The continuing adventures of Beau Yarbrough

Three shows to watch while waiting for The Walking Dead to come back

Monday, March 30, 2015, 12:52
Section: Arts & Entertainment

The Walking Dead

Now that the finale of season five of The Walking Dead has set a ratings record, there’s a several month wait until the prequel/spin-off series Fear the Walking Dead begins and about nine months until The Walking Dead itself returns in the fall.

So, what to watch in the meantime?

1) Black Mirror - No zombies here, but this British Twilight Zone-style take on technology (the “black mirror” of the title are computer/smartphone screens) is as dark as anything in The Walking Dead, if less gory. Honestly, though, it doesn’t need the gore, as several of its stories cut more deeply than anything in TWD. As a British show, it’s got relatively few episodes: Just two seasons of three episodes each, but the vast majority of them are fantastic. (I don’t love “White Bear” and “The Waldo Moment” has a pretty silly after-credits coda.) You can binge watch the entire thing on Netflix and a special, “Black Mirror: White Christmas,” is in production now.

2) In the Flesh - Staying in Britain, this British series is about life after a zombie uprising — and the subsequent cure (or, more accurately, an ongoing treatment for the afflicted). Whereas TWD is about man’s inhumanity to man and the thin veneer of civilization, In the Flesh is about survivor’s guilt, the reconciliation of two sides after war and whether or not one can ever return to something approaching to normalcy after the devastation of war. (If you think that sounds like a metaphor for contemporary life in Northern Ireland, you’re on the right track.) The third season was cancelled due to budget cuts at BBC Three, but the first two seasons are excellent and well worth watching on Amazon Prime.

3) Last Man on Earth - Although officially a comedy, this Fox sitcom about Will Forte realizing he’s the last man alive a year after a virus wipes out the rest of the human race gets pretty dark, with the first before-credits scream beginning with Forte’s character screaming in rage and despair at his loneliness. But the show also has fun with the sort of after-the-end chaos that Zombieland explored as well — “there’s no wrong way to use a margarita pool” — raises real questions about the value of social constructs even after they have been rendered seemingly meaningless. You can stream all the episodes to date on Fox’s website.

How about you? What you will be watching while waiting for the zombie hordes to return to Alexandria?

My most-read stories of 2014

Monday, January 5, 2015, 18:22
Section: Journalism

This is my last 2014 round-up story, I swear.

Rialto Unified logoThese are based on our internal measurements, so I can’t reveal exact numbers without getting my fingers broken, but here’s my most-read stories from last year. (They pale in comparison to the reads crime, sports and photo galleries get, of course.) Although the stories you expect to be here are, they’re not in the spots I would have predicted, personally:

1. San Bernardino teacher accused of racist slur in classroom

Far and away my most-read story of the year, even putting together all the reads of my Rialto Unified Holocaust assignment coverage from the Sun, Daily Bulletin and Daily News.

On Friday, Sept. 12, I was at the Sun, writing up my court coverage of another story (one of the seemingly endless follow-ups to the California Charter Academy indictments) when LaRue Bell’s family came in, and asked to speak to a reporter. The district responded quickly to my inquiry about Bell’s assertions about his teacher and I thought that was that. But the story attracted a great deal of attention, emails from supporters of the teacher and several additional weeks of coverage. I intend to follow up on her job status now that the school year has started up again in January.

2. San Bernardino teacher arrested for alleged sex with minors

The second most-read story of the year was, again, a fairly simple one from our standpoint: The police reported that a teacher had been arrested for sex crimes with children. In the interest of finding other possible victims, the police put the news out, along with her picture, and we did the same, for similar reasons. But from the very beginning, her defenders proclaimed her innocence in numbers we typically don’t see and suggested there was more to the story. This fall, the district attorney ended up dropping all charges against the teacher, citing an “insufficiency of evidence.”

3. Holocaust denied by students in Rialto school assignment

This is the story I thought would be the top one of the year, as it made international headlines, changed the curriculum for Rialto Unified’s ninth grade students this year and led to numerous shakeups in the district. It was my top story at the Los Angeles Daily News, but only came in third place, trailing the two stories about San Bernardino City Unified teachers. I’m happy that my editors backed me up on my desire to post all 2,000 student essays online, via DocumentCloud, although I feel sympathy for anyone else who reads through all 2,000 hand-written essays.

