Thursday, November 30, 2006

Can not. Can too. Can NOT!

The day started easy enough. The XDCam rollout is progressing smoothly. Yesterday on my dayside shift, I lent a hand and some computer experience to Marvin Stone. Somehow Marvin had pulled the short straw and been assigned the task of making copies of XDCam material to be used in our upcoming edit training.

My reporter for the day had a sweeps story already in the can and was putting that together in-house. Woo, it looked a lot like I was going to have an easy day at the office.

Just as we were about to sneak out for lunch, the assignment desk pulled me to head over to LAX and cover a story related to Alexander Litvinenko.

Litvinenko was the former Russian Spy who died recently of radiation poisoning. Tom Clancy has written slicker ways to bump players off the espionage board, but this is real life and the results may have been less elegant, but basically the same.

Litvinenko is permanently out of the game.

So, that's why I found myself out at LAX yesterday afternoon.

Traces of the radiation that killed Litvinenko was found on British Airways jets that Litvinenko had flown before his death. That's some seriously alarming real-world spy game activity.

None of the planes were local flights, but we went to British Airways to see if we could get anyone to go on camera with their reaction to the story.

Few of the passengers we talk with had heard anything about the British Airway connection. Nobody seemed overly concerned.

By "nobody", I mean the passengers themselves.

The airline representative who came out to talk to us (off camera) was pretty concerned about me shooting tape of the counter, the employees, and the passengers in the British Airways ticketing line.

I was told that it was British Airway's policy to not allow videotaping of their property or employees.

I was calm and professional, but I can't begin to tell you how irritating it is to have people who should know better try to tell me what I can and can't shoot.

With our deadline constraints, I didn't have enough time to go into it fully with the Airline representative, but I quickly pointed out where I stood on the matter. The airline terminal is a public place. If I can see it in public, I can shoot it. There are no "rights" to privacy when you're in public and your company policy doesn't affect me. I don't work for your company.

The only exceptions concern the TSA passenger screening areas.

We've gone through this before (probably on every photog's blog). I'd bet there's not a news photographer alive who hasn't had a similar confrontation. I'm always pretty calm about it, but I got the impression the airline representative wasn't expecting opposition.

Come on, don't shoot anything relating to British Airways? I'm not trying to be mean, but for my own protection if the conversation had continued or if the situation had escalated, I'd have rolled tape on you.

We talked to passengers, got our B-roll shots, cut our piece, and put it on TV. I'm still tempted to write a letter to British Airways, but the representative we spoke to may actually know we were in the right. It wasn't a flattering story, not good for business and all. She could have just been trying to bluff us into not doing our job. Good luck with that.

As far as I'm concerned, it's simple. Legally and simply, can too.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Beer, beer, beer, beer, BEER, wonderful BEER!

About the post title, try singing it like the Monty Python "Spam" song.

I've had a few people ask me (okay, maybe two) about the variety of beers we had floating around in the beer bucket over the holidays.

If I'm counting them right, it looks like we had a total of seven.

I can vouch for the Samuel Adams Black Lager and-- Hey, why it gotta be black? Sorry, still touchy (shame on you Michael Richards). I also tried the Mississippi Mud, the Quilmes (asantana, how do you pronounce that?) and of course, the Fat Weasel.

Hmm, I think I'm forgetting one. Wait here.

Yeah, here it is. The Hoegaarden was one of three Belgium beers we were trying out. Why Belgium? Come on, we all know if it was good enough for Costco, then it certainly passes my standards.

(Heh-heh, it's NOT a store, it's a lifestyle!)

The Santanas brought over the Quilmes, so being free and all, it already had points going for it. Why, yes. Yes, I liked it, thank you very very much. It went well with my late night sandwich made out of leftover turkey (Mustard from Philippe's on Alameda near Union Station). I could also see myself having one with a grilled steak. Not tonight though, I'm kind of full.

Let's talk about the Hoegaarden. Does that sound suggestive to anyone else? It was sort of cloudy and almost white in color. Very distinctive flavor, but more of a novelty than something I'd choose on the first round.

