Friday, 24 June 2005

Sumer Is Icumen In

Well, this morning I checked my blog to find out that for some strange reason the topmost entry on every page was starting halfway down the page. I pasted the back up of my template into Blogger's template section and republished my blog, but the topmost entry on each page still started halfway down the page. I can only figure that Blogger has either changed the way it interprets XML and CSS, or else my PC is just messing up in how it interprets it. Either way, as a temporary measure I've switched to Minima Black until such time as I can figure out how to correct the problems with my old template or get a new one. Sad, as it means for now I have no room for my blinkies! At any rate, it was nice having a template that looked like no one else's. Now it is just one of many blogs that uses Minima Black for its template.

Midsummer's Day was Tuesday, so I thought I might discuss a summertime song. That song is "Sumer Is Icumen In," also known as "The Cuccu Song." Here are the lyrics in Middle English and modern English (my translation):

Sumer is icumen in;
Lhude sing cuccu!
Groweth sed, and bloweth med,
And springeth the wude nu,
Sing cuccu!

Ewe bleteeth after lomb,
Lhouth after calve cu,
Bulluc sterteth, bucke verteth,
Murie sing cuccu!

Cuccu, cuccu, well singest thu, cuccu:
Ne swike thu naver nu;
Sing cuccu, now sing cuccu,
Sing cuccu, sing cuccu nu!

(The Translation)

Summer is a'coming in;
Loud sing cuckoo!
Seed grows, and meadow blows,
and the wood spring new.
Sing cuckoo!

Ewe bleets after lamb,
Cow lows after calf;
Bullock leaps, buck hides,
Merry sing cuckoo!

Cuckoo, cuckoo, well you sing cuckoo:
Don't you ever stop now;
Sing cuckoo, now, sing cuckoo,
Sing cuckoo, sing cuckoo, now!

"Sumer Is Icumen In" is thought by some to be the oldest surviving song in the English language. Some scholars date it to as early as 1250 CE. We have many poems from the Old English period (Beowulf and "Deor" among them), but no songs (not unless many of the poems we had were set to music, which I doubt--Old English poems don't seem to lend themsevles to singing...). As to my thoughts on the matter, it seems unlikely to me that the Anglo-Saxons had no songs as we know them; it is simply a case that they were not written down. I rather suspect that songs similar to "Sumer Is Icumen In" could have existed in some form even before the Norman Invasion, maybe even "Sumer Is Icumen In" itself. True, some of the words ("verteth" for instance) date only to Middle English, but then the lyrics of songs can change dramatically over time and even from region to region. Just look at the ballad "Barbara Allan." In 1932, Arthur Kyle Davis Jr. did a study of the folk songs of Virginia and found 92 versions of "Barbara Allan" alone!

Of course, I guess some people might have to question what "Sumer Is Icumen In" has to do with pop culture, which is the raison d'etre of this blog. Didn't pop culture arise with the advent of newspapers, magazines, books, and other mass media? Well, in my opinion, no. Mass culture (the culture generated by mass media) did, but not pop culture. The way I see it, pop culture being short for popular culture and the word popular in its most basic sense meaning "of the people," pop culture would include anything that has been widely accepted by the people (that is, it is "popular"). "Sumer Is Icumen In," having long been a popular song is then part of pop culture. Beyond which, it appears in at least one movie (The Wicker Man) and one telefilm (Sarah Plain and Tall) that I know of.

As to "Sumer Is Icumen In" itself, I can only think that medieval England (or modern England for that matter) has a lot milder summers than Missouri has. Otherwise "Sumer Is Icumen In" would not be nearly so happy....

Thursday, 23 June 2005

"Crying" by Roy Orbison

I've always been a big fan of Roy Orbison, ever since childhood. I have seen some people who classify him as a country artist, but quite frankly I don't buy it. I would say that he was a rock 'n' roll artist and a balladeer who sometimes performed country songs.

In fact, aside from "Oh, Pretty Woman," I think he probably was best known for his ballads. "In Dreams," "Running Scared," and "Only the Lonely" are probably more famous than his straight rock tunes, such as "Mean Woman Blues" and "Dream Baby." As to his most successful ballad, that would be probably be "Crying." In 1961 it went to #2 on the Billboard pop charts. While "Running Scared" would go to #1, over the years it has not been played nearly as often as "Crying." It certainly has not ben remade as often! In fact, I am guessing that aside from "Oh, Pretty Woman," "Crying" is his most famous song.

