Tuesday, May 16, 2017

A one anna two anna let me blow my brains out


Lawrence Welk died on this day in 1992. He was the cause of the slow death of millions of kids growing up in the 'fifties. Seeing his show now, one can look on it with amusement, but to a kid seeing it live every week, his parents looking on enthralled, it was an inkling that there is something malevolent at the heart of life.

While reading about Welk on the Web, I came across This great site   

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

If they'd known she was dying they'd have baked her a cake


Lady Nancy Astor died on this day in 1964. She was the first woman to serve as a member of the British Parliament, as a member of the House of Commons.

Her last words, when she woke briefly during her last illness and found all her family around her bedside:

"Am I dying or is this my birthday?"


Friday, April 28, 2017

V for Victory


Basketball coach Jim Valvano died on this day in 1993, after an inspiring fight with cancer ("Never give up") that engaged millions of people who weren't even basketball fans.

"Be a dreamer," Valvano said. "If you don't know how to dream, you're dead."

To see Valvano's famous speech at the Espy Awards show months before he died,
Go here

To find out about the Jimmy V Foundation for Cancer Research, Visit here

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Dusting off the Bard


William Shakespeare died on this day in 1616. He was also born on April 23 in 1564 (open to debate).

The slab above his grave reads:

Good friend, for Jesus' sake forebeare
To digg the dust enclosed heare;
Bleste be the man that spares thes stones,
And curst be he that moves my bones
.

**********************************************

Fear no more the heat o' the sun,
Nor the furious winter's rages;
Thou thy worldly task hast done,
Home art gone, and ta'en thy wages:
Golden lads and girls all must,
As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o' the great;
Thou art past the tyrant's stroke:
Care no more to clothe and eat;
To thee the reed is as the oak:
The sceptre, learning, physic, must
All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning-flash,
Nor the all-dreaded thunder-stone;
Fear not slander, censure rash;
Thou hast finish'd joy and moan:
All lovers young, all lovers must
Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exerciser harm thee!
Nor no witchcraft charm thee!
Ghost unlaid forbear thee!
Nothing will come near thee!
Quiet consummation have;
And renowned be thy grave!


(Cymbeline, IV, 2)



For one writer's opinion of Shakespeare, visit Today in Cynic's Almanac

Monday, April 17, 2017

Be nice and die

French writer Marie de Sevigne died on this day in 1696. She was famous for her witty letters to her daughter.

She wrote:

"It seldom happens, I think, that a man has the civility to die when all the world wishes it."

This is also the date of death of Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin died peacefully in his sleep on April 17, 1790, at age 84. His funeral at Christ Church in Philadelphia attracted the largest crowd of mourners ever known, an estimated 20,000. He was buried beside his wife, Deborah, who had died 16 years before him.

The tombstone on their grave said "Benjamin and Deborah Franklin: 1790."

This inscription had been spelled out in Franklin's last will and testament. As a young man, he had written this epitaph for himself:

The body of
B. Franklin, Printer
(Like the Cover of an Old Book
Its Contents torn Out
And Stript of its Lettering and Gilding)
Lies Here, Food for Worms.
But the Work shall not be Lost;
For it will (as he Believ'd) Appear once More
In a New and More Elegant Edition
Revised and Corrected
By the Author.

Of the thousands of maxims and pithy sayings that Franklin wrote down, here are a few on death:

"Many men die at twenty-five and aren't buried until they are seventy-five."

"Three may keep a secret if two of them are dead."

"If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing."

And, of course:

"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Roll over, Beethoven, and tell us again

Ludwig van Beethoven died on this day in 1827.

His last words are subject to debate. Here are some conjectures:

"Pity, pity...too late."

"Applaud, my friends, the comedy is finished." (Plaudite, amici, comedia finita est.; the formula traditionally used to end a performance of commedia dell'arte.)

"I shall hear in Heaven."

"I feel as if up to now I had written no more than a few notes."

(To his friend Johann Hummel, who was at his bedside): "Is it not true, Hummel, that I have some talent after all?"

"There, do you hear the bell? Don't you hear it ringing? The curtain must drop. Yes! My curtain is falling."

One biographer says he said nothing, simply shook his fists defiantly as a thunderstorm raged outside.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Or the thought of murder


The French novelist Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle), author of The Red and the Black and The Charterhouse of Parma, died on this day in 1842.

"True love makes the thought of death frequent, easy, without terrors;" Stendhal wrote, "it merely becomes the standard of comparison, the price one would pay for many things."

Our favorite quotation by Stendhal:

"The only excuse for God is that he does not exist."