Afternoon News Report; Feb. 29, 2012

DAVY JONES DIES

Davy Jones, lead singer of the iconic ’60s group The Monkees, died today at the age of 66.

My take: And another icon of my childhood has passed.

Honestly, I wasn’t a huge fan of The Monkees growing up — not that I’m a super-fan now — but I dated a woman in the 1990s who was a huge fan. One of the best trips we ever made was when I got us credentialled for a Monkees show at the Myrtle Beach House of Blues and she got to meet Peter Tork and Mickey Dolenz after the show. And they were pretty good fellows, too.

Rest in peace, Daydream Believer.

FREE PRESS TO ACCEPT 20 NCPA AWARDS

When the North Carolina Press Association hands out its editorial excellence awards tomorrow night in Chapel Hill, The Free Press newsroom will receive at least 20 of those awards.

My take: I can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am of everyone in our newsroom. We work in an industry that is being told all the time that we’re a dying breed. The level of pay we receive for the amount of work we put in is almost embarrassingly disproportionate. We’ve seen our paper and our staff shrink in these tough economic times.

Yet, every day, the staff with whom I work bring their “A” game and bring home these type of awards.

Many thanks to Nancy Saunders, David Anderson, Wesley Brown, Jon Dawson, Justin Hill, Jane Moon, Charles Buchanan, Janet S. Carter, Ryan Herman, David Hall and Richard Clark for the work they did this past year. Also, I’m very appreciative of Keith Spence, Michael Moon and Zach Frailey for their contributions to our effort throughout the year.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank our publisher/editor Patrick Holmes — the best boss I’ve ever had. He truly cares about his employees, this town and this product and not just his own ego or the bottom line — traits extremely rare in this field.

KINSTON BOYS ADVANCE TO SIXTH STRAIGHT REGIONAL FINALS

As you can see from my play-by-play below, the Kinston boys’ basketball team defeated Wilson Beddingfield last night, 64-53, to advance to the squad’s sixth consecutive trip to the Eastern Regional finals (2007-09in 3A; 2010-12 in 2A). The Vikings will play Reidsville Saturday at noon in the 2A Eastern Regional final for a berth in the state championship.

My take: One word comes to mind about Tuesday’s game — impressive. When is the last time you’ve seen a high school basketball team only turn the ball over four times in 32 minutes? That’s what Kinston did.

When you also consider Josh Dawson had eight assists to only one turnover and Denzel Keyes scored 20 points in the second half, it’s that much more impressive.

Saturday is going to be tough — Reidsville is very athletic, smart and the Rams have a little chip on their shoulder going back to the 2A Eastern Regional football championship when Denzel Keyes caught a Hail Mary touchdown pass from C.J. Bradshaw on the final play of the game. It should be a heck of a game and one I’ll be tweeting and blogging at again.

The iPod shuffle

Tusk — Fleetwood Mac

Pop Life — Prince

Paint It Black — U2

It’s Now Or Never — Elvis Presley

We Will Rock You — Queen

P.S.: For my Tar Heel friends, you’ll have a special “treat” tomorrow; I lost a bet with our good friend Jon Dawson over last weekend’s UNC-Virginia basketball game … so I have to wear a Carolina shirt to work tomorrow. Yes, there’ll be a photo up here to prove it.

Sigh. If only Sammy Zeglinski could hit a freaking 3-pointer…

Morning News Report; Feb. 23, 2012

FREE PRESS SOCIAL MEDIA DAY TODAY

The Free Press will be hosting a “social media” social today at the paper from 2-5 p.m.

My take: I wrote about it in my Sunday column — and I hope to see a bunch of you out here today. The whole event is free with excellent foodage, door prizes and Jon Dawson. If you need more info, call me at 252-559-1074.

KINSTON BOYS, GIRLS ADVANCE TO SECTIONAL FINALS

In the second round of the NCHSAA 2A basketball playoffs, the Kinston girls defeated Farmville Central, 42-32, last night, while the Kinston boys survived a scrappy and tough Topsail team, 66-46.

The wins advance the Vikings to the sectional finals; the girls host Elizabeth City Northeastern at 7 p.m., while the boys travel to Croatan. Both games are at 7 p.m., Friday.

My take: We’ve grown accustomed to the Kinston boys making these deep runs — and I anticipate they’ll do well at Croatan tomorrow night, too.

But it’s been pretty cool seeing the Kinston girls — fueled by Tish Dixon, Brittany Drumgoole, Monique Loftin, Hailey Vermillion and Caroline DeBruhl — also playing well. I’ll say this: there might not be a better trio of girls I’ve seen than Dixon, Drumgoole and Loftin in my 10 years here in Kinston. Should be a fun night tomorrow.

