Tag Archives: obituary


Alex Karras died Wednesday. He played football for the Detroit Lions. He was also a pretty funny guy who appeared on on Johnny Carson and in movies.

In one of Karras’ most famous scenes, as Mongo in  Mell Brook’s “Blazing Saddles”, he slugged a horse knocking it out cold. Blazing saddles could not be made today. There would be naked starlet PETA protests  (this is bad?), and the horse would be evaluated against his baseline concussion history and required to sit out for at least a week. Blazing Saddles mocked race relations, sexuality, Hollywood, the American Frontier, and Methodists. It fails the Civil Discourse test miserably. It’s hilarious.

I asked a really bright and hip young woman editor if she knew who Mongo was. She said, ” I can’t believe it! You’re the second person to ask me that today and until now, no, I’d never heard of him.”

Pop culture references are tricky.

Joe Paterno

Obit Week

The year 2011 was the end of the line for guys who changed the world – Steve Jobs in one way, Vaclav Havel in another. Anne Applebaum tells how Havel ‘s essay “Power to the Powerless” changed the world. His great insight was that all totalitarian regimes are based on a lie. If  individuals “live in the truth” the lie dies and the regime collapses. That’s what happened with the velvet revolution in Czechoslovakia.

As it happens, Havel was overshadowed in death by the totalitarian leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Il. Or Kim Jong-Dead, as Rush Limbaugh kept referring to him yesterday.

The Dear Leader’s birth on a sacred mountaintop is said to have been announced by a talking swallow. In addition to his miraculous golf scorecard, he claimed the power to order up perfect weather for his birthdays. He wasn’t completely without humility, though, having never claimed to cause the planet to heal or the oceans to recede.

Many tree bark eating North Koreans who mourned the death of their epicurian leader (his annual bar tab for Hennessy Cognac alone was over half a million dollars) don’t seem to be “living in the truth” so much. But then what would you expect from a nation of racist dwarfs.

Death and Taxes


Some guys have all the luck.  Last year the estate tax was 45%.  Next year it will be 55%.  This year?  Nil. Zero. The empty set.  Businesses say this sort of thing makes it tough to plan for the future.  One business isn’t complaining.  Since he died in 2010, George Steinbrenner’s heirs won’t have to sell the Yankees to pay the taxes.