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 The RIP Thread

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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 20:44

Gil,

"ps - I reckon soaps lose all contact with reality the moment they go over 1 hour broadcast in a week."

yes, Dallas an example...the wife is looking to the never ending German series of "Sturm der Liebe"
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Storm_of_Love

But you have to take the difficulties of the text writers in concern, if one of the actors has an accident, one of the female ones get pregnant, one isn't for some mental reason not able anymore to do the stage, they have to invent some irreal causes to dismiss them from the series... a cancer, a murder, a blow up in a plane accident, a plot with a pregnant actor as she is really pregnant...and all the other cases you can imagine...
Sometimes I followed it together with the wife, but at the end it got boring for me...after the twelfth time a couple got isolated in the wine cellar, or for the fifteenth time a couple being out of reach with their GSM in a montainous environment refuge I got a bit nervous...perhaps the general public don't botter about all this but they forget that some individuals as I always remember former episodes...but of course I don't weigh on the viewing ratings...and yes what after eleven years each day they have to invent to be original...at the end I will have empathy with the text writers...


And there is not that much changed in three quarters of a century, when each week there was an episode of Tom Mix ending always in a dangerous life threatening situation...next week the rescue of the hero...
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Mix

Kind regards, Paul.
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Sat 15 Oct 2016, 22:00

Well, Dallas didn't have much trouble replacing Miss Ellie - and then bringing back the original, or writing off a whole season as "a dream" when it suited them, did they?

Shouldn't this thread really be called the RIP cord?
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Sun 16 Oct 2016, 05:21

Here in New Zealand Helen Kelly has died, aged 52 of lung cancer though she never smoked.  She was the first female leader of the Council of Trade Unions, and was the daughter of Pat Kelly, a fiery unionist in the 1960s.  She must have inherited his passion, because she fought battles even when she made herself unpopular in the process, especially when she opposed Warner Brothers and Sir Peter Jackson when the government changed the working rules to allow them to change the working conditions for actors. 

Since being diagnosed she has fought to have medical cannabis legalised here - at the moment it is allowed in at the whim (no doubt an informed whim, but by a man who has been resolutely opposed to drugs in any form including hemp as a food stuff) of the minister - and has been responsible for a complete change in attitude from the general population.  She said it was the only thing that gave her relief from the pain, and admitted to gaining it illegally, though she had never taken illegal drugs before that. 

http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/315621/trade-unionist-helen-kelly-dies
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Fri 11 Nov 2016, 07:40

Can't let this lad slip out without a tribute ...



... a brilliant and funny live performer whose reputation as "melancholy" was so undeserved, at least on stage. Now that the bar has been dropped, can the Nobel Prize for Literature be conferred posthumously?
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Fri 11 Nov 2016, 18:16

Well, one of the objections to Zimmerman's being nobelled - he'd not written a book - wouldn't have applied to Cohen. AIUI posthumous nobelling is not allowed. But  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f1EJ-ITAcEU
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Sat 12 Nov 2016, 00:25

The world has just become a much unsafer place ...



Robert Vaughn 1932 - 2016


Last edited by nordmann on Sat 12 Nov 2016, 15:03; edited 1 time in total
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Sat 12 Nov 2016, 11:40

Yes, RIP Robert Vaughan indeed.  In one of the early series of NCIS where David McCallum (Ilya) plays Dr Mallard aka Ducky a character called Cait asked Gibbs (the team boss) "What did Ducky look like when he was young?" and Gibbs answered "He looked like Ilya Kuryakin".
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Sat 12 Nov 2016, 16:16

I used to love Leonard Cohen - RIP -  when I was an anguished teenager. Still do, actually. I drove my father mad playing Sisters of Mercy over and over again at full blast. My furious parent commented - I can remember his exact words - that Cohen's singing sounded as though it was emanating from the depths of an Irish peatbog (apologies to our leader). I think my dad thought Sisters was about nuns and that I, his only daughter, who had been so carefully brought up in the Protestant faith, was about to convert to Catholicism and become a Bride of Christ. He nearly smashed the LP as I remember.

If he'd realised who the Sisters really were he'd have had a complete apoplectic fit.

My current favourite is Alexandra Leaving which makes me cry (thanks to ferval for alerting me to it when I mentioned the original Cavafy poem a while ago*).