FREEDOM CLASSIC STARTS TOMORROW

The second annual Freedom Classic begins tomorrow between the U.S. Air Force Academy and the Naval Academy; 5,000 fans turned out last year for the three-game series and organizers hope there will be more this year.

My take: I have several sets of tickets to the series — just let me know how many you want and I’ll try to accomodate as many of you as I can. Leave your name in the comments here or email me at bhanks@freedomenc.com.

The iPod shuffle

Winter — Tori Amos

Fixing A Hole — The Beatles

Sledgehammer — Peter Gabriel

All Shook Up — Elvis Presley

Ocean Avenue — Yellowcard

Podcasting, hanging with ol’ Reece

Check out the latest Free Press Radio Program featuring Bret Strelow, who covers the ACC for the Fayetteville Observer. He covered last night’s Duke-UNC game in Chapel Hill and had some very strong observations from the game.

And I forgot to post a link to my appearance last week on the Reece Gardner Hour on TACC-9; you can watch it by clicking here. We talked about the HB, the Kinston Indians, Wes Goforth from WCTI ABC-12, Jon Dawson’s alleged heterosexuality, elections, the Freedom Classic and lots of other fun stuff. Check it out.

Catching up with y’all

Some updates for my bloggy peops:

  • Not sure when we’re going over to the new blog. Haven’t heard anything from the tech folks, so … we’re going to keep humping on this blog until I’m told otherwise. I am insisting, however, the categories and blogroll feature are included on the new one — and at this moment, they’re not there.
  • Jon Dawson, Justin Hill and I taped the final Free Press Radio Program/Podcast of 2011 this morning. We talked about the top 10 most-viewed stories of the year on Kinston.com — and I think it’s a pretty good podcast, even though I sound like I’m half-asleep during most of it. Please give it a listen — I put a lot of my heart into it and, frankly, we’re not getting half the listens I figured we would. Do me a favor — give it a listen and let me know what you think. If it stinks, let me know. If it’s good, tell your boys.
  • Speaking of Dawson, don’t forget his new book has dropped and you can purchase it either at our office (2103 N. Queen St., Kinston), on Amazon.com or at jondawson.com. It would make a hell of a Christmas present for that special person on your list!
  • We lost two of our four players in the Blog Survivor Pool last weekend as both women — SealGirl and Shanna Capps — went with Tennessee over Indianapolis. It’s down to 2010 champ Heelatious (New England last week) and ECPirates11 (New Orleans). If you haven’t paid your $5 yet — either for the first game or for part 2 — please do so. If you don’t, that means I have to pay the winner out of my own pocket … and you know that ain’t cool.
  • Usually, I’ll write a couple of posts about our HBFL playoffs, but, alas, I haven’t had time to barely breathe the past few weeks. However, we’re in the Super Bowl week of both leagues; in the HBFL Live, No. 8 seed Heelatious’ Heelsfan’s Show Me Your TDs, who were 6-7 in the regular season, are facing defending champion and third-seeded Wes Brown’s Crime Dawgs, who went 7-6. The winner of that game receives $200, while the loser gets $50. Lee Wetherington, whose Wreakn Havoc team finished with the most points in the league (1,314) and wins $50 for that. I’ll pay everyone when I get back to town the week of Jan. 1. In the meantime — if you haven’t paid yet (and there are still four who haven’t) — get your dues in. Again, I don’t want to have to pay winnings out of my own pocket, y’all.
  • In the HBFL Online, the top two seeds — the No. 1 Drew Loftis-owned Hookers With Dysentery (10-3) are taking on the No. 2 Elizabeth Moon-owned Grifton Sea Lions (9-4). Drew’s Hookers also were the top scoring team in the league with 1,190 points. There’s no prize in this league, just pride.
  • Congrats to Kinston coach Wells Gulledge, who won the 300th game in his career in last night’s 74-53 victory against North Lenoir at Viking Gym. Here’s a quick look at his 14-year-plus career: 300-86 overall (.777 winning percentage), 254-53 at Kinston (.827), seven conference titles, three Eastern Regional titles and two state championships. Pretty impressive.
  • Some major thank-you’s to former Kinston stars Dory Hines (now at Mount Olive College) and Reggie Bullock (UNC) for coming out to KHS this morning to help Justin “The Kid” Hill and his Free Press 12-and-under basketball team. Dory, in particular, was there the entire the practice and ran drills with the team. Reggie took about 5 minutes and talked to the kids about the importance of staying in school and overcoming adversity. Additionally, Coach Gulledge and current Ole Miss assistant baseball coach Cliff Godwin helped out with drills and motivation. An extremely fun morning — and here’s a cool photo taken after the practice:

Click on it for a better view.

