kip_w: (miner)
Q: What can possibly make this 1978 "Dating Game" clip even creepier?

A: The winning bachelor's conviction on charges of serial killing going back to 1971. But just barely.

(Not much of a mystery, with the title proudly emblazoned in the video.)
kip_w: (company)
One of my favorite TV stars has passed on. Sheriff Andy Taylor, Matlock, whatever you remember him as.

I first knew him from his comedy record, "What It Was, Was Football," which he recorded in 1953, and which was still being sold in the record store where Dad had his studio in the early 1960s. He broke through to fame with "No Time for Sergeants," first on stage and then as a movie (he teamed with Don Knotts for the first time in the stage show). In 1957 he was daring enough to star in <i>A Face in the Crowd</i>, which turned his folksy persona on his ear by making him an outwardly charming snake in the grass with a mean temper.

My favorite role of his might be the bad-guy rancher in <a href="">Rustler's Rhapsody</a>, where he was perhaps the only sane person in a movie full of western stereotypes. The scene linked shows some of what he did with the part, as well as setting up another classic moment later in the movie.

Griffith reprised his role as Andy Taylor in a couple of parodies. When Ron Howard hosted Saturday Night Live, he makes a cameo in a take-off on his old show (where Opie returns to find that Mayberry has become a sink of corruption and villainy), and they also harked back to Mayberry in a short political film from the last presidential go-round.

Well. Everybody dies, sooner or later. But I don't have to like it. And I don't.
kip_w: (Default)
Too many of us put these things off until it's too late. Thanks to Frank Lesser at the Huffington Post, we have a timely reminder that now is the time to make out a Living Dead will
ITEM 4 (A). In the event that I am bitten by a vampire, not in conjunction with Item 1, do not exhume and stake my corpse. Additionally, do not trick me into feeding on a beautiful girl until morning and then pull the drawn curtains so I burn to ashes, and do not question the strange wounds appearing on the necks of beautiful women who seem to have suddenly developed severe and inexplicable anemia. My health care proxy is instructed only to do the following:
1. Run a prepared obituary that doesn't mention my unnaturally extended life.
2. Start leaving her windows open at night.

ITEM 4 (B). If it's a gay vampire who bites me, that's cool, I'm willing to be open-minded in exchange for eternal life, but please mention in my obituary that while I was alive I slept with tons of chicks.
Some things are hard to do. For instance, it was hard to pull out just one quote, and not reprint the whole thing here. Okay, I guess some people will say that's two quotes, but it's just for scholarly interest, or parody, or something.
kip_w: (company)
I'm trying to think of some way Dr. Kevorkian could have passed on that would not fulfill all the requirements of Cheap Irony (which has somewhat looser standards than the regular sort).


Mar. 29th, 2011 09:41 pm
kip_w: (company)
The Subway

One of my favorite (if not my #1 favorite) American painters has left us. George Tooker, whose painstaking egg temperas showed us a sterile world of isolation and anxiety, lasted to the age of 90, somewhat secluded. A few years ago I knew he was still alive. For a while, I didn't know one way or the other: Schrödinger's Artist!

Government Bureau

I first saw his painting, "The Subway" (top example) in the 70s and was fascinated by his creepy vision of a nightmare populated by strangers who didn't look happy about it either. On my first visit to New York City, I made a special trip to the Whitney to see it and was disappointed to learn that they didn't keep it on display most of the time. I bought a poster, though.

Landscape with Figures

People in his paintings seem haunted. Like strangers on the street, they look at you (perhaps momentarily) with no joy or flicker of recognition. Each is isolated in his or her concerns. I wrote a paper on him for art history, almost thirty years ago, drawing on images from Raymond Chandler and dissecting "The Subway" on layers of clear plastic like animation cels.


