THE WRONG BROTHERS

Friends, as much as I have enjoyed telling you in recent posts of the inspiring exploits of The Wright Brothers, inventors of the aeroplane, things don’t always go the Wright way in this woebegone world. As we all know, friends, the best laid planes of mice and men oft go a-why? Shot down happens. But, ever looking for new girls–make that, new worlds–to conquer, mice and men are not deterred. Onward and upward! Winners never quit, etc.:

But enough of such air-brained schemes. Let us put these proceedings on a higher plane:

Yes, my friends, the moral of the story is when you hit a downer, don’t be a frowner; and when you hit a sour note, don’t let it get your goat. Never despair — there’s music in the air. Go for it!

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LET US TURN BACK TO THE WRIGHT, BROTHERS AND SISTERS

PROLOGUE:
We had to go ahead and discover everything for ourselves.
–Orville Wright, 1901

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

Friends, Readers, Countrymen —

If you have spent many a sleepless night
tossing and turning ’til dawn’s early light,
wondering if I’d e’er host another post,
take such worries off thy plate — they’re toast.

Yes, Brothers and Sisters, thy long wait is o’er.
I’m back, and who of you could ask for more
although I must confess
that most may ask for less. 😦

Never-the-less, Brothers and Sisters,
it is written in the stars that I must return to the scene of my rhymes and other crimes. It’s Kismet.

Notwithstanding the never-the-less, Brothers and Sisters, I digress.
I come here not to berhyme the Wrights, but to praise them.

Thus this follow-up to my May 17 post, THE DAY THE WRIGHTS DONE ME WRONG, because, by ancient axiom, it’s the Wright thing to do (If at first you don’t succeed, fly, fly again). And if this discourse has the unintended consequence of being the sleep-aid you need to catch up on those zzzzz, the added benefit comes at no extra charge.

But I doubt that will be the case with THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, which, it so happens, is the title of a book I just finished reading (by my favorite historian, David McCullough). It’s no less than you’d expect from a Pulitzer Prize winning author: a masterful biography which (quoting from the dust cover) “draws on the immense riches of the Wright Papers, including personal diaries, notebooks, and more than a thousand letters from private family correspondence, to tell the human side of a profoundly American story.”

The Wrights spent years of trial and air working to construct the world’s first ‘aeroplane,’ but as reader Don Frankel noted on May 17, America paid scant attention even after their successful first flight Dec. 17, 1903 at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (and Don wasn’t just whistling Dixie in his comment). Finally, in 1906, after numerous improvements (including a more powerful engine) and many test flights, “much of the scientific world and the press [began] to change their perspective on the brothers”, and they started to attract commercial and government–especially French, not American– interest.

To the latter point, President (and fellow Ohioan) Wm. Howard Taft spoke as follows in presenting the two brothers with Gold Medals on June 10, 1909, in Washington D.C.:

I esteem it a great honor and an opportunity to present these medals to you as an evidence of what you have done. I am so glad–perhaps at a delayed hour–to show that in America it is not true that “a prophet is not without honor save in his own country.” It is especially gratifying thus to note a great step in human discovery by paying honor to men who bear it so modestly. You made this discovery by a course that we of America like to feel is distinctly American–by keeping your noses right at the job until you had accomplished what you had determined to do.

There are many stories within the story of THE WRIGHT BROTHERS, many twists and turns and mishaps along the way. The Wrights weren’t ‘stick’ figures with no interests and little to commend beyond their mechanical genius. Wilbur, for example, wrote home from France in 1906 of long walks and “the great buildings and art treasures of Paris, revealing as he never had–or had call to–the extent of his interest in architecture and painting.”

Read this bio and you will surely be taken along for the ride, as was I, by “the human side of a profoundly American story” of two men most of us know only from dry history books.

So fasten your life jackets and come fly with me.

EPILOGUE:
We dared to hope we had invented something that would bring lasting peace to the Earth. But we were wrong. We underestimated man’s capacity to hate and to corrupt good means for an evil end. –Orville Wright, 1943 (during WWII)

 

A PASSING EXAMPLE OF ROAD SAGE

BUMPER STICKER:
TIME IS WHAT KEEPS EVERYTHING FROM HAPPENING AT ONCE

I hate to be
the one to tell you,
but everything IS
happeningatonce.

Such being the case, I am taking a few weeks off from blogging* to catch up on what happens when one gets behind from blogging. Be back some time in mid-to-late June. Meanwhile….

*other than replies to comments, & checking in on your blogs from time to time

 

IT’S A BIRD, IT’S A PLANE….IT’S CHARLES LINDBERGH!

