This Day in Death

11.27.13: Northern Darwin’s Frog – DEAD! Or “EXTINCT!,” I Guess.

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:17 am November 27, 2013

NORTHERN_DARWIN'S_FROGWell, at least we can rule out “being too handsome for nature” as a cause of death. YOU JUST GOT SLAMMED, YOU SLIMEY RHINODERMATID POINDEXTER! Actually, he died from a fungal disease called chytridiomycosis and we respectfully regret the loss.



You know, here at the TDiD we care about the environment, and also sometimes don’t have much to write about. Those two things seem to have a serious correlation going on, I should look into what that’s about. Anyway, when eco-guilt and barrel-scraping bodyslam each other we sometimes like to acknowledge that animals die, too. Oh sure, they may not be dying the romantic death of a wealthy, human-trafficking sheik who just got ambushed by a father out to rescue his abducted daughter amidst a hail of broken glass and catchphrases, but they’re out there dying pointless deaths just the same. Maybe they fell off a cliff because they’re stupid, or flew into a closed window because they’re moronic, or maybe they caught some weird fungal disease, like the Northern Darwin’s frog just did. Not very glamorous, but at least there’s some exclusivity to it; very few species have ever died out via infection. The last known example being, of course, the North American Spotted Herpes sheep. Yes, we all enjoyed kissing them at the petting zoo, but little did we know we were actually kissing them goodbye.

Chytrid disease, caused by the fungus Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis (Bd), has been killing amphibians worldwide during the past two decades. An outbreak of the illness was first discovered in frogs in Queensland, Australia, in 1993, although it may have been present in other amphibian species for longer.

Fun fact: Male Darwin frogs keep their tadpoles in their vocal pouch until they’re old enough to jump out of the mouth and leave their father, probably to go backpacking through Europe and really “find themselves.” They’re the creepy nesting dolls of nature. Not that any of that matters anymore, since the Northern species is dead and the Southern is on the ropes. You probably should’ve appreciated them more while they were still around, like cargo shorts. Yes sir, not much you couldn’t carry with you in a good pair of cargo shorts. Your keys. Maybe some trail mix for later. Assorted coins. A small flashlight. A pair of sunglasses if you didn’t want to just hang them from the front of your shirt while you’re not wearing them. Probably one or two other things.



Source: National Geographic

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11.20.13: Psychic Hoaxer Sylvia Browne – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 5:36 pm November 22, 2013

SYLVIA_BROWNEIf you want to be made uncomfortable in a way that’s not unlike looking through a photo album curated by a serial killer, go ahead and image search Sylvia Browne’s face. Seriously, go do it and then let me know how long you were able to gaze at that scrolling wall of dead-eyed Skeletors before checking to see if Amazon sells any kind of bleach that can be applied to your mortal soul. As a result of that very specific trauma, here’s a screencap of Eric Cartman fending off an attack from a group of television psychics instead.

 

Self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne is dead today, and it looks like all of those anger management classes I’ve been taking are about to go right out the fucking window because that lady was a bitchface with a capital ‘evil cunt.’

Look, no one would like the world to be overrun with psychics and ghosts and remote viewers and lizard people more than me. Quiet frankly shit has gotten pretty boring while we all wait for 3D printers to become commonplace enough that we can make our own cockrings at home, far away from the judgmental stares of haughty sex shop part-timers. It’d really jazz civilization up to know that the X-Men have been walking among us this whole time. But—and I’m going to be sensitive about this so as not to offend those readers who truly have sound reasons for believing in the paranormal—it’s all bullshit, nobody’s ever been able to objectively verify any of this stuff under scrutiny, your beliefs are stupid, you’re probably not very attractive, and I slept with your girlfriend. Okay, things kinda got away from me at the end there. I apologize.

Browne made millions by trotting her “Is Courtney Love melting or did someone put clown makeup on a walrus?” face onto television and freestyling predictions to grieving parents about the whereabouts of their missing children. Which would be a pretty socially conscious thing to do, if every single prediction hadn’t proved to either be totally wrong or too vague to be given any credence. At that point most people would spend some time alone in a dark room considering the possibility that they may’ve mixed up “psychic” with “crazy person who sees shit that’s not there,” but Browne had the support of fellow emotional profiteer/only black guy who can’t make a shaved head look cool Montel Williams, who had her on his show weekly for 17 deliciously exploitatious years. Plus, Montel’s head kinda looks like a buttcheek, which I can’t help but think is really the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of his scruples.

