Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Best Buy Bodhisattva

If you like reading, read this article at Gamers With Jobs. It will not disappoint. Don't worry about not understanding games. It's not about the games.

As one and with purpose, they stop in front of the GH3 shrine. Choreographed in their movements, the smallest of the clan hands the well-used Gibson Les Paul reverently to the leader.
"OK Kyle, here you go."

...I see Kyle move through the selection screens, and my heart jumps to my throat.

"Through the Fire and the Flames" on Expert.

The song itself is classic hair-guitar, and while watching the original guitarist play it is a jaw dropping "holy-Jesus-on-a-popsicle-stick" experience, as music goes it's not the kind of thing I put on my iPod for casual listening. It exists purely as an expression of guitar hubris.

As the stage swirls on the screen, a calm comes over Kyle. His face slackens a bit. He closes his eyes. His lieutenants absorb his tension, shuffling their feet, biting their nails. The highway of the fret board starts rolling, and as the first note falls, Kyle's eyes open.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Those are the first words spoken by Frosty the Snowman in that holiday classic, and a greeting shared between my sister and I around this time every year.

My hope for all of you is that this holiday finds you in good health and with family and/or friends around with whom to share the happiness.

I don't care if you celebrate Christmas, some other holiday, or none at all. Good will is truly one size fits all, and I'm taking this Christmas to wish a little your way.

So Merry Christmas, Happy Channukah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, etc.!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Body Count

It's not something I keep up with, usually, but this has been an unusual two weeks.

I don't know the total for the seven years that I've been shooting, but I've been to more than a couple scenes where people have recently met their ends. Last week I was on call, and I was busy.

The last few rotations had gone by with hardly any calls, maybe even none, so it was no surprise to me when the pager finally warbled its happy tune. That day was a harbinger of things to come.

The week began with a car accident, where the driver was DUI and swerved into the path of an oncoming truck. In a vain attempt to defy physics and occupy the same space at the same time, the greater mass of the truck won out, and the two passengers in the car lost everything.

Early Friday morning I was on the campus of LSU, having been called out to the murder of two doctoral students from India gunned down in an apartment. Apparently they were the victims of opportunity, having let their guard down at the worst possible moment.

Exactly 24 hours later I was recording another scene of twisted metal and rumpled blue tarpaulin. Some unfortunate soul rolled his truck on an empty stretch of highway in the land of jambalaya, and the collapsing roof crushed the life from his body.

Forty-eight hours after that, I was dispatched to the other end of the DMA for a fire in Rosedale that claimed the life of a woman. I arrived just in time for her lifeless body to be loaded into the waiting transport, and to grab a few shots of still smoldering coals.

It was when I handed the pager off to the next guy that it hit me that I had recorded so much of the reaper's work from one Monday to the next. Only interesting to me because I think that is a one-week record for me. Call week was over, but the death card kept getting dealt to me.

Tuesday found me on the road to New Orleans on a story about some missing boaters. Four people went against common sense and Coast Guard advisories and took to the waters of Lake Ponchartrain in a 14' flat-bottomed boat three days before, but weren't reported missing for two days. Two were found alive on the marshy banks, not far from each other, but one was found dead, and the other may or may not have been found yet. I'm pretty sure that if or when he is found, his pulse won't be, thus his inclusion.

Today (Friday) brought be to the breaking point. One more life had been taken in a senseless act that may have far larger repercussions than those of the gunshots responsible. Having arrived long after the scene had been cleared, I searched the ground for clues to direct my lens. When I found them I realized that I was standing on the exact spot where the victim had spent her last few moments pleading for her life.

I had inadvertantly broken one of my rules and stood on the very spot where the victim had died. It's a rule born not of superstition, but of respect for the departed and the family they have left behind.

Having thought about it, this was tough, but probably just the crack that broke the dam, letting the swirling undercurrent of emotion leading up to this holiday pour out. After 10 minutes alone in the privacy of Mobile 16, I was able to finish my day and head into the solace of four days away from the grind.

I think the real underpinning of my stress is that, while we are happy and enjoying this first Christmas with Claire, it's shaded with a tinge of blue. We were supposed to have twice the fun and laughter to share, and we all feel the loss of Chloe, whether we have acknowledged it or not.

We have duly honored her this year, and well continue to in those to come. The real kicker is that she is enjoying the holiday more, because she is sharing the birthday cake with the big J.C. I wonder if they put all 2000 candles on it, or cheat and use the numbers?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

SEC Championship

The LSU Tigers made the trip to Atlanta with only the slightest glimmer of hope for a National Championship bid if they won. I made the trip to Atlanta with a bottle of Dr. Pepper and a Christmas station on the radio.

The trip began well. Turdpolisher and I had tried to coordinate our departure to convoy up to Atlanta. I was a few minutes ahead, but figured I could drive slow enough for him to catch up. Then he had problems at the bank, and fell an hour behind, so I was left to my own devices. Maybe it was a good sign that I began the trip listening to Cheech tell Chong about the Santa and His Old Lady Commune, a Christmas classic.

The rest of the drive was uneventful, which is good, because the last big trip I went on was enough to last me a year. We ate well, and the hours weren't too bad. The only problem I ran into was trying to find a gas station that accepted either of the two gas cards we use. I finally found one after an hour and a half of driving, and stopping at nearly 20 stations where the attendants looked at me quizically when I held up the cards. Frustrating.

The day of the game was quite interesting. Some guy on ESPN broke the story that Les Miles was definately going to be the coach at his Alma Mater, Michigan. Most LSU fans still hadn't recovered from the loss to Arkansas that seemingly knocked their team out of the running for the National Title, and this latest news was more than they could take. I'm actually surprised I didn't see any of them leaping from the balconies of the hotel! What could they do but shrug it off. After all, it's not like they hadn't been left before.

Everything changed when the Lesticle called a press conference at 1:50 p.m. He was none too happy, seeing as how he was trying to avoid all of this talk until after the current game was over. He stepped up to the mic and flatout refuted the earlier reports, then wrapped up with 'Have a GREAT day,' said with just the right amount of 'screw you guys' thrown in. I'm not knockin' the guy. I love that video.

The team played a good game that night. I found a Turd on the field. I hope no one stepped on him.


They played it close for two quarters, then pulled away in the second half.


