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Sunday, June 30, 2019

Andy's Angles: Welcome

I really hope the Iron Horse Movie Bistro in downtown Scranton makes it.  Movie theaters add a lot of life to a downtown.

There has always been something about the design that bugs me.

The place looks dead.  Always.
For years the corner at Penn and Lackawanna has been large sheets of silver corrugated metal.  This week, they were painted black with movie theater items applied in white.

It's a nice try, but...

It's not enough.  The corner needs light, and color, and a marquee to show you what's playing inside and when.

It's an improvement.  Keep going.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Andy's Angles: Shredded First Impressions

You only get one chance at a first impression, and this beauty is right across the street from the intermodal transportation center and the entrance to Steamtown on Lackawanna Avenue in downtown Scranton.

Are there more important things than replacing or removing a shredded and torn banner?  Likely.

I just have a feeling visitors to Steamtown will look at this and feel they're entering a shabby city.

Little things can mean a lot.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Media Friday

Bob Ley is retiring after 40 years at ESPN.  He was sports without the schtick, and I miss that approach.

ABC's summer game shows are producing solid ratings, and that makes me happy, even though I still think the "Card Sharks" pacing is glacial and the game is flawed.

I know I've said this before, but I've been catching some old games on the NFL Network.  Has there ever been a team as good as Summerall and Madden?

If someone has the answer, I'd love to hear it, but ten presidential candidates on a debate stage is far too many.  There has to be a better way.

Forbes reports the retooled CBS morning show is down 21 per cent in the ratings.  Any new cast needs time to gel with the audience.

Perry Mason was an incredible attorney.

Someone has been posting clips of David Letterman's short lived morning show on YouTube.  It was funny back then.  Still funny now.

Max Wright, Willie Tanner from TV's "Alf," died this week.  75.  Great character.  Great work.  Wright was also the TV station manager in the brilliant Dabney Coleman sitcom "Buffalo Bill."

I was listening to the radio when there was that big explosion in Philadelphia.  KYW ruled, and it's everything radio should be.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Mike Wallace



A new documentary on Mike Wallace is on the way, one of the most fascinating people ever to appear on a television screen.

There was a long history before "60 Minutes" in 1968. He did commercials, game shows and a interview show before landing at CBS News.

There was a personal battle with depression and the loss of a son.

Mike Wallace anchored the "CBS Morning News" in the mid 60's and called it the longest two years of his life.

Mike Wallace helped define investigating journalism, and he threw in a little show business as well.

I'm really looking forward to seeing it.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

There's Hope

Long story short...

WEEU, AM 830 in Reading is owned by the local newspaper.  The paper filed for bankruptcy protection.  A company stepped in to buy the newspaper, but not the radio station, and there was a really strong chance that WEEU was going off the air.

That would have been tragic.  WEEU is the heritage station in the community, and if memory serves, that's where WARM legend Harry West got his start.  I hate to see communities lose a voice, and judging by its web site, WEEU did a fair amount of local programming.

There was an auction last week.  WEEU went for $88,500.  The buyer is a western Pennsylvania company that owns a handful of small town radio stations.  The new owner says there will be minimal changes.  I smiled, and I haven't been doing much of that lately.

The new company, Twilight, takes over June 30, when the newspaper sale kicks in.

WEEU, live long and prosper.

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.