Monday, January 3, 2011

Blake Edwards

A couple of weeks ago Blake Edwards, one of the great directors of Old Hollywood, died at the age of 88.

Edwards directed an impressive list of classic comedies, including The Pink Panther films and Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

They’re so good, we’re willing to forgive him for that awful Bruce Willis post-Moonlighting vehicle Blind Date.

Blake Edwards

His other impressive achievement was marrying the delectable Julie Andrews in 1969 and staying married to her for 41 years. Respect.

In terms of our Dead Pool, Mr Edwards’ sad passing was presciently predicted by Kate, awarding her 12 points and placing her in the lead.

And that’s actually it for the year. Congratulations Kate!

Yearly wrap-up to follow. And thanks for playing.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Dead Pool Super Happy Bumper Catch Up Edition!

The Celebrity Dead Pool has been sadly neglected over the last three months, but this hasn’t stopped our celebrity friends dropping off the perch at a rate of knots.

So here’s a quick catch-up.

Dick Francis On the 14th of February we lost, at the age of 89, Welsh novelist Dick Francis. This was a man who managed to turn his interest in horse racing into a lucrative horse-race-based-crime-novel career.

Seriously. How many people can claim that?

On March 10, 1980s screen darling and 2000s reality TV dropout Corey Haim tragically died at the age of 38.

Peter GravesOn March 14, we bid a fond farewell to actor Peter Graves at the age of 83. Graves was star of the original classic Mission: Impossible series and the utterer (in the just-as-classic Airplane!) of that immortal line: “Do you like gladiator movies?”

March 15 saw the death of Australian children’s book author Patricia Wrightson at the age of 88. Her legacy includes the much-loved novel The Nargun and the Stars which, along with the subsequent TV series, was instrumental in introducing a whole generation of Australian kids to indigenous legends and creepy horror stories.

Robert Culp - The Outer Limits On March 24 we lost actor Robert Culp at the age of 79. Culp remains one of the first and easily one of the best wisecracking badass TV sidekicks we’ve ever had.

Whether it was opposite a crappy superhero in The Greatest American Hero or a crappy comedian in I, Spy, he always managed to bring the funny. (Although not so much in that episode of The Outer Limits. That was just weird).

Malcolm McLaren The 8th of April saw the death of artist, singer, musician, manager, designer and shameless self-promoter Malcolm McLaren at the age of 64.

What more can we say that hasn’t been said? Maybe Yellow Planetary Digital Reversion. But seriously, that’s about it.

On April 10 actress Dixie Carter, star of the iconic 1980s series Designing Women died at the age of 70. There is no truth whatsoever to the rumour that her coffin had to be widened to accommodate her shoulder pads.

And I’m ashamed of myself for starting it.

Carl WilliamsThe 19th of April saw the death-by-assassination-with-a-piece-of-exercise-bike of notorious Australian criminal Carl Williams.

He was … um … notorious but … I’m sure … much loved by his family and the members of his gang … who are all very good looking and … nice to their mothers and … hug puppies at every opportunity.

Lynn Redgrave On May 2 we farewelled actress Lynn Redgrave. A brilliantly versatile actress, Redgrave was just as comfortable on the Broadway stage as she was playing the foul-mouthed Trudy in TV’s Rude Awakening. The world of entertainment is poorer for her passing.

May 16 saw the death of heavy metal legend Ronnie James Dio at the age of 67. Despite his prolific musical output, his main legacies appear to be the “Devil Horns” hand signal and the vocals on Roger Glover’s classic Butterfly Ball video. Still. That’s very cool.

Martin Gardner On May 22 Martin Gardner, a founding member of CSICOP and one of the founders of the modern Skeptic movement, passed away at the very respectable age of 95.

As a math nerd, I’ve followed Martin Gardner’s work for years. Through numerous books and his regular “Mathematical Games” column in Scientific American, Gardner managed to make a connection between mathematics and storytelling that few have managed to repeat.

image On May 28 we bid a fond farewell to child star and the world’s most famous security guard Gary Coleman.