They needed a miracle to make it to the championship game, though. As the night wore on, the dominoes kept falling, and the Tigers got their Christmas wish, just a bit early. They helped me out as well, because a New Year's Day Bowl Game would have really hurt my holiday plans.


The drive back was uneventful as well, but I found a killer rainbow to welcome me back to the Deuce.


Thursday, December 06, 2007

Copious Content

Before I get to my recap of the SEC Championship Weekend, I've been thinking...

Dangerous, I know, especially for a photog. Most people might even think I'm going above my pay grade, but we all know better.

I've been thinking about the abundance of media available for consumption, and how one person might just shut down when faced with it all. It's why I post so sporadically. With 24 hours in a day, how can one person keep up with everything in which they might be interested? I have work, which occupies a large part of my day, and sleep, which takes slightly less time. Now I have a family which takes up a good chunk of the leftover time, and so I only have a couple of hours to create and consume content.

I have a few webcomics that I read, PvP, Penny Arcade, and Real Life. Two of them have podcasts that I have never listened to, but I'm sure I'd like. I just don't have time to listen to them. Maybe I should get an iPod, then I might be able to listen at work.

There are other podcasts that I'd like to listen to, such as Leo Laporte's The Tech Guy, which I sometimes get to hear live on XM Radio on the weekend. I first got to know Leo by watching The Screen Savers on Tech TV, may it rest in peace. He has the gift of boiling a complicated technical issue down to the simplest terms that anyone can understand, and always does it with a pleasant demeanor.

I also like to read the blogs written by other photogs, many with much more talent than I, a better record of posting, and therefore higher hit counts. I didn't start this blog to get hits, but I do like to know that people are reading, and enjoying what they read. I guess all writers do so because they have words that have a need to get out, but if what I write can actually touch others, and possibly make a difference in their lives, then I can feel good about that. Mostly I just write because I need an outlet for what's bouncing around inside my noggin.

Though they are also media related, there are other blogs that I like to read, such as Verge New Media, The Spacey Gracey Review, and Paw Paw Bill. In the case of Bill's blog, it's a tenuous connection, but he used to be in the business. As I may have mentioned in previous posts, I'm a voracious reader, and I enjoy learning new things and being exposed to different viewpoints. That makes the internet both a wonderful invention, and the bane of my existence. I have unlimited access to anything I could possibly want to know, but not enough time to absorb it all, and so I freeze in trying to figure out where to begin.

As I've also made clear, I enjoy gaming. I have more blogs that I read related to that, such as Gamepolitics and Gamers With Jobs. While I enjoy gaming, I don't get to engage in it often, because once I get caught up with all these other things, I don't have time to play.

I also have an email account, which I hardly ever read either. It could be that all of this is why I should win the lottery. Then I might have the time to do all of this.

I almost forgot, I also watch Prime Time television, as part of family time, but that's also time not spent playing games. With shows like How I Met Your Mother, The Big Bang Theory, Heroes, October Road, Journeyman, The Unit, Boston Legal, Bionic Woman, Dirty Sexy Money, Smallville, Grey's Anatomy, and Numbers, my nights are mostly accounted for. There are other shows I'd like to watch, such as 24, House, Battlestar Galactica, The Office, My Name is Earl, Dr. Who, and others that I can't remember. Add to that some of the better Saturday morning cartoons, which are at least as good as what I grew up watching, and I've got a pretty full plate.

Oh, and I haven't made time to read any books or magazines throughout this post. Am I trying to do too much? Where do I cut back? How do I shift anything around to make better use of my time? AAAUUUGGGHHHH!!!!!

How Smart?

Gamepolitics has a link to a Blog Readability Test on Critics Rant. You can check any blog by typing in its address there. I scored High School.

cash advance

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


I just read an article over at Gamepolitics about this game. It sounds like fun to me. I think it'd be much better than letting my eyes cross and looking at the 3-D bump pattern on the wall.

For those not wanting to follow the link, it's a game installed as part of a urinal, but plays like the water-gun horse race at the carnival.

N.O. Thanks

Last week I bemoaned the traditional holiday stories. One might think I was tempting fate.

When I wrote that, I was well aware that I wouldn't be anywhere near that kind of story. C. Nak and I were already scheduled for a trip to the Crescent (roll) City for our story. Last year Tony Jones and another photog found a wonderful woman who was in the midst of gutting and remodeling her home of the last 30-plus years. She promised T.J. that she would be back in her home by Thanksgiving of this year, and that she would call us to come have dinner with her.

Tony left the Deuce a few weeks ago, so when Rosie called, the story fell in the lap of our resident New Orleans native, C. Nakamoto. It's one of those stories that edits itself in your head as you drive to it. I could tell you about it, but it's easier to show you.

Rosie is a great person, and if there were more people like her living in this city, it would be in better shape than it is now. Since I couldn't be with my family this Thanksgiving holiday, I'm glad I got to spend it with hers.

Oh, all the food in the piece tastes even better than it looks.

Watch N.O. Thanks.

Atlanta Bound

The LSU Tigers are head to Atlanta for the SEC Championship and so am I.

It hardly seems like four months have passed since my fateful trip to Birmingham to begin the football season. For those who wonder, check out this post. Now it's almost over, and I'm hoping this trip is less eventful than the last.

I am looking forward to visiting the ATL for the first time. Maybe I'll get a chance to stop by Cartoon Network HQ, or at least get a picture of it. We'll see how that all (Master) shakes out. I'll probably be confined to either the hotel or the sat truck/Georgia Dome. If any of you big city bloggers are still lurking here, I'd love to get together with y'all and taste some local flavor.

We're driving on Thursday and Sunday, with coverage in-between. 'Polisher is going to, so look for some team coverage on this one.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Holiday Help

I don't know if it's the Grinch in me, or the fact that I'm now a seasoned shooter, but I'm getting to the point that I really can't stand shooting a holiday story. Other factors could also be at work.

As a rookie photog, every story is new and exciting, because it's your first time shooting it, but spend a couple of years in one place, and you start to see the pattern emerging. The annual food drive or coat collection gives way to the outpouring of the community's compassion. The people who benefit from these are quite deserving of it, and I have great respect for those who give their time and money to make someone else's life a little brighter. My problem with it is that one of the benefits of this job is the variety in what the daily grind brings. I've been assigned this story at least three times in the last 5 years. Considering I'm not the only shooter, and that I found one of the 'old hands' who had never heard of the story before, that's just not right.

