Morning News Report; March 30, 2012


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.


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.


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

Paying off a bet … yada, yada, yada

The only comment I’ll provide for this abomination is that I pay off my bets. Carolina 54, Virginia 51. Congrats, Jon Dawson, you magnificient bastard.

My stomach, chest and arms have broken out into a rash. May God have mercy on my soul.

Here’s a nice picture to restore order to the universe:

As always, click on the photos for better (or not so better) views.

And we’re taping a Carolina-Duke podcast in a few; I’ll post it here — and you’re going to want to hear it!

Afternoon News Report; Feb. 29, 2012


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.


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.


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…

Afternoon News Report; Feb. 8, 2012


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.


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 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; Nov. 7, 2011


In what is quite possibly the most disturbing story that you’ll hear or read about this week, former Penn State defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was sexually abusing young boys while he was in Happy Valley. The PSU AD and the school’s VP resigned overnight and will be charged with perjury and failure to report the alleged child abuse because of the controversy.

Sandusky almost had two head-coaching jobs in the ACC, too: at Maryland … and at my University of Virginia.

My take:I’m thankful he didn’t turn up in Charlottesville … but what an awful story.

Several questions, though:

  • Why didn’t PSU get rid of this cretin when he was caught sodomizing a 10-year-old boy in the shower — AT PENN STATE — in 2002?
  • How does Joe Paterno emerge from this — will this speed up his resignation/retirement?
  • How can this story lead every news source in America — CNN, Fox News and the Big 3 — but ESPN buries it until halfway through SportsCenter all weekend?

An awful and disturbing story, to be sure.


And now … to a better story: America’s evangelist, North Carolina’s own Billy Graham, celebrates his 93rd birthday today.

My take: Doesn’t matter if you’re a Baptist, Methodist, Catholic or Buddhist, you have to love Billy Graham. He’s a man of strong faith who many — including U.S. presidents for decades — have sought for his wise advice. Hope we get to write of many more birthdays for him!

NCSU 13, UNC 0

N.C. State won its fifth straight football game against archrival UNC on Saturday, 13-0.

My take: The Wuffies were having a bad season to that point, but the victory helps them to a winning record, at least for a week.

The more important question is this — does the win help Tom O’Brien hang onto his job for another year?

It goes without saying the loss helps speed up the exit of UNC interim coach Curtis Everett Withers … right, Heels fans?

(By the way, thanks for the corrections, bloggees; Curtis Withers was a UNCC/West Charlotte High School basketball star back in the day and I got my Withers’ mixed up!)


While the military was being honored at halftime of ECU’s ugly loss to Southern Miss at Dowdy-Ficklen on Saturday, an idiot disrobed and strutted his stuff across the field in grand streaking fashion.

My takes: The link above takes you to WITN, where they have a slideshow of the antics. Seriously, a slideshow.

Would we have done the same thing on, if we would’ve had a photographer at the game? I’d like to think we wouldn’t have, but that decision would’ve likely been made above my head.

However, I’ll say this — for all those page-view-hungry executives out there, the WITN story and photo “gallery” has been a boon for clicks. As of 9:45 a.m., the story already had 312 comments and countless tens of thousands of PVs.

Last thought: Saturday’s action makes this Allstate commercial THAT much funnier to me:

And by the by, these Allstate Mayhem commercials are AWESOME.

The iPod shuffle

About A Girl — Nirvana

Wonderful Tonight — Eric Clapton

The Show (Live) — Doug E. Fresh & Slick Rick

In Da Club — 50 Cent

Family Man — Daryl Hall & John Oates

Nightly News Report; Oct. 26, 2011

Good grief … I’m sorry, guys and gals, but life and work has been kicking my ass. Seriously can’t remember the last time I’ve gone five days without posting here — but not going to let it happen again.

Thanks for the concerned calls, emails, texts and Facebook messages — I probably don’t tell y’all this enough, but I truly appreciate you for taking the time to visit this little spot and for taking the time to check on me and the HB (who appreciates all of you, too!).

I have a massive MNR ANR NNR for your perusal, standings update, game pick ‘ems and survivor pool update before my head hits a pillow tonight.


Free Press government writer David Anderson has stories on the six Kinston City Council candidates while Jon Dawson and I have podcasts accompanying David’s work (click on the link at the end of each candidate’s story).

