This Day in Death

12.24.12: Jack Klugman, Star of The Odd Couple – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:43 am December 31, 2012

JACK_KLUGMANThough they certainly had their detractors, the singing duo of Klugman & Dog left nary a dry eye in the house during their rendition of “Strangers in the Night.”


Actor Jack Klugman died on Christmas Eve, but I waited til now to tell you about it so that it wouldn’t ruin your holiday, unlike that year when your white brother thought it was the perfect time to announce he’d joined the Nation of Islam, and you know he only did it to piss off your racist uncle. Just let everyone enjoy some goddamn ham before you make everything all weird, Jerry!

Klugman was best known as Oscar, the filthy, degenerate slob from the mismatched buddy television series The Odd Couple. The show was based on the Neil Simon play of the same name, which was itself based on an earlier stage play about Ayn Rand renting a flat with a reincarnated Karl Marx. That play was, of course, based on a collection of Thomas Nashe sonnets chronicling the comedic misadventures of King Edward III being forced to share his castle with a dish full of sassy Black Plague bacterium. Interestingly, those sonnets were themselves a loose adaptation of a series of cave paintings by Ook the Brave detailing a wild bison’s attempts to get along with a mild-mannered spear. I dunno, I think some of those paintings still hold up pretty well.

Never anyone’s idea of a matinee idol, Klugman remained a popular star for decades simply by playing a gruff but down-to-earth guy, his tie stained and a little loose, a cigar in hand during the days when smoking was permitted.

Klugman’s cause of death is believed to be natural causes, although it’s worth noting that he suffered from throat cancer in the 80s. The cancer had robbed him of his voice, but, amazingly, Klugman was able to teach himself how to speak again. It’s a pretty courageous feat, and I’m definitely using it as inspiration to one day go back into my bedroom after seeing that spider in there last week and running away. In retrospect it might have just been a lint ball, but this is hardly the time to be taking any chances.


Source: USA Today

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12.19.12: Rejected Supreme Court Nominee Robert Bork – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 3:58 pm December 26, 2012

ROBERT_BORK164527306Robert Bork was, of course, named by the Swedish Chef. And that’s what happens when I hold onto a joke I found funny 20 years ago.

Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork is dead today, and I’d like to say that I’m late reporting it because I’ve been busy feeding the hungry this holiday season but the truth is a lot less altruistic and a lot more Airwolf marathony. *cough*… Moving on.

Bork has become notable for being the rare example of a Presidential Supreme Court nomination being rejected when, in 1987, the Senate voiced concerns that his conservative personal views would overtly color his judicial decisions. It’s pretty similar to that time I was totally next in line to be promoted to shift manager at Panera Bread, but then that bitch Jenny had to go and tell Mr. Spinoza that I was pocketing quarters from the til. She just wants to destroy me because she’s jealous, that’s all!

It is rare for the Senate in its constitutional “advice and consent” role to turn down a president’s Supreme Court nominee, and rarer still for that rejection to be based not on qualifications but on judicial philosophy and temperament. That turned Judge Bork’s defeat into a watershed event and his name into a verb: getting “borked” is what happens to a nominee rejected for what supporters consider political motives.

The success of the anti-Bork campaign is widely seen to have shifted the tone and emphasis of Supreme Court nominations since then, giving them an often strong political cast and making it hard, many argue, for a nominee with firmly held views ever to be confirmed.

Call me a filthy centrist (“filthy centrist” being one of the more challenging sexual positions I suggest you futilely try before giving up on your obviously loveless marriage, by the way), but that kind of political divisiveness can’t be good for a country. It’s time we get back to the core principles this country was founded on: Wearing hats with buckles on them and alienating black people. Or just do whatever the hell you want. What do I care, it’s not like I can even vote. I’ve been living under an assumed name for the past eight years. James O. may owe 30 grand to various bookies and brothel owners, but Juan Alvarado Sanchez is little more than a dirty pair of Wranglers and a bitchin’ fake mustache.

Source: The New York Times

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12.17.12: Hawaii Senator Daniel Inouye – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:05 pm December 21, 2012

DANIEL_INOUYEThe constraints of a 12-letter alphabet means Hawaiian culture never got exposed to Zubaz *or* the music of Sisqó. I mean, if you can even still call that a culture.


