Thursday, February 26, 2009

Media Friendly?

We were having a discussion about whether this particular hospital was "media friendly" or not.

We pulled in and the parking attendant waved us in.

We did a U-Turn near the emergency room. People started waving at us. Well, not people, security guards (as it turns out).

They asked us to leave the property (Gee, maybe tell the guy manning the gate about your hospital policy).

Not media friendly.
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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Come To Order.

My assignment today involves an item on the Montebello City Council's agenda.


It's a better story than it sounds.


Really.
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Call It What It Is.

The blog functions are working again.  Let's get to it.

The assignment sounded like a scene from a bad reform school or prison movie.

Yesterday I was working with Glen Walker.  We made a trip downtown to the LAUSD district offices to get their statement, then drove out to Taft High School in Woodland Hills.  Our story involved reports of Taft High School personel being reassigned while the school district and LAPD investigate a hazing incident.



The reports are treating the subject matter very delicately.  Students we talked to were a lot more graphic in their description of the incident and I'm thinking this is likely going to be called something more than "hazing" before all is said and done.

Hazing?



Wait.  I'm kind of angry and maybe I'm getting ahead of the facts.

It's often a good idea to maintain a bit of skepticism when talking to high school students about events that have happened on campus.



The gospel truth presented by high schoolers sometimes has a habit of getting filtered through the student grapevine and becomes quite a bit distorted.

"I saw the whole thing!"

"I can tell you what happened!"

"He wasn't even there.  I was there and I saw it!"

Working in news, we come across a lot of people (not all of them minors) who swear they were eyewitnesses to events.  I think people honestly believe we want a good story more than accurate facts.

I just want to have both, but I'll take the facts any day, thank you.



We had a hard time believing what we were being told yesterday.  Maybe I didn't want to believe it.

Hazing?

I'm hoping the story we were told is far less than accurate.  I hope the students and teachers involved all had better sense.

If the stories are true, I'm also hoping we can just start calling the incident something that reflects better what it actually was.  I certainly don't know what to call such a brutal horrific attack on a young student.

Hazing?

Really, it just doesn't seem like strong enough of a word.
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Test

Checka, checka, checka. . .



Having some posting problems (totally unrelated to my productivity).

That's the Iron Chief and Marvin his Wookie.
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SAT Man Sunday

During my long day at the Academy Awards I tried to dash off a quick blog post, but something wasn't quite right and I couldn't get the post to upload to the blog.

Probably gremlins.

Here's the post from Sunday while I work on something a bit more current.

Probably not the photo op you were expecting, but I'm only going so far to get a celebrity shot. With all the security in place to make sure we behave ourselves, it's just not happening.



Besides, I have my hands full keeping a rock solid signal bouncing off the satellite back to the home base of TBS International.

That's not Turner Broadcasting, it's "Tokyo Broadcasting Systems International".



Here's something, I bet you don't see this shot during the telecast.

If anything goes wrong at the camera position. Somebody is going to have to run through this gauntlet to troubleshoot.



It probably won't be me. I'd have to put on my tux first.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscar Update!

I have no idea who won anything. We have the show feed set up outside, but I've climbed in and out of the SAT truck about 500 times today. Well, at least I managed to put on my tux.


That's right. Classy.
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Shhh.

I snapped this as they were kicking me off the Red Carpet. Ha-ha, they couldn't stop me!
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See You Tomorrow.

That's what I said to Dellis (My Lovely Wife) as I left home early this morning for Oscar coverage.


It's going to be a long day and I may even suit up in my tuxedo.


Meh. Too early. Maybe a little later. It's not due back until Monday.
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Friday, February 20, 2009

Still Loading

I've been up since 3:00am. Good times, yah.
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Oscar Preppies

It's early. That's why we look fuzzy.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Snow Story: Episode V (With No References to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back).

Updated and Complete.

DOH! (I said nothing about "The Simpsons")

We had just passed the Gorman exit when traffic on Interstate 5 came to a dead stop. Had we jumped off at the exit, we'd have been in a great position to get the story on live as it was happening.

I was in one of our satellite trucks, Henry Jerkins and Serene Branson were right behind me in one of our microwave trucks (Unit #19).



The weather was harsh. Traffic had already been slow. I've been in worse driving conditions, but this was bad. I generally like to be where I'm going when the roads get to be this bad.



Ouch. Sorry, I just looked at the time. I really want to get the pictures up, but I can't finish this post right now. We'll chat later. Until then, enjoy the photos.



Okay, I'm back. All rested and refreshed, but still recovering from the trauma of being stuck on the interstate for almost five hours.

Yeah, that's how long we were there. It was obviously freezing, but the worst part about being stuck was not being able to get a signal out. The microwave truck was simply blocked by the surrounding hills and the SAT trck was pointed in the wrong direction.



I would have had to turn the truck around and parked it facing the oncoming traffic. Not really a problem while we were all stuck where we were, but popping the dish and being set up with the possibility of the road opening at any time wasn't a problem I wanted to face.



After working so hard to clear the road, I'm sure the kind folks from Caltrans and the CHP wouldn't take very kindly to a news crew blocking traffic.

