31 — Edward Teach

a.k.a: Blackbeard

Occupation: Pirate

Born: 1680

Died: 1718

Brief Description:
Edward Teach or Blackbeard’s origins are very mysterious for such a well-known pirate. Pirates habitually used fictitious surnames while engaged in piracy so as not to tarnish the family name so it’s unlikely that Teach was his real name but the commonly accepted theory is that he was a commoner born in Bristol during the 1680s, moved to the Caribbean to become a privateer during Queen Anne’s War and later settled in the Bahamian island of New Providence to become a pirate.

Blackbeard’s pirate life was characterized by his imposing appearance and his willingness to use intimidation tactics to get what he wanted. He was known for his long black beard, which he often tied into multiple braids and tucked under his hat, as well as his propensity for wearing multiple pistols and swords at once. He was also known to light fuses in his beard and hat, creating a smoky, intimidating appearance that struck fear into the hearts of his enemies.

Despite his fearsome reputation, there is evidence to suggest that Blackbeard was not as violent as his legend suggests. He is rumored to have never killed a captive or harmed a crew member who surrendered peacefully. Instead, he often preferred to use intimidation tactics rather than violence to get what he wanted.

Blackbeard’s most famous conquest was the capture of the French slave ship La Concorde in 1717, which he converted into his flagship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge. After capturing La Concorde, Blackbeard made a number of modifications to the ship, transforming it into a heavily armed pirate vessel. He added 40 guns to the ship’s arsenal, as well as a crew of over 300 men. The ship was also outfitted with extra masts and rigging, which allowed it to travel at high speeds and maneuver with ease.

At that time, Blackbeard was at the height of his power, with a fleet of several ships and a reputation as one of the most fearsome pirates on the seas. And under his command, the Queen Anne’s Revenge became one of the most feared ships on the seas and was involved in numerous battles and raids.

In May 1718, Blackbeard carried out a daring blockade of Charleston, South Carolina, which was one of the busiest ports in the American colonies. His goal was to extract a ransom from the city and to capture valuable hostages, including the governor. The blockade began on May 24, when Blackbeard sailed his ships into the harbor and demanded that the city surrender. He then ordered his men to set up a blockade at the mouth of the harbor, effectively cutting off all sea traffic to and from the city. Over the course of the next week, Blackbeard and his crew looted several vessels that attempted to leave the harbor, including a ship that was carrying the governor’s personal effects. They also captured several high-ranking officials, including Samuel Wragg, the Speaker of the Commons House of Assembly, and Thomas Smith, the former governor of South Carolina. Despite the chaos and disruption caused by Blackbeard’s blockade, the city of Charleston refused to pay the ransom that he demanded. In the end, Blackbeard sailed his fleet into the harbor and terrified the locals but left with a plunder worth less than two thousand pounds.

Later in June 1718, the Queen Anne’s Revenge ran aground on a sandbar, cracking her main mast and severely damaging many of her timbers beyond repair. Having lost the Queen Anne’s Revenge, Blackbeard accepted a royal pardon and settled down in Bath. But while he seemed to be living an honest life now, he had actually taken piracy to a new level. His men roamed the Carolina rivers taking ships as they always had done.

In response to the growing threat, the governor of Virginia, Alexander Spotswood, dispatched a naval expedition led by Lieutenant Robert Maynard to capture or kill the notorious pirate. The two forces engaged in a fierce battle off the coast of North Carolina, during which Blackbeard was killed. According to some reports, he sustained as many as five gunshot wounds and twenty sword cuts before finally succumbing to his injuries.

Teach’s corpse was thrown into the inlet and his head was suspended from the bowsprit of Maynard’s sloop. On their return to Virginia, Teach’s head was placed on a pole at the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay as a warning to other pirates and a greeting to other ships, and it stood there for several years.

Why he’s on the list:
As you’ve probably noticed already, skill and charisma are two recurring points in my portraits and with Blackbeard, it’s no different. It is believed that Teach was a skilled sailor and tactician, which allowed him to quickly rise through the ranks and become a captain in his own right and his imposing appearance helped him get the intimidation and respect he wanted.

