Morning News Report; April 26, 2012

Sorry I’ve been away, bloggees — real life is a bitch. Anyhoo — a pretty special MNR:

COPLES SET TO MAKE HISTORY

Former Kinston High School/UNC football star Quinton Coples will likely be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft tonight. He’ll be first player in Lenoir County to earn the honor.

My take: I couldn’t be more proud of a young man who has worked hard to get to this point in his life. I’ve watched him and covered him since he was in the eighth grade and playing recreation basketball for Larry Powell with Bo Ingram and the rest of the “Six Shooters.”

He’s been a stand-up young man who did what was best for his family and himself when he left Kinston as a senior — a decision that has helped him to where he is today: on the threshold of becoming a multi-millionaire NFL player.

A behind-the-scenes look at what we’re doing tonight at TFP: we’re hoping he is selected earlier rather than later because we’ve switched press times with one of our sister papers, giving us a little bit later deadline than our typical ridiculously early deadline. Award-winning page designer Richard Clark has a freaking fantastic front page ready, so … Carolina Panthers — TAKE QUINTON COPLES!

MONTAGUE SET TO MAKE HISTORY

When legendary North Lenoir baseball coach Jim Montague’s Hawks take the field against Kinston today, they’ll be going for the coach’s 350th career victory.

My take: One thing I’ve always liked about Coach Montague — he never takes credit for his team’s success but always takes the brunt of their losses.

Some of the best times of my journalism career was covering those championship teams in 2005-2007, with Sthil Sowers, Brandon Sutton, Andrew Manning, John Alphin and the others. In 20 years of covering prep sports, I’ve never seen a pitching combo like Sowers and Sutton, who were as confident and successful as any pair of high school pitchers EVER. Montague coached his tail off, too, and if a certain western N.C. school hadn’t put together an all-star team to take down North Lenoir, the Hawks would’ve had three straight state titles.

Congrats, Coach! Stay around for 400!

BOBCATS GO FOR HISTORY TONIGHT … OR NOT

When the Charlotte Bobcats take the court against the New York Knicks tonight — on national TV, no less — they’ll be trying to avoid their 23rd straight loss and the infamy of being the worst team in NBA history (by percentage).

My take: Yikes. I’ll be pulling for the Bobcats … but if I were a betting man, I sure as heck wouldn’t bet on them.

And check out this scatching Chicago Sun-Times column on Bobcats majority owner Michael Jordan. Yikes again.

GOP GUBERNATORIAL CANDIDATES CHALLENGE MCCRORY TO DEBATE

Contrary to popular belief, there is actually a primary for the Republican nomination for governor. While the Democrats have had several debates and forums, the GOP has had none, since everyone naturally assumes Pat McCrory (who has been campaigning for the last four years anyway) will get the nod.

One Republican, though, is challenging McCrory to a debate.

My take: If I were him, though, I wouldn’t hold my breath. McCrory has nothing to gain by debating a Republican challenger … nothing. All he’d do is lend credence to that opponent.

The iPod shuffle

Against The Wind — Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band

Summer of ’69 — Bryan Adams

Evverybody’s Talkin’ — Harry Nilsson

Drop It Like It’s Hot — Snoop Dogg featuring Pharrell

Hand On The Glock — Cypress Hill

Morning News Report; April 6, 2012

MUDCATS TO BEGIN SEASON AFTER STEALING OUR TEAM

For the first time in 34 years (and 25 years as the Kinston Indians), there will not be an opening night at Grainger Stadium tonight. Instead, the team formerly known as the Kinston Indians — the Carolina Mudcats — will open the 2012 season tonight in Zebulon.

Here’s a most excellent column by our David Hall on the subject.

My take: I really can’t put it any better than DHall did in his well-written piece — Kinston, this is your fault; not Cam McRae’s, not the man who stole our team and took it to Zebulon (Steve Bryant, who advertised his product in TFP this morning; yay) or even Minor League Baseball. This is YOUR fault, Kinston.

You can whine, bitch, complain or do whatever you want, but unless you were one of the handful of diehards who were at most every game (and yes, there were a hundred or so of you), shut the hell up. If you ever want another pro team at Grainger or in Kinston, do like DHall said — buy a team and bring it here or go support the “filler” games there until we have another team here.

