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.