Queen of the Dead – dateline July 9, 2012
• Andy Griffith (who died at 86, on July 3), I thought, was kind of sexy, in a carved-out-of-roast-beef way. Mayberry scared the heck out of me, though: I know it was supposed to be all bucolic and heartwarming, but it had a Twilight Zone vibe to me: if my type of East Coast eccentric showed up, I would never be seen again, and “Aint Bee” would be serving meat pies to Andy and Opie for the next month. But I loved Andy in his earlier No Time for Sergeants and especially A Face in the Crowd mode—if you have never seen that last movie, rent it now. He plays every kind of political populist glad-hander from Huey Long and Glen Beck on the right to Jon Stewart and Will Rogers on the left. One of those movies that never goes out of date.
• The last of the Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni has died: Lonesome George, a giant Galápagos tortoise, was found dead in his pen at the Charles Darwin Research Station in Puerto Ayora, on June 24. He was about 100 years old and might have lived another 50 years if he had given up smoking (kidding—just kidding!). The really, really unattractive George had lived at the Station since 1972, and purportedly got to recognize his keepers: “He was like a member of the family to me,” said Fausto Llerena, though he did not specify which member of his family George was like. “He came toward me and he stopped and stretched his neck out, opened his mouth like a greeting, welcoming me.” But George may have not been so much lonely as gay, or just disinterested: a bevy of alluring lady tortoises, in high heels and lipstick, was paraded before him, but George preferred to sit and read the new Vanity Fair or watch Mob Wives on TV.
• Three dead haiku poets:
Kyōtarō Imai, Goshū Nakatani, Tadashi Asano
Names too long to work.
• Emi Itô, 71, one of the two singing Peanut Sisters seen in the Japanese monster flicks Mothra, Mothra vs. Godzilla and Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, died on June 15. Emi and her identical (except for Emi’s beauty mark) twin, Yûmi, became pop stars in Japan hosting the variety show Shabondama Holiday, or Soap Bubble Holiday, and went on to appear in such 1960s films as Yume de Aimashô, Watashi to Watashi, Wakai Nakamatachi (Double Trouble), Kureji no Daiboken (Crazy Adventure), Kureji Ogon Sakusen and Kureji Mekishiko dai Sakusen (Mexican Free-for-All). But Americans know them best as the teeny-tiny fairy wards of Mothra in the 1961 film of that name. The sisters retired from performing in the mid-1970s.