What I find remarkable about "Crying" is that nowhere in the song are "tears" or "teardrops" mentioned. It simply does not refer to the physical act of shedding tears at all, something which sets it apart from other, similar songs about crying. At any rate, right now it describes how I feel. Here it is, in RealAudio:

"Crying"--Roy Orbison

Wednesday, 22 June 2005

AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes

Last night I watched AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes, the eighth of the American Film Institute's television specials celebrating 100 years of movies. As usual, this AFI special was a mixed bag for me. I thought many of the quotes and lines definitely deserved to be on the list of greatest movie quotes of all time. At the same time, however, there were also lines and quotes that I thought shouldn't have been on the list at all, and yet other lines that should have made the list but, for whatever reason, didn't. And, of course, there were lines that should have been on the list but I would have ranked either higher or lower.

I suppose the most obvious place to begin is the noticeable omissions on the list. Of all these, perhaps none is greater than "Every time you hear a bell ring, it means that some angel's just got his wings," from It's a Wonderful Life. This quote has had a much greater impact on pop culture than many of the quotes on the list. Indeed, anyone hearing it automatically knows what movie it is from and many can quote it verbatim. Indeed, there are many quotes that have had a huge impact on pop culture, much more than some of the lines that made the list, that were noticeably absent: "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain ... the ... Great ... er ... Oz has spoken," from The Wizard of Ox; "No, I am your father," from Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back; "I am Spartacus," from Spartacus; "Klaatu barada nikto," from The Day the Earth Stood Still (also used to comic effect in Army of Darkness....); and "We belong dead," from The Bride of Frankenstein (one of the great lines from one of the greatest climaxes in cinematic history).

Beyond these quotes, there are others that, while they may not have had a huge impact on pop culture, are simply great quotes. I can think of three from Singin' in the Rain alone. The first two are lines uttered by vain movie star Lina Lamont, "People"? I ain't "people." I am a--'a shimmering, glowing star in the cinema firmament,'" and "What do they think I am, dumb or something? Why I make more money than Calvin Coolidge put together." The third is a classic exchange between star Don Lockwood and his friend Cosmo Brown regarding Lina. Don says, "What's the matter with that girl? Can't she take a gentle hint?" Cosmo replies, "Well haven't ya heard? She's irresistible. She told me so herself. " Speaking of Gene Kelly movies, I think that "That's, uh, quite a dress you almost have on," uttered by Jerry Mulligan would have been a good candidate for the list as well. Other lines that, in my humble opinion, would have been great candidates for the list would be: "No, sir. This is the West, sir. When the legend becomes fact, print the legend," from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance; "I'm not bad, I'm just drawn that way," from Who Framed Roger Rabbit; "They're not gonna catch us. We're on a mission from God," from The Blues Brothers; "That's the way it crumbles... cookie-wise," from The Apartment; "I am not an animal! I am a human being," from The Elephant Man; and "Use the Force, Luke," from Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope.

While there were many lines that I thought should have made the list, there were many I thought should not have. The most glaring example of this for me came in at #98, "Nobody puts Baby in a corner," from Dirty Dancing. Quite frankly, even in the context of the movie it never quite made sense to me. And while it was often quoted in the Eighties, I don't think "I feel the need...the need for speed" from Top Gun deserved to be on the list either. I have very fond memories of Caddyshack (it seemed to me to be one of the funnier films from the Eighties), but I don't think the lines uttered by Bill Murray as the greenskeeper while he fantasises about winning a golf tournament necessarily deserved to be on the list. I have always absolutely loved the movie Annie Hall, but I am not sure that Annie's "La-dee-da, la-dee-da," should have made the list either. Truth to tell, I have seen Annie Hall many times (once even in the theatre) and I can think of many more memorable lines from that film. The same holds true for "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti," from The Silence of the Lambs. It is not even the best line in the movie, which I would give to either "I do wish we could chat longer, but I'm having an old friend for dinner," or Hannibal's utterance of the name, "Clarice (which still sends chills up my spine)." Somehow "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti" came in at #21.

