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.