Showing posts with label passing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label passing. Show all posts

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Jeff the Cat Merges with The Infinite

If you think he's thinking "I didn't do it", you are right.

Jeffrey George Taylor The Cat, better known as "Jeff the Cat", passed today.

He will not be remembered fondly by many.  He had... personality.  But Jeff was my little buddy, and I am going to miss him very much.

We didn't get along the first few years he lived with us, and I was, frankly, ready to get rid of him at the drop of a hat.  Oddly, during that time, he saved my life.

I had an old oscillating fan, and one day I was working away on my computer in the era before laptops, and Jeff was circling my feet as cats do.  Suddenly, he bolted out of the room, and I thought that was a bit peculiar so I turned around and the fan was a pillar of oscillating flame.   I don't know if I would have died, exactly, but we would have certainly had a lot more property damage and many more problems if Jeff hadn't alerted me to the fire.

Still, we didn't really get along.  But at some point when we lived in Phoenix, Jeff started hanging out with me in the mornings while I was showering and getting ready.  And then started hanging out with me in the evenings after Jamie went to bed.  And soon I had a little yellow shadow wherever I went.

I will never know why he picked me over Jamie.  For years, she was far nicer to that cat than myself.  But for the past decade, he's been my constant sidekick.  And made it really hard to organize comics by walking all over them, chewing on comic bags, knocking over action figures and generally letting me know that if I was sitting on the floor, I was really supposed to be playing with him.

I am not sure I'll know when to wake up without him coming to get me.  Or how I'll know when it's time to go to bed without him giving me a pointed look around midnight each evening.  Or how to read a book or magazine without him rubbing his face against the edges and suggesting "hey, if you want to just stare at something, I'm your huckleberry".  Or how one watches TV or movies without a cat making himself at home on your chest or on your leg.  I assume I might now float away without the extra few pounds of cat to weigh me down.

We were with him when he went, and he went quietly and peacefully.  15 years is a good, long time, and for some time, as he's gotten older, my biggest concern was that he not live poorly if we could help it.  We owed him, and I didn't want for him to have a single bad day.

We'll miss you, little buddy.  You were loved very much.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Esther Williams merges with The Infinite


We bid farewell to swimmer/ performer/ actress Esther Williams who was the star of a lot of splashy musicals back in the day.


Williams was a youth swimming champ, and - at least according to IMDB - was discovered by one of those talent scouts who was always plucking counter girls and girls at Schwab's enjoying a malted and turning them into movie stars.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Ray Harryhausen Merges with the Infinite

I think I only checked out five books from the library at UT for pleasure reading while I was a student and, two of them were on Ray Harryhausen.  In college, I had dreams of becoming an animator- and then computers happened.  But until then, I really wanted to know how Harryhausen became the master he undoubtedly was when it came to creating fantastic imagery for the silver screen.

I was sad to hear of Harryhausen's passing when a tweet or two mentioned it and I saw the headline when I got back to my hotel room.


If you don't know Ray Harryhausen, he's easy enough to investigate.  He was one of the greatest FX artists in the world, spawning a world in which we eventually had movies with AT-ATs and Terminators, and his understanding of motion foretold what the CGI era would bring to the big pictures.  But he did it with tangible artistry in stop motion effects.

Harryhausen brought us Greek Titans, dinosaurs, Venusian aliens, angry skeleton armies and an endless stream of characters that mingled with live action players and fired the imagination.

I've only seen a handful of his movies (and I'm not even sure which Sinbad movies I have and haven't seen... I'd have to watch them again), but Clash of the Titans came out in 1981, and all we knew was that it was amazing.

If you've never tried to film animation by hand, it's a frame-by-frame feat of utter concentration and requires determination and love for what one is doing on a scale there whipper-snappers and their computers and whatnot from today probably get, but they do it at a monitor, not hunched over a table with lights, moving the neck of the monsters a tiny, tiny increment for every exposure - and every frame could be the last if something happens between clicks.

It's obsessive work, and craftsmanship that's fading from mainstream American film - especially as the

So long, Mr. Harryhausen.



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Richard LeParmentier Merges with The Force

I don't attend many signings, but a few years back I had opportunity to meet actor Richard LeParmentier when he was in town and Austin Books and Comics held a "Star Wars Day" in his honor.

