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Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Out of Print

Electric City recently stopped publishing, and its contents were folded into a new web site.

I'll miss the print version of the arts and entertainment weekly.  Even though you can now get the same things on-line, it was nice to have on the table in front of me has I had that morning bowl of Cracklin' Oat Bran.

After it ditched a mean spirited and inaccurate gossip column the publishers should have been embarrassed to carry, Electric City became a solid read-- food, entertainment, music, movies, things to do...

I'm sorry to see it go, and I do realize things in print have an uphill battle these days.  It's an archaic way to get the message out.

Thursday morning breakfast won't be the same.

Monday, June 24, 2019

This Old House

It's tough to move on.

The mother of one of my best childhood friends died several years ago.

My friend died a few years ago.

His father recently died.

You know what happens next.

The house was sold.

It was filled with memories.  Monopoly games at the kitchen table.  Summer afternoons on the front porch.  The basement dart board.  A big friendly fluffy cat.  Slot cars and trains under the Christmas tree that were the envy of every kid in the neighborhood.

I miss those days.

Good times.  Great friendship.

I will never get used to seeing other people in that house.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Andy's Angles: Skyline

Scranton is a sprawling city, but its downtown is rather compact.  There are some lovely buildings here, but not much of a skyline.

The hospital dominates the shot.  The train station hotel is just to the left, and the Chamberlain plant is to the left of that.

Even though I've taken photos here before, it was a rare clear day, so I went for it.

Saturday, June 22, 2019

Andy's Angles: Pavilion

It's the first weekend of summer, and this photo epitomizes the season.  It's one of the pavilions at Nay Aug Park in Scranton-- on a rare sunny and dry day.

I didn't crop it, so you can see the lush lawn surrounding it.  Yes, the rain has done something good for grass, as long as it gets a little sun once in a while.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Always Freeze on an 8

ABC has made a thing of doing old game show revivals during the summer, and for the most part, they've been OK.

Pyramid is true to the original, fortunately.  To Tell the Truth isn't, unfortunately.  I have yet to see Press Your Luck, but I have caught Card Sharks.

It's nice to hear the old theme, which actually started with a short lived Alex Trebek hosted show called Double Dare.

Back to Card Sharks, contestants play one game.  Ten cards rather than the old five.  The game is flawed.  There is a maximum of five survey questions.  If there is no winner by the fifth, it's sudden death-- play or pass, just like the old days.  It's hard to get all the way across the ten card board in five questions, so it all comes down to that one last question, and that's not right.

The bonus round is similar to the old one, but with a lot more money.  The display needs work.  It's tough to follow bets and accumulated money.

The audience is too noisy.  The contestants are too hyper.

The guy with the pretentious scruff, host Joel McHale isn't bad, but I don't think he brings much to the table either.

My big problem is the pacing.  It's just too darn slow. 

There were two daytime versions of Card Sharks, one from 78 to 81 and another from 86 to 89.  Jim Perry did the original with a great deal of energy, and he really moved the show along.  Bob Eubanks was a little slower and the show was filled with gimmicks.  It still wasn't bad.

The new Card Sharks really needs to pick up the pace.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

One Job

Retailers like Walmart and Target have one job:  make customers happy.

Both occasionally fall short of the mark.  Way short.

It's long been established here that I work all night and sleep all day.  There aren't many options for shopping on my schedule.  I've found it's easier on my body if I keep the same sleep arrangement, even on my days off.

It usually happens Wednesday morning at Walmart.  The cash registers shut down at 4 AM for a weekly update.  They are off line for about 15 minutes.  Granted, there aren't many people in the store at the time-- fellow night owls and insomniacs, and plenty of workers in the national gas industry, on their way to work.  We're all just standing around, staring at our phones and NOT spending money.

Saturday afternoon, the computer that controls the cash registers at Target shut down for two hours and the chain lost millions of dollars.

Walmart is the nation's largest retailer.  Target has nearly 2,000 stores.  You mean to tell me those two behemoths don't have back up systems?  It's 2019!

Keeping customers happy and spending is your job.  Get to work!

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Bike Update

Thanks to a chilly and wet spring, biking season got off to a slow start this year.  I'm happy to report that I've logged a few nice trips recently.  It's really nothing out of the ordinary-- just pedaling about the small towns that surround me.

New year, same old story.  LED street lights aren't as good as the ones they replaced, even if they do save energy.  The roads are still a mess.  There is something new this year-- dirt and rocks loosened up and pushed onto the streets by all the recent rain.  People still run their clothes dryers and fire up their grills in the middle of the night.  Drivers are mostly courteous and give me plenty of room.  Visibility helps.  I always wear my reflective vest.

One thing is a little odd this year.  2018 seemed to be a banner year for stray cats, skunks, bunnies and possums.  The critter count seems to be down this year.

Look for animal updates as the summer continues.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Don

I'm terribly sorry I didn't get to this sooner...

