The beloved science fiction pioneer has died, Locus Magazine says:
SF Grand Master Jack Vance, 96, died May 26, 2013 in Oakland CA. Vance was one of the most influential SF authors of the postwar period, and his visionary imagination and sophisticated, often playful use of language inspired countless SF writers, including Avram Davidson, Harlan Ellison, Matthew Hughes, George R.R. Martin, Michael Moorcock, and Gene Wolfe. His landmark Dying Earth sequence, set in the far future, began with collection The Dying Earth (1950) and continued with novel The Eyes of the Overworld (1966), Cugel’s Saga (1983), Rhialto the Marvelous (1984), and several related stories. Vance redefined the nature of planetary romance with his Big Planet (1952), and continued exploring that universe in sequel Showboat World (1975).
I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read very much Vance—a couple novellas, I think, and Dying Earth—but I've read dozens of books that wouldn't have existed without Vance pointing the way. For more Vance, check out this Mercury review of The Dying Earth from the archives.
(Via Sarah Weinman.)
Rather than go into a detailed post-mortem on a place I was just days from filing for review, I'll say nothing ill of the dead except that I think the team has made a smart decision. The concept had trouble gelling, and several visits—the most recent being this Saturday—confirmed that the troubles that defined its menu had not been surmounted.
The good news: they plan to open a Killer Burger with a full bar in the space, so they'll be back to giving the people what they want—and raking in money hand over fist with their excellent and highly polished home-grown burger chain—in short order.
This is unfortunate:
According to multiple sources, the iconic cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was evacuated today after a far-right Catholic activist shot himself in the mouth in front of the altar in front of hundreds of tourists, in what appears to have been a protest against same-sex marriage.... Dominique Venner, age 78, was a well-known essayist and a former member of a paramilitary group known as the Secret Army Organization (OAS), which waged a bombing and assassination campaign in the early 1960s to protest France giving Algeria its independence. Mr. Venner was also close to the anti-marriage equality movement and an outspoken critic of France’s new marriage equality law, which President François Hollande signed on Saturday. He made no verbal statement before he shot himself, but a letter was found on his person. The contents of Mr. Venner’s letter have not yet been released.
The special effects pioneer has died. He was 92. Digital effects in mainstream movies are a couple decades old now, and I've yet to see a digital monster that impresses me the way a good Harryhausen creature impresses me.
The former Mousketeer has died at age 70.
Bonnie Franklin, best known for a playing single mom to two teenage daughters on the long-running CBS sitcom One Day At A Time, died this morning. She was 69.
Franklin perished after a long battle with pancreatic cancer, and will be remembered fondly… especially for the following role:
In 1975 she landed the lead role of Ann Romano on the Norman Lear-developed sitcom One Day At A Time, starring alongside Valerie Bertinelli and Mackenzie Phillips as her daughters and Pat Harrington as their wisecracking super. The series ran from 1975-1984 and tackled several social issues like teen pregnancy as it humorously charted a single mom’s struggles raising two kids. Franklin was nominated for an Emmy and two Golden Globes for the role.
She will be missed.
The new single from Aan is out—they're playing the release show tonight at Mississippi Studios!—and here's the awesome new video to go with it. What makes it so awesome? I mean, apart from a little cameo by the Portland Mercury, that is.
Our hero spends his time dodging the Grim Reaper, who's after him for obvious reasons. I mean, look at all the crazy, death-defying stuff this guy does: skateboarding, dodging in front of trains, stealing motorcycles, jumping off cliffs, reading the Portland Mercury...
Then they share a slice of pizza and hit a strip club, and all is well. At least, for now.
Aan's new 7-inch, "Mystery Life" is available from Cool Summer Records. You can also stream and buy on Bandcamp and Soundcloud. Your best option, however, is picking up the new 7-inch at the record release show tonight at Mississippi Studios.
Here is a goat that can beatbox.
If you'd like to make a call, please hang up and try again.
Pauline Phillips, a California housewife who nearly 60 years ago, seeking something more meaningful than mah-jongg, transformed herself into the syndicated columnist Dear Abby—and in so doing became a trusted, tart-tongued adviser to tens of millions—died on Wednesday in Minneapolis. She was 94.
Phillips, who had Alzheimers disease, passed her column to her daughter more than a decade ago. So Phillips's column will survive her. (It's hard to imagine my straight snowboardin' son taking over "Savage Love" someday, but... anything is possible, I guess.) Phillips was the twin sister and, for many years, the bitter rival of Eppie "Ann Landers" Lederer.
In 1955, Mrs. Phillips’s twin, now Eppie Lederer, took over the Ann Landers column for The Chicago Sun-Times. A rank beginner soon swamped by a flood of mail, she began sending batches of letters to her sister—for advice, as it were. “I provided the sharp answers,” Mrs. Phillips told The Ladies’ Home Journal in 1981. “I’d say, ‘You’re writing too long (she still does), and this is the way I’d say it.’ ” She added, “My stuff was published—and it looked awfully good in print.” So good that when The Sun-Times later forbade Mrs. Lederer to send letters out of the office, Mrs. Phillips, by this time living in the Bay Area, vowed to find a column of her own.
And so she did—and Pauline and Eppie didn't speak for years.
There was a time when most cities had more than one newspaper. One paper would run Ann Landers, another would run Dear Abby. People tended to prefer one columnist or the other, their preferences shaped by which paper their families read. My family subscribed to all of Chicago's daily papers—Chicago had four dailies when I was a kid (a really little kid)—and I grew up reading both Ann in the Sun-Times and Abby in the Chicago Tribune. But I strongly preferred Ann. I'm actually sitting at Ann Lander's desk, which I bought at auction after her death, as I write this post. Ann's IBM Correcting Selectric III is sitting on the desk and a Saks Fifth Avenue receipt for a dress that Lander's purchased for $30 in 1974 is in the top drawer. (Fun fact: After Rupert Murdoch bought the Sun-Times in 1984, Ann quit the paper and moved her column to the Tribune, which then ran both Ann and Abby until Lander's died in 2002.)
So, yeah, you could call me more of an Ann Lander's fan. But I must say I have a newfound appreciation for Abby after reading Margolit Fox's terrific obit in the New York Times. Fox quotes a few of Abby's pithier-than-Ann responses to her readers. Here's a good one:
Dear Abby: Our son married a girl when he was in the service. They were married in February and she had an 8 1/2-pound baby girl in August. She said the baby was premature. Can an 8 1/2-pound baby be this premature?—Wanting to Know
Dear Wanting: The baby was on time. The wedding was late. Forget it.
And Fox's obit ends with the most famous three-word response in the whole, sordid history of the advice-column racket:
Dear Abby: Two men who claim to be father and adopted son just bought an old mansion across the street and fixed it up. We notice a very suspicious mixture of company coming and going at all hours—blacks, whites, Orientals, women who look like men and men who look like women. This has always been considered one of the finest sections of San Francisco, and these weirdos are giving it a bad name. How can we improve the neighborhood? — Nob Hill Residents
Dear Residents: You could move.
Phillips wrote that decades ago—back when adult gay men often resorted to adopting their adult partners because it was the only way to secure any legal protections for their relationships—and people are still quoting it today. I don't think anyone working in this genre will ever top it.
My sympathies to Jeanne Phillips, Pauline's daughter and the current author of "Dear Abby."
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