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Thursday, August 22, 2019

A Pair of Jacks

Former ABC and CBS Sports broadcaster Jack Whitaker died Saturday.  95.  He got his broadcasting start at the now defunct WPAM in Pottsville.  Whitaker did at all at CBS.  For the end of his time there, and later at ABC, he did commentaries and essays.  I really don't like people who have this whole reverential thing when it comes to sports.  If you don't know what I mean, listen to the Masters golf tournament on CBS for a few minutes every spring.  Tomm Looney, formerly of FOX Sports Radio used to call sports the "toy department of life."  As we have seen, especially some recent days, there are some awful people in sports-- from the owners on down.  Having said that, Jack Whitaker always struck the right tone.  He was an elegant writer and a classy broadcaster.

Jack Perkins died Monday.  85.  Perkins was an NBC News correspondent for many years.  He was also the face and voice of "Biography" on A&E.  Perkins could read the phone book aloud, and make it sound warm, charming, folksy and interesting.  I'm an old radio guy, so a good site of pipes and a strong delivery still blow me away.

We lost two major talents this week.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Time Shift

I've been working the overnight shift a long time.  A long, long time.  No complaints.  It's my choice.

Most nights follow a familiar routine.  Bar fights start at 1 AM, Drunk driving crashes start shortly after the bars close at 2 AM.  Domestics begin when the drunk drivers who haven't crashed make it home.

You can sprinkle in assorted other violence, including shootings, in that 2 AM hour.

Things are changing.  Recent experience has more mayhem in the 3 and 4 AM hours.

Why?  That's a good question.

More after hours clubs?  Maybe,

It is clear that the "9 to 5" society disappeared long ago.  Most of the things you can do at 4 PM you can now do at 4 AM-- and that includes making trouble.

Do us all a favor.  Get some sleep.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

30



I've been doing this a long time, and it's one of the worst crimes I ever covered.

The Larry and Leona Cottam murder trial was 30 years ago this month in Luzerne County Court.  They lived in Nuangola.  Larry lost his job.  The family had at least $2,000, but Larry refused to spend it for food, because that money was tithe-- a religious offering.  As a result, the Cottam's 14 year old son, Eric, starved to death.  He weighed just 69 pounds.  The photo above is Eric Cottam's body, being wheeled out of the family home.

Larry, Leona, and their daughter wound up in the hospital to be treated for malnutrition.

Testimony at the trial was chilling.  Eric tried to make soup from chives growing in the back yard, in an effort to save his life.  It didn't work.  I could not get that image out of my mind.  The poor kid knew he was sick and likely dying.  He struggled.

I don't know how any parent can stand by and watch their children suffer.  I'm no expert on religion, but I think God would have understood if you actually kept a family member from suffering a slow and painful death.

Larry Cottam was found guilty of third degree murder.  Leona was found guilty of a lesser charge.

What struck me most during the trial was the lack of remorse.  One child starved to death and another almost died, and these people didn't think they did anything wrong.

Monday, August 19, 2019

Hancock

It made me sad, a reminder that we're not getting any younger.

John Hancock, who does 3 to 6 PM on that blowtorch, WBT radio in Charlotte announced his retirement last week.  His last show is in October, but John said he will remain with the station, participating in public service efforts, doing commercials,  and maybe a little bit of commentary.

You might remember the name.  John spent a couple of years at WARM in the mid 80's.  He was best known for hanging from a platform, suspended by a crane, for 59 hours, to raise money for Easter Seals.  John performed his stunt in the parking lot of what was then Howard Johnson's in Pittston Township.  That's a much younger me on the left, John on the right.  The interview was done after John descended on a Sunday afternoon.

John came to us after serving as program director for an FM rocker in Boulder, Colorado.  I remember thinking, here was a guy who knew nothing about AM full service radio and he was going to bomb.

I was wrong.

John restored some stability to an absolute mess of a radio station.  He kept us hopping with live remotes from Kirby Park festivals, the Great American Race, the Comerford Theater (eventually the Kirby Center) etc.  It was a fun time, and I felt like I got kicked in the gut when John announced his resignation from WARM.  He took a job in Jacksonville, FL.

As you know by now, WARM was bungled into irrelevance.  I've been out of there since 1991, but it was my first "real" job and the Mighty 590 will always be special to me.  Great times.  Awful times.  Everything in between.

Thanks to the internet, I catch parts of John's show most days.  It's always a kick when he tells a WARM story and I get a mention.  Some photos of John's home office recently turned up on-line.  It was nice to see some things from his WARM years on one of the walls.  Yes, we've kept in touch over the years.  I value the friendship.

John is stepping away to battle some health problems and get some rest  29 years at WBT and he's in the station's hall of fame.