Don Carey died June 9.  He was 75.

Don was a Times~Leader photographer for many years, and he was one of the best.

You'd never know it by looking at his work, or watching him work, but Don was handicapped.

Being a newspaper photographer is one of the toughest jobs in the business.  You lug gear.  You change lenses on the fly.  You shoot in some very challenging situations.  Bad weather.  Crime scenes.  Mob scenes.  People who don't want their picture taken.  It's a very long list.

Don performed his job with class and dignity, and he was a very nice man.  Your morning newspaper was better because Don Carey's work was in it.

My sympathy to his family and friends.

Monday, June 17, 2019

21

Today is my 21st anniversary at WNEP.

I've been lucky and blessed.

It's still fun. 

There is still gas left in the tank.

There are major challenges ahead.

Thank you for watching, and reading.

I wanted to close by saying "see you tomorrow," but I have the day off.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Andy's Angles: Jonah

I haven't done a kitty picture in a while.  This is Jonah, one of Nathan and Peanut's friends.

I wanted to sit there.  Jonah wasn't giving up the chair.  He always wins.  I sat somewhere else.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Andy's Angles: Dawn

Ballparks are nice, even when they're empty and locked up.

This is a recent dawn at the ballpark known as Lackawanna County Stadium in Moosic.

No, I wasn't trespassing.  I stuck my arm through the gate!

Friday, June 14, 2019

Atty. Pete

Attorney Peter Loftus of Waverly died this week.  79.  It was an outstanding resume, including the FBI and a distinguished law practice.

I wish I could tell you "the rest of the story," but Atty. Loftus represented WARM and I during a witch hunt many years ago.  It involved the alleged violation of a court gag order and who said what to whom.

Part of the caper that morning involved a horribly drawn up subpoena, and someone you know rather well hiding out in a restaurant in case the gang that couldn't shoot straight eventually got the subpoena right.

Yes, there was also the threat of someone you know well going to jail if the dominoes tumbled in the other direction.

In spite of all that, Atty. Loftus was clear, calm, and confident.  I was happy he was on my side.

My sympathy to his family, friends, and fortunate clients.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Takin' Care of Business

Some sports items, but sports really is big business...

I cried when the Phillies' Andrew McCutcheon ripped up his knee and was lost for the season.  Different teams.  Same story.  The guy consistently produces without the "it's all about me" attitude.

The NY Post reports the Yankees' YES Network is branching out in to audio, and might be partnering with Amazon to host some of the product.  The story didn't say anything about radio.  He's had a long and distinguished career, but it's time for John Sterling to retire.

Shifting gears...

There is a massage business (legitimate) not far from my house.  A friend is a regular and she has wonderful things to say about the place.  It's one of those salons that also preaches health, wellness, etc.  It's odd that any time I drive by, one of the employees is sitting on the front stoop, having a smoke.

WalMart is redesigning its employee smocks and is relaxing its dress code.  Happy employees are productive employees.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

One More

I'm like an old dog with a bone on this graduation thing.  I can't let it go.  One more photo and story before I move on.

Once upon a time, there was a school on this lot.  It was half high school, half elementary school, and all fire trap.  We split our time between the school that used to be here and the one you see on the right.

Then, the state condemned the old school in 1976.  It was just too dangerous.  The old school was torn down years later, and unfortunately, I was occupied by other things at the time.  I would have loved to watch the demolition.

The property was sold to a church.  The church established a beautiful park here.  The trees and shrubs have grown nicely, and it's an asset to this part of town.  My personal preference would have been to plow salt in to the earth so nothing grows there, ever again.

On the other hand, it is wonderful to see something so nice on a piece of land that could have witnessed the death of dozens.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

3 Years

This is where I spent the last three years of my public school education-- a prison like brick box of nasty smells and busted dreams.    Okay, I stole part of that line from "The Drew Carey Show."

It was a poorly maintained building that outlived its usefulness long before I wandered the halls.  Twice during my time, a water pipe burst, flooding the bottom rooms and buckling the gym floor.  After repairs, the state forced the district to move the basketball games elsewhere because there wasn't enough room beyond the baseline.  If you ran hard after making a basket, you were slamming in to a wall.

Sadly, the people in charge of the district thought it was just fine.

The building is now home to senior citizens' apartments.  I'm glad something useful happened to it.

I was never sure if my graduation was a commencement or a parole.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Memories

I noted Saturday that it was the 40th anniversary of my high school graduation.

As I recall, it wasn't a happy time.  I didn't feel that I learned anything and I was terrified of bombing out at college.  I blame myself for the "not learning anything" part.  I didn't challenge myself enough.  No one at the school really cared enough to say "You shouldn't be here.  You should be taking another set of classes."  I do recall one teacher who told me he felt I should be on another track.  That was it.  It turns out I did OK in college.  That first semester was tough, and I had to work long and hard to get the hang of things, but I made it.  I knew more than I thought I did.

