Workbench

Fargo Reviewer on Refinery 29 Races to Conclusion

Fargo FX TV series season three stamps promo

I'm a huge fan of Noah Hawley's Fargo TV series, which just completed its third season on FX. This post contains spoilers, so bail out now if you're avoiding them. I enjoyed the season but thought it didn't live up to the greatness of the earlier ones. For most of the season, the villain V. M. Varga lacked a protagonist formidable enough to be a credible challenge. It wasn't until the final third when the bridge-playing parolee Nikki Swango brought up her game to put his evil scheme in genuine doubt.

Now that the no-spoiler readers are gone, I can share the reason I'm writing about the show today.

Refinery 29 writer Ariana Romero has declared the finale offensive on racial grounds:

In Fargo's last minutes, a black man and a heartbroken woman are killed as a white man walks away, not one hair out of place. We know this, because we see the police officer's blood-splattered face and shirt, pointing out exactly where he was fatally shot. The Fargo team makes sure we notice the gore, since the camera slowly pans over the man's body. We've seen enough real-life black men murdered in very similar traffic stops -- almost always on the other side of the law enforcement-driver equation -- why do we need to experience another one? Especially on a show with so few people of color in the first place? This hits too close to home, considering the actor who played Officer Crowley, Michael Brown, shares a name with the 18-year-old young man whose death prompted the Ferguson protests of 2014.

Complaining about bloody depictions of violence on Fargo is like being upset there's so much singing on Nashville. Anyone who watched the series knew the finale would show the bodies of one or more characters in sorrowful detail as Jeff Russo's magnificent Fargo theme played in the background.

The heartbroken woman described so sympathetically by Romero carried out a gruesome murder-by-air-conditioner in the season's first episode. When a character commits a heinous crime on this show, it almost always balances the scales by the end. The inability of the evildoer to escape the fate they deserve is a major theme of every incarnation of Fargo.

As for the coincidence that the actor playing the cop in a single scene is named Michael Brown, if leaping to offense was an Olympic sport, Refinery 29 would be a favorite for the gold.

-- Rogers Cadenhead

Since I began blogging again on Workbench, I've been kept company primarily by comment spammers. Every morning I weed them out. Some are bots, but others have a human who writes a few sentences in clumsy English that are incorporated into the spam. I figure they must do hundreds of these an hour.

Some of these spammers are targeting my eulogy for my dad. This one came in from Pakistan:

This is good to know that you deliver eulogy to your dad and give him credit with name. Mostly sons not do this for their parents but we care about them and always talk with peace http://example.com/ also provide you the good lessons on parents and child relation and you learn from here a lot.

I removed the link. It's a site selling term papers.

Welcome, Readers of the Future

I'm working on the next edition of Sams' Teach Yourself Java in 24 Hours. Java 9 has a new HTTP client package, jdk.incubator.http, that makes it a lot easier to GET and POST to web servers and other software that communicates over HTTP.

For a demo, I needed a simple server that could take POST requests and do something with them without requiring a user login. I was about to write one when I realized I already had. This blog takes comments submitted over POST.

When the book comes out, I'll be able to see from these comments that readers have reached Hour 22.

The Adam West Series That Wasn't: Lookwell

Adam West died Friday at age 88. As a child of the '70s, I thought West was a giant of Hollywood. I watched the Batman TV movie and show as often as they came on.

When cable TV arrived and my parents let us watch movie channels with precious little oversight, it was quite a shock to see him in The Happy Hooker Goes Hollywood. Holy titillation, Batman!

West was underrated as a comic actor. His deadpan Batman performance was legendary, but he could do a lot more than that. Around 15 years ago a TV series called Brilliant But Cancelled showed the pilot Lookwell, created by Conan O'Brien and Robert Smigel with West in the lead. It aired once but wasn't made into a series.

West was perfect for the role of a washed-up TV action hero who thinks being a celebrity deputy means he can solve crimes.

There's new energy in blogging these days with Manton Reese's Micro.blog and a new syndication format created by Reese and Brent Simmons, JSONFeed. This inspires me to put more of my efforts into my neglected blog instead of posting in silos like Twitter and Facebook.

