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; Feb. 7, 2012

CLINT EASTWOOD: I’M NOT AFFILIATED WITH OBAMA

Remember that cool Super Bowl commercial with Clint Eastwood in which he declared it’s halftime for America? He spent yesterday claiming it wasn’t a veiled reelection commercial for President Obama.

My take: And that was EXACTLY what I thought when I watched it — that he was talking about the halfway point of Obama’s tenure; glad I wasn’t the only one who thought that.

However, Eastwood has a long history of conservative views — which made the ad all the more confusing.

Still — a hell of an ad and it made me want to go out and buy another Jeep:

GAS TO HIT $4 A GALLON THIS SPRING?

Experts in this story are predicting gas prices will increase to $4.05 a gallon this spring before they start falling again.

My take: And you know what we’ll do? Continue filling up our gastanks with nary a complaint.

It’s amazing how we’ve been conditioned to accept this crap. Can you imagine 10 years ago — when gas prices topped out at $1.55 a gallon (and we bitched about that!) — that we’d be filling up every day at $3.60 a gallon?

GRONKOWSKI DANCES, PATRIOTS FANS ANGRY

Following New England’s loss to the N.Y. Giants in Sunday’s Super Bowl, Patriots players — including “injured” tight end Rob Gronkowski — danced the night away in Indianapolis.

My take: The only bothersome thing here is … well, nothing. These guys are human. So, they want to dance.

And don’t forget — IT’S ONLY A GAME.

The iPod shuffle

Splurge — Nelly

Jaded — Aerosmith

Within You Without You — The Beatles

Who Wears These Shoes — Elton John

I Run To You — Lady Antebellum

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.

Morning News Report; Aug. 9, 2011

LONDON BURNING

Civil unrest continues to sweep through London as gangs of people are looting and burning the city. It all started with the shooting death of a black resident Saturday and has continued throughout London since then.

My take: It’s kind of a surprise for the dignified British to be behaving like this. But with the economy crashing worldwide, I won’t be surprised if this spreads to the states…

UGGLA EXTENDS HITTING STREAK TO 29 GAMES

Dan Uggla of the Atlanta Braves extended his hitting streak to 29 games last night with a fifth-inning infield single against Florida.

My take: Two reasons for mentioning this — in one of my fantasy baseball leagues, an owner cut him when he was struggling … and who picked him up off waivers? This guy (yes, I’m pointing at myself).

Secondly, who honestly knew the Braves’ record-holder for consecutive hit games was some dude named Rico Carty in 1970? Not this guy. But still a great trivia question for you and your boys.

‘DIRTY DANCING’ REMAKE IN THE WORKS

In news that warms the deep, dark cockles of Jon Dawson’s black heart, the 1987 hit movie “Dirty Dancing” is being remade.

My take: The principal characters — made famous by the late, great Patrick Swayze and uber-hot Jennifer Grey — have yet to be cast, although it appears Justin Timberlake is in the lead for Swayze’s old part.

I doubt I watch it (unless the HB forces me to see it at gunpoint, which is likely), but the original was pretty good. Don’t judge.

The iPod shuffle

Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? — Rod Stewart

Boom Boom Pow — Black Eyed Peas

You Say You’re Leavin’ — Robin Rogers

FEZ-Being Born — U2

I’ll Be There For You — Bon Jovi

Morning News Report; Aug. 8, 2011

DOW DROPS 200 POINTS EARLY

Following the lowering of the United States’ credit rating from AAA to AA+ late last week, the U.S. stock market dropped 200 points in the first few minutes of today’s trading.

My take: And the economy continues to worsen. I’m betting there are some of my banking buddies here and all over the country who are sweating it a bit this morning…

KARMA X2

In two tales of prep sports woes, the South Johnston football program was fined $400 and given probation for illegal activities this summer. In the Southeastern Regional of the American Legion national tournament, Cherryville Post 100′s season ended in a double-forfeit after a melee in Sumter, S.C.

My take: You might be asking — what do these two incidents have in common? The reputations of the respective coaches is the answer.

Joe Salas brought South Johnston to unparalleled heights in South Johnston’s football history — but he did it in unclassy fashion, including that infamous 84-6 defeat of North Lenoir on the Hawks’ Senior Night in 2009 when Salas had his team run up the score in the fourth quarter.

