Are you my secret Santa?

December 28th, 2013 at 6:45 pm by under Uncategorized

I am so excited to write this blog.  I’m actually grinning from ear to ear as my fingers are eagerly typing away.  I mean after all, it’s not everyday a person gets to participate in breaking a Guinness World Record!

I am a bit of a competitor.  It’s one of the reasons I started running (the other of course was to stay in shape).  But I also LOVE spreading holiday cheer.  So when I heard about Reddit’s Secret Santa, I wanted in.

If you haven’t heard about Reddit, it’s a social media and entertainment site.  At first glance, it looks like a massive blogging site.  But it’s more like a collection of stories that users have voted on.   I didn’t find out about Reddit until last year in July even though the site actually went live in 2005.

I was late to learn about RedditGifts too.  I talked about the uniqueness of the idea in my Daily Dot Com segment.  The giant online gift exchange started in 2009 with over 4,000 participants.  The order was tall yet simple: get as many people as you can to help break the world record for the largest holiday gift exchange.

People more than answered the call.  And last year, the exchange had even more participants.

“44,805 internet strangers from 130 different countries put their faith in one another and sent gifts around the world. Pretty awesome, right?”


You are probably noticing a trend here.  Each year the goal gets bigger.  So for secret Santa 2013 the goal was a whopping 100,000 participants!  And yes, my friends, I was part of that number.  I was Secret Santa #76938 :-)

Not everyone shared my enthusiasm.  A fellow reporter was a bit concerned about the safety of it all…mostly because people are tasked with ‘cyber stalking’ each other in order to find the perfect gift.  I heeded his advice and proceeded with caution.

I have to give it to Reddit, it’s not easy organizing such a task.  For the last 5 years, I’ve been coordinating the secret Santa gift exchange at my job.  I had 30 people participate this year.  I can’t imagine having 100,000 people.

When I got into work this week Monday, I was more than happy to see this gigantic box on my desk.  I knew right away what it was.  My gift had finally arrived from my ReddidGifts secret Santa!  I had been making such a big deal about it, everyone crowded around my desk to see me open the box.

Inside, was a handwritten note and a board game called Quelf.  But NO mention of who my secret Santa was.  One of our editors said, “oh that’s the best game ever.”  Then someone else said, “you are going to have so much fun playing that.  That’s a really good gift.”All I could think about was who sent the gift.  Just so I could say thank you.


I was matched with a young lady in Kentucky, who described herself as a person that likes HBO’s “Game of Thrones” and Cosplay.

I immediately sent her an anonymous message letting her know I was her secret Santa and that it was my first time participating.  She responded the next day and said she was a newbie too and just as happy about playing.

Shopping for her was stressful and fun.  I wanted to get her a gift that she would like, something that was from Alabama, since that’s where the gift was coming from, and something that was reflective of her personality based on the description she gave me.  It was no easy task.  I didn’t know ANYTHING about her.

I could have purchased something from the RedditGifts marketplace, where people can shop for all sorts of cool clothing, games and trinkets.  Ultimately, I decided on a leather bracelet with gold wing pendants.  It was my effort of playing off the ‘Dark Wings’ episode in Game of Thrones, season 3.  I didn’t get a note from her.  I hope that doesn’t mean she didn’t like her gift.  I more than met the spending limit of $20 and per the rules, I mailed the gift by Dec, 20.  I checked the delivery confirmation and I know it was received.  I really hope she liked it.   And I hate not knowing.

Which is my only negative criticism about the RedditGifts secret Santa.  It’s totally up to the Santa to reveal their identity.  So while, I revealed my information to my giftee –my Santa is still a secret.

I have tried to figure out who my secret Santa was.  But without so much as a username it’s pretty much useless.  If he or she is reading this right now…Merry Christmas and thanks so very much for the gift.

The Next Wave of Superhero Movies

December 16th, 2013 at 1:11 pm by under The Movie Guru, Uncategorized

Hello Blog Readers.  This is Marcus Jackson, the FOX 10 / CW 55 Resident Movie Guru here. 

