Noted passings and obits 4
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Noted Australian activist and bookseller Bob Gould:
Yes, I was sad to hear about Bill Hunter passing. He was a great actor, and has been in some of my favourite local movies. (And in "Finding Nemo", which wasn't local, but had great Australian voice talent throughout.)
I live near Gould's in Newtown, it's quite iconic. But I can't go in there, all the teetering piles of books in between me and the fire exit make me start to hyperventilate. Thanks for the link, Karl, I hadn't known about his activism.
I know this is one all the snobs will appreciate - Dolores Fuller, star of Glen and Glenda who ended up writing songs for Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole and Peggy Lee.
Jeff Conaway, star of Grease and Taxi:
And Gil Scott-Heron:
A double-shot of sad this Friday evening.
>7 kswolff: - gutted about Gil Scott-Heron, especially as he had just started writing and recording again.
You can play Gil Scott Heron's entire last album here:
Give it a listen, the man was still throwing fastballs right to the end.
Clarice Taylor, RIP, the grandmother from the Cosby Show and Sesame Street:
Noted practitioner of euthanasia and amateur jazz flutist Jack Kevorkian RIP:
Here's his jazz album:
James Arness, star of "The Thing"...er, "Gunsmoke" (sorry, showing my roots):
>13 CliffBurns: - love that Hawks version of The Thing - not a particularly demanding acting role for Arness though.
Love Kenneth Tobey in the original "Thing"--always liked him as an actor.
But the Carpenter/Kurt Russell version is far superior. Closer to the original novella and superbly made. Fantastic cast of supporting players and Russell has never been better. And let's hear it for Rob Bottin's creature FX.
Clark: I dunno what the hell's in there, but it's weird and pissed off, whatever it is.
Best. Quote. Ever.
Yup. Script by Bill Lancaster, son of Burt, who never did anything else worth a damn as far as I know. Except..."The Bad News Bears"?????
Lawrence Eagleburger RIP:
Yet Kissinger still walks the earth. Then again, Kissinger has kept the Angel of Death quite busy these last few decades.
What a life this chap had:
Semprun's THE LONG VOYAGE is an amazing book.
And I've already written previously of my admiration for "The Long Good Friday"--that was Mr. Mackenzie's finest hour...er, two hours.
Re "Long Good Friday," What a disturbing film that was - I particularly remember how Bob Hoskins' expression changed slowly in the very last scene. Very creepy.
Cliff - Leigh Fermor also wrote very beautiful prose, as well as being the 'greatest living Englishman,' war hero, translator, linguist and raconteur. I was at a monastery in retreat last week, directly inspired by A Time to Keep Silence, only to find on my return that he had died while I was there
I like this quote from the obit for Leigh Fermor:
His books inspired generations of travel writers. As author Michael Joseph Gross noted in a 2007 Times article, "When they grow up, travel writers want to be Fermor the way foreign correspondents want to be Ryszard Kapuscinski."
The library has several of his books, I shall reserve a few once I've made some headway with the current stack.
I hope foreign correspondents don't want to be Ryszard Kapuscinski, who turned out to be a spy and fabricated sections of his reports.
Patrick Leigh Fermor is a real loss to lovers of Greece, travel in general and beautiful prose. No one could deny he had a long and full life but his death still leaves the rest of us poorer: such sad news. I can't help wondering what will be happening to his beautiful home in Kardamyli - anything but tearing it down and building hotels would be good. I often holiday nearby and make a silent genuflection every time I pass and many's the time I've dreamt of bumping into him as he shops for vegetables or ammunition in the village. Maybe it's time to dig out those glorious books for a reread. Not often I get upset at the death of someone I don't know but this feels quite personal.
One for the cinephiles - Gunnar Fischer - Bergman's cinematographer through the 1950s.
'Jackass' star Ryan Dunn RIP:
Always loved "Columbo"...
I am very sad about Peter Falk. I loved "Columbo" too, but my favorite character of his was the grandfather in "The Princess Bride."
And the CIA agent in "The In-Laws" and the cab driver cameo in "Mad, Mad World." I'm sure he's having a fine time playing checkers in Heaven with "Macho Man" Randy Savage
Actress Anna Massey:
Sherwood Schwartz RIP:
Creator of Gilligan's Island, The Brady Bunch, writer for Bob Hope, Red Skelton and My Favorite Martian
Anna Massey - Last of a great acting family: Raymond, Daniel and her.
43: On that note:
Needless to say, her song will have a darker edge now she's passed on to that Great Party in the Sky.
And this song is featured in the opening of Secret Diary of a Call Girl:
Further proof that Keith Richards cannot be killed by normal means:
Margaret Olley, much loved Australian artist. http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/artist-margaret-olley-dead-20...
G.D. Spradlin, go-to guy for morally bankrupt WASP authority figures in Francis Ford Coppola movies:
And the great 'terminate with extreme prejudice' scene in Apocalypse now.
A couple of notable obits from the past while, might have slipped beneath folks' radar:
Never heard of Monsieur Harvey. Here's one of his stories:
And a link to his publisher, Angry Robot:
And Canada's official opposition leader, Jack Layton.
They call him "left-leaning" but he was kind of in the Tony-Blair-new-Labour-hug-the yellow-line-in-the-middle-of the-road kind of politician. I liked Jack but my kinda leftie is more in the Hugo Chavez mold. Look after the poor and fuck the Americans as much as you can.
Yeah that's really working out for Hugo: highest inflation rate in South America, press censorship, high crime rate and murder rate despite having almost as much oil as Saudi Arabia.
Hey, nobody's perfect.
Now turn that around and look at literacy rates, childhood mortality and health care. D'you wanna be fucked by the Yanks or your own people? I'll take Door #2...
