Category Archives: sadness

The day I’ll always remember

Only for my family it’s today, December 22nd, and not September 3rd.

Oct 25, 1949 - Dec 22, 1991

I am not sure how others may feel when losing a parent at a young age; for me, the absence is always there. In the beginning this was “standard” personal grief, five-stages stuff, but as I’ve grown older and become a father as well, it’s less overt. It strikes me more that I’m not just missing him, directly, but missing him in relation to everyone else I love. Things are subtly out of context because he’s not with us.

For example, my son has his Baba, my wife’s dad, and each loves the other dearly. It’s a blessing and a great joy. Watching them, sometimes, the absence will suddenly poke up from the background and make itself known: my son doesn’t have both Babas there. I have no doubt that Dad would have doted to distraction on The Lad, as he would have done to my sister’s son.

My father was not one to be uninvolved. I think he would have enjoyed talking shop with my wife’s father, chatting about families, retirement, politics. I picture him still drawing, only now putting the stuff up on Instagram; getting after me to write more; finding a part-time job somewhere to enjoy during his retirement. He’d be amazed if he came back now to learn that they made three more Star Trek series, five more Star Wars films, and that my Atari 2600 games had eventually morphed into near-photo-realistic experiences, influenced heavily by the mainstreaming of anime – which he only saw on the fringes of popular culture, or else in dumbed-down, highly-edited versions for children such as Battle of the Planets, Star Blazers, or Speed Racer.

In our family he was the “everyday” cook – Mom handled holidays for the most part, and the rest of the time Dad was playing culinary Frankenstein, cadging ingredients into an impromptu family dinner. It’s been a long time since we’ve done that, and not just because all three of us kids are adults now.

He’d be stopping by during the season, jibing me for going over the top with holiday gift-giving while steadfastly forgetting that he’s the source of that habit of mine; in turn we’d tease him because his normal gruff baritone became a Michael McDonald falsetto whenever he sang. And he would laugh and sing anyway, because he loved music and it was nearly always playing in our home. He probably would have bought one of the earliest iPods and kept up with the technology the whole time, while figuring out a way to get all his albums, cassettes, and 8-tracks digitized – because why should you pay for it all twice?

I am now two years and several weeks older than he was when he passed away, twenty-five years ago today.

Here’s to you, Dad.

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Going down the valley one by one

I hate weeding through the blogroll, because it reminds me of great reads gone by, that are now bygone. Join me while I raise a glass to three more blogfriends who’ve moved on to bigger and better things:

Tracey of Beyond the Pale – a fine writer, a finer friend. Her honesty and skilled wordsmithing caused her real-life grief from small-minded busybodies, one of the many reasons why I have such a strong dislike of Gatekeepers, self-appointed taste arbiters, and buttinskies. One of my blog highlights (thankfully still there!) was winning a pound of (quite good) decaf coffee (I know, but IT WAS) and a commemorative to-go cup in one of her Best Thing Ever blog contests.

Her archives are still up, so read them. It was a great group of e-migos. Long live the Sudden Yurt Commune.

Cara Ellison – her personal blog went through a few iterations, one of which says that “after a day or two” she’ll be back. It’s dated September 1, 2014. But the lady is a professional writer, so will I gripe if we’re not getting tons of free content? Nope.

Her Amazon author’s page suggests a couple of other ways to look in on Ms. Cara. The Twitter option seems to be a no-go now, however. Searching for Cara Ellison leads to a Scottish lady who also writes and who I do not think is the same person.

The Judge Report – Robert Going, Red Sox fan and author, kind enough to send along a signed copy of his book The Eagle Has Landed to my Ladybug. He wrote a long series of livejournal posts on notable citizens of his hometown, Amsterdam NY, who had served in the US Armed Forces – a passion project of his – but has posted nothing online that I can see since November of 2014. He also did a podcast with friends of his, but again, I see no activity on that front either, unless I have snafu’d my searches (and that is a distinct possibility).

Stepping into these breaches in the sidebar are:

Don at Zoopraxiscope – his original site was in my original sidebar at Hive 1.0, so I’m glad I came across his trail again.

John C Wright – why yes, he is another professional author. Currently he’s part of some ginned-up notoriety, since his works were championed as quality science fiction writing by All The Wrong People, which led no less than George “Not J” R.R. Martin to counter-campaign in favor of torpedoing the entire Hugo Awards last year. I wrote about the whole moronic business, directly and indirectly, several times over the past year. (Have I mentioned my strong dislike of Gatekeepers?)

Do check them out, and thanks for the few faithful holdouts who still stop by.

Infinite tributes in infinite combinations

UPDATED March 1, 2015: One particular tribute that I missed, as I am not a part of this online community… but that might be the sweetest of all:

Basically, when the news came of Leonard Nimoy’s passing, Star Trek Online players decided, spontaneously and en masse, to go to virtual Vulcan and pay their respects.

It’s seriously dusty around here right now.

ORIGINAL POST: The outpouring of love and heartfelt tributes to Leonard Nimoy have been wonderful to see. And the variety! Quotes, of course. Nearly everyone had some variation of “He lived long, and prospered” when the news first broke. Others have sent out pictures, usually screenshots of Spock, but also of Nimoy in a variety of his guest roles.