Beyond the movie quotes that should have made the list and the ones that should not have, there were those lines that should have ranked much higher than they did. "I'll get you, my pretty, and your little dog, too," from The Wizard of Oz, came in at only #99, even though it is one of the most quoted movie lines of all time. It should have made the top 25. Abbot and Costello's legendary "Who's on first" only came in at #91. It should have come in much higher. Both of James Bond's classic lines, quoted by millions of young men since 1962, ranked much lower than they should have. "A martini. Shaken, not stirred" only came in at #90. It should have made the top 50 at least. The immortal line "Bond, James Bond." only came in at #22. It should have made the top 10. Another pop culture icon, Dr. Frankenstein, also saw his classic line ranked far too low. Surely "It's alive! It's alive!" should have been ranked in the top ten. It only came in at #49. At least that is better than where the classic line regarding the death of King Kong from the orignal movie ranked. "It was beauty killed the beast," one of the greatest lines in the history of movies, only came in at #84. It should have been ranked in the top ten. The immortal lines "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me. Aren't you," from The Graduate, also ranked lower than they should have. They came in at only #63, even lower than "Plastics," from the same movie (at #42). "Mrs. Robinson, you're trying to seduce me..." should have been in the top 25. Of course, Casablanca, which boasts more great lines than any movie in film history, fared about as well as The Graduate. It did boast more lines than any other movie, but with one exception, all of its lines were ranked lower than they should have. Indeed, its highest ranking quote was "Here's lookin' at you, kid," at #5--never mind that this is not even the best line in the movie! "Louis, I think this is beginning of a beautiful friendship" only came in at #20; it should have been in the top 15. "Play it, Sam. Play 'As Time Goes By,'" only made #28. It should have made the top 20. "Round up the usual suspects" only ranked at #32. Of all the quotes from Casablanca, it should have ranked the highest. It should have in the top five. The same is true of "We'll always have Paris," which came in at #43! The classsic, "Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine," came in even lower, at #67. It should have have been in the top thirty!

Of course, while there were lines that should have ranked higher, there were also lines that should have ranked lower. I think this holds true for "I coulda been a contender," from On the Waterfront. While I've no doubt it deserves to be in the top twenty five, I think ranking it at #3 may be a little too high (does the average person even remember what movie the line comes from?). While I think there can be no arguing that "Love means never having to say you're sorry" had a huge impact when Love Story was released, I think that impact has diminished considerably since the movie was released 35 years ago. Besides which, in my humble opinion and speaking from experience, it is one of the most stupid lines in the history of movies (Love means always having to say you're sorry...). It should have ranked much lower than #13. While "Show me the money" from Jerry McGuire is a great line that has had a big impact on pop culture, I think it may have been ranked too high at #25, although I could see it making the top 50. "Say, 'Hello,' to my little friend,"from the 1983 version of Scarface is a great line, but I think at #61 it may have been ranked too high. I could see it better being ranked at #80 or so. One thing I do have to say for AFI. There is no doubt in my mind that "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," uttered by Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind, deserves to be #1. After what Rhett had gone through with Scarlett, who can blame Rhett for those immortal words?

Over all, I cannot say I am wholly unhappy with AFI's list of 100 movie quotes, although I am obviously not entirely happy with it either. It seems obvious to me that it could have been much better, particularly given the obvious omissions, the lines that should not have made the list at all (Dirty Dancing? What were they thinking?!), and the lines that should have ranked differently than they did. For another (and in many ways, better) list of 100 great movie quotes, folks might want to look at one published at Filmsite.Com. It was originally published in the August 2000 issue of Premiere Magazine.

Tuesday, 21 June 2005

Old Time Names for Cinemas

I have always been interested in cinema history. And among the aspects of cinema history I find most interesting are the names that various theatres bore throughout the years. In many cases, it is fairly obvious why theatres might bear a given name. This is the case of the name "Cinema," a word which simply means "movie theatre." Indeed, in a way naming a theatre "Cinema" is like naming a diner "Diner!" In other cases, the reasons behind the name are not so obvious.

