Thursday, June 30, 2016

Match Game

ABC has a Sunday night summer game show block going.

I reviewed the $ 100,000 Pyramid the other day.  Today, it's the most interesting of the three:  Match Game.

There are a lot of good things here.  The first one is the theme.  It's the one from the 70's run.  How could you not be happy when you hear that music?  The set looks great.  It's based on the 70's show, but with modern touches.

New host Alec Baldwin isn't bad, but he has to dump the scripted quips and be more spontaneous.

The word "celebrity" is used loosely here.  Of the six on the opening night panel, I recognized only two:  Rosie O'Donnell and Debra Messing.  Rosie is the new Richard Dawson, the one on the panel with the most common sense, the easiest one to match, the one contestants want for the big money Super Match.  If that isn't enough, Rosie has fun but still takes the game seriously.

Match Game isn't perfect.  Far from it.  It seems producers went the Family Feud route-- dumb it down, dirty it up.  It's disappointing, but I guess that's just television in the new millennium.   Plus, so much of the game depends on dumb luck-- picking the easiest of the two questions per round.

It proves that Match Game can work on TV again, even without the stars, host and chemistry that made the 70's version work.  A few of you might remember a 1999 revival that lasted only one season in syndication.  It was beyond awful.

ABC says the Sunday night Feud, Pyramid, Match Game block debuted to strong ratings.  if it stays that way, look for more games on prime time, and it beats a lot of the stuff you see there now.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

He Killed Me

I was watching an old Johnny Carson show on WNEP2/Antenna TV the other night.  One of his guests was Rod Hull.

To refresh your memory, Hull's act was a scream.  He walked around with a giant emu puppet under his arm.  The emu was always on the testy side, and it attacked everyone in sight, including Carson and his other guest that night, Richard Pryor.

Hull was British.  He had two TV shows in England, but he was a frequent sight on American talk and variety shows for a while in the 80's and 90's.  I loved the act.

As I was watching Carson, I started wondering whatever happened to Rod Hull.  Why has he disappeared?  Why do I no longer see him and the emu?

An internet search provided a quick and easy answer.  Hull died in 1999.  He fell from a roof while trying to adjust a television antenna.

Dang, he was funny.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016


I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised.

ABC's summertime replacement show, The $ 100,000 Pyramid, made its debut Sunday night.

The first Pyramid, it was only $ 10,000 back then, goes back to 1973.

ABC did a really nice job with this one.  The set has been updated, obviously, but several elements are still true to the original.  ABC didn't gimmick it up.  As opposed to recent versions, the boxes on the pyramid board are mechanical.  They actually spin to reveal a television screen with the subject.  I loved it.

Host Michael Strahan might have been the biggest surprise of all.  He moves the game along without being one of those hosts who thinks and acts like he's bigger than the game.

Night one wasn't perfect.  It appears the game has been dumbed down.  It was way too easy.  One of the opening celebrities was Anthony Anderson, who was simply awful.  Didn't the producers test celebrities first?   It's one of the things that doomed the recent pyramid revival that was on GSN.  The celebrities didn't know how to play the game.

If the ratings during the summer run show promise, I wouldn't be surprised to see the $ 100,000 back next summer, or even a new syndicated version.  There's a lot of potential here.

I'll get around to ABC's new Match Game one day down the road.

Monday, June 27, 2016

The Logical Song

My job is never dull, and every once in a while, something comes along that defies analysis.

Case in point:  early yesterday morning.  There was a crash on the Casey Highway in Dunmore, right at that tangle where the Casey meets Interstates 81, 84 and 380.  A car flipped and rolled.  But, there were no victims.  There wasn't even a car.  I sent photographer Erich to check it out.

As luck would have it, the car rolled three times and landed on its wheels.  The driver and his passenger were unhurt.  The driver told Erich that he didn't want to call,  and couldn't afford to pay for a tow truck, so he decided to drive the car home to Carbondale.

I should add the driver also told us he's had the car only four days, and he just had the brakes re-done.  He should ask for a refund on those brakes.

There were some flaws in the "drive it home" plan.  You can see the shattered windshield.  Visibility was near zero.  Here is the big fly in the ointment.  One of the tires was shredded in the initial crash.

Let's try to figure this one out.  It's the cost of a tow truck versus the cost of the damage inflicted by driving on three tires and one wheel.  I would have called the tow truck.  The driver took the other route.

State Police caught up with the damaged car at Archbald.  Friends came to change the tire.  Police told the driver he could limp home as long as the headlights worked.  They did.  I should also point out that the driver had not been drinking.

Police and first responders said this was a new one on them.  Me too.

The story lit up Twitter and Facebook.

I love my job.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Andy's Angles: Skyline

A couple thoughts on this shot...

