Sunday, December 30, 2007

Put Me Out of My Misery!

I refrained from writing about the Detroit Lions this season, wanting to see just where the 2007 campaign would take them. Quarterback Jon Kitna predicted 10 wins. Many laughed. I sais, "I believe it when I see it." much to my surprise, the Lions jumped out to a 6-2 start making Kitna's prediction reachable. HA!!!

I just finished wathing the season finale against Green Bay. The Lions finale because the Packers are moving on to the playoffs. Detroit is once again on the outside looking in at the post season. After the 6-2 start, Detroit went 1-7 to finish the year a dissapointing 7-9.

All I can say is, WE SUCK!!!!!!!!

Oh, Good Evening!

Sent from wireless

Friday, November 02, 2007

Long Lost Friend

I've never been the best at keeping in touch with people, especially long distance friends. I'm not much of a phone person, though a few people can make me give AT&T's lines a good workout from time to time. Most of those folks are in my family or among my closest of friends.

The art of writing personal letters is not something I ever seriously pursued. The art of writing an email, not that's me! I acknowledge that it's not always the best way to express things, but it sure is convenient! Just sit down, type your thoughts and hit "send." Gotta love it. Regardless the mode, you must have either a phone number, address, or email address for the person with whom you wish to communicate.

Early this week, I received a text message on my cell phone from a friend I hadn't seen or talked to in probably 10 years. All I could say is, "WOW!" because I was so shocked. Then, I picked up the cell and called him.

Marcus and I met when I lived in Jackson, Mississippi. I won't go into to all the details, but suffice it to say we became close friends and stayed such until I moved to Columbia. He's a great guy with a super smile, wonderful sense of humor, and a personality that exudes unadulterated fun and super sensitivity all at the same time.

When I moved to Columbia in 1996, Marcus and I lost touch. We were reunited in 1997 when I returned to Jackson one weekend for a party my friend Karl was hosting. Marcus was there and we enjoyed reconnecting. Then, once again, we lost touch. I don't know what happened. For the next 10 years, I would periodically think about him and wonder if he was still in Jackson or living someplace else. I'd wonder if he had found romance and settled down with someone, if he'd found his dream job, I just wondered if he was doing well. I now have the answers to all of those questions.

Marcus ran into Karl last weekend in Atlanta. Karl, knowing how much I've always wondered how Marcus was doing, passed along my number. Isn't Karl just the best? Marcus is doing quite well, living in suburban Atlanta, holding down a nice job which has him traveling the country training employees for a children's dental office chain. We've spoken to or text messaged each other everyday this week, trying to catch up on the 10 years lost.

Sometimes, you just don't truly appreciate a person until they disappear from your life. I certainly learned that a year ago when Bruce departed this earth. I learned it earlier when Rudy and I stopped talking for several years. And, I've learned it with Marcus. Some friends come and go in your life and it's no great loss. Others come and go and leave a tremendous void. If you can find them again and you learn they also had a void, you've got a truly lasting friendship that you should value like family.

Marcus, it's great to have you back in my life. Your return has put smiles on my face at a time when it's been difficult to muster them. THANKS! Now, don't even think about disappearing again!

Oh, Good Evening!

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Lengthy Hiatus

It's been a couple of months since my last posting. For those of you who have been checking back frequently hoping to find my latest musings, thanks for your patience. You probably noticed that I haven't written as regularly lately. It's been a difficult year for me emotionally. I haven't really been the same since the death of my best friend, Bruce Weathersby, last November.

The first anniversary of his passing is this Saturday. Bruce departed his earthly life on November 3, 2006. As the date has approached, I've found myself slipping in and out of the doldrums. The most difficult moment, so far, coming as I walked through the Atlanta airport between flights a couple of weeks ago when it hit me that I had travelled to see Bruce-- for what would be the last time-- a year earlier that weekend. A wave of emotion came over me and I nearly collapsed in tears right in the middle of Concourse C.

Now, I must face this coming weekend and the painful memory of receiving a phone call from another of my brothers, Rudy Williams, to inform me that Bruce was gone. I have talked with Rudy on a regular basis over the last year, mostly because he's such a good friend that he calls to check on me periodically. That's not to say that other friends haven't done the same. Karl, Gilbert, Kerry, Vanessa, Tre', Kat, Debora, Karen, Pam, Angee, Condace, Meta and others have all been WONDERFUL with their friendship, love, and support. But Rudy took on the burden of making that phone call last November 3 knowing that he was about to break my heart as his had been broken a few minutes earlier.

There are those who will read this and wonder why I haven't reached out to them more-- for support or to give it. I hope they understand that this grieving process has been one of the most difficult ever for me. You're never ready to accept a loved one's death. I've lost three grandparents, an aunt, a great-grandparent, and a great-aunt in my lifetime. I was close with each of them. When God called them home, it was hard to accept, but I knew they had each lived long, productive lives-- some, 80-90 years-- and it was their time. Bruce was barely six months past his 40th birthday. I just couldn't understand why he had to leave so soon. I know much more today than I did 12-months ago but dealing with the new knowledge hasn't made accepting and coping any easier.