But if Blackbeard is on this list, it’s to represent the pirates from the golden age of piracy as a whole. Not only was he an iconic pirate but he was also friends with many of the other famous pirates of that time. And many of his actions were often carried out for the benefit of piracy in general rather than his own personal gain.

So why do I like pirates?
Simply because they were free, free of a captive world filled with rules.

Pirates also had quite democratic systems in place and members of the crew had equal rights. They were also generally anti-racism and anti-slavery. And they were seen by many as the good guys, despite what the history books make them look like. And that is one of the main reasons why governments and influential figures were constantly afraid of them.

And then of course there’s the romance of the sea, the sword fights and the thrill of great adventures!

32 — Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino

a.k.a: Raphael

Occupation: Painter

Born: 1483

Died: 1520

Brief Description:
Raffaello Sanzio was born on April 6, 1483, in Urbino, Italy. He began his artistic career in Urbino as an apprentice to his father, Giovanni Santi, who was a court painter. In 1499, at the age of 17, he moved to Florence to study the works of other Renaissance masters, including Leonardo and Michelangelo.

In 1504, Raphael returned to Urbino, where he established his own workshop and began to receive important commissions. In 1508, he was summoned to Rome by Pope Julius II to decorate the Vatican Palace with frescoes. This was a turning point in Raphael’s career, and he remained in Rome for the rest of his life.

While in Rome, Raphael created some of his most famous works, including “The School of Athens,” “The Sistine Madonna,” and the “Pope Julius II Portrait.” He was also an accomplished architect, and designed several buildings, including the Chigi Chapel in Santa Maria della Pace and the Vatican Loggias.

In his famous book “The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects” published in 1550, Giorgio Vasari, an Italian writer, artist, and architect who lived during the same time as Raphael, wrote that Raphael’s paintings were characterized by their “grace, charm, and beauty.” He also praised Raphael’s mastery of composition, line, and color, and described him as a master of portraiture, who had the ability to capture the essence of his subjects.

Vasari also wrote about Raphael’s social skills, describing him as a charming and likable man who was loved and respected by his contemporaries. He also mentions Raphael’s love affairs, and his reputation as a ladies’ man, but praises him for his modest and unassuming nature.

Raphael’s premature death at the age of 37 was a great loss to the art world, but his legacy lives on through his works. He was a visionary artist, who combined technical mastery with a deep understanding of the human form and emotion. He was a true Renaissance man, who excelled in both painting and architecture and who is still considered one of the greatest artists of all time.

Why he’s on the list:
I started liking the Italian Renaissance at a very young age, when I found out that Splinter had named his Ninja Turtles after his four favorite Renaissance artists. And while Michelangelo was my favorite Ninja Turtle, Raphael was my favorite painter. =)

Raphael’s paintings are beautiful. But what I mainly love about them is the sprezzatura that emanates from them, a certain nonchalance or effortless grace in artistic expression. (More on that in a future portrait.)
Raphael had the ability to capture the essence of his subjects in his portraits. He was able to convey the emotions and personality of his subjects with a naturalness that was unique for his time.

He truly was one of the great masters of the Renaissance and as such, he deserves a spot on this list.

33 — Wilbur and Orville Wright

a.k.a: Will and Orv

Occupation: Inventors

Born: 1867 & 1871

Died: 1912 & 1948

Brief Description:
The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were American inventors and pioneers of aviation. They are credited with designing and building the world’s first successful airplane, the 1903 Wright Flyer.

The brothers were born in Dayton, Ohio, Orville on August 19, 1871, and Wilbur on April 16, 1867. They were the sons of Milton Wright, a bishop of the United Brethren Church, and Susan Catherine Koerner Wright. Growing up, they were fascinated by mechanics and flight. They built and flew kites and gliders, and read everything they could find about the subject.

In 1892, the Wright brothers opened a bicycle sales and repair shop in Dayton, which they used as a base for their growing interest in flight. They began experimenting with gliders in the late 1800s, and eventually built their own wind tunnel to test wing designs. They studied the works of other aviation pioneers such as George Cayley, Otto Lilienthal, and Octave Chanute, and began to develop their own ideas about how to achieve powered flight.

