Monday, May 31, 2010
The steely eyed fellow above is one Clinton "Clint" Eastwood, born this day 1930 in San Francisco, California. After graduating high school, he had intended to enroll in university, but a little thing called the Korean War got in the way, and he did a stint in the U. S. Army. He came back, moved to Los Angeles and got married. His first big break came with him being cast as Rowdy Yates in the TV series Rawhide. By this time he was thirty years old, and did not really like the character of Yates that much dubbing him "the idiot of the plains." It was in 1963 that he would get the role that puts him on my hero podium for today. That role is as "the Man with No Name" in Sergio Leone's "Dollars Trilogy." He signed on for $15,ooo, and a Mercedes to be gifted to him upon the completion of filming. He considered it a paid vacation since filming was to take place in a remote area of Spain. Eastwood himself was the major source for the character's visual look. The black jeans he bought and roughened up a bit, the hat, the leather bracelet, and the trademark black cigars were all Eastwood's idea (though he is a non-smoker, and hates the smell of cigar smoke). Though, Leone commented, "The truth is that I needed a mask more than an actor, and Eastwood at the time only had two facial expressions: one with the hat, and one without it." Whatever that facial expression was it was bad ass, and even as I sit here writing this TCM is showing the trilogy. I did not care much for the Dirty Harry films, and some of his later stuff is so-so, but Clint Eastwood is the baddest fucking cowboy on the planet. The laconic way he played "the Man With No Name" is outstanding, and my favourite of the three is "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly." That is the film which Eli Wallach's character calls him "Blondie." It is one of my favourite films of all time, and it starts in about 10 minutes, so I need to wrap this up quickly. The rest of his career is also fantastic, and he is now well regarded as a director as well. I could write about his career, and it highlights until his birthday next year, and still not give him the credit he is due. It is for a writer with much more talent, and time that me to write the big picture of his life. All I need for him to be my hero is "The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," which is about to start. So, for that iconic, laconic role as Blondie, Clint Eastwood (May 31st, 1930-present) you are my (279th) hero of the day.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
The unassuming fellow above is one Melvin Jerome "Mel" Blanc, born this day 1908 in San Francisco, California. His face is not going to be familiar to anyone, but it was his voice(s) that made him famous, and makes him our hero of the day. Mel provided the voice for a whole of Looney Tunes characters that I grew up watching. Daffy Duck, whom he voiced for 52 years, Porky Pig, Bugs Bunny, whom he voiced for 49 years, Woody Woodpecker, Foghorn Leghorn, and a whole host of other unforgettable characters. The face man may get all the credit, but without M. Blanc there would have been a great big entertainment hole in my childhood. It is difficult to believe that Yosemite Sam, and Tweety Bird were voiced by the same fellow, and Blanc called himself "The Man with a 1000 Voices." That probably was as close to true as it could get. All of those memorable characters done by one fellow, it boggles the imagination. I suspect there are a couple of more of his characters that will show up on this list in their own right, but without him they just would not have been the same. He once said that it was Yosemite Sam's voice that gave him the most trouble. The sheer volume, and raspiness of Sam caused his throat some major pain, but he soldiered on nonetheless. He died of heart disease in 1989, and the cartoon world has been a poorer place every since. By his request his tombstone reads "That's All Folks" the line he voiced to sign off at the end of many of the Warner Brothers cartoons that were sometimes entirely voiced by him. So, for giving voices to all those fantastic characters from my childhood, Mel Blanc (May 30th, 1908,-July 10th, 1989, at the age of 81), you are my (277th) hero of the day.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
The white stuff of above is sodium chloride, otherwise known as salt, and for reasons that will become clear it is our hero of the day. The human list of possible heroes was a bit disappointing, and so I began to look around for something, anything to continue my hero parade. Salt is a bit of a stretch, but it is my list, so I guess I can do what I want within reason. So, salt it is. It is essential, in small qualities for animal life, and since we are animals, in more ways that one, there is one good reason for it to be a hero. Of course, like all good things that you can't live without a little of, too much of it will kill you. Its major function is to help regulate the water content in the human body, but too much of it and you will probably stroke out from high blood pressure. However, the table salt that you and I use to season our food is not the only useful thing that salt does. Only 17.5% of the world salt production is used for food purposes, it is a necessary ingredient in the production of pulp, paper, soap, and detergents among many other things. It is supposed to be good luck to throw a pinch of it over your shoulder, and it has