Posts Tagged: obituaries

An Interview with Ann Wroe, Obituaries Writer for The Economist

I am not embarrassed to admit that the obituaries on the back page of The Economist make my week. They’re thought-provoking and written with energy. Each column is a window onto another world, where genocidal SS captains escape to Argentina and open a deli with best cold cuts in town, and where British men create Tibet’s communications network and end up imbibing Maoist propaganda in order to escape life in Chinese prison.

The woman who writes these obituaries is Ann Wroe, a stalwart of The Economist since 1976 and the author of nonfiction books on topics as diverse as the Iran-Contra affair and Pontius Pilate. She [...]


RIP, Rita MacNeil

I had an obituary post planned for Rita MacNeil (the late Canadian folksinger) for a couple of days, but I kept yanking it because the (very funny) clip of her Trailer Park Boys cameo I was using had our heroes waving guns around like idiots, as is their wont, and it seemed inappropriate considering the events of last week. So, instead, here is a lovely tribute from the CBC. She was a great lady, and she had a rough start in life.

Another RIP today to Chrissy Amphlett, of The Divinyls. My first day of college, one of my roommates started playing "I Touch Myself," and [...]


RIP, Stompin' Tom Connors

You may have known him (she says optimistically) from "The Hockey Song," but he also wrote "Bud the Spud" and the excellent "Sudbury Saturday Night," and he was a hell of a great Canadian with a classic country backstory:

He was born in Saint John, N.B., on Feb. 9, 1936 to an unwed teenage mother. According to his autobiography, Before the Fame, he often lived hand-to-mouth as a youngster, hitchhiking with his mother from the age of three, begging on the street by the age of four. At age eight, he was placed in the care of Children's Aid and adopted a year later by a family in [...]


Ravi Shankar, 1920-2012

The best Ravi Shankar moment is at the beginning of "The Concert for Bangladesh" when the audience applauds their tuning-up interlude, because they have never heard sitar music, probably, and Shankar says, all sarcastic-like, something along the lines of "wow, think how much you'll enjoy the actual concert." RIP.


10 Things I Learned From Editing Obituaries for Two Years

I recently wrapped up a two-year gig writing and editing for my university alumni magazine. Class notes and obituaries are the bread-and-butter of alumni magazines, and editing them is often a thankless role. At 10,000+ words, or approximately 250 dead people per issue, a strong stomach—for grief of the emotional and copy-editing varieties—is a necessity. This means obits generally get relegated to the youngest person on staff. Obits are one of the most-read sections of alumni magazines, and editing them is by far the least sexy job. Often it felt like this part of the production process would never end (if you think about it, it doesn’t), and mostly I [...]


Farewell, Margaret Thatcher

Hm. I guess I'd always thought I'd have my shit together more as a writer by the time Maggie Thatcher died, so I'd be able to say something more profound than either "goodbye, worthy adversary," or "bitch got things done," or "I loved the fake Dear Bill letters in Private Eye," so here's all I've got:

1. Until a year or so ago, I took the occasional dressage lesson (HA HA HA HA HA SO RELATABLE THIS MORNING) from a brilliant, unhinged ex-pat Englishwoman who would yell things at me like: "pretend you've got a huge magnificent cock in you and you don't want it to escape!" and had [...]


RIP, Reeva Steenkamp

A woman died in South Africa yesterday morning. It (probably) wasn't an accident. Here is an article which is actually 99% about her and only 1% about the guy who (probably) murdered her.

Here's a great cause she supported.


"Beautiful Day, Happy to Have Been Here."

The New York Times today recaps a story that got shared quite a bit last week: Jane Lotter, who died after a long battle with endometrial cancer on July 18, elected to write her own obituary as she prepared to "[take] advantage of Washington state's compassionate Death with Dignity Act." The 60-year-old Seattle native wrote "in classic obituary style" for much of the piece, but there are also moments like this:

I met Bob Marts at the Central Tavern in Pioneer Square on November 22, 1975, which was the luckiest night of my life. We were married on April 7, 1984. Bobby M, I love you up to the sky. [...]


RIP, Richard Griffiths

Farewell, you terrible cunt. You may remember him as Uncle Vernon from Harry Potter, or from Withnail and I (in which he played Uncle Monty instead of Uncle Vernon) or from his…oh, man, he was unbelievable on Broadway in Alan Bennett's The History Boys. Unbelievable! I'm including the schlocky stupid trailer from the film version above, so you can see and hear him, but it's turned into this icky Mr. Holland's Opus thing. Get a time machine, set it for 2005, go see it onstage.


RIP, Aaron Swartz

Cory Doctorow and Maria Bustillos for background reading, The Mountain Goats for depression and love and fighting and creation and persecution.