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The first superstar of the sport’s television age, improver if iced tea, and one of the best golfers ever, Arnold Palmer, died at the spry age of 87.

Palmer seemed molded to take sports to the next level: from hobby to national marketing machine.

His humble background and plain-spoken popularity helped change the perception of golf as an elite, upper-class pastime to a more populist sport accessible to middle and working classes.

Apparently, he was also a stunning physical specimen.  Time wrote in1960, “with strength in all the right places: massive shoulders and arms, a waist hardly big enough to hold his trousers up, thick wrists, and leather-hard, outsized hands that can crumple a beer can as though it were tissue paper.” Sounds like Time was having a sleepover where they did each other’s hair and talked about who’s dreamy.  

His timing was perfect too.  His rise came during the post war boom when prosperity [and

palmer

“I do believe I have a case of the vay-pahs.” – Time Magazine, 1960

racism… and sexism] prevailed and the American Dream meant living in the suburbs with your 2.5 kids, your white picket fence, your Donna-Reedesque housewife who knew enough to keep her mouth shut and the roast in the oven, driving your giant Ford to work while getting 1.3 miles per gallon of cheap, plentiful gas, inviting the Johnson’s over for a weenie roast, and you had the leisure time to sit and watch golf on Sundays after you mowed the lawn.  

This unprecedented time of leisure made the perfect moment to become a sports superstar because, well, guys needed to be interested in something.  What, they’re gonna talk to their wives?

Palmer could also play.  I mean, that helped.  Being America’s dream-boy with humble beginnings and leather-hard, outsized hands in post-WWII America isn’t all that propelled him to stardom.  He was a pretty good golfer too.

Palmer went to Wake Forest University, where just for laughs he’d sometimes shoot par while standing on one foot.  Maybe that’s been my problem.  I’ve been using two feet this whole damn time.

Palmer won 62 titles on the PGA Tour.  I mean, Jack Nicklaus won more, but Jack wasn’t the dream-boat that Arnie was.  He didn’t evoke the same homo-eroticism that Arnie did as he gripped his shaft with those leather-hard, outsized hands while looking down at his balls.

Palmer will always be known as one of the greatest golfers ever, but he’s also the guy that turned sports into the major marketing and endorsement machine that it is today.  In the end, his name was attached to a golf-course design outfit, auto dealerships, a golf-equipment company, two golf clubs, an aviation company and a clothing contract with Sears (on their softer side).

Oh, and once he ordered an iced tea mixed with lemonade and the lady at the next table overheard this and ordered what she called an Arnold Palmer.  So there’s that too.

This hit goes to Harmony!  Harmony breaks the triple digit barrier on her first time out!  Well done, rookie!

Happy pooling,

SPMI

PS: Draft night is 11/5 – a mere 39 days away!

Current Standings:

Jami: 190 – (Scott Weiland  – 60, Pat Harrington, Jr. – 20, Umberto Eco – 20, Rob Ford – 60, Erik Bauersfeld – 10, Edward Albee – 20)

Tailgating w/ Jesus: 140 (Dolph Schayes – 20, Meadowlark Lemon – 20, Monte Irvin – 10, Muhammad Ali – 30, Pat Summitt – 40, Buddy Ryan – 20)

Joanne: 130 (Joey Feek – 60, Joe Garagiola – 10, Julius La Rosa – 20, Buckwheat Zydeco – 40)

Lee Kwang-Soo (Giraffe): 130- (Daniel Fleetwood – 70, Abe Vigoda – 10, Nancy Fucking Reagan! – 10!, George Martin – 10, Elie Wiesel – 20, Mike “Mighty Atom, Jr.” Greenstein – 10)

The Girl on Fire: 120 (Wayne Rogers – 20, René Angélil – 30, George Gaynes – 10, James Noble – 10, Doris Roberts – 10, Marni Nixon – 20, Fyvush Finkel – 10, Steven Hill – 10)

Harmony: 100 (Harper Lee – 20, George Kennedy – 10, Frank Sinatra, Jr. – 30, Gene Wilder – 20, Arnold Palmer – 20)

Occupy the Casket: 100 – (Natalie Cole – 40, Vanity – 50, Boutros Boutros-Ghali – 10)

Team Sushi: 80 (Chyna, aka Joanie Laurer – 60, Morley Safer – 20)

Mostly Mike: 60 (Marvin Minsky – 20, Mihaly “Michu” Meszaros – 30, Janet Waldo – 10)

Age of Aquarius: 60 (William Guest – 30, Merle Haggard – 30)

Nathaniel: 50 (Alan Young – 10, Kenny Baker – 20, Glenn Yarbrough – 20)

Mortician’s Daughter: 50 – (Justice Antonin Scalia – 30, Bud Collins – 20)

Gianna: 40 (Robert Stigwood – 20, Lois Duncan – 20)

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Buckwheat Zydeco, a man named after the music he played… or is it the other way around…., and proved that the accordion isn’t just for white people, died at the spry age of 68.

