Movie Review: Obit.(2016) #AtoZChallenge

This is my entry for “O” in the Blogging A to Z Challenge. Throughout April I will be watching and reviewing a documentary movie from A to Z. Some other “O” documentaries I’ve reviewed are Oklahoma City, Once in a Lifetime,  and The Opposition.

Title: Obit.
Release Date: April 15, 2016
Director: Vanessa Gould
Production Company: Green Fuse Films

The documentary visits with the obituary desk at The New York Times, one of the last newspapers with a full-time obituary staff.  Obituary writers and editors are interviewed over the course of one day as the work on finishing the obituary columns before the end of day deadline for the next day’s newspaper.  Many decisions have to be made regarding obituaries that one may not consider.  First, they have to determine whether a person is significant enough to receive an obituary.  Then they must determine how many words will be written about the recently deceased individual.  These things are debated in editorial meetings.

They also have to confirm details such as time and cause of death, which can be difficult when talking to grieving family members, some of whom are embarrassed to admit the cause of death. Deaths of noted persons late in the day can be a struggle since there’s less time to research and write about them, but the expectations are high that an obituary will be published if the person is particularly famous.  Michael Jackson’s death at an early age is used as an example.  The Times keeps a collection of several hundred “advances” where obituaries are written for people still alive, but are aging or in poor health, so that much of the obituary will be ready to go when needed. Humorously, an advance obituary was written for the aviator Elinor Smith in 1931 due to the danger of her job as a test pilot, but wouldn’t be needed until 2010 when she died at the age of 90.

My absolute favorite part of this movie is the morgue, where clippings and photographs are kept on various individuals and topics to be used as reference files.  The quirky man who keeps the morgue talks about how it had a large staff in decades past but now he’s the only one who knows his way around.  Despite the seemingly chaotic nature of the morgue, he is very insistent that it is well-organized and he can find anything needed in there.  Watching this, I suddenly feel that working in a newspaper morgue is my calling.

What Can One Learn From Watching This Documentary:

The second line of an obituary always has the information of who confirmed the death, something that’s been done since an obituary ran for someone who had not actually died.  The first obituary on the page is for the most significant individual and will be the only one that contains the word “dies” in the headline.

If You Like This You Might Also Want To …:

Last year for the A to Z, I watched Life Itself, which was about Roger Ebert and focused on the film critic’s job at a newspaper.  I think I may gradually work my way through documentaries about every section of a newspaper.

Source: Amazon Prime

Rating: ***

019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – Documentary Films, Part II

A: Amy
B: Being Elmo
C: Central Park Five
D: Dear Mr. Watterson
E: The Endless Summer
F: F for Fake
G: Grey Gardens
H: High School
I: Ida B. Wells: A Passion for Justice
J: Jiro Dreams of Sushi
K: Kon-Tiki
L: The Last Waltz
M: Man With a Movie Camera
N: Nanook of the North

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.

A Song and a Story: “Oliver’s Army” #AtoZChallenge

Would you like to buy an “O?”  Our “O” today is a cover of an Elvis Costello song by Peter Mulvey:

Oliver’s Army

One of the things I enjoyed most about Boston when I first moved here 20 years was the lively folk music scene.  Before my children were born, I spent many nights a week at concerts, festivals, or volunteering at Club Passim in Cambridge.  But in Boston, Cambridge and Somerville, it wasn’t necessary to go to a club to hear great music.  Buskers would attract crowds on the sidewalks and MBTA platforms.  Sometimes you’d even see some fairly well-known artists playing a T station as they found it a good place to practice new songs and get audience feedback.

One of these artists is Peter Mulvey, who has a strong following in the indie folk scene. While based in Milwaukee, Mulvey got his start busking on the T in the 1990s.  In 2002, Susan & I spotted him playing “Oliver’s Army” on the platform in Davis Square.  When he finished playing, he told us he was actually recording an album!  I’d never seen someone recording an album before, but Mulvey did indeed release his collection of cover songs – complete with the screeching steel wheels of the subway – Ten Thousand Mornings, later that year.  We also saw him perform at Club Passim, and when Susan lost her purse, he was the one to find it, but that’s a different story.

2019 Blogging A to Z Challenge – A Song and a Story

A: Always on My Mind
B: Baby Come Back and Baker Street
C: Cheek to Cheek
D: Don’t Worry, Be Happy and Doctor Jones
E: Everyday Sunshine
F: Fly Me to the Moon
G: Ghost Town
H: Hobo Humpin’ Slobo Babe
I: If I Were John Carpenter
J: Jungle Strut and Justified & Ancient
K: Kiss
L: Loaded
M: Marble Halls and My Moon, My Man
N: New York, New York

If you want to read more, check out my previous Blogging A to Z Challenges:

And dig deep into Panorama of the Mountains, by checking out my:

And, if you like Doctor Who, I have a whole ‘nother blog where I review Doctor Who stories across media: Epic Mandates.