Rapid Eye Reality -- Home of Brad Willis' writing on family life, travel adventures, and life inside the poker world

About Rapid Eye Reality
Poker Papers
Up For Poker Blog
Up For Sports Blog
PokerStars Blog

Currently reading:

2007 Reading List

Barack Obama
Devon Epps
Mt. Otis
Mental Massage
Tiffany Souers
TV News

Blogroll RER

This is a Flickr badge showing public photos from OT!S. Make your own badge here.

Monday, March 31, 2003

Stockholm Syndrome or Mad Max Beyond Ego-Dome, it doesn't matter

As a resident broadcast journalist in your daily blog reads, I feel I should have something to say about NBC's termination of its relationship with the infamous Peter Arnett.

For those who don't closely follow war correspondents' careers, New Zealand-born Peter Arnett is a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist who came to fame during the Vietnam War era. Younger folks probably came to know him during Gulf War 1, when he and the other Boys of Baghdad broadcast live reports from a Baghdad Under Bombs. Later in that short war, he became persona non grata in American military circles after reporting Americans had bombed a baby milk factory. The U.S. military said it was a strategic military site.

Arnett re-emerged in 1998 as the face and voice of a controversial (and ultimately inaccurate) CNN story that accused Americans of using serin nerve gas during Vietnam. The producers of the story were fired, and Arnett recevied a fairly public reprimand.

As Gulf War II began, Arnett came back to life, reporting for National Geographic and, essentially, freelancing for NBC. When other reporters were getting kicked out of the country or arrested, he continued to broadcast. Unfortunately for NBC and the future of Arnett's career, he also provided Iraqi state-run TV with an interview. He told interviewers in Iraqi miliatry uniforms that America's first battle plan had failed due to an unexpectedly strong Iraqi resistance.

The veracity of that statement will be debated for a long time. My guess is, Arnett has no independent verification of it. That makes it unreportable in my book. And to say it on the propoganda arm of the Iraqi government serves little purpose other than to encourage more Iraqi resistance.

One of three things happened here: 1) Iraqis held an RPG to Arnett's head and told him to say it. 2) Arnett has a twitching case of Stockholm Syndrome... or 3) Arnett's ego took about a week and a half to over-inflate and allow him to believe his opinion and analysis were more important than the basic tenets of journalism.

NBC faced a huge loss in crediblity and did the right thing by severing its ties with Arnett.

The worst thing any journalist can do right now is wave a flag...American or Iraqi.

Arnett will now find himself back under the New Zealand flag and it is unlikely you'll see him on an American TV outlet ever again.

Thursday, March 27, 2003


There's this old Little Feat song that Lowell George wrote. It's been covered a number of times. Right now, I've got a Steve Earle version of it in my CD player. The chorus is the kind of poetry I like to hear.

I've been from Tucson to Tucumcari
Tehachapi to Tonopah
Driven every kind of rig that's ever been made
Driven the backroads so I wouldn't get weighed
And if you give me weed, whites and wine
And you show me a sign
And I'll be willin' to be movin'

It is--on its face--a truck driving song. But more than that, it is a traveler's mantra. And probably a little more than that.

The song's little burgs are more than alliteration. They symbolize the towns that are more departure points than destinations. Yet the song's driver has seen them all.

Tonopah, NV is an old silver mining town halfway between Reno and Vegas. It is surrounded by ghost towns. It's a place you will likely never drive through, let alone stop to visit. In fact, it probably could've gone the rest of this year without a single mention in a newspaper outside of Nevada...if it weren't for one man.

Marine 2nd Lt. Frederick E. Pokorney Jr. graduated from Tonopah High in 1989. He was a high school football player, the kind that was good enough to play, but not good enough to play outside Tonopah. So, he joined the Marines.

He died Sunday in an Iraqi ambush near An Nasiriyah.

The young Marine was a traveler who was, in short, willin'.

We all tend to assign some greater meaning to songs that were more than likely written to just be sung. But as I drive home tonight, I'll probably think of that guy from Tonopah.

If anything, it helps me remember that however we feel about the war, it shouldn't cloud how we feel about the people who fight it. They come from the forgotten towns that we all ran away from. Their travels just took them to a different place.

Sunday, March 23, 2003


We're looking for it...internally and externally. This weekend, I sought out something to cool my insides. I found it in the front yard of Mt. Willis. It's called Spring.

We should never forget what is happening in other places. But we should also not ignore what's going bwteen our front steps and the street. We achieve peace in other places so we can appreciate peace in our front yard.

I can't say what is right and wrong in other places. That judgement has to come from somewhere else. But I know what is right at home. That's about all the peace I can find right now. And I'm happy I can appreciate it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2003


Outside my window, the wind screams like an air raid siren. Lightning flashes in the sky. Thunder rumbles in the distance. At times, the entire house sounds like it will implode on itself. It is the first real storm of South Carolina spring.

On my TV set, Peter Arnett is watching the skies over Iraq. The President's spokesman just announced our nation's leader will speak to the country and world in about ten minutes.

It seems the rumbles, flashes, and wails will not be limited to my little mountain in the Blue Ridge foothills.

