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Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Why Not Here?


A photographer and I were driving through Dunmore Corners Monday morning. He's not from around here, and I told him about the famous New Year's Eve Dunmore Buck Drop. The Buck Drop went away several years ago. The official line is that the Dunmoreans didn't want to compete with First Night Scranton. That's unfortunate. Hokey little events like the Buck Drop give a town character.

I took the following paragraphs from the web site www.pennlive.com. It lists all the events going on in midstate. If all those small towns aren't afraid of competing with the big New Year's Eve event in downtown Harrisburg, what are we afraid of? Let's celebrate all those small towns that make our region special. First Night Scranton will live or die on its own. Drop the buck!

DAUPHIN COUNTY

HARRISBURG: M&T Bank New Year's Eve Celebration, 9 p.m.-midnight. Strawberry drop from the top of the Hilton Harrisburg at midnight followed by a fireworks display. Parking is available in the Walnut Street garage, Chestnut Street garage and River Street garage at regular rates, in the Market Square garage for an event rate or for free on City Island or city streets. Activities are free. Information: 717-255-3020 or www.harrisburgevents.com.

HERSHEY: New Year's Eve in Hershey, 9 p.m.-midnight. Hershey Kiss raised at 11:59 p.m. at Chocolate Avenue and Park Avenue, followed by fireworks. Street parking is available. Activities are free. Information: www.hersheynewyears.org.

HUMMELSTOWN: Lollipop drop, 9 p.m.-midnight. Lollipop drop at the Hummelstown Square, Hanover and Main streets, at midnight followed by a fireworks display. Street parking is available. Activities are free. Information: 717-566-2555.

MIDDLETOWN: New Year's Celebration Train, departing from Middletown at 9 p.m. The train travels to Hummelstown for the lollipop drop and fireworks at midnight. Parking is available at the station. Adults $50, children ages 6-11 $30, children 5 and under are free. Information: 944-4435 or www.mhrailroad.com.

HALIFAX: New Year's Eve Celebration at Camp Hebron, 957 Camp Hebron Road, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Registration begins at 3:30 p.m. Hemlock tree drop at midnight. Adults $37, children ages 5-12 $18.50, adults staying overnight $77, children staying overnight $38.50. Free for ages 4 and under. Info: 717-896-3441 or www.camphebron.org.

CUMBERLAND COUNTY

CARLISLE: First Night Carlisle , 5:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Indy race car drop and fireworks at High and West streets at midnight. Street and garage parking is available. First Night buttons are $10 in advance and $15 on the day of the event and are required for most activities and performances. Free for children ages 5 and under. Information: 717-258-0666 or www.firstnightcarlisle.org.

MECHANICSBURG: Wrench drop, 9 p.m.-midnight. Wrench drop in front of the Washington Fire Company on the first block of East Main Street at midnight. Street and municipal lot parking is available. All events are free. Information: 717-796-0811 or www.mechanicsburgchamber.org.

SHIPPENSBURG: Drop the Anchor New Year's Eve Celebration. Activities, including some for children, 8 p.m.-midnight. Ship anchor drop at King and Earl streets at midnight. Street parking is available. All events are free. Information: 717-532-5509 or www.shippensburg.org.

LEBANON COUNTY

LEBANON: Lebanon City bologna drop , 10:30 p.m.-midnight. Bologna drop at midnight in the parking lot at Ninth and Cumberland streets. Street parking is available. The event is free. Information: 717-273-6711 or www.Lebanonpa.com.

PERRY COUNTY

BLAIN: Wooden cow drop , midnight at 1861 Big Spring Road. Free parking is available off Big Spring Road near the barn. The event is free. Information: 717-536-3333

DUNCANNON: Duncannon sled drop, 10 p.m.-midnight. Sled drop at midnight at the Old Sled Works on North Market Street. Parking is available in its parking lot. The event is free. Information: 717-834-4311.

LIVERPOOL: Canal boat drop, midnight at the Liverpool Square on Market Street. Street parking is available. Event is free.

NEW BLOOMFIELD: Huckleberry drop, 10 p.m.-midnight. Huckleberry drop at midnight at the courthouse at Main and Carlisle streets. Street parking is available. Event is free. Information: 717-582-2038.

