Archive for the ‘Good-byes’ Category

Geeky Good-byes January 2017

February 8, 2017

Geeky Good-byes January 2017

2016 was noted by many people for the number of celebrities we lost. I looked at reasons why that might have been true (and might continue to be true) in

2016: the Year the Stars Went Out?

while at the same time looking at previous history.

This year, I’m tracking it more closely in

2017 Geeky Good-byes

At the time of writing, I’ve made 19 entries just for January 2017. Unfortunately, I may add more…we sometimes don’t hear about deaths right away.

That page is really just a listing, without much narrative.

I wanted to take this post (and I may do one once a month) to a look at a few who really stand out to me. That isn’t to diminish anyone else: we geeks honor everyone who has every done a geek-friendly part or created a geek-friendly work.

Dick Gautier

I was surprised that Dick Gautier didn’t get more mainstream coverage. He was an author and a stand-up, and was nominated for a Tony in 1961. He appeared frequently on TV, including game shows. For geeks, though, he may be best-known as Hymie, the KAOS robot who becomes a CONTROL robot (not unlike Rogue One’s K-2SO, without the snark). Gautier was an unusual combination of being traditionally attractive, and yet funny and comfortable with geek-friendly roles (he would also voice characters for The Transformers and G.I. Joe…for more details, see that Geeky Good-byes page: 2017 Geeky Good-byes).

William Peter Blatty

Blatty was the bestselling author of The Exorcist, based on a real case, and the basis for one some still consider to be the most frightening movie of all time. He also wrote The Ninth Configuration and Legion, but I want to call attention to I’ll Tell The I Remember You, which was more of a memoir. I have a couple of quotations from it in my book of quotations, The Mind Boggles: A Unique Book of Quotations (at AmazonSmile*). It shows more of his philosophy.

John Hurt

John Hurt was one of those rare actors who had both mainstream success and respect (including two Oscar nominations and a Golden Globe win) and a range of geek-friendly roles. The latter include one of the most referenced scenes in movies (in Alien), 2013’s Snowpiercer, the H*llboy movies, more than one Harry Potter movie as Mr. Ollivander, 1984, Watership Down, and more.

We regret their passing (and those of the others on the Geeky Good-byes page), and thank them and those closest to them for their contributions to our lives and the lives of geeks to follow.

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All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

2016: the Year the Stars Went Out?

December 11, 2016

2016: the Year the Stars Went Out?

No question, there have been many sad losses of celebrities this year. For one thing, mainstream news has reported on several actors who played iconic geek-friendly roles…from Willy Wonka (Gene Wilder) to Chekov (Anton Yelchin) to The Man Who Fell to Earth (David Bowie).

People have suggested that this is the worst year to date for celebrity deaths…what we could call “The Year the Stars Went Out”.

Is that the case, though?

Every death matters. It’s not a competition, and each person deserves individual attention.

However, I thought it was worth looking at this idea…I’m always reluctant to frame things in a negative way. Have more celebrities died this year? If that’s not the case, why is that perception there?

My first thought was that there have been other years…and not just recent ones. After all, the In Memoriam segment at the Oscars always takes some time.

The year that immediately occurred to me was 1977. I remembered offhand that Groucho Marx and Zero Mostel had both died in 1977, and that at the time, I noted that there were several other big stars. I speculated then that babies named after celebrities that year might have some odd names (not that I’m someone to speak about the oddness of someone’s name).

To refresh myself, I ran a search for celebrities with a “death year” of 1977 at IMDb:

Most Popular People With Date of Death in 1977 at IMDb

My recollection had been correct. Just from that list:

  • Elvis Presley…arguably, there are no bigger music stars
  • Bing Crosby: an iconic figure, a giant of music, then movies, and TV
  • Charlie Chaplin: a very nostalgic figure at the time
  • Groucho Marx
  • Zero Mostel
  • Joan Crawford
  • Ethel Waters
  • Howard Hawks
  • Andy Devine
  • Eddie “Rochester” Anderson
  • Freddie Prinze: a popular actor of the period, in the category of “dead too young”
  • Of more specifically geek interest were Richard Carlson, Allison Hayes, Jacques Tourneur, William Castle, and Henry Hull

That search returns more than 1,300 names (not all of which will be well-known).