Anyway, let me end this by saying that I'm back and plan to post much more regularly again. After all, this blog-- while not originally created as such-- is a tribute to my dear friend and brother, Bruce. For, as I wrote in the very first posting, I stole the catchy phrase that is this blog's title from him.

Oh, Good Evening!

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Public Dancer

I encountered a most interesting person on the Las Vegas Monorail early this morning. A young woman gets on the train at the Flamingo/Caesars Palace stop and immediately grabs the center pole, swings herself around and says, "hey, pole dancing!" I looked at the young woman and smiled while every muscle in my body resisted the nearly overwhelming urge to burst out in laughter. I discreetly looked at my dear friend and sister Angela, who returned a polite smile.

As the train started moving again, the young woman proceeds to apologize for her actions and I say, "no need to apologize, this is Vegas!" We all laugh and the woman tells us she wouldn't be doing this if her son was with her. She says she has a four year old boy and that before he was born, she would visit Las Vegas two or three times a year. But, this was only her second visit since the boy's birth. I resisted the urge to say, "so, you're making up for lost time," because the young man she was with was trying to get her to sit down. I don't think she even heard him because she started pole dancing again.

After a few more spins, she tells us that before her son's arrival, this-- pole dancing at a strip club-- was her life. To which Angela says, "yes, you appear more than a bit familiar with it."

Once again, my muscles got a workout as I struggled not to laugh. Luckily, our stop came up moments later. As we exited the train and stepped onto the escalator going down, I nearly collapsed from laughter as the train pulled off. The woman, once again shaking her tail feather around that pole.

Through my hysterical, stomach tightening laughter, I thought about Chris Rock's HBO comedy special remarks on the subject of women, dancing, and poles and said to myself, "clearly this woman's father failed."

Oh, Good Evening!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

When Love Is Calling Your Name

Fellow Detroit native Kem Owens headlined a reception opening the 32nd Annual National Association of Black Journalists Convention and Career Fair at Bally's Resort and Casino on the Las Vegas Strip Wednesday evening. Kem has released two CD's on the Motown label, both of which I own and enjoy listening to periodically. When his first CD, entitled "Kemistry," was released, my sister, Kathy, told me she knew Kem. I really didn't know whether to believe her. Granted, she had no reason to lie about that, but for some reason, I just didn't fully believe her.

Following Wednesday's performance, which was very good, I attended a reception in the President's Suite in honor of Kem and Ledisi, a terrific young female singer who opened the convention event. When the opportunity came for me to introduce myself to Kem, I told him who I was followed by a quick mention that my sister always said she knew him. He asked my sister's name and before I could tell him, he told me. So much for not fully believing Kathy.

"Man, I didn't just know your sister, I was in love with your sister. But, she wouldn't give me the time of day." Then, Kem looked at me and said, "I'll bet I could call her now."

Oh, Good Evening!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Gone Fishin'

Once again, the Detroit Pistons are starting their off-season sooner than preferred. For the second straight year, the team that spent the regular season building the best record in the National Basketball Association's Eastern Conference has been bounced from the conference finals by the #2 seed. Last year it was Miami. This year it's Cleveland. In both years, the ouster comes in Game 6 after Detroit gave up home court advantage in Game 5.

First, let me say congratulations to the Cavaliers and their fans. LeBron James and crew are young, energetic, scrappy, and smart. They outplayed Detroit in all six games and effectively should have ended it in four games. While they missed out on the front-end sweep, they did get the back-end sweep by winning four straight games after dropping the first two. And, that Game 5 performance from James was nothing short of phenomenal. Very Jordanesque.

Now, back to the Pistons, who looked old, lethargic, panicky, and mentally drained throughout the series. At times, I would describe their play as just plain dumb. I'm not going to break down the entire series, game-by-game. Too depressing. But, I will breakdown what I think needs to change as Joe Dumars and his management team work to keep Detroit as a contender next year.

1. Chauncey Billups: He's a free agent. Do we re-sign him or move in a different direction? This is tough because we don't have another point-guard who can take on the starter role and truly shine. Flip Murray has proven to be good off the bench and did a good job of filling in for Billups through an injury spell. But I'm not sure he's a starter. Billups was disappointing in the Cleveland series. He hit a nasty scoring slump, started missing more free throws than usual, and committed uncharacteristic turnovers at very inopportune times. Which, during the nip and tuck series, was whenever the turnover occurred. Billups also didn't seem to be too phased by his poor play or that of his teammates, which troubles me. All that said, I think Detroit should sign him and keep the Billups-Hamilton back court tandem in tact. It's still among the best in the league.

2. Rasheed Wallace: He really needs to get his emotions in check on the court. I appreciate his intensity, but I don't appreciate the way he's always losing control to the point of picking up technical fouls in numbers that get him ejected from games or eventually suspended from games. Grow up, Rasheed. Word is Wallace doesn't respect head coach Flip Saunders and the two really don't coexist very well. That could spell curtains for Flip. (More on him later.)

