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Don LaFontaine: 1940-2008

Don LaFontaine, the undisputed “King of the Movies” who lent his distinct and dynamic voice to thousands of film trailers over the past five decades, died yesterday allegedly due to complications from a blood clot in one of his lungs. He was 68. More info here.

I remember the first time I saw the GEICO commercial Don did a few years back. I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Who knew that epic, monolithic voice came out of a real guy? I always figured it was the product of some kind of Hollywood super computer.

Now, in a world where people literally die, one man will no longer be able to capitalize on his fame as America’s number one movie announcing guy of all-time. This is a bigger shame than Sarah Palin’s daughter (OMFG, I went there!).

Through the magic of YouTube, let’s look back at some of Don LaFontaine’s greatest movie trailer performances:

EDIT: I was going to comment on each of these videos, but I think Don’s awesome work speaks for itself. Any man who can make Captain America sound exciting is a true champion.

Rest in peace, Donny boy.

P.S. – no one had Don LaFontaine in the death pool.

Steak & Ale: 1966-2008

Steak & Ale, the enduring American restaurant chain that offered diners the chance to eat mediocre prime rib in a building with slightly better lighting than Hitler’s bunker, died Tuesday after a long illness. It was 42 years old.

Metromedia, Steak & Ale’s parent company, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy this week and immediately shut down all fifty-eight chophouse locations. At one time, there were nearly 300 Steak & Ale restaurants in this great land of ours. That was back in the eighties. Then T.G.I.Friday’s and Ruby Tuesday came along and people realized they liked to see what they were eating. Thus, they abandoned Steak & Ale, leaving the restaurants to wither away and die like so many neglected house plants.

I wish I could say I the last time I entered a Steak & Ale was before the brutal onslaught of puberty, but that would be a vicious, hurtful lie. There was an S&A across the street from the book publisher I worked for in 2006. I ate their once with a co-worker (his suggestion, not mine). It was alright. I think to truly enjoy it, you have to imagine a world without electricity, sunlight, happiness, optimism, and good feelings in general. Not too hard when you’re sitting around a dining area that could double as a medieval torture chamber.

Bennigan’s was also affected by Metromedia’s Chapter 7 filing; 200 of the Irish-themed eateries bit the dust Tuesday, much to the dismay of casual drunks and college students across the country. I guess deep fried corn beef sandwiches just aren’t what they used to be.

No one had Steak & Ale in the death pool.

George Carlin: 1937-2008

George Carlin, the hippie comedian best known for saying a bunch of swear words, died yesterday at the painful age of 71. Motherfucking heart failure was the cock-sucking shitty fucking piss cunt culprit.

Tits.

The only time I ever remember being entertained by George Carlin was when he had that dippy show on FOX in the early nineties (you know, the one where he talked to the dog). Otherwise, I could take or leave his stoner-friendly brand of intellectual comedy.

LeMar M. had George in the Death Pool, which gives him 29 points and the lead. Recapping those scores:

LeMar M: 29
Nathan C: 16
Everybody Else: 0

In related news, Van Johnson continues to live despite mounting evidence he should have died years ago.

Just kidding, Van. You know we love you!

Death Pool Update

The following people, none of whom anyone had in JG2’s 2008 Death Pool-O-Rama Sponsored By Bud Light & E-Trade, died recently:

Danny Federici (b. 1950), the organ/glockenspiel/accordion player for the E Street Band. I didn’t even know the E Street band had a glockenspiel or an accordion. Shows you how closely I’ve been following Bruce Springsteen and his musical exploits. Melanoma felled Danny’s glocken-ass on April 17th.

Al Wilson (b. 1939), the soul singer most famous for “Show and Tell.” Kidney failure dropped Al and his showin’/tellin’ abilities like a bad habit on April 21st.

Paul Davis (b. 1948), another singer. He sang some ballad from the seventies called “I Go Crazy.” I never heard it. Maybe it’s the most kick-ass song ever recorded. Maybe it sucks burnt toast. I really couldn’t tell you. A heart attack, heart attack, man, literally stopped Paul dead in his bearded tracks on April 22nd.

Albert Hofmann (b. 1906), the Swiss chemist who invented LSD. Dude, the colors! Hofmann was 102 years old, which actually would have subtracted points from any player’s score and started most of us out in Negative Land. Once again, a heart attack was to blame, brought Albert’s long, strange trip to an end on April 29th.

Beverlee McKinsey (b. 1940), a soap opera actress. “Guiding Light,” “Another World,” all that jazz. Kidney transplant complications ended Bev’s run on May 2nd.