Back to graduation night, a Lackawanna County judge was the guest speaker.  Face it.  No one listens to those things.  Everyone is just looking at their watches (or phones).  The minutes passed like hours.  There has to be a better way.  Finally, it was over.

I do remember several of my classmates crying tears of sadness, not joy.  I couldn't understand it.  The shackles were off.  Freedom!  Celebrate!

I walked home to unwind.  It really wasn't that far.  I blew off a few opportunities to go out.  Instead, the Yankees were in Kansas City and I stayed home to watch the game.


The summer was spent pivoting toward college and transitioning away from high school.  It's funny.  I had a best friend in high school.  We all did.  We hung out every day for five years-- before school, during school, after school.  In those 40 years, I've seen him all of  three times.

I have been in touch with a few people from back in the day, but you have to realize that when we walked out the door of that school, we lost the just about only thing we had in common.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

About the Cover: Classic Harrisburg

Yes, it is an old photo on the cover this month.

Same old story-- lousy weather when I had free camera time, so I pulled this one out of the archives.

It was taken in January of 1995-- the day Tom Ridge became Pennsylvania's governor.  Ridge was the first to take the oath of office on the Commonwealth Avenue side of the building-- at the new annex.

I was also there for the first Casey inauguration, on the old side of the building.  I have to level with  you.  I thought the look was better on the old side, but the new side seemed to accommodate more guests.

Maybe we'll get better weather this month, and there will be a new header here for July.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Andy's Angles: 40

Today is the 40th anniversary of my high school graduation.

I remember it was a hot, humid, and stormy evening.  The ceremony was in an elementary school in Throop because it was the only school in the district with an auditorium big enough to hold the ceremony, and it was the only building in the district that wasn't in imminent danger of burning down or falling down.

I'll have more to say about that time in the days to come.

Yes, that's me above, in senior year typing class, one of the three most valuable classes in that horrible place.  We used IBM Selectrics, the ones with the ball rather than keys,  in a district that wasn't known for spending on things that students actually need and use.

That's Vinnie Kovak behind me, great kid and I occasionally wonder whatever happened to him.
That's me in the same classroom.  Got to love that hair cut.  There were no uniforms back then.  Jeans.  Flannel shirts.

Notice those state of the art window shades.  State of the art if it was during the Spanish American War.

Also notice the plywood covering one of the windows.  For some reason, one cold morning, my friend Tommy decided it would be a good idea to pick at the flimsy and brittle caulk that was keeping the window from crashing three stories to the sidewalk below.  Tommy accidentally broke the glass.  Thankfully, our typing teacher was a gentle soul and didn't freak out.

This was the sorry excuse for the repair-- a piece of wood rather than a good piece of glass.  I think it remained that way until the building was turned into apartments for senior citizens.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Sweet

What happened to ketchup?

A furor recently erupted when a Pittsburgh area amusement park switched to Hunt's over home town Heinz.

The PBS show, "America's Test Kitchen" did a taste test and preferred Hunt's.  The hosts usually say people choose the brand they grew up with.  In my case, it's Heinz.

But, something changed.  I recently cracked open a brand new bottle.  There is a new controversy over using sugar versus corn syrup.  I really don't care.  Here is what bugged me.  I found it to be way too sweet.  Horribly so.  Yuk!

I don't use that much ketchup, so I'm stuck with this bottle for a while, and I'm in no mood to start sampling a bunch of different brands to find one that actually puts the tomatoes and spices ahead of the sugar.

Heinz, you really messed with something good.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

D Day

Today is the 75th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion, otherwise known as D Day.

I always had the ultimate respect for those there that day.  How would you like to be told that you were heading out on a mission, and there was a good chance you weren't coming back?

I've often wondered why the D Day anniversary isn't a bigger deal in the USA.  It's probably because it didn't happen on American soil.  I suspect this year will be the exception because it's the 75th anniversary.

I've also often wondered why more things aren't named after Dwight D. Eisenhower.  War hero.  Immensely popular president.

Most of the people involved with D Day have passed.  A few are still around to tell their stories, and I'll be listening to as many as I can.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

What Were They Thinking?

I work at a television station.  TV's are everywhere.  They are unavoidable.  Several are tuned to Antenna TV, carried on WNEP2.

Sunday morning at 12:30, it's the "Paul Lynde Show" followed by "Lotsa Luck."

Someone thought it was a good idea to cast Lynde as a lawyer, with a family that includes his live-in son in law.

Dom DeLuise is in "Lotsa Luck.  He runs a public bus company lost and found department.  His live in family includes a dead beat brother in law.

Both series starred two of the most outrageously funny men to ever walk the planet, and both series were dreadful.  Lynde lasted for 26 episodes in 1972 and 73.  DeLuise managed to get 22 episodes out of "Lotsa Luck" the following season.

