January 13th, 2020

storyteller doll

Back to My Normal Life

Celebrity Death Watch: Randy Suess co-founded the first bulletin board system brought on-line. Danny Aiello was a film actor. Felix Rohatyn was an investment banker and diplomat. Ram Dass popularized Eastern religion among baby boomers. Elizabeth Spencer wrote the novel The Light in the Piazza which was later made into a Broadway musical. Victor Shargai promoted theatre in D.C., including chairing the Helen Hayes Award. Ailee Willis wrote hit songs for Earth, Wind and Fire, as well as lyrics for the musical, The Color Purple. Les Chadwick played bass with Gerry and the Pacemakers. Sleepy LaBeef was a rockablly singer. Don Imus was a radio personality. Neil Innes was a comedian and played with The Rutles. Marian Gibbons was a prolific writer, most notably of the Agatha Raisin and Hamish Macbeth mysteries, under the pseudonym, M.C. Beaton. David Stern was the commissioner of the National Basketball Association for 20 years. Don Larsen was the only person to pitch a perfect game in the World Series. Tommy Hancock was a big name in West Texas music. Qasem Soleimani was an Iranian general, responsible for several acts of terrorism. Reuben Herch wrote about mathematical experience. Tom Long acted in a lot of Australian movies. Elizabeth Wurtzel wrote Prozac Nation. Neil Peart was the drummer for Rush. Peter Kirstein put the first computer outside the U.S. on ARPANET. Edd Byrnes was an actor, best known for playing Kookie on 77 Sunset Strip. Mike Resnick was a science fiction writer.

Robert Kincaid was a celebrity chef in Washington, D.C. I have often eaten at his restaurant, Campono, while going to events at the Kennedy Center.

Jerry Herman was a composer and lyricist of Broadway musicals. His well known shows include Hello, Dolly!, Mame, and La Cage Aux Folles. A lot of musical theatre geeks consider Mack and Mabel his best show. He later had a career as a decorator. He was also my final ghoul pool score for 2019.

Buck Henry was an actor, writer, and director, responsible for (among many other things) Get Smart, Captain Nice, and Quark. The latter had to do with a space garbageman and is a lot of fun for those of us who have occasion to talk about space debris.

Qaboos bin Said Al Said was the Sultan of Oman. He was highly revered there (as I learned during my recent trip) and widely credited with modernizing the country and developing it. He was also notable for a neutral approach towards foreign policy that helped him broker deals, e.g. freeing Americans who had strayed into Iran. I am very interested in how things will develop in Oman without him. (His cousin has been sworn in as his successor.) Also, he was my first ghoul pool score of the year.

Non-celebrity Death Watch: Stacey Nakamura was active in MIT Alumni Affairs, including for the Class of 1980. He worked for NASA since graduation and was also active in the MIT Club of Houston. He was a kind and generous man and will be missed by all who knew him.


Book Club: We had a small group for Wednesday night’s discussion of Self-Made Man by Norah Vincent. For those unfamiliar with the book, Vincent disguised herself as a man to experience all-male environments, ranging from a bowling group to an abbey to a men’s therapy retreat. She came away more sympathetic to men than she’d previously been, but she also suffered a breakdown. The one man who was at our discussion was, somewhat to my surprise, the person who liked the book the most. One of the other people completely detested it, largely because of the breakdown. The rest of us had mixed feelings. I had ethical concerns, particularly related to her dating experiences. At any rate, I thought the book was an interesting read.

By the way, there were comments / complaints that asked "what has she done since?" I admit I had not looked things up before the meeting, but 15 seconds of google will take you to her Wikipedia page and note that she has had three other books published, including one having to do with her experiences as a mental patient.

Loser Holiday Party: Saturday night was the annual post-holiday party of Loserdom, i.e. those of us who enjoy the Washington Post Style Invitational. My contribution to the potluck aspect was insalata caprese, which was a success in that I had no leftovers. There was lots of interesting conversation and the usual fun of singing a bunch of song parodies. Overall, it was a nice evening out.

Metro issues getting home were less fun, but so it goes. They had shut down some stations, which would have been okay, but they were not running express buses on the way home, as they had been on the way there. So the shuttle service took about three times as long as it needed to.


Retirement Countdown: I am irritated with a number of admin things at work, so I am happy to report that (as of today), I have 262 days until retirement.

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