Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Tales of My Childhood--The Poster

In 1977 I was 13 years old. Charlie’s Angels had hit the airwaves that year and I had an overwhelming, hormone-driven, stalker-level crush on Farrah Fawcett. Still do. So I did what any red-blooded teenager would; I bought the famous Farrah poster. Ah yes, the red bathing suit whose in-your-face physiology let viewers know that Farrah was a bit on the chilly side that day. In my fervor to let the world know I was the biggest Farrah fan on Earth, I wasted no time in rushing home and pinning it to my wall. At the bottom of my bed, natch, where I could see it every waking moment.
One person not as excited about this plan as I was? My loving mother. Not used to the adolescent desires of teenagers, my mother took one look at that poster, decided we did not live in a brothel, and uncharacteristically ordered me to take it down immediately. This would not do, and led to a heated discussion of hey-it’s-my-room, well-it’s-my-house, etc. I struck on an idea.
“Dad would let me keep it up.” I wasn’t sure, but willing to take my chance on his opinion when he arrived home from work.
“He most certainly would NOT,” insisted my mother.
“If dad says I can keep it up, can I?” Normally my dad would side with my mother unconditionally. They were conspirators of the highest degree, usually uniting against anything cool (or dangerous) I wanted to do.
Mom gave me that I’ve-got-you-now look. “Sure. If your father says you can keep this up, by all means, keep it up.” She walked out of the room, readying a new trash bag especially for my beloved bathing suit Farrah.

"The Poster"
Dad got home after work.
“Dad, I’ve got a question for you,” I said innocently. The three of us walked back to my small bedroom. The bright sunlight of Farrah and her ... chili-ness washed over my father.
“Dad, there’s no problem keeping this poster in my room, is there?” I asked, no doubt with big, baby seal eyes.”
He drank in the poster for the briefest of moments. Without hesitation, he said. “I don’t see anything wrong with it."
Mom was apoplectic. “What!? Doesn’t that seem a little ... inappropriate to you?”
“Nope,” said dad. “Looks fine to me.”
What? Did I just win?! All right Dad!
Mom gave me a resigned look, but a deal was a deal. Alas, she never warmed up to Farrah. Sometimes parents just don’t understand.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Favorite Books - Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield

Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield is about the 300 hand-picked Spartans (and a few thousand other Greek warriors) who held off Persian King Xerxes’ million man army for three days at Thermopylae pass in 480 B.C. Ultimately this allowed Greece to rally and defeat the Persians in a later naval battle at Salamis. This possibly saved democracy and Western civilization as we know it.

Nothing against Frank Miller’s 300 (the comic and /or film), which portrays the same events, but this book is a far superior retelling of the story. It’s not really a novel, it’s an event. The story is told through the eyes of non-Spartan Xeones, a squire to Spartan warriors. The novel takes it’s time, drinking up Greek and Spartan culture, explaining the Spartan lifestyle, how they trained and why and when they fought.

The characters are fascinating. There is the stoic Dienekes, a self-actualized athlete and philosopher who is constantly questioning the meaning of fear. There is Polynikes, who lives for power and glory and detests any inferior who doesn’t. Rooster is a young warrior who serves the Spartans, yet hates them with every fibre of his being. And there is Xeones himself, who comes to Sparta no better than a slave, but is honored as a full warrior at Thermopylae.

So many universal questions are explored in this book. What does it mean to be a man? What is a man’s duty to himself and others? Why do men fight even if they know they will die? What is courage? What is heroism? What is honor? Who has honor and why is it important? Is it acceptable to be afraid? To show fear in the face of overwhelming odds? Of course Spartan leader Leonidas is given his due, as are the clever and intelligent Spartan women. And the twist at the end regarding which warriors were chosen as the 300 and why is wonderful, and a salute to Spartan women.

I also have two friends whose reading taste does not have much in common with mine, who also consider this their favorite novel. Get it.

Rating: ***** Out of 5 stars

First Post

It’s been a long time coming. Here’s what I’d like to accomplish in this blog; pop culture commentary, media reviews, political thoughts and biographical bits. And anything else interesting that may come to mind. Please drop me a line with any comments or feedback you may have.