And no, we (The Free Press) are not taking the bullet for this one — we covered the Kinston Indians better in the last eight years with David Hall’s award-winning talent than the team had ever been covered in its history. We let you know, freaking step-by-step, what was happening and how this day could come. We begged you to get out to games.

Personally, I attended at least 30-35 games last year and spent my money every time on concessions or memorabilia. I wrote several columns begging you to go to games. My publisher, Patrick Holmes, wrote several editorials to that effect.

David said it best in his column: you have the blood on your hands, Kinston.

This is on you, Kinston. Congratulations.

ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER ASSIGNS 70 REPORTERS TO ONE GAME

For today’s season-opening game against Kansas City, the Orange County Register — the Freedom Communications flagship newspaper (the same company that owns TFP, the New Bern Sun Journal and the Jacksonville Daily News) — has assigned 70 of its approximately 100 (!) reporters to cover the game between the hometown Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the visiting Royals.

My take: Overkill, anyone? It’s one game in 162 this season — what are they going to do if/when the Angels make it to the World Series, use all 100 (!) reporters and hire some stringers to help?

I’m not naive; newspapers are taking a beating right now and we’re doing everything we can to keep our heads above water to provide you, dear reader, with the excellent coverage to which you’ve grown accustomed. We’re embracing social media with big ol’ bear hugs and using many other methods of reaching and retaining readers and subscribers.

But … it’s hard for me to understand how using 70 reporters to cover one game is doing that, especially when there aren’t 70 total reporters at all the Freedom properties in North Carolina combined (TFP, NBSJ, JDN, The Jones Post, Havelock News, Burlington Times-News, Gaston Gazette and Shelby Star).

Send me one or two of those reporters so we can cover the things that needs to be covered in Kinston, La Grange, Pink Hill, Deep Run, Greene County and Jones County instead of overstaffing ONE regular season baseball game; I think my counterparts around North Carolina feel the same because we’re all severely understaffed.

I hope this experiment works for the OCR; it’s a hell of a product and again, the flagship of Freedom Communications — a company I love. But I just can’t help but feel this is excessive.

MCADOO RETURNING TO THE HILL

UNC freshman forward James Michael McAdoo announced yesterday he will return for his sophomore season, instead of joining the NBA Draft with teammates Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Harrison Barnes and Kendall Marshall.

My take: Good news for Tar Heel Nation — and Kinston’s Reggie Bullock, who will have a pretty doggoned good talent on one of his wings.

McAdoo was projected to go as high as No. 5 in one draft projection (according to Justin “The Kid” Hill) and was an almost certain lottery pick; for him to come back to Chapel Hill speaks volumes about how he didn’t want to leave Carolina with nothing on his resume. Good for him and good for college basketball.

JONES SENIOR ASSISTANT FOOTBALL COACH ARRESTED ON SEX CHARGES

Former Jones Senior assistant football coach Vaughn Chance was arrested Wednesday for indecent liberties with three female students at the school. The 53-year-old (!) was charged with two felonies and a misdemeanor.

My take: This isn’t the first or second time this has happened at Jones Senior in my nearly decade-long tenure at TFP. If true (and this is America, you’re innocent until proven guilty), this is a pretty disgusting thing for a 53-year-old coach and alleged mentor to be doing.

And seriously … who thinks it’s cool for a 53-year-old man — and a football coach, to boot — to diddle with high school students?

High school coaches (and I know I have a lot who read this blog) — it ain’t worth it. I don’t care how cute that girl is, whether or not she’s 18 or that SHE’S the one making the “move” on you — she’s a STUDENT, for God’s sake. There are plenty of age-appropriate women out there who’d love to date a high school coach.

THAT FEW MINUTES OF PLEASURE IS NOT WORTH HAVING YOUR PICTURE SPLASHED ON EVERY NEWSPAPER FRONT AND EVERY TV STATION.

ARKANSAS FOOTBALL COACH CAUGHT FOOLIN’ AROUND?

