Saturday, July 03, 2010


There are at least two heroes for today, but since everyone's hero (i.e. me) has lost what I can only describe as an unhealthy seven pounds in the last six days (according to the scale about ten minutes ago at least) I am too tired, weak, and hungry to write them both. Also, I have a hot dinner date. Who is she you ask? "She" is a hot plate of smothered tots (ambrosia of the gods I tell you), and I do not like to keep them waiting. I figure a plate full of potatoes smothered with two kinds of cheese, bacon, and some sour cream will probably get those seven pounds back in about 15 minutes. Hero number will just have to go into the reserve pile, and make an appearance another day.

The skinny fellow above is one Franz Kafka, born this day 1883 in Prague, Austria-Hungary. He was born the son of a "huge, selfish, overbearing, businessman," and probably did not have a lot in common with dear, old dad. When he first entered university, Kafka was going to study chemistry, but decided to switch to the study of law, mainly because the coursework was longer, and it allowed him to take classes in stuff in which he actually had an interest. The law thing also pleased Daddy Kafka, and I am sure that had something to do with his choice. After obtaining his law degree, Kafka eventually got a job with the Workers Accident Insurance Institute, the job was his way of paying the grocer's bill. His job was not overtaxing, it was describes as a "Brotberuf" (meaning literally "bread job) a job that paid the bills, while Kafka wrote world changing literature. I can feel his pain, in some ways my job is a bread job, except I am not writing world changing literature (they won't be replacing "Kafkaesque" with my name anytime soon). Kafka claimed to hate his job ( I can feel his pain there), but was, by all accounts, a diligent employee. He was even tasked with writing the company's annual report, and was quite proud of the results. Can you imagine your company's annual report written by Kafka? Mind blowing works of art disguised as annual reports.

He had a on again off again girlfriend named Frances Bauer, with whom he carried on a 5 year "romance" (mostly by letter), and was even engaged to be married to her, twice. It all ended in tears, mostly her tears sad to say. He eventually contracted, in 1917, tuberculosis, which would eventually lead to his death in 1924. His death was quite horrible, his tuberculosis made his throat so raw that he could not swallow, and since the whole IV thing had not gotten around to being invented, Kafka literally starved to death. I am an American, and as such I don't have much of a sense of irony, but I wonder if it is ironic that the man who wrote the lovely short story "The Hunger Artist" ended up starving to death. It might not be ironic, but it sure is sad.

While he was alive, Kafka only published a few short stories, and left instructions to his friend, Max Brod, to burn all his diaries, manuscripts, letters, and anything else after he died. Luckily for world literature M. Brod decided to ignore Kafka's wishes, and awesome books like "The Castle," "The Trial," and "Amerika" were only published after Kafka's death. Thank you Max Brod, and so, for writing those beautiful stories all the while holding down a bread job, Franz Kafka (July 3rd, 1883- June 3rd, 1924, at the age of 40 of tuberculosis), you are my (314th) hero of the day.

P.S. I also just realized that I am currently older than Kafka was when he died, and have wasted my life. Thanks Franz now I am going to need beer(s) to wash down those smothered tots.

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