3. Chris Webber: He joined his hometown team mid-season in hopes of winning a ring. It didn't happen. Webber proved to be a good addition to the team, but his age is a big factor in his long-term effectiveness. I don't think he returns. If he does, it will not be as a starter.

4. Man In The Middle: Detroit MUST find an imposing big man who can defend like Ben Wallace and score like Tim Duncan or Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Whether through the draft or free agency, this is an absolute need.

5. Head Coach: Detroit has had three coaches in six years, changing every other season. If the trend continues, Flip Saunders coached his final Pistons game last night and if that is the case, it won't phase me. Saunders was brought in because the players felt offensively stifled by the defensively focused Larry Brown. The Pistons may need to find a fresh face to place at the head of the bench. Someone similar to Cleveland's Mike Brown or Toronto's Sam Mitchell. We'll see what happens. I do hope Joe Dumars doesn't make another coaching change based on what the players want. Though, I do think Rasheed is more valuable to the team than Flip, so if one has to go, I say start searching for a new coach.

6. Joe Dumars: I love Joe D. He has been the true heart and soul of the Detroit Pistons since Isiah Thomas left. But I hope he's kicking himself in the butt over his draft choice in 2003. We passed on the likes of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade-- all superstars-- for Darko Milicic, who rode the bench his entire stay in Detroit and was traded away for next to nothing after last season.

I'm done with basketball until next season. I wish Cleveland well in The Finals but I'll be pulling for San Antonio. I've always had a problem cheering for the team that puts mine out.

Oh, Good Evening!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Playoffs Are Here!

After winning the 2004 NBA Championship, the Detroit Pistons were poised to repeat the feat in 2005. They fell one game short, losing a tough seven-game title series to the San Antonio Spurs. Chauncey Billups, Richard Hamilton, Tayshaun Prince, Rasheed Wallace, and Ben Wallace went through the off-season wondering what could have been. They came back in 2006 and played like men possessed, compiling the best regular season record in the league. They were red hot for most of that season and almost everyone had them penciled in as the 2006 NBA Champs. Well, that title went to the Miami Heat who dethroned the Pistons as Eastern Conference Champions.

Now, the 2007 playoffs are here. Once again, the Pistons have something to prove. The team felt it should have repeated in '05, and should have rebounded in '06. What result will the '07 run produce? That's entirely up to the players.

The circumstances are a bit different. Ben Wallace defected to the conference rival Chicago Bulls after last season. Chris Webber now occupies Wallace's spot in the lineup. Also, while the Pistons compiled the best regular season record in the Eastern Conference, securing home court advantage throughout the playoffs, they did not finish with the best record in the league. That would be the Dallas Mavericks. If Detroit is to win its second NBA crown in four seasons and fourth overall, the players MUST show up each night ready to play, at full throttle, for 48 minutes, no exceptions. They cannot afford to take any team for granted, beginning with the eighth seeded Orlando Magic. The Magic enter the playoffs with the worst record of any 2007 playoff team, but that means nothing. If the Pistons really want this title, the quest begins with a beat down of the Magic.

As I watched Saturday's Game One, I saw signs the Piston players know and understand what has to be done. Then, late in the game, I saw signs of Detroit's dreaded "let ups," making inopportune mistakes and allowing Orlando to cut a 14-point lead down to three points in the final minutes, before going on to an eight-point victory.

I know, a win is a win. But Orlando is the worst team in the playoffs. So, if the best team in the conference can't beat down the worst team and keep them down, what will happen as the opposition gets tougher? I don't expect a sweep, but Detroit needs to win this opening series 4-1. Otherwise, I sense danger ahead.

Oh, Good Evening!

Playing Catch Up

It's been rough on a brother over the last several weeks. Lately, I haven't had the time or energy to frequently update this blog. Work has been kicking my... Oops, I almost forgot, this is a family friendly blog. (Oh, Good Evening!) Anyway, I'm playing catch up with this posting.

First, let me tackle the recent flap involving Don Imus. The radio shock jock got himself in serious hot water by calling the Rutgers University Women's Basketball Team "nappy headed ho's" on his radio program, also simulcasted on television, the morning following their loss to the University of Tennessee in the NCAA championship game. He apparently thought nobody would notice. Well, people did. And they let him know, in no uncertain terms, that what he said on the airwaves was totally unacceptable. The National Association of Black Journalists immediately called for Imus' dismissal from CBS and MSNBC.

A day later, Imus issued an apology which was followed by actions that indicated the apology was not sincere. MSNBC announced it would no longer simulcast "Imus In The Morning," removing his television presence. A day after that, CBS announced it was pulling the plug on the radio show, altogether.

Imus met personally with the Rutgers team and offered a personal apology, which the team accepted. But as their coach, C. Vivian Stringer told reporters, forgiveness will take time.

Don Imus' comments were first seen as racially insensitive, and they were considering the Rutgers team has a African-American head coach and the majority of the young women playing on the team are African-American. But on a deeper level, his comments were just as much sexist as they were racist.

