This Day in Death

12.18.15: Norman Bridwell, Creator of Clifford, the Big Red Dog – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 6:07 pm December 21, 2015
Norman Bridwell, Dick Robinson[via Today]

Bridwell, right, appears at a birthday event for Clifford, who has raised his paws in a symbolic gesture of solidarity with the #redlivesmatter protesters. Jesus, we’re trying to have a party here, can you turn off the social justice rhetoric for one day?

 

Norman Bridwell, creator of the much-tolerated Clifford, the Big Red Dog series of books, has died at the age of 86. Clifford, of course, was the heartwarming story of a runty puppy who eventually grew to become a crippling financial burden to his owner, a little girl without a job. I think it’s a metaphor for going to college.

You know, everyone thinks they can just wham bam a children’s book and make a fortune because they’re only, like, 50 words long and most of the pictures are of everyday things like dogs and trees and gimp masks and stuff. Well, that’s where you’d be wrong, you cynical opportunist, you. Even the simplest writing is extremely draining. Why, just check out this exclusive sneak peek at the climactic scene from my in-the-works screenplay, Lawyerhorse 2000: The Horse That’s Also a Lawyer:

LAWYERHORSE

 

That right there is the result of two years of meticulous plotting, intense personal introspection, and one failed marriage. So don’t go assuming that Bridwell just one-two’d the whole concept in an afternoon.

…Scholastic accepted the manuscript that he’d written over a weekend.

See? A weekend. That’s three days if you count Friday. For all we know Monday was Memorial Day, it could’ve been a solid 96 hours invested. Alright, fine, so it’s still not that long. But that’s only because Bridwell was a professional and knew how to execute an idea in a short amount of time, the result of years of disciplined writing. By the time he came up with Clifford he must’ve been firing with enough precision and prolificacy to make Stephen King throw up his corn chowder all over his L.L. Bean signature shearling-lined duck boots. (He lives in Maine.)

Bridwell told Simon that he “was shocked when it was accepted for publication, because I’d never written anything before.”

Okay, so, this is getting hard to justify, like feeding a cow a hamburger. I guess the real lesson here is, “just do it, you might get lucky.” It’s the same attitude bank robbers have. Just sayin.

 

Source: NPR

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6.15.14: “Flowers for Algernon” Author Daniel Keyes – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 6:17 pm June 19, 2014

DANIEL_KEYESTo put that number in perspective, J.K. Rowling once sold 4 million copies of a dirty limerick she scrawled onto a bar napkin. The film trilogy is currently being produced by Steven Soderbergh.

 

Daniel Keyes, best known as the author of perennial ‘Tim Allen becomes Paul Allen before going back to being Tim Allen’ novel Flowers for Algernon, has passed away due to complications related to pneumonia. For decades, Flowers for Algernon has been the book that countless 8th grade English teachers push on their students in the hopes of helping them discover who they really are, before giving up after realizing that what most of them really are are future 7-Eleven clerks and proto-arsonists.

The story was written as a series of first-person progress reports by Charlie Gordon, a 32-year-old bakery worker with an intellectual disability who is chosen for an experimental operation to increase his intelligence. A white mouse named Algernon had undergone the procedure and had become intelligent enough to solve mazes much faster than Charlie.

There’s no shame in not being able to finish one of those things. Who hasn’t gotten stuck overnight in the hedge maze at the Renn Faire, or a Long John Silver’s placemat? The key to survival is the same in both cases: Stay calm, leave a whole mess of breadcrumbs, and try to keep your crying to a respectable minimum.

The premise underlying Mr. Keyes’s best-known novel struck him while he waited for an elevated train to take him from Brooklyn to New York University in 1945.

“I thought: My education is driving a wedge between me and the people I love,” he wrote in his memoir, “Algernon, Charlie and I” (1999).

Paging Dr. Humblebrag! Dr. Humblebrag to the Egotorium, stat! Still, points for turning lemons into lemonade by using Flowers’ success as fuel for his next novel, Cockasaurus Rex and the Planet Full of Normals. It’s the harrowing story of a brilliant and well-endowed author who has to deal with being so handsome that regular people literally can’t look at him without blinding themselves. In the end, he’s forced to ease the pain the only way he knows how: by having wanton sex with untold scores of multi-ethnic supermodels. The point is that sometimes you just don’t understand how hard a person has it until you can see things from their perspective.

