Friday, October 11, 2019
Wednesday, July 24, 2019
I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate.
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain.
Time to die.
This one hit us all hard and never let up.
Monday, July 22, 2019
If you ever get a chance, read up on the amazing history of NASA. It's fascinating today to see some of the unknown stories of the agency's history come to the fore in recent years, bringing to the fore luminaries like Margaret Hamilton and Katherine Johnson. One name we did grow up with was Christopher Kraft.
Truly, no one was more "there at the beginning" than Kraft, who had been a NACA employee before the creation of NASA, and who helped build and shape NASA from the inside up.
Kraft served as Flight Director at NASA during Mercury and Gemini and as a manager of flight operations during Apollo. Kraft's attention to detail and leadership were key to keeping all the moving parts together before, during and after each mission, keeping people alive as they hurled through space in experimental machines strapped to ballistic missiles.
He would go on to run the Manned Spacecraft Center into the early 80's, when he retired from NASA. In the 1990's, he participated in a review of the shuttle program and published an autobiography in 2001.
Mr. Kraft passed this week at the age of 95, having pushed humanity higher, further and farther than anyone ever dreamed. He deserves to be remembered alongside the astronauts and heroes who, themselves, went into space and those new legends of engineering, math and science. The role he took on wasn't the one with the personal glory (although his name did become quite well known), but without the Christopher Krafts out there, you don't get the Apollo missions, either.
A statement from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Kraft's passing.
Friday, July 12, 2019
2019 was the year I finally started watching Brooklyn 99, and like everyone else who watched the show, I became a big fan of Cheddar, the pet Corgi of Captain Raymond Holt and the lynchpin of more than one episode.
Sadly, a pup doesn't live forever, and Cheddar performer, Stewart, has merged with the Infinite.
Pouring one out for you, buddy.
Thursday, May 2, 2019
|Peter Mayhew during filming of Star Wars|
Peter Mayhew, actor who brought Chewbacca to life, has passed.
I was just over two years old when I saw Star Wars in the theater, and - like everyone - I loved Chewbacca. How could you not? A giant with a heart of gold, a loyal best pal, a co-pilot and a strong right hand - Chewie was the ideal buddy in a galaxy where you needed someone you could trust at your side, watching your back.
The scene I probably remember best from Star Wars as a kid was realizing how *tall* Chewbacca was when he was in shackles beside Han and Luke in the Death Star, and realizing the man inside that yak-hair suit was pretty much that tall, too. I recall being about seven and measuring out how tall he would be with a ruler against my friend's bedroom wall while we stood on chairs (I have no idea how or where we got the figure for Chewbacca's height).
The other scene I recalled was Chewbacca and pretty much everything about the trash compactor. Even as a wee kid, I found that bit terrific. Ford and Mayhew had their schtick down pat.
In 2000 I saw Peter Mayhew for the first time in person - he was signing autographs in a longline at a Disney theme park where Jamie and I were honeymooning. I didn't stand in line then, and I regretted it later. Flash forward to about four years ago, and the same happened at a comic convention in San Antonio - and as I walked out, regretted I hadn't jumped in line.
That I didn't wait is odd, in retrospect - when The Force Awakens was announced, I was possibly more excited to see Chewbacca and R2 back on the screen than General Leia or Han Solo - they would be the aged versions of themselves, but Chewie could be ageless, walking through these movies, one after another, no silver showing up in that fur.
But, of course, the man who brought Chewbacca to life was now not a kid himself, and I was aware his large frame had aged hard - I'd seen him in a wheelchair, and gravity is a bear for us over-six-foot-humans. I was not surprised when I heard he had a stand-in for all the walking scenes and was mostly the one playing the seated bits. But I still figured Peter Mayhew would be online, a pleasantly upbeat and chirpy presence - that he'd put on a tux jacket for a premier somewhere in LA. and maybe I'd see him at some other con and get his signature this time.
I'm genuinely sorry he's gone, but I am grateful that he spent the last few decades as a genuine celebrity, knowing his face and name meant (almost) as much to Star Wars fans as the fellow he brought to life, and that he got to be a part of it all over again in both the Prequels and the latest trilogy.
My understanding is that Peter Mayhew was an orderly in a hospital before being cast as Chewbacca in Star Wars. It's funny how a single casting call and some luck can change everything.
Tuesday, March 5, 2019
So, Luke Perry has passed and the internet is ablaze with remembrances. And on the face of it, it seems odd so much ink is getting spilled over a guy who had his peak of popularity in about 1993, never really landed any major roles in zeitgeisty Hollywood movies and has been a workman actor in mid-tier TV shows for most of the past twenty years.
I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the state of shock you're seeing has less to do with a tremendous and still-massive Luke Perry fanbase as it has with two things:
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Tuesday, December 18, 2018
According to numerous press sources, director and actor Penny Marshall has passed.
Like everyone else my age, I grew up with Laverne & Shirley, where Marshall played a working class girl cohabitating with her best pal, Shirley, as they had weekly misadventures for years on network TV.
She disappeared briefly, only to re-emerge as a director of a number of movies I saw and liked in formative years, including Jumping Jack Flash and Big. Honestly, I've thought of her more as Director Penny Marshall for decades at this point, and it's a remarkable two-part career she was able to pull off.
Friday, November 30, 2018
Former President George Herbert Walker Bush, our 41st President, has passed at the age of 94.
