This blog is officially "retired," but my other blog,
"The Lair of the Silver Fox," is still open for business!

Thursday, October 6, 2005

Hamilton Camp, 1934-2005, R.I.P.

A couple of days ago (October 3rd, to be exact), when my office was devoid of customers, I began singing an old tune aloud. I do that sometimes, much to the chagrin or delight (depending on what I'm singing, and if I'm substituting comical and/or profane lyrics of my own) of my co-workers. The song was an obscure, little-remembered tune from the late 1960s, a catchy, bouncy, inoffensive little love song called "Here's to You."

I say "obscure" and "little-remembered," noting the fact that I'm using the term mainly in regards to my circle of friends and acquaintances. Like when I'm with one or two people, watching an old film, and I suddenly call out, "Hey! That's Austin Pendleton!" and the other(s) reply, "Who?" Well I know who Austin Pendleton is. And maybe you do as well, dear reader. But "most" people don't. Try throwing a name like "Pete Best" or "Stu Sutcliffe" at a person who thinks of the Beatles as "the band Paul McCartney was in before Wings," and you'll know what I mean.

Anyway... Slightly over twenty years ago, when my stereo's turntable was temporarily on the fritz, I was listening to a lot of FM radio to fill the musical gaps. I also became well known, albeit briefly, to a handful of late night disc jockeys, those DJs who received my constant requests for songs, most of which I owned but couldn't play for myself at the time. One night, I called the DJ who was running a local oldies show called "Little Dougie's Time Warp," and requested a song for which I'd been searching in vain for about 15 years: "Here's to You," by Hamilton Camp.

The DJ remembered the song, but was amazed that anyone else remembered it, and requested it! (Unfortunately, he didn't have it!) It became a short-lived running gag. In subsequent calls to "Little Dougie," I referred to myself as "the Hamilton Camp fan" from the town I then lived in; I even invited him (facetiously) to the first annual meeting of the Hamilton Camp Fan Club, "to be held in a phone booth."

I should assure you here that none of that tomfoolery was meant to reflect on the song, or on Mr. Camp himself. I loved that song, and I had always liked Hamilton Camp.

And who was Hamilton Camp? Well, to my knowledge (and I must stress, to my knowledge), he was primarily an actor. I'd first encountered him on the old TV show, He & She, which starred Richard Benjamin and Paula Prentiss as a young married couple. (Not much of a stretch there, as they were young marrieds in real life, as well.) Camp's role was that of their apartment building's "befuddled handyman," a fiftyish gent named Andrew Hummel.

(That series introduced me to a few great character actors, by the way. The inimitable Kenneth Mars was featured as a fireman, and Jack Cassidy -- ex-husband of actress Shirley Jones, and father of teen idols David and Shaun Cassidy -- played an egotistical and somewhat effeminate actor who played the superhero "Jetman" on television.)

My memory's a bit foggy, so I'm not sure if it was during the series' run or immediately thereafter that Mr. Camp released the aforementioned "Here's to You." I saw him sing it on Ed Sullivan's show, where I was surprised to learn that on He & She, Camp had been made up to look about twenty years older than he actually was (a la Estelle Getty in The Golden Girls). He was actually in his early thirties at the time.

So, again: To my knowledge, Hamilton Camp was an actor who also released one pop single, and then pretty much dropped out of the entertainment field, except for an occasional character part over the years. (I remember him playing a dog-like alien on an episode of Bewitched, for example.)

I hate to disappoint you here, dear reader, but even I am not always right. No, really; I'm not. (But if you quote me on that, I'll deny it.)

Relatively recently, I found a website devoted to him. And I found out that he'd been... umm... more than a bit busier than I'd previously been aware of.

He'd been a child actor, for starters...

Later, under the name of Bob Camp, he was a folksinger who'd teamed with a guy named Bob Gibson during the early '60s. In fact, legend has it that club owner and talent manager Albert Grossman paired the two Bobs, and wanted to add a female singer to the duo. Camp and Gibson weren't thrilled with that idea, so Grossman went on to locate three other folk singers and establish the trio of Peter, Paul and Mary!

The whole "folk music scare of the sixties" (as Martin Mull once called it) had been largely lost on me while it was going on -- as I was listening primarily to kiddie records at the time -- with the exception of my much-loved Smothers Brothers... and, ironically enough, Peter, Paul, and Mary. But I've learned so much about the folk music period (and its artists) since then that I feel more than a bit embarrassed about not having heard of the duo of Gibson & Camp until a couple of years ago.

