Friday, June 24, 2016

The Holland Tunnel

It's funny what can trigger a memory.  It's even funnier when a not so humorous event can make you smile.

At the risk of being politically incorrect, it's time for a story.

Three people were charged this week, after they were found in a truck filled with guns, entering the NY/NJ Holland Tunnel.  They said they were out to rescue a teenager who was using drugs in New York City.

Flash back to Marywood College, Scranton, PA in the late 70's and early 80's.  A classmate repeatedly called one of her friends the "Holland Tunnel."  The implication was that there was nothing between her ears.  It was done to be cute, not mean.  We all got a chuckle out of it, including the target of the nickname.

It might have been true in personal affairs and "real life."  In school, especially our communications major, I thought she was pretty sharp.  She was also a delightful woman, a joy to be around.

What is "The Holland Tunnel" doing now?  She's an executive with a clothing company in another state, and makes enough money to buy and sell her classmates.

So, there!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thinking Out Loud

The Wyoming Valley RiverFest is set for this weekend, along the banks of the Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre.

It sounds strange to say this at a time the Wyoming Valley is marking the 44th anniversary of the Tropical Storm Agnes flood, but the Wilkes-Barre area is lucky.  It has a spectacular venue to hold RiverFest.  The park looks great, and it's just a couple of blocks from the stores, bars, and restaurants in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

There is a Lackawanna RiverFest every spring.  It is a much smaller event, just one day.  After all, the Lackawanna is a much smaller river, and there is no venue like what Wilkes-Barre has.

Let's brainstorm for a moment.  Lackawanna County seems intent on starting a county fair.  The county has formed a committee to study it.  People have already been whispering in my ear that it's almost a done deal.  It could start as early as 2018.

Where?  I've heard a couple of locations kicked around.  I'm underwhelmed.  You need a lot of land, and the potential locations aren't the easiest things to reach.

Brainstorming:  Wouldn't it be nice to clear a big piece of land for the Lackawanna County Fair, near the river,  and make it accessible to other groups, like RiverFest, so it could expand into a multi day event?  I have a couple of ideas.  They're not easy, and I'm guessing they are rather unlikely.

I can dream.  Bloomsburg does it right.  You have the fair in September.  On other weekends, the fair grounds is in use for outdoors shows, car shows, home builder shows, etc.  Lackawanna County can do the same.  Just find the land, and find the money.  Just make it accessible, close to the river, and close to a city or borough that can benefit from the traffic.  It's a tall order, but it just might be do-able.

I can't neglect the other side of the argument.   You can say the job of county government is to provide services, not entertainment.  There are a lot of things higher up on the priority scale.  You can't forget that a county fair stands the risk of siphoning off money from firemen's carnivals, church picnics, and assorted other bazaars.

It's just something to think about on a summer day.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Spinning Out of Control

I'm sure we've had more tumultuous times in our history, but the last few weeks really makes you stop and wonder.

I'm listening to an all news radio station out of Philadelphia as I write this.

Homicides, gun thefts, drought, fires, dysfunctional government on several levels, cheating members of congress, cheating Olympic athletes, deadly crashes, deadly fires, massive storms, a fragile economy, fraud, cyber crime, viruses, illness, product recalls, political turmoil...

On the other hand, we have new batches of young high school and college graduates, eager to go out and change the world.  We have public service agencies that are always willing to lend a hand.  There are honest athletes who are proud to represent their nations.

Yes, we all deal with train wrecks on a daily basis.  There are times it's hard to see beyond that.  It really gets you down.  It makes you want to close the curtains, turn up the air conditioning, turn out the lights, and shut out this troubled planet.

Hard as you try, you just can't do that.  You have to live.  And work.  And survive.

This is one of those meandering blog entries that comes to no real logical answer.  No brilliant conclusions.

As I'm fond of saying, it's just one foot in front of the other.  Maybe tomorrow will be a better day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tuesday Scrapple

I'm not an NBA fan, but the Cleveland Cavaliers victory is simply a good story.

It's too hot.  The only time I like the heat these days is when I ride my bike and work up a tremendous sweat.

I dipped in and out of the FOX Sports coverage of the U.S. Open over the weekend, and I thought it was pretty good.  Some of the purists are still upset that a network other than NBC and CBS does golf.  Get over it.

This is the time of year when I usually note the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders are near the bottom of the International League when it comes to attendance.  This season, so far, the local team is in the middle of the pack.  That's a very good thing considering this is the smallest of the International League's cities.

Still haven't been to Primanti's.  Still haven't been to Chipotle.  I've been meaning to visit for quite a while, but I just can't make the time.

I haven't hit a firemen's carnival or church picnic in years.  Maybe 2016 will be my year.

I've topped 1,600 Twitter followers.  Thank you.

44 years since Tropical Storm Agnes hit Pennsylvania.  Those images are burned in to my mind.

Don't ask me why, but EZ Pass still fascinates me, and it's still a kick to breeze through a toll booth.

Monday, June 20, 2016

No Thanks

An OJ Simpson mini series recently aired on one of the broadcast channels.