He painted in the difficult medium of egg tempera, mixing his paints as he went along. He could make a mix last another day by putting it in the refrigerator. He was influenced by Reginald Marsh and Paul Cadmus. He and his lifetime partner, William Christopher, were active in the Civil Rights movement. I have a book about him, but I don't know an awful lot about him. Here is his self-portrait, from 1947:

George Tooker

More pictures can be found here..
kip_w: (Default)

P3240141 meet sw

On March 24, 2003, in China's Anhui Province, Cathy and I stood in a conference room at the Hefei Holiday Inn. Late in the morning, somebody handed us a thirteen-month-old girl named Xi Huan, who we renamed Sarah.

In honor of the occasion, here are some reprints from my Live Journal from 2006.

@ 2006-02-07 18:04:00
I waited at the door with the camera tonight, to get a picture of the last time my three-year-old daughter came in after school. Tomorrow she'll be a big four year old. I took a couple of shots. Sarah demanded a tuna sandwich. I managed to get a word in, to tell Cathy I'd finally heard back from the insurance people, and we weren't covered for vandalism. "Angie's grandpa died," announced Sarah.

I expressed sympathy. She asked why he died. "Probably because he was old," I said carefully. We proceeded into the den.

She asked me what other reasons people die. "Well," I ventured, "sometimes if they're in a really bad accident, or if they get really, really sick." I didn't want her to think you die from just any sickness. "I hope you don't die," she said. "Give me a tuna fish sandwich!"

more incontinent nostalgia on the other side )

ps: There's a certain amount of morbidity in the selections. It reflects that particular time in our life when she was figuring that stuff out. This can also be found at The New Pals Club Web-Log.

kip_w: (sarah tongue)
Cathy's mom visited. Sarah was looking forward to it strenuously, then after a day or so, started saying she wished Grammy would go home. This, we told her, was not acceptable behavior. I believe it was due to Sarah coveting the queen-size bed we put in the guest room, causing her to realize suddenly that her own bed hurt her back, ow ow. Grammy took it with the patience of an experienced grade school teacher, and it was a pretty good visit.

Sarah and I went out Sunday morning to bowl, as usual. On the way in we passed the cemetery on the corner where we stopped on Veterans' Day to re-stand a fallen flag. "There are people buried under there," she said.

"Yes." "Why do they put them there?" Ah. We were back to this topic.

I considered. "To show respect. People like to visit their friends and loved ones." "Did you bury your mother?"

"No, she was cremated." "What's cremated?" Well, I did ask for it, didn't I? "It's where instead of burying somebody, they burn them up." There must have been a better answer. Maybe "Hey, look! I think I see Santa Claus!" I liked it better when we were talking about her wiggly tooth.

"Why did you do that?" "Well, Grandpa doesn't believe much in graveyards." Indeed, Dad had once said he wouldn't mind being buried in a pine box in the middle of nowhere with an acorn on top of him, but I wasn't going to offer that concept to Sarah just yet.

"How do you remember your mommy?" "I just remember her," I said. Then we had to pay attention to traffic a bit. A quarter mile later, she asked another question about graves of family members. Come to think of it, I only know one grave of any member of my family: my paternal grandparents' plot in Bandera, Texas. I mentioned it.

Conversation languished, or the topic changed, at that point. We neared the bowling alley. I remember one time going to a cemetery in Illinois with Mom and lurking around, studying the grass and looking for four-leaf clovers. I don't remember its location, or ever knowing whose grave she was looking at. I can't ask her now, any more than I can ask my grandma the names of the ancestors in the daguerreotypes and tintypes and paper prints I brought back from Texas. Unknown men and women, boys and girls, standing or sitting stiffly in quaint clothes.

At the bowling alley, Sarah had her best day. She picked up spare after spare, and rolled straight down the middle quite a few times. She won the first line 111 to 106, and the second 112 to 93. I bowled as well as I could; it just wasn't too good that day.

