Bruce Lee: The Artistry of a Badass


Throughout history there have been exceptional people who’ve inspired us by the way they lead their lives and accomplish success, chief among them, Bruce Lee.


Anyone that’s made it on the silver screen has the potential to integrate into popular culture. If they’re “lucky” enough to do so, the rest of us usually end up glamorizing their life, regardless how admirable their actual life is or was. In Bruce Lee’s case, we probably don’t glamorize him enough. The guy accomplished more in his 32 years than most do in a lifetime.

Yet his image is tied to his sculpted figure and insane kung-fu moves. Many of us think of him as no more than a film star, like Humphrey Bogart, Gary Cooper, Steve McQueen, or John Wayne. The reality is that those adored actors can only compete at the lowest-common-denominator criteria for which Bruce Lee’s badass-ness can be evaluated.


1. His rigorous physical conditioning didnt come close to his mental discipline

While standing at just 5’-7” hovering somewhere between 140–150, Lee’s physical appearance was statue-like, and he couldn’t have done it without a rigid physical discipline.

Here’s one of Lee’s 1965 gym cards, from the book, “The Art of Expressing the Human Body.”

Bruce Lee’s 1965 exercise list from Hak Keung Gymnasium.

We can see that Lee was all about building tightly wound endurance muscles, with each exercise consisting of 3-5 sets. If you’re interested in bodybuilding but still want to look like you can wipe your own ass, learn about the exercises in closer detail here.

As regimented as this sheet looks it’s a mere complement to Lee’s reading, meditating, and writing focus. He left behind 7 volumes of writing — everything from quantum physics to philosophy. He even wrote poetry. Is there anything more badass than a lethal man who writes poetry? On top of this, he also kept daily journals and workout regimens like the one above throughout his adult life.

In fact, if it wasn’t for Lee’s intense mental fortitude, he might have never recovered from a serious back injury in 1970. Instead, Lee spent the time writing and feeding his mind, setting new goals mentally, spiritually, and physically until he was healed. Without such mental focus and discipline, Lee likely would’ve floundered in bed feeling sorry for himself, letting his mind stymie his physical recovery. Lee focused, his mind accomplished. It’s a lesson all of us could learn from time to time.


2. Wong Jack Man Fight

Bruce Lee demonstrating two finger pushup.

When Lee moved to Oakland and opened a gym to teach martial arts, he wasn’t so popular on the other side of the Bay Bridge. Popular accounts claim it’s because Lee taught martial arts to white people, something frowned upon by the martial arts community, but according to those familiar with the ‘60’s Bay Area martial arts scene, like Leo Fong, the Chinese-only martial arts sentiment started to deteriorate around that time, and even respected Chinatown teachers were willing to teach any student. “It was never about that. It all really had to do with Bruce’s personality,” said Fong in a Viceland piece about the fight.

Bruce wasn’t afraid to speak his mind on other kung-fu disciplines being taught, and things really boiled over when he gave a lecture and demonstration at Chinatowns’ Sun Sing theater. During the demonstration Lee criticized two of the most revered local teachers in TY Wong and Lau Bun. Conflict was eminent.

Oddly enough, a recent martial arts transplant named Wong Jack Man was the man to call Lee on his claim, having a mutual acquaintance deliver a note to Lee’s Oakland gym. Lee accepted without hesitation, and later when Wong requested fight guidelines on kicking the head and groin, as well as on eye jabs, Lee refused. The fight became an “anything-goes” affair.

The details of the fight are a little hazy with no video footage and only nine witnesses, but it apparently started with Lee delivering an opening blow to Wong’s temple. However, unlike in past fights, Lee was unable to quickly put Wong away, only being able to do so after a flurry of advances caused Wong to lose his footing. Wong had to yield giving Lee the win. The whole thing lasted between three and seven minutes.

Many say the fight was a seminal moment for Lee’s development. After all, he hadn’t destroyed Wong quickly like past foes and the fight had exposed serious flaws in his technique and conditioning. It was a fight like this that paved the way for the ultimate development of his non-traditionalist Jeet Kune Do martial arts style.


