This portion of the O.B.E is dedicated to those of you who are among the living. During the course of the year, feel free to e-mail the O.B.E. with thoughts, opinions, and general fun stuff.

This page reads from the top down. Wanna go directly to the most recent postings? Just press this thingy

I've tried to limit the bulk of this year's list to A-listers, but if you think any of them (eg Christodoulos) is too obscure or whatever, just strike him ineligible, no worries. Your game rocks!

Hello & Happy New Year!

The 2007 standings show that I am in 3rd place.

Is this final? (Last year I was in first until a review was done & I wound up in 2nd)

Does 3rd place get paid for 2007?

I won some $$ in 2006 and had some taken out for 2007 prize money. I would like to do that again this year, otherwise I will send some.

We think they are final but the 10th is the last day we check. In a weird act of Karma this year your were NOT in third but we found out about a week ago that Sir Arthur Marshall died in March. We updated the stats at that point and voila you swiped third from someone else.

Looks like you should be landing a cool $30 for your Third Place.

If I may defend my picks in question:

Ron Springs was a NFL player (Cowboys not that long ago) with a son in the NFL today (Washington). He was on "America's Team" that played in the NFC championship game 3 years in a row (80 to 82). He was famous before his illness.

The illness/transplant simply made him made him more newsworthy in 2007. He is not famous because of the illness, only more relevant.

Let's say Ron Springs died of natural causes or in car accident in 2006. Would he have had an AP obit? I say yes. He is more newsworthy now, but not anymore famous. He is like any old actor you don't hear a lot about today until their health starts to fail.

As far as the Heesters pick - please tell the decision makers this:
The guy has MP3s that can be downloaded OR CD's that you can buy. He has videos on You-Tube. Sure anyone can have a video, but I don't have one that comes up when I search on my name.

He also has well over 250,000 google hits come up on him.

He has an ebay index about him:

When you factor all these items in, it's pretty obvious he's more than regional. I admit, I had not heard of him, but that music isn't my cup of tea.

We don't want to get into a protracted email discussion right now (as we're really busy trying to get entries keyed in). Take a look at the Wikipedia entry for Ron Springs. Note what it says under career highlights "No notable achievements."

The bulk of the initial Wiki write up is about, yup, his illness. Not every player in a pro sport is a celeb. We will continue to push this pool toward real celebrity each year until we achieve the goal of having REAL name recognition entries.

As for Heesters. We'll need to dig a bit deeper there. However, the very fact that you had never heard of the person you put on your list prior to looking them up should tell you something about how much of a celebrity that person really is.

Update is slow as shite. Who runs this god forsaken website? Loser.

I mean, uhm Happy New Year!!

Oh my goodness........such fussing. Guys, you really are taking things way too personally. I can't imagine that your devoted throngs would purposely submit names to upset you. But guys, you set out an extremely subjective set of rules. Strangers on the street???? Wow!! Where?? Age range?? It all makes a difference. And of course you can set out any rules that you like, it is your game, we will all still enjoy playing it even if our picks get cut. But you shouldn't let the fact that our subjective interpretations did not fit with yours. That's why it is subjective.

Go drink and wreak some havoc somewhere. You will feel better afterward. Happy New Year!!

Agreed to some extent. However, when you get picks such as the "Last Surviving Pearl Harbor Medal of Honor Winner" we think we can all agree its not a Celebrity Death Pool any longer. That's what sucks.

I agree completely. But I would hate to see this upset "our guys" to the point that you wouldn't want to keep doing it. If people don't follow the rules, cut their picks, but get some enjoyment out of it!! If they complain, tell them to pound sand and start their own freaking pool. Life is a cabaret guys (yeah, she is on my list).

I won't bug you anymore, I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy this!! Thanks for sharing your talent, it is more fun than I can describe.

You guys sure like to cry a lot. I'm sure you understand it's pretty pointless to pick a bunch of celebrities that have a high chance of NOT dying in any particular year. There are only so many old/sick "celebrities" to choose from. Guess what? Lists of Tom Brady and Paris Hilton aren't going to be very interesting.

Neither will lists with one pick on them. And that's where a few of these lists would be if we had our way this year. And that's how they will be next year. There are plenty of celebrity folks who can go on these lists. Also...

Aggh, nevermind.

Almost everything team exoendo zuzubar says is tounge in cheek, don't take it personally.... but what gives about the "also..?" Now we are curious. I don't know anyone that ends an email mid sentence, that's

Here's a suggestion. Instead of signing your emails 'The Guys', how about a real name, or even a clever death-related name. That way I know I'm dealing with the same person, or I can direct an email to the proper person. It seems multiple people are responding to me, and giving me different directions (e.g. where to send my list, where to send my donation).

1) We got the donation. We took care of the transfer. No troubles & Thank you!

2) All OBE emails originate from either our mailbot (Bravenet) or However, due to Matt and Steve being in different places, Matt also gets copied on the emails. I'll suggest to him by way of this email that he indicates the "The_Guys" address for all O.B.E. related activities. You are correct that it appeared you were getting email from all over the place.

3) As for using another name. No way. We've worked 10 years as The Guys at the O.B.E. You know how hard it is to establish good branding. Sheesh.

Thank you from those of us who play by the rules. Makes our scores not seem as brutal at the end. For me, it's not about the money, it's about the scoring, which is why I'm sick and why I like this game!

I was perusing the statistics page and noticed that Luise Ranier is listed twice, with two different spellings. Once with 11 selections and once with 1 selection. I thought you guys would want to investigate. Maybe you guys have been drinking a little too much beer. Nah!!!

By golly, we think we fixed it

hey guys....just as the title says, uh-oh i picked a non celebrity....just for the record cause i certainly didn't do anything as smart as make a copy of my lists picks...could you let me know which name was eliminated :O) puh-leeeze. no worries though - just racking my brain as to whom it might have been....was it an ailing politician nobody's heard of???? i do so wonder.

Timothy Johnson. He failed the fame search (coming up with a third or fourth hit Wiki entry. Then when reading the Wiki entry we see his REAL claim to "fame" is his illness and the fact that said illnes might result in a seat going to the opposing party.

We excluded Timothy based on 1) the Google Search criteria and 2) the "fame" contingent on illness exemption.

So-it-goes. We still love you.

indeed...that's what i get for only "skimming" the rules....tra la la la

Yo-Sam Choi, a Korean superfly weight boxer???? Okay, now I understand what a celebrity is...........NOT!!!!

Agreed 100%. And trust us, Yo-Sam types won't be counting next year. Problem is, he passed our crappy test this year.

I think this definition from the Wikitron pretty much sums up the whole celebrity thing.

“A celebrity is a widely-recognized or famous person who commands a high degree of public and media attention.”

I personally like the google approach. As much as I think that I live the life of a rock star, a google search of myself reveals 2 hits.

Kinda depressing…

Once we all realize the difference between celebrity and fame, the smoother things will be.

For right or wrong Albert Hoffman (discovered LSD and has 183,000 hits) may be famous but Amy Winehouse (probably one of his best customers with 1,390,000 hits) is a bonafide celebrity. Get it…HITS…LSD…Acid…. Ah whatta you know from funny…

Guys, keep up the great site. I will gladly bow down to whatever draconican measures you have to institute to keep “the Oldest __________” off of the lists.

YES! YES ! YES!!!!!!!!! Although we would likely count Albert Hoffman as counter culture celebrity, the essence of what you're saying is so on the money that we wish you could implant it into each of our player's heads.!

Why didn't you guys use the alternate if you were going to nuke someones pick as a non celebrity?

"knocking on heavens door" at least then i would still have 13. I won't argue your decession because after all it is your call but at least you could use the other name.

See the rules on when the alternate is (and is not) exercised. They only get exercised if a pick dies between submittal and the new year. "Nuking" entries is a function of the whole Celebrity issue and the new rules.

The rules say if someone dies in 2007 the alt will take its place. Arden died and I did not know it. wouldn;t my alt take his place?

Please read the second paragraph below (from the rules). The reason your alternate doesn't get exercised is that you submitted you lists AFTER Don Arden died.

Section 7.0 - The Alternate

Each list submitted is comprised of 13 living celebrities and one Alternate living celebrity. The Alternate is used to replace one (and only one) celebrity on a Death Watcher's list in the unlikely event that one of a Death Watcher's picks for 2008 kicks off before the stroke of midnight on January 1, 2008. In this case, the Alternate will be used to replace the celebrity pushing up daises (remember Sarah Knauss). Note that an Alternate can be used once. So, if more than one celebrity on a list doesn't make it to that 2007 finish line, tough luck for the Death Watcher who listed the dead picks. Their list will simply be a bit shorter than the rest of the Death Watcher's lists. The Guys know this kinda stinks for the Death Watcher who loses some picks, but imagine how the folks who keeled over feel.

Understand that the Alternate is only used if the death occurs AFTER the list is postmarked (for mailed or e-mailed lists) or received by one of The Guys at the O.B.E. (for hand delivered lists). Should a list contain picks that were already dead when the list was prepared, those picks will be removed from the list and the Death Watcher submitting that list will participate one or more pick(s) short.

When I try mailing it to the other Guy, my e-mail doesn't seem to like it. I hope all is well. I hope all of my entries meet your high standards. I looked at what passed muster and now realize that I was intimidated by your hectoring & could have been a tad more creative with my picks. Oh well, live & learn...

