This Day in Death

6.24.14: Eli Wallach – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 2:42 pm June 29, 2014

ELI_WALLACHI don’t claim to know the reason behind the downturn in Westerns being produced nowadays, but if it has anything to do with budgetary constraints you could probably save a few bucks by filming all of the desolate, ghost town scenes in the ruins of what we used to call Detroit. Just make sure to crop out all those “cash for gold” storefronts.

 

Stage and screen actor Eli Wallach passed away last week at the age of 98. Well, technically, 98 and a half. Impressed now? I thought so. Let’s move on.

Wallach is remembered for playing the titular “ugly” in 1966’s The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. He also starred in 1960’s The Magnificent Seven as Calvera, one of the decidedly non-magnificent characters. Not, uh, not the most ego-flattering of billings during that decade for Mr. Wallach, it would seem. Later, he could be seen in The Godfather Part III: Still ‘Fatherin’, Chinatown follow-up The Two Jakes (released in America as Chinatown 2: The Sequeling) and more recently in Wall Street: The Bad One.

Unlike his Method brethren, Wallach didn’t go for tragic grandeur; he was not one to mumble or mope. The men he played could be evil — sometimes pure evil, like his psycho-killer Dancer in Don Siegel’s 1958 crime drama The Lineup — but they usually enjoyed their venality, revealing a smile behind the scowl. […] For all his Method training, Wallach had the born showman’s gift of communicating to audiences the pleasure he got from acting.

Plus, if the 21 inhaler salute I just heard is any confirmation, Wallach also portrayed the villainous Mr. Freeze in the 60s Batman television show. Again: Mr. Freeze. Because the character’s birth name is Victor Fries and he’s big on cryogenics, you see. Awful, yes, but that’s goddamn Tolstoy compared to naming a character E. Nygma because he loves riddles, or having a William Tockman be really into… clocks, which is stupid on a couple different levels. With a roster that weak you’d really think DC Comics would take my proposed new character, The Blogger, a bit more seriously. He threatens the world by trolling WordPress forums and forgetting to pay the rent, gradually weakening the world’s economic infrastructure. He’s sorta working the long con that way.

 

Source: Time

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6.17.14: Cadillac Ranch Patron/General Weirdo Stanley Marsh 3 – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:37 pm June 24, 2014

MARSHMarsh, in front of one of the cars in his famous Cadillac Ranch art installation. Sure, it’s missing tires and will most likely explode the second you turn the ignition, but it’s still safer than any of the flaming deathwagons that GM keeps rolling out. GM: Because Fuck It.

 

Insane rich guy, sort-of artist, and probable child molester (ooh, the Bryan Singer hat trick!) Stanley Marsh III has passed away due to pneumonia. Actually, that should be “Stanley Marsh 3,” as he’d had the “III” legally replaced with the Arabic numeral, insisting that Roman numerals were too pretentious. And the producers of The Fast & the Furious franchise slowly nodded their heads in respectful agreement before purchasing suits made out of pure cocaine.

He once turned a football-field-size swatch of ranch land into the likeness of a pool-table top: he had the prairie painted green and supplied giant billiard balls and a 100-foot cue stick. He had a colossal necktie tied around the chimney of his mother’s home. And he had dozens of fake traffic signs scattered around the city offering cryptic or lighthearted messages like “Road Does Not End,” “You Will Never Be the Same” and “Ostrich X-ing.”

When one such sign was stolen by a local teenager, Marsh hunted the thief down to his family’s property, locked him in a chicken coop, and proceeded to berate and threaten him. The incident brings up a mess of interesting questions about things like civil rights and trespassing laws, with the biggest one being what kind of teenager can’t escape the clutches of an out of shape 56-year-old man trying to stick you in a chicken coop? The kid even had home-turf advantage. I blame these video game consoles, making youths all soft and doughy. When I was that age I escaped from older men trying to trap me in all kinds of things, from overturned shopping carts to poorly-constructed bear snares to discarded refrigerators down at the dump. Life used to be a lot more fun.


Source: The NY Times

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6.15.14: “Flowers for Algernon” Author Daniel Keyes – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 6:17 pm June 19, 2014

DANIEL_KEYESTo put that number in perspective, J.K. Rowling once sold 4 million copies of a dirty limerick she scrawled onto a bar napkin. The film trilogy is currently being produced by Steven Soderbergh.

 

Daniel Keyes, best known as the author of perennial ‘Tim Allen becomes Paul Allen before going back to being Tim Allen’ novel Flowers for Algernon, has passed away due to complications related to pneumonia. For decades, Flowers for Algernon has been the book that countless 8th grade English teachers push on their students in the hopes of helping them discover who they really are, before giving up after realizing that what most of them really are are future 7-Eleven clerks and proto-arsonists.

