scarlettina: (Default)
1) I had a perfectly marvelous 55th birthday, and I'm hoping that as I have begun, so shall I continue.

2) I have acquired new tap shoes that fit me better and I'm delighted with them. I took my first class in them yesterday. My feet felt better, I didn't get unreasonably tired, and I mastered the steps we were doing a little quicker, I think, for not having to compensate for shoes that were too long. I'm actually looking forward to practicing!

3) I am excited about the new Doctor. It was time for a woman and I find myself ready to reengage with the series. I liked Matt Smith well enough but found the storytelling in his seasons weirdly disjointed. I liked Peter Capaldi, but after disengaging with Matt Smith's Doctor, I found myself unable to reengage. I am curious and excited about Jodie Whittaker as 13. I'm in and look forward to her premiere. When, now, is the regeneration episode?

4) Farewell to actor Martin Landau and director/auteur George Romero. Landau looms largest in my experience as Commander Koenig of Moon Base Alpha in Space: 1999 and, of course, as Bela Lugosi in the film "Ed Wood." I know, I know, Mission: Impossible--but I was too young to be captured by it at the time. As for Romero, he changed the world with "Night of the Living Dead." He certainly changed the horror genre, giving us a new kind of monster that has survived generations and multiple iterations. Respect to both of these gentlemen.

5) I need to devote a couple of evenings to finishing laying down the ideas for the board game I've been thinking about. This idea will not let go.
scarlettina: (Five)
The to-do list: I made a "To do" list this morning. It has 16 things on it. I've done four. They were time-consuming, but they are done. I still, however, am staring 12 things to do in the face. I am comforted by the fact that some of these things are things I can't do on a Sunday. Some require leaving the house (I'm still in my nightshirt and sweats [see time stamp]). And apparently I needed an epic nap today (three hours). So of the things that require neither leaving the house nor doing on a Sunday, that leaves only eight things. I, um, ought to get right on those.

Halloween: Attended the one and only Halloween party to which I was invited last night. (Well, two, actually, but the first one was more of a stop-and-hop.) It was . . . not quite what I expected, but that's OK. I wore the black leather halter top with a white peasant shirt, black leggings and black leather boots, and called myself a generic fantasy villain. If I work in the office tomorrow, I have a different costume planned. Will I do my annual Halloween post here? We'll see. I don't believe I did one last year. Hm.

Sophie: Sophie has developed some unfortunate bathroom habits. I'm going to call the vet on Monday to get her checked for UTI and possible referral to a behaviorist. This CANNOT go on. At the same time, I find myself wondering if she is keying off of my own personal distress. If that's the case, this might go on for a while.

Exercise: This weather (dark, cold, rainy, wolves) is not encouraging me to exercise. Tonight, I'm going to try on every piece of workout clothing in the house, pack my gym bag, and hit the gym at the office. The price is right (free) and it's stupid not to take advantage of it.

David Delamare: My friend WI has made it public, so I wanted to make a note of the passing of her incredibly gifted husband, artist/musician/writer David Delamare. Wendy, David and I have been acquaintances for years, but we'd only begun to really get to know each other in the last two years or so. I was one of the proofer/editors on their Alice in Wonderland project, something I was delighted to be a part of. When I learned of his death about a month ago, it was a shock because it was so completely unexpected. My prevailing feeling is one of disappointment because, as we'd been getting to know each other, I was discovering how much we had in common and how wonderful it would be to get David's perspective on things we both enjoyed. Wendy's mourning for David has in many ways been more of a celebration of his life, and so I am following suit, remembering our brief friendship and trying to pursue my own arts in whatever way I can to honor him.

Kate

Wed, Oct. 5th, 2016 06:48 am
scarlettina: (Candle)
My friend [livejournal.com profile] kateyule died this afternoon after struggling with brain cancer. Kate and I have known each other 20+ years and were very close the last ten or so. We shared a lot of things--art and craft and books and some very personal things. She was funny and very smart, very practical and creative. Kate and her husband [livejournal.com profile] davidlevine and I went to Disney World together, perhaps one of my favorite memories with her; we had so much fun. I introduced her to pin collecting, and she put up with my penny smashing. We did the Buzz Lightyear ride together twice because it was her favorite, and I still have the picture of the two of us madly shooting at aliens. Kate and I baked cookies for David when he took his simulated Mars trip. Astronaut cookies. When she went to the hospital for her first brain surgery I was there with David and her family for the three or four days she had to stay. I couldn't be anywhere else. When I was in the hospital she and David came to see me. That was the last time I saw her, standing at the end of my hospital bed, as I'd stood at the end of hers. I wrote her a note a couple of weeks ago to thank her for, well, everything we shared. David said she smiled when she read it. She knew I loved her. And now she's gone.
scarlettina: (Rainy Day)
1) Here in Seattle this morning, it is, in fact, raining like the Biblical flood is coming. Here's the thing: Seattle rain isn't usually torrential. Usually, it's mist or drizzle that just lasts and lasts. Actual, umbrella-requiring rain happens rarely here. Our volume comes from duration, not saturation. So to wake up to the sound of hard rain on the roof (and the balcony, and the pavement in the courtyard) is unusual. I am not looking forward to braving the storm to get to work.

