Thursday, December 18, 2008

Oh Canada

Once in a while someone does a nice job of describing a Canadian, this time it was an Australian dentist.

An Australian Definition of a Canadian. In case anyone asks you who a Canadian is . . .
** **Proud to be Canadian -An Australian Definition of a Canadian -Written by an Australian Dentist
You probably missed it in the local news, but there was a report that someone in Pakistan had advertised in a newspaper an offer of a reward to anyone who killed a Canadian - any Canadian. An Australian dentist wrote the following editorial to help define what a Canadian is, so they would know one when they found one.A Canadian can be English, or French, or Italian, Irish, German, Spanish, Polish, Russian or Greek. A Canadian can be Mexican, African, Indian, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Australian, Iranian, Asian, Arab, Pakistani or Afghan.A Canadian may also be a Cree, M├ętis, Mohawk, Blackfoot, Sioux, or one of the many other tribes known as native Canadians. A Canadian's religious beliefs range from Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu or none. In fact, there are more Muslims in Canada than in Afghanistan. The key difference is that in Canada they are free to worship as each of them chooses. Whether they have a religion or no religion, each Canadian ultimately answers only to God, not to the government, or to armed thugs claiming to speak for the government and for God.A Canadian lives in one of the most prosperous lands in the history of the world. The root of that prosperity can be found in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which recognize the right of each person to the pursuit of happiness.A Canadian is generous and Canadians have helped out just about every other nation in the world in their time of need, never asking a thing in return. Canadians welcome the best of everything, the best products, the best books, the best music, the best food, the best services and the best minds. But they also welcome the least - the oppressed, the outcast and the rejected.These are the people who built Canada. You can try to kill a Canadian if you must as other blood-thirsty tyrants in the world have tried but in doing so you could just be killing a relative or a neighbour. This is because Canadians are not a particular people from a particular place. They are the embodiment of the human spirit of freedom. Everyone who holds to that spirit, everywhere, can be a Canadian.
It says it all, for all of us.
'Keep your stick on the ice'

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Covered Bridges and Cable Ferries

It has been a few weeks since getting back from my trip to the home and native land. These weeks have given me a chance to reflect on being a tourist in one's own home town.

Often returning back to one's place of birth can be an exhausting experience. Family obligations, making time with old friends and just getting caught up can drain you. This did happen some years ago on my first visit back. I was so spent, that getting back to work was welcomed, just so I could get some rest.

This time was different. Through hook or by crook, I found a balance. That balance involved spending sometime by myself experiencing the beauty of my home province.

It wasn't unusual for me to get up at first light, and jump into my rented wheels and head off to who knows where to bang off a few frames on my trusty Nikon. Before I knew it I had fired some 1500 frames on this trip and I wanted to share some of them with you, my loyal reader.
So please bare with me as I give to you the dreaded vacation photo album. After this I promise to get back to writing about all things news gathering.

Early morning Ferry Line up at Gondola Point. There are several cable ferries up and down the Saint John and Kennibecasis Rivers in New Brunswick. They are all free and they are a great way to see the province. This particular one takes vehicles from Gondola Point to the Kingston Peninsula.

On this particular morning, my sister and I took a ferry over to Kingston so I could capture some of the fall colors. The trip also provided us with some quality brother sister time.

Fall colors and the Anglican Church at Kingston in the background. The weather for my trip was magnificent as we pressed on toward Hampton and the Yankee Shore.

Driving along the back roads of Hampton NB. Just ahead is a view of one of my favorite places on this earth, the Kennebicasis Marsh.

The Marsh where I learned to duck hunt with my Grandfather, Father and Uncle. I spent a good deal of time on that day just drinking it all in and remembering how breath taking the sun rises were on those October "Opening Day" of the hunting seasons, from our blinds on a grassy island in the center of that marsh. I had been tagging along with my Dad since I was 8. My first trip up to the marsh; when I was 4. I remember cutting my finger on the long marsh grass and as a child I called the place "The Sharp Grass".