Yeah that's really working out for Hugo: highest inflation rate in South America, press censorship, high crime rate and murder rate despite having almost as much oil as Saudi Arabia.
You just described the living conditions of every Red State, aka Real 'Murrica, aka Christ's Nationalist Dictator-for-life People's (non-Christians don't count, or gays, or people in unions) Republic of the Free and Home of the Brave (TM), Patent Pending.
If you're using relational comparisons for your argument, you already lost. The real question is: Can I have a beer with Hugo? Since that's the only thing passing between the Gobi Desert between the ears of American voters everywhere this upcoming Election Season, aka Horse Race, aka Money Chase.
I can't believe that the director of Lust for a Vampire dies and you people argue about politics - where are your priorities?
Jumping in here, not really interested in arguing over how great or terrible Chavez is, but just an observation: I am not a Latin America specialist but it seems to be quite the pattern that people who are not friends of the US are always criticized for "press censorship" in a way that is not even consistent with the way the press is censored in many Western countries, while those who are friends of the US may or may not censor their press but the issue is not raised. This pattern seems to have been true in the late 80s when I was following events in Nicaragua and it is now the criticism du jour of Venezuela.
Personally I find the US press leaves a whole lot to be desired. Bring back the fairness doctrine! Self-censorship is still censorship. People don't get information, which is part of the reason they believe talking points whether they are objectively true or not.
I wish those of us in "first world" countries spent more time putting our own houses in order...
With you there, Anna.
Corporate presses are NOT free from censorship. A rather small roster of people choose the stories they highlight, the unflattering photos, okay the hacking of cell phones, listen in on private conversations, launch smear campaigns, destroy lives.
"Free" press. That's an oxymoron, regardless of the political system you might favor...
Re free press - just look what's been happing in the UK with Murdoch and his News International...
Maybe it's just me being cynical/paranoid, but I'd be very surprised if it was just happening in the UK. I can't imagine that the culture that led to the current scandal is just contained within that island; I'm sure there have been similar breaches here in Australia, or in America (Canada, are you free of Murdoch press? NZ?), that we just haven't heard about.
By all accounts, NotW weren't the only, or worse, lawbreakers, but the backlash against them was astonishing.
63: On the other hand, the corporate presses and their political handpuppets have a lot to fear, especially with YouTube, Wikileaks, the National Security Archive, the 24 hr news cycle, and the abundant flame-wars on Facebook. Every false move is examined and criticized with near-Talmudic exegesis and Artaud-ian vitriol. No wonder they want the public muzzled, leashed, and house-trained. Luckily, this is probably a good indication that they are running scared. Are we really surprised when we pull back the curtain and find another Pathetic Old White Man(TM) trying to act scary?
"Are we really surprised when we pull back the curtain and find another Pathetic Old White Man(TM) trying to act scary?"
Fun line, Karl.
From the intro to Myra MacPherson's award-winning biography of I.F. Stone, one of America's greatest journalists:
"As Stone often pointed out, the press, as it used to be called, was never as good as the myth. Historically, the control of news by the powerful was rampant. In Stone's day, family newspaper dynasties, wealth businessmen, and government allies predominantly shaped the news and were typically anti-labor, anti-New deal, anti-civil rights...Today's vast media monopoly...remains a disastrous new low, blocking diversity, severely hampering the public's right to know and substituting pap for truth. The far right are richly endowed by those with a vested interest in staying wealthy; their radio and television stations, newspapers, magazines, books and web sites disgorge to a massive global audience misleading information on everything from Bush tax cuts to the war on terror..."
Ms. MacPherson then points to President Clinton's 1996 Telecommunications Act, which amounted to (as Bill Moyers put it) "a welfare giveaway to the largest, richest and most powerful media conglomerates in the world" and "a monstrous assault on democracy"...
Steve Jobs resigns as CEO of Apple.
Not an obit but sad nevertheless.
I'm an Apple guy all the way.
Hope Monsieur Jobs is okay. It's amazing what he's endured so far, health-wise.
>69 CliffBurns: - from what I understand (from news reports) we may be listing him in this thread shortly. Greatest snake oil salesperson ever.
I remember watching Triumph of the Nerds years ago; my hazy memories are of rooting for Jobs and Wozniak all the way. I still like Steve Jobs and Fry's spontaneous tribute was a nice gesture.
As for Fry, what's he got to do with The Hobbit exactly?
I can't remember if he's playing Sneezy, Grouchy or--
Shit, wrong movie.
Are you trying to tell me he's playing one of the dwarves or something? With the help of some dubious CGI?
Nah, just rattling the cages of the Tolkien gits.
Have no idea what he's doing in the film, really.
But this is yet another overblown CGI fest (a la "Harry Potter") I wish he'd stayed away from. He diminishes himself with pap like that. A well paid whore is still a whore.
I gave up on watching the Harry Potter films after number five. I watched it and the next day, literally, I could remember none of it. It was like a two hour trailer; none of the scenes were long enough to make an impact. After that my interest was gone.
Was Stephen Fry in the Harry Potter movies? I don't seem to remember him.
I know he's got a small role in the Hobbit movie, but I can't remember what. And I have more faith in The Hobbit adaptation than any of the Harry Potter movies. Peter Jackson may have failed with "King Kong", but he still brought us the wonderful "Lord of the Rings" adaptations, and "Meet the Feebles", among others. He's still got more story telling talent in one toe than most of Hollywood.
Sorry, he got in trouble for taking a picture of the "Harry Potter" set...I got that confused with his appearance in the piece of shit "Sherlock Holmes" movie filming at the same time.
But my point stands: time for Steve to start thinking about what kind of legacy he wants to leave as an artist and decide how much money is enough for one lifetime.
