First Time Dad

Before I became a dad I had a lot of questions. So did Andrew Au. And he decided to do something about it.

In each episode of the “First Time Dad” web series, Andrew picks the brain of a fellow dad, learning all he can before the birth of his son.

He invited me on to talk about social media and why my wife and I decided not to post photos of our daughter. Watch the video below.

It’s refreshing to see dads talking about dad stuff. Watch the rest of the series here.

Bonus cut!

Walter Franklin Inscoe Jr.

Walter Franklin Inscoe Jr.

My grandfather, Walter Franklin Inscoe Jr. (PawPaw to me), died on July 4 of this year. He’ll be laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery this week, just a few days after Veterans Day.

I couldn’t think of two better days to celebrate the life of PawPaw, who retired as a Chief Master Sergeant in the Air Force after serving in World War II, Korea and Vietnam, and was the most patriotic man I’ve ever known.

He lived an incredible life. I could fill a book with all of the adventures he had in his 91 years. I went on a road trip across the country with him and my sister when I was in college. (You can read about those adventures here.) He bowled (well) and played cornhole (really well) right through his 90th birthday. It seemed like nothing could stop PawPaw, right up until a brain tumor did.

I think about him all the time, and I miss him terribly.

I was honored to speak at his memorial service in Wilson, North Carolina. Below is a draft of the eulogy I delivered. I did my best to capture how much he meant to his family and friends. I hope I did him proud.


PawPaw, my grandfather, lived 91 years full of joy, love and adventure. When I was trying to figure out what to say about him today, I thought about what stories I’d tell my daughter, his great granddaughter, Eleanor, when she gets older.

I’ll tell her how he lied about his age to join the Navy at 15 years old, and served his country for 30 years, during World War II, Korea and Vietnam. I’ll tell her about the Bronze Star and numerous other awards be won.

I’ll also tell her how he won his first car, a 1937 Chevy, in a game of blackjack. He always had a thing for cars. Later in life, he had a habit of taking his beloved Cadillac in for an oil change or some minor repair and coming back with a brand new Cadillac. I long ago lost count of how many Cadillacs he owned.

I’ll tell her that he only made it through seventh grade but he was one of the smartest men I ever met. Pick a subject and he could talk intelligently about it. Sports, politics, history – you name it. You had to be careful, though, because he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind. He didn’t mince words. If he didn’t like something, he told you. But it was always out of love.

And when he set his mind on something, he was determined to do it. I was going to visit him while he was in the hospital in Chapel Hill and my dad called and told me to meet him in the waiting room, not PawPaw’s room. I walked in and there was PawPaw, in his gown, sitting in the waiting room eating breakfast.

He was tired of being in his room, so he got up, grabbed his little IV cart and walked out, didn’t care what anyone had to say about it. The doctors and nurses had to come to him.

I’ll tell her about how when I was little I loved NASCAR so PawPaw painted a race car track on a big piece of plywood so I could race my little die cast cars around it, one by one.

I’ll tell her about the road trip my sister, Madison, and I took with PawPaw in 2008, the summer after MawMaw died. We spent a month driving across the country, down to Texas, all the way up California, and through Montana and South Dakota. We took a helicopter tour of the Grand Canyon, saw Mount Rushmore and walked all over Chicago and Seattle. But we also saw the places he used to live, met old friends and learned about his life. It was such a special trip, and I’ll treasure those memories forever.

Oh, and he won $100 at a casino in Las Vegas, so clearly those blackjack skills never went away.

I’ll tell her how he was still bowling and working out at the Y and playing cornhole just about every day at 90 years old. And he was good at cornhole, too. He’d beat me bad every time we played, and he let me know it.

More than anything, though, I’ll tell her how much he cared about his friends and his family, and how much they cared about him. Soon after he got sick, he told me he was surprised by how many people were calling him, checking up on him and bringing him food. But I wasn’t. He has touched so many lives. As one of his friends told me just last night, he’s one in a million.

I feel lucky that he was my grandfather. And I think everyone who met him feels lucky to be a part of his life in some way.

I’m so, so glad he got to meet his great granddaughter, and I can’t wait to tell her all of these stories about him.

One last thing: About four years ago, I gave PawPaw a little book for Christmas. It basically asks a lot of questions about his life, and he answered them and gave it back to me. One of the questions asked about his favorite holiday. He wrote, “July 4 was always special to me.” Well now it’s even more special, because it’s the day he got to go up to heaven and meet our Lord.