2) Zeke has been super-needy lately. I have to play with him all the time. I wake up to him snuggling and kneading me, which then requires petting and scritching until he settles down to sleep. It's made it hard to give cuddle- and playtime to Sophie. I dislike his monopolizing my time. He's gotten very possessive and I have no idea why or what's going on. I want some time with my girl and need to figure out a way to get it.

3) Next week is the final measure for the bathroom renovation. It means that work will start within 2-3 weeks. I'm excited about this; it's been a long time coming and when it's done, I'll have a lovely new bathroom--with real tile and everything. Right now, that bathroom has linoleum and one of those one-piece shower-stall insets. And the shower surround is safety glass, with visible wire running through the panes. It's not ugly per se, but no one could call it pretty. It will be more attractive when it's done, and far more usable overall, I think.

4) I am reading Marie Brennan's Voyage of the Basilisk, the third volume in her Memoirs of Lady Trent series, and enjoying it quite a bit. I like her dragonologist and her rich world descriptions. It's a fast read and an engaging one.

5) Passages: The news of editor David Hartwell's death has spread like wildfire through the science fiction and fantasy community. Though I didn't know him well, and had mixed feelings about our few encounters, there's no question he was a major influence in the field and leaves behind him a legacy of novelists and editors whose careers were made or changed as a result of his work. Respect.
scarlettina: (Candle)
I'm not going to say much, but something had to be said.

David Bowie's music was hugely important to me in college and thereafter. I saw him live in concert three times, and every time I was blown away by the music and by his remarkable presence. He was beautiful, charismatic, and stylish in every sense of the word. His music is an indelible part of the soundtrack of my life. I was never a huge fan of his acting work, to be honest (though he was terrific as Tesla in "The Prestige" and uncomfortably riveting in "Labyrinth"), but the music? Yeah. Over and over again forever. Thanks, David Bowie, for all of it.

I first encountered Alan Rickman's work in "Truly, Madly, Deeply," which I saw in the company of [livejournal.com profile] dochyel decades ago at an art house in New York City. We took that word game to ourselves as a matter of course for at least two years afterwards, and I proceeded to keep an eye out for Rickman thereafter. I never saw his first Hollywood film (that little action flick, "Die Hard,"), an obvious hole in my cinematic education that I need to fill--but I've seen so much of his other work. I loved him in "Galaxy Quest" and "Sense & Sensibility" (a film that will never gets old for me). Of course, his presence in the Potter films is a delight. And I just love-love-love his put-upon, sarcastic Metatron in "Dogma," one of the best things in a hugely entertaining and thoughtful movie. I had the great good fortune to see him live in "Seminar" on Broadway, and to meet him ever-so-briefly afterwards while waiting at the stage door. Rickman was a treasure to movie- and theater-goers, and was a screen presence who I'll sorely miss.
scarlettina: (Trouble get behind me)
My cousin Paul passed away yesterday. The cause was pancreatic cancer. He was 71.

Paul was my father's sister's son. He was 17 years older than me, so we didn't really know each other growing up. He became a doctor, served in Vietnam as a doctor. He became a specialist in what the profession calls electrophysiology, but what we think of as pacemakers. He had 104 pacemaking patents to his credit, published more than 20 peer-reviewed papers, and became not just an educator on the subject but actually wrote the test for others to qualify. He was known all over the world. As a member of the Heart Rhythm Society, he initiated the Honor Your Mentor program to honor those who have made a difference in the electrophysiology profession. His work helps keep my friend [livejournal.com profile] varina8 alive and healthy, along with so many others. He was married twice. His first wife, Lucille, kept him focused on her family, so we didn't see much of him over the years at all. He was devoted to his god daughters. After Lucille passed away, he began to reconnect with our family. It was a joy to see him remarried last year to a lovely woman named Susan, whom I hope to keep in my life. She brought him back to us, and I hate that she had him for so short a time.

