oxymoron67: (dino head)
My topic is "Chillin' Like a Villain"

This is an intersection entry with [livejournal.com profile] neverletyoupart, whose entry is here.

We did variations on a theme: grandparental death.
Set the wayback machine to 1950 )
oxymoron67: (Default)
Bradbury was one of my two gateway authors to science fiction.

My brother read science fiction, fantasy and horror almost exclusively while we were growing up. I was reading Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson and biographies and histories. (The latter two should surprise no one.)

One day in my early teens, I was in our basement (where we stored our books) looking for something to read and came across I Sing the Body Electric, a collection of his short stories. I figured that this was perfect: if I didn't like the first story, I could put it down. I wasn't committed to reading the whole book.

I was enthralled. I sat there on the cellar steps that afternoon, reading the book from cover to cover.

After that, I read Asimov's Foundation Trilogy and from there, I started exploring Science Fiction.

So, I owe a debt of gratitude to Bradbury for opening my mind to the genre.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Not a nightmare, just ... odd.

In my dream, I was doing ordinary things: washing the dishes, going to work, correcting quizzes... everyday stuff.

But every now and then Kurt Loder of MTV NEws fame would show up and tell me how various musicians died.

While I was washing the dishes, Loder walked in the room and said "Patsy Cline's plane crashed."

And then he left.

He then showed up on the bus, discussing Harry Chapin's car accident.

Finally, while correcting quizzes, Loder appeared in my office to inform me about Jimi Hendrix and how he choked on his own vomit.

Then I woke up. I just lay there for a few minutes, because that was decidedly peculiar.

Bad news

Jun. 22nd, 2010 02:30 pm
oxymoron67: (Default)
This morning, I found out, via facebook, that a friend, Sandy, from my early days at Pitt died.

I haven't thought about him for over a decade. If I recall correctly, he had problems with OCD and paranoia.

He was a nice guy when you got to know him, though he gave off a slightly creepy vibe. He was also the single hairiest person I've ever met.

Now, understand, back then, everyone I was spending time with, myself included, had issues and the threat that those issues will consume whoever has them is always there. I think this is what happened with him. The last I heard (and this was the early 90's), he was accusing friends of plotting against him.

If there is an afterlife, I hope he finds peace there. He's certainly earned it.

RIP.

It's funny. I forget sometimes how fragile life actually is.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Lee Archer, only WWII African-American ace fighter pilot died at age 90."

He was one of the Tuskegee Airmen, an all African-American squadron of fighter pilots in World War II. They were frequently bomber escorts in the European theater in WWII, where they served with distinction.

This may not seem like a big deal NOW, but remember,, back in the 40's, when the Armed Forces were still segregated, the idea of African-American fighter pilots was revolutionary.

The History channel runs a program called Dogfights!, about famous or interesting air engagements during wartime. An episode focuses on the Tuskegee Airmen. It's an interesting show.

Sad news

Jan. 12th, 2010 01:17 pm
oxymoron67: (Default)
Miep Gies has died at age 100.

Miep Gies and her husband hid Anne Frank and her family from the Nazis for two years during World War II. She is also the person who hid Anne Frank's diary.

In interviews, Ms. Geis said that she didn't think of herself as remarkable, that she was doing what she had to do, that sheltering the Franks was the only really human course of action.

This is an extremely common sentiment among the Righteous.

We need more people like them.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Remember the mess surrounding my dad's death and funeral?

Well, it's not the first time that sort of thing has happened.
Family tales of death and dysfunction. )
oxymoron67: (Default)
I mentioned in my last post about how JFK was important to my family. That extended to the entire Kennedy family.

Sen. Ted Kennedy had many of the same faults that his father and brothers did: the womanizing, for example, and Chappaquidick will always be a dark mark on him.

But he was an amazing politician.

When people say that they'd never vote for someone who cheats, I disagree. Many politicians... many people... live complicated, messy lives. a messy life does not make someone ineffectual at his/her job,

When I bring up cheating politicians, it's normally because they are the "oh, no, gays can't get married: marriage is a sacred trust" people or the "we wanted to hang Clinton for this, but its okay when I do it" people. I genuinely don;t care about personal lives.

So... why do the Kennedys matter? They are liberal Irish Catholics. My family (my brother excepted) is liberal Irish Catholic. The Kennedys showed that we mattered, that we had arrived. It is because of the Kennedys that I dreamed that I could be president when I was little. (I don't want that job now.)

My mom remembers when JFK was assassinated. People around her applauded. (She was at the Air Force Base that JFK was supposed to go to after Dallas. She wanted to see him again.*) I'll bet there are some conservatives out there applauding Sen. Kennedy's death, too.

JFK visited McKeesport -- a suburb of Pittsburgh next to where my mom;s family lived) when my brother was a baby. Allegedly, JFK shook my mom's hand and kissed my brother.

While not a surprise, Sen Kennedy's death is the end of an era. His generation of Kennedys are either dead or not int he public eye anymore, while the younger Kennedys aren't really quite as prominent.
oxymoron67: (Default)
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn died. (This is a link to an eight page detailed obit.)

He is, along with Orwell, one of the great political-based writers of the 20th Century. Solzhenitsyn was impressive but very prickly: I don't think he ever warmed up to not living in Russia and then thought that post-Soviet Russia had abandoned Russian nationals. He was also critical of Americans, saying that we were soft and unwilling to die for our beliefs. (Well, most of us)

Considering all he went through, both before and after his publication, I can see why he would think this and why it would piss him off.

But he was brilliant. And his work opened the eyes of people to the horrors of the Gulag and Soviet oppression.
oxymoron67: (hypnobasset)
... I wonder, if there's an afterlife, if God just looked at him and said "Dude, did you actually read what I had those holy people write?

What do we have to thank Falwell for?

1) The Religious Right as a political force (oh, he's not the only one... but he was one of the first, and biggest)

2) The continuing promotion of the idea that queer=evil. And by extension, that different of any kind=evil. At least, the next time some natural disaster hits the US, there will be one less voice saying "This is God's punishment because we do not smite the queers/abortion practitioners/evil evoultion believing scientists/feminists/immigrants/ scary people du jour

3) Another anti-intellectual voice in America. (Evolution = evil, too, after all.)

4) The breakdown of discourse in this country. Again, he isn't the only person to blame for this, but his whole "If you're not like me, you're not just wrong, you're vile. No negotiations!" viewpoint has influenced everything. The hallmark of the American system .. and as far as I'm concerned, the true gift of the Founders -- most of whom had a hard time agreeing on anything, was the lesson that it was all done by compromise.

Hmmm. a legacy I wouldn't be proud of.

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