Friday, April 30, 2010

The Good Soldier

The pipe smoking fellow above is (at least I think it is a picture of him) Jaroslav Hasek born this day 1883 in Prague, Austria-Hungary. He was the son of a high school math teacher, and the family's poverty forced them to move several times during his early childhood, these were not the type of moves you want to do, but the types of move you do by moonlight when the landlord is sleeping. When he was 13, his father drank himself to death, and by the age of 15 young Jaroslav was forced to drop out of school, and get a real job as a druggist. He did manage to graduate from a business school, and had several other jobs (such as dog salesman) before deciding to try to live the high life as a writer. This high life included becoming an anarchist, and getting his ass arrested on a regular basis, one arrest was for assaulting a police officer for which he spent a month in jail. He fell in love with a girl in 1907, but her parents were understandably not too thrilled with their daughter's choice in men, and opposed the match. This led him to trying to straighten up and fly right, or at least right enough to get the girl, and they were married in 1910. It did not prove to be a happy marriage, and ended (badly) in 1913, after Hasek was caught trying to fake his own death. However these years, were productive he wrote and wrote short stories, and even managed his to finish most of his masterpiece "The Good Soldier Svejk." It is that work (which I confess I have yet to read, but it is on the "list") that gets him onto the hero podium. It is, by all accounts, a brilliant look at World War I, from a jokers perspective, and is one of the most read books in the Czech language to this day. There is a lot of Hasek in his character, they were both well known practical jokers, and there are statutes dedicated to Hasek outside of the pubs in which he wrote a lot of his stories. Imagine that, writing a fucking novel in the beery, smoky, atmosphere of a tavern. That takes dedication at least, and probably quite a bit of concentration. So, for writing that wonderful book, and managing to keep it free from beer stains, Jaroslav Hasek (April 20th 1883-January 3rd, 1923, at the age of 39 from TB), you are my (245th) hero of the day.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

You First!

The fellow above is one Fred Zinnemann, born this day 1907, in Vienna, Austria. While he was growing up he wanted to become a musician, but eventually studied law at the University of Vienna. Finding that particular career boring (and who can blame him?), he became drawn to films eventually becoming a cameraman. After moving to the United States to study film, and doing a couple of moderately successful B movies, he got his first big break directing "The Seventh Cross" starring Spencer Tracy. Not bad for a musically inclined, lawyer type who started off as a cameraman. His career spanned six decades, and is noted for such films as "From Here to Eternity" "A Man for all Seasons," "The Search," and "High Noon." He is also noted for giving Marlon Brando his first ever role in film, and he also gave Montgomery Clift his first starring role. Those are a couple of pretty damn good discoveries. Nineteen different actors received Academy Award nominations which should tell you something about his talent as well. He won the Academy Award for directing "A Man for all Seasons," and for "From Here to Eternity." Not bad at all for somebody born in Vienna just before the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The best story I have uncovered about him goes as follows; in the late1980s, during a meeting with a young Hollywood executive, Zinnemann was surprised to find the executive didn't know who he was, despite winning two Academy Awards, and directing many of Hollywood's biggest movies. When the young executive callowly asked Zinnemann to list what he had done in his career, Zinnemann delivered an elegant comeback by reportedly answering, "Sure. You first." Lovely response, and an object lesson to any of us young, smart ass, whippersnappers out there who think old equals dumb. It does not always, and maybe we would all be better served remembering that. So, for directing all of those stars in all of those lovely films, Fred Zinnemann (April 29th, 1907-March 14th, 1997, of a heart attack at the age of 89), you are my (244th) hero of the day.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

An ILL Wind

I am sick, a sick man, so my doctor tells me. Actually that is not true. I do not like my (hippie) doctor, and I am not going to ask her opinion unless it is something life threatening. Therefore, my sickness, which has kept me off of work for two whole days, is not something that I feel will sort me out for good. However, it has made me feel like warmed over shit, and unable to talk (I am sure that would cheer up a lot of people) without sounding like I swallowed a frog. Not talking is mostly fine for me, I have been trying to work on being laconic, but for my job a certain amount of speech is required. Lack of speech is not the only downside to my present illness, I have been unable to string more than two thoughts together for the majority of two days, not that I am usually some brilliant thinker, but all I can really do is sit my lard butt on the couch, and stare at the boob tube without a thought in my head. Hopefully, tomorrow will be better. I have certainly taken enough medicines to either kill or cure a bull moose, and I can only hope that one of them will do the job. I have spent a lot of time staring at the list of possible heroes, and there were a couple, that on a healthy day, I might have turned into a hero of the day. However, they were a bit of a stretch, and would have required some effort, and thought, and that is something that I am clearly not capable of today. So, it is with regret, that I must inform you that for today, April 28th, there is no hero of the day.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Women's Rights

The lovely lady above is one Mary Wollstonecraft born this day 1759, in London, England. She was cursed with a right bastard of a father, who spent all of the family's money, and then made her turn over her inheritance, and blew through that too. He was a violent man, who beat his wife, and children on a regular basis. Not someone you would fret too much over getting a Father's day card. From those hostile beginning she lived a pretty interesting life, and I am too poor of a writer (unlike her) to put it into some pithy blog post. Her major reason for ascending to the hero(ine) of the day podium is her authorship of "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman." In it she argued that women are not naturally inferior to men, but appear so due to a lack of proper, equal education. Her idea was that men and women should be treated as rational beings (a rational woman? if only), and envisions a social order based upon reason. All well and good, and if only it were entirely possible, but in my view, men and women both are just a bit too emotional for a society based upon reason alone. Though I do have to agree with her that education is the key that generally unlocks the mind, and is critical for anyone, man or woman, to become a productive member of society. Perhaps that is why I got some much of it, education that is, the attempt to gather, and gain knowledge, either for its own sake, or for a loftier goal, is something to be encouraged. She also, to be fair, wrote "A Vindication of the Rights of Man," but I figure that has been done to death. She died performing another one of her heroic deeds, giving birth to a lovely daughter that would grow up to be Mary Shelley, and a great author in her own right. So, for living a life that is worth writing, and reading volumes about, and showing us pig men that women can be just as smart as we like to think we are, Mary Wollstonecraft (April 27th, 1759-September 10th, 1797, at the age of thirty-eight), you are my (243rd) hero(ine) of the day.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Follow the half naked chick

The stern looking fellow above is one Eugene Delacroix born this day 1798 near Paris, France. There is a nasty rumour that his father was sterile at the time of his birth, and that his real father was another hero of mine, a lovely fellow by the name of Talleyrand. This idea is supported by Talleyrand's protection of Eugene throughout his painting career. He also, according to people in the know, looked an awful lot like Talleyrand. He went on to paint a lot of pretty pictures, but perhaps the most famous one is "Liberty leading the People." A stirring portrait of Liberty (with one breast exposed) leading the people during the 1830 revolution in France. He was, at the beginning of his career, a firmly Romantic painter, by the end of it he was heading towards being a leading precursor of the Impressionists. Another hero of mine, Charles Baudelaire, called him "a poet in painting," and was a big fan. If it is good enough for Baudelaire, it is good enough for me. So, for painting such expressive pictures that inspired a generation of artists, and are still being sold for a pretty penny today, Eugene Delacroix (April 26th, 1798-August 13th, 1863, at the age of 65), you are my (242nd) hero of the day.