YORK COUNTY

DILLSBURG: Pickle drop, 9 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Pickle drop and fireworks in front of the Dillsburg Public Library on Baltimore Street at midnight. Street parking is available. The event is free. Information: 717-432-7865 or www.dillsburgbusiness.org.

RED LION: Red Lion New Year's Eve, 5 p.m.-midnight. A lion holding a cigar will be dropped at midnight at Broadway and Main Street, followed by fireworks. Street and municipal parking is available, and parking also is available in church lots. The activities are free. Information: www.redlionpa.org.

YORK: New Year's Revolution, 7 p.m.-midnight. White rose drop at midnight at Sovereign Bank Stadium followed by fireworks. Street parking and city lot parking is available for free; paid parking is available in the Market Street garage, Philadelphia Street garage and King Street garage. Admission buttons are required to attend the activities and cost $10 for adults and $6 for children ages 5-12 in advance. On New Year's Eve, admission buttons cost $12 for adults and $8 for children. Children ages 4 and under are admitted free. Information: www.yorkcity.org or 717-849-2217.

LANCASTER COUNTY

LANCASTER: Countdown Lancaster, 5:15 p.m.-midnight. The red rose ascends at Binns Park at midnight, followed by a fireworks display. Parking is $3 for the night at the Prince Street parking garage and Penn Square parking garage. Buttons are required for admission to activities. Buttons cost $10 for adults and $5 for children ages 6-12 before New Year's Eve. On New Year's Eve buttons will be $15 for adults. Free for children ages 5 and under. Information: www.lancasterrec.org.

ELIZABETHTOWN: Let E-Town Ring -- Letterkenney Time!, 5-8 p.m. M&M lowering at 7 p.m. in the parking lot of the community center on Poplar Street. Free street parking is available. Buttons are required for admission to all activities and cost $5. Information: 717-361-7188. Elizabethtown lowers an M&M at 7 p.m. to correspond with midnight in its sister city of Letterkenney, Ireland, which operates five hours ahead of Eastern time.

MANHEIM: Manheim's Dancin' in the Streets, 9 p.m.-midnight. Orb raising at midnight at the flagpole in Manheim's square. Street and municipal lot parking is available. The event is free. Information: 717-665-1762 or www.manheimdowntown.org.

Music will begin by 9 p.m. and live music will start at approximately 10. Carriage rides will be available starting at 9:30 p.m. and vendors will sell a variety of snacks and hot drinks.


ADAMS COUNTY

GETTYSBURG

Gettysburg New Year's Eve Celebration, 7:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Fireworks display in Lincoln Square at midnight . Street parking and garage parking are available. All events are free. Information: 334-5006 or www.adams arts.org.

Several activities and performances are planned for Lincoln Square. DJ Denny White will play music and Audacity will perform classic rock. A strolling magician and a fire performance group will be in the square. At 11:30 p.m., the countdown to midnight will begin on the Gettysburg Hotel porch.

In the Christ Lutheran Church on Chambersburg Street the Herb Sell Trio will perform jazz with guest vocalist Roxie Schloyer from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. John Wolfe will demonstrate magic starting at 8:45 p.m. Children ages 4-12 can make jewelry or hats at the Imagination Station on Carlisle Street. Free hot cider and refreshments will be available throughout the evening.

FRANKLIN COUNTY

MERCERSBURG

New Year's Eve Midnight Carillon Recital, midnight . At the chapel on the Mercersburg Academy campus. Parking is available on the campus. The concert is free. Information: www.mercersburg.edu.

James W. Smith will perform on the Carillon, a large, multibelled instrument, beginning at midnight . Smith will play Christmas carols and other seasonal music including Auld Lang Syne.

CENTRE COUNTY

STATE COLLEGE

First Night State College, 10 a.m.-midnight . Fireworks display at Community Field at South Atherton Street and Hamilton Avenue at midnight . Street parking is available. First Night buttons cost $8 and are required for admission to most performances. Free for children ages 5 and under. Information: 814-237-3082 or www.firstnightstatecollege.com.

