lazypadawan: (pic#3355346)
When a few people on Twitter mentioned the sudden death of Galactic Drift's Racheal Ambrose (Stinson) last night, I was shocked. Ambrose contributed to the Fangirl Blog and I'd read some of her posts on her own site.

A short news piece on the collision that took her life is here:

In the internet world, it's strange to see people Tweeting or posting on Facebook and a short time later, someone jumps in and says, "So-and-so just died." I did not know Ms. Ambrose personally, only on a name/reputation basis. But she is the second person in my online orbit in less than four months who was lost to a car crash (the other person was on a non-fandom LiveJournal community). Or more to the point, a car crash caused by a moron. And I can't just say, "Wow, that's sad" and move on.

You see, in my job I encounter this scenario all too frequently. Someone no different from you and me is just going about his or her life: driving to school, driving home from work, going on a road trip, picking up the kids from soccer practice, etc.. Then along comes some drunk fool or a guy whacked out on coke or some dumb unlicensed teenager barreling down the street 90 mph and smashes into the victim's car, killing that person. Guns are a point of controversy all of the time, but the Department of Motor Vehicles hands out licenses to kill every day.

There are not a lot of details in the news story, but I can tell you that the local authorities will investigate to see if the collision was a mere accident or if there was a level of recklessness/carelessness that merits criminal charges. The hospital should have taken tests to see if there was intoxication. Even if the driver wasn't drunk or high, if he was speeding or just decided to blow through the intersection, he can and likely will be charged with vehicular manslaughter. He is also potentially liable for civil penalties.

I hope not to offend anyone but just as burglars break into your house to steal your laptop, dangerous drivers steal lives. However, unlike a laptop, you can't get a stolen life back or replace it, and it leaves a lot of collateral damage. My sympathies go out to Ms. Ambrose's husband, her family, and her friends. I've seen the pain of the families in their situation. But I also hope for justice. I'm going to try and keep an eye on this case.

Update: Here's the obituary....the funeral was held today 6/25:
lazypadawan: (time passes)
French sf comics artist Jean "Moebius" Giraud died today of cancer at age 73, just a week after we lost Ralph McQuarrie.

Giraud also did Western comics but fannish types know him best as Moebius, the psuedonym he used for his science fiction work which attracted the attention of Ridley Scott, George Lucas, and James Cameron. Giraud's film work includes Alien, Tron (1982), Willow, The Abyss, and The Fifth Element. He'd also done work for American comics and for video games.

According to Wikipedia, Lucas based the look of the probe droid from TESB on Giraud's designs. It's also notable that Moebius's work was used as inspiration for the prequels. Interestingly enough, the painting Moebius contributed to Star Wars Art: Visions (2010) was inspired by TPM.

Here's Neil Gaiman's tribute to Moebius:
lazypadawan: (brokenheart)
Just posted on

It is with the deepest sadness that we announce the passing of Ralph McQuarrie.

People say you should never meet your heroes. Ralph was the exception to that rule. We were all fans of his amazing art long before we were blessed with his friendship. But once you got to know Ralph it was impossible not to become a fan of Ralph the man.

Ralph was a very special person for many more reasons than his undeniable brilliance with a brush. He was an especially kind, sensitive, deep, modest, funny and fascinating gentleman. And as fine a role model as any one could have wished for.

His influence on design will be felt forever. There's no doubt in our hearts that centuries from now amazing spaceships will soar, future cities will rise and someone, somewhere will say...

"that looks like something Ralph McQuarrie painted."

McQuarrie had been in poor health in recent years. He couldn't attend Celebration V for an exhibit of his work and while he kept autographing books, prints, posters, and the like, he had to abbreviate his signature with a simple "RMcQ."

He created the Star Wars aesthetic and ultimately it was his work that sold 20th Century Fox on taking a chance with ANH. It was also his work that sold Anthony Daniels on playing C3PO.

He started out doing aviation illustrations and artist recreations of the Apollo missions for CBS. His other film/t.v. work include "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "Back To The Future," "Battlestar Galactica," "E.T.," "Cocoon," and "Close Encounters Of The Third Kind."

This was the very first McQuarrie piece I ever saw. I was eight years old and at a mall heading toward a gaming arcade for a friend's birthday party with some friends. This artwork was on an edition of "The Art of Star Wars," which was on display at a bookstore. Already obsessed with all things Star Wars, it grabbed my attention. It was like an alternative view of what was familiar to me. Then I had to get going to keep up with the other kids.

McQuarrie's work has intrigued me ever since, ranging from the whimsical Christmas cards done for Lucasfilm to the action scenes in ROTJ or the hauntingly beautiful snowscapes of Hoth. It was a shame McQuarrie had retired by the time they got around to making Eps I-III, though his work certainly influenced the younger artists taking his place.

Even though I never had the opportunity to meet McQuarrie, fans who did had nothing but glowing things to say about him. He will be missed by friends, family, and those who admired his brilliant art.

Rest in peace.