He pretty much got what he deserved in terms of losing his show. While the decisions of MSNBC and CBS were likely driven as much by economics as they were outrage, it is important to understand that while freedom of speech is a foundation of this great nation, there are limits to the platforms from which one may speak, particularly when the speech is offensive and the platform is public.

Oh, Good Evening!

Next, let me say something about the horrible tragedy that took place at Virginia Tech University last Monday. I was standing in a restaurant waiting for a carry-out order when I saw a news report about the shooting on campus. At the time, they were reporting at least 20 people killed. I gasped, then said a silent prayer for the victims and the school's community. By the time I got to work, the number of dead had grown to more than 30.

We'll probably never know why Cho Sueng Hui went on his violent and deadly rampage, killing 32 people-- faculty and fellow students-- then killing himself. But, it does appear that he wanted the world to know since he sent a disturbing package of writings, photographs, and video messages to NBC News in the hours between his two shooting episodes.

May the victims of the Virginia Tech Massacre rest in peace. May the family of Cho Sueng Hui find peace as they live on in the shadow of his heinous deed. And, while I'm sure it's very easy for some to wish that Cho Sueng Hui, himself, rot in Hell, I have faith that there is redemption for everyone who seeks it. I pray that Cho is seeking redemption in whatever after world he now exists. It's clear he didn't feel at peace in this world. It's a shame he could not resolve his issues before destroying so many lives.

Oh, Good Evening!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Best CSI Franchise

I thought the original CSI: Crime Scene Investigation was good. The show grabbed my attention because it's set in Las Vegas and I loved the way the producers took you through the murder investigation process. Then came the first spinoff-- CSI: Miami. I can't even tell you what night the original airs, now. CSI: Miami is as hott as South Beach. David Caruso is da bomb! The entire cast is da bomb! And, they all drive HUMMERS to boot!

Oh, Good Evening!

Saturday, March 10, 2007

An Unexpected Honor

Two weeks ago, I got an email from the Vice President of Print of the National Association of Black Journalists asking if I would be attending the Region III Conference in Montgomery, Alabama March 8-10. Normally, my response would have been, "of course I'll be there." I attended my first regional in 1994 and have only missed the '95 meeting since then. Unfortunately, I had to inform Ernie Suggs that I would not be able to attend this year's event due to the relaunching of WACH FOX News at Ten, the newscast of which I serve as anchor and managing editor.

Thinking that Vice President Suggs was looking for some assistance with the conference, I asked if there was something I could do from afar. His response floored me. He informed me that I was a finalist for induction into the Region III Hall of Fame for my service to the former Region IV. (Region IV became Region III in 2006 after NABJ reorganized.) I later learned that I had, in fact, been selected for induction on Saturday, March 10th. The news truly stunned me. Something my friends and colleagues don't understand.

I became a broadcast journalist while in high school when I began participating in the Teen Profile program in Detroit, Michigan. The nation's first black-owned television produced the program which was created and administered by Dr. Mary Wilks, a co-worker and friend of my father's in the Detroit Public School system. David Berg, one of my former middle school teachers, introduced me to the program during my sophomore year in high school. From there, I went to the U. S. Naval Academy where I got involved with the Brigade Line program as an extra-curricular activity. Brigade Line was produced bi-weekly as a 7-minute news magazine televised on the Academy's closed circuit channel. When I transferred to Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, I created and produced a cable program called Campus Perspectives. The success of that program, coupled with my internship at WBRZ-TV, prompted that station's then-news director, John Spain, to give me my first job as a weekend producer and assignment editor in 1987. I was still in school at the time. Since then, I also have worked in Las Vegas, Nevada (KVBC-TV) as a sports anchor and reporter; in Jackson, Mississippi (Love Communications and WAPT-TV) as a news anchor and reporter; and in Columbia, South Carolina (WACH-TV) as a news anchor and managing editor.

I love the Southeast! Fifteen of my nearly 20 years as a professional broadcast journalist have been spent in this region of the country. Though every stop along the way has been special in my career, it's my time in Mississippi and South Carolina that hold special prominence in my heart, particularly the South Carolina years because of the opportunity I had to serve in the National Association of Black Journalists' leadership.

Since 1997, I have had the honor and pleasure of serving three years as a regional deputy director, two years as a regional director, two years as chairman of the national council of presidents, and two years as national vice president of broadcast. Also, I twice had the honor of running for national president, though the campaigns were unsuccessful. While each of those positions provided me with wonderful challenges and opportunities to grow professionally, the most fulfilling work I've done has been with the annual NABJ Broadcast Short Course at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. Having the opportunity to help develop the next generation of broadcast journalists has been exciting and satisfying.

Having the opportunity and privilege of holding leadership positions within NABJ and help chart the organization's future has been both invigorating and exhausting. But at no time did I ever think that my work would lead to induction to a hall of fame.

