This Day in Death

2.24.14: Harold Ramis – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 3:57 am February 26, 2014

HAROLD_RAMISLong admired as one of the nicest people in the industry, Ramis was even kind enough to put both Jack Black and Michael Cera in the same terrible movie just so that we could avoid both of them at once. That’s a real timesaver!


Harold Ramis, director of such classic comedies as Ghostbusters, Groundhog Day, Stripes and more, has died at the age of 69. Ramis was a Chicago native, and fans of his in the Windy City are probably feeling rocked harder than a car going over a recently-formed pothole on the Edens because for fuck’s sake Chicago I’m not made of suspension systems. Look, I paid for your scam parking stickers and your scam parking meters and your scam traffic cameras with the dangerously-short yellow lights that are just begging to cause a pile-up. I generally even shut up about your street sweeping scam that you don’t put up notifications about until the middle of the goddamn night before, making sure I always get those awesome tickets that attach right to my window with that kind of glue that won’t wash off for months just so you can get a little bit more dickishness in there under the wire. The least you could do is fill in a little tar to keep me from falling to Mongolia via one of your ever-increasing collection of mammoth sinkholes. I know you’re busy with your packed schedule of political corruption and pissing off the Greek god Boreas to ensure that the winter doesn’t end til fucking July, but the sooner you lend a hand to the thousands of clinically insane people locked into a four-hour commute (on your highway system that, nearest I can tell, was designed by some sort of congestion-fueled space demon that’s never seen a road before) the sooner we can all get back to the glorious luxury of residing in your thousand-dollar-a-nanosecond cost of living distopia. You know what, whatever. Just fuck it, and fuck your pointless silver bean and fuck your stupid Ditka mustaches and fuck the nine people the Yellow Line exists for.

And so, that’s probably how film buffs in Chicago are feeling right now.

With his round glasses lending a professorial air, Ramis would become the calm center of storms brewed by fellow actors, playing the bushy-haired, low-key wisecracker to Bill Murray’s troublemaker in “Stripes” and being the most scientific-minded “Ghostbuster.”

You know, in the movie, the Ghostbusters were considered kind of a joke at first, but it’s worth noting that they were way more successful than those Ghost Hunters idiots. At least the ‘Busters caught a few things, and those guys were just fictional characters. The ghost hunters are real people who have yet to actually catch a ghost in 200 episodes. When you’ve never once been able to do the thing that’s right there in your job title it’s time to call up a temp agency or something. If I hired a building contractor to build me a house, and he agreed to build me said house, but then, instead of a house, he built me a jet ski, and then I gave him 200 more chances to build my house, and he just kept building me jet skis, he’s no longer a contractor. He’s just fired.

Source: Chicago Tribune

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2.3.14: Porn Star and Magazine Publisher Gloria Leonard – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 3:47 pm February 24, 2014

GLORIA_LEONARDI like my women like I like my Blues Traveler frontmen: with a staple right through the stomach.

Like moving to Canada if the candidate you don’t happen to agree with wins, sex is one of those things that everyone always talks about but nobody actually does. As every girlfriend I’ve ever had has made the painstaking effort to explain to me, it’s just one of those things people talk about to kill time at restaurants and airport bathrooms, nobody’s seriously going through with it. Nobody, that is, except those courageous stars of pornographic films. Every day, they’re suffering the humiliations of exposed back flab and poorly-executed fluid arc trajectories so that we don’t have to. They’re truly heroes among men, like firefighters who don’t pussy out by wearing a bunch of bulky clothes on the job. Not very sexy, Lieutenant.

Today, the world is short one more psychologically well-adjusted hero; porn star Gloria Leonard, who passed away recently after a stroke. I mean, like, a cerebrovascular accident, not… well, you know.

Leonard made her debut in 1974’s The Opening of Misty Beethoven, which must’ve been a prequel to those other movies because I didn’t see any St. Bernards in it anywhere. Charles Grodin was definitely there, though. I respect the continuity.

Ms. Leonard’s background in public relations, as well as her high profile on screen, led to her hiring as the publisher of the men’s magazine High Society in 1977, a job she held for more than a decade while continuing to appear in and direct films.

