understand the difference in that dichotomy then maybe you can understand why G committed suicide last night. Maybe humour was the mask G had to don to be able to cope with the day to day bullshit that we all have to face every time we stagger out of bed in the morning. Of course, G did more than commit suicide. G committed "friendship murder." Dead is the "us" our relationship, our friendship, our good times together, all dead now, and not just G and me, but G and everyone in the circle of friends G possessed. All of us lost more than just G. We lost a part of G, and a part of each other. In some ways G was the glue that held some of our relationships together. There are people that I only knew through G, and who I will probably lose touch with now that the glue is gone. Maybe that is for the best, maybe those people and I were not meant to be friends outside of G's presence, but it still seems a bit of a loss. I won't go into the details of G's suicide scene, I was lucky enough not to see it in person, though I did get the details from the person who found G. It must have been quite a shock for them, and they are certainly not at work today. In fact, they might not be at work for quite a while. I did inquire as to whether or not G had left a suicide note explaining their actions, and my friend replied "did you really thing G would leave a fucking note?" That person is right, G is (is? I guess I have to type "was") not the type of person to leave some pithy suicide note explaining their actions. Nor would G leave some hate filled note telling the world to go fuck itself, though I suspect that the latter would have been more likely than the former. However, there is no note, no rhyme, or reason for G's actions other than the ones that remain hidden by G. The only thing the circle of friends that G leaves behind can do is sit, and wonder if maybe we missed something important that G was trying to tell us. Was that joke about being fat, but not jolly really a joke? Or was G trying to say "Help me! I hate my body image so much that I want to put an end to my life?" One never really knew if G was serious or not, and G knew that going so far as to say "take me seriously very rarely, but if I say I am serious I mean it." I guess we (the survivors) did not really get that message, and failed G in the most fundamental of ways. We all have our own lives, with our own problems, and our own hopes, dreams, wishes, desires, successes, and failures, but perhaps we should stop, take a deep breathe, and step out (as far as we are able to) our lives that are so boring, and look at our friends for signs of crisis. Hard to do, almost impossible to do, and even if we manage it there is no guarantee we will succeed, but even if there is a 1 percent chance we will succeed it has to be worth the effort. Validate your friends more often, you never know when you might be standing somewhere in the pissing down rain looking down at their mortal remains in some box, being lowered in some fucking hole, and wondering if just maybe you could have prevented it. The only truism that I can manage to wrap my mind around today is very simple, and very, very, fucking painful. It is that G is dead, and I am going to miss them a whole fucking lot.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Breaking New Ground


The well heeled gentleman above is an artist's rendition of one Mycroft Holmes, and by royal (i.e. my) decree today is his birthday. He was "born" in 1847 being by seven years his brother Sherlock's senior. Of course, he is a fictional character, and he really has never been born (perhaps created is a better word), and I doubt he was created on this day by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. This is my expansion of the hero status into the realm of fictional characters. I doubt that Mycroft will be the last fictional character to make it to hero status, in fact, his brother Sherlock is going to be one in January. I never said that my hero or heroine had to be a living breathing or now deceased human being (hint, hint), and Mycroft is a fabulous character in his own right, and possesses deductive powers even greater than his younger brother. However, Mycroft suffers from an affliction that I also am a victim of, that is terminal laziness. To quote his brother, Mycroft "...has no ambition and no energy. He will not even go out of his way to verify his own solutions, and would rather be considered wrong than take the trouble to prove himself right. Again and again I have taken a problem to him, and have received an explanation which has afterwards proved to be the correct one. And yet he was absolutely incapable of working out the practical points..." I can appreciate Mycroft's position, although I lack the skills that would put Sherlock to shame, generally I can not be arsed to bother with all the actual work. Mycroft spends most of his time at the Diogenes club, which he co-founded, just hanging out, being indolent, and serving as a sort of computer for the British government. He only appeared in four of the Sherlock Holmes stories, but he made quite an impression on me, and so, for being just that damn smart, and that damn lazy, but still being "the most indispensable man in the country." Mycroft Holmes (October 12th, 1847 (by my own invention),- present), you are my hero of the day.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

