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

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Tim Sale Merges With The Infinite




Comics artist and illustrator Tim Sale has passed.  




Sale's work was singular, unmistakable, and reminded an industry what could be done with a certain minimalism if you knew how to capture the essence of character in gesture, expression and motion in a line.  He volleyed between Marvel and DC for a good bit, but I believe I remember learning of his work through Haunted Knight and then the superlative Long Halloween.  

His work at Marvel provided a depth to characters with whom we're all familiar on multiple series, such as Daredevil: Yellow and Spider-Man: Blue.  

As a Superman reader, it's hard not to point to the defining work of A Superman For All Seasons, a new chapter to the life of a young Man of Steel finding his place in the world.  It's a beautiful comic with a deeply sympathetic take on Superman that you simply wanted to comfort as he sought his place in the world.











Friday, June 10, 2022

Julee Cruise Merges With The Infinite




Vocalist and musician Julee Cruise has passed.  

Cruise is well known to fans of Twin Peaks, and is one of the signature sounds of the aural landscape of the show.  She released solo work as well as standing in for Cindy with the B-52's during tours.

She was s unique and rich talent, and she'll be missed.


Thursday, May 26, 2022

Ray Liotta Merges With the Infinite


Ray Liotta, actor, has passed.  He'll be remembered most for his outstanding performance in Goodfellas and his iconic performance in Field of Dreams, but he was terrific in literally everything I saw him in.  


Friday, April 29, 2022

Comics Great Neal Adams Merges With The Infinite

Meeting Adams in November, 2013 



I am shocked and saddened to hear that Neal Adams passed on Thursday.


Adams' work looms large for all comics fans, and for us Superman and Batman fans, it's seminal work.  Of course he's covered all sorts of other things.  Jamie has an Adams' Wonder Woman print on her office wall.  But to me he's the guy who brought Muhammad Ali to the DCU and advocated for Siegel and Shuster to be recognized financially and as creators when Superman: The Movie was in production.  



He brought an illustrative realism and humanity to his characters that pushed all of comics to a new level when he arrived, and he never quit pushing boundaries as an active creator right up to his passing.  

Do yourself a favor and look for some Neal Adams comics.  






Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Gilbert Gottfried Merges With the Infinite




Comedian and actor Gilbert Gottfried has passed.   And I'm going to miss him.

Gottfried was someone it seems literally everyone knew, and he was a YMMV kind of personality, drifting between doing stuff for kids to telling deeply dark jokes at Friar's Club Roasts.  And, yeah, he was the voice of both the AFLAC Duck (until he went dark and got fired), and Iago from Aladdin, but he was also the voice of Mr. Mxyzptlk on Superman: The Animated Series, and is now what I hear in my head when I see the character in new or old comics.




But, really, I think of Gottfried as part of the two-headed hosting beast of USA's Up All Night schlock movie program.  One night would be the lovely and hilarious Rhonda Shear, and the next you'd get Gottfried hosting you through A Polish Vampire in Burbank, Cannibal Women of the Avocado Jungle, etc...   He would wander the streets, amusement parks, bars, whatever... and be there with you in the wee hours as you made it to the end of H.O.T.S. or whatever.  He was truly a pal (and I also kind of wanted his job).

I do love how he knew what he was, embraced it, and was always the funniest @#$%ing dude in whatever he was in.  Truly, never afraid to go there.



Thursday, March 24, 2022

Madeleine Albright Merges With The Infinite


 
Madeleine Albright, a woman of legendary accomplishment, has passed.

Albright was the first female Secretary of State, and had the intelligence, personality and skill one would expect of a trailblazer at such high levels.  Her deftness in diplomacy was what you want out of a Secretary of State, and we saw her charm and conversational skills up front in an era where talk shows welcomed Secretaries of State and the population (a) could name who that person was before they took the stage, and (b) could watch them speak without shouting slurs at someone from a party to which they did not belong.  

But as a refugee first from Nazis and then the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, as someone who went for it in an era where expectations were she stay home and live a quiet, domestic life, Albright's pivot to law and public policy after becoming a wife and mother was notable, before she began her climb.  

Her tenure was perhaps one of few bright spots of the second half of the Clinton administration, though not unmarred by the challenges of the role and the expected disagreements in a political context, both from the right and left.  No one plays at that level and escapes unscathed.  