Already seasoned in a number of professions, Leonard didn’t appear in porn until she was well into her 30s. Continuing to appear in films into her mid-40s, she proved that vaginas don’t have expiration dates after all. So it’s never too late, lady who played Mona on Who’s the Boss?. Come on, this fanfic isn’t gonna make itself come true.

Source: The NY Times

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2.17.14: Devo’s Bob Casale – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:00 am February 19, 2014

BOB_CASALEMark Mothersbaugh removes his energy dome for two and only two reasons: the playing of the national anthem and weekly fungal scalp infection treatments. Those domes are filthy.


One of the Devo dudes is dead, which is a surprisingly fun-sounding way to deliver sad news. I’ve really been looking for silver linings lately. Huh. I guess all those Tony Robbins seminars are finally starting to sink in.

Bob Casale played rhythm guitar and/or keyboards on every Devo record in the band’s history. He appeared on such monster hits as Whip It and That Other One, I Think They Used it in a Commercial or Something, You’d Know it if You Heard It. For my money, it’s just not a real all-ages dance party in my aunt’s basement until she cranks that one up.

The original members of Devo grew up in Akron, Ohio, and were inspired form a band after personally witnessing the Kent State massacre in 1970. “We came of age in the middle of a huge cultural war. This country was basically in the midst of a new civil war — the lines were drawn very clearly,” Bob Casale said in a 2012 interview with Under the Radar. “[We formed the band because] it was a more immediate way of self-expression that required less money and no outside permission. You try to make a film and you have to come up with the money, you need a big crew, you need to ask people for favors and get permission. If you have an idea for a song you can pretty much go into your basement with your band mates and do it.”

Devo’s name comes from a joke that band members Gerald Casale and Bob Lewis developed in art school, asserting that humanity is evolving backwards, or “devolving.” However, since the concept of evolution refers to any and all biological adaptation, and therefore has nothing to do with how intelligent a given species is, the term “devolution” is practically meaningless and borderline nonsensical. Ironically, in telling us how stupid we were becoming, Devo was actually building their image around an entirely accidental misunderstanding of a basic scientific premise. You could try to claim the band knew all this and was just being hyperaware, but I’m chalking it up to the kind of uninformed intellectual flailing that’s launched a thousand grammatically-mangled Facebook reposts. And that’s why, when someone with an art degree tells you that they “wanna open your eyes about some things going on in the world lately,” you just tell them to get back to painting your shed. The sun’s going down and you’re not dragging a lamp out there.

Source: Rolling Stone

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2.12.14: Comedy Legend Sid Caesar – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:48 am February 17, 2014

SID_CAESARI don’t care if you’re a comedy icon, I’m not taking you seriously until you fix that hat.


Sid Caesar, the legendary comedian behind the massively influential Your Show of Shows, has died at the age of 91. Your Show of Shows aired on Saturday nights during the 1950s, and featured 90 minutes of live comedy every week. It was a lot like Saturday Night Live, except that if a sketch went on for seven minutes they’d usually opt to throw a second joke in there at some point.

Despite his success, by the age of 30 Caesar was a self-hating, pill-popping, alcoholic mess, because apparently a lot of comedy types are actually just using humor to mask their deep, personal demons. Not me, though. I’m zen as a Chinese dentist over here. It’s all about facing your troubles before they get out of control. For instance, I used to get bullied every day in high school, probably for being so handsome and likeable that I intimidated the entire football team. Plus, some of the other kids didn’t realize that when girls would spit on me it wasn’t out of disgust, but rather because they’d start drooling in my presence and needed to eject the excess saliva immediately. It’s a perfectly healthy physiological reaction, but you try getting a bunch of teenagers to understand the nuts and bolts of how oral hygiene works. Anyway, that kind of trauma could really mess somebody up, but years later I learned to cope with it by following high school students home and beating them with a potato sack full of D batteries in their sleep. Sometimes I’d even try to mix in some comedy for them by saying things like, “Tell your parents it was assault and… BATTERY!” Although to be honest I bet they rarely ever do it. Kids just don’t respond to puns nowadays.