Okay, so I've done this story before. Management decided that I could use an extra degree of difficulty in turning this one, so we didn't get out the door until 20 minutes after the event had begun. This meant that we missed all the prep video of loading the boxed dinners into the cars of the people volunteering to deliver them to the needy. We also missed out on where these meals were going, since each person gets a list, and no one else knows where the other is going. It's kind of like Government Intelligence that way. Must be something to do with plausible deniability. Anyway, we catch up to the organizer, and then head to the local homeless hotspot for a hot meal, St. Vincent dePaul.

While we were at St. Vinnie's, I finally got jazzed about this story. Here I found everything our story was missing. Turning the corner into the kitchen, I was caressed by a cacophony of clattering cans and a cornucopia of images to capture. We were back in the station by noon, and had plenty of time to craft a good story.

Thanks to Chris Sasser for handling the live shot duties on this one, giving my all the time I needed to turn this one. Upon review, he pointed out to me what was wrong with the one sequence that didn't sit perfectly well with me. Can you figure it out? I'll post the answer in a few days in the comments section.

Watch Holiday Helpers.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Friendly Competition

The Ol' Polisher began his first Big Raggedy dayshift Monday, finally giving me a chance to go head-to-head with him on a story. Unfortunately four young people died to provide our subject matter.

Saturday night six 18-year-old guys were out for a late-night ride. A few miles from my house they left the roadway, and four of them left this earth. Today DH and I rolled out to Denham Springs to find what we could on this story, since we didn't have any scene video with which to work.

We began at Denham Springs High School, where three of the victims were Seniors, and the fourth had graduated in the spring. A short chat with Principal Butch Wax gave us a starting point in our search to find out who these young men were. While we were there, Polisher and his 'porter arrived, alerting me that I needed to be even more on my toes than usual. After leaving the high school, we made a quick stop to grab some sound.

At this point DH was thinking that we would center the story around this tragedy's effect on the community.

"Should we get some town video?" she asked me.
"It can wait 'til later," I said. We were going to search around for some classmates who knew the young men, but my sixth sense was urging me in another direction first. "Let's go to the crash site," I suggested.

There we found a group of students gathering to form a prayer circle. I have to say that two thoughts formed in my mind: grab the camera and get close enough to pick up what they're saying, or set up on the tripod across the street and use my lens to let them mourn in relative privacy. It is a snap decision, and anyone who knows me can guess my choice.

In the end I feel that I did the story justice, and in doing so, gave the friends and family left behind something to honor the memory of their loved ones.

I'll try to get this story up on the website as soon as possible.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Good Week

Looking back, it's been a good week. Due to some personal obligations, I wasn't able to make the trip to Tuscaloosa to run the Sat. Truck this weekend, but I got a chance to commit some news.

On Monday night Denham Springs experienced what the fire department is calling the largest fire in the city's history. The First United Methodist Church suffered it's second fire in nearly four decades. The last one burned the sanctuary in 1973, but this time it was saved. They did lose the church office and some Sunday School classrooms. Derek McCoy got a marginal live shot up for the 10 PM show and shot some great video.

Monday morning, after driving into work from Denham, I found myself driving Mobile 32 back out to the Free State for a day of live shots, laughter, and tears, all underscored by the aroma of freshly charred church permeating the air. Surprisingly everyone seemed to be in a relatively good mood. Many of them were sad, but the emotion I pick up on most was a general sense of disappointment, tempered with a strong dose of hope and optimism. It was a good vibe, and lead to a good story.

Watch Holy Fire.

The second good story this week was a follow-up to the fire on Thursday. It turns out a young couple was planning on getting hitched in the church on Saturday. Oops. What are their plans now? Have they gotten a new church? Will they have to re-order the cake? (Yes, that last one was actually asked.) We caught up to them, as they were on their way to the sanctuary to show the fiancee and his family what the place might have looked like when they got married. This wedding had some hurdles to jump before this happened, so they just took it in stride. I've really wanted to do a story like this for a while, and I think this one came together nicely.

Watch Wedding Worries.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Benefits of Office

I would like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to the good Senator on his successful campaign for re-election.

Obviously the constituents of the Government St. District are pleased with his performance, since he ran unopposed. This isn't surprising since his record is exemplary and his term in office has passed so far without scandal.

I would also like to inform the body that I have been reaping the benefits of his hard work. Today I was assigned the Oktoberfest live shot and the free food that accompanies it, did you know? I was able to enjoy a plate of potatoes, green beans, schnitzel, bratwurst, and cabbage, all cooked to perfection. The only downside was having to turn down so many offers of free German beer. It was only two or three, but one is too many, did you know?

This being said, I propose and ammendment to the Constitution:

WHEREAS the typical News Photographer (hereafter referred to as Photog) works at the whim of the Assignment Editor,

WHEREAS these whims usually occur when the Photog is closest to taking a lunch/dinner break,

WHEREAS assignments occasionally require the Photog to miss his/her meal while recording other people enjoying a better meal,

WHEREAS certain assignments place the Photog in a fortuitous conjunction of a free meal and free drink,

WHEREAS those assignments are typically followed by a more pressing assignment,

WHEREAS the time constraints placed on the Photog in these situations cause the Photog to rush through eating and not take full advantage of the hospitiality offered him/her,

BE IT THEREFORE RESOLVED THAT those prime assignments be the final assignment for the day,


the Photog be allowed to spend as much personal time as is required for full participation in said assignment.

I think that should just about cover it, but I request that we have Staff look it over and make any necessary changes in spelling or wording.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Family Update

After reading Paw Paw Bill's comments, I went back and read my Father's Day post, and the new comments posted there. I've come to realize that I should probably give you guys an update on us.

Everyone is doing well, though we still have our moments. I'm sure we'll always have these moments, but that's okay. Claire is growing like a weed. She's four months old now, and developing her personality. There's nothing that makes me happier than the toothless grin she gives me when I get her attention. She's such a happy little girl, and usually well behaved. I really can't believe how fortunate we are to have her. She sleeps through the night, and has for the last three months.


