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Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Carl Sagan, 1934-1996

I never read a Carl Sagan book, yet I feel blessed to have known him through his vociferous writing in PARADE magazine - you know, the Sunday newspaper supplement - for which he was a contributing editor, as well as the star of the PBS program Cosmos. This article notes: "Sagan is remembered by most people as one of the great popularizers of science. His newspaper articles, magazine pieces..., books, and television broadcasts reached millions, and made science accessible to mass audiences." Though undoubtedly one of the smartest people around, he made the information interesting with either confounding or talking down to his audience.

I did see the movie Contact, based one one of his books, which I mostly enjoyed. With all he had accomplished, I had forgotten how young he was when he died, 10 years ago today.
Frustrated "smart person" story, to which I can definitely relate: a librarian I know was picked for some trivia contest, touted as the "brain" and was then knocked out in the first round by a question about a TV event that took place five years before he or she was born: What cigarette brand did the Flintstones smoke in a series of commercials? Thing is, I somehow knew this, possibly because I saw it in the early 1960s and/or because it was my father's cigarette brand. But more likely because I read about it here.
The ad below is different from the one I linked to above.

Which, of course, is the segue to noting the passing of Joe Barbera. Mark Evanier has been doing a series of pieces about him, starting on December 17. Evanier and I share our first favorite cartoon character, Huckleberry Hound. Barbera and his late partner, William Hanna, put out a lot of shows I watched over a seven-year period: Secret Squirrel, Tom and Jerry, Jonny Quest, Peter Potamus, Yogi Bear, Magilla Gorilla, The Jetsons, Wally Gator, the aforementioned Flintstones and Huck, and another favorite, Top Cat, the theme of which is STILL running through my head. Quick Draw McGraw appeared on one or more of those shows - KABONG! What a wasted youth. Thanks, Joe.
My grade school friend Carol turns 54 today; our friend Bill did three days ago. This makes them older than I am for the next two and a half months. So there.

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