New York City…Summer 2015

IMG_4536 If it’s Ava’s birthday then we MUST be up to something…right? This year, we all piled into a Delta regional jet and hightailed it up to New York City for a long weekend. And trust me when I tell you…it WAS long! There is just so much to do in NYC, there’s no way you can get all of it into 3.5 days but we sure did give it a try! Let’s start on Thursday…

THURSDAY

IMG_0152 We arrived around 1:00 to a rather soggy New York. It was raining cats & dogs and didn’t let up until 7pm! We made our way to the Marriott Marquis, a beautiful hotel right on Times Square, and got all of our stuff unloaded. We then went in search of some lunch, finding an Irish pub just off Broadway that was perfect. After we were finished, we scrambled back to the hotel, getting completely soaked as the rain came down in buckets! Fer got the worst of it as he didn’t have a raincoat. But Ava, Steph & I also were pretty wet by the time we got back. We got lucky that the rain stopped at 7:00 because the U2 show at Madison Square Garden began at 8 and there was no way I was gonna be late for that! U2 ripped through a 3 hour set of classics ranging from “Bullet The Blue Sky” (my favorite performance of the night) to “With Or Without You.” They also did a lot off their latest album, which neither my kids or my wife knew. This kind of made the middle of the show a little slow for them but I liked what they were doing. The set was pretty cool (not 360 Tour cool though) and the way they incorporated the video screen as part of their show is pretty unique! We also got to see them perform Lou Reed’s “Satellite Of Love” (the first time they’ve done that since 1993) and Paul Simon came out on stage to help Bono through his classic “Mother & Child Reunion.” IMG_4458   u2-paul-simon-msg-concert
FRIDAY

We met up with Stephanie’s friend Iris & her family for a tour of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum. Together we walked through the museum, in awe of the pictures, videos and remaining artifacts of what was surely one of the greatest tragedies on American soil. It’s an amazing place and I highly recommend it if you ever get the chance. IMG_4507 After spending 2.5 hours in the museum (and STILL not getting to see everything it has to offer), we headed to find food. We ended up heading toward Chinatown. The subway was packed and as we all went to get on the train, the doors closed before I could get on! Everyone got on the subway train except for me and so I found myself alone at the Financial District train stop, hoping to find my family again. It actually wasn’t THAT scary. They were just getting off at the next stop however Stephanie’s face when she saw me still on the platform when the doors closed was PRICELESS! LOL! IMG_4477 IMG_4478 IMG_4484 IMG_4488 Once we found one another again, we went for lunch and then we made our way across the Brooklyn Bridge. I’ve never crossed the bridge on foot and so this was something new. It was a beautiful day and, despite the fact that the Love’s had done this before, they marched with us, much to the dismay of their youngest daughter Molly. I’ll let you find her in this picture… IMG_4544 Needless to say, it took some ice cream at a Shake Shack in Brooklyn to wipe that frown off her face! LOL! That evening, we ate dinner at the primo street meat hotspot on 53rd and 6th, the Halal Guys. I tried to explain to my family why the chicken & rice was just SOOOOOO good but they had to try it for themselves. No one likes it as much as me though and for $7 in New York City? That’s a bargain meal! IMG_4587 IMG_4589 After dinner, Stephanie & Ava hit the Sephora store in Times Square and Ava bought herself some birthday makeup. Fer & I headed over to Foot Locker to get him some school shoes. Needless to say, both kids walked away happy this night! IMG_4546 IMG_4573
SATURDAY

The kids were exhausted from all the walking on Friday, so on Saturday we decided to take it easy. We woke up late (well…THEY woke up late. I was up at 7am as usual) and made it to our 2pm performance of “Wicked.” Even though Stephanie has seen it 4 previous times, I really feel like “Wicked” is THE show to see on the famous Broadway strip. It’s got everything! Great songs, a great script and the performances were excellent! We all loved it and we were singing “Defying Gravity” as we walked out of the great Gershwin Theatre. IMG_4614That evening, Ava wanted to check out Madame Tussauds Wax Museum so we went for a few photo moments. Not much else to do there BESIDES take pictures actually. It’s pretty amazing how lifelike some of the figures look. It’s also kind of creepy in a way…but we had a lot of fun despite the fact that only Ava really wanted to go to begin with and as we left we all decided it was worth checking out! IMG_4637 IMG_4650 IMG_4672 IMG_4724 IMG_4776
SUNDAY