many mentions in various religions throughout world history. But, today's reason for it being my hero is something a little more sinister. Salt has also been used throughout history as a weapon of war. When Rome finally defeated Carthage, and razed that city to the ground, they sowed the earth with salt to make sure that nothing would ever grow there again. Now, if you read this blog, you know of my ongoing battle with Mother Nature (the Bitch). Well, today I decided to go all Roman on her, and salt a little portion of the earth under my possession. It was not to be merely symbolic, it was for the purpose of helping a couple of well entrenched stumps (the remnants of trees that I have cut down) come out of the ground. I tried at two separate places to buy large quantities of salt, and was foiled at both. The first place I tried, the people looked at me like I had two heads when I asked if they even HAD salt. Salt? Do we sell salt? was the puzzled reply I received to my question. I almost said "yes, salt you know the stuff Romans used to salt the earth at Carthage" but, I figured that would probably only result in them calling the police, and asking them to remove me from the premises because I was clearly a madman. The second place I tried did have salt, but only in small packages. Clearly, my need for salt is a need for salt in large amounts, and I asked an employee if perhaps, they sold salt in larger portions. Once again, I was looked at as if I was an alien, and told "no." I did not bother with any further attempts to find large sacks of salt, and purchased an smaller amount just to get the ball rolling on my project of salting my own little bit of earth. So, for all its commercial, food, and symbolic uses, Salt (sodium chloride), you are my (276th) hero of the day.
Friday, May 28, 2010
The suave looking fellow above is one Ian Fleming born this day 1908, in London, England. We all pretty much know why he is our hero of this particular day. He created James Bond, who will all by himself grace these pages on day, and any fellow who can create a smooth motherfucker like James Bond deserves to be a hero in his own right. Fleming had a pretty interesting life in his own right, after leaving the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst early, he went abroad to study foreign languages. During World War II, he hatched all sorts of evil plots and plans to do grief to the Nazis. He even sort of commanded a group of elite commandos for a while. Some of Bond's traits, and some of the names of his villains are drawn from Fleming's war experiences. The name James Bond actually came from a family friend who was a fairly famous ornithologist of the same name. Imagine that James Bond international spy, and bird watcher! In all he wrote 12 novels and nine short stories with Bond as the subject, and I am quite sure that a few of us have seen a lot of the films based upon his books. Like Bond, he lived large. He smoked too much, drank too much, and loved too much, and eventually it caught up with him. But, for bringing to live the super secret agent that we all want to be, Ian Fleming (May 28th, 1908-August 12, 1964, at the age of 56from a heart attack), you are my (275th) hero of the day.
Thursday, May 27, 2010
The worst part is wondering how you’ll find the strength tomorrow to go on doing what you did today and have been doing for much too long, where you’ll find the strength for all that stupid running around, those projects that come to nothing, those attempts to escape from crushing necessity, which always founder and serve only to convince you one more time that destiny is implacable, that every night will find you down and out, crushed by the dread of more and more sordid and insecure tomorrows.
That little paragraph is by turns, savage, bleak, and fucking beautiful, and it is a fantastic paragraph, it explains a lot about his world view, and it also happens to be one that I, in my more morose moments, share. The book made him a star, and he would go on to write a lot of other books that are on my to read list. I highly recommend you reading him, but be warned a little Celine goes a long way, and be prepared to be shocked, impressed, disturbed, and a little scared by him. However, each of those feelings is worth it, and you should start, as he did, with "Journey to the End of the Night." It is a highly autobiographical work, and if you keep your courage up to finish it, it will have a profound effect upon you. His record during World War II does not make for pretty reading, he was a pretty solid anti-Semite, and eventually fled France because he feared being executed for treason. He was found guilty, in absentia, of high treason, and spent a year on death row in Denmark (to where he had fled). I can't says that I condone his politics, or his views on race, but I can put that aside when I read him, because his prose is just fucking brilliant. He was eventually allowed to return to France, and regained some of his earlier fame. However, he does remain a polarizing figure to this day. Not for me, I am solidly pro-Celine, and I am pretty sure he would tell his detractors to go fuck themselves, and for that, and for writing some outstanding prose in a style that cannot be duplicated (Charles Bukowski wrote, "First of all read Celine, the greatest writer of 2,000 years.") Louis Ferdinand Celine (May 27th, 1894-July 1st, 1961, at the age of 67 of ruptured aneurysm), you are my (274th) hero of the day.
