Archive for the ‘Obits’ Category

Obit watch: April 30, 2016.

Saturday, April 30th, 2016

I found out yesterday that Tom Deeb passed away about a month ago. I had not seen this previously reported: apparently, I should be reading more blogs.

For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Deeb, he was the founder of Hi-Point and designer of their firearms.

I actually discovered this in a moderately amusing way. Yesterday, RoadRich and I had the chance to tour the Austin Police Department’s Forensics Lab as part of our CPA course.

One of the stops on our tour was the firearms and toolmarks lab, and we got to spend a few minutes talking with one of the examiners. I want to go out drinking with this guy, but I digress. I asked him how much truth there was to the old movie/TV show cliche, “The bullet has six lands and grooves and a right hand twist, so it’s got to be a Smith and Wesson or a Taurus…”

He commented that yes, generally, they can at least narrow things down to two or three makes of weapons, and sometimes they can do even better than that. Paraphrasing as closely as I remember: “If we see one with nine, we KNOW that it’s a Hi-Point, because TOM DEEB ALWAYS HAS TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY THAN EVERYONE ELSE!

After the tour, RoadRich and I went to lunch, and got to talking about this. So I did some searching on my phone and found this recent profile of Hi-Point and Mr. Deeb from the American Rifleman. Turns out there’s more to it than Mr. Deeb just wanting to be different:

Deeb became fascinated with the science of forensic firearm examination, which is how, as an examiner, I met him. “I included design elements in my guns to be of specific use to the forensic community, beginning in 1994,” said Deeb. “We now start with a particular number for each model of pistol. Rifles start with letters that are easily identifiable.” Beyond this, Deeb uses uncommon rifling patterns and makes breech faces that leave readily identifiable markings on fired cartridge cases. He began doing workshops for firearm examiners at the Ass’n of Firearm and Tool Mark Examiners (AFTE) annual training seminar and became a Technical Advisor to AFTE in 2002. Currently, he conducts about 20 tours of his plant a year for firearm examiners.

(And I know it is trendy to sneer at Hi-Point, but: the guys at Tex-Guns used to tell people when they asked about Hi-Points, “We’ve sold hundreds of them, and we’ve only had one, maybe two, come back to us for repair.” Another take.)

(And if you find someone on Gunbroker selling a Model 19 for $125, please let me know. I already have two (edited to add 5/1: three, actually: I forgot about the Ranger gun, but I don’t shoot that one), but at that price, I’d buy one and give it to a friend.)

Obit watch: April 22, 2016.

Friday, April 22nd, 2016

Your Prince obit round-up: NYT. Star-Tribune. LAT coverage. WP.

“Poor Lonely Computer: Prince’s Misunderstood Relationship With The Internet” from NPR.

I feel much the same way about Prince as I did about Bowie. I wouldn’t call myself a fan, I never saw him live, but thinking back on it, he turned out a lot of music I like. “1999”. “Little Red Corvette”. “When Doves Cry”. “Let’s Go Crazy”. And every now and then, I’ve been known to spontaneously start singing “She wore a raspberry beret, the kind you find in a second-hand store…” much to the annoyance of my cow-orkers.

And I didn’t realize it until yesterday, but he actually wrote “Manic Monday”.

Also among the dead, according to the A/V Club: Richard Lyons, co-founder of Negativland.

I was working when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray…

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

Prince is dead.

The A/V Club is on this like flies over a cow’s head in a Damien Hirst installation.

Full obit roundup tomorrow for two reasons: I want to wait for the dust to settle, and I need that long to figure out how to put this:

into a blog post.

Obit watch: April 18, 2016.

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Richard Ransom, founder of Hickory Farms.

Mr. Ransom sold Hickory Farms for $41 million in 1980 to the General Host Corporation of Connecticut. Analysts thought the price was steep and attributed it to Hickory Farms’ shrewd marketing. The company has since changed hands more than once and has shifted to catalog sales.

Now I’m nostalgic: I remember the Hickory Farms stores in the malls when I was a child, and going in to scam some free samples. These days, I have to get my free samples of meat and cheese at the gun show…

By way of Popehat (which also calls him “the meanest sonofabitch who ever wore the black robe”), the WP obit for Joe Freeman Britt, whose passing we noted previously.