How inaccurate were Browne’s predictions? She actually incorrectly predicted her own death, stating unequivocally she wouldn’t die for another 11 years. Think about that for a second: Declaring your own date of death is literally the only significant and specific prediction that every single person with a functioning knowledge of how Tylenol overdosing works can successfully predict with pinpoint accuracy, and it requires no psychic powers whatsoever. Statistically speaking, Sylvia Browne could’ve actually been a more effective psychic without having actually been a psychic. It’s like a Möbius strip of logic, eternally doubling back onto itself until common sense simply collapses from exhaustion.

In fairness, most of us have, at one time or another, spent years using national platforms to instill false hope and/or grief for money and fame. Look, I was a teenager once too, I get it: I’ve recorded my fair share of 9/11 songs just like everybody else. Boys and opportunistic hucksters will be boys, right? But there’s also the matter of Browne’s history of shady investments dealings that funneled stolen revenue to her psychic “research foundation.” I’ve had hobos on the bus trying to sell me bags of their own bodily fluids with more credibility than this lady. Scamming people was so deeply encoded into her DNA that I’d only be marginally surprised if her death turned out to be a hoax to sell luxury caskets with improved lumbar support. If anything, I’d actually be cool with that one; all that lying down is really gonna play hell with my sciatica after a good three or four hundred years.


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11.17.13: Author Doris Lessing – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:40 pm November 19, 2013

DORIS_LESSINGThere are already a lot of Nobel Prize jokes later in this post, so I’m not gonna dwell on the fact that that tacky box looks like Flavor Flav’s grill turned sideways. Restraint!



Novelist and social justice advocate Doris Lessing died Sunday, which will bother you a lot less if you’re racist and/or illiterate. So go ahead and take a long lunch, Alabama.

If you’ve ever been in some of the rougher hoods of ghettos like San Diego or Charlotte, NC, you’ve undoubtedly overheard some of the local gangbangers/book clubs refer to Lessing as a “peerless observer of the world she inhabits” and an “OG bitch who didn’t give a straight fuck.” Don’t mess with those guys unless you’re prepared to be shivved with the corner of a first edition copy of Wurthering Heights, is all I’m saying.

Among the bridges Lessing burned:

…the writer briskly rejected the label most frequently attached to her: feminist icon — particularly when applied to her 1962 novel, The Golden Notebook.

“Oh, it’s just stupid; I’ve seen it so often,” she said. “I mean, there’s nothing feminist about The Golden Notebook. The second line is: ‘As far as I can see, everything is cracking up.’ That is what The Golden Notebook is about!”

Lessing once refused to allow the Queen to declare her a dame of the British Empire, because — in the author’s words — “There is no British Empire.”

[NPR]

Oh, what’s that, Sweden? You want a taste, too? HERE COMES THE HAMMER OF MARGINALLY IMPOLITE OPEN-ENDED CRITICISM!

After learning she had won [the Nobel Prize], she said she was “very glad” but recalled that in the 1960s she had been told the Nobel Prize committee did not like her and she would never win one.

“So now they’ve decided they’re going to give it to me. So why? I mean, why do they like me any better now than they did then?” she said. [BBC]

Lessing also referred to her winning the award as a “disaster” for her writing. I know how that goes, which is why I keep prematurely sending letters to the Nobel committee declining to be considered for one. For me, the whole ceremony really lost its luster when they gave Larry the Cable Guy the Prize for “Gittin’ ‘Er Done.” Why the hell was Prilosec allowed to create their own Nobel category in the first place?

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11.2.13: Sociologist Clifford Nass – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:01 pm November 13, 2013

CLIFFORD_NASSIs that the new Grand Theft Auto?! I dunno, I think it looks pretty good. All those pedestrians and other cars in the old games really made it hard for me to get around the city, I just sat in traffic the whole time I was playing. I really don’t get what you guys liked about it so much.

 

Hey! HEY! Look over here! Did you know you’re terrible at doing things? It’s true! But it’s not really your fault: You just have no focus. That part is your fault, though, so I guess it’s kinda your fault after all. Point is, science dork Clifford Nasswho passed away recently, thanks for askingbelieved that you’re multitasking too much and it’s turned your brain into a soft, doughy mush. I have to admit, I think he was onto something. Your business cat photoshops have been pretty weak lately.

…[W]orrisome to Nass was his finding that people who regularly jumped into four or more information streams had a tougher time concentrating on just one thing even when they weren’t multitasking. By his estimate, “the top 25%” of Stanford’s students were in that category.

In a 2011 lecture at the university, Nass said writing samples from freshman multitaskers showed a tendency toward shorter sentences and disconnected paragraphs.