Source: NY Times

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5.28.14: Maya Angelou – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 3:52 am May 29, 2014

MAYA_ANGELOUYeah, it’s alright, but I still prefer the sequel, Bird 2: The Uncagening. If Mark Wahlberg was a book, you guys… if Mark Wahlberg was a book.

 

Poet and author Maya Angelou has died today after cancelling several engagements due to failing health. Beginning her writing career in 1959, Angelou spent 55 consecutive years of her life publishing her work. Well, 51 if you don’t count the four years that she spent writing dirty nursery rhymes for Andrew Dice Clay.

HICKORY DICKORY DOCK QUOTE, LET’S GO TO THE BLOCK QUOTE! Ha! I don’t know why he ever stopped doing these!

“All of the writers of my generation must honor the ground broken by Dr. Maya Angelou,” author Tayari Jones posted on her Facebook page Wednesday.

“She told a story that wasn’t allowed to be told,” Jones said. “Now, people tell all sorts of things in memoir, but when she told the truth, she challenged a taboo — not for shock value, but to heal us all.”

Angelou’s writing spoke to a longing for understanding and unity between all people, a lesson her followers have certainly taken to heart. And if you don’t believe me, why, just scroll down to the comments section, which I am just now doing for the first time, with utter confidence that they won’t cause the above statement to backfire on me to an hilarious degree:

Please read the comments before opening your big mouth. If she had written the same works and was white, wouldn’t you be singing praises now? Be honest people. It is in your heads. Black people will never do anything your ilk appreciates.

No one is as shrill, negative, angry, violent, mistaken, false or as un-American as you appear to be. Perhaps you should read something besides the 2nd Amendment and the false, misleading and inflammatory propaganda of the far right.

Oh get a grip … what are some of these “truth[s] and democratic/republic ideals” that are supposed to seep in btw? Hatred of guns? I suppose you’re also one of those know-nothing libbies who blames the NRA for the latest shooting in CA. Typical.

Don’t get your undies in a bundle. You’re not the only one who can “bite back” take your meds and relax lol.

Obamacare is screwing the vast majority of middle class Americans. Mean while, his followers continue to talk about how much “class” he has. I have some news for you, class isn’t going to pay for my sick child’s healthcare. Wake Up.

Wow. Thoughtful stuff. Are those Woody Guthrie lyrics or something? Fun fact: Obama is the driving force behind 98% of all internet comment sections. The remaining 2% actually come from articles about Obama, and are generally centered around how I can get off-brand boner pills on the cheap.

Point is, between hate-filled comments section and sifting through her words for “haters gonna hate”isms, holy shit have you guys missed the point. If you really need some new catchphrases to prop up an unearned sense of self-confidence I’m sure Beyonce will be dropping a new song any day now. Meanwhile, maybe once #MayaAngelou stops trending we can all try actually… you know… practicing some of what the woman represented. Like, maybe not being such a unrelenting douche to literally every single person you encounter in your day-to-day life.

I mean, you can do that stuff. It’s already too late for me. The doctors say I’m dead on the inside. Seriously, actually dead. They don’t even understand what that means, but x-rays don’t lie.



Source: CNN

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4.17.14: Gabriel García Márquez – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 8:39 am May 1, 2014

 GABRIEL_GARCIA_MARQUEZIf you were planning to pick up Marquez’s short story Big Momma’s Funeral, please note that it is not, in fact, the basis for Martin Lawrence’s Big Momma’s House film franchise. Really, the only similarity between the two is the truly shocking amount of fart jokes. Clean it up already, Gabo!

 

Spanish-language author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, best known for his 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, has died. Despite earning praise so effusive that its literary import was compared to that of the Bible (which is, like, the Bible of Bibles), you may be surprised to find out that Solitude was in actuality awful until Oprah decided otherwise in 2004. By entering it into her book club, it became the novel that launched thousands of impressionable women from their indoor cat gazebos and through the doors of Borders locations throughout the country. Hmm… Odd that fans of a woman who’s made billions by exploiting the insecurities of her followers would be so into a book about loneliness. You always assume those ladies have it all.

