In honor of the death-themed news which will follow, I give you:

cremains: n. pl. [blend of cremated and remains] (1947) ashes of a cremated human body (Webster’s 9th New Collegiate).

I think it’s funny, in our modern emoticon, netiquette, fugly, televangelist, ebonics, stagflation, Brangelina, Californication, spork world, to find that blended words are not new to this generation.

Can you imagine the conversation between the mortician and the bereaved family in which the word cremains was first used back in the 1940s? The family members were weeping into tissues or staring stoically at some point on the wall just over the mortician’s shoulder. When he said, “This brass urn is the standard vessel for the dearly departed’s cremains,” everybody’s teary, bloodshot and no-longer-distant eyes zeroed in on the guy, and they were all, like, “Huh?”

Some language innovations are inherently harder to introduce to the general public.

On that somber note, I give you my “History of the Dead” with 1984 Olympic shot put bronze medalist David Laut.

Mr. Laut, it seems, was shot dead at the scene last summer, and his wife, Jane, was arrested this week on a charge for his murder. She had originally told police that he had gone out to the backyard to investigate noise and was shot. Her lawyer is now saying that it was self-defense because Mr. Laut had threatened to use the handgun to kill their child and dogs and then her. She wrestled the gun away from the former shot putter and, well, shot put several bullets into his head.

So I was reading the article and thinking, wow, poor guy. And, wow, he was either really drunk or Janey baby is one bad ass chick to wrestle a gun away from a strong guy. And then I got to the little blurb about David Laut’s life, and I thought, wow, Irony is such a bitch, and I just can’t let it go without comment.

Mr. Laut won two NCAA titles at UCLA and a gold medal at the 1979 Pan American Games. He went on to win the bronze medal in the 1984 Olympics, and in 1985, he was still ranked the No. 7 shot-putter in the world and the No. 1 American. Then Irony delivered a low blow well south of the belt. He tore tendons in both knees during an agility test to become a fireman and thusly ended his shot-putting career trying to apply for a practical career for which his body would’ve seemed to be well-suited.

That’s just mean.

On that harsh note, we must move on to a more psychotic one as we examine my “Dead History of the Living” with Amy Bishop, disgruntled University of Alabama biology professor, rampaging gunner of innocent people and, possibly, sibling murderer.

Really, it’s kind of extraordinary that a woman opened fire on a crowd of co-workers in a fit of vengeful rage. That’s more of a guy thing. I’m just saying, it’s a statistical truth.

Her lawyer, however, might take a note from Jane Laut’s attorney and claim justifiable homicide for killing her three colleagues and wounding three others. She was, after all, being denied tenure — a clear threat to the life of her career.

Tenure doler-outers might’ve voted the other way had they known she owned a gun, and that she had killed her brother with one 20 years earlier. Therein lies the story behind the story.

Seems there’s shady history surrounding the dead-brother incident because of conflicting reports between whether Ms. Bishop’s actions were a result of a shotgun misfire or a shooting rampage. Hard to tell sometimes, I know.

On one hand, there’s bang, oops, omigawd, you’re hit!! Let’s get to the hospital!. And on the other hand there’s bang, bang, bang, shotgun pointed at a motorist, running through town and an arrest of the suspect behind a local business.

Statistically, witnesses don’t report seeing the same details in high-stress incidents, but no further assembly of facts or deliberation was required because the police chief took charge of the case and declared the shooting death an accident. And then all the records were lost.

Yeah, that’s not suspicious at all. Can we assume that the paper cremains were filed at the local landfill?

Bloody Irony at play on Valentine’s Day at: pam(at)viewfromthenorth40(dot)com

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