In 1900, the Wright brothers built and tested their first glider at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, a location they chose for its steady winds and soft sand dunes. Despite initial setbacks, they continued to improve their designs, and in 1903 they were ready to attempt powered flight. On December 17, 1903, Orville piloted the first flight, which lasted 12 seconds and covered 120 feet. Wilbur piloted the fourth and final flight of the day, which lasted 59 seconds and covered 852 feet.

After their historic flights, the Wright brothers continued to improve their designs and made several more flights in the following years. They eventually opened the Wright Brothers Flying School in Montgomery, Alabama, and began selling airplanes to the military and other customers. They made their first public flight in 1908 at Huffman Prairie, Ohio, and in 1909, they made their first flight in Europe.

The Wright brothers’ contributions to aviation were significant and far-reaching. They developed the three-axis control system, which is still used on airplanes today, and their designs served as the basis for future aircraft. They received numerous accolades and honors during their lifetime, including the French Legion of Honor, and were inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in Dayton, Ohio, in 1973.

Orville Wright died on January 30, 1948, and Wilbur Wright died on May 30, 1912, both in Dayton, Ohio. Their legacy is still celebrated today as they are considered as the fathers of modern aviation. The Wright Brothers’ achievements were not only a technological breakthrough but also a significant moment in human history as it opened up a new era of transportation and communication.

Why they’re on the list:
The Wright brothers were fascinated by flight since their early age when their father brought home a toy helicopter. Wilbur and Orville played with it until it broke and then built their own. Their experience with the toy was the spark of their interest in flying.

At the time, many people and institutions with much higher budgets were also interested in building the first successful airplane. But what gave the Wright brothers an edge was their willingness to build and try out many different prototypes, adjusting and improving them each time.

At a time when flight was generally believed to be impossible, these two unassuming brothers were confident enough and passionate enough to prove to the world that humans could indeed fly. I have a few personal projects of my own that I am passionate about and that I hope to achieve one day and the Wright brothers’ story is an inspiration and an example to follow in the pursuit of these seemingly unattainable goals.

34 — Marcus Aurelius

a.k.a: Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus

Occupation: Emperor

Born: 121

Died: 180

Brief Description:
Marcus Aurelius was born in Rome in 121 AD. He was the son of a Roman aristocrat and was well-educated in philosophy and literature. He became interested in Stoicism, a school of thought that emphasized the importance of living in accordance with reason and virtue.

As a young man, Marcus became close friends with the future emperor Antoninus Pius, and he later married Antoninus’ daughter, Faustina. When Antoninus became emperor in 138 AD, he appointed Marcus as his co-ruler, and upon Antoninus’ death in 161 AD, Marcus became the sole ruler of the Roman Empire.

Marcus Aurelius is best known for his role in leading the Roman Empire during a time of political and military turmoil. During his reign, the empire was threatened by invasions from barbarian tribes and was also plagued by natural disasters, including a series of devastating plagues. Despite these challenges, he remained committed to his philosophical beliefs and sought to apply them to the governance of the empire. He was known for his fair and just rule, and he worked to improve the lives of his subjects by building public works, such as aqueducts and roads, and by establishing charitable institutions.

In addition to his political accomplishments, Marcus Aurelius is also known for his writings, which include the famous “Meditations,” a series of philosophical reflections on the Stoic way of life. In these writings, Aurelius reflects on his own experiences and struggles and offers wisdom and guidance on how to live a virtuous life.

Marcus Aurelius is remembered as a wise and just ruler who was deeply committed to living a virtuous life. His philosophy has had a lasting influence on Western thought and continues to be studied and admired to this day. He is often considered one of the greatest philosophers in history and is revered as a symbol of courage, wisdom, and integrity.

Why he’s on the list:
I could talk about Marcus Aurelius’ virtues or his character or some of his achievements or go in depth into some of his thoughts from Meditations. And I do like the Stoic philosophy in general. But none of those are the real reason he’s on my list.