But no trip back would have been complete without some time on the coast. The Bay of Fundy rarely disappoints and on this trip her salty air and slight breeze enabled me to enjoy her many coves and harbours.

Fundy's mighty tide is on it's way out, leaving St. Martin's harbour empty. You can see a covered bridge crossing the channel. Local fishermen were getting ready for the up coming lobster season.

With the tide going out boat are left grounded. Its a good time for hull inspection.

Driving through one of the many covered bridges I encountered during my travels. at one time New Brunswick boasted the most covered bridges in the world. Many of them are gone, but the ones remaining all date back to the early part of the last century. This one is located at St. Martins New Brunswick, as I head back to Saint John to check out the City Market.

Inside the Saint John City Market. It's one of the oldest markets in Canada.

A friendly fish monger at Lord's Lobsters inside the Saint John City Market, shows the camera the catch of the day.

Yes it was a great trip. One that allowed me to appreciate the place that I have come from, to appreciate the culture and heritage of being a Maritimer.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Beat Down

GOLF. A four letter word to some. Aggravating pastime for others. Still a game that a 70 year old Dad can play with his middle aged sons.
My brother and I first picked up the clubs in our late teens. We have been battling each other ever since. Good fun really. But family bragging rights are just that, rights.

My father watched his sons battle years ago before deciding to try his hand at this irritating pastime. When he first joined brother Dan and I on the course over 25 years ago, we didn't pay much attention to him or his score. You see the Titus brothers were there to settle their own war on the fairways of new Brunswick. This was an annual event that was always the highlight of Dan's visit from New Jersey.
Dad about to drain this shot for a par

Then one winter, dear ol' Dad secretly took golf lessons at the local club. When asked what aspect of the game he wanted to work on, his answer was quite direct to his instructor.
"I just want to beat my sons!"

Father Murman with a classic "I'm winning" smile.

Later the following summer, with the brothers again set to do mortal combat with drivers and putters, maybe a wedge or two, Father teed off the opening shot of the annual Titus Golf Classic. It was a straight shot, not particularly long, but it was the beginning of something that the bro's didn't even notice.

Dan reacts to a fairway wood second shot

This went on for the entire 18 holes. Pressure between Brother Dan and Brother Mur was intense. The trash talk never wained. It was a see/saw battle of Augustan proportions (well in our minds anyway).

It's in the hole! (for a 6)

Meanwhile, Father Titus, just kept his ball in play watching his sons beat the hell out of each other.

Brother Dan attempts a long par putt, but wilts under the pressure

As is the usual case the score between brothers was updated every couple of holes and added up as we were about to tee off on 18. Senior Titus score wasn't even thought of as the boy thought the old man was not a factor.

@#$%! Golf is a four letter word alright!

Then as the final putt makes that heavenly sound of golf ball in cup, we add all the scores. It looks like it will be a close one. There are checks and re checks. Then Dad takes the score card, both brothers trust their father to be the final arbiter of the match.
He adds Dan's score, then Murray's and announces himself as the winner, by not one, but by 9 strokes.

The brothers look bewildered. It seems they were too focused on each others game, dismissing dear old Dad as an also ran.

He's been kicking our asses on the course ever since.

He tells me it was the best 150 dollars (for the lessons) he has ever spent.
And on the occasion of his 70th birthday, we rekindled that old classic and wouldn't you know, the Old Man's still got game.

He crushed us both.

Danni, Dad and Me after we had been crushed after 18 holes at Hampton

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Surprise! You're 70.

Do you remember when you were back in grade school and the first assignment of the new school year was a composition about your summer vacation?

Well I just got back from mine, and I know it's not summer, but is was my vacation. One I needed for a very long time.

I chose to return to my hometown, a place I have not been for nearly a decade. I have family still there, as well as many friends. But what made the choice an obvious one was that my father, whom I have not seen for over 9 years, was turning 70, and the occasion of his birthday would present a great opportunity for me to surprise him.

My brother, who lives and works in New Jersey, and my sister, still living just outside my hometown would help spring the surprise.

As the date of my arrival approached, there was concern that my father would catch wind of my coming. A phone call to him just a day before I boarded an east bound plane, confirmed to me that he was completely unaware of my plans.