I want to put content of all types here: tweet-like messages, photos, videos and full articles with headlines. There will be bugs. Now I'm going to hit Save and see how my homebrew software handles content without titles and tags.

Eulogy for My Dad Roger Cadenhead

I delivered this eulogy for my dad Roger Cadenhead today at Prestonwood Baptist Church.

On behalf of the family I'd like to thank everyone for coming out to honor dad. I'm his son Rogers, also known as Roger Jr., also known as Little Roger.

There are some people you meet whose brains spin at a different RPM than anyone else's. He was one of them.

My dad was 20 when I was born and my mom was 18. I am a happy accident.

Dad had some unusual parenting techniques. Our apartment in Oak Cliff was so small my crib was in a closet. He would make a face and tell me, "I'm gonna break your plate and burn your sheet!" Southern expressions are weird. I was 30 before I figured out that all the people telling me "bless your heart" were not paying me a compliment. But this expression was the weirdest. All the time dad would say to me, "I'm gonna break your plate and burn your sheet!" One day we were moving to a new apartment, so Dad took my crib apart to pack it. When I saw this, I flipped out. I ran to mom and wailed, "HE'S BREAKING MY PLATE AND BURNING MY SHEET!"

I learned several things as dad's first-born son.

1. When a train crossing starts clanging and the arms come down, that means "hurry up and see if you can beat the train."

2. If your dad leaves you on an elevator, stay on the elevator. He'll eventually figure out you're gone and find you.

3. When your dad says "hold my beer while I try this," step back at least 10 feet for safety reasons.

I had fun as an only child, but the real mayhem began when my parents thought they were having one baby but got a BOGO deal and brought home twins.

Chad and Kelly, please stand for this part.

The twins were three when they decided our home was clothing optional. They would at a moment's notice take off their clothes and run naked through the house. And the yard. And the neighborhood.

One day they couldn't be found. Dad panicked. He ran through the house yelling "Chad and Kelly!" When he went into the front yard hollering their names, a neighbor pointed at our front window.

Chad and Kelly were standing in between the curtain and the front window, waving at people, both naked as a jaybird.

Chad and Kelly, you can sit down now.

While I'm up here I want to thank my Other Mother, Sherry.

Sherry was the love of dad's life and it means a lot to us that she took such good care of him.

When you stand up and say you'll be with someone "in sickness and in health, for better or worse," that's easy during the wedding. You're young. Your outfit is on fleek. You're already thinking about the reception and the open bar.

But when life tests you with a challenge like the struggle dad faced for over a decade, Ronnie Millsap had it right: That's 99 44/100ths percent pure love.

When my dad liked a song, he listened to it over and over. Everyone in the house learned every line. Whether we wanted to or not.

There's a limit to how many times a person should be forced to hear "Giddy up, a oom papa oom papa mow mow." But it wasn't all bad. I could listen all day to Janis Joplin asking the Lord for a Mercedes Benz.

There was one song that dad in particular liked to sing along with. You could say it was his life philosophy.

I think we should sing eight lines from it. I want to hear you in the back. I see you in the back, Kay. I know you came in late, and that's OK.

"Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble.
When you're perfect in every way.
I caint wait to look in the mirror.
'Cause I get better lookin' each day.
To know me is to love me.
I must be a ---- of a man.
Oh Lord, it's hard to be humble.
But we're doing the best that we can."

I love you, dad. After a 70-year life surrounded by love, you're the one on the elevator. Keep going, and as you made me understand when I was six, we will be together again. And I know it's fun, but please don't push all the buttons.

Remembering My Dad Roger Cadenhead

My dad Roger Cadenhead died yesterday after a long battle with Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome. He was 70. Dad was a microelectronic engineer, rock-ribbed Republican, ham radio operator K5PCS and one half of the June 1980 father-son championship at the Hulen Mall Putt-Putt. You could start a conversation with him on the weather and find yourself an hour later in a discourse on the root causes of World War I. He'll be taken back to Honey Grove, which he loved, to the mother and grandmother who raised him. His death means that someone else is now the No. 1 critic of Texas Rangers general manager Jon Daniels.

Rogers Cadenhead and his dad Roger Cadenhead

My dad and I, circa 1970