When Marcus Aurelius wrote his Meditations, it didn’t have a title (at least not that we know of). It probably wasn’t even meant to be published and was later simply referred to as Marcus’ writings to himself.
Marcus likely didn’t care about posthumous fame either. As he says: “People out for posthumous fame forget that the generations to come will be the same annoying people they know now. And just as mortal. What does it matter to you if they say x about you, or think y?
This is similar to my list of portraits. Even though I am writing my portraits publicly, I’m writing them for myself as a form of introspection. If they’re public, it’s only because my readers give me the motivation to actually write them down instead of keeping them as mere thoughts and for that, thank you. =)

35 — Guillaume Emmanuel De Homem-Christo & Thomas Bangalter

a.k.a: Daft Punk

Occupation: DJs

Born: 1974 & 1975

Died: Not Yet

Brief Description:
Guillaume Emmanuel de Homem-Christo and Thomas Bangalter are French musicians, record producers, songwriters, composers and DJs. They’re better known as the French house music duo Daft Punk.

The two artists famously wear masks in their media appearances which allows them to retain their anonymity and protect their personal lives so not much is known about them. But you probably don’t even care to know, which brings us to why they’re on the list.

Why they’re on the list:
Guy Manuel and Thomas have been very private since their beginning and have had very limited public appearances, choosing to wear masks to conceal their identity and to focus on their music instead. The mystery surrounding Daft Punk’s identity and their elaborate disguises have also added to their popularity.

The result of this is that Daft Punk has become an iconic duo with many successful songs and albums while allowing them at the same time to lead their private lives peacefully without the drawbacks of fame.

I think there is beauty in anonymity, especially when your reputation precedes you. But this balancing act is quite difficult to achieve and for this reason alone, they deserve a spot on my list.

36 — Sun Tzu

a.k.a: Sun Wu

Occupation: Strategist

Born: 544 BCE

Died: 496 BCE

Brief Description:
The historical existence of Sun Tzu has been disputed by scholars and historians. However, my blog isn’t concerned with the historicity of the characters as many of them are fictional anyway and the existence of The Art Of War and its profound influence clearly proves that someone existed to produce said work, and tradition holds that the work was written by one Sun Tzu.

Sun Tzu is said to have been born in the Qi state. He supposedly lived, fought and composed his work during the Spring and Autumn Period which preceded the Warring States Period (481-221 BCE) during which the Zhou Dynasty (1046-256 BCE) was declining and the states once bound to it fought each other for supremacy and control of China.

In the early part of the Spring and Autumn Period, Chinese warfare followed traditional protocol in chivalric behavior before, during and after an engagement. As the era wore on, however, this adherence to tradition became increasingly frustrating in that no state could gain an advantage over another because each was following exactly the same protocol and employing the same tactics. So Sun Tzu sought to break this stalemate by outlining a clear strategy of winning decisively by whatever means were necessary. It is said that Sun Tzu proved on the battlefield that his theories were effective, that he had a successful military career and that he wrote The Art Of War based on his tested expertise.

Why he’s on the list:
If you haven’t read The Art Of War, I highly recommend you do.

It’s short but contains a lot of insights that still apply in today’s world since it focuses much more on alternatives to battle and even to war rather than on war itself.

In the meantime, I will leave you with some of my favorite quotes from the book.

“Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.”

“To win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.”

“What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.”

“Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory:
1 He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
2 He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.
3 He will win whose army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.
4 He will win who, prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
5 He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.”

“There are five dangerous faults which may affect a general:
1 Recklessness, which leads to destruction;
2 Cowardice, which leads to capture;
3 A hasty temper, which can be provoked by insults;
4 A delicacy of honor which is sensitive to shame;
5 Over-solicitude for his men, which exposes him to worry and trouble.”

“The opportunity of defeating the enemy is provided by the enemy himself.”

“The whole secret lies in confusing the enemy, so that he cannot fathom our real intent.”

“Thus the expert in battle moves the enemy, and is not moved by him.”

“If your enemy is secure at all points, be prepared for him. If he is in superior strength, evade him. If your opponent is temperamental, seek to irritate him. Pretend to be weak, that he may grow arrogant. If he is taking his ease, give him no rest. If his forces are united, separate them. If sovereign and subject are in accord, put division between them. Attack him where he is unprepared, appear where you are not expected.”