I would be spending some time in Toronto, before travelling on the last leg of the journey back to New Brunswick. The time there provided me with some much needed rest and relaxation before heading into the "family circus" that all home comings seem to evolve into.

Flying into Saint John on that autumn Wednesday evening, clear skies, and spectacular fall colors greeted me as we made our approach into the small town airport. I recognized many of the land marks. The lakes, the hill tops, the skyline all familiar, all inviting. My sister met me as I got off the plane, with a welcoming hug that still lingers to this day.
"You are going to have to hide for two days until Dad's surprise party." she said to me.
"Hide in this town? This town is too small, someone is bound to recognize me." I replied.
And with that we were off to drop off my bags at her place.

My nephew joined us at the house and we decided to go get a bite to eat. Vito's Pizza Restaurant, a local favorite and makers of the best Cesar salad anywhere, was where we headed.

I was not in the place for two minutes, when a familiar face said hello. A former hockey coach and friend of our family, Dr. Lou Simon. After the hello's and handshakes, I look to my sister and say: "see I can't hide here, we need to come up with a plan to surprise Dad before his big day."

Oh yes, by the way the Pizza and Cesar were fantastic!

The revised plan now would happen on the following evening. Brother Dan, who my father knew was coming for a visit, would meet Dad for dinner. My sister Carrie would join them a short time later. Dan and Carrie would make sure Dad's back was to the door and that's when I would walk in and sit down beside him.

Geeze, I hope that his heart is in good shape, surprising a 70 year old might not be the smartest thing for the preservation of life.
The plan was set. Dad was in place. I made my entry into the restaurant. I tapped him on the shoulder, and said "Happy Birthday Dad."

The Surprise as seen through the lens of my sister Carrie's Camera

Happy Birthday Dad! Surprise!

The shock didn't kill him, thank God, but the look I shall always remember. He wiped a tear as did I. It was the first time in 12 years that he had all of his children together. It was a moment I shall treasure forever.

Dad and Me

The next couple of days would include rounds of Golf, the "Official" surprise party, this time with all of Dad's brothers and sister, neighbours and friends and a Thanksgiving dinner at my father's. Plenty of rare quality time, without the separation of geography.

Murman, Dad, Carrie and Dan all together for the first time in 12 years

Friday, October 03, 2008


There is nothing like covering a large fire from the air. They are visual, they can be compelling and down right intoxicating. I have had two such fires in recent weeks.

The first was of an old soon to be renovated mental hospital in New Westminster, BC. The day was calm and clear and the fire provided a welcome break in the summertime "blahs" that had set in. I seem to remember getting the call from my desk just after lunch. A 2 alarm fire being upgraded to a 3 as we launched into the air. A cross street address was not needed as the smoke plume was visible from our hanger.
A shot out my window of CTV Chopper 9 over the Old Hospital as it burns
Off we went, heading straight to the plume. Flames were jumping skyward hundreds of feet. It was a big one. The complex was a large one and as fire fighters tried to battle the blaze, the flames continued to find new fuel and eventually spread to it's outer wings. Before long, the entire complex was a blaze.

Another look of the Fire scene in New Westminster earlier this summer

It was a spectacular sight. The heat was immense. Even at 1700ft we found ourselves dodging the odd piece of flaming debris. I managed to bang off a few shots on my Nikon between hits.

When it was over the blaze took most of the old complex.

This week yielded another BIG FIRE. This one in Surrey. A condo development as it was nearing completion. Again, the call from the desk. Again a plume that could be seen for miles.

The tell tail plume of smoke as we leave YVR. Frame grab CTV CHOPPER 9

No need for further directions. When we arrived it was fully involved. Aircraft buzzed around. To get the whole story on this one follow this link BIG FIRE

Frame grab from my FLIR Camera as we appoach the scene

Fire crews pour water over the inferno. Frame grab CTV Chopper 9

Close up shot of the heavy lift crane operator's cab as it bursts into flame. There were no injuries.

Wide shot of the complex as Phase II of the project burns to the ground.

