Thursday 28 November 2013

Per Usual, I'm Thankful for Dicks!

Because it's boring for everyone to say "I'm thankful for my family and friends." Here are some Dicks I'm thankful for 24-7, 365.

Real Richards

            As you might have noticed, this fine blog does not limit itself to discussing actual, flesh-and-blood dudes named Richard; it also covers fictional, ink-and-paper dudes named Richard. But I’ll give the real people their due first, since, after all, they were real.

            One: Richard III. I know it’s pretty messed up to be thankful for a usurping, murdering medieval king (not that Richard III was the only usurping, murdering medieval king), but that’s just how things go. Richard III’s existence has noticeably enriched my life – in both a figurative and monetary sense. The controversy surrounding Richard III (was he a murdering, hunch-backed monster or a pretty cool guy?) introduced me to the interpretative aspect of history – in other words, it showed me what real history is. History is NOT (contrary to what high school suggests) a bunch of names, dates, and facts. History is the gathering of evidence, the careful interpretation of evidence, and the use of that evidence to construct a reasonable, well-supported hypothesis about how people lived in the past. If you branch out beyond textbooks, you realize that our understanding of history is always changing, being modified as new evidence is found or as new scholars tackle new questions with new perspectives. High-school history is oversimplified, often boring, and sometimes incorrect. Real history is more of a detective adventure. It is way more awesome than what you get in school.

            Propaganda aside, Richard III made me want to be a historian. Richard III, as a topic of conversation, also served as a point of common interest between me and a local professor, who was a sort-of mentor for me when I was in high school. Furthermore, Richard III gave me a great hook when writing my graduate school application essays. Recently, a society devoted to clearing the name of Richard III gave me money to do some research, so I owe the man a “thank-you” for some cold, hard cash. Not to mention Richard’s life has been a fertile field for sowing the seeds of historical fiction. Although many of these books are rubbish, some are pretty good, and all of them provide hours of wonderful entertainment. To sum up: Richard III has inspired my career path, helped me win money, and given me entertainment fodder. Richard, I owe you one, man. Thank you for existing, as your life has benefited me.

            Two: Richard II. Not only did this king’s pathos-filled downfall inspire one of Shakespeare’s better history plays, his failure to have children gave me a dissertation topic.

Actually, Richard II is also a fascinating king to study when it comes to the interpretative aspects of history. There are some historians who have claimed he had a mental illness, while others contend he just sucked. But it's much more complicated than that, and Richard's reign deserves further study.

Plus, Richard really loved his wife Anne of Bohemia, and she was awesome.
Fictional Richards

            This blog does not discriminate against the fictional. If you are named Richard, this blog will attempt to do you justice. Physical existence not required!

            One: Dick Grayson. The original Robin, with his green short pants and pixie boots, will always hold a place in my heart. He is such a diggity dank character. Courtesy of his numerous appearances, which span the realms of comics, movies, television, cartoons, fan fiction, novels, and video games, I’m quite confident there are enough portrayals of Dick Grayson out there to entertain me for a lifetime. According to the comic vine website (, Dick has made over four thousand comic book appearances! And while that pales in comparison to the over nine thousand Batman has made, Dick outranks Wonder Woman (but only by about one hundred). So thank you, Dick, for making sure that whenever I’m bored, there will be a comic/story/movie/tv episode featuring you out there to entertain me.

            Two: Richard Lander. This Richard is a main character in the first two novels of the Ann Rinaldi Quilt Trilogy (the two books being A Stitch in Time and Broken Days). When I was in middle school, I loved the heck out of these young-adult books.

