Costello: Well, you know I’ve never heard the works of Stephin Merritt, so you’ll have to tell me some of the titles in his discography.

Abbott: Oh, I’ll tell you, but it seems to me they give these albums nowadays very peculiar names.

Costello: Then you’ll have to tell me.

Abbott: i.

Costello: Yes, you.

Abbott: What about me?

Costello: You’re going to tell me.

Abbott: I just did.

Costello: You didn’t tell me anything! Now tell me the names of some of these obscurities.

Abbott: That’s another one.

Costello: What’s another one?

Abbott: Obscurities.

Costello: I agree these albums are obscure! That’s why I need you to tell me their names!

Abbott: Well, there’s Showtunes.

Costello: Show tunes are fine! Just tell me the names of the shows they come from or the titles of the original cast recordings!

Abbott: Okay, how about 69 Love Songs?

Costello: That certainly is enough to fill three full records, but what is the title of this triple album?

Abbott: I just told you.

Costello: Oh get lost!

Abbott: Now that’s the first thing you’ve said right!

Costello: I don’t even know what I’m talking about!

As usual, a lot of people died in 2020, but of course, we say that every year. But seriously, wow, a lot of people died in 2020. And the cold, hard fact is that some of those people are deader than others. They stand out among the death toll. Why? Because they died of the global COVID-19 pandemic, and in many cases, they died entirely preventable deaths due to the negligence of their leaders and the selfishness of their neighbors. Put plainly, they were murdered. So, sorry to the people who didn’t make the list because they died of other causes that didn’t count. Better luck next year.

10. David Prowse

David Prowse was most famous as the man who played Darth Vader. Although of course James Earl Jones did the voice. And Sebastian Shaw was the face we saw when the mask came off. And fight choreographer Bob Anderson did the lightsaber fights. And sound designer Ben Burtt did the menacing deep breathing through a scuba-diving respirator. So what exactly did this slab of English beefcake do as Darth Vader, besides letting the cat out of the bag about Luke Skywalker’s paternity in a speech at a university in 1978, before the script to The Empire Strikes Back had even been written? Well, that’s just it. The script hadn’t even been written. Prowse was just making an educated guess. And George Lucas was clearly making things up as he went along. He kept having Leia lay gross, incestuous smooches on Luke as late as the second movie, for god’s sake. Who’s to say Lucas didn’t get the idea from Prowse instead of the other way around? What if David Prowse is actually responsible for coming up with the whole idea of the whole Skywalker saga? Well, then address your complaints about the last movie to him, because he’s dead.

9. Frederick “Toots” Hibbert

The lead vocalist of Toots and the Maytals literally invented reggae, or at least gave it its name. Specifically, the genre took its name from his song “Do the Reggay,” the reggay then being the name of a dance craze in Jamaica; the word subsequently came to be applied to the nascent musical genre providing the soundtrack to said dancing. This raises an interesting alt-history departure point: What if the chart-topping 1990 novelty hit “Do the Bartman” from the animated sitcom cash-in album The Simpsons Sing the Blues had been just a little more popular, to the extent that its name became synonymous with the then-young genre of hip-hop? Well then, bartman music would now be a dominant cultural form, and the song’s co-writer and backing vocalist, one Michael Jackson, could be said to have made a mark on musical history. Anyway, both Dr. Julius Hibbert and King Toot’s Music Store are in fact named after Toots Hibbert, because Simpsons creator Matt Groening is a big reggae fan. You didn’t think this entry was going to tie together, but here we are.

8. Roy Horn

Siegfried Fischbacher and Roy Horn—we’re all on a first-name basis, so let’s drop the formalities—met while working as stewards on a cruise liner. Siegfried did a little magic on the side and drafted in Roy as his assistant, although the latter wasn’t impressed with his act. If Siegfried could make a rabbit disappear, suggested Roy, why not try a cheetah? And that’s when Roy introduced Siegfried to Chico, his pet cheetah, which he had stowed away in his cabin. This is obviously insane, and let’s stop and consider what this says about Roy. First, he had balls of steel. Second, he was obviously an even greater magician than Siegfried to somehow sneak a great cat into a crew member’s tiny cabin and keep it there without anyone noticing, and every show they ever did should have been a reenactment of that feat. Maybe it was!

7. Adam Schlesinger

Stacy, do you remember when I mowed your lawn?
Your mom came out with her face mask on
I could tell she was nervous from the way she stared
And the way she said “You should stand over there”

And I know that you think it’s just a fantasy
But since her COVID test
Your mom could use monoclonal antibodies

Stacy’s mom has got Regeneron
It’s all I want
In an IV infusion
Stacy, can’t you see?
It’s next best to a vaccine
I know it might be wrong but
I’m in love with Regeneron

6. Peter Sutcliffe

Peter Sutcliffe may sound like an early member of the Beatles who got kicked out for having more handsome brain aneurysms than John Lennon, but in fact, he embodied a different sort of British mania, one for bludgeoning and stabbing sex workers. Let’s face it: The Yorkshire Ripper, as he was called, was a real shit dude! No redeeming value, this guy. At least the Moors Murderers inspired a few macabre Smith songs. And if you’re looking for a serial killer to affectionately call by the pet name “puddin’,” well, beat it, Yorkshire Ripper; we already have the Joker. Let’s call this one a rare coronavirus good-news story, since COVID19 finished a job that years of jailhouse attacks by other inmates couldn’t quite see through. Good work, coronavirus!

5. Tiny Lister

A lot of people were really hoping the president would die after catching the coronavirus this year. They just didn’t imagine it would be the president of the galaxy. Though some would argue his role as President Lindberg in The Fifth Element was a rare opportunity for Thomas “Tiny” Lister Jr. to break out of typecast roles as the physically imposing heavy, he was just as often known for heroic characters, such as folksy Southern lawyer Ben Matlock’s prison bodyguard in a special two-part episode, a prisoner who refused to save himself by sacrificing others in The Dark Knight, and Zeus, an ex-con who challenged professional wrestling’s greatest villain, Hulk Hogan, in No Holds Barred. Maybe it’s problematic that he mainly played convicts. Anyway, in a case of art imitates art, he took his grudge with Hogan into the ring in several pay-per-views in the WWF in 1989, teaming with Randy Savage, and renewed their feud in 1996 in WCW, teaming with The Ultimate Solution. The Ultimate Solution? Yikes, now that is problematic.

4. Kamala, the Ugandan Giant

Speaking of giants who could wrestle a little (albeit very little), pity poor Kamala. Not only did he die two days before Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden announced someone with a very similar name as his running mate, but the fact that his real last name was also Harris—James Harris—made it even easier to confuse the two. As much as you could confuse the VP elect with a guy who looked like Uncle Phil in face paint and a loincloth, anyway. Despite his gimmick as a vicious cannibal, he was known backstage as a real sweetheart, although he did once pull a big gun on Andre the Giant in the dressing room following a disagreement and wrestled him with a smaller gun tucked into his loincloth thereafter. With their relationship now miraculously improved, Andre helped get Kamala into the WWF, where he feuded with the villainous Hulk Hogan. He also holds a notable place in wrestling history for losing to the Undertaker in the first ever televised casket match; he now once again loses to the undertaker in his last ever casket match.

3. John Prine

We lost some country music greats to the coronavirus this year, such as Joe Diffie, K.T. Oslin, and, of course, John Prine, whom you may know as the “old man” from Pawn Stars, although he wasn’t that guy at all. Rather, he was one of the most influential songwriters of his generation, starting out as a singing mailman whose career was launched with a thumbs-up from Roger Ebert, who gave him a rave review even though he wasn’t even a movie! But that’s how much of a critical darling he was, even if he wasn’t a mainstream superstar. (One of the greatest tragedies of his death early in the pandemic was that he could have absolutely cleaned up financially during lockdown by launching Amazon Prine.) Let’s hope he’s happy now in heaven, which he envisioned as “a cigarette that’s nine miles long,” even though losing him is a drag.

