Friday, December 31, 2004

Four, three, two, one. . .

Happy New Year, everybody! AW and I are taking it easy and looking forward to a great year.

I'm talking about tomorrow. I still have to get dressed and go to work today.

Thursday, December 30, 2004

Bless my Lucky Charms

Caught a break in the rain and had a relatively easy night.

Maybe it was luck from the rainbow. I snapped this from the freeway on my way to work. Well, I'm not going to worry today. I'll just see where my assignment takes me.

There's always a chance Manhatten Beach residents might get another visit from us tonight. We're expecting more rain. They got a kick out of us hanging around all day and night covering the rain flooded streets of their neighborhood. They told us, they don't usually get a lot of media attention.

I met a lot of people this year who would love to be so lucky.

Speaking of which, I'm giving some thought to my end of the year wrap up. I'll try to get it posted tomorrow or Saturday.

I hope you'll all beCool and beSafe over the next couple of days. I'm scheduled to run one of our SNG trucks on Colorado Boulevard tomorrow night for the CBS Las Vegas affiliate.

Think clear skies and dry spells for me. I know we'll find other news to cover if it doesn't rain on me any more this year.

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

You call this rain?

I'm a little soggy from playing in the rain for the last couple of days. I don't want to speak too lightly of the weather we've been having, our worst downpour is still pretty mild compared to nature's wrath in other parts of the globe. Keep in mind, I'm not comparing what I'm experiencing. I'm just sharing my watersoaked day.

Two nights ago, we had to travel to Camarillo for the good (bad) weather. Last night I spent part of my shift driving through the rain on the 10 Freeway and later along Pacific Coast Highway. Once we hit PCH, traffic was light. The rain had even let up for while. We stopped at Moonshadows restaurant and at the shopping center near Pepperdine University to look for elements of our story. The storm of the day was still in route down the coast, so we decided to head further North to meet it.

We reached Oxnard and Ventura and set up just off the sand along the beach near Pierpont Bay. It was dark and the thought of destruction caused by the tsunami this week did give me a bit of anxiety.

It might sound odd, but I wish I was heading over to cover what's going on in the aftermath of the Tsunami Disaster. I'm sure whatever I could do to help would be appreciated, but I don't kid myself by believing anything I could do would be more than a drop in the bucket.

If I were a doctor, I'd treat the sick. If I were a carpenter, I'd build shelters. I'm a news photographer and I'm not sure how many of us they need over there right now, but if I were there, I'd just want to do my job.

Hopefully, by keeping the story fresh in people's minds, the aid that is desperately needed might continue to be provided.

I don't know if covering a tragic story with a compassionate point of view is really going to make a difference. I like to believe it does. I just know that as I was standing in the rain doing liveshots from the Camarillo Outlet Mall on Monday, I found myself wishing I could be covering the bigger story. News doesn't really work that way. I don't always get to cover the big story, but the desire to be there and try to make a difference doesn't go away.

I never hope for anything bad to happen, but when something does happen, I hope I get the chance to be there. I just want the chance to do my job.

On the other hand, I did find three nice sweaters at the Geoffrey Beene Outlet store.

Monday, December 27, 2004

Getting back to normal

I woke up the day after Christmas and sat down to blog some quick hi-lights of the Christmas holiday. I'm sitting at my desk and collecting my thoughts I hear screeching and I hear flapping wings. I didn't think much about it (this is normal for the bird), but it shocked the heck out of me and I almost jumped out of my skin when our long term houseguest suddenly landed on my head.

This is the second time he's done this. I don't know what it means. I'm just glad he's not in the habit of marking his turf.

The two older kids were both home for the holiday. That was the best present I could have had. Well, they could have given me a car and I suppose that would have been pretty good too, but they didn't. I still love them. Maybe next year.

I think Action-Wife and I will need a few days to recover from the holiday.

The older two will be heading out in the morning. I'll be back at work tomorrow afternoon and keeping my fingers crossed that the end of the year is completely uneventful. Remarkable only for it's total lack of tragedy with which to fill our newscast.

Until we get our dental product endorsement deal, I'll take life as it comes and try to face the challenges the same way I face everything else. With a smile and a good thought.

This Christmas will go a long way towards keeping the good thoughts up front.

Happy Holidays and beVery Merry!

Last crime scene before Christmas

I wanted to post these shots from Thursday before the day gets too far behind me. My thanks to John Vincent for snapping a few pictures with my camera.

The evening started out with a relaxing last minute holiday shopping story. We shot and edited a piece, had finished our first liveshot and had even taken lunch in the mall.

