Sunday Reads: A Morbidity Play for the Masses

belle4Good Morning

Oh, isn’t it spectacular that my internet is working? In fact, it has been functioning long enough for me to work on uploading some photos for a thread I have been planning since Robin Williams committed suicide.

The title and that first paragraph should give you all a hint, this post will center on suicide…not entirely, but as you read through it you will see photographs of classic movie stars who committed suicide. Click on the picture to open a link to their Wikipedia biography page for more information on their life..and death. Some are truly fascinating and terrible sad to read about.

Take Alan Ladd for instance, Where Danger Lives: Just Shy of Respect: The Hollywood Life and Death of Alan Ladd

Most people believe Alan Ladd committed suicide, but the details surrounding his death are so convoluted no one can be sure what really happened. History is often guilty of erring on the side of sensationalism — but in Ladd’s case suicide is the logical assumption.

Alan Ladd, Blue Dahlia

Alan Ladd and Veronica Lake, Blue Dahlia

In 1962 he was found lying half-dead in a pool of blood with a bullet lodged in his chest. The newspapers bought into the story of an accident, but everyone who knew him believed it was a botched suicide attempt. It really doesn’t matter whether his January 1964 death was intentional or not; Ladd’s life had been in a downward spiral for years — some could say from the moment he broke into the movie business — and it was apparent that he was hell-bent on digging an early grave.

This is a very good article so be sure to read the whole thing…but for now I will skip to the end of Ladd.

On January 29, 1964, eight weeks prior to the release of The Carpetbaggers, Ladd’s butler discovered his body in his Palm Springs bedroom. Having mixed liquor and sleeping pills one time too many, his body finally failed. It’s easy to believe he killed himself, but whether he chose to end his life that night or not, the more important truth is that some people are simply not blessed with happiness, despite fame and fortune, and try as they might their pain is such that it eventually overwhelms them. Nobody in Hollywood was surprised to learn that Alan Ladd was dead.

Everett Sloane

Everett Sloane

You can read many more names of actors and actresses who took their lives here:

Category:  Male actors who committed suicide – Wikipedia

Category:  Actresses who committed suicide – Wikipedia

First up, a new study on suicide.

WHO report maps global suicide problem for the first time

One person takes their own life every 40 seconds, equating to 803,900 deaths across the world every year, according to the first World Health Organization report on suicide prevention released today. “Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative” calls for co-ordinated action to reduce suicide worldwide.

Charles Boyer

Charles Boyer

Diego De Leo, director of the Australian Institute for Suicide Research and Prevention at Griffith University, who was involved in the preparation of the report, said there had not been any previous reports because suicide was an example of negative behaviour rather than a disease, so it did not fall within the jurisdiction of an international entity.

“But this is a fundamental step before we can begin on worldwide suicide prevention,” he said.

It is good that a base report of this magnitude has finally been done, read the rest of this story at the link because it has a lot of information and graphs…it is just too much to quote.

paul hurst

paul hurst

Alright now, back to things less depressing. How about a couple of links on classic film, be sure to check out Fridays on TCM: Friday Night Spotlight – Classic Pre-Code

Pre-Code Hollywood is generally considered to be the era in the American film industry between the introduction of sound in the late 1920s and the strict enforcement of the Motion Picture Production Code beginning in the mid-1930s. Films of this period included unflinching portrayals of such subject matter as sexuality, prostitution, illegal drug use, abortion and extreme violence. Without the interference of censors, law-breakers in the movies were often allowed to profit from their schemes, and fallen women became the heroines of many films. Gangster films were popular, and their protagonists were viewed with some sympathy despite their law-breaking ways.

paul-hurst-411295lIn a continuation of its popular “Friday Night Spotlight” franchise, TCM shines a light on this free-wheeling cinematic period, presenting a weekly 24-hour festival of pre-Code movies. Each Friday in September, Alec Baldwin and TCM host Robert Osborne will introduce the films airing in primetime. The collection, which includes a total of 67 movies, covers a wide range of genres and represents the output of all the major Hollywood studios of the era.