After splitting with Gibson, Camp associated himself with the famed Second City troupe, and went on to form a similar improv group, The Committee. I'd heard of both groups, of course, but I went for years without knowing that Hamilton Camp (who'd re-named himself in the mid-sixties) had been associated with either.

Furthermore, unbeknown to me until relatively recently, not only did Hamilton Camp stay active in performing music and in acting roles, but he also did tons of cartoon voice-over work during the years after I thought he'd "pretty much dropped out of the entertainment field!"

There's a lot more I could write about the accomplishments of this guy that "nobody" knew, but these are supposed to be more of my own reminiscences, rather than a straight obituary. Suffice it to say that, for most of my life, I'd only seen the tip of the proverbial iceberg. He was not only talented -- That, I already knew! -- but, as I've learned from much research, he was evidently a fascinating, influential, and well-respected man in his various branches of the entertainment field. I stumbled across a brief anecdote by one of Hamilton's six children which told of how the Camp household was often filled with singers, actors, etc., and how a few guys with guitars were sitting around playing and singing one night... Several months later, Hamilton's son was buying their albums, recorded under the name of... the Eagles.

Anyway, back to my own take on all this... There I was, sitting at the PC the other night -- the very same day I'd been oh-so-casually singing "Here's to You" at work -- and while browsing Mark Evanier's most recent entries on his webpage, I saw ME's posting that Hamilton Camp had died.

I'm not ashamed to admit that I let out a yell of shock and grief almost as loud as the one brought forth by my learning of Johnny Carson's death.

I wanted to put a photo of Hamilton Camp at the top of this posting, preferably one of him as Andrew Hummel, or one taken at the time of the release of "Here's to You." There weren't any photos of him on the internet that I found suitable enough to steal.

I mean, borrow.

Then it hit me. Due to the graciousness of a gent named Robert Klein (no, not that Robert Klein), who gave me a copy of the "Here's to You" LP in 1988 (yup, after my fruitless search of roughly twenty years), I had a photo from that era!

So now you "have" it as well. And don't feel guilty if Camp's puckish-looking face isn't familiar. Neither you nor I know everything.

Even when there's a nagging feeling inside telling us we should.

Thanks for your time.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Simone Simon, 1910-2005, R.I.P.

Another day, another f**king death.

Oh, wait, I already began my David'Z RantZ tribute to Jack Paar with those words, shortly over one year ago. Oops. (Sorry for the oh-so-mild attempt at sardonic humor, there. I'm just in that kind of rotten mood.)

Simone Simon would have been 95 years old, had she lived to see her next birthday in April. Or, possibly, she would have turned 94, depending on whether you believe her birth year was 1910, as I wrote above, or 1911, as other sources state. Simone was the hauntingly beautiful French actress who appeared in several films made in both the USA and in her native France before she more-or-less retired in 1956.

Upon her arrival in Hollywood in 1936, Ms. Simon was heralded as another Greta Garbo or Hedy Lamarr, in terms of (hopefully) being the next "big star" to have come to our shores from Europe. Such grand success was not to be, unfortunately, but she nevertheless accumulated quite an impressive array of films made on both sides of the Atlantic during her career. Personally, I'll always remember her sultry presence as Irena Dubrovna in the original 1942 thriller, "Cat People," and its kinda/sorta sequel, 1944's "Curse of the Cat People," as well as her portrayal of the temptress Belle in "The Devil and Daniel Webster." In light of those roles, I suppose it's only appropriate that I learned of her death so close to the so-called "witching hour."

I must admit that the three movies I mentioned are the only films of hers which I myself have seen (and own). But her performances therein were obviously enough to merit her a relatively brief tribute column. I also should add that her passing is indicative of the very reason why I do these types of entries: Until this evening, I had thought she was already dead, although I'd be hard-pressed at this time to state exactly why I thought so.

I can name far too many actors, comedians, musicians, etc. who have done something relatively newsworthy during the last few years which prompted me to say "I thought he (or she) was dead!" On a related note, I have occasionally learned of a recent death which prompted me to say "I thought he (or she) was already dead!" In the latter category, I'd have to place such people as Donald O'Connor, Peter Ustinov, and John Raitt (whose February 20th death I just heard about yesterday).