Just before our 10pm newscast, we got the call to break down and drive to Long Beach for a shooting.

Another photographer would have a liveshot set up and we'd just need to grab sound from a witness or from someone with the Long Beach Police Department.

We got there and it all worked out. We did the liveshot and had a LBPD Officer for a live interview.

Sometimes these events go by so fast I don't even have a chance to think about them. I know one minute I was shopping for Christmas presents in a mall in Culver City and in no time at all, I was in Long Beach covering a homicide with at least one person dead. The next day was Christmas Eve and I had a lot on my mind.

Not everyone had a happy holiday and it doesn't take much looking to find the bad in the world. I think it's easier to find the good. There's good all around. We just don't realize it when we see it and we might be affected more by the bad. I hang in there and try to not let these events have too much of an effect on me.

I want to be able to enjoy the good parts of life that I also see every day.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Peace on earth and more time to blog

That's all I want.

Merry Christmas. Thank you all for being a part of my life.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

I'm starting to have candle issues

I'm just running past the computer and dropping in pictures from last night. I hate to give less than I feel the story deserves, but it's difficult to make the time.

A five year old girl died in an apartment fire two nights ago. Last night I helped out with liveshots for a candlelight vigil at the scene. Those tall little glass candle jars are really beginning to symbolize nothing but death and sadness for me.

It's easy to become overwhelmed by the sudden and completely unexpected events which shape our lives. Most days I'm just a witness to the events (too often sad) that are a part of other people's lives.

I have to leave for work.

If you're a spiritual person, I'd encourage you to offer a prayer for the family or at least keep a good thought in mind for them.

I'm not looking for anything for myself, I'm just a guy with too little time. Maybe even with all the time in the world, it might not be enough to say everything that could be said about an innocent little girl.

Five years might be a lifetime. I'm sorry here that it was.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Uh-oh, I'm beginning to feel a lot like Christmas

I've been kicked out of nicer places than the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA for short). I can't think of any off the top of my head, but it happens so often, I'm sure I have been.

Maybe it was my festive seasonal Santa Hat, but we had to do our 10pm and 11pm liveshots from the sidewalk outside of the museum property. Well, to be honest, the Los Angeles Mayoral debate I was helping to cover was long over and the museum folk wanted to close up shop. No offense meant and actually, none taken.

Just another day at the office. I made it home and decided to grace the blog with the results of my decorative efforts.

Yes, that's the beFrank headquarters. I took a moment to reflect on things while I snapped this picture.

I have a lot of reasons to beThankful this holiday season. I live a pretty charmed life. I have my health and I have my family. Things will never be perfect (that's not how life is supposed to work). I'm just really thankful for each day and to have had another year to be alive.

I'm thankful, because I know I can get up each day and work towards changing the things in my life that I feel a need to change.

Some things, I'm willing to let go. I could work towards changing them, but I have other areas of my life that need my attention. That's just how life is.

Action-wife may not see it that way, but she's a wonderful woman and I think she'll understand.

(sigh) Okay, I can tell I'm not getting any support on this one. Where's the ladder?

Monday, December 20, 2004

I'll be down in a second. . .

. . .I mean, how long does it take to fall off a roof?

Mankind has never been more cruel than in the creation of annual traditions which require an expenditure of effort that could be better allocated towards the pursuit of higher intellectual goals.

I have episodes of "The Venture Brothers" to watch on my TIVO.

The drafting of my loving and "oh, so helpful" offspring in this endeavor does little to mitigate the frustration in recognizing the futility of our activities.

It never escapes me that I could be sitting in my comfy chair drinking a cold beer. I could even have eggnog as a concession to the holiday season.

It is with these thoughts as I face the final week of shopping and cooking and yardwork before the targeted holiday, that I ask any father or husband who has found himself in my position to simply give me a wave or a nod in sympathy in the first week of the new year when I'm back up on the roof taking the lights down again.

Action wife is taking the pictures. Even though she may have a camera in one hand, she holds an unchallenged threat of potential violence in the other.

Happy (help me) Holidays!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

What do you want to do?

I don't care.

Yes, I hear that a lot and I run into a lot of apathy from people I come across in the course of what I do for a living. Some of it is understandable (I didn't say excusable), given the staggering amount of heart numbing tragedy we face as part of a typical "day at the office".

You add that to the fatigue from hours and hours (and hours) spent in traffic and you have a recipe for a very cynical and jaded group of human beings. I think I've got a pretty good handle on all that. I deal with it the best I can (please, beer me) and some days are better than others.

