I've been off the blog for more than a week. I do have a good excuse: pneumonia. Gave new meaning to the term "sick in bed." Racked with pain and weak as an overcooked noodle. I was going to say "weak as a kitten" but then thought of all the kittens I've ever known. They may be small but weak? I think not. It's sobering to be sick for both my 62nd birthday and Christmas. This aging road may be as rocky as they say. I've spent the last nine months losing weight, eating better and swimming laps three times a week at the Y. And one tiny no-see-um bacterium sneaks into my lungs and knocks me down. Thank God for antibiotics and health insurance and good doctors and helpful pharmacists and my loving wife and good friends and understanding coworkers.
I've watched a lot of movies, not all good. I did finally see "The King's Speech" and really enjoyed it. Geoffrey Rush was brilliant as an engaging, irreverent speech therapist to a king. I'm no friend to the British Royal Family, but I wanted to belt out a few huzzahs for Colin Firth's tongue-tied Edward VI as he made his first war speech. I watched a number of films set in wartime. "Joe and Max" was a biopic about the Joe Louis and Max Schmeling boxing matches of 1936 and 1938. Joe was America's "Brown Bomber," knocking out one white fighter after another on his way to the championship. The entire time was being ripped off by his white promoters. Schmeling's Jewish-American promoter got the fighter a match with Louis in New York. Herr Goebbels calls in Schmeling to dissuade him from the fight, wondering how it would look if a fighter from National Socialist Germany got beat by a negro. Max would have none of it; he figured he was bigger than the Nazis and could do what he wanted. In a way, he was right. He won the match by decision with the American crowd shouting "Max" instead of "Joe." He returned home a conquering hero. When the crowd yelled "Heil Hitler" and raised the Nazi salute, so did Max. He wasn't a member of the party and didn't think it mattered. That all changed two years later. To get permission to go to America, Max has to sign a manuscript, "Boxing as a Race Matter." It's a racist screed against non-white athletes. This time in New York, he'd beset by anti-Nazi protests that turn very personal. The crowd is pro-Joe this time and Joe KOs Max. Nobody's waiting at the airport for Max when he returns this time.
The two fighters both serve in the war. Joe fought bouts to sell war bonds. Max served in combat. They kept up a relationship until Joe passed away in 1981. Joe was broke from millions in IRS debts, so Max paid for the military funeral. Max was pretty well off, working for Coca Cola in Germany from the 1950s until retiring in 2000 at the age of 95. Max Schmeling says drink more coke, ya'll!