Maybe he gets bored. Maybe he did it for a friend. Maybe it was an excuse to go to New Zealand, or hobnob with Peter Jackson.
To me, Fry's legacy consists of one word: Jeeves.
His first memoir MOAB IS MY WASHPOT is really, really good. I think he's a great wit, superb actor, literate writer, fine director. Could well be our Oscar Wilde.
Except he can't seem to say no to stuff that's beneath him. And that's a shame.
Cliff, I seem to have forgotten that piece-of-shit "Sherlock Holmes" in its entirety, because I can't remember him in it either! (Oh dear, early onset Alzheimer's...)
I will always love Stephen Fry for Captain Darling in Blackadder; for narrating Pocoyo; for reading Harry Potter; for A Bit of Fry and Laurie; and for Q.I. He'd have to produce an awful lot of shit to overwhelm all that goodness.
Oh dear. This is sounding like we're writing his obit already! I'm glad he's still alive and well.
#80 time for Steve to start thinking about what kind of legacy he wants to leave
One of the things that is so great about Stephen Fry is his versatility, his 'polymathedness' (I just invented a word!) and his ability to do a million things better than most of us can do one. It's when you start worrying about what history will say about you that everything goes to hell (witness one T Blair). I hope he carries on doing whatever he feels like doing - there's no law that says we have to watch/read/listen to the bits we don't like, after all. To be honest, I rather doubt he gives much of a toss about what kind of legacy he leaves and good for him!
I think you cheapen your talent with worthless projects. We only have a finite time on this Earth, why waste it on ninth rate material?
Fry as General Melchett:
>86 CliffBurns: - Fry suffers from bipolar disorder and I think his restlessness stems partially from that - he appears almost afraid to stop moving, to stop keep himself occupied.
Fry is playing the Master of Laketown in the Hobbit. And I cant even remember who that is.
It's the guy who minimizes the danger of the dragon until it's too late, does not want Bard to go fight the dragon, does not give the dwarves enough help, and in general is portrayed as an insincere greedy politico.
#86 I think you cheapen your talent with worthless projects. We only have a finite time on this Earth, why waste it on ninth rate material?
Oooh, how long have you got?
1 Because if you never fail you never achieve anything either.
2 Because one person's 'ninth rate' is another person's enjoyment.
3 Because that's only your opinion and is fine for you but if someone else is happy doing what you call 'ninth rate material' then that's entirely up to them.
4 Because Fry is a real person, not an automaton whose only purpose in life is to churn out what other people think he should churn out.
5 Because only the person concerned knows whether they are 'wasting' their life.
6 Because when you've already contributed ten times more to your native culture than most people would ever even think about then you are entitled to dick-around a bit too, if that's what you fancy.
etc, etc, etc . . .
No, just his aesthetic reputation.
It's like Don DeLillo writing a "Star Wars" novel or Yo-Yo Ma releasing an album of Justin Bieber cover tunes. Sure, they'd sell lots of "product" and make gobs of money but it strikes them off "the artistic roll call", as the great Bill Hicks would put it:
Unlike American actors who are perennially consumed by their 'image' British actors take a very workmanlike attitude to their craft. They know that work is hard to come by and increasingly so as they get older so they take what they are offered. Why else would Gielgud and Mirren do Caligula, it wasn't because they mistook it for the Camus play.
"Why else would Gielgud and Mirren do Caligula..."
Greed? Stupidity? Idiot agent?
Also, "Caligula", as it was originally envisioned, was supposed to be a serious movie but then Bob Guccione, publisher of the porn magazine PENTHOUSE, took over the production and all at once it became a fuck-fest, with various gratuitous sex scenes added, the entire picture dropping right into the toilet bowl.
#95 I remember seeing an interview with Patrick Troughton after he started playing Dr Who. He wasn't a sf fan - in fact, he thought the material was very silly. As far as he was concerned, it was a job. And he'd do it to the best of his ability. It's an attitude I've witnessed from other British thesps. It's only British pop stars and footballers' wives who are prima donnas...
But was Troughton a top-flight talent, considered a major player in his field? As Hicks says, it's one thing to shill product when you're an up and comer (or a struggling character actor) but when you're at the top of your game, literally world class...I dunno.
Obviously, I have different feelings about it than most folks here. But, to me, working for money as opposed to passion and creating truly ground-breaking art is a form of prostitution. And when you don't need the money, well, in that case I suppose it comes down to plain old EGO.
There are some writers who treat it like a job. They'll happily write anything that earns them money. I'm thinking of people like Kristine Kathryn Rusch or Karen Traviss. They'll never produce great art, though they may win an award or two. Happily, they're in a minority.
British actors seem to have that approach to acting. Which is weird. Because UK authors tend to think of writing as an art whereas US ones consider it a craft.
"There are some writers who treat it like a job. They'll happily write anything that earns them money...Happily, they're in a minority."
Not so sure about that. If you ask writers today what their aspirations are, to: a) create innovative, original art or b) make a lot of money and become rich and famous, I'm pretty sure a comfortable majority would choose the second alternative.
Do most British actors come from the working class (rather than "toffs") d'you think? Which might explain their practical mindset...
Acting has only been respectable in Britain since the 20th century and there always has been a sense of their outre nature. I think most actors would consider themselves akin to the outcasts than belonging to any particular class. Fry was a Cambridge grad by way of Pucklechurch prison, Laurie by way of Eton and yet they have more in common with each other than with any of their respective classes.
Just saying that makes me think of the Ask the Limey thread. It sounds like a location from a Tolkien book.
102: I was about to protest but then I remembered Buckleberry Ferry.
I say, Pucklechurch doesn't sound a very distinguished place - Fry must have been their highest profile tenant. What was the crime, anyway?
#84, D'oh, of course he was Melchett! Major slip of the brain there.