3. He Changed Martial Arts Acting


There probably would not have been a Jackie Chan or Jet Li had there not been Bruce Lee. Even though Lee appeared in several films as a child actor in Hong Kong (his first role was at 3 months old!), he faced resistance in Hollywood, partly due to stereotyping (shit that still goes on today) and partly due to his disinterest in meathead roles.

So Lee took things into his own hands. Refusing to play Hollywood’s game, he stopped auditioning for martial arts films and started doing gung-fu demonstrations. Eventually a producer noticed him and cast him as the sidekick in the 1966 TV series, “The Green Hornet.”

Prior to Lee, martial arts films were a joke; actors couldn’t even do proper kicks let alone their own stunts. Lee took it a step further by writing scripts and choreographing fight scenes.

But the resistance wasn’t over, particularly when it came to Lee’s vision for his films. When Warner Bros decided to remove the philosophical elements from “Enter the Dragon,” Lee stopped showing up on set. After two weeks the studio caved and the film would become known for its unique fusion of philosophy and kung-fu.


4. An Artist of Life

Lee was an actor, a martial artist, a teacher, a philosopher, a husband, a father, but he was an artist of life at his core. Here are a few nuggets of Lee’s wisdom.

“Defeat is a state of mind; no one is ever defeated until defeat has been accepted as a reality.”

• “Absorb what is useful, reject what is useless, add what is essentially your own.”

• “Keep your mind on the things you want and off the things you don’t.”

• “Pessimism blunts the tools you need to succeed.”

• “By martial art I mean, like any art, an unrestricted expression of our individual soul… The human soul is what interests me. I live to express myself freely in creation.”

• “The medicine for my suffering I had within me from the beginning.”


Also see Lee’s views on self-actualization and the difference between pride and self-esteem.

 All the above being said, Bruce Lee was also badass in the traditional sense, as we can see in this recently surfaced video that appears to be Lee sparring with (read: absolutely schooling) one of his top pupils, Ted Wong, in a rare recorded session that’s since been restored for ultimate goose bump effect. Enjoy.

Read about other inspiring men, women, places, and moments in time, all a part of VK Nagrani’s Badass series.


Badass Guys: Mad Jack Churchill



The mouthful of a name that Jack Malcolm Thorpe Fleming Churchill carried with him was shortened by history to just “Mad Jack.” The main reason for the change is that he was a borderline psychotic crazy person who didn’t fear death the way most normal people should. Mad Jack spent his time after graduating military college riding his motorcycle around India and learning to play the bagpipes, pretty much because “fuck you” – that’s why.

Many war heroes are afforded mere moments of history’s spotlight. But, Mad Jack Churchill did an insane amount of badass stuff, that we at VK Nagrani are lucky enough to talk about all the cool shit he did over the course of World War II.


1. Entering the War

After he got tired of all that nonsense, he joined up with the famous Manchester Regiment of the British Army so he could get in some quality Nazi killin’ time while the gettin’ was still good. When he got to France, the Blitzkrieg was effectively fucking all kinds of everything up, and the Brits were getting pushed with their backs toward the sea, doing what they could to slow the ever-advancing Kraut army.

Mad Jack had a few ideas up his finely pressed sleeves. He led some guerilla missions and small raids on German supply depots, leading the assault on his motorcycle and armed with only a BOW AND ARROW and his trusty Scottish broadsword, to presumably fuck their shit up Braveheart-style. When a fellow conscript asked him why he didn’t get with the times and put the broadsword away when he went to battle, Mad Jack replied:

In my opinion, sir, any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed.


'Mad Jack' Churchill with his War Bow; 6' tall, with an 80-lb pull. The only documented archer to inflict casualties in WW2. See SWNS story SWMADMAN; A dashing WW2 hero who captured 42 German troops armed only with his trusty Scottish sword has been ranked as one of the world's greatest adventurers. Lt Colonel John Malcolm 'Mad Jack' Churchill is featured in a new book compiled by the Norwegian Royal Explorers Club which honours the finest explorers and adventurers of all time. Churchill is known for his daring exploits, including making the last recorded bow and arrow kill in wartime, saving 500 people in Jerusalem from certain death and capturing German soldiers with the use of his Claybeg (corr) sword.