Proof it's been dry lately.  This creek comes down off the mountain and runs through McDade Park in Scranton.  The coal mine museum is at my back, and I'm looking to the east.  The creek can be rather active.  On this day, it was barely flowing.

Scranton doesn't have much of a skyline.  It's not a knock.  It's no one's fault.  That's just the way it is.  There just aren't that many large recognizable buildings.  If you look carefully, you can see St. Ann's Basilica in the middle of the photo.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Andy's Angles: The Critter

I was walking along a trail at McDade Park a couple of weeks ago, when I heard a rustling in the bushes behind me.

I turned around to see a ground hog.  Or was it a wood chuck?  We stared at each other for a moment.  He posed for a picture, then realized I was no threat.  He must have said "It's just another dweeb with a camera."  He then scurried back in his home.

That's it.  End of adventure.

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Holland Tunnel

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, there!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thinking Out Loud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Spinning Out of Control

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tuesday Scrapple

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, June 20, 2016

No Thanks

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

Another one just finished a multi part OJ Simpson documentary.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Not this time.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Andy's Angles: McDade Park

Another one from McDade Park in Scranton...

It was a beautiful day up there. 

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

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

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

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Andy's Angles: Miners

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

Above is the miners' memorial near the entrance.

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

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

Friday, June 17, 2016


Today is my 18th anniversary at WNEP.

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

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

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

Thank you.

I'll see you tomorrow.

Thursday, June 16, 2016


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

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

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

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

TTTT was always one of my favorites, as well.

Until now.

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, June 15, 2016


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Jim Miller

Former WBRE sports director Jim Miller died over the weekend.  He was 74.

In a Sunday morning Tweet, I noted that Jim was a "class act."  I really didn't like that phrase, but Twitter limits you to 140 characters and you have to write really tight.

Jim's class wasn't an "act."  It was genuine.  It's why he was liked.  It's why he was respected.  It's why he stayed in one place for 18 years, in a business that's known for its revolving doors.

Our paths crossed several times over the years.  It was always pleasant.  Jim knew sports.  He had that gravitas, but he also knew how to have a little bit of fun along the way.

I'm not going to say I knew him well, but I did know him a little, and what I saw, I liked.

Jim Miller contributed a lot to sports in our area-- liked and respected by high school athletes, their parents, coaches, and viewers.

My deepest condolences to Jim's family and friends, and the staff at WBRE.

Monday, June 13, 2016

A Reminder

Tomorrow is Flag Day, an overlooked and often neglected holiday.

As you can see, Lackawanna County has something going on tomorrow.  Stop by if you're in the neighborhood.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Andy's Angles: The Valley

This is a view of the Lackawanna Valley from the overlook along the Casey Highway between Carbondale and Jermyn.

The view is off to the west, with the Scranton area on the left.

Other than trees, you can't see much.  But then again, there is nothing wrong with trees.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Andy's Angles: Carbondale

It was a busy week, and not in a particularly good way.  I had only a few minutes to do a little camera exploring.

Andy's Angles has been rather Scranton-centric lately, so I headed north to Carbondale.

Yes, parts of the city need a lot of work, but the place does have its charm.

This is city hall, from the park across the street.

We're in that time of year between Memorial Day and Independence Day.  It's a time to celebrate All American cities like Carbondale.

Friday, June 10, 2016


Last week, it was the skunks who joined me on my moonlight bike ride.  This week, it was the bunnies.

To get you up to speed, I work all night and sleep all day.  I keep the same schedule on my days off.  It's easier that way.  As the years accumulated, the adjustment and readjustment became more difficult.

First of all, I nearly blew off the bike ride.  While it was above my 50 degree cut off, the wind was rather frisky.  I love to ride, so I bundled up and headed out, anyway.  I'm glad I did.

It didn't take long for me to warm up.  The streets were deserted, except for rabbits in yards and a couple crossing the street.  By the way, you can really hear their claws/nails scratch the pavement as they scurry to get away.

They are adorable animals.  There is no one set way to react to the goof on the bike pedaling down the street.  Some freeze.  Others scamper.  It makes no difference.  I'm not a threat.  If there are any rabbits reading this, relax.  I am your friend.

You encounter quite the menagerie when you're out early in the morning.  I've seen deer, opossum, rabbits, skunks and dozens of alley cats.  No squirrels or chipmunks.  They must be normal, and sleep at night.

I don't get hung up on cool weather, but I do marvel how quickly things change around here.  Last week, I rode in shorts and a tee shirt.  This week, it was sweats and a fleece lined nylon jacket-- like I wore during the winter. I'd really like to go back to the shorts and tee shirt.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Drink Up

The state has taken some steps to modernize its beer and alcohol system.

The legislature passed a bill Tuesday.  The next day, the governor signed it.

Note:  I have no problem with the responsible use of alcohol.

The bill's highlights include longer hours at state stores, wine in supermarkets, beer at more mini marts and gas stations, and casino alcohol 24/7.