The Day I met Steve Fossit

It was a cold blustery day back in February 1996. I was working for a News Bureau back in Saint John NB. As I recall I got up and cursed the weather and headed into work for what promised to be another day of cold weather stories and wishing I was someplace warm and sunny.

The news room was abuzz when I arrived. Assignments were being divided up and I was dealt an "out of towner" , one that would have me meet up with our Fredericton Bureau reporter Laverne Stuart at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown for an item on the field exercises as the men prepared for a deployment to war torn Bosnia.

Christ, it was going to be cold out there, remembering the last time on the base with Laverne years back. At that time the temps were near minus 40 with the wind chill. Our cameras barely functioned and our bodies were chilled beyond belief.

As I drove up good old NB highway #7 I received a page to call the office. It seems the assignment desk back in Halifax wanted me to "keep on the lookout, for a hot air balloon that was in trouble."

They further explained to me that the balloon in question belonged to Millionaire Adventurer Steve Fossit. He was attempting a solo circumnavigation to become the first human to do so in a hot air balloon.

I thought "what the hell are the chances of seeing this craft fly by, moreover, what are the odds of this record attempting flight, traversing the airspace of Southern New Brunswick?"

"Fat fucking chance" I resolved and continued with my original assignment.

Once in the training area of CFB Gagetown, I was in communicado, that is pagers and cell phones were useless. I didn't give the "balloon thing" another thought.

When Laverne returned to our Fredericton office to edit our story, that is when we found out that the high flying Mr. Fossit had crash landed his balloon on the edge of a farmer's snow covered field just outside of Hampton, New Brunswick.

It was quite a scene.

I thought "shit, the biggest story of the year, the world media all interested and calling our operation requesting feeds and interviews, nobody died and I am up here in Fredericton missing it all." Damn I was disappointed, nothing like this ever happens in sleepy hollow NB. Not only that, as it turns out Mr. Fossit's crash landing, now leading all of the casts, ABC, CNN, CBS, NBC ect,,, happened just 7 kilometers from my freakin' house!

Our visual story of soldiers in the field, during live fire maneuvers ended up buried in our show in section 3 or something. My dejected drive home was indeed a long one. When I arrived back at the Saint John office, I found it buzzing with activity.

Mike, one of my camera colleagues looks at me and says "Mur you missed a big one."

No shit.

He was just beginning to strike his final hit with Mr. Fossit after a successful feed to Ted Kopple's Night Line.

The next day I got to do a follow up piece as Steve and his documentary crew revisited the crash site. It again was cold and blustery on that day. As we interviewed Mr. Fossit, he shivered from the bitter cold.

"I'm sorry, but I have forgotten my hat and my ears are freezing off" he says as we were about to begin.

"Here sir, I have a spare toque in the van" I say to him.

"Thank you, that's very kind" he answers.

I never got the hat back, for all I know he may have worn it on one of his other adventures, it doesn't matter.

But that was the day I met and interviewed Steve Fossit, Millionaire Adventurer, and Aviator.

Steve Fossit

After that day, and as the years went by, I had always followed Mr. Fossit's exploits. I was saddened to learn that he had gone missing a year ago while flying. And to learn that earlier this week the wreckage and now his remains have been found.

Rest in Peace Mr. Fossit.

Monday, September 29, 2008


What is this? A new "post"?
Where the hell have you been WWM?

After a long summer's hibernation, because of forces outside the blog-o-sphere, losses both personally and professionally, it is time to raise my head out of my fox hole and survey the damage.

From a professional point of view, this summer has been not unlike any other. There have been road trips and special events that warrant our coverage. Some of them fun, some are a grind, but they all provide lessons learned and experiences to be drawn from in the future.
Flight time this summer has been plentiful. Again we found ourselves at the local International Airshow and again during the summer's end fair we gave away helicopter rides for those lucky individuals who would enter our station contests.

The summer came and went. And with little fanfare. It has left good old Murman a bit low on the energy levels.

