A Life, Abridged

Having the Final Word
About What We’ve Done

Remarkable sendoffs. Or virtual tombstones. And like the graveyard kind, not everyone will have one. To wrap the experience of living with a sharp focus, few things are more revealing that an obituary. That’s why many are now writing their own.
A well-composed death notice makes even those who knew the person feel special. And jealous if they hadn’t. A favorite of newspaper readers, is not for the feeble neophyte or the phony-flowery scriber. But two of the most remarkable here were self penned.
An obituary is designed to outlive the deceased, but many have beaten it at its own game, and survived it to tell the story. (Somehow, Monty Python comes to mind.) Or Mark Twain, even though that ‘reports of my death were greatly exaggerated‘ quote is, well, a misquote.
He was victim of one of the earliest mistakes about somebody’s passing, and had a chance to have a laugh about it. It still happens: in what became known as the ‘CNN Incident,’ a bunch of celebrities were all declared ‘dead‘ in April 2003.
Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela, and even Dick Cheney, which was called the ‘U.K.’s favorite grandmother,’ was among them. Parts of a 2002 demise notice of England’s Queen Mother were used for their pre-obituaries, and prematurely leaked online.

THE PREFAB & THE QUIRKY
It was an accident, but quite possible: newspapers keep a database of celebrity obituaries ready for when they pass on. Nine years before her death, Queen Mum herself had already had her own untimely death aired by the Australian media.
From the man who said ‘god is dead,’ William Hamilton (whose notice was greeted by a few devilish ‘thank gods‘), to the woman who had more titles than anyone, according to the Guinness, (and 25 names), La Duquesa de Alba, the afterword is often all we’ll ever hear of them.
King of Cat BurglarsPeter Scott, or Madeline Gins, an architect who had ‘decided not to die,’ are two gems of lives we wouldn’t know about it hadn’t been for a few sentences published when they died.

THE RIGHT TO FINAL EDIT
It’s no mystery that writing your own obituary is becoming popular; everything in this era seems to be about promoting a social idea of oneself. It’s just the latest way to control the narrative, and prevent a silly act, or a crime, from seizing a lifetime of trying to look good.
It’s a selfie made up of words, a bit more elaborated than the ancient epitaph (Colltales has a ton here). But its aim is the (more)
_______
Read Also:
* Final Cut
* The Hypothesis
* Before Afterlife
* Ways to Go
Continue reading

A Life, Abridged

Having the Final Word
About What We’ve Done

Remarkable sendoffs. Or virtual tombstones. And like the graveyard kind, not everyone will have one. To wrap the experience of living with a sharp focus, few things are more revealing that an obituary. That’s why many are now writing their own.
A well-composed death notice makes even those who knew the person feel special. And jealous if they hadn’t. A favorite of newspaper readers, is not for the feeble neophyte or the phony-flowery scriber. But two of the most remarkable here were self penned.
An obituary is designed to outlive the deceased, but many have beaten it at its own game, and survived it to tell the story. (Somehow, Monty Python comes to mind.) Or Mark Twain, even though that ‘reports of my death were greatly exaggerated‘ quote is, well, a misquote.
He was victim of one of the earliest mistakes about somebody’s passing, and had a chance to have a laugh about it. It still happens: in what became known as the ‘CNN Incident,’ a bunch of celebrities were all declared ‘dead‘ in April 2003.
Fidel Castro, Nelson Mandela, and even Dick Cheney, which was called the ‘U.K.’s favorite grandmother,’ was among them. Parts of a 2002 demise notice of England’s Queen Mother were used for their pre-obituaries, and prematurely leaked online.

