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

Loving Ferris Bueller

Last week marked the anniversary of one of the — in my opinion — greatest movies of all time. “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” chronicled a day in the life of a fictional Chicago high school senior and his crazy adventures.

I have literally watched FBDO hundreds of times in my lifetime — and it’s been hilarious and poignant every time. Is it realistic? No — but that’s the beauty of it.

That’s why it bothered me so much to read this piece by Alan Siegel of The Atlantic, where he takes the movie to task for, among other things, being unrealistic.

While it’s unrealistic that a 17-year-old could do the things Ferris did, some of the messages resonate: becoming your own man instead of letting your father push you around, enjoying life to its fullest and staying positive through all situations.

I’ve often wished there was a follow-up movie made to FBDO, maybe catching up with Ferris skipping work 25 years later. Hollywood, get on it. Until then, here is a trailer for the movie (although I’m pretty sure it’s not the “official” trailer, it’s pretty good):

Afternoon News Report; June 15, 2011

Trying to get back in the swing of things here — thanks again to all of you who have emailed, called and sent me Facebook messages. I appreciate every one of you more than you will ever know.

I also want to send my thoughts and prayers out to the family of the Wilson County Sheriff’s deputy who lost his life while serving a warrant last week in Kinston. It was a senseless tragedy — and I hope the people who killed this hero are swiftly dealt with … and to the limit of the law.

Now … on to the show. It’s been a few days since I’ve done one of these, so some of this won’t be “news,” per se, but I’d love to see your thoughts:


In a midnight vote early this a.m., the N.C. House voted 73-46 to override Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of the GOP-penned budget. The Senate is expected to vote to override her veto later today or tomorrow.

My take: I wasn’t really surprised the veto was shot down. What shocks me is the disgust displayed by the left side of the aisle — after decades of bad budgetary decisions by the Democratic-led North Carolina government, the Dems are upset because the GOP is trying to balance the budget? If the Dems had not gotten us to this point these tough decisions would not have had to come to pass.

So Democrats … get over yourselves. If you had done a better job, we wouldn’t be here right now.

One of the particular sticks in the craw of the Dems is the loss of teacher assistants in elementary and middle schools. Here’s the rub — if teachers and school administrators were given the right to properly discipline students, there’d be no need for teacher assistants!

All my brethren and sisteren (yes, I know I made up that word) who are 35 and older — we didn’t have teachers assistants in our classes … and except for Heelsfan and Jon Dawson, we all turned out pretty well!

Do I hate some teachers assistants are going to lose their jobs? Heck yeah. But it’s a societal and sociological problem that needs to be corrected — and thank God there are some common sense politicians in Raleigh trying to do the right thing instead of continuing to spend our way into a worse deficit.

Don’t get it twisted — the GOP makes a ton of mistakes, too, and I’m not particularly a fan. But you have to applaud them for trying to get things back in order.


The Dallas Mavericks proved nearly all their doubters wrong by defeating the Miami Heat four games to two, thanks to the MVP effort of Dirk Nowitzki and the lack of heart by LeBron James.

The self-proclaimed “King” James also ruffled some feathers when he callously said that, despite losing, he was going back to his life of luxury while those who belittle him were going back to their worlds of squalor.

My take: OK, so I took some poetic license with his comment … but you get the gist. He’s an ass. He thinks he’s better than you. And he doesn’t give a damn what you think of him.

Congrats to the Dirk and the Mavericks — and go to hell, Queen James. Guess what? I have EXACTLY as many NBA titles as you have.

And yes, I feel horrible for the Miami Herald ad folks who made this mistake in Monday’s edition of their fine paper:

Yikes. I’ve had some mistakes run in our paper but … wow. And click on the photo for a better view.


Facebook — the social network many of us can’t live without — lost 6 million users last month.

My take: We noted the slow death of MySpace two years ago (almost to the day!) … is it now Facebook’s turn?

I’ll say this, though: I love Facebook. It’s lasted a bit longer than I thought it would, but I wonder what’ll be next in the area of social media.

The iPod shuffle (a 10-pack since it’s been a few days)

Look Away — Chicago

Breathe In Breathe Out — Kanye West featuring Ludacris

The Show — Doug E. Fresh

Mama Said Knock You Out — LL Cool J

As Long As You Love Me — Backstreet Boys

Everybody Rise Again — Busta Rhymes

Who’s Crying Now — Journey

Ridaz — Eminem

When You’re Gone — Avril Lavigne

Lay Low — Snoop Dogg featuring Master P, Nate Dogg, Butch Cassidy & the Eastsidaz

P.S.: Hope you had a chance to check out my Sunday columnwith my advice for the Class of 2011, along with some props for some of my favorite kids (Blake Herring, Charlie Casey, Wiley Jackson and Brandon Sutton).