My take: And today is just Day 1 of the fun and games. Thursday, we feature the Pink Hill mayor’s race; Friday is Pink Hill town board (I’ll have strong comments on that one tomorrow); Saturday is La Grange town board; Sunday features Greene County races; and Monday brings you Jones County.

There is absolutely no better place for you to go to get to know these candidates than in these stories and podcasts. You get to hear the candidates in their own voices, unfiltered and without bias.

I have to give serious props to Anderson, Justin “The Kid” Hill, Wesley Brown and Jane Moon for putting their stories together — they produced these stories ON TOP of the regular work they churn out.

Much love has to go to J-Dizzle Dawson, though — he produced each and every one of the podcasts, even living through one of my particularly gaseous days in his office last week. Trust me — he deserves combat pay for that day of work.

One final nugget on the Kinston City Council candidates — here’s how the six rank in page views/listens (not that it is any indicator of who is actually going to win the race): Kelly Jarman, Sammy C. Aiken, John Nix, Jimmy Cousins, Joe Tyson and Lennie Peterson.

Gotta admit, I figured Nix and Tyson would have more and Aiken would have less.


Nine people — including seven children — have contracted the E. Coli infection, with three in Raleigh hospitals in intensive care. Eight of those nine attended the State Fair last week.

My take: As did the HB and I on Saturday, where I ate nearly everything in the fairgrounds. Don’t believe me? Check out my Facebook page and look at the pictures, where I went on a fair-food eating binge where I ate — no joke — a turkey leg, a Krispy Kreme bacon cheeseburger, deep-fried macaroni and cheese and deep-fried Oreos.

Don’t have a complaint about ANY of it, either … unless I get E. Coli from it.


Quite a day for UNC basketball as the Tar Heels announced what their camo uniforms will look like for the Nov. 11 Carrier Classic game:

(Photo from; click on it for a better view)

The Heels program also received a signficant verbal commitment from Brice Johnson, a four-star 6-9, 200-pound forward ranked 25th overall by ESPNU and 49th overall by in the Class of 2012 from Cordova, S.C.

My take: Gotta admit … that camo Carolina Blue is pretty sweet. There, I said it. The fact the Heels will all be wearing U.S.A. on their backs instead of their names is pretty freaking cool, too.

And getting Johnson, who will probably end up top 20 (or higher) before the season ends? Good grief. Save some for the rest of us, Ol’ Roy?


Thanks to The Kid (Justin E. Hill) for this cool nugget: according to the Wall Street Journal, while Auburn-Georgia is the “dirtiest” college football rivalry over the past five meetings, UNC-Duke is No. 2. Seriously.

My take: Interestingly, UNC-NCSU is the ninth-dirtiest, making the Tar Heels the only program to be ranked twice in the top 10.


WITN NBC-7 has a feature that is pretty doggoned cool — you pick the game sports anchor Billy Weaver names the station’s prep football game of the week. This week, you get to choose between Ayden-Grifton/Goldsboro, Jacksonville Northside/East Duplin and two other insignificant games.

My take: Have to grudingly admit — that’s a pretty cool idea. I can’t believe there’s only 12 votes right now (around 10:30 p.m., Wednesday); I figured there’d be dozens of votes pouring in right now.

As much as I love A-G (Chargers coach Paul Cornwell is our Free Press High School Football Podcast guest this week, which will be posted tomorrow), that Northside/East Duplin has to be the game of the week, hands-down.


Kinston climbed one spot to No. 4 in this week’s Associated Press 2A prep football poll, while A-G jumped one spot to No. 5 in the 1A poll.

The Vikings are No. 10 in Deana King’s 2A poll, while the Chargers are No. 6 in her 1A poll.

Neither Kinston or A-G are in Chris Hughes’ statewide poll – but that’s not an insult to the Vikings or Chargers. Chris has a unique poll that ranks ALL the prep football teams in the state and places them in a top 25.

In the interest of full disclosure, our very own Ryan Herman is a voter in the AP and polls.