*"The God Abandons Antony" (Greek: Ἀπολείπειν ὁ θεὸς Ἀντώνιον; also translated as "The God Forsakes Antony") is a poem by Constantine P. Cavafy, published in 1911. The poem refers to Plutarch's story of how Antony, besieged in Alexandria by Octavian, heard the sounds of instruments and voices of a procession making its way through the city, then passing out; the god Bacchus (Dionysus), Antony's protector, was deserting him; the poem's title itself is a verbatim quotation from Plutarch's text.

Adaptations[edit]

Leonard Cohen freely adapted the poem for his song "Alexandra Leaving" (Ten New Songs, 2001). Whereas Cavafy's theme was based around the city of Alexandria, Cohen's version builds around a woman named Alexandra.


EDIT: Actually, I thought it was Hercules who abandoned Antony - that's what Shakespeare said, anyway. Did Plutarch say Bacchus?

Second Soldier:

'Tis the god Hercules, whom Antony loved,
Now leaves him.

(Antony and Cleopatra Act IV sc iii)
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Sat 26 Nov 2016, 18:46

Well, adios Fidel, that's the last one gone who had been a consistent political presence since I have been old enough to have any understanding of such things. Whatever history makes of him, and I clearly recall the chilling fear in 1962 and am fully aware of some of his repressive measures, I have always had admiration for the way he thumbed his nose at the superpower across the straits as well as the education and health services he provided for his people.


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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Sun 27 Nov 2016, 03:31

Yes, our national radio today had a report on his death and interviewed a jubilant crowd in Florida which I thought was a bit tasteless.  It was not balanced by any notion of what was happening in Cuba though they may not have had time or permission to get a reporter into that country.
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Vizzer
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Sun 27 Nov 2016, 13:42

Agree regarding the tastelessness of those whooping and hollering at his death, particularly when one considers that he's been out power for years. It calls to mind other similar incidents of jubilation at the news of deaths in the recent past such as following the extra-territorial and extra-judicial murder of 'Osama bin Laden' (or whoever it was) by U.S. black ops forces in 2011. And there were also similar occurrences at the deaths of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi etc.  

And it's not just in the U.S. where this phenomenon is evident. There were equally disgraceful scenes in the UK when Margaret Thatcher died in 2013 more than 20 years after leaving office. Needless to say that some of those dancing in the streets and making silly postings on social media etc weren't even old enuff to vote and some weren't even born when she was prime minister.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Sun 27 Nov 2016, 14:18

Like the racer snakes it could perhaps be said of Castro that he was "a right bastard"? But then, he was a strong and effective leader, was he not?

But I do agree; gloating over anyone's death is never a good idea. Let history be the man's judge.
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Sun 27 Nov 2016, 19:10

Catro rid Cuba of the awful Batista - along with Che's help, of course. He then had a filthy stable to clear out and his methods  extremely questionable - but what he established was perhaps for the larger good. Major powers played games with and about him .... Russia eventually stopped trading for Cuban sugar which was a great blow to Cuba's economy but Castro endured and handed over his position; few dictators  manage to do that. I think he had the respect of his people and for that his passing must surely be respected. I hope the offers of help from Trump do not replicate somewhat reprehensible earlier US policies there..... for one thing, it was loaded with Mafia connections. As Temp says, let history  reflect thoughtfully on the man - to which I add and within the context of his times.


Last edited by Priscilla on Sun 27 Nov 2016, 19:14; edited 2 times in total (Reason for editing : Corrections.... and then some)
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Fri 02 Dec 2016, 12:19

RIP Andrew Sachs:

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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Tue 06 Dec 2016, 14:27

Another great comedy character actor, Peter Vaughan has died.

Genial Harry Grout in Porridge

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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Wed 07 Dec 2016, 19:27

I was reading some of the (online) articles praising Peter Vaughan yesterday and was surprised that he was only (according to those articles anyhow) in three episodes of Porridge.  Of course he was in loads of productions and was born in Shropshire, a country which abuts my home county.  More recently I remember him playing Maester Aemon in Game of Thrones (cue collective eye roll from the rest of the Res Historians thinking "LiR and her lowbrow guilty pleasures").  He was very good in that - well he was very good in everything I saw him in.

