Canapeel

can·a·peel (noun) \ˈkan-ə-pēl\ – A meal with a lot of variety, where each participant finds and cooks their own food.

The Longest Ride

Darla's Little Rascal

Darla’s Little Rascal

Man, I hate writing stuff like this…  Last night, we took the longest ride with our little Emma, taking her to the vet to release her from the pain she’s been in for so long.

Emma came to us from a farm in Wright City back in 1999, just after Becky and I were married.  Becky had wanted a Bernese Mountain Dog forever, but had raised a wonderful English Springer Spaniel when she was young.  She knew that I was more of a cat-person in those days, and felt that a smaller, “training wheels” dog like a Springer might be just the thing to set the stage for a Berner in the future.  So, little Emma came into our lives.

She was a very sick puppy, and I think that’s how she and I bonded so strongly.  She’d cuddle up with me, melt my heart, and wrap me around her tiny little paws.  In fact, during those days, she used to sleep under the covers, cuddled up against me.

There’s no doubt Emma was a little hound dog, with her nose always on the ground, sniffing out everything that had ever happened on any piece of ground.  We trained her, and she showed that she could do pretty much anything we wanted.

A couple of funny memories…

When she was about two, we used to leave her out while we were at work.  On one day, we came home to find a puddle of blue ink on our white carpet, and gazillions of little blue paw prints all throughout the house.  Emma had gotten bored, and decided to chew up an ink pen.  She got tired of that and walked all over the house, leaving these little paw prints everywhere.  Her mouth was blue from the ink, and with the carpet well inked, it looked she’d killed a smurf in the living room.

On another occasion, Becky worked with a vendor to get a refund check for some paint that really didn’t work very well on our walls.  The check came in, and sat on our coffee table for a while.  Emma discovered it one day (again, while we were at work), and ate it, leaving Becky with a rather embarrassing phone call to the vendor to get them to re-issue the check because the dog had eaten it.

Much later, when Em was about seven or so, Becky found out that Starbucks would let you take old coffee grounds to put in your garden.  Becky put a couple of bags of these old grounds out in the backyard garden.  Well, Emma’s nose found the coffee, leading her to eat a bunch of the old grounds.  Emma was ok, but all night, she marched around the bedroom, with every loop stopping to look out the window, and let out a little “bwoof” to anything that would listen, after which she’d march the next lap.  We finally crated her, and she slipped into a deep, deep, caffeine-crashing sleep.

In her later life, she began getting stiffer and stiffer, and was in pretty constant pain, turning her last few years into a exercise in pain management.  During that time, she grew mostly blind, mostly deaf, and exhibited strong signs of canine dementia.  We’ve known for months that we were staring at an inevitable decision point, and finally, her discomfort exceeded what the pain management could do for her.  It was time.

Wednesday night, we played with her as much as she’d let us, took some photos and video.  We made a paw print.  We snipped some of her fur.  And we loved on her.  We cried, and in the first moment of real normalcy from Emma in a couple of years, she licked the tears from our faces, once again, briefly, being the dog we had known for so long.  We gave her some popcorn — one of her favorite treats, and just tried to keep her comfortable, knowing what was coming.

Last night, Becky brought her a little McDonald’s hamburger, and each of us fed her a little bit of it as we waited for time to leave for the vet.  Once again, Dr. Hooks helped us take care of one of our dear pets, and let Emma finally rest, relieved of her pain.

We got an email from Dr. Hooks later last night, and he let us know that Emma was one his first patients as he joined the practice he’s still at.  In fact, her first appointment with him was fourteen years to the day as her last visit with him.

Becky asked Dr. Hooks if there were any studies out there that Emma could help with.  He found a study on canine dementia, and took samples for the study.  We were really happy Emma could be helping with other dogs that might face this in the future.  Who knows — maybe that research will help with human studies in dementia.

And now she’s gone.

The house is quieter, and has a little less life in it.  I’m pretty sure Bailey figured it out.  She sniffed where Emma would typically lie, and looked at me last night as we were going to bed, almost asking if I’d forgotten to bring Emma into the bedroom.  She’s a smart dog.