2. Charley Pride

Some famous baseball pitchers took a loss to the coronavirus in the 2020 season too, such as Hall of Famer Tom Seaver, minor leaguer Steve Dalkowski, who was the inspiration for Bull Durham’s Nuke LaLoosh, and, of course, Charley Pride, who parlayed a side gig singing the national anthem before games into a groundbreaking career in country music. Actually, he probably should have been up there in the “country music greats” section, come to think of it. Indeed, the African-American superstar was country music’s favorite Pride, next to “White.” He received a lifetime achievement award at this year’s maskless, indoor, not-particularly-socially-distanced Country Music Association Awards, where he almost certainly contracted the coronavirus that killed him. That’s right, they recognized the many great achievements of his life, and then ended it. Not sure who needs to hear this, but the lesson here is probably is to avoid public events full of irresponsible white conservatives who refuse to take a raging global pandemic seriously.

1. Herman Cain

Actually, we absolutely know who needed to hear that: Herman Cain, the Charley Pride of Pizza, as he was frequently known. The former Godfather’s Pizza CEO and co-chairman of Black Voices for Trump appeared, maskless, at the 2020 Trump Tulsa rally, swiftly tested positive for coronavirus, and then died a month after being hospitalized. Then, miraculously, he refused to stay dead, apparently rising from the grave to tweet over and over in a streak of delusional denial of his own demise. “It looks like the coronavirus is not as deadly as the mainstream media first made it out to be,” he crowed two weeks after he died. Hey, if you say so! Nevertheless, just as his main man Donald Trump managed to lose the 2020 election again and again with each futile legal challenge slapped down by the courts, Herman Cain managed to die a little over and over again with each new tweet from his account. For this reason, Herman Cain emerges victorious over the stiffest competition in memory as the absolute most dead person of 2020. Congratulations, Herman, and see you at the ceremony.



Well, once again, I outlived a whole bunch of chumps this year. More than usual in fact! That’s because, just in case you haven’t been out of your house in a while, we happen to be in the middle of a pandemic cutting a swath through the population of planet Earth. And as usual, I have proven to be completely immune. In fact, I am absolutely infuckingdestructible because I’ve spent the last few years having daycare and kindergarten germs coughed directly into my mouth and have built up antibodies to the most bleeding-edge diseases that haven’t even been invented yet.

And as usual, I just want to take the time to bid farewell and fuck you to a whole cohort of idiots who didn’t even know how to live to be 46. People who died at (Brimful of Asha) only 45.

Let’s start with Natasha Richardson, late wife of Liam Neeson and a woman who had a very particular set of skills, skills acquired over a very long career, skills that did not include skiing. This one is personal for me because I actually learned to ski on the very same bunny hill on which Natasha Richardson sustained her fatal epidural hematoma, and now I have survivor guilt. Wait, no. I have a guilty pleasure that comes every time I watch Love Actually and get to pretend that Liam Neeson’s wife in the movie also died of hitting a tree while skiing.

Okay, Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones, which words are you better remembered for? “I have not yet begun to fight”? Or “No, I’m not the one from Led Zeppelin”? How does it feel to be made irrelevant by a bassist? You would have actually gotten along well with Led Zeppelin, though. You were a slaver and a pirate; they stole songs from black people. You liked statutory rape; they liked statutory rape. You fed people to the sharks; they fed sharks to people. In a way.

A little known fact about comedian Ralphie May: That was merely a stage name, shortened for professional purposes. His full legal name was Ralphie May Live Past Forty-Five But Probably Won’t.

How about you, Freddie Mercury? How do you feel about winning Rami Malek an Academy Award for Best Fake Teeth in a Motion Picture (an award previously won by Jude Law in Contagion)? And speaking of plagues, you recorded the soundtrack for the cult hit Highlander and are therefore somehow at least in part responsible for the plague upon mankind that was the rest of that film and television franchise. Who wants to live forever? Not you, you bucktoothed dipshit!

It’s Montgomery Clift, baby! I’ve got just one sentence for you, Monty. It’s from your Wikipedia page, and it hurts worse than anything I could write. Are you ready? Here it is: “Clift has been portrayed by Dave Franco in the film Zeroville, which was shot in 2015, but as of 2019, has not been released.” Wow. Raw deal!

Rocky Marciano, you actually died the day before your 46th birthday, champ. You almost went the distance! If that bell had rung and you had still been standin’, you would known for the first time in your life, see, that you weren’t just another bum from the neighborhood, to quote the best movie ever made about boxing, which wasn’t made about you. Of course, Raging Bull was hardly the worst film featuring a pugilist who died at age 45. Not when Bob Probert was in The Love Guru.

Some Superman you were, George Reeves. Faster than a speeding bullet? Definitely not, given the extremely suspicious circumstances of your death by gunshot. Suicide? No way. It was the Superman Curse. Think about it: Curses are magical, and magic is one of Superman’s few vulnerabilities. That, and horses. I mean, at least you got taken out cleanly and didn’t spend the last decade of your life as a quadriplegic, needing someone to massage your abdomen to knead your bowel movements out, like an used-up tube of toothpaste. Still, Christopher Reeve lived to be a ripe old 52, so who wins here? Well, it’s me, of course.

Speaking of heroes, there’s Audie Murphy. You’re a little shrimp who somehow became the most famous and decorated hero of World War II. You’re basically Steve Rogers without the Super Soldier serum, which makes your feats of Nazi-killing derring-do even more bad-ass. It actually pains me to pay you disrespect, but you would understand that I must do my duty. So let me say this. I know that, like Lt. Col. John McCrae (a victim of the Spanish Flu at age—you guessed it—45), you were a sensitive little poetry man. But in my opinion, in Flanders Fields, your poems blow!

As for you, Bam Bam Bigelow, I also respect you too much to make too much fun of you, because you are also a hero. You did save three kids from a house fire, literally running through a wall and getting second degree burns over 40 percent of your body in the process. You also spent your entire previous career wrestling in a bodysuit covered in flames, with flames tattooed on your head. Like, did you want to jump in a fire? It really feels like it isn’t about saving kids for you. It feels like you mostly seized on the first available excuse to just go swimming in the flames of a raging inferno. You’re weird.

Wow, I’m getting a little too reverent about some of these dead 45-year-old losers! I’d better go to the lightning round!

Singer and jazz pianist Nat King Cole? More like Not Get Old!

Die Hard actor Alexander Godunov? More like Not Godunov at at getting old!

Founder of modern epidemiology John Snow? You know nothing about getting old!

Who outranks who—”High Chief” Peter Maivia, capo di tutti capi Salvatore Maranzano, or General Tom Thumb? It’s a tie. You’re all rank as hell because you all stink like a bunch of decaying corpses, whereas I smell sweeter than “Sweetness” Walter Payton himself, because he’s dead and rotting too.

Go fly a kite, Wilbur Wright! Dust your broom, Elmore James! Hello, Ricky Nelson, goodbye life! Go jump in the Union Gap, Kirby Puckett! You dumb nerds! You’re such a bunch of jerks and creeps and losers. Not one of you could cut it here in 2020. And I can see with 20/20 vision, and I am telling you now, that I’m never gonna get the coronavirus, and I’m never gonna get my comeuppance! I laugh at this puny plague! I spit in the face of God and defy the coward to strike me down!

Like most years, lots of people died in 2019. Here’s the 10 very deadest. Bill Buckner was supposed to be on this list, but he just missed it.

