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Going maskless, Arizona madness, birthdays, more memes
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Published Wednesday, April 28, 2021 @ 12:56 AM EDT
Apr 28 2021

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention eased its guidelines Tuesday on the wearing of masks outdoors, saying fully vaccinated Americans don’t need to cover their faces anymore unless they are in a big crowd of strangers. So we grabbed the dogs and some grandkids and headed to the park to enjoy the 80° temperatures.

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A so-called audit of the 2020 election in Arizona was always going to be crazy. This is something else. The counting has just begun, but already the audit has become almost inextricable from the far-right internet. There, audit-watchers share tips and concerns about security offered by Ron Watkins, a man suspected of helping birth the QAnon craze.

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Thought of the day: "I think perhaps the most important problem is that we are trying to understand the fundamental workings of the universe via a language devised for telling one another where the best fruit is."
-Terry Pratchett (b. Terence David John Pratchett on April 28, 1948 – March 12, 2015) (More Terry Pratchett quotes)

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Among other things, today is Biological Clock Day, Clean Comedy Day, Denim Day, Great Poetry Reading Day, International Guide Dog Day, International Noise Awareness Day, International Pay it Forward Day, National Blueberry Pie Day, National Cubicle Day, National Kiss Your Mate Day, National Superhero Day, Stop Food Waste Day, Workers' Memorial Day, and World Day for Safety and Health at Work.

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Remembering Lee Falk (b. Leon Harrison Gross; April 28, 1911 – March 13, 1999), American writer, theater director and producer, best known as the creator of the popular comic strips Mandrake the Magician (1934–2013) and The Phantom (1936–present). At the height of their popularity, these strips attracted over 100 million readers every day.

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Remembering Harper Lee (b. Nelle Harper Lee; April 28, 1926 – February 19, 2016), novelist best known for her 1960 novel "To Kill a Mockingbird", which won the 1961 Pulitzer Prize and has become a classic of modern American literature. (Quotes by Harper Lee)

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Remembering Carolyn Jones (b. Carolyn Sue Jones; April 28, 1930 – August 3, 1983) American actress of television and film. Jones began her film career in the early 1950s, and by the end of the decade had achieved recognition with a nomination for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for "The Bachelor Party" (1957) and a Golden Globe Award as one of the most promising new actresses of 1959. Her film career continued for another 20 years. In 1964, she began playing the role of Morticia Addams in the original black and white television series The Addams Family.

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On this day in 1930, the Independence Producers hosted the first night_game in the history of organized baseball in Independence, Kansas.

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Remembering Madge Sinclair (b. Madge Dorita Walters on April 28, 1938 – December 20, 1995) Jamaican actress best known for her roles in "Cornbread, Earl and Me" (1975), "Convoy" (1978), "Coming to America" (1988), Trapper John, M.D. (1980–1986), and the ABC TV miniseries "Roots" (1977). Sinclair also voiced the character of Sarabi, Mufasa's wife and Simba's mother, in the Disney animated feature film "The Lion King" (1994). A five-time Emmy Award nominee, Sinclair won the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress – Drama Series for her role as Empress Josephine in Gabriel's Fire in 1991. Sinclair, in her brief uncredited role as the captain of the USS Saratoga in "Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home", is commonly cited as the first female Starfleet starship captain to appear in Star Trek. Years later, Sinclair played Geordi La Forge's mother, captain of the USS Hera, in Star Trek: The Next Generation's "Interface".

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Ann-Margret (b. Ann-Margret Olsson on April 28, 1941) is 80 today.

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On this day in 1947, Thor Heyerdahl and five crew mates set out from Peru on the Kon-Tiki to demonstrate that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia.

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Jay Leno (b. James Douglas Muir Leno on April 28, 1950) is 71 today. (Jay Leno quotes)



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On this date in 1965, CBS aired the special "My Name Is Barbra," Barbra Streisand's first television special. A solo performance, she sang 26 songs during the one hour program. The show was nominated for six Primetime Emmy Awards in 1965, for which it won five. Streisand won the award for "Outstanding Individual Achievements in Entertainment." It also won the Directors Guild of America Award for "Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Television" in 1966.

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On this date in 1973, The Dark Side of the Moon by Pink Floyd, recorded at Abbey Road Studios reached number one on the US Billboard 200 chart, beginning a record-breaking 971-week chart run. The album is in the top 25 of the list of best-selling albums in the United States. Although it held the number one spot in the US for only a week, it remained in the Billboard album chart from 1973 to 1988. The album re-appeared on the Billboard charts with the introduction of the Top Pop Catalog Albums chart in May 1991. (Older "catalog albums" had been dropped from the weekly list between May 1999 and December 2009). In the UK, it is the seventh-best-selling album of all time and the highest selling album never to reach number one.

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"Florida hasn't always been the weird state claims the book "The Thing About Florida" which was written by, er, a Florida man. Speaking of Florida, here's a stupendous obituary from the Tampa Bay Times.

