This Day in Death

1.7.14: Chinese Movie Mogul Run Run Shaw – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:14 am January 13, 2014

RUN_RUN_SHAWWait, only 60% of your harem are princesses? Get back to me when you’ve learned a thing or two about decadence, Shaw.


It’s sad times for people who enjoy watching half-naked Asian dudes get sweaty with each other in a non-sexual context, because Kung Fu movie pioneer Run Run Shaw passed away last week. Shaw lived to the age of 106, because the Chinese have to be better than us at every goddamn thing. If they ever start making their own “Who Farted?” apparel we might as well concede defeat. You just know those shirts are gonna have some stunning hem work.

Mr. Shaw enjoyed the zany glamour of the Asian media world he helped create. He presided over his companies from a garish Art Deco palace in Hong Kong, a cross between a Hollywood mansion and a Hans Christian Andersen cookie castle. Well into his 90s he attended social gatherings with a movie actress on each arm. And he liked to be photographed in a tai chi exercise pose, wearing the black gown of a traditional mandarin.

Asked what his favorite films were, Mr. Shaw, a billionaire, once replied, “I particularly like movies that make money.”

Alright, so maybe Shaw’s business integrity could’ve been a bit more Russell Simmons and a lot less Gene Simmons, but his empire was still a testament to what you can do with the right amount of dedication and focus. That’s a lesson I’ve applied to this post, which I’ve completed despite having both of my index fingers stuck in a Chinese finger trap as a result of a rather misguided attempt at research. It’s the same way that I got trapped inside those Russian nesting dolls after Mikhail Kalashnikov died. Some days my life would be a lot easier if I didn’t know literally only one thing about every country.


Source: The NY Times

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11.25.13: Diorama Painter Fred F. Scherer – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:55 pm December 11, 2013

FRED_SCHERERScherer, seen in the background doing art. You know, art; the thing with the assholes wearing the berets?


If there’s one key human advancement that we witnessed in 2013, it’s that we’ve finally made the scourge that is art completely obsolete. Van Gogh? More like Van Get the hell out of my modern society, you pompous, one-eared Dutch freak. Oh, you spent a month painting a picture of a starry night? Yeah, I have the same picture; I took it with my phone and added a “Post-Impressionism” filter while I was eating a Swiss cake roll and waiting for the bus. It took me five seconds, and it didn’t have to be commissioned by the Sky Pope, or however shit gets done in the Netherlands. No, here on Earth we’ve advanced beyond the need for art. Who are you to tell me how a thing looks, anyway? I can already see in on Google Street View, don’t try to tell my retinas that that redwood’s bark is a burnt sienna when it’s clearly more of an Aztec brick. My eyes work just fine, thanks. It’s like I’ve always said: the visual arts are only useful for the blind. Those guys could use a leg up about that kinda thing.

It may’ve been art’s impending death that caused Fred F. Scherer, diorama landscape painter for the American Museum of Natural History, to pass away last month, a poetic synchronization with the loss of the form that, in many ways, gave him life to begin with. Or it could’ve been because he was 98. Or it could’ve been the result of being in confined spaces with open cans of Benjamin Moore all day. I’m not a theologian/doctor/painter.

…[T]here has to be a lot of depth and substance to the airspace of the picture — an illusion of odors, bugs and many miles of air currents in the 20 to 30 feet between the back wall and the spectator’s glass. Mr. Scherer was a master of all those illusions, especially air, [museum artist Stephen C. Quinn] said.

In an interview with The Brattleboro Reformer in Vermont, Mr. Scherer gave a summary of his technique: “I would juxtapose warm and cool colors to give it more airlike qualities,” he said. “It’s painted that way to vibrate like air in the distance does.”

“Find a way to paint more visible air into this landscape” sounds like either a zen mind-clearing exercise or the insane demand of an eccentric billionaire art collector, but Scherer managed to pull it off. Some of his dioramas looked so realistic you could be living inside one right now and you’d never even know it. It would definitely go a long way towards explaining these “American Midwestern Lonely Blogger” information plaques I keep finding around my apartment.