We're waiting for the weather to cool down so we can take her to a McNeese football game. My sister and I went last weekend, and had a pretty good time, but Claire and the Mrs. stayed home because we didn't want her freaking out with all the people around. She'd had a big weekend the week before, and met a lot of new people that day, and we were pretty sure that she wouldn't make it through the game, anyway.


Thank you all for the kind words, thoughts, and prayers sent our way. We really appreciate them. I hope you like the pictures.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Cool Meetings

I've met quite a few characters in my seven years as a photog, but I'm finally getting to meet some people of true notoriety; two in one week, even!

I didn't get into this business to meet famous people, that's just one of the perks. A family member once asked me, after I had begun working the studio cameras at my first TV job, if I had met anyone famous. I asked her what she meant by famous: anchors and reporters, of course. They didn't count, in my book, but these next two guys certainly do.

Two weeks ago I was on call. Occasionally this requires me to stumble out of bed and drive to some calamity at an obscene time in the darkest hours of the night. Usually it just means an early detour on my journey to the station. This week found not one but two such incidents.

The first was a trip to Capitol Middle School, where the students were hearing from a guest speaker. This was none other than the man who put the DMC in RunDMC. I felt bad for Gus, who was supposed to be covering this event as the morning photog, but he was diverted to more urgent news.

Listening to DMC speak is a treat, and I recommend it if he's anywhere near you. He held the students and adults attention for a solid hour, which is no easy feat. Even harder to do is to keep me rolling after I've gotten the standard sequence of shots, but I happily rolled a full tape on his speech.


Afterwards I had the task of interviewing him solo. It's not really a big deal after seven years of shouldering a lens. Some of you might scoff at relinquishing the mic, but who am I to keep the mic out of the hands of a true MC? He was even cool enough to pose for pictures with most of the adults there, including yours truly.


So that was Wednesday, and I thought I'd had all the excitement for the month. Friday I swapped shifts with one of the night crew so he could leave early for vacation. Even though I sent an e-mail about the change to everyone in the newsroom, I still got a call from the desk at 8 AM to swing down to Gonzalez to shoot a check presentation at 9 AM. Since I wasn't due into the station for another five and a half hours, I wasn't too pleased. My mood got worse when I found that the morning photog was diverted to a structure fire that was 12 hours hold. To make things worse, it was only about 10 minutes from my home; a 25-30 minute drive for him.

Heading North to the station from Gonzalez I was told that I would be picking up a reporter and turning around, traveling back South to New Orleans, where we would interview this guy:


Bob Woodruff is also a class act. I guess getting blown up will do that to a guy. He was speaking to the Acadian Ambulance Paramedic of the Year banquet. He's coming right along with his therapy. I didn't notice any speech impediments, and he said that reporting is the best therapy he can get right now, because it forces him to exercise his brain, allowing him to recover his speech.

The rest of the day was mostly uneventful, except that I had to stay on until 10:30 PM.

I got one more call before the week was over, and I found myself camped out at Metro Airport, waiting for Roscoe to arrive. His name is now Mike VI to millions of LSU fans, but I like Roscoe better, so that's what I'll call him.

Maybe he'll catch those Duke boys one day. Ooooo-jijit!

Monday, September 03, 2007

Media Daze

I know I'm using 'daze' a lot, but I've been in that sort of fog lately. This post is about a month overdue so bear with me.


At the end of July the Southeastern Conference has a three day shindig previewing the coming football season. They call it SEC Media Days, and all the head coaches bring themselves and two players and stroll from room to room under the glare of mini-fills and the cyclopian stares of the cameras surrounding them.


I was attending as the second and third members of Team Deuce, accompanied by Sports Director Punkin'head. His head really isn't that big; in fact it's about average and the same size as mine, but the joke got started a while back, and we still throw it out every now and then. I say second and third because I'm pulling double duty as shooter and sat truck operator. After this trip, not doing it again.

The work really wasn't that hard, about what you'd expect from a typical news day, which is unusual for a sports trip. The average day on one of these begins somewhere around noon and goes to 11 p.m. or midnight. These days began about 8 a.m., which is earlier than my normal day, in which I don't even leave the house before 8:30. I also spent way too much tape getting great cutaways that were never going to be used, but wasn't informed of that until the evening of the second day. Oh well; it doesn't hurt to sharpen the skills.

Day one goes well, SDP gets soaked during his live shot, I'm nice and dry wearing my full rain suit. It pays to travel prepared, especially when the destination is six hours away from home base.

Day two is good, until the 5 p.m. feed window. In the middle of the window my signal disappears. A quick check of my equipment reveals where the problem is, but for some reason, diagnosis eludes me.


Who could possibly need anything more than a red LED indicating FAULT? It's a problem with the HPA, which sends the signal to the satellite, but while it's been returned to the the factory for repair, we still have not gotten a report on what needs to be repaired. We've got a loaner in the meantime.

Friday was our last day in Birmingham, AL, as Media Days came to a close at noon, but our trip was far from over. In fact I had no idea how far, but I soon found out. A harbinger should have been the mishap with the elevator. SDP and I fumble the hand off of my room key, and it falls through the crack between the elevator car and the carpeted second floor hallway, ending it's usefulness with an echoing 'click' as it hits the bottom of the elevator shaft. Good grief, as a certain bald kid would say.


Our next planned stop is Saints Training Camp in Jackson, MS. It's on the way home and right about halfway between B'ham and B'Rouge. We meet up with the crew from KTBS, Shreveport, and Jim Lee, Truck Op Extraordinaire, comes up with a clutch idea for us to use his second path to uplink from our crippled truck, with only one cable running between the two. So simple it should be in the field manual.


This shining moment of genius is overshadowed by equipment failure at the station. A whole 30 minute window elapses and they never saw our shot. We saw it and verified it from Shreveport to New York. Time to pack up and head home.


Uh-oh! What's this? A four hour delay? But of course!


SDP and the new guy, who we were meeting in Jackson hop in the sports unit and head for home and a 10 p.m. show, while I wait for someone to fix my dilemma. This truck has no spare.


