October 2009

Another First Day at Fox

After serving as an intern at WVUE for two months, I went there today as a new employee. Friday evening will not be a regular shift for me but Janette wanted me to learn how things work between 10 and midnight because I will be alone in the newsroom next Monday night.Shortly after I arrived, Monica had me enter the reads where missing in the script. These are tags in the script telling the talent which anchor will read the following segment. The producers often enter these already but they are frequently missing.At 4:30 I helped Monica print the scripts. She sort of watched me do it to insure I had a grasp on it. At five I sat with her while she operated the teleprompter during the newscast. I scrolled the script during packages to get some practice but I still don’t quite have a feel for it. I tend to get ahead of those speaking.I don’t remember having a great deal to do after the five o’clock news. At nine we basically did the whole process again. At ten after the last broadcast of the night, the newsroom started to empty out and eventually it was just me and Claudia. Over the course of the evening she explained a number of things to me including the primary task of sitting in the newsroom overnight. There is an array of police scanners at the assignment desk and it’s the PAs job to monitor them for major incidents such as big fires and shootings. Should such a thing occur, we generally have to call one of the on-call photographers to go check it out. Things were reasonably quiet until 11:30 when there was a shooting on South Galvez. I had to wake up Donny to go check it out shortly before I Claudia and I left for the evening around midnight. Travis arrived for the overnight shift and I talked to him for a couple minutes before catching a cab home.

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Last Swing

At Janette’s request, I stopped by the station at 10:30 this morning to fill out some paperwork. I thought I might also get some other things done like fill out tax forms and get an ID made but that didn’t happen today. I was back at the office sometime after 11:30. I had a little work to do but nothing overwhelming. I got Dad and I sandwiches from Theo’s for lunch.After five, I went up to campus for class this evening. During this evening’s class, we went over more student cover letters. After the break there was a short lecture on “informational interviews.” Following class, Dad took me to Tulane’s uptown campus for ballroom this evening. I went down to the Rat in the LBC. Bill Summers was playing there as part of the Jazz at the Rat series. It was an interesting percussion ensemble although I am partial to a stronger horn section.At ten to nine, I walked to the Reily Center for ballroom dancing this evening. This was the fourth and final week of west coast swing. Most of it was review although we did learn one new sequence tonight that involved me twirling around. I never do that well. At ten I walked to Willow and McAlister. There was a cab waiting and I took it home. I put some laundry on and watched Last Tango in Paris.

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New Job

Dad and I made it to the office at about 11:30. The workday was of no remarkable interest but I did receive an important phone call this afternoon. I spoke with Janette at WVUE and she offered me a production assistant position. She went over some vital information like paperwork I will need to come in and sign tomorrow, my hours (evenings on Sunday through Tuesday) and the pay, apparently minimum wage. I am going to start on Friday to shadow a PA and learn some more. She said by next Monday I will be the only PA on the assignment desk.When we got home tonight I found my car wouldn’t start. I was able to jump it but running the engine did not seem to charge the battery. I suspect I may just need a new one. I watched the first game of the world series this evening.

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Sunday – Tuesday

Sunday was rather uneventful to the best of my recollection. I did watch the rather remarkable Saints game in which New Orleans overcame a 21 point deficit to beat the Miami Dolphins.I worked at Fox on Monday. There was not a great deal going on that day. During the newscast I helped one of the new PAs, Monica, run scripts. I was there again today. I had some things to keep me busy on the assignment desk. At two, Ms. DeCorte sent me with Avis to Children’s Hospital. It was my first trip out “in the field” in a while. They were administering their first batch of H1N1 vaccine to “high exposure risk” employees like doctors and nurses. Those in Charge of Fox 8 News have had a bit of a hard on over the swine flu and have been covering it extensively… perhaps not as widely as WDSU who had a microwave truck there for live broadcasts from the hospital and four, five and six PM. We were there for 45 minutes, mostly so Avis could shoot B roll of people getting the flu shot. I interviewed Rodolfo E Bégué, MD again. I asked some rather basic questions about the vaccine that were not exactly compelling. Again, I asked a question of my own making although I can’t remember if the answer got on air.Later on I ran scripts for Claudia. I had the chance to speak with her at length and she told she was leaving in a couple weeks for a new job. Before I left for the evening after six, I left a copy of my resume on Janette’s desk for the PA job. Later that evening I watched Bobby.