  • The 2011 HighSchoolOT.com Holiday Invitational (formerly known as the GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational) tips off next week in Raleigh and Cary. For the fifth straight year, I am the media coordinator of the event — and this year, I’m bringing some of my friends to help. For the previous three years, Jonathan Massey has been my right-hand man as the tournament’s assistant media coordinator and he continues in that role this year. However, Justin “The Kid” Hill is taking over the role of Holiday Invitational girls’ tournament media coordinator this year. Also, Freedom ENC Desk Chief Richard Clark did a FANTASTIC job designing the game program for the HSOT; if you make it to Raleigh or Cary, make sure you grab a copy. As for game-by-game updates from the tourney, there simply won’t be as many here on the ol’ blog since the good folks at WRAL/Capital Broadcasting Company — the owners of the HSOT brand — have exclusive rights to that info. However, I will be providing early updates with sort of an MNR-type feel each morning. I’ll give you a schedule of that day’s games along with my predictions and thoughts going into each day. As always, though, there’ll be a video wrap-up each day with Triangle heartthrob Nick Stevens and myself and HSOT will live-stream each post-game press conference.
  • A LOT of you have asked about the Hot Blonde and here’s an update: her final chemo was a few weeks ago and right now, she’s just trying to get her life back to normal, i.e., working the chemo out of her system and recovering from her other related surgeries. It’s been an incredibly tough ride for one of the toughest people I know. But I also know this: she has appreciated every one of you who has taken the time to lift her up in prayer — and again, I know there are a lot of you out there who have done just that. You have no idea what your prayers have done to help her and me through this incredibly difficult time in our lives. I’m not exaggerating when I say this: I love you guys. Thank you for being pretty freaking awesome.

Afternoon News Report; Dec. 9, 2011

Many apologies, faithful bloggees — I’ve been all over ENC the past week with my company’s “social immersion” roll-out training. Trust me: you’re going to see a lot about it in the coming weeks and months in TFP, Kinston.com and here on the ol’ blog.

The powers-that-be also haven’t completely archived this blog yet in the change to the new URL, which, incidentally, will be http://bhanks.freedomblogging.com. No, I’m not a big fan of its look right now, but maybe we can dress it up a little bit. I’m not pleased with the lack of categories … but you work with what they give you, right?

Some quick hits on stuff before we plunge into today’s MNR ANR:

  • My twitter feed (@BCHanks) has been blowing up — mostly because I’m really beginning to work it. As many of you know, I am the PA voice of the Kinston Vikings basketball teams, so I’m tweeting updates every chance I get. If you want to know who’s winning tonight’s KHS games against SW Edgecombe (yes, I refuse to call it SouthWest Edgecombe), follow me on Twitter.
  • Ryan Herman, Jon Dawson and I wrapped up the prep football season and talked about a bunch of cool stuff on this week’s Free Press Sports Podcast. I even curse a time or two, just to see if I can get away with it. Seriously, though, if you’re not listening to this weekly podcast thingie we’re doing — you’re missing out. We have a lot of fun with it and this is the best part — it’s the kind of podcast I’d like to listen to. If you haven’t checked it out yet, please do.

Anyhoo, here’s your MNR ANR.

B.J. MURPHY NAMED YP OF YEAR; 20 UNDER 40 NAMED

Kinston Mayor and FOB B.J. Murphy was named the Young Professional of the Year at last night’s Young Professionals of Lenoir County annual gala. Among the other honors handed out last night were TFP’s “20 Under 40″ awards and the Mentor of the Year award by the YPLC to LCC President Dr. Brantley Briley.

My take: There is not a more deserving person than the mayor for this honor. You tell me another 20- or 30-something in our area who has made more of an impact in Kinston/Lenoir County than B.J. Murphy in the past three or four years?

I voted in the 20 Under 40 awards and was duly impressed by the 50 or so people nominated. Some of the most impressive nominations, though, were for Scott Alston, Dana Hill, Benjamin Knight, Michael Parker, Eric Rouse, Samara Sutton-Taft, Mary Crews Whaley and Brian Wiggins.

And a sincere congrats to Dr. Briley — one of the good guys out there.

The iPod shuffle — extended version (and send me your honest shuffle, too, and I’ll post it here in a future MNR)

Eyes Without A Face — Billy Idol

My Michelle — Guns N’ Roses

Throw Yourself Away — Nickelback

Sassafras Roots — Green Day

Modern Love — David Bowie

Wishing You Were Here — Chicago

Changes Comin’ On — Alabama

Bring Em Out — T.I.