“Hence that general is skillful in attack whose opponent does not know what to defend; and he is skillful in defense whose opponent does not know what to attack.”

“Be extremely subtle even to the point of formlessness. Be extremely mysterious even to the point of soundlessness. Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.”

“Move swift as the Wind and closely-formed as the Wood. Attack like the Fire and be still as the Mountain.”

“Let your plans be dark and impenetrable as night, and when you move, fall like a thunderbolt.”

“Quickness is the essence of the war.”

“In the midst of chaos, there is also opportunity.”

“If the mind is willing, the flesh could go on and on without many things.”

“Even the finest sword plunged into salt water will eventually rust.”

“Ponder and deliberate before you make a move.”

“Plan for what is difficult while it is easy, do what is great while it is small.”

“One mark of a great soldier is that he fights on his own terms or fights not at all.”

“You have to believe in yourself.”

“Energy may be likened to the bending of a crossbow; decision, to the releasing of a trigger.”

“The worst calamities that befall an army arise from hesitation.”

“If soldiers are punished before they have grown attached to you, they will not prove submissive; and, unless submissive, they will be practically useless.
If, when the soldiers have become attached to you, punishments are not enforced, they will still be useless.
Therefore soldiers must be treated in the first instance with humanity, but kept under control by means of iron discipline. This is a certain road to victory.”

“Rewards for good service should not be deferred a single day.”

“When one treats people with benevolence, justice, and righteousness, and reposes confidence in them, the army will be united in mind and all will be happy to serve their leaders.”

“Treat your men as you would your own beloved sons. And they will follow you into the deepest valley.”

37 — Walter Elias Disney

a.k.a: Walt

Occupation: Animator

Born: 1901

Died: 1966

Brief Description:
Walt Disney was the fourth son of Elias Disney, a carpenter, farmer and building contractor and his wife, Flora Call, a school teacher. When Walt was still very young, his family moved to a farm near a typical small Midwestern town in Missouri, which is said to be the inspiration behind Disneyland’s Main Street. There, Walt began his schooling and first showed aptitude for drawing and painting.

His father soon abandoned farming and moved with his family to Kansas City where he bought a morning newspaper route and compelled his sons to assist him in delivering papers which instilled discipline in them in the process. Walt also began to study art and cartooning while in Kansas City and continued doing so in high school after he had moved back to Chicago.

His career plans were interrupted by World War I, in which he participated as an ambulance driver for the American Red Cross in France and Germany.

Returning to Kansas City in 1919, he found occasional employment as a draftsman and inker in commercial art studios, where he met Ub Iwerks, a young artist with whom he eventually started a small studio in 1922 but was force to file for bankruptcy one year later.

After moving to California, Walt reopened a studio there with Ub and his brother, Roy. They invented a character called Oswald, the Lucky Rabbit, but soon after, they came up with a new character, a cheerful, energetic and mischievous mouse called Mickey. The first Mickey Mouse cartoon, Steamboat Willie, was equipped with voices and music and became an instant sensation when it appeared in 1928.

Disney continued with his animation shorts, creating a new series called Silly Symphonies as well as many new anthropomorphized animal characters like Donald Duck and Goofy and adding color to his animations. But Walt Disney always wanted to push the limits and had long thought of producing a feature-length animated film. So in 1934, he began to work on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The success of Snow White paved the way for many more feature-length animations and live-action/animation hybrids which established the Disney studio as a big-business enterprise.

In the early 1950s, Disney had initiated plans for a huge amusement park to be built near Los Angeles. Disneyland opened in 1955. The success of the first Disneyland pushed Walt to create a second Disney park, Walt Disney World, near Orlando but Walt Disney died in 1966 while the park was still under construction.

Why he’s on the list:
Walt Disney’s imagination and vision paired with his technical knowledge makes him a true genius and a visionary capable of mesmerizing his audience. He was also undeniably a huge influence on many other studios and the animation field as a whole, even influencing the Japanese anime style. And in the true spirit of pioneers, he kept pushing the limits of the possible whether it was through his animations or through his theme park.