2. War Hero

Word of Mad Jack’s raids spread throughout the ranks and morale was as at an all-time high. During one such raid, he was shot in the neck, but the Devil wouldn’t take someone so crazy so he sent him back to the only place he loved more than the battlefield – England. He was awarded the Military Cross for Bravery after rescuing a wounded British soldier from German ambush. There weren’t many Nazis around to kill back in civilian life, so Mad Jack got back into the war game again – this time joining an elite unit called the Commandos. He was reportedly unaware of what exactly a Commando was at first, but was all about it – probably because it sounded super intimidating, and that was totally his jam at the time.


3. The Capture of Maaloy Island

Jack was the leader of Number 2 Commando, his own regiment inside the group, and was responsible for taking out artillery batteries on Maaloy Island. After landing an insane amphibious assault on their beaches, he did what most insane people would do, and busted out his bagpipes and played “The March of the Cameron Men,” to get his men all pumped on patriotism and bloodlust. As he neared the front of the line of war, he unslung his sword from its sheath, while wading in knee-deep water and began shouting at the top of his lungs:




Two hours later the island was captured, and the folks back at British High Command received a telegram from the frontlines that read:

Maaloy battery and island captured.  Casualties slight.  Demolitions in progress.  Churchill.

That day he, and 50 of his Number 2 Commandos, took 136 prisoners and caused an unknown amount of casualties. But, knowing how badass this dude was, it was probably a lot.

Stay tuned to the VK Nagrani Blog for more of our Badass Guys Series!


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VKN Badass Gals: Margaret Thatcher

Margaret Thatcher, or the “Iron Lady”, as the Soviets of her time labelled her, was a very powerful woman during a time when women had very little power. She was Britain’s first and only woman prime minister. Her nickname stems from her uncompromising politics and overall leadership style. Regardless of how you feel about her politics, Margaret Thatcher’s rise to power is a notable story, worthy of retelling.

Keep reading to learn more about the “Iron Lady” herself, Margaret Thatcher, in this week’s edition of VK Nagrani’s Badass Gals!


1. Humble Beginning

She was born Margaret Hilda Roberts, the daughter of a grocer and local alderman who later became the mayor of their countryside home in Grantham, Lincolnshire. Her mother gave birth to her and her older sister in the flat above the grocery their family owned and operated. The cramped apartment above the corner store lacked running water, central heating and didn’t even have any indoor plumbing.

Even though she came from a modest upbringing, she applied herself and wouldn’t let anything, even her gender, stop her from attaining her goals. She was accepted to Oxford University where she studied chemistry and Somerville College.

2. Soft-Serve Science

Thatcher always had plans to enter the political realm and try to make her mark, but her degree was in chemistry and wanted to do that for a little bit while gaining life experiences. After a short stint at a plastics research facility, she worked as a food scientist for J. Lyons and Co. where she worked on a team that found a way to maximize the amount of air injected into ice cream so that it could be manufactured with less ingredients for a lower cost. This breakthrough led to the mass production of soft-serve ice cream that was shipped all across Great Britain, under the supremely British title “Mr. Whippy”.


3. First Woman Prime Minister

Finally, ready to enter a career in politics, she was elected to the House of Commons in 1959, representing Finchley. She worked in the House for a few years, slowly climbing the ranks of the parliamentary elite. At the time of her election, only 4 percent of the total political body of the House of Commons were women. It was very frustrating for her to be one of only several women in the political system, there were many roadblocks along the way. She was even quoted saying:

There will not be a woman prime minister in my time. The male population is too prejudiced.

Just five years later, she supplanted former Prime Minister Edward Heath as the leader of the Conservative Party, and became the first woman to head a major British political party. A few years after that, she proved herself wrong and won the keys to 10 Downing Street.


Margaret Thatcher had a long and illustrious career and was a major player on the world stage. She was the longest running British Prime Minister of the 20th century, elected for three consecutive terms.

For more stories of real Badass Gals, keep the VK Nagrani Blog book marked.


