Archive for the ‘Obits’ Category

Obit watch: May 27, 2016.

Saturday, May 28th, 2016

Angela Paton, character actress who played Mrs. Lancaster (the innkeepr) in “Groundhog Day”.

Obit watch: May 27, 2016.

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Angela Paton, character actress who played Mrs. Lancaster (the innkeepr) in “Groundhog Day”.

Obit watch: May 26, 2016.

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Mell Lazarus, noted cartoonist. (“Momma”, “Miss Peach”)

Edited to add: really good tribute to Lazarus in the WP‘s “Comic Riffs” blog.

Not strictly an obit, but there’s a good article in the NYT explaining the circumstances surrounding their obit of Donald W. Duncan, previously noted in this space.

Obit watch: May 25, 2016.

Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

Beth Howland passed away December 31st of last year, but her death was not announced until yesterday, in keeping with the wishes of her family.

She played Amy in the original Broadway production of Sondheim’s “Company”, and had a slew of other roles. Ms. Howland was perhaps most famous as Vera on “Alice”.

Unlike many actors, Ms. Howland had never worked as a waitress. “But I just kept sitting around coffee shops and watching how it’s done, and now I can carry four dinners,” she told Knight Newspapers.

I kind of wonder if she was typecast after “Alice”: the obit says she worked “sporadically”.

She had small guest roles on “Eight Is Enough,” “Little House on the Prairie,” “Murder, She Wrote,” “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch” and “The Tick.”

Also:

She and the actress Jennifer Warren were the executive producers of the documentary “You Don’t Have to Die,” about a 6-year-old boy’s successful battle against cancer. It won an Academy Award in 1989 for best short-subject documentary.

(Wouldn’t “After Alice” be a great idea for a new TV series? Linda Lavin is still alive: she could have taken over the diner from Mel. Polly Holliday is still alive, too: she could be working the counter, and then you cast someone to play Vera’s daughter, who works as a waitress…Hollywood types, you know where to reach me.)

The AV Club is reporting the passing of Burt Kwouk, who sounds like a very cool and interesting guy. He was in three Bond films, but is perhaps best known as Cato in the Peter Sellers “Pink Panther” movies. (Edited to add: NYT obit.)

“They were always a lot of fun because after a while I got to know Cato quite well and I liked Cato because he never argued with me and he never borrowed money from me. I liked playing Cato quite a lot,” he said of the role in a 2011 interview with the BBC.

Not exactly obits, but worth noting in my opnion: both Bubba Smith and Dave Mirra have been diagnosed with chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Obit watch: May 23, 2016.

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

The WP has a nice tribute to Nick Menza, former drummer of Megadeth, who died Saturday.

In 2007, he nearly lost his arm in a power saw accident. He required reconstructive surgery, and metal plates were inserted in his arm, according to Blabbermouth. Six years later, he auctioned off the bloodstained circular saw blade, which was placed in museum-quality glass with an x-ray of his mutilated arm, Loudwire reported.

You know, I bet we could get DNA off of that saw blade…

Also among the dead: Bill Herz, the last surviving crew member of Orson Welles’s “War of the Worlds” broadcast.

Obit watch and playing catch up: May 21, 2016.

Saturday, May 21st, 2016

Alan Young.

Yesterday was kind of a busy day. There were multiple things that I intended to make note of, but I got stuck into something I can’t discuss right now, and…well….anyway:

Morley Safer, for the historical record.

San Francisco police chief “resigns” “at the request of Mayor Ed Lee”. I think we can call this one a “firing”.

The precipitating incident here seems to have been the SFPD shooting of a woman in a possibly stolen vehicle: she fled from the officers and crashed into the back of a truck.

The car crashed into a utility truck a short distance away. Although no weapon was found on the woman and the car was wedged under the truck, a police sergeant fired a single shot, killing her, police said.

It sounds at first like there was a bit of a rush to judgement on this: the shooting took place Thursday morning, and Suhr was canned Thursday afternoon. But as the linked SFGate article notes, this wasn’t the first problem under Suhr’s administration: there had been two previous controversial shootings, plus a scandal over “racist and homophobic text messages”.

Great and good friend of the blog and occasional guest poster RoadRich sent a series of thoughtful comments yesterday on the Suhr firing: I’m hoping he’ll let me post those as a guest post, but I didn’t get a chance to ask him yesterday because of [redacted] and he’s busy today.

In other California news, remember Maywood? How could you forget the nearly broke municipality of Maywood, “the second-smallest city in Los Angeles County”?

But that didn’t stop municipal leaders from granting themselves, the city treasurer and the city clerk $250 monthly mileage stipends.
If Maywood used the Internal Revenue Service’s suggested reimbursement rate for business travel of 54 cents a mile, city officials would need to drive 463 miles a month to reach the $250 mark.

