This Day in Death

1.30.13: Patty Andrews of The Andrews Sisters – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:47 pm January 31, 2013

PATTY_ANDREWSUh, ladies? Are those Kelvin knots on those ties? Either respect the uniform with the proper double Windsor or go back to Germany. Fascists.


Patty Andrews, lead singer of old-timey group The Andrews Sister is dead today and Jesus Christ, you know what? There’s only so many times that I can write this same intro. Look, a lady your grandparents vaguely remember hearing sing decades ago in-between flagpole sitting lessons and coming up with more subtle racial epithets for black people is dead. She got old, she died. Not satisfied? Well, if all you’re giving me to work with are flat stones don’t be surprised when I can’t reinvent the wheel for you.

With their jazzy renditions of songs like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (of Company B),” “Rum and Coca-Cola” and “Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree (With Anyone Else but Me),” Patty, Maxene and LaVerne Andrews sold war bonds, boosted morale on the home front, performed with Bing Crosby and with the Glenn Miller Orchestra, made movies and entertained thousands of American troops overseas, for whom the women represented the loves and the land the troops had left behind.

Am I the only one who finds it a little dickish to entertain troops by reminding them of the awesome luxuries that they themselves don’t get to have? Every single day of my life is filled with the most insane conveniences and entertainment the world can offer while they’re stuck guarding crates in a country I probably couldn’t even locate on a map of that same country. If we really cared about their morale we’d lie about how great it is over here. Just tell them that that “Gangnam Style” thing is still popular while talking in a sleepy voice and pretending to yawn. “Nah, you guys really aren’t missing out on much. It’s been kinda lame since you left, actually. Yeah, I think we’re just gonna hit the hay early tonight.”

 

Source: The New York Times

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1.27.13: Philadelphia Broadcasting Icon Sally Starr – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 5:46 pm January 29, 2013

 

SALLY_STARREveryone was pretty hot before those egghead scientists went and invented color. Who asked for that, anyway? The world is hard enough to keep track of without all of those reds and blues always getting in the damn way.

 

I think the basics were pretty well covered via the headline up there, but if you really need it spoon-fed to you, Philadelphia broadcasting icon Sally Starr is dead today. Fun fact: Pennsylvania’s primary function is to serve as a buffer against New Jersey, thus ensuring that the latter makes direct contact with as few other states as possible. It’s sorta like America’s Dental Dam.

For two hours a day, five days a week until 1971, Starr hosted “Popeye Theater.” Dressed in her famed spangled cowgirl outfit, she introduced “Popeye” cartoons and Three Stooges shorts, and welcomed celebrity guests to her live telecasts.

She also dispensed life lessons – about everything from fire prevention to getting along with others – to her young fans, and brightened their days by sending great big “smoocheroonies” their way, along with such signature lines as “I hope you feel as good as you look, because you sure look good to Your Gal Sal,” and “Love ya lots! Love, luck and lollipops.”

It may seem kinda quaint in hindsight, but that kind of thing can really have a positive effect on developing young minds. Nowadays all the kids are forced to turn to rainbow parties and butt chugging and Rhianna songs for self-confidence. You’ve really gotta get to these kids early in order to keep them on the right path to psychological maturity. It’s why I’ve stepped in to fill the void with my “Touch a Kid Where it Counts!” preteen youth group series. Turnout has been a little low so far, but I think volunteering to pick the kids up right from school is a timesaver that their parents are really going to appreciate. And driving them in a van with tinted windows allows them to focus on their homework during the trip without getting distracted by the outside world.



Source: Philly.com

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1.11.13: Electronic Breathalyser Inventor Tom Parry Jones – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:21 am January 25, 2013

TOM_PARRY_JONESSo you can add the breathalyser to the list of things you might accidentally invent while attempting to create the fabled auto-fellator. I guess you could argue that *something* good has come out of our decades of failure, but I’m still pretty let down.