Paul's great passion, besides his wives and his work, was butterflies. As a boy, he caught, pinned and framed them. As a man, he traveled the world to photograph them and share his pictures and his knowledge with others. He became a docent at the Placerita Canyon Nature Center and he loved the work.

He was a gentle man with a big heart. It's only within the last couple of years that we got to know each other at all. And now he's gone. There wasn't enough time.
scarlettina: (Candle)
On Sunday morning at 7 AM, my friend Margaret's husband Bruce passed away after a five-year struggle with colon cancer. Bruce was a film enthusiast of the first order, a reader, a maker, a master of the obscure detail, and a science fiction fan. He always had something he'd want to share. His first instinct was always to be generous, offering help if it seemed to be needed. And he very much loved Margaret.

Bruce went into the hospital last Wednesday with a serious case of jaundice. I visited him on Thursday night at the hospital. We talked about movies. He told me, "I'm glad you came. I've always liked you," which nearly wiped me out right there. He was lucid and present and could carry on a conversation, though obviously in great physical discomfort. I went back to the hospital on Friday evening, and he couldn't say anything except to answer direct questions about his physical state. He was having spasms and a great deal of nausea. By the time I left, the doctor had dosed him up pretty significantly and he was sleeping. He passed away a little more than a day later.

Margaret is with her family for the week; she's in good hands.

As almost always seems to be the case, I feel like there were things I wanted to say and didn't. I don't do well at deathbeds, apparently, but then I suppose no one really does. Or perhaps I was in denial, despite understanding at a fundamental level on Friday night that I was standing at his deathbed. Bruce has always come back from his hospital visits; he seemed to tolerate his cancer treatments better than almost anyone I've seen. Margaret said that up until two weeks ago, his only real symptom was fatigue. It rapidly became clear, though, that he wasn't coming back from this one.

You'll be missed, Bruce. Rest easy, man. You deserve it.
scarlettina: (Candle)
[livejournal.com profile] davidlevine said to me once that fannish friendships are years long and weekends deep. That describes a number of friendships for me, but especially so my friendship with Peggy Rae, whom I just learned via Facebook that we lost yesterday. I met Peggy Rae at one of the Baltimore conventions. I'm pretty sure it was Balticon; it might have been a Worldcon. It was so long ago now--before I moved to Seattle--that my memory is uncertain. But we met, we made a pretty instant connection, and then we'd see each other at conventions whenever we could. She was ebullient, was Peggy Rae, enthusiastic, always interested and interesting. Generous. Empathetic. Funny. Marvelously capable, she chaired WorldCons and participated in convention-running like no one else. She helped build the science fiction community in a way not a lot of other folks have done.

My memories of her are not specific, partly because my memory is pretty lousy, and partly because Peggy Rae was always an emotional experience for me. A cloud of good feeling and fun. We saw each other at some convention in the last couple of years; I don't remember which one. It may have been OryCon or Norwescon. She invited me then to contribute a story to the World Fantasy anniversary anthology. I told her that most of my published short fiction that I was really, truly proud of was more SF and horror than fantasy and she said she didn't care; she just wanted me in there, so I sent her a contribution which she enthusiastically accepted. More recently, we were talking about getting together at this year's Potlatch. Then she announced that she was going in for heart surgery, specifically a valve transplant.

I realized earlier last week that I hadn't heard from her or her husband John and sent along a note to find out how she was doing. This morning, I saw the news that she'd passed away; apparently she'd never properly recovered from the surgery. Peggy Rae was such a big force in fandom, chairing conventions and just being this amazing, loving presence. Her loss is huge in the community.

I was so looking forward to seeing her at Potlatch. When that didn't work out, we said we'd see each other at WorldCon. I'm so sad about her death. Even though we saw each other maybe once a year, maybe for just an hour or two, I'm going to miss her. Weekends deep, but decades long.

ETA: John Scalzi eulogizes Peggy Rae at Whatever.

Leonard Nimoy

Fri, Mar. 13th, 2015 07:55 am
scarlettina: (To Boldly Go)
In writing about Terry Pratchett's death, it occurred to me that I never wrote about Leonard Nimoy's passing, the end of a life far more consequent to mine that Sir Terry's. Nimoy died while I was away at the Rainforest Writers Village at the end of February where internet access was unreliable. He was 83 years of age, and was another man who lived life fully and well.

Here's the thing: I don't remember a life without Star Trek, which means that I don't remember a world without Spock, a character created by Gene Roddenberry, embodied by Nimoy, and fleshed out by decades of writers both professional and fannish (including myself). Star Trek literally changed my life. It was my first taste of science fiction, and Spock was an inextricable part of that. Nimoy's devotion to the role, his passion for getting the character right, his infusion of Spock with nobility, thoughtfulness, and spirituality made the character more substantial than almost any other character in the media side of the genre until that time.

