Still Alive Old Friend

Still, old friend. You’ve managed to kill just about everyone else, but like a poor marksman, you keep missing the target.

Kirk to Khan. Me to 2020

This thought occurred to me when Chadwick Boseman (November 29, 1976 – August 28, 2020Wikipedia died from complications of cancer back in August. The man was so amazing on screen. Now imagine being that amazing while all the time knowing what was eating you alive from inside. The treatments. The pain.

…And still. Some of the best performances ever recorded on film by anyone. I am in awe of him and so many other people out there who strive and achieve against such great odds. It inspires me to keep going. To not give up.

Kirk to Spock. It’s two hours. Are you ready?

Wrath of Khan (the real movie)

Christine Herndon Provence Schulte 1927-2020

Christine Herndon Provence Schulte passed away on Thursday, November 5th, 2020, in the presence of her loving daughter, Sandra.

She was born on October 1, 1927 in Madill, Oklahoma to W. C. “Pete” and Ossie Biles Herndon.  She graduated from Madill High School in 1945 and went on to get her associates degree at Murray State School of Agriculture, Tishomingo, Oklahoma in 1947.  It was there that she met Elmer A. “Bunk” Provence.  They married on Oct 16, 1948 in Stillwater, Oklahoma.  She went on to get her B.S. in Business from Oklahoma State University in 1956.  

After graduation, She and Elmer moved to Lawton, Oklahoma where she worked as a bookkeeper from 1957 until 1963 when they adopted their daughter Sandra Kay.  The family then moved to Altus, Oklahoma in 1965.  

Christine returned to school at Southwestern State University in Weatherford, Oklahoma and graduated in 1971 with a second Bachelor’s Degree in Business Education.  She became a business teacher at Altus High School in 1971 and taught general business classes and typing. Many of her students fondly remember their experiences with her and credit her with their success in business. She continued teaching at Altus High School through the 1984 school year.  

In 1984, she and Elmer both retired and moved to their farm outside of Sterling, Oklahoma, where she attended the First Baptist Church and was a member of the Sterling Ladies Town & Country Club and the Arts & Craft Club. She was also a member of the Comanche County Retired Educators Association and the Oklahoma Retired Educators Association.

Elmer Provence passed away on Dec 17, 1997. She lived alone in the house she and Elmer built until March 2, 2002, when she married Henry J. Schulte.  The Schulte’s lived together on his farm on the opposite site of the same highway that bordered the Provence farm until Henry passed away on April 8 of 2006.

She continued to be active in the social life of her community of Sterling until stricken with illness in 2016 when she moved to Austin, Texas in order to be closer to her daughter. We owe a debt of gratitude to Paul Yanez and all the nurses at Clare Creek memory care home for their tireless work. We know that Mary Belle and the other ladies at the home will miss Christine a lot.

She was preceded in death by her parents Pete and Ossie; her sisters: Janice Robinson and Betty Jane Matthews and her brother, Grover Herndon. She is survived by her daughter Sandra Kay Steele, her son-in-law Anthony Steele and her two grandchildren Alyssa and Gregory all of Austin, Texas, and numerous nieces and nephews. 

We are born with the seed of who we can be, unrealized at our core. To live fully we must find that seed and become the potential person we were always meant to be. It will be the hardest struggle that you can know in order to become that person, and yet it will be the adventure of a lifetime to engage in that struggle.

anonymous

Services will be held at Sunset Memorial Gardens in Lawton, Oklahoma where she will be laid to rest on November 11th, 2020 at 10:30 am. Donations may be made in her name to St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, The Susan B Komen Foundation or the Disabled American Veterans.

Roxanne Longstreet-Conrad 1962-2020

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It was the iguana you noticed first. That much I can say for sure. The bright green iguana named Miss Iggy, who would one day go on to be an invited guest at conventions, a star attraction herself, before age crept up on her too and stole her away. It was the iguana I noticed first. I have always had a fascination for lizards. They simultaneously repulse and attract me with their odd movements and strange eyes. The next thing you might notice would be the smooth mane of raven-black hair. Then it would be the impish grin that seemed always to threaten to spread across her face. Above that expressive mouth were the sparkling eyes full of mischief. That was Roxanne, when we first met.

It was at an Armadillocon. I don’t remember the number or the year, but I know we were there as part of our Star Trek club, and I’m reasonably certain that the only reason I met Rox there was because the Wife was having one of her usual gabfests with her, and I needed the Wife’s attention for something else at the time. So here I was studying the iguana and the face while Rox and the Wife discussed the mutual experiences the two of them had growing up, and the various kinds of fandom the two of them were interested in. They both had a lot in common in those days, still do for the most part, but back then the trials that they both had faced resonated between the two of them.