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VKN Badass Guys: Caravaggio


In every human, and especially ancient masculine types, there exists a duality – moon and sun, tragedy and comedy, all that. But, you’d be hard pressed to find a person in history with as much of a duality in personality since Jekyll and Hyde, as you would in the master painter, Michelangelo Merisi di Caravaggio. During this time, the other Michelangelo was super famous, so he shortened it to just Caravaggio. You may only know of Caravaggio through his artistic contributions, but he was also a pretty crazy dude and even led a Renaissance-era gang of thieves and criminals.

Keep reading to see why we at VK Nagrani think this Renaissance-era master painter was also a total Badass.




1. Moderate Upbringing

Since we live in the future, it’s hard to imagine Renaissance-era life, at any level or caste, to be anything more than squalor. But Caravaggio came from a moderately well-to-do family of middling wealth. Although his family was okay, there was suffering and pain all around the young man. He was born in the midst of a deep famine that caused quite a bit of poverty for the families around him. It is suspected that it was here where he learned to shift around with the wrong crowd.


NGI 14702


2. Life in Rome

At the ripe-old age of 21, Caravaggio grew tired of the commonplace setting he grew up in and peaced out to the capital city of Rome. He worked tirelessly trying to get by in post-Reformation society, but he simply could not paint fast enough to make a livable wage.

Caravaggio was never able to capitalize on his success, for his character and personal life were even darker and more controversial than his paintings. With his unruly black curls and unkempt black beard, the artist was known to wander the streets of Rome dressed in black, accompanied by his black dog, Crow (the bird-harbinger of death), and brandishing swords and daggers at the slightest provocation.

So, he did what any normal person who was just trying to get by did: turned to a life of crime.




3. Without Hope, Without Fear

Caravaggio had a police record many pages long filled with stories of assault, illegal weapons, harassing the police and complex affairs with prostitutes and courtesans. Caravaggio’s numerous legal problems often meant that the artist would suddenly have to flee Rome or be otherwise unable to complete a commission.

He became leader of a group of no-named ruffians, who lived by the motto “nec spec, nec meto” or “Without Hope, Without Fear”.




4. Exile

Caravaggio’s brawling, trouble-making tendencies reached a whole new level on the 28th of May, 1606. On this date, following a disputed tennis match, Caravaggio and his friends were involved in a street brawl with Caravaggio’s young foe Ranuccio Tomassoni and his gang. Caravaggio ended up dealing the young Tomassoni a fatal stab wound in the groin. With a price on his head, Caravaggio was forced to flee Rome for the last time.

He was granted a pardon by Pope Paul V, but mysteriously vanished on the ship home, and his body was never recovered.

Keep it tuned to VK Nagrani Blog for more of our Badass Guys series.


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Badass Moments in History: The Battle of Wizna

You’ve likely heard of the famous Battle of Thermopylae, where 300 really buff Spartans kicked a bunch of Persians into a big hole – or something like that. Well, while that was a real and badass moment of ancient history, there was another, lesser-known version that happened during the German invasion of Poland, right before World War II broke out. While the Germans did eventually rock Poland so hard they lost all the vowels in their alphabet, there was a glorious Rocky-style underdog story to be found in a sleepy country village called Wizna.

Keep reading to see the latest from VK Nagrani’s Badass Moments in History series, where we delve into the story of how 700 Polish soldiers held their position against over 40,000 armed Wehrmacht men, 350 tanks, 650 mortars and artillery, along with some air support.

1. Preparation

The year of 1939 was a particularly shitty year to be a resident of East Poland. The Polish defensive forces had the unenviable task of slowing the inevitable westward march of both the Nazi Wehrmacht and the Soviet Army.

By the time the Germans arrived, the Poles had around six pieces of artillery, 42 machine guns, and two anti-tank rifles, as well as a limited amount of time to dig a defensive stance into the countryside. Morale was low – to say the least. To rally his men, Captain Władysław Raginis vowed to never leave his post while he was alive.

2. Incoming

The Germans, in a rare act of humanity, dropped leaflets urging the Poles to surrender. But they didn’t realize they were dealing with a group of hard-hitting, pipe-swinging, pierogi-eating badass motherfuckers who wouldn’t back down from a fight from anyone. The Germans shrugged and started blasting into the Poles with artillery and aerial bombardment.