I remember when I was a kid back in the 1970s and on Saturday mornings myself and my cousins would get up and watch “The Superfriends” on ABC and then later on in the 80s we were watching “Spider-Man”, “The Incredible Hulk”, and “Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends” (Iceman & FireStar) on NBC.  There was a live action version of “Spider-Man” and of course “The Incredible Hulk” starring Bill Bixby as “David Banner” and Lou Ferrigno as “The Hulk”.  In the 90s & 2000s (turn of the century … WOW) Marvel and DC Comics were making their well known cast of characters from the pages of their comic books and graphic novels come to life either in animated form or live action on television.   Now I know this is supposed to be a “Movie” blog.  This is where the real fun begins. 

Now superheroes have been on the big screen since motion pictures became popular in the early stages of film history.  The so-called “serials” used quite a few heroes like Superman, Batman, Captain Marvel (Shazam), and Flash Gordon just to name a few.  In 1978, the movie game changed when Richard Donner directed and Ilya & Alexander Salkind produced Superman: The Movie with Christopher Reeve bringing the “Man of Steel” back to life on the big screen.  In 1989, Tim Burton got the go ahead to bring another DC Comic superhero to life and Michael Keaton starred as the “Dark Knight” in Batman. 

With the success of these two movies and technology becoming more advanced to make movies the world of comic books and superheroes were up for grabs.  In a sense, we were now able to bring our childhood fantasies to life on the big screen.  I did a report a few years about how superhero movies have just popped up all over ever since then.  Just these past few years we have had The X-Men, The Avengers, The Watchmen, and many other DC & marvel Comics characters hit the movie theaters with box office success.  And these past couple of years with Marvel’s The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, Iron Man 3, Man of Steel, The Wolverine, and Thor: The Dark World; Superhero movies have made quite an impact in Hollywood and the movie industry as a whole.  The pantheon of the world of superheroes from both comic book universes is continuing to get everyone excited about what coming out next to a theater near you.


The Next Wave of Superhero Movies coming in 2014 …. Check out these trailers for the following courtesy of IMDb

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 ….. http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi1965008921/

Marvel’s Captain America: The Winter Soldier …. http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi3370297369/

X-Men: Days of Future Past ….. http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi1525524505/  


These are the three main movies from the Marvel Universe and one more anticipated movie from the Marvel Comics campground … Guardians of the Galaxy is getting HUGE buzz.  That would make the Big Winner in the upcoming Superhero Battle Royale to be …. DISNEY!  That because they are the owners of Marvel Studios which have produced these films; except for the Spider-Man franchise which is still produced by SONY Pictures.

And as for the DC Universe, We will check in on them in 2015 with the anticipated “Batman vs. Superman” sequel to Man of Steel.  And with the announcement that Wonder Woman will be in the film; could “Justice League” be in the works and get Warner Brothers studios back in the game?  





Rain on the Way

December 13th, 2013 at 2:57 pm by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Uncategorized

futurecastClouds Increase

Surface high pressure centered over the North Carolina coast pushes further east tonight. A low pressure area and associated cold front in east Texas heads our way into Saturday morning. Our winds will shift to the s’east and increase tonight. Rain is not expected early this evening, but chances do increase to 40% after midnight..

Wet Weekend

Saturday is looking quite wet! Temperatures will be briefly warmer as a front moves in from the south. Expect a high near 72, with an 80% chance of rain. We will see a few embedded thunderstorms. Severe weather is not expected. We are anticipating about an inch of rain, with higher totals along the panhandle. The best chance of rain will be in the morning for Mobile. The rain may linger across the eastern side of the area through Saturday evening.

Colder Sunday

Things should clear out for Sunday. Highs will only be in the mid 50’s. More chilly air is likely Sunday night and Monday. Another light freeze is possible by Sunday night. The weather pattern looks especially quite next week.

Remembering Paul Walker

December 3rd, 2013 at 1:17 pm by under The Movie Guru, Uncategorized

Hello Blog Readers.  This is Marcus Jackson, the FOX 10 / CW 55 Resident Movie Guru here.   

This has been a weekend that defines the word “SHOCKER”.  None so defining this term of vocabulary in the world of Hollywood and the film industry than the announcement of the tragic accidental death of Paul Walker this past Saturday afternoon.  Walker was one of the stars of the very successful “Fast and Furious” movie franchise. 