Thinking of Andrew Sachs, it always surprises me to remember that relatively few episodes of Fawlty Towers were made but the programme is still recalled (mostly) fondly today.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Thu 08 Dec 2016, 13:33

See ya, Greg


Greg Lake, 1947-2016

Like the Pogues "Fairytale of New York", a Christmas hit which tore modern Christmas to shreds. I loved it.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Thu 08 Dec 2016, 15:38

Who?
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Thu 08 Dec 2016, 15:48

You probably made that comment when Keith Emerson killed himself eight months ago too.

Though you could have googled and avoided sounding fatuous facetious. Smile

Here's another one so, just to educate you ...


(the Olympic Stadium in Montreal with its usual gate Smile  )


Last edited by nordmann on Thu 08 Dec 2016, 21:08; edited 1 time in total
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Thu 08 Dec 2016, 19:05

No I didn't make that comment 8 months ago because I didn't know he had died until just now. It may come as a shock to you but not everyone keeps up on the news from the world of music (or movies and telly for that matter).

Yes I could have googled, I certainly would have if I had known that asking a simple question would mean being called stupid.

Thankyou for your condescending education, I do know who Emerson, Lake and Parmer are even though I am stupid. Although I did stupidly not make the connection at the time.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Thu 08 Dec 2016, 19:34

I didn't say "stupid". I said fatuous "facetious".

facetious
[fuh-see-shuh s]

adjective
1. not meant to be taken seriously or literally:
a facetious remark.
2. amusing; humorous.
3. lacking serious intent; concerned with something nonessential, amusing, or frivolous:
a facetious person.

Just like I'm being now (because I condescend to be).
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Thu 08 Dec 2016, 23:23

He wasn't the first man in space. He wasn't even the first American in space. Nor was he the first man to orbit the earth. In fact even his own planned mission of seven orbits (in the optimistically named "Friendship 7" Mercury flight) had to be cut short due to a fault and he landed after only three. But he's still a name that no one growing up in the 60s could have failed to know, mainly thanks to stuff like this ...



John Glenn, 1921 - 2016.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Fri 09 Dec 2016, 05:25

That's a fancy bit of editing there.........
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Fri 09 Dec 2016, 08:37

Malapropisms - the most serious threat to humanity we know of, ID, I can only aoplogise.

Here's one (a person, not a malapropism) that went almost unnoticed two days ago and of whom you might also well say "Who?", though in truth so would most people.

We actually owe more to Philip Knightley than we might realise. One of that breed of investigative, no-bullshit, and often reckless journalists that Australia seemed to produce in bucketloads during the 50s and 60s and who frequently ended up in Fleet Street, Knightley's no-nonsense language and unashamed use of what has become known as "chequebook journalism" has been both lauded and decried, not least by him. Yet without this tactic Knightley, and a small group of colleagues working for the then "principled" Sunday Times (how Times change, as they say), could never have painstakingly unfolded the whole sorry and corrupt scandal behind how Thalidomide, a sedative drug with known risks for foetal cell development, was marketed by its developers Chemie Grünenthal as an over-the-counter medication in West Germany, and then as a prescription drug for alleviating morning sickness throughout much of the rest of the world. The resultant human misery has been well described and documented elsewhere, so we need not iterate it here, but simply bear in mind that it was Knightley who first had the courage to describe it - in the face of libel suit threats directed against him and his paper.


Philip Knightley, 1929-2016

Knightley's team also pioneered what is known as "long-form" journalism - as with the Thalidomide story which developed into a long and drawn out campaign by the newspaper to spearhead demands for compensation for the drug manufacturers' many victims, a story that ended in success, but only after concerted efforts by the pharmaceutical companies concerned to stall, derail and defeat this initiative over two decades.

Knightley himself, despite this famous case, remained sceptical throughout his life regarding journalism's actual effect as a cause for good, correctly pointing out that those who most write the profession up in such a light are its own members. Nevertheless his autobiography "A Hack's Progress" is not only a witty and entertaining summary of a life spent in that profession, but also one with many insights into and sometimes shocking admissions of how the worlds of big business, politics and journalism interconnect. It reads as a cross between John Pilger and Clive James (two other Australians from the same batch), and is all the more recommended for that.
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Islanddawn
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Fri 09 Dec 2016, 19:29

No 'who'? from me this time. I well know of Knightly, a sad loss.

