Charles G. Hill, perspicacious observer, superior wit, and brony, passed away last September. Although his death was not unexpected, it was a bitter loss. However, we did have over twenty years’ worth of commentary at his website to peruse at our leisure. Or so I thought, until just now when I clicked on the link to Dustbury and saw the above.
Update: Greely found that at least part of Dustbury is available from the WayBack Machine.
… Ol’ Robbo can really get behind this “social distancing” thing. Hey, I was a misanthropic shut-in before it was cool to be a misanthropic shut-in!
“Social distancing” is one of the methods by which I’ve preserved my sanity through the years. With a well-stocked freezer, I won’t need to go anywhere for weeks, perhaps months. Coping with this week’s apocalyptic threat requires no changes in my behavior. At worst, I’ll miss a few meetings. That is not a problem.
Um, if all you’re buying is water, toilet paper, and rice, you’re preparing for a very peculiar apocalypse. What, you’re gonna sit on the porch in the dark boiling bottled water over a toilet-paper stove to cook your rice as the zombies roam the neighborhood looking for brains? Relax, you’ve just proven that you’re safe from them.
For years, one of my first stops every morning after cranking up the computer was Dustbury. There would always be something new and worth reading. The proprietor, Charles G. Hill, a self-described “generalist and occasional wiseguy,” was intelligent and insightful. He was witty and clever, too, very good with bad puns, and an unabashed brony. He was always a pleasure to read. One of the few things I looked forward to on Mondays was his weekly survey of search terms leading to his site, with a wisecrack for each item. His familiarity with obscure popular music rivaled that of the Professor, and he had a healthy appreciation of fine stemware.
It wasn’t all wisecracks at Dustbury, though. Hill struggled with depression all his life. During the past few years he faced worsening problems with health and mobility. His “Vents” were often painful to read, and other posts could be disturbing. Although our interaction was limited to occasionally leaving a comment at each other’s site, I worried about him.
Charles Hill passed away yesterday from injuries received in an accident.
If there is such a thing as a “national treasure” on the internet, it’s Charles G. Hill’s site. The text deserves to be printed on acid-free paper and available in libraries for ages to come. I hope someone capable steps up to preserve Dustbury, as Pixy Misa and J Greely did for Steven Den Beste’s sites.
When perusing Dustbury, be sure to check the tabs at the top of the page, as well as the main blog. There you will find much else of interest, such as his profile with Norm Geras:
What would you do with the UN?
I’m not quite sure, but I expect it involves dynamite….
Do you have any prejudices you’re willing to acknowledge?
I shun anyone who can speak the word ‘multicultural’ with a straight face.
Congratulations to the Brickmuppet, who now has a bachelor’s degree to go with his Ph.D. from the School of Hard Knocks.
Last Sunday marked the second year since Steven Den Beste’s last post. The internet has not been the same since he’s been gone. I miss checking Chizumatic first thing when I crank up the computer in the morning. He was by far the most indefatigable commenter here, and seeing his avatar when I review old posts is a bittersweet pleasure.
I’d occasionally read USS Clueless, but it was his commentary on Serial Experiments Lain (summarized here) that made it clear he was someone I could take seriously. He remains the most reliable guide to Japanese animation that I’ve found; if you’re interested in the period from Dirty Pair to Girls und Panzer, his reviews are a good place to start.
I visited the botanical garden yesterday, where I found both the red and white forms of Hibiscus coccineus, the “Texas Star” hibiscus (though it’s not actually native to the Lone Star state) in bloom.
I discovered Chizumatic 1.0 when I looked for commentary on Serial Experiments Lain. What Steven Den Beste wrote made more sense than anything else I’d read, so I made Chizumatic a regular stop on my internet rounds. When he praised Haibane Renmei, I watched it and was impressed, and duly mentioned him on my weblog. To my surprise, he linked back to me, complaining that I had misspelled his name. Thereafter we occasionally posted links to each other’s sites, and during the past ten years he left many, many comments at my various websites, far more than anyone else. He wrote his last comment here the day before his last post.
It may be presumptuous of me to think so, but I came to regard him as a friend, albeit one whom I was unlikely ever to meet. I was glad whenever I could do him a favor, such as download an unlicensed series he was interested in. Through him I found such eccentric characters as Ubu, the Brickmuppet, Wonderduck, J Greely, Aziz, Pete, and many others. Steven was notoriously prickly and seemingly unsociable, but I think he enjoyed being part of an online community, as demonstrated by his enthusiastic particpation in our comment boxes.
