February 28, 2007

Seven day online game marathon leads to death

An obese 26-year-old man in northeastern China died after a "marathon" online gaming session over the Lunar New Year holiday, state media said on Wednesday.

Online addict dies after "marathon" session

A local teacher blamed the 'dull life' in China.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:36 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 27, 2007

Don't Surf the Web While Driving

How dumb do you have to be to be using a laptop while driving?

Dumb enough not to realize you're crossing the meridian and headed straight towards a Hummer.  The unnamed victim was a 28-year-old computer tutor.

Car crash kills man believed to be using laptop while driving

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:47 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Adopting an Older, Sexual Partner

Can you adopt someone older than you are?  Olive Watson did.
A lesbian, she 'adopted' her partner Patricia Spado in Maine where they summered.  Their 14 year relationship ended in 1992 but the adoption didn't.

At stake now is her share as a "grandchild" of Thomas Watson, who set up trusts for his grandchildren.  He never knew of the adoption.

Also at issue is the validity of the adoption of a sexual partner.

Family of IBM Pioneer Seeks to Exclude Heir's Adopted Lesbian Lover from Inheritance.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:55 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 26, 2007

Fraud Exposed by ITunes, Widower Confesses

Joyce Hatto was a little known pianist in London when she fell ill and moved to New Zealand.

Her recordings, CDs made when she was in her late 60s and 70s, are staggering, showing a masterful technique, a preternatural ability to adapt to different styles and a depth of musical insight hardly seen elsewhere.
--
Little wonder that when she at last succumbed to her cancer last year at age 77 — recording Beethoven’s Sonata No. 26, “Les Adieux,” from a wheelchair in her last days — The Guardian called her “one of the greatest pianists Britain has ever produced.” Nice touch, that, playing Beethoven’s farewell sonata from a wheelchair. It went along with her image in the press as an indomitable spirit with a charming personality

In her obituary, the Guardian called her "one of the greatest pianists Britain has ever produced...Her legacy is a discography that in quantity, musical range and consistent quality has been equalled by few pianists in history.

But it was all a fraud that fooled many music critics that only came to light after her death last year - exposed by  iTunes.

You have to read Shoot the Piano Player to find out how.

Now it appears her widower William Barrington Coupe passed off other people's recordings as his wife's to give her the illusion of a great end to an unfairly overlooked career.  Or at least that's what he said in a letter to Gramophone Magazine

I Did It For My Wife.

Now he deeply regrets what has happened. He feels that he has acted stupidly, dishonestly and unlawfully. However, he maintains that his wife knew nothing of the deception

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:22 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Deconstruct this

The late philosopher Jacques Derrida was considered the father of deconstruction which, to greatly oversimplify, holds that the meaning of words depends on the assumptions of the people who wrote them.  I find the theory impossible to understand, others have called it bewildering, but it has been exceptionally influential in this post-modern age because it questions the concept of universal truth and whether anyone can know anything for sure.

At the end of his career, Derrida was a professor at the University of California at Irvine, and signed an agreement in 1990  to donate his  archives to them.

Shortly before his death, he threatened to pull the plug on his agreement because he didn't like the way the University was investigating a Russian studies professor who was accused of sexually harassing a graduate student.  The professor was a vampire expert who taught a popular class on vampires and signed his e-mails with a colon to symbolize Dracula bite marks, used his position as the student's advisor to manipulate her into a series of sexual encounters...invited the woman to his apartment to view photos of Moscow.. plied the student with Transylvanian wine and opera music

So when Derrida's heirs didn't turn over the archives, the university sued his widow.

A Philosophical View of Sex from the LA Times is all about the contest between the widow and the university.

My second favorite line after  "he signed his emails with a colon to symbolize Dracula bite marks"  is a quotation from an unnamed blogger Given that Derrida's philosophical legacy is the notion that words have no meaning, shouldn't the bright minds at UC Irvine have realized that 'an agreement he signed' might not be worth much?"