Some very good flicks are coming up in the next few weeks. Don’t miss them.

A few you should see are discussed in this blog post from Movie Morelocks: moviemorlocks.com – Navigating the Moral Waters of the Crime Film

Ever rooted for the bad guy?  Of course you have, we all have.  Many times the bad guy is more interesting, more exciting, and much more charismatic.  To take two obvious examples, Batman is brooding and Superman is upstanding but neither is terribly interesting while their nemeses, the Joker and

Elizabeth Hartman

Elizabeth Hartman

Lex Luthor, are a hoot and despite their clearly psychotic natures,  fun to watch.   The movies picked up on this long before comic books even came into existence and once the sound era began, making criminals the star of the show became even more apparent.  In the course of a little over a year, moviegoers were treated to Little Caesar, Public Enemy, and Scarface, all putting the bad guys front and center as the stars of the movie.  And all tried their damnedest to convince moviegoers that while they were the stars, their actions were wrong.  As time went on, and the production code waned, the movies could be a little more honest about why they were making crime movies:  Because they’re exciting and fun even if we know they present a romanticized view calibrated precisely for our enjoyment.

Barbara Bates

Barbara Bates

If we weren’t enjoying those wiseguys and goodfellas, maybe we were taking note of the puppies? How the films you’ve seen influence your choice of dog

Did watching 101 Dalmatians instill you with a burning desire to fill your home with dozens of monochrome puppies? A new study suggests that may often be the case. The research suggests that all those great canine characters in films have been a prominent influence on the popularity of a breed among dog owners.

The impact of 29 films released in the United States was examined, each featuring a different dog breed. Classics such as The Wizard of Oz (1939), Lady and the Tramp (1955), The Fox and the Hound (1981) and Beethoven (1992) were all judged to have influenced people’s choice of dogs. The study traces the popularity of the featured breeds for up to ten years after the film’s release.

Ona Munson (1939)

Ona Munson (1939)

The authors used the records of the American Kennel Club, which has been recording the numbers of registration for each dog breed since 1927, and keeps the largest such dog registry in the world. Looking at the effect of films released between 1927 and 2005, the study shows that the number of registrations of a particular breed rose significantly following the release of a film in which the breed had been featured.

[…]

The films analysed covered quite a spread of breeds. Other factors you might assume come into play when choosing a dog, such as temperament or health, seemed not to affect the scale of these trends. Alberto Acerbi, one of the authors of the study and Newton Research Fellow in the Department of Archaeology and Anthropology at the University of Bristol, said: “It seems to be pure fashion.”

Luigi Pistilli

Luigi Pistilli

A connection between the number of film views in the first weekend after its release and the rise in the popularity of the dog breed featured was observed. The study shows that earlier films generally created more widespread trends than the more recent films. The authors conjecture that this could be linked to the rise of home video, as well as the increase in the number of films released featuring dogs each year.

More at the link, including a big infographic.

Ah, enough of movies, how about life in the real world?

ca. 1960s --- Actress Capucine --- Image by © John Springer

ca. 1960s — Actress Capucine — Image by © John Springer

Over in Europe, the Premier League stars to wear rainbow laces in anti-homophobia campaign

More than 100,000 pairs of coloured laces distributed as part of Stonewall campaign to raise awareness of discrimination

The QPR midfielder Joey Barton, Arsenal captain Mikel Arteta, and the newly capped England midfielder Fabian Delph will join other Premier League players in wearing laces in the rainbow colours of the gay pride flag this weekend in a bid to stamp out homophobia in football.

Celebrities and former professionals, including former England striker Michael Owen, and the ex-Germany and Aston Villa midfielder Thomas Hitzlsperger – who announced he was gay after retiring from playing last year – will also wear rainbow laces for the anti-discrimination campaign by the pressure group Stonewall.