Sunday, April 25, 2010


The scrawny fellow above is one Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey Fallodon, born this day 1862 in London, England. Our boy above shares his birthday with another shallow chested Englishman of our present time who is the limey bastard that got me into blogging, and while he probably not longer read this blog, I thought I would give him a honourable mention in this post. After a typical English schoolboy education, he went to Oxford to read Greats. He was apparently a very idle student, and used his idle time to become a champion in tennis. At the age of 20, his grandfather died, and he became Sir Edward Grey inheriting a 2,000 acre estate, and a private income. Just what an idler needs a private income. After eventually graduating from Oxford, he became even more of an idler, and eventually asked a friend of his to find him serious and unpaid employment. Must be nice what a private income and a 2,000 acre estate can do for you. I prefer the non-serious, paying employment myself, but then again I am a prole. This unpaid employment eventually led to an interest in politics, and at 23 (in 1885) he became a Member of Parliament (the youngest on in Parliament at the time). It was the beginning of a long, and very successful political career that would led him to the being the Foreign Secretary in 1906. It was this post he was to hold for eleven years, and during his tenure he was to see the coming of the great war. His remark on the eve of that war is now very famous, and it is a reason he is on our hero podium of the day. He remarked that "the lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our time." It was a dark statement, and England was headed for a dark time. He would eventually become the leader of the Liberal party in Parliament until his retirement. So, for steering England through some dark time, Sir Edward Grey (April 25th, 1862-September 7th, 1933, at the age of 71), you are my (241st) hero of the day.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


The short, stocky, slow-witted, bald man above is one George Louis Costanza (as portrayed by Jason Alexander), and he was born "sometime in April" according to what he told the spiritual healer Tor, and since I figure that if scholars can make up Shakespeare's birthday, I can place Georgie boy birthday on today. A day that was sorely lacking in real life heroes. He has been described with the phrase above by both himself, and other characters in the series, he also proclaimed himself "Lord of the Idiots" in one episode. He has also been called "the greatest character in a sitcom of all time." I have to agree with all of those things. He is all of that and more. I have been, upon more than one occasion, compared to George. I have to say that I cannot deny there might be some similarities in our personality. I think that the "Independent George/Relationship George" bit on the show was, not only spot on, but one of the funniest things I have ever seen on TV, and I am a comedy snob. I do not watch a lot of comedy, mainly because I think that most of it is not funny (I am looking with contempt at you Will Farrell, and Steven Carrell). He is shown above wearing what is, for most of the entire series, his standard type of attire. George is not a flashy dresser, nor does his rapidly disappearing hair require a lot of styling. He has claimed that his choice of colours is based upon his mood, so maybe he is more hip than we think. The major thing I share with George (other than slow wit, and stockiness) is his anger. Somewhere (probably in his fucked up childhood) George got angry at the world for some reason, and he is very quick to let the world know that he is angry at its unfairness. Although to George, (and I hope unlike me) his anger is the anger of being mad at the world not being fair to him, not just unfair. He and I also share a love for nice toilets. I am a big fan of his idea of having the door of a public toilet go all the way to the ground for the sake of privacy (I saw this in a airport in the Netherlands, and was blown away), a flush like a jet engine is the standard by which I judge toilets. George is not the nicest fellow in the world, nor is he the swiftest horse in the stable, but it is the relationship between George and Jerry that is the most important one in the show. I think that the predicaments that George finds himself in throughout the show are the funniest of the group. Art Vandelay is one of the most well known "fake names" in the world due to George's constant use of it. He is horrid at relationships (another trait we have in common), and he goes through jobs like cheap toilet paper. I once tried his speech to his boss when quitting his real estate job, but calling my boss "a laughingstock" was not the best idea that I ever ripped off of him. He is full of neuroses, and everyone of them is funny. When he tells his mother that he is a porn star, and his name is "Buck Naked" I still cry with laughter. He might not be a fellow you would trust with your life, love, or money, but he is one solid character. Sure to liven up any party, but maybe not always in a good way. So, for all of those funny moments that will go down in American TV history, and for making a comedy snob like myself howl with peals of laughter, George Louis Costanza (sometime in April, sometime in the middle 1960's (I think)-present), you are my (240th), hero of the day.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Bard

The fellow above is one William Shakespeare, born (they think) this day 1564, in Stratford upon Avon, England. Quite simply, he (whomever he may have been) was the best writer that the English language has seen, or will ever see. He produced most of his work between 1589, and 1613, and the list is too long to mention of the great plays, and poems he wrote. Of course, he wrote reams and reams of utter dross, but the quality he produced is without par. Today is generally regarded as his birthday, but no one is exactly certain of his date of birth. The major reason for this random date decision is because it day he died. I guess the scholars of the world wanted some sort of sense of ironic closure. There is still doubt about the authorship of his plays. Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, and others have been put forward as the actual author. I knew a pretty smart person that was (since she was an English major, and had read a LOT of Shakespeare) convinced that Shakespeare was a woman. The theory was that no man could write such brilliant roles and speeches for women, and who knows maybe Shakespeare was a woman, or maybe he was just a really sensitive man. Perhaps he was a little bit of both, two or three brilliant authors that wrote under the same name. I kind of am of the opinion that he was just one man, and was just one fucking GENIUS. I have read lines that he has wrote that made me want to cry. Lines he wrote have inspired me to greater things, lines he wrote that made me wish, with all my heart, that I had thought of them first. You can read all day and all night the details of Shakespeare's life, works, and death. This blog is not going to be the place to detail all of those. I do not have the time, skill, space, or talent to do him justice. He had all of those in spades, and I still love reading him today, and I am sure it is a love that will last my lifetime. So whoever, or whatever you were William Shakespeare (April 23rd 1564- April 23rd, 1616, at the age of 52), you are my (239nd) hero of the day.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Left

The balding fellow above is one Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, a.k.a. Vladimir Lenin, born this day 1870 in Simbirsk, Russia. Since I have labeled both a Republican, and a conservative in the last week by people I know, I figured it was time to trot out a good, old-fashioned revolutionary as a hero of the day. When he was 17, his eldest brother was hanged after participating in a terrorist plot to assassinate the Czar. It was this event, more than any other in his early life, that put Lenin on the path to revolution. He entered Kazan University in order to study law, but as the brother of a known terrorist, and after taking part in a student riot, he was expelled and refused admission to any other Russian university. He studied independently, and was awarded a law degree, and three years later he was allowed to study at Saint Petersburg University. In 1892, he obtained a first class degree in law (like I know what the hell that is), he practiced law in the town of Samara for a while before moving back to Saint Petersburg. It was here, and now that Lenin started down the path that lead him to the front of the revolution that would make him the leader of Russia. He was famous for being a tireless worker, he would usually work 14-16 hours a day. He would work all the time, on major issues, minor details, and mundane matters. Of course he is know as one of the major thinkers/writers of the Bolshevik movement, and it is a well earned reputation. One of my favourite quotes from him is as follows

If Socialism can only be realized when the intellectual development of all the people permits it, then we shall not see Socialism for at least five hundred years. Lenin-1917.