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This afternoon, Dad and I installed the new alternator that I repaired recently. The battery was pretty dead so we still weren’t able to start the car, even after jumping it. A neighbor across the street was kind enough to lend me a trickle charger which did work.This evening at seven, I met Amy for dinner at a small Thai restaurant adjacent to Cooter Browns uptown. I read good things about Bangkok Thai’s food. I haven’t had good Pad Thai since hurricane Katrina and I have been anxious to find a place that does it well since. The décor leaves a lot to be desired but the food was good. After dinner, we went to Cooter Browns for one drink. I would consider it a local landmark and Amy had never been there so I felt obligated. The place was rather crowded as an LSU game was on. After a little while there, Amy insisted on buying me a drink so we walked across the street to the daiquiri shop and then took a little walk to the levee and back.I invited Amy to come with me to meet Andrey and some friends this evening. She decided to go home instead but she was kind enough to wait with me for the streetcar. I was going to Helix at the Le Cirque Hotel downtown which the streetcar passes right in front of. I can’t quite remember the last time I rode the streetcar.I arrived at the hotel shortly after nine this evening. My friends didn’t arrive until after ten so I had a couple light drinks by myself and exchanged some text messages to pass the time. Eventually everyone did show up. Andrey, David, Romy and Patrick were there along with Nick who I have not met before. We remained at Helix for an hour or so and had a few drinks while talking about this and that. There was music playing but it was possible to have a conversation. I ordered a little pizza from their kitchen so I had some more food to go with the drinks I was having.We left Helix around 11 and went to Cure on Freret, a reasonably new place I’ve rode past over the last several months but not visited. It’s a classy and well decorated place with a cozy bar and seating area as well as a nice lounge area outside. We all took a table outside and ordered some drinks. There we met another friend of Andrey’s, John. The place is known for exceptional mixed drinks and I had a sazerac. It was even easier to carry on a conversation here. I don’t remember much of what we talked about though.We left there perhaps sometime after midnight. Nick and Andrey wanted to square off at pool and we walked a couple block to Friar Tucks but Andrey didn’t want to pay the cover so we drove down to Der Ratskeller at Tulane which also has pool tables. Andrey and Nick had it out and I got something to munch on. Later on we parted company with Patrick and John. The rest of us made one last stop at Snake & Jakes for a round of Schlitz. I’ve been hoping to visit this renowned dive bar for quite some time. Afterward I called a cab from Andrey’s house and got home sometime after three.

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Lusher Homecoming

I didn’t go to the office today. We had a problem with the gas at the house. And there was no particularly compelling reason to be there. This evening, I went with mom to Lusher High School’s homecoming game versus Fisher. My brother Andrew was on the homecoming court and I took my camera with me to get some pictures.The school has a newly renovated football field and bleachers which look pretty good. There was a decent but not incredible crowd for the game. I shot pictures of the game without much success and during the homecoming court presentation or whatever people call it. I didn’t have much luck with those pictures either. May of them were out of focus.After halftime, Mom and I left the game. Andrew was not staying and we didn’t see much reason to. That evening I got the least sucky pictures online.

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Wet Thursday

I am writing this entry a couple days after the fact and I am totally blanking on the events of Wednesday. All I remember is lunch from Five Happiness.After a normal day at work, Dad took to me to Elmwood for class this evening. There was some severe weather in the area which no doubt affected the low attendance. At six when class started, I was one of only two students who showed. We were to go over cover letters we’d written this week and Ms. Hart said we would just go over both of ours and be done with class. I was expecting to be out before seven and sent Dad a text message to that effect. By 6:30, a bunch of other people showed up. Class dragged on until 7:40 when we took a break. I didn’t want dad to wait any longer so I left at the break.Dad dropped me off uptown shortly after eight. I sat in PJ’s for a little while until it was time for ballroom this evening. This was the third week of west coast swing and there was not much new material so I think I handled things pretty well. Afterward we got everyone together for a group picture. I brought my camera and tripod to take it. Unfortunately I thought it turned out rather poorly as the pictures were rather underexposed.