The story was written as a series of first-person progress reports by Charlie Gordon, a 32-year-old bakery worker with an intellectual disability who is chosen for an experimental operation to increase his intelligence. A white mouse named Algernon had undergone the procedure and had become intelligent enough to solve mazes much faster than Charlie.

There’s no shame in not being able to finish one of those things. Who hasn’t gotten stuck overnight in the hedge maze at the Renn Faire, or a Long John Silver’s placemat? The key to survival is the same in both cases: Stay calm, leave a whole mess of breadcrumbs, and try to keep your crying to a respectable minimum.

The premise underlying Mr. Keyes’s best-known novel struck him while he waited for an elevated train to take him from Brooklyn to New York University in 1945.

“I thought: My education is driving a wedge between me and the people I love,” he wrote in his memoir, “Algernon, Charlie and I” (1999).

Paging Dr. Humblebrag! Dr. Humblebrag to the Egotorium, stat! Still, points for turning lemons into lemonade by using Flowers’ success as fuel for his next novel, Cockasaurus Rex and the Planet Full of Normals. It’s the harrowing story of a brilliant and well-endowed author who has to deal with being so handsome that regular people literally can’t look at him without blinding themselves. In the end, he’s forced to ease the pain the only way he knows how: by having wanton sex with untold scores of multi-ethnic supermodels. The point is that sometimes you just don’t understand how hard a person has it until you can see things from their perspective.

Source: NY Times

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6.15.14 – Casey Kasem – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 2:53 am June 18, 2014

CASEY_KASEMOOOH NOOO NO NO; If you’re a cartoon dog functioning at a level that involves standing up for photo ops and rudimentary vocal ability then you’re anthropomorphized enough to get a real job and contribute to society right alongside us humans and our crushed spirits. No more of this laid back, best-of-both-worlds Marmaduke shit. Hell, Goofy has Down syndrome but even he manages to put a vest on himself every morning. At least he’s trying.

 

Legendary voice actor and American Top 40 DJ Casey Kasem passed away on Sunday amidst antagonism between family members pertaining to his hospice care. Kasem’s death had been a slow and painful ordeal, only slightly worse than trying to convince America that Imagine Dragons is a legitimate musical force every damn week. I don’t know what kind of substance is running in Seacrest’s veins that gives him the strength to power through that particular shame with his creepy rictus intact, but if it’s human blood I’ll eat my oversized novelty hat.

His voice was familiar to fans who tuned in weekly to hear him count down the nation’s most popular songs, a tradition that he continued with Casey’s Top 40, American Top 20 and American Top 10.

“Hosting various versions of my countdown program has kept me extremely busy, and I loved every minute of it,” he said upon his retirement in 2009.

Kasem seemed like a pretty nice guy and the story of his death has been a particularly sad one, so I figured we’d just look at some insincere tweets, I’d probably microwave this gas station burrito that’s been sitting around for a while, and we’d all pack it in for an early yet productive day. Then I found this:

 

 

Now, at first this struck me as the usual “Even in grief, I can’t go 140 characters without talking about myself” celeb tweet that we’ve poked with a stick before, but something just seemed extra obnoxious about Osmond here. Maybe it’s the painfully earnest profile picture suggesting a total lack of self-awareness, I don’t know. At any rate, I decided to follow the rabbit hole down a little further.

Donny Osmond’s Twitter account is a perfect example of why I hate Twitter. (Speaking of which, make sure to follow the TDiD’s new Twitter account! Social media experts agree: It’s pointlessly superfluous.) I realize that, at its core, the stupid thing is just an image management tool for celebrities, but Jesus Christ at least pretend you’re giving me something akin to a meaningful content handjob. Instead, just about every single tweet is The Donfather either vainly reposting a stranger’s compliment about him or touting what he believes to be his revolutionary new phone app. Since I’m extremely suggestible, I downloaded said app, and… it’s nothing. It’s literally nothing but samples of the cover songs on his new album with a couple of lines written about each. Also known as what we used to call a web site. You know, back in the Oughties.

So what the hell? Chicago Sun-Times, what have you got for me?

“The record company thought I was nuts to allow two minutes’ worth of sampling, but I told them, if they like what they hear, they’ll want to buy the album,” Osmond said. “And the app asks for absolutely no permissions; I have no interest in invading people’s cell phones like the rest of the apps out there that invade your phone with permissions. And it absolutely had to be a free app. I’m a HUGE tech geek, so I designed it to be easy to use, extremely simple in design. I turned it over to an engineer for the code and we went through a few incarnations and it’s finally out.”

You see, cynics? The Wizard of Os isn’t gonna give you the snowjob: You get those samples of/blurbs about other peoples’ songs for FREE. Yes, I’m sure he’s taking a serious hit by letting us be advertised to, absolutely free of charge and without swearing NSA loyalty oaths, but that’s why they call him Silicon Valley Don. I mean, like, just now I called him that. Technically, that counts.

