Morbid thought of the day

The Duke Magazine periodical that I receive in the mail every other month is a pretty nice publication, but I only read it for the obituaries. And then I look up the deceased on Facebook.

(I’ll post some pet pics tomorrow, lighten things up…)


It sucked to be him

I’d be remiss if I did not acknowledge the passing of Gary Coleman.

I will not conform to societal convention and be saddened by his death. I also do not feel compelled to celebrate to his life. Frankly, it sucked to be him.

However, I must acknowledge that, thanks to the fine acting of Gary Coleman, I have avoided hard drugs.

And bicycle shops.

Alice doesn’t live here anymore

And now I shall blog about soap operas.

I am saddened by the passing of legendary actress Frances Reid at the age of 95. If you don’t know who that is, that’s probably good for you! That means you didn’t spend an unmentionable number of hours watching soap operas years ago. (Or you just didn’t watch Days of Our Lives.) (Or you don’t pay attention to the actors’ names.)

Frances Reid was an accomplished actress prior to commencing her most well-known role in 1965, but she is legendary for having portrayed Days of Our Lives matriarch Alice Horton for more than 40 years. Soap characters and actors come and go, but Frances Reid on DAYS was comforting constant. Both her character and off-screen persona were class acts.

Clips of Frances Reid as Alice Horton

Ted Kennedy

Edward M. Kennedy (1932 – 2009)
Boston panorama from John F. Kennedy Library
Boston, from the JFK Presidential Library and Museum (02-02-2008)

His family, they’ve given so much to this country. I love Ted Kennedy. I love Vicki Kennedy. And I love that whole family, and I just want everybody to know that they need to be revered. That’s a family that’s given a great deal to this country, and they deserve a lot of credit.
– Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah)

I have a good friend who had the privilege of working for Senator Kennedy some years ago, and so I know that people who got to know Ted Kennedy personally loved him a lot. Democrats have not yet had a truly great President in my lifetime. But we’ve had Ted Kennedy, and we and the nation, even those who bitterly denigrate the man, are better for it.

Of the 300 or so laws written by Kennedy that have been enacted, I have personally relied a good deal on the COBRA Act of 1985 and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. I’m sure I could find plenty more if I looked a little deeper.

Thank you, Sir. Rest in peace.

Sunday miscellany

So…this weekend…watched a lot of Walter Cronkite death coverage, in which it was obvious that the standards of TV journalism have eroded significantly since Cronkite signed off back in 1981.

I watched a lot of the British Open, hoping Tom Watson would pull off a miraculous feat only to see if come up achingly short.

I decided I didn’t like Stewart Cink simply because he has 500,000 Twitter followers. Several on-air referred to him as “one of the good guys” out there, but it just seems like anyone who is not The President, The Pope, or Someone Curing Cancer (let alone someone who hadn’t won a tournament until today) doesn’t warrant 500,000 “followers”.

It’s strange, because I think I discovered Twitter rather earlier, but it kinda made me queasy early on for many reasons, and then I’ve barely been on it over the past year or so, and it’s exploded in relevance.

I have found, particularly, with politicians and newspeople, that Twitterers embarrass themselves more often than they impress. I expect athletes and celebrities to make asses of themselves, because they’re not famous for their minds and communication skills.

Anyway…this weekend, I also got sucked into Mafia Wars on Facebook. Like many internet fads, I think I’ll probably be over it rather quickly. I have a feeling that the friend who recruited me was starting to feel limited by the size of his “Mafia family” (number of Facebook friends playing Mafia Wars), and that I’ll run into the same problem soon enough. For the longest time, I never thought I’d wade into one of the Facebook time-wasters that I see on other people’s profiles, but I did it this week. And I get it…

Reading the obituaries

I’ve probably received Duke Magazine every month for the past dozen years, even though I don’t donate any money to Duke, and I don’t bother to read it. My fragile self has no desire to learn of the great achievements of current students and brilliant alumni. Yes, Dukies do all sorts of great stuff; I don’t need to be reminded. (And, yet, I live two blocks from campus, and I have daily interaction with Duke). But there is one part of the magazine I do scan…the obituaries. I read the obituaries with the hope that I won’t recognize any of the names, and that there will be no names at all of those graduated anywhere around 1997.

Well, no such luck as I looked at the latest issue. I won’t mention the names, because the memory of those I speak should not be sullied by being associated with this blog.

First, I came across the name of my long-time dermatologist. I saw him as an undergraduate and then for several years after. I still go to the same practice today and only stopped seeing him because he was unavailable once or twice when I needed to be seen. I think I noticed that his name was no longer on the front door, but I didn’t think much of it. Now, I have learned that he passed away in October, at the young age of 52. While dealings with healthcare providers are often stressful and unpleasant, I actually enjoyed my visits to the dermatologist. This physician had an outstanding sense of humor and a reassuring demeanor. I always trusted that I was getting excellent care. I am sad to hear of his passing.

Second, I saw the name of a classmate. I didn’t know her, only recognized her name, but that’s enough to feel stunned and saddened. Further research tells me that she had lived with a chronic disease all of her adult life, but she had a career and interests that gave her fulfillment. She made a big difference in a lot of people’s lives. I realize this a quite a generic statement to make, but it doesn’t always apply to everyone.

It might sound like I’ve just realized that, OMG, people die! Actually, this thought crosses my mind a fair bit; I do read quite a bit of news.

I really must get more out of life. There’s another bromidic* sentiment…

*bromidic? I suppose that’s a word

Bea Arthur

Beatrice Arthur, the tall, deep-voiced actress whose razor-sharp delivery of comedy lines made her a TV star in the hit shows “Maude” and “The Golden Girls” died Saturday.

I regret that I’ve never scene a full episode of Maude. I’ve probably seen 95% of The Golden Girls episodes. Dorothy Zbornak was my favorite Golden Girl because she had an acerbic wit that made her seem like a misanthrope, but, when push came to shove, she was the dependable one you’d want as a friend. And Bea Arthur was just brilliant as Dorothy. In later years, whenever she’d appear on some comedy show, like a roast or retrospective, she was a riot.

I had an “I feel old” moment recently to have realized that it’s been 24 years since The Golden Girls premiered. I grew up with little to do on Saturday nights (imagine that), and I’m grateful that Bea Arthur and The Golden Girls were there.

Beatrice Arthur could get a huge laugh with just a long, hard, silent stare. When she opened her mouth, her ringingly authoritative voice brought forth another wave of laughter.
– Ken Tucker, Entertainment Weekly

I really loved her — and gained so much from working with her. She was deeply supportive of me at the start of my career. Her warmth wasn’t superficial — it was genuine and bespoke true compassion. And it was this same inner sweetness that made her comedy so real and touching, and made her such an inspiration.
– Mitchell Hurwitz, Creator of Arrested Development, Writer on The Golden Girls