10. Rutger Hauer

Rutger Hauer

Every actor craves a meaty death scene, but few get a speech so memorable it becomes the first line of their obituary. The lines by which Rutger Hauer would be remembered were long obvious: “You and me are going on a car ride to hell … you’re riding shotgun!” (from 2011’s Hobo with a Shotgun). Hauer is arguably even more famous for Blade Runner, a film about origami adapted from Philip K. Dick’s book about a cop who hunts robots, RoboCop. In the original text, titular hero Rick Deckard points out to his replicant nemesis Roy Batty that he has mistaken him for his actual creator, Jackson Roydeckard, causing his head to explode in a shower of sparks. Hauer improved things significantly in the film with an improvised monologue of eloquent nonsense. By interesting coincidence, the neo-fascist dystopia on the brink of ecological collapse depicted in Blade Runner took place in this very year of 2019. That makes Batty’s final words the film quote that best doubles as a fitting epitaph for our times by an actor who died this year, save for one: Peter Fonda’s final words of the Baby Boomer counterculture classic road movie Easy Rider: “We blew it.”

9. “Mean” Gene Okerlund

Gene Okerlund
As usual, many names were crossed off the Alive Sports Entertainers List this year—Harley Race, King Kong Bundy, Pedro Morales, Moondog Rex, “The Destroyer” Dick Beyer, “Fake Razor” Rick Bognar, “Terrible” Ted Lindsay—but none was more feared than that of Gene Okerlund. He was a sort they don’t make anymore: a tough, no-nonsense journalist who took no guff from coked-up orange egomaniacs. They called him “Mean” Gene because of anyone backstage—Hogan, Andre, McMahon himself—the one guy you didn’t want to cross was Okerlund. It wasn’t what Gene would do to you. It was what he’d say. Cruel, hurtful, self-esteem-destroying things. It’s a fact that Charles Wright changed his gimmick so many times in a futile attempt to hide in plain sight from Gene. Some say Paul Orndorff’s bad arm grew withered because of nerve damage, but others swear it’s because Gene once sneered at it. The only one Gene wasn’t mean to was his wife, Jeanne. Is it weird she had the same name as him? No one who knew him ever dared say so. You didn’t like how Gene treated you, you just took it out on Todd Pettengill. You didn’t have a better choice, and besides, he deserved it. Anyway, Gene had the ability to zero right in on what you hated about yourself, and if there wasn’t anything, there soon would be.

8. Peter Tork

Peter Tork
Similarly, the music industry lost a lot of great nicknames in 2019. There’s Daryl Dragon, dubbed “The Captain” by Beach Boy Mike Love (on a roll after nicknaming his best friend Charles Manson “The Wizard”) as part of a scheme to get everyone around him to wear hats to normalize his own attempts to hide his premature baldness. There’s Leon Redbone (equally phallic birth name: Dickran Gobalian), best known for his theme to Mr. Belvedere, an absurdist comedy infamous for ending each episode by having its main character sit on his testicles so hard that he died. There’s “Ginger” Baker, so-called for the way people acted around him, walking on eggshells to avoid his infamously volatile temper. (You’ve got to be some kind of jerk to be known as “the difficult one” in a band with a cokehead who once threw his own son out a window in a fit of rage, probably.) And of course, there’s Peter “Tork” Thorkelson. Let’s face it, “Tork” isn’t the most inspired nickname, but everybody liked the “cute but dumb” Monkee, so let’s just put his picture here. Sure, why not.

7. Franco Columbu

Franco Columbu
If you’re looking for the class of 2019’s best inarticulate sidekick to provide the muscle in a beloved 1970s film, well, you’re looking for Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew, of course. But runner-up is Arnold Schwarzenegger’s little buddy in Pumping Iron, Franco Columbu, who made such a career out of being second best, he should have been called Dave Franco Columbu. Not only did Arnold use him as a frequent supporting player in his films, but he only won his first Mr. Olympia title the year after Arnold retired and his first controversial Mr. Olympia title the year after Arnold’s controversial one-year comeback (when the guys who got robbed by Arnold’s win skipped the competition). He finished fifth in the 1977 World’s Strongest Man championship after withdrawing from the competition when he dislocated his knee carrying a refrigerator (although he received a million dollars in compensation, while the guy who came first got only a deferred payment of $20,000, so you could argue he actually won). He was even a licensed chiropractor, which is like runner-up to being a doctor.

6. Doris Day

Doris Day
If we lost a true entertainment double threat in 2019, it was surely actor Danny Aiello, who not only appeared in Madonna’s video for “Papa Don’t Preach” but also recorded an answer song, “Papa Wants the Best for You.” Well, either him or Doris Day, one of the top recording artists and box office stars in the 1950s and 1960s. She transitioned from film to television after her third husband died, when she discovered all their money had been squandered and that he had signed her up for The Doris Day Show, which is mostly notable for its constant, drastic retooling, including writing out her children without explanation in the fourth season and turning her into a swinging single lady. (In real life, her only child was music producer Terry Melcher, the intended target of Charles Manson and Mike Love in the Tate-LaBianca murders.) She is also notable as holder of the America’s Sweetheart title belt between Debbie Reynolds and Sandra Dee, part of an unbroken lineage stretching from inaugural champion Mary Pickford to current title-holder Margot Robbie.

5. Bob Einstein

Bob Einstein
Bob Einstein seems like a good candidate for the Secretly Not Canadian club, a group of luminaries that Canadians mistakenly embrace as being one of their own that includes names such as Ernie “Mr. Dressup” Coombs, Neko Case, and Andrea Martin, due to his regular appearances on the Canadian sketch show Bizarre and the fact that many of his harnesses for his stunts as the daredevil Super Dave Osborne were stated as being “genuine Saskatchewan sealskin bindings” (a joke included to meet CanCon requirements). Nevertheless, like Blade Runner’s Roy Batty, Einstein was born in Los Angeles and was a kind of replicant; not only was his brother also a famous comedian, Albert Brooks (who changed his name for obvious reasons), but so was his father, Harry Einstein, who was so famous as a radio comedy character called Parkyakarkus that he unsuccessfully tried to legally change his name to that. (Had he been successful, there’s no good reason that the son couldn’t have simply remained Albert Parkyakarkus.) Though Einstein enjoyed a long career in comedy that began with writing for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour alongside Steve Martin and saw him gain acclaim more recently for his roles as Marty Funkhouser in Curb Your Enthusiasm and Larry Middleman in Arrested Development, it was the Super Dave stuntman character that made him iconic. And although his health had evidently been declining, with him sounding a bit hoarse in recent appearances, it’s still a shame to see him succumb to cancer rather than, say, being smashed flat by a piledriver, run over with a steamroller, or being utterly destroyed on a cellular level by runaway tumors.

4. Ric Ocasek

Ric Ocasek
Was Ric Ocasek the first big MTV star to die of what might be considered old age? (Before you argue with him being called an “MTV star,” yes, The Cars had been around since the ‘70s, but they had one of the first videos that used computer graphics with the groundbreaking “You Might Think,” and it was during the filming of the “Drive” video that Ocasek met supermodel and inexplicable future wife Paulina Porizkova, thus becoming infamous as a sort of new wave Lyle Lovett.) Anyway, was he? Musicians who came to prominence in the music video age have obviously died young (from drugs), and we lost Michael Jackson and Prince when they were past their prime but still too young (turned out that was drugs too), but Ocasek straight up died of natural causes, according to the coroner’s report. You might think Ocasek was of a similar age to his MTV contemporaries, just uglier, but he was actually secretly old. If he hadn’t been such a late bloomer, his musical contemporaries should have been Joe Cocker, Diana Ross, and Dennis Wilson of the Beach Boys, all of whom were slightly younger than him. (Aside: Dennis Wilson may have been the only man to punch both Mike Love and his BFF Charles Manson in the face. Truly, an American hero.) Anyway, Ric Ocasek was actually a couple of months older than Rudy Giuliani. Yikes. Anyway, losing Ocasek is a sobering milestone for Generation X, which is now firmly entrenched in middle age and starting to watch its heroes get old and die. Don’t like that? Well, guess who’s next. Yep, Debbie Harry, who’s only one year his junior and has a recording career that started in the mid ‘60s, much like Neil Young, who lives up to his name compared to her because she’s actually older. Unlike Ocasek, she concealed her age through being really hot instead of really not, but deal with it: She’s old, and she’s next. Sic transit gloria Blondie.