            Three: the Richards from The Black Arrow. This book was written by “Holy Robert Louis Stevenson,” and is one of his minor works. The protagonist, however, is named Richard Shelton, which means this work is aces in my book. The Black Arrow is the story of said Richard Shelton realizing that his father was murdered by his current guardian, and his adventures to avoid getting murdered himself and reclaim his birthright. He is helped along the way by the “Fellowship of the Black Arrow,” a group of outlaw dudes whose leader (the awesomely-named Ellis Duckworth) was a good buddy of Richard’s father. (So yeah, the book has obvious debts to Robin Hood, but Stevenson didn’t need to reinvent the wheel, he just needed to put food on the table). This book is made even more diggity dank by taking place during the Wars of the Roses, which means Richard III makes an appearance! Richard III appears in his full-hunchbacked glory, but isn’t really portrayed as a terrible guy. He is, however, considerably older than he was in actuality; pre-king Richard III leads men in battle during the book, but in real life he was just a kid. There’s also some romance thrown in and it has a happy ending, so it’s an all-around feel-good story. My main complaint is that the 1948 black-and-white movie version of this book is terrible! I mean, it sucks balls, people. They have swordfights in which people are killed yet miraculously shed no blood and the main character is supposed to be seventeen but is played by a forty-year-old man (who looks old). It’s a disgrace. The Wishbone episode on this book (which is, incidentally, how I found out about this novel in the first place) is a hundred times better – and Richard Shelton is a dog in that. But check the book out – it’s free on Kindle!

            I would also like to take this moment to express my gratitude to the Oxford English Dictionary and the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. You are two of the finest databases out there. If you are a college/university student reading this, check your library’s website. You should have free access to these electronic resources – use them. They are epic.

            Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday 2 October 2013


2 October 1452 - 22 August 1485

Thursday 15 August 2013

Richard Hatch

I have come across a few men named Richard Hatch, so here's a quick low-down.

Colonial Richard Hatch

In early 17th-century Virginia, a young apprentice named Richard Hatch was brought before the colony's ruling council. Apparently, Richard had made an indiscreet comment (in a private home) concerning the execution of a fellow colonist for sodomy. Richard had said "'that in his consyence' he thought that the settler was 'put to death wrongfully.'"* For such apparently egregious sass, Richard was sentenced to be whipped to and from the gallows, stand in the pillory, lose one of his ears, and restart his term as an apprentice (despite being nearly finished). A harsh punishment indeed!

*James West Davidson and Mark Hamilton Lytle, After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection, 6th edition (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2010), 46. This is a really cool book about American history; I recommend you check it out at a library because it's a bit expensive.

Actor Richard Hatch

Richard Lawrence Hatch is an actor who was born 21 May 1945. Although he has appeared in the odd episode of Murder She Wrote and The Love Boat, he is best known for Battlestar Galactica. Richard appeared in the original BG as Captain Apollo. That show lasted for only one season (1978). Richard spent years trying to revive BG, but when the show was remade in 2003 he was initially not a part of it. Richard was highly critical of the new show before it even aired, but he was reconciled. In 2004 he was cast as Tom Zarek, making him the only actor to appear in both versions of BG.

Survivor Richard Hatch

This Richard Hatch is the infamous winner of the first season of Survivor, which aired back in 2000. He's famous for playing naked (eww), being an asshole, and going to prison for tax evasion. Hatch was so sinister that  in 2013 TV Guide placed him on their list of "The 60 Nastiest Villains of All Time." Wow.

Friday 9 August 2013

Bran Castle and Poenari Fortress, Romania

I just got back from Romania, so I thought I would share some castle pictures. These are not directly related to Dicks, but everyone loves a good castle, so I hope you all will let it slide.

Bran Castle

For medieval purposes, Bran Castle is not so hot. The castle is in really nice shape because the royal family lived there during the inter-war years. Consequently, the castle has been updated, so you don't see much that screams "medieval," aside from it being a castle. Bran looks somewhat medieval from the outside, though. Despite that, it's a fun place to visit. It can get a bit crowded in the summer (the interior of the castle is not very large), but if you arrive before 11 AM, you should be fine. Bran Castle is not associated with Vlad the Impaler, but Bram Stoker said in his novel that Count Dracula lived in Bran Castle.

