Kids dying to pass Joe's course have some creative ideas

Nov 27 2010 - 11:48pm


My friend Joe Crnich does a fun thing with video and theater students at the DaVinci Academy: He asks them how they want to die.

Joe's favorite answer, ever, is the boy who said he wanted to die "in a naked woman avalanche." Ah, youth!

The question is part of a self-discovery exercise.

Good art comes from within. The play "A Chorus Line" starts with long interviews of who and what the actors are, even to revealing embarrassing secrets. Joe doesn't ask anyone to admit they're gay, but he's doing much the same thing.

Pondering favorite journeys, likes and dislikes, dreams of perfect happiness and the people they most admire lets his students bring their feelings about those things to the surface where they can be used. I'm glad to see a wide range of favorite plays: "The Music Man," "Much Ado About Nothing," "Les Miserables," "Grease," "Sound of Music," ("for the story line," one kid says) and "Spamalot," the Monty Python thing.

Those are plays done by high schools around here, but isn't that the point? You expose kids to those things, they remember and build a well of experience to use later in life.

"The Music Man" shows how political hooey gets sold, and don't you wish more people today were good at recognizing that? "Spamalot" is creativity on steroids. In the future, only the really creative will survive.

"Les Miserable" shows why government rules always need to be tempered with humanity.

The students say their heroes are their parents, a few school chums, one or two teachers. One boy says "My friends and family. Everyone, really. I wouldn't be who I am without everyone I know, even people I don't know."

This is the same thoughtful kid who wants to die "sleeping on a beach under the stars." If the location could be at Double Arch in Arches National Park, I'd pick that one.

If they can come back after death they want to be "a freakin' Jedi," Ben Franklin, a maple tree, a goat, or "probably a turtle; I've always liked turtles."

A lot of them joke about dying, but the question plants a seed. Some of their chosen deaths are pretty creative, others are things I'd avoid.

The truth is, we very rarely get to pick.

* Terminal illness.

* Doing karate.

* In the water. I would drown.

* Be kidnapped and taken into a criminal basement and stabbed to death and dumped in a nearby well. :(

* In sleep.

* From a sickness.

* Get my skeleton ripped out.

* Spine ripped out.

* Slow and painless.

* Happily.

* Skydiving and not having a parachute.

* When I have done everything in my life, then I would like to fall asleep and never wake up again.

* In some extreme act.

* Really old when sleeping.

* Die @ 100 year scuba diving, eaten by a shark.

* Shot in the head.

* Getting shot in a drive-by.

* Killed by a hit man.

* Suicide off building.

* Saving earth from invasive evil carrots.

* Mugged and throat slit and decapitated.

* "To perform an art piece and during climax and finale be hung (everyone watching)."

* "In combat while taking out the entire enemy and saving someone, then have my body put in a humvee and be dropped on the enemy country."

* "Knowing that I was being myself and helped others."

* Be in a car explosion.

* Jumping into the Grand Canyon.

* Doesn't want to.

Sorry kid, that last one won't work.

Coming Tuesday: An expert's recommendation.

Wasatch Rambler is the opinion of Charles Trentelman. You can call him at 801-625-4232 or e-mail He also blogs at

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