CharlotteFive: Why you won’t see photos of my baby all over social media

CharlotteFive: Why you won’t see photos of my baby all over social media

Read my latest piece about why I rarely (if ever) post photos of my daughter on social media in the Jan. 10 edition of CharlotteFive:

My daughter, Eleanor, just turned 5 months old a couple of weeks ago. You wouldn’t know it by looking at my Facebook, Twitter or Instagram accounts, though. Same if you looked at my wife’s accounts.

In her nearly half a year of life, exactly three photos of Eleanor have been posted on Facebook – one of just her hand the day she was born and two family photos, all posted by me. That’s it. And it’ll probably be a while before I post another one.

It’s not because I haven’t been taking any photos. Believe me, I have, and have the dwindling phone memory to prove it.

And it’s not because I don’t want to show her off. Man, do I want to show her off. She’s beautiful and observant and has the most amazing facial expressions and the most ridiculous hair that goes from blond to dark brown midway down the back of her head, like she decided to bleach the business half of her mullet.

Read the rest on

Twenty seventeen

Twenty seventeen

Twenty seventeen was a dumpster fire of a year for many people for many reasons I’m not going to get into here. You know what I’m talking about: the avalanche of terrible, awful, no good things that made us all dread – or avoid – looking at the news each day.

That’s what will define 2017 for some. Not me. I’m choosing to remember the good moments and the joy, the positive changes.

This is what I will remember about 2017:

Walking my sister down the aisle and watching her marry a good man who cares deeply about her, and gaining a brother.

Showing up to a bar four hours early to watch basketball games with friends in March, then cheering/crying/hugging strangers when Luke hit the shot and a doing it again a few days later when the Tar Heels cut down the nets.

Celebrating my grandfather’s 90th birthday, marveling at the impact he has had on so many people, and hoping I can be even half as good a man as him.

Feeling the excitement (and fear) of starting a new job after eight years with the same company, the first company I worked for out of college. Change can be hard, but also good.

Getting the keys to our first house, and knowing this is the home our family will grow up in.

Hearing my baby girl cry (scream, really) at 10:07 p.m. July 29. Meeting Eleanor. Knowing that my life would never be the same; it would be better.

Some news …

Some news …

By now you may have already heard, but I figured I should use this woefully under-utilized blog to make an official announcement: I have accepted a new job. My last day with CharlotteFive and the Charlotte Observer was Wednesday.

I got hired at the Observer eight years ago, just a few months after graduating from UNC Chapel Hill. I owe the people there a ton. I leave the Observer a better writer, journalist and person because of the guidance, kindness and wisdom of the amazing people I worked with there. They took a chance on me and gave me the opportunity to do so many great things. I’m proud of the work I did there and proud of the people who are still at the Observer, fighting the good fight.

The new job isn’t with a media organization. It feels weird to leave journalism, but I’m really excited about this new opportunity. It’s with a great company and I’m looking forward to being a part of that team.

I hope to keep writing, so don’t be surprised if you see my byline around. And I’ll definitely still be sharing my random thoughts on Twitter. If you want to get in touch, fire an email to

Thanks to everyone who has helped me along the way, to all the people who read and supported CharlotteFive, and to all the amazing people I had the chance to meet.

I’m taking a few days off to spend time with my family before diving into this new adventure Monday. In the meantime, here’s what I wrote for my final C5 newsletter intro:

I wrote my first CharlotteFive newsletter April 29, 2015. I talked about my love for “Pitch Perfect” and wrote a story about a cheesy 1980s Belk ad. I ended the newsletter with “Keep it real today.” Super creative.

Two and a half years later, this is the last C5 newsletter I will write. Don’t worry — CharlotteFive isn’t going anywhere. I’m the one leaving.

C5 gave me the opportunity to do so many amazing things and meet so many interesting people. I interviewed Cam Newton and watched Katie race the streetcar. I got to the bottom of that crazy sign in Uptown, and got made fun of by the lead singer of Third Eye Blind. And it was so much fun.

I want to thank you, the readers, for allowing me to be a part of your morning routine. It’s been thrilling to watch this community of smart, caring and thoughtful C5ers grow, and I’m excited to see that growth continue. I love how much y’all care about this city.