Sir Anthony Mamo? Harry Landis? Really? You don't say...

Come on now. With all the emails you sent us over the years you can't remember our email address:

No sweat. We'll take care of it (and have to recalculate all the statistics to boot - beer please).

OK, OK --- point taken. When my contribution arrives, please make the necessary deduction for a pint, or two.

Nah, we'll buy the pints ourselves and save your money to give to some lucky player this year.

Composer Elliott Carter is definitely not dead:

I wouldn't recommend tightening the rules for "celebrity" any further; if you do, the game just won't be fun to play.

Let me elaborate a bit further. The notion (if this would be the notion) that, say, Elliott Carter, one of the most celebrated classical composers of the 20th century, is less of a "celebrity" than, say, Estelle Getty, whose fame derives from appearing on a pretty good TV sit-com, strikes me as an extremely arbitrary notion of celebrity. There is a New York Post version of celebrity and a New York Times version of celebrity, and I think the game should include both.

Did we say he was dead?

As for tightening the rules, we disagree. There are in excess of 300 people in this year's picks that we absolutely think are celebrities. We thought of at least another 50 with little effort.

Bottom line is that there are plenty or real celebrities getting up there in years, getting ill, and living crazy-ass life styles. Why in the heck should we, then, continue to allow John W. Finn types into the pick lists?

The reality of the situation is, ,more people would recognize the name, the face, and the character of Estelle Getty than of Elliot Carter. You may find that fact appalling. We understand. But, it is a significant differentiator regarding celebrity. That having been said, we never said Elliot Carter would not count next year. We said probably not.

There is a huge difference between accomplishment and celebrity. We think we would all agree that Elliot Carter has a hell of alot more talent and accomplishments than, say, Britney Spears. The reality, however, is that he doesn't hold a candle to Britney when it comes to celebrity.

You had (De?) after his name, so I thought perhaps you were uncertain, and I wished to provide certainty. :) That's all.

As to the rules -- well, your game, after all. Just my 2 cents.

Oh my. Private, think about it. Composer (De?). As in Decomposer?


If you are going with the Vox Populi approach, so be it, but I think it will be challenging coming up with a coherent set of guidelines that includes those whom you wish to include and excludes those whom you wish to exclude. "Name recognition" is a slippery concept. The public imagination being what it is, it comes and goes very quickly these days -- is Trista Rehn still a celebrity? Is the third place finisher on American Idol three seasons ago still a celebrity? Is Jessica Lynch still a celebrity?

Second, as I'm sure you have noticed, the mass public is fragmenting rapidly, so "celebrity" and "name recognition" are highly dependent on what communities one belongs to. Are second-tier rap stars celebrities? I doubt they would excite any more name recognition in Green Bay than Elliott Carter does. Dwight Evans is a celebrity to me because I'm a baseball fan and he's a near (but not quite) Hall of Famer, but most non-baseball fans wouldn't know who he is. And so on.

Third, Elliott Carter's celebrity may be smaller than Estelle Getty's in the sense you are using the term (no argument there), but his fame is much more secure. Carter has an Encyclopedia Britannica entry; Getty doesn't. Carter will probably rate a front-page New York Times obit; Getty won't. Carter rates whole chapters in relevant history books; Getty doesn't. (Not to pick on Estelle, she's actually pretty funny.)

Yes, it will be tough. We've been having that battle non-stop since we decided to pull the trigger on the idea of exclusions. It's not likely to get easier any time soon. We'll spend this year contemplating the issue as we drink. It'll make the drinking all that more fun.

As for the lesson in socio/cultural events in the Western world, toss it. We're going for melting pot here, not stew. Let the chunks of meat and veggies be damned, get us the Cuisinart, its time to puree!

Finally, we come to the essence of Celebrity. You seem to be mistaking celebrity with meaningful accomplishment. They have nothing to do with each other (necessarily) and, so often, seem to be mutually exclusive. Celebrity, at its core, is the popular recognition of a person as well known for, at a minimum, being well known.

Next year we hope to publish, in advance of entry, several paragraphs explaining the background of The Guys as well as our personal biases regarding celebrity. This should help each player make better decisions. Until that time, you'll just have to get miffed at our decisions. Trust us though....the death of an Estelle Getty is FAR MORE FUN than the death of Elliott Carter for all players involved.

I'm sure you've been receiving emails about this already, but I have a question about the ruling on Ron Springs and Randy Pausch.

From the rules: One of the first two hits returned by Google must be the celebrity or info directly regarding the celebrity and their status as a celebrity. What we're looking for here is a hit which is the celebrity's home page, a Wikipedia entry, etc. not an article that the pick crashed their truck in your neighbor's backyard.

For Ron Springs, the first Google hit is his Wikipedia page. The second is an article about his condition. That's kinda one of each, but I figured that was good enough to pass. He will get AP obits based on his playing time in Dallas, and not just for being the father of a current player.

For Randy Pausch, the first Google hit is his page at CMU, and the second is his Wikipedia page. I'm assuming you nixed him based on Exemption #2 "Any pick whose celebrity status is contingent on an illness suffered by that person will not be considered a valid pick." I won't argue that his appearance on Oprah brought on his notoriety, but his accomplishments predate his illness. I submit for your consideration the August 2007 version of his Wikipedia page that does not mention his illness.

I suppose it is impossible to know if that page in August 2007 would be one of the top two returned by a Google search (though Randy might, he did consult with Google at one point), but it raises an interesting question. In this case, someone of fame, granted a somewhat obscure fame, became 'more famous' after Oprah. So, would he have been an eligible pick in 2007 before Oprah?

I'm willing to stand by your ruling, it is your game after all, but the Pausch Predicament is an interesting least to me.

Thanks for the game, and good luck this year!

Regarding Pausch:

His "accomplishments" do "pre-date his illness." They also predate his celebrity. Great accomplishments alone does not a Celebrity make. In fact, many celebrities have no great accomplishments. It's the being known for being known that makes a celebrity. That didn't even come close to happening for Pausch until the illness.

As for Springs, read his Wiki entry. See what he's known for besides the illness. NOTHING! Even the Wiki entry says the following under his career highlights:

"No notable achievements"

"In fact, many celebrities have no great accomplishments."

Never a truer word was spoken, and part of the reason I enjoy these games.

Thanks for the reply.

wtf??? I know, I know.... the rules, but Ron Springs, All-Pro Dallas Cowboy, not qualified, but willie mccovey, robt conrad, and lonny frey are?? I think they are all in the same 'ballpark'. :)

We understand your frustration, but just imagine ours. It's called a "Celebrity" Death Watch." Face facts, if you stopped 10 random people on the street of any major city and asked 10 strangers if they knew who Springs, McCovey, Conrad and Frey are, you'd be hard pressed to get one correct hit. Again we say, "Celebrity." In fact, none of these guys may get the nod for next year's watch. Even with the rules change this year we had over 200 names that we had to look up - and we have been running this for over 10 years.

But, the bottom line is that you are trying to argue for the "Celebrity" of an entry whose Wikipedia bio clearly states the following:

Career Highlights and Awards

* No notable achievements

Face it, you didn't pick Springs because he's a "Celebrity," you picked him because of the diabetes, the transplant and the subsequent coma... come on admit it. You rolled the dice and crapped out. We're sorry, but it was with this transitional criteria that we are hoping to get the "game" back on track.

not a problem..and I certainly understand and appreciate your plight. I personally would be hard pressed to recognize most of the 'abdul muhammed razid el saad sahib' guys that some people play.

you're doing a great job, and keep up the good work... again, not meant to harrass you.

Don't get me wrong, I'm as glad as anybody to see the "World's Oldest Person in the World" picks gone for good...but looking at your list of who qualifies as a celebrity for 2009 has me mystified.

A lot of them make sense, but there are just as many which seem to me to be quite arbitrary. I would cite as an example Sammy Baugh (definitely a celebrity) as opposed to Paul Hornung (probably not a celebrity). What weird-ass formula did you use to arrive at this decision? I can't say I see much difference. Either they are both celebrites, or they aren't. Huh? Did you flip a coin?

There are others...Earl Weaver is a celebrity, but Frank Robinson is only "probably" a celebrity? Earl Butz probably is a celebrity, but Willard Wirtz isn't? What, the Department of Agriculture is the more sexy cabinet position? Honestly.

And Bill Brown...this is just plain anti-cricket bias. He was one of Bradman's Invicibles, for crying out loud...but you don't know who Bradman was, I suppose, so he wasn't a celebrity either. Sir Donald, the greatest of them all...The Don...strike rate of 99.94...oh dear God, it just makes me sick to my stomach thinking about it.

We just don't know what to say Chef. The thought of a Cricket exclusion makes you sick to your stomach. That fact alone should worry you far more than how we decide celebrity status.

Long time no message.... I still keep an eye on the obits and heard that Alan Melvin died (Sam the Butcher, as well as Archie Bunker's pal Barney) I text messaged the sister to tell her (as I am wont to do) and she told me she didn't get a list in this year.

First no stalker, then no stalkers sister!

I still remember when I was mentioned in the Star Ledger... My now husband was mentioned in the Ledger for something completely different not too long after.

Anyway, I just wanted to say "hi" hope all is well!