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Game Four

I worked at Fox on Monday although at present I cannot really remember anything that happened that day. I was there again today. I was in the newsroom for a few hours this morning, put in some press releases and did not have much else to do. At around three, I went upstairs to hang out with Ron in master control. We were broadcasting game four of the ALCS and that was as good a place as any to watch the game. I was also curious to see how commercials were run during a live sporting event. To my surprise, there was not much work involved there because there were so few local breaks. We only had three opportunities during nine innings to run local ads. The rest of the breaks were from network and required no intervention on our end. The few times we did have commercials, Ron only needed to hit a “roll take” button at the right moment and the pre-queued commercials ran. The rest of the time he was free to work on other things like ingesting promos.At about 4:20 I went downstairs to see if Claudia needed any help. Leah was working with her but I made myself busy running pages here and there. I stayed in the newsroom through the broadcast. While I was doing that, I had an interesting exchange with Janette that I might have more to say about later.After the broadcast, while waiting for promos to be approved for printing, Claudia showed me another thing PA’s do, call gas stations to get prices for the morning news’ “Gas Gauge” feature. After I got home I got some dinner and watched the rest of the ALCS game which went into extra innings. I called Ron during the game to ask about the upcoming primetime schedule and to offer my sympathies for the extra trouble of dealing with another game in overtime. Eventually the game ended with an Angels win and I watched House which immediately followed.

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This was my last day in Brookhaven. Bianca made a late breakfast and around noon, she drove me down to the “station,” really a small covered shelter. The train was due at 12:16 and we talked and watched Kyle while we waited. After the train was late I called Amtrak’s automated phone system and learned the train was not expected until after one. With a half hour to kill we took a little walk up and down the street the tracks run along. Eventually we went back top to the stop in anticipation of the train. We got to talking about digital photographs and had a lively but unproductive discussion. I was armed with facts but couldn’t convince Bianca she should be keeping pictures as resolutions beyond VGA size. It was pretty painful for someone like myself who owns an 8MP dSLR and still occasionally has feelings of inadequacy. Luckily we changed the subject before the train showed up. The train ride was pleasant enough, although considerably longer than the ride to Brookhaven. After getting settled I moved up to the dining car to sit with my laptop and get something to drink. I ended up sitting with a fellow student, Emily who I’ve seen before in ballroom. She lives in Mississippi and was visiting family during the fall break.Dad was waiting to pick me up at the station when I arrived, although he was not in a particularly good mood. I don’t recall much from that evening although I must have spent time unpacking and going through the pictures I shot over the weekend. I think I got them on the website that night.

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Photo Shoot

Bianca made omelets for breakfast this morning that were pretty good. This afternoon, Bianca, me and her dog went out to a park to shoot some pictures. It was hardly a scenic park but I did my best to experiment with what I had to work with. I took some pictures at an old baseball diamond and a swing set. This was my first attempt at shooting a model in the traditional sense. I was not very happy with the results but I learned a lot.Later in the evening, Bianca cooked steak and baked potatoes for dinner. We walked the dog again after dinner. We got an earlier start today so we were back before sundown. Bianca made some cookies for dessert after we got back. There wasn’t much of anything on TV this evening ad we ended up watching game two of the ALCS. The game went 14 innings and I stayed up until the game ended around one and then went to bed.