“We see less complex ideas,” he said. “They’re living and writing in a staccato world.”

“We could essentially be undermining the thinking ability of our society,” he said. “We could essentially be dumbing down the world.”

Alright, well, because I’m both open-minded and dangerously suggestible, I’ll give it a try. In honor of the guy whose name I forgot because I was texting dick pix while reading about his death, I’m going to cool it with the multitasking: From now on, I’m only allowing my body to use one vital function at a time. Nervous system? Get in line, you veiny schmuck, it’s respiratory’s time to shine! And do I really need both a reproductive system and an endocrine system? Too many cooks, if you ask me. Let’s just merge that into a single “gettin’ busy” system. Also, the integumentary system may just be completely made up, so I’m only letting it operate on weekends and holidays, when the rest of the body is closed anyway. Man, I feel better already. We’re talking about critical health here, you’ve got to focus your energy or you might send a lung down your colon or something. It happens. Believe me, it happens.



Source: The LA Times

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10.25.13: Stuntman and Director Hal Needham – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:22 am November 5, 2013

HAL_NEEDHAMAnd to think that dog had a B.F.A. from Juilliard. Sure, maybe an M.F.A. would’ve opened a few more doors, but when you consider that he only lived 11 years it’s downright miraculous.

 

Legendary Hollywood stuntman Hal Needham, the man with the passion for crashin’, the Michael Caine of the shoulder sprain, the Eric Schmidt of falling onto shit, has died at the age of 82. Well, not to sound callous, but what did you expect? An 82-year old shouldn’t be performing stunts in the first damn place. Just let today’s young idiots do it, they’re practically invincible anyway. What with their Monster energy drinks and their parkour and their pumpable sneakers those kids are just about superheroes now, pass the torch already.

Needham helped design a number of devices aimed at making stunts both safer and more spectacular, including a pressure-plate gizmo that could hurl an actor into the air as a car seemed to hit him or an explosion went off nearby. In 1986, he and collaborator William L. Frederick received the academy’s Scientific and Engineering Award for developing the Shotmaker Elite camera car and crane, an invention used for more efficient shooting of action sequences.

Despite contributing his own technological innovations to filmmaking, Needham remained a staunch opponent of the rise of CG special effects up until his death. It’s arguably a little hypocritical, and I have to imagine that he would’ve changed his tune had he been following the Transformers franchise. I mean, in some scenes you can kinda tell Megan Fox isn’t a real person, but how the other actors pretend they’re not just talking to a dude in a green suit is pretty impressive. It’s Andy Serkis’ best work, if you ask me.

Needham would go on to direct such films as Smokey and the Bandit, The Cannonball Run, and Stroker Ace, the only film that shares its name with its own porn parody.

 

Source: The LA Times

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10.25.13: ‘Simpsons’ Voice Actor Marcia Wallace – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:08 am November 1, 2013

MARCIA_WALLACESo this is how my childhood begins to die. Huh. I always figured there’d be an Eve 6 ballad playing in the background or something.

 

Sassy television actor Marcia Wallace passed away last week due to complications related to pneumonia. Wallace starred in The Bob Newhart Show and The Merv Griffin Show, but those of us who aren’t thousand-year-old mummymen know Wallace best as the voice of delightfully slutty Springfield Elementary teacher Edna Krabapple on The Simpsons. Wallace is the show’s first regular voice actor to pass, making it all the harder for me to continue denying the inevitability of a bleak, Hans Moleman-less future. Goddammit, that football hit him right in the groin! I swear, if God takes that away from us I’ll have no choice but to continue coming up with excuses not to go to church.

She had numerous TV appearances, and is remembered by “Brady Bunch” fans as the saleswoman who sold middle sister Jan a black wig in an infamous episode about accepting who you are. Other shows on her resume include “Charles in Charge,” “ALF,” “A Different World,” “Magnum, P.I.” and “The Young & The Restless.”

Oof. Alright, maybe the prescription in my nostalgia specs needs to be updated, but I’m just gonna say it: Those shows were weapons-grade terrible. Most of the writing is so lazy it makes this stupid blog look like Steinbeck in comparison (for which I’m grateful, actually). Seriously, in Charles in Charge they just went ahead and named the main character’s best friend “Buddy.” ALF was like someone detonated a box of gimmicks on a television set, and The Brady Bunch was clearly a coded message promoting incest, which I just don’t feel is appropriate at all. The final straw was A Different World, which, despite its title, appeared to be set entirely on Earth. I assume it’s only because they ran out of money to build the sets, but that’s still pretty misleading.


Source: NBC News

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