Of course, one of the most common practices was for theatres to be named for the people who owned them. The Loews theatre chain (which once owned an interest in MGM) was named for its founder, Marcus Loew. Perhaps the most famous example of a theatre naemd for its owner was Grauman's Chinese Theatre (indeed, I remember the protest over the name being changed to "Mann's" after Ted Mann purchased the theatre--it is now named Grauman's again...). I seem to recall that at one time many theatres in the Midwest were named Sosna because they were part of a chain owned by a man of that name; at one point in its history, the State Theatre in Moberly was named "the Sosna State."

The practice of naming theatres for the inidviduals or corporations who owned them is the reason so many older theatres bear the names of famous Hollywood Studios--"Paramount," "Fox," "RKO," and so on. Until 1948 when the Supreme Court ruled that the major studios could not own or operate cinemas, nearly all of the major Hollywood studios ran their own theatre chains. Naturally, the theatres were usually named for the studios who owned them. Although now a stage theatre, The Fox Theatre in St. Louis began as a cinema in 20th Century Fox's theatre chain. It was reportedly one of the most lavish and largest cinemas west of the Mississippi. There is a fine example of an old Paramount Theatre in Abilene, TX.

Interestingly, there is one instance in which a theatre was named for its owner and the name proved so popular that theatres throughout the United States adopted the name for their own. Samuel L. Rothaphel was a theatre entepreneur whose nickname was "Roxy."Among other theatres, he founded Radio City Music Hall. In New York City in 1927 he opened what was one of the most exquisite cinemas ever, if not the most exquisite cinema of all time. Named "the Roxy," it could seat nearly 6000 people.It was not long before many other theatre owners across America named their theatres "the Roxy," wishng to associate themselves with the famous Roxy of New York City and its finery. One of those theatres bearing the name was the one in Huntsville, Missouri

The wish of theatre owners to associate themselves with ostentatiousness and finery is probably also why many theatres bore the name Ritz. The word ritz means "ostentatious display of elegance, fanfare, ostentation." The name Ritz ultimately comes from Cesar Ritz, a Swiss hosteller who owned a chain of ostentatous hotels known for their finery in the 19th century. The desire on the part of theatre owners to associate their cinemas with the better things in life may also be why there were so many theatres named "the Palace," "the Princess," and "the Royal."

As might be expected, many cinemas took their name from the theatre (as in the stage). It is for that reason that many theatres were named "Rialto." Rialto is a word for "a theatrical district" or "a market." The word comes from the name of an island in Venice, Rialto, where the market (and presumably the theatres as well) was located. In Salisbury (Missouri, not England) there is a theatre called the "Lyric," as there are many other places. On the surface, the word lyric would have more to do with music or poetry, but among the various senses of lyric is "Of, relating to, or being musical drama, especially opera." Indeed, it must be pointed out that in ancient Greece (as in Shakespeare's time as well), poetry and even music played a large part in drama.

The common theatre name Orpheum also has its roots in both ancient Greek theatre and Vaudeville. The name ultimately comes from the Greek hero Orpheus, whose poetry and songs were so compelling that they even impressed the gods. The word Orpheum more or less means "place of Orpheus." In the 1890 there was an Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco. By 1899 its owner, Morris Meyerfeld, would become partners with Martn Beck, who had worked with the Schiller Vaudeville Company. Beck aquired theatres from California to Chicago over the years, the entire chain bearing the name "Orpehum." Eventually the Orpheum circuit of theatres would merge with the equally powerful Keith-Albee circuit of theatres to become KAO (Keith-Albee-Orpheum). Many of the theatres retained the "Orpheum" name. Still later, in 1929, KAO would merge with Joseph Kennedy's studio Film Booking Office to become RKO (Radio-Keith-Orpheum) Pictures. Many theatres named "the Orpheum" once belonged to RKO, while others simply adopted the name for themselves.

Here I must point out that cinema names from Greek or Roman history were by no means unusual. There were cinemas named "the Coliseum," for the famous arena in ancient Rome where gladitorial combat took place. There were also many theatres named "the Hippodrome." The word hippodrome is used of "a place for horse races." In specific, it referred to places in ancient Rome where chariot and horse racing was held. It ultimately stems from ancient Greek hippos "horse" and dromos "race course."