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
The lantern jawed fellow above is one Marion Mitchell Morrison, otherwise known as John Wayne, born this day 1907 in Winterset, Iowa. His is the classical Ameican movie star, an icon of the strong willed, square jawed, tough as nail, male role model that doesn't take shit from anyone. To attempt to condense his impact, and biography into a blog post would be unfair to him, and is beyond my limited talent. Plus, I am actually exhausted mentally today because I had to do some "real" lawyering for a change. My favourite line from John Wayne is "I'm not going to hit ya" "I'm not going to hit ya, and then just before he hits the fellow he had been saying this to "The hell I'm not!" That is John Wayne in all his cowboy/war hero greatness. His political leaning were, in my opinion, horrid, but he was "The Duke" and who am I to say a bad word about him or his politics. I confess that a lot of his Westerns don't do too much for me, but the one that I like are fucking awesome. Several of his war movies are just plain brilliant, and you can't really imagine anyone but John Wayne in them. He was the model of what it was to be "a real man." His last film "The Shootist" is awesome as well, and made all the more touching because the role he plays, a dying gunfighter, was pretty much what he was at the time. He was dying when he made the film, and this was his last round-up so to speak. He was one hell of a man, and one hell of an actor, and for those reasons, John "The Duke" Wayne (May 26th, 1907-June 11th, 1979, at the age of 72 from cancer) you are my (273rd) hero of the day.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Monday, May 24, 2010
The lovely lady above is one Queen Victoria born this day 1819, in London, England. She was the only legitimate child of the fourth son of George III, and when King George IV died in 1830. When King William IV died in June of 1837, the, just turned 18, Victoria became Queen of England. Her actual first name was Alexandrina, and at first she was expected to reign under the name of Alexandrina Victoria, but, at her request, her first name was dropped, and she became Queen Victoria. It was to be a long reign, 63 years and 7 months to be exact, longer than any other king or queen of England, and the longest reign of any female in the world. They named an entire era after her, so she must have been pretty impressive. She started the tradition of bride's wearing white at their wedding, by wearing white at her own wedding in 1840 to Prince Albert. Theirs was a happy union, and his death in 1861 devastated her. She was to wear black for the remainder of her life, and was referred to as the Widow of Windsor because Albert died at Windsor Castle. Her withdrawal from her duties after her widowhood made her, for a time, quite unpopular, but by the time her Golden Jubilee came around in 1887 (to mark the 50th year of her reign), she was once again an extremely popular monarch. She survived numerous assassination attempts, and the law governing high treason underwent radical changes to death with all the lunatics that tried to kill her. Her face adorned the first ever postage stamp, the design based upon a portrait of her when she was 15 years of age. She is supposedly the source of the quote that is the title of this post, but the sources are pretty slim. Either way, she was a fantastic queen, and for over 63 years! So, for reigning over perfidious Albion for so very long, and for having an entire era named after her, Queen Victoria (May 24th, 1819-January 22nd, 1901, at the age of 81 of a cerebral hemorrhage), you are my (271th) hero(ine) of the day.