Turns out it's a 2-inch bolt and I finally crawl into bed around 2:30 in the morning. On top of all this, my camera narrowly avoided career ending injury, not once, but twice. Man I love sports trips.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Dry Spell

I know it's been a long dry spell for me, but I've been busy. I don't get up early enough to post before going to work, and my evenings are full of family time, so by the time we get Claire to bed, I'm pretty much ready for bed myself. I've got some pictures I'd like to post with my blogs, but the process is so cumbersome that I don't even like thinking about it, which leads to me not posting at all.

I've got plenty of grist for the mill, but just don't feel like grinding it right now.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Summer Daze

It's summer in the South, so that means it's hot. That's not news to anyone living here, but someone thinks it is. Unfortunately I seem to be our shooter of sweltering shots, because I keep getting assigned these stories.

It wouldn't be so bad, but there are only so many ideas I can come up with on my own. Around a month ago, I got this assignment with Chris N., but I already had an idea ready.

Tuesday I was sent out to get video and sound of people in the heat for weather, and Wednesday I got another heat package.

This time Ashley D. was my accomplice, and our story didn't turn out too bad. I kind of rode her idea, and had a good day of shooting. I actually had more great shots than I had story to cover!

Watch Hot Project.

Flying Solo

Friday I was unattached, so I thought I'd take my destiny into my own hands. Turns out it still isn't my own.

A look at the big board of fate Friday morning informed me that I was unattached for the day. Usually that means I'd be rolling on every little fender bender and potential fire. This day I decided to go looking for a photo essay to put together. One of the talk radio hosts was encouraging his listeners to give to an account set up for a man who lost his legs while changing a friend's tire along the interstate. It was too late to make it to the radio station, so I decide to hit one of the bank branches and see what there was to see.

Hearing about the great response they were getting, I was hoping to get telling sound from the tellers describing the effect others affection was having on them. Company policy said otherwise. Luckily I got a mom and daughter who weren't afraid of the camera.

Before the show ended, the district manager from one of the oil change franchises announced that they would be giving five dollars for every car they serviced. This was my second stop. Usually the guys in the pit are some of the best characters you can find, and Eric didn't disappoint.

This is the first nat-pack I've done since coming to the station, which is just over five years. It could use a bit more polish, but I've learned quite a bit for the next time I do one.

My reporter even got me the script with two hours to edit, but a live truck with Erectile Dysfunction 45 minutes away meant that I was going to have to edit it on overtime. Not usually a problem, but a tired wife with with a crying baby lend to stress and tend to speed up the edit.

I'd show it to you, but it didn't make it to the station's website.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Hard Days

It's been a tough couple of day for the home team. Not that the workload has been extraordinarily heavy, but it's a miracle we've been able to deliver.

It seems that those in charge have reverted to expecting the daily miracles from us again. Case in point: yesterday I was paired with KD, for the first time since our False River Fourth of July, on a story about a man arrested for three counts of sexual battery on minors. We heard about it in a press release from the Assumption Parish sheriff.

Usually this wouldn't be a tough one to pull off, but we didn't leave on the assignment until 1:00 pm, and Pierre Part is an hour away. On top of that, we don't have anyone scheduled to interview, so we'll have to knock on doors and hope someone will talk to us on camera. Not as likely to happen since this is a small town where everyone knows everyone else. Add to this recipe a dash of 5PM deadline, and in a couple of hours you could have a disaster.

I don't ask for much, but I would like a proper amount of time to put a story like this together. If we're not going to get an assignment until one, with no calls made, and the drive time is an hour, put us in the six. When KD announced the drive time, all the 5PM producer had to say was "I guess you better get going, you're the lead package." This is why I plan on pushing hard to make sure that all of our producers get to spend one week with a photog, observing what it is we really have to go through to pull this kind of assignment off. Having never left the comfort of their air conditioned cubicle, except to get lunch at the same time every day, they seem to think that a story like this "just happens."

I've read enough to know that our producers aren't the only ones who do this, but it's my blog and I need to vent about it.

Here's the story.

Today sees the two of us riding together, again. Instead of only having an hour to shoot a package, we have to deal with the grandiose vision of what could be. We've been given the story that every station in the country was doing today: Are our bridges safe?

My thoughts and prayers go out to those in Minneapolis who are dealing with injuries to both body and soul tonight. Compared to what they're dealing with my work problems are but a grain of sand.

I knew before coming into work that someone in our station was going to do this story, and I had a pretty good feeling that they would be standing beside my lens while doing so. My question today is, "Why does it take an hour to decide who's doing this story? Also, why hasn't anyone made some calls on this to set up interviews?"

At 10 am we leave the get a VOSOT on BOPSA (bunch of people sitting/standing around). At 10:45 am KD gets a voicemail suggesting that she contact an engineer at LSU. Has this person made a call to set this up? Hasn't even thought about it, but he's got a vision. "What I see is you talking to a professor, and he's got a model of a bridge on his desk where he can point out structural issues..." Um, yeah, sure. I've been to many a prof's office, and all they seem to have on their desks are papers, lots and lots of papers. It becomes a moot point since no one calls us back.

We journey forth to collect images of bridges in the area, while waiting on a call from DOTD. It turns out that the same visionary from above insisted that he be the point of contact between us and them. Not a bad plan, except for the part where he's "out of pocket" for 90 minutes at the doctor's office, and not answering his cell phone.

In the end, another grand vision, worthy of an evening's lineup of newscasts, finds its true destiny through my edit decks.

Watch it here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lenslinger Alert!

I'd love to be able to do this story, but since I'm nowhere near Greensboro, I guess I'll give it to the 'Slinger to pitch.

UNC Greensboro's ECON 201 is actually a video game that counts for 3 credit hours.

Gamepolitics has the story.

You can thank me for the Emmy later.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Father's Day

It's my first Father's Day, but it's nothing like I imagined.

On May 19, 2007, I became the proud papa of Chloe Anne and Claire Michelle Sellers.

Having these two beautiful children enter our lives is a blessing and a joy I didn't know was possible. Finally being able to hold them brought the stupidest grin to my face, but I couldn't help it. These are my girls, and I'd do anything for them. Most of you have already read my musings on the subject of parenthood, so I'll not go into that again. How could two little babies enter the world and be so perfect?

The work began the first night. Erica was confined to the bed after the C-section, and the medicines she was on kept her out of commission for the first couple days. This meant that I was the one not getting any sleep, because the slightest sound from any of them had me instantly awake and ready to tend to their needs.

