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.