It was an amazing life and career, and I hope folks appreciate and understand what paths she created in the US and what she did for the nation as ambassador and Secretary of State.


Sunday, March 13, 2022

William Hurt Merges With The Infinite




Damn.  

William Hurt, one of my favorite actors, has passed.  

I don't have much to say on it.  I'm surprised and saddened.  We all knew he could turn in the best performances even when he signed up for some genre stuff that didn't deserve what he'd bring to the characters he'd inhabit.  And given a chance to get into something good - ex: The Big Chill or Smoke- he was astounding.



Thursday, March 10, 2022

Emilio Delgado Merges With the Infinite



Sesame Workshop has announced the passing of Emilio Delgado, who we all know as Luis, one of the friendly faces in the neighborhood of Sesame Street.  

Luis was there to show us adults could be kind, curious, considerate and that there were many different kinds of people who were in our communities.  My memory was that I thought Luis was "the funny one" of the human cast members.  I have read a passage or two about what it meant to have a Latino male featured on television to some of my friends.  I believe it.  Delgado had one of the few roles on TV in the 1970's for a Latino male defined as a regular, stand-up guy, and not - as was so often the case in network TV then and now - as a negative stereotype.  

I'll be honest - I think the goals of Sesame Street worked.  To this day, I think of all of the human cast members of Sesame Street as folks I want to run into at the super market.  TV is a powerful tool, and the notion of representation is important for everyone, especially for folks who don't see people who look like themselves on television, but it can also be good for other kids to see those positive  representations to combat the negative portrayals which are a sad default of mass media.

Here's to an actor who brought a welcome face to the screen for generations of kids, who did it with humor and joy.  I'm very sad to hear that Delgado has passed.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Ivan Reitman Merges With The Infinite



Maybe one of the most quietly influential directors and producers of the last fifty years, Ivan Reitman created an incredible number of movies adored across generations.  

I'm totally shocked, and I know everyone who hears about this will also be stunned and saddened.  


Sunday, January 30, 2022

Howard Hesseman Merges With the Infinite


Actor Howard Hesseman has passed.

If you've never seen WKRP in Cincinnati or it's been a long time,  I would encourage you to go back and check it out for a number of reasons.  I think Dr. Johnny Fever is kind of remembered as a kind-of-out-of-it drive-time DJ on the show, but returning to it - yes, he's that.  But Hesseman brought a level to the character that I think you were likely to miss when you were a kid, seeing everything as cartoons.  Johnny Fever is a guy with a lot of disappointments who has seen a lot, and winding up a DJ at a low-rated radio station in the midwest is all just part of the journey.  But under that, Hesseman brought intelligence and heart to the character - same as he would every time he showed up on screen after.

And that's what I associate most with Hesseman, was really the extra layer he always seemed to have in mind when bringing a character to life - that no character would just be a single thing, and they'd have depths that were there once you got past introductions.



Saturday, January 22, 2022

Meat Loaf Merges With the Infinite



I don't remember not knowing who Meat Loaf was, which makes sense as I was 2 years old when Bat Out of Hell was released.  And, of course, I appreciated his performance in Rocky Horror, and reteaming with Jim Steinman for Bat Out of Hell II.  

But I still remember one Christmas when I was in college my brother and I slipping out after the folks and company went to bed and we headed for a bar that had been there forever, with a jukebox that hadn't seen much rotation since it had been put in place.  It was a shitty little bar with a clear brand of clientele which we didn't really match, most of whom seemed to be regulars and knew each other, and just as our beers hit the table, the jukebox started with Bat Out of Hell and someone had put in money to play the entire album in order.  

I don't know why, but that night I became totally sold on that album.

Whatever world Jim Steinman wrote songs for (Steinman passed in April) and Meat Loaf sings about is a world that resonates like hell with me.  And, apparently, the be-mulleted denizens of Molly Maguire's Irish Pub in Spring, Texas circa Christmas 1995.  But, yeah, it's a musical theater version of rock and roll, where the already heightened melodrama of romance, heartbreak and all the usual faire of radio rock is raised to rock opera levels.  And at the center, Meat Loaf's sincerity anchors what sh/could be absurd, putting a broken hero at the middle of it.

Here's to you and one of the best selling albums of all-time, sir.  The record seems like an unlikely candidate to grab that mantle, and I'm so glad it has.