See the state's largest display of ice sculptures starting at 10 a.m. More than 30 musical performances will take place in churches and public buildings in downtown State College from noon to midnight .

Children ages 3-10 can take part in the Chinese New Year's party from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. at the State College Municipal Building Plaza. Everyone is welcome to join the Grand Procession, which is made up of large paper puppets, at 6:30 p.m. Anyone who wants to control a puppet should meet at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church at 208 W. Foster Ave. by 6 p.m.

Carriage rides and ice skating will be available for an extra charge. Runners can compete in a costume-optional 5K run. The run requires a separate registration fee and is scheduled so runners will finish at Community Field just before the fireworks display at midnight .

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

The Rose Bowl


Yesterday was one of those rare days when the bulk of my work was done by 4:30 AM.

A photographer and I were dispatched to Peckville, to meet with a bus load of people headed to the Rose Bowl. We got there a little after 4:00 AM, about 15 minutes before the bus was to pull out. After a few interviews, and some video, we were on our way back to the office to begin the assembly process.

It was a nice story, filled with happy people on the first leg of their trip to the west coast. I got their flight information to pass along to our west coast crews. With any luck, our people will meet up the the tour group somewhere in Pasadena.

Someone who posted to Talkback Online at WNEP.com asked if the reporters who stay behind are jealous of Newswatch 16's Jon Meyer, who got the assignment to go to Pasadena. Yes, and no. It's always nice to get a hunk of a big story. On the other hand, road trips, like the one to the Rose Bowl, are not vacations. There's a lot of work to be done, involving some tricky travel on unfamiliar highways, the logistics of getting the story back to home base, and the host of issues caused by America's often inefficient air transportation system. There's another big thing to be considered-- the time difference. Evening news time here is mid afternoon in California. Your deadline is moved up considerably, and you're always rushing to get things done on time.

I wouldn't have turned down the assignment, but a stop at the drug store for a case of Aleve would have been a must for me.

Something that cushions the blow is the fact that a very deserving Jon Meyer got the gig. Jon has been doing a great job so far. There's no doubt that will continue the rest of the week.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Crime and Punishment


I've always had a soft spot for the Salvation Army. When I was a kid, on pre Christmas shopping trips with my mom, she always made sure I had a few coins to toss into the red kettle. It's important to remember the less fortunate. That's why last week's crime in West Pittston was particularly disgusting. Someone broke onto a Salvation Army building on Luzerne Avenue and stole $2,000 from a safe. The money came from the red kettle collection. A Salvation Army volunteer told us the loss of the money really hurts, and it might force the organization to cut back on services. Absolutely nauseating.

It will be interesting to see who did it. Is it someone who really needs the money? Is it a drug addict, looking for cash to feed a habit? Is it just a case of greed.

Stealing from a charity reminds me of the case of Jessica Hardy, the former Make-a-Wish head who stole money meant for children with life threatening illnesses. While she was robbing them blind, the local Make-a-Wish board kept giving Hardy raises. It was a huge case of theft, compounded by incompetence. A web search shows Ms Hardy spent the holiday at the prison at Cambridge Springs in Crawford County, the northwest part of the state. The state's web site describes Cambridge Springs as "a minimum-security facility for women, the majority of whom are nearing their release from prison."

I truly believe in second chances, but dealing with people who steal from those in need make it really difficult.

Friday, December 26, 2008

It Wasn't That Bad


Once again, I worked Christmas Eve into Christmas morning. A couple years ago, I blogged about how awful the night was, filled with violence and mayhem, just another night in the life of northeastern and central Pennsylvania.

I'm happy to report that this year wasn't that bad.

I feared the worst on the drive down the interstate at 10:00 PM. There appeared to be a lot more traffic than usual for a holiday night. That's never a good sign. All we had was a Turkey Hill robbery, a bunch of domestics, a scattering of car crashes, several overdoses and a few suicide attempts. It was the quietest Christmas in several years.

I don't know if the violent spurt of the last few years was a fluke, or if this calm year is the abnormal one. Let's hope the comfort and joy continues next year.

