Time flies.

November 27th, 2015

Damn. It has been a year since that asshole tried to shoot up the police department and got center-punched for his trouble? Where does the time go?

One year later article from the Statesman, which has some details I either didn’t know or forgot.

Johnson turned protective. Still holding on tightly to the horses’ reins with his left hand, he pressed his chest against one of the garage’s concrete pillars and drew his weapon, the Police Department’s standard-issue Smith & Wesson M&P 40.

The bizarre nature of the incident and his incredible gunshot come up nearly every day. According to a ballistics investigation, the .40-caliber bullet fired from Johnson’s gun traveled 314 feet in less than a second. The bullet nicked the driver’s door frame of McQuilliams’ vehicle and continued tumbling sideways 5 more feet before it hit McQuilliams.

Yes. That was a 100 yard, one-handed shot with an M&P .40.

That was the only shot police fired that night.

It was also the decisive one.

I can’t find it online, and my memory is a little sketchy, but I’m reminded of an “Ayoob Files” from some years ago. Briefly: bad guy armed with a rifle is holding off cops (and kills one dead). Cops are only armed with handguns, and try to take the guy out, but he has them pinned down 80 to 100 yards away. My recollection of Ayoob’s account is that at least one of the responding officers tried making shots at that range with his duty gun; when the bad guy was finally taken down (as I recall, by someone who arrived on scene with a shotgun and hit him with a rifled slug), they found a fairly tight group of bullet holes…just above where the bad guy’s head would have been.

One of Ayoob’s points, which I thought was well taken was: maybe every once in a while you should try taking long range shots with your duty weapon, just so you have some idea of what it can do and where you might need to hold. Then again…

Johnson, 40, loves his unit and his job, a perfect fit for someone who had grown up riding horses on a ranch and practiced shooting with a .22-caliber rifle from his back porch.

…if you grew up shooting off the back porch, maybe you don’t need that advice.

(Also, Massad Ayoob, if you happen to be reading this: this incident, and Sgt. Johnson in particular, might make for a good “Ayoob Files” installment. Just saying.)

A small dose of the unusual for Black Friday.

November 27th, 2015

Just in case you’re stuck at work, or have decided to stay home and avoid the rush, here’s a couple of things you might find interesting:

1) Lawrence sent me this link the other day: Showmen’s Rest: Chicago’s Clown Graveyard.

The story behind this is that Showman’s Rest is where many of the dead from the Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train disaster were buried.

The Hagenbeck-Wallace Circus train disaster? Yes: on June 22, 1918, the train carrying the members of the circus was rammed by another train whose engineer had fallen asleep. 86 members of the circus were either killed outright or burned to death in the fire that resulted.

2) A retweet from Popehat led me to look up Count Dante, who I was previously unaware of. Count Dante was “The Deadliest Man Alive!” and the founder of the Black Dragon Fighting Society; he advertised heavily in comic books during the 1960s and 1970s.

Count Dante (really John Keehan; he changed his name in 1967 to “Count Jerjer Raphael Danté, explaining the name change by stating that his parents fled Spain during the Spanish Civil War, changed their names, and obscured their noble heritage in order to effectively hide in America.“) was one of Chicago’s leading martial artists during the 1960s.

He and a buddy were arrested in 1965 for trying to blow up a competing dojo. In 1970, he and some friends went to another competing dojo to “settle a beef with a member”: in the process, one man died.

In 1971 the judge in the case dismissed all charges but not before upbraiding both sides: “You’re each as guilty as the other,” Cooley recalls him bellowing.

Count Dante may also have been involved in a 1974 robbery of $4 million. He died in May of 1975 at the age of 36.

Chicago Reader article, “The Life and Death of the Deadliest Man Alive”. The article is tied to a documentary in progress, “The Search for Count Dante”: film website here.

Obit watch: November 27, 2015.

November 27th, 2015

Guy V. Lewis, former basketball coach at the University of Houston.

With his signature red polka-dot towel in hand, Lewis was the winningest coach in UH history, compiling 592 victories and making five Final Four trips while coaching such stars as Elvin Hayes, Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler in 30 seasons from 1956 to 1986.

Off the court, he was regarded as a visionary and innovator for putting together the 1968 “Game of the Century” against top-ranked UCLA at the Astrodome and for being one of the first college basketball coaches to embrace racial integration in the South.

Obit watch: November 25, 2015.

November 25th, 2015

The NYT is reporting the death of actor Rex Reason.

He appeared with Hayworth in “Salome” in 1953 and with Gable and Sidney Poitier in “Band of Angels” in 1957. In 1956 he played Dr. Thomas Morgan in “The Creature Walks Among Us,” the last installment in the last of the so-called Gill Man trilogy.

Mr. Reason was perhaps most famous for playing Cal Meacham in “This Island Earth”, which I almost think I’d like to watch again for real (as opposed to the MST3K movie version).

TMQ Watch: November 24, 2015.

November 24th, 2015

Old man yells at cloud!

This week’s TMQ, after the jump…

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Obit watch and random notes: November 24, 2015.

November 24th, 2015

I’ve written previously about Ron Reynolds, a state representative and lawyer who was charged with barratry.