And regardless of why one writes or acts or whatever, one does still need to earn money to put food on the table. Not much use producing the perfect bit of art if you starve yourself before it is complete.
You think Steve Fry needs to work on crappy, commercial films to put food on the table at this point in his life/career?
I would think he'd be able to pick and choose, don't you? Be a TAD more discriminating?
#105 How do you know he doesn't pick and choose? He can hardly know, before he takes on a project, that it may not appeal to your idea of what is crappy and commercial. He may just think 'Hey, that looks fun, I'll give it a go'. I don't suppose he has to worry too much about putting food on the table but I have no idea what others things compel him to keep earning. While I'm sure the rest of us are jolly envious of your ability to only work at things you have a passion for, most of us have all kinds of different reasons for the work we do and can't be that picky. There's just a chance, after all, that some people might find your work crappy and commercial too - it is only an opinion after all.
I suspect we should really be discussing this on the Literary Snobs page. Doesn't anyone ever die these days?
#107--I think my point was that Fry DOES pick and choose his projects and some of his choices have been less that admirable (and perhaps were made for less than admirable reasons, i.e. filthy lucre).
I think (since you brought it up) I am VERY aware of the types of projects I take on and when offered the chance to "sell out", I have very firmly stated "fuck off". It is a personal and aesthetic decision I made to protect the quality of my work and not diminish it with brainless franchise novels, work-for-hire, pseudonyms, sharecropping, whatever. I hope folks don't find my writing "crappy" but, since most readers these days don't like writing that challenges them with its subject matter and literate qualities, I have to admit that's an all too likely scenario...
I always wince when I find out one of my favorite actors has been in a piece of junk for a film. There are several ways to excuse them, one of which is the "it-seemed-good-on-the-drawing-board-but-was-mangled-in-production" idea.
The other's are the "he's-young-and-has-to-put-bread-on-the-table" excuse and the "he's-stuck-in-a-contract-and-has-no-control-over-his-career" excuse, which works best on actors in the 30s and 40s. Neither fits this case.
However, there is also the thought that a man as intelligent as Stephen Fry would need something to do to keep from boredom, and it might also be that he's a fan of The Hobbit, or of Peter Jackson's LotR and that he's thrilled to be in the film for sentimental reasons - it might not be "filthy lucre" at all.
Let me be clear, I LOVE Stephen Fry--brilliant man, brilliant wit. But, like all idols, his feet ain't made of bronze, but clay. And prone to erosion...
113: Too bad he isn't a US citizen or a corporation, since they wouldn't put him in jail but simply give him a few dumptrucks full of devalued US dollars as a bail-out. Because in the Republican Jesus Theocracy of the US of A, we're all about accountability ... and giving Presidential pardons to anyone charged with genocide and crimes against humanity. At least those are the lessons I've learned from our electoral processes.
Speaking of Fry, I'd hardly think he's slumming with his cameo in The Hobbit If Fry starred in some Uwe Boll abomination, then I'd think the charge would hold more water. Granted, Tolkien was a boring archaic pedant whose plotting could usually get out-paced by either a glacier or a late-era Henry James novel (meaning: kinda on the slow side), but he's still in the Western Canon.
Stetson Kennedy RIP:
Well regarded Australian journalist, Paul Lockyer, along with his cameraman and helicopter pilot. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Lockyer
The outpouring of grief and tributes has been quite overwhelming. It's rather heartbreaking to see a news anchor with tears in her eyes.
Egyptian Novelist Khairy Shalaby
Michael Stern Hart
Project Gutenberg founder
RIP Frances Bay, go-to actress for old lady characters, in everything from Twin Peaks to Happy Gilmore:
One for the musicians - Bert Jansch has joined the big band in the sky.
Just heard that on BBC Am., they interviewed Jacqui McShee. One of the great folk guitarists of all time.
Di Gribble, Australian publisher: http://anzlitlovers.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/vale-di-gribble/
Sad day. I'd only just discovered Bert Jansch a few months back, and as a fan of folk music, I loved him right away.
And Steve Jobs. Only in his fifties, the poor man...
125: At least passed away in his bodily form. Who knows what iGadget was under lock-and-key at the time of his death. He probably uploaded himself into a virtual reality realm a la the female protagonists from Caprica Probably commenting on the impending Singularity with the Mechanical Ghost of Philip K. Dick.
Wasn't Steven Jobs Mona Simpson's (biological) brother? Both were given up for adoption and met years later, or something like that?
Tough guy actor Charles Napier RIP:
Legal scholar and civil rights advocate Derrick Bell RIP:
Silver screen actress, arts lover, and one-time Mrs Sean Connery, Diane Cliento.
135: Sean didn't beat her to death, did he?
Legendary translator Ewald Osers (1917-2011). Responsible for (as of 2004) 144 translations.
He translated dozens of non-fiction books from German, novels by Jiří Mucha, Arnošt Lustig, Ivan Klíma, Thomas Bernhard etc. but gradually became well-known for his poetry translations, first of all of Czech poets, such as Jaroslav Seifert, Vítězslav Nezval, Miroslav Holub, Jan Skácel but also of German poets (Rose Ausländer, Reiner Kunze, Hanns Cibulka and others), Bulgarian (Lubomir Levchev, Geo Milev and others) and Macedonian (Mateja Matevski), as well as poetry of the Silesian poet Ondra Lysohorsky. In the late 1980s Osers focused also on two major Slovak poets: Miroslav Válek (The Ground beneath our Feet, 1969) and Milan Rúfus (And That's the Truth, 2006 - together with Viera and James Sutherland-Smith).
