These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

it's a wonderful life

tonight i sat down and finally saw the movie that has eluded me all of this time. dawn was surprised i'd never seen it, since it plays most times around christmas. still, i had never been attracted to it. i just so happened that tonight i flipped through the channels and stopped on a black and white movie and this kid working behind the counter at a drugstore with two young girls watching him, who soon after whispering "i love you george bailey" in his deaf ear.

i have mixed feelings about the movie. as it went on, i kept thinking why is this such a big hit at xmas time, it's such a downer. the poor bastard was stuck in a rut, at least according to himself. and his anger, mostly underlying, kept george from becoming a likeable character for me. it was only at the end after he realizes what life withouthim would be like and he goes home that i warmed to him.

i suppose that's when the movie achieves its goal and we all see the forest despite the trees.

i must admit to becoming teary-eyed during the scene when he opens the book tom sawyer and reads the inscription by clarence "a man who has friends is not a failure." i like that phrase. the whole angel thing was a little cheese with the whole ASC (angel second class) trying to earn wings, but i forgave the movie for that after the book inscription.

the message is clear and simple. sometimes we don't see that what we have is good and meaningful. i guess a lot of us are guilty of failing to look around our lives and ignore the good we have. thanks for pointing it out clarence.

did i like themovie? yeah, i did. i don't know if i'll ever watch it again, though. i can now join the ranks of millions who have watched it and know any in-jokes when they come concerning the movie.

one thing, though. i wish old man potter had gotten his ass kicked or perhaps even shoved off that bridge into the cold water. but i guess the meaning behind the movie wouldn't have been the same. one can think it, though. even visualize it.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

2nd anniversary

today is my second anniversary at work. hard to believe. i arrived up here without a job or prospect of one, only knowing there were two papers in town. i applied at both and the sentinel took me in. luck played a part. when i went in with my resume, a lady who'd taken a job opening decided to take another one, thus leaving the night GA still open. i went in several days later for an interview, nervous as hell. i thought i'd failed miserably. thanksgiving interfered with the hiring at that point. so i had to wait. then on tuesday the week after, i got the call from ole randy himself telling me i had the job if i wanted it. i accepted.

i was a wet-behind-the-ears reporter then. still am, although i've learned quite a bit since arriving here. i take a little from here and a little from there and have kept up with the pace. i knew nothing of townships when i started; now, i know all twoo well about them and their meetings and personnel. since i've had the GA job for this long, i've gotten to know pretty much most other reporters' beats since i have to cover for them. in addition, i have had to think on my feet a lot and make quick calls when needed. and although i doubt most people know my face, since i'm never at one place long enough, i've learned the system well enough.

i've met some cool folks. the night desk rocks and we've all clicked and have many things in common -- all nuts about one thing or another.

i think what i've learned over the past two years is confidence at my job, knowing i have to get the job done and do a good job at it.

i've encountered a whle new culture - the dutch - which i never thought i'd know anything about. jeez, i know, can spell, and pronounce a crap load of dutch names. that was the real hard part when i started. now, i breeze right through, for the most part.

never thought i'd be on the big lake. i got my chance last year during a coast guard exercise. that was wild. got to meet ne of the stars of themovie "scar face." have written a handful of interesting stories, including the 2.0 kid (jon cusack 2.0) which got international acclaim. big thumbs up to jim h. for looking at the births and eyeing the oddness of the name. yay, jim. i've gotten yelled at by the same cop here in town for two different circumstances, none of which were my fault. still fun. it does get you recognized. have had my ID checked for possible "freaky" activity at the museum during sinter klaas. kidnapped missionary. and lots of small stuff in between.

i guess so far, so good. but i'm still learning and shaping what i'm doing as much as as i can on the page. it's a never-ending process. i'm starting to look at some other things in my stories now that are still lacking and that can be improved.

cheers mates. brindis.

home sweet home

it's late, it feels like a friday night, and i've got muddy waters playing in the background (soooo right that guitar feels in my ear0. dawn's asleep and i really should slip into bed, but i'd best post this now.

