Sunday, September 23, 2012

And Perry White said, okay, but don’t call me chief

Actor and worldwide heartthrob Rudolph Valentino died on this day in 1926. His last words:

"Don't worry, chief, it will be all right."

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

I'm asking for a reprieve

The idea that life is a term of penal servitude (The Cynic's Almanac, Sept. 18) is one touched upon, to one degree or another, by philosphers and writers from Plato and Saint Augustine to Schopenhauer and novelist Jonathan Franzen, whose The Corrections takes the subject as a theme.

Augustine said that our hearts are restless because this is not our true home. Jesus said as much. Go and sin no more, and perhaps you will one day be able to enter (or re-enter) the kingdom of Heaven.

None of us are without guilt, even as babes. How can that be, unless we have committed crimes elsewhere?

If we are all prisoners, how, then, should we be expected to act toward each other? Jesus said, of course, to love one another. But as criminals who can't recall their crimes, isn't it natural for us to be bitter, to think everyone worse than ourselves? Can we blamed for endlessly seeking some mean advantage? We can't help it -- we were born that way.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

And time uses mothballs

American novelist Thomas Wolfe died on this day in 1938. He wrote:

"Here, then, is man, this moth of time, this dupe of brevity and numbered hours, this travesty of waste and sterile action."

Friday, September 14, 2012

Dancing all the way

Dancer Isadora Duncan died on this day in 1927, when her scarf got caught in the wheels of a car she was riding in, pulling her out of the vehicle and strangling her. Her purported last words (although how she could say anything while being choked to death is a mystery lost to posterity):

"Goodbye, my friends. I go to glory."

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Walking the line, somewhere

The great Johnny Cash died on this day in 2003. He said:

"I wouldn't let anybody influence me into thinking I was doing the wrong thing by singing about death, hell and drugs."

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remember 9/11

Anniversary of the terrorist bombings in New York City, 9/11/01.

"The belief in a supernatural source of evil is not necessary; man alone is capable of every wickedness." -- Joseph Conrad.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Well, then, let's bury the hatchet

Danish writer Isak Denisen (nom de plume of Karen Blixen) died on this day in 1962. She wrote:

"Man and woman are two locked caskets, of which each contains the key to the other."

On Sept. 6, 1959, actor Edmund Gwenn (he played Santa Claus in the movie Miracle on 34th Street) died. As he was about to die, he was aksed if it was hard. He said:

"Yes, it's tough, but not as tough as doing comedy."

For more about the relationship between men and women, see Today in Cynic's Almanac

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

We have survived

French scientist and philosopher Auguste Comte died on this day in 1857. His last words (referring to himself):

"What an irreparable loss!"

Also on this day, in 1905, author Arthur Koestler was born. His book, Darkness at Noon, was an indictment of Stalinist Russia. He once wrote:

“From now on mankind will have to live with the idea of its death as a species.”

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Then he's not the friend of all humanity

Humanitarian Albert Schweitzer died on this day in 1965.

"He who is the friend of all humanity is not my friend." -- Moliere.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Make a hobbit of patience

Author J. R. R. Tolkein died on this day in 1973.

"Many that live deserve death. And some die that deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends." -- The Lord of the Rings.

Also on this day, in 2002, basketball coach Abe Lemons died. He once said:

"I don't jog. If I die I want to be sick."

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Well, everyone needs gainful employment

World War II began On September 1, 1939, ended on September 1, 1945.

"Man: An animal whose chief occupation is extermination of other animals and his own species." -- Ambrose Bierce.