Good stuff coming from the guy would is the man that was attempting to make Russia a state founded upon socialist ideas. He survived a couple of attempts to end his life, and worked hard until a series of strokes made it impossible for him to work. These strokes were to have dire results for Russia. While he was laid low by the strokes the power struggle to succeed him was won, eventually, by a fucking maniac by the name of Stalin. It would not have been his choice, but his voice had been silenced by his illness, and Stalin was fairly good at positioning himself to take control. Take control he did, and with disastrous results. However, the blame for that disaster can not be lain entirely at Lenin's feet. So, for be a damn, fine rabble rouster, and a pretty smart cookie as well, Vladimir Lenin (April 22nd, 1870-January 21st, 1924, at the age of 53), you are my (238th) hero of the day.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Follow the Law

The educated looking fellow above is one John Law born this day 1671 in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was born into a family of goldsmiths and bankers, and amazingly enough was not Jewish, though there is an old joke that goes, "what is the difference between a Jew and a Scotsman?" Answer "Nothing." Terrible joke I know, but most jokes are. When he was about 25 years old, M. Law killed another fellow in a duel over a woman (what else?), and had to eventually show Scotland a clean pair of heels. He spent the next ten years shuffling between France and the Netherlands, dealing in finances, and gambling a lot, before he got his big break. The French economy was in the crapper, and Law was called upon to use his "system" to try and repair it. He did a lot of good, and helped increase industry in France by 60%, he also helped France increase the number of ships engaged in export from sixteen to three hundred. His idea was to replace gold with paper money, and it was a great idea, but it was about 300 years of its time, and France was just not quite ready from prime time. All of it ended in tears (as these things tend to do) and "The Mississippi Bubble" was the disaster that he helped to create, and what led him to have to flee France with the hounds baying for his blood. He was apparently a heavy gamble, and was so good at mental calculation that he was known to win games because of his ability to calculate the odds. However, after his flight from France he spent the rest of his life kicking about Europe gambling, but was unable to regain his former prosperity, (guess that is justice). I know he is not the most clear hero of the day, but just because his ideas were too advanced for the time he was living in, and a lot of people got burned by them, does not mean he isn't somewhat heroic. So, for those advanced ideas that a lot of us use everyday without really knowing the full details, John Law (April 21st 1671-March 21st 1729, at the age of 57, of pneumonia), you are my (237th) hero of the day.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Springtime For Hitler

Today is two things, other than nearly over, first, it is 4/20, and pot smokers over the world are, I am sure, quite baked already. I am pretty sure that they have been baked all day, I would imagine that there has been a run on your local quickie mart, and the place is probably sold out of Cheetos by now. Considering my current employment, I do not get baked myself, but I probably know a few people who do. I will probably even see a couple of those baked fellows tomorrow, but it will be in far different surroundings that they would wish for. So, pot smokers of the world unite! Cast off your job, and sit on the couch in your Underdog undies, and play video games until the wee hours of the morning. Just make sure you don't get too high, and try to drive out to the club. No one wants to see your blurry eyed, goofy ass. Secondly, today is Hitler's birthday. No something that you would (anyone would) care to celebrate, and the world would be a better place if he had not been born. I know my history, and I realize what a horrid person he was, and that the Neo-Nazi skinheads of the world are just fucking retarded. Perhaps my project for next year will be a villain of the day, a person without whom the world would have been, in my opinion, a better place. I hesitate to commit myself to such a project, but it would be a logical counterbalance to the hero posts. Of course, the only thing that I have been thinking about today in the context of heroes is the damn song "Springtime for Hitler" from "The Producers." That is what not enough sleep, and an over developed sense of the absurd will do for you, it will have you swanning around your workplace belting out show tunes about Hitler because it is his birthday, and you think it is funny. Your co-workers odd stares be damned. Either way, if any of you care to, feel free to post your thoughts on my villain of the day idea, because it is, with regret, that I must inform you that, for today April 20th, there is no hero of the day.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Rocky Horror

The smiling fellow above is one Timothy James Curry born this day 1946 in Warrington, England. Born the son of a navy chaplain and a secretary, he moved to South London after his father's death where he developed into a talented boy soprano. He then went on to concentrate on acting, graduating from Birmingham University with a degree in English and drama. His second role on the stage was as the mad scientist in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" in which he also played on the big screen in 1975. It is the role that made him a cult hero, and is one weird fucking film. It is still being screened in some theatre in Germany, and has been since June 24th, 1977 (a Guinness world record). He then went on to a extremely varied career on stage on in film. Playing such roles as Cardinal Richelieu in "The Three Musketeers," Long John Silver in "The Muppets Treasure Island," Dr. Petrov in "The Hunt for Red October," and Pennywise in "It." All excellent roles in excellent films. Perhaps his most famous stage role is as King Arthur in Monty Python's "Spamalot." The man has range, and is one talented dude, so for being able to portray a "sweet transvestite from Transylvania" to the most powerful man in France, Tim Curry (April 19th, 1946-present), you are my (236th) hero of the day.

Sunday, April 18, 2010


There were a lot of people born on this day, and quite a few of them were fairly famous. Even a couple would be in the running for our hero prize. I mean Clarence Darrow, David Ricardo, Aldophe Thiers, and several others might just on your average day make it onto the hero podium. I suppose today is not my average day, although it has not had any disaster strike, or good fortune arrived that would mark it as anything other than an average day. Perhaps today is an average day, and average days lack heroes. By definition they are average, neither too high, nor too low to stand out in a lifetime crowded full of similar, average days. Therein lies the rub, today will eventually disappear into the mists of memory (or would it be non-memory?). Nothing of any importance, in my opinion, happened today. And though, the day has a few hours left to run, I doubt anything reportable will happen in the time remaining to this day. This is a non-heroic day, a day indistinguishable from thousands of other days, in which I live, eat, breathe, sleep, and accomplish nothing of note. It arrived outside my window right on time, just like it companions, yesterday, and tomorrow, have, and (I assume) will. Nothing heralded its arrival, nor with anything mourn its loss. I could have, just as easily, slept through this entire day, and there is some theory that I might have. Maybe I am a sleepwalker, or an automaton that, upon being wound up by my owner, performs certain mundane tasks everyday with disturbing regularity. Austrian field marshals and Ottoman sultans have called this day their birthday, but for me it is nothing. It is 24 hours that have to be "got through" on my way to starting the work week tomorrow. Nothing more, nothing less. Of course, it is useless to lament this day, and I should really be trying to get something useful out of these particular 24 hours of relative freedom that I have been given. I did try, I was calmly sitting on the deck in my back yard, and reading until I casually looked up at the "scenery" of my backyard. While other people would point out the beauty of the blooming red ruffle bushes with their colourful flowers, and the fullness of the shade tree over head, and admire the freshly cut lawn, all I saw was the stump that I have to dig up, the leaves on that shade tree that until fall arrives, and I will need to rake them, produce some odd sap that is currently ruining my deck. I see that freshly cut grass in a week, after a couple of rain showers, being knee high, and in need of being freshly mowed again. It was enough to drive me inside where I can glance at the walls of my living room that are in desperate need of painting, and I wonder again how drunk I must have been to have purchased a house. Maybe this is what my day has become, sitting around la grand maison, and pondering all of the niggling, little things I need to paint, cut, repair, build, or have removed. This is a tragedy worthy of some obscure Greek. I certainly hope that my fate is different, that fate is not conspiring with the HG channel to turn me into some sort of slave to my freehold. Maybe in the six hours or so I have left before I decide to sleep this day off, something of importance, or interest will happen that will retrieve this day from the dustbin of history, but I am not cautiously optimistic. All I can do is, with apologies to my reader(s), inform you/them that for today, April 18th, there is no hero of the day.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Take me out to the old Ballgame