You just wonder about the thought process that produced those two series.  I'm sure they seemed like good ideas at the time, with two established stars.

Even though they were bombs, it is fun to look back.  Each series had their moments.

Like just about everything in life, sometimes, it just doesn't work out.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Follow Up Tuesday

REVISITING EARLIER TOPICS...

Major League Baseball attendance is still down.  It's sad to watch the morning highlight show on MLB Network and see all the empty seats.  An idea:  make home runs harder to hit, so they will be something special again.

Jeff Glor, hosed out of his "CBS Evening News" anchor slot,  has agreed to stay on with the network.  He will co-anchor the Saturday morning news and be a special correspondent.  Seems like a really nice deal.  Nothing against weekend morning news, but a lot of people would have walked.

It will be a long time before the funk over the rainy and stormy weather wears off.  At least, we had a good Memorial Day.

I've been trying to organize my photo collection, the old stuff-- the prints.  I didn't realize I had so much.

The Scranton Wilkes-Barre Railriders, once again, are close to the bottom in International league attendance.  It's not a surprise.   While the team has some great promotions, this is the smallest market in the IL and the weather this spring has been nothing short of horrible.


Monday, June 3, 2019

June

I've been looking forward to this month.  It's the 50th anniversary of the first landing on the moon.

As I've noted here earlier, one of my guilty pleasures is watching old newscasts and election nights on YouTube.  Many of the newscasts and special reports I watch deal with the space program.  Outside of Vietnam, assassinations, political unrest and Watergate, the late 60's and early 70's was a great time to be a kid because those rocket launches and moon missions were simply fascinating.

I hope the networks open the archives this month to show us the way things were actually covered way back then.

Walter Cronkite was the gold standard on CBS, although he was criticized for his cheerleading.  It was understandable.

Frank McGee did most of the space stuff on NBC.  There were assists from Huntley and Brinkley, but McGee carried the ball most of the time.  In fact, Cronkite owning the space story is given partial credit for CBS breaking apart the Huntley/Brinkley ratings machine.  I have to admit, the NBC stuff was solid, but a bit on the dry side.

Frank Reynolds was ABC anchor for most of the space shots.  He took the middle ground.  Obvious pride, but none of that Cronkite glee.

Three networks.  Three approaches.  One amazing story, even 50 years later.


Sunday, June 2, 2019

Andy's Angles: West Hazleton




This is the view from Washington and Broad, in West Hazleton,  taken early Monday morning.  West Hazleton is often overshadowed by the city of Hazleton next door, but the borough has a lot going for it, including some big and nice houses along the main drags.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Andy's Angles: New Memorial




West Hazleton has a new memorial.  It's dedicated to those served in Vietnam, and the four
West Hazleton residents who died there are listed here.

Vietnam and Korean War veterans still don't get all the recognition they deserve.  The new monument goes a long way in helping repair the damage.

Friday, May 31, 2019

I Wanted to Be With You Alone, and Talk About the Weather

Okay, everyone is weighing in on the weather.  It's my turn.

I lost a window to a hail stone this week.  It could have been worse.  I was watching WNEP coverage, when the director punched up the downtown Scranton camera looking to the east.  I saw a huge, big, dark, low cloud, and I thought, "this is it."  Turned out, it wasn't, and I'm counting my lucky stars.

Clearly, something is happening.  Whether it's a blip on the radar, or part of a long term trend, the jury is still out.  I'm sorry it's become politicized, and I'm not going down that road.

Technology has improved and it appears the National Weather Service is quicker to pull the trigger on watches and warnings these days.  It's a good thing.  You can't warn people early enough.

Keep an eye on the sky, and with any luck, we'll be here to talk tomorrow.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

It's Not Fair

Former major leaguer Bill Buckner died the other day.  69.

He had a solid career-- 22 years, .289 average, more than 2,700 hits.

Unfortunately, Buckner will always be remembered for one horrible moment--  an error that helped give the New York Mets the 1986 World Series.

Buckner confronted the issues.  He didn't hide.  Bill Buckner threw out the first pitch at a Red Sox game in 2008.  He was cheered and forgiven, as he should be.

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Vacation Season

A coworker and I were talking about vacations the other day.  This was the first time we worked together out on the road, and she was curious about my likes and dislikes.

I will admit, she nailed it when she said I appear to be a person who doesn't like people and crowds.  Yes, I'm not a beach guy.

I did say that I was fond of Baltimore for a long time, but it's gone down hill.  the Inner Harbor has become far too touristy, with a lot of things you can find in other places.  It lost its uniqueness.  The thing that really turned me against it had nothing to do with the city itself.  That's where I was on 9/11/01.  I went back the next year, and it was just too creepy, and that was my last visit to Baltimore.