I'm lucky we crossed paths a long time ago.

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Andy's Angles: About the Cover

This month's About the Cover is a little late, and I'm sorry.

The cover really has no raison d'etre, as if it really needed one.

I like trains, especially colorful diesels, and I snapped off a nice shot on a recent sunny morning.

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Andy's Angles: Born Too Late

I recently saw this ad, laminated and stuck on the wall of a business I visited.

It's from the mid 1950's

Great choices.  Great choices.

I'm sorry I wasn't around to take advantage of the sale.  I would have looked great in a Hudson.

Friday, August 16, 2019

Snow Job



A government entity actually listened to people!

According to the Erie Times~News, the National Weather Service is bringing back lake effect snow warnings.  Why?  Because you asked for it!

The NWS eliminated the lake effect warnings last year, as it tried to streamline the watch and warning process.  Don't ask me why lake effect warnings were dumped.  Parts of Pennsylvania and New York really get hammered before the lakes freeze over, and lake effect is diminished.  Those warnings had real value.  And, yes, we do have the occasional lake effect issue in NEPA.

It's just amazing that some bureaucrats are spending time listening to citizens.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Burger Wars

It just defies analysis.

Market Force surveyed Americans to learn the top ten favorite hamburger restaurants.  McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy's failed to make the list.  Only two with stores in our area, Five Guys and Dairy Queen, are in the top ten.

Let's look a little deeper.

McDonald's seems to be doing well thanks to breakfast and drinks.  I'll see a drive through line wrapped around the building when I'm leaving for work late at night, and again when I'm coming home in the morning.

Wendy's seems to get a nice lunch crowd.  BK seems to be somewhere in the middle.

Still, I find it fascinating that places that built their foundations on ground beef score so poorly.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Action!

There is an embryonic plan to build a movie theater in downtown Pittston, and I think that's fantastic.  It will add to the nightlife and clearly will be an asset to that small city.  In case you haven't been to Pittston lately, some of the decrepit old buildings are gone.  Other old buildings have been rehabbed and there's some new construction   Downtown Pittston is no longer the horror show show it used to be.

I am too young to remember the days when every small town had at least one movie theater, but I do remember the places before the shoe box mall theaters were built-- the Strand, Center,  Comerford, Roosevelt, and West Side in Scranton, Cinema North in Clarks Summit, the Irving in Carbondale, the American in Pittston.  Peckville even had a theater when I was a kid, until fire destroyed it.  I saw The Simpsons Movie at the Dietrich in Tunkhannock several years ago, and I loved the experience.

Look, let's be realistic.  The days of one or two screen urban theaters are over, and they're not coming back.  You can't compete with the choice, convenience, ample parking and comfort of those super mega plexes...  But, a theater like the one considered for Pittston can carve out a nice niche and be a community asset.  It will be interesting to see if they can make it work.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Old School




Invisible airwaves crackle with life...  Rush, "The Spirit of Radio"

Bucknell University sold its radio frequency to WVIA.  That's all well and good.  I'm sure Bucknell will put the money to good use.  WVIA's programming, popular in some circles, can now be heard in Union County.  The university and WVIA pledge to work together on projects and train young broadcasters.  Wonderful!

Bucknell's radio station now becomes an internet/streaming only affair.

And, there's the rub.

I chose to go to Marywood College (now University) because it was close and (at the time) inexpensive.  A big draw was the fact Marywood had a real, live radio station.  Back then, it was a puny ten watts at 91.5 FM, but it was still a chance to be "on the air."  A potential audience of thousands.  That was big to me.  There is nothing like the rush of opening a microphone, and having your voice, AM or FM, travel out in to the universe.  I still pause when I see a radio tower and antenna, and marvel at how it all works.  Thank you, Murgas and Marconi!

Times have changed.  There was once a stigma that cable was a child of an inferior creator to broadcast.  Not any more.

The stigma that internet and streaming are inferior to broadcast is also going away.

No matter where you are, make the most of what you have.


Before I graduated, WVMW's power was upped to 100 watts.  It's now 1800 watts at 91.7 FM, and has a nice coverage area.


Monday, August 12, 2019

Sleeping In

I was disappointed.

Last year on this day, photographer Jason and I came in hours before the scheduled start of our shifts to drive to Williamsport.  That's where the high school football team was beginning a practice at midnight, the first permitted moment to do so under PIAA regulations.

It was fun.  The players were "in" to the moment.  The stands were filled with parents and classmates.  Cameras everywhere.  Jason and I shot a couple of really nice stories for the morning and noon editions of  Newswatch 16.  We gathered extra video and interviews to share with the sports department.  It was great to do a positive story and put something out of the ordinary on the air.

