Saturday, August 30, 2014

3 Chords & the Truth: What's not to like?



Today on the Big Show, your Mighty Favog jumps the shark.

I find it isn't too bad if you drink enough Geritol beforehand.


Let's just say that my parents were playing the long game with all those Saturday evening force feedings of The Lawrence Welk Show all those years ago. All they needed was a Magnavox console and a captive audience.

Well played, damn you.

For more information on your humble host's condition, kindly tune in to the new edition of 3 Chords & the Truth, airing right now somewhere on the Internets. Really, this week's program is an exceptional one. Even the, well, you know. . . .

I can't say much more about it right now. It's way past my bedtime, and I think I may have iron-poor blood.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Adios, au revoir, auf wiedersehen . . . good night!



Thursday, August 28, 2014

Design by Beetlejuice

http://www1.newseum.org/todaysfrontpages/hr.asp?fpVname=NE_LJS&ref_pge=gal&b_pge=9

This is what I call putting 10 pounds of "design" in a 5-pound bag.

Predictably, the sack tore at the Lincoln (Neb.) Journal-Star, and we ended up with the Ghostbusters blasting the hell out of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man (or something supernatural) right above a story about Omaha cops blasting the hell out of a Airsoft-armed robber . . . and a sound man for the Cops TV show. Tacky, much?

I do love me some nice newspaper design, and once upon a time, I had something of a knack for it. But I love me some journalistic integrity more. And when you let "designers" and artists run roughshod over the editorial process in the name of making tomorrow's bird cage liner nice and pretty today, weirdness is sure to ensue all too often. Because artists.

BUT WHAT gets me is that this isn't that outstanding of a page, designwise. Obviously, the Design Powers That Be appear wedded to having a story with less-than-compelling photos as the centerpiece.

In this case, a better journalistic page would have been a better designed one, too. It would have been easy to avoid this journalistic -- and common-sense -- train wreck. As Lou Grant is my witness, if I've seen front pages built around mediocre art once, I've seen it a thousand times.

On the other hand, if big pictures of crumbling concrete are that near and dear to your ink-stained heart, and you just can't make the lead story the centerpiece . . . just find another Ghostbusters picture for the top of the page. Duh.


You know what I'd do if I were a newspaper editor trying to herd a bunch of cats designers? I'd ask Jim Romenesko for an 8x10 glossy photo of himself and I'd turn it into a bunch of posters like this, to be displayed prominently around the newsroom . . . especially around the design desk.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Cops crewman shot to death
as Omaha joins deadly meme

Bad boys, bad boys whatcha want
Whatcha gonna do when sheriff John Brown come for you tell me whatcha gonna do.
-- 'Cops' theme


Welcome to the worst day of Todd Schmaderer's life -- or at least a lead-pipe cinch for one of the top five.

The Omaha police chief welcomed the crew of the Cops reality-TV show to River City with open arms, seeking to showcase his officers' professionalism and, he hoped, improve relations with the community. Now a crew member of the show is dead -- fatally wounded by shots fired by one of Omaha's finest at the scene of a robbery in progress at a local Wendy's.

Officials know the sound man had to have been killed by police bullets. The fast-food robber was armed with a BB gun.
 

Clark Griswold doesn't know how lucky he was.

Welcome to the national narrative, Omaha. Welcome to the eye of the storm over police weapons, police tactics and police training. Welcome to the national conversation over shoot-first mentalities.

Welcome to public-relations hell. Welcome to our national never-ending tragedy.

A stupid robber with a fake gun is dead. That's tragedy enough. But when an innocent TV-show crew member gets killed in the process of a cop turning a perp into Swiss cheese, we're firmly into words-fail territory.

From today's Omaha World-Herald:
A crew member with the “Cops” television show was fatally struck by police gunfire as Omaha officers confronted a robber — who also was fatally wounded — at a midtown restaurant, law enforcement sources said Wednesday.

The World-Herald has learned that at least 30 shots were fired at the Wendy’s near 43rd and Dodge Streets.

Officials said it appears the only shots fired came from police.

The robbery suspect apparently had an air gun, a type of BB gun that looks like an actual firearm. He apparently was a prison parolee from Kansas, law enforcement sources said.

