Thursday, December 10, 2009
RIP Gene Barry.
RIP Gene Barry. His three TV series were among my favorites growing up.

AP article by Bob Thomas

LOS ANGELES — Gene Barry, who played the well-dressed man of action in the television series "Bat Masterson," "Burke's Law" and "The Name of the Game," has died at age 90 of unknown causes, his son said Thursday.

Fredric James Barry said the actor died Wednesday at a rest home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Woodland Hills.

Gene Barry essentially played the same character in all three series, which spanned the 1950s to the 1970s. Always fashionably dressed, the tall, handsome actor with the commanding voice dominated his scenes as he bested the bad guys in each show.


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Thomas Hoving, 78, dies of cancer.
Thomas Hoving, 78, dies of cancer. Globe and Mail article by Verna Dobnik.

Thomas Hoving's charismatic but controversial leadership of New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art is summed up in his autobiography Making the Mummies Dance.

Dr. Hoving died yesterday of lung cancer at his Manhattan home, his family said.

As the director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art from 1967 to 1977, he turned an institution he said was "dying" into a happening museum with blockbuster exhibits. The treasures from Egyptian King Tutankhamun's tomb was the most popular exhibit in the museum's history, drawing more than one million visitors in New York, plus another 5.6 million at five other American museums.

But Dr. Hoving also raised dust in other ways, paying $5.5-million for a Velazquez masterpiece while selling works by Van Gogh and others to help pay for it. And he had no qualms about letting people sit and snack on the museum's front staircase, which he had enlarged.

Dr. Hoving's philosophy was: anything to make people notice great art.


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Wednesday, January 14, 2009
RIP Patrick McGoohan
Patrick McGoohan March 19, 1928 – January 13, 2009

Peter Falk ... described McGoohan as "the most underrated, under-appreciated talent on the face of the globe. I have never played a scene with another actor who commanded my attention the way Pat did."

I grew up on Secret Agent. I moved on to The Prisoner. I enjoyed watching McGoohan in his handsome-boy secret agent younger days and his villainous older days.

Talented guy. I'm glad he got his accolades while he was around to hear them.

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Thursday, December 25, 2008
RIP, Miss Eartha.
YouTube - Eartha Kitt - C'est Si Bon (Live Kaskad 1962)

RIP, Miss Eartha. You gave a ton of pleasure to a zillion folks. Here's hoping you wind up with the folks you would want to spend the rest of eternity with.

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Friday, July 13, 2007
There goes an era ...
Porn lord Jim Mitchell dies at 63

You can Google all the particulars.

Jim and Artie were the godfathers of San Francisco smut.

Two friends from SJPL worked in San Francisco for a while back in the early seventies. The F half was the girl working the box office. She took your $ to get into the theater. The M half had experience working with the AV and film at San Jose Public: he cleaned the films after playing.

We always used to say that Richard cleaned dirty films for the Mitchell Brothers.

Ah, those were the days.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2007
[OBIT] Norman P. Canright
Norman P. Canright

Faced with the need to support his family, Norman plunged into commerce at the age of 40, first working on the docks as a ship's clerk, until he was hired as a temporary clerk with a small importing company, R. Dakin & Company. When the F.B.I. called company president Roger Dakin to suggest that he might not want to hire a "Red," he reportedly told them to mind their own business. Norman quickly advanced to sales manager, then to vice president for sales, and member of the board of directors, as he helped to build R. Dakin into the second largest firm in the nation in the benign business of plush stuffed animals.

Great story of an interesting life well lived.


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Sunday, July 08, 2007
The Greatest Obituary Ever?
Labeled "THE GREATEST OBITUARY EVER" by Poor Mojo Newswire

Count Gottfried von Bismarck, who was found dead on Monday aged 44, was a louche German aristocrat with a multi-faceted history as a pleasure-seeking heroin addict, hell-raising alcoholic, flamboyant waster and a reckless and extravagant host of homosexual orgies.

The great-great-grandson of Prince Otto, Germany's Iron Chancellor and architect of the modern German state, the young von Bismarck showed early promise as a brilliant scholar, but led an exotic life of gilded aimlessness that attracted the attention of the gossip columns from the moment he arrived in Oxford in 1983 and hosted a dinner at which the severed heads of two pigs were placed at either end of the table.

