This Day in Death

8.29.16: Gene Wilder – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 2:31 pm September 6, 2016

GENE_WILDERMan, John Cena always looks so weird when they have to put him a suit.


Gene Wilder, star of such beloved comedies as Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles, has passed away at the age of 83 due to complications related to Alzheimer’s. And now you all see what a lifetime of this comedy stuff will get you. Personally I’ve been ramping down the humor around here for some time in order to wean you guys off the stuff. Don’t worry; Stick with me and soon the most amusement you’ll be able to tolerate is nodding politely to Spalding Gray monologues before getting a good night’s rest.

Wilder made perhaps his most lasting impact as the titular star of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, a film about a small-business owner who, apparently not giving any kind of a shit about the sanitary requirements of manufacturing consumables, let a bunch of filthy kids run roughshod through his candy factory with their sticky fingers just a-grabbin’ at everything within reach. They were literally swimming around in it at one point, that’s just gross. Unless the real villain of the film turns out to be Typhoid fever you’re just sending a bad message.

Notably, when velour hat enthusiast Tim Burton rebooted the film in 2005 to a somewhat more controversial reception, Wilder himself called it an “insult” and didn’t care for its darker tone. Far be it from me to jump to Burton’s crushed-velvet-ensconced aid, but if you wanna talk cynical Hollywood cash grabs it’s worth noting that Wilder’s film only got funding in exchange for the rights to create actual molar-raping, diabetes-baiting candy as a synergistic tie to the film. Say what you will about modern cinema, but at least nowadays we can go to the movies without anyone trying to convince us that gobs of sugar will fill the dull ache in our mortal souls. Nope, now science has proven that that can only be accomplished by the luxurious yet bold engineering of a 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. That’s Mercedes-Benz: The Best or Nothing!

Mr. Wilder’s rule for comedy was simple: Don’t try to make it funny; try to make it real. “I’m an actor, not a clown,” he said more than once.

With his haunted blue eyes and an empathy born of his own history of psychic distress, he aspired to touch audiences much as Charlie Chaplin had. The Chaplin film “City Lights,” he said, had “made the biggest impression on me as an actor; it was funny, then sad, then both at the same time.”

Hey, did you guys know Wilder was once married to fellow yukchucker Gilda Radner? As a public service announcement, I have to say I highly advise against that kind of thing. You don’t want to marry someone in the same profession as you; It just gets competitive and will likely speed up your already-assured divorce, and you really gotta stick together at least long enough to get on their insurance and have some stuff checked out. See, if you want a strong marriage, what you really need is a mate that does something complementary to what you do without it being too similar. Like let’s say you’re a professional bank robber. Well, see if you can’t find yourself a sleepy security guard to marry. Doomsday prepper? Meet Sam’s Club floor manager. Veterinary tech for an at-capacity animal shelter? Bam! Chef at a fledgling South Korean bistro. Hey, I know it’s not always pretty, but building a stronger society isn’t about aesthetics. It’s like I’ve been saying for years: It’s time to take love out of marriage. And out of our schools, too, come to think of it. When I send my hypothetical children to a public facility I don’t want them coming back with all sorts of twisted ideas about this “compassion” stuff in their heads. It’s against nature, it is!


Source: The NY Times

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8.30.15: Wes Craven – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 2:54 pm September 8, 2015

WES_CRAVENYou know, that Freddy Krueger thought he was a pretty tough customer, but let’s see him slash anyone up out in a rainstorm. Those blades would rust right the hell up, and then what, you’re gonna kill me with Tetanus? Joke’s on you, pal: I probably already needed a shot anyway, what with all of these stray dogs I keep getting into fights with.


Well, Halloween may be on its way, but if you’ve got a Craven’ for more horror flicks from slasher maestro Wes Craven, you’re gonna be disappointed. Because he’s dead. I tried to soften the landing with that pun up there, feel free to message my LinkedIn profile to let me know how I did!

Craven was best known as the creator of the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise, which featured prop comic/lawncare enthusiast/occasional sadistic murderer Freddy Krueger terrorizing dense suburban kids in their dreams. On a personal note, I’m not ashamed to admit I never quite got over my childhood fear of Freddy. Imagine how terrifying he would be in real life! I mean, who wants to talk to a white guy in a fedora? You know he’s just gonna tell you he wears it ironically, but that doesn’t change the fact that he’s still wearing it and it still looks stupid, and you just know if you call him out on it suddenly you’re the asshole. Not to mention that hipster sweater he’s always got on. I’m getting chills just thinking about him cornering me at a party to tell me about the idea he had for a combination bike shop/microbrewery. At least Jason was into hockey, that’s kinda cool. I’d way rather be murdered by him. Yeah, that’d be sweet.