It’s tough, but I know we did the right thing.  Emma was in major pain, and holding her here just to ease our hearts wasn’t fair, as weighed against her hurting so much.  I don’t like that this was the choice we were left with, but I’m at peace with it.

As Becky said last night, Molly and Emma are back together again.  They were inseparable for almost ten years, and I’m sure that once again, they’re romping about, being the goofy critters we once knew.

posted by Colin Wright in Family and have Comment (1)

Love and Loathe

The calendar has turned the page to November, tonight we set our clocks back an hour, and we’ve just come off our first freeze in Da Lou.  I both love and loathe this time of year.

October is filled with post-season baseball, something I start looking forward to every spring.  This year, once again, the Cardinals were in the hunt, but once again, came up short.  And while that was tough to watch, it was just as tough to watch the Royals go down in the World Series, especially to San Francisco.  It’s easy for me to root for an underdog, and Kansas City certainly fit the bill of carrying the Cinderella card this year.  It just wasn’t to be, despite a crazy ride.  Like I said, I love this time of year.

At the same time, there’s another set of games going on … election shenanigans.

I loathe election season.  I hate all the yelling and screaming, and seeing the bottom feeding of the human condition on full display.  If you listen to the adverts, every person out there running for office is some combination of Hitler and Satan, drowns puppies for sport, sank the Titanic, conspired against Elvis, and is carrying ebola.  What’s incredible to me is how little any candidate seems to talk about themselves, their platform and beliefs, and how much they have to say about their opponents’.  Add to that adverts spawned by other groups who have hidden agendas that drive their attacks, and the buildup to Tuesday’s election becomes less an exercise in democracy in action, and more like a gaggle of folks just being obnoxious.

Thankfully, the countdown to Tuesday is on, when we can all get back to being semi-civil, and enjoy the onset of fall.  With glee, I will cast my ballot, if only to shut ‘em all up!

posted by Colin Wright in Politics,Sports and have No Comments

Apple MacPro, OS X Yosemite and Wi-Fi … The Honeymoon’s Over

OK, so I’ll admit it.  I’m an Apple fanboy, and have been since making the switch to Macs in 2005.  For geek profile purposes, I would tell ya that I’m an early adopter, and a realist about problems that may show up.  It’s hardware, and software, and even though there’s tight synergy granted from both sides of that coming from the same complex in Cupertino, I recognize that things will go bump every now and then.

That said, let me introduce you to my latest saga with the Apple ecosystem.

AirDrop is a pretty cool technology that allows Macs, and now iPhones with iOS 8, to create short-lived, ad hoc networks to transfer files.  This is pretty cool, especially if you use your iPhone as a primary form of photography (And for Rick and Tom, I’m not naming names here!), and for probably other uses as well.  Once I got both Yosemite and iOS 8.1 down, I wanted to give AirDrop a try.  The first prompt I got was to turn on the wi-fi card in my late-2013 Mac Pro cylinder.

As a note, I don’t usually keep wi-fi enabled on my Mac Pro.  This machine never travels, and does some big data moves across my network, so hardwiring it at gig-e speeds just makes sense for me.

When I tried to turn on the wi-fi on my shiny cylinder o’ fun, I clicked the button on the network preferences panel… and nothing happened.  I clicked it again.  Nothing.  And like any good techie, I continued clicking it periodically over the next few minutes.  Nada.

I decided to restart my Mac, and as though by magic, I was able to turn on wi-fi in my system.  I played with AirDrop, and then turned off wi-fi.

Fast forward to yesterday.  I took a walk at lunch.  Normally, I use a Garmin Forerunner 310XT to capture my travels, but for some reason, it was having trouble finding the satellites, so I did my walk, and then wanted to check the distance.  My go-to answer for years has been Google Maps, but I figured that since Apple had included this cool Maps application on the desktop, I’d use it.

