[Five Deadly Everythings]

Love and death in Robert Munsch’s “Love You Forever”

Posted in news stories, sincerity is dying, writers by Jef on November 18, 2010

Pretty big story when it came out that beloved children’s author Robert Munsch was depressed and addicted to alcohol and cocaine. Shocking, as much as these things can be when dealing with people who give insanely manic live performances (Chris Farley, Robin Williams).

What really got me though is the back story to Munsch’s classic Love You Forever book and its popular refrain, as recounted in the November issue of the Walrus.

In the late 70s, early 80s, Munsch and his wife endured the still-births of two children, Sam and Gilly. Munsch at this time was still unaware of his bipolarity, and turned to drinking to help cope with his grieving.

Ann Hui for the Walrus:

Sitting in front of an audience in Guelph five years later, [Munsch] slowly started to make up a story. It wasn’t perfect yet, but the chorus was “I’ll love you forever, I’ll like you for always. As long as I’m living, my baby you’ll be.” It didn’t go over well, but he decided at that moment to write a book about it, and that the book would be the babies’ tombstone. He went backstage and began to cry.

Munsch reading Love You Forever:

Bad parents kill kids, v2.0

Posted in 8 million ways, news stories, tech by Jef on March 19, 2010

Recently there was a popular story about a baby girl who starved to death while her parents were off at a cyber-cafe playing a video game. A video game in which users raise a virtual baby.

It’s not surprising that a story so equally horrifying as it is ironic generated some discussion. Slate‘s William Saletan‘s two cents win the prize for Loudest Alarm Bells:

Maybe this is just a weird story about a sick couple on the other side of the planet. But look in the mirror. Every time you answer your cell phone in traffic, squander your work day on YouTube, text a colleague during dinner, or turn on the TV to escape your kids, you’re leaving this world. You’re neglecting the people around you, sometimes at the risk of killing them.

Further:

That’s the real horror behind the Korean story: The balance of power between the worlds is shifting. Here and there, virtual reality is gaining the upper hand. The clearest evidence is death. When people consumed by the digital world begin to die and kill in the physical world, flesh is losing its grip.

The truth of the matter though, after both the horror and the novelty wears off, is that many people play “Farmville” but don’t eat enough vegetables let alone garden, and that never causes us to herald a war between the corporeal and the Matrix. For a more sober take, the Guardian notes that in a study, “a small proportion of internet users were classed as internet addicts and that people in this group were more likely to be depressed than non-addicted users.” i.e. This story is more about mental health than it is about the robot apocalypse, which I agree with.

Not that Saletan’s panic doesn’t drive him to some genuinely useful life suggestions:

So get the hell out of here. Go kiss your spouse, hug your kids, or walk down the hall and say hello to your colleagues. There’s a beautiful world out there. Live in it.

Not bad ideas. But maybe he could have included something about feeding your kid?