September 27th, 2020

storyteller doll

The Latest Catch-Up

Celebrity Death Watch: Tony Tanner was a British actor, who played Littlechap in the film adaptation of Stop the World – I Want To Get Off. Shere Hite wrote about women’s sexuality. Ronald Bell played saxophone and wrote songs for Kool and the Gang. Toots Hibbert was the lead singer of Toots and the Maytals. Florence Howe was a feminist scholar. Sir Terence Conran was a designer, who defined modern décor from the 1970’s through the 1990’s. Bill Gates, Sr. was a lawyer who had a nerdy son. Stanley Crouch was a jazz critic. Winston Groom wrote the novel Forrest Gump. Robert W. Gore invented Gore-Tex. Terry Goodkind wrote the fantasy series, The Sword of Truty. Georgia Dobbins wrote the song “Please Mr. Postman.” Lee Kerslake was the drummer for Uriah Heep. Donald M. Kendall was the CEO of PepsiCo. Jackie Stallone was an astrologer and mother of Sylvester. Tommy DeVito sang with The Four Seasons. Cat Bordhi was a knitting designer. Gale Sayers was a football player, best remembered by people of my generation for the movie, Brian’s Song about his friendship with Brian Piccolo. Sir Harold Evans was a journalist, whose work included editing The Times and, later on, heading Random House.

Diana Rigg played Emma Peel on The Avengers. As a child, I loved to dress my Barbie doll in a black unitard like the one she wore in that role. She also performed in numerous plays, including winning a Tony for Medea.

You don’t need me to tell you who Ruth Bader Ginsburg was. I’ll note that I think her career prior to serving as a Supreme Court justice is actually more significant for her influence on the expansion of civil rights. She was a brilliant and astute lawyer, and, most importantly, knew how to work with people who disagreed with her.

Non-Celebrity Death Watch: Clayton Williamson was a storyteller, who was known for his entertaining story poems. I will miss hearing him at various story swaps on-line.

Anti-Semitic Microaggression: I’m not really thrilled about Ruth Bader Ginsburg lying in state, since that whole concept is antithetical to Jewish tradition, which calls for burial as soon as possible. But what really has me furious was that several people, who should know better, made the sign of the cross in front of her casket. That is a symbol that was used for hundreds of years as an excuse to murder Jews. It is, in my opinion, pretty much like spraying blood on her coffin. I am sure they were not thinking and were acting on autopilot, but I am sick and tired of this casual ignorant microaggression. Shame, shame, shame.

Another Two Comments on Jewish Practices re: Death: A lot of what we do has to do with the idea that everyone is equal in death. We bury the dead in simple shrouds, in plain wood coffins. This is another reason why lying in state is not really appropriate.

Also, we don’t do flowers. The proper thing to do is to donate to charity in memory of the deceased. Flowers, however, are not offensive – just not traditional.

Rosh Hashanah: Last weekend was Rosh Hashanah. I attempted to participate in some services via Zoom, but found things feeling more like performances than I wanted. I am trying yet another shul’s on-line service for Yom Kippur, which at least had their machzor (holiday prayer book) on-line.

National Book Festival: The National Book Festival was this weekend. I would normally have been down at the Convention Center volunteering at it. This year is, of course, abnormal, so the festival was virtual. Due to limited time, I could listen to only a handful of presentations.

Amy Tan talked about her new memoir. There were aspects that seem interesting (a suicidal mother, the deaths of both her father and brother from brain tumors when she was young), but her talk was rather too short to be satisfying.

Heather Cox Richardson is well known for her series of Letters from an American, which are widely reposted on facebook. In this case, she was talking about her new book, which is about how the South became culturally dominant despite losing the Civil War. Her major point was that this represented a philosophy of the few and wealthy dominating over the many poorer people.

Heben Girma is a deaf-blind woman who graduated from Harvard Law School and has become an activist for disabled people. I was intrigued by some of the adaptive technology she uses, e.g. a keyboard someone can type on that translates their typing into braille for her.

Madeleine Albright was interviewed by David Rubenstein and I found their conversation absorbing. Her stories ranged from her famous pins (which will be displayed in a new State Department museum) to funny things her grandchildren say to her experiences at Wellesley. She also talked about her current projects and her friendships with various other people, including Condoleeza Rice and Hillary Clinton. Overall, this was my favorite talk of the ones I listened to.

David Rubenstein also interviewed former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates. I thought he was articulate in his emphasis on soft power versus military power in foreign policy, which is an interesting position for a former SecDef to take.

KDMS Lecture: The Katherine Dexter McCormick Society is one of the groups one becomes a member of by making certain donations to MIT. They have one or more annual events. This year, the annual talk was virtual, of course. The speaker was John Durant of the MIT Museum and he talked about the new museum being built at Kendall Square. It looks like an excellent facility – far larger and brighter than the Mass Ave facility. I’m looking forward to being able to see it.

Other Stuff: Other things I’ve spent time on include book club, playing board games, storytelling (both listening to shows and participating in a story swap). Being busy is good. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.