Morning News Report; Dec. 15, 2011


As of this morning, the war in Iraq is officially over.

The costs to America: 4,500 dead, 32,000 wounded and $800 billion.

My take: Frankly, we should never have invaded a sovereign nation to begin with — but it’s a good thing this chapter is finally closed. At least a madman like Saddam Hussein is gone and there are no WMDs there.

How long before Iraq is taken back over by a Hussein-ish dictator? And what is our game-plan if that happens? Lots of questions remain.


David Anderson reports this morning the City of Kinston has spent more than $123,000 fighting for involuntary annexation since December 2007.

My take: I understand both sides of this issue, so don’t insult my intelligence by emailing me or commenting about how Kinston needs to grow. I know it needs to grow. But it is patently un-American to force people who don’t want to be part of your city to BE part of your city.

You want Kinston to grow? There is no simple answer, but I know this much — as long as there is a shooting/murder/robbery EVERY SINGLE FREAKING DAY in town, we’re paying 35 percent more for electricity than every neighbor surrounding us and more than 50 percent of the populace is on public assistance, Kinston isn’t going to grow.

Take care of those problems and we’ll be on the road to recovery. And yes, I know there are hard-working people — including Mayor B.J. Murphy, city councilman Joe Tyson, state legislator Stephen LaRoque and businesspeople all over the city — trying to rectify this sorry situation. Their work is appreciated.


Shock-jock Howard Stern has been hired to join NBC’s reality TV competition show, “America’s Got Talent.”

My take: Never watched one second of this show in my life — and I’m not sure this will make me want to watch it, either. But you have to give Stern credit: pretty much everything he touches turns to gold. I’m sure NBC is betting on that, too.


Former Wake Forest star and NBA All-Star Chris Paul has been traded from the New Orleans Hornets to the L.A. Clippers, where he’ll join rising star Blake Griffin.

My take: Honestly, one of those few trades that makes both teams better — the Blakers get arguably the best PG in the game, while the Hornets get three possible starters AND a first-round draft pick that is likely to be a lottery pick (via Minnesota).

And as many of you know, I abhor the Lakers — which makes this trade (and the Clippers) even better. It is entirely possible the Clips might finish with a better record than the Lakers and Kobe. High-larious.

The iPod shuffle

Ultraviolet (Light My Way) — U2

Talkin’ 2 Myself — Eminem featuring Kobe

Express Yourself — Madonna

If Love Is A Red Dress — Maria McKee

Fantastic Voyage — Coolio

Morning News Report; Sept. 9, 2011


Kinston Department of Public Safety Director Bill Johnson had his sidearm stolen by his grandson at his home Saturday night. Johnson had the young man arrested Sunday — and the grandson is still in jail today under a $50,000 bond.

My take: I can’t even imagine how tough this is on Chief Johnson and his family at this moment — he is (as Bill Ellis said in the linked story) one of the most morally upright gentlemen I know in Kinston.

But you have to admire how the Johnson’s are handling this by keeping the young man in jail all week. I’m guessing this will be the last time he ever does anything like that again.


The Kinston Indians overcame a 5-0 deficit to top the Myrtle Beach Pelicans 8-6 in 11 innings last night in Game 2 of the Carolina League Southern Division playoffs. The series is even at 1-1 with Games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary)taking place at Grainger Stadium tonight, Saturday and Sunday.

My take: I’ll be there tonight for at least the first half of the game tonight and possibly for Sunday’s finale, if necessary. I know we’ve got some killer prep football games tonight — including Havelock at Kinston and South Lenoir at North Lenoir – and the NFL season starts Sunday, but it’d be good for there to be some butts in the seats at Grainger this weekend.


With only two days to go before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, threats are coming in all over the place; in fact, New York City police are now searching trucks throughout the city in anticipation of new terrorist attacks.

