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Tag Archives: historical figure

Badasses in History: Rasputin

26 Sep

When someone uses the phrase “historical figure” you can usually make two assumptions. First, that the person is probably complaining about a paper they have to write (complaining makes everything better); and second, that the “historical figure” in question is probably dead.

We only tend to refer to people as “historical figures” if they’ve been dead for at least half a century or so (sorry Amy Winehouse, but you’ll have to wait). Unfortunately, we can’t be so sure about this week’s Historical Badass. You see, our guy has this thing about cheating death.

Looks like an unholy cross between Steve Buscemi and Marilyn Manson

That’s right, I’m talking about Rasputin, the Mad Monk. Before we get into the whole “this-guy-just-won’t-die-he’s-the-devil-save-us-Jesus” bit, it’s time to provide some background.

But first check out his picture.

Yeah, this dude was one crazy motherfucker. Look into those eyes and tell me you don’t see a gateway to nightmares and years of serious trauma therapy. I don’t think we ever get to see a dementor’s eyes, if it even has them. But if it does, that’s what I think they look like.

I think I’m going to need a drink before this article is over, but we’ll keep going for the moment.

*Deep breath*

Alright. Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin was born in 1869 in the small town of Pokrovskoye, Siberia. Upon exiting the womb, he reportedly cackled and wrote up a pact with the Devil then and there. His parents, understandably concerned, tried to enroll him in the local preschool, but historical texts tell us the effort stalled slightly when the school was inexplicably sucked into another dimension while little Cthulhu sat nearby baking muffins.

Years went by and the wee lad Grigori prospered, and by prospered, I mean got way scarier. Like the kid in that movie The Omen, or a teenage Tom Riddle, Rasputin seemed destined for a pale complexion and dead, soulless eyes with a presence that made small children cry and grown men shit themselves with terror.

Eventually, Rasputin joined a monastery and “found God”—I don’t know what god he found, but it sure wasn’t a happy one—at which point events elsewhere conspired to bring him into the limelight.

Rasputin modeling how to properly smize

As it turned out, the family members of the Czar Nicholas II often sickened and died at fairly young ages, and the Czar understandably wanted to see if someone could fucking do something about it. Shamans, old ladies with “homeopathic medicine,” and even real doctors tried to find out why and affect a cure, but all failed.

As history informs us, the problem was hemophilia, but since today’s pharmaceutical clusterfuck of drugs was unavailable at the time, there wasn’t much that could be done. Making matters even more interesting, bleeding was a common treatment at the time. Yep. Perhaps the one thing that couldn’t possibly make things worse was being used to treat the Czar’s family.

Here it is expressed as a formula: Bleeding+Hemophilia=Lots of Dead People

Rasputin however, claimed to have the answer. And thanks to his deal with the Devil, he soon became a close confidant for the Czar’s family, especially Czar Nicholas’ wife, Alexandra, who grew to regard Rasputin as her closest adviser after he affected “miraculous” cures. She had so much belief in his powers that she believed God spoke through him.

You can guess how that went over.

His immense influence on the family, and thus on Russia’s ruling policies, was not well regarded by a number of men who thought they could do a far better job of fucking things up than Rasputin, so — doing what all Russian politicians do in a time of upheaval and doubt — they decided to kill the guy they felt was responsible.

Strangely, the animated Rasputin looks slightly more human than the real Rasputin did

Things got started when the former prostitute Khionia Guseva attacked Rapustin as he was exiting a church. She stabbed him and cut open his stomach. Eyewitness accounts tell us that Rasputin looked at the wound, flipped off the sky, then healed up Wolverine-style and went out to lunch at the Russian version of Denny’s.

It was then that Rasputin received a lovely dinner invitation from Prince Felix Yusupov, who totally wasn’t going to try to kill him. For some reason Old Grigori accepted the invitation and arrived wearing a batman cape. Taking him down to the cellar, the nobles fed Rasputin tons of food, all laced with cyanide, better known to us today as a rat poison.

Now, this would kill fucking anybody. Rasputin however, shrugged it off like nothing, all the while telling his favorite knock-knock jokes. They must have been bad ones to, because one guy got so pissed off that he shot Rasputin in the back.

The dude blinked less than even Dick Cheney

Relieved that he was finally dead, the nobles started to go off to their coaches, when one idiot realized he’d forgotten his coat. When he went to grab it, Rasputin leaped off the floor like that possessed chick in The Exorcist. Freaked the fuck out, the bastards shot Grigori three more times.

Was he dead?

Nope. The crazy fucker still kept trying to go after them, so they all grabbed clubs and gave him a prison-style beatdown. They then wrapped his body in a sheet and tossed it in the icy — actually, all rivers in Russia are icy — Neva River.

Days later, when Rasputin’s body was found, full of poison, bullet holes, and clubbing wounds, the mortician determined the cause of his death.

Take a guess about what finally killed this preposterously insane fucknut. No really, I’ll wait.

Yep. The cause of death was drowning. He had even broken out of the sheet and tried to swim… with four gunshot wounds and broken bones.

By the way, one of the shots was through his forehead. Yeah.

What. The. Fuck.

To be fair, autopsy reports differ, and several were done on Rasputin with different conclusions, but this is the one I’m going with because, frankly, it’s that badass.

Josh Kopel

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Badasses in History: Winston Churchill

8 Sep

Rumor has it that Churchill fathered his successor to the throne of Badassery, Morty Schapiro

The study of history is, in many ways, the study of humanity. From kings and heroes to slaves and cowards, history provides us with an unrivaled view into the inner workings of the human mind.

