Getting a shot of the shot…

March 23, 2008

It is just about 20 minutes before the WKU UCSD game here in Tampa and like a player I have pre-game nerves. Ty Rogers amazing shot in the first game at the buzzer is still fresh in my mind even though the game is long over. It was one of the most nerve-wracking sporting events I have ever shot.

I was pretty fortunate to get a picture of Ty Rogers shot. I tried to follow the play as it came up the court and the time winded down. Usually you can predict what is going to happen and in this case I didn’t think he would be the one to get the ball for the last second shot. It was far away when he got the ball and the referee blocked my view momentarily. I was pretty aware of the time left and after I saw he shot I immediately swung my camera to the bench which was pretty close to my right thinking it would be a dejection shot of the Western players.

It was a shock to see them celebrating!

Rogers and the team ran out and went celebrating on the far side of the court. I almost ran out onto the court like I did during the Sun Belt victory but quickly remembered the NCAA rules forbidding it, so I never got pictures of him pointing to the heavens  and being thankful to God for his historical score.

I noticed he was pointing upwards with two fingers later, I like to think he was being thankful for his shot, and my shot, of him.

I guess I should have more faith and more faith in Ty Rogers too.

I hope we don’t need too many more miracles this game and it is decided early because right now my nerves are the only thing shot.


MOVIES: Live Oscar Thoughts

February 24, 2008

There’s always something exciting about Oscar day. The anticipation kind of makes it like the Super Bowl for movie lovers. With a strike shortened award season, this year’s event should be a lot of fun.

 As the Red Carpet is flooded with nominees and ‘A’ List celebrities, the moment of the night may have just taken place.

On the ‘E’ Channel, Ryan Seacrest was about to interview Jennifer Garner and Laura Linney when Gary Busey came in and proceeded to scare the daylights out of Seacrest and the ladies. All I can say for Busey is perhaps he should skip the ceremony and head straight to Celebrity Rehab.

It was one of the most awkward moments I can ever recall on a red carpet and I’m sure it’s going to be replayed for years to come. It is also the perfect example of why this whole red carpet process makes for fascinating television. 

 And the awards begin with a few surprises.

First they skipped a big award and went to Costumes, which went to Elizabeth: The Golden Age. I will admit the costumes were probably the best thing about Elizabeth, but I really thought Atonement, La Vie En Rose or even Sweeney Todd was more deserving.

Animated Feature (Ratatouille) and Make-up (La Vie En Rose) go as expected, but Golden Compass just upset Transformers for Visual Effects. With Compass and Elizabeth already getting awards, I guess that means its OK to be mediocre.

Sweeney Todd wins Art Direction, a category that seemed to be a shoo-in for There Will Be Blood. That’s not a good sign if you are hoping for Blood for a Best Picture upset.

As expected Bardem takes Best Supporting Actor.

It looks like they are spreading out the major awards this year, like they did last year, and are speeding through the technical awards.

Now that the Animated and Live Action shorts are out of the way, most people will return to their living rooms. My picks were just guesses, like anyone else doing an Oscar pool, so I admit I lucked into both picks. That being said, it’s pretty sad when I’m doing better at forecasting in the categories where I haven’t seen any of the nominees.

The most wide open category entering the night goes to Tilda Swinton. It looks like that last minute buzz was true. This will probably be the consolation prize for Michael Clayton. I was pulling for Amy Ryan, but Swinton’s win is pretty deserving too.

The Coen brothers win the first of what should be at least three awards, taking home Adapted Screenplay.

Poor Amy Adams. She has to sing Happy Working Song without any fanfare and then watch someone else sing That’s How You Know with a full cast of dancers. I’m anxiously waiting for Falling Slowly from Once.

They just announced Best Actress is about to be presented, so they really are spreading it out this year.

Knocked Up’s Seth Rogan and Jonah Hill add a little humor to Sound Editing and Sound Mixing. Both awards go to The Bourne Ultimatum, giving Bourne a shot to win three technical awards if it takes Editing as well.

Best Actress goes to Marion Cotillard, continuing the trend of awarding mediocre films. No offense to Cotillard, who was very good, but her performance was the only thing that made La Vie En Rose watchable. That could be the worst Best Actress winner since Jessica Lange won for Blue Sky.