Well… it barked about not being able to find my position without wi-fi being turned on, which means the app barks incessantly about how it can’t determine my location.  I even tried to feed it my location to shut it up, and it still was pretty dang insistent.  I know my Mac doesn’t have a GPS device embedded in it, so it’s obviously using my wi-fi network name to figure where I am, based on the network I’m connected to.  If I’m out in public, that’s pretty cool.  Sitting in my house, that’s a little creepy.  TMI, say I!  However, that misgiving aside, I turned on my wi-fi.

Or tried to.

Once again, I was left with a wi-fi system that didn’t seem to be active, regardless of what I’d do.  Once again, I restarted my machine.  I paid close attention this time, and noticed that the wi-fi was on when the machine came back up.  Whether I had hit the button an odd number of times, resulting in the post-reboot status being active, or if it just remembered that I was trying to turn it on, my cylindrical Mac came back up with wi-fi happy.  Oh, and Maps was much happier as well.

So, what’s this mean?  I’m not entirely sure.  Except that I need to be planful around when I want to use AirDrop or Maps, or anything else requiring the lil’ Mac Pro to have its wi-fi enabled.

I’ve done a ton of searches on this issue.  Unfortunately, there are loads of as-yet-unresolved issues with Yosemite around wi-fi performance and dropping networks, and those are clouding my searches with a lot of wild goose chases.  If I had to guess, I’d bet that something is being flagged to turn on wi-fi, but can’t complete until after a restart for some reason.  Or, wi-fi is really active, but all the indicators in the network preferences aren’t there. I should probably watch my Apple network gear (using my iPad or iPhone) to see if there’s every anything showing up on the router’s side, which could help narrow things down.

Just a little spot on my otherwise shiny Apple!

posted by Colin Wright in Apple Existence,Geek-Speak and have Comments (6)

Apple iPhone 6 Plus

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I decided to get an Apple iPhone 6 Plus. It’s arrived, and here’s some of my thoughts.  (Granted, there’s probably nothing earth-shatteringly new here, but sometimes, ya just gotta say stuff.)

First off, the device is big. Really big, and that’s something that’s probably important to some people. For me, the way I use my phone is more as an Internet terminal rather than a phone, so the larger size is not all that important. When I need to use my phone as a phone, I’m usually using it with the speaker phone function turned on, so that mammoth physical size is really not that big an issue.

And frankly, while the width and height are generous, the thing is really slim, and doesn’t seem to weigh a ton.  And yes, it does fit in your pocket nicely … at least in my jeans.  If you’re a painted-on skinny jeans person, first off, I’m jealous, and secondly, it probably ain’t gonna fit in your pocket nearly as well as me in my baggy 550’s.

I love the rounded corners.  I tend to vacillate on this quite a bit.  When the iPhone 5 came out, I wasn’t a huge fan of the sharp edges, but I grew to like ‘em.  Now, the smooth contours of the iPhone 6 Plus have really seduced me.  It feels slick, curvaceous, and well molded for your hand.  I did buy a case (Spigen Thin Fit A), and while the case nicely fits the phone, and feels very protective, I really like the feel of the phone without it.  This case is small enough (but still sturdy!) that if you didn’t know the phone had a case on it, you might mistake it for part of the phone.  I’ve run with my phones both naked and covered, and this might be a phone that is prone to running around naked.  It’s just that nice.

iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 Plus

iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 Plus

The new screen is gorgeous.  It’s full 1080, and watching HD video on it is a dream.  Star Trek: Into Darkness is my favorite film to show off the crisp new display.  It just rocks on this device.  Really, really sharp, clear images from a well-done HD film.

One of the factors that drove me to this model over the regular iPhone 6 was the optical image stabilization in the camera.  On paper, this sounds like a really good thing.  In practice, I’ve only shot once where I was rocking’ and rollin’ (in the Jeep, handheld, going over some rocks), and it seemed to make a difference.  That’s not very scientific though, and is something I should try in a little more controlled environment against something like a GoPro, that doesn’t have IS.

Battery life seems to be much nicer than my iPhone 5.  I’ve found that the Facebook really drained the battery on my iPhone 5, and that seems better with the iPhone 6 (and that was with running the new iOS on both phones).  On the iPhone 5, I’d drain out to about 30% across a day of normal usage (including Facebook).  On the iPhone 6 Plus, I might drain down to 70% or so across the day.