One other note-- some monster, and I do mean massive, potholes have opened up on 81 North, just past the Central Scranton Expressway exit. PennDOT was on the ball and got them patched Christmas Eve, but you know how patches are in the winter. They never last. Be careful. This is an area that's been plagued by potholes. It's apparent it's not the surface, but rather what lies beneath that causes the problem year after year after year. Maybe this will be the construction season where we get a long term solution.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas


I hope Santa was good to you this year.

It's been a tough few months. I don't think any of us are worth what we were when the year started. The new year will bring a new set of worries.

I don't know who established the concept first, but some believe this year's financial issues place more of an emphasis on what money can't buy-- family, friendship, spirit, love...

This might be one of the worst Christmases ever for a lot of people. For others, it might be one of the best.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Courthouse Square Tree


One of the things I really like about Christmas is you can find beauty just about everywhere, including that soulless sea of concrete and granite called Lackawanna County Courthouse Square. This is the big tree on the North Washington Avenue side of the building.

Be aware of some parking issues in downtown Scranton. The city and state have done their usual stellar job of curb-to-curb snow plowing. The remnants of Friday's storm are now large and solid glaciers of dirty ice along the sides of the street. Good luck finding a safe and easy place to park. You might want to consider ditching the car in one of the city's garages if you're going to spend any time downtown.

In spite of it all, have a happy and safe Christmas Eve.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Snowy Travel


As you know, I'm not a "snow" person, so I consider myself lucky over the weekend. My trip to work started Friday night, after the snow stopped. The roads were still lousy, especially that part of Interstate 81 in Dunmore, near the 84/380 split. I don't think I topped 30 mph during my drive. However, there wasn't much traffic and the drive was tolerable.

My shift ended Sunday morning, just as the snow was picking up in intensity. I made it home before the roads got really slick.

The snow adds to the Christmas experience. On the other hand, it makes travel a bear. If I had a choice, I'd do without the holiday atmosphere in exchange for a dry road.

This picture was taken in the WNEP backyard early Saturday morning, when not a creature was stirring.

Monday, December 22, 2008

There Has to be a Better Way


At one time, radio owned the school/business/church/social group cancellation business. Then, television got into the act. The public was well served.

Times change. Most radio stations no longer do cancellations. It's a combination of factors. Cheapness is one. Emerging technology is another. Most radio stations refer you to their web sites, and that's okay. Cancellations can be a challenge. If you don't care about the weather, listening to several minutes of cancellations can be mind numbing. That's where TV has a distinct advantage. You can still watch your show while the cancellations take up a small portion of the screen.

Of course, it's possible to bypass broadcasting and cable altogether. Many organizations are like WNEP, and offer cancellations via cell phone. We're happy to help.

Let's take it a step further. Weekend snow brings a flood of phone calls from churches and social groups. Some of these organizations are rather small. I love TV, and it's a great medium, but there's a better way for them to get their message across. Go high tech. Get a web site. It's possible to get one for free. Not everyone has web access. Get their numbers. Set up a phone tree and make a few calls. Control your own destiny, and get the information out fast and the way you want it released.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Snow


As I write this, late Thursday night, the forecast calls for six to ten inches of snow.

Yuk!

I'm trying to look on the bright side. At least it shifts the bad economic news to the back burner for a little while. It seems to get worse every day. The latest thing is the White House suggesting a bankruptcy filing for the big auto makers as a way to lead them to financial stability. I never thought I'd see the day, but it looks like it's going to happen. It's funny to say, but bankruptcy does have its advantages. It clears the deck for a fresh start. Still, I truly wonder if it really is a fresh start, or the beginning of the same issues that got us here in the first place.

I did my best to help the economy and fight the storm. Christmas shopping is complete. I grabbed a few odds and ends yesterday, after some serious shopping on Monday.

I'm like a lot of people-- putting purchases on a credit card and paying it off at the end of the month. What ever happened to checking signatures on the backs of credit cards to see if they match what you sign in the store? When did we stop doing that? Are retail workers lazy or do they have faith in the electronic system that kicks out a stolen or lost card? Hey, store managers and business owners, have your workers check signatures. I do understand that it might be a waste of time. I can't sign the screen with one of those electronic pens, and produce something that can be read, anyway.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Newspapers


I don't think I'm that old, but I am of an era where people valued the daily newspaper. The afternoon arrival was always a treat when I was a kid, and I still make it a point to look at a few a day.