I called last week to see if the Williamsport Millionaires would be doing it again.  The answer was no.  It was explained to me that this year's squad is rather young, and it was a good idea to go the traditional route this year.  There is a chance for a repeat of "Midnight Madness" in 2020.

That's all well and good, and I totally understand the reasons behind the decision.  There was some negative feedback on Talkback 16, and I'm sure the school received some negative comments as well.  On top of that, there are liability issues in this litigious society in which we live.

I was there.  It was a fun and positive story, and the Williamsport area really could use another one.

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Classic Andy's Angles: Inner Harbor

Above is another late 80;s photo from the Inner Harbor in Baltimore, and for the life of me, I don't remember why I took this particular photo.  It shows a piece of sculpture and the water.  Some cranes in the distance showed something was going on here, and that's one of the reasons I enjoyed visiting.  It was always different-- new construction, new boats traveling in and out, new attractions.

A bizarre aside:  The building to the right is the World Trade Center.  23 stores, observatory at the top, great views if the weather is clear.  I took this on one of those famous 3000 per cent relative humidity Baltimore \soupy summer mornings.  As noted earlier, I was in Baltimore on 9/11/01.  I was listening to the radio, and I heard those initial reports of a small plane hitting the World Trade Center.  Because I was in Baltimore, I immediately thought of this building.  You know how it turned out.  Like most Americans, I couldn't wrap my head around the horror that was unfolding.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Classic Andy's Angles: Fish

I will admit that I haven't been to Baltimore in 17 years, but I always considered this to be the crown jewel of the Inner Harbor redevelopment.  It's the National Aquarium-- visually interesting and fascinating inside and out.

A check the other morning showed it cost $40 to get in, and that's a bargain.

This is a photo for the late 80's.

By the way, the debate over conditions in Baltimore was wiped off the front pages with amazing speed.

Friday, August 9, 2019

Jeremiah Munley and Poet's Corner

I used this space a while back to talk about an epiphany.  A former teacher and I were talking about teachers I liked and, more importantly, respected.  The vast, vast majority were in the junior high and high school English departments.

Jeremiah Munley died Tuesday.  He was my English teacher for half of 8th grade and all of 9th.  He wasn't the nuts and bolts English guy-- no diagramming sentences, or parts of speech.  Literature and reading were his thing, at least in my day.

There was an odd experiment back in the mid 70's.  Jim Emmel, who died too young, had us for grammar, construction, and the like in the first half of 8th grade.  Munley had us for the second.  By the way, one of the great joys of my career was doing a little radio time at WARM, with Jim.

Mr. Munley taught with a sense of humor and I will never forget that.  His classes were fun.  I learned.  He taught us to write, and to think, and to feel.

I have to spend a few moments talking about Poet's Corner.  In 9th grade, Mr. Munley's English class was my last one before lunch.  If you were overly rambunctious, if you slightly misbehaved, you were forced to attend Poet's Corner, which cut in to the lunch break.  It wasn't long. The purpose was to inconvenience you by shaving a few minutes off your lunch time, and Poet's Corner consisted of Munley reciting a ribald poem with the naughty parts edited out.  It might have been one of the best punishments ever.  It was worth getting in trouble.

After the above mentioned epiphany, I tried to reconnect.  I left a couple of phone messages.  They were not returned.  I reached out via Facebook.  Nothing.  To say the least, I was disappointed. Maybe he wasn't well.   He probably didn't remember me, and that's okay.  I remembered him, and what he meant to my education.

My sympathy to Jeremiah Munley's family.  I believe I said "thank you" to him on one of my answering machine messages.  You, and Poet's Corner, were unforgettable.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

There's One Born Every Minute

I saw these on Amazon, and I couldn't resist.  After all, they were reasonably priced.

I really fail to see how charcoal infused bristles can make a difference in my dental health, but you miss 100 per cent of the shots you never take.

They're still in the package.  Expect an update in the weeks to come.

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

A Haunting Bag of Doritos

I've been at some horrible crime scenes over the years.  Gory.  Bodies.  Blood.  Those stay with you.  Forever.

One I encountered Monday morning is on the list, even though it was as clean as you could believe.

A woman was shot to death inside a Uni Mart in Williamsport Sunday night.
The victim worked across West Fourth Street, at a Dunkin.  She just came over to grab a bag of Doritos.  It was the wrong place at the wrong time.  The Uni Mart was being robbed.  The customer was shot to death.  A clerk was hurt.  The killer took off.  Police announced his arrest Tuesday morning.

As I looked in the store window, the bag of Doritos was still on the counter, at the cash register.  The transaction was never completed.  Murder got in the way.  It was eerie.

The abandoned Doritos bag was enough of a symbol that something horrible happened here.