No words can adequately express my emotions as I accept this honor. I recall closing my final regional conference as director in Raleigh, North Carolina. One of my deputies and the local conference chair surprised me with a presentation that nearly brought me to tears. On that Sunday morning, as we all prepared to go our separate ways, I accepted their gift with words of gratitude and and the message that it was not expected or necessary. I said then and I say now, I have never approached my service to NABJ and its many members based on what I would get out of the experience. My service has always been rooted in wanting to help others. The needs of NABJ often took priority over my personal needs and responsibilities. "I do what I do because of you," I told the members attending the gospel brunch that morning in 2001. "I do what I do because I love this organization and I love you." Those words still apply today.

I am truly humbled to be considered worthy of the Region III Hall of Fame by my peers. To join the ranks of Chuck Stone, Sidmel Estes-Sumpter, Vic Carter, Herb Frazier, Jimmie Gates, Condace Pressley, Angela Robinson, and other regional and national legends is, quite simply, overwhelming. I am blessed to have the love and support of so many people on this journey that is my career. To all who have played a role in my success, I can only say thank you. May you continue to enjoy all of God's favor as we all continue to do the important work we've been called upon to do.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Dreamy Disappointment

Near the end of Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, Darth Vader learns that Luke Skywalker, his son, has a twin sister. After acknowledging that Obi Wan Kenobi was wise to hide her from the Dark Lord of the Sith, Vader utters the line, "now his failure is complete." The same can be said of the marketing strategy behind the hit film "Dreamgirls."

I am a big movie fan, but watching the Academy Awards is not a "must do" annual item on my calendar. I watch when I'm truly interested in some of the nominees. This was one of those years. "Dreamgirls" was one of the must-see films on my list last year and I was so excited to see it as the Christmas holiday season approached. Then we learned that the marketing blitz promoting a Christmas Day premier, was only for a limited number of cities, not nationwide. I've already opined on that subject, so I won't rehash. But since then, much has been reported about the strategy and how it was designed to do for "Dreamgirls" what a similar strategy did for the film version of another Broadway stage production, "Chicago." That film ended up earning several nominations, including a best supporting actress nod for Queen Latifah, and winning the best picture award.

"Dreamgirls" was the most nominated film going into last night's Oscars ceremony with eight nods. An unlikely clean sweep would have produced six statues since three of the nominations were in one category, Best Original Song. The film ended up winning just two awards. The marketing strategy failed, miserably.

It was a wonderful night for newcomer Jennifer Hudson. The former American Idol finalist, who finished seventh to Fantasia Barrino in the show's third season, walked away with the best supporting actress Oscar for her performance as Effie White. The win caps off a great award season who Hudson who also won the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards, among many others. Her dream came true last night. Co-star and fellow nominee Eddie Murphy's dream did not. Murphy was upset by Alan Arkin who won the best supporting actor award for his performance in "Little Miss Sunshine." I haven't seen that film, but I found it interesting that his character was described as a foul-mouthed grandfather with a taste for heroin. Eddie Murphy's character in "Dreamgirls" could be described as a foul-mouthed R&B performer with a taste for heroin. He played the role well and deserved his nomination, even the win. Between Arkin and Murphy, since both played heroin junkies, I guess the Academy voters decided the older white one should win out over the younger black one. Oh, Good Evening!

The only other award "Dreamgirls" garnered was for sound mixing. All three nominated original songs lost out to a tune Melissa Etheridge penned for former Vice President Al Gore's Oscar winning documentary, "An Inconvenient Truth." The costume award went to "Marie Antoinette." It seems that award always goes to some "Antoinette" type film leaving me with the thought that the voters are wearing horse blinders when they consider their choices. They only see 18th century style, anything newer be damned. "Dreamgirls" also lost the art direction award.

So, let's review: The "brilliant" marketing strategy which called for telling America the film would premier on Christmas Day, only to have it not show up in most cities until mid-January did not produce an opening weekend box office victory; did not produce any weekend box office victories; did not produce an Academy Award nomination for best picture or best director (considered shocking by most critics); did not produce wins for best supporting actor, best original song, best art direction or best costume design. Remind me not to hire that marketing team.

Oh, Good Evening!

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Toyota Who?

The 49th Daytona 500 is in the books and what a way to kick off the 2007 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series season. I'm not a huge NASCAR fan, but I enjoy auto racing and when you can watch in crystal clear high definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound, it's exhilarating. Rarely do I watch an entire race but I did this afternoon because I wanted to see how the newest automaker to join the NASCAR circuit, Japan-based Toyota, would fare in its debut.

There has been a great deal talk about Toyota joining NASCAR, most of it negative. Before this season, only the U. S. domestic automakers- General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler- fielded cars on the good old boy NASCAR circuit. Now, here come the Japanese with their top-selling Camry to join Chevy's Monte Carlo, Ford's Fusion and Dodge's Charger. Die hard fans have been smoking mad, apparently wanting their favorite sport to remain all American. Were they scared that Toyota would come on the scene and start winning races the way the company has won customers in this country? Toyota is poised to become the number two automaker in the world behind General Motors this year and it could overtake GM shortly after that, but a track record of superior quality and ever improving consumer sales don't guarantee success on the race track.

