Showing posts with label passing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label passing. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

My Uncle Donald Pearce has Passed

On Thanksgiving night, Thursday the 24th, my uncle, Donald Pearce, passed.  He was 94.  

Donald was married to my mother's sister, Violet.  Violet, seventeen years older than my mother, passed before I was born.  But together Donald and Violet produced my cousin, Susan, who is more a big-sister to me as she lived with us on and off while I was growing up and she's lived in Austin since 2000 or so.   Donald remarried, and so I grew up with an Aunt Vivian, who passed away when I was in college.   

My earliest memories include Donald visiting us when we still lived in Michigan, so I was 3 or 4.   But he was a fixture in my life as we'd visit he Upper Peninsula of Michigan every summer where he and Vivian lived, and they were avid road travelers, so you never knew when they'd roll up in the driveway and we'd get to have them for a while.  He was always quick with a joke and to make observations that hilariously cut to the point with a matter-of-factness that hit just the right note.  

Friday, September 18, 2009


Digger claims Jamie for Spain

Godspeed, Mr. Kitty.

pic courtesy Doug

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Good-Bye to Digger the Cat

We're sad to report that Digger, Doug's much loved cat, has passed.

When Jamie and I began dating, Doug was living in Austin working for one of the sky-rocketing tech companies in town. It was fairly routine that Jamie and I would visit Doug at his apartment, where, one day Doug literally found several kittens on his doorstep. Doug would adopt one of the cats and his friends the others.

As a dog person, Digger was the first cat I actually liked. He liked to play, wasn't prone to clawing one's leg for no reason, and seemed interested in people. He was a very friendly guy, and was, in no small part, part of why I considered getting a cat before we were in a house and could get a dog. Doug was also one of the first people who I saw who didn't treat his cat like a conversation piece, but genuinely played with and had a relationship with his cat.

Later, Digger would make the move with Doug to The Bay Area in the company of former roommate Russ and Digger's sibling, Disco. Digger was one of several cats at the now legendary Silicon Valley homestead The Sneaky Frog. Later, Digger would be joined by Dixie.

And when Kristen and Doug began dating, Digger gave Kristen the stamp of approval.

But almost as long as I've known Doug, Digger has been in the picture. He's been a good pal to Doug, and (if you ask me) a good ambassador for his species.

When we visited Berkeley this summer, I am happy to say that Digger was in good spirits and came out to play with us, making a playscape of some packing materials and generally not showing his age.

Of course, Doug was with Digger almost every day of his life, and Kristen has been the past few years as well.

Sadly, as these things go, Digger is an older cat, and he recently became ill. I am sorry to report that he passed today. Our thoughts are with Doug and Kristen.

We'll miss you, fella. A lot of people loved you.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

John Hughes Merges with The Infinite

John Hughes wrote "National Lampoon's Vacation". For that reason alone, the man deserves your respect. You may discuss your love of "The Breakfast Club" (which I wrote about here not all that long ago), but I was more of a fan of the "Vacation" movies, "Planes, Trains and Automobiles", and especially "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". That doesn't mean I don't like the more Ringwald-centric films. But you have to have your favorites.

Like everyone else, I was shocked to hear the man who was behind so many of the culture-touchstone movies of my generation has passed at 59.

There's not much else to be said that hasn't yet been said. The man made a lot of movies, many of them good, many of them entertaining when he moved into family faire (I kind of liked his '101 Dalmatians' live action movie. So sue me. I like puppies.).

And that's not a bad legacy.

Thanks to Nathan C. for the alert and Variety article.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Jeff Wilson (aka: Crackbass)

I am reminded that its now been three years since the passing of Jeff Wilson. Jeff, Sigmund and Kim were struck on July 3rd, and Jeff passed several days later.

Let's keep Mandy and Jeff's family (by blood and otherwise) in our thoughts this holiday weekend. And keep Jeff in mind, too.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Guest Column: Nathan C has "A Few Words About the Gloved One"

Editor's Note: As I mentioned, Nathan was the first to alert me to Jackson's death. Nathan Cone has, since I met him, unapologetically and (I believe) unironically adored the work of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. And, in fact, for no particular reason I can recall, I associate The Jackson 5's "ABC" with Nathan. I assume we grooved to it together sometime in the mid-90's.