Decent Australian journalists are a dying breed, unfortunately.
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ferval
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Tue 13 Dec 2016, 11:02

I see that A.A. Gill has died. What I hadn't known was that he was once married to Amber Rudd, our current Home Secretary - that might just explain a lot about both of them. Some might say that they deserved each other but at least Gill was (sometimes) funny and he usually just offended those who could fight back.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Wed 28 Dec 2016, 18:09

The Grim Reaper might not be all that grim after all - his current suggestion for a rather off-beat jam combo over the yuletide period is definitely rather funny, strange if not quite ha-ha.






If I was Art Garfunkel I'd be taking it very easy the next few days - Christmas ain't over yet!

In the meantime rest in eternity Carrie Fisher, Rick Parfitt, Richard Adams and George Michael, respectively 1956, 1948, 1920 and 1963 to 2016.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Wed 28 Dec 2016, 18:34

I remember as a thirteen year old boy being given 'Watership Down' for Christmas .... and thinking, meh, "a poxy book about bloody bunnies!"

But just to please my mum I read a few pages ... became hooked and ploughed through the whole thing over the next few days. And for the first time I realised that, while one can always re-read any book, one can only ever really experience a good book once, for the very first time.

Thank you Mr Adams.


Last edited by Meles meles on Thu 29 Dec 2016, 15:58; edited 1 time in total
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Thu 29 Dec 2016, 05:18

I loved Watership Down too, MM.  Don't know where our copy of it is just now.  Should re-read it.

Today it was Carrie Fisher's mother's turn.  Debbie Reynolds was my father's favourite actress, and someone whose name I was brought up with.  Her Tammy was a song I was very familiar with as a child.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Thu 29 Dec 2016, 14:30

I did read Watership Down though I'm sorry to say I don't recall it awfully well now.  Although he wasn't the first so to do Richard Adams could turn out a story which both adults and (at least older) children could both read without making the story twee.  I haven't really followed Carrie Fisher's life through the years but looked her up on the internet now and it seems she was much more than just a bird in a metal bikini...she championed people with mental health issues for a start.  I didn't mind Status Quo though to be honest I was never a Wham - or George Michael as a solo artist - fan, but I don't tell other people what they should or should not like.  53 is much too young to die these days, though.  Sorry to hear about Debbie Reynolds too.  Caro, is the "Tammy" song the one where the cotton birds whispered above "Tammy, Tammy, Tammy's in love" - if so I remember it too.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Thu 29 Dec 2016, 20:50

Yes, that's it.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Mon 02 Jan 2017, 09:42

An unsung hero of mine - Tyrus Wong - died a few days ago at the great age of 106 (why do animators live so long?). Amongst other things he's the guy who broke millions of hearts in 1942 with this:



He was employed originally to do just the forest background stuff and proved so good he ended up as artistic director of the whole shebang. It was Wong who decided she had to die, scripted the scene, drew it, and in doing so created one of those definitive cinematic moments ...

Google his artwork (he painted in a very Chinese style in which impression always trumped reality). You won't be disappointed.

RIP Tyrus, and Bambi's mammy.

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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Mon 02 Jan 2017, 11:03

Although I knew what to expect, you should really put a warning on that Bambi clip. I'd just watched it when the post lady called with a recorded letter .... and I had to explain that I'd got something in my eye!

silent
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Mon 02 Jan 2017, 20:48

@nordmann wrote:
An unsung hero of mine - Tyrus Wong - died a few days ago at the great age of 106 (why do animators live so long?). Amongst other things he's the guy who broke millions of hearts in 1942 with this:



He was employed originally to do just the forest background stuff and proved so good he ended up as artistic director of the whole shebang. It was Wong who decided she had to die, scripted the scene, drew it, and in doing so created one of those definitive cinematic moments ...

Google his artwork (he painted in a very Chinese style in which impression always trumped reality). You won't be disappointed.

RIP Tyrus, and Bambi's mammy.

