Monday, December 31, 2007

Farewell, Death Pool 2007

After 365 days, 30 teams, 283 names, 40 points-deaths, countless non-points deaths, and one exciting new blog, it is safe to say that Death Pool 2007 was the best Death Pool ever. We would like to thank each and every one of the 2007 participants for their, well, participation in this year's pool. Their membership is what keeps this pool going on a daily basis, and without them this pool would be a mere puddle. At the same time, we'd like to wish a fond farewell to those who have decided not to participate in Death Pool 2008; they will certainly be missed, and we wish them luck in all your future pools.

We'd like to take the opportunity to congratulate Yiz-Score upon winning the 2007 Death Cup. Yiz-Score's, um, score, of 89.29 points, coming from only 6 deaths, was 13 points higher than the 2nd-place finisher, El Esta Adead. We applaud both competitors for a hard-fought battle that came down to the home stretch of December. We look forward to another tightly contested competition in 2008. Finally, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the DP Rookie of the Year, Kraut's Picks, who saw 9 of his 20 picks die, the most of any team. He finished 3rd with 75.85 points.

A quick year in review: All in all, 283 different names were submitted for this year's pool and 40 of them died this year, giving Death Pool 2007 a robust 14% casualty rate. Go ahead and pat yourselves on the back; you've earned it. Of these 40, 17 were solo shots, 11 were picked by two teams, 7 by 3-5 teams, and the other 5 were picked by 7 or more teams. 576.35 points were awarded, for an average of 14.4 points per death. The most popular pick, Fidel Castro, picked by 17 teams, lived to see 2008. The same couldn't be said for the next 3 most popular: Brooke Astor (13 teams), Charles Lane (12), and Lady Bird Johnson (10). (LBJ was tied with Albert Hofmann, who as far as we know is still alive, also picked by 10 teams.) The champion, Yiz-Score, won on the strength of two solo shots and three 15-pointers, giving him 85 points from 5 deaths. (The late Tammy Faye Bakker provided the other 4.29.) The 40 deaths covered a wide spectrum of people: politicians and athletes, musicians and authors, athletes and journalists, philanthropists and entertainers. We learned about them, read about their lives, and received points for their deaths.

As one year turns into another and the calendar changes, we remain...

The Commissioner's Council

I Thought They Were Supposed to Be in the Closet

Skeletons have long been a symbol for death. Luckily for the country of Fiji, their President has none in his closet, just under his skin (at least that we know of. But then again, I guess that's why they would be in the closet).

Saturday was somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Fijian President's Ratu Josefa Iloilo's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 87! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Ratu Josefa Iloilo's name appears on 1 2007 Death Pool Roster and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-

  • His full name is Ratu Josefa Iloilovatu Uluivuda. The name he goes by is an example of a Fijian who has a surname, but does not generally use it, except for legal purposes. Iloilo, the name by which he is generally known, which most non-Fijians mistakenly assume to be his surname, is thus a diminutive of his second given name.
However, death by any name, still is death.

... And Many More!

Blues to Die for

"Weepin'" Willie Robinson, a blues singer who performed with Steven Tyler and Bonnie Raitt but also spent time homeless, has died at age 81. Robinson died Sunday in a fire started by a cigarette he was smoking in bed.

Robinson had been a sharecropper, an Army veteran and a friend of performers, including B.B. King. His daughter, Lorraine Robinson, told the Boston Globe her father found his place on stage. "A great smile would come on his face and he would be in his own little world, like he'd tune everything out," she said. "He just, like, felt the music. It was so much in his soul."

Robinson settled in Boston in 1959 and played in clubs, but by 2005 he was living on the street and out of touch with his family. Blues performers learned of his situation, held a benefit concert and made sure he was fed and clothed. Robinson later performed everywhere from local clubs to the hallways of the rest home where he lived.
It was another Blues-singing Willie, Willie Dixon, who set up the Blues Heaven Foundation in the 1980s. Somewhere in Heaven today the two Willies are singing in tandem: "I got the blues. I got the blues. I got the I lit my room on fire and died blues."

[Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

Friday, December 28, 2007

No More Tears

You may have thought tigers were dangerous-how about elephants? Strokes aren't that safe either. On that note...

Today is somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Senator Tim Johnson's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 61! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Tim Johnson appears on 2 2007 Death Pool Rosters and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-

  • Johnson defeated three-term Senator Larry Pressler in the 1996 U.S. Senate election, making him the only Senate candidate to defeat an incumbent in a year that saw thirteen open seats.
At least Senator Johnson's seat didn't open up this year, yet...

... And Many More!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Skipper Stu Nahan Signs Off for the Last Time

Yesterday we brought you news of the death of Jeanne Carmen, someone who spanned the globe in her career called life. Today we bring you Stu Nahan, another person who took whatever talents or skills he had and broadcast them to the world.

Longtime Los Angeles sportscaster, and former Toronto Maple Leaf goalie Stu Nahan, died Wednesday. He was 81. He had battled lymphoma since being diagnosed with that form of cancer in January 2006.

A former minor league hockey goalie and also familiar to movie fans for his appearances in the series of "Rocky" films, Nahan had been a sports anchor for three different television stations in Los Angeles. In addition to the Rocky films, Nahan also appeared in the film Fast Times at Ridgemont High and the TV movie Brian's Song.

Nahan also hosted a children's TV program there, as "Skipper Stu." He later moved to Philadelphia, where he was "Captain Philadelphia" on another children's show, and did play-by-play for the NHL's Flyers and the Eagles of the NFL.
Those who knew him say that Nahan brought some much-needed levity to the ulra-competitive and pressured world of broadcasting.
"He knew every player and he could joke with them. That's kind of the way he did his interviews - kind of needling the player a little bit and getting the player to loosen up and kind of laugh with him. He was very good at that. He was a sportscaster who was at the events. He didn't just stay in the studio."
If laughter really is the best medicine, Stu Nahan overdosed on it this week.

[Canadian Press]

Benazir Bhutto Killed in Suicide Bombing

We have some Islamabad news to report this morning.

Pakistan former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has died after a suicide attack, according to media reports. Geo TV quoted her husband saying the politician had died following a bullet wound in the neck.

The attacker is said to have detonated a bomb as he tried to enter the rally where thousands of people gathered to hear Bhutto speak, police said. Bhutto is said to have been leaving the rally when the attack occurred and was taken to a hospital in an unconcious state, the Geo TV report said.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Fictional Deaths Are Deaths, Too!

I know that people have come to expect Best-of's, Top 10's, and other year-in-review stuff from their favorite sites and blogs. The problem with that here at BDPE is that the end of the year is the time when almost all our efforts go into getting the next year's pool up and running, and who can find the time to recap the year that was? So, with a lack of year-end goodness from us (for now), enjoy this list of the Top 7 saddest TV deaths of 2007. For the record, fictional characters are not eligible for Death Pool.

Spoiler alert: If you're still catching up on, well, anything, read with caution. There's a lot of stuff listed there.


Her Name Was Jeanne Carmen, but Her Friends Called Her Shauna

Saying someone "led a full life" has become somewhat trite; everyone knows you're only saying it because you've got nothing of substance to say about the person. But I'm gonna go ahead and say it: Jeanne Carmen led a full life:

Jeanne Carmen, a longtime Orange County resident who earned stardom as a bombshell pinup, trick-shot golfer and "Queen of the B Movies," has died. She was 77. Carmen succumbed to lymphoma at her Turtle Ridge home on Thursday, according to her son, Brandon James.