 

Tom Parry Jones, inventor of the first electronic breathalyser and scourge of degenerate drunkards the world over, is dead. It’s also my 200th post, but no, it’s cool, we don’t need to talk about that. Hey, let’s just talk about death again instead! It’s not like we ever get a chance to do that around here. Honestly, you guys have really been stunting my creativity lately. I didn’t wanna say anything because I didn’t wanna ruin this special day but it looks like that ship has already sailed, thanks. Let’s just hit the block quote while I lock myself in the bathroom for a while.

In 1972 Parry Jones began examining the possibility of developing a fuel cell alcohol sensor as the basis of a more reliable screening instrument. His portable “Alcolmeter”, an electronic device the size of a cigarette packet, transformed the process of screening by providing police with a more reliable kerbside test, removing the need for a follow-up blood or urine test. However, it took some time to catch on, and Parry Jones recalled that he found “inventing the device the easy part, but producing it, developing it and selling it was the challenge”.

That’s definitely true. I’m always down in the lab, slamming magnets together, boiling unspecified blue liquids with Bunsen burners, just inventing awesome shit all day long, and nobody takes any of it seriously. Like the Doubleknife, the only knife whose handle is not a handle at all, but actually a second, even deadlier knife. No one wanted to listen to me when I invented Facebook, either. I mean, it was six months ago, so technically it already existed, but I had assumed the dinosaurs at the patent office didn’t know that. Turns out they’re actually pretty sharp when it comes to these things. I bet they have all that stuff written down somewhere, nice and safe.

 

Source: The Telegraph

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1.7.13: Fred Turner, Former McDonald’s CEO, Founder of Hamburger University – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:38 am January 23, 2013

image

See? You legalize gay marriage and all of a sudden clown mascots are marrying CEOs of multinational corporations. Next thing you know anything goes and an alpaca is getting hitched to an issue of Highlights for Children.

 

Former McDonald’s CEO Fred Turner is dead today at the age of 80. Turner is the third McDonald’s CEO to die in the last decade; Jim Cantalupo died of a heart attack in 2004 and was replaced by Chris Bell. Bell, who ate the company’s food regularly, died of colon cancer the next year, with his diet potentially at fault. Unlike the others, and luckily for McDonald’s PR department, Turner dying of pneumonia would be hard to pin to their product’s questionable nutritional value. Well, unless you count their controversial Southwestern Streptococcus Chicken Salad. That thing is infectiously delicious.

Turner was actually one of McDonald’s founder Ray Kroc’s earliest employees, starting at the counter and working his way up to become CEO in 1974. It’s an inspiring life story, proof that even you, with enough hard work, can get out of your dead-end minimum wage hellscape of a job and become one of the most success entrepreneurs in the country. I mean, not you personally, as you lack basic ambition and critical thinking skills. What company is looking for someone who can beat The Beatles: Rock Band on expert, or come up with exciting new things to make bongs out of? Honestly, the odds are just astronomically against you. It’s simple social Darwinism, really. If anything you should count yourself lucky you’ve lived this long without choking on a shoelace or something.

In the early days of the company, Mr. Turner could often be found working alongside employees in the restaurants, teaching new hires the McDonald’s approach to preparing and serving fast food. Only two years after his arrival, Mr. Turner wrote the first “operations and training manual,” which is still the blueprint for McDonald’s restaurant operations.

That’s right; McDonald’s has left the same manual sitting in the back room for over 50 years, which is also how they make a jar of Special Sauce. I hear the secret ingredient is sun-dried Grimace bits.

In 1961, Mr. Turner led the effort to create McDonald’s Hamburger University, where employees, managers and franchisees are trained.

Ah, good old Hamburger University! The only school where you can major in myocardial infarctions. You know, they say failure to gain tenure there is what turned the Hamburglar to a life of crime, but I think the deck was already kinda stacked against him with that name. At any rate, it was just another in a long line of savvy business decisions from the company that hired Jason Alexander in a Miami Vice blazer to sell you on the concept that McDonald’s employees shouldn’t have to bother assembling your sandwich for you. No wonder the HU Coronaries never make it to the Super Bowl.