57 Varieties and then some

The mutton chopped fellow above is one Henry J. Heinz born this day 1844, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to German immigrant parents. It seems Henry was a green thumbed type of child, and even had his own little garden at an early age. By the age of nine he was growing, grinding, bottling, and selling his own brand of horseradish sauce. By the age of 10 he had three quarters of an acre of land, and was using a wheelbarrow to deliver vegetables to local grocery stores. By the age of 17 he was making $2,400 a year which is a shit ton of money in 1861. After graduating business school, and having one failed business venture, he started his second company in 1875 with his brother, and a cousin. One of the company's first products was tomato ketchup, and a star was born. In 1888, Heinz bought out his partners, and renamed the company the H.J. Heinz company, and continued to grow. The famous "57" varieties slogan was fairly random, he stole it off a slogan off of a advert from a shoe store on the subway. Even when he "borrowed" the idea his company was making much more than 57 varieties of product. My favourite remains ketchup, I put it on all kinds of potatoes, even ones that "normal" people would not dream of using ketchup upon. At least I mange to keep it out of scrambled eggs, and pasta, unlike some people in the world. He incorporated the company in 1905, and was the president of it until his death. Under his presidency the company was known for pioneering sanitary food practices, and the fair treatment of workers. These were not the kind of times when workers of the world were treated particularly fairly. Of course, any Steelers fan will tell you their fine football field is named after him, and the company remains booming until this day. So, for making a damn fine ketchup which I have smothered untold numbers of fries under, and for treating his working with a modicum of human kindness, Henry J. Heinz (October 11th, 1844- May 14th, 1919, at the age of 74), you are my hero of the day.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Rotten in Denmark


The picture of above is of the goal that sends my team Sweden OUT of the running for the World Cup in 2010. It was struck off the boot of Jackob Poulsen, may he burn in ever lasting hell, and is his first goal for his national side Denmark. Now, losing is bad, losing when the goalkeeper above Andres Isaksson should have done better is worse, but losing and by extension giving Portugal a place in the play offs for the finals is more than I can bear. I just came back from the grocery store where I refused to buy any Danish cheese, or Danish beer, they are on an embargo list for some length of time. Also, the Portugal are a nation of diving cunts led by the biggest diving cunt of all Christano Ronaldo. Luckily there are no Portuguese products that I even remotely like. I have been to Portugal, and now I feel ashamed of that trip in more ways than one. Having my team fail again, and again is getting really, really fucking old. I am quiet sure this game will sound the death knell for the national coach Lars Lagerback, and it should. His time has passed, and Sweden need to go in a new direction. It was also probably the swan song for my hero Henrik Larsson, who at 38 not be making the next World Cup in 2014. So I suppose I will have to go eat my English cheese, and drink my Belgian beer, and see if I can find a Dane, or a Portuguese to punch in the mouth. Of course, I would not even have to hit the Portuguese to make them fall on the ground and writhe in pain like they had been poleaxed. It also appears that at least one "loyal" reader seems to think that my blog has "jumped the shark." Probably not the best day to express that view to me, but hey they are entitled to their opinion. It isn't that I can't take criticism, I can take it and dish it out with professional aplomb, it is just that this opinion is ill timed. I am of the opinion that people should at least try to avoid giving just simple "you suck" opinions, after all I am doing my best, and writing a blog post a day is not as effortless as I make it appear. I welcome criticism, advice, and suggestions, but expect a bit of anger when I feel that the criticism is unwarranted. I will offer my own piece of advice with no malice of forethought, it is simple if you don't like what you read here, then I suggest you find the little "x" button in the top right hand corner of your browser, click it, and go read a book written by a real author. bon chance!