When not clad in the lederhosen of his homeland, he cultivated an air of sophisticated complexity by appearing in women's clothes, set off by lipstick and fishnet stockings. This aura of dangerous "glamour" charmed a large circle of friends and acquaintances drawn from the jeunesse dorée of the age; many of them knew him at Oxford, where he made friends such as Darius Guppy and Viscount Althorp and became an enthusiastic, rubber-clad member of the Piers Gaveston Society and the drink-fuelled Bullingdon and Loders clubs.

Perhaps unsurprisingly he managed only a Third in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.

[... Continues]

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007
RIP Mr. Wizard
RIP Mr. Wizard.

During the 1960s and 1970s, about half the applicants to Rockefeller University in New York, where students work toward doctorates in science and medicine, cited Mr. Wizard when asked how they first became interested in science. [ref: International Herald Tribune]

more articles

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Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted - Amy E. Boyle Johnston
Ray Bradbury: Fahrenheit 451 Misinterpreted - Amy E. Boyle Johnston, LA Weekly.


Bradbury, a man living in the creative and industrial center of reality TV and one-hour dramas, says it is, in fact, a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature.

"Television gives you the dates of Napoleon, but not who he was," Bradbury says, summarizing TV's content with a single word that he spits out as an epithet: "factoids." He says this while sitting in a room dominated by a gigantic flat-panel television broadcasting the Fox News Channel, muted, factoids crawling across the bottom of the screen.

His fear in 1953 that television would kill books has, he says, been partially confirmed by television's effect on substance in the news. The front page of that day's L.A. Times reported on the weekend box-office receipts for the third in the Spider-Man series of movies, seeming to prove his point.

"Useless," Bradbury says. "They stuff you with so much useless information, you feel full." He bristles when others tell him what his stories mean, and once walked out of a class at UCLA where students insisted his book was about government censorship. He's now bucking the widespread conventional wisdom with a video clip on his Web site (, titled "Bradbury on censorship/television."

As early as 1951, Bradbury presaged his fears about TV, in a letter about the dangers of radio, written to fantasy and science-fiction writer Richard Matheson. Bradbury wrote that "Radio has contributed to our 'growing lack of attention.'... This sort of hopscotching existence makes it almost impossible for people, myself included, to sit down and get into a novel again. We have become a short story reading people, or, worse than that, a QUICK reading people."


"I was worried about people being turned into morons by TV," Bradbury says in the censorship/television video clip. The collection of clips includes his explanation of how he wrote Fahrenheit 451 in nine days in a clip titled (oddly enough) FAHRENHEIT 451.

The Bradbury site also includes a wonderful obit for Marguerite Susan McClure (Maggie) Bradbury, who died in 2003.

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Saturday, June 09, 2007
What do YOU want to be remembered for?
Obit in today's Chron: Edwin Traisman -- french fry innovator.

Seems Traisman bought the first McDonald's franchise in Madison, WI, in the late 1950s. At the time there was a problem getting the fresh potatoes to make fries. (McDonald's fries at that time were made fresh in each location.) Ray Kroc asked Traisman to help work on the problem of making tasty frozen fries and a "Method for Preparing Frozen French Fried Potatoes" (a Traisman innovation) was patented in 1962.

But wait. There's more.

Before becoming a McDonald's franchisee, Traisman was director of food research at Kraft where he was instrumental in the development of Cheez Whiz cheese spread, instant pudding and other food products.

Cheez Whiz AND McDonald's french fries! Where would we be today without Traisman?

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Thursday, May 17, 2007
RIP Terry Ryan, the author/daughter of the Prizewinner of Defiance, Ohio.
Author Terry Ryan, 61, dies in S.F. home

I've been sorting through boxes of books lately. Came across Terry's book just a couple days back. I hadn't realized she was ailing.

Survived by her nine siblings and Pat Holt, her partner of almost a quarter-century. Pat and Terry were married on Valentine's Day weekend, 2004. The state nullified that marriage.

That wrong can never be righted now. Here's to the day things change for those who carry on the good fight.