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Memes of the day:


Categories: Ann-Margret, Barbra Streisand, Baseball, Carolyn Jones, CDC, Covid-19, Florida, Harper Lee, Jay Leno, Kon-Tiki, Madge Sinclair, Meme of the day, Obituaries, Pink Floyd, QAnon, Republicans, Star Trek, Terry Pratchett, The Big Lie, The Dark Side of the Moon, Thor Heyerdahl


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Do not go gently, but please do be brief.
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Published Monday, May 21, 2018 @ 8:07 AM EDT
May 21 2018

One of the first- and surprisingly most important- skills I had to learn 47 years ago as a 17 year old cub reporter at a small daily newspaper was to transcribe obits.

Obituaries, that is. Paid death notices, called in by local funeral directors, often just a few minutes before the deadline for the day's edition.

Very, very few local people ranked a news obit at our paper. You had to be special- an elected official, a former athlete, a beloved numbers writer- to warrant editorial recognition of your passing. Even then, there'd usually just be a brief headline, a picture pulled from the files, and something along the lines of "The community is mourning the passing yesterday of so and so, a respected teacher and coach... See the obituary listings on page six."

Obits were- and remain- an essential, indispensable source of revenue for newspapers. Along with legal notices and the ever-shrinking classified ad pages, paid death notices generate much more money per inch than display advertising. And depending upon the average age of a publication's subscribers, the obits could also have more readers than the other, "real news" sections of the paper, possibly excepting the comics page. I recall that on days with no deaths and no published obits, word got around the community quickly and our newsstand sales for the day would actually decline.

My first day as a reporter at the "rim" of the city desk- a big, semicircular hunk of metal and vinyl furniture, with the editor esconced in the center (the "slot") and reporters seated around the outside- did not begin as I had expected. There was no lecture on ethics, the handling of sources, a review of the AP Style Book, or other journalistic exercises. The very first thing the city editor impressed upon me was the vital importance of taking obits over the phone.

Why make reporters take the obits, and not the classified department? In the unlikely event the deceased was someone of import, we'd know about it first. But mainly, management asserted those of us in editorial were the fastest, most accurate typists, would make the least mistakes, and would be more likely to hustle an obit down to graphics in time to meet deadline and generate billing for that day. Money was an important consideration. As my city editor made quite clear to me, the one-day publication of the death notice of an individual with lots of kids and grandkids- requiring the purchase of several column inches of space- would pay my salary and mileage expenses for an entire week. A newspaper is a business, after all.

When the phone rang in editorial and it was a local funeral director on the line, you put the police chief or mayor or your mother on hold immediately, stuffed a new sheet of paper in your manual Royal, and typed like mad.

My first day I think I did three obits, thereby justifying my existence and engendering a feeling of self-achievement. That lasted until about 2 p.m., when the paper hit the streets and I got the call from a furious funeral director.

"Look at that obit," he fumed. I shuffled to the page and found the listing. "Read it," he demanded.

"John Doe, 75, of Homestead, died Novem-"

"Stop!" he yelled. "What's that word in there after Homestead?"

"Died," I replied.

"Died," he repeated, his voice dripping with sarcasm. "It's the effing obituary column, you idiot. What the hell else would he be doing? Shooting hoops? Let me talk to your boss. Now."

I forwarded him on and sat there, genuinely puzzled at the outburst. A few minutes later, the city editor called me into a bare, vacant office adjacent to the newsroom.

"Bet you're wondering what the big deal is with that obit, huh?" he asked, not unkindly. I sat there in silence and nodded in bewildered agreement.

"Okay, it's like this. The funeral home business around here is pretty cut-throat, what with all the old people and competing parlors. Some offer special package deals- coffin, embalming, viewing, publishing the obit, hearse rental, everything- for a fixed price. By adding the word 'died', which he swears he didn't say to you, the obit ran one line deeper, which cost him like another ten bucks or so which, he emphasized, came straight off his bottom line. I told him we wouldn't charge him for the extra line, and that while I wouldn't fire you since you're new, I'd be sure to put the fear of God in you, which I assume I've done."

I shook my head again. He smiled and chuckled. "Don't sweat it, kid. You did okay for your first day. But from now on, you read the copy back to him and get him to approve it before you send it downstairs. Keep it as short as possible, and go easy on the punctuation marks, too. He complained about too many commas in his listings last week."

On the few occasions since my newspaper days that I've had the sad and unfortunate responsibility to write an obituary, I recall that first day on the job and the lessons learned. True, I've loosened up a bit. For the sake of readability, I don't skip on modifiers and articles, and I use complete sentences. Frugality does not trump coherency, and what's another 20 bucks or so? You only die once, may as well splurge a bit.

Due to my recent experience, for the past several weeks I've been reading through the paid death notices in the local papers, fascinated by their evolution since my professional involvement four decades ago. The new euphemisms, phrasings, magniloquence, and verbosity of modern obituaries are impressive.

It is interesting to note the term "obituary" is itself a tortured euphemism of sorts. One of the interpretations of its Latin root word "obit" is, indeed, death. But its first meaning is the act of going toward something, to approach, encounter, or visit. Its second is the process of descending, setting, or sunset. Death ranks a lowly third. This form of linguistic contortionism is still common today. Consider pass, expire, terminate, depart, move on, croak, etc. All of these words can describe death or dying, but it's not the primary definition of any of them.

