Friday, September 29, 2006

Dance Party 09-29-06

I could somehow try and tie tonight to the events of yesterday, but screw that idea.

Anyway, how about a mini ELO-fest after last night's almost-a-documentary?.

Dreaming of 4000, from "On the Third Day"

Strange Magic, from a PBS concert show five years ago

Nightrider, from "Face the Music"

Evil Woman



I'm not ashamed of my country, but I'm ashamed of . . .

what was done - supposedly in its name - last night.

Congress finally let the Presidency take this country into a dark, evil abyss. Now he gets to decide what is torture. Look at the last five and a half years and then ask me why my faith in his ability to make such decisions is nonexistent.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I know we've had fun with bad music . . .

over at HE's the past two days, but the last two days I heard three of the most wonderful and saddest pieces of music on our local public radio station.
Tonight, on the way home, i listened to Shostakovitch's musical adaptation of the poen 'Babi Yar.' Just go google 'Babi Yar' first and then imagine what a Russian felt.
And yesterday, the station's afternoon Americana music program played two songs that caught me really short after a 20-hour day, two hours of sleep and another six hours of work.

Johnny Cash - obviously in his later years and probably before June died - sang the cleanest, clearest, minimalist, most gut-wrenching "If You Could Read My Mind."

And a few minutes later, they played a bluegrass version of "Eleanor Rigby" mainly with mandolin and dulcimer but with no vocals and even sadder than the original.

I'm going to go have my tear ducts removed.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Racism - ain't it just so adorable?

Today, I had the questionable pleasure of, on one hand, listening to George Allen go on the defensive over new revelations that he is a stupid thug with a complementary racist streak.

On the other hand, I had the equally questionable pleasure of listening to a sales rep in my office talk about going to church and being invited to another church. As she described the "black church" to my news clerk, I listened from my office as she tried explaining what she thought it was going to be like.

"You know how black folks are," the rep noted at one point.

No, I don't know how black folks are. I do know that, as white bread as I may appear, I happen to have some black and Cherokee ancestry. I also know that, after becoming intrigued about that, I did a little research and found that if I had been a resident of the old Republic of South Africa, I was legally 'colored.'

I certainly have few qualifications to 'know' what it's like to be black, but I think I have a pretty good idea what dumbassed white folks are like.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

In memory: Danny Flores

If you've ever watched the first Pee Wee Herman movie or got drunk at a frat party, you already know Danny Flores without knowing his name . . . . .


Danny died last Tuesday. In his honor . . .

God bless, Danny

I'm getting into this Marxist-Lennonist stuff . . .

Homo Escapeons has given me a new lease on life with his Marxist-Lennonist synthesis of the material dialectic!

As his newly appointed Kegcommissar, I shall travel in my armoured brewery to all parts of the front to enforce the iron discipline needed for the Party to meet its objective conditions for success and peace.
Namely, anyone not fulfilling their duty to the Party and the State will be compelled to crack another keg!

Za brewiya'!! Za HE!!!!

Oh, and Salma's booked through January.

My sleep cycle is really messed up . . .

For the last three months I have not been able to sleep more than three hours straight. Tonight, I called it a night around 10:30 p.m. It's now 1:45 a.m. local and I'm sitting at the kitchen table wide awake doing this. This is actually a record length of time for me to sleep, and I'll probably be back under in an hour.

By the way, remember the possums of July? Two of the buggers showed back up Saturday evening, leading to the merriment of a marsupial hunt. Both were bagged safely and released a suitable distance from Case del FE.

I wish I could get a straight eight on the weekends. Just one night would be great.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dance Party, 09-22-06, with a nasty, mean streak . . .

Blame Raincoaster - she accused me of my pic looking like I was a member of A Flock of Seagulls. Yeah, I ran . . . . my a** >B^D>
Now for a taste of fluffed-hair, Izod-wearing hell:

Man, I gotta take a shower with Lava soap and kerosene after this

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Far be it from me to remove a tag, or to refuse a good tagging . . .