Assuming that you acknowledge Hawaii’s statehood and don’t just believe it’s an elaborate hoax to trick impressionable retirees into buying condos, Daniel Inouye represented the state as either a Representative or a Senator since its inception in 1959, never losing an election in his entire political career. Among Inouye’s accomplishments were sitting on the House Appropriations Committee, his aggressive investigation into the Watergate scandal, and instituting mandated prison sentences for anyone who still thinks that putting a wreath around your neck and then saying “you just got lei’d!” is funny. It’s not funny.

Democrat Daniel Inouye, the U.S. Senate’s most senior member and a Medal of Honor recipient for his bravery during World War II, has died. He was 88.

He died of respiratory complications and had been at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center since earlier this month. His office said his last word was “Aloha,” the traditional Hawaiian word for “hello” and “goodbye.”

Inouye served as President pro tempore during the final two years of his life, putting him as third in the line of succession for the Presidency and therefore making him the highest ranking Asian American in U.S. politics to date. The second highest, of course, would be Lucy Lui, followed closely by the ghost of Brandon Lee and about 30% of Lou Diamond Phillips. That ghost has a lot of bold ideas about gerrymandering.

Source: USA Today

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12.9.12: N. Joseph Woodland, Inventor of the Barcode – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:10 pm December 18, 2012

MAD_UPCMAD in the 70s: Come for the sharp commentary about rampant consumerism, stay for another David Berkowitz fold-in.


Being an inventor in 2012 has got to be borderline impossible. I’ve already got Prozac and ketchup bottles that open from the bottom, good luck convincing me I need anything else to lead a fulfilling life. Americans were probably a dramatically softer sell in 1949, though, when the afterglow of that whole “killing Hitler” thing started to fade and we desperately needed new stuff to keep us interested until mail order pornography became viable. That’s when N. Joseph Woodland swooped in and invented the now-ubiquitous UPC barcode, creating an entirely new system that would allow data for millions of commercial products to be easily encoded into a scannable symbol. It also gave every middle class college student the perfect idea for a super hardcore neck tattoo that’s really gonna blow the minds of a few of those conformos down at the Quad. Because corporations.

What would happen, Mr. Woodland wondered one day, if Morse code, with its elegant simplicity and limitless combinatorial potential, were adapted graphically? He began trailing his fingers idly through the sand.

“What I’m going to tell you sounds like a fairy tale,” Mr. Woodland told Smithsonian magazine in 1999. “I poked my four fingers into the sand and for whatever reason — I didn’t know — I pulled my hand toward me and drew four lines. I said: ‘Golly! Now I have four lines, and they could be wide lines and narrow lines instead of dots and dashes.’ ”

Wow. That’s a productive day at the beach. Normally I just put on my tightest “Bikini Inspector” t-shirt and look for snail shells to throw at on-duty lifeguards. Who the hell do they think they are, anyway, sitting all high up in the air like that? Oh, I’m sorry, I thought we left England to get *away* from kings, your majesty!

Source: The New York Times

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12.9.12: Astronomer and Television Host Sir Patrick Moore – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 5:38 pm December 17, 2012

Moore, seen here in one of David Bryne’s trademark hilarious oversized suits. Dude, I still don’t get it.

Astronomer and broadcasting legend Sir Patrick Moore is dead today of unspecified illness. Unfortunately, since he was English you’re going to need to run this post through your TDiD Language Converter to strip out all of the superfluous ‘U’s and references to Spotted Dick.

For over 50 years, Moore hosted the classic BBC program The Sky at Night in-between terrorizing Gotham City with bird-themed crime sprees and popping out of the ‘O’ on the Monopoly box. Why don’t more of the recently deceased have funny accessories? It’s all been downhill since Michael Jackson took epaulets with him to the grave.

Speaking on his 88th birthday last year, the legendary broadcaster said: “I shan’t have a funeral. They can take my bits and use them for experiments and chuck the rest away. In my will I’ve left a sum of money to have a party when I’ve gone.”

Good for him. I’m getting pretty sick of treating the human body with respect. Oh, great design work, God; All dangling flesh sacks and easily-stabbed exteriors. Where are the exo-skeletons, the camouflage skin, the heat vision? I can’t even discharge an emergency supply of poisonous ink for use against my enemies. Plus this vestigial tail isn’t getting me anywhere with the ladies.

Source: Digital Spy

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12.11.12: Ravi Shankar – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:54 am December 12, 2012

“Pfft. 24 strings? Would you like a nice sequined purse and some Tampax to go with that?” -Rick Neilsen.


