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fauxklore
05 August 2019 @ 02:03 pm
Celebrity Death Watch: Howard Engel wrote Canadian mysteries, featuring a detective named Benny Cooperman. Pumpsie Green was the first African-American player for the Boston Red Sox. Yao Lee was a Chinese singer. Patrick Winston directed MIT’s AI lab for about 25 years. Paul Krassner was the editor of The Realist. Art Neville sang and played keyboards with his brothers. Barney Smith founded a museum of toilet seat art. Russi Taylor was a voice actress, notable for playing Minnie Mouse. Hamza bin Laden was a terrorist, son of Osama bin Laden. Harley Race was a Hall of Fame wrestler. D. A Pennebaker was a documentarian. Ian Gibbons played keyboard for The Kinks.


Johnny Clegg was one of the greatest South African musicians, known as the "white Zulu. He performed both alone and with Juluka and Savuka. He was also an anthropologist and taught at the University of Witwatersrand. I was privileged to see him perform during his farewell tour. (And, yes, he was on the ghoul pool list.)

John Paul Stevens was a Supreme Court justice. I admired his opinions, which were generally liberal. My favorite Stevens story, however, involved somebody who questioned his wearing bow ties, accusing him of having clip-ons. Stevens just stood silently, untied his tie, and retied it. That’s class in my book. (Also, he was on my ghoul pool list.)

Vivian Paley was an educator, noted for promoting storytelling as essential for young children. She wrote a number of books, of which The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter is particularly well known.

Orania Papazaglou wrote mysteries both under her own name and, more famously, as Jane Haddam. I’ve enjoyed both the Patience McKenna series (under her own name) and the Gregor Demarkian series (as Haddam). Her death has not been widely reported, but someone I know forwarded a mention from a mystery writers’ blog I consider reliable.

Hal Prince was a theatre director and producer, responsible for many of the greatest Broadway musicals, starting with The Pajama Game and including Cabaret and many of Sondheim’s musicals. And he had the good sense to turn down Cats. Without Prince, there really would not be concept musicals. Almost nobody else had as great an influence on the American theatre.

Nuon Chea, known as Brother No. 2, has died. He was Pol Pot’s deputy and oversaw the massacre of thousands at Tuol Seng prison. Normally, I prefer not to speak ill of the dead, but he merits an exemption. Good riddance to an unrepentant evil man.


Genealogy 1: Being home the week between the NPL con and a business trip meant that I was able to meet my cousin, Amnon, and his wife, Rachel, for dinner one night. They stopped in D.C. on their way from Seattle back to Israel largely to donate some items to the Holocaust Museum. Anyway, we had a lovely dinner and conversation and it was great to get to know some Bruskin relatives.


Genealogy 2: I was contacted by somebody researching the surname Nadel / Nodel from Dusetos, Lithuania. It’s a small enough town that we are almost certainly connected. I just need to have time to look at her tree and see if I can figure it out. What is particularly interesting is that there appears to be an artist in this line, too, from what she said in her email.


Genealogy 3: I just learned that my great-great-great-grandfather, Wulf Schwartzbord, was a coffeehouse owner and coffee dealer in Poland in the 1840’s. This explains a lot.


The Band’s Visit: I went to see the touring production of The Band’s Visit at The Kennedy Center a couple of weekends ago. I’d seen and liked the movie it was based on and the musical is reasonably true to the film, though felt less political. The plot involves an Egyptian police band that takes a bus to the wrong town in Israel. There are no more buses that day, so the residents put them up overnight. People connect, partly through music and partly through basic humanity. It was sweet and believable, with warmth instead of spectacle. The score is a mix of Middle Eastern music and American jazz, with a small dash of klezmer. The most memorable song is "Omar Sharif," in which Dina (the Israeli café owner) and Tewfiq, the Egyptian band leader, bond over a mutual fondness for old Egyptian movies. All in all, it made for an enjoyable afternoon.

By the way, we stayed a bit longer at the Kennedy Center because the Millennium Stage production that day was a tribute to the moon landing. The Chromatics are an a capella group who specialize in songs about astronomy. Their show had less to do with the moon landing specifically than I’d have liked. And they didn’t have any new material, so I was a bit disappointed. But it was free, which is always a good thing.


Business Trip: I had a last-minute business trip to Los Angeles, which was complicated by pre-existing plans to go to the NSN Summit in the Bay Area. I ended up leaving my flight home from San Francisco intact so had an odd-looking itinerary. The trip went fine, though it was exhausting with 10 to 11 hour days every day. And I have a follow-up trip next week which we just found out about today. Oy.


Still to come – a bunch of storytelling stuff to write about.

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