Christopher Tolkien, 1924-2020

Christopher Tolkien, custodian and mastermind of his father's literary estate, is dead at 95. Tor.com's Andrew Liptak:

In 2017, Tolkien stepped down as the director of the Tolkien Estate and Tolkien Trust, saying at the time that Beren and Lúthien would likely be his final book. Tolkien was a staunch critic of Peter Jackson’s adaptation of his father’s trilogy, telling Le Monde in 2012 that “They gutted the book, making it an action movie for 15-25 year-olds, and it looks like The Hobbit will be the same.” His death comes at a time when his father’s books are more popular than ever, and as Amazon works to create a massive TV series based on the works that he himself helped bring to the public.

While Tolkien was the author behind the world of Middle-earth, Christopher Tolkien was the one responsible for ensuring that his father’s stories remained in the public view by continuing to publish develop the backstory of the world that has influenced and inspired fans around the world.

Christopher drew the original map of Middle-Earth, excerpted above, with annotations from J.R.R. He was no mere editor; his Complete History of Middle Earth [Amazon] is a twelve-volume encylopedia-cum-biography that's both penetrating and impenetrable. Read the rest

Gershon Kingsley, 1922-2019

Synth pioneer Gershon Kingsley is dead at 97.

Kingsley was most famous for his 1969 song “Popcorn,” which was one of the first electronic singles to hit the airwaves. The song became a hit for the group Hot Butter in 1972, and Crazy Frog revived it again in 2005. (Aphex Twin and Muse have covered it, too). Kingsley also co-wrote “Baroque Hoedown,” which was used as the theme song to Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade, with fellow synth pioneer Jean-Jacques Perrey. His song “Rebirth” has been sampled in multiple hip-hop songs, including Freddie Gibbs’ and Madlib’s “Soul Right.”

Kingsley joins musical partner Jean-Jacques Perrey, who died in 2016.

Read the rest

Actor Danny Aiello has died at 86

PHOTO COURTESY Universal Pictures: Danny Aiello, second from left, with Spike Lee, John Turturro, and Richard Edson in a scene from “Do the Right Thing” (1989).

Beloved blue collar tough-guy actor Danny Aiello has died. He was 86. Read the rest

RIP René Auberjonois

American actor and singer René Auberjonois, who played early roles in in M*A*S*H and 1979's King Kong and later starred as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's irascible and gelatinous security chief Odo, is dead at 79.

Before his entry into Hollywood, Auberjonois worked in theater, earning a Tony for best lead actor in a musical for his role opposite Katharine Hepburn in “Coco.” He received further Tony nominations for 1973’s “The Good Doctor,” 1984’s “Big River,” and 1989’s “City of Angels.”

Auberjonois was also known for his voice roles, particularly in 1989’s Disney Renaissance hit “The Little Mermaid,” in which he voices Chef Louis and sang the memorable “Les Poissons.” Fans of “The Princess Diaries” would recognize him as the voice of Mia Thermopolis’ father, Prince Philippe Renaldi, in an uncredited role.

Read the rest

Clive James, 1939-2019

Clive James, the Australian writer, broadcaster, comedian and poet, is dead at 80.

James was renowned for his pithy turns of phrase. He once likened Arnold Schwarzenegger to "a brown condom full of walnuts" and said motor racing commentator Murray Walker sounded "like a man whose trousers are on fire". ... "Common sense and a sense of humour are the same thing, moving at different speeds," was another of his famous quotes.He also had advice for his future obituarists, telling them "shorter is better, and that a single line is best".

"Any encounter with James, either in print or in person, left you desperate to go and open a book, watch a film or a TV show, or hunt down a recording," said Don Paterson, poetry editor at James's publisher Picador.