The fellow above is one Alexander Joy Cartwright born this day 1820 in New York City, New York. Born the son of a merchant, young Alexander began earning his living as a clerk, and was also a volunteer fireman (hence the fancy duds in the photo above). Many of his co-workers were playing a game similar to stick ball, and Alexander joined in with relish. He even formed a ball club, naming it after the fire department he worked for, it was called the Knickerbocker base ball Club. The team drew up a constitution and by laws, and in September 1845 adopted the 20 rules from which our modern game of baseball is derived. They played their first games against another New York team on June 19th, 1846, getting waxed by a score of 21-1. That is in some quarters to be considered the first baseball game. He later caught the Gold Rush bug, and skipped out to California, but eventually wound up in Hawaii, where he got into all sorts crazy dealings in the Kingdom of Hawaii. Those deeds do not concern us here, and if you want to read about them if you want. He died there of blood poisoning on July 12th, 1892, but his reason for being our hero is for that invention of what would become America's Pastime. I confess that I am not the baseball fan I used to be, but for great periods of my childhood I was a big fan of the game. I was also a fan of the glory days of the game, the true heroes of the game, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiaMaggio, Stan Musial, etc, etc. Before the multi-million dollars juicers of the game of today, baseball was fun to watch, and maybe one day it will be again. However, Cartwright, who was officially credited with inventing the game by the United States Congress, on June 3rd, 1953, is not to blame for that. So, for inventing a lovely game in a time of not steroid taking apes, Alexander Cartwright (April 17th, 1820-July 12th, 1892, at the age of 72), you are my (235th) hero of the day.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Fast Freddie

The fellow above is one Karl Fredrik "Freddie" Ljungberg, born this day 1977 in Vittsjo, Sweden. In the picture above he is wearing the national team's jersey, and that is one reason he is a hero of mine. He scored 15 goals for the Swedish national team in his 75 appearances. He also managed to complete a personal double for me by starring for my club team, Arsenal, as well. In 216 games for the Gunners he scored 46 goals. Including a cracking goal in the 2002 FA Cup final against Chelsea that sealed the win, and made him the first player to score in two consecutive FA Cup finals in 40 years. Not bad for a fellow from a small town in Sweden. He moved to the Arsenal in 1998 for the sum of 3 million pounds, which was a record for a Swedish player at the time. He was also signed after being scouted for a year by the Arsenal scouts, and was signed without our gaffer (Arsene Wegner) ever seeing him play live (he had watched him in a game against England on TV, and decided to sign him). He left Arsenal in 2007 for their London rivals West Ham United, but his spell there was not a success. He then moved to the Seattle Sounders of the MLS, and there he remains despite some rumours of his return to European football. He retired from the national team after their disastrous Euro 2008 campaign, and has been only playing in America since then. He is also famous for posing in his boxers for a Calvin Klein advert, that drew a great deal of attention. It seems that Freddie packs more than just a powerful shot, in fact, he seems to be packing. But, for scoring all those wonderful goals for club, and country Freddie Ljungberg (April 16th, 1977-present), you are my (234th) hero of the day.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


The self-drawn fellow above is one Leonardo da Vinci born this day 1452 in Florence, Italy. He is the best example of a Renaissance man in the world. He had some much skill in so many fields that to attempt to write a blog post about him would be futile. So let just give you a couple of tidbits. I once claimed, like Leonardo, to be a Renaissance man. The person I made that claim to hung up on me, and did not speak to me for over three months. So be careful when trying to be like Leonardo, it could have some dangerous consequences. He was left handed, and did not go to any "formal" schooling. This is the basis for his famous mirror script handwriting. If you know any left handed people ask them to write a sentence from right to left, and see if they can do it. Almost all of the ones I tested could do it with a little thought. That is how left handed people would naturally write, backwards for us right handed people, but natural to them. It is only when they are enrolled in schools, and forced to conform to how the majority of pupils write, do they then learn to write from left to right. Those are the two best tidbits I have about Leonardo da Vinci, but there are tons of other. Get thee a biography of the man, and prepare to be amazed. However, I am going to use the rest of this post for my own purposes. I will start it with a quote from a fellow by the name of Elias Canetti.

". . . a strolling prehistoric creature, that was what I wanted to be, an animal that doesn't run from anything, into anything, that doesn't make way, doesn't stumble, doesn't bump into anything, doesn't push, doesn't have to be anywhere, a creature who has time, who's after nothing, who makes doubly sure not to carry a watch." The Torch in My Ear- Elias Canetti

Ponder that quote for a second, I have been since I read it about two hours ago. It dovetails nicely with an interesting chat I was having with a boon companion of mine last night. He was a bit deep into his cups, but that didn't stop him from making some sense (for a change). He expressed a similar feeling to the one quoted above. He was bemoaning that his debts tie him to his job, and that his job is not a source of joy to him. He stated that his sense of duty to repay his debts (student loans mostly) are what kept him from becoming the creature Canetti describes above. A shame isn't it? The everydayness of our jobs have made us creatures who do the complete opposite of what Canetti is talking about. We make doubly sure TO carry a watch, and a cellphone, and all sort of other devices to make sure that we are creatures always after something, creatures who are pressed from time, and have places to be, and people to see. If only we could be so lucky to have the above ability to be that prehistoric creature that Canetti is describing (he had that luxury somewhat, family money must be nice). However, most of us have to be somewhere all the time, or we take a "day off" to just get away, and end up wasting it by doing laundry, or washing dishes, and then realizing that we have to be somewhere tomorrow, and the cycle starts all over again. For da Vinci, experience was the queen of all, and perhaps he was right, perhaps we all need more experiences, more time to have experiences. Different experiences, not the same experience where only the date on the calendar has changed. Which is why I am contemplating running off, and joining the circus, but I am not sure if I would make a good bearded lady or not. Either way, for being the ideal Renaissance man, in a world of slugs like me, Leonardo da Vinci (April 15th, 1452-May 2nd, 1519, at the age of 67), you are my (234th) hero of the day.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010


