Not living long enough to see fame…

On the Final Taxi, I talk about people who touched our lives through their talents. Today I want to talk about someone who may have had those talents and could have touched our lives but did not live long enough for us to find out.

While reading the obituaries this morning, a habit of mine, I ran across this one that brought a tear to my eye. Maybe it is because she died of  leukemia.  Leukemia is something that has robbed my family in that seven years ago my 10 year old niece died of it. She would have graduated high school with my son this year. I loved Samantha  and I miss her.

This is the obit of Carmilla Stull. She will only be known on IMDB as a voice actress in a episode of Family Guy. She should have been known for more. Please support any project to stop leukemia, this killer of so many.

I look forward to hearing Camilla’s voice.


Camilla Gamelle Stull was born in Arcata, CA, on October 26, 1994. She
left us April 16, 2007, in her home, after a 3 year battle with
Camilla was an absolute gift, bringing incredible joy and inspiration
to her family and those who called her their friend. Throughout her
battle with cancer, we were amazed with her spirit and
determination…both to beat the leukemia and to continue to live her
dreams. On December 17, she was given 2 weeks to live. Camilla had
other ideas. She took a trip to LA, meeting some of her idols, went to
movies with friends, watched her brother’s sporting events, visited
with friends, had a New Year’s Eve party…she was determined to live.
A 7th grader at McKinleyville Middle School, she was highly
intelligent, concerned with her grades, even in the midst of her pain
and suffering.
Camilla was such a full, extraordinary person: spirited and
independent, intense and energetic, so creative and determined. She
was her own person, true to herself, unapologetically strident if
necessary! Camilla loved music, and was a beautiful and talented
pianist, and singer, and she loved to dance. She was a gifted writer
of short stories, poetry, and song lyrics. While at St. Jude
Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN, she also began to paint.
Camilla had a wonderful sense of humor and spontaneous joy, a great
thirst for adventure and was really fun to be around, for friends and
adults alike. She was a most loyal and compassionate friend and
sister. She loved to play board games, and she was a huge Harry Potter
fan and expert, impossible to stump on Harry trivia. She was bitterly
disappointed that she couldn’t live until the last book came out. She
loved collecting things, particularly beanie babies, rocks and stones,
jewelry, glass animals and angel figurines. Camilla loved wildlife and
her beloved cat, Embers.
For someone her age Camilla had a highly developed sense of social
justice and love for nature. Her favorite things in the world were
going to her grandparent’s beach house in North Carolina every summer
with her family, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, and
traveling to Virginia for the holidays with her huge family and
Columbian “cousins”. She loved eating at her grandparents and uncle’s
restaurant in Leesburg, VA. Camilla adored her big extended family,
and spending time with them were some of her most cherished times.
Camilla also enjoyed sports, playing soccer on her Class III team, and
watching her brother John play basketball, baseball, and soccer. She
kept up with all the McKinleyville Little League teams, knowing the
positions of all her friends and the standings of the teams. Hanging
out at the little league field, watching John and her buddies play,
brought her a lot of happiness.
One of her dreams was to be an actress. In a Newsweek article, Camilla
was interviewed for a section on the Target Corporation’s donation of
“Target House I and II” to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. In
that article, she stated she wanted to grow up to be an actress “just
like Drew Barrymore.” Her dream was partially achieved when she became
friends with Drew and through her, was introduced to Seth Macfarlane,
the creator of The Family Guy. Seth gave her a contract and she
recorded the role of “Baby Girl” on an episode scheduled to air April
A frequent observation about Camilla, by peers and adults, was that
she possessed wisdom and insight well beyond her age, that she was an
“old soul”. This trait helped her endure the painful physical and
emotional challenges, and often terrible isolation in her battle with
cancer, with courage, grace, and patience that were remarkable. She
simply never gave up. The most common comment from her doctors and
health professionals about her medical condition and her extraordinary
will was “we’ve never seen anything like this before.”
Camilla leaves behind her parents, Richard Stull and Rema Sadak; her
brother, John; her maternal grandfather, Farris Sadak; her paternal
grandmother, Nancy Middleton; and dearest friend, confidant and
mentor, Judy Johnston.

