This Day in Death

5.18.13: Russian Director Aleksei Balabanov – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:29 pm May 28, 2013

ALEKSEI_BALABANOV“The title kinda sounds like someone saying ‘boner’ with a Boston accent, so I liked it pretty good.” -Leonard Maltin (quoted from memory)


Grizzly Russian film director Aleksei Balabanov is dead today due to complications related to being a grizzly Russian film director. It seems like it catches up with all of them eventually.

I have to admit, it’d be really hard to talk about his films without having actually, you know… seen any of them. It’d be like reviewing unicorn porn or bathing daily, it’s just something I have no frame of reference for. So I could either spend a couple of hours doing some research, or I could just drop in a block quote and then go watch videos of dogs saying “I love you” on command. Maybe if Balabanov’s movies had a few more affectionate puppies and a little less existential dread this wouldn’t be such an easy decision for me. Just sayin.

In 16 films, Mr. Balabanov offered a world of hit men, shamelessly corrupt officials and corpses upon corpses in a cinematic pastiche reminiscent of the work of Quentin Tarantino in artistic achievement and exuberantly brash taste. In his 2005 film, “Blind Man’s Bluff,” a pair of hit men steal five kilos of heroin from their boss during Russia’s “Wild West” 1990s, when anything-goes-capitalism was sweeping away Communism. They then exchange their leather jackets for dark suits and jobs in the Kremlin bureaucracy.

For those considering a vacation/forced expatriation, Russia falls into that sweet spot of places that are total hellholes, but are still better than all those weird Middle Eastern countries that are cool with dating 12-year olds. Don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about. Oh, and they eat cold tomato soup for, like, every single meal. Really! It’s blood red hue and icy temperature are even represented in the colors of their flag. It’s pretty messed up. I dunno, I wouldn’t go. I heard Lee Harvey Oswald used to live there, if that makes any difference for you.


Source: The NY Times

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5.14.13: Con Artist/General Dick Billie Sol Estes – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:18 pm May 24, 2013

BILLIE_SOL_ESTESOften forgotten amongst his other crimes was the time in 1994 when Estes stole the entire set from a Fancy Feast commercial. What a monster!


Billie Sol Estes, 60’s con artist and conspirator, died last week at the age of 88. AARP, who described Estes as a “wheeler-dealer” because using a term that anyone has heard in the past 60 years would just be stupid, issued the following summary from beneath their funny-smelling afghans. Ha! They’re old and I’m not!

He concocted a scheme that enabled him to steal $24 million from finance companies by getting them to write mortgages on nonexistent fertilizer tanks on farms, and a second cabal to swindle farmers out of federal cotton subsidies. Eventually, in 1965, he was convicted on federal mail fraud and conspiracy charges and sentenced to prison, but not before the Kennedy administration was scandalized by his connections with Agriculture Department officials and then-Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson, to whom he claimed to have slipped vast amounts of cash — though the allegation was never proven.

Fascinating. Of course, this being the internet and all, even a story that involves presidential bribery and actual bullshit can’t outshine literally anything involving cats:

His case caused a feline exhumation. The federal government believed Estes had stashed millions of dollars in ill-gotten gains, though they never were able to put their hands on the money. But it wasn’t for lack of trying. After learning that Estes had buried a friend’s cat in the early 1970s, government agents dug it up, in hopes that he had concealed money in the grave[.]

That… is dark. But, as usual, I think I have an elegant solution to prevent this kind of embarrassment in the future. You see, surprisingly, this blog has only paid out approximately $0.00 to date, so until those internet checks stop getting lost in the mail I’ve been earning some extra scratch by renting out my lawn as a pet cemetery. So if you’re looking for assurance that you beloved companion will be allowed to rest in undisturbed eternal peace then you can trust in the solemn dignity afforded by a guy who runs a deathblog, because I personally promise that if I ever exhume your pet it will NOT be because of government intervention, some weird sex thing, or to use their corpse to stage a little playlet about cats exploring outer space. And that guarantee is IRONCLAD, period!


Source: AARP

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5.20.13: Doors’ Keyboardist Ray Manzarek – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:14 am May 22, 2013

RAY_MANZAREKThe Doors were generally accepted as the finest Aldous Huxley-referencing band of their time, even beating out fellow famed 60s rock icons Johnny Humanist and the Three-Day Mescaline Benders.