I didn't have to see a body.  I didn't have to see the blood.

Tuesday, August 6, 2019

Relationships

I was looking at a Facebook thread the other day, where people listed their favorite teachers from my old high school.

Some of the names didn't surprise me.  They were good teachers.  Good people.

Some teachers didn't show up.  Again, no surprise.  Lazy.  Unmotivated.  Burned out.

There were several entries that shocked me.  Total disagreement on my part.  I didn't like them.  They didn't like me, and I probably deserved it.

It's funny how thinking about former teachers can trigger such strong memories, even after decades away.  Apparently, I am not alone.

It does make me sad that most of my favorites are no longer with us.

Thank them while you can.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Monday Scrapple

I haven't done a "Scrapple" entry in quite a while...

While I admire their grace and power, "Shark Week" just doesn't interest me.

You know fall is approaching when sports shows talking about baseball playoff possibilities.

Another massive data breach.  This time, it's Capital One.  I don't like it, but you have to realize that your personal information is never, ever safe.

Football throwback uniforms do nothing for me, but I do like when baseball does it.  I really enjoy seeing the Phillies in light blue.

The hoopla over the  Apollo 11 anniversary came and went far too quickly.

How's that soccer revolution coming along?

Friday was the 40th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Thurman Munson of the Yankees.  I remember watching Mike Gemei break the news on the old WDAU.

I flip around the TV dial every night at 11:35, and I do what I've been doing since Letterman retired-- turn on the radio.

The Wilkes-Barre Times~Leader has new owners.  I'm still thrilled the city has two competing newspapers.

I'm convinced that companies that put out disgusting food flavors, like mustard ice cream,  know they won't sell.  They just want the free publicity.

USA Today reports Samsung is getting rid of the smartphone headphone jack.  Please, don't.

Sunday, August 4, 2019

Classic Andy's Angles: Baltimore Power Plant

Today, it's another photo from my late 1980's Baltimore collection.

This is the Pratt Street Power Plant.  Yes, it actually was a power plant and had a strong connection to Baltimore's one-time huge railroad industry.  It was redeveloped in to an entertainment venue, struggling at first.

It was home to the first ESPN Zone in the country.  It closed.  It's now a book store and art/performance/concert space.  A web search says it's doing OK.

It'a a great building and I'm happy the city saved it.

Saturday, August 3, 2019

Classic Andy's Angles: Baltimore

The city of Baltimore has been in the news quite a bit over the past couple of weeks.  I have some definite thoughts on the controversy, but that's not what this blog is all about.

This is a photo of Baltimore City Hall I took in the late 80's.  It's a spectacular building, dating back to 1867.

A couple of quick personal notes.  I'm not a big traveler.  Baltimore was a yearly vacation destination for years.  It was far, without being too far.  Hotels were reasonable.  There was plenty to see and do, including the National Aquarium and the Science Museum.  I'd visit friends in York and Harrisburg on the way down, or on the way back home.

And yes, I liked going to malls in and around the city.  I grew up in a time when malls were new and cool, and the Baltimore area had some good ones.  I understand two of my favorites, Hunt Valley and Owings Mills were torn down.

I stopped going to Baltimore for a variety of reasons.  The city swallowed the quiet suburban area where I enjoyed staying.  I was in Baltimore 9/11/01.  I went back the next year and there were simply too many creepy memories, so I haven't been back since 2002.

Friday, August 2, 2019

Let's Review

Another vacation week is in the books.  Let's review.

I slept, read, got together with a former intern, hung out with a high school friend, rode my bike, went to the gym, and visited Sam's Club.

That's enough.  I'm happy.

There was one deviation from my other vacation weeks.  There is usually a 10 day vacation beard.  I actually shaved a few times during my time off!

I hope to see you tomorrow morning.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

August

It's August, the last month of summer, and I'm okay with that.  Above normal temperatures are fine in fall, winter, and spring.  Summer is a much different story.  As I write this, we've had ten 90+ degree days, and that's too many in my book.

I simply don't enjoy the heat as much as I once did.  I want those "open window" days of spring and fall.  I want the sun to set at a reasonable hour.  I want to be comfortable again.

I will admit that summer has flown by.  Back to school sales are underway.  It won't be long before jackets come out of the closet, the air conditioner comes out of the window, football starts, baseball ends, and decisions include what to eat at La Festa Italiana, and who to vote for in November.

Summer lovers, there is still a good month left.  I'll be counting the hours until Labor Day.

Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Diversion

I don't consider myself a huge sports fan, but I do spend a fair amount of time listening to sports talk radio. 

Ben Maller, who does 2 to 6 AM on FOX Sports Radio is great fun.  Most of the weekend shows on CBS Sports Radio are exceptionally entertaining.

