Monday, September 21, 2009

Stupid AP trender: Voting's over

Summer isn't even technically over, and we're closing the balloting for Stupidest AP Trend Piece of the Year? Yes! And when you see the Grand Champion here, you'll stuff ballot boxes out of sheer delight:

We had been told to expect the deaths of the famous to come in threes, [No we weren't. That was a joke. Remember? Jokes?] not in the dozens. [To spare you the trouble of counting, we manage to squeeze 27 into this piece, or a tad over 5 a month -- technically more than one "dozen," but a near-certain sign of fact inflation.]

But all through the summer of 2009 came a ceaseless and somber drumbeat, as idols [watch this space!] of all walks of life passed away. From Walter Cronkite to Sen. Ted Kennedy, the nonstop loss of luminaries continued almost as if a seasonal occurrence -- as much a part of summer as hot dogs and humidity. [True. We have four seasons, and people die in all of them. Could you explain what the hot dogs have to do with this again?]

... Even with the media-inflated memorials, the parade of deaths was unusual. [According to whom? Here's where we need to start offering some "evidence"] The phrase "summer of death" popped up, perhaps first used by New York magazine, which cheekily claimed the trademark. [This, on the other hand, is barely even an "anecdote."] There's no particular reason for such an aberration; [It doesn't matter how often you say it; sooner or later, you're still going to have to show why it's an "aberration."] the death rate is typically higher during winter.

Early May saw the passing of the beloved Dom DeLuise, 75. But the portly entertainer was only a springtime harbinger of what was to follow.

Yes, and May 2008 saw the beloved old entertainment guys Dick Martin, Sydney Pollack and Harvey Korman, all within five days of each other! Not to mention Eddy Arnold, for the slightly older, and Ham Jordan and Mildred Loving, for those who actually remember a political world before 2001.

On June 4, the "Kung Fu" actor David Carradine, 72, was found dead in a Bangkok hotel room. On June 23, Ed McMahon, the loyal "Tonight" show sidekick to Johnny Carson, died at the age of 86.

Just two days later, two icons of Generation X died. First was the news that Farrah Fawcett, the '70s sex symbol and "Charlie's Angels" star had died of cancer at 62. Late in the day, came the more unbelievable reports
["more unbelievable" than what? And stop putting commas between adverb phrases and verbs like that] that Jackson had died.

Before the end of June, the TV pitchman Billy Mays died. ["Icon" and "luminary" are starting to lose their luster a bit here, aren't they?] Like Jackson, he was just 50.

Early July saw the passing of Robert S. McNamara, 93. The Pentagon chief who directed the escalation of the Vietnam War - and was vilified by many for it.

Bo Diddley, Cyd Charisse, George Carlin. With Jesse Helms following at the beginning of July 2008.

Don Hewitt, the TV news pioneer who created "60 Minutes" and was, like Cronkite, a CBS legend, died later in the summer on Aug. 19. That was just a day after the passing of political columnist Robert Novack. [N-O-V-A-K. If you're going to elevate him to iconhood, spell his name right.]

On Aug. 11, Eunice Kennedy Shriver died. Famous to some for being the sister of President John F. Kennedy, Shriver's great accomplishment [maybe it's just the writer, but I'm prepared to find this dangler especially annoying today] was founding the Special Olympics.

Two days later, Les Paul died at the age of 94. His contributions to music can't be underestimated;
[yes they can; what the writer wants is "overestimated," though he probably means something more like "overstated"] he developed multitrack recording and the solid-body electric guitar.

August, is it? Solzhenitsyn! Isaac Hayes and Jerry Wexler! (Within five days of each other -- coincidence, or what?????) And if we hang on until September 2008, we'll see Norman Whitfield and Levi Stubbs exiting barely a month apart!!!!

As we've seen earlier with the Month of Tragedies game, you can turn any few months into a season of something if you set the bar for your event at enough strange angles. There's no trend here that would survive the first round of drinks at the staff bar -- let alone even the mildest sort of questioning from any vaguely alert editor. This story must be spiked on sight. The AP's pulling one out of thin air, getting a few experts to explain how it's all related to the Interwebs and other stuff You Kids Today are doing, and wrapping it up with the most threadbare of platitudes:

No one who ever picked up a guitar, danced to "Thriller," watched a quality TV news broadcast, read a gripping memoir or laughed through a coming-of-age comedy could have failed to feel the loss.

Autumn can't come soon enough.

If we make it come sooner, will you stop writing? Please?


Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Wow. Are people going to stop dying now?

7:48 PM, September 21, 2009  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But if it does come early, then we're going to have to read a bunch of clich├ęd heds about that.

10:16 PM, September 21, 2009  
Blogger John Cowan said...

It's better than stories about giant gooseberries. Or Bigfoot.

12:57 AM, September 22, 2009  
Anonymous raYb said...

I wonder if it's just important people who've died this year or if, maybe, some regular-sized people have kicked off, too.

8:02 AM, September 22, 2009  

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