My take: Only one week of high school football left, kids! I’ll have a separate blog post on some of my thoughts to accompany the podcast tomorrow — I think you’ll find it interesting…

The iPod shuffle

Don’t Mess With My Man — Nivea featuring Brian & Brandon Casey

Don’t Do Me Like That — Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

Holiday — Green Day

O Let’s Do It (Remix) — Waka Flocka Flame featuring Diddy, Rick Ross & Gucci Mane

Never Let ‘Em C U Sweat — Nelly & The Teamsters

Morning News Report; Oct. 20, 2011


It is official: Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is dead.

My take: All fine and good … but let’s do our best to make sure another Gadhafi doesn’t rise up again in the Middle East.


Dozens of exotic animals escaped Tuesday when their owner released them, then killed himself in Zanesville, Ohio. As of this morning, all of the animals have either been killed or are accounted for, according to officials.

My take: A bizarre situation, to be sure. As the link states above, though, even animal advocates agree there was really nothing anyone could do other than take the animals down — so, PETA, BTFU. ‘Cause you know that is what is happening next…


The Atlantic Coast Conference’s Operation Basketball took place in Charlotte yesterday with UNC picked to finish first by the assembled media. Duke was picked second, followed by Florida State and the God-fearing Cavahoos of America’s University fourth.

Also, UNC’s Harrison Barnes was picked as the preseason player of the year and Duke’s Austin Rivers was selected as the preseason rookie of the year.

My take: Yeah, yeah … congrats, Tar Heel fans! I’m just excited my Hoos aren’t picked to finish last again.

I’ll say this, though: I think this is going to be one heck of an ACC season.

The iPod shuffle

Lady With The Spinning Head — U2

Cornflake Girl — Tori Amos

Off That — Jay-Z featuring Drake

Under Pressure — David Bowie & Queen

I’ll Wait (Single Edit) – Van Halen

P.S.: Just a heads-up — REALLY slow here on the blog this week, because we’ve been taping candidate’s podcasts for our election coverage next week; in fact, we are taping 21 podcasts with the candidates for the Kinston City Council, La Grange Town Council, Pink Hill Mayor and Pink Hill Town Council. Yes … 21.

Many props to Jon Dawson, who is producing each and every one of these bad boys, along with David Anderson, Justin Hill and Wesley Brown for helping put the questions together. Also, thanks to tech guru Scott Edgington for getting them up on our site.

The podcast schedule — which I’ll link to all of them next week here on the blog a FULL DAY! before they go live on — is:

  • Wednesday: Kinston City Council (Sammy Aiken, Jimmy Cousins, Kelly Jarman, John Nix, Lennie Peterson and Joe Tyson)
  • Thursday: Pink Hill Mayor (Yvonne Stroud Deatherage, Darren Powell, Carol Sykes and Glenda Willis)
  • Friday: Pink Hill Town Council (Debra Grady, Manda Herring, Mike Hill, Donald Ray King, Marion Mitchell and Robin King Whaley)
  • Saturday: La Grange Town Council (Curt Boone, Larry Gladney, Albert Gray, Clifton Harrison and Chris McAllister)

We’ll kick off the political coverage on Tuesday with stories on all the Greene County candidates, although we didn’t do podcasts with them; Jones County candidates will come at a future time.

Morning Sports Report; Sept. 23, 2011


The N.C. State football team embarrassed itself on national television last night, losing 44-14 at Cincinnati.

My take: I really thought Tom O’Brien had the Wuffie Ship pointed in the right direction … but, wow. C’mon, Brent Pelletier and Wolfpack Nation — what the heck is going on in Raleigh? Is TOB going to survive this season?


The Florida Marlins’ closer, Leo Nunez, who has 36 saves this year, has been suspended by MLB because, well, he isn’t Leo Nunez. It appears Mr. Juan Carlos Oviedo — his real name — has been playing under an assumed identity. He can’t return to the U.S. until this is cleared up.

My take: Frankly, I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more. The talent pipeline from Central America, Cuba and South America to MLB is a rusty one, at best, and I wouldn’t be surprised if more of this doesn’t come out in the upcoming weeks.

Can’t wait to talk to Chris Hatcher about THIS one…


With nothing resembling a deal in sight, the NBA is ready to start postponing training camps, which were set to begin Oct. 3.

My take: I’m as big an NBA fan as there is in Lenoir County, but if the league loses games — or even a season — to this mess, it’s going to lose me, too. The reason the NFL fixed their mess is because folks NEED their football. NBA folks, you’re NOT needed — and you’re going to realize this when you get your stuff fixed and no one is showing up to games unless you’re giving away tickets.


