Keith Burgin

Keith Burgin

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FBI gives us The Urkel-Clinton Doctrine Featured

FBI gives us The Urkel-Clinton Doctrine

Published in Politics

FBI Director James Comey has delivered us all from the harsh yoke of law and order.  With the bureau’s decision that “no reasonable prosecutor” would bring charges against former Sec. of State Clinton or her staff for mismanagement of classified documents, the top man at the FBI set a new standard for criminal prosecution in the U.S.

"Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,” Comey said in his July 5 press statement.

I present to you to what I’d like to call “The Urkel-Clinton Doctrine.”  

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Hoping Durant sees we wish him well... Featured

Hoping Durant sees we wish him well...

Published in Current Events

So… Kevin Durant left the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball franchise.  He turned free agent (meaning he was no longer under contract and could go wherever he liked,) he chose another team, and most importantly, he was cordial when he announced it this week.

One of the NBA’s most talented players chose California’s Bay Area over Oklahoma City.  There it is.

And too many of Oklahoma City’s highest quality human beings lost their goddamn minds over it.

I know this happens to professional athletes – consider LeBron James and Cleveland - but it’s disappointing to see it happen here in OKC.  Burning Durant Jerseys, selling desecrated Thunder gear online, even vandalizing KD's home.  Police have been posted outside his house, for the love of Mike.  Just... unacceptable.

What does Durant owe us?  Nothing.  NOTHING.

There are rumors that he’s been unhappy with his situation here for several years.  I don’t know if those rumors are true, but if they are, you would never know it.  He never griped about it.

For the last 8 years, KD played his heart out.  He was a valuable member of this community – giving his money, time, and celebrity to worthy causes throughout.  And he’s a class act.

He’s said nothing about the abysmal treatment he’s received from the aforementioned quality human beings since his decision to leave was announced – treatment that, in my opinion, nearly vindicates that decision.

He’s said nothing publicly of any negative feelings toward teammates, coaching staff, or management of the Thunder.  He made a decision for his career and for him and acted professionally.

A class act…

There are those – thankfully a plurality – who recognize this and thank him for his time and his gracious, giving nature.  We’re prepared to move on and we wish Kevin Durant well.

Typically, the local media focuses on a few bad actors – if it bleeds, it leads, as they say.

 I hope, though, that Durant can look past the few and see the many who remember him helping to rebuild Moore, Okla., after a devastating tornado; those who remember his visits with local children; and those who remember that he played for us and stuck with us and was one of us for the years he was here.

We’ll miss Durant – but perhaps he can leave us with one more thing: an example.  Maybe we can all look to KD and ask ourselves if we can’t be a class act as well.

 

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Joe R. Lansdale: Pull Up A Chair Featured

Joe R. Lansdale: Pull Up A Chair

Published in Reading / Writing

Joe R. Lansdale - author, teacher, and East Texas martial arts badass - is getting his due.  In my opinion, it's about time.

Lansdale is, without exception, my favorite storyteller.  To read a Lansdale novel is to sit with the man on his back porch and listen to him spin outrageous, ferocious yarns over beers.  

He tells funny, exciting, enthralling stories of characters you can't help but love, caught up in impossible, preposterous situations you can't help but believe.  And he talks to you, not at you, like your uncle might - not the creepy, wandering-eye uncle who touched you - the other one.

I picked up my first Lansdale novel during a book signing at Cobblestone Books in Carmichael, California; it was the early nineties and it seems to me the book was "Two-Bear Mambo."  Over the next days, the world of Hap Collins and Leonard Pine swallowed me whole.

Collins, a white, middle-age, sometimes-day-laborer and Pine, a black, gay, ex-Vietnam vet and country music buff with a bad attitude, are nearly polar opposites in personality but well-suited to be the tightest brothers and friends you'll ever meet.  They have a rabid fanbase, yours truly present and accounted for.  

Besides the Hap and Leonard series, Lansdale's written award-winning novels, short stories, chapbooks, scripts and comics in many genres.  Read "The Bottoms" or "The Thicket" or "Tight Little Stitches in a Dead Man's Back."

He's versatile, no doubt, but Joe and his unique voice are always there; you can  feel him right beside you, sipping that beer, leaning back in a groaning, weather-worn rocking chair.

Mojo Joe's work eventually caught the eyes of filmmakers and television producers and they decided to build him a bigger porch.

