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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; 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

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 13, 2012

UNC FOOTBALL PROGRAM HIT HARD

The NCAA finally came down with its punishment against the UNC football program yesterday for its multiple violations, including scholarship reductions (15 over three years), a postseason ban and forfeiture of wins.

My take: While there were some who thought this was too gentle, I thought it was pretty fair, especially considering the Tar Heels had already self-punished itself leading up to this.

VIKINGS CELEBRATE STATE CHAMPIONSHIP

The Kinston boys’ basketball team celebrated their third state title in five years by giving coach Wells Gulledge a Mohawk haircut at a pep rally yesterday.

My take: It was a fun time, that’s for certain — and you have to give Gulledge points for allowing his team to do this to him.

It’s also very possible Gulledge can schedule these type of haircuts for several more years — although the team is graduating some key parts (including Angelo Keyes, C.J. Bradshaw and Kyle Brown), some of the strongest cogs (Josh Dawson, Denzel Keyes, Andrew Lopez and Brandon Ingram) return next season.

And Alex Bass — a statewide prep basketball analyst — states that freshmen Ingram and Darnell Dunn (the son of former North Lenoir star and coach Paul Dunn III), along with sophomores Lopez, Trevon Jones and Qwarri Ham, will keep KHS fighting for 2A titles for the next two to three years.

GLEN RICE JR. KICKED OFF RAMBLIN’ WRECK

Glen Rice Jr., a HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational alum and the son of the former NBA star, has been kicked off the Georgia Tech basketball team. Rice, who led the Yellow Jackets in scoring and rebounding, had been suspended three times this season.

My take: I met Rice a few times when his high school team played in the Holiday Invitational and — in the short times we talked — had no idea he would have this in his future. Here’s hoping he gets his mind right and turns this mess around (if he doesn’t end up in jail).

The iPod shuffle

Say Goodbye To Hollywood — Billy Joel

Somebody To Love — Queen

Come Back To Me — Janet Jackson

The New Style — The Beastie Boys

Will You Still Love Me? — Chicago

Morning News Report; March 6, 2012

HAPPY SUPER TUESDAY

Four hundred and 37 delegates — more than have been awarded in Republican primaries to this point — are up for grabs in 10 states in today’s Super Tuesday races.

My take: It’s pretty much do-or-die time for Rick Santorum today if he hopes to legitimately stay in the race with Mitt Romney. And although some Republicans are less than thrilled to have Mitt at the top of their ticket, today will likely cement that certainty.

Hard to believe that in 2012, we can’t do better than Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama. Seriously.

MAN CHARGED WITH MASTURBATING AT LA GRANGE LIBRARY

A La Grange registered sex offender was arrested last week for masturbating at a computer at the town’s library.

My take: Yep.

What the hell was this dude thinking? No one would see him WITH HIS PANTS AND UNDERWEAR DOWN AROUND HIS ANKLES? Seriously?

And what is a registered sex offender doing at a library anyway? I know it was 11:20 in the morning when he was allegedly saying hello to his little friend, but I think I can safely assume there were small children with their mothers there, too.

I’ve heard of some pretty sick and some pretty dumb things … but churning butter at the library is about the sickest and dumbest.

THREE TAR HEELS NAMED FIRST-TEAM ALL-ACC

The UNC starting front line of Tyler Zeller, John Henson and Harrison Barnes were named to the All-ACC first team. The trio was joined by Virginia’s Mike Scott and Duke’s Austin Rivers.

UNC point guard Kendall Marshall was the first player on the second team and was joined by Maryland’s Terrell Stoglin, FSU’s Michael Snaer, Virginia Tech’s Erick Green and N.C. State’s C.J. Leslie.

My take: I’m not surprised that Marshall didn’t make first team, although I’m a bit disappointed. I still stand by what I said yesterday — without Marshall, UNC is a fourth-place ACC team, but without Zeller, Henson or Barnes, the Tar Heels would be a lesser team, but wouldn’t notice their loss as much. It’s this simple: Kendall Marshall is the most important player in the ACC …period.

What does surprise me, though, is that Scott wasn’t a unanimous pick to the first team on all 62 ballots. There were actually TWO voters (or one who put him on the third team!) who didn’t think Mike Scott was one of the top five players in the ACC this year. Craziness.

Player of the year, rookie of the year and coach of the year are announced today. I still think Marshall is the POTY, Rivers is the obvious ROTY and Virginia’s Tony Bennett would be my vote for COTY, although I wouldn’t be opposed to voting for Miami’s Jim Larranaga.

Why Bennett? Because of transfers and injuries, Virginia has six scholarship players remaining on the roster — and the Cavaliers still finished fourth in the league’s regular season. Larranaga has a good argument, too, for the strong job he has done at Miami — and I wouldn’t be surprised to see State’s Mark Gottfried garner a vote or two.

The iPod shuffle

Shoot To Thrill — AC/DC

Peace Of Mind — Boston

With A Little Help From My Friends — The Beatles

Call Me The Breeze — Lynyrd Skynyrd

The Dem Wrappas — Nelly

Morning News Report; Feb. 14, 2012

DALTON VISITS KINSTON

The leading Democratic candidate for governor, Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton, dropped in to Kinston yesterday for a campaign stop.

My take: One problem — he didn’t tell anyone (including The Free Press and the local TV stations) he was coming. Only because Dalton innocuously tweeted about it on his Twitter feed (and Justin “The Kid” Hill saw it) did we find out and have a reporter there to let the good folks of Kinston know about his visit.

Dalton’s campaign strategies to this point have been mind-baffling. First, he announces he’s running on the same day Bev Perdue makes her shocking decision not to run, burying his news deep in every North Carolina paper and news feed that day. Then, he visits Kinston for a “campaign stop” without telling media.