 

Source: The Chicago Sun-Times

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1.11.13: Reddit Creator Aaron Swartz – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 6:43 pm January 22, 2013

 AARON_SWARTZAnti-SOPA rallies are a great place to pick up some of that legendary C++ programmer tail.

 

Reddit creator Aaron Swartz committed suicide earlier this month, which is one of the harder things for me to make stupid jokes about. Oh! Unless he did it by jumping into a pile of razor blades and Jarts! I could totally make some jokes about that! Wait, no. No, that’s definitely not how he did it. Alright then: Tragedy it remains.

For those of you who’ve never heard of Reddit, I’d first like to say “get out of my blog, mom! God!” For the rest of you, Reddit is the exciting new way to share pictures of your balls with strangers. Before Reddit I usually just faxed them to random numbers, like some kind of uncivilized animal. The worst part of that is you rarely ever get sincere feedback that way. How do you expect me to improve this stuff if you’re not even gonna be thoughtful enough to tell me where I need work? We were a lot less considerate in 2004.

He was a Harvard University fellow studying ethics when he was charged in 2011 with stealing nearly 5 million articles from a computer archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

He faced 13 felony charges, including wire fraud, computer fraud and unlawfully obtaining information from a protected computer. Prosecutors said he intended to distribute the articles on file-sharing websites.

Swartz’s advocacy for free information, of course, got twisted into some kind of weird justification to the Cool Ranchified basement dwellers of the internet that they should be allowed to just take whatever the hell they want because freedom.

Look, there’s definitely a legit discussion to be had about free information, but if you use that as an excuse to just flat-out take shit that costs people money to produce, and then try to frame it like you’re some counterculture revolutionary or impoverished victim of capitalism, I cannot emphasize enough how little you contribute to the world. I don’t care what that poster you read at Hot Topic said, that’s just stupid. At least exercise a *little* restraint. Who really needs to Bit Torrent all nine seasons of Night Court anyway? Everybody knows that shit was unwatchable after the 6th.

 

Source: The LA Times

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1.16.13: Pauline Phillips, AKA Dear Abby – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 6:44 pm January 18, 2013

PAULINE_PHILLIPSThough no one took any joy in it, eventually someone in 1997 had to tell Phillips that she had been futilely typing her columns onto an inkjet printer for the past six months.


As most of you know, I get almost all of my life advice from a combination of Archie comics and my racist uncle’s speeches about Hispanics. But for those of you less blessed, you may have resorted to the Dear Abby column at some sad, near-suicidal point in what can generously be called your life.

Back when fish wraps were known as “newspapers” and were used to communicate opinions and information about current events, Pauline Phillips wrote the column under the pseudonym Abigail Van Buren. She kept it up until Alzheimer’s Disease forced her retirement in 2002, which means there were people in the age of the internet who were perfectly happy to put important life decisions on hold for 3-5 weeks in the slim hope that an octogenarian that they’d never met would be able to come down from her Ditropan high long enough to pound out 2 lines of snarky advice. If possible, those people should definitely be on a list somewhere. It’s for their safety as much as ours.

Phillips died Wednesday in Minneapolis after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease, said Gene Willis, a publicist for the Universal Uclick syndicate.

“My mother leaves very big high heels to fill with a legacy of compassion, commitment and positive social change,” her daughter, Jeanne Phillips, who now writes the column, said in a statement.

Phillips’ twin sister Esther Friedman Lederer famously wrote the Ask Ann Landers column, and the two competed for the same coveted “invalid shut-ins, cuckolded husbands, and bored suburban teenagers who aren’t very good at pranks” demographic for almost 50 years. 50 years! The conflict resulted in decades of animosity between the sisters as Americans desperately struggled to care. It’s like the time Bill Paxton and Bill Pullman both opened acting schools right across the street from one another. So many have tried to help them patch that up, but neither one looks like they’re ever gonna budge.


Source: The Washington Post

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1.14.13: Conrad Bain, Mr. Drummond of Television’s “Diff’rent Strokes” – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:21 pm January 16, 2013

 CONRAD_BAINNot to be confused with Soviet-era Batman villain, Comrade Bane. I kinda feel like I should get the rest of the day off after that one.


