Mobituaries – great lives worth reliving (a few thoughts)

Many who do not know of the podcast or the book by Mo Rocca and Jonathan Greenberg by the name “Mobituaries – great lives worth reliving,” are asking what does this mean? CBS News contributor Mo Rocca has long been fascinated by the stories of people who passed away, some famous, some less so. He provides interesting vignettes about lives worth noting.

The book is fascinating, one where you can pick up a read a few “mobituaries” about people you may or may not have heard of. Here are a few to whet your appetite:

Chang and Eng Bunker (1811 – 1874) were the first known Siamese twins. They were joined at the side and shared a few organs. They were brought to America and exploited by the circus folks. They eventually took over their own affairs and settled down in Mount Airy, North Carolina. This is where Andy Griffith was born and based his fictional “Mayberry” on. They married two sisters who would live in separate houses on the same property. The Eng brothers would live for three days in one house, then move to the other spouse’s house. Sadly, one of the Eng’s was an alcoholic and was dying. After he died, his attached twin brother not only had to mourn him, but know he would also die shortly. He lived for only a few more hours. Their families live on and, after first not knowing of or embracing their unusual heritage, they now come together for a large family reunion.

Audrey Hepburn (1929 – 1993) is the epitome of the woman we all want in our lives and more than a few men (and I am sure women) had crushes on this actress. She was lovely, charming and vulnerable. Per Rocca, she had a tough life growing up in the same area as Anne Frank. She saw uncles and friends carried off by the Nazis and remembers starving at Christmas time recalling a gift of ten potatoes as a godsend. The Frank people begged her to play Anne Frank in a movie, but she said no as it is too close to home. I think this is why she became an ambassador to UNICEF later on. She won an Oscar for playing Princess Ann in “Roman Holiday,” and apparently that movie made her an icon in Japan, which developed Kabuki theatres on her behalf. When she was asked to do commercials in Japan in the early 1980s, she felt no one would remember her – to the contrary, she was still a star. Rocca said the famous talk show host Johnny Carson and his sidekick Ed McMahon admitted to being more nervous about having Hepburn on as a guest than anyone else. That says a lot.

Sammy Davis, Jr. (1925 – 1990) may have been the world’s greatest entertainer. He could sing, dance, do comedy, act and play several musical instruments. He seemed to give his all to every performance and that may be because he lived to perform. When many folks came together to honor him with performances in 1989, he surprised them all by getting up on stage with them and being, well Sammy Davis, Jr. He lost one eye in a car accident when a poorly designed appendage from a steering wheel pierced his eye socket in a crash. He begged the doctors to make sure he could still use his legs, though, being less concerned about his eye. His career began at age three years old with his father and a friend having a traveling show. He married a white woman before it was legal across the country and converted to Judaism. He would use that in his comedy about being the ultimate outsider. If you have no idea who Sammy Davis is, please Google him and check him out.

Well, this is just a taste of “Mobituaries.” There are many stories therein. Some are offered in detailed fashion, while others may be in a sidebar about like individuals. Read those sidebars as well. Rocca is an interesting and funny reporter. He brings both to his storytelling.

What movies disappointed you?

Going to a movie these days requires a microloan. With the price of tickets, the obligatory overfilled popcorn and two huge drinks that you need two hands to hold, a movie date runs US$40 or more. Once you are settled in your seats, you are tempted by movie trailers of future movies, which you and your date will comment on regarding the relative merits of seeing each.

One of the disappointments in going to the movies is seeing one for which you had high expectations, but it falling flat. Some comedies will have their only funny scenes in the trailers. Once you see the movie, you realize that you had already seen its Sunday best and could have saved yourself $40. Or, you may select one based on the cast of stars, only to realize that familiar faces cannot perfume a pig. Or, it may be based on a favorite novel or TV show, and leave you lacking.

At the risk of offending those who liked these movies, a few that come to mind are as follows. If you agree or disagree, please do not hesitate to reiterate or challenge my opinion. Maybe, I need to give some a second look. But, note I prefer plot and dialogue in movies. Action movies are fine, but they need to have a story somewhere within.

August, Osage County – This movie had all the making of a great film, with Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts and Chris Cooper leading a very good cast. Yet, unless you like dysfunctional families that are not very endearing, screaming at each other for the duration of the movie, you might want to pass.