My other favorite vacation thing to do was travel across Route 6 to Erie, stare at the lake for a few days and return.  If you haven't done it, Route 6 is one of America's great roads, with beautiful small towns along the way.  Fantastic scenery.  I'd take Routes 86 and 17 across the southern tier of new York on the way home.  It wasn't quite as scenic, but it does have its charm.  There would always be a visit with friends in Corning along the way.

As the years passed, I've become happy with venturing out as far as my back porch.  It's good enough for me.

Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Media Tuesday

"Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?!" is coming to an end.  The company that produces it made the call.  Mixed feelings.  It was a fine show, and great fun to play along.  Unfortunately, in 17 years, only two people won the $1 million, and it's no fun to watch a game that no one wins.  I will give the producers credit.  Unlike "Deal or No Deal," they didn't junk it up with a bunch of stunts and gimmicks.

"The Big Bang Theory" ended its run this month.  I enjoyed the early years.  I pulled out when it became another bickering couples comedy.

Never saw "Game of Thrones."  Never will.  If you were a fan, I'm sorry.  The rest of us are thrilled the endless discussions have come to an end.

I looked at the networks' fall schedules.  Once again, nothing jumped out at me as "must see."  I'm sure something will be a surprise hit.

I missed the live and updated "All in the Family" and "Jeffersons" special that recently ran on ABC.  It was well reviewed, and I give Jimmy Kimmel credit for getting it done.

CBS canceled "Murphy Brown."  I really wanted it to succeed, but the producers were intent on making it a one joke broadcast, and look what happens.

I am seriously looking forward to the ABC reboots of "Press Your Luck," and especially "Card Sharks."

Unless I missed it, Marywood University's student newspaper didn't do its end of spring semester university report card this year.  What happened?

"Brockmire" on IFC wrapped up its third season, eight episodes, last week.  The series went in a slightly different direction this time around, still insanely funny.

Scott Pelley dropped a bombshell on CNN over the weekend.  It was shocking there wasn't a decent line of follow up questions.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day

I'll spare the sermons, but there are a few things I want to touch on today.

First, please take a moment to remember what the day is all about.  A co worker and I were talking the other day about how Memorial Day has morphed into a second Veterans Day.  I'm sort of okay with that.  It's another opportunity to honor those who have served, but I can understand how some people want to keep the original intent-- remember those who have died while serving.

I usually say this every year.  Memorial Day is a tough day in the television news business.  Every community has an observance, as it should be.  We get to as many as we can, but it is impossible to get to them all, and people become offended.  I understand.  Please keep in mind that your town's observance is significant and special, whether or not a television camera is present.

Thank you to those who served, and continue to serve.

To families who have lost loved ones, your sacrifice is remembered.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Andy's Angles: Not As It Appears

On the surface, this looks like a really cool thing-- people lined up to vote.  Democracy in action.  People interested in the process.  Civic duty.  Responsibility.  Pride.

It's not as it appears.  The line formed because people were having problems signing in.  It looked to be a combination of factors including human error and machine error.  The problems were eventually solved.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

Andy's Angles: I Need to Get Out More

This a shot of Coal Street Complex in Wilkes-Barre.  Clearly, it was taken election day.

Photographer Jason and I chose this as our election morning location because there is plenty of parking and we can stay out of everyone's way.

Oddly enough, the only times I've been here have been on election days, and my last visit was in November of 2015.

It really looks like a nice place, and I'm intrigued by the Penguins store.  A non-work visit is on my agenda.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Election PS

Just a few more thoughts on Tuesday's election...

Voter turnout in Luzerne county was around 20 per cent.  I will spare you the lecture.

Please take note, that even though it slips through once in a while, I try to avoid the word "loser."  Politics is tough.  Anyone who gets involved, even if they don't get enough votes, is not a loser.

Tuesday's election did not discriminate.  Candidates who were strong in their convictions were not returned to office.  Candidates who based every decision on the direction of the wind at that particular moment also were not returned to office.

It happens every time.  Some candidates blamed the media for their problems.  Once again, I will spare you the lecture.   I did notice some name calling in opinion pieces.  I can't endorse that.  It's borderline bullying.

All my evidence is anecdotal, but I did detect an uptick in problems at polling places on Tuesday.  Some were equipment issues.  The rest was human error.  I say it all the time:  This is (insert year here) and this shouldn't be happening.

In a non election note, former neighborhood activist and Scranton Public Works director Ed Pisano died this week.  He really had the DPW humming during the Wenzel administration.   If I remember correctly, one of his incentives was for workers to get the job done, and go home.  Assigned tasks were performed quickly and efficiently.  When the job was done, the workers could leave.  It worked!  Eddie was always accessible and a very nice man.  My sympathy to his family and friends.


Thursday, May 23, 2019

Farewell

I know I should have written this entry sooner, but the election got in the way.

Martin Tower in Bethlehem was imploded Sunday morning.  What you see above is a screen grab from video shot by WNEP's Dan Turansky.  You saw the implosion live on Newswatch 16 Sunday Morning.