“If you want to find the ur-texts of ‘The Producers’ and ‘Blazing Saddles,’ of ‘Sleeper’ and ‘Annie Hall,’ of ‘All in the Family’ and ‘M*A*S*H’ and ‘Saturday Night Live,’ “ Frank Rich wrote in The New York Times when he was its chief theater critic, “check out the old kinescopes of Sid Caesar.”

Oh, I’m sure they’re great, but you’d have to have suffered some kind of potato sack-induced brain trauma if you think I’m gonna go track down kinescope recordings in 2014. I give up on trying to YouTube something if the autocomplete doesn’t know what I’m looking for by the time I’ve entered the first five characters, there’s no way I’m gonna try to figure out how to load giant reels of hyper-fragile film into the kind of medieval machinery they made the first Iron Man suit out of. Hell, I’m not even sure where I’d find that stuff. If I had to guess I’d say Detroit public school classrooms, but I believe all the roads into Michigan are pretty firmly under the control of merciless warlords by now.

Source: The NY Times

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2.10.14: Shirley Temple – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:42 pm February 12, 2014

SHIRLEY_TEMPLEMake sure not to confuse her with Mae West, who was merely the Führer of about three million hearts, tops.


Shirley Temple, the child actor of the 1930s and 40s who helped us all to discover exactly how much entertainment content a movie had to possess before we’d resort to reading books, has died at the age of 85. Temple also inspired a famous non-alcoholic drink that shares her name. Or maybe it was already her mom’s favorite drink and she just named her kid after it, which happens sometimes. That’s how my name was almost 40 of Olde English in a Crumpled Paper Bag, before that teetotaling nurse refused to put it on the birth certificate.

Hey! Maybe the internet knows! Block Quote, let’s browse this harmless article for answers:

In 1932, Shirley was spotted by an agent from Educational Pictures and chosen to appear in “Baby Burlesks,” a series of sexually suggestive one-reel shorts in which children played all the roles. The 4- and 5-year-old children wore fancy adult costumes that ended at the waist. Below the waist, they wore diapers with oversize safety pins.

Urhm. I don’t know what happened during World War II, mostly because I hollowed out my 11th grade history textbook so I could have a place to store a grooming kit for my killer teenage trash ‘stache. But I do know we came out the other end of the war with pervy shit like that being absolutely not cool. Let’s casually walk away from this and try again:

Not everyone was a Shirley Temple fan. The novelist Graham Greene, who was also a film critic, was sued by 20th Century Fox for his review of “Wee Willie Winkie” in the magazine Night and Day, which he edited. In the review, he questioned whether she was a midget and wrote of her “well-shaped and desirable little body” being served up to middle-aged male admirers.

Alright, you know, after all of those moms signed that petition, I agreed to stop hanging out at elementary school playgrounds. And if those toxicology reports say there was anything but pure granulated sugar in my lemonade then the police should be asking questions to the team of Walter Whites they’ve got working at Splenda, and leave me and my unmarked van out of it. Nonetheless, I complied, just to avoid causing a scene. But this is my blog, paid for with my lemonade stand money, and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna tiptoe through it just because we’ve got a few degenerates out there who have to find something odd in a group of single, adult men desperately trying to impress a toddler. Fuck it, we’re forging on! BLOCK QUOTE: HIT ME AGAIN!

What Fox had dropped, MGM picked up eight months later. But the little girl was now entering adolescence. On her first visit to MGM, Mrs. Black wrote in her autobiography, the producer Arthur Freed unzipped his trousers and exposed himself to her. Being innocent of male anatomy, she responded by giggling, and he threw her out of his office.

Forget it, I’m not doing this one. I’m just not. You try to run an honest little deathblog so that your children, Fifth of Hennessy and Half a Carton of Newport Lights, can have something to be proud of their old man for, and someone has to go and make it unpleasant. That’s the real death of the American Dream. Goddammit, isn’t this why we fought Hitler in the first place? I mean, I honestly don’t know, but I’d bet it’s in there somewhere.

Source: The NY Times


2.9.14: Marius the Giraffe – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:24 am February 10, 2014

Marius the giraffeI bet giraffes ask for handmade turtleneck sweaters for their birthdays a lot. It’s probably, like, their big joke.


