Archive for the ‘Obits’ Category

William J Simonsick, Jr   Leave a comment

I was forwarding a job advert to a bunch of people for a postdoc position here in the lab and Bill Simonsick’s email bounced back. I did a search for an updated email and eventually stumbled across this FaceSpace Memorial Page. Awww, shit.

 

Some people I meet think I must be immortal for having survived far more trauma far too frequently to generally be believed; but, I could give you endless stories about how I found Bill indestructible. That makes his passing that much more unnerving … if he can die, where does that leave the rest of us?  Instead, I just have this for you:

In 1997, my PhD adviser took the research group to present their work at the ASMS Conference in Palm Springs. He left the flight bookings to me and the senior PhD student at the time and we found flights into Las Vegas the day before and the day after, rooms at Circus Circus for each of those bookend days, and a rental van for the week for less than other travel options.

As a result of these travel choices, I was standing in front of my poster on no sleep for the previous 3 days with some Chinese graduate student who misunderstood everything on the publication and babbling incoherent questions. I was on my best behaviour and patiently trying to explain that he had his head up his ass without saying it explicitly.

 

 

Across the herd of suits and ties and slightly more casual business attire I spotted a guy in flip-flops, dripping Bermuda shorts, a ragged tank top covered in the most rudimentary fashion with a Hawaiian shirt, and a couple of gigantic glasses of rum and Cokes — not highballs, but short and very wide diameter, wading pools of liquor. He spotted me at about the same time and ambled over in an idiosyncratic walk I would become very familiar with over the next 10 years or so.

He stepped in front of my inquisitor and, over his shoulder, said, “you can fuck off now. We’ve got shit to talk about.” Then, to me, he handed the drink in his right hand and then shook mine; “I’m Bill. Your boss told me you had some cool shit to see.” I was now madly in love with this man.

He reached for his extra beverage and I pivoted on my hips to protect my newly found refreshments.  “The fuck you call this? No backsies, bitch.”  I had assumed this glass was meant for me, anyway, because the other one had a little umbrella in it and, since I was “working” I needed the more professional looking vat of booze.

His grin at this was enormous. “Tell me what you got, here,” he demanded, pointing at my work (such as it was).  I started to go through the practiced presentation and he stopped me. “No. TELL me about it.” The resulting conversation swerved recklessly across a wide range of things we could do with small tweaks to the techniques we could each bring to the table.  Along the way, others tried to speak to one or the other of us and — if they met his criteria — he would include them for a while. At one point, he sent a student — who was working security at the conference and had told us we couldn’t be drinking in there — to get us refills; these appeared without charge about five minutes later.

“We should do more of this,” he suggested. “I’ll meet you in the hot tub after the Hospitality Suites close.” Over the next several years, I got most of my good ideas smoking and drinking in ASMS Convention hot tubs with our Bill.

Rest in peace, buddy.

Posted June 22, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Obits, work

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Hull-idiz In’t Sun Part 4: Old Boozers   Leave a comment

[Note: all the Hull-idiz tourism posts are linked here.]

If you are shocked at how much time this blog spends on bars, you should leave now.  On my trip to Hull, I even sought out ones I knew to be closed.  The White Hart (above) was not on the list but sadly should have been.  It doesn’t seem to have been closed long since most of the fixtures are still in place:

 

 

Not far away, I found Sharkey’s (which is up for auction).  I thought it was a notorious crime hangout but on reading up on it found that it was only crimes against fashion and good taste that went on here.

 

 

The Earl de Grey, on the other hand, was a notorious seafarers’ pub in the red light district.  I took the photo for that aspect and for a murder I read about when I first booked the holiday trip.  Re-reading the notes, it was the murder of a talking macaw which was stabbed to death during a botched burglary.  Rest in peace, Cha Cha.

 

Posted May 17, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Obits, Tourism

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Bruce Langhorne, RIP   Leave a comment

Bruce Langhorne died of kidney failure a couple of days ago at the age of 78.  In these pages, I refer to music he was, in part, responsible for all the time (like here, and here).  Also, he looks like my cousin, Chuck.  Godspeed, sir.

