This Day in Death

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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3.5.14: Game Show Host Geoff Edwards – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:42 pm April 11, 2014

GEOFF_EDWARDS“Hey, you guys saw Seven, right? Oh. Well, you probably don’t wanna look in 29, then.”


According to a sentence I need to start this paragraph, being on a game show is a lot like life: There’s way too much standing around, just about all the detail you’d ever want to know about the person next to you can be summed up with three fun facts, and how much skill a person has at it is directly proportional to how skeptical and/or spiteful we are towards them. Also, sometimes there are a bunch of marines there for some reason.

That completely legitimate analogy brings us to the news that Geoff Edwards, best know as the host of the game shows Jackpot! and Treasure Hunt, has died. On a positive note, if we play this just right, it might mean we’re gonna walk out of this post with a Wink Martindale blurb in our pocket. NO WHAMMY, BLOCK QUOTE!

“Geoff was one of the cleverest, funniest radio and television personalities I’ve worked with,” said fellow game show host Wink Martindale. The two were DJs at pop radio station KMPC in Los Angeles.

Oh yeah, there it is. Seriously, if you don’t care what a guy named Wink has to say, then you and I are traveling on two roads that are simply never gonna intersect. We get a real-life Guy Smiley in here and you people don’t even know how to appreciate it. That’s why Drew Carey ended up hosting Price, you know.



Source: ABC News

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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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12.31.13: James Avery, Television’s “Uncle Phil” – DEAD!

Filed under: Uncategorized —James @ 5:33 pm January 3, 2014

JAMES_AVERYUncle Phil has long been a key square in my patchwork quilt of television father figures, right between Archie Bunker and Inspector Gadget. I was kinda on the fence about including that last one, but by the time I’d reconsidered his square was already landlocked.


Actor James Avery, or Rick Ross if you’re super racist and bad at Google image searches, has died from complications related to heart surgery. Avery is probably best know for portraying Uncle Phil on television’s The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air in the 90s. You know, it’s long been my pet theory that the character of Will Smith actually suffered a traumatic head injury during the street fight that supposedly resulted in his being sent to Bel-Air. As far as I’m concerned, Smith actually fell into a coma, and the entire series was simply a manifestation of his fractured psyche attempting to reassemble itself.

You see, jarring trauma had left Smith imagining himself in a landscape diametrically opposed to everything he’d ever known in terms of culture, class, income level, and even geography. He now lives in a west coast “mansion,” which is in actuality a complex psychological structure, a nest, to allow Smith some manner of protection from the onslaught of his upcoming trials. In this new lifestyle he sees what he can become if he can slay his personal demons and escape the poverty-stricken hell that he was born into.

Each of the “children” that he now lives with represent an aspect of Smith’s psyche, forcing him to confront all of the most difficult internal struggles of a young man growing up in the ghetto; “Hilary” is Smith at his most vain and sexually manipulative. “Little Nicky” is his childishness, his inability to focus his talents personified. “Ashley” is his rebellious naivete, a noble urge to reject societal norms that largely lacks the contextual nuance necessary to understand said urge. “Carlton” represents the intellectual gifts that Smith has forced himself to conceal in order to better fulfill the stereotype of the ignorant thug he had played into to survive on the streets of Philly. The key giveaway here comes at the end of the pilot episode, when we see Will, believing he is unobserved in his “mansion” (i.e. his psyche’s defense mechanism), display a seemingly uncharacteristic knowledge of classical music.

Avery, as “Uncle Phil,” fulfills an ambitious triple function; Firstly, he represents a grounding agent for Smith. “Phil” is clearly a stand-in for Smith’s hometown of Philadelphia, a huge, looming presence in the boy’s life. His relationship with “Uncle Philadelphia” (seemingly a laughably obvious portmanteau for the viewer to infer, lazily spoonfed to us by the normally subtle writing staff, but the delicate truth of this will be explained later) is one of tension and conflict, but ultimately love and respect. Secondly, in his “uncle,” Smith sees his own journey complete. That is, to be born of little means but remain resolute and eventually conquer the oppressive forces in his life. Finally, “Phil” is a father figure, a stand-in for Smith’s own absent biological father, his mind’s desperate attempt to pull together some sort of paternal influence to guide him through his trials.

“Jazz” represents the allure to return to his old lifestyle of ignorance and low ambition. Simultaneously, we see in “Jazz” the most explicit dichotomy of the two worlds that Smith is torn between. This is why Smith rarely objects to “Uncle Phil” ejecting him from the “mansion”; He recognizes that “Jazz” does not deserve the sanctuary, and is instead a disease that will destroy everything he is working towards.