Another one just finished a multi part OJ Simpson documentary.

I didn't watch, and I don't intend to watch.  Not now.  Never.  Never ever.

I understand both the mini series and documentaries are really good.  It doesn't matter.

The OJ Simpson saga sickened me back then.  Time hasn't dimmed my nausea.

In addition to the absolutely horrendous crime, there was the trial.  That trial was marked by an inept and bungling prosecution, along with an incompetent judge.  the skilled defense team knew how to take advantage of both.

Simpson was found not guilty at the criminal trial, but liable for the deaths of Nicole Simpson and
Ron Goldman.  OJ is now doing jail time for an unrelated robbery.

Any time the courts misfire, I try to think of two things.

First, it's a court of law, not a court of justice.

Second, a trial is not a search for the truth.  It's a judgement of evidence.

Most of the time, things like that help me process controversial verdicts.

Not this time.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Andy's Angles: McDade Park

Another one from McDade Park in Scranton...

It was a beautiful day up there. 

As I was exiting, buses of kids from the Scranton School District were entering.  Bravo!  A trip to McDade Park is educational and fun at the same time.  I wish the teachers at my school were motivated back in the day.  In all fairness, McDade Park was in its infancy back then.

I do remember a junior high field trip to Tarrytown, NY.  I blew it off.  It was more time than I wanted to spend with teachers and classmates.

I'm sure the Scranton kids came away from their McDade Park trip informed and entertained.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Andy's Angles: Miners

I had a photography itch the other day, and only a short time to scratch it.  McDade Park in Scranton seems to be a decent destination.

Above is the miners' memorial near the entrance.

It's great that there is something to honor all the miners did for the area.

However, it always drives me crazy that whenever there is a "name the sports team" contest, "Miners" is always at the top of the list.  I like statues and other ways to honor heritage.  Sticking a sports team with the "Miners" name seems, in my book, to reinforce the old coal town image our area has.  Thankfully, the people who run the sports teams have been going in other directions.

Friday, June 17, 2016


Today is my 18th anniversary at WNEP.

As I've said in this space many times before, I am lucky beyond belief.

This isn't my accomplishment.  It's yours.

I wouldn't be here if you didn't watch.

Thank you.

I'll see you tomorrow.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


ABC has a To Tell the Truth revival going for a few weeks in the summer.

To get you up to speed, TTTT premiered in 1956.  Three contestants all pretend to be the same person.  Four celebrities fire questions at them.  The job is to weed out the impostors.

It has been one of television's most durable game shows.  There were night time and day time versions, networks and syndication.

The legendary Mark Goodson didn't invent, but his company produced it well into the 1990's.  It is said TTTT was one of his favorites, and that's quite a statement.  Goodson's company produced dozens of game shows over the years, including Match Game, Family Feud, and The Price is Right.

TTTT was always one of my favorites, as well.

Until now.

The new producers have taken a page out of Family Feud's book.  Dumb it down.  Dirty it up.  Betty White was fed a bunch of bawdy old lady lines.  She deserves better.

The game play is essentially the same, but so much of it seems scripted, rehearsed, un-spontaneous...

Anthony Anderson has "good host" potential, but it's really tough to tell here.  The new TTTT is heavily edited and slapped together.

I realize I'm not in the target demographic, and a new generation of viewers probably finds the new TTTT very entertaining.  If you were a fan of Bud Collyer, Garry Moore, Bill Cullen, Joe Garagiola, Robin Ward, Lynn Swann, Gordon Elliot, Alex Trebek and John O'Hurley, you probably won't like what's on your TV's now.

There are a bunch of old clips and episodes on YouTube.  Check them out and watch TTTT done the right way.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


I have to groundbreaking thoughts on Orlando.  There is one person who knows why it happened.  He's dead.  There are no simple solutions to the gun violence and terrorism problems, and those who say they have all the answers really don't know what they're talking about.

The one moment I will take away from all of this occurred Sunday morning.  ABC's George Stephanopoulos was interviewing a woman who didn't know whether her son was dead or alive.  She feared the worst.  Unfortunately, she was right.

Stephanopoulos simply let the woman speak. He didn't interrupt.  The woman wanted the world to know what her son was like, the good he did, the lives he touched.  It was gripping television, and hugely uncomfortable at the same time.

I was in the WNEP newsroom when the story started to unfold.  Guidance from the network indicated something very bad had happened in Orlando, and the network was gearing up to break in to programming.  Because of Good Morning America and This Week, the network is fully staffed on Sunday mornings, and it didn't take long to get people in place and hit the right buttons.

As I was driving home, I spun the radio dial to get the latest.  I was extremely disappointed.  Nothing.  I'm sure the radio networks were doing something, but most radio stations are on auto pilot, so no one was there to override and switch the feed from regularly scheduled canned programming.

I was impressed that law enforcement kept the media, and therefore the public, constantly informed.  There were regular briefings with useful information, and the briefings started early.  It was crisis management as it should be.

I would hope that someday, we'll know exactly what happened and why.  Whether we can fix it is another story entirely.