Monthly Archive: March 2008

Walken is 65

Actor Christopher Walken turns 65 today.It’s also been 30 years since his Oscar-winning 1978 turn in The Deer Hunter.The IMDB puts his career tally at 110 film and TV appearances, and counting.

Are You Saying “Boo” or “Buu-uush?”

George W. Bush threw out the first pitch of the baseball season last night in Washington, D.C. This morning the hot question seems to be: Did he get booed or cheered?

Dith Pran, Subject of The Killing Fields, Dead at 65

Dith Pran, the Cambodian journalist who survived the massacres of the Khmer Rouge, and whose story was told in the book and movie The Killing Fields, has died at age 65. The cause was pancreatic cancer.Besides the obituary linked above, The New York Times coverage includes one of their “Last Word” videos of Pran, propped up on pillows, telling his story one more time.

First Lady or ‘First Laddy’?

With the recent addition of Cindy McCain, we now have profiles of all three of 2008’s potential presidential spouses: McCain, Michelle Obama, and Bill Clinton.What to call Clinton if he becomes the nation’s first male First Lady? He himself has the best idea so far: “My Scottish friends suggested ‘First Laddy.'”

Karen Allen: Only a Cameo?

Perhaps we spoke too soon about the delights of having Karen Allen return to star opposite Harrison Ford in the upcoming Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.

Precocious Julia Stiles

Wait… Julie Stiles is only 27 today?That means she was just 21 when she played a CIA operative in The Bourne Identity in 2002?Surprising. Of course, only in Hollywood could crucial national security issues be put in the hands of a callow 21-year-old who… oh, wait.Stiles, as an aside, was born the same year the Beastie Boys were founded.

The 97-Year-Old Voice of the Yankees

Lovely, warmhearted George Vecsey column today about Bob Sheppard, the Yankee Stadium announcer since 1951.Sheppard is cagey about his age, but Vecsey notes that he played football at St. John’s from 1928-32. (Wikipedia claims Sheppard was born in 1910.) Still, he just signed a two-year contract with the Yanks.

Poyekhali, Yuri Gagarin!

Russian space pioneer and superstud Yuri Gagarin died 40 years ago today.

“I Think They’re Barking Up the Wrong Tree”

“Choosing from the parachutes he had was like choosing whether to take a Cadillac or a Volkswagen to California… The one he didn’t use was padded and very good. The one he used would cut you in the crotch area when the parachute opened. It would have worked, but it wasn’t the best choice.”Skydiving instructor Earl Cossey, who packed the parachutes used by D.B.

D.B. Cooper’s Parachute Found?

A parachute that may have belonged to skyjacker D.B. Cooper has turned up in rural Washington state.The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports that the parachute was uncovered in rural Clark County, where kids found the parachute while playing in a recently-plowed field.

The Anti-Novelist Speaks

“Since the publication of Repetition, I’ve gone to bookstores to sign books and there’s a crowd of only young people. No old people. Let’s put it this way: I was once fashionable. And when I was in fashion, nobody read my books.”-“Anti-novelist” Alain Robbe-Grillet in a juicy 2003 interview with Bookforum.

Lordy, Lordy, Look Who’s 661

St. Catherine of Siena was born this day in 1347.She arrived about seven years after bawdy author Geoffrey Chaucer, who then outlived her by 20 years. Saint Catherine herself died at 33.There must be a saying to fit that juxtaposition.

Marriage Notes from All Over

Last month we noted the remarriage of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, four months after his divorce from Cecilia Ciganer-Albeniz.

Anne Rice’s Easter Message

“Look: I believe in Him. It’s that simple and that complex. I believe in Jesus Christ, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, the God Man who came to earth, born as a tiny baby and then lived over thirty years in our midst. I believe in what we celebrate this week: the scandal of the cross and the miracle of the Resurrection.

McQueen < 80

Last week we mentioned Steve McQueen and his chase scene from Bullitt.


“Yes, Albany is a hotbed of furtive boom-chicka-boom.”The Washington Post, trying to get a handle on David Paterson’s first week as governor of New York.

McQueen’s Mustang

“The new Dark Highland Green Bullitt… rides on five-spoke dark argent gray satin finished Euro-flange cast aluminum wheels featuring a polished machined lip that resemble early American-style mags. The special wheels are shod with ZR performance-rated rubber.”That’s The San Francisco Chronicle going all Euro-flange about a new replica of Steve McQueen’s Mustang from the 1968 movie Bullitt.

Libby Disbarred

Scooter Libby has been disbarred due to his 2007 convictions for perjury and obstruction of justice.He can, however, apply for reinstatement in 2012.