I just googled the entire quote and found the John Miller, the national political reporter for the National Review said it. No wonder the LA Times didn't name him.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:52 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 24, 2007

Dr Pepper apologizes for placing coin near crypt

On Tremont St in Boston is the Granary Burying Ground,  the final resting place of many Revolutionary War patriots and signers of the Declaration of Independence like Sam Adams, Paul Revere, John Hancock.  Also buried there are victims of the Boston Massacre killed by British troops, including Crispus Attucks, an African-American sailor.

On this hallowed ground, part of The Freedom Trail, Dr. Pepper hid a coin, as part of a nation-wide treasure hunt, which would have been redeemable for up to $1 million in a promotion for the soft drink.

Fortunately, the Parks Department closed the burial ground due to icy paths last week when it learned of the ill-considered promotion.  Fearing damage from scores of treasure hunters, the burying ground remained closed.

Dr Pepper apologized, "The coin should never have been place in such a hallowed site."

Guerilla marketing is not going well in Boston. Last month, bomb scares closed down much of the city when another ill-conceived promotion by the Cartoon network placed devices containing magnetic lights and dangling wires under bridges to advertise a cartoon show.
That cost Turner Broadcasting $2 million and the resignation of the head of the Cartoon network.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:40 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 22, 2007

Trump wedding chapel to mausoleum

Donald Trump is eyeing N.J golf course for his grave site.

First though, he has to get approval to build a wedding chapel on the golf course he built on the  former estate of the late automaker John DeLorean.

Then, he plans to convert it to a mausoleum for himself and his family.

I guess he plans to see his children married and hear wedding bells first.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:10 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

First, turn on the lights

I can't imagine this. Man returns from visit, trips on corpse.

A Haight-Ashbury man returning home from an extended vacation tripped and fell on a corpse in his bedroom after finding his apartment had been ransacked, police said.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:17 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Clowns Shot Dead at Circus

What do you make of two clowns shot dead at a circus in Cucuta, Columbia?

The gunman burst into the Circo del Sol de Cali Monday night and shot the clowns in front of an audience of 20 to 50 people, local police chief Jose Humberto Henao told Reuters. One of the clowns was killed instantly and the second died the next day in hospital.
---
Local reports say the audience of about 20 people, mostly children, thought the shooting was part of the show before realizing both men had been killed.

It wouldn't be the first time. a clown was killed in Cucuta.

Last year, a prominent circus clown, known as Pepe, was also shot dead by a unknown assailant in Cucuta.

I don't think you'll see any more clowns in Cucuta in the near future.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 4:45 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Women on the front lines murdered.

Shot dead In Pakistan for not wearing a veil.

Zill-e Huma, Punjam province minister for social welfare  was shot dead by an Islamic militant.

"He killed her because she was not observing the Islamic code of dress. She was also campaigning for emancipation of women," local police officer Nazir Ahmad said.

Both the president and prime minister of Pakistan expressed their shock and grief .

Meanwhile in England, a father killed his wife and four daughters in their sleep because he could not bear them adopting a more westernized lifestyle.  He then set himself on fire and died two days later.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:49 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 21, 2007

New Magazine "Obit"

Will Boomers Give New Life to Obituaries?

Will people pay just to read obituaries? We are going to find out. Following up on a mini-boom in newspaper obits -- both the New York Sun and the Wall Street Journal have added them -- a husband-and-wife team from Princeton, N.J., plans to start publishing a glossy magazine, Obit. "We truly believe that we are starting a 'movement,' " co founder Barbara Hillier said in a prepared statement.

On its website, Obit calls itself "the hottest thing in periodicals since the golden years of Esquire and Playboy, that will leave an indelible mark on American society." Should the magazine fail after it hits newsstands next year, that line will doubtless appear in its obituary.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:53 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Yearning after Death

After a loved one dies, the most common reaction is yearning, not depression, a study shows, underscoring what most anyone knows.

