The upside to not being online much today is that some of the really good Roger Ebert eulogies and the best scenes from Beyond the Valley of the Dolls had all arrived in my “pop culture junkies” twitter list by the time I sat down to write this. The downside is that all this stuff means that Roger Ebert died.

The 70 year old Film critic, prolific tweeter, and screen-writer inspired a tidal wave of tributes.

Here’s the lengthy tribute by the founder and editors at Rotten Tomatoes, which is an impressive reminder of the impact Ebert had on a lot of people, the Onion’s tribute, Roger Ebert Hails Human Existence As ‘A Triumph,’ and the New Yorker’s POSTSCRIPT: ROGER EBERT, 1942-2013, and the lengthy piece in the New York Times, and, of course, the obituary at the Chicago Sun-Times

And last, but not least, here’s a clip of the party scene from Ebert’s 1970 classic screenplay, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. It’s probably not safe for work, but I guess that depends where you work.

[embedded video: BVD Party Scene (NSF)]


Longtime readers knew Carl Cordell as Reservoir Carl, a nickname I stuck to him in 2007 before I ever even met him, based on a photo I saw of the Peeps diorama he made for the Washington Post Peeps Diorama contest. Fortunately, he thought it was funny. This birthday post I wrote about him 2 years ago explains it all.

No human being on the face of the earth could aggravate me more than Carl. He reveled in this, of course, and we laughed about it, in those times when I wasn’t secretly plotting ways to drop him to the bottom of the Potomac River with rocks in his pockets.

Carl was my biggest fan, reading every word I wrote and sending me a detailed email about every single thing I posted.

He was also the hardest worker Artomatic ever had.

He was also a royal pain in my ass. Let’s not get too sappy, here…

Carl passed away last year. Before his health began to spiral downward, he sent me an absurdly long, overly detailed, utterly ridiculous, totally Carl list of things I was instructed to do upon his demise. I promised I would do my very best.

At the time we made this deal, he swore his health was fine. It wasn’t long before we all knew that was a lie, of course.

Carl had no way of knowing that Tracy and Roger and Michele and Brian and all of his friends would create an amazing shrine to him for this Artomatic, or probably even that the whole event would be dedicated to his memory, but they did and it is. Instead of placing flowers next to his last peeps diorama as he’d instructed, I had a real place to put the flowers I was asked to bring.

I posted this on Facebook this morning. Facebook being Facebook, the message didn’t display for everyone so some wackiness ensued. Here it is again, in perhaps a more stable form:

Dear Carl,
Okay buddy, here we are on opening day. I’m not running this crazy shindig anymore but I got permission to bring the flowers I promised you, 1 for each artomatic we did together. I’m sorry I had to go w your 2nd choice, roses, but I just couldn’t find good sunflowers this morning.

I know, ants love all flowers, but I made you a promise I couldn’t keep.

I’m sorry you aren’t here to see this event & I’m almost sorry we won’t get to have our traditional opening day fight and I’m actually even sorry I couldn’t keep the other promises you made me make, but let’s be honest, even if we’d gotten you mummified, I doubt I could have done the ritual to reanimate you as Carl-Tet, mummy king of Artomatic. I’m pretty sure that movie we watched was a Hollywood movie & not a documentary.

But I digress.

I need to go now cause even though I’ve got permission to be in the building, I’m just sitting here crying and scaring the volunteers witless.

Also, this bench they put in front of your shrine is sorta rickety & I have my doubts about how long it’ll support my weight. That’s just the kind of stuff you’d have called me to worry over, though, isn’t it? :-)

I was a wreck by the time I got those flowers put up. My full instructions were to get a dozen flowers and place one for each Artomatic we worked on together next to his diorama and the rest in my space. I did that this morning but I suspect when I arrive tonight for the opening I’m going to have to move them all over to his shrine or I won’t be able to go into my own space without crying.

Carl being Carl, my instructions included a list of acceptable flowers. The list was several pages long. Decent-looking sunflowers being in short supply in my neighborhood stores this morning, I went with the 2nd choice, roses.

Later in the day, Roger sent me this photo. The sunflower crisis is over:

I don’t know if I’m going to be able to recite Jabberwocky at Meet the Artist Night or edit Carl into a copy of Empire of Ants, but this flower thing, I could do this. So I did.

Our beloved friend Maya the Border Collie exited this mortal coil.

Maya and I spent many fine hours together playing frisbee or on walkies around the neighborhood, sniffing things and herding neighbors. Maya did most of the herding and the sniffing, of course.

I’m updating this to clarify that Maya was my friend, she wasn’t actually our dog. Sorry for any confusion.

der Speigel is reporting that Celebrity Polar Bear Knut is demised. Polar bears are large and frightening and amazing. I never saw Knut in person, but his picture makes occasional appearances on my desktop because he’s a handsome devil.

Former First Cat Socks has gone to the great Catnip Field in the Sky. He was 19 years old.

Socks the Cat

Here’s the blurb about Socks:

Socks the cat joined the Clinton White House while First Daughter Chelsea was a young girl. Chelsea’s piano teacher found two kittens playing under her porch one day. She tried to locate the mother, but was unsuccessful. When the First Lady brought Chelsea for her piano lesson, they noticed the two kittens playing. Chelsea held out her arms and one kitten, black with white feet, jumped into her arms. The cat was named Socks for her distinctive markings. Hillary Rodham Clinton later wrote a book titled Dear Socks, Dear Buddy which includes letters written to Socks and Buddy (the Clinton’s chocolate Labrador retriever) by children from around the world. Since both Bill and Hillary Clinton are allergic to cats, Socks was always Chelsea’s cat. When Chelsea went off to Stanford University, Socks was adopted by Betty Currie, President Clinton’s White House Secretary.

Rest in peace Socks, I always thought you were way cooler than Buddy.

Yesterday the Washington Post had a pair of articles about a longtime colleague who passed away over the weekend.

Ellen Edwards, writing for the Washington Post Style section, summed up a first (second, third and fourth) encounter with Sally Smith perfectly:

“At first glance you might have thought you had come upon some improbable tropical bird, full of color and feathers, dressed in layers of patterns on patterns, a pile of rolling blond curls on her head.”

[read the whole piece]

The obituary in the Metro section had a more serious in tone:

Sally L. Smith, 78, founder of the Lab School in Washington, a school widely known for its innovative curriculum and its uncommon success in unlocking the mysteries of learning for those who learn differently from others, died Dec. 1 of complications of myeloma at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

[read the entire obituary]

Sadly, I was highly sensitive to Sally’s perfume and so most of our interactions were by phone, so I missed many of her more spectacular ensembles. I certainly experienced her boundless energy and enthusiasm, though.

I know it’s old news, but I’ve been in denial for a while: Punk Planet is deceased.

As much as it breaks our hearts to write these words, the final issue of Punk Planet is in the post, possibly heading toward you right now. Over the last 80 issues and 13 years, we’ve covered every aspect of the financially independent, emotionally autonomous, free culture we refer to as “the underground.” In that time we’ve sounded many alarms from our editorial offices: about threats of co-optation, big-media emulation, and unseen corporate sponsorship. We’ve also done everything in our power to create a support network for independent media, experiment with revenue streams, and correct the distribution issues that have increasingly plagued independent magazines. But now we’ve come to the impossible decision to stop printing, having sounded all the alarms and reenvisioned all the systems we can. Benefit shows are no longer enough to make up for bad distribution deals, disappearing advertisers, and a decreasing audience of subscribers.

[read the rest of the post]

So very, very sad.