“For three years I was unable to sell [A Nightmare of Elm Street]. I basically went broke,” he told CNN years later. “So when the film got made and was a financial success, my career went from the basement through the roof. It was a wonderful feeling.”

While struggling during the early days of his filmmaking career, Craven supposedly directed porn, although that was under a pseudonym for some reason. What was he so ashamed about? It’s not like porn and horror films are all that different: You throw together a story revolving around some creepy dude looking for a busty teenager who doesn’t do much more than scream, slide a tight 80s’ synth-rock soundtrack underneath, and start cranking out the sequel before the lights even cool down. The only major difference is that Hollywood film sets are notoriously drug-free. Those people have a sacred trust with the viewing public, and they don’t take that lightly.


Source: CNN

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5.4.15: Ellen Abertini Dow, aka The Rapping Granny – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:38 am May 7, 2015

ELLEN_ALBERTINI_DOWAnd still only slightly less street cred than Snoop has had since Soul Plane.


The 90s were great. Wait, sorry, I phrased that wrong. The 90s were awful. But, as I’ve said before, at least back in the day the entertainment industry and our appointed representatives knew that we really didn’t wanna hear about any of that depressing stuff going on in the world and wisely kept it out of our theaters and televisions. Sure, Slick Willy was dropping bombs on the Sudan, but we were able to avoid having to give a tug as long as it didn’t preempt Big Willie dropping weapons-grade laughs on our 900-pound tvs. We bought shitty Mexican food from dogs that spoke for no reason and called it brilliant entertainment. Hell, I bet you still consider The Wedding Singer to be a classic film, don’t you?

Well, you’re wrong. It was stupid, not least of all because one of its most beloved moments featured then-79-year-old Ellen Albertini Dow singing “Rapper’s Delight.” That really was the extent of the joke, that it didn’t make sense for this old woman to be singing this song, and we had zero qualms about rewarding this kind of behavior with untold gobs of currency. You see, for some reason a lot of people find it hilarious when one kind of person does something that is typically associated with a different kind of person. Allow me to illustrate the point using the most intuitive way of communicating information (as well as the most intuitive way of communicating how awesome you are at Halloweening): The Venn diagram:


As the diagram suggests, by appealing to those who enjoys all three major types of shitty comedic juxtaposition, you hit the surprisingly lucrative tender zone of people with impaired cognitive function and endless disposable income. For years an old white woman engaging in an activity typically associated with young black men was the gold standard of lowbrow pandering. But, to be fair, the artistic validity of these things can change with time. Someday when death is cured and we cease to age we’ll look back at footage of the rapping granny via the latest build of Wikipedia Synaptica downloaded onto our Brainstream and, like a fossil preserved in timeless amber, marvel at its beauty, alien yet somehow impossibly relatable all at once. And if none of that sounds believable to you, keep in mind that the Mona Lisa was originally commissioned to be used as toilet paper for the pope. I wouldn’t lie to you people.

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8.11.14: Robin Williams – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:12 pm August 14, 2014

ROBIN_WILLIAMSWilliams in his breakout role in Mork & Mindy, the show that put rainbow suspenders on the map. Yeah, the map of Dorksylvania! NERD SLAM!



Beloved actor and comedian Robin Williams was found dead in his home on Monday. Evidence suggests that his struggle with depression had driven him to commit suicide. It’s going to be to tough to make jokes about the tragic loss of such an esteemed figure without being offensive, but luckily I was born a lillywhite coward so I’m just gonna not even try. Hey, I’m just honoring my heritage. Either respect the beliefs of my yellow-bellied forefathers or you might find yourself the victim of a terse, anonymous comment on your YouTube channel some day.

But I guess we still need to find something to do around here… Hey, it looks like was able to find the one Jersey resident whose hands weren’t completely slathered in bronzer and let him use the community Lenovo to gather a bunch of celebrity Tweets, so let’s just mock those instead. I appreciate the legwork, guys. Your greasy state is alright.