Mr. Loaf also acted.  A LOT.  His occasional health issues and personal demons may have kept him from some choices and maybe off the live stage, but he leaves behind not just his music but plentiful roles and screentime.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Louie Anderson Merges With the Infinite


Comedian and actor Louie Anderson has passed.

Anderson's career was weird and varied, and I'm still mad I didn't choose to go see him when I was in Las Vegas and he was performing.  Anderson's comedy was generally very warm-hearted, and I enjoyed him when I did see his stand-up, but for the past few years I associated him much more with his TV work, especially on FX's Baskets, one of the most criminally underwatched shows of the past decade.  

Almost as soon as Anderson broke big (right around the release of Coming to America, in which he had a supporting part), he was very candid in interviews about his less-than-ideal childhood, and turned a less trauma-inducing version of that into his cartoon, Life With Louie.  

I'll miss knowing Louie Anderson is out there.  For all the comedians out there supposedly wrestling with darkness, Anderson clearly could be included, but it didn't seem to make him cover himself in armor and project cruelty through his routines or performances.  

In the end, he won an Emmy for creating Christine Baskets, one of the most sympathetic characters to cross my TV screen.  What was ostensibly a show about a man-child in crisis became a show about the evolution of an aging mother - it was like he was able to channel everything that came before directly into that role.

We'll miss you, Louie.  You were the best.



Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Ronnie Spector Merges With The Infinite


 
Singer Ronnie Spector, most famous for her work with the Ronettes, has passed.

Just two weeks ago I was checking to make sure I still had my signed copy of her CD.  



I went through my obligatory Phil Spector phase in college, and came out a bonafide Ronettes fan.  They don't have that many tracks, but what they did put out was all gold, and you hear their stuff all the time, especially at Christmas.


Jamie and I saw Ronnie back in 2017 at the Paramount - where we happened to run into SimonUK.  It was an amazing show, and I'm so glad we could do it.



We'll miss you, Ronnie.


Friday, January 7, 2022

Monday, December 27, 2021

Archbishop Desmond Tutu Merges With The Infinite


 
We talk a lot about movies and cultural artifacts around here, but the world has genuine heroes.  Archbishop Desmond Tutu has passed.  

The Archbishop's efforts in the anti-Apartheid movement in South Africa and his role as ambassador to the world were instrumental in the disintegration of the old government in his homeland.  And then he kept working.

We will see his like again, and it's important to know these lights when we see them. What a gift he was to the world.  

From the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa:

A man of extraordinary intellect, integrity and invincibility against the forces of apartheid, he was also tender and vulnerable in his compassion for those who had suffered oppression, injustice and violence under apartheid, and oppressed and downtrodden people around the world
If you subscribe to the NYT, this is worth a read.   https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/26/world/africa/tutu-death.html




Sunday, December 5, 2021

Bob Dole Merges With The Infinite


Senator Bob Dole has passed.

Dole was the GOP candidate in the first presidential election in which I could cast a vote, and so I spent no small amount of energy reading up on Dole, watching debates, etc... in an era where - personally - I was still understanding how my values, beliefs and personal predilections stacked up against the platform and policy of a candidate.  And, Bob Dole and I might have not agreed on some things, but I came to understand him as a dedicated public servant, a brave veteran and a survivor of wounds that might have stopped others.  Instead, he'd persevered and and pursued a remarkable career.

After the election, he was still as powerful a voice in public discourse as he'd been which led to his nomination.  And I always understood why he held the stances he did (except for the pro-cigarettes thing, which... two years later, I don't think he would have leaned into that one).   

Someone who was a tremendous force in American government and the direction of the country has passed, and he'll be assessed and written about for years to come, certainly.  Hindsight is 20/20. But take note as a person who actually did things and wanted the country to be better, has passed.


Sunday, August 29, 2021

Ed Asner Merges With The Infinite




Actor and icon Ed Asner has passed at the age of 91.

Asner was a fixture of television - I remember him on reruns of The Mary Tyler Moore Show when I was a kid, just like everyone else.  But he was massively prolific.  In no way do I identify Asner with a specific role or era.  He simply was a fact of entertainment.  

The most surprising role I saw him take was as the voice of Granny Goodness on Superman: The Animated Series.  I still remember watching the cartoon when Jamie was in the hospital and her mom was reading a magazine, and she looked up at the TV and said "is that a guy voicing that woman?" and I said "that's Ed Asner" and she put down her magazine and took in some Fourth World mayhem.