Yearning most common after loved one's death

The study found that the most characteristic feature of bereavement after a death by natural causes "is more about yearning and pining and missing the person -- a hunger for having them come back," said senior author Holly Prigerson, director of Dana-Farber's Center for Psycho-Oncology and Palliative Care Research.

"The focus on depression is misguided," she said in an interview. Yearning "really dominates the psychological picture, (with a feeling) that a part of you is missing and that without this essential piece you won't be happy."
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"People never get over a loss, they just get used to it," Prigerson said. "Even years after someone dies, they get pangs of grief, they need to think about the person, and they miss them with heartache," she said. "That's normal. But intense levels beyond that become problematic."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:44 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 18, 2007

Dying Alone

On Long Island, Vincenzo Ricardo was dead for more than a year before his body discovered.

Mummified body found in front of blaring TV

Imagine the loneliness of that man, lying dead and forgotten.  Apparently he was diabetic, blind for many years, and without friends or family who cared enough to inquire after his health and well-being.

R.I.P. Vincenzo Ricardo.

Mark Gordon asks What if No One Cared About You?  and tells the sad story of an old woman who dressed every day in her very best waiting for her son who never came.    All the nursing home attendants could say as they took her back to her room each night was perhaps she had her days mixed up.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:52 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 17, 2007

Hit the Remote, A Moment of Silence

To say that our lives are immeasurably enriched by people we don't know is to say what's not obvious but clearly true when we think about it.    Everything we eat or use or read was first an idea in someone's mind and that someone than worked hard, alone or with others, to bring it to us.

On Thursday, Robert Adler, inventor of the TV remote, died at 93.

He worked for six decades at Zenith and won an Emmy in 1997 for his invention.  He never stopped thinking about new advances -  his most recent patent application was just published Feb 1.   

Hit the mute button for a moment of silence.

Update.  Here's an appreciation in The Washington Post, The Inventor Who Deserves a Sitting Ovation  by Paul Farhi.

Robert Adler, a prolific inventor, received more than 180 U.S. patents during a lifetime of dreaming and tinkering. But only one of his creations revolutionized an industry, changed the face of modern life
--
As the columnist Ellen Goodman once noted, the remote control had to have been invented by men because there is nothing more male than the concepts "remote" and "control."
--
As triumphant and pervasive as his vision was, Adler's mission was incomplete. If only he had invented a way to find the darn thing.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:00 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 15, 2007

Coffins vs Caskets

What's the difference you ask?

Coffins are wide to accommodate the shoulders, while small at the foot end.  Modern day caskets aren't anywhere near the shape of a coffin.

Thanks to the law professor who first thought caskets were fancy and coffins were plain until he heard from a funeral home.

This is a coffin.

   Coffin To Use

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:44 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 14, 2007

A Recreational Cemetery

In Indonesia comes plans for an upscale cemetery with a country club attached and they've already sold 1000 plots.

Death Takes a Holiday (WSJ, subscription only)
"We wanted to create something pleasant," says Viven Sitiabudi, president director of P.T. Lippo Karawaci, the Lippo Group unit developing the project. "Families should look at visiting their loved ones as a happy occasion rather than with dread."
--

The Lippo Group, run by 77-year-old banking tycoon Mochtar Riady, saw Indonesia's middle class balking at putting loved ones to rest in overcrowded government-managed cemeteries, and sensed a business opportunity.
--

San Diego Hills, which is promising never to disturb a body once buried, is already attracting interest. "It's beautiful," says Elsye Phaais, who works for the Tabita Foundation, a company that arranges burials in Jakarta for its 23,000 members. "It's different from existing cemeteries which are something frightening."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:56 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

More Anna Nicole

Sadly, Anna Nicole Smith is not resting in peace.

There is a Tug of War over Anna's Body among her mother who wants to bury her, her putative husband Howard Stern and Larry Birkhead who per court order has a legal hold on her body until a DNA sample is forthcoming.