My take: It’s going to be a busy few days for law enforcement as they try to weed out the crazies while we remember those we lost in 9/11. What’s truly scary is that right now, you know there is some freaking loony-tunes out there who is ready to blow himself up for some cause. Be safe, my friends.

The iPod shuffle

Doo Wop (That Thing) — Lauryn Hill

Let’s Make It — Canned Heat & John Lee Hooker

The Lounge Fly (Mix) — U2

Photograph — Def Leppard

My Way — Elvis Presley

P.S.: Check out this week’s prep football podcast with the lovely and talented Ryan Herman and myself. Pretty doggoned good analysis, if I say so myself … and I say so myself. I also like that the URL has “free-hanks” in it. A subtle message, to be sure.

P.P.S.S.: For the past four years, I have — along with WCTI ABC-12′s Brian North — been an anonymous picker in the Jacksonville Daily News’ prep football panel, along with Chris Miller, Mike Boaz and Rick Scoppe. Quite honestly, I’ve had my butt handed to me for the duration of it — until this year.

Miller — one of our blog favorites over the years (see picture below) — decided to take the anonymity away and now we’re all using our real names. As a result, now I am kicking butt and taking names. I’ll place a link here every Friday to the picks; here’s this week’s column (scroll down to the bottom, where I am accused of steroid use by Miller!).

And now … a photo reminder of when Miller got his butt kicked by his newlywed wife in August 2008:

Morning News Report; Aug. 23, 2011

HERE COMES IRENE! is predicting that Hurricane Irene will be strongest storm to hit the Carolinas since 1996.

Here is’s projected path as of 4:12 a.m. today:

Click on the map for a larger view.

My take: This is serious stuff, y’all — not just another weatherman’s breathless BS warning. Get your water and batteries and prepare to hunker down Saturday.


David Letterman returned from his two-week summer vacation last night to the report of an Internet jihadist calling for his tongue to be cut out. In his characteristic style, though, Letterman joked about it throughout his program and even blamed the reports on Jay Leno.

My take: Letterman has gone more and more to the left in the past few years, but those are some damned funny jokes in that link. Check ‘em out … and screw the terrorists. Good for Letterman.


Because of concerns about Hurricane Irene, the Kinston-South Lenoir varsity football game has been moved to Thursday. The JV game between the teams is now on Wednesday at Viking Field.

My take: The Vikings (the past five years) and Blue Devils (first year, 2005) are the only two teams to win the Freedom Cup, the trophy given to the top prep football program in Lenoir County by The Free Press. In my opinion, Thursday’s game will also determine this year’s winner.

Don’t sleep on South Lenoir — I will make my pick later in the week, but I feel like this is as strong a Blue Devils team as I’ve seen since that magical 2005 season, especially the defense. I’ll say this with all certainty: if Kinston can’t hang onto the ball better than it did against Jones Senior last Friday, South Lenoir will win easily Thursday.

The iPod shuffle

Steppin’ Out — Joe Jackson

Don’t Let Him Go — REO Speedwagon

Why Can’t This Be Love — Van Halen

When I Think Of You — Janet Jackson

Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go — Wham!

P.S.: HBFL Online folks — don’t forget the draft begins tomorrow at noon. We will draw for draft order this afternoon and I’ll post it tonight. I will also be sending out an email to all the owners, so be looking for that, too.

Afternoon News Report; May 6, 2011

Dang … sorry I’ve been away from the blog for a couple of days. “Real” work is rearing its ugly head (you know, like daily de-lousings ofDawson) but I’ll promise to do better!


Maryland head basketball coach Gary Williams announced yesterday he is retiring his position; he’ll make a formal announcement this afternoon.

My take: He was certainly old-school: a heck of a coach and a heck of a bully. His language was as vile as it comes during games, but there was no doubt his loyalty was with the University of Maryland.

But … I won’t miss him or his style of coaching. I guess if he coached my team I’d feel differently, but he was nothing short of a bully with some of his players and certainly with the media.