Salas resigned under pressure by the South Johnston administration late last month because of the NCHSAA investigation.

Post 100′s coach — Bobby Dale Reynolds, who also coaches East Rutherford High School’s baseball team — is arguably one of the best coaches in North Carolina’s prep baseball history. He’s won seven Legion state championships and several NCHSAA titles.

He has also drawn the ire of Legion and NCHSAA officials on several occasions with his boorish behavior through the years. I can promise you this: Reynolds’ poor reputation among Legion officials (national and state) sped up their decision to force the double forfeit. Why else would they double-eliminate both teams when it was clearly the Georgia team that instigated the behavior in the game (watch the video at the above link)?

Allow me to add this: I covered Cherryville Post 100 baseball for six or seven years when I was a stringer and reporter for the Gaston Gazette and Shelby Star in the 1990s and early 2000s. I love those folks in Cherryville and at Post 100 and I hate what happened to those kids — they deserve much better than what happened to them. Maybe this will be the impetus to show Post 100 officials they can do much better than the coach they have in place now.

South Johnston administration learned that lesson and that program will be better for it.

HE’S JUST A CADDIE … RIGHT?

Steve Williams, the former caddie for Tiger Woods, caddied for Adam Scott, who won this weekend’s Bridgestone tourney in Ohio. Afterward, Williams — who was unceremoniously dumped by Tiger a few weeks back — essentially took the credit for the victory, a fact that is rubbing some of those in the golf community the wrong way.

My take: I didn’t watch the tourney, but from what I’ve read and heard on sports talk radio this morning, Williams didn’t take any of the shots or make any putts for Scott.

Someone just needs to tell “Stevie” to STFU … until his best-selling novel about being Tiger’s caddie hits bookshelves. THEN he can talk about whatever he wants.

The iPod shuffle

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band (Reprise) — The Beatles

Smells Like Teen Spirit — Nirvana

I Don’t Wanna Cry — Mariah Carey

I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For — U2

The Original Miami Vice Theme — Jan Hammer

P.S.: I was invited to participate in a fantasy football draft by FOB (and two-time HBFL Online Draft champion) Brent Pelletier on Saturday — and had a blast. I’ve played fantasy football since 1995 but took part in an auction draft for the first tim in my life. Can’t wait to do my next one. Thanks, BP!

Afternoon News Report; April 29, 2011

Consider this your royal wedding-free zone…

THE WORLD IS GOING TO HELL

… and it’s not just because of the royal wedding mess. In the last 48 hours or so, there have been two Marines and a woman arrested for molesting a 5-year-old, a former Kinston police officer arrested for sexual abuse of his own 5-year-old child and a Winston-Salem teacher being arrested for continuous sexual abuse with a high school student.

My take: Seriously disgusting. I’ve spent most of my life thinking people are basically good … but I’m beginning to think the opposite.

There are some sick, sick people out there, folks.

EXXON MOBIL POSTS 69 PERCENT EARNINGS BOOST

You may be paying $1 more a gallon than you were a year ago, but all that’s done has helped Exxon post record profits in the first quarter.

My take: And you know what? There isn’t a damned thing you can do about it. Need to go somewhere? You need gas.

Exxon Mobil to you: Screw you; deal with it.

CAM NEWTON SELECTED FIRST BY PANTHERS

As predicted practically everywhere, Auburn’s Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Cam Newton was the 2011 NFL Draft’s No. 1 pick by the Carolina Panthers.

My take: Although I think Newton is basically the 2011 version of Oakland bust Jamarcus Russell, I’m going to hold out hope that the powers-that-be in Charlotte know what they are doing.

The iPod shuffle

Thicky Thick Girl — Nelly featuring Murphy Lee & Ali

Flesh For Fantasy — Billy Idol

Shooting Star — Poison

The Rockafeller Skank — Fatboy Slim

Legs (Remix) — ZZ Top

P.S.: Here’s my story on South Lenoir winning the NCHSAA sportsmanship award; congrats, Blue Devils!

P.P.S.S.: I have four tickets to each of this weekend’s ECU baseball games vs. Southern Miss (today at 6 p.m.; tomorrow at 3 p.m.; Sunday at 1 p.m.). Want ‘em? Hit my email at bhanks@freedomenc.com with “ECU tickets” in the subject line along with a way to contact you and how many tickets and to which day you want in the body of the email. I’ll draw for them around 3 today.

