Sometimes, One Death Is Not A Tragedy

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Since Big Joe Stalin seems to be coming back into vogue, I'm reminded of a what-if exercise Nick Gillespie and I did a while back: What if all the Soviet villains had died in dramatically appropriate ways? Lavrenti Beria is closely inspecting the ice sculpture at some state dinner when the sculptor slips and accidentally drives his ice pick into the NKVD chief's head. On a walking tour of a Ukraine footwear factory, Nikita Kruschev is killed as a rogue shoe pops out of the machinery and bonks him on the head. As the Heinkels bomb Moscow, Stalin sits calmly in his bomb shelter, but a shock wave tips over a bookcase full of heavy volumes of statistics, crushing the the Secretary General. And so on. Suggestions welcome.

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  1. Leon Trotsky, during a thoughtful break, sucks on the poison pen that spelled out “permanent revolution.”

  2. Brezhnev mummified in a concrete coffin.

  3. Yagoda and Yezhov frozen to death in Siberia.

  4. Molotov dies of hyperglycemic shock at an embassy party after he decides to secretly split the entire birthday cake with a German consul.

  5. While investgaing a steel mill following rumors of unrest, Felix Dzerzhinksy falls into a vat of molten iron.

  6. Not a Soviet, but surely we can all imagine some appropriate scenario for our own master of the secret police, J. Edgar Hoover!

  7. Lenin dies of alcohol poisoning after drinking far too many White Russians. But not before lingering, untreated, in a spartan hospital corridor because all the nurses are on strike.

  8. J. Edgar Hoover

    After the mafia go public with all the dirt they have on him, finally hangs himself with a pair of his own pantyhose.

  9. On anniversary of glorious Soviet invasion of Hungary, Yuri Andropov visit Budapest. While touring Chain Bridge, he come too close to edge … and drop off.

  10. how ’bout sorta soviet Fidel Castro dying when his cigar mysteriously explodes…wait…I think somebody already tried that one.

    How ’bout he chokes on a piece of hard candy that he carries with him to give the children of “kooba”.

    Or he dies while touring a cigar plant and accidentally winds up distributed throughout a case of hand-rolled cohibas…

    …which Rush Limbaugh, Ahnold Schwartzeneger and Ann Coulter are shown smoking on the July 2005 issue of Cigar Afficianado magazine

  11. …Nikita Kruschev is killed as a rogue shoe pops out of the machinery and bonks him on the head

    I don’t get this one.

  12. He once gave a rousing speech while banging his shoe on the podium and promising that “we will bury you.”

    As for what he wanted to bury us with, I’m not sure. Old shoes perhaps.

  13. Pavel,

    I’ve heard that Khruschev was actually mistranslated; the Russian which translates literally as “we will bury you,” is an idiom meaning “we will outlast you.” Of course, we have similar expressions in English; think of a 19th century frontier woman talking about how many of her children she’s “buried”, ie outlived.

    Then again, maybe they were pinko commie apologists.

  14. Serious question, I wonder what the impact would be of Saddam being dispatched via a plastic shredder.

  15. Molotov dies of hyperglycemic shock at an embassy party after he decides to secretly split the entire birthday cake with a German consul.

    I think Molotov has to be incinerated in an accident involving a Flaming Sambuca or some other incendiary cocktail.

  16. Suggestions welcome.

    Get a girlfriend.

  17. Cain,

    That was positively Unborn-Angel-esque. 😀

  18. Cain,

    Or a boyfriend.

  19. How about Brezhnev’s house gets invaded by the soviet military, he gets sent to a forced labor camp. While there he complains and tries to leave, and is promptly run over by a tank.

  20. Lenin dies after eating an omelette made from eggs with salmonella.

    (Actually the “can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs” line was coined by someone else. But it’s closely associated with Lenin, for some reason.)

  21. The Red Army is conducting operations in Thailand. Mikhail Gorbachev arrives to boost the morale of the troops. The Thai’s go on the offensive while Gorby is there and they successfully kill him. The Soviet’s defensive perimeter around their leader failed due to poor military intelligence — the couldn’t find a decent strategic map of Thailand.

  22. Another Gorby one …

    Tired of Raisa’s nagging about how their backyard is such a mess, Mikhail heads outside with his gardening tools. While he is picking away at a 25 year old retaining wall, the wall suddenly collapses and he is crushed by tons of dirt and concrete.

  23. Ooh! OT, but this thread made me think of something. In Ken MacLeod’s SF novel Newton’s Wake, one of the characters writes rather inaccurate “historical” plays about Old Lost Earth.

    (From review at http://www.emcit.com/emcit103.shtml — scroll down to “Comic Opera”…)

    For example there is the hilarious farce set in the time of the American Empire called The Madness of George II. But perhaps his most famous work is the Shakespearean pastiche, The Tragedy of Leonid Brezhnev, Prince of Muscovy, in which the leaders of Soviet Russia are portrayed as a squabbling gang of feudal barons.

    The play’s about the noble Prince Brezhnev, treacherously murdered by the traitor Gorbachev. There’s a two-page excerpt from the play in the novel, where the fur-clad Soviet nobles huddle over an oaken table in a torchlit great hall that’s adorned with swords and Kalishnikovs and such medieval weaponry. I can only find this snippet online:

    Later. A forest

    Enter two conspirators.

    SCHEVARDNADZE: While Brezhnev tarries nothing can be changed.

    GORBACHEV (aside): His passing? That can be arranged.

    Exeunt, pursued by a bear.