Star Trek brought me to science fiction. Science fiction brought me to friends, to fanfic, to a career, and to a life I would never have had otherwise. And it was a delight when I got to work with the property in a professional capacity at Bantam Books.

Leonard Nimoy helped make Trek the indelible cultural touchstone it's become, the indelible personal touchstone it became for me. Respect, sir, and thank you for your work.

"Of all the souls I have encountered in my travels, his was the most ... human."
--Captain James T. Kirk

""He's really not dead ... as long as we remember him."
--Dr. Leonard McCoy

Terry Pratchett

Fri, Mar. 13th, 2015 07:12 am
scarlettina: (Candle)
I've never read a Terry Pratchett book. I know, I know. You don't have to say it. I never had the privilege of meeting the man. Here's what I want to say about his passing. My Facebook and LiveJournal feeds are full of anecdotes about him. They are part personal experience with him and part reminiscence about reading his work, about the joy his work brought, about how smart and funny it is, about how smart and funny and kind he was.

First, if any of us are remembered with even half the love and goodwill this man is, we will have done life right in a manner of which we can be proud. Second, I find it extraordinary that I'm fortunate enough to travel in a circle blessed with his presence and with personal reminiscences about him. How lucky are my friends to have even had a passing moment with him! Of the millions of readers who mourn his passing only as a name on a book cover, how lucky are we few to have been in such close proximity. What a fortunate community we share.

Respect, Sir Terry. You did it right. And yes, I promise, I'll read your work. Should have done it sooner.

“I meant," said Ipslore bitterly, "what is there in this world that truly makes living worthwhile?"
Death thought about it.
CATS, he said eventually. CATS ARE NICE.”
― Terry Pratchett, Sourcery
scarlettina: (Angel)
It pleases me that the articles I started on Wikipedia about elongated coins and exonumia have thrived and grown as they have. From such tiny seeds are fully developed Wikipedia entries made. I'm also pleased that the awards section I added to the entry on Slings & Arrows has remained largely untouched. Guess I did good work there, too. One must find validation where one can.

It pleases me to see that attitudes toward animals and animal rights are slowly shifting. When New York Times Magazine covered the work of a lawyer trying to gain personhood for primates under US law, I found myself in complete agreement with his arguments. No, I'm not a vegetarian and I am unlikely to become one. Does that make me hypocritical? Well, OK, then, I can live with that. Still, given all the things we've learned about animal cognition, self awareness, and social structures, a little bit of thought about those with whom we share the planet is long past due.

And speaking of those with whom we share the planet, this story about a bull elephant poached from Tsavo East National Park (close to where I spent my time in Kenya) makes me unspeakably sad. We've got to stop this sort of thing. (Warning: This article includes a couple of graphic pictures of what was left of the elephant when the poachers were done with him. Horrifying.)

Tonight while trying to tidy the house ("trying" being the operative word), I discovered my Rolodex from, oh, at least 15 years ago. Yes, an honest-to-goodness Rolodex-brand phone directory (this style specifically), with little plastic protectors for the business cards I stored on it. It's an interesting walk through the past, with business cards from defunct companies, a couple of cards from people who have passed away, contact information for people I know have moved from the listed addresses or people I haven't spoken to in a decade or more. There are at least a couple of hand-typed contact cards in this thing. I don't know why, but when I tried to throw it away, I couldn't make myself do it. It's not like I need to have it in the house. It's . . . a souvenir from a different life, my full-time publishing life. Kind of amazing to me.

Farewell to author Daniel Keyes, whose "Flowers for Algernon" left an indelible impression on a young science fiction reader 35 years ago. She still hasn't forgotten that work.
scarlettina: (Trouble get behind me)
So . . . [livejournal.com profile] jaylake died yesterday. A lot of pixels have been spilled in memoriam. I posted some words at Facebook, loving words in praise of my friend, my occasional lover--that was year and years ago now, and I know I'm not alone in this particular distinction by any means--a brilliant man. (Find those words below, written within hours of his death.) He was also an infuriating man: kind, vain, hilarious, oblivious, egotistical, generous, angry, affectionate, childish, maddening. A frustrating, entertaining, crazy-making, inventive man. An imperfect person by anyone's definition--and by his own admission, to his credit. (Thus speaketh the most imperfect of people, I must note, in justice.)

I have been in pieces over the last day. Fine until I had to talk about his passing, and then a mess, and then fine again.