Unlike many, I never assume that someone is dead simply because I haven't heard anything "new" about the person in a while. I certainly don't know everything, nor even claim to, although you might not know that from listening to me at times... But I can't count the celebrities whom I thought had died because I could swear that someone had told me... or because I could swear that I'd read it in a newspaper or magazine... or because I could swear that I'd heard it on TV.

I can throw a bunch of names at you, here... Dick Van Patten, Blake Edwards, George Kennedy, Jack Elam, John Mills, Sheb Wooley, Gene Rayburn, Harry Reasoner, Alistair Cooke, Shecky Greene, Elmer Bernstein... These are all people who fit either the former or the latter of my two categories, "I thought he was dead!" or "I thought he was already dead!" (And no, I'm not going to make it easier for you by telling you which names fit which category!) And again, it's not just because of a "what-have-you-done-for-me-lately" mentality that I thought these people were deceased. In George Kennedy's case, for example, I just know I'd read an obituary somewhere... months before I read that he'd just been signed for a brief stint on a soap opera! Hell, I can even recall how I felt when I learned of his death.

So. That's my poorly-kept secret, the main reason why I list people as they die... so I (hopefully) "won't get fooled again," as Peter Townshend would say.

Y'know, I originally planned "David'Z RantZ" as a mildly humorous weblog, but more and more, it's becoming a listing of deaths, at least when said deaths happen to those celebrities near and dear to me in their own way.

Oh, hell... Maybe I should just change the title of "David'Z RantZ" to "Bring Out Your Dead!"

Thanks for your time.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, 1937-2005, R.I.P.

As a writer, I'll readily admit that I've had days like this, too.

Writer Hunter Thompson has, from all evidence, shot himself to death. I find this to be quite sad, of course, but (considering that I never met the man) not altogether surprising. Anyone who's read at least one of his books or articles should have gleaned something innately self-destructive about him. If you saw the film "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas," you know what I mean.

Much of his work seemed to glorify illicit drug use. His own drug use, primarily. He was nobody's role model, at least not purposely.

By the way, he was also the inspiration for Doonesbury's "Uncle Duke." (And HST reportedly wasn't too thrilled that Trudeau was "profiting from his image.") I had to mention this somewhere, because the obituaries I've read so far (and I know I've missed many of them!) haven't mentioned it, surprisingly! (Update, 2/27/05: As expected, there have been several mentions of the Thompson/Duke connection since my original posting, but I wrote this paragraph very soon after the news of HST's death hit the internet.)

He was a man whose influence as the father of "gonzo journalism" was far-reaching. There's no telling how many writers and/or journalists were inspired by him (I'm speaking stylistically, rather than talking about the above-mentioned drug use!), although there were also many "serious" journalists who disdained Thompson's approach.

That approach was the aforementioned "gonzo journalism." A simplistic definition of that would be that gonzo journalism is the result of the writer's injecting himself into the story, to the point of becoming a major character in said story! Often, the line between "truth in reporting" and fiction will be subtly -- or not so subtly -- blurred. The results can be incredibly entertaining... or somewhat self-indulgent. Or both. And as a writer who's often based much of my own fiction on the most basic autobiographical elements, I can identify with that.

In fact, if I can be allowed an uncharacteristically brief aside, I should mention that the closest I ever got to the "gonzo" approach was about ten years ago, when I plunked myself down in the middle of some sleazy and somewhat dangerous people in order to research material for a proposed series of stories. Remind me to tell you about it sometime... but not now.

For now, let me just say that the best tribute one writer can give another is to suggest that when you leave my page, you begin searching for links to Thompson's many works, either to familiarize yourself with his unique talents, or re-familiarize yourself with his writings. In other words, I'm not trying to impress you with my writing this go-round. Instead, look for Thompson's; his writing will probably give you a kick in the pants.

And for those who think that the picture I chose is in bad taste, considering the details of Thompson's unfortunate demise... Well, in this case, that's kinda the point. And I hope he's watching. I think he'd approve.

Thanks for your time.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

JOHNNY CARSON, 1925-2005, R.I.P.

When Ray Charles died last June, I truly hoped that it would be some time before I would be so seriously grieved by another celebrity's death. After all, "Brother Ray" was not only one of "The Greats," he was a personal favorite of mine.