Expect reruns of The Gary Coleman Show on a poor-taste cable network near you.

And finally, on May 29 the world lost the great Dennis Hopper at the somewhat surprising (for anyone who knew him) age of 74. As a tribute, may I suggest a movie marathon of Easy Rider, Blue Velvet and My Science Project. Classics one and all.

And with that, we’re all caught up.

The scores have yet to move from their previous position, so Tom is still leading the pack on 9 points.

Thanks for checking in. And stay tuned for further updates.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Alexander McQueen

The world of fashion has lost one of its most interesting and creative voices.

Fashion designer Alexander McQueen has died at the age of 40.

Alexander McQueenFeted by the fashion industry and crowned British Designer Of The Year a record four times, his reputation was nevertheless as the incorrigible bad boy of fashion.

He claimed to have once sewn the words “I am a cunt” into the sleeve of a jacket meant for the Prince of Wales. True story or not, he’s still a legend.

McQueen was found dead in his London apartment, of a suspected suicide, just nine days after the death of his mother.

Alexander McQueen, we salute you.

Friday, January 29, 2010

JD Salinger

Reclusive author J.D. Salinger (writer of The Catcher in the Rye and … some other books, apparently) has died at the age of 91.

JD SalingerApart from his seminal study of disaffected youth, Salinger was most famous for studiously avoiding the limelight. His last publication was the novella Hapworth 16, 1924 in 1965, and his last media interview was in 1980.

The Catcher in the Rye will long be remembered, though. It continues to sell a quarter-million copies a year.

And with that we are also off to a roaring start for the 2010 Dead Pool, with 9 points awarded to Tom. Congratulations!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Jean (not Gene) Simmons

Gorgeous British actress Jean Simmons (not to be confused with KISS frontman Gene Simmons) has passed away at the age of 80.

jean-simmonsJean was a legend of stage and screen, best known for her performances in Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet, the Kirk Douglas classic Spartacus and as Rear Admiral Norah Satie in one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Simmons’ beauty and tumultuous private life made her a regular focus of tabloid gossip, but there is no truth to the rumour that she had a cow’s tongue grafted onto her own.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Celebrity Dead Pool 2010 Nominations

2010DeadPoolTemp Welcome friends, to a slightly belated Celebrity Dead Pool 2010.

Despite the late start to the year (can I claim that I’m still using the Julian Calendar rather than the Gregorian?) we’re cranked up and ready to go, with 16 entrants and 116 unique celebrity names to watch.

The tips run the gamut from the very young to the very old, so it’ll be a terrific race and it’s anyone’s game and any number of other sporting clich├ęs you can think of.

Anyway, here’s everyone’s tips. Good luck!

Abby
David Attenborough
Christian Bale
Bob Barker
Susan Boyle
Pete Doherty
Lindsay Lohan
Nelson Mandela
Katie Price
Burt Reynolds
Tila Tequila

Andrew
Richard Branson
Jimmy Carter
Dick Cheney
Macaulay Culkin
The 14th Dalai Lama
Delta Goodrem
Paris Hilton
Nelson Mandela
Margaret Thatcher
Jan Ullrich

Anna
King Bhumibol Adulyadej
David Attenborough
Richie Benaud
John Goodman
Mikhail Gorbachev
Nelson Mandela
John McCain
Robert Mugabe
Arnold Schwarzenegger
Charlie Sheen

Benn
Carol Burnett
Joan Collins
Schapelle Corby
Dawn French
Barry Humphries
Joseph Jackson
Elton John
Mickey Rooney
Eric Sykes
Ian Turpie

Dave
Kirk Douglas
Queen Elizabeth II
Stephen Hawking
Kim Jong-Il
Jack Klugman
Kate Moss
Cliff Richard
OJ Simpson
Owen Wilson
Amy Winehouse