He's been so gracious as to share a few words eulogizing The King of Pop, and a few personal memories.

by Nathan Cone

Incidentally, that was always my favorite nickname for Michael Jackson, “The Gloved One.”

The League knows that I have a special place in my heart and in my record collection for great R&B. Michael Jackson, and his brothers in the Jackson 5, provided a slice of heaven to this listener every time I dropped the needle on one of their records. From “I Want You Back” to “Smooth Criminal,” few could match the grooves of MJ.

A lot of folks in the media went on and on about his music, and of course his problems, but I’ve noticed very few commented on his dancing skills (NPR was an exception). I’ve been re-watching a lot of video clips this weekend, and he was an astonishing talent. He was graceful, like Fred Astaire. He was so much more than the Moonwalk and the crotch grab, and I think a lot of people forget that.

Thriller. Amidst the impressive statistic that it’s the best-selling album of all time, I think even more incredible is the fact that seven of the nine songs on the album were hit singles! Wow.

I was as shocked as anyone to hear of Michael Jackson’s passing last Thursday, but not really conflicted about it. I had already gone through the mourning process years ago, right around the time of the Lisa Marie Presley marriage and on-stage kiss, I believe. MJ addressed his weirdness with a self-knowing humor in the video and song “Leave Me Alone,” but by the 1990s, he was just pissed off, and backed away from the public eye. So despite a few musical salvos from the Gloved One, we’ve really been without the Michael we know for 15+ years. He had long since moved from being on top of the world to being a punch line, and that’s no place to be.

I always wished Michael Jackson would call up Quincy Jones. Clearly their collaborations had a kind of magic to them, like Miles Davis & Gil Evans. I can only imagine what would have happened had they decided to work together again.

Finally, although the League, Mrs. League, Bug, and the rest of the Trinity crew can attest that my imitation of the Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back” dance routine was inspired but weak, I was a badass at the “Moonwalker” video game.

Three memories:
1. When “Thriller” premiered on MTV, I remember sitting in front of the TV with my brother Marcus, eating Oreos and watching the video. (And even at 10 years of age, I thought that disclaimer about the occult on the front end was odd.)

2. My friend David Hardisty had one of the “Beat It” red knock-off jackets. I tried it on, knew I looked like a complete dork wearing it, and promptly removed it.

3. While home in Spring during college, David Wilcox and I went to Sound Warehouse one night, and I bought “Off The Wall” on cassette. I think David felt that in the early 1990s, it was a very kitschy, post-grunge thing to do, to drive up and down F.M. 1960 blasting “Rock With You.” But I think secretly he loved the music as much as me.

So long, Gloved One.

Bonus Memory: One of my earliest Jackson memories involves the totally over-the-top video for the Jacksons’ “Can You Feel It.” Dick Clark introduced it on American Bandstand one afternoon, remarking about the incredible visuals. Years later, it’s kind of cheesy, and amazing that the sound effects overpower the music throughout most of the song, but this is a cool video. Dig the way the Jacksons portray themselves as demi-gods. Ha ha!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Billy Mays: The Great Beyond's Newest Pitchman

What a strange, strange week.

Television pitchman Billy Mays joins McMahon, Fawcett and Jackson as the fourth celebrity death in a week. Mays was a smaller blip on the cultural radar than any of other three, but was a television fixture for several years.

He was the gentleman with the unmistakable voice and beard who I first recall seeing pitching "Oxi-Clean".

Leaguers, I know this sounds a little weird, but I actually did wind up buying Oxi-Clean, and that stuff works wonders on the many potential stains my pets leave around the house. So if you don't trust Billy Mays, there's your unpaid endorsement from a trusted source.