The bewigged fellow above is one Christiaan Huygen born this day 1629 in The Hauge, Netherlands. His dear old dad was a friend of Descartes, and I am sure that Rene would show some pride in Huygen's achievements. After graduating from Leiden University, he had a brief stint as a diplomat, but it was in the world of science in which he was to achieve the fame that makes him our hero of the day. He will always always hold a special place in any gambler's heart because he wrote the first book on probability, publishing "On Reasoning in Games of Chance" in 1657. He is especially remembered for his wave theory of light, being one of the first proponents of light moving in waves rather than as particles. Another one of his major contributions to the world was the invention (though he left the building of it to someone else) of the pendulum clock. He also discovered Titan, a moon of Saturn, and wrote quite a bit about Saturn's rings. He even believed that there was life on other planets, and that it was just a question of having the water on the planet to sustain life. I guess we can't be right all the time (although I happen to believe there is life somewhere else in the universe as well, so he might yet be proven correct). So, for all those things he was right about that helped advance some many things in the world of science, math, and optics Christiaan Huygen (April 14th, 1629-July 8th 1695, at the age of 66), you are my (233rd) hero of the day.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Owl

In case you can not read, the above fellow is one Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr, born this day 1764 in Toul, France. He was born the first child of a tanner and his wife in nowhere France. His mother decided that being the wife of a tanner, and birthing babies was not something she was cut out to do, and left the family for good when Saint-Cyr was very young. By the age of four, both of his siblings had died, and he was doomed to an extremely unhappy childhood. According to one close friend, this childhood left him with a strong sense of individualism, and an air of melancholy. At the age of 18, tired of living in nowhere France, and not a fan of his father, he left for Rome with the dream of becoming an artist. For four years he wandered up and down Italy trying to live the dream as an artist, he then returned to Paris to try his luck on the stage. Failing that, he was pretty much shiftless when the French Revolution intervened, and made him our hero for the day. In 1792, he was chosen as captain in a volunteer battalion, and in two years had been rapidly promoted to general of a division. War time, and radical politics have a tendency to allow for that kind of rapid promotion. His battlefield exploits are not the greatest in the world, but he did manage to get promoted all the way to Marshal of France in 1812. He was a solid, if cautious commander, and had a few moments of battlefield greatness to hang his hat upon. During the many years of the Napoleonic Wars, he made several good friends among his fellow officers, one was previous hero, Michel Ney. This friendship was to eventually cause Saint-Cyr a great deal of personal grief. When, during the Hundred Days campaign, Ney rallied to Napoleon's side, and took part in Napoleon's final battle of Waterloo, Ney made a lot of enemies. These enemies eventually got Ney tried for treason. Saint-Cyr was Minister of War at the time, and tried his best to get Ney a more favorable jury, but was forced out of office by the Ultra Royalists. This was to cause his friend's downfall, and even though Saint-Cyr voted for Ney's deportation rather than his execution, Ney was duly shot by a firing squad for treason. He was later reappointed to be Minister of War, and effected many positive changes in the French military before finally retiring from office in 1819. He spent the rest of his life in retirement at a renowned spa, dying of a heart attack in 1830. He was a life-long agnostic, and his grave bears no cross or religious motif. I can almost trace the distaff side of my family back to Saint-Cyr, and if any of you have ever email me on yahoo, you will recognize where my yahoo email account got it name. It is from great, great, great, uncle Gouvion. So, for being a hero to the family, Laurent Gouvion Saint-Cyr (April 13th, 1764-March 17th, 1830, at the age of 65), you are my (232nd), hero of the day.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Toy Planes

The fellow above is one Hardy Kruger, born this day 1928 in Berlin, Germany. He spent some time fighting in World War II, although he was not a Nazi. He made several films in both English and German, and has been an actor for over forty years. However, it is for just one role that he makes it onto the hero podium. That is of the Engineer Dorfmann in 1965's "Flight of the Phoenix." It was that movie with James Stewart, and an All-Star cast that makes Kruger our hero on what is a very light day in the hero world. The tension between Stewart and Kruger drives the film, and it is a wonderful film, and I highly recommend it over the shitty ass remake done about five years ago. He made a ton of other films, but I confess I have not seen one second of any of them, but for that one role played with verve, and genius, Hardy Kruger (April 12th, 1928-present), you are my (231st) hero of the day.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

The Shakes

The fellow above is one James Parkinson, born this day 1755 in London, England. The son of a surgeon, he was admitted by the City of London as a surgeon at the age of 29. He was only a surgeon, and not a physician, as many people mistakenly believe. Back then that was a much bigger difference than it is today. It matters not what his actual profession was, he was to go on to contribute greatly to the world of medicine. Until about 1799, Parkinson was heavily involved in the politics of the day, and managed to get his fool self dragged in front of the Privy Council about an alleged plot to kill the King of England. He managed to avoid prison, unlike some of his friends, and eventually decided that perhaps medicine was a better field than prison. Between the years of 1799 and 1807, he produced a number of papers on various medical subjects, including a work on gout, and some of the earliest writings ever on the subject of peritonitis. However, it was for his observations of the first six people who have the disease that was to bear his name, that he is on our hero podium today. It was his essay "On the Shaking Palsy" that first gave the world an idea of the horrible disease that was to be named after him 60 years later, that is Parkinson's disease. I guess it is a honour to have a disease named after you if you are in the medical field, but it would not be some "thank the Academy moment" for me. He later turned away from medicine, and pursued the study of nature, and was present at the first meeting of what was to become the Geological Society of London. However, for describing the disease that bears his name, and for making some serious contributions to the world of medicine James Parkinson (April 11th, 1755-December 21st, 1824, at the age of 69), you are my (230th) hero of the day.

Saturday, April 10, 2010


The blond fellow on the right in the above picture is one Max von Sydow, born this day 1929 in Lund, Sweden. Born into a fairly wealthy family consisting of a professor father, and a mother that was a school teacher, our boy Max managed to get himself accepted into, and trained at the Royal Dramatic Theatre in Sweden from 1948 to 1951. It was in 1955 that he was to meet the man who would make him famous, and who would put in the film that the picture above is taken from, that man was Ingmar Bergman, and Max would make several films at his direction. The best one of the bunch, in my opinion, is "The Seventh Seal" and that is our hero Max in the photo about to begin his famous game of chess with Death. It all ends in tears, as these sorts of things are wont to do, but it is one fine film. After being noticed in Bergman's films, von Sydow was offered the title role in "Dr. No" a role he did not take, but Hollywood called, and his first role was as Jesus in "The Greatest Story Ever Told." He went onto a fantastic acting career appearing in such films as "Minority Report," "Never Say Never Again," "Dune," "The Exorcist," "Snow Falling on Cedars," and "Conan the Barbarian" to name just a few. He is fluent in a number of languages, and is one damn fine actor. He has a great ability to play a villain, and to do it well. Any idiot can play the hero, it takes a truly skilled actor to play a really good villain. Though it is as the "hero" of "The Seventh Seal" that I will always remember him as, and it is for that role, and for the six decade long career on stage, TV, and the big screen that Max von Sydow (April 10th, 1929-present), you are my (229th) hero of the day.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Les Fleurs du Mal