The WP obit fills in some context:

A 1983 study by an organization investigating justice in rural America found that Mr. Britt’s near-total control of the court system in Robeson and Scotland counties led to “a widespread and serious denial of [the] rights” of poor defendants.
Bails were set unreasonably high, the study found, and the court calendar — set by Mr. Britt — often forced defendants to wait for weeks before their cases were heard. Minority defendants were prosecuted at higher rates, and many were improperly told that they would have to repay the state if they asked for a court-appointed lawyer.

“Because I ain’t killed nobody,” McCollum said. “I want to tell you something, Joe Freeman — God got your judgment right in hell waiting for you.”
McCollum and Brown served more than 30 years in prison — including years on death row — before they were exonerated by the North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission. A cigarette found at the scene of the crime contained DNA from the man who had been convicted for the other nearby killing while the brothers were jailed.

Obit watch: April 14, 2016.

Thursday, April 14th, 2016

Two! Two! Two themes in one!

Theme 1: people who had interesting lives and careers.

Anne Jackson, noted actress.

Ms. Jackson, who had endured a difficult life growing up in Brooklyn, carved out an impressive stage career of her own. Critics hailed her range and the subtlety of her characterizations — including all the women, from a middle-aged matron to a grandmother, in David V. Robison’s “Promenade, All!” (1972) — and a housewife verging on hysteria in Alan Ayckbourn’s “Absent Friends” (1977).

She was also married to Eli Wallach from 1948 until he died in 2014. And they were good together:

They both won Obie Awards for their work in Mr. Schisgal’s 1963 Off Broadway double bill, “The Typists” and “The Tiger.” They also starred in his hit 1964 Broadway comedy, “Luv,” directed by Mike Nichols, which ran 901 performances and won three Tony Awards, and in another pair of Schisgal one-acts, “Twice Around the Park,” on Broadway in 1982.

Arthur Anderson. He was perhaps most famous as the voice of the Lucky Charms Leprechaun. But he did a lot of other stuff, including working with Orson Welles:

After acting in “The Mercury Theater on the Air,” Mr. Anderson was cast in 1937 as Lucius, the herald to the 22-year-old Welles’s Brutus, in a Broadway production of “Julius Caesar” set in Fascist Italy. Arthur sang, accompanying himself on a ukulele camouflaged as a lute.
His most memorable moment during the show occurred offstage. After heeding an order to stop hurling light bulbs at a brick wall, he decided to light matches to test the melting point of the sprinkler heads. Besides setting off a fire alarm, he triggered a deluge just as Brutus ascended the pulpit above the body of Caesar on the stage below.

Remember, folks, the sprinkler is not a toy, nor is it a load-bearing device.

Theme 2: the death penalty.

Jack H. Smith passed away a few days ago.

Mr. Smith had convictions for robbery-assault and theft in 1955 and another robbery-assault conviction in 1959 that earned him a life prison term. He also had a prison escape attempt in 1963.
He was paroled from his life sentence on Jan. 8, 1977, after serving 17 years. One day short of a year later, on Jan. 7, 1978, Mr. Smith and an accomplice were arrested in the killing of Roy A. Deputter, who was shot to death while trying to stop a holdup at a Houston convenience store known as Corky’s Corner.

Mr. Smith’s accomplice testified against him and was sentenced to life. Mr. Smith was sentenced to death:

Mr. Smith, a former welder who completed only six years of school, arrived on death row on Oct. 9, 1978, and remained there until his death.

Joe Freeman Britt also passed away a few days ago. He was a prosecutor in North Carolina:

As the district attorney for Robeson and Scotland Counties from 1974 to 1988, Mr. Britt oversaw cases that led to more than 40 death sentences. Only two of the defendants were executed — appeals court rulings led to many altered sentences, and some suspects were later exonerated [Emphasis added: -DB] — but his courtroom record ranked him at one point among the country’s most prolific advocates for capital punishment.

After his time as a prosecutor, he became a judge:

Mr. Britt’s candidacy for the court seat was not without controversy. His opponent, a Native American, died in what the authorities concluded was a domestic dispute. The death essentially guaranteed a victory for Mr. Britt, and it prompted a period of unease and suspicion. Investigators, however, never accused Mr. Britt or his supporters of wrongdoing.

