Looking for some good journalism?

Here’s a shout out to the Los Angeles Times for the series it ran last week called Framed.

I’m often on the fence about narrative journalism, telling the news like a story. Sometimes it works wonderfully. Sometimes not so much. This is an example of it working really well.

I had not heard this story initially when the facts were being reported so I couldn’t wait to read the next chapter each day to see what happened. This is reporting that goes beyond the bait-click mentality; instead it tells the story in segments to add more depth rather than string readers along. I’d love to see newspapers do this more often.

So if you’re a fan of true crime and a really bizarre tale, check it out!

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And if you are a fan of newspapers and the future of journalism, check out this video on YouTube from comedian John Oliver. Be forewarned, the language is a bit colorful, but his message is spot on.

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Not so crazy about clowns

If you’d asked me last week, I would have said our prospects for the next presidential election were the scariest thing in the news.

Not so much anymore. Children in a South Carolina town are reporting to police that clowns are trying to lure them into the woods.

 

Shudder. I’m sure it’s some sick joke or a publicity stunt but still. Creepiest thing I’ve read in awhile.

Squirrel on the Move

I work in the business office of a University. Today, a newly-hired professor called to ask if she could use some of her relocation allowance to cover the cost of moving her pet. The answer was no, but my coworker, being ever-so-curious, had to ask what kind of pet.

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I have seen some really strange things on expense reports and requisitions, but this easily makes the top five. Time to go home. Tomorrow bring more coffee and maybe a few nuts.

Sometimes the Truth Hurts

I saw this article about the fan backlash against critics regarding the new movie “Suicide Squad” and it made me laugh.

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It’s hard to imagine DC fan boys and girls giving a rat’s butt about critic reviews but apparently some of them do, enough to try to shut down the movie site Rotten Tomatoes. It seems some DC fans are buying the idea that there is a conspiracy against DC’s superhero movies. I have bad news for them. They are probably wrong. How do I know? Because I watched “Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice” last weekend and it really had some issues.

I’m really not one to put a lot of stock in critics. I have seen way too many highly-rated movies that I thought were awful. And some of the movies I love have been panned. I like Rotten Tomatoes because it offers the critic score and the audience score. When both are good, I think it’s a safe bet to see that movie. When both are bad, the movie is usually a stinker. What I find intriguing is when the two scores are vastly different. Then you have to do your homework to see if it’s a movie worth watching.

Superhero movies are big at my house and normally I enjoy them, too. And I don’t really play favorites between Marvel and DC as long as the movies (or TV shows) can tell a good story and offer characters that don’t do stupid things for no reason other than the script needs them too. I am all for some cool CGI and impressive stunts but when it takes away from the plot or makes me say “Huh?” then you’re gonna lose me. I’m pretty good at suspending disbelief for books and movies, but if you push too far, then I’m done.

That was the problem I had with B v. S. Yes, the Batman costume was cool and Ben Affleck looked like a total BA when he took out all those guys to save Martha Kent. But he was also kind of … not smart, which is something I’ve never seen with any version of Batman except the campy Adam West incarnation.

I’m not buying that Batman would be so easily duped by the heavy-handed plot of Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg playing it way too manic). And sure, Batman’s anger that Superman brought his fight with Zod to Metropolis is justified, but he’s stewed about it for a year and a half. During that time, Superman has been doing good things. And he doesn’t decide to find out more about Superman? Nope, if there’s a small chance he’ll harm the world, let’s just kill him without getting the facts. This does not sound like the comic world’s greatest detective.  And don’t get me started on the whole “Martha” thing.

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Suicide Squad, based on reviews, seems to follow in the same vein, which is disappointing considering the trailer looked decent. I get why fan boys and girls are upset. It stinks to have your beloved source material tainted by a bad movie. I feel that way all the time when one of my favorite books makes a lousy transition to the big screen (The 5th Wave anyone?). But muzzling critics is ridiculous. And blaming Marvel is just as much so. Go see your movie, enjoy what you can, know that it will make a ton of money, but realize the critics are going to view the actual movie, not the movie you had hoped for. And while you might love seeing your favorite hero on screen with flashy costumes and intense stunts, it doesn’t negate the need for good storytelling and characterization, too. So maybe the rest of us also have a shot at enjoying the film.

Here’s hoping to something better with Wonder Woman and Justice League! But in the meantime, I’m waiting to watch Captain America: Civil War.

P.S. Yes, I’m cheap and wait for movies to come out on video.

From my list of pet peeves — the drive-thru lane

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It should be a well-established fact that complicated and time-consuming transactions should NOT happen at the drive-thru window. Ever. Unless you have a disability that means you can’t leave your vehicle. Then I will cut you some slack. Maybe, depending on how long your transaction is drawn out.

The drive-thru is not the place to ask for a rundown of all the toys available for the Happy Meal, including a detailed description, so you can make a decision for each of the four meals you ordered. This is a free toy, not the college admissions process. Take what you get. If that’s not doable because Junior may have a meltdown, go inside. (But then leave quickly because no one wants to see or hear Junior have a meltdown. That’s another pet peeve for another post.)

The drive-thru is not a place for any transaction at the bank that requires multiple trips back and forth of that little plastic shuttle. You get to send it on one trip, maybe two max. Anything more than that, go inside. And it certainly is not the place to ask the teller for a breakdown of your last 50 transactions because you think your debit card may have been hacked. That’s what online banking is for. Or the lobby. Or the phone.

And under no circumstance is it OK to go through the drive-thru at the pharmacy for anything other than drugs. Prescription drugs. Not a list of aspirin, antacids, toilet paper and a candy bar. The pharmacy likely won’t get your stuff anyway and no one wants to wait while you argue about it. This drive-thru is a convenience for sick people who can’t or shouldn’t come in contact with other people. It’s not a convenience for someone who doesn’t want to walk 25 feet across a parking lot.

The drive-thru can be a pretty cool thing when used correctly. Simple order, money ready, get your drink and/or food. Go. Drop off a check to deposit at the bank. Done. Not drag your kid with a heinous cough into Walgreens and get the death stare from every person inside. Priceless. Let’s keep that line flowing.