Oregonian's obituaries: "streamlined" or too terse?

The Oregonian started their "streamlined" obituaries today. You can immediately see they are a lot shorter; a line about the deceased's occupation, closest survivors, and where the memorial service will be held.
The problem with this is that the obituary successfully wipes out everything that was interesting about this feature of the paper. I liked scanning the obituaries to see people's previous employers, anecdotes about various lives, and maybe if I knew anyone in their extended family.
The Oregonian ran one obit twice, once on Sunday in full form, and once on Monday in the new abbreviated format, so you can see the difference for yourself.
Here's the new style that ran on Monday, January 26, 2009:
Corey Ray Ellis
Oct 11,1977 - Jan 20, 2009
Born in St. Helens. He was a cook.
Survived by this father, Raymond; and his fiancee, Heather Hausen.
A celebration of life will be at 2 pm, Saturdays, Jan 32, in the Caples House in Columbia City. Arrangements by Columbia Funeral Home.

Here's the old style that ran on Sunday, January 25, 2009:
Corey Ray Ellis
A service will be at 2 pm Saturday, Jan 31, 2009, in the Caples House Museum in Columbia City for Corey Ray ellis, who died Jan, 20 of cancer at age 31.
Corey Ray Ellis was born Oct. 11, 1977, in St. Helens. He graduated from St. Helens High School and served in the Air Force for seven years, including in the Persian Gulf. He lived in Albany before moving to Portland in 2006, and was a cook for the Airport Restaurant for the past six years.
Survivors include his father, Raymond; sisters, Michelle Mancera and Heather Ronald; brother, Stephan; grandparents, Julia and Lewis Briggs Sr.; and girlfriend Heather Hansen.
Arrangements by Columbia Funeral Home.

I understand that revenue for the Oregonian is being lost to online news and advertising, and also that the economy right now is tough so they're looking to increase income wherever possible, but this feels like a low blow. Even the web versions of the obituaries seem to have been streamlined, unless you pay for a larger notice.

So, should there be a strike? Maybe everyone in Portland should stop dying until they Oregonian changes their policy?
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Let's get busy?

Obama signed an executive order ending Bush's embarrassing and offensive position on torture. As CNN.com reports:
A second executive order formally bans torture by requiring that the Army field manual be used as the guide for terror interrogations. That essentially ends the Bush administration's CIA program of enhanced interrogation methods.
"We believe that the Army field manual reflects the best judgment of our military, that we can abide by a rule that says we don't torture, but that we can still effectively obtain the intelligence that we need," Obama said.
"This is me following through ... on an understanding that dates back to our founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of conduct not just when it's easy but also when it's hard."

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#6 has left the Village

Patrick McGoohan as Number Six, in a scene fro...Image via WikipediaRIP Patrick McGoohan, March 19, 1928 – January 13, 2009.

As a popular actor Patrick McGoohan played a lot of roles, from the "bomb"astic Dr. Paul Ruth in Scanners to the evil Dr. Kiviat in Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend... uh, OK, maybe he was a little stereotyped in his later life. But with good reason: how does one top playing #6 in the BBC series The Prisoner?

I remember the first time I ever saw The Prisoner. Circa 1976 my family was in Lodi, California at a Motel 6, and I was trying to avoid the blistering valley heat while my dad spent the day at a hot rod show. I turned on the TV and was rewarded with what I (still) think is the most distinctive hour of televsion: The final episode of The Prisoner, Fall Out. My thirteen year old mind was blown.

It wasn't until a couple years later when WKAR started running the full series on Friday nights that I realized the depth of the series. Loosely based on the success of the series Danger Man (aka Secret Agent in the US), the premise of The Prisoner is that Patrick McGoohan plays a British agent who is spirited away to a mysterious Village where they try to extract from him the reason for his sudden resignation. McGoohan's character is never named, but called #6. His antagonist is always called #2, but played by a different actor in nearly every episode. Number Two is apparently doing the bidding of the mysterious #1. In the final two episodes we learn who is #1 (or, at least, we learn something. It's up to you to interpret who, or what, is #1).