“Geoffrey” the butler can be viewed as Smith’s fear of becoming an “Uncle Tom” if he abandons his street life, which is a common fear among those he has grown up with. However, with time, Smith comes to understand that “Geoffrey” has lived an admirable life and is well-respected and loved by the family he serves. The revelation serves to signify Smith’s gradual understanding of the misleading cultural traps he has fallen prey to all his young life. The boy begins to recognize the shades of grey that make up the real world.

“Aunt Viv” is largely unrealized as a character, seemingly the show’s rare misstep in characterization. In truth, she is underdeveloped because Smith already has a healthy relationship with his biological mother and has no reason to construct a surrogate one. She mainly exists to add authenticity and a sense of a fully-formed “nuclear family” to Smith’s delusions.

At “Bel-Air Academy,” Smith regularly puts his new skills to the test, confronting prejudice, temptation, vice, and judgement. It is less a “school” and more a “training ground.” However, to most inner-city youths, there is no distinction between the two. Truly masterful.

Over the course of his ordeal, Smith’s mind tries to convey to him some limited information about the truth of what he’s dealing with by hinting that he is surrounded by metaphorical constructs. It does this by giving these constructs obvious names that reveal their significance and reach beyond the level of coincidence, such as “Banks,” “Butler,” and “Phil.” Furthermore, Smith should be able to sense that his life has been broken down episodically, with major developments usually fitting neatly into a three-act structure spread over 22 minutes of relevant interactions.

If Smith can successfully rise above his own existential shackles he will be rebuilt, renewed, cleaned, truly “fresh” and deserving of the “mansion” he has found himself in. Smith can become a fully-realized individual, a model of human achievement rising from a wasteland of ash and ruin. However, to our national despair, our hero never fulfills his journey: The unmentioned change in actors portraying both “Aunt Viv” and “Little Nicky” (as well as the inexplicable age jumps of several characters throughout the series) are, sadly, the result of Smith’s mind failing to keep together the narrative strands it has developed, a sign that his journey is taking too long and the structure is collapsing around him. Smith’s brain continues to deteriorate as the episodes begin to take on slightly more bizarre or metatextural aspects, but through it all the boy remains oblivious to the truth, lost in delusion even as he strives to overcome the challenges that have become all too real to him after so much time inside his own psyche.

Yes, it’s true that Smith, the psychological construct, eventually makes the right decisions. He has doubtlessly grown. But not quickly enough. After six years his mind has become lost in its own labyrinth of plot and character, unable to wake from the coma it no longer realizes it’s trapped inside. The end of the series is bittersweet: Smith, in his mind, will lead a full life, never suspecting the truth about himself. But the rest of us are left devastated, with a cautionary tale about the always-ticking clock that hangs above us all like an albatross ringing in our ears, begging us to break free of our oppressions while we still have that divine luxury.

Avery was also the voice of Shredder on the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, which was a show about turtles who had been mutated and then became martial arts masters in their teenage years. That’s a dumb idea.

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12.14.13: Peter O’Toole – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:18 pm December 16, 2013

PETER_O'TOOLEHey, remember back when movie posters actually required getting the stars together and taking pictures, forcing them to willfully tolerate being around each other? Seriously, look at this insanity: None of those guys are even in the same time zone, and I’m pretty sure Jet Li isn’t actually a sentient watercolor painting. You really expect me to believe Dolph Lundgren’s schedule was a little too packed for him to swing by for a few snaparoos?


Actor Peter O’Toole, legendary Irish-born and English-schooled star of Lawrence of Arabia, has died at the age of 81. Hey, you know what I don’t get about them Irish? The whole cabbage thing. You’re not lettuce, cabbage, and you never will be. I see a head of you sitting out on the counter and I think that maybe I’ll make myself a delicious BLT. You know, treat myself after a hard day of salting the lawns of my enemies. But then I get close to you and suddenly it smells like someone’s cooking crystal meth in a Louisiana outhouse. You look and taste like wet dollar bills, cabbage. Even your name sounds like some kind of flesh sack for incubating sea lampreys. Anyway, O’Toole was a pretty great actor. I feel like, in hindsight, I could’ve emphasized that a little more here.

O’Toole’s portrayal of Lawrence was followed in 1964 by the role of King Henry II in “Becket,” opposite Richard Burton as Thomas Becket. Both men were nominated for the best actor Oscar for the film, but both lost.

