Entries from May 2005 ↓

Time to Go?

I’m getting tired of blogging. Or rather, I no longer have the time needed to blog up to the frequency and standards that I want. Or maybe I’ve just run out of things to say. In any event, I’m thinking about shutting this site down.

A fellow blogger contemplating a similar move has suggested taking a vacation. I don’t take vacations in my offline life, why would I take one here? No, I think it’s either continue or stop, and I’m leaning towards stopping.

I used to have very strong opinions that I could articulate with clarity and (to my mind, anyway) occasional flashes of shear brilliance. Go back and read some of my old stuff. It’s quite good if I do say so myself.

But opinions require thinking time. You have to fully understand an issue, let it percolate inside your brain, then formualate some well-thought-out response, with point-by-point arguments backed up with sufficient research to make the essay credible. Right now I’ve got a job that requires a lot of my time, school, two outside career options I’m developing, and a messy apartment. I skim lots of news sources instead of taking time to read them, and lately I’ve avoided anything having to do with the current presidential administration. I knew when I put Dave Chappelle’s disappearance in my News section, I had stooped to a new low.

I don’t have an exciting, sexy (or sex-filled) personal life to write about for this main blog section. I still get out to enjoy the arts–I saw the play Doubt last week; it’s brilliant–but I can’t always generate a decent review for the Arts section. In Sports, if it ain’t football, college basketball or baseball, I’m really not interested, so for most of the year there is little to write about. And frankly, I’ve never really figured out what to make of that Datebook section. It’s just a catchall for everything else.

I may have said all I was meant to say. I’ll mull it over awhile before deciding.

Silent Voices

If you grew up watching tv and especially after-school and Saturday morning cartoons as I did, then you no doubt heard the voices of three skilled actors who, while not household names, possibly worked harder than most people in show business.

Henry Corden, the second voice of Fred Flintstone, Howard Morris, the voice of Atom Ant who also appeared as Ernest T. Bass on the Andy Griffith Show, and Thurl Ravenscroft, who lent his talents to cereal commercial cartoon Tony the Tiger and the Dr. Seuss Christmas special The Grinch Who Stole Christmas all passed away recently. Baby boomers like myself have only fond memories.

Henry Corden.jpegCorden, the voice of the cartoon caveman Fred Flintstone, with his “Yabba dabba doo!,” for more than two decades, died of emphysema May 19 in Los Angeles at age 85. He took over as Bedrocks most lovable loudmouth when the original voice, Alan Reed, died in 1977. Reed had the role since The Flintstones first aired in 1960.

Born in Montreal, Corden moved to New York as a child and arrived in Hollywood in the 1940′s. His first acting role was in the 1947 film “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” Known for playing villains, he found small parts in movies like “The Black Castle” (1952) and “The Ten Commandments” (1956).

Corden moved into voice acting in the 1960′s, taking on bit parts in Hanna-Barbera shows like “Jonny Quest,” “Josie and the Pussycats” and “The New Tom & Jerry Show.”

Since “The Flintstones” echoed “The Honeymooners,” Mr. Corden tweaked his delivery to approximate that of Jackie Gleason’s character, Ralph Kramden.

Corden was working until about three months ago. He can most recently be heard on cereal commercials yelling “Barney, my Pebbles!”

Howard Morris did everything from cartoon voices to television comedy to musicals and Shakespeare. He died May 21 at age 85.

Howard Morris.jpeg
Viewers of TV’s Golden Age remember his work with Sid Caesar on “Your Show of Shows,” and as hick Ernest T. Bass on “The Andy Griffith Show.”

On stage, in the 1960 City Center revival of Finian’s Rainbow he played the randy leprechaun named Og; his performance is preserved on a cast album of the revival.

Morris appeared in a Broadway production of Hamlet and in the original run of the musical Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.

In addition to his work as an actor, which includes a long resume of cartoon voicing for Hanna-Barbera and other studios, Morris directed commercials, TV shows (the pilot of “Get Smart”) and the feature films “With Six You Get Eggroll,” “Who’s Minding the Mint?” and “Don’t Drink the Water.”