Posted April 17, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in music, Obits

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Sportsman, Croxley Green, Hertfordshire   1 comment

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About a half mile from the Croxley Tube Station stands the Sportsman, an un-promising building from the outside but a wonderful pub within with a varied and enticing selection of real ales.  The house glasses are marked with full, ½, and 1/3 pint measures in the event you want to try everything on offer and still walk to the taxi at the end of the effort.

 

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I just went for a pint of the Rebellion Brewery’s Roasted Nuts which had the oily consistency and furniture polish back notes I hope for in a dark brown beer.  One kid came up and couldn’t decide between two of the eight on the pumps so the barkeep pulled him tasters of each (about a third of a pint in total) … good trick to remember for my next visit.

 

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There was steady traffic to the bar and everyone else seemed to know everyone else and, had I stayed for a second one they probably would remember my name as well (although they probably noted my oddities).  Somehow we got into the Topic: Recent Celebrity Deaths and I thought Lord Snowdon, whose title always makes me think of a quote from Catch-22, would win the prize; but, the old guys at the corner seemed fixated on Larry Steinbeck from the Bronski Beat.  This place is weird and wonderful.  As Yossarian queried:

Ou sont les Neigedens d’antan?

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Last year can fuck right off: 2016 by the numbers (mostly)   1 comment

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Numbers, or so, listed in bold and underlined.

Everyone has shit to talk about 2016, and so do I; but, I’ll minimise that, here.  I finally sprang for two new pair of running shoes to replace the pair, featured in the photos here, that I picked up in Chattanooga in September 2015 and subsequently added 2253 running miles on before retiring them last weekend (with walking, as these were my usual day-to-day shoes, these had much closer to 4000 miles on them).

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Over the Christmas break, we watched a shitload of TV and a bunch of really cheery movies (highly recommended of these are the drama Martha Marcy Mae Marlene and the documentary The Coming War With China.  To recover from those you might want to find Twenty Feet From Fame.  But, we also caught a bunch of shit tele and some old stuff.  In keeping with the theme of the year, we downloaded a collection of the Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson) and spent the entirety of each show playing the middle-age white person version of Jew-Not-A-Jew (aka the straight person’s version of Queer-Not-A-Queer) by pointing at each corpse we spotted on screen and saying, “DEAD.” “Bob Hope. DEAD.” “Joan Rivers! DEAD.” “Gary Shandling, DEAD.” (By the way, that’s Not A Jew, Jew, and a little of both).

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So, instead of the multitude of other celebrity deaths everyone is banging on about, here are the 17 I noticed but did not eulogise (and some of whom you may have missed):

17 January: Blowfly, 76
2 February: Bob Elliott, 92
16 February: Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 93
6 March: Merle Haggard, 79
3 June: Muhammad Ali, 74
17 June: Fred Tomlinson, 88
22 August: Toots Thielemans, 94
29 August: Gene Wilder, 83
8 September: The Lady Chablis, 59
16 September: Edward Albee, 88
30 September: Hanoi Hannah, 87
18 October: Phil Chess, 95
2 November: Dolores Klosowski, 93, American baseball player (Milwaukee Chicks)
7 November: Leonard Cohen, 82
25 November: Ron Glass, 71
22 December: Miruts Yifter, 72
25 December: George Michael, 53

In a similar vein, here are the other numbers of my year…

Obits actually in the blog: 16

Bowie
Alan Rickman
Nancy Reagan
Swindon’s Stagecoach Bus Depot in Old Town
Robert Ford, Madman Mayor of Toronto
Prince
Station Jim
Atlanta/Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field in apparent murder-suicide
Brownie’s dad
The jihadi sparrow
American democracy
The villages of Longford and Harmondsworth
America, the not so great pre-Trump version
Fidel Castro
Andrew Sachs
AA Gill

New Years Honours of Note: 1 (for the name): Mr Fabulous Flournoy, (MBE)

Mileage (running): 1589.8, quite the slack year — the least in two decades of keeping track

2016-cumulative-mileage

Pub write-ups 1 January thru 30 June: 38

Pub write-ups 1 July thru 31 December (we moved house 28 July): 216 (254 for the year)