That being said rentals for Rose should skyrocket in the next few days.

If you took Bourne Ultimatum as the nights big winner in your pool you are looking good in your pool. Bourne just picked up its third award of the night for Editing, denying everyone a chance to see who would accept the award if No County won. The Coens edited the film, but used an alias in the final credits.

Once gets its just award, Best Original Song. This almost makes up for Cotillard – almost. Glen Hansard gives a speech, ABC goes to commercial, and comes back with Stewart allowing co-winner Marketa Irglova a chance to say thanks as well.  Irglova’s speech proves to be one of the most elegant of the night.

There Will Be Blood finally gets on the board with Best Cinematography.

Watching the list of people who passed away in the last year, it’s still hard to believe Heath Ledger is dead.

Atonement gets on the board with Best Original Score.

Six awards left, beginning with Documentary Feature and Short.

Freeheld gets Short, while Taxi to the Darkside upsets No End in Sight for Feature. You have to give the Academy credit, they have certainly been unpredictable this year.

Diablo Cody, former exotic dancer turned screenwriter, is now an Oscar winner – taking home Best Original Screenplay. If Juno was going to win anything, it had to be screenplay. The dialogue was the sharpest and freshest of any film in 2007.

At least the Academy got Best Actor right. Daniel Day-Lewis wins for There Will Be Blood. Lewis thanks writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson (who should win director, but won’t). As humble as Lewis is, it is hard to believe that he could be capable of creating a character like Daniel Plainview. That’s why he may be one of the best living actors today.

After winning Best Director, Joel and Ethan Coen might as well stay on the stage and accept Best Picture. On a night of surprises the final 30 minutes proves to be quite predictable.

The final tally is No Country for Old Men with four awards (all in the major categories), The Bourne Ultimatum with three awards, and There Will Be Blood and La Vie En Rose with two each. On a year full of quality, the Academy did a decent job of spreading the wealth.

Here is a list of winners

  •  Best Costume – Elizabeth: The Golden Age (I picked Atonement)
  • Animated Feature – Ratatouille
  • Makeup – La Vie En Rose
  • Visual Effects – The Golden Compass (I picked Transformers)
  • Art Direction – Sweeney Todd (I picked There Will Be Blood)
  • Supporting Actor – Javier Bardem
  • Live Action Short – Le Mozert Des Pickpockets
  • Animated Short – Peter and the Wolf
  • Best Supporting Actress – Tilda Swinton (I picked Cate Blanchett)
  • Adapted Screenplay – No Country For Old Men
  • Sound Editing – The Bourne Ultimatum (I picked Transformers)
  • Sound Mixing – The Bourne Ultimatum (I picked Transformers)
  • Actress – Marion Cotillard (I picked Julie Christie)
  • Editing – The Bourne Ultimatum (I picked No Country For Old Men)
  • Foreign Language – The Counterfeiters
  • Original Song – Falling Slowly from Once
  • Cinematography – There Will Be Blood
  • Original Score – Atonement (I picked Ratatouille)
  • Doc Short – Freeheld
  • Documentary – Taxi to the Dark Side (I picked No End In Sight)
  • Original Screenplay – Juno
  • Actor – Daniel Day-Lewis
  • Director – Joel and Ethan Coen
  • Picture – No Country For Old Men

The Votes have been Cast

January 23, 2008

Tuesday’s mock presidential election at Bowling Green High School (about which a story appears in today’s Daily News) featured more than just the question of who students and staff there want to see in the White House in 2009.

Preliminary results indicate that more people who participated in this mock election voted for Barack Obama than any of the other candidates in either major party, with the Illinois Democratic Senator nearly winning a majority among the 10 Democratic and Republican candidates.

BGHS literacy coach William King told me yesterday that whoever wins among the candidates in the mock election would likely stand to do well in the remaining primaries and the general election this November.

However, I am more interested for the purpose of this post in another question that was asked of BGHS voters:

If miracles could happen, which one of the following Presidents would you want to lead the nation in 2009?

The options presented included these former presidents:

Bill Clinton
Dwight Eisenhower
Thomas Jefferson
John F. Kennedy
Abraham Lincoln
Ronald Reagan
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt
George Washington

It’s a good historical exercise and I would be interested in learning whether a student’s preferred former president would be a good indicator of who that student would vote for in the general election on Nov. 4.