For our final day in the Big Apple, we took the subway down to Battery Park to visit ye ol’ Lady Liberty. I’ve been to the island a couple times but it was fun taking the kids to see her. Someday I would like to get in the Pedestal just to say I’ve been there but we enjoyed just hanging out on Liberty Island and drinking lemonade on this beautiful August day. IMG_4822 IMG_4855 IMG_4888   IMG_4887   For the big finale to cap off our long weekend, we decided to go to Central Park for a little stroll and then head to Dylan’s Candy Bar to celebrate Ava’s 11th Birthday! In Central Park, the kids did a little rock climbing, we took some pictures and Ava had her portrait drawn by a skilled street artist! We then had a quick dinner of New York pizza and for dessert? Awesome ice cream sundaes at Dylan’s! We pretty much covered all the bases that we could in a few days in the big city. It was a LOT of fun and I imagine, at some point, we’ll find our way back there to do some less touristy stuff but for now…we made some great memories and had an amazing time!

IMG_4905 IMG_4911 IMG_4949 IMG_4946 IMG_4966 IMG_4968The Birthday Girl!!!

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The 115th U.S. Open (aka The Week We Got Roasted)

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Let me first say that going into it, I knew that the FOX edition of the U.S. Open was going to be different. The network bought the rights to all of the USGA events last year and this was their initial foray into the world of golf broadcasting. Pooling from a vast sea of freelance technicians and production, the 4 days of television was, in my opinion, visionary, interesting, compelling, exhausting and exasperating, all at the same time. We did things that had never been done before and made it work on some levels and watched it fail on others. FOX is a unique network in that they are willing to try new things and be different. They’re the youngest sibling of the Big 3 networks and so they aren’t afraid to make changes in how they present sports. Remember the glowing hockey puck? Yeah…that was a FOX idea. It’s the way they do things. And for this event, they brought out their toys in full force!

IMG_3995 IMG_4002 IMG_4045As a collective group, we all tried to make the 115th U.S. Open the best it could be. And considering the course it was on, Chambers Bay just outside Olympia, Washington, that was a tough task. After walking a bit of the course on Tuesday prior to the event, the course is definitely unique from other golf courses. The fairways and the greens mesh together. You couldn’t tell where the greens started or ended. The fairways were brown and hard. The greens were brown and hard. It was hard to find the ball through a viewfinder, causing our camera guys to miss shots that they would normally NEVER miss on a regular course. The greens were literally like a putt putt course, with rolling hills and mounds and curves. It was MADDENING! AND…it was FOX’s first time trying to put it together!?!? Insane, is all I can say about it.

And we heard ALL about it. Overall, most of the articles I’ve read about our work and the way FOX covered the event have been less than positive. There was THIS article and THIS article in the USAToday. Plenty of people bitched and moaned about the graphics or the camera work or the directing style on social media. They REALLY moaned about the announcers and the reporting and the commentary. There wasn’t much to like if you watched and listened to what the media or the social networks were dishing out. But the truth of the matter is…we worked our asses off.

IMG_4084OUR schedule was insane and we are the graphics department! We sit in a tv truck and type for a living! I can’t imagine what the camera ops and the audio techs must have suffered through! It was as intense as you can imagine a major event to be and it was a huge undertaking. Needless to say…there were things that went wrong. In my little corner of the world, we lost our scoring system twice early in the day on Thursday when there were 156 golfers in the field. Normally, if it was a Saturday or Sunday when things get a little slower, I could’ve kept up without a computer scoring system telling me that Tiger Woods just scored a +7 on a par 3. But with our coverage bouncing all over the field and with people running all over the place screaming “IS IT FIXED YET?”, it was a little difficult to concentrate. If you’re wondering what my job was, here it is. See that little graphic in the lower right corner?