[…]

James Taylor from Stonewall said: “This weekend football players and clubs up and down the country are lacing up to show their support for kicking homophobia out of football.

David Rappaport

David Rappaport

“We’re delighted to have the support of Arsenal, Manchester City, the backing of the Premier League, the FA and many others this weekend to help raise awareness of homophobia in football and the need to tackle it.”

Good for them!

The post is getting long and it is getting way to late (3:15am) for me. So the rest of today’s links will be in dump format.

Jean Seberg

Jean Seberg

This is one story I think is getting lost in the shuffle: Despite Obama’s Pledge to Curb It, NSA Mass Surveillance Wins Rubber Stamp – NationalJournal.com

A further look at the horrible sex abuse in Rotherham, England:  ECHIDNE OF THE SNAKES: The Rotherham Report On Child Sexual Exploitation. My Analysis.

Jay Fox at Salon asks: Can corporations go to hell? An existential quandary for the Supreme Court – Salon.com

Last week, Jaws actor from Bond films Richard Kiel dies at 74 – Latest News – JamaicaObserver.com

In this October, 2007 file photo, actor Roger Moore (right) who played the part of James Bond 007 in seven films, poses with actor Richard Kiel who played the role of Jaws in ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ during a ceremony honouring Moore with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles. (Photo:AP)

FRESNO, California (AP) — Richard Kiel, the towering actor best known for portraying steel-toothed villain Jaws in a pair of James Bond films, has died. He was 74.

Herve Villechaize

Herve Villechaize

Kelley Sanchez, director of communications at Saint Agnes Medical Centre, confirmed Wednesday that Kiel was a patient at the hospital and died. Kiel’s agent, Steven Stevens, also confirmed his death. Both declined to provide further details.

The 7-foot-2-inch performer famously played the cable-chomping henchman who tussled with Roger Moore’s Bond in 1977’s ‘The Spy Who Loved Me’ and 1979’s ‘Moonraker’. Bond quipped of the silent baddie: “His name’s Jaws. He kills people.”

When we were kids my brother used to call “Jaws” … “Teeth”… and would laugh at my braces and say that I looked like him.

Most birds can’t taste sugar – here’s why the hummingbird can

Chickens are not fussy eaters. Any object resembling food is worth an exploratory peck. But give a chicken the choice between sugary sweets and seeds, and they will pick the grains every time. This is odd. Many animals, including our own sugar-mad species, salivate for sugar because it is the flavour of foods rich in energy. New research suggests

Clara Blandick (June 4, 1880 – April 15, 1962) was an American stage and screen actress, best known for her role as Aunt Em, the wife of Uncle Henry, in MGM's The Wizard of Oz.

Clara Blandick (June 4, 1880 – April 15, 1962) was an American stage and screen actress, best known for her role as Aunt Em, the wife of Uncle Henry, in MGM’s The Wizard of Oz.

that many birds’ lack of interest in sugar is down to genes inherited from their dinosaur ancestors.

Most vertebrates experience because they possess a family of genes called T1Rs. The pairing of T1R1 and T1R3 detects amino acids and gives rise to the savoury “umami” taste, and the T1R2-T1R3 pair detects sugars and gives us our sweet tooth.

Maude Baldwin, a postgraduate student at Harvard University, searched the genomes of ten species of birds from chickens to flycatchers. She found that insectivorous and grain-eating birds possess the gene pair that detects the amino acids present in insects and seeds, but none had the T1R2 gene responsible for the ability to taste sugar. These modern birds evolved from carnivorous theropod dinosaurs whose diets were rich in proteins and amino acids, but lacked sugar. So Baldwin reasoned that without a need to detect sweetness, ancient birds lost their T1R2 gene.

