Saturday, February 20, 2016

Harper Lee, 1926-2016, R.I.P.

Sometimes, it seems that my posts are mainly comprised of tributes to dead celebrities. Hell, my posts are mainly comprised of tributes to dead celebrities. The process I use as to whose death I note is hit-or-miss, really. There's no telling whom I'll eulogize. This explains posts about people such as Dan Hicks and Vanity, while making you wonder, no doubt, why no mention of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Glenn Frey...

Anyway, today, I must post about author Harper Lee, who was referenced in another post of mine just over a week ago.  Ms. Lee was known as the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, arguably one of the greatest novels written during the 20th century. That's not hyperbole, either. She had recently published a controversial sequel, Go Set a Watchman, published over 50 years after her other only book.

I'll leave it to others to write at length about her upbringing, later life, and legacy. My tribute posts rarely take the form of standard obituaries. I merely want to take note of the passing of such a revered figure in my own life, as To Kill a Mockingbird is and will remain one of my favorite stories.

Thanks for your time.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Denise Matthews, a/k/a Vanity. 1959-2016, R.I.P.

I was rather shocked to learn that Denise Matthews, better known as Vanity (and as D.D. Winters in her earliest films), passed away on February 15. I have to admit I was fairly unfamiliar with her music as part of Vanity 6 in the early 1980s, when she was hooked up with Prince. I instead knew her from movie roles in films such as Action Jackson, 52 Pick-Up, The Last Dragon, and Tanya's Island, and TV roles on shows like Miami Vice and Highlander.

Ms. Matthews had turned her back on Hollywood (and drug use) and become a Christian minister in the 1990s. She was quoted as saying "When I came to the Lord Jesus Christ, I threw out about 1,000 tapes of mine — interview, every tape, every video. Everything."

In my humble opinion, she was one of the loveliest women to grace the 1980s and beyond, and I was greatly saddened to learn of her death at 57 from "longstanding kidney issues." She also suffered from sclerosing encapsulating peritonitis.

Thanks for your time.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

"To Kill a Mockingbird" Planned for Broadway

I just had to share this. In case you haven't heard, Harper Lee's deservedly-acclaimed novel -- and one of my all-time favorites -- To Kill a Mockingbird, is on its way to Broadway, scheduled for the 2017-18 season. The book will be produced by Scott Rudin and adapted by none other than TV and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin.

From The New York Times: Mr. Rudin isn’t the first producer to bring the story of Atticus and Scout to the stage. The playwright Christopher Sergel’s adaptation of “To Kill a Mockingbird” has been staged countless times in schools and regional theaters across the country. It was staged in London in 2013, in a production starring Robert Sean Leonard as Atticus.

It is especially beloved in Ms. Lee’s hometown, Monroeville, Ala., where volunteers have put on the play every spring for the last 26 years. Ms. Lee and her lawyer, Tonja B. Carter, have taken a more active role in the stage production recently, and created a nonprofit, the Mockingbird Company, to produce the play in Monroeville.

But according to her literary agent, Andrew Nurnberg, Ms. Lee has long been reluctant to sell the professional stage rights, despite entreaties by playwrights and producers.

More details may be found here.

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Dan Hicks, 1941-2016, R.I.P.

I was as surprised as anything to read in The New York Times that Dan Hicks had died at age 74. I was mainly surprised because they knew enough about him to write his obituary.

I've mentioned before that I spent a lot of nights watching late-night television as I was growing up. Most of that late-night television watching consisted of talk shows, such as Johnny Carson, Dick Cavett, Joey Bishop, and the like. 

One night on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show -- I was about fourteen or fifteen -- Johnny introduced an act whose latest LP was designed to look like a matchbook cover. The album was appropriately entitled "Striking It Rich." 

With that, a group called Dan Hicks and his Hot Licks took the stage, and played two songs, if I recall correctly: "Walkin' One and Only" and "I Scare Myself."

To quote from The New York Times, "Mr. Hicks began performing with his band, Dan Hicks and His Hot Licks, in the late 1960s in San Francisco, where psychedelic rock bands like Jefferson Airplane and the Grateful Dead dominated the music sound. The Hot Licks’ sound could not have been more different.

"At a time when rock was getting louder and more aggressive, Mr. Hicks’s instrumentation — two guitars (Mr. Hicks played rhythm), violin and stand-up bass, with two women providing harmony and backup vocals — offered a laid-back, all-acoustic alternative that was a throwback to a simpler time, while his lyrics gave the music a modern, slightly askew edge."

Personally, I was hooked. (I also enjoyed another Hicks song, the brilliantly-titled "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Go Away?") And I was, as I stated above, surprised -- and saddened -- to have learned today of Mr. Hicks' February 6th passing.

I strongly suggest you go to YouTube and give his music -- music which he called "folk swing" -- a listen. For some reason, I can't embed any videos here!

He'll be missed.

Thanks for your time.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What's It All About?

Well, fellow babies, I promised you a few days ago (please click here if you missed it) that I'd tell you about my theme in April's upcoming A to Z Blogging Challenge.

This April, I will be posting 26 entries which showcase my love for comic books, both old and (relatively) recent.

Here's the theme:

"Golden Age Comic Book Characters with the Same Name As Modern-Day Characters."

A little wordy, perhaps -- Me? Who'da thunk it? -- but there it is. And in order to make it even more difficult for myself, I've imposed three rules above and beyond those of the A-Z Challenge, rules geared specifically to my theme!

1. The characters can't simply be revamped versions of the originals. In other words, I can't use the Golden Age and Silver/Modern Age versions of Green Lantern, Starman, the Flash, Human Torch, etc.

2. The names must be identical. No cheats like the Golden Age "Doc Strange" and the Modern Day "Doctor Strange." (Yes, I'm that fussy!)

3. The characters must have appeared in comic books, regardless of whether or not they also appeared on radio, television, advertising, and/or in comic strips!

(Oh, good! Blogger's messing with the spacing of my paragraphs today! According to my preview, anyway. Wonder how this'll look when you get to see it.)

So, are you ready to take this journey with me? I hope so...

Thanks for your time.

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