I use sports talk radio as a diversion.  I love news, and it's how I make a living, but there are times you need a break for a few hours.

Here's the problem.  So much of sports talk radio these days is dedicated to things like contract hold outs, drugs, money and assorted other controversies.  The "diversion" factor has less of an impact.  I know you can't ignore that stuff, but it does take away from the fun.

I might have to find a new diversion.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Chopped

I say this in no uncertain terms:  I HATE FADS.

Last week, everyone was doing that Facebook thing that shows what you will look like decades down the road.  All that did was put more of your precious private information out where hackers can grab it.  Besides, if you want to know what you will look like when you get older, do what I did.  Wait a while.

Full disclosure:  I stole that from the late great George Carlin.  He was doing a routine on guys who shave their heads.  Carlin said if you want to be bald, do what I did.  Wait a while.  How I miss him!

One of the new fads is axe throwing, and places dedicated to the activity are popping up all over our area.  Many are paired with alcohol.  What can possibly go wrong?  Stop it.  Stop it now.

It seems like the only ones destined to make money off this are bandage manufacturers, doctors, insurance agents, and lawyers.


Monday, July 29, 2019

Why?

Last week, the Pittsburgh Steelers extended the contract of head coach Mike Tomlin by one year.

Why?

Last year was a disaster.  It seems like at least once per season, Tomlin loses control of his team.  There were several weeks last year where the Steelers led the league in penalties.  That shows a lack of discipline, and you trace that right back to the head coach.

The secondary is awful and the Steelers have done nothing to prepare for the day an aging Ben Roethlisberger can no longer play.

Mike Tomlin did not deserve a contract extension.


Sunday, July 28, 2019

Andy's Angles: There Used to be a Shoe Store Here

The Harrisburg Patriot regularly updates the business scene under the headline of "Retail Apocalypse." 

Yes, stores have been closing at an alarming rate, as the internet takes over.

This is the remnants of a shoe store in Scranton.

As I looked at the closed and dusty building, I started thinking how many pairs of shoes were sold here over the years, how did management bungle things so badly, what became of the staff, what happens to this space, who is next...

Stay tuned.  There is more to come.

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Never Cut Funny

I couldn't believe what I read in the newspaper the other day.

A story said a "popular" bar/restaurant was closing for good.

NewsFlash:  popular restaurants make money and money making restaurants never close.

As Stan Kaiser told Carl Rojack in "My Favorite Year,"  "NEVER CUT FUNNY."  In the business world, never cut money.

The story did raise the possibility the property would be leased or sold, and there you have it.  The property is worth more than the business inside.

Friday, July 26, 2019

Week Two

Sleeping Homer is back for his second appearance of 2019, and you know what that means.  It's vacation week.

This is statistically and historically one of the hottest weeks on the calendar, so I can hide from the heat for a while.

As always, no plans.  I do hope to catch up on some rest and maybe play with the camera for a bit.  A trip to KMart will be icing on the cake.

The big weekend morning broadcasts are in the capable hands of Carmella Mataloni.

I hope to see you again soon.


Thursday, July 25, 2019

Media Notes



I've enjoyed the heck out of this week's Apollo 11 hoopla, and a few things stuck out at me as I watched old footage from 50 years ago.  Walter Cronkite talked-- a lot!  Other than the astronauts,  Uncle Walter was THE face of the American space program, and his enthusiasm was contagious.  The NBC crew was matter of fact.  The ABC team of Frank Reynolds and Jules Bergman struck the right chord.  Unfortunately, ABC News was an "also ran" back then, and no one noticed.  We shall not see a time like the summer of 1969 ever again.

Norah O'Donnell took over as anchor of the "CBS Evening News" back on July 15th.  It's a solid broadcast, as it was under Jeff Glor.  It took only a few days before the newspaper headlines appeared, saying the ratings were plummeting.  Hey, give it a chance!  There is an audience shift any time there is an anchor change, and most broadcasts need time to build momentum.  There is no such thing as instant gratification.

I mentioned this before, and it's still happening. Bill O'Reilly's midday 15 minute radio show has picked up more big market affiliates.  I just wonder what happens next.

Hurricane Barry, thankfully, wasn't a huge storm earlier this month.  You can see the disappointment on the faces of the staff at The Weather Channel.

Former CNN Headline News anchor Bob Losure passed away recently.  72.  Losure was on Headline News when it did 30 minute newscasts, around the clock.  It was a marvelous and much needed service, and it's sad that we don't have anything like that any more.  Losure was smooth and calm and professional.  I'm sorry he's gone.