Mays might have been yet another bizarre fixture of bad-timeslots on TV, but had recently been a part of a show called "Pitchmen" on the Discovery Channel. I've seen an episode or two, and it was interesting to see how the whole process works. And, of course, you got to see Mays as more than just a gadfly intensely hawking products.

At last check, no details had been forthcoming around May's death, except that he had been on a flight that had a rough landing. Mays was quoted an mentioning that he'd hit his head.

Folks might dislike Mays as they associate him with the annoyance that is the infomercial, but as the Oxi-Clean thing worked out for me, and I liked his how on Discovery, I thought he was okay.

So long, Billy. You went too soon.

Farrah Fawcett - Now chatting it up with Charlie in a better place

The passing of Farrah Fawcett would have been the big headline had the sudden death of Michael Jackson not occurred within hours.

I didn't follow Fawcett's career, in particular. I was quite young during the Charlie's Angel's era, and when "The Burning Bed" aired, I was at an age where that probably wasn't going to be something I was watching.

When I think of Fawcett, literally every time, this is the image that comes to mind:

I don't know what the current status is, but at one point, this was (by far) the best selling poster, ever.

Even many Central Texans don't know that Fawcett is a Longhorn. She's actually from Corpus Cristi, and attended UT circa 1968. The crazy bit is that, according to Wikipedia, she lived in Jester. Who knew?

She was in a large number of film and television projects, and somehow managed to be married to Lee Majors at one point, which is awesome (and had such an impact, I heard one eulogy incorrectly identify her as Farrah Fawcett-Majors).

Of course Fawcett had most recently been in the public eye with her fight against cancer.

Interestingly, Fawcett's 1970's style had become re-adopted by today's youth, whether they knew the source of the look or not. But a quick Google Image search is kind of interesting.

In this image, Fawcett has just run out her door in time to see the ice cream truck is now too far down the street to catch

So long, Farrah. You'll be missed.

Friday, June 26, 2009

McMahon is now Issuing Sweepstakes Winnings Across the Infinite

editor's notee: Man, this week is messed up. We don't have many weeks where the "celebrity deaths come in threes" thing winds up taking up the bulk of the output. So, yes, I will get to Ms. Fawcett.

So, Ed McMahon died this week.

If you grew up pre-cable or when cable was considered a luxury, then you really only had one TV choice after the evening news, and that choice was "Carson". Sure, it was technically "The Tonight Show", but nobody actually called it that. I have no idea what the numbers were, but the American who didn't think of Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon and Doc as welcome pals in their living room were few and far between.


We sort of loved the fact that it wasn't clear what Ed's job actually was. Sure, he intro'd Johnny and chatted with him before the guests came out, but was that a job? Didn't matter. There he was, each and every night, occasionally jumping into the conversation with the guests (who often seemed delighted to meet McMahon, where Johnny made them nervous).

In many ways, if Johnny was the cool guy at the party, McMahon was a mix of Carson's drinking buddy and everyone's favorite uncle.

And, yet, McMahon DID carve out an entirely new role as second banana on TV, and coined phrases that a generation or two can still be heard repeating.

"You are correct, sir!"
and, of course...
"Heeeeeeere's Johnny!"

classic Carson banter moment

We were happy for him that he landed Star Search, and tuned in to see him try to coach the spokesmodels through their segments without coming off like an idiot. We associated him with the possibility of winning a big sack of money from American Family Publishers. We all opened those ridiculous envelopes (and kind of looked forward to them) because Ed McMahon was such a genial pitchman, even when we knew the odds of winning were roughly equivalent to being hit by a meteor.

There are many things in this universe that are pretty horrendous, ridiculous, and in need of ridicule. In my world, Ed McMahon is not one of them.

more or less how I really remember The Tonight Show

The passing of McMahon, while not entirely unexpected, is one of those things that reminds you that a generation is disappearing, and with it, their culture. Retired since 1992 or so from the Tonight Show, today's college Freshmen (born in 1991ish) will have no concept of who the man was, just as the death of Jack Paar went unnoticed by myself and my generation.

