Monday, July 30, 2007

The People Who Died

Apparently a second Day of the Dead was added to the calender this year. Look at all the people who died today:

Tom Snyder
Anyone who watches the news or television talk shows and has an appreciation for thoughtful discourse is at pains to find much of it in any format in today's mass media. Snyder was a great interviewer. He got serious and made some revealing interviews with figures from entertainment, politics, and culture, but he also had fun with many of them. Snyder has been a personal hero of mine and I wish more television interviewers would realize that intelligence and fun are not mutually exclusive.

Here is a Youtube video that has a sample of Snyder's interviews over the years:

Ingmar Bergman
The director of The Virgin Spring and The Seventh Seal was one of the great directors of film for all time. His work influenced many "New Hollywood" directors such as Martin Scorsese and Wes Craven, and he has the distinction of being one of a only a handful of European directors whose work has been widely embraced in the United States. (Note: there are plenty of great directors in other countries but American culture and the Hollywood distribution system is set up in such a way that foreign films are blocked from wide distribution here.) Time has published a very nice article about Bergman and his work which can be found here.

Here is a video of the opening of The Seventh Seal:

Bill Walsh
Although I have never been a big sports fan, I admire the skill, hard work, and beauty of athletes and the leadership qualities possessed by the best of coaches. This article illustrates Walsh's legacy. An excerpt:

He was 102-63-1 in 10 seasons with the 49ers, including 10-4 in the postseason. But his impact on pro football went well beyond the 49ers and that prolific offense.

His fingerprints are all over today's NFL. Perhaps his West Coast offense has waned in influence in recent years, but at least a version of it can be found in just about every team's playbook, and the organizational structure he created with the 49ers remains the model for most teams in the league.

Walsh's training camp and practice regimen, which emphasized classroom work and lighter drills than was normal for teams at the time, is now standard practice around the NFL.

And it's not stretching a point to say the last Super Bowl, which featured the first two African-American coaches ever to reach that game, also was a tribute to Walsh's forward thinking; he was years ahead of the league in recognizing and promoting minority coaches.

Michel Serrault
The French actor featured in La Cage aux Folles (aka Birds of a Feather) also died today. One notable piece of his biography from this article, Serrault had considered a life in the priesthood but abandoned that path because of the vow of chastity. Good man.

Ronald Marquez
Marquez was no one of cultural significance, but he died today and the story worth mentioning. According to news reports, Marquez was strangling his three-year-old granddaughter in an attempt to perform an exorcism. Police intervened, saving the girl by using a taser on Marquez, and he later died of a heart attack.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Maybe They'll Find His Head

Bush to have colonoscopy Saturday
By James Gerstenzang, Times Staff Writer
11:07 AM PDT, July 20, 2007

WASHINGTON -- President Bush will undergo a colonoscopy Saturday, and Vice President Dick Cheney will be acting president during the roughly 2 ½ hours Bush is under the effects of anesthesia, White House Press Secretary Tony Snow said today.

It will be the second time Bush has undergone the procedure as president, and the second time he has signed over to Cheney, under the 25th Amendment, the responsibilities of acting president.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The Return of Michael Moore

With the release of Sicko, Michael Moore is back in the public eye. Here is his appearance on "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer" in which Moore is confronted with a challenge to his film and he responds in turn.

You can read my review of Sicko here.