Everything’s Relative

Friday, I spoke with Andy Bromage at the New Haven Advocate. He may be writing up my website attack tale of woe. It’s a complex technical story. I’m not sure how that will translate to the printed page.

Friday, I spoke with Andy Bromage at the New Haven Advocate. He may be writing up my website attack tale of woe. It’s a complex technical story. I’m not sure how that will translate to the printed page.

Meanwhile, I continue to watch as the number of spammy pages reporte4d by Google continues to diminish. It was over 333.000. It’s now down to 22,000.

22,000 is a lot of pages, yet it looks manageable now.

My website traffic has changed too. The “oops” page, which was catching all the folks looking for game cracks and porn, was receiving 80% of my traffic. It’s now around 10%.

Over the next month, Google should reevaluate who I am, by virtue of the pages on this blog. That should elevate my weight on those things I really am ‘expert’ on, weight now ascribed to my alleged expertise in the more sinister side of life.

Should and will are not the same word. I’ll continue to check.

Something I Should Have Done Weeks Ago

This is embarrassing. A few weeks ago I told my friend Paul Bass I’d make mention of his new news site, The New Haven Independent.

Though the site is a “dot org” it also answers to “dot com” and I suppose this is part of Paul’s liberal slant… maybe going “dot com” makes it look too much like a business? It’s OK Paul. No one expects you to conjure up food to feed your family.

Paul is a brilliant writer and reporter. More than that, he digs. He knows where the bodies are buried or at least where to find someone who knows where the bodies are buried.

On more than a few cases I have suggested to more than a few bosses that we hire Paul. I suspect he is looked upon as a lightning rod and that tends to make people want to keep their distance.

Paul’s website is very New Haven-centric, and that’s why I don’t feel it’s a conflict to make mention of it. There is virtually no coverage outside the city itself. My television station is a statewide voice.

I have no idea how Paul will turn this into a commercial venture. It’s gotta be tough getting eyeballs. He certainly won’t make it if he gets a geofffox.com sized audience.

Still, many of the stories are gritty and interesting. I hope he does well. More voices are always a good thing.

Blogger’s Note – I had forgotten to write about Paul until I got my daily email from the Poynter Institute:

Former Alt Journalist Starts Site in New Haven

Paul Bass, formerly of the New Haven Advocate (Connecticut), has

launched a community journalism site at NewHavenIndependent.org

. His logic, funding, thoughts

about corporate journalism, and other information about him and the site

are outlined in this article

.

Making A Movie

I don’t know how the bug bit me… but it did. Ever since I first read about ‘instant’ movie fests, I needed to try one.

I scouted the Internet and finally latched on Cinemasports, out of San Fransisco. They sponsor competitions&#185 from various locations. The filmaker gets a list of ingredients – a name, a character, a place, some dialog, and then fashions a short movie in a very short time span – usually no more than 9 or 10 hours!

In that time the script has to be written, or rewritten to include the ingredients, then shot and edited and uploaded. I’m breaking out in a sweat already.

The finished movie is no longer than three or four minutes. Still, it must be a real structured movie… well, it doesn’t have to be anything, but you’d like it to be a real structured movie because people are going to watch it that night in a club in San Fransisco.

When I started calling friends, asking if they’d like to be involved, I was surprised, because everyone said yes! In the end, not everyone could fit it into their schedule but we’ve still got a good turnout.

Our Director of Photography is Ray Flynn. He used to work with me at the TV station. Now, he runs a production company. He’s a good guy, plus he has the equipment.

The Director is Hugh Mackay. This is a great leap of faith because I’ve never met Hugh! He comes recommended by our writer, so why not?

Chris Arnott is the principal writer. I say principal because it’s a good guess there will be improvisation and suggestions from the rest of us. Chris writes for the New Haven Advocate, so he can push out words against deadline.

He and I had dinner this evening. It was Hollywood on I-95. I was ‘taking’ a dinner with the writer.

He has ideas, but it’s going to be tough to pin anything specific down because we need to work in the ingredients. More specifically, we want it to look like they belong, not that they were squeezed in.