Random notes: April 11, 2016.

Monday, April 11th, 2016

Statesman writer subscribes to LootCrate so he can get a box of pop-culture crap delivered to him every month.
Statesman writer discovers that he really doesn’t like getting a box of pop-culture crap delivered to him every month.
Stateman writer decides, not just to quietly cancel his LootCrate subscription and move on with his life, but to publish a “breakup letter” in his newspaper.

Editors. Where are the editors?

Obit watch: Dr. Charles S. Hirsch, chief medical examiner of New York City from 1989 to 2013.

In 2001, when two jetliners commandeered by terrorists struck the World Trade Center, Dr. Hirsch and six aides rushed downtown to establish a temporary morgue.
When the North Tower collapsed, two aides were severely injured. Dr. Hirsch, thrown to the ground, broke all of his ribs. His cuts sutured by a medical team, he returned to the examiner’s squat brick headquarters at First Avenue and 30th Street, coated in a ghostlike gray soot.

Begun, the “Hamilton” backlash has.

Quote of the day:

“I can recognize a nipple from 600 yards in the background behind a leaf at this point.”

Obit watch: April 8, 2016.

Friday, April 8th, 2016

E.M. Nathanson.

Nathanson was perhaps most famous as the author of The Dirty Dozen, based on a story told to him by Russ Meyer (!) and adapted into a movie that I’ve never actually seen. I wonder if Lawrence has a copy…

Obit watch: April 7, 2016.

Thursday, April 7th, 2016

The Merle Haggard round-up: NYT. LAT. WP. A/V Club. South Texas Pistolero.

I feel like a musical interlude.


Obit watch: April 6, 2016.

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Merle Haggard has died.

Expect a longer roundup tomorrow.

Things: April 1, 2016.

Friday, April 1st, 2016

You know something? I still don’t like bullies.

Obit watch: Bill Green. Mr. Green worked as a newspaper editor, public affairs officer for NASA, and university professor at Duke.

He also worked for the Washington Post as their ombudsman from late 1980 to 1981. If you’re thinking, “Hey, that period sounds historically significant.”: yes, yes it was. “Jimmy’s World” was published shortly after Mr. Green became ombudsman, and he conducted the paper’s investigation when it fell apart.

Since it fell off the front page, I wanted to also note here that I updated the “Use of force” post: now with pyramids!

Obit watch: March 30, 2016.

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

Lester C. Thurow, noted economist.

Mr. Thurow was often prone to sweeping declarations about the economy, using metaphors and easily digestible analyses to convey his point. That made him a target of criticism from other economists, notably Paul Krugman, who is now a New York Times columnist, who argued that much of what he said was overly simplistic.

You know, when Paul Krugman is attacking you, you’ve probably done something right…

I was one year old when “The Patty Duke Show” went off the air. My mother says she can still sing the theme song (but won’t).

I don’t think I’ve ever seen the 1962 “Miracle Worker”: I want to say that we saw the 1979 version in school (with Half-Pint as Hellen and Patty Duke as Anne Sullivan) but that could be a memory implanted by aliens. In any case, if I did see it, I don’t remember it well.

The two things that I associate most with Patty Duke were her “Night Gallery” episode (which I’ve touched on before) and “Thanks for the Honeymoon” from the good “Hawaii 5-0″. (She was also in an episode of the bad “Hawaii 5-0″.) As I noted, I thought she was kind of strident and one note in both of those, but I also think those may have been directorial choices.

Reading over the obits, there was a lot I never know, like the fact that she was married to John “Gomez” Astin. It sounds like she went through a great deal of hardship and pain, but emerged on the other side a stronger and better person, who found some relative peace late in life.


And this is a nice essay from Kenneth Turan, LAT film critic and co-author of Call Me Anna.

Obit watch: March 28, 2016.

Monday, March 28th, 2016

Mother Mary Angelica, founder of the Eternal Word Television Network.

Jim Harrison. I feel kind of bad about saying this, but: I bought a copy of The Raw and the Cooked, mostly because it gets a lot of praise from various food writers that I like. I’ve tried to read it, and found that it’s about 50% really good food and outdoor writing…and about 50% pretentious twaddle.