Ray Manzarek, keyboard player for The Doors (the band, not the popular entry mechanism) is dead today after a long struggle with bile duct cancer. That’s right; Cancer can even strike parts of your body that you assumed only sea monsters in Clive Barker novels had. By way of tribute, USA Today cranked their usual USA Todayedness up to new, borderline autistic levels with an article that could only be headlined, “Ray Manzarek’s Keyboards Opened Musical Doors.” You just know one lucky cub reporter is gonna have some serious smiley face sticker action on their Achievement Board this week.

“I was deeply saddened to hear about the passing of my friend and bandmate,” said Doors guitarist Robby Krieger in a statement. “Ray was a huge part of my life and I will always miss him.”

I dunno, rock stars really aren’t supposed to make it to 74 to begin with. They’re supposed to teach us new and exciting ways to inject mind-altering substances into our bodies until no later than the age of 34, so as not to risk letting the whole thing start to become embarrassing. To wit: In an alternate reality a 46-year old Kurt Cobain is tirelessly writing jingles for Verizon as part of a cross-platform synergestic advertainment strategy. The fact that Manzarek got as old as he did without playing the “Light My Fire” solo to a hibachi in a Kingsford Charcoal commercial should be counted as a goddamn miracle.



Source: USA Today

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5.16.13: NASCAR Driver Dick Trickle – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 4:33 am May 18, 2013

DICK_TRICKLEHey! You got some Dick Trickle on your racing onesie! Tee hee!


Dick Trickle… Welp, it’s important to know when you’re beat: I won’t be able to top that name with my usual batch of stupid pop culture references any time soon, so I’m calling it a half-day. Goodnight, Internet!

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5.13.13: Dr. Joyce Brothers – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:30 am May 15, 2013

JOYCE_BROTHERSBrothers, seen here debuting the perfect transitional wardrobe choice for anyone contemplating a career move from rodeo clown to Atlantic City pimp.


Doctor That’s Surprisingly an Actual Doctor Joyce Brothers is dead this week at the age of 85. I know you all want me to say something snarky and dismissive about her career, but I’m gonna try and have some respect about this one. See, Brothers was the first to publicly disseminate my favorite tool for self-improvement on a national scale: Short, largely meaningless, vaguely existential nuggets of feel-good conventional wisdom without any of the soul searching or personal sacrifice necessary for anything but the most surface level psychological housekeeping. Like this stuff:

“The best proof of love is trust.”

“Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.”

“When you come right down to it, the secret of having it all is loving it all.”

“Love comes when manipulation stops; when you think more about the other person than about his or her reactions to you. When you dare to reveal yourself fully. When you dare to be vulnerable.”

“A strong, positive self-image is the best possible preparation for success.”

“Marriage is not just spiritual communion, it is also remembering to take out the trash.”

Seriously, what does any of that even mean? I can’t actually apply any of that to my life in any sort of pragmatic way, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling better about myself just by embroidering it on a throw pillow. With that kind of efficiency I can quickly dismiss the periodic flare-ups of shame about the horrible person I’ve gradually devolved into and get back to my lifestyle of bitchin’ debauchery and stealing shoes from homeless people. The key is to wait til the summer when they’re too dehydrated to fight back, it’s not supposed to be a struggle.


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5.7.13: Special Effects Wizard Ray Harryhausen – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:38 am May 13, 2013

imageHarryhausen also pulled in supplemental income by designing football mascots in his spare time. The kids at Poughkeepsie Junior High weren’t crazy about being known as the Godless Abominations at first, but that sweet 6-9 record speaks for itself.


So apparently Ray Harryhausen, who spent decades creating amazingly convincing low-tech special effects for films, died in London on Tuesday. I say “apparently” because it’s possible he just faked his death using clay mockups and forced perspective. That would be funnier if you already knew who he was, stop making me do your legwork.

Harryhausen’s trademark “Dynamation” brought bizarre monsters and fantastical worlds to life using practical effects long before the advent of CGI. As a testament to his skills, in the mid-80s Harryhausen created a fiberglass model so lifelike that movie studios proceeded to give it starring roles in over 40 Hollywood films under the name Mickey Rourke. It’s a modern Pinocchio story!

To make “The Three Worlds of Gulliver” (1959), which required combining footage of giant and tiny live actors in the same shot, Mr. Harryhausen went to Britain to take advantage of the “traveling matte” system developed by the Rank Organization, and he then decided to live and work there permanently.