But never has any historical figure kicked quite as much ass as Winston Churchill.

Let’s start off by investigating what the man had to work with. On the pros side, he was born the grandson of the seventh Duke of Marlborough. Aristocratic blood? Check. He was enrolled in the best schools. Education? Check. He was a brilliant politician. Acumen? Check. Oh, he also beat the Nazis. Awesomeness? Check.

Now for the cons. That school he was in? He hated it and got bad grades. Good GPA? Not check. He was fat…and rude…and a bit of a drunk. Winning personality? Not check. At the time of his political achievements, he faced a weak parliament and a weaker aristocracy. Strong support system for confronting foreign difficulties and interacting with the power-hungry, vicious Nazis? Not check.

The man was born with five-pound jowls

So to recap: Winston Churchill was born rich, but balked at any attempts to civilize him beyond what was required to find and light cigars, and—who could forget?— jimmy open the liquor cabinet. He then went off to the Royal Military College where he had the option of enrolling in either the cavalry or the infantry. He chose the cavalry. Why? Because it had a lower grade requirement and he hated math. Here was a man who had his priorities straight.

At that point, his father asked that he transfer to the infantry, to which I can only presume Winston replied: “Suck it.” Whatever his exact words, he stayed in the cavalry for some time until he got bored—again I can only assume because he was too bitching at everything for his regiment to handle—at which point he became a journalist and war-correspondent. Even more awesome (if such a thing could be possible) Churchill then went to Cuba to follow a conflict between Spain and the Cuban rebels, where he learned about cigars. His response was reportedly to blow smoke in the face of the Spanish General Ramon de Not-As-Mind-Blowing-as-Churchill. As history has taught us, this ended the war then and there.

But while his early life was too grandiose for words, it was Churchill’s later life that cemented his place as history’s greatest badass. You see, Churchill’s greatest quality was this: he was fucking hilarious. Yes, Churchill played a central role in the defeat of the Axis powers and the preservation of Great Britain beyond the bombing of London. But all of that nonsense pales in comparison to his rollicking contributions to insult comedy.

This image was captured moments after Churchill listed off the gut-wrenchingly filthy sexual activities he had engaged in with Stalin's mother

Though Churchill’s insults can — and do — fill entire books, some of them stick as even more groin-grabbingly funny than others. When asked about his opinion of Neville Chamberlain (who some of you may remember as the dickwad who tried appeasing the Nazis as British Prime Minister before Churchill), Old Winston had this to say: “He looked at foreign affairs through the wrong end of a municipal drainpipe.” In other words: “That dude is a shitface.”

On cultured people, tubby had this to say: “Cultured people are merely the glittering scum which floats upon the deep river of production.” What a baller.

Still, as funny as Churchill was in general, he had two particular adversaries with whom he had supreme moments of insulting hilarity: Lady Nancy Astor, member of Parliament and second-class comic, and playwright George Bernard Shaw.

We’ll start with Shaw. Both intellectuals (Shaw of the kind that actually does things of artistic and literary merit, and Churchill of the kind that makes fun of those things), the two often enjoyed exchanging witticisms. Shaw, no real fan of Churchill’s, thought it might be funny to send Winston a pair of tickets to Shaw’s newest play, Major Barbara. Accompanying the tickets was a short note: “Have reserved two tickets for opening night. Bring a friend, if you have one.”

Now, at this point, any lesser man would have accepted the truly hilarious burn at face value. Not Chubby Churchill. He wired back—in a moment where even God himself spit out his top ramen in laughter—”Cannot possibly come first night, will attend second, if there is one.”

Awesome.

Onto adversary number two: Lady Astor. The two had a long legacy of mocking one another, Astor for Churchill’s rampant alcoholism and obesity, Churchill for Astor’s general bitchiness. Who can forget this exchange:

He usually only needed one of those fingers to properly express himself

Astor: If you were my husband, I’d poison your tea.
Churchill: Madam, if you were my wife, I’d drink it.

Again, awesome. But these clashes of wits pale in comparison to a later insult. One particular evening, Churchill came to a party visibly drunk and irate, so much so that a Mrs. Bessie Braddock quite publicly remarked, “Mr. Churchill, you are drunk!” But Winston, drunk or not, knew a challenge when he heard one. After shouting “Challenge Accepted!” he looked the offending woman in the eye (or chest, as Churchill was not one for manners) and said: “Yes, and you, Madam, are ugly but tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be ugly.”

So yeah, no one rocked the house like Winston.

Some more Churchill insults for your consideration:

  • Young man (after seeing Churchill leave the bathroom without washing his hands): At Eton they taught us to wash our hands after using the toilet.
    Churchill: At Harrow they taught us not to piss on our hands.
  • [Referring to Arthur Balfour] If you wanted nothing done at all, Balfour was the man for the job.
  • The British Prime Minister after single-handedly clearing Juno Beach during D-Day

  • Churchill: Madam, would you sleep with me for five million pounds?
    Woman: My goodness, Mr. Churchill… Well, I suppose… we would have to discuss terms, of course…
    Churchill: Would you sleep with me for five pounds?
    Woman: Mr. Churchill, what kind of woman do you think I am?!
    Churchill: Madam, we’ve already established that. Now we are haggling about the price.

And now for the winner:

  • [Referring to Charles De Gaulle] He looks like a female llama who has been surprised in the bath.

Josh Kopel