Breakfast at Tiffany’s – The original version starred Audrey Hepburn (who I adore) and George Peppard as two people who made a habit of leeching off other people. So, it was hard to pull for these less than endearing people. Yet, what made this movie voted the second most racist movie of all time is Mickey Rooney playing an over the top Asian-American man who lived in the upstairs apartment. For younger folks, Rooney is not Asian and his portrayal of this character was offensive. The movie highlight is the introduction of the song “Moon River.”

Austin Powers Films – I generally like Mike Myers, but I must confess my wife is not a huge fan. But, at the recommendation of Bob, a good friend, who said we must see this movie, we shelled out our $40. About halfway through the movie, my wife looks at me and says “I am going to kill Bob.” I know many liked this series of movies, but it was way too childish for my tastes. I may get some pushback on this one, but we stopped at one Austin Powers movie.

Tarzan, the Ape Man – I hesitated to put this on the list, as several guys went with me to see Bo Derek (of the movie “Ten”) tell the Tarzan story from Jane’s perspective. We should have known better, so technically it could have been left off this list. After a few minutes you realize that her beauty cannot overcome a very terrible movie. We should have also realized the movie “Ten” was good because of Dudley Moore’s bumbling comedy, not Derek’s ten-like looks.

A Bridge Too Far – This movie was not horrible, but it had one of the largest, most elite casts I have ever seen. It had the makings of a great, blockbuster film. It is a WWII movie about a failed mission, which should have been a clue to the producers. It just meandered through to an unexciting end. If it came up for free access, I may watch it to see if I missed something, but would not spend money to rent it.

The Razor’s Edge – One of the most poorly titled movie’s ever, starring Bill Murray. This movie left you nowhere near the edge of your seat as it plodded along. Even though it is based on the novel by W. Somerset Maugham, it left me wanting so much more. Since that was the theme of the book, maybe wanting more from the movie was a goal, which was successfully met.

Please offer up some of your disappointments. I recognize movie disappointments do not compare well to the problems in our world, but please look at this as a diversion.

 

 

 

 

 

 

My little girl with sunglasses is graduating

Little girls are made for sunglasses and hats. I think most parents have a picture of their girl wearing glasses, a hat and a grin with her head tilted slightly askew, to say without saying it, “Look at me!” We are no exception to this rule and have several of these shots. She has been a charmer from day one and this Dad is hopelessly smitten.

The little girl with sunglasses and hat is turning eighteen soon and will be graduating high school heading off to a college about two hours away. She has grown into a lovely young woman, both inside and out. She likes to wear her hair short and knows precisely who Audrey Hepburn is. She loves Jane Austen and Agatha Christie, but only the ones where Hercule Poirot is the detective. She likes his quirkiness more so than Miss Marple, so she has distinctive tastes.

She cares. She cares about the environment and the impact not treating it well has on us and our animals. She cares that some students do not offer teachers respect in the classroom, seeing much behavior as juvenile. She also cares when some teachers say things they should not say in gest. She cares about good theatre and has acted in a couple of plays – she regrets not more. She has always seemed to carry herself older than her peers. She cares about unfairness and sees me lament about leaders not being honest with their constituents. And, she cares about her brothers and gets along well with them and their friends, with her laughter being a joy to hear.

My wife bumped into someone who she found knew our daughter. Realizing who our child was, she raved about how kind and reflective our daughter is. Parents beam when we hear these remarks. Our daughter is interesting and asks interesting questions. She will ask without prompt, “Dad, how was your day?” She may have learned this from her mother, as her mom would rather you talk about yourself, more than she does. Yet, she seems sincere when she asks.

I will miss our car rides to school. Sometimes we solve the worlds’ problems and sometimes we sit in silence until a visual or audio prompt comes up from the car radio or drive. The best conversations are the small snippets you steal away in moments like that. But, just wishing her well in some manner as she exits the car, matters most. I am there for you. We have a few more of these left and then they will be gone. They will be replaced by moving her in to college, phone calls, texts and visits.

She will do wonderfully. I am excited for the next part of her journey. And, she just got a new pair of prescription sunglasses, so Audrey Hepburn beware.