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My heart is broken. My dog Molly has passed away.

I cannot begin to explain the loss that is Molly. She was just a few weeks shy of her 13th birthday. She lived the most amazing, cared for, caring life a Cavalier King Charles could dream. My Molly had the deepest, most soulful eyes you have ever seen on any creature or finest work of art. Everyone who met her loved her. Even dog haters could not resist this dog, because Molly might actually have been love herself.

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Harry Harwood Garrison, player piano restorer, magician, smoke ring-blower, RIP

Harry Harwood Garrison of Cincinnati, Ohio died last week at age 77. Sounds like an amazing guy; wish I'd know him! From his obituary:

CEN048178 1 20130921Sole proprietor of the Player Piano Shop, enthusiast & restorer of all variety of automated musical instruments, life-time entertainer performing magic acts & smoke-ring blowing, including an appearance on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson…

Raconteur, gourmand, fine-arts supporter & lover of music, particularly traditional & Dixieland jazz, boogie-woogie piano, blues, bluegrass, & opera. Historian of Hamilton County, Cincinnati, Westwood, & Colerain Township; craftsman, traveler, latter-day renaissance man, noted by many friends & colleagues for having a remarkable memory & his ability to recall detail.

Harry Harwood Garrison obituary (Cincinnati.com, thanks Gil Kaufman!)

Jean Stapleton (Edith Bunker), RIP

Jean Stapleton, who most famously played Edith Bunker on "All in the Family," has died. She was 90 years old. (via CNN)

Divinyls singer Chrissy Amphlett dies of breast cancer, MS

The charismatic lead singer of Australian new wave band The Divinyls, Chrissy Amphlett, has died in her New York home of cancer and multiple sclerosis. She was 53. Above, "I Touch Myself," the autoerotic anthem of '80s teen females that became the Divinyls' greatest hit.

Last month, on her Facebook page, she wrote about the experience of being a breast cancer patient since 2010:

"Unfortunately the last 18 months have been a real challenge for me having breast cancer and MS and all the new places that will take you. You become sadly a patient in a world of waiting rooms, waiting sometimes hours for a result or an appointment. You spend a lot time in cold machines... hospital beds, on your knees praying for miracles, operating rooms, tests after tests, looking at healthy people skip down the street like you once did and you took it all for granted and now wish you could do that. I have not stopped singing throughout all this in my dreams and to be once again performing and doing what I love to do."

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The Lancet: You do, in fact, know something, John Snow

The editors of The Lancet (the long-running British journal of medicine) issued a correction this week for several rude statements and a rather terse obituary that it published in the 1850s. All of these relate to John Snow, the epidemiologist famous for figuring out that cholera was spread by contaminated water. The trouble with this: Snow's evidence-based arguments stepped on the toes of a former Lancet editor who believed strongly that such diseases were caused by bad air — and who had, as a consequence, led an initiative to ban tanners, soap makers, and other smelly professions from the city of London. Snow had testified before Parliament that bad air could not possibly cause disease. A feud ensued. Maggie

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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Tom Davis, former SNL writer, "de-animates" at 59

One of the original writers of Saturday Night Live, Tom Davis, has died of cancer at age 59. He was best known for his work with Al Franken, who went on to become a U.S. Senator, representing the state of Minnesota. Not long before his death, he wrote a piece on the site Incident Report saying that he and Franken were working on something for the latter to read after he "de-animate[d]." Sadly, that happened yesterday, and the world is less one amazing comedy writer.

In his obituary, The New York Times describes a 2004 incident involving a Jeopardy question asking who Davis was -- no one had an answer. I want to be a part of making sure that never happens again. We lost a good one, so pay attention, eggheads.

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"Queen of Clown Porn" Hollie Stevens, 30, dies of breast cancer

Image: Hollie Stevens, via Flickr.

The alt-adult performer known as Hollie Stevens (Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Wikipedia, MySpace) has died of breast cancer.

In addition to her work in indie pornography (including "clown porn", NSFW link), she was also a model for, and contributor to, the weirdo horror-rotica zine Girls and Corpses.

From an early account of Hollie's story by Vanessa Pinto at SF Weekly, it sounds like the lack of access to affordable health care (and health insurance) was a significant factor in the case of Hollie, a freelance creative based in San Francisco:

She was no different than a lot of us when we were young who believe we're invincible. So when this very young healthy woman noticed a lump on her breast, she let it go at first.

"I noticed it and paid attention to it, but going to the doctor is hard when you don't have insurance," says Stevens.

The lump didn't go away.