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Great Dinner

Unlike Bianca the early riser, I was in no hurry to get up this morning. Bianca made pancakes for breakfast… one big one actually. This afternoon, Bianca and I went grocery shopping. We dropped offer dog Kyle at a vet’s office for an hour or so while we went to Wal-Mart. We were there to buy stuff for dinner over the next couple days.With groceries in tow we picked up Bianca’s dog at the vet and went back to her house. Late this afternoon, Bianca’s friend Raymond, a retired chef, cooked dinner for us. He cooked sweet potatoes as good as I’ve ever had them as well as chicken parmesan and red beans. Bianca has been hyping his chicken dish for a while and she was not exaggerating. All the food was excellent.Later in the evening, Bianca and I took her dog Kyle for a walk. We got a late start and it was well after dark when we got back. After we got home I watched Stargate Universe and one of the Netflix movies I brought with me, Gates of heaven. I did not particularly care for it and Bianca certainly didn’t.

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Work on Wednesday was not particularly eventful. I got lunch from Five Happiness like most Wednesdays. With a trip coming up tomorrow I had a few things to do this evening. I had a couple loads of laundry to do and finish packing. I also reassembled an alternator for my car. The brush housing broke last week and I put in a new one. On Thursday morning, I finished packing in the morning and went to work for a little while. I had a couple reports to work on and some records to copy. I got some lunch from Theo’s before leaving for the day at about quarter past one when Dad took me to the train station. I was going to Brookhaven, Mississippi to visit Bianca for a couple days. She has been encouraging me to visit since she moved there well over a year ago. I’ve passed through a couple times before with Krystle but never went stay for any length of time. The train departed pretty much on time at 1:45. There was not much of a crowd on the train at the origin station. The ride was pleasant enough and only two hours.Bianca arrived a couple minutes after I did. There isn’t an actual train station at the stop anymore. The old one has been converted to a military museum and Amtrak only has a tiny covered shelter there. We drove back to her house afterward.This evening, Bianca made a chicken and rice dish with green bean casserole. I rented a flash for the weekend and hat it shipped to her house. I’ve never used a Speedlite before so I took some time to play with it. For the most part we spent the evening watching movies and TV.