Irv Robbins (b. 1917), the co-founder of Baskin Robbins ice cream chain. I think he died of shock following the success of “Thirty-One Cent Scoop Night” on April 30th. Alas, his family claims a “long illness” was to blame for Irv’s May 5th death. Liars.

Who will be next? Stay tuned and watch out! Nathan C. can’t hold onto his sixteen point lead forever!

Sharky, The Most Popular Dead Dolphin On The Internet

Get ready for a bombshell: JG2Land normally doesn’t get a whole lot of visitors.

According to the WordPress Statistics Machine, on any given day somewhere between six and eighteen people surf on in to see what I’m up to. That’s no big deal. To paraphrase the guy in that old wine commercial, I’m only doing this blog to please one person: me. I am my own biggest fan. If I don’t stop hanging around my own house waiting to catch a glimpse of me, I’m going to have to call the cops on myself.

You can imagine my surprise when I logged in yesterday after the Sharky the Dolphin obituary went up and saw that upwards of ninety people had stopped by JG2Land. The aforementioned WordPress Statistics Machine (hereby referred to as the WSM) confirmed that the majority of these visitors were searching for any news they could get regarding Sharky’s untimely death. Talk about one popular dolphin. Sharky makes Flipper look like a completely obscure asshole!

So far today, the WSM shows 117 people have strode through the virtual gates of my literary amusement park, most of them still on the hunt for Sharky facts, figures, and funeral plans. That’s really something.

I have to question the WSM, though, as I tried Googling “Sharky the Dolphin” myself and the original JG2Land Sharky entry did not come up on the first six pages of search results. Are all these visitors using Dogpile or some other outmoded search engine? I demand a more specific breakdown of who these people are, where they come from, and what the deal is with airplane peanuts.

One Sharky enthusiast named Sally was nice enough to leave a comment informing me that Sharky was a girl. Thanks, Sally, but Shamu’s the one you should be telling. He / She / It’s under the impression Sharky was all man. Oh, and I deleted your comment because you left it in the “About Me” section. That space is reserved solely for comments about how awesome I am.

I guess it’s safe to assume all famous animals are actually female. Lassie, Spuds MacKenzie, Garfield, the Ultimate Warrior, Star Jones – they’re all womenfolk. Show me a famous critter with a wang and I’ll have you arrested for peddling varmint porn.

I’d like to thank the Sharky Nation for stopping by. Unfortunately, I can offer nothing more than my condolences and a few corny jokes. Hopefully your pal Sharky is enjoying his new home in the clouds with Albert Einstein and Jonathan Brandis. Peace be with you, dolphin.

Sharky the Dolphin: 1978-2008

Sharky, a thirty year old dolphin best known for entertaining hordes of tourists at Sea World Orlando, died Saturday after colliding with another dolphin during an aerial stunt. Sea World spokeswoman Becca Bides was quoted as saying, “This is an unfortunate, random incident.”

Tyler, the other dolphin involved in this tragic accident, was visibly shaken upon learning the news of his partner’s death. He canceled the rest of his performances for Saturday and retreated to his dressing room, where loud rock music could be heard just barely covering up uncontrollable dolphin sobs.

Shamu, Sea World’s star killer whale, remarked to reporters this morning, “You know, I may be like the fifteenth Shamu, but this is just fucked up. You never want anyone to die here. Well, except maybe that new guy they’ve got playing Sir Winston Walrus. That guy’s a straight-up prick. Anyway, Sharky was my boy. I’ll miss him.”

No one had Sharky in the death pool. Scores remain unchanged.

P.S. – To sum up the lengthy rant I originally posted here, just how “random” is it that two dolphins at Sea World accidentally collided? The tanks they perform in aren’t very big, and they swim and jump around in them all damn day. It seems like inadvertent dolphin collisions should happen a lot more often. Kudos to all the dolphins at Sea World who manage not to slam into each other.

P.P.S. – It just dawned on me that this deceased dolphin’s name was Sharky. That’s like having a cat named Puppy.

Kenneth Keith Kallenbach: 1967-2008

Kenneth Keith Kallenbach, the long-haired weirdo “comedian” best known for being a member of Howard Stern’s Wack Pack, has died after a bout with pneumonia. He was 39.

Kallenbach contracted his deadly ailment while in custody on an attempted child abduction charge in Pennsylvania. His mother, Fay, is blaming Delaware County jail officials for not properly taking care of her son, who suffered from cystic fibrosis. Prison officials have responded by saying they’re “shocked” by Fay Kallenbach’s accusations, claiming she had previously thanked them for the care they were providing for Kenneth.