Pet’s Remains: Caskets, Cemeteries & Cremation

The moon is full, the air is still, All of the sudden I feel a chain,
Victor is grinning, flesh rotting away, Skeletons dance, I curse this day,
And the night when the wolves cry out, Listen close and you can hear me shout.

I don’t want to be buried in a pet sematary I don’t want to live my life again….

——- The Ramones

When our cat, JiJi, died we felt like we lost a member of the family. She had been my daughter’s best friend while she was sick and having several surgeries.

We wanted to do something special for her since she gave so much for us.

I grew up on a farm so when animals died we had a place over in the “north 40” that we disposed of the bodies. Most pets went there and you just dug a hole and plopped the corpse in. For the household animals we would put them in a burlap feed bag or a shoebox and had graves beside the woods.

I’ve known only a few people who have used a pet cemetery. It is a graveyard for animals of emotional significance which are ceremonially buried. This has been in use for years.

Most families bury deceased pets on their own properties, mainly in a yard, with a shoe box or any other type of container served as a coffin. The Ancient Egyptians are known to have mummified and buried cats, which they considered deities. The Romans had very similar ways of dealing with pet loss. Expansive parcels of land would be set aside for large stone monuments dedicated to the owner’s pet. Alexander the Great being one of the most famous pet lovers of his time dealt with the loss of his pets in this way. The Cimetière des Chiens in Asnières-sur-Seine in Paris, is an elaborate, sculpted pet cemetery believed to be the first zoological necropolis in the world.

Today, a growing number of funeral homes and cemeteries are offering burial and cremation services for animals to help bereaved pet owners cope with their loss. There’s a growing trend of those who want to celebrate their departed animals with the many services now offered. Pet crematories have already opened throughout the country as well a movement to have pets buried with their owner in the same plot.

One of the biggest trends is for there to now be an expense and elaborate casket for the beloved animal.

Dow’s Wood Products in Maine started making custom-built pet caskets and urns that are sold through animal shelters, pet stores and veterinary clinics. They first began making the caskets a couple of years ago after talking to funeral directors, who told the owner that they could fill a void. A family had hired him to make a casket after the family cat died. They didn’t want to just throw the cat in a hole and wanted something nice to put it in. A year later, the family ordered another casket for their family dog. Dow now has a brochure in which he lists four pet casket sizes ranging in price from $95 to $395. The boxes are made of pine and are lined in satin, and customers can buy engraved brass plaques for an additional fee.

In Tennessee, Hoyt and Wanda Northcutt started Angel Sleeping Pet Caskets in early 2000 shortly after Hoyt’s sister’s beloved cat, Snoopy died. She was devastated by the loss and couldn’t bear the thought of just burying him in the ground unprotected. They asked a relative, who was also a professional carpenter, to build a pet casket from material found around their home. They painted the casket white and the trim gold. The casket was lined inside with white satin from the local WalMart store. This ended up becoming the very first Angel Sleeping Pet Casket. Now, thanks to the internet, there are thousands of their pet caskets being used as final resting places for beloved pets and have been shipped to every one of the contiguous 48 states. In fact one of their pet caskets was purchased by 20th Century Fox Studios in Hollywood for use in an episode of the popular TV show “House“.

As for our beloved cat, JiJi, my daughter was the one who made the decision of where her best friend should be placed. Pet cemeteries were out since she had to travel to visit and a wooden casket was too “cramped and scary” for the kitty. In the end it was a cardboard box with a picture of her and JiJi beside the body, a few flowers and a grave in the far end of the backyard beside an old oak tree.


( My question to you is how did you dispose of your most beloved pet ?)

My podcast:



A Sesame Street and Electric Company Writer

When I was younger we only had 3 channels. The CBS channel was fuzzy so we had ABC, NBC and PBS.

As a kid, the closest I got to see cartoons on a weekday was watching the educational show that were on the PBS channel. So I watched Sesame Street because it was funny. Much of it was well below me but still it was animated. The Big Bird and Mr. Hooper bickering back and forth was fun. This was also before we thought anything about Burt and Ernie’s relationship. I bought Erine’s Rubber Duckie single when it came out on 45.