But wait, there's more!
Her platinum blonde hair and hourglass build (36-26-36 measurements) landed her an off-Broadway job as a burlesque dancer, a gig she parlayed into photo shoots for then-risqué girlie magazines and roles in a wealth of bawdy, low-budget flicks that won her the title of "Queen of the B Movies."
What else?
Before making it big, she ran off to Las Vegas with a mobster named Johnny Roselli, and during her heyday on the silver screen, Carmen reportedly had hot-and-heavy flings with the likes of Clark Gable, Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley.
Honestly, I'm just amazed she never crossed paths with Forrest Gump. That guy was everywhere.

[OC Register]

Death of a Gunfighter (Well, Not Yet)

This person is not an acceptable choice for Death Pool 2008. However, it is a 2007 Death Pool selection's special day today...

Today is somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Actor Richard Widmark's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 93! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Richard Widmark appears on 2 2007 Death Pool Rosters and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-

  • His daughter, Anne Heath Widmark, an artist and author, married baseball legend Sandy Koufax on January 1, 1969 (but divorced in 1982).
He may have taken Sandy in his Death Pool this year but he wouldn't have spent $62,000 on his jersey.

... And Many More!

Is This from Oregon? No, It's from Heaven

For some time now, a Web site has allowed its employees to say a last goodbye to coworkers with a personal sendoff. We wonder if we were on our way out what wisdom we would leave to our fellow woman and man. Probably something about how to stop the leak in the company restroom.

One Oregon man though has decided that he wouldn't let death stand in his way of delivering his Christmas cards.

Even in death, Chet Fitch is a card. Fitch, known for his sense of humor, died in October at age 88 but gave his friends and family a start recently: Christmas cards, 34 of them, began arriving — written in his hand with a return address of "Heaven."

A friend for nearly 25 years, Debbie Hansen Bernard said, "All I could think was, 'You little stinker.'"

"It was amazing," she said. "Just so Chet, always wanting to get the last laugh."

The mailing was a joke Fitch worked on for two decades with his barber, Patty Dean, 57. "You must be getting tired of waiting to mail those cards," Fitch told her. "I think you'll probably be able to mail them this year." He died a week later.
Neither Rain nor snow nor sleet nor death, some mail belongs beside the Christmas wreath.

[Yahoo News!]

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

He's Not Healthy, He's My Brother

It was this time last year that reports came out that there was no chance of Fidel Castro living through 2007. Yet here we are at the end of the year, and Castro is still with us. What does 2008 have in store for the Cuban leader?

The brother of Cuban leader Fidel Castro says Mr. Castro's health is improving. Interim Cuban President Raul Castro says his 81-year old brother is in full control of his mental faculties, and has been exercising regularly -- regaining weight and muscle mass.

President Fidel Castro temporarily handed over power to his brother Raul in July of 2006, after undergoing intestinal surgery.
It sounds like Castro's now coasting in the right direction, toward health and freedom from disease.


Monday, December 24, 2007

Tough Week to have Known Charlie Parker

While Charlie "Bird" Parker has been dead since 1955, many of his contemporaries have continued to soar for decades. Until this week, that is.

First it was Parker's protege, Frank Morgan, who flew the coop last week. And now news is that Oscar Peterson, a jazz pianist who played with Dizzy Gillespie, Charlie Parker, Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington and Nat King Cole, has died at the age of 82.

Peterson began playing with the Johnny Holmes Orchestra, Canada's leading big band, in 1942, CBC said. He got a "big break'' in 1949 when he was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall with some of the biggest names in jazz and was touring the world by the 1950s. Peterson rose to prominence with his Oscar Peterson Trio and was featured in two movies.
Like they always say: Birds that play jazz together pass together.

[New York Sun]

You Would Think It Was in June

Luckily Barbara Billingsley never stuck out on Leave it to Beaver. If she had, maybe Beaver would never have been born. On a related note.....

Saturday was somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Actress Barbara Billingsley's Birthday. How Old Is She? 1,2,3,4... 92! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Barbara Billingsley appears on 1 2007 Death Pool roster and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-

  • She was the voice of "Nanny" and "The Little Train" on the Muppet Babies from 1984-1991
Evidently she takes care of Humans a lot better than Muppets. Those Muppet Babies were crazy.

... And Many More!

Zelda: Nelson Mandela Is Fine; Please Save Me, Link!

You can carry on with your holiday plans; former South African president Nelson Mandela is fine, contrary to rumors that had been going around.

Zelda la Grange said her office had been flooded with telephone enquiries related to these rumours and that she wished to state that they were not true. "Rumours have again surfaced today about Mr Mandela's well-being. Mr Mandela is in the former Transkei, where he is enjoying the festive season with his family."
We encourage you to enjoy the festive season, as well. The end of one Death Pool and the start of another is a joyous time for everyone.


Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mickey Rooney Still Making Plans at Age 87, Still Really, Really Short

Are you wondering what I'm wondering? How's Mickey Rooney doing these days? Well, let's ask him:

"People say to me, 'You're 87 years old, why are you still doing this?"

"I've been on stage since I was two years old. What else am I gonna do?"

"It was very emotional for me to visit Glasgow and see the street my father was born in. That special memory will always be in my heart. I just love Scottish people."

"It would be a dream come true to do a panto in Glasgow."

Finally: "What do you want me to do...die?"
Me? No. I didn't take you in DP 2007. But there are two people in our pool who might answer that differently.

[Sunday Mail]

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Disney President's Death in Real Animation

Alan Wagner, a former CBS programming executive who became the first president of the Disney Channel, died on Tuesday in Manhattan, where he lived. He was 76.

As East Coast vice president of programming at CBS from 1976 to 1982, Mr. Wagner was in charge of developing and overseeing hit shows like “All in the Family” “Kojak,” “M*A*S*H,” “The Bob Newhart Show,” “The Waltons” and “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

In 1982 the Walt Disney Company hired Mr. Wagner to oversee the development of what was then a novel idea, a cable channel dedicated to children and family programming. With a $100 million budget, he recruited a staff of programmers to create new shows as well as to draw from Disney’s extensive library of films and programs. The Disney Channel, starting as a 16-hour-a-day cable service, had its premiere in April 1983. Mr. Wagner was president for about a year.
Wagner should not be confused with the Florida man who died earlier this week on a ride at Walt Disney World. In that case:
Just before his death, Reeb had completed a run on the Expedition Everest ride at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. “The ride’s duration is approximately three minutes,” homicide detective Sam Talton stated is his report. “At about 11:26 a.m. EST, the ride ended. The victim was unconscious and did not exit the ride with all the other guests.”
Wagner, on the other hand, lived nearly four million minutes before his ride ended.

[New York Times]

Health in Algeria a Growing Concern

Poor sanitation and unclean water in Algeria have caused tuberculosis, hepatitis, measles, typhoid fever, cholera and dysentery. Sure sounds like an unpleasant place to be, especially when you're the ruler over this country with unsanitary conditions.

Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika falls out of sight for weeks at a time, and was notably silent when suicide bombs tore through two important buildings in Algiers, one housing UN offices. That rang alarm bells about his health and questions about his political plans for a country he has sought to stabilize.

Is the 70-year-old Bouteflika, who has been treated for a stomach ailment, still sick? Or is this a strategy to prolong his presidency? Or is it something more cryptic?
Earlier this year, Bouteflika escaped a bomb attack where he was reportedly the target. This attempt was perhaps one effort to give a very public death to someone who has been less than overly concerned about public health.

[Taipei Times]

Friday, December 21, 2007

Irony is Dead. Its Name Was Ken Hendricks.

On the 355th day of the year, we get the most ironic death of 2007, if not all-time:

The 91st-richest man in the United States, a roofing company billionaire, has died after falling through his home garage's roof, local authorities said Friday.