Along with the mythical adventures, more gigantic prehistoric animals were to come in “Mysterious Island,” “One Million Years B.C.” and “The Valley of Gwangi,” a dinosaurs-in-the-Old-West fantasy that Willis O’Brien had started to develop in the 1940s and that Mr. Harryhausen brought to fruition in 1969, seven years after Mr. O’Brien’s death. He also turned to outer space with “First Men in the Moon” in 1964.

Those names are great. I miss the days when movie titles would explicitly telling you what you were getting. When you watched The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms you could rest assured you weren’t gonna have to sit through some metaphorical bullshit about how geopolitical tension is the real beast. You were gonna see some pissed off water monster beasting shit up like a champ. Nowadays that kind of forwardness is pretty much only seen in porno. Butthole Divas 7 tells me way more about what I’m getting than The Iron Lady‘s title does. It tells me there are six other movies I need to watch first, for instance.


Source: The New York Times

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3.24.13: Sex Retreat Pioneer John Williamson – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:52 am May 7, 2013

JOHN_WILLIAMSONAlright, fine, I’ll admit this is making me pretty envious: Those linens look soft as hell. What are those, like, 600 thread count or something? That’s gotta feel like dragging your scrotum across a river of applesauce.


I try not to brag too much around here, but I’ve seen upwards of several women naked, in person. Most of them were even aware of it at the time, so I think it’s safe to say I have a very sophisticated attitude about sex. And it’s that sophistication that makes me eminently qualified to report on the death of John Williamson, who co-founded the controversial “free love” Sandstone Retreat with his wife in 1968, with the proper level of maturity.

Williamson actually died way back in March, but it seems that the press waited until last week to report on it. It was actually a pretty thoughtful approach, gradually easing us into the rather painful news, instead of just ramming the story down our throats, only caring about increasing circulation until they just carelessly spray ink all over our masthead. Wait, I said something about maturity back there, didn’t I? Shit. Alright, well… This sudden feeling of shame that I can’t seem to understand is really making me want to just ignore what just happened and move on. So let’s get Block Quote in here while I try to clean this place up.

[The Sandstone Retreat] offered seminars on human bonding, relationships and sexuality, but its Sandstone Retreat, where as many as 500 people would gather on weekends to frolic in the nude, swap spouses and engage in group sex, quickly made its existence in the bohemian canyon notorious.

After an effort to build a tribal community in Montana foundered, the couple moved to the San Francisco Bay area, then to Nevada. There they began to take in big cats whose owners wanted to get rid of them.

Huh. So I guess that old proverb is true: “It doesn’t matter if you’re the founder of a swinger’s resort or a frumpy spinster in her early 30s, you’re still gonna end up childless and living with a bunch of cats.” I had always just kinda assumed that was supposed to be metaphorical.

Source: Yahoo! News

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5.1.13: Kris Kross’ Chris Kelly – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 11:16 pm May 2, 2013

CHRIS_KELLYWait, so… who’s supposed to be destroying whose credibility here?


You know, ever since five minutes ago when I figured out that Kris Kross were the backwards clothes guys and not the House Party guys, I’ve been a big fan of their work. It’s hard not to be; Before Snoop came along and scared all the well-meaning white people away by braiding his hair, we were all enjoying a golden era of hip hopketeering. The Fat Boys were giving us hardcore raps about how much fun it was to eat pizza with your friends while A Tribe Called Quest made us all briefly curious as to who A Tribe Called Quest was. And, of course, Kris Kross convinced us all to wear our clothes backwards despite my mom explicitly telling me that there was no point in wearing custom slacks with shin guards if I was just gonna turn them around anyway. Look, you can either be cool for three months in 1992 or you can spend the rest of your life not having to cope with agonizing shin splints. I made my choice, but, as usual, parents just don’t understand.


Chris Kelly, half of the 1990s kid rap duo Kris Kross who made one of the decade’s most memorable songs with the frenetic “Jump,” died at an Atlanta hospital on Wednesday of an apparent drug overdose at his home, authorities said. He was 34.

Wow. He basically hadn’t worked since he was 16 but still had enough walking around money for overdose levels of drugs? Somebody must’ve made some smart investments in the late 90s. Maybe he put a lot into a high-yield mutual fund, or a sensible Roth IRA, both of which would really start paying out dividends for him right about now. It makes for a good story to help explain to youngsters about how saving for a financially stable future is what’s really “fresh” on the “streets.” I mean, up until the overdose part. If you’re putting together a motivational speech you should probably leave stuff like that out.


Source: USA Today

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