Novelty is the word for the Mississippi Mud too. Not a bad beer (Gee, is there such a thing?), but the cute little hillbilly jug was the only reason I bought it. Not a beer to put onto the repeat list.

Stella Atois, I've tried before and that seemed to be the least popular beer of the weekend. Bought six and I still own six. I haven't tried the Samuel Adams Brown, but the Black Lager earned my respect and I could see myself biting into a Tommy's Burger or an Acosta Taco carne asada burrito, then topping off with one of these.

Man, I could write more beer opinions, but it's a work night for me.

I've got a little bit of handyman work to handle before bedtime tonight. Wish me luck, because just between us, I downed a Quilmes while writing this post. Don't worry, no power tools for me tonight. I'm just taking measurements for molding.

Heh-heh, actually this could get ugly.

It must be the holidays,

Shoo, shoo. Just go away. Leave me alone. I know I'm usually not this surly, but it was my first day back at work today after my first Thanksgiving weekend off in about twelve years.

By the way, I had a great weekend.

See the two newsvans?

That's mine on the left. Pretend I'm inside editing a holiday shopping story (instead of taking the picture).

Parked near the doors to the Glendale Galleria, that's where I was last Tuesday. Don't ask me why. I guess we wanted to beat the Black Friday crunch. Just between you and me, I'm not completely sure calling it "Black" Friday is cool. Sorry, I'm still a little sensitive because of that whole Kramer thing.

Woo, just to show how my work-life karma has been completely throwing me under the bus, I snapped this shot at LAX last Wednesday.

Was I assigned to cover a holiday travel story? Nope. I was assigned as 2nd man for the crew working on the holiday travel story. Bummer. The main photographer was going to get all the fun.

I was bummed at first, but then I thought a little about it. Here I was with an easy day, a take home van, and a whopping five minute commute to get home at the end of my shift on my last day before a long holiday weekend. Shucks, I got so excited just reminiscing about it, I forgot the point I was trying to make.

Well, I had a great weekend, drank a couple of bavarian beers and did not want to get up for work this morning. I think that's where I was going with this post. There you go. Now, I'm going to get some rest.

I've gotta work tomorrow.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

All right, Happy Two-Days-Later!

It's two days later and I can't believe it, but I'm not quite sick of turkey yet.

We had a great time on Thanksgiving. Our two older kids were in town and my in-laws (who are extremely cool) came over for dinner.

It was a touching moment during grace, our youngest daughter was on the phone with us. She'll be home for Christmas at the end of the semester, but spent Thanksgiving with friends in Hawaii. If I'd have known I was going to be off for the whole weekend, I think I would have sprung for the trip home.

At the very least, I'll have to remember to get a speakerphone. I think I remember a scene like that from an old Charlie's Angels holiday episode.

Later in the evening, we had a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Asantana.

Mr. Asantana is also a news photographer. I don't think either of us is actually used to not working on Thanksgiving. I've probably worked all but one Thanksgiving since I started working in news.

It's not as if Thanksgiving simply doesn't exist for news photographer.

The cold buffet that typically greets me in the newsroom at the end of my holiday shift is a lot more familiar. I appreciate the comforting effort by my station, but I have to admit it'll never replace the laughter and warmth that comes from friends and family.

So, it's a couple of days later. I've had a nice break from the world of news and I've been reminded of how normal people spend the holidays. I'm stuffed. I don't want anything bad to happen, but I'm going to have to start working off some of my "turkey weight".

First thing on Monday morning, I'm hoping for a breaker.

Aw heck, that's almost two days away. Pass the gravy.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Got Thankful?

Now, I'm not complaining, but it almost seems unfair. I'm sure on more than one occasion I might have mentioned how this year has been oddly slow for me. I haven't been as active out in the field as I had been in previous years.

Sure, there have been high points. Any year that includes an assignment in Hawaii is never going to be written off completely as a bad year. Right now I'm just frustrated because there's been a lot happening in the world and I've wanted to weigh in on some of it. Well, work and home has been demanding a lot of my attention and made it tough to focus this week.

I don't mind writing a lot when I have something to say, but sometimes it feels like I can't say enough in a quick post to really make any kind of a point and I hate to waste your time.