Well, it has been a while. The other seven people who were arrested with Rep. Reynolds took pleas, but Rep. Reynolds went to trial. And…?

You’re going down in flames, you tax-fattened hyena!

The Fort Bend County Democrat was convicted Friday of five counts of illegally soliciting clients, or misdemeanor barratry. A six-person jury on Monday rejected his plea for probation, and instead sentenced him to 12 months behind bars and a fine of several thousand dollars.

I’ve also written about Kelly Thomas, who was beaten to death by the Fullerton PD. The city (meaning local taxpayers) is going to pay out $4.9 million to his family, in settlement of their wrongful death lawsuit.

Obit watch: noted elsewhere, but I did want to mention the passing of Ken Johnson, former player for the Houston Astros (and the Colt .45s, their predecessor), and the only pitcher ever to “complete a nine-inning game without yielding a hit and still manage to lose it.”

(Oddly enough, there’s a good explanation of how this happened in the FARK discussion thread.)

Also among the dead: Adele Mailer, Norman’s ex-wife and the woman he stabbed in a drunken rage.

Some guests recalled that the point of no return came when she told her husband that he was not as good as Dostoyevsky.

Norts spews.

November 20th, 2015

By way of the NYT, we learn of a controversy sweeping the world of curling: “high-tech” brooms.

Perhaps unsurprising for a sport that has something in common with a household chore, the issue involves fabric — specifically, something called directional fabric. The use of this material in broom pads is the latest escalation in an arms race among manufacturers seeking to help the world’s best curlers guide their 44-pound stones along a sheet of ice as if they were controlled by joysticks.


Many, but not all, of the sport’s top competitors signed an agreement last month to shun the newest brooms. But with few regulations on the books and Olympic qualifying tournaments underway this month, the World Curling Federation stepped in Wednesday and issued new rules that set severe restrictions on the types of brooms that can be used.

It is not going back to hog’s hair, but it is close — banning waterproofed fabric and “stiffening” inserts, and requiring all brooms to be available for purchase at a retailer.

“a retailer”? Like a grocery store? Or like a curling specialty shop?

(Steve’s Curling Supplies sells both the Balance Plus and the Hardline.)

Wednesday was the 30th anniversary of Joe Theismann’s leg injury, and the WP ran a story tied to that.

“The pain was excruciating,” he said. “I’ve had people come up and say ‘Did it hurt?’ And my suggestion to anyone, if you want to know what it felt like, go hang your foot over a curb and let somebody drive a car over it and you’ll get an idea of the severity of it. But the amazing thing about the human body is it hurt tremendously in an instant, and then from the knee down, my leg went completely numb.

Speaking from recent bitter personal experience, this.

So they’re lifting me off the stretcher, and my right leg just drops down like a wet noodle. And I turned to the attendant, I said ‘Excuse me, can you just pick up the rest of me please?’ Didn’t feel a thing. Did not feel one thing.

(Also, I love the detail about the black and white TV with the coat hanger. The ER at Brackenridge has cable TV, so at least you’ve got something to distract you. If you happen to be conscious.)

TMQ Watch: November 17, 2015.

November 19th, 2015

You know what we miss from the new, tighter, TMQ?

We’ll tell you. After the jump, this week’s TMQ

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Failure to launch.

November 18th, 2015

And we have our first firing of the NBA season (I think):

Kevin McHale is gone as head coach of the Houston Rockets.

McHale was fired just 11 games into his new four-year, $16 million contract extension. He leaves with the best winning percentage of any coach in franchise history, having taken the Rockets farther last season, to the Western Conference Finals, than any coach in 17 years.

McHale was 193-130 overall.

(By the way, Philadelphia is 0-11.)

Musical interlude.

November 13th, 2015

No particular reason. Just feel like it.


November 12th, 2015

I wasn’t blogging the trial, nor was I following it very closely, but this is just too good to pass up:

Vincent Asaro, who was charged with helping plan the 1978 Lufthansa robbery at Kennedy International Airport along with other acts of racketeering and extortion that spanned much of his 80 years, was acquitted on all counts on Thursday.

That’s right. Aquitted.

But the jury rejected the prosecution’s case, dealing a stunning blow to the United States attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York.

Heh. Heh. Heh.

(You may remember the Lufthansa robbery from such movies as “Goodfellas”.)

Edited to add 11/13:

Flanked by his lawyers, Elizabeth Macedonio and Diane Ferrone, he fielded a flurry of questions from reporters, who asked what he was going to do (“play some paddleball”), where he was heading (“to have a good meal and see my family”) and what he was going to eat (“anything but a bologna sandwich”). Indeed, he appeared delighted by the commotion his acquittal had created. “John Gotti didn’t get this much attention,” he said of the Gambino boss, who was notoriously hard to convict.

I’m just going to leave this here…

TMQ Watch: November 10, 2015.

November 12th, 2015

We’re running behind again, this time due to Time-Warner issues and other things. In case you were wondering, we are still a bit gimpy, but our hand is steadily improving.

Let’s go ahead and jump into this week’s TMQ

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