Obituary First Lines: Arthur C. Clarke

The first lines from selected remembrances of Arthur C. Clarke, who died on Wednesday in Sri Lanka:”Arthur C. Clarke could claim to have inspired, among other things, the development of communications satellites and the space race. Yet he never drove a car.”  -The Age of Melbourne

The Impeccable Death of Bernard Herrmann

Movie hound Nick Clooney on the making of Martin Scorsese’s 1976 film Taxi Driver:Scorsese recruited Bernard Herrmann to write the musical score, even though the extraordinary composer-conductor was then terminally ill. At sixty-four, Mr. Herrmann had made his mark in radio, the concert stage, opera, and most notably, motion pictures. After a long stint at CBS — where he met a young Orson Welles — he began his movie music career at the top.

Philip Roth +75

Philip Roth has hit the three-quarter-century mark.The author of Portnoy’s Complaint was born in 1933 — same year as Willie Nelson and Yoko Ono.

Remembering Raymond Burr

Delightful reminiscence of actor Raymond Burr, sent in by reader Susan Brown-Barbour:”I met Raymond Burr in 1976 in Landers, California at Gublers’ Orchids. I worked there as a laborer/fill in lead person. He was very much into orchids at this time, and came to check out 2 large greenhouses for possible leasing from the owners.

Text of Obama’s Speech on Race

Here’s the full text of Barack Obama’s speech on Tuesday in Philadelphia. Courtesy of The Chicago Tribune.

Arthur C. Clarke Dies Tomorrow

“The problem with reincarnation is that it’s hard to imagine what the storage medium for past lives would be. Not to mention the input-output device. I hesitate to rule it out completely, but I’d need pretty definite proof.”-Arthur C. Clarke, 1999

Anthony Minghella Dead at 54

Anthony Minghella, the Oscar-winning director of The English Patient, has died at age 54.Early reports listed no cause of death. The BBC now says that he “suffered a fatal haemorrhage in London days after having surgery for cancer of the tonsils and neck.”

Clive’s ‘Crafty Tab’

“As a kid, he was once caught having a crafty tab in the woods and frogmarched home by a family friend. His mother was furious with him. ‘And how working-class is this?’ he laughs, as he spins the Loachian tale. ‘When the woman had gone, my mother said to me, “If you’re going to smoke, you smoke in our house, not outside.”‘”-From a Sunday Times (UK) interview with actor Clive Owen

The Pilot Who Shot Down the Little Prince

Editor Paul Hehn, manning the Fairy Tales and Air Power desk, has just profiled Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, the author of The Little Prince.He passes along this odd little report from The Mail (UK) about a WWII Luftwaffe ace who loved Saint-Exupéry’s books — and just found out that he himself shot down the author in 1944.

Now Governor Paterson

David Paterson was sworn in as governor of New York today.Newsday has the story and the photos.

Old Enough for the Cyber Discount?

Sci-fi author William Gibson turns 60 today.He was 34 when he coined the term cyberspace and 36 when his groundbreaking novel Neuromancer was published in (ahem) 1984.

Saint Patrick +1623

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.Nothing about Patrick’s life is particularly clear, but he seems to have been born a mere 1623 years ago, in 385. (Not on March 17th, though, as far as we know.) That would have made Patrick a contemporary of St. Augustine of Hippo and of Theodosius the Great, the last emperor of the unified Roman Empire.

Le Jazz Theremin

Ever want to hear Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life” played on the Theremin? Here’s your chance.(Tip from Mike Duffy in the Who2 boiler room.)

Enchanting Amy Adams

Enchanted was the movie on Delta’s SFO-CVG flight today. Amy Adams is just terrific. I couldn’t stop smiling.And I was watching it without sound.

Still Pushing

Fitness guru Jack LaLanne, still doing push-ups at age 93.(Side note: LaLanne was born the same year as the guru of anti-fitness, William S. Burroughs.)

Walt Whitman Won’t Die!

The Washington Post remembers its coverage of the final days of poet Walt Whitman in 1891 (and 1892).Biography fans should visit the Post’s wonderful blog Post Mortem, source of the Whitman piece. Obituary writers Patricia Sullivan, Adam Bernstein and Matt Schudel use the blog to reflect on their craft and on the people they cover.

Barack On ‘Black’

“The notion that it is of great advantage to me to be an African American named Barack Obama and pursue the presidency, I think, is not a view that has been commonly shared by the general public.”

Spitzer Resigns, Sort Of

New York Governor Eliot Spitzer has resigned.Sort of. He is still governor, but announced today that he would step down next Monday, March 17th. (St. Patrick’s Day, coincidentally.) He’ll be replaced by the current lieutenant governor, David Paterson.

Sweet Not-Quite-Baby James

Singer James Taylor is 60.The fan site James Taylor Online is still a great source for Taylor-mation, 14 years (!) after it was created in 1994. Plenty of fan sites lose steam after a few years, but this one has been a “steamroller” right along.

Anthony Quinn Trivia

According to his BBC obituary:”His first child drowned, at the age of three, in W.C. Fields’s swimming pool.”