Frankly I’m flabbergasted. Maybe this was some kind of personal in-joke between him and Williams, but that wouldn’t explain the hundreds of retweets. I’m gonna assume we collectively didn’t wanna look anti-Semitic, so we just kinda wrote Lewis a blank check on this one and told ourselves this made some kind of sense. This is really more our bad than his.


Those of you who are both longtime readers and don’t suffer from memory loss due to crippling Benzodiazapine addictions (which my click traffic Venn diagram tells me consists solely of one Gary Lepinksi of Cincinnati, Ohio. Way to keep your engine clean, Gar!) will note that this isn’t the first time Cher has blindly tripped over profundity following a respected celebrity’s death. Still, I almost kind of get what she thinks she’s saying this time. Do you have a follow-up Tweet that’s a bit more… Lennie Small-esque, we’ll say?


Eh, I still kinda understand. When I read Cher’s Tweets I wanna be legitimately concerned that I may be having an aneurism. Deeper!!


Theeere it is. Sorry, but Cher’s Twitter feed is an endless source of both amusement and shocking ineptitude for me. It’s like a fountain that only spouts schadenfreude. Truly, it give Great. But tread carefully! It can also, for those who don’t exercise caution, Take All.

Source: and Twitter

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7.19.14: James Garner – DEAD!

Filed under: Uncategorized —James @ 7:19 am August 3, 2014

JAMES_GARNERHey, I had that issue! Yeah, I used to wrap it around my Princess Di fanzines in middle school. Made a solid spitball shield as well, if I recall. Anyway, she was the People’s Princess, you know.


Sad news as actor James Garner has passed away due to a massive heart attack. But you know what’s still alive? My love of spicy salsa music. The rhythm’s gonna getcha!

You probably know Garner best from his work on The Rockford Files, the Files being the worst football team the Rockford, Illinois school district ever founded (Ha, I misunderstood the concept!). He also starred in Maverick, which I never saw but have to assume was about a guy named Johnny Maverick traveling the country obeying local laws and ordinances. When did you get so on the nose, television?

He was fiercely independent, challenging the studios on both “Maverick” and “Rockford” when he felt he wasn’t being treated fairly. He sued studios twice and won both times.

Garner was also a longtime political activist. He helped organize the 1963 March on Washington and frequently donated to Democratic candidates and liberal causes.

Ah, the Democrats; Endearingly clueless at first, then infuriatingly bumbling for years to come. Really the Steve Urkels of American politics. Actually, I believe they used all of those donations to buy a sweet new slogan in ’76:


Sorry, but if you really wanna make a difference, grassroots efforts are the only place where your good intentions might not be ground down into a gritty paste by the bootheel of political corruption. For instance, you could donate to my lawsuit against Target for willfully selling me this “My Swag is Ill” t-shirt. It turns out that it grossly misrepresents the nature of my swag, and they failed to inform me of this at the time of purchase. That’s definitely on them.

Source: CNN

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6.30.14: Director Paul Mazursky – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:41 pm July 7, 2014

PAUL_MAZURSKYA still from Mazursky’s Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, a film where a foursome doesn’t lead to divorce or anyone crying at a 24-hour Arby’s. See? I told you guys that kinda thing can work. All it takes is some clearly established boundaries, lots of trust, and two completely loveless marriages.


Potentially DTF writer and director Paul Mazursky passed away last week at the age of 84. Tapping into the sexual zeitgeist of the 70s, Mazursky’s work can arguably be seen as the spiritual forebearer of such modern-day entries into the “Random Fucking as Metaphor for Freedom or Whatever” genre as Spring Breakers, The Canyons and my personal in-the-works screenplay, U Up? (SPOILER ALERT: She was up.)

Mazursky made his writing and directorial debut with 1969’s Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice, a movie about two progressive couples dabbling in partner-swapping, presumably with a subplot about a truly reckless overuse of ampersands. Look, I don’t care what filmmakers wanna do in the privacy of their own homes, but when you put it on a poster for everyone to see then to hell with your artistic intentions, you be responsible and use commas. Believe me, I don’t like putting them in any more than you do, but things get pretty run-on sentencey around here in the heat of the moment sometimes. If Hollywood isn’t teaching our kids about proper conjunction usage, where are they gonna learn it from? Man, that got heavy-handed.