I know a lot of us know Paul from the Fast and Furious movies; as a matter of fact he was suppose to be back on set this week working on Fast and Furious 7, the final movie for the franchise, but of course the movie is on hold right and he has another project soon to be released called Hours which I’m sure we will hear more about in the coming weeks.  He has also been in some other very popular and critically acclaimed films like Varsity Blues, Pleasantville, Into the Blue, Joy Ride, Running Scared, and Takers.  Like most actors he got his start in television on shows like Diff’rent Strokes, Who’s The Boss, The Young and The Restless, and notably on the TV series Throb in 1987 and guest spots on Highway To Heaven in mid 80s.


But Paul Walker was also man with a big heart and loved working with charities.  During the time of his death he was working with a charity he formed called Reach Out Worldwide to help victims of natural disasters.  I’ve posted a link to the charity here …..https://www.roww.org/  If you would like to help and donate in his honor. 

Death is a part of life, we all know that.  And Death In Hollywood is always a cliché for things to come or happen that we can’t explain at times.  I know that many, many people loved Paul Walker .  I’ve been reading the chatter on the web and other blogs.  Yes the picture of the car after the crash is posted … EVERYWHERE!  But let us not dwell on that.  I hope that we all can remember Paul as a fine actor who had a great career that was still growing.  “F & F 7” was going to be  … and still will be HUGE when they finally decide to continue production.  


He may have lived life …. Fast and Furious on the Big Screen but Paul Walker as we have come to find out and remember him by …. Lived Life To The Fullest in the short time that he was here with us.


This Movie’s On Fire – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire

November 25th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by under The Movie Guru, Uncategorized

Hello Blog Readers.  This is Marcus Jackson, the FOX 10 / CW 55 Resident Movie Guru here.   

I just want to say one thing ….. I’M BACK!  And Boy I Came Back At A Good Time When It Comes To Movies. 

This was a great weekend to go see a good movie and with a payout of $161 Million at the Box Office it was safe to say that “The Odds Were With …” The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  This sequel to last year’s hit film that started the series, The Hunger Games, became the biggest November opening at the movies here in the US … EVER!  It has been getting rave reviews and by the way people were lining up to see it in 2D & IMAX it was well worth the wait. 

I can tell you that fans of the books … like myself … were well pleased with the results of the finished product that hit the Big Screen on this past Thursday.  Yes, the film had some evening showing across the country.  I went to an 8:30pm showing this past Thursday with some family members and made it a Family Movie Night and we all had a great time together.  


Catching Fire is the second adaptation film from the series based on the second book in the series written by Suzanne Collins.  It takes places a few months right after the ending of the last film at the conclusion of the 74th Annual Hunger Games and the “victors” were the tributes from District 12 – Katniss Everdeen & Peeta Mellark.  To the dismay of the head of the Capital, President Snow, because there is only suppose to be “one” victor in a fight to the death but they defied the rules and thus in the process became rebels and a symbol of hope in a world where it was thought that all hope was lost in the games.  But now the odds are not in the favor for the victors because of Katniss’ “Stand Against The System of The Games” President Snow wants her “Eliminated” …. i.e. …. DEAD. 

And not just her but all of the surviving former Victors of the Hunger Games are in danger because of Katniss’ actions.  In Turn, the surviving Victors in all 12 districts become tributes for the 75th Annual Hunger Games.  Thus is the premise for The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.  And according to the Box Office results The Fire Was HOT! 

Click on this link below and check out this trailer from the film courtesy of IMDb …. http://www.imdb.com/video/imdb/vi130262553/ 


And here’s a side note of movie trivia for you – Actor Liam Hemsworth who plays Gale Hawthrone in this movie beat out his actor brother, Chris Hemsworth who plays Thor, Norse God of Thunder & Marvel Comics Avenger in the No# 2 in the country – THOR: The Dark World.  Needless to say, the Hemsworth brothers are on top of the movie universe right now.  That’s the way Hollywood rolls sometimes.


The Hunger Games: Catching Fire is an awesome film and it was worth the wait.  The storyline, the special effects, the costumes and outfits the cast wore, the locations – They did a lot of the filming in Hawaii.  Go check out some of the cast interviews here on the web after you check out the movie.  It could be a nice distraction from the hustle of Thanksgiving holiday dash of Turkey Thursday and Black Friday shopping … well for many stores it’s Black Thursday since they will be open on Thanksgiving Day.   