It is a queer coincidence that Rox died this weekend, a day after Sean Connery. That is one of the things that I remember about her, the fascination we both shared for the movie Highlander, which is the role that I most strongly remember Sean Connery for. When Cat and Rox invited me to stay with them while I took my architectural exam, I remember that she and Cat, her husband, and I sat and watched an episode or two of the series. I can’t say I shared her fascination for the show, but we did both enjoy the narratives that could be constructed around the character of an immortal figure striding unknown through history. The ability to have a single persona witness the rise and fall of civilizations, virtually unchanged.

I had a real appreciation for the easy way that she could write narratives. I have always admired those great storytellers that can weave a good yarn out of almost anything, even if I don’t appreciate the actual stories themselves. The ability to just take a random object and craft a backstory for it is a true talent. The ability to make you see the thing in a new light, even without ever seeing the object at all, but describing it through words alone to the point where you swear that you know exactly what that object looks like. As I said, it is a true talent, and she had that talent in spades.

I wish I could say that I had read all her books and loved them, but I haven’t. I tend more towards an appreciation of a good biography or tome of history than I do almost any work of fantasy. The Wife and Daughter have read most of her books, and they recommend them highly to anyone who will listen to them. For myself, I was more interested in the person, rather than the stories she told. When Rox was at the table with you at dinner, the conversations were always light and lively. She was always quick to laugh and a joy to be around. All of us here in the Steele household are missing her greatly right now. I am so crushed by the news, even a full day later, that I can barely string these few words together as a tribute. I’m sure I will have more to say in the coming days. As the immediate grief lessons, the words will come back to me. They always do.

She was the one who encouraged me to start writing, if what I wanted to do was write. She was the one who suggested starting a blog and just putting my thoughts down in it a few at a time, as the ideas formed in my head. Just write it down, she said. So I did, and so I have. So I will again.

There has been too much death this year. 2020 is indeed a beastly year, and it can’t be over soon enough to suit me.

Sean Connery 1930-2020

How freakin’ malevolent is 2020? It’s the year that killed … James Bond! R.I.P. Sean Connery.

Teddy Durgin

I beg to differ. Sean Connery was not James Bond. Sean Connery was Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez, and he is at your service.

Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez introduces himself – Highlander movie clip

Sean Connery was Draco.

MovieclipsDragonheart (1996) – Draco’s Heart Scene – Sep 17, 2020

Sean Connery was Dr. Henry Jones, Sr.

We named the dog Indiana

Youtube
MovieclipsIndiana Jones and the Last Crusade (9/10) Movie CLIP – I’ve Lost Him (1989) – Jun 1, 2016

Sean Connery was Jimmy Malone.

MovieclipsThe Untouchables (4/10) Movie CLIP – Malone’s Methods (1987) – Oct 6, 2011

…and of course he was also James Bond (James Bond in The Rock?) But those are not the memories of him that I cherish. He will always be Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez to me, astride his horse or dunking the Highlander in the drink just to teach him that he couldn’t drown, because he was an immortal. You believed they were all immortal because Sean Connery sold us on that idea at the beginning of the movie.

Without him Highlander would never have made the impact it made on the 1980’s. Never mind the bad spinoff films, even though they all ended up making money and employing thousands of people for years. Think of the series and the novels and all the other things that came into existence just because Juan Sánchez-Villalobos Ramírez rode onto the screen in that movie the way he did and presented us with that craggy, loveable old face. That was Sean Connery, in my book.

I think making it to 90 the way he did is a fine aspiration for someone whose parents died before they turned 80. All of us should aspire to as long a life as he lived, with the kind of acclaim that he earned. It is a sad and joyous day today, because of his passing. Let us all toast to him in our warm thoughts about what he meant to us, and let our grief be leavened with the knowledge that he will never really be gone so long as we remember him.

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Ruth Bader Ginsburg

My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

This was her dying wish, expressed to her granddaughter. She hadn’t been dead ten minutes before Senate leader McConnell was assuring everyone around him that the thing he argued for under Barack Obama’s presidency did not apply to the vacancy left by the death of the Notorious RBG (Tumblr) Trump intends to nominate someone to the court as early as Monday or Tuesday, even though it can be easily argued that he is president right now because of Mitch McConnell’s refusal to do the very thing that they are both planning on doing, replacing a deceased jurist on the Supreme Court when a presidential election is impending.

The hypocrisy and demonstrable dereliction of duty that is shown on both Leader McConnell’s and Donald Trump’s part when it comes to stuffing conservative judges into the federal courts as fast as they possibly can is beside the point I want to make here today. They have both been bought and paid for by the oligarchs who run this country, have run this country almost from the time of its founding. Their entirely predictable intentions are irrelevant here.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg was only the second woman to serve on the SCOTUS when she was appointed, the first being Sandra Day O’Connor. When she started practicing as an attorney, she had a hard time finding and keeping a job because the law at the time was a practice for men, not for women.

