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How will you join the ancestors?

Journalists, I regret to say, are drawn to excesses in prose as slugs are drawn to dishes of warm beer. (See?)

The irrepressible Diego Sorbara, an editor at The New York Times and fellow member of the American Copy Editors Society*, was so taken with the opening sentence of Ted Stevens’s obituary in the Anchorage Daily News that he posted it on Facebook, adding, “I am not making this up”:

Ted Stevens died Monday the way Alaskans die, in a plane crash in the wilds of the state he devoted his life to.

The thing to keep in mind is that attempts at Fancy Writing usually invite ridicule. Viz.:

Shortly thereafter, one Andrew Bartkus commented on Mr. Sorbara’s post: “That's ridiculous. I would've run ‘Ted Stevens died the way Alaskans die: convinced of their rugged individualism while living in a parasitic socialist petro-enclave.’ "

Judy Walgren DeHaas chimed in: “This would be a great New Yorker exercise! If I die a Coloradan does that mean I either get chomped on by a Mountain Lion while drinking beer at the Mountain Sun OR that I smoked my self to death with the most killer of killer medical marijuana there is to offer in one of the 432 dispensaries in my city?"

In that spirit, Kanye Rogers supplied the lead to her own obituary: “Kayne Rogers died the way Tennesseans die, arteries clogged with fried catfish and hush puppies, hands reaching out for her 36-ounce iced tea...”

During the semesters that I taught news writing, I had my students write their own obituaries. (Education in journalism, like most writing classes, is a monkey-see-monkey-do business about imitating stock forms and patterns.) I invite you to see whether you can match the Anchorage Daily News. Feel free to use your state of residence or, if different, your native state.

John Early McIntyre died Wednesday the way Kentuckians die, in a recliner in front of the television, with a half-full glass of bourbon spilling to the floor as a rerun of Law and Order continued unheeded.

Now you.

 

*Also a member of the Fellowship of the Bow Tie. 

 

 

Posted by John McIntyre at 10:55 AM | | Comments (49)
        

Comments

Stacy Spaulding died the way most native Floridians die: snapping pole beans on the front porch and blasting Lynyrd Skynyrd at the condo vultures next door.


Morty Seinfeld died the way Florida transplants die, standing in line outside an Outback, waiting for the doors to open for early bird diners, struck down by a bolt of lightning that singed every white hair on his penny-pinching head.

John Bryan died the way Southern California transplants die: Sitting in air conditioning, knowing full well that exposure to the August heat of the San Fernando Valley would make cremation unnecessary.

Just to clarify: Socialists believe in public ownership of the means of production, Alaskans (and other Georgists) believe in the public ownership of natural resources. The positions are completely different: people build factories, God builds oil deposits.

Well, it's good to know what all Alaskans think and that they all feel the same way. I look forward to Levi Johnston's explanations of the Single Tax.

Meanwhile: David Sullivan died the way Hoosiers in South Jersey died, choking on a cheesesteak he had mistaken for a pork tenderloin, while trying to imitate The Situation although wearing denim overalls, a Farm Bureau Co-Op baseball hat, and a red-and-white checkered shirt.

Steve Hall died yesterday, the way South Dakotans are meant to die: He was thrown, helmetless and wearing shorts and a t-shirt, from a great big Harley-Davidson while riding 70 mph along I-90 enroute to the Sturgis motorcyle rally.

Chris David died today, the way western Oregonians die. In the rain, wearing shorts, sandals, and wool socks, and bitching about Californians moving in, buying up all the good property, and bringing their fascists laws with them.

Carol Saller died today as all Chicagoans die, disappearing into a pothole on Halsted that has been slated for repair since 1984.

Laura Amos died today, the way native Kansans die. On her porch in the late-afternoon sun, watching winds whip across wheat fields and cow pastures as thunderheads gathered on the western horizon, knowing that the Smith Center Redmen football team would win state championships into eternity.

Eli M-H died today as all Chicagoans die. His last diary entry indicates he plans to vote straight Democrat and straight Republican for at least the next four elections after his passing.

I like this game!

Susan Hunziker died the way that few generations of New Englanders had been able to die. The Red Sox had won two World Series in the new century before the Yankees had one their first. Knowing she'd never witness the Yanks even that score, she floated skyward in a state of bliss.

"Nancy Friedman died as all Californians ... um, like, whatever."

Patrick Lackey died today as all elderly newcomers to any city pass away, wondering if there was a nearby cemetery with sufficient shade and parking.

Anthony Mitchell died the way all netizens die, in constant pursuit of novelty and validation, sapped of attent—oh wait, there’s

Anthony forgot to include the appropriate hashtag, #dead

Becky Hendricks died the way Jersey girls do, in high heels and tight pants, from a heart attack brought on by screaming and cursing because that jerk she married last week tracked dirt on her carpet.

Ana Weaver died the way Michaganders do; walking outside in Detroit without any armor on.

Susan Lee died the way all Southwestern Pennsylvanians do; clutching her Terrible Towel choking on a sandwich of meat, French fries & coleslaw while screaming at the television for the Steelers to pass the damn ball.

Robert White died Monday the way Georgians die; involving a linen suit, fireworks, and a coke.

Mark Allen died Monday the way Michiganders die, finally getting his buck (an eight-pointer) with the grill and windshield of a 2004 Chevy Blazer.

Jaime Sperling died Wednesday the way New Yorkers die...are you f*$%ing tawkin' to me?