From this feature article in the Prague Post from 2004:
Osers' translations of The Plague Column: Poems by Jaroslav Seifert in handsome editions published in London and Boston in 1979 and An Umbrella From Picadilly in London in 1983 not only called the world's attention to Seifert but also that of the Stockholm jury that awarded him the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1984, an honor for which Seifert credited Osers until his dying day two years later.
Everyone's favorite autocrat/punchline Muammar Gaddafi:
Art Critic and LRB review/Illustrator Peter Campbell has died.
My favourite quote from this obituary concerns the ethos of the house it which he learned his trade -
"Paper, typography, binding and illustration were as intrinsic to the published book as literary quality."
Key words there being 'the published book.' The text is the text, but I do have such a love for a well-produced book.
(Full disclosure - I did a fortnight's work experience at a letterpress printer's, and retain a sharp eye for good kerning and clean type.)
Andy Rooney. Spends 92 years looking forward to his retirement and then 4 weeks into it......
141: Thank God, now he can go and bitch interminably to God.
Rooney: "Ya ever notice how the brownies on the box look different from the brownies you bake?"
Gaddafi: "Um ... no."
Rooney: "Well, something should really be done about this, etc."
Gaddafi: "Why can't I get up from this La-Z-Boy recliner? I thought I was in Heaven?"
Rooney: "... and another thing, the kids these days with their hippidy-hop music and their ..."
Gaddafi: "Help! Allah!"
G-d (as played by Henry Gibson): "Yes."
Gaddafi: "You're not Allah, you're ... Jewish!"
Satan (as played by Jerry Falwell, or vice versa): "Welcome to Hell!"
Ayn Rand: "I was promised faster service!"
G-d: "Don't mind the talking seal with the dollar sign lapel pin."
... and scene!
Leonard Stone died. He played Violet's father in the original Willy Wonka:
Sarah Watt, Australian film maker: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2011-11-05/sarah-watt-dies-aged-53/3637600
She's also recently had a memoir published, Worse Things Happen at Sea (no touchstone). I've heard some of it read aloud on the radio, and I've been meaning to keep an eye open for it.
Smokin' Joe Frazier and Heavy D:
Did we miss this guy back in May?
I, for one, had no idea he had such a formidable literary reputation (at least, among some folks).
Didn't hear about this either. Loved Cutter and Bone, hated that they changed the ending for the movie. Sad to hear about his condition in the last several years.
I've never heard of Newton Thornburg, but I've just added Cutter and Bone to my increasingly bloated wishlist over at BookDepository.
#152> Actually, it looks as if Krzysztof Kieslowski died some years ago (1996), but the obituary has been reposted on the Guardian website as they are offering users the chance to stream the Three Colours Trilogy.
I got to see all three of them on the Big Screen, they were marvellous. I seem to recall seeing them out of order, as I was escaping a blisteringly hot summer day in Sydney so popped into the local (air-conditioned) movie theatre and saw "White". Then made an effort to watch the other two.
(Edited to remove a rogue apostrophe.)
>154 Jargoneer: - there are only two possible solutions:
1 - I didn't notice the date which makes perfect sense
2 - he was brought back as a zombie, has been making Hollywood blockbusters for the last 15 years (it would explain why they are brain dead) and is now truly dead due to being shot in the head by a Tea Party member out hunting 'God Damn Liberal Actors'.
In a rational time, the Enlightenment for example, we would all accept solution 1 but since this is not a time for rational thinking but one for paranoia and suspending disbelief I think we all have to accept that solution 2 is absolutely correct.
What we now need to know is - was the zombie Kieslowski making movies as Michael Bay?
This won't mean much to most people, which is a pity but the singer-songwriter Jackie Leven is dead. He was the main man in Doll By Doll of whose debut album Allmusic said Gypsy Blood was the great unsung classic of 1979 and is timeless in its tarnished yet insistent beauty and imagination.
As a solo artist he released a torrent of albums which deserved to sell on the basis of their titles alone - Forbidden Songs of the Dying West, Fairytales for Hard Men & Great Songs from Eternal Bars. If you get a chance to hear his work take it.
RIP: Mark Hall, creator of Danger Mouse and Wind and the Willows animated shows:
John Neville has died. Remember how wonderful he was in Terry Gilliam's "Baron Munchhausen"?
>159 justifiedsinner: - when I was a teenager I enjoyed some of her work but she developed that illness which affects (too) many successful SF&F writers - sequelitis.
Too many books in too little time, often working with "collaborators", mining the same old territory...and not doing any of it with very much literary flair or stylistic innovation.
A fantasy writer with all the good and bad (mainly bad) that entails.
When I was about thirteen, I read Dragonflight. I still remember how subtle and sophisticated it seemed to me and how cool the time traveling was. It never struck me as science fiction at all. To me, dragons meant fantasy. I meant to read the sequels, but never did, mainly for fear that they wouldn't be as good. But I've got fond memories of the first one.
162: I also read the first dragons of Pern book but later (in my early 30s). I absolutely loved it.
Film reviewer Mark Kermode talks about "diminished expectations" that people take into the movie theater with them these days (the era of the blockbusters and bad rom-coms).
I think that's probably true with fantasy: folks don't read the genre for good writing or technical virtuosity. As a result, fantasy fans are more tolerant of certain literary short-comings and aesthetic lapses that non-fans simply can't countenance. Is that unfair?
164: "Folks don't read the genre for good writing or technical virtuosity." I think this is a rather sweeping generalization that can be true of fantasy/sf fans but is a little unfair as applied to all of them.
I have read some of Anne McCaffrey's later books and think they aren't as good as her earlier ones. She could write, but she was prolific and she wrote an awful lot of books, some of which were a lot better than others. this is true of other genre writers who are not SF/F (e.g., Stephen King) and it is probably true of actual "lit" writers (I felt that of the two Rushdies I have read, Midnight's Children was amazing and Satanic Verses was unreadable) as well.