From the New York Times.
I genuinely always liked Mr. Bush as Vice President and then as President. When I think of the age in which you may not agree with policies and procedures of a politician, but respected the integrity of the person, I often think of G.H.W. Bush.
Monday, November 12, 2018
I am, like everyone, mourning the loss of Stan Lee who passed at age 95.
But. What a world we live in where everyone is mourning a comic book writer/ editor/ huckster! What an amazing guy we had with us for almost a full century!
Sunday, November 11, 2018
Format: Noir Alley on TCM on DVR
I admit - I started watching this movie a while back shortly after it aired on TCM and then got busy and forgot to finish watching it, until now. And I'm very glad I did.
Thursday, September 27, 2018
Comics artist Norm Breyfogle has passed. Reported here by The Washington Post.
When I got into comics, like any 10 or eleven year-old, I didn't really know how they worked. I had no guidance, and no one was around to explain them to me. We had spinner racks at the grocery, shelves at drugs stores and 7-11, and however B. Dalton and Waldenbooks wrangled their comics that week.
Pretty quickly I went from just grabbing random comics to gravitating to Uncanny X-Men and Batman comics, especially once I figured out that I could get two Batman comics every month with Batman and the oddly named Detective Comics.
It was a hell of a time to get into comics. What was okay to do in art was changing fast.
Sunday, September 16, 2018
In honor of Burt Reynolds, who passed September 6, 2018, SimonUK and Ryan watch "Hooper", a 1978 Hal Needham directed action comedy about the life of a Hollywood stuntman. And Ryan learns... Simon knows *a lot* about Burt Reynolds.
Get your audio episodes at:
Thursday, September 6, 2018
By now all the world knows that Burt Reynolds has passed beyond this veil of tears.
Here's to you, sir. I have spent more of my adult life re-watching Smokey and the Bandit than I really should mention, and once captivated/ hijacked a social event at a libraries conference by laying out the tale of that movie to a table full of people who admitted they'd never seen it (and detailed why it's important film making).
All of us down on Earth always wished we could be as cool as you, and now you'll just have to enjoy the envy of every single person in the afterlife.
We'll miss you, Burt.
Thursday, August 16, 2018
According to reports, Aretha Franklin, beloved Queen of Soul and American icon, has passed.
For more than 48 hours, news had circulated that she'd entered the hospital and was with loved ones, and thus I spent last night listening to a lengthy playlist of Franklin's "hits". I hope that was a good way to keep her in our thoughts.
I can think of few other performers as universally beloved as Aretha Franklin. Clearly she's one of the last performers multiple generations will have agreed upon and understood as emblematic of Soul, R&B and what the voice can bring and how it can have personality and tell a story. Even when covering an already popular song, Franklin made it her own.
Sunday, July 8, 2018
Comics creator Steve Ditko passed this weekend at the age of 90. As you may know, Ditko co-created Spider-Man and was responsible for the art chores and certainly deserves co-writing credits with Lee on the early years of the wall-crawler's adventures. He was behind some of my favorite Spidey villains like Sandman, The Lizard, Electro, Doctor Octopus, and - of course - Green Goblin. Not bad.
Monday, June 25, 2018
Thursday, June 21, 2018
We are sad to report that Koko the Gorilla has passed.
I first learned about Koko the Gorilla back in Elementary School. For some reason, my class read an article on Koko, the gorilla who was learning sign-language. She'd been raised by Penny Patterson, who taught her sign-language, and she'd develop a 1000 word vocabulary.
Monday, May 14, 2018
Multiple news sources are reporting the passing of actor Margot Kidder.
Kidder was, to my generation, Lois Lane.
Arguably, Kidder's portrayal was the one that reset Lois as the Rosalind Russell-model news woman that she'd been in the Golden Age and that we simply expect in portrayals of Lois today.
Wednesday, April 18, 2018
Former First Lady Barbara Bush has passed at the age of 92.
Mrs. Bush was the wife of President George H.W. Bush, the 41st President, Vice-President under Ronald Reagan and former CIA Director.
She was also the mother of George W. Bush, the 43rd President and grandmother to Jenna and Barbara Bush.
My politics don't always run in line with the Bush clan, but I liked Mrs. Bush. You knew where she stood, you knew she had a sense of humor of sorts but didn't suffer fools. She seemed to know her own mind and while she was a presence in the White House, she didn't rub me the wrong way that Nancy Reagan always did.
And when Jenna was getting trashed at parties during her tenure at UT Austin and she and Barbara got busted for fake ID's at Chuy's... Mrs. Bush summoned those two miscreants, had a talk with them and got them permanently straightened out.
Mrs. Bush used her platform as First Lady to support literacy programs and for civil rights, and in her later years didn't hold her tongue when it came to the national scene. In retirement the Bush's called Houston home and could be seen at the Symphony, Astros games and around town. She was reportedly gracious and kind.
I heard she once slipped her security detail and made her way to the George HW Bush Library in College Station where the couple have an apartment built right into the library (man, no I don't know why. There's a nice few hotels in that town.). What Mrs. Bush didn't know was that she needed to tell someone she was there, and she didn't, so she got locked in the library over night and surprised the heck out of everyone the next morning when they opened up.
I really hope that story is true.
We'll miss you Mrs. Bush. You were good people. Even if your one very public feud was with Marge Simpson.
I hope Millie is waiting for you.