(to be continued in another post)
kip_w: (Default)
"Daddy" made me feel loved and welcome.
He even got rid of that wife of his
Who acted like I was some sort of trophy;
A proof of her virtue. She was soon gone.
In her place, the lethal Asp and towering Punjab,
And Sandy. Always loyal, wonderful Sandy.
I would see "Daddy" mostly when he came in,
Guns blazine, fists flying, to save me
From the enemies of our country,
As well as from callous orphanages and cruel caretakers,
Just in time to sever them from success
And to protect this nation, and me, and Sandy,
And his own financial interests as well.
As days accreted into years, I wondered
Why my loving "Daddy" always ended up placing me
Back into those dark places where I had no protector
Save the good-hearted weak ones who folded like leaves
And sometimes a sympathetic gangster or mystic,
And I began to notice how my salvation and their demise
Solved at once some pressing business problem of "Daddy"'s
Until, at last, I resolved to contrive a test for him;
A setting of peril for me without any hope of profit for him.
And lo! here I am, beneath this stone forever
As Sandy, faithful Sandy, watches over me
Crying helplessly at the cold white eye of the moon.

more at The New Pals Club Web-Log
kip_w: (Default)
Talent only takes you so far.
Praised in school, successful at first,
I saw my path to fame, to glory,
To all the good things in life.
But ideas were few, and I went
To the pool of creativity, which I found
In a glass pipe Jones gave me
Along with my first taste of the stuff
And I painted, painted, until I thirsted,
Went back to the pool, then painted some more.
But before long, the thirst was more important
And the next trip to the pool, and the next,
And my curtains grew tattered, and I began
To leave my shirt unbuttoned at the top,
And I even forgot to brush my teeth some times.
And then I sought out Ray, who was looking for me,
And things went bad from there, and I perished.
Students of art, always try to find yourselves
A cheaper form of creativity than mine,
And lay in abundant supplies
Before you prime your canvas.

Dottie and I saw him in the window,
A small puppy, looking helplessly at us
Canting his head as if to hear something
We had just said. We brought him home
To the delight of the children. In my mind,
I had some reservations about his paws,
Which looked too large for such a small dog.
"He'll grow into them," Dottie said,
As if that was a good thing. And grow he did
Until he was bigger than any of us,
And wilfull, and selfish, and bone stupid,
Although he was clever at driving a car,
Making phone calls and operating a computer.
He was less like a dog than he was a demon,
Sucking the life out of our family,
My marriage, and our finances
Until the day I called him out to the car
And took him far away, into the mountains
And tried to lose him on a lonely road.
I got the beefsteak out of the trunk
And called to him to have a treat
But when I looked up, he was in front
And had undone the parking brake somehow
And he rolled right over me before he went
Clattering down the road, until the car stopped
Gently, the front bumper just touching a pine tree.
My last moments seemed to stretch out for me,
Seeing the quizzical expression again on that face,
With that long-ago puppy's face showing behind it
And I saw the irony as well, and had to admit
That in a way, it really was dog-gone funny.
kip_w: (Default)
Time heals all wounds.
There are other fish in the sea.

I told them. For years, I told them all.
Every cloud has a silver lining.
And when they put me aside,
And pitied me, behind their smiles,
(Let a smile be your umbrella!)
I didn't let on that I saw through it.
You catch more flies with honey!
But I think they realized, most of them.
Happiness isn't a gift, it's earned!
At the end, they knew who to thank.
The end justifies the means.
Toby, plunging into endless night--
It's always darkest just before dawn--
Aldo, dying of natural causes,
(For what is more natural than sleep?)
And all the rest of them, whose stones
Surround mine, as if listening for advice
Which I dispense, as I once sold apples.
An apple a day keeps the doctor away!
A stitch in time saves nine.

I trembled between them. There was no escape.
Then I saw the recruiter's door. I stepped inside.
Things blurred for a while, and I came to myself
With my porkpie hat gone and an army cap in its place.
And I found that in giving up freedom and self,
I had gained blamelessness and slack,
And what was at first temporary became instead
The permanent surrender of choice in exchange
For the permanent evasion of responsibility.
And as I stayed at Camp Swampy, year after year,
I was astonished one day to realize with a start
That nothing ever changed there. Nobody left
And nobody new came in, and nothing happened
Until the day I realized I had been dead thirty years
And that all of us were already in our private hell.