Judging by the unofficial results of today's Daytona 500 race, Toyota will have to work hard to make an impression on the circuit. Daytona belonged to GM on this day. Half of the Top 10 finishers, including the first four, were driving Chevys. Dodge had three cars in the Top 10 followed by Ford with two. The top finishing Toyota, driven by Dale Jarrett, was 23rd.

Looks like Toyota wasn't the Godzilla some folks feared. But the NASCAR purists shouldn't get too full of themselves just yet. This was just the first race and I'm sure Toyota will eventually take its first checkered flag on the circuit. Since stock cars are all supposed to meet the same specs and operate to a universal standard- emphasis on the word "supposed" since several teams got caught cheating in the week leading up to Daytona- there really shouldn't be anything to worry about except performance. And on this Sunday, the good ole boys reigned supreme.

Oh, Good Evening!

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Frozen Tundra

I just returned from a week in Madison, Wisconsin where I travelled with two co-workers to attend a training class for the new computer system we will use in our newsroom. February is NOT the best time to be in Wisconsin if you don't like the cold. (As if you need me to tell you that!)

My plane landed in Columbia just after 9:30 PM on Friday. All I can say is I have never been so happy to return to 25 degree conditions. It was -8 degrees my last night in Madison!

Oh, Good Evening!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Soggy Super Bowl

Super Bowl XLI is in the books. Congratulations to the Colts for winning their first Super Bowl title in 36 years and the first since the franchise moved to Indianapolis from Baltimore. Tony Dungy is the first African American head coach to hold the Vince Lombardi Trophy in victory. Quarterback Peyton Manning wins MVP honors and the Cadillac of his choice.

Here are some random thoughts about the game and the week leading up to the game:

  • South Florida had pretty good weather through Saturday providing a great backdrop for the NFL Network, ESPN, and HBO Sports, not to mention all the folks just hanging out on South Beach every day and night.

  • Football purists probably love the fact that SB XLI was played outdoors, despite the driving downpour in South Florida on Sunday night. I am not among that group. With the championship at stake and the tremendous financial investment of the league, the host city, and sponsors galore, Super Bowls should be played in the very best of conditions. Granted, this is the first time rain has fallen on an outdoor Super Bowl, last night's conditions were a bummer. Slippery footballs affecting play; rain drop spotted television camera lenses affecting my view. Not good. Of course, I think every game should be played in the best of conditions. I love indoor stadiums because, not only can you play regardless of the weather, but fans can truly enjoy the experience they've shelled out hundreds of dollars to attend. I love attending games in outdoor stadiums but the temperature needs to be above 70 degrees and the forecast should not include rain. Had i paid $600 and up for a ticket to SB XLI-- and let's face it, many of the 74,000+ fans in Dolphins Stadium on Sunday night paid MUCH more than that-- there is no way I would want to sit in a driving rain. To all the folks who think Super Bowls should only be played in Miami, Tampa, New Orleans, Phoenix, and San Diego, I say if it's okay to play the title game outside in drenching rain in South Florida, it's okay to play indoors in cities like Detroit, Minneapolis, Atlanta, Indianapolis and St. Louis.

  • Don't you have to be a fairly smart person to run a professional sports league or own a team? Don't you have to be fairly intelligent to work as the lead announcer for a network covering the biggest and most widely watched sporting event on the planet? It rained, off and on, all day long in South Florida on Sunday. Did it not occur to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, Colts owner Jim Irsay, and CBS announcer Jim Nantz that it would be a good idea to bring a raincoat with them to the stadium? Did they not look stupid standing out there for the trophy presentation dressed in their custom made suits getting drenched? How smart is that?

  • Prince rocked the house! That halftime show was HOTT! I'm talking the best in YEARS! The stage was great! The pyrotechnics were great! The song list was great! And how about the bonus performance we got on Thursday when, instead of answering a bunch questions nobody would care about, Prince did a mini concert for the media in attendance and everyone watching on the NFL Network? Can the NFL book him for halftime every year?

  • In the Super Bowl's 41 year history, Billy Joel is the only singer to perform the national anthem at two games. Super Bowl XLI and Super Bowl XXIII in 1989, also held in South Florida.

  • I love Cirque du Soliel but that pre-game show they produced didn't work for me.

  • Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were BORING. I hope CBS Sports finds a different team to do the game in 2010.

Oh, Good Evening!

Friday, February 02, 2007

Super Bowl MMMCXXI

The first Sunday in February is about more than just communion in church. After many wake up and go hear Rev. Whomever deliver an insightful sermon and then honor the Last Supper of Jesus Christ, rabid NFL fans will return home and prepare the last football supper of the 2006 season.