Eliza
Muhammad Ali
Fidel Castro
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Hazel Hawke
Chloe Lattanzi
Lindsay Lohan
Courtney Love
Liza Minelli
Bert Newton
Keith Richards

Greg
Christina Amphlett
Julie Andrews
Miley Cyrus
Blanche D'Alpuget
Judi Dench
Hazel Hawke
Elton John
Solomon Lew
Liza Minelli
Jessica Origliasso

Jill
Akihito, Emperor of Japan
Ernest Borgnine
Kirk Douglas
Angela Lansbury
Liza Minelli
Peter O'Toole
Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh
Nancy Reagan
Britney Spears
Gough Whitlam

Kate
Bill Cosby
Blake Edwards
David Hasselhoff
Hugh Hefner
Kim Jong-Il
Courtney Love
Nancy Reagan
Margaret Thatcher
Gene Wilder
Owen Wilson

Laura
Mohamed Al-Fayed
Emma Bunton
Mick Mars
Sam Newman
Bert Newton
Mary-Kate Olsen
Mickey Rooney
Diana Ross
Paul Shaffer
Thom Yorke

Rob
George H. W. Bush
Sean Connery
Doris Day
Queen Elizabeth II
John Laws
Bert Newton
Keith Richards
William Shatner
Elizabeth Taylor
Betty White

Sarah
Bryce Courtenay
Lindsay Fox
Bob Hawke
Nathan Hudson
Di Morrissey
Mary-Kate Olsen
Michael Parkinson
Margaret Thatcher
Gene Wilder
Terry Wogan

Shannon
Barbara Bush
Schapelle Corby
Annette Funicello
Zsa Zsa Gabor
Kim Jong-Il
Lindsay Lohan
Conrad Murray
Keith RIchards
Elizabeth Taylor
Tila Tequila

Tom
Buzz Aldrin
Stephen Hawking
Kim Jong-il
Henry Kissinger
Tom Lehrer
Harry Markowitz
Rupert Murdoch
JD Salinger
Ravi Shankar
Franco Zeffirelli

Trevor
Fidel Castro
Peter Falk
David Hasselhoff
Larry King
Courtney Love
Nelson Mandela
Burt Reynolds
Margaret Thatcher
Betty White
Amy Winehouse

Ty
Fidel Castro
Kirk Douglas
Clive Dunn
Delta Goodrem
Phil Jamieson
Kim Jong-il
Liza Minelli
Barack Obama
Elizabeth Taylor
Lil’ Wayne

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Celebrity Dead Pool 2010

2010DeadPoolTemp It’s that time of year again.

Well, it’s actually well and truly past that time, but there you are.

Time waits for no man.

And neither does Celebrity Dead Pool 2010!

Because of my dreadful tardiness we’ll begin the competition a little late this year, on the completely arbitrary date I’ve chosen of Sunday 17 January.

That gives you ghouls a whole ten days to put together your nomination lists and email them to me at ilikeportello@gmail.com.

Scoring and rules are more or less the same as last year but really, it’s not rocket science.

Write a list of 10 celebrities you think are not long for this world and send it on in.

Of course, if you’re the sort of person who’s into details you can read all the fine print below.

And if you’re looking for some inspiration, check out some of last year’s nominations.

Get tipping, people … and good luck!

-----------------------------------------------------------

The Rules

1. All nominated celebrities must be human and must be alive as at 12am on 17 January 2010.

2. If you make a nomination and the person dies before 12am on 17 January 2010, you may substitute another name. You will have 1 day's grace, and the substitution must happen before 12am on 18 January 2010.

3. Nominated persons must be famous or infamous in their own right, not (for example) because they're sick, or because they're very old, or because they're hideously and tragically deformed, or because they're about to undergo an extraordinary, ground-breaking and very risky operation.