But the one show that really floored me was one called The Electric Company.

I will still sing songs from that show. “Yeah we would all be in a mess, if we didn’t have “S” to put at the end of a word..” or “I like fish food; you do, too, Don’t look now, your hair is blue” or even “ Your rich Uncle died and left you all his M—–“ Comedy was the way to educate on the show as you had Jennifer of the Jungle, the Six dollar and thirty-nine cent man, or the adventure of Letterman. They even had Spider-man and the Blue Beetle on the show ( Not the DC comic hero) .

The original cast included Morgan Freeman, Rita Moreno (it was Moreno who screamed “Hey, you guyyyyys!!” to open the show) Bill Cosby, Judy Graubart, Lee Chamberlin, and Skip Hinnant. Most of the cast had done stage, repertory, and improv work, with Cosby and Moreno already well-known from film and television at that time.
Can you believe Morgan Freeman as a character called Easy Reader?

The reason I am remembering that show is because the writer for “The Electric Company and “Sesame Street “ has taken his Final Taxi .

Jim Thurman was an Emmy-award winning children’s television writer. He was one of a team of writers for Children’s Television Workshop during the early years.

Besides “Sesame Street,” & “The Electric Company,” Thurman wrote for “321 Contact.” He also wrote sketches for Jim Henson’s “The Muppet Show,” and performed voices such as “Sesame Street’s” Teeny Little Super Guy.

Thurman helped kids have fun with math as co-creator of “Square One TV.” As senior producer and head writer, he helped create the Mathnet segments, a parody of “Dragnet” featuring calculator-toting detectives.

Joan Ganz Cooney, founder and former president of Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) said, “Jim was a stalwart spirit within the Workshop. He was important not only for what he produced but for the positive spirit he had as he did it. He was an utter joy to work with, and was truly funny.”

Jim Thurman began his career in advertising in Los Angeles where he and writing partner, the late Gene Moss, formed a boutique ad agency, Creative Advertising Stuff. His comedy writing ability soon led him to television comedy, where he wrote for Bob Hope, Dean Martin, Carol Burnett, Bill Cosby and Bob Newhart.

With Moss he also wrote and provided voices for “Shrimpenstein,” a satirical children’s television program that aired in Los Angeles during the late 1960s. The two also wrote all 156 episodes and provided voices for the syndicated cartoon, “Roger Ramjet.”

If you have never seen a episode of Roger Ramjet go to YouTube and find one. If you are a fan of the comedy of the carton show Rocky and Bullwinkle and the like this is a must watch!

I found a VHS of it years back and loved it. I bought the DVD when it came out. It’s fantastic. I think Cartoon Network aired it at on point.

If you don’t think Jim Thurman touch people lives, your wrong. One thing he wrote that is still being used today in comedy bits is the “Soft Shoe Silhouettes.”

Two cast members of the Electric Company would appeared in silhouette, one giving the prefix of the word, the other the suffix, to form a new word (e.g., “th-” and “-ing” to form “thing”). Done twice through, sometimes with the viewer trying to read the word the second time through. The song usually ended with the two saying a soft “yeah!”

On MadTV they depicted Big Bird catching and spreading avian flu (Bird Flu) on the street. The silhouetted characters sounded out the words “flu,” “fever,” and “fatal.”

And in a recent Family Guy, Peter was one of the silhouetted characters reading the words. He quickly became frustrated at his inability to keep up with the other character, and attacked him.

Losing Kitty and Ho

Listen to this weeks Podcast of the Final Taxi on Kitty Carlisle and Don Ho.

Direct Download: Final Taxi

Or listen at

Or on MySpace:

Kitty Carlisle Hart, the supremely elegant actress, singer, arts advocate and TV personality is remembered for her role as the romantic musical heroine of the 1935 Marx Brothers film “A Night at the Opera” and she sang in the 1948 U.S. premiere of Benjamin Britten’s opera “The Rape of Lucretia.” Her long run as a panelist on the game show “To Tell the Truth” made her a regular presence in the country’s living rooms from the 1950s through the 1970s.