3. The Fight

They were outgunned and had to pull back inside their bunkers, where they were met with fire from three sides from German tanks and infantry. The Polish soldiers fought so fierce that they were able to stall the advancement of the German army for three days. However, eventually, the Krauts began the slow and arduous campaign of isolating and destroying the bunkers and pillboxes, slowly causing Polish numbers to dwindle.

4. Elimination

Almost all Polish soldiers were killed in this campaign – save for about 40 captured men, and brave Captain Władysław Raginis, who was now gravely wounded.

The Germans ceased fire, and offered the Polish a chance to surrender lest they kill their prisoners of war. Captain Władysław allowed the surviving men of his regiment to surrender – yet in keeping with the vow he made to his men to never surrender while he lived, jumped on a live grenade.

5. History

While even though nearly all the men in this famous last stand were killed in battle, the message it sent was one of great valor and bravery. These brave men kicked off one of the bloodiest segments in human history with an act of selflessness. They showed that there is value in setting an example, in creating a legend, in slowing the advancement of evil if only for the sake of doing so comes at the cost of your own life.

Keep checking in with the VK Nagrani Blog for more updates in the Badass Moments in History series.


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Badass Myths: The Hound of Ulster

Throughout the course of human history our cultures have grown, cultivated and shared experiences through the telling of stories. Before science, we used mythology to explain the unexplainable in our world. Through mythology, we get a closer glimpse into what daily life was like during a time when recording things wasn’t as simple as it is now. Everyone knows the Greek and Roman pantheon – Hercules, Zeus, Hades, all those guys. But, were you aware that Ireland had its own set of gods and goddesses, demons and heroes that is as rich with lore as it is hard to pronounce?

(Read: there is a pronunciation guide below to assist.)

The Hound of Ulster, or Cú Chulainn, was a young berserker that lived the hard and fast life of a demi-god in ancient Ireland. He was the most feared warrior in the land because of his ability to get really pissed off and turn into a hideous, unstoppable killing machine.

His life story is indicative of ancient Irish values: drinking, fighting, and impregnating pretty ladies. Keep reading to see why VK Nagrani thinks that the Hound of Ulster is a pretty Badass Myth!


Irish Pronunciation Cheat Sheet
(You’re going to need it.)

Cú Chulainn
Pronunciation – Koo Kuhl-en

Pronunciation – Kah-ner

Pronunciation – Loo

Pronunciation – Say-tawn-tuh


1. The Boy Sètanta

The King of Ulster, Conchobhar, was hunting in the forest for magical birds with his sister. The hunt takes them far south into a snowy and unfamiliar region. When night fell, they found a cabin where they are welcomed with food, drink and lodging for the evening. The host of the cabin turns out to be the God-king Lugh and, in ancient godly tradition, impregnates the King’s sister and tells her to name him Sètanta.

At a young age, Sètanta leaves his mother’s care in search of adventure and glory in his uncle’s kingdom. When he arrives, he sees a group of thirty boys throwing sticks and stones around the yard. He asks to join, but gets turned away – Sètanta is smaller, younger and weaker looking than the other boys. But, he isn’t afraid of these kids and joins in the game anyways, which naturally makes the other kids mad and they try to force him out of their game (the operative word here being “try”). Little Sètanta kicks all thirty of their asses without even breaking a sweat, which gets the attention of King Conchobhar.

The ability to kick a whole bunch of asses at the same time was something that was revered back then, and Sètanta, being Conchobhar’s nephew, was given high regard by the entire community and nobody tried to fuck with him anymore.

2. The Hound of Culann

King Conchobhar was invited by his friend, the blacksmith, Culann, and asked Sètanta if he wanted to join him. The boy said yes, but he was busy doing whatever the hell he wanted to do and told his uncle that he’d meet up with them in a little bit. When the King arrived at Culann’s, everybody got super hammered and forgot that Sètanta was on his way over.