A friend sent an email to me a while ago, an email full of links to articles saying that Johnny Carson, the former host of NBC's "Tonight Show," has died. So much for my hopes. I don't really have a standard defining "some time," but folks... this ain't it. Nope, nowhere near it.

Johnny Carson didn't invent the talk show format, certainly. But it can be argued that he perfected it. As Burt Reynolds said, "If he laughed at you, America laughed, too. If he liked you, America liked you." And we Americans liked -- loved -- Johnny. For thirty years (1962-1992), Americans willingly invited Carson into their living rooms. Or bedrooms. Carson himself often joked that his show was "a nightlight for sex." In fact, Johnny's reign on late-night TV lasted a lot longer than the marriages or relationships of many of the couples whose intimacies the "Tonight Show"... illuminated?

Said "reign" certainly outlasted a few of his own marriages...

One year ago, almost to the day, Carson's "Tonight Show" predecessor Jack Paar died. In my David'Z RantZ memorial to Paar, I naturally made a couple of references to Johnny himself, adding "I am honestly dreading the day when the name of Johnny Carson himself tops one of these tribute columns of mine..."

Well, now Johnny's name is at the top of my RantZ page, and I feel sick. Really. As if I've lost a member of the family. I love comedy, and I consider myself a fan of a lot of comedians, past and present. But Johnny Carson was one of my two all-time favorites, the other being Jack Benny, a comedian both idolized and emulated by Carson himself. Now both are gone.

While I was writing this, two more emails arrived, from two other friends. And I'm expecting more. Many of them know how much I loved Johnny.

In a very real way, I grew up with Johnny Carson. Even as a young child in the mid-1960s, my bedtime on any night that wasn't a "school night" was non-existent. So, as an eight-year-old, a ten-year-old, a fourteen-year-old... I could stay up as late as I wanted. And in the days before cable, before 24-hour television (in the New England viewing area, anyway), and (who'da thunk it!) even before infomercials, there wasn't much to watch besides Carson.

Even as time went by, and the other channels started competing with him, offering other talk show hosts and late movies... Carson was still King. Sure, once in a while I'd watch Joey Bishop (Bishop's ABC talk show was on in the late '60s, and Joey's "Ed McMahon" was a little guy named Regis Philbin. Wonder whatever happened to him?), or Dick Cavett (whose '70s show was frequently entertaining and/or enlightening, as well), or whatever movie was on... but I never "lost touch" with Johnny until adulthood gave me "better" things to do than watch television all the time.

The highest-rated -- and one of the most talked-about -- episode in "Tonight Show" history was when singer Tiny Tim -- then in his mid-40s -- married his "Miss Vicki," who was still in her teens.

And anyone who saw the famous Ed Ames appearance, where Ames demonstrated how to throw a tomahawk, will never forget it. It provided one of the longest sustained audience laughs in TV history. And no, I won't just tell you about it. If you've never seen it, or even if you have, here it is. And as you do watch the clip, look for the part where Carson restrains Ed from "retrieving" the tomahawk. Carson was a master of timing, and knowing when he could and should get away with "milking" a laugh.

But I remember so many more "Tonight Show" moments from the years when I was a faithful follower of Carson's antics...

At the time (mid-1970s) that Glen Campbell's "Rhinestone Cowboy" was a Top 40 hit, Carson came onstage in an outlandish outfit, riding a pony. Or a donkey. Actually, I don't remember the animal. What I do remember is Carson's purposely-awful singing voice, almost what you'd expect Carson's Art Fern character to sound like, if he were to try his hand at singing.

Singer Vicki Carr once claimed that she had good teeth as a result of being breast-fed as a baby. Carson, in a loud aside to himself, said "Well, if it's not too late to start... "

George Gobel, a good enough comedian in his own right, was brought on the show after such superstar surprise guests as Dean Martin and Bob Hope. (Shortly after Gobel appeared, Carson asked "Exactly what time did I lose control of the show?") And on Johnny's show, guests usually didn't leave as soon as their "bit" with Johnny was done. They generally hung around on the long couch while other acts came to talk with Johnny. Gobel walked into the middle of this insanity, sarcastically thanked Carson for making him a part of the madness, and then quipped, "Did you ever get the feeling... that the whole world was a tuxedo... and you were a pair of brown shoes?"

