Jazz pianist and composer Horace Silver, 1928-2014

The great jazz pianist and composer Horace Silver died today "of natural causes" at his home in New Rochelle, New York.

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Crad Kilodney, 1948-2014

Jenny Hart remembers the self-published Toronto author and his “sweet, vulgar, offensive, sometimes boring, funny and beautiful to read” words

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Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel laureate novelist, 1927-2014

Novelist Gabriel García Márquez, whose One Hundred Years of Solitude "established him as a giant of 20th-century literature," died today at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

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RIP Lou Scheimer (Fat Albert, Star Trek: The Animated Series, etc.)

Scheimerrrr

Saturday morning cartoon pioneer Lou Scheimer, whose Filmation company created Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, Star Trek: The Animated Series, Groovie Goolies, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and many other classics of the 1960s, 70s, and 80s, has died. He was 84. Above, Scheimer with some of his Filmation characters in an illustration from the cover of his book, "Lou Scheimer: Creating the Filmation Generation." From the New York Times:

Filmation was considered noteworthy on two counts: it kept production in the United States in an age of increasing outsourcing (then as now, the labor-intensive work of animating many American cartoons was done in Asia) and it sought to produce cartoons with a message of social tolerance.

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Elmore Leonard, RIP

Crime novelist Elmore Leonard, a master of modern noir, died today. He was 87. From his 2001 essay, "Easy on the Adverbs, Exclamation Points and Especially Hooptedoodle,"that appeared in the New York Times:

5. Keep your exclamation points under control.
You are allowed no more than two or three per 100,000 words of prose. If you have the knack of playing with exclaimers the way Tom Wolfe does, you can throw them in by the handful.

6. Never use the words ''suddenly'' or ''all hell broke loose.''
This rule doesn't require an explanation. I have noticed that writers who use ''suddenly'' tend to exercise less control in the application of exclamation points.

Elmore Leonard's author page on Amazon

The Elmore Leonard Website

Notable deaths in 2012, as recorded by Wikipedia

Information designer Jess Bachman created Wikipedia Remembers 2012, an interactive feature about the top 100 public figures who died in 2012 as ranked by the number of words in their Wikipedia entries. There are probably more accurate ways to measure the value of a person's life, but hey, that's a matter for another debate. Jess explains:

I think its a great way to explore and remember the lesser known heroes and is an interesting measure of ones life. Phyllis Diller and Michael Clarke Duncan were 101 and 102 so they didn't make the list, while others like #4, Tale Ognenovski is a lessor known Macedonian clarinetist, but for some reason has a incredibly documented wiki page! So many interesting people here.

It should be noted that I did remove notorious people and those who were solely involved in news events, so there is some editorial by me here. The number one person was actually Treyvon Martin, and there were plenty of serial killers, terrorists, and other folk I didn't think were worth remembering.

Check it out.

Ravi Shankar, RIP: A performance on the Dick Cavett Show, and a reporter's recollections of a visit with Raviji

George Harrison of the Beatles, studying sitar with Pandit Ravi Shankar.

In the clip above, the late Indian music legend Pandit Ravi Shankar (web, Wikipedia, Amazon) performs on the Dick Cavett show, in an episode where his friend George Harrison of the Beatles introduces him to the viewing audience.

His family and his foundation have released a statement on the day of his death (PDF), with an obituary by Oliver Craske, a writer and editor who worked on Raviji's autobiography, ‘Raga Mala.’ Snip:

It is with heavy hearts we write to inform you that Pandit Ravi Shankar, husband, father, and musical soul, passed away today, December 11th, 2012. As you all know, his health has been fragile for the past several years and on Thursday he underwent a surgery that could have potentially given him a new lease of life. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We were at his side when he passed away.

Read the rest here at the Shankar Foundation website. He had upper-respiratory and heart problems, and underwent heart-valve replacement surgery last week. The surgery was successful, but recovery was too much for the 92-year-old musician. His last performance was with his daughter, sitarist Anoushka Shankar, on November 4 in Long Beach, California. It was a celebration of his tenth decade of creating music.

I interviewed him in 2003 at his home north of San Diego for Grammy Magazine. The article is no longer online, but I'll try to dig it up from the old print copy. His home was set up a little like an Indian villa, and I remember feeling like I was back in India as I sat on the floor in the room where he received guests and visiting reporters. He was very patient and attentive; very sweet to this starstruck and stuttering reporter.

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Pet obituaries

Reuters' Kevin Lim reports that Singapore's largest newspaper, The Straits Times, is accepting pet obituaries.

