Wednesday, November 18, 2015

In which Primo and Ted argue about Sly's obituary and Ted asks what happened in the meeting with the lawyer about the will and Ted, as usual, is a big jerk

So Primo and I are on vacation, something he deserves greatly. It is possible to be off the grid - we are renting a cottage on an island - but Primo learned that the cottage owner, who also has a house across the street, does have wireless and he got the password, so so much for a complete disconnect.

Honestly - Sly and Doris are both dead. What kind of emergency could there be?

Primo asked Ted to leave him alone while he is on vacation.

Ted, as usual, because Ted's needs and wants are more important than Primo's,

Oh! Wait! I think this event happened before we went to the cottage.

But still. Ted is a jerk and he has done nothing in the time that I have known him ever to change that opinion.

So there was this exchange - weeks before the funeral. Ted wanted to get the obit done RIGHT AWAY and Primo said, Dude, can we just wait a week or two? The funeral isn't for a while and right now, I just need to rest because you know BOTH OF MY PARENTS JUST DIED and I am exhausted and emotionally wrung out.

But Ted just has to forge ahead because hey, he hasn't spent the past several months dealing full time with parent medical issues and drama that could have been prevented if drunk 260-lb Sly had not fallen on drunk 110-lb Doris and broken her knees.

Note the gratuitous insult:  "Perfunctory, chronological storytelling is the bastion of beginners."

I am not going to say that I hate Ted, because 1. he is not worthy of it and 2. my parents taught me that we do not hate anyone but we do hate evil and Ted, although a jerk, is not evil.

However, if there is a heaven and if I get to go, it will not be heaven for me if Ted is there.

Emails here.

at 6:41 PM, Primo wrote:


I have reached the point where I am able to provide some feedback, but it consists mostly of suggested changes to sentence structure and punctuation. You've done a fantastic job on the content.

Most of these changes are optional, although at least a couple of them should definitely be made (e.g., a comma should never be used before the suffix "III" and the word "rewrite" should not contain a hyphen). Everyone has preferences regarding commas; I've added some that you didn't use and taken out a few of yours.

The attachment is a Word document with changes tracked.

I have one comment on the structure of the entire document: I might want to rearrange it, especially the first half, to put things in chronological order. Have you intentionally ordered things as "most important first" or did the document evolve without thinking about this? I think it might flow better if the narrative started with high school and then moved on to college, the Navy, and his academic career. I didn't want to make that sort of major change in this round of edits.

Finally, I have two possible issues with content:

1. Was Dad actually stationed at the Presidio in S.F.? I don't remember hearing him say that he was stationed there (although he may have mentioned visiting there). The Presidio was an Army base, not a Navy base, so was it even possible for him to be stationed there?

2. We may want to consider whether the Sierra Club is the right charity to designate. Dad had a document on his Mac that mentioned a few environmental charities (one of which was the Sierra Club). He was also a huge fan of the ACLU, while Mom was not.


Subject: Re: Suggested changes to obit draft #6 (attached)

Thanks for your input. 

I’ll make appropriate edits. Structure fully intentional and I disagree strongly with your assertion about better narrative flow. Perfunctory, chronological storytelling is the bastion of beginners. 

1. Yes stationed at Presidio. My mother and I lived in a Quonset Hut for many months while he was onboard the USS Buck, harbored in SF. Jack was born in Coronado the following year when DD-761 returned south.

2. I would defer to you on charity designation. When The Lawyer was in the room with him and me on June 8, Dad noted that he wanted to revise his will a bit, including designating environmental charities.

What, by the way, was the outcome of your meeting with The Lawyer?

I received emails from 3 friends today asking me about Dad’s obit, which reinforces my determination to get it published this Friday. This gives us about 20 hours to finalize.

Version 7—which will be close to final—will be emailed shortly.’

love ted


  1. Version SEVEN? Give me a break! You could obit the President in fewer drafts than that!

  2. Dear Ted,

    You Pretentious Ass Twit

    All those other obituary writers - many of them professional writers and journalists, must be Doing It Wrong then.

    Sorry, this is not a place to show off your fancy language skills. This is where you impart the relevant information in the way that is least likely to confuse your audience. Which includes recognizing that this particular audience wants basic details in an organized fashion, not storytelling in which they are waiting for earlier info to be filled in as they immerse themselves in the piece.

    love backatcha!

    - AC

    1. Seconded. It's a memorial, not a freshman-year term paper. I don't recall even *having* drafts for my grandpa's resume. My dad and uncles included all the pertinent information, I gave it a quick proofread for errors and to make sure all the names and dates were in there, and that was it. All the stories and praise and fond memories are what the visitation, wake, and funeral Mass were for.

    2. After I wrote this, I decided I might want to double-check my high horse, so I went and looked up my grandfather's "featured" aka written by a professional staff writer obit. In The Washington Post, so also not some rural paper where anybody who is willing to write the thing gets the job.

      1st few paragraphs, the major thing he was primarily known for that warranted such a write-up, the effects of it, and a couple of quotes from others on that relevance.

      Remainder: His life in chronological order.

      - AC

    3. All the stories and praise and fond memories are what the visitation, wake, and funeral Mass were for.

      Welllllll. No fond memories!

    4. AC, I have already sent your comment to Primo! He was SO PISSED at Ted. I truly am surprised that Ted does not end every day with a bloody nose.

  3. Wow. When we had to organize my grandmother's funeral, the funeral home had a stock form. All we had to do was provide the details for the blanks and proofread it. They even took care of sending it to the newspaper. But I'm pretty certain, those professionals would have cut Ted off at draft two.

    1. We knew my dad was dying for weeks, but didn't write the obit until the day after he died. My mom and I spent 30 minutes on it - all that had to be in it was the time and place of the funeral. All the people who needed to know who my dad was already knew.

  4. I saw this article today and it reminded me oh, so much of Sly and S.O.S. As you so famously said once, "Pot, Meet Kettle!"

    1. emma, I don't even have to read this article to laugh at the comparison! (I am on the train and am supposed to be working.)

  5. This drives me insane for so many reason:

    - Version 7? I write for a living and can knock out detailed proposals in less than four drafts. How does a paragraph require seven versions?

    - "Perfunctory, chronological storytelling is the bastion of beginners." - I'm sorry, Ted is a dick. I'm not trying to downplay anything, but he's not writing the next great novel. There are plenty of occasions where chronological storytelling makes sense, and I would argue this obituary is one of them.

    - If three of Ted's friends are really asking him about the status of the obituary (spoiler alert, I bet they're not), then he can explain that his father just died, everyone is trying to process it, and the obituary will be posted closer to the date of the funeral. That's it. Nobody is going to challenge that.

    I'm sorry for what you and your husband had to go through. I really enjoy your blog, and I think you guys are incredibly tough people.