It was a total circus.  Turns out, people like Star Wars and getting to meet Admiral Motti.

Mr. LeParmentier was very gracious, and signed a photo of himself that I keep on my desk at work.

your blogger, sorely in need of a haircut, and Mr. LeParmentier
You can kind of see the picture in my hand there.  It's a picture of LeParmentier in his classic role as Admiral Motti in Episode IV who questions Vader's devotion to the force and gets force-choked until Grand Moff Tarkin puts a stop to it.



He even drew a square on the Death Star with an arrow and note that says "my office".  It cracks me up every time I look at it.

I keep the picture on my desk facing whomever sits across from me, but in the years since, not once has anyone gotten the subtext.  It's a disappointment.

As Mr. LeParmentier was so nice to me and is one of the few folks I've had opportunity to meet, I am even more saddened to hear of his passing.  I'm even more sad to hear that, reading this article, that he lived in here in Austin or his children reside here, according to the ABC article.  I had no idea.

Godspeed, sir.  It was a pleasure and honor to shake your hand.


Pat Summerall Merges with The Infinite

Man.

Pat Summerall, the calm voice of commentary on CBS and Fox football, has passed.

Summerall retired a few years ago (several years ago now, I guess), and he only popped up very occasionally.  But for folks my age, he and John Madden were a sort of omnipresent twosome on in the Fall, and a fixture of Thanksgiving games.  Really, John Madden is clearly legally insane, and it was always the calm voice of Summerall that made the games make any sense or have any cohesion.

He, Costas and Al Michaels have been some of my favorite sports broadcasters over the years and I'll miss him.

Summerall and Madden

Friday, April 12, 2013

Jonathan Winters Merges with The Infinite


The great comedian and comedic actor, Jonathan Winters, has reportedly passed.  Winters hadn't been active much the past few years, so many of you kids may not know him.  But for those of us who grew up with Winters, he was sort of the crazy, beloved, nutsy next-door master of improv and characters you loved to see show up on TV.  If he hadn't mostly retired, he would fit in beautifully in today's movie scene shot on video and improvising around the script.

He'll be missed.

I'm going to YouTube to go dig up some of his stuff.  You should, too.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Annette Funicello Merges with The Infinite



It seems that original Mouseketeer, beach movie fixture and boomer icon, Annette Funicello, has passed.

 I knew Annette from her 80's-era TV appearances and also as the girl that, apparently, men of my Dad's generation all grew up having a crush on.  Annette Funicello was going through a sort of nostalgia-tour renaissance when I was a kid, in peanut butter commercials, guest appearances, etc.. at a time when we also happened to have the Disney Channel, which would rerun the old Mickey Mouse Club episodes (but not in order, because that would be nuts).  And I was just the kind of kid who was cool enough to think a good afternoon included Mr. Ed and Mickey Mouse Club re-runs.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Carmine Infantino Races into The Infinite

Reports are coming out that Carmine Infantino, original artist of the Silver Age Flash comics - and so, so many other comics - has passed.



If you can, pick up the Flash Chronicles books or the Showcase Presents: The Flash collections.  It's not just the stories that are great (and they are), but it's Infantino's visualizations of Barry Allen's powers brought to life, managing the panel-by-panel aspect of comics to keep the reader on pace with Barry when necessary and coming up with other techniques - like the "many Flashes in a single panel" technique that was even spoofed in an early episode of The Big Bang Theory.  

Roger Ebert Merges with The Infinite


Film critic, commentator and historian Roger Ebert has passed.

As co-worker Kristi said "he and Siskel had the last, old school intelligent criticism show on TV".  I agree.  Even after Siskel passed and Ebert had to take a side-line role on At the Movies after he'd grown ill, I liked the various folks who were on, but I really missed the original formula.  Smart, tweedy guys taking an art form seriously.  Back when studios were arguably trying to participate in film as an art form and less as a commercial product.

Ebert found the internet, and as recently as a few days ago he was online, blogging, talking about how he'd been ill again, but that he and his wife, Chaz, were planning new ventures and what was to come for his film festival in Chicago.  He was massively influential online, straying from movies and into politics and sociology.

I liked Ebert most of my life, but the past few years I came to respect the hell out of the man who wasn't just confined to giving movies a thumbs-up or down, who had a wide ranging field of interest, who had become somehow more verbose once stripped of his voice, and whose decades of reviews were available online for me to consider.

