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Annotations Some Days in the Life - Daily
November 18, 1999

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November 2, 1999
I meant to write more about that list of "last week" today, but there's just too much to talk about as it is. If I can fit something in I will, but no promises.

We'll go from epiphany to milestone to rant, I think. That's a nice, balanced way of doing things.

The Epiphany. I was on Dorm Duty last night, burning my way through Job: A Comedy of Justice. I'd forgotten what a fast read that one is -- it's slightly large print and it's got lots of extra leading in the text (think of it as 1.5 spaced instead of single spaced). I was enjoying it -- it's one of Heinlein's best, and it's always a fun read.

I kept having to stop to jot down ideas in the ol' Palm, though. Ideas for stories. I had this one idea that kind of rocked -- it's perhaps the best SF story idea I've ever had. It was exciting -- I found myself framing the pacing of the novel, the characters forming in my head....

This doesn't happen to me much any more. It used to happen all the time. I thought I'd tapped out. Grown too old. So sorry.

But no. I'd just stopped reading on a regular basis. Start doing that again, and my brain gets boiling.

I can't believe it's taken me thirty-one years to have the "you have to read a lot to write a lot" epiphany. It would explain why In Nomine has been most of my creative (and professional, now) life since I got into it. I was at least reading that.

Amazing. Simply amazing. And I can't wait to write this down....

Milestone. I learned that Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine and Analog: Science Fiction and Fact (along with Alfred Hitchcock's Horror Magazine and Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine, all of which are published by Dell Magazines) now sold an electronic version of their works through Peanut Press. Peanut Press gives away a little reader application for either Palm Pilots or Windows CE, then sells electronic books and magazines. The resulting file is encrypted -- you have to provide bits of the credit card number you bought the book/magazine with to unlock the file once it's on your Palm Pilot.

But then it's there.

I thought -- what the heck? And I bought Asimov's and Analog. The interface is nice and clean... and I have the new issues of both those magazines, wherever I go. I click the button and start reading. I could do the same with novels or reference works....

The books on Peanut Press are way too expensive for not really having physical copies of them. But the magazines aren't. And they're good. And have no advertising. (Which, if you've ever read the ads in Asimov's, you know their lack will be heralded.) It's really convenient, and fast, and easy. And no delay on download. It looks like subscriptions will soon be available.

How is this a milestone? Simple -- this is the sort of thing you read about in SF magazines like the above. The datapad that receives your magazine subscriptions. A paperless transaction. Very convenient, too. I can go immediately to stories, add my own bookmarks in stories, annotate as I read....

It's here now. Twenty years from now, I'll bet the vast majority of "sold books" will be in this format. Cheaper for everyone and easier on the trees.

Though I wish they had a Newton version -- the 2100's size would be perfect. A lovely little messagepad. But I'll survive because this form makes it so convenient. I have those magazines right there, next to the public domain versions of the Mars books and The Wind in the Willows.

A milestone indeed, or so it seems to me. A personal one, at least.

Which brings me to the rant.

Mary Kay Bergman is dead. I learned this at the very end of South Park, last night, when they dedicated the show in her memory. Doing some research, I learned that she apparently committed suicide, and may have been suffering from a painful illness.

I saw some references to how hysterical last night's episode was in peoples' journals today. Which is true -- they finally got their edge back and went waaaaaaay over it. But no mention of Mary Kay Bergman.

For those of you saying "who's that...?" Mary Kay Bergman was the voice of every female character on South Park. From Wendy Testeberger to Mrs. Brofloski to Mrs. Cartman to the Nurse with the Fetus on her face. Every one of them.

She was, for all intents and purposes, most of the movie in South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut. She sang the entire of the Blame Canada song in four different voices. "What what whaaaaaaaat?" was her. Mrs. Cartman jovially explaining what a rim-job was was her. She also played the role credited only as "Female Body Part," which has to be the greatest mystical vision sequence of all time.

She, of course, didn't get as much attention or as high a billing as Minnie Driver, who was the voice of Brooke Shields for one stinking line.

Mary Kay Bergman was more than South Park, though. Unlike Trey Parker and Matt Stone, Mary Kay Bergman was a voice actress for years. She was the current voice of Daphne, in Scooby Doo on Zombie Island and Scooby Doo and the Witches' Ghost. She was the animated version of Batgirl. She was significantly involved with Beauty and the Beast, the animated Disney Hercules movie, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Mulan and The Iron Giant. She was a villain on The Tick. She was Mrs. Butterworth in the commercials where the bottle talked. She was the official voice of Snow White in Disneyland, Disney World and any Disney productions where it came up. She was six different voices in Star Wars: Episode One. She was the female vocalist in Weird Al Yankovic's Pretty Fly (For a Rabbi).

When I mentioned her passing to some fellow killer geeks, all of whom were respectful, one of them said "I think I've heard of her." He didn't mean it to be an insult. It was the level I was at before I noticed she was dead and went websurfing.

A star on one of the most popular TV shows currently out there commits suicide. She was also in both the South Park movie and The Phantom Menace for Christ's sake. And the people who most consumed the shows she did most of her work on vaguely knew of her name from somewhere.

She clearly did more voices and work on The Iron Giant than Jennifer Aniston, who voiced Hogarth's mother. But Mary Kay Bergman's name didn't appear above the title, even though Jennifer Aniston's voicing was the weakest in the movie. But Jennifer Aniston is a star, you see. For reasons that escape me at the moment, but give me time....

One of the sites I did research on had a picture of her. She was a strikingly attractive red haired woman. She was close to forty at death, and looked it, but she could have played Daphne at forty with no trouble at all, it seems. Her husband posted a message to her fans on her own website. And she did have fans who left condolences. And, as it was in an open guestbook, there were some morons too. I fear for the species sometimes.

This seems deeply wrong to me. Voice acting isn't simple. Animation isn't simple. We should have enough respect to mourn when someone who's brought a lot of joy into the lives of others dies tragically early.

Well, I mourned -- at least as much as I mourned any television and movie actress whose work I really liked. And I pass that on to you.

And if you like a cartoon, from The Powerpuff Girls to The Simpsons to South Park, get to know who the voice actors are. So, when one dies, you won't have to wonder why you feel badly.

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