I am a firm believer and supporter of the mass chaos and bargain hunting deals that come with Black Friday. In my family, it’s tradition for my mom and I to wake up at 4 a.m. to brew a cup of joe and do our best to throw on some clothes while we sift through the mountain of store ads on the kitchen table. To me, this is a once in year type of fun! I get to bond with my mom over standing in long wrap around lines outside in the freezing cold and running through the stores to find the exact item that is 90% off the normal price. Black Friday is an adrenaline rush for shoppers around the country. It’s the only time that people wait two weeks outside the local Best Buy just to get a discounted t.v. (This really did happen in Toledo by the way).
This year however, I was thoroughly disappointed in what turned into Black Thursday. Retail stores opened at either 6 or 8 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day. For crying out loud people this is a day to spend with family and loved ones stuffing turkey in our faces and having ten pieces of pie. I can’t believe that these stores made their employees work during what normally is Thanksgiving dinner. By dinner time, our Walmart was overflowing with people and wrap around lines. The workers had to wear bright yellow vests and they created a makeshift maze of a line with giant products piled up everywhere. Besides taking away from Thanksgiving and family time, this Black Thursday deal takes all of the fun and adrenaline out of waking up in the middle of the night and hunting for deals. It used to be only the serious Black Friday shoppers that had a shot at getting the top sales. This year, any ordinary person who never had participated in Black Friday could just head on over to the store and stand in line. As a Black Friday veteran and enthusiast, this is unsettling. I can only hope that next year stores don’t open at noon on Thanksgiving day. All things considered, Black Thursday should be banned and stores should have to wait until Friday to open their doors.
Almost a week ago, superstar Rihanna was awarded the first ever American Music Award’s “ICON” award. At first this seemed reasonable and we could all be happy for this diva. On second thought however, I began to wonder what in the world they are basing this award off of. So you’re telling me that Rihanna soared right over Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Jay Z and Britney (just to name a few) to deserve the title? I can’t believe that for one moment! Don’t even get me started on the greats like MJ and Madonna. I’ve been a Rihanna fan since “Pon de Replay” but lets be real, she has only been in the music game now for around 7 years. At just twenty-five years old, she’s surely become a pop superstar. However to be an icon I’m expecting you to have twenty plus years in the industry and the power to move mountains with your talent and performances. I’m sorry Riri but maybe in ten more years you will be up to the “icon” level. An icon should be a legend in the pop music world who’s legacy will last through the test of time and generations.<a
. It’s no shock this year that People Magazine’s no. 1 contender for sexiest man alive came through with the title yesterday. This singer/ songwriter and judge on The Voice is an unconventional for the top choice but steamy and sexy nonetheless. Levine is not the typical bronze hunky goddess like the previous Channing Tatum or Matthew Mcconaughey. It’s his raw talent and bad boy image that makes this man deserving of the title. Some say however, that this mega star is a bit too cocky which demotes his sexy level. Does his giant ego make him undeserving of the People’s top pick? I disagree… let’s face it, every girl likes a bad boy. Let’s just hope this sexy man doesn’t let it go to head. (But let’s be honest.. it will.)
Some of my favorite other contenders for the sexiest man pick include newcomer Ian Somerhalder and of course David Beckham. Icon Justin Timberlake and funny guy Jimmy Falon made the People’s Mag A+ List this year.
There are very few journalists who live up to the standards of the Carr Van Anda Award. This award is presented by Scripps at Ohio University to honor and recognize the outstanding work of top journalists during their careers. Kathleen Carroll, executive editor of the Associated Press accepted this award with a packed house on Monday evening.
Carroll was introduced first by the Dean of E.W. Scripps School of Journalism and professor, Bob Stewart. Second she was further introduced an honored by Andy Alexander, Scripps Howard Visiting Professional. Carroll is behind the scenes of one of the most important and influential news organizations. She continues to be an influential journalist as she manages 2,300 journalists in about 100 different countries who work for the AP. She is an editor that does not hide behind the reporters but rather takes successes and failures of the company as a whole.
During her acceptance speech Carroll spoke of many stories from her time as a journalist and editor. She says that it is a reporter’s job to practice accountability journalism and act as the watch dog between the government and citizens. She advocates that not all news needs to be bad news but highlighting things that work is good news too. Her advice to all journalists includes having the ability to track down original info and public records.
She ties this in with the recent controversy between the AP and United States government. As a result of a leak investigation in spring of 2012 for Al-Qaeda sending a bomb on a plane to the U.S. the government subpoenaed twenty one AP employee phone records. This meant fax machines, news bureaus, and any news gathering that was done by these employees was sent to a database for the ongoing investigation. Carroll and the AP fought their rights of privacy and ultimately the Justice Department will make changes to the ways it can obtain information from journalists. This is a big step in the privacy of journalists who are reporting and using anonymous sources.
Carroll has served as executive editor at the AP in 2002, and senior vice president since 2003. She has worked for this news organization for twenty five years. She studied journalism at the University of Texas at Arlington where she also reported for the Texas Morning News. She also served as a Washington Bureau Chief in 1999 with media company, Knight Ridder. She joined the Pulitzer Prize board in 2003.