I am now preparing for a long awaited vacation. One that is going to take me back to my hometown across the Continent. It will be good to go back. Seeing old friends and family. Something that I have put off for far too long. And it all begins when I board the plane on Friday.

Let the recharging of the batteries begin!!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Fare Thee Well

I have been very lucky to have been blessed with working in a business that I love. Doubly blessed because of the people I get to work with on a daily basis. For the past 10 years I have had the honour of working with one of the most gifted, intelligent, classiest and kind person I have ever met. Her name, Janet Dirks.

Our first shoot many years ago was when she was part of our Arts and Entertainment unit. We were to interview the conductor of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. She knew the fellow from her days at CBC radio back in her native Winnipeg. Just by the way she conducted the interview, I knew she was something special.
After being reassigned to general assignment at the newsroom, we began to shoot more often together. It was in the field over those early years that our friendship, our bond, was forged. Janet always treated everybody, whether they were prince or pulpier with courtesy and respect. That always held us in good stead and enabled us to connect with all strata of society.
Janet and Murman during the first days of the Robert Pickton Murder Trial

Her mastery of the English language is the stuff of legend in our newsroom. Her knowledge of Law came natural as she had in a previous life been admitted to the BAR. It was no wonder that this University drop out turned camera hump, felt a little intimidated by her. Yet her smile, could put the most anxious person at ease.

Steve Murray, Janet Dirks and Murman the night the Pickton Trial went to the Jury

The two of us always enjoyed working together. Some of our most memorable stuff would involve persons at their most vulnerable. Her sincerity and empathy was not lost with our subjects. To be with her and to witness this was truly a privilege. Her way with people made me proud to be a journalist.

Everyday, when I would get in to the office, my first order of business was to check in with the desk and find out what Janet was working on. You see it didn't matter whether it was a good visual story or not, I would take a "Janet" assignment regardless over anything else. We always had good soulful conversations when we worked together. If one of us had been away or because of scheduling we had not worked together for a long time, I would suffer from "Janet withdrawal". The closeness that we shared, well I have trouble finding the words, but I trust this lady with my very life.

Three weeks ago, Janet got some great news. She had been named the new CTV National Calgary Bureau Chief. Janet would be leaving CTV British Columbia.

As her friend I was happy for her. I have always said to her, "I want what is best for my friend Janet". A Journalist of her calibre will be Calgary and the Nationals gain. But deep down, I am heart broken that I won't be working with her with the frequency that I am used to.

The other night as is tradition with us here at CTV BC we had a Send Off party for her and 3 others that are moving on. I have never seen one of these Send Off's more widely attended than this one. During the evening she said to me "I am not saying good bye to you Murray, I am not going to say it!"

At the Send Off party the other night

I am not going to say it either Janet. This business is a funny one and I hope that fate will find us sometime soon working together once more. I'll light you with the care you have come to expect from "Murray the camera guy" and until then I will just say:

Fare Thee Well, Janet

Fare Thee Well.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

My Ears are Still Ringing

The last few weeks have been difficult ones in the world of World Wide Murman. But that said, nothing can take away from the experience of this past Tuesday evening with my son.

This particular evening had been anticipated for some time. The excitement grew from the time the tickets were purchased. You see, my boy's favorite band was coming to Vancouver. I have always been proud of my son's musical taste. Long ago he didn't succumb to the sounds of Hip Hop Hell or whatever the flavor of the year happened to be, but he discovered my collection of Led Zeppelin and AC/DC. From there he discovered Iron Maiden and they became his genre of choice.

Never has a father been so proud.

Fast forward to last Tuesday. Anytime with my son is valued time. Going to a rock concert with him is always special. As we walked to the Pacific Coliseum fans and concert goers of every age and description made their way to the doors. I could see the look on Ben's face. He was really looking forward to finally seeing Bruce and the rest of Maiden perform. An excited Metal Head saw the two of us walking toward the door.

He smiles and says to me in a rock concert sort of voice- "Dude you're taking your boy to Maiden!,,,,,,, You Rock Dad"
I was suddenly filled with pride, thinking for a brief moment that I was indeed a "cool Dad" and one that could share the power rock of Maiden with his 15 year old.
Then god love him, Ben says to me in his sarcastic funny voice of his "It's more like I am taking you to Maiden don't you think Dad?!"