He achieved fame for pioneering magical realism, a unique blending of the marvellous and the mundane in a way that made the extraordinary seem routine.

With his books, he brought Latin America’s charm and teaming contradictions to life in the minds of millions of people.

That all might be a bit heady for those of you who got degrees in employment-centric fields (sell-outs!), so allow me to boil all that down to a sort of unfair generalization stew: Magical realism is when you write yourself into a corner, decide “fuck it,” give a character a pair of angel wings or something, and say it’s a metaphor when called out about it. It’s the non-cartoon equivalent of how they got rid of Poochie.

If this post can bear any more academic analysis, I’d like to note how much I enjoy that Marquez wrote his novels exclusively in Spanish: All those extra squiggly lines just make everything look so festive, like each sentence is having its own little party right there on the page. Or ‘fiesta,’ if you will. Okay, well… that’s probably enough insight for my book circle, time to catch up on Total Divas. Later, all you basic bitches!

 

Source: BBC

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11.17.13: Author Doris Lessing – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:40 pm November 19, 2013

DORIS_LESSINGThere are already a lot of Nobel Prize jokes later in this post, so I’m not gonna dwell on the fact that that tacky box looks like Flavor Flav’s grill turned sideways. Restraint!



Novelist and social justice advocate Doris Lessing died Sunday, which will bother you a lot less if you’re racist and/or illiterate. So go ahead and take a long lunch, Alabama.

If you’ve ever been in some of the rougher hoods of ghettos like San Diego or Charlotte, NC, you’ve undoubtedly overheard some of the local gangbangers/book clubs refer to Lessing as a “peerless observer of the world she inhabits” and an “OG bitch who didn’t give a straight fuck.” Don’t mess with those guys unless you’re prepared to be shivved with the corner of a first edition copy of Wurthering Heights, is all I’m saying.

Among the bridges Lessing burned:

…the writer briskly rejected the label most frequently attached to her: feminist icon — particularly when applied to her 1962 novel, The Golden Notebook.

“Oh, it’s just stupid; I’ve seen it so often,” she said. “I mean, there’s nothing feminist about The Golden Notebook. The second line is: ‘As far as I can see, everything is cracking up.’ That is what The Golden Notebook is about!”

Lessing once refused to allow the Queen to declare her a dame of the British Empire, because — in the author’s words — “There is no British Empire.”

[NPR]

Oh, what’s that, Sweden? You want a taste, too? HERE COMES THE HAMMER OF MARGINALLY IMPOLITE OPEN-ENDED CRITICISM!

After learning she had won [the Nobel Prize], she said she was “very glad” but recalled that in the 1960s she had been told the Nobel Prize committee did not like her and she would never win one.

“So now they’ve decided they’re going to give it to me. So why? I mean, why do they like me any better now than they did then?” she said. [BBC]

Lessing also referred to her winning the award as a “disaster” for her writing. I know how that goes, which is why I keep prematurely sending letters to the Nobel committee declining to be considered for one. For me, the whole ceremony really lost its luster when they gave Larry the Cable Guy the Prize for “Gittin’ ‘Er Done.” Why the hell was Prilosec allowed to create their own Nobel category in the first place?

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10.1.13: Author Tom Clancy – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 7:58 am October 3, 2013

TOM_CLANCY“And where the hell is my damn ‘World’s Greatest Middle-Aged Man Who Looks Like a Pedophile But Isn’t a Pedophile’ mug, Linda?!”

 

Techno-espionage author Tom Clancy is dead today at the conspiratorially symmetrical age of 66. Those in the know are keeping mum about Clancy’s cause of death, but if it turns out to be related to him wearing his sunglasses at night I think Cory Hart’s got a pretty solid pillar for his eyewear safety campaign.The man has a lot of hours in the day to fill, it seems.

Mr. Clancy’s debut book, “The Hunt for Red October,” was frequently cited as one of the greatest genre novels ever written. With the book’s publication in 1984, Mr. Clancy introduced a new kind of potboiler: an espionage thriller dense with technical details about weaponry, submarines and intelligence agencies.