I grew up watching Disney animations. I’ve watched all Disney animated features (there are more than you think) and a big portion of their animated short films. And to this day, they’re the ones I like the most. And while I haven’t created any outstanding work (yet), I am often told to this day that I have a great imagination and a childlike spirit and I think it’s largely due to Disney’s influence on my childhood.

To conclude, I will end this post with a fun trivia fact:
Walt Disney holds the record for winning the most Academy Awards, 22, as well as the most Academy Awards nominations, 59.
And now, he also holds a spot on my list. =)

38 — José Luis Félix Chilavert González

a.k.a: El Buldog

Occupation: Goalkeeper

Born: 1965

Died: Not Yet

Brief Description:
Jose Luis Chilavert grew up in Luque, Gran Asuncion in a poor family. He made his footballing debut with Sportivo Luqueño. In 1989, he played for the Paraguayan national team for the first time. He later moved to Spain, where he played for Real Zaragoza. After his time at Real Zaragoza, he moved to Argentina, where he played with Vélez Sársfield, helping them win the Primera División four times, as well as the Copa Libertadores and the Intercontinental Cup, both in 1994. He later also played for RC Strasbourg and Peñarol.

Chilavert was voted World Goalkeeper of the Year by the IFFHS in 1995, 1997, and 1998.

Chilavert was famous for taking penalty kicks and free kicks. He participated in the 1998 World Cup, where he became the first goalkeeper ever to take a direct free kick in the World Cup finals. In that World Cup, he helped take Paraguay to the round of sixteen, where the team lost to France (who won that World Cup) on a golden goal scored by Laurent Blanc. And in 1999, he became the first goalkeeper known to score a hat-trick in the history of professional football, while playing for Vélez against Ferro Carril Oeste, scoring all three goals through penalties. In total, Chilavert achieved a goalkeeper record of eight international goals and is also the second-highest goalscoring goalkeeper of all time.

He retired from international football in 2003.

Why he’s on the list:
As the 2022 World Cup is approaching, I find it appropriate timing to share this post.
Since my childhood, I have had special affinity for goalkeepers, so I wanted to choose one as a representative for this position on my list.

Being a goalkeeper is a position that requires agility and fast reflexes, two qualities I have always admired. Great goalkeepers also tend to have great instincts, often having to take decisive actions in a split of a second. And the best goalkeepers are also great leaders (and as such, often their team captains) and the team often looks up to them for confidence and comfort.

And so, when I was 12 years old, watching the 1998 World Cup, I was impressed by this unconventional goalkeeper playing for an underdog team and performing very well against all odds. Since then, he became my favorite.

Finally, I would like to end this post with a special shout-out to Gianluigi Buffon and Iker Casillas who were close alternatives to being the goalkeeper representative on my list.

39 — Benjamin Siegel

a.k.a: Bugsy

Occupation: Mobster

Born: 1906

Died: 1947

Brief Description:
Benjamin Siegel was born in Brooklyn to an ashkenazi jewish family. As a boy, he joined gangs and rackets which built up his lengthy criminal record. Eventually, he teamed up with Meyer Lansky who saw the need to start a jewish gang organized in the same manner as the Italians and the Irish. There, he got involved in bootlegging and hijacking and even served as the mob’s hitman.

Eventually, Siegel moved to California because he was in danger in New York and continued doing pretty much more of the same from extortion to racketeering. He ran casinos and a prostitution ring, all while befriending Hollywood movie stars and joining the highest circles of society.

During his time in California, Siegel was put on trial a few times. Although he was acquitted, it had significantly damaged his reputation so he sought to reinvent his personal image by diversifying into legitimate business with William Wilkerson’s Flamingo Hotel, a casino that would offer it all: gambling, the best liquor and food and the biggest entertainers. Eventually he coerced Wilkerson into selling all his stakes in the Flamingo.

Siegel went on a spending spree as he spared no expense on his casino and had huge cost overruns. On the opening day, the casino was still unfinished and so the opening was a fiasco: the celebrity guests were greeted by construction noises in a lobby still draped with drop cloths, the air conditioning broke down regularly and the luxury rooms were still not available. Two weeks later, the Flamingo shut down. And even though it reopened a couple of months later and began turning a profit, the mob bosses were growing impatient.