Well I was cool for a second anyway.
Inside the venue our seats were stage right, two rows from the floor and very close to the stage. Very good seats indeed. After an opening act and some snacks and drinks, the main event was about to begin. Ben looks at me and says he's got to go to the washroom. Off he darts up the stairs, when suddenly the house lights go down indicating the show is about to start. He's back in a flash. He doesn't want to miss a moment and decides he'll wait for the next two hours

Iron Maiden opens with "Ace's High", power chords fill the building. The spectacle has begun.

(Photo: courtesy of Richelle Akimow)

Maiden's animated and energetic singer/pilot Bruce Dickinson waves the Union Jack during his performance of "The Trooper" (Photo: courtesy of Richelle Akimow)

When the stage lights come up and the familiar chords of "Aces High" fill the building and with a flash of light Maiden takes the stage. I caught a glimpse of his face. The smile and his euphoric eyes said it all. It was a moment I shall never forget.

Mummified Eddie makes his appearance during 'Power Slave" (Photo:courtesy Richelle Akimow)

Maiden cranks out "Power Slave" to the masses. What a show! (Photo: courtesy of Richelle Akimow)

It was indeed a great performance. The set was incredible. The crowd was wild. The sound, well my ears are still ringing. It was among the top 3 concert experiences of my life and I was grateful to have shared such an experience with my son.
For more of Richelle's photos check out her Flickr page.

Monday, March 31, 2008

The Great Bread Caper

Here it is April 1st once more. The day for humour and laughter. In honour of the humour and laughter I submit to you my faithful reader a true story of an April Fool.

It all began many years ago in a small news room in Saint John, New Brunswick. We were sitting around the office shooting the shit when the topic of bread came up. I cannot remember exactly what the context was, but bread was a subject I knew very well. I considered myself an expert being from a family that had been in the bakery business for some 60 years.

My Grandfather founded a Bakery in the late 1920's and the name Titus was synonymous with fine fresh bread in Southern New Brunswick. At one time there were several Titus Bakeries owned and operated by relatives of my Grandfather. ( Uncles, and Cousins). By the time my Granddad closed his doors forever in 1975, there was but one Titus Bakery owned and operated by my Grandfather's cousin Ted, it had been passed down to Ted's children and is a fixture to this day, on the Corner of Union and Prince Edward Streets.
The bread at this bakery, baked fresh every day, was as close to tasting like my Grandfathers loaves I had grown up with. Needless to say, Ted's bread was a staple and was always found on my counter top at home.

Now during our heated conversation about bread back in the news room, I believe the debate was about taste. One of my co-workers claimed that there was "no real difference" in the taste of fresh bread between one brand or another.
I countered with: " I could tell the difference blindfolded"

Now the folks I worked with at ATV in Saint John, were not going to let this pass. And from time to time would rekindle the conversation and debate about the taste of bread. I always defended the family name and would always restate my claim as bread expert.

In 1992, Mrs. Murman gave birth to my son, and as she was now on maternity leave, it would be my daily duty to pick up our daily bread from Titus Bakery. A task I performed most every lunch hour.
"One loaf white unsliced please." I would say to one of the Titus girls working the shop.
"90 cents please" She would reply and usually ask about the new baby and how Mrs. Murman was enjoying her time away from the office.
I would toss the bread in the back of the news truck and head off to who knows what, a routine that would repeat itself for months on end.

Little did I know that there was mischief afoot.

I would get home and my wife would say over supper. "This bread tastes funny are you sure that you bought this at Titus'? "
"Yes I did" I replied.
I never gave it much thought, I figured that childbirth and the rearrangement of hormones must have affected her sense of taste.

Months had gone by. Many loaves had been bought and consumed. Fresh baked bread everyday. From Titus Bakery or so I had thought. Months turned into a year. Never a break in the routine.