It's been a week since his passing, but I still wanted to post something about Ed Bradley.

I'm going to miss him. No, I never met him in person, but he was a positive influence on me through his work. My job gives me incredible opportunities to meet some of the most amazing people on the planet. I've met a handful that seemed able to raise the collective IQ of a room just by being in it. Ed Bradley seemed to be that kind of a guy.

I try to live with as few regrets in life as possible, but I'm no stranger to disappointment. I'll never meet Ed Bradley and I regret that. His friends and family will certainly feel his passing in ways that I won't and I'm very sorry for their loss.

I'm like a lot of his fans and people who only knew him by his body of work. I'm sorry for our loss too.

Moving on.

The sentencing of George Weller (Santa Monica Market Crash) was a tougher assignment than I thought it would be. Talking about covering it in my post on Sunday night, I was sure it was going to be an easy day.

By the way, I was sent out to Santa monica on the day it happened. It was strange. Around that time I was regularly working on a green grocer segment for our newscast.

I've stood at the intersection shooting standups. Now I wonder if the timing was different, how would I have reacted to a car coming towards me so unexpectedly.

In the courthouse on Monday I wasn't in panic mode (never panic) but it was a hectic and stressful day.

I'd gotten there at about 7:00am to start setting up. There was a lot of gear to haul up to the twelfth floor media center and we were still getting the bugs out when the hearing started.

Sentencing Weller to probation wasn't a surprise. All the opinions that I'd heard, seemed to indicate the judge was likely to lean in that direction.

someone told me they thought Weller wasn't "all there" at this point. I don't know if that's true. I can only imagine how the families of the victims felt when they heard the verdict. I can accept it as a result of our legal system, but in a society that protects senior citizens from discrimination because of their age, it just seems like a younger person regardless of their physical condition would have been treated differently.

We got our reporter on TV and we got the pool feed from the courtroom on live. I'm not sure how we did it with the mess of spaghetti cabling we had to deal with, but we did it. I was only partially traumatized by the experience, so I only partially drank heavily when I got home.

I've barely scratched the surface, but it's Thanksgiving. I'm going to have to cut and run. Sorry.

I tried to squeeze in the things I missed writing about that affected me recently.

Heck, just quickly, I wanted to go a little further and talk about the things in the news that could affect me if I let it.

OJ and Michael Richards? They exist as celebrities because we provide the means for them to maintain that status. Their ability to generate income is directly related to our willingness to support an interest in them. Neither creates or contributes anything of value to my life.

I won't support either and I think it's in all of our best interest to turn our backs on both (Mel too).

Dellis is in working on our Thanksgiving dinner and our two older kids are here for the holiday. The youngest (she makes me proud) is spending Thanksgiving in Hawaii with her friends. She's going to be cooking with them and I'm going to be missing having her at home. It's a bit unusual for me to be off on Thanksgiving. The news must go on and usually if I make it home for dinner at all, it's late in the evening.

I'm going to go help out in the kitchen and enjoy my life. I'm not rich, but I'm wealthy in enough of all that's worthwhile to not have to worry about what I can't afford.

For everything that's good in life, for every day the sun rises, for having the potential to make a difference, let's all "be" thankful for that.

Today and every day.

Now, bring on the turkey.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Facing Monday.

It's been more than a couple of months since I hung out to write at the Starbucks around the corner from my house. Say what you want about Starbucks, it was a great routine for me.

I'm over here today to try to get in some writing time, but that includes a quick post to the blog to get the cobwebs out. It would probably be nice if I had actually done something recently that was compelling enough to share.

Guess I'll have to look forward to my assignment tomorow morning. I have an early call to help cover something at the criminal courts building downtown.

I was down there back in August for the John Mark Karr extradition hearing. This is one of those places where I wish i could turn the camera around and let you see behind the scenes.

If I have my facts straight, the room that houses the broadcast gear on the twelfth floor was thrown together during the O.J. trial.

You can probably tell it doesn't get used much these days.