Rick Allison, professional voice guy, poker fiend, bon vivant, will be there. I’m not exactly sure what Rick will do, but Chris said he wants to take advantage of Rick’s pipes. He has an incredible and distinctive voice. Trust me, you’ve heard his voice.

We’ll all be acting. That’s for sure. We’ll also all be holding boom mikes or reflectors or logging shots. There’s plenty to do in the field.

My friends Steve and Harvey (as opposed to Steve Harvey) are also in on the action. The funny things is, they’re the most educated – both being physicians. They have the least amount of discernible skill in this endeavor. They’ll probably have the most fun. If nothing else, Harvey is going to learn to edit using Final Cut Pro on his laptop, which he’s bringing.

I am the producer. I really don’t know exactly what a producer does. I picked up the check for dinner tonight. That’s a first step.

I’ll try and draw everyone together to get this to be a team effort.

Actually, the team might not be done. Depending on what he writes, Chris will recruit a few more actors and (this is so over-the-top it’s beyond me) someone to score the film!

Yes – a four minute movie with an original score. How cool is that?

So, there you have it. Our production opens and closes Saturday. Barring unforeseen grief, I expect to post the film right here for anyone to see.

Wish us luck.

&#185 – Competition is probably a bad word, but the best I can come up with at the moment.

Perfect Positioning

I was at the New Haven Advocate’s “Best Of” dinner at Anthony’s in New Haven. Very nice. Very enjoyable. I am a born schmoozer.

As I was waiting for my car, I spied this vehicle across the way. It is perfect – seriously.

I assume this is a company that does outcall tech support (the only way people of this ilk will ever be associated with anything outcall). The vehicle does everything humanly possible to position them as the geeks I’m sure they are.

In a world where perception is often mistaken for reality, this vehicle (and the others I saw in the lot) will be perceived correctly. Don’t you want the person who fixes your computer to be nerdy enough to fit into this box of a vehicle?

New Haven Advocate Best Of

I was very pleased to hear I’d won the New Haven Advocate’s Best Of Readers’ Poll. Though I usually pick up the Advocate when I get coffee at Roberto’s, I missed the voting issue so I didn’t even have a chance to stuff the ballot box.

That this is a vote by viewers makes it all the more gratifying.

There are some interesting, nearly dubious, honors bestowed. Some categories are split so many ways that you’d better get something. And, I totally understand that the Advocate does this as an advertising booster (look in the print issue and see all the back slapping ads). It’s still nice.

Christopher Arnott, who I’ve known for years, wrote my little blurb – and now I’m blushing.

Tonight is the ‘get your award’ dinner, and I’ll be going. I’ll bring my camera.

Best Local TV Personality

Geoff Fox, WTNH Channel 8

Geoff Fox stops by the Advocate offices in the early afternoon. The energy of the 9-to-5ers in the room is starting to lag, but Fox is wide-eyed, funny, fresh, loud-voiced, glad-handed–the life of the party.

He woke up about an hour earlier. His workday’s just begun.

“Basically I live my life in Hawaiian time. I wake up at noon, and I don’t get home until midnight. I’m used to people calling me and waking me up. I liked it when I had a friend living in Singapore; he’s the only one who’d call me when I was at the right time.”

Geoff Fox has weathered that rough-and-tumble schedule for over 20 years as a weatherman, and he’s been a broadcast professional since 1969. And despite cleaning up annually as Advocate readers’ choice for Best Local TV Personality, he’s still improving his job prospects, studying meteorology for the past three years.

Geoff Fox New Haven Advcoate photo

One thing that makes Geoff Fox so engaging in person is his quick wit, and it’s a skill he’s able to use on the air. “I get to do stand-up. I get to ad-lib. I’m the only one who works without a script.” Some of his best exchanges are with the Channel 8 directors and cameramen; he’s like a comedian who delights in cracking up the house band. “For me, it has a lot to do with growing up watching George Burns, Soupy Sales and Sandy Becker,” TV comics who loved to break the fourth wall and display the nuts and bolts of the TV set.

Offscreen, he engages with viewers via his weblog, for which he’s already penned over 1,100 entries. A self-admitted tech geek, Fox has built a few computers himself, and he has connected another of his passions–poker–to the net by playing an online game through a casino in Costa Rica, almost tripling his initial investment.

