The Ring of Truth

The Ring of TruthIn the lobby of our complex at One News Plaza, high above the Illinois River, a gigantic brass bell once hung from the wall to remind visitors to James S. Copley‘s principle to uphold great journalism by “ringing” a bell to inform and educate the public.

This credo was best represented in a yearly competition among the Copley papers, from the large San Diego Union-Tribune to the small Ohio dailies. Each submits a very select number of articles, photographs and designs to be judged, and the winners are awarded very nice monetary prizes. Even a mid-sized paper like the Journal Star doesn’t always win an award in each category every year. It’s a really great incentive, a rarity among newspaper chains.

One of mine actually won. A photograph of a couple in the twilight of their lives, dying together.

But now we’re no longer a Copley paper, and the suits back in San Diego have no interest in getting their bell back. The Journal Star has put it up for auction to any employee wishing to take it home.

Bidding is currently at $100, ending Friday. What better prize is there than a 300-pound brass bell?


The horrible smell of a burning house is unique.

A campfire has a singular smell, a pleasant aroma of burning timber. But a house, it has wood and much more. You could say that the foul smell of memories makes it different, but I’m sure that most experts would cite the combustion of plastics, paint and rubber that makes a house fire smell so terribly disturbing.

When waking at 3:30am to that smell, it’s hard to ignore. Someone’s house is burning, but is it yours? I walk around my house looking out of windows and see nothing. There’s a glow in the sky, but it seems to be that perpetual orange that cities throw into the night.

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

Four Alarm Fire Near Bradley University (WEEK-TV)

I feel a bit derelict in duty, you might say. You know, especially since it was just a few blocks from my house. We at the Journal Star missed the entire thing, thanks to the lack of a uber-early morning shift. The first photog arrives at 7:30am, with the last leaving at 10pm. WEEK-TV has a 4am shift, fitting perfectly with this. Bah.


After nearly a month of being negligent with my Netflix subscription, I’m back! May was a difficult month, but I’m ready to start blowing through a queue full of great flicks. Suggestions?

And in case you never noticed, at the bottom of this page are quite a few links that change almost daily. These are the things I spent my time reading. And so should you.

A short film on Boston

Flash version now available! // Instead of boring you with endless text on one of the best vacations I’ve ever taken, I present to you a cinema masterpiece. I poured everything I have into this project. Special thanks to Micah Mertes for the assist. And yes, everything was ad-libbed…

Boston, a 15-minute short film.

(MPEG4 95.3M, right-click to Save As…)

Comment and enjoy!

Boston, getting there

View of the Atlantic from the coast of Massachusetts

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

I’m in Chicago’s O’Hare, waiting for my connecting flight to Boston, when I receive a very strange phone call from Micah.

“Hi, can you tell me who’s phone this is?” said the voice on the other line.

Uhhhh, sure I can. Ass! And I then proceeded to make fun of him for his lame attempt at trickery.

The phone ended up being with airport security in Wichita.

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Flexing Chicago


Under Union Station, emerging with Amtrak and Metra passengers


With Amtrak’s recent service expansion in Illinois, I decided to try the previously unimaginable: a day trip to Chicago on $20.

My train was to depart from Bloomington/Normal at 7:30am Tuesday, dropping me off in the Loop at 10am. Thirty minutes late, I’m breathing the exhaust and taking in the squealing brakes that Chicago offers. First stop, Goodwin’s for lunch. It’s a subterranean sandwich place on Franklin St. in the northwest end of the Loop, unassuming and invisible to anyone but business regulars from the nearby financial district.

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En route

I’m jetting off to Boston for a few days, then to Wichita to see my brother graudate graduate high school. More later!

SAT. UPDATE The trip went extremely well… working on photos/text/video for you!


These words describe me at 3:56 a.m. Sunday morning.

infuriated / livid / zonked / limp / downcast / apathetic

Trying and failing to post video on the Journal Star’s website until 3:30 in the morning can be very, very detrimental to your well-being. I apologize to the Sunday readers looking for three videos that Matt shot and I edited this evening. We stayed much too long as it is.

I have only extremely foul words for the entire experience.

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward.”
-Kurt Vonnegut

Three reviews

Tortellini torture
I’m usually cautious of Peoria’s restaurants, wary of their bland dishes and perplexing hours. Today proved to be a bad day to throw caution to the wind. Come with me to La Gondola Spaghetti House. You shouldn’t, but you must if you are to empathize. A nondescript, family-owned Italian place in the Northpoint Shopping Center, La Gondola is a no-frills eatery that caters to take-out orders. Famished from my adventure in car repair, I stop inside and order their tortellini. Let me say that I am normally a fanatic Italian lover, growing giddy at their plentiful use of cheese as much as that man on the corner craves his 40-ounce malt liquor. I’m deep in reading when my food comes: a pile of reheated tortellini, piled on a styrofoam plate and topped with gloopy goulash sauce. Oh SHIT. I ate that $6 plate of institutional crap, sobbed a little in the backseat of my car afterwards and drove away.

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