Home again, home again, jiggity jig

Is it braggin' to say that last night's Free Candy was among the best we've had? Probably. But I'm saying it anyway. We had super guests, a stellar audience and, best of all, Gene Dobbs Bradford and The Blues Inquisition were one of the most mind-blowing bands we've ever had. Ridiculously talented folk who also happen to be a bunch of great guys. You simply must check them out if you get a chance. (The drummer was kind enough to supply us with a few timely rim-shots, which I'm told made Amanda and me much, much funnier.) Speaking of Free Candy, about a year ago a friend here tried to convince me that we should start a franchise of the show in Ann Arbor. At the time, I didn't know if we'd be here long term and wasn't sure enough of the community. However, as it becomes harder and harder for me to get back to St. Louis on a regular basis, the idea of doing the show here becomes even more appealing. Let's just say I'm mulling it over, considering co-hosts and beginning to think about logistics.

Not speaking of the marathon, Chris did great yesterday. He came in just under four hours and 10 minutes, right around what he was shooting for. Considering it's his first marathon in a couple of years (SLACKER!) he's feeling really good about his performance. Best of all, he employed a walk-run technique (running 9 minutes, walking 40 seconds or so) for part of the race and it seems to have had a substantial impact on his recovery. He's in far better shape than he usually is the day after.

Of course, he's still insane for running 26.2 miles in the first place.

On a completely different note -- since I'm so obviously rambling anyway -- Lambert Airport was a zoo this morning when we arrived for our 8:50 flight from St. Louis to Detroit. Just crazy lines for security, snaking their way back and forth across the terminal. Apparently it's par for the course for Monday morning travel. Still, as we stood in line at the gate, the woman in front of me joked that perhaps it was extra security for all the NRA convention folk leaving town. We joked about people hiding weapons in their carry-ons.

It turns out that at almost the exact moment we parried back and forth about crazed gunmen, a man began a shooting rampage on the campus of Virginia Tech University, leaving more than 30 students dead. I read the breaking news as soon as we got back home to Ann Arbor and have been following the details all day since. There's nothing I can say about it that won't sound like a pathetic attempt at poignancy, a lament about the state of modern society -- and the media already have that covered, when they're not offering up confusing and conflicting details of the developing story. I'm just really sad about it, that's all.

And a little pissed at the press coverage. CNN had a photo on its front page for a while that showed police carrying a student out of the building. It was impossible to tell if the kid was alive, but he was at the very least passed out. I couldn't help but wonder if his family was reading CNN and if this might be the way they found out that their child had been injured or, worse, killed. This from a media outlet that, like most others in the US, won't show the coffins of soldiers killed in Iraq unless we find the "reality" too jarring.

It's a story like this one at Virginia Tech, too, that points out the drawbacks of the immediacy of online news reporting. So many facts are murky, so many conflicting details and all of it seems to be being thrown online with more regard for speed than accuracy. On both CNN.com and MSNBC.com today, the little slugs or factoids about the story conflicted with details in the main copy. At one point, CNN.com was reporting -- on the same page -- that the gunman was killed and was still at large. It's still hard to tell what's going on.

What does seem to be emerging, however, is a tale of inadequate response that goes far beyond the media. In the hour plus between the time that the gunman killed two in a dorm and embarked on the bulk of his killings in classrooms across campus, the university failed to shutdown the campus. Police assumed, apparently, that the gunman had left the campus and no further precaution was taken. A simple cautious lockdown could have saved nearly 30 lives. It'll be interesting to see how the buck gets passed along on that one.

I'm wondering if I feel this news just a tad more strongly now that I live in a college town, know kids at school here and walk through and around campus on a regular basis. There's something so jarring about school shootings, such a violation of what should be one of the last safe places. Like I said, it's just sad, sad stuff.