ABC's Sunday night game show block was number one in the ratings this past week.  It shows there is still an appetite for a good game show, and people want fresh programming during the summer.  I wish there were more games on weekdays, like the old days.  Yes, there were some dogs, but also, some gems.

Once again, radio shines during an emergency.  I was listening to WCBS and WINS during the recent New York City blackout.  It was outstanding work.  Unfortunately, so few stations are prepared to step up when times are tough.

I caught some of former Railriders announcer John Sadak doing a New York Mets game.  Great work!

The Mike Wallace documentary opens this weekend.  I can't find a local theater playing it yet.

The trailer for the Tom Hanks/Mister Rogers movie have dropped.  I'll level with you.  Fred Rogers was never my thing, but I did meet him in the mid 90's.  He was the genuine article.  That kind and gentle man you saw on TV was exactly the same as the one you met in person.  You might find me in a theater in November.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Sad and Sweet Farewell

Everyone who knows me knows I am a person of routine.  I have a system.  I like things the same way, all the time.

There is a mini mart between my home and the office.  It has everything.  Most of my visits involve purchasing only one item-- a giant icy cold diet cola.

Imagine my horror when I saw the sign on the window that the store is closing for two months of renovations!  I need my early morning fix.  Yes, there are other mini marts.  It won't be the same.  The fountain soda here is tremendous-- perfect temperature, perfect blend of syrup and fizzy water.

The staff is unfailingly friendly.  They're all going to different stores in the chain until the renovations are complete.  I said my farewells the other morning.

It's going to be a long two months.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

All Wet

It might not look like it, but I've been visiting a gym two or three times a week since November of 2012.  It's nothing extensive-- just a little calorie burn and a lot of sweating.

Something happened last week for the first time in seven years.  I forgot to bring a towel for the post workout shower.

There were two options-- take a shower at home, or make the best of it at the gym.

It was one of those broilingly hot mornings, and the humidity was 300 per cent.  The gym has air conditions and ceiling fans.  It wasn't enough.  I was dripping.  I love those showers.

Yes, I patted off what I could with paper towels.  My street clothes took care of some of the rest.  I dried off, eventually.  Every window in the car, plus the sun roof, was open.

It must have been one of those.  I also left my phone at home.

Monday, July 22, 2019

Fore!

Let's establish a few things off the top.  I have nothing more than a passing interest in golf, and I haven't picked up a club since college.  The folks like it, so I'll watch some TV coverage with them when I get the chance.

Something happened Thursday that blew me away.

British Open in Northern Ireland.  Rory McIlroy, and Irish kid, had an absolutely horrible round, finishing 8 over par.  It was a disaster from the first swing to the last, and in front of his home country fans.  Embarrassing, to say the least.

When McIlroy's round ended, he stopped to talk, live, with a reporter from The Golf Channel.  Most of us, myself included, would have uttered a three word phrase and walked away.  McIlroy didn't.

We are so used to seeing athletes at their worst.

This guy is a class act.

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Hot!

It's hot.  Very hot.

Yes, it's dangerous and a nuisance, and darned uncomfortable.

Let's not panic.  We can use a little common sense and we can get through this.

It's been hot before.

My old friend, David DeCosmo, brought up something on his blog, what I call a "geezer" moment.  He didn't have air conditioning as a kid.  Neither did I.  We survived.  Don't ask me how.

All we had to look forward to was that first cool night.

Saturday, July 20, 2019

One Small Step

This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the first moon landing.  It was one of my first "where were you when" moments.

I think the first was the RFK assassination in 1968.  It was a ritual in my house growing up:  "CBS Morning News" at 7.  "Captain Kangaroo" at 8.

I remember watching the black and white images of a wounded Kennedy on a Los Angeles hotel kitchen floor, but I remember the moment more from my parents reaction.  Sad.  Horrified.

The Apollo 11 landing was a much different story.  Awe.  You might find this hard to believe, but I was a geeky kid.  I was "in" to books, and listening to the radio, and watching television.  The
Apollo 11 mission was a week of unmitigated joy.

The Apollo glory moments were late at night and early in the morning.  I remember my parents allowing me to stay up late, watching the landing and moon walk sprawled out on the foot of their bed, viewing Armstrong, Aldren, and Cronkite on a black and white portable TV.  It was always Cronkite.  I can still see that TV.  It was big for a portable.  General Electric.  Blue case.  Antenna on top.

I don't remember how long I was able to keep my eyes open, but those awake moments were unforgettable.

Man's greatest adventure.  A kid's memory of sharing a special moment and history with the family.

Friday, July 19, 2019

I Still Don't Get It

I use the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton International Airport interchange all the time.  This week, I had my first experience with the new South Valley Parkway in the Nanticoke area.  Both feature roundabouts, and for the life of me, I can't figure out PennDot's fascination with these things.