Not to mention the possibility that the father of her baby is her dead husband via his frozen sperm.

Or is it the bodyguard?

Here's a lovely reminiscence by Larry Miller

I liked her, and so did you, even if you didn't. No one in the public eye dies without making us stop and think. Shall we turn up our noses at her because she wasn't Katharine Hepburn? She did pretty well with what she was given, so let's not scoff because she wasn't a great poet or leader. Will I mourn more deeply, say, when the sad day comes and Jimmy Carter passes away? Less, I think.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:55 AM | Permalink

February 12, 2007

The Merry Cemetery

  Romanian Gravestone
via Scribal Terror comes this Romanian gravestone

Burn in Hell you damned Taxi                       
That came from Sibiu
As large as Romania is
You couldn’t find any other place to stop
Only in front of my house
To kill me?"

She got it from The Spirit of Romania featuring the Merry Cemetery

The Merry Cemetery, an original folkloric art museum was founded in 1935 by a craftsman named Ioan Stan Patras and owes its fame to the vivid colors of the headboards on which are naively painted scenes narrating the biography of the deceased. The accompanying simple-rhyming stanzas are sometimes lyrical, sometimes ironic, but always sincere and never indulgent. The cemetery has become a chronicle of the local community.

....as a reward for its unicity and originality, Sapanta was declared the second  memorial monument of the world, right after the Egyptian Valley Of The Kings.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:39 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 10, 2007

Returning to Earth

From a review by Will Blythe entitled Food for the Soul. of Returning to Earth by Jim Harrison.

Note how he records his family's history before he goes, so the memory is not lost.

In Donald’s opening monologue, a rambling family history for the benefit of his children, recorded by Cynthia, his wife and teenage sweetheart, Donald announces, “It seems I’m to leave the earth early but these things happen to people.” His mind remains clear while his body becomes “desiccated road kill,” as K puts it. Barely able to swallow, he must sniff rather than taste a final meal of barbecued pork ribs. However, Donald doesn’t rage against the dying of the light, nor indulge in the deathbed histrionics of Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilyich. Dying seems to strike him as no more an aberration than birds returning to their roost at dusk. His mortality evokes the sense of a man going home at twilight, of — echoing the book’s lovely title — returning to earth. A luminous, sad calm pervades this novel.
---
Donald’s dignified death is of a piece with his life (my father, a doctor, once said that in his experience people died as they lived, in character right to the end).
__
This regal suicide marks only the halfway point of “Returning to Earth.” The novel’s subject now becomes an absence; Donald’s survivors must learn to negotiate the hole left in them by his departure. ... In treating the raggedy contours of grief, Harrison shows no patience with that banality known as “closure.”
“There’s much talk about ‘healing’ these days before the blood is dry on the pavement,” Donald’s brother-in-law, David, complains.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:34 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 9, 2007

Anna Nicole Smith Dies and The Mother of All Estate Battles Begins

Anna Nicole Smith, dead at 39  as reported by The New York Times
a former Playboy centerfold, actress and television personality who was famous, above all, for being famous, but also for being sporadically rich and chronically litigious, was found dead on Thursday in her suite at the Seminole Hard Rock Cafe Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla.

They also call her
obtrusively voluptuous and almost preternaturally blonde.

One of six children born to a single mother, Vickie Hogan dropped out of high school, married a chicken fry cook she met at Jim's Krispy Fried Chicken in Mexia, Texas, gave birth to son Daniel and separated from his father, all before she was 20.

She left her son with her mother to seek her fortune as a topless dancer. With her extraordinary body and beauty,  fortune she found.

   Anna Nicole Smith

She was on the cover of Playboy magazine as Playmate of the Year, took the name of Anne Nicole Smith when she signed a contract to model Guess Jeans.  She became the most famous gold digger in America when married an 89-year-old oil tycoon J Howard Marshall.    When her husband died 14 months later,  her legal battles began.