Source: The NY Times

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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.”



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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10.18.13: Coach Bum Phillips – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 12:00 am October 24, 2013

BUM_PHILLIPSPictured: Tasteful sophistication, Texas-style! I bet you anything he’s curing jerky under that hat.


You all should know by now that I don’t do many posts about sports. The main reason being that if I wanted to read about young men getting the hell beat out of them by entire swarms of pigpiling jocks I can refer back to my LiveJournal from 7th grade. Ha! Childhood trauma!

Point is, you’re gonna have a real hard time convincing me to give a wet one about sports. So, in order to keep myself amused while you read this block quote about former Oilers coach Bum Phillips’ death, I’m just gonna imagine what popular athletes would be named if they were depicted as loveable animal characters in a Saturday morning cartoon show. So far I’ve got Mike Bison, Donovan McCrabb, Patrick Earwig, Shrew Brees, and Tiger Woods. That last one was… less than imaginative.

Bum Phillips, the homespun Texan who was caricatured as a cowboy but possessed a keen football mind that built the Houston Oilers into one of the National Football League’s leading teams of the late 1970s, died Friday at his ranch in Goliad, Tex. He was 90.

God, it’s a good thing Phillips was from Texas or I’d have nothing to make fun of here. In fact, I’m kinda having the opposite problem: I’m not sure if I should mock the whole “Boss-Hog-crossed-with-a-gay-Eskimo” style he’s rocking in the banner there, or the fact that Texas has some of the worst literacy problems in the country, or that Texas gave up significant portions of their land in a desperate plea to be admitted into the U.S., or the fact that nobody in Texas will be able to respond to any of this because the only guy in the state who knows how to “do computers” keeps his Netscape Navigator locked firmly onto shady bestiality sites. In the end, the best course is probably just to- Oh! Kareem Abdul-Jaguar! This is a fun game.


Source: The NY Times

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10.10.13: Astronaut Scott Carpenter – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:30 am October 17, 2013

SCOTT_CARPENTERHey! I took the same yearbook photo! The nurple purpling was totally worth it.


Scott Carpenter, one of America’s original seven astronauts, died on Thursday at the age of 88. Carpenter was considered a relatively minor figure, but he still led a pretty sweet life, largely due to the NASA fun package all astronauts get upon reentry. I actually have one right here that I picked up from Neil Armstrong’s estate sale. Turns out he got in pretty deep with some sharks once the Tang residuals went dry so I picked this baby up for a song. Let’s see, there’s this “Astronauts Do it at Mach 30” bumper sticker, which seems a little braggy, but whatever. There’s a certificate good for having one U.S. state renamed (Armstrong’s rejected bid for “Assachusetts” poses more questions than it answers), a VHS copy of Apollo 13 signed by Clint Howard, and a tasteful nude photo of former NASA administrator James E. Webb. The whole thing is rounded out with some pretty great ‘Buy 1, Get 1’ pizza coupons, and that’s a savings that really adds up if you host a lot of casual parties. Just because you’ve been outside of Earth’s gravitational field doesn’t mean you have to pay sky-high prices.

Some NASA officials found fault with his performance.

“He was completely ignoring our request to check his instruments,” Christopher Kraft, the flight director, wrote in his memoir “Flight: My Life in Mission Control” (2001). “I swore an oath that Scott Carpenter would never again fly in space. He didn’t.”

Yeah, regardless of what those Van Damme movies had you believing, playing by your own rules in the real world just ends up getting your ass put on latrine duty, forgotten by history until some blogger with questionable social skills takes your life’s achievements out of context for a few cheap laughs. Just fly right and listen to authority already. Speaking of which, I found out you guys are wearing those “I <3 Cops” shirts ironically, so let’s go ahead and just knock that off, too, please.