The governor hopes the moves add money to the state's coffers.  Maybe.  Some.  Casinos will have to pay for the 24/7 privilege.  It's not cheap.

As for the rest...

I could be very wrong, but I always thought alcohol was one of those products where people spend X amount.  The change comes in where the money is divided and spent.  Supermarkets will see more cash.  State stores won't.  It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

I sense this is more of a consumer convenience issue than a revenue issue.  Convenience is nice, but I never thought going to another store in the same plaza for a bottle of wine was a big deal.  But then again, I'm not a wine drinker.

I have to wonder how police departments in casinos' host communities fell about the 24/7 alcohol thing.  Will it mean more drunks on the road?  Will police departments complain, even though their communities get a lot of money from casinos?

To say the least, the next several months will be fascinating.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

M + D

My alma mater has done it again.

The Marywood University student news site, The Wood Word, is out with its annual report card on the state of the university.

It's a well written, well thought out piece.  The good, bad and ugly are there for all to see.

The bottom line is the students give their university a D grade.

Okay.  That's all well and good.  Marywood has some issues.  The incoming president knows that.  She's made no secret about it.  There are financial problems, morale problems and more.

As I noted in last week's Hazleton Cops blog entry, the way to fix a problem is to shed some light on it, expose it, talk about it.

But, for every yin, there is a yang.

I have this picture in my mind.  It's a high school junior, soon to become a senior, sitting at a desk at home, Googling potential colleges and universities.  He or she comes across the Wood Word editorial and sees the D.  The student asks the question, "Why would I want to go there?"

The same goes for high school guidance counselors.  Could a guidance counselor, in good conscience, steer a student toward a school where its own students give it a D?

I do not regret my time at Marywood, and the recent spell of major problems make me sad, even though I'm not an active alumnus.  Solving the problems won't be an overnight thing.  It could take years.  I just wonder if there will be enough students to look past the D and give the place a shot.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Media Notes

The CBS Evening News has a new theme song.  It's good, but not as good as the one it replaced.  CBS went back to its classic theme after the Katie Couric debacle, and I loved it.

I wish ABC would go back to a more classic treatment of its theme.  Those first four notes were attention getting, and you knew the news was on.  The power of the four note signature is really lessened in the current version.  By the way, ABC Radio News does it the right way.

You might be saying , "Hey, it's only a theme song."  Wrong.  It's part of your brand, like the golden arches at McDonald's and Coke's red cans.

Tony Kornheiser is giving up his Washington, DC radio show at the end of the month.  I listened most days.  It's become rather self indulgent recently, but it was still better than most things out there.  Kornheiser was on an all sports station, but the topics frequently veered off into politics, media and pop culture.  Kornheiser says he's starting a podcast in September.

Speaking of podcasts, some co-workers have tried to get me interested.  I guess there's some pretty good stuff out there.  I'll give the Kornheiser show a try.  I'm an old radio guy and a podcast is not radio.  it seems like Kornheiser is following a trend.  More artists want to control their own material-- and they want freedom.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump went off on the media last week.  I don't have a problem with that.  If Trump feels he was treated wrongly and unfairly, he should speak up.  The same goes for anyone else.  There's an old saying that you should never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel, and there's some wisdom in that.  Still, suffering in silence is wrong.

We're in to "hurricane season."  The Weather Channel produces some solid information.  However, theatrics and showboating really detract from it.

Verne Lundquist steps away from SEC football on CBS after this season.  Great voice.  Great delivery.  He knows the game is the star.  Lundquist helped a lot of color analysts learn the business.  Lundquist was teamed with Terry Bradshaw when Bradshaw retired and was new to CBS.  Bradshaw can't say enough nice things about the guy.  Contrast that with the sainted Vin Scully, who works alone on baseball. He blew the chance at being the number one CBS football guy because he talked too much.

Brad Nessler replaces Lundquist starting in the fall of 2017.  A few newspapers delivered a swift kick to Nessler last week.  The assertion is that Nessler can't generate excitement.  I understand where the writers are coming from.  Nessler is no Lundquist, but he's solid.

Would Muhammad Ali have been as big without Howard Cosell?  I did enjoy looking at all that old video over the weekend.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Color Blind

Even though technology frightens me a bit, I'm a sucker for anything new.

Case in point:  light bulbs.

I switched to compact fluorescents before the boom hit, and while they were still expensive.

I then jumped over to LED's, even though they won't pay for themselves via energy saving until after I'm dead.

I generally like them.  You get a lot of light for a low energy cost.  Still, there is that big up front cost, but it is slowly coming down.

Here is my problem.  And, maybe it's a combination of new bulbs and older eyes, but I have an issue discerning navy blue from black.

