Archive for the ‘Obits’ Category

Obit watch: April 14, 2015.

Tuesday, April 14th, 2015

Günter Grass, noted German writer.

Somehow, I managed to miss his admission that he was an SS member during the war.

(Sorry for the radio silence the past few days. I’ve been on the road and just got home last night. More about this later.)

Obit watch: play Freberg!

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

Oh, come on, he would have laughed, too.

A/V Club. NYT.

Just for the heck of it:

Obit watch: April 2, 2015.

Thursday, April 2nd, 2015

Rev. Robert H. Schuller, Crystal Cathedral founder. NYT. LAT.

Obit watch: March 31, 2015.

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

Robert L. Hite passed away on Sunday.

Lt. Col. Hite was one of Doolittle’s Raiders. He was captured by the Japanese after his plane ran out of fuel and the crew bailed out over China.

Mr. Hite was imprisoned for 40 months, 38 of them in solitary confinement. His weight had dropped to 76 pounds from 180 when the war ended.

Obit watch: March 27, 2015.

Friday, March 27th, 2015

This has been covered elsewhere, but I did want to highlight the NYT coverage of Richard III’s reburial.

After three days of viewing by thousands who lined up for hours to file past the bier in Leicester’s Anglican cathedral, Richard’s skeletal remains, in a coffin of golden English oak with an incised Yorkist rose and an inscription giving the sparest details of his life — “Richard III, 1452-1485” — were removed overnight from beneath a black cloth pall stitched with colorful images from his tumultuous times.

I wish I could have been there.

To those seething at the spectacle of a notoriously violent monarch being rehabilitated by the church, the cardinal cautioned that power in Richard’s time was “invariably won or maintained on the battlefield and only by ruthless determination, strong alliances and a willingness to employ the use of force, at times with astonishing brutality.”

Giggle. Snort.

For more than 500 years, he has been popularly cast as one of the most odious villains of English history — the “poisonous, bunch-back’d toad” of Shakespeare’s “Richard III,” reviled as a child killer for his role, as Shakespeare and generations of historians have depicted it, as the prime mover in the smothering murders of the two young brothers known as the Princes in the Tower.

Since the 1700s, there has been a minority voice among writers and historians that has cast Richard as the victim of a conspiracy by the Tudors, whose dynasty was founded on Henry Tudor’s victory. Among these protagonists, Shakespeare is seen as having won favor at court as a spin doctor for the Tudor cause, especially for Queen Elizabeth I, who, this version contends, wanted Richard’s reputation blackened to strengthen the Tudors’ own shaky legitimacy.

I’m just going to leave these links here.

The Richard III Society.

The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey.

Also: nice tribute by the NYT to the author, John Burns.

Obit watch: March 23, 2015.

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Izola Ware Curry passed away on March 7th. This is slightly old news, but I’ve been waiting for a good link.

For those of you who are saying, “Who?”: Ms. Curry was the woman who stabbed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The stabbing nearly cost Dr. King his life, requiring hours of delicate surgery to remove Ms. Curry’s blade, a seven-inch ivory-handled steel letter opener, which had lodged near his heart. If he had so much as sneezed, his doctors later told him, he would not have survived.

Ms. Curry was found incompetent to stand trial and spent the rest of her life in a series of institutions.

Chinua Achebe, noted Nigerian author, has also passed away. Somewhere I have a copy of Things Fall Apart. I need to dig that out, as I’ve been meaning to read it, and I seem to be out of Ross Thomas books at the moment.

Pratchett.

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

NYT. BBC. Tam. A/V Club. The discussion there, and on Fark, is surprisingly civil (at least, last time I looked).

I think I’m an outlier here. I’ve only read one and half Pratchett books. The half was Good Omens (which, as I recall, I read in an advance reading copy I picked up at an ABA convention).

One of my friends and cow orkers at Dell pushed Guards! Guards! on me when he found out I hadn’t read any Discworld novels. I liked it about as much as I liked Good Omens, which is to say quite a bit. But one thing that struck me about it was that, buried in this funny story, was actually a kind of nice and sweet vision of how the police should work: how they should combat crime, and how they should relate with the citizens they protect. In some ways (and I’m not sure Pratchett knew it), Guards! Guards! was very much like “Dragnet”, except funnier. Other people have made a similar point: Pratchett overlapped silly fantasy with contemporary social commentary.

I haven’t picked up any of his books since Guards! Guards!. That’s because I wanted to hold them in reserve. Now, I feel like I’ve got enough to keep me busy for several years.

There may be additional links tomorrow, but I’ll leave off with this. I wanted to purchase a membership in the NRA (or the British equivalent) for Pratchett when I first encountered it. From Night Watch:

There had been that Weapons Law, for a start. Weapons were involved in so many crimes that, Swing reasoned, reducing the number of weapons had to reduce the crime rate.
Vimes wondered if he’d sat up in bed in the middle of the night and hugged himself when he’d dreamed that one up. Confiscate all weapons, and crime would go down. It made sense. It would have worked, too, if only there had been enough coppers – say, three per citizen.
Amazingly, quite a few weapons were handed in. The flaw, though, was one that had somehow managed to escape Swing, and it was this: criminals don’t obey the law. It’s more or less a requirement for the job. They had no particular interest in making the streets safer for anyone except themselves. And they couldn’t believe what was happening. It was like Hogswatch every day.

Edited to add: LAT.

Edited to add 2: WP.

Obit watch: March 6, 2015.

Friday, March 6th, 2015

Natalia Revuelta Clews, aka “Fidel Castro’s mistress”.

Cardinal Edward M. Egan, Archdiocese of New York.

