Sunday, July 22, 2007

KUAM's 2007 'Survivors' special

I finally got our Liberation Day special up on Google Video. This was the production for which we shot standups in the scorching heat last week. Some of the funnier feedback we're getting notes how KUAM's most guarded secret is now out: Bri's really short and I'm pretty tall (at least by Guam standards).

While we try and disguise the height differentiation between Bri and I while on the set while in-studio, out in the field her 5'1" frame is noticeably more diminutive than me standing 6'3". In every shot when we made eye contact, she almost had to look straight up.

The hour-long special came out really nicely and was a fitting tribute to the brave people we featured in the segments who honestly and painfully shared their stories with us. We're beyond grateful for their contributions.

(Also, skip ahead to 52:14 in the video to Clynt's segment with former Merizo mayor Buck Cruz to see something really eerie. I swear this wasn't staged.)

I'm still getting the 3.5-hour, 670MB Liberation Day Parade that we broadcast live yesterday encoded & uploaded, so stay frosty. It'll be online soon!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Great writing by my g-g-g-generation

I've often wondered what the great literary works have been, are, or will be during my lifetime. The last great book I can think of is likely Catcher in the Rye, but that's before my time. Even more so for Jane Austen. So what will our contribution be to the great symphony of life? Where's the Shakespeare for Gen X?

Is there anything that even remotely qualifies as a great accomplishment of literature, or has society degraded so much that we've got to consider the following titles from recent history, which are known more for attaining pop culture notoriety than for having a profound impact?

- Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus
- Chicken Soup for the Soul (and its derivatives)
- The Satanic Verses
- The DaVinci Code
- Dianetics
- The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Almost everyone my age (33) has read Pet Sematary, and it wasn't required reading at any school I know of. Most frightening thing I've ever read. I was a member of the Stephen King Book Club, so I've got all his works on hardcover.

Anyone got any ideas? 'Cause I sure don't.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Serena: a champion's champion

One of the best shows I've watched on TV in the last five years was "All-Exclusive with Ahmad Rashad" on ESPN in 2004. Normally a NBA analyst for ABC, the former Vikings wideout moderated a panel of world champions consisting of Michael Jordan, Serena Williams, Derek Jeter, Warren Sapp, and Roy Jones, Jr.

The best moment was when Rashad, having previously asked the members to recall their most proud moment as athletes, asked them to detail their most devastating loss. The men all went through recollections of missing out on some key opportunity, costing their teams, their franchises, their cities, and themselves a victory. How it stung months after. How it motivated them. How they never really got over it, even after later success.

But of particular interest, and in my opinion the moment of the hour-long special, was Williams, who silently thought for a moment and then burst into tears, genuinely moved by a memory that she never identified. Jones simply said, "Now THAT'S a winner." Ingenious.

Despite the implication of the show as a front for Nike marketing, it made for good TV.

Field work on the hottest day of the year

Today was a good day - Sabrina, myself and senior videographer Mike Villagomez hit the streets to record standups and transitional segues for our Liberation Day special, which airs this Saturday night. It was a great time - we got all dolled up and recorded ad-libbed host bits on site in 3-piece suits...and in 90-degree heat. Not counting the humidity.

We covered many of the historic areas in Guam's southern end that played significant parts in turning the tide of the war in 1944, and had to come up with (hopefully) whimsical, entertaining and historically accurate dialogue. Man, it was hot. I've never been much of a sweathog, but I was literally drowning inside my sportcoat. And we didn't nail anything on the first take, which for us is rare. So there's a lot of fresh material for our blooper reel.

Between the three of us we cursed more in an hour than Eddie Murphy in "Delirious", and laughed about as much.

Bri and I don't get to do as much field work as we did in our younger years, so this was a nice break from office monotony. Sure beats the typical day slushing through meetings, hurriedly writing breaking news, on the phone and planning.

Edited and ripped apart

There's a rule of journalism that's often taught and rarely practiced: write for a 6th Grade audience. Sorry, I don't buy that jazz. One contribution I would have liked to have made to my company and community is that I made the news a little smarter...even if only by instilling a little college-level vocabulary to colorize our shows. A daily game is made at my station by my colleagues of chopping up my little works of literary art, "dumbing them down" for the masses.

As an example, I was writing up lead-ins and teasers this morning for some of the stories we're running on our afternoon newscast, and here are some of the more choice words that got removed, with my entire crew laughing at me for being "nerdy wordy". This happens on an almost daily basis.