George died the way all Dallasites do, hurtling down the expressway in his Ford F-150 at 85 miles an hour, with a cellphone in one hand and a Whataburger in the other, on the way to the drugstore to pick up another can of Aqua Net for the wife.

Andrew died yesterday in the way all Alabamians die: after saying "Watch this!" and running into the woods with nothing but a shotgun and a can of Skoal.

Gary Kirchherr died the way Pennsylvanians die: Clinging to his guns and religion, and his antipathy to people who aren't like him.

Dawn Stahl died Monday the way Central Illinoisans die, windshield farming and cursing Chicago, Democrats, and Chicago Democrats.

Carol Terry died Wednesday the way freelance editors die, facing a monitor with multiple open windows, including one exhibiting various versions of a particularly unfortunate sentence.

Dahlink died yesterday the way all Baltimore Hons of a certain era die, of a lethal combination of hair spray fumes and Old Bay.

Ole Finnerud died the way most Minnesotans die: of a massive heart attack while screaming his head off near the end of a close high school hockey game. His last words, "Did we win?"

Paul Lagasse died yesterday the way D.C. transplants die: stuck in traffic.

Eve died the way Jersey girls, no matter where they reside, do. She ran that mouth just once too often.

Phil Wilke died the way Kansans are meant to, at home on the range while complaining about the weather.

Tiffany died the way all those taken away from Kansas do, pining for the heat, she suffocated under loads of comforters, trying to stay warm in the Dakota winter.

Patricia died the way all copywriters at digital marketing agencies do: ignored, forgotten and not missed by the ruling class of art directors.

Ted died the way all Phoenix transplants die, from the stress of facing the two minute expedition between his air conditioned office and his air conditioned car.

Frannie died the way all Balmer ex-pats die: her tongue was hanging out because somebody said "steamed crabs" and sure enough she caught a fly just like her mother always said she would, and she choked.

Carolcdt died Wednesday the way Spokaners die, circling the all-you-can-eat-buffet parking lot waiting for a parking space by the door.

Rodney L. Bean died the way all West Virginians do, trying to convince the rest of the country that "Deliverance" had nothing to do with his State, and scheming about how to annex Myrtle Beach.

John died the way all Americans in Scotland die. He went to heaven and didn't notice.

I assume that was the Late John Early McIntyre. What, no mention of the Orioles in the Baltimore obits?

Love Dahlink's, but Eve has me totally pegged!

I sent this amusing posting to my good friend Michael Burman, an announcer on all-jazz KCSM in California (KCSM.org for those who may wish to listen to its stream) and he sent me the following self-composed obit:
Welshman Michael Burman died as Welshmen die: nearly empty pint of bitter in one hand, cigarette in the other, a mostly consumed chicken-in-the-basket to one side, rugby game on the telly, and the rest of the family fighting in another room. Expatriate, too, see, so
full of hiraeth*, isn't it? Nos da, bach!**

*According to Wikipedia, "Hiraeth is Welsh word that has no direct English translation. However, the University of Wales, Lampeter attempts to define it as homesickness tinged with grief or sadness over the lost or departed. It is a mix of longing, yearning, nostalgia,
wistfulness, and the earnest desire for the Wales of the past."

**Good night, my friend (lit. dear)

Excessively diverting game, this; sorry I didn't get in on it sooner. Two versions for me:

(1) A. Marie died the way Syracuse tightwads do: trampled to death by the crowd at the "50% off everything in the store" sale at the Erie Blvd. Salvation Army.

(2) A. Marie died the way Janeites do: rupturing a blood vessel over the latest misappropriation of Austen's work by the undead for the brain-dead.

Oh, A. Marie, your second version makes us soul sisters!

Speaking of soul sisters--hi, Eve, hi, City Redux!

Meg Levin died like all Upper West Side Manhattanites: mowed down by a take out delivery man pedaling the wrong way against the light. At the time she was standing in the crosswalk texting on her cell phone, reading the Times, eating a bagel and hailing a cab.

Pam Robinson died yesterday the way all native Ohioans die: standing outside, craning her neck, trying in vain to see the tornado she could only hear.

Phillip Blanchard died yesterday like all upstate die: by his own hand.

I meant, of course:

Phillip Blanchard died yesterday like all upstate New Yorkers die: by his own hand.

Millicent Fauntleroy made her transition yesterday and is surely with her Maker today, because that is where believing North Carolinians, who never "die," end up. Her presence and her passing were celebrated with a big bottle of Cheerwine and a pack of Nabs.

On Wednesday, Afi Scruggs died the way all freelance writers die. She was slumped in her ergonomic computer chair with her fingers frozen over the keyboard. Her lifeless eyes stared at the flickering computer monitor. Sources said Afi had been searching for an editor's email, so she could send a query.

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About John McIntyre
John McIntyre, mild-mannered editor for a great metropolitan newspaper, has fussed over writers’ work, to sporadic expressions of gratitude, for thirty years. He is The Sun’s night content production manager and former head of its copy desk. He also teaches editing at Loyola University Maryland. A former president of the American Copy Editors Society, a native of Kentucky, a graduate of Michigan State and Syracuse, and a moderate prescriptivist, he writes about language, journalism, and arbitrarily chosen topics. If you are inspired by a spirit of contradiction, comment on the posts or write to him at john.mcintyre@baltsun.com.
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