Like I said yesterday, while I started a bit early, I wanted to talk about some of the incredibly talented people who’ve left us behind, and now faced with that prospect, I know that there’s no way I can truly do that subject justice. But every year someone famous dies, leaving behind a (possibly) nice body of work, and all we can hope to do is remember them and why we liked them in the first place, right?
“The fall will probably kill you!”
Paul Newman, 1925 – 2008. The George Clooney to Robert Redford’s Brad Pitt. My mother made sure that our household when I was growing up was always very pro-Redford, so other than The Sting and Butch And Sundance, I had to discover Mr. Newman on my own, but even for just those two classics alone, he deserves high notice on this list. And for Road To Perdition. And, of course, for his delightful line of salad dressings.
“Florida, Florida, Florida!”
Tim Russert, 1950 – 2008. Here was the pundit that you didn’t quite realize the worth of until he was gone. This was the everyday kind of guy who knew what he was talking about and wouldn’t let himself be bullshitted. Am I the only person that missed his wild infectious enthusiasm for the sports of politics this last election cycle?
“Who’s the man who would risk his neck for his brother man?”
Isaac Hayes, 1942 – 2008. I don’t think it even needs to be explained why this is such a powerful loss. Just listen:
We’re just gonna try to forget about the whole Scientology thing though, alright?
“I was never one to obsess about the past. Too much to do in the future!”
Sir Edmund Hillary, 1919 – 2008. Mountain climbing and philanthropy. Not too shabby. Hillary, if you don’t know is one of the first men, along with sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay, to reach Mount Everest’s summit in 1953. When Hillary got back, he told his longtime friend, George Lowe, “Well George, we knocked that bastard off.” Awesome.
“One never knew, after all, now did one now did one now did one…”
David Foster Wallace, 1962 – 2008. A real loss. Not only a writer who had impressive output and influence, but who whose better days seemed to be laying ahead for him. Not so much, according to this very informative bit from Rolling Stone.
A remembrance of things past.
Harold Pinter, 1930 – 2008. A heavyweight of storytelling. Do I need to explain why Pinter is fantastic, do I? Do I really (though I still have some questions about The Birthday Party, but I’ll let them slide for the moment)? Maybe I’ll just throw out this clip as proof of the man’s immense worth:
That’s “The Betrayal,” one of my favorite episodes of Seinfeld, based on Pinter’s The Betrayal, but you can also find the entire episode on youtube, only re-reversed, which is actually kind of… unsatisfying.
Falsus in uno, falsus in omnibus.
Michael Crichton, 1942 – 2008. The sad thing is that his dead didn’t have any effect on me at all, you know? And it is sad because when I was ten, Crichton’s books made reading and being smart and most importantly wanting to be smart and enjoy that kind of thing in your reading cool. For a long time, this was the author who released a small masterpiece every few years and typically backed it up with a new degree that just screamed authenticity about whatever his latest cautionary tale was about, but the last few books… Tremendous crap. Not just the writing, but the angles he approached them from (he didn’t believe in global warming and thought that SETI was more religious idealization than anything approaching near science) and petty attacks on critics. He finished one last book before he died and it will be released in May of next year. Personally, I’m crossing my fingers in hope of the redemption of a literary master.
“I want to be evil.”
Eartha Kitt, 1927 – 2008. Not only did Miss Kitt want to be evil, but she made me want to fall in love with an evil girl. An affliction I’m happy to have still not quite shaken off.
“…From my cold dead hands.”
Charlton Heston, 1923 – 2008. This one’s tricky, especially since in the last few years of his life, Heston’s come to stand for and be a proud symbol of a lot of the things I despise in this world. And yet, the man was a brilliant actor once upon a time…
…which may seem like a trite statement when coupled with a clip from Wayne’s World 2 (which is a brilliant movie, alright?), but it’s very indicative of how strong of an actor Heston could be, even in cameos. And cameos were what he specialized in back in the 90s. But try not to remember the man as the racist gun nut that he died as, but as the mega star of biblical classics and Touch Of Evil and The Omega Man and The Planet Of The Apes. Oh, and another thing: “Soylent Green is people!”
“Why so serious?”
Heath Ledger, 1979 – 2008. This is the very definition of an actor cut down in his prime. By the end of The Dark Knight, you’re just hungry for the return of this character the way that Ledger’s played him, but you want to run out of the theater and get your hands on everything this actor’s ever done before and devour it. And sadly, while there’s been some wonderful films in his filmography, there’s also been some crap, and he leaves behind too small of a legacy for an actor so tall in talent.
Shit, Piss, Fuck, Cunt, Cocksucker, Motherfucker, and Tits.
Just note that other blogs will merely refer to the seven dirty words you can’t say on television, but Counterforce goes there and tells you them flat out. We’re fucked up, nasty people, we are. But from there we go into the creator of that bit of comedy, George Carlin, 1937 – 2008, and Bernie Mac, 1957 – 2008. I list them together because they’re both hilarious comedians who’ve certainly made their mark but also because I’m not huge fans of them, but for similar reasons on opposite ends of the sprectrum. Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to too much Carlin, but more of the people who were inspired by him, and yet somehow, I feel like I was more exposed to the comedians who inspired Mac. Somewhere in there is a happy medium in which I respect both of these funny men.
Countdown To Mystery.
Steve Gerber, 1947 – 2008. I end this list with the man you’ve probably never heard of, and that’s a shame. Gerber was a giant in the comics industry, creating Howard The Duck, which you can see up above (and yes, you remember the movie, you know you do)(cause it was hot, sweaty genius, it was)(nevermind it, though, go read the original comics, which were brilliant) and the awesome Omega The Unknown, not to mention work on hundreds of other titles. The man was loud and opinionated and he backed it up with awesome skills. Also, you can watch Howard The Duck on hulu, which you should totally go do right this second.