Arkansas head football coach Bobby Petrino was in a motorcycle accident over the weekend, one that initially he said he was a lone rider.

Uh, no. The school held a late-night presser last night to reveal that instead, the 51-year-old coach had a 25-year-old school employee on his bike with him. He admitted to an inappropriate relationship in a press release and has been suspended by the university. And yes, Petrino hired her on March 28, only four days before the accident.

My take: It’s this simple — don’t cheat and this kind of thing WON’T happen. Can’t make it simpler than that. He certainly has a lot of ‘splaining to do.

The iPod shuffle

If I Ever Lose My Faith In You — Sting

Bad Meets Evil — Eminem

Eruption — Van Halen

I Can See For Miles — The Who

Fantastic Voyage — Coolio

Morning News Report; April 4, 2012

SAMPSON ELECTED TO BASKETBALL HALL OF FAME

The greatest center in ACC history — Ralph Sampson — will be inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame Sept. 6 in Springfield, Mass.

(Courtesy Associated Press)

My take: Longtime bloggees know how I feel about this subject (yes, there’s a “Ralph Sampson is a basketball god” tab to your right). I feel he should’ve been inducted a long, long time ago and it’s a travesty it took this long. However, it’s awesome the HOF has finally come to its senses.

In the annals of college basketball, there might not be a better center outside of Sampson than UCLA’s Lew Alcindor or Bill Walton.

People have often asked why I’m such a University of Virginia sports fan … it’s because of Sampson. While everyone around me growing up in northwestern North Carolina was going crazy over UNC, N.C. State and Wake Forest in the early 1980s, I chose UVa. because of King Ralph. Even my first email address (which I still own) was wahoos50 in honor of him.

And yes … I’ll be in Springfield for the ceremony.

TRAYVON MARCH TODAY

A march for slain Florida teenager Trayvon Martin will take place in Kinston today from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

My take: I’ve not shared my views on this issue because I don’t know all the details. However, if Zimmerman wasn’t in danger of losing his life — and there have not been many indications that he was — why shoot at a teenager with nothing but a pack of candy and a bottle of tea?

Before you jump all over my quasi-analysis, remember this: no one knows all the details about this except for Zimmerman and Martin — and one of them is dead now.

And there is nothing wrong with a peaceful march — it’s awesome to live in a country where we can peacefully assemble without fear our government will break it up.

MAZINGO IS NEW SUPERINTENDENT/SL GETS A FOOTBALL COACH

Two big things happened at this week’s Lenoir County School board meeting — interim superintendent Steve Mazingo had “interim” taken off his title and South Lenoir had Tim Jenkins approved as its football coach.

My take: I’m not surprised by the Mazingo move — the man has done a fine job in the interim role. For all seven board members to approve him speaks volumes and it’s good they’re unified in their support of him. Now … let’s get our coaches paid a little more so they don’t stay for a year and then move on to surrounding counties because of money, OK?

Still crappy they ran off a fine gentleman in Dr. Terry Cline, though, but I guess it’s time to close the book on that subject.

As for Jenkins — he’s got a tough job ahead of him in Deep Run, but a good foundation has been laid by Kevin Wilson, his predecessor. I’ll say what I’ve said several times: no one has better football fan support in our county than South Lenoir — it’d be good to see those fans rewarded with a consistent program.

The iPod shuffle

(Love Is) Thicker Than Water — Andy Gibb

Kinda Like A Big Deal — Clipse

Straight Outta Compton — N.W.A.

Boom Boom Pow — Black Eyed Peas

I Want To Take You Higher — Ike & Tina Turner

Morning News Report; March 30, 2012

ADIOS TO BARNES, HENSON … AND MARSHALL

It was a sad day in Chapel Hill yesterday (but a pretty happy one in Durham, Raleigh and Charlottesville) when the trio of Harrison Barnes, John Henson and Kendall Marshall declared its intent to head to the NBA.

My take: That group — including graduating senior Tyler Zeller — will go down as one of the most underachieving groups in ACC history. To have THAT much talent and not even make a Final Four is pretty embarrassing.