Sunday, May 23, 2010
The fellow above is one Carl Linneaus born this day 1707 in Rashult, Sweden. He and I are polar opposites, he loved nature and plants, whilst I have spent the larger part of this weekend killing plants, and waging war on nature. Clearly, he never had one of the plants that he loved so much try to kill him. Attempted murder has a chilling effect on friendships. Linneaus' claim to fame, and his claim to the hero podium is based mostly upon him being the fellow that laid the foundation for binomial nomenclature. He gained most of his higher education at Uppsala University, where he eventually became a professor of botany. He did some serious traveling throughout Sweden, collecting plants, and classifying them. He decided that the old way of naming plants was a bit too confusing, and came up with a system for naming things with just a species and genus name. Thus, making life a whole lot simpler for plant freaks all around the world. He helped to found the Royal Swedish Academy of Science, and published a couple of master works in which he classified over 7,300 species. For all of his good work, the King of Sweden ennobled him, and he took the name Carl von Linne. Part of the irony of his life was that a man known for naming things changed his name, and that name was actually taken by his father from a linden tree in the family's front yard. Though the way that he grouped plants and animals has been changed a bit over the years, and advances in science have changed a lot of the way things he did things, the foundational principles of his naming system remain in place. He was acclaimed world wide by some pretty impressive fellows, like Rousseau, von Goethe, and Strindberg. Like I said before, I doubt me and Carl would have been fast friends, considering my life goal is to obliterate all the lovely little plants that he wanted to name. Maybe a five hour regime of weed eating, lawn mowing, and stump removal would change his views on the joys of plants, but I can still appreciate his efforts. So, for helping to name all the plants that I am intent on destroying, Carl Linnaeus (May 23rd, 1707-January 10th, 1778 from a stroke at the age of 70) you are my (270th) hero of the day.
Saturday, May 22, 2010
Friday, May 21, 2010
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Monday, May 17, 2010
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Saturday, May 15, 2010
The portly fellow above is one Arthur Schnitzler, born this day 1862 in Vienna, Austria. He was born the son of a famous Austrian doctor, and followed in his father's footsteps (at least for a little while). He obtained his doctorate of medicine from the University of Vienna in 1885, and worked at the Vienna General Hospital for a while, but eventually he threw over his medical career in order to write. Must have been nice to toss away all those years of work, and education in medicine, and just write. I guess bravery, talent, and family money sort of helped make the decision a bit easier. One of his most famous works is "La Ronde" in which ten pairs of character are seen before and after the sexual act. The story begins and ends with a prostitute (thus, the circle of life is complete). The work caused a HUGE scandal in the world of German theatre, and ended with him being acquitted after a six day obscenity trial. He was a fairly close friend of Sigmund Freud, and Freud's envy of Schnitzler's insight into the depth of the human mind, is well known. Another sure sign of his talent is that he works were later branded "Jewish filth" by one Adolph Hitler. Pretty much anything that Hitler panned was probably good stuff. He once responded to an interviewers question about the subjects he chose to write about, he replied "I write of love and death, What else is there?" That sums it up about as well as it can be, and far be it from me to try to put anymore of a twist on his writings. He was a intrepid diary keeper, keeping from from about the age of 17 until two days before his death. In it he describes numerous, numerous sexual contacts he had throughout his life, even going so far as to keep count of the number of times he and certain woman had sex. One of them did the deed with him 400 times in the year 1888. Talk about a busy man, and that was not even the only girlfriend he "pleased" that year. The work that most of our most familiar with is the novella "Dream Story," upon which the Stanley Kubrick film "Eyes Wide Shut" is based. Hey, anything with Nicole Kidman is worth a look. So, for all of those racy plays, novellas, and novels, and for being one hell of a lover boy, Arthur Schnitzler (May 15th, 1862-October 21, 1931, at the age of 59 of a brain hemorrhage), you are my (263rd) hero of the day.
Our first hero of this day is the fellow above. His name is Joseph Cotten, and he was born this day 1905 in Petersburg, Virginia. After graduating high school, he got a gig with an advertising agency, but eventually became a theatre critic. That work led to him decided to walk the boards himself, and he made his Broadway debut in 1930. During this time, he met and became friends with another hero of ours, Orson Welles. He joined Welles' theatre company, and eventually got the role as the main character's best friend in Welles' masterpiece, Citizen Kane. That role was superbly done, and he did other films with Welles, the best of which, in my opinion, was "The Third Man." His character drives the film, and his performance is wonderful. He was never nominated for an Academy Award, which is a damn shame, but he has one of the best quotes of all time when describing his career he said, "Orson Welles list "Citizen Kane" as his best film, Alfred Hitchcock opts for "Shadow of a Doubt", and Sir Carol Reed chose "The Third Man", and I am in all of them." That pretty much sums it up. All three of those men have graced this blog on the appropriate day, and today I would be remiss if I did not pick M. Cotten. He also had a pretty good role opposite Charles Boyer, and Ingrid Bergman in "Gaslight." Clearly, a man that walked amongst heroes, and is a hero in his own right. So, for all those wonderful roles played to perfection Joseph Cotten (May 15th, 1905-February 6th, 1994, at the age of 88), you are my (262nd) hero of the day.