The balding fellow above is one Charles Baudelaire born this day 1821, in Paris, France. His father was considerably older than his mother, and departed this mortal coil when Baudelaire was only 6 years old. The widow grieved for only a year, and remarried to an army man. This remarriage was to prove a bit of a disaster for young Charles. It was to cause a problem in the relationship because Baudelaire's relationship with his mother was an extremely complex one with, and was to dominate his life. He was educated in Lyon, and when his grades slipped, was not allowed to come home on holidays to visit his mother. He obtained his degree in 1839, and told his brother that "he did not feel a vocation for anything." I know the feeling. Not too happy with his step-father's idea of a law or diplomatic career, Baudelaire decided to embark on a career as a writer. He began to live the life of a bohemian artist, and to frequent "ladies of the evening." He promptly caught a couple of lovely diseases that would affect him from the rest of his life. He was kept on a tight leash by his step father, and quickly blew his total allowance as soon as his got it. This caused the step-father to send young Charles on a voyage to India, in the hopes of keeping him from completely falling into rack and ruin. This idea was a total failure, and in under a year Charles was back in Paris living the life of a dandy. While living this life, he came into an inheritance of around 100,000 francs, which was a tidy little sum in those days, but he managed to piss it away in a few years. He is a particular hero of mine, and I have a lovely little personal story as to why. He wrote lovely verses in a couple of books one called Paris Spleen, and the other the Fleurs du Mal, I discovered him only about six years ago, and I was semi-dating a girl who was a pseudo feminist. I doing my best to impress her, tried to turn her on to Baudelaire. She read a bit, and declared that he was guilty of misogyny, I retorted that he was not he was a misanthrope, he did not dislike just women, he disliked all humans (something I have had to clarify in relation to myself). Needless to say, this little chat did not go well. After a further argument I was given the choice, "Baudelaire or me" she declared. Guess who I picked? There are many women in the world, there was only one Baudelaire. His letters to his mother's are on my bedside table, along with the Fleurs du Mal. Her, I have not heard from since. I think I made the right choice. His end was as tragic as to be expected for a man living the life of a drunken, poor, poet, and it is not something which I care to expound upon. I will have leave you with three quotes from him, that I hope you will enjoy.

"Unable to suppress love, the Church wanted at least to disinfect it, and it created marriage."

"Never slander Mother Nature, and if she has given you a flat-chested mistress, then say "I have a boyfriend-with hips!"

Always be drunk.
That's it!
The great imperative!
In order not to feel
Time's horrid burden
bruise your shoulders,
grinding you into the earth,
Get drunk and stay that way.
On what?
On wine, poetry, virtue, whatever.
But get drunk.
And if you sometimes happen to wake up
on the porches of a palace,
in the green grass of a ditch,
in the dismal loneliness of your own room,
your drunkenness gone or disappearing,
ask the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock,
ask everything that flees,
everything that groans
or rolls
or sings,
everything that speaks,
ask what time it is;
and the wind,
the wave,
the star,
the bird,
the clock
will answer you:
"Time to get drunk!
Don't be martyred slaves of Time,
Get drunk!
Stay drunk!
On wine, virtue, or poetry!"

The last quote is a poem entitled "Get Drunk," and since in about two hours that is what I plan to do, I leave it as the last quote of today's hero, Charles Baudelaire (April 9th 1821-August 31st, 1867, at the age of 46, after suffering a stroke brought about by excessive drinking) you are my (228th), hero of the day.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


The fellow in the above picture is one Orson Welles, and he is probably a hero for another day. In the picture he is portraying today's stand in hero, that of Macbeth. The main character in "that Scottish play" who's name is not supposed to be mentioned because it is bad luck, and I realize that for a lot of people his performance in the play is far from heroic. Lucky for me, I am not most people, and also it is my blog, and I get to be the asshat picking the heroes. Desire for this sort of power is the sort of power that led Macbeth (goaded on by his grasping bitch of a wife) to murder the rightful king, and eventually come a cropper against Macduff. Sure he is a murdering bastard, and for the majority of the play goes about it with undisguised glee. However, into his mouth Shakespeare has place on of the greatest soliloquies of all time. His death, which is entirely necessary for the peace of Scotland, has a certain nobleness about it that I find hard to explain. Perhaps I am not smart enough to explain it, or (more likely) I am too lazy. However, I will cut and past that soliloquy, that is the only part of Shakespeare I can still recite from memory.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death.
Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.
It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing
That pretty much sums up a lot of my life, and for better or worse it probably will continue to sum it up for a while. It is a fantastic speech, and for it Macbeth, you murdering bastard, you are my (227th), hero of the day.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010


The serious looking fellow above is one Will Keith Kellogg born this day 1860 in Battle Creek, Michigan. His claim to fame is fairly simple, and you, or someone you know probably enjoy his contribution to society on a daily basis. It was he and his brother, John Kellogg that came up with the process of making flaked cereal (a process that a fellow by the name of Post borrowed/copied/stole, and then went on to found General Foods). This upset Mr. Kellogg so much that he created his own company, known as the Kellogg Company, and I pretty sure most of us have enjoyed a bowl or two of corn flakes. For that big idea he is today's hero, but he was always that rarest of birds, a truly generous wealthy man. He started the Kellogg Foundation in 1930, during the Great Depression, and eventually contributed over 60 million bucks to it. Also during the Great Depression, he directed his plant to work four shifts of six hours each, which allowed more people in the town to work. This was a time when work, any work was precious, and his idea probably kept a few people body and soul together. So for making some fantastic cereals that millions of us enjoy on a daily basis, and being a generous fellow Will Keith Kellogg (April 7th 1860-October 6th, 1951, at the age of 91), you are my (226th) hero of the day.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

The Caps

The splendidly attired fellow above is one Arvid Horn born this day1664 in what is now Salo, Finland. However, at the time the town of his birth was under Swedish dominion, and Horn would rise high in Swedish politics. After finishing his studies at Abo, he joined the army severed several years in various locations under various commanders, until he eventually became one of Charles XII's leading generals during the first part of the Great Northern War against Russia. However, not even Horn's generalship could save Sweden from defeat at the hands of the Russian bear, and after Charles' death, Horn begin his rise in the political world. At Charles' death he had already been president of the Privy Council, and it was in that job that after the monarch's death he was to persuade his successor, Queen Ulrika Eleonora, to relinquish her hereditary claims, and submit to being the elected queen of Sweden. He eventually grew unhappy with the Queen's running of the ship of state, and resigned his post. He became the leader of the "Cap " party in the Swedish parliament. This party was pro-English, anti-French, and was more of a liberal/peace party. Upon the ascension of Fredrick of Hesse to the throne, Horn was renamed to the head of the Privy Council, and was to remain the dominant figure in Swedish politics for almost the next 20 years. He was such the dominant figure that this time in Swedish history has been called the "Horn period." Not a bad accomplishment to get a period (in time) named after you. Eventually though, his enemies, and what politician does not have enemies caught up to him, and he was forced to resign in 1738, being replaced by the "Hat party" which then led Sweden into two disastrous wars. He lived in life in retired until his death in 1742, but for bringing peace to a nation torn by war, and providing the ability to heal the nation's wounds, Arvid Horn (April 6th, 1664-April 17th, 1742, at the age of 78), you are my (225th), hero of the day.

