Many Great People Have Been Born on November 25

25 Nov

November 25 is a big day in the life of me. It is my birthday. I wonder who else was born on this date. Wait, I have an idea. I will look it up and write a post about it.Nov 25

1753 – Robert Townsend, one of George Washington’s spies during the American Revolution

1787 – Franz Xavier Gruber, organist who composed the music for “Silent Night”

1835 – Andrew Carnegie, industrialist who led the expansion of the steel industry

1844 – Karl Benz, inventor of the first automobile to have an internal combustion engine

1846 – Carrie Nation, anti-alcohol activist who was known for attacking taverns with a hatchet

1881 – Pope John XXIII, who obviously served as pope

1883 – Harvey Spencer Lewis, Imperator of the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis

1914 – Joe DiMaggio, center fielder for the Yankees who hit safely in 56 straight games

1920 – Ricardo Montalban, actor known for playing Mr. Roarke and Khan Noonien Singh

1926 – Jeffrey Hunter, who starred alongside John Wayne in The Searchers 

1933 – Kathryn Crosby, actress and wife of Bing Crosby

1940 – Percy Sledge, singer of “When a Man Loves a Woman”

1944 – Ben Stein, speechwriter for Richard Nixon and later a game show host

1952 – Crescent Dragonwagon, writer who has an awesome pen name.

1960 – Amy Grant, former contemporary Christian singer who became a Country singer

1963 -Bernie Kosar, Cleveland Brown quarterback who could not get past John Elway

1968 – Jill Hennessy, actress known for roles on Law and Order and Crossing Jordan

I am stopping at that point. This list will not include anyone younger than me. It is my birthday, and that is my option.



Movie Wisdom – Max von Sydow Edition

21 Nov

I was reading an article about Max von Sydow and his appearance in the new Star Wars movie. It talked about his greatness as an actor and his long career. After reading the article, I decided to write a Movie Wisdom post based on the movies of Max von Sydow, and that is when I discovered something disturbing.

I have not seen as many of his movies as I thought. This is a void in my movie-watching experience that will be filled. However, I thought I had seen a bunch of them. That misconception may come from the impact that he had in the movies that I have seen.

Anyway, this is not going to prevent me from completing my original idea. Here is some wisdom that can be gained from the movies of Max von Sydow.Ming

From The Exorcist

There are no experts.

If certain British doctors never asked “What is this fungus?” we wouldn’t today have penicillin.

From Three Days of the Condor

Someone is always willing to pay.

From Flash Gordon

Live and let live.

From Victory

Anything you say in your sleep can’t be held against you.

From Conan the Barbarian

There comes a time when the jewels cease to sparkle, when the gold loses its luster, when the throne room becomes a prison, and all that is left is a father’s love for his child.

Wealth can be wonderful, but you know, success can test one’s mettle as surely as the strongest adversary.

That which does not kill us makes us stronger.

From Ghostbusters II

Death is but a door. Time is but a window.

Better late than never.

From Needful Things

Everybody is insane.

From Minority Report

Sometimes, in order to see the light, you have to risk the dark.

Dig up the past, all you get is dirty.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.

We don’t choose the things we believe in; they choose us.

From Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

If things were easy to find they wouldn’t be worth finding.


The Pelican Brief

16 Nov

You may know these lines.

A wonderful bird is the pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican,
He can take in his beak
Enough food for a week
But I’m damned if I see how the helican!

It is a limerick of some fame. In fact, some consider it one of the best limericks of all time.

Through the years, I have heard several limericks, and some of them have stuck in my mind. There is the one about Nantucket. There is also one I heard in a movie about a young lady from Niger who rode on a tiger.

Bonus points for anyone who can tell me what movie featured that one.

Now, back to the pelican limerick. Most people think it was written by Ogden Nash. Apparently, Nash wrote a bunch of limericks, and, when people do not know who wrote something, they automatically think he did it. Look it up. The name of Ogden Nash is all over The Pelican.

However, here is the thing. Ogden Nash did not write this one. The Pelican was written by Dixon Merritt, who lived in Lebanon, Tennessee.Dixon Merritt

His name is prominent in our town’s history. There is a building at Cedars of Lebanon State Park that bears his name. He also taught at Cumberland University; edited The Lebanon Democrat and The Tennessean newspapers; served as Tennessee State Director of Public Safety; and was an amateur historian.

On top of all that, he was a poet, and most people did not know it.