Randy Jones, a fellow Cavahoo apologist who is infinitely smarter than I’ll ever be, asked a question yesterday that I thought was pretty damned smart — with Williams retiring, who is now the third-best coach in the ACC? Sure, K and Roy are 1 and 2 (depending on your perspective), but who is No. 3?

I’d be interested to see your responses to THAT.


It took a couple of days, but Al Qaeda finally confirmed the death of Osama bin Laden.

There have also been reports Pakistan is upset with the U.S. for its attack within the Pakistani borders.

My take: And my response to both of them? Screw ‘em. There is NO WAY the Pakistani government didn’t know bin Laden was in their country living in a mansion in one of their military cities. They’re lucky we’re not bombing THEM.

And as for Al Qaeda (and other terrorist organizations), we just need to remain vigilant. There is going to be a response here, but we just need to be ready for it.


The Charlotte Bobcats will play in Raleigh, while the Carolina Hurricanes will do the same in Charlotte in preseason games in the fall.

My take: What a great idea! The only sticking point is whether the Bobcats will actually BE playing in the fall with a lockout/strike looming. Regardless — a fantastic plan and I hope it happens, especially since the Cats will be playing the Miami Heat at the RBC.

The iPod shuffle

That’s All Right — Elvis Presley

No Line On The Horizon — U2

Blowin’ In The Wind — Bob Dylan

If I Ever Lose My Faith In You — Sting

Coward Of The County — Kenny Rogers

Afternoon News Report; May 2, 2011 (the “Burn In Hell, bin Laden” edition)

I’m off today after an awesome weekend spent in Pittsburgh and Cleveland with my brother and nephew … but I couldn’t let today pass without an MNR/ANR — especially with last night’s great news, so here goes:


In a daring, brave operation committed yesterday in Pakistan, the USA’s Public Enemy No. 1, Osama bin Laden — the “mastermind” behind 9/11 and other terrorists attacks — was killed by U.S. troops.

My take: Hell, yeah!

I was driving back from Cleveland last night when Richard Clark texted me at 10:53 p.m.; I listened to President Obama’s press conference and the cheering crowds at Ground Zero and the White House … and I’m very proud.

I’m proud that we finally brought this bastard to a very, very American form of justice. This SOB killed thousands of us — not just on 9/11 — and had lived nearly a decade after that fateful day. I hope his death was painful and excruciating.

Like many of you, I’m extremely proud of our military and special forces for the fight they’ve been waging for the past decade against this douchebag. I’m also proud of President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama for never wavering and for hunting this cretin down — and killing his sorry ass.

I know there is going to be the fringe element out there who is going to attempt to denigerate this accomplishment — and it’s already started — but let’s enjoy this victory before we splinter again, OK?

The iPod shuffle

Comfortably Numb — Pink Floyd

Shorty Was Da Bomb — DMX

By Your Side — Sade

The Last Song — Poison

Let’s Go — Trick Daddy

P.S.: I have the final results and standings for the April Streak for the Cash contest, but I’ll post those either tonight or tomorrow.

Morning News Report; Feb. 4, 2011


A man on a Greyhound bus to Raleigh hijacked the bus before being apprehended by authorities this morning.

My take: While there are some jokes that can be made here, this serious question remains — what would keep some terrorist or terrorist wannabe from taking a bus full of passengers hostage? I’ve not been on a Greyhound since I was in the Army 20 years ago, but I don’t think there are any type of security measures to keep those types of d-bags off a bus … are there? And Dawson — an Amtrak junkie — can answer the same question about trains.

I’m not saying riders need to go through the same measures you have when you get on a plane, but there has to be some way to keep a jagoff from carrying a pistol on a Greyhound bus … and there evidently wasn’t in this case.


Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. has launched the first online-only “newspaper” called The Daily. It is available only on the iPad, although you can see its content in other online mediums.

My take: I signed up for my free two-week subscription to it on my iPad yesterday … and was pretty impressed. Although the “news” was pretty New York City-centric (which is where News Corp. is located), the design and presentation was a combination of newspaper layout and state-of-the-art website bells and whistles, including photo albums and video.

