Muse Matters

One of my assignments in my Intro to Lit courses was to take a blog post that I gave them and then convert that into a poem, a short story of any length, or a short play or scene from a play.  And to be fair, since they are not practiced or professional writers, I also offer an alternative: describe how you might go about creating a poem, short story, or play from the blog post.  Students were always grateful to have this alternative and would often write the creative piece afterwards.

I am thinking the same way this morning about this blog post. I wanted it to be about the Wikipedia Newsletter called “Weeklypedia Digest”.


Join a list to receive a weekly email with the top twenty Wikipedia articles and top five Wikipedia discussions from this weekk, available in English and more languages. This project retrieves a list of the week’s recent changes using Wikimedia Tool Labs, and delivers emails using MailChimp.

Specifically, it is the obituaries there that interested me.  I focused on the March listings so far.

First, I skimmed through the names and discovered only these which I had highlighted using and then scraping them from the margins with the extension called “Fetch”:

Deaths in 2021 – Wikipedia

– Ed Armbrister, 72, Bahamian baseball player (Cincinnati Reds), complications from diabetes.[9]

– Timur Faizutdinov, 19, Russian ice hockey player (HC Dinamo Saint Petersburg), hit by puck.[32]

– Yaphet Kotto, 81, American actor (Live and Let Die, Alien, Homicide: Life on the Street).[60]

– Ehrling Wahlgren [sv], 74, Swedish weightlifter and reality television contestant (Expediton Robinson).[78]

– Marvelous Marvin Hagler, 66, American Hall of Fame boxer, undisputed middleweight champion (1980–1987).[111]

– Boston Harbor, 27, American Thoroughbred racehorse.[215]

– Roger Mudd, 93, American broadcast journalist (Meet the Press, NBC Nightly News), complications from kidney failure.[232]


Then I scribbled down these questions that arose in my head:

How many people die planetwide every year?

How many were judged worthy of notice in Wikipedia’s “Deaths in 2021:March”?

What does this say about our values as a culture?

What does this say about my values?

Why did I pay attention to ones above? (Some were familiar to me, others were just bizarre like death by hockey puck.)

How many from COVID 19?

Finally, I began to wonder why I paid attention to some things in the original skim that I did and not to others like this one. I don’t understand how I missed it. Such an amazing book and life.


– Norton Juster, 91, American author (The Phantom Tollbooth, The Dot and the Line, The Hello, Goodbye Window), complications from a stroke.[268]


Why don’t we published half-baked stuff more often as a way of sharing the raw, uncooked quotidien realities we all experience every day.  Not every set of observations and curiosities needs to become a finished artifact, does it? No.  It can stay raw if you like. Hell, it’s on a blog so who is ever going to see it.  Maybe my student might like to see that noting  the meta is actually a good thing, a fun path.



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