It’s a life well lived, on air at 5, 6 & 11 p.m. (plus 10 p.m. on Channel 8’s sister station, WTXX) and “on” constantly from noon until his wee-hours bedtime.

On the same page: Yale wins the Best Local Four-Year College category. Who woulda thunk it?

Blogger’s note: The writeup says I’m on WTXX, but our 10:00 PM news is on WCTX, channel 9 on most cable systems.

Judgemental for Christmas

My friend Josh Mamis, who publishes the New Haven Advocate, asked me to come to their offices and judge Christmas decorations. Is there a job I am less qualified for?

I said yes.

The Advocate is a weekly tabloid devoted to local arts and entertainment. It is often the best place for ‘bite the hand that feeds me’ expository journalism on local politics and business. I always enjoy reading their longer feature stories.

In the past, the Advocate had been very unkind to my station in a story that I felt was vindictive and a maybe little heavy handed (though they were always nice to me…. even in that article).

Though once locally owned, it recently become part of Times-Mirror which also owns the Hartford Courant and Channel 61.

Josh knows I have a soft spot in my heart for print in general and the Advocate specifically. Though TV has more impact and is much more immediate, the written word has an elegance and permanence that TV can’t touch. That’s probably why I enjoy writing this blog.

I drove into Downtown New Haven and parked under the Omni Hotel. Though cold, today was a beautiful day with high thin cirrus clouds adding some texture to an otherwise blue sky.

It is only in the past few years that New Haven has had a first class hotel downtown. I popped up to street level through the hotel’s lobby and walked around the block to the Advocate’s offices. They are located on the 11th floor of a building over what was the Chapel Square Mall. The building had fallen into disrepair, but looked very good today. Obviously, someone has spent the money to try and turn it around.

The mall is long gone – a failure through a few incarnations. I was surprised to hear it had been converted to upscale apartments. What was the actual mall is now an enclosed courtyard with an open air roof and apartment entrances. Upscale apartments going into Downtown New Haven (and now a 4-screen artsy movie theater down the block) is another very good sign for the city.

Josh’s office is near the receptionist and has a killer view of the Green and then north to East Rock&#185. Very impressive… especially so with today’s weather.

We schmoozed for a few minutes and then it was on to the judging. To my eye, Christmas lights around Connecticut seem to less visible this year. The Advocate’s office maintained that trend. There really wasn’t a lot of cubicle decorating, though I did pick a winner.

The winning cubicle featured a very scrawny little artificial tree but lots of other little homemade Christmasy type accoutrements. It was enough to show real holiday spirit. That won me over.

As I walked around the office, saying hi to people and chatting, I noticed someone working on a page from the paper featuring a photo of a group of people. They were from a store called “Group W Bench.”

I smiled… actually chuckled at that name. No one else did. The name “Group W Bench” only meant something to me. My age was showing again.

“The Group W Bench” was made famous in the late 60s by Arlo Guthrie in his song “Alice’s Restaurant.” For 18 minutes Arlo told and sang the story of his arrest for illegal dumping… in the town dump… on a legal holiday… and led to his day at the local draft board.

And I proceeded to tell him the story of the twenty seven eight-by-ten

color glossy pictures with the circles and arrows and the paragraph on

the back of each one, and he stopped me right there and said, “Kid, I want

you to go and sit down on that bench that says Group W …. NOW kid!!”

And I, I walked over to the, to the bench there, and there is, Group W’s

where they put you if you may not be moral enough to join the army after

committing your special crime, and there was all kinds of mean nasty ugly

looking people on the bench there.

Hey, it was the late 60s! Times were different and this story of a song became huge.

I left the Advocate a little disappointed – not because they didn’t know Arlo, but because there weren’t more decorations to be seen. But I also left feeling a little better (and this is a continuing, incremental process) about New Haven.

&#185 – At the end of the last ice age, as the ice retreated, huge chunks of rock that had been pushed forward by the glaciation remained in place. East Rock is one of these steep, sharp rock mountains. It overlooks New Haven Harbor and is a few miles from downtown.