Stalker! So nice to hear from you. We've spent the last several years looking in the hedge row and running to the car in mall parking lots with the false hope that we were still being stalked. Alas, to no avail.

Then to see that the sister of the Stalker went missing...It was almost too much to handle. To distract us from the pain of it all, we decided to change the rules of our little game and take on the wrath of each and every one of our players. Only now are we starting to, once again, feel alive.

DEAD GUYS R US (no affiliation):
Multiple fronts, so please bear with. The most important...

Team Dead Guys r Us (no affiliation) wants to make a donation via your link on the home page, but the pay pal screen just says try again. We would have brought this to your attention sooner, but what with us ghouls waiting until the last minute to submit, we thought it best to verify we were accepted before paying into a fraternity we were not a part of. So, in a nutshell, how the hell do we get you guys some duckets, as a donation, to say thank you for all the effort, and to help offset the cost of both this and next years' supply of red ink?

Number two, and significantly less important. Do you ever get all excited when you see a report on a famous celebrity biting it, then get more amped because you think you have them on your celebrity death watch list, then get TOTALLY peeved when you realize that you meant to pick that person, but got too much boones farm into your system, and drafted some other old guy instead? Or is team Dead Guys r Us (no affiliation) far more twisted than the norm, and taking death watching far too seriously?

First off, we'd like to thanks you for taking time to write to us. As for the donation, you can go to our webpage, via this link: and although it looks the same, the pay-pal link should work just fine. Apparently there is a coding and masking issue and, blah, blah, blah, blah. In any case, it's thoughtful of you to think of us and remember the O.B.E. can also be remembered in your estate.

As for your second point. Yes! Us too. You know with all the lists we have made in the past 10 years, we can never remember who the heck is on our current list at any given time. And of course, the year that you drop someone off your list, they are going to cash out. Bastards! Now, as to whether you are far more twisted than the norm? Well gee, you are asking us... do you think that we are the norm? We run a damned Death Watch... so ummm, yeah... in our book you are normal... but that may not be saying much.

Hi Guys. There is a tiny error in my list (Toe Tag You're It). I submitted Phyllis Diller, but my list says Phyllis A. Whitney. I don't even know who she is! Is it possible for you to correct this? Thanks so much.

You're right! This will be fixed tonight.

Reagarding Johnny Podres: the only guy to bring the dodgers a pennant and next year wouldn't be a celebrity?

Dude, next year he'll be dead so don't sweat it.

Guys, I can't find any news on Slim Whitman's death. Where did you see it?

Sorry for the confusion on our end. Slim Whitman is alive. It appears the reports of his death on Monday were (imagine this) an internet hoax.

We are the team Dirty Bakers Dozen. One of the names we submitted, Owen Wilson, was incorrectly listed as Gwen Wilson on the website. Can you please change it from Gwen to Owen Wilson, our original pick. Thanks.

Yup. We'll fix this tonight.

Thanks very much.

So would Margie Truman have counted?

This Margie Truman:

Margie Truman Renfro, age 97 of Chalybeate, died Wednesday, January 2, 2008 at the Medical Center in Bowling Green. She was a housewife and a charter member of the Beaver Dam United Baptist Church.


This Margie Truman:

Mary Margaret Truman Daniel, also widely noted throughout her life as Margaret Truman (February 17, 1924 — January 29, 2008), was an American writer and the author of biographies, books on the White House and several best-selling mystery novels. She was the daughter of 33rd President Harry S. Truman and his wife Bess Truman.

Probably yes based on the best selling author part. Although, it's picks like her that make our job a bit tougher. Of course, she won't count now, will she?

Ha. Two Margie Trumans. Ha. And I don't give a Beaver Dam about the second one, who never would have been famous if not for pops. That would be a tough ruling, and I guess you would have to say she would have counted. Can't believe no one had her...................................on their list.

A few dead pool people I know were getting increasingly bummed by the out-of-hand dead pools in the internet, and who counts as a "celebrity", and it was always "let's just start our own" and all that.

The way you guys are changing your game, now we don't have to, and we are all lazy anyway....and.....we're all from Jersey too so we can support locally.

Anyway, thanks!! And good luck.

Ya know, thank you! Really.

Are you counting the Cannuck broadcaster and the obscure jockey this year? If so, can I file an appeal about your rejection of my famous Puerto Rican baseball player, "Millito" Navarro -- he was the first PR in American baseball and is a living hero in PR.

Please understand, I am not whining, I am not whining, I am not whining (continue ad nauseum). Here is a nice webb site showing his credentials: Here

Thanks for considering this and I will respect your ruling.

Yes and no. Next year, none of these clowns are going to count. Well, what we mean is picks like them. Two of them clearly wouldn't count. They're already dead.

When you get around to it, would you please give me credit for my first hit, Earl Butz, Nixon's Secretary of State, got planted over the week-end.

Uh, when discussing Butz it's typically best to avoid terms such as "hit" and, more importantly, "planted."

How would Ron Springs and Willie McCovey not count? Just cause people are estupido, doesn’t mean they aren’t famous.

I can't believe you'd think that Paul Hornung is not a celebrity.

Any sports figure who is or was an MVP should count as a 'celebrity', as long as their sport is major (not lacrosse).

# Pro Bowl (x2) (1959, 1960)

# NFL 1960s All-Decade Team

# 1956 Heisman Trophy

# 1961 NFL MVP

# 1961 Bert Bell Award

# Green Bay Packers HOF

Also, Frank Robinson=586 career homers. Once was 4th all-time. Anyone in a top 10 list in a major sport should be a celebrity.

How about the 'street' test next year...go out on the street and ask 10 people if they've heard of person X and see what the result is. I'd like to know.

Time to Go has gone

Sitting this one out. Just wanted to mention that Willie McCovey has '521' career homers, is a hall-of-famer, and look at his Wiki page:

That's right, first-ballot HOFer.

Then there's Ron Springs...known for being in a coma, having a kidney transplant, non-notable Dallas Cowboy.

The point should be, the person should be famous for a reason other than their death is imminent. I get it...

But for Chef Devergue and the others, let me just sound off:

ANYONE can EASILY figure out who the 'world's oldest person' is. You could have put that person on your list, but you didn't. And while there may be lots of minor sports or rock stars, how many people qualify as world's oldest? Just ONE at a time. If that isn't an exclusive club, then I don't know what is.

It seems the problem here is that someone is afraid they might learn something that's supposed to be just 'fun.' Yeah, Amy Whinehouse has made the news, I've never heard her music so whatever. We all have our own version of who's important, and who's not.

But somehow I don't think the death of Britney Spears will be funny.

When someone dies at 115, we can honor them and say that had a good life...not when they're a train wreck at 26.

So, for all those whiners who kept losing, just get a paper bag, and put it over your head, wouldya?

Time To Go has gone!

We hear you. However we'd like to tell you where we're coming from. This game started because The Guys were betting on the ultimate demise of Frank Sinatra. From there it grew into Bob Hope, Milton Berle, George Burns.... Clearly celebrities.

We went to the web with this thing and stewed over how we'd handle the term "celebrity." We fully recognized the subjectivity of the term. We settled on the AP obit as the defining criteria and let people log in anyone they wanted. If it hit the AP, it counted. Over time this resulted in an increased amount of our time looking up names; it resulted in several years of us missing deaths until the very last minute (which changed the standings and disappointed numerous players); it resulted in increasing complaints about the entires; and finally, it resulted in The Guys becoming very discouraged about the Death Watch.

For 2008 we tried to steer the pool back toward its roots. We fully realize that we fell woefully short on that goal. We're not happy about that. Not at all. However, we have plans to move further toward the roots in 2009. This will include a less structured rule set, more insight into our thinking on the nature of celebrity, and a background into our inherent biases. Then, it will entail us cutting out a whole bunch of names that don't fall in line with these thoughts.

Bottom line:

1) Fame and great accomplishment is not the same thing as Celebrity.

2) We're not at all adverse to learning about great achievements that others have accomplished, however that's not the ultimate goal of this Death Watch, neither is honoring such achievements (though we do honor those who think merit it).

3) We recognize that we have an inherent weakness when it comes to sports celebrity and we're going to try and make that clear next year. To us, great performance and record alone don't make celebrity. It's the name recognition. Guys like Reggie Jackson, Joe Namath, Willie Mays, Tiger Woods, Arnold Palmer, Larry Bird, etc.. have more than great records, they have Cult of Personality. They have immediate name recognition. To use a crap phrase thrown about in business now-a-days, they have "a brand." Willie McCovey, not so much.

4) At heart we don't find anyone's death funny. We do however see plenty of humorous elements in death (and in life). In fact, it's all kind of funny really. This one merits a bit of comment as it really is at the heart of our pool and the essence of what we're trying to get back to.

Should Britney Spears die, it would be a tragedy. Not because she dies, per se, but because of the wasted talent and the squandered potential (two things that helped build her Cult of Personality). Her death would be a tragedy because of the way in which a quick rise to fame so easily corrupts and destroys many young lives. At the same time, it's hard for us not to see the absurdity of the idol worship placed on the likes of a Britney Spears and then the ensuing zeal with which "we" beat her up. That's been a tried and true element of our culture. Worship, worship, destroy. It's also impossible for us not to see the craziness that our culture places on the death of celebrities, especially unexpected deaths (ala Princess Di) and "train wreck" deaths (ala Ana Nicole). All this while good people, real every day heroes, live life unnoticed and die unnamed. Pretty ass backwards in our book. Pretty absurd too. Most importantly for our Death Watch, pretty easy to poke fun at.