James was funny and silly enough to be enjoyed by children, but smart and deep enough to grow into--an Umberto Eco of things normal people see and read. Among other things, he was first to introduce the sadistic marvels of Japanese game shows to British television. He was diagnosed as terminally-ill almost a decade ago, and his dry wit became positively arid as he continued to outpace death in his last years. But also light and, when the occasion called for it, joyous. Read the rest

Spirit of The West's John Mann dead at 57 years old

The music of Spirit of The West has been a part of my life since my early teens. The band's lead singer and oft-time song writer, John Mann, was a joyful beast on stage. I saw SOTW live on a number of occasions over the years. They were great, every time. John's energetic rapport with the audience made sure of that. But my favorite time seeing John perform was when he was touring his solo album, Mister Mann. The show was intimate, quiet and lovely. It's a happy memory for me.

John Mann passed away today at the age of 57 due to complications from early onset Alzheimer disease.

From Spirit of the West's homepage:

With deep sadness we announce that John Fraser Mann (OBC) has passed away peacefully in Vancouver, the inevitable result of Early Onset Alzheimer’s Disease with which he was diagnosed several years ago.

Surrounded by friends and loving family until the end, all were reminded of John’s rich legacy. He was a potent force in music, acting — onstage, in movies and on television, and was world renowned as a songwriter. As well, he was a foresightful activist and charitable figure for several worthwhile organizations. His work will resound long after his untimely passing.

His career spanned nearly 40 years and included multiple film roles, numerous star turns in theatre, and fame as lead singer and spell-binding front-person of Canadian musical group ‘Spirit of the West’.

John was a man of uncommon courage, was a loyal and beloved friend, a gentleman of great social conscience, and a soul brimming with creativity and enthusiasm.

Read the rest

British broadcaster Peter Sissons dies at 77. Here's his most famous moment.

Peter Sissons, who died today at 77, is well known to British news junkies for his decades anchoring daily bulletins on ITV and the BBC. Though not well-known abroad, he just happens to be the man responsible for one of the BBC's most outrageous NSFW bloopers: a contemptuous hot-mic outburst about a fellow presenter's breasts. Read the rest

What killed Adrian Lamo?

Adrian Lamo is most famous for turning U.S. Army intelligence analyst and whistleblower Chelsea Manning in to the authorities, but was already well-known among hackers and journalists because of his penetration of The New York Times' source database, subsequent conviction for the hack, and his sparkling personality. He died mysteriously last year in what many assumed was suicide or murder, but NPR's Dina Temple-Raston investigated his last months and found a tragic figure in failing health, evicted by his carers and in chronic pain. He likely died overdosing prescription drugs, kratom and nootropics after suffering a twisted leg.

His doctor was in the process of weaning him off some of the medications, including reducing the three different benzodiazepines he was taking. That is of particular interest because about a month before Lamo died, the FDA came out with a medical alert — a warning against mixing benzos with kratom. The combination had been linked to dozens of deaths.

"A few assessable cases with fatal outcomes raise concern that kratom is being used in combination with other drugs that affect the brain, including ... benzodiazepines," the alert read. Rohrig said Lamo had a handful of what he called designer benzos in his system, some of which weren't available by prescription in the U.S.

"The most common way of getting these particular ones is basically off the Internet," Rohrig told us. "You can order them and have them shipped to whatever address you want." Debbie Scroggin assumed that lots of the pills and supplements coming into the house were in those packages addressed to Adrian Alfonso.

Read the rest

Facebook employee dead after 'apparent suicide' at headquarters

This post contains information about suicide. If you need help, it’s OK not to be OK, and to need help. Call 1-800-273-8255. Read the rest

New Orleans music legend Art Neville has died.

New Orleans music and cultural legend Art Neville, who co-founded the Meters and Neville Brothers, has died. He was 81 years old. Read the rest

Dr. John, the New Orleans music icon born Malcolm John Rebennack, dies at 77

A legend of American music has departed.