But don’t take my word for it; Just look at this review from noted person who totally exists Jamie Heiker, who reminds us that “Donny has always been on the cutting edge of music and technology.” That must be all kinds of true. Would you expect anything less forward-thinking from a man who once owned a technicolor dreamcoat? And who can forget his annual one-man expeditions to the Internet to sandblast all of the accumulated YouPorn grime from its tubes, or his current work with controversial noise-rock poster boys Death Grips?

DEATHGRIPSDONNYOSMOND

So there you go. Donny Osmond officially considers himself to be on the bleeding edge of technological innovation. You guys caused all this, what with your Tweeting about how you’re synching your Pinterest to your Tumblr or whatever the hell. Now even Donny Osmond knows what an app is and I have to maintain a Twitter account, because the internet is terrible. Oh, and Casey Kasem is dead, too. It’s really just piling on at that point.



Source: People

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6.4.14: Chester Nez, Last WW II Navajo Code Talker – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:06 am June 13, 2014

CHESTER_NEZNow that’s how you take a picture. Grave, dignified, still wondering what exactly happens to your soul when the flash goes off. My theory is it goes to a place called “The Dream Zone,” but most of the evidence I’ve gathered thus far is admittedly pretty weak.

 

Chester Nez, last of the Navajo “code talkers,” the group that helped the U.S. military transmit and receive secret messages during World War II, has died at the age of 93. To honor Mr. Nez’s work, I’m writing the rest of this post in a unique and fun alphanumeric code. It’s easy: First, make a table of the first 26 prime numbers. The first is 2. Then 3, I think. Then I’m pretty sure it skips 4 and goes to 5. After that you’re kinda on your own. Or maybe it skips 3 and goes to 4? I don’t know, you can probably trial and error that out for yourselves. To be honest I’m not sure I know what prime numbers are. I think I may’ve meant to use exponents this whole time… You know what, nevermind. I’ll just write in whatever language I normally use for these things. Uh, English, I guess.

U.S. forces had decided to base a code around the Navajo language because of the extreme difficulty it posed to non-Navajos to understand or replicate it. Also, because if you’re going to mercilessly exploit a culture for hundreds of years, it’s only right that you use every part of that culture. Now, astute readers will notice I kinda already used that joke once before. That’s true, but I hadn’t yet used it twice. Getting as much mileage as possible out of a single flimsy premise is what the Native Americans would’ve wanted, which proves that I’m just a little more in tune with the Navajo spirit than you guys. That would explain why I’m so big on ponchos.

Nez was among the code talkers who were shipped out to Guadalcanal in 1942, where the code talkers worked in teams of two, with one relaying and receiving messages while the other cranked the portable radio and listened for errors in transmission.

“That was my first combat experience, and there was a lot of suffering and a lot of the condition was real bad out there,” he told CNN’s Larry King in 2002.

Despite being discharged after WWII Nez still volunteered to fight in Korea, an admirable decision that speaks volumes for he and his people. God knows that if a bunch of pasty Puritans came to my land, fucked up all my maize crops and gave my family herped-out blankets or whatever, the last thing I’m doing is voluntarily working with their military. Then again, I’m a very petty guy. I once willed myself to menstruate just because my 9th grade biology teacher told me I couldn’t. Don’t you sick the “Can’t” Police on me, Mrs. Blackthorn!

 

Source: CNN

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6.2.14: Alexander Shulgin, the ‘Godfather of Ecstasy’ – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 12:48 pm June 11, 2014

ALEXANDER_SHULGINJust spitballin’ here, but maybe it would take some of the stigma out of recreational drug use if your lab didn’t look like the set of Edward Scissorhands.

 

Medicinal chemist Alexander Shulgin, commonly known as the Godfather of Ecstasy (still my least favorite Godfather sequel, by the way), died last week. Mainstream news reports are saying it was due to his declining health over the past few years, but that’s probably just a conspiracy, if my buddy Sketchy Lou’s Facebook page about shapeshifting lizard people from outer space is on point. And it usually is!

Shulgin developed and synthesized hundreds of chemical compounds, but the drug that made him a household trailerpark name was MDMA, also known as Ecstasy, also known as E, also known as Molly, also known as X, also known as the Devil’s Dishrag. That last one is probably regional. The drug became commonplace in the rave community, and Shulgin’s death brings up a touchy subject: How do ravers grieve? I’m guessing they just turn into goths.

According to the psychedelic-research website Erowid, which broke the news of his death, Shulgin’s health had been on the decline since 2010, when he suffered a stroke.

In fairness, he’s only dead if you can’t see beyond the 3-dimensional constructs of our brains and realize that, divorced from the concept of “time,” we’re all joined together as a single tenth-dimensional creature, always both alive and dead, floating heedlessly through a universe where the length of a lifespan is of no more significance than a person’s height. At least, that’s how it seemed while I was dealing with a pretty scary Melatonin addiction a while back. Rollin’ on that Melly got me feeling slightly sleepier than I otherwise would’ve, yo.

