September, 2015

Fine Dying

September 13th, 2015 32 Comments


Grim Reaper

I got a little crazy the other night.

I was exhausted and had a headache and all I wanted was to watch some boxing or some great old movie on television, but there was nothing, absolutely nothing, I wanted to watch. And then a curious thing happened. Scrolling through the two-hundred some channels of the kind of mind-numbing moronic pabulum George Orwell warned us all about, I found myself gravitating to various reality television networks showing severely dysfunctional people, families, and businesses as entertainment. And suddenly it hit me: Create your own network! I realized I had a prime opportunity to make myself a bazillionaire if only I could come up with a topic guaranteed to be of interest to large numbers of people, and then create mindless and tasteless television shows around that topic. And what topic could possibly be of more interest to more people than death?

What follows is my official and confidential prospectus. I will be establishing a PayPal account for those of you who wish to get in on the ground floor and invest in this guaranteed money-maker.


Note: the following prospectus is confidential. Reading it implies a tacit agreement of confidentiality.




The Fine Dying Network


At Last!

A television network guaranteed to be of “significant interest” (according to a Joseph G. MacGruder & Associates, Inc. nationwide poll) to virtually 100% of potential viewers!


At Last!

A television network that harnesses the fascination and curiosity of over 306 million people!

(Based on current population estimates by the US Census Bureau, but with a worldwide potential viewing audience of billions!)


At Last!

A television network that offers viewers of all ages entertaining and informational programming focusing on one of the most fascinating and compelling interest areas of 92% of potential viewing respondents – Death! (Source: Joseph G. MacGruder & Associates, Inc. polling services)


At Last!

A television network with 24-hour programming focused on all aspects of Death and Death-related events:


Potential Shows:

Marking Time! – a lighthearted romp through headstones and mausoleums around the world, focusing on different areas of interest: elaborate family resting places; witty and amusing epitaphs; unusual designs and materials; the above-ground graveyards of New Orleans; the catacombs of Paris, Rome, the Vatican City, and many, many more!

Ah, Sweet Mystery of Death! – a serious look at how different cultures around the world face Death and treat the dying, an informative but entertaining look at the end of the road.

The Comforting Ritual! – funeral services and rituals throughout history; in different countries and different cultures; how different religions and cultures bury, burn, or otherwise dispose of their dead. Informative and educational!

A Live Eye For the Dead Guy! – expert advice on how to portray the image you want of yourself for the last time – for eternity! What to wear, hair styles, how to coordinate your clothes with your casket, makeup tips, and so much more!

Where to Rest? – An insider’s guide to the toniest and most exclusive cemeteries in America.

Suicide, Getting It Right the First Time! – informational programming geared for those states with assisted-suicide laws, but with interest and information for all viewers.

Caskets On A Dime! – practical, down-to-earth advice on how and where to buy an affordable casket, for yourself or a loved one! Covering the whole range of economic options from CostCo and other big-box chains to private mortuaries with reasonable prices. A program designed to help you make those practical decisions balancing need and want.

Caskets To Die For! (sister program) – Where to find the most expensive, the most gaudy, the most egregious, the most luxurious, the most pretentious, the caskets that will make your neighbors die of envy!

Final Resting Places of the Rich and Famous! – a worldwide tour of famous grave sites, from Marilyn Monroe to Al Capone, from Napoleon to Elizabeth the Great, from King Tut to Mumtaz (“Taj”) Mahal, visit all your favorites in the comfort and privacy of your own home!

Whither? – A panel of experts from all major denominations will discuss where we go in the next life and how to prepare for that destination.

The Iron Mortician! – competitive embalming, with morticians racing each other and the clock, the results to be judged by a panel of experts and at least one celebrity (to be named)!

The Iron Surgeon! – competitive, last-ditch-last-hope surgeries on terminally-ill patients, with celebrity surgeons competing against themselves and the clock and, above all, with Death himself! (Patients who do not survive will be eligible for appearance on The Iron Mortician.)

And much, much more – 24-hours a day of entertainment and information on the many diverse aspects of the topic that affects all of us! High-stakes competition, re-enactments of famous deaths, funniest home videos, all of it hosted by celebrities, top models, internationally recognized sports figures, and famous experts in their field.



The Fine Dying Network will:

Create the first national entertainment brand focused on Death and the Funeral Industry.

Target virtually everyone! 100% of the general population identified themselves as being likely to die.

Of those, out of 105 million households, over 60% expressed a very high interest in death, and an additional 36% expressed some interest!

The demographics of those expressing interest in The Fine Dying Network are representative of the general national population.

Respondents had very clear emotional reasons for their interest in watching:

*Make them smarter about a topic of interest

*Be entertaining and fun to watch

*Be great family viewing

*Be inspirational

Respondents see this channel as solid “infotainment”!

Has unlimited economic possibilities! (The funeral services industry alone has a direct economic impact of over $150 billion!

Has direct appeal for the families, heirs, and survivors of the approximately 2.5 million people who die every year in America alone!

Research shows that every household in America either has experienced or expects to experience a death at some point in the future, indicating a significant potential for attracting a large number of paying viewers.


Our Programming Strategy:

Our network is designed to appeal not only to the millions of Americans who are dying, but to the entire population, because, let’s face it, we all gotta go!

The programming is assembled to include a balanced view of Death.