The decision to market obituaries to pet owners in tiny Singapore, one of the world's richest countries in terms of per capita income, comes as wealthy Asians have fewer kids and shower more attention on pets. Though dogs and cats once roamed free around neighborhoods in Singapore, pet owners today are extremely protective of their pets. In addition, the 80 percent of the population that lives in government-run flats is restricted to just one dog, of a small breed.

If you would like to just read a nice pet obituary this morning, Google suggests Sadie, a golden retriever who died at 12 last week. Her adventures led her as far afield as Iceland and England, and while she had no desire to learn a repertoire of tricks, she could flip a dog treat off her nose with the best of them.

Herbert Lom, who played stressed-out boss of Inspector Clouseau in "Pink Panther" films, has died

Czech-born actor Herbert Lom, best known as the weary boss of Inspector Clouseau in the Peter Sellers Pink Panther movies, died today at 95 years of age.

His son Alec Lom told the Associated Press that his dad "died peacefully in his sleep at home in London."

A two-part series of clips on YouTube:

Part 1, and Part 2.

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Neil Armstrong, 1930-2012: One Giant Loss for Mankind

Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon or any other world beyond Earth, died today. The former test pilot and NASA astronaut recently celebrated his 82nd birthday, and underwent heart surgery just weeks ago.

He commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, and radioed back to Earth the historic line, "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind." He walked on the moon for nearly 3 hours with fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin.

He died today of complications following his cardiac surgery.

That's one giant loss for mankind. Godspeed, Sir.

Via Miles O'Brien, a statement from Armstrong's family released through their website:

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Coroner: "Top Gun" filmmaker Tony Scott did not have brain cancer

Filmmaker Tony Scott jumped to his death on Sunday, off a bridge in Southern California. Early reports from ABC News (which were copy-pasted by TMZ, HuffPo, and other outlets) that the "Top Gun" director killed himself after learning that he had an inoperable brain tumor were apparently false.

For Aileen.

My boyfriend Miles O'Brien lost his beloved little sister to breast cancer today. She was only 46 years old.

They both lost their mom to it a few weeks after I was diagnosed with the same disease.

There is so much to say about what a beautiful soul Aileen was, what a cruel and ugly and brutal disease breast cancer is, how torturous treatment is, how enraging it is that science and medicine have nothing better to offer us yet, how unjust the financial devastation a diagnosis brings to so many women is—and, most of all, what it means to those of us with cancer to have the kind of support in our lives that men like Miles provide, selflessly and heroically and with unconditional love.

But for now, I just want the world to see, respect, and remember this photograph Miles took of his sister this morning, shortly before her life ended. He brought her dog Jethro from her home to the hospice house so Jethro could also say goodbye.

Gone but still loved by all. RIP Aileen Crimmings O'Brien Graef - 10/30/64-8/21/2012

She is survived by two beautiful daughters, Katie and Aileen, whom she loved very much.

And, their dog Jethro.

Update: Miles and her daughters suggest that donations in honor of Aileen be sent to Visiting Nurses Association of the Treasure Coast (@vnatc), 1110 35th Lane. Vero Beach, FL 32960. This is the hospice center that cared for Aileen in her final days. Services at Strunk Funeral Home, 916 17th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960. If you wish to send cards or flowers, this is the best address.

Image link (photo: Miles O'Brien).

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When Art Spiegelman visited Maurice Sendak


"Childhood is cannibals and psychotics vomiting in your mouth!" Art Spiegelman drew his experience of hanging out with Maurice Sendak in 1993 for the New Yorker, and the magazine has "unlocked" the archival link in honor of Sendak's passing today.

(via Neil Gaiman)

Bagelvangelist Murray Lender, of Lender's Bagels, has died

The Economist has a great piece out today on the life and legacy of Lender's Bagels founder Murray Lender, who died one month ago at age 81. He is credited with making the bagel a mainstream breakfast staple throughout America. Without him, memes like the one above, and possibly bagels like the one above, would not exist in our pop culture mindspace—or in our tummies. (pic via @nopattern)

Christopher Hitchens, 1949-2011

Journalist, pundit, author, and gentleman philosopher Christopher Hitchens has died at 62, after a long battle with esophegeal cancer.

Obituaries: Vanity Fair, NPR, CNN, WaPo, Reuters, LAT. Graydon Carter's memorial is the one to read.

Photo: For the release of his memoir "Hitch 22," Hitchens poses for a portrait outside his hotel in New York, June 7, 2010. (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)