5) As for honoring achievement, we think this is terribly important. Thing is, we think the best way to honor achievement is in life. To much ink is spilled in death and not enough in life. Of course, where a celebrity pick has had genuine achievement worth noting, we have consistently tried to indicate as much in our write ups. Heck, the whole darn pool is a giant homage to a guy with think achieved a great deal.

Of course, it's not the achievement alone that makes the celebrity. It's the being known, the Cult of Personality. Mr. Sinatra clearly had that. So he had both achievement and celebrity. So does, say, Bill Gates. That doesn't make every successful business person or innovator a celebrity. As we've already said, some celebrity's only achievement is being a celebrity. Why honor that? We'd rather make fun of it. It's a pretty dumb reason to be famous and the culture is pretty empty to place so much in it. It makes for any easy target for jokes and sneers.

So what's it all mean to you and to us? It means, we think, that you played our pool because you enjoyed having others learn about longevity. You also, we suspect, liked to have folks learn about some real heroes with some genuine accomplishments. That is a noble goal and we appreciate it.

Of course, that is not why we created this game. We created it to talk about Celebrities, to have a chuckle about some of their lives (and deaths), and to have a sarcastic belly laugh about how much stock we, as a culture, place in The Cult of Personality. Like it or not, Britney Spears, Amy Winehouse, Joe Namath, Reggie Jackson, Tiger Woods (just some examples) all have Cult of Personality credibility. The World's Oldest whatever simply don't. Neither do many great baseball, football, hockey, tennis, snooker, cricket, or curling players. In the end, we want to include only Celebrities (Cult of Personality) because the whole darn pool is built around poking fun at the idea of Cult of Personality. That gets lost when it turns into a page full of homages to the decedents.

We told you before and we'll tell you again, we have truly enjoyed what you brought to the table with this game. Also, we were sad to see that you weren't playing this year. However, what we are looking to create and ultimately to get out of this pool is not, we think, the same thing that you were getting out of it. Thus, we part ways.

We've gotta say, in all sincerity, you've made things interesting; we've appreciated many of your insights; we suspect you're an okay type fella and we hope you still keep in touch from time to time.

Finally, we'd be remiss not to conclude by indicating how much we'd love to see our 100 plus Death Watchers in a field with paper bags over their respective heads. What a photo that would make. It'd likely get in all the papers. Then, maybe, we'd all be celebrities.

As Bob Hope, a Celebrity, might have said, thanks for the memories,

last-minute comebacks=FUN. NY Giants, anyone? If only the 'favored' team (or very famous) win, what's the point?

part of that was because you all just made comments about why person X or person Y shouldn't count. You can find something to make fun of just about anyone. By making comments about 'non-celebrities', it just fuels more criticism...soon you'll be left with the kindergarten or first-grade test: ask the kid in first grade if they've heard of somebody. If not, then they're not famous. Guess inventing LSD=not celebrity enough.

Any format rules exclusions exclude not just entries, but entrants. I enjoy the surprise of who will not make it through the next year, and who will. All the other death pools are totally creepy and evil (i.e., dancing skeletons) and don't at all respect the people dying. Yours started because you were a fan of Sinatra's, so its comments or no.

How about this: if the death makes at least 100 AP stories on the Google news search, they count as a 'celebrity'. End of story.

True. No one is happy that Brad Renfro died at only 25, but the River Phoenix comment is a backhanded compliment.

Even among the 'world's oldest,' Jeanne Calment developed a 'cult of personality', many others didn't. When a reporter asked Jeanne how many wrinkles she had, she replied that she only ever had one crevice and she's sitting on it. Slap. How about an un-bet...anyone over 100 can be included, but what counts is that they survived another year, not that they died. That would shut up all the whiners, right? OK, the 107-year-old Russian cartoonist might be famous, but wouldn't it be more a miracle if her makes 108, than if he dies this year? Just a thought.

But when you pick someone, they're still alive, so you're honoring life but recognizing it's almost run its course. Of course, if the pick is a Fidel Castro, we kinda want them to die, so there are exceptions.

No one knew who invented 'Gatorade', but when the obit ran, everyone knew about Gatorade. So I agree, the achievement alone does not make fame.

True. Anna Nicole Smith, Paris Hilton, Britney Spears...why is it usually girls?

Jeanne Calment did, though she may have been unique. Who else said "I've waited 110 years to become famous, I intend to take advantage of it for as long as possible." They called her "Queen Jeanne". I agree...Edna Parker, not so much.

Got it...hated Tad Szulc, but hated more: people famous for a terminal illness, or the plug being pulled, being chosen. Hunter Kelly? 8-year-old kid? How low can someone go?

I may still be a fan and enjoy the 'deaths' even if not participating. I might participate, even if there's no 'oldest whatever', if the rules are clear and we have a pretty good idea of what will count in advance as a celebrity. Subjectivity is not an option.

So Siyonara, and don't forget to post the 'paper bag' comments on the message board.

Am I looking at this right - none of the participants entered William F Buckley, Jr. for 2008? But you still posted an obit. I'm proud of you.

We post obits for everyone we think is a celebrity (our opinion) and everyone who made the cut to be on a list. That's how we work it.

Well yall, its been a long tahme since I have posted a letter to ya. Ya see, the Hudsucker boy is still chasing the confederate dollahs I have stashed in tins and buried out by the ole Woolly Swamp.I did notice that some young un who won this here lil ol’ contest last year donated less than I did? Imagine the surprise of winning it all only to give back what we like to call down here in the humid south a Richmond. Well well. I guess Pop Pop Fizz Fizz is just a cheap bastard and he better not be visiting down here near the Woolly Swamp. The Gators are hungry!

Madam (and my goodness do we use that term loosely):

Plot, Plot, Fizz, Fizz has been a long standing player in this little game and has always played above board with little fanfare. The entrant was kind enough to send us money (which less than half our players actually do). We're not in a position to complain.

Of course, we also appreciate the $2,000 in confederate bills you sent over. We brought them to a coin and money appraiser who graciously informed us they were valued at approximately $1.83.

You stated NO for Jeff Heally if he would have died next year. I feel that would be a mistake. Jeff Heally has been a popular musician for some time. Was very well known and I just feel that he would fall into the Celebrity category.

Just my opinion

just to let you know --- wonder why Arthur gets a yes . . . he sure ain't no household name around here . . .

Kimmy, sweetie. 2001 A Space Odyssey. Come on.

Well, Guys, I'm just as into sci-fi as the next super geek - but the man meant nada por mi.

And if you insist, I prefer "Kimmie," 'kay.

Look here Kimmie.....

2001 A Space Odyssey is considered a landmark work. Granted, it's mostly because of Kubrik's movie, but Clarke's name was forever tied to that as the author.

And for the record, we prefer the use of "Okay," Okay Kimmy?

Lookie here, Guys. Great sci-fi authors to have been read by any true geek: Heinlein, Asimov, and Douglas. The Answer Is 42, the four-part trilogy is precious, and Martian wisdom is timless - grok it?. Hope you have a great Pi day . . . Okay.

Hi pops

Hehehehehe...yep, I wonder what they'll write about us...

By the way, our power only came on at 7:30 last night...what a bunch of wankers!

Anyway, chat later.

They'll write: "Who are these guys?"

Letting us know we can use people next year that are already dead is useless! :(

Not really. It provides insight to how we will define celebrity.

I hate to be a pain, but I like seeing lines through the names on my list. You've given me credit for Phyllis A. Whitney's death in the Standings, but she doesn't have a line through her name on my Entry (We Can Seat You Now). No biggie, but if she's dead, she deserves to have a line through her name.

oops. Fixed.

Dith Pran

As an anagram, he is now Third Nap.

Didn’t know if you saw this one, but Albert Hoffman (one of my picks) died today at age 102. Does inventing LSD make a celebrity count?

No, it makes a celebrity hallucinate.

Ok, point taken, and I did indeed look at the mailbag, but I still think inventing acid makes you a celebrity... or at least a handy guy to have as your Chem partner in college!

Who knew my pick of shame would be my one hit....

One hit on celebrities, when you search the net for near death stars and have now idea who the person is, you might want to pass them up.

Had it not been for my vigorous search to round out my 2007, the source of my 1 and only experience with drugs would have remained unknown to.

Celebrity? No.........I apoligize to The Guys, all the other teams and to the family of Hofmann....

Hey guys, you've really stirred up a hornets nest. Speaking of which, if the Green Hornet dies next year, does he qualify?

I agree with Baby Crushers that a NO for Jeff Healy next year would seem unfair, but in reality - this is not our decision to make. THE GUYS are running the pool. This is THEIR pool. They are doing all the WORK. I for one am willing to support their decisions as to who is or isn't a true celebrity. Of course, if some time in the future the guys decide to appoint a Review Committee, consisting of a few very sensible long time participants who get to vote on contentious deaths, I'd certainly volunteer to serve. Please let me know the date and location the paper bag photo will be taken, I don't want to be left out of the picture.

One hit on celebrities, when you search the net for near death stars and have now idea who the person is, you might want to pass them up.