Testing My Toussaint Knowledge

12 Nov

The other day, I was giving a test when word of Allen Toussaint’s death came across my computer screen. The news struck me for a couple of reasons.Toussaint

First, the test included questions about Toussaint Charbonneau and L’Ouverture. What are the chances to that many people named Toussaint being on my mind in one day? For those who may not know, Charbonneau was the husband of Sacagawea, and L’Ouverture led the slave rebellion that would result in Haiti becoming a nation.

Second, I have a great song by Allen Toussaint on my iPod. It is called “Sweet Touch of Love” and was introduced to me by a television commercial.

I take pride in my knowledge of music, but all I knew of the musical Toussaint was that one song. After reading about him, I discovered that he was a legendary New Orleans musician who sang, wrote, produced and worked in almost all areas of the music business. I also learned that there are more Toussaint songs on my iPod that I realized. In addition to the song previously mentioned, he wrote, produced or played on the following songs in my collection.

“Southern Nights” by Glen Campbell

“Lady Marmalade” by Labelle

“Working in a Coal Mine” by Lee Dorsey

“The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down” by The Band

“Right Place Wrong Time” by Dr. John

There must be others because I have learned that Allen Toussaint was a major force in music for many years. I wish I had known that earlier. Now, I have to find out what I have been missing.


A Stand Up Guy

8 Nov

I attend quite a few college football games. The competition. The pageantry. The connection with other fans. I like it all. However, I have never understood the Stand Up Guy, that one person who insists upon standing while everyone around him is sitting.Stand Up

Yesterday, a Stand Up Guy was sitting, uh, standing a few feet to my right. At times, he would sit, but he always found an excuse to stand up. He stood up to text and stayed in that position for several plays after texting. He stood up to put on a sweatshirt and took the opportunity to stand for a while. Other times, he just stood up for the heck of it.

This made me wonder what goes through the mind of a Stand Up Guy. Does he think his team can feel his standing energy? Does he think he can yell louder while standing? Does he think the three extra feet of elevation give him a better view? Does he think the person behind him paid money for a ticket to have a good view of his ass? Does he think his ass looks that great? Does he think he can force the entire section to stand up and provide more standing energy for his team?

I do not mind standing up at a game. I have attended games where the entire crowd stood the entire time. There are also important times of the game when everyone should stand. However, standing for the sake of standing is ridiculous. It is also selfish. I would say that the Stand Up Guy is oblivious of his surroundings, but I am certain that he knows exactly what he is doing.

He is showing people that he is a “true fan” because he is doing everything possible to support his team. However, I have noticed something about the Stand Up Guy. I only see him at a few games. The fans who are sitting around him are there every time the team takes the field. Perhaps, the “true fans” are the ones sitting around and wondering what the Stand Up Guy thinks he is doing.

Searching for Charles Gerhardt

5 Nov

A while back, I was appointed Historian for the City of Lebanon. In that role, I have attempted to learn as much as I can about the town. There are stories that I have heard all of my life, and I am steeped in the lore of the area. However, there are gaps in my knowledge.

Learning about the city requires research. I have gone through documents at the city museum and have spent some time in our county archives. I also get on the computer at home to see what can be found on the Internet.

It was an Internet search that led me to an online copy of Tennessee County History Series: Wilson County by Frank Burns, the man who knew more about the history of this area than anyone else I have known. Through a gradual reading, I made my way to the 1940s and World War II, where I found a passage that drew my interest. It reads:

Charles Gerhardt was the only Wilson County soldier to hold
the rank of major general in World War II. June 6 was more than
D-Day to Charles Hunter Gerhardt. It was his 49th birthday.

He went ashore with his troops, inched up the cliffs and the
high bluff with them, and spent the night of D-Day in a rock quarry
just 300 yards from the beach. It was the luck of the 29th to draw
the sector where the German army had concentrated its heaviest
defenses. One company lost all of its officers but one before its
assault boats ever landed on the beach. Within minutes after an-
other company touched the beach, it was out of action, every man
killed or wounded, huddled weaponless against the base of the
cliff. But it was not to be a day of defeat. Slowly the men edged off
Omaha Beach. By the end of the day the 29th was a mile inland.
Omaha Beach was followed by Isigny. There General Gerhardt
moved among his troops as they advanced on the outskirts of the
town, disregarding land mines, rifle bullets, and machine gun fire.

It caught my eye because I have never heard of Charles Gerhardt and never heard of a Major General from Lebanon leading his troops at the D-Day Invasion. This is an interesting part of our history that has apparently been forgotten, and I was determined to find out more. This led to the search for Charles Gerhardt.Gerhardt

A Google search brought up several links, but Wikipedia was the first stop. I know Wikipedia has issues, but I am not writing a scholarly paper. It is only a blog post. Anyway, I learned that Charles Gerhardt played baseball, polo and football at West Point. In 1916, he quarterbacked the football to a victory of Notre Dame, which was coached by Knute Rockne and led by George Gipp. Some may remember that Gipp was immortalized on film by Ronald Reagan.