On Culann’s property was the huge and vicious dog that protected the grounds. It took three large chains, with five men on each chain, to keep the dog contained. With warm blood and a forgetful mind, Conchobhar told Culann that all of his party had arrived and that it was safe to unleash the unnaturally large beast back onto the ground.

3. Receiving His Legendary Name

Sètanta was walking onto the grounds when he sees the great hound bounding toward with a foaming mouth and murderous eyes. But, the kid had the ass-whooping power of a god and made short work of the animal. The men inside heard the scuffle and suddenly Conchobhar remembered his nephew was on his way, and feared as he walked outside he would see the young boy in shreds, yet found the opposite. The young boy was standing over the now pulp-faced beast.

“But who is going to protect these lands now?” Culann asked. He was distraught to see his fearsome and hellish protector all mushed up into the ground. Sètanta stood up and said that he would take the hound’s place and guard the land with as fierce and fiery vigor as ten of the now-dead dogs.

From that day forward, little Sètanta was known as “Cú Chulain” or “The Hound of Ulster” and lived and fought for those lands until the day he died.

For more Badass Myths, stay posted on the VK Nagrani Blog!


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VKN Badass Guys: Ernest Hemingway

Throughout history there have been exceptional men who’ve inspired us by the way they lead their lives and accomplish success. This is VK Nagrani’s Badass Guys Series.

Ernest Hemingway was a novelist, short story writer, journalist, American war hero, and certified all-around badass. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1954 and took home the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature the very next year. And though he was a troubled man with many character flaws, his involvement with the spread of intellectual masculinity along with his overall influence on American literature cannot be understated.

Here’s why VK Nagrani thinks Ernest Hemingway is badass.

1. WWI Ambulance Driver

When the world went to war, Hemingway answered the call to action and was trained to be an ambulance driver on the Italian Front. One month after arriving in Italy, he was returning from a canteen with sweets for the men on the front line, when he was struck by mortar fire and seriously wounded. But, because Hemingway was a special kind of badass, he assisted in bringing Italian soldiers to safety despite his wounds, for which he was awarded the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery at the age of 18. After spending six months in the infirmary, he said of the incident, “When you go to war as a boy you have a great illusion of immortality. Other people get killed; not you … Then when you are badly wounded the first time you lose that illusion and you know it can happen to you.”

He reported a fictionalized account of his time as an ambulance driver in the heart wrenching classic, “A Farewell to Arms,” which became Hemingway’s first best-seller.

2. War Correspondent

Apparently, Hemingway hadn’t enough combat time when the world erupted back into chaos in the late ‘30s. His first job was covering the Spanish Civil War where he was present at the Battle of Ebro, and was among the last to leave the battleground at the end of the bloodbath. Hemingway was also present at the Storming of Normandy Beach on D-Day, where he could see “the first, second, third, fourth and fifth waves of [landing troops] lay where they had fallen, looking like so many heavily laden bundles on the flat pebbly stretch between the sea and first cover.”

If writing about from the battlefield wasn’t badass enough, he also corralled a group of French resistance members into a militia in 1944, which helped in the liberation of Paris.

3. Damn Near Indestructible

While sightseeing in Africa, Hemingway’s plane crash-landed after striking a utility pole, leaving him with a significant head wound and his wife with two broken ribs. Being a badass doesn’t guarantee you the best luck in the world as the next day they were boarding a plane to get into a metro area to receive medical care, when the plane exploded, causing serious burns and yet another concussion. News traveled quickly of Hemingway’s death, it was a few weeks before he rejoined the world of the living, after having spent his recovery time going over the many obituaries about him.

Hemingway developed a sickness, suspected to be hemochromatosis, for which he was treated by electroconvulsive therapy. When he checked out of the hospital he was “released in ruins” and shortly afterwards committed suicide. Hemingway was so tough that the only thing that could kill him, was himself.

 Keep checking the VK Nagrani blog for more editions of our Badass Guys Series.


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VKN Badass Gals: Lucille Ball

Lucille Ball was one of the first comedic leading ladies to hit the mainstream. Most famously known for her hit sitcom “I Love Lucy”, she was a walking contradiction to the image of what women were traditionally known for during her time. She was an enigmatic beauty, with a razor sharp wit and slapstick charm. Lucy pushed the boundaries on what a woman could be during a time where traditional gender roles reigned supreme.