For those not familiar with Zydeco music, it’s that upbeat, New Orleans, French Creole sound with accordions and washboards that sounds fantastic.

For the first two and a half minutes.

Then it grates on you.  

The name Zydeco comes from a French phrase that translates to “the snap beans aren’t salty.”  No, really.   [Buckwheat The-Snap-Beans-Aren’t-Salty]

While Zydeco music is mostly a local, Louisiana phenomenon, Buckwheat broke out with a little (a very little) mainstream success.  Most say that he traded on this “Little Rascals” fame.

He became known for his classic covers like, “Wookin’ Pa Nub,” and “Fee Tines a Naday.”

buckwheat

He was Oh-Tay!

While he never set the charts on fire (see: great-for-2.5-minutes comment above) he became an internationally respected musician.  He opened for Clapton, he recorded with Keith Richards, Robert Plant, Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, Paul Simon, and the Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.

There were more on the list, but I either didn’t care about them or, worse, they were country acts.

Buckwheat was shot in front of 30 Rockefeller Plaza during the recording of Saturday Night Live in footage that will surely become iconic in the pop-culture lexicon.

This hit goes to: Joanne!  She breaks the triple-digit mark and is tied with me in 3rd place!

Happy pooling,

SPMI

PS: Draft night is 11/5 – a mere 40 days away!

Current Standings:

Jami: 190 – (Scott Weiland  – 60, Pat Harrington, Jr. – 20, Umberto Eco – 20, Rob Ford – 60, Erik Bauersfeld – 10, Edward Albee – 20)

Tailgating w/ Jesus: 140 (Dolph Schayes – 20, Meadowlark Lemon – 20, Monte Irvin – 10, Muhammad Ali – 30, Pat Summitt – 40, Buddy Ryan – 20)

Joanne: 130 (Joey Feek – 60, Joe Garagiola – 10, Julius La Rosa – 20, Buckwheat Zydeco – 40)

Lee Kwang-Soo (Giraffe): 130- (Daniel Fleetwood – 70, Abe Vigoda – 10, Nancy Fucking Reagan! – 10!, George Martin – 10, Elie Wiesel – 20, Mike “Mighty Atom, Jr.” Greenstein – 10)

The Girl on Fire: 120 (Wayne Rogers – 20, René Angélil – 30, George Gaynes – 10, James Noble – 10, Doris Roberts – 10, Marni Nixon – 20, Fyvush Finkel – 10, Steven Hill – 10)

Occupy the Casket: 100 – (Natalie Cole – 40, Vanity – 50, Boutros Boutros-Ghali – 10)

Harmony: 80 (Harper Lee – 20, George Kennedy – 10, Frank Sinatra, Jr. – 30, Gene Wilder – 20)

Team Sushi: 80 (Chyna, aka Joanie Laurer – 60, Morley Safer – 20)

Mostly Mike: 60 (Marvin Minsky – 20, Mihaly “Michu” Meszaros – 30, Janet Waldo – 10)

Age of Aquarius: 60 (William Guest – 30, Merle Haggard – 30)

Nathaniel: 50 (Alan Young – 10, Kenny Baker – 20, Glenn Yarbrough – 20)

Mortician’s Daughter: 50 – (Justice Antonin Scalia – 30, Bud Collins – 20)

Gianna: 40 (Robert Stigwood – 20, Lois Duncan – 20)

Hack playwright, Edward Albee died at the spry age of 88.

In 1959, his first produced play, “The Zoo Story,” opened in Berlin.  The play zeroed in on the existential terror at the heart of Eisenhower-era complacency, presenting the increasingly menacing intrusion of a probing, querying stranger on a man reading on a Central Park bench.

The play was famously re-made into the unforgettable smash 2001 movie “We Bought a Zoo” with Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson.  Cameron Crown may have missed the point on that one…

His 1962 Broadway debut was “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?”  It was the happy-go-lucky, laugh-riot, feel-good-play-of -the-year, about couple whose relationship has been corroded by dashed hopes, wounding recriminations and drink.  (Frankly, I took away that the drinking made their horrible existence easier to endure… but I’m Irish)

The play won him a Tony for Best Musical.  …I think it was best musical…    I suppose I could Google that…. Nah, I’m, like, 79.2% sure it was Best Musical.

The 1966 film adaptation, starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, turned the play

Albee.jpg

Albee also won the Nobel Prize for shadow puppets.

into Mr. Albee’s most famous work; it had, he wrote,“hung about my neck like a shining medal of some sort — really nice but a trifle onerous.”  …he said all the way to the bank.

In 1985, Albee was inducted into the American Theater Hall of fame.  Wait-  That’s a thing?

Albee’s adoptive parents kicked him out when he refused to become a “corporate thug” and did not approve of his aspirations to become a writer.  Three Nobel Prizes later, Eddy’s annual Christmas card to his parents just read: Suck it!

He was also honored by New Zealand’s fourth-most-popular folk duo, Flight of the Conchords, in their song “Albee the Racist Dragon.”  According to the duo, the song ended racism in New Zealand.

