Archive for the ‘Extracurricular’ Category

2009: Hu’s Looking Back

December 26, 2009

As we prepare to celebrate a new beginning, let’s continue the newly-old tradition of looking back at the year that was. (I don’t think I’ll ever achieve the same pair of “new experiences” from 2005 — the Daytona 500 and that one KKK cross burning. Oh well). We’ll start chronologically and then lose all sense of chronology since my memory just isn’t that stout.

Skipping stones on the Danube River with brother Roger

Never made any new year’s resolutions.
Covered the election of a new Texas House Speaker.
Bought April a fat, happy puppy after scoundrels broke into her house and stole (or let escape) her Maltese, Frankie.
Met two beautiful newborns in the same week.
Got engaged.
Quit my job.
Found a new job.
Helped launched a public media brand with some of the coolest geeks around.
Embraced my love of Twitter.
Spoke at  a dozen panels, meetings and college classes, mostly about Twitter.
Won an award for using Twitter.
Took a trip to Washington, D.C.
Took a trip to Philadelphia.
Took three separate trips to Europe.
Got my home burglarized (again).
Got a photo with Kevin Nealon.
Got a photo with Cheryl Hines.
Got a photo with the dude who played Lawrence in Office Space.
Saw Pearl Jam live, finally.
Celebrated the beagle’s 11th birthday.
Hosted my friend Drew from New York three times.
Said goodbye to my friend Craven, who moved to New York.
Led my Fantasy Football league, until a five game losing streak at the worst time in the season.
Co-hosted two baby showers for my girlfriends.
Got car broken into (again).
Made a bunch of videos.
In a rare fit of motion, ran two half-marathons at the beginning of the year and a full marathon at the end of it, miraculously without getting injured. Well, besides those two times I tripped and fell on concrete – one time in my neighborhood, the other time down by the Danube River.
Finished 2009 with full resolve to not make any resolutions next year, either.


The Tiger Takeaway

December 9, 2009

The Tiger Woods saga-scandal continues this week, and by week’s end it’s safe to say none of us will be surprised to see another mistress – or ten – emerge. I have a day job that keeps me busy, but exploring the kaleidoscope of topics that come with the Tiger Woods story has become pretty much my favorite pastime of late. (Because face it, folks. Running sucks.)

Enter my old Mizzou pal Drew, who I affectionately call Drewbie, because I like to add an “ee” sound at the end of “ee” appropriate names. (This is also Matty’s plight.) Usually I complain to him about my fantasy team. Today we talked Tiger. A lot. Here are Drew’s various takeaways from Tiger’s tale of woe, conveniently in a somewhat chronological form.

1.) Tiger in accident? Yikes.

When the crash first happened it was serious news. The reaction was, oh my gosh, Tiger has been in a major accident. Then it was a minor accident. Then we learn his wife had to punch out windows to free him. This sounds curious on its face. How does that skinny woman pull a large guy out of a large car?

Then you find out he hit a tree and fire hydrant. The second reaction here is, this is not a good story for GM. “GM is always telling me about its ON STAR system, but a it appears a disembodied voice did not talk, assume control of car and call for safety,” Drew says.

2.) Getting to Know Tiger

This guy so closely guarded his private life that he refused to reveal what beverage he chose to drink out of the Ryder Cup upon winning it. But suddenly, because of this rapidly unfolding scandal, we get to know Tiger! After the accident, we learn about call from neighbor.

“Oh snap! Tiger has a black neighbor! I didn’t think this guy would have black person living within twenty miles of him, and he has a black guy living right next to him,” Drew says.

But think about it a little harder. Tiger lives on some sort of estate, right? Whatever happened must have happened in a loud, spectacular way in order for the neighbor to know about it and call 911.

3.) The Discovery of Infidelity and/or Domestic Violence

OK, why did wife Elin need to bash in a window, really? The idea of domestic violence enters the picture. WHAT is it that she is pissed off about? Then we learn the National Enquirer has an infidelity story. (This is around the time I become a regular reader of, which really became the go-to blog for the latest Tiger information.) Now, I know there are some areas in which the National Enquirer cannot be trusted, but for the record I believed them on that John Edwards love child story from the beginning. Here we were again with a powerful guy with mistress story, it was safe for both Drew and myself to follow their reporting. Especially if we were reloading TMZ most of the time, anyhow.