J.Howard Marshall's estate was worth $1.4 billion.
There was no pre-nuptial agreement

Anna Nicole Smith battled Marshall's stepson Pierce for her share in the estate.
She filed for bankruptcy in 1999.

In 2000, she won a $474 million judgment in a California court that was thrown out by a Texas state court.

She appealed to a federal court, took her battle to the U.S. Supreme Court and won a unanimous decision that allowed her to continue her legal battle in federal court.

In 2006, Pierce Marshall died at 67.  His widow continues the legal case in his place.

Anna Nicole gave birth in September, 2006 to a baby girl, and did not name the biological father.

Her son Daniel died 3 days later while visiting his mother and newborn sister in the hospital from a toxic combination of Zoloft, Lexapro and methadone.

Later that month, Anna Nicole and her lawyer Howard Stern exchanged commitment vows aboard a catamaran off the coast of the Bahamas.  No marriage certificate was issued.

Howard Stern's name appears on the birth certificate issued in the Bahamas.

Her former boyfriend photojournalist Larry Birkhead claims he is the biological father and has filed suit to claim paternity.

Last Wednesday, a class action suit was filed against  her and Trimspa for false and misleading marketing.  She became the spokesman for the weight loss supplement after she lost 69 pounds.

The little baby, Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern, is the sole heir-at-law.
Whoever is judged her father stands to control whatever the estate of Anna Nicole wins.

It will be a gargantuan battle of estate vs estate, that will take years to unravel.  I expect it to be  the mother of all estate battles saving Jarndyce vs. Jarndyce

Said 
Christopher Cline of the law firm Holland and Knight, who is an estate planning specialist,
he has never seen a case “with more moving parts.”

Outstanding questions include not only the paternity of her daughter, but if she died with a will and how her death will affect the lawsuit pending against the Marshall estate. It also wasn't clear where she legally lived when she died.

“It's a really large legal quagmire,” Cline said.

More in the you-can't-make-this-stuff-up department - her dead husband, over whose money everyone is fighting, was a former professor of trusts and estates at Yale Law School.

Update to more stuff you couldn't make up.  The husband of Zsa Zsa Gabor said he had a 10 year long affair with Anna Nicole and could be the father of the baby girl.  He with the title of Prince Frederick von Anhalt said Anna Nicole wanted to be a princess like Zsa Zsa.  He offered to adopt her but Gabor wouldn't sign the papers!

Update 2 -comments from around the web.

What Drew Us to Anna Nicole?

many people were hard pressed to describe what exactly Anna Nicole Smith was. Actress? Model? Reality star? Rich widow? ''I don't know exactly what she did,'' said talk show host Joy Behar, hearing the news over the phone. And yet, trying to put her finger on why we watched this strange woman over the years, she came up with two things: Dysfunction. And beauty.
---

''With Anna Nicole, she was pathetic but at the same time you thought, 'Gosh, if I could just scoop you up and fix things, it would be OK,''' said Jerry Herron, a professor of American culture at Wayne State University. ''You wouldn't want to scoop up Paris Hilton.'''

Ann Althouse
Ah, yes. The classic two types of hyper-sexualized women -- the kind you think you can help, who just really need you, and the ones who seem ready to crush you if you came anywhere near. Anna Nicole is to Paris Hilton as Marilyn Monroe is to Madonna.

Update 3
Her body will be preserved for 10 days ordered the judge in the hearing today on the request by putative dad Larry Birkhead for an emergency DNA Test "so no one could switch the baby."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:06 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 8, 2007

What to do with all your old photos

It's easier to digitize your old photos than ever before. 

First there were scanners and the price was right, about $100-$150.

Still scanning hundreds can be tedious.  If you have thousands, it's just too much.

