“There is still no cure for the common birthday.”–John Glenn
We celebrate four birthdays today–er, at least I do. One is fictional, two historical and one hysterical (in more than one sense of the word).
Charles “Charlie” “Chuck” Brown, b. Oct 2, 1950
“Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Brownest.”–Linus
It was 62 years ago today that good ‘ol Charlie Brown made his first appearance in a syndicated cartoon. All of seven newspapers were visionary enough to pick up the start of what would become the most iconic series in the history of American comics. If Charles Schulz was writing today for the benefit of this blog, he might have used the term “multiverse” rather than “world” in the Linus quote above. No matter, Linus, ever the philosopher, and his rancorous sister Lucy, are actually the characters in my two favorite Peanuts strips of all time. In one Linus stares upward and ponders “Why is the sky blue.” Lucy blasts out “BECAUSE IT ISN”T GREEN,” sending Linus tumbling over backward with his beloved blanket flying asunder. In the other Linus turns tables on his evil sibling. As she rants on and on about how crowded the world is becoming and that too many babies are being born with too many mouths to feed, Linus looks her straight in the eye and suggests, “So why don’t you leave?”
Mohandas Karamchand “Mahatma” Gandhi, b. Oct. 2, 1869, d. Jan. 30, 1948
“Generations to come will scarce believe that such a one as this in flesh and blood ever walked upon this earth,” Albert Einstein describing Gandhi
Few things in this life render me speechless. Mohandas K. Gandhi is one of them. Glib as I may seem, I have no words to describe him. Well, perhaps this. If he had lived 2000 years ago, they would have named a religion after him. And, I might add, he would not have liked that one bit.
OK, maybe I’m not so speechless. But the best description of the man and his life I can offer is to refer you to the 1982 film Gandhi. It won 8 academy awards including best picture, director, screen play and actor, the latter award going to Ben Kingsley for his masterful depiction of the man. It was one of only two movies that ever left me speechless, the other was Schindler’s List.
Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx, b. Oct 2, 1890, d. August 19, 1977
“Quote me as saying I was mis-quoted,”–Groucho
Groucho…Gandhi…Charlie Brown…a cartoon character, a dead comic and a dead inspirational leader. What do they have in common other than the same birthday? They were all one of a kind; the mold was broken after each one of them was made. More importantly, they are collectively the inspiration for the “Ridiculous and Sublime” subtitle of this blog. And as ridiculous as Groucho may have seemed, there was some amazing wisdom in many of his funny words. “Marriage is an institution, and who wants to live in an institution?’ “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” “Humor is reason gone mad.” These are just a few of my favorites. I’ll save the rest for future posts.
Mark Jay “What? Me Worry?” Sackler, b. Oct 2, 1950
“Have you ever been told to think outside the box? My problem has always been, I can’t think inside of it.”–Me
In my case, I think they broke the mold before they made me. And while I’ve been called worse things than the sobriquet I gave myself above, I’m pretty sure that boring isn’t one of them. At any rate, the three colossal personalities profiled above represent a huge inspiration for this blog and for how I live my life. I hope they also inspire you a lot, even as I strive to inspire you a little. As I contemplate another year shot to hell, I thank all of you who follow me here and put up with my own special brand of insanity.