Many SF/F fans are quite discriminating. Many others not so much. I also think that many start out in this genre quite young, read a whole lot of dreck and like it, but get more discriminating as they get older (my own children arguably fit into this category - my son read about 7 or 8 of the Terry Goodkind books at age 14 but now thinks they are creepy and badly written but still loves the genre). I know that I have read some very well-written SF/F (John Scalzi, Connie Willis, Marion Z. Bradley for e.g.) and for me the writing was part of the enjoyment. I have also looked at some that after 5 pages I realized was dreck (George RR Martin, Stephenie Meyers) and put it down.
Anyhow the SF/F fans seem like an easy group to bash, and that just is intellectually lazy, an easy out like slamming tea partiers, women's book clubs, hippies, or whatever group you enjoy looking down on.
"Folks don't read the genre for good writing or technical virtuosity." I think this is a rather sweeping generalization that can be true of fantasy/sf fans but is a little unfair as applied to all of them.
Wouldn't you say, Anna, that my generalization is true of MOST (high) fantasy fans--a glance at the best-sellers of that genre doesn't reveal a lot of literary innovation; rather more imitation than innovation, if you get my meaning.
I'm surprised you allude to Marion Z. Bradley--I find her (what little I've tried to read) absolutely tone-deaf and technically inept. And she famously employed ghost writers and collaborators to sharecrop her notions. Her "Avalon" series seemed little more than a female-based retelling of Arthurian legends, a series of books that went on and on and on...
I read the first one, Mists of Avalon, many years ago, and liked it. I didn't think the writing was inept. There was one scene I remember to this day, one of the initiation scenes, it was really powerful.
I think a female based retelling of the Arthurian legends is an interesting concept. I love Arthur stories. One of my favorite books of all time was The Once and Future King and I am reading the Cornwall series with Chris right now. Re her version, though I liked Mists of A., I was not so fond of the prequel, The Forest House, and haven't read her other stuff.
166: Also, (sorry for multiple posts) I agree with you but I think it's sort of a tautology to say that the genre contains more imitation than innovation. Of course a lot of genre fiction is derivative. It's true in all the genres. I'd say a good 85% of fantasy can be classified as "bad Tolkien ripoff" - that leaves 15% that's well written.
Which other genre has a higher signal to noise ratio? Horror? (snicker) Historical fiction? (giggle) Romance? Hard SF? And then there's the stuff that gets to go in the Lit or "general fiction" aisle.
Well, a recent walk through a bookstore convinced me that the target audience for most publishers today are women who have suffered catastrophic head injuries and people who buy books as decorations or to prop up their windows.
I detest the vast majority of genre fiction and genuine "literary" fiction is in short supply these days; it could easily be relegated to one tiny shelf in most bookstores.
Is high fantasy the worst offender? Probably not, but it's indicative of a larger problem, those "diminished expectations" I mentioned earlier.
We'll only get better books when we, as readers, demand better books and refuse to cater to publishers who have such contempt for the people they purport to be serving. I rarely buy new books these days--I'm not part of the demographic, in that I have opposable thumbs and a forebrain larger than a pencil point.
169: You don't think genres targeted to *men* are just as targeted to those without frontal lobes? Strolled down the spy fiction aisle before? What about military fiction? Clive Cussler, the Clancy franchise, these are not marketed to the female demographic!
Other than that, I got nothing. Of course there is a lot of junk out there and the book sector is more about marketing niches than quality.
Don't forget Anna, when it's marketed to men it's 'gritty', 'hard-boiled' and 'realistic' - makes it seem more serious and educational. You never know when you'll need to pilot a submarine or take out some terrorists.
I think the publishing demographic has shifted toward women and the view that publishers have toward those women is, apparently, not very complimentary. Superficial, obsessed with body image, finding a man, not finding a man, finding happiness...etc. Sherron HATES the shit that passes for "women's fiction" these days and, increasingly, she's looking further afield when seeking out books.
The sad thing is, at least 70% of editors are female.
Titles relating to spy fiction and military fiction, even historical fiction aren't found in nearly the same numbers as "the old days". Which, if the standard is Clancy and Cussler, is decidedly a GOOD thing.
Fifteen or twenty years ago an article in ESQUIRE (on Norman Mailer) decried the disappearance of novels exclusively for and about men. In younger age groups, girls are reading far more than boys. Video and computer games take a large measure of the blame but that shift in the publishers' emphasis is also a contributing factor, in my view...
171: Heh heh, it's edumacational! Why, after reading a bunch of those books, I can operate any Army vehicle by myself. Not to mention how a lot of those kinds of books are really into listing specific brands of gadgetry. Dan Brown is particularly funny in this regard. It's worse than TV product placement. "As So and So reached for his Macbook DRM-V, his BlackBerry beeped, letting him know that he had received a text message from So and So at CERN."
172: Yeah, I hate the self help dreck and the fiction that's about the same subjects, too. Wish women weren't so socialized to hate themselves and their bodies.
"Wish women weren't so socialized to hate themselves and their bodies."
Anna, it's wise comments like that that make me appreciate hanging out with you.
Sherron told me this year "Find me some good, smart books for Christmas"...and here's one of them going in her gift box:
Getting back to Anne McCaffrey (fascinating as the digression was), I have fond memories of reading her books as a teenager. She introduced me to fantasy, and then through the sci-fi elements of her stories, I started reading sci-fi too.
Many, many hours of pleasure there.
Of course, I'd prefer well-written sci-fi and fantasy, it's one of the reasons why I read less in that genre now than I used to. I think I overdosed on crappy fantasy and sci-fi, and I'm still a little wary of most books in that genre. But all my thanks to Ms McCaffrey for all those great reading memories and kickstarting me along the way.