Friday, May 14, 2010
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The compassionate lady above is one Florence Nightingale, born this day 1820, in Florence, Italy. She was born into a well heeled, i.e. rich family, and was named after her place of birth (as were both of her sisters). I am pretty sure anyone with any sort of schooling whatsoever has heard of her, and knows why she is on the hero(ine) podium for today. I exhausted myself with my lengthy post earlier in the day, and am just too lazy/tired to do the good lady justice. She is laid the foundation for modern, professional nursing by founding a nursing school at St. Thomas' Hospital, London. Today nurses take what is called the Nightingale Oath as they enter their profession, and today is celebrated as International Nurses Day. She got her nickname "the Lady with the Lamp," and rose to fame for her tireless nursing efforts during the Crimean War. She was a bit of an odd duck, and for all her good work for the causes of women, held women generally in contempt, and even referred to herself as a "man of action." However, let's not let that little oddity overshadow a life well-spent devoted to good causes for mankind in general. So, for providing as much confront as humanely possible to numerous men who were in great need of it, Florence Nightingale (May 12th, 1820-August 13th 1910, at the age of 90), you are my (259th) hero(ine) of the day, and I apologize for giving you such an unworthy post.
Bear with me, and the image above will become a little more clear. Before that clarification we have to take a little side trip, and I hope I do not lose you, or myself along the way. The side trip begins with an apology, an apology for the badness of yesterday's post. I have the idea that writing, like a lot of things, can be an "in form" type of activity. Much like a striker who just has to kick the ball forward and it goes in the goal, form can be outstanding, or in the alternative, form can be fleeting. Sometimes no matter how close you are to goal, and no matter how many glorious chances you get, you just can not put the biscuit in the basket. I feel that my form for yesterday was "off." I can only hope that the saying "form is fleeting, class is permanent" applies to writing as well (whilst also hoping that I have class). Either way I am sorry, and will try to do better in the future (isn't that what we all say?).
The above image of clowns is there for a couple of reason(s), one it is a direct challenge to a blogging friend of mine (and you know who you are), and two, clowns are important to this post (other than the clown writing it, that is). For that to happen, we have to take a trip into the murky depths of my past. When I was a child, and yes I was a child once, my small town did not have much in its favour. It was, and remains a dull, drab, place, where the sidewalks are rolled up at about 8 p.m. So you can imagine the excitement when, in my 13th year, the circus came to town. It wasn't much of a circus, the elephant (yes one elephant) looked about 100 years old, and the big top was crumbling a bit, but for my town, it was the end all of entertainment. We had not seen this much excitement since the Civil War. It was THE place to be, and after doing my chores (otherwise known as being slave labour for my parents), and receiving my pittance of an allowance, I raced to see the sights, hear the sounds, and mostly importantly eat the exotic food of the circus (hey, I did say I was reared in a backwater, funnel cake was exotic I tell you). There I was wandering around taking it all in, the slightly overweight strongman, the ancient elephant, the lion tamer who looked just a little too tame, and there was no lion which I thought was odd, but what the hell did I know? I was 13.