While I wasn’t that surprised by Barnes or even Henson leaving, gotta admit I was shocked by Marshall’s defection. He’s going to make someone a pretty damned good NBA point guard — and I hope he ends up playing for my Boston Celtics or Charlotte Bobcats.

And before ABCers start dancing in the streets, remember there’s a heck of a lot of talent still on the Hill — including our own Reggie Bullock, who (IMO) becomes the focal point of the Carolina offense next season. Would anyone be surprised if he averages 15-17 points and 4-6 rebounds a game in 2012-13?

I’ll say this, though — it’s setting up nicely for N.C. State, who’s bringing in three McDonald’s All-Americans. If C.J. Leslie stays (or even if he doesn’t), the Wuffies might be the ACC favorites next year.

WELCOME HOME, JEFF STEPHENS AND ASHTON BRINSON!

Jeff Stephens and Ashton Brinson were among five Lenoir Countians and 100 area servicemen to return from an eight-month tour of duty in Afghanistan yesterday.

My take: Gotta admit — this was one of those stories that’s just fun to write. If you see Jeff, Ashton, Jason Slavin, James Simmons or Jerry Harris, give them your sincere thanks for helping keep us free. THOSE guys are heroes.

BEST BUY CLOSING 50 STORES, RETHINKING STRATEGY

Remember when Best Buy was THE store to go to for CDs, electronics and cool stuff. Eh … not so much anymore. The company announced yesterday it is closing 50 stores and laying off 800 employees in an attempt to keep from going under.

My take: Just like Circuit City before it, Best Buy is having a really hard time in this economy — and changing consumer habits.

Customer service is a big reason for its failure, too — and that’s being overlooked here. Remember when BB was the king of customer service? That’s gone by the wayside, too.

The iPod shuffle

Magic Bus — The Who

Polly — Nirvana

The Great Gig In The Sky — Pink Floyd

I Can See For Miles — The Who

Whoomp! (There It Is) — Tag Team

Morning News Report; March 29, 2012

RESTAURANT OWNER: MY GUN WILL WORK NEXT TIME I’M ROBBED

Put this down as one of the coolest stories of the past few weeks — the owner of the Chinese restaurant that was robbed Tuesday night on Vernon Ave. attempted to shoot the man who robbed him. However, his gun wouldn’t fire.

The restaurant owner — Min Feng Chen — said it won’t happen next time, ’cause his gun WILL work.

My take: Reminds me of the story about Calvin Tso at the old China King getting robbed — and Mr. Calvin popped a cap in the robber and killed him (tried to find the link on Kinston.com and came up dry).

Listen, I have ABSOLUTELY NO problem with someone defending their property, business or family with a gun. That’s the beauty of our country — mess with a man’s property, business or family and like Mr. Calvin did — you might be carried off by the coroner’s office.

Do your thing, Mr. Min Feng Chen.

1 IN 88 CHILDREN ARE AUTISTIC

The CDC reports one in every 88 children has autism — a number that is almost double what it was just 10 years ago. In boys, autism is more pronounced, as one in 54 have it.

My take: That news staggers me. I have a few friends, including FOB Randy Capps, who have children with autism — and I admire those parents greatly who do such a great job with their kids with autism.

Why is autism in children increasing? We hear the numbers and read the stories about the children, but why — in 2012 — can’t we solve this?

Again, my hat is off to Randy and his lovely wife Shanna, who are simply awesome parents to Ethan — and to all those parents who are helping their children with autism.

APPLE SUED OVER SIRI FALSE ADVERTISING

Apple faces a class-action lawsuit about its’ Siri function — a false advertising suit claiming the voice-activated feature doesn’t do what it’s advertised to do.

My take: I’ve still got my year-old iPhone 4 without the Siri function — but even when I played around with some friends’ 4S, I realized it wasn’t what was advertised. It’ll be interesting to see what happens with this case.

