Obit watch: January 30, 2015.

January 30th, 2015

Colleen McCullough, author (“The Thorn Birds”). A/V Club.

Rod McKuen, poet. A/V Club.

TMQ Watch: January 27, 2015.

January 29th, 2015

So. It has come to this.

(Actually, we just like saying “So. It has come to this.” We’re also fond of “As foretold in the prophecy” and “so let it be written, so let it be done”.)

This week’s TMQ, after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »

There once was a man from Nantucket.

January 27th, 2015

The storm may not have lived up to its billing in New York City, but it more than delivered in New England. It cut off Nantucket, where almost all 12,000 year-round residents lost power and telephone service, and it flooded the Atlantic coastal town of Scituate, where a car floated downtown.

My phone tells me it is currently 81 degrees here. I may have to turn on the AC when I get home.

Obit watch: January 26, 2015.

January 26th, 2015

Alice K. Turner, fiction editor of Playboy.

I know the joke: “I just read it for the articles”. But as fiction editor, Ms. Turner was hugely influential:

Ms. Turner helped keep literary short fiction on life support in the late 20th century, when few other publishers would or could. And writers like Terry Bisson, Ursula K. Le Guin, Joyce Carol Oates, Bob Shacochis, Robert Silverberg, Dan Simmons, John Updike and David Foster Wallace were not shy about having their words abut illustrations of naked women.

I was tied up most of the weekend, so for the record:

Joe Franklin
.

Edgar Froese, founding member of Tangerine Dream. How about a little musical interlude?

And Ernie Banks. Related.

You know, I have a good feeling about the Cubs this year. I think they’re going to do the memory of Mr. Banks proud. As a matter of fact, I think there’s a good chance they will win the World Series this year.

Yo, dawg.

January 23rd, 2015

The bankruptcy of SkyMall and their parent company, Xhibit, has been well covered in many places.

But I wanted to link, again, to this Priceonomics article from 2013 about SkyMall, Xhibit, and their questionable dealings, just in case folks forgot about it.

Skymall is by all accounts a reasonably successful company with $130 million in annual revenue, a differentiated offering, a well known brand, and at least some happy customers. Xhibit on the other hand, appears to be a company with dubious sources of revenue, a very thin competitive advantage, and more hype than substance.

God and man don’t believe in modern farmer.

January 23rd, 2015

A while back, I briefly touched on the “Modern Farmer” situation. Briefly, “Modern Farmer” was a promising and National Magazine Award winning magazine:

From its start in an airy office above a Swedish cosmetics store in Hudson, N.Y., the magazine was both admired and skewered. Intended as a media and lifestyle brand for what Ms. Gardner, a former Manhattan magazine editor, liked to refer to as people who want a little more back story to their food, its initial Spring 2013 edition had a stylish rooster on the cover, an alarming feature on the problems of wild pigs and a column called Ask an Ag Minister.

I never actually read it – I’m not sure I ever saw a copy for sale, and it sounded a little pretentious – but I was interested in what was happening with the magazine, especially after the editor resigned.

Well, the other goat has fainted:

Modern Farmer, the 100,000-circulation quarterly and website that tried to link effete urban farmers’ market culture with the practicalities of actual farming, became a magazine without an editorial staff on Friday, when its remaining paid editors walked out its doors. The future of what remains of the Modern Farmer brand is uncertain.

More:

By Friday, when the remaining two paid editorial staff members departed, the sales manager had already left after having told advertisers like Dodge and the Detroit watchmaker Shinola that they weren’t going to publish a spring issue. Reached at her home in Hudson, Ms. Gardner said she could not speak about the matter and feared legal action. She remained unsure about her next move in the media world.

I’d actually never heard of Shinola, the watchmaker. I guess this goes to show how effective advertising in “Modern Farmer” was.

(Hattip: Jimbo.)

But the police are the only ones who can be trusted with guns!

January 22nd, 2015

Two Austin police officers were suspended after they fired their guns accidentally last month, according to disciplinary memos made public Wednesday.

Both officers were suspended for “accidentally” discharging their “patrol shotguns”. One was suspended for three days, and the other officer was suspended for one. (The reason for the difference is not clear. Based on the Statesman‘s reporting, it doesn’t seem that there were any injuries.)

Not gun related, but another officer is being suspended for 16 days. Apparently, he violated guidelines in his handling of a sexual assault case involving a child, and became “involved in a civil matter in violation of the department’s policy”. (These were unrelated offenses, just to be clear.)

Obit watch: January 22, 2015.

January 22nd, 2015

John Bayley, literary critic and husband of Iris Murdoch. Bayley wrote Elegy for Iris about his life with Murdoch and her decline from Alzheimer’s disease.

Alan J. Hirschfield, former president of Columbia Pictures.

Hirschfield was the studio president during the David Begelman affair, and is one of the central figures in David McClintick’s excellent book Indecent Exposure.

…and the gambling commission’s hanging on by the skin of its teeth.

January 22nd, 2015

Gov. Chris Christie announced today that he’s signed an executive order for a controversial state takeover of financially strapped Atlantic City, installing an emergency management team to help dig the gambling resort out of “an enormous hole.”

(Subject line hattip, if you needed it.)

(The Chicken Man, in case you ever wondered about that lyric.)

Bad politician! No biscuit!

January 22nd, 2015

Heh. Heh. Heh. Part I:

The powerful speaker of the New York State Assembly, Sheldon Silver, was arrested on federal corruption charges on Thursday, sending shock waves through the political establishment and upending the new legislative session.

Mr. Silver’s party affiliation is given early in the second paragraph. This bit of trivia is in the fifth paragraph:

The investigation of Mr. Silver began after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in March abruptly shut down an anticorruption commission he had created in 2013.

Mike the Musicologist tipped me off to this story a while back, but I’ve been kind of waiting until something happened with it. Something did. Sort of.

State Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane could face charges of perjury, obstruction, and other crimes in connection with the leak of confidential information to a Philadelphia newspaper in an apparent bid to embarrass her political enemies, according to court documents unsealed Wednesday.

The grand jury has also recommended charges of “false swearing” and “official oppression”. Ms. Kane’s party affiliation shows up in the fourth paragraph. And the newspaper in question is the Daily News (paragraph seven).

The problem here is that the grand jury recommendation is only advisory: the decision on actually filing charges is up to the local district attorney (“Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Vetri Ferman”), and I’m not sure what the odds are on that actually happening.

I’m going to drop this in here, even though it doesn’t fit with the “bad politician” theme, because I don’t have a better place to put it. You may be asking yourself, especially in the light of past coverage on this blog, “What does it take to get yourself fired as a cop in Philadelphia?”

Well, we have an answer to that question:

A former Philadelphia police detective will face criminal charges in connection with allegedly driving his girlfriend – a murder suspect – to Upstate New York, then hindering the homicide investigation by lying to detectives who were looking for her, The Inquirer has learned.

TMQ Watch: January 20, 2015.

January 21st, 2015

We’re grumpy. Apparently, this is a day ending in “Y”. Let’s just jump right into this week’s TMQ

Read the rest of this entry »

Look for the label, the union label…

January 21st, 2015

Heh. Heh. Heh.

PHILADELPHIA — A former union leader was found guilty on Tuesday of extortion, racketeering and conspiracy for overseeing a campaign of violence and vandalism intended to force nonunion contractors to hire union members.