Ken Hendricks, 66, was checking on construction Thursday night on the roof at his home in the town of Rock when he fell through, Rock County Sheriff's Department Cmdr. Troy Knudson said.

Hendricks suffered massive head injuries, according to his company, ABC Supply Co.

Hendricks' wife called authorities and attempted CPR on her husband, Knudson said. Hendricks was taken first to a Beloit hospital and then transferred to Rockford Memorial Hospital in Winnebago County, Illinois.

Is it even possible to find an equatible scenario for the people at the top of Forbes's list? Bill Gates being eaten by a computer virus? I'm sure Mr. Hendricks did not want to die at the age of 66, but I'm willing to bet that this is the way he would've wanted to go.


In the Dead of Winter, a Stroke of Genius

Lewis C. Solmon, founding president of the Milken Institute economic think tank and an outspoken advocate of education reforms, including performance pay for teachers, has died. He was 65. Solmon died Monday at his West Los Angeles home as a result of a stroke.

Solmon, a UCLA professor emeritus, was dean of the university's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies from 1985 to 1991, when he became president of the Milken Institute. In 1997, he joined the Milken Family Foundation to focus on education issues and in 2005 became president of the foundation's nonprofit National Institute for Excellence in Teaching.

"Lew never wavered in his steadfast dedication and commitment to the pursuit of a high-quality education for all students," foundation chairman Lowell Milken said in a statement on the organization's Web site.
As we know, the human body requires a steady flow of warm blood. After that blood flow ceases, a dead body turns cold, as is surely the case with Solmon. But economists recently released a study on the effects of cold-weather on living people.

Moretti and Deschenes said that evidence suggests that people can get acclimatized to the cold. The recorded death rate was substantially larger in countries where people were exposed to 10 or fewer cold days a year and lower in counties that have at least 90 cold days a year, they said
No evidence yet points to men being more prone to "cold feet" at a Hawaiian Destination wedding than in the foothills of Alaska.

[San Jose Mercury News]
[UC Berkeley News]

He's Alive? I Guess Mugatu Still Has Not Gotten to Mahathir Mohammed

Wow, it's good we have a birthday to celebrate so we don't have to notice two kids who took "FINISH HIM" too seriously. I wonder if they used A-B-A-C-A-B or maybe just a back-back-forward.

Today is somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 82! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Mahathir Mohammed appears on 1 2007 Death Pool roster and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-

  • Early during his tenure, a small disagreement with the United Kingdom over university tuition fees sparked off a boycott of all British goods led by Mahathir, in what became known as the "Buy British Last" campaign
Years later, the campaign is still active among some zealots, only now it's "Buy British second-to-last. Buy Israel last."

... And Many More!

Oldest Living WWI Survivor J. Russell Coffey Dies

The last World War I veteran in Ohio, and one of only three known remaining U.S. veterans of the conflict, has died.

J. Russell Coffey was the last WWI vet in the state, according to the Veterans Affairs Department. He died Thursday at the age of 109, said the Smith-Crates Funeral Home in North Baltimore, about 35 miles south of Toledo. The funeral home did not say where Coffey died or the cause of death. He had been living in the Blakely Care Center, a nursing home.

Coffey, born Sept. 1, 1898, did not see action overseas. He enlisted in the Army while he was a student at Ohio State University in October 1918, a month before the Allied powers and Germany signed a cease-fire agreement.
That leaves Frank Buckles, 106, of Charles Town, W.Va., and Harry Landis, of Sun City Center, Fla., as the only other known surviving American soldiers from the war.

It's been 93 years since Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria was assassinated, but we continue to feel the impact of his life today.


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Frank Capra Jr. Had a Wonderful Life

Technically speaking, it was Frank Capra Sr. who was the legendary filmmaker responsible for such American classics as "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" and "It's a Wonderful Life." But make no mistake, Frank Capra Jr., who passed away at the age of 73, made his mark on Hollywood too:

Under Capra's leadership, EUE Screen Gems' credits include several major motion pictures, including "28 Days," "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood," "Domestic Disturbance," "Black Knight" and "A Walk to Remember."

He also was at the helm when "Dawson's Creek" — starring a then-unknown Katie Holmes — filmed at the studios, and he kept all nine of the studio's sound stages full in recent years between movies and the filming of another successful teenage soap, "One Tree Hill."

Do I even need to make a joke here? His dad gave us "I wouldn't give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn't have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a little looking out for the other fella, too." Junior? "Sleeping in the same bed was fine when we were kids, but we're fifteen now."


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

In Time for Holiday Season, Otto to Open His Heart. Literally.

Jim Otto, the former Raiders' center, and one of football's greatest palindromes, is in good spirits despite a multitude of health problems.

He had his right leg amputated above the knee July 19 at a Salt Lake City hospital. Then, with wife Sally at his bedside, he endured several weeks of excruciating pain and follow-up surgical procedures needed to avoid the spread of potentially fatal infection...

Early next year, Otto said he will have open-heart surgery for a condition related to ongoing health issues. The surgery will be performed at UC Davis Medical Center, where he has been both a prostate cancer patient and a major fund-raiser for prostate cancer research.

I guess this means we should expect to see Raider fans flocking to UC Davis Medical Center chanting, "You can do it Otto! You can do it Otto! Help each other out! That'll be our motto!"

[Sacramento Bee]

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Has Bill Clinton Been on a Tractor in a Bathing Suit Recently?

Those of you who took Bill Clinton on a whim for your 2008 DP rosters may be in luck. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports:

Is former President Bill Clinton sick? He did not look good on his recent appearance on the Charlie Rose show. His face was its usual ruddy hue, but his hands had a waxy, yellowish tone. While his mind was clear, he seemed tired and repeatedly rested his head in a hand.
I'm not sure what STD these are symptoms for, but maybe the former President got a leading role in the Hamlet of diseases.

[Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

Mark Connolly... Sometimes When You Win...

Anyone who has ever sat around through the bloopers in the credits of Rush Hour 2 knows a few things:

  1. Chris Tucker is not acting; that's his real voice
  2. "Gefilte Fish" is incredibly hard to pronounce for Chan-ese people
  3. Doing stunts is really hard and dangerous
Number three on that list was exceedingly true for Mark Connolly. While filming Mission Impossible II, Connolly was injured when he was hit by an airborne motorcycle during filming. The bike pulverized his right arm, almost ripping it from the socket. The injury shocked surgeons who reconstructed it with plates and screws. Connolly fought a court battle to be paid for damages from that injury. But like Mission Impossible II, his case seemed to have no ending.

Now it has two. On Friday, Connolly received word that he had received a one million dollar settlement. Two hours later, he died of pancreatic cancer.

Were the injury and the disease related? Connolly's mother think so:
"We could not say it in court, but Mark always said that he only got it [cancer] because of the stress and length of the court case," Ms Ramsay said. "He was only diagnosed last April with cancer. He was relieved by the judgment and felt vindicated because the defendant during the proceedings, as the transcript shows, was always of the view that Mark was to blame for what happened to him."
So Connolly got the money he deserved, but lost the life he had.

Gloria, care to explain?
Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose, you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic mechanism, from which one extracts what one needs.
[Sydney Morning Herald]

Murphy's Law Hits Home for Tommy

(For our younger readers (still time to sign up for DP2008, kids! You don't even have to ask your parents permission!), Murphy's law states that "whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.")

Tom Murphy may not be the man behind Murphy's Law, but for a good part of his life he oversaw many more laws... that's right, United States laws!