Odds and Ends

I guess I am feeling particularly productive today, since this will be the second post in less than three hours. My hero search takes up a lot of my time, and uses most of my (very limited) creative talent, but there a few thoughts or half thoughts that roam around in my head. I usually forget these before I can stagger to my computer, and write them out. I suppose I need to get a pencil and a notepad to carry around with me so I can scribble down these ideas as they come to me, but then I do take the risk that I look like some raving lunatic (more so than I already do), writing stuff down furiously in some situation that does not warrant it. The first odd and end that I wanted to post about is that, one of my two, therapists is out of town, and I really needed to see the bastard. Dr. Kronenbourg has left the building(s), and I am morose beyond words. My other therapist, Dr. Duvel, is just too pricey for more than brief visits. Oh well, I guess I will survive until he returns, three days of panic are enough I suppose, and I suspect that I might be one of the main reasons for the good doctor's brief absence. Onward and upward as they say. My second odd and/or end is that I really, really, really, HATE flip flops. I do not have the vocabulary to express myself HATRED of flip flops enough. They cause me to cringe, and threaten violence to people when I hear the slap, slap, slap of someone walking with them on. They should be outlawed, and people who wear them should be put into reeducation camps. Trust me I don't like them. I think that if Einstein wore flip flops, no one would have taken him seriously. In my opinion wearing them automatically deducts five to ten points off of any one's IQ. No matter what that person is saying, I take them less seriously if they are wearing flip flops. Thirdly, I think I may be a traitor to my upbringing. I just placed two bets on college football (a sport that is taken as serious as religion where I come from), and I have badly missed them both. It seems that I threw over college football for the beautiful game, we uneducated call soccer. Therefore, as a "make up bet" I then placed a soccer bet that I have MUCH more confidence in getting correct. A sad state of affairs when a fellow raised here in the trailer park in the middle of the bible belt has more faith in the outcome of a soccer game between Sweden and Denmark as opposed to the outcome of a football game between Georgia and Tennessee. My father, god rot him, would probably disown me if he found out, which might be a good reason to phone him up, and shout at him (he is deaf as a post) all the details of his offspring's betrayal. Finally, and I know that no one wants to read about this, but oh well tough shit. I am either at the end of a three day drunk, or three quarters of the way through a four day drunk, I haven't decided tonight plans yet, so it is still up in the air. Either way it seems my kidneys have checked out, and are mailing it in. I am pissing like a rushing racehorse every (at least it seems like it to me) five minutes. I piss, piss, and piss again. I feel like I have been turned into a big walking bag of urine. I could not even gt through this post without having to stagger to the toilet, and take a extremely refreshing whizz. Certainly that is too much information for you dear readers, and a terrible way to end a blog post, but I figure that I will have to dash to the john here in about 2 seconds, and I need to have the computer out of the way just in case.

Water Water Everywhere

The well drawn fellow above is one Henry Cavendish, born this day 1731 in Nice, France. Henry was by, all accounts a fantastic scientist, and one odd duck. I know a few scientists, and I am not sure if one being a scientist means you are an odd duck, or if just odd ducks are drawn to science. Henry's major claim to fame is his "discovery" of hydrogen. He was the first to show that water is a compound, and that air is a mixture, before that both were considered elements. Thales would have be appalled. However, ponder those two seemingly simple ideas. Ideas that today we find obvious, and take for granted. These were ground breaking ideas, and Henry should be praised to the skies for them. These were the works that led him to the "discovery" of hydrogen which he called inflammable air. It was not until nearly a decade later that the French scientist Antonie Lavoisier named Cavendish's inflammable air hydrogen. Cavendish was morbidly shy of strangers and women, he communicated with his female servants by writing notes, very rarely speaking to them. When he actually was forced to speak, he mostly mumbled his replies. He was a tall, thin, man with a squeaky voice, and one man who knew him said that "he probably uttered fewer words in the course of his life than any man who lived to fourscore years." Modern thinkers have opined that perhaps he suffered from Asperger Syndrome, but I have never been a fan of going back in time, and giving men or women "modern" diseases merely based on what other people wrote or said about them. Anyone that has been misdiagnosed by a doctor with a full medical history in front of them will understand my viewpoint. One of his best known experiments was his attempt to determine the density of the Earth. He called it "weighing the world." Not sure about all the science of it, and you can puzzle over it yourself at any number of websites written by guys with a least a passing understanding of the science. I take the layman's view that whatever the damn fool was trying to do, weighing the world, must be a pretty tough task. It is not like you can kindly ask the Earth to step its fat ass onto the office scale (which is what happens to me when I go to the doctor). Either way he came remarkably close to actual number, and the experiment itself has been called the "Cavendish Experiment." Now, knowing the science community like I do, I can say that if you get your name added to any sort of law, experiment, or constant, you have achieved hero status. Of course, being an anti-social bastard did have it down side in Cavendish's life I suppose. He did not publish many of his findings, and it was not until nearly a century later, when James Clerk Maxwell, a fairly good scientist in his own right, obtained his papers, and realized that Cavendish had discovered many things that other scientists were credited with. But, for being an odd duck in a group of odd ducks, and weighing the world in a shed outside of his house, and for being an overall genius in a world full of fools, Henry Cavendish (October 10th, 1731- February 24th, 1810 at the age of 79), you are my hero of the day.