It's hard to believe a whole year has passed since I was all fired up about Super Bowl XL in my hometown, the Winter Wonderland of Detroit. Super Bowl XLI takes place Sunday in the Tropical Paradise of South Florida. I am very much looking forward to seeing the contest between the AFC Champion Indianapolis Colts and the NFC Champion Chicago Bears. There are so many stories to watch unfold:
  • Colts QB Peyton Manning finally making it to the big game-- Can he win it?
  • Bears QB Rex Grossman, dubbed the worst quarterback ever to play in the Super Bowl-- Can he prove his critics wrong?
  • Can the Colts defense contain the Bears running game?
  • Can the Bears defense contain the Colts passing game?

The list goes on and on. But no storyline is more significant to me than this: Who will be the first African American head coach to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy above his head when the game ends-- Chicago's Lovie Smith or Indy's Tony Dungy? They are both such great coaches and even greater men, it's a shame one of them has to lose the game. But they have both already won in the skill and character department and I hope this opens the door to more talented coaches of color in the NFL, other professional leagues, and at the collegiate level.

All of that aside-- my greatest anticipation about Sunday's game is the halftime show. After the disappointment of hearing that the Rolling Stones had been booked for last year's show in Detroit-- that performance was truly a mess-- I have been bouncing around with sheer delight over the signing of Prince to play this year's show. He is, by far, my favorite music artist of all time. I have most of his CDs, a few DVDs, and I have seen him in concert three times having never been disappointed by a performance. This could be the best Super Bowl halftime show since Diana Ross was the featured performer at Super Bowl XXX in 1996. Check out the commercial promoting the show and Let's Go Crazy at Super Bowl MMMCXXI! That's 3121 for the Roman numeral challenged.

Oh, Good Evening!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Winter Wonderland

As you can see in this photo, my day is not off to a good start. When I see more snow falling in Columbia, South Carolina than I saw on a recent trip to Detroit, Michigan in the dead of winter, something is very wrong!

Okay. It's not that bad. But, everyone who knows me knows I hate snow. So, seeing the white stuff on my front lawn and the hood of my HUMMER is a bummer. Big, fat, HUGE flakes!! Luckily, it won't stick.

Oh, Good Evening!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Just What Are They Looking For?

So, now that the Memphis show has aired, I can share my opinion of the American Idol audition process. We all know Idol is the television phenomenon of the moment. The audience grows each season literally making it the Super Bowl of regular prime time entertainment television. This season's premier, the show's sixth, had more than 80 million sets of eyeballs watching. Idol draws wannabe stars by the thousands to show up in various cities hoping to earn the coveted yellow ticket to Hollywood and possible stardom. And it is this audition process that makes me wonder, "just what are they looking for?"

WACH-TV, the FOX affiliate in Columbia, SC, hosted its annual Palmetto Idol contest last year and the winner received an all expenses paid trip to Memphis to audition for producers of the show. Crystal Garrett won and was very excited about the opportunity to audition for American Idol. We, at the station, all felt she had a great chance of making it to the Hollywood round only to learn that she was turned away well before Simon, Randy, and Paula got a chance to hear her beautiful voice. Here's the clincher. She returned to Columbia, grateful for the opportunity but a bit disenchanted, and shared the story of how somebody who couldn't really sing but was dressed like a clown, was advanced to the next audition level.

All you have to do is watch a few minutes of one of the audition episodes and you know that plenty of "clowns" make it through to waste the time of the judges. I readily admit, it makes for entertaining television. Remember William Hung? But, as much as I love the show, the competition, and thought Hung was hilarious, I have a problem with the notion that someone with true singing talent is turned away while some "clown" is passed through.

In our local competition, someone who clearly can't sing doesn't win. We're not going waste our time and money sending a contestant who can't legitimately compete to a guaranteed audition. At the very least, American Idol could do its affiliates the courtesy of guaranteeing that local winners will get to audition for the Simon, Randy and Paula. Crystal tells us the producers who cut her couldn't have been much older than she. Crystal is 20.

Tens of millions of viewers watch Idol each week and love it. My humble opinion likely means little, if anything, to the show's producers. They know they have a winning franchise. And, American Idol's impact on entertainment is abundant. The success of Kelly Clarkson, Rueben Studdard, Fantasia Barrino, Carrie Underwood, Taylor Hicks, Jennifer Hudson, Clay Aiken, Chris Daughtry, and others speaks for itself. But it's hard to take the competition seriously when so many non-singers get farther in the process than real singers.

Oh, Good Evening!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Rising Prices

While watching the midday news this afternoon, I saw a story about a survey of moviegoers in which customers were asked what things would make their movie going experience more enjoyable. The results indicated that 86% want lower ticket prices.

That made me think of a recent trip to an Atlanta theater for an afternoon matinee. I purchased my ticket from the automated machine and when the price popped up on the screen I commented to myself, "whoa, there's no matinee price anymore?" Then I called up an evening showing and quickly realized, "oh, that is the matinee price." The regular ticket price: $9.25! At that point, I gladly paid the $7.25 matinee price to see "Dreamgirls" at 1:15 PM.

Does anybody else remember $4.50 or $5.00 matinees?

Oh, Good Evening!

Monday, January 22, 2007

They're Baaack!

