Sunday, January 30, 2011
"I once found a little excerpt from Balzac. He speaks about a young writer who stole some of his prose. The thing that almost made me weep, he said, “I was so happy when this young person took from me.” Because that’s what we want. We want you to take from us. We want you, at first, to steal from us, because you can’t steal. You will take what we give you and you will put it in your own voice and that’s how you will find your voice.
And that’s how you begin. And then one day someone will steal from you. And Balzac said that in his book: It makes me so happy because it makes me immortal because I know that 200 years from now there will be people doing things that somehow I am part of. So the answer to your question is: Don’t worry about whether it’s appropriate to borrow or to take or do something like someone you admire because that’s only the first step and you have to take the first step."
Saturday, January 29, 2011
Friday, January 28, 2011
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Saturday, January 15, 2011
[In outer space] you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty. You want to grab a politician by the scruff of the neck and drag him a quarter of a million miles out and say, "Look at that, you son of a bitch."
— Apollo 14 Astronaut Edgar Mitchell
photo from the Kayuga moon probe
Let's be honest, most obituaries are not all that good. The worst part about them is that you are never around to read your own obit and see what a great person you were. Here are some great ideas if you want an exciting obituary that everyone will enjoy reading. As a bonus, you can get even with the people that made fun of you in high school and make a few bucks.
1. Write your own obituary
It is imperative that you write your own obituary or have a trusted friend do it BEFORE you die. If you do not, your Aunt (who has her own blog and fancies herself as a “writer”) will type it up and it will suck and you’ll be stuck with an awful summation of your life.
Once you do finish writing your own obit, make sure you send a draft copy out to all your family and friends so that they can miss you while you are still alive. They will then have the opportunity to pay to be included in the obituary (see section #5) or pay to be excluded from the obituary (see section #8.)
2. Don't give them the satisfaction
Most people will suggest you start off an obit with the person’s name, the date they died and how they died. I suggest you start off with “You are not going to believe this!” or “Guess what that fat f*ck Bob did now” or “You were right.” Don't include your age so that your friends don't get the satisfaction of outliving you.
3. Doug who?
No one knows you by your real name so why die by that name? Nicknames that were used independently of your name go in quotation marks in the middle of your real name.
Robert “Stacks” Gutfruend
Joan “Cookie Monster” McCreedy
Nicknames that were part of your job or the reason you went to jail go before your real name:
“Handsy” Jim Handland
“Luscious Diamond” Tina Ralph
“Tea-Bag” Bill Billingsworth
Or if you don’t want anyone to know you died, just post a fake nickname.
John “Two-Sack” Christopher
If you didn’t have a nickname in real life, make sure you make one up or tell your obit writer your suggestions before you die. And don’t post your middle name. We’re not monogramming a sweater here.
4. Rhyming and haikus make for great obituaries
I suggest trying them together.
You smoked like a fire
Now you're atop a pyre
No flowers please, Thanks!
5. No one cares
No one cares about who died before you or how many cousins you have that are still alive. If your relatives want in your obit, charge them $5 - $10 a mention.
No one cares where you went to school or where you earned your associates degree. List your favorite bars or hang outs. People are more likely to remember Johnny “Cantaloupes” Mullroy from the bowling alley, rather than a graduate of
class of 1988. (Go Gales!) Lancaster High School
6. People like excitement
Don’t die of cancer. Die of a space borne alien parasite.
Don’t die in a car accident. Get hit by a meteorite.
Die a hero (stolen from Royal Tennebaums) "Died Tragically Rescuing his Family From the Wreckage of a Destroyed Sinking Battleship."
And do not fail to give a reason for why you died or people will assume it was from something embarrassing. Everyone knows that a non-mention means "bled to death from a masturbation accident."
7. Get donations now
There are services that will “loan’ you a lump sum of money now and get that money back when you die through the "Please donate to" charity suggested in the obituary. The loan companies have names like, “The Amerikan Heart Foundation” and “The Redd Cross” and “Amway.” At the bottom of your obit, have money sent to them in lieu of flowers. If you can’t come up with enough donations to cover your loan, they will take your suit/dress, coffin and body parts to make up the difference.
8. Let those jerks have it
An Obituary is the perfect time to get back at all the people who have pissed you off your entire life. Being dead is the perfect cover for a lie or to let out a really stinky truth. Here are a few examples:
-I never loved you (insert family member’s name here.)
-Coach Rogers touched me on my pee pee after baseball practice.
-I had herpes. Now I have worms.
-Aunt Tina, I was and always will be a Red Sox fan.
-My G-mail and MySpace password is clicktowin34. Go ahead and read my e-mails, honey.
This is also a perfect opportunity for relatives to make “pre-donations” to be excluded from this portion of the obituary. For $10 now, Uncle Bob won't get outted. For $50 neither will your Uncle Lou whom you found with Uncle Bob.
Here is my Obituary, just so you know:
Doug “Holyjuan” Messerschmit
Well, you can all stop placing your bets. Doug is dead. You won’t see him at B-Hampton’s or at Skully’s anymore, but you can see him Ray’s Funeral Home this Wednesday from 6 – 8pm. The parts of his body that were not destroyed when he dove on top the improvised nuclear device and thus saved the city will be on display. HolyJuan liked to dance poorly, drink quickly, tell the same stories and flirt with the ladies. He owned two bowling shirts and 12 pairs of Converse. He is survived by his parents ($20) and one sister ($5.) Donations can be made to the American Kancer Society and my brother used to stick Legos in my butt while I slept.
Don Ritchie lives across the street from the most famous suicide spot in
: A cliff known as "The Gap." Most people would move, but Ritchie's stayed for almost 50 years—saving an estimated 160 people from suicide. Australia
So what's his big secret? Ritchie wakes up every morning and looks out the window for "anyone standing alone too close to the precipice." If he sees someone who looks like they might be contemplating a jump, he walks over and... strikes up a conversation. He just gives them a warm smile, asks if they'd like to talk and invites them back to his house for tea. Sometimes, they join him.
"I'm offering them an alternative, really," Ritchie says, "I always act in a friendly manner. I smile."
Ritchie's house might be the worst real estate ever. One person a week commits suicide at the "the Gap," the cliff he lives across from. It's protected only by a small, one-meter fence, despite its legendary reputation as a suicide spot dating back to the 1800s.
But the former life insurance salesman says he doesn't feel "burdened" by the fact that people are always contemplating jumping to their deaths outside his house. In fact, he and his wife Moya see it as a blessing: "I think, 'Isn't it wonderful that we live here and we can help people?'"
Obviously, he's not always successful, and, at times, he's had to physically restrain people from jumping while Moya calls the police. But it isn't necessarily traumatic:
Despite all he has seen, he says he is not haunted by the ones who were lost. He cannot remember the first suicide he witnessed, none have plagues his nightmares. He says he does his best with each person, and if he loses one, he accepts that there was nothing more he could have done.
Ritchie, who basically sounds like the nicest guy in the entire world, is 84, and has spent much of the last year battling cancer. But, as you might expect for a dude who's managed to live across from a fucked-up, tragic place, and not become a casualty himself, he's optimistic: "I imagine somebody else will come along and do what I've been doing." I hope so.