Wednesday, November 30, 2022

A Serious Moment (or Back to Furbulia (Again))

I've talked about serious subjects in this blog before, but as I approach my 50th birthday, I feel that I've become keenly aware of the famous people that we have lost over the past year, and the affects that many of those people have had on my generation, and me personally.

I'm not sure that there are appreciably more or less deaths in any given year compared to another, with the sad exception of 2020, but some years do seem worse than others. 2022 has been one of those years, for me at least.

We started the year with the sudden and unexpected death of comedian and television father Bob Saget. The ABC Friday night comedy lineup, titled TGIF, was on our TV at home every Friday night, and Full House was one of the anchor series. Saget starred as recently-widowed father or three Danny Tanner. He created such a genuine role that many assumed the mild-mannered, family-friendly character mirrored Saget's comedy outside of the show. This was certainly not the case, as Bob brand of standup was much more adult-oriented, a taste of which we would get when he started hosting America's Funniest Home Videos. But, whether father or comedian, he seemed to be universally loved.

That same month we lost, among others, comedian Louie Anderson, "WKRP" actor Howard Hesseman, singer Meat Loaf, and the great actor Sidney Poitier.

As the year progressed, it seemed that the hits just kept a-comin', as they say.

In February, filmmaker extraordinaire Ivan Reitman passed away. For Gen-Xers, this one hit hard. Reitman was responsible for a significant part of the filmscape of the 80s and 90s, including classics such as Ghostbusters, Stripes, and Dave.

Sally Kellerman ("Hotlips" Houlihan in M*A*S*H) also passed away in February. In March we lost actor William Hurt, Sesame Street star Emilio Delgado, and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

As the year continued, we said goodbye to Seinfeld actress Estelle Harris, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, singer Naomi Judd, and actor Ray Liotta.

In July, actors James Caan and Paul Sorvino, and actor/director/producer Tony Dow all passed away. But, hardest of all for me that month was the death of Star Trek actress and trailblazer Nichelle Nichols, Lt. Uhura in the original series and movies. Nichelle was an inspiration to a generation of women and people of color, showing everyone that not only could a woman be as important to a genre series as a man, but that a woman of color belonged on the same level as anyone else.

Anne Heche and Olivia Newton-John both passed away in August. In September, the world was saddened at the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Moving into fall, we lost rapper Coolio, near-EGOT winner Angela Lansbury, Harry Potter-verse actor Robbie Coltrane, and singer Jerry Lee Lewis.

Recently, we lost stage comedian Gallagher, daytime soap actor John Aniston, singer/actress Irene Cara, and just today Fleetwood Mac keyboardist Chistine McVie.

But, the death that really got me thinking about my own mortality approaching my 50th natal anniversary was actor and martial artist Jason David Frank. For those that don't know the name, he came to fame as the Green, then White, Ranger in the first few series of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. While the Japanese import super sentai series wasn't directed at my age group (I was in college when it first premiered), many of my generation got a kick out of watching the series, and we became as much fans of the show as the kids it was made for. Frank quickly became the break-out star of the series, and continued on as the cast around him changed. He left the series and ended up coming back a few years later. While he was a talented actor, he was an even more talented martial artist, opening an academy and teaching his own form of martial arts.

The end of the story is almost clich├ęd. After seeming to have had it all, Frank took his own life in November at the age of 49. This death shook me most of all. I certainly didn't know him, and his life is about as far from mine as you can imagine. But we were around the same age, same generation, and we both suffer with depression. It really lead me to examine my own circumstances, and reaffirm that depression is a sickness that needs to be talked about, and needs to be destigmatized. Suffering from depression doesn't mean that you are broken, or less of a person. It is something that you can get help with, and you shouldn't feel embarrassed asking for that help, as hard as it is.

So, that's serious talk for the week. Obviously, I am of an age that will see more and more people that were influential in my life, both people that I know personally, and those that I only know as famous people, will be passing on. And I will continue to use those moment to reflect on what those people have meant to me, and what I can learn from their lives and their passing.

This week, our duo begin making their way back home (permanently?).

Strip 150/166 - In space, no one notices the plot device

Furble and FC pop out the bottom of the hole into the cold dark of space. Hopefully they manage to catch the completely random box of supplies that just happens to be floating by before they need to try and figure out how to navigate in space.

Strip 151/166 - That looks familiar...

We come upon the same spacial anomaly that transported Furble and FC to Furbulia the first time way back towards the beginning of the strip. Seems like we're on the right track (well, that at the sign).

Strip 152/166 - Alien geology is odd

You see, it's a play off the old trope of the person making the word "help" out of sticks and rocks when they're deserted on an island. Get it?

Strip 153/166 - Furbo: First Weird.

This one was indirectly inspired by one of my all-time favorite films, "Weird Al" Yankovic's comedy classic UFH, which included (among other parodies) a sendup of 80s action films with Al dressed up as Rambo. Just a fun visual gag.

That's all for this week. Next week, the beginning of the end (sad).

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