Conrad Bain, who played Mr. Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes, died on Monday of natural causes, and if you’re worried that I’m gonna be disrespectful and make a lot of stupid jokes, or make it all about me somehow, then you obviously don’t know this blog as well as you think. See, one of the things I’m most known for, besides breaking up with exotic supermodels for having birthmarks larger than 1/8th of a square inch (sorry, baby, I can’t risk catching that), is tactfulness. With that in mind, please watch this very special episode of Diff’rent Strokes where the local bike shop owner turns out to be a child molester. It taught kids everywhere that if an adult is ever nice it probably means he plans to molest you. I’d go so far as it to say it inadvertently helped kick-start the fear-based media cycle that keeps us locked into unfounded paranoia, turning us into a nation of terrified, reactionary, and easily manipulated lemmings eager to be led off a cliff in the interest of an imagined safety. While the world spins into environmental chaos and political corruption my newsfeed is filled with unverified stories detailing new gang initiations and misattributed, fallacious political screeds about gun rights and domestic terrorism, carelessly reposted by people who STILL don’t know how to use Snopes even though it’s 20goddamn13. You have easy access to the internet, the most thorough and sophisticated source of information that any civilization has ever even conceived of, why can’t you check on these things first? Oh Christ my ear is bleeding. It’s a gusher, this is bad. This is seriously bad. Anyway, enjoy the show!






Okay, so, child molestation is bad, and I’m not just saying that because I’m required by court order to do so. But relatively speaking, it’s at least encouraging that he wasn’t excluding children of color. That show was pretty progressive for the 80s. I mean, I’m not advocating molesting children, I’m just saying that if you’re gonna do it *anyway* don’t be a bigot and consider children outside of your own race. Oh, so now *I’m* somehow being offensive? Fine, whatever. You guys are reacting just like those closed-minded fascists at the Make-A-Wish Foundation.



Source: The Chicago Tribune

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1.12.13: Newspaper Editor and Social Crusader Eugene Patterson – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:54 am January 15, 2013

 Eugene Patterson obituaryMaybe I’m just a bit more pious than Mr. Patterson, but I personally never browse Bang Bus while the Good Book is in the same room. But every generation does these things their own way, I suppose.

 

Newspaper editor Eugene Patterson died of cancer on Saturday, which works pretty well as a reminder of your own mortality. So you should really sit down this evening and finally get moving on that project you’ve been talking about doing for months, as long as it’s not starting up a death blog. I’ve already got that covered and truthfully I will fold instantly at the slightest sign of competition.

But Patterson was more than just a symbol for how little you’ve done with your life and how much your parents and peers are silently judging you at every turn. He also gave a shit about the seemingly un-give-a-shittable topic of not sounding like a goddamn chimp in your writing:

Gradually, he learned how to write. He read and learned what he called “the melody” of the written word, practiced it in the always-against-a-deadline world of the wire services, and then fine-tuned it as a daily columnist in Atlanta.

Years later in St. Petersburg, as a prominent figure in American journalism and supervisor of dozens of reporters, Mr. Patterson bridled at what he called the graceless writing in most newspapers.

“I’ve always had a short temper when it comes to seeing a poorly written paper,” he said. “This is our job. If we can’t use the language, who can?”

This is as good a time as any to note that whatever typos or poor syntax you find on this blog really fall on the shoulders of Bakulu, the Voodoo spirit loa that does all of the actual typing for me. Originally I just conjured him up to help me get out of some unpaid speeding tickets, but we got to talking and it turned out we had a lot in common, so it just seemed like a natural fit.

When Mr. Patterson was arrested in 1976 for driving while intoxicated, he ordered that it be reported on Page 1A. Most DWI arrests are not mentioned by the Times, and Mr. Patterson’s subordinates argued that, at most, his arrest warranted only a few paragraphs somewhere in the local section.

Mr. Patterson was adamant, however. The editor of a newspaper has “to be able to say for the rest of his life, ‘I put myself on Page 1, so you can’t ask me not to put you there,’ ” he said.