The pattern of Oscar nominations, but no statuettes, for O’Toole is unmatched. “Always the bridesmaid, never the bride,” he once said.

Yeah, that’s why you can’t trust award shows to make the right calls. The people casting those votes all trade in political favors and demonic sacrifices. And I have no problem exposing that, even though it’ll probably cost me that AVN Award for my role as ‘Hapless Pizza Boy’ in Dirtpipe Conquistadors 17. Now they’ll probably give it to that guy who played ‘Stressed-Out Business Executive Who Just Needs Someone to Help Him Relax Before the Big Meeting’ instead. Pft. Goddamn Harvard boy; no respect for the working class.


Source: CNN

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11.20.13: Psychic Hoaxer Sylvia Browne – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 5:36 pm November 22, 2013

SYLVIA_BROWNEIf you want to be made uncomfortable in a way that’s not unlike looking through a photo album curated by a serial killer, go ahead and image search Sylvia Browne’s face. Seriously, go do it and then let me know how long you were able to gaze at that scrolling wall of dead-eyed Skeletors before checking to see if Amazon sells any kind of bleach that can be applied to your mortal soul. As a result of that very specific trauma, here’s a screencap of Eric Cartman fending off an attack from a group of television psychics instead.


Self-proclaimed psychic Sylvia Browne is dead today, and it looks like all of those anger management classes I’ve been taking are about to go right out the fucking window because that lady was a bitchface with a capital ‘evil cunt.’

Look, no one would like the world to be overrun with psychics and ghosts and remote viewers and lizard people more than me. Quiet frankly shit has gotten pretty boring while we all wait for 3D printers to become commonplace enough that we can make our own cockrings at home, far away from the judgmental stares of haughty sex shop part-timers. It’d really jazz civilization up to know that the X-Men have been walking among us this whole time. But—and I’m going to be sensitive about this so as not to offend those readers who truly have sound reasons for believing in the paranormal—it’s all bullshit, nobody’s ever been able to objectively verify any of this stuff under scrutiny, your beliefs are stupid, you’re probably not very attractive, and I slept with your girlfriend. Okay, things kinda got away from me at the end there. I apologize.

Browne made millions by trotting her “Is Courtney Love melting or did someone put clown makeup on a walrus?” face onto television and freestyling predictions to grieving parents about the whereabouts of their missing children. Which would be a pretty socially conscious thing to do, if every single prediction hadn’t proved to either be totally wrong or too vague to be given any credence. At that point most people would spend some time alone in a dark room considering the possibility that they may’ve mixed up “psychic” with “crazy person who sees shit that’s not there,” but Browne had the support of fellow emotional profiteer/only black guy who can’t make a shaved head look cool Montel Williams, who had her on his show weekly for 17 deliciously exploitatious years. Plus, Montel’s head kinda looks like a buttcheek, which I can’t help but think is really the straw that broke the camel’s back in terms of his scruples.

How inaccurate were Browne’s predictions? She actually incorrectly predicted her own death, stating unequivocally she wouldn’t die for another 11 years. Think about that for a second: Declaring your own date of death is literally the only significant and specific prediction that every single person with a functioning knowledge of how Tylenol overdosing works can successfully predict with pinpoint accuracy, and it requires no psychic powers whatsoever. Statistically speaking, Sylvia Browne could’ve actually been a more effective psychic without having actually been a psychic. It’s like a Möbius strip of logic, eternally doubling back onto itself until common sense simply collapses from exhaustion.

In fairness, most of us have, at one time or another, spent years using national platforms to instill false hope and/or grief for money and fame. Look, I was a teenager once too, I get it: I’ve recorded my fair share of 9/11 songs just like everybody else. Boys and opportunistic hucksters will be boys, right? But there’s also the matter of Browne’s history of shady investments dealings that funneled stolen revenue to her psychic “research foundation.” I’ve had hobos on the bus trying to sell me bags of their own bodily fluids with more credibility than this lady. Scamming people was so deeply encoded into her DNA that I’d only be marginally surprised if her death turned out to be a hoax to sell luxury caskets with improved lumbar support. If anything, I’d actually be cool with that one; all that lying down is really gonna play hell with my sciatica after a good three or four hundred years.

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10.25.13: ‘Simpsons’ Voice Actor Marcia Wallace – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:08 am November 1, 2013

MARCIA_WALLACESo this is how my childhood begins to die. Huh. I always figured there’d be an Eve 6 ballad playing in the background or something.