It might have looked like a parking lot, but it was still an interstate roadway and I'm pretty sure blocking a lane with a vehicle facing the wrong direction is still somewhat of a violation of the laws of the road.



Doesn't mean I didn't try.

That's why the SAT truck was turned at an angle. I almost got it stuck and that was pretty much the limit on how much risk I was going to take.

What can I say? I got bored after like fifteen minutes. We tried to send back some video and pictures from my Blackberry phone. The pics actually made it to air, but the audio was too distorted from the video clip we sent back.



We finally got free of the traffic jam. I believe the unofficial report was that a big rig had slid on the ice and jackknifed. When it jackknifed, it might have also taken out a couple of cars. You really want to be careful around big rigs in the snow. They could jackknife at any time.

Heh-heh, I don't know why, but I like saying, "Jackknifed."



Reporter Serene Branson and I were having a case of deja-vu. We'd been in the area a year ago and had gotten snowed in for several days.

That storm seemed to take people more by surprise. A lot of folks (including us) were stuck at the Flying J truck stop and people who hadn't gotten rooms were forced to sleep in the hallway at the Best Rest Inn.



Yeah, good times.



My fellow photographer, Henry Jerkins, wasn't with us for that particular assignment, but he was no stranger to the "Flying J" diner either. I think Henry and I are on the same page when it comes to the food at the "Flying J" truckstop.

The breakfast, lunch, or dineer buffet is the best deal on the menu.

For gosh sakes, stay away from the buffet.



This trip to the snow only lasted two days and the longest day was only seventeen hours. It ended well, much better than the way it started.



I could have stayed another day or really, just about as long as they needed me to stay, but I'm really glad this was just an overnight trip.

It's not easy working away from home. I miss the time I spend with my wife and barring complete exaustion, I don't sleep well away from home.



Still, I think I'm better for having had the experience and I'm just thankful we weren't facing anything more dangerous. The whole snowy adventure makes for interesting stories and memories after the fact and photos don't really do justice to the sight of the snow covered ground.

It's easy to see why the people who live in the area are willing to endure the occasional snowfall. It's a majestic and beautiful sight. I'm glad to have had the opportunity to see sunrise and sunset over the area firsthand.

Like the residents, I'll just bundle up and stay off the road as much as possible. Well, maybe I'll just bundle up.

video

ps- If I'm ever part of a rebel alliance on the run from a galactic empire, I'll grab me a couple of tauntauns, some supplies and hide out here.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Stuff I Could Use.

Thicker socks.

My laptop AC adapter.

A good hot meal.

Not much to ask for. Maybe I'll remember next time..
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C-C-C-Cold!

The last time I was up here, I got sick and was out for the better part of a week.

Winter Wonderland? Don't let it fool you.

The time now is 3:00am. Do you know where your news crews are?

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Monday, February 16, 2009

To Hoth and Back, Baby!

Funny thing happened on the way to the liveshot. We got stuck in a massive early morning traffic jam (yes, there was snow).


Missed our first two hits, but that was only because I wouldn't take the risk of spinning the truck around in the snow on the freeway.


Yeah, of course I thought about it.
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Friday, February 13, 2009

Palmdale People


Photo by Dolores Gillham

It was snowimg in Palmdale earlier. I don't exactly know what I'm doing here in a satellite truck, but I'm ready for anything. Bring it on!


(Sigh)


Quit picking on me.
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Portrait of a Reporter

I managed to take this last Saturday night while doing a bit of overtime because of bad weather.

There was mud everywhere and scattered downpours didn't make this the easiest evening out in the field. I can't complain. I was making a little extra change that I'll be putting to good use this weekend.



Anyway, that's Kristine Lazar Hatton touching up her makeup a few minutes before going live.

Being a fan of still photography and finding myself every now and then in the right place, at the right time, with the right lensr. . .lighting, makeup, expression, etc. . .

I'm just happy to have had the opportunity to capture this moment. The last time I got a nice shot of Kristine, her mother used it as the background picture on her computer.

I wonder what she thinks of this one.

Flickr

This is a test post from flickr, a fancy photo sharing thing.

Monday, February 09, 2009

There's No Such Thing As A Free Lunch.

Did you forget I was at the Conga Room for an assignment last week?  I didn't.  That was a nice memory that kept me warm and in my happy place as I did liveshots in the rain.
 


Christina McLarty and I got to go behind the scene at the NEW "Conga Room" over at LA Live.  It's a nice place, but this was one of those assignments where we zipped in and out pretty fast.

It looked like a place I'd like to visit.



The restaurant and bar areas seemed classy and with the glass partition between the main club area, you might actually be able to have a conversation while you people watch and enjoy your meal.

Speaking of meals, there were some good things being cooked up in the kitchen.



The Conga Room's Head Chef Alex Garcia prepared a couple of signature appetizers for us and one of their bartenders set us up with a couple of drinks.  We couldn't do much with the drinks, maybe look longingly at them, but the food was going to fill a warm spot close to my heart. 