My favorite circumlocution on the subject, which one could describe as almost poetic (if not for its source) comes from the famous Monty Python Dead Parrot sketch: "...he's shuffled off his mortal coil, run down the curtain, and joined the choir invisible." It also contains the assertion that the bird in question, "a Norwegian Blue", had not expired, but was rather "pining for the fjords," a phrase ingrained deeply enough within our zeitgeist that it's the title of a scholarly paper bemoaning the use of indirect terms referencing death.

But I digress.

In addition to the "departure verb" or description, the modern obit often features a mind-numbing litany of the individual's life. Some of these descriptions can be considered perhaps too brief, but most offend wildly in the other direction.

I suspect family members and survivors who ramble on in their social media posts are stunned when they receive a due on receipt, four-figure invoice from the funeral director or newspaper. What else could be expected from breathlessly recounting, in excruciating detail, the last ten years of dearly departed Nana's social and recreational activities at the assisted living facility, as well as listing the names of every miniature poodle she'd ever owned? And what was the reason for mentioning her recent in-hospital treatment for chlamydia? We all know there are no koalas in Turtle Creek. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink, eh? (Another Python reference).

In any event, here are some memorable phrases I've transcribed from paid death notices recently. No offense intended. I'm certain they were sincere in context.

...accidentally, while having the time of his life. (What was it that he was doing? It sounds as if it was something that should be avoided.)

...after a long, grueling battle with alcoholism. (Whose alcoholism? Whose batttle? Who found it grueling? Was this really necessary, or one last passive-agressive outburst?)

...after an extended illness, surrounded by his family, left home with the angels. (One assumes the angels dropped the family off somewhere en route.)

...shortly after the celebration of her 100th birthday ("You do not need to take a shot for each year, Grandma.")

...after long illnesses, including heart disease, diabetes and frontal temporal lobe dementia (When I read ones like this, I don't know if the family is expressing sympathy for the departed or relief for themselves.)

...after saying, 'Take me home, Jesus.' (Unfortunately, the Jesus in question was his Uber driver.)

...at age 95 (looks good for her age) (Well, not any more.)

...ascended to heaven, breathed her last breath and went peacefully to God's eternal home and into the arms of her husband, daughter, and son. (These always strike me as presumptuous, for some reason. And I think they got the sequence wrong.)

...born on the Feast of the Guardian Angels and was taken home on their wings. (Feast... wings... eww...)

...bravely faced death in the arms of his devoted wife. (Let's hope she didn't have him in a chickenwing over-the-shoulder crossface hold.)

...died peacefully beside his one and only true and forever love, his wife. (Please tell us they were home in bed.)

...died peacefully in his favorite chair. (I wouldn't mind going that way.)

...donned his wings. (This makes me think of Michael Keaton in "Birdman.")

...escaped this mortal realm. (Sounds like a Bifrost-related subplot from a Marvel "Thor" movie.)

...finally, after succumbing to illness. ("Finally"? Man, that's harsh.)

...found peace and rest after 36 years of a courageous and uncomplaining battle with a cerebral venous malformation. (If he didn't complain, why bring it up now?)

...has gone home. (This euphemism has always bothered me as well. Home is where the good wi-fi and dogs are. Period.)

He had just finished serving his mom and aunt breakfast in bed and said he was going back to bed to sleep in a bit longer. He died in his sleep. (Thereby giving his mom and aunt a sense of guilt that will haunt them the rest of their days. Thanks for reminding them.)

Her loving family sent her home to be with her mother, father, brothers, and sister. (Did she die, or did you just kick her out of the apartment above the garage?)

...joined his friends for their eternal golf matches. (According to those who played behind them, their matches down here seemed eternal as well.)

...made her transition at her residence. ("made her transition at her residence" vs. "died at home"? Someone's getting a kickback from the newspaper.)

...passed away and joined her late ex-husband. (Are we talking about heaven here? From whose perspective?)

...passed away on Christmas night, following a seven year battle with frontotemporal dementia. (The "Touched By An Angel" school of obit writing.)

...passed from this earth to a more beautiful and peaceful place. Leaving far too soon, his life cut way too short, he touched many lives and left the world and us better for his having been here. (You know, we remember "The Big Chill" too.)

...peacefully, after a long descent. (Descent? Hot air balloon? Airbus 380? Everest?)

...peacefully moved on to his next adventure. (Let's hope the next one ends better.)

...received a command from her Lord. She now resides in heaven and has been chosen to sing in God the Father's choir (Thanks for voting in "Heaven's Got Talent"!)

The Universe has shifted. (I'd like to see the math on that, please.)

...unexpectedly, doing what she loved at camp. (Please, for the love of God, say no more...)

...was called (adverb) by (some supernatural entity) to (engage in some empyrean activity). (Some funeral directors apparently use Mad Libs.)

Full disclosure: The author maintains his own obituary, which now stands at 738 words. Hey, I'm getting up there, and I've owned a lot of dogs.


Categories: Death, Newspapers, Obituaries, Passages, The Daily KGB Report


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