Lets fast forward. One of the fellows I worked with, our engineer, Paul was his name, had ended up in hospital with a major heart issue. He almost died. I went on behalf of the office to visit him after his surgery. I met his wife in the hospital hall and she said that he would be fine and I could go in for a quick visit. She warned me that he was still groggy.
So I get in there and he says to me, "Oh Murray, my boy, " and he starts mumbling about how sorry he was about the bread and how he and the others had been switching my loaves for some time.
"The Bread??" I thought.
I figured it must be the drugs and he was just babbling about random things.
He kept saying how sorry he was and he hoped I would forgive him.
I figured I had stayed too long so I gave him our gifts and went back to the office to let everybody know that he would be OK.

"How is he?" The group asked
"He is a little groggy and I think he's on some great drugs" I explained to the newsroom. "He was musing about stealing bread and he wanted forgiveness."
There was sudden laughter. It seems that Paul had been in on the great bread caper and he wasn't musing, he thought he was dying and wanted to clear his soul.

Then it all came out. It appears I had been the victim of a very elaborate practical joke. Masterminded by my co workers.
Your remember the bread boast. They had it on tape. It was tradition when pulling off office hi jinx that it be recorded. The gang confessed that they had been switching my daily bread for just under a year. They would each take turns buying bread at other bakeries and switching it. Taking it out of its clear plastic bag and switching it. Sometimes the switch would be made while I was in the bathroom. Someone would knock, I would say "I'll be a few minutes." They would have cameras rolling and switch the freakin' bread just outside of the washroom door.
Often one of the gang would eat a sandwich in front of my desk made from you guessed it, my Titus Bread. All the while recording the fun to be played back at a later date.
Apparently every bakery in Saint John was in on the joke. Yes even the girls at Titus Bakery. My wife always suspected that there was always something not right about the bread. I never suspected a thing and well couldn't tell the difference. I am sure my late Grandfather looking down from above, was laughing his ass off. I know that everyone at the Saint John Bureau sure was.

It was brilliant!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Deja Vous

After my last post lamenting the lack of breaking news and a flight reporter wouldn't you know last nights show included both.

Let me reset this. A couple of years ago, some of you may remember The Cliff Hanger. It was a defining moment for helicopter news gathering here in Vancouver. You had a boy, his dog, stranded high on a cliff in North Vancouver. Chopper 9 brought the rescue of the lad and his dog LIVE during the 6PM news. At the time flight reporter David Kincaid carried the show on his back with his informative oratory from the sky.

Fast forward to Wednesday of this week and for some reason, Kink ends up reassigned back into the flying machine. The first time in several months. As he buckles himself in he states to Guiv (pilot) and Gary (Flight Camera Op): "Wouldn't it be nice if we had something breaking tonight."
No sooner had he got those words out over the flight intercom, the scanner yielded a "high angle rescue" at a place called Quarry Rock. The very same location of the Cliff Hanger of two years ago. He could not have planned it any better.

I happened to be close to a TV as the 6 began. I was tuning in to see an item that I had shot earlier while on skis. As the show opened they went immediately to breaking news. A familiar looking cliff, Kinks voice describing the developing scene below. A dog, this time, a women and of course the high angle rescue team of the North Van FD. As with the first story from two years ago, this too had a happy ending. Perfect TV, danger, drama, a rescue and nobody gets hurt. Good stuff. So good the item which I had originally tuned in for gets dropped from the show and held for tomorrow.

Now it's official. I am the only member of the CTV Flight Crew that has yet to shoot a High Angle dog/person rescue at Quarry Rock.
No matter, it's been done.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The Stare

The drone of another aircraft powering off the runway at Vancouver International fills the office as I stare blankly toward the mountains. I am back at the aircraft hangar after a long hiatus from the helicopter.
Usually my mood is upbeat heading into a flight week, but much has changed with the Chopper 9 project and the assignment just doesn't have the excitement or immediacy it once had.
It has been a gradual thing. The desk and ND seem to have lost the appetite or commitment to the news gathering weapon in the sky. Late last summer the writing seemed to be on the wall with the permanent reassignment of Flight Reporter Dave Kincaid. Flight rotations just have not been the same without his gifted story telling and his ability to pitch items from the sky to the show producers. With his departure, those of us left are relegated to listening to the squelch of antique scanners, praying for some breaking news so that we can launch and contribute to the shows.
Needless to say, the flight hours have been few and far between. Couple that with the spotty wintertime weather and you see how a guy can develop that "thousand yard stare" looking towards the mountains, just wishing for a flight with some meaning.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Olympic Ski Jumping

