Last night, I went into a Barnes & Noble. While that may not be an earth shattering feat, it was a little different for me. The last time I went inside of a Barnes & Noble was late in the afternoon on April 27, 2011. If for some reason that date doesn't seem familiar, that was the day that storms ripped through central Alabama, including Tuscaloosa where I was in school at the University of Alabama at the time. Over 50 people were killed in Tuscaloosa, and in the overall storm outbreak across that part of the country, over 300 people lost their lives. I was in my final semester at the Capstone. I was cramming in a few final classes that I had avoided my entire college career, along with a couple of senior level journalism classes. Among those classes was a journalism ethics class taught by former editor of the Birmingham News, Tom Scarritt, and a sports journalism class taught by Sports Illustrated writer Lars Anderson. Lars just released his long awaited book yesterday, The Storm and the Tide, which chronicles events surrounding that day, and the recovery from it. It was finally enough reason to go back into a bookstore. On April 27, I had just left my morning science class - one of the classes I was cramming in at the last second because I didn't want to deal with it early on. It was bright, sunny and hot, like it always is in Tuscaloosa. I came home to an email from one of my classmates with pictures from Talladega where Lars had taken us a couple of weeks before. We got to talk to drivers such as Ty Dillion, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Tony Stewart (pictured below). It was just one of many things that made that class easily the best one I took while at Alabama. [gallery link="file" ids="29096,29097,29098"] I decided to go do a little shopping, and went to the Barnes & Noble in Midtown Village on McFarland Blvd. to get a couple of things while I had some free time. I only had that one class that day, but decided to go early because I knew it was supposed to eventually rain that day. I purchased a few books: A dictionary. Sometimes spell check doesn't work, and because every journalist could use a nice dictionary by their side, and I didn't actually have one. A GRE prep book. I didn't necessarily want to go to grad school. I was happy where I was at and felt I had the skills I needed to go out into the "real world," but I signed up for the GRE anyway just to have it under my belt. The Geektionary. This was more of a funny buy because a friend and I had just been making fun of another friend for not knowing what a Grue was. (Yes, I'm THAT big of a nerd) None of these books have any particular meaning to me individually. I ended up canceling my GRE because it was scheduled for the week after that, and my attention was obviously elsewhere. The others were just books to add to my library - once I have a library. But as I headed home, the skies started to get dark. I got back to my apartment which was right next to Bryant-Denny Stadium and when I got out, I turned around and saw the biggest tornado I had ever seen. Like the stupid college student I was at the time, I whipped out my phone and started filming. (Warning, it's kind of loud)
Eventually it started raining so I stopped and went inside. The next hour or so was a blur, but eventually it was night time. I wasn't sure about the severity of the storm at this point. The power was out, and I was receiving countless text messages from family in Birmingham, and friends in Auburn asking if I was ok. Luckily my apartment complex, a few more around us, and the stadium were just on the edge of the tornado.
At this point it was pitch black, and it was silent.
My phone was about to die from ringing off the hook. The signal was weak due to everything going on, so that was draining my battery too. I went out to my car when I knew everything was over to charge my phone.
I wanted to walk a couple of blocks down where I could see a little bit of what was going on. I was still not sure just how bad it was. I couldn't really see anything or get anywhere because there were a ton of people trying to leave, and a bunch more trying to get into town to help.
I snuck out the back way through downtown Tuscaloosa super early the next morning. I came home to Homewood to my parents house and we went to load up my dad's trailer to with a ton of supplies, and then went back down there that afternoon. One of our good friends, Bradley Hodges, works for First Wesleyan just over the river in Northport, so we went there to help.
Then, finally in the bright daylight, I could see all of the true damage. I was able to see the destruction caused by the storm with my own two eyes.
Classes were canceled, and that was that as far as school was concerned. There were far more pressing matters. I walked across the stage with everyone else in August that summer, and got my degree in communications.
When I got ready to move back home and find a job, I was clearing out my car of all of the stuff I had packed up. At the bottom of all of the other junk in my backseat, I found a bag from Barnes & Noble. The storm happened so all of the sudden, that I had never taken the books out of my car. My parents started calling them "the tornado books."
To this day, I haven't brought myself to take them out of the bag. They continue to stay in my car, untouched in the backseat. It's the constant reminder of what happened on that day.
I had a houndstooth-designed rubber bracelet I wore that the money used to buy it went to a rebuilding fund of some kind. I've bought countless other things to support the rebuilding effort. I went and worked after the storm myself to help rebuild.
But nothing is more of a reminder than those books. I don't know why. It's just a few of random books I bought while I was out one day. But it was that day.
Then yesterday, August 19, 2014, I went back in to Barnes & Noble to buy The Storm and the Tide - the only book I've been looking forward to since then.