- The current financial state of the local government inexorably led senators to this decision
- We previously reported the much-ballyhooed public law
- The very truculent criticism of the administration
- Despite the defense attorney's attempt to obfuscate the evidence
- A Herculean effort will be needed to save $400M from this year's budget

And I won't even get into the incessant references to pop culture, literature, history and the Rocky Horror Picture Show (seriously) that now litter the cutting room floor. I guess vocab's best used in moderation...tastefully and sparingly. But a guy can try, can't he?

The funny thing is that for those of you that know me know I talk exactly like that. :-)

America's real big four sports

Jim Rome said something very poignant today, when projecting David Beckham's impact on soccer in America (paraphrased):
Becks will have a huge impact on MLS. But he won't turn soccer into the NFL, or the NBA, or MLB. Or...MMA. NHL? Maybe. NASCAR? Perhaps.
Great point about MMA. He drove home how big the sport has become at the national level. And tragically honest about hockey. Many would-be hardcore sports enthusiasts I know didn't even know Sidney Crosby was last season's MVP, or that the Ducks hoisted the Cup this year. Hell, if the Stanley Cup doesn't involve the Red Wings, Rangers, Islanders or Devils in this country, it's seen as a lost season. But I digress...back to MMA.

Let me preface this by saying that I'm NOT a fight fan. But pragmatically as a journalist, I can't ignore how prominently and quickly it's affected popular culture and commerce. I help out with our productions of local fights, but I don't buy/watch the videos, keep up with the SpikeTV show, shell out cash for the pay-per-view events or the merchandising (which is brilliant, by the way), or follow the progress of the fighters. That's just me.

(And to be fair, my favorite sport, volleyball - and indoor vball at that - I doubt would rank in most people's top 20. Say the names Karch Kiraly or Al Scates, both living legends, and few people in the mainstream have a clue.)

ESPN is slowly, slyly embracing the sport, so as not to offend the moral majority and those who would challenge the Disney name's affiliation with what many still see as glorified gladiators.

I've met B.J. Penn before, and as a sportswriter I was honored to meet a world champion in any capacity. And despite his demeanor in the ring, he's a really funny, humble, nice guy. During an event my company produced last week, I hung out backstage with Gil Melendez, who's got UFC credits to his name. He's really cool.

So like it or don't. Just don't deny the sport it's place, because it is big. And it is here.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Congrats on your new Vista laptop...let's mount Linux!

Kat today is rockin' a snazzy new HP Pavilion laptop she got on base for less than $800. It's got Vista and after booting it up, optimizing the performance a bit, running Windows Update to get up to date on security patches, and downloading iTunes/Quicktime, she hurried to partition her HDD to mount Feisty Fawn to have a dual-boot config.

Can you guess which is gonna be her primary OS?

Where would I be if I weren't where I am?

Here's another hit from my Feedback Sack today:
Hi Jason,

What would you do if you weren't doing the news?
That's a good question! I think I'd definitely want to be involved with the media somehow, which is why I love my current job so much. The funny thing is that I've never been one for current events...I wasn't a hard news junkie before I started, and to some degree, I maintain an emotional detachment from our storylines now to make sure I don't develop a bias. I try not to get too worked up either way about the issues. Objectivity through apathy.

Were I to change careers, I'd surely pursue something I know a lot about and love. I'd still be a documentarian of human experience in some capacity, I would hope, and optimally working with sports, music or technology. Man, I'd love to write for Rolling Stone or do broadcasting for Fox Sports. That would rule.

Acting's also been a lifelong passion, too.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

We were so young...

I was going over some old productions my company's done over the years, and a music-oriented piece came up, in which our newsteam listed their favorite albums of all time. It was really popular at the time in 2001. Man, I almost forgot that we'd done this. I'm laughing at how infantile my writing style was back then.

Me, Bri, Marie, Mindy, Warren and the others had a blast putting this together.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Don't lie...just don't tell the truth

I'm happy to be out of the local telecomm game. One of the things that always irritated me about working in the biz locally was how strategies that would be competitive marketing tactics in any other market have devolved into a corporate game of chicken, with the players waiting to see who'll flinch first. Case in point: a local ISP expanding their network bandwidth, but deliberately neglecting to mention how much aggregate bandwidth they now have.

This ticks me off, because in the States companies can't wait to reveal their numbers. Look at Apple - they were unashamed in touting the 500,000 iPhones they sold in their first weekend. And likewise for the 2 billion songs they allowed to be purchased through the iTunes Music Store. It's a competitive advantage, not a trade secret. The power of business metrics even works conversely - anyone could easily figure out how many units of Mobile ESPN didn't sell.