3. Robert Evans

Robert Evans
Though you might assume the title of his memoir, The Kid Stays in the Picture, refers to one of his own hard-bitten pronouncements, he was in fact the kid referred to; the title quotes studio exec Darryl Zanuck defending Evans against fellow actors demanding he be removed from the cast of The Sun Also Rises. Nonetheless, Evans quickly figured out that the kid actually should get out of the pictures and become a studio exec, whereupon he began a meteoric rise to fame and fortune by making hits such as True Grit, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, and Chinatown. His streak started to come to an end with The Cotton Club, partly because it flopped commercially but also because of his suspected involvement in the so-called Cotton Club murder in which Roy Radin, one of the film’s financiers, was shot in the head and then blown up with dynamite; testimony from one of the perpetrators later cleared him, but then again, as screenwriter Joe Eszterhas once wrote, “all lies ever told anywhere about Robert Evans are true.” So who knows? He was renowned as a Hollywood playboy⁠ (married seven times and convicted of cocaine trafficking once) and delighted in the many parodies of him as such in films such as Wag the Dog, the television series Entourage, and the adult animated sitcom Kid Notorious, in which Evans voiced himself, as did his real-life close friend and next-door neighbor, Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash. He didn’t delight in that coke bust as much; “Bob ‘Cocaine’ Evans is how I’ll be known to my grave,” he once sniffed. Yet we know him as something else: Legend.

2. Rip Torn

Rip Torn
Rip Taylor’s private life was always kept very hush-hush, but you might be amazed to hear about how he once pulled a knife on Dennis Hopper during the making of Easy Rider, hit Norman Mailer in the head with a hammer, and broke into a bank with a loaded gun because he was so drunk he thought he lived there, mostly because it was Rip Torn who did that. Rip Torn was larger than life and seemingly unkillable. If anything, he seemed destined to go down in a police shootout during some kind of amphetamine-fueled rampage. He was so tough that he survived the death curse of that one episode of The Larry Sanders Show (on which he starred as the terrifying producer Artie) that featured John Ritter, Gene Siskel, and Warren Zevon, outliving not only all three guest stars but also the show’s star, Garry Shandling. He was born Elmore Rual Torn Jr.; “Rip” was a family name taken by generations of Torn men, making them all sound like later members of the tag team Demolition. (One wonders if he ever met Slash; if so, did he find him too clean-cut?) The moniker was an apt one, reflecting his two-fisted, brawling approach to life. Indeed, he lived so large, like a real Bob Evans type, that to see his passing is to see a titan fall. He was so alive that he is now very dead.

1. Jeffrey Epstein

Jeffrey Epstein
Plenty of villains died this year, thankfully (and don’t think you were going to sneak by unnoticed, Don Imus, you racist piece of crap). There was divisive Zimbabwean politician Robert Mugabe, about whom something must be set straight: Everybody still gets on Michael Jordan’s case for wearing that Hitler moustache, but technically it was a Robert Mugabe moustache. Give credit where it’s due. There was also fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, who, despite giving off strong Weekend at Bernie’s anti-energy in every photo ever taken of him, effortlessly stirred up controversy to the point that he could somehow look like the villain in a feud with Harvey Weinstein.

And speaking of sexual predators, that brings us to Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein was a real sicko. Was it true that after a lifetime of debauchery, he could only get it up to that video of the adults of Sesame Street tearfully explaining to Big Bird that Mr. Hooper was dead and that he would time his ejaculation to the instant when the light of understanding came into Big Bird’s eyes? Probably!

Epstein hobnobbed with a lot of rich and famous people. While Bill Clinton may have been memorably dubbed “the first black president” by the late Toni Morrison, Epstein called him “my wingman.” Yet, he was also Republican president Donald Trump’s best friend too, the Charles Manson to his Mike Love. Epstein brought the left and right together that way, the same way that both sides can agree that he is very, very dead. Extremely, suspiciously, conveniently dead.



All right, you nerds, I’m back, and I’m bigger, better and older than ever. Yeah, that’s right. I’m hip, I’m cool, and I’m 45. But the pathetic thing is, there’s just so many dumb crap-head jerks that won’t ever see this age, and no matter what else they did in life, that makes me more of a success than them. That’s just math. Forty-five is the standard, set by me, and if you haven’t gotten there yet, well, keep trying. But these worthless idiots? A bunch of never-will nobodies. Screw ’em.

For example, let me just start out by giving a shout-out to playwright Anton Chekov, although I don’t have much to say about him. Died young. Probably won’t come up again.

But F. Scott Fitzgerald? Get lost, you Lost Generation loser. More like “So you beat off, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past,” you Jizz Age jerkoff.

Jackson Pollock, you drip. Honestly, who needs your art when we have George A. Romero and bukkake films? You’re known for two things: constantly spilling liquid all over the floor and being a world-class boozehound. Wherever did you get your artistic inspiration, you genius? Your last and best splatter painting was all over the inside of your Oldsmobile’s windshield while driving drunk.

You know what’s funny, Emperor Domitian? When a servant rushes in and says, “Emperor, there’s a plot against you! Read this letter!” And then, while you’re like, “Wha—?” and start reading the letter, he just stabs you right in the groin. You have to admit, he got you pretty good there. I can’t stop thinking about what was in that letter. Like, was it just a copy of the assassination scene from Julius Caesar, but with that name crossed out and “YOU” scribbled above it? Maybe just a blank sheet of paper with the Latin form of BAZINGA written on it? Did he get you to read “I am being stabbed” aloud? You got owned worse than anyone in ancient Rome, and they had slavery!

Hey, Heinrich Himmler, Martin Bormann, and Karl Brandt! I don’t like you!

Steve Irwin, I’ll go easy on you because you’re slow, but you’re just Jack Hanna crossed with Johnny Knoxville. Your show shouldn’t have been called The Crocodile Hunter. I mean, obviously it should have been called The Short-Tail Stingray Hunted, but at the very least, it should have been called The Luck Pusher. How do you look around at the terrifying fauna of the world’s deadliest continent and say, “Yes please! Clearly, this is not God’s message that man was not meant to live on these accursed, sun-blasted lands, much less snuggle up with its venomous, razor-toothed monsters with puppy-dog exuberance!” And it didn’t have to be this way! In your show’s first episode, you went to Oregon to look at beavers. Do you know how popular your series would have been if it had been called Beaver Hunt? You’re a dummy.

Speaking of nature lovers, I won’t speak ill of you, Henry David Thoreau. (Go jump in Walden Pond, you lonely weirdo.) Not when I have Robert Louis Stevenson to call you an effeminate skulker for me. Boys, don’t fight! You’re both a couple of bronchitic weaklings who died at 44. I can’t believe you, Stevenson, dying of a cerebral hemorrhage while trying to pull a cork out of a wine bottle. If you’re going to move to Samoa only to die of a cerebral hemorrhage, it had better be from a head butt from one of the Anoa’i family of wrestlers.

Hey Marvin Gaye! This is your father, Marvin Gay Sr. You know that new sound you’ve been looking for? Well, listen to this! BLAM!

Whoa, was that Chekov’s Gun?! I guess mentioning him up top really did pay off later on after all! Thanks for the tip, dope!

I could go on. I could give Harold Godwinson a poke in the eye, grind Baruch Spinoza into dust, or wickedly burn Steve Marriott. But why should I waste any more of my time—of which I admittedly have plenty on account of my long lifespan—giving any more free publicity to a bunch of jerks and creeps and losers who suck so bad? If you’re any good, live longer, stupid! It’s not that hard! Simply do what I do and don’t die, just like I never have and never will!

It’s a fake!