Don Ho was an iconic Hawaiian entertainer whose signature song, Tiny Bubbles, made him a major tourist attraction on the island and his name has always been synonymous with hula dancing and luaus.

They both recently took their Final Taxi.

Cheerios.. Just add Milk

    I recently had to see my doctor for a checkup. After the exam he told me that my cholesterol levels were a little high and that I need to get more oat products in my diet. My oatmeal and raisin cookies didn’t count.

    He suggested that I eat oatmeal for breakfast or an oat cereal. No that is not true he told me to eat Cheerios. The brand name was mentioned. I know he meant the type of cereal but it was funny that was what he said.

    How many products do we call the brand name when we are talking about a certain product?

    I know that here in the South we will say we are going to buy a “Coke” when we mean any soda. But there are not many products that you call by the brand name.

    That brand of cold cereal started out with a different name. It was first called “CheeriOats” by it’s prolific General Mills inventor Lester Borchardt in May of 1941.

    Lester Borchardt took his Final Taxi recently at the age of 99.

    The inventor spent 36 years at General Mills before retiring in 1969 as vice president and director of research. In his time at the company, he worked on projects ranging from food processing to high-altitude spy balloons to high-tech optics used by the Allies in World War II. Over a dozen patents carry his name.

    Borchardt’s famous cereal’s first mascot, Cheeri O’Leary, was introduced in 1942, though the mascot was short-lived and she was rarely seen after 1945. Successful marketing and association with The Lone Ranger led General Mills to sell approximately 1.8 million cases of the cereal in its first year alone, and in 1945, the name of the cereal was changed to Cheerios .

    New mascots named “The Cheerios Kid and Sue” were introduced in 1953 along with the package change, though again product association and in-box promotions generally kept the mascots of Cheerios from the limelight. If fact notable icons that have been prominently featured in association with Cheerios include Rocky and Bullwinkle, Scooby Doo, Star Wars characters, and NASCAR drivers.

    You know I remember well in the 1978 film Superman: The Movie, Martha Kent places a Cheerios box prominently in front of the camera (as if intended to be a movie tie-in) at the beginning of the scene where Clark Kent is out in the middle of the field watching the sunrise.

    And in another film, , Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989), the climatic scene involves one of the shrunken characters swimming in a bowl of Cheerios and almost being eaten by his regularly-sized father.

    I watching television on a an afternoon off and saw the TV show Seinfeld like four times in a row. The show’s main character, Jerry, would curiously order a bowl of Cheerios at a diner instead of a regular meal in most of those.

    Borchardt also played a key role in coming up with the process used to fortify milk with vitamin D. He turned the new fortification method from a “laboratory curiosity” to a commercially viable process.

    His invention of Cheerios was even life-saving. When his grand daughter was about 14 months old, she drank part of a bottle of furniture polish. They took her to the emergency room to have her stomach pumped, and the doctor said if she hadn’t had a good breakfast that morning, she would’ve died. Yes – she had her Cheerios that morning.

    So I guess I will now put away my bowl of Count Chocula and do what is healthy for me…

    …… … I wonder if it counts if I mix the two together??

Memorable Ads From Howard Field

As I think back about all the TV I watched as a kid, you have to admit that if the TV show sucked you always had some good commercials to watch. At least they were memorable.

Okay, I will have to admit that we’ve occasionally been known to sneak off to the bathroom or kitchen or to Tijuana during commercial breaks. But there were certain ads that will always stick in our brains.

Who can forget Rosie the waitress, or Josephine the plumber? They were strong roles and they kept us entertained while selling their product.

Clad in silver armor and mounted on a white steed, the Ajax White Knight galloped valiantly down neighborhood streets zapping dirty laundry with his magic white lance  to the tune of “Stronger than Dirt.”

How about the Wesson oil commercial where the father comes in and ask the mother what the daughter is doing cooking bread in Wesson. I think you could fry anything in that stuff from fried chicken to the neighbor’s cat.