More:

Councilman Ricardo Villarreal said he didn’t think twice about voting in favor of the monthly stipends because he thought the roughly $550 a month they get for serving as council members didn’t cover other costs like meals with other officials and mileage.

I wonder if the councilman and other officials are eating at Tacos Los Desvelados.

Turning our attention to Austin:

Albert “Matt” Arevalo was fired in September after being charged with DWI last May. Arevalo was stopped after driving 91 mph in a 55 mph zone, and his blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit, police said.

Mr. Arevalo was an officer with the Austin Police Department. Given that knowledge, would you care to guess what happened next? Yes: he got his job back!

The arbitrator mandated that Arevalo should only serve a 180-day suspension and receive back pay for any days over that period, said Austin police union president Ken Casaday in a letter members of the Austin Police Association.

Quickies.

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Well, baseball season’s finally gotten underway with the ceremonial throwing out of the first manager.

Fredi Gonzalez out as manager of the Braves. The team was 9-28 so far this year; he was 434-413 overall while with the Braves.

The grand jury has decided not to indict former APD officer Geoffrey Freeman, who you may remember better as the officer who shot and killed a naked 17-year-old male. (Previously.)

Obit watch: Guy Clark, noted Texas musician.

Edited to add 5/18: More Guy Clark. NYT. South Texas Pistolero. A/V Club.

Aux armes, citoyens, Formez vos bataillons, Marchons, marchons!

Sunday, May 15th, 2016

I could claim that I wanted to split this out into a separate obit for reasons. Which is true, but I also didn’t find this one until after the previous post.

The WP is reporting the death of Madeleine LeBeau at the age of 92.

Ms. LeBeau (sometimes credited as Lebeau) was the last surviving credited cast member of “Casablanca” (1942), which the American Film Institute lists as the second greatest movie of all time. “Citizen Kane” is No. 1, according to the film preservation group.

Ms. LeBeau played Yvonne, the girlfriend Rick throws over. She’s also in my favorite scene from what is one of my favorite movies ever:

I believe Ms. LeBeau is the teary eyed woman about 1:30 in, the one who isn’t Bergman and isn’t holding the guitar. Interestingly, Ms. LeBeau’s then-husband, Marcel Dalio, was Emil the croupier (“Your winnings, sir.”)

Ms. LeBeau made her screen debut in a 1939 drama, “Young Girls in Trouble.”

One of her last film roles was in “8 1/2”.

Edited to add 5/17: NYT obit.

Obit watch: May 13, 2016.

Friday, May 13th, 2016

Katherine Dunn, noted author (Geek Love) and boxing aficionado.

One Ring Circus: Dispatches from the World of Boxing sounds like a book I might be interested in. (Short shameful confession: I haven’t read Geek Love.)

Hattip: Lawrence, who also brings us a vital safety tip.

Obit watch: May 10, 2016.

Tuesday, May 10th, 2016

I’ve been meaning to note this for the past few days.

Last Friday, the NYT ran an obituary for Donald W. Duncan. Mr. Duncan was a former member of the Special Forces in Vietnam: he became disillusioned after his return to the United States, and became a fairly prominent anti-war activist:

In an America torn by protests against the war in the late 1960s and early ’70s, Mr. Duncan was often in the news, although not as prominently as the pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock, the Roman Catholic priests Daniel and Philip Berrigan or the actress Jane Fonda, who was photographed laughing and applauding on an antiaircraft gun in Hanoi. (Daniel Berrigan died on April 30.)
But in 1966, well before the Tet offensive and the My Lai massacre stirred national discontent, Mr. Duncan was one of the first returning veterans to portray the war as a moral quagmire that had little to do with fighting the spread of Communism, as American leaders were portraying it.
Sergeant Duncan, who went to war convinced it was an anti-Communist crusade, ended his Special Forces duty a changed man. A 10-year veteran, he rejected an offer of an officer’s commission and left the Army. Back home, he became a fierce critic of the war, writing articles and a memoir and speaking at rallies across the country with the singer Joan Baez, the writer Norman Mailer and the comedian Dick Gregory.

But that’s not why I wanted to note Mr. Duncan’s passing. Remember I said the NYT ran the obit last Friday?

Mr. Duncan passed away on March 25, 2009. Yes, seven years ago. I can’t think of a longer gap between a death and an obit in the paper of record. Randall Dale Adams was about nine months, and I think he was the previous record holder.

Also, and more recent: William Schallert. There’s a photo and caption in that obit that make me smile: you’ll know it when you see it.

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.