I had a nice email from Kris Wittenberg, the founder of “be good to people” (you can visit her site here and her Facebook page, which has 10,000 followers, here); she used a quote from my Sunday column (We all know people who have stepped on others to get to the top. Donít be that person) as her quote of the day on her site today. Quotes of the day for the past few days have come from Trace Adkins, Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Thatcher and the Dalai Lama. Wow. Thanks, Kris!

P.P.S.S.: Check out FOB Flagan’s guest column in today’s Free Press. Another great job, dude!

Capps on NFL, NBA

Our good friend, Randy Capps of the Fayetteville Observer, has two new blog entries up … and they’re the usual well-written, insightful work we miss when he only posts about that stupid futbol junk.

Anyhoo, check out his thoughts on the impending NFL lockout and on the whole LeBron mess in Miami.

My take: I’ll agree with virtually everything he had to say about NFL situation, but I’ll add this — these are freaking billionaires and millionaires fighting over billions and millions of dollars. Those type of fights pisses off us little people who just want to watch our damned games every weekend! Get it settled!

Capps is also correct about Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert — while I don’t think what Gilbert said was racist (even though rabble-rouser Jesse Jackson does), I think the Cavs owner went a little over the top. And like Capps said — there’s no way Cleveland wins an NBA title before Miami. Anybody want to make that bet with me?

Madison Taylor on former Free Press SE David Howell

Burlington Times-News Editor Madison Taylor, one of the all-timers in North Carolina journalism, has written a great column about former Free Press sports editor David Howell, who passed away four years ago. If you knew David — or even if you didn’t — please take a few moments and read Madison’s column.

My take: With the help of Madison’s wife, Roselee Papandrea, I wrote the story about David’s passing in 2005 for The Free Press. While I never worked directly with David, I did talk with him a few times at Kinston Indians games or when I visited the Jacksonville Daily News newsroom.

He’d always ask me about how coaches were doing in Lenoir County; he warned about a couple of coaches and their bad attitudes (no, I won’t say WHO), and he gave me good advice early on in my time in Kinston.

But I didn’t know some of the heart-warming things Madison wrote about in his column.

Great job, dudeage.

John Stossel on nonpartisan issue

Thanks to B.J. Murphy for sending me this link via Facebook: Former ABC News 20/20 reporter and current Fox News contributor John Stossel shared his opinion on the Kinston nonpartisan issue on his blog.

My take: As usual, a home run from one of the nation’s best independent reporters.

And in the interest of full disclosure — I am a huge fan of Stossel’s work. He is one of the leading Libertarians in the nation and he was a hell of a reporter on 20/20; he’s fearless and has never been afraid to ask the tough question. My industry needs a lot more John Stossels.

Morning News Report; Sept. 16, 2009


Bobby Merritt and Robbie Swinson won seats on the Kinston City Council, while Jimmy Cousins won the Democratic berth for mayor in last night’s Democratic Party primary.

While neither one of those results were particularly shocking, this was: only 1,745 registered voters — 11.67 percent — cared enough about this city to vote.

My take: Yep, I’m getting ready to go on a negative rant.

All I’ve heard in my seven years here are people bitching about how this city is sinking and how “no one cares.” Well, it’s this simple: if you didn’t vote yesterday — and 88.13 percent of you didn’t — you are part of the problem.

You should be ashamed of yourself if you didn’t take the few minutes it required to vote. I voted at Northwest Elementary at 5:30 p.m. yesterday; from the time I parked, went down in the auditorium and voted, the whole process lasted 4 minutes. Four freaking minutes — and it was that way all over town! C’mon, you were in a McDonald’s or Hardees drive-thru longer than that yesterday.

I love Kinston but I’ve never been more ashamed of my adopted hometown than I was yesterday.


The debut of “The Jay Leno Show” drew 18 million viewers Monday night, easily winning its time slot.

NBC officials were wary though — especially with lukewarm reviews of the show, which appears to be nothing more than a rewarming of his 17 years on “The Tonight Show”.

My take: I didn’t watch it Monday, as I was wrapped up in Buffalo’s disaster at New England on ESPN. However, I watched about 5 minutes of it last night — and yes, it looks almost exactly like “The Tonight Show”.