This hit goes to Jami!  She extends her lead, making it much tougher for anyone to overtake her (with only 47 days left to die).  But who knows?  Maybe we’ll have a Chris Farley come-from-behind win this year!

Happy pooling,

SPMI

PS: Draft night is 11/5 – a mere 47 days away (as alluded to above)!

Current Standings:

Jami: 190 – (Scott Weiland  – 60, Pat Harrington, Jr. – 20, Umberto Eco – 20, Rob Ford – 60, Erik Bauersfeld – 10, Edward Albee – 20)

Tailgating w/ Jesus: 140 (Dolph Schayes – 20, Meadowlark Lemon – 20, Monte Irvin – 10, Muhammad Ali – 30, Pat Summitt – 40, Buddy Ryan – 20)

Lee Kwang-Soo (Giraffe): 130- (Daniel Fleetwood – 70, Abe Vigoda – 10, Nancy Fucking Reagan! – 10!, George Martin – 10, Elie Wiesel – 20, Mike “Mighty Atom, Jr.” Greenstein – 10)

The Girl on Fire: 120 (Wayne Rogers – 20, René Angélil – 30, George Gaynes – 10, James Noble – 10, Doris Roberts – 10, Marni Nixon – 20, Fyvush Finkel – 10, Steven Hill – 10)

Occupy the Casket: 100 – (Natalie Cole – 40, Vanity – 50, Boutros Boutros-Ghali – 10)

Joanne: 90 (Joey Feek – 60, Joe Garagiola – 10, Julius La Rosa – 20)

Harmony: 80 (Harper Lee – 20, George Kennedy – 10, Frank Sinatra, Jr. – 30, Gene Wilder – 20)

Team Sushi: 80 (Chyna, aka Joanie Laurer – 60, Morley Safer – 20)

Mostly Mike: 60 (Marvin Minsky – 20, Mihaly “Michu” Meszaros – 30, Janet Waldo – 10)

Age of Aquarius: 60 (William Guest – 30, Merle Haggard – 30)

Nathaniel: 50 (Alan Young – 10, Kenny Baker – 20, Glenn Yarbrough – 20)

Mortician’s Daughter: 50 – (Justice Antonin Scalia – 30, Bud Collins – 20)

Gianna: 40 (Robert Stigwood – 20, Lois Duncan – 20)

There’s no earthly way of knowing which direction he his going.  There’s no knowing where he’s rowing or which way the river Styx is flowing.

Star of “Quackser Fortune Has a Cousin in the Bronx” and owner of the worst hair ever, Gene Wilder (no relation to Van Wilder), died at the spry age of 83.

Gene’s first major movie role was in Mel Brook’s 1967 classic “The Producers” as the straight man to Zero Mostel’s… Zero Mostel.

This role got him an oscar nomination for best supporting actor which he list to that hack, George Kennedy, who was in “Cool Hand Luke.”

Gene Wilder

Wilder shown here indicating that something is “O-K.”

But four years later, Wilder will make the movie that he will be remembered for.  “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory,” was a flop that pulled in $2.1 million on it’s opening weekend.  Apparently, parents avoided it because they thought that it portrayed cruelty to children.

Well, parents need to get over themselves.

Over the years, the movie popped up on TV.  Mostly during Easter.  Cuz, while there are little to no children’s movies about Easter, there is one about candy!  The movie gained popularity in the 80s and soon became a classic.  

Wilder was hesitant to take the roll but the took it under one condition.  One, very specific condition.  He said (actual quote):

When I make my first entrance, I’d like to come out of the door carrying a cane and then walk toward the crowd with a limp. After the crowd sees Willy Wonka is a cripple, they all whisper to themselves and then become deathly quiet. As I walk toward them, my cane sinks into one of the cobblestones I’m walking on and stands straight up, by itself… but I keep on walking, until I realize that I no longer have my cane. I start to fall forward, and just before I hit the ground, I do a beautiful forward somersault and bounce back up, to great applause.

He had this idea so that for the rest of the film, you didn’t know if Wonka was telling the truth or not.

Wilder will always be remembered best as Willy Wonka… or more accurately, a meme of Willy Wonka that drips of sarcasm.

WonkaThree Years after that, Wilder teamed up with Mel Brooks again for two… no, not one, but two of their greatest movies ever.

“Blazing Saddles,” one of the fucking funniest movies ever made, spoofed westerns, but more so, spoofed racism in movies.  Ever since then, there has been absolutely zero racism in movies.  It’s really quite astounding.  

Wilder played “The Waco Kid,” (Jim, to his friends) who was the fastest and apparently the least racist gun in the west.  (“What’s a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?”)

That year also saw the release of “Young Frankenstein.”  Jesus Christ, this movie is funny.  If you have not seen these movies, stop reading and go see them.  Right now.  I’ll wait.