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Ehud Olmert at Tulane

Before going to WVUE today, dad took me to the office for a little while to reconfigure the office router. Apparently there was an outage yesterday and an ISP tech came by and wiped the router settings in the process of fixing things, probably because he did not have the router password. After getting that fixed, dad took me to the station.Most of the action at Fox 8 was well over when I arrived at noon. During their three hour morning show from six to nine, they featured wall-to-wall coverage of the “sail away ceremony” of the USS New York, a San-Antonio class amphibious transport dock built at Avondale Shipyards. The ship was leaving the port for the Gulf of Mexico and on to Norfolk and later New York City. Residents were invited to line the levee and see the ship and crew on their way. There was a heavy fog early this morning that limited visibility, however. Rom Masson was broadcasting live from Avondale. Jennifer Hale, Donny and Travis were doing live reports on board the Navy vessel. Chris Franklin and Kim Holden were set up at the moon walk at the river in the French Quarter. They also got live shots of the ship from the Gretna ferry landing and rented a helicopter for aerial shots of the boat passing through New Orleans.The mood in the newsroom seemed pretty positive today as everyone seemed very proud of their coverage and they had a lot of good material for the evening news cast. Free pizza for lunch couldn’t have hurt either. It ended up being the only thing I got to eat today. I stuck around downstairs for the better part of the afternoon although I was never exceptionally busy. There was a big stack of press releases to put in which kept me occupied when I so desired.This afternoon, Janette gave me a similar job to do. She handed me the New Orleans Hornets home game schedule and had me enter reminders in ENPS for each game. Bob Breck will be doing his halftime weather reports to be shown on the jumbotron at the games like he is currently doing for the Saints.Rather than go upstairs right at five to watch the news I stayed at the assignment desk in case Claudia needed any help and I watched the first half hour with Nancy, Janette and news director Mikel Schaefer who was in a decidedly chipper mood this afternoon. Before this afternoon I didn’t know he was even aware of my existence.The script was uncharacteristically complete when the broadcast started and there wasn’t much printing to be done after five although I did run a couple pages upstairs for Claudia a couple minutes into the broadcast. Things were pretty calm by 5:30 so I went up to the control room and watched the rest of the news and the promo taping that immediately followed.I was expecting Dad to pick me up not long after six but he was held up. He went to an advisory board meeting this evening and didn’t get out until well after six. I was planning to go to Tulane after work this afternoon and we were going to go together. Former prime minister of Israel Ehud Olmert spoke at McAlister auditorium this evening. I wouldn’t call myself a fan of his but the chance to see a head of state was very interesting to me. I thought I would have to call a cab to make it there for seven but I got lucky. We received an e-mail about a planned protest and they decided to send a photographer to check it out. I rode with Bob, a freelance photographer, to the uptown campus. We got there before 6:30 so I was able to hang out with him for a few minutes before parting ways. We parked at Freret and McAlister. There were about a dozen kids there holding signs and not doing much else. We were greeted by a PR rep of Tulane University and I gave him the station’s e-mail address so he could forward a cozy statement that pointed out that TUCP, a student organization, arranged for Olmert’s visit. Soon after one of the protesters approached us and Bob asked her some questions on camera while I held the microphone.After the interview, I left to get a seat in the auditorium. They were checking student IDs at the door and wanding people. I would have taken my camera to get some pictures but they were prohibited. By sevent there was a pretty decent crowd but the theater was not close to a capacity crowd. Although the event was scheduled for 7 o’clock, Mr. Olmert was not introduced until 7:30. He spoke for about 45 minutes than then took a couple questions that the audience had written on cards.Olmert did not look like much of an orator in the first half of his presentation, frequently pausing to say “uh,” a problem I have when giving speeches. I would have to assume he does much better with his first language than English. He started by speaking about Israeli domestic policy and his accomplishments with regard to the economy and education. Later, he sounded much more sure of himself and articulate as he began to address foreign policy issues and the middle east peace process. He spoke at length about peace with the Palestinians and addressed his idea to return to the 1967 borders and competing ideas from the current Israeli administration led by Netanyahu.I would guess many attendees, including myself, wanted to hear his thoughts about the recent Gaza conflict but he didn’t have very much to say about it outside of rather standard talking points. None of the chosen audience questions addressed it either. The corruption indictment he is currently facing was not mentioned at all.Over all, I was glad I went to the event but it certainly was not as fascinating or provocative as I would have liked. Luckily he was only interrupted once by an audience member and Olmert handled it will. As we left the auditorium after the Q & A, the protesters were outside in slightly greater numbers and making a lot of noise, chanting something about “free Palestine.” I’m sure there is plenty of legitimate criticism that could be leveled against Olmert but what the protesters chose to mention revealed plenty of ignorance and probably feigned passion.With fall break this weekend, ballroom was rescheduled for this evening. Olmert’s appearance concluded just after 8:30 so I headed to the Reily center after stopping briefly at the LBC. In spite of the schedule change, we still have a good turnout this evening with about 40 students there. Tammy was again accompanied by Byron who served as guest instructor. This was the second week of west coast swing and I had a reasonably firm grasp on the dance steps tonight which is always nice.Intermediate salsa started tonight after the beginner lesson but I elected not to stay for it. As I was leaving, I ran into Nicole from the BSG meetups. We spoke for 20 minutes, largely about recent goings-on in her life. She told me about an internship she is currently doing in Stacey Head’s office at City Hall and her trip to Dragon Con. I caught a cab home after that and got home around 11. The tripod I won on eBay finally arrived today. It’s a Bogen 3001 tripod with a Manfrotto 168 head. It was dusty but I cleaned it up and I think I’m going to be very happy with it. Before bed I started some laundry and watched the better part of the film Wanted. Krystle called late and I talked to her a few minutes before turning in for the night.

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This past Sunday was rather uneventful. I cannot really recall anything particular that happened. On Monday, I worked at Fox from 11 to six as usual. Things seemed busy enough in the newsroom for a while so I stayed there for a while although I really did not do much of anything there. At about 3:00 I walked upstairs to hand out in master control for a while. Ron kept reasonably busy ingesting promos so I didn’t pester him much. At 4:30 I went back to the newsroom to see what was going on and then went back upstairs to the control room to watch the broadcast. Things appeared to go rather smoothly with no big fires to be put out.

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