Former Georgia House Speaker Tom Murphy, a cigar-chomping country lawyer who towered over state politics when Democrats were at their zenith, died at 10 p.m. Monday, nearly four years after a stroke left him incapacitated. He was 83. A cantankerous character in a white Stetson, Murphy detested seat belts and Republicans with equal zeal. Most people addressed him simply as "Mr. Speaker," and in his record run as House leader he often wielded more power than the governors he served.

"While the family of Speaker Murphy has suffered the greatest loss, all Georgians have lost a true friend and a great political leader," [current House Speaker Glenn] Richardson said. "The stresses and responsibilities the job of speaker creates are too many to be counted, and yet, Speaker Murphy handled it all with dignity and distinction for 28 years."
Not mentioned in the article: Whether or not Murphy used to go around Georgia humming, "Speaker of the House. Doling out the charm. Ready with a handshake and an open palm..."

[Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Jules Dassin was Black Listed. Was it Keith Richards Who Painted it Black?

Go ahead and sing these two happy birthday. At least the birthday song can't be misconstrued as a death threat... If you're like me, you're sure that this isn't the first time Axl Rose has been involved with a death threat.

Today is somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Rolling Stones Guitarist Keith Richard's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 64! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Keith Richards appears on 3 2007 Death Pool rosters and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag. This one, courtesy of Ozzy Osbourne-

  • "I was knocked out when Keith Richards came out and said he snorted his father. I thought, Well, somebody’s gotta do something insane while I’m taking a break, you know? Thank God he was joking. I’ve already snorted a line of ants. I don’t need to try to top that!”
Today is somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Film Director Jules Dassin's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 96! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Jules Dassin appears on 1 2007 Death Pool roster and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag -
By the way, film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize moral ambiguity and sexual motivation. Now we all know....

... You've been birthday'd!

Baby I Need You Living

Last month the Boston Globe ran the following correction in its paper:

Because of a reporting error, a review of the new Boyz II Men album in yesterday's Sidekick incorrectly said that Four Tops singer Levi Stubbs is deceased. Stubbs, who is alive, no longer tours with the Four Tops.
Although the Four Tops sang into the late Motown period, suggestions of the late Levi Stubbs are premature. For evidence of the passing of fellow Four Tops singer, Lawrence Payton, see here.

[Boston Globe]

Monday, December 17, 2007

Joel Dorn's Heart No Longer Strumming His Pain. It Killed Him Softly

Now I have to be telling his whole life with my words. Let me summarize him thusly:

I heard he sang a good song,
I heard he had a style,
And so I came to see him and listen for a while...
I felt all flushed with fever
Embarrassed by the crowd,
I felt he found my letters and read each one out loud,
I pray that he would finish
But he just kept right on

That was Joel Dorn. He always just kept right on. Until Monday, that is. On Monday, Joel Dorn, the Grammy-winning producer of such hits as "Killing me Softly," died of a heart attack. Dorn worked with such luminaries as Roberta Flack, Max Roach and the Neville Brothers. He put his touch on the album of so many artists:

In the pop field, he helped set Bette Midler and Flack on the course to stardom, producing their debut albums. He and Flack won consecutive record of the year Grammys, for "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "Killing Me Softly With His Song." He also ventured into rock with the Allman Brothers Band's second release, 1970's "Idlewild South," and Don McLean's 1974 album, "Homeless Brother."
One can't help but wonder if Dorn's heart would have been in better shape had Lou Brown succeeded in getting Dorn to do calisthenics, despite his contract.

[Washington Post]

Veteran Actor John Berg Commits Suicide

An actor who had small roles in more than a dozen television shows was found dead at his home after committing suicide, authorities said Monday. The body of John Berg, 58, was found Sunday. The autopsy showed toxic levels of carbon monoxide in his system and the cause of death was suicide.

"Life was treating him well," said Liz Hanley, Berg's agent.

Along with acting, Berg maintained a political blog in which he wrote that he was "passionate about acting, and even more passionate about leaving the country and the world better" than he found it.
Or was it suicide after all? Sunglasses on...This was truly the role of a lifetime.

[USA Today]

I hope Napoleon and the Other Pigs Take Care of Fidel Castro

All those attempts to assassinate Fidel Castro may finally be paying off. You know, 40 years later. Castro tells CubaVision TV that he is considering retirement:

"My basic duty is not to cling to office, nor even more so to obstruct the rise of people much younger, but to pass on experiences and ideas whose modest value arises from the exceptional era in which I lived," Castro said in the letter read on Cuban television.
If I understood "Animal Farm" correctly, Castro is about to get turned into glue.


How's Howe Doing?

Glad you asked. Gordie Howe, the legendary "Mr. Hockey," is 81, and actually was picked in this year's pool. But it looks like he's gonna make it through '07 and beyond:

"My health is pretty good. They put two stents in my heart. There's lots of history in my family of heart disease. But I'm pretty good. I've got new lenses for my eyes. But you take a tremendous beating playing the game, I don't care who you are. But you don't realize it because you're having too much fun."
So to recap, his ticker could be in trouble someday, but do NOT worry about his eyes. Man's got new lenses!

[Winnipeg Free Press]

Oscar Niemeyer, Arthur C. Clarke, and Bob Guccione Walk into a Bar...

... Ouch!

Two weekend birthdays, and a Monday party for you as you figure out how to avoid storm drains in your neighborhood...

This weekend was somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Architect Oscar Niemeyer's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 100! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Oscar Niemeyer appears on 2 2007 Death Pool rosters and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-

  • Brazil’s first listed modern monument was Niemeyer’s Pampulha Church of São Francisco de Assis, in Pampulha.
Google Earth confirms its beauty. You can check out the model here.

This weekend was somebody else's birthday! Whose Birthday? Science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 90! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Arthur C. Clarke appears on 1 2007 Death Pool roster and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-
  1. When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
  2. The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
  3. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Today (Really, today) is somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Penthouse Publisher's Bob Guccione's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 77! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Bob Guccione appears on 1 2007 Death Pool roster and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-
  • In the 90's, Guccione's efforts to regain Penthouse sales and notoriety included attempts to get Monica Lewinsky to pose for the magazine and offering the Unabomber a free forum for his views.
He was not successful.

... And Many More!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Day the Music Died for Fogelberg

Scoring Update! The points change, death remains the same...

Singer-songwriter Dan Fogelberg, famed for the soaring vocals and elegant instrumentation of tunes such as "Longer" and "A Love Like This," died on Sunday, three years after being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. He was 56.

"He fought a brave battle with cancer and died peacefully at home in Maine with his wife Jean at his side," said a posting on his Web site.

"His strength, dignity and grace in the face of the daunting challenges of this disease were an inspiration to all who knew him."
Congratulations and 15 points awarded to Yis-Score and Hey hey hey Goodbye. This death propels Yiz-Score into first place with just over two weeks remaining in the season. The Rosters and Standings have been updated.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Steel Worker Copes with Pneumonia Again

Former Pittsburgh Steelers broadcaster Myron Cope is back in the hospital, battling pneumonia.

Cope, 78, has been in and out of the intensive care unit while doctors try to clear his lungs and try to figure out why pneumonia keeps recurring. In May 2006, Cope was hospitalized for pneumonia, too.

In 2004, he was diagnosed with polymyalgia, a condition that has kept the "Terrible Towel" inventor in constant pain.
For more about pneumonia in Pittsburgh, see here.

[The Pittsburgh Channel]

The Mysterious Death of Tonya M. Harding's Conspirer

Brian Sean Griffith (and formerly Shawn Eckhardt), a former bodyguard to figure skater Tonya Harding who admitted a role in the attack on her rival Nancy Kerrigan during Olympics tryouts, has died of natural causes, according to his doctor. He was 40.