Greetings from your favorite player(s), team exoendo zuzubar, supergods. How unfortunate for us that when we are on the brink of sending you an email you happen to go and mass update your mailbag. Sweet, we always have the best timing.

It has come to our attention, that in the last 4 years of playing our little game, we have had very limited contact with some of the players who we find interesting and valueable members of the deathpool community. We would like to engage them. However you folks believe in privacy or whatever.....curses.

If you would be so kind to put this open letter on your site, and include our email address, (,, team exoendo zuzubar supergods would be much appreciative. You rock. (if you do what we are asking, of course, otherwise.. boooo).

Dear the following:

goatsucker, plot plot, time to go, one foot in the grave, metsie, transfixus, and others . . we would like to converse with you, if only in very limited fashion. Please email us and say hi if it's not too much of a bother.

R M:
Just found your site. Pretty funny. What is the due date to submit a list for 2009? I am sure you listed it but the thing was so damn funny the tears in my eyes caused me to miss that nugget.

P. S. What's the over/under on Sen. Kennedy?

We announce the new game on October 31. We accept entries until December 31 at 1159 pm eastern. We drink too much beer.

R M:
Thanks. I'm not drive, I can drunk. Let me have one more.

"...Apparently the plowing is done and it's planting season...."

HA! I rolled on the floor over that one! ...Keep up the 'death-defying' work!...

Just checking on the status of the lists. I noticed that Irena Sendler passed away and it is still on the list of "The Angels are Waiting for You". My guess is you are busy and will get to it, but just wanted to mention it.

Sorry we are late with this one. It seems that we had inadvertently changed Ms. Sendler's name and stuffed it into a jar and buried it under our associate's apple tree. Rest assured we have noted her death and will be posting it on the page (along with your team's credit) in the very near future.


Can will pretend it is a time capsule dig it up in like 50 years. :-)

Well, we could, but then you'd not get credit for Irena's death...

Also, if Irena had done that, we'd have ha 2500 Eastern European Jews running around thinking they were Christians - and we can't have that, now can we?

You missed Jules Dassin, Died March 31, 2008.

While I'm here, Might I add my two cents as to what to consider a celebrity next year: Perhaps using some other list as a benchmark... oh, let's say

Sure, they may have some people that I've never heard of, especially in the field of sports, (I've never been a huge sports follower) But if they, or another independent site considers them noteworthy enough to list them, then the onus is off of you guys as far as subjectivity goes.

Like I said, Just my 2 cents...

You forgot to list/announce a recent death (as well as give me credit/point).

Tyrone Jones (Candian Football Player) - died June 10.

It is all over the news. Here is the link to Wikipedia, as well as his death announcement on CBS Sports.

Please accept our apologies. One of the guys went away for a week with his family to Uncle Walt's Antisemitic Mouse House and the other is just a damn lazy bastard. We know we need to update the site and send out a catch up bulletin, but man, between the bills to pay, the beer to drink, the poker to play... well... you know... we promise to get to it before long and give credit where credit is due.

And here's a bit of death trivia just for you... did you know that annually on average, 100 people choke to death on ball point pens... it's true!

No problem at all - I just figured I would send a 'friendly reminder' email. I KNOW it must be all the beer. As well as visiting Uncle Walt. :)

I look forward to that catch up/update email. And I will definitely stay away from the ball point pens. Thanks for the warning!

How do I join?

Usually, you head down to the local recruiting office and say something like, "Sign me up." That or you read the rules.

Did you forget Larry Harmon, the original Bozo the clown? Yes, he was famous.

Yes, he was. He just wasn't a celebrity.

When I get these updated - you always add:

Next year? and then mention yes, no or maybe......what does that mean? What is the reference to next year?

The start of this year, we changed how we define Celebrity. It caused quite a stink among our regulars. We hope to refine the definition even further for the 2009 OBE. To that end, we promised the players that, with each death listed this year, we'd indicate whether we think the death would have counted as a celebrity for next years rules. The ides is to let you guys, the players, see how we're thinking regarding who is and who is not a celebrity.

Read the mail-bag. That will further explain.

what about Bobby Murcer....maybe John Sterling will do the eulogy...he is high ...he is far...he is gone

holy cow and how about that.....

Please note that Willis Lamb is still dead. You've refused to update him along with the other updates you've made. Will you? Can it be done?

Thank you.

Please update your page to reflect we have gotten our 4th death. Estelle Getty has passed away.

What's wrong with your website, you haven't updated in over a month?

Dude, we just updated about a week ago. We'll get to Estelle, Murcer, and at least one other soon.

Wake up. Estelle Getty has passed.

Remarkable as this may seem to all of us, we have real jobs too. We'll get there.


Ok, sorry.

Crap I love it! We had a DP, (dead pool) for years, Short money, but the players dwindled after almost 15 years. Very similar. I will check back in December to see how 2009 looks!

By all means. Always looking for new players and new laughs. Please check in regularly.

Dave Freeman, co-author of "100 Things to Do Before You Die," a travel guide and ode to odd adventures that inspired readers and imitators, died after hitting his head in a fall at his home. He was 47.

Freeman died Aug. 17 after the fall at his Venice home, his father, Roy Freeman, told the Los Angeles Times on Monday.

Maybe #97 should have been “Be more careful when walking around the house”.

Hello there I was just wondering when the 2009 entry form will be up- I am new to this and I read all the rules so I am sorry to bother you about the 09' list but I am wanting to get in on the action as morbid as that sounds :) thanks for your time

Oh Mandy! You came and you mailed without taking. And we want you to stay, Oh Mandy.

We post the new contest on October 31. We accept entries until December 31 at 11:59 Eastern Standard time. Then, away they go!

Are you kidding? Ingmar Bergman had tons of "nudie" scenes in his movies. One of the reasons foreign films -- especially those from anything-goes, hedonistic Sweden -- caught on in America in the 1950s and 1960s is that they had nudity in them at a time when that was generally frowned upon in American cinema. In other words, American actresses were only dropping their tops in stag films and loops (and maybe some sleazy no-budget independent flicks), but healthy-looking Swedish actresses were getting naked in feature films that played in respectable theaters! For decades, "foreign" meant "dirty" to filmgoers, and "Swedish" meant "especially dirty."

Just wanted to defend the reputation of Ingmar Bergman: nudity pioneer. And, no, he didn't have car chases per se in his films (what? with Volvos?), but there's lots of brutality, blood, death, and general horror-movie creepiness in them. You want sex and violence? Bergman's got your back. Is it any wonder that Wes Craven's first flick (Last House on the Left) was a Bergman remake?

Gee, thanks Siskel. Pardon us while we head to the video store for some smut, uh, Bergmen films.

The intent of my e-mail is not to be critical, but simply to add constructive discussion to the ongoing debate of the definition of celebrity. Merriam-Webster refers to "a state of being celebrated." Thus, your point about being distinguished amongst the well known, i.e. the Sinatra-elevated status within crooners, is well taken. Moreover, your qualification of Arthur Clarke as being significant amongst writers is also sound. We seem to depart from this standard, however, with athletes. I understand your attempted distinction from the local athlete and the iconic. Elevating Bobby Murcer above Paul Hornung or Willie McCovey, however, seems to conflict with that standard. While Bobby was supposed to be the next Mickey Mantle, he wasn't. For you Jersey boys, he was one heck of a prospect, but he never lived up to it. McCovey and Hornung, however, won the grandest of awards on a national scale - in their day, the MVP, Heisman, etc, made them a national celebrity at that time, no different from Peyton Manning or Manny Ramirez today. Despite your posted distinction between celebrity and fame, Merriam-Webster provides that celebrity is synonymous with fame. McCovey and Hornung are both HOFers in the shrines of the two major American sports. Bobby Murcer died a local broadcaster. Perhaps, for next year, athletes should be held to a definable standard - HOF in one of the four majors (baseball, football, hockey, and basketball), major award winners therein (Cy Young, MVP, Heisman, etc), Olympic medal winners (Bruce Jenner, Olga Korbut), individual world champions (i.e. Dick Weber), and major tournament champions (i.e. Masters, Wimbledon), as well the iconic (Pele, Bob Uecker), historical (Curt Flood), and the infamous (Jose Canseco, Pete Rose).

The fame component of this is particularly relative when it comes to era. VH1 named Gary Coleman (#1) and 99 other kid celebrities - including Todd Bridges and Amy Linker - over the iconic Shirley Temple as the greatest kid star. Obviously, that poll is skewed towards the contemporary,and illustrates the problem of considering the fleeting, contemporary newsmaker (Amy Winehouse - 40 million google hits) more of a celebrity over a bona fide, multi-generational icon (Judy Garland - 4 million hits) . When dealing with a deathwatch, I suggest considerable weight be given to events of the deceased's life, as opposed to mere reknown at the time of death. For the most part, you guys are hip to history and do a fantastic job - thank you. Elevating Bobby Murcer over Willie "Stretch" McCovey or Paul "Golden Boy" Hornung, however, seems to have some local lean to it, as opposed to truly recognizing what they accomplished in the same arena.

(I'm from Chicago, so I'm not some Packer or Giant fan rooting for my guy, and I didn't list either. But I have to give credit where it is due - Hornung, in addition to Heisman and HOF, was also infamous for being barred from the NFL for gambling associations - that was major news in its day).