The notion until the ’70s was that the differentials based on gender riddling the law books operated benignly in women’s favor. So women were excused from jury duty—well, that was a favor. Who would want to serve if they didn’t have to? Michigan’s law saying women couldn’t be bartenders—that was a favor, because bars could be pretty raunchy places. Laws like that were rationalized as operating to favor or protect women. The challenge for me was to get the judges to see that, far from operating benignly in women’s favor, these laws, as Justice Brennan said so well in Frontiero, put women not on a pedestal, but in a cage.

theatlantic.com
NPR – Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Champion Of Gender Equality, Dies At 87 – September 18, 2020

Nina Totenberg, the voice of the narrator in that nine minute NPR piece, has covered the United States Supreme Court since she was hired by NPR back in 1975. Nina Totenberg herself has fought many of the battles that the Notorious RBG had to fight. The canned nine-minute segment prepared by NPR in the event of RBG’s death covers the basics of her history on the SCOTUS. It is not enough information if what you want to know is “Who was Ruth Bader Ginsburg?” like I do. To further that quest I next queued up this episode of Radiolab, a rebroadcast of one of their spinoff More Perfect episodes about RBG and her impact on the court.

Radiolab – More Perfect: Sex Appeal – September 18, 2020

In that episode Jad Abumrad mentions that there were two movies made about Justice Ginsburg. I didn’t know about a second movie, so I had to go look it up and watch both of them.

RBG (2018)
Magnolia PicturesRBG – Official Trailer – Mar 7, 2018

I had always intended to watch this movie. I love documentaries and I have a fascination with the how and the why of a Supreme Court justice becoming a rock star. Becoming so famous that she inspired young women and men around the world to wear clothing and accessories (and even tattoos) with her face on it.

I watched the documentary on Hulu.com. It is also available from Amazon Prime (title link above) it is a proper documentary of a person, touching on all the parts of RBG’s life from childhood to 2018 when the documentary was made. Her time working for the ACLU is mentioned in passing, but they don’t appear to identify the attorney that worked with RGB to start the Women’s Rights Project at the ACLU (Brenda Feigen) the movie also goes through several of the cases that she was notorious for winning or writing an opinion about.

…the movie opens with statements of loathing from famous conservative figures. The fact that they hate her so much is a tribute to her dedicated liberal views, which she defended to her dying day. In my opinion, the documentary is the better of the two films.

I can’t imagine what this place would be — I can’t imagine what the country would be — with Donald Trump as our president … For the country, it could be four years. For the court, it could be — I don’t even want to contemplate that.

a faker

He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment.

RBG on Donald Trump. 200,000 dead Americans agree with her.
On the Basis of Sex (2019)
Focus FeaturesON THE BASIS OF SEX – Jul 16, 2018
The law is wrong.

On the Basis of Sex starts with a young Ruth Bader Ginsburg in college and follows her up through her first argument of a case before a court as an attorney. Being an attorney was the job she wanted to do but was denied a chance of doing because she was a married woman with children. There is considerable deviation from the reality of her history in this film. The fictional plotline works to drive the narrative, so it is forgivable. However, it is also two hours long and feels like a two hour film when you are done watching it. The ending is satisfying, so I would give the film a positive review if I were to sit down and try to write a full review, which this paragraph isn’t.

This episode of the Daily from the NYTimes tells how her real history transpired, as opposed to the history provided as a backdrop for On the Basis of Sex.

The Daily: The New York TimesPart 1: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg – Sep 21, 2020

Part two

NYTimes – Part 2: The Battle Over Her Seat

Vox’s Today, Explained on RBG

Stitcher – VOX – Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy, and the future of the Supreme Court, explained

She fought, and she won, battles that put women on equal footing with men before the law, right in the face of an overwhelming majority of contrary opinion. Again and again, she staked out the battlegrounds that legal arguments would be fought over, and she succeeded in making women largely equal to men even without the Equal Rights Amendment to the constitution.

To this day women’s rights in this country are provisional, based on legal precedents won in court and not on constitutional law, and this is because of the actions of the Christianists of the Religious Right. It was through them and their leaders like Phyllis Schlafly that the Equal Rights Amendment failed to be adopted by the deadline in 1979. That women’s rights exist at all from a legal perspective is largely because of RBG; and make no mistake, this is the reason that conservatives and Republicans hate RBG and will ignore her dying wish that the next president be the one to pick her replacement.

This is the important fact, the fact that inspired me to spend a considerable amount of time reading, watching and listening to the history of Ruth Bader Ginsburg over this past weekend. Republicans hate RBG because she is a woman and she has the temerity to speak her mind in the face of legal male privilege. Remember this fact when it comes time to vote in November, not whether or not Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell succeed in making the SCOTUS an organ of conservative dogma. Conservatives and Republicans do not think women and their opinions are worthy of note. Women should be in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. They certainly shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court. If Trump nominates a woman, and McConnell hypocritically gets the nomination approved by the Senate, that woman will agree with this sentiment, just as Justice Thomas thinks black people should be forced into second class status. What he doesn’t say is that he believes this because that injustice will inspire the re-creation of the United States as a black nation.