And I really like TouchId.  Being able to identify my via the “belly button” is awesome.  I love not having to key in a passcode to unlock, and now having some applications using that as authentication within the application just makes it more magical.  Very, very cool!

Now for the ugly… The buttons.

The case redesign moved the volume and power switch, and I’m just not a fan of where they landed.  I like the fact that the power button isn’t on top, but my muscle memory always goes to the right side of the phone for volume, and that’s where the power button was relocated.  So when I try to change volume when listening to music, I turn off the iPhone.  Boo.  It’s just retraining, and I get that, but for someone that relies on knowing how to use his tools without looking, I don’t like changes to where controls are.  That’s one of the reasons that I tend to stick with the same brand on my toys — Canon cameras, Taylor guitars, etc. — so there’s not much (if any) retraining of my old brain.  I’m sure there’s a reason the volume control was moved, but I think you could move the power switch without relocating the volume control too.

One more thing I’d mention is the camera lens.  I really don’t like that the lens protrudes beyond the back case.  I don’t think you could hurt it, but that’s another great reason to have a case on the thing.  It’ll definitely keep it flat on a table.

So… a whole lot of goodness, and just those silly button relocations as a negative for me.  YMMV!

 

posted by Colin Wright in Apple Existence,Geek-Speak,Uncategorized and have Comments Off
Tags: ,

Waiting for the Show to Begin

A gazillion years ago, when I was a kid — around 1970 — I was a big listener of AM radio.  I’d sit in front of my folks’ ginormous ol’ console system, and listen to the local stations — WDXB, WGOW and WFLI.  This was well before FM radio represented mainstream music, and so I got to hear popular music, not the talking heads that seem to own AM nowadays.

I can just remember listening to The Beatles on the radio.  I knew who they were, and some of their music.  When Paul McCartney formed Wings shortly thereafter, I was a little older, and they became a huge part of my listening experience.  When Wings toured America in 1976, I can remember talking with my friends about how much we wanted to go see Wings at the Omni in Atlanta (the closest venue to Chattanooga).  That never happened for me, but I did do the next best thing.

I bought Wings Over America.  On vinyl.  Probably with money earned mowing yards.  :-)

This was a huge set, on three records, and had many of my Wings favorites, along with some Beatles tunes.  I listened to it a ton, wearing the grooves out.  I could tell you every moment in that live recording, every comment by the band, every high and low.  It was one of those recordings that got in my DNA, and I loved listening to it.

Fast forward a decade or so, and I finally found Wings over America on CD.  Once again, I listened to that thing like crazy in its digital perfection.  (Yeah, yeah, I know there’s a whole argument out there about the warmth of vinyl, and the harshness of digital.  I get it, but the convenience of digital music has made it the right answer for me for a long, long time.)

Fast forward again, this time to this year.

Somehow, someway, I got wind of Wings Over America being re-released in a uber-special box, with extra tunes, video, books, etc.  I hounded it on Amazon for months, perpetually having it in my wish list, occasionally moving it into my shopping cart, only to pull back.  It wasn’t that I didn’t want this newly refreshed edition, and it was certainly within my finances.  I’ve just grown a little weary of all the re-releases of the music of my youth.  It seems like every month, there’s some other musical crustacean re-releasing a newly updated or re-mastered edition of seminal music from our shared youth.  And some of those are amazing (like the recent Pink Floyd Immersion Editions), and others aren’t exactly all that.

This was different though.  This was Macca.  He’s “big-three” territory for me, with Kraftwerk and Pink Floyd being the other corners of that triad that formed the foundation of my musical tastes in my youth.  So I finally pulled the trigger, and waited for it to arrive.  (How did we ever get by without Amazon Prime?)

I watched my phone to see when Brown Santa (aka UPS) delivered it, and dashed upstairs to grab it off the porch practically before the truck sped away.  And like a kid at Christmas, I tore into the box, and retrieved my wondrous new arrival.