What makes The Prisoner such a standout? Well, for one, the way the drama was both externalized and psychological. #6 was physically trying to escape from the Village, while also avoiding the pressures of a system that was trying to break his will. Not many TV shows successfully explore the inner motivations of characters in ways other than dialogue (The Twilight Zone and Quantum Leap being two other sci-fi series which took chances in bringing the inner dialogue out in unusual ways). Week after week the series reflected a mental drama that covered Cold War politics, finding meaning in a mass marketed world, and what makes a person unique, while still keeping the excitement of a James Bond thriller.

Another great thing is the total break from convention. The characters had numbers instead of names, the antagonist was a different actor every week, and even the title sequences were unpredictable. This was a show that made you think: What's going on here? For example, in Living in Harmony the show starts as if it were a western. It's not until the closing credits that they admit you've been watching The Prisoner. The show was apparently so provocative that WKAR, the local public broadcasting station, chose to air a ten minute analysis immediate following each episode. This would help round out the hour, since it was shown without commercial interruptions on public broadcasting, but it acted as a footnote to explain what you'd just seen.

And the show had style. Who can forget the explosive opening sequence where McGoohan resigns, storms out of the agency, and hops in his cool Lotus Seven with the license place KAR 120C. If the car was an actor, it would have been complaining for more lines, but it showed up in the credits and in a couple key episodes (Fall Out and Many Happy Returns). In addition to the whole crazy world of the Village, which is set in the resort town of Portmeirion in Wales, there's one key visual that almost everyone I've met who's seen the show remembers: Rover. Rover is a giant ball which was sent out almost every episode to retrieve #6. Patrick McGoohan would be running his hardest along the water's edge, his flat tennis shoes thrashing across the sand, and suddenly there would be a roar and Rover would burst up (from where?) and chase him down. The last we'd see of the poor prisoner before he was back in the Village was the outline of his face through the elastic of Rover's bubble, contorted in a silent scream. If that doesn't show up in later nightmares then you lack imagination.

Finally, what impressed me most about The Prisoner is that it had an ending. In all my TV watching history I'd never seen a show that deliberately came to a close. Sure, there was
Rescue from Gilligan's Island, but that was over 10 years after the series had been canceled (I'm not even going to mention The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island). And the truth may have been out there for the X-files, but it never got into the show: instead there were two movies that just asked more questions. When I first saw The Prisoner it was the first show to plan to conclude itself, rather than waiting for the sponsors and executive heads to drop the axe (since then I've seen quite a few other British shows that have conclusions, and of course "miniseries" have endings, but that's a different situation.)

A sad postscript to this is that AMC is apparently remaking the series. According to Yahoo news:
"His creation of 'The Prisoner' made an indelible mark on the sci-fi, fantasy and political thriller genres, creating one of the most iconic characters of all time," AMC said in a statement Wednesday. "AMC hopes to honor his legacy in our re-imagining of 'The Prisoner.'"
In my opinion, there are some things that can only be made once. If you hope to honor the legacy of Patrick McGoohan, let your mind escape the conventionality of the Village and let your inner Rover drag back some new ideas.

Here are a couple good links:

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Change in Oregonian's obituary policy?

07 -- Newspaper headlines for June DILO -- PIC...Image by georgeogoodman via FlickrIs the Oregonian downsizing the Obits page just like everything else? I noticed this in Monday and Tuesday's Oregonian (01/07/09):
To Our Readers: The Oregonian's free obituaries will have a new, streamlined format starting later this month.
As part of that change, a new Community Connections Team will now take submissions. We also offer paid obituaries with expanded personal information and photos.
It continues
We remain dedicated to offering free obituaries, something many newspapers have abandoned. And we hope to continue to make the process easy, whether you opt for the unpaid version or buy the expanded one.

They have a link that takes you to their obit submission page. As far as I can see there's no mention of this "streamlined" format anywhere on that page.

This sounds like a slightly veiled threat: "buy an obituary or we'll start charging everyone for obits." And, it might strike hardest: in the older population, people who might not be used to reading their news online.
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