Afternoon News Report; April 26, 2011

Sorry for the tardiness of this and for no MNR/ANR yesterday — have one guy out on vacation and another off for training. TOO MUCH WORK, NOT ENOUGH PLAYTIME MAKES BRYAN A DULL BOY.

Or something like that. On to the MNR ANR:

JUDGE ENDS NFL LOCKOUT

A district court judge in Minnesota ended the NFL lockout by granting an injunction players requested. The NFL is appealing the decision.

My take: For the love of all that is good and holy, I wish these jerkwads would come to an agreement and get this behind us. BRYAN MUST HAVE HIS NFL.

Let’s just hope the appeal gets tied up in courts for the next two or three years and we get our season(s).

WOLFPACK MASCOT’S RELATIVES POISONED

The sister and father of the N.C. State Wolfpack mascot, along with two other dogs, were found poisoned at their Elizabeth City home. It appears they were poisoned by fish soaked in antifreeze.

My take: Disgusting. I truly hope they find the douchebags who did this and soak their heads in antifreeze.

You know, hurting a human — who can defend themselves — is bad enough. But poisoning innocent animals? There’s a special place in hell for asshats who do that.

Oh, and I wanted to link the Elizabeth City Daily Advance story — the paper who broke the story — to this nugget, but it’s a pay site.

FORD POSTS LARGEST 1Q PROFITS IN 13 YEARS

Ford Motor Company posted a 22 percent profit in the first quarter of 2011, its largest gain in the same period in 13 years.

My take: Good for Ford, who has recovered the right way — without government assistance (like General Motors and Chrysler). Makes me want to go buy a Mustang.

The iPod shuffle

25 Or 6 To 4 — Chicago

Dopeman (Remix) — N.W.A.

I Wanna Rock — Twisted Sister

Don’t Dream It’s Over — Crowded House

Fight The Power — Public Enemy

Morning News Report; March 25, 2011

DUKE GOES DOWN

In one of the shocking upsets of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, Duke — 9.5-point favorites entering the game — lost to Arizona, 93-77, in a Sweet 16 matchup in Anaheim, Calif., last night.

My take: How shocked was I? I had to be at the office early this morning, so I fell asleep at halftime. My phone woke me up around 5 a.m. with texts from my HB, updates from my Facebook page and an ESPN alert.

I have to admit — I had no idea this was coming. Without Kyrie Irving, I figured Duke was a Final Four team; with him, I thought they were a national championship game lock. As my good friend Richard Clark has said, chemistry is a fickle thing.

So what happens now, Dookies? Is Irving back? Does one of the Plumlees try their hand in the NBA Draft? Does K run out of hair dye?

My answers — Irving leaves (unless there is an NBA lockout); I wouldn’t be surprised if one of the Plumlees leave; and K’s hair is whiter than Kyle Singler’s shoulders.

USPS CUTTING 7,500 JOBS, CLOSING 2,000 OFFICES

The U.S. Post Service is cutting 7,500 jobs from its rolls and closing 2,000 offices in its next round of budgetary moves.

My take: Probably getting to be too little, too late for the USPS … which, incidentally, has employed my HB for the past 25-plus years. Until it overhauls its business model, it’s going to continue bleed money … not unlike my industry.

‘MUFFIN TOP’ MAKES IT INTO OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY

The term “muffin top” — defined as the protuberance of fat above the waistband of a tight pair of trousers — is now in the Oxford English Dictionary.

My take: Ironic since a couple of you were asking what it meant when I brought it up when we were at LCC on Wednesday — when I saw more muffin tops than I’ll ever be able to forget. But now you know.

The iPod shuffle

Having A Blast — Green Day

Alex Descends Into Hell For A Bottle Of Milk — U2

Rump Shaker (Radio Mix) — Wreckx-N-Effect

One Night — Elvis Presley

St. Louie — Nelly

Morning News Report; Nov. 16, 2010

Before we get started, just a few words about the new-look blog; there are still some bugs since the talented Shana Norris fixed it following Hack-A-Rama 2010, including weird coding for some posts. The bad news is that those really can’t be fixed, unless I go back in and clean up the 3000-plus posts we’ve had on this blog since August 2006.

