When 27-year-old British singer Amy Winehouse died this past Saturday, the sad news came as no surprise to many, including her own father, who'd already penned her obituary.
Winehouse struggled with addiction for many years and though her death is still being ruled as "unexplained" the true cause will not be determined until an autopsy has been performed.
Winehouse's music -- described as "Sixties pop-soul in 21st-century street slang" -- was overshadowed by her chaotic personal life ever since she scored a record deal with Island Records when she was just 17.
The tattooed songstress with the huge beehive hairdo had been in and out of rehab for years. Her turbulent relationship with "no good man", Blake Fielder-Civil, was likened to that of the late punk rockers, Nancy Spungeon and Sid Vicious.
Together, Amy and hubby Blake battled a mutual addiction. In fact, Winehouse had overdosed during their marriage. After a three-day bender in which she and Blake consumed heroin, ecstasy, cocaine, horse tranquilizers and booze, Amy had her stomach pumped and received an adrenaline shot that saved her life.
Her career high ironically came during a separation from Blake in which she released Back to Black, an album which won her the prestigious Mercury Music Prize and sold over a million copies in the UK alone.
Since then, though, Winehouse's performances had been shambolic, with her stumbling incoherently and forgetting lyrics, prompting her to pull the plug on a recent European tour. The British press had cruelly taken to calling her Amy "Declinehouse".
Other journalists had kinder words: "It's deeply sad," said Daily Telegraph music critic, Neil McCormick. "It's the most completely tragic waste of talent that I can remember."
Winehouse was just the latest in a long line of musicians (Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, et al) to die at the ripe age of 27.
Both Amy and Blake's parents tried to help, even suggesting Amy's record company intervene, to no avail. The anguish for the parents of an addict must be incredible. Should the state get involved in such cases?
RIP to the woman whose soulful voice will no doubt live on."
Say what you want about Canada Post, but at least letters usually don't take 53 years to be delivered.
The love letter, addressed to Clark C. Moore in 1958, only recently found its way to the California University of Pennsylvania mail room. Except it was too late. Though the college sweethearts eventually married and had kids, they divorced eight years later. Clark, whose name is now Muhammad Siddeeq, got remarried, moved to Indianapolis, and converted to Islam.
"I'm curious, but I'm not sure I'd put it in the category of 'looking forward to it'," 74-year-old Siddeeq told the Pittsburg Tribune Review. Vonnie, who penned the lines, "I still miss you as much as ever and love you a thousand times more", declined to discuss the letter and was upset that it had been made public.
It's unlikely that Vonnie's letter would have changed the fate of the couple. Still, it's a charming reminder of the slow burning romance which has been somewhat lost in the electronic age.
"Back then," admits Siddeeq, "we wrote at least once or twice a week, sometimes three times. I would perk your whole day up to get back to your room and find a letter."
All this time we've been led down the sexual garden path, believing men just want penetration while women prefer to 'spoon'. According to the Kinsey Institute, which surveyed 1,009 heterosexual couples in long-term committed relationships in five countries, that ain't necessarily so.
While sex is still used to sell virtually everything (even -- ew -- cat food), the Kinsey report, published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, seems to suggest that we aren't nearly as in touch with what really goes on in between the sheets as we pretend to be.
There are many valid reasons, for instance, that a woman's libido tends to wane, particularly in the early mothering years. But the good news according to Kinsey: we more than get our mojo back the older we get. Researchers attributed this resurgence in libido to children growing up and relieving stress on mothers, as well as "reduced anxiety" about fertility.
"Possibly, women become more satisfied over time because their expectations change, or life changes with the children grown," said Julia Heiman, director of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction and lead author of the study. "On the other hand, those who weren't so happy sexually might not be married so long."
The even better news: when couples manage to stand the test of time, spanning at least 15 years, sexual relations tend to improve. Especially so for the Japanese, who were reportedly happier than Americans, both in terms of relationships and sex lives. (Sadly, no one thought to ask us Canucks about our bedtime antics.)
Meantime, it's important to ascribe the value our sex lives deserve. While it's okay to have the odd 'headache', too often we make our partners feel guilty and rejected just for feeling frisky. Intimacy is an integral part of every marriage, and it's unfair to simply brush that need under the carpet with no obvious health or relationship issue at the fore.
If Kinsey is right, although the fire may smolder at various times in our lives, we ought to tend it carefully so the spark is still there in middle age when the sex really heats up again.