I didn't get round to seeing Bambi till the (I think middle) 1950s (well theoretically I could have seen it in the last year of the 1940s but I wouldn't have understood it being but a babe in arms) but I remember when I was still doing full-time office work in the 1990s saying about something that I hadn't been so upset since Bambi's mother was shot by the hunters ---- one of the younger ones in the firm (and remember I was but a 40-something then and not a 60-something) said "Blimey, I didn't realise Bambi was that old!".

I've never read the book of Bambi though somebody reckoned it was better than the film.  I think if one sees a film/TV series first one may prefer that to an adaptation (not specifically an adaptation of Bambi, any adaptation) and if one reads a novel which is later dramatised maybe one may have problems with dramatic licence.  I'm sure I said on another thread albeit some time ago, that despite Julie Christie being an excellent actress, when my pals were all in raptures about the 1968(ish) film of Far From the Madding Crowd I was going "but Bathsheba's supposed to have black hair...".

106 is a good innings I guess, but if it's your dad or your brother or your grand-dad who has died it is going to be a sad event whatever age the deceased person achieved.
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Caro
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Mon 02 Jan 2017, 21:12

Yes.  I lost both my parents at a very young age - 4 when my mother died, nearly 16 when it was my father's turn.  (My sister was a year younger.)  So I didn't quite understand the sorrow of later death when I was younger (and not so very young at that).  I am always a bit ashamed that I wasn't more understanding of my husband's grief when his father died at the age of 82.  It's only quite recently reading people's reaction to their aged parents' deaths or their spouses that I have realised that the longer you have someone the more they are missed.  I did understand that because I had never really known or remembered much of my mother that when people said, "You must miss her very much", I realised I didn't really miss her much at all.  It was my father whom I missed.  (Though I think my sister did miss her a lot, or missed the idea of not having a mother.)

I don't think I have ever seen Bambi.
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Tue 03 Jan 2017, 16:22

Gosh Caro, you did lose your parents young. What a pity.  My grandparents died when I was quite young - I know that's not the same as one's parents.  One grandfather died a few days before I was born and the other when I was about 8 or 9 and my grandmothers both when I was 2, 3 or 4, I'm not sure.  I can remember going up to Liverpool for the funerals - and not really understanding why my mother's mother wasn't there.  Saying that grandma had gone to heaven was much like saying someone had gone to Blackpool in my mind at that time. I did miss having grandparents when other children talked about their grand-dads and grandmas.
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FrederickLouis
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Thu 05 Jan 2017, 01:29


Debbie Reynolds died December 28. She starred in The Debbie Reynolds Show.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Sun 08 Jan 2017, 19:01

Where has he gone to, my lovely?

Personally I always preferred this one ...


Peter Sarstedt 1941-2017


Come to think of it - why was this one banned in so many countries?
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LadyinRetirement
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Sun 08 Jan 2017, 20:56

It's the "Where do you go to my Lovely" one that I remember though looking at his catalogue he was quite prolific until he became ill a few years ago just he wasn't a household name anymore.

I was looking at a Carrie Fisher tribute video on YouTube and clicked on a "wrong" video.  Somebody was saying that Prince (the purple one) and George Michael and Carrie Fisher had been sacrificed by the Illuminati for the Queen's (as in the UK one) 90th birthday by the Illuminati.  What was scary was that some people commenting obviously took the premise of that video on board as true - some of the comments included veiled anti-semitism too.  One person had commented "I suppose the use of drugs had nothing to do with it?" so there were some sensible people about.  I believe that big business does look after its own interests - not so sure there are "Illuminati" or guardians doing so though.
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Thu 12 Jan 2017, 15:17

We'll never hear the likes again ... (back in the days when England managers were not multi-lingual or even bilingual, but just lingual in the old-fashioned way)



And another gem from one of the best documentaries ever made ...



RIP Graham Taylor, 1944 - 2017
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Fri 13 Jan 2017, 14:14

None of you will probably have heard of this lad who died last Tuesday at the grand old age of 100. However those of you from outside Ireland, and who think they know that country's people and their historical heroes of the 20th century, may be surprised to learn that a public vote at the turn of the millennium to name the "Irish Person of the Century" chose not deValera, or Collins, or Beckett, or Yeats, or for that matter Geldof, or Bono, but this unassuming civil servant as the only one worthy of the accolade.