What are we gonna do with you? We hear your gripe but take umbrage at some of your assertions. Local leaning, eh? Well, we'll tell ya what some major differences between Bobby Murcer, Willie McCovey and Paul Hornung are... all having a relation to our definition of celebrity.

Bobby appeared in two movies... as himself...that right there screams celebrity baby... all McCovey got was a lousy This is Your Life episode in 1972... whoop dee doo...

In McCovey's Wiki-Bio is says the following:

McCovey's best-known moment in baseball came in the bottom of the 9th of Game 7, with 2 outs and the Giants trailing 1-0. With Willie Mays on second base and Matty Alou on third, any base hit would likely have won the championship for the Giants. McCovey scorched a hard line drive that was snared by the Yankees' second baseman Bobby Richardson, ending the series with a Yankees' win.

That's his best know moment? And you want us to call him a celeb... Come on!

As for Hornung, did you know that he was suited up with with the Green Bay Packers on January 15, 1967, when they won Super Bowl I, but didn't play in the game? Yeah, and when Vince Lombardi asked him in the fourth quarter if he wanted to go in, Hornung said "no," - he didn't want to risk aggravating a pinched nerve in his neck.... Celebrity? No. Pussy? Yes.

And when Hornung acted in the William Holden flick, The Devil's Brigade, it was not as himself... it was as (drum-roll) the lumberjack... oh yeah and he was credited after some hack named Wilhelm von Homburg... ever hear of him? Yeah, we thought not...

Seriously, Kerry, pal... listen... we really do hear your gripe... but ya know what... we are not gonna listen... sorry, bub... our gripe outweighs it... over the past decade we have spent untold hours researching people like McCovey and Hornung... and you know what?... we don't give a crap that Merriam-Webster "may provide that celebrity is synonymous with fame", we don't...

Dear Umbraged Fellows,

If you truly believe that Bobby Murcer's IMDB listings were more celebrated in popular culture than a Heisman trophy winner, then any additional logic on my part would simply be a useless exercise, but here goes. C'mon, the Heisman or NFL MVP is like the fricking Oscar of football (which of course, Bobby won for his memorable acting roles), and Hornung won both, over the several hundred other wusses who played football those same years.

Likewise, compare the bio on Willie's HOF plaque to that of Bobby's HOF plaque. While you and the folks at Wiki may not have remembered them, Willie's MVP, 500th homerun and Cooperstown induction are certainly career highlights that even the late Mr. Murcer would have respected and concurred are far greater than anything Murcer acheived. Additonally, until the steroid-laden Bonds came along, Willie was the no. 1 lefthanded homerun hitter in NL history. That is apparently discounted by those who dwell on a line drive in a Yankee game.

Being a huge Dean Martin fan, I understand the Sinatra-celebrity connection of the Renaissance man. But the fact is, American sports is a major component of the entertainment industry - athletes as well as crooners fill stadiums and fuel Nielsen ratings. I'd suffice it to say more people paid to see Mr. Hornung play football than they did to see Brian Bosworth act in a movie, or Bobby Murcer on What's My Line?

T'is no gripe on my part, pallies - simply trying to get you to understand that the celebrity of professional sports stars is easily equal to or greater than two cameos in the movies.

Lastly, from Screech to Dan Quayle, the celebrity wuss does exist.

We certainly agree with this point in your argument..."additional logic on (your) part would simply be a useless exercise."

Here's the bottom line... We draw a huge distinction between celebrity and fame. Yeah that's right, we are bending Merriam-Webster over the table and banging it in its descriptive noun.

In our opinion, Andy Warhol got it wrong when he said, "Everyone will be famous for 15 minutes." Warhol confused fame with celebrity, activity with accomplishment. Fame is defined by honor and acclaim. A celebrity is someone who is widely known.... but that knowledge may be fleeting.

Now we acknowledge, there are famous celebrities. Tiger Woods is a famous celebrity; so is Hillary Clinton. They are people of great accomplishment who also court and embrace the limelight. That's the catch with celebrity and those who buy into it. It's a full-time job. One that needs to be fed and nurtured. To many, it is like a drug that courses through their veins. And like any addiction, the need for it can often become all-consuming.

Many who have fame thrust upon them are never comfortable with its accompanying demands. Ultimately, they learn to grudgingly co-exist with it, or, like Garbo and J.D. Salinger, they withdraw completely... (which can, in turn, come back only to feed the flame of celebrity).

For others it's a curse. All Charles Lindbergh ever wanted to do was fly an airplane across the Atlantic (and be an anti-Semite). His fame cost him a son (but gave the world a great punch-line). In July 1969, Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong became famous when they walked on the moon. In the ensuing 40 months, ten other men would follow in their footsteps. In the years after their return to earth, Aldrin and a majority of the others underwent uncommon depression. When Aldrin was once asked why so many of the "moon men" had endured such personal problems. "It's simple," he responded, "NASA prepared us for everything that could happen on our way to the moon, but for nothing that would happen when we got home." In short, they could not deal with the celebrity that fame brought them. (By the way, can you name all the other guys that walked on the moon? . Sure we all know Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Pete Conrad and Al Shepard.... because they had the celebrity to go with it.... but what about David Scott, Charles Duke, Harrison Schmitt etc... yeah... we thought so. Famous, yes. Celebs, no.

Don't kid yourself. Drugs didn't kill Elvis. Celebrity did. It consumed him. It consumed Marilyn Monroe, and it consumed River Phoenix.

Remember we are looking to narrow the field not expand it... if your argument were to accomplish anything it would be for us to exclude Murcer rather than include McCovey and Hornung. We want to get the O.B.E. to a point where we have a minimal amount of research to do... we want all the entries to have name recognition... pure and abashed celebrity.


Si. My suggestion, however, concerning HOF, championships, etc., would indeed lessen your workload as your minions (and you) would readily know that Stan Musial would qualify, and Alfonso Soriano would not. Indeed, a bust in Cooperstown or your name engraved on the Claret Jug makes the famous du jour eternal legends in the field.

Kid myself on Elvis? Where did that come from? If the dude would have just stayed in his pajamas and romped around his mansion like Hef, he wouldn't have had any problems. Undoubtedly, Wilt Chamberlain was a happy celebrity, as he gladly celebrated his fame about 20,000 times. No curse there. Nonetheless, your legions will await your well-considered rules for the upcoming year.

Ok... lets put it this way... The Baseball Hall of Fame has including 228 players, 19 managers, 8 umpires, and 31 builders, executives, and organizers. With your standards, The Baseball Hall of Fame, just by inducting them, has acknowledged they are all famous. According to us at the O.B.E. they are not all celebrities.

To go that endgame, let's go one further - there are, quite literally hundreds of Halls of Fame ( Where would you have us end? The lists go on and on... now I am sure you'd say limit it to the biggies... but what are the biggies and according to whom? I am sure that you'd want to include the Baseball Hall of Fame, but if you lived in West Yorkshire UK you'd argue for the British Rugby League Hall of Fame (Go Huddersfield!).

And that right there is the reason that Baseball Hall of Fame'r Reggie Jackson is a great pick for the O.B.E, but Baseball Hall of Fame'r Travis Jackson sucks. See to us the "famous du jour" doth not an "eternal legend" make....

Guys, guys, guys. What shall I do with you?

Reading includes comprehension. My suggestion on HOF was qualified to the four major sports - hoops, baseball, hockey, and football. Consequently squash, rugby, et al are excluded from my HOF qualifier. The reason being, in the entertainment world, the celebrity of the big four are as big as those who croon, act, dance and whatever Regis does. Face it, despite the popularity of Jai Lai in Malaysia, it doesn't command $500,000 per half minute in commercial time, like the big four does for its championships - that's how you can reasonable exclude it. Now, does that make all NBA hoopsters grand celebrities? Of course not. In that regard, their is a material distinction between a bust like Eric Montross and Shaquille O'Neal. The HOFs for those sports make an even more narrow distinction by drawing the line between stars and superstars. They separate the wheat from the chaff. Dudes, you can't accumulate 500 MLB homeruns without obtaining celebrity status. As you say, like it or not, it is thrust upon you.

Travis Jackson is already dead, as are most the several hundred guys in the Hall. But alas, Stonewall was the Ozzie Smith of his day, and with a bat. This is where reknown at death can be misleading, and why guys like Screech are voted bigger child stars than Shirley Temple on VH1's list. Certainly, as fans of the Chairman of the Board, it is axiomatic to you that in the realm of celebrity, Lance Bass couldn't carry Frank's jockstrap - but you'd have a hard time convincing generations X and Y. If you exclude the oldtimers like Shirley Temple, and limit it to whomever ever has appeared on the cover of Star magazine in the past 10 years, your winner will be whoever gets two, and the drama of your competition will cease.

I agree that celebrity manifests itself in different ways - you can attain it (Mark Spitz), it can be thrust upon you without asking (Bristol Palin), and it can even be by a celebrity thrusting upon you (Reille Hunter). But even legends like Frank, Dean and Elvis will fade as the generations who saw them pass. Britain's Q magazine listed its 100 greatest vocalists ever, and Bjork, Axl Rose and Stevie Nicks topped Bing Crosby, who was Dean and Frank's idol.


We are gonna have to agree to disagree on this one... You say potato, we say orange. You say the HOF's for the big four... we see that as the beginning of a very slippery slope... (ya know some folks in the US of A think that NASCAR is a major sport...).