This is Marcus Jackson, the FOX 10 / CW 55 Resident Movie Guru.  The Holiday Movie Season is in full swing now.  Some Very Good Movies are out and on the way to a theater near you in the coming weeks.  And my sisters, Donna & Jessica, and Adopted Mom, Barbara, our next Family Movie Night – The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug.  Hope to see you all at the movies and Have A Happy Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend!



Teaching multimedia, in real time

November 4th, 2013 at 7:47 pm by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

spring-hill-collegeI enjoy teaching at Spring Hill College, partly because I have a lot of autonomy in what I do.   It was even more fun today, when I willingly ripped up the lesson plan for breaking news.

Word was released during my class that Spring Hill would be getting a new president.  In a hurry.

Past experience taught me that the process often goes like this:

  • Current president announces well in advance that he/she plans to leave.
  • The school forms a search committee to find candidates for the job, often interviewing them off-site.
  • The finalists are quietly brought to campus.
  • An announcement is made.

This time, nothing like that happened.  The announcement was made that the current president was leaving in about a month, and the new president was already in place.  In fact, the new president was the former president. Plus, the school was bringing in a chief operating officer.

This was a teaching opportunity about which a journalism instructor dreams, but almost never happens.  I got to guide the class through developing news, in real time.

We were going to talk about storytelling in a multimedia environment.  And we did, allowing the students to take the lead and put into practice some of the techniques I’ve been teaching all semester.

How should the story be distributed?  Twitter first, then Facebook then the web.

What visual elements?  Reaction from the current/incoming presidents, students, faculty and alums.  Old pictures or videos.  Graphics depicting the college’s financial condition.

Why was the announcement made now?  And on and on…

I finally had to call time, because another class was ready to gather.

Why is teaching rewarding?   For days like this one.


Rain Arrives Late Tonight

October 31st, 2013 at 8:25 pm by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Jason Smith - FOX10 Outdoors, Uncategorized

Facebook: Meteorologist Jason Smith https://www.facebook.com/jasonsmithfox10?fref=ts

Halloween Forecast

Skies are mostly cloudy and temperatures are quite warm tonight! Winds are also very breezy, averaging about 15 mph out of the south with higher gusts. Our radar is mainly clear closer to the coast, with the exception of a few very light showers over Santa Rosa and Okaloosa counties. The main area of rain is just now entering Greene, Washington, and Clarke counties at 8:30pm.. We saw only isolated rain, with temperatures near 70 for the trick or treaters earlier tonight.

Late Tonight & Friday AM Rain

A slow moving cold front, gradually pushes through on Friday. Ahead of this feature, rain chances really ramp up late tonight and Friday. We expect at least an inch of rain with this system in most areas. Heavier rain totals and a more significant severe weather threat will be an issue for areas just to our north & west. We do expect a few strong thunderstorms, however, widespread severe weather is not expected.

The Weekend

The rain will end rather quickly by Friday afternoon. Lows will range from near 50 along I-10 Friday night, to the mid 40’s for the inland locations. Surface ridging will keep things dry through early next week. Highs will remain near 70, with lows in the 40’s through the weekend. Skies will be mostly clear.

Friday Afternoon – T.S. Karen Update

October 4th, 2013 at 3:01 pm by under FOX10 Stormtracker Weather, Uncategorized


Tropical Storm Karen is a medium sized system with winds reduced to 50 mph sustained. Moderate upper level wind shear out of the WSW is keeping the storm from intensifying rapidly. The shear is also helping to bring drier air from the western Gulf into the storm. Despite the marginal upper environment, Karen is moving over very warm waters at 84 degrees. Convection recently redeveloped near the center. Most of the wind is in the northern and eastern sections of the storm, extending out 140 miles. Little strengthening is forecast in the short term. As the system interacts with a cold front, some strengthening is possible on Saturday before reaching land. A slower forward speed and a turn tothe north will occur Saturday. A turn to the northeast, and an increase in forward speed should occur Sunday. Our area is likely to see landfall sometime late Saturday or early Sunday based on the current forecast. A Hurricane Watch may be reduced to a Tropical Storm Watch or Warning soon.