He had some kind of relationship with comics and sci-fi, because he also voiced Daggett on Batman: The Animated Series, as well as voices on Spider-Man, Freakazoid and certainly Disney's Gargoyles.  The last thing I saw him in was in Season 2 of Doom Patrol.  

But the man played everything, up to and including Santa Claus in holiday staple Elf.  Just one of those actors that when he showed up, we'd be pointing at the TV and saying "is that Ed Asner!?"  Always good, always spot on in whatever he did, and seemed like a delight of a man.

I'm very sorry to see him go.

Monday, July 5, 2021

Richard Donner Merges With the Infinite

 

Director Richard Donner has passed at the age of 91.

Donner has directed and produced a tremendous number of films that impacted my generation, from The Omen to Lethal Weapon to Scrooged to Goonies to, of course, Superman: The Movie.  

Of course, closest to our hearts here is and will be Superman: The Movie, one of my first movie memories, and - curiously - the movie that has perhaps had the most impact on my life of any film.  And I can name a handful of people who can say the same.  While film is a massively collaborative medium, and here at the Signal Watch we only pay attention to auteur theory in certain cases, it was Donner who shepherded that movie and vision of Superman as a friend, a pal, a genuinely good person here to assist us, to the big screen - and in the period of cinema that was perhaps more genuinely and honestly cynical than the market-driven edginess of today.  The Salkinds bank-rolled the thing and Reeve and Kidder were themselves, but Donner's the guy who brought it together and put it on the screen.


Wardrobe may become outdated, a few cultural touchstones no longer work, but I can tell you... I've sat in more than a half-dozen theaters as an adult watching Superman unspool before always very mixed audiences (the matinees are always best attended and most fun), and this film still works, full stop.  People laugh, they cheer, they ooh and aah at this movie.  And they absolutely, totally buy into the idea of Superman, himself.  

Donner gets left out of the USC-explosion conversation and the new wave of Hollywood blockbusters.  He's older than Spielberg and Lucas, maybe didn't get the press and adulation they did, but he kept a hand in film and television straight through today, moving on from direction when so many of his contemporaries faded.  He hadn't directed in some time, working as a producer, but he had a head for story and character and how they intermingled that's undeniable, and necessary to make a film that has a chance of working.  I mean - go look at what Donner did with Scrooged some time.  That's a remarkable movie and lives on in the cinema landscape in a way dozens of other 80's comedies and endless Christmas Carol adaptations haven't managed to accomplish.  

And, of course, he was great in interviews - a sort of chummy, baritone-voiced fellow who made it sound like work he was delighted to do.  Maybe not delving into a lot of discussion of art and artistry, but what would make a film actually work.  

I will surely miss knowing he's out there, but he left a terrific legacy.  Here's to one of the greats.  Godspeed.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Ned Beatty Merges With The Infinite




Actor Ned Beatty has passed at the age of 83.

Beatty looked for all the world like she *should* have been a character actor.  But, instead he played a wild array of characters.  I mean, you've seen Network.  

If you've never seen the 1990 version of Captain America (yes, it's a feature length "movie" of sorts), Beatty is the one competent actor in the whole thing and you wonder what he thought of the final product, if he bothered to ever watch it.  

But as Otis in Superman: The Movie, he's provided me with no shortage of laughs.  It's a perfectly studied comedic part, and he's hilarious whether you're 3 or 43.  

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Goodbye to Scout

 


Today, very, very suddenly, we lost Scout, our dog of about 11 years.

I am definitely still processing what happened, and I expect the waves of ugly crying will keep hitting me, but in some ways, right now, anyway, I'm taking enormous comfort in that she suffered so little.

Just last night, she was doing exactly her usual routine.  She hung around while we were working in the kitchen and whenever we looked her way, she came in for a hug and then was looking for treats.  The night before she was playing with me in the yard while I grilled dinner, doing her favorite thing - which is picking up a leaf and throwing it in the air so we would cheer for her.  