Here's what's changed. My reading is done on-line rather waiting for the newspaper to be delivered. An entire generation of people gets its news that way, and it means extremely tough times for daily newspapers.

A pair of newspapers in Detroit is trying to stay afloat by cutting home delivery to three days a week, and publishing smaller editions on the other days.

A media analyst, quoted in USA Today, has it nailed. He said "The biggest risk is it breaks the daily newspaper habit for readers and marketers. Newspapers are accelerating their own print demise."

Exactly! Someone has finally figured out. The way to improve circulation is to make the product better and get it into the hands of readers.

It's over in Detroit, and many other newspapers are on their way to failure.

I won't mention the paper's name, but I always thought it was the best in the region. While it's not based in what's called the "Wilkes-Barre/Scranton market," it is sold here, and it did a very good job of covering items in the fringe of its core area. The paper recently went through a re-design. Readers are getting a smaller paper with bigger graphics and photos. You know why? It's to disguise the fact that there's less news in the paper. Less news means fewer readers. It's all so simple. Why can't they figure it out?

One other thing: drop the political agendas.

The way we get our information is changing, and that includes those of us in broadcasting. We all have to improve the product and make it relevant if we're to survive.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

The Little Church


I try to take a walk, early in the morning, on my days off. There's a pretty little church on my route. This church used to have really nice Christmas decorations-- the perfect amount, bright--yet respectful, cheery-- not gaudy. It had a real small town, quaint feeling.

Like a lot of churches here in our area, the parish was merged with another. I think there's only one mass here a week. It happens. If the money's not there, if the parishioners aren't there, if the priests aren't there... Well, you know what happens next.

The church has been void of external Christmas decorations the past few years, and that's sad. It was always so nice. It gave the neighborhood character.

The Diocese of Scranton will be closing churches in the new year. We know that much. There are rumors a lot of churches will be shuttered. I don't know about that. You know how rumors are. When it comes to facts, those who know don't talk, and those who talk don't know.

Still, I wonder how many people will be at mass on Christmas and wondering if this will be the last in their church.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

It's Okay Now


As my co-workers will attest, I can be a stickler on some things, to the point of annoying excess on occasion.

I've noted in the past that it was incorrect to call Barack Obama "president elect" until after the Electoral College votes. The Electoral College voted yesterday. It's cool. It's official. Obama's in. He gets the "president elect" title.

Apparently, no one told Mr. Obama and many media members about the intricacies of the law. Reporters started calling Obama "president elect" the night of November 4th. Obama has been conducting news conferences from behind a podium that read "Office of the President Elect" since shortly after the election. Wrong. It drove me insane.

The Electoral College vote yesterday was a mere formality. Yet, it was important. The law is the law.

TV stations have a gizmo called a "character generator." Most of us refer to it by its brand name, "Chyron." It's the thing that puts the letters and titles at the bottom of your screen. Throughout the election, we put "Sen. Barack Obama, (D) Illinois" on the screen during "sound bites" and interviews. We argued what to do after the election. I wanted to continue what we had been doing, while others suggested "president elect." At least on the weekend morning broadcasts, we decided on nothing. Nothing is an honor reserved for the president, the vice president, the pope, and the governor. In a way, we elevated Obama to presidential status, even though he was weeks away from placing his hand on the bible.

If you don't know who he is by now...

It's over. We won't have to re-visit the issue for another four or eight years. My co-workers are thrilled.

Monday, December 15, 2008

What You Don't See


People in the news business deal with calamity and destruction on a daily basis. Don't cry for us. It's the life we chose.

Still, it doesn't hurt to have something nice to look at now and then. This is our newsroom Christmas tree. It helps make those long nights of fires, crashes, shootings, stabbings and domestics almost tolerable.

The tree is out of camera range, so this is likely the only chance you'll get to see it. The tree will be part of our newsroom for the next few weeks, and it's an extremely welcome addition.

It's only a tree, but it means a lot more.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Guest Photography Friday



Let's end the week on a nice note.