I knew Steven was in failing health and near the end of his life, but losing him hurts. Still, I’m grateful for ten years of engineer’s disease, perceptive discussions of anime, music, history, technology and whatever was on his mind, accounts of beaver engineering and waterfowl behavior, and everything else, all expressed in clear, logical, readable prose.
Those of us with blogs, we need to post cheesecake in [Steven Den Beste’s] memory. I think he’d like that.
Steven did indeed like pictures of pretty girls. However, I don’t share his taste for cheesecake. Instead, I grabbed several thousand of the pictures from the header at Chizumatic and assembled them into a slide show with music from Girls und Panzer. The pictures flash by at a rate of five per second; epileptics beware.
Good bye, Steven, and thank you.
It looks like the Brickmuppet will get a reprieve from Matthew. Down in Orlando, William Luse might not be as lucky. He links back to his posts from 2004, when Charley and friends paid visits to the Florida peninsula.
Update: The Brickmuppet’s luck ran out.
Derek Lowe recently added another post to his “Things I won’t work with” file, this one dealing with a feisty nitrogen compound (“Recall that this is the compound whose cocrystal with TNT is actually less dangerous than the pure starting material itself….”) and anhydrous hydrogen peroxide.
I am told that I barely talked at all until I was nearly four, though when I did start chattering, it was in complete sentences. I was perhaps fortunate that this was back in the dark ages, when autism was a rare and exotic affliction and few people had even heard of Asperger’s.
Roger, who is spending the current semester in Japan, recorded a theme from Someday’s Dreamers, playing both the piano and fiddle parts. Unfortunately, I don’t know how to embed Facebook videos on my site, but you can listen here.
Update: It’s on YouTube now.
Update II: Roger with some of his Japanese friends playing a different sort of music:
Josh has seen fit to present me with another award. This time it’s the “Dragon’s Loyalty Award.” Gee, thank you, Josh. It’s a great honor, etc., etc., etc. Someday I may forgive you.
These are the rules:
1. Display the award on your blog.
2. Announce your win with a post and
denouncethank the blogger who awarded you.
3. Present 15 deserving bloggers with the award.
4. Link your awardees in the post and let them know of their being awarded.
5. Write seven interesting things about yourself.
These “awards” are a bit too much like chain letters, and I’m not going to pick 15 more suckers. Anyone listed in my blogroll is worthy of an award. If this exercise looks like fun, feel free to participate.
1. I had piano lessons as a kid, but they didn’t take. When I was around 20, I got tired of being musically illiterate, so I bought an old upright and found a teacher. Later I took a couple of semesters of music theory at the university. I would have taken more, but the theory classes were scheduled for the convenience of freshman music majors, not non-major upperclassmen with jobs and complicated schedules.
2. When I was a kid, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I grew up. I still don’t.
3. I deliberately mis-matched my socks during my college years. Similarly, I often wore parti-colored hose when I was active in the SCA.
4. I prefer the fragrance of dianthus to that of roses.
5. I do know how to drive, but I generally don’t.
6. When I was 7, 8, 9, 10 years old, I wandered all over Brigham City, Utah, sometimes with friends, more often alone. Sometimes my friends and I rambled around the lower slopes of the mountain east of town, or we rode our bikes to campgrounds in the canyon to the southeast. I’d pack a lunch and spend entire days at the town park by myself. When I was 11, I explored much of San Francisco north of Golden Gate Park on my bike. I could ride to Baker Beach from home in five minutes, and I’d usually have the sands all to myself. Present-day opponents of free-range parenting would have been aghast.
7. I’ve had fun with depression throughout my life. I rarely mention it because, well, it’s depressing, and others have faced worse and written better about their experiences. I figure it cheated me of about ten years of my youth. Little blue pills have made life a bit easier for me and those who must deal with me. ((This is not a request for advice or inspirational messages. I most likely will never allude to the subject again.))
Update: Possibly of relevance:
Or perhaps not.
The results of the Liebster project are in, and there are some interesting data uncovered about these three very different people. The Brickmuppet played trombone; Robbo was nearly run down in a parking lot by Antonin Scalia; Topmaker likes Ian Hunter and Nathaniel Hawthorne. But all three did mention the same name somewhere in their responses.