Well, as children are wont to do, I wandered off from the wolf that raised me, and got my goofy ass lost. Too much sugar had ruined my sense of direction, and I found myself wandering the back alleys between the big top, and the bearded lady (is that really supposed to be a lady?). That is when it all went pear shaped, throw in a bearded lady, and shit goes bad quick. I noticed a knot of people gathered together, and thought "hey, I will go ask those adults the way home." They were dressed a little funny, so I did not just rush up and start to bawl, but hung back a bit so I could sort out if they were the "not to take candy from" type of strangers. Of course, they were clowns, and they were having a VERY animated conversation about something. Being the inquisitive type, I decided to take a listen to see what a group of such gaudily dressed gentlemen could be talking about. This was, in the terms of the day, a shit idea. I got a good listen, and even at 13, I knew that this was not something clowns should be discussing. My town was tiny, and we did not have a lot going on, but we had a bank. That bank was one of about 3 in the county, and our "police force" consisted of about three people, one of which could not work on the weekends because he was a bootlegger on Saturday, and a preacher on Sunday. I soon found out that the group of clowns (literally in this case) were talking about the bank, and were discussing what appeared to be making an "unscheduled withdrawal from the bank. I was too young to do much banking (my allowance was about 5 bucks a week, the piggy bank I possessed had more than enough room for any left over allowance). Now these were clowns, and they seemed to be drinking (there was a bottle in the typical paper bag that they were passing around), and maybe they were talking out of their collective ass, I did not know, and more importantly I was in no real mood to burst into their little chat and find out. I figured, since they were not locals, that they had no account at our little bank, and even I was clever enough to understand that they were planning a heist. This was when I decided that the wolf that raised me probably really needed to see me urgently about something, anything, and I tried to sneak away. Well, as you can guess me sneaking is not something that goes well. Even at 13, the force of my personality (my words) was too much to allow for me to do anything but steal the show when I appeared (and I also usually stole some candy too). One small trip over a tent rope, and one heavy fall later, I found myself the center of the clowns (unwanted) attention. Needless to say, but I will say it anyway, they were less than pleased. A couple of them were the "evil" clown type, and figured that one lost child would make a lovely addition to the circus as a dwarf (they even had some suggestions as to how to keep me from getting taller).
Unlike the men and women I blog about on a daily basis, I am no hero. I am not one today, and I sure as fuck was not one at the tender age of 13. The only reason I made it to the age of 14 and beyond is due to one of the group (I assume the leader) took pity upon me, and kept me from being a perpetual sideshow. He must have been moved by the, quite real, tears I was shedding(yes, I can actually cry, or at least used to be able to). He dissuaded the others from their evil plan, and told me that "today was my lucky day." While he was arguing for me to be allowed to continue my growth spurt, I was able to determine that is what clowns do. There is some "head clown" somewhere in the world, I did not figure out where, that controls all clowns, be they the circus type, or the type that goes to little Annie's fourth birthday party (how much silver comes up missing after having a group of 10-15 wild children around that is put down to being lost?). It seems that they are worse than the mob, better organized, and entirely unsuspected of being evil (this was before Pennywise raised some suspicion about clowns, and terrorized an entire generation of children). They had the perfect plan, and perfect get away, they went from Podunk town to Podunk town, robbing banks, and moving on to the next town in the line. So, there I was in my 13th year, and had stumbled upon the great clown conspiracy. Only because the "head" clown took pity on a crying, fat kid, am I here to tell this tale today. However, all was not going to be forgiven, a vow of silence was extracted, and a threat (which I took to be quite real) to come back an turn me into that dwarf was made. I gave the vow willingly, and took the threat seriously. I am now breaking that 27 year silence, and plan to never go to the circus again, or have a clown over for a party. Here's hoping I have covered my tracks enough to keep me from being tracked down, and killed by vengeful clowns. I was allowed to return to the more trafficked area of the circus, but not before the "evil" clown faction made sure I would not forget them, they beat me up, not took badly, and were good enough to make my "I fell down" story easy to believe, but they whipped my ass. Thus, this was the first time I was beaten up by clowns, it was not to be the last.
So there it is my challenge to at least one of my fellow bloggers (probably two actually), but my legion of readers are welcome to write some experience, good or bad, they have had with clowns.
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
The fellow above is one Karl Fredrich Hieronymus, Freiherr von Munchhausen, born this day 1720 in Bodenwerder, in the present day Germany. We mostly know of him from the "disease" called Munchhausen by proxy, but he was a real life fellow. He joined the Russian army, fought in two campaigns against the terrible Turks, and came back home with a mind full of tall tales. Some of those tales included his riding cannonballs, and traveling to the moon, though I am not sure he rode cannonballs to the Moon, now that would have been a feat. There are actually two syndromes named after the good Baron. The first is Munchhausen syndrome, in which a person will feign, or simulate an illness to gain attention and sympathy. It was named in Munchhausen's honour by Richard Asher in 1951 (he named it out of respect for the Baron), the other syndrome is Munchhausen by proxy in a which person projects an fake illness onto someone in their care in order to appear the martyr. So for telling some cracking good yarns (or tall tales) that are still worth telling today, and having not one, but two illnesses named for him Baron von Munchhausen (May 11th, 1720-February 22nd, 1797, at the age of 76), you are my (258th) hero of the day.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Sunday, May 09, 2010
Today I am less of a grave man, but I am still not entirely over yesterday's issue. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not, but I am quite sure that no one really gives a rat's piss or not, so I move on with the show. Today is Mother's Day in my country, and I guess I could elect to have as hero(ines) of the day all of those mother's out there, but I think that Mother's Day is one day where we tend to remember, usually fondly, our particular mother. We may remember our friend's mothers or our friends who are mothers, and for most of us that is still a fond memory. We remember the "June Cleaver" type mothers on this day, and I think we shove the undesirable part of the truth towards a back alley in our memories and minds. We don't remember the mother who ran her children into a pond, nor do we remember the fact that there are mothers out there that are about 22 years old, and have 4 or 5 children already. They are baby machines, not mothers. I understand, and accept the fact that this is not a popular viewpoint, but those are the types of "mothers" I see on a day to day basis, and so perhaps I am a bit jaded. I do not get to see too many of the June Cleaver or Clair Huxtable type of mothers. Plus, the wolf that raised me, while doing the best she could with the material she had (i.e. me) is not going to win any good housekeeping awards either. So, I apologize to the mothers of the world, but you just could not quite overcome those problems, and make it onto my hero(ine) podium. Therefore, I chose a year to be my hero, and not just any year. As you can tell by the picture above, it was a year that the lager I choose to poison myself with (otherwise known as Kronenbourg 1664), was first brewed. May 4th, 1664 to be exact, now I hear the gasps of "you drink a French beer? We knew your loyalty, and sanity were suspect." Well, yes I do drink a French beer, and my loyalty is to beer, my sanity is another question entirely. In mine defense, it is brewed in Strasbourg, France, which has been German several times in it's history. So, at least my beer is from the "German" part of France. 1664 was a leap year, it started on a Tuesday, and had a few interesting things happen in it, other than the invention of my beer. New Jersey became a colony of England, the Royal Marines were first formed, the Dutch surrendered New Amsterdam to the English, the French East India Company was formed, the Swedish statesman Arvid Horn was born, the Ottomans lost the battle of Saint Gotthard to the Austrian Empire, and future Sultan Mustafa II was born. These are just a few of the other reasons that 1664 was a good year for other than just beer, but mostly, for me at least, 1664 is a hero because of the beer. Though it might, on occasion, make me howl at the moon, and do some really stupid shit, it is still my choice of beer, and the major reason that for today the year 1664 (MDCLXIV), you are my (256th), hero of the day.
Saturday, May 08, 2010
Friday, May 07, 2010
Thursday, May 06, 2010
The young, rakish, looking fellow above is one Orson Welles, born this day 1915, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. I have debated with myself for the majority of this day on M. Welles' hero status. I arrived home to find his magus opus playing on TV. I am referring to "Citizen Kane," and I am slightly embarrassed to say that until today, I had never seen it before. It is rated, in many circles, as the greatest American film of all time. I watched, and hope, and pondered that statement, and I regret to say that I can not agree. It is a fantastic film, and Welles was a fucking genius as an actor, and as a director. He was miles ahead of his time, and if he had been born later, he might have had a career that went from one outstanding success to another. However, he was born when he was, and therefore his career had quite a number of unmitigated disasters. I have not seen a great number of his films, but the one that I absolutely love is "The Third Man," and it is for that role in that wonderful film that I have come off the fence and put him on the hero podium for today. His speech from the top of the Vienna Ferris wheel is priceless, and is delivered with perfection. Same can be said of the scene in which he talks about the cuckoo clock. It is for that role as the, quite frankly, rotten bastard Harry Lime, that I will forever remember him. I will overlook the later stages of his life when he ballooned up to over 400 pounds, and became as odd as a duck whacked upon the head. The making of "Citizen Kane" did gain him quite a few, very powerful enemies, and if that had not happened I believe he would be considered the greatest (rather than just one of the greatest) American director to ever put a story on film. However, he did remain true to his vision, and for that and all those fantastic films, Orson Welles (May 6th, 1915-October 10th, 1985, at the age of 70 of a heart attack), you are my (254th) hero of the day.