When I started in marketing at IT&E in 1997, one of my first projects was to revamp the promotion of our ISP service by quantifying our network's capabilities. We'd openly tell people how many T-1s we were running. This would make the service more attractive to those people possessing the technical wherewithal to appreciate such information, and be dually attractive to neophytes who figured "Geez, I don't understand any of these numbers or acronyms...these guys must be good."

On Guam, such is always the case with the telecommunications business. Providers openly boast about how fast their networks are, how they have the most customers, or the best equipment...only to tuck tail and run like scared kids when being pegged about hard numbers. The excuse is, of course, more of fear of competitive inferiority than actually wanting to be totally honest to customers, both existing and potential. Sad.

It adds an unnecessary layer of pain to covering the local tech beat.

LNP and exclusivity agreements

One of the technical problems I've been wrapping my brain around for the past few days has been integrating local number portability customers for various local telecomm carriers, as we're expanding support for our SMS-based breaking news service. The conundrum is that while we offer the service exclusively to select carriers, and filter our ineligible customers by validating their phone number(s) at registration by evaluating their prefixes, customers coming from external carriers get locked out.

Were we to open this up, we'd lose the exclusivity advantage, with the service being available to anyone. If we keep it closed, it makes the platform less valuable to potential wireless clients, and for us, that's one more person who could be reading my stuff.

Also, I've been looking into the matter and have noted that LNP services may only apply to voice, not data and/or SMS packets. Ouch.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Today is my day

Believe it or not, I've had some success on past Friday the 13ths. Must be the name recognition.

Now I'm not going to plunge a spear through Kevin Bacon's torso while he's being naughty with some random camp counselor, but things have a tendency to work out for me on the ill-fated days. Look out, world.

Remembering Rickey & Primetime

Two of my favorite professional athletes of all time are Rickey Henderson and Deion Sanders, primarily for their personalities. And everyone that played when they did says the exact same thing about them - you'd hate playing against them, but love to play with them. So much God-given ability coupled with all that mouth and an abundance of attitude. Hella cocky and unbelievably arrogant, but not at all self-centered. It was always about the team. Humility through demonstrative confidence.

I was happy to see Rickey get a gig as the Mets hitting coach yesterday, and Prime's a personal fave as a colleague, doing NFL analysis for CBS.

Consider what Mickey Mantle's got on his plaque in Monument Park at Yankee Stadium: "A Great Teammate". For all his individual achievements and contributions to the game, even being one of the top 9 players of all time, I can't think of a more fitting tribute, or a better way of being remembered.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Behind the scenes at Camp Happy

Tonight's newscast went off pretty well. We narrowly missed pulling off the elusive Perfect Cast with a couple of minor pronunciation snafus, but there's always tomorrow night. However, some people already noted how I came off looking darker than usual. Good catch: right before we went on the air Bri and I noticed a sickening smell wafing through the studio, which we ultimately determined was my chin light having burnt out.

This little device, which you've probably deduced by now, shines from underneath to eliminate any shadow cast by my chin. And it was kaput. So the place stank, I was poorly lit, and I had burning plastic fumes being shot right up my nose. That's live TV for you.

What was also a hoot was one of our floor producers yelled out "Alright, stop what you're doing..." during a commercial, which immediately caused us to ad hoc rap the first verse of "The Humpty Dance" in unison. There's a keeper for the Christmas party blooper reel.

I was thinking about doing my best Vanilla Ice "Drop that zero/get with the hero" impression to close out the show, but I like my job.

Caveats are killing me

So I'm at KFC today, and I'm greeted by the three most delightful words:

"Teriyaki Boneless Wings"

...closely followed in small print by the five most painful:

"Not available yet on Guam"

Praise from Caesar

Here's an e-mail I just got from a fairly well-known local viewer:
Hafa Jason:

You are one of the few Chamorros who pronounce the road in Dededo, "Ysengsong", correctly.

Congratulations.
Thanks! What's funny is that I've gained as much street cred as I have grief over certain words I use, and the manner with which I deliver them. Many people note how I sometimes say "on holiday" when describing someone's vacation, and I've even thrown our audience the occasional curveball by saying "on our shh-edule tonight" as would the BBC lads from across the pond. Other examples I do quite often:
I chalk it up to the fact that the blood that courses through my veins is at some point British, and that Mom, an English literature teacher her entire life, stressed the proper use of linguistics. I'm genuinely flattered when people take note.

