Full-time job

December 26, 2007

Tuesday was a rare day in the Daily News newsroom. Unlike virtually every other day of the year, the gathering place for the paper’s reporters, photographers and editors was empty. It was, of course, Christmas, and no paper was published that day.

The newspaper business does not lend itself to days off. Next week, for example, a small crew of reporters, photographers and editors will be on hand every day, despite the New Year’s holiday.

News of course knows no schedule. That’s why photo editor Joe Imel and reporter Burt Speakman were up at 1 a.m. on a recent Thursday, covering the shooting death of a Bowling Green man.

Such schedules and dedication are of course needed to ensure that we can provide our readers with the latest news and information.


A ‘War’ worth fighting

December 21, 2007

One of the cool things about being the film critic for the Daily News is that I sometimes get a chance to venture out for late night screenings of films that are about to open in Bowling Green. Late Thursday night, I did just that when I attended the screening of the new Tom Hanks film “Charlie Wilson’s War.” Even though I sit at my desk a little weary-eyed this morning, I have to say it was worth it.

“War” may not be the year-end award winner it aspires to be, but it is still an entertaining political comedy that is worth your time.”War” is based on the true story of Charlie Wilson (Hanks), a Texas congressman who was responsible for the covert assistance of Afghanistan during its fight against the Soviet Union in the 1980’s. Wilson manages to bring together some unlikely allies – a Texas socialite (Julia Roberts), a renegade CIA agent (Philip Seymour Hoffman) and the President of Pakistan (Om Puri) – to help assist in a war that eventually signaled the beginning of the end of the Cold War.

This is a film that truly understands the back-room underbelly of Washington politics and “Charlie Wilson” is at its best when the congressman is trying to get the funds needed to aid in the Afghan cause. Hanks has a lot of fun as the womanizing Wilson, while Hoffman continues to build on a great year with a performance that is delightfully off-center. Roberts doesn’t really bring much to the film outside of an ‘A’ list star and I really wish director Mike Nichols wouldn’t have felt like he had to rush through the final act to get to the payoff. Still, this is a film that is entertaining and enlightening. I’d give “Charlie Wilson’s War,” which opened Friday at the Great Escape 12 and Highland Cinemas in Glasgow a solid B. 


The small joys of work

December 21, 2007

Journalism can be an interesting job. Reporters get to talk to a diverse array of people every day; photographers get to frame the way things are remembered for years to come. Editors, on the other hand, well, we sit behind a computer screen for 40 hours a week.

desktop

There is, however, some joy to be had in that, and a big one for me is that I get to see everything. Well, I guess not everything, but a whole lot more than you. This is what I look at on a daily basis (click it):

There’s the national wire, the state wire, the sports wire, the entertainment wire… and this is only half of it. If I’m bored, I can read about whatever I want, a lot of which doesn’t make it into the paper simply because there’s not enough room. The same goes for pictures: If an Associated Press photographer saw it, I can see it; anything that’s available if there for me to peep at the click of a mouse. Some of the pics are breathtaking, some are bizarre… and sometimes there’s something that just makes me laugh. I share with you the pic of the day:

I wish someone had shown this to me sooner… the poor litle guy is still traumatized every time I suggest we take a stroll.

 


Woe, Canada

December 19, 2007

london1.jpg

David W. Smith/ Daily News
Players from London Christian, a high school basketball team from Canada listen to an abbreviated version of their national anthem before a tournament game against Edmonson County Tuesday.

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David<br /> W. SmithI got to cover an international assignment of sorts Tuesday.

It wasn’t overseas, but I had to travel to Edmonson County to get there and figured I crossed over a couple rivers on the way.

At the Rafferty’s Caveland Classic Basketball Tournament in Brownsville Tuesday there was a team from north of the border. And they were even generating some excitement before the game.

“I heard they are in their off-season, like summertime,” one local speculated of the high school hoopsters from London, Canada.

“I heard they are really fast, ” was overhead from another in a restroom conversation.

Even though they came from the homeland of two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash and even with the inventor of the game Dr. James Naismith hailing from there, little is known about basketball in Canada.

London Christian, a small private school from the Western part of the province of Ontario, was set take on the hosts of the tournament, the Edmonson County high school squad.

The gym was abuzz with excitement before the match and a good-sized crowd started to fill the bleachers.

The scorers table looked confused and struggled with the pronunciation of the players names but with help of a team manager eventually figured it all out.

In a very friendly gesture, the organizers announced they would play the national anthem of Canada followed by the Star Spangled banner.

As the music started to play the Canadian players seemed surprised and pleased.