Sigh.

The good news is that, for better or worse, the blog is working again because of the hard work of Ms. Shana. Thanks, Online.

Now, on to the MNR:

ROCKY MOUNT CITIZENS PROTEST SANDERSON

While Kinston and Lenoir County welcomes Sanderson Farms with open arms, Rocky Mount and Nash County citizens are protesting the possibility of the poultry plant coming to their area.

My take: It has as much to do with the economic situation in both counties as it does with environmental concerns — while we’re struggling financially, Rocky Mount is booming. And from everything I’ve seen, read and heard from officials, there are no environmental concerns in Lenoir County; as Mark Pope says, Sanderson takes its environmental responsibilities seriously.

Hey, Nash County — we’ll take your portion of Sanderson from you if you don’t want them up there!

REDSKINS SIGN MCNABB TO 5-YEAR, $78,000,000 EXTENSION

Before last night’s embarrassing 59-28 debacle against Philaelphia, the Washington Redskins signed 34-year-old quarterback Donovan McNabb to a five-year, $78 million extension that includes $40 million of guaranteed money.

McNabb responded in last night’s loss with three interceptions.

My take: I am yet to hear someone say they think it was a good idea. Not one person, not one commentator.

And I agree with all of them. I’m not saying McNabb isn’t one of the 10 best QBs in the game RIGHT NOW, but why the heck are you going to tie that much money up for that long? And if you look at statistics, McNabb isn’t anywhere near the top 10 QBs in the game RIGHT NOW.

Just frustrating. I hope I’m wrong, McNabb goes crazy, gets motivated and leads America’s Team to the playoffs. But I’m not putting any money on it.

BEATLES FINALLY ON ITUNES

As of 9:30 a.m. today, you can now purchase Beatles albums and tracks on iTunes.

My take: It’s about time — and I could never understand why the world’s greatest band hadn’t crossed over to iTunes. I have the greatest hits and Sgt. Pepper’s ripped from CDs in my iTunes account, but I will one of those people downloading Beatles when I get home today!

The iPod shuffle

Who’s Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses — U2

Black Cat — Janet Jackson

A.M. Radio — Everclear

One Minute Man (Remix) — Missy Elliott featuring Jay-Z

Kyrie — Mister Mister

Morning News Report; Nov. 1, 2010

FAMILY PET SHOP TO CLOSE ITS DOORS SATURDAY

One of Kinston’s iconic storefronts, the Family Pet Shop on Vernon Ave., will close after 40 years in business on Saturday. Increased competition from the Internet and large retailers (i.e., Walmart, etc.) are forcing it to close.

My take: This breaks my heart. I know there’s an inherent risk in starting your own business, but to go under after serving a community for 40 years is sad beyond belief.

I’m as guilty as anyone — I shop at Walmart because of the great prices and its ability to have pretty much everything in the world under its roof. But here’s yet another small Kinston business that will be shuttered because of Walmart.

WUFFIES RANKED NO. 23

After its impressive win against Florida State on Thursday, the N.C. State football team is ranked 23rd in this week’s Associated Press poll and is also 25th in the USA Today poll.

My take: I’m not so sure the Wuffies aren’t the best team in the ACC right now. Congrats to our NCSU fans on here — you deserve it.

SHANAHAN SITS MCNABB AS REDSKINS LOSE AT DETROIT

With his team trailing by a single touchdown in the final minutes of yesterday’s 37-25 loss at Detroit yesterday, Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan pulled quarterback Donovan McNabb and replaced him with Rex Grossman, who promptly had a fumble that was returned for a touchdown.

My take: This decision just made absolutely no sense to me — take a Hall-of-Fame QB who has played the entire game and put in a washed-up QB who has been on the sideline the whole game … and try to get him to win the game? That sound like a Wade Phillips decision — and even that loser wouldn’t do this.

There’s some ‘splaining that needs to be done here — and better than that lameass explanation he tried to give yesterday.

The iPod shuffle

(Love Is) Thicker Than Water — Andy Gibbs

I’m A Man — Bo Diddley

Down On The Corner — Creedence Clearwater Revival

Caught A Lite Sneeze — Tori Amos

Crying In The Chapel — Elvis Presley