The film critic Richard Corliss wrote in New Times in 1978 that Mr. Mazursky had “created a body of work unmatched in contemporary American cinema for its originality and cohesiveness.”

He was, Mr. Corliss said, “likely to be remembered as the filmmaker of the ’70s. No screenwriter has probed so deep under the pampered skin of this fascinating, maligned decade; no director has so successfully mined it for home-truth human revelations.”

Sure, but that’s easy. The 1970s were recent enough that anyone who lived through them without Quaaluding their memories into oblivion could probably cobble together something vaguely profound about the era. The real juice is in films about the sexual decadence and cultural shifts of the 1870s. Think about it: You had Lewis H. Morgan publishing Systems of Consanguinity and Affinity of the Human Family, which, hoo boy, I’m sure I don’t have to tell any of you, set off a shitstorm in re: his “central theses about social evolution, primitive promiscuity, and group marriage.” That was… interesting, I bet. Also, I think they’re already making an adaptation of the story of how Thomas Edison accidentally sent a phonographic cylinder recording of himself reciting a poem about his taint to President Grant. That looks like it’s gonna be pretty good.


Source: The NY Times

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4.29.14: Bob Hoskins – DEAD!

Filed under: Uncategorized —James @ 10:49 pm May 7, 2014

BOB_HOSKINSHey! Maybe you guys can use those hydraulic leg braces to help you leap into a better movie.

British actor/Denzel Washington co-conspirator Bob Hoskins is dead today, so let’s skim his IMDB profile for credits that your brows are low enough to recognize. (Sorry.)

To the Rockstar-soaked brains of today’s early thirtysomethings (sorry!), Hoskins is best known for playing Eddie Valiant in 1988’s Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the wildly innovative film that spawned countless other animation/live-action hybrid noir parody films, such as Cool World and… others.

Come on, you guys remember Cool World, right? Brad Pitt before he mattered, back when maybe you might’ve had a shot with him? Like, you’d just happen to see him in some dank bar, hair mussed and looking downtrodden, but his rugged, homegrown good looks still shining through like some sort of celestial aura tangled in the complexities of human existence. You quietly walk up to him, with a confidence you’ve never known before, born of an almost holy certainty that this, this, is the reason you’ve been put on Earth. You ask him, coolly, “what’s wrong, handsome?” He looks up, trying to mask a subtle doubletake as he wonders how he ever got this lucky. Sensing your inborn compassion, he explains his doubts about his career, about whether or not he’ll ever truly “break through.” You listen. You more than listen, you hear. And, what’s more… he knows. He knows how deeply you care, how profoundly you understand. You quickly rebuild his spirit, not with hollow niceties, but rather with a series of impeccably perceptive reassurances that Brad can’t help but be bolstered by. The two of you continue to talk for the better part of maybe an hour, purposely withholding the inevitable for just a little bit longer. Why hurry? Your connection is so cosmic, yet so primal, that you both know there’s no chance of this night ending any other way. Eventually the urge simply becomes too intense to fight any longer, and with a coy, “do you want to get out of here?” and a flagged taxi, Brad rips away the membrane separating the evening’s intimate conversation from the night of transcendent lovemaking to come. The next morning you slip out before Brad wakes up, lightly brushing his silken hair away from his eyes, knowing that nothing will ever be able to match this inconceivably perfect experience. There’s no sadness in your heart: you’re forever secure in the knowledge that you and only you are responsible for putting Brad back on the path that will eventually give us such classics as Seven, Inglourious Basterds, and Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas. Then, back at your underground lab, you use a stolen saliva sample to craft an army of superstrong Brad clones that expertly perform a barrage of daring bank heists that quickly raise the funds you’ll need for your orbital Evapo-Ray, which will hold the planet hostage under constant threat of the evaporation of every body of water on the planet. You know: Old-fashioned romance.

Annnnnd…. block quote:


He followed [Roger Rabbit] with performances in a variety of films, including 1991’s “Hook” in which he played Smee, the pirate assistant of Captain Hook; 1995’s “Nixon” as FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover; and 2001’s “Last Orders” as the gambler friend of protagonist Michael Caine, whose pals gather to spread his ashes after his death.