Now there are services to do all that scanning for you.  You can mail them away, but who's really comfortable sending all their precious family photos to the mail, or even FedEx

Now, your neighborhood camera store can digitize 500 photos for about $50 thanks to new high end scanners from Kodak.

A Lifetime of Photos on a Single Disc
New Services Cheaply, Quickly Digitize Troves of Snapshots; Throwing Away the Shoebox

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:14 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

Dead Critters to Cheer Guests

Funeral Home uses dead critters to cheer guests

A stuffed squirrel clutching a fishing rod. A dead badger hefting a football for a winning pass. Other ex-rodents enjoying a carousel ride.

Welcome to the world of Sam Sanfillippo, a funeral director who has amassed a large collection of stuffed animals in unconventional scenarios to cheer up guests mourning their loved ones -- and created a mini-tourism attraction.

If you're headed to Madison, Wisconsin, it's at the Cress Funeral Home.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:03 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

The Griot Project

The Griot Project is set to record 2000 oral stories from black families

StoryCorps and the National Museum of African American History and Culture yesterday announced a collaboration to record stories of African Americans.
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The new initiative is called the StoryCorps Griot project. Over the next year the organizers plan to collect nearly 2,000 stories, principally from World War II veterans and those who were part of the civil rights movement. It is believed to be the largest effort to collect oral histories from African Americans since the Federal Writers' Project in the 1930s.

StoryCorps is a simple idea. The person talks about life's questions," said Dave Isay, who started the national oral history effort in 2003. In New York, StoryCorps has set up story booths in Grand Central Terminal and at the World Trade Center site where visitors can tell their own recollections of events, people and their families. "Our stories, the stories of ordinary people are just as important as Paris Hilton and other stories the media feeds us," Isay said.

When are you going to do your stories?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:48 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 6, 2007

Eternal Embrace

   Eternity Loving Embrace-1

For more then 5000 years, this couple has been locked in loving embrace.  Dubbed the Lovers of Valdero, the couple's bones have been excavated in Mantua where Shakespeare's Romeo was exiled.

Elena Menotti, leader of the dig said

"I am so thrilled at this find. I have been involved in lots of digs all over Italy but nothing has excited me as much as this."

"I've been doing this job for 25 years. I've done digs at Pompeii, all the famous sites.

"But I've never been so moved because this is the discovery of something special."

In the end, it's all about love, isn't it.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:29 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

The Corruption of Intimacy

What do you think about medical staff at a school of anatomy who mishandle body parts, fondle the breasts and genitals of cadavers, even use a skull for degrading purposes?

It all happened at the University of New South Wales in Australia. 

Four staff members are under investigation and the Deputy Vice Chancellor apologized for the distress the families of body donors are experiencing.

"The difficulty is we are still trying to fully understand what happened.

It's a far cry from these students who paid homage to their cadavers. with

humble observations and boundless gratitude spilled from students who'd learned much about the human body through six months of dissection
in a memorial service organized by Linda Walters, the director of anatomy at Glendale medical university.

It makes me believe this statement by Ed Brenegar I came across yesterday.

At the heart of sin is the corruption of intimacy

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:34 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

He Wanted the Stump Removed and It Killed Him

For three years 47-year-old Canadian Robert Case campaigned to have regional officials remove a tree stump from Lake St. Clair calling it a dangerous hazard. 

Last Friday he and a friend were driving their snowmobile on the ice of the great lake when Robert reached down to tie off a loose strap on the hood.  He didn't see the stump in the snow when he struck it and was killed.

The regional authority said the responsibility over the beds of the Great Lakes was that of the provincial government.

Robert's wife, now a widow after 26 years of marriage, said

"I'm still trying to understand. This is the worst thing in my life. I lost my life.
"We didn't have much but we had each other. I'm so mad at ERCA."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:22 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 5, 2007

Arsenic in the tissues

If you're going to kill your husband to collect his life insurance, best not donate his organs and tissues for medical research.

Who better to find that the donated tissues contained arsenic levels 1000 times the normal level than a scientist?