The iPod shuffle

Say Say Say — Michael Jackson & Paul McCartney

Beautiful Day — U2

While You See A Chance — Steve Winwood

Here Comes The Sun — The Beatles

All The Above — On The Rocks

P.S.: Really looking forward to taping this week’s Free Press Radio Program with Jon “Music Elitist” Dawson and Justin “The Kid” Hill this afternoon — we’re going to each share our top 10 pop music acts in history. Dawson’s criteria for the lists includes most original, scope of influence and staying power. Of course, Dawson’s list is going to include seven acts you’ve NEVER heard of … but that’s how he’s earned his “music elitist” title!

Hint: you might see U2 in my list. I’ll post mine here later this afternoon, along with the link to the podcast so you can hear what Dawson and Hill think.

P.P.S.S.: I had a great morning at Seymour Johnson AFB welcoming home Jeff Stephens and Ashton Brinson, who are home after spending eight months in Afghanistan. I’m writing a story for tomorrow’s FP and I’ve got some extra pictures I’m going to share here on the blog.

I’m sure I’ll say this later, but let me say this here: Jeff and Ashton are HEROES — true heroes who put their lives on the line to make sure we still have our freedoms. If you know either of them, please welcome them home!

Morning News Report; March 28, 2012

Bloggees: before I get started, I want to send a sincere thank you to all of you who took the time to write, call, email, Facebook and tweet me and our Free Press family while we mourned the loss of our friend and coworker, Charles Buchanan.

We’ve had several columns and tributes to the man, including my Sunday column, Jon Dawson’s column yesterday and even a poignant letter to the editor from former Free Press City Editor Jennifer Shrader.

We miss Charles. It’s been awful at the office this week without him … I keep waiting for him to poke his head in my office and I can’t pass his office without getting a lump in my throat.

We lost a good one, y’all — and it’s going to be very hard for The Free Press to recover from this loss.

CELL PHONE USE BY DRIVERS BANNED IN CHAPEL HILL

The town of Chapel Hill became the first in the nation to ban the use of cell phones by all drivers in its city limits. The ban is for traditional and hands-free phones.

My take: Thanks, Big Brother. We, as humans, are too stupid to make our own decisions, so it’s nice we have a government (at least in Chapel Hill) that cares enough to take care of us.

Sarcasm intended.

DODGERS SOLD FOR $2 BILLION

The L.A. Dodgers are set to be sold for (gulp!) $2 billion by a group that includes Magic Johnson.

My take: Wow … just wow. And we wonder why it costs $300 for a family of four to go to one of 81 home games a year for a MLB game. Jeez.

MEGA MILLIONS HITS $476 MILLION JACKPOT (OR MORE)

After no one won the Mega Millions jackpot last night, Friday’s estimated total is (gulp!) $476 million. There were three-hour waits last night for tickets in some areas.

My take: Yep … I’m not a big lottery ticket buyer, but I’ll be one of those idiots buying $5 worth of tickets for Friday’s drawing.

The iPod shuffle

The Tide Is High — Blondie

Electric Avenue — Eddy Grant

Damn Girl — Justin Timberlake featuring will.i.am

The Electric Co. — U2

Always Be My Baby — Mariah Carey

Afternoon News Report; March 22, 2012

GET A HAIRCUT, HELP THE SPCA

Just got back from Tonya Sessoms Adam’s Beauty Box, where I got a haircut and the HB got a pedicure. Today, Adams’ business is donating 50 percent of all proceeds (she’s personally donating ALL her personal proceeds) to the SPCA.

My take: Please check it out — you can call Tonya at 252-522-3939 to set up an appointment. And if you can’t make it today, make a call and buy a gift certificate. Additionally, if you bring dog or cat food by, you can get a free gift certificate.

The SPCA does a tremendous job helping animals in our area — a mostly thankless, tough job. Please help them if you can.

SAINTS COACH SUSPENDED FOR A YEAR

The NFL punished New Orleans head coach Sean Payton by suspending him for a year — costing Payton $7.5 million in the process. The Saints also lost draft picks, paid a fine and the principal figure behind the mess (Gregg Williams) is suspended indefinitely.

My take: Pretty harsh, but not unfair in my opinion. If the NFL and commissioner Roger Goodell was trying to send a message, I’d say it’s been delivered. Now, if only MLB, the NBA and the NHL had similar strong commissioners, they might be better off, too.