For the past few years I’ve gotten to work with the most incredible people. The C5 team is truly one-of-a-kind: Intelligent, funny, a little crazy and, most of all, immensely talented. They made it fun to come into the office every day and I can’t wait to see what amazing things they do next. I’m going to miss them so, so much. But it’s time for a new adventure.

If you want to keep reading my failed attempts at being funny and my neighborhood hot takes, you can find me on Twitter.

And I won’t be going far. I’ll still be in Charlotte, reading CharlotteFive every morning. So don’t be surprised if you see me at a brewery — baby and dog in tow.

The Good News Is … someone let me co-host a podcast

The Good News Is … someone let me co-host a podcast

Someone at the Charlotte Observer decided I should co-host a podcast. Before they come to their senses and take me off of it, you should take a listen.

It’s called The Good News Is and you can find it on Soundcloud and iTunes. We drop a new episode every week, talking about current events, news and happenings in Charlotte. We also have a guest each week. So far, the guest list has included a former Carolina Panther, a guy who survived a rockfall, and a local matchmaker.

You can find TGNI on all of the normal social channels, too — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram — and you can shoot an email to

Would love to hear what you think. If you need another reason to listen, a matchmaker makes fun of my clothes and beard in Episode 6.

Restarting The Corey Project … kinda

Restarting The Corey Project … kinda

A few years ago I did this thing where I lost more than 60 pounds. It was a big deal for me. I’ve always been the big kid. I like to eat crappy food and drink good beer, and I like sitting on couches.

But, kind of on a whim, I joined the Y and started working out and stayed with it for more than a year, culminating with a half marathon in 2012. Then I got married and got busy and, well, The Corey Project (as I called it) went on hiatus.

There have been failed revival attempts in the past — Couch to 5K (nope), biking (YES, but not regularly enough and not enough of a burn), Insanity (insanity) — but nothing stuck.

I clearly need a goal to stay motivated. So I created one. Courtney signed up for her first marathon — the Rock ‘N’ Roll in D.C. in March — and, inspired by her and my tighter-fitting jeans, I signed up for the half.

My 12-week training plan is entering its third week and I did very little running before the plan began, so I’m basically going 0 to half in 84 days. But I did get new shoes and sweet wireless Bluetooth headphones, so I look good while I’m wheezing at mile two.

Wish me luck.

The best stories I’ve read about Dean Smith

The best stories I’ve read about Dean Smith

A lot has been written about North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith in the days since he died. I’m sure much more will be written in the coming days and weeks.

I wanted to use this space to share some of my favorite stories about the great man, Coach Smith. I’ve struggled to put words to his death, so I’m going to let others do it for me.

Let’s start with my colleague Scott Fowler, who wrote this piece about the kiss Michael Jordan put on Dean Smith’s head when the 1957 and 1982 national championship teams were honored a few years back. (I was at that game, standing in the risers.)

It was sweet and perfect, the sort of thing a parent will do to a well-loved child just before something big is about to happen. In this case it was the younger Jordan, towering over his beloved coach.

Fowler: Michael Jordan’s kiss symbolized all Dean Smith meant (Charlotte Observer)

Charles P. Pierce is one of my favorite writers and stories like this one are the reason why. Pierce, who’s known for writing so fast and so well, writes about politics and sports. I recommend reading everything he writes.

He was very much an eccentric in his own way, and had his best days before the game was so homogenized and commercialized that the eccentricity was bled out of it. He coached at the same time as Bob Knight at Indiana, and Abe Lemons at Texas, and McGuire at Marquette. It was a game for poets then, not for the slick salesmen of the modern era. Some of them were beat poets, and some of them wrote epics. I always thought of Smith as one of those all-American craftsmen-poets — Longfellow, maybe, or Edgar Lee Masters. His lines were always perfectly metered. Lord, how his game always rhymed.

Dean Smith: 1931-2015 (Grantland)

Adam Lucas has a habit of leaving Tar Heels fans sitting in a puddle of their own tears with his columns. This one is no different.

About a year ago, I was at the Smith Center on a typical weekday afternoon. A customized van was parked in the first parking space outside the basketball office, and I knew. As I walked into the basketball office, Dean Smith came out, being pushed in a wheelchair, a Carolina hat on his head.