Hoskins also depicted video game mascot/half of the reason the Italian Anti-Defamation League exists Mario in the floptrocious disastrophe that was the Super Mario Bros. film. Hey, you can complain all you want, but pardon me if I don’t have a lot of sympathy because a movie based on a video game about a fat plumber who collects floating coins didn’t have the respectful gravitas you were expecting. I hear they’re getting Tolstoy’s ghost to iron out some kinks for the reboot.

Source: CNN

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4.6.14: Mickey Rooney – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:14 am April 14, 2014

MICKEY_ROONEYRooney, seen here mere seconds before the midnight deadline that would revert his head back into a pumpkin.


Legendary diminutive actor/aged Chucky doll Mickey Rooney has died, but I don’t think I have to explain to you guys why I just can’t seem to relate to that news. I mean, I’m a hip, young playa, as evidenced by the fact that I just did a pretty bangin’ Alta Vista search for “current slang terms.” Rooney was representative of Old Hollywood, and that’s an era that just can’t keep step with us young go-hards and our Pinterested hashtavism. That’s why I feel it’s my cultural duty to finally unveil my new Movie Poster Modernizer, a precision-engineered algorithm guaranteed to twerk the shit out of your old boring promotional materials long enough to trick millennials into parting with their sweet, sweet endlessly-disposable income. Just look at this upgrade to the poster for Gone With the Wind:


Aww yeah, son! Those clutch shades let you know Clark Cable is a baller, and the 45 degree tilt is worth the loss of information. It’s a pretty good fix, but that poster really didn’t need too much work, what with the awesome fire going on in the background and some major cleave spillin’ out all front and center. But Rooney’s films were some class ‘A’ snorefests. Just look at this poster for one of his best-known works, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World:


I mean, seriously? Look at that lineup: Spencer Tracy? Bro, are you even trending? And Sid Caesar’s social media presence seems to have completely dropped off since late February. If you’re not gonna commit to the form then don’t dip your toes in, Caesar! No, this one is basically gonna have to be rebuilt from the ground up, but I think the Modernizer’s up to the task. Let’s see what things looks like with the swerve all turnt up or something:


It looks like this new swaggin’ version’s got all your favorite 2014 Q2 search terms. There’s the Maroon 5 guy, the princess from Frozen, and both ironically-popular triple-named Neils; deGrasse Tyson and Patrick Harris. Plus Nicki Minaj because feminism, and somehow Riddick got in there too, which was probably a bit of a wildcard, if I’m being honest. Truly, this one is a masterpiece of lowest common denomination. I tell you, this technology pays for itself. Now all I need is the address for the Captain of Hollywood and I should be on easy street from now on. This will probably end up being my last post, actually.

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3.1.14: French Director Alain Resnais – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:31 pm March 3, 2014

ALAIN_RESNAISWow. Wearing glasses in the 60s was a bitch. Where would you even get a lanyard for that thing?


French experimental film director Alain Resnais is 1.) dead, and 2.) a string of words that just made my target demo close this tab. So thanks for sticking around, pretentious movie snobs and maybe David Cronenberg. Scanners was dope.

Resnais directed such classics that you’re totally gonna watch as soon as you get some “stuff” out of the way as Last Year at Marienbad and Hiroshima, Mon Amour. Oh, that last one sounds fun. His films often dealt with memory, and the idea that forgetting is a virtue one can use to create a better future, which is probably the real reason I never remembered to pick my girlfriend up from the hospital last week. In that light, maybe I’m the one who deserved to carve “asshole” onto the hood of her car now.

“If one does not forget, one can neither live nor function,” Mr. Resnais told an interviewer in 1966. “The problem arose for me when I was making ‘Nuit et Brouillard.’ It was not a question of making yet another war memorial, but of thinking of the present and the future. Forgetting ought to be constructive.”

If you’re curious about Resnais’ work and would like to watch some of his classics on Netflix, well, you can’t. I mean, they have his 2012 film You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet, the title of which actually seems to be Netflix’s response whenever you try to watch anything that isn’t Orange is the New Black, sub-Mencia comedy specials, or an ill-advised Arrested Development revival. But that’s it. Have you considered watching House of Cards again instead? Because, according to Netflix, you’re sure to enjoy that Netflix original series. And if you don’t believe me, just look at this quote from their VP of Content Selection and Public Relations:

Come on, quit being such an art fag all the time.

Netflix: Because if Citizen Kane is so great, why couldn’t they afford color?

Source: The Washington Post

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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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