Robert (gurdonark) wrote,

this day in history

"Self-deprecating humor is a wonderful survival mechanism. It gives you a chance to get the first lick in against yourself, as opposed to letting someone else do it"--George Hamilton

"When you make a horror film, it plants a seed of doubt in your mind. Every night when I went home, I made sure the door was locked"--Rebecca Gayheart

"He's strictly rhythm. He doesn't make it cry or sing".--Mark Knopfler

"What do you want me to do? Stop shooting now and release it as The Five Commandments?"--Cecil B. DeMille

"It is with words as with sunbeams — the more they are condensed, the deeper they burn"--Robert Southey

"A people's literature is the great textbook for real knowledge of them. The writings of the day show the quality of the people as no historical reconstruction can."--Edith Hamilton

"I tried to tell you in the night that with a girl like you, I could do without guided tours. You tried to tell me in the day that your leading exports were textiles and iron ore. Hasta Manana, monsieur, were the only words I knew for sure. Hasta Manana Monsieur, were the three little words that I knew you'd adore"--Ron Mael

On August 12, I always mean to find that portion of the newspaper which tells who was born today, and what historical events happened today. I was born on an August 12, you see, and thus the date must have some deep metaphoric meaning. I'm not yet sure what mystical interconnection I have with the actor George Hamilton, the country singer Porter Waggoner, the actress Rebecca Gayheart (note how deftly I avoid positing any suppressed desire for literal interaction with RG) and the date of the last US pullout from Vietnam, but it all must mean something.

I don't believe in astrology as a scientific predictor of present or future events, though I respect those who do. I do love the idea of oracular devices as metaphor, as just the sort of things Magi pay attention to in stories. Yet somehow I attach some significance to the fact that I was born on August 12. I am a Leo, and I feel leonine, even if I usually act muttonesque.

I have all sorts of intellectual heroes. Some are perhaps the conventional ones. Some are unconventional ones. One less conventional one with whom I share the August 12 birthday is the songwriter and musician Ron Mael. Sparks, his band, is far from everyone's taste. Their songs can sound like tinkertoy symphonies, set to a dance beat, over which an impossible falsetto drops obscure witticisms. But since I have been 14, in some ways, I've admired the Mael brothers and their quirky way of living. They've had a hit in virtually every country, and are always on the verge of being the next breakout artist in Lithuania. They always try to set aside their immense personal oddness and become commercial, but thankfully, in a justification of life's inner meaning, the oddness wins out, and they remain quirky artists. Sparks' only moment of big fame, ironically, was with teeny boppers, when they made an album which parodied British pop, which somehow became a huge hit in Britain. It's called Kimono My House, by the way, and perhaps all the silly things that make life worth living are summed up by that record. So maybe there is something to this sharing birthdays with celebrities. I don't tan anymore, though, so I'm not sure about George Hamilton.

I am 44 today. I don't "feel" 44. I feel 21. But not a hesitant 21. A "filled with energy, having fun" 21. I'm at the point in life where I feel like I can stop putting the jigsaw puzzle together piece by piece, and just let it all come together naturally into some immense gestalt. I'm not saying I have anything figured out. I'm saying that I'm settlin' into the figurin'.

I have a long list of things to do today. I typically don't take time off on birthdays, but instead just live them with a sense of quiet joy, of meditation. I've accomplished my first goal--find quotes by celebrities who share my birthday.
I omitted a Sir Mix-a-Lot quote, by the way.
Next, I'll probably look up my horoscope. Then I have dozens of work things to do. Tomorrow I have a quick one day trip to SF.

I learned this morning that in 1972, the Number 1 song on August 12 was "School's Out" by Alice Cooper. Maybe that's a good theme song. School's out. Completely.

You know, August 12 is not a really big day in history. Edison may have finished the phonograph on an August 12, but that claim is in doubt. The double treadle sewing machine was patented by Singer on an August 12. It's not a buzzy news day.

But it still is a special day for me, somehow, even though I don't make a big show of birthdays. It's a stock-taking day, a day of reassessment.

This has been a curious year for me. Next year will be a curious year, I see already. I believe that my entire remaining allotment will be filled with curious years.

When I was eight years old, a friend who was artistic hand-wrote a novel about me called "The Run-Away Birthday Cake". In this novel, I pursue a literally run away cake through outer space. As I recall, I was the protagonist of the work mainly so that recounting of admitted idiosyncracies not entirely flattering to me could be used to move the narrative along. But I remember being flattered anyway. The novel never achieved formal publication, having been destroyed by the author's father as a terrible waste of paper. I wish I had a copy of it yet.

An on-line eBay guy e mailed me asking me to write another volume of chess poems. Then he asked me if I had any old chess computers I might sell. I think he wants the computer more than the poetry.

I want to do more this coming year. I want to get more work done. I want to write paper letters to friends. I want to be more "in the moment", at home, at work, at play. I want to take this blaze of contradictions I've cobbled into a personality, and make it all jumble together.

But now I want to shower, and that may be enough for now.
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