Wednesday, May 05, 2010
The impressively bearded fellow above is one Karl Marx, born this day 1818 in Trier, Prussia. As I stated in today's first brief post, I am not in the mood, nor do I possess the skill to do justice to my hero(es) of this particular day. We all should know Marx, we all should have read a least a little bit of or about him, we all think we understand more of him than we do. The one quote that I feel the most "connection" with by Marx is The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles." I like to think that I possess very little racism or sexism in my day to day thinking. I understand that a little bit of both of those unattractive qualities are probably unavoidable in today's society, but I do not doubt for a minute that class is the great divide, in my thinking, that separates modern society. The division between the have and the have nots is even greater today than it was in Marx's time. There may be, on average, more of the "haves" but the gulf between them and the "have nots" has widened considerably. Marx knew the have not life, he pretty much lived it the majority of his life. The hand to mouth existence that is the great struggle for a large part of the world's population during any given time, was familiar ground to Marx. I can not claim, with any conviction, to be living that type of life today, but there were times when hand to mouth was my existence as well. Looking back at those times, I have a tendency to think that perhaps I am a better person for that experience, but that could just be some sort of fucked up nostalgia for times past. I am pretty sure that at the time I was living this hand to mouth existence I was desperately hoping for my money ship to come in, and give me a better life. I don't pretend to be able to grasp 98% of Marx's thought, but I do know that he is probably one of the most misinterpreted thinkers of all time. He once proclaimed with firm belief that he was "not a Marxist." That little statement should tell you a great deal about the battle to interpret, and use Marx as a basis for all sorts of harebrained ideas, both political and economical. Next to that long biography of Kierkegaard on my bookshelf is an equally lengthy biography of Marx, this should tell you two things one, I read way too much, and two, you should probably look somewhere else for an in-depth analysis of Marx and his thoughts. This is about class, and don't be silly ALL things are, in my opinion, at their core about class. I am of the decidedly lower class, and live by the motto, stated more than once in this blog, of "once a prole, always a prole." A prole I was born, and a prole I shall die, just like it should be. I might be a comedy and an intellectual snob, but there is no upward, social movement in my future. A prole I remain, and in some ways that is fine with me. So, for showing us that "workers of the world" need to "unite, and cast off their chains," and that being a prole is not like being a leper, Karl Marx (May 5th, 1818-March 14th, 1883, at the age of 64), you are my (251st) hero of the day.
The fellow above is one Soren Kierkegaard, born this day 1813, in Copenhagen, Denmark. I read a lot of Kierkegaard when I was in college, and I read a 800 page biography of him about two years ago, therefore a pithy blog post is not going to come close to doing his life and work justice. Especially one written, by me and by me in a rush. I will say that, at its root, Kierkegaard's thought is mostly much too complex for my pudding like brain, and we disagree on one VERY important idea, i.e. the existence of a god, but it is the existentialism of his philosophy that attracted me.
His "Diary of a Seducer" is a fabulous read, and "The Sickness Unto Death" in which he deals with despair is (or at least the parts I understand) outstanding as well. I read a great deal of his journals with delight, and even understood what he meant by having a "great earthquake" that shook him loose from his moorings, and led to a great deal of his writings. In his case, it was the breaking off of his engagement with Regina Olsen that propelled him upon the path that he eventually blazed in modern philosophical thought, might was not quite as "great", and does not seem to have led to any pinnacle of great modern thinking, but it was an earthquake nonetheless, and probably necessary for me to have at that time in my life.
Like Sartre, and Heidegger, I glory in Kierkegaard as a philosopher, but I cannot follow him in his "leap of faith" as a religious thinker. It is the point where our paths diverge, but while on the same path as him, I learned (and continue to learn, I hope, a lot). One of the most quoted passage from his writings comes from his journal entry for August 1st, 1835, when a 22 year old (think on that for a second) wrote, "The thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die." Pretty deep stuff, and very deep stuff for a 22 year old man to be pondering, but that is what he was the great ponderer.
So, for writing all of those pages to ponder upon, and for being a source to turn to when faced with my own existential crisis, Soren Kierkegaard (May 5th, 1813-November 11th, 1855, at the age of 42), you are my (250th) hero of the day.