4. For a death to be valid, it must be reported by at least one major mainstream media outlet. Examples include AP, AAP, Reuters, a major national or metropolitan newspaper or a major national or metropolitan TV network. Your blog doesn't count.

5. The death of a local celebrity will only be valid if their death is reported by a national media outlet, or by a major media outlet in another city.

6. If a nominated person is on death row or known to have a terminal illness at the start of the game, no points will be awarded if they die of the expected cause. Similarly, if a nominated person is being held hostage at the start of the game, no points will be awarded if they are killed by their captors or in a rescue attempt. Points will be awarded only if such a nominated person dies from another unrelated cause.

7. Each nomination list may have at most 10 names.

8. Any attempts to influence the result via homicidal acts (direct or indirect) will result in immediate disqualification.

-----------------------------------------------------------

Scoring

1. The score awarded for a correctly predicted death will be equal to 100 minus Age at Date of Death.

2. A person's "age" will be defined as their Age Last Birthday. This figure is incremented at the instant of 12am on the date of the person's birthday. This means that if a person dies on their birthday, their age is taken as the age they had just become that day.

3. If a person is over the age of 100 at their date of death, the score will be zero.

4. In the event of dispute about a person's precise age, the issue will be investigated by the moderator (me) and a decision made based on the best available evidence. The moderator's decision is final and no correspondence will be entered in to.

-----------------------------------------------------------

And that’s it for 2009!

final_liz Congratulations Ty!

Your morbid prescience has won you two Village Gold Class tickets and all the internets you can eat.

So, what’s next?

The observant among you may have noticed that it’s now 2010.

You also may be asking yourselves whether we’ll be running another dead pool competition for 2010.

And the answer is yes. Yes we will.

Details very soon.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Just Time For A Quick Last Minute Score Check

With the rest of our celebrities resiliently holding out, we’re heading into the home straight with a neck-and-neck race.

Ty 64
Benn 64
Eliza 50
Rob 50
Russell 50
Debbie 6

 

And with about 24 hours to go until the end of 2009 everywhere in the world, we’re staring down the barrel of a tied game.

Quickly recapping, you may recall that Ty’s very impressive score of 64 came from tipping the tragic deaths of Michael Jackson (aged 50) and the great Charles ‘Bud’ Tingwell (aged 86).

Benn’s equally impressive score of 64 came from tipping Michael Jackson and the equally great Bea Arthur (also aged 86).

However …

Ms Arthur was just a few days shy of her 87th birthday when she passed away at the age of 86 and 346 days, while Mr Tingwell was a sprightly 86 and 131 days.

Based upon Mr Tingwell’s relative youth and my somewhat arbitrary reasoning, we will (in the event of no further scoring in the next 24 hours) be declaring Ty the winner.

Stay tuned!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Who would? Edward Woodward would.

Very late on this one, and quite frankly … Mr. Woodward deserves better.

Yes, the great Edward Woodward has died at the age of 79.

Edward Woodward Rising to prominence as the iconic Callan and cementing his position as Breaker Morant and The Equalizer, Woodward was a class act all the way.

Woodward went all out to make television the respectable dramatic medium it now is (back when most movie actors wouldn’t deign to appear on the box) and brought his intense trademark gravity into every role he played.

And let’s never forget the old joke:

Why does Edward Woodward have so many ‘D’s in his name?

Because if he didn’t, he’d be Ewar Woowar.

And we couldn’t have that. Edward Woodward, rest in peace.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Legendary Don Lane

Don Lane, the lanky American who dominated Australian TV in the 1970s and 80s has died at the age of 75.

Don LaneAs host of the long-running Don Lane Show, Don brought a little bit of American-style variety to Australian television screens.

Lane also brought a fair share of controversy, getting arrested for marijuana possession in 1968 and getting kicked out of the 1982 Logie Awards for throwing a punch at Ernie Sigley.

But who can honestly say they’ve never wanted to do that?