The reason for my remembering these is that the creator of these and many other commercials, Howard Field has taken his Final Taxi.

 After graduating USC he was signed as the youngest contract writer at MGM Studios. He was one of the first writers of plays for television. But the Big Apple beckoned and he went off to write for Young & Rublacam, Grey and Compton Advertising Agencies. He began the character commercials that were ground breaking.

Besides the ones I had talked about Field also gave us the Revlon commercials which featured Barbara Feldon, and he made us want to bake great Duncan Hines cakes.

 Howard Field won many Clio’s for his creativity.

One never knows what kind of impact you will have on people, even in just creating TV ads.



Larger Crematoriums For Larger People

There is many ways in which people take their Final Taxi. One common way is cremation. Cremation is the practice of disposing of a human corpse by burning which often takes place in a crematorium or crematory. Cremation probably started sometime in the early Stone Age, around 3,000 B.C. in parts of Europe and the Near East

I found it quite interesting to see a report that the nation’s and the world’s obesity problem is now taking its toll on the funeral business. This is in larger coffins, with are more common, but now in larger crematoriums.

The place where the cremation takes place is called crematorium. The crematorium consists of one or more ovens or furnaces and facilities for handling of the ashes. A cremation furnace is a industrial furnace capable of reaching high temperatures up to approximately 870-980 °C (1600-1800 °F) with special modifications to ensure the efficient disintegration of the corpse. One of these modifications is the aiming of the flames at the corpse’s torso, where a majority of the corpse’s mass rests. The crematorium may be part of chapel or a funeral home, or it may be part of an independent facility or a service offered by a cemetery.

As you can expect making a larger crematorium is not an easy matter. Many times you can not just refurbish the space needed. No one wants a loved ones funeral to be halted ( or to be embarrassed) by a coffin causing a blockage into the furnace.

Most standard coffins measure 16 and 20 inches across. However, coffins of up to 40 inches are now increasingly in demand to cope with bigger bodies. The only thing for a crematorium to do now is to order bigger furnaces to deal with the numbers of bigger coffins.

In 2000, just over 26 percent of the dead were cremated in the United States, which has more than 1,700 crematories, according to the Cremation Association of North America. The state with the lowest rate in 2000 was my home state of Alabama, at 4.8 percent, while the state with the highest rate was Hawaii, at 59.9 percent.

Countries with high cremation rates include Japan (98 percent); Czech Republic (76 percent); United Kingdom (72 percent); and Switzerland (68 percent).

Funeral homes across the world are gearing up for their clients increased waist size. In the UK, Lewisham in South London has a 44 inch cremator while the crematorium in Blackburn has a 42 inch cremator being installed.

The obesity problem is effecting us all.

Aloha, Don Ho

Don Ho, an entertainer who defined popular perceptions of Hawaiian music in the 1960s and held fast to that image as a peerless Waikiki nightclub attraction, has taken his Final Taxi at 76.

The first time I ever saw Don Ho was on that episode of the Brady Bunch when they get to take a trip to Hawaii. You remember the one where Bobby unearths an ancient tiki said to bring bad luck to whomever is holding it.

Later when watching an old 1966 Adam West “Batman” show while it was in syndication I spotted Don Ho again. I wiped the drool from my chin while watching Julie Newmar as  Catwoman just as Don Ho made a walk on role.

He was on several other TV shows throughout the years and  was a durable spokesman for the image of Hawaii as a tourist  playground. His rise as a popular singer dovetailed with a visitor  boom that followed statehood in 1959 and the advent of affordable air travel. For 40 years, his name was synonymous with Pacific Island leisure, as was “Tiny Bubbles,” his signature hit, which helped turn him into a national figure.

Born Donald Tai Loy Ho in the Honolulu enclave of Kaka’ako, Mr. Ho had an ethnic background worthy of the islands’ melting-pot ideal: he was of Hawaiian, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch and German descent. He grew up in Kaneohe, on the windward side of the island of Oahu, and it was there that he began his singing career at Honey’s, a restaurant and
lounge owned by his mother, Emily and later he took it over.