The adverse effects of MDMA quickly ruled it out as a therapeutic tool, however, and instead the drug forged an intimate connection with dance music and modern rave culture. This reporter first learned about Shulgin while researching a 2013 story on MDMA and American electronic dance music. At that time, the drug was the subject of intense media scrutiny. Two college students had died at, or shortly after, the Electric Zoo music festival in New York City; the killer, several media outlets insisted, was a strange new drug called Molly (as MDMA came to be colloquially called in the U.S.).

America, you’re never gonna win the war on drugs when the drugs you’re fighting have awesome names like Ecstasy and Angel Dust and Matanuska Thunderfuck. What unsuccessful blogger wouldn’t wanna leave his woes behind and enter into a land called Ecstasy, a realm bumpin’ with nonstop house jams and raver chicks brandishing glow sticks like some kind of Psychedelic Knights Templar? You can’t go legit and expect to compete with that. It’s the reason the global pharmaceutical industry only manages to scrape together a paltry… $85 billion a year in profit?! Whoa. I bet if Sketchy Lou was pulling in that kind of scratch he probably wouldn’t still be dealing out of his ’95 LaBaron. Just when you think a guy’s got everything going for him, you know?



Source: Time

 

 

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6.4.14: Don Zimmer – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 11:28 pm June 7, 2014

DON_ZIMMERYou’d better hope that if you Google “Don Zimmer + 3rd Base” you only get back sports-related results.

 

I don’t do a lot of sports posts around here. When you’ve lost as many loved ones to jock itch as I have, it just takes all of the comedy out of athleticism. Seriously, parents: Talk to your kids about not sharing towels.

But despite that, we’re gonna go ahead and do this Don Zimmer post. Why? Because baseball is America’s pastime, along with co-ed toga parties and putting desserts inside of other desserts. Read your Constitution, you heathens, it’s all in there.

Zimmer, nicknamed “Popeye” (which was probably the “Diddy” of the 50s), remained a figure in professional baseball right up until his death, marking an amazing 66-year career in the game. Let me try and put that into a context we can all relate to: In that same span of time Tolstoy’s landmark work of realist fiction Anna Karenina could’ve been reprinted in its original serialized format sixteen and a half times over. Of course, I don’t have to tell you that’s a prospect the Russian Orthodox Church most certainly wouldn’t be too excited about, considering their harsh criticisms of the man whom they believed helped the Bolsheviks rise to power during the Russian Revolution of 1917. Wow. I guess sports are pretty interesting. You know what? I’m gonna apply for that job at ESPN after all.

 “He was a great, fiery ambassador for the game,” said Zimmer’s former Dodgers teammate Roger Craig, who also hired him as a coach when he managed the Padres and Giants. “That’s why he worked for so many teams and with so many good baseball people. He loved the races and he loved baseball. He was a great human being.”

Also, if you say his name the way it appears in a phone book, it sounds like a Rastafarian telling someone to “simmer down.”


Source: The Chicago Tribune

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6.1.14: Ann B. Davis of “The Brady Bunch” – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 4:27 pm June 4, 2014

ANN_B_DAVISI don’t care how bad the ratings were slipping by the fifth season, I still say recasting Anton LaVey as Bobby was just gimmicky.


Decades before Adam Sandler had begun just daring us to step into a movie theater, The Brady Bunch was flying the flag of offensively dull blended families all by itself. Yes sir, from stories about why you shouldn’t lie to stories about why you should always tell the truth, there was only one rule if you wanted to survive in the cutthroat world of the Brady Bunch writers’ room: “Pretty much all holds barred.”

Sunday marked the death of one of the show’s stars, Ann B. Davis, better know as the Brady’s live-in maid Alice, who maintained and cooked every goddamn thing despite Carol being a stay-at-home mom. Because when your husband is pulling in that sweet architect salary, why should you even bother trying to maintain something as sprawling and unruly as a two-story house? That shit is for poor people, go get yourself a deep-tissue massage.

“I made up a background story. I did have a twin sister, so I used that as a basis. … I cared very much about this family. It was my family. It was as close to my family as Alice would ever get. I would have died for any single one of them at any point,” she said. “You know, they wrote me such gorgeous things to do, as the intermediary between the kids and the adults, and between the boys and the girls. And they gave me funny things to do.”

Fun fact: During the first season, the theme song was preformed by a band called Peppermint Trolley Company. I’m not even making that up! Those guys came up with a name that sounds like something spray-painted on the side of a van that sells crystal meth to neighborhood children and decided to run with it because they were just that innocent. I swear, if the state ever allows me to have kids, I’m never raising them in the 70s.


Source: CNN

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