I never asked to be bitten. I only wanted
To listen to a scholarly talk about science
But there it was, I had great power now
And learned quickly what that entailed.
A lesser soul, gaining what I'd gained
Might have succumbed to vanity or greed,
But I had the lesson of Uncle Ben before me
And set out to make the world a better place
Whether the world wanted it or not.
For my pains, I was scorned, excoriated,
Lied about in the paper, and had my image
Which I provided for a modest fee, paraded
Before the credulous public as a menace.
Is it any wonder that I finally surrendered,
Took the easy way out, married my girlfriend
And stayed at home most days, watching TV?

Here I lie, in a humble pine box
None of your fancy caskets for me
If I'd died a few years later, it might have been
A cardboard carton for my eternal rest.
I didn't ever ask for much from the world;
Just a small-screen TV and a padded chair
The one to sleep in, the other to sleep
In front of on the nights when I didn't have to go
And work the next day. I kept my personal data
On the icebox in the kitchen. My watch
Only told time, and didn't bother me with
Phone calls, headlines, music, or games.
When I was hungry, I ate a burger with fries,
Drank the cheapest coffee, married a big chicken,
And played board games with my bored kids.
Until the day I felt my heart burst in my chest
And couldn't puzzle out the medicine cap in time.
Now I nap under a piece of granite,
Carved with my parents' names, with a line
Left for my family to fill in with mine
When they can afford it.

(originally presented in The Comics Curmudgeon)
more at The New Pals Club Web-Log



Jan. 20th, 2008 12:32 pm
kip_w: (company)
RIP, Suzanne Pleshette. (via Mark Evanier)
kip_w: (company)
Bobby Fischer, dead at 64. In recent years, he's been an isolated anti-semitic nut (his mother was Jewish, by the way), but for a time he was our champion; the Van Cliburn of chess. I knew him from a column that ran under his name in Boy's Life, which was most likely ghost-written. Years later, Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess came out and was one of the few chess books that made a swift and material difference in my playing. It uses programmed instruction to hammer a few key facts in. I picked it up while visiting my cousin, and immediately started beating him. He insisted on reading the book as well, and the balance was restored.

It's also said that as a child, he beat Ajeeb the Arab, a chess-playing pseudo-automaton (operated by a hidden player who was a former champion fallen on bad times, according to a possibly accurate report by cartoonist Kim Deitch) and brought home a box of cigars.

One day I was at David Mattingly's house, and we were playing chess. He told me he wanted to play Fischer and said he'd show me how he was going to do it. Two moves later, the game was over: Dave had put himself into the classic Fool's Mate. He seemed so surprised by this outcome that it never occurred to me that Dave, an accomplished actor, might have been pulling my leg.
kip_w: (company)
Werner von Trapp ("Kurt" in the musical), dead at 91. Three sisters and a brother survive him, as well as his wife and kids.

Local note: I believe Kurt was the brother played by David Mattingly in the late 60s HMG production in Fort Collins, Colorado. Also, I remember traveling through the mountains somewhere in the general region of Leadville, and having Dad point out to me the location of the military base where the von Trapp boys had trained before going to Europe to fight in WW2. I don't know how he knew it, offhand. He trained as a flier, and I believe they trained to drop in and ski, but I don't know if that would have put them near each other or not.

gas passes

Oct. 14th, 2007 09:40 pm
kip_w: (company)
Oh my god!

Sir Frederick Gas has died. Once again, I have to utter that wretched cliche I didn't know he was still alive! After appearing with Spike Jones for some years, he slipped out of the music biz and became Earl Bennett and edited films, and then he went back to painting.

A sorrowful 'thank you' to Mark Evanier for pointing out what we have lost.

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