One group of cinema names which always puzzled me were those related to precious stones jewels, and trinkets--names like "Bijou," "Gem" and "Jewel." Apparently, the names of these theatres go back in theatre history. The name "Bijou" ultimately stems from the word bijou, which means "a small, exquisitely wrought trinket." I cannot be absolutely certain, but I think the practice of naming theatres "Bijou" may stem from the Bijou Theatre in Paignton, England, a small theatre in the late 19th century. Although a small theatre, it gained a good deal of fame and even had the honour of being the first theatre where The Pirates of Penzance was ever performed. I have no idea, however, as to why they called it "the Bijou (the fact that it was small and ornate perhaps?)." As to the name Gem, I am not absolutely sure why it came to be applied to theatres. There was a Gem Theatre in Deadwood, North Dakota dating from the 1870s. The theatre, like Deadwood itself, was fairly famous in the late 19th century, so I can only figure that many theatre owners named their own theatres for the one in Deadwood.

The practice of naming cinemas after famous stage theatres may also be seen in the use of the name "the Regent" that so many cinemas bore. I rather suspect that such theatres were named for the Regent Music Hall which operated in London on Regent Street from 1861 to 1879.

In some ways I think theatre owners and theatre chains have lost their touch when it comes to choosing names for theatres. It seems to me that these days, rather than giving a theatre a fanciful name such as "the Bijou" or "th Regent," a theatre chain is more likely to name a theare for the chain and the number of screens it has. For instance, a theatre might be named "the Dickinson Five." At best a theatre might be named for the chain that owns it and the street on which it is located, an example being the "Hollywood Stadium" in Columbia (owned by Hollwood Theatres and located on Stadium Drive). I don't know if the theatre chains and theatre owners have simply grown lazy or lost their imagination, but the names of theatres just don't capture my fancy the way names like "the Roxy," "the Lyric," "the Regent," and so on. I can only hope they return to the good, old fashioned names of the early to mid-Twentieth century.

Monday, 20 June 2005

Karl Mueller R.I.P.

Today I read that Karl Mueller, bassist and one of the founding members of the rock group Soul Asylum, died from throat cancer Friday. He had been diagnosed with the cancer in May 2004, after which he went through a round of radiation treatments. It went into remission last October, but unfortunately returned this year.

In 1981, Mueller, guitarist Dan Murphy, and drummer Dave Pirner founded Loud Fast Rules in Minneanpolis, MN. Within three years the group would become known as Soul Asylum. They would also release their first album, Say What You Will, Clarence...Karl Sold the Truck, on the small, local label Twin/Tone Records. Throughout the Eighties the group maintained a cult following and was a favourite on college radio. By 1989 they would sign to A&M records. Despite being on a major label for the first time, neither 1989's Hang Time nor 1990's And the Horse They Rode In On gained much attention. By 1992 they would be on another major label, this time Columbia Records. It was there that their fortunes changed with 1992's Grave Dancer's Union. The album prdouced three hit singles, "Somebody to Shove," "Black Gold," and "Runaway Train." Their following album, 1995's Let Your Dim Light Shine would not do quite as well as Grave Dancer's Union, although the single "Misery" made the top twenty. Regardless, Soul Asylum has kept its loyal following to this day. In fact, Mueller, Murphy, and Pirner had been working on a new Soul Asylum album earlier this year.

I have always loved Soul Asylum. In the late Eighties and early Nineties they had a truly unique sound. They weren't alternative, nor were they heavy metal. I suppose the best classification for them would be hard rock. In my opinion they produced some of the best music of the Nineties. Their lyrics were always witty and often humourous. And they covered an array of topics, from the loneliness of old age ("Somebody to Shove") to masochistic melodramatics ("Misery").

I am then truly saddened to hear of Karl Mueller's death. His bass was a central part of Soul Asylum's hard rock sound. He was also more than a talented musician. Reportedly, he had no pretence about him--he never played the rock star. And though he ultimately lost the battle against cancer, from everything I have heard he fought it with a strength few have. As both a remarkable man and a remarkable musican, then, his passing is truly saddening.

Sunday, 19 June 2005

Father's Day

Today is Father's Day. For me it is a bittersweet day as my father died when I was only 24 years of age. I cannot spend today with my father, much less buy him a tie or aftershave lotion. While I loved my mother, I do think that I was always closer to my father. He was quite likely the single most influential person in my life. Much of what is good about me, I do think I owe to him.