Monday, April 05, 2010


The well engraved fellow above is one Blaise de Vigenere born this day 1523, in Saint-Pourcain, France. He is known as the father of the Vigenere cipher, a cipher that I employed on this blog once or twice a while back. It seems that it was attributed to him by accident, the cipher that bears his name was actually conceived of by a fellow named Giovan Bellaso, and it is the cipher that bears Vigenere's name. It seems that Vigenere did in fact come up with his own cipher, and by all accounts, it is a stronger, harder to break, cipher. One historian has even stated that the misnaming "(ignored this important contribution and instead named a regressive and elementary cipher for him [Vigenère] though he had nothing to do with it." Seems fairly ironic that a fellow who invents something to hide things, gets his cipher so well hidden that he gets credit for something that he did not do. He spent 3o years in the diplomatic service of France, and upon his retirement left 1,000 livres a year for the benefit of the poor, a pretty tidy sum back in those days. So, for that generosity, and for creating a really hard to break cipher for all of us secret agents to use, Blaise de Vignere (April 5th, 1523- sometime in 1596, at around 73), you are my (224th) hero of the day.


The bearded fellow above is one Joseph Lister born this day 1827 in Essex, England. Born into a prosperous Quaker family, he attended the University of London (it being one of the few places that accepted Quakers), and graduated with a degree in Medicine. He then entered the college of surgeons, and it was in 1867 that he made the discovery that makes him our hero of the day. That discovery even put his name into the common lexicon, it was the fact that carbolic acid could be used as an antiseptic in surgery. Before the brilliant idea hit Lister, the "bad air" theory was prevalent in hospitals, and Lister would help to prove that bad air was an effect of infections rather than the cause. He recommended that surgeons wash their hands after each surgery (few did so, going from one surgery straight to the next) in a solution of 5% carbolic acid. He also suggested washing the instruments in the same solution, seems common sense today, but back then the idea was a shocker, and sometimes the simplest ideas are the hardest to have. His surgery techniques have been credited with saving the King of England at the time Edward VII's life when he had to have his appendix removed. The mouthwash that millions of use daily was not formulated by him, but was named in his honour. So next time you are feeling the burn of that particular product give thanks to Joseph Lister (April 5th, 1827-February 10th, 1912, at the age of 84), you are my (223rd) hero of the day.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Easter, Agnostic Style

I am not a Christian for reasons both numerous and varied. I also do not like Easter Egg hunts, and I can not have Easter candy because it has made me the tub of lard that I am today. Therefore, I decided to blog about an agnostic Easter. There is no one in the wide, wide world that is stepping up to the hero podium for today, and as I have said the show must go on. Today being Easter, is all about death and resurrection. I do not much about coming back from the dead, but I have spent a fair amount of time pondering getting that way. Not that I plan on it anytime soon, but my father, and two of my close friends fathers have died this year, and so today's little post is going to be about death. Sorry for the uplifting topic, but you can stop reading now if you wish. I have always thought that dying was one of the few things that a person does entirely alone. We all die, and in my view we all die alone. To me it doesn't matter if you die surrounded by your loved ones in a hospital bed, or in a fiery plane crash along with 200 strangers, your death, at the time it happens, happens alone. I recently finished a book by Gregor von Rezzori entitled "The Snows of Yesteryear," and it is a wonderful book. It is a memoir of his family, and the effects the family had on his life as an adult. He had a sister that died very young, and the following quote is from the chapter dealing with his father's attitude towards his child's death. His father did not visit his dying daughter, respecting her discipline in dying, a discipline that he shared when his time to die came. Von Rezzori speaks of that discipline in the following way.

"It was based on the sober conviction that dying is a strictly private matter that cannot be shared with anyone, and that the pain is only sharpened if one allows this ultimate and most revealing manifestation of one's innate archsolitude to be witnessed by the one person whose love enabled one, fleetingly, to deceive oneself as to its inescapability." -Gregor von Rezzori "The Snows of Yesteryear"

Read that sentence through a couple of times, and then ponder it for about a month. I read it about two weeks ago, and am still haunted by it. It is, perhaps, one of the greatest sentences I have ever read, and I read some fantastic authors. It sums up in less than a paragraph, all you need to know about how to die. It explains why I think that dying is something that can only be done alone. I wish I could say it better, but I can't, and I don't need to. Part of being clever (and I like to think I am clever) is knowing when you have found the best tool/quote for the task at hand, or for the feeling you wish to convey. I could write this post for 10 more years, and I would not come anywhere near to von Rezzori's insight. And so, it is with that in mind that I leave it to you, dear reader, to ponder that quote, and see if you think it is as lovely as I do or not. All I can do is leave you with that thought, and with the apology for today April 4th, there is no hero of the day.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Number four

The smiling fellow above was going to be yesterday's fourth hero of the day, but I got lazy, and I also planned ahead. I took a gander at today, and it was bleak on the hero front so I saved our boy above for today. It may be a day, but the guy above is far from a dollar short. His name is Alec Guinness de Cuffe, and he was born April 2nd, 1914 in London, England. His mother was the de Cuffe of his name, the Guinness part was a bit trickier, and the identity of his father has never been determined. He made his acting debut in the Albery Theatre at the tender age of 22, and during this time worked with many actors and actresses. One of his favourites was Stan Laurel, whom Guinness much admired. After military service, he returned to the stage, and eventually won a Tony Award. However, it is as a screen actor that I remember him, and as a screen actor he gets to the hero podium. He played the British colonel who built the "Bridge on the River Kwai" for which he won Academy Award. Then going to play large roles in "Lawrence of Arabia," and "Doctor Zhivago." All of which are lovely films, and he plays wonderful roles in them, and plays them well. I highly recommend all three, but I would spread them out over about a week. They are not short, light films, and beer is needed to work through them. He also played a fairly important role in a little film called "Star Wars." He was smart enough to puzzle out that the film would be a commercial success, and he got his salary to be 2 percent of the gross. Needless to say, that little trick earned him a TON of money, and he became financially secure for the rest of his life. Despite this brilliant deal for the cash, he was never happy being identified as Obi-Wan, and it was his idea to kill off the character. He did not mind the money the film produced making him rich, but he did not want to be "that guy who played Obi-Wan." Fair enough, I have seen Stars Wars, ONCE, and I prefer his earlier work much more. So, for those roles that are the standard of the "stiff upper lip" type of Englishman, Sir Alec Guinness (April 2nd 1914-August 5th, 2000 at the age of 86 from liver cancer), you are my (22nd) hero of the day.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Lover Boy

