Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Brushes With Fame



Meeting celebrities is an awkward business.

The above conclusion is one I've reached over years of going to the Roger Ebert Film Festival, and having visited Hollywood, California back in the 1990s. Perhaps it's just me, but there really doesn't seem to be any real connection that we, the public, have with those who produce and star in some of our most beloved pop culture touchstones.

Take, for example, Ebertfest of 2002. One of my favorite movies from that year's festival was Kwik Stop, starring and directed by Michael Gilio, who was in attendance. The film moved me and, after Gilio's Q&A on-stage, I decided to approach him and say what a marvelous movie it was that he'd made. Of course, once I was in his presence, it was more like gibberish that came out of my mouth, followed by a perfunctory request for an autograph, which he provided.

Then there were several years where actor Scott Wilson attended the festival. Known then for his role in the 1967 classic In Cold Blood, though now better known for his role of Hershel in The Walking Dead, his talent was not lost on me, and during the after-parties toward the end of the festival, where he would be sitting with his wife, Heavenly, chatting-away with guests, I would often want to say hello. Of course, I did not.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Five Years



There are a lot of milestones in our lives: birthdays, wedding anniversaries, first date anniversaries, the day we began a new job, the day a loved one died, etc. Some are happy reminders, others not so much. Some have a bit of a mixed-bag impact on us. That's probably the best way to describe what happened five years ago today.

April 9th, 2010 was a Friday, much like any other. It was a couple of weeks before the annual Roger Ebert Film Festival, of which I am a regular attendee. Ebert was on my mind at the time, not necessarily because of the festival, but because he'd had thyroid cancer a few years earlier and, on that particular morning, I was rolling into Provena (now Presence) Hospital for a morning surgery to remove my own cancerous thyroid.

That morning was a particularly early one for Ashley & I. The surgery was scheduled for 7:30am and, like airports, hospitals want you to arrive at least an hour or two early. There was the check-in process, the interminable waiting, the flurry of staff who prep you for the procedure, and then the final approach into the cold operating theater wherein it's lights-out once the anesthesia takes hold.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Time and Space



10 years ago today saw the revival of my favorite television show of all-time.

Doctor Who has been a part of my life since, well.... since I was in short pants. A staple of PBS viewing, I watched it seven times a week (Monday through Friday at 10pm, and on Saturdays at 6:00pm and 6:30pm). There was a Doctor Who convention here in Champaign, in February 1985, where Sixth Doctor Colin Baker came to town. Charming man.

After 26 years on the air, Doctor Who was cancelled in 1989 after waning quality and audience numbers. An American-made TV movie in 1996 did nothing to revive the program, and it looked like Doctor Who was gone for good, relegated to reruns, DVDs, books and the occasional radio show featuring the old actors trotted-out to re-create their roles.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Three Score and Ten



Today is a day like any other. It's the day after the first day of Spring. It's a Saturday. Some folks are working, some folks aren't. Some folks are drawing their last breaths, others are being born into this glorious world. Here in Champaign, Illinois the weather is fairly nice. Lower-50s currently and, coming off of winter, it feels great. So, much like it does, the world continues to turn.

Today is also the 70th anniversary of my father's birth. Regular readers of this blog know all about Lewis Ivy Gladney. I've certainly mentioned him enough times. He passed away in 1997 and, as the years have gone on, things like the anniversary of his birth and the anniversary of his death have loomed less and less and large in my life. Some years, I haven't remembered them until days later. My world has continued to turn.

This year is different.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

To the Departed


You all cross my mind, perhaps more often than the dead really should. You are no longer living, breathing, thinking entities, though maybe I'm mistaken. Maybe the stories of so many religions across the millennia are true: maybe you all still exist somewhere, perhaps not alive (in the sense that we know it), but still cognizant of some form of reality?

All I know for sure is that I miss you and, for many of you, I feel like you were gone too soon. Along with missing you is, in some cases, a twinge of guilt. For those who took their own lives I wonder, "Could I have done more?"  For those who passed away naturally I ask, "Did I convey to you how much you were appreciated?" Questions with unknowable answers. That could be why they resurface far too often.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Live Long and Prosper


"I'm touched by the idea that when we do things that are useful and helpful - collecting these shards of spirituality - that we may be helping to bring about a healing."
                                                               -- Leonard Nimoy


It's not very often that a celebrity death rattles me. They are, after all, people I don't really know. For whatever reason, River Phoenix's sudden passing hit me hard back in 1993, and I was pretty sad this past November when author P.D. James died. It didn't matter that she was 94-years-old. She was my favorite writer, and had been active up until her death, often making the news. And, of course, there's Roger Ebert. I've written much about what he means to me already.

Now, dear reader, another celebrity death has occurred that has, frankly, left me gutted. Actor Leonard Nimoy -- most famous for portraying Mr. Spock on Star Trek -- has died today, aged 83. It is difficult to put down in words exactly what this man meant to me (or at least what his presence on TV, in movies and on social media meant). The death of Mr. Nimoy, such an icon in the science-fiction world, has left this sci-fi fan with a vague feeling of emptiness.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Pic of the Week

Trying to stay on a more regular schedule with this, so, fresh from the debut of his new movie Kingsman: The Secret Service, our pic o' the week is none other than British actor Taron Egerton!