People my age will remember the name well, though mostly as a faceless scrawled signature on every bank note back in the days of Lady Lavery posing so sexily on the pound and the gnarling Liffey gods on the reverse of all of them. T.K. (Ken) Whitaker was the guy who, as the author of the 1958 First Programme for Economic Expansion set out the blueprint whereby an impoverished, backward, agrarian, and generally economically clueless country with few resources beyond a willing labour force which traditionally sold itself cheap for the benefit of others might one day claw its way into an industrial limelight of some description.

It is to the then Fianna Fail party leadership's credit that it recognised an intelligent plan when it saw one, even one which emphatically wiped cosy notions of a land of "comely maidens dancing at crossroads" forever from the national psyche as our greatest aspiration, the silly idyll of deValera making way for the hard-nosed and practical idealism of post-war economic theory.

It is hard to know what might have happened in Ireland had Whitaker not been there when he was - perhaps another equally visionary person was poised to step into that role (though if he or she was, they were very quiet about it). Maybe without Whitaker's plan the country might have bumbled and bustled its belated way into the 20th century regardless, though in truth when it later departed from his guidelines and trusted to just such bumbling and bustle the overwhelming evidence suggests it would have regressed, not advanced at all.

In 2000, with the "Celtic Tiger" generation still in primary school, and with an adult population who all could - to varying degrees - quite easily trace whatever prospects they enjoyed back to a short few years of tremendous innovation and application kick-started by Whitaker (and who knew a paper tiger from the real thing), there was only one man who could realistically be called "the Irish person of the 20th century". It is only a shame he arrived so late into it.

RIP.
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PaulRyckier
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Fri 13 Jan 2017, 20:21

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FrederickLouis
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Mon 16 Jan 2017, 02:08

Antony Armstrong-Jones, Earl of Snowdon died on January 13, 2017. He was a photographer and former brother-in-law of Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain. In May of 1960 he married Princess Margaret Rose, the Queen's sister.
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PostSubject: Re: The RIP Thread   Tue 17 Jan 2017, 09:02

I first learnt of Gene Cernan when, as a recently returned pilot of a Gemini craft, he was interviewed for an article published by Look & Learn (remember that?). In it he paid tribute to the original intended crew of the mission who had been tragically killed in an air crash earlier that year, himself and Tom Stafford having been thus promoted from backup to primary crew. He also expressed excitement about the soon to start Apollo programme and how he hoped to be among the first three crew detailed to test the new craft's systems and launch mechanisms. As it turned out NASA opted for more experienced candidates to constitute their inaugural Apollo crew, all three of whom then were to perish so tragically when one of the first of these tests ended in a catastrophic capsule blaze on a Cape Kennedy launch pad.


Cernan on the moon

For Cernan this was simply further evidence of what he already firmly believed - and in subsequent years spoke frequently about - that for all our great ambitions, wishes, planning, dreams and knowledge (the Apollo programme being the epitome of all these human faculties and more) we are ruled primarily by simple fate. Dumb luck, as he might have said himself. When John F. Kennedy - as Cernan also said - plucked a decade from the 21st century and imposed it on a 1960s world with 1960s technology and 1960s expertise, mankind more than ever relied on dumb luck to achieve what was in effect a totally preposterous and amazingly arrogant notion - that representatives of our species should feel entitled through little more than the earnestness of their efforts and a faith in good fortune to stand for the first time on an alien world and look back at the one which spawned us all.

Capricious Fortune, as the Romans also knew well, responds often with benevolence when afforded such trust, and for mankind a simple footfall in July 1969 was the culmination of that benevolence, one which continued for three short years until the final lunar landing mission, commanded by Gene Cernan.

It is already five years since we lost the first man to step on the moon. Now we have lost the last man to leave a footprint on the lunar surface. But what we must never lose, despite so much evidence in recent times for just how fragile it can be, is what these brave, arrogant and foolhardy men represented most - the human propensity for great achievement inspired by little more than curiosity, a flimsy yet relentless spur which has underpinned our species' staggering and often stumbling career throughout its existence towards a nebulous goal, so nebulous that many of us are no longer sure any more it might even exist.

For men like Eugene Cernan there was no doubt about such goals. And while they dreamed on our behalf we could all share, albeit all too briefly, in their astral wonder. I can only hope to see this shared ideal return before I die.


Eugene "Gene" Cernan, 1934 - 2017
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