During the time that "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" (the duet recorded by the unlikely duo of Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias) was a huge hit, and for a long time thereafter, Johnny had a penchant for imitating Willie, singing the title line of that song. One night Willie Nelson himself appeared on Carson's show, and Johnny insisted they compare Wille Nelson's voice with Johnny's imitation. Carson went first, singing "To all the girls I've loved before" a la Willie. Willie followed up by singing "who travelled in and out my door," in a perfect imitation of Julio Iglesias' voice! Carson just lost it; it was priceless!

And speaking of "losing it," one night Fred Rogers (better known as "Mister Rogers") was a guest, and said something about how this world could be a better place if people would just try to get along with each other, and have respect for each other, etc. (Joke all you want about Mister Rogers' TV persona, but the man really was sincere.) Of course, you could hear the cynical mutterings running through the audience of 1980s adults, at which point Fred Rogers turned to them and sternly added " ...and it's people like you who are the problem!" Wow. "Go, Fred!" I shouted, sitting safely at home. I say "safely" because I've been known to be more than a bit cynical myself, on occasion, believe it or not... so at least I was spared the Wrath of Fred. But seriously, after that night, I found a whole new respect for the man.

There was also talk that Johnny Carson was considered for the role of God in the film, "Oh, God," the role which eventually went to George Burns. Evidently someone thought it would be cute. ("Johnny Carson," "J.C.," get it?) Carson's alleged reply when he refused the role? "I thought you guys were getting away from typecasting."

From Johnny Carson, I even learned a few things about "entertaining" that I've applied to my personal life.

For example, Carson had several mannerisms which couldn't possibly be lost on an audience used to viewing him up to five days per week. One was that he was always adjusting his necktie (as in the above photo of Johnny). One night, a guest commented on the fact that Carson was "always playing with [his] tie." Johnny just replied "It could be worse!" and let the audience assume what he really meant by that. (That joke is incredibly tame by today's standards, but over thirty years ago? Believe it or not, it was pretty risqué, even for late-night TV.) Since then, I've applied that very line to more situations than I can count, always letting the other people fill in the blank. And it always gets a mild laugh, even 'though there's absolutely nothing inherently funny about the line itself.

Another example, in a similar vein: One episode had singer Jack Jones and actor/comedian Joe Flynn (best known as Captain Binghamton on "McHale's Navy") on the panel. Jones was relating a story about how he was forced by circumstances to pull his car over to the side of a country road one dark, dark evening so he could exit and... umm... perform a hasty "call of nature," shall we say? While he was attending to said function, a woman appeared out of virtually nowhere and said, "Can I have your autograph?" The audience reacted predictably, laughing uproariously, and continued doing so when Joe Flynn yelled "Which hand did you use?" Carson yelled "Never mind!" to keep the mood going, then waited... and waited...

The audience finally began calming down. That's when Carson almost matter-of-factly added (I'm paraphrasing, because I don't have access to the clip itself!), "You know, there's another line for that, and I'm not going to use it!" And that set the audience off again, even 'though, as in the other example, there's nothing really funny about the line itself. But it's yet another line I've successfully "stolen" during my lazier moments, because (as any fan of Old Time Radio can tell you) a performer's greatest tool is the audience's imagination. I learned that from Johnny.

That, and the fact that in comedy, timing is everything. In fact, "It's All in the Timing" (or "Timing Is Everything" -- reports vary, although most accounts favor the former rather than the latter) was the phrase embroidered on a throw pillow which, during the 1970s anyway, lay atop the bed in Johnny's master bedroom (or a couch in his living room -- again, reports vary*).

Carson retired from the "Tonight Show" and show business in 1992. And despite offers for undoubtedly-huge sums of money, nothing lured him back from retirement. Perhaps, as the aforementioned Regis Philbin suggested in 1995, "After ending his long reign with such class and fanfare, maybe there’s no way to return." So Johnny stuck to his guns, having left his viewers when he still could be said to be at the top of his game, before over-staying his welcome, and before becoming an anachronism or a caricature of himself.

As always, impeccable timing. "It's All in the Timing." So says the pillow.

I was too lazy and/or time-constrained to dig through all my packed-away Johnny Carson memorabilia (mostly issues of TV Guide and other magazines) for a photo of the man, so I availed myself of an internet search. I needed a shot of Carson alone (which unfortunately made me rule out my absolute favorite picture of Johnny, a 1960s color photo where Carson interviews Jack Benny), and I wanted a shot of him at the "Tonight Show" desk even more than one where he was doing his nightly monologue.** Actually, I wanted to find two photos of Johnny, one from his earliest "Tonight Show" days, and one toward the end of his run.