We lost Gene Siskel too soon when he passed more than a decade ago, and we lost Ebert just as he was really getting his engines humming for his career's second act.

His website is still up, and hopefully his team of critics is still out there doing their jobs.


Sunday, February 3, 2013

Saying Good-Bye to Judy

In the early hours of January 1st, Jamie and Doug's mother passed here in Austin.  She'd had a stroke-like experience in August, and before Christmas, she suffered several more episodes.  We were lucky to have Doug and Kristen here in Austin with us, and we were together with Jamie's dad, Dick, throughout the very long days there at the end of the year.

This weekend we held the memorial for Judy in San Marcos, where she and Dick have lived since about October of 2008.  Prior to their move to Texas, Judy and Dick had lived for decades in Lawton, Oklahoma, where the McBrides still have a multitude of connections.



Of course the ceremony was extremely difficult, but as a reminder and celebration of Judy's life, and the many, many lives she touched - it was lovely to attend.  

I met Judy within a week or two of the start of my relationship with Jamie.  We were only twenty, and parental contact with the girl you're seeing at that age is something you don't necessarily want to dive into headfirst.  However, actually quite liking this girl and understanding already how close she was to her family meant that I figured I'd best not duck out when I had a chance to make a good first impression on the girlfriend's mother.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Jamie's Mom Has Passed

It's with tremendous difficulty that I write this post.

About a week before Christmas, Jamie's mother entered the hospital.  Despite excellent care and the best efforts of the medical staff, Judy passed early this morning.  As I am sure I will be asked, Judy had suffered a stroke in August, and in the days before Christmas, she suffered another serious stroke which was followed by a couple of smaller episodes.

Many of you have followed Jamie and me for a long time on this site or the prior site where Judy often participated under the name "m-i-l" (mother-in-law), and some of you have met us or even met Judy at some point.  Or, you may have simply seen her name or photo here at the site.  

This is an extremely difficult time for us, and I hope you'll understand any internet silence that occurs during the next days or weeks.

Now isn't the time for an extended post, but I hope you'll take a moment today and think of Judy, Jamie, Doug and Dick.




Monday, December 10, 2012

2012 - Hollywood Memorial from Turner Classic

Once again, Turner Classic remembers actors, directors, composers and so much of the talent that passed in 2012. Many names you'll know, even more you won't, but you'll be glad they took a moment for each of them.




Friday, November 23, 2012

Larry Hagman Merges with The Infinite

Larry Hagman, of Dallas TV fame, has passed at the age of 81.

I am a child of the 70's and 80's, and was living in the Dallas area circa 1979-1981 and Houston, after that.  There were four channels at the time.  We all watched Dallas.  Yes, we all knew who JR Ewing was.  And, like much of America, I also wondered who had shot JR.


He drinks your milkshake

Son of actress Mary Martin and a native Texan, Hagman's relationship with Texas continued on and off for most of his life.*  Hagman was a major wheel in TV, both in the US and abroad, where the show ran in re-runs well past when the show had been cancelled.

Later, I'd start watching re-runs of I Dream of Jeannie, where Larry Hagman played astronaut Tony Nelson. He got to be on TV with Barbara Eden every week, and that ain't bad.

Major Nelson was never any Darren-like pushover

Readers of this blog will also remember him from Superman: The Movie as the Army officer who bravely steps up and assists Valerie Perrine when she fakes an auto accident to distract a convoy for Lex.

bravely, bravely ponders a stricken Valerie Perrine

Hagman had recently returned to TV in a reboot of Dallas, and was enjoying a second wind of stardom.

Hagman passed today in a Dallas hospital.

*As a side note, the more someone is like the villainous JR Ewing, the more likely it often seems that they'll be elected governor in Texas, over and over and over.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Coach Darrell K. Royal Merges with The Infinite

Darrell K. Royal, icon of University of Texas football, has passed at 88.


I am sad to learn that former UT football coach, Darrell Royal, has gone on to his reward, but as I said to CoWorker Kristi - "It's kind of hard to imagine living a better life than that guy".

Longhorn Football fans know that Royal brought three championships to Texas and had a 167-47-5 record at UT.  Memorial Stadium is actually now Darrell K. Royal Memorial Stadium, and has been for quite a while.