By keeping the daily programming predictable and consistent, we can ensure the content provides value to each individual.


Your Involvement:

If interested we will forward a NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and upon its receipt we will mail you your own PowerPoint Presentation.

We look forward to hearing from you about this once in a lifetime (you should pardon the expression) investment opportunity before it’s too late!

Oath of Office

September 10th, 2015 8 Comments

liberty kissing justice


I’ve been following the Kim Davis saga on the news. In case you live in a country that doesn’t air American news stories, Kim Davis is the county clerk in Kentucky who went to jail rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

On all the news channels I watch (in descending order of priority that would be Fox, CNN, CBS, ABC, and PBS), the hue and cry being raised is that, regardless of her religious convictions, as a government official she has taken an oath to obey the law and—like it or not—same-sex marriage “is now the law of the land.”

(I have put that in quotes because it is in fact not the law of the land. Contrary to what so many people believe, no ruling by the Supreme Court is anything other than a ruling on the constitutional interpretation regarding a specific case. So, same-sex marriage is not the law of the land and will not be a law until congress writes it up and passes it as such, and—just as a reminder—only congress can pass a law, no matter what President Obama seems to think to the contrary. However, since most people erroneously think of every syllable that comes out of the Supreme Court’s mouth as law of the land, and since that is how most of the media are talking about it, and because I don’t wish to get enmeshed in a lengthy constitutional legal argument, I will it pretend it is law.)

I have no particular feelings about same-sex marriage beyond the sort of vague, universal I’d-like-everyone-to-be-happy sentiment that most people feel about topics that do not directly affect them. But I do happen to think the “oath of office” argument is a very valid point and one with which I happen to agree. But my issue is not with Kim Davis so much as it is with the media. No news organization, conservative or liberal, has ever, until now, as far as I know, felt that the laws of the land and the oath of office to uphold those laws were significant enough to merit the condemnation of elected officials who chose to ignore them.

Case in point: When Gavin Newsome was mayor of San Francisco, same-sex marriages were against the law in California, yet Mr. Newsome, an elected official, was ballyhooed for very publicly ignoring his oath of office, flouting the law he had sworn to uphold, and personally issuing marriage licenses at city hall to same-sex couples from all over the state.

Case in point: In 2014, then Attorney General, Eric Holder, the top law enforcement officer in the nation, chose to ignore his oath of office and gave a speech to the states attorneys general in which he praised state prosecutors who declined to defend their states’ bans on same-sex marriage. He also gave a wink-and-a-nod to state legalization of marijuana, even though that drug remains illegal at the federal level.

Case in point: Four states have taken former Attorney General Eric Holder at his word and legalized the possession, sale, transportation, and cultivation of marijuana, even though all those activities remain illegal at the federal level, the elected officials of those states thereby ignoring both their oath of office and the “preemption doctrine” expressly laid out in Article VI, clause 2 of the constitution they swore to uphold and defend.

Case in point: President Obama himself correctly stated twenty-two times that he could not legally amend immigration law by himself, yet he then turned around and did precisely that through executive action.

Case in point: Currently, the elected officials at various levels in over two hundred cities, counties, and states across the country have decided to ignore federal law and their oath of office and have declared themselves “sanctuaries” for illegal aliens.

I could go on.

It makes no difference what your opinion is of any of these laws. It makes no difference what your conscience may dictate. If you are an official, at any level, from county clerk to president of the United States, you take an oath to “uphold” or “protect” and “defend” (the precise wording various somewhat with the level of the position and the location of the office held) both the constitution and the laws of this country and/or the state in which the oath is being given.

Since the President and the former Attorney General both saw fit to ignore and violate their oath, and since multiple officials at multiple levels of government all across this country have seen fit to follow their example, why is everyone getting wrapped around the axle because a country clerk sees fit to do what so many others above her have done? After all, it’s just a violation of her oath of office, and clearly no one at any level these days pays much attention to anything as quaint and old-fashioned as taking an oath.

In fact, I think we all ought to forget all about all laws of the land and just do what we personally think is right, and let the devil take the hindmost. And if there is one thing I can guarantee, it is that if our elected officials don’t see fit to honor their oath of office, the devil will take the hindmost.

Jay Dusard Photography Workshop

September 3rd, 2015 10 Comments

Warner and Wendy (Small)

I got an email the other day from my friend the world-renowned award-winning photographer, Jay Dusard. In case any of you are unfamiliar with his work, the photographs sprinkled throughout this blog are all his (and these are just the first ones I snatched out of my files) as well as the book reproduced here,

Jay Dusard book

which is just one of many he has published.

Jay Dusard photo

Jay is co-instructing—with Bruce Bambaum ( and Bill Ellzey ( a photography workshop that will be held in the High Sierras and Death Valley this coming October 25th through the 31st. As Jay’s email pointed out, these are some of the most beautiful and spectacular landscapes in the American West (I would have said the world) and at one of the most beautiful times of the year to be there.

Jay Dusard, Ian (Small)

If any of you are passionate about photography and wish to study with the best of the best, visit Bruce Bambaum’s website ( for more information. I can’t recommend these guys highly enough, and—as Jay pointed out—while they’re all still in good health, none of them is getting any younger, and the end of the workshop trail is on the horizon.

Jay Dusard vaqueros (Small)

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