Poenari Fortress is associated with Vlad: he built part of it. Because of that, the fortress has fake impaled people at the entrance for your viewing pleasure. The rest of the castle is largely in ruins, so you really get that medieval vibe.

Visiting Poenari is not for the faint of heart. You have to climb 1480 stairs to reach the top. Thankfully, the stairs are under shade, but it's quite the hike. The views are great, though, and you get a real sense of accomplishment when you reach the top!

Thursday 1 August 2013

Richard Brinsley Sheridan

This Richard was a playwright and politician in eighteenth-century England. He is best known for his plays, such as The Rivals, School for Scandal, and A Trip to Scarborough (the first two are probably more famous than the third).

Richard was born in Dublin, Ireland on 30 October 1751. The family moved to London when Richard was seven, and he spent most of the rest of his life in England.

Aside from being a talented playwright, Richard was surrounded by talented people. His mother was a playwright and novelist, while his father wrote a number of books about education and the need to standardize the English language. Richard's wife, Elizabeth (daughter of a composer), had a beautiful singing voice and regularly sold-out concert halls in her youth. Her father wanted her to marry a man she didn't like (not Richard), and her domestic drama was subsequently made into a play entitled The Maid of Bath (it was a comedy, however).

Speaking of Richard and Elizabeth, the early days of their marriage were fit for the stage. The two eloped in 1772, when Richard was on the cusp of 21 and Elizabeth was three years younger. Although married in France by a Catholic priest, their marriage was deemed invalid since both were underage. Eventually, their marriage was accepted by Elizabeth's father (who had wanted her to marry a wealthier man), and the marriage was subsequently recognized as valid. The two were re-married in England in April of 1773.

During those early months, when the marriage's validity was touch-and-go, a man named Thomas Mathews publicly besmirched Elizabeth's honor in the newspaper. Naturally, Richard had to fight a duel to defend her. The initial duel was rather a non-starter. The two had to move venues (the initial place was too crowded), and Richard defeated Thomas without shedding any blood. Thomas later challenged Richard to a second duel, in which Richard was actually severely wounded. Obviously, he recovered.

Richard and Elizabeth moved to London, and Richard began to write and produce plays. The Rivals premiered in 1775. In 1776, Richard, his father-in-law, and another partner purchased half of the Drury Lane Theatre. By 1778 Richard owned the entire theatre.

Richard's most famous play, School for Scandal, appeared in 1777. It is considered to be one of the greatest comedies of manners ever written in English. Although Richard is not a household name today, his comedies are quite witty and carefully crafted. I recommend that you read some!

In 1780 Richard began his second career as a member of Parliament. He was a Whig and (of interest to us Americans) a supporter of the American colonists in their rebellion. During his 32 years in Parliament (Richard failed to win re-election is 1812), Richard gave many great orations and made plenty of sassy comments. As told by that glorious purveyor of knowledge, Wikipedia:

1793 Edmund Burke "made a speech in which he claimed there were thousands of French agents in Britain ready to use weapons against the authorities. To dramatically emphasise his point he threw down a knife onto the floor of the House of Commons. Sheridan is said to have shouted out "Where's the fork?", which led to much of the house collapsing in laughter." [From Arnold-Baker, Charles. The Companion to British History. Longcross Press, 1996, page 393].

If you would care to learn more about Richard's political career, check his entry in the great Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

Anyway, Richard spent his entire life living beyond his means. Being an MP meant he couldn't be arrested for debt; when he lost his re-election bid in 1812, the creditors came calling. Since the Drury Lane Theatre had burned down in 1809, Richard didn't have much income and he died in poverty in 1816. He was, however, buried in Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey and had a celebrity's funeral.