THE PREFAB & THE QUIRKY
It was an accident, but quite possible: newspapers keep a database of celebrity obituaries ready for when they pass on. Nine years before her death, Queen Mum herself had already had her own untimely death aired by the Australian media.
From the man who said ‘god is dead,’ William Hamilton (whose notice was greeted by a few devilish ‘thank gods‘), to the woman who had more titles than anyone, according to the Guinness, (and 25 names), La Duquesa de Alba, the afterword is often all we’ll ever heard of them.
The ‘King of Cat Burglars,’ Peter Scott, or Madeline Gins, an architect who had ‘decided not to die,’ are two gems of lives most people wouldn’t know about it, hadn’t been for these few sentences published when they died.

THE RIGHT TO FINAL EDIT
It’s no mystery that writing your own obituary is becoming popular; everything in this era seems to be about promoting a social idea of oneself. It’s just the latest way to control the narrative, and prevent a silly act, or a crime, from seizing a lifetime of trying to look good.
It’s a selfie made up of words, a bit more elaborated than the ancient epitaph (Colltales has a ton here). But its aim is the (more)
_______
Read Also:
* The Hypothesis
* Before Afterlife
* Ways to Go
Continue reading

Wacky Dates

Pick a Day & Give It a Spin,
So Life Won’t Grow Too Stale

Calendars would be a boring way of marking time if we didn’t assign each day with a different meaning. In fact, some days no longer fit within a regular sequence of numbers and need to be movable, so to fulfill their main function: making us forget the inexorability of time.
Then again, holidays, specially those named after people and events, are also boring. Thus the wacky dates we pick to honor an odd occurrence, or a rare fetish, even an artifact made memorable by a work of fiction.
Tomorrow is Hug Your Cat Day, for instance. In the U.S., pretty much every day of the calendar has been appropriated, often unduly, by a war battle, a religious imperative, or perhaps worst, an industry seeking exposure. Boring, boring, boring. And let’s not get started with those for which many make a wise point in skipping altogether.
But finding a way to make a day feel different – apart from the reality that, indeed, no two are alike even though it all feels the same to most – is not an American monopoly. Around the world, people memorialize the weird, the bizarre, and the quirky, as if their hold on life depends on it.
It’s also human to name things, moments, even parts of one’s anatomy. It all fits within the confines of that other inexorability: sameness, or our fear of succumbing to it, and disappearing without trace. Which winds up happening any way, in one way or another.
But some of these out of the ordinary dates extrapolate not just that sameness, but also the 24-hour expiration time of each day, either spilling into a festival, or taking place at different places, so to make sure everyone gets in that opportunity to stand out.
Curiously, festivals such La Tomatina, which is a late August movable feast that looks like a pagan orgy in red, have the exact opposite effect: who can be singled out in a sea of bodies digging in the mud of smashed tomatoes? So much for a collective longing to be unique.

A DAY TO NOT STAND STILL
But mostly, whacky holidays are created in the spirit of fun, including the Indian Cow Procession Day (Nov.8) or the Thai Monkey Buffet Festival (Nov. 28), despite their sanctimonious pseudo-homage to animals. In the end, they could as well dive into the mud just for the sake of it.
Others, if not spectacularly dull like Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day (Jan.17), are at least kind of sophomoric such as Pillow Fight Day (April 4). And then there are those loaded with political correctness, such as the Buy Nothing Day, a nemesis for the ignominious Black Friday. No fun.
Of course they don’t come close to the ominousness of Meteor Day (Nov.6, and you know what it means). Instead, the rest of us would rather side up with the jocose, semi-fictitious Festivus (Dec.23) and, just for good measure, be totally, unwaveringly biased towards Global Orgasm Day (Dec.22).

IF IT QUACKS LIKE A DUCK
A favorite of quirky minds, and perhaps one with the best subtext among our mundane ephemeris, is the upcoming Dead Duck Day (June 5), which marks a scientific breakthrough: the ‘first case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard.’ The back story is funnier than that, though.
It all started in 1995, when a male duck crashed against the glass wall of the Rotterdam Natural History Museum and died on the spot. Then, to the astonishment of everyone, another male mounted the corpse of the bird and proceed to copulate with it for 75 minutes straight!
The unusual event, and origin of the quacky, er, Continue reading