The names of the two dead had not been released at midday Wednesday. Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer has scheduled a press conference for 2:30 p.m.
I KNOW it's difficult being a police officer. God help me if I were forced to make a split-second, life-or-death decision in the dark of the night. God help me if I screwed it up, which I probably would.

Still, it's becoming apparent that what we're dealing with here is a nationwide, systemic problem of deadly proportions. Back to the newspaper account:
The TV crew member who died was a sound engineer, who holds the microphone during taping. The camera operator was not injured, nor were any police officers.

According to the show’s website, “Cops” crew members wear bullet-proof vests on the job.

The crew has been working in Omaha for much of the summer.

David Brown, president of the Omaha Chamber of Commerce, called the shootings a tragedy.

“We are deeply saddened that this happened and offer condolences to all of the family members involved,” he said.

The shootings occurred after an officer discovered a man, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and white bandanna, robbing the restaurant, Deputy Police Chief Dave Baker said late Tuesday.

The first officer at the scene called for backup about 9:20 p.m.
The east-facing windows of the Wendy’s restaurant were riddled with bullet holes, and Dodge Street was closed for several hours.
The two shooting victims were taken to the Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition. They later died.
Officers honor TV 
crewman via Facebook

"AT LEAST 30 shots were fired. . . ."

"The east-facing windows of the Wendy’s were riddled with bullet holes. . . ."

"
The robbery suspect apparently had an air gun, a type of BB gun that looks like an actual firearm. . . ."

Something is very wrong here, and not just because an idiot felon and an innocent man are dead.

We have to be careful about saying too much that's too specific because, after all, we don't know what we don't know. We have to be careful because, in a split second . . . at night, you can't tell a BB gun from the real thing.

But we do know enough that we must admit that something's horribly wrong with the Big Picture here. Ferguson. St. Louis. A guy shot dead by Ohio cops because a scared Person of Walmart saw a black man with a BB gun (which he had just picked up in the toy department) and called police, who shot first and asked questions later.


SOMETHING is wrong, this we can say. The specifics, we're still grappling with.

But something tells me it has something to do with a nation amid a societal and cultural meltdown that, coincidentally, also happens to be armed to the frickin' teeth.

Last night, it was a stupid criminal and a TV guy trying to do his job. Two dead and an officer's life perhaps ruined. Nobody asked for that, I wouldn't think.


Tomorrow, it could be you. Or me. Or anybody.

Be afraid. Be very afraid here in Firearm Nation.



UPDATE: The police chief's press conference just ended. Here's what he said:


http://www.ebay.com/itm/Cybergun-Taurus-PT92-Replica-Spring-Powered-Airsoft-Pistol-Metal-Slide-/200943638556
An Airsoft replica Taurus PT92
Three officers were involved, a detective and two patrol officers. The suspect, Cortez Washington, 32, fired at the officers with an Airsoft pistol inside the Wendy's restaurant. Schmaderer said that, judging from  footage by the Cops crew, that the Airsoft gun not only looked like a real handgun, but sounded like one. Airsoft guns fire plastic pellets, and Washington's was a replica Taurus PT92.

The chief said the cameraman entered behind the two officers the crew was riding with and was able to take cover, but that the sound engineer, Bryce Dion, got caught in the vestibule. After being hit by officer's gunfire, he said, the robber tried to escape through that vestibule as the cops continued to fire.


Dion was hit by a round which entered under his arm through a gap in his bulletproof vest. Schmaderer said he didn't think Dion was visible to the officers at the time.

The chief, in response to a reporter's question, said he hadn't slept since the incident.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Trainspotting


Kansas City's Union Station, Aug. 15, 2014



Thursday, August 21, 2014

Has killing become Job No. 1 for cops?

NOTE: This video shows a man being shot to death. Discretion is strongly advised.

Over on Rod Dreher's American Conservative blog, it took exactly nine comments before someone started throwing around the L-word to denigrate anyone expressing any doubt that St. Louis cops may have been too quick to turn a disturbed, steak-knife wielding individual into Swiss cheese.

Could there be any more telling example of the dangerous ideological warfare this country is engaged in? Someone had just watched a cell-phone video of a man being shot to death, and the first instinct after someone says "Whoa! Wait a minute!" was to politicize the entire thing. To start, without any evidence of anyone's actual political leanings, hurling the word "liberal" as an epithet.