When there's a lot of media interest in a case, this is where we all patch in to go "live" from inside the building. We can also get a pool feed from inside the courtroom or distribute video when available. Last time I was working up there, almost everyone had decided to do their liveshots outside.

There are times when the patch panels are full. That's not a pretty sight.

I'm not sure what job I'll be doing tomorrow morning. I could be shooting and editing or I might just be handling the transmission gear.

I almost hate to say it, but I'm not even positive what case is being covered.

I like it a lot that I can do my job with confidence. It's not so simple that I can easily get bored. Enough goes wrong every day that I know I have to stay on my toes.

It really just comes down to me being able to do the job and handle whatever curves are thrown at me. I'm there because I'm the guy that makes sure the story gets on TV (and preferably when it's supposed to be on).

I expect to be fully caffienated today. Tomorrow is Monday, the first day of the work week. I'll top off in the morning and just "be" ready for whatever comes my way.

Friday, November 17, 2006


Sometimes it's difficult for a grown man to say this but, YIPPEE! It's Friday and I'm doing cartwheels.

It's not that I've worked particularly hard this week, because I haven't. It's not that I'm looking for a relaxing weekend (nope, took care of that last weekend). I'm actually just really fired up to do some landscaping work around my house.

You'll notice I called it "landscaping". That's because "gardening" is for pussies. Of course, I imagine if there's any farmers reading this, they're saying the same thing about me.

During sweeps, we have extra freelancers working. On a slow night, that means there's even less of a chance I'll get sent out.

There wasn't any big news for me yesterday, so I took another trip up to the roof of Columbia Square (that's our soon to be former station location) and shot a few pictures.

I'm trying to take advantage of the access I have until we move to our new facility next year. That's the newly renovated Griffith Observatory. I'm hoping to get over there with Dellis, but I think I can wait until they cut out all that reservation crap.

I've seen a lot of blogs recently with shots from tourists of Los Angeles and Hollywood. It got me thinking about how much I take for granted. The opportunities I miss because I'm too busy to slow down and appreciate what's in my own backyard.

Yup, that's both literal and figurative.

I've never eaten at Roscoe's. The Lion King has been here in Los Angeles twice (at least) and I work two blocks from the Pantages theatre.

Sometimes I guess it helps to stand up on the roof and take a look around. It certainly helped me to see a few things more clearly. I'm not going to feel bad if I can't see and do everything that I've set in my mind to accomplish. I just want to make the effort. I'm lucky and I'm blessed with lots of potential and opportunities. Sure, there are obstacles that I have to work around and even if I happen to make it look easy, it's still me rolling up my sleeves and doing the work.

Have a good weekend everybody. If I happen to cover any news tonight, I'll let you know. Even if I don't, I gurantee you, I'll "be" busy.

Don't worry though, I'll never be so busy that I can't keep you posted.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

OIB: Officer Involved Brooming?

Look, I'm back on Hollywood Boulevard (unfortunately with an even weaker assignment).

I'm trying to get the story straight, but it's difficult due to the fact that it turned out not to be a story. Well, at least not something that we'd put on TV as part of our newscast.

Sorry, there's not a lot of facts to report. Near as I can gather, I was sent out to cover an officer involved shooting (OIS) just around the corner from our station.

Yippee! You gotta love it when the news practically comes knocking on your door.

Working a late shift to help out another photog, but I'm feeling grumpy because I'm still sitting around waiting for "the big breaker" to happen. Didn't think I was going to get one, but there it was. I get the call, hop in my van and race around the corner to Hollywood Boulevard and Cahuenga. It's like, maybe a half a mile. Traffic is backed up a little and a police helicopter is flying low overhead.

I'm rubbing my hands together, laughing diabolically, and thinking maybe I've gone too long without seeing a good breaking story.

People stuck in traffic with me are rolling down their windows and asking what happened. I tell some about the OIS call, but I don't have any details. They think I'm lying. I'm not sure why it's difficult to make people believe I don't know anything.

I start telling people they have to watch to find out.

As I'm getting out of the van and gearing up, cop cars are leaving and the street is opening. That's not a good sign. A paramedic unit arrives, but that just gives me false hope.