You are still fighting the good fight for accomplishment and achievement and, while that is noble, it's not what we are after for our little corner of the web. We want the biggies... the names... (as we say in the business, the glitz and tits)! Not the stats and facts; we want the folks that when you mention their names around the water cooler, people go oooo... not whoooo? That's a true celebrity, and yes, some of that is a time-period factor. For some, celebrity is fleeting and fickle. And so are we at the O.B.E.

And we'd argue that a Shirley Temple is in no way comparable to a Willie McCovey... not by a long shot. The Little Colonel and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm are perennial TV favorites and she has a huge place in pop culture: like when Cindy believed that she is going to become the next Shirley Temple and sings one of her songs in front of one of Mikes clients - or when Hyde, Jackie, Eric, and Donna sing "On the Good Ship Lollipop" to cover the sound of Fez peeing in a mobile home bathroom - or when Riker says during his interrogation that he served aboard the USS Lollipop, stating that "it's a good ship." - that's celeb the way we see it... for chrissake McCovey wasn't even on the Sgt. Pepper's cover. McCovey entered pop culture one time... a 1962 comic strip of Peanuts... by our standards... not enough... but here's the thing... if we were running the O.B.E. in 1962, he'd probably have been a great pick...

We understand, that you hold many of these sports figures near and dear... and that's great... that's you... not us and not our game. And we believe that not every HOF'er (even of the big four) enters the public awareness. Not by a long shot. Out of the 348 inductees of the Hockey Hall of Fame, we do not think that there are 348 celebrities... not a chance... let along the 248 in the Basketball hall of fame... I am sure you see where we are going with this... now if it helps you to understand our side of things... we also do not believe that everyone who is on the Hollywood Walk of Fame is a celebrity, not everyone who has won an Academy Award, Grammy, Emmy etc, etc, etc.

Jersey boys,

Those NASCAR folks who dismiss hockey, know Boss Hogg more than Eric and Hyde, and, egads, Mel Tillis over Bruce Springsteen. While you watched Joe Pepitone play first base, the rest of the country watched Ernie Banks or Willie McCovey. By having standards, i.e. AP with exceptions (old people and celebrity relatives), your game is cross-continental, if not global. Trust me, your water cooler discussion in Jersey is not the same in Hattesburg, Mississippi. Do you think Bret Favre and his hunting buddies oooed at the passing of Joey Bishop?

Your insight on Shirley is the same as mine, dudes. I just don't believe it is shared in red states, the college crowd, or in hip hop clubs. If we are left to guess as to your experiences, I fear you may lose the geographically diverse pool you have earned.

Now, enough of defending others picking Paul Hornung and Willie McCovey, and allow me to depart with self-advancement. My 2008 picks include a hefty dose of the infamous - noted serial killers and Nazi fugitives. I feel oh so less guilty in scoring when they die, as opposed to Miss Shirley Temple or Irena Sendler. While whom they are dating is not discussed at water coolers today, they will certainly get prime print when they get deported to Hell. I hope your rules will allow us to continue such feel good picks.

Looky here Kerry:

I've sat quietly while my co-guy answered your questions in a thoughtful, thorough manner. That wasn't enough for Kerry O'. Oh no! Now it's my turn Magoo.

Every January I spend at least 50 hours searching the internet for a bunch of no-names that clever fellas like you think are great picks. Ya getting this Gomer? Then I spend another 20 or 30 hours of grief (not the mourning kind, the fed-up kind) when we miss their deaths during the year because, simply put, they just weren't celebrity enough to notice. Then there's the 20 or so hours that I spend reading up on these stiffs so that I can craft a meaningful obit line so you can have a little chuckle in your life So So. All that time is in addition to actually running the damn pool with the REAL celebrity entries. Ya know, the ones I know by name recognition alone? Get my drift Zeppo?

The bottom line is this: YES!!!!!, to some extent you and all the other Death Watchers will be left to guess our experiences. Tough tittys Tulula. We've certainly made our experiences and viewpoints on Celebrity clear over the last 10 years of this thing and we'll be issuing some guidance in this coming year's rules.

Might this hurt participation? Could be. However, we think not. In the end, as the Death Watch moves towards larger, more well known names, the more inclusive it becomes and the less frustrated and alienated it makes the folks who actually pick real celebrities. Man, that was a run-on sentence with a lot of commas, wouldn't ya say Webster? can kick, you can scream, you can even quit playing (in a pool, need we remind you, that charges nothing and awards $$). In the end, however, you simply can't win this argument Cletus.

Think about it.....the water cooler talk in NJ and MS may be very different when it comes to some home team sports heroes but if OJ Simpson croaks it's gonna be the same. Why you ask? Yup, that's right Pugsley, because he's a friggin' celebrity. Can't you get your noggin around that Pooh Bear?

On a lighter note, Mr. Hooper, your line about wuss celebrities "from Screech to Dan Quayle" was a classic. A genuine classic. Of course, even a broken clock is right twice a day Dudley.

All the damn best,

A Guy at the O.B.E.

Guys, guys, my intention was not to scream, Joisey boyz, but to ease your pain. The intent of my suggestion was so you could lessen your load. Rather than research the lives of our submissions, and hear our appeals, a HOF/champion standard on jocks would render such activity moot. You think not? That's cool.

Give yourselves more credit on writing this year's rules. I found them well written and clear, particularly as to intent. Hopefully, your rejections this year and the vigor in which you berate clever Magoos such as myself, shall deter us from submitting the likes of the last surviving Brooklyn Dodger third base coach. And I apologize to any Screech fans who were insulted by my comparison of Screech to Dan Quayle.

Ya see chuckles, that's where we differ: You apologize for any Screech fans who who were insulted whereas we just apologize for any Screech fans.

Well f**k. I'm doing something I said in January I wouldn't do; engaging the guys. My plan was to consider this a non-deathpool year and prepare for '09 and whatever pool I find that better suits my death-watching needs. Whilst waiting for Mr. Cable Guy, I started reading through the mailbag and find myself here. Something about idle hands and the devil comes to mind.

Anyhoo, I just read ya'lls exchange with Kerry, and quite a few others. None of these people get it. Everybody is completely missing the point and you could resolve all of these issues by simply stating the obvious. THERE IS NO CRITERIA! There are no standards, there are no distinctions, the whole thing is made up. If on whatever day it is that you guys read an obit, you feel that somebody is famous, or a celebrity, or whatthef**kever, they count. Whether it's coffee or beer currently coursing through your veins makes more of a difference than any other thing on Earth. You tell people every update yes, no, yes, no, but none of it makes any sense, so what's the point? I still view it as pretty much a coin toss. My suggestion would be to change the name of the thing to "The old blue eyes memorial random people we've heard of death watch." You'd avoid a lot of confusion and spend a lot less time quibbling over who or what qualifies.

No hard feelings. I really understand why you're doing what your doing. I'm not bolting because I don't like you guys. I just don't understand the game anymore. It's kind of like when you play poker and some guy you barely know calls a game that he and his buddies play that doesn't make any sense. Fizzbin anybody?

By the way, Roy Scheider wasn't a great pick. He was an awful pick. There was no reason whatsoever to expect his demise. Anybody can pick 12 names at random. Picking people with a better than average chance of croaking is what makes this a challenge; and entertaining. I enjoy a good game. Tossing a coin 100 times doesn't qualify.

So, uh, how'd your search for a new Death Pool go?

As for the "No Criteria" comment, it's not quite accurate. There are subjective criteria as to what constitutes a Celebrity and objective criteria which create the structure of the game.

If your Fizbin example were accurate (which it isn't) then we could decide that Peter Mayhew is a Celebrity. More important to your false analogy, we could decide that Harrison Ford isn't a Celebrity. But you see, we can't say those things because it goes against everything we've put out there. It goes against our criteria. See, our criteria cannot exclude genuine Celebrity. It can, however, exclude clear non-celebrities and (this is the part you hate) decide on those picks which are maybes.

What made Fizbin inherently unfair is that:

1) The entire game structure changed as the game progressed,
2) The changes were made to benefit one player,
3) There was no underlying rational or reason for the changes, and
4) You had to play it against that pud-whacker Capt. Kirk.

Our game has none of these drawbacks.

We don't think anyone playing in our Death Watch misunderstands those picks that we will clearly include as Celebrities. That being the case, they should PICK THEM. (For the record, the people we would clearly include are hardly "random people," they're well known CELEBRITIES. The whole point is to ELIMINATE the random people.) If players wanna walk the line, then they take a risk. We're trying hard to minimize that risk by regularly explaining our rationale and how we think. Dude, that's so far from Fizbin even Spock and that poofter Sulu are starting to say it makes sense.

Poker is a game. The O.B.E. is a contest. There's a difference. Are essay contests inherently unfair because subjective criteria are used along with objective criteria? How about beauty contests? Better yet, how about wet T-shirt contests? Come on..... Objective criteria: you've got to have cans. Subjective criteria: they've got to be nice.

If you were honest with us, you'd admit that what bugs you and other players is that their (your) ability to pick the obscure, likely to die, picks is vaporizing. It's that very fact that makes us think the Death Watch is getting better. The Death Watch is supposed to be a fun, funny pop-culture happening. It's not supposed to be a cut throat contest where you spend months digging around for some cancer laden walk-on from Mork And Mindy just so you can land a few hundred dollars.