My feelings about his departure are complex. I'm grateful that he was with his closest loved ones in death. I'm relieved on his behalf that cancer, this miserable disease, no longer tortures him with its slow stripping of his mind and his capabilities. I weep in losing him. How can I not, when we have the kind of history we had with each other?

He was my beloved friend. For every good and blessed thing we shared, for differences in perspective, for being close and being distant and being close again, we were first and foremost friends.

I mourn my friend, and I will miss him.
--------------------------------------

Here's what I posted to Facebook, describing Jay to a friend who never knew him, who barely had ever even heard of him:

Jay was a remarkable person. The two of you came from such different parts of my life: let me tell you about him. Not only was he an award-winning science fiction and fantasy writer (Google him, really), he blogged about his journey through colon cancer with a frankness that was bracing and breathtaking. He gained a huge following for his blogging--almost as large if not larger--than for his beautifully wrought fiction. He was ferociously, blasphemously funny, a fierce and generous friend, an intensely thoughtful man. He loved women. [ETA: As many as he could, as often as possible.] He was unabashedly political and unapologetically outspoken about the things he believed in. In science fiction circles, he was known for being not just a gifted writer but a terrific editor and a mentor for writers coming up. He supported all of his friends in the endeavors of their hearts, whether it was writing or illustration or any other art form. He loved living and lived loud and with enormous brio. Our friendship was long and loving and complex--but never, ever boring. I knew I could count on Jay if I needed him. It is not too dramatic to say that a light has gone out of this world. He shined so bright that I--that we all--had to wear shades.
--------------------------------------

Please keep Jay's partner, Lisa, Jay's daughter, [livejournal.com profile] the_child, and his family in your thoughts. And if you're so inclined, please donate in his honor to The Jo Clayton Memorial Fund. It helped Jay when he needed it; he wanted it to help others in their times of need as well.
scarlettina: (Candle)
So last weekend, while I was at Foolscap, word came that Philip Seymour Hoffman, one of the greatest actors of his generation, had died of a heroin overdose. I've been a fan of Hoffman's for years. He brought warmth and depth and humanity to every role he ever played; I don't think he was capable of giving a bad performance. And now he's gone, the last image left: a dead man with a needle in his arm. It just makes me weep.

I've been upset about the deaths of other famous people before, actors and celebrities that I grew up following or who influenced me in some fashion. But for some reason, nearly a week later, I'm still upset about Hoffman's death. It's not like I knew him or anything. I think it's the senselessness in his death, the idea that a man so gifted was so unhappy, so challenged by life that a dangerous, augmented reality was preferable to the purity of an unaltered experience. He's not unusual in this, I know. I just . . . mourn the performances we'll never see. His family and friends have my sympathy.

I first noticed him in "Twister," in what for some actors would have been a throw-away role in a middling disaster/adventure flick (that I admit I'm still rather fond of). But he managed to make Dusty, a stormchasing hippy, memorable, loveable, entertaining. After that I watched for him in other movies. The next thing I saw him in was "Patch Adams" in a role that couldn't have been more different. Then "Magnolia" and "State and Main" and "Capote" and the list goes on from there. I still have a number of his movies to see, and rented two of them last night--"The Master" (which I watched last night: challenging, brilliant) and "Almost Famous"--to watch in the coming week. His filmography is larger than I realized, so I have more movies in which to discover and enjoy his work. I'm just terribly sorry that there won't be even more.
scarlettina: (Candle)
It's been that kind of week-and-a-half. I posted briefly about the death of my brilliantly gifted cousin St. Martins VP Matt Shear while I was in New York. While I was traveling, we all received the wonderful news that [livejournal.com profile] mrdorbin and [livejournal.com profile] southplains became the fathers of a beautiful baby girl. And then this week, in rapid succession, we lost both the brilliant and gentlemanly author Frederik Pohl and the brilliant, ebullient, and fierce author and author's advocate Ann Crispin. When mortality hits, it hits hard.

I'm grateful to have known, even at a warm-acquaintance distance, Ann Crispin. My introduction to her work was inauspicious. I received her book, Yesterday's Son, as a gift from my cousin Eric, who wasn't fond of her as a person (they were coworkers) but who knew I was a Star Trek fan. She autographed the book to me for him, nevertheless, but he colored my initial perception of her with his presentation. When I finally met her, she was a large, enthusiastic, energetic presence, and I liked her despite my conditioning. That conditioning rapidly dissipated. We were ever close? No. But because her energy was infectious and her smile immediate, every meeting was like meeting an old friend all over again. The last time I saw her, I ran into her completely unexpectedly at the Museum of Natural History in NYC a couple of Christmases ago. We chatted quickly and with great energy in that massively confused crowd, and I regretted that the visit was so brief. I'm glad to have had it at all.

