This Day in Death

9.12.13: Audio Pioneer Ray Dolby – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 3:19 pm September 17, 2013

RAY_DOLBYMan, it sure takes a lot of skill and equipment to faithfully reproduce the sound of Bruce Willis pretending to act in 7.1 surround. But, you know, doing the Lord’s work is its own reward.


Ray Dolby, the audio pioneer who founded Dolby Laboratories and definitely had about a million girlfriends in high school, died last week at the age of 80. Cause of death is being reported as leukemia, but it was probably mixed with a little psychological stress brought on by his failure to develop and commodify the brown note. What the hell is wrong with this country when I have to manually control my own bowels instead of blasting my coccyx with an ultra-powerful sonic gun like a civilized human being?

Blind me with science, Block Quote! Wait, sorry, that was the other guy. You know what, screw it, just do the thing anyway.

In the 1960s, when magnetic tape was coming to prominence as a recording medium, “tape hiss” seemed to be an inevitable part of the listening experience. It was a problem that plagued all types of magnetic tape formats, from open-reel to audiocassette.

Dolby and his team invented a recording (and playback) process that greatly diminished the unwanted noise.

Dolby’s breakthrough would later be applied to feature films and soon become an industry standard until digital production made the noise-reduction process unnecessary, gradually eroding Dolby’s significance in modern technology. The same thing happened with the internet and porn, and now clammy-handed old men in drug stores buying multiple polybagged copies of Screw just look weird. There was a time when parents would proudly point those men out to their children, promising that they, too, could grow up to do the same if they stayed in school and never moved out of the attic. Damn you, technology! Will nothing stop the cursed deathmarch you call “progress”?!


Source: Time

Tags: , ,

6.26.12: ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ Screenwriter Nora Ephron – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:59 am June 28, 2012

Don’t waste your time: I already checked and Hooch isn’t in it.


Author Nora Ephron died on Tuesday, along with my dream of public schools with fountains that dispense Hi-C. The two aren’t related or anything, I’m just trying to come to terms.

Ephron was the screenwriter behind When Harry Met Sally…, Sleepless in Seattle, and You’ve Got Mail, which won the Oscar for Most 90s Thing Ever to Exist. Zubaz were robbed, man.

“Whatever you choose, however many roads you travel, I hope that you choose not to be a lady,” Ephron told Wellesley’s Class of 1996 in a commencement speech. “I hope you will find some way to break the rules and make a little trouble out there. And I also hope that you will choose to make some of that trouble on behalf of women.”

FUCK YEAH! THE RULES HAVE BEEN BROKEN! Oh, what’s that, Authority? You don’t want women to casually mention orgasms? Well jam it up your oppressive meat javelin, because these quirky bitches are stirring up SERIOUS trouble and they don’t care WHOSE toes they step on! I mean, not “equal pay for equal work” trouble, or “allowing women on the front lines of the armed forces” trouble, but if you get slightly uncomfortable when a woman flippantly discusses birth control you might as well go home and board up the windows because there’s a hurricane of X chromosomes coming to blow away a slew of marginally relevant social stigmas! Holy shit, if I don’t put on some Helen Reddy right this fucking second I swear to Christ I am going to kill myself.

(Ironic fun fact: “I am Woman” was co-written by a man.)

Source: The Huffington Post

Tags: , , , , , , ,

5.9.12: Hair Stylist Vidal Sassoon – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:10 am May 10, 2012

Apparently when you’re an eccentric fashionsta you can show up to a photo shoot dressed like a character from A Clockwork Orange and nobody says a goddamn thing.


Famed hair stylist and inventor of the “bob” hairstyle Vidal Sassoon has died at the age of 84. Sassoon suffered from leukemia, so his official cause of death is being reported as natural causes. Obviously. And while I want to be sympathetic about this, here’s the first line of the article:

HE WAS a rock star, an artist, a man who changed the world with a pair of scissors.

Firstly, none of those things are true. I don’t even think that last part is possible. But more importantly, I have a little rule around these parts: Any time you refer to a person as a “rock star” who isn’t an actual rock star, I mouthfart through your entire obituary. Set the timer, Block Quote!


He opened his own Bond Street salon in 1958, and there created his trademark geometric, “Bauhaus-inspired” hair style – the bob. He went on to turn hairstyling into a multi-million-dollar industry.

“I gave myself five years. If I couldn’t change anything, I was out of there,” he once told the LA Times.