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Yeah…that was me. And I was on your screen ALL…THE…TIME. My main man Tyler and I worked to try to keep things up to date but alas…that just isn’t possible when the leaderboard is changing constantly and our coverage is bouncing from one guy to the next as they are putting out and we have no idea if they just scored a par or a birdie or a bogey or whatever. It was a tough gig and I learned a lot. And so did Tyler. Together we figured it out and, despite making a few mistakes over the following days, I think we got it worked out. Now that I’m here in Sacramento for the U.S. Senior Open, it seem like last week is a million days away! Of course, you don’t hear anyone talking about us now but…whatever. You get my drift.

Anyway, following the event, I can now say I was a part of something that was trying to be different. We tried to bring the viewers something that wasn’t the same as what CBS or NBC does. I had nothing to do with the Ball Tracker or any of the other technology that went into last week however I thought most of it was pretty cool considering how stodgy golf can be sometimes. And the ending of this particular event will NEVER be forgotten! Dustin Johnson’s monumental missed putts on the 18th green giving the win to Jordan Spieth will go down in golf history! It was INSANE! One of the craziest endings to any golf event I have ever worked and I will always remember it.

So for those of you who were so critical of the coverage, I get it. It wasn’t the best it could’ve been. Maybe CBS or NBC or ABC could’ve done it the way you are used to. Maybe the announcers weren’t as good as you are used to. Maybe the graphics were more intrusive than you are used to. But I thought, watching every single shot of every golfer who made our air, that it was different to say the least. And in the end, for a major golf tournament that needed a breath of fresh air and a little kick in the butt, FOX definitely gave it that!

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Ava Goes To Camp

IMG_3970This summer, Ava has foregone swimming and Christopher decided not to join a baseball or basketball team and so…our children have found themselves with plenty of extra time on their hands! Or…have they? Actually…that statement couldn’t be farther from the truth! Both kids are keeping VERY busy with everything from volunteer work to sports camps. And for a week in June, our dear darling little young lady went to summer camp with her bestie, Bug.

For an entire week, Ava and Kate called Camp Ernst their home and they both came home with grand stories of fun and adventure! Despite the fact that she was literally worn out once she returned, Ava had a blast at camp, riding horses, hanging with new friends and just being a kid. I’m really glad she had fun at camp however it might be a while until her mother is able to let her go for another ENTIRE week. It was odd for her to be gone and quite honestly…that “No cell phone” policy is CRAZY in this day & age!!! But I get it. And I think Ava appreciated it also…

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Facebook Conversations

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Every now & then I get into a discussion with my kids and feel the urge to share it with my Facebook friends. A friend recommended that I write them down and put them in a book. While this SOUNDS like a good idea, I don’t know that most of our conversations are worth writing about. But the few we HAVE had that I’ve shared are quite memorable! So I went back through some of them and figured I would share them here and maybe someday, my kids will read this and say to themselves, “Did I say THAT?” LOL

5/30/2015
While listening to Bryan Adams’ “Heaven” on the radio…
Me: “This song reminds me of my first kiss.”
Ava: “Really? Who was it?”
Me: “A girl I met while on vacation in Florida.”
Ava: “What was her name?”
Me: “Skye.”
Ava: “Does mom know that this song reminds you of another woman?”
Me: “Not that I’m aware. I was pretty young when it happened and I doubt she’d care. Besides…I have lots of songs that remind me of your mom.”
Ava: “Like what?”
Me: “Well….actually most of them are from when we first started dating…”
Ava: “Like ‘Uptown Funk?'”
Me: “Um….no. Not ‘Uptown Funk.’ But if your mom asks, you can TOTALLY tell her that ‘Uptown Funk’ reminds me of her.”

5/29/2015
Me: “Ava…how many names have we given Christopher through the years?”
Ava: “Let’s see…Christopher, Chris, Fer, Ferby…”
Me: “Doodle, Dude, Gung-gung (Ava’s baby name for him)…”
Ava: (straight-faced) “Luis.”
😐
Hysterical laughter ensues.