Friday, October 09, 2009

A Plea or a Challenge

Quite simply dear readers, I am stumped not just for today, but at least for the next three days or so. The landscape is looking pretty hero less, and I am getting tired of trying to shoe horn people into hero status that just simply don't fit the mold. Alfred Dreyfuss came the closest today, but his well known tale contains a hero other than Dreyfuss, and being in a story that contains a hero doesn't make you a hero. So all this beating around the bush is my long winded way of saying we are facing a hero less day, and we may have a hero drought on the horizon. In the hopes that perhaps I am setting standards that are too high, I have a plea and/or a challenge for you my dear readers. Here is your big chance to make me do some real work. The challenge is simple, find me a hero, pick someone (hopefully other than yourself), and give me the name, the reason for hero status, and I will do my best to write it into some sort of readable blog post. Try to be serious about it, and don't nominate your dog or your brother in law because they can both do the same trick with a Frisbee. I am an open minded fellow, and I will appreciate the challenge. Remember this is a daily task, and that it has to be your nominee's actual birthday on the day I write the post. Those are the rules, and we don't change them just because we are experiencing a shortage of heroes. Hopefully I will get some good and challenging suggestions, and we will be able to resume normal service shortly. Remember though, I am a bastard, and remember those aforementioned high standards. Don't expect miracles from me (though why anyone would even consider anything close to a miracle from me is beyond me), and try to make it someone who is worth my while, and someone who other people might consider a hero. So, until tomorrow when I am sure to be swamped by suggestions, and will have to make all those tough choices, there is no hero of the day.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

King Bird

The smug looking fellow above is one Ahmet Zogu, later King Zog I of Albania, born this day 1895 in Castle Burgajet, Albania. He was educated in Istanbul which was at the time the heart of the Ottoman Empire that controlled Albania. During World War I, he volunteered on the side of Austria-Hungarian Empire, and spent some time in Vienna where he was apparently a big hit with the ladies. Returning to Albania after the war, he became involved in the politics of his newly created nation. Holding various governmental jobs, he eventually became president of Albania in 1925. Sometime in 1922 he changed his named to Zogu which means "bird" in Albanian. Once he became president he invoked some serious crackdowns on opposition, censoring the press, and taking dissidents for long walks in the woods from which they did not return. He was proclaimed king of Albania on September 1st, 1928, taking the name King Zog I. During his reign he was alleged to have survived over 55 attempts on his life, even once shooting back at an assailant with the gun that he always carried on him. This occasion is the only time in modern history that a Head of State has exchanged gunfire with potential assassins. How cool is that? Imagine the surprise of the potential assassin. Here you are got it all planned out to smoke some governmental slob, and the bastard has the gall to shoot back at you. This is not in the assassin's guidebook. The Great Depression exacted a heavy toll on Albania, and it became extremely dependent on Italy. So much so that the national bank of Albania was located in Rome. Italy duly invaded Albania at the beginning of World War II, and Zog was forced into exile from which he would not return. Of course if your army is so shitty that you can't whip the Italians you probably deserve to be run out of the damn country. After trying exile in England, the United States, and Egypt, Zog eventually settled in the south of France (hard choice there). He had the quirk of hoarding gold, and precious stones, while in exile in England, a porter at the Ritz hotel was surprised at the weight of Zog's luggage, and asked if anything valuable was inside, Zog replied "Yes, gold." Good stuff lugging around a suitcase full of gold to ease your life in exile. But before all that exile stuff got in the way, for helping Albania take the first steps on the path to being a nation (and as an aside many moons ago I spoke to an actual Albanian, and she was a fan of King Zog, don't ask the details), King Zog I (October 8th, 1895-April 9th, 1961, at the age of 65), you are my hero of the day.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Deadlines and Commiments