TEBOW AND THE JETS

Tim Tebow was traded from the Denver Broncos to the New York Jets yesterday.

My take: Very, very curious — simply because the Jets already have a franchise quarterback to whom they recently paid a lot of money. I just don’t see how this is going to work — is Tebow going to play four to 10 plays a game (which I’ve heard mentioned)? Is he going to play in a fullback-type position? Again, just a curious move by the Jets.

The iPod shuffle

Cat Scratch Fever — Ted Nugent

Big Me — Foo Fighters

Electrical Storm — U2

A Man And A Woman — U2

Hold It Now, Hit It — Beastie Boys

Afternoon News Report; March 21, 2012

CHERRY POINT GENERAL APOLOGIZES FOR LOW FLIGHTS OVER KINSTON AIRSPACE

The Cherry Point Marine general whose helicopters flew over Kinston airspace last week without notifying residents apologized to the city of Kinston at this week’s City Council meeting.

My take: It was a very gracious act by the general, albeit unnecessary. Like many of you, I appreciate the hard work our military does to protect us.

But it’s this simple: the general knew his Marines did something wrong by causing a public stir — if residents had known this was going to happen, there wouldn’t have been a problem at all. But when an entire city is wondering why there are “unmarked” helicopters hovering over their heads and 911 lines are burning up with no answers, that causes a problem. The general knew it and he more than rectified the situation.

And anyone who says, “We should allow the military to do whatever they need to do to protect us” or that we shouldn’t question what our military does, go ahead and bury your head in the sand. Those reasons could be used for a multitude of things — and our constitution protects us from them.

IMAGE OF SLAIN UNC PREZ BEING USED IN INDIAN ADS

In one of the most disturbing stories of the day, the photo of slain UNC student president Eve Carson is being used in billboard ads in India.

My take:Insane. More insane is that there is no one to answer questions or to take her pictures off the billboards.

HINES WARD RETIRES

After being cut by the Pittsburgh Steelers, wide receiver Hines Ward announced his retirement yesterday instead of signing with another team.

My take: Pretty classy — especially since there were a handful of teams ready to sign him. It’s refreshing in this day and age of free agency to see a professional athlete THAT dedicated to a city and franchise.

The iPod shuffle

Pinball Wizard — Elton John

If You Could See — Tonic

Discotheque (Hexidecimal Mix) — U2

Not Afraid — U2

Ante Up (Robbin-Hoodz Theory) — M.O.P.

Morning News Report; March 20, 2012

Before we get started today, allow me to wish Darrell Hanks — my awesome little brother — a happy birthday. He’s about the coolest person I know — seriously (even cooler than Jon Dawson? Yes!) – and arguably the best dad out there. Want to wish him a happy birthday, too? Check out his blog by clicking here. Happy birthday, Darrell!

And now … your MNR:

PEYTON TO THE BRONCOS

A press conference has been called by the Denver Broncos this afternoon to allegedly announce the signing of Peyton Manning to their roster.

Of course, this means the Broncos have two starting quarterbacks on their team — remember Tim Tebow? — meaning Denver is probably looking to trade the Chosen One.

My take: Gotta admit — I’m surprised because I figured Peyton would end up with Miami or Arizona. He’s 38 35 (thanks, Paul Thompson!), has a creaky neck and has ALWAYS played his home games in a dome. He DOES know it gets cold in the Mile-High City, right? Wondering how he’s going to do in December when it’s 10-below at game time.

That’s why I thought warm weather locales like Miami and Arizona (and even San Francisco, who got involved over the weekend) would be better fits. But hey, he knows best, right?

As for the trainwreck known as Tim Tebow, can’t wait to see what franchise he wrecks next. Probably Jacksonville, where his cult followers will sell out that ratty-ass stadium that has had to black out home games for several years now, although Miami is also listed as a possible destination (although the Dolphins signed former ECU QB David Garrard yesterday).

ILLINOIS HOLDS PIVOTAL GOP PRIMARY TODAY

All eyes are on Illinois today as GOP front-runner Mitt Romney and underdog Rick Santorum battle it out for valuable delegates in one of President Obama’s home states.