Since this won’t be asked of me or any other voters on the actual ballot this November, I feel comfortable pulling the proverbial lever on this issue.

Out of all the former presidents mentioned above, I would give FDR another shot at the White House.

Thinking of the rural Kentucky town in which I was raised, there are probably as many tangible reminders in Flemingsburg of FDR’s policies as there are of any other former president.

The building that served as my middle school and my parents’ high school was the product of the Works Progress Administration, the largest of the New Deal public works projects. The post office in my hometown features a mural on one of the inner walls painted during the Great Depression, part of a WPA art project. Of course, there is also a dwindling but passionate population of World War II veterans who for the most part are only too happy to offer their recollections of that time in history.

To think that so many of those things are still, several generations after the fact, a part of where I grew up makes me curious about how well FDR would fare in the modern world of presidential campaigning, how he would withstand the scrutiny of the 24-hour news cycle and how voters would react to the polio that disabled him (presuming it weren’t vaccinated, he could not possibly hide that particular disability in today’s world). Also, I’m curious about how he would govern under the two-term limit the Constitution set for presidents after he died in office during his fourth term.

Could he be as effective in eight years today as he was in 12 back in the 1930s and ’40s?

I’ll now open the polls to anyone reading this — of the former presidents listed above, who would you like to see come back for another chance at the White House?


Behind the AG/Chamber Story

January 16, 2008

 

When someone says, “This is not a story,” 95 percent of the time, it really is.

 

It’s appropriate to mention the randomness of the news cycle since writing about the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce’s committee restructuring 

 

I was at my desk one morning and someone called me to tell me the agribusiness committee was being taken off the table and that person explained why that wasn’t a good thing – and so my search for what was going on began. 

 

I talked to my editor to let him know I was walking down to the chamber – and low and behold when I arrived, people got nervous. Some wanted to talk and be all-smiles – others quickly walked by me to avoid having to discuss. Sounded like a story to me. 

 

It’s at these times that I hit the pavement a little bit harder to find out what is really going on. I don’t take sides but try to see what’s happening from both points of view. 

 

But when there are closed meetings – people will continue to question and ask even more what the intentions of any entity are- whether it is the chamber, city or county government. 

 

I have to talk to the chamber almost every day – obviously they’re one of my go-to sources, but when folks in the farm community called me to express disappointment, anger, and a few unmentionables – I listen – that’s my job, and they, too, are a trusted source. 

 

With that said, as the discussion continues about the chamber’s role in promoting and recognizing agriculture in Warren County and southcentral Kentucky as a whole, here’s a few Warren County agriculture statistics to think about:

 

—The 2002 Census shows the number of farms has decreased 8 percent from 1997, dropping from 2,048 to 1,881 farms. Despite the decrease, more cropland – about seven percent – has been harvested in that time. 

 

—Warren County ranks 12th in the state of Kentucky for its cash receipts for crops and livestock, which total almost $75 million, according to the Kentucky Agricultural Statistics and Annual Report for 2006-2007. 

 

—Warren County places 2nd in the state for its number of cattle and calves (69,800), and beef cows (34,500) as of Jan. 1, 2007, 6th for 2006 milk production (54,500), 4th for its barley for grain crop production (98,000 bushels), 3rd for its “all other hay” crop production (139,200 tons), and 5th for its wheat for grain crop production (almost 1.1 million bushels). 

 

Not to mention nearby Barren County’s state dominance for its livestock and dairy industry — the ag communities in Logan, Simpson, Todd and Hart are also worth mentioning. 

 

The Chambers of Commerce in both Louisville and Owensboro have agriculture-related committees, though they’re bigger cities and have more development that Bowling Green for now — but the whole situation with the chamber is wait-and-see. Ultimately, actions speak louder than words. 

 

One thing is for sure – I will be listening to readers and those in the community who have something to say about it all. 


Pfc. Gorham’s funeral – a wave of emotions

January 11, 2008

Justin Story

From the get-go, reporters are taught to approach the subjects on which they report with objectivity.

It’s not uncommon for readers to believe that a story expresses favoritism toward this or that side or that coverage of a particular issue has been unbalanced.

Sometimes they have a point and those criticisms can be especially helpful if the critical voices are able to provide information that adds context to a story.

