You can always start a girls softball team

I meant to blog about Charles Lane when he was alive. I came across a random wire article about last summer’s annual I Love Lucy convention, and it mentioned hopes of Lane’s attendance. I couldn’t believe he was still alive and was impressed.

The Los Angeles Times obit is probably the best. The Times writes Hollywood obits and collects American obits better online than any news site around today.

“They were all good parts, but they were jerks,” he told The Times in 1980 of his characters on “I Love Lucy.” “If you have a type established, though, and you’re any good, it can mean considerable work for you.”

James Brown

From The Heart of Rock and Soul: “The only way Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag could be more bone-rattling would be if James Brown himself leaped from your speakers, grabbed you tight by the shoulders and danced you around the room, all the while screaming straight into your face.”

(I have no idea of the copyrighteousness of this site, but you can find a partially databased, searchable version of the book online here.)

And from the Boston Globe obituary, one of the first full-length, non-wire obits published this morning:

“… The rhythmic intensity and daring of Mr. Brown’s music made it uniquely influential. Spin a radio dial in much of the world and you are likely to hear a recording audibly influenced by him or a recording that, through sampling, includes his urgent voice.

“‘JAMES BROWN is a concept, a vibration, a dance,” he declared in the liner notes to his 1991 boxed set, Star Time. ‘It’s not me, the man. JAMES BROWN is a freedom I created for humanity.’

“Excessive modesty was not one of Mr. Brown’s failings. Nevertheless, it’s hard to dispute that evaluation.”

I salute the staff

Ellen sends me their awesome goldfish obit.

Both Little Ed and Little Antonio overcame some type of weird and disgusting skin rash in their early days in the tank together and appeared in recent weeks to be very healthy. They also became virtually impossible to distinguish from one another and a coin flip had to be held later Monday at City Hall to determine which fish had died.

Little Antonio lost.

Read the rest.

Land of 1,000 weak appreciations

The obituaries and appreciations for Wilson Pickett have been weak. Can I say that? For someone who put so much spit into his singing, the reacting writers have seemed all polish. The channeling’s been missing.

I wonder some if his late life affected things. Instead of dying young like Cooke and Redding, he gets old, in trouble with the law, and quiet. Here I’ve been singing Doughnut Sally in my head for years and having no idea he was living a county over. None of the Washington stories make much of his life in the area. There is the possibility his home was just remote. Writes a Rolling Stone reporter: “When I last spoke with him by phone, he told me his spread in Virginia was so country, ‘I see Davy Crockett’s ghost.'” But still — the city’s embraced the horse country just fine.

So, two things. Beau has a nice post in his blog. I disagee on Hey Jude — the Beatles’ Electric-Mayhem ending can’t be beat in my mind — but In the Midnight Hour remains fantastic. Short-playlist oldies stations have killed so much music, but they do not understand the midnight hour anymore and therefore cannot kill it.

The second thing is Charlie Madigan’s column in today’s Chicago Tribune. It’s a tribute to Pickett and has a line I love: “I had not missed a meal in 16 years.”

Why obits are worth reading

Because people are interesting.

“No one disputes that Williams, nicknamed ‘the mayor’ of D.C.’s roller-skaters, skated for decades around his home town of Washington, at 16th Street and Kalorama Road NW, in a wide variety of parades and at the outdoor Anacostia roller rink. Many people in the area’s roller-skating community recognized his flashing smile, his impeccable dress and his long-legged dancing energy, swinging from his waist a heavy silver chain that was his signature.”

Read more about Howard Cordell “Honeyboy” Williams.

Happy Thanksgiving! Fruits of the new world: Part I

Hank Steuver has an appreciation in today’s Washington Post of Ruth Siems.

“Quick! Stir this while we take a sec to give thanks for dear Ruth Siems, who is credited with inventing Stove Top Stuffing in 1972, of which tens of millions of boxes are eaten every year. (Instead of potatoes.) She died last week, but somebody neglected to run her obituary until today, which is such a holiday-rush kind of thing to do.”

I spent a good five minutes yesterday afternoon just trying to figure out why her obituary didn’t circulate until then. Jess suggested orgs held it for the holiday, a theory Steuver would seem to support.

But it also turned out that the obituary in her local paper, the front lines of death and remembering, didn’t run until the 20th. The Evansville, Ind., Courier & Press did a nice job then, with details about her life after Stove Top. (Site registration required.)

The New York Times followed with a staff-written obituary in yesterday’s paper (“… a retired home economist whose best-known innovation will make its appearance, welcome or otherwise, in millions of homes tomorrow…”), and the wire services picked up from there.

‘Who Speaks for Piglet?’

Slate’s Explainer explains, “What happens when a cartoon character loses its voice.” The answer, it turns out, can be a number of things.

The article mentions Paul Winchell, who did the voice of Winnie the Pooh’s Tigger and who died last week at 82. It’s worth noting — because it’s pointed out in some obituaries and not others — that Winchell also voiced Gargamel on The Smurfs and Mr. Owl in the old Tootsie Roll Pop commercials. A-one, a-two….

It’s me, it’s me

Actor Howie Morris has died. Over the course of his career, he played the rock-throwin Ernest T. Bass on The Andy Griffith Show and did the voice of Winnie the Pooh‘s Gopher and Garfield and Friends‘s neurotic Wade Duck (pictured far right). And lots of other characters, but those three were my favorites.

An official Web site, run by Morris’ son, has Ernest T. audio clips. “I ain’t talkin’, I ain’t talkin’, the more you’re askin’, the more I’m balkin’.”

Related past entries:
Otis (Mayberry’s town drunk) or Emeril?
Andy Griffith’s best dramatic role
Why, maybe, I didn’t watch Beetlejuice