It was awful, and it makes my eyes moisten even now to think about it. It was not at all the way I wanted to think about him. And I would like to admit something to you now: from then on, when I saw that van, I would sometimes take a different path into the building, because I wanted my Dean Smith to be the one I remembered. I wanted my Dean Smith to be the one who I mentioned my daughter’s name to on exactly one occasion, and six months later when passing me in the parking lot, he recalled it perfectly and asked how she was doing.

 That’s my Dean Smith and I wanted that to be everyone’s Dean Smith. I don’t want today’s students to think of him as old or sick. Understand this: this man could do anything. This man could coach and this man could help integrate a town or a league and this man changed the lives of hundreds of teenagers who played for him plus thousands of the rest of us who lived vicariously through their exploits.

Lucas: The Stories Are True (

This final story is the only one of the bunch written before Dean’s death. Tommy Tomlinson, a longtime columnist at the Charlotte Observer, wrote about Dean Smith nearly a year ago, focusing on the dementia that robbed him of his memory late in life.

Here is the special cruelty of it: The connector has become disconnected. The man who held the family together has broken off and drifted away. He is a ghost in clothes, dimmed by a disease that has no cure. Even the people closest to him sometimes slip into the past tense: Coach Smith was. They can’t help it. They honor him with what amounts to an open-ended eulogy. At the same time, they keep looking for a crack in the curtains. They do what people do when faced with the longest goodbye. They do the best they can.

Precious Memories (

If you have suggestions for other great Dean Smith stories, let me know.

Photo: fsamuels/Flickr

“Homeland” comes to the Observer; Why I’ll never be an actor

“Homeland” comes to the Observer; Why I’ll never be an actor

The Charlotte Observer newsroom turned into the set of Showtime TV show “Homeland” for about 12 hours May 28.

The show, which is filmed in Charlotte and surrounding areas, used the newsroom to film one scene for the upcoming season. Claire Danes was in it. I could have reached out and touched her, but I didn’t. Probably a good move.

Here’s what I learned.

  • It takes a village. This scene lasted about two or three minutes. About 100 people were in and out of the newsroom all day, setting the scene, lugging in camera equipment, rigging lighting and feeding the cast and crew. In addition to the three main actors in the scene, there were a couple of dozen extras posing as journalists walking through the room, ruining my chance to make a cameo.
  • Slow and steady wins the Emmy. The set up and filming of this scene took way longer than I would have imagined. Some of the crew arrived at 8 a.m. to set up the props. They were there until at least 8 p.m. taking everything down.The crew completely remodeled four desks in the newsroom with fake books, mementos and folders. They brought in new computer equipment and had a fake news feed going through the TVs.

    The actors arrived around 2:30 p.m., did a couple of rehearsals and then kept shooting the same short scene until well after 6 p.m., when I left.

  • I know nothing about my own workplace. We have these numbers sticking out of the ceiling at the Observer. A crew member asked me what they were for, and were they related to the sprinkler system? I had no idea. (They were.) I think he felt a little bad for calling me out, but I didn’t care. Now I know that sprinkler 70F has my back.
  • TV is magic. Midway through shooting, I watched one take and thought, “Man, our newsroom looks shabby. How are they going to make this look good?” Then I caught a glimpse of the monitor the director was watching. It looked great. The magic of television.
  • They work hard for the money, but love it. I sit right by the door of to the newsroom so I had the chance to talk to some of the crew members during downtime. One, who is from Charlotte and had been with the show for about a week, said they started at 5 a.m. and would be going until well into the night. And that’s a normal day.You could tell he was tired, but he also talked about how fun and exciting the job was and how passionate the crew is about it. All the crew members seemed to be enjoying the work and were friendly to all of the nosy journalists.

    Acting also isn’t easy. I can’t imagine how hard it is to say the same lines and do the same movements so many times in a row. They shot the scene from six or seven different angles, which meant running through it dozens of times. It was impressive how consistent Claire Danes was. Which brings me to my last bullet …

  • Danes is a superb curser. And consistent. Without giving away too much of the plot, Claire Danes character, Carrie Mathieson, yells at people in this scene. If you’ve watched the show, you know that comes with some cursing.Danes really knows how to accentuate her F-bombs and bull—-s. I couldn’t hear much of the dialogue from my position in the newsroom, but I heard those.

    I was also amazed by how consistent she curses. Her final line in the scene (I think I can tell you this without giving anything away) is “This is bullshit! You know that, right?” I swear she said it the exact same way at least 50 times. That’s when I realized I could never be an actor. My cursing is too inconsistent.