Other times the criticism comes from the subject of a story who isn’t satisfied that he/she is coming off in a less than satisfactory light in the newspaper.

To throw out a hypothetical situation, if an elected official or anyone else entrusted with public money misuses those dollars, that person is not doing right by the public and we as reporters are obligated to make that bad behavior known. That is reporting at its most objective, in spite of any protestations to the contrary made by the public figure being examined.

If we’re able to verify information regarding misuse of public monies or some other kind of corruption, then it should be an easy call for a newsroom to print the facts as they are.

It’s more difficult to maintain the requisite objective distance of a journalist when covering an event in which emotions are laid bare.

Tuesday’s funeral for Pfc. Brian Gorham was an example of the latter.

I never knew Gorham, but in the process of covering his death, visitation, funeral service and burial, I couldn’t help being drawn in by the dozens of mourners crying or shaking their heads with regret over a life cut short, or in the case of his uncle, Charles Rigsby, expressing anger at a government he felt should have offered more protection for Gorham.

Two of the songs played at his service were “Tuesday’s Gone” by Lynyrd Skynyrd and Guns N’ Roses’ version of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” Those songs must have held great significance to Brian and his friends, and while they played, I observed a few mourners reach for the hand or the shoulder of the person sitting next to them, thinking perhaps of a treasured memory of Brian.

It might be a trivial observation to make, but the setting of the burial ceremony, at a small cemetery on the top of a hill outside a church in rural Simpson County, the whipping winds and the Army Guard members encircling the grave site, made for a picturesque scene to an outside observer. All those elements seemed to heighten the solemnity of the event and the grief of the mourners.

This is what I mean when I talk about how difficult it is to avoid getting caught up in the moment, but judging by the feedback I’ve received (more than any other event I’ve covered for the Daily News), this was a moment in which that kind of absorption was warranted.


Lost in Translation

January 7, 2008

Justin Story

Western Kentucky University experienced a setback last month in its trademark infringement case against Mediaset, an Italian media conglomerate owned by former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi.

The imbroglio over Mediaset’s use of Gabibbo, a furry red blob that looks awfully similar to WKU’s Big Red, will continue bouncing in the Italian court system, since Western and two other plaintiffs involved in the international licensing of Big Red intend to appeal.

The story about the Italian judge’s ruling that appeared in Sunday’s Daily News mentioned that representatives for Mediaset and “Striscia La Notizia”, a satirical TV news program that employs Big Red doppelganger Gabibbo did not return e-mail requests seeking comment.

Well, I have heard back from “Striscia La Notizia”. I asked a representative from the show last week in an e-mail to comment on the judge’s ruling and assess whether the show or its representatives believed the ruling would stand up to an appeal by Western.

The show’s response, sent apparently from Gabibbo him/her/itself, arrived in my inbox late Friday afternoon and is printed below in its entirety:

Ciao
grazie per il messaggio che ci hai cortesemente inviato.

Tutte le lettere indirizzate a Striscia vengono lette con attenzione, ma il
loro enorme numero non ci consente di rispondere a ciascuno personalmente.

Se ci sarà possibile, ci metteremo in contatto con te. In ogni caso ti
ringraziamo per esserti rivolto a noi.

La Redazione di Striscia.

Those more fluent in Italian than myself (i.e., everyone else in the world) are welcome to translate this response for me.

If I were to take a stab at it, though, it would appear to be an automated reply thanking me for my question and then telling me that the show believes my message is important and that it will be sent to the appropriate person for consideration. That person, if possible, will then contact me with a timely response.

If anyone representing Mediaset or “Striscia La Notizia” (which I’ve heard from different sources translates into either “Stripping the News” or “The News is Sneakin”) contacts me, I will post that response on this blog.

In the meantime, I invite everyone to compare Gabibbo and Big Red in these YouTube clips:

First, Big Red, appearing in a 1997 ESPN SportsCenter commercial:

Now, Gabibbo, apparently appearing in a skit on “Striscia La Notizia” and speaking in an upper-register Cookie Monster-ish voice:

Intrepid, web-savvy wrestling fans should also scour YouTube for a roughly 2-minute clip of Gabibbo challenging WWE superstar Batista. It’s a cultural clash that, unlike the court case, does not turn out so well for Gabibbo and includes many more comical sound effects.