Saturday, May 25, 2013

Riddle of the Labyrinth: a kind of extended obit

From Kathryn Schulz' review of New York Times senior obituary writer Margalit Fox's The Riddle of the Labyrinth -- The Quest to Crack and Ancient Code (Ecco Press 2013) in New York Magazine:

That beat does not normally make celebrities of its practitioners, so it says a lot about Fox’s writing ability that her obits have acquired something of a cult following. The form demands three things: a nose for interesting facts, the ability to construct a taut narrative arc, and a Dickens-level gift for concisely conveying personality.

Here is Fox's take on her craft and how she became interested in the work of Brooklyn College classics professor Alice Kober, who died in 1950.  Her cursory, resume-like obit at the time barely mentions Linear B, an endless series of pictograms unearthed in ancient Greece no one could decipher.  Yet Kober's largely unrecognized work over decades made cracking the code possible.  Fox's newly released Riddle of the Labyrinth seems like the best kind of book to come out of newsrooms, in which writers decide to take a subject that's not due at 6 p.m. today and follow it wherever it leads. 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

EBITS - the latest online obituary venture - fires a warning shot....

Pretty lame.


 MyEbituary LLC Declares Death of the Obituary with New Social Media-Based Ebits
On, users can create and interact with virtual memorial scenes

KENOSHA, Wis., May 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Conventional obituaries may have been laid to rest as MyEbituary LLC, a new memorial site startup, introduces ebituaries to the world of social media. Ebits, as they are called, allow users to create a unique type of online obituary that centers upon an interactive scene of remembrance that can be customized with various landscapes, headstones, urns and other decorations that users embed into the scene.



Hoping to change the outdated mode of conventional obituaries that have not evolved with the expansion in interactive online graphics applications, the company expects to eventually have ebits created for the approximately 8,000 people who pass away each day in the United States. According to company president Michael Boozer, "People deserve to be remembered online by something more than just a static photograph and some text placed on a webpage, especially with today's technology."

Ebits can be created for loved ones who have passed away or for current users who want to stake out a plot in the virtual world. Resembling a social media profile, allows people to write their own ebituary in advance and share their ebits across major social media networks like Facebook and Twitter. The scenes are interactive allowing visitors to show their respects by placing tributes such as flowers, awareness ribbons, crosses and other objects directly into the scene. Tributes can be embedded anywhere into the scene along with a short message of condolence that appears when hovering over it.

Scenes are designed using a variety of different landscapes or users can upload their own, such as an actual photograph of a real cemetery, allowing distant friends and relatives the opportunity to reflect upon the deceased. Headstones or urns, engraved with an epitaph, are provided in numerous colors and styles while decorations, such as plants, trees, animated birds and other objects can be embedded into the scene to create a unique place of remembrance.

"We wanted to replicate an actual cemetery or other resting place, where visitors are free to leave flowers and other tributes around a grave or other type of memorial," adds Mr. Boozer, stating that "Users can also designate caretakers to manage their ebit, who can decorate it for special occasions and manage tributes that are placed by others, just like in real life."

Other features of the site allows users to create their own "Bucket List" and write their own "Last Words" that are unlocked upon their passing. Users can also create their own family burial plot by sharing the headstones of others and placing them into their scene for a single place of reflection.

Launched in time for the Memorial Day holiday, the site is directed towards U.S. users but can be accessed worldwide by visiting via the web or any mobile device.

MyEbituary LLC was founded in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 2011

Phone: (715) 869-3248

Contact: Michael Boozer


Media Kit with Video and Image Downloads:

This press release was issued through eReleases® Press Release Distribution. For more information, visit


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Thursday, May 09, 2013

Humorous Death Notices - an emerging subgenre?

It's not like we haven't seen funny death notices and homespun remembrances in the past, but recently we've had some great ones and after reading Antonia Larroux's, I'm wondering if we're seeing a full-scale trend


Harry Stamps

Relatedly - but not quite the same thing - the very funny Val Patterson who used his death notice to reveal his lack of PhD and his safe-stealing legacy

From a couple years ago:

Michael "Flathead" Blanchard