I will always be indebted to Gene Wilder because he was insistent on including the “Puttin’ on the Ritz” number in “Young Frankenstein.”  I am literally laughing about this scene as I type.

Brooks was resistant to the number as a mere “conceit” and felt it would detract from the fidelity to Universal horror films. Wilder recalls being “close to rage and tears” and argued for the scene before Brooks stopped him and said, “It’s in!”. When Wilder asked why he had changed his mind, Brooks said that since Wilder had fought for it then it would be the right thing to do.

When the filmed the scene, nobody was really sure what the monster would say until Peter Boyle, without any direction, belted out “Puiinin on da reeez!”

I have this on my Ipod.

This hit goes to: Harmony!  The rookie has a strong 80 points… although, that is less than half of the leader’s score…

Happy pooling,

SPMI

PS: Draft night is 11/5 – a mere 66 days away!

Current Standings:

Jami: 170 – (Scott Weiland  – 60, Pat Harrington, Jr. – 20, Umberto Eco – 20, Rob Ford – 60, Erik Bauersfeld – 10)

Tailgating w/ Jesus: 140 (Dolph Schayes – 20, Meadowlark Lemon – 20, Monte Irvin – 10, Muhammad Ali – 30, Pat Summitt – 40, Buddy Ryan – 20)

Lee Kwang-Soo (Giraffe): 130- (Daniel Fleetwood – 70, Abe Vigoda – 10, Nancy Fucking Reagan! – 10!, George Martin – 10, Elie Wiesel – 20, Mike “Mighty Atom, Jr.” Greenstein – 10)

The Girl on Fire: 120 (Wayne Rogers – 20, René Angélil – 30, George Gaynes – 10, James Noble – 10, Doris Roberts – 10, Marni Nixon – 20, Fyvush Finkel – 10, Steven Hill – 10)

Occupy the Casket: 100 – (Natalie Cole – 40, Vanity – 50, Boutros Boutros-Ghali – 10)

Joanne: 90 (Joey Feek – 60, Joe Garagiola – 10, Julius La Rosa – 20)

Harmony: 80 (Harper Lee – 20, George Kennedy – 10, Frank Sinatra, Jr. – 30, Gene Wilder – 20)

Team Sushi: 80 (Chyna, aka Joanie Laurer – 60, Morley Safer – 20)

Mostly Mike: 60 (Marvin Minsky – 20, Mihaly “Michu” Meszaros – 30, Janet Waldo – 10)

Age of Aquarius: 60 (William Guest – 30, Merle Haggard – 30)

Nathaniel: 50 (Alan Young – 10, Kenny Baker – 20, Glenn Yarbrough – 20)

Mortician’s Daughter: 50 – (Justice Antonin Scalia – 30, Bud Collins – 20)

Gianna: 40 (Robert Stigwood – 20, Lois Duncan – 20)

Star of “Law & Order,” (insert chung-chung sound here) and the 1st season of “Mission: Impossible,” Steven Hill died at the spry age of 94.

Hill will be most remembered for his role of the stern, seemingly imperturbable district attorney Adam Schiff on “Law & Order,” (insert chung-chung sound here).  But he really kicked ass as Daniel Briggs in the 1st season of “Mission: Impossible.”

But why only the 1st season?  Because he was Jewish.

As one of the few Orthodox Jewish actors working in Hollywood, he made it clear in advance of production that he was not able to work on the Sabbath (i.e., sundown Friday to dusk Saturday), and that he would leave the set every Friday before sundown.

The producers were all: “Yeah, sure, guy, that sounds great…”  Then, when Sundown

Steven Hill

“I’m gonna make it to that goddamned Seder if it kills my career!”

neared on Fridays and he left the studio (sometimes while still filming) the producers were suddenly like: “Oh, wait.  You were serious about that shit?  ‘Cuz that shit ain’t gonna fly.”

This became quite a sticking point with the producers.  They tried to use him less and less as episodes went on.  Normally, the show starts with the IMF team leader getting a mission (should he choose to accept it), doing the mission (because he always accepted it) and then kicking back with a scotch and soda at the nearest go-go bar.

Towards the end of the season, Hill would just get the mission and IMF his team would do the mission without him.  There were even a few episodes where he didn’t even do that much.

They couldn’t fire him because two years earlier that whole “Civil Rights Act” had been passed and equal employment meant that you couldn’t fire someone because of their religion.

Not to mention that doing so is totally a dick move.

Towards the end of filming, Hill was told to to climb the rafters via a soundstage staircase as was called for in the script and he refused.  This was likely a safety thing and not a Jewish thing.

But the producers were all: YES!  We can fire his ass now!

After that, Hill was blackballed and couldn’t get any work for the next ten years.  

In 1983, he made his big comeback in “Yentl.”  How embarrassing for him.

This hit goes to: Mary!  Another ten point brings her to 50 below the leader!