As a old school newspaper guy, I have to admit that I liked it. Will The Free Press or papers of our (small-town) ilk go to this model? Eventually, yes. But the staff it takes to produce The Daily — which had about 100 pages in yesterday and today’s edition — has to number in the dozens … and papers the size of TFP only have a newsroom with less than a dozen employees.

Still, it’s just the first. It’ll keep evolving.


Wake County Schools– facing a $100 million hole in its budget — is considering making student-athletes pay for the right to play interscholastic athletics.

My take: This is a sad, sad day for prep sports — and one I hoped would never come.

So, the poor kid whose only way out of his situation in life is through athletics may never have a chance because he can’t afford to play. That’s what we’re headed towards, folks.

By the way, fantastic job by our good friend Nick Stevens of on the story. Just wish he didn’t need to write it.

The iPod shuffle

Brain Damage — Eminem

Back In The High Life Again — Steve Winwood

You Give Love A Bad Name — Bon Jovi

Keep It Comin’ Love — K.C. & The Sunshine Band

California Gurls — Katy Perry featuring Snoop Dogg

Someone Saved My Life Tonight — Elton John

Obsession — Animotion

Free Bird — Lynyrd Skynyrd

1999 — Prince

Come Out And Play — The Offspring

Morning News Report; Sept. 24, 2010


Iranian douchebag dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad used his time at the United Nations podium yesterday in an … interesting … way yesterday, telling the world he believes (along, presumably, with the rest of the world) that the U.S. created 9/11 itself.

Not surprisingly, though, the Al Jazeera network thinks there might be some validity to Ahmadinejad’s theory.

My take: Wowzer. He’s like that crazy uncle who’ll just say anything to get some attention — except he has nuclear possibilities.


Blockbuster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection yesterday.

My take: As someone who has worked for a company that had to seek bankruptcy protection — although we’ve come out of it in pretty good shape — I hate to see this for Blockbuster. Here’s hoping they get it straightened out.


In light of yesterday’s news about his show pulling his segment with her, Sesame Street’s Elmo visited ABC’s “Good Morning America” set today to share his love of Katy Perry; he also gave her an invitation to visit Sesame Street again.

Here’s the clip from GMA:


My take: Let the record show that if Ms. Perry ever wants to visit Kinston, she has an open invitation. I may not have a great singing voice like Elmo, but I’ll take her to King’s and to a K-Tribe game!

And just because we mentioned her … here’s a required photo:


God … I love her.

The iPod shuffle

Bring Em Out — T.I.

The Gambler — Kenny Rogers

Down Under — Men At Work

Hold It Now, Hit It — Beastie Boys

Money Bought — Nickelback

P.S.: OK, it’s a bit of shameless self-promotion here, but if you would like to see my ugly mug on TV, check out this week’s Reece Gardner Show on TACC-9. Although you can watch it over the air, if you’d like to see it in the comfort of your work computer or laptop, click here to your delight. Y’all know — I love me some Reece Gardner, who is arguably the most optimistic and positive person on the planet … or, at least, Lenoir County.

P.P.S.S.: A big shout-out to former North Lenoir and LCC baseball star Zack Liles, who sent me a nice e-mail yesterday. Zack is serving our country and was recently deployed for the fourth time (he didn’t mention which branch or where he’s deployed). But he did say he enjoys reading the blog. As I told him in an e-mail — we’re proud of his service to our country and I know you guys are, too. Here’s a story I wrote about Zack when he helped lead LCC to the NJCAA D-2 World Series in 2004.

Afternoon News Report; Aug. 18, 2010


President Obama says he has ‘no regrets’ about his earlier support of the proposed Islamic mosque that may be built two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City.

My take: I’ve been e-mailed and asked several times on my opinion and it’s this — we have freedom of religion in this country for a reason, so why can’t a mosque be built there?