Spotty showers on the far outer edges of Karen, interacting with daytime heating, are showing up along the coast . More outer bands will affect the area late tonight and Saturday as the system gets closer. Tropical storm conditions are likely from Saturday morning until Sunday morning. Rainfall 2”-4”, tides 2’-4’ above normal, and tropical storm force winds near the coast… are the preliminary expectations. A sharp trough will approach the region Sunday. This should eventually send a cold front through the area Sunday night. Much cooler weather is expected by Monday.

Good luck Marcus!

August 7th, 2013 at 7:57 pm by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized

One of our veteran photojournalists, Marcus Powe, left FOX10 to take a job with the Mobile County Public School system.  We will miss his 20 years of experience, but we know our loss will be the gain of his new students at Leflore!

a b d photo 1 photo 2

Lost messages

July 29th, 2013 at 8:15 pm by under FOX10 News, Uncategorized
Pope Francis answers reporters questions during a news conference aboard the papal flight on the journey back from Brazil, Monday, July 29, 2013. Pope Francis reached out to gays on Monday, saying he wouldn't judge priests for their sexual orientation in a remarkably open and wide-ranging news conference as he returned from his first foreign trip. "If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?" Francis asked. His predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests. Francis was much more conciliatory, saying gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten. Francis' remarks came Monday during a plane journey back to the Vatican from his first foreign trip in Brazil. (AP Photo/Luca Zennaro, Pool)

Pope Francis answers reporters questions during a news conference aboard the papal flight on the journey back from Brazil, Monday, July 29, 2013.  Francis’ remarks came Monday during a plane journey back to the Vatican from his first foreign trip in Brazil. (AP Photo/Luca Zennaro, Pool)

In an attempt to find a headline for Pope Francis’ news conference aboard his return flight to Rome from Brazil, reporters mangled the message.

I don’t really blame them; I don’t think it was intentional. But I do believe that when dealing with theology, it’s important to understand context and nuance; these were lacking in most of the reports I read.

The reporters traveling with the Pope (or the editors back home) missed what he actually said, and in this age of instant news that ricochets around the world with the speed of Twitter, the misinterpretation wound up spreading like an out of control virus.

Father Jonathan Morris, who is a Fox News contributor, put it this way:

“….unfortunately, if you were reading the headlines from some media outlets, you would have learned just one thing. As the Huffington Post put it: “Breakthrough: Pope OK with Gays.”

This is the worst coverage of a religious story I have seen to date.

Let’s begin with the fact that the pope has always been ‘OK’ with homosexuals. In fact, by the demands of his own religion he is required to be much more than just ‘OK.’ The Christian faith teaches that every person is endowed by God with an inviolable dignity and therefore deserves our unconditional respect and love.

A section of an Associated Press report also got the story very wrong. Summarizing the pope’s comments on homosexuals in the priesthood, the AP reported: ‘Francis was much more conciliatory [than Pope Benedict], saying gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.’

Pope Francis didn’t say that, and the report is wrong on so many levels.

First of all, it suggests that being gay itself, is a sin. What Pope Francis really said, in response to a reporter’s question about homosexual priests who are living a celibate life was this: ‘If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?’

Pope Francis simply and compassionately reiterated Biblical teaching. The Bible and the Catholic Church have never taught that it is a ‘sin’ to be homosexual. They teach it is a sin to have homosexual sex because it goes against the laws of God’s nature, specifically his plan for human sexuality.

When Pope Francis says ‘who am I to judge’ he is saying—and I think we need to hear more of this from religious leaders—that active homosexuals deserve the same kindness, love, and mercy that all of us sinners would hope to receive from God and from others.

We don’t make judgments about anyone’s personal worth—God has already done that when he created us out of love.”

I have always been a proponent of “beat reporting” – employing journalists who specialize in a particular subject. John Allen of the National Catholic Reporter is an excellent example of someone who deeply understands his subject. Rocco Palmo, who writes a blog called Whispers in the Loggia, is another. In the days when networks made extensive use of beat reporters, Winston Burdett of CBS was a master of religious reporting in Rome.

Assigning reporters who know a little bit about a lot of things doesn’t do our industry, or the public, any favors.