More from Vanessa Pinto, this time writing Hollie's obituary one year later:

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With SpaceX launch, remains of James Doohan (Star Trek's "Scotty") finally rest in peace, in space

The late actor James Doohan, best known for his role as "Scotty" on the original Star Trek series, left instructions in his will that he wished to be buried in space. His family worked hard to fulfill that wish, and made arrangements with Celestis, Inc., a subdivision of the Houston-based company Space Services that offers "post-cremation memorial spaceflights."

Those remains became part of the payload for a 2008 SpaceX Falcon 1 launch attempt that didn't reach orbit because of technical problems. Each failed attempt was newly agonizing for family members, prolonging their grief and lack of closure.

But today, seven years after "Scotty's" death, SpaceX successfully launched his ashes into space. From the startrek.com website today:

Doohan’s ashes – which also were launched to space in 2008 as part of an unsuccessful mission -- were part of a secondary payload included on the second stage of the rocket, not on the Dragon itself. That payload separated from the capsule at the 9-minute, 49-second mark and is now orbiting, on its own, above the Earth. It’s expected to stay in orbit for approximately a year before descending back to Earth and disintegrating during re-entry.

Wende Doohan, James Doohan's widow, was on hand for the launch with the couple’s daughter, Sarah, now 12. Doohan posted a photo on Twitter and tweeted the following comment early today. “Sarah and I enjoyed watching a beautiful rocket launch this morning - certainly a first for her.” Also, on May 18, Doohan tweeted the attached photo of Sarah at Cape Canaveral with a caption that read “Following Daddy’s footsteps?”

In 2008, just after that last unsuccessful attempt, we shared on Boing Boing a personal account of what the process felt like for Doohan's family. It was written by Ehrich Blackhound, one of Doohan's seven children. Here it is again, below.

Rest in peace, in space, Mr. Doohan. And on behalf of all of us at Boing Boing, our best to the whole family.

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Robin Gibb, 1/3 of the Bee Gees, has died of cancer at 62

Photo: Robin Gibb. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor, 2008.

From multiple sources today: One of the three Bee Gees has died. Robin Gibb was 62 years old, and was diagnosed two years ago with colon and liver cancer that responded to treatment, then returned and spread.

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Donna Summer, RIP

One of the greats is gone. Donna Summer died of cancer this morning in Florida, according to reports. The Queen of Disco was 63.

Summer was born and raised in Boston, and first sang in her church's gospel choir. She went on to perform in the touring production of "Hair," and met producer/songwriter and electronic music pioneer Giorgio Moroder in 1974.

About "I Feel Love," the synth-driven club anthem she recorded with Moroder in 1977, Brian Eno said at the time: "This is it, look no further. This single is going to change the sound of club music for the next 15 years.”

The singer who went on to win five Grammys ascended to diva status in the seventies with hits like “Love to Love You Baby,” “Last Dance,” “Hot Stuff,” “MacArthur Park,” and “Bad Girls.”

Two must-listens today: This Fresh Air interview with Summer, and this Tavis Smiley interview on NPR, both in 2003 when she was promoting her memoir, Ordinary Girl: The Journey.

Donna Summer with Giorgio Moroder in the mid-1970s, via soundonsound.


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Chuck Brown, godfather of Go-Go music, dies at 75

Chuck Brown performing at the 20th St. Lucia Jazz Festival, May 8, 2011. REUTERS/Andrea De Silva.


The artist widely credited with founding the Go-Go music genre died today. Chuck Brown was 75.

Like many punk teens growing up in Virginia in the eighties, I discovered this DC-rooted genre of black American music by accident—a go-go band opened up for a hardcore group I'd traveled from Richmond to DC to see. But it just took once to fall under the spell of that heavy, funky beat.

Bands like Trouble Funk and E.U. were among the go-go acts to achieve fame beyond DC, but Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers started it all.

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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)

Remembering Adam Yauch: Polly Wog Stew

Earlier this morning, Pesco posted the awful news that Adam "MCA" Yauch died this morning at age 47. Words here can't express how sad I am, reading that news. Hits home in part because I'm fighting the same disease, and in part because the Beasties were such a formative part of my subcultural education as I grew into my teen years.

The first time I heard them, and Adam Yauch, was when a friend from middle school handed me a home-copied dupe of this cassette tape EP [YouTube, and you can still buy copies on Amazon]. I played it over and over until that little black ribbon wore right out. Some of you may not know that the Beasties were a hardcore band before they became a hiphop band. Now you do.

I've embedded some Beastie videos from that era below. Fuck you, cancer.

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Mona Simpson's eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs

Make some time for yourself, and maybe someone you love, to read all the way to the end. "A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs," delivered on Oct. 16 at his memorial service at the Memorial Church of Stanford University, and reprinted this weekend in the NYT. Xeni