Sassy television actor Marcia Wallace passed away last week due to complications related to pneumonia. Wallace starred in The Bob Newhart Show and The Merv Griffin Show, but those of us who aren’t thousand-year-old mummymen know Wallace best as the voice of delightfully slutty Springfield Elementary teacher Edna Krabapple on The Simpsons. Wallace is the show’s first regular voice actor to pass, making it all the harder for me to continue denying the inevitability of a bleak, Hans Moleman-less future. Goddammit, that football hit him right in the groin! I swear, if God takes that away from us I’ll have no choice but to continue coming up with excuses not to go to church.

She had numerous TV appearances, and is remembered by “Brady Bunch” fans as the saleswoman who sold middle sister Jan a black wig in an infamous episode about accepting who you are. Other shows on her resume include “Charles in Charge,” “ALF,” “A Different World,” “Magnum, P.I.” and “The Young & The Restless.”

Oof. Alright, maybe the prescription in my nostalgia specs needs to be updated, but I’m just gonna say it: Those shows were weapons-grade terrible. Most of the writing is so lazy it makes this stupid blog look like Steinbeck in comparison (for which I’m grateful, actually). Seriously, in Charles in Charge they just went ahead and named the main character’s best friend “Buddy.” ALF was like someone detonated a box of gimmicks on a television set, and The Brady Bunch was clearly a coded message promoting incest, which I just don’t feel is appropriate at all. The final straw was A Different World, which, despite its title, appeared to be set entirely on Earth. I assume it’s only because they ran out of money to build the sets, but that’s still pretty misleading.

Source: NBC News

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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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8.31.13: Sir David Frost – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:42 am September 4, 2013

DAVID_FROSTHey, guess who I never knew had been knighted: Bill Gates. Of course, it was rescinded following the release of Windows Vista, but for three glorious months that man got free luxury shampooing at any car wash in the greater Yorkshire area.


Journalist, comedian and author Sir David Frost is dead this week after suffering a heart attack while on a cruise ship, proving what I’ve always said: Shuffleboard is entirely too stimulating. All those disks sliding every which way, who wouldn’t get a bit of a contact high?

Frost is perhaps best known for his 1977 series of interviews with former President Richard Nixon, which became increasingly contentious and, on the final day of taping, actually devolved into a hand-tied knife fight, a la the “Beat It” music video. Unfortunately television stations in the UK chose not to air that part and instead opted for a marathon of British comedy series A Right Cracking Dobber. It was no What’s All This, Then?, but it had its moments.

There are plenty of talk show hosts today who are quick witted and convivial, and there are still a few who do long, serious interviews about world affairs with statesmen, not just starlets.

Mr. Frost did it all, on both sides of the ocean, and made it seem effortless.

A true talent and a sad loss. But this does, however, bump me up the list of most esteemed living journalists who also tell jokes (or at least manufacture a joke-like paste in blog form). You’re next in my sights, Stewart, Colbert, and whoever’s currently hosting Weekend Update! Wait, it’s not Bobby Moynihan, is it? I really don’t know what to do about that guy’s face anymore. Stop making me think I saw John Belushi out of my periphery, kid!


Source: The NY Times

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8.24.13: Broadway Star Julie Harris – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 5:55 pm August 29, 2013

Tarzan - Season 1Harris, on the set of Tarzan in 1966. Pfft. I don’t see what the big deal is; I could’ve played that role, if producers weren’t so close-minded about a Tarzan who keeps his shirt on the whole time.


Famed theater actress Julie Harris died over the weekend, although if you live in a town populated by 18th century fops you probably already knew about it and I’m just reopening wounds right now. Sorry about that, but in my defense, your town sounds awful.

Over the years, Harris’ portrayals of historical women led to her being celebrated as one of the most esteemed performers in the history of Broadway, even surpassing such household names as That One Guy Who Was Most Likely Gay and That Lady Who Died (You Know Who I’m Talking About, the Lady). Wow, wouldn’t it have been amazing to have seen all three of them together in something?!

Sometimes called the first lady of the American theater, she made her first Broadway appearance while she was still in college, and over the next half century-plus earned 10 Tony nominations, more than any other performer. The last was in 1997 for a revival of “The Gin Game,” D. L. Coburn’s mordant comedy about the contentious friendship between two isolated denizens of an old age home that emerges over a card table.

Harris was also an accomplished film star, appearing in films such as 1955’s East of Eden, where she had the honor of sucking serious face with superhunk/white cotton t-shirt aficionado James Dean. I hear, if you do it right, it gives you the power to see in six dimensions.


Source: The NY Times

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