Not to boast, but I’ve had a lot of hamsters and goldfish die on my watch over the years, which means I know a little bit about mortality in the animal world. So when Marius, a two-year-old giraffe in the Copenhagen Zoo, was deemed a ‘surplus’ animal and subsequently put down, my first thought was, “A giraffe… ? Oh! You must mean a long-necky turtlehorse.” But my second thought was, “Maybe this can serve as a step towards having a reasonable discussion about animal population control.” My third thought was about finding a loophole that would allow me to still qualify for the Toys “R” Us Birthday Club.

Unfortunately, it looks like any chance of that discussion happening can be promptly single-flushed due to the usual batch of chagrining protesters who get all death-threaty in defense of our most adorable animals.

Besides nearly 30,000 online signatures from those who did not want Marius killed, Copenhagen Zoo officials received death threats after they turned down adoption offers from other zoos, as well as a bid of 500,000 euros, or $682,000, from an individual who was willing to take Marius in.

So, since they turned down the money, protestors would have to accept that the decision wasn’t made out of greed, leaving the only remaining motivation they could attribute to the zoo to be… that they just really like killing giraffes. Like, in a borderline aphrodisiacal way. Look, if you wanna protest zoos on principle, fair enough. In fact, I support protesting anything that requires me to go through a turnstile to enter it. That’s how the government tracks you, you know. Plus, I have a very sensitive pelvic region. But this just seems like a particularly public instance of the kind of goosed population control that becomes necessary in a world that’s been thoroughly beaten into submission by the whims of human convenience.

It seems like the biggest boner here was the decision to perform the autopsy publicly, thereby resulting in a bunch of kids watching a giraffe’s ribcage get split open like a fuzzy walnut. It just comes off kinda dickish when you’re already trying to quell a public relations nightmare, but these zoologists don’t think like you and I do. I mean, who can dissect an animal they’ve already named? You’ve gotta be unbelievably left-brained to kill something you’ve ascribed a personality to. That’s why I’ve simply had to learn to coexist with Papa Stingmeister and the rest of the hornet’s nest that sprung up in my living room last year. We have our differences, but I’d be lying if I said I won’t be sad when they move out.

Also, they should’ve let Marius live long enough to grow to his full size. Besides it providing more meat, you just know those lions are gonna omit the part about it not being full-grown when they’re bragging to their friends about how they just ate “literally a whole giraffe.” Yeah, that’s technically true, lions, but you know it doesn’t really count like that.

Source: The NY Times

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1.10.14: Former Marlboro Man Eric Lawson – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 11:10 pm February 5, 2014

ERIC_LAWSONHey pal, I’m not moving to Marlboro Country until you guys finally put up a fence to keep out those respirator jockeys from Emphysemia.


The tobacco industry has gotten a lot of bad press since scientists discovered that the human body doesn’t take kindly to you sucking burning embers into it like you’re trying to smoke a salmon in your trachea. Even rugged advertising mascots have done little to convince people that they should buy something that will most likely… you know… murder them in horrendous fashion. For proof, look no further than the time Trojan introduced the ill-fated Jungle Fever condom, the only prophylactic coated with the Ebola virus. Selling the public on suicide’s a steep PR mountain to climb, and it doesn’t get any easier when even the representative of your product up and dies a leathery-skinned death from using it.

Such was the case last month, when former Marlboro Man Eric Lawson died of respiratory failure brought on by chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

Lawson was an actor with bit parts on such TV shows as Baretta and The Streets of San Francisco when he was hired to appear in print Marlboro ads from 1978 to 1981.

A smoker since age 14, Lawson later appeared in an anti-smoking commercial that parodied the Marlboro man and an Entertainment Tonight segment to discuss the negative effects of smoking. Ms Lawson said her husband was proud of the interview, even though he was smoking at the time and continued the habit until he was diagnosed with COPD.