Bing Crosby lost two of his sons to suicide...Dennis and Lindsay. Photo from the television program I've Got a Secret. From left: Garry Moore, Lindsay Crosby, Betsy Palmer, Phillip Crosby, Dennis Crosby.

Bing Crosby lost two of his sons to suicide…Dennis and Lindsay. Photo from the television program I’ve Got a Secret. From left: Garry Moore, Lindsay Crosby, Betsy Palmer, Phillip Crosby, Dennis Crosby.

Hummingbirds appear to have bucked the trend. Every day they consume more than their own body weight in nectar. They can taste the difference between water and a sugar solution within a quarter of a second. And they also like the flavour of non-sugary artificial sweeteners like erythritol and sorbitol. How is this possible if they have no gene for sweet taste?

Go to the link to get the answer to the question. I don’t know about the sweet taste, but down in Florida there were these insects, nasty little fuckers (literally) called Love Bugs. They are black with red eyes and spend all their lives flying around  mating. The birds don’t eat them because, as my Nano used to say…they taste bad. I don’t remember frogs or lizards eating them either.

Another science link: A big chunk of the Sierra Nevada caught fracturing on video | Ars Technica

One more rocky story…New study reconstructs mega-earthquakes timeline in Indian Ocean

George Sanders

George Sanders

How about a spooky story, Are you brave enough to look into Timothy Clark Smiths grave with a window?

Or a kick ass medical science one: Baltimore girl with Type 1 diabetes tests bionic pancreas at camp – baltimoresun.com

Boston Boomer had a couple of links this week, one about swimming dinosaurs and the other about the culture of women in video game development. I will end this post with my own contribution to those same topics.

First, this big…and I am talking big, discovery: Newly discovered dinosaur, Dreadnoughtus, takes title of largest terrestrial animal – The Washington Post

Walter Slezak

Walter Slezak

Scientists have discovered the fossilized remains of a new long-necked, long-tailed dinosaur that has taken the crown for largest terrestrial animal with a body mass that can be accurately determined.

Measurements of bones from its hind leg and foreleg revealed that the animal was 65 tons, and still growing when it died in the Patagonian hills of Argentina about 77 million years ago.

“To put this in perspective, an African elephant is about five tons, T. rex is eight tons, Diplodocus is 18 tons, and a Boeing 737 is around 50 tons,” said study author and paleontologist Kenneth Lacovara at Drexel University. “And then you have Dreadnoughtus at 65 tons.”

Press-Size-ComparisonTons-1024x962

Dreadnoughtus, meaning “fears nothing,” is named after the impervious early 20th century battleships. Although it was a plant-eater, a healthy Dreadnoughtus likely had no real issues with predators due to its intimidating size and muscular, weaponized tail.

Damn, the ass on that thing is almost as big as mine!

Lupe Vélez and Gary Cooper in The Wolf Song (1929)

Lupe Vélez and Gary Cooper in The Wolf Song (1929)

As for the gaming women in a mans world, you are going to love this: Teens Invent ‘Tampon Run’ Game to De-Stigmatize Periods

“The taboo that surrounds [periods] teaches women that a normal and natural bodily function is embarrassing and crude.” That’s the message two teenagers want to send with their new video game, Tampon Run.

As seen on Fast Co. Exist, the video game invented by Andrea Gonzales and Sophie Houser grew out of their involvement with a Girls Who Code summer program. The gameplay is simple enough, according to the instructions:

“Hit all the enemies with your tampons. Don’t let them pass you. They’ll confiscate your tampons [like the Texas State Troopers during a reproductive rights demonstration]. Collect tampon boxes for more tampons. Don’t run out of tampons or it’s GAME OVER.”

But the message behind the game is a little more complex. The two young developers wanted to find a way to make having your period seem less humiliating and more normalized

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Check out more at the link and play the game here: TamponRun.com

That’s all folks…I will be gone all day, on a mall trip to Atlanta. Yay! So hopefully there will be no problems with the formatting on the post. Have a happy day, and post some thoughts in the comments below.