And it was wondrous.

Packed inside was a really amazing-sounding version of the concert I knew so well.  Plus eight tracks from the concert in San Francisco in ’76.  Plus a DVD of Wings over the World.  And if that weren’t enough, there were four books included:  a retrospective of the tour, a scrapbook-like book, a book of photos from the tour taken by Linda McCartney, and a fourth book that collected sketches from the tour’s official artist.  I climbed in my comfy chair, and devoured those four books.  It was amazing to see that tour through “grown up” eyes, but reflected through the eyes of my youth.  It just blew me away.

And like Wonka with his Golden Ticket, there was a little extra something-something inside.  I found a little card in the set.  This card contained a code to visit Macca’s website, entitling me to pull down ultra-high resolution 24-bit/96khz versions with almost no sound processing.  It’s just about as close as you could get to the master tapes… and they’re glorious!  The sound is bright, uncompressed, and simply astonishing.  There is so much depth — things in the background, subtleties in the foreground — in these recordings that I’d never heard before.

I vaguely remember seeing Wings over the World in the late 70s.  The books indicate that CBS aired it back then, but for some reason I have a memory of seeing it on PBS in Chattanooga.  No matter — it was here, and I reveled in seeing film from the tour I never got to visit.  (And yes, I know Rockshow is out now, and it’ll be hitting my door soon.)  I was transfixed, riveted to the screen, watching this crazy second chapter in McCartney’s career unfold through live concert footage

This box set was a time machine for me, carrying me back almost forty years, and giving me a little door through which to crawl every now and then, and re-experience a really significant part of my musical youth.

And now I hear that Wings at the Speed of Sound and Venus and Mars are being released in similar editions next month.  I guess Amazon and I have a little more dancing left to do.

posted by Colin Wright in Entertainment,Music and have Comments Off

It Never Rains, But It Pours

Gutdayzke

Gutdayzke

Yesterday, we lost my brother-in-law, Rob.  As my mother told me yesterday, it’s been a tough month.

Rob was a very cool guy, married to Becky’s older sister.  He and Carolyn were simply made for each other.  They struck me as relics from the 60s, still carrying the values of the youth of that era.  Anyone who knows me well, knows that for a long time I felt like I was temporally misplaced, and should’ve been a contributing member of the latter part of that decade.  As it was, I was just turning six at the dawn of the 70s, and so only read about that era.  To me, Rob and Carolyn brought that decade alive for me every time we saw them.

Rob was a hyper-distance runner, and man do I wish I’d talked with him about that!  As I continue to struggle through learning how to run and how to enjoy it, I’d love to have picked his brain around his running regimen, and how he kept motivated to do it.  If you search the internet, you’ll find records of him running from 50km to almost 200km in events through the midwest.  That’s amazing, especially to a big ol’ guy that looks at 5km as a big deal.

He was a gentle man, and a very unique guy in a world that needs more unique in it.

Run, Gutdayzke, run.

posted by Colin Wright in Family,Running and have Comments Off

Looking for Answers

I’d been mentally queuing up a post to talk about my cancer survivorship. It’s a tough road sometimes to have an “easy” cancer story: going from diagnosis to surgery to cured in just about a month. That’s just not the typical story, and while I feel like the luckiest guy on the planet, and that there’re lessons for folks in my message, there are times when I’m just smacked in the face with how unfair stupid cancer is.

Yesterday, a friend lost his just-turned fifteen year old daughter to a really nasty adolescent cancer called Ewing’s sarcoma. She went from diagnosis to passing in about fifteen pain-filled months.

Think of the future lost… school, career, husband, children, grandchildren. And all at fifteen.

And that’s why there are folks like me that question why they were dealt a relatively easy hand, while others are dealt the toughest fates there are. I mean, I’m an old guy who’s been around the bases a time or two, but she had a whole future ahead of her. Where’s the fairness in my still being here, and her being gone?