Conservative/Republican women in politics believe themselves subservient to men and yet attempt to lead anyway. Contemplate this fact until you understand what it means.

Over a long career on both sides of the bench — as a relentless litigator and an incisive jurist — Justice Ginsburg helped us see that discrimination on the basis of sex isn’t about an abstract ideal of equality; that it doesn’t only harm women; that it has real consequences for all of us. It’s about who we are — and who we can be.

Barack Obama
Kiki Bader

John Lewis

Our actions entrench the power of the light on this planet. Every positive thought we pass between us makes room for more light. And if we do more than think, then our actions clear the path for even more light. That is why forgiveness and compassion must become more important principles in public life.

John Lewis

hat/tip to:

brainpickings.org
nytimes.com
ABC NewsBarack Obama’s eulogy for Rep. John Lewis – Jul 30, 2020

Grant Imahara

I liked the challenge of designing and building things, figuring out how something works and how to make it better or apply it in a different way. When I was a kid, I never wanted to be James Bond. I wanted to be Q, because he was the guy who made all the gadgets. I guess you could say that engineering came naturally.

Grant Imahara, dead at 49
Twitter – Adam Savage
Twitter – Kari Byron

Television was never the same without Mythbusters. Mythbusters would never have been Mythbusters without Grant. We’ll miss you.

Remembering Grant Imahara – Still Untitled: The Adam Savage Project – 7/14/20

Moving in Stereo A Dream Away, Maybe Baby?

Ric Ocasek’s death being fresh in my mind (September 15th) I feel like I should say something about the influence of his music here. As many times as I listened to The Cars music and loved it while listening to it, I can’t remember any particular song other than Moving in Stereo that I really felt spoke to me.

I played the hell out of that first album. Alone on the highway, wanting to spend one more hour away from home in Sweetwater. Anywhere but home in Sweetwater. All of the songs on the album were good, but Moving in Stereo‘s funky arrangement, along with the repeated verse,

Life’s the same, I’m moving in stereo
Life’s the same except for my shoes
Life’s the same, you’re shaking like tremolo
Life’s the same, it’s all inside you

The Cars

really spoke to the weirdness of teenage life for me. Had Talking Heads Remain in Light or Speaking in Tongues come out before 1980, that would have been one of the albums and groups I would have turned to for my music at the time. But they weren’t on the scene for me in 1978-1979, and Ric Ocasek and the Cars filled that need to express the restlessness of youth.

The restlessness of the almost-man but not yet man. As that almost-man the Vargas cover of their second album, Candy-O, said things to me that I didn’t understand at the time. The music on Candy-O, like the music on Panorama that followed it was solid pop rock. It just wasn’t that much different from their first album, which overshadowed them.

Then Shake it Up came out. The first side of the cassette was also predictable Cars-style pop music, much like work that they had done before. However, side two of the cassette that I bought started with A Dream Away and progressed through to the end and Maybe Baby. That cassette I also wore out, but mostly just one side of it. An experience lost to time now that you can get songs in whatever order you like but cannot experience the seamless flow of one melody into another melody without pause.

I later bought Just What I Needed: The Cars Anthology on CD, before I started to switch to digital music, and discovered Little Black Egg. another song with that quirky weirdness that really speaks to me.

It was sad to see him go.

You Don’t Even Like Her

Squirrel!

I call her a bitch because it is ironical to me that I can call the dog a bitch and be completely honest and non-insulting in using the term bitch properly. Unlike virtually every other usage of the word in common speech. So sue me.


Editors note. I moved this to the day she left us. It was only a month after I first wrote it, so I didn’t see the harm in doing that. Her health was already sliding downhill at that point, but we were ignoring the signs. Such is the way with things. You tell yourself “it’s just something she ate” until the lab tests come back and it is much more serious than that.

I would like to tell her how much I miss her, now. I see you out of the corners of my eyes, you silly little dog. Then I look at the spot where I thought you were, and I remember that you’re gone. I miss you most when I have to clean up food messes on the floor. That is when I know I don’t have a tiny little dustmop/vacuum dog underfoot anymore.

I look to move you over on the bed at night, and then have to remind myself that I can keep my half of the bed without argument from you. The Wife can sleep through the night without being barked awake so that you can be let out to pee, but she still wakes up anyway. I won’t wake in the middle of the night to discover you’ve pushed me to the edge of the bed again, all the hefty twelve pounds of Pomeranian that you were. I can’t believe I miss that, but I do.

May you always have a warm lap to sleep in and all the cuddles you need, my little Sugar.