Jesus H. Christ here it is ten minutes before midnight, and I have yet to post my hero of the day. Horrible! I should be, and am quite ashamed of myself. Truth is there is no hero of this rather dull, boring October day. No one who helped advance the cure for cancer, no one who discovered uncharted lands, or led some random sports team to some random title in some random year. Truth of it is dear readers, is that your faithful blogger is drunk, gloriously drunk, but still in the mood to post. Still realizing as I was drinking the night away that I had to come home, log on to my computer, and post SOMETHING. That is my task, my duty, my burden that I have set myself. There are doubters you know, people who think, and have said out loud "oh I knew you were doing that hero of the day stuff, but I did not think you would stick to it." Well here I am some 4o plus days into this project, and I have not failed yet. Which, to anyone that knows me, is a rather large achievement in and of itself. The paterfamilias would tell you, if you bothered to ask, that my entire life has been one big, fat, fucking, failure, and that I disappoint him on a daily basis. Luckily for me, he is near the after life, and does not spend too much time perusing blogs everyday. It seems I have screwed my courage up to the sticking point, and managed to pose either a silly little blurb about some random person I consider a hero, or at least a post about why there is not a hero of the day. Of course, all of this is made harder by the fact that a) I am currently drunk, since I have been drinking for the last seven hours straight, and b) am under the pressure of a deadline that happens in less than 15 minuets, and c) have to come up with some "clever" idea that is at least worth giving a quick read to. This is almost more than I can accomplish since, after all, I have very little talent in the creative sense. Truth of the matter is that I have, in some respects, spent the last twenty four hours attempting to come up with an idea for this post. The searching through the list of people's birthday's, the sad discovery that no one met the criteria of hero status, the idea that instead of a hero I needed to post something explaining my lack of a hero, the drinking the afternoon and night away, all the while knowing that I HAD to come home, and write something that made at least a little bit of sense have constituted my thought process all day. Even while I am performing my day to day tasks that I do everyday just to make a living. I have been, in the back of my smallish mind, been thinking of this blog post, and what I could write to make it worth reading. Of course, the alcohol has probably made it a lot harder to read (it has certainly made it a LOT harder to type), but still the show must go on as they say. So here is the show going on in the middle of what I hope to be a three day drunk, I am still finding the time to post something that I really hope is worth reading. Certainly the possibility exists that tomorrow will find me sober, hung over, and with a massive headache reading back over this post, and cringing with horror. But, for now this is as good as it gets dear reader(s), and so with a deadline looming, and a lot of actual work awaiting me in the morning, I must with regret inform you that today there is no hero of the day.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Open Wide



An unlikely hero today, and one that I wasn't aware of until I was doing my daily "research" into granting some lucky slob hero status. As I was doing that research, and finding it increasingly likely that we would be hero-less again today, I stumbled upon the smiling lady above, one Alice Timander born this day 1915, in Stockholm, Sweden. Stick with me on this one dear readers, because Mrs. Timander is not your average leap tall buildings in a single bound type of hero. Her first claim to fame came as a dentist.That is right a fucking dentist has become a hero of the day, and since I have just recently had dental work done I figured the dental world needed a hero. Of course, she was not your average open up and get ready to be butchered type of dentist (I have seen those kind before). Mrs. Timander became in 1937, at the tender age of 21, the youngest female dentist in Sweden. Not a bad achievement. At the age of 21, I was pissing my youth away by bagging groceries for a "living." In 1949, she scandalized the Dental world by appearing publicly in a bikini. Why can't I get a dentist that looks like that, and is willing to piss of the world by appearing half naked in public? Her response to all the uproar was classic, she appeared in public in an even skimpier bikini. My kind of woman! I searched in vain on the Internet for a the picture of Mrs. Timander in her homemade bikini, but typing in Swedish and bikini led me to a lot of websites best not viewed at work. Terrible stuff that has no place being on the web, just like society to clog up the web with pictures of half naked blond girls. Interfering with my vital, intellectual research with all that eye candy. A fucking disgrace I tell you. She somehow translated her dental fame into becoming known as the Swedish red carpet queen, appearing at movie premiers for decades. She even got involved in politics becoming an advocate of free dental care, and joining political party to try to get the idea passed. However, she later resigned from that party because she believed they were only using her for her fame. That I can appreciate as well, telling a political party (a bunch of users) to fuck off for using her. So, for having the balls (so to speak) to be the first women in Sweden to appear in a bikini, thus paving the way for the famous Swedish bikini team, and for being an advocate of free dental care for the underprivileged, Alice Timander (October 6th, 1915- July 3rd, 2007 of a brain tumor at the age of 91) you are my heroine of the day.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Three Blind Mice


