There is always a level of respect for firefighters who risk their lives daily to save others. However, sometimes you don’t really realize what they actually do from day to day. At my internship today, among many other tasks, we shot a story at the Toledo Fire Station #25. I quickly learned that this group of courageous men and women are a tight-knit, semi-dysfunctional-in-the-best-way type of family. They work in 24 hour shifts which would be the death of most of us normal people. Now sure I say “us normal peopel” but lets be honest, these men and women are heroes. They were some of the nicest people I have met covering a story so far. While we were in the middle of our interviews the alarm went off and several firefighters rushed to the truck and headed out to the scene. The most exciting part for me was when they coerced me into trying on all of their gear. Firefighters have to put on six pieces of gear before they even leave the station. Let me tell you, this is not an easy task. The boots are like moon boots but with the opposite super-gravitational sluggish effect. The only way my pants stayed up were the bright red suspenders. The fire retardant head mask will really make you sweat. The jacket and pants are very heavy almost like a giant ski suit. The helmet is the final touch, until they need their face mask at the actual fire that is. These suits can get to more than 100 degrees inside! This makes it difficult to perform in crucial situations. However these firefighters said that they don’t realize how hot they are until after they are done and out of the fire. The rush of adrenaline overpowers the dangerous heat inside the suits. These firefighters know exactly how important it is to stay hydrated since they have seen first hand the effects of sweltering summer heat combined with fighting a fire. They also say that Staying hydrated and being smart about the rising temperatures this summer is something that everyone should take into consideration.
This past week I finally got the chance to head back to one of my favorite places. It’s always a mix of adventure, relaxation and great memories. Gatlinburg, Tennessee sits perfectly surrounded by the Great Smokey Mountains. There are so many adventures to be had here. Personally I love just being in the mountains and being able to look out at the world below. We stayed at my families lodge nestled in the mountains that has the best overlooking view of the entire town of Gatlinburg. This is where I just sat in the early morning taking in the beautiful view and breathing in the fresh, crisp mountain air. The clouds seem to linger between the mountains like a blanket.
In town there are many places to visit and great places to chow down or grab some drinks. Make sure you go to No Way Jose’s and The Burro Loco if you’re in the mood for some Mexican flair. These are two of my favorite restaurants with some of the most lively atmosphere around. If you like seafood, make sure you check out Crawdaddy’s. They also have the funniest t shirts around. There is also a huge variety of other food places from Shoney’s to the Melting Pot and Dicks Last Resort. There are a few local barbeque joints that really hit the spot as well including Bennet’s! If you’re looking for breakfast the old pancake house is the best in town. The antique looking building has old rocking chairs lining the giant front porch. Also in town you have to visit Ole Smoky Moonshine Holler with free tastings and a great gift shop. Recently, they have added Bootlegger’s Homemade Wine and Davy Crockett’s Tennessee Whiskey which also have free tastings for most of their flavors. There are plenty of candy shops for your sweet tooth. Fudge, giant caramel and candy covered apples and taffy are just a few tasty treats. Off the beaten path is Rocky Top Cinnamon Rolls, which has the yummiest cinnamon rolls that are also the size of my face.
Once you’ve had your fill you’ll need something to do, and there is no shortage of exciting adventures. For something new, I decided to get an an old time photo taken with my friend who came down with me. We had a great time playing dress up and now have a picture to go along with the memories. Also the Roaring Fork Motor Nature Trail is great even for those who don’t prefer hiking since it’s a drive through nature loop. There are sites and original houses here from the 1800′s when the first families settled here. Also in the National Forest is Cades Cove which is another driving loop. There are plenty of hiking trails some of which lead to beautiful waterfalls. However, we opted out of these since they go through the back country and we could not bring our dog.. park rules. The Gatlinburg Sky Needle is cool to get a view from above, however the cabin we stay at has a much better view! I have also been to the riding stables and white water rafting, both of which I would highly recommend. We ventured up to Ober Gatlinburg which is a large scenic overlook complete with an ice skating rink, water slides, mini golf and a chair lift to the top of the mountain. This is a must for anyone who is visiting Gatlinburg for the first time. There are also zip lines, helicopter tours, and zorbs which are giant clear blow up balls that they put you inside then roll you down the mountain. I saved these adventures for another time because my vacations are always on a budget. We also went to the Gatlinburg Mysterious Mansion which was great for the $10 price. There are also too many mini golf places to count! My favorite is Hillbilly Golf down the side of a mountain as well as Lost Treasure Golf in Pigeon Forge. Speaking of Pigeon Forge, there are many dinner shows and fun museums to visit in this area one town away from Gatlinburg! There is also the Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum, Haunted House and Aquarium if you are willing to spend big bucks.
There are so many great things to do in Gatlinburg and the Smokey Mountains. The feel of the South just seems a little different than here in Ohio. This is a tourist town that never lost it’s hometown feel. But don’t take my word for it, head over and find out for yourself.