phillip snyder made it home. dennis and i made our way to the airport as mentioned. there was a delay. he came in at 2 instead of noon. so after getting up early, i returend home, chillded, then left. we got there and joined the other media folks. there were three tv stations there and the GR press (shondra m. reported for them).

after some waiting, milling, the family arrived. we met up with uncle denny, amber's mom and the kids. the kids are cute little things. i eased my way to talking with the oldest child, got a quick comment from one of the little ones and a few others before snyder came towards us.

its' funny. the tv folks with their cameras knelt down and crowded, as usual, in front. they usually take up a lot of space with the cameras and mikes. one of them made a stupid move forward and all of them jerked forward. i don't understand since they have great capacity for zooming in. they could have been standing 20 feet away from him and still gottena nice close shot. instead, it becomes frenzied with snyder surrounded by his children and media looming over him like vultures (one of the photogs actually voiced that sentiment). and i guess it's true. we are vultures of sorts, except instead of carrion we crave words, sentences, information that will garner the makings of a good story.

which brings me to this point: do we really care about our the people we interview or is it wham, bam, tahnk you ma'am? i believe that a good reporter cares about the person heor she is interviewing, truly feels some sympathy for an individual. when i interview someone who's just lost their belongings in a fire or loved one in a car carsh, i genuinely feel bad for them. i do my job, thank them or give condolences, pat them on the shoulder or shake their hand, and leave. it's never rough or rude. theat will never get you anywhere. you go in be sympathetic, listen to them, and then i go write the best story i can with what i've got.

soap box time is over.

snyder spoke briefly and then it was over. he'll give a longer, more-depth interview later afte he's rested. i won't be able to do it because i won't be working friday. oh well. someone will do a capable job of it.

ok, i've really got to off now. i feel this entry is a failure and, despite my intent, pointless and rambling. although, isn't that what i am suppose to do with this blog? heh heh

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

coming home

phillip snyder is on his way ome from haiti and should, theoritically, arrive some time today. the questions are when, where and what time. it's a waiting game. i've been the go-between with amber snyder and the newspaper. i hope we have built the rapport i think we have. i called yesterday to continue our connection. she wasnt' home but she did call me later at the office, after having received themessage from one of her children. this morning i called again and she was waiting for a call from her husband. i didn't tie up the line but gave her my cell number to ring me when she knew additional info. the paper really wants to be there at the airport when snyder arrives (presumably at gerald r. ford). so i'm waiting, taking my phone with me everywhere and hoping it rings and it's her.

the anticipation is hard. i feel i've disturbed her by my continuing phone calls. but if i don't call, chances are i'll be forgotten and we'll miss the chance to snap a picture of him and do a possible interview, at least a short one with him. and so when the time comes, i'll have to call again, make a pest of myself, and ask once more.

as the afternoon wears on, though, it's ahrder to mold the budget for the paper. there are several open meeting slots to fill and the amazing race (the bransens are still in it), so it becomes interesting what is sacrificed to get the picture and inteview with snyder, that is if he arrives at a decent time for tomorrow's edition of the paper. if he chooses to arrive at 2 a.m., we're not getting it in for wednesday. but all of this is complete speculation since i don't know squat yet.

patience, grasshopper.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


had a great time bowling in muskegon saturday night. went with babbitt and krista. it was for a charity deal for eric. he and his wife are trying to adopt a child from russia and tring trying to raise money. a whole lot of us from work went, including mark, robbins, brower and his wife and peg.

after a cautious drive up with the snow blowing and the roads unsalted, we did arrive and hung out until it was time. dawnie and i did fine the first game of the three. i actually had two strikes and a couple of spares. we broke 100. the second one was horrible. our arms were tiring by then. but we recuperated by the third game and did almost 100. the team of us and the babbitts had an equal score after the three games.

it was good to get out and enjoy it. smoking was allowed and tough in there. end up smelling smoky, but no biggie.

gotta give a shout out to my niece 'rena. she did great in her storytelling UIL this week. she got first and advanced to finals, where she came in fourth overall. not too shabby. hope she and ricky are beter off with activities than me and their dad, who did squat in school. proud of the brats.