For all the complaining we do and for all the bashing we suffer, it does my heart good to cover a story that served no real purpose other than to point out some of the better aspects of human nature.

I wasn't feeling up for much last night. I really hoped that I'd get another "Christmas Lights" night like I had on Monday, but hoping for anything in my job is the best guarantee that it sure as heck ain't gonna happen.

I got assigned to cover a toy drive story in Boyle Heights. That's a part of East L.A. and I've covered this story in years past as a VO-SOT (video over-sound on tape). I had a reporter and that meant I'd be shooting more for a full package. Going into the story, I wasn't feeling up to it. I wasn't feeling creative, compassionate, charitable, patient. . .pretty much none of the things I'd need in order to be fit company for other humans.

I'm sorry. I'm almost ashamed to say, this was probably the best story I've worked on this year. The reporter (Hi, Lisa!) did a great job in writing the piece and we cut together a package that flowed smoothly and had lots of great sound and visuals. It had all the elements that a news photographer looks for in a story to cover (no car chase, but I'll deal).

It's been a great news year. I've worked on bigger stories and more important stories, but none that I remember coming together so well. It was a little story about a small group of volunteers. It won't change the world, but it was a nice pat on the back for the people who worked hard to make a relatively small group of kids and their families happy.

I didn't get a toy, but I think I got something more important out of it. This story will carry me through the death and destruction for (hopefully) a long time.

You know, on the other hand, it may not have changed me enough. I'm sure there are people who think we should have been somewhere else last night, doing something more important instead of covering this toy drive. You know what?

I don't care.

Sorry, I have such a bad attitude.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Neither rain, nor wind, nor. . .hey, you're right, it doesn't say "traffic"

Another day at the office. I feel like I'm getting more than my fair share of the Los Angeles freeway system this week.

My home away from home is getting quite a workout. I started my day heading to Fontana for an interview with the cops who made two arrests in a child molestation case yesterday.

We shot the interview and were on the way to shoot the skating rink location where the two men had allegedly committed the molestation. The girls ranged in age from 14 to 16. We couldn't get an exact number of victims because that details is important to the on-going investigation.

All the details stopped being important to us (only in terms of our direct involvement with the story), because we were pulled off for breaking news. A young kid had been hit by a car and killed in San Bernadino.

That meant another trip across the dark windy streets of the Inland Empire. I don't think I've stressed enough how many miles we've covered driving from one end of town to the other.

We were set up to meet with a news stringer and get the footage he shot of the crash.

In the picture, that's Tyrone. He's the stringer who shot the fatal accident. Stringers are independent news photographers who make their living selling video news footage to any and all news organizations. They often can get to the scene of breaking news faster than a crew being dispatched from the station.

Stringers often shoot with consumer grade camcorders. It can be lucrative, but I understand it can also be pretty brutal. You work long hours into the night and you always have to be ready to drop what you're doing to go out and cover the news.

My life is a model of stability in comparison. Some people really prefer it, but I wouldn't recommend it as a career.

There's something to be said for being your own boss and not having to dance to someone else's tune. . .

. . .and it's difficult to not be envious when I'm dragging myself back to the station after midnight, from a tour of the finer points of interest in San Bernadino County.

Both stories did air, but we couldn't make it to the scene of the accident in time to do our live-shot. We pulled over to a parking lot and fed back the footage we got from Tyrone. A lot of driving and a lot of effort. I'm glad I can come back the next day, but it's also good that even though we didn't make it on TV, I still get paid.

So far this week, I think I earned it.

TGIbF (Thank God It beFriday)

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Pirates and sheriffs and pink cars. Oh, my!

The movie and recording industries are mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore. As part of an ongoing investigation into DVD and CD piracy, the Sheriff's department made a gigantic haul of illegal DVD and CD merchandise and duplication equipment.

I covered a press conference where they talked about the problem.

. . .and while driving to that press conference I had my semi-regular Angelyne sighting.

The press conference was pretty dry. Sheriff Baca spoke and to make a deathly boring over-inflated (wake me when it's done) short story even shorter, they busted a company that was pirating DVD's and Video.

Since spotting a celebrity is so much more interesting, let's just go with that. Working in Hollywood, about every six months or so, I'll spot the pink corvette that is her secondary trademark. If you don't know who she is, try a Google search (her primary trademarks should be apparent).

I'm going to call it an early night. I need to stay sharp and start thinking about my end of the year wrap-up.

I'm just glad the week is almost over and I can look forward to working around the house through the weekend. Anybody catching the sarcasm?

