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.

Best of New Haven

OK – it’s not the Oscar for Best Picture, but this is the ground on which I compete. I was thrilled to, again, win the “Best of” readers’ poll from the New Haven Advocate in the “Local TV Personality” category.

Best Local TV Personality

Geoff Fox

WTNH-TV, 8 Elm St., New Haven, (203) 784-8888

It’s raining, it’s pouring, Geoff Fox is winning the “Best Of” award for

Local TV Personality again. And why not? He’s been “local” for two

decades. He’s on TV, and he’s so damned personable. Whenever he walks

into a room, people want to chat with him, and not just about the

weather. Maybe about his incessant poker-playing, or his wife’s

obsession with soap-rocker Rick Springfield, or the computer he built

himself, or how he looks like he’s lost weight (He has–15 pounds, with

the goal of dropping 10 more).

Most of the time, Fox is the one starting the conversations, and he’s

out and about constantly–at charity events, school programs or holiday

gatherings. “I’ve probably spoken individually to every schoolchild in

Connecticut,” he grins. And they constantly come up to him to remind him

of those fleeting, yet important, encounters. Amid all this, he still

finds time to report the weather on Channel 8 weekdays at 5, 6, 10 and

11 p.m. , which makes his nice-guy-ness all the more amazing. (He

doesn’t go to bed until 3 or 4 a.m.)

This month marks Fox’s 20th anniversary with Channel 8. Before that he

worked in Buffalo, N.Y. a market where it’s pretty easy to predict the

weather, at least in the winter: SNOW. Geoff Fox is a guy who just keeps

shining and is never partly cloudy.

2nd: Dr. Mel (WTNH-TV)

8 Elm St., New Haven, (203) 784-8888

3rd: Ann Nyberg (WTNH-TV)

8 Elm St., New Haven, (203) 784-8888

Before anyone who was passed over, in any category, gets bent out of shape, let me point out that Quinnipiac University beat out Yale University for “Best Local 4-Year College.”

Blogger’s note: I am now down about 23.5 pounds and hoping to lose another 5 or 6 by July.

New Haven Advocate – Best Of

I am thrilled to have been voted “Best of New Haven” in the TV personality category. OK – it’s not like winning the Oscar (or the New England Emmy – ouch), but it’s the best I can do from here.

I enjoy going to the New Haven Advocate’s offices. They used to be in Long Wharf, but have moved to an office building atop the now closed Chapel Square Mall. They really do belong in Downtown New Haven (this is not a pejorative statement), considering they’re the pulse of local entertainment, dining and a bit of really good muckraking.

What makes going to the Advocate fun is hanging with people who write for a living. Writing good prose is not easy. Plus, there’s the jealousy factor. In a newspaper, the printed word is pretty close to permanent. TV is gone in an instant.

There’s another advantage to print, which you didn’t see, but I just used in the last sentence. I was able to revise my words and make decent writing a little better. Computers in general, and word processors specifically, have changed the skill of writers in much the same way the Hubble Space Telescope changed the astronomers!

I mentioned, to one of the reporters at the paper, how envious I was of writers . She said if I were writing, I’d miss television. There’s no doubt TV is the most powerful medium of expression ever unleashed on an unsuspecting public. It’s just not as elegant as the printed word.

The Advocate offices, on the 11th floor, have a commanding view of New Haven. It gave me the chance to get a good photo of a sad artifact of the city’s past. On a tower, atop the abandoned and derelict Macy’s Department Store building, is a broken TV aerial.

It’s from an era when there was a department store, with a TV department, in a pre-cable city. Macy’s has been gone since 1993. The fallen antenna lives on as sad testament to what was.

A Few Nice Gratuitous Mentions

This was a good week to see my name in print. Nothing earth shattering. I didn’t cure cancer… again.

First, in the New Haven Advocate, Colleen Van Tassell (certainly a member of the ‘all name’ team, and a favorite of mine) wrote:

The morning after weather fellow Geoff Fox issued a warning to stupid humans to bring pets in out of the cold, Miss B heard that the First Lady of New Haven got involved in rescuing a Westville pooch. A neighbor, fed up after making repeated complaints to the animal shelter, called Hizzonor’s house. Mrs. DeStefano told her husband, and the dog was rescued from its neglectful owner the next day.

It’s true. When it’s cold outside I try and remind people to bring outdoor pets in. My sense is, it’s more of a feel good thing than anything else. Most people keep domestic animals inside, and those who don’t probably can figure out when it’s cold enough to do otherwise.

Still, if one puppy is sleeping on the rug because of what I’ve said, it’s worth it.

My second mention was from Joe Miksch in the Fairfield Weekly (and probably to the other papers in that group, including the afore mentioned Advocate).

Viewers of New Haven’s WTNH know Geoff Fox as the avuncular, high-energy weatherman. But do we really know Geoff Fox?

We can if we punch www.geofffox.com into our Web browsers and peruse the 53-year-old’s Weblog.

We learn that Fox and family had one hell of a time in New York City over Thanksgiving, though Al Roker stiffed them on bleacher seat tickets to watch the Macy’s parade. We learn that Fox has a strong antipathy toward winter. And we find out that Ivy, Fox’s 12-year-old Westie, died of a heart ailment, going peacefully nuzzled against Fox in bed.

Fox has been blogging since July and his site has recorded more than 45,000 hits. A computer buff, Fox uses Movable Type software to craft his blog.

Fox said the blog gives him an excuse to do a couple of things he loves: write and take photographs. “But I don’t really have a clue why I started it. I can tell you that it’s a cathartic experience to write every day. It never ceases to amaze me that people read it. It’s not the most important stuff.”

Again, I’m thrilled to be mentioned. But, I’ve got two very small bones to pick.

Joe calls me “avuncular.” Let me look in the dictionary, because I believe that means ‘uncle like.’