So many people were happy to see the building go, and I get that.  It had been empty for years.  No one was interested in redeveloping it.  New stores, offices and apartments will go up in its place.

Me?  I was horrified.

Martin Tower was a landmark.  It stood there majestically, coming in to view as you swung off Route 22 and on to Route 378.  More importantly, it stood for something.  It was a monument to the days when America made things.  In this case, it was steel.  At one time, Bethlehem Steel was the second largest steel producer in the United States.  Those days are long gone.

It is a little strange when you think about this.  The Bethlehem Steel mill, just a few miles away, has been redeveloped into a casino, shopping mall, concert venue and arts space.  The Lehigh Valley's public television station has a first class facility here.

We saved the rusting and rotting mill.  We couldn't save the headquarters.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Vote 19: The Numbers

Fred Keller goes to the United States Congress in the 12th district.  No surprise.  He ran a well funded campaign, and a Republican wins in a heavily Republican district.  Having President Trump on your side in central Pennsylvania is a huge plus.  As I repeatedly said in the 2016 primaries, underestimate Donald Trump at your own risk.

Not only did Tony George lose in his bid for reelection as Wilkes-Barre mayor, it wasn't even close.  As Rush Limbaugh said after the 1992 presidential election, the American people fired George Bush.  Tony George got fired last night. Wilkes-Barre still has a perceived crime problem.  The Solomon Creek flood wall should have been built by now.  Many believed Mayor George was not receptive to the complaints and concerns of city residents.  Challenger George Brown promised to show up and listen at council meetings, which was the right thing to say.  The George administration was filled by problems in the police department, which he once headed as chief.  It was just too much for the mayor to overcome.

One other Wilkes-Barre note, and that's the nice total councilwoman Beth Gilbert finished with.  Her personal financial issues made it in to the paper.  She won anyway, based on her reputation as someone willing to go against the tide.  Keep an eye on Gilbert.  She has a future.

Now, the big surprise.  The power of incumbency and the power of a large campaign war chest was not enough for Pat O'Malley to win a third term as Lackawanna County Commissioner.  A lot of things finally caught up with him.  O'Malley was a Democrat, who switched to Republican and back to Democrat.  He was viewed as an opportunist.  There are many who feel converting the old Globe department store into county offices was an expensive mistake.  O'Malley was not in favor of reassessment, a procedure many viewed would restore fairness to the system.  Some of his commercials were viscous and just plain false.  I won't get in to the production values.  Members of county administration came under fire for not playing taxes and garbage fees, and that reflected on their boss.  Some were tired of O'Malley's constant  quest for free publicity.  O'Malley finishes third in a four person race.

Jerry Notarianni came out on top on the Democratic side in Lackawanna County.  Newcomer, and O'Malley running made, Debi Domenick came in second.  It will be interesting to see if fences can be mended and if these two can run as a team in November.

On the Republican side, Chermak and Gianetta cruise to a win.  Incumbent Laureen Cummings finishes third.  It was a bit surprising.  Cummings has a solid Tea Party base.  It just wasn't enough.  Lackawanna County's first female commissioner will not have a second term.  Perhaps Republicans were upset Cummings was aligned with O'Malley for much of her term.

There will be new faces on the Scranton school board and Scranton city council.  People want change.  It's clear the city isn't run as well as it should be, and the dysfunction in the Scranton School District is now legendary.

Turnout looked light yesterday, and turnout is always a factor in every election.  It will be interesting to see the final numbers.  Lackawanna County's turnout was about 30 per cent, higher than I expected.  I saw a lot of quiet polling places on my Tuesday travels.

Now, on to November.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Election Day!

It's primary election day, and as I write this, my assignments today are still in a state of flux.

I know I yammer on about this before every off-year election.  Turnout will be down and that's sad.  There is no reason for that.  You are electing supervisors, mayors, council members, commissioners, school board members, etc...  These are the people who have an impact on your taxes, your police, your municipal services and your kids' education.  This election will likely have more of an influence on your life than the presidential election.  Go out and vote.

I'll be watching this one from the sidelines.  Independents can't vote today.  There is a move afoot to change that.  I don't see it happening.  That is another story for another time.

Look for updates here today.  Facebook and Twitter, too.

I'll go home after my shift ends today, take a nap, and watch the Newswatch 16 team get you the latest numbers and the reaction tonight.

I have some ideas on how things will end tonight.  Look for a little analysis in this space tomorrow.

VOTE!  Please!

>>>2:30 AM UPDATE:   Breaking news!  I skipped my traditional election morning breakfast of a fast food spicy chicken sandwich and fries.  I wasn't feeling it, and yesterday was a very long day.  I'll tell that story one of these days.  I did hit the office a half hour early.  Some election preview stories were banged out yesterday.  I came in to tweak, record the audio, and hand them over to editor Jason.  Hang on.  It's just beginning.