He remained active in UT Athletics and the University of Texas, and was on the field for a coin toss just a few weeks back.  He'll be missed, but in Austin, it is impossible to believe he'll be forgotten.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Michael Clarke Duncan merges with The Infinite

Man.

Actor Michael Clarke Duncan has passed at the age of 54.

Duncan appeared in all kinds of movies I did like and was also a highlight of films that I didn't like so much.

Some highlights:

  • Kilowog in Green Lantern
  • Talladega Nights: The Legend of Ricky Bobby
  • Sin City
  • Kingpin in Daredevil (the only thing I liked in that movie)
  • Planet of the Apes as Attar (again, the best part of the movie)

Sure, his classiest work occurred in The Green Mile, but I never saw the movie, so, perhaps I should get on that.

We are sorry to see him go.  Godspeed, sir.



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Neil Armstrong Merges with The Infinite

Astronaut Neil Armstrong, possibly the most well known of all astronauts, has passed at the age of 82.





Armstrong was part of the Apollo 11 team that reached the moon, and was the first human to cross the great void and touch foot to moon soil.

That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Armstrong's family on his passing:

While we mourn the loss of a very good man, we also celebrate his remarkable life and hope that it serves as an example to young people around the world to work hard to make their dreams come true, to be willing to explore and push the limits, and to selflessly serve a cause greater than themselves.

For those who may ask what they can do to honor Neil, we have a simple request: Honor his example of service, accomplishment and modesty, and the next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink.

That's a pretty damn good epitaph.

Godspeed, sir.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

35 Years Gone By, Elvis Aron Presley Merged with The Infinite

Eat it, every single other performer who ever fancied they had stage presence

Elvis gone 35 years ago, August the 16th, 1977.

I don't remember the death of Elvis.  I was two.  However, I grew up in a house where my mother played Elvis music on the turntable and hummed Elvis tunes while driving me to soccer practice.  A great gift once received was a bottle of "Elvis White Wine" which nobody ever drank, and eventually it got gross and was tossed away in 2010ish.

Like Marilyn Monroe, James Dean or Bogart, Elvis passed into the twilight realm of American Mythology, a demigod who didn't just sizzle in popularity for a short time after his death, but who attained legendary status once his life itself was no longer there to decry what could be and what could be believed.

Phyllis Thaxter (Superman: The Movie's Martha Kent) Merges with The Infinite

Actress Phyllis Thaxter, the actress who so wonderfully portrayed Martha Kent in Superman: The Movie, has passed at the age of 92.



She is preceded in death by actor Glen Ford who played Jonathan Kent, and Christopher Reeve, who played Superman.  However, Jeff East, who played a young Clark Kent is alive and well.

I have not seen much of Thaxter's work, but, oddly, last night I began watching Women's Prison with Ida Lupino and Audrey Totter, and the film's major character is played by none other than Phyllis Thaxter.  And she's really very good in what I'd seen so far.

Thaxter's portrayal of Martha Kent contained a stunning and instantly motherly quality that surpassed surprise at the strange manner in which she finds the boy, and his odd abilities, and cut straight to the need to love a little lost child when reason may have told her to do otherwise.  In the few lines and scenes she had in the movie, she and Richard Donner presented Martha Kent as a very real mother experiencing both the blessing and pain that comes with bringing a child into your life and then realizing you have to let him go.

Honestly, the wheat-field scene between East and Thaxter in the film was when I realized (way, way back in high school) what an extraordinary film Superman truly is.

Here, however, is that scene of discovery in a Kansas field.



Sunday, August 12, 2012

Joe Kubert Merges with The Infinite



Comics legend Joe Kubert has reportedly passed.

I point you to the obit run at The Onion AV club, as it's a pretty damned good summary of Kubert's bio and will hopefully explain to those of you who don't follow comics who the man was and how he stood in the pantheon of comics heroes.

Kubert was at DC Comics for most of his career, first arriving in 1943 and holding positions as a writer, editor and artist, depending on where the winds blew.  Today's fans like myself are mostly familiar with his co-creations like Sgt. Rock, or his own creation, Tor and the stunning artistry he brought to the page.  Where Kirby was volcanic energy in need of an outlet, Kubert was an illustrative master capturing the world-weary faces of Easy Company, battle-worn soldiers of Earth and beyond, but a master of perspective and detail.

...and I like his Iris West.