All the remaining cops look relaxed. I talk to one of the officers on the scene. He gives me some sketchy details (shucks, look at me, I got an exclusive). You're only going to get this story from me, because it was absolutely not worth even a VOSOT.

Officers were approaching a suspect's door (suspect of what, I dunno). The suspect rammed a broom handle through the door and it appeared to the officers as if a shot had been fired. They call for backup. We catch the call (probably from a scanner) and I'm sent over.

The suspect was apprehended. Nobody was shot. Gee, no shots fired at all. Lame? Well, I'm glad nobody got hurt, but yeah. This was lame. I'm not blaming anybody, you have to check these things out and sometimes they do turn out to be less than they originally appear.

I'm still getting a kick out of it. I've never covered a brooming before.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Maybe it's because it's Monday.

Rats. I missed a couple more fires. It's not that I'm much of a firebug, but I like getting out and being on the front line when things are happening.

Yesterday all I did was run a couple of liveshots across the street from the Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena. The story was about the woman who got hit in the head with a shopping cart someone had hung from a flagpole.

Yeah, I know. Bizarre, but really tragic.

Not a real difficult day, I didn't even shoot the story. My part of the assignment was to just handle the liveshots.

Last week I got to shoot traffic at the intersection of Hollywood and Highland. That intersection at rush hour is one of the worst traffic snarls in the country. The Mayor has been working on doing something about it.

Hey, that's funny, I didn't even notice the demon guy in the picture below when I took it.

I've seen him in front of the Chinese Theatre with others people dressed like Marilyn Monroe, Spiderman, Charlie Chaplin and a few others. They're out there to take pictures with the tourists.

I'm guessing, he must be on his way to work. Good thing he's not driving.

As always, I consider the alternative to a slow shift. I really don't want bad things to happen.

It can be frustrating to enjoy what you do (yay, news!) and not really get the opportunity to be a part of the big stories. I'm not complaining, I'm just saying.

It's still pretty great to get out and about. At least I can enjoy seeing the city, as opposed to having an office job with nothing but my cubicle walls to stare at during my shift.

If I were a surgeon, I'd want to be in the operating room. If I were a lawyer, I'd want to be in court arguing a case. If I were a demon guy in front of the Chinese Theatre? Probably not a career high and I'd want a better role (the Spiderman character gets to wear a mask).

For me, the slow days are all part of the gig and I'll take them in stride. My new all time favorite quote comes from Ellen Degenres.

"My life is perfect, even when it's not."

That says it for me.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I really miss TiVo.

I'm ready to go home. Some time away and a couple of nice meals are fine, but I really like my house and I'd just as soon be at home right now.

I went and checked on the house yesterday morning. Everything seems fine and it should be inhabitable later this afternoon.

It's been fun staying down in Long Beach these past couple of days and I'm leaving with some nice memories.

We've had a chance to try a couple of new places to eat. I don't know that we'd be willing to drive so far away from our regular neighborhood, but since we were in town it worked out well.

The best meal of the weekend (so far) was at Spaghettini in Seal Beach. Dellis had a butternut squash ravioli with an apple martini. I had a lobster ravioli with a Peroni beer.

The beer was good, but I liked Dellis' meal better.

Last night, we went to the movies at the new Pike's Cinemark theatres. We saw "The Prestige" with Hugh Jackman and Christian Bale. The seats and screen were nice, but I've got to get Netflix. It was a decent little movie, but maybe not worth the full price of admission.

Not that I'm looking to poke holes in our nice weekend, but as long as I've started complaining, here's one thing that put a damper on things for me. I was disappointed in the Rockbottom Brewery. I've been there before and had really good times. For folks who claim to be crazy about beer, they lost some status in my book. The beer wasn't quite as cold as I think it should have been and I couldn't get a chilled glass. I wouldn't expect it in the local dive around the corner from my house, but that's something I don't even have to ask for in most of the beer restaurants I've tried.

I think Kelsey Grammer did this same rant on Fraiser. Maybe I'll go have a warm beer to get over it.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Working on my alibi.

If anyone asks, I was in Long Beach, nowhere near my house.

