Obit watch: February 6, 2016.

February 6th, 2016

I thought I’d do this one separately, since it didn’t fit in tone with the previous entry:

Edgar D. Mitchell, Apollo 14 astronaut and the sixth man to walk on the moon.


Random notes: February 6, 2016.

February 6th, 2016

Good news, everyone! Our long national nightmare is just beginning!

“Cop Rock” is coming out on DVD.

I never saw an episode of “Cop Rock”, but I am assured it is horrible: therefore, I have to get the DVDs.

I went back and forth about noting this obit yesterday, but in the end, this paragraph pushed me over the edge:

Ms. Denham plunged into the bohemian life. She modeled by day, posing at camera clubs and doing photo shoots for romance and detective magazines, paperback covers, comic strips and movie posters. For a spread in True Adventures magazine, “Girl Gun Runners of Saigon,” she posed as four different Vietnamese women holding an array of weapons as they took position on a ridge.

“Girl Gun Runners of Saigon”, one of the greatest titles ever. Right up there with “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” and “Coffin’s Got the Dead Guy On the Inside”.

Obit watch: February 5, 2016.

February 5th, 2016

Maurice White, founding member of Earth, Wind, and Fire. NYT. A/V Club.

Dave Mirra, prominent BMX racer.

The number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Obit watch: February 3, 2016.

February 3rd, 2016

Bob Elliott, of Bob and Ray fame. NYT. A/V Club.

Bob & Ray Present the CBS Radio Network.

And now I really want the DVDs of Get A Life, a show I personally have fond memories of.

TMQ Watch: February 2, 2016.

February 3rd, 2016

How did TMQ spend the most boring week in sports? Let’s find out. This week’s TMQ, after the jump…

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Obit watch: special all UKOGBNI edition.

February 3rd, 2016

Gordon Goody, one of the Great Train Robbers.

While Mr. Goody was always considered one of the masterminds of the plot, he resented the fact that Mr. Reynolds was most often identified as the gang’s chief architect. (Mr. Reynolds died in 2013.)
“I do take exception to being referred to, as I have been from time to time, as Bruce’s number two,” Mr. Goody wrote. “I wasn’t number two to anybody.”

Richard John Bingham, the seventh Earl of Lucan, also known as Lord Lucan.

Okay, so, technically, he’s been dead since 1999, but this time he’s really most sincerely dead.

Something lighter.

January 29th, 2016

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s list of “Institutions Whose Degrees are Illegal to Use in Texas”.

Good for a few chuckles, at least. For example, the entry on “Eastern Caribbean University”: “…master’s degrees were offered in “Classical Studies” which actually was the study of any ‘classic’ TV or movies series such as ‘I Love Lucy’ or the James Bond movies. Closed by action of the CB.”

I also like “Irish International University”: “The Irish government has requested that Malaysia close this entity on grounds that it is neither Irish nor a university.”

(“The Partridge Family were neither partridges, nor a family. Discuss.”)


January 29th, 2016

In another life, I used to travel between Austin and Rhode Island regularly (once a year or so).

The first time I went, I stayed downtown, at the Biltmore. This was 1995, I think, and it seemed that downtown was dead.

But I kept going back (this was the business I had chosen) and downtown Providence got better. They built a big new mall within walking distance of the Biltmore. They started Waterfire. The last time I was in Providence, it was a fun, exciting place to be. I miss it.

Buddy Cianci was responsible for a lot of this.


He wasn’t a hero of mine, and I never really “met” him. I did encounter him a couple of times.

It was a running joke among my coworkers (and the folks we worked with in Rhode Island) that you should eat at Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen at least once; not only was the food good, but if you got lucky, you might see Buddy.

Well, one night I was in there with some of my coworkers and some of our Rhode Island contacts. So was Buddy. He actually came over to our table and commented on how cute and well-behaved the young child who was with us was. (As I recall, he was accompanied by a stunning, and very young, woman.)

Later on that trip, I shared an elevator ride with him. I didn’t say anything to him; didn’t seem like the time or place. I kind of wish I had said something nice to him now.


The Prince of Providence is a swell book about Buddy and Providence politics, though I don’t know if it has been updated since 2003.


Buddy reminds me some of Robert Moses. Both were examples of The Man Who Got Things Done. And it seems that both were also examples of the “rude to the waiter” rule. (I watched him get kind of snippy once with a desk clerk at the Biltmore who didn’t recognize him. To be fair, though, he was actually living in the Biltmore at the time…)

I was always conflicted by him. As a Libertarian, he represented a lot of what I hate about big government. As a connoisseur of politicians, especially crooked ones, he was one of the last examples of a type we probably won’t see again.

And I always thought his second conviction was questionable. He was charged on 27 counts, and was acquitted on 26. The one thing he was found guilty of was “racketeering conspiracy”. What the hell does that even mean? What “racket” was he “conspiring” in, if he wasn’t guilty of the other 26 charges?

Then again, I Am Not A Lawyer, and maybe I’m inclined to make excuses for someone I kind of liked.


He may have been a crook. But he was my crook, damn it.

Obit watch: January 29, 2016.

January 29th, 2016

Paul Kantner, guitarist and founding member of Jefferson Airplane. SFGate. NYT. A/V Club.

In the ‘70s, Kantner and Jefferson Airplane singer Grace Slick recorded Blows Against The Empire, a sci-fi concept album that was even nominated for a Hugo Award.

Perhaps someone more familiar with Hugo history can answer this: was Kantner the only guitarist ever nominated for a Hugo (either individually or as part of a group)?

This was by way of Lawrence, who asks, “Has there been a huge number of important deaths this month, or is my view just distorted?” If his view is distorted, mine is, too.

I think there have been studies that show a peak in deaths in January: people who are on the edge try to hold out through Christmas and the new year, but after January 1st there’s nothing to hold out for and they’ve used up a lot of their strength. Even taking that into account, this January has been one of the worst months I can remember.

At some point, I may run a comparison of how many obit watches I’ve posted in January since I began this effort. If I do, I’ll post it here. (And I know that will be kind of skewed, too, but it is at least a start.)

NYT obit for Buddy Cianci. That’s something else I’ll try to get posted today.

TMQ Watch: January 26, 2016.

January 28th, 2016

Our apologies for the delay. We intended to work on this last night, but the standard Austin issue cold/allergies/creeping crud knocked us flat, and we ended up sleeping for roughly 12 hours instead. We’re somewhat better now, thanks to Claritin-D, naproxen sodium, and lots of water.

In other news, we have now reached the point in the season at which we don’t care any longer. All of our teams are out, and we’re already tired of hearing about Peyton Manning.

But formalities must be observed. Also, we only have (maybe) two more columns left after this one. So, after the jump, this week’s TMQ

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Obit watch: January 28, 2016.

January 28th, 2016

In great haste, because my lunch is about to end and I’m busier than a one-legged man in an ass-kicking contest: former Providence, Rhode Island mayor Vincent A. “Buddy” Cianci Jr.

ProJo coverage. I expect I’ll have more to say later.

More Marvin.

January 27th, 2016

I really like this remembrance of Marvin Minsky by Stephen Wolfram.

Edited to add: By way of Lawrence, Kevin D. Williamson in National Review on Minsky and economics.

Not Minsky, but worth linking to: Hal Linden on Abe Vigoda.