Well hold onto your pashm scarf, Indian readers and filthy culture-scavenging hipsters: World music pioneer Ravi Shankar is dead. Between this and jazz legend Dave Brubeck‘s passing last week things have really been rough for musical genres we all pretend to listen to in order to seem eclectic. I know what you’re thinking and I agree: If Zimbabwean mbira virtuoso Chiwoniso Maraire dies I just don’t think any of us could handle it right now.

His close relationship with [George] Harrison, the Beatles lead guitarist, shot Shankar to global stardom in the 1960s.

Gaining confidence with the [sitar] Harrison recorded the Indian-inspired song “Within You Without You” on the Beatles’ ”Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band,” helping spark the raga-rock phase of 60s music and drawing increasing attention to Shankar and his work.

That’s right; Without Shankar we never would’ve gotten “Within You Without You,” a not at all pretentious five minutes of noodling from the third most talented Beatle that kick-started the trend of sheltered millionaires making us feel guilty about how shallow we are by comparison. Not for nothing, but at least Bono gave us Achtung Baby before getting all pissy at me about Styrofoam.


Source: The Washington Post

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12.7.12: Spirit Drummer Ed Cassidy – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:01 pm December 10, 2012

Band member Randy California, on the left there, holds the distinction of fathering literally every male I’ve ever seen in Wicker Park.


Ed Cassidy, the drummer for 60s jazzy hippie rock-type band Spirit, is dead today at the age of 89. I don’t know much about them, because listening to music is just one mistake away from dancing and I’m trying to go to heaven, thank you very much. However, I did once fly Spirit Airlines nonstop to Denver, so I’m pretty qualified to finish this post.

Jimi Hendrix incorporated Spirit guitar solos into performances and fans took notice of similarities between Led Zeppelin’s“Stairway to Heaven” and Spirit’s “Taurus,” which was released first. When Led Zeppelin played their first gig in the U.S. in 1968, they opened for Spirit.

Despite their quick assent to moderate fame, band members were pursuing independent ventures by the early 1970s. As the musicians reassembled in various configurations over the decades, Cassidy was called “the world’s oldest performing rock ‘n’ roll drummer.” He had long been nicknamed “Mr. Skin” for his bald head.

They’re not kidding there; Cassidy was born in 1923, making him the oldest guy in Spirit by a considerable margin. Seriously, the drummer *and* oldest member? That’s a majorly stacked deck when it comes time to divvy up the groupies. At that point you’re just hoping a couple of 6s sluice past the bassist.

As an aside, if you’re on the internet in 2012 and the name “Mr. Skin” conjures absolutely no Pavlovian response within you, congratulations: You probably have a much healthier sex life than me.


Source: The LA Times

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12.5.12: Dave Brubeck – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:15 pm December 7, 2012

Oh, you like jazz? Yeah, I used to listen to a lot of jazz, but I kinda grew out of it. Now I mostly listen to dissonant South African flute music. You’ll probably get into it in another couple years.

Look, unless we’re talking about Will Smith’s sidekick from Fresh Prince, I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that I know how to discuss jazz. It’s all boppy piano with nary a chainsaw guitar solo to be heard and time signatures that need to be decoded like we’re in a damn National Treasure movie. Whatever happened to a couple of good, sturdy 4s? All of these 7s and 9s confuse and anger people. If I wasn’t legally prohibited from running for public office musical reform would be a major plank in my platform. Anyway, Dave Brubeck is dead. Please read this block quote while I put on Birth of the Cool for just long enough to justify tweeting to all of my white friends that I did so.

Mr. Brubeck experimented with time signatures and polytonality and explored musical theater and the oratorio, baroque compositional devices and foreign modes. He did not always please the critics, who often described his music as schematic, bombastic and — a word he particularly disliked — stolid. But his very stubbornness and strangeness — the blockiness of his playing, the oppositional push-and-pull between his piano and Paul Desmond’s alto saxophone — make the Brubeck quartet’s best work still sound original.

Brubeck also was forced to take firm stands for racial tolerance in the 50s, when college deans tried to force him not to perform with Gene Wright, a black man, on bass. That sounds pretty bold, but it’s arguably just as racist of Brubeck to assume that you can’t perform jazz without a black bassist. See, America? Now you don’t know *what* to believe.