4. Rialto Unified defends writing assignment on confirming or denying Holocaust

This was the big story that dropped in May, sending ripples across the nation and overseas. Within minutes of this being posted online, the district began getting emails from around the world, according to documents released under the California Public Records Act. One of the immediate impacts was that news sites across the country did their own versions of the story, sometimes crediting the Sun or me, sometimes not. Still, the story was the second-biggest for me on and did well overall for the year.

5. Hundreds mourn Chino car crash victims at tearful vigil in Eastvale

This story, written with Greg Cappis, who was covering breaking news that Saturday night, was by a large margin the most-read story in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin this year, ahead of the initial story about the car crash I worked on earlier that Saturday morning and Rialto Unified Holocaust follow-up stories. Both likely got additional views from a grim coincidence: There was not one, but two Southern California three-car crashes that killed multiple teenagers that night. We received comments, tweets and emails from people scolding us for getting the facts wrong, when they thought they were reading about the Irvine crash, rather than the Chino one.

iPod Top 100: 2014

Thursday, January 1, 2015, 13:26
Section: Arts & Entertainment

That title seems ever more inaccurate, now that I’m writing the 10th edition of this list. Still, tradition!

1. “History Eraser” - Courtney Barnett
2. “I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man (Live)” - The Eels
3. “Cherry Bomb” - The Runaways
4. “(I’d Go the) Whole Wide World” - Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside
5. “Boom Boom” - Storm Large
6. “We Used to Be Friends” - Alejandro Escovedo
7. “Leavin’ Trunk” - The Black Keys
8. “Avant Gardner” - Courtney Barnett
9. “Run Me Down” - The Black Keys
10. “Once Upon a Dream” - Lana Del Rey
11. “Salome” - Old 97’s
12. “From Nails to Thumbtacks” - The Baseball Project
13. “I’ll Be Your Man” - The Black Keys
14. “Hooked On a Feeling” - Blue Swede
15. “Spitfire” - Public Service Broadcasting
16. “Have Love Will Travel” - The Black Keys
17. “Lousy Husband (But a Real Good Dad)” - Todd Sharpville
18. “Goodbye to Guyville” - Urge Overkill
19. “Heavy Soul” - The Black Keys
20. “The Eagle Has Landed” - Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside
21. “Countdown” - The Black Keys
22. “Skinny Legs and All” - Joe Tex
23. “Why’d You Only Call Me When I’m High?” - Arctic Monkeys
24. “She Said, She Said” - The Black Keys
25. “Let’s Get Drunk & Get It On” - Old 97’s
26. “Do I Wanna Know?” - Arctic Monkeys
27. “Next Girl” - The Black Keys
28. “Just One of the Guys” - Jenny Lewis
29. “The Princess Who Saved Herself” - Jonathan Coulton
30. “White Rabbit (Arabic version)” - Mayssa Karaa
31. “Girl You Look Amazing” - Nicole Atkins
32. “Lips N Hips” - Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside
33. “When It’s Time to Come Down” - The Black Hollies
34. “Thickfreakness” - The Black Keys
35. “Going Out” - Hospitality
36. “West Memphis” - Lucinda Williams
37. “Marvin, I Love You” - Marvin, the Paranoid Android
38. “Juicy Lucy” - Sonny Knight & The Lakers
39. “Under the Sea” - Toucan Steel Drum Band
40. “Brooklyn Bound” - The Black Keys
41. “Six Pack of Beer and a Pack of Cigarettes” - Erik Koskinen
42. “Greens and Blues” - The Pixies
43. “Go All the Way” - Raspberries
44. “Beast of Burden (Live)” - The Rolling Stones
45. “Them Eyes” - The Black Keys
46. “Cinnamon” - The Long Winters
47. “No Better” - Lorde
48. “Swampy Seconds” - Magic Mouth
49. “Metal Man” - Marvin, the Paranoid Android
50. “Spirit in the Sky” - Norman Greenbaum
51. “Come and Get Your Love” - Redbone
52. “Escape (The PiƱa Colada Song)” - Rupert Holmes
53. “Bumpin’” - Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside
54. “Breaks” - The Black Keys
55. “Young and Beautiful” - Lana Del Rey
56. “Marvin” - Marvin, the Paranoid Android
57. “Abracadabralifornia” - RHCP2014
58. “Do the Rump” - The Black Keys
59. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” - CHVRCHES
60. “I Miss Your Bones” - Hospitality
61. “Fuck That” - Sallie Ford & The Sound Outside
62. “Yearnin’” - The Black Keys
63. “No Shoes, No Shirt, No Problem” - Kenny Chesney
64. “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” - Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell
65. “Reasons to be Miserable” - Marvin, the Paranoid Android
66. “Stick Up” - Max
67. “Settle Me Down” - Zac Brown Band
68. “Spaceteam” - 100 robots
69. “Busted” - The Black Keys
70. “Tokunori” - Philippe Lachance
71. “Invisible (RED) Edit Version” - U2
72. “I Want You Back” - The Jackson 5
73. “The Voyager” - Jenny Lewis
74. “Rusty Cage” - Johnny Cash
75. “Time’s All Gone, Pt. 1″ - Nick Waterhouse
76. “Spacetheme - Easter Egg version” - Philippe Lachance
77. “Riptide” - Vance Joy
78. “Country Folks (feat. Colt Ford)” - Bubba Sparxxx
79. “O-O-H Child” - The Five Stairsteps
80. “Caught Up” - Jessica Hernandez & The Deltas
81. “Holding My Breath” - Mr Twin Sister
82. “Who Needs You” - The Orwells
83. “Okuma” - Philippe Lachance
84. “Criminal (feat. Freddie Gibbs)” - ZZ Ward & Freddie Gibbs
85. “I’m Not in Love” - 10cc
86. “Your Touch” - The Black Keys
87. “Moonage Daydream” - David Bowie
88. “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” - Elvin Bishop
89. “Friend of the Devil” - The Grateful Dead
90. “Second Chances” - Gregory Alan Isakov
91. “Washing Dishes” - Jack Johnson
92. “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” - Lou Rawls
93. “Never Give In” - Mackintosh Braun
94. “All Around and Away We Go” - Mr Twin Sister
95. “Gobo” - Philippe Lachance
96. “Golden Twin” - Wild Ones
97. “Journey of the Sorcerer” - The Eagles
98. “Go Captain and Pinlighter” - Emperor X
99. “Waiting room” - Philippe Lachance
100. “Chicago” - Sufjan Stevens