The Wikipedia page continues with Gerhardt’s other accomplishments. He served in World War I and was an equestrian judge at the 1932 Olympics. While Frank Burns praises him, this page says that he was a controversial figure who oversaw high casualty rates and opened a brothel for his men after the invasion.

Wikipedia says a lot about Gerhardt, but it does not say where he was born. For that information, I had to click more links. The next stop was the website for Arlington National Cemetery. It contains some of the same information and provides additions to his military record. However, it does not say where he was born.

This is when I began thinking that Frank Burns was wrong. There is no way this man could be from Lebanon. I know of no one who has heard of him, and his birthplace is omitted from every website. That is when I noticed a link to his father, who was also named Charles Gerhardt. The older Gerhardt was also a military man and reached the rank of Brigadier General.

While searching his life, I discovered that “he was detailed to Cumberland University at Lebanon, Tennessee, 1894-1897.” While here, he became Secretary of the Military Wheelmen. Have you ever heard of that? Neither have I. It was an organization that designed bicycles for military use. He also designed a uniform to make them less visible. Yep, he was on the cutting edge of camouflage.

All of that was great to find out. Charles Gerhardt was in Lebanon when his son was born in 1895. However, why was a career military man “detailed to Cumberland University?” It has never been a military school.

To find that, I had to return to the writings of Frank Burns. It turns out that the elder Gerhardt taught military science and tactics at the university.

Through all of that, I learned something new about the history of Lebanon, Tennessee. Major General Charles Gerhardt, who led his men onto the beaches of France, was born here. He also went on the defeat the Gipper and found a whorehouse. Overall, he led an interesting life, and it all started here.

A Blogging Recalibration

4 Nov

My blogging anniversary came and went with little fanfare. I did not say anything about it, but I got one of those silver trophies from the WordPress folks. It is hard to believe that I have been blogging for all this time.

Through the years, I have learned a lot. I have learned that some people are interested in the mysteries of gas pumps, and other people want to know the deeper meanings of Smokey and the Bandit.

I have also learned that friends can be made through the Internet. There are people out the who I have come to know, respect and care about. Some of them have left the blogging community, but others are still typing away.

Many of you know that this blog started in a therapy session. My therapist felt that I needed to release some mental frustrations and suggested a diary of some sort. I felt that a diary would not properly release the tension because I would be the only one reading it. The internal noise needed to be released in a different way. Hence, this blog was born.

Those early days were full of caustic writing that was sarcastic and, at times, mean-spirited. In fact, my first comment was negative and came from someone who I knew. The blog was anonymous, and I have still not figured out how they found it.

Getting that comment was also surprising because hardly anyone read the blog. The first month saw an average of two readers a day. However, I kept writing because that was two readers more than there would be if I did not write.

At some point, I began to focus on the statistics. More readers found their way to this place. As the content grew, the readership grew. However, I wanted more and decided to publicize the blog on Twitter.

Honestly, that may have been a mistake. I had to delete some early posts because I did not want people in my real life to read them. Of course, it was impossible to get rid of everything that came pouring out of my mine, and some people close to me were hurt by the words they found.

Publicizing the blog also transformed my writing. A lot of the thoughts inside my mind had to stay there because not everyone needs to know what goes on in there. I decided to stay away from controversial subjects and go with more entertaining stuff. At least, topics that I think are entertaining.

Along the way, the blog kept growing. I was lucky enough to be Freshly Pressed. Although, I still do not understand how a post that included Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man caught the attention of those who decide what is worthy of being Freshly Pressed.

Getting Freshly Pressed created another goal. I wanted to reach the same numbers in another month that I got in the Freshly Pressed month, and that finally happened earlier this year.

I write all of that to write the following. Statistics have become more important than the writing. I have put bad posts out there just for the sake of publishing posts. This means that I have veered completely away from what this blog is supposed to be.

I started the blog to get words out of my head. In a lot of instances, those words were not nice. When I began to publicize the blog, the words changed, but the goal of the blog did not. I was still getting words out of my head. When statistics became the focus, I was typing words that were not really in my head. At least, they were not in there for long.Recalibration

As of today, I am going to recalibrate the blog. I am not going to publish posts just for the sake of numbers. I am going to write when something needs to be written. In other words, when something needs to come out of my mind. That means that I will not be writing as often, and the numbers will probably decrease. However, I hope the quality of the blog will improve.


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