Oh sure, everybody has a problem with people who smoke when they’re lighting up in a crowded restaurant, or putting out a cigarette on my cheek after I got caught looking at their ol’ lady in a biker bar that I clearly had no business being at in the first place, but nobody wants to call out the fire-eating hippie in the park. Look, that shit gets old after about two minutes. Dude, you’re giving us an appetizer without a main course. Throw a few jokes in there or learn to juggle some babies or something. Even Chris Angel has those killer abs for us to ogle while we’re watching him pretend to float.

Source: The Guardian

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2.2.13: Philip Seymour Hoffman – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:28 am February 3, 2014

PHILIP_SEYMOUR_HOFFMANSigh. Someday I’ll win a real award, too. Until then, stealing spelling bee participation ribbons from fourth-graders will just have to do.


Philip Seymour Hoffman, considered one of the most talented actors of his generation, was found dead in his apartment yesterday after a suspected drug overdose.

Hoffman was a legit actor whose presence had an actual, measurable effect on the quality of the final product, and that’s entirely too rare. It’s downright bizarre how much credit and attention we give to actors considering how little they tend to contribute to Hollywood films beyond name recognition and Us Weekly Smoochability ratings. Excluding your Michael Caines and your Meryl Streepses and your Daniel Day-Lewi, most actors are pretty much just expected to not fall asleep on camera and they’re rewarded with riches on par with gifts brought to Egyptian gods. There are dozens of people who put more sweat and blood into any given production than your stars ever will; there are screenwriters to write the dialogue, directors to explain how to deliver it, and cue cards stapled to some poor stagehand’s face if Jennifer Aniston is too consumed with her acai berry cleanse to bother learning her lines. Costume, make-up, lighting, and audio departments take care of the rest on set. Editors will cut it together. Marketing will find a way to convince the public that they haven’t already seen this same claptrap a thousand times before. And, hell, you can probably just tie an actor’s torso to a wooden stake like you’re trying to keep a tomato plant from sagging if they can’t even grasp that “don’t fall asleep” thing. If Megan Fox somehow becomes self-aware and decides she can no longer in good conscience appear in a movie about ninja turtles from outer space, positively none of the film’s already-shaky integrity is compromised. Michael Bay just cracks open the clamshell packing on another Blandly Attractive Lady, plugs her into the circuit board, America collectively eats another Choco Taco for lunch, and exactly nothing changes.

But, uh, yeah. Hoffman kept it proper.

[…] he won in the best actor category for “Capote” (2005). As the eccentrically sociable, brilliantly probing and unflappably gay author of “In Cold Blood,“ Mr. Hoffman flawlessly affected the real-life Truman Capote’s distinctly nasal, high-pitched voice and the naturally fey drama of his presence. Writing in The Times, A. O. Scott described the film as being about a writer’s relationship with his work.

Well, it’s time to do what we always do when I’m too squeamish to make fun of a respected figure who died tragically; make fun of celebrities who barely understand computers *or* grammar by checking out some insincere tweets:


Jim Carrey and the Pure Moods album cover he inexplicably uses as his avatar start things out on a pretty classy note, actually. Then he realizes he’s gone 11 words without referencing himself and proceeds to throw some vague existential tortured artist bullshit out there to make sure people realize that he only did Mr. Popper’s Penguins to draw attention to the very real threat of interspecies choreography mishaps. He wraps everything up with an emoticon of… I’m guessing a snooty French waiter with a stye in his right eye.


I have no idea why Whoopi Goldberg thinks that putting dashes between words turns them into links, but it’s kinda adorable. Still, nobody hits random keys with less linguistic cohesion than Cher:


Holy God, Cher. What alien language am I even looking at? How does a person survive the kind of seismic muscle spasm that produced this gibberish without severe nerve damage? This one has the works; sentence fragments! Lack of proper spacing! Letters and numbers replacing words! Random capitalization! Pointless emoticons! Missing apostrophes! Arbitrary line breaks like she thinks she’s E.E. goddamn Cummings! And for some reason a picture of a birthday cake following the kind of meaningless and irrelevant faux-profound simile that makes Jim Carrey’s new age pablum look like the Tao of Hank Hill. I’m tappin’ out, Cher. You done broke my brainbits.


Source: The NY Times (Tweets collected by E Online)

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