>165 anna_in_pdx: - I'm a bit puzzled, surely you got some of them the wrong way round: Connie Willis a better writer than George RR Martin? Admittedly I haven't read Martin's huge fantasy saga but I won't read anyone's huge fantasy saga any more, however Martin's Fevre Dream and short stories like The Way of Cross and Dragon are far superior to anything Willis has ever produced.
Have to admit, I'm not a Willis fan. There's a blandness to the writing and her works all have a similar feel and "tone" to them.
Her numerous awards have always been a source of mystery to me.
I've read very little Martin--not a fantasy guy...although I read ARMAGEDDON RAG at least 20 years ago and remember liking it.
U.S. poet Ruth Stone:
Tom Wicker has died:
Joe Rollino, World's Strongest Man, dead at 104:
Heard about Ken Russell this morning. Can't say I'm a HUGE fan (based on the three or four films of his I've seen). But I'd like to get my hands on that new restored version of "The Devils"--that might redeem him in my eyes.
I saw the original and thought Huxley's book far, far better.
German author and critic Christa Wolf RIP
Obituary from The Guardian
In recent years, as Germany has come to feel more at ease with reunification, less bedevilled by the ghosts of history, Wolf has been recognised, alongside Günter Grass, as the nation's most important postwar writer.
And from DW online a different emphasis in its obituary.
"Flamboyant" Laugh-In member Alan Sues:
A classic bit with "Uncle Al":
This won't mean much to most people on here but the brilliant Brazilian footballer Socrates has died.
A better obituary from The Guardian - Socrates
He also possessed an intellect that complemented his name. I was lucky enough to interview "The Doctor" in 2002 and was awed by his wisdom and good humour – not to mention the number of beers he could knock back. He was clearly one of football's great sages, but also held court on everything from his surreal meeting in the Libyan desert with Colonel Gaddafi (who urged Sócrates to run for Brazilian president) to his love of Ché Guevara.
Darrell K. Sweet
The science fiction/fantasy genre has lost one of its most renowned artists. Darrell K. Sweet, whose art has graced the covers of literally thousands of novels since the 1970s, passed away yesterday at the age of 77.
Old time actor--M.A.S.H. fans will remember him well:
Oh my, RIP. I loved that show... 96 though, that's a good long innings.
Christopher Logue, whose versions of Homer are among my favourite poetry in the world.
Also very sad to hear about Colonel Potter but 96 is very good going.
The man who gave us Robin and, perhaps, the Joker has passed away - Jerry Robinson
Wow, those are two big losses.
Just picked up Hoban's LINGER AWHILE at a library book sale last week. Looked like it hadn't been read (for heaven's sake!). One blurb from the SUNDAY TIMES on the back reads: "Russell Hoban is unclassifiable...he is an original; imaginative and inventive." Yes, indeed.
True confession: I know that with my sedentary lifestyle it's unlikely I'll ever get to Paris to see Shakespeare & Co. (among other things), so a few years back I bundled up copies of some of my books and sent them to George Whitman at the bookstore, asking no remuneration, just wanting the satisfaction of knowing that something I'd written was present on those famously cluttered, disorganized shelves.
A pair of fascinating and unique figures.
Tough way to start the day.
Christopher Hitchens RIP:
Noted journalist, essayist, cheerleader and Bush toady for the invasion of Iraq, and outspoken atheist ... dead.
Ironically, on the day the Iraq War "officially" ended.
#201 At least Hitchins had the guts to say he had been wrong about Iraq. Imagine any of our political or church leaders doing that. I wish him a peaceful sleep with no flying spaghetti monsters.
I liked Hitch and his contrarian spirit. Doesn't mean I agreed with him all the time but I admired the ferocity of his intellect.
202: He had the guts because he had nothing at stake, except his posh writing post at Vanity Fair. Political and church leaders will say anything for public support -- and because both don't want to lose their wonderful health benefits, pension, and other perks acquired from their systematic bloodsuckery of their respective herds, er ... political bases ... er, congregations. It gets confusing trying to separate the two here in 'Murrica, since religion and politics have been mutually debasing each other for centuries, resulting in a tedious, watered-down, middlebrow slurry.
Albert Speer also admitted he was wrong about the whole Nazi thing. Alas, too little too late.
Luckily Hitch's death will allow to evade any possible indictment for war crimes. But I like his writing and I enjoyed his blasting the theocratic turds -- at least when he wasn't coddling them during his Iraqi Invasion Cheerleading shtick. Like Ferdinand Celine and Ezra Pound, he'll be remembered for the quality of his writing, not his poor political decisions.
Chris tells me that Hitch underwent waterboarding to see how it felt, and decided that yes it was torture? Do any of you guys remember that?
I did not like Hitch at all, but he certainly didn't lack for guts to take on any number of sacred cows.
When one's attempts at serious commentary make Bill O'Reilly appear moderate, perhaps it's time to stop trying so hard.
Luckily Hitch's death will allow to evade any possible indictment for war crimes.
Yeah, I hear the ICC in the Hague was going after him next. Too bad he died and escaped justice, eh?
...resulting in a tedious, watered-down, middlebrow slurry.
No need to explain.
Ah yes, Hitchens was ever the exemplar of moderation and sobriety, especially in front of an open microphone. Heck, that's why I liked him. His verbal fireworks are a wonder to behold. It's why he'll be remembered.
"Serious commentary"? On an Internet message board? Methinks you doth protest too much. But one needs a poseur of moderation every once in a while ... at least when Henry Kissinger isn't lauding the merits of moderation and restraint.
Fine by me, Karl. I'll keep 'pretending' to be moderate, as long as you keep pretending to be an 'intellectual'.