Happy pooling,

SPMI

Current Standings:

Jami: 170 – (Scott Weiland  – 60, Pat Harrington, Jr. – 20, Umberto Eco – 20, Rob Ford – 60, Erik Bauersfeld – 10)

Tailgating w/ Jesus: 140 (Dolph Schayes – 20, Meadowlark Lemon – 20, Monte Irvin – 10, Muhammad Ali – 30, Pat Summitt – 40, Buddy Ryan – 20)

Lee Kwang-Soo (Giraffe): 130- (Daniel Fleetwood – 70, Abe Vigoda – 10, Nancy Fucking Reagan! – 10!, George Martin – 10, Elie Wiesel – 20, Mike “Mighty Atom, Jr.” Greenstein – 10)

The Girl on Fire: 120 (Wayne Rogers – 20, René Angélil – 30, George Gaynes – 10, James Noble – 10, Doris Roberts – 10, Marni Nixon – 20, Fyvush Finkel – 10, Steven Hill – 10)

Occupy the Casket: 100 – (Natalie Cole – 40, Vanity – 50, Boutros Boutros-Ghali – 10)

Joanne: 90 (Joey Feek – 60, Joe Garagiola – 10, Julius La Rosa – 20)

Team Sushi: 80 (Chyna, aka Joanie Laurer – 60, Morley Safer – 20)

Mostly Mike: 60 (Marvin Minsky – 20, Mihaly “Michu” Meszaros – 30, Janet Waldo – 10)

Age of Aquarius: 60 (William Guest – 30, Merle Haggard – 30)

Harmony: 60 (Harper Lee – 20, George Kennedy – 10, Frank Sinatra, Jr. – 30)

Nathaniel: 50 (Alan Young – 10, Kenny Baker – 20, Glenn Yarbrough – 20)

Mortician’s Daughter: 50 – (Justice Antonin Scalia – 30, Bud Collins – 20)

Gianna: 40 (Robert Stigwood – 20, Lois Duncan – 20)

Emmy winning actor and bearer of one of the greatest monikers ever, Fyvush Finkel, died at the spry age of 93.

In 1992, he was born Phillip Finkel.  I know, right?  Who changes their name from Phillip to something like Fyvush?  

Fyvush-Fucking-Finkle did!  Come on!  How awesome is that name?  It’s so fun to say!  Go on, say it.  I’ll wait.

Fyvush

Oh yeah, that guy…

I mean, who the hell would ever remember some schlep like Phil Finkle?  But a mensch like Fyvush Finkel: he da man!  Da Semitic man!

Yes, Fyvush Finkel was Jewish.  But that’s kind of an understatement.  Even Mel Brooks and Woody Allen kept telling Fyvush “Enough with the New York Jew thing, we get it already.”  But when a man acts in the Yiddish theater for 35 years, he’s gonna be as damned Jewish has he wants to be.  Hell, he’ll even change his name to Fyvush!

Even as he became more famous over the years, he still returned to Yiddish Theater because he said it was an atmosphere that you didn’t get anywhere else.

Once, while he was performing, a man in the front row fell asleep.  Fyvush stopped and asked the man’s wife to wake him up to which she replied: “You wake him up.  You’re the one who put him to sleep.”

Apparently, shit like that don’t fly during “Wicked.”

In his time, he took on such roles as Shomier, Shlomo, Saul, Sol, Abe, Moishe and Moshe.

Besides his name, Finkel will be remembered for his roles in the TV show “Boston Public” and “Picket Fences.”  I never saw “Boston Public” and, frankly, I’m too lazy to find out more about his character from the show.  But I loved him in “Picket Fences.”  I wonder if that show holds up…

This hit goes to: Mary!  She breaks her tie w/ Pirate and is now a mere 60 points behind the leader!

Happy pooling,

SPMI

Current Standings:

Jami: 170 – (Scott Weiland  – 60, Pat Harrington, Jr. – 20, Umberto Eco – 20, Rob Ford – 60, Erik Bauersfeld – 10)

Tailgating w/ Jesus: 140 (Dolph Schayes – 20, Meadowlark Lemon – 20, Monte Irvin – 10, Muhammad Ali – 30, Pat Summitt – 40, Buddy Ryan – 20)

Lee Kwang-Soo (Giraffe): 130- (Daniel Fleetwood – 70, Abe Vigoda – 10, Nancy Fucking Reagan! – 10!, George Martin – 10, Elie Wiesel – 20, Mike “Mighty Atom, Jr.” Greenstein – 10)

The Girl on Fire: 110 (Wayne Rogers – 20, René Angélil – 30, George Gaynes – 10, James Noble – 10, Doris Roberts – 10, Marni Nixon – 20, Fyvush Finkel – 10)

Occupy the Casket: 100 – (Natalie Cole – 40, Vanity – 50, Boutros Boutros-Ghali – 10)

Joanne: 90 (Joey Feek – 60, Joe Garagiola – 10, Julius La Rosa – 20)

Team Sushi: 80 (Chyna, aka Joanie Laurer – 60, Morley Safer – 20)

Mostly Mike: 60 (Marvin Minsky – 20, Mihaly “Michu” Meszaros – 30, Janet Waldo – 10)

Age of Aquarius: 60 (William Guest – 30, Merle Haggard – 30)

Harmony: 60 (Harper Lee – 20, George Kennedy – 10, Frank Sinatra, Jr. – 30)

Mortician’s Daughter: 50 – (Justice Antonin Scalia – 30, Bud Collins – 20)

Gianna: 40 (Robert Stigwood – 20, Lois Duncan – 20)

Nathaniel: 30 (Alan Young – 10, Kenny Baker – 20)

R2D2 beeped his last beep this weekend when diminutive actor Kenny Baker died at the spry age of 81.