“When I first came into hair, women were coming in and you’d place a hat on their hair and you’d dress their hair around it. We learned to put discipline in the haircuts by using actual geometry, actual architectural shapes and bone structure. The cut had to be perfect and layered beautifully, so that when a woman shook it, it just fell back in.”

His many famous clients during the Sixties included model Jean Shrimpton, actors Terence Stamp and Mia Farrow and the Duchess of Bedford, model Jean Shrimpton, actor Terence Stamp and fashion designer Mary Quant, who called him the “Chanel of hair”.


That may’ve been a record. And now, here is a list of things I have, at one time or another, assumed “Vidal Sassoon” was:

  • A loveable Dr. Seuss character
  • German for “the bassoon”
  • Some kind of exotic species of reptile
  • An efficiently-designed office chair from IKEA
  • The phrase you have to say to send Mister Mxyzptlk back to his home dimension
  • A less than stellar French wine


Tags: , , , ,

02.10.12: This Blog – ALIVE!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 2:39 am January 11, 2012

As I travel this great country of ours, giving motivational speeches at Girl Scout rallies and Chipotle openings, there’s one question I hear again and again from today’s youth: When are you going to start a blog about dead people? The answer has finally emerged, a resounding; “Today, I guess.”

So here we are, at the dawn of a new era of dick jokes and trolling for hate mail. Unfortunately a lot of people died in the preceding weeks while I was meticulously planning out this blog with my army of stuffed animal consultants (they’re paid in hugs and positive self-esteem!). So, in order to quickly get up to speed, I’m going to take a cue from your sister’s first semester in college and burn through as many guys (and probably a few girls) as I can as quickly as possible and then forget about them entirely.

Joe Paterno – DEAD! Died of lung cancer on January 22. There is literally nothing less exciting than football and if Fox keeps pushing that CGI robot doing the fucking Superbowl Shuffle on us I’m pretty sure someone’s gonna snap and strangle Rupert Murdoch with piano wire. Pointlessness of the game aside, Paterno’s death was notable because there aren’t a lot of guys who would willingly be as astoundingly immoral as he was. So, if you were hoping to rape some underage boys and wanted someone to catch you but never say anything about it the pool of people who would be up to helping you out with that just got significantly shallower.

Etta James – DEAD! Died of leukemia on January 20. Well, this was one’s actually kind of a bummer. She had a hell of a voice and a great musical presence, plus she openly shittalked Beyonce. My unwillingness to figure out how to put that pretentious little squiggle on the end of Beyonce’s name should tell you everything you need to know about which side I’m taking on that one. You’re not a French filmmaker in the 50s, spell your name like a sensible person.

Ben Gazzara – DEAD! Died of pancreatic cancer on February 3. If you’re a hipster under the age of 40 you probably only know Gazzara as The Big Lebowski’s Jackie Treehorn. Conversely, if you’re a hipster over the age of 40, what the hell is wrong with you, man? No one cares about your Sonic Youth acetates! Oh, speaking of which…

Mike Kelley – DEAD! Found dead of apparent suicide on January 31. Arguably artist Mike Kelley’s most known work is the cover of Sonic Youth’s Dirty. It’s probably a great cover, full of interesting themes and lovingly composed with a lot of-

Hmm. Well, alright. In fairness, though, Dirty was released in 1992. In the early 90s any album cover that didn’t feature the members of Color Me Badd giving you their ‘O’ faces was a sound aesthetic decision.

Don Cornelius – DEAD! Found dead on February 1, from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot would. I’m not formally advocating suicide, but if you’re old and enfeebled anyway that’s not a bad idea; I’m pretty sure by killing yourself you bypass the lengthy post-mortem paperwork process and can just sneak into Heaven when St. Peter’s on his smoke break. We theologians call it God’s Loophole. Also, and this may not be the right time to bring it up, but if this means that the name ‘Don Cornelius’ is now up for grabs I’d like to call dibs. That is one sweet moniker, and definitely a step up from when I took Dabney Coleman’s name.

Anyway, Cornelius developed the classic musical variety show Soul Train and hosted it for 23 years. When I think about that it always reminds me of the episode of Futurama where Slurms MacKenzie was forced to party for decades on end. That was a really good episode. Did you guys know there are cryptograms written in an alien language hidden in that show that you can decode? Oh, and that Nibbler’s shadow is visible in the first episode, even though he wasn’t actually introduced until way later? Yeah. That show’s awesome. So, to review: Don Cornelius, creator of Futurama, is dead. Good start to the blog, James.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,