The video above isn't the only tragedy we are witnessing here. It's also tragic that, in a world gripped by spiritual, cultural and social crises, the only thing Western civilization (or what is left of it)  has left is ideology.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/dreher/kajieme-powell-rohrshach-test/If that’s the way we’re going to roll these days, I suppose it would be equally “fair” to throw out the F-word — fascist — to describe anyone who’d be so damned quick to politicize a tragic death from the get-go, taking a knee-jerk position that police were absolutely, positively right to gun down a guy with a steak knife and dismissing any questioning of the officers’ actions, period.

HERE'S a thought: A world without doubt is a breeding ground for genocidal maniacs.

Here’s another thought, this one specifically dealing with the "officer-involved shooting" of Kajieme Powell in St. Louis: There were people reasonably close to the officers’ line of fire. There were storefronts behind the guy that appeared to be in the line of fire. What if the cops had missed with a few rounds?

What if they’d missed and there was a ricochet off of a brick wall?

Most hunters know better than to pull the trigger when there’s a possibility you might hit something else if you miss your target. Many cops, it would seem, not so much.


FURTHERMORE, why not slowly back away to keep separation between you and the mentally-ill guy with a knife and buy a little time for other options? Why not put the door of the police SUV between you and the disturbed man?

Buy time. Try to engage. Make an effort to calm the guy down.

Why is deadly force seemingly the first and only option in such situations? And note that the officers’ guns were out the second they got out of their vehicle.

I can’t say for certain whether or not the shooting was justified but, as others in the media have said, this just doesn’t look right.


I THINK the St. Louis shooting -- not to mention the egregious police misbehavior during the Ferguson, Mo.protests -- raises numerous legitimate questions that require answers and not being derided as a “liberal” — a veritable enemy of “truth, justice and the American Way.”

I wouldn’t think twice if the St. Louis incident was the response of two infantrymen on the battlefield. But police officers aren’t infantrymen — or at least they used not to be. I think it raises a legitimate question of whether cops now are being trained as such and, if so, why?

But there’s no room for questions in Ideological America, where the “other side” is always the Other, and we’re always spoiling for a fight. As God is my witness, this will not end well.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

3 Chords & the Truth: Takin' it easy


The Big Show is early this week.

Things to do, places to be.

So, here's 3 Chords & the Truth now, because I'll be busy taking it easy later. A mini-vacation, don't you know?

And technically, the mini-vacation already has started, so you're on your own in finding out about this week's edition of the Big Show.

Embrace the mystery -- although I'm reliably informed that a great way to find out about this week's program is to listen to it. Whatever.

Do what you will. I'm off duty.

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Nattering nabobs of know-nothingism


I miss Eric Sevareid.

I miss the days when newscasters stuck to the facts and not their ill-informed opinions. I miss the days when silence, or moving on to the next story, was a viable alternative to babbling about those things one does not yet know with certainty.

I miss the days when grown-ups sat behind the TV anchor desk, not overgrown teen-agers emoting when thought -- or silence -- would be more appropriate.

Those are not the days in which we live.

Eric Sevareid
THE CLIP ABOVE represents the days in which we now live. Days in which we are free to speak ill of the dead, so long as we put on a somber face and gravely speak words which signify nothing apart from our ignorance and prejudices. Fox News' Shepard Smith must have thought he was saying something when he blithely proclaimed that "something inside you is so horrible, or you're such a coward -- or whatever the reason -- that you decide to end it."

Like too many journalists today, Smith doesn't know what he doesn't know.

But that doesn't matter today so long as the words -- which words matter not -- just keep spewing from one's mouth like vomit out of a drunk behind your local tavern. It's all good. If forced to, you can vomit out an apology later.

Over at CNN, entertainment reporter Nischelle Turner inadvertently -- Isn't that always the case? -- indicted her genre of journalism and all its malpractitioners:
“I’ve been getting a lot of feedback from the mental health community in using that word,” Turner said. “A lot of times when we’re doing live coverage we say things and we’re talking and we don’t realize what we’re saying. They’re absolutely correct. That it is a disease, so I apologize for using the word demons.”
HERE ARE some words to live by for broadcast journalists when the red light goes on: If you don't realize what you're saying, it's far better to say nothing at all.

Still, all of this nonsense today apparently is much preferred over researching a subject, mulling it over and committing reasoned and humane commentary.