Drivers don't like them.  They're confusing.  They take up a lot of space.  I see nothing wrong with a nice, clean intersection with a well timed and smart traffic light.  PennDot says the roundabouts are safer and they claim to have the statistics to back them up.

It seems to me the goal is to establish roads and intersections that make drivers feel comfortable and secure.  A roundabout is counter to that way of thinking.

In a stunning display of common sense, PennDot just announced it is abandoning plans for a roundabout along Route 118 in Luzerne County. 

Regardless, we're stuck with them and we have to get used to roundabouts being part of our lives.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Blackout

We saw it again Saturday night, and it's a subject I've prattled on about before-- the fragility of the American infrastructure.  In this case, it was the power grid.  One transmission line, at one substation fails, and a huge chunk of New York city falls in to darkness.  It took about six hours to fix the problem.

New York's governor was right when he said things like this shouldn't happen.

I'm surprised it doesn't happen more often.

The system is old.  It can be easily overwhelmed.  It can become unreliable.  A book written by Ted Koppel showed the American grid is prone to infiltration by unfriendlies.

A fix will cost trillions and no one wants a power generating station next door, and massive lines running overhead.

We will just have to learn to live with the danger.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Games and Greats

The recent passing of Arte Johnson started me thinking about a game show Johnson hosted on NBC for about nine months in 1977 and 1978.  It was completely forgettable.  To boil "Knockout" down to its essence, contestants were shown four items, and they had to guess which one didn't belong and why.  The show was nothing special.  It didn't last long, and I didn't think Johnson was very good.

It seemed like some of the essential elements were there.  Unfortunately, the show never gelled and and audience never took to it.  I wonder if Johnson would have been a better host if he had a better vehicle.

The same goes for another "Laugh In" alumnus, Dick Martin.  He hosted "Mindreaders" on NBC for 22 weeks in 1979 and 1980.  Martin was a funny guy.  Unfortunately, "Mindreaders" was a dog.  Contestants had to guess the way a celebrity would answer a personal question.  Again, Martin wasn't very good.  I think he would have been better if he had a better game on his hands.

Bottom line:  it's tough for a good host to save a bad show.

Peter Marshall of "Hollywood Squares" fame was asked for a few words after game show legend Bill Cullen died in 1990.  Marshall said Cullen's warmth, charm, and talent kept games on the air long after they should have been cancelled.   There is no higher compliment.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Park

Luzerne County manager David Pedri wants to see more people use Riverfront Park, along the Susquehanna River in Wilkes-Barre.  That's admirable.  It's in a beautiful location and you paid $ 20 million for it.

The park held a concert Friday night.  Above is a screen grab from a Newswatch 16 story.

Good crowd.  Not a great crowd.

While the aesthetics are great, the park has some things working against it. 

There is no close and easy parking.

You have to cross that speedway known as North River Street to get there.

Wilkes-Barre has a perceived crime problem.

I don't know what you can do about the parking.  You can't establish a big lot for only a handful of events a year.

You can do better traffic control on North River Street.

You can increase police presence before and after Riverfront park events.

All in all, this area has a lot going for it.  It should work.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Jim Bouton

Jim Bouton died last week.  80.  He had a couple of great years with the New York Yankees in the early 60's.

Jim Bouton is best known for writing an inside baseball book called "Ball Four."  I read it.  I loved it.

On the other hand...

I don't know if they still do, but baseball clubhouses had a sign, which read "What you see here, what you hear here, what you say here, STAYS HERE."

Jim Bouton betrayed a trust.    Yes, it was just tales of drinking and carousing.  Worse things have been said and done, written about, gossiped about...

"Ball Four" was written and published a very long time ago.  Time passes.  Sins forgiven.

It's still a tough one.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Andy's Angles: The Base

The Scranton Nay Aug Park tree house was closed for months because it was attached to rotting trees.  Steel now holds it up, and I hope it's around for a very long time.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

About the Cover: Treehouse

The City of Scranton needs help in several areas, and there are plenty of projects worthy of attention.

I guess there are higher priorities than a tree house at Nay Aug Park, but I'm glad they came up with the money to fix it.  Everybody loves it.

Friday, July 12, 2019

Weary

I'm really tired.

I know politics is a huge part of the news.  Even people like me, who are news junkies and are fascinated by the process, think the presidential election campaign is too soon, too much, too fast.

The focus of today's entry is the infiltration into weather and sports.  Everything goes through the filter.

Is there any escape?  Is there any aspect of American life where we can just relax, have fun, and forget about taking sides?


Thursday, July 11, 2019

Why?

Veterans with sensitivities don't like them.

Parents with young children don't like them.

Early risers don't like them.

Pet owners don't like them.