Keep reading to see why we here at VK Nagrani think that Lucille Ball was a real Badass Gal!

1. Physical Acting

Lucy is known for her klutzy cute persona, but didn’t start off that way. When she first stepped onto the scene, she was a typical Hollywood beauty with no real niche to dig into. After a few fairly typical roles in some okay movies, she cemented her place as a physical comedienne. In an interview with People magazine, she retold the story of how she found her “in”:

“I guess after about six months out here in the ’30s I realized there was a place for me. Eddie Cantor and Sam Goldwyn found that a lot of the really beautiful girls didn’t want to do some of the things I did—put on mud packs and scream and run around and fall into pools. I said ‘I’d love to do the scene with the crocodile.’ He didn’t have teeth, but he could sure gum you to death. I didn’t mind getting messed up. That’s how I got into physical comedy.”

She wasn’t afraid to get down and dirty and get the laughs.

2. First Interracial Couple on TV

While that might not seem like a big deal in today’s mostly-tolerant world – in the 50s, people weren’t really used to seeing interracial couples anywhere. People were also bigger assholes back then. When I Love Lucy was being pitched, producers were averse to the idea of having Desi Arnaz on TV, saying he was “too ethnic”. Which is something only a real asshole would think, let alone say to another human being. She wouldn’t take no for an answer and took the show on the road, and Desi developed a huge fan base. Before long, people stopped being assholes for a little bit and demanded he be on the show.

3. The First Female Head of a Major Production Company

After nearly a decade of working on genre-defining work and a life of A-list success, Lucy became the first female head of a major production company when she took over Desilu Productions after her divorce. Over the entire course of the studio’s career, she helped bring classics like Star Trek, Mission: Impossible, The Untouchables and of course I Love Lucy to the silverscreen.

Keep the VK Nagrani Blog bookmarked to read more from our Badass Gals series.


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Badass Moments In History: Robert Small’s Mutiny

Way back before Rosa Parks didn’t give up her seat, before Martin Luther King Jr. marched for civil rights, and even before slavery was abolished, there was a man fighting for racial justice on a slave ship. In 1862, there was a 22-year-old slave named Robert Small, who freed himself, the crew and many of their families in a single act of bravery and defiance that helped turn the tide of war favorably for the abolitionist movement.

Keep reading to see why VK Nagrani thinks Robert Small’s mutiny aboard the CSS Planter was one seriously Badass Moment in History.

1. Forced Slavery

Not that slavery is voluntary in any capacity, but as Robert Small was rumored to be the illegitimate son of his master – he was given relatively exceptional treatment, all things considered. He lived in the house with mother a few other house servants, but Robert’s mother wanted him to experience the real horrors of slavery, so at the age of twelve his mother sent him out to the cotton fields.

His encounters with slavery, whipping posts and all, changed him and instilled a disdain for authority and a spirit of rebellion.

2. Mutiny

Robert proved himself to be a worthy seafarer and stevedore, so he was relegated to work on the CSS Planter as a ship hand. While working as a crewmember, he carefully plotted his daring escape and waited for just the right moment. One night, the ship set anchor in Charleston, a small harbor town on the coast of South Carolina, and the white crew and free men left the boat for the night, leaving only the slaves aboard. It was then that Robert Small made his move – he quickly told the remaining slaves on board that he was going to commandeer the ship and sail them to freedom.

A few slaves stayed behind to save themselves from the most certain death that would be waiting for them, were they to be caught.

Robert Small donned the hat of the captain and sailed up the coast into Union-occupied territory. They almost began firing, thinking it was a rogue ship that had drifted into enemy territory, until they saw a white bed sheet floating in the wind – the international sign of surrender. Smalls was able to provide valuable information about the Confederacy’s naval fleet, that eventually led to their demise.

3. Aftermath

One man risked everything to save his wife, children and fellow slaves and bring them all safely into the North. Even more, after he was a freedman, he continued his fight for justice by becoming part of the South Carolina legislature and eventually a member of the House of Representatives. During his time as a representative, he played a prominent role in getting President Lincoln to accept black soldiers into the United States Army and Navy.