“Then we find out another crucial fact,” Drewbie points out. “That Tiger likes women. Tiger is such a neutral, emotionless, passionless robot most of the time that I had no idea that he had cravings of the flesh! That he was into carnage! You see other athletes and their performance and you get the idea that this or that guy owns his masculinity, has a swagger to him. Tiger had none of that going on.”

4.) Lesson Learned: Scandinavian women are not to be messed with.

“The more this story comes together, the more you realize this is not the heroic act of a wife,” Drew continues.

In fact, I think this is about the time in our conversation when Drew referenced something like 5,000 years of Viking fury that beat Tiger within an inch of his life. She deserves our respect for holding her husband accountable with a big stick.

5.) Women out of the woodwork

This is the part of the story where I can’t really keep up because I’ve been editing video or calling sources or otherwise doing something productive (not that this is not a fascinating and legitimate story in its own right). OK so let’s review. The first mistress woman denies any affairs, but immediately hires LA power attorney Gloria Allred. It seems mistress #1 won’t be saying anything to us.


Enter the second one, Jaimee Grubbs. “She’s my favorite of the ten or eleven women,” Drew says. “If you wanted to brand the kind of woman that Tiger likes, you could say it in one word: Grubbs. That is exactly what he is after. This is the one who’s previous claim to fame was being on the VH1 show, “Tool Academy.  I love that. She’s clearly intent on building on the Jamie Grubbs brand. She immediately takes her story public. Not only have a slept with Tiger Woods, I have the electronic paper trail to prove it. And my god, if this voicemail message isn’t the greatest thing ever.” (Listening to it is better.)

Hey, it’s Tiger. I need you to do me a huge favor. Can you please take your name off your phone? My wife went through my phone and may be calling you. So if you can, please take your name off that. Just have it as a number on the voicemail, just have it as your telephone number. You got to do this for me. Huge. Quickly. Bye.

This is Tiger truly speaking from the heart. Not some sort of practiced statement. We’re learning not only of his neighbor, but of his game. Game-game, not golf game.  “And the directions that she’s giving this woman. How does that help him out at all? This is clearly the ramblings of a desperate man.” This is the part where Drew felt sympathetic for Tiger, in the same way we all kinda felt sympathetic for Mark Sanford after all those nonsense love letters came out.  “No man should have to read his love letters in the newspaper,” Drew says.

I’m not sure this was the part where I felt bad for Tiger. I don’t really feel that bad for him, as I feel all the intrigue right now is partly his own doing by a.)protecting his privacy so fiercely that now EVERYTHING we learn about him is somehow a shocking revelation and b.) He’s the one who hooked up with all those women and betrayed his family. We can debate the need for marriage as an institution and the lack of merits for marriage in modern times, etc etc, but if dude wanted more freedom, he didn’t HAVE TO get married and have babies. Nevermind c.) The guy’s a public figure.

6.) Feeding Frenzy

Grubbs is the first to go public and go for the cash grab. BTW, it’s amazing she kept every voicemail and other communication because it shows she was prepared for this moment since she met Tiger. Clearly, this pisses off mistress #1. Press conference at 2:30pm.

While we’re waiting for all that, something like three or four women come out, “each one getting progressively worse on the hotness scale” (his words, not mine).  All of them fit the standard Grubbs archetype: the Vegas cocktail waitress, barmaid, nightclub hostess. Tiger has certainly pegged a certain type of women.

“When he feels down, [NFL quarterback] Vince Young watches 2006 national college football championship to remind himself who he is. Maybe Tiger should have done that. Maybe he should have put in the tape of the 1997 Masters or the 2008 PGA Championship. You have a billion dollar [part of the male anatomy] and you are effing these dollar store [something that rhymes with no’s]. He went very low down on the food chain,” Drew says.

Which bring us to…the woman from Perkins the pie restaurant.