Hot Blooded — Foreigner

Red Rain — Peter Gabriel

Morning News Report; Nov. 23, 2011

THE 4.74 DEGREES OF SEPARATION (ON FACEBOOK)

In an interesting study by the University of Milan and Facebook, it’s been found the degree of separation between one random person and another is only 4.74 — and only 4.37 in America.

My take: If you thought the world was getting smaller … you were correct. Very, very interesting read — check it out!

REGGIE GOES FOR 23 IN UNC WIN

Former Kinston High School star Reggie Bullock popped for a career-high of 23 points — including a career-best six 3-pointers in seven attempts — in last night’s rout of Tennessee State.

Check out WRAL’s post-game interview with Reggie:


 

(Also — here’s an excellent video and blog post from former N&Oer and current ESPN reporter Robbi Pickeral in a 1-on-1 interview with Reggie)

My take: It’s good to see that smile on Reggie’s face again — and it’s good to see that shooting stroke back again.

READY FOR A HISTORIC FRIDAY NIGHT?

Ryan Herman and The Free Press are ready as Kinston, Ayden-Grifton and Jones Senior all play for their respective first chances for a state championship berth in the 2AA, 1AA and 1A football games.

My take: And who said this area is a basketball area? Should be a heck of a night Friday — if you want to follow updates from the games, follow my Twitter feed at BCHanks; I’ll be at Kinston, while Herman is at the A-G game (and we’re trying to find someone for the Jones Senior game).

And to answer Herman’s initial question in that link above — me, me, me. I picked 19 of the 32 regional finalists in Nick Stevens’ highschoolOT.com pre-playoffs video — including Kinston, A-G and JS in the regional finals. Yes kids, that’s known as “shameless self-promotion!”

The iPod shuffle

Run To You — Bryan Adams

Girl — Tori Amos

Whenever, Wherever — Shakira

Say You Will — Foreigner

Panama (Live) — Van Halen

Nightly News Report; Oct. 10, 2011

OCCUPY WALL STREET

The phenomenon known as “Occupy Wall Street” — liberal citizens, mostly unemployed — is entering its fourth week and is spreading all over the country and the world. Here’s an informative primer from the Washington Post on the movement.

My take: Well … if you’re unemployed and don’t have anything to do, I guess it’s cool to go hang out with other unemployed people and whine a little bit.

Yes, as the writer of the link states, it is appalling that the top 1 percent of households in our country own anywhere from 30 to 40 percent of the wealth.

But here’s the beauty of America and the American Dream: the top 1 percent is NOT keeping you from joining its ranks. Go out and invent something. Work your ass off and earn your way into wealth. Go to school and get an education.

I am nowhere near wealthy, rich or even remotely financially comfortable. But I have worked my whole life to get to where I am in life — and I started from virtually nothing. These lazy “Occupiers” want to whine, cry and protest, with the hopes of … what? I really have no idea.

This is another area I agree with Rep. Stephen LaRoque, R-Lenoir, who basically had an “Occupier” contact him recently — if you want a job, they’re there. So what if it’s not the job you dream about? Work that job until you’re able to GET the job you want.

In fact, Wesley Brown’s well-written feature in Sunday’s Free Press was about the reality that there aren’t enough native workers to work the fields, so area farmers HAVE to get workers — legal and illegal — to harvest their crops. Where are the people who used to work with their hands?

It’s this simple: Life ain’t fair. Get over it and stop whining to those who have worked their asses off to get to where they are in life. They’re not going to share with you — nor should they.

MARIO WILLIAMS OUT FOR SEASON

Houston Texans defensive star Mario Williams — a Richlands High School product who played for current South Lenoir coach Kevin Wilson and later became the NFL’s No. 1 overall pick after playing at N.C. State — is out for the season after tearing his pectoral muscle.

My take: It’s too bad, too, because Super Mario was finding his rhythm after being moved to outside linebacker for the Texans.

One thing is certain — there’s absolutely NO argument about who would’ve been the better overall No. 1 pick: Mario Williams or Reggie Bush, who Texans fans wanted their team to pick. Williams has shown how valuable he is to Houston — and they’re about to find out even more after he’s gone with this injury.

RIP, AL DAVIS

It’s a few days old, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the passing of Al Davis, the architect of the Oakland Raiders and a true football legend, whether you liked him or not.

My take: I sort of feel about Al Davis the way I felt about Dale Earnhardt — couldn’t stand him, but respected the hell out of him.