Keep it tuned to the VK Nagrani Blog for more deep looks into some seriously Badass Moments in History.


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Badass Myths: The Ashlad’s Eating Competition

Old Scandinavia is responsible for many horrifying myths, like Krampus, a sort of anti-Santa monster that will take bad little boys and girls back to his lair if they’ve been bad that year. Or Belsnickel, a sort of anti-Santa crotchety vagrant that will hit you with a stick if you’ve been bad that year. The holidays were a pretty shitty time of year to be a bad person back in those days. Old Scandinavian myths tend to be about man versus nature, or in many cases man versus monster – as is the case with the story of the Ashlad and the troll.

Keep reading to hear another of VK Nagrani’s Badass Myths!

1. Who Was the Ashlad?

In old Norway, the Ashlad was the person in the family who would sit by the fire and fan the flames. It was typically given to the lowest ranking member of the family or someone who was deemed to be incapable of completing harder, more serious chores.

From a historical perspective, “the Ashlad” was the center of many myths and tales and is used to represent an underdog style character.

2. The Farmer and his Sons

The story goes, that there once was an old farmer with three sons. The older two were lazy and were not good for much of anything, while the youngest was forever posted at the fire, stoking the fire and clearing out the ash. As the farmer grew in age, he was unable to take care of his sons in the way he used to, so it was time for them to go out into the forest to gather the firewood and warm the house themselves. The two older brothers head out into the blizzard like a bunch of whiny little shits and quickly come back because they’re pretty sure that a troll lives out there and they don’t want any part of that.

Eager to prove that his brothers were a bunch of pussies and that he should be off fire-duty, the Ashlad stands up to his brothers and father and says that he will go out into the forest to cut down the trees needed to keep the family warm through the winter. The Ashlad grabbed his axe and packed a bag with just a hunk of bread and some cheese and wandered out in to the snow like a badass.

3. Into the Forest

The Ashlad worked and worked into the night, cutting down as many trees as he could and arranged the wood into piles. He spent all night at this work and eventually, just as he was getting ready to successfully head home, the troll appeared and threatened to eat the Ashlad if he did not leave his forest. The Ashlad was a pretty smart dude and knew that the troll was probably dumb as hell and reached into his bag and pulled out the cheese.

“You see this rock right here?” he asked. The troll nodded. The Ashlad squeezed the cheese in his hand until it was just a squished-up mess. The troll was shocked because he was dumb as hell and didn’t know that cheese wasn’t a rock.

“That’s what I’ll do to you if you come any closer- and also, you should help me take this stuff back to my house,” the Ashlad demanded of the troll, pointing to the piles of firewood scattered throughout the forest. The troll complied because he wasn’t trying to get squeezed into goo. The troll didn’t want to lose the wood from his forest or his pride by letting this little kid walk all over him, so he suggested that they go back to his pad for some food to regain their strength before heading out.

4. The Eating Competition

The two walked through the snow to get back to the warmth of the troll’s cave. The troll, it just so happened, had been making some stew before he left, and thought he could challenge the Ashlad to an eating competition to get out of carrying the wood back through the blizzard.

Since the Ashlad’s mama didn’t raise no punk, so of course he accepted, and the troll set down a huge bowl of stew before him – it was bigger than his entire body. The Ashlad had to think quick on his feet or risk being revealed to the troll. While the troll wasn’t looking, he cut open a hole in his bag and positioned himself in a way that would make it look like he was eating, when he was really just pouring the stew into his bag.

The troll was amazed at this boy – he could squeeze rocks into mush, eat a bowl of stew that was bigger than he was, what else could this kid do? Curious, the troll asked the Ashlad how he did it.

“Oh, it’s simple,” he said. “You take a knife and cut a hole in your belly to make room for more food!”

If you remember, the troll is a fucking idiot, and took a big troll-size cutting knife and gutted himself right in front of the Ashlad, who now had to carry all the wood back to his house by himself – but hey, no more troll problem.

Keep it posted to the VK Nagrani Blog for more Badass Myths!


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