Bah (be?), humbug!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Not a creature was stirring

I had an easy shift on Monday night. Not a lot of action and adventure in videotaping Christmas lights for our weather segment.

It's all part of the job and I left the station with the attitude that even the worst day in news beats the best day in a cubicle.

It wasn't until I was almost done and I looked around at the neighborhood that it hit me. Here I am standing in the middle of the street at night with nobody around. I don't know if I'm standing in a "safe" neighborhood. I have this very expensive video camera and I'm carrying a few items that might be worth more than a Playstation or a six-pack of beer. I've covered homicides where people have been killed for those items or less.

I was feeling very isolated.

I guess I depend on my experience to know when I should feel "safe". Things happen all the time and I've said before that world has never been "safe". We live our lives and take calculated risks in order to get anything done. I'm sure most people understand that a big part of the equation when calculating risk is measuring what would be an acceptable loss.

When it comes to putting myself in harms way, I'll leave it to the people who save and protect lives. I'm going to keep my eyes open and hope when I am in a dangerous situation, I at least have some warning.

I'd never live it down if something happened to me and I didn't get the shot.

Everybody beSafe this holiday season.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Ready for the week

I'm half asleep already and I've been too tired to pull my camera out this past weekend. It's Sunday night. Dellis (Action-wife) and I are done for the day. There's still a big pile of work to be finished, but we'll come back and finish it later. It's mostly just preparations for Christmas. I never like to get things done too soon in December. I'd hate to risk possibly missing the last minute psycho-mad-mall-crazy-holiday panic-o-rama.

I like the normal. I worked most of the day cleaning out my garage, washing my car, and grocery shopping. Action-wife baked salmon for dinner with corn and sweet potatoes. It's just a normal day and I'm thankful for it. I haven't watched any news today. I didn't avoid it, I just got too busy with odds and ends around the house. I'm looking forward to the holidays.

It dawned on my daughter Camia (Scooter) that this would be her last Christmas at home. She's a senior in high school and she plans to go away to college next year. She's looking forward to it. I'm excited about the prospect of having Action-wife all to myself.

Looking forward to it, but I'm in no rush. There's still a lot of normal days until then.

We had cheescake for desert. I'm loving it.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Hit me. . .hit me. . .hit me. . .damn.

There's a possibility that I might make more money if I got paid by the mile. Late night on Wednesday coming home from Lancaster covering the JPL van pool fatal accident. Did I get a break on Thursday? Nope. Got sent out to cover the Morongo Casino opening.

Some high points and low points last night. It was an entertainment story, so as far as I know, nobody died. The idea of spending a few hours hanging out around a red carpet media event sponsored by a casino, also a good thing.

Downsides? It was cold and other than a few minutes on the red carpet, the news crews all had to stay outside. No blackjack or buffet. Let me also stress the point that this is in the desert outside of Palm Springs. It is cold in the winter in the desert outside of Palm Springs.

Beyonce and Destiny's Child performed, but we didn't get to go inside for the concert. They provided a pool feed outside for us to plug into. We roll tape and they control how much is sent out to us. We got a whole 40 seconds of the first song performed. Then they cut the feed. That's all we really need to have for our coverage.

After I had set up my camera gear to record, I ran over with my still camera to the red carpet to try and snap a few pictures of the celebrity arrivals.

I was proud of myself. She's from ER and I recognized her right off the bat.

. . .and he's from Alias. I'm on a roll, baby.

Don't know her (oh well, so much for that roll). Do you remember when I mentioned it was cold?

It was really cold.

I don't want anyone to think that I'm complaining and don't get mad at me, but do women get cold?

The one in the powder blue top looks a little chilly in this picture.

You saw how I was dressed. That wasn't a fashion statement. It felt like I had to keep moving just for survival.

I guess I should thank the Lingerie Bowl models for giving me the opportunity to work out with my new camera.

Being a gentleman, I climbed over the velvet rope and offered one them the use of my jacket. A security guard about to bust a gasket smacked me in the back of the head and said, "Don't be stupid. Get back in the press area!"

I said, "But I'm beFrank."

Hard to tell if he was a blogger, because then he smacked me again and said, "Okay, then don't 'beStupid' and get back over there."

I'm delusional from my lack of sleep, so that exchange really only happened in my head. I had a great critical point to make that was relevant to what I do, but gee, somehow I guess I got a little distracted and completely forgot what it was.

I'm off today for one more round with the dentist. Somebody enjoy a beer and think of me.

Also, remember, the "be" words of the day are bePassionate and beCreative!