As a face, voice and talent, I'm going to miss Ed McMahon. Even in his final years, when his trophy wife blew all his money (well done on still having a Trophy Wife, Ed!), McMahon seemed to get through his situation with a smile.

I'm seriously going to miss that guy.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Mixed Feelings and the King of Pop

On the phone:

Jamie: ..hello!
Me: The King is Dead!
Jamie: What?
Me: The King of Pop is dead. Long live The King!
Jamie: ...what?
Me: Michael Jackson is dead. Nathan sent me an article. I'm late coming home because I had to verify before going to print.
Jamie: He's dead? (long pause as Jamie is clearly opening laptop and going to CNN) Oh. Oh my god.
Me: Yeah.
Jamie: That's so... weird.
(long pause)
Me: Some mixed feelings, huh?
Jamie: Yeah.

I was 7 or so when Thriller hit the radio. Its got to be hard for anyone born after 1978 or so how absolutely important Michael Jackson was to the pop culture scene between 1982 and 1985. Jackson then disappeared briefly to re-emerge with "Bad",. Soon after, things would turn poorly for the entertainer.

Look, I actually really, really like Michael Jackson's "Thriller" and big parts of "Bad". And "Smooth Criminal". And so while we started to hear weird stories almost immediately (trying to buy "The Elephant Man's" bones, the zoo at Neverland Ranch), it wasn't until I was in high school that the first accusations about impropriety with a kid began to creep out. This was all pre-Internet, so the stories came from supermarket tabloid covers and shows like "A Current Affair". But during one lazy summer, MTV showed the video for "Bad" over and over. And I sorta learned the whole thing. I mean, yeah, I needed the video for reference. I'm not exactly Usher. And, yeah, it's been many a year, but there was a time when I was flopping around my living room imitating The Gloved One. Poorly.

I'm not really sure I need to fill anyone in on the details of the scandals. Either of them (younger readers may not remember the first batch, but they were there).

The truth is that I'm not really sure what the hell happened during those cases. Jackson's, frankly, bizarre and secretive lifestyle made it easy to believe just about anything.

So what do you do? Shrug at the death of a guy who somehow escaped justice time and time again? Or mourn/ pity a guy hounded by the media and possibly falsely accused of one of the most grave crimes an individual can perform?

I have no idea.

About two weeks ago I was going to do a post about latter-era Michael Jackson, but got lazy. I was going to talk about videos from "Dangerous" and the video for "Scream" and "Black & White". But... I sorta thought nobody would be interested.

Here's some other stuff.


Smooth Criminal

The one that's my first memory of Jackson: Billie Jean. Dude seemed so cool.

Latter era Michael Jackson: Scream

Early era (totally rad) Jackson: Don't Stop Til You Get Enough

The Jackson 5 rocks the frikkin' house:

And, man, it wouldn't be complete without Thriller.

. This video, btw, got MTV banned in my house for a year when The Admiral spied the zombie make-up, decided it was too scary (ignoring that we'd seen the video 100 times before that), and locked it out on the Scientific Atlanta box.

We almost lost cable again, circa 1987, thanks to George Michael's "Father Figure" video, which The Admiral would mistake for soft-core pornography, until I pointed out that they don't show softcore during the 6:00 hour on basic cable.

Here's more Thriller.

Thrill the World Austin 2008

Phillipines prison

The King of Pop merges with The Infinite

It seems only fitting that I would learn of Michael Jackson's passing from Leaguer Nathan Cone.

Nathan just sent this in from Variety.

The League of Melbotis is, despite all, a fan of the Thriller album and believes "Wanna be Starting Something" is nothing less than pop genius.

Its just the last 20 years or so that complicate things.

RIP, Michael Jackson.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Aunt Joann

I did not grow up knowing my aunt Joann terribly well. My paternal grandmother's sister, she lived in Mesa, Arizona, which was pretty far away when I was a kid. However, she came to visit when I was in college, and Jamie and I were thrilled that she was able to join us in Austin when when we got married.

And, of course, when we moved to Arizona, she lived only about 30 minutes away. We spent a few holidays with her, would go visit on weekend, stuff like that.