The second photograph in this David'Z RantZ entry is from the very last episode of the "Tonight Show" which he hosted. I included it not only because it (obviously) fits my "end of his run" criterion, but because... well... I happen to have a coffee cup like the one in front of Johnny!

Now. If that blasted pillow ever shows up on eBay...

Thanks for your time.

*Most accounts "place" the pillow on the Carson couch. Personally, I like the double entendre inherent in a pillow bearing that particular sentiment being placed on a bed in a comedian's bedroom -- Think about it! -- but seriously doubt that the seldom-interviewed Carson would have allowed a journalist into that most private of dwelling spaces.
**If I'd wanted a monologue shot, I would've scanned my own, autographed photo of Johnny as he did his famous "golf swing" at the end of the monologue.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Everybody Counts, Everybody Matters

I've devoted a lot of space in these RantZ to celebrity obituaries. Well, not obituaries per se, but little tributes of my own, as it were. And not just any celebrities -- Lord knows, there are plenty of places on the internet which fulfill that particular function! -- but those celebrities for whom I held a particular respect, fondness, and/or admiration. And I've tried to say something with my own personal slant each time.

The man pictured above was Joe Belanger. The vast majority of visitors to this page won't know who he was. He wasn't famous, but he was a man who fulfilled all the qualifications of my stated definitions for "respect, fondness, and/or admiration." And actually, in Joe's case, the word "or" doesn't apply.

For approximately 12 years, beginning in 1988, my so-called "day job" was for a chain of grocery stores in New England. This chain shuttled its full-time employees and managers around on a regular basis. I worked for Joe three times (if memory serves) during my years with the company. He was, at various times in my association with him, either an assistant store manager, or a full-fledged manager. He was competent and personable, a too-often-unseen mix in that particular environment. I used to joke that he was far too down-to-earth to have risen to any position of importance with the chain.

Yep, down-to-earth says it. He was very unpretentious; you never really felt that you were talking to A Manager (except for the implicit, underlying, earned respect I mentioned earlier), but instead, to a real person. He didn't mind listening to my corny jokes, and often had one or two of his own. And they were never delivered with that usual haughty managerial "I'm in charge, so you'd better laugh at this!" attitude. You laughed because the jokes were funny (well, whenever they were), and because Joe was genuinely likable.

Once I had facetiously asked him, "If you plant watermelon seeds to get watermelons, how do you get seedless grapes?" Just one of those observations which makes you think for a split second, unless and until you take it seriously enough to answer it, like Gallagher's "Why is there a mailbox outside the post office?" Joe stood there long enough to give me a full, serious, learned reply. But he wasn't merely answering me because he'd missed the miniscule humor in what I'd said; the twinkle in his eye told me he'd purposely and mischievously "spoiled" my joke instead. The twinkle increased when he saw the look on my face as I said, "You would know the answer to that!"

On another memorable occasion, Joe also caused me to shake my head with chagrin, as in "I can't believe I just fed you a punchline!" I had recently moved to a new apartment, and I needed to know whom I should speak to and what forms to fill out in order to apprise the company of my new residential and mailing addresses. Wanting to be uncharacteristically brief, I walked up to him and asked, simply, "Joe, how do I go about changing my address?" Without missing a beat, he looked at me and matter-of-factly replied, "Move."

Not side-splittingly funny, true, but I was still somewhat mortified that I'd set him up for that.

I hadn't seen him in a couple of years, maybe more. (I left the chain in 2000, but had encountered him once or twice while shopping or visiting former co-workers.) Early yesterday, I chanced upon his obituary in the local newspaper. I was stunned, to say the least. He died "after a long battle with pancreatic cancer," according to the notice. He was 57, not that much older than myself, really. Yet another reminder of my own mortality.

My own extreme reaction to his death surprised me with its unexpected intensity. Yet another example of "you don't know what you've got, till it's gone." So I had to write something on my RantZ page, the only real outlet I have for this sort of thing. And I had to write it even 'though most of my readers never met him. And now, never will.

So in a way, his death is still your loss.

And mine.

Thanks for your time.

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