May both storms pass quickly.

One last trivial matter...

In a matter of nine or ten hours, this won't matter, as we'll be in the middle of something less than trivial. It probably doesn't matter now. However, in an effort to bring full disclosure to an industry in which I have no stake, I feel like we need to get on the record with this.

You've probably heard the poem "Nobody Knows It But Me." James Garner reads it in the new Chevy Tahoe commercial. It's nice. Garner reads it very well. Posts on e-message baords on the internet have been raving about how wonderful the poem is. By all accounts, including the poet's, the words come from the pen of Patrick O'Leary, a lesser known science fiction writer who also does some copy work for the ad agency Campbell-Ewald.

O'Leary--on his web site--notes how familiar the poem must sound to people. He writes: "No, you didn't hear it when you were a child. Your Grandmother didn't read it to you. Or your Grandpa or your Dad. But I know what you mean: it was written to capture that childlike carefree sense of wonder and adventure."

Now, to call this plagarism would be incorrect. However, let's be serious. "Nobody Knows It But Me?" Of course it sounds familiar. It is the title and hook line to one of the greatest break-up songs of all time. First recorded by the Tony Rich Project and later covered by...um...Babyface, "Nobody Knows It But Me" has been around for quite some time. In fact a quick search by my country music researcher, Uncle Ted, reminded me that bald country crooner Kevin Sharp recorded the song as well. That's not to mention the old Johnny Cash song "Long Black Veil" that contains the line "Nobody Knows But Me."

And then there is this line... "And wherever you are going , That's wherever you are." I've searched and searched, but can't find the original source for it. But it goes without saying that this phrase or a version of it shows up way too often in graduation speeches and yearbook signings.

So, Mr. O'Leary has done a nice job of taking a few well-known lines penned by others and fusing them with a few lines of his own. Bravo.

I once had an English teacher who said there only about 20 stories and its a writers job to find interesting ways to re-tell them. I guess the same thing is true of poetry.

Remind me to work Felcher and Sons into my next verse.

Monday, March 17, 2003

Brinksmanship and a fat lip

Twenty years from now, my as-yet unconceived child will ask what I was doing when the war of 2003 began. The kid will likely look at me with a cocked head when I say I was only trying to keep my bottom lip from falling off.

A more spiritual man might have taken my little try at unconciousness as a sign from above. My father has already once referred to it as a "spell." I'm pretty sure only people over 70 have spells. I blacked out and fell on my face. Even when I'm 76 I won't admit to having spells.

In less than 30 hours I have graduated to solid food, but nothing that requires the use of my front teeth. Molars only. I skipped work today and spent a few hours watching the first of many talking heads ruminating about the impending war.

I'm wondering if my tete-a-tete with the carpet knocked more than my lower face astray. As hard as I try (and believe me, I'm trying) I can get neither excited nor worried about the possiblity of war, retaliation, victory, or defeat. It just doesn't seem real.

There comes a great burden with being the world's only superpower. I figure a healthy part of that burden is knowing when to go and when to stay home. I don't have that answer.

A man of thought (as I like to consider myself) should have some opinion or feeling about his country leading a charge to war. I feel incredibly shallow for feeling very little in the way of anxiety or patriotic fervor.

Perhap when my as-yet unconceived child turns 20, there will be no need for war.

That's a nice thought. But, I'm sure when my dad's buddies were stuck in Vietnam 30 years ago, he was probably saying the same thing about his as-yet unconceived child's potential world.

If that doesn't cause a spell in the heartiest of men, I don't know what will.

Sunday, March 16, 2003

Orthostatic Hypotension

I made it through nearly 30 years of my life without ever fainting or requiring stiches. In a mere 20 seconds this morning I accomplished both.

I sit here without the use of my lower lip. I have several stitches in my mouth and chin (the wife says it looks like I've grown a fashionable soul patch). And I feel a little silly.

I was feeling a little under the weather last night and decided to sleep on the couch out of courtesy to my wife (I'd been coughing, hacking, sniffling, and pondering the possibilities of my contracting the new super-pneumonia). When she got up this morning, I decide to go upstairs to bed. I stood up, jogged up the stairs (as I usually do), and woke up on my face, bleeding and confused.

Apparently I passed out. I don't really remember that part. It was apparently a pretty bad case of that head rush I sometimes get when I stand up too quickly. Apparently my movements were a little quicker than my body's ability to shoot blood to my brain.

It could've been worse. I could've hit my head. However, it could've been much better, too. The impact made the skin between my chin and mouth explode. I had a complete hole from the outside of my face into my mouth. I could put a straw in it and suck up a Smoothie if it didn't hurt so much (mmmm....smoothie) and the doctor hadn't stitched it up.

The bad pain comes from the rip inside my mouth. Do this: pull down your lower lip and identify that delicate skin that connects the lip to the lower gum. No imagine a two inch rip all the way across that. Ow.

So, I have stiches there too. I have to rinse with a peroxide/water mix every few hours. I'm on antibiotics to prevent infection (which the doc says is a pretty good possibility). I can't chew anything, so I'm on a liquid diet (so far, soup and pudding). And since I can't wrap my lower lip around a glass, I'm drinking everything through a straw.