My take: Admittedly, Santorum is making this a race worth watching, although the experts say he is merely forcing Romney to spend more money to win a nomination that is probably already Romney’s.

One argument I’ve heard against that though, is this: it didn’t hurt Obama when he and Hillary Clinton went head-to-head in 2008 … and that’s a pretty damned good argument. They kept their names in the news during what would’ve been meaningless primaries while John McCain ran away with the GOP nomination.

SOUTHERN NASH STUDENT STABBED

A female student had her throat stabbed this morning at Southern Nash High School by another female student.

My take: Yikes. Justin “The Kid” Hill and I spoke to a group of sixth-graders at Woodington Middle School last month and we ate in their lunchroom. I was shocked to learn that you couldn’t get a real knife, spoon or fork — you could only get one of those in the plastic variety.

Seriously? I had yummy Salisbury steak that day and nearly broke my plastic knife and plastic fork trying to eat it.

But it’s stories like this that make me realize that yes, it’s 2012 and we can’t allow kids to have silverware because they’ll stab each other with it. Wow.

The iPod shuffle

Millionaire — Kelis featuring Andre 3000

Your Love Is My Drug — Ke$ha

Megablast — Public Enemy

Union Of The Snake — Duran Duran

Live Your Life — T.I. featuring Rihanna

Morning News Report; March 19, 2012

HOW’S YOUR BRACKET?

Mine’s not too shabby, as I have 10 of the Sweet 16; I still have seven of the Elite Eight and three of the Final Four (my decision to have Murray State as a surprise Final Four participant has blown up in my face).

Lots of intriguing storylines from the first two rounds (I refuse to call the First Four games the first round — yes, I’m a rebel that way), including the unfortunate breaking of Kendall Marshall’s wrist, Duke’s early exit and N.C. State’s first Sweet 16 appearance in a decade.

My takes: For all those who thought Tyler Zeller, John Henson or Harrison Barnes was UNC’s most important player and worthy of first-team All-ACC status over Marshall … now you’re going to find out. I think the Tar Heels will have enough to get past Ohio, but that Kansas game is a hell of a lot tougher without Marshall.

Like many of you, I was frankly shocked by Duke’s performance on Friday. I didn’t have any allusions of the Blue Devils going to the Final Four, but I thought they could make it past Lehigh. What this tells me is that Mike Krzyzewski did a hell of a job coaching this team. What this also tells me is that he needs to recruit a little better or Duke is truly falling behind.

And congrats, Wuffies — you’re at least one and maybe two years ahead of schedule. With one of the top recruiting classes coming in next year, it’s not inconceivable to think State could make a run at the Final Four next year.

KEVIN WILSON FOLO

As announced here last week, South Lenoir football coach Kevin Wilson formally announced his retirement from coaching last week. His decision was family-based and he’ll remain on staff as a teacher.

My take: Yes, it’s a true familial-based decision, but there might not have been a better time for Wilson — a man I truly respect and admire — to get out. There was so much infighting and bitterness in Deep Run this past season, I don’t know how anyone could’ve put up with it.

My unsolicited advice to Lisa Smith, Steve Saint Amand and the Blue Devils — make a decision and make it soon. This does not need to linger over several months. You have the best fan base and financial support in Lenoir County and that fan base expects some results.

EARLY VOTING: DON’T BE SKEERED

My Sunday column was on Lenoir County being approved for Sunday voting during the primary — and the fact that folks shouldn’t be afraid of it.

My take: I love how people in hushed tones — and looking around to see if anyone is listening to them — say things like, “You know THOSE churches encourage their people to vote a certain way.” Replace THOSE with any adjective you’d like — black, urban, country or white — and that’s what is implied.

Good grief — go vote. Anything that gets more folks into a voting booth is a good thing.

And I meant what I said in the column: if you have proof that your minister, preacher, priest or rabbi is encouraging you to vote in a certain way, please let me know.

The iPod shuffle

Just Like A Woman — Bob Dylan

Touch Me — The Doors

Crazy Train — Ozzy Osbourne

Johnny Ryall — The Beastie Boys

Let It Rock — Bon Jovi