I've even written my own book called The Tornado Books, which I will never even try to get published. I wrote it for me. I've talked about that day on the radio countless times on the anniversary, during other storms that we were covering, and more. I've done so many things revolving around that day, but now it has come full circle. The professor who taught me so much that semester, and the fact that it has been books that were the constant reminder for me. Now, a book has been written by one of the great sports writers of this generation to tell the story better than anyone.
No one else has been able to capture that day, and resiliency of the city of Tuscaloosa and the University of Alabama. Not until now. It's a reminder of the people we lost on that day. It's a reminder that we shouldn't take things for granted.
The storm came. The Tide came even stronger.
We're getting into that time of the year where we have to switch from shorts to pants, and start wearing jackets. That also means that in the state of Alabama, high school football is getting into the most important part of the season - region championships and the playoffs. Last week I was able to produce and run a great game in Pelham as the Panthers upset Spain Park 27-24 on CSS. Spain Park still won the region championship, but Pelham solidified themselves in the playoffs. You can check out our broadcast of the game here. It was a great experience to see that game and to finally get back into some high school production. I haven't been able to do that since May when we did the AHSAA softball championships down in Montgomery where I did play by play. Of course we ran our radio game of the week last season on the now defunct 97.3 The Zone, but now we have video when we do it! Coming up this week on Thursday is the AHSAA volleyball state championships, and we will be bringing you those live all day long as we go from 1A through 6A. We'll also have some postseason football starting next Friday when the playoffs start, but I'm not sure which game we will bring you yet. You can check out the brackets here (although they are still unfinished until the end of week 10) to get a feel for some possible big match-ups. ----- This time of the year is always what I look forward to. November means Alabama/LSU, Alabama/Auburn, Thanksgiving, high school playoffs, cold weather, and so much more. When I left the radio station back in July, I wasn't sure if I was going to get to enjoy all of the things I loved about November. Working in sports media means you get the chance to cover all of these games and do what you love to do. Now, if I didn't have a job that was sending me to these games, then I could still enjoy these things as a fan, but I have grown to want to do more than just sit in the stands and cheer. Yes, I love screaming my head off at the Iron Bowl or when LSU comes to town, or as Homewood starts their pursuit of another championship. However, I have noticed this year as I sit in the stands doing nothing but watching that I needed to do more. I will constantly talk people's ears off if they are sitting next to me because I'm used to doing play-by-play or color commentary. Or I sit there on my phone constantly checking scores and wanting to share them with people because I always had to be up to date as a producer. That is part of why I started my own company about three months ago. I did it quietly, and only a handful of people know that I did it. I had big, ambitious plans for it right out of the gate, but things didn't come together as I would have hoped, so I had to put it aside for now. I called it Flux Media because it didn't necessarily have one solid purpose so Flux was a very appropriate name for it. I still believe some of the things we were doing with the radio station could have been successful if just given a fair chance. I believe enough in some of our ideas that I am willing to go through the trouble of creating this company - getting tax ID's, forming an LLC, gathering investments, and more - and I'm willing to fail so that I can learn from my mistakes and experiences so that I can one day succeed. One of those things that the station never understood was the importance of high school athletics in this state. Now through being patient and working hard, I've been lucky enough to be chosen to be a lead producer for the NFHS Network in Birmingham and handle all of the events that need production. Flux has been "contracted" I guess you could say to handle any and all events in the future for the network. You can watch all of the events online on the AHSAA section of the NFHS Network website. Our team consists of myself, Aaron Daniel, Tim Melton, and Jerry Young, with other people jumping in to help out as well. Here is our tentative schedule of events (subject to change): October 31 - AHSAA Volleyball Championship November 8 - AHSAA Playoffs Week 1 November 9 - AHSAA Cross Country Championship November 15 - AHSAA Playoffs Week 2 November 22 - AHSAA Playoffs Week 3 November 29 - AHSAA Playoffs Week 4 December 7 - AHSAA Swimming Championship Hopefully this is just the beginning of what we can do with high school sports. Hopefully this is just the beginning of what I can do with Flux Media. I guess you could say that since things didn't go exactly as planned, Flux is still just a "side project". These high school games are mostly on the weekends so I am still looking for that right opportunity full time during the week. I'm still doing some voice over and web design work, but that's only so much. Whether it's in Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, or even California or New York, I know that my ideas are worth a shot, and I look forward to one day seeing them change the way we view media forever.