Unfortunately, Joann developed Alzheimer's while we lived there. I assisted my Uncle Kirk (Joann's son) in getting her squared away in a retirement complex, set up her care, etc... I have to give Joann props. She probably had signs of Alzheimer's for a while, but she was incredibly sharp, and most likely was covering for quite a while to keep folks from realizing she was forgetting things, etc...

My aunt Joann passed this week. I found out today while at the conference. While I was only able to know her for a short while before she began having trouble with her memory, and as much as I enjoyed spending time with her even after she began having problems, I'll miss her.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

David Carradine Merges with the Infinite

David Carradine, star of dozens upon dozens of movies and most famous for his roles in "Kung-Fu" and "Kill Bill" has passed.

The League of Melbotis wishes you Godspeed, sir.

The death was very much unexpected, and news is still breaking. From CNN.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

The First Lois Lane merges with the infinite

I am sorry to report that Joan Alexander, voice actress who played Lois Lane on the long-running Superman radio program, has passed. She was 94.

Alexander also played Lois Lane in the Fleischer cartoons of the early 1940's.

I think if you go back and listen to the radio program or watch the cartoons, you'll find Alexander was part of the image making of Lois Lane as tough-as-nails, hard-working city-gal. Its a different take from the great Noel Neill, lovely Phyllis Coates or unstoppable Margot Kidder, with a bit more of East Coast flair to it.

At any rate, she'll be missed.

Here from the Washington Post

'tip o' the hat to the Superman Homepage.

Friday, January 16, 2009

RIP Wyeth

Andrew Wyeth has merged with the infinite.

The picture above is called "Master Bedroom" and has followed me from bedroom to bedroom for about 12 - 13 years. And I suppose it probably always will.

I used to have a print of "Christina's World", but I have no idea what became of it. I don't think I'd had it up since 1997 or so.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009


RIP Ricardo Montalban

Oddly, I watched the last thirty or forty minutes of Star Trek II just last night.

So long, Mr. Montalban. May you find your own Fantasy Island.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

I did blog... just not here

I've started a new column currently titled "Routine InfoCom" at Comic Fodder.

check it out. We discuss women superheroes, what "morals" means in superhero comics and why it makes me itch, the racial make-up of Krypton and more.


Next week, perhaps we will discuss politics, religion and sex.


By the way, today was kind of tough as I finally got in touch with Jenny V. Jenny was Mel's original caretaker, who raised him from puppyhood until he was two. At that time, Jenny moved to Manhattan and Mel came to live with us.

I remember Mel's first appearance at a party when he had just moved in with Jenny. I picked him up with one hand, looked him in the eye and informed him he would be such a big, big boy.

It was heartbreaking in so many ways to have to share with Jenny what had happened. But I am glad she knows, and I'm glad we spoke.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Funeral for a Friend

This morning we headed down to Barton Springs spillover to give Melbotis a good place to be, and to have an opportunity for us to say a kind of good-bye. We'd mentioned that we were doing it, publicly, but I sort of figured it would be me, Jamie, and Jason if we could get Jason out of bed.

Instead, we were joined by Steven and Lauren, Matt and Nicole, Jason, Reed and his daughter, Meredith. I could say something about how Matt held us all up by insisting on being late and making everyone stand around in the cold, but I won't. We'd decided ahead of time that we weren't going to stand around and eulogize Mel. We care a huge amount about him, but... you know, words usually fail, anyway.

So when Matt and Nicole showed up (eventually...*), we all tromped down to the water and Jamie and I thanked the folks who came. It was oddly empty down at the water's edge. I'd never been to the spillover when there wasn't a single person or dog around, and, yes, it was fairly early and it was cold here this morning, but it was still strangely quiet.

I tossed a ball for Mel out to the middle of the creek so he'd always be able to play. We spread his ashes into the water and sent him on his way with a Milkbone.

Afterward, we packed it in and went to Shady Grove for lunch, where we were met by Letty and Juan.