I met Fred Pohl at the very first Foolscap. He was there as one of the two guests of honor. (The other was Ginjer Buchanan, creating an automatic theme for the weekend.) He was gracious to everyone, generous with his time, and he dazzled this fan, who had read his novel Gateway (and the other Heechee books) very early on in her history as an SF reader.

I haven't said much about Matthew's death because it's a complicated thing for me. Matt was my first cousin and, like all my cousins but one, older than me--some by a decade and more. As adults, the age difference shouldn't have made a difference, but as children, 6 years was an uncrossable chasm. And so, growing up, I suspect he always thought of me as a kid, and I always thought of him as part of the older-cousin cohort. It meant that our relationship was well-intentioned but not close. The peculiar thing is that it might have been and never was. He was already an officer at Bantam when I started in publishing. I never talked about our relationship with coworkers because I wanted my career to be my own, and I didn't spend any time with him for the same reason. But given that we both loved books and the business, we might have been closer. It just . . . never happened. My family had started to disintegrate after my mother's death. With the death of Matt's father (my mother's brother) it shattered completely. Once I left for Seattle, my only ties were my brother and my cousin E--and that's pretty much how it stayed. So when I got the news of Matthew's death from a publishing friend--and I happened to be in New York--I knew I had to go to the funeral to pay my respects and try to reconnect with that side of the family.

I did not anticipate the welcome I received. My aunt dissolved into tears when she saw my brother and me. My cousin S, Matt's sister, did as well, saying that I looked about 16. I was moved in ways I hadn't expected. After the service, my aunt and my cousin and I spent hours talking. In the end, though Matt and I weren't close, he brought me back to family.

I have a lot more I want to say about all this, but I have more processing to do. I don't know how things are going to play out with that side of the family from here. I hope we can continue to be in touch. My aunt is in her early 80s and at this point I suspect her time is limited though she looks good and seems to get around well. My cousin S and I have lived very different lives, but I want to try to find some commonality with her.

Like I said, I have more thinking to do. Mortality will do that to you.

Plans change

Thu, Aug. 29th, 2013 04:19 pm
scarlettina: (Trouble get behind me)
Got word earlier today (but after I posted) that my cousin Matthew Shear, SVP at St. Martin's Press, passed away. Our plans are in flux; all I know for sure is that we're headed into the city tomorrow to attend his funeral. I just got back from shopping for appropriate clothes. This isn't the way I'd hoped to spend my vacation, but it is absolutely the right--and terrible--thing to do. ::sigh::

ETA: Beautiful tribute to my cousin Matt over on Tor.com.

ETA again: More coverage on Matt's death found at the New York Times and ABCNews.com among others (including Publisher's Lunch).
scarlettina: (Blue)
It must be convention hangover and the weather. I don't want to see anyone or do anything. And Roger Ebert has died, which dims the world's light in general.

I'm having a hard time right now expressing myself about much of anything--which is annoying because I actually have a number of things I want to write about. (That plus the fact that I wrote two thirds of a long LJ entry that appears to have been lost in email, about which I'm mightily frustrated.) I'm pretty sure it's because the weather has turned gray, cloudy, and rainy. I kind of hate bus commuting in the rain. And I need some time under a full-spectrum light. Or the sun. Whichever comes first.

Part of it, I think, is that last night Zeke knocked over a pile of stuff that included copies of the program I created for [livejournal.com profile] markbourne's life celebration. It's the first time I've looked at it in a year. It's full of everyone else's writing, not mine, mainly because I couldn't find words to express anything I was feeling about Mark's death. I still can't--no words, just tears still. But I put it together. I chose the content. I did what I do best in honor of him: I edited. I guess that's something anyway.

Phil Gellis

Thu, Dec. 27th, 2012 08:47 am
scarlettina: (Candle)
This is what I get for making an In Memoriam post. Immediately after I posted, I went over to Facebook . . . to discover that one of my oldest friends--whom most of my West Coast friends never knew--died yesterday from complications in the wake of open heart surgery. Phil and I went waaay back and had a long, loving, complicated history with each other. For me his death is layered with love and frustration, friendship and regret.