“To be TIGER WOODS and to take your wife to a place where the golf course greenskeeper employees dont take their wives to eat, seems a bit odd to me To take youre swedish supermodel wife to Perkins for breakfast regularly?”

7.) Assorted takeaways

Tiger crashes into a fire hydrant in the middle of the night and now we get to learn all kinds of stuff about the guy within a period of two weeks. These are things we never assumed. Now we know he as a black neighbor. He likes cheap women, easy women. He likes to meet them in Vegas or in Perkin’s. And I also know that Tiger has an allergy to condoms. There’s no excuse for why this guy did not know better. And if your “game” is repeatedly cheating on your wife and subsequently maintaining regular relationships with the mistresses, just to cover his trail he should have covered up.  Just to be safe!

“That had me distressing. That had me jumping to conclusions about why mom went to the hospital,” said Drew.

Meanwhile, what do we make of the kind of women Tiger has been cavorting around with? YOU ARE TIGER WOODS. Shouldn’t we expect Woods to be hanging out with Rihanna?

8.) The Rise of Tabloids

So to review, this is a news story, a gossip story, a sports story, and it’s a business story because the guy’s a global brand. He’s the governor of a billion dollar enterprise. It’s everything. That latex allergy thing was when the wheels of this story really came off for me, but who knows what we can believe? We’re all trusting news organizations that PAY for their sources and stories. This is troubling for us as journalists who do not pay for news in a host of ways, which we can probably save for a separate post.

But quickly here – as journalists who don’t pay, we play other cards to get information, like cunning. Or the put-truth-before-your-own-self-interests card. The News of the World and Enquirer and even US Weekly, from what I understand, they play the we’ll-give-you-$150,000 card. This is why the Associated Press only acknowledges the first two mistresses and is holding off on the last seven, cause they can’t independently confirm them. If you can’t source it you have to say, “the Daily News has added these people, etc.” How do you stay in a story without opeining your wallet? All these outlets are paying.

9.) Looking Ahead: Are we in David Duchovny territory?

“Jaimee Grubbs is… I’m sorry. I could get with Jaimee Grubbs,” Drew says. “The fact that Tiger did this… Tiger and I should not be competing for the same pool of women.”


October 6, 2009

Outrage! I started a new personal blog only to abandon it for professional pursuits. At least for the last few weeks, that is. Everyone at the new office is working nonstop to be ready for our November 3rd launch, so, you know how it goes.


We are allowed to have weekends, though. Last weekend was one of the bigger ones in Austin, because it was the annual ritual where 90,000 people converge on a lush, green lawn to listen to hundreds of bands play three days worth of live music. A drenching rain on Saturday turned the newly-turfed Zilker Park lawn into a thick, sewage-infused mud sludge, so thick you’d easily lose your shoes to it and be forced to wander the open swamp barefoot. (Note someone’s Crocs casualty, pictured. And let me digress to argue that losing your Crocs is perhaps not a casualty at all.)

Barefoot did me in. Sometime between Raul Malo or Ben Harper and before Michael Franti, something sharp pierced the arch of my foot, then made a three-inch-long lateral cut I didn’t get to see for several hours, because a.)my feet and legs were buried under several layers of mud and b.)I had to stay to see Pearl Jam, because, come on.

One tetanus shot and many bandages later, I’m in pain every time my foot hits the ground. Like the man sings: “Lifetimes are catching up… with me…”

Back in the USA

September 15, 2009
With mom in Budapest.

With mom in Budapest.

We lost constant internet connectedness for the last week as we traveled Germany, Austria, Slovakia and Hungary by cruising down the Danube River. While we managed to check our emails once a day, not being tethered to the iPhone and other communications devices was a welcome break. I instead relished human connectedness – the kind with my family, the kind all too rare now that my mom, dad and brother are spread out across the globe.

The flights proved exhausting and frustrating as usual (but at least I didn’t have to spend the night in a baggage claim like that one night on the way back from China in 2007). Loved the Hungarians. One of our guides explained that being on the losing side of every war since the 17th century makes the people quite authentic and realistic — something that made us want to go back to Budapest, or as the locals say, Budapescht, quite soon.

