Archive for family

More from Jenny Basil and her work with the Nautilus

Really cool interview, Jenny!

“They’re not highly visual,” [Jenny] says of the nautilus. “Like, if you look at a cuttlefish, they look at you. Their tentacles orient to you. They look at you. Some of them will come up… and try and touch you.” The nautilus? Not so much. “We see nautiluses in the aquarium in the daytime, which is when they sleep,” Basil says. “You know if you looked at me at 3 a.m., you wouldn’t think I was that complex either.” These nocturnal habits, combined with their unusual eyes, may make us less inclined to consider the nautilus as impressive as lab tests have proven it to be.

Jenny’s students are very lucky people. (Jenny would respond, no doubt, that she is even luckier.)

The Chambered Nautilus and Memory

My sister Dr. Jenny Basil, Biology Professor and Department Chair at Brooklyn College, appears in this week’s “You’re the Expert” podcast. “Dr. Jennifer Basil studies how animals navigate the world and remember where they stored food. Her main research organism is the mysterious and beautiful chambered nautilus [link added]. Comedians Jo Firestone, Zhubin Parang, and Shalewa Sharpe discover what secrets lie hidden in the deep sea.”

It is an entertaining and illuminating half hour! My sister is an exceptionally fine explainer of things, and she is also super funny.

About this cool program:

Created and hosted by Chris Duffy and produced by Pretty Good Friends, each episode features an expert in a specialized field. Through games, sketches, and hilariously misguided guesses, three comedians try to figure out what our expert studies all day. Over the course of the show, we hear about the latest findings and why their field is important.

Primary Progressive Aphasia

Harold Gulskin was an amazing acting coach who told his students “to emphasize the words of the script over any analysis of their characters’ motivation.” (His students included Kevin Kline, Glenn Close, and James Gandolfini.) That is, he did not believe in The Method. He believed in the script, and the actors reading that script. He passed away last week.

His wife, Sandra Jennings, said the cause [of his death] was probably a pulmonary embolism. He learned a decade ago that he had primary progressive aphasia, a rare form of dementia, she said, and had been living in a care facility in Park Ridge.

Primary Progressive Aphasia robs people of their linguistic abilities. Word by word, they can no longer understand names and terms; bit by bit, they can no longer find their own words in their minds; great big verbal parties become warehouses of nothing. Their other cognitive skills, and their memories, remain intact, for several years, until their brains and everything else fall apart.

This is what killed my Dad.

Reading Gulskin’s obituary moved me greatly.

As primary progressive aphasia gradually took away Mr. Guskin’s ability to speak and communicate, Ms. Jennings helped coach his students, filling in words he could no longer conjure and explaining his intentions.

Ms. Weisz said: “Even when he was down to about 20 words, I knew what he meant to say. We had a shorthand by then, and he would say, `No, no, no,’ when I wasn’t hitting the truth.”

My father was a stutterer well into adulthood. Learning how to speak out loud flawlessly and beautifully was I think to him his greatest achievement. That he was robbed of this toward and at his life’s end was utterly galling to him and our family. God bless Mr. Gulskin’s.

Happy birthday, Mom

Mom

We miss you.

Salut!

One of my genius sisters has a birthday today.

Rose Armani

Screen Shot 2017-07-04 at 8.38.36 PM

My former mother-in-law, Rose Armani, passed away on Monday. Rose was a profoundly good person.

Father’s Day

I’ve been a lucky Dad.

I have enjoyed being a Dad

Miles Basil and me, 28 or so years ago.

photo by m/h