Because Eric Sevareid is dead. And journalism -- particularly that of the broadcast variety -- is busy at present committing suicide. Are all the Shep Smiths in the world just so many cowards, or is it that something inside of them is so horrible that they just can't help themselves?


Film at 11. Until then, we'll just prattle on about things we know not.

While today's talking heads are doing that, watch this master of the past and weep for the present.

Monday, August 11, 2014

For Robin


All we could see was the mask. All we wanted to see was the painted-on smile.

Behind our laughter, though, was the jester's unspeakable pain and, ultimately, despair. What hell on earth is this? What hell is this to believe to the depth of your soul that the world would be a better one without you?


http://www.biography.com/people/robin-williams-9532797You've probably had your moments; I know I have had mine. But what unspeakable hell is this to not be able to -- to, at the very end, not want to -- pull out of the nosedive of despair?

What is this hell depression?

What is this hopelessness suicide?


May the merciful God take Robin Williams into His arms and wipe away the tears. May He also dry ours as we contemplate the utter waste of it all . . . and the utter conditionality of our love.

Saturday, August 09, 2014

3 Chords & the Truth: Confusing kids, 1 at a time


The older I get, the more I understand that I come from a place and time that's largely indecipherable to the younger among us.

Typewriters . . . mystery. Cassette decks . . .  enigma. Rotary-dial phones . . . puzzle.

OHMYGAWD! You didn't have Internet back in the '70s? How did you live?

Well, in an analog manner, I guess.

Thus, in an age when something as pervasive as radio is becoming an anachronism like the rest of my life, perhaps it's time to explain a few things.

For example, you know this week's edition of 3 Chords & the Truth? Lots of radio stations and programs -- which we listened to . . . and we liked it -- were kinda sorta like the Big Show.

THERE was some variety going on. Top-40 meant just that . . . the top records on the pop chart, no matter what they might be.

You also had things like progressive-rock stations. Freeform stations and shows.

Freeform? Like, they'd play ANYTHING?

Yep. Just like 3 Chords & the Truth. You never quite know what's coming next. Back in the day, we found that adventurous and stimulating. ANDFORGOD'SSAKEDON'TTAKETHEBROWNACID, MAN!!!

I don't know where that came from.

Anyway, once there was this thing called radio. Take a seat, kid. Let me tell you about it and play you some stuff. You ever seen an LP record or a 45 before . . . ?

IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Be there. Aloha.


Thursday, August 07, 2014

I am the keeper of magical secrets


At first, as I watched these kids interact with Stone Age technology -- a.k.a., a manual typewriter -- I had determined that the time had come to just kill myself.

But then I had another think coming.

Now I have another plan . . . which involves a future for your humble, 53-year-old unfrozen caveman blogger.

I'm going to take out the power grid. AND I'M GOING TO RULE THE WORLD!!!


Or what's left of it, anyway.


(Insert diabolical laughter here)


HAT TIP: Kim Komando.


* * *


UPDATE: And then there's . . . this.




THE KIDDOS really need to watch this. It'll explain everything.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Allen Funt was an amateur

 
You thought the first Jeff Gordon "test drive" ad was good?

Well, here's a sequel that's even better -- mostly because he takes an automotive journalist who was convinced the first ad was a fake, and that Gordon wasn't even behind the wheel, for an expressly non-fake ride of his life. And I'm sure Jalopnik's Travis Okulski saw his life flash before his eyes.

Maybe twice.


RARELY do you find a sequel to anything that lives up to the original. But this Pepsi Max viral commercial by Davie Brown Entertainment/The Marketing Arm matches, then surpasses the original produced by TBWA\Chiat\Day. Don Draper (not to mention Allen Funt) would have thought this was awesome. Which it is.

http://www.nascar.com/en_us/sprint-cup-series/drivers/jeff-gordon.html
Gordon as an ex-con cab driver pulled over by the cops? Epic.

"I can't go back, man. I f***in' can't go back!"

Well, Gordon the "cabbie" can't go back, but I can go back to this video again and again.

And Pepsi certainly has gotten its advertising money's worth over and over again the last few months with this gem. I mean, when you see so many absolutely idiotic commercials -- when you just can't avoid so many idiotic commercials these days -- it's just such a joy to see one done to perfection.

I MIGHT even go buy me some Pepsi Max in appreciation of a job well done.

Saturday, August 02, 2014

3 Chords & the Truth: 3 Chords town


When you're alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go . . . to 3 Chords town.

When you've got worries, all the noise and the hurry seems to help, I know -- in 3 Chords town.

Just listen to the music from Omaha, by God, Nebraska. Linger on the website where the Big Show's there for playing. How can you lose?

 
The sounds are much brighter there -- you can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares.

So go to 3 Chords town! Things will be great when you're in 3 Chords town! No finer place for sure, 3 Chords town . . . everything's waiting for you!
 

DON'T hang around and let your problems surround you, there is great music . . .  in 3 Chords town. Sooner or later, you'll click on these links, and you'll be in . . . 3 Chords town!

Just listen to the rhythm of a classic rock 'n' roller. You'll be dancing with 'em too before the show is over -- happy again. The sounds are much brighter here; you can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares.

So go to our town. Music's the best in Big Show town. Click on the bloody link -- 3 Chords town! Good times for you tonight -- my town! You're music future's bright . . . this town!

Just take my word for it . . . 3 Chords & the Truth is the bomb!

Downtown.

Uptown.

Midtown.

Outta town.

IT'S 3 Chords & the Truth y'all. Be there. Aloha.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Old Testament is a bitch


Stay classy, Israel.

This "protest" in Tel Aviv begins with the crowd chanting their hatred for Ahmad Tibi, an Israeli Arab politician and physician . . . and member of the Knesset. In fact, he's deputy speaker of the Israeli legislative body.

"I wanted you to know the next child to get hit is yours. . . . I hate Tibi the Terrorist!" the protesters chant. "Tibi! Dead! Tibi! Dead!"

Then after calling for all Arab Israelis to be stripped of their citizenship, the crowd unveils another pithy chant about the military strike against Gaza:

"There's no school tomorrow. There are no children left there!"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Racism_in_Israel#mediaviewer/File:Gas_the_arabs_painted_in_Hebron.JPG
AND THEN you have the ongoing vigilante attacks against Palestinians and Israeli Arabs. . . .

For the life of me, I can't imagine why Palestinians would want to fire rockets at a country where this is just another "slice of life." Funded in large part, by the way, by American tax dollars.

What could go wrong?

IN A LAND where the bloodiest parts of the Old Testament are never forgotten -- and, indeed, are still as new as tomorrow's sunrise -- it's always Mississippi 1959. With Palestinian suicide bombers and rockets and Israeli bombs and missiles.

For all this country's faults and sins, at least the U.S. government never bankrolled the Ku Klux Klan or the Black Panthers. At least not in this country.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Beavisovich and Buttheadinsky build a death ray


There is a geopolitical moral to this story where two Russian kids build a death ray out of a microwave oven by attaching the magnetron tube to a long cable and focusing the radiation with a "cantenna."

This allows them to do neat -- and deadly dangerous -- tricks like lighting up unwired light bulbs and blowing up a boomboxky by aiming the tin-can antenna at it.

(Music.) Bbbrrrrrrraaaaaaaappppppp . . . BOOMSKY! (Ding!)


As Gizmodo said in its post on Beavisovich and Buttheadinsky Meet the Geek Squad:

So don't take a microwave apart. Don't. Take. A microwave. Apart. Don't do it. Don't! But if you were curious about what would happen if you did, these idiots have you covered. It's as awesome as it is stupid! It is very awesome and very stupid.
NOW, to the geopolitical moral of this story. Don't think the Russian armed forces haven't thought of the same thing as a couple of kids in Bumf**kinsky, Russia. Only bigger. Much, much bigger.

This is why you trad carefully around the Russian bear. This is why you don't poke the Russian bear with a sharp stick just because you think you can. You know, like pushing NATO right up to its borders -- or like fomenting revolution in Ukraine.

That's the foreign-policy version of screwing around with a microwave oven for kicks and giggles. What could go wrong?

NO, the moral here isn't overly complicated or obtuse. Don't screw with the Russians. Don't. Screw. With. The Russians. 

Them people's crazy.


UPDATE: I knew there had to be some weaponized version of this out there. And there is. But imagine what the Russkies probably have done with the technology. Bet their anti-personnel version does more than cause "excruciating pain."

Vive la France! Vive la France!



Cheese-eating surrender monkeys, my ass!


HAT TIP:  Rod Dreher.