Unlike yesterday, which was hero-less today is awash in them, so I decided to break new ground and crown multiple heroes, mainly because I could not pick between the three. The first is the quill holding fellow to the left, one Denis Diderot born this day 1713, in Langres, France, and we shall tackle him first since he would be the oldest of the group. He is the highbrow pick of the three, and the one that makes me look half way intelligent by picking him. M. Diderot was first going to study law after obtaining a master of arts degree in philosophy (seriously what else could he do, after all McDonald's had not been invented yet). The attempt to study law did not go well, and he threw it over to become a writer. Much like I would love to do if I just had one tenth of his talent, and wasn't glued to ESPN 20 hours a week. His refusal to grow up, and enter a "learned" profession got him disowned by his father, and for the next decade M. Diderot lived the bohemian life style of a writer in Paris. Sounds like a rough life. Actually it was a bit of a rough life, Diderot's writings, while of a high quality, never brought in the money to keep body and soul together. He failed to obtain any position that would allow him to live a comfortable life. In fact, he had to sell his library in order to provide for his daughter's dowry. He wrote some lovely prose, but his major claim to hero status is because of his work on the Encyclopedie. A work of staggering magnitude it comprised 35 volumes, with 71,818 articles, and 3,129 illustrations. The first 28 volumes were published between 1751 and 1766. This was in the 1750's when you could not just go to Wikipedia, and thieve your information with the old "cut and paste" method. So for living parts of my dream by being the starving artist down on his luck in Paris, and providing the world with over 71,000 learned articles Denis Diderot (October 5th, 1713- July 31st, 1784 of a gastro-intestinal complaint at the age of 72), you are my (first) hero of the day.
Onward and upward as they say, though my next hero the wild haired fellow in the middle would probably be considered a step down on the intellectual ladder. He is one Louis Feinberg, a.k.a. Larry Fine, born this day 1902, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Men of a certain age will know him immediately by sight. He is Larry the middle stooge. The one between the bossiness of Moe, and the childishness of Curly. The one that, in most of their films, is reacting rather than acting. It seems Larry had some actual musical talent, and only the outbreak of World War I prevented him from being sent to Europe to train as a classical musician. In any of the Stooges films when you see them playing violins, Larry is the only one actually playing for real. I guess the fortunes of war can be a somewhat a good thing for while Europe might have been deprived of a musical genius, America was gifted a comical genius. His was the voice of reason in the Stooges, and he remains my favorite Stooge. He was also, by all accounts, a extremely generous man who would freely give his money to other actors that were down on their luck without expecting repayment. He also was a degenerate gambler betting large sums of money at the track. Got to love a man who loves the ponies. His profligate ways, and his wife's dislike of housekeeping meant that for years and years they lived in hotels. Now isn't that the life? The best appraisal of Larry was, in my opinion, by Peter Farrelly when he offered his theory of Stooge appreciation: “Growing up, first you watched Curly, then Moe, and then your eyes got to Larry. He’s the reactor, the most vulnerable. Five to fourteen, Curly; fourteen to twenty-one, Moe. Anyone out of college, if you’re not looking at Larry, you don’t have a good brain.” Well said, and it is all you need to know about why men are still drawn to watching the Stooges. I love them, and I am a comedy snob. So, for being the voice of reason when eye pokes and hammers upside the head were the norm, Larry Fine (October 5th, 1902-January 24th, 1975 at the age of 73), you are my (second) hero of the day.