I’ve been thinking about deactivating Facebook, but I’m falling in love with that website all over again.

A conservative Facebook friend posted an obviously photoshopped Time magazine cover with Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau behind bars and the headline “Canadian Traitor!” So, I just replied “FAKE,” like I thought he thought it was real.

He replied that I must not have seen that it said “Angus Memes” on it. So I said I just didn’t think he knew that Angus Memes isn’t the publisher of Time magazine. In fact, Angus Memes isn’t even a real person!

Then he replied, “You got caught not paying attention, so you have to attack me personally. I’m not surprised, given your condescending, arrogant tendencies.”

So, then I told him that I went out to the newsstand and it’s not even there. Now who looks dumb?

He said that obviously I was the one who looked dumb, because if I’d known what a meme was, I wouldn’t have been dumb enough to even go to the newsstand.

I replied that I was calling the real publisher of Time magazine, Marc Benioff, to tell him about this Angus Memes impostor, and that this guy was going to be in a lot of legal trouble. But then I was unable to post the comment because I was blocked.

I’d actually been trying to get this guy to block me for a long time by just making well-reasoned arguments against his political views. I can’t believe that this is what did it. But it turns out that just posting “FAKE” when conservatives post obvious parodies really sets them off. (Especially the ones who like to boast about being in Mensa.) Because he’s not wrong! I actually was being condescending and arrogant. I was also going for “patronizing.”

Fortunately my wife is still Facebook friends with this guy, since she likes to know that the far right is up to so she knows if the shit is going down, and having him on her Facebook feed means she doesn’t have to watch Fox News ever. I’m trying to her to continue the conversation, asking him what he’s done to me, because now I’m on the phone with Time magazine, yelling.

More people died this year! These are the ones that are so dead that even the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia admits it.

10. Stan Lee


Face front, true believer! Stan Lee had such a flair for self-promotion that it just makes sense that the timing of his final Marvel Cinematic Universe cameo was so perfect, as we can just assume that the old man got disintegrated by Thanos’ snap. Of course, that’s assuming that it was his final cameo. Given that his cameos are invariably cutaways from the main action that don’t involve any of the films’ stars, there’s no reason they can’t separately film Stan Lee cameos well in advance of the next 100 years’ worth of Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Fifty years from now, there’ll be a film for a Marvel character who doesn’t even exist yet. And look! There’s his creator, Stan Lee! Not only that, but because of future corporate mergers, a century of Stan Lee cameos will create confusion of the historical record, inevitably leading him to be credited as creator of Batman. And not only would it be what Bob Kane deserves, but it would be the way Stan Lee would have wanted it. His Spider-Man co-creator Steve Ditko also died in 2018, they say, but don’t believe it. It was all Stan the Man, baby, all the way.

9. Joe Jackson

Joe-JacksonThey say if there’s a rock and roll heaven, well, you know they’ve got a hell of a band (band, band). And just from 2018, you’ve got Pantera’s Vinnie Paul (hell, yeah!), Motörhead’s “Fast” Eddie Clarke (awesome!), Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchinson (uh, okay, it could work), Microsoft’s Paul Allen (yeah, he sucks, but he’s paying for all the studio time and equipment), Avicii, Mac Miller and XXXTentacion (huh?), and, firing all of them from the band, The Fall’s Mark E. Smith. But managing the band? That sounds like a job for Joe Jackson. Not that Joe Jackson could ever get into a rock and roll heaven, not with that satanic, cartoonishly evil-looking pencil mustache (literally a pencil mustache; it appeared to have been drawn on with an eyebrow pencil). Oh, and not with the way he used to whale on his many children with switches, belt buckles and electrical cords. Or the way he made fun of the young Michael’s nose so relentlessly that he tried to turn himself into Diana Ross, though he had to settle for Tycho Brahe. While Joe may have died just short of seeing his daughter Janet get elected to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, not to worry; he, along with Murry Wilson and Marvin Gay Sr., is a charter member of the Asshole Rock Dads Hall of Fame.

8. The Dynamite Kid


Bill Cosby might have been stripped of his Kennedy Center Honor, TCA Career Achievement Award, and Mark Twain Prize for American Humor in 2018 for drugging and raping women, but on the bright side, he’s now an honorary member of the British Bulldogs. Yeah, they did that too. As innovative as Tom “Dynamite Kid” Billington was in the ring—he was a technical wrestler par excellence, with the most devastating finishing move in the business, a diving headbutt so deadly it (indirectly) killed Chris Benoit’s entire family—he was equally inventive in finding ways to be a world-class asshole outside the squared circle. He woke his wife up by pointing a shotgun in her face. He smashed his best friend’s daughter’s kneecaps for the insurance money. He put laxatives in people’s drinks, slipped them roofies before they got behind the wheel, and swapped his own tag-team partner’s steroids out for milk, just to see if it would do a body good. He was a locker-room bully to the point of pushing Jacques Rougeau to deal him a sucker punch that cost Dynamite four teeth and Jacques $1810 ($10 for the roll of quarters Rougeau concealed in his fist while performing the dental work, $1800 for a follow-up appointment from an actual dentist). He deserved it and more. And he got more: Dynamite’s punishing wrestling style resulted in him sitting in a wheelchair and pissing in an old tin can for the last twenty years of his life, and it was well-earned karma, if only for the kneecap smashing thing.

7. Anthony Bourdain


With respect to all of the greats who were crossed off the Alive Wrestlers List this year—and there were many, such as Larry “The Axe” Hennig, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, and Charles “The Kraut Hammer” Krauthammer—the most famous name hailing from Parts Unknown was Anthony Bourdain. He had a professional wrestler’s flair for feuding, as well. He called Paula Deen “the worst, most dangerous person to America,” Sandra Lee “the hellspawn of Betty Crocker and Charles Manson,” and Guy Fieri the result “if Ed Hardy fucked a juggalo.” This guy was awesome. And this dude would eat anything, no matter how disgusting—fermented shark, maggot fried rice, unwashed warthog anus, even Chicken McNuggets—because he was as courteous to his hosts during his travels as he was caustic to his fellow TV chefs. If the food gave you the heebie jeebies, his musical tastes ran to CBGB; he was called the original rock star of the culinary world for good reason. He declared playing Billy Joel in his restaurants a firing offense, although he did claim to like Billy Joel’s old two-man heavy metal band Attila, though, which has been reviewed as “colossally stupid” and “the worst album in the history of recorded music.” Anthony Bourdain used to do a lot of drugs, you see.

6. Stephen Hawking

Stephen-HawkingSpeaking of rock stars, that is in fact not theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking on Radiohead’s “Fitter Happier.” That’s just Thom Yorke using the same speech software Hawking used. But that is Stephen Hawking on Pink Floyd’s “Keep Talking” from 1994’s The Division Bell, so his place in rock history is assured. He was the only person smart enough to understand both the actual big bang theory and the appeal of the Big Bang Theory, which he graced on seven occasions with his cheeky comedic delivery (his speech-generating device being operated via a single cheek muscle). Hawking insisted on keeping that same robotic voice for 32 years, a longer commitment than either of his two marriages (yes, he left his first wife for another woman, although, awkwardly, this probably consisted of the second woman wheeling him away from the first ), even though any Waze user could get a Morgan Freeman, Terry Crews or Mr. T voice. He could have been dropping bad-ass lines like “I pity the fool who says ‘God does not play dice with the universe.’ Consideration of black holes suggests not only that God does play dice but that he sometimes confuses us by throwing them where they can’t be seen.” Honestly, if he was so smart, why didn’t he even have a catchphrase? Some genius.