The most fun one has been the Twitter hashtag “PutSpockInASong,” which has resulted in a fine paradox: people howling in laughter due to puns about the emotionless paragon of rational thought and dispassion. Yet for all that, I think it is flawlessly logical, and one hopes that he would, at least, quirk a friendly eyebrow at the foibles of humanity.

As my favorite of them (so far) put it:

Some have been touching, some absurdist, some serious, some comic… all have been heartfelt.

One thing I observe is that three men reprised their characters from the original Trek in episodes of The Next Generation – DeForest Kelly, James Doohan, and Leonard Nimoy – and now all three have boldly gone on.

(FUN FACT! Peter Duryea acted with Leonard Nimoy on Star Trek – in the original pilot, The Cage, Duryea played Lt. Jose Tyler opposite Nimoy as Mr. Spock.)

Leonard Nimoy was more than Spock, of course. He sang folk tunes, some of which were original compositions. He was a professional photographer. He wrote and directed as well as acted. He was a veteran of the US Army. He was one of three Star Trek regulars who had been on The Twilight Zone. He acted on Broadway, was the voice of a cartoon robot, and played himself as a head in a jar. (“It’s a life of quiet dignity.”)

All in all, one could do far worse.

Yeah, he was under alien influence, as would happen from time to time. Tough tribbles.

Yeah, he was under alien influence, as would happen from time to time. It still counts, so tough tribbles, nerds.

One… more… time!

The singing cowboy used to be a standard back in the 50’s. From Gene Autry, the actual “Singing Cowboy,” through Roy Rogers, on to The Mellomen (who featured the rumbling bass voice of Thurl Ravenscroft), a lot of people married the Western visual of the cowboy on the range to the songs of Country.  In 1973, Elton John could sing a twangy country-western tune [youtube, will autoplay] “of roundups and rustlers and home on the range” without any trace of hipsterism or post-modern irony.

We’ve lost one of the last of them today: the yodeling cowboy, Slim Whitman.

He maybe didn’t get a tribute quite as exotic or heartfelt as Sir Elton’s, but he was name-dropped in one of my favorite tunes:

I put on a Slim Whitman tape
Mama wore a brand-new hair net
Kids are in the back seat
Jumping up and down, saying “Are we there yet?”
And all of us were bound together in one common thought
As we rolled down the long and winding interstate in our ’53 DeSota
We’re gonna see the biggest ball of twine in Minnesota!

More importantly, he seemed like a man of decent heart and good humor, such as in the closing quote from the linked obituary above:

I don’t think you’ve ever heard anything bad about me, and I’d like to keep it that way. I’d like my son (Bryon) to remember me as a good dad. I’d like the people to remember me as having a good voice and a clean suit.

But if that’s not enough, one of the standards he had a hit with was later remade (in a matter of speaking) very famously:

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I like your eyes… I like him too

Godspeed, Mr. Brubeck.

He passed just short of 92, much as my Uncle Guy did about 18 months ago.  I mentioned him then, briefly, among other well-known folks that had enriched my life growing up.  It wasn’t very much of a tribute, but in the end, all the amazing music he wrote and performed, and the legacy of his children, are the greatest tribute.  I offer the following in that spirit.

There is something ineffably wonderful about watching these guys play; they were the heppest cats, but they looked as if they would spill a slide rule and graph paper out of their briefcase if it tipped.  Brubeck himself, in the interview segments, looks both enduringly goofy and impeccably professional.  His business was grooving out, and he was CEO… but he shows an unquenchable love and enthusiasm for music, for taking it in different directions and seeing what’s out there.  His piano was the bridge of the starship taking jazz fans to the final frontier, to boldly play what no one had heard before.

There is more on his own website, davebrubeck.com.  The site will autoplay… but for once I don’t think anyone will actually mind.

Failures in editing

Don’t worry, I’m not about to bore you with a long list of “they’re” for “their,” or herds of wandering apostrophes hoping to find contractions.  In fact, this is really just a singular failure – in both senses of that phrase.

Below is a timed screen cap of MSN.com’s front page.  See if you can spot the area of concern.

This word “legends”… I don’t think it means what you think it means.

Twenty

My father wasn’t ever a person to go easy on himself.

He had no trouble with slowing down, as long as it was something worth the time.  That list just wasn’t very long.  Family on top, his artwork next, good friends and good music… If it was on the list, he would take whatever time and effort he could to do right.

He was an avid model builder and would take painstaking trouble to get whatever effect he wanted.  If he was putting together a Panzer and a Sherman, it wasn’t enough to have them set up like showroom cars; they would invariably landd blows, with blackened cotton-ball smoke and holes from small-arms fire rising from one crippled tank, while the other advanced on worn and muddy treads.

He was just as avid a father and husband.  He did a lot of the cooking, taught us how to ride our bikes and throw and catch.  He got me started on model building, but it wasn’t something I could get into… a lot of guys might have kept after it, because unfortunately their kids are all about them instead of the other way around; Dad just found other ways to spend time with me.  He taught me chess, let me teach him video games.  My brother didn’t like chess so much, so Dad found another path with him – art.

Our sister was the apple of his eye, and I’m sure there was a path for them, but there wasn’t time to find it.

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