Monday, June 23, 2008

The coolest guy ever

So lately I've been writing mostly about my professional life on this blog, but this video is a bit more personal. (For those of you who scoff at the notion of combining the professional and personal, please skip this post.)

My roommate this summer, John Zambenini (a.k.a The Coolest Guy Ever), writes about criminals and delinquents by day, but by night, he joins them as evidenced by this ridiculous video.

Fortunately, he understands the legal process fairly well and can talk his way out of tight spots when caught doing something semi-dangerous, semi-childish, uber-entertaining -- like shooting flaming arrows by the river. He's a real champ.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Watch me do my best athlete impersonation

On your mark...

Get set...

Good work. Do it again.

Other stories:

First time 5K runners
I did a long Sunday piece on the Proactive 5K, which I participated in. The first part of the assignment was the column (I linked to it earlier in this post). The second part was profiling three of the 142 first-time 5K finishers. Five-thousand meters is no easy feat, so I tip my cap to those brave souls willing to go the distance.

Kentucky Coffeetree Cafe
A story about one of the more vibrant and intriguing businesses in downtown Frankfort. There are always people hanging out at this coffee shop and that’s because of the commendable mission of the shop’s owner to revitalize the downtown area. She’s definitely thinking outside of the box – and it’s good business.

A tribute to Teddy
This story was a new experience for me. The family came to the newspaper though, so that made it a little easier to write.

Bad tomatoes
So in case you have been living under a salmonella-infested rock, these was a nationwide tomato scare awhile back. It didn't seem to deter the local Mexican establishments.

Free fishing day
What do fish and online predators have in common? I dunno, but they are both in this story.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Burgeoning bugs and other poems

They popped up out of the ground one day like daisies...

... and haven’t stopped buzzing since.

These insects absolutely disgust me...

...and yet I can’t look away from their writhing bodies.

So I wrote a story about them.

Other stories:

Community Garden
This is probably the best story I've written since embedding myself among the Kentuckians. The garden is also right outside my apartment, so maybe I'll play the role of Peter Rabbit when things get growing.

Karate kids
One of the most intimidating places I've ever visited. Every participant age 5 to 65 had to show respect to Grand Master John by saying, "Yes, Sensai!" every ten seconds. Then when he instructed them to align for the picture, each individual had to whip out a few Power Ranger moves before moving to their spot. Yes, Sensai!

Poppy's Bakery
Nothing particularly noteworthy about this story -- unless you are really into Hawaiian shaved ice. I got a free sample while I was getting the tour of the bakery. Good stuff.

River boating
This story doesn't say much about anything. Sometimes that happens in journalism. The one memorable thing for me is that I talked to this crazy guy named Willie who works at a marina, but wouldn't give me his last name. I needed his last name to quote him, so I called his boss and got it from him. Probably the sketchiest thing I've done to date as a journalist. But I haven't met a Willie yet that wasn't a head case.

Hail is for horses

This picture may look like a horse grazing in the field on a sunny spring day, but here in the land of “unbridled spirit” it is much more than that.

This is not a mere horse, it is a quadra-hooved supernatural being capable of taking a man to the furthest edges of heaven while never leaving the earth. He may look like a lesser mammal, but don’t be deceived, this creature may very well understand the secrets of this life better than a nuclear physicist or astute theologian.

Sure, he eats off the same plate that he craps on (there's a regal simplicity in that) and doesn’t have an opposable thumb, but he probably made more money in his prime than most people make in a lifetime. He took his cut in carrots most likely.

He descends from a lineage of demigods, neighing Titans that carried human civilization through its infancy. His ancestors helped teach us to walk as a society before we became a well-oiled contingent of pistons and petroleum and relegated our omnivorous brother to the track and the stable.

So today, I pay my respects to Mr. Ed, Secretariat and my friend Flicka, for racing the wind, for hauling the wagon, for fertilizing the grass.

In the words of the original John Stewart, “Let the big horse run.”

Thursday, May 22, 2008

People do some funny things

People do some funny things to get where they think they want to go, things they probably never envisioned themselves doing before. I know that’s what I’ve been doing lately. It’s not always a bad thing, either.

I don’t think The State Journal can be considered a typical newspaper. A majority of the full-time reporters aren’t that far removed from college. It feels like a more serious college paper without the gossip and drama. And… really…slow…computers.

In my first two weeks on the job, I’ve had two stories on the front page, covered my first election and got a complimentary dessert for one story. I’ve also been ousted for a factual error on-line, struggled to come up with my own story ideas and typed pages and pages of court documents. It hasn’t all been Woodward and Bernstein. Then again, the job has had its moments.