On a recent weekend, before work, I selected what I thought was a navy suit, along with a light blue shirt and red tie.  When I got to work, I discovered the suit was actually black.  It didn't go well with the light blue shirt and red tie, and I felt uncomfortable throughout the entire broadcast.

I try my best.  I look at my clothing selections in different lights-- daylight, flashlight, fluorescent, LED.  Sorry, there are no incandescent bulbs left in the house.

I think it's going to come down to sticking a note in the pocket, noting the correct color.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

What's In a Name?

It became official Tuesday morning.  The Mall at Steamtown is now The Marketplace at Steamtown.

"Mall" has become a four letter word these days (ha!).  Strip centers, lifestyle plazas, and the internet have taken their toll.

The mall has been under a new owner for about one year now.  He's tried new things, like adding a gym and a college campus.  Lighting is improved.  There's a new paint job.  More improvements are promised.

Let's take a look at why the previous owner failed to fill the place.  I don't think is was hard to figure out.  Parking garage lighting was awful.  Kids were hanging out in front.  The place started looking run down.  People didn't feel safe.  Stores started leaving.  The dominoes tumbled, and outside of Boscov's, there was no reason to go there.  On top of that, other shopping centers did it better.  Viewmont stayed competitive and contemporary.  New stores and restaurants entered the mix.  The Shoppes at Montage offered more options in retail and dining.

The name "Mall at Steamtown" had the stench of failure on it.  A new name won't help a great deal until all those vacancies are filled.  It won't hurt.  It's just refreshing to see someone try to make it all work.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Blowing Off Steam

It is the engine that put the steam back in Steamtown.

Restoration work on an old Baldwin was recently completed, and the engine was dedicated last month.  They did a great job, and it's a joy to watch.
Steamtown's web site says it was built in 1929.  It arrived in Scranton in 1990.  Google the restoration work.  It's a fascinating story.  It took a lot to get this thing up and running again.

I love the olive green paint, which the experts say was the original color when it rolled out of the factory in Delaware County, PA.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Black and White

I like skunks.  I really do.  They're cute little creatures, with a funny little gait.  I'm told no two are colored exactly alike.

As is noted here yearly, the first scent of skunk is the signal spring is approaching.

Yes, they do have some negatives.  They can tear up your trash pretty quickly.  They can destroy a lawn as they search for grubs.  And, by the way, they smell.

Now that the foundation has been laid, the reason for today's entry.  This appears to be a banner year for skunks.

The internet says most skunks are born in late May.  I suspect it was a little earlier this year because of the mild winter.  There are a heck of a lot of critters out there.

I do most of my bike riding by moonlight, and I have been seeing more skunks than cars this summer.  No problems.  They have the yards and trash cans.  I have the street.  Close encounters are non existent, but I know they're around, and vice versa.  They'll scurry away from curbside as I pedal a little faster to get out of spray range.

Why the population increase?  I really don't know.  Skunks begat skunks, like bunnies.  Predators?  It seems like more are taken out by Buicks than other animals.

I'll keep watching-- from a distance.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


The debate over producing segments for the TV "reality" show "Cops" in Hazleton is fascinating.

Producers and photographers have been in Hazleton for a short time now, after the mayor and police chief gave the green light.  The mayor said his intention is to show the good work of the Hazleton Police Department and how it's been effective in reducing crime.

Most people who attended a Tuesday night council meeting fear the wave of negative publicity they believe will follow.

Let's take a look at both sides of this.  If "Cops" goes away, does the crime stop?  No, it doesn't.  And it can be argued that exposing a problem is the first step toward a solution.

Hazleton already has a somewhat tarnished image.  National exposure probably won't help things.  You get only one chance to make a first impression.  It can't be good if someone is introduced to Hazleton through "Cops."

FOX dumped "Cops" several years ago.  It's now on Spike.   It's not like the Hazleton crime issue is raised above the fold in the New York Times

I hasten to add that there is no such thing as "reality television."  Reality might be the starting point.  It veers in to entertainment pretty fast.  I'm not a "Cops" viewer.  Never have been.  I get crime, cops and robbers for a living.  I don't want to look at it during my time off.

Through it all, I keep coming back to one thing.  "Cops" has been around since 1989.  If the producers didn't give police departments a fair shake, police wouldn't cooperate and the show would die.

If it's fair, why complain?  Unfortunately, this is television, and you won't be able to judge "fair" until after the segments air late this year and early 2017.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

About the Cover

It doesn't happen often, but there is occasionally some down time during morning news live shots.  After one, and before the start of another, I looked up while on Courthouse Square in downtown Scranton.  It was a huge full moon over North Washington Avenue, slightly obscured by hazy clouds and a little humidity.

Quiet street.  Just a few street lights.  No activity.  It all added up to an interesting shot.

I should add that one can wander around Courthouse Square very early the morning and feel fairly safe.  It's rare in a city.