And here’s that infamous footage of Lane cracking it with the AmazingTM James Randi when he dared to suggest that Doris Stokes and Uri Geller may not actually possess all those amazing paranormal powers they claim.

Despite (or maybe because of) all this Lane managed to win numerous Logies (including the 1977 Gold) back when the award actually meant something.

He was one of a kind, a genuine legend and has well and truly earned his place in Australian television history.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Rodger Doxsey R.I.P

Astronomer Rodger Doxsey, former head of mission operations at the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, has died at the age of 62.

Rodger Doxsey

Doxsey was best known for his work on the Hubble Space Telescope, that amazing piece of technology which has given us extraordinary images like this:

Hubble 1Doxsey was instrumental in keeping the Hubble Space Telescope running from its very earliest days. His work has allowed us to take pictures of our universe with a resolution and depth never seen before.

Hubble 2

Doxsey was also a scientist in the classical mode. He combined a visionary sense of big-picture science with a minute knowledge of the mechanics that made it work.

Rest in peace, Rodger. Your legacy will live on.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Basava Premanand

I'm a little late reporting this one. Legendary Indian rationalist and skeptic Basava Premanand has passed away at the age of 78.

Basava PremanandUsing his skills as an amateur magician, Premanand made a career out of exposing the charlatans and "God men" who plagued the Indian culture.

In the face of death threats he showed their supposed miracles were simple sleight-of-hand tricks, and by founding the Indian CSICOP movement and publishing the Indian Sceptic magazine brought skepticism into a country that desperately needed it.

Such was Premanand's notoriety that he feared rumours of a deathbed conversion might abound after his death. As a result, he took steps to prevent such a thing by writing this statement:

I, B. Premanand s/o late Sri Basava Prabhu, 80 years of age resident Chettipalayam Road, Podanur, sound of mind though suffering from physical complications caused by metastases in many organs caused by carcinoma of the stomach herein solemnly wish to place on record the following:

1. I have been closely associated with the rationalist movement from 1975 onwards and have been a rationalist of full conviction since then and continue to be so.

2. It is common for the purveyors of superstitions and such anti rational forces to start spreading rumors about rationalists turning to god and other supernatural forces at the end of their lives and becoming devotees of gods and god men of various types.

3. It is also claimed that at times of crises that we staunch rationalists through the major part of our lives, turn to spiritualism and religion.

4. I wish to clarify that as on today the twentieth of September 2009 I remain a staunch rationalist and wish to place on record the following:

a. I continue to be a rationalist of full conviction.

b. I do not believe in any supernatural power. All the powers that we encounter are in the realm of nature and nothing exists beyond that.

c. I do not believe in the existence of the soul or rebirth.

d. I have not turned to any religion, god or any sort of spiritual pursuits.

e. When I pass away I shall be leaving only my body which is to be donated to a medical college and no spirit or soul to cause problems for the living.

I want to convey to all that the struggle against the exploitation by god men and so called supernatural forces is a long and hard one but the ultimate victory will be ours.

My very survival has been a challenge to astrologers and their so called “science” of astrology, as they had all predicted that I would die soon after birth and refused to cast a horoscope for me.

I wish to convey to my colleagues of the rationalist movement to continue the work that I have been doing with renewed vigor and that will be the best of tributes for me.

Abhirami Hospital
Podanur (B. Premanand)
Witnessed by: Dr. Maya Prabhu and Suneera

Basava Premanand, we salute you.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stephen Gately

Irish pop singer Stephen Gately has died at the age of 33.

Stephen Gately

As well as being greatly respected as a performer, Gately was considered a hero of gay rights. Unlike many closeted colleagues, he managed to be both a boy band star and openly gay.

And in typical UK tabloid fashion, this has apparently earned Gately the right to have the sordid elements of his story splashed far and wide.

However, his sad passing appears to be a tragically simple case of a tragically avoidable death.