But because it costs less than a fifth of a scripted show, we’ll be stuck with the Leno show in that slot for the foreseeable future — because of economics. Yay. Glad I have cable.


It looks like it’s going to happen. The New York Times is reporting that a bowl game between a Big East and Big 12 team will probably take place following the 2010 season. The game would match up the second place team from the Big 12 and the third- or fourth-place team from the Big 12 in the Yankee Bowl.

My take: Of all the stupid bowls out there … I think this is a pretty good idea. The NHL has been very successful playing New Year’s games at the old Yankee Stadium and Chicago’s Wrigley Field — why wouldn’t a football game at Yankee Stadium work? It would be even better if there’s a foot of snow on the ground; I’ve often wondered why more bowl games aren’t played in cold weather environments.

The iPod shuffle

Love Rescue Me — U2

Megablast — Public Enemy

Cryin’ — Aerosmith

You’re The Inspiration — Chicago

Silver And Gold — U2

Candidates’ forum grades

Here are my grades for last night’s candidates’ forum that was held at the Arts Council and sponsored by the Kinston Chamber of Commerce and The Free Press. IN NO WAY is this an endorsement of any candidate; it’s just my opinion of how each candidate came across in last night’s forum — nothing more, nothing less.

Also another reminder: while the mayor’s race will not be decided on Tuesday (three candidates will emerge for that seat), the two seats for city council WILL be decided Tuesday night, as all five candidates are from the Democratic Party.

Mayor’s race, alphabetical order (with how long the candidate spoke inside his/her 3-minute allowance)

Jimmy Cousins, Democrat (3:06) — B-plus: Mr. Cousins, a current city councilman,¬†is comfortable in front of a crowd, a fact that he’s honed with his time on TACC-9 with Martha Bishop. He stressed that he was making no promises in this election other than to work as hard as he could for the city of Kinston.

Earl Harper, Unaffiliated (3:36) — B-minus: Mr. Harper came across as someone who is very, very proud of his accomplishments as county commissioner. He, along with Cousins, is the elder statesman in this race and — like Cousins — made a point of accentuating the positives of Lenoir County.

Ronnie Isler, Democrat (2:51) — B-plus: The surprise candidate in the mayor’s race, Mr. Isler did a great job of representing himself last night. The only mayor’s candidate (and only candidate, for that matter) who didn’t speak from notes, Mr. Isler came across as focused, caring and well-spoken. Of course, he doesn’t have much of a chance against Mr. Cousins, but he’s set himself up for a future mayoral or city council run.

B.J. Murphy, Republican (2:51) — A-minus: How is it possible for someone as young as Mr. Murphy (29) to be as polished a speaker as he is? He certainly has a “cult of personality” that can be translated to political success. But as a Republican in a city that has never elected a member of the GOP as mayor or to the city council, it’s going to be an uphill climb.

City Council race, all Democrats in alphabetical order (with how long the candidate spoke inside his/her 3-minute allowance)

Hilary Greene (2:22) — C-minus: OK, the first “Go Greene” she had everyone say was funny and maybe even the second time. But she basically forced the assembled group to say “Go Greene” four times — and by that final time (in a 2-minute speech), everyone was cringing. Ms. Greene is a viable, energetic¬†candidate who is working the streets hard to get votes, but last night didn’t help her cause.

Herbert Lewis (2:52) — C: Mr. Lewis’ statement to the crowd oozed with sincerity, if not volume. It’s easy to discern by listening to him that he truly cares about his new home. But like Mr. Isler in the mayor’s race, I have as much chance of being elected as Mr. Lewis does.

Wayne Malone (2:52) — A-minus: Mr. Malone came across as a statesman and experienced, two things that suit him well. He is a polished speaker who knows what buttons need to be pushed to get his point across.

Bobby Merritt (2:19) — B-minus: For someone who deals with as many folks as he does in a typical day at LCC, Mr. Merritt appeared very nervous and a little shaky in his appearance. That doesn’t take away from the potential good he could do as a city councilman. Indeed, his speech focused on his solid relationship with established city and council leaders, something that would serve him well if elected.

Robert A. Swinson IV (1:41) — A: The shortest speech, the most succinct speech and the most well-received speech of the evening. Mr. Swinson was funny and engaging in his 101 seconds of face time but also was serious enough to get his point across. He’s the clear front-runner in Tuesday’s election and that came across in his delivery.