Last week Tasha Tudor, the children's book writer and illustrator, died at the age of 92. Tudor's illustrations for A Little Princess and The Secret Garden are part of my childhood, part of the way I will always read those books. Reading about her life I found myself intrigued and at the same time distanced; much as I love, for example, Victorian literature, I am always grateful to have been born in a time of indoor plumbing, women's rights, and (for all I curse it) the internet.
Yesterday George Carlin died at the age of 71, and as I think about his impact on my life I'm again glad not to have lived in the 19th century, for then I would never have had George Carlin's humor. His wordplay was of the best kind: funny and thought-provoking, silly and serious at the same time. Some of his phrases have simply passed into my lexicon, no longer attributed--and I've never been able teach about oxymoron without using his examples ("jumbo shrimp," "military intelligence").
King Kaufman and Joan Walsh both recall Carlin in Salon.com today; Walsh also links to an interview he did with Heather Havrilesky earlier this year.
It's hard to imagine Carlin and Tudor together--one looking backward, with love and nostalgia, the other looking right at us, dead-on, with clarity and biting wit. Both enriched my life.