On the upside, my cough went away.

Wednesday, March 12, 2003

I've always belived in marigolds

I sometimes stumble after eating Chinese food. I may be allergic to MSG. My head gets a little swimmy, like when you suck the "air" out of a whipped cream cannister. It may go a long way toward explaining why I thought I heard Elizabeth Smart's uncle say, "I've always believed in marigolds."

Miracles, of course, was what he actually said.

Believing in marigolds as I do, I gave the man a hearty "good show, man" and "who took the picture of little Richard?" They are things I say when I don't have a worthy response.

I'm not downstairs watching the Elizabeth Smart coverage right now for one reason: I've figured out why 24-hour television makes me sick. It's not that journalists are asking the wrong questions or that the journalists are idiots (well, not all of them anyway). It's that we have to watch them make the sausage.

In the days before 24-hour news, America waited for journalists to sift through what was relevant. News-consumers waited for the newsies to make the sausage. In the end, the product was a lot better. We didn't have to hear the cult expert talk about whether Smart was brainwashed. We didn't have to hear the shrink talk about whether Smart will be able to recover from her months in captivity.

We waited for the journalists to ask the tough questions on tape, edit out what's irrelevant, then present us with the good stuff.

Maybe it's that I make sausage for a living. Maybe it's that. But I dream of a time when speculation is relegated back to the shadows where it belongs. All journalists are forced to speculate. However, it's not news until the journalist's speculation somehow realizes itself.

Yes, I dream of a time...

And I, too, have always believed in marigolds.

Monday, March 10, 2003


No...I'm not going to be a daddy. Nothing quite so earth-shattering.

Regardless, it seems significant enough to talk about here.

It's hard to write this without seemingly falsely modest or overly boastful. So, I'll leave it at this: I won an award. People tell me its pretty important. I don't know how much of that is true, but from what I can tell, Peter Jennings won it in 2000 and Ted Koppel won it in 2001.

This is the article that ran on the Associated Press wire this afternoon.

I'm still trying to figure out if there has been a clerical error of some sort. So...more later.

Four years

Editor's note: Just about 45 minutes after posting this, my life got much, much stranger. As soon as I am able, I'll tell you why.

I was born in the middle of a blinding snowstorm on the fourth day of December. Though I don't hold a great deal of fascination with numerology, my birthday and tendency to gamble often leads to my belief in something significant about the number four.

Four years ago at this time I made one of the best and most frightening decisions of my life. I quit my job and planned to move to a place I'd never seen or considered to be real. I had no promise of employment. I feared being a fairly well-educated waiter for the forseeable future. It was exhilarating, but quite scary.

Then a funny thing happened. Everything worked out. I was offered a good job I didn't really deserve. I signed what appeared at the time to be a fairly lucrative and lengthy contract. I spent three years discovering the job was everything it was cracked up to be, even if the money later proved to be less than substantial. I was happy in just about every way.

The fourth year has proved to be a little unsettling. For reasons too many to outline here, the last 365 days have felt a lot like my final year in college, and to some degree like my final year in high school. Each passing month feels like another step toward an uncertain future. Whereas the previous three years held the promise of another year of generalized happiness, this year holds little more than questions about what my life will hold in 364 days.

Add to all this the fact that by this time next week our nation will be in the middle of something I don't truly understand. Simply put, I'm really damned confused.

I am fascinated by the number four. I work for a TV station--Channel 4. Three beers, too many. Four, not enough.

And somehow, like the weather reports at my TV station, my life changes on the fours.

I only wish the jet stream offered some clue as to what the forecast holds.

Advertisting inquiries to:
blackjack terminology
New canadian casino online poker web, which is owned by 888 casino announced launching before a few months. They are focusing only on Canadians and their specific needs (e.g. payment methods etc.),so you are able to play online games such as poker comfortably in your national background.

August 2001
September 2001
October 2001
November 2001
December 2001
January 2002
February 2002
March 2002
April 2002
May 2002
June 2002
July 2002
August 2002
September 2002
October 2002
November 2002
December 2002
January 2003
February 2003
March 2003
April 2003
May 2003
June 2003
July 2003
August 2003
September 2003
October 2003
November 2003
December 2003
January 2004
February 2004
March 2004
April 2004
May 2004
June 2004
July 2004
August 2004
September 2004
October 2004
November 2004
December 2004
January 2005
February 2005
March 2005
April 2005
May 2005
June 2005
July 2005
August 2005
September 2005
October 2005
November 2005
December 2005
January 2006
February 2006
March 2006
April 2006
May 2006
June 2006
July 2006
August 2006
September 2006
October 2006
November 2006
December 2006
January 2007
February 2007
March 2007
April 2007
May 2007
June 2007
July 2007
August 2007
September 2007
October 2007
November 2007
December 2007
January 2008
February 2008
Current Posts
    Creative Commons License

Rapid Eye Reality is the personal blog of writer Brad Willis, aka Otis.
All poker stories, travelogues, food writing, parenting and marriage advice, crime stories, and other writing should be taken with a grain of salt. It is also all protected under a Creative Commons license