5. Aretha Franklin


There’s a reason Aretha Franklin’s signature song demanded R-E-S-P-E-C-T. The Queen of Soul would not permit challenges to her throne, and tore a strip off Beyoncé for introducing Tina Turner as “the queen” at the 2008 Grammys. She shrugged off both her furs and criticism from PETA, and she clapped back thunderously by telegram at columnists who dared to criticize her copious display of bosom. Not only did she demand payment in cash, but she wouldn’t perform anywhere that had air conditioning, and was known to stop singing mid-song, say, “I feel air,” and walk offstage. She’d halt phone interviews if a favorite soap opera came on. She sent a fax to the Associated Press five years after Whitney Houston’s funeral to clarify that she was not Houston’s godmother and that Dionne Warwick was a liar for saying so. (Franklin covered Warwick’s hit “Walk on By” twice: once on record and another time right to her face, when her archrival tried to tried to hug her after making this very libelous statement.) Was Aretha Franklin a prima donna? In every sense of the term! And she proved it by stepping in for opera superstar Luciano Pavarotti at the Grammys when he called in sick a half hour after the show had already started to sing the aria “Nessun Dorma” in a supreme display of titanic talent and supreme self-confidence. Was Aretha Franklin a diva? No, she was not. Aretha Franklin was the diva.

4. Burt Reynolds


It’s hard to explain now what a big star Burt Reynolds was in his heyday. He was the number one box office star five times, a distinction achieved by only Reynolds, Tom Hanks, Clint Eastwood and Bing Crosby. (Only Tom Cruise has more wins, with seven.) And he could have been even bigger. He turned down the roles of James Bond (wisely), Han Solo (less wisely; Han making the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs is just Cannonball Run in space), and Michael Corleone (very unwisely; while Marlon Brando may have—understandably—threatened to walk if Reynolds were hired, Reynolds had actually once been rejected for a part for looking too much like Brando, so the casting of father and son would’ve been brilliant). He turned down Richard Gere’s part in Pretty Woman, even though his main criteria for taking on projects was right there in the title. He even turned down his own role in Boogie Nights seven times, out of habit. The movies he did do were mostly garbage, mere excuses to hang out with his pals and clown around, as if the Rat Pack had made Six Pack. But he was having so much fun that audiences did too, just watching Burt Reynolds be Burt Reynolds, wearing a sweet mustache and a cowboy hat, chomping on a wad of gum, and acting like a smart aleck, with a twinkle in his eye that let them know they were in on the joke, as dumb as it was.

3. John McCain


John McCain was a maverick, they said. But what did that mean? Well, if being a maverick means being a hot dog U.S. Navy pilot with a reputation for crashing planes, then John McCain was a real Tom Cruise in Top Gun. If being a maverick means joking that teenage Chelsea Clinton was so ugly because Janet Reno was her father, then John McCain was a maverick. If being a maverick means being ill-tempered enough to furiously respond to his wife’s playful jibe about his thinning hair, “At least I don’t plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt!” then John McCain was a maverick. And if being a maverick means cavalierly riffing on “that old Beach Boys song, ‘Bomb Iran’” in response to a question about military action in the Middle East, well, then John McCain was a maverick, as well as an ignoramus who didn’t even know that “Barbara Ann” was written by Fred Fassert of the Regents and was only covered by the Beach Boys. It’s ironic that he was called a maverick, however, as the term derives from Sam Maverick, a Texan rancher who refused to brand his cows, while John McCain was, quite simply, all hat and no cattle. He was a war hero, no question, but he coasted off that rep for decades. While some may prefer heroes who weren’t captured, a lot of us prefer ones who don’t turn into gutless, grandstanding old windbags who lack the courage of their convictions and constantly put on theatrical shows of disagreement with their party’s policies, only to fall in line and vote along party lines almost every single time.

1. George Herbert Walker and Barbara Bush (tie)


Often called America’s First Grandmother, Barbara Bush once infamously let that nice old lady facade when she called Democratic vice-presidential nominee Geraldine Ferraro something that “rhymes with rich,” though she later clarified she meant “witch” rather than “bitch.” Good save, Bar, but it’s classic projection. It really says something that she was so privately cold and cruel as to be considered the “bad cop” in a partnership with someone who helped South American dictators torture and murder their political foes as director of the CIA.

As vice-president, George Herbert Walker Bush had the distinction of being the first of his office to serve as acting president during an eight-hour surgery to remove polyps from Ronald Reagan’s colon. Not only that, but a polyp from Bush’s own colon later went on to become president too. As a president, however, Bush deserves more than to be remembered as a one-term mediocrity. For instance, he deserves to be remembered as a son of inherited wealth whose father had demonstrated ties to a white supremacist regime. As a serial groper who put an underqualified sexual harasser on the Supreme Court. And as someone who used ugly, racist dog-whistle political ads to get elected. And as someone who used a flurry of political pardons to protect his shady dealings with foreign governments. Does any of this sound familiar? Let’s hope the “one-term mediocrity” thing does.



Well, well, well. I’m back, you chumps, or more to the point, I never went away. Oh sure, it’s been a while since I’ve written, but that’s because I’m too busy living.

Live, live, live! That’s all I do! It’s what I’m about: continued existence. I just keep on being alive, just respirating and ingesting and defecating, while other chumps just keep on getting dead!

It ain’t no thing getting to be 44 years old in this modern age, yet look at all these fools who just haven’t got what it takes. John Holmes didn’t have the balls to do it, and Junior Seau and Lyle Alzado didn’t have the brains.

And hey, speaking of dumb-ass football players, here’s what I know about you, Knute Rockne: You looked like Ronald Reagan, people called you “The Gipper,” and you are way too dead to correct me on either point. Oh, and you died on the way to make the movie The Spirit of Notre Dame (thus becoming the title character) because you got into a rickety piece-of-crap airplane that (like the Fighting Irish versus the North Carolina State Wolfpack during Hurricane Matthew) literally fell apart in the rain. Yay, good job!

I bet you didn’t see your early death coming, did you, Louis Braille? But you know who did have a bit of foresight? You, wrestler Brian Adams, variously repackaged as a Road Warrior ripoff, a laid-back surfer dude, and a white nationalist biker, but always known as Crush. Because your real gimmick was crushing your vertebrae and developing a lethal painkiller addiction. Yay, good job!

How about you, Andrew Breitbart? As everyone knows, you died of an aneurysm while taking a rage shit. You were the first person ever to yell the words “libtard cucksucker!” at Twitter so loud that you squirted a turd halfway out your butt and died. Yay, good job!

Speaking of floaters, Natalie Wood, the old joke is that you are the only kind of wood that doesn’t float, but that’s totally unfair—not only because your corpse was in fact found floating near Catalina Island after Robert Wagner murdered you in a fit of jealousy over your relationship with Christopher Walken but also because mahogany, ironwood and old-growth pine have a higher specific gravity than water.

And you, Lisa Robin Kelly: How do you take so many drugs that you get Second Becky-ed off a show about drug-taking teens? Personally, I think That ‘70s Show would have been a better title for The Golden Girls, but you clearly had no place near a cast of septuagenarians either.

And you, John Candy: Your problem can be summarized via three of your film titles: Canadian Bacon, Going Berserk, and It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time. It wasn’t.

And what about you, Dutch master Johannes Vermeer? Your oeuvre—“Girl with a Pearl Earring,” “Girl with the Wine Glass,” “Girl with a Red Hat”—sounds like if Stieg Larsson wrote Sex and the City episodes. Hard pass.

Now you, guitar whiz Django Reinhardt: If I’m looking for a great musician whose name begins with DJ, Jazzy Jeff is very much alive, thanks.

And then you, Antarctic explorer Robert Falcon Scott: You’re the polar opposite of being alive.

What a bunch of eternally 43-year-old jerks, creeps and losers you all are. I’m literally laughing out loud right now about what a bunch of weak, useless, inessential, frail little nerds you all are. There you go, you chumps, slipping this mortal coil and shuffling off the surly bonds of earth, and me, I just keep on trucking. I keep on keeping on. I take a licking, and I keep ticking. And what’s more, I’m never going to stop. I’m tempting fate, I’m racking up bad karma, and I’m spitting in God’s face and daring him to strike me down, because the fact of the matter is, you’re dead, I’m alive, and believe you me, that’s—just—the—freakin’—way—it—is!