On the night of June 20, 1947, an unknown assailant fired at him through the window, hitting him many times, including twice in the head. During the hail of fire, Siegel’s left eyeball was blasted out, an unintended symbolic flourish for the man called the “visionary” who created Las Vegas. No one was charged with killing Siegel, and the crime remains officially unsolved.

Why he’s on the list:
Another mobster on my list. I started this blog with Al Capone who was a boyhood friend of Ben Siegel. So do I like mobsters? Not specifically. But I do like rulebreakers in general as every great idea or inventions came from challenging the norms and the accepted truths. And mobsters just happen to be pretty good at breaking the rules.

Like most notorious mobsters of his time, Siegel had a flashy style. He was making a lot of money and proudly flaunting it. And while this is something I doubt I would do, I’ve always enjoyed watching those who do as I find there is a certain beauty in the bluntness and vulgarity of showing off.

Even though Ben Siegel didn’t invent the Flamingo concept but merely stole the idea from Wilkerson, he is still considered the visionary behind the creation of my favorite city, Las Vegas. And it also serves as a reminder that coming up with good ideas is not as important nor as difficult as bringing your ideas to life.

The Flamingo cost a few millions and Siegel was killed for it. Over the years, the Flamingo generated billions. Yes, part of it is inflation but still. Let is serve you as a reminder not to let people take you down if they don’t share your vision.

40 — Shahrazad

a.k.a: Scheherazade

Occupation: Storyteller

Born: In tide of yore

Died: In time long gone before

Brief Description:
There once was a king named Shahryar. Upon discovering that the queen had betrayed him with a slave, the king sent for his Chief Minister, the father of the two damsels who (Inshallah!) will presently be mentioned and said “I command thee to take my wife and smite her to death; for she hath broken her plight and her faith. So the wazir carried her to the place of execution and did her die. Then King Shahryar took brand in hand and repairing to the Serraglio slew all the concubines and their Mamelukes. He also sware himself by a binding oath that whatever wife he married he would abate her maidenhead at night and slay her next morning to make sure of his honour; “For,” said he, “there never was nor is there one chaste woman upon face of earth.”

And so, he ordered his wazir to bring him a virgin to marry every day which he would then have executed the next morning before she could dishonour him. Three years later, the wazir couldn’t find any more virgins and returned home in sorrow and anxiety fearing for his life from the King. So his eldest daughter, Shahrazad, volunteered to marry the king.

Secretly, Shahrazad had asked her younger sister, Dunyazad, to join her in the king’s chambers at night and ask her for a story. Dunyazad did as she was asked and Shahrazad agreed and started telling a story which she stopped in the middle since dawn was breaking. So the king spared her life for one day so she could finish the story the next night. The following night Scheherazade finished the story and then began a second, more exciting tale, which she again stopped halfway through at dawn. Again, the king spared her life for one more day so that she could finish the second story. Thus the king kept Shahrazad alive day by day, as he eagerly anticipated the conclusion of each previous night’s story.

Eventually, after 1001 nights, Shahrazad told Shahryar that she had no more stories to tell. By that time however, the king had already fallen in love with her, so he spared her life permanently and made her his queen.

Why she’s on the list:
Shahrazad “had perused the books, annals and legends of preceding Kings, and the stories, examples and instances of by-gone men and things; indeed it was said that she had collected a thousand books of histories relating to antique races and departed rulers. She had perused the works of the poets and knew them by heart; she had studied philosophy and the sciences, arts and accomplishments; and she was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred.”

Shahrazad is the first fictional character on my list. And as a fictional heroine, her description will naturally be shaped to ideal standards that would please most readers, including myself.

And for the feminists out there, she should be a role model. She shows that women can actually control the men around them if they know how to properly wield their power to their advantage.

What I also like about Shahrazad is that she understands the power of a good story to entice an audience and always leave it wanting more. And since this is my first blog post after almost 10 years, I found it befitting to continue my little stories with the queen of storytelling herself. =)