Update: George Lucas's statement is here:
lazypadawan: (Default)
Whitney Houston was found dead this afternoon in her hotel room at the Beverly Hills Hilton. She'd been in town for the Grammys and had been attending parties the last few days. Houston had had drug problems for years, though at this point we don't know what caused her death at 48. Here's a video from just a couple of nights ago, singing a little for the final time in public:

Houston hit it big in the mid '80s when I was a teenager. By that time, my musical interests had steered toward punk, new wave, post-punk, goth, garage, and all of that alternative/college radio stuff. While Houston undeniably had a voice, her brand of R&B mellow pop that became the staple of soft rock stations across the land didn't do anything for me.

The irony is Houston's initial good girl image--her mother was a known gospel singer--made her uncool to a lot of her contemporaries. Maybe it was never really her in the first place. But it's obvious that desire to escape her image drew her to New Edition's bad boy, Bobby Brown. We don't know when she started using drugs, but being with Brown turned her into a full-blown addict. (He'd had drug and legal problems for years.) The addiction destroyed her career and ruined her voice.

I don't find her early demise all that surprising. She never seemed to get it together for very long, even with Brown finally out of her life. What's really sad is she leaves a daughter behind. What a shame.

Update: Houston was found submerged in a bathtub. Pending toxicology, it's not known if she drowned after falling asleep/passing out or if she died before slipping under water.
lazypadawan: (Default)
Bob Anderson, fencer and stuntman who doubled for David Prowse during the lightsaber duels in TESB and ROTJ, has died at age 89. From the Kurtz Joiner Archive Facebook page:

"It is with great sadness that we report that Bob Anderson, the man behind the lightsaber fights in The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and legendary swordplay in countless other films, has died at the age of 89. We had the very great pleasure of working with Bob numerous times over the years and always found him to be a gentleman, a professional and a legend. It was a privilege to know him and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones at this sad time. RIP Silverblade Bob."

A quick peek at Anderson's (not yet updated) Wikipedia entry shows he worked on a LOT of genre films, up through serving as Sword Master for "The Hobbit." He'd done the same duty on the LOTR movies. Other films where he'd done stunts, coached, or consulted include the first "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, "The Mask of Zorro," "First Knight," "The Princess Bride," "Highlander," "Barry Lyndon," "Superman II," and a few James Bond movies.
lazypadawan: (brokenheart)
There are Beatles and Stones people; one of my gags is that I'm neither...I gravitate toward everyone who died from a heroin overdose in 1970: Jim Morrison of The Doors (true fact: I visited Morrison's grave at Pere Lachaise in Paris), Jimi Hendrix, and Janis Joplin. (I'll throw in The Velvet Underground too.) All were unbelievably talented and way ahead of their time. But they lived the dark side of the '60s. At first, the happy hippies smoked weed. Then they sought enlightenment though psychedelics. The rich rockers then got their hands on the drug of kings, cocaine. By the time everyone was rolling around in the mud at Woodstock though, they were killing their pain with heroin.

1970 seemed to be the watershed year for a parade of rockers and counterculture figures to die from drugs. Just the year before, Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones died at 27 from a drowning while drunk/high. (Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol's muse/fashion icon, died of a drug overdose the following year at age 28.)

In 1994, Kurt Cobain, a long-time heroin addict, blew his brains out at his Seattle the age of 27.

So, as I've followed the career of singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse the past few years, I knew deep in my gut she wouldn't make it past that age. No matter what she or her family tried to do to get back on track, she'd fall of the wagon and get herself into trouble again. If you're a hardcore drug addict who's failing again and again at recovery, and you're all of 25, you're not going to hang around much longer. Winehouse was rumored to have been using meth and crack among other drugs. She had been recently attempting a comeback but was booed off the stage at one show and had to cancel several others. She hasn't been doing much in the studio since 2007. Her recent career consisted of getting arrested and getting photographed looking way too thin and snookered out of her mind.

Her 2006 album "Back To Black" now comes across like a suicide note, the last coherent thing she was able to say before descending into a long slide into the grave. Even the remix of "Rehab" with Jay Z features the prophetic line: "Ima o.d. til I'm at peace like Anna Nicole," referring to Anna Nicole Smith's death (drug-related) in 2007. Here was someone who ought to be at the top of her game but drugs and marriage to a grade-A loser destroyed whatever momentum she had. Granted, she was a troubled person for pretty much her whole life. Family problems and impulsive/destructive behavior were intertwined with her talent. Her legacy now are "Back To Black," 2004's "Frank," and several singles. But as you know and as I know, nothing helps your legacy in rock and roll more than a death in youth.

It's a shame. Winehouse didn't have an easy life and she leaves behind family and friends who I'm sure are devastated. So here's the Jewish mourner's prayer, the Kaddish in Amy's honor:

Glorified and sanctified be God’s great name throughout the world which He has created according to His will. May He establish His kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

May His great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be He, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us

and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

He who creates peace in His celestial heights, may He create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.
lazypadawan: (Default)
Today came the news that I knew was going to happen...Borders is officially going out of business. Liquidation starts on Friday, with plans to have all of the 400 remaining stores closed by September. Borders had already closed scores of shops after it declared bankruptcy. I think there was only one left in town. Almost 11,000 people are going to lose their jobs.