Yeah, I don’t get this at all. We had to cut out 35 chapters from Moby Dick because people can’t handle a little outdated science about whaling, yet everyone’s eager to trudge through 200 pages of jargon copy-and-pasted from a Mark 46 torpedo manual?

But a lack of boring, left-wing, liberal shit like character development or narrative structure wasn’t gonna stop Clancy’s fans, and the man played to his audience by frantically churning out content with the precision and care of a chocolate factory in a Lucy episode. In fact, the man could write a book in just the time it took to put his name on it. That’s because, in many cases, that was all he did:

Clancy has branded several lines of books with his name that are written by other, acknowledged authors following premises or storylines generally in keeping with Clancy’s works […]

These are sometimes referred to by fans as “apostrophe” books; Clancy did not initially acknowledge that these series were being authored by others, only thanking the actual authors in the headnotes for their “invaluable contribution to the manuscript.” [source]

Now, before you guys call me a hypocrite for pointing that out, I’d like to stress that this is nothing like me stamping Plan B’s name onto my line of multivitamins. There’s currently no class action suit pending against Tom Clancy, that’s one difference right there.



Source: The NY Times

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8.20.13: Author Elmore Leonard – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 9:20 am August 21, 2013

ELMORE_LEONARDLeonard’s Ten Rules of Writing, which is totally just a rip off of Thomas Pynchon’s Four Thousand and Seventy-Eight Rules of Writing. It took me months to read, and for some reason required my acquiring a working knowledge of both Spanish imperialism and the production of Benzethonium chloride, but I’m told it was totally worth it.

 

Elmore Leonard, author of Get Shorty, Be Cool, and probably a few books that didn’t indirectly lead to keeping John Travolta in Level 7 Thetan armor, died yesterday at the age of 87. On a positive note, Leonard’s death gives me the opportunity to prove that I have read books. The spine damage on this Anne of Green Gables paperback should put an end to all those rumors to the contrary. NOW LET’S GET LITERARY, MOTHERFUCKERS!!!

As described in a 2008 Washington Post profile, Mr. Leonard’s world is “populated by cops who aren’t exactly good, crooks who aren’t exactly bad, and women who have an eye for the in-between.”

What galvanizes this gallery of rogues and scoundrels, more often than not, is a scheme — a kidnapping, con job or robbery that will bring quick and easy money. As it turns out, the money is neither quick nor easy, and the schemes are doomed from the start, spinning down unexpected tangents and threatened at every turn by absurdity.

Pass. Those kinds of stories always get me so anxious, what with all their twists and turns and who knows what other kinds of geometric queasiness. That’s why I prefer books where the characters come up with a plan, it’s executed without any complications, and then the story ends early so we can all get a good night’s sleep. It’s kinda a niche without a lot of entries, so I’ve taken to just reading the first two chapters of a book and then skipping to the last ten pages. You save time and your nerves. I’ve also made my own edit of Cool Hand Luke, where Luke quickly learns to respect the prison system. In my version, most of the movie focuses on Luke communicating clearly with the prison bosses and making sure he doesn’t overeat before strenuous exercise. At the end he’s released after having served his full sentence. Once you take out all the card-playing and general cool-handedness it really becomes a film we can all learn from.

 

Source: The Washington Post

 

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7.5.13: Feminist Author Elaine Morgan – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 6:11 am July 15, 2013

ELAINE_MORGANUnless the Aquatic Ape has to fight Sharknado I’m out. It’s a very simple criteria that I use for all literature, thank you very much.

 

Noted author and feminist Elaine Morgan died on Friday, which is the perfect combination of words to use if you ever find yourself needing to somehow suck all the fun out of a kegger. It’s like a magical incantation with just the right ratio of haughtiness to existential sorrow.

Elaine Morgan’s long and varied life encompassed experience as an author, TV writer, lecturer and scientific rebel.

Scientific rebels can be easily identified because their cylinders never graduated. Ha! Chemistry puns! Who else is gonna give you that? Alright, fine, xkcd will. But I promise you that if I ever start putting stick figures on this site I’ll at least show some common courtesy to my readers by giving the female ones comically oversized breasts. It’s called respecting your audience.