Sure, Davis’ time had passed a while ago, but once upon a time, kiddies: Al Davis was THE man in the NFL. He created a personna that permeated the entire Raiders organization and embraced being the bad guy.

In the late 80s and early 90s — thanks to their winning ways on the field and to NWA — the Raiders were THE epitome in cool in the NFL.

I did think it was poignant and just downright cool that the Raiders won Sunday and to see the reaction of those closest to him.

HOTTEST CHEERLEADERS IN 2011?

Thanks to FOB Richard Clark for this one — a website named the ECU cheerleading staff the 10th-best in the country. There’s not another North Carolina school in the top 20 and only Florida State (12), Miami (13) and Virginia Tech (17) made the list from the ACC.

Here’s the photo of some ECU lovelies they use in the feature:

As always, click on the photo for a much, much better view of ENC’s finest.

My take: Nice. THIS might be reason enough to get ECU into the ACC, right? The Big East, at least?

Makes me wonder if I should re-start the Cheerleader of the Day feature we did for a while a couple of years ago. Your input?

The iPod shuffle

Sweet Talkin’ Woman — Electric Light Orchestra

I Just Want To Be Your Everything — Andy Gibb

99 Problems (Acapella) — Jay-Z

Dr. Feelgood — Motley Crue

Walk On Water — Aerosmith

P.S.: Check out my column this week on a way for you to get some free East Coast Wings in your belly — simply by retweeting Free Press stories on Twitter. I also muse about that awesome freaking game between Kinston and Tarboro that ended up with the hometown Vikings winning 54-48 in overtime.

Didn’t have a chance to put this in the story … but Tarboro coach Jeff Craddock is a really classy dude. He’d just gone up and down a three-and-a-half hour rollercoaster that ended with his team losing a tough game, but he hung around for 15 minutes after the game and answered every question posed to him by a half-dozen reporters. It’s easy to be classy when your team is winning, but to still be classy when your team has lost a tough game is a lost art. Thanks, Coach Craddock.

Whilest you’re at it, check out my boy Richard Clark’s strong column about men needing to be, well, men. Excellent read.

Odds and ends

Some odds and ends for your perusal this afternoon:

  • I waspart of a WNCT CBS-9 report that was filed by Tony Rawlings about our Catch A Criminal program, in which we’ve seen 5 of the 7 folks listed become arrested; it’s thanks to the little bank and The Free Press. The report aired at 5:30 p.m. and in subsequent newscasts — I’ll pop a link to it soon.
  • I had the honor of meeting Comet 65 — Mark Meadows — 11 days ago at the North Lenoir-Cleveland game; his son is a lineman on the Cleveland junior varsity team. Mark has supported the blog since virtually its inception and it was a lot of fun talking to him the entire game. Here he is:

  • You’ve read my raves about Amanda Hickey’s Within Driving Distance blog and her articles in the Max Magazine portion of the Jacksonville Daily News. Sadly, she’s calling it quits with WDD, although she’ll still pop a press release up there occasionally. I still feel like this is one of the best features in Freedom ENC — you can catch up on some of Amanda’s travels by clicking on the link above or to the right.
  • A very, very happy birthday today to one of my favorite folks in Kinston — the venerable Reece Gardner. I truly believe there is not a single person in this town who is more positive than Mr. Gardner; I wish his positive attitude would rub off on more of us here and Kinston would be a much better place.

Podcast goodness just for YOU

You know you want to hear Jon Dawson’s voice. Or mine. Or Ryan Herman’s. Or even Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy’s or Greene Central football coach Kenneth Grantham’s. Well, here are your opportunities to do JUST THAT:

A quick heads-up on these podcasts — if you open them on your iPhone, you can listen to them on it. Sweet, right? Now, go buy an iPhone!

On nice people, podcasts, puppy dawgs and prep football

Some quick hits this afternoon:

  • Here’s my Sunday column, where my newsroom and I came up with a list of the nicest people in Kinston and Lenoir County. Let me know who we forgot
  • Check out this week’s Free Press Podcast featuring a trio of Free Pressers: Assistant Managing Editor Nancy S. Saunders, Sports Editor Ryan Herman and Freedom ENC desk chief Richard Clark. Lots of good stuff in there, including NFL analysis, prep football stuff and banter between Jon Dawson and me
  • Speaking of Mr. Clark, here’s his Sunday column – another home run, in my opinion, especially when it comes to the part about his puppy dawg
  • Congrats to K’Hadree Hooker and Wolfpack Nation — the South Lenoir defensive star chose N.C. State over Georgia Tech and Virginia Tech Friday night
  • And a great Sunday sports column by Herman, which includes his quick analysis of the 2011 prep football season