While assembling last week's "awesome cool uncle" +5, my crackerjack Hey Jenny Slater consulting team and I ran into a recurring problem: not being entirely sure whether the people we were talking about were dead or not. And that's particularly humbling for me, because "Is So-and-So still alive?" is a pretty basic question, one you should be able to answer pretty quickly (and, preferably, with a minimum of Googling) if you fancy yourself a true repository of quasi-useful pop-culture information, as I do. But I'm not perfect; I put my pants on one leg at a time (except on the days when I don't wear any, which are becoming more and more frequent) and I occasionally have to sneak over to Wikipedia to find out if someone still has a pulse, just like the rest of you do. And on that note, this week's +5 is Five People I Had To Look Up To Find Out Whether They Were Dead Or Not.
Did you know Elliott, in addition to being "The Stranger," is the voice of Smokey the Bear? For those reasons and many others, I'm glad Elliott is still alive; honestly I don't know exactly why I thought he might not be, I guess I just thought anyone who'd done as many westerns as he had was automatically at risk for lung cancer or cirrhosis or any number of horrible hard-livin'-type diseases.
Now here's a guy who had to worry about cirrhosis. (Died of congestive heart failure, actually, but whatever.) I should've been keeping up better with ol' Boris; by the time he took the reins of the Kremlin, Russia had long since gotten over its habit of propping up its chief executives and saying "Oh, no, Comrade X just has a bit of the flu" well after said leader had well and truly kicked the bucket. By contrast, Yeltsin's successor, Vladimir Putin, will never, ever die, ever (unless stabbed in the heart with a crucifix or exposed to direct sunlight).
Status: dead since 2007
Confession time: I had a huge crush on Candice Bergen back in the early "Murphy Brown" years. C'mon, she was hot, and a major ass-kicker to boot; maybe would've even been a candidate for "cougar" status, had such a term existed during the George H.W. Bush years. In the show's final season, there was a long story arc about Murphy Brown being diagnosed with breast cancer, which I suppose is why I had been worried about Bergen's continued well-being, but she's still alive, kicking, and working. (Trivia: Did you know she was the first female host of "Saturday Night Live"?)
Yeah, I know, he only died a little over a year ago, so I should've been way more on top of this. I guess the problem is I'm always getting his name mixed up with Rod Steiger, so I was -- what? Rod Steiger's dead too? Been dead since 2002? Well, fuck.
Status: dead since 2008
Yeah, yeah, I know what you're all going to say: "Jesus, Doug, of course Wilford Brimley's still alive. He's still doing those diabeetus ads all over TV." Well, Billy Mays has been in the ground for more than a month now but I'm still seeing him in commercials for both the Awesome Auger and the Fix It! Pro Pen. And don't even get me started on all those albums Tupac released after he got killed. Actually, if they continued to use Brimley's voice even after his death, that'd be a pretty forceful marketing strategy right there. You hear the beyond-the-grave voice of Wilford Brimley ordering you to eat your Quaker Oats, you eat some fucking oats, my friend.
And now the Ten:
1. U2, "City of Blinding Lights"
2. Underworld, "Boy, Boy, Boy"
3. Orbital, "Chime" (new version)
4. Siouxsie and the Banshees, "Kiss Them for Me"
5. Wu-Tang Clan, "Bring Da Ruckus"
6. Jefferson Airplane, "Volunteers"
7. Tomoyasu Hotei, "Battle Without Honor or Humanity"
8. Röyksopp, "Go Away"
9. Pet Shop Boys, "Footsteps"
10. The Jazz Jury, "Wake Up"
Now you put your own Random Tens, along with your lists of people about whose alive-ness you may recently have been dubious, in the comments.