His name was Malcolm John Rebennack, or Mac Rebennack, but we knew him as Dr. John. Read the rest

Guatemalan boy, 16, dies in US Border Patrol custody — 5th child dead at border under Trump

Guatemalan minor is fourth to have died in custody under Trump campaign

Doris Day, 1922-2019

The Doris Day Foundation reports her death at 97.

Doris Day passed away early this morning at her Carmel Valley home, having celebrated her 97th birthday on April 3 of this year. Nearly 300 fans gathered in Carmel last month to celebrate Day’s birthday. Day had been in excellent physical health for her age, until recently contracting a serious case of pneumonia , resulting in her death. She was surrounded by a few close friends as she passed.

The BBC rounded up tributes:

Star Trek actor William Shatner remembered Day on Twitter as "the World's Sweetheart," saying she was "beloved by all".

Fellow Star Trek cast member George Takei said she was "synonymous with Hollywood icon", while Spanish actor Antonio Banderas wrote: "Thank you for your talent."

Novelist Paulo Coelho marked her passing by quoting lyrics from Secret Love, one of her numbers in Calamity Jane.

"We've lost another great Hollywood talent," tweeted Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane, while actor Luke Evans said he had "always loved" her voice and "beautiful" songs.

Read the rest

Dead gardener linked to boobytraps

After Bernhard Graumann, 59, was found dead last week, police linked him to a trap that killed another person and a "explosive piece of firewood" that hurt two more. If you suspect Herr Graumann held a grudge against you, the police in Mehlingen would like a word. Ideally, before you open any doors, start any engines, drink any brandy, etc.

German media report that Graumann was known to be a member of a local medieval association which apparently included, among other activities, recreating antique firearms that use gunpowder.

"People who have had a problematic private or business relationship with Graumann are urged to contact the police immediately," the police said.

They have already "received dozens of calls," they said.

Photo: Shutterstock / Romolo Tavani Read the rest

Co-inventor of handheld electronic calculator dies

Jerry Merryman, who co-invented the handheld electronic calculator in 1965, is dead at 86.

Merryman told NPR's "All Things Considered" in 2013, "It was late 1965 and Jack Kilby, my boss, presented the idea of a calculator. He called some people in his office. He says, we'd like to have some sort of computing device, perhaps to replace the slide rule. It would be nice if it were as small as this little book that I have in my hand."

Merryman added, "Silly me, I thought we were just making a calculator, but we were creating an electronic revolution."

Kilby died in 2005: Microchip pioneer Jack Kilby Dies at 81

Photos: Smithsonia Museum; Montage: Matt Novak / Gizmodo Read the rest

Prodigy vocalist Keith Flint dead at 49

In a message posted to its official Twitter account, UK electronic music group The Prodigy announced the death of singer and songwriter Keith Flint today.

“It is with deepest shock and sadness that we can confirm the death of our brother and best friend Keith Flint ... A true pioneer, innovator and legend. He will be forever missed. We thank you for respecting the privacy of all concerned at this time.”

In an Instagram post, [via NME] Howlett wrote: “The news is true. I can’t believe I’m saying this but our brother Keith took his own life over the weekend. I’m shell shocked, fuckin angry, confused and heart broken.”

Pitchfork posted an obituary.

Flint was a regular fixture of the UK’s late-1980s rave scene. At a beach party, he met Howlett and suggested they form a band. Howlett began recording as the Prodigy, eventually touring America and bringing along Flint to hype the crowd. By 1996, Howlett had enlisted him as a frontman. When they released “Firestarter” that March, Flint’s emphatic performance and inverted mohawk became ubiquitous, making the video a staple of international music channels. A global hit and UK Number 1 for three weeks, the single teed up The Fat of the Land, one of the most successful UK dance albums of all time, helped along by follow-up singles “Breathe” and “Smack My Bitch Up.”

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255),or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741

Read the rest

Deaths: Actor Bob Einstein, 'Super Dave Osborne' and Marty Funkhouser on ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’

'Super Dave Osborne' and 'Marty Funkhouser' have left us. Read the rest

More posts