Use our closed captioning the next time you watch the news on TV and have a laugh at how off-script I go.

Decked by The Donnas

I'm glad you guys enjoyed my little pre-enactment of my Guitar Hero adventure yesterday. After dinner, I setup on my PS2 and went to work. I did the tutorials, noodled around with the basic tracks for about 15 minutes, and got a feel for the controls and the responsiveness.

There were several tendencies I'd have on a normal axe that cost me points in the game. For instance, wanting to add some funk, like coming in a tad early or late for dissonance...I'd have to stay rigid and play the notes in time, as laid out. This bit me a couple of times. I also had a habit of palm-muting notes, like I normally would. And I caught myself several times trying to apply vibrato that never rang out or pinch harmonics that fell silent instead of screaming.

But the one technique that I found advantageous was to hold my strumming hand as if I actually had a pick, with my index finger and thumb closed, gripping a non-existent plectrum. I riffed a lot faster, more accurately and with less stress. Alternate and economy picking came a lot easier, which helped with the faster solos.

After about 90 minutes, I made it through the first three levels, all on the first take. I had to take a breather halfway through - I was literally panting after barely surviving "Stellar" by Incubus. To my surprise, the thrash stuff came the easiest. I got my highest score covering Megadeth.

When I attained Shredder status it was about 10:30pm and I was getting tired. I gave one last shot at the next batch of songs, cuing up The Donnas' "Take it Off". Got completely creamed....I never even made it to the second verse. Booed completely off the stage and totally got my posterior handed to me.

This is one song that's a helluva lot easier to play in real life than on a game. But it's really a lot of fun.

(And my neck is slightly sore from sporadic headbanging.)

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Patrick Palomo on KUAM News Extra

Legendary and beloved Guam musician Patrick Palomo joined Sonya Artero on KUAM News Extra this week to talk about music, his island roots and the love he has playing with other musicians.



- Watch Part 1
- Watch Part 2
- Watch Part 3

He also plays "Famagu'on", a cut from his new double-CD, "Evolutions" with Jesse Bais and Mike DiAmore. Great stuff. (Josie shot the cover...great job!)

Guitar Hero: a shredder's perspective

One of the KUAM Kids brought me a present this morning: letting me borrow his Guitar Hero I for the PS2. I wish I had a camera...I basically grew up with a guitar attached so much to me it became a de facto part of my anatomy, but it's hilarious how ridiculous I look with this thing strapped to me.

The guitar, which is the controller, looks to be a modified SG or a Rich Bich. It's miniaturized, has a tremolo bar (only goes down, not up), which makes it rather awkward to hold for me. The song list is awesome. I'm curious to see if riffing on "Cowboys From Hell" and "Symphony of Destruction" is gonna be harder than on the real thing.

But since I don't have a console here at work, I can't play the game - and my wrist is getting a tad sore just noodling to some music I've got playing in the background. Since I work for a radio station, I've been grabbing some Spanish acoustic guitars we've got lying around and doing my old scale exercises on nylon to warm-up. Tonight's gonna be F-U-N. And E-M-B-A-R-R-A-S-S-I-N-G.

(To my neighbors: my apologies in advance for the noise.)

The Guamazing Race - Reunion Special

Now that our first foray into reality TV is in the history books, this introduces an entirely new Pandora's Box - retrospective specials! We did one such production last night, talking to the teams who participated in this year's Guamazing Race.


(Watch the whole show here)

Andy Wheeler hosted, and it turned out really well. You can stream/download the 22-minute show from Google Video, or check below to see any of the episodes if you missed 'em.
Also, check out our YouTube channel...more cool stuff to come.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Fare thee well, Dan-o

Bummer. One of SportsCenter's best is calling it a career (at least with ESPN), as Dan Patrick's leaving Bristol. He was always one of my favorite anchors - someone who brought wit, intellect, charm and grace to the craft of broadcasting sports. Keith Olbermann, Rich Eisen, Scott Van Pelt and Stuart Scott are the others in my 5.

Good luck, Dan...you'll be missed!

The Guamazing Race - Part 3 of 3

It's over! Yes, true believers, Guam's first reality show has now run its course, and The Guamazing Race is now in the history books. A pair of realtors outlasted a feisty team of Air Force wives in a very close race that went down to the waning moments of the final event. For their effort, Roland and Glenn (Team Lalahen Guahan) earned a cool $10,000. Nice.

It was real fun to work on this and the feedback we've gotten has been overwhelmingly positive. People already want to start lining up for next year!

