Friday, December 29, 2017

R.I.P. 2017: We'll Miss You

Last year in an attempt to reach a goal of more posts than the previous year, I made a long list of celebrities who passed away during the year.  It was planned to be a 1 or 2 post deal, but there was an abundant amount of deaths it seemed and I ended up with 4 posts.  In doing those I left out quite a few names and even the 100 plus I did choose I never really got to comment much on how or why it impacted me.  I could have done the same this year, but I thought I would go a different direction this year.  First off, I didn't worry about doing this for a post count, so it freed me up.  Second there was a lot of people that died that I could probably spend the next month discussing them, but I figured I would do the 5 that really hurt me or made me stop in my tracks.  So while there are many who could be discussed here, including probably an entire post about Tom Petty, the five I chose are ones that I just feel like talking about because some way or another, they made an impact on me.

Miguel Ferrer (January 19)
On January 19th, I found out that Miguel Ferrer passed away.  Most recently I enjoyed his work on the series NCIS: Los Angeles.  However I've been a fan for a long time.  I remember first seeing him in the classic 1987 film Robocop.  He was a very good actor and a few years later he played a good villain in the film Blank Check (1994, I was 12, it was a good film at the time).  In fact when I watched movies back then and even today, I note how good actors are and even note how good they are as bad guys.  I believe I once noted that he was one of the best "bad guy" actors.  A few years later he would become a good guy when he starred in the TV show Crossing Jordan.  After it went off the air I hadn't heard much from him until he appeared on NCIS.  Before I knew that he had cancer, I noticed how he was starting to look sick and I was fearing when the time came that he passed away and how NCIS would incorporate it into the series.  They did him justice, but felt they could have done more.  What I liked about him was that he never changed his acting style.  He was very low toned and laid back and it made him stand out.  As movies and TV shows have progressed, it seems like a lot of actors try to fill in excess dialogue, but Miguel never did.  He was exact and on point and didn't need an extra amount of words to say or show his feelings.  I think younger people may not understand how much of a loss this is.  He will be missed so much.

Yordano Ventura (January 22)
At the time this happened, this one stung deep.  Don't get me wrong, it still does, but I didn't feel anyone else who would pass away in 2017 would hurt me as much as this one did at the time.  I only knew of Yordano Ventura for a few short years, but in that time he became one of my favorites.  I don't think he ever found his niche but I just felt he brought a youth and exuberance to the Kansas City Royals that was much needed.  A lot of people thought he was hot headed, but I saw it as competitiveness and eagerness.  I think a lot of time he spent trying to be like others and could have spent more time being himself, but I think in the next year or two he would have realized that and fit in just right.  The day I found out about his death, my sister actually broke the news as it was the day we celebrated Christmas (we celebrate around my mom's birthday), and I spent the morning away from TV and Internet, so I was in disbelief.  A week later and I was still in shock.  His passion for his teammates and his breakout performance in the 2014 and 2015 World Series are things I'll miss about him.  I also admit I am a bit greedy in just thinking about how much better the Royals could have been this year with him, and how much easier their transition to a rebuild would be with him as well.  Or maybe they would have traded him for some crucial pieces for the future.  Either way I would have been a fan of his whatever team he continued to play for.  I wrote a post earlier this year about my thoughts around the time it happened which goes into better details about my feelings at the time.

Chris Cornell (May 18)
This one, Chris Cornell, just gutted me.  I mean besides family and friends who have passed away, I can't think of a time I felt so lost after someone died.  After it happened I really spent about a week without saying much or even doing much.  TV didn't mean anything, Internet didn't matter.  Just sitting and thinking about him in a quiet room is what I remember doing for a few days.  I can't take quiet.  I need some type of noise, either a TV just playing something random, or radio on a station that plays music I can tolerate.  For a few days, silence was golden.  When I finally snapped out of it, I started listening to music, and naturally it was Chris Cornell music.  It was Temple of the Dog, Soundgarden, Audioslave, and his solo stuff too.  In a way, as was said in Office Space, "I celebrate his entire catalog".  Even as I write this I still can't believe that he's gone.  I did a blog on it as well, and I only really did it so it would occupy my mind and move on, and also to educate those who may not knew of his work.  I played his music to my mom and I think she enjoyed it.  I think she understood why I felt so much pain about his death.  A few weeks later Chester Bennington died as well, I believe on Cornell's birthday, but while I enjoyed his work as well, it didn't have as much impact as Chris' death did.  Later on in the year, Tom Petty died, and again I didn't feel the hurt like I did about Cornell.  Much like Petty, Cornell was a voice of a generation.  The thing about all three, were none were "former musicians", all were still touring and making music.  The way Cornell and Bennington died though made it so much worse.  It showed that you could have it all and still be unhappy.  It was a wake up call.  It made people question if someone they know seriously considers suicide an option, and allowed them a chance to talk to them.  Cornell's came much more out of left field making those who even knew him best wonder how it could have happened.  Part of me is upset with myself for being greedy in being sad that I won't hear anymore new music from Cornell.  While all three will be missed, Chris Cornell will still be in my head for a long time to come.