By the way, you're dead wrong about Roy Scheider. The point of the game isn't to pick people who are old or people who are sick. The point of the game is to pick Celebrities who you think will die in coming year. Roy Scheider is clearly a celebrity. He clearly died. He wasn't on a lot of lists. No one expected it! Ergo, great pick.

It seems to us that you think that picking the "rare" likely-to-die and getting it right is better than picking the readily known long shot. We think the exact opposite. Yours is a view that indicates to us your taking participation in a Death Pool WAY too seriously. It's not the competition that you should be joining for, its the laughs, the cutting-down-to-size of Celebrities, and the fun loving nature of the Guys.

Beam us the frig up Mr. Scot, we've got to get our freak on with Uhura now.

That's a pretty nice response, even if I do think it's completely FOS.

Not sure if that's sarcasm or not, but we've found a few that seem interesting. Thanks for asking, I guess. A couple of them reward for age, instead of obscurity, which as I pointed out to you guys last year is the unintended consequence of your rules. (Ironic that we both dislike the obscurity factor, eh?)

Seems like I really touched a nerve with the Fizzbin example. Shame. I thought it was pretty good. Still do, in fact. Since we the participants have no way of knowing who you'll deem a celebrity, or famous, or whatever, we're just as in the dark as the idiot gangsters. Since you're making it up as you go along, Peter Mayhew might be a celebrity on Tuesday, but only after 7 (when the beer shows up, for example). Including a yes or no after each one this year doesn't help at all since there seems to be no rhyme or reason other than ya'lls whim. I'll point out that plenty of your notices include maybe or not sure instead of yes or no because you don't even know yet. So we're supposed to figure out if Chewbacca is more of a celebrity than Earl Butts or Maila Nurmi?

Actually, the part that I hate is that two guys I know nothing about and therefore can't begin to understand, decide on the maybes and not something predictable; the AP comes to mind.

Great analogy. I don't pay any attention to beauty contests and I only care about wet t-shirt contests to see the titties. But the problem is, nobody ever cares who wins those things. It's a display, not a contest.

This is a very valid point. I like games, not contests. Hence me leaving.

I was a better writer than most of the people in my classes. When I got a lesser grade because the teacher didn't like my subject, it pissed me off. (Happened a lot. I can be an interesting fellow.) I had an art teacher fail me on an essay once because my critique of a painting was negative. She told me afterward that it was supposed to be a positive review. Subjective+undefined=bullshit.

You're exactly right, but completely off the point. YOU REWARD THE OBSCURE. Again, not your intention, but a fact.

So why keep score? Why award a prize? Why award points for unique picks? Why not just make it a news-letter with occasionally amusing anecdotes about the deceased. Like it or not, you made it a competition. Myself, I participate with others I know and we compete against each other. I'm not trying to win money. I'm trying to beat Simpson's Stiffs.

Life goes on. SS and I will continue on our rivalry elsewhere. I'll continue to receive your notices as a pop-culture happening, as you suggest. They do occasionally make me laugh. It's more often the yes, no, yes part that does it, though. Hell, I might even drop you guys a line sometime. Trying to convince people that they're wrong has been a life long pursuit of mine. Shame I'm not better at it. The world could be so much better.

In spite of it all, you're a pretty funny fellow Van Phouc. We like that in a Dr.

I love your opening page artwork of Frank Sinatra. Do you know did the painting?

Oddly enough, no. RANDY:
I only ask because I commissioned the piece in 1996 for a magazine called Exposure. The artists name is Greg Spalenka ( Love your site!

Well we're very pleased you like the page and thanks greatly for the info on the artist.

I just finished reading that extensive back and forth with someone named Kerry.

I just want to let all Death Watchers out there to:

Let the GUYS at the O.B.E. run the O.B.E. as they see fit. Stop emailing them and complaining about the "who is a celebrity and who isn't a celebrity" stuff. The GUYS created the pool with a certain intent. The GUYS want to get the pool back to there original intent. It is their pool and they should make the rules as they see fit. DONE. FINISHED. KAPUT! We are approaching 2009 and let's just focus on picking CELEBRITIES and have fun.

There....I said what I wanted to say.

Ya know, we love you!

How's it going? Long time no talk.

I just wanted to inform you fine gentlemen that myself (exoendo) and my counterpart (zuzubar) have gone ahead and made our own little death watch:

How many times in your life are you able to count where you have inspired people? Not too many probably, right? Well now it's time to check that off the list. It's all because of you (and the fact that we have almost unlimited time on our hands) that we were able to do this.

Of course, exoendozuzubar (supergods) will continue to play your wonderful little death watch as well, so we are not going anywhere. But since you are always giving money away to us ingrates, what better way to give back to you then allow you to have some fun again?

Best of luck.. you rock.

you guys have to put buddy miles and mitch mitchel up on the dead folks

Obviously, when it comes to defining celebrities for our little Death Watch, you're not experienced and you have never been experienced......

Just doing my end of year research and I noticed that one of my entrants, Clay Felker (founder of New York Magazine), died of natural causes on July 1, 2008. Now I realize that you will poo-poo a pick such as this in 2009, but this is still 2008 and as such I will ride off into the sunset with my cheesy pic tucked deftly under my left arm while I yell out "Suck it!".

We'll get on this with the next update!

To me Sunny Von Bulow was the the most unique celebrity ever - she spent more than 1/2 her life as just another rich divorcee. It took an irreversible coma to bring her to celebrity status - from there on out, her life was rewound in the tabliods - each bad decision made by her, Klaus, and the kids. Anna Nicole's tale was nothing compared to what Sunny could have told - except Sunny couldn't tell.

I searched Sales of a Deathman's list and I have been unable to find the 6th dead person. This would mean Goatsucker is still in the lead. I checked all the living people on his team and Wiki said they were all alive. Please check into the matter.

Oh no. Not one of these OBE database screw ups. That means we gotta check all the lists. YIKES!

Just saw on a website that Jerry Wexler died on August 15th of this year. Not that it catapults us into first, but hey, you never know who may drop the next couple of weeks.

(I need to get a life and fast!)

Bo Diddley should be worth 3, not 2.

Oh Boy. We'll look into that. Oh Boy. We'll look into that.

I tried clicking the donation icon on the home page and keep getting an error message. I’m sure that’s not in your best interest.

Anyway, I’ll keep checking back to see if PayPal is working. It could be why your donations are down.

Hey there... thanks for trying... not sure why some folks get an error message and some have no problem...

It may depend on the browser type you use... we just tested with Firefox and had no problem...

Be sure to enter an amount and then click update and login.

The easiest would be to login into your paypal and just issue payment to thus skipping the middleman...

In either case, thanks for thinking of us!

And good luck in the pool!

Harold Pinter Mark Felt - I’m sure you have these already, just in case though...

Yep... but isn't it more tongue in cheek to say it this way.... Mark Felt Harold Pinter... get it, tongue in cheek... ewwwww.... KEVIN M.:
Harold Pinter Mark Felt - I’m sure you have these already, just in case though...

Hah! That is great!!

List in the mail tonight, with cash! Love the changes you are making, love it. It’s the true spirit of the game---hear the name and know if they are famous or not.

PS the Front Porch is a great bar, if you’re talking about the one in Hawthorne... THE GUYS:
We try... thanks for the list and of course the cash... and thanks for the nod on the changes... it ain't easy man... sheesh... we are trying to streamline the game for ease and fun... we will also be instituting a forum for better player interaction for the upcoming year... if you'd like to get a sneak peek and be the first member to sign up surf on over to
HERE! and join us... as always, it's free...

As for the Front Porch... we remember the 99 Club with great pride and affection... yep.. our names are on the wall baby!

There I is, all registered. Thanks!

Everything looks real good so far. Best of luck this year; let’s hope once you open your doors it isn’t like the Long Island Wal-Mart…..though, it being the internet I’m sure someone will have something to say about something…

Front Porch—nice! Though these days for me it’s easier to get to the Shepherd & the Knucklehead from work in Wayne….but, I’m do for a Porch visit soon.

We are trying to get our picks in for the 2009 pool and are confused by exemption rule #5. Can you please clarify if a pick like Ariel Sharon is valid - he is famous for something other than being on life support, so it seems that he is a valid pick, but we thought that last year it was stated that he was not an ok pick. Please let us know.

Sorry we didn't get to you until now. However, we've been kinda busy with the pool and we don't answer these types of questions pre-entry. We think if you click on Frank's picture on the main page, you'll see your answer was there all along.

I just thought I'd let you know... if no one else has already... that you've got the wrong picture for Majel Barrett. The picture you have is actually Grace Lee Whitney who played Yeoman Janice Rand. I've attached a photo of Majel Barrett as Nurse Christine Chapel. Hope this helps.

I'm not enrolled in your game anymore. But you might want to consider changing the picture next to Majel Barrett's obit. Any Trekkie can tell you that is the picture of Grace Lee Whitney who is very much alive.

Hey, I'm not a "trekkie" but I think you've got the wrong picture there, that is Grace Lee Whitney, and she was hot !!!!!

Yeah, yeah. It was a side by side shot and we cropped the wrong side. Sorry.

Jean Delannoy died on June 19, 2008.

Thanks, we'll see about making that correction.

Back to the Archives