"Bubba Ho-Tep," a feature film based upon one of Lansdale’s novellas, starred Bruce Campbell and Ossi Davis as Elvis Presley and John F. Kennedy, respectively, living out their days in a rest home when called upon to fight an ancient Egyptian spirit who sucks his victims' souls out of their assholes.

Read it again.  I didn't stutter.

"Cold in July," also a feature film and adapted from the novel of the same name, introduces Richard Dane, an average-Joe Texas family man and business owner who, one late night, shoots an intruder in his living room.  

Dane, who is already an emotional wreck after the shooting, is besieged by the father of the dead man, a dangerous ex-con looking for payback.  To protect his family and restore his life, Dane goes down a macabre rabbit hole so dark and twisted that finding his way out the other side will change him forever.  

I didn't get to see Cold in July in theater release but I bought the DVD the day it came out - it's a go-to when friends come over.

And the first season of the Hap and Leonard mini-series on Sundance Channel ended a couple months ago -  it was a helluva ride.  

Based largely upon Lansdale's first entry in what would become the Hap and Leondard series, "Savage Season," the guys become involved in a treasure-hunting adventure led by Hap's ex-wife, Trudy, and her more recent ex-husband, Howard.  

James Purefoy, Michael Kenneth Williams, and Christina Hendricks starred as Hap, Leonard, and Trudy, respectively.  Hippies, terrorists, murderous mercenaries, a prison-cell tale of millions in stolen-then-lost cash come together in a story only Lansdale, his ownself, could build.  Nick Damici and Jim Mickle, who also brought Cold in July to the screen, wrote and developed it.  Season two is in the works.

As a fan, I'm thrilled to see Joe Lansdale get more exposure and a bigger base; he's worked hard enough for it.  As a reader, I look at what's happening for Joe and hope that studios continue to recognize great stories and storytelling for the precious, and all-too-uncommon, things they are.

Maybe that's a pipe dream, maybe it'll be a while... hopefully neither.

In the meantime, we have Mojo Joe.  Pull up a chair and grab a beer.  The cooler's over there.


Joe R. Lansdale... the website

Hap and Leonard / Sundance Channel

 

UPDATE: JOE ANNOUNCES A NEW HAP AND LEONARD NOVEL FROM HATCHETTE BOOKS!

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Funny Haha or Funny Ignorant?

Published in General Rants

It’s sheer intellectual laziness, in my opinion - this tendency to believe that only your brand of satire is the real deal.  Maybe it’s just a narrow view of the world; maybe it’s ignorance; maybe it’s downright solipsism.  It’s getting tired.

Columbia Journalism Review published an article last week entitled, “How fake news sites frequently trick big-time journalists” in which Jack Murtha criticized newsrooms that were fooled into parroting satire news stories for their lax journalism standards.

Murtha makes several good points, including his jab at news orgs that cut a few corners to get the story first and, in doing so, fail to get it right.

Where he falls short is in his stunted sense of what satire is.  Maybe that's a tangential point in his article, but it's one of my pet peeves.

“For what felt like the millionth time, fake news sites—the kind that say they’re satirical but are nothing like The Onion—had duped journalists into buying a bogus story,” Murtha writes.

The Onion…

The Onion is a fine publication and it’s been doing what it does for years.  I have nothing against The Onion, but it’s not the world’s standard for satire.  It’s topical, humorous, and occasionally satirical but The Onion is more lampoon and parody than satire.  It rarely makes a thoughtful point or starts a discussion - which is really what satire is meant to do.

Satire ridicules ignorance and foolishness – especially in government and society; it points out fault in ideology, logic, and policy.

And by the way, enjoy them as I do – or did – neither Jon Stewart nor The Daily Show are the be-all-end-all of satire, either.  

Satire shows many faces, some humorous, others not so much.  It is an art form that has existed for thousands of years and only recently been marginalized by short attention spans and the meme generation.  Murtha is by no means alone in his notions.

Read Gulliver’s Travels or Animal Farm.  They’re both wonderful examples of wicked, biting satire, neither written by the staff of The Onion.  In fact, I encourage you to read 1984 - George Orwell was a brilliant satirist.

Murtha is spot-on with his critique of cut-and-paste journalists, laying blame squarely at their feet and the feet of their editors and publishers.  The article’s main point is well-taken.

I just think he would have been safer without the misguided “Onion litmus test.”  At least that's how I see it.

 

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