Phil and I met shortly after I graduated from college via [livejournal.com profile] setsyoustraight at her birthday party. He was sharp and funny and thoughtful. He was, first and foremost, an actor, singer, and director, huge in the Long Island regional theater community. (You can see him here performing Tom Lehrer's Masochism Tango and performing something from his beloved Gilbert and Sullivan. His greatest love was playing Sancho in "Man of LaMancha." It was a role he never grew tired of playing--that and Nicely Nicely from "Guys and Dolls".) He paid the bills by being a travel agent. He loved baseball and theater. And he was a loyal, devoted father. We dated. We broke up. We were, above anything else, good, good friends--for years and years. A lot of the Broadway shows I saw, I saw in Phil's company. We talked about books and games. We talked about travel, politics, friends, relationships. A lot of our friendship over the last twenty years was preserved through cross-country phone calls. I worried about his health from the very first time we met; he'd always had weight challenges and health issues. He'd always insist, despite gout and diabetes, that he was fine, healthy as he could possibly be. He was divorced when I met him, and married again twice over the years--his last wife is a lovely woman and I know she made him very happy.

When I read on Facebook on December 19 that he was going in for open heart surgery, I was both unsurprised and worried. He'd never been a healthy man. And it's not like such things haven't gone bad before. As it turned out, they went bad again, and now Phil is gone.

I'm so grateful to have had his friendship. I'm so grateful to have seen the shows he was in and to have attended shows with him. I'm so sorry for the times I wasn't the best friend I might have been. But most of all, I'm so grateful to have had the time together that we had. The last thing I said to him was in a Facebook post, telling him to take care and do what the doctors told him to do. I know he did. I just regret that there wasn't one last phone call.

In Memoriam 2012

Thu, Dec. 27th, 2012 07:35 am
scarlettina: (Candle)
It occurred to me yesterday, after writing about Jack Klugman, that I failed to note a number of notable deaths this year. This is by no means a complete list but rather a list of famous people whose deaths I noticed that were of some significance to me somehow. They're also people whose deaths I didn't note at the time. We're seeing a particular generation pass--the entertainers of the 1960s and 1970s--and it does make one pause. Feel free to comment or share those who've passed this year that you noticed in particular.

(It occurs to me, as I review this list, that I watched a lot of TV when I was a kid. A lot.)

Ravi Shankar: The second rock concert I ever attended was George Harrison's Dark Horse tour. I was, I think, around 12 or 13 years old, certainly no more than that. Shankar opened for Harrison and, while I didn't really understand his music, I did understand that I was hearing something different and that Shankar was doing something important. That something was introducing world music to the west, something for which I'm quite glad.

Larry Hagman: The heck with Dallas. My brother and I were children of the Space Age, and a big part of that experience was growing up with Major Nelson and his sexy genie Jeannie. The idea that astronauts had anything like normal lives outside of their space capsules, that this was a job someone could actually do, was a new idea to me, even if it was introduced by a ridiculous, sexist sitcom. Still, there it was. We watched "I Dream of Jeannie" faithfully as geek kids with an interest in science and space; it was, weirdly, a show that continued to foster our interest, and Hagman was the astronaut who came home over and over again. (It was also the first show I can remember watching and waiting for the central couple to kiss. And waiting. And waiting.)

Neil Armstrong: The real deal. I remember watching his first steps on the moon on TV in black and white. I remember thinking, even at such a young age, that his words as he stepped into the regolith were clever and appropriate. He helped demonstrate what we were capable of as Americans, as humans.

Phyllis Diller: Though her comedy was never really to my taste, I remember her braying laugh and her crazy looks on everything from The Tonight Show to Hollywood Squares to all the talk shows that aired in my youth. She broke a lot of ground for the women comics who followed her.

Helen Gurly Brown: Editor of Cosmo for something like 30 years, she changed the appearance and content of women's magazines. For better (or worse, depending upon your perspective) she made many of them what they are today--more about what women wanted and how they could have it than about what men thought women ought to be. I can't help but be grateful for her contributions to the women's revolution.

Sherman Hemsley: George Jefferson--another break-out television character who helped to change things in the media. But I thought Hemsley was terrific no matter what he appeared in. One of my favorite episodes of the '80s Twilight Zone starred him and Ron Glass, an 8-minute vignette that still makes me smile. (And you can see it on YouTube.)

Sally Ride: The first American woman in space. We are strong. We are invincible. We are Woman.

Davy Jones: The first band of which I was ever a fan was The Monkees, and Davy Jones the first pop singer I ever had a crush on. It was a baby crush; I was practically a baby. But it was a rite of passage as surely as discovering The Beatles was a few years later. (I was a child of television--of course I discovered The Monkees first; I had no idea they were take-off on this obscure British band. ::grin::)

Robert Hegyes: Juan Epstein on "Welcome Back Kotter." My brother and I watched the show faithfully, and Juan Epstein, the Puerto Rican Jew (who made much more sense to a kid from New York than he probably did to people outside the tri-state area), was my favorite sweathog. Vinnie Barbarino was kind of a moron. Epstein, somehow, had something else, at least for me.