The concerning thing about the latter is that maybe he didn’t want anyone in Kinston or our area to know — other than big money folks who’ll bankroll his campaign … you know the REALLY important people.

If that’s the reason, that’s not cool; you’re coming to town to just talk to the people who are going to pay the bills? If failing to tell media was just an oversight, it’s a stupid move on his campaign’s part. So … which is it?

He may be the frontrunner for the Democratic bid, but if he continues doing things like this, he won’t be for long. He might be the best candidate for the job — who really knows at this point? — but he and his campaign aren’t doing him any favors right now.

SANDUSKY INAPPROPRIATELY TOUCHED GRANDSON, EX-DAUGHTER-IN-LAW ALLEGES

Accused child rapist Jerry Sandusky is being accused by his former daughter-in-law of inappropriately touching one of his grandsons.

My take: There’s a WHOLE lot of smoke here; hard to believe there isn’t some truth to all these allegations.

ECU TO BE PART OF HUGE-ASS CONFERENCE

East Carolina will be part of a Conference USA/Mountain West league that will include anywhere from 18-24 members.

My take: Well … this was the worst-case scenario for ECU since the Pirates never received that elusive Big East bid. Still, there really should be a BCS bid built in here or what’s the point?

KATE UPTON NAMED 2012 SI COVERGIRL

Kate Upton, a 19-year-old from Florida, is this year’s Sports Illustrated cover girl. Here she is on the cover:

Click on this for a much, much better view.

My take: Uh, wow. Happy Valentine’s Day, guys.

For poops and giggles, take a gander at a few more shots at Ms. Upton:

Again, click on these for better views.

The iPod shuffle

Wait For Me — Daryl Hall & John Oates

Easy Lover — Phil Collins

Heaven Is A Place On Earth — Belinda Carlisle

Teach Me How To Dougie — Cali Swag District

Be Near Me — ABC

Afternoon News Report; Feb. 8, 2012

DUKE-CAROLINA — WHO YA’ GOT?

As I type this, the Duke-UNC rivalry game is about three hours away. The Tar Heels are 6 1/2-point favorites according to Vegas.

My take: I’m not a betting man, but I’d run with that 6 1/2 points ALL DAY LONG. If UNC doesn’t win by 10, I’ll be shocked.

Just too much athleticism on the Carolina squad — and I can’t help but feel the Heels are rounding into shape at just the right time.

LAROQUE GETS A PRIMARY CHALLENGER

N.C. Rep. Stephen LaRoque will have opposition in the Republican primary for District 10 in May: Wayne County’s John Bell, who made his announcement Tuesday in Kinston.

My take: I attended the announcement and was shocked at the lack of Lenoir Countians at the event. In fact, other than the two mentioned in the story, there was no one else there from Kinston or Lenoir County I recognized.

I’ve been asked a few times if I’m surprised someone is lining up against LaRoque … and I’m not. With everything swirling around him — of his own doing and that which has been “created” by enemies he’s created with his outspokenness – you had to know someone in the GOP would challenge him in the primary.

And have no doubt — it could be a nasty primary. While Bell was mostly positive in his announcement, he alluded to LaRoque’s legal troubles and waning support in the Republican Party and made it known he’ll do what it takes to win the primary.

So who wins — since LaRoque has made it known through channels he’s “99.9 percent” certain he’ll run for re-election? I don’t know. The last time LaRoque faced a challenger from Wayne County in the primary (Willie Ray Starling), he lost. But as much as folks want to denigrate LaRoque, don’t believe for a second he hasn’t built up a lot of good will with locals — especially here in Lenoir County. I think LaRoque has the edge at the moment, but let’s see how this campaign evolves in the next few weeks.

NINE SW EDGECOMBE HOOPS PLAYERS ARRESTED, KICKED OFF TEAM

Nine SW Edgecombe basketball players were charged with breaking into their school — and all have been kicked off the team.

My take: Wow — should make the Eastern Plains 2A tournament THAT much easier for SWE’s opponent next week!

The iPod shuffle

You’re Still The One — Shania Twain (my God, THIS is in my iPod?)

Call On Me — Chicago

Do You Really Want To Hurt Me — Culture Club (don’t judge, hell of a song)

Bonnie & Clyde — Jay-Z featuring Beyonce Knowles

Heart Of Glass — Blondie

Morning News Report; Dec. 16, 2011

GOP NOT HAPPY WITH PROSPECT OF NEWT AS NOMINEE

Republican leadership is not relishing the idea of having RINO Newt Gingrich as its potential presidential nominee in 2012.

My take: With the vacuum of leadership in the GOP right now, I can see why the party is concerned. It seems like every week there is a new poll leader.

And you know who loves this? The Democrats — who will almost certainly have President Obama reelected if Newt is the GOP nominee.

BEARS RECEIVER ARRESTED FOR ATTEMPTING TO PURCHASE 1/2-TON OF WEED A WEEK

Chicago Bears backup wide receiver Sam Hurd was arrested this week when he told an undercover cop he wanted to buy 1,000 pounds of marijuana and 5 to 10 kilograms of cocaine a week to distribute in the Chicago area.

My take: Now THAT’S a party. Obviously — if he wasn’t just trying to impress someone (which you know is going to be his defense) — he had a network that would help him. Can’t wait to see how this all turns out…

HOCKEY FIGHT ENDS WITH POO IN A GLOVE

I really can’t do this story any justice … so just check it out yourself.

My take: There are not many things that are worse than sticking your hand in a glove filled with someone’s defecation. Just sayin’.

The iPod shuffle

Awake (Live) — Josh Groban

Animals — Nickelback

Feels Like The First Time — Foreigner

Can’t Help Falling In Love — UB40

Ok — Beastie Boys