I’ll get past this question of “why me?” — I always do. After all, I know that God’s got a plan, and won’t put more in our hands than we can handle, even if we don’t understand it all. I can’t help but think about our friend and his family, though, knowing that I don’t have any frame of reference to understand their pain. I do have broad, strong shoulders though, and they’re welcome to them.

posted by Colin Wright in Cancer,Uncategorized and have Comments Off

Once Again, Into the Fray

Last week, Apple announced the new iPhone 6 models and the Apple Watch.  Since the Apple Watch doesn’t ship until next year, I went ahead and ordered the iPhone 6.  :-)

We’ve been with Verizon for the last two years, and it’s been a good relationship.  Unfortunately, Darla and I came into our iPhone purchases a little late, so we weren’t eligible until early October to order new phones, and I had resigned myself to a new iPhone arriving sometime in November.  Until today.

Upgrade Time!One of my coworkers clued me in that Verizon had changed the eligibility for some folks, so I called #874, and waited for the return text message…  Success!

With that, I pounced on ordering my new phone.  I skip every other version, so my iPhone 5 was starting to look a little long in the tooth.  I had a smaller memory model, expecting to leverage the cloud for my files, and while I’ve done that, I also like having my stuff with me.

With the announcement last week, folks have been asking me what model I was going to order.  Frankly, it was a pretty easy decision for me.  I use my iPhone more as a internet terminal than a phone most of the time.  And when I am using it as a phone, it’s either Bluetooth tethered to the Jeep, or on speakerphone mode.  I rarely hold it to my head.

With all that in mind, true 1080 HD resolution, and optical camera stabilization, it was easy to fall in line behind the iPhone 6 Plus.  Capacity was another question though.  For years, I’d bought the largest amount of storage I could get on my Apple i-devices.  In my last round of purchases, I’d opted for a smaller memory footprint, and leverage stuff in the cloud.  However, after two years of working within a small footprint, I’ve decided bigger is better, and opted for a 128GB device.  And if you’re keeping score at home, I ordered a Space Gray.

With all that said, the target delivery date range is October 16th – 23rd.  Had I ordered on October 3rd, it really would’ve been November!

I’m looking forward to playing with the new camera more than anything else.  I’ve always been impressed with the ubiquity of my iPhone, and it’s been my “best camera” because it’s the one that’s with me.  With the camera improvements, I expect that’ll get even more use from me.  And with the larger storage, I’m betting I’ll use it as much as my other camera rigs.

So watch this space — a month from now! — and we’ll see just what the iPhone 6 Plus brings to my world!

posted by Colin Wright in Apple Existence,Geek-Speak and have Comment (1)

Who Ya Gonna Call?

This year marks thirty years since Ghostbusters hit the big screen.  Odds are, if you’re under 40 or so, you probably haven’t seen it on the big screen, but on a 60″ or smaller screen.  That’s a shame, ’cause this thing was big.  Not Star Wars big, but big.

I first saw this in Chattanooga, and remember thinking that it had to be one of the funniest films I’d ever seen.  I literally fell out of my movie seat cracking up at the reveal of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.

And quotable.  Man, this has gotta be one of the top five quotable films for me — Airplane, Spaceballs, and Stripes also come to mind.

Today, Darla took me to see the 30th anniversary re-release of Ghostbusters on the big screen.  I hate to say it, but it was sparsely attended.  We settled in, and waited for the magic.

And the first thing I noticed was how incredibly grainy the print was.  I hadn’t thought about how much film has changed in the last three decades.  I think almost everything nowadays is created on digital media, and film has kinda fallen off the map for most studios.  This was shot on real film, and it really looked it.

The film was still funny, although the impact of hearing and seeing it the first time is a one-time gig.  What was funny was to hear some folks in the theatre for whom this was apparently their first time seeing it.  They were definitely getting that “first time” experience!

It was odd, though, to see some of the cultural changes.  One of the moving men at the university had a cassette-based Walkman on.  There was a portable video camera used by one of the Ghostbusters, with a camera separated from a tape deck the size of a briefcase.  Sigourney Weaver’s character had a trimline phone in her apartment.  (And to further hammer home how old that reference is, my Mac has “trimline” flagged as a typo.)