A couple of days later we brought them home, and the next couple of weeks passed rather uneventfully. Diapers were changed, bottles were filled, emptied, washed, and filled again. It was a hectic schedule, but my mother-in-law stayed with us, so I got to avoid most of that, because I was going to work. We looked ahead to the future, anticipating the day when they would begin smiling at us and laughing, crawling and rolling around on the floor with us, and all of the things that parents take joy in seeing their children do.

Our lives had changed forever, and the worry of the past 36 weeks was behind us. Our girls were healthy and more beautiful than I could believe. They were about to change again.

June 8, 2007 is one day I will never forget. I had called in sick, because my eyelid was bulging with a still growing stye, and I wasn't feeling too well, either. I figured a day at home with some rest and warm compresses would clear things up by Monday, and I'd be headed back to work. My wife and her mother were worrying about Chloe, because they couldn't wake her up for her six a.m. feeding, and she's not one to miss those. When they began to get her ready to go to the pediatrician, I knew that I had to go. She was pale and breathing shallowly, not moving much. We rushed to the office to get the diagnosis.

Our doctor checked her over and told us that we needed to get her to the PICU quickly. She called an ambulance for transport, in case something happened on the way. While waiting for the EMTs, I was trying to comfort Chloe. She grasped my forefinger in her tiny hand, rested her cheek against the back of my hand and looked me right in the eyes. I told her that she'd be better soon, and not to be scared.

That was pretty much the last time she looked directly at me. I wish I could say the next four days are a blur, but I can remember them quite clearly. Chloe was immediately given IV antibiotics and put on a ventilator. She could breathe on her own, but this let her rest and fight the infection. That infection turned out to be bacterial meningitis, caused by Group B Strep. By Sunday she was looking better, and though she had suffered some seizures, the outlook was ok. Her body seemed to be getting healthier, but full neurological diagnosis would have to wait.

Monday was a bad day in which Chloe got worse before our eyes. That evening we got the talk that nearly caused me to pass out. The swelling had gotten worse, and so had the EEGs measuring her brain activity. That night we called our priest and he came to the hospital and baptised both girls. Claire was already in the hospital receiving the same antibiotics, but only as a precaution, since her tests were negative for the germ.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007 is the day we let our baby go. I read to her for the first and last time that morning. That afternoon, we all got to hold her and tell her goodbye, one by one. Finally Erica and I held her as the IVs and ventilator were disconnected, and she drifted peacefully out of our arms and into God's loving embrace.

Claire is fine. She's healthy and home with us, which helps ease the pain, but even she seems to miss her sister. Suddenly I find myself revising the dreams I had, and instead of two beautiful smiling faces playing in the yard, kissing me goodnight, and graduating together, I only see one. We have vowed that Claire will have a normal life, and that we won't let Chloe's loss cripple us. The prayers that have been given up for us have given us strength to face this, and we wholeheartedly thank each and every one of you for those.

So here I sit, on Father's Day, and contemplate what's next. Tomorrow I will go back to work. In my profile I say that I'm trying to grow up as slowly as possible. It was forced on me this past week. Thank all of you for thinking about us. We'll be ok, eventually.

Chloe and Claire

Chloe and Claire
Originally uploaded by lothoreo
Well, here they are. This is the picture I wanted to get up in the earlier post.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Happy Trails

Goodbye and good luck, Kenny P.

Last Friday was Ken Pastorick's last day at the Deuce. It is with some small amount of sadness that I salute you, sir, for all the laughs, tense moments, high blood pressure, and tight deadlines you have given me.

Ken is one of the most loyal people I know. His television career started here as an intern, and he came full circle, 20 years later. In the time that I have known him, he bled whatever colors the mic flag bore, be it purple and gold, silver and blue, or blue, black gold and purple. You'd be hard pressed to find an employee who backed his station with such fierce determination.

He's also an excellent reporter, who sinks his teeth into a story like a rabid pit bull, and then shakes it back and forth until it finally succumbs to his quill.

We shared some great times, sleeping in news units, staring down Category 5 hurricanes, or playing kick the seagull. It was dead, so no PETA threats, please. Of course Ken just missed it with Mobile 16 before I planted it squarely in the grill of Mobile 30.

I find it only fitting that he spent his last day assigned with me, heading to Port Sulphur, to seek out a former Deucer on which to do a story. That person is Russell Drewry, who had come back to Louisiana on a mission trip.

We had a good time catching up, and putting together a great story, and Russell even carried my tripod! As my gift to Kenny, as he moved on to his Gub-mint job as a PIO, I sent him out with a bang. You could even say we nailed this story. Have I hammered the point home enough?

Port Sulphur Pilgrimage

They're Heeeeere!

Announcing the newest branches of the family tree, Chloe and Claire!

These two healthy girls were born at 2:28 p.m. and 2:29 p.m., weighing in at 5 lbs., 15 oz. and 5 lbs, 10 oz., and measuring 19 in. and 18 in., respectively.

Wish us luck with these two handfuls, as they are our first children.
I was gonna link a couple of photos, but apparently you can't do that from Snapfish. Guess I'll have to try another site.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Getting Close

This could be a big weekend for our family.

Tonight the wife and I are staying at the Hotel Baton Rouge General. She's being kept overnight for observation, with a possible C-section tomorrow at noon. Everything is ok, so far, with the exception of a slightly high blood pressure, which is was spurred the visit.

Updates to follow when possible.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Gaming Parents

With my twins almost here, I find myself thinking of what kind of parent I'll be to them.

I've been told I'll make a great parent, probably because I haven't given up that last fingerhold on my childhood. I keep wondering what I'll do to make sure they know they're loved and cared for, and hope that they'll turn out to be well-adjusted, productive members of society.

One of my plans is to get them into video games as early as possible. Not only does it give me an excuse to keep playing, but it gives me an excellent opportunity to share a part of their lives with them.

This article gives me hope that I can do just that, and start an open and honest line of communication with them.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Water, Water...

What could the cost of a few drops of rain be to a city like Baton Rouge?

For my second sweeps offering, I present a two part series on rain.

What's the Cost?

What Can We Do?