Finally we come to the fellow on the right in the above photo spread. He is one Patrick Roy, born this day 1965 in Sainte-Foy, Quebec, Canada. Although the picture above is of him in a Colorado Avalanche jersey, his claim to my hero status is as the last goal keeper to lift the Stanley Cup for the Montreal Canadiens in 1993. You see the downward progression of my train of thought. A writer of undeniable talent, to a guy getting paid to be hit by a hammer in the head, to a fellow paid to keep a 6 ounce piece of frozen vulcanized rubber out of a net. M. Roy has been voted the best goaltender of all time, and his trade to Colorado has been called one of the 25 worst moves in hockey history, and Montreal has not lifted the Cup since he left. It is made worse by the fact that the year Montreal traded him, he lifted the cup with Colorado. He is the only player in NHL history to win the Conn Smythe trophy three times, and hold the record for most win (combined regular season and playoffs), with 702, and my team traded him for a bag of chips. Good stuff, and may they burn in hell for such a miserable deal. There we go from highbrow, to low brow, to no brow all in one post. So, for stopping all those nasty pucks, and helping my team lift the Cup for the 24th time, Patrick Roy (October 5th, 1965-present), you are my (third, and final) hero of the day.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Another Sad Day

Today it is pissing down rain, has been pissing down rain since I staggered out of bed at around 7 a.m. to watch first futobal, then football all day. It is now almost 4 p.m., and my fat ass has worn a lovely ass groove into the chaise lounge that I am currently lounging upon. There have been good results for my real life team, and sort of shitty results for my fantasy team(s). This is what my Sundays are reduced to, spending hours and hours sitting on my unproductive ass yelling as grown men slam into each other at speed in an attempt to get a ball over a goal line. Clearly, today is hero less which is the reason for this aside into my day to day existence. No one in my little hero list came close. The best bet was Charlton Heston, and while he possessed many qualities that might have got him into the hall of heroes on any other day, today he just had too many flaws as well. The large number of actors and actresses that have graced the pages of this little "list" of mine is quite disturbing. Of course, I guess it is my own fault for watching too much TV. I do read a lot as well, but presently the book I am reading "The Forever Street," by Frederic Morton is a bit of a clunker. Actually it is a real clunker, but I am determined to finish it. This is a personal failing of mine as well, no matter how bad a book may get, I usually finish them out of some perverse sense of duty. I guess I should learn to chuck the clunker over, and move on to the next book in the line. A there is a line, a list of books that I feel I NEED to read that, no matter how much I read, always seems to get longer. Progress on this list is relative I suppose. It seems for every one book I read, two or three books weasel their way onto the list. My wish list at Amazon.com is over 100 books long. You would think that instead of wasting my time watching this football crap, and wasting more time writing this blog crap, I would buckle down and get to work reading that list. Of course, that would involve me actually being able to buckle down and do some actual work. However, in some respects, this blog is actual work, and it has been hard work at times. Trying to shoehorn some knucklehead into hero status does at times take a lot of work. People that I know in real life, and who have nothing better to do in their free time than to slide over and read this blog have mentioned to me that you can tell a difference in some of the posts. The ones that they believe are my "real" heroes are much better written, and show some degree of original thought. I have also been made aware that sometimes it is difficult to post comments on them because of the nature of the post. In some ways that makes me very sad. For some perverse reason, I like comments. In some respects I feed off of them. I know that does sort of defeat what I have said before about writing this blog just for me, but I never claimed to be logically consistent. I do appreciate the comments, and really encourage them, and I feel that they enrich the blog . Of course there is one blog that I read in which a main reason for commenting seems to be a race to who can comment first. That is very sad, because it is a good blog in some many other ways, intelligently written, and extremely funny. But a contest to post the comment "First!" cheapen the experience (at least for me) in a major way. So, for the painfully few, but still welcome comments that I receive, YOU, my loyal reader(s), are my heroe(s) of the day. Never saw that coming did you? Ha! Neither did I till I got to writing the end of the post.