That’s some serious integrity, and it really speaks to his commitment to truth and transparency. Although that makes it especially odd that he wasn’t willing to pay me for my shocking exposé about how MedicAlert bracelets don’t do anything but send social security numbers to the Iranian government. He said I had to have “evidence,” and I haven’t looked it up yet but I think that’s one of those words from medieval times that people use just to sound smart.


Source: The Tampa Bay Times

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1.9.13: Balcony Lap Dancer – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:18 am January 11, 2013

CHRISTIES_CABARETCome to Christie’s Cabaret, where drug lords meet to discuss murder plots in movies about dystopian futures!

 

I don’t know much about these things because I’m usually tied up with my Christian praise band on the weekends, but apparently a ‘strip club’ is a place where a group of gentlemen can go to become sexually aroused and then try to withhold release. It’s sorta like a game of Ejaculate Chicken, except that nobody wins. Nobody ever, ever wins.

After spending a week in critical condition at the MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, exotic dancer Lauren Block succumbed to injuries she sustained after hitting her head in a 15-foot fall from a strip club balcony.

You know what would prevent tragedies like this in the future? Suicide nets. I mean, it could kill that legendary hopeful ambiance that strip clubs are known for, but when those girls finally get that Associate’s Degree in General Studies they’ll thank me.

Alright, look; I’m not gonna make fun of a young woman who was simply trying to do the best job she could. If the stockboys at Target cared half as much as she did about putting her customers at ease then maybe I wouldn’t feel awkward asking them if there’s such a thing as gluten-free Preparation H. I have… highly-specific problems.

At any rate, the cockblockers at OSHA are planning an investigation into the club’s safety measures, or at least that’s the excuse they’ll be using for spending two weeks at a strip club. I can’t really blame them; It’s Cleveland. Your entertainment options are pretty limited. It’s basically go to a strip club, take a crystal meth cooking class, or visit the Krispy Kreme that Drew Carey grew up in. It’s like Disneyland for people who want to kill themselves but just need a little more convincing.



Source: Gawker

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1.7.13: Journalist Richard Ben Cramer – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:22 pm January 9, 2013

RICHARD_BEN_CRAMERCramer begins his physical transformation in preparation of going deep undercover as a member of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

 

Whenever I solemnly put on my trenchcoat and fedora it usually just means I’m planning to expose myself to single mothers on the bus again. But today I’m doing it for a less sexy reason; as a tribute to reporter Richard Ben Cramer, who died due to complications from lung cancer on Monday. I might still do the bus thing later today, though.

Before the Geraldoization of America, serious journalists like me and Richard Ben Cramer dug deep to get the hard truths about the world we live in, sitting down with those in power to ask the burning questions, like “why do you guys act like such anal prolapses about everything?” or “I didn’t do any research, can you tell me who you are?” or “have you read my blog? It’s super funny, I bet you’d like it.” You know, the kinds of things real Americans want answers to.

Perhaps the most unorthodox thing in any of Mr. Cramer’s books appears — or, more precisely, does not appear — at the end of [Cramer’s book about 1988 presidential election] “What It Takes.” The book has no index, an omission insisted upon, in a kind of gleeful malice aforethought, by Mr. Cramer himself.

“For years I watched all these Washington jerks, all these Capitol Hill, executive-branch, agency wiseguys and reporters go into, say, Trover bookstore, take a political book off the shelf, look up their names, glance at the page and put the book back,” Mr. Cramer told The New York Times in 1992. “Washington reads by index, and I wanted those people to read the damn thing.”

That’s pretty clever, but you have to be careful when messing with people’s expectations like that. When I thought I wasn’t given any credit in Diary of a Wimpy Kid I was *this close* to pipe bombing that B. Dalton’s on the spot. Just decimating everything and everyone in there. But then I saw that I was mentioned in the dedication and I just laughed and laughed. It really was your classic story of overcoming adversity. Hey! That would make a good book, too! Writing is easy!

 

Source: The New York Times

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