If you missed the show on TV last night, here's the streaming video/download link. Enjoy!

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Lay off the coif

A viewer e-mailed me this weekend, asking (1) if I'd consider wearing my hair different, and (2) when the last time I had a non-Caesar-esque 'do was. (Her words, not mine.) In short, my response was: (1) I can't, and (2) 2000.

The TV industry can be so silly and anally retentive it's downright disgusting. For instance, and in particular, hair. I'm afforded little leeway in how I might be able to wear my waves, currently being relegated to a localized Anderson Cooper. There's not that much room to create, save a few pioneers. Were I to lengthen my locks, the Micronesian genes coursing within me would invariably take over and things would really get out of control.

Sorry to disappoint, but the 'fro doesn't work on the nightly news for us half-white guys.

I'd never be able to get away with what I did in 1998, long before I started at KUAM, when I grew out my hair and dyed it so jet black it damn near looked blue in certain light. I told Julie about my little 18-month follicle experiment…she still doesn't believe me.

I was going for That 90's Look. You know - the disenchanted, unaffected alt-slacker. Let me give you an image: Ethan Hawke in "Reality Bites". Scott Stapp from Creed. Basically, all the male characters in "Underworld". Architecting a modified mullet with amplified bangs. Think Kurt Cobain, but actually groomed.

It was cool for awhile but all things come to an end. The funny thing was that after I grew it out to the point when it was long enough to barely graze my shoulders, I cut it and went Clooney.

Ah, memories. :-)

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Labor negotiations

Funny are the things that drive people's motivation. This is a transcription of an actual conversation I had with someone while working on a project. The identity of the incriminated is suppressed to preserve their dignity.
Collaborator: We need to go over this project...coffee?
Me: No, I'm good. I don't drink the stuff.

Collaborator: Let's talk about it outside...you up for a drag?
Me: Sorry, dude...don't smoke.

Collaborator: OK...how about over drinks later?
Me: I don't drink much anymore.

Collaborator: Alrighty. Say, I know this bar that has killer babes! We can totally score and talk about work...
Me: I'm not promiscuous.

Collaborator: Uhhh...you smoke pot? You wanna roll a fatty?
Me: Nope. And no, thanks.

Collaborator: Man, you MUST be into some sick stuff! What are you on?
Me: Nothing, really. I just like working.

Collaborator: Then how the hell do you get anything done?
Me: I just kinda sit, think and produce.
Now for the record, if I do have any workplace vices or substances which add to my ability to make it through the day, it would be King Car. I'll get withdrawals (literally) if I go too long without the stuff.

The ultimate power ballads

Spend 10 minutes with me and inevitably I'll work into whatever conversation we're having how much I enjoy music...and then on top of that, how much of an appreciation I have for the art form that is the almighty power ballad. This is one kick-ass list of the best of the best.

I don't personally know the author, but well done, my friend...one of the best I've seen in a long, long time. It's current, historically well documented and unashamed to work in the mainstream bubblegum pop stuff.

Break out your credit card and consider this your iTunes Music Store shopping list for the weekend. Essential listening for anyone who doesn't mind a little cheese with their grinders.

Breakfast (or dinner) at Wimbledon

Because of the time difference between Guam and the UK, I've been watching a lot more tennis. The day's morning matches start up right around the time I get home from work at 8pm. Tragically, I've almost forgotten what a privilege it is to consume good sportscasting from the true masters of the craft. Half the time I've just been sitting and staring up at my ceiling, listening to the immortal Dick Enberg humbly pontificate the merits of the day's matches on the hallowed grass of Wimbledon. Absolutely brilliant.

I normally take in such audible input as a colleague, such that I might apply a derivative style within my own on-air work for covering live athletics. But lately, I've just been a fan.

Certain personalities would be considered bastions in our industry for their mic prowess: John Madden and Pat Summerall in the NFL, Marv Albert for pro hoops, Dickie V and Greg Gumble for the college hardwood, hockey with Gary Thorne, Mel Allen doing baseball, Al Michaels for…well, anything. And, of course, the Godfather - Howard Cossell during the Muhammed Ali years.

So much broadcasting today is based on catch phrases, over-the-top personas, force-fitted segues and talent being caught up in their own hype. Too much, I think; undoubtedly influenced by ESPN. Sadly a lot of the core skill of telling an audience what happens during a game has been lost in the clutter.

But sometimes, it's nice to go back to your roots and appreciate good work.