Basic Instinct is 16; Sharon Stone is 50

We almost missed it: actress Sharon Stone turned 50 yesterday.It’s been 16 years since her star-making turn as the krazy platinum vixen Catherine Tramell in Basic Instinct.

More on “Client 9”

For news and commentary about Eliot Spitzer — aka “Client 9” — we recommend the Political Bulletin from U.S. News & World Report. They have copious links to all the krazy details of this story.

New Profile: David Paterson

We’ve just published a new profile of New York’s lieutenant governor, David A. Paterson. The current governor, Eliot Spitzer, hasn’t said that he’s stepping down. But you never know.Paterson is an unusual guy: not only the first African-American lieutenant governor in state history, but also nearly blind since infancy. His dad, Basil Paterson, is also an old pol in New York and national Democratic circles.

Biography Review: Schulz and Peanuts

A few quick notes on Schulz and Peanuts: A BiographyBy David MichaelisPublished in 2007 by HarperCollinsFans of cartoonist Charles Schulz have sometimes wondered why his strip Peanuts lost its starch in the 1970s.

Gopher, Isaac, Ethel, Etc.

We were in Miami or St. Thomas, hanging out on one of the aft decks at a bar, waiting to shoot. This guy came up — turns out he was some mid-level executive at Princess Cruises. He said, “I had to come over here and talk to you two guys because — how do I say this? — you guys have made me so rich! I can’t believe it! This show is such a hit! We’re all making so much money! My God!” He just went into this paroxysm of euphoria about how successful he was. Then he calmed down and said, “Sorry, sorry. Do you want a Pina Colada or anything?

The Unpredictable Box Office King

Which actor is the all-time champ in box-office receipts? Based on the total gross income of all his films, that is.(Hint: It’s not Tom Hanks.)The answer here. The women’s champ is more predictable.

Yow! Nine Years

Nine years already since Stanley Kubrick passed on.Less surprising: 40 years since the release of his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey in 1968.Later that year when Playboy asked him “What does it all mean?”, Kubrick had some suitably deep thoughts.

WWI and Still Kicking

The last known survivor of American forces in World War One visited the White House his week. Dude is 107.

Wicked Man is 60

Stephen Schwartz, composer of Godspell and Wicked, turns 60 today.

Swayze Has Cancer, Not Dying in Five Weeks

Actor Patrick Swayze has pancreatic cancer but is “responding well to treatment,” according to Reuters.Swayze’s publicist refuted claims by The National Enquirer that Swayze had been given five weeks to live.

Patsy Cline x 1.5

It’s been 45 years, amazingly, since the death of country singer Patsy Cline. That’s 1.5 times her own lifespan of 30 years.And it’s 26 years ago today for John Belushi. He was 33 when he died in 1982. (Side note: Ayn Rand died the very next day.)

It’s Hard Out Here for a Publicist

(The first in a series of excerpts from the biographies of popular musicians.)Today: R&B singers Pretty Ricky.”Miami heat is nothing compared to Pretty Ricky’s scorching musical inferno. Not since the days of music legends like The Beatles, the Jackson 5 or more recently NSync has there been such a fevered pitch, creating hysteria and chaos when crowds glimpse brothers Spectacular, Pleasure, Slick Em and Baby Blue.”(From their official site.)

McCain is the Nominee

John McCain is the Republican nominee for president in 2008.

Mick Jagger Answers Your Questions

In the recent flap over Mick Jagger and the Hell’s Angels, we discovered this Q&A he did with BBC News readers last October. A sampler:Q: “I’d like to know if the Mick Jagger one sees on stage is the real persona or a caricature developed over time and influenced by what you think the public expect.”

Texas and Ohio

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama battle it out today in Texas and Ohio. The winner takes a big step towards the Democratic nomination.On the Republican side, John McCain has things pretty much sewn up.For good local coverage, try these elections pages of the Dallas Morning News and the Columbus Dispatch.

Mick vs. the Hell’s Angels

It seems a storm saved Mick Jagger from being assassinated by the Hell’s Angels in 1969.The Angels “were offended by Jagger’s effeminate dancing,” says Reuters.

The Forgotten Oscar Champ

Quick question: What actor is tied with Jack Nicholson for the most male acting Oscars in film history?(And the envelope goes to…)We mentioned Walter Brennan in an earlier post about Harrison Ford’s movie career and women (and hair). But we didn’t talk much about the man himself.

Alas, Bond Is 40 Again

Alas, James Bond is back in his forties.March 2 birthday boy Daniel Craig was born in 1968. That’s still quite frisky, but as we pointed out a few years ago, Craig was the first under-40 actor to play Bond in 35 years. That helped make him a believably reckless and energetic Bond in Casino Royale.Well, it was nice while it lasted.

Harrison Ford’s Younger Women

Harrison Ford’s krazy-hair appearance at the Oscars (in HD!) has us thinking about his leading-man status.Ford was born in 1942, so he’ll be straining the actuarial charts as a swashbuckler in this summer’s Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.