Griffith, of Beaverton, was Harding's bodyguard when the Portland-born skater competed for a spot on the U.S. Olympic figure skating team in 1994. That January, an assailant clubbed Kerrigan in the knee, forcing her out of the competition. The International Committee of the U.S. Figure Skating Association granted Kerrigan a spot anyway, and she recovered in time to win a silver medal at the Olympics.

Days after the attack, Griffith confessed, detailing a plan that he and Harding's ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, had hatched. Griffith was sentenced to 18 months in prison for racketeering but was released four months early, in September 1995.

"Shawn Eckardt died a long time ago," his brother, Mike Skinner, told The Oregonian. "There is no other person than Brian Griffith."
This death spiral gets 10s across the board.

[ABC News]

Bringing Down The House, One Death at a Time

Rep. Julia Carson, the Indiana congresswoman who announced last month that she had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, died today. She was 69.

“During her time in the House, she was a powerful advocate for the people of Indianapolis, and for all working families throughout our great nation,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said. “In recent months, Julia Carson faced illness with her characteristic courage and dignity, and in our sadness, we are reassured to know she is now at peace.”

Carson is the fifth member of the House of Representatives to die this year.
No word on whether Carson died on the floor.

[Baltimore Sun]

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Freddie Fields' Family Facilitates Flowers for Funeral

What's that you say? Liza has taken a tumble? Somebody better alert one of her agents! Oh... scratch that.

Freddie Fields, the legendary Hollywood agent, producer and studio executive who helped make stars of Mel Gibson, Richard Gere and others with films like The Year of Living Dangerously, American Gigolo and Glory, has died at age 84. Fields died Tuesday at his Beverly Hills home, said publicist Warren Cowan, a longtime friend. The cause of death was lung cancer, Cowan told The Associated Press on Wednesday. During a long, colorful career as one of Hollywood's biggest behind-the-scenes players, Fields founded the international talent agency Creative Management Associates and served as president of two major film studios, MGM and United Artists.

At ICM, Fields' talent roster included Newman, Caine, Streisand, Robert Redford, Gene Hackman, Woody Allen, Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, Steve McQueen and directors Arthur Penn, Steven Spielberg, Mel Brooks, Sidney Pollack, George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola, and Paul Mazursky.
Wow. Denzel, Gibson, Gere. Glory, American Gigolo. Did the obit need to mention that Fields "was executive producer and a partner in television's nationally syndicated The Montel Williams Show"? Jeez, nobody's perfect.

[USA Today]

How to Avoid the "Bucket List"

For all of you who thought smoking was a smart thing to do, you can thank Jack Nicholson for shattering that illusion for you.

"Look, nobody should smoke. It is not so much that you fear that moment when somebody comes in and says, 'That's it. You're dead. You smoked too much.' Well, that's not the real fear. "The real fear is going through now the process and thinking, 'I'm dying of stupidity.' This is the self-recrimination about it."
At least his stupidity will probably garner Death Pool points for someone in the somewhat near future.

[PR Inside]

Dick Van Dyke Merry He is Poppin' to 82

A birthday to celebrate as you simply ponder this headline: Man Charged Over Limerick Hotel Death

Hmm... I can't help but suspect this guy.

Today is somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Actor Dick Van Dyke's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 82! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Dick Van Dyke appears on 2 2007 Death Pool rosters and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-

  • At different points in his career, Dick Van Dyke has starred in shows titled "The Dick Van Dyke Show," "The New Dick Van Dyke Show," and "The Van Dyke Show," as well as a TV special called "The Dick Van Dyke Show Revisited."
On tap for 2008: "The New Dick Van Dyke Show Van Dyke Show Revisited 2"

... And Many More!

Minnelli Continues Her Fall From Stardom

Liza Minnelli's been through a lot. If the substance abuse, several stints in rehab, and nearly dying from a bout of what was widely reported as encephalitis weren't enough, the entertainer visited a psychiatric center to deal with issues stemming from her heavily-publicized divorce from David Gest. And the list continues to grow.

Minnelli collapsed on stage a few songs into a performance in Sweden's second city and was taken to hospital before being discharged on Thursday, a concert promoter said. Minnelli collapsed during a Christmas show Wednesday night and fell off the side of the stage but was caught by a technician and escaped additional injuries, said Michael Silfverskiold, a local promoter.

"It was a terrible situation," he said. "She fell off the side of the stage. The production manager caught her." She was discharged from the hospital Thursday morning and flown back to the United States, Silfverskiold said. He did not know the cause of the collapse and had no other information about her medical condition.
In obvious pain as a result of the fall, Minnelli didn't give the crowd the performance they had come to see. Police were called after many angry concert-goers had demanded their money back.

At the rate Minnelli is going, we think it's only a matter of time before we confuse her 2002 Broadway stage production Liza's Back! with something an assistant will frantically cry out backstage while searching for a medical professional.

[Yahoo! News]

Shwe-ing Put For Longer Than You Thought

Than Shwe's health has been the focus of many news reports coming out of Burma this year. But now images are surfacing showing that those reports may have led the public to falsely believe the head of state is in poorer shape than he actually is.

Burma's state media has showed rare photographs of the nation's ageing [sic] junta leader, Than Shwe, as he inspected dams around the country, apparently in a bid to ease concerns about his health. The reclusive senior general is rarely seen in public and almost never shown in official media.

But since the 74-year-old spent 13 days in a Singapore hospital in January, the junta has periodically released pictures of Than Shwe to quell rumours that his health is weakening.
The Shwe family appears to have a lot to be than-kful for this holiday season, even if they are in Laos.

[Radio Australia]
[Mizzima News]

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Deathbed Confessions with Ike Turner

Musician Ike Turner has died at the age of 76. Cause of death is currently unknown.

Turner, whose role as one of rock's critical architects, was overshadowed by his ogrelike image as the man who brutally abused former wife and icon Tina Turner. Turner managed to rehabilitate his image somewhat in his later years, touring around the globe with his band the Kings of Rhythm and drawing critical acclaim for his work. He won a Grammy in 2007 in the traditional blues album category for "Risin' With the Blues."
In one of Turner's songs titled "Deathbed (Na Na Na)", Turner stated: "All I know is you'll be sorry/Sorry when i'm dead/Dead and gone/In a bitchin' blaze of glory/Holding a grudge can take a lifetime/And there's a lot that i got to say/I'll tell it to the world/On my deathbed/Someday/Na, na, na, na, na, na."

While there are no reports about what Turner ultimately said on his deathbed, he did tell The Independent in a 2005 interview, "I would say that I'm the guy that went all the way to the top, and then I've come all the way back down to the bottom again. And then bounced. And, like, today I can say that whatever I do from now, my life is great today."

Resurrection and recovery is always a possibility with this one.

[NBC Sandiego]
[The Independent]

Doesn't Say Anything About Avoiding Death Pools

Seinfeld warned us about the dangers of tractors. After all, we know Sophie's tractor story: she got gonorrhea from riding a tractor in her bathing suit.

But Tractors can be even more dangerous than transmitting STDs. This, according to the grand prize winning label of the 11th annual Wacky Warning Label Contest:

Grand Prize: A label on a small tractor that warns: "Danger: Avoid Death."
I'm sorry- Wacky Label? I think that's a very important label. I just wish this guy had seen it...

Alright, that's it for me. You've been great. Goodnight everybody.

[ABC News]

Johnson is a Year Older, a Year Wiser, a Year Healthier

Last winter, South Dakota Senator Tim Johnson's life was in danger. A brain hemorrhage threatened to take his life from him. A year later though the senator is preparing to run for re-election.