After the carnage of 2016 claimed so many beloved celebrities, it was a good bet that 2017 would be even worse. And it was! This year dealt mortal blows not just to people but to the very foundational principles of western civilization, such as democracy, objective truth, and patriarchal power structures. Okay, that last one is hanging on, but it was pretty satisfying to see entertainment and politics undergo a sort of reverse Rapture with the sudden vanishing of scores of creepy old perverts. But of course, lots of people did die too. And not just any people, but famous people, whose deaths just matter more. People like the lovable patriarch of TV’s Huxtable family (Earle Hyman, who played grandfather Russell Huxtable, not the vicious serial rapist who played his son). People like the “Raging Bull,” Jake LaMotta, famed for knocking out opponents in 30 professional boxing matches and seven marriages. People like wrestler/murderer Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, who was infamously hit by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper in the back of the head with a coconut and who infamously hit his girlfriend, Nancy Argentino, in the back of the head with a Pennsylvania highway. On one hand, wow, we’re onto something with demolishing the patriarchy. Kill all men! But on the other, we’ll miss them when they’re gone, because, well, because we knew who they were. The larger you loom in life, the bigger a hole you leave in death. The greater your fame was, the more keenly felt is your absence. You are, quite simply, deader than ordinary non-celebrity garbage. But who, this year, is the deadest of all?

10. Don Rickles

DonRicklesWith apologies to the late Zarley Zalapski, Don Rickles was the last word in taking shots at hockey pucks. And as the acknowledged master of insult comedy, nothing would have pleased him more than being eulogized in the form of a roast. Therefore, it’s not happening here. Let not a bad word be said about this prince of a man. Moving on.

9. Roger Ailes

RogerAilesWell now, this guy, he was a real skunk. No name was more synonymous with “fake news”—apart, perhaps, from actor Joe Bologna—than the mastermind behind Fox News. That’s “fake news” not in the co-opted “true but unflattering reporting” sense of the term, but in the sense of wild, fantastic bullshit. And Ailes was the Ray Kroc of bullshit, serving a steady diet of ignorance, hate, and fear to millions for decades, from the War on Christmas to the Seth Rich murder conspiracy to birtherism. Ailes gave Donald Trump first a platform for raving, racist nonsense, later an unabashed propaganda network, and, during his campaign, debate-prep advice, no doubt personally coaching the candidate in how to make a woman uncomfortable by looming threateningly over her and breathing hotly, wetly and noisily down her neck. Broadcasting Two Minutes Hate 24 hours a day, no one has done more to split America in half than Ailes since the Confederacy. Perhaps that’s why Fox News personalities protested the pulling down of monuments to those traitors; they recognized kindred spirits. Ailes built an empire on raging against elites, yet this loathsome bastard child of Charles Foster Kane and Jabba the Hutt was personally worth $100 million, treated female employees like a medieval lord exercising the right of droit du seigneur, and suffered from hemophilia. Thank god for the last bit, as it contributed to his death after a fall in his bathroom resulted in a subdural hematoma—a fitting end for a monster who slammed America’s head against a toilet until it died of brain damage.

8. Chuck Berry


Although he was a beloved American icon who played at presidential inaugurations and White House command performances, Chuck Berry had a dark side. He was surly, he was violent, and he had a serious drinking problem. Not alcohol, of course—he swore that off after getting sick on whiskey as a teen—he had an insatiable craving for urine. Although, that sounds presidential in itself; Berry operated a sophisticated surveillance apparatus to capture women and girls using the washroom in his Missouri restaurant, and his own personal pee tape sounds much like the one allegedly being kept to blackmail fellow teetotaler Donald Trump, except with a better beat; on the other hand, Berry actually went to prison for his tax evasion and statutory rape, so perhaps the similarities end there. Nevertheless, “Bo Piddley” was an inspiration to generations of musicians as diverse as R. Kelly, Ricky Martin and fiddler Ashley MacIsaac, proving there was much more to “Johnny Pee Goode” beyond his constant faking of jellyfish stings; the rock and roll icon was also a pioneer in the genre of scat. Indeed, his appetite for poo play was so voracious that at age 90, one almost hopes he was still getting groupies to empty their colostomy bags into his mouth.

7. Bill Pullman

BillPullmanWhat a career Bill Pullman had. From early films such as the psychological thriller Brain Dead (alongside actor Bill Paxton), Pullman went on to become the first actor to be killed by a Terminator, Predator, and Xenomorph and Hollywood’s go-to guy for playing brothers of lead characters named Wyatt. (See Weird Science and Tombstone—no, actually see them; they’re great movies.) An old friend of filmmaker James Cameron from their days working together on a martini ranch, the two worked together on the film Titanic and later went on an documentary expedition to the actual Titanic. (Pullman and Cameron also went on a trip together when a disgruntled crew member slipped PCP into their soup during filming on the blockbuster.) It’s fitting that Pullman should succumb to human frailty so close together with another frequent collaborator, Powers Boothe; the two were on opposite sides in both the Hatfield/McCoy feud and the gunfight at the O.K. Corral. Pullman had personal experience with the assassin’s bullet, as well; he went to the same high school as Lee Harvey Oswald and was on the scene the day JFK was assassinated. What was Pullman’s involvement? Hard to say, but isn’t it an interesting coincidence that he died just before the unsealing of the official files?

6. Monty Hall


Here’s the famous probability puzzle known as the Monty Hall Problem: Suppose you are on a game show and are given the choice of three doors: Behind one door is 96-year-old former Let’s Make a Deal host Monty Hall, who is in very poor health after a recent heart attack; behind the others are goats. You pick a door, say number 1, and the host (say, Billy Bush; he’s not doing anything better these days), who knows what’s behind the doors, opens another door, say number 3, which has a goat. He then says to you, “Do you want to pick door number 2?” While you deliberate whether it’s to your advantage to switch your choice, Monty Hall exists in a state of being simultaneously both dead and alive.

5. Tom Petty

TomPettyAny time you heard one of his classic hits, Tom Petty evoked strong memories, such as the first time you ever saw a 500-year-old corpse miraculously mummified by its arid mountain climate. However, despite—or perhaps because of—his dessicated appearance, Petty seemed younger than his 66 years, so his death came as a blow. (Petty was actually a year younger than unsettling-looking former teen idol David Cassidy, if you want to compare the merits of plastic surgery versus sleeping in a smoker full of applewood chips as a means of preservation.) Even crueler than Petty’s premature demise, of course, is that when 76-year-old Bob Dylan goes, Jeff Lynne is going to have to hear over and over about how sad it is that all the Travelling Wilburys are gone. It’s kind of like how, after Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell was added on to the hod rod death toll, people mourned that Eddie Vedder was the only major remaining grunge singer, when—hello—Courtney Love is still right here. Also, how crazy is it that Cornell’s pal and one-time Stone Temple Pilots replacement frontman Chester Bennington got what was coming in the end seven years younger than the infamously troubled Scott Weiland? Anyway, the point is that Petty died too young—not as young as, say, Malcolm Young of AC/DC or George Young of the Easybeats, both of whom died as young as one can, but he won’t come around here no more, and ain’t that a shame?