Friday, July 06, 2007

Happy thrashin' Friday

Although at KUAM we never really get extended "laid back" days like some companies do for their employees wherein we get to dress down and take it easy, I've taken the initiative to make today an all-metal Friday. Kat and I have been laboring while listening to 80's hard rock - everything from thrash, to death, to party, to prog-rock, to pop, to power ballads, to glam.

Yes, glam.

Being the elder statesman of my little department, I've been doing my best to explain the meaning behind the songs, who played on them, their album covers, what the lyrics (really) meant, and where I was when they played and how they made me feel. I'm having to revert to 8th Grade Jason in order to get the details correct. Where's my slang book when I need it? At the moment we're crankin' Metallica's timeless "Whiplash".

Dude, I so wanna skate right now.

Half a TB?!?!?

One of my co-workers on our commercial video creative team just got HOOKED UP. He was rewarded for his long-form video work with a new storage device - a ProMax 500 GB firewire drive. 500 gigabytes. That's almost half a freakin' terabyte. A decade ago we'd need tape archives or optical disks to store that much data. And we got it on base, so it was less than $250. Wow.

I still crack people up when I tell them how I can do entire web sites or GUI apps that take up less than a MB of diskspace. I could make my handiwork distributable on floppies.

But not like anyone uses those things anymore. :-)

Greatest axemen: Ozzy & KISS

I was talking with a friend today about Ozzy Osbourne's stable of great guitarists. I'm like most people and favor the late Randy Rhoads as his greatest six-stringed compliment, not only because of his untimely passing, but because of the prodigiousness of his playing style. His neoclassical technique was right up their with Yngwie and George Lynch. Unbelievable.

Jake E. Lee was greatly underappreciated. Zakk Wylde's low-end pinch harmonics scream so sick it's not even funny. Joe Holmes didn't have enough time to develop his voice. But listen to Randy's seamless legato phrasing, precision picking and boundlessly creative fills in his live work and watch your jaw drop. It puts to shame what a lot of cats are turning out, even today. It's so aggressive, and yet so...logical.

Now on that note, I'm going to shift focus to KISS and deviate from the popular model. My all-time favorite axeman for the NYC quartet is Bruce Kulick. During his 12 years, in my opinion, he and Paul Stanley wrote some of their best pure music. It was melodic, hard-edged fist-pounders counterbalanced against beautiful ballads. Nothing against Space Ace, but Bruce is the man.

How about you?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Who was better: Griffey or Bonds?

Tim Kurkjian did a great piece on SportsCenter yesterday, chronicling the peak career achievements of Barry Bonds and Ken Griffey, Jr. He begged the question of who was better in their mid-1990's prime. There was no real winner declared and he offered no definitive conclusions, but my money's on Junior.

No disrespect to Bonds, who is the greatest player of my lifetime, but for seven straight years, Griffey was the Seattle Mariners. And this was a team with Edgar Martinez, Randy Johnson, Jay Buhner, and a rookie named Alex Rodriguez. He hit for average, cracked a ton of homers and was the best patrolman in centerfield since Willie Mayes and Joe DiMaggio.

Bonds won 3 MVPs in the pre-steroid era and 8 Gold Gloves. But in the National League. For an unbelievable stretch, Griffey was the game's most feared player, in a time when baseball was still considered unpopular.

He's no longer the player he once was, and Bonds is now approaching immortality, but in their primes, there's no doubt that Griffey was the man.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Movie review: Transformers

I'm waiting with bated breath for this week's Totally Rad Show. Alex and the boys should have their hands full debating the merits of the new Transformers flick, which I just saw. (OK, I gave into peer pressure…sue me. Actually, please don't.) And given the way they totally railed on Spider-Man 3 and Fantastic Four 2, it'll be interesting to see how they rate this.

Sabrina, her husband Frank and I went after producing our 4th of July newscast, which Clynt awesomely anchored, giving us the night off. We stood in line for 20 minutes, got pummeled by the snow on Guam exhibit and caught a pretty good summertime movie. Tonight was the third night the movie's been out, and it was jam-packed. We had to settle for seats in the rightmost corner of the third row. I'm blogging this with a partially stiff neck after looking nearly directly skyward for 2.5 hours. I'm glad I went.

**SPOILER ALERT**

(If you haven't seen the picture yet, don't bother reading on.)

I'm really going to sound like a nerd, and I don't normally nitpick to this great a degree with movies, but one gross omission/inaccuracy drove me nuts…kinda like how Colossus wasn't Russian in X-Men 2 and 3. Even fairweather fans know Devastator isn't a tank. I guess explaining the Constructicons within the storyline would have been too difficult, although the already-greenlit sequels plan to incorporate them, as well as the Dinobots.