According to the L.A. Times, his memorable voice work included playing the voice of the Qantas Airlines koala, Gerald McBoing-Boing in Columbia cartoons, Atom Ant in “The Atom Ant Show,” Beetle Bailey and General Halftrack in “Beetle Bailey and His Friends,” and Jughead Jones and Big Moose Mason in “The Archie Show.”

The actor’s on-screen acting resume includes the comedies “Boys’ Night Out,” “The Nutty Professor” and Mel Brooks’ films “High Anxiety,” “Life Stinks” and “History of the World: Part I.”

Thurl Ravenscroft was the booming voice of Tony the Tiger, whose catchphrase, “They’re g-r-r-r-e-a-t!” was used to sell cereal, died May 22 at age 91.

The voice that could remind generations of their Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes also made baby boomers nostalgic for other pop culture landmarks of their childhoods.

Thurl Ravenscroft.jpegMany remember his evil rendition of “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch” in the television special “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!” which has aired annually since 1966.

For more than half a century, he has been linked with Disney.

At Disneyland, Ravenscroft’s voice can still be heard “yo-ho-ho-ing” in Pirates of the Caribbean, and his likeness can be seen singing he’s the bust broken off the base in the Haunted Mansion.

He was a singing mouse in the Disney film “Cinderella” (1950) and a crooning dog in 1955′s “Lady & the Tramp.” He sang and voiced roles in about two dozen Disney movies starting in 1941.

Before he gave voice to Fritz, the German parrot in Disneyland’s Tiki Room, Ravenscroft gave enthusiastic life to Tony the Tiger in 1952.

His Mellomen quartet was already singing jingles for other Kellogg cereals when he created the stretched-out growl, enhanced with reverberation, that pronounced Frosted Flakes great.

“I often say that I’ve made a career out of one word,” Ravenscroft said with a chuckle in a Times interview in 1983.

Ravenscroft’s last Tony the Tiger commercial was taped last fall.

Thurl Arthur Ravenscroft was born Feb. 6, 1914, in Norfolk, Neb., and moved to Los Angeles in 1933 to attend the Otis College of Art and Design and pursue a career in advertising.

After an actor told him he had “a flair for show business,” he auditioned at Paramount, became a studio singer and dropped out of school.

In 1937, he formed a singing group called the Sportsmen Quartet, performing backup vocals for such stars as Jack Benny, Bing Crosby and Rudy Vallee on the radio. They also could be heard on Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies cartoons for Warner Bros.

During World War II, he became a navigator for the Air Transport Command, flying 150 Atlantic crossings. In 1947, he returned to Hollywood and formed another quartet, called the Mellomen, which performed with Frank Sinatra, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Elvis Presley.

They were featured on the Edgar Bergen-Charlie McCarthy radio show and did work for Walt Disney Studios. A religious man, Ravenscroft recorded the Book of Psalms for the blind, and in 1981 he began narrating annual presentations of “The Glory of Christmas” at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove.

Those who worked with him often called him “unpretentious.” When people asked how he made a living, he would say, “Well, today I sang like a mouse, I was a horse out in the barn, I was the voice of a coyote.”

My Foolish Heart

The Keys to Your Heart

You are attracted to those who are unbridled, untrammeled, and free.
In love, you feel the most alive when your lover is creative and never lets you feel bored.
You’d like to your lover to think you are loyal and faithful… that you’ll never change.
You would be forced to break up with someone who was ruthless, cold-blooded, and sarcastic.
Your ideal relationship is lasting. You want a relationship that looks to the future… one you can grow with.
Your risk of cheating is low. Even if you’re tempted, you’d try hard not to do it.
You think of marriage as something that will confine you. You are afraid of marriage.
In this moment, you think of love as something you thirst for. You’ll do anything for love, but you won’t fall for it easily.
What Are The Keys To Your Heart?

I don’t agree with the line about marriage, but otherwise it’s on the mark.

Borrowed from him.

The Official Response

Two months ago, when people online and off were mobilizing in response to the brutal, senseless and still as yet unsolved murder of 19 year old Rashawn Brazell, I posted some things that I felt we could all do to raise public awareness and put pressure on law enforcement and political officials to take the case seriously. I suggested then we write to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and I included a copy of the letter I wrote to both.