Here are the previous nine iterations of this list: Previous editions can be found here: 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013.

My top Instagram photos of 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 16:53
Section: Arts & Entertainment

My most-liked photos of #2014, via @iconosquare. Journalism, family and sharks. Seems about right.

A video posted by Beau Yarbrough (@lby3) on

Books read, 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014, 16:47
Section: Arts & Entertainment

I had hoped to beat 2013’s total of 14 books, and am midway through two excellent ones, but both are slow-going, both because they’re fairly hefty reads during the holidays, and because I’m savoring them both: Tim Powers’ tour-de-force Declare, which melds World War II and Cold War espionage with genies and, from the looks of thing, Biblical apocrypha, and the incredibly comprehensive The Frood, a biography of Douglas Adams which includes many never-before-seen outtakes that never made it into the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy stories or other works. Both are fantastic reads and both are slow going.

Feb. 28: Top Secret America by Dana Priest
March 16: Mostly Harmless by Douglas Adams
May 28: Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett
June 1: Liz Phair’s Exile in Guyville by Gina Arnold
June 9: Doctor Who: Shada by Gareth Roberts and Douglas Adams
June 15: The Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry
July 5: The Government Manual for New Pirates by Matthew David Brozik
July 31: The Radleys by Matt Haig
Aug. 25: The Thousand-Dollar Tan Line by Rob Thomas
Aug. 26: The Magician King by Lev Grossman
Sept. 23: Grimbeard Goes to Prison by Samwise Didier
Oct. 12: The Magician’s Land by Lev Grossman
Nov. 11: Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
Nov. 22: Skink–No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen

Stay away from Last Kind Words Saloon, by the way. I’m not sure what McMurtry was going for there, but it reads like the old “be awful to you until you break up with me” maneuver and is all around unpleasant. Forget “not watering your plants while you’re away and letting them die” or “forgetting to pick you up at the airport” awful; we’re talking “I let your dog out of the house and it got hit by a car and died” awful. You’ve been warned.


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Veritas odit moras.