10. Keith Richards
Everybody has friends or family or pets that have for years clung to life despite ample evidence that they are or should be in heaven. The phenomenon has infinite avatars and categories: from the frail and elderly to the accident prone to the drugged out, smoking nihilists whose bodies seem comprised largely of nicotine, alcohol, and toast. This week we consider those suspiciously alive people who are members of the collective family.
We wanted to write this list without mentioning the guitarist from our favorite band of all time, but we have to believe it is by some awesome feat of magic or sorcery that Keith Richards's heart still beats.
This is not to take anything away from the man but to honor him more. What Keith has done and seen would have taken out most men a dozen times over.
9. Abe Vigoda
I suppose we're just getting the obvious out of the way here. In 1982 (1982!), People magazine ran a story in which Abe Vigoda was described as ''the late Abe Vigoda''.
This led to a widespread belief that Vigoda was dead, a fact that Vigoda claims killed his career - which may or may not be true, as, well, the world of film and television has kind of gone on without him since.
Internet searches reveal that he is still alive. While we are generally skeptical of things we read online, we feel we do not have enough information to doubt or believe this rumor and therefore reserve our neutrality.
8. Dick Enberg and Bud Collins
As the time for Wimbledon again comes around, so too does it become time to welcome into our homes the undead tandem of Dick Enberg and Bud Collins. Again, we must suffer through sentimental and gauzy reminiscences and cheesy human-interest tales.
Again, we must tolerate the anachronistic exclamations, the over-enthusiastic platitudes, the ambling digressions. We do it out of love, of course, even if we're not really sure that Enberg and Collins aren't just robot versions of themselves, their stories and words pieced together from decades-old recordings, their studio avatars just highly-sophisticated animatronics.
7. Sammy Sosa
When Sammy Sosa showed up in photographs having visibly, um, whitened, a lot of rumors started going around that he was bleaching his skin. We have it on authority, however, that he was bitten in a graveyard in New Orleans and is now avoiding daylight.
6. Gary Busey
Every time Gary Busey shows up in a film or TV, we are afraid we are about to watch somebody's brain get eaten. It's those chompers, yes, and the very, very unsettling look in his eyes, a look of faraway emptiness and desolation, cold as the grave itself. But it's also that Gary Busey is just scary. Like he has been to some dark, dark place mortals never go and has come back, not quite mortal, and certainly not quite friendly.
5. Steven Tyler
Have you noticed the strangely-behaved, Crypt Keeper-like woman who sits on the panel of judges for American Idol? Did you know that is the same lady who was once the dude who looked like a lady who sang for Aerosmith? The world is a scary place, full of ghosts and goblins and creepy living-dead lady-men.
4. Courtney Love
There is a strange phenomenon related to the overuse of plastic surgery that makes people's otherwise normal, healthy faces seem like monster masks.
Sometimes when you look at these people they seem very sympathetic and sad, and you just know their hearts are laden with regret. Then there are those other times when it seems the real person has been taken somewhere and replaced by another creature who only crudely resembles the original, a creature whose intentions cannot be deciphered though they instill fear in all who fall under its gaze.
This is what happened to Courtney Love.
3. Pat Sajak and Vanna White
The huge spinning circle and atmosphere of saturated colors and bland, convivial sounds proffered by Wheel of Fortune have been lulling households of Americans for two hundred years.
You enter the strange wonderworld of Pat Sajak and Vanna White and for a time are in a place of timelessness and illusion, where nobody ever ages and mediocre dreams come true forever and ever.
What would Americans do if Pat Sajak and Vanna White showed signs of mortality? You heard it here first: the US government funds a program to keep Pat and Vanna the same age. It is a matter of homeland security.
2. Dick Cheney
And what about the US government, that veritable graveyard, where some days you can barely hear the laws being hashed out over the moaning and chewing of the living dead.
But even among our current crop of zombie legislators, one exemplar of the living dead seems to loom biggest in our nightmares: Dick Cheney (aka He Who Must Not Be Named). What is Dick Cheney?
What does he want from us? Why does he shoot his friends in the heart? Why does he look like he knows he is about to eat us when he smiles?
1. Kim Jong-il
And while we're on the subject of governments, our thoughts can't help but turn to notable ghouls who lead countries all over the globe. Fidel. Mugabe. Mubarak (until recently).
And our favorite scary undead leader, the one who seems most comprised of plastic and doctored photography? Kim Jong-il. Even if he were still alive, how would we know for sure?