Otherwise…

Overall, check it out. It's a fantastic time.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Please, don't tease

So I'm sitting at my desk, chugging along and working on a slick AJAX front-end to our news stories (yeah, real exciting, I know...) and I step away to grab a King Car. Look what greets me when I come back:


It's particularly the middle message that's irking me. It's bad enough that we out here in Technical NeverNeverLand (where technology doesn't grow up) can't get the iPhone, but now we're being prompted to use it?

Man, that's cold.

The Guamazing Race - Part 2 of 3

Six down, four remain. Only one will win.

I spent last night encoding the video stream for Episode 2 of "The Guamazing Race", KUAM's first reality show. It's got the local community buzzing, wanting to know who came away with the $10,000 prize. After surviving a tough trial in Episode 1, The remaining teams - Team Guchi Guchi, Lalahen Guahan, Cali Girls, and The Plastic Avengers - have their work cut out for them next week in the final stretch.

You can download the entire show as an MP4 for your PSP or iPod via Google Video...it's about 293MB, so grab some coffee. I'm contractually obligated not to reveal who the winner of the show is...but anyone want to try and venture a guess? :-)

(Also, keep an eye out for an unplanned cameo by yours truly at around 27:29...I'm the idiot who stumbles into the shot, walking around in 97° heat in a black sweater and jeans. I was covering the event for the news that day.)

Inside KUAM's closed captioning

We started running a new sponsorship bumper during last night's newscast mentioning how IT&E (my former employer) is now backing our closed captioning services. I've received a fair amount of e-mail since from people who thought it was cool and kept their TVs running in CC mode just to follow along. Some people even commented on how much I personally ad lib and throw in "extra stuff".

I'm so busted.

Others have written, wanting to know how it all works. So here's the secret sauce: our captioning software converts our written scripts to text - verbatim - and displays it in the lower-third of a TV set's screen, assuming the CC mode is enabled. More high-end, more expensive systems, like those used by ESPN, run a hybrid back-end, combining software that displays pre-written text for leads and then switches over to voice synthesis for matching live readovers. I've looked into this a bit and it's really amazing technology.

We've been running captioning newscasts for more than four years, and the obvious target audience, the hearing impaired, has really enjoyed it. But oddly, not that many people outside of the bar crowd realized such was available.

Location, location, location...

Every few months to keep myself honest and remind myself why I love my current gig, I venture out and apply for an industry job or 12 that I find interesting. Last night while encoding the video for KUAM's new reality show, I passed the time by once again trying to crack the nut that is The Worldwide Leader in Sports.

This is the perfunctory autoresponse I immediately got after inquiring about a particularly intriguing offer:
Jason,

Thank you for your interest in our Company and for taking the time to apply.

We are reviewing the background and experience of those who have applied for this position and will contact those individuals whose experience aligns with the qualifications of this position.

Again, we thank you for your time and interest in our Company!
...and then I get this just now, 18 hours later:
Jason,

Thank you for taking the time to submit your resume for our opening.

While it is never easy to narrow a search and select a final candidate, we have recently completed the process. The position has been filled with the candidate we feel best meets the qualifications for the position at this time. Please note that while more than one applicant may meet the minimum qualifications of a position, the candidate selected is determined by overall skills, experience, and other relevant elements of professional background.
Yadda, yadda, yadda. I don't think I made it past the first sentence. I interviewed with ESPN a couple years back...it was an eye-opener. The person probing me (who I later found out was a junior staffer calling from the conference room) asked more about JavaScript than about trying to peg my sports acumen. I was told that since Guam's not a major TV market and since it would cost so much to relocate me (despite my sincere pleas to personally finance my halfway-around-the-world trek), they'd pass. Once again, being way out here drags you down.

I miss the days of the Dot Com boom when kids like us could get recruited directly out of markets like these.

The funny thing is that Disney went after my sister pretty aggressively when she lived in Rhode Island, but she turned them down. Ah, irony.

Monday, July 02, 2007

"Write the parade"

The one thing I love about my job is the endless opportunities it affords me, giving me infinite avenues in which to create ideas and show off my stuff to a vast audience. I got an interesting little assignment tonight:

Me: Is there anything I can do to help lighten the workload?
Bri: Write the parade.

