Tag: RIP

Norm Macdonald: Dostoyevsky in Front of a Red Brick Wall


The smartest comedians portray themselves as the dumbest; Norm Macdonald was the best at this sleight of hand. He graduated high school at 14, read Russian literature in his downtime, and had long philosophical discussions with clergy. Norm also gambled, repeatedly trading all his earthly wealth for a queen of diamonds or a Habs’ hat trick. The sleight of hand was best left on stage but he learned from the experience. Macdonald was a student of human nature first, comedy second.

Norm died Tuesday at 61 following a secret decade-long battle with cancer. A terrible description, since he thought it cruel to say someone “lost their battle” with the dread disease. “If you die, the cancer dies at the same time,” he said in one of his stand-up specials. “That’s not a loss, it’s a draw.”

Macdonald’s finest moments were unexpected. His famed “roast” of friend Bob Saget that was nothing but corny one-liners from a 1930s jokebook. Talk show appearances with Conan O’Brien and David Letterman with made-up anecdotes and rambling seven-minute jokes.

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The first time I ever met the Abbot, I had been coming to the monastery for maybe four weeks.  It was my 17th birthday, the first time I went. The beginning of junior year of high school, just able to drive on my own with a JOL, and I had taken my Miata there on […]

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Kirk Douglas Dead at 103


Veteran actor Kirk Douglas died Wednesday at the age of 103. His famous son, Michael Douglas, said, “It is with tremendous sadness that my brothers I announce that Kirk Douglas left us today at the age of 103. To the world, he was a legend, an actor from the golden age of movies who lived well into his golden years, a humanitarian whose commitment to justice and the causes he believed in set a standard of us all to aspire to.”

In 1996 he suffered a stroke but recovered most his faculties, kept active, and made many public appearances. He devoted himself to acting after serving in the US Navy during WW2. He starred in “Champion” (1959) where he was nominated for Best Actor Oscar, “Spartacus” (1960), and co-starred with John Wayne in several films.

President Jimmy Carter gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Academy Awards gave him an honorary Oscar in 1995. Rest in peace.

Tom Wolfe, RIP


Tom Wolfe and Blue Yeti at the Uncommon Knowledge taping (video below).

The Peacock Inn in Princeton during the summer of 1979, when, having just graduated from college, I was interviewing for a job in New Jersey: Radical Chic & Mau Mau-ing the Flak Catchers. My room at No. 2 Brewer Street in Oxford in 1980, when, now a graduate student in England, I was feeling intensely homesick for my own country: The Right Stuff. The bookstore near the corner of Seventeenth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. in 1984, when, a White House speechwriter, I had read all the government memos I could stand for one day and slipped out of my office in the Old Executive Office Building in the middle of the afternoon: the first installment, in “Rolling Stone,” of Bonfire of the Vanities. Tom Wolfe’s prose wasn’t just prose. It was an event. I can recall where I was when I read each new work by Wolfe just as clearly as I can recall where I was when men landed on the moon or the Berlin Wall came down.

RIP Tom Petty (Updated)


According to TMZ, rock legend Tom Petty was found in his Malibu home Sunday night unconscious, not breathing, and in full cardiac arrest. EMTs rushed him to UCLA Santa Monica Hospital and was put on life support. After determining he had no brain activity, a decision was made to pull life support.

CBS News reported that Petty had died (information we linked to here), but this has not yet been confirmed. According to TMZ:

Sources tell us at 10:30 Monday morning a chaplain was called to Tom’s hospital room. We’re told the family has a do not resuscitate order on Tom. The singer is not expected to live throughout the day, but he’s still clinging to life. A report that the LAPD confirmed the singer’s death is inaccurate — the L.A. County Sheriff’s Dept. handled the emergency.

Eugene Cernan, RIP


We got sad news Monday that legendary astronaut Eugene Cernan has died. Cernan was the commander of Apollo 17, which flew in December 1972. And as the last member of the mission to reboard the lunar module Challenger, Cernan was the last human to walk on the Moon.

Apollo 17 wasn’t Cernan’s first trip to the moon either. He was also on board Apollo 10, which didn’t land, but descended within eight nautical miles of the surface. Before NASA, Cernan was a naval aviator, flying FJ-4 Furys and A-4 Skyhawks. He retired from the Navy in 1976 with the rank of Captain.

Before climbing aboard Challenger for the return trip, Cernan’s last words were “[A]s we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed, the crew of Apollo 17.”

Breaking: Fred Thompson, Dead at 73


Fred_Thompson_onstageSad news out of Tennessee:

Fred Thompson, a former U.S. senator for Tennessee, GOP presidential candidate, Watergate attorney and longtime “Law and Order” star, died on Sunday. He was 73. Mr. Thompson died after a recurrence of lymphoma, according to a statement issued by the Thompson family.

“It is with a heavy heart and a deep sense of grief that we share the passing of our brother, husband, father, and grandfather who died peacefully in Nashville surrounded by his family,” the statement reads.

A French Philosopher (Yes, a French Philosopher) Eviscerates Climate Alarmism


sky is fallingI recently finished a brilliant critique of radical environmentalism, The Fanaticism of the Apocalypse,  a book by the French philosopher and writer, Pascal Bruckner. 

Bruckner makes few scientific claims and even acknowledges that there may be some man-caused warming. But he finds the entire movement (he calls it “ecologism”) to be creepy, anti-human, overwrought, irrational, and the worst kind of secular religion.

Bruckner writes in an aphoristic, quotable style that has been rendered into compelling English by his translator, Steven Rendell.

RIP, Bob Hoskins: Top Bloke; Not a Bad Actor, Either—James Delingpole


Rest in peace to Bob Hoskins, who just died of pneumonia at 71. He’s probably best known for his role opposite that infuriating animated bunny in Who Framed Roger Rabbit? or for his appearance in the slightly overrated Mona Lisa. This is a shame because his finest hour, surely, was his performance in the ’80s London gangster classic The Long Good Friday.

The key bit is at the end, which I’m not going to spoil for those of you haven’t seen it. (And you must! And when you’re done, make it a double-whammy and watch the Michael Caine ’70s gangster classic Get Carter!, which for my money is the only film of that genre that touches it). Suffice to say that in less than five minutes Hoskins, without saying anything — it’s just a close up of his face as he sits in the back of a car — provides the best acting moment not only of his career, but of almost anyone’s acting career.