Still, I would say that there was at least a higher public awareness of celebrities who died in 2016 than in 1977.

I think there may be three main reasons for that:

  1. Pop culture now has a much longer “shelf life” than it used to have. Thanks in part to the preservation and distribution enbaled by the internet (following television giving audiences the ability to see older movies, starting especially in the 1950s), people can easily see media which is one hundred years old, which wasn’t the case even twenty-five years ago. Electronic distribution of public domain works is very low cost. There are lots of sources. My own The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project is built on the concept of enjoying older media. When Andy Warhol popularized the idea that “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes…” in 1968, the suggestion was that someone would be famous, and then not famous. Now, it’s much more that if you become famous, you will at least continue to be known to the public forever. See also You’re showing your age when you say, “You’re showing your age”.
  2. Geeks honor their own…and the vast majority of famous actors has a geek connection. Now that geeks are the mainstream (look at the most popular movies in any week), this tradition of ours to recognize actors who have had even a single credit or a small recurring role means that geek-friendly actors get a lot more respect than they used to get. Oscar winners always got coverage: that wasn’t the case with non-stars of geek-friendly TV shows, for example, but I’m now likely to see several articles on the passing of someone like that
  3. The multiplicity of media: there are 24 hour news channels, but also blogs and websites which specialize in geek topics…and those may be picked up by the mainstream

So, I do think part of it is perception…and that perception will continue next year. We will hear about the deaths of stars of the 1960s, 1950s, earlier, and also later. The news media will cover the passing of geek-friendly stars, and we will honor their lives.

Over the next few weeks, we will be updating our 2016 Geeky Goody-byes, where you can see more of a list.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

Why we love Gene Wilder

August 30, 2016

Why we love Gene Wilder

Gene Wilder has reportedly died.

A brilliant actor, who was also a writer and director, Wilder was a study in contradictions, with eyes that were both twinkling and pools of sadness, optimistic and pessimistic, a believer in magic and doubter of the ordinary.

From One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest on stage to two Oscar nominations (for acting in The Producers and screenwriting with long-time collaborator Mel Brooks for Young Frankenstein), there is no question that Gene Wilder was respected.

He was, though, also beloved, especially by geeks like me. We have a special place in our hearts for Gene Wilder.

Why is that?

Three of his best-known roles reveal a theme that helps explain it.

Willy Wonka, the Waco Kid, and Dr. Frederick Frankenstein have some significant similarities (although Wilder’s talent and skill clearly make them distinct characters).

In all three cases, they are superior individuals. Willy Wonka has created an unparalleled business, and appears to have almost magical powers. The Waco Kid may be the greatest gunslinger ever. Dr. Frankenstein literally brings the dead to life again.

They have also all rejected society. If they “played the game”, they could be the toast of the town, the top of their respective fields. Willy Wonka has actually withdrawn from the world. The Waco Kid has crawled into a bottle and  taken a nap there. Dr. Frankenstein has tried to fit in, but once at the castle, casts all that aside to continue his grandfather’s work.

None of that would make them especially endearing.

However, each of them also champions someone rejected by that same society which they have rejected. Willy Wonka does not minimize Charlie, who is poor and not the social equal of the other kids. The Waco Kid recognizes Sheriff Bart for his intrinsic value, unlike many others who at the least discount him out of prejudice. Dr. Frankenstein believes “The Monster” is as much a human being as anyone else.

That’s a clear appeal for geeks and for anyone who has considered themselves the underdog. The powerful person who doesn’t use that power to exclude, but to reach out to those on the fringes.

None of them are perfect. They can all be angry, and cynicism isn’t pretty. That helps, though…we see characters overcoming personality flaws (flaws which they know are there) to help someone who has been denied acceptance.

Again, that’s not to say that Gene Wilde replayed the same character. Those three each have distinct personalities…which wouldn’t have liked each other. In other performances, we don’t always see these three elements…and while the actor could be equally good in those roles, he wasn’t as beloved.

As Willy Wonka, Gene Wilder said, “We are the dreamers of dreams.” “We”…not “I”. There is a kinship offered. “I am like you, and we are not like most people.”

The dreams will live on.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our new The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

David Bowie has reportedly died

January 11, 2016

David Bowie has reportedly died

The Man Who Fell to Earth has fallen.