4. Fats Domino

FatsDominoHere’s another heartbreaker: losing the beloved artist behind Richie Cunningham’s post-coital anthem, “Blueberry Hill.” But isn’t it kind of amazing that a guy nicknamed “Fats”—he really was named Domino; he was dubbed “Fats” after fellow pianists Fats Waller and Fats Pichon, but also because he ate like a pig—lived to be 89? Admit it; you thought Fats Domino was already dead. And why wouldn’t you? Fats Waller died at 39. Fatty Arbuckle died at 46. And Fat Albert? Well, he is a cartoon, but he’s morbidly obese and spends a lot of time putting his mouth on an old radiator he found in a junkyard, so you do the math. His secret? Not really being that fat. As he explained in his early signature hit single, “The Fat Man,” “They call me the fat man ’cause I weigh 200 pounds.” (For reference, the average weight of an American man in 2017 was 195.7 pounds.) So he wasn’t really fat, just a little chubby. And speaking of which: Chubby Checker? How was that allowed to happen? It’s outrageous gimmick infringement. Was this normal? Were obscure regional labels abounding with names like Tubby Backgammon, Blubbery Chess, and Avoirdupois Acey-Deucey? It’s taking advantage of the man’s gentle, genial nature. No way would a mean son of a bitch like Jerry Lee Lewis have tolerated that shit. That chubby little bastard would have had a buck knife sticking out of his fat back.

3. Jerry Lewis

JerryLewisOn that note, how did the Killer coexist with this guy, who people found barely tolerable as it was? Fine, the French supposedly loved him (although that seems like something they came up with to troll Americans), but Jerry Lee Lewis seems the type to hate most people generally, the French specifically, and Jerry Lewis murderously. Why did Jerry Lee Lewis (real name!) let the former Joseph Levitch (impostor!) run around calling himself “Jerry Lewis”? Maybe he just decided, “Hey, I’m the Killer. And be they assassins or serial killers, killers go by three names,” and that was that. Anyway, Lewis’s punchably obnoxious shtick was just exhaustingly zany. Silly faces and voices: We get it. He was a braying, screeching, rubber-faced man-child on-screen, except when hosting the annual muscular dystrophy telethon, when he was maudlin and mawkish. Off-screen, he was a miserable jerk, rude to fans and prone to offensive comments about gay and disabled people. He was a big influence on some of today’s comic minds, such as Adam Carolla, Two and a Half Men co-creator Lee Aronsohn, and T.J. Miller, with his classic “women aren’t funny” bit. Half the reason his former partner Dean Martin’s drunk act was so convincing was that you couldn’t conceivably be around the excruciating Lewis without turning to the bottle to cope.

2. Charles Manson


One of rock music’s first big plagiarism cases took place after the Beach Boys got carried away turning Chuck Berry’s “Sweet Little Sixteen” into “Surfin’ U.S.A.,” which got them a slap on the wrist but evidently taught them nothing too serious can come of ripping off a violent former reform school boy named Charles, because they did it again just five years later. And they were right! The next time it happened, Dennis Wilson beat the living daylights out of the complainant and made him cry like a baby in front of everyone. Then the Beach Boys went back to happily suing each other for their rest of their career. Meanwhile Dennis’ erstwhile pal grew so disenchanted with the music industry that he gave up his show-biz dreams, marking his retirement by having his small but devoted fan base go to the former pad of Dennis’ pal, record producer Terry Melcher, and slaughter everyone in sight. But it didn’t have to be that way. Let’s compare Charles Manson to the actual worst person ever to write a Beach Boys song, Mike Love. In terms of songwriting, both display a kind of “Hitler’s watercolors” competence. Mike’s voice is infamously thin and nasal; Manson had more of a Cat Stevens thing going, plus he could play guitar. As for mental stability, it takes a megalomaniac to think Mike Love is the most important Beach Boy and should own the band’s name. Plus, ever see his unhinged Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction rant? It’s a push. Here’s where Manson really pulls out in front: First, he had a magnificent head of hair, whereas the only thing keeping Mike Love from covering his baldness with a MAGA cap is that he has too much ego to wear one without his own name or that of his band. Second, no bad songs about transcendental meditation; in fact, Manson once objected so much to Hare Krishna chanting that another inmate set him on fire. Third, charisma as a frontman: Charles Manson is absolutely unassailable on this point, and you can’t argue with that.

1. Hugh Hefner


Publishing magnate Hugh Hefner famously lived a life of leisure in a big mansion perpetually at the height of 1980-style opulence and and refused to put on pants. The late John “Higgins” Hillerman would have set his doberman pinschers on him in an instant. The Playboy founder was a complex figure. The whole enterprise smacks of sexism, yet he also proclaimed himself a feminist and advocated for women’s reproductive rights (which wasn’t totally selfless; it’s easier to get women to have sex if they don’t have to worry about getting pregnant). He also fought racism. He gave Black comic Dick Gregory his big break and funded his efforts to recover the bodies of three murdered civil rights workers in Mississippi. (On the other hand, he also let good pal Bill Cosby do a little freelance bartending at the Playboy Mansion, where he did his famous Spanish Fly routine with at least a dozen bunnies.) Hef also inspired the 1960s Batman series with a theme party he threw in 1965; thus, he’s also responsible for dooming Adam West to be typecast as Batman forever (unlike Val Kilmer, who played the role only once, in Batman Forever). Contrary to what you might expect of a key figure in the sexual revolution, Hef was a virgin until 22; later in life, his orgies basically consisted of his watching porn and jerking off while Playmates cavorted around him, simulating lesbian lovemaking. (Which master of horror terrified the most people with his grisly resurrections of the dead? The late zombie film auteur George A. Romero, or the pharmacist who prescribed a geriatric Hugh Hefner’s boner pills?) Although Hefner owed his empire to Marilyn Monroe, whose nude photos he published in the first issue of Playboy, he never actually met her in life. Not that she was able to avoid him entirely; he bought the burial plot next to hers to spend eternity together. Creepy, huh? At least it’s not as bad as entrepreneur Richard Poncher, who bought the crypt above Marilyn’s from Joe DiMaggio during their 1954 divorce and had himself buried upside down. Ugh, men.

Cars 3


I started out my very first Father’s Day a couple of years ago by being awoken by a Chris Benoit-style diving headbutt from my son. (Happy Father’s Day to the late Chris Benoit, by the way). So, to commemorate the anniversary of my concussion, the idea of sitting in a dark room for a couple of hours sounded just about right.

“It’s Father’s Day! Maybe we should all go see a movie,” my wife suggested to my son, laying on the theatricality. “What movie would you like to see, Daddy?”

“Why, Cars 3, of course,” I said, defeatedly.

Here’s some things about kids. First, they all wear those shoes that light up whenever you take a step and absolutely cannot stay still, so a theatre full of kids these days is like being in a discotheque. Second, they’re total front-runners. And third, they don’t know the time-worn conventions of sports movies. So my son heard throughout the entire movie that this hot new challenger named Jackson Storm was unbeatable and decided, “Well then, that’s my guy. Sign me up for Team Storm. I’m putting all my chips on a winner.”

Spoiler alert (because racecars have spoilers): In the end, the dickhead hotshot bad guy lost the final race to a nice yellow car. And in turn, my son lost his shit, standing up and shouting, “I don’t like the yellow car! Jackson Storm is nice!

Well, let me tell you something about Jackson Storm, folks: He isn’t nice. He’s arrogant and condescending, and he was just constantly negging Lightning McQueen and psyching him out with politely worded but mean-spirited backhanded compliments. So, I tried to calm my son down by explaining to my son how Jackson Storm was actually a bit of an asshole and said some kind of shitty things to the red car. And also, come on, who did he really think was going to win in the end? The point-of-view character who we accompany on a hero’s journey through his crisis of confidence about a seemingly insurmountable challenge? Or the guy we don’t see in any scenes by himself, ever? But he wasn’t having it.

So, instead, I just shook with laughter throughout his public tirade, and I imagined  the other formulaic sports movies I could use to break his heart. He’d definitely be cheering for the rich preppie jerks in any snobs-versus slobs comedy, for example, and he’d have to be carried screaming out of a showing of Rocky IV when the invincible Russian juggernaut Ivan Drago loses the final boxing match.

Like, that’s more fun at least than the poor guy I saw carrying his kid out of the theatre who was screaming “I hate you, Daddy! You are dumb!” Happy Father’s Day to that guy.