Never again will I wander into Borders while at the Old Navy or Marshalls in Mission Valley, where some kind of ren faire-type music was playing over the soundsystem. Never again will I get the coveted 40% off coupon or use my Borders card. No more perusing the racks of magazines for fun stuff like some Star Wars cover I'd missed or some esoterica like Fairie or Gothic Beauty magazine (I'll have to go to Barnes & Noble for that). No more scooping up new Star Wars novels and books about Star Wars the day they came out. No more in-store Seattle's Best; I'm not a coffee drinker but I liked their handmade colas and tasty treats, pre-weight loss. No more big in-store promos for blockbuster movies. I remember back in 1999 my local Borders in Tysons Corner, VA had a party to celebrate TPM's release. Little did we know it was aimed at kids but they had homemade Wookiee Cookies and we helped the store employee pronounce all of the characters and planets correctly during story time. I got some swag that's still in my collection today.

The internet, technology, and the economy have been rough on the big box business model that became popular in the 1990s. Borders simply made every dumb mistake a business could have made, especially its inability to catch on to e-readers/digital books in time and its inability to compete with Big stores have lots of overhead, tough to meet with rising rents for lots of square footage and declining sales. Borders could never compete price-wise with its music or DVDs. I couldn't believe that most of its CDs were $16-20 apiece. If you really wanted a CD, you could get one for ten bucks at Target. Or you could get with the 21st century and download a whole album for $9.99-$12.99 with extra content on iTunes. If you don't have an e-reader yet, one can buy books for less at Walmart, Target, or Costco if you'd rather not wait for Amazon to deliver. For too long, the big bookstores encouraged browsing over buying. I've known people who have read entire books in the store without ever buying them.

Whether B&N can continue to hang on and how much of an effect this will have on the publishing industry remains to be seen.
lazypadawan: (Default)
Yesterday I was saddened to see via Twitter that Elisabeth Sladen, who played the ever-popular companion Sarah Jane Smith on “Doctor Who” and on her own show “The Sarah Jane Adventures,” died at age 63 from cancer. Many people, even her associates, seemed to have no idea she was sick. I had no idea and apparently no one in DW fandom knew either.

Back in 1980-81, the only way I could see DW on this side of the Atlantic was on PBS and I just happened to have stumbled across the show one night while channel surfing. Thus began my brief foray into the Tardis. The episodes PBS aired were a couple of years old, so my introduction to DW was through the team of Tom Baker and Lis Sladen. I was hooked and I loved the relationship between the Doctor and Sarah Jane. Sarah Jane was in her own way a kick-butt heroine even though she was just a regular gal (she was a reporter or something, right?) who got caught up in this loony situation. She had no superpowers. She couldn’t swordfight or beat men up. She wasn’t a hottie who pranced around in a sexy outfit. But she was smart, sassy in her own British way, and wasn’t afraid of calling the Doctor out when it was necessary. She began to see her time traveling adventures as her new normal and it’s funny to see on “The Sarah Jane Adventures” someone who had long since learned to view the extraordinary as well, just a part of life.

Even though Lis, as she was often called, originally left the show back in 1976 after just three years, she never left the hearts of her fans. She always remained popular with DW fans and with sf/Brit t.v. fans. I never had the opportunity to meet her or see her at a con, but everyone who met her said she was as awesome in real life as she was on t.v.. She came back to DW in 2006 and got her own show a year later. She never ran from DW and never complained about it. She was happy to be associated with the show. And that’s always a nice thing to see.

Here’s Tom Baker’s tribute:
lazypadawan: (brokenheart)
Irvin Kershner died just a few hours ago in Los Angeles at the age of 87...I literally just saw it now on Twitter and TFN.

It's not a big surprise given Kershner had been battling cancer for a long time. He was going to only make one convention/public appearance this year in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of TESB, and that was at a show in Anaheim last spring, which he had to cancel due to poor health.

More on Kershner later.
lazypadawan: (Default)
Leslie Nielsen passed away this evening at the age of 84 from complications due to pneumonia. Cut for video tributes )
lazypadawan: (Default)
Barbara Billingsley, who played one of American t.v.'s best-known sitcom moms June Cleaver on "Leave It To Beaver" back in the '50s, passed away the other day at 94. Can't complain about a a full life. She seemed to be a gracious woman, and really, she never lost her looks. No wonder Eddie Haskell was always kinda flirting with her.

Joining Billingsley in the Big T.V. Studio In The Sky is Tom Bosley, who played one of American t.v.'s best-known sitcom dads Howard Cunningham on "Happy Days" back in the '70s. Bosley was also a regular on one of my guilty pleasure favorites from the '80s, "Murder She Wrote," and was the star of "The Father Dowling Mysteries."

They really don't make shows like they used to.

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