>>>4:15 AM UPDATE:   Skipping the traditional spicy chicken sandwich was a mistake.  The Pop Tarts at the office just didn't get it done, and I'm hungry.  Be that as it may, this update comes to you from WNEP truck 26, my home for the next several hours.  Photographer Jason is setting up a camera and lights outside a polling place in Wilkes-Barre.  See you on Newswatch 16 This Morning, beginning at 4:30 AM

>>>9:00 AM UPDATE:    Sorry for the gap.  It got busy there for a while.  Polling places opened at 7.  Wilkes-Barre looked active.  I interviewed both candidates for the Democratic nomination for mayor.  Look for the story on Newswatch 16 at Noon.  Writing and editing momentarily.

>>>9:48 AM UPDATE:   There are times when a story isn't focused in your head, but it flows when your fingers hit the keyboard.  This one was a breeze, and I have to admit that I surprised myself.  Editor Bonnie takes it from here.  Below is a screen grab from our noon story.  Tony George on the left, and George Brown, campaigning in the same place at the same time this morning.


>>>10:30 AM UPDATE:    Bonnie has finished editing and has moved on to other tasks.  Time to monitor social media and talk with crews in the field to learn what's going on out there.

>>>11:45 AM UPDATE:  It's almost time to call it a day.  I usually vote on the way home, but independents are on the sidelines today.  If you are eligible, please go out and vote.  From what I understand, most turnout is on the light side today, so it shouldn't take long.  I'll watch the returns tonight, and look for a little analysis in this space tomorrow.  Thanks for reading.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Saturday Night

Last week's passing of comedy legend started me thinking about the 1970's CBS Saturday night line up.

It started with "All in the Family" at 8, followed by "MASH," "Mary Tyler Moore," "Bob Newhart" and finally "Carol Burnett."  It might have been the best night of TV, start to finish, in history.  If not, it's on the very short list.

Times change.  Saturday nights are now sports, news magazines, and "repurposed" shows.  We will never see a line up, like the one CBS offered, ever again.

Speaking of Tim Conway, a TV critic offered a conspiracy theory the other day.  Like a lot of people, I watched Carol Burnett just to see if Harvey Korman would keep a straight face during sketches with Conway.  He rarely did, and that was part of the fun.  The critic theorized that because Korman knew what lines and moves were coming through rehearsals, his break ups were staged.

It's possible.  I like to think Korman's reactions were sincere.  Korman and Conway are both gone.  I doubt remaining living members of the cast will spill the beans, and I hope they never do.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Andy's Angles: Providence





Way back when...

I like to say Scranton is not a city.  It is a collection of small neighborhoods.  Back in the day, they were cities unto themselves.  Home, apartments, stores and other businesses, services like barber shops, pharmacies, movie theaters, bakeries, and banks...  Green Ridge, Bull's Head, South Side, West Side, Petersburg...

Sadly, those days are gone.

I passed through the Providence section of Scranton the other day.  It's not what it once was.  The bank closed long ago.  There are plenty of empty storefronts and run down buildings  Some restaurants and bars remain, and that's a good thing.  There is at least a little life here.

It doesn't seem like it's that far from a resurgence.

Saturday, May 18, 2019

Andy's Angles: The Castle




The Sunday morning shootings at the Castle after hours club in Scranton were sad in and of themselves.  A young man lost his life.  A child will be born without a father.  Tragedy at every turn.

It was even more sad for those of us who remember the Castle as a really nice restaurant with good food.

I know times change.  Restaurants come and go.  The Castle grew old and tired.  It was nothing really special any more toward the end.  I remember hideous and slow service during my last visit.  It really was too bad.  The "Castle" name had value.  It had meaning.  It stood for something.  It was squandered.

All it stands for now is a place where you don't want to be late at night.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Father Time

I think most people are aware of their own aging.  At my stage, you start looking at those retirement savings accounts a little more carefully.  You live and die with every stock market fluctuation.

I've always had a hard time wrapping my head around other people getting older.  Howard Stern has a new book, and the King of All Media has been on an interview blitz.

Stern is 65.

I remember sneaking out to my news car in the early 80's, while covering a homicide trial in Milford, to catch Stern on WNBC during court breaks.  That's a long time ago.

By the way, Stern is positioning himself as a kinder and gentler individual.  I hope he is sincere.  While the racier elements of his radio shows receive the vast majority of the attention, Stern is one of the best interviewers out there.  Fearless.

The other person's age that snuck up on me is Britney Spears.  She will be 38 in December!  38!  Now, 38 is not old, but it seems like yesterday that I was trying to get the attention of the control room crew at the old TV 22, 30 years ago,  while a Britney video was on one of the monitors.  It was a losing battle, and I understand why.  The woman lights up a screen.

Spears has had more than her share of problems over the years.  I hope her late 30's and beyond are kind to her.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Mr. Blue Sky

It doesn't take much these days.