He says doctors are amazed at his recovery, and they believe his speech and physical condition will continue to improve. The 60-year-old's speech is slurred but has improved noticeably since he returned to work in September. He walks around his home and office using a cane, and uses a scooter to travel long distances in the Capitol.
You stay healthy, South Dakota.

[The KREN Reno]

Ed Koch has Bob Barker's Birthday Exactly. Does He Win Both Showcases?

It was Bono who crooned " Where you live should not decide/ Whether you live or whether you die."

It was Lynne Cossman, Mississippi State research fellow, who wrote that "place" definitely has significance when scientifically examining mortality rates on the local and national level.

It was us who said that no matter where you live, as long as you are alive, we say "Happy Birthday!"

Today is somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? ex-New York Mayor Ed Koch's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 83! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Koch appears on 1 2007 Death Pool roster and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-

  • The mayor of New York in Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, and The Real Ghostbusters was supposed to resemble Koch in both appearance and attitude, and is even given the first name "Ed" in the film novelization by Richard Mueller.
Ray... If someone asks you if you're a mayor, you say... YES!

Today is somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Price is Right host retiree Bob Barker's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 84! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Barker appears on 8 2007 Death Pool rosters and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-
  • Bob Barker is the oldest winner of any MTV award. In 1996, at the age of 73, Barker won the MTV Movie Award for Best Fight for his role in the Adam Sandler movie "Happy Gilmore."
I guess Barker has not "had enough... Bitch!"

... And Many More!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Can't Imagine How AP Got This Death Scoop

Rene J. Cappon, longtime editor for The Associated Press and the word master behind some of its best writers, died Sunday. He was 83.

The Viennese-born Cappon, known to colleagues as Jack, died Sunday in a nursing home in Port Washington, N.Y., said his wife, Susan. He died of what was believed to be natural causes. Over a half-century at the AP, Cappon held a variety of jobs: editor and reporter in Baltimore and Kansas City, Mo.; editor of AP NewsFeatures; writing coach; and general news editor when that was the top editorial position for the news cooperative. He retired in 2002.

Click the link above (or below, for that matter) for more info, including the nugget that "Of all languages, English was the one that seduced him." Oh, that English. Such a temptress. In the end, though, I think we all know she's just a tease.

[AP (Duh!)]

Long Live Th---... What's That? Oh. Um... Long Live Dr. Phil!

Assuming Merv Griffin started a TV company in the afterlife, it's probably safe to assume he'd hire Roger King. Yeah, that's King as in King World:

Roger M. King, the CBS and King World Productions executi
ve who helped bring stars including Oprah Winfrey, Alex Trebek and "Dr. Phil" McGraw to television, died Saturday of a stroke, a CBS spokesman said. He was 63.King was stricken at his home in Boca Raton, Fla., on Friday and died Saturday at a hospital, CBS spokesman Chris Ender told The Associated Press. At the time of his death King was chief executive officer of CBS Television Distribution. He joined the network in 2000 when his groundbreaking company, King World Productions, merged with CBS.
We encourage all TV viewers who watch Oprah, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Dr. Phil, or syndicated reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond, CSI, Survivor, The Amazing Race, or America's Top Model, to take a moment to think about the man who made it all possible. OK, not if you're watching America's Top Model. You have other issues to work out.

[SF Gate]

Tombstones Go Digital; Nary a Sold

Want to leave a message for your relatives and friends from the grave? New technology allows for it through high-tech digital images powered by a solar cell. But it hasn't been received well by the public thus far.

The panel mounts to the front of the gravestone and pays tribute to the deceased in color pictures, words, music and even videos. It's all from a small memory chip inside a device that opens like the front cover of a book.

"I haven't sold any," said Doug Ellis of Riverview Monuments, who has been offering the so-called "serenity panel" system for about $2,000 since February.

Ellis, 54, said maybe 15 potential customers have spent time looking and listening to the gravestone player he displays in his store. One woman asked him to mail her pricing information. But nobody has been serious about buying one.
Despite poor sales numbers, this technology brings with it the chance to revolutionize the legacy that the deceased can leave behind.
"That is a big step, putting electronics on your headstone," Cheri Lucking said. "People are used to sandblasted, granite and marble and things like that."

Ways of honoring the dead are changing because of technology, Lucking said.
If Pavarotti was digitally alive today, we wonder what he'd sing.


Sunday, December 9, 2007

Frances Reid to Kirk Douglas: 1 Degree of Separation

Some birthdays for you to celebrate, so you can stop wondering when some Mexican musician is going to go Antonio Banderas -Desperado all over everybody's ass.

Now, help yourself to a double heaping of cake, because...

Today is somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Actor Kirk Douglas's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 91! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Douglas appears on 9(!) 2007 Death Pool rosters and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-

  • In the 2003 movie "It Runs in the Family," three generations of a fictional family are depicted by Kirk Douglas, Michael Douglas, and Cameron Douglas, real life grandfather, father, and son.
Douglas is still as determined as Spartacus though: "I'd do it! I'm still a young guy!" So says the sprightly Kirk Douglas when asked if he'd make another movie.

Today is somebody else's birthday! Whose Birthday? Actress Frances Reid's Birthday. How Old Is She? 1,2,3,4... 93! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Reid appears on 1 2007 Death Pool roster and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-
  • Frances Reid has portrayed matriarch Alice Horton on Days of Our Lives since the series premiered in November 1965. 42 years later, she is still playing the same character!
To quote Catherine Deveny "Frances Reid is 93 years old and still plays the role of Alice Horton. Someone give that woman a medal. And some stewed prunes." I mean, she is no Helen Wagner, but that's pretty damn impressive.

... And Many More!

Saturday, December 8, 2007

What's Going On With Lewis? Can He Shake It?

Singer Jerry Lee Lewis was set to take the stage tonight at Charleston Music Hall. Tickets cost between $75 and $225. Word has come down, however, that Lewis will not perform this evening.

Jerry Lee Lewis has postponed his show scheduled for 8 p.m. today because of sudden illness. The new date for the performance, which is a benefit for the MUSC Children's Hospital Fund, is Jan. 26 at 8 p.m. Tickets for today's show will be honored for the Jan. 26 performance.
As a small consolation for disappointed ticket holders, we offer this video of Lewis performing in 2004 with Kid Rock.

[The Post and Courier]

Friday, December 7, 2007

Furthering the Death of Classical Music

Karlheinz Stockhausen, whose electronic works made him one of the most important composers of the postwar era, has died at age 79. His avant-garde style made him world-renowned.

Stockhausen was considered by some an eccentric member of the European musical elite and by others a courageous pioneer in the field of new music. Rock and pop musicians such as John Lennon, Frank Zappa and David Bowie have cited him as an influence, and he is also credited with having influenced techno music.

Stockhausen sparked controversy in 2001, when he described the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks in the United States as "the greatest work of art one can imagine" during a news conference in the northern German city of Hamburg, where several of the suicide pilots had lived. The composer later apologized, but the city still canceled performances of his concerts.
Stockhausen's life ended on an innovative Andalusian cadence.

[Yahoo! News]

...And well. Out of hospital, back on set.

A short while ago, we stated that actor Eli Wallach had been hospitalized. No other details were reported.

It turns out he was there for a hip-replacement upgrade. He's since left Lenox Hill Hospital and gone to work on his newest movie.

"He's doing really well. He's sailing. They're calling him a medical miracle, because he defies all odds," said Wallach's daughter, Katherine.
From what we can tell, Wallach now has half of a hard-boiled egg, a green olive and a shoe horn keeping his midsection together.

[NY Post]

Eli Wallach, at 92: Still ugly but celebrating birthdays and alive...