Baker took the job of sitting in an 80 pound tin can in the middle of the Tunisian desert in 100 degree heat just to entertain us all as R2D2: the droid with a plan.

See, all of Star Wars goes according to R2’s plans.  Once he get the schematics for the Death Star loaded into him, he’s like, “Awright, let’s get this shit done!”

He commandeers an escape pod to get to the home planet of Obi Wan Kenobi and despite imprisonment by Jawas and a family of moisture farmers, he manages to trick some dumb kid (who just wanted to go to Toshi Station to pick up some power converters) into taking off his restraining bolt so that he could be on his merry way to Obi Wan…

My point is: that little fucker knew what the hell he was doing.

Because he stood at a commanding 3’ 8” tall (that would have made him ½ of a Darth

Baker

The head of Kenny Baker will be on display at the National Gallery in London.

Vader), he was an ideal candidate to sit in the tin can.

Baker initially turned down the roll of R2 saying, “I don’t want to be stuck in a robot, what for, for goodness sake.”  Because he was the only person who could fit inside the R2 unit and manipulate it, he eventually relented and later said that if he were to do it again, he would have done it for free.

I know what you’re thinking: why not make the robot more… robotic?  Because this was 1976, jackass.  The most recent movie to use robotics in a big way was “Jaws.”  And that damn shark never worked.  So installing remote servos and all that shit was out of the question, practically and technologically.  

Now stop asking stupid-ass questions.

Cause of death was listed as a direct hit from an ion blaster that disabled Baker, rendering him powerless.  CCTV revealed that Jawas were in the area at the time, but Scotland Yard is not commenting on the possibility of a Jawa scavenging.

This hit goes to: Nathaniel!  (To which we all sigh a collective “duh.”)  Nathaniel claws his way up from last place with 10 points, all the way to last place with 30 points!

The force: not so strong with this one.

Happy pooling,

SPMI

Current Standings:

Jami: 170 – (Scott Weiland  – 60, Pat Harrington, Jr. – 20, Umberto Eco – 20, Rob Ford – 60, Erik Bauersfeld – 10)

Tailgating w/ Jesus: 140 (Dolph Schayes – 20, Meadowlark Lemon – 20, Monte Irvin – 10, Muhammad Ali – 30, Pat Summitt – 40, Buddy Ryan – 20)

Lee Kwang-Soo (Giraffe): 130- (Daniel Fleetwood – 70, Abe Vigoda – 10, Nancy Fucking Reagan! – 10!, George Martin – 10, Elie Wiesel – 20, Mike “Mighty Atom, Jr.” Greenstein – 10)

The Girl on Fire: 100 (Wayne Rogers – 20, René Angélil – 30, George Gaynes – 10, James Noble – 10, Doris Roberts – 10, Marni Nixon – 20)

Occupy the Casket: 100 – (Natalie Cole – 40, Vanity – 50, Boutros Boutros-Ghali – 10)

Joanne: 90 (Joey Feek – 60, Joe Garagiola – 10, Julius La Rosa – 20)

Team Sushi: 80 (Chyna, aka Joanie Laurer – 60, Morley Safer – 20)

Mostly Mike: 60 (Marvin Minsky – 20, Mihaly “Michu” Meszaros – 30, Janet Waldo – 10)

Age of Aquarius: 60 (William Guest – 30, Merle Haggard – 30)

Harmony: 60 (Harper Lee – 20, George Kennedy – 10, Frank Sinatra, Jr. – 30)

Mortician’s Daughter: 50 – (Justice Antonin Scalia – 30, Bud Collins – 20)

Gianna: 40 (Robert Stigwood – 20, Lois Duncan – 20)

Nathaniel: 30 (Alan Young – 10, Kenny Baker – 20)

Tiny actor Michu Meszaros {Pronounced: in some weird Hungarian way] died at the spry age of 76.

At 2’ 9”, Michu was unofficially the smallest person in the world.  I really don’t know why it was unofficial.. Did he fill out a form in duplicate instead of triplicate?  …Fuckin’ DMV.

Named after the abbreviation of Machu Picchu, the diminutive Hungarian was best known for playing Alf on the popular 80s sitcom, “Alf.”  Whenever Alf moved from behind the couch to the table, looking all creepy because you know he’s just a puppet, and he shouldn’t be walking around like that because puppets don’t have legs and it’s just fukin’ creepy!, that was Michu inside of that Alf suit.