Source: NY Times

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10.4.13: Vietnamese General Võ Nguyên Giáp – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:52 am October 8, 2013

General Vo Nguyen Giap shakes villagers handsUh oh. This looks like it’s gonna get really morally grey very quickly. I’ll be treading lightly, because I really don’t need a repeat of the shitstorm I got for suggesting that Mr. Rogers could’ve been the actual Unabomber. *I* was just pointing out that they’ve never been seen together, *you guys* turned it into a whole ‘thing.’


Well, since my keyboard just attempted to slit its own throat, I have to imagine that today’s death is Vietnamese general Võ Nguyên Giáp. Annnnd now my character map is on fire, lovely. Look, I’m not that ethnocentric, but my computer definitely longs for the carefree posts about John Qwerty choking on a banana peel.

Prior to Hồ Chí Minh appointing him to general, Giáp was actually a propaganda writer with zero military training, because apparently Vietnamese generals get their jobs from wandering into the wrong room like a character in a Looney Tunes short. Only, instead of hilarious, light-hearted hijinks and slapstick antics involving mistaken identity, Giáp changed the course of world history. Counterpoint: Elmer Fudd did a lot to draw attention to the plight of hunters with Down’s Syndrome.

In late 1967, wanting to draw the Americans away from the coast so he could attack South Vietnam’s cities, Giap began building up his forces around an isolated U.S. base at Khe Sanh. The Americans reinforced their position and were besieged for 75 days.

Hey, you remember that line in “Born in the U.S.A.” about having a “brother at Khe Sanh/fighting off the Vietcong”? Yeah, the Vietcong were never at Khe Sanh. It’s a pretty minor error, but it’s useful for weeding out which of the people you meet at parties are getting all of their data from pop culture incidentals. So shut the hell up, Dennis, you don’t know things!

Source: The LA Times

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9.8.13: Car Salesman Cal Worthington – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:54 am September 12, 2013

CAL_WORTHINGTON“Hello, we’re a man in a cowboy hat and a tiger. So… how would you like to give me your money today? Nuthin’ doin’, huh? Oh man, you are a tough sell, my friend. Alright, did I mention the tiger is wearing roller skates? Haw, I thought that might change your tune. 1961 Dodge Lancer it is!”


Cal Worthington, the most likely insane West Coast car salesmen who risked life and limb filming ads with everything from gorillas to elephants to aging, once-relevant rappers, died on Sunday. Worthington’s commercials were incessant, filming and airing up to 40 different ads a week despite pleas from Californians to just them them watch their Three’s Company in peace already. But no relief was in sight, because, in America, you can only annoy us so much before we can’t resist making whatever huge purchase you’ve asked of us. It’s how they got me to buy 3,000 crates of HeadOn. I don’t even get headaches! Ha! I’ll be in debt for the rest of my life!

In relentless campaigns that treated television viewers to as many as 100 commercials a day, Mr. Worthington proclaimed the virtues of the latest gem on the lot while, for example, strapped to the wing of a soaring biplane or standing on his head on the hood of a car — a visible demonstration of his motto, “I will stand upon my head until my ears are turning red to make a deal.”

Ah, that’s gooood crazy. Even if you never saw Worthington’s ads you’ve most likely seen the ripple effect throughout the decades, like those commercials in the ’80s where Ronald McDonald promised to “put a Jew in space” if it would sell you a Quarter Pounder. Nobody was quite sure why that was supposed to be a selling point, but damned if his enthusiasm didn’t end up moving a lot of burgers.


Source: The NY Times

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9.5.13: Rochus Misch, Hitler’s Last Surviving Bodyguard – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 3:47 pm September 11, 2013

ROCHUS_MISCHIt’s pretty well accepted that Hitler destroyed the popularity of the toothbrush mustache, but few ever comment on how the Führer also ruined the then-thriving jodhpurs industry as well. Third Reich? More like the First Reich… of Style!