As loyal blog readers know, old friend Phil Yacuboski is now working in Baltimore, and he took this picture in Washington on a recent evening. The national Christmas tree is on the left, with the Washington Monument, in the distance, on the right.

Thanks, Phil... and have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Illinois


What is it with you people in Illinois? Why do you keep electing bums to serve as governor? Since the early 70's, three former governors have done jail time, and it looks like you're about to get a fourth.

Governor Rod Blagojevich was arrested Tuesday, charged with, among other things, trying to sell the seat in the U.S. Senate, about to be vacated by Barack Obama.

The evidence against Blagojevich is stunning. As an analyst on WGN put it Tuesday afternoon, you don't need an attorney to figure this out. You need a psychologist.

I was glued to the television Tuesday, watching the news conference, listening to the experts. It was fascinating, and sickening at the same time.

The folks in Illinois would probably be in awe of the shenanigans allegedly taking place around here. Northeastern Pennsylvania can give Illinois a run for its money when it comes to corruption. Some of the dirty deeds are legendary, and it seems like we have more politicians under investigation than we have clean ones. If even half the rumors are true, you'll see some interesting people in handcuffs in the months to come.

It doesn't make me happy. Yes, it's nice to see scoundrels brought to justice. Unfortunately, they shouldn't have been in positions of power in the first place. You get what you pay for.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Christmas Letter


It happens every year. I always get a Christmas card and letter from one of my old college friends. I look forward to it. She has a great life-- nice husband, nice kids, nice job, lots of travel, etc. The woman is as sweet as the day is long.

I feel compelled to write back about my adventures of the year, but I really have nothing to say. Items under consideration include:

I bought a pair of shoes I really like.

Things are going well with my new dentist.

Getting along without digital cable is easier than I thought.

A Magic Jack really isn't magic.

Moe's Southwest Grill is opening a restaurant in the area.

The Steelers are having a good season.

The blog has entered its fifth year and www.andy-palumbo.com launched a few months ago.

Atomic clocks have changed my life.

The new "Tostitos" jalapeno flavor is awesome.

I hope to drink more diet soda in the new year.

That's all.

I need a life.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Is That Supposed to Make Us Feel Better?


Wilkes-Barre had another shooting Friday night. This time, someone died. What did we hear from police and the district attorney? We shouldn't worry because this was not a random act.

Okay. It might have been "bad guy on bad guy" crime. That doesn't excuse the fact that there's been still another shooting in Wilkes-Barre. Someone's running around out there, presumably with a gun, who doesn't value human life, who's killed once and might kill again. Hey, don't worry. The victim was no saint. Everything's fine.

If you're trying to make me feel better, you're not doing a very good job.

It's clear Wilkes-Barre has a problem. A big one. Unfortunately, Wilkes-Barre isn't alone.

You're losing the war against crime. You've already lost the fight for common sense.

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Tree


I made my annual trip to Marywood University Wednesday afternoon.

Attending the Christmas tree lighting ceremony is always on my list of things to do, even though I never attended a tree lighting when I was a student there.

This year's tree is a 22 foot Douglas Fir, purchased from a tree farm in Lehighton. It contains 3,500 lights.

Pictures do not do it justice. As I say every year, stop by if you're in the neighborhood. You won't be sorry.

Friday, December 5, 2008

That 70's Theatre


The 70's was a pretty good decade, but far from a perfect decade.

One of the shortcomings was those shoe box style movie theaters that popped up in and around shopping centers.

Most have been, thankfully, torn down. At least one continues to live as a porn theater. And now, a cineplex next to the Dickson City K Mart is on its way out.


The Endless Mountains Theatre, off Business Route 6 has been sold. It will become a non denominational church, after $2 million worth of renovations.

I have to tell you the truth. Endless Mountains had seen better days. The curtains were ripped. The seats and the carpets were stained. Shabby, at best. I occasionally saw films here. Why, you may ask. Well, the people were nice and the theater was rarely crowded. I'll give up cup holders, stadium style seating and booming sound to avoid the crowd.



I'm not the only one who will miss this place. Endless Mountains Theatre often showed independent and locally produced films. There aren't many places that do that.