Some of them even started to sing…..

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

The Canadian players watching the bleachers of American fans across from them, put their hands over their hearts, though awkwardly and some held closed hands to their chests.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

I started to croon a bit myself, being Canadian and not having the chance to sing my national anthem often in Kentucky, let alone in Edmonson County. It was a nice warm feeling….

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

and on to the final verse both players and photographer sang……

O Canada, we ……

What the heck? It stopped…..the music stopped before the final verse…..the crowd applauded…I don’t think they knew it

wasn’t finished yet. (I hope they weren’t applauding because the lack of music had stopped my singing) I wondered if they downloaded the song from Napster or something and didn’t get the full version.

The players looked at each other, a little confused maybe. And then they did what any red-blooded, patriotic Canuck would do when someone messed up their national anthem. They laughed. A lot.

It was a honest mistake. No harm, no foul.

After the full version of the American national anthem it was on to the game.

The visitors from the Great White North staked an early lead against their Bluegrass hosts but it didn’t last long and the Christians from London were fed to the lions or in this case the Wildcats and lost by a huge margin. It wasn’t a physically rough game and players from both countries shook hands after it was over and there was Peace on Earth. Well at least in Brownsville.

-30-


Little of this, little of that

December 19, 2007

We must know what our readers want when deciding what stories to include in our paper each day.

For the most part, inside wire story decisions are mine, though they are sometimes modified by the managing editor or by an alert editor or reporter who sees something wrongfully excluded.

In today’s paper (Wednesday, Dec. 19), for example, after including the hard news of the day that had to be included, I was able to budget what we in the industry call “reader” stories. That’s a loose term that essentially means stories that are about a topic that might not be addressed every day or one that provides insight into our life or culture that is, frankly, “interesting” copy.

Good reader stories from the wire today: “Navy saves teen on cruise ship.” “Kinder, gentler divorces … lawyers and clients collaborate on amicable separations.”

Many of the rest of today’s wire stories were hard news, stories that needed to be published to keep us aware of national and world news events. But when space allows, we provide some spice.

Another brief “reader” item from Page 2: “Bride in a toilet dress planning to tie the knot in public restroom.”


A cautious view to housing

December 13, 2007

There is plenty of housing news to fill our coffers and there will be for some time. What is going on in the housing industry right now isn’t going away, at least until the market corrects itself, according to many of my sources.

But you would be surprised how much our area is insulated from many of the problems associated with the market, though we are believed to see indirect effects from the credit and mortgage crunch by the way of decreased spending and falling home values. Jim Gaines’ article in the Daily News shows local leaders already anticipate problems and hope to get people help before they get into foreclosure.

The indirect effects still don’t stop local builders and Realtors from telling me it’s the “best time to buy a house.” I guess you can say that regardless of what the circumstances really are, folks, but I’m a skeptic, especially when I think about how much our local market is saturated with inventory.

I truly wonder to what extent people feel “stuck” with a home, instead of actually “living” in it.

Though our region isn’t seeing the over-inflated price increases found in areas like Florida, California and elsewhere, the fact that your credit score has to be 600 or better these days to buy a car, home or otherwise, sends a message to consumers.

Talking with Don Spry, a branch manager of Bowling Green’s office of Reserve Mortgage Investments, the mortgage crisis also creates issues for those who are self-employed he said.

For instance, truck drivers who are self-employed make great money, but more often than not, Spry said some write off so many expenses that they can’t prove that they’re making the money to refinance their home.

Such 1099-holders as they are called fall into the trap because lenders are looking at their adjusted gross income when its refinance time.

A truck driver may make $100,000 in income, but write off $80,000 in expenses, Spry said, exploiting schedule C of the tax filing, showing an adjusted gross income of $20,000.

As a result, the ratios used to determine affordability make it difficult for lenders to refinance when the numbers show the person can’t really be in a home.

“There’s no income there, they’re making good money, but they’re not claming it,” Spry said.

Spry said he tells a lot of people in those situation to file taxes for two years to show their income, show exactly what they make and not exploit their expenses.

“A lot of self-employed people just won’t do it,” he contends, adding that “a lot of them know they have the income but don’t want to pay the taxes.”


New school, new look

December 12, 2007

The Bowling Green Indpendent School District Board of Education approved a design for the new T.C. Cherry Elementary School at its meeting Monday. Here is a rendering of the front of the new school as conceputalized by Ross Tarrant Architects.
TC Cherry

And this is an architectural rendering of Potter Gray Elementary School, which is undergoing major renovations that district officials hope will be completed by fall, 2008.
Potter Gray