There will never be another David Bowie.

He was a unique artist…arguably, he was several of them.

He was an outsider, he was an intellectual, he wasn’t like the vast majority of people (maybe not much like any other person)…and he was a superstar.

In short, he was a geek the mainstreamers loved.

It’s hard to overestimate the importance of David Bowie in gaining acceptance (even respect)  for “weirdos”.

Is it fair to claim Bowie as a geek?

Absolutely.

His first big hit, “Space Oddity”, was straight up geekiness (“Ground Control to Major Tom”). Its pop culture impact meant it would show up in other works, including Chandler speak-singing the song on Friends.

One of his early identities was “Ziggy Stardust”, who was featured on the album with the geeky title, “The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars”.

Bowie’s geek-friendly works extended beyond music and music videos.

He was perfectly cast as Thomas Jerome Newton in 1976’s The Man Who Fell to Earth, based on the Walter Tevis novel.

He starred with Catherine Deneuve and Susan Sarandon in Tony Scott’s stylish vampire movie, The Hunger…and would return to the world as the host of the TV series.

For some people, their first thought of David Bowie may be as Jareth, the Goblin King, in Jim Henson’s Labyrinth.

In recent years, he played Nikola Tesla in The Prestige, and did voices for Arthur and Invisibles and SpongeBob SquarePants.

There was always, for me, an echoing sadness in David Bowie’s work. Even a song that had people on the dance floor, like “Let’s  Dance”, still had a melancholy to it.

Today, that sadness rises in me…but it brings with it a proud acceptance of my own peculiarities.

The loss of David Bowie is a hole which will never be filled…and a recognition that absence has a place in our lives, too.

Good-bye, Davie Bowie…the world is less unique without you.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Bruce Hyde has reportedly died

October 22, 2015

Bruce Hyde has reportedly died

Bruce Hyde appeared in just two episodes of the original Star Trek, but made a considerable impression on fans as Lt. Kevin Riley. In licensed works following the series, Riley has appeared in many of the novels…which wouldn’t have happened without Bruce Hyde’s memorable performance.

Actually, “performances” is more appropriate. The two episodes are quite different.

In The Naked Time, Riley is comic relief…singing, “I’ll Take You Home Again, Kathleen”, and declaring himself Captain of the Enterprise. While it’s  funny, the situation is serious…Hyde is not out of character with what we’ll see of Riley later, just as a swashbuckling Sulu is appropriate in that episode.

In The Conscience of the King, Riley is the orphan survivor of a massive execution program who may have encountered the perpetrator.

After a short screen career, Bruce Hyde became an academic, writing on ontology.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

The Year the Geek Stars Died

September 3, 2015

The Year the Geek Stars Died

This has been a devastating year for geeks.

We, perhaps more than any other group, honor actors in our genres. Even if you only had a small role in one geek-friendly movie, you may find yourself interviewed by a fanzine, or invited to be a guest at a con (convention).

Every year, we lose people we consider part of our community. We regret the loss of each and every one, and lament the unfairness if they don’t appear in the Oscars In Memoriam presentation.

This year (and we are only in September) has been one of the most striking…we feel a disturbance in the Force.

Why is that?

Part of it may be that geek-friendly actors and other moviemakers are continuing to work later in their lives…and to appear in more mainstream works. There is no longer a fast and hard divide between “our” actors and “respectable” ones. Oscar winners now routinely appear in science fiction and fantasy movies (and increasingly, in TV shows). There may be a higher awareness of them (creating more media coverage), and longer resumes.

Another part is all of the media outlets. Older movies are easier to see…and more geek TV shows and movies are being made.