And here's to Terry, may she be remembered fondly.

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Friday, May 04, 2007
[OBIT] Wally Schirra -- Mercury, Gemini, Apollo astronaut
When Wally Schirra Said, "Go to Hell"

Well written, well done, Jeffrey Kluger of Time Magazine.


Tuesday, May 01, 2007
Bob Pastorio: Restaurateur, raconteur, friend
A couple weeks back, Carol linked to a profile written by Charles Culbertson, a friend of Bob's.

I just got around to reading it. Culbertson really caught Bob's essence. Very nice.

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Saturday, April 28, 2007
Margaret Dorothy Killam Atwood
This week the Globe and Mail published the obit for Margaret Dorothy Killam Atwood, who died last December, aged 97.

What a wonderful homage to Margaret Atwood's mother, written by the daughter.

The obit begins,

Someone said to me recently, 'You must have had an unusual mother.' True enough.


[from SG's cosa nostra blog]

Update: with any luck the new link won't ask you to pay for the obit text. ...

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007
RIP Barbara Seranella (1956-2007)
Received a note from my SinCNorCal cohort with word that Barbara Seranella died Sunday while awaiting a liver transplant.

Sad news for those who'd known her.

More information at her site.

Life's too short for some. This is, as one of her titles said, an unacceptable death.

Less than three weeks ago, I blogged that her New Year's message showed such spirit.

We all had hoped ...

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Thursday, January 18, 2007
RIP Robert Anton Wilson
Sunday, January 07, 2007
[OBIT] Momofuku Ando
Chron obit today for Momofuku Ando


Ando, age 96, who died of a heartattack Friday, invented Ramen, the first instant noodle.

I have some Ramen in the bin in the kitchen for those days when I have time for nothing else or can't think of anything else or am feeling too drear and nothing sounds good, which sometimes amounts to the same thing and sometimes doesn't.

RIP Momofuku Ando. What a brill idea you had, and carried through. American college students thank you.

Ando gave a speech at the company's New Year ceremony and enjoyed Chicken Ramen for lunch with Nissin employees on Thursday before falling ill, Japan's largest daily Yomiuri reported. [from the SFChron obit]


Monday, December 25, 2006
The Godfather of Soul
Who would've thought after all the years and all that living that James Brown would die on Christmas Day of congestive heart failure/pneumonia in a hospital at age 73?

This was certainly not the way I would've ever figured he'd leave this earthly realm. He always seemed more a "bang!" than a whimper-exit sort of guy.

Spin your copy of "I Feel Good" and wish the man a speedy journey. I think he would've been amused to see the news reports and obits pour in: Siberian News Online,, Sky News Australia, the Telegraph, BET, PBS, Newsday, Bostonist, Irish Times and fourteen hundred plus others.


Monday, December 18, 2006
Augie Doggie's Doggie Daddy's dead
Joseph Barbera died, age 95.

Tell the Gatekeeper we voted you a free pass for the happiness you gave millions of rapt cartoon watchers over the years.

Thanks for hundreds (thousands, more like) of hours spent with Baba Louie and Quick Draw McGraw, Yogi Bear and Boo Boo, the prehistoric Flintstones, Bam-Bam and Pebbles, the futuristic Jetsons and all the rest of the gigantic gang of characters you and William Hanna created.

I can't imagine my childhood without them.

Update: Sour Grapes reminds me, Don't forget Tom and Jerry.

As if I could. A quick tour of YouTube gives us Tom and Jerry - The Cat Concerto (1946) and, in the spirit of the season, Tom and Jerry - The Night Before Christmas (1941)


Wednesday, December 13, 2006
RIP Leslie Harpold
I've been spinning through the Web, reading reminiscences of Leslie Harpold since I first found out a few hours ago through a post at SFist that she had died some time last week.

What can I say?

I hope Heaven is everything she'd imagined it could be.

She was a fine writer and, judging from the stories and posts from her many friends and acquaintances, someone I would've liked to have known.


: views from the Hill

Bertold Brecht:   
Everything changes. You can make
A fresh start with your final breath.
But what has happened has happened. And the water
You once poured into the wine cannot be
Drained off again.

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