He couldn’t be in the Alf suit for too long because it was extremely hot and uncomfortable for the actor to wear under the bright studio lights.  And there are labor laws that are meant to protect people from such conditions.  Unlike in Japan where you play goddamn Godzilla until we drag your goddamn unconscious body out of that goddamn suit and sew in a goddamn replacement actor!

As a youngster, Michu attended a state-run school of circus arts, becoming well-versed in many and varied performing skills.  He did this because he could see the fucking writing

Michu Meszaros

That Michael Jackson… he loved males of small stature.

on the wall.  He was 2 feet tall!  What the hell else is he gonna do?  He was never going to make it as the manager of the local Hungarian Quick Stop [known locally as Gyors Stop].  If he was gonna make any scratch in this world, the circus was the ticket.

After hearing rumors of his existence for years, Ringling Brothers found him in 1973 and hired him to be… well… a midget.  But you know, in a way that debases his dignity.

Michu did a bit as a trainer for standard poodles.  See, it was funny because the dogs were bigger than he was.  And somewhere, a young Peter Dinklage hung his head in quiet disgust.

Michu was in four feature films including Waxwork, Big-Top Pee-Wee, Warlock: Armageddon, Freaked and… oh, I guess that’s all of them.

That last movie starred Brooke Shields and is about a vain actor, his best friend, and an activist end up at a mutant freak farm run by a weirdo scientist.  Must.  See.  This.  Movie!

He also did an episode of “Dear John,” because he and Judd Hircsh had been looking for a project to do together for years.

This hit goes to: Mostly Mike!  He is now up to an astounding 50 points!  Remember, this is the guy who won on his rookie year.

Happy pooling,

SPMI

Current Standings:

Jami: 170 – (Scott Weiland  – 60, Pat Harrington, Jr. – 20, Umberto Eco – 20, Rob Ford – 60, Erik Bauersfeld – 10)

Lee Kwang-Soo (Giraffe): 100 – (Daniel Fleetwood – 70, Abe Vigoda – 10, Nancy Fucking Reagan! – 10!, George Martin – 10)

Occupy the Casket: 100 – (Natalie Cole – 40, Vanity – 50, Boutros Boutros-Ghali – 10)

Tailgating w/ Jesus: 90 (Dolph Schayes – 20, Meadowlark Lemon – 20, Monte Irvin – 10, Muhammad Ali – 30)

Joanne: 90 (Joey Feek – 60, Joe Garagiola – 10, Julius La Rosa – 20)

Team Sushi: 80 (Chyna, aka Joanie Laurer – 60, Morley Safer – 20)

The Girl on Fire: 80 (Wayne Rogers – 20, René Angélil – 30, George Gaynes – 10, James Noble – 10, Doris Roberts – 10)

Age of Aquarius: 60 (William Guest – 30, Merle Haggard – 30)

Harmony: 60 (Harper Lee – 20, George Kennedy – 10, Frank Sinatra, Jr. – 30)

Mostly Mike: 50 (Marvin Minsky – 20, Mihaly “Michu” Meszaros – 30)

Mortician’s Daughter: 50 – (Justice Antonin Scalia – 30, Bud Collins – 20)

Gianna: 20 (Robert Stigwood – 20)

Nathaniel: 10 (Alan Young – 10)

Singer and ex-friend of Arthur Godfrey, Julius La Rosa, died at the spry age of 86.

La Rosa had a number one hit in 1953 (that’s 31 years pre-“Ghostbusters”) with the Italian language song “Eh Cumpari.”   

I’m sorry, I meant the Sicilian language song… you don’t want to confuse that shit.  It’ll piss everyone off.

The song is basically:

“Hey buddy, music is playing. What is playing? The whistle.  And what does it sound like—the whistle? [make whistling sound] the whistle, tipiti tipiti tam.”

Repeat for saxophone, mandolin, violin, trumpet and trombone.

It was the “Stairway to Heaven” of the 50s.  …but in Italian.

I mean Sicilian.

Crap.

La Rosa

The La Rosa triplets.  Guess which one is Julius.

La Rosa was a regular on both the morning Arthur Godfrey Time (broadcast on both the CBS radio and television networks) and the Wednesday night variety show Arthur Godfrey and His Friends.  That is, until Godfrey fired his ass.

On the air.

I know what you’re thinking?  “He fired his ass?  While on the air?  Clearly that is some career-ending shit!”  And it kinda was.  For Godfrey.

What happened was that, unbeknownst to the general public, Arthur Godfrey was a dick.  He insisted that everyone who works on his shows a) took mandatory dance lessons and b) could not be represented by an agent.  It was also speculated that he was angry because La Rosa got more fan-mail than he did.

That 1st one seems pretty reasonable: take dance lessons to be on a variety show.  I get that.  But La Rosa had a family emergency and he had to miss a few classes.  Plus, La Rosa was no chump, he hired an agent.