Here are some of the biggest stars who we have lost this year (but who we will always have with us on our screens)…any of them could have headlined a convention:

  • Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock from Star Trek (and so much more). Spock is one of my fictional heroes…as is the case for many geeks. That was due in large part to Leonard Nimoy…who, in a true rarity in a geek-friendly role, was nominated for three Emmys for the part. That’s only a small part of Nimoy’s contributions (which include directing Star Trek movies and hosting In Search Of…)
  • Yvonne Craig, Batgirl on the 1960s Batman (and who also appeared on Star Trek…quite a few actors did both shows). While there was pushback about the addition of Batgirl, the character was inspirational for many younger viewers. Craig was also memorable in that Star Trek episode
  • James Horner, one of the most important geek movie scorers (along with Bernard Herrman and John Williams), whose work includes Avatar, Jumanji, and Aliens
  • Rod Taylor is best-known to geeks for starring in George Pal’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine, but also starred in The Birds and was a voice in Disney’s 101 Dalmations
  • Gary Owens was most recognized as the announcer on Laugh In, but did a lot of voice work, including Roger Ramjet, Space Ghost, and the Blue Falcon (as well as an appearance as “1950s Batman”)
  • Grace Lee Whitney was Yeoman Rand, one of the stars of the original Star Trek
  • Christopher Lee: from the 1960s (Hammer star, The Avengers) straight on through the 21st Century (Count Dooku in Star Wars, Saruman in Lord of the Rings), Lee was one of the biggest geek stars. Just listing roles would take up too much of this post, but we don’t want to omit The Wicker Man and playing a James Bond villain
  • Rowdy Roddy Piper certainly is best known to geeks as the star of John Carpenter’s They Live, but has several other geek-friendly credits, including guest appearances on the TV series Robocop,  Highlander, and Superboy, and the movie H*ll Comes to Frogtown
  • Dean Jones was reported dead while this post was being written. Jones is most associated with Disney live action movies of the 1960s, including Blackbeard’s Ghost and The Love Bug. Dean Jones also was part of the worlds of Batman, Superman, and Jonny Quest

There were certainly other losses this year…we list many of them here:

2015 Geeky Good-byes

We recognize the contributions that each and every one of them made to the geek universe, but the number of headliners we have lost this year feels…unprecedented.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Christopher Lee has reportedly died

June 13, 2015

Christopher Lee has reportedly died

Power.

That’s what I think of when I think of

Christopher Lee

From Dracula to Saruman to Lord Summerisle in the Wicker Man to James Bond villain Scaramanga, Christopher Lee always radiated power.

It didn’t matter if the role employed the actor’s majestic voice (and Lee did a lot of work with only his voice), or was without speech. In every case, that old cliché of being a force of nature applied.

Few actors have carried so many movies, or been so geek friendly. He brought a really original interpretation to Bram Stoker’s infamous Count, and (along with Peter Cushing) established Hammer horror. Arguably, our modern culture of “rebooting” pop culture classics owes a lot to Hammer and Lee.

He appeared in geeky TV shows, including a regular role The Tomorrow People.

Clearly, working with Lee was often a good experience, leading to lasting professional relationships with Tim Burton and Terry Pratchett.

In 2001, after more than forty years on screen, Lee appeared in two of the biggest movies of the year…and most successful franchises ever (Lord of the Rings and Star Wars).

Geek friendly roles include:

  • Corridor of Mirrors (1948)
  • Hamlet (with Laurence Olivier)…geek friendly? It is a ghost story, after all
  • Tales of Hans Anderson (TV series…various roles)
  • The Curse of Frankenstein (as the “creature”)…he played this role for Hammer before he played Dracula for the. Peter Cushing was Dr. Frankenstein
  • Horror of Dracula (1958) as Dracula
  • Corridors of Blood (as Resurrection Joe…costarring with Boris Karloff)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (as Sir Henry)
  • The Man Who Could Cheat Death
  • The Mummy (as the mummy/Kharis)
  • Uncle was a Vampire
  • The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll
  • The City of the Dead
  • The Hands of Orlac
  • Scream of Fear
  • One Step Beyond (TV series)
  • Hercules in the Haunted World
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Deadly Necklace (as Holmes)
  • Katarsis (as Mephistopheles)
  • Horror Castle
  • The Whip and the Body
  • The Alfred Hitchcock Hour (TV series)
  • Crypt of the Vampire
  • Castle of the Living Dead
  • The Gorgon
  • Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors
  • She
  • Agatha Christie’s Ten Little Indians
  • The Skull
  • The Face of Dr. Manchu (as Fu Manchu)
  • Dracula: Prince of Darkness
  • Rasputin: The Mad Monk
  • Psycho-Circus
  • The Brides of Fu Manchu
  • Island of the Burning Damned
  • The Vengeance of Fu Manchu
  • Blood Fiend
  • Five Golden Dragons
  • The Torture Chamber of Dr. Sadism
  • The Devil Rides Out
  • Eve
  • The Blood of Fu Manchu
  • Dracula Has Risen from the Grave
  • Curse of the Crimson Altar
  • Two episodes of the John Steed The Avengers (one with Mrs. Peel, one with Tara Kng)
  • Sax Rohmer’s The Castle of Fu Manchu
  • The Oblong Box
  • The Magic Christian
  • Scream and Scream Again
  • The Bloody Judge
  • Eugenie
  • Count Dracula
  • One More Time
  • Taste the Blood of Dracula
  • The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (as Mycroft Holmes)
  • Scars of Dracula
  • The House that Dripped Blood
  • I, Monster
  • Dracula A.D. 1972
  • Horror Express (I find this an interesting movie, with some big ideas…it has fallen into the public domain, so it’s pretty easy to find)
  • Nothing But the Night
  • Dark Places
  • The Creeping Flesh
  • Poor Devil
  • The Satanic Rites of Dracula
  • The Wicker Man
  • The Three Musketeers (and The Four Musketeers, and The Return of the Musketeers) (the Michael York version, as Rochefort)
  • The Man with the Golden Gun (James Bond)
  • Space 1999 (TV series)
  • To the Devil a Daughter
  • Dracula and Son
  • The Keeper
  • Meatcleaver Massacre
  • End of the World
  • Starship Invasions
  • Return from Witch Mountain (Disney)
  • Circle of Iron
  • Nutcracker Fantasy
  • Jaguar Lives!
  • Captain America II: Death to Soon (TV movie with Reb Brown as Cap)
  • 1941 (Steven Spielberg)
  • Once Upon a Spy
  • Charlie’s Angels
  • Tales of the Haunted (TV movie)
  • Goliath Awaits (TV movie)
  • Massarati and the Brain
  • The Last Unicorn
  • House of the Long Shadows
  • The Return of Captain Invincible
  • Faerie Tale Theatre
  • Howling II…Your Sister Is as Werewolf
  • Mio in the Land of Faraway
  • Mask of Murder
  • Around the World in 80 Days (TV mini-series)
  • Gremlins 2: The New Batch
  • Curse III: Blood Sacrifice
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Leading Lady (as Sherlock Holmes)
  • Beauty and the Beast (British animation)
  • Incident at Victoria Falls (as Sherlock Holmes)
  • The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles
  • Cyber Eden
  • Detonator (TV movie)
  • Ghosts (videogame)
  • A Feast at Midnight
  • The Tomorrow People (TV series)
  • Tales of Mystery and Imagination (TV series)
  • Welcome to the Discworld (as Death…yes, by Terry Pratchett)
  • Wyrd Sisters (again based on Pratchett)
  • The Odyssey
  • Tales of the Mummy
  • Sleepy Hollow (Tim Burton)
  • The Rocky Interactive Horror Show (videogame…as the narrator)
  • Gormenghast
  • In the Beginning (as Rameses I)
  • Ghost Stories for Christmas (as M.R. James)
  • Conquest: Frontier Wars (videogame)
  • The Lord of the Rings (as Saruman…the Fellowship of the Rings, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King, as well as videogame versions…and then The Hobbit: The Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: Battle of the Five Armies)
  • Star Wars: Episode II: Attack of the Clones (and Episode III: Revenge  of the Sith, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars) (as Lord Dooku)
  • Freelancer (videogame)
  • Crimson Rivers 2: Angels of the Apocalypse
  • EverQuest II
  • GoldenEye: Rogue Agent (James Bond videogame…reprising Scaramanga)
  • Greyfriar’s Bobby
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Tim Burton)
  • Corpse Bride (Burton, again)
  • Kingdom Hearts II (videogame)
  • The Golden Compass
  • The Color of Magic (Pratchett)
  • Alice in Wonderland (for Burton, as the Jabberwocky)
  • Burke and Hare
  • Season of the Witch
  • The Wicker Tree
  • Hugo
  • The Hunting of the Snark
  • Dark Shadows (Burton)
  • Extraordinary Tales
  • Angels in Notting Hill

Good-bye, Christopher Lee….the world is weaker without you.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Grace Lee Whitney has reportedly died

May 4, 2015

Grace Lee Whitney has reportedly died

Grace Lee Whitney was an integral part of Star Trek.