Taking off from my last post (where I left the Wright Brothers up in the air and me breezin’ along with the breeze), we come to May 20, a day second to none in aviation annals.*

On this May day in 1927, Charles Lindbergh took off from New York for Paris in the Spirit of St. Louis (his monoplane), to begin the second (and most famous) nonstop transatlantic flight in history. Yes, I said second — the first was made by paired English aviators in 1919, from Newfoundland to Ireland (about half the distance of Lindbergh’s solo flight).

On this date in 1932, Amelia Earhart took off from Newfoundland for Paris, but due to weather conditions, she had to ‘pull up’ short in Northern Ireland, nonetheless becoming the first woman to make a solo nonstop transatlantic flight.

We now turn to the musical portion of the program. Faster than you can say “It’s a bird,” Lindbergh’s fame brought songwriters down from the clouds to cash in, hatching a flock of insipid pop songs. Not so with Earhart’s feat, not even a peep of a song….although her lost flight over the Pacific Ocean in 1937 did inspire a few songs that didn’t long survive.

OK. If I had to eat crow in my last post, can I now soar like an eagle with these jazzed-up Lindberg hit tunes soaring over treacly lyrics:

Ladies and gendermen, the Spirit of St. Louis is coming in for a landing — and if we’re Lucky, Lindy will be in the spirit for a rousing finish.

*In addition to the Lindbergh and Earhart flights, May 20 was also the day Congress passed the Air Commerce Act licensing pilots and planes in 1926, and the date of the first regular transatlantic airmail flight (Pan Am, NYC to Marseille, France) in 1939.

 

 

 

THE WAGES OF SIN TAX

Pardon the intrusion —
I don’t mean to pry —
But the deficit’s soaring;
The figures don’t lie.

Uncle Sam’s in a pickle —
Needs money like mad —
So he sent me to tell you
You must pay to be bad.

He’s taxed income and outgo
And capital gains;
Now, an excise on excess
Is all that remains.

Uncle wants to be fair —
No sin taxes he’ll seek
‘less you go making love
More than one time a week.

I’m installing surveillance
To monitor your behavior.
Lusting under covers won’t save you —
I’ll hear your cries to the Father of your Savior.

But please don’t take this personal —
It’s my job to listen and view it.
Hey, you know what they say:
Someone’s got to do it.

So….

 

 

 

 

THE BARD ON THE DONALD

My April 22 post (MARK TWAIN ON DONALD TRUMP) was so well received that I’ve decided to give that theme (of holding up a mirror to The Tempest of Trumpian self-glorification) another go….this time, with the reflections of an even greater giant of literature: the Bard of Avon taking aim at the target of Twain and giving us his measure of the Tweeter of Twaddle. So, in case you haven’t given The Bard a second thought of late: straight from TAMING OF THE SHREW (filmed as KISS ME KATE), what say you….

and we’ll all know how….the Bard’s words speak to the Iago of Mar-a-Lago:

Time shall unfold what plighted cunning hides. Who cover faults, at last shame them derides.

False face must hide what the false heart doth know.

Go to your bosom: Knock there, and ask your heart what it doth know.

God has given you one face, and you make yourself another.

It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.

When we are born we cry that we are come to this great stage of fools.

 

 

 

A DAY EARLY AND A SCHOLAR SHORT

I just learned I’ve made the first mistake of my entire life (excluding the countless ones that don’t count — like, who’z kounting?). Why I am admitting this mistake, I can’t say — no one seems to have noticed it, so I have no reason to believe my seemingly unblemished record wouldn’t continue to leave all my adoring followers none the wiser. All right, if you must know, I’m admitting the mistake because of writer’s block; now I have something to post about, otherwise you would be staring at a blankety-blank screen.

No doubt you’ve heard the expression “A day late and a dollar short.” Well, my last post on April 24th was a day early and a scholar short: EAST MEETS WEST DAY was April 25 (not April 24), and the head scholar on my staff failed to catch the error. I have therefore fired said head scholar, for whom I’ve generously provided a letter of recommendation to the Trump Administration for the position of Secretary of Wealth, Edumacation & Hellfare — a position held since January by one Alex Azar, who is but the fourth such Sec since Trump became President, lo, these many moons ago. Their average length of service being under four moonths, the position should become vacant shortly; my bumbling former head scholar will fit right in and fill the vacancy with no one being the wiser.

Now, I realize that I appear to be putting the blame for my date mistake on the poor schmuck I fired, but as President of this blog, the bucks stop here….and so, dear reader, I take full responsibility for the poor schmuck’s error, and

I humbly ask that you accept this sincere apology for what it’s worth. After all,

Love you.