Well the shine of this assignment has definitely worn off. I have also been fighting a chest cold for the past week and that has depleted my energy and enthusiasm. Still being here at the bureau's infancy has had its moments.

A beaten, but not defeated Murman, waiting to edit

It has given me the opportunity to experience a few things that had been on the "to do list". The latest was our shoot at the Olympic Ski Jumping Venue this week.

Ever since I saw the opening clip of ABC's Wide World of Sports (back in the 70's) of the "Agony of Defeat" video, where some poor schlep wipes out jumping off a ski jump, the sport has fascinated me. I recall watching Olympic Ski Jumping on TV as a youngster and marveling how these men with strange names ( they were all European and mostly Scandinavian names) would sore through the air and land without injuring themselves. It was an exotic sport to be sure and not something you see everyday.

Just after launch a competitor forms a "V" to act as a wing and gains greater flight time.

The first Ski jump Venue I had ever seen was in Salt Lake City during 2002. I did not see the competition, but my accommodations while at the games to see hockey, were right across the interstate from the venue outside of Park City.
Now this week I finally had the good fortune to finally get to an actual event with real live competitors flying off a newly constructed Ski Jump. Man these young lads have stones. You have no idea how steep and then how far these guys "fly". It's not until you get at up to the point of launch that someone like me who has until that time, only seen jumping on a TV screen, that you really get a sense of how fast a Jumper is traveling and how steep the landing area is. The sound of the launch and the jumper flying through the air is another dynamic that TV doesn't quite do justice.

A member of the US Ski Jump Teams flies down the Jump in a perfect "V"

Now you couple all of that with a sprinkle of controversy, and you have a great recipe for a newsy reason to be at such a venue. The controversy involves the IOC and Women's Ski Jumping. You see Ski Jumping at the Olympic Games has been exclusively a men's competition. The women were denied entry into the 2010 games because of "technical reasons". It has become a big story and one that our news organization has followed very closely. It has become a subject that most in Canada have heard about and has people talking about a little known and exotic fringe winter sport called Nordic Ski Jumping. Ya gotta love controversy and ya gotta love the fact that the movement behind womens ski jumping has not gone away. This story has legs and we haven't heard the end of it.

Will the Women be jumping here in 2010?

Friday, February 22, 2008

World Cup Ski Racing

I am just get ready to edit this afternoons piece. As Sarah writes her script and awaits vetting, here are a selection of photos from our assignment during the past couple of days at the Whistler World Cup Ski Championships.

CTV Camera Operator Shawn Foss in his Broadcast Location at the World Cup. During a wipe out at the finish this morning at the Womens Down Hill, he took a ski pole to the ass. It punctured his jeans and broke the skin. Like a trooper, he played on, wounded.

A competitor streaks toward the finish at yesterday's Mens Super G at the Whistler World Cup. Man these guys and gals freakin' fly.

CTV Whistler Reporter, Sarah Galashan and CTV Olympic Producer, Allison Redmond pose for a snap yesterday at the Finish Line.

Austrian Ski Fans represent! These guys had a blast and were right behind my camera position.

Ok so I got a shot for the boys, I couldn't resist her smile. A Von Trapp family singer she 'aint.

Canadian Speed Queens, Britt Janyk and Kelly Vanderbeek wave to the supportive crowd after they finished in this morning's Womens' Down Hill.

CBC camera op Glen at his camera position making faces during this morning's race.

Glen returned the favor by shooting a tired looking Murman at the finish line.

A shot of the finish area of the World Cup Womens Down Hill Course. This will be the same course used at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games for the women and the event this morning acted as a test event for the Games Organizers.