"Those who live in glass houses shouldn't pee on them." It's a saying for a reason. On the brighter side, here is someone who was never killed for protesting urination:

Today is somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Actor Eli Wallach's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 92! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Wallach appears on 3 2007 Death Pool rosters and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-

  • In 2006, Wallach made a guest appearance on "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip," playing a former writer on "The Philco Comedy Hour", a comedy show that aired on the fictional NBS network, who was blacklisted in the 1950s. Wallach earned a 2007 Emmy nomination for his work on the show.
If he earned an Emmy nomination for Studio 60... he must be something special. Happy Birthday!

... And Many More!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Password(of-the-year) is "Sterbetourismus"

Good news! Switzerland has a new word of the year. It's... it's... sterbetourismus!

What does it mean, you ask? Don't feel bad, my original guesses were all wrong too. It is not any of the following:

  1. The substance with which Barry Bonds injects himself in the ass
  2. The next installment in "hilarious" Dane Cook TV shows
  3. The sister of Abi Titmuss
  4. Another Costanza invented variation of Christmas
What is sterbetourismus then? It can be loosely talented as "death tourism," and it's on the rise in Switzerland. You see, on the issue of assisted suicide, Switzerland is uncharacteristically not neutral:
Most Swiss support assisted suicide – in which the terminally ill have to carry out the final act themselves – but they are divided over whether the laws should apply to foreigners... The global spotlight had only turned to Switzerland's liberal laws on assisted suicide when the number of foreign "patients" increased.
To recap - the top word: Death Tourism; the top death tourist destination: Switzerland.

I don't know, to me - that is an upset. Had I guessed the top destination for dying people, I would have gone with "the ground."

[Swiss Info]

Nicole Richie Would Like to Have Gained These Pounds for a Reason

We here at BDPE tend to focus on death more than life. But once in awhile it's instructive to take a good look at life. Here's how life works: if I'm in a court-mandated anti-drinking problem and I don't feel well and want to leave, I'm probably out of luck. But then again, I probably wouldn't get 82 minutes in jail for a DUI either. As for famous people...

Mom-to-be Nicole Richie has been granted a leave of absence from her court-mandated anti-drinking program, her rep confirms to PEOPLE. The program suggested the Simple Life star take a leave because they were worried for her safety, according to her rep. "They offer that option to anyone with a medical condition of any kind," the rep says. "She is not receiving special treatment."
Granted, she is eight months pregnant, so she probably doesn't feel all that great. Then again, I doubt that fetus has been nourished enough to even have the energy to kick.


Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Sweet Star Made Retire

Karl Malden, the 95 year old ex-Hollywood star of the 50's-70's who worked with such luminaries as Marlon Brando and won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for "A Streetcar Named Desire," is living peacefully in Los Angeles nowadays.

I have also cleverly culled the following facts:

  • December 18th is Karl Malden's 69th wedding anniversary. Don't forget to send a card
  • Karl Malden hit the winning shot to defeat Hammond High School to end the 1931 high school basketball season
  • $3.49 was a good salary for a day of work in the 30's
  • Karl Malden's real last name is Sekulovich
  • Karl Malden's last acting appearance was in a 2000 episode "Take this Sabbath Day" of "The West Wing"
  • There is no chin under Karl Malden's beard; there is only another fist
He also gives a good interview and seems to be pretty healthy:
"I feel pretty good most days. I have a nurse that's here in the house to help out in case I need anything. And, like anyone, I have good days and bad days. But mostly, I'm feeling okay."
... And now that you've read this post, test your Karl Malden knowledge. For your pleasure: the Daily Karl Malden Quiz!

[Northwest Indiana Times]

Rap Community in Scurvy Danger From Lack of Pimp C

As we go on, we remember All the times we had together And as our lives change, from whatever You will still be, dead forever

Pimp C, one of the early progenitors of the Southern hip hop scene, was found dead in a Los Angeles hotel Tuesday at the age of 33. The death appears to be of natural causes, said the police.

Pimp C was best known for his cameo on Jay-Z's "Big Pimpin'," but also led off Three 6 Mafia's ode to getting high by drinking cough syrup, with the poetic "I'm trill working the wheel. A pimp, not a simp. Keep the dope fiends higher than the Goodyear blimp. We eat so many shrimp I got iodine poisoning."
The rapper formed Underground Kingz with partner-in-rhyme Bun B while the pair were in high school... Though they never enjoyed massive pop chart success, UGK's early CDs are considered landmarks for the then-burgeoning Texas hip-hop scene, which also featured the Geto Boys. Signed to a deal with Jive Records, they released "Too Hard to Swallow" in 1992, "Super Tight" two years later, and "Ridin' Dirty" in 1996, considered a rap classic.
Jay Z sang "We doin' big pimpin' up in NYC / It's just that Jigga-man, Pimp-C and B.U.N.B."

Sadly, Pimp-C's days of pimpin', big or otherwise, are relegated to Ho-ven now.


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Drawing Dead, Reese Forced to Fold

Poker legend David "Chip" Reese, who won three World Series of Poker bracelets, has died from symptoms of pneumonia. He was 56.

"I knew him for 35 years, I never saw him get mad or raise his voice," Doyle Brunson said. "He had the most even disposition of anyone I've ever met. He's certainly the best poker player that ever lived."

"We went to look for the Titanic. We went to look for Noah's Ark. We were two of the biggest suckers whenever it came to business, but we both had poker to fall back on," Brunson said. "Thank God we could play, so we always survived."
[Las Vegas Sun]

Ghost Writer Leaves with Pen in Hand

Elizabeth Hardwick helped found the New York Review of Books in 1963. She died at age 91 this past weekend.

Although she started out as a fiction writer, Hardwick received her greatest acclaim as a critic. Joyce Carol Oates likened her essays — long, playful, meditative, deeply informed — to those of Virginia Woolf. "Seduction and Betrayal," an analysis of such literary heroines as Hester Prynne of "The Scarlet Letter," became required reading for studies of women in fiction.

"She was a brilliant essayist, absolutely," Oates told The Associated Press on Tuesday. "She was a kind of genius in that difficult form, in which the personal and the critical, or cultural, were melded together in brilliant prose."
Hardwick's first novel was "The Ghostly Lover," which came out in 1945. We can't help but wonder if this is the end of the road for Hardwick's career, or just the beginning.


He Gave us 22 Minutes, We Give Him - His World

"Gather those rosebuds" to place at his grave... Larry Wachtel, "The Voice of Wall Street," has died today at the age of 77.

Wachtel provided daily stock market commentaries on 1010 WINS radio in New York for 33 years, and appeared frequently on the CBS Evening News. With his trademark Brooklyn accent, he had a knack for explaining complex concepts and helped translate finance for a broad audience:

Wachtel was a frequently quoted expert who specialized in translating Wall Street trends to laymen. In a hot market, he might tell investors to "break out the punch bowl and celebrate the activities of 'El Toro' the bull..." He once broadcasted of a volatile market. "This market has more moves than a Dr. J slam-dunk, and each one is a heart stopper."
Market Analysts Die on the 4th. Traffic and Weather correspondents should be careful on the 1's.

[New York Sun]

Saturday, December 1, 2007

See No Evel, Hear No Evel, Speak No Evel

Scoring Update! The points change, death remains the same...

Evel Knievel's hard life killed him _ it just took longer than he or anyone else might have expected. The hard-living motorcycle daredevil, whose bone-breaking, rocket-powered jumps and stunts made him an international icon in the 1970s, died Friday. He was 69.

He had been in failing health for years, suffering from diabetes and pulmonary fibrosis, an incurable condition that scarred his lungs. He had undergone a liver transplant in 1999 after nearly dying of hepatitis C, likely contracted through a blood transfusion after one of his many spills.