The iPod shuffle

F**k You! — Cee Lo Green

Dead And Bloated — Stone Temple Pilots

Pinball Wizard — Elton John

Clocks — Coldplay

Emenius Sleepus — Green Day

P.S.: Justin “The Kid” Hill and I have a little bet going on the poll on the front of – I said there would be significantly more ECU fans than UNC fans in our readership area while he said the opposite. Well … at this moment, he’s correct and I’m not as UNC is outpointing ECU, 36 percent to 25 percent, with 59 votes counted.

C’mon, Pirate Nation! Represent!

Morning News Report; Sept. 20, 2011

Sorry about missing yesterday’s MNR — buried with “real” work at the ol’ TFP. This way, though, you get a super-sized MNR today!


My Sunday column was about the — in my opinion — ridiculous attention North Carolina legislators are paying to trampling the rights of gay folks in our state.

While there has been some intelligent discourse in the comments — thanks, Aaron Taylor! — there has also been some pretty vile statements, too. Additionally, I have received some pretty nasty emails and messages from those opposed to what I believe.

As someone wrote on either my Facebook or the story (I really can’t remember which), this is not a theocracy. This is a country founded on the principle of freedom of religion — not the principle that you have to believe what I believe (or what Rick Perry, Sarah Palin or Barack Obama believes).

Am I a homosexual? Nope — never been interested in playing for that team, NTTAWWT. But I believe that, regardless of your sexual orientation, you should have the opportunity to marry the person you love, whether they’re of your same sex. To deny that right is very un-American to me.

But you know what? I respect Heelatious and anyone else’s right to disagree with me — and I won’t call them names … unless they’re from South Carolina. You know how those South Carolina people are, right Randy Capps?


After years of allowing anonymous comments on our stories at, we will be switching to a Facebook-based commenting tool around 5 p.m. today on the site.

My take: To which I say — about time.

For years, I was the advocate for the anonymous commenter at TFP; in my Libertarian mindset, I felt anonymity was a good checks-and-balances tool of the article the comments appeared alongside it.

However, after years of blatant and tasteless attacks by those who think they’re anonymous (they’re really not), we’re moving to this option, which I’m very excited about.

There will be whiners. But in three months, when everything is going smoothly, I feel like we’ll be wondering why we didn’t do this earlier.


The N.C. Democrats are taking the name of a Confederate hero and a white supremacist off their annual fundraising event.

My take: I had heard of the Vance-Aycock dinner but had NO IDEA it was named after those two. Interesting that North Carolina’s “progressive” party has had this in its back pocket this long…


Syracuse and Pittsburgh formally joined the Atlantic Coast Conference on Sunday, although they won’t be able to participate in the league until June 2014. Speculation is rampant about whether the ACC will now go to 16 members and if so, who the new members will be.

My take: No disrespect to our good friends in Greenville, but it probably won’t be ECU. As I mentioned when ECU made a press release yesterday about conference expansion (here’s David Hall’s story on it), the best-case scenario I see for the Pirates is the Big East — although I’m yet to see a mention of the possibility in the national press.

But would the Pirates want to go to a watered-down Big East that might not even have a BCS bid after all the shuffling is finished? C’mon, Pirate Nation, let me know.


The UNC football program is vacating 16 of its wins from the 2008-09 seasons, reduced scholarships and put itself on two years probation in an attempt to pacify the NCAA, which released its notice of allegations against the Tar Heels program.

My take: Not sure it’ll be enough for the NCAA, but we’ll see. Getting rid of Butch was a big deal, though.


N.Y. Yankees relief pitcher Mariano Rivera set the Major League Baseball saves record when he retired Minnesota 1-2-3 in a 6-4 win yesterday afternoon. It was his 602nd career save.

My take: Hard not to like Mo even though I abhor the Yankees. And this is going to be a hard record to break; if someone started attempting to do it today, they’d need to have 40 saves a season for the next 15 seasons.

The iPod shuffle

Evil Woman — Electric Light Orchestra

Hard To Say I’m Sorry/Get Away — Chicago

How To Save A Life — The Fray

Rough Boy — ZZ Top

I Gotta Feeling — Black Eyed Peas