An interesting note: I couldn't help but think of the Ol 'Polisher when we were shooting at the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Surprisingly, it smelled much better than New Orleans on Mardi Gras.

More Awards

I'd like to give thanks to the Ol 'Polisher for the shout out on our accolades, and to return the favor. Not many people get to be on both teams during the big game.

It is nice to know that someone recognizes the hard work, even if it's only second place. Don't get me wrong; something is better than nothing, but who could respect me for being content with anything less than first.

For the backstory on what it took to place, check out this crumb that may have fallen through the cracks.

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Address: Atchafalya

Sweeps has begun! My first offering to the ratings gods aired Sunday night. I shot it, but JP edited it. I think it came out really well.

Watch it here.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Joor Road

Kenny: "What do you think?"
Me: "It's a story about a road."

Such was the deeply intellectual conversation in which we engaged after I read the script. For the record it was a pretty good day, and Kenny had some good ideas.

Check it out.

Oh, and here's a link to the piece about LSU's Bowl Prospects. The standup is one of my better sequences.

Bowl Hopes.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


"Doing anything special for your birthday?"
"Define 'special'."

My birthday was last week, so here's a quick rundown of how I spent it:

12:00 - 4:30 AM Sleeping, more or less.

4:30 - 5:00 AM Wake up, stumble into clothes, brush teeth, etc.

5:00 AM Fire up Mobile 30 and pull out of driveway.

5:10 - 10:10 AM I-12, I-10, I-49, LA Hwy. 167, LA Hwy. 80

10:12 AM Pull into parking lot at Grambling State University

10:20 AM Find Media Room - No food remaining.

10:25 - 10:55 AM Hang out with other Sat. Op.

11:00 AM Return to truck, find Galaxy 11, pull cable and set up tripod, camera, microphone, IFB, and reflector.

11:50 AM Uplink is hot.

12:05 PM Power down.

12:20 PM Cookin' again.

12:35 PM "Clear"

12:40 - 3:50 PM Hang out in truck, watch sat feed of funeral, or whatever else is on the bird.

3:50 - 4:05 PM Live again.

4:25 - 4:40 PM Move truck 1oo yds. and reset.

4:50-4:57 PM Wait on 'the bridge' while one person juggles access for three sats and 30 truck ops before finally accessing the bird.

5:05 PM Standby mode activated.

5:25 PM Call access about previous cluster, have pleasant conversation.

5:45 PM "Press 1 for Galaxy 11." beep "Please enter your 2-digit trans-" beep, beep..beep

6:10 PM HPA to OFF, strike equipment and cables.

6:30 PM Dish is Down, so is the 'hammer.'

10:00 PM Get in line at Wendy's in Lafayette.

10:30 PM Get food and return to truck.

11:40 PM Park Mobile 30 at station.

11:45 PM Eat burger.

12:15 AM Get home.

12:30 AM System log ends.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Goodbye, Coach Rob

This week I paid my respects to Coach Eddie Robinson in the true photog tradition, by covering his memorial service. Monday found me visiting the State Capitol as Coach Rob made his trip to lie in state.

It was one of the most powerful moments I have ever witnessed. Many of his former players were there for the ceremony, and they handed a football from one to another along a line that streched from the doors of the Senate chamber, to the seal in the center of the rotunda, and back, before handing it to his widow, who placed it in the casket with him. Then the band, set up at the other end of the rotunda, near the House Chamber, began to play the Grambling State University alma mater, and nearly everyone in the room began to sing. The players and coaches held one hand aloft, with their index finger extended. Truly a shooter's dream; rich, powerful visuals accomanied by great sound. As the alma mater wound down, the band transitioned smoothly into the GSU fight song, sung with such love, devotion, and energy that a person couldn't help getting swept along in the tide of emotion flooding through the room. I'm getting choked up, even now.

I don't know a lot about Coach Rob. I truly regret that I didn't get to meet him, because I know it would have been one of those moments of being in the presence of true greatness. A humble man whose goal was to lead every young man in his care to be someone he could allow to marry his daughter, and to realize they could take charge of their lives and become whatever they wanted. Some became professional football players, but many became doctors, lawyers, and professionals in many fields other than the gridiron on which they played.

That's one of the great benefits of this job. I may not have ever met the man in life, but I have come to know him through the lives that he has changed. Thank you, Coach Rob.

Breaking Ground

Any shooter will tell you that ribbon cuttings and ground breakings are the bane of their existence. If more of them were like the one last week, we'd all be clamoring for them.

The groundbreaking was a ceremonial affair for work being done on LA Hwy. 1. This road is the true Energy Corridor for the country, through which nearly 18 percent of the country's oil flows, not to mention more than a few tons of fresh gulf shrimp. I was working a nightside schedule, because I was doing uplinks for the early evening shows. I got there with a comfortable amount of time to set up the truck and enjoy the view.

Fourchon (pronounced FOO-shawn) is nearly identical to Cameron. The buzz of whirling helicopter blades never fades from hearing for long as they carry workers and supplies over the marshes and out to the petroleum platforms in the Gulf of Mexico. This was my first time on this part of the coast, and I enjoyed the smell of the sea breeze and the cry of the gulls, especially since I didn't have to pay attention to the drone of the politicos under the tent.

After a couple hours of speeches the time finally came to put shovel to freshly poured dirt, accompanied by the requisite applause and punctuated by the clicks and pops of shutters and flashes, while the silent lenses of the video cameras fed images to hungry CCDs. But the feeding didn't stop there. The band in the corner of the tent struck up and the boiled crawfish and shrimp began to flow. I managed to polish off a couple pounds of mudbugs between satellite windows, and even brought home a pound of peeled tail meat. Unfortunately I could have any of the free beer to wash down this sumptuous smorgasbord, because I was still on the clock, in company logowear, and had a three hour drive back to Baton Rouge in a van worth more than 100 grand.

I settled for a Coke and a smile.

Hurricane Fever

We're about two months away from the start of hurricane season, which means we'll be doing stories about it until the first storm makes landfall. Last week, Kenny P and I made an afternoon journey to Morgan City to localize the Hurricane Conference Forcast. With a heavily compressed shooting schedule, I think it came out alright.

Oh, if you're ever down by the floodwall, don't trust your compass. When I finally found the satellite to feed the story back, I was pointing due West, according to my compass. For the record, Galaxy 11 is almost due South. Next time I'll trust my instincts.

