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July 2000

July 31, 2000
8:30 AM EDT

After my long post last night, there's not a whole lot to add right now. I was able to make it through work this morning without getting too tired, and we had a clean newscast, which for a two hour live broadcast is definately something to be happy about.

Dennis Miller makes his debut tonight for ABC Sports broadcasting on Monday Night Football. It should be interesting from a curiosity standpoint to see how he does, though MNF has that pesky way of running head-to-head with WWF Raw. But I'll tune in to get my fix of football, not to mention hearing how Miller does. He's used to performing live, and the real test will be working it into the context of a football game with Michaels and Fouts. We'll see how it goes...

July 30, 2000
9:49 PM EDT

"I do, and that's my final answer."
-Aaron Thompson, at his wedding, 7/29/2000

This has been quite an eventful weekend. Lots of fun, but also a great deal of exhaustion was/is involved, but it was definately worth it. So let's start the story off at the beginning.

Friday night my good friend Glenn got to Huntington at around 8:30 or so. In an attempt to slide my sleep schedule up, I had tried staying up late on Friday and then planned on getting a short nap to tide me over until that night. Unfortunately, my short nap turned into 5 hours of sleep. Oops. So I woke up to the sound of Glenn knocking on the door. I'm not sure what happened with my alarm clock -- odds are I turned it off in my sleep and didn't realize it, which tends to happen from time to time.

So Glenn and I had dinner over at Applebee's and caught up on things. The last time I saw Glenn was when he visited me in Evansville last summer. We went to high school together in Nashville, though since then it's been kind of catch-as-catch-can trying to hang out with him, with the whole living hundreds of miles away thing making that tough. That's how it is with most of my old high school friends, though. Anyway, unlike the great service at Applebee's the night my bro and I ate there earlier this month, this time it was nothing special (I should have asked if Laura was working there, but they were packed so I was glad to just get a table). From there, Glenn and I swung by Sharkey's, where Tali and Doc were hanging out listening to The Ignytors play (they're a talented cover band). So we hung out and talked for awhile. Tali asked Glenn what he was drinking, as he just had a coke, and I explained that Glenn doesn't drink, and I don't smoke (though it seems that practically everyone I hang out with does). So anyway we decided to head over to Yesterdays, though it turned out to be uncharacteristically dead for a Friday night. I ended up winning a free drink, but we left before I got to cash it in. As it was, I didn't drink very much, as I knew I had to get some sleep to get ready for the big Saturday trip.

So I ended up taking some sleeping pills and managed to get a solid 7 hours of sleep. This was after having slept 5 hours on Friday afternoon, so we're talking about 12 hours of sleep in an 18 hour time period. Not exactly normal, but it was either that or be falling asleep on the drive to Vincennes (or at the wedding), so you do what you have to do.

On Saturday morning Glenn hit the road to New Jersey, plotting the path to visit his friend "Two Dogs" up in Pittsburgh. While Glenn headed north, I went west.. on the road to Indiana.

I-64 is a road I've driven many times.. but the good old Interstate is a bitch to drive with road construction to deal with. Glenn had warned me of how bad it was for him coming up here, and he was right. So on the way, I stopped at a "Big K-Mart" (as opposed to a small K-Mart I guess) and bought a crock pot for a wedding gift and a card. I had hoped to get it gift wrapped, but unfortunately Big K-Mart was not so big as to have its own gift wrap department. So I put the crock pot in the backseat, filled out the card, and then resumed my trip.

With time to kill, I contemplated swinging by ABC 25 in Evansville, but my path took me north of Evansville, where I-64 hits 41 North, so that didn't happen. Actually I didn't have that much time to kill as it turned out. Aaron had told me what exit to take from 41 in Vincennes, but he wasn't sure about directions to the First United Methodist Church itself. I knew the reception was at the Executive Inn, which was right off U.S. 41, so after some unsuccessful driving on my own looking for it I went there and asked. Luckily they were able to tell me where to go, and I got there at 3:45 Central for a 4:30 start.

I went in through a side door (I was a bit disoriented and it was raining). So who do I run into but.. the groom himself, Aaron Thompson. We said our hellos, and I said hi to his father as well, and from there I went up to the front. After signing the guest book, Clint Butts (a Phi Tau who was an usher) led me over to where Bird (Josh Bultemeier) and Big Red (Jason Edwards) were sitting. So Josh and Red and I talked for awhile, which was great. The church continued to fill up as the wedding time drew near. We were joking about bringing signs (like they would at a wrestling event) -- Josh said he wanted a Butts 3:16 sign (Clint and one of the other ushers at that moment were trying to light this huge number of candles up front).

So finally the wedding began. It still seems so crazy to me to see friends get married. My friend Brian Cart got married three years ago, which was the first wedding of a friend my age I'd attended. So there was Aaron, and then his bride Valarie walked the aisle. She was crying actually, presumably overcome by the emotion of the moment.

Protestant weddings don't last particularly long, but I knew that AT (Aaron) would find a way to do something unusual. You just have to know Aaron, he's so much fun to hang out with, his unpredictability and fun-loving nature always keeping things interesting. So they're doing the whole vows thing, and when it comes time to say "I do", Aaron said "I do, and that's my final answer." Seriously. I couldn't hear exactly what he had said (the preacher had a lapel microphone, but Aaron or Valarie didn't), but Bird told me. Way to go Aaron! We then joked about him using lifelines, and I suggested that he should have asked the audience.

The reception was great as well. I should mention that it was pouring down rain, so Bird and Red decided to run down to their car while I wisely waited it out for a few minutes. Still, I managed to beat them over to the Executive Inn, so I took the crock pot out of the backseat and grabbed the card. I didn't have any tape, so once inside I had to sit the card on top of the crock pot. All of the other gifts had this nice elaborate wrapping, and then there's mine in a box that tells exactly what's inside. Heh. Well anyway after I went through the hor'dourvs line (or however you spell that) I scanned the room trying to see who, if anyone, I knew there. So then at the table on the far end of the room I saw two girls waving at me. I kind of looked around to see if it was actually me they were waving at (not that women trying to get my attention is an unusual thing, but I didn't want to seem like an idiot to walk over only to find that they were waving at some jabroni behind me). It was Melissa and Crystal, two good friends of Aaron's who I had met while rooming with Aaron in the crazy spring semester of 1999. So I sat down and we talked for awhile. I hadn't seen either of them in at least a year. Finally Red and Bird managed to find the place, so after they went through line they came over.

The reception was very nice, and it was memorable when they had a few people get on the microphone. Aaron's father got on the mic and said that he asked Aaron when he decided to use the "I do, and that's my final answer" line. He said that Aaron said he wasn't going to, but then he saw Valarie crying walking down the aisle and decided that he had to do something to get her to laugh. Mr. Thompson ended up getting a bit choked up, and Aaron told me later that it was the first time that he had ever seen his dad get emotional like that. But luckily Rob Apple was there to bring humor to the scene, and in a planned spot he talked about Aaron being a ladies man and told all the women to "turn in their keys" (earlier Rob had given keys to many of the women there to bring up). The funniest was that Rob gave a key to Big Red and told him to wait and go up last. Aaron was obviously embarassed (which was the whole idea), and then when Red got up he was like "Red sit down!" It was priceless.

Now all along I had planned on driving the 6 hours back to Huntington that night, but I was talked into staying at the Phi Tau house down in Evansville. But then Big Red and Josh and I decided to stay there for the night so we could party and all. Unfortunately the Executive Inn was sold out, but Red found a room across the street at the Holiday Inn. So Red and I hit the liquor store to get some beer and then to get the room, which I had thought would take 5-10 minutes. Silly me. It turned out to take closer to 30 minutes, plus the ice machine on our floor wouldn't work so we went on this journey to find ice. So by the time we got back, we missed out on alot of the dancing, including Abba! (sorry Melissa and Crystal). But we talked with a bunch of people. It was good to see Juice and Danny Fugate and Jeff Warner, some old-school Phi Tau guys who came out for the wedding.

When things were winding down, I started feeling really tired (maybe it was just the DJ, who sounded like Steven Wright, the radio DJ in "Reservoir Dogs"). Bird decided against staying after all, and he found a ride back to Evansville. Big Red went to party with some of the others, and I fell asleep right away in the room.

Two hours later I woke up and heard Red coming in the room. I looked over at the clock and saw that it was 3:15 and I was like uh oh, I slept 14 hours!?!?!?! Quickly though I realized I had slept for TWO hours, not fourteen. Red had the TV on, which made it even tougher to sleep. Soon enough though he fell asleep... but I couldn't get back to sleep myself. Three hours later, laying in bed trying but unable to sleep, I decided to get up. I got a shower, wrote Red a note with my mailing address (so he could send me a check for his and Bird's share of the room cost), then headed out to the highway.

I knew that I needed some caffeine to keep me going (and I hardly ever drink anything with caffeine anymore), so I had a big 20 ounce coffee. Mmm, it was good. Plus it kept me wired. So the six hour drive back was long, and the road construction sucked. By the time I got in at 2 PM Huntington time, I was almost delerious. I laid down and slept six hours (not too long I hope, I hope I can get back to my normal 9-5 sleep schedule tomorrow). So that was my weekend, the long version. Now I'd better wrap this up pronto and get a shower and head to work... the work week still begins at 11 PM Sunday night, 12 hours on the road or not. Oh, one more thing, I saw this HILARIOUS promo on ESPN for their upcoming NFL coverage. This guy's daughter asks if their dog is really up in the sky or something like that, and he's like "No, of course not, Rover (or whatever the dog's name was) is buried out back behind the tool shed." Then it shows his brain, and the word "Sensitivity" is squeezed out and "Football" squeezes in. I was laughing big-time at that. But now it's shower time...

July 28, 2000
11:10 AM EDT

My weekend is here once again. This will be a most unusual one, as I'm going to try staying up today, then sleeping tonight before a mega road trip tomorrow. So now I sit and type, unable to log on to AOL due to my little sister Mary Beth being on-line. When I get my new computer and cable modem access, it will be so nice -- no problems getting on the net, no tied up phone lines, and no slow computer. Yeaaaah.

Glenn Brown called at 2 in the morning today and left a message on my machine. He's a really good friend of mine who I haven't seen in almost a year. He lives up in New Jersey now (and he gives me grief about living in West Virginia, ha!) but he's in Nashville staying with his parents. It's funny, even now I can still remember his parents' phone number, which I memorized back in our high school days in the early 90's, yet I can't remember the phone number of the house I lived at in Evansville seven months ago. Then again, that number is now disconnected, so it's pretty pointless. But Glenn might be swinging through here this weekend, which would be perfect if it wasn't for the whole wedding to go to in Indiana thing.

I have to call over to Aaron's place today to find out if the wedding is at 4:30 Central or Eastern time. Because Indiana has this weird thing about not recognizing daylight savings time in most of the state, that sort of thing gets confusing. My guess is that it'll be at 5:30 EDT (that's Eastern Daylight Time) since the whole state is on one time now, but I want to confirm it. How much would it suck to pull into town just as the wedding was ending? Ay carumba!

My hot water heater is making a most annoying dripping noise. Boy that's getting on my nerves like you wouldn't believe. Ok, I've closed the door, much better.

The Price is Right is playing in the background. Plinko anyone? I love the way the games on there require a minimal amount of skill (except for perhaps Hole in One or Two). Though I guess there's some strategy in the later stuff (should I sit on 65 cents if I'm the first player to SPIN THE BIG WHEEL or take a chance and spin again?). It'd be fun to get on there, though, even though I'd probably guess wrong on the price of dishwashing detergant and miss out on prizes and big money. Or maybe I'd win the double showcase and walk away a winner.

My friend Tali called me on her lunch break to continue the conversation we started this morning in the parking lot when I was getting home from work and she was about to leave for work. She needed the male perspective on things with a guy she's trying to figure out, and I know about the male perspective so I'm a good person to talk with about that. Guys are so easy to figure out, because we tend to be so utilitarian by nature, and even in the cases where we're not it's not too difficult to figure out what we want or what we're likely to do. Women on the other hand tend to be a total mystery, even to other women. Of course not in all cases, but in general guys are easy to figure out from a psychological standpoint. At least I think so.. how many women do you know who are decisive? Or don't tend to change their minds all the time. Not that this is a bad thing at all.. the unpredictability and spontenaity of women make things very interesting and exciting at times. But for an analytical type like myself, it makes things challenging.

I've been reading "A Season on the Brink" by John Feinstein. It was written in the mid-80's, and it's about a season that the author spent with Bob Knight and the Indiana Hoosiers. It's an intriguing look at Indiana Basketball and Coach Knight in particular. I enjoyed reading about Jim Crews, who was an assistant at IU and then took the head coaching job at Evansville in 1985. I wish I had known all that when I broadcast the UE/SMS first round Missouri Valley Conference tournament basketball game in 1998 on the Internet. Jim Crews coaching versus Steve Alford.. I knew the background, but I didn't know all the dynamics and detailed history behind it. Thanks to Rob Johnson from work for letting me borrow the Feinstein book, along with two other Knight-related books he let me borrow (including the Steve Alford book "Playing For Knight").

Today at work was sure a challenge. We had a live shot set up with some Kawasaki Waterski folks down at the riverfront, but then we found out about a fire going on in Ironton so I had my photog pulled from the live shot and sent up there, and we had to call in another photog to handle the live shot. We made it all work, but it was sure challenging. Plus, to make matters worse, there was some hard rain passing through the area, so Deb needed more time for weather. Just another day in the biz though.. the unpredictability and never knowing for sure what will happen helps to keep things interesting.

ECW Wrestling is coming to Huntington next week on Friday night, which should be good. I plan on going, and I finally heard a radio ad for it yesterday (on WAMX). Extreme Championship Wrestling is about to lose its TNN timeslot due to the WWF signing with Viacom, and they desperately need another cable deal to stay alive.

With today's paycheck I finally have enough money saved up to get a new computer, but I'm probably going to wait just a little while longer to make sure I have some cash saved up before I make the big purchase. Plus I have the whole rent and paying the bills thing to do, too.

Maybe Mary Beth has signed off of AOL so I can get this uploaded. Later.

July 27, 2000
8:21 AM EDT

On the surface, it might look that the court decision yesterday by a California judge to allow an injunction against Napster would be a victory for the RIAA. The recording industry, itself guilty of years of price fixing and gouging of consumers, has complained that Napster should be shut down. Much like the Motion Picture Association of America fought against videotapes in the famous Betamax court case, the recording industry battled the trading of songs over the Internet, fearing that people would not buy their overpriced CD's. And it seems like a legit argument on the surface, though a recent study shows that record sales have actually gone up and that Napster is encouraging people to sample music before they buy. But when it comes down to it, the RIAA missed the boat big-time when it comes to online music. If they hadn't been so inattentive to the Internet as to not make the purchase of music online an option, then people bothered by piracy would have had a "legit" option to legally get their MP3 music. But because no legal option was readily available, people turned to programs like Napster and Gnutella for their music. As one of a myriad of articles about yesterday's court decision pointed out, the proverbial toothpaste is out of the tube. There's no going back, and Napster's void will be quickly filled by imitators and new programs that cannot be targeted. There is no central website for Gnutella -- good luck trying to sue your way out of that, RIAA.

Survivor last night was another compelling episode. My prediction of Jenna getting the ax came true, which the Survivor Sucks website missed (they'd made the right call on every cut up to Jenna). Until he actually gets kicked off, Gervase is my vote to win the million bucks. Charisma goes a long way.

And let me say just how stupid Kelly is. Intact, the Tagi alliance could have survived down to the final four. At least the Pagong folks clued in to the fact finally that making an alliance is an important part of the game. And don't talk to me about what's honorable and all that; even the philosophical ones left on the island from Pagong finally wised up to reality. I liked seeing Sean's vote against Jenna end up being the deciding factor -- his alphabet selection process is ridiculous.

I've been pulling for Richard for awhile now since I originally picked him to win way back when. Right now I think Gervase will win it. But Rich really makes a great villian, with his plotting and ego and outright lies. And normally I'd never pull for a middle-aged naked gay man to stick around on my TV, but between wanting my original prediction to come true and not wanting one of the whiny girls to win he'd be a fine choice. Rudy continues to be rude (but smarter than B.B. about controlling his irritability factor), and his comments tend to be hilarious. When he was talking about the girl clique and said "I suspected that there might be some lesbianism going on", I busted up laughing. He's blunt, and because of being so blunt he's hilarious.

CBS finally smarted up and put Big Brother on after Survivor. Why didn't they do that all along? The show tends to suffer from being either too boring or too overly produced. The in-house fighting and sexual tension kept things interesting, but the Julie Chen segments really struck me as a bit over the top. Not to mention the idea of journalistic integrity of having a news person doing an entertainment show, but that line gets more and more blurred every day (especially in my realm, morning news, which tends to be much lighter). I wonder who will get voted out this week? It'd be too bad to lose the stripper (Jordan), but I guess we'll see.

I have the band "For Squirrels" playing in my CD player right now. Tragically, right when they started to hit it big in late 1995, their van had a tire blow out on a road trip and several members of the band died in the crash. Check out the song "Mighty K.C." by them on Napster.. that is before Napster shuts down tomorrow night at midnight. Or get it on Gnutella or Napigator or go buy the CD even. It's worth it.

I'm off now for a brunch at the Golden Corrall with some people from work. I'm in the process of trying to slide my sleep schedule up so I can make the Saturday marathon trip (5 1/2 hours to and from Vincennes, Indiana, with a wedding and reception inbetween), and that means staying up until early afternoon today, then on Friday trying to ride out all day and then sleep at night like a normal person would. These are the sacrifices inherent to working the third shift...

July 26, 2000
5:27 PM EDT

We said goodbye to Della Crews at WSAZ yesterday. Della, who was a morning anchor at WPXI in Pittsburgh for 12 years, and most recently our 5 PM co-anchor with Bill Murray on "First At Five" for the past year and a half, has taken a job at News 12 in New Jersey. I remember when I came in for my interview at WSAZ in November 1999 how she went out of her way to welcome me, and she helped to make a very positive impression on a day that was an absolute whirlwind for me. It was the day before Thanksgiving, and after associate producing the morning news at ABC 25 (WEHT) in Evansville, I hopped on a plane and flew to Pittsburgh, and through the slew of holiday travellers caught my connection to Huntington. From there I had a 6 hour interview process, where WSAZ news director Ken Selvaggi showed me the town and the station. Going on adrenaline (remember, I normally would be asleep at that time) my interview went well (though I was nervous, which wasn't helped by my state of sleep deprivation). I flew back that night, catching some fitful sleep on the plane, and then worked my usual overnight shift at ABC 25. That was crazy. But anyway, we'll all miss Della at WSAZ, though I know she will be a strong success up in New Jersey.

If there's one thing about this business that I don't like, it's the uncertainty of people's status. You get to be someone's friend and get to know them and their family, and then suddenly they're gone. It's something that's taken some getting used to, both in Evansville and now here in Huntington. I think of the line at the end of The Usual Suspects: "And just like that, poof, he's gone." But that's the nature of the beast, where often the only way to move up is to move on. If there is a positive that can be taken from it, it's that I have a strong network of friends in various cities and stations. Alex Lucas and Mark Pellerito and Buffy McKinney, who I worked with at ABC 25, are all at WZTV, the Fox affiliate in Nashville. Also, I've recently learned that Nischelle Turner, a talented reporter who I also worked with in Evansville, will soon be taking a job with the Fox affiliate in New Orleans. The list is long: Mark Glover in Louisville, Brady Gibson in Indianapolis, Christine Dobbyn in Columbus.. I could go on and on. But that's the TV biz for you.

Tonight is the next episode of Survivor. Some speculation I've heard has Richard not making it to the final four; we'll see if that comes true. But the longer Gervase lasts, the more I wonder if his charisma will carry him to the million dollars as has been rumored. My thought is that tonight Jenna will be voted off, but we'll see...

July 24, 2000
8:38 PM EDT

Work continues to go very well for me. We began week three of the new morning news format today, and we had one of our best newscasts yet. Rob and Melanie continue to mesh together well as an anchoring duo, and I predict that will only get better as they get to know each other more. When Deborah Cramer leaves next week it will be tough, as she is a very well-liked person at WSAZ. We'll miss having her around. However, I am confident that Scott Sabol will do a solid job handling the morning weather duties for us. It will be another challenging transition, but one that I am confident that we will be able to handle.

I've been doing some more planning on "Story 1", and I hope to get the remaining portion of the book storyboarded so I can get started on some writing. There are some details and logic issues that still need to be worked out, plus a finish would be nice too, but I'm confident it will work out.

For those of you interested in the TV news business, two sites that you might want to check out are and

July 22, 2000
7:05 PM EDT

I consider myself more of a libertarian than anything else, which I've mentioned on this webpage in the past. But there are some issues that make me skew strongly toward the Republican party, such as the issue of an intrusive, "Big Brother" (not the TV show) type of government. This link to a Washington Post story about FBI wiretapping of the Internet is a great case in point:

July 22, 2000
9:12 AM EDT

I've finally done some substantial planning work on the story I've been contemplating in my mind, which at this point has the working title of "Story 1". I've had a problem in the past of coming up with an idea that I really like and writing like crazy at first, then fizzling out because I don't know what's coming up next (or more importantly how it will end). So I'm trying to storyboard it first, which is what I learned in college writing classes and actually know is the most effective way. But all too often I get the spark to write and just go, which ultimately hurts me in the end. "Story 1" is in the murder/mystery vein, and we'll see how it goes.

Haven't had a chance yet to comment on Survivor or Big Brother (the past 48 hours have been chaotic for me). Greg getting the ax was interesting, with his last episode proving to be quite crazy (the weird video his sister made, him talking with his hookup Colleen and then referring to her as a kitten which would have its neck snapped, etc.) As for the tease that next week, Kelly seems to be possibly going away from the Tagi clique, though I think that's a red herring (much like the Jenna emotional breakdown proved to be for this week). I think the clique will last, despite the people who insist that Gervase will last until the end. This upcoming week could prove pivotal, as Jenna is a major anti-Gervase force and if she finally goes this week, that'd give the people speculating that Gervase will win a boost.

As for Big Brother, I catch that show so infrequently it's tough for me to know exactly what all went on. I did see the very end of the Thursday night live show with William, who was voted out (which means that Jordan was given a reprive for the time being). Not surprisingly, William did not seem thrilled about being given the heave-ho, and was confrontational with Julie Chen in the short segment I watched. In the house, the live feed I saw seemed to be rather happy and upbeat, with people drinking and joking around. One good thing for Big Brother now is that they're finally promoting that the show comes on all five nights at 9/8 Central, which beats the hell out of the catch-as-catch-can timeslot volleyball it played at first. It's too bad they didn't stick it for an hour after Survivor like they did for the premiere, but that is a valuable timeslot for CBS.

My good friend, former roommate and fraternity brother Aaron Thompson gets married in Indiana one week from today. That will be quite a sight. With several old school and college friends married or engaged or close enough, it makes me realize just how quickly time has passed and even more aware of the fact that I turn 23 next month. But AT, I'm happy for you man, and the wedding will be great I'm sure.

July 20, 2000
9:06 AM EDT

We had a pretty eventful morning newscast at WSAZ this morning. Shortly after 5 AM Phil Weber, who is the updates and midday producer (and who has been at WSAZ almost as long as I've been alive) heard on the scanners about a murder in Charleston at a Go Mart. So from there the thrill of breaking news kicked in, and luckily thanks to me working with some talented people we pulled everything off every well. For me it was the challenge of line producing the two hour newscast, while at the same time trying to work in the new scripts and sort through the latest updates and new information. Those hectic, crazy moments are what make being a producer so exciting and fun. You never know for sure what will happen in a given day at work. And having an experienced producer like Phil in the newsroom during the two hours of news is a plus, that's for sure.

Unfortunately for me, my tape editor in the morning, Dave Kinder, is moving up to Beckley in September. He'll still be working for WSAZ through our Charleston office (though that commute will be a bitch for him). But I'll miss having him around the newsroom, not to mention how great of a worker he is. Replacing him will be a definite challenge.

With Danny Neagle debuting in strong fashion and Roger Clemens looking sharp after returning from injury, the Yankees are looking sharp. Yeah!

July 19, 2000
9:47 AM EDT

It's way past my bedtime, but I thought I'd do an update here real quick. Tonight is the next episode of Survivor on CBS, and we'll see who gets voted off. Some people have been speculating that Gervase will win it all, but I would suggest that people not jump to conclusions about supposed mistakes and information leaks. Hell, this time last week there were lots of people sold on Gretchen winning it all, and if you saw last week's show you know that didn't happen.

I have this great story idea that I've been working on, but I need to come up with an ending. I want to actually set my ideas out and storyboard it before I begin. I have so many half-written stories that end up fizzling out due to not having a clear vision of how things will end. If you want to see what the end effects of that can be, try watching some WCW Wrestling.

The cover of "Wild Horses" by The Sundays is playing in my CD player right now. Good song, and I actually like their version better than the Rolling Stones' (which I also have on CD).

Maybe I'll play some tennis tonight. For some reason I thought that Christine from work and I were planning on playing last night, even though we'd been saying Wednesday all along. Sometimes the yesterdays and todays and tomorrows and the days in general all run together with the hours I work...

July 18, 2000
8:16 AM EDT

Wow, I'm feeling drowsy this morning. But that's good, as I'll be getting some Z's here in a little bit. Hopefully tonight I'll get to play some tennis, then maybe swing by Sharkey's for a friend of a friend's birthday party. Of course I'll have to leave in time to get to work by 11, so I'll miss out on most of the karaoke night fun. Such is life.

My Phi Tau fraternity brother, former roommate and good friend Aaron Thompson gets married the weekend after next. He and I both joined Phi Tau in the fall of 1996 (hard to believe it's been that long ago), and now he's getting hitched. Friends of mine keep getting married, which is kinda crazy, but AT I'm happy for ya man. To quote Tupac: "Tell your wife she's got a player for life, and that's no bullshitting."

Bust-A-Move 4 on the Playstation continues to be a fun, addictive game to play. It's the reason I didn't do an update yesterday, I went on this big winning streak in the "Win Competition" section and by the time I finally lost, it was close to bedtime.

Work continues to go well. It's almost a non-issue now that we have strong newscasts with few technical problems and an overall much more lively feel day in and day out. There is some trepidation on my part about how the July sweeps will turn out (with the whole adage about how people tend to resist change), but hopefully it will all work out well.

July 16, 2000
10:07 PM EDT

Work comes at the top of the hour.. and another week of producing. We have less than three weeks left in sweeps, and then my friend Deborah Cramer, who has been the morning meterologist at WSAZ for the past few years, will be leaving to go to Miami, where her parents live. Tonight Deb and I played tennis over at Marshall. We were both feeling rusty from not playing all that much lately, but it was still great to get out there and play some.

Turns out that Matt accidentally took my checkbook home with him last weekend, so he's going to be sending it back to me. It was actually a relief when I found out that he had it; I was afraid that it somehow had been lost. But in the process of looking for it and scouring my apartment, I found the book "Friday Night Lights" which I had been looking for. I've lent it to Rob Johnson from work for the time being, but I'll let my bro borrow it when I go visit him at Mississippi State in October. If you haven't read it, check it out; it's a compelling story about several people's lives in Odessa and Midland Texas from the late 80's. As fate would have it, Eric Burke, who I worked with at ABC 25 in Evansville, was in school down there right when the book was being written.

My fantasy football league draft took place yesterday, and the results came out at about 1 AM. So I ended up talking with Brook Gardiner (the commish) and his brother Jon (who's also in the league) on the phone for a long time early this morning. I ended up with: James Stewart, Kevin Johnson, Kevin Dyson, Jake Reed and Dulymus "Deuce" McAllister. That might mean absolutely nothing to you, but for me it was a good draft. I had hoped to get Jamal Lewis, but sometimes you can't always get what you want.

I've been playing some new Playstation games I got this weekend. "Driver" is a really fun game, and "Bust A Move 4" is a bizarre (but addictively fun) puzzle game with a definate Japanese influence. I should be getting "World Championship Snooker" soon, which I can't wait for. That would probably be a boring/confusing choice for 99.5% of the American Playstation audience, but after experiencing the intense fun of a game of snooker in my time in England, I can't wait to get the video game version. The game even has all the pro snooker players in it, not that I know who any of them are. When I was in England I didn't exactly watch alot of TV, though once when I was in Amsterdam of all places I saw some snooker on TV in the hotel we were staying in there. In case you are wondering, snooker is a game very similar to pool. There are many inherent differences between the two games, and by playing snooker you can really improve your pool game (because of the strict accuracy that snooker demands). I have some great memories from playing snooker at Harlaxton: the classic battles with some of my friends (Ben Lynch and Andy Holland and Justin Smith and Brad "Otter" Ott all can attest to my snooker skill), the random conversations with people who used the snooker room for its other popular use.. smoking, and of course the drunken/buzzing games of snooker (where my concentration seemed to somehow actually be enhanced after a pint or two of McEwan's). The snooker room has a very limited musical selection: the Counting Crows' first album (August and Everything After), U2's Achtung Baby, and CCR's greatest hits (with some 60's songs to fill out the second side). It's a tribute to the Crows that I still enjoy listening to AAEA and interesting that I still listen to my CCR greatest hits CD some. I suppose I should be glad that no one left behind a Bobby Brown tape or anything like that in there.

I'm hoping for a price drop by Dell on their 800 mHz T-3 computers soon. But when I finally get the thing, it'll be sweet. The idea of having a 75 gig HD is intriguing to say the least. I just hope my five year old Packard Bell can hold up long enough for me to get the new one.

July 15, 2000
5:45 PM EDT

Today is draft day for my Fantasy Football league. If you haven't seen the league, I run the webpage, which you can link to here. I have less than six hours to get my picks in. The drama is on.

Last night was fun. Me and Tali (my friend who lives in my apartment complex) and her friend Doc went out to Sharkey's. The place was dead, so we decided to go to Borderline. I paid a combined $6 in cover charges in 45 minutes (ugh). But it was fun at Borderline, though Tali was hurting from a sunburn. So from there we ended up over at Dwight's, a greasy spoon type place, a 24 hour diner real close to my apartment. It's like Waffle House on LSD. Especially at 3-4 AM. In this case it was 12:45 AM, but no bother, there was still plenty of craziness to be found. I've only been there three times in my life, and all three times has involved crazy interaction. This time I met Tole, who somehow knew Tali and Doc. Tole, who I'd guess was stoned out of his mind, had this hilarious conversation about grits that would make a killer segment in a screenplay.

Anyway, Tali dropped Doc and I off by our cars, and she went home. So Doc and I decided to go over to Yesterday's to see what was up there. It was less crowded than normal, but it was still a pretty fun time.

My friend Haggai Elitzur, who I met when I was up at Western Kentucky's summer camp in 1990-92, was the lifeline for Dave Goodman, the guy who won the million dollars on Who Wants to be a Millionaire this past Tuesday. Here is what Haggai wrote about his experience in an e-mail to me:

About 7 or 8 people were gathered at my place, several members of the quiz bowl club that I knew Dave from, plus a few housemates (Dave was one of my housemates this past year). Having multiple people as the lifeline isn't forbidden; in fact, there really isn't anything that's forbidden to the lifeline friends, probably because they wouldn't be able to enforce any rules they might come up with. Apparently someone on a past show did a web search while on line with his buddy in the hot seat! The lame thing is that it's still officially one person you're calling, and everyone's supposed to pretend that's what's happening even when it obviously isn't. Having played quiz bowl together for a while and lived in the same house for a year, Dave and I have a very good idea of what the other guy does and doesn't know, and he sure as hell wasn't counting on me knowing where Paddington was from! He called us because he knew there were a bunch of people gathered around the phone, so calling the place with the most people gave him the best odds of finding someone who knew the answer.

The way it works is that you have a window of a few hours when the taping is going on that you need to be near the phone. If your friend makes the hot seat, you get a call from a producer telling you to standby for a potential lifeline call, so it's not like Regis calls from out of the blue. Having played quiz bowl for a couple of years with Dave, I was confident that he had a great shot at getting in the hot seat (he's the best quiz bowler I've ever played with), so after about an hour passed without us getting any calls, I said, "Come on, Dave, either shit or get off the pot!" And literally five seconds later, the phone rang, and we found out that he was in the hot seat. That's when it started getting nerve-wracking, because the next call could be from Regis. They have you wait until the third ring for some reason (you only saw the phone ring once on the show), so I was ready for that. The waiting was tough, but we figured that the longer we waited, the better Dave was doing, so there was at least that much to hang on to. After about 45 minutes, the phone rang and everyone got quiet. I waited for what seemed like an eternity for the second ring, and then another eternity for the third one before picking up. Had it been a tele-marketer, I probably would've lost it and cussed them out, but it was the Reege, and if you saw the show you saw the rest. I had a stopwatch with me to keep track of our allotted 30 seconds. When I read the question and the potential answers, my housemate Nina (not a quiz bowler...none of us had a clue!) immediately said Peru, and said she was 100% sure. As you could probably hear, I prodded her a couple of times to make sure that she was 100% sure, and asked if anyone else knew it. No one did, so as the time ran down I told Dave that it was 100%. Then they switched me over to a different line where I could hear what was going on, and after Dave had given the answer and won the money, we got cut off. It must have been very surreal for everyone else gathered around me because I was the only who could hear what was happening...all they knew was what I was telling them.

Nina said that she knew the answer because her younger sister had been in a play in elementary school about Paddington, and when she dug up the script after a trip back home and showed it to us, I wasn't surprised that she the first few pages, about every other line was about how Paddington was from Peru!

Only in America, eh? A million bucks for knowing where Paddington is from. Or, as I said just after getting off the phone with Regis, a million bucks for calling someone who knew someone who knew where Paddington was from.

July 14, 2000
7:37 AM EDT

A strong day of work today rounded out an outstanding first week with the new two anchor format at WSAZ. My news director, Ken Selvaggi, wrote me this encouraging note:

"Good work this week! You've handled the situation like a pro! Ken"

Is that great or what? That kind of positive encouragement inspires me to work even harder and give my best. Everyone craves appreciation, and Ken is an excellent motivator. He tells it straight up -- if there's something he doesn't like he'll let you know -- but he's also very good about giving out praise. That sort of thing is why I'm so happy to work at WSAZ.

Had another "What, you're only 22???" conversation today, this time with our new co-anchor, Melanie Shafer. It's funny, as someone will bring up a reference that's a bit before my time or a commercial that was on TV from before I can remember and when I say I've never heard of it that gets people asking how old I am. But there's a reason I try to dress well at work, even on the night shift. Besides just the whole "outfit influences attitude" thing, I think it's important to come across as a professional in all aspects of my job -- even if it's just me, Bob the custodian and whomever's in master control in the building at 2:30 AM. I'm all about giving 100%.

I missed Big Brother last night on CBS, and really the whole 5 nights a week thing is a bit too much for me. For shows like WWF Raw or Survivor I'll make a special effort to tune in or tape it, but five nights a week for a show seems excessive. Even for like Who Wants to be a Millionaire.

Speaking of Millionaire, it turns out that my old friend Haggai Elitzur was a lifeline for a guy who won the million on Tuesday. Haggai is in grad school up at Michigan, and I guess he and the new millionaire became friends while at Michigan. I haven't heard back from Haggai on e-mail yet, but I want to hear details (and see if I can somehow get a copy of the tape).

Another paycheck today, which means I'm that much closer to having enough for my new computer. Ahh yeah.

July 13, 2000
9:20 AM EDT

After doing a little analysis on the voting on Survivor over on the website, I realized that I neglected to include Rudy in the Tagi voting clique (with Rich, Sue and Kelly). But Richard said two weeks ago, I believe, that he felt that Rudy would manage to alientate himself, and it seems to me that Rudy is the weakest linked of the four in the Tagi coalition. They teased that Jenna might be given the heave-ho in the next episode, but it would seem to me that the Tali clique would go after someone stronger from Pagong. Perhaps it will be Colleen, but whatever the case it seems to me that so long as the clique stays together, they will be there at the end. This morning Gretchen on the CBS Early Show tried to defend her unwillingness to go with a clique, which should be all you need to know about why she got "outplayed". Incidentally, how about the new tribe name: Rattana. I kinda like it.

This morning at work I scheduled the majority of my remaining days off for the year. The only time off (besides when I was sick 2 weeks ago) I've had was when I went to Mardi Gras, so that means that I have 7 vacation days, 2 personal days (which must be taken by Oct. 1) and my birthday to take off between now and Dec. 28, my one year anniversary. Assuming I get the days off I want, that would mean Thursday, August 24 (my birthday) and Friday, August 25 (making it a 4 day weekend) would be my next upcoming time off. From there I'm hoping to take off every Friday in September (except possibly the 29th), then a couple days bookended around a weekend in October to visit my bro down at Mississippi State. That would leave me a couple of vacation days in the kitty in case I end up going out to Colorado right after Christmas with my parents and brother and sister for this huge family gathering thing that's scheduled for out there. If I can get Christmas off, I might be able to parlay my end of the year vacation time just right to maximize my time off and still leave enough time off in the pot for 2001 to go visit my brother in England next summer when he plans on studying abroad. Of course there's always the consideration of how long I'll be staying in Huntington at WSAZ, but I'll worry about that down the road. I don't know if Emmis Broadcasting (which is set to purchase us from Lee Enterprises in October) will give personal days and birthdays off and what not, but I'll find out soon enough.

July 12, 2000
9:01 PM EDT

"And I'm feeling the strain, ain't it a shame?"
-Dobie Gray "Drift Away"

Nothing like some sleep to get me feeling better. Not that I was feeling bad per se, but just tired from interrupted and insufficient sleep. But a solid 8 1/2 hours of sleep has me back on track.

The feedback about the new Sunrise/Today newscast has been overwhelmingly positive. Today's newscast was especially strong, as beyond some first hour technical snafus it was probably our best one yet. I think only the double live shot in the snow that we had back in February rivals what we did today, and it's only up from here. It's funny how people seem to be taken aback at the fact that I'm only 22 (I turn 23 next month), and I've had several people tell me in recent days that they see me going places big time in the TV business. Eventually I can see myself being a news director, and hopefully ultimately a station manager. But as for now, I'm happy to be the best morning news producer I can be and work for a great station like WSAZ.

I just watched the latest episode of Survivor, and more than ever I'm convinced that Richard is the favorite. The Rich/Sue/Kelly voting alliance picked off Gretchen, and with the splintering of votes among the other tribe members, it would take a surprising alliance down the stretch to stop the momentum that Richard and company have. And meanwhile, Gervase's charisma continues to carry him, which is amazing but a tribute once again to the role personality and interaction plays within the game.

The Mix CD that my bro made for me has been getting some major spin time in my CD player. As I type this, "Feels So Good" by Sonique is playing. Some of the songs on there carry with them the emotions and memories of the past that for me are connected with them, but that's the power of music for you. For example, the song "Drift Away" by Dobie Gray always reminds me of this one time when I was playing high school football when some of my friends and I were riding in Jeff Luna's car and that song came on the radio. Other songs, like "Shimmer" by Fuel carry some thoughts and memories of sadder times, though time plays an important role in diminshing the pain of the sadness.

Matt (my bro) also brought up the autobiographies of The Rock (Dwayne Johnson) and Mankind (Mick Foley) from the WWF. He told me to read The Rock's first as it would be a disappointment to read it after Mankind's. The stories about the early days in The Rock's book was interesting to read, though the in-character stuff was just ridiculous. So far I'm about four chapters into the Mankind autobiography, and it's gold. I can actually relate to a lot of what he says, and the inside jokes about pro wrestling have been cracking me up (including the line about his friends' acting performance making Pete Gas look like Sir Lawrence Oliver).

How about Derek Jeter getting the All-Star game MVP? It shocked me that he was the first New York Yankee to ever win the award. Don't count the Yankees out yet in the pennant chase, either -- they just today traded for Danny Neagle to shore up some of their pitching needs. With Cincinnati shipping off Neagle, does that mean that the Reds are about to throw in the towel on this season?

July 11, 2000
8:38 AM EDT

I'm pretty much exhausted right now. Matt and I hung out and played some tennis yesterday before he left town (in the sweltering heat of midday July). It was great to get to visit with my bro, and we made plans for me to go visit him down at Mississippi State in October on the weekend of the Auburn game. Should be good.

Work today was good but a bit chaotic. Between breaking news, a live shot, timing issues etc., it was a challenge. But all in all, it turned out well. I have the great fortune to work with some talented, hard-working people at WSAZ.

July 10, 2000
7:34 AM EDT

Lots to talk about since the last update. First of all, the new dual anchor show at WSAZ was a rousing success this morning! I went in a half hour early just to make sure that everything would go according to plan, and I don't think I could have hoped for anything better than how it all went down. Melanie Shafer is an excellent addition to our staff, and she and Rob Johnson already display good rapport after just one newscast.

Plus I felt the adrenaline rush today during the newscast, that excitement of producing that drew me into the profession, the thrill of pulling off a challenging and difficult task. I love my job.

To recap the past 48 hours, on Saturday my bro Matt and I went back to Sharkey's, and from there we were going to go to Gyrations but instead ended up at The Drink, which was a good thing. The Drink is a converted flower shop that is now a bar, and it's definately been the most fun scene that I've found here in Huntington.

My sleep schedule gets thrown out of whack when people come to visit, which is the downside of my bizarro schedule. On Sunday Matt and I went over to Dave Kinder's house for a cookout that he was having. Dave is my editor at WSAZ, and it was a fun time, though by the time Matt and I left at about 5 PM sleep deprivation was kicking in big time. I ended up sleeping for about 2 1/2 hours then getting up and getting ready for the big newscast debut. So at this point I'm pretty tired, but Matt and I are going to go play tennis this morning before he leaves down. I can sleep later.

Also yesterday I broke out my pics from Mardi Gras. There were some really good ones in there, including a picture of this one girl who went absolutely wild for me on one of the floats. I mean it was crazy and very memorable, she was going crazy throwing me just a ton of beads and going wild for me. Some of my friends around me were giving me props for it, and I remember saying how I hoped the picture turned out, which luckily it did. Well anyway Matt was looking through the pictures, and he gets to that one and stops and says "Those are the people from The Real World!" I was like what?!? But sure enough I looked, and it really looks like it's Julie and Matt from Real World - New Orleans. It would have been right at the time that they were down there filming it, so it's entirely possible. I wish I had a scanner so I could put it on here. But whenever they get to the Mardi Gras part on Real World I guess I'll find out for sure if it's them (though it sure looks like it is). I remember wishing that I could find out who that girl on the float was, and lo and behold it looks like I have. How bizarre!

July 8, 2000
9:52 AM EDT

First off, let me wish a happy birthday to my mom and dad! They both have the same birthday, how wild is that? So happy birthday mom and dad, hope you two enjoy it. Last night was a fun time, as I got to hang out with Matt and catch up on old times. We went to Applebee's (where we had this unbelievably good waitress named Laura) and from there we ended up meeting some people over at Sharkey's, which is a bar that's close to my apartment. It was fun. Unfortunately trying to switch from vampire sleeping habits to normal is difficult, so he's still asleep while I've been up for awhile.

Matt brought some stuff from home, including a Mix CD that I've been looking forward to for months. Everything from "Feels So Good" by Sonique to "You Only Get What You Give" by the New Radicals. It's great!

It's too bad that Andre Agassi lost yesterday at Wimbledon -- an Agassi/Sampris finals would have been pretty sweet. Oh well.

Indianapolis Colts RB Fred Lane was shot and killed in Charlotte on Thursday. I mention this because Lane played his high school ball at Franklin High School. We never played against him when I was at Father Ryan, as his last season there was 1992 and we didn't start playing Franklin until 1993. But it's a real tragedy. Also, race car driver Kenny Irwin died on Friday in a wreck during qualifying for this weekend's NASCAR race. There's so much tragedy in auto racing -- I think that only pro wrestling comes close to matching their death rate.

July 7, 2000
7:21 AM EDT

"The simple things are far too complicated for my life"
-No Doubt "Simple Kind of Life"

My weekend has begun.. well sort of. I'll be back at work at 10 AM to do some rehersing for this Monday, when Melanie Shafer makes her return to WSAZ after spending four years anchoring the morning news at WTAE in Pittsburgh. There's some nervous excitement about the new setup -- Melanie is a total pro and I think having two anchors will improve our newscast tremendously. I just want everything to go well and I anticipate a few challenges in getting everything to work just right at first. But that's why we have rehersals, so we can get the kinks worked out and all.

Tom McGee has been terminated from WOWK. It will be interesting to see if that has any effect on the July "sweeps" ratings.

I talked with my parents and my little bro last night for about an hour. I may end up going out to Denver and Fort Collins after Christmas for a mega family vacation of skiing and fun. That will be great, assuming that I can get the time off. Plus Matt and I discussed plans for the weekend.

When it comes to music, until I get my new computer my ability to listen to a wide variety (via Napster, Gnutella etc.) is limited, but I've got to say that my favorite song of the year thus far is "Bent" by Matchbox 20. Great tune. Some people trash a band if they get too "popular", but when I really dig a tune I don't care who it is. Hell, I bought a Toby Keith single of "I'm So Happy (That I Can't Stop Cryin')" a couple years back, and I usually don't like country at all.

July 6, 2000
11:43 AM EDT

Congratulations to David Aldrich and Stephanie Dusek, who today announced their engagement. I work with both of them at WSAZ, and I wish them both the very best. David tells me that the wedding is set for October.

July 6, 2000
7:58 AM EDT

Only one day until the weekend for me, which will be cool as my bro Matt is coming up to Huntington to visit for the weekend. I was wrong in what I wrote before -- I saw him down at Mardi Gras in New Orleans in March, so I have seen him since Christmas. But that was just a few drunken hours down in the French Quarter, so it'll be cool to get to see him again. Actually the story of that night is memorable. When it was time to go, we made our way back from Bourbon Street, and we were supposed to meet my friend Mike Miller outside the Orkin building. Mike was such a cool host down there at Mardi Gras, and he was generous enough to come back and pick us up that night even though he didn't want to get out in the Mardi Gras madness himself that evening. Anyway, my bro and I ended up forgetting what street we were looking for, so there we were wandering around New Orleans desperately looking for the rendez-vous point. From there this guy who said he was from The Citadel ended up talking with us, wanting to get a ride to the other side of the river or some nonsense like that. He ended up following us around, which was a bit strange. Finally we talked to a cabbie who told us where to go, and we left the Citadel guy to get wherever he was going. But that wild night was the last time I saw my bro.

Another thing I can't believe I forgot yesterday is the story of PETA petitioning the Green Bay Packers to change their name! Their utterly ludicrous claim was that because the name Packers seems to support the meat-packing industry, it should be changed, and they recommended that they change their name to the "Pickers". I swear I couldn't make something like that up if I tried. Unbelievable.

I watched Big Brother last night and was underwhelmed, though I think it was because the show featured the two hosts who were trying too hard to act "hip" or what not. Once we get into the lives of the people involved, I feel it will get much better. I got on the Big Brother website and was able to watch/listen to the people inside the house live. Talk about compelling! It was very interesting to hear them interact, and there was a bit of a voyeuristic thrill that I imagine will make this very enticing for people watching over the Internet. It got boring when they went to sleep (though I imagine people will watch that as well), but the feeling of being able to seemingly eavesdrop on everyone is very unique. It will likely get even more interesting once the characters become established through the Big Brother TV show and then you can see how they're doing whenever you want. It's a great concept.

Survivor last night was another interesting episode. Richard and Sue are still my favorites to win, with Richard being ahead on that. Some people like Gretchen, but her unwillingness to form a voting alliance makes me think that she will fall by the wasteside. Richard's flub on the reward challenge (accidentally bringing back a second knife) might hurt him, but I still think he'll be there in the end. Gervase has some mad charisma going on -- I mean he said that women are dumber than cows, then somehow managed to pass the heat for that statement off to Joel. I don't think that Gervase will be there by the end, but his ability to survive for so long while doing so little says volumes about what role personality plays in the show. B.B. had tons of work ethic and knowledge, but his attitude and bossy style made him an easy target. What will be intriguing is seeing how Rudy is accepted when the two tribes merge. Pagong and Tagi will likely feel tribal unity to a certain extent in the early voting.

Last night the syndicated Seinfeld was "The Contest", which is arguably the best episode ever of that show. Overlooking the tragic aspects of JFK Jr's death, at the time it aired it was utterly brilliant and is still great to watch years later, even after having seen it several times. If there's one thing that Seinfeld really nailed, it was being able to articulately display the wide array of emotions and thoughts of real people, particularly within the confines of network censors and what not. The Larry David years of the show (i.e. all but the forgettable last two seasons) were outstanding, and the middle few seasons belong among the list of the all-time great TV shows.

I have to go back in to work at 10 AM this morning for a rehersal (the details of which I cannot go into at this time). It involved the morning newscast I produce, but I can't elaborate, at least not now.

I also need to get a haircut today. I found a good barber shop real close to Marshall's campus. It's funny, I found them by chance when I first moved to town and it turned out that they were great. I'm not sure if they open at 9 or 10 AM, but it'd be perfect to swing in there for a quick haircut before I have to get back to work.

All the rain we've had in Huntington lately has kept me from playing much tennis at all. Hopefully this weekend will allow for some tennis time. I'll have to remind Matt to bring one of dad's tennis rackets from home so we can play at some point. Later.

July 5, 2000
9:25 AM EDT

Another holiday, another paycheck. I worked the 4th of July over at WSAZ, which was just fine by me. As a relatively new employee I know it's my role to work most holidays, plus I get to be the beneficiary of what's known as holiday pay. For doing the same work, I get double the cash. Works for me. Actually, from a producing standpoint today (the 5th) was much more challenging than the 4th was. The reason? Most of the stories last night that ran on the 11 PM news were 4th of July related in some way, but now it's July 5th so people are finished with Independence Day. So the challenge for me becomes filling two hours of news under those circumstances. Also, with there being a skeleton crew in on the holiday and no "Charleston split" (we do a split newscast at 6 and 11 PM where we split off and do Charleston-local news on the Charleston cable) there was much less news to feed off of today than there was yesterday. But I don't mind having my skills put to the test or being challenged.

Unfortunately that meant that I had to miss out on the big 4th of July family get-together at my uncle Bob's house in Tennessee. It would have been nice to get to go, though they understand me not being able to come for it, with me being 6 hours away in West Virginia and all. I got to go last year, but two years ago I also had to work, doing a rare reporting gig for News 25 (at a big debate between Gail Riecken and John Hostettler). What's tragic about that from 1998 was that if I had gone it would have given me one more chance to see my 16 year old cousin Michael Barnes, who died just a few weeks after that in a car crash. I miss Michael -- he was a really good guy. Even two years later it still seems weird to talk about him in a past tense, as if somehow because I'm not home that much anymore it could be that I've just missed seeing him or something. I wish it could be that easy. We all miss you Michael.

I listed on here awhile back some of my favorite television shows, and another I have to add to the list is Survivor. What a compelling broadcast! It will be interesting to see if CBS can match the level of interest with their new show "Big Brother" that debuts tonight. I tend to be really possessive of personal space and time to myself and there's no way I could last on a show like Big Brother. But the concept itself is intriguing, not to mention the extra dimension of being able to watch 24 hours a day on the Internet through CBS' website. When it comes to website promotion, CBS has hit a home run, much like ABC did in drawing people to their webpage when Who Wants to be a Millionaire had so much success and people could go to the ABC page to play the game themselves on-line. But back to Survivor, it is a captivating show, and it will be interesting to see how it pans out. My money at this point is on Richard winning it all, because he's very much a strategist and a planner about things. Without knowing exactly how the end game works it's hard to know for sure; Sue might end up with a shot at it if her big mouth doesn't stop her. But notice right there the beauty of the show -- you identify with individuals and personalities and it makes it compelling. I like The Real World for that very reason (though there are many things to dislike about Real World as well). My friend Glenn pointed out a few years back that there's nothing "real" about The Real World -- in real life people stay mad at either other instead of sitting down and talking it out in front of a camera, etc. And my friend Julie in DC told me that they brought some of the cast of a former Real World there to talk to students at George Washington (where she goes to school) and that they sounded like total idiots without the MTV video editors there to soundbyte them into coherent thought.

How ridiculous is PETA? That's People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. They've been complaining about CBS' Survivor because the people on the show had to eat rats, and now they're mad because they had chickens on the show last week and named them "Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner." When the movie The Shawshank Redemption was filmed, PETA wouldn't let them film a scene where Jake (the bird) is fed a worm until they found a worm that had died of natural causes to use in the part. I swear I'm not making that up. What a bunch of communists. I mean it's one thing to not want to torture animals needlessly, I can understand that, but when it's part of the food chain that crosses the line for me. Of course it strikes me as ironic that someone who is pro-choice can be in PETA. But then again it also strikes me as ironic when someone is pro-choice yet against recreational drugs or drinking. I mean if you're going to defend a woman's right to do what she wants with her body fine, I totally respect your opinion and freedom to think that, but by god let's have some consistancy about it. I'm all about freedom of the individual so long as you're not harming anybody else (and that's where the abortion debate gets heated because of the question of when life begins etc. But I don't want to yack about that on here.), but c'mon let's use some consistant thinking please.

The WWF has signed a major deal with CBS/Viacom, which means their programming will move from the USA network to TNN and MTV. Here's hoping that USA signs Extreme Championship Wrestling, which gets bumped from TNN in September.

My little bro Matt should be coming up this weekend, unless circumstances lead to me going to Nashville. Either way I'll get to see him, which will be great, as I haven't seen Matt since Christmas. I left Nashville on December 27th to move up to Huntington (after watching the Titans/Jaguars game in Nashville the day before) and I haven't been back since. In fact, with the exception of my trip to Mardi Gras in March, I haven't been out of the Huntington/Charleston region here at all.

Almost forgot -- another show I really like is The Lyricist's Lounge Show on MTV. Great sketch comedy with a hip hop flavor. They have some really creative writers and actors on there. Wordsworth and Master Fuol are my two favorites on there. The skits where they rap all the words are pure brilliance.

I finally hung some posters up around my apartment. For the longest time the place was pretty bare as far as stuff hanging up, so I went out to Wal-Mart and bought some putty material and hung up my posters. Now Stone Cold Steve Austin and the Blues Brothers are up along with the others. I have some framed Guinness posters that I bought at the Guinness brewery that I still need to get my landlord to help me hang up (I'm not allowed to nail anything up here -- it's in my lease and everything).

I sit down to write and then time gets away from me. It's 10:17 AM and way past my bedtime. No wonder I only did one update all of last month. Later.

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