Harve Bennett, Star Trek guy. (Hattip: Lawrence.) (Edited to add: A/V Club.)

And also…

Friday, February 27th, 2015

I don’t want this one to get lost: Earl Lloyd has died.

For those who don’t recognize the name, Mr. Lloyd was the first black NBA player.

A rugged 6-foot-6, 220-pound forward, Lloyd played in the N.B.A. for nine seasons. He was a strong rebounder and so tenacious on defense that he sometimes guarded the Minneapolis Lakers’ 6-foot-10 center George Mikan, the league’s first superstar. In 1955, Lloyd joined with Jim Tucker, also a forward, as the first two black players on an N.B.A. championship team, playing for the Syracuse Nationals.

Nimoy.

Friday, February 27th, 2015

For the historical record: NYT. LAT. WP. A/V Club. Lawrence.

Other people have pointed this out, too, but he went beyond Spock. He replaced Martin Landau in the original “Mission: Impossible”, and is described as being one of the more memorable “Columbo” villains.

And here’s a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore I ran across while searching for “M:I” episode openings featuring Nimoy:

Kids, ask your parents about Y2K.

One more for the road:

Obit watch: February 27, 2015.

Friday, February 27th, 2015

Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame. WP.

Father Hesburgh further inflamed his conservative critics by leading a group of Catholic educators to assert a degree of doctrinal independence from Rome. Meeting at the Holy Cross retreat in Land O’Lakes, Wis., in 1967, the group issued a landmark policy statement declaring that the pursuit of truth, not religious indoctrination, was the ultimate goal of Catholic higher learning in the United States. That position had implications for what could be taught at the universities and who could be hired to teach, issues that remain contentious to this day.

Rev. Hesburgh’s name came up earlier in the week in my office. One of my cow orkers has been promoted to a leadership position, and our group was exchanging leadership advice.

The very essence of leadership is that you have to have vision. You can’t blow an uncertain trumpet.

Random notes: February 23, 2015.

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Am I understanding things correctly? They made a movie out of “Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law“? And it won Best Picture?

Ackquille Pollard is a rising young rapper under the name Bobby Shmurda. Mr. Pollard’s rap career has been temporarily sidetracked:

Mr. Pollard was arrested for what city prosecutors said was his role as the “driving force” and “organizing figure” behind the street gang known as GS9, an offshoot of the Crips. In one incident just a month before he was signed, prosecutors said, Mr. Pollard shot at his brother, shattering glass at a Brooklyn barbershop. He faces up to 25 years in prison for conspiracy, reckless endangerment and gun possession; others charged, including Mr. Pollard’s childhood friends, face more serious accusations, including second-degree murder.

Mr. Pollard is being held on $2 million bail. And he’s upset that his record label hasn’t bailed him out.

But as rap has become more corporate, that kind of aid is unusual. Matthew Middleton, Mr. Pollard’s entertainment lawyer, said that while Epic is not obligated to cover bail or legal fees for Mr. Pollard, the artist expected more support, financial and emotional, especially after the label’s spirited pursuit of the rapper made them business partners.

“These companies for years have capitalized and made millions and millions of dollars from kids in the inner city portraying their plight to the rest of the world,” Mr. Middleton said. “To take advantage of that and exploit it from a business standpoint and then turn your back is disingenuous, to say the least.”

Obit watch: Herman Rosenblat. Mr. Rosenblat was a Holocaust survivor who wrote a memoir of his experiences. In that memoir, he told a story about a girl who threw an apple over the fence to him while he was in a concentration camp; later, after he moved to the United States, he met the girl again and married her.

This was, of course, a great story. Mr. Rosenblat made “Oprah” twice, got a book deal, and there were plans to turn his story into a movie.

And sadly, it turned out that Mr. Rosenblat completely invented the story about the girl and the apple. The book was never published and the movie was never made.

There is an Indian actor named Amitabh Bachchan. He’s apparently not well known in the United States, but he’s hugely popular in India. “He has appeared in more than 150 Bollywood films and served as a longtime host of the country’s wildly popular version of ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?'” according to the LAT. He also had a small part in the 2013 “Gatsby”.

And because of that small part, a group of Sikhs in the United States are claiming Mr. Bachchan is subject to US jurisdiction.

The group has filed a lawsuit in the U.S. making the improbable argument that Bachchan’s work with a U.S. film company gives American courts the ability to hold him responsible for the massacre of thousands of Sikhs in India three decades ago. The group alleges that the actor, now 72, made statements that incited a violent mob.

More:

The suit hinges on the Alien Tort Statute, which in recent years has become the center of a debate over whether American courts can and should be the arbiter of human rights abuses committed elsewhere in the world by non-U.S. citizens. The 1789 law, which was passed by the first Congress and initially used in cases of piracy and stolen goods, states that federal courts shall have jurisdiction over wrongs “committed in violation of the law of nations or a treaty of the United States.”

It seems unlikely this will work, at least according to the LAT: the Supreme Court has restricted the ability of plaintiffs to pursue claims under the Alien Tort Statute, and they are also likely to have issues accomplishing service on the defendant.

One Wisconsin suit was dismissed after it became clear the process server hired by the group mistakenly served another Sikh man with a long white beard and turban, not the chief minister of the state of Punjab. Hospital security and Secret Service agents proved a hurdle in serving another Indian politician at a New York cancer treatment facility. A case against Manmohan Singh, India’s prime minister at the time of the suit, was thrown out after the U.S. State Department stepped in to declare to the court that Singh was entitled to immunity as a head of state.

On at least one occasion, the group resorted to offering a $10,000 reward for anyone who could successfully serve the lawsuit on Punjab’s chief minister.