It was October 19, 1953.  The country was deep in a depression because the Yankees had just beat the Dodgers in the world series.  Ore-Ida was about to shake up the culinary world with their newest innovation: Tater-Tots.  The film “Stalag 17” taught us all to laugh about Nazi concentration camps.  And Julius La Rosa went onto Godfrey’s morning radio show to sing the song “Manhattan.”  

When he finished, Godfrey took to the mic and said, “that was Julie’s swan song with us.  He goes now, out on his own — as his own star — soon to be seen on his own programs, and I know you’ll wish him godspeed as much as I do”. Godfrey then signed off for the day saying, “This is the CBS Radio Network”.

Once La Rosa, who knew nothing about this, found out what “Swan Song” meant, he got pretty pissed.  [Really, someone had to explain it to him.]

While La Rosa’s popularity continued to thrive, the move changed the way that the public say Godfrey and lead to his eventual decline.  

HA!  Take that!  Earning less and less each year until you are only incredibly well off instead of fabulously well off!  Jerk!

This hit goes to: Joanne!  She is up to 90 points: one hit away from triple digits!

Happy pooling,

SPMI

Current Standings:

Jami: 170 – (Scott Weiland  – 60, Pat Harrington, Jr. – 20, Umberto Eco – 20, Rob Ford – 60, Erik Bauersfeld – 10)

Lee Kwang-Soo (Giraffe): 100 – (Daniel Fleetwood – 70, Abe Vigoda – 10, Nancy Fucking Reagan! – 10!, George Martin – 10)

Occupy the Casket: 100 – (Natalie Cole – 40, Vanity – 50, Boutros Boutros-Ghali – 10)

Joanne: 90 (Joey Feek – 60, Joe Garagiola – 10, Julius La Rosa – 20)

The Girl on Fire: 80 (Wayne Rogers – 20, René Angélil – 30, George Gaynes – 10, James Noble – 10, Doris Roberts – 10)

Team Sushi: 60 (Chyna, aka Joanie Laurer – 60)

Age of Aquarius: 60 (William Guest – 30, Merle Haggard – 30)

Harmony: 60 (Harper Lee – 20, George Kennedy – 10, Frank Sinatra, Jr. – 30)

Mortician’s Daughter: 50 – (Justice Antonin Scalia – 30, Bud Collins)

Tailgating w/ Jesus: 50 (Dolph Schayes – 20, Meadowlark Lemon – 20, Monte Irvin – 10)

Mostly Mike: 20 (Marvin Minsky – 20)

Gianna: 20 (Robert Stigwood – 20)

Showbiz manager and anorexia fettishist, René Angélil, died at the spry age of 73.

Angélil, or as it says on his business cards, “Celine Dion’s Husband,” had been battling cancer… More cancer!?! Jesus?  First Bowie, then Rickman now this… Well, he’s really not in the same class as Bowie or Rickman.  Maybe if Crazy Eddie died recently, he could be in that class.  [His funerals are insane!]

Angélil was born in Quebec (which automatically makes him one of the world’s worst drivers) a full 26 years before Celine was born.

In the 60’s he was part of and managed several pop groups from that hot Montreal sound that no one has ever talked about.  Ever.

In 1994 he married his third wife, the aforementioned Celine Dion, whom he had first met when she was 12.  OK, this just went from a May-December romance to just fuckin’ creepy.  Twelve?  You meet a twelve year old girl and marry her when she’s 26?  God, that’s just gross.

In 1990, he mortgaged his own home to produce Celine’s first album.  The music industry

Angelil.jpg

Dirty Ol’ Bastard.

is still reeling from this travesty.

Dion soon became one of the most popular singers in the world.  Kind of like the Thomas Kinkade of music.  She put out awful crap and people ate it up like it was quality goods.

Angélil was diagnosed with cancer something like 90 years ago.  At one point Celine took a hiatus from “entertainment” to spend time with her family and care for her old, decrepit husband.  Lamentably, this only lasted for three years.

She now has a regular gig in Las Vegas… because when you suck, you get a Vegas show.  Man, we’re a long way from the Rat Pack.  Thanks a lot, Elvis.

This hit goes to: The Girl on Fire!  Mary has been dutifully picking and holding over Angélil for something like 90 years now.  Her due diligence finally paid off!

Nancy Reagan, somehow, still continues to live.  

Happy pooling,

SPMI

Current Standings:

Jami: 80 – (Scott Weiland  – 60, Pat Harrington, Jr. – 20)

Lee Kwang-Soo (Giraffe): 70- (Daniel Fleetwood – 70)

Tailgating w/ Jesus: 50 (Dolph Schayes – 20, Meadowlark Lemon – 20, Monte Irvin – 10)

Occupy the Casket: 40 – (Natalie Cole – 40)

Age of Aquarius: 30 (William Guest – 30)

Gianna: 20 (Robert Stigwood – 20)

The Girl on Fire: 50 (Wayne Rogers – 20, René Angélil – 30)