Monday, July 30, 2007

Death Watch: Death really does come in threes!

Every so often a proverb, whether it be "the early bird gets the worm" or "death comes in threes" actually proves true. When this happens, it renews my hope that the collective wisdom of all those who have come before will be able to guide our human race through these turbulent days of prosperity and negativity. For that, I thank famous persons Ingmar Bergman, Tom Snyder and Bill Walsh for dying notably within about 12 hours of each other.

Ingmar Bergman: Considered a -- if not the -- giant of "serious" 20th century film. Although that's apparently not good enough for me, as not only have I never seen a Bergman film, but I can't name a single of his titles. Even after just reading them listed in his various obituaries. Because of their shared Swedish ancestry and my mild dyslexia, I thought, until about 20 minutes ago, Igmar Bergman was the father of Murphy Brown actress Candice Bergen. In my defense, Bergen was the daughter of a famous artist (as much as a ventriloquist can be a famous artist) and Bergman did have many children. The director was 89.

Tom Snyder: Like Bergman, a little before my time. Although I do remember him well from his brief network TV comeback in the 90s as the host of CBS's Late, Late Show. Snyder's on screen visage was that of a man who was really in love with his reflection and could see his reflection in any camera he was looking into. Snyder also had an unique interview style and -- due to supreme confidence, blissful ignorance or that always potent combination of both -- didn't seem to mind (or notice) when his guests would react with sarcastic disdain or outright aggression to questions which tended to trend towards being more invasive and philosophical (but simplistic) than the television norm. Although, sometimes, the tension got too intense for even Snyder to ignore, and there were some classic blow ups. Some of his more confrontational interviews with Charles Manson, Howard Cosell, Howard Stern and Johnny Rotten are available on Youtube and hold up quite well for the spell-binding Dada messes they became, and Snyder's unflappable ability to keep it all vaguely coherent. Tom Snyder was 71.

Bill Walsh: One of the true legends of American coaching, thrice Super Bowl champion Walsh made the San Fransisco 49ers pro football's premier franchise while revolutionizing the way football is played and understood at all levels. Walsh introduced the horizontal, incremental passing game as both an alternative and a complement to the down field passing attack that had dominated pro football since the mastery of the forward pass. Walsh's techniques became known as the "West Coast" offense -- a term he disliked. The efficiency of Walsh's 49er teams of the eighties was such that, to this day, anytime the football team I'm pulling for is in a tight spot I will begin yelling "screen pass" "screen pass" at my television. Walsh is also known for having an impressive "coaching tree" of former assistant coaches who later became head coaches, and for shooting a series of really funny Coors Light commercials towards the end of his life. Bill Walsh was 75.

No comments: