Obit

I watched the CBS This Morning chef segment featuring Craig Koketsu.  His signature recipes include Bacon with peanut butter and jalapeño jelly, Corn crème brûlée, Long-bone short rib steak with steak sauce butter, and Scalloped sunchokes.  The Top 10 songs on May 15, 1976 were “Shannon,” “Happy Days,” “Right Back Where We Started From,” “Get Up and Boogie,” “Show Me the Way,” “Love Hangover,” “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” “Silly Love Songs,” “Welcome Back,” and “Boogie Fever.”  I went out to the Grand Lake Theatre to see “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” again.  My only new thoughts were that the golden people reminded me of the woman who was painted gold in the James Bond movie “Goldfinger,” and also that the space suits looked something like bubble wrap.  It was rather funny how Peter said that David Hasselhoff had kick-ass adventures and hooked up with hot women.  I went home to watch an episode of The Quest with Stacy Keach.  I went to the 7:30 screening of “Obit,” which was a documentary on the writers in the obituary department of the New York Times.  I found it really fascinating because of my longtime interest in celebrity deaths.  One of the stars of the movie was Bruce Weber, a writer we see working on an obituary of John F. Kennedy’s TV aide, a figure behind the scenes of the famous Kennedy-Nixon television debate in 1960.  The audience favorite was Jeff Roth, the keeper of the newspaper’s new morgue, the drawers filled with files of clippings and photos.  One of the good photos he showed us was a two-year-old Pete Seeger.  Everyone in the theatre found him funny, with his commentary on the crazy filing system.  The movie illustrates us to how time passes so quickly, and makes us think about what it means to accomplish something in life.  There is also something of a lesson on what good writing is.  In this social media age, people write a lot of short messages, but hardly anyone masters the art of writing.  I notice that some of these newspaper reporters are not great typists, as Weber looked like he was using a two-finger approach.  One of the key obituaries was about John Fairfax, the first person to row across an ocean.  The footage of him showed him describing himself as just a happy guy.  I thought this was one of the best movies I’ve seen this year, as it was more about life than death, and was rich in meaning and nostalgia.  After the screening, we had a Q&A session with the director, Vanessa Gould.  She was skinny and looked very young, although later I would look her up in IMDB and see that she was born in 1974.  She first talked about how “Obit” came to be.  It was after a subject in a previous documentary, a paper artist, died.  She said that one of the painful things in making the movie was seeing the relative scarcity of women and people of color being written about.  She also mentioned that the writers in the film were now former writers for the New York Times because of a wave of buyouts that have been common in the newspaper business in recent years.  She said that Margalit Fox had a lot of stories to tell that were cut from the film, including one about the inventor of a coffee cup.  She praised the writer, saying that they were great because they did obits, and she mentioned their tendency to be introverted.  She was in San Francisco on Friday night, but maybe we were a different crowd.  She called her approach to making the film as footage-driven, and said they used an intuitive approach to interviewing, as they always tried to go somewhere interesting with the questions.  I was starting to feel uncomfortable after sitting in my seat for quite a while, and so I was in a hurry to get home.  I walked past Vanessa without congratulating her or telling her how much I admired the film.  I think that this movie will grow in stature in the years to come, and many people will like it.  I watched the Svengoolie movie, which looked comical.  The stars were Cornel Wilde, Jennifer Salt, Scott Glenn, and Bernie Casey.  I guess it was called “Gargoyles.”  With the low budget, there was only one shot of the gargoyles flying, and the wires were visible.  Jennifer Salt was in “Midnight Cowboy,” “John and Mary,” “Sisters,” and “Play It Again, Sam.”  Cornel Wilde was once in “Leave Her to Heaven” and “The Greatest Show on Earth.”  He was about 60 years old at the time of “Gargoyles.”  His last feature film was “Flesh and Bullets” in 1985, and he died in 1989 at age 77.  Who was the director of “Gargoyles”?  It was Bill Norton, who went out to direct “More American Graffiti,” “Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend,” and “Three for the Road.”  Some of the people who died on May 14 include Emma Goldman (1940), Sidney Bechet (1959), Billie Burke (1970), Hugh Griffith (1980), Rita Hayworth (1987), Lyle Alzado (1992), Frank Sinatra (1998), Robert Stack (2003), and B. B. King (2015).  Today is a birthday Sofia Coppola (46), Cate Blanchett (48), Tim Roth (56), David Byrne (65), Robert Zemeckis (65), and George Lucas (73).  According to the Brandon Brooks Rewind radio segment for May 14, “The Stars and Stripes Forever” was first performed at Willow Grove Park in Pennsylvania in 1897.  In 1957, Elvis Presley was rushed to a hospital in Los Angeles after he accidentally swallowed a tooth cap.  In 1970, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young announced their breakup.  In 1982, the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie “Conan the Barbarian” was released.  In 1989, NBC aired the last episode of “Family Ties.”  In 1998, Frank Sinatra died of a heart attack in Los Angeles at age 82.  Also in 1999, the last episode of “Seinfeld” aired on NBC.

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