Your rapid retreats to what you imagine to be the "high road" are infinitely more entertaining than your attempts to recreate the combination of intelligence and wit that made Hitchens so popular - especially when you flub the Shakespeare quote.
Hitchens bringing the snark:
"Cynics have compared the neoliberal tendency to the neoconservative one. I think that comparison must be counted as unfair. For one thing, neoconservatives are much more rigorous. For another, they are much more interesting. Neoconservatives believe in original sin, while neoliberals believe in the enervating effect of public spending programs. Neoconservatives are keenly interested in foreign policy, with its emphasis on tough choices, while neoliberals are oddly diffident about it. Neoconservatives have a sense of class struggle and know which side they are on. Neoliberals wish the word “class” had never been discovered and agree not to use it at all, ever, except when attacking radicals for being out of touch with what “ordinary people” want. Neoconservatism could occur in any country. Neoliberalism could, really, only occur in a country like America, which combines abundance with angst and has a vast population of overqualified graduate students, some of whom wish they had, after all, served in Vietnam."
I am always confused by the terminology in America between neocon and neolib, it's as if the rest of the world has ceased to exist (not an usual belief here in the US).
A classic Liberal was someone who believed, amongst other things, in free enterprise.
The definition of neoliberalism from Wikipedia is:
Neoliberalism is a contemporary form of economic liberalism that emphasizes the efficiency of private enterprise, liberalized trade and relatively open markets to promote globalization. Neoliberals therefore seek to maximize the role of the private sector in determining the political and economic priorities of the world.
Nowadays it seems to have degenerated into whether you were for or against the war in Iraq. This absurd over-simplification would make Ron Paul a leading neoliberal.
I think Hobbes and Priestley would recognize him as a Classic Liberal.
208: Your rapid retreats to what you imagine to be the "high road" are infinitely more entertaining than your attempts to recreate the combination of intelligence and wit that made Hitchens so popular - especially when you flub the Shakespeare quote
High road? Pfft, what tosh. Never really had much use for it, since it borders "the Mainstream" too much for my ecumenically promiscuous tastes. I didn't flub a Shakespeare quote because it wasn't an exact quote. Forest for trees and all that. But you're an intellectual and should have known that in the first place. Why would I -- a low-road traveling sub-human non-intellectual -- have to point out such blatant obviousness? Well, you probably know the answer to that and many, many, many other things, since you, Anointed One, Christ-like in your martyred perfections and godlike in your advertised omnipotence, are sorta on the smart side.
Then again, why would I even bother seeking validation from the likes of you? Again, you know the answer to that, Bardolator.
Bless you Karl. Your responses are, if nothing else, predictable. I knew I could count on you to dust off a couple of your old standbys.
As far as seeking validation - protestations of "ecumenical promiscuity" and being anti-mainstream to the contrary - your posting history is one long extended cry of "please, please, think I'm funny/transgressive". At some point you'd think a parent, trusted teacher or good friend would have told you how desperate it looks to be constantly "on". When you're always performing don't get indignant when people think you a clown.
Ah, forget this tack, folks, it's getting too personal (not to mention irrelevant to the topic at hand).
Back to the thread, eh, wot?
Yes, I think we need someone else to die... Or then again, maybe not.
Sad to hear about Gilbert Adair, I did enjoy his Evadne Mount trilogy, it was a highly entertaining bit of flummery.
A little more on George Whitman and the history/legacy of the Shakespeare & Co. book store:
I really admired the man.
Wonderful obit of Christopher Hitchens by his friend Ian McEwan:
Vaclav Havel RIP:
Along with North Korean dictator/running gag Kim Jong Il:
Here he is doing the weather:
Err. What happened when "the glorious leader" or some such words for an ARSEHOLE died.
A mere Atheist, Hitckens, gets thousands of words, but when "...our Beloved Leader dies many tears shed"
no one in the USA comments. May I add my spit to yours!
But may I also revere "Havel". Yes just a human.
But what a contrast!
I think the 30 Rock clip with "Johnny Thunder" doing the weather is probably the best tribute one can give to a dictator prone to ridiculous claims and farcical acts. Then there's this clip:
From what I hear, Kim Jong Un loves basketball. Could we possibly export Lebron James over there?
But can he shoot the equivalent of 11 "hole's in 1", in a single round?
Fine old character actor Dan Frazer:
I love these guys. The lunch bucket and thermos types--show up and do a professional job. Year after year...
Reports of John Bon Jovi's death are unfortunately premature.
You are usually too clever for me to take "the Mickey out off" But here those "guys" leave any American Cheerleaders for dead! Not as pretty I concede, but that precisiom...? That mind numbing ROBOT precision.
Who said "communism" had nothing to offer Mankind?
Watch and weep
234: Unfortunately, I understood nothing of that post.
Luckily the Internet is the source of propriety, reason, and urbane culture:
#236 As a Brit, that made me laugh out loud. Thank you for posting.
This has been a bad year for political comedians. They now take time to consider - who are the next go-to comedy terrorists and dictators?
...(hopefully) the House of Saud, Assad, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the Egyptian military high command, Pakistani generals, some of the gits running the "-stans" (former Soviet republics), um...those are just the ones off the top of my head...
239: The Tea Party and the economic terrorists who think Ayn Rand knows what she is talking about. Both finished the job Al Qaeda started.
Apparently, chimps can live to be 80:
243: Damn you, I thought Dubya had died. Curse your maple-syrup deception and cunning!
Hanging out with Hunter S. probably shaved a few years off his lifespan.
Czech-Canadian writer Josef Skvorecky:
This thread had fallen entirely off the radar.
Scroll down about five threads from the top of the list, A.J.
You'll find a newer Obit thread.
AJ the current thread is here:
This topic is not marked as primarily about any work, author or other topic.