Bobby Heenan (September 17)
Bobby "The Brain" Heenan had been sick for quite a while.  In fact in the last few years he didn't even look like himself, but he never lost his way with words.  If you never watched wrestling you missed out on The Brain.  He played the ultimate heel (bad guy). You can't call it a smugness, but he was so confident in himself and his abilities that it just clicked.  He had a way with words and even when you knew he hated his job (the later years in WCW) he still did his job as a professional and made his character the life of the party.  By the 90s he was a full time announcer (in the later part that is, in the first couple years he did manage Ric Flair for a while), and that is what I remember him best as.  For everyone that says wrestling is scripted, Heenan made you forget and often wonder if he actually read the script.  One of my favorite moments was when he spoiled Hulk Hogan's heel turn in 1996.  As Hogan made his way to the ring, and Dusty Rhodes and Tony Schiavone were excited team WCW was getting help to finish the nWo, Heenan blurted out (since he was a heel announcer after all), "YEAH BUT WHOSE SIDE IS HE ON?"  A simple phrase that stopped Dusty in his tracks.... "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?"  A few moments later, Hogan turned heel and told the fans to stick it.  That's what made Bobby Heenan.  He played the heel to perfection.  In another instance Heenan, who had a bad neck, thought a fan was grabbing him from behind while he was announcing.  While on live cable TV, he blurted out an F bomb, and got up and walked up the aisle as the match continued.  This wasn't a gimmick, he felt threatened.  It turned out, it wasn't a fan, but it was Brian Pillman who was in the match at the time against Eddy Guerrero.  Pillman was doing a loose cannon gimmick and it caught Heenan off guard.  It wasn't planned and Heenan got about halfway up the ramp, stopped and regained his composure and walked back to ringside and put his headset back on and apologized.  It was about the only time he wasn't doing a persona, but being himself.

One other thing I loved about him, is that he never called himself a commentator or an announcer.  He called himself a "broadcast journalist".  A term I used for many years likely all because Heenan introduced me to the term.  It made him seem more sophisticated and like he should be taken more seriously, which in the end made him that much better as a heel.

Robert Guillaume (October 24)

Many years ago, likely around 2002 or 2003 I was watching the movie Lean On Me for the umpteenth time.  As I watched it, I was watching the passion and fury of a scene featuring Robert Guillaume and said out loud, "It will be a sad day when he passes away".  That isn't something I just randomly say about people, in fact I've maybe only said it for a couple people.  Well, on October 24th, it was a sad day.  I had seen Robert's work for many years before 2002, and each time I was impressed with his range. In a similar vein as Miguel Ferrer, he never changed his acting style as shows and movies progressed.  It was something I liked about both men.  Even on a dialogue heavy show like Sports Night, he didn't need long paragraphs to convey his character.  He was a man who had seen it all and lived through it all, and simple responses was all that was needed to show who he was.  Having said that, two favorite scenes of him from the series was when he scolded Danny (Josh Charles) about comparing himself to Rosa Parks, and the other was a scene doing commentary about the "Six Southern Gentlemen Of Tennessee".  His quick wit in his characters defined him throughout his career.  Even before Sports Night, I enjoyed him in Lean On Me.  I remember seeing episodes of Benson, though I can't remember much of the series.  I was too young for Soap, but from clips I've seen I wasn't impressed with the show, but his scenes were good.  Overall though it could be easy for people my age to never seen any of these shows or movies.  However, one movie he did that many my age did see may stand out from others even with his limited screen time.  He did the voice of Rafiki in The Lion King.  It's my favorite Disney movie, and it was sad to watch a couple weeks ago, the first time since his death.  He was a brilliant actor and played almost every role to perfection.

So these 5 people are the celebrities I will miss the most from 2017.  I know its not a contest, but these guys meant more to me than the world may ever know.  Since this is a card blogging site, I thought I'd see if I could find cards for each of these individuals,  I know 2 have cards, sure another one does, a 4th does (but doesn't show his face), and I'm not sure on the 5th.  Let's look at Trading Card Database.

So I obviously knew Ventura and Heenan had cards.  I knew that there were Rafiki cards but still never found one of Robert with his face showing.  I remembered that Soundgarden had a card in the 1991 Music set, but its been a while since I've seen it.  As for the Ferrer, I was totally unaware he had a card.  I thought maybe a Robocop trading card, but they didn't make one for the first movie, so that was a dead end.  Then I looked for Blank Check, because hey, 1994, they made cards for everything.  Everything except that movie it appears.  So then I looked at his filmography, and on a pure guess looked up Twin Peaks.  A show I never watched, but 1991, again, what didn't they make cards for then.  Sure enough he appears in the set.  As for all these cards, I have none of them.  I do have plenty of Ventura's as I'm team building Royals sets so I have quite a few.  I also have a few Bobby Heenan cards, but not many of the newer ones.  Most of mine are from around 1990 and I think one from the 1998 WCW set.

So with that I'll wrap it up.  Every year at this time we look back at those who passed away in the past year and it brings tears to eyes.  The year isn't over yet and there might be one or two more to make that list sadly.  Hopefully next year won't seem so painful.  Thanks for reading everyone and I hope you all have a great New Year.  My next year should bring more posts, and that to me will be a great way to make it through the next year.


  1. I didn't know Robert Guillaume voiced Rafiki.

    R.I.P. to this group of celebrities.

  2. RIP. Sad to see them go.

  3. This post makes me happy I took the time to scan the used Twin Peaks set that I found before giving it to a friend. :)

    Nice post.