He also suffered two strokes in recent years.Longtime friend and promoter Billy Rundle said Knievel had trouble breathing at his Clearwater condominium and died before an ambulance could get him to a hospital.
Congratulations and 15 points awarded to Beating a Dead Horse and Kraut's Picks. The Rosters and Standings have been updated.

[CBS News]

Friday, November 30, 2007

Roger Smith Fails His Final Safety Rating

Former General Motors Corp Chief Executive Roger Smith has died. He was 82. Years. Old.

Smith was appointed chairman and CEO of General Motors in January 1981 and continued at the helm of the world's largest automaker until July 1990. In his tenure, he oversaw a sweeping reorganization of the No. 1 U.S. automaker, and some nice things were said about him:

"Roger Smith led GM during a period of tremendous innovation in the industry," GM CEO Rick Wagoner said on Friday. "He was a leader who knew we had to accept change, understand change, and learn to make it work for us."

However, it was not all roses. He also oversaw what has been called "the biggest catastrophe in American industrial history." In 1984, he tried to replace every mid-size car produced by GM. His plan crashed in a head on collision. He had no airbags. He caused traffic to back up for miles. Yes, he was that guy.

On the plus side, Michael Moore made a documentary about him. I didn't see it, but I imagine we learned that GM's failed plan was a vast George Bush led conspiracy to get car making power back in the hands of Dick Cheney.


We Got No Basketball Team, No Radio Announcers... Our PETS HEADS ARE FALLING OFF!!

The city of Seattle suffered a great loss yesterday when longtime Radio personality Larry Nelson died of lung cancer at the age of 70. Nelson was known as "the soundtrack of the morning" as he hosted the morning show on KOMO-AM/1000 from the 1960s to his retirement in 1997 with a warm, friendly, upbeat but never frenetic approach that drew in generations of listeners. He was also widely known in the Seattle area for his on-air Huskies tailgate parties when KOMO was the broadcast rights holder for University of Washington football.

Up to the last, son Jeff said, his father was providing him with material for his show. "Some of the jokes were delightfully inappropriate," he said. "I'm still trying to get a handle of how to tell them on the air."
Sounds like our type of guy.

[Seattle Post-Intelligencer]

What do Dick Clark and Jaques Barzun Have in Common?

A double dose of birthday for you, as you ponder the possibility that someone is taking out South Korean quarry workers, Munich style...

Today is somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Historian Jaques Barzun's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 100! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Jaques Barzun appears on 1 2007 Death Pool roster and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-

  • In 2000, he finished the 800 page From Dawn to Decadence: 500 Years of Western Cultural Life, 1500 to the Present. He has had five more works published since that time
For more on Barzun, check out the Barzun100 blog or this piece from last month's New Yorker magazine

Today is somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Entertainment Mogul Dick Clark's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 78! And Never been Kissed By... Death

Dick Clark appears on 9 2007 Death Pool rosters and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-
  • Clark's career in show business began in 1945 when he started working in the mailroom of radio station WRUN in Utica, New York (which was owned by his uncle and managed by his father). Clark's first television hosting job was on the Cactus Dick and the Santa Fe Riders, a country music program.
... And Many More!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Steve Fossett May Become Victim of the Seven Year Itch

We brought you news earlier this week about Steve Fossett, explorer not-so-extraordinaire, who disappeared while flying his plane in September. Now, I am no explorer. I don't even play one on TV like Bear Grylls. But I think I could guess some of the rules to "How to explore stuff 101." For example, I would put the following somewhere on my list:

  1. Bring a Parachute
  2. Have something (let's say a transponder) to send out a distress signal
Fossett brought neither. And now his wife wants him to be declared legally dead. But what are the rules on that? When can a death announcement be made? Like craps, it's a 7 that changes everything:
"Seven years is simply the line in Illinois after which the basic presumption changes," said Floyd Perkins, a former Illinois assistant attorney general... "Before seven years, anyone who wants you declared legally dead has to offer evidence that you're not alive. But after you've been missing seven years, anyone who wants you declared alive has to offer evidence that you're not dead."
So what are Mrs. Fossett's chances here? In reality it comes down to one basic issue:
If the preponderance of evidence points toward death, then the missing person is declared dead. If it points toward life, the legal waiting game continues, sometimes well beyond seven years.
So Mrs. Fossett might not be up a creek without a parachute after all...

[Chicago Tribune]

With Hyde Gone, It'll Be All Jekyll, All the Time

It is with great pride that The Death Pool announces its first death in a form as old as today's deceased: the limerick.

There once was a Congressman named Hyde,
Who tried to oust Clinton, who lied.
He had an affair,
Vetoed abortion health care,
Regrettably, this morning, he died.

[USA Today]

Go Jayceon, It's Your Birthday. We Gonna Party Like It's Your Birthday

If you thought the Hornets were terrible in New Orleans and Oklahoma City, stay out of Cambodia. Or, at the very least, if you do go to Cambodia, don't disturb a Hornets nest.

Today is somebody's birthday! Whose Birthday? Rapper Jayceon "The Game" Taylor's Birthday. How Old Is He? 1,2,3,4... 28! And Never been Kissed By... Death

The Game appears on 1 2007 Death Pool roster and because we're throwing you this party, we leave you with a little goody bag-

  • Taylor had a short stint at Washington State University on a basketball scholarship. He was kicked out in his first semester because of drug allegations. At the age of eighteen, he began to follow his older half brother, "Big Fase 100", who was the leader of the Cedar Block Pirus. Taylor was shot five times after a failed drug deal in 2001, receiving bullet wounds to the heart, stomach, arms, and leg. The attack put him in a three day coma and while recovering in the hospital, he decided to pursue a career in the rap industry.
... And Many More!

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Heart Attack for Hartack. Bill Vetoed.

It's heart disease, actually. But what kind of headline does that make?

(I am sad to admit that that reminds me of an episode of Tea Leoni's "The Naked Truth" when she changes the number of dogs someone owns so the headline can read 'Mary Nine's Nine K9s.' The worst part? That's in my head; It's more detail than the episode summary gives you.)

Bill Hartack, a 74 year old Hall of Fame jockey died in Texas while on a hunting vacation. Hartack was a five-time winner of the Kentucky Derby. He won his first horse race in 1953, at the tender age of 19. But the story of his 1957 win might be the most interesting:

By the mid-’50s, Hartack was widely acknowledged as one of the top riders in the sport. He rode his first Kentucky Derby winner in 1957 aboard Iron Liege, which is perhaps the most infamous Derby in racing history. Iron Liege may have won only because Bill Shoemaker, another major star of his era, aboard Gallant Man, misjudged the finish and eased his horse before the finish line.
You think he knows that no matter where you finish, all jockeys eat from the same oat bag in the sky? "Oat bag, I got my Oat bag..."


Facing Death in Cambodia?

The American Heart Association recommends a number of key steps we all can take to prevent heart attacks: Stop smoking, lower your blood pressure, eat a healthy diet, be physically active, and get regular medical checkups. At least former Cambodian king Norodom Sihanouk is making the effort to prevent more conditions from developing.

Cambodia's King Norodom Sihamoni accompanied his elderly parents, former king Norodom Sihanouk and Queen Mother Norodom Monineath, to Beijing Wednesday. [T]he royals will undergo routine medical tests, and King Sihamoni will return to Cambodia next week, although his parents will stay on for an unspecified time.

Sihanouk, 85, has twice beaten colon cancer and suffers from a range of other ailments including diabetes and high blood pressure. He abdicated in favour of his son in 2004, citing his advancing age and ill health, and has lived in Beijing most of the time since.
For pictures from the royals' departure, see here.