By 1962 he was headlining there with a backing group called the Ali’is. Their blend of two guitars, piano, drums and xylophone, along with Mr. Ho’s Hammond organ, was well suited to the breezy pop sound of the era. Within five years, Mr. Ho had achieved nationwide fame with several successful albums and a hit single, “Tiny Bubbles.” A full decade
before Jimmy Buffett’s “Margaritaville,” the song painted an appealing portrait of tropical indulgence that cemented Mr. Ho’s character as an  easygoing romantic rogue. He adhered to that character in his frequent television appearances in the late 1960s and early ’70s, and on his own ABC variety series, “The Don Ho Show,” from 1976 to 1977.

 He performing on a weekly basis and lunching at Don Ho’s Island Grill, a restaurant in which he was a partner that opened in 1998. Last September Mr. Ho took medical leave to have a new pacemaker installed.

He was recently doing voiceovers  for the Scooby-Doo cartoons.

Frank Tovey – 5 Years without a new Fad Gadget.

I can not believe that is has been five years since the death of my favorite musician.


Frank Tovey, an innovative English musician who recorded electronic and industrial music in the 1980’s using the name Fad Gadget, died on April 3 2002. Tovey was a artist, a poet, a lyricist, a pioneer, an innovator, a composer, a experimentalist, a storyteller, a father, a husband, and a friend.


Influenced by Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Marc Bolan, Tovey formed his first band in high school. He attended St. Martin’s School of Art and then studied performance art at

Leeds Polytechnic. He returned to London, where he lived with the

Artist known as Savage Pencil.


There, he began to make music on a drum machine and an electronic

piano. At the time, across Britain, punk rock was being subverted by

electronic-instrument-wielding art school students into an experimental pop

that was both more macabre and more romantic.

Acts like Cabaret Voltaire, Human League and Depeche Mode (who open for him on his first tour) were beginning to emerge, and. Tovey soon joined their

Ranks in 1979 when he was the first artist signed to the innovative

Independent label Mute. Daniel Miller first printed a single with his band The Normal ( Warm Leatherette) and was influenced by Tovey to start the new label.


Using the name Fad Gadget, he released four albums, which were marked

by dark electronic funk topped by Mr. Tovey’s distinct British accent.

Half speaking and half singing, he delivered wry editorials on

politics, society and love, painting a dark dystopia fueled by technology.


I remember getting the first 45 of Ricky’s Hand. It was the talk of all the major critics as Tovey used an electric drill as a musical instrument.



“A view from my window/A motorway intersection,” he sang on his

Breakthrough album, “Under the Flag.” “Exhaust pipes at pram level/Now playgrounds

Are carparks.”


In 1981 he recorded an album with the industrial-music noisemaker Boyd

Rice, which was released years later as “Easy Listening for the Hard of

Hearing.” He also recorded with Mute Records founder Daniel Miler and release a LP of 50’s and 60’s cover songs done in an electronic sound called the Silicon Teens.


On tour Tovey’s performances were often highly intense and theatrical.


In 1985 Mr. Tovey began to record for Mute using his own name, making

An effort for the first time to learn how to play acoustic instruments.


After an industrial-dance side project, MKultra, he took a new

approach to his condemnation of industrialization by rounding up a mostly acoustic

band for 1989’s “Tyranny and the Hired Hand,” a collection of new and old

protest and labor songs like “Joe Hill” and “Sixteen Tons.”


Recruiting a backing band called the Pyros, with Paul Rodden on

Electric banjo, he tried his own hand at such material with a wry, rootsy look

at postwar, post-yuppie England on “Grand Union” two years later.


In 1993 Tovey and the Pyros released “Worried Men in Secondhand

Suits” and then took a long hiatus.


In 2001 he was asked to tour and began to opening act for Depeche Mode the band who opened for him on his first tour.

Tovey was honor on April 1st of 2002 for his influence in Electonica. His peers gave him that honor. Two days later he was found death from a heart attack.

He was working on a new album at the time of his death.


Go find the new DVD/ CD collection of his work called Fad Gadget by Frank Tovey.

4 disks for under 25 dollars.