The handsome fellow above is on Giacomo Casanova born this day 1725, in Venice, Italy. He was born the eldest of an actress mother, and a actor/dancer of a father, though he himself thought that perhaps his father was someone else. Whoever his parents were, they shipped him off to a boarding house in Padua when he was nine, this was not something that he was going to remember fondly. The boarding house was such a shithole, that he requested to be taken into his primary tutor, the Abbe Gozzi. It was in this household that he first encountered the opposite sex. The Abbe's younger sister was the first woman to experience the Casanova experience, though she was not to be the last by far. He was a very bright child, and at the age of 12 he entered the University of Padua, and graduated from there at the age of 17 with a degree in law (which he felt "an unconquerable aversion," join the club big boy). His life makes some damn fine reading, and he wrote it down himself in a 12 volume epic called the "Story of My Life." He managed to obtain minor orders in the church, obtain a massive gambling habit, and eventually get his ass arrested and tossed into Venice's worst prison "The Leads." There he was tossed into the worst cell they could find, where he was kept company by a million fleas. His escape from that prison became the source of a best selling book "The Story of My Flight." He lived the playboy lifestyle to the fullest, and his name would become a byword for womanizers throughout the world. He spent his last years as a librarian (of all things) to a minor nobleman in Bohemia, and writing his highly entertaining memoirs. His last years are the subject of an excellent book "Casanova in Bolzano," by Sandor Marai. He died on June 4th, 1798, after finishing his memories, that detail his long, love filled life. So for showing us how to properly seduce a woman, and being an all around cad, Giacomo Casanova (April 2nd 1725-June 4th, 1798, at the age of 73), you are my (221st) hero of the day.


Ok, so a diet of salad, and pickles (lots of pickles), and fortifying myself with ONE (that is right ONE) Jaffa cake, has given me the strength (barely), to continue our hero parade today. The fellow above is one Emile Zola, born this day 1840 in Paris, France. His father, an Italian engineer, died when he was only seven years old, and he and his mother moved back to Paris. His mother had planned for him to pursue a law degree (again another failed lawyer), but Zola failed the entrance exam. After that lucky escape, and before his breakthrough as a writer, Zola worked as a shipping clerk, and then as a sales clerk for a publisher. While there he published his first novel La Confession de Claude in 1865, which got Zola some unwanted police attention, and promptly fired from his job. He then went on to publish his first major novel. That novel Thérèse Raquin, was the first in what he planned (in advance, at the age of 28) to be a 20 novel cycle. This cycle, named Les Rougon-Macquart, was to take a long, hard, look at life in Second Empire France. All levels of society, and all types of jobs, events, and people were to be examined. The series was planned to follow two branches of the same family, the Rougon (the high class group), and the Macquarts (the illegitimate group) for five generations. One of these books (as I have mentioned before) cost him the friendship of his childhood friend, Paul Cezanne. However the publication of these books, made Zola famous, he would eventually become better paid than Victor Hugo. It was the Dreyfus affair, that probably gave Zola his biggest claim to fame. Writing on behalf of Alfred Dreyfus, and being an long time critic of Napoleon II's regime, his letter J'Accuse was front page news at the time. The letter, a master class of political writing, accused the French government of anti-Semitism, and eventually would get Zola prosecuted and found guilty of libel. Rather than go to jail for libel, Zola skipped town, and fled to England, arriving there with only the clothes on his back. After close to a year in exile, he was allowed to return to France in late 1899. He died of carbon monoxide poisoning, caused by a stopped chimney, in 1902. There are those conspiracy theory type fellows that claim (because of previous attempts on his life) that it was a government plot, and that Zola was murdered. Either way, a leading light of French literature was snuffed out all too soon, and that is a tragedy. However, for writing all those novels taking such a in depth look at life in France under the Second Empire, and for having the courage to accuse the government of what it was guilty of, Emile Zola (April 2nd 1840-September 29th, 1902, at the age of 62), you are my (22oth) hero of the day.

The Little Mermaid

Today is going to be a multi-hero day, that is if I can avoid passing out from hunger first. This weight loss thing is just not worth it. The pensive looking fellow above is one Hans Christian Andersen, born this day 1805, in Odense, Denmark. If any of you bother to use Google's homepage today, you will notice that the word "Google" is highly stylized with a drawing. That drawing is to celebrate M. Andersen's birthday, and it from his well known story "Thumbelina" Andersen's ancestry remains a bit of a mystery, and there is some speculation that he may have been a bastard son of some Danish royalty (Fredrick VI took an interest in him, and paid for part of his education). By the age of 14 he had moved to Copenhagen, and was trying to become an actor. He almost made it, and if it had not been for puberty making his lovely soprano voice change, the world might have missed out on a lovely, and talented writer. After an unhappy period of schooling, he published his first novel in 1835, and it was an instant success. However, it is not for his ability as a novelist that he becomes today's hero, we all known the stories that he wrote that Disney (the bastards) have made part and parcel of our culture. Stories like "The Little Mermaid," "Thumbelina," "The Princess and The Pea," amongst others are still fantastic reading today, whether you are a child or an adult (or like me, somewhere in between). Try to read them for what they are, awesome stories of adventure, and joy. Do not try to put too much thought into them as being some symbol of his possibly homosexuality (Andersen was one weird cat, he marked on his calendar the days he masturbated in red ink). He had some unrequited love for members of both sexes (the most famous being the Swedish opera star, Jenny Lind), but for the most part, he was living the celibate live. Whatever life it took that made him able to write such brilliant stories, is fine by me. There are statutes in his honour all over the world, including one in Central Park. So, for writing stories that show us that ugly ducklings can turn into beautiful swans (yes there is more to that sentence than meets the eye), Hans Christian Andersen (April 2nd 1805-August 4th, 1875, at the age of 70), you are my (219th) hero of the day.

Thursday, April 01, 2010


The studious looking fellow above is one William Harvey born this day 1578, in Folkestone, England. He eventually went to Caius College, Cambridge, and from there to the University of Padua so he could study medicine. He graduated with his medical degree in 1602, and then obtained a Doctor of Medicine degree from the University of Cambridge. He was one smart, educated fellow, and everyone who came into contact with him could tell. After leaving Cambridge, he joined the College of Physicians in London, and eventually took a job at Saint Bartholomew's hospital. This position was the one he would hold for most of the remainder of his life, it helped him start a thriving practice, and eventually he was name physician to King James I. In 1628, he published his masterpiece, De Motu Cordis. It was published in Frankfurt-on-the-Main, (mainly in order to take advantage of a local book fair, which would ensure immediate exposure to the public). This book was the first to detail correctly, and in exact detail the circulation of the blood. It was a ground breaking work of staggering genius, and is the reason that M. Harvey is our hero of the day. Even more impressive is he was able to make all of these discoveries without proper tools, most of his work was done in theory, but the theories were sound, and modern medicine owes a great debt to Dr. Harvey. So, for showing up the way that blood flows, and writing it all down so that others could read and learn, William Harvey (April 1st, 1578- June 3rd, 1657 at the age of 79 of a cerebral hemorrhage) you are my (218th) hero of the day.