For my first story, I was sent to cover a reception at the Senior Citizens Center in honor of a man that had made significant contributions to the center and the community. Yawn, right? Actually, it was one of most uplifting ceremonies I’ve ever attended, and I met an amazing, real-life hero in 97 year-old Frank Sower. I could only include a fraction of the contributions he had made to the city of Frankfort in my story, but his life is a testament to the value and impact one human being can have in the world. Three years removed from the century mark, the guy still has a hop in his step and a twinkle in his eye. He totally reminded me of the possibilities this life can bring if one is willing to devote themselves to something greater than themselves and invest in the idea of community. Truly a great man.

I also received a unique opportunity this past weekend when I got a chance to tour the CNN Election Express, the techno bus that CNN has been using to cover primary elections in every state. I had to work through CNN’s personal relations people, which was a little annoying when they tried to dictate everything, but the story turned out to be pretty solid and the bus is a one-of-a-kind creation. Only someone that’s really into TV news production can understand the full magnitude of the bus’s technological capabilities, but I figured out pretty quickly that it’s a little nicer than the school bus I used to ride every morning. The seats were much more plush, too.

Tuesday was Kentucky’s primary election, and I was assigned to cover the Republican race for the 6th Congressional District in the state. It turned out to be the best race of the night.

A local Frankfort man who had never even graduated college lost the election to a Lexington attorney by less than 1,000 votes. Neither really had much of a political history and neither were expected to challenge the incumbent Congressional representative in the general election, but it was still interesting to speak to each candidate after the results came in and get their reaction. It almost felt like sports. Maybe I should have gambled on the mayoral race.

Anyway, that was my first endeavor into covering politics. Like I said, people do some funny things to get where they think they want to go. And sometimes, they are better for it.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

What can you buy for $3000 and change?

“So I’m working in Frankfort this summer.”

Several places seem to pop into people’s heads when I casually mentioned this, Frankfort being a common name for a town. Here are the candidates:

a) Frankfort, Ind. – Home of the Frankfort High School Hot Dogs and former student teaching grounds of my mother.

b) Frankfort, Ky. – Capital of the Bluegrass State and in the top 10 in the category of “Most Obscure State Capitals in the United States.”

c) Frankfurt, Germany – A good Lutheran city. Great place to sample encased meat while sipping a beer, like, um, the rest of Germany.

Drawing a line from A to C to represent my personal excitement scale regarding each destination would look like this: /

So which city am I currently calling home? Place a dot right in the middle of that line. Frankfort, Ky. it is.

I’m working as an intern for The State Journal, the city’s newspaper. So far, I can tell you exactly how much of a fine you will pay if you break a traffic law, but that is about it. Maybe I will write a story soon.

I’ve only been in the city a couple days, but it already strikes me as one of the more odd places of government in the continental U.S. Frankfort sits right on the Kentucky River which snakes back and forth in the heart of the city.

Several bridges link the two halves of the city together, and train tracks run through the heart of downtown. Situated right between Louisville and Lexington, Frankfort must have been the peculiar compromise between Kentucky’s two largest cities.

According to one of the many historical plaques that decorate the downtown area, Frankfort won the honor of being named the capital of Kentucky “through perseverance and, according to early histories, the offer of Andrew Holmes’ log house as capitol for seven years, a number of town lots, 50 pounds worth of locks and hinges, 10 boxes of glass, 1500 pounds of nails, and $3000 in gold.”

You know what they say, “If you can’t beat’em, buy’em” (or at least set them up to start their own hardware store).

The State House is impressive with it domed roof and French architecture.

It’s nestled in a cozy nook near the river and not too far from my apartment. Walking around the premise, I couldn’t help but wonder if the house was the gift of extraterrestrial beings that dropped it off as they whizzed through the atmosphere. The giant Floral Clock gives it away.

It’s a clock, but it’s made of flowers? Out of this world.

Today, I went on a run on the River Walk. It wasn’t that long of a paved trail, but my max VO2 ain’t what it was a month ago when I completed a mini marathon, so the trail was long enough for me. I also caught the train as it whistled down Broadway Street.

Imagine a locomotive cutting through Circle Centre in Indy. I know, I couldn’t either.

On top of that, I discovered that the ghetto of Frankfort, which is really like one street, is just a block over from my apartment -- two blocks from the state capital building. How does that happen?

I don’t have too many answers at this point, but at least I’m accumulating questions.