Shazbot

Je sais, je sais.  J’ai disparu.  Encore en fois.

There I was, thinking I was back on track to get back to my semi-regular postings on Life, the Universe, you know- Everything, really.  When a few things happened…

a) I got caught up in an Ideas (that CBC again) presentation about Nietzsche.  Yes, Nietzsche.  Suddenly I’m back in the bookstore (yes, I still go to bookstores- fewer and further between though they may be) in order to re-visit his views on this world of ours (between him and Spinoza, I’ve spent a fair bit of time with philosopher-types of late).

b) I woke up in the middle of the night (my 4 am awakenings have recurred- vengefully, it seems) with a fantastic idea (if I do say so myself) for a project regarding our perverse and self-destructive insistence upon living our lives according to apocalyptic thinking.  An idea that jibed exactly with the Nietzsche and some of the books about positive corporate culture that I’ve been reading as part of my day job.

c) While cruising the interworld (as I am sometimes wont to do) I became aware of a heinously misinformed group of women who think that #womenagainstfeminism is a real thing and a good thing- let alone an ideology that makes anything like rational sense.

This was enough of a distraction- based in something like despair- that I felt the need to track it to its putative source(s) and read- and listen to (sitting in for Jian, Stephen Quinn spoke with Roxanne Gay- author of Bad Feminist- on Q today, and The Current had a discussion about ‘the movement’ on August 4)- a whole bunch of stuff about the ‘arguments’ against feminism that are appearing as poster-boarded memes.  Memes that are dedicated to, and exemplars of, the sorts of things I discussed in my last couple of posts.  Credulity, and how not knowing history leads one down the slippery slope of having it repeat itself.  For example.

d) My company’s Chief Morale Officer paid us a visit, and brought back to my mind something he said at a recent team culture meeting.  It was about how having knowledge makes no difference if that knowledge isn’t shared.  Zero.  Zippo.  Nada.

It reminded me that I know stuff- and that I should be sharing the stuff I know.

And then.

e) Mork left us all behind to return to Ork.

So much has been said- so wonderfully and with such sincerity of loss (I won’t even address the ignorant, negative comments and despicable behaviours that are out there in the ether.  Such things need no further dissemination or acknowledgement)- that I’m not sure I can add anything about his courage and kindness and gifts.  And about how his celebrity and the genuine shock so many of us are feeling has opened (re-opened?) lines of dialogue about the insidious reality that is depression- and the stigma that remains attached to mental illness.

While he brought us so very many enduring characters, I will never forget first meeting, while sitting in my parents’ bedroom, that red-clad charmer from another world.  As he spoke with Richie Cunningham and then battled the Fonz (Fonzarelli thumb against Orkan finger), I felt like I’d found a new friend.

Mork, with his innocent view of our world and his weekly explanations to his superior back home as he tried to make sense of it all, was profoundly resonant- and personally identifiable.

On our yearly family holidays- which always involved extremely long car trips- as a way to entertain my wee sisters (and- as a side-effect- annoy the hell out of our parents- although that was an understanding I came to much later) I created a character of my own.

This character was an alien- with, for some reason, a British accent- named YumYum.  As we passed things of note- landmarks, cities, mountains, or listened to music (when it was our turn to control the tape deck), YumYum asked the sisters (named ‘Hi’ and ‘Bye’- my childhood imagination had significant gaps of inspiration, at times) to explain things as we drove along.  In hotels, at the end of each long day, they taught YumYum to swim, talked about things that were on the tv and read each other books as a way of demonstrating the world to their own, personal, visitor from outer space.

To say that YumYum was modeled on Mork is to state the veryvery obvious.  Both aliens taught as they, themselves, learned.

Robin’s subsequent roles built upon the innocence and wonder and joy with which his first great fictional incarnation viewed the world.  He became a teacher (Dead Poets Society, Good Will Hunting)- and his lessons spoke volumes to the teacher in me.

He played the archetypal little boy who never grew up- except that he somehow did grow up and forgot the lessons of his eternal childhood (until that scene when his Lost Boy straightens out the wrinkles and the extra facial padding and says, heartrendingly, ‘There you are, Peter’).