The elderly don't like them.

People who value quiet neighborhoods don't like them.

Medical personnel and hospital emergency room workers don't like them.

Firefighters don't like them.

Police officers don't like them.

Yet, we have roof rattling fireworks that knock you out of bed.

Why?

Follow the money.

Some state legislators say they are open to changing the law.  That's code for "Yes, we'll pretend to be concerned, and then we'll keep the law that brings in more money so we can throw it around and make it look like we're doing something."

Maybe a little boy would be alive today, and a family would still have its home.

There are plenty of fireworks displays put on by the experts, and they're spectacular.  That's enough.

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Butt Out!

There are styrofoam bans, plastic bag bans, plastic straw bans, plastic utensil bans...  I understand that.  I get that.

Why isn't there more talk about cigarette butts?  They're everywhere.  They never degrade.  And, it seems like people are more prone to flicking a cigarette butt out a car window than a spork.

Smoking bans in Pennsylvania seem to have stalled.  There are bills in the legislature to get rid of all the exemptions in the weak and current law.  I don't expect them to advance.

In spite of the bans that exist, we still seem to be buried in cigarette butts.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Carded!

The sign greeted me as I walked in to one of my favorite supermarkets.  Its shoppers club will continue, but the chain is phasing out the cards and key tags.  You will now enter your phone number on a little key pad at the register.

I'll miss the little chime that sounded when the electronic reader recognized the card.  On the other hand it is more convenient.

Problem:  I signed up for the shopper's club many years ago, and I didn't remember the phone number I used.

My most recent visit was at 4 AM, and there was no one in line behind me.  I asked the polite and patient cashier if I could try the phone number thing, explaining that I've had a lot of phone numbers over the years.

First try:  nothing.

I nailed it on the second!  I was amazed.

I would anticipate every chain will be going in the plastic-less direction in the months to come.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Next?



The recent resignation of Scranton mayor Bill Courtright started me thinking about mayors I've covered since my professional career began.

Eugene Hickey was the first, a nice man, very low key.  A lot of things, bad things, happened on his watch.  Two of the biggest were the energy crisis and Scranton's population slide.  Hickey can't be blamed for the first.  He might have  been able to help with the second.  Oppenheim's closed on Hickey's watch.  Again, not his fault.  The idea for a downtown mall, with the working title of Westgate, started during Hickey's one term in city hall.

Jim McNulty was next.  Love him, or hate him, you have to admit McNulty thought big.  Who could forget McNulty's inaugural ball in the empty Oppenheim building because he wanted to show Al Boscov what that building looked like filled with people.  The mall thing received a lot of attention.  McNulty also floated the idea for a downtown arena.   Steamtown USA arrived, and failed.  We saw heavyweight boxing matches, movie filming and several other media events during McNulty's one term.  It was fun.

By the way, the Oppenheim stunt was a great idea.  Boscov passed because the building was too small, too old, and it had an old style valet parking garage.

Unfortunately, McNulty was not a traditional mayor, not a nuts and bolts guy.  That opened the door for David Wenzel.  Wenzel approached the office with his typical quiet dignity and class.  The mall did make some progress during Wenzel's single term.  Other than that, there was a general feeling the city was stagnating.  Wenzen didn't seek reelection.

Enter Jimmy Connors-- a people person if there ever was one,  Media friendly.  Approachable.  Accessible.  The mall opened and the Globe closed on Connors' watch.  The city was in major financial trouble.  Connors never raised taxes.  Perhaps, that was a mistake.  A switch back to the Democrat party didn't earn many friends.  Connors finished third in the 2001 Democratic primary.

Chris Doherty was next.  A young professional, Doherty brought a youthful enthusiasm to the office.  The financial problems remained.  Scranton voters sent him back two more times, and after that third term, Doherty declared it was time for a change.

Scranton voters chose Bill Courtright to be their next mayor.  He seemed to get a handle on the city's finances, mainly by selling off city assets.  Outside of his investigation and felonies, Courtright really wasn't much of a headline maker.  As I said last week, Courtright was there, most of the time, when you needed him.

Here is my point.  Other than McNulty, with a little bit of Connors and Doherty, Scranton hasn't had many true leaders-- cheerleaders who will get the place noticed, and in a good way.  These days, it isn't enough to balance the checkbook. You have to get people to believe in themselves and their city.

Think of that as the new mayor selection process moves along.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Andy's Angles: Mixed Feelings

I've always had mixed feelings about cell phone antennas.  We depend on wireless communications for information and safety.  On the other hand they sure are ugly, especially when bolted to the frint and sides of one of the most interesting buildings in downtown Wilkes-Barre.

I would hope the day is coming when we can make these things smaller and less obtrusive.