Most days if I don't post before noon people don't expect me to get around to it. You never know. Even when I'm busy, some days I just have to share something that I've seen or something that's going on for me.

No news work, but it's been a busy day. We're tenting our house for termites and had to get a lot of the prep work done this morning. The pets, food and plants are secure. Action-Wife and I are now relaxing away from home with a view of the sunset over downtown Long Beach.

We're probably going to run out and catch a movie, but I'm thinking I might try to get Dellis to just hang out in the room and do tequila shots.

Either way, it's a nice weekend away from home for us.

With a big grin on my face I'm hoping everyone has a great weekend. Everyone but the termites.

I don't generally wish harm on any living thing, but they're eating my house and I really want them dead. I told the fumigators to make sure it doesn't look like an accident.

Yeah, I want to send a message.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

My job title? Juggler.

I'm not quite ready for the "old photographer's home" but it's now a couple of days after the election and I woke up this morning still feeling like crap.

My muscles are sore and my head is still ringing.

It's an annual thing, but I forgot how loud the room can be at these election night functions. It feels like being in a club, but without the drinks, the dancing, and the fun.

Photo by Andrew Nyland

This was our outpost on the media risers. We had three cameras, a portable switcher, laptop editor, laptop computer, and our phones all within arms distance from where I'm sitting.

That's where I was stationed for most of that afternoon and night.

Here's an interesting little tidbit, you wouldn't know it at home, but we had to squeeze three camera positions into two. I suppose the organizers needed to accommodate as many media outlets as possible and the original allocation had to change to fit more stations into the mix. We didn't find any of that out until we got there.

That's actually pretty common in my experience.

Everybody just squeeze in where you can.

Did I mention how loud it was in the room? I had headphones that let me listen to the IFB line from our station and I could also make phone calls when I needed to feed tape or set audio levels before going live.

Photo by Jeff Mailes

In addition to our two reporters, we also helped one of our CBS affiliate stations (KGPE) by feeding back tape for their newscast. It's not rocket science, but all this can get to be pretty complicated. The thing that helps the most in this kind of situation is just staying calm and flexible.

Maybe you can tell that I was sitting right next to the reporters when they went live. It's kind of goofy, but I was tempted to lean over and peek into the shot.

Yup, we absolutely have to stay flexible. The plans for the evening can change. Maybe another affiliate would like a liveshot or the reporter might have a live interview that can be squeezed in. By the time the candidate finally makes his appearance towards the end of the night, we're all pretty fried.

It wouldn't be politics without confetti cannons.

I don't know if there's some sort of rule or something, but I'd be okay without all the hoopla. I know they just want everyone to be excited and they want to celebrate winning the election. I'd be more excited if the politicians all just did a really swell job while in office.

That's just me though. Most of the people there probably liked the balloons and confetti. The Governor seemed to be having a good time.

Of course, he didn't have to pack up all the gear at the end of the night, haul it back to the station and put it away. Well, we all have our jobs to do.

I'm going to go stretch a bit and try to make that run I mentioned earlier. It's only Thursday and I still have my job to do later.

Good luck, Mr. Governor.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Hollywood celebrity for Proposition 87

Okay. I wrote a post in Picassa because Hello wasn't working this morning. I have no idea where it went. Since what I wrote was probably not going to be the most interesting thing about the lost post, here are the pictures from a press conference I covered on Monday.

I'm sure you recognize who this is.

Our Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa was also at the press conference, but Picassa didn't upload the shots with him.

It's Brad Pitt.

Too bad the proposition didn't pass. Maybe he should bring Angelina with him next time.

I'm wondering if there's some sort of strange content filtering going on. I had more pictures of the two of them, but no Brad Pitt and Villaraigosa pictures got uploaded. Maybe you can have one or the other, but not the both of them in the same shot.

Anyway, if you see a second post with more Brad Pitt pictures pop up, let me know. Either way, I'll try to get the rest re-posted later. You know, I hear having a Hollywood celebrity around is supposed to add to your popularity.

It wasn't enough to help proposition 87 pass, but shucks, a few extra "page hits" never hurt anyone.