Here is a gallery of all the pictures, some of them I did not post in the thread above…just too many!


SkyD Late Evening Reads: Burn down the Hot Topic

Good evening…

Just a few quick links for you tonight. First you may have already seen this news: Keepers mourn a small death on a blue blanket as zoo ponders cause of cub’s death.  

This highlights the difficulties with keeping the Panda population going.  Cub’s Death Reveals How Little Is Understood About Pandas

The giant panda cub that died Sunday morning had uneven coloring and hardness in her liver, officials at the National Zooin Washington said Monday.

That information came from a preliminary necropsy, but it was not a conclusive cause of the sudden death of the 6-day-old female cub, who was heard grunting just 17 minutes before she was found lifeless, zoo officials said. Final results of a full necropsy will not be available for another two weeks.

The cub’s sudden death came as a dispiriting shock to the zoo, which has invested millions of dollars in efforts to propagate the beloved but endangered species, and it opened a window into the fraught world of captive breeding.

“Conservation is a life and death business,” said Pamela Baker-Masson, associate director of communications for the zoo. “This one was particularly devastating for us.”

Susie Madrak has some bad news: Suicides Now Leading Cause Of Injury-Related Deaths In U.S.

This doesn’t surprise me in the least. But we don’t talk about things like this, now that everyone’s been promoted to the middle class:

An extremely disturbing new study published in the American Journal of Public Health finds that suicides have replaced car accidents as the leading cause of injury-related death in the U.S. This is partly because deaths from automobile accidents are down — that’s the good news.

But the truly catastrophic news is that the suicide rate has increased dramatically: between 2000 and 2009, according to data from the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, deaths by suicide went up by 15%, and deaths from poisoning increased by a whopping 128%. Moreover, researchers say that many of the poisoning deaths, which are labeled as “accidental,” may actually be intentional. According to the study’s author, Professor Ian Rockett, an epidemiologist at West Virginia University, “Suicides are terribly undercounted; I think the problem is much worse than official data would lead us to believe.” He added “there may be 20 percent or more unrecognized suicides.”

Just last week someone I know lost the second of two friends to suicide. It is something that has been a lot over the last few years here in Banjoville. Two of the kids in my daughter’s class have lost parents to suicide…

After reading about this, the following picture showed up on my RSS feed: Suicide Rations: 1945 | Shorpy Historical Photo Archive

March 1945. “Tuskegee Airmen series. ‘Escape kits’ (cyanide) being distributed to fighter pilots at air base in Ramitelli, Italy.” Theodore G. Lumpkin Jr., seated, with (L-R): Joseph L. “Joe” Chineworth, Memphis, Class 44-E; Robert C. Robinson, Asheville, Class 44-G; Driskell B. Ponder, Chicago, 43-I; Robert W. Williams, Ottumwa, Iowa, 44-E. Gelatin silver print by Toni Frissell.

From suicide rations to zombie bees:  Zombie honeybees discovered in Washington state

A novice beekeeper in Washington state said this week that he’s found evidence that a parasite which takes control of honeybees much like an imagined “zombie” virus is spreading into new areas, according to The Seattle Times.

The so called zombie bees, or “zombees” for short, are created by a type of parasitic fly called Apocephalus borealis. It injects its eggs into a host, usually bumble bees, and the larvae eat the creature from the inside. Infected bees fly around erratically at night and eventually die.

Beekeeper Mark Hohn told the Times that he noticed piles of dead bees for several days in a row before it occurred to him that he might be witnessing the start of the actual “zombie apocalypse.”

I will end this thread with a quick clip that explains my title tonight…Burning Down Hot Topic – Video Clips – South Park Studios

Back when I was the dark brooding kid in black, smoking cloves in the halls of Jefferson High School, we had to get our outfits from the vintage shops and goodwill. Anyway, have a great evening! This is an open thread.