In a matter of just a few weeks, Kelly’s office responded with a form they wanted me to fill out if I wanted public information on an on-going criminal matter. It required me to know the case number and state my reasons for wanting this information. I didn’t reply.

I didn’t hear from the Mayor’s office until today.

In my snail mail was the following letter dated May 9, from John Feinblatt, Mayor Bloomberg’s Criminal Justice Coordinator:

Mayor Bloomberg has asked me to respond to your email, in which you express your hope that the murder of Rashawn Brazell is receiving the police attention it deserves. Please excused [sic] this delayed response; given the volume of mail the Mayor receives on a daily basis, it is sometimes difficult to reply promptly.

Please understand that the Mayor does not have the authority to intervene in or comment on criminal investigations or prosecutions as these matters are within the sole discretion of the District Attorney, who is an elected official. An attorney in my office, Elisabeth Youngclaus, took the liberty of speaking to Detective Andrew St. John, the detective assigned to the case. Detective St. John informed Ms. Youngclaus that he knows of no witnesses at this time, but that he and other detectives in his office are doing everything they can to find evidence leading to the person responsible for this terrible and tragic death.

Thank you for writing to the Mayor.

I appreciate that someone from the Mayor’s office actually took the time to respond to my email. This is still the largest city in America and his office does have many such requests and demands. But they were not being entirely accurate with their information.

This Mayor, and most certainly his predecessor Rudy Giuliani, have often commented on active criminal cases and no doubt will again in the future. I wasn’t asking him to order the police or the DA to solve the case. No one can do that. I was asking him to make it clear that the lives of Black gay New Yorkers are every bit as important as anyone else’s when we are the victims of violent crime. I wanted his assurance that we will receive the same protection and service from law enforcement officials. That is within his authority and it is my right to expect that as a taxpayer.

An organized community and at least one media outlet, continues to watch what happens with this investigation. I will also keep an eye on what this Mayor–and those who want to be Mayor in this election year–says and does.

I’m Dave Chappelle, bitch

Comedian Dave Chappelle wants to set things straight: “I’m not crazy, I’m not smoking crack,” he tells Time magazine in an interview more than a week after his hit Comedy Central show was suspended and the rumors started to fly.

“I’m definitely stressed out,” said Chappelle, who took off last month to South Africa for a “spiritual retreat,” leaving his fans — and even his agent and publicist — wondering where he went.

Dave Chappelle03.jpg“You hear so many voices jockeying for position in your mind that you want to make sure that you hear your own voice,” he said. “So I figured, let me just cut myself off from everybody, take a minute and pull a Flintstone — stop a speeding car by using my bare feet as the brakes.”

After Comedy Central announced that the planned May 31 debut of the third season of “Chappelle’s Show” had been postponed, the magazine Entertainment Weekly reported that Chappelle had checked himself into a mental health facility in South Africa.

“I’m not in a mental facility,” said Chappelle, who also said he did not have a drug problem but had consulted a psychiatrist for one 40-minute visit.

The 31-year-old comedian said he fled to stay with friends in Durban because he wasn’t happy with the direction of the show, which is behind only “South Park” as Comedy Central’s most-watched program.

“There’s a lot of resistance to my opinions, so I decided, ‘Let me remove myself from this situation,’” Chappelle said.

Comedy Central president Doug Herzog told Time that the star has “complete creative freedom.” He has told staff he believes there won’t be a “Chappelle’s Show” in 2005, but leaves the option open for the comedian’s return.

Chappelle, whose wife and two children live in Ohio, said he hopes to start up the show again, but did not indicate when he would return.

Comedy Central had inked a reported $50 million deal to keep “Chappelle’s Show” for two more seasons, and the comedian hinted to Time about struggles associated with the power and fame that come with that kind of success.

“If you don’t have the right people around you, and you’re moving at a million miles an hour, you can lose yourself,” he said. “Everyone around me says, ‘You’re a genius, you’re great, that’s your voice,’ but I’m not sure that they’re right.”

Copyright 2005, The Associated Press