  24. Pol Pot visits a collective farm to inspect how the new society is being created by all those bourgeoise forceably expelled from Phnom Penh. While walking through a field of beans, Pol and his minions pass behind one of the ex-office workers-turned farmers, who has ditched his much-needed eyeglasses. His backswing is a little out of control, and Pot gets it in the neck with a hoe. The dictator bleeds out before emergency care can reach him.

    Kevin

  25. Grover Norquist

    Becomes so weak from the South Beach Diet he falls in his bathtub and drowns.

  26. Franklin D. Roosevelt — dies of sheer fright.

  27. Mao Tse-Tung — Falls into patch of a hundred blooming roses, pricked by thousands of thorns, bleeds to death.

    Ho Chi Minh — While hiking along a trail, drowns after falling into a quagmire.

    Che Guevara — Motorcycle accident. Caused when, while he is riding along, a trendy T-shirt blows into his face, obscuring his vision.

  28. Tim Cavanaugh…forgets what the point is of the incredibly long paragraph he’s writing about Lebanese politics and accidentally jabs his pen into his eye in a fit of exasperation.

  29. Nikita Kruschev — While touring that Ukrainian footwear factory, accidentally backs into a huge stack of boxed-up shoes, which falls on him, crushing and burying him.

    Fidel Castro — While touring a sugar field, accidentally walks into a worker’s swinging machete, takes it in the groin area — is “Castro-ated.”

  30. In a publicity stunt, MC Hammer skydives into a Washington National game.

    His shoot fails to open and he falls into the VIP seats.

    Tom Delay is crushed by The Hammer.

  31. Chute! I meant “chute”

    Damn…

  32. Ted Kennedy dies of rabies (hydrophobia).

  33. Nikita Kruschev — While touring that Ukrainian footwear factory, accidentally backs into a huge stack of boxed-up shoes, which falls on him, crushing and burying him…

    In an amazing coincidence for a post-modern command economy every pair is a size 9 black.

  34. Pius IV is visiting a Spanish monestary. On the first night, the priests slaughter their finest bull to prepare a meal for the honored guest. Famished from his travels, the pope does not wait for his steak to cool to a safe temperature. His holiness scalds his tongue and dies from the infection several days later.

  35. Tim Cavanaugh drowns in a toilet bowl

  36. For example there is the hilarious farce set in the time of the American Empire called The Madness of George II. But perhaps his most famous work is the Shakespearean pastiche, The Tragedy of Leonid Brezhnev, Prince of Muscovy, in which the leaders of Soviet Russia are portrayed as a squabbling gang of feudal barons.

    Stevo, I’m currently trying to read The Golden Compass, the first volume in Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” series, and while it doesn’t seem bad, I’m looking at 300+ pages to go, which will only get me through the first volume of what is at least a trilogy. (In other words, I’m about to put it aside.) There’s a similar counterfactual historical context, where it’s the twentieth century but they’re discussing Tartars who are marching on Muscovy, Pope Calvin’s having moved the Vatican to Geneva back in the sixteenth century, etc. Hardy Har Har. Can you or anybody else tell me if there’s any reason to press on with this book?

  37. Che Guevara — Motorcycle accident. Caused when, while he is riding along, a trendy T-shirt blows into his face, obscuring his vision.

    Good one, Stevo.

  38. Kim Jung Il tries to show the world he has the power to survive a nuclear blast after chaining himself to an ICBM. The missile accidentally goes off course slamming into Chinese Parliament.

  39. Idi Amin falls into machinery at Gerber baby food plant; subsequently fed to millions of babies.

  40. Re shoe factory: In an amazing coincidence for a post-modern command economy every pair is a size 9 black.

    Also, all are made for the left foot.

  41. Tim: Stevo, I’m currently trying to read The Golden Compass, the first volume in Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” series … Can you or anybody else tell me if there’s any reason to press on with this book?

    Sorry, I’m afraid I’m not familiar with it. I read a lot of SF, and a fair amount of alternate-history stuff (www.uchronia.net is a great reference if you’re into that), but these days I have a hard time getting all the way through mega-novels. (I abandoned Atlas Shrugged halfway through and finished it two years later; I like Neal Stephenson and got most of the way through his chunky historical Quicksilver and mostly liked it, but never finished it.)

  42. In a publicity stunt, MC Hammer skydives into a Washington National game… His [chute] fails to open and he falls into the VIP seats…

    But wouldn’t his pants act as a reserve chute? In fact, didn’t I see him in some commercial where exactly that happened?

  43. Harry Anslinger contracts cancer, needs chemo-therapy to fight it, but also needs marijuana to fight the nausea it brings.

    Has his doobs banned by a federal judge and dies lying on the floor of his bathroom, chocking on his own vomit.

    Tom

  44. these days I have a hard time getting all the way through mega-novels.

    Who doesn’t? This is why I think SF/Fantasy fans are really the ultimate fans. Who else would regularly commit to trilogies?

  45. Actually, until recently you could determine the leader of Russia by a simple method– alternation of the bald and the hairy:

    Lenin–bald
    Stalin–had hair
    Khrushchev–bald
    Brezhnev–had hair
    Andropov–bald
    Chernenko–had hair
    Gorbachev–bald
    Yeltsin–had hair

    Unfortunately, Putin somewhat spoils the pattern: not as hairy as, say, Brezhnev, but not bald, either. But maybe he’s wearing a wig…

  46. Vladimir Lenin

    Before an important speech during a violent period of the Russian Revolution, Lenin is warned not to appear due to the risk of assassination. He is dismissive because a fortune-teller had told him he would die of a stroke. During the speech, he is shot in the head. Years later, the gunshot wounds would lead to a series of strokes, killing him.

    His lifeless corpse is mummified to give it the appearance of life, but inevitably, even this begins to decay.

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