Friday, October 02, 2009

There is only one Zlatan


The hook-nosed fellow above is one Zlatan Ibrahimovic, born this day 1981 in Malmo, Sweden. Born to a Bosnian father and a Croat mother, Zlatan was raised in the none too genteel neighborhood of Rosengard. After being convinced to continue his football career instead of quitting and going to work as a dock hand in Malmo, he signed his first professional football contract with local club Malmo FF. He worked his way into the senior side in 1999, and was unsuccessfully recruited by Arsene Wenger (the manager of my football club, Arsenal), he joined Ajax in the Dutch league. Thus, a lovely goal scorer was lost to my team, and sent off to set the Dutch league alight, which he promptly did. Larger clubs came calling and Zlatan was off to Italy first with Juventus, then with Inter Milan. It was at Inter that his talent really became obvious, he showed himself quite capable of scoring outrageous goals. However, he has been known to go missing in action in big games. Not many people can ever remember seeing him set the world on fire in a Champions League game, and his scoring record for his national side, Sweden, is not as impressive as one would hope. He has boatloads of talent, and is the first person who would tell you that. He was stated that he could do with an orange what his teammate at the time, and fairly decent striker in his own right, John Carew, could do with a football. He has claimed there is only one Zlatan, and he is fantastic. Sure he is probably right, but he just takes being a prick to knew heights. He would do well to learn from his national strike partner, and also my hero, Henrik Larsson. His recent record setting transfer to Barcelona set tongues wagging about his being overvalued, with all the money, and players switching back and forth his value has been estimated to be 69 million euros. However, in 5 games with Barca he has scored 5 goals, so maybe he is just as talented as he seems to think. He is the first player in Barca history to start their career with the club with such a goal scoring record, and Barca have had some serious goal scorers in their time. So, for the occasion brilliant strike for his national side, and for having world class talent to go along with his world class ego, Zlatan Ibrahimovic (October 3rd, 1981-present), you are my hero of the day.

King of Pain


The weathered fellow above is one Gordon Sumner, a.k.a. Sting, born this day 1951 in Wallsend, England. He is the second hero on this list that I have seen in person, granted it was from the nosebleed section, but it still counts. I managed to see him and the reunited Police in New Orleans a couple of years ago, and was suitably impressed. It is his work with the Police that I am the biggest fan of. Anyone who can write some of the 3 minute pop songs he wrote, and still deliver the message he does is a hero to me. Probably his most well-known song is "Every Breathe you Take." A stalker song that for a lot of people is mistaken as a love song, but my personal favourite is "King of Pain." Quite simply as close to perfect as a song can get. Minimalistic on the music, and verses that make goosebumps appear on your arms. Anyone that can somehow work in Scylla and Charybdis into a song, is a fucking genius in my book. In fact, for years I have been in my more drunken moments been caught trying to rewrite the song as the "King of Spain." Not in a weird Al Jankovic way, but in a more serious way, I have not been particularly successful, and will not be quitting my day job anytime soon. I can not say that I agree with all of his activism, and some of the songs that come from it are, in my opinion, just a bit too preachy for my tastes, but at least he seems to honestly give a shit about the planet. For that at least I can applaud, and appreciate him, even if I will steer clear of buying the overly "active" albums he occasionally churns out. I think it speaks to his ability and talent that he has been covered by artists as diverse as Toby Keith and P. Diddy, or whatever his name is today. His one failing is that he is a Newcastle United fan, but I guess that is a bit of an accident of birth, and we no one is perfect. So, for all those times I've stood here before in the pouring rain, and for making every little thing she does be magic, Sting (October 2nd, 1951-present), you are my hero of the day.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Buttermaker


The boozed up fellow on the left above is one Walter Matthau, born this day 1920 in New York City, New York. The son of Russian-Jewish immigrants, he grew up poor, and served in the U. S. Army during World War II, were he suffered the injuries that led in part to his perpetual slouch. That slouch is famous, Matthau was a very tall fellow at 6 foot 3 inches, but that slouch made him seem like the curmudgeon that he played to perfection. He played many roles on TV, stage, and in pictures, but two in particular make him my hero. One is the messy sportswriter Oscar Madison in The Odd Couple, opposite Jack Lemmon's role as Felix Unger. Classic stuff, and a role that transcends the big screen. His other role that endears him to me is as the drunken, washed up ex baseball player Morris Buttermaker in the Bad News Bears. I have already posted about my work place's comparison to the Bad News Bears, and we even have our own (slightly less drunk) Buttermaker. It is another role for the ages, played to absolute perfection by a consummate professional. Him and I also shared a common love that of gambling. He was one quoted as saying "I always had one ear offstage, listening for the call from the bookie." He even lost an impressively large amount of money betting on spring training baseball. That is a dedicated gambler, betting on spring training baseball is almost as bad as betting on the WNBA. So, for two classic roles in two classic movies, and for acting the parts so very well, Walter Matthau (October 1st, 1920-July 1st, 2000 of cardiac arrest at the age of 79), you are my hero of the day.