Hitler’s last surviving bodyguard, Rochus Misch, has died at the age of 96. You know what this means: You done got yourself fucked now, Adolf! Call the Allies and let’s get that circus-loving son of a bitch yesterday! Jesus, why are the newsreels not all over this? Typical liberal media, with their dictator-protecting and their Arts & Leisure sections and their hybrid vehicles. If God wanted us driving around in electric cars he wouldn’t have hid all of that oil in those dinosaur bones. Waugh!

The former SS man had operated the telephones in the bunker and had proudly reminisced about his wartime duties for the “boss”.

He had called Hitler “a very normal man… he was no brute, he was no monster”, according to the Associated Press news agency.

[Misch’s Jewish daughter Brigitta Jacob-Engelken] added she could not understand why her father, who remained loyal to Hitler to the end, was not more critical in his reflections of Nazi history.

Dude, I dunno. Old people, they hang onto things. My grandpa’s watch stopped one evening in 1987 and to this day he still insists it’s 6:45 PM. The doctors call it dementia, but if you ask me he’s just being stubborn.


Source: BBC

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7.31.13: Star Trek’s Commander Kang Michael Ansara – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:51 am August 7, 2013

MICHAEL_ANSARAAnsara was Syrian, so I guess Roddenberry felt he was just some smeared eyeshadow away from becoming a terrifying space alien. More like Racistberry, yah?!


Michael Ansara, who portrayed Klingon Commander Kang in three iterations of Star Trek, is dead at the age of 91. If only there were 500-plus words about Klingon death rituals that I could link to right nGUESS WHAT THERE TOTALLY IS THAT THING I JUST SAID:

When a Klingon warrior was dying, his or her comrades would hold the eyes open while looking into his or her eyes. Once the Klingon in question had died, the other Klingons would raise their heads and howl for several seconds. This howl was a warning to the dead, that a Klingon warrior was arriving. Afterwards, the body was considered to be only an empty shell, and was unceremoniously disposed of following the ritual. [Source]

Granted, it’s a pretty cool ritual in hindsight, but I’m fairly confident that the first Klingon to do that was just being lazy. Here on Earth that’s basically the “OD’d hooker at a toga party” method of body disposal. An honored tradition in its own right, but not especially labor intensive. At any rate, Ansara’s in a better place now. I mean, not like Six Flags Great Adventure better, but definitely at least two or three rungs above, say, St. Louis. Most leading theologians will advise you that expecting any more from the afterlife is just setting yourself up for disappointment.


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7.20.13: Helen Thomas – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:14 pm July 22, 2013


PEOPLE-HELENTHOMAS/Woe was the soul of anyone foolish enough to sit within a five foot radius of Helen “Chili Powder” Thomas.


Over her nearly six decade career in journalism, Helen Thomas was a leading journalistic voice in American politics, reporting on and often gaining access to the inner circle of every President since Kennedy (Carter was the grabbiest). Sadly, Thomas passed away on Friday and will not be able to cover the inevitable 2016 election of P.R.E.Z.B.O.T., our first openly gay robot president. Oh sure, the religious right are gonna have a field day, but he can’t help the way he was programmed.

Her career, however, came to an end under a cloud of controversy.

Thomas, then working for the media conglomerate Hearst as a syndicated columnist, was blasted for comments she made regarding Jewish people.

In 2010, a YouTube video surfaced showing her saying that Israel should “get the hell out of Palestine,” and that the Jewish people should go home to “Poland, Germany … and America and everywhere else.”

That’s an unfortunate way to end such a distinguished career, and I hope the criticisms didn’t darken her spirits in her last days. You really can’t let your critics get to you like that. For instance, growing up everyone told me I was emotionally distant and unlovable on a basic human level, but you’d be hard pressed to get any of the cats in my apartment to agree with that.

Source: CNN

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