Speaking of feminism:

In the 1970s Dr Morgan took on the scientific establishment with a new theory of human evolution.

Her book The Descent of Woman became an international bestseller, turning her into a feminist hero who toured the US three times.

She went on to devote her attention increasingly to the subject of human origins.

It’s starting to dawn on me how pissy Jezebel is gonna get if they see this post. We’ve had a rocky relationship ever since my article, “Putting a Dime on the Dollar: A Plea to Reassess Susan B. Anthony’s Doability in the Information Age,” was rejected for publication. Supposedly the inclusion of multiple drawings of busty stick figures didn’t sway any editors to my side. Well excuse me for trying to establish a consistent motif as a writer!


Source: BBC News

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6.9.13: Author Iain M. Banks – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 6:00 am June 18, 2013

IAIN_BANKSSeriously, man? The *same* gloves? Just throw your clothes away after wearing them once, like a normal person. This looks like some sort of Howie Mandel-esque OCD issue, and if there’s one thing me and my inexplicably skyrocketing wardrobe budget know, it’s dangerous sociological habits.

 

Sad news for people who own books that aren’t just hollowed-out decoys used to hide drug paraphernalia, as Scottish author Iain Banks died last week of gall bladder cancer. In 1987, after publishing several mainstream fiction books, Banks began writing darkly comedic sci-fi novels under the name Iain M. Banks. The decision was made after his publisher told him that Not Terry Pratchett wasn’t a viable pseudonym. Alright, sorry, I guess I shouldn’t mock him. Dude could afford a superfluous ‘I’ in his first name, he must’ve been doing *something* right.

Banks announced his illness on his website on 3 April, writing “I am officially Very Poorly” . With trademark black humour, he said he had asked his partner Adele “if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow”.

Man, European writers sure love their clever wordplay. It always comes off so haughty and judgmental. I bet a guy like Banks wouldn’t even be interested in hearing about all of the Limp Bizkit songs that I ghostwrote, but if you put the third verse of “Nookie” up against any random passage from Catch-22 you’d have your work cut out for you trying to figure out which was which.

 


Source: The Guardian

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1.7.13: Journalist Richard Ben Cramer – DEAD!

Filed under: Dead —James @ 10:22 pm January 9, 2013

RICHARD_BEN_CRAMERCramer begins his physical transformation in preparation of going deep undercover as a member of Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem.

 

Whenever I solemnly put on my trenchcoat and fedora it usually just means I’m planning to expose myself to single mothers on the bus again. But today I’m doing it for a less sexy reason; as a tribute to reporter Richard Ben Cramer, who died due to complications from lung cancer on Monday. I might still do the bus thing later today, though.

Before the Geraldoization of America, serious journalists like me and Richard Ben Cramer dug deep to get the hard truths about the world we live in, sitting down with those in power to ask the burning questions, like “why do you guys act like such anal prolapses about everything?” or “I didn’t do any research, can you tell me who you are?” or “have you read my blog? It’s super funny, I bet you’d like it.” You know, the kinds of things real Americans want answers to.

Perhaps the most unorthodox thing in any of Mr. Cramer’s books appears — or, more precisely, does not appear — at the end of [Cramer’s book about 1988 presidential election] “What It Takes.” The book has no index, an omission insisted upon, in a kind of gleeful malice aforethought, by Mr. Cramer himself.

“For years I watched all these Washington jerks, all these Capitol Hill, executive-branch, agency wiseguys and reporters go into, say, Trover bookstore, take a political book off the shelf, look up their names, glance at the page and put the book back,” Mr. Cramer told The New York Times in 1992. “Washington reads by index, and I wanted those people to read the damn thing.”

That’s pretty clever, but you have to be careful when messing with people’s expectations like that. When I thought I wasn’t given any credit in Diary of a Wimpy Kid I was *this close* to pipe bombing that B. Dalton’s on the spot. Just decimating everything and everyone in there. But then I saw that I was mentioned in the dedication and I just laughed and laughed. It really was your classic story of overcoming adversity. Hey! That would make a good book, too! Writing is easy!

 

Source: The New York Times

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