However, I say that with several caveats, including that any other religious organization should have the same right as the Islamic folks. If the Catholics want to build a church or Jews want to build a synagogue there, they should have the same right.

I also have trouble understanding why Muslims would even want to do this, but again — our Constitution guarantees the freedom of religion and the right to worship as you wish, so why would that be any different towards Muslims?

It’s a slippery slope when you start denying any religious group their right to worship — and one that needs to be avoided at all risks.

A final thought — check out the poll on the linked story, which is from MSNBC (arguably the most liberal of all the news-gathering sources). I included this for a reason — even on MSNBC’s site, 70 percent (!) of the 45,000-plus voters don’t think the mosque should be built. Pretty telling, eh?


Two new Facebook scams have come up recently — and you could be paying $5 a week on your cell phone bill because of it.  

My take: As someone who is hopelessly addicted to FB, this scares the bejesus out of me. One lesson I’ve learned is this: don’t click on ANYTHING from ANYONE unless you know clearly where it came from. And I’ll be damned if I put my personal information or cell phone into any field on FB (or anywhere else, for that matter).


Minnesota Vikings players went to Mississippi to beg recruit Brett Favre to come back for another season. It must’ve worked, because the Weeping Willow returned to Vikings practice today — with an increase from $12 million in base salary to $16.5 million. If he meets incentives, he could get another $3.5 million for a total of $20 million this season.

My take: Damn. Just when you think he might be gone … this happens.

And what’s going to make all this totally suck is that having him is probably going to push the Vikings over the top. I may just have to slash my own throat if I have to watch Betty Fav-ruh triumphantly hold the Super Bowl trophy in February.

But the God I believe in wouldn’t let this happen … would he?

The iPod shuffle

Folsom Prison Blues — Johnny Cash

It Was A Very Good Year — Frank Sinatra

Open Arms — Mariah Carey

Squeeze Box — The Who

The Unforgiven — Metallica

P.S.: Don’t forget to get your picks in for this week’s games – as of this writing, we’ve already got 20, so it should be a good group this year!

Morning News Report; July 1, 2010 (or the “We’ve got Spirit” edition!)


It’s finally here — Spirit AeroSystems holds its grand opening ceremony at the Global TransPark at 4 p.m. today, complete with a visit from Gov. Bev Perdue and a bunch of other dignitary-types.

Because of security concerns, the ceremony is closed to the public — but you can watch it EXCLUSIVELY by going to Thanks to our good friend, Scott “The Edge” Edgington for providing the live stream on the ‘net.

My take: I wasn’t around when DuPont hit Lenoir County, so my historical perspective (only about eight years here) is quite a bit shorter than most of you. But in my humble opinion, this is one of the biggest days in county history — here is an aerospace company that is bringing hundreds of high-paying jobs (an average of $48,000 a year), with the potential of drawing other high-tech jobs to the GTP.


A traffic jam of historic proportions snarled Raleigh/Durham traffic last night when a suspicious item that appeared to be a bomb was discovered on the roadside of I-40. The interstate re-opened after a bomb crew discovered it was just three pieces of foam tied together; authorities think it just fell off a truck.

My take: No one should bitch about being stuck in a traffic jam; what would you rather have, a bomb take out a bridge? But it’s sad that we live in a time in history when we have to worry about this kind of stuff.


The Queen City of Charlotte was named as one of four finalists for the 2012 Democratic National Convention. St. Louis, Cleveland and Minneapolis are the other finalists.

My take: Regardless of your political persuasion, this is a pretty big deal for one of the great cities of the South. North Carolina is going to be a key battleground state in 2012 nationally, so don’t be surprised if Charlotte wins this.

The iPod shuffle

Fortress Around Your Heart — Sting

The Hands That Built America — U2

Along Comes Mary — The Bloodhound Gang

Shake Ya Tailfeather — Nelly featuring P. Diddy & Murphy Lee

Jaded — Aerosmith