So after leaving my site looking the exact same for the last three years or so, I decided to change things around. I have to say, I am quite pleased with my new website look. You may wonder why I love to have a picture of New York as my background. I just love the way the city looks from above, and it's just a cool picture. I like my new logo as well. It's a more professional representation of me now that I am a working professional, and not a college kid playing video games all day. Ok, so I still play video games, but everyone does. I'm looking at you moms and dads that can't put down Candy Crush. I still have my portfolio up and it is accessible here. If you need to contact me, you can do so here. And of course, if you don't even know who I am and stumbled upon this site by some strange way other than by something I tweeted out, then feel free to learn about me. I haven't really updated a ton of things other than the look. I am hopefully going to start posting some more now that I have more time to write. For those who don't know, the sports radio station I primarily worked with was flipped to another format after Paul Finebaum chose to work for ESPN and we didn't get the affiliation. There are plenty of things to say, but all I will say is that I learned a lot working for Cox Media Group, but it was time for me to move on anyway, and the sports station going away was just the final nail in the coffin. So here we sit, at the beginning of the college football season, and so many opportunities lie ahead of me. I'm working on a few things here and there, one of which I will announce soon (although I'm sure you've seen me mention it before, or can find clues to it around this site and others I've worked with). I've been busy during the month of August and hopefully a lot of good and cool things will come out of it. However, this site will start to become home to my writing as I look to get back into what I originally studied to do in college, and that is sports journalism. I had many great opportunities to put my skills to work with The Midnight Meltdown, The 4th Quarter, and our high school football coverage. Now that those no longer exist, I don't want to stop, so I won't. Stay tuned to this site for good content, and great discussions about the latest in sports and entertainment. I look forward to the adventures ahead.
So I've been trying my hand at Photoshop a lot lately. I've always had fun messing around with stuff, but I've been doing a lot more for the Meltdown and the station as a whole. It started with Alabama heading to Miami for the BCS championship, and now with signing day, but it's just grown and grown and I've done a lot of good stuff. Here are some of my most recent creations, including a Meltdown wallpaper you can use for yourself! You can always tell what I've had fun with, because it will crop up in multiple images. This time it's grunge backgrounds and 3D text. I also have a couple of other things to put out, but I can't because it's for secret stuff that isn't supposed to be announced yet, and I'd probably get in trouble. The photos after the jump...
So hi again. I know I continue to neglect this, but it's ok, it's still getting use, even though I'm not writing on it anymore. You can catch most of my writing over at Zookery.com, which is where I do things now for work. However, it's a new year so I figured I'd make an update post. I usually spend my time doing hourly "Sportscenter" like updates for the radio, but we're replaying Alabama's magnificent win from last night, so I don't have to do it. I figured I'd spend that time writing this instead. As the title indicates, it's good to be an alumnus of the University of Alabama, winner of 3 of the last 4 national championships. I'm not bragging or anything, but Alabama is better than everyone. There I said it. I think my tweet last night explains it all: https://twitter.com/jlunce/statuses/288506287665340418 It is nice working in sports in Alabama because then I get to be a part of it...except when I have to be one of the poor unfortunate souls left behind to make sure the rest of the people in sunny Miami get on the air without problem. But I guess that's part of the job, although a terrible part of it. In other news, I have updated everything on this site to be working again. When I shut down GoW Nation, I lost everything I had on this site on that server. So I had to re-upload everything, so for all those potential employers that were looking to hire the one and only @jlunce, I apologize - as you were. I also added some graphic work I've done, along with some more audio and written clips from my continued time here at CMG, or whatever they are going to call us whenever we get sold. If you ever go through a corporate sale - it's hell not knowing what to call yourself, or who your boss will be at the end of the day. Regardless, just keep on plugging, and you can at least stay employed (hopefully). If you still don't know about my radio show, you need to learn about it quick. The Midnight Meltdown (give us a like on Facebook!) is growing quickly and it's a ton of fun. I don't know if we'll be on the air in a couple of weeks because of all the changes going on around here, but it's a blast to do, and I'm sure we'll try to keep the podcast going at least. Other than that, I'm just playing a lot of video games in my spare time. I'm obsessed with Counter-Strike: Global Offensive, along with League of Legends. People keep trying to get me to play DotA 2, but I don't want to. I'm also trying to get back into World of Warcraft and Minecraft to be the ultimate time killers, but I find them both so boring now. I need a game with some action to get me going and keep me entertained. So that's it. I think I need to change my main banner, it's kind of goofy now that I look at it. Maybe make a cool new logo I can put on all my new graphic work so you know the man, @jlunce, has just created a masterpiece. I don't know........bye.
Wordpress 3.4 has been released, and while I know it seems like I never even post here, that just means I'm busy elsewhere, saving the world from aliens, fighting crime on the streets, doing my 9-5 job to hide my secret identity, and of course, becoming famous on The Midnight Meltdown. However, with WP 3.4 "Green" being released, I have a new reason to come make a post. Especially for one cool feature like this: https://twitter.com/jlunce/status/213156948391100416 I need to redesign this site so that I can use it as a more effective portfolio (so when I link to it in something like my resume, people don't laugh), but as I was looking at possible redesign options, I noticed that 3.4 was released. You can now embed tweets like I just did, and you can also customize the Twenty-Eleven theme a bit more. I usually try to design something or work with a pre-made framework when I make Wordpress sites, but I decided to stick to the main theme this time to see what it was like. In other news...