Lost a good author, good friend this weekend

The inexorable rise of AI?

The real work happens behind the scenes

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MattScho

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Dec 3, 2020
Berlin, Germany
Michel Marriott, author of a really fun sci-fi work, The Skull Cage Key died this weekend. I'm not writing this because I liked his book, which i did, or because I was a beta-reader, advisor as he was writing it. He was a brilliant person and a kind, wonderful guy, so I'm writing this because I miss him.
So, back in the late '90s, early '00s, Michel was a pretty well known science/tech writer for The NYTimes. He got the idea for the above book, but wasn't sure about the science/tech underlying it, so spent five years shaping his NYT pieces around what he wanted to understand for his book, travelling the world to do so. In the end, a lot of very cool journalism, and a really fun work of fiction were the result.
So, quick story: we were flying back from Bangkok to Frankfurt in 02. We were in the cheap seats, but in a three seat row he had the aisle, I the window. Michel and i were built almost identically, really broad shouldered( and we'd just spent a year in gym together, so much moreso than today), so the poor soul with the middle seat comes, and we're trying to make ourselves as small as possible, but it wasn't happening, there were maybe 10 cm left between our shoulders. And Michel stands up to let them in, when the host comes to us, looks at the situation, and finds them a different seat (iirc, bumped them up to business).
If anyone is interested: Amazon product ASIN B001OTYQW4his bio is fun.
 
Sorry for your loss, Matt. Sounds an awesome friend to have had. xxx
Thanks so much, and he was.
I spent yesterday going back through our texts and what's apps and emails, and, for this situation, unexpected death, it was really nice to see that neither of us put a foot wrong. we were positive and helpful, there for each other during divorce and finding new relationships. The regret, of course, was the "let's get together when..." that was never set in stone or acted upon. But we make decisions and we live with them. Sigh.
Of course, this is a perfect segue for why I'm an ass for bailing on Litfest. but I chose to ignore that. Learning from history? Pah! Who needs that? What's the point?
 
The regret, of course, was the "let's get together when..." that was never set in stone or acted upon.
Strange, I wrote nearly those same words barely 5 mins ago to a friend who’s just lost their job on a national newspaper, along with a bunch of others. And I had a similar twinge while writing it.
 
Strange, I wrote nearly those same words barely 5 mins ago to a friend who’s just lost their job on a national newspaper, along with a bunch of others. And I had a similar twinge while writing it.
First, what the hell is a "newspaper?" Sounds like a scam.
Second, please pass along my sympathies and best wishes.
I've been there, and it seems rather dark, but it doesn't remain so for very long. And, as much as your friend will not be seeing this right now, it has both fuck and all to do with their quality as a journalist, and everything to do with the times in which we live.
 
That's so sad Matt.

Just lost a great golf buddy (Dave) a few weeks back. One minute he was with us the next gone - literally. We'd been on so many golf trips and holidays together.

Golf and life had been getting me down recently and I took the winter off. But back in February I was coaxed back and played in a four-ball. Dave was one of the group. I was getting progressively more miserable as the round went on and the 11th hole he sidled up to me and said: "Don't worry about carrying on. No good beating yourself up over this bloody stupid game. Go home now and take a few weeks off to recharge. We'll all be here when you're ready to come back."

Then, and totally out of character as he wasn't a tactile kind of person, he gave me a man hug.

That was the last time I saw him. I played today for the first time since that happened. The 11th hole was tough.
 
That's so sad Matt.

Just lost a great golf buddy (Dave) a few weeks back. One minute he was with us the next gone - literally. We'd been on so many golf trips and holidays together.

Golf and life had been getting me down recently and I took the winter off. But back in February I was coaxed back and played in a four-ball. Dave was one of the group. I was getting progressively more miserable as the round went on and the 11th hole he sidled up to me and said: "Don't worry about carrying on. No good beating yourself up over this bloody stupid game. Go home now and take a few weeks off to recharge. We'll all be here when you're ready to come back."

Then, and totally out of character as he wasn't a tactile kind of person, he gave me a man hug.

That was the last time I saw him. I played today for the first time since that happened. The 11th hole was tough.
That is so incredibly relatable. I've been losing a fairly good chunk of my friends the last several years, and I feel for you, Jonny. I'm sorry for your loss
 
And for yours too, Matt. Sadly an inevitable symptom of the passing years.

Throws those old adages we used to hear our folks say into sharp focus. All the memories then the sobering realisestion we won’t see friends again.
 
I was 40 the first time this really hit home, Jonny. A really close friend, whose family my ex had attacked as being "too European" (to the nutcase far right, this is a legit insult, however, they were very recent Polish immigrants) died in the middle of a world tour (he was in AI, not rock n roll). I flew into North Carolina for the funeral once the body was returned, and it changed my life. I stopped waiting for stuff to happen, and started making it happen. the lesson then is life is short, work it while you got it.
The lesson these days is life is short, and each day is precious, make sure to remember that.
 
The worst funeral I went to was for a fourteen-year-old girl I taught. She died of an asthma attack at a beach party. The church was packed with all her school-mates and they wailed inconsolably.
Best funeral i ever attended was for Jack Conroy, author of The Disinherited, which was one of the best selling western books in the Soviet Union. He'd insisted nothing sad, but readings, bawdy jokes, good music and so, so much booze. The drunkest I ever got on assignment.
 
Best one for me was for a musician and old band mate of mine.

Humanist service conducted by our frontman who is the best organiser I know. We've all called him Boss since he was in his early 20s.

Lots of music including some tracks we did on an album back in '79. Many funny stories and then an impromptu gig and piss-up at the wake. It was an amazing day and in a bizarre way gave everyone a real lift.

Go figure.
 
As he was so often in life, my hubby was late for his own funeral. We scraped in with 5 mins to go. There were only 8 of us, and we found out, halfway there, that all our guests had gone to the wrong crematorium. The undertakers manned the doors once we were in to stop us getting disturbed.
We played 5 of his favourite songs, and used the top of his coffin as a bar from which to serve red wine.
My hubby would have heartily approved.
 
At my Auntie Alice's funeral (she was a great one for telling corny jokes and enjoyed a good bit of spoonerism), people kept coming up with another of her jokes or one of her spooners (is that the noun?) followed by everyone at the reception hitting a hand across the knee with her signature "That's a knee slapper." It was impossible to keep a straight face, and that's just how Auntie Alice would have liked it.
 
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The inexorable rise of AI?

The real work happens behind the scenes

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