While Yeoman Rand disappeared from the series, Whitney never disappeared from the fandom.

It was a complicated set of circumstances.

Rand was intended to be an unrequited love interest of Captain Kirk’s, and writers for the series included her in episodes they wrote before her exit (and where her parts had to be reassigned).

Was it because the show wanted Kirk to be unfettered?

Regardless, Whitney had a complicated life, and she overcame hurdles to later return for the Star Trek movies.

It’s important to note that she had almost two decades of screen credits before first appearing in Star Trek…and she had been a successful singer before that (reportedly working with Billie Holiday, Buddy Rich, and Spike Jones).

I actually first think of Yeoman Rand’s interactions not with Kirk, but with Charlie X. Her handling of the unwanted attentions of a super-powered adolescent had a ring of truth…it made me wonder (in later years) about parallels with her real life experiences. That’s not to suggest it wasn’t a strong acting performance: I thought it was, and the way that she has remained in fans’ thoughts show that others did, too.

Geek-friendly credits include:

  • The Unexpected (TV series)
  • House of Wax (in 3D with Vincent Price…as an uncredited Can Can dancer)
  • The original The Outer Limits (Controlled Experiment…starring Carroll O’Connor and Barry Morse as Martians)
  • Bewitched
  • Batman (the Adam West series, in a King Tut two-parter)
  • Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color (with Butch Patrick of The Munsters)
  • The Next Step Beyond (TV series)

Good-bye, Grace Lee Whitney: you showed us that being a beautiful fantasy can be a harsh reality…but one that can be conquered with inner strength.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Leonard Nimoy has reportedly died

February 27, 2015

Leonard Nimoy has reportedly died

More later, but it is with great sadness that we report that Leonard Nimoy has reportedly died.

Update:

We were Spock.

That was part of the incredible talent, wisdom, and (yes, illogically) magic that was Leonard Nimoy.

Geeks everywhere understood Spock. That idea of being different, of not fitting in, but of being seen by others as being superior in certain ways…and nonexistent in others.

While there is no denying the contributions of writers (including Theodore Sturgeon) and producer Gene Roddenberry, Nimoy contributed important elements to the Spock mythos.

Certainly, the Vulcan salute was Nimoy’s. More importantly, though, Nimoy didn’t think Spock should simply punch somebody, and invented the Vulcan nerve pinch. This nonviolent and scientific way of temporarily disabling an enemy really resonated with many of us. It wasn’t dependent on strength (even though Spock’s was superhuman), it didn’t damage…it simply allowed intellect and technique to defeat physicality.

As the old 1960s bumper sticker said, “I grok Spock”…Nimoy did.

Nimoy also understood Star Trek in general…perhaps better than anyone else who directed the original cast in a Trek movie (Nimoy directed two of them).

While many people cite Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan as their favorite TOS (The Original Series) movie, which is understandable, it is reasonable to argue that Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, may have been the best at capturing the spirit of the original.

Think about the “character moments” in the Star Trek movie series, where somebody besides Kirk or Spock get the spotlight. Scotty trying to talk to a 1980s computer. Chekov asking people on the street, in a Russian accent, during the Cold War, where he could find the “nuclear wessels”.

Even Kirk telling the crew to “remember where we parked” an invisible ship illustrates Kirk beautifully…and while you credit Shatner the actor for the delivery,  you have to credit Nimoy the director for the impact of the scene.

When Nimoy wrote I Am Not Spock (at AmazonSmile*: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), it wasn’t to say that Spock didn’t exist or that the actor wanted nothing to do with the character. It was to say that there were two of them…Spock and Nimoy, and that they weren’t exactly the same.

Certainly, Nimoy (actor, director, singer, photographer, mentor, inspiration) made great contributions to the world even if we removed Spock from the resume. Yes, that included mainstream works and recognition: playing Theo Van Gogh, and being nominated for an Emmy (his fourth nomination, after three for Spock) in A Woman Called Golda.

Other geek-friendly credits include:

  • Francis (the talking mule) Goes to West Point
  • Zombies of the Stratosphere
  • Them!
  • The Brain Eaters
  • Twilight Zone
  • The Outer Limits
  • The Man from U.N.C.L.E.
  • Get Smart
  • Mission:Impossible (as Paris, the magician/master of disguise)…multi-season role, essentially taking over from Martin Landau
  • Night Gallery
  • Invasion of the Body Snatchers (the Donald Sutherland remake)
  • Faerie Tale Theatre
  • The Transformers: The Movie
  • The Pagemaster (as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde)
  • The Simpsons
  • Duckman
  • The First Men in the Moon (TV movie)
  • The Lost World (TV movie)
  • Brave New World (TV movie)
  • Invasion America (TV series)
  • Sinbad: Beyond the Veil of Mists
  • Atlantis: The Lost Empire
  • Civilization IV (videogame)
  • Land of the Lost (the remake with Will Ferrell)
  • Kingdom Hearts (videogame series as Master Xehanort)
  • Transformers: Dark of the Moon (as Sentinel Prime)
  • The Big Bang Theory
  • Fringe
  • Zambezia
  • The recent Star Trek movies (as Spock Prime)

The Measured Circle also can not fail to mention Nimoy’s role as the narrator of In Search of… (and later, History’s Mysteries). We had come to trust Nimoy, in some ways, and certainly to see him as science oriented. Having him as the host of this series gave it credibility in a way that many other people would not.

That all only scratches the surface of this remarkable life. Leonard Nimoy directed 3 Men and a Baby, a very successful mainstream comedy. Nimoy had hit records. However, it may be the way he interacted with other people that will be his greatest legacy.

Look at the reactions in social media to his passing. See the stories, from stars, from scientists…and from geeks like me.

I had a hard time figuring out what to say. Spock has been one of my fictional heroes, but I knew much more about Nimoy (without ever having met him) than that. I found a particular resonance in a quote from the series:

“Parted from me and never parted, never and always touching and touched.” Goodbye, Leonard Nimoy: in some way, we were all Spock. Thank you

I will always carry Spock with me.

Goodbye, Leonard Nimoy…the world is simply less without you.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

 

This post originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog.

Christine Cavanaugh reported dead

January 4, 2015

Christine Cavanaugh reported dead

It’s possible that Christine Cavanaugh was the voice of your childhood.

You might not have known the actor’s name, but you may have known (and loved) these characters:

  • Chuckie Finster, the most vulnerable of the Rugrats
  • Dexter of Dexter’s Laboratory
  • Babe (the gallant pig in the movie based on the novel the Sheep-Pig by Dick King-Smith)

Children may have a special relationship with the characters of their youth. It’s not exactly that they seem real, but there is an intimacy between a child and a video character that can be far simpler to achieve than that with those alien adults.

A lot of us geeks watched these shows as adults. We could see, with Chuckie in particular, a…reality that might not have been apparent to kids.

We genuinely felt empathy and felt sorry for Chuckie, but cheered the little guy’s successes. More than some “show geeks”, Chuckie was human.

In Dexter, we got to laugh. We knew it could be frustrating when others don’t get what we do, and Dexter let us let that out.

That was a real testament to Christine Cavanaugh’s talent. For actors who think of voiceover work as just “doing funny voices”, I’d recommend Cavanaugh as an example of the depth of characterization you can bring to a part…even that of a pig who wants to herd sheep.

Other geek friendly roles include:

  • David in the English version of David and the Magic Pearl, a Swedish/Polish cartoon with aliens
  • Gosalyn Mallard on Darkwing Duck
  • Bobby’s World (guest spot)
  • Ritchie Raccoon in the P.J. Funnybunny TV specials
  • Bunnie Rabbot on the Sonic the Hedgehog TV series
  • Marty Sherman on The Critic
  • Bamm-Bamm Rubble on The Flintstones spin-off, Cave Kids
  • The X-Files (in a relatively rare bit of face acting) as Amanda Nelligan in the Small Potatoes episode
  • Oblina on Aaahh!!! Real Monsters
  • 101 Dalmations: the series as Wizzer and Dumpling
  • Birdie in the Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald
  • Guest spot on The Wild Thornberrys

Good-bye, Christine Cavanaugh…childhood will be less sincere without you.

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the  The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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