Monday, August 29, 2016

Gene Wilder z"l

My FB feed is filling up with tributes to Gene Wilder, whose death at the age of 83 has just been announced. Whether you loved him as the original Willy Wonka, or at the centre of a film by Mel Brooks; as the first and best Leo in "The Producers", or running amok with Richard Pryor, for so many of my generation this news is sad.

I am particularly fond of "The Frisco Kid", and am surprised how few people know of this film (also featuring Harrison Ford when I was most attracted to his charms, i.e., about a year before "The Empire Strikes Back" (see especially 2:10) ). Wilder plays a Polish rabbi travelling through the Wild Wild West. Here's my favourite scene:

My friend & classmate Geoff Dennis highlighted this clip about in what kind of God the rabbi character believes :-)

Here are some other links to the first responses to Wilder's death (and later obits also):

BBC online
The Forward
The Guardian
Huffington Post
The Independent
Daily Mirror
Mel Brooks mourning Gene Wilder with Jimmy Fallon on the Tonight show
The New York Times (if you don't have a subscription, I've pasted some bio info below)
People magazine
Tablet Magazine (by Abigail Pogrebin)
The Telegraph reaction
The Telegraph obituary
The Times obituary
more from The Times

Here's a most popular clip of Wilder with Peter Boyle in "Young Frankenstein", singing and dancing to Irving Berlin's "Putting on the Ritz".

Something about his early years from the NY Times:

"Gene Wilder was born Jerome Silberman in Milwaukee on June 11, 1933. His father, William, a manufacturer and salesman of novelty items, was an immigrant from Russia. His mother, the former Jeanne Baer, suffered from rheumatic heart disease and a temperament that sometimes led her to punish him angrily and then smother him with regretful kisses.

Young Jerry spent one semester at the Black-Foxe Military Institute in Hollywood. His mother saw it as a great opportunity; in reality, it was a catch basin for boys from broken families, where he was regularly beaten up for being Jewish.

Safely back home after that misadventure, he played minor roles in community theater production s and then followed his older sister, Corinne, into the theater program at the University of Iowa. After Iowa, he studied Shakespeare at the Bristol Old Vic Theater School in England, where he was the first freshman to win the school fencing championship.

He next enrolled part time at the HB Studio in New York, while also serving a two-year Army hitch as an aide in the psychiatric unit of the Valley Forge Army Hospital in Pennsylvania - an assignment he requested because, he said, "I imagined the things I would see there might relate more to acting than any of the other choices." He added, "I wasn't wrong."

After his discharge, he won a coveted spot at the Actors Studio, and it was then that he adopted the name Gene Wilder:  Gene for Eugene Gant, the protagonist of Thomas Wolfe's "Look Homeward, Angel," and Wilder for the playwright Thornton Wilder."

Wilder lived a long life, and has left a body of work that will continue to make us laugh and cry (but mostly laugh). I suspect that a lot of this initial mourning is for our own youth, and the memories that this death evokes. Sending condolences to his family and friends, and may his memory be for a blessing.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Best of the Bee Pics So Far


Am considering which bee pics to put into a small exhibit. Have been dithering about this for months.  No more! Here are Flora & Fauna (mostly) of Finchley.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Farewell For This Season


The last two home games of the season for QPR should have no influence on this season's achievements for either the home or the away team. I will not be able to attend (see Chris if you'd like my ticket), so today's game vs Charlton was my last. Gosh it wasn't a very good game. We seemed to lack impetus, and after they equalised we collapsed into the centre and left both flanks open again and again. Luckily for us, Charlton could not capitalise on their many opportunities, and the game ended with this dramatic winner by Abdelnasser El Khayati in the final minute of time added on. Hurrah! A la prossima!

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Another Rainbow

The other end of a Finchley rainbow this afternoon

I don't remember seeing two rainbows within a week ever before. I got caught in a massive shower that completely soaked me during the short walk from the bus stop to the front door, but when I looked out from my balcony from beneath a towel, I saw blue sky next to the clouds. Could it be? Yes it could! Once again, something good after a rotten day. Thank you!

Monday, April 04, 2016


Last vestige of the rainbow over North Finchley this afternoon
I know it seems away with the fairies, but rainbows really do make me happy. There is something about the vivid colours in the sky just after the dark of a rainstorm that is simply joyous.

There's a moment between the rain and the sun that, if you notice it, you know you must look for the rainbow. I had an inkling on the #460 bus, but couldn't see enough of the sky until I got out at my stop. Then I searched the horizon and eccolo! I was so happy that I looked around to find someone with whom to share the sight, and accosted some poor lady crossing the road. Luckily she smiled, and agreed on the beauty of the view before continuing her journey. It was only then that I thought to take the photo above.

Rainbow :-)

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Women's Football

Jess Clarke takes a penalty for Notts County after extra-time in the FA Cup quarter-final at Arsenal
What a pleasant afternoon I had today. Popped up to Borehamwood on the train. Paid £6 at the gate to get in (I was one of 709 people who attended the match). Excellent value - an FA Cup quarter-final with extra-time and penalties. Standing terraces at each end. I was able to wander round a bit to get the best view. Fiercely contested game with several goals (2-2 at full-time) and a sending-off, but no rolling around or crying for fouls (although there were a few words with the ref regarding some pretty stonewall penalty shouts). My camera really isn't designed for sport, but seeing what I can do with it helps me get to know it better. Am looking forward to the next time!

Sari van Veenendaal saves the first Notts penalty, helping Arsenal to a 4-3 win

Sunday, March 20, 2016

H - E - Double Hockey Sticks No I Won't Go

Just about a year ago, my beloved QPR played their last game in the Premier League before being relegated to their current division. Over the weekend I was searching for an old photograph, and came across this one from that afternoon. The crowd had "invaded" the pitch at the end of the game, aka running joyously across the holy sward and taking selfies for posterity. The police and security officers decided the best way to remove the unwanted hordes was to kettle them back into the stands. This was the last guy in the last corner by the Loft & South Africa Road.