Big Papa

Taking some time to celebrate Ernest Hemingway. It’s going to be a wonderful day and night filled with beautiful writing, beautiful women, and sweet, strong daiquiris.

Taking some time to celebrate Ernest Hemingway. It’s going to be a wonderful weekend filled with beautiful writing, beautiful women, and sweet, strong daiquiris.

Fifty years ago this weekend, Hemingway awoke, got out of bed, grabbed a shotgun and shot himself. Generations of fans, writers and biographers have never understood why. But there have been plenty of theories, and in the British newspaper The Independent, Houston psychologist John Walsh recently weighed in with his own explanation:

“It’s easy to be spiteful about Hemingway. All his posturing, his editing of the truth, his vainglorious fibbing can obscure his undoubted bravery. He loved being in the thick of the war – the tank advance through the Ardennes, the Battle of the Bulge – dodging bullets, watching men being shot to hell all around him. But it’s hard to shake off the feeling that what he was doing wasn’t bravery, but psychotic self-dramatisation. And when you inspect the image of Hemingway-as-hero, you uncover an extraordinary sub-stratum of self-harming. You discover that, for just over half of his life, Hemingway seemed hell-bent on destroying himself.”

Read the sadly fascinating article here.

As a writer, I can’t think of many stories that affected and inspired me as much as Hemingway’s “Hills Like White Elephants.” So chilling. So sad. So beautiful. David Ulin, the L.A. Times culture critic, would call it “an influence of style.”

For more on Hemingway, check out this FAQ, and read his short Nobel Prize acceptance speech.

Hemingway wrote, “Writing, at its best, is a lonely life. Organizations for writers palliate the writer’s loneliness but I doubt if they improve his writing. He grows in public stature as he sheds his loneliness and often his work deteriorates. For he does his work alone and if he is a good enough writer he must face eternity, or the lack of it, each day.”

Recommended reading / viewing / listening

Bin Laden’s worries revealed … William Shatner narrates NASA’s new shuttle documentary … Secrets from the Battle of Stalingrad … ‘Octomom’ hates her kids and her life … The fascinating and bloody Haitian Revolution.

Most of these great items come from my Twitter feed or Facebook news feed. Follow me on Twitter and on Facebook for more fascinating videos, articles, essays and criticism. Read past recommendations from this series here.

1. Bin Laden document trove reveals strain on al-Qaeda
By Greg Miller | The Washington Post | July 1
“Toward the end of his decade in hiding, Osama bin Laden was spending as much time exchanging messages about al-Qaeda’s struggles as he was plotting ways for the terrorist network to reassert its strength.”

2. What Is Distant Reading?
By Kathryn Schulz | The New York Times Book Review | June 24
“What are we mortal beings supposed to do with all these books? Franco Moretti has a solution: don’t read them.”

3. Space Shuttle Documentary
NASA | July 1
“This feature-length documentary looks at the history of the most complex machine ever built. For 30 years, NASA’s space shuttle carried humans to and from space, launched amazing observatories, and eventually constructed the next stop on the road to space exploration.”

4. Deadliest Battle
Secrets of the Dead :: PBS | May 20, 2010
“Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 was the largest troop offensive in military history. And the Battle of Stalingrad is arguably the deadliest single battle the world has ever seen. … But 70 years after the battle was fought, newly uncovered documents, survivor accounts, and stunning archival footage are revealing a very different picture of what took place.”

5. NASA’s Spitzer Finds Distant Galaxies Grazed on Gas
Jet Propulsion Laboratory | June 30
“Galaxies once thought of as voracious tigers are more like grazing cows, according to a new study using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope.”

6. Read Bruce Springsteen’s Clarence Clemons Eulogy
By Andrea Kszystyniak | Paste Magazine | June 30
“Standing next to Clarence was like standing next to the baddest ass on the planet. You were proud, you were strong, you were excited and laughing with what might happen, with what together, you might be able to do.”

7. Inside a Russian Billionaire’s $300 Million Yacht
By Robert Frank | The Wall Street Journal | April 15, 2010
“Designed by Philippe Starck, the “A” has quickly become the most loved and loathed ship on the sea. WSJ’s Robert Frank takes an exclusive tour of Andrey Melnichenko’s 394-foot mega-yacht.”

8. Nadya Suleman: Babies disgust me
The Marquee Blog :: CNN.com | June 30
“Suleman, who was labeled with the moniker ‘Octomom’ after she gave birth to octuplets in 2009, told [In Touch magazine], ‘I hate babies, they disgust me.’ She went on, ‘My older six are animals, getting more and more out of control, because I have no time to properly discipline them.’ ”

9. Resolving Insurgencies
By Thomas R. Mockaitis | Strategic Studies Institute | June 17
“Understanding how insurgencies may be brought to a successful conclusion is vital to military strategists and policymakers. This study examines how past insurgencies have ended and how current ones may be resolved.”

10. The Haitian Revolution
By Jeb Sharp | How We Got Here :: PRI’s The World | Jan. 29, 2010
“You can’t understand Haiti without understanding the slave revolt and war for independence that shaped its early days.”

TUNES

Tonight I’m spending some time with the blues, specifically with the Texas Blues Café. Check out the line-up and then listen here.

1. Dennis McClung Blues Band — The Red Rooster
2. Brian Burns with Ray Wylie Hubbard — Little Angel Comes A-Walkin
3. Ray Wylie Hubbard — Cooler-N-Hell
4. Roy Rogers — Little Queen Bee
5. Ted Shumate Blues Band — All Night Long
6. Cactus — The Groover
7. Ian Moore — Muddy Jesus
8. Commitments — Mustang Sally
9. Rocky Jackson — Goin’ Back to Texas
10. Mark McKinney — Comfortable in this Skin & Bonfire
11. Mojo Saints — Gnawin’ Bone
12. Blackfoot — I’ve Got a Line On You