Unfortunately, I think to some degree that in American society today the importance of the father is being trivialised. Indeed, one can see this to some degree in American pop culture. It is true that the inept father has been a stock character in many sitcoms. Certainly the dad on Hazel (or anyone else n that show except for Hazel the housekeeper...), Herman Munster, and Homer Simpson are far from being the sharpest tools in the shed. But it seems to me the image of the inept father has moved from being a stock character to an outright stereotype of the common male.This is particularly true of many commercials. I seem to recall a series of particularly offensive J. C. Penny commercials in which kids under the supervision of the clueless father would be destroying their house while their mother is out shopping. The message behind those commercials was clear to me--the typical father is too stupid to take care of his own children! Sears has run very similar commercials in which father simply seem incapable of taking care of children. A recent Verizon DSL commercial was nearly as offensive as the J. C. Penny ads. In the commercial a father, who apparently knows nothing of the Internet, is trying to help his daughter research her homework online. Finally the mother tells the father to go walk their dog. The daughter looks downright relieved. And then there are those Hardees commercials with the tagline, "Without Hardees, some men would starve..."

Beyond the commercials, it seems to me that sitcoms featuring inept fathers have become much, much more common. In fact, most of the current crop of CBS sitcoms feature fathers who are nearly as clueless as old Herman Munster was: Everybody Loves Raymond,. Still Standing, and Listen Up all feature fathers who are none too bright. Of course, CBS is not the only network which features bumbling fathers. On ABC the fathers of My Wife and Kids and According to Jim are just as stupid. It seems to me that in the world of TV sitcoms, there are far fewer fathers like Andy Taylor or Ward Cleaver and far more fathers like Herman Munster or Homer Simpson, a situation which hardly reflects reality.

In my humble opinion what these commercials ignore is the importance of a father, or at least a father figure, in the lives of children, particularly boys. In her book The War Against Boys, Christina Hoff Sommers points out that it most often boys who grow up without fathers who have problems later in life. Indeed, 70 percent of all prison inmates grew up without fathers, as did 60 percent of all rapists and 72 percent of all murderers who committed their crime while still teenagers. Children without fathers are more likely to be treated for behavioural or emotional problems, successfully commit suicide while still teenagers, be suspended from school, and drop out of school. From those statistics, it seems to me that fathers are central to the development of a child's moral compass and a firm foundation in morality and ethics. Without a father, it seems to me that it is less likely for a child to be properly socialised.

Here I want to stress that I am not condemning single mothers. I have known many single mothers who have done a fine job of raising their children. My sister did an admirable job of raising my nephew (who is now a police officer). I also know a very lovely blonde who has done a very good job of raising her children, all of who are very bright and very well behaved. Not every child who grows up in a household where a father is absent or not around very often is going to become a criminal or becme mentally unbalanced. That having been said, as my sister admits, raising a son without his father being around much is not easy by any stretch of the imagination.

I must also speak in defence of televison. While there have been many very offensive commercials the past several years, there are those that show fathers in a positive light. Gerber has a wonderful ad which features a father feeding his baby son. The two of them are obviously enjoying their time together. The past few years Jiff changed their slogan to "Choosey moms, and dads, choose Jiff." Along with the change in slogan, they have a very nice commercial in which a father and daughter bond over peanut butter sandwiches. As to TV Shows, there are still many intelligent fathers to be found on them. While he has his faults, Hank Hill on King of the Hill is often the most level headed character on that show. The fathers on such dramas as Seventh Heaven, Everwood, and Smallville are also intelligent, stable characters. Fortunately, not every father featured on American television is a total boob. I can only hope that other commercials and TV shows follow these fine examples and realise that not all men are incompetent when it comes to raising a family.

Indeed, I can speak from experience. While I am biased, I feel that my father was wonderful. In terms of sense of humour and the way he dealt out punishment, he reminds me a lot of Andy Taylor on The Andy Griffith Show (must be a Southern thing...). He was very strict when it came to discipline, but always fair and even handed. He was not the sort of person who could not admit when he was wrong. He was also one of the most loving and kindest men I knew. Whenever my brother or I were sick, it was often he who took the role as chief caregiver. He was also one of the hardest working men I ever knew. He never failed to provide for our family, despite the fact that farming can often be a very risky business. He was hardly stupid, bumbling, or incompetent. To this day I still miss him, particularly on this of all days.