Those shoe box theaters were huge mistakes, but this one was different. I'm sorry to see it go.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Ultimate in Hypocricy


I couldn't believe what I was reading. I had to look at it over and over and over again to make sure I had it right.

"The Weekender" had a short blurb about an upcoming event in downtown Wilkes-Barre. It's set for December 13th, and it's called the "Running of the Santas Pub Crawl." Money raised goes to the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation for Childhood Cancer.

So far, so good.

No problem.

One of the downtown Wilkes-Barre bars involved is the "Hardware Bar." This is the same place that recently held a "smokers' rights night" and gave out free cigarettes!

The victim's age doesn't matter. The type is irrelevant.

Cancer is cancer.

Fighting cancer is great. Encouraging it is something else.

Shame on you.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Bouncing Around


Many published reports say NBC has decided on David Gregory as the new moderator of "Meet the Press." As Bart Simpson would say, "meh." I don't think it's a great choice. I don't think it's an awful one, either. Gregory seems to be one of those "Hey, look at me!" media types that are all over the place these days. Maybe he'll tone down his approach on Sunday mornings.

Sears/K Mart lost $146 million dollars in the third quarter of the year. The company says it'll likely close some stores next year. It's too early to say when and where. The Chicago Tribune says the company is on thin ice. That's frightening. K Mart would do better if it actually had employees behind all those cash registers.

One of the local newspapers, Monday through Saturday, costs 60 cents at the newsstand. Thanksgiving day, the price shot up to $1.50 for four pages of news and about one thousand pages of ads. Less news, more paid ad space, at nearly triple the price. And people wonder why newspaper circulation is dropping.

I can't wait for Christmas to get here. The biggest reason-- I want all those catalogs out of my mail box.

Gasoline has dipped below the $2 a gallon mark. I can honestly say I never thought I'd see gasoline that low again in my lifetime.

Bill Drake died the other day. Lung cancer. 71. Drake was a radio programmer who formatted radio stations to make sure the personalities didn't overwhelm the music. The man had a huge influence on the business. He was part of a company called "Drake Chenault" that supplied pre recorded music formats to radio stations across the country. For a long time, the old WGBI Stereo 101 was one of the clients. The WGBI execution was awful, but the music was great.

I don't know how I shopped before the internet.

The Pittsburgh Steelers really surprised me Sunday afternoon.

The Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs web site produced a chuckle. A banner proclaims "triple A affiliate of the world champion Philadelphia Phillies." While true, the Pigs really had nothing to do with the Phillies' success this year. Lehigh Valley finished the season with a 55 and 89 record, 33 games out of first place.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Deer Season


I did a story on the first day of rifle deer season yesterday.

I read the releases from the Pennsylvania Game Commission. I did some research on the internet and looked at the numbers.

I talked with hunters and spent some time in the woods.

There's a lot of disagreement.

The Game Commission says everything's great. The hunters I spoke with say just the opposite. The deer population has been decimated the last few years, and the deer just aren't there.

During my long morning on the roads and in the woods of the Bear Creek and White Haven areas, I didn't see one successful hunter. I heard only a few shots fired.

I also spoke with some hunters in Lackawanna County after work. Same story. No deer.

On the other hand, it seems like there was an above normal number of deer carcasses along the highways during the past few weeks.

The state public relations machine, and those who serve as mouthpieces for the state paint one picture. The average hunter say things are not as rosy as the state would have you believe.

Something's wrong somewhere.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Christmas Specials


Thanksgiving is a memory, so it's time to turn our attention toward Christmas.

I'm not much of a holiday person, but "A Charlie Brown Christmas" always brings a smile to my face. There has never been a better Christmas special. This is the show's 40th anniversary, and you can see it twice on ABC-- December 8th and 16th. Do yourself a favor and watch it again. It never gets old.



A close second is "A Pinky and the Brain Christmas" from back in 1993. It ran on the old WB network. I did a quick search the other morning. You can buy a VHS copy on Amazon.com, and it's also available for on-line viewing. It's a show kids and adults can both enjoy, and the closing never fails to bring a tear to my eye. It is just so well done. "Pinky and the Brain" won Emmys during its time on the air, and I can easily see why.

There are many times the Christmas spirit can be elusive. A good television special can be just what you needed.