Kenneth Keith, whose signature bit was attempting to blow cigarette smoke out of his eyeballs, never achieved the fame and prestige other Stern Wack Packers saw. That’s most likely due to the fact he was a fairly normal dude. He wasn’t an alcoholic dwarf or an alcoholic giant or an alcoholic clown; Ken was just a regular, run-of-the-mill loser who thought he had some great talent.

Unfortunately, I don’t think we ever actually saw smoke come out of his eye sockets. We most assuredly did see him vomit during one failed attempt, though.

You know, I have a roommate named Ken, and lately I have been referring to him as Kenneth Keith Kallenbach (and I’m pretty sure he has no idea what I’m talking about). That’s a little weird. Do you think if I start calling someone else I live with Angry Black, Angry Black will die? I hope not. That’s a power and responsibility I don’t want to have.

Oh, I almost forgot: no one had Kenneth Keith in the death pool. The score remains unchanged.

Ollie Johnston: 1912-2008

Ollie Johnston, the last surviving member of Walt Disney’s famous “Nine Old Men” animation crew, died yesterday at the impossible age of 95. He worked on Snow White, Peter Pan, Cinderella, all that yazz. Nobody had Ollie in the death pool; thus, the scores remain unchanged (Nathan C, 16; everyone else, zip).

I have such mixed feelings about Disney. On the one hand, it’s a hollow corporate empire built upon borrowed ideas that was founded by a noted anti-Semite. On the other hand, kids need crap to get excited about, too. Nothing’s perfect, I suppose. Whaddya gonna do? If it’ll keep those little yard monsters off my lawn for half an hour, more power to it.

Just do me one solid, Disney: promise you won’t keep suppressing the Muppets. I need some Fozzie up in this biznatch stat. Wocka wocka an’ stuff.

Stanley Kamel: 1943-2008

Stanley Kamel, the seasoned actor best known for playing the psychiatrist on “Monk” but who is more familiar to me as the Las Vegas con man from Corvette Summer, died a couple of days ago at the senseless age of 65. The culprit? Straight up heart attack. No one had Stan in the death pool, so scores remain unchanged.

Kamel’s resume is kind of Troy McClure-ish. While he had a number of high profile gigs over the years (“Beverly Hills, 90210,” “L.A. Law”), there’s plenty of stuff on there that doesn’t sound even remotely real. I’m talking about such fare as:

Owen Marshall: Counselor at Law
Goodnight, Beantown
Captain America II: Death Too Soon
Ray Alexander: A Taste For Justice
Like Father, Like Santa

I would also like to point out that Stan made appearances on nearly every detective/cop show of the seventies and eighties, including but not limited to:

“McMillan & Wife”
“Hardcastle and McCormick”
“Scarecrow and Mrs. King”
“Cagney & Lacey”
“Mancuso, FBI”
“Father Dowling Mysteries”
“The Mod Squad”
“Barney Miller”
“Columbo”
“Matlock”
“Murder, She Wrote”
“The Fall Guy”
“Hill Street Blues”
“Knight Rider”
“Charlie’s Angels”
“Quincy”
“Kojak”

Stan even a stint on a two part “Hunter” episode entitled “Naked Justice.” Clearly, Kamel was king (of the prime time sleuth drama).

Oh, and p.s. – I will fight anyone who tries to tell me “Knight Rider” was not a detective show. Michael Knight was all over crime like white on rice!

Charlton Heston: 1923-2008

Charlton Heston, the gun-toting fake ape provoker who famously mispronounced Paul Westerberg’s name on a 1993 episode of “Saturday Night Live,” has died at the tender age of 84. No details were given regarding the exact cause of death, which usually means it was some kind of kinky sex thing. Heston, you dog. Sticks and stones may break your bones but whips and chains excite you! I know what they’re prying out of your cold, dead hands right now—a cattle prod!

Nathan C. was the only person who had our pal Chuck in the death pool, so he’s officially winning at the moment with a big sixteen points. Congrats, Nathan, but don’t get too comfy. The passing of Van Johnson is imminent. I can feel it my bones. I can taste in the air. I can see it on the face of every child I pass. After that, my picks will begin to fall like dominoes. It’s the will of the Gods. You won’t be on top for long, Nate.

Does anyone else remember the time Ice T said the reason he had to take “Cop Killer” off that Body Count album was because Charlton Heston came out against it and, since he played Moses in a movie once, most people in this country believed he actually was Moses? That was quite possibly the greatest soundbyte I ever heard on VH-1.