I'm on it like the Green Hornet. I'm now the head writer for our live broadcast of the 2007 Guam Liberation Day Parade. Sabrina and I will be hosting our coverage, which is about 3 hours of talking, bantering, interviewing, throwing to field reporters, relating people, dates and places, and making off-the-cuff trivial references about the event, about our community, about the significance of it all and hopefully segue it all together coherently. (Had I knew I could make a career out of yapping endlessly, I would have spared my parents the money they put up for college.)

I've previously done full-length writing for other productions we've done, but not a live telecast. This is somewhat easier, but then also a helluva lot harder. For example, when we produce an entire night's election coverage, we'll collaboratively script out 7 hours worth of dialogue, knowing full well that 20 minutes into it we'll chuck it all out the window and start hardcore ad-libbing. This is probably going to be the same thing. It's that intense.

The big thing is to just describe what we see and let people know what the atmosphere is like. Because the broadcast will also be simulcast on our AM radio station, we can't write exclusively for a visual audience, so we have to add the extra detailed dimension. I credit my experience with doing soundseeing tours on podcasts as being able to pull this off. It's a really daunting challenge, but really fun.

It's the farthest thing from brain surgery...but a lot harder than it looks.

Hope you tune in! :-)

The polarizing impact of 'Transformers'

A little social experiment I undertook this past weekend was to talk to a lot of friends that go back to the original days of the Transformers. Before the movie. The Hasbro days. The days when the guy who voiced Starscream was also Cobra Commander. You know who you are. Many purists don't have any interest in seeing the live-action version. They won't even give it the time of day. They're going to avoid it like the plague, no matter how well it does.

Conversely, dilettantes (most of whom under the age of 28) and fairweather fans are clamoring for advanced tickets for the movie, just happy to have one more topical thing to talk about around the water cooler. They don't see what a slap in the face of the original fans the big-budget version is. Bumblebee as a Camaro? Huh. I'm admittedly on the fence on this one.

Personally, I've never really been a big fan of derivative works. Movie remakes more often than not suck. As do most movie adaptations of books I've read. Or music samples. (Although, if Land of the Lost makes it to the Silver Screen, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt.)

...and now for something completely different

Straight outta the This is Hella Cool Department, I'm proud to report that Survivor will be playing my hometown for the 4th of July. Wow. I haven't seen them since the awkward Dancing with the Stars episode. If memory serves, Starship played last year's Independence Day concert, headlining a gig that included my friends in Metal Daze.

Man, Survivor. I cracked up when I got the press release and hurriedly got it online. If they do "High On You", that'll be the ultimate.

Here's hoping for Stray Cats next year! :-)

Cameo - Krispy Kremes on Guam?!?

We got a rare treat (for Guam, anyway) this morning from a co-worker who just returned from holiday in the Philippines: a box of Krispy Kremes. Fan-freakin-tastic! Sadly, I can't indulge...doughnuts makes me break out in pimples somethin' bad. And I've given our producers enough reasons to roll their eyes at me this week (and it's only Monday morning).

This reminds me of the rumors that a friend is starting up Hooters in the near future, that another friend thought for a fleeting moment about franchising Dippin' Dots, and that yet another local entrepreneurial chum backed out at the prospect of bringing Starbucks out here due to the astronomical licensing requirements (something like $1,000,000 plus at least 4 stores within a 10-mile radius of the flagship locale).

Kinda neat to reflect on how far this place has come in 20 years. Back then, Target might have been considered luxury shopping.

iPhone ringtones (or lack thereof)

I was really bummed to learn on Diggnation that the iPhone can't inherently use stored MP3s as ringtones. What a disappointment. MacRumors confirmed that a quasi-business plan is in place to allow for custom ringtones only through iTunes 7.3, which is better than nothing.

But man, way to piss on someone's parade.

The new Guitar Hero? Hell, yeah!

While wandering aimlessly this weekend I stumbled upon some ads for Guitar Hero Encore: Rocks the 80's. I nearly had to call upon the janitorial staff to clean up the slobber I left behind. I have seen the future, and it is totally rad.

The soundtrack is just what I would have wanted it to be. Anthrax's "Caught in A Mosh"? Good grief - I think I'd have an easier time playing the chromatic run riff on a regular axe than trying to pull it off on the PS2. It was also good to see Dead Kennedys represented, alongside White Lion and Dio. And yes, Priest. OK, maybe the cuts are recorded polyphonic covers and not the originals, which is a downer in this day and age of soundtracks a la GTA. But I'll get over it.

Several of the KUAM Kids were into the DDR craze a few years ago, and it was fun. They're all about the Wiii now.

I can't hardly wait...this'll be insane.

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