Other people whose passing I noticed but don't bear quite as much weight for me include Ernest Borgnine, Andy Griffith (everyone wanted an Aunt Bea), Richard Dawson (I watched Family Feud from early on), and Dick Clark (between American Bandstand and Rockin' New Year's Eve, he was ever-present).
scarlettina: (Christmas ornament)
1) Had a really great holiday weekend. Attended [livejournal.com profile] varina8's Post-Apocalyptic Solstice Gathering. Had delicious dim sum on the day before Christmas with a group of friends at Jade Garden in the International District and then saw Life of Pi with [livejournal.com profile] oldmangrumpus. And then had dinner on Christmas Day with [livejournal.com profile] grubbstreet, his lovely bride, and a cast of delightful irregular regulars. I feel as though we rang this holiday weekend for all it was worth.

2) Having observed the traditional practice of Chinese food and a movie on Christmas, I am delighted to learn that "a lost Talmudic tractate has been discovered that answers age-old rabbinic questions about the appropriate way for Jews to fully accomplish the obligations associated with eating Chinese food on December 24th/25th." In something of a rare occurrence, I have, for once, correctly practiced a mitzvah, according to the rabbis. I await the discovery of the Tractate Cinema to be sure that I've accomplished both mitzvot appropriately.

3) I am down to the last two calendar pages in my Moleskine calendar notebook for the year. They are remarkably blank. I don't know whether to make a point to fill them up or to keep them blank to ensure some quiet time for reading, cleaning, and contemplation, all of which I'd like to have. I look to next year's notebook with anticipation, all clean and pristine, yet unblemished by a year's worth of jostling about in my pocketbook and note-making in restaurants and coffee shops, among other things.

4) Life of Pi was an absolutely beautiful movie. Visually it was just stunning and the story, with its twist ending, is remarkable. While I don't think anyone is going to be nominated for an acting Oscar, I wouldn't be surprised to see a raft of technical award nominations for the film. Ang Lee has created something quite special and used 3D in the best possible way. I enjoyed the movie quite a bit.

5) There's still a whole list of movies I want to see. Let's see: Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Argo, Flight, Hitchcock, Anna Karenina, The Sessions, Chasing Ice. I've already seen Skyfall which I thought was one of the best Bond films we've had in a while, Lincoln which was remarkable and which I may have to see again, and The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey which was overlong, self-indulgent and yet still entertaining and well worth seeing (though I don't expect to see it again in the theater even though Richard Armitage alone is worth spending the money to see). Previews and Streisand made me want to see The Guilt Trip for its sheer ridiculousness, but given its Rotten Tomatoes rating, I don't think I'll be able to make myself do it. I'm also trying to find a way to make myself find Silver Linings Playbook more appealing since it's getting all sorts of Oscar buzz, but I haven't been successful so far. It has been suggested that I see Holy Motors; I need to learn more about it first.

Plus one: Rest in peace, Mr. Jack Klugman. I grew up watching "The Odd Couple" on television, with Klugman's joyously schlubby presence the perfect foil for Tony Randall's fuss-budget persnicketiness. I grew to really respect him not for his comedy but for the humanity he brought to his dramatic roles. He was a terrific actor and I loved watching him whenever the chance presented itself. Thanks for hours of entertainment, Mr. Klugman, as well as for your activist work connected to the Orphan Drug Act. You made a difference in the world, an admirable legacy indeed.
scarlettina: (Five)
1) I committed to wearing a costume at work on Halloween. What was I thinking? ::headdesk::

2) Took a class in metal stamping at Fusion Beads on Tuesday evening. All that hammering was quite therapeutic! I came away with a couple of pieces for myself and at least one, possibly two gifts. It's fun to learn new techniques and I liked this one a great deal, but the start-up cost to move into this area of jewelry making seems prohibitive to me--hundreds of dollars to set up a proper workbench, though you wouldn't guess it by just looking at the tools. I'll dabble here.

3) When I work at home, Sophie has taken to curling up under the desk. But she's also taken to trying to nibble on my toes while she's there. I need to address this somehow.

4) I'm working on a Sekrit Projekt. More when it concludes and isn't a sekrit anymore.

5) Lighting a virtual candle in remembrance of Janet Berliner-Gluckman. My heart goes out to [livejournal.com profile] robertlfleck and all those who knew and loved Janet. I knew her in the early years of my publishing career, and saw her once or twice when I moved out west. I remember her as a smart, sly, funny presence at conventions and at dinners, sharp as hell, supportive of the writers around her, ambitious and talented.

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