5/7/2015
Ava: “I woke up at 6:30 this morning.”
Me: “Why?”
Ava: “There was a bright light shining in my eyes.”
Me: “Did your brother turn on the hallway light?”
Ava: “No.”
Me: “Did your mom turn on your bedroom light?”
Ava: “No Dad. The SUN was shining in my window…at 6:30 IN THE MORNING!?!?”
Me: (laughing) “Well…it IS almost summer, I suppose.”
Ava: “Well…summer is ruining my sleep time…”

1/26/2015
Tonight at dinner, my daughter thought she was being sly…
Me: “Ava…eat your dinner.”
Ava: “You gave me too much pasta.”
Me: “Ok then…eat the green beans and drink your milk and then you can be done.”
Ava: “What green beans?”
Me: “The ones that are buried UNDER your pasta.”
Ava: (blank stare at me) “But….how did you know?”
–CUE LAUGHTER

5/19/2014
While riding in the car, Ava begins turning around quickly over & over again.
Me: “What in the world are you doing?”
Ava: “It says objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. I was just checking.”
Me:😳

4/19/2014
On the way home tonight, Jason Derulo’s new song “Talk Dirty To Me” comes on the radio. I quickly try to change the channel but Ava stops me…
Ava: “But dad! I like that song!”
Me: “It’s AWFUL!”
Ava: “No it’s not! And I like the video.”
Me (not wanting to know but having to ask): “What is the video about?”
Ava: “It’s about the world and other nationalities and stuff. It’s cool!”
Me: “Really? That’s it?”
Ava: “And twerking.”
Me: “Great.”

12/19/2013
Lady Gaga’s “Do What You Want” comes on the radio…
Me: “I don’t like this song.” (As I reach to change the channel)
Ava: “Nooooo! I like it!”
Me: “Sorry…I hate it.”
Ava: (singing to song) “Do whatcha want with my body…”
Me: “Nope. Done.”
Click. Off.

11/26/2013
When Stephanie went to wake Ava up this morning…
Mom: “Ava…time to get up. Look outside!”
Ava: “Why?”
Mom: “It snowed!”
Ava: “Yeah (looks out the window)…I’m not going out in THAT.” (Rolls over)

11/19/2013
Me: “You got any homework tonight bud?”
Christopher: “No. I got most of it done at school.”
Me: “Cool.”
Christopher: “But I need you to check my English, Math, Science and Social Studies homework.”
Me: “How much do I get paid to do that?”
Christopher: “Nevermind. Mom will do it for free.”

11/13/2013
Steph: “Can you kids leave us alone for a minute? Your dad & I need to talk.”
Me: “NO! Don’t leave! She wants to kill me!”
Christopher (seeing the look his mom is giving him): “Ok…love you guys. Nice knowing you Dad…”

9/8/2013
While practicing her volleyball serve in the front yard…
Me: “Ava…I bet you a dollar you can’t hit the ball to me.”
Ava: “A dollar? Ok!”
She sets up, hits the ball and nails it far right, hitting our neighbors tree and ricochetting it directly to me.
Ava: “You owe me a dollar.”

THE END

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Ribbons Galore

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For the first time, after a couple years of horseback training, my daughter signed up to participate in a riding competition. It’s been a while coming and she’s not overly competitive so I was pleasantly surprised when she decided she wanted to do it. So…this past weekend, she hopped up on Cody and was signed up for 4 events with her stable, Lookout Hills. In the first event at the Bourbon County Fairgrounds in Paris, KY, she was surprised when she came in 3rd place in Open Trail Obstacle! Her first official event and she got a ribbon! She was VERY excited!!!

IMG_3809Up next was the 11 & Under Equitation competition. She was one of 3 riders and the other girls had more competition experience than she had but this didn’t deter Ava! She took the first place ribbon and a cash prize!

IMG_3808 Then she came in first for the Youth All Day Pleasure-Novice Rider and third for her final competition, 11 & Under On Flat Shod Walking! All in all, 4 ribbons for 4 events! Plus $45 and 2 $10 gift certificates at a local horse riding store!

Needless to say, we are all ecstatic and so proud of Ava! She has worked very hard at riding and training and her love of horses has been obvious since her first camp a few summers ago. As nervous as she was (and she was VERY nervous for several days leading up to the morning of the event), she came through with flying colors and did better than she could have dreamed! After her long day, she and her mom hopped back in the car, exhausted after so much activity.

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We’d like to thank her trainer, Donna, for being so supportive and thank her friend and favorite horse, Cody, for being so awesome during her first riding competition! What a great day for both of them!