All in all, it was a lovely day. And a reminder of how amazingly lucky we are to have friends who show up on a 45 degree morning sometime before noon to help us wish Mel godspeed. The whole week, honestly, has been nothing short of overwhelming with the thoughts and expressions of friends, family, surprise web posts, strangers... It is a good old world, sometimes. And its funny how even when he's gone, Mel, and all of you, have helped to remind me that's true.

So thanks to each and every one of you.

Good-bye, buddy. There are many people who love you very, very much.

*I kid because I love. But, seriously, if I die, we're not waiting on Matt to get his coffee. Just bury me, for chrissake.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Special thanks to my folks, who sent a card in the mail. They've donated some money to the Austin Humane Society in Mel's name.

Also, Mel's passing has received a mention at the high-profile comics site "The Beat", written by seer of all comicdom, Heidi MacDonald. It was a bit odd to stumble across the mention amongst discussion of Chip Kidd, the upcoming Spider-Man musical by U2 (yeah, you read that right), and a call for a female-starring superhero movie (I vote for WW). We honestly weren't aware that Heidi had any notion of what we were up to here at League HQ, so we not only appreciate her condolences, but giving Mel the high profile goodbye that the League's hit count can't quite muster.

It's the last link at the bottom of this post.

Jamie picked up Mel's ashes today from the vet. Included in the bag of materials we received was a one page insert including a story where the pet crematorium got its name, Rainbow Bridge. I think its exactly the sort of thought I'd like to have about my guy right now. I think pet owners should read it.

My comic addled brain originally couldn't figure out what the name Rainbow Bridge had to do with the Rainbow Bridge leading to The Mighty Thor's Asgard.. but it works for me either way...

For those of you wondering (because I know you'll e-mail me to ask), Mel's ashes are in a plastic bag inside of a lovely cedar box, about the size of a jewelry box.

She also found this plastic insert from one of Mel's old toys which was designed to allow you to record your voice so the pet toy would use your disembodied voice to re-assure your pet. That was, of course, kind of creepy when you were home, so we removed the voice box years ago. It seems that I recorded myself prompting Mel to speak. So Jamie has taken that little fragment of Mel's voice and had put it in her iTunes.

I vaguely remember getting mel to speak, but I know that bark, and I can totally picture his excited face with his ears all cocked up and his eyes all bright as he's prompted to bark in the house (something he rarely did without permission from Jamie).

So we have a little bit of Mel's voice. And I think I have Super-Hi-8 tape of me playing with Mel from around 2001. I need to find that.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Saying Good-Bye to Melbotis

For folks in Austin, if you have some free time, we're going to spread Mel's ashes at 11:30 on Saturday morning at Zilker Park. I believe the game plan as of this evening is to head down to the Barton Springs spill over (which I'm not sure is entirely legal, but...). We're going to go down there at 11:30 on the side you enter off of Robert E. Lee Road, by the ballparks. No real ceremony. We just want him in a place he loved, and a place that when we go back (and we will, quite often), we'll know he's there.

Here's a map. Wear sneakers.

After that, I hope to head for lunch somewhere on Barton Springs, so if nothing else, come on out for a burger or something. Mel would want for you to eat the giant hot dog at Shady Grove.

You know, its been better, in general. Getting back to work certainly helped (and its crazy busy at work, so I'm staying distracted). But something will invariably happen each day that, even if it isn't necessarily simply missing Mel, still seems to throw me for a loop.

Today that was receiving an envelope in the mail from the Texas Veterinary Medical Foundation. It seems that our veterinary hospital, Century Animal Hospital, had donated to the Foundation in Mel's name, and the TVMA Foundation had sent us a card informing us of the donation. The Vet's office had also sent us a lovely sympathy card signed by the entire staff.

Perhaps this is something they do for every pet they must help complete their journey (I would actually hope so), but it was a reminder that our vets, who were right there with us, who were the ones looking for every avenue to help Mel, and who were the ones who guided us through Mel's surgery last year that gave us an entire extra year with our boy... Anyway, they were there, too.

So, thanks so much to the Century Animal Hospital crew.