We have been on such a string of rainy and chilly days, even a little bit of blue sky and sunshine sends people in to euphoria.

Yesterday, I had a busy morning.  There were several errands and a little shopping on the agenda, plus a dental check up.  All people wanted to talk about was the fact we were actually experiencing a partly sunny morning-- and it wasn't raining!

It has been an odd month.  Here it is, the middle of May, and I was walking around in a jacket, with the heat on in the car and in the house.  I usually have an air conditioner or two stuffed in to windows by now.

I just hope it's not a rapid trip in to summer.  Spring is a great time of year-- warm, but not hot.  Clear, with none of that summer haze and humidity.

Regardless, just be happy we had a dry day.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Six Days

The Pennsylvania Primary is six days away, and I have to admit, I expected a little more out of this year's campaigns.

There have been flashes of contention, like the Lackawanna County Commissioners race and Wayne County District Attorney.  The Wilkes-Barre mayor's contest has been surprisingly quiet.  The same goes for most others.

My fear is a quiet campaign will translate in to low turnout Tuesday.  I hope that is not the case, but off year elections usually mean most people stay home.

Prove me wrong.  Vote Tuesday.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

I Nearly Cried

The planet is out of balance this morning and spinning wildly in an odd direction.

Above is the logo KYW radio in Philadelphia used for a very long time, and there was nothing wrong with it.  It was bold and strong.  The font is called "anklepants."  It was a hold over from the Westinghouse days, when just about all its radio and TV properties used the same font.

There is something you have to understand.  If you were a radio news guy, like I was for many years, KYW was THE radio station.  It had a great sound and covered the Delaware Valley like a blanket.  I remember looking, in awe, at one of its news vans while I was covering an election night in Philadelphia in the 80's.

Imagine my horror when I discovered last week that KYW changed its logo to what you see below.
I wept.

My beloved anklepants font is gone, replaced by a bland and lower case font.  I despise lower case fonts.  It says "weak."

KYW also updated its legendary jingle, and it's actually pretty good.

I will fully admit the following:  I'm a geek and I'm probably the only person in America who cares about this.  Also, all that counts is what comes out of the speaker, and KYW continues to put out an outstanding product, day after day.

I'm not arguing with the need to modernize.  Freshening up is not a bad thing.  Radio stations are de-emphasizing their frequencies these days because so many people listen on smart phones and smart speakers, like amazon's Echo.

I want my anklepants.

Monday, May 13, 2019

Learning

Last week's Teacher Appreciation Day started a long and bizarre thought process.  It brought me back to perhaps the best question ever on the old TV game show "TattleTales."  It was "Have you learned more from your successes or your failures?"

Of course, a few good teachers popped in to my head.  More bad ones came to mind.  Unmotivated.  Bitter.  They seemed to hate their jobs.  Maybe, in a way, those bad teachers helped me more than I realized.  I pushed myself to learn, in spite of having to drag myself in to their classrooms every day.  They might have been failures as teachers, but I learned anyway.

I really do feel sorry for teachers today.  Schools can be joy-less places with paranoia and all that security.  Yes, we do need it, and I get that.  We live in frightening times.  It's a challenge to keep kids happy and engaged when there are armed officers at the doors.

Of course, a good teacher is worth his or her weight in gold, and I do realize it's a brutal profession.  To the good ones, thank you.  You know who you are.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Andy's Angles: The Square

There have been many Wilkes-Barre Public Square photos in this space over the years.  After all, it is one of my favorite places.

This one was taken Monday morning.  What inspired me for another shot?  There was actually blue sky and sunshine, things that have been in short supply in recent days.

Enjoy!

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Andy's Angles: the Miners

King's College has a Miners' Memorial tucked in to a little space between what used to be the Sheraton Crossgates and what used to be the Pomeroy's department store building.  It's easy to miss, but it's worth checking out.
I have no problems with memorials to the men who worked in the mine, and the women who ran the households while the men were working long hours in horrible conditions.  In fact, there should be more memorials.

It drives me insane when people are in favor of naming local sports teams "The Miners."  It reinforces every negative stereotype about the area.  NewsFlash:  The mines are closed.   The coal barons abused the environment and the people.   There is a way, time and place to honor the sacrifice the miners made, and this is a great example of how it should be done.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Horse Sense

I've been sitting on this one for nearly a week, watching the video over and over, listening to the experts on the radio.

Maximum Security crossed the finish line first in last week's Kentucky Derby, but it was disqualified.  Maximum Security, it was determined, drifted out of its lane and interfered with other horses.  Country House was given the win.

After looking at the video, yes, Maximum Security did appear to drift a bit.  Did it rise to the point of interference?  I didn't think so, and I would not have disqualified the horse.

It did take stones to DQ Maximum Security, and it was the first in the 145 year history of the Kentucky Derby.

In my view, you really needed a convincing case to make the change, and I just didn't see it.