Despite his glorious wit, Richard was not entirely a roguish good guy. Despite the trouble he went through to marry Elizabeth, he had several affairs. His wife contemplated leaving him around 1789, but was persuaded otherwise. She ended up having an affair in 1791; her lover was the father of her daughter, born in 1792. This pregnancy (Elizabeth and Richard had a son born in 1774) exacerbated Elizabeth's tuberculosis and she died a few months later. Her daughter, treated by Richard as his child, sadly died in 1793. Richard remarried in 1795, and had a son with his second wife, Hester. In later years, Hester also had an affair. No doubt Richard did, too.

Although he was a man of many faults, Richard was highly regarded at his death. Even Lord Byron was a fan.

Read More:

A. Norman Jeffares, ‘Sheridan, Richard Brinsley (1751–1816)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edn, Jan 2008 [].

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Richard Dean Anderson

Perhaps better known as either MacGyver or Jack O'Neill, Richard was born in Minnesota on 23 January 1950. In his youth, Richard dreamed of being a professional hockey player, but two broken arms subsequently caused him to alter his dreams.

After dropping out of college because he wasn't feeling it, Richard eventually settled in Los Angeles (in the early 1970s). He worked a variety of jobs including: marine mammal trainer, musician at a medieval dinner theatre (sweet!), and juggler. Apparently, Richard really loved juggling, and once mentioned that he would like to teach circus arts to disadvantaged youths. (FYI: circus school is real. I have a friend who attends - she is learning the trapeze, among other things).

In 1976, Richard got his first big television role. He was cast as Dr. Jeff Webber on General Hospital. Richard played that part until 1981, after which he was on a series of short-lived shows.

Richard rocketed to fame in 1985 when he started playing MacGyver, lead character of the eponymous show. MacGyver's first name is Angus, but apparently viewers weren't privy to that fact until the last season. MacGyver ran for seven seasons (1985-1992), and was a very busy time for Richard. Since he was the star (along with his Swiss Army knife), he was in almost every frame. According to him, he had very little time for a life during those seven years.

From 1997 to 2005, Richard played Jack O'Neill in the television show Stargate SG-1. The show was based on the movie Stargate; Richard played the character initially played by Kurt Russell. The president of MGM asked Richard to act in the show, which Richard agreed to after careful consideration. Richard had two requests: he could portray his character in a more comedic way than Russell had in the movie and the show would be an ensemble cast. Richard did not want to be as busy as he had been when filming MacGyver. I think those were reasonable requests. Comedy rules, and ensemble shows are great. They give more actors a chance to shine. I realize Richard was primarily thinking of himself when making that request, but it's nice for a more-established actor to request more screen time for the lesser-knowns.

Richard had a daughter in 1998. As she grew, he wanted to spend more time with her. Consequently, Richard reduced his appearances on Stargate, becoming a frequent guest star rather than a permanent cast member. He has also appeared in Stargate follow-ups Stargate Atlantis and Stargate Universe.

Richard was made an honorary brigadier general by the Air Force in 2004 because Stargate portrayed the Air Force in a positive light. He has also received awards from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, he avidly supports the Special Olympics, and he works to combat water pollution and multiple sclerosis.

Overall, Richard sounds like a cool guy. He enjoys The Simpsons and happily stars in commercials that mock MacGyver. What a good sport.


Richard Dean Anderson Comic Con 2008.jpg
Richard in 2008

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Dicks Getting Crowns

July is a big month for Richards becoming kings. Today, July 16, was the day of Richard II's coronation back in 1377. Richard was only ten years old at the time, and he supposedly was so tired by the end that Sir Simon Burley, his tutor, had to carry him out.

Earlier this month was the coronation of Richard III and his wife Anne Neville. This double coronation took place on July 6, 1483.

Finally, Henry II died on July 6, 1189. Consequently, Richard I became king on July 6 - the same day Richard III had his coronation. Did Richard III do that on purpose?

Some images to celebrate:
File:Church of Fontevraud Abbey Richard I effigy.jpg