Travel log:
Passau, Germany
Wachau Valley, Austria (includes cities of Melk and Dunstein)
Vienna, Austria
Budapest, Hungary
Esztergom, Hungary
Sturovo, Slovak Republic (just across the border from Esztergom)
Bratislava, Slovak Republic
Grein, Austria
Linz, Austria

And without further delay… the PHOTOS!!!

Europe Sept 09

Donau-ing It

September 8, 2009

This may be the only blogpost I get up this week, since we’re slowing floating down the Danube River in a skinny boat full of German senior citizens. Mom/Dad/brother Roger/Roger’s girlfriend and Mr. Stiles are all here; today we’re in Vienna, yesterday we were in the vinyeards of the Wachau Valley.

Internet access from the boat costs 40 euro an hour so we decided to live without it this week, with the exception of this current sojourn into a Viennese coffee shop to get amped up on caffeine and get a wifi fix.

Vienna’s shockingly beautiful — much like Paris but a totally different feel. Went on a long run along the Danube this morning and things were going well until my brother Roger joined and I suddenly tripped over a metal hook thing jutting out of the concrete. Bit it. Hard. But managed to not-seriously injure myself.

Should mention that the best part of this place, for me. Hot dog stands. Everywhere.

Thanks @austinchronicle!

September 3, 2009

The long-awaited Austin Chronicle Best of Austin 2009 awards are out, and I’m amused and honored to win in a category for tweeting. (Love me some co-winners Reagan and Flener, too. Rock on with your social media selves, boys.) And thank you, Austin Chronicle critics!

Best Televised Tweeters: Matt Flener, Reagan Hackleman, and Elise Hu
Twitter offers endless opportunities for info, elucidation, and, yes, embarrassment. But three local TV journalists have embraced the format wholeheartedly: city-beat reporters Matt Flener and Reagan Hackleman and Lege watchdog Elise Hu. KXAN’s Flener can be found on Twitter teasing stories and sussing out interviews; News 8’s Hackleman expertly balances his personal and professional Tweets; and we’re looking forward to tons more 140-character dispatches from Hu as she leaves KVUE for the new journalism nonprofit Texas Tribune.;;

That Damn Squirrel!

August 17, 2009

One of the hottest internet sensations lately is the photo crashing squirrel, who might have received more news coverage in recent days than the Iraq War.


A ground squirrel showed up in the foreground of this shot after the couple set the timer on their camera for a picture of them in Banff National Park.

The original has now spawned thousands of parodies — the crasher squirrel with Wyatt Earp, Mick Jagger, the Muppets, you name it. And just last weekend, our friend was taking some engagement photos for us when the effort was thwarted by a pesky little stranger…

austin_squirrel _crasher-2

If I Could Turn Back Time…

August 4, 2009

Every so often I regret the wrong turns I took in my halcyon days of youth. Misguided decisions, unfounded conclusions, and that distracting crush on my 12th grade economics teacher (though I became a whiz in the principles of Macro and Micro Economics.)

Lo and behold, a chance to relive my high school days came in the mail  yesterday. Next summer, I can go on a trip across Europe with other promising high school students from the “greater Austin area”!

See the full letter


July 31, 2009

Celebrated Chineseness on Thursday.

Mom was concerned about selecting an auspicious wedding date, which is apparently important in Chinese tradition. So she checked our selected date against Chinese almanacs and the universe said it was acceptable. (Thank God, cause I already begged, stole and borrowed to nab photographer Channing away from other couples on the now-auspicious date.) somedudesmall

That night, a new banquet hall/dim sum restaurant opened in  North Austin and I made the trek to eat some fried tofu. And shrimp dumplings. And Peking duck. And BBQ pork buns. Stiles couldn’t make it so my friend J-Dehn stepped in (because who turns down fried tofu?). He even donned a Matt Stiles nametag.

That move wound up causing some, uh, confusion. Like when the Statesman entertainment writer saw us and got a picture for his blog. At first he captioned Justin as Matt, and when corrected he changed it to this awesome moniker… (Click to enlarge)