Here's the story.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


Though I had little to do with the story, I'm probably gonna be in the promo.

"Didn't you shoot part of the homecoming queen story for Andy?" was the question coming from the other end of the phone. "Yeah, but just the homecoming game and her getting crowned," was my reply. "Why?"

"It won a Murrow."

I said it then, and I'll say it now-the only part I played in this piece was shooting the above mentioned event. I didn't shoot the interviews or the rest of the package, I didn't even edit the story, but I did supply advice on the closing sequence. Since the person responsible for the story has moved on, I guess they needed someone to accept the award, which I will do with all humility.

Congrats to Andy Pepper, though, on his second Murrow in as many years.

Watch the story.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

There and Back Again

Please, Tolkien, don't sue for that headline. I have heard clamoring for a new post, and since it's been two months, I'm waaaay overdue.

A couple of weeks ago I made a trip to the Lone Star State. It was a sports trip to cover the LSU Lady Tiger basketball team, but an easy trip wouldn't make the blog, of course.

Since this was an out of town trip, we were going in Mobile 30, the Deuce's satellite uplink truck. I like Mobile 30, but she had just spent a week in the shop for a major oil leak. We got her back the night before we were to leave, so there was no time for a shakedown. This would prove unfortunate.

I had hoped to leave early enough to avoid rush hour traffic in Houston, so I showed up at the station at 11 am, hoping to leave no later than noon. BD had to shoot Syl and the girls leaving, so we didn't leave until 1:30. That's when I realized that the air conditioner wasn't working. A nine hour trip, and we didn't have A/C, but the weather was cool, so it wouldn't be that bad. "If this is the only problem we have this trip, then I'll take it," I said to BD. Almost prophetic, don't you think? Read on.

We got to Houston at 6 pm...awesome. Forty-five minutes later we were on Hwy. 290 and the last third of our drive, which was rather uneventful. The Doubletree was a great hotel; we were a dozen paces from the fitness room, and a score from the pool. It was also sandwiched between a Pappacito's and a Pappadeaux's restaurants. We were definately eating well on this trip. While it wasn't across the street from the venue, it was only 10 minutes away on I-35, which ran right in front of the hotel.

Friday was our first day in the city, and we discovered that we were just in time for the SXSW (South by Southwest) music festival. I haven't seen that many vehicles hauling trailers since Katrina. Everywhere we walked we saw bands unloading, heard them playing, or saw them packing up. Great if we were looking for bands, but instead we were looking for LSU fans. We didn't find any, so we headed to the Erwin Center. Around 4 pm the press conferences were about to begin, so I headed out to the truck to get it set up for our 6 pm sat shot. I fired up the generator, but as my questing finger reached the first switch, it died, never to run for the duration of the trip.

I knew I had a shore power cable in the back, so I wasn't too worried, I just needed to find an outlet, which was nearby, but no electrons were flowing. The question I got from keepers of the power was "Did you order power?" Hmmm, we have our own generator, so...not really. Finally somone showed up about 5:45 pm. The first window opened at 5:50. We didn't make that one.

Why? When I powered up the racks, they tripped the breaker. I was now participating in The Ken Mattingly Experience. It was just like Apollo 13, except no lives were on the line. Once I got my power-up sequence figured out, I thought I was good to go. But why wasn't the HPA powered up? It's because I only had one circuit powered. I thought the A/C was the only thing on the other circuit, but the HPA is on that one as well. Luckily I was able to borrow one from one of the other trucks there, and got the 6:15 shot up in time.

The rest of the trip was, thankfully, rather uneventful. I saw 'Tim and Eric' who have a show on Cartoon Network, but didn't want to interrupt their meal. The day after we got back, the generator tech showed up to work on it. He got it to start on the first try.

It later died and a faulty fuel pump was found to be the problem. So I wasn't crazy after all.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Scorched Feelings

Scorchy Tawes is a legend. I wish I would have known him.

In watching WBOC's tribute to a man who could find the brilliance in the everyday, I discovered something. I've been trying to pin down a feeling I've been having since the storms, and Scorchy's story finally nailed it. One of his long-time co-workers theorized that his time spent abroad during WWII made him the consummate storyteller that everyone knew, because when he came back to his hometown he was a different person than when he left. One of the people, but with the eyes of an outsider.

That's the feeling I get when I return to Cameron. It's where I grew up, but I couldn't really appreciate it until I left. Being away allowed me to return with a wider vision. I could see more of the beauty of a Cameron Parish sunset, setting fire to the marsh, as the sun touched the western horizon. The peaceful shushing of the waves on the beach, mingled with the drone of boat engines, straining against the current and the drag of heavy nets, filling with gulf shrimp. Most importantly I can better understand what it means to be a resident of Cameron Parish, a people who represent everything that makes the United States of America great.

Some of them have been knocked down twice in their lives, but they just pick up the pieces, put their lives back together, and continue. Most enjoy the simple pleasures of life: family, food, football, and friendship. Hunting and fishing come as naturally as breathing, and I can't think of anywhere in the country where a person can live for one year and not have to drive more that an hour to enjoy fresh- and saltwater fishing, duck and goose hunting, deer, rabbit, squirrel, and alligator hunting, along with the best chance to see rare migratory birds and all of the above mentioned fauna in a huge exhibit.

Even though Scorchy lived his life on the upper east side of the nation, I think he would have enjoyed a visit to this little corner of the world. I know I do.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

Still Going

I'm still here, and still going. I've taken a long absence because I've been fairly busy with work, home and other things, and just plain tired.

How 'Bout Dem Saints! I can't believe they are going to the NFC Championship. I'm trying not to get my hopes up, but they keep throwing fuel on the fire. What's a poor guy to do? Should I finally jump in with both feet? I wonder if a trip to Miami is in my future. It's really unfortunate that the NFL decided to ban local video cameras from the sidelines this year. I was going to offer my services to the sports dept. for the year. What a year it would have been.

Otherwise, I haven't had anything that's struck the blogging side of me for a while, and I've only been firing up the computer once a week or less.

If anyone's still reading, thanks for coming, and I'll try to be more regular in my posting this year. I'm sure I'll have a lot to post about in the next six months.