Shooting food stories are usually fun.  The crew often gets taken pretty good care of by the restaurants where we're shooting.

Sometimes the best laid plans.



While we were there, a live band was setting up and doing sound checks for that evening's entertainment.



I was shooting b-roll.  Not thinking, I walked away from the food.  Maybe I shouldn't have walked away.

It all came to screeching halt.  As I was shooting the b-roll, I heard from across the room:

"Are you guys done with this?"

Everything-- no, wait, maybe just me, started moving in slow motion.  It was like a horrible dream sequence and I couldn't do anything to save the snackage.
 
"Nooooooooooooo!" 

It was gone just like that.  Think cartoon piranha chewing up Daffy Duck.  A couple of the bartenders scarfed it down and all I could do was turn away and mumble things I don't usually write in my blog.



Sometimes a taste of something from a nice restaurant is an unexpected treat.  It's a nice change of pace from maybe say, eating cold fast food while standing in the rain doing liveshots.

Still, just being there was a nice change of pace from the daily grind.  It was fun to at least see the inside of the new Conga Room.

That free lunch thing isn't always true, but this time it certainly was.

Hey, wait a minute, that's not altogether true.  The bartenders got a free lunch!
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Thursday, February 05, 2009

Just Appreciating The Moment.

The Grammy Awards are coming up this weekend.  I'm going to be watching them on TV instead of covering them.  It's because of the economy.

We'll have a crew on it.  This time, it just won't include me.



Wednesday night, this is how the main plaza looked over at LA Live.  Staples Center was dark and Chick Hearn (The street that runs between Staples and LA Live) was blocked to vehicle traffic.

After such a warm day, the air had a nice brisk chill to it.  Very few people were walking around.  I can just imagine how it'll look on Sunday when there's going be thousands skipping about and the Grammy show will be in full swing.



The tent that covers the arrival line is up (I think I mentioned I won't be there).  With so few hours of overtime available, it's only fair that we split the time available instead of me hogging it all selfishly.

Like I used to.



It's not so much that I intentionally put effort into sucking up all the overtime.  I think it was just in the past there was always plenty of OT available during the regular week.

Heck, who's crazy enough to want to give up part of their weekend?  Okay, besides me.

Also, you should know the awards shows are more physical work with all the cabling in and set up and shooting off shoulder for hours at a time.  Woo, there always used to be easier opportunities.



Plus, once you've covered a few award shows, you mostly just learn to appreciate your regular shift.  So, that's why I found myself taking a minute to look around and enjoy the unique experience of a nearly empty entertainment center.



I don't think it's because I've gotten more jaded about what I do, but there was a time when "cool" and sometimes even "amazing" was a much more routine part of my work day.

Standing out here on the nearly empty street, looking around and knowing I won't be here for the main event didn't make me feel like I would be missing out.



It gave me the opportunity to appreciate how much of what I do in news, even if it's not the main event, is still "cool" and maybe just slightly more "amazing" than working a typical nine to five job.

Between the car chases, the police lines and the live shots, it's great to have those moments that remind me of why I prefer this job to just about any other.



Of course, the funny thing is that I haven't even mentioned the actual assignment that had me there in the first place.  I was working with our entertainment reporter, Christina McLarty, on her "Dining on a Dime" segment at the recently opened Conga Room at LA Live.

That was fun.  I'll have to write up a post on it and let you decide just how "cool" or "amazing" it was.

Hmm.  "Amazing" might be too strong of a word.  You maybe really shouldn't expect much more than "cool".
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Tuesday, February 03, 2009

There's Determined and Then There's VERY Determined.

Sometimes I can't believe how little value some people place on human life.  last night in Chino the assignment was about a robbery that went bad and resulted in the death of an innocent person.

A Chino Police Officer shot and killed a man outside of a McDonalds who (we were told by the man's friends) was running to his car to get away from the shoot-out happening at the Papa John's Pizza Delivery restaurant next door.



Someone mentioned that take-out pizza's busiest day is Superbowl Sunday.  I don't know how much cash this Papa John's had on hand, but I would have thought it certainly couldn't have been enough to kill or die for.



So, two men tried to rob the Papa John's, but somehow the police were called.  The two robbers got into a shoot-out with the cops.

I'm curious to hear the explanation for this one.



I can't remember the last time I saw so many evidence markers at a crime scene.  Each one of those yellow tabs represents an effort of one person trying to kill another person.

It's not for me to say whether the actions of the cops were justified.  I'm not trying to judge the police officers.  I don't know the exact circumstances that caused one officer to fire the shot that killed the innocent man.

The incident is being investigated.



With this many shots being fired, I have to figure the robbers were pretty determined to get away and the police were just as determined to stop them from getting away.  I'm sorry for the loss of an innocent man's life.  I'm thankful more innocent people weren't hurt.

I've written it here before, it's a dangerous world.  More often than you might like to believe, violence happens.  Even if you'd rather believe it couldn't possibly happen to you, there are no such guarantees.   Sometimes when people want other people dead, you might find yourself too close to the object of their desires.

Don't stop living your life.  Just be careful.
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