27 on the 27th

August 30, 2005

(This post written over the course of several days as a test of Ecto.)

Saturday was the birthday. I’ve done this 27 times now, with mixed results. Two years ago, Mars drew as close to the Earth as it ever does, and it did it on my birthday. This year, I turned 27 years-old on the 27th. I’ll never do that again.

Let’s break it down:

I’m 27 now. (9,729 days.) Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Kurt Cobain were each 27 when they died.

I share my birthday with Mother Teresa and Pee-Wee Herman, as well as Peter Stormare, who’s film The Brothers Grimm I saw on Thursday. Japanese shogun Ashikaga Yoshikazu was born on August 27th in 1407 but Chokei, Emperor of Japan, died on the same date in 1394. He’s not the only emperor to do it, though: Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, died on August 27th, 1975.

Pope Sixtus V died on the same date, back in 1590. Beatles manager Brian Epstein died on the same date, 377 years after Pope Sixtus.

All of the above deaths are outnumbered by those at the Battle of Dresden or the Battle of Long Island, both of which took place on August 27th. The Visigoths finished with Rome on August 27th, 410, while the Persians gave up on Greece the same day in 479 BC. Also on this date, Union soldiers killed Confederates at Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, Russians killed Turks at Akhaltzikke, and Krakatau killed Indonesians residing in its shadow.

It hasn’t all been deaths and birthdays, of course. The first successful oil well started pumping in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859, and look how that turned out. Spacecraft Mariner 2 launched on the 27th of August in ’62 and the first jet aircraft flew in ’39. Julius Caesar first set foot on Britain on the 239th day [1] of 55 BC, which is one of those facts that I carry around in the hope that’ll somehow become synergistically relevant to my life.

August 27th is also a holiday, if you’re a Roman pagan. Volturnalia is celebrated that day, in honor of Volturnus, god of the waters and of fountains and, eventually, of the Tiber River. Traditionally, Volturnalia is a day of feasting, wine-drinking and games. We ate dim sum at Sampan, drank Strongbow and played Halo 2 and liar’s dice.

The number 27 is also the smallest positive composite number that’s not divisible by either of its digits. It’s also a perfect cube: 3 x 3 x 3 = 27. Dial 27 to call South Africa. Atomic number of cobalt? It’s 27. It’s also half of comedian/actor Charles Fleischer’s (Who Framed Roger Rabbit?) moleeds theory, which I memorized as a kid when I saw him perform it on The Tonight Show. Looking back on it, that may have been my first exposure to occult numerology. (Charles Fleischer, by the way, was also born on August 27th; he turned 55 on Saturday.)

For me, this August 27th was spent with Marty, Tony and Jackie, who flew in from Chicago as a surprise, and my lovely wife, Sara, who arranged the whole thing. Phil and Sara (make your jokes) joined us for dim sum, much to my delight, and gave me the book about HBO’s The Wire, which is excellent because it contains sentences written by David Simon.

It was a good year for gifts. I am a materialistic bastard who loves to get, have and give things of all sorts. This year I got a great ibrik, a gift certificate for Threadless.com, a life-like dragon, a goblet full of “byud,” a book of snappy put-downs (“If I had a face like yours, I’d walk backwards.”), cigars, a rad mix CD, Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and tickets to see Henry Fucking Rollins doing his spoken word show live this fall.

(If you’re still doing some shopping, may I take this opportunity to remind you that I do not yet have seasons 3 through 7 of Homicide: Life on the Street or any seasons of The Wire on DVD.)

Also, saw The Aristocrats.

A good day.

Noise: Jem, “They”

1. You guessed it: August 27th. Of course, that count is based on the Gregorian calendar, and so doesn’t quite jive with the count Julius Caesar would’ve come up with using the Roman calendar, in use back when he first trod the not-yet-English grass. Ten years after his British landing the Julian calendar, which he invented, was put into effect, but even that doesn’t quite line up with our modern count. Anyway.

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  1. That was by far the most eloquent exposition of why one’s birthday is interesting I’ve ever read. Happy b-day!

  2. Happy Birthday. I never knew that much about August 27th. Or you for that matter.

  3. Happy Birthday!

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