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

RIP, Linux Journal

25 years after its founding, eight years after its last print edition, and two years after a near-death experience that was averted at the last minute by a bailout from the VPN company Private Internet Access, Linux Journal has laid off all employees, has no operating funds, and only plans to have its website online for a few weeks, or "hopefully longer for archival purposes if we can make it happen." Read the rest

Remembering Velma Demerson: Grand soul, feminist, human rights advocate and writer

[Velma Demerson was jailed in 1939 and by the Ontario government for the "crime" of having a Chinese boyfriend; sixty years later, she began an ultimately successful legal challenge seeking reparations; I'm pleased to present this remembrance for Demerson by Harry Kopyto, the campaigning human rights lawyer, who served as one of her advisors -Cory]

On Monday May 13, 2019, Athena Mary Lakes, better known as Velma Demerson, died from old age in a Vancouver hospital at the age of 98. She is best known for her successful legal battle culminating in 2002 against the Ontario Government for incarcerating her in Toronto in 1939 for almost a year. The reason for her incarceration? She was found morally “incorrigible” under the Female Refuges Act for living with a Chinese man, Harry Yip, whom she married after her release. Their son, who was born while she was in jail, was taken away from her until after her release. Read the rest

YTMND disappears

Classic video-clip humor site YTMND ("You're the man now dog!") is gone. Hailing from an era before web video was commonplace, its distinctive juxtapositions of images, superimposed text and looping audio had a towering influence over the emerging web culture of the 2000s.

Death's approach was slow but inexorable. Gizmodo reported YTMND's imminent demise three years ago:

On August 29, 2016, Max Goldberg announced that YTMND would likely soon be shutting down, citing ill health and the site's inability to fund its own hosting fees from ad revenue. Goldberg stated "Besides being a time capsule I don’t really see a reason for it to continue to exist... It seems like the internet has moved on...And I’ve moved on too. I don’t have much interest in the site beyond it being good memories."

An explosion of abusive, politically toxic users appears to have been the point of departure for the site's creator; logins became impossible some time ago due to Google deprecating a Captcha library and Goldberg did not fix it.

Read the rest

RIP, science fiction and fantasy Grand Master Gene Wolfe, 1931-2019

Gene Wolfe, author of more than 30 books including classics like The Book of The New Sun, has died at the age of 87. Read the rest

RIP, science fiction writer Vonda N McIntyre

Vonda N McIntyre, author of the Hugo/Nebula/Locus-winning 1979 novel Dreamsnake, founder of the Clarion West Workshop, and icon of science fiction, has died of pancreatic cancer. She was 70. Vonda and I never really met, but we were on BBSes together in the 1980s and I later taught the Clarion West workshop she founded, and she has always been a significant presence in the field. Read the rest

Airwolf star Jan-Michael Vincent dead at 74

Twice nominated for Golden Globe awards but remembered mostly for his role in 1980s action show Airwolf, Jan-Michael Vincent is dead at 74.

He died Feb 10 at a North Carolina hospital, reports the BBC. He is survived by his third wife, Patricia Ann Christ. TMZ adds that he suffered cardiac arrest.

His CBS hit, "Airwolf," made him into a huge star. At the time, he was reportedly the highest-paid actor at $200k per episode. Jan-Michael played helicopter pilot Stringfellow Hawke on the show, but the series lasted only a couple seasons largely in part to the star's cocaine abuse. His acting career would ultimately suffer from it.

Read the rest

Karl Lagerfeld dead at 85

Fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld is dead at 85, reports the BBC.

The German designer, who was the creative director for Chanel and Fendi, was one of the industry's most prolific figures, and worked up until his death.

Lagerfeld also designed collections for his own brand and collaborated with high street brand H&M.

"I am like a caricature of myself, and I like that." — KL Read the rest

RIP, author Carol Emshwiller

Author Carol Emshwiller has died at the age of 97, after a long and distinguished career in science fiction, fantasy and other genres. Read the rest

RIP, Jeremy Hardy, one of the UK's funniest lefty comedians

I first encountered Jeremy Hardy as a panelist on Radio 4's News Quiz, where he frequently reduced me to tears of hysterical laughter; I went on to buy the full back-catalogue of his old Jeremy Hardy Speaks to the Nation shows and devoured them, going back for several re-listens. Read the rest

Fox & Friends apologizes for announcing death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who lives

Too bad, conservatives!

Fox & Friends apologized on Monday after briefly airing a graphic suggesting that Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is dead.

As the show came back from commercials, they briefly showed a graphic of Ginsburg with the caption 1933-2019.

It's established journalistic practice to have pre-written graphics and obits and whatnot ready to roll for famous people. But having them floating around in production databases and content management systems, one click of a "Publish" button from disaster, is a common mistake. 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

RIP, legendary cypherpunk Tim May

Tim May was one of the founders of the cypherpunk movement, whose seminal Crypto Anarchist Manifesto is still startling relevant today, a quarter century after it was written. Read the rest

Comics legend Stan Lee dead at 95

The legendary comic-book author, publisher, and film producer Stan Lee has died. Read the rest

RIP, Little Free Library founder Todd H. Bol

Todd Bol died yesterday of fast-moving cancer at the age of 62, less than a month after receiving his diagnosis; he was the founder of the wildly successful Little Free Library movement (previously). Read the rest

RIP, Kenny Shopsin, New York City's greatest restaurateur

Kenny Shopsin was the proprietor of Shopsin's, an incredible, storied, secretive, boisterous, tiny restaurant and general store in Greenwich Village, whose cookbook/memoir is a masterclass in sloppy diner chef-craft in the mode of Daniel Pinkwater's Fat Guys From Outer Space. He died this week. Read the rest

Aretha Franklin, 1942-2018

Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul, died in Detroit today at the age of 76. She scored at least 112 singles on the Billboard charts, with 20 number ones. Sir Elton John: "she was one of my favourite pianists."

Photo: Wikimedia (CC0 1.0) Read the rest

More posts