The Terrific Trio of judges-- Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul, and Randy Jackson-- are back for the sixth season of American Idol. The new season's premier episodes aired last Tuesday and Wednesday with auditions from Minneapolis and Seattle, respectively. After viewing them on TiVo... I know exactly what I want to say but I'm going to wait until the Memphis auditions air for a specific reason.

The good thing, since I work at a Fox affiliated television station, is that more than 82 million people tuned in across the country making this year's premier the biggest yet.

Oh, Good Evening!

It's Going To Be A Looonnnggg Day!

I finally found the time to watch the first four hours of the hit action-drama "24" sixth season premier. With 20 hours remaining in "Day 6," I'm drained already!

Wayne Palmer, brother of the assassinated former President Palmer, is now President Palmer, himself. He negotiates Jack Bauer's release from a Chinese prison as part of a plan to stop a series of terrorism attacks in various cities across America. As is always the case with "24," it's never that simple.

After two silent years in captivity, Jack is back in the states helping his CTU brothers and sisters save the nation, again. And, in the first four hours, he is forced to make life and death decisions that leave him-- and viewers-- in gut-wrenching pain.

I'm not going to give away any of the storyline in this posting to keep from ruining the experience for those who may not have had a chance to see the season premier episodes. (If you failed to record them, they are available on DVD already. Just $9.99 at you local video store!)

With the body count rising and plot lines twisting like braided hair, we are clearly in for a long "day," five-sixths of which is yet to play out. Don't miss a minute!

Oh, Good Evening!

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

The More Things Change: Reprise

Two days after finishing a dismal 3-13 season with an upset road victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Detroit Lions head coach Rod Marinelli used his final news conference to announce several coaching changes.

Donnie Henderson is out as defensive coordinator and Larry Beightol is out as offensive line coach, both after just one season with the Lions. I agree with both moves.

Henderson came in, highly touted, after running the New York Jets defense under Herman Edwards. Henderson took the Jets from the NFL's #21 defense to the #7 defense after his first season. No such outcome in Detroit. The Lions finished 2006 with the #28 defense, down from #20 in 2005. All season long, I would watch games and comment to myself and my brother that the 2006 Lions were defensively worse than last year. Pass and run defense was poor and Detroit didn't seem to get much spark from the defense when it was really needed. We could seem to count on the defense folding at key times late in games when the Lions needed to protect a lead, or get the ball back quickly to give themselves a better chance at waging a one score comeback.

Head coach Rod Marinelli and Henderson have a long term friendship but couldn't seem to agree on the defensive system so Marinelli pulled the plug and sent his buddy packing. He's bringing in his son-in-law, Joe Barry, to take over. Barry spent six seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as linebackers coach. Marinelli was expected to introduce Barry at a news conference at 11 AM Wednesday morning. As Lena Horne said in her Broadway show, "nepotism never hurt nobody." Let's hope this in-law, father-son defensive tandem can get the Lions defense moving back up the rankings instead of down.

Also out is offensive line coach Larry Beightol. Marinelli called Beightol a very good coach but said he felt like he needed to make a change. Considering the fact that Detroit's O-line couldn't create holes for Kevin Jones to run through and couldn't hold a pocket long enough to give quarterback Jon Kitna enough time to let a pass route complete, I agree. Similar to Henderson, Beightol had years of success as offensive line coach with the Green Bay Packers but things weren't working in Detroit. No word on a successor yet.

The final coaching change, Marinelli had no control over, but he had to accept. Long time special teams coordinator Chuck Priefer is retiring. Priefer is one of the best special teams coaches in the league. He's been with the Lions the past 10 seasons and has 17 total coaching years in the NFL. He will be missed. He's produced any number of special teams pro bowlers including Lions return specialist Eddie Drummond and place kicker Jason Hanson. Punter Nick Harris also has enjoyed his best seasons under Priefer's tutelage. Priefer is 65 years old and says he wants to spend more time with his grandchildren. He will likely still help the Lions as a consultant or clinician.

The one change we won't get is a change at the top. It appears team president Matt Millen will be back for a seventh season, despite his 24-72 record since taking over the team. In his six years with the franchise, he has fired three coaches, hired three coaches, exercised numerous first round draft picks, and fired one of them. I don't know what owner William Clay Ford is thinking by keeping Millen. Of course, that's just it-- he's probably not thinking.

Sirius NFL Radio host and former NFL lineman Randy Cross made the perfect analogy on Monday's Movin' the Chains program. In a nutshell, he said ownership can be the biggest problem. He made the perfect analogy between the Ford Motor Company and the Detroit Lions. Ford Motor Company once produced a car named after William Clay Ford's father. The Edsel was a huge flop and its production run didn't last long-- only three years. Randy Cross says William Clay Ford hired an "Edsel" in Matt Millen and, like the car, he's been a huge flop. Yet, Ford is letting this "Edsel" stay around longer than the original-- twice as long, so far.

Oh, Good Evening!

Monday, January 01, 2007

Goodbye 2006, Hello 2007!

Here's to hoping that 2007 is a better year than 2006 for everyone!