Cynthia Sommer was found guilty last week of poisoning her Marine husband to collect $250k in benefits.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:14 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

Rules for Youtube

Ann Hornaday in the Washington Post has some handy rules for YouTube videos that you should keep in mind when you make videos for your legacy archives.

Rules for YouTube: Make Art, Not Bore 

Mean it
Your limitations are your strengths
Indulge the arcane
Resist facile irony
Take us to another world
Be a star
You made us laugh, you've made us link, now make us think.

Brevity and wit should never trump soul.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:19 PM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 2, 2007

Gian Carlo Menotti R.I.P.

"The Italians are very unmusical. If I go to a Protestant church in London or Amsterdam or listen to a black choir, I hear four-part harmony. Italians could never do that. In Italy we all have to sing the melody because we cannot harmonise."

That is a remark of Gian Carlo Menotti who died yesterday in Monaco at 97.

The London Telegraph

His next opera, Amahl and the Night Visitors, was the first to be written specifically for television in America.

It was shown by NBC on Christmas Eve 1951 — the Night Visitors are the Magi —and became an annual seasonal favourite. He wrote it with the stage always in mind. "On television you're lucky if they ever repeat anything. Writing an opera is a big effort and to give it away for one performance is stupid."

Amahl, he boasted: "introduced so many people to music. I get hundreds of letters about it to this day."

According the International Herald Tribune, Menotti died peacefully, in his son's arms.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 AM | Permalink | TrackBack

February 1, 2007

Molly Ivins, R.I.P.

Even though I often disagreed with her politics, no one was a funnier political writer than Molly Ivins.  I had the good fortune of living in the same house at Smith as Molly and many were the late nights when I and many other girls gathered in a single bedroom arguing, talking and laughing with Molly.

Molly Ivins dies of breast cancer at 62
More than 400 newspapers subscribed to her nationally syndicated column, which combined strong liberal views and populist-toned humor. Ivins' illness did not seem to hurt her ability to deliver biting one-liners.

"I'm sorry to say (cancer) can kill you but it doesn't make you a better person," she said in an interview.
--

Born Mary Tyler Ivins, the California native grew up in Houston. She graduated from Smith College in 1966 and attended Columbia University's journalism school. She also studied for a year at the Institute of Political Sciences in Paris.

Boston Globe

She described herself as "a left-wing, aging-Bohemian journalist, who never made a shrewd career move, never dressed for success, never got married, and isn't even a lesbian, which at least would be interesting.

New York Times
“There are two kinds of humor,” she told People magazine. One was the kind “that makes us chuckle about our foibles and our shared humanity,” she said. “The other kind holds people up to public contempt and ridicule. That’s what I do.”
--
Her subject was Texas. To her, the Great State, as she called it, was “reactionary, cantankerous and hilarious,” and its Legislature was “reporter heaven.” When the Legislature is set to convene, she warned her readers, “every village is about to lose its idiot.”
--


While she drew important writing assignments, like covering the Son of Sam killings and Elvis Presley’s death, she sensed she did not fit in and complained that Times editors drained the life from her prose. “Naturally, I was miserable, at five times my previous salary,” she later wrote. “The New York Times is a great newspaper: it is also No Fun.”
--


Ms. Ivins learned she had breast cancer in 1999 and was typically unvarnished in describing her treatments. “First they mutilate you; then they poison you; then they burn you,” she wrote. “I have been on blind dates better than that.”

From a tribute by Anthony Zurcher

For me, Molly's greatest words of wisdom came with three children's books she gave my son when he was born. In her inimitable way, she captured the spirit of each in one-sentence inscriptions. In "Alice in Wonderland," she offered, "Here's to six impossible things before breakfast." For "The Wind in the Willows," it was, "May you have Toad's zest for life." And in "The Little Prince," she wrote, "May your heart always see clearly."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:55 AM | Permalink