 

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The Teenage Years Are Upon Us

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Well…it had to happen eventually. Today, my first born turns 13. THIRTEEN. This obviously means that we will now have an entirely new slate of things to worry about. Funny…when you have a baby, everyone remarks at how fast time flies. It is 100% true. One minute they’re crawling around on the floor, the next he’s…well…a TEENAGER?!?! The Doodle has grown up to be a well-rounded young man and I can’t wait to see what the next few years brings him. Heading into his teenage years, he has grown into his own and is everything I could hope for in a son. He makes me proud and despite the fact that I am constantly on him for being…well…a teenage boy (which means occasionally lazy, somewhat slobbish, absent-minded, etc), he really is growing up to be a great young man.

Happy Birthday Fer! We love you and may this birthday be one to remember!!!

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The Best of 2014 (In My Opinion)

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It’s the end of 2014…time for all of the “Best Of” and “Worst Of” lists. In year’s past, I have included my favorites on my other 2 media related sites but this year I’ve decided to consolidate. It seems counter-productive to try and have 3 different blog sites when I so rarely write anymore. As much as I love music & movies, I don’t see the point in writing about everything I see or hear simply because…well…no one really cares that much anyway. EVERYONE has a voice anymore so why add to the noise? So I’m going to just wrap up this year with a capsule of all of MY favorite songs, albums and movies and take from it what you will. Hopefully this past year has found you and your loved ones healthy, happy and content. Here’s to 2014…an unspectacular year for movies and music yet there definitely were some bright spots…

TOP 20 FAVORITE SONGS OF 2014

Top 20 Songs Of 2014

I know…I’d LOVE to write about what I enjoy about each and every one of these tracks, from the simplicity of The Kooks’ “Melody Maker” to the horror-film intensity of In This Moment’s “Big Bad Wolf” but truth be told, you like what you like. In MY case, I like a good mixture of a lot of music and these tracks were the ones that found their way into my ears, on my car stereo or in my iTunes mixes of this past year. Overall, I enjoyed this year’s crop of music. I found it to be a little TOO pop heavy at times, mostly due to the fact that it’s the genre my kids enjoy the most so I often find myself listening to it in the car, but overall, there were some stellar releases! Here are my Top 5 Favorite Albums of this past year…

5. Beck – “Morning Phase”

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4. The Black Keys – “Turn Blue”

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Spoon – “They Want My Soul” 

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Sturgill Simpson – “Metamodern Sounds In Country Music”

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In This Moment – “Black Widow”

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A couple more to consider: Lana Del Rey’s “Ultraviolence”, Run The Jewels’ “Run The Jewels 2”, Bleachers “Strange Desire”, The Misper’s EP “Dark Bits”, ScHoolboy Q’s “Oxymoron” and TV On The Radio’s “Seeds.” I would also include U2’s latest, “Songs Of Innocence” but if you own any i-Product, you got it for free so…you can judge it for yourself.

On to the movies! This year has been particularly slow when it comes to truly GREAT films. So far, I don’t know that I can say there is any one flick that I HAVE to see over & over again (unlike last year when I saw “Gravity” 3 times in the theater and several more on my iPad). But there were a few bright spots. Here are the 10 I would recommend you see when given the time. I’m including whether it should be seen in the theater or at home. With movies costing so much these days, sometimes it’s worth simply waiting for the rental.

Top 5 Movies You Should See In A Theatre

5. How To Train Your Dragon 2 (in 3D)

4. Captain America: The Winter Soldier

3. Edge Of Tomorrow

2. Guardians Of The Galaxy

1. Interstellar

Top 5 Movies You Should Definitely See…But As A Rental

5. Under The Skin

4. Begin Again

3. Blue Ruin

2. Boyhood

1. Whiplash

Top 5 Worst Movies Of 2014 (That I Managed To Sit Through)

5. A Million Ways To Die In The West

4. Transformers: Age Of Extinction

3. Annie

2. Godzilla

1. Spider-Man 2

Top 5 Movies I Have Yet To See From 2014 That MIGHT Be Great…

5. Fury

4. Birdman

3. Unspoken

2. Force Majeure

1. Inherent Vice

My FAVORITE movie of 2014 (so far)?

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So there you have it. As of December 27th, 11:17 PM, these are my favorites (or least favorites, in some cases). Here’s to the year that was and I hope that 2015 brings even better entertainment!

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