Recipes, such as they are, published here: 5

Brunswick Stew and BBQ Sauce
Chicken Llewyn
Malted Milk Ball Hot Toddy
Chicken Breasts done as if for Pakoras
Pesto

Kebabs: 2

Fish: 22

International trips: Except for returning from Cork, technically a 2015 trip, 1 (Bremen)

Marathons: 1 (Wales Marathon)

Other races: 0, but a few planned for 2017

Weight (high): 169 lbs (12 stone 1 pound, Winter drinking weight)

Weight (low): 150 (10 stone 10 pounds, at the Marathon)

2016-weight

Enefeld London Porter: Advent Calendar 2016 Day 12   2 comments

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Name: London Porter
Brewery: Enefeld
Rating (1-5): 3 out of 5 nativity scenes

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Notes:  I first came to AA Gill via The Angry Island which I bought at a Thrift Store in Athens Georgia a few days before we drove off to a new job in Arizona — to read during Jackie’s shifts driving and in the hotels along the way.  I soon became convinced he was a spectacular asshole and one of the funniest writers and critics of Englishness and the English I have ever read.  The book turned me on to a number of landmarks around London that you simply shouldn’t miss (Royal Artillery Memorial at Hyde Park Corner for its horrific detail on each of the four sides or Charles Jagger’s statue of the soldier with a letter from home on the platform at Paddington Station for poignancy) and for years I was convinced he was actually an art critic; instead, Gill was a celebrated food writer and a raging alcoholic.

And, he was outrageously funny despite being wrong about so much and smugly, infuriatingly right about so much else.  I wanted to be English before reading him but even more so after reading the Angry Island: a lifetime spent observing the English, in one- or two-year stints — but fully embedded each time — had not turned me off my new countrymen and the recognition of them in his pages convinced me that this…musthappen.  Most Americans who call themselves {shudder} “Anglophiles” would be appalled by real English people and offended by every single [and perfectly acurate] thing he had to say about them.

I am sure I would have liked to meet Gill and that he would have been appalled by me, as well (most people are and fair play).

You don’t have to seek out this book, though.  Just go for the hyper-condensed version the Guardian published by way of contemporary commentary: it will tell you all you really need to know in less than 500 words. Everything, that is, except the title comes from the most quintessentially British of British characteristics: that repressed seething that comes from all the artificially imposed manners everywhere.  EVERYONE here is an asshole and every now and then one of them cracks and then is frightfully embarrassed by it all; except for hooliganism, closing time riots, knife crime, and on those blessed occasions when the Crown is at war and the utter cruelty this people is capable of shines through.

Ahhhh, Gill.  If I can find his grave, I shall definitely leave a single, sub-standard-pâté-smeared Tesco discount water cracker on the headstone.  And, weep a tear for a lost brother I never met.

By the way, the beer, today, was excellent.  The above rating, 3 out of 5 boozy Nativities, was only due to the overall experience (AA Gill is dead, but Trump walks the earth … where are those so-called “patriots” we hear so much about?  There is no God).

 

Wychwood Black Wych Porter: Advent Calendar 2016 Day 10   1 comment

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Name: Black Wych Porter
Brewery: Wychwood
Rating (1-5): 5 out of 5 debauched elves

 

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Notes:  A lot of conflicting details to work through on this post but first let me just state that Naomi Klein is wonderful and probably not a witch, this beer is wonderful and probably will be invited back to the house in the new year, and that John Glenn was always my second favourite astronaut (no small feat for a kid in the 60’s) behind Buzz Aldrin (no small feat for a kid that appreciated the trippier things in life).

But, capricious — if not entirely cruel — witch that 2016 has been hits us with another death, stealing Senator Glenn from us at the tender age of just 95.  A lot of quotes attributed to him turn out to be absolutely true and I read one interview with a former Senate colleague of his who responded (when asked if going to space made Glenn a little bonkers) that, no, not at all, he was always a little bonkers.  He was also humble, loyal, and moral in all the ways that most of us wish we could be.  And, a funny, funny fucker.

The Advent Calendar continues tomorrow (and maybe I’ll catch up on the pub crawl write-ups from yesterday, then, too).

 

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