So now, I wonder if this anniversary re-release is the beginning of a new trend, allowing us nostalgic geysers a chance to recapture our youth, while demonstrating just how cool this old stuff is to the young’uns out there.  We’ve got a theatre here in town that regularly holds “retro” film nights.  While this isn’t new — I saw The Graduate on an anniversary release back in the early 80s — it seems like there’s a lot more of it going on.

Maybe we’re just too busy looking backwards.  Maybe some films from my youth really have become classics.  Regardless, I really enjoyed seeing this one, and can’t wait to see the next “old geezer” flick at the nickelodeon.

posted by Colin Wright in Entertainment and have Comments Off

A Return, and a Farewell

For the last year (and change), I’ve been pretty silent around here. It’s not for lack of having anything to say, but I’ve really just been numbed by so many things… life, the universe and everything, to steal a phrase from Douglas Adams.  My mother taught me that if you couldn’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.  Blame my Southern upbringing for roaring silence then, for there’s not been much nice to say.

Or so I’d think.  But there’s nice things to write about.  There’ve been Jeep things and Jeep events.  There’s been my music… refuge, voice, and savior.  (Note the lower case “s” — I know the real Savior, and I’m on the right side of Him.)  Of course, there’s my wife and family and nutty canines, and the new life my niece and soon-to-be-nephew will begin this weekend in Virginia.  And no matter how much war, rioting, looting, plague and just plain ol’ evil is out there, there’s always something nice to say about something.  And that’s something I need to remember on a daily basis.

I’ll try to do better.

And despite the nudge toward the positive, what strikes my muse tonight is a farewell.

I can’t imagine what kind of demons one has to endure or house rent-free to drive you to give up one of God’s greatest gifts — your own life — but Robin Williams obviously found them, and succumbed to them.  I never met the man, and don’t know much about his life, aside from what’s been reported over the last few decades.  He genuinely seemed to be a kind man, albeit with his own struggles.  What I have seen is his work, across more than half my lifetime.

I can remember first seeing him, like so many others, in Mork and Mindy in the 70s, and falling in love with his quick, lunatic style.  To a teenager, that was the right speed, the right topics, and just silly enough to stick.  Your brain would barely get finished chewing on one gag before the next one was hitting your ears.

Oddly enough, it’s not his comedic work that ranks as my favorite parts of his film legacy.

I never saw What Dreams May Come in the theater, but somehow decided to buy it on DVD years ago.  It’s not a film that a lot of folks seem to like, but for me, it really captured a torturous afterlife in which a man whose life is taken too early struggles to come to grips with his own death.  It’s brilliant visually, and includes Williams’ character finding not only his family, but his dog, in the hereafter.  You can’t go wrong with that, and you’ll be emptying the Kleenex box before the thing is done.

My other favorite Williams film is Bicentennial Man.  I’d read the Isaac Asimov story in my teens, and was thrilled to see it come to live, but I couldn’t figure out how in the world someone like Robin Williams could possibly do justice to such a serious tale of a robot finding his humanity.  But he did, and made it a wonderful film.  Williams is appropriately funny, and appropriately serious, and by the end of the film — spanning nearly 200 years of human time — you’re just flat sucked into the tale.  It’s wonderful, and one of my half dozen or so “go-to” films when I just wanna watch.

Another favorite — this time more comedic — was his singing of “Blame Canada” from South Park: Bigger, Longer, Uncut when the song was nominated for an Oscar back in 2000.  There’s nobody that could’ve danced the line between the humor and bawdiness of that song and film, and bring it all to life on live television.  I remember thinking there was absolutely no way that could be done live.  It was, and it was Robin Williams that did it.  Google the interwebs to watch it.  It’s worth it.

But now he’s gone, and far too early.  I think I’ll miss that ear-to-ear smile of his most of all.  It was a smile that just seemed to engulf you, was infectious, and never seemed to end.

Farewell Mork, Andrew, Teddy and so very many others.  There’ll never be another Robin Williams, and I think the planet was a little better for having had him riding along with the rest of us.

posted by Colin Wright in Entertainment and have Comment (1)