Jack Larsen (1928-2015)

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He (as Jimmy Olsen) was probably one of my first exposures to writers writing for a living, and one of my childhood dreams – a journalist for a newspaper. It doesn’t seem that long ago even though it’s a million miles away.

A life well lived deserves a rest.

Rest in peace, Jack.

NY Times Article
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I’d like to share this tribute from actor, writer, playwright, and overall super human being, Jim Beaver:

I’ve been working on a biography of actor George Reeves for decades now. It’s what brought me to Hollywood, and it has been both an albatross about my neck and an enormous blessing, lo, these many years.

Chief among the blessings have been the people I met in the course of my research who became friends. And most certainly, chief among those friends was Jack Larson. Jack played Jimmy Olsen on Reeves’s SUPERMAN TV series in the 1950s, and it is for that iconic role that he will always be remembered. But he was much, much more than that. He was a playwright, the first ever to be given a Rockefeller Foundation grant. He was a librettist, creating the text to the great Virgil Thompson’s last opera, LORD BYRON. He knew EVERYBODY. His bosom friends and lovers included Montgomery Clift, Leslie Caron, James Dean, John Houseman, Christopher Isherwood, Salka Viertel, and Libby Holman, and, especially, director James Bridges, with whom Jack shared a life for 35 years. They lived in a Frank Lloyd Wright house in Brentwood, where they were neighbors of mine for many years. I would see Jack walking his beloved dogs daily, and we often stopped to chat.

I got to know Jack because he was a figure in the story of the subject of my book project, but when I think of him, I think of him as a friend. I had interviewed him once or twice without any particular connection arising, but the combined subsequent facts that I had plays produced at Actors Theatre of Louisville and had a fling with a staffer he knew well there (he was the Rockefeller Foundation’s scout for interesting playwrights at the time) led him to feel close to me. Indeed, for the next 35 years, he never failed to ask me how that girl from Louisville was, though I hadn’t seen her in years. I was enamored of him and fiercely envious of his style, his grace, his congeniality and his place among brilliant, thoughtful, fascinating people. Most of all, I appreciated his friendship and his abiding friendliness and good nature. I loved him. Not because he was Jimmy Olsen on my favorite childhood show. Indeed, I rather rarely think of him in that way. I loved him because he was everything a man ought to be – smart, kind, gentle, gracious, giving, talented, funny, and just damned nice.

I will miss him forever.

Jack Larson (1928-2015)

Mental Health Monday – MY Coping Tools

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For this penultimate Mental Health Monday for Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, I thought I would offer a few of my personal coping mechanisms and tools. I usually go through my things that work until they don’t and then go for the less good ones. You never know which combination of tools and mood will break out of those bad days.

As much as I love fall, October in particular, I find it a bit more stressful than the rest of the year (until late spring). It’s hectic. The school’s want so much, the weather changes throughout the day from summer to later fall, and then back again. We’re close enough to Christmas that we’re worrying how we’re going to pay for it all. The church is beginning its new year at the end of November, and this year I have a few new responsibilities on that front. My son’s birthday is in October, and from then until the anniversary of my mother’s death the first week in December, it’s like a ticking bomb, counting down to her death, like it did in retrospect eleven years ago.

I try to get myself set up with a retreat; not always feasible especially monetarily. I also have my writing group that meets for eight weeks in the fall. Except that it was cancelled last week for this season. *headdesk*

I guess in addition to giving you some helpful hints and resources, I’ll probably be using many of them myself.

First is my writing workshop. I need it. Desperately. My plan? Go to the library anyway at the time the workshop would have taken place, and work on my two books. They’ve been waiting in the wings for too long. One is a travel, essay, spiritual journey to and about Wales, and the second is the horror of buying my house. The first one is too much emotion, and the second one is too much anger, so I can’t handle them for very long. Now, I have a dedicated eight weeks to put a dent in their outlines and direction.

Second is it’s list season. I’ve told my family already: If it isn’t on my list, it doesn’t exist. I knew they knew I was serious when they didn’t comment on my little rhyme. My advice is to put absolutely everything on the list, including reminders to eat and go the bathroom. You’d be surprised how often you’ll forget without that check up on yourself.

My list for tomorrow looks something like this:

Kids to school
Get dressed
Mass
Target – toilet paper and Dawn
Groceries – cheddar cheese, rice, and Yartzeit candles (for Yom Kippur)
Breakfast
Continue cleaning my work space while Supernatural plays in the background
Write Friday’s fandom post about Gishwhes
Check Gishwhes site for updates

Seriously, no item is too small or too big. Too big use several steps, so break them down and pat yourself on the back when you complete something.

Third, I mentioned Supernatural as background noise. This is my comfort sound, especially the earlier seasons. Find what you like but don’t need to pay 100% attention to. It could be music. Talk radio. Nature sounds. We all have that one thing. Find yours.

Fourth, comfort food. Macaroni and cheese is an old standby (Kraft in the blue box), but last week I had the most intense craving…..and then I had the most amazing peanut butter and banana sandwich on toasted wheat bread that I have had in a long time. It was……fantastic.

Fifth, it’s okay to just sit and do nothing. Watch TV. Listen to music. Read a book or better yet, a magazine, so you don’t need to give it the same attention as a book. Take a nap if it will help.

Sixth, catch up on Netflix. I can heartily recommend Sense8 (warning for language, sex, adult situations, and violence) and Parks and Recreation (warning for sexual talk and adult situations).

Seventh, take care of yourself. Say no to people if you don’t have the spoons. It’s okay, and don’t apologize for taking care of yourself.