This morning, she suddenly seemed not to be doing well after 9:45 or 10:00, and Jamie asked me to come down from my office and see.  I've learned not to rush dogs to the vet for every cough or twitch, but after watching her for a bit, I joined Jamie in her concern - but believed the issue was pain related to her legs or hips.  We had dropped her off at the vet by 10:50, and couldn't go in due to COVID restrictions.  Shortly, they told us that Scout had several tumors on her spleen, and one had burst - leading to the pain and discomfort.  At about 1:40, we spoke with the vet.  She would require major surgery, which might not go well.  And she was suffering kidney failure.  

We've done the "heroic efforts" route before, but I now believe the best thing - and hardest thing to do emotionally - is to not let your pet spend their final days, weeks, months or years in bewilderment and discomfort.  Had a few details been different today, we would have approved the surgery, we would be worrying about Scout recuperating at home.  But the cascade of what was coming meant a life in which I knew Scout would need surgeries and other treatments, and we'd likely lose her at any point over the next months, during which she would be unhappy. 

I knew she'd gone for a long walk yesterday, seen friends (socially distanced) over the weekend that she hadn't seen in a year, had seen our families in recent weeks... and we'd had so many adventures this year (I slept downstairs with her during the freeze), we wanted her final days to be her good days.  Her last mealtimes included grilled chicken, hamburger, and whatever else were eating.  She was living a good dog life.  It was the life we wanted for her every day, not just when she was ill or we were worried about her.

It's hard to explain - because all dogs are motivated by love and food, but Scout's entire personality was built around love.  She just wanted to be nearby, and available for hugs and not to cause a fuss.  She hardly ever barked, and mostly regarded people with cautious curiosity, and eventually deciding "okay, we're friends".  She flatly did not understand negative reinforcement - and I kicked myself every time I would get snippy at her for doing something that she shouldn't, because now there were bruised feelings and much apologizing that had to occur before she felt safe and secure again.  

The thing she absolutely understood and gave was love and kindness.

Scout and me among the firewheels


Maybe ten or more times a day as I puttered around the house, she'd slide up to me and walk between my legs so I'd lean down and give her pets for a while.  Sure, we went on lots and lots of walks, and she knew the neighborhood well, and would tell you which path she wanted to go on.  

But she never figured out "fetch".  In fact, some wire got crossed when Jamie tried to teach her how to play with Lucy, who was a retriever and never needed a lesson.  Scout wasn't interested in chasing a ball so much as picking one up and tossing it around, or pointing out "yes, here is the ball, I have found it".   Eventually, one of us saying "ball" became the only time she would bark.  Happily and enthusiastically, because we cheered her for it.  And she forgot the word was ever tied to her toy.*

We adopted Scout in the year after we lost Melbotis.  Lucy needed a pal, I generally believe in a two-dog house, and so we went to the ASPCA and walked around for maybe ten minutes when I saw her sitting at the end of her kennel.  I squatted down, and she popped up and came over to say hi.  Cautious optimism in all things with this dog.  In a room full of dogs banging off their cage doors, she was extremely gentle and sweet, and I figured: this dog will be good for Jamie. 

But, really, she was good for me.  Mel was brilliant by dog standards, and Lucy was full of personality and demanded attention.  Scout just needed love.  And treats.  And to play.  She learned our routines and insisted upon them - up to and including 10:00 PM walks in the summer, once the sun was down.  Which kept me moving.  But it's hard to say all the ways in which living with something that doesn't understand anger or raised voices makes you better, yourself. 

When we lost Lucy about three years ago, we figured Scout would be lost without her.  Lucy was the big sister and Scout followed her around.  But we quickly found out Scout was okay - she just turned up the attention she'd always given us, and seemed pleased not to have to compete, kind of coming into her own.  And, not knowing how long we had with her, that was okay.

I'll miss her gentle, polite spirit and earnest expressions.  I'm going to miss her delight at seeing me, and running right into my shins whenever I opened the door as she sought pets.  And how happy she would be when she'd slide between the coffee table and the love seat to get pets from Jamie while I rubbed her ears and face from the sofa.  I'll miss her prancing in the yard when we'd go out to spend time with her, or playing tag with her.  And, of course, the long neighborhood walks when she'd insist on one direction or another.  And in the last year when her hearing started to go, burying my face in the fur at her shoulders and telling her she's a good dog, making sure she could hear.  

It's not easy.  It never is.  I can't tell you how much I'll miss her.  

*our first dog, Melbotis, however, thought "toy" meant anything he particularly liked, including Jamie, as it turned out when one day I said "go get a toy" and he wandered over to Jamie.