Gandhi, change

A film you need to see RFN if you care about climate change

Out here in Mbabane, the US Embassy today marked the annual celebration of Earth Day by holding a free public screening of photographer James Balog's ground-breaking, jaw-dropping 2012 documentary, Chasing Ice. I was one of the heart-breakingly few who actually showed up for it...and was utterly, completely, abso-fucking-lutely blown away by the incredible true story of Balog's quest to visually document the effects of greenhouse gases on the climate by founding the Extreme Ice Survey.
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headstone, tombstone, death, memorial

In Memoriam: Stanley Victor Freberg, 1926-2015

One of my favorite funny people is gone. Comedian, voice artist, advertising creative and musician Stan Freberg has died in a Santa Monica, CA hospital of pneumonia at 88. The New York Times has an obit here.

Many of the best recordings played over the years on Dr. Demento's radio program were Stan's, including his masterful takedown of holiday-season commercialism, "Green Chri$tma$." Together with such talents as the late Daws Butler, Mel Blanc, June Foray and Billy May, he gleefully bit the corporate hand that fed him, both in the advertising he created for clients such as Chun King frozen foods and Sunsweet prunes and in his own shows on radio and TV and satirical records such as Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America, Volumes I and II. You can read more about his career in his autobiography, It Only Hurts When I Laugh, in hardcover but now probably out of print. And he went on to influence a number of other artists, including "Weird Al" Yankovic ,"the great" Luke Ski and even the Beatles.

Deepest sympathies to his widow Hunter, his son and daughter, and all the rest of his family, friends, colleagues and fans. And to Mr. Freberg himself, thank you for a lifetime of laughter.
  • Current Music
    "Banana Boat Song," Stan Freberg
headstone, tombstone, death, memorial

In Memoriam: Peggy Rae McKnight Pavlat Sapienza, 1944-2015

Three weeks ago, one of science fiction and fantasy fandom's hardest-working, kindest, funniest and most precious people, Peggy Rae Sapienza, entered the Inova Heart & Vascular Institute in Falls Church, VA for surgery and treatment. Yesterday, she died there at the age of 70.

She was one of the first friends I made in northeastern US fandom, way back in the late 1980s when I left my home state of Louisiana for good. I was one of many she cajoled into doing stuff for whatever club, convention or other fanac with which she was involved (usually artwork, in my case) and, as one of her many mourners notes today, it was simply impossible to say no to her.

Best-selling sfnal author John Scalzi has a far more eloquent tribute to her than I could ever muster, posted at his blog here. (UPDATE, 3/25: The web-based version of Mike Glyer's long-running fanzine File 770 has an even better one here.) The last I saw of them was at Loncon 3 (last year's Worldcon) in London, England, UK last August, and neither of them looked any the worse for wear (though John was riding a scooter to get up and down that gawdawful long hall, and I for one did not blame him in the slightest).

My deepest and most heartfelt sympathies to her husband John, her children and all the rest of her family, her friends uncountable, her fellow SMOFs and all the fans she served so tirelessly as a mentor. Wherever your questing soul may be, Peggy Rae, I hope you know that you are loved and missed more than you can possibly imagine.
headstone, tombstone, death, memorial

In Memoriam: Leonard Simon Nimoy, 1931-2015

After several reports on the web, The New York Times has confirmed it: Actor, director, author, photographer and singer Leonard Nimoy has died at age 83 of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at his Los Angeles, CA home. The full story is here.

Most of you reading this already know what a significant figure he was in my life and why, so I won't bother rehashing his career and achievements here. I only wish I'd finally gotten to meet him before this sad day. Deepest sympathies to his widow Susan and the rest of his family, friends, colleagues and fans...and thank you, sir, wherever your soul may now be.
  • Current Music
    "Amazing Grace" as played on bagpipes by Capt. Montgomery Scott
filk music

NEW FILK: For those of you not on Facebook...

Credit sffilk with the inspiration for this: he asked on Facebook whether there was filk at MidSouthCon, and I replied instinctively to the effect that if there wasn't already, there would be if at least two filkers showed up. Then I wondered publicly whether this obvious logical follow-up had been committed by anyone else yet, and he was foolish enough to say "No." Soooo...

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  • Current Music
    Go on—take a wild flipping guess...
headstone, tombstone, death, memorial

In Memoriam: Dominick George "Don" Pardo, 1918-2014

This happened way back on August 19th, and somehow I missed hearing about it until now. Don Pardo, arguably television's most legendary announcer and one of the most memorable voices of my childhood, died that day at the impressive age of 96, peacefully in his sleep of undisclosed causes. The New York Times, newspaper of record in the city where he did most of his work, has an obit here.

Most people these days remember him as the voice of NBC's Saturday Night Live, on which he served until the end of its 39th season last year. Some of us are old enough to remember hearing him in his earlier best-known gig, as announcer on the original Jeopardy! with Art Fleming for 11 years on the same network. ("Weird Al" Yankovic is another one of us who remembers, as he proved some while back by inviting Pardo to do a cameo in his now-classic song parody and video, "I Lost On Jeopardy!" back in the 1980s.) But his career goes all the way back to the late 1930s and radio as well as early TV, almost all of it with the Peacock.

He was the voice of NBC in much the same way the late Ernie Anderson was for ABC ("The Luuuuuve Boat!") They both had distinctive voices and styles, and both introduced me to a great deal of the entertainment I had on the tube growing up. Belated sympathies to his five children, five grandkids and three great-grandkids, and thanks.
  • Current Music
    The SNL or Jeopardy! themes—take your pick
face masks, COVID-19, pandemic, COVID, coronavirus

A new Fanfic Sampler™ for all you Monk fans (c'mon, there have to be a few!)

The now-ended USA Network series Monk has been a favorite of mine almost since it began in the early Naughts, even though mystery is usually not a genre that interests me all that much in books, films or TV. This is largely because of the main character (with whom I identify probably way more than is good for me) and the amazing performance of the actor who portrayed him: Tony Shalhoub, who first came to my attention in the painfully-accurate Disney fandom spoof GalaxyQuest, and has since rightly earned an Emmy® Award for his work in this show. (And if you haven't seen it, good God almighty, go rent a DVD or stream of it somewhere already; you're missing out on some damn good viewing.)

What follows back of the cut is a short-short I wrote of a scene that never happened in the show, but damned well ought to have: the defective detective being honored at an official ceremony for his work by his city's then real-life mayor (who turned up in the show and got just as peeved at Monk as nearly every real-life celebrity he encountered, much like Dr. Sheldon Cooper later on in The Big Bang Theory...except Monk's not nearly as obnoxious). Let me know what you think.
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