Michael Jackson, Farrah Fawcett, Ed McMahon

Death in Threes?

Whether cosmic or coincidence, this week Apocalypzia is reminded of the continuing discussion concerning the apparent synchronicity of celebrity deaths.

Associated Content
Celebrities Die in Threes Many Believe; the Meaning of Three

Deaths in Threes: Is There Any Truth to This

The FDH Lounge
Celebrity deaths in threes

Art's Strange World
Celebrity Deaths

Farewell Tour...

michael jackson
Michael Jackson
1958 - 2009

farrah fawcett
Farrah Fawcett
1947 - 2009

ed macmahon
Ed McMahon
1923 - 2009

Let's Play Break the Bank!

game show

It's a fairly common element of almost every game show.

The contestant has earned enough prize money in regular play to go for fast money in the bonus round. The rules are a little different here. The contestant can either bank her winnings after a correct answer or risk it all on a followup question.

If she gets it right, she doubles her money. If she gets it wrong, she loses it all and goes back to $0.

Deal or No Deal.

She has to give this a lot of thought because the wrong choice could cost her big time. If she's too cautious she could leave money on the table. But if she's overly confident, she could lose everything.

Her decision has consequences. If it didn't, she would go for the big money every time.

Economic Meltdown: 2008.
It appears that even TV game show moguls Goodson and Todman could have designed a better global financial system than the one that collapsed under its own weight in the fall of 2008.

They would have certainly known that giving people the chance to make money without possibility of consequence would have quickly gotten out of hand.

But the financiers, mortgage originators and real estate brokers in our unfortunate home game version of Break the Bank last fall had no consequential constraints. If they made a bad deal, the money lost wasn't theirs, it was ours. They could double down on every play, with nothing at risk and nothing to lose.

That's a gourmet recipe for disaster, as we all came to painfully find out.

Advice from Apocalypzia: Restrain from entrusting what is precious to you to someone who won't feel equal or greater pain if it's lost.

The Panic Merchants

war on wealth

Apocalypzia believes there's enough bad news out there without piling it on.

Standing at the threshold of the third quarter of a difficult year, it's discouraging to see For Lease signs in so many store windows, and there continues to be a lot of talk on the web about store closings. But if we've learned anything in the apocalyptic post-bailout world, it's that we should be careful about who's telling us what.

Maybe you received that email way back before Christmas advising you not to buy gift cards from a list of stores that would soon close or cut back. Snopes.com did confirm some of the information in that email but, more importantly, some of the references to store closings didn't bear out.

for lease
Fabulous & Frugal: Bail Outs, Stimulus packages, Recession, Oh My!

Retail Controversy
Against the backdrop of the historic April 2009 bankruptcy of shopping mall developer, General Growth Properties, there's also controversy about planned retail closings in 2009. Some analysts believe the numbers quoted are too high.

And recently the website 24/7 Wall Street announced 12 brands that will disappear before the end of 2010. Maybe they will, maybe they won't.

Does this kind of crystal ball speculation help or hurt?

It's Official: Jump the Shark Has Jumped the Shark


Jump Street...
When Fonzie ski-jumped a shark it was a mortal blow from which ABC's Happy Days never really recovered. Jon Hein immortalized Fonzie's stunt with jumptheshark.com, a ragtag, irreverent and refreshing interactive TV chat site that changed the culture.

As Hein, originally explained it, there is sometimes a defining moment in a TV series that is a decisive turning point. It is a moment at which quality shifts inexorably to terminal mediocrity.

This change is often showcased by some bizarre out-of-character event, like a tough guy from the backstreets of Milwaukee jumping over a shark on water-skis, wearing a leather jacket.

That was the moment that Happy Days, literally and figuratively, jumped the shark.

Jumptheshark.com became a vibrant, user-driven website where people shared ideas and opinions about the rise-to-fall moment of TV shows from Desperate Housewives all the way back to I Love Lucy.

(Was Miami Vice ever the same after they blew up the 1973 Midnight Black Ferrari Daytona Spyder?)

Sold to TV Guide
But in 2006, the site was sold to Gemstar's TV Guide. The site's beloved dishelved look was replaced with a gussied-up version, peppered with ads for the very TV series being trashed in the chat.

No longer a true feedback channel to Hollywood, Jon Hein's magnificent creation was suddenly in the belly of the beast. But the worst, however, was yet to come.

Jumptheshark.com just takes you to tvguide.com/jumptheshark now -- a superslick corporate website with an ArmorAll sheen, authored by professionals, with all the punch and edginess of the fawning zap2it.com. Oh, you can still post comments to the articles, but it's just not the same.

Now that jump the shark has been pretty much flushed, what new phrase can capture our imagination?

Nuke the fridge just didn't have any traction, did it?

The Burj Dubai Raises the Roof

Burj Dubai

The Burj Dubai.
It's already the largest structure in the world, and if all goes according to plan, sometime in 2009 it will officially become the world's tallest building.

How Tall is It?
It's very, very tall. Until it's topped off no one knows for sure but for the sake of reasonable speculation, if you put the Empire State Building on top of the Sears (soon-to-be Willis) Tower, the Burj Dubai might still have you beat. It will be in the range of half a mile high. That's tall.

ABC's Good Morning America recently reviewed progress:

Tall buildings are about posturing as much a architecture. Dubai is announcing their arrival on the world stage by screaming from the highest rooftop possible.

Skyscaper, a reference to the nautical term for tall masts, became the nickname for the tall buildings that changed the Chicago and New York City skylines in the early 20th century. But the US no longer stands head and shoulders above other nations on this score. The center of gravity for skyscrapers has shifted first to Asia and now tilts toward the Middle East.

The Top Ten List
Of the top ten tallest buildings in the world, only two -- the Sears/Willis Tower (owned by a British firm) and the Empire State Building -- are in the US. Six are in China (three of which are in Hong Kong). Of course, the events of 9/11 tragically impacted the world line-up.

In his book, The Post-American World, CNN host Fareed Zakaria talks about culture shock and awe in the US when other nations take the lead in areas where we were once dominant. He sees it not as a cause for alarm but an opportunity to refresh our perspective.

But the Burj Dubai may soon be old news in the looming shadow of the Nakheel Tower (formerly the Al Burj), if and when construction resumes.

How tall might the Nakheel be? No one, including Apocalypzia, knows for sure but some estimates indicate that if you balanced the Sears/Willis Tower on top of the Burj Dubai you might still be 50 stories shy.

That's tall...