In that way that all things can seem to be connected…

Last week, during our team meeting, our manager played us that little ditty up there ^^^

She and another colleague are both learning to play the ukulele, and Izzy’s mash-up of Somewhere Over the Rainbow and What a Wonderful World was illustrative of this new undertaking- of branching outside of comfort zones and taking risks for the sake of trying something new.  Izzy’s story- his talent, his pride in his home State, his status as a hero of Hawaiian rights, ideals and culture- make his loss (too young) all the more poignant.

The discussion led me to comment that, on that very same day while walking to work, the Shuffle Daemon played me this tune:

Taken from Don’t Worry About Me, Joey’s only solo album- released posthumously, it demonstrated his enduring spirit in the face of his fight with lymphoma.  The world knew he was fighting- he battled his disease for seven years- but his death still came as a surprise. To me, anyway.

I can remember exactly where I was when I heard he was gone (in a seminar class- Coptic language- my thesis adviser asked what I was listening to as I took my seat and removed my earlier-incarnation of the Shuffle Daemon.  I happened to be listening to Rock ‘n’ Roll High School– and he told me that he’d just heard on the radio that Joey was gone…).  When I watch that movie (at least once a year) or listen to any of his music, I still find it hard to take on board that he isn’t with us anymore.

There’s another version of that song too.  The first version.  The one from 1967 performed by the great Louis Armstrong.  The one that was used in a movie called Good Morning, Vietnam.

My thoughts are all over the place, lately.  Clarity is tricky to come by, and focus is lacking.  Sorely.  I’m, admittedly, scattered and, truth be told, more than a little shattered.

So.  I’m setting aside all that development of big ideas and sharable knowledge and the kvetching about the things that need changing.

Tonight I’m just going to hold onto the conceit that our friend and teacher, Mork- and the man who brought him to life- has been recalled by Orson, once and for all.

To join Izzy, and Joey and Louis.

“Friends shaking hands, saying ‘how do you do?'”

Na-nu na-nu, Captain, my Captain.

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7 comments on “Shazbot

  1. It’s amazing–so many people have happy childhood memories wrapped up in their memories of Robin Williams…it is heartbreaking, and there is nothing more to be said. Except … thanks for this lovely post.

    • colemining says:

      Thank YOU, Booksy. So many people I know feel like they’ve lost a member of their family- he really made such a mark on so many generations of people. His goodness just emanated. Heartbreaking, indeed. xo

  2. ChgoJohn says:

    A thoughtful, well-written post, Cole.
    We’ve seen many of the Great ones, the Legends, the Icons go but, this one was, for me, unlike all others. It’s like getting a box of 64 crayons as a child and one day, discovering that there are only 63 colors in the box. Worse yet, your favorite is the one missing. Though there are still 63 beautiful colors to be found, your favorite is no more and there can be no replacement.
    “Captain, my Captain”. Indeed.

    • colemining says:

      Thank you, John. For reading and for sharing your lovely imagery. So true- he was unique in so many ways. And radiated the best of humanity. Watching the video of his meeting with Koko the gorilla and reading some of the tributes… he coloured lives wherever he went- and I’m not sure we’ll see his like again. One of a kind and irreplaceable- with a legacy of laughter that is worthy of remembrance and respect.

  3. bethbyrnes says:

    I was consumed with Robin Williams all week – posted on Tuesday and another one tomorrow. Also went to his Star on Hollywood Boulevard and took many pictures for Flickr and tomorrow’s post. I am beyond devastated. As for feminism, I have posted extensively on that so I just cannot squeeze out much more exasperation with women against women. Anyway…sigh.

    • colemining says:

      Beth- it’s hard not to think about it- especially with the news today that he was battling Parkinson’s- in addition to the demons of depression. I look forward to your second post- the first one was insightful and touching, as always.

      I know- I can’t even begin to articulate how distressed I am by the whole ‘not a feminist’ nonsense. It’s so wrong-headed… I can’t even…

      Thanks for the visit!

  4. […] Last week I wrote about the loooooong car trips we used to take as a family when we were kids.  As I mentioned, I pulled out all kinds of crazy stops to keep the sisters (and myself) entertained in those days loooooong before anyone thought to put a movie-watching machine in a moving vehicle.  To give themselves some peace and quiet from the ongoing silliness prompted by that alien from outer space, my parents let us take it in turns to control the tape deck (yes, we had a tape deck- at least it wasn’t an 8-track player). […]

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