Source: The New York Times

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Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:45 am December 5, 2012

 There are three things I’m not gonna mock for cheap hahas here: People with mental illnesses, astrophysicists, and Buff Love from the Fat Boys. You’ve earned your peace, big guy.


Okay, this one is gonna get real dark real fast, and that actually makes for a surprisingly tough job for me. What can I say, I like my work like I like my women: Easy. And usually Asian.

Professor Steven Rawlings, an eminent astrophysicist, suffered a fatal heart attack after being pinned to the ground in self defence by his oldest friend and fellow Oxford academic Dr Devinderjit Sivia.

He described his friend as confused and agitated and explained how he suddenly walked towards him shouting: “I’m going to kill you.”

“Suddenly he swung around without warning and punched me in the face, his clenched fists hit me in the face.

“He was screaming ‘you’re going to die, you’re going to die’,” Dr Sivia told the inquest.

Okay, in fairness, the odds suggest that Dr. Sivia WILL die at some point. That’s just basic statistics. So you could make the case that Rawlings wasn’t so much mentally disturbed as he was just very foreward-thinking. They wanted to kill Galileo for the same thing, and that guy ended up on the $100 bill.

Giving evidence at the inquest Professor Rawlings’ wife Linda, 50, said he had initially suffered mental health “side effects” 15-years ago after taking the controversial anti-malaria drug Lariam during a holiday to Kenya.

See, this is why I don’t travel. That, and the TSA has a thing about getting on a plane wearing a fully-stocked bandoleer, even though I politely explained to them that it’s strictly for fashion. The only crime that’s been committed here is being TOO style-conscious, Security Inspector Davidson!

As the pair struggled, Dr Sivia managed to restrain him in a headlock, holding him for around 20 minutes until eventually he uttered the phrase “goodbye cruel world” and went limp.

Dr Sivia told the inquest he initially thought Professor Rawlings was playing dead and believed “goodbye cruel world” was a reference to a Pink Floyd song they had been listening to earlier in the day.

“I thought this might be a ploy to get me to release him because it was so melodramatic,” he told the inquest.

Absolutely nothing about this makes sense and it’s really starting to feel like one of those Saved By the Bell episodes where the gang breaks a vase and keep making their situation exponentially worse by lying about it and eventually they learn the value of honesty. Except, in this case, they murdered a guy. I mean, maybe that happened at some point, I never really got into that College Years bullshit. It’s time to stop scheming, Zack! This is your future! GodDAMMIT.

But when he realised he was not getting up he then emailed the professor’s wife to apologise for killing him.

Mrs Rawlings said: “At 2230 I got an email from Devinder saying, ‘I’m terribly sorry but I’ve killed him, sorry Devinder’.

Dude! An email! That was the level of urgency the evening’s events had merited. Apparently accidental murder isn’t Skype-worthy. Why does nobody involved in this thing act like a human being? This whole debacle is one precocious teenage conspiracy theorist away from being a Don DeLillo short story.


Source: The Telegraph

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11.30.12: “Tank McNamara” Creator Jeff Millar – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 4:37 pm December 3, 2012


Flawless execution of the classic three-panel strip format: Panel one, set-up; Panel two, indisputably hilarious joke; Panel three, explain the joke to make sure that everyone gets to join in on the fun.


Jeff Millar, the creator of the Tank McNamara comic strip, died on Friday after suffering from biliary cancer. If you never got the chance to read it, Tank McNamara was the only thing that Bill Watterson officially endorsed Calvin pissing on. The Lockhorns were actually a pretty happy couple until being on the same page as Tank drove them both to alcoholism, infidelity, and a tragic murder/suicide pact. God, just look at this:

It’s like he finished the strip and forgot there was a fourth panel to fill. Honestly, this thing has the comedic timing of improv night at the methadone clinic, which is an event that exists solely to give me something to compare Tank to. It’s the only comic strip that actually *starts out* as bird cage lining. At least Cathy tried to be interesting by making the main character transsexual, everyone in Tank just looks like they were hoping Gary Larson would’ve called them back by now.

In conclusion, I have to give Tank McNamara a score of 4.5 out of 5 bizarrely-exposed live-action Marmaduke genitals:

Hell, even that image has a more satisfying narrative arc than your average Tank installment.


Source: The Houston Chronicle (which calls itself “The Chron” now, because it’s still 1996.)

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