Gautami either showed extremely good manners or poor judgment by tagging me for something called a book meme. So those of you who may have questioned my literary tastes, here's a little ammunition for you:

One book that changed your life?
Herman Wouk’s The Caine Mutiny – it brought together so many themes in life – loyalty, understanding, duty, conscience, personal choice, pettiness – and how those themes interact so often in a tragic manner. To call it a war novel is to ignore its depth. I consider it a blunt commentary on leadership and humanity.

One book you have read more than once?
Bernard Fall’s Hell in a Very Small Place – good history and another tragedy that goes beyond the military setting to examine human folly, frailty and failure.

One book you would want on a desert island?
The Boy Scout Fieldbook (not the handbook) – Everything you need to know about surviving in the wild anywhere, and it’s big enough to make a handy pillow or to kill a small edible animal with its sheer mass.

One book that made you cry?
Richard McKenna’s The Sand Pebbles

One book that made you laugh?
1066 and All That – if you’re a historian, you’ll appreciate it. If you’re a teacher, you’ll take its style as a cautionary tale

One book you wish had been written?
Richard McKenna’s next book – he died before he fully realized his talent for telling a good story.

One book you wish had never been written?
These days? The book that codifies any religion, because any of them is so often misinterpreted that it drives man to tears if not open warfare against anyone with a different book.

One book you are currently reading?
Unfortunately, InDesign CS2 for Dummies – I’m becoming less of a journalist and editor and more of a technician.

One book you have been meaning to read?
Since this afternoon, I've expanded this to four:
Stephen King’s On Writing
Daniel Schorr's Staying Tuned
Charles Shields' Mockingbird: A Portrait of Harper Lee
Carson McCullers' The Heart is a Lonely Hunter - I barely remember seeing the movie on television about 33 years ago, but I remembered it wasn't an overromanticized story. In fact, the ending shook me pretty badly at first.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Can't help myself

What goes clop clop clop clop clop BANG clop clop clop clop . . . .?

An Amish drive-by shooting

Nothing like this to bring down the proud and mighty . . .

I'm not sure if I should be all that proud - a C in grammar.

Your English Skills:

Punctuation: 100%
Vocabulary: 100%
Grammar: 80%
Spelling: 80%

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Sunday evening exhibition

Night sky, Russell County, Va.

Back street, Appalachia, Va.

Sunset in Abingdon, Virginia

The Barter Theater

I took this one at my first newspaper - I wish I had the negative instead of the scan I have.


Friday, September 15, 2006

FE's Dance Party, 09-15

After shaking my self silly, getting back on a semi-even keel and finding myself once again into the breach that is Wytheville, please allow me to put up a few off-the-wall tunes for the evening . . .

Been looking for the original video of this - nothing like good pop music (as contradictory as that phrase sounds) along with some sense of humor about dadaism.

Pop quiz: Is Jools Holland playing Rene Magritte or Jean Arp?

Not sure which is funnier - Joel Veitch's mash with this tune and Red Army kittens, or Laibach's own Slovenian industrial deconstruction.

Patently nonsensical, self-indulgent and with a good beat, but I laughed long and hard when Beavis and Butthead added their commentary to this little ditty . . .

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A phone call

At 5:15 p.m. today, I got a phone call from the family of an 18-year old girl who died in a car collision Monday.
I'd written the story bare-bones from the state trooper's account, and jumped the story to an inside page with a black-and-white photo of the two cars - no blood or bodies; just the wreckage.
At the time, I told myself it was newsworthy and important to tell that someone died in a type of collision all too frequent in this area - driver runs off side of road, overcorrects and runs into obstacle/oncoming vehicle/off other side of road. One of my neighbors lost her daughter in a similar accident last month, and I hold this hope that someone might get the message from reading and seeing the danger.
For five minutes, two family members cursed me, accused me of upsetting the girl's mother, and promised that they would be there to take photos when my child gets in a car accident.
The cursing progressed. I said that I couldn't continue the conversation if that's how it was going to continue. I knew from how things were going that there wasn't a thing I could say that even would begin to address their concerns. They got more upset. Finally I told them that I couldn't argue with them and that I would have to hang up.
I still think I did the right thing in running the photo. I don't feel particularly satisfied or smug about it, and I didn't when I laid out the page.
I don't expect sympathy or agreement. If you have an opinion, feel free to say what you think.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Early Dance Party, 09-08-07

I got on a little Siouxsie and the Banshees kick while surfing through the 'Tube this week, so . . . . .

Jeepers creepers . . . .

Hard to believe that 30 years ago she was hitting on Sid Vicious. No accounting for taste, I suppose . . .

Moody, self-indulgent bastidges . . .

You'd think this was inspired by Pompeii or something . . .

Thursday, September 07, 2006

I'm taking an informal survey . . .

since my so-called President is saying that we don't torture people and that his standing definition of torture is only something that causes major organ failure or imminent death.

1) Is my President . . .

A) a blithering idiot?

B) lacking complete touch with the world?

C) a total fuckwit?

D) thinking that membership in the SS is still open?

More than 30 years ago, I thought the world was balanced on its pointy head because our then-soon-to-be-ex-President lied to Congress, covered up a break-in and kept an enemies list with the intent of sending G. Gordon Liddy and others out to keep its members in line.

Now I have a President whose attorney general has a demeanor quite similar in banality and lack of moral fiber to that of Heinrich Himmler. I wonder if Alberto got himself through law school raising chickens, and if Karl Rove got special shoes to clear up that club foot?

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Philosophy lesson

Always be ready to be questioned, and be sure to consider your answer carefully.

Today, one of the better pieces of e-mail in my 'box' was a request from an advanced placement English student. No, it wasn't anything illegal or immoral, but it made me think.

Her e-mail:

"Dear (middle-aged gasbag),

I am taking AP English and Language this year, at ******* High School. My teacher, Ms. **********, has given us an assignment; she requested that we e-mail a local editor, with the following questions. It would be greatly appreciated if you would please read and answer the following questions for me. Please return them to me at *****************. Thanks again!

Charity M--------

What responsibility or responsibilities does the editor/reporter/writer have to his or her reading public?
What do you consider to be the three most important elements of a successful newspaper article? Please explain your three choices.
How do you determine which information is newsworthy enough for publication?
What are the main criteria used for determining which Letters to the Editor the paper publishes on a daily basis?
Do you often receive responses from your readers?"

I read her e-mail and it struck me that it had been a long time since I'd tried to articulate what my job and responsibilities are.

Here's my reply. Feel free to ridicule at your leisure.


Thanks for your e-mail, and I'd be delighted to answer.

A reporter and editor first and foremost must ensure that what is published - electronically or in print - is accurate, truthful and relevant to the community. News is not a sporting event to snipe at people, but neither is it a place where punches should be pulled when the public's interests are at stake. Ultimately, the responsibilities of an editor and reporter are to do their best to make sure that the community knows as much as possible - good and bad - that affects its quality of life and prosperity.

The elements which make up a good news story are theme, clarity and precision.
In news writing, you've got a limited space for your story. This forces you to make some hard choices: What's important in the story? How do I explain what happened? How do I word it?
Every story has to have a theme - either it's about something that draws the reader into the story, or it's just a list that forces the reader to dig or just lose interest.You have to do some editing just as a newspaper reporter in order to pick out the most important theme in a story.
Clarity and precision go hand in hand. If you can't explain the story in a way your readers can understand , then you've failed. You have to be able to describe and explain exactly what happened, quote or paraphrase accurately what was said, and turn that into a story that makes sense and pulls in your reader. Everything else flows from those elements.

Newsworthiness is a shifting sea that depends on what is important to the community. Even though community importance may change over the years, there are some fixed horizons to guide decisions on what's news.
- Is it fair, whether it puts someone in a good, bad or indifferent light?
- Is it for the public good, or is the public being hurt?
- Is something being hidden that may affect the public's well-being?
- Is justice being served, or is there an injustice?
- Is it something unusual or different that may interest the readership?
- Is there a lesson to be learned that will help the public?
- Has someone made a notable achievement?
- Does it help the community better understand itself?

Regarding letters to the editor: I have included below the letters policy that we use in the ------- ----- ------ and the ----- ------- ----.
"Letters: The ------- ----- ------ and The ----- ------- ---- encourage readers to submit letters and e-mails for publication. All letters and e-mails must be signed and include a daytime telephone number and complete address. Letters and e-mails should be no more than 350 words in length, and may be edited for grammar and length. The newspaper reserves the right to reject letters of a defamatory nature, and to publish letters verbatim as they are received. Get in touch with us at ****************; by mail at: ***********************; or via e-mail at **********************."
During election seasons, we will cut off political letters about two weeks before the election to avoid being used as a surprise mudslinging forum.
The only other guideline we use is to give preference to letters from our circulation area first when space is an issue. Otherwise, letters are run on a first-come basis. Long community thank-you letters are run in a periodic community thanks section as space allows.

We often receive responses from our readers on a variety of topics from presentation to stories to editorial opinions, and they range from bad to good. The important thing is, people care enough about what they are reading to respond. As an editor, I make an effort to contact those who respond to ensure they know that we appreciate their opinions whether we agree or not.

I hope these answers have helped.


(middle-aged gasbag)"

I doubt I'll be invited to speak before her class, but maybe we both learned something today.

Vicus, I believe I've found Blair's inspiration for his choice of podium . . .

One Mister Whippy of Chincoteague Island. This humanoid life-form, like Mr. Blair, has an initially pasty-faced yet charming impact that soon shifts to something frigid and - given the 97-percent fat free content of Whippy - lacking in substance despite its attempt to demonstrate good taste.

Not to mention the disturbing effect of two living things trading on the novelty of hiding behind cone-shaped exteriors.

I suppose that, with a little investigation, both could be found to a have a Cherie on top.

Monday, September 04, 2006

It doesn't bother me one way or the other . . .

but if anyone stil has any trace of interest after my self-serving round of modeling posts from a couple of weeks ago, I decided to create a shadow blog on that theme here.

Not visiting it won't hurt my feelings a bit.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Almost forgot . . . FE's Dance Party, 09-02

It's Labor Day Weekend here in the states, so why not a Dance Party with a vaguely disturbing socialist theme? That ought to make this short and bittersweet . . .

Nothing like ripping off Falco and copping that eastern European commie vibe to get on MTV

A little Internationale never hurt anybody . . . too much.

Gotta give dem crazy Soviets credit - they carry off the epic national anthem bit with some class. Besides, this was the best part of "Hunt for Red October" after Sean Connery's toupee'.

The times, they're a changin . . .

Ziggi hit me with the news earlier this week: Airfix is damn near dead.

My Commonwealth friends will especially commiserate with me, but a lot of Americans in my general age group (30-60) are probably shaking their heads and wondering why as well.

As a youngster, I got hooked on modeling thanks to Airfix, Heller, Monogram, Revell, Aurora, Hasegawa, Tamiya, MPC, JoHan, LifeLike and a host of other companies that have merged, faded, or gone under.

Monogram once was a Mattel division, then it went independent, then it merged with Revell, and so on.

Airfix was a part of my life from the time my dad built me an Airfix Westland Whirlwind of the same type that was often seen rescuing stupid climbers from the Cornwall sea cliffs in the 1960's. From then, I was hooked.

I went through my store of model kits today and found a brief history of the company, from an old Catalina flying boat to a Folland Gnat and a Lockheed Hudson and a Sopwith Pup and a Spitfire Mk. V. I also remember my first BIG scale aircraft model - an MPC/Airfix P-51 in 1/24 scale.

As I developed my skills, Airfix forced me to learn some hard lessons as I made the jump from slapping kits together to turning them into something more like the photos of the real things. But they were still fun, and learning the black art of making them a little more accurate merely added to their value (except for that hateful little Mk IX Spirfire they kept trying to re-release and make appear as a new molding, but that's another story . . .)

And they had been putting out new models in recent years that brought back some warm, fuzzy memories, like the EE Lightning, the Buccaneer, and the TSR. 